Mexican drug cartels now using Claymore mines

Just after a horrific week of news about mounting body counts in Mexico from the drug war, Danger Room points to news that at least one narco arsenal was found to include Claymore Mines. The mines can be triggered with an electronic remote, and are capable of spewing 700 steel balls in any direction, with a wounding range of 50 yards. Here's a video. Read the rest

How did alleged 9/11 mastermind KSM dye beard red at Gitmo? Only his stylist knows.

Adam Serwer writes at Mother Jones about KSM's recent facial hair makeover. He grew a beard, but how did he get his hands on henna with which to dye it a ginger-red? Visiting friends? Home-brewed stain from materials inside the camp? No one knows, or if the camp guards do, it's a national security secret. Snip:

As for why KSM dyed his beard? Former State Department counterterrorism adviser Will McCants says that KSM is probably trying to emphasize his commitment to Islam. KSM grew his long, flowing beard only after he was imprisoned at Guantanamo—previous photographs show him with a trim beard or a thick mustache.

"KSM is following the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, who recommended dyeing a grey beard red," McCants says, calling it "a sign of devotion, particularly after looking like Ron Jeremy all those years." But how did KSM go from the porn-star look to more of a Gimli? Apparently, it would damage national security if we knew.

More here.

PHOTOS: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who claims to have organized the 9/11 attacks, shown at left in a Red Cross photo taken at Guantanamo Bay, and at right in a snapshot by US forces shortly after his 2003 capture. Read the rest

TSA saves America from 16yo diabetic, breaks $10K insulin pump which totally could have been a bomb

You probably thought we covered all possible scenarios of TSA stupidity in our recent round-up post.

You thought wrong.

Via MSNBC today, the story of Savannah Barry, a 16-year-old diabetic girl who says the TSA broke her insulin pump. Savannah was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years ago, and her pump is a specialized medical device that can cost up to $10,000 to replace, according to MSNBC.


The Colorado teenager says TSA screeners forced her to go through a full-body scanner in Salt Lake City last week, breaking her $10,000 insulin pump in the process. According to Sandra Barry, Savannah’s mother, her daughter was coming home from a school trip when screeners required to her to go through a full-body scanner despite the fact that the girl had a doctor’s note describing her condition and stating that she should be given a pat-down rather than subjected to screening machines.

“Believe me, being 16 and female, she probably doesn’t want the pat-down but she knows that this is what’s required,” Sandra Barry told “She tried to advocate for herself and they just shut her down.”

Read the rest

CERN scientist sentenced to 5 years in terrorism case

French-Algerian physicist Adlène Hicheur, 35, was today sentenced by a French court to five years in prison for “criminal association with the intent to prepare terrorist acts.” The court ruled that the Large Hadron Collider researcher's email exchange in 2009 with a presumed member of Al Qaeda "constituted a criminal act." From the New York Times:

The scientist, Adlène Hicheur, 35, did not deny the exchange of messages, in which he suggested targets for terrorist strikes in France, but maintains that he never intended to act on his words. The trial has raised difficult questions about the possible excesses of French antiterrorism law, which in effect treats intent as a criminal act. A researcher at the Large Hadron Collider project at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland, Dr. Hicheur met his interlocutor on an Internet forum dedicated to radical Islam while on sick leave, nursing a herniated disk at his parents’ home in southeastern France.

A related story at the BBC. Not everyone believes he is guilty. Read the rest

US doxes Bin Laden (always use encryption, kids)

CNET's Emil Protalinski reports that Osama bin Laden did not encrypt the thousands of files stored in the Pakistani compound where he was killed, and "17 of the 6,000 documents have now been publicly released." (via @ioerror) Read the rest

In Veracruz, Mexico, renewed attacks on journalists

Three journalists were killed this week in the Mexican state of Veracruz, just a week after another reporter was murdered. More on the latest violence at SouthNotes. (via Shannon Young) Read the rest

This week in TSA awfulness: a recap of recent American airport atrocities

Cue up the Yakity Sax! In case you missed it, there have been a number of Boing Boing posts of late documenting outrageous TSA incidents:

• A terminal in Newark airport was evacuated because the TSA forgot to screen a tiny baby. • TSA agents discovered an "anomaly in the crotchital area" of a 79-year-old woman. • TSA agents at JFK harassed the family of a 7-year-old girl with cerebral palsy and developmental disability. • TSA screeners in LA ran a drug ring and took bribes from drug dealers. • The TSA's anti-hugging squad caught a terrorist masquerading as a 4-year-old girl who loves her grandma. • A 95-year-old US Air Force veteran from World War II and his 85-year-old friend were humiliated, searched and robbed at a San Diego TSA checkpoint.

Did we miss anything else in the past week or so? Let us know in the comments.

Photo: Carolina K. Smith, M.D. / Read the rest

TSA screeners in LA ran drug ring, took narco bribes

Photo: Reuters. A man is screened with a backscatter x-ray machine at an LAX TSA checkpoint.

Four present and past security screeners at LAX took 22 payments of up to $2400 each to let large shipments of coke, meth, and pot slip through baggage X-ray machines. Oh, we are so very, very shocked.

In one incident detailed in the 40-page indictment (Link), screeners plotted to allow eight pounds of crystal meth to get through—then one of them ducked into an airport men's room where he was handed $600, the second payment for that delivery.

Read the rest

Who did the TSA terrorize today? A 4-year-old girl. Why? She hugged her grandma.

PHOTO: Snapshot by Lori Croft of her 4-year-old granddaughter Isabella Brademeyer, in Wichita, Kan., where she was a flower girl at her uncle’s wedding. The child was harassed by TSA goons on the way back from that family event, for the crime of hugging her granny.

Earlier this week on Boing Boing, Cory blogged about a 95-year-old Air Force veteran who was robbed of $300 at a TSA checkpoint. After picking on the elderly, today the TSA is bullying children. A 4-year-old girl who was upset during a TSA screening at the Wichita, KS airport was forced to undergo a manual pat-down after hugging her grandmother. Agents yelled at the child, and called her an uncooperative suspect.

Nope, we're not making this up.

The child's mom, Michelle Brademeyer of Montana, shared the incident in a public Facebook post last week, and the story has since spread widely.

“They didn’t explain anything and she did not know what was going on,” the grandmother told the Associated Press. “She saw people grabbing at her and raising their voices. To her, someone was trying to kidnap her or harm her in some way.”

Think the TSA has apologized? Nah. The agency is defending its agents, despite promised changes in operational standards to "reduce pat-downs of children."

Read the rest

US loosens limits on how data from spying on citizens can be used, stored, shared

An NSA agent reacts to the new rules governing information acquired through domestic surveillance.

At the New York Times, a story by Charlie Savage on new guidelines signed into law Thursday by US Attorney General Eric H. Holder for the National Counterterrorism Center, created in 2004 to "improve intelligence sharing and serve as a terrorism threat clearinghouse."

The guidelines will lengthen to five years — from 180 days — the amount of time the center can retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism, intelligence officials said. The guidelines are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and “data mining them” using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat.

This can only be good for democracy and freedom!

Read the rest

How a cult created a chemical weapons program

A really, really interesting report from The Center for a New American Security about how Japanese cult Aum Shinrikyo developed its own chemical weapons program, and what factors enabled it to successfully attack a Tokyo subway with sarin gas. I'm still reading through this and will probably have something longer to say later. But it's got some very interesting examples of things I've noticed in other analyses of successful terrorist attacks: Groups can do things that make them seem comically inept, and they can fail over and over, and still end up pulling off a successful attack. In the end, some of this is about simple, single-minded perseverance. You don't have to be a criminal mastermind. You just have to be willing to keep trying long after most people would have given up. (Via Rowan Hooper) Read the rest

TOM THE DANCING BUG: "Hello! You've Been Targeted For a Drone Assassination!" Helpful Info From Your U.S. Government

Please always be visiting the TOM THE DANCING BUG WEBSITE, and when you are not, please always be following RUBEN BOLLING on TWITTER. Read the rest

Homeland Security memo warned of violent threat posed by Occupy Wall Street

An October, 2011 Department of Homeland Security memo on Occupy Wall Street warned of the potential for violence posed by the "leaderless resistance movement." (via @producermatthew).

Update: Looks like there's a larger Rolling Stone feature on this document:

As Occupy Wall Street spread across the nation last fall, sparking protests in more than 70 cities, the Department of Homeland Security began keeping tabs on the movement. An internal DHS report entitled “SPECIAL COVERAGE: Occupy Wall Street [PDF]," dated October of last year, opens with the observation that "mass gatherings associated with public protest movements can have disruptive effects on transportation, commercial, and government services, especially when staged in major metropolitan areas." While acknowledging the overwhelmingly peaceful nature of OWS, the report notes darkly that "large scale demonstrations also carry the potential for violence, presenting a significant challenge for law enforcement."

Read the rest

Tourists deported from U.S. for Twitter jokes (Updated)

Two U.K. tourists landing in L.A. were detained and deported because of tweets joking about "diggin' up" Marilyn Monroe and "destroying" America.

According to DHS paperwork, Leigh Van Bryan was matched to a "One Day Lookout" list, placed under oath, and ultimately denied entry and put on a plane back to Europe.

"[He wrote] on his tweeter[sic] website account that he was coming to the United States to dig up the grave of Marilyn Monroe," DHS officials wrote on his charge sheet. "Also on his tweeter[sic] account Mr. Bryan posted that he was coming to destroy America."

Interviewed by highly-respected British newspapers such as The Sun and The Daily Mail, Leigh Van Bryan says that the tweet — "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America" — referred merely to partying. Added a friend: "He would not hurt anyone. He is gay."

Bryan has now made his Twitter account private, thereby ending the DHS's ability to track his terror plans.

UPDATE: Ted Frank says we're "racial profiling" in this post. [Via Glenn Reynolds]

"Boing Boing correctly points out (via Alkon) that this is silly—but the reason we know this is silly is because you and I and Boing Boing are racially profiling."

We've run countless posts similar to this one, about detained travelers of all ethnicities — but this one involved racial profiling!

We know the deportation is silly not because of Van Bryan's innocuous whiteness—that's in your head, Ted—but because the methodology is dumb. Read the rest

Did NYPD police chief violate code of conduct by lying about Islamophobic video?

Gothamist digs into whether NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly's statements and actions regarding the production of an Islamophobic propaganda film "screened on a continuous loop for over 1,200 NYPD officers" may have been a violation of NYPD conduct codes. If you're new to the story, first read this NYT item, then this followup. Read the rest

Homeland Security Internet Watch List leaked; Boing Boing omitted from list of must-read sites for domestic spying

I am outraged that our blog once again failed to make it on to the list of websites the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's command center routinely monitors. The grandfather of all rogue leak sites, Cryptome, published a copy of the 2011 edition of the government document (PDF link to document copy). Apparently, there's a new 2012 version some have seen, on which a current round of news coverage is based.

There's a Reuters article summarizing its significance here:

A "privacy compliance review" issued by DHS last November says that since at least June 2010, its national operations center has been operating a "Social Networking/Media Capability" which involves regular monitoring of "publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards." The purpose of the monitoring, says the government document, is to "collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture."

The document adds, using more plain language, that such monitoring is designed to help DHS and its numerous agencies, which include the U.S. Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency, to manage government responses to such events as the 2010 earthquake and aftermath in Haiti and security and border control related to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"This is a representative list of sites that the NOC will start to monitor in order to provide situational awareness and establish a common operating picture under this Initiative," the document reads.

Oh fine, so, the imminent Yeti invasion isn't something that needs to be monitored? Read the rest

TSA defends cupcake confiscation

('Shoop-Illustration: Xeni Jardin)

On the TSA blog, a defense of the recent confiscation of a cupcake at Las Vegas International airport over concerns the tasty morsel was a terrorist threat. Cory blogged about the incident on Boing Boing, and pointed to a parody song about it here. The internet loves cupcakes and hates the TSA, so predictably, this one went very viral.

The federal agency's explanation for the incident focuses on the fact that the traveler's cupcake was transported in a jar:

I wanted to make it clear that this wasn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill cupcake. If you’re not familiar with it, we have a policy directly related to the UK liquid bomb plot of 2006 called 3-1-1 that limits the amount of liquids, gels and aerosols you can bring in your carry-on luggage. Icing falls under the “gel” category. As you can see from the picture, unlike a thin layer of icing that resides on the top of most cupcakes, this cupcake had a thick layer of icing inside a jar.

In general, cakes and pies are allowed in carry-on luggage, however, the officer in this case used their discretion on whether or not to allow the newfangled modern take on a cupcake per 3-1-1 guidelines. They chose not to let it go.

Read the rest here. It all makes perfect sense now.

Update: Rebecca Hains, the woman whose cupcake-in-a-jar is the tasty center of this international terror emergency, is not impressed with the agency's response. Read the rest

More posts