From the daily archives: Tuesday, September 18, 2012

By Mario Conde

The County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown asking him to veto a bill that would change the workers compensation for firefighters and peace officers.

Assembly Bill 2451 that is authored by Assemblyman John Perez and is co-authored by Senator Juan Vargas would expand the timeline for death benefit claims for firefighters and peace officers.

The letter from the County Board to the Governor, they state that the Board puts in place various protocols in conjunction with the law and subsequent regulations for employees who are injured in the performance of their work duties. The primary focus, the letter stated, is to care for injured workers, and in the case of an untimely death, to care for their families.

Current law requires death claims associated with the work place injury to be commenced within one year of the date of death occurs within approximately 5 years from the date of injury. AB 2451 expands this timeline for firefighters and peace officers under injuries of cancer, tuberculosis or blood borne pathogens by allowing their beneficiaries to file a death nearly 10 years after the date of injury.

The Board said that AB 2451 will put additional cost pressures to Imperial County.

“Unfortunately, the current version simply prolong the window of eligibility and subsequent increases the cost at a time when Imperial County and many other rural jurisdictions are struggling financially.” The letter stated.

In other news, the Board voted for the approval of Boating and Waterways and Safety Equipment Grant Contract in the amount of $80,000 for the purchase of patrol vessel requested by Sheriff-Coronel, Ray Loera.

 

Amine Mohamed El-Khalifi, a 29-year-old resident of Alexandria, was sentenced today to 30 years in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, in connection with his efforts to carry out a suicide bomb attack on the U.S. Capitol building in February 2012 as part of what he intended to be a terrorist operation.

Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris.

El-Khalifi pleaded guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction on June 22, 2012.

“Amine El-Khalifi sought to bring down the U.S. Capitol, one of our nation’s iconic symbols,” said U.S. Attorney MacBride. “Since 9/11, our mission has been to find terrorists intent on attacking the United States before they act. On his own initiative, a man living right here in Alexandria selected the target and date of his suicide attack and engaged in surveillance to ensure that his attack caused maximum casualties. Thanks to the steadfast work of the FBI, undercover officers were in position to ensure that Mr. El-Khalifi’s murderous plot failed.”

“Amine El-Khalifi is today being held accountable for attempting to carry out a suicide attack on the U.S. Capitol as part of what he believed would be a terrorist operation,” said Assistant Attorney General Monaco. “I thank all those responsible for ensuring that El Khalifi’s violent plans never came to fruition.”

“Amine El-Khalifi sought to do harm to countless numbers of innocent victims but, through the excellent investigative work of our Joint Terrorism Task Force, this threat was successfully mitigated,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “Today’s sentence is the result of the dedicated effort and partnership of prosecutors and the special agents, analysts, and task force officers from our partner law enforcement agencies that make up the JTTF.”

According to court records and statements made in court, in August 2010 a confidential informant reported that El-Khalifi responded to a Facebook post soliciting interest in joining the mujahideen to fight in Afghanistan, asking the solicitor to contact him. Later, in January 2011, another confidential human source reported to the FBI that El-Khalifi met with other individuals at a residence in Arlington, Virginia on January 11, 2011. During this meeting, one individual produced what appeared to be an AK-47, two revolvers and ammunition. El-Khalifi allegedly expressed agreement with a statement by this individual that the “war on terrorism” was a “war on Muslims” and said that the group needed to be ready for war.

According to court documents, El-Khalifi sought to be associated with an armed extremist group, and on December 1, 2011, he was introduced by a man he knew as “Hussien” to an individual named “Yusuf,” who was, in reality, an undercover law enforcement officer. Throughout December 2011 and January 2012, El-Khalifi proposed to carry out a bombing attack. His proposed targets included a building that contained U.S. military offices, as well as a synagogue, U.S. Army generals and a restaurant frequented by military officials.

During meetings with the undercover officer, El-Khalifi handled an AK-47 and indicated his desire to conduct an operation in which he would use a gun and kill people face-to-face. He also selected a restaurant in Washington, D.C., for a bombing attack; handled an explosive as an example of what could be used in the attack; conducted surveillance to determine the best place and time for the bombing; and purchased materials as part of the planned operation.

On January 7, 2012, “Hussien” informed El-Khalifi that he was an al Qaeda operative. El-Khalifi discussed the possibility that his planned bombing of the restaurant would be followed by a second attack against a military installation to be conducted by others who El-Khalifi believed to be associated with al Qaeda.

On January 15, 2012, El-Khalifi stated that he had modified his plans for his attack. Rather than conduct an attack on a restaurant, he wanted to conduct a suicide attack at the U.S. Capitol building. That same day at a quarry in West Virginia, as a demonstration of the effects of the proposed bomb operation, El-Khalifi dialed a cell phone number that he believed would detonate a bomb placed in the quarry. The test bomb detonated, and El-Khalifi expressed a desire for a larger explosion in his attack. He also selected February 17, 2012, as the day of the operation.

Over the next month, El-Khalifi traveled to the U.S. Capitol building several times to conduct surveillance, choosing the spot where he would be dropped off to enter the building, the specific time for the attack and the method he would use to avoid law enforcement attention. El-Khalifi also asked Hussien to remotely detonate the bomb he would be wearing on the day of the attack if El-Khalifi encountered problems with security officers, and to provide El-Khalifi with a gun that he could use during the attack to shoot any officers who might attempt to stop him.

On February 17, 2012, El-Khalifi traveled to a parking garage near the U.S. Capitol building. El-Khalifi took possession of a MAC-10 automatic weapon and put on a vest containing what he believed to be a functioning bomb. Unbeknownst to El-Khalifi, both the weapon and the bomb had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement. El-Khalifi walked alone from the vehicle toward the U.S. Capitol, where he intended to shoot people and detonate the bomb. El-Khalifi was arrested and taken into custody before exiting the parking garage.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gordon Kromberg and Michael Ben’Ary of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia’s National Security and International Crime Unit, as well as Trial Attorneys Joseph Kaster and Courtney Sullivan from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

 

San Diego — U.S. Border Patrol agents assigned to the San Diego Sector prevented three drug smuggling attempts this week, resulting in the seizures of cocaine, methamphetamine, and crystal methamphetamine valued at more than $500,000.

On Monday at about 1:40 p.m., agents at the Interstate 15 checkpoint stopped a 22-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a 2006 Nissan Altima. The driver and his passenger exhibited nervous demeanors in response to questions and were referred for a secondary inspection. A Border Patrol K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle resulting in an alert. Agents subsequently discovered a non-factory compartment behind the dashboard containing methamphetamine. The narcotics weighed 2.09 pounds and had an estimated street value of $41,800. The driver, his passenger, and the narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Agents at the Interstate 15 checkpoint found 2.09 pounds of methamphetamine hidden in the dash of a 2006 Nissan Altima.
San Diego Sector Border Patrol agents prevented three smuggling attempts this week, resulting in the seizures of drugs valued at more than $500,000.

On Tuesday at approximately 2:30 p.m., agents at the Interstate 8 checkpoint encountered a 39-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a 2003 BMW X5. During inspection, agents became suspicious of the driver’s nervous demeanor and referred him for secondary inspection. A Border Patrol K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle resulting in alerts to the engine compartment and the cargo area. Agents searched the vehicle and discovered two packages of methamphetamine under the hood inside an electrical box adjacent to the firewall. The methamphetamine weighed 3.18 pounds and had an estimated street value of $63,600. Agents also discovered six packages of cocaine inside a cardboard box in the cargo area of the SUV. The cocaine weighed 17.06 pounds and had an estimated street value of $187,660. The 39-year-old driver and the narcotics were turned over to a multi-agency drug task force for further investigation.

A third event occurred on Wednesday at approximately 10:15 a.m. when agents near the San Clemente checkpoint encountered a 30-year-old male U.S. citizen driving a 1991 Jeep Cherokee. Agents became suspicious of the driver’s nervous demeanor and requested and received permission to inspect the vehicle. A Border Patrol K-9 team performed a cursory inspection of the vehicle resulting in an alert. Agents searched the vehicle and discovered a speaker box in the cargo area of the Jeep containing 12 bundles of crystal methamphetamine. The crystal methamphetamine weighed 14.11 pounds and had an estimated street value of $211,650. The driver and the narcotics were turned over to the Drug Enforcement Administration for further investigation.

The vehicles used in the three events were seized by the U.S. Border Patrol.

To prevent the illicit smuggling of humans, drugs, and other contraband, the U.S. Border Patrol maintains a high level of vigilance on major corridors of egress away from our nation’s borders. To report suspicious activity to the U.S. Border Patrol, contact San Diego Sector at (619) 498-9900.

 
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