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Militant Islam Monitor > Satire > Disinformation as non violent terrorism : NYC attack warning "was hoax" Iraqi informant "appears to have dissappeared or be hiding "

Disinformation as non violent terrorism : NYC attack warning "was hoax" Iraqi informant "appears to have dissappeared or be hiding "

October 12, 2005

MIM: Iraqis who want to subvert America and cost the country billions in lost revenue and security staff salaries could soon corner the market on 'non violent terrorism' i by sparking false terror alerts causing disruption in services and businesses. The bogus informant, who most likely was paid for his 'misinformation' before it panned out , will just be one out of a limitless pool of scammers trying to make a fast buck, and then sitting back to enjoy the chaos and media circus which he crated a world away.

Either way it's a lose lose situation, ignore potential threats as not credible or act on them if there is even a minute chance they could be.

On the other hand, the potential inundation of threat warnings,by a fledging disinformation industry, could paralyze every major city in the country for days and hours at a time costing millions in lost revenue and fraying the nerves of citizens having to undergo delays and searchs while trying to go about their daily business.

Security officials are now saying that he 'details' of the fabricated terrorism plot were cobbled together out of several actual terrorism scenarios.

"...This was a planned attack that had a specific time and target and method," Bloomberg said. "It was the first really serious allegation of a direct attack on this city" since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he said.

Several U.S. intelligence officials said that once it became clear that none of the informant's claims about New York could be corroborated, authorities began exploring the possibility that he had invented the story to curry favor or receive financial rewards.

Some counterterrorism experts noted last week that elements of the alleged plot bore similarities to the July 7 subway bombings in London and the attempted July 21 attack there.

A U.S. government official also said that at least one Latin American militant group has been blamed for using a baby stroller in a terrorist attack and similar plans have been described in works of fiction..."

MIM: Now that the "dis"informant has "broken off communications by US intelligence agents" one is left with the nagging questions as to if the deliberate disinformation is simply the work of a hustler or was used to cause a real threat to be played down next time, in the hope that future warnings will be taken less seriously cause people to let down their guard.

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N.Y. Threat May Have Been a Hoax
Officials Say Iraqi Informant Disappeared; Alert Has Ended

By Dan Eggen and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 12, 2005; A03

The alleged threat that led to heightened security on New York subways last week may have been a hoax on the part of an Iraqi informant attempting to get money in exchange for information, U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials said yesterday.

The informant has since disappeared in Iraq, and the Defense Department has not been able to locate him, city and federal officials said.

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg described the informant's claims last week as the "most specific threat" ever received against the city's transit system, leading officials to issue a heightened terrorist alert and blanket the subways with police and National Guard troops.

U.S. troops in Iraq captured three suspects south of Baghdad who the informant said were involved in the alleged plot.

But none of the suspects, including two who were given polygraph examinations, corroborated the informant's allegations or appeared to have any connection to a terrorist plot, according to intelligence officials.

The city lifted the alert Monday after the time period identified by the informant passed without incident.

Officials with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security were highly skeptical of the threat from the beginning, though federal officials sought to play down any differences with New York authorities.

The informant, who approached U.S. authorities voluntarily in Baghdad in the past two weeks, detailed an alleged plot by about 20 international conspirators to attack the New York transit system over the weekend with bomb-laden suitcases, baby strollers and other items.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told reporters that the source of the threat information is not in U.S. custody. A military officer following the case said that the Iraqi informant has broken off communications with American intelligence agents.

"We don't seem to have contact with him at the present time," the officer said. "He appears to be in hiding or on the run."

Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke, who called the threat "noncredible" last week, declined to elaborate yesterday.

"The intelligence community has not found any evidence to substantiate the threat information," Knocke said. The FBI also declined to comment in detail.

Bloomberg, who is running for reelection in November, defended the city's decision to ratchet up security. At a news conference yesterday, he said officials had little choice but to respond to such a detailed claim.

"This was a planned attack that had a specific time and target and method," Bloomberg said. "It was the first really serious allegation of a direct attack on this city" since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he said.

Several U.S. intelligence officials said that once it became clear that none of the informant's claims about New York could be corroborated, authorities began exploring the possibility that he had invented the story to curry favor or receive financial rewards.

Some counterterrorism experts noted last week that elements of the alleged plot bore similarities to the July 7 subway bombings in London and the attempted July 21 attack there.

A U.S. government official also said that at least one Latin American militant group has been blamed for using a baby stroller in a terrorist attack and similar plans have been described in works of fiction.

Staff writer Bradley Graham

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Terror Intel at a local level -is it working ?

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1020/p02s01-ussc.html

Quick reactions to threats win praise, but unproven tip-offs pose worries.
By Alexandra Marks | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

NEW YORK The now incessant threat of terrorism is increasingly forcing local officials to develop a new skill set: intelligence analysis and threat assessment, tools that have traditionally been relegated to secretive, internationally oriented spy agencies.

As recent security scares in New York subways and Baltimore tunnels have shown, these skills are just as important for state governors and city transit police to have. Indeed, such abilities are necessary for the nation to build truly effective homeland-security defenses, some terrorism analysts contend

While that raises concerns about civil liberties, some experts say, they can be addressed in a way that protects individual privacy, as well as the community against terrorism.

"As we look out into the future, the most valuable information is not only going to come from the top down - where most of it's coming from now, from overseas - but also from the bottom up," says Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University. "We need to be sure that we don't just have the right communications and technology, but also the right training in terms of analysis."

This week, it was Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich's turn to judge the validity of intelligence. The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI informed him they were investigating a tip that some Egyptian-born men in the Baltimore area planned to blow up a main highway tunnel running beneath Baltimore's harbor using a truck packed with explosives. The information, they also noted, was not substantiated and may not have been credible.

Still, Governor Ehrlich, like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg just a week and a half earlier in response to an unsubstantiated subway threat, chose to act "with an abundance of caution." He shut down one tunnel, and part of another, and started searching trucks for explosives.

While some have second-guessed the wisdom of taking such dramatic and expensive security measures based on unsubstantiated information, many terrorism experts say that local officials have no choice but to act if there's even a "scintilla" of a chance that a threat might be credible.

"Anybody who says there's such a thing as 'actionable intelligence' has never seen intelligence," says Ron Marks, a former CIA operative. "Almost never in my 23 years have I ever seen anything that said to me that at such and such a time and such and such a place such a thing was going to happen. It just doesn't happen that way."

When intelligence comes in, he says, the best anyone in a position of authority can do is to piece together the most logical potential scenario based on the knowledge of the source of information, as well as the modus operandi of the terrorist organization linked to it.

"Then the guessing game starts: Is it somewhat, very, or likely to be accurate?" he says. "Remember, it goes from source to collector to analyst to policymaker, so you're already playing telephone anyway."

The possibility also arises that some unsubstantiated threats could be trial balloons of sorts - purposely planted by terrorist groups to probe the effectiveness of local defenses.

"If you take no action, these people perceive that as weakness. They'll think you're vulnerable to attack, whether you are or you're not," says Walter Purdy, vice president of the Terrorism Research Center in Arlington, Va.

But other analysts do question the effectiveness of spending limited local resources to randomly search bags in the subway or trucks going into tunnels based on threats that may not be credible.

"The challenge is how do you manage finite resources against an infinite number of potential threats," says John MacGaffin, former associate deputy director for operations at the CIA and former senior adviser to the FBI. "The most important thing anyone can have is good intelligence."

There's also concern about "crying wolf" too often, which could have a chilling effect on the intelligence community's willingness to share information in the future. Even terrorism experts who believe that both Ehrlich and Mayor Bloomberg acted appropriately say that all such intelligence should be handled with great caution.

"The last thing we can afford to do is give another reason for the intelligence and law-enforcement communities not to share info with its customers on the front lines," says Mr. Cilluffo. "Culturally these communities have adhered to the 'need to know' - in order to protect sources, methods, preserve criminal investigations, etc. [But] we've got to provide incentives to ensure the 'need to share.' "

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