FBI Tracking 100 Suspected Extremists in the Military

The FBI is investigating more than 100 suspected Muslim extremists who are part of the U.S. military community, officials tell NPR. U.S. authorities have increased scrutiny since the 2009 shooting attack at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 dead. Maj. Nidal Hasan, charged with the killings, is shown here in an April 2010 court hearing. Photo courtesy Handout/Getty Images

The suspected extremists are called “insider threats” and include not only active duty and reservists but also individuals who have access to military bases like contractors and family members with dependents ID cards, according to a report by National Public Radio.

The FBI has conducted more than 100 investigations into suspected Islamic extremists within the military, NPR has learned. About a dozen of those cases are considered serious.

Officials define that as a case requiring a formal investigation to gather information against suspects who appear to have demonstrated a strong intent to attack military targets. This is the first time the figures have been publicly disclosed.

The information was disclosed in a closed house-senate hearing in December. NPR confirmed the number from three independent sources, but the FBI would not confirm the number of cases.

…but they did say that cases seen as serious could include, among others things, suspects who seem to be planning an attack or were in touch with “dangerous individuals” who were goading them to attack.


Navy SEALs Recount their Raid on Osama bin Laden

A generic photo of Navy SEALs in training.

An administrator’s note: the Reporter-at-Large Nicholas Schmidle did NOT talk directly with the Navy SEALs as he and this posting suggests – he talked with unidentified people who listened in on the operation.


We may never know who they are – the Navy SEAL team that found and killed Osama bin Laden. But we now know a little bit more of how that team took out the mastermind behind the 9-11 terrorists attacks on the United States.

Reporter-at-Large Nicholas Schmidle talked with several SEAL members who took part in the raid and gives a detailed account in the Aug. 8th The New Yorker – Getting bin Laden – What happened that night in Abbottabad.

Schmidle talked with NPR’s Steve Inskeep about his upcoming article Monday on Morning Edition. The New Yorker article gives a detailed account of the planning for the operation — much of the information has not been previously disclosed — and a play by play of the night the al-Qaida leader was killed.

You can learn more about the SEAL Team Six, established in 1980, in a Bloomberg.com account of the raid on bin Laden’s compound.

A Reservist’s Parents Pay a Price for the War

The Holt Family. Photo courtesy of VAntage Point.com.

Army Reservist Katie Holt wrote a heartfelt entry about her enlistment after the 9-11 attacks and what happened to her parents  after she  deployed. The full article is available in the Department of Veterans Affairs electronic newsletter VAntage Point.

Holt, in retrospect, wishes she had given her parents this advice as she left for Iraq in 2004:

The next year or so of your life is going to suck. In fact, you’ll probably find yourselves mad at me for joining the Army. My war is your war and war is hell. . .on both fronts. There will be times when you’ll have no one else to turn to but each other. Embrace it and be thankful that at least one other person gets it. Go to therapy, you’ll need the support.

She writes about visiting her father at his nursing home to share the news about the capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden and the war was worth it:

I realized reassurance wasn’t what mattered. I leaned over, kissed my dad on his head and said thank you. Military parents and family are sometimes forgotten, their sacrifices during wartime ignored and support for them can be miniscule. My family, and many others, will forever be changed by the ongoing conflicts, and to them I say thank you.

Highlighting the sacrifices of all military family members and helping civilians understand and support them is the mission of this blog. Thank you Katie and Mr. and Mrs. Holt.

Marking the Loss of One Who Fought Bin Laden

 In yesterday’s blog, Tracie Ciambotti asked this question about the “celebration” and patriotic responses over the death of Osama Bin Laden:

“Do service members dying for our freedom, wounded warriors confined to wheel chairs, and daily sacrifices made by military families—all for the defense of what our flag represents—not warrant the same media attention and outpouring from a grateful nation?”

Today, 6 May 2011, is a sad time because a fallen warrior – the second in just three days – will arrive in Tampa. But, it is also an opportunity to display the patriotism and same outpouring of emotion many felt upon the news of Bin Laden’s death.

Air Force Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II

Air Force Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II, 40,  was one of nine killed April 27th by a disgruntled Afghan Air Force pilot at Kabul International Airport.

Estelle started his career at MacDill as a communications officer with the 6th Communications Squadron, where he was stationed from February 1999 to January 2001.

Estelle is scheduled to return to MacDill on an Angel Flight at noon. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will provide Estelle and his family a Fallen Hero Escort which is expected to leave the base at 12:45 p.m.

People living in the Tampa Bay area can gather to show their respects to Estelle – someone who gave his life fighting the terrorism spread by Bin Laden – by turning out to line the honor escort route.

Note that the route of the escort goes through downtown Tampa during lunchtime – so no excuses.

The route: eave MacDill AFB at 12:45 – North on BayShore Blvd. – East on Platt Street Bridge – North on Florida Ave. – East on Jackson Street – North on N. Jefferson Street – East on Twiggs Street – South on Ashley Drive – West on  Kennedy Blvd to  North Howard  and the Ray Williams Funeral Home, 301 North Howard Ave., Tampa.

How Do You Define True Patriotism?

Image courtesy of PatriotIcon.org

By Tracie Ciambotti

It has been an interesting week as the varied reactions to the news of Osama Bin Laden’s death emerge.   Crowds gathered in the streets to celebrate a national victory; the killing of a terrorist whose evil plots took many American lives.  There are several new debates brewing across the nation.  Is it moral to celebrate anyone’s death?  Will this have any impact on Al Qaeda?  If so, what kind?  Is it time to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home?  Why should we continue to give billions of dollars to Pakistan?  Are we financially supporting a country who is supplying the very weapons used to kill our soldiers fighting in Afghanistan? 

These are very good questions and need to be debated.  This is the spirit of America: to debate the issues and find solutions.

Image courtesy of PatriotIcon.org

Patriotism has soared as it did after 9/11, uniting a nation that has been divided in many ways for a very long time. Images were splattered on news channels of citizens draped in the American Flag, chanting “USA!”  I posted the Facebook badge Everlasting American Flag on the Military Families Ministry’s Facebook page.  I wonder, though, how long this surge of patriotism will last and why it takes events like 9/11 or the killing of Osama Bin Laden to bring together the people of the “United” States. 

Our founding fathers shared a vision of freedom, liberty, and equality, and they worked together to create and sign our Constitution.  Have we as a “united” nation lost sight of the very principles that this country was founded on?  Why does it take a major event to get our flags waving? 
Are we so obsessed with personal gain that we have forgotten the cost of the very freedom that allows us to realize our dreams?  

Facebook Everlasting Flag Icon.

As the mother of a soldier who is preparing for deployment to Afghanistan, I am well aware of the price tag that is attached to my freedom.  While I am relieved that no one else will die at the hands of Osama Bin Laden, his death does not change my life as the mother of a soldier heading to war.  It may actually make my son’s job harder—more dangerous—as others may be inspired to rise up and carry on the cause of Bin Laden. 

Although it feels good to see the elevation in patriotism and to celebrate the victory of a ten-year effort against terrorism, I am saddened that this overwhelming response is related to a dead terrorist when it should be evident every day for other reasons. 

Do service members dying for our freedom, wounded warriors confined to wheel chairs, and daily sacrifices made by military families—all for the defense of what our flag represents—not warrant the same media attention and outpouring from a grateful nation?  Is American patriotism not symbolized by loyalty to the American flag?  If so, why doesn’t every flag in this nation wave in honor and gratitude every time someone sacrifices to defend it?

Tracie Ciambotti is the Co-founder of Military Families Ministry (MFM) and mother of an Army sergeant. Her previous blog contributions:

When War Gets Personal

An Army Mom Connects Military Families and Churches

Do You Remember Where Were You When …

I will always vividly remember sitting on the floor in modern dance when the door opened and in came the rest of the dance department students and faculty of the small arts college I attended. The pianist was confused and slowly came to a stop mid-bar as all of us taking the class finally realized that we needed to stop, too. It was the morning of September 11, 2001 and the Dean had gathered us together to let us know that planes had flown into the Twin Towers.

Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day and I made my way home from Downtown Miami. I spent the rest of the day watching the news as footage of the planes and later the buildings collapsing  played on a loop.

There would be the start of the war on terrorism, anthrax scares, countless speeches from elected officials, bombings, and the ever-growing list of things you can’t take on planes. It all instantly became the new normal and life continued.

We were getting ready for bed and my husband decided to check his Facebook page one last time. Seemingly out of nowhere, he said “Osama’s dead.” Thinking either I or he had misunderstood, he immediately began looking for information online and I turned on a local TV channel. There in big letters read: “Osama bin Laden has been killed.”

There was a moment of relief and celebration as we each scrolled through our Facebook pages reading everyone else’s comments and leaving a few of our own.

However, relief quickly turned to concern as the questions started running through my head: What now? What does this mean for my husbands’ job in the military? Will there be more deployments? What are they going to do to get back at us?

When the President came out to speak, I almost wanted to wake up my daughter. She’s only four months old but I thought I could tell her when she was older that she listened as the President told us we had one more reason to slept better at night.

Running errands around town on Monday, I sensed a buzz in the air as people talked about Bin Laden’s death, news coverage released more information, people celebrated in the streets and the Facebook posts continued. My personal favorite: The regular girl married the prince and the bad guy is dead. This weekend has been brought to you by Disney.

Does this fix anything? No. Could there be retaliation? Yes. Will we get through this phase of this ongoing saga? Definitely. Our soldiers still put on their uniforms and went to work today. Osama bin Laden’s followers aren’t going to just lay down their guns and walk away. However, I think America needed this reminder that our efforts are not in vain and we needed a reason to celebrate. It’s not over, but I hope we are getting there.

Bayshore Patriots to Wave Flags on Monday

A photo from a previous Bayshore Patriot flag waving event along Tampa's main boulevard.

They will be waving flags today (Monday, 2 May 2011) along Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard from 5 to about 6:30 this evening.

Bayshore Boulevard runs from MacDill Air Force Base at the southern tip of Tampa along the waterfront north to downtown. Many workers and military personnel from that base drive that road. So, that’s why the routine started as a way to acknowledge those fighting terrorism.

The Bayshore Patriots usually go out every Friday afternoon and for honor patrols of the fallen heroes. But, today they will wave flags in memory of those lost in 9-11 attacks.

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