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DHS Enforcing Critical Identification Requirements to Protect the Homeland

WASHINGTON – Beginning February 5, 2018, residents of American Samoa will no longer be able to use territory-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards to fly domestically, or enter federal buildings and military installations. On that date, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin enforcing compliance with the Real ID Act to better protect the American people.

American Samoa formerly had an extension that allowed federal agencies to continue to accept its driver’s licenses and identification cards. However, that extension expired on October 10, 2017, triggering a three month grace period before enforcement would begin on February 5, 2018. American Samoa has subsequently not been able to demonstrate a clear achievable plan for compliance as needed to receive a new extension.


DHS continues to work with American Samoa on what actions it can take to receive a new extension. DHS has provided grants and offers technical assistance to support compliance with the REAL ID security requirements.

 

IMPACT ON AMERICAN SAMOA RESIDENTS

As a result of today’s decision, a driver’s license or ID issued by American Samoa (AS) will no longer be an acceptable document to board a federally-regulated commercial aircraft. American Samoa is the only state or territory that has not reached compliance or received an extension. As a result, starting February 5, 2018, American Samoan residents should bring to the airport an identity document acceptable to TSA. TSA provides a list of acceptable documents here

To allow for a smooth transition, between February 5, 2018 and May 6, 2018, TSA will provide assistance to American Samoans who arrive at an airport without an acceptable identification document. 

For federal buildings and military bases, REAL ID only affects locations where individuals are required to present an identification document for access. It does not require individuals to present identification where it is not otherwise required. When planning a visit to a Federal facility or military base, residents of American Samoa should contact the facility to determine what, if any, identification is needed for access.

 

BACKGROUND ON REAL ID

Based on a recommendation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, REAL ID is a coordinated effort by the states and the federal government to inhibit terrorists’ ability to evade detection by using fraudulently-obtained driver’s licenses and identification cards. The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005, and is designed to ensure that people boarding a flight or entering a federal building are who they say they are.

REAL ID established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards. This includes incorporating anti-counterfeiting technology, preventing insider fraud, and using documentary evidence and record checks to ensure a person is who he or she claims to be. It also prohibits federal agencies from accepting non-compliant licenses and identification cards for access to federal facilities, nuclear power plants, and commercial aircraft. The goal of REAL ID is to improve the reliability and accuracy of state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards used for Federal official purposes.

Because of the potential for confusion about the REAL ID enforcement milestones, residents can use the following guidelines to be fully informed and prepared.

  • Be aware of changes to American Samoa’s status. You can check for updates on REAL ID compliance or extensions at www.dhs.gov/real-id.
  • Read answers to frequently asked questions at www.dhs.gov/real-id-public-faqs.
  • Bring identity documents to the airport that are acceptable for flying domestically. TSA provides a list of acceptable alternative documents at www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification. If you need to obtain a new form of ID, please allow sufficient processing time before you travel. For example, the current processing times for U.S. passports are 6-8 weeks for routine service and 2-3 weeks for expedited service.

DHS is working closely with American Samoa to implement their REAL ID requirements and stands ready to provide additional assistance as needed. The women and men of DHS will continue to work tirelessly to put protections in place to keep our country and our people safe.

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Two Top Leaders in Italy and Five Us Residents Indicted for Racketeering, Health Care Fraud and Drug Trafficking Conspiracies to Distribute Opioids Resulting in Deaths Involving “Pill Mills” Operating in Tennessee and Florida

January 19, 2018 - On Jan. 4, a federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tennessee, returned a 14-count superseding indictment unsealed today charging seven individuals for their roles in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) conspiracy and drug trafficking conspiracy to distribute and dispense oxycodone, oxymorphone and morphine outside the scope of professional practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose and resulting in deaths, maintenance of drug-involved premises, distribution of oxycodone resulting in death, conspiracy to defraud the United States through the solicitation and receipt of illegal healthcare kickbacks and money laundering.

 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey of the Eastern District of Tennessee and Special Agent in Charge Renae M. McDermott of the FBI’s Knoxville Division made the announcement.

 

“Throughout this country, and certainly in Tennessee and Florida, the illegal and unconscionable mass-distribution of prescription opioids through the operation of illegal pain clinics has taken a heavy toll on our citizens, families and communities,” said Attorney General Sessions.  “This sort of profiteering effectively trades human lives for financial riches.  The U.S. Department of Justice is determined to stamp out the operation of illegal pain clinics by all legal means, including finding and arresting those responsible wherever they may be in the world.”

 

“The Eastern District of Tennessee has been at the forefront in the battle against illegal pain clinics and mass-prescribing of opioids for years,” said U.S. Attorney Overbey.  “Now, under the leadership of Attorney General Sessions, additional resources have been made available through recent Department of Justice initiatives, including the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Task Force.  This latest indictment is a real and tangible result of all of those combined efforts.  The citizens of East Tennessee can be assured that we are committed to ridding our district of illegal pill mills.”

 

Luca Sartini, 58, of Rome, Italy, and Miami; Luigi Palma aka Jimmy Palma, 51, of Rome, Italy, and Miami; Benjamin Rodriguez, 42, of Delray Beach, Florida; Sylvia Hofstetter, 53, of Knoxville; Courtney Newman, 42, of Knoxville; Cynthia Clemons, 45, of Knoxville; and Holli Womack aka Holli Carmichael, 44, of Knoxville, are charged in a third superseding indictment filed in the Eastern District of Tennessee.

 

On Jan. 19, Sartini and Palma were arrested in the Rome, Italy-area by Italian authorities.  Extradition is being sought by the United States.  Rodriguez is set to self-surrender.  All other defendants were previously charged in prior indictments.  The case has been assigned to Chief U.S. District Court Judge Thomas A. Varlan in Knoxville.

 

According to the indictment, Sartini, Palma, Rodriguez, Hofstetter and a co-conspirator charged in another indictment, from about April 2009 to March 2015, ran the Urgent Care & Surgery Center Enterprise (UCSC), which operated opioid based pain management clinics, “pill mills,” in Florida and Tennessee, where powerful narcotics were prescribed and/or dispensed.  The defendants are alleged to have hired medical providers with DEA registration numbers, which would allow the providers to prescribe controlled substances. The prescriptions were primarily large doses of highly addictive and potentially deadly controlled substances. As alleged in the indictment, individuals seeking prescriptions would often travel long distances purporting to suffer from severe chronic pain.  

 

The superseding indictment alleges the defendants distributed quantities of oxycodone, oxymorphone and morphine sufficient to generate clinic revenue of at least $21 million.  As per the indictment, the clinics did not accept insurance, received gross fees and ordered unnecessary drug screenings defrauding Medicare.  Shell companies were set up to launder the proceeds.

 

As alleged in the indictment, approximately 700 UCSC enterprise patients are now dead and a significant percentage of those deaths, directly or indirectly, were the result of overdosing on narcotics prescribed by the USSC Enterprise. As alleged in the indictment, the narcotics prescribed by the UCSC enterprise contributed to the deaths of another significant percentage of those patients.

 

The indictment further alleges that many patients arrived in groups, who were sponsored by drug dealers who paid for the pain clinic visits and prescriptions to obtain all or part of the opioids and other narcotics prescribed to the purported pain patients. In return, drug addicted patients would receive a portion of prescribed narcotics for free from the sponsor.

 

To date, as a result of this investigation, approximately 30 narcotics traffickers have been charged and convicted federally, and approximately 80 to 90 smaller narcotic distributers have also been charged and convicted.  Today’s superseding indictment is among 35 related indictments charging approximately 140 individuals, including medical providers who worked at the pill mills, with various crimes.

 

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

 

The superseding indictment is the result of an investigation conducted by the the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, , and the FBI High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) which is comprised of investigators assigned to the task force by the Loudon County Sheriff’s Office, Knoxville Police Department, Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Roane County Sheriff’s Office, Harriman Police Department and Clinton Police Department.  Other agencies provided invaluable assistance, including the Rome Attaché of the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs; the FBI’s liaison in Rome; the FBI Miami Health Care Fraud Strike Force; the Hollywood, Florida Police Department; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the Tennessee Department of Health; and the DEA’s Knoxville Diversion Group.  The Department of Justice extends its gratitude to Interpol and the Italian Financial Police (Guardia di Finanza) for their assistance in locating and apprehending the defendants.

 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tracy L. Stone and Anne-Marie Svolto of the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Trial Attorney Kelly Pearson of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, are prosecuting the case.

 

In light of the nationwide opioid epidemic which led to the declaration of a public health emergency by the Acting Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services on Oct. 26, 2017, this superseding indictment represents just the latest in a series of federal efforts in the Eastern District of Tennessee meant to combat the scourge of prescription opioids.

Alert (TA18-004A) Meltdown and Spectre Side-Channel Vulnerability Guidance

Systems Affected

CPU hardware implementations

Overview

On January 3, 2018, the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) became aware of a set of security vulnerabilities—known as Meltdown(link is external) and Spectre(link is external)— that affect modern computer processors. Exploitation of these vulnerabilities could allow an attacker to obtain access to sensitive information.

Description

CPU hardware implementations are vulnerable to side-channel attacks referred to as Meltdown and Spectre. Meltdown is a bug that "melts" the security boundaries normally enforced by the hardware. Meltdown affects desktops, laptops, and cloud computers.  Spectre is a flaw that an attacker can exploit to force a program to reveal its data. The name derives from speculative execution—an optimization method a computer system performs to check whether it will work to prevent a delay when actually executed. Spectre affects almost all devices including desktops, laptops, cloud servers, and smartphones. Many of these security issues are remediated through the Kernel Address Isolation to have Side-channels Efficiently Removed (KAISER) patch described in detail in an academic paper named “KASLR is Dead: Long Live KASLR.” While this paper identifies a fix for Linux operating systems, the exploit concepts in the article can apply to other operating systems.

More details of these attacks are described in detail by

Impact

An attacker can gain access to the system by establishing command and control presence on a machine via malicious Javascript, malvertising, or phishing. Once successful, the attacker’s next attempt will be to escalate privileges to run code on the machine. Running code will allow the attacker to exploit the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities. Sensitive information could be revealed from a computer’s kernel memory, which could contain keystrokes, passwords, encryption keys, and other valuable information.

Solution

NCCIC encourages users and administrators to refer to their hardware and software vendors for the most recent information. In the case of Spectre, the vulnerability exists in CPU architecture rather than in software, and is not easily patched; however, this vulnerability is more difficult to exploit. 

MICROSOFT

Microsoft has temporarily halted updates for AMD machines. More information can be found here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4073707/windows-os-security-update-block-for-some-amd-based-devices(link is external)

For machines running Windows Server, a number of registry changes must be completed in addition to installation of the patches.  A list of registry changes can be found here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4072698/windows-server-guidance-to-protect-against-the-speculative-execution(link is external)

ANTIVIRUS

Microsoft has recommended that third-party antivirus vendors add a change to the registry key of the machine that runs the antivirus software. Without it, that machine will not receive any of the following fixes from Microsoft:

  • Windows Update
  • Windows Server Update Services
  • System Center Configuration Manager 

More information can be found here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4072699/january-3-2018-windows-security-updates-and-antivirus-software(link is external).

MITIGATION

Mitre has published Common Vulnerability and Exposure (CVE) notes for Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) and Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715).

NCCIC recommends administrators review CISCO TALOS Snort SIDs: 45357 – 45368  and apply the necessary updates. These twelve rules were released as an emergency update on January 4, 2018, to cover the detection of Meltdown and Spectre side-channel vulnerabilities, and relate to CVE-2017-5715, CVE-2017-5753, and CVE-2017-5754. These signatures cover the specific proofs of concept and sample code outlined in the Spectre and Meltdown whitepapers. While these signatures have the potential to detect variants, they may not work for all cases.

The table provided below lists available advisories and patches. As patches and firmware updates continue to be released, it is important to check with your hardware and software vendors to verify that their corresponding patches can be applied, as some updates may result in unintended consequences. Note:Download any patches or microcode directly from your vendor’s website.

NCCIC recommends using a test environment to verify each patch before implementing.

After patching, performance impacts may vary, depending on use cases. Administrators should ensure that performance is monitored for critical applications and services, and work with their vendor(s) and service provider(s) to mitigate the effect, if possible.

Additionally, users and administrators who rely on cloud infrastructure should work with their CSP to mitigate and resolve any impacts resulting from host OS patching and mandatory rebooting.

 

Vulnerability Note VU#584653

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CPU hardware vulnerable to side-channel attacks

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Overview

CPU hardware implementations are vulnerable to cache side-channel attacks. These vulnerabilities are referred to as Meltdown and Spectre.

Description

Note: This Vulnerability Note is the product of ongoing analysis and represents our best knowledge as of the most recent revision. As a result, the content may change as our understanding of the issues develops.

CPU hardware implementations are vulnerable to side-channel attacks referred to as Meltdown and Spectre. Both Spectre and Meltdown take advantage of the ability to extract information from instructions that have executed on a CPU using the CPU cache as a side-channel. These attacks are described in detail by Google Project Zero, the Institute of Applied Information Processing and Communications (IAIK) at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) and Anders Fogh. The issues are organized into three variants:

  • Variant 1 (CVE-2017-5753, Spectre): Bounds check bypass
  • Variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715, also Spectre): Branch target injection
  • Variant 3 (CVE-2017-5754, Meltdown): Rogue data cache load, memory access permission check performed after kernel memory read

Spectre

Spectre attacks take advantage of a CPU's branch prediction capabilities. Modern CPUs include a feature called branch prediction, which speculatively executes instructions at a location that the CPU believes it will branch to. Such speculative execution helps to more fully utilize the parts of the CPU, minimizing the time waiting, and therefore improving performance. When a branch is successfully predicted, instructions will retire, which means the outcomes of the instructions such as register and memory writes will be committed. If a branch is mispredicted, the speculatively-executed instructions will be discarded, and the direct side-effects of the instructions are undone. What is not undone are the indirect side-effects, such as CPU cache changes. By measuring latency of memory access operations, the cache can be used to extract values from speculatively-executed instructions.

With Spectre variant 1 (CVE-2017-5753), the instructions after a conditional branch are speculatively executed as the result of a misprediction. With Spectre variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715), the CPU executes instructions at a location determined by a mispredicted branch target.

With both variants of the Spectre attack, the impact is that a process may leak sensitive data to other processes on a system. Spectre may also allow one part of an application to access other parts of the same process memory space that would otherwise not be permitted.

While the Spectre attack itself does not cross a user/kernel memory privilege boundary, depending on the configuration of the target platform, the Spectre attack may indirectly allow a user-space application to access kernel memory. For example, the Project Zero blog post describes a scenario that uses eBPF to exfiltrate kernel memory contents into user-space code. This is made possible because eBPF JIT allows for userspace applications to inject code that is executed in kernel space. While this code is verified by the kernel, eBPF-compliant code will be allowed to execute with kernel permissions. The exploit described by Project Zero leverages eBPF to execute the Spectre attack in kernel space, while exfiltrating the data to user space. It is possible that other technologies that allow in-kernel code execution may also possibly be leveraged to leak kernel memory using Spectre.

Meltdown

Meltdown is related to the Spectre attack in that it also uses a cache side channel to access data that otherwise wouldn't be available. The main difference is that it leverages out-of-order execution capabilities in modern CPUs. Like speculative execution due to branch prediction, as used by Spectre, out-of-order execution on a CPU is a technique for ensuring fullest utilization of the CPU's parts. Although instructions may appear sequentially in the machine language, a CPU that supports out-of-order execution may execute instructions in a non-sequential manner, which can minimize the time that a CPU spends idle.

Meltdown leverages insecure behavior that has been demonstrated in Intel CPUs and may affect CPUs from other vendors. Vulnerable CPUs allow memory reads in out-of-order instruction execution, and also contain a race condition between the raising of exceptions and the out-of-order instruction execution. The Meltdown attack reads a kernel memory value, which raises an exception because code running with user-space privileges are not permitted to directly read kernel memory. However, due to the race condition, out-of-order instructions following the faulting instruction may also execute. Even though instructions appear after the faulting instruction, out-of-order execution allows them to execute, using data retrieved from the instruction that raises the exception. By the time the exception is raised, some number of out-of-order instructions have executed. Although the raised exception causes the CPU to roll back the out-of-order instructions, the cache state is not reverted. This allows data from out-of-order instructions to persist beyond the point when the exception has been raised.

The impact of Meltdown is that a process running in user space is able to view the contents of kernel memory. Meltdown may also allow Spectre-like memory content leaking that does not cross the user/kernel privilege boundary.

The Linux kernel mitigations for Meltdown are referred to as KAISER, and subsequently KPTI, which aim to improve separation of kernel and user memory pages. Because the Spectre attacks do not cross user/kernel boundaries, the protections introduced with KAISER/KPTI do not add any protection against them.

 

 

Impact

An attacker able to execute code with user privileges can achieve various impacts. The Meltdown attack allows reading of kernel memory from userspace. This can result in privilege escalation, disclosure of sensitive information, or it can weaken kernel-level protections, such as KASLR. The Spectre attack can allow inter-process or intra-process data leaks.

To execute code locally, an attacker would require a valid account or independent compromise of the target. Attacks using JavaScript in web browsers are possible. Multi-user and multi-tenant systems (including virtualized and cloud environments) likely face the greatest risk. Systems used to browse arbitrary web sites are also at risk. Single-user systems that do not readily provide a way for attackers to execute code locally face significantly lower risk.

 

 

 

Solution

Apply updates

Operating system, CPU microcode updates, and some application updates mitigate these attacks. Note that in many cases, the software fixes for these vulnerabilities will have a negative affect on system performance. Also note that Microsoft Windows systems will no longer receive security updates via Windows Update if they are not running compliant anti-virus software. As with deploying any software updates, be sure to prioritize and test updates as necessary.

Consider CPU Options

Initial reports from the field indicate that overall system performance is impacted by many of the available patches for these vulnerabilities. Depending on the software workflow and the CPU capabilities present, the performance impact of software mitigations may be non-trivial and therefore may become an ongoing operational concern for some organizations. While we recognize that replacing existing CPUs in already deployed systems is not practical, organizations acquiring new systems should evaluate their CPU selection in light of the expected longevity of this vulnerability in available hardware as well as the performance impacts resulting from the various platform-specific software patches. Deployment contexts and performance requirements vary widely, and must be balanced by informed evaluation of the associated security risks. Contact your system vendor to determine if the CPU and operating system combination will experience a performance penalty due to software mitigations for these vulnerabilities.

New Crystal Group RACE™ accelerates autonomous vehicle development

HIAWATHA, Iowa, Jan. 17, 2018 -- Crystal Group Inc., a leading designer/manufacturer of rugged computer hardware for industry and defense, is introducing the first product in the new Crystal Group RACE™ (Rugged Autonomous Computer Equipment) line, engineered to accelerate autonomous vehicle (AV), automated driving system (ADS), and unmanned (UAV) projects. The Crystal Group RACE0161 high-performance, rugged computer is specifically designed to help engineers shorten development time, bringing autonomous vehicle innovations to market ahead of their competitors. The fast-paced autonomous industry is estimated to be worth trillions of dollars.

Autonomous driving technology is quickly ushering in a new economy predicted to achieve unprecedented growth and reach $7 trillion by 2050, according to a new study by Intel Corporation and Strategy Analytics. Crystal Group and Intel have partnered together to provide autonomous solutions for several leading OEM's to date. The partnership will continue to tap the booming autonomous market with leading edge technology of Crystal Group's new RACE offerings.

Crystal Group's latest autonomous vehicle computer provides the horsepower AV and ADS projects need, combining robust I/O, multiple GPU capacity, dual Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors, sophisticated thermal management, and other high-quality components stabilized in a rugged, aluminum enclosure measuring just 6.5 x 14.1 x 15.6 inches and weighing 30 to 40 pounds. Processing real-time data of LIDAR, RADAR, image, and sensor fusion, the Crystal Group RACE0161 combines impressive compute power, data-handling capabilities, and storage capacity in a compact, rugged solution capable of withstanding harsh environmental conditions, including potholes, collisions, and extreme temperatures that are likely to cause traditional systems to fail.
"The new RACE0161 and the entire line of Crystal Group RACE™ products ease AV and ADS development and give our customers the advantage of quick time-to-market with a safe, reliable, high quality AV solution," Crystal Group Executive Vice President of engineering, Jim Shaw says. "Our RACE solutions leverage decades of experience engineering rugged, reliable compute solutions for US and international military programs, as well as some of the world's largest car manufacturers," adds Shaw.

Crystal Group RACE systems are built for safety and reliability, tapping 30 years of experience tailoring high-performance, fail-safe rugged hardware for hundreds of military and aerospace missions, as well as challenging industrial, critical infrastructure, and commercial programs, including some of the hottest OEM autonomous vehicles. Crystal Group also offers its award-winning RS363S15F 3U Rugged Server, designed and developed in collaboration with Intel®, for use in autonomous vehicles.

About Crystal Group Inc.
Crystal Group Inc., a technology leader in rugged computer hardware, specializes in the design and manufacture of custom and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) rugged servers, embedded computing, networking devices, displays, power supplies, and data storage for high reliability in harsh environments. An employee-owned small business founded in 1987, Crystal Group provides the defense, government and industrial markets with in-house customization, engineering, integration, configuration management, product lifecycle planning, warranty, and support services.

Crystal Group products meet or exceed IEEE, IEC, and military standards (MIL-STD-810, 167-1, 461, MIL-S-901); are backed by warranty (5+ year) with in-house support; and are manufactured in the company's Hiawatha, Iowa, USA, facility certified to AS9100C:2009 and ISO 9001:2008 quality management standards.
© 2018 Crystal Group Inc.  All rights reserved. All marks are property of their respective owners. Design and specifications are subject to change.
SOURCE Crystal Group Inc.

Alleged Al Qaeda Associate Charged With Conspiring to Kill Americans and Other Terrorism Offenses

A Superseding Indictment charging Christian Ganczarski, aka Abu Mohamed, aka Abu Mohamed al Amani, aka Ibrahim, aka Ibrahim the German (Ganczarski), 51, with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals, providing and conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, and conspiring to provide material support and resources to al Qaeda, a designated foreign terrorist organization, was unsealed today in the Southern District of New York.  The United States is seeking Ganczarski’s extradition from France.

 

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Office and Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD made the announcement.

 

 “According to the superseding indictment, between 1999 and 2001, Ganczarski regularly interacted with members of al Qaeda leadership who were responsible for terrorist operations, and provided them with the knowledge and technology to carry out attacks against the U.S. military and its allies,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente.  “This case demonstrates the National Security Division’s resolve to find and bring to justice, terrorists who target U.S. interests in any part of the world.  I want to thank all of the prosecutors, agents and analysts who made this result possible.”

 

“Christian Ganczarski, a German national, allegedly provided critical support to the most prolific terrorists of our time,” said U.S. Attorney Berman.  “Today we publicly announce charges against Ganczarski alleging that he participated in the planning of plots to kill Americans with high-level al Qaeda terrorists Khaled Shaikh Mohammad, Usama bin Laden and others.  The unsealing of the indictment exemplifies this Office’s commitment to the relentless pursuit and prosecution of those who seek to harm Americans.”

 

“As alleged, Ganczarski willingly supported the goals of al Qaeda, immersing himself in social circles that included the likes of Usama bin Laden and one of the future hijackers in the September 11 attacks, among others,” said Assistant Director Sweeney.  “He allegedly participated in efforts to kill Americans by providing technological support and guidance, and arranged meetings between senior officials in the organization and other like-minded individuals bent on future attacks against U.S. interests.  While he’s spent the past fifteen years behind bars in France, we haven’t forgotten his allegiance to those who have threatened our interests both at home and abroad.  We will continue to work with our international partners to mitigate the threat of global terrorism, bringing to justice everyone who participates in or materially supports this crime.”

 

“As alleged, Christian Ganczarski worked for al-Qaeda, lived in its camps and guest houses,” said Police Commissioner O’Neill.  “He rubbed shoulders with Osama Bin Laden and the men who planned and executed plots from the bombing of U.S. embassies in East Africa that killed 225 people, to the 9-11 attacks that cost 3000 lives, most of them here in New York City.  Ganczarski allegedly provided al-Qaeda with expertise in logistics, computers, radio communications and the maintenance of weapons systems that would be used against Americans soldiers after the 9/11 attacks.  This case is another example of the work of the FBI agents and NYPD detectives of the Joint Terrorism Task Force.  There is no time too long, or place to far, or suspect out of reach when it comes to bringing terrorists, or those who aid them to justice.”

 

As alleged in the Superseding Indictment unsealed in federal court:

 

Al Qaeda is an international terrorist organization dedicated to opposing non-Islamic governments with force and violence.  The organization was founded by Usama bin Laden and Muhammad Atef, aka Abu Hafs el Masri (Abu Hafs el Masri), and was headquartered in Afghanistan since approximately 1996.  Bin Laden served as the leader or “emir” of al Qaeda until his death on or about May 2, 2011. 

 

Al Qaeda has a command control structure that included a majlis al shura (or consultation council) that discussed and approved major undertakings, including terrorist operations.  Bin Laden and Abu Hafs el Masri sat on the majlis al shura of al Qaeda, as did others, including Saif al Adel.  Khaled Shaikh Mohammad, aka Mukhtar, devised, planned, and facilitated terrorist operations for al Qaeda, and he also assisted in the preparation of promotional media used by al Qaeda to advertise its terrorist agenda and attract recruits.

 

Ganczarski, a German citizen born in Poland, traveled from Germany to Pakistan and Afghanistan on at least five separate occasions between 1999 and 2001.  During these trips, Ganczarski became associated with al Qaeda and developed personal relationships with bin Laden, Abu Hafs el Masri, al Adel and Mohammad.  Ganczarski lived at times with his family at al Qaeda’s fortified compound near Kandahar, Afghanistan.  At other times, Ganczarski lived in guest houses and other facilities operated by al Qaeda in Afghanistan.  Ganczarski participated in al Qaeda’s efforts to kill Americans in a number of ways, such as providing al Adel and other al Qaeda members with technological guidance and hardware, including computers, radios and other communications equipment. 

 

In approximately January 2000, Ganczarski attended a speech delivered by bin Laden at al Qaeda’s headquarters in Kandahar.  The January 2000 speech was attended by at least 100 men, including, among others, many significant al Qaeda leaders and terrorists, such as at least one of the plotters in the August 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in East Africa, and one of the future hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States (the September 11 Attacks).  During the speech, Ganczarski sat in the front row with al Adel’s son in his lap.

 

In approximately March 2000, Ganczarski attended a meeting in Karachi, Pakistan, between Mohammad and a member of Jamaah Islamiyah (CC-1), a Southeast Asia terrorist organization, at which U.S. and Israeli targets for terrorist attacks were discussed.  Following the meeting, Ganczarski helped transport CC-1 and a written communication from Mohammad to al Qaeda’s fortified compound in Kandahar, where Ganczarski spoke to bin Laden and took CC-1 to meetings with al Adel and Abu Hafs el Masri at which potential attacks on U.S. and Israeli interests were further discussed.

 

Ganczarski was in Germany at the time of the September 11 Attacks, and he indicated after the attacks that he had been aware that a significant event was about to occur.  In approximately early October 2001, Ganczarski returned to Afghanistan and met with other members of al Qaeda, including al Adel.  In approximately November 2001, Ganczarski and others attempted to repair anti-aircraft missiles controlled by al Qaeda that were not functioning, so that the missiles could be fired at U.S. military aircraft flying in the area at the time.

 

Ganczarski was arrested in France in 2003, and subsequently convicted of offenses under French law relating to a 2002 al Qaeda attack on a synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia.  Ganczarski has been incarcerated in France since being convicted.

  

*                *                *

 

The Superseding Indictment charges Ganczarski, with four counts: one count of conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; two counts of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to terrorists, and provision of material support and resources to terrorists, which carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison on each count; and one count of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization (al Qaeda) which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

 

The maximum potential penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant would be determined by the judge.  The charges contained in the Superseding Indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

Mr. Boente and Mr. Berman praised the extraordinary investigative work of the FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force – which principally consists of agents from the FBI and detectives from the NYPD – for the critical role they played and continue to play in the investigation of Ganczarski and his co-conspirators.  In addition, Mr. Berman thanked the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and Office of International Affairs.

 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Emil J. Bove III and Amanda L. Houle of the Southern District of New York are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney David Smith of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

Justice Department Files Notice to Appeal and Intends to Petition for Immediate Supreme Court Review in DACA Lawsuit

The Department of Justice today filed a notice of appeal in The Regents of the University of California and Janet Napolitano v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Elaine Duke seeking review before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  The Department also intends later this week to take the rare step of filing a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment, seeking direct review in the Supreme Court.

“It defies both law and common sense for DACA—an entirely discretionary non-enforcement policy that was implemented unilaterally by the last administration after Congress rejected similar legislative proposals and courts invalidated the similar DAPA policy—to somehow be mandated nationwide by a single district court in San Francisco,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “It is clear that Acting Secretary Duke acted within her discretion to rescind this policy with an orderly wind down. This was done both to give Congress an opportunity to act on this issue and in light of ongoing litigation in which the injunction against DAPA had already been affirmed by the Supreme Court. We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved.”

Justice Department Files Notice to Appeal and Intends to Petition for Immediate Supreme Court Review in DACA Lawsuit

The Department of Justice today filed a notice of appeal in The Regents of the University of California and Janet Napolitano v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Elaine Duke seeking review before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  The Department also intends later this week to take the rare step of filing a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment, seeking direct review in the Supreme Court.

“It defies both law and common sense for DACA—an entirely discretionary non-enforcement policy that was implemented unilaterally by the last administration after Congress rejected similar legislative proposals and courts invalidated the similar DAPA policy—to somehow be mandated nationwide by a single district court in San Francisco,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “It is clear that Acting Secretary Duke acted within her discretion to rescind this policy with an orderly wind down. This was done both to give Congress an opportunity to act on this issue and in light of ongoing litigation in which the injunction against DAPA had already been affirmed by the Supreme Court. We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved.”

Bureau of Prisons Tests Micro-Jamming Technology in Federal Prison to Prevent Contraband Cell Phones

 

On January 17, 2018, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), in collaboration with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission, conducted a test of micro-jamming technology at the Federal Correctional Institution at Cumberland, Maryland.  The test was conducted to determine if micro-jamming could prevent wireless communication by an inmate using a contraband device at the individual cell housing unit level. 

Prior to this test, the BOP had conducted a limited cellphone jamming demonstration with NTIA in 2010, at the same field site in Cumberland supporting NTIA’s congressionally-mandated study of cellphone interdiction technologies.  

As part of the Jan. 17 test, NTIA conducted an independent evaluation of micro-jamming technology to determine its efficacy and interference potential with Radio Frequency communications.  The BOP and NTIA will review the data and analysis results from both BOP’s and NTIA’s testing and develop recommendations for strategic planning and possible acquisition.

“Contraband cell phones in prisons pose a major and growing security threat to correctional officers, law enforcement officials, and the general public,” said Assistant Attorney General Beth Williams of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy.  “As criminals increase their technological capacity to further criminal activity from within prisons, we must also explore technologies to prevent this from happening.  This test is part of our ongoing efforts to find a solution.” 

Contraband cellphones have been an ongoing correctional security and public safety concern for the BOP as well as for state and local correctional agencies across the country.  Contraband phones are used to further ongoing criminal activity, including threats to public officials, intimidation of witnesses, and continuance of criminal enterprises.  

The BOP will continue to evaluate cell phone detection technologies and work with its federal partners and Congress to achieve cost-effective options to combat this threat to corrections and public safety.  The agency does not endorse any specific vendor or product. 

CBP’s Air and Marine Operations in Miami Partners with U.S. Marshals Service during Coordinated Takedown

MIAMI—U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Air and Marine Operations (AMO) Miami Air and Marine Branch (MAMB), working in partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service for the Southern District of Florida Special Operations Group and Miami-Dade Police Department, provided air support during the arrest of a high-risk fugitive with ties dating back to Miami’s “cocaine cowboys” era.

CBP Air and Marine Operations Miami Air and Marine Branch crews with Air Crew Rifle Operators (ACROs) used sophisticated surveillance equipment and streamed live video as part of the multi-agency operations on Jan. 12. Additionally, Marine Interdiction Agents from the Miami and Key Largo Marine Units supported the U.S. Marshals Service tactical commander with communications assistance.

Once law enforcement personnel arrived at the residence, the suspect attempted to evade authorities on an ATV and then on foot. The AMO crew located the individual and directed ground agents to his location for the arrest. The suspect was on the run for four years. Authorities also recovered a cache of weapons and $36,700 in cash.

“Partnership efforts and community involvement are extremely important to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mission,” said Martin Wade, Director of the Miami Air and Marine Branch. “This coordinated enforcement effort is a shining example of our ability to support our partner law enforcement agencies in apprehending a very high profile and dangerous fugitive.”

The mission of CBP's Air and Marine Operations is to serve and protect the American people.  AMO applies advanced aeronautical and maritime capabilities and employs a unique skill set to preserve America’s security interest. Air and Marine Operation’s day-to-day operations along Florida’s coastline involve patrolling the seas and skies, intercepting contraband, catching smugglers, and assisting in rescue and recovery operations.

Partnership efforts and community involvement are extremely important to U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mission.  CBP asks you to report maritime smuggling and other suspicious activities through 1-800-BE-ALERT or after hours toll-free number 1-800- 562-5943.
For breaking news and information updates from U.S. Customs and Border Protection follow @CustomsBorder @CBPFlorida and CBPCaribbean on Twitter. File footage is available through U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Public Affairs via the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.

NATSO Briefs House Homeland Security Committee on Industry Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 17, 2018 -- NATSO Foundation President Lisa Mullings today told members of the House Committee on Homeland Security that the truckstop and travel plaza industry plays a vital role in combating human trafficking that takes place along the nation's Interstate Highway System.  NATSO was invited to participate as an example of the positive role that the private sector can play in the fight against human trafficking.

"As an industry, our primary goal was not only to rally behind an important cause but also to have a real impact," said Mullings. "The multi-faceted approach taken by the truckstop and travel plaza industry illustrates that private enterprise can make a consequential difference in the fight against human trafficking. When companies take the time to learn about it and invest resources into combatting it, it can make a real difference in changing lives for the better. We thought it was important for Congress to know this."

Mullings briefed the House Homeland Security Committee about the multi-pronged anti-human trafficking initiative undertaken by the NATSO Foundation on behalf of the entire truckstop and travel plaza industry.

Specifically, Mullings cited the NATSO Foundation's partnership with the Department of Homeland Security's Blue Campaign to distribute public awareness materials that truckstops can post in their locations.

As an industry that caters to millions of travelers every year, truckstops and travel plazas and their employees are in a key position to help identify and report suspected incidents of human trafficking. Although there is no official estimate for the total number of U.S. human trafficking victims, it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of adults and minors are victims of human trafficking each year in the United States — many of whom are moved from state to state along our Interstate Highway System.

"Our partnership with DHS and the law enforcement community helps ensure that the millions of Americans who stop at truckstops and travel plazas nationwide are educated about human trafficking and able to assist in the transportation sector's fight against this crime," Mullings said.

The NATSO Foundation has been helping members of the truckstop and travel plaza community engage in the fight against human trafficking since 2012. The NATSO Foundation's goal is to provide the truckstop and travel plaza industry with the necessary tools to train owners, operators and employees so that those individuals are equipped to help if they encounter a victim of this horrible crime.

The NATSO Foundation provides the industry with an online education course, titled "The Role of Truckstops in Combating Human Trafficking," to help truckstops and travel plazas train their staff in recognizing and responding to suspected incidents of human trafficking. The course is available on the NATSO Foundation's website free of charge so that any member of the truckstop and travel plaza industry can leverage this educational resource. The course can be accessed at www.natso.com/onlinelearning.

The NATSO Foundation is the research, education and public outreach subsidiary of NATSO. NATSO is the trade association of America's travel plaza and truckstop industry. Founded in 1960, NATSO represents the industry on legislative and regulatory matters; serves as the official source of information on the diverse travel plaza and truckstop industry; provides education to its members; conducts an annual convention and trade show; and supports efforts to generally improve the business climate in which its members operate.

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