Tag Archives: terrorism

Rep. Daniel defends ISIS free speech comments

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Republican lawmaker on Thursday defended his comments that free speech rights on Tennessee college campuses should apply to everyone — even recruiters for the Islamic State group.

State Rep. Martin Daniel of Knoxville said on the floor of the state House that he supports First Amendment rights for people and groups regardless of whether he agrees with their aims.

“I will never apologize for defending the First Amendment,” he said. “I will always cloak myself in it, and defend others’ right to speak.”

Daniel had been challenged about the impact of his proposed “Tennessee Student Free Speech Protection Act” in a committee hearing a day earlier. Democratic Rep. John Deberry of Memphis had asked whether it would go so far as to allow people to stand in the middle of campus and “recruit for ISIS.”

Daniel responded that it would.
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TN shooting deemed terrorist act; medals for victims

By Travis Loller, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — After determining a shooting at a Chattanooga reserve center this summer was inspired by foreign terrorists, the Navy will award the Purple Heart to the four Marines and one sailor who were killed and the one Marine who was injured there.

U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced the decision Wednesday in a news release. He said the finding that the shooting was terrorist-inspired came after an extensive investigation by the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigation Service.

“This determination allows the Department of the Navy to move forward immediately with the award of the Purple Heart to the families of the five heroes who were victims of this terrorist attack, as well as to the surviving hero, Sgt. Cheeley,” Mabus’ statement reads.

The FBI earlier labeled shooter Muhammad Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen, a homegrown violent extremist but declined to say what might have motivated him. His family said he had problems with drugs and depression that prevented him from holding on to a job. He was also in debt, and considering bankruptcy at 24.

But investigators also found writings from Abdulazeez that reference Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric who encouraged and inspired attacks on the homeland and was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011.

Earlier Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey told reporters the July 16 attack was “inspired and motivated by foreign terrorist propaganda.”
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Matheny: TN terrorism met with ‘silence, inertia or deliberate avoidance’

Slightly edited email to media Friday from state Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma:

The murders by Mohammed Youssef Abdulazeez last week in Chattanooga should, sadly, not be a surprise to most of Tennessee’s leadership. A discernible pattern is emerging and there is no question that Tennessee is not immune. Rather, some terrorism experts believe Tennessee is a target.

A recent article at politico.com makes it clear that select Tennessee youth are targets for jihadists. (Note: See previous post HERE.)…Our terrorist problem in Tennessee has an added dimension; silence, inertia, or deliberate avoidance by many in our political leadership to the realities of the soft infiltration into Tennessee by individuals and institutions that have documented links to terrorist organizations.

Enough is Enough.

In September 2012, I met with Governor Haslam and others in his office and, based on the knowledge I learned from previous security briefings and from researching the material support bill, I urged them to expedite state efforts to prepare for the possibility of an attack in Tennessee.

In the same meeting, I also warned of possible financial activities in Tennessee that were funding Mid East and Tennessee based jihadist activities. Later I submitted to the governor’s office thoroughly researched and documented data of this. It was, based on my experience as a law enforcement veteran and on my thorough education in Islamic money laundering, more than enough data to warrant an investigation. To my knowledge, as of today no investigation has been undertaken. The data is still as viable as it was three years ago.

After I expressed both concerns, Governor Haslam responded to me that his security agencies informed him that the threat of white supremacists operating in Tennessee far exceeded any threats from Islamic terrorists so he believed that I owed the Muslim community an apology. I didn’t and I don’t. The Chattanooga murders prove me out.

Enough is Enough.

We must immediately begin using the law enforcement tools – both criminal and civil – that we have put into state law specifically to pursue, on a systemic basis, the infrastructure that supports these threats in our state. These bills were passed overwhelmingly by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Haslam.

Alexander yes, Corker no in USA Freedom Act vote

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander voted in favor of the USA Freedom Act, joining 66 other senators Tuesday in passing legislation supported by a coalition of Democrats and some Republicans while and opposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, reports The Tennessean.

“The bulk-data collection provisions of this legislation are weak and inadequate, but other provisions of the bill continue important PATRIOT Act tools that protect Americans, especially during this time of increased threats from terrorists,” Alexander said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., joined 32 senators in opposing the measure.

“One of the most fundamental functions of our government is to protect and defend its citizens,” Corker said in a statement.

“This bill falls short of that by making our counterterrorism tools less effective and limiting our ability to keep Americans safe from terrorist attacks, and that is not something I am able to support. Congress and the administration now must work with the private sector to fill the gaps in our intelligence capabilities to better defend the nation from terrorist acts while still respecting our civil liberties.”

…The USA Freedom Act re-enacts some of the provisions of the Patriot Act that expired Sunday. But it does not allow the National Security Agency to continue its bulk data collection.

Alexander and Corker originally favored extending the Patriot Act. Both were skeptical of the USA Freedom Act, arguing any measure that in any way cut programs included in the Patriot Act would be detrimental to the country’s safety.

TDEC demotes staffer who talked water quality terrorism

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation demoted the official who told a group of Mount Pleasant residents that unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered terrorism, reports The Tennessean.
Sherwin Smith, who was deputy director of TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, was demoted effective June 26, the agency said Tuesday. He returns to his prior position with the state’s Revolving Fund Program, which helps fund water projects in the state with low-interest loans.
“This is a lower-ranking position,” said Meg Lockhart, spokeswoman for TDEC. “It is my understanding the salary will be less than what he would be making had he not been removed from that position.”

(Previous post HERE)

Complaining About Water Quality Could be ‘Act of Terrorism’

A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director warned a group of Maury County residents that unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered an “act of terrorism,” reports The Tennessean.
“We take water quality very seriously. Very, very seriously,” said Sherwin Smith, deputy director of TDEC’s Division of Water Resources, according to audio recorded by attendees.
“But you need to make sure that when you make water quality complaints you have a basis, because federally, if there’s no water quality issues, that can be considered under Homeland Security an act of terrorism.”
“Can you say that again, please?” an audience member can be heard asking on the audio. Smith went on in the recording to repeat the claim almost verbatim.
The audio was recorded May 29 by Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, a Smyrna-based civic action group that had been working with Maury County residents to tackle water quality complaints in Mount Pleasant.
Residents there have complained to the state for months, saying some children had become ill drinking the water. The meeting was organized by State Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, and attended by residents, TDEC and local officials.

UPDATE: TDEC says the comment was “inappropriate.”

Note: News release from enviornmental groups is below.

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Womick’s Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb Claim Questioned

In remarks to a state House subcommittee, Rep. Rick Womick, R-Murfreesboro, said that an electromagnetic pulse bomb went off near Shelbyville about two years ago. The comment came in urging support for his bill (HB1327) to require that the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security provide background checks and security clearances for ten legislators serving on a special security committee.
Blogger Jeff Woods reports that he has checked around with Shelbyville officials and the local newspaper – which, according to Womick, reported on the EPB in a very small story – in an attempt to verify the Womick claim. No one had heard of such an incident.
His conclusion:
Yes, possibly Womick is confused. He has been known to, ahem, stretch the truth from time to time. He might be talking nonsense, just another tin foil-wrapped nutjob spinning bizarre paranoid fantasies. On the other hand, just because no one will admit that it happened doesn’t mean it didn’t. Think about it. If it did happen, would the Powers that Be talk about it? Of course not. Too many people have never heard of this E-bomb explosion. Doesn’t that make you suspicious? The plot thickens.

State’s 2002 Anti-Terrorism Law Rarely Used

Amal Abdullahi is the first person in Davidson County to be arrested under the state’s anti-terrorism laws, reports The Tennessean. along with the observation that charges have rarely been upheld when applied in other cases elsewhere in Tennessee.
Abdullahi, 29, was arrested Sept. 6, on the charge after a co-worker at CEVA Logistics accused her of saying that America was full of unbelievers who should die and that she should pick up a gun and shoot everyone. She’s one of only nine people The Tennessean has been able to identify in the state as having been arrested on terrorism-related charges since the laws went into effect in 2002.
All but one of the defendants whose cases came to a conclusion had their charges dismissed or were convicted on lesser charges.
State Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, who supported the state’s 2002 terrorism laws, says there could be a lot of reasons that terrorism charges are often reduced or dropped.
“There could be extenuating circumstances; the individual could be mentally ill. They could have made it (the threat) in the heat of some emotional distress and really not meant it. I think one would probably have to look at the intent of the individual, did they really mean that,” McNally said. “And I think that’d be something that the district attorney general would take into account, whether the individual could actually do it or not.”
…Abdullahi is free on $50,000 bond after family was able to post her bail. She is expected to be in court Oct. 10 and has retained Nashville attorney David Raybin.
“Due to the gravity of the charges against her, I feel that it’s inappropriate for us to discuss the specifics of the charge, other than to deny the allegations,” Raybin said. “She is certainly a devout Muslim and respects her religion and respects other people’s religions.”

Islam Critic Training Law Enforcement Officers on Islam

A former FBI agent who claims Nashville’s mosques have no legal right to exist is training the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office about Islam and the threats of terrorism, according to The Tennessean.
John Guandolo, vice president of the Arlington, Va.-based Strategic Engagement Group, is leading training being held at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro. He spoke at an anti-Shariah law event at Cornerstone Church in Madison on Nov. 11, calling local mosques front organizations for the Muslim Brotherhood with no right to exist.
“They do not have a First Amendment right to do anything,” Guandolo said then.
Rutherford Sheriff Robert Arnold said his department simply wants to learn about Muslim culture.
“There are not many classes out there for anything when it comes to Muslims … but this training isn’t just about that, it has many other components to it,” he said. “My stance is and my office’s stance is, we are not here to pick sides. I am here to protect the people of this county, and I am never going to waiver from that.”

Anti-Terrorism Bill (watered-down version) Goes to Governor

News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN), May 21, 2011 – The State Senate today voted 26 to 3 to approve an anti-terrorism bill that updates the Tennessee Terrorism Prevention Act that was passed shortly after the 9-11 terrorist attacks and was approved unanimously in both the House and Senate. The “Material Support to Designated Entities Act of 2011” now makes the provision of “material support” a Class A felony and helps to close the prevention gap left by the 2002 statute.
“After discussions with all interested parties the bill was rewritten to achieve a fiscally responsible way to cut off “material support” that assists those planning to commit terrorist acts in Tennessee since it is the support that typically makes the acts more likely to occur,” said Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), sponsor of the bill. “This bill is very timely, in view of the fact that an August 2010 background report showed 21 U.S. citizens were charged in terrorist cases in 2009 and another 20 were charged in 2010 between January and August.”
The trajectory of cases of homegrown terrorism includes actors such as Memphis Carlos Bledsoe who attempted to firebomb the home of a Nashville rabbi and went on to murder 24-year old Private William Long in Arkansas. Secretary Janet Napolitano has called out to states to become more active and engaged in counter-terrorism measures.
The new amendment eliminates designation of terrorist entities by the state authorities and instead, defers to designations already made by the U.S. Secretary of State and the Department of the Treasury. The bill supports the work of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in continuing the collaboration between federal and state law enforcement authorities.
Ketron said the bill is an even handed and non-discriminatory counter-terrorism measure. The bill specifically declares that it does not target the peaceful practice of any religion. It, however, prohibits using religious doctrine as a justification for terrorist acts in Tennessee.
“It should be a priority of ours to protect the citizens of our great state – there will be no prosperity without security,” he concluded.
The bill now goes to Governor Bill Haslam for his signature.