N. Korea on a 'charm offensive' as U.S. talks on nuclear issues begin
North Korean For. Min. Kim Kye-Gwan departs U.S. Mission to the U.N. Photo by: AFP/Getty Images
July 28th, 2011
06:04 PM ET

N. Korea on a 'charm offensive' as U.S. talks on nuclear issues begin

North Korea and the United States began two days of what the U.S. terms "exploratory" talks at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York on Thursday.

This is the first direct meeting on nuclear issues between the two nations since so-called six-party talks broke down in 2008, when North Korea pulled out of the multinational nuclear disarmament initiative. Six nations take part in those talks: North Korea, South Korea, the U.S., Russia, China and Japan.

The State Department described the first day's talks as "serious and businesslike," adding in the brief written read-out, "We look forward to continuing our meetings tomorrow."

Washington invited the North Koreans to New York after the chief nuclear envoys of North and South Korea met last week at an Asian security conference in Bali, Indonesia, and agreed to try to resume the six-party talks as soon as possible.

The North Korean delegation arrived at the mission Thursday morning. About 10 members emerged from a bus and made no comments to reporters gathered in the street.

The team is headed by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kae-gwan, an experienced diplomat who is considered an architect and a main strategist of North Korea's nuclear policy.


July 28th, 2011
02:59 PM ET

UPDATE: "Odd" behavior raised gun store suspicions

CNN's Randi Kaye interviewed Greg Ebert, a former police officer 
working at the Killeen, Texas gun store where Pfc Naser Jason
Abdo went to buy supplies. Here is some of what Ebert told CNN's Newsroom:

"He came to the store to purchase a quantity of smokeless gunpowder
and did not seem to know what it was. It was just really odd,
his behavior."

"He selected six canisters of smokeless gunpowder, placed them
on the counter and then asked the manager "well, what is
smokeless powder?"  If you don't know what it is, why in
the world would you buy that much?"

"It was out of the norm, but he had not done anything unlawful
or illegal that would prevent the sale, so we went ahead and
made the sale to him, but after the fact, once he had departed
the store we had discussed amongst ourselves and came to the
conclusion that it would be prudent to notify the authorities
and allow them to make whatever inquiry was necessary."

Filed under: Living With Terror • Military • Terrorism
July 28th, 2011
02:11 PM ET

UPDATE: DOD official: Abdo could have made two bombs

A Department of Defense official tells CNN's Barbara Starr that a search of the hotel room found Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo had enough to make two bombs. The ingredients included gunpowder, shotgun shells, a pressure cooker, 18 pounds of sugar used to enhance the explosion and Christmas lights to be used as a timer. 

At the surplus store Abdo bought a uniform and asked to have Fort Hood patches sewn on.

At the gun store he asked multiple questions about .40 caliber ammunition and how to use smokeless gunpowder, but then proceeded to buy three boxes of 12 gauge ammunition, smokeless gunpowder and a magazine for a “Springfield pistol.”

Filed under: FBI • Homeland Security • Iraq • Military
July 28th, 2011
02:08 PM ET

U.S. accuses Iran of sheltering al Qaeda network

By CNN's Tim Lister

The United States has accused Iran of providing sanctuary to an al Qaeda network that provides help to jihadists moving between the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Thursday announced the designation of six members of the network, including its alleged leader Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, and described Iran as a “critical transit point for funding to support al-Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

“This network serves as the core pipeline through which al-Qaeda moves money, facilitators and operatives from across the Middle East to South Asia,” the U.S. Treasury said in a statement.

“We are illuminating yet another aspect of Iran’s unmatched support for terrorism,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, David S. Cohen. “Today’s action also seeks to disrupt this key network and deny al-Qaeda’s senior leadership much-needed support.”

The effect of designation is to prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in commercial or financial transactions with those named; any assets they may hold under U.S. jurisdiction are frozen. FULL POST

Filed under: Al Qaeda • Iran
July 28th, 2011
01:35 PM ET

UPDATE: Details on bomb-making materials found in soldier's room

A law enforcement source tells CNN Producer Carol Cratty the search of Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo’s hotel room and backpack turned up:  six pounds of smokeless powder, Christmas lights and battery operated clocks which were apparently intended to create a timing and triggering device of some type, sugar, shrapnel, pressure cooker, shot guns shells that were in the process of being dismantled to obtain their raw explosives.  The suspect also had a military uniform he had purchased.

This official described the literature found in the backpack as “Islamic extremist literature.”   He also had a shopping list of components he wanted to get to make a bomb.  The official did not know if there were still items he had yet to get.   And he had a .40 caliber pistol in the backpack.

Filed under: FBI • Homeland Security • Iraq • Military
Official: Bomb materials found in soldier's room near Fort Hood
Sign outside Ft. Hood. An AWOL soldier was arrested near the base Thursday with materials that could be used to make a bomb. (File Photo)
July 28th, 2011
12:25 PM ET

Official: Bomb materials found in soldier's room near Fort Hood

(CNN) - FBI agents discovered a bevy of potential bomb-making materials in the hotel room of a missing Muslim American soldier who was arrested near Fort Hood, Texas, the military base where a 2009 shooting spree killed 13 people, an FBI spokesman said Thursday.

Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, a Muslim American who refused to deploy to Iraq and later went AWOL after facing child pornography charges, was arrested at a traffic stop Wednesday by police in Killeen, Texas, just outside Fort Hood, said the FBI spokesman, Erik Vasys.

He is expected to face federal charges, possibly as early as Thursday afternoon, a federal law enforcement official said.

July 28th, 2011
10:09 AM ET

Special ops chief worried about al Qaeda 2.0

By CNN's Suzanne Kelly

Eric T. Olson, the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, opened a three-day security forum sponsored by the Aspen Institute on Wednesday by sharing his concerns about the next generation of al Qaeda post bin Laden.

The man, known as the "Bullfrog" because he is the longest serving Navy SEAL still on active duty, is rarely comfortable granting public media appearances. But he admitted during the session that he had agreed to the talk well before the raid on bin Laden's compound in May.

Olson told a gathered crowd that the success of the raid wouldn't have been possible without four key components: collaboration among intelligence communities, the joint military cooperation that spanned across different services, having a special operations community that was well equipped with the tools they needed to do the job, people who knew about the operation ahead of time keeping quiet.

Olson said that there have been between 3,000 and 4,000 operations this year alone that included special operators and helicopters flying against a target.

When asked by moderator and ABC Correspondent Martha Raddatz about the state of al Qaeda today, he said he believes the world is seeing the last of al Qaeda 1.0 as an organized base headed by a charismatic leader who is able to coordinate large scale attacks and said that he is more concerned about what al Qaeda 2.0 will be, with more potential terrorists being dual passport holders.

What Olson isn't too concerned about as he sets his sights on retirement, is the state of the special operations community, which he says has grown by about 3 percent per year since 9/11 with some 13,000 special operators deployed every day.

Filed under: Al Qaeda
July 28th, 2011
09:39 AM ET

Security brief – July 28, 2011

Compiled by Tim Lister

How deficit deal would impact national security

Many dead in Taliban attack on governor's HQ

Libyan rebels launch offensive in west

Congress committee mad at US policy on Syria

Norway: Breivik used just a 2' fuse on bomb...will be questioned again Friday

German minister warns about rise of far-right; Italian politician defends Breivik's thinking

Heavy fighting in Mogadishu FULL POST

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Filed under: Security Brief