The Official Corrections/Terrorist Watch List

 

 

The Official Terrorist Watch LIST

 

 

The U.S. National Counter-Terrorism Center, state’s there are 9,000 US citizens and legal residents on the US Government’s Terrorist Watch List. However, internal documents recently leaked from a Department of Homeland Security Intelligence Fusion Center suggest that the actual number is likely closer to 20,000 people.

January 23, 2013

SIX DAYS AGO, a group of Anons calling themselves “Team Berserk” compromised a government affiliated server, accessing a cache of FBI and DHS intelligence bulletins and other documents classified “Law Enforcement Sensitive.” In a colorful communique featuring ASCII artpirate ships, renderings of the FBI as the tentacled Kraken, and lulz cannons firing remote exploits at government systems, the attackers took credit for hacking a Department of Homeland Security Intelligence Fusion Center and successfully exfiltrating the document cache, some of which they claim is not yet included in the initial file dump made available online. Yesterday, the attackers published an additional intelligence bulletin stolen from the Kansas Fusion Center, in which DHS warns its employees about the previous week’s attack by Team Berserk, but assures them that the Kansas Fusion Center itself was not compromised. The Department of Homeland Security maintains that they believe the attackers obtained the documents from “an unidentified partner who receives our law enforcement products and then saved them on a local computer network.” The hackers with Team Berserk claim to have ongoing access to multiple DHS Fusion Centers.

The cover page of a “Crossroads Report” from the DHS document leak.

The documents exposed in the leak include a series of “Crossroad Reports” from DHS Intelligence Centers in Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma throughout 2013. These documents detail day-to-day reports from state and local police departments, including reports of traffic stops involving individuals “on the Terrorist Watchlist.” The reports appear to describe ordinary traffic violations. The examples below are typical of the data set:

A subject on the Terrorist Watchlist was stopped by the Kansas Highway Patrol for a Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection. The subject was questioned and released. 28-Feb-2013, Alma, KS.

The Saint Louis County Police Department stopped a subject on the Terrorist Watchlist for speeding. The subject was questioned and released. 17-Jan-2013, St. Louis, MO.

A Columbia Police Officer stopped a subject on the Terrorist Watchlist for driving without headlights when required. The subject was questioned and released with a verbal warning. 20-Jan-2013, Columbia, MO.

The Jefferson City Police Department stopped a subject on the Terrorist Watchlist for improper display of a license plate. The subject was questioned and released with a warning. 17-Feb-2013, Jefferson City, MO.

What’s disturbing about these reports is how frequently they seem to show local law enforcement running into individuals listed on the “Terrorist Watch List” in the course of their day to day work, while pulling people over for speeding, having an expired registration, failing to signal, etc. The reports show law enforcement encountering people on the watch list as frequently as seven to twelve times a month in Colorado and Kansas. Given that these are not targeted investigations, but merely incidental encounters, and given that traffic stops operate as a semi-random sampling of the population, this newly leaked data set raises serious questions about just how large the US terrorist watch list has become.

A 2012 report by the U.S. National Counter-Terrorism Center, which manages the database of people placed on the watch list, claimed that there were then 875,000 unique names on the list, 9,000 of whom are Americans. The ACLU estimates that the total number is now likely over one million names. Data released by the FBI in 2009 shows that, during a twelve month period covered by their report, the US intelligence community suggested that 1,600 new names a day qualified for the list based on “reasonable suspicion.” The report does not state what percentage of those names were actually retained and added to the watch list. Individuals placed on the terrorist watch list are never informed of their status and are precluded from challenging their placement. The lack of transparency or any appeal process whatsoever is especially troubling in light of a 2007 DOJ audit of the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, which found that 38% of the records they reviewed contained inaccuracies.

People placed on the terrorist watch list are often subjected to searches at the border, have their electronic devices confiscated, are frequently interrogated for hours, and are sometimes prohibited from flying. In 2011, a FOIA request by the ACLU revealed that “just in the 18-month period beginning October 1, 2008, more than 6,600 people — roughly half of whom were American citizens — were subjected to electronic device searches at the border by DHS, all without a search warrant.”1 Filmmakers, journalists,practical cryptographers, activists, academics, and students have all been subjected to arbitrary detention, interrogation, search, and seizure on the basis of their inclusion on the list.

In light of the lack of accurate information about the size of the vast and growing US terrorist watch list, these newly obtained DHS “Crossroads Reports” are an intriguing and troubling resource. Each report covers one month of incidental encounter reports between law enforcement and individuals on the watch list, and includes all such reports for Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. The reports themselves appear to be compiled and disseminated by the Kansas Intelligence Fusion Center. The first page of each document helpfully reminds readers that, “this report contains information that may be exempt from public release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Kansas Records Act (KORA).” A typical page in one of these documents looks like this:

Since the documents cover January through November of 2013, it is easy enough to aggregate and compare the number of individuals on the terrorist watch list who were incidentally encountered in the course of routine police work over the course of that year:

Colorado: 61

Kansas: 48

Missouri: 46

Nebraska: 16

Oklahoma: 28

Since these numbers only represent the people on the terrorist watch list who were unlucky enough to be pulled over for speeding, a broken tail light, or some other incidental infraction, it is safe to assume that the number of people on the watch list in each of these states is substantially greater than the numbers listed above. In fact, using statistics gathered on the incidence of traffic stops compared to the respective population sizes of each of the above states, it is possible to derive the approximate number of people on the terrorist watch list in each state. From there, it should be trivial to project that number to the total number of Americans on the terrorist watch list nationwide with reasonable accuracy.

The state of Illinois helpfully keeps complete records of all traffic stops conducted in their state each year. Since no other state keeps such state-wide records, we will use the ratio of Illinois traffic stops to the total population of Illinois as our extrapolative metric and presume that the Illinois sample is representative. So, since there were 2,450,348 traffic stops in Illinois in 2007 (the last year they kept such records), and since the population of Illinois in 2007 was 12,852,530 people, we can safely assume that on average, for any sufficiently large sample of US drivers, roughly 19% will get pulled over each year, since:

2,450,348 / 12,852,530 = .19

If we want to calculate the number of people living in Colorado who are on the US terrorist watch list, we then simply take the total population of Colorado in 2013 and multiply it by .19 to compute the total number of Colorado residents who were pulled over for a traffic stop that year:

(5,268,367) * (.19) = 1,000,990

So, about one million people in Colorado were probably pulled over in 2013. Now, looking at the DHS Crossroads Reports, we can see that 61 people on the terrorist watch list were pulled over in 2013. To compute the approximate number of people in Colorado who are on the watch list, we can plug the appropriate values into the following basic equation:

[(Estimated Number of Residents Subject to Traffic Stop) / (State Population)] * [(Number of Individuals Encountered During Traffic Stop Who Are On The Terrorist Watch List) / (n)]

-where n is the approximate number of people on the terrorist watch list in Colorado

When we solve for n we get 321. Approximately three hundred and twenty one people are likely on the US terrorist watch list in Colorado. If we do the same calculations for each of the other states listed in the DHS reports, we get the following results:

Approximate Number Of People On The Terrorist Watch List By State:

Colorado: 321

Kansas: 253

Missouri: 242

Nebraska: 84

Oklahoma: 147

From here, we can project these numbers to approximate the total number of US residents on the terrorist watch list. It’s simply a question of summing the respective population totals and watch list totals for each state, and then projecting this ratio against the total population of the United States in 2013:

Combined Population of Sample State Populations: 19,925,579
Combined Estimated Number of People on Terror Watch List: 1047
Population of the United States in 2013: 317,520,000
Estimated Number of Americans on The Terror Watch List = [(1047) / (19925579)] * [(n) / (317520000)]
Estimated Number of Americans on The Terror Watch List = 16,684

Here is a complete proof of work for those who like spreadsheets:

Spreadsheet of Fear

So, there you have it, there are likely at least 16,684 people in the US on the “terrorist watch list.” Since the data set is drawn from a sample population that is less ethnically diverse than many parts of the country, and since it’s safe to assume that the “terrorist watch list” is racist as fuck, we can be comfortable in stating that 16,684 is probably a conservative estimate; if we had data from major US metropolitan areas with large Muslim populations, it’s safe to say that the number would most likely be higher.

So, in conclusion, your government may think you’re a terrorist. If they don’t yet, there’s always tomorrow; they’re adding names every day.

You can go revolt now.


The Associated PressAUSTIN (AP) — Texas prison officials are monitoring inmates at the state’s 114 prisons for signs that outsiders are trying to recruit them into terrorism or that inmates themselves are working contacts outside prison for illegal purposes, including terrorism.

“Our interest is the security of our institutions and the safety of the public,” John Moriarty, inspector general of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told the Austin American-Statesman for a story in Saturday’s editions. “We have had some successes. That’s about all I can say.”

The secretive program grew out of a videotape received nearly two years ago at the Beto Unit, a prison outside Palestine in East Texas. The tape that intrigued a Texas warden showed a Muslim imam in California reading from the Quran, preaching a “Message to the Oppressed.”

On the tape, Imam Al-Hajj Muhammad Abdullah suggested that al Qaeda terrorists were not responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and instead blamed the illuminati, international bankers, Zionism, fascism, imperialism, even the military-industrial complex, the American-Statesman reported.

“This is a war against Islam and Muslims,” he said of the U.S. response after the attacks. Prison officials seized the tape after a Muslim coordinator questioned its political content and alerted the warden.

Texas officials increased their monitoring of prisoners for terrorist ties after the Sept. 11 attacks. More than a year ago, assisted by the FBI, they expanded those efforts to include more sophisticated examination of inmates’ correspondence and activities.

“We know that inmates are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by terrorists and that we must guard against the spread of terrorism and extremist ideologies,” Harley Lappin, director of the federal Bureau of Prisons, told a congressional committee on terrorism and homeland security last month.

Officials declined to elaborate on the Texas program’s “successes,” other than to say one involved a former Iraqi soldier, another involved a Texas group targeted by federal officials for its alleged terrorist organization ties, and another involved an outside radical group. In one case, a state prisoner in El Paso claimed to be an al Qaeda member — a claim debunked by investigators.

As many as 300 letters a week written in Arabic, Farsi or other Middle Eastern languages are opened, copied and delivered — with the copy going to the Huntsville office of Bobby Pittman. He scans the letters into his computer system, presses a button and speeds the copies to the FBI, where they are translated and reviewed.

“Most are ‘Dear John’ letters, talking about ‘How’s the wife and kids?’ and things like that,” Pittman said. “If there’s information in the correspondence that warrants further action, then we might go out and interview inmates or do additional investigation.”

State officials say inmates under scrutiny aren’t just Middle Eastern or Muslim.

“We focus on those who we have information about or who we have reason to believe could be security threats — inside and out,” Moriarty said.

Just 150 imprisoned Texas felons are of Middle Eastern descent — a tiny fraction of the 150,000 total prisoners. However, the state’s population of 7,600 Muslim inmates is among the largest in the nation.

Federal officials would not discuss details of the Texas program, or its results. “We can’t talk about this for obvious reasons,” said Rene Salinas, a spokesman for the FBI in San Antonio.

Others involved in the program tout it as an example of how diverse law enforcement groups have closely allied themselves to track terrorism.

The Texas program is part of a network of similar prison-monitoring initiatives in other states, and officials familiar with the program said Texas has scored several “successes.” They declined to elaborate on the “successes” other than to say one involved a former Iraqi soldier, another involved a Texas group targeted by federal officials for its alleged terrorist organization ties, and another involved an outside radical group. In one case, a state prisoner in El Paso claimed to be a member of al Qaeda, though his claim was debunked by investigators.

Translating mail

The letters arrive at Bobby Pittman’s Huntsville office almost every day, as many as 300 some weeks, but he can’t read a single a one of them.

Most are written in Arabic, Farsi or other Middle Eastern languages. Texas prison officials have reviewed inmates’ mail for years. But the correspondence in languages that concern prison officials is now quietly opened, copied and delivered — with the copy coming to Pittman, a veteran investigator for the Texas prison system. He scans the letters into his computer system, presses a button and speeds the copies to the FBI, where they are translated and reviewed. Pittman later receives summaries of translations or other information about the letters’ contents.

The special equipment Pittman uses was obtained a year ago with with a $50,000 grant from the governor’s office, said Christina M. Crain, chair of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, the panel that oversees state prisons.

“Most are ‘Dear John’ letters, talking about ‘How’s the wife and kids?’ and things like that,” Pittman said. “If there’s information in the correspondence that warrants further action, then we might go out and interview inmates or do additional investigation.” The additional investigations are conducted by the FBI or prison officials.

Convicts under scrutiny are not just Middle Eastern or Muslim, officials insist. “We focus on those who we have information about or who we have reason to believe could be security threats — inside and out,” Moriarty said.

Other officials said Texas is an important cog in the national program for several reasons. It is the second-largest state prison system, and prisons in general are considered by law enforcement officials as potentially fertile ground for terrorists’ recruitment efforts because convicts are more likely to hate government or be inclined to violence. Texas has only about 150 imprisoned felons who are of Middle Eastern descent — a minuscule percentage of its population of 150,000 prisoners. But compared with other states’ prison systems, it has one of the larger populations of Muslim convicts: Almost 7,600.

It was for the Muslim convicts at the Beto Unit that the imam’s video was destined.

Moriarty said the tape — of programs originally broadcast on a Los Angeles public access television channel — was mailed to the prison and prisoners watched part of it until a Muslim coordinator questioned its political content and alerted a warden. Moriarty said the warden was troubled by the imam’s assertions and the list of credits, which included “special thanks” to Hamas, Al Jihad and Hezbollah — groups that the U.S. government had branded as terrorist-linked.

State prison investigators were called in and promptly seized the tape.

Muslim recruitment

Across the country, Muslim convicts have come under increasing scrutiny of law enforcement and have made headlines for a variety of activities, including angry rhetoric against U.S. policy, recruitment of other prisoners to commit terrorist acts once they are released, and fund raising for outside groups with terrorist ties.

In New York, authorities are investigating activist recruiting by a group promoting “Jailhouse Jihad.” In other states, investigators are focusing on extremist prison groups they say are using Islamic fundamentalism to foment dissent.

Perhaps the most recognizable recruitment success occurred abroad: Al Qaeda recruited London prison inmate Richard Reid, who after his release was convicted of trying to blow up an airplane by lighting a bomb in his shoe, according to published reports. His case spurred public awareness of the vulnerability of prison inmates to terrorist overtures.

In Washington, Lappin of the prisons bureau told the congressional committee, “We have been managing inmates with ties to terrorism for over a decade by confining them in secure conditions and monitoring their communications closely.”

According to Lappin, federal inmates with terrorist ties are “clearly identified and tracked . . . The most dangerous terrorists are housed under the most restrictive conditions allowed . . . (and) we monitor and record all communications involving inmates with terrorist ties.”

Texas follows similar policies, Moriarty said, and has been closely monitoring inmates who are “of interest” to investigators, along with their mail and their visitors since Sept. 11.

In addition to concerns about outside recruitment and agitation, he and others said they worry that various radical prison groups — not just Middle Eastern-oriented groups — might align with each other and cause trouble.

“This is something that, after 9/11, we had to do,” Moriarty said. “This is really not a lot different than how we handle prison gangs. There’s just a language barrier.”

In some respects, Texas has an edge against terrorist recruitment that others do not.

Texas does not allow convicts to have access to telephones while they are imprisoned and, after the Sept. 11 attacks, made it a crime to give a convict access to a cell phone. In recent months the security program has continued uninterrupted, even though the inspector general’s budget and staff were cut by nearly a third.

Crain, the prison board chair, said the low-profile initiative has high returns. “This has been a positive situation for the citizens of Texas, as well as the safety and security of Texas prisons,” she said.

While Moriarty and other officials will not publicly discuss details, another official acknowledged privately that some Texas convicts have been visited by “persons of interest” to law enforcement, and others have “made contact with persons of interest” — either through visits or correspondence.

And the mail? “There’s a lot of trash talking, but that’s all most of it has been — just trash,” he said.

mward@statesman.com; 632-9561

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