1469FW: Navy League July 8th Meeting Report, FBI Counter Terror Action....
- Jul 14, 2014
Ahoy Members and Friends,
Several items of interest here.
I had quite a day at the California Maritime Academy last Thursday. Still in the investigative stage of setting up a student NLUS chapter. It was great to see several members once again.
Thank you Tom for the report attached and below. Thanks for your engagement. The poster was prominent and very impressive.
Thank you Phelps and the Pacific Merchant Marine Council for your exhibit recognizing Day of the Seafarer, June 25.
There will be a NLUS Communications Committee conference call with council presidents July 17th to review some of the activities of that committee and the council mentoring program. If you missed the article on this in SeaPower you can find it in the July issue online, http://www.seapower-digital.com/seapower/may_june2014#pg86. Let me know if you would like to participate in the teleconference and I will provide additional details.
Navy Leaguers and Friends,
Introduction to this email. I have noticed some distortion and arbitrary placement of pictures when this message is sent by email, so I am also including the original version in Word, as an attachment. The content is the same in both.
Summary. This message is a recap of the meeting on July 8th. Our featured speaker, FBI Special Agent Chong Cho, with other members of the San Francisco Counter-Terrorism team, tracked a man with recently acquired Jihadist ambitions, infiltrated his activities, and apprehended him in the act of attempting to detonate explosives in very close proximity to a Bank of America bank in Oakland. Special Agent Cho showed Infrared video coverage of the suspect’s drive from an initial rendezvous to the bank, and the ultimate apprehension, in presenting his account of this action.
The second featured event of the evening was a review, of the Navy League National Convention in San Diego during June 24-27, 2014. Santa Clara Valley had a new poster on display; many thanks to Beverly Turner for this fine piece of work – see final page of this memo.
[Occasional side notes by the author are set in braces, thusly.]
Recognitions. USS Kidd (DDG-100) had a Change of Command at sea, in which CDR Zerr relieved CDR Varela. USS Kidd was involved in searching for the missing Malaysian Passenger Jet in the Indian Ocean. CDR Varela will be going to COMNAVAIRPAC. Welcome CDR Zerr.
On July 11, at the US Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, CDR William Sasser was relieved of command by CDR Michael Campbell. CDR Sasser, a highly decorated officer having received the RAF Air Force Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross for separate actions, is going to the RAND Corporation for a year as the Coast Guard’s National Security Fellow. RDML Joseph Servidio, Commander, Coast Guard District Eleven, presided. Welcome, CDR Campbell.
Concurrently on July 11 USCGC Stratton got underway for an extended deployment. Details of her forthcoming voyage cannot be revealed, but she will visit northern waters, and the western Pacific. Diana Tyler from our Council and Julio Blea from Lake Merritt Council were on the pier dispensing coffee, juice drinks and cookies to the Stratton crew dependents as they bid loved ones Goodbye.
At the Navy League Convention Santa Clara Valley Council was recognized, along with a few other councils, as having 80% or better retention. To help us keep that record, Doug Davis has volunteered to take the position as VP for Membership. Thank you, Doug.
Counter-Terrorism Arrest. FBI Special Agent Chong Cho is attached to the San Francisco Counter-Terrorism unit, with a branch office in San Jose. His unit’s mission is:
Prevent Terrorist Attacks
Detect, Defeat and Disrupt terrorist acts
Penetrate Terrorist Cells
When an incident occurs, to investigate, apprehend and prosecute.
This particular activity began when a former US Marine, knowledgeable in weapons, came to the attention of the FBI, first through a police stop in Dallas Texas, later from a 911 call from his father stating that his son was exhibiting suicidal tendencies. He was at that time taken into custody at a medical facility under a “5150 Hold” for 72 hours, which is customary. Because of inflammatory speech, the San Jose Counter-Terrorism office became involved.
The subject was determined to be an immediate threat, but the FBI chose to use local authorities for surveillance, avoiding a federal connection. The local police were able to conduct searches of his apartment, and found vests, journals, Special Forces guerilla manuals, an AK-47 and 3 high capacity magazines. Under charges of unauthorized possession of weapons the subject was sentenced to a “blended” sentence of 6 years – 1 in jail, and 5 on monitored probation.
While under monitoring, a “Behavior Analysis Unit”, determined that the subject was not neutralized. The FBI stepped up monitoring his activities, including physical surveillance. In December 2011 the FBI observed “spillage”, reverting to violent Jihadist activity. The FBI observed that the subject obtained new Identification, travelled to Mexico on a new Visa, and travelled to India in May 2012 to meet Mujahedeen personnel and purchase military equipment. It was time for overt steps.
In October 2012 the FBI began disruption strategy, “Desert Drifter”, an undercover operation. The objective was to catch the subject in the act of a terrorist activity, but to achieve a successful apprehension and conviction the FBI needed to establish a clear “predisposition for an act”, with no hint of entrapment, and then catch the subject in the execution of the act.
Undercover operations continued. The suspect subsequently met an FBI source who he believed to be a like-minded Jihadist. With the help of the FBI source, the subject obtained an SUV, several barrels of ammonium nitrate fuel oil mixture (approximately 300 lbs.), and boosters, detonating cord and blasting caps. The trigger device was a cell phone. The 300 lbs. of ammonium nitrate fuel oil mixture was the explosive equivalent of about 160 lbs. of TNT, and more than Terry McVeigh had used in the Oklahoma City bombing. The SUV, with its explosive cargo, is referred to as a “Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device” or VBIED, and the blast from that much ammonium nitrate fuel oil mixture would penetrate human skin as far away as 2700 feet. The subject decided to attack the Oakland branch of the Bank of America at midnight 8 February 2013. In the days leading up to the attack, the FBI Counter-Terrorist unit gave him many opportunities to walk away from his intended attack, but the subject remained firm in his conviction to go through with it.
On the day preceding the night of the intended operation the FBI source picked up the subject at his house at 5:30 AM. At 6:00 AM they arrived at a storage unit where the materials were stored, at some point, either now, or later, the SUV was loaded with the barrels of ammonium nitrate fuel oil, rigged with detonating cord, boosters and blasting caps, and prepared for the attack. [The sequence and timing of these preparations is not clear.] At 6:30 the two men departed the storage unit for the Great Mall, arriving there at 7:00 AM. There the FBI source dropped the subject off and would pick him up 12 hours later – giving the subject a full 12 hours to think, and re-think, his intended action. At 7:00 PM, the FBI source picked up the subject at the Great Mall, and transported him to the storage unit, arriving at 7:30PM. At 8:00 PM the FBI source and subject departed the storage unit, and at 8:30 the subject was dropped off at a Union City hotel. At 11:00 PM the FBI source picked up the subject at the Union City hotel. At this point aerial infrared video surveillance from a fixed wing aircraft overhead began tracking the SUV’s movements up Interstate 880 to the Hegenberger exit and subsequently to the Bank of America, arriving at 11:30. The subject parked the SUV, now a VBIED, adjacent to the bank to optimize the effects of the explosion. Meanwhile, and well before the subject arrived in the SUV, agents from multiple agencies, FBI, ATF, local police, etc., were prepositioned to make the arrest on signal from the FBI source inside the SUV with the subject. At the predetermined hour, the subject attempted to make a call on the cell phone to trigger the explosives – but nothing happened. The FBI source suggested he might try again, and again the subject dialed the appropriate number – and again there was no explosion. At this point the FBI source tapped the brake pedal twice, the signal to the arresting force – 12 agents – to move in. The arresting force moved in with overwhelming numbers and captured the subject in about 5 seconds. As a side note, it was important that the subject try twice to trigger the VBIED, because it substantiated the predisposition of intent to act.
Why didn’t the explosive work? Although the ammonium nitrate fuel oil mixture was authentic, the explosive train to ignite the main explosive mixture was not. Unbeknownst to the subject, the FBI had replaced the detonating cord with an inert cord that rendered the VBIED inert.
The subject was arrested for possession of a WMD, “Weapon of Mass Destruction”. He initially pleaded not guilty when charged. However, he later made a plea deal and received a 15 year sentence with lifetime federal probation. If he violates the terms of the parole, he is returned to prison for life.
National Convention Note. The National Navy League Convention in San Diego was more noteworthy for what did NOT happen than for what did.
– Proposed Extensive Revisions to By-Laws were shelved to be treated piece-meal later – and the anticipated change in organizational structure, which would have reduced our Region’s influence did not occur.
– Prior to the Convention a member was put forward to challenge National President James Offutt a year before his elected term was completed – when time came for nominations, the Nominee respectfully declined, and made an appeal for unity – a mutiny was averted
– At National level there is a continuing problem with expenses exceeding revenues. The Budget was not “fixed” and hemorrhage continues – albeit slowly – and the most recent audit was not completed for review – there was a call for more, and better oversight.
– Membership: Gained 3000 new members, but lost 6000.
Every year the Navy League offers scholarships. This year, out of nearly 400 applicants, 4 were chosen. One of these is a local San Diego youth, Aaron Parisi, who plans to attend California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, more commonly called “Cal Poly”, to study Electrical Engineering. I met Aaron and his parents (his mother is a retired Navy Commander Intelligence officer) and he seems like a bright and upstanding citizen, and a most worthy recipient. His award, $2,500 per year for 4 years and a Navy League coffee mug, is from an endowment from the family of, and named for, Rear Admiral William Sullivan, USN, and a World War II veteran. You can see the other three scholarship winners on the Navy League national Website – all are impressive young men and women.
This convention was also an occasion to witness a Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class [I failed to record her name or rating.] who was designated by her home command as “Enlisted Person of the Year”, and ultimately selected by the Command Master Chief of the Coast Guard and the Commandant as Coast Guard “Enlisted Person of the Year”, meritoriously promoted to Chief Petty Officer, and also awarded the Coast Guard Commendation Medal. She is shown here receiving her new Chief’s insignia from her husband and Rear Admiral Peter Brown, Commander, Coast Guard District Ten.
There were several ship tours in this Navy town, one of which was USS Green Bay (LPD-20). Green Bay is the fourth ship of the San Antonio class of Land Platform Docks (LPD), and the second to be named for Green Bay Wisconsin. The ship has three vehicle decks, including a well deck, ramps for vehicles to pass from one deck to another, all the way from the lower well deck up to the flight deck. The ship can launch or recover landing craft over a stern ramp for embarkation or debarkation of landing craft. The ship’s helicopter deck has been christened “Lambeau Field” by the crew. The crew and troops number up to 1200 with approximately 400 Navy and 800 Marines. The ship can carry four CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, or two V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, and two LCAC air cushion landing craft or one LCU (Landing Craft, Utility). The ship participated in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011. Green Bay will be departing soon, with a Battalion of Marines embarked for duty in the Western Pacific.
Sea Cadets attending the Convention provided Color Guards for all ceremonies, and two drill teams of Sea Cadets, one of young men, and one of young women. They each conducted demonstration drills on Green Bay’s lower well deck. The women’s drill team conducted a silent drill, beautifully timed, and all in precision. The men’s team not to be outdone did a drill with rifles, spinning them and tossing them back and forth, all with great precision. I’ve never seen better displays of close order drill.
The convention had several illustrious speakers. The featured speaker was VADM David Buss, USN, Commander of Naval Air Forces Pacific. Others, in panel discussion were VADM Thomas Copeman III, Commander Naval Surface Forces and Surface Forces Pacific Fleet; Brigadier General Carl Mundy III, USMC, Commanding General, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade; Rear Admiral Peter Brown, USCG, Commander, Coast Guard District Ten; and Mr. Kevin Tokarski, Associate Administrator for Strategic Sealift, Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration. VADM Buss noted that the Bush Carrier Strike Group is heading back to the Persian Gulf to operate in the 5th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility as the tumultuous situation in Iraq unfolds. This is consistent with the CNO’s mantra for Warfighting First, Operate Forward, and Be Ready. He noted that the personnel of the Bush Carrier Strike Group are ready for the challenge. He also spoke about the Navy budget, and particularly the Navy’s shipbuilding program and aircraft procurement programs, in particular the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, the EA-18G Growler, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and the F-35B. He is supportive of the Unmanned Carrier Launch Airborne Surveillance and Strike (UCLASS) drones which extends surveillance and strike range, to places where manned aircraft cannot, or should not, go. As a side note, VADM Buss has two pictures on the walls of his office. One is of aviator Eugene Ely flying off of the wooden deck cruiser Birmingham, the other is of an X-47B drone launched off of a modern aircraft carrier, 100years later.
Next year will be the Centennial year of the Navy Reserve. There will be events at NOSCs and other installations over the next year to celebrate this seminal anniversary. The logo for the Centennial is shown in the accompanying picture. The legend around the border reads: Ready Then – Ready Now – Always Ready.
A final note: “Spirit of 45”, celebrated annually in San Jose, will be recognized by the Navy League at a national level.
• August 12, Mr. Richard Pekelney, Submarines in WWII, USS Pampanito, and a System Engineering Triumph
• September 9, a Business Meeting
• October 11, Commissioning of USS America (LHA-6)
• October 25, Saturday afternoon, Ms. Kori Schake presentation at Moffett Museum: “Middle East – Transition and Tumult”
The USS PAMPANITO (SS-383) Story and History – and Status of San Francisco's WW II Submarine Museum and Memorial (http://maritime.org/sub). Built during the peak of war time production in just 9 months, PAMPANITO had 6 war patrols in the Pacific. Since 1981 she has been a museum serving over 100,000 visitors and 5,000 students in day and night programs." Richard Pekelney began volunteering, preserving, restoring and operating historic ships in 1986 aboard the 1868 sailing schooner, ANNE KRISTINE. Since 1992 he has been “hands on” at both SF Maritime National Historical Park and the USS PAMPANITO. He has participated in numerous restoration projects including the master gyrocompass, WW II cipher machine, electrical distribution, and dummy log. ... This work has led to over a dozen conference presentations and projects in USA, Brazil, Chile, Canada, England, France, Israel, Taiwan, and Turkey. He is currently restoring a Bofors 40mm AA gun, torpedo room berthing, and helping in preparations for a 2014 dry-docking of PAMPANITO. Rich is also Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association (http://maritime.org).
Ms. Kori Schake, a national speaker with extensive senior level federal government experience, will present “Mideast – Transition and Tumult,” Saturday afternoon, October 25, 2014, at the Moffett Museum, Moffett Federal Airfield. Ms. Schake has served in State Department, Office of Secretary of Defense, National Security Council (President Bush’s Director of Defense Strategy and Requirements), and advisor on John McCain’s campaign staff (foreign and defense policy). She is a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University and has collaborated with ADM Gary Roughead (former Chief of Naval Operations) on several projects. She is an instructor at the U.S. Army Military Academy at West Point and has held the Distinguished Chair of International Security Studies. She has been a featured speaker at the Commonwealth Club of California, and is frequently interviewed on National Public Radio. Her expertise is national strategy, the effective use of military force, and Middle East and European politics.
We still expect to have a return engagement with LCDR Ted Robinson who helped rescue JFK after PT-109 was rammed by a Japanese destroyer. He tells us that the JFK episode gets a lot of attention, but his next presentation is much better. We hope to have him with us on a Saturday this fall on a date yet to be determined.
President, Santa Clara Valley Council,
Navy League of the United States