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Fusion center declares nation's oldest universities possible terror threat
Stephen C. Webster
Published: Monday April 6, 2009


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A newly leaked terrorism assessment from a law enforcement fusion center in Virginia highlights US universities as potential "radicalization nodes" for terrorists.

RAW STORY has published the entirety of the 215 page report, available here in PDF format.

From page 17:

A wide variety of terror or extremist groups have links to [a highlighted area of Virginia]. This area not only has a diverse population due to the strong military presence, but it is also the site of several universities.

While most of these universities are considered urban, two are designated as a Historically Black Colleges and Universities, while Regent University is a private, evangelical Christian institution. While the majority of individuals associated with educational institutions do not engage in activities of interest to the VFC, it is important to note that University-based students groups are recognized as a radicalization node for almost every type of extremist group.

Though the report singles out "historically black colleges" early on, it also contains an extensive list of peaceful American and International activist groups from nearly all cross-sections of political engagement, placing them side-by-side with groups that have long been known for resorting to violence.

The list of groups the fusion center considers potential terrorist threats is as follows:
Al-Qa’ida
Al-Shabaab
HAMAS
Hizballah
Jama’at al-Tabligh
Jama’at ul Fuqra
Lashkar-e Tayyiba
Muslim Brotherhood
Anarchist Extremists
Green Anarchism Movement
Anonymous
Black Separatist Extremists
Five Percent Nation
Nation of Islam
New Black Panther Party
New African Black Panther Party
Homegrown Islamic Extremism
As-Sabiqun
Iqaamatiddeen Movement
Lone Wolf Extremists
Militia Extremists
Anti-Abortion Extremists
Army of God
Animal Defense League
Animal Liberation Front
Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty
Earth First!
Katuah Earth First
Blue Ridge Earth First
Earth Liberation Front
Sovereign Citizen Extremists
Moorish Science Temple of America
Neo-Nazis
Racist Skinhead Movement
White Supremacists

The memo also calls out "hacktivism" as a potential terrorist threat.

"Also of note is the phenomenon of hacktivism, defined as 'the nonviolent use of illegal or legally ambiguous digital tools in pursuit of political ends. These tools include web site defacements, redirects, denial-of-service attacks, information theft, web site parodies, virtual sit-ins, virtual sabotage, and software development,'" the memo reads. "On March 28, 2008, Wired News reported that 'Internet griefers'—a makeshift term for people who cause grief—posted code and flashing computer animations with the intention of triggering migraine headaches and seizures. Hacktivism and griefing incidents have ranged from minor inconveniences involving modified website content and denial-of-services to potentially dangerous scenarios, such as the modification of electronic traffic safety signs."

The center's graphic example of the "dangerous" scenario of altered traffic safety signs was culled from a Wired magazine report on an incident in Austin, Texas, where a hacker changed a sign to warn of a coming zombie infestation.

The report also discusses numerous potential areas of fraud which could allow a terrorist to integrate with society, including document fraud, student visa fraud, marriage fraud and employer fraud.

"If we are to believe this exaggerated threat assessment, Virginia's learning and religious institutions must be hotbeds of terrorist activity,' said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, in an advisory. "This document and its authors have displayed a fundamental disregard for our constitutional rights of free expression and association. Unfortunately, it's not the first time we've seen such an indifference to these basic rights from local fusion centers. Congress must take the necessary steps to institute real and thorough oversight mechanisms at fusion centers before we reach a point where we are all considered potential suspects."

"There is an appalling lack of oversight at these fusion centers and they are becoming – as the ACLU has repeatedly warned – a breeding ground for overzealous police intelligence activities," said Michael German, ACLU Policy Counsel and former FBI Agent, in a release. "The Virginia threat assessment isn’t just disturbing for encouraging police to treat education and religious practices with suspicion, it's bad law enforcement. Lawmakers from all levels of government need to enact legislation to protect against these spying activities that threaten our democracy while doing nothing to improve security."

Recently, a Department of Homeland Security-funded fusion center in Missouri was accused of blatant disregard for the United States Constitution after one of its memos encouraged the surveillance of third party activists, Christians and supporters of Congressman Ron Paul, for their alleged potential status as illegal militia.

The center retracted its memo and publicly apologized when Congressman Paul, along with former presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin and former Congressman Bob Barr, sent a letter to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (PDF link), demanding an about-face.

In 2007, the ACLU published a study called "What's Wrong with Fusion Centers?," exploring the troubling aspects of the post-9/11 law enforcement aparatus, which are designed to facilitate communication between local agencies.

The Virginia fusion center's memo was first published by Cryptome.


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