May 8th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

Al Qaeda's bomb-makers evolve, adapt and continue to plot

Three months before he was killed by a U.S. drone strike, Fahd al Quso, one of al Qaeda's top operatives in Yemen, spoke at length to a local journalist. He was asked why al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had stopped plotting against the United States. Was it because all efforts were devoted to an internal project?

"The war didn't end between us and our enemies. Wait for what is coming," al Quso replied.

It seems al Quso, the head of the group's external operations, wasn't bluffing after the recent discovery of a device designed to be carried aboard an airliner by a suicide bomber without detection.

U.S. officials describe the device as an evolution of the bomb smuggled aboard a U.S.-bound plane on Christmas Day 2009 by a young Nigerian, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab.

Read more of Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister and Nic Robertson's reporting about the evolution of al Qaeda's bomb-making

May 3rd, 2012
10:42 AM ET

The Osama bin Laden documents

Scores of pages of al Qaeda documents seized in last year's U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden were released Thursday.

They comprise 175 pages in the original Arabic of letters and drafts from bin Laden and other key al Qaeda figures, including the American Adam Gadahn and Abu Yahya al-Libi.

Throughout the day, Security Clearance will be posting new stories here

The Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, published the papers on its website.  Here are the center's brief description of the documents. You can click the links for the English translations: FULL POST

Next step in 9/11 terrorism trial set for May 5
The World Trade Center in New York City burns on September 11, 2001. The alleged mastermind of the attacks will be arraigned next month. CNN Photo
April 10th, 2012
02:01 PM ET

Next step in 9/11 terrorism trial set for May 5

Larry Shaughnessy

The chief judge for the Guantanamo Bay military commissions has assigned himself to preside over the trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammad and four other men. Army Col. James Pohl will preside over the arraignment of the five suspected terrorists beginning on May 5.

Mohammad, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi are accused of the "planning and execution of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., resulting in the killing of 2,976 people," a Defense Department statement said. The charges include murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians and civilian objects, hijacking aircraft and terrorism.

If convicted, all five suspects could face the death penalty.

Pohl is already presiding over the trial of Rahim al Nashiri, the only other military commission trial underway at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He's also been involved in the criminal cases stemming from the Abu Ghraib scandal and was the investigating officer in the case of Maj. Nidal Hasan, the man accused of killing of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.

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Filed under: 9/11 • Al Qaeda • al-Nashiri • Gitmo • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed • Legal • Military Commissions • Nidal Hasan • Terrorism
Al-Awlaki directed underwear bomb plot
February 10th, 2012
11:01 PM ET

Al-Awlaki directed underwear bomb plot

By Kiran Khalid and Paul Cruickshank

New details about the final plans for the 2009 plot to take down an American jetliner on Christmas Day paint a vivid picture of the significant involvement of Anwar Al-Awlaki, the American-Yemeni militant cleric killed in a drone strike last September.

The information came to light Friday with the release of a Justice Department sentencing memo issued ahead of next week's sentencing of Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab.

AbdulMutallab's trial last year was cut dramatically short when he pleaded guilty to trying to detonate an explosive device in his underwear aboard a Christmas 2009 flight to Detroit. FULL POST

Gitmo chief ordered to testify
January 17th, 2012
11:18 AM ET

Gitmo chief ordered to testify

By Larry Shaughnessy reporting from Ft. Meade, Maryland

Col. James Pohl, the judge in the military commission hearing for Abd al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al Nashiri, a suspect in the USS Cole bombing, has ordered Rear Adm. David Woods to testify Wednesday in the hearing.

His testimony will focus on his order under which legal mail between Nashiri and his lawyers is read by government officials.  Some legal ethics experts have said the order violates the privilege of private communication between an attorney and his client.

Pohl is presiding over a two-day hearing in which he'll address ten motions filed by both the defense and the government in the upcoming capital trial against Nashiri.

Earlier Tuesday, he granted a motion filed by the government and supported by the defense that would allow for more public viewing opportunities of the closed circuit hearing from Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, where the hearing is being held and the United States.  Right now the public is allowed to see the live closed circuit feed at Ft. Meade, MD.  Both sides agrees it should made available to the "widest possible" audience.  Pohl granted the motion.

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Filed under: al-Nashiri • Gitmo • Terrorism