Two Aurora cousins — one an Illinois National Guardsman — plotted to have one carry out a terrorist attack at a northern Illinois military facility while the other traveled overseas to fight with Islamic State, federal authorities alleged Thursday.
Hasan Edmonds, 22, an Army National Guard specialist, was arrested Wednesday night at Midway Airport as he attempted to fly to Cairo to wage violence on behalf of Islamic State, according to authorities.
Edmonds’ cousin, Jonas Edmonds, 29, planned to carry out the attack against a military installation after his cousin departed the country, authorities said.
The cousins made an initial appearance in federal court Thursday afternoon while shackled at the ankles and handcuffed. Both face up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Jonas Edmonds appeared to be acting strangely in the courtroom, yawning loudly, swiveling in a chair and tugging at his beard.
His cousin, bald and wearing glasses, was subdued. Asked a question by the judge, he first nodded his head. Told he had to answer aloud, his voice was barely audible.
The federal complaint says the two met with an undercover FBI employee and presented a plan to carry out an armed attack against an undisclosed U.S. military facility in northern Illinois where Hasan Edmonds had been training, the criminal complaint alleges.
Jonas Edmonds asked the undercover FBI employee to assist in the attack and said they would use Hasan Edmonds’ uniforms and inside knowledge of how to access the installation and target officers for attack, authorities charged.
lRelated Terror suspect: ‘If we can break their spirits we will win’
Hasan Edmonds was assigned to Golf Company of the Joliet-based 634th Brigade Support Battalion, according to the National Guard. The complaint does not name the facility the cousins allegedly plotted to attack.
In an online exchange Jan. 30, Hasan Edmonds told the undercover agent that the best way to beat the U.S. and its Army was to “break their will,” according to the complaint.
“With the U.S., no matter how many you kill they will keep coming unless the soldiers and the American public no longer have the will to fight,” Edmonds wrote, according to the complaint. “If we can break their spirits, we will win.”
A woman who identified herself as Hasan’s sister and Jonas’ cousin said by phone Thursday that the FBI showed up Wednesday night at the family home in Aurora armed with a search warrant and removed computers from the address.
Manchinique Bates, 23, repeatedly denied the charges against them were true, saying her brother and cousin never spoke of any extreme beliefs.
“To be honest, we didn’t know anything about my brother trying to travel across seas nor did we know about the supposed attacks my cousin was supposedly doing,” she said. “… They don’t go out seeking trouble. … Neither one of them come off as terrorists. They aren’t terrorists.”
Bates, who said she also had been in the National Guard, said she and her brother and other family members joined the military together as a way to travel and help the country.
“I do not feel as if my cousin or brother would ever do anything of such nature,” she said. “My brother is very, very much so … what is the word I am looking for .. he is always .. into the military .. and wanting to join the Army.”
Bates said she last saw her brother leave the house around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday without any bags.
The FBI said it began investigating Hasan Edmonds late last year, when the agency discovered that he and Jonas Edmonds allegedly had devised a plan for Hasan Edmonds to travel overseas and use his military training to fight for Islamic State.
Hasan Edmonds booked a flight to leave Chicago on Wednesday and arrive in Cairo on Thursday, with layovers in Detroit and Amsterdam.
Jonas Edmonds was to stay behind “to carry out an act of terrorism in the United States,” the complaint states.
According to the complaint, the cousins met with a second undercover agent on Monday to discuss the planned attack on the military installation where Hasan Edmonds had been training.
Jonas told the undercover worker that after his cousin left for the Middle East, he planned to purchase weapons, including AK-47 assault rifles and grenades, from a third party and then attack the facility, anticipating a “body count” of 100 to 150 people.
Hasan Edmonds said he would provide a list of officer rankings, advising they should “kill the head,” the complaint alleged.
The next day, all three drove to the installation to scout the attack, according to the complaint. Hasan Edmonds described the inside of the installation and which rooms to avoid during the assault. He also went into the facility and “retrieved a military training schedule,” which he gave to his cousin, the complaint alleged.
Lt. Col. Brad Leighton, a spokesman for the Illinois National Guard, said federal authorities informed the Guard that Edmonds was under investigation, so the Guard took “discrete but concrete steps” to ensure he didn’t have access to equipment or computers and even gave him different duties.
Leighton said Edmonds was a supply specialist who joined the Guard in August 2011. He last drilled with the Guard for a weekend this month, he said.
Both cousins were charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization. That charge carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan set a detention hearing for Hasan Edmonds on Monday, while attorneys for Jonas Edmonds decided not to fight his detention.
The cousins attended West Aurora High School, according to district spokesman Tony Martinez. Hasan Edmonds graduated in 2011. Jonas Edmonds left the district’s system in 2004 when he was a senior.
According to the complaint, Jonas Edmonds spent time in a Georgia prison for a felony conviction.
Online court records from Cobb County in suburban Atlanta show that Jonas Edmonds was charged along with two others in the 2004 armed robbery of a McDonald’s restaurant. He pleaded guilty in 2005 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Records show he was released in June 2010.
<p style=” margin: 12px auto 6px auto; font-family: Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 14px; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; -x-system-font: none; display: block;”> <a title=”View EDMONDS Complaint Affidavit on Scribd” href=”http://www.scribd.com/doc/260037749″ style=”text-decoration: underline;” >EDMONDS Complaint Affidavit</a></p>https://www.scribd.com/embeds/260037749/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&show_recommendations=true
Bergdahl charged with desertion after months with Taliban
Infowars reporter Joe Biggs discusses the blatant lies told by the Obama Administration regarding the swap of a deserter for 5 Taliban leaders.
The head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC), who masterminded the killing of Osama bin Laden and the drone campaign, is being removed from his post at a time when the agency is focusing on a new generation of extremist threats.
The CTC chief, whose real name is Mike but who took on the pseudonym ‘Roger’ with the CIA, was revered as a Captain Ahab-like figure from Moby Dick, the Washington Post reported.
His efforts to help hunt down and kill bin Laden culminated on May 2, 2011, during an operation by SEAL Team Six. The event was the basis for the film ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ which was nominated for five Academy Awards. The character known as ‘The Wolf’ was based on Roger.
He was merciless to his colleagues but was also renowned as one of the best intelligence officers of his generation. He had an excellent knowledge of terrorist networks, and even converted to Islam – although his approach to counterterrorism was killing-centric and enraged many Muslims.
He was described by a CIA spokesman to the Washington Post as one of the “true heroes of the agency.”
“After nearly a decade of outstanding work in this post, including the takedown of countless terrorists and many other successes in protecting the country, he will be moving on in connection with the CIA modernization plan announced last month,” said CIA spokesman Dean Boyd.
Michael Morrel, former deputy director of the CIA, went further in his praise.
“[Roger was] one of the finest intelligence officers of his generation. I don’t think there has been a more successful unit in the history of the agency than the CTC during this individual’s tenure,” he said.
US officials have said he will remain within the CIA and will be given a new assignment which is yet to be decided.
Roger’s removal from the role will not signal any shift in policy of the CTC.
“The new individual is just as aggressive with counterterrorism operations as the guy leaving,” a former intelligence official, who knows both Roger and his replacement Chris, told the Washington Post.
The CIA is currently going through a transition as its director John Brennan creates new hybrid units that combine analysts and operatives more like the CTC.
Chris will be under pressure to develop a strategy against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). More brutal than Al-Qaeda, IS is drawing thousands of recruits from Europe and the US, as well as Middle Eastern and Asian countries.
Roger’s removal may have been part of plans by Brennan and Obama to diminish the importance of the CTC, according to one former intelligence official.
“I think President Obama and Brennan have wanted to clip the CTC’s wings. But at a time when the enemy is getting stronger and stronger, how can you pull back?” said the official who worked in the CTC.
But Roger had a dark side. His authority meant that he often had to approve drone strikes, sometimes when the true identity of suspected militants was not even known.
He was quoted by the Washington Post as saying “we’re killing these sons of bitches faster than they can grow them,” when asked about drone strikes.
His gung-ho approach has been criticized by some in the State Department and the Pentagon, who have argued that his focus on killing didn’t deal with the underlying causes of terrorism, and the emergence of the Islamic State appears to back this view up.
Roger was also said to be damaged by his running of secret CIA prisons and the use of torture on terrorism suspects, meaning he was ineligible for more senior CIA positions.
Brennan is believed to want to refocus the agency’s work on traditional intelligence gathering.
A coalition of 10 Sunni Arab states is on a military offensive against Shiite Houthi militants in Yemen, recently proclaimed by America’s president as a brilliant example of war on terror, but now catapulting the Middle East into the inferno of battle.
Saudi Arabia has initiated an international military operation in Yemen that many experts are already calling a proxy war against Iran, since Houthi fighters are believed to have strategic backup from Tehran.
The internal Yemeni conflict has the potential to transform into a military standoff based on religious background between the Sunni monarchies of the Persian Gulf on one side and Shiites of the region supported by Iran on the other.
US President Barack Obama has authorized “logistical and intelligence support.”
The coalition is bombing a country that used to have heavy American presence for years, since Washington used to station a fleet of assault UAVs in Yemen, waging drone warfare against militants of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
“This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the frontlines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years,” said Obama as recently as September 10, 2014.
This longstanding fruitful cooperation between Sanaa and Washington has had a bitter ending, as Houthi fighters captured Yemen’s major cities and are offering a reward for US-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, while the US were forced to evacuate its embassy from Yemen along with diplomatic missions of other western countries in early February.
Yemen’s territory has become increasingly fragmented, with Sunni militant groups operating in the south of the country and AQAP becoming active again.
The base with deployed US killer drones remained operable until last week, when it was abandoned like all other US installations in the country.
The developments in Yemen have drawn attention to Obama’s policy of dealing with terrorism hot-beds around the world from Republican Senators John Mc Cain and Lindsey Graham.
They rebuked the Obama administration over Yemen’s descent into a regional proxy war threatening to engulf the Middle East, calling it “another tragic case of leading from behind.”
Yemen now in many ways resembles Libya, disintegrating after foreign intervention, or Syria, devastated by years of civil war, as fighter jets of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition are pouncing Yemeni military installations and infrastructure facilities.
The meltdown in Yemen is causing embarrassment in Washington, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, Abayomi Azikiwe, told RT.
“It is a very dangerous situation. What it represents is a total collapse of the US foreign policy in Yemen,” Azikiwe said, stressing that it was “clearly miscalculation” on the part of the Obama administration, which underestimated power of Houthi groups.
“It is clearly a failure of the US foreign policy in Yemen,” he said.
The US withdrawal from Yemen has revealed a massive property lost, as the US government is believed to have lost track of about $500 million worth of military aid provided to Yemen in recent years, beginning in 2007.
Officials acknowledge that they’re unable to account for more than a million rounds of ammunition, 160 Humvees (HMMWV) vehicles, 200 M-4 assault rifles and 250 body armor suits – and this is far from being the full inventory of lost property.
The US has no intention of stabilizing other nations, retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski told RT.
“What the US government is focused on is putting arms out there and creating bias for those arms. The US taxpayer subsidizes foreign weapon sales. So we’re always out there, our government is always out there looking for places to market our weapons,” Kwiatkowski said. US foreign policy is aimed at creating markets for the US weaponry and is good at it, not at solving crises, promoting good governments etc.
“That’s not our expertise. We don’t spend time and money on that. We spend time and money on creating consumers for our weapons,” she said.
Meantime Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Pakistan, Morocco, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain are bombing Yemeni territory using mostly US-made weapons and hardware, with a proclaimed objective to prevent President Hadi from losing power.
“We will do whatever it takes in order to protect the legitimate government of Yemen from falling,” Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, told a news conference while announcing the operation.
After the Iran’s advances in Iraq – which borders Saudi Arabia to the north – the kingdom is worried that Yemen, on its southern frontier, is going to become a proxy for Iran as well.
“In the absence of the Americans, who have temporarily quit the field, the Saudi’s will think they have no choice but to go in pretty hard. We are going to see redesign of the region,” President of the Australia Institute of International Affairs John McCarthy told Reuters.
The key to the unwinding military conflict is going to be reaction of Iran, which has its finger in many ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
If Tehran decides to play big, oil exports from the region – crucial to the world economy – could fall victim to the regional conflict. That in turn will threaten energy supplies of many countries, particularly China, Japan and South Korea.
READ MORE: Oil surges 6% on Saudi airstrikes in Yemen
Washington is considering letting Iran operate hundreds of centrifuges at a formerly secret bunker, in exchange for limiting research at other sites, US officials taking part in the nuclear talks in Geneva told AP.
Instead of uranium, any centrifuges permitted at the Fordo facility would work on isotopes used in medicine, science or industry, the officials said. In return, Iran would scale back the number of centrifuges it currently operates at the Natanz facility, and accept inspections and other restrictions
According to AP, the total number of centrifuges currently operating at Natanz is 10,000. If the leaked proposal is accepted, the combined number of centrifuges at both sites would be under 6,500. The formerly secret site at Fordo, which Iran revealed in 2009, is controversial because it is dug into a mountainside and fortified against air attacks.
Officials, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity, said the goal since the beginning of the talks was to have the Fordo facility converted “so it’s not being used to enrich uranium.”
All of the proposed options are designed to keep Iran at least a year away from producing a nuclear weapon for the 10-year duration of the agreement, the officials said.
Meanwhile, the White House has said that the US expects “tangible commitments” from Iran, but refused to confirm the agreement would be in writing.
Led by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, the negotiators are trying to reach a preliminary agreement before the end of March. Deadline for the final agreement is June 30.
Tehran disclosed the existence of the Fordo Fuel Enrichment Plant, unfinished at the time, to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in September 2009. Iran said the purpose of the facility was the production of uranium enriched up to five percent of U-235, the isotope capable of sustaining a fission reaction. According to the Iranian disclosure, the facility was being built to operate approximately 3,000 centrifuges in 16 cascades. It is dug into the mountainside near the Shia holy city of Qom, 78 miles (125 km) southwest of Tehran.
The extensive facility at Natanz, whose existence was revealed in 2002, is in the Isfahan province, 204 miles (328 km) southeast of Tehran. It is reportedly eight meters (approx. 26 feet) underground and extends over 100,000 square meters, with a capacity of 19,000 centrifuges.
“We will continue 20 percent enrichment at Fordo and Natanz to meet our needs,” Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Director Fereydoun Abbasi told the Tehran Times in January 2013, a year after one of the Natanz scientists was killed in a car bombing that Iran blamed on Israel.
The US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – known as the “P5+1” – are trying to reach an agreement with Iran to restrict the country’s nuclear program in return for lifting the economic blockade imposed by the UN.
The Obama administration has come under criticism by the Republican-led Congress over the Iran talks. Earlier this month, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to address Congress without White House approval, and blasted the talks in his speech. Days later, 47 Republican senators sent a letter informing Iran that any deal would be invalid without their approval. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has likewise come under criticism by political opponents who do not trust the US to honor any agreement.