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FBI searches home of Colorado man in terror probe

By COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press Writer © 2009 The Associated Press

Sept. 17, 2009, 1:11AM

AURORA, Colo. — Federal agents on Wednesday searched the home of a suburban Denver man identified by law enforcement as having a possible link to al-Qaida, carting away several boxes of evidence.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force went through the home of Najibullah Zazi, as well as the nearby residence of his aunt, Rabia Zazi, FBI special agent Kathleen Wright said Wednesday.

Zazi denies that he’s a central figure in a terrorism investigation that fed fears of a possible bomb plot and led to several police raids in New York City on Monday.

Zazi, 24, was interviewed Wednesday at FBI headquarters in Denver but was not under arrest, according to his attorney, Arthur Folsom. Zazi provided authorities a DNA sample, a fingerprint, handwriting samples and information about his travel history, Folsom said.

“My client is not involved in any terror plot,” Folsom declared. “He answered every question they had.”

Zazi told the Denver Post that he was too tired to speak to the media late Wednesday but that he would return to the FBI for more questioning Thursday.

James Davis, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Denver office, declined to comment, as did the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver.

One agent wearing protective clothing escorted a dog belonging to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives into Zazi’s apartment. FBI agents left Zazi’s apartment with at least six boxes. One box was labeled “swabs,” and others were marked “fragile” and “glass.”

Agents also escorted three women and a man from the apartment. Two of the women covered their faces with headscarves, and the third used a canvas chair to shield her face. All were driven away in an SUV.

The searches came a day after two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that a joint FBI-New York Police Department task force had put Zazi under surveillance because of suspected links to al-Qaida.

The task force also feared Zazi may be involved in a potential plot involving homemade hydrogen peroxide-based explosives like those cited in an intelligence warning issued Monday, said the officials, who spoke on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the investigation.

After Zazi traveled to New York City over the weekend, FBI agents and police officers armed with search warrants seeking bomb materials searched three apartments and questioned residents in a predominantly Asian neighborhood in Queens.

Naiz Khan, an Afghan immigrant who grew up with Zazi in New York City, said the FBI questioned him for about two hours about Zazi, whom he said stayed at his apartment last week.

No arrests were announced, and the FBI and NYPD have refused to discuss the case.

New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and FBI Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday there are no specific terrorist threats to the city.

“There are no guarantees. We live in a dangerous world,” said Kelly, who called New York the world’s best-protected city.

Monday’s FBI and Homeland Security intelligence warning, issued to police departments nationwide, listed clues that could tip off police to peroxide-based bombs, such as people with burn marks on their hands, faces or arms; foul odors coming from a room or building; and large industrial fans or multiple window fans.

Colorado elected officials who said they’ve been briefed on the investigation have said there is no imminent threat.

Zazi’s apartment building is very close to a toll road that runs to Denver International Airport, where he picks up and drops off passengers as a driver for ABC Airport Shuttle.

Denver city records show that when Zazi applied for a limousine driver license on Feb. 3, he said he had a permanent residence green card and had been in Denver one month. A limousine license was granted April 15, indicating Zazi passed a Colorado Bureau of Investigation background check and a driving record check.

On Tuesday, Folsom said Zazi contacted him immediately after hearing that friends’ homes in New York had been raided.

The lawyer said Zazi drove to New York in a rented car to take care of a problem with the location of a coffee cart that he co-owns with a friend, and to visit friends.

Zazi said he was stopped by police on Sept. 10 on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey to Manhattan, and that he consented to a random search of his vehicle for drugs. He was allowed to leave.

In New York, Folsom said, Zazi’s car was towed because of a parking violation. Police searched both the car and a laptop inside, Folsom said.

“They found nothing, didn’t ask him any more questions and sent him on his way,” Folsom said. “If they had found anything, he would be in the company of the federal officials in New York.”

Zazi’s aunt said Tuesday that her nephew recently visited the Peshawar region of Pakistan — where she said his wife lives. Zazi hopes to bring his wife to the United States, the aunt said.

Folsom said Zazi was born in a small town in Afghanistan, moved to Pakistan at age 7 and moved to the United States in 1999. Zazi’s aunt said he then lived in Queens until he moved to Colorado several months ago.


Associated Press Writers P. Solomon Banda, Catherine Tsai and Don Mitchell in Denver and Tom Hays in New York City contributed to this report.


100,000 International troops are in Afghanistan operating under US and NATO command along with Afghan forces. (Paraphrased from the article below found on France24).


[From very good article on France 24 – International News]

Sunday, September 6, 2009 – 05:21

AFP News Briefs List

IEDs wreak havoc among foreign forces in Afghanistan

Cheap home-made bombs are exacting a high price from the world’s most sophisticated armies battling Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency and have become the pivot on which the eight-year war is turning.

[ c. .]

Experts say the bombs are cheap and easy to make, are rigged to timers or remote controls, can be detonated when vehicles drive over pressure plates and are increasingly linked into a chain of bombs to cause maximum damage.

Bomb-makers cannibalise mortar shells and old mines, which are easy to find in the war-ravaged countryside, or jerry-rig mobile phones to crude explosives such as fertiliser and diesel fuel, or batteries.

Roadside bombs were used to great effect by insurgents in Iraq, where the impact on morale was as devastating as the death toll.

As in Iraq, Taliban insurgents are constantly modifying their designs to stay one step ahead of detection including disrupting radio signals that can detonate IEDs by remote control.

[ . . . ]

The bombs cause horrific injuries to survivors — blowing off limbs, shredding torsos after cutting through military vehicles and body armour worn by soldiers and journalists who travel with them.

Western governments spending billions to support the Afghan government have highlighted IEDs as the biggest challenge facing troops deployed to Taliban hotspots, especially in southern Helmand and Kandahar.

So far this year, more than 300 foreign troops have died in Afghanistan, according to the independent icasualties.org website, making 2009 the deadliest year of the eight-year war.

By August last year, IEDs accounted for 75 percent of all “enemy initiated action” in Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) set up to tackle the scourge.

[ . . .]

“Having failed in 2006 and 2007 to defeat international forces by conventional means, the Taliban have more than doubled their IED attacks over the past year,” he said

“Already this year we have deployed 200 specialist counter-IED troops” to Afghanistan, he said.

“We are sending another 200 specialist forces and new equipment to find and defuse the IEDs and identify and target the networks who lay them.”


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Friday said “offensive operations are focusing more on countering the IED threat”.

In a speech in London, Brown said foreign troop deaths “are almost twice as high as this time last year, and three quarters of these are now due to IEDs”.



My Note – about IED / roadside bomb detection – (before explosion) –

Isn’t there a disparity between the sand temperature on the ground / roadways of Afghanistan and the IED’s? It would have to also be dense to different levels as well. Couldn’t the IED’s be located long before arriving on top of them where they are being triggered to explode? I watched a part of a show about some of the new equipment being sent to Iraq and other battlefields intended to clear the IED’s but they are big, they are ridiculously expensive which means not many of them will be available and they are just now being either purchased or sent out into the field.

Long before that can help save soldier’s lives, a small hand-held or dash-mounted scanning device needs to be available if it is not already, which reads the temperature variations which would outline the IED by virtue of its temperature difference from the surrounding sand or by analysis of the variations in either the comparative densities of the sand / dirt / roadway / scrubland to the IEDs or by the kinds of sonogram systems in use elsewhere for geology or medicine. Maybe they have them already but it seems like there wouldn’t have been as many recent deaths and injuries from IEDs, if that were the case.

– cricketdiane, 09-16-09



My Note –

This is very nifty. The military ought to go buy a bunch of them – so somebody needs to build a quick start up business manufacturing them and get them to every military and police unit / intel unit and Transportation Safety officer around the world. It could really make a difference in that application – (or, better yet, make these toxic fumes sensors available to the public and then we can be all of those places where they can’t be because they are wrapped up doing so many things already – in the way cellphone cameras have awakened citizenship – )

New sensor array can detect toxic fumes

Kenneth Suslick, Schmidt professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a news release Sunday his team created an array that changes colors to indicate what type of toxic gas it has detected.

“Our device is simply a digital multidimensional extension of litmus paper. We have a six by six array of different nanoporous pigments whose colors change depending on their chemical environment,” Suslick said. “The pattern of the color change is a unique molecular fingerprint for any toxic gas and also tells us its concentration.”





Key al Qaeda operative killed in U.S. strike, Somalia saysupdated 1:09 p.m. EDT, Tue September 15, 2009

(CNN) — Somalia said a senior al Qaeda operative tied to several attacks in East Africa was killed Monday in a U.S. strike in southern Somalia.
Saleh ali Saleh Nabhan, pictured on the FBI’s Web site, reportedly was tied to al Qaeda’s East Africa operations.

Intelligence sources have confirmed to the Somali government that Saleh ali Saleh Nabhan was killed, Information Minister Dahir Mohamud Gelle said Tuesday.

[ . . . ]

Nabhan’s death will have “a major impact” on al Qaeda’s operations in the Horn of Africa, according to one regional analyst.

U.S. special operations forces used a helicopter to fire on a car Monday in southern Somalia, killing several people, including one they believed was Nabhan, U.S. officials told CNN earlier.

Nabhan, 30, was born in Kenya and had been tied to attacks that included the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, according to the sources. More than 200 were killed, and 4,000 wounded in those attacks, most of them Kenyans.

[ etc. ]




Four dead in suspected drone attack in Pakistan

updated 1:54 a.m. EDT, Mon September 14, 2009

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) — An apparent drone attack on Monday killed four suspected militants in northern Pakistan, an intelligence source said.

An unspecified number of others were injured in the attack in the Khushhalee Turi Khel area of north Waziristan, according to the Pakistani source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The remains were not in identifiable condition, area residents said.

The United States is the only country in the region known to have the ability to launch missiles from drones, which are controlled remotely.

[ . . . ]

Pakistani and U.S. officials think a drone attack killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, last month in Waziristan. A new leader was named afterward.




Pentagon plans troops to target roadside Afghanistan bombs updated Fri, September 11, 2009

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to approve sending thousands of additional forces to Afghanistan to deal with the growing threat from roadside bombs (IED), Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Friday.

From The Times
September 9, 2009
Former CIA agent’s hunt for bin Laden in Pakistani badlands


[ . . . ]

The hunt for bin Laden is largely run by the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service, an organisation for whom many CIA officials harbour deep mistrust because of its historical ties to the Pashtuns of Waziristan.

Mr Keller says the nerve centre of the hunt is in Islamabad but the ground operation is run from decrepit bases such as Shawshank. The hub of the operation was the communications room, from where he worked alongside officials from other branches of the US intelligence agencies.

Here they would pore over intelligence collected from electronic intercepts, aerial photographs taken by unmanned drones, and human intelligence collected by Pashtun spies. CIA agents were rarely allowed to leave the compound by the Pakistanis.


Mr Keller was one of an estimated 50 to 100 CIA agents and special operations officers whose mission for the past eight years has been to find and kill bin Laden and other top al-Qaeda leaders in the hostile and forbidding Pakistani border region, where he is believed to be hiding.

Mr Keller, 39, volunteered for the bin Laden team and was sent in 2006 to become acting chief of one of the CIA’s bases in the heart of al-Qaeda and Taleban territory in Waziristan. It was an experience that leaves him wondering today if the al-Qaeda leader will ever be found.

[ . . . ]


“Having failed in 2006 and 2007 to defeat international forces by conventional means, the Taliban have more than doubled their IED attacks over the past year,” he said

“Already this year we have deployed 200 specialist counter-IED troops” to Afghanistan, he said.

“We are sending another 200 specialist forces and new equipment to find and defuse the IEDs and identify and target the networks who lay them.”


US Patent 7130624 – System and method for destabilizing improvised explosive devices

US Patent Issued on October 31, 2006
Estimated Patent Expiration Date: Icon_subject November 12, 2023Estimated Expiration Date is calculated based on simple USPTO term provisions. It does not account for terminal disclaimers, term adjustments, failure to pay maintenance fees, or other factors which might affect the term of a patent.


The present invention relates generally to selective destruction of explosive devices. The invention relates specifically to a system and method for destabilizing improvised explosive devices, by way of electromagnetic disruption to trigger thedevice.


In 1967, during the Vietnam War, the United States Naval aircraft carrier U.S.S. Forrestal experienced a catastrophic accident. Specifically, a “Zuni” rocket was accidentally fired from an aircraft about to be launched from the carrier, whichresulted in ignition of a fuel fire that nearly destroyed the carrier. It was later discovered that the Zuni rocket’s motor had, without command of pilot or crew, ignited. The ignition of the electrically triggered rocket motor was then determined tobe a result of electromagnetic interference and consequential triggering effect from the carrier’s radar.

Other instances of accidental triggering have been experienced in mining and civil engineering projects, where radio frequency interference has caused uncommanded detonation of blasting caps and other explosives used at such locations.

Since the Forrestal accident, all ordnance that employs electric triggering devices is designed and tested under rules which govern electronic packaging and shielding for minimizing electromagnetic effects thereon. In mining projects and thelike, a protocol of prohibiting radio transmissions anywhere in proximity to the site has been strictly enforced.

Electrically triggered explosives are well known, and have unfortunately been successfully utilized by individual terrorists, terror organizations, and other criminals without warning for destruction of military and civilian targets alike.

These criminals have frequently utilized crudely made or so-called “improvised” explosive devices to carry out their despicable acts. These improvised explosive devices are commonly constructed from commercially available components and areassembled with little technical expertise. Such improvised devices are typically simple in their construction, comprising a package or housing containing explosives, an electronic detonator to ignite the explosives, a timer or manually operated switchto trigger the detonator, and a battery to power the electronic components. Improvised devices are, due to their simplicity, easily concealed and therefore there has been virtually no defense against them.

Therefore, it would be desirable to utilize what was tragically learned from accidents like that of the Forrestal, to combat the use of improvised explosive devices.


An object of the present invention is to provide a system and method for destabilizing improvised explosive devices, by utilization of what was learned from the aforementioned accidents.

In accordance with the present invention, a system for destabilizing improvised explosive devices includes a radio transmitter means for generating a radio signal having (i) a selected carrier frequency, (ii) a selected amplitude modulationfrequency, (iii) a selected peak power output, and (iv) a selected transmit duration. A directional antenna means is coupled to and fed by the radio transmitter means, for directing the radio signal onto a suspected improvised explosive device. Theradio signal, upon being directed onto the suspected improvised explosive device, causes detonation of the device.


FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a system for destabilizing improvised explosive devices, constructed in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of a method for destabilizing improvised explosive devices, in accordance with the present invention.


Referring to the figure, there shown is an exemplary embodiment of a system for destabilizing improvised explosive devices 10 (hereinafter, “system 10”) of the present invention.

As used here throughout, the term “improvised explosive device” is intended to include any simple, unsophisticated, and/or crudely made explosive device, which (i) is electrically operated, actuated, or triggered, (ii) does not have anyappreciable shielding against electromagnetic effects, and (iii) is mainly constructed from commercially available components. A typical improvised explosive device would, as aforementioned, include a package or housing containing explosives, anelectronic detonator to ignite the explosives, a timer or manually operated switch to trigger the detonator, and a battery to power the electronic components.

In the figure, system 10 includes a radio transmitter means 100 for generating a radio signal S, and a directional antenna means 120 coupled to radio transmitter means 100 for transmission of radio signal S onto a suspected improvised explosivedevice as will be further described.

Radio transmitter means 100 preferably includes a power supply 102 (e.g., a commercially available 12 V battery in combination with suitable power conditioning to develop a selected voltage), control electronics 104, a radio frequency (“RF”)transmitter generator 106, and an amplifier 108. Radio transmitter means 100 further includes a trigger 122 for initiating operation of system 10, as will be further described.

Radio signal S as generated by transmitter means 100, is characterized by a selected very high carrier frequency, a selected and significantly lower amplitude modulation frequency, a selected peak power output, and a selected transmit duration. In a preferred embodiment: The selected carrier frequency is in a range of 1 GHz to 4 GHz; The selected amplitude modulation frequency is approximately 50 MHz; The selected peak power output is in a range of 1 KW to 2 KW; and The selected transmitduration is in a range of 50 ms to 100 ms. The selected amplitude modulation frequency is characterized by a time varying, asymmetrical pulse width.

Directional antenna means 120 comprises, preferably, an antenna having a relatively small, solid angle of emission. Antennas of this specification include parabolic reflective antennas, focusing antennas, and aperture antennas.

In operation of system 10, an operator (not shown) actuates trigger 122, which causes radio transmitter means 100 to generate radio signal S which is then fed to directional antenna means 120. Directional antenna means 120 then acts to directsignal S onto a suspected improvised explosive device B (a terrorist bomb, in the figure). Signal S, characterized by the aforementioned range of values, is a high power signal having a relatively short transmit duration or “on cycle”. During this oncycle, signal S is further modulated by transmitter means 100 to create a complex broadband signal. The complex broadband signal S, directed onto improvised explosive device B, causes electromagnetic disruption within electronics of device B, andthereby premature and uncommanded triggering and detonation thereof. Signal S, however, does not expose the operator of system 10 or other nearby third parties to any harmful dosage of electromagnetic radiation. Particularly, the dosage of radiationdelivered by signal S is low because the on cycle is short as aforesaid.

For ease of use and portability, transmitter means 100 is preferably designed in terms of size and weight to be capable of being carried within a portable backpack (not illustrated) while antenna 120 is preferably a hand-held unit (also notillustrated).

As an example of use of system 10, with reference to FIG. 2, a suspected improvised explosive device B is identified by way of military or law enforcement intelligence. After ensuring that a safe distance exists between suspected device B andthe operator, the operator actuates trigger 122 of means 100 while aiming antenna means 120 at suspected device B. Trigger 122 in turn, actuates control electronics 104. Control electronics 104, powered by power supply 102, causes generator 106 (alsopowered by supply 102) and amplifier 108 to generate, amplify, and send signal S to antenna means 120. Antenna means 120, having been aimed at suspected device B, directs signal S onto device B. Radio signal S then causes premature and uncommandeddetonation of device B by way of the electromagnetic disruption and triggering effect thereon, as aforedescribed.

It is to be appreciated that system 10 may be operated without a criminal organization knowing or understanding why their improvised explosive devices will not function correctly (i.e., why they are prematurely detonating) since signal S is notvisible and is, in use, directed onto such devices at a distance from transmitter and antenna means 100 and 120. Therefore, it is to be reasonably expected that without engineering expertise or design sophistication, as is usually the case, the criminalorganization will fail to take any corrective action (e.g., adding electromagnetic shielding) in subsequent device fabrication.

In exemplary system 10, it is to be understood that various suitable components may be substituted for those depicted and described. For example, a particular selection of generator 106 could obviate any need for amplifier 108, since some RFgenerators operating in the aforedescribed frequency range do inherently generate enough RF output power to produce the aforedescribed signal S. A magnetron, for example, is a generator that produces a high output power. Thus, in some embodiments of theinvention, amplifier 108 could be omitted entirely from system 10.

It is also to be appreciated and understood that as used here throughout, reference to any “amplitude modulation” specifically includes pulse modulation.

While the present invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to the accompanying figures, it will be understood, however, that other modifications thereto are of course possible, all of which are intended to be within thetrue spirit and scope of the present invention. It should be appreciated that components of the invention aforedescribed may be substituted for other suitable components for achieving desired results, or that various accessories may be added thereto.

Lastly, the choice, of course, of compositions, sizes, and values of various aforementioned components of the present invention are all a matter of design choice depending upon intended uses thereof.

Accordingly, these and other various changes or modifications in form and detail of the present invention may also be made therein, again without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.

* * * * *

Other References

  • Dee Depass, newspaper story from startribune.com, published and accessed May 20, 2005, titled “Alliant tests device to stop Iraqi bombs”.