Friday, 26 August 2011

The Passing Of A legend And A Friend - John T. McAleese

It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the passing of our adjunct instructor, warrior, friend, colleague, and mentor John T. McAleese.

John is a legendry member of the SAS and will always be remembered for his actions at the Iranian Embassy siege in 1980; where millions watched as the SAS stormed the building. But, John was much more. He was a teacher, a consummate professional, a father and a friend.

Our thoughts and our prayers are with his family and friends. We hope he is now at peace and with his son Paul. 

God bless you John and Rest in Peace, Brother.

The CTTA Team

"A tribute to one of Britain's true heroes. John McAleese (aka Mac) served in 
Her Majesty's Armed Forces for 22 years with 15 of these being in the SAS". 
-John McAleese Appreciation Society Facebook Group

Calderon: Mexico Casino Fire Deaths "Act Of Terrorism"

MEXICO CITY — Calling a deadly fire at a casino “an act of terrorism,” Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his top law enforcement officials vowed Friday to capture the gangsters responsible for the deaths of 52 people who perished in a fire set by gunmen at the Casino Royale in Monterrey.

Security cameras captured images of a dozen assailants pulling up in four vehicles to the front doors of the casino, spilling out of their trucks and cars in mid-afternoon and entering the entertainment complex, which offers bingo and betting on sports and horse racing.
As casino customers are seen quickly rushing from the front doors, some of the gunmen stand watching by their cars. They did not appear to wearing masks, and with computer enhancements, the license plates numbers of their vehicles would likely be readable.

Within two minutes and 30 seconds of their arrival, black smoke and flames appear in the security video and the gunmen are seen rapidly leaving and driving away.
The Casino Royale is the third such establishment targeted this month in northern Mexico. On Wednesday night, gunmen attacked the Caliente Casino in Saltillo, following a similar attack on Aug. 15 against the Sun City casino there.

The industrial and business-oriented city of Monterrey was previously free from Mexico’s crime and murder wave, but in the past year the city has seen its homicide rates soar, as organized crime and drug gangs attack each other and police, and prey upon businesses in extortion rackets.
The governor of the state of Nuevo León in northern Mexico said at a press conference Friday morning the Monterrey fire was ignited by "a group of people linked to organized crime," but did not specify what group or if there were any links to Mexico’s drug trafficking organizations.

Gov. Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz put the official death toll at 52 and said that most of the victims appeared to have died of smoke inhalation and burns from the fire — and not from gunshots. The governor said that 13 eyewitnesses to the attack had been interviewed.
Wearing a black suit and tie as a sign of mourning, President Calderon said Friday morning that the country was “facing real terrorists who know no limits.
"We have to fight even more forcefully. They can not be allowed to own our streets, our cities," Calderon said.
In his remarks, Calderon also blamed the United States. The Mexican president called on Congress, the U.S. government and citizens to reflect on the tragedy and see that the insatiable consumption of drugs “involving millions and millions of Americans” fueled the criminal gangs in Mexico with billions of dollars in profits.
"This drug consumption should be reduced drastically, and if that is not possible, the United States must work at least to prevent the transfer of the dollars to Mexico," Calderon said.

Calderon, however, did not identify what drug smuggling cartel might have been involved in the fire.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation. Some witnesses reported that the attackers threw grenades into the Casino Royale in Monterrey, while others said gasoline bombs started the fire.
The flames trapped customers and staff in the building. A survivor told the Mexico City newspaper Reforma that many of the dead were crushed to death in a stampede for the emergency exits.

Video: Marine Corps Times interviews Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient

Marine Corps Times interviews Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient

GREENSBURG, Ky. — It has been a long journey.

Dakota Meyer will receive the Medal of Honor on Sept. 15, two years after he braved enemy fire multiple times in Afghanistan in attempt to save fellow U.S. service members in Ganjgal, Afghanistan. He made it out of the valley alive, and they didn’t. It’s a tough situation to digest.

Marine Corps Times readers know the story well by now — various aspects of it have led me to write three cover stories since early last year, including a profile on Meyer.

With the White House announcement now official, however, I made my way down to Meyer’s hometown this week with staff photographer Chris Maddaloni.

We met him at his grandparents’ farm Tuesday in this rural town of 2,500 people, sitting in their living room to discuss the battle, its aftermath and how he handles all the attention. An excerpt of the interview is available here:

We’ll have a lot more in next week’s print edition of Marine Corps Times, but I thought it was worth sharing some personal observations here.

Meyer has taken the time to do at least 20 interviews since the White House’s announcement — a heavy workload that must be both monotonous and exhausting. Still, he sits dutifully, answering questions from reporters — some of whom clearly haven’t done their research and ask dumb questions, based on a quick Google search.

Meyer still loves to crack jokes, and clearly has a great relationship with his grandparents, Dwight and Jean Meyer. Married 58 years, they’re planning to fly to Washington for the ceremony. They proudly shared their recollection of the Korean War, which Dwight served in as a Marine. His haircut is still squared away, snow-white hair and all.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Anti-Terror Program 'Kept New York Safe,' - NYPD

The NYPD and CIA sent undercover agents to watch mosques, bookstores and cafés in Muslim neighborhoods to sniff out terror plots - a tactic cops say helped them thwart seven planned attacks.
The Daily News largely confirmed the details of an Associated Press report revealing the existence of what it called the NYPD's Demographic Unit, which uses "mosque crawlers" to gather information.

Critics charge the operation to gather intel on the city's imams, cabbies and street-meat sellers blurs the line between foreign and domestic spying and stretches legal limits on racial profiling.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne blasted the AP story, saying it was "marked by outright fiction," and insisting there's no such thing as "mosque crawlers."
Browne said cops did nothing wrong in their efforts to combat terrorism - and foiled some major plots in the process.
"We're going to do all we reasonably can to keep New York safe," he said. "And we uphold the Constitution in doing so."
He said there have been at least 13 major plots against New York since 9/11 and pointed to seven cases in which information from the NYPD's Intelligence Unit helped nab would-be terrorists.

"We commit over a thousand officers to the fight every day to stop terrorists who've demonstrated an undiminished appetite to come back and kill more New Yorkers," Browne said.
"We don't apologize for it."
City Councilman Peter Vallone, head of the Public Safety Committee, was even more blunt.
"Maybe they should infiltrate a few sewing clubs, just to be politically correct?" he asked rhetorically. "Clearly, they are going where they reasonably believe terrorist activity could be."
One source said the department has deep undercovers who live as members of different communities to keep a constant watch for danger.
Top cop taps CIA veteran
The counterrorism operation was started by CIA veteran David Cohen, who was tapped in 2002 by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who thought the 9/11 attacks proved the NYPD could no longer rely on the feds to protect the city.
Cohen and another agency veteran, Larry Sanchez, created an operation inside the NYPD with spies and analysts and an unprecedented international scope. The AP said Sanchez stayed on the CIA payroll while maintaining offices at Police Headquarters and the CIA station in New York.
The revelations of surveillance of New York's Muslim community reignited the verbal battle about freedom versus security, one that has been smoldering since 9/11.
"The question we should all have is whether the NYPD is operating a domestic CIA - but without the oversight or regulations that hold it in check," said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
"You call the U.S. a free country and you do this?" asked Shahid Malick, 28, a Pakistani cabbie from Bay Ridge.
"From now on, I can't feel safe in my own mosque because someone might be sitting behind me spying."
But Saleem Akbar, 58, a fabric store owner who is the unofficial mayor of Midwood's large Pakistani community, said the cops are trying to protect everyone in the city.

"They are doing it for your children and my children. I don't mind even if they are doing it secretly. If someone is hatching a conspiracy, they are hiding it from me, too. I want them found out," Akbar said.
"U.S. security comes first. I don't care if they are doing it in mosques. I don't care if they are doing it in airports. I'm glad they are doing it."
The AP said arrests for even minor crimes could become leverage to persuade someone to become an informant and young Middle Eastern men are singled out for extra questioning.
Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he's confident the department is abiding by the Constitution.
"I don't see civil rights abuses," King said.
"Everyone was critical of law enforcement after 9/11 for not thinking out of the box. The NYPD is getting the job done."
One source familiar with the NYPD counterterror operations said the only way to root out jihadists is to hang out where they might be.
"If you're looking for the IRA, you don't go to Katz's Deli  - you go to an Irish pub," the source said.
The cases against Shahawar Matin Siraj, who was found guilty in 2006 of plotting to bomb the subway, and the two men arrested at Kennedy Airport on their way to join terrorists in Somalia, were developed in such a manner.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

NYPD Intelligence Unit Seen Pushing Rights Limits

by NPR Staff

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the New York Police Department has become one of America's most aggressive gatherers of domestic intelligence. Its intelligence unit, directed by a retired CIA veteran, dispatches undercover officers to keep tabs on ethnic neighborhoods — sometimes in areas far outside their jurisdiction.

The existence of the Intelligence Division & Counter-Terrorism Bureau has been public knowledge, but many of its operations were kept secret. An investigation by the Associated Press has uncovered new details about how the unit, led by Deputy Commissioner David Cohen, works.

"The lesson of 9/11 to the NYPD was, 'We can't just can't sit back and let the federal government tell us how to keep us safe or what intelligence we need to know or who might be after us,'" AP reporter Matt Apuzzo tells Morning Edition guest host David Greene. "We need to take responsibility for this ourselves, and we're going to go to wherever we need to go to get this information."

Interview Highlights: David Greene talks with the AP's Matt Apuzzo:

On intelligence operations

"What's new here is just how close a relationship the NYPD has with the Central Intelligence Agency. And because of that relationship, the NYPD has been allowed to expand its intelligence gathering in ways that go far beyond what any other police department in the country can do."

On 'rakers' and 'crawlers'

"They have teams of undercover officers, they're known as rakers, who basically just troll ethnic neighborhoods. One officer described it as mapping the human terrain of New York. They also have informants known as mosque crawlers, who as the name implies, just sort of hang out in mosques, being the eyes and ears of the police department in mosques.

On legality

"If the FBI had an informant in a mosque, without information about a crime being committed, that would seem to violate the federal privacy act, which says the federal government can't collect or maintain information specifically related to First Amendment activities" without specific cause.

On a lack of scrutiny

"The New York Police Department is our largest police department in the country. They get a lot of money from the federal government. There's not a lot of discussion about whether New Yorkers have given up any privacy or civil liberties in exchange for security. And because there's not a lot of oversight, I don't think New Yorkers actually know whether they've given up privacy and liberty in exchange for security."

On public sentiment

"Almost every person we interviewed said, 'Look, this is exactly what you need. This is what has to happen to keep New York safe. And if we don't do it, we're not doing our jobs. And New Yorkers won't accept another attack. They will accept this, because it's what has to be done."

On tactics

"They're being creative in ways that come right up against the line of what the federal government or other police departments either can do, or feel comfortable doing."

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

SAS troopers help co-ordinate rebel attacks in Libya

The serving soldiers have joined British special forces and have been acting as forward air controllers and advising on tactics

The Guardian has learned that a number of serving British special forces soldiers, as well as former SAS troopers, are advising and training rebel forces, although their presence is officially denied.

The Guardian has previously reported the presence of former British special forces troops, now employed by private security companies and funded by a number of sources, including Qatar. They have been joined by a number of serving SAS soldiers.
They have been acting as forward air controllers – directing pilots to targets – and communicating with Nato operational commanders. They have also been advising rebels on tactics, a task they have not found easy.

For the SAS it is a return to old stamping grounds. In one of their first successful missions in the second world war, they attacked airfields inLibya, destroying 60 aircraft. SAS battle honours include Tobruk in 1941 and a raid on Benghazi in 1942.
They returned to Libya in February this year, even before the UN mandate urging states to protect civilians from Gaddafi's forces. Shortly afterwards, a group of SAS soldiers were seized, though quickly released, by nervous rebels south of Benghazi when their Chinook helicopter landed two MI6 officers with communications equipment.
SAS soldiers later advised Misrata-based rebel forces who secured the port city and helped to pass on details of the locations of Gaddafi's forces to British commanders in the UK and the Naples headquarters of Canadian commander of Nato forces, Lt Gen Charles Bouchard.

In what is hoped to be the endgame in the Libyan conflict and the fight to oust Gaddafi, a number of SAS soldiers are now advising the rebels as they storm the capital, Tripoli.
France is understood to have deployed special forces in Libya and Qatari and Jordanian special forces are believed to have also played a role.