Protect and Defend

Welcome to my blog, Protect and Defend. You don’t have to understand me. You only have to agree with me. I can live with losing the good fight, but I can not live with not fighting that good fight at all. - Publius

Monday, October 02, 2006

Tony, say it ain’t so

FBI Worries About al-Qaida Ties to Mob

Associated Press, Sun Oct 1, 2006

WASHINGTON - The FBI's top counterterrorism official harbors lots of concerns: weapons of mass destruction, undetected homegrown terrorists and the possibility that old-fashioned mobsters will team up with al-Qaida for the right price.
Though there is no direct evidence yet of organized crime collaborating with terrorists, the first hints of a connection surfaced in a recent undercover FBI operation. Agents stopped a man with alleged mob ties from selling missiles to an informant posing as a terrorist middleman.
That case and other factors are heightening concerns about a real-life episode of the Sopranos teaming with Osama bin Laden's followers.
"We are continuing to look for a nexus," said Joseph Billy Jr., the FBI's top counterterrorism official. "We are looking at this very aggressively."
The new strategy involves an analysis of nationwide criminal investigations, particularly white collar crime, side by side with intelligence and terrorist activity.
"We have developed an ability to look harder and broader in a greatly enhanced way to see if there is any crossover," Billy said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Organized crime syndicates could facilitate money transfers or laundering, human smuggling, identification fraud or explosives and weapons acquisitions, officials said.
The options are many for terrorists groups.
There are the five reputed La Cosa Nostra families in New York, Russian criminal enterprises from Brighton Beach in the New York borough of Brooklyn to Moscow, and the emerging Asian crime syndicates that operate in many Islamic countries with al-Qaida offshoots.
A contract study produced recently for the Pentagon and obtained by the AP warned that the potential for organized crime assisting terrorists is growing.
"Although terrorism and organized crime are different phenomena, the important fact is that terrorist and criminal networks overlap and cooperate in some enterprises," the study said. "The phenomenon of the synergy of terrorism and organized crime is growing because similar conditions give rise to both and because terrorists and organized criminals use similar approaches to promote their operations."
The traditional mafia has highly developed networks for acquiring goods and services and money, all for a price.
The mob's potential interest in helping a terrorist has nothing to do with ideology or sympathy but with greed, said Matt Heron, head of New York FBI's organized crime unit.
"They will deal with anybody, if they can make a buck," Heron said. "They will sell to a terrorist just as easily as they would sell to an order of Franciscan monks. It's a business relationship to them."
"If the mob has explosives and a terrorist wants them and they have the money, they could become instant friends," he said.
Pat D'Amuro, a retired senior FBI official and now chief executive of Giuliani Security, said a Mafia boss once acknowledged that the mob would help terrorists.
"I am aware of a high-level Mafia figure, who was cooperating with authorities, being asked if the Mafia would assist terrorists in smuggling people into Europe through Italy," D'Amuro said. "He said, 'The Mafia will help who ever can pay.'"
Officials said they have no specific evidence that such a relationship has been cemented. But concerns were heightened last year after an Armenian immigrant was arrested in New York for allegedly leading a plot to sell military weapons to an FBI informant posing as a middleman for terrorists.
Arthur Solomonyan had claimed to be able to deliver shoulder-fired missiles from his connection in Russian organized crime to the informant, who claimed to have ties to al-Qaida, federal prosecutors said. Solomonyan and 17 others in New York, Florida and California were charged in the case.
Solomonyan is scheduled for trial this month. His lawyer, Seth Ginsberg, said he plans to "vigorously contest" the charges and call the government's confidential informant to the stand to challenge his motives. The Italian, Russian, and Asian mafia remain active, particularly in New York, even though the government has successfully prosecuted numerous figures in recent years.
In the past three years, well over 100 associates from all five La Cosa Nostra families have been arrested in New York, Heron noted.
While the potential of a gangster-terrorist marriage is on the FBI's radar, homegrown terror cells and weapons of mass destruction are also big concerns for those in the FBI given the job of stopping the next terrorist attack…

I think it is the Russians and Asians though. The Asian organized crime gangs have connections to Al Qaeda and the Russians have connection to a lot of former Soviet Union military surplus. And if you have met any New York Italians, you would know they didn’t take to kindly to 9-11 or the people who did it, and they still don’t.

2 Comments:

Blogger quakerdave said...

I've always thought that, because of Hollywood, people give the guys in "organized crime" a lot more credit than they're due...

Most of these guys end up dead or in prison, after all.

Except in movieland.

Tue Oct 03, 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Well I am not a New Yorker, and I have only been there a couple of times, but I did meet a guy there once who if he was not in the Mafia was definitely not going to Church in his free time. But, he couldn’t have been nicer, I talked to him and his girlfriend for about an hour, and he invited me to come hang out at his “club” and to tell the guy at the door I said it was ok.
I didn’t go, but I always wondered about him.

Wed Oct 04, 12:28:00 AM  

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