David Shepherd: News Blog

Journalist's Notebook

Explosives Found In Packages In Route to United States

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com] – Friday, October 29, 2010

NBC News Photo

A terror attack on targets in the United States has been thwarted but law enforcement officials aren’t letting their guard down.

President Barack Obama briefed the country from the White House Press Briefing Room Friday afternoon calling the plot “a credible threat against our country.”

Mr. Obama confirmed earlier reports that packages carrying explosives were found aboard U.S. bound cargo planes in Dubai and the United Kingdom, Friday.

That discovery prompted heightened inspections of cargo plans and trucks in cities across the country.

 Terror officials believe al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the failed attack.  The devices were found in

The President said, “Although we are still pursuing all the facts, we do know that the packages originated in Yemen.  We also know that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a terrorist group based in Yemen, continues to plan attacks against our homeland, our citizens, and our friends and allies.”

 Mr. Obama said the packages were being sent to two Jewish places of worship in Chicago. 

 Synagogues in Chicago are now being warned to be on alert.

The President addressing the nation about the thwarted terror attacks on the United States

The President reminded Americans about the threat we live under.  “The events of the past 24 hours underscores the necessity of remaining vigilant against terrorism.”

Following the President’s remarks, White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan took the podium to discuss the situation in more detail. He said the devices were “in a form that was designed to try to carry out some kind of attack”.  Clearly, from the initial observation, the initial analysis that was done, the material that was found … was intended to do harm.”

U.S. officials told NBC News the amount of explosives in one of the packages was about five times greater than quantity carried by the would-be Christmas Day bomber. That would make it slightly less than a pound, but that’s a significant amount.

It was unclear how the devices were to be set off.

 FedEx and UPS have suspended receiving shipments from Yemen for “the foreseeable future.”


October 30, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Times Square Bombing Suspect Pleads Guilty

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]Monday, June 21, 2010

Faisal Shahzad - MSNBC Photo

The Times Square car bomb suspect, Faisal Shahzad, pleaded guilty on the 10 terrorism and weapons charges handed down by a federal grand jury.

The Pakistan-born U.S. citizen appeared defiant in court Monday as he entered his plea, warning “we will be attacking the U.S.” unless the military “leaves Muslim lands alone,” according to court documents.

Shahzad was born in Pakistan and moved to the United States when he was 18.  The married father of two, trained in the United States as a financial analyst, was indicted for receiving explosives training in Pakistan during a five-week trip to Warziristan. 

Court document show Shahzad received $5,000 in cash in late February from an accused Pakistani co-conspirator.  That same man allegedly ordered $7,000 more be paid to Shahzad on April 10th

Shahzad is scheduled to be sentenced October 5.  Many of his charges each carry life sentences.

Judge Challenges Shahzad In Court

Shahzad gave a detailed account of what happened the night he tried to detonate an SUV full of explosives in Times Square May 1st.  He

Yahoo! News Photo

 said he chose a warm Saturday night because there would be more people he could kill.

Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum questioned the would-be car bomber after he called the bombing attempt retaliation against the U.S. and other countries that “attacked the Muslim lands.”

Cedarbaum interrupted, “But not the people who were walking in Times Square that night. Did you look around to see who they were?”

Shahzad replied, “Well, the people select the government,” Shahzad said. “We consider them all the same.”

The judge also tried to determine if Shahzad constructed the bomb himself.

He calmly replied, “One has to understand where I’m coming from.”  He continued, “I consider myself a Muslim soldier,” telling the judge he built the bomb “all by myself.”

He continued to explain that he waited up to five minutes after he lit the fuse waiting for the bomb to go off.

“I was waiting to hear a sound but I didn’t hear a sound,” Shahzad told the court.  “So I walked to Grand Central and went home,” he said.

Yahoo! News Photo

Shahzad’s defiant tone didn’t end there.  He went on to say: “I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I’m avenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”

Guilty Plea Meant To Send Message Of Terror

During a court hearing that was far routine, Shahzad says he wanted “to plead guilty and 100 times more,” warning “we will be attacking U.S.” if President Obama doesn’t pull the military out of Afghanistan and Iraq.



June 22, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

President Names New National Intelligence Director

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]  –  Sunday, June 6, 2010

Courtesy: MSNBC

President Barack Obama nominated retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James Clapper to be the new director of national intelligence.

Clapper, who retired in 1995 after 32 years in the service, has been the top Pentagon intelligence official, will replace Dennis Blair, who resigned last month.

If confirmed, Clapper will be the fourth DNI in the last 5 years.  The position was created after the 9/11 attacks as a way to coordinate and oversee the 16 agencies in the nation’s intelligence community.

June 6, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

al-Qaida Leader’s Death Severe Setback For Terror Group

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

The killing of al-Qaida’s “number three” leader, Mustafa al-Yazid (also known as Sheik Saeed al-Marsi) is being seen as a severe setback for the terror network, U.S. officials told NBC News Tuesday.

While it is a setback, officials say al-Yazid’s killing will likely be a short term blow as the group has multiple off-shoots continuing the fight.

Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Saban Center and a former CIA officer, told NBC News al-Qaida is rapidly inspiring new recruits who are just as eager to attack and kill Americans.

“While we’re having some success in putting pressure on them, they’re also having a great deal of success radicalizing other parts of the global Islamic jihadist movement to join them in attacking the United States,” said Riedel.

Mustafa al-Yazid’s Role in al-Qaida

al-Yazid was al-Qaida’s top commander in Afghanistan.  Running the terror group’s day-to-day operations, he played a role in financing and is described as their prime conduit to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Al-Yazid’s death leaves a large hole in the terror network.  Men who’ve held that position in the past have all been key players in al-Qaida’s command, strategy, and execution.

  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – Reputed mastermind of the September 11th terror attacks. [Being held at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center]
  • Mohammad Atef – Killed in U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan. [2001]
  • Abu Laith al-Libi – Killed in drone strike [Jan. 2008]
  • Abu Farraj al-Libbi – Captured and detained in Pakistan

June 2, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

al-Qaida Co-Founder and Network’s #3 Killed

By: David Shepherd [dshepherd@wtwo.com]

Courtesy: MSNBC

One of al-Qaida’s co-founders, and the number 3 in the terror group, was killed in a border area of Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to NBC News.  A senior official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told NBC News that Egyptian-born Sheikh Saeed was killed in an attack by a missile-carrying Predator Drone aircraft.

Intelligence officials say, in terms of counterterrorism this would be a “big victory.”  One official says Saeed was al-Qaida’s chief operating officer, playing a role in financial and operational planning,

June 1, 2010 Posted by | News & Current Events | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment