Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Military Techies Knew of Al Qaeda "Brooklyn Cell" in 2000

So NYT is reporting that a secret military intelligence unit called "Able Danger" had identified four of the 9/11 hijackers as potential Al Qaeda members back in the summer of 2000.
They wanted to tell the F.B.I. about the "Brooklyn Cell," but didn't...

Under American law, United States citizens and green-card holders may not be singled out in intelligence-collection operations by the military or intelligence agencies. That protection does not extend to visa holders, but [Kurt] Weldon [(R-Pennsylvania)] and the former intelligence official said it might have reinforced a sense of discomfort common before Sept. 11 about sharing intelligence information with a law enforcement agency.

The article gives a superficial description of the "data mining" approach used to ID the terrorists, and it sounds a lot like what the Germans used to find the Red Army Faction terrorists back in the '70s.
C'mon, Google... here we go (very cool piece, by the way).

How does Brooklyn fit in?

The official said the link to Brooklyn was meant as a term of art rather than to be interpreted literally, saying that the unit had produced no firm evidence linking the men to the borough of New York City but that a computer analysis seeking to establish patterns in links between the four men had found that "the software put them all together in Brooklyn."

Oh, that's comforting.

Compy: Lieutenant, I've found the terrorists in Brooklyn.

Lt.: A Brooklyn cell? Do you mean that as a term of art?

Compy: I'm ten times smarter than you, but I have no legs. So you, go to Brooklyn and kill these f***ers. Here's the address. Godspeed.

Lt.: Let me get the colonel over here. Colonel!

Colonel: So, Compy, you've finished your data mining?

Compy: All data point to Brooklyn. Go to this address and waste these guys. Here are their pictures.

Colonel: Whoa, better not go interpreting things literally. Lieutenant, label this the "Al Qaeda Cell 'Brooklyn,'" or AQCB.

Lieutenant: May I suggest ABC?

Colonel: Excellent. Then file it.

Lieutenant: Should we tell the F.B.I. in New York?

Compy: Yes! Tell...

Colonel: ...No, I'm concerned about offending people with valid visas. Hey, Compy, how's my project going?

Compy: Uh, yeah. I've located fourteen attractive single women who're attracted to programmers with crewcuts.

Colonel: Excellent. That is all.

Compy: What about Atta? Why did I even bother looking for these people?

Lieutenant: Sorry to pull rank, Compy, but make me another latte. And load Donkey Kong.

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