Mahin Khan, 18, of Tucson, Arizona, was sentenced on Friday to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, and conspiracy to commit misconduct involving weapons.
The prosecution said Khan had “expressed a desire” to attack a Jewish community center in Tucson. Police found a document in his home with plans to attack a military recruiting center and a fitness center. He also plotted to attack the Phoenix DMV, and instructed an undercover FBI agent on making homemade grenades.
Khan apparently received his inspiration from last year’s ISIS attacks in Paris and Brussels, and communicated online with a a member of the Islamic State.
The prosecutor said Khan was not being accused of just words but also of teaching bomb-making to the undercover FBI agent. “There has to be a consequence, a price to be paid,” she said.
Khan’s attorney told the court his client is struggling with mental health issues and poor impulse control. Khan accepted responsibility for his pots. Apparently, Khan has been known to the FBI since age 15. He also spent 45 days in a mental institution.
Two Brussels police officers were stabbed and a train station evacuated in the wake of a telephoned bomb threat Wednesday afternoon, the second to occur within the past 48 hours, according to Belgian authorities.
One of the two officers was listed in serious condition following the attack by a suspected terrorist in the northern Brussels suburb of Schaarbeek. That officer was stabbed in the neck; the second officer was knifed in the stomach. The attacker was shot in the leg and then taken into custody, according to Belgian officials quoted by Flandernews.be.
Meanwhile, just slightly earlier, a bomb threat prompted authorities in northern Brussels to evacuate the Gare du Nord train station on Wednesday, but was later ruled out as a “false alarm.”
The signalling center and the Portalis building were evacuated in addition to the station, following a call from an anonymous tipster, who phoned police at 12:20 pm local time, the UK-based Daily Express newspaper reported.
The station was meticulously searched for explosives, while a number of train lines on the city’s metro system were interrupted as a result of the alert. A Twitter user said on the social networking site that it was the second time this week the northern Brussels station was evacuated for a “bomb alert.”
Two days ago, the same train station was placed on lock-down after a suspicious package was detected in a vehicle near the station.
In addition, a separate bomb threat prompted officials to evacuate the office of the Brussels prosecutor as well, the Libre Belgique daily newspaper reported, quoting police sources.
The attack involved three deadly coordinated suicide bombings — two at Zaventem International Airport in Brussels, and one at Maalbeek metro station in central Brussels — killing 32 civilians and wounding more than 300 innocent victims, including two local Jews. Three terrorists were killed. A fourth unexploded bomb was discovered during a sweep of the airport.
The Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the attack, which was carried out by a members of a larger terrorist cell that had been involved in the massive November 13, 2015 multi-site terror attacks in Paris.
A bomb exploded outside the Brussels Institute of Criminology early Monday, RTL reported. There were no casualties. A car rammed through the building’s barriers at around 3 AM and one or more attackers exploded a bomb near the laboratories which caught fire.
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday gave a foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, outlining his plan to fight terrorism. Addressing the large crowd (as usual), Trump opened, “Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again. In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
The candidate cited a very long list of terrorist attacks against individual Western targets (Paris, Brussels, Orlando), as well as a more generalized but no less forceful depiction of attacks on Muslims: “Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another. … We cannot let this evil continue.”
Trump promised, “We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.” He then threw a jab at both president Obama and Democratic presidential Candidate Clinton, saying, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country.”
This led to a Trump analysis of how President Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton are to blame for the current alarming state of events. He blamed them for policies that led to the creation of ISIS, saying, “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour.’”
Remarkably, Trump omitted eight whole years in which the US was attacked by a different group of Islamic radicals, and the fact that then President GW Bush retaliated by invading a country that had nothing to do with that attack, inflicting chaos on Iraq and taking out the one fierce regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein. According to Trump, none of those eight bloody years of a Bush war had anything to do with the creation of ISIS (which took place in 2004) — it all began with “a series of speeches,” in which “President Obama described America as ‘arrogant,’ ‘dismissive,’ ‘derisive,’ and a ‘colonial power.'”
“Perhaps no speech was more misguided than President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009,” Trump said Monday night. Of course, the Obama Al Azhar University speech did launch a bizarre foreign policy that punished America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Even if one were not pro-Israel, one would have to wonder what drove that disastrous foreign policy. But the Obama speech did not instigate the catastrophic failure of US policy in the Middle East, it only picked up Obama’s predecessor’s very bad situation and made it worse.
Trump believes that “the failure to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal, surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS.” But in eight miserable years, having spent trillions of borrowed dollars our grandchildren and their grandchildren after them will continue to pay for, there were no US gains in Iraq — which is why when Obama honored the Bush agreement with the Iraqi government and withdrew some of the US forces, the whole thing came tumbling down.
Trump blames Hillary Clinton for destabilizing Libya, a claim supported by many, including President Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He also added a jab at the Clintons, saying, “Yet, as she threw the Middle East into violent turmoil, things turned out well for her. The Clintons made almost $60 million in gross income while she was Secretary of State.” It’s factually true, but the implied moral outrage is hard to accept with a straight face, seeing as it came from a man who prided himself on turning homeowners’ misery into a hefty profit for himself during the housing crisis of 2008.
After much more of the candidate’s unique view on US foreign policy and the causes for rise of terrorism, Trump finally cut to the chase.
“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended,” he said. “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. … As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President [Al] Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”
Trump added to the list of his envisioned coalition partners the NATO countries, explaining that although he “had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”
He also wants Russia to participate, clearly despite its dubious new alliance with both Iran and Turkey that threatens the very presence of US troops in that part of the region.
On this point, the Trump vision looks an awful lot like the current Administration’s policy on fighting ISIS: “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”
So far so good, but then Trump suggested “we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”
Trump then depicted his opponent as contributing to the repression of Muslim gays and women, promising his “Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”
At which point one must ask if the candidate is relying on expert advise on the Middle East. Because while he is absolutely right in condemning the cruelty and repression that have been the reality in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Morocco, his idea of promoting an American foreign policy of “speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings” and against the myriad other acts of unimaginable violence against women, his ideas that to defeat Islamic terrorism, the US must “speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow” is shockingly sophomoric. Surely Trump knows that these attempts are a recipe for a far worse disaster than the one brought on by the Obama Al Azhar speech.
At this point, Trump turned to an area with which he is more familiar, the need for a new immigration policy. “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” the candidate declared, adding that “the time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said, explaining that “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.”
Easier said than done, of course, because it’s naturally difficult to discern what lurks inside the mind of any person, immigrants included. Trump’s solution is, to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”
“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” It should be interesting to gauge the response of, say, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, to the news that no more cash-laden Arab oil sheiks would be allowed to visit Vegas under a Trump Administration.
“Finally, we will need to restore common sense to our security procedures,” Trump declared, listing several notorious murders committed by Muslims on US soil, noting that in each case there had been warning signs that were overlooked by the authorities.
“These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society,” Trump stated flatly, adding, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam. … The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”
“This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners,” Trump said, essentially suggesting legitimizing the police profiling that has been so vilified in the media and by many politicians. He also promised to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open (although Obama has just released fifteen of its inmates). He wants additional staff to Intelligence agencies and will keep drone strikes against terrorist leaders as part of his options. He also wants military trials for foreign enemy combatants.
In conclusion, there was absolutely no new policy idea in the Trump speech on foreign policy Monday night, but there was an implied, if mostly unspoken promise, to encourage all levels of law enforcement to be less restrained in pursuing their targets. In fact, across the board, what Trump was offering Monday night were not so much new ideas as the promise of taking existing ideas to a new level of dedication in their execution. It could mean a wider loss of individual civil rights, and serious economic hardship for US industries that cater to any aspect of immigration, and it could also end up with the alienation of both European and Mid-Eastern countries who would not take kindly to Trump’s promised level of fierceness, and would retaliate.
It should be noted in that context, that after having spoken bluntly about extreme security measures that could harm specific ethnic and religious groups, Trump attempted to soften his own tone with a final paragraph that promised: “As your President … I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people. — Only this way, will we make America Great Again and Safe Again – For Everyone.”
Like him or hate him, Donald Trump remains the champion of cognitive dissonance.
The Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization claimed responsibility on Sunday for the vicious machete attack Saturday afternoon against two female police officers in the Belgian city of Charleroi.
The group’s Amaq News Agency quoted an unidentified source who said the attack came “in response to calls to target citizens” from the nations who participate in the U.S. coalition conducting air strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
Belgium has opened a terrorism probe into the attack, one of a string of radical Islamist assaults on members of the European Union.
The 33-year-old terrorist, an Algerian national, yelled “Allahu Akbar!” (God is Great, in Arabic) as he swung the machete at the face of the first police officer, cutting her deeply.
The second victim, who also sustained wounds to her face, was not as seriously wounded, having had enough time to muster defenses to fight off the attacker. In addition, a third officer opened fire, shooting and ultimately killing the terrorist.
Both police officers were standing at the entrance of a police station around 4 pm local time (11 am NY time) when the terrorist walked up to them carrying a sports bag. He pulled the machete from his bag and began hacking at the officers.
Two female police officers were attacked with a machete by a man shouting “Allahu Akbar” outside a police station in Charleroi, south of Brussels, Belgium, Saturday afternoon, media outlets reported.
The attacker apparently walked up to the two police officers who were standing at the entrance of a police station around 4 PM local time (11 AM NY time), pulled a machete from his bag and hacked at one of the officers.
A third officer shot the attacker in the chest and one leg, and the man later died. The assaulted officer suffered deep cuts to her face and was rushed to hospital. The other female officer suffered only light injuries.
A police spokesman told a press conference: “It’s a sad thing. Our hearts go out to the two cops involved.” He added: “Our thoughts also go out to the officer who had to pull her gun. For her this is not easy.”
FBI agent Benjamin Trentlage said that Mahin Khan, 18, who has been charged with plotting a terrorist attack on a motor vehicle office in metro Phoenix and instructed undercover FBI informants on building homemade grenades, told an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to attack a Jewish community center in his hometown, AP reported Wednesday.
Trentlage testified that Khan expressed a desire to attack the Jewish community center in October 2015, in conversation with an undercover FBI informant. According to Trentlage, Khan wanted to use pressure cookers to make homemade bombs, inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings.
On the day of his arrest, Khan left a voicemail for an undercover FBI informant expressing his admiration for the attack that killed 49 in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Trentlage testified. The FBI has charged that Khan wanted to inspire an Islamist insurgency in the US to carry out attacks similar to the ones in Paris and Brussels, and communicated online with a member of ISIS and with a Pakistani Taliban, requesting weapons and instructions on homemade explosive. But it isn’t clear whether those really were members of the two groups.
According to Trentlage, Khan described the Motor Vehicle Department in Mesa, Arizona as a soft target, saying “it would have a lot of people and relatively low security.” Khan preferred that office over a DMV office in Tucson because the sheriff’s office was located nearby.
Agent Trentlage testified on Tuesday at a bond hearing for Khan, who pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and conspiracy to commit misconduct involving weapons. Khan was denied bail following his July 1 arrest. His bond hearing continues on Wednesday, when his attorneys will probably question the FBI agent.