Counter-Terrorism: The NSA Is Still Listening

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February 4, 2009: Palestinian terrorist Khalid al Jawary is about to be released from a U.S. prison, after serving half (time off for good behavior) his 30 year term for terrorism. He was convicted of planting three car bombs in New York City in 1973, but they did not go off. Al Jawary had already left the country when the NSA decrypted, on March 6th, a message from the Iraqi UN delegation to Baghdad, reporting that al Jawary had planted the bombs on March 4, 1973. The FBI and New York police were notified, but two of the car bombs left on busy 5th Avenue, had already been towed away by police (for parking violationss) the day before. The third one was parked at La Guardia airport, and a NYPD bomb technician deactivated the detonator.

The FBI and CIA kept tabs on al Jawary, and caught him in 1991. He was returned to the U.S. and tried for his bombing attempt. His fingerprints were all over the bombs, and there was other evidence as well. However, the NSA (National Security Agency) decryption was never entered into evidence, as the NSA and the State Department likes to keep that sort thing secret. For one thing, if you let a country know you are decrypting their secret communications, they will go looking for a stronger cipher that you might not be able to decrypt, or do so as quickly. The State Department does not like dealing with the complaints from foreign nations whose secret diplomatic messages have been decrypted by the NSA.

The decrypt disclosure just sort of slipped out, which the NSA also doesn't like. In 1973, Saddam Hussein was running Iraq on a day-to-day basis (he was still the number two guy). But he saw to it that Palestinian terrorist groups were given all possible support. Like the use of Iraqi diplomatic communications from individual terrorists, and their bosses headquartered in Iraq.

The 63 year old al Jawary apparently kept his mouth shut, and he is supposed to be deported after his release this month. But it's not been announced which country will take him. Probably Syria, which several Palestinian terrorist groups still call home. And, as far as we know, the NSA is still listening.

 

 

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