8/23/2022

“A study that assessed the brains of 99 World Trade Center (WTC) responders by using diffusion tractography, a 3-D imaging technique [using a combined MRI and PET scanner], showed that WTC responders with cognitive impairment (CI), a possible sign of dementia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), have a different presentation of the white matter in their brains compared to responders with CI without PTSD. Led by researchers at Stony Brook University affiliated with the Stony Brook WTC Health and Wellness Program, the study suggests a specific form of dementia could be affecting WTC responders who also have PTSD. …

According to the authors … ‘Overall, the study supports the view that responders with CI have neurological changes consistent with neurodegenerative disease, but they are inconclusive as to the type of disease … Our findings do show that dementia due to PTSD is clearly different from non-PTSD dementia in this responder population.'”

– Emily Henderson, “Study Provides Evidence of New Form of Dementia Affecting WTC Responders,” news-medical.net, August 23, 2022

8/19/2022

“British national El Shafee Elsheikh was sentenced to life in prison Friday for his role in an Islamic State scheme that took roughly two dozen Westerners hostage a decade ago. …

He is the most notorious and highest-ranking member of the Islamic State group to ever be convicted in a U.S. court, prosecutors said Friday [8/19/2022] at his sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. …

The convictions revolved around the deaths of four American hostages: James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller. … They were among 26 hostages taken captive between 2012 and 2015, when the Islamic State group controlled large swaths of Iraq and Syria. …

His lawyer, Zachary Deubler, said Elsheikh will appeal his conviction. Elsheikh’s lawyers had argued that his confessions should have been ruled inadmissible because of alleged mistreatment after he was captured by Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces in 2018. …

‘The behavior of this defendant … can only be described as horrific, barbaric, brutal, callous and, of course, criminal,’ [Judge T.S.] Ellis said.”

– Associated Press, “An Islamic State Member Is Sentenced to Life in Prison in the Deaths of Hostages,” npr.org, August 19, 2022

Editor’s note: According to most historians of the Islamic State, “the group emerged out of al-Qaeda in Iraq as a response to the U.S. invasion in 2003.” See Hassan Hassan, “The True Origins of ISIS,” theatlantic.com, November 30, 2018, for more information.

8/17/2022

“The 9/11 Tribute Museum in Lower Manhattan closed on Aug. 17 [2022], just short of the 21st anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks. New York has lost a unique testimonial to the darkest day in its modern history. The community of survivors, first responders, family members and witnesses that built it is losing its second home.

The Tribute Museum has no connection with the vast official statement that is the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. ‘Tribute,’ as its close-knit team calls it, was founded by the September 11th Families’ Association. …

Over the first 13 years of its existence, the museum received more than five million visitors — nearly half tourists from 141 countries—and its guides gave more than 500,000 tours. Then Covid-19 struck. Pre-pandemic, Tribute averaged 300,000 visitors per year; in 2021 it had just 26,000. The museum had no endowment; it relied mainly on admission income, and it had last been in the black in 2016. So in March,… [the museum] announced that, unable to cover its $2.5 million operating budget and unsuccessful in its appeals to New York state officials and foundations, the museum would close without help — help that it never found. …

Tribute was a genuine expression of New York’s living history, born from the loss and the defiant pride of the ordinary people whose lives, like so many on that terrible day, were changed in extraordinary and lasting ways. Now it is gone.”

– Dominic Green, “The 9/11 Tribute Museum: Loss Compounded,” wsj.com, August 31, 2022

7/31/2022

“Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the perpetrators of the 9-11 attacks that killed almost 3,000 people in New York, at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, was killed by U.S. drone missiles in Afghanistan’s capital, President Joe Biden announced yesterday [8/1/2022].

Zawahiri was killed in an over-the-horizon operation in downtown Kabul, where he was residing as a guest of the Taliban. The house was struck by two Hellfire missiles in a precision, counterterrorism operation at 6:18 a.m. Kabul time on Sunday [7/31/2022]. Zawahiri was the only casualty. ‘We are confident through our intelligence sources and methods — including multiple streams of intelligence — that we killed Zawahiri and no other individuals,’ a senior administration official said. ‘His death deals a significant blow to al-Qaida and will degrade the group’s ability to operate, including against the U.S. homeland.'”

– Jim Garamone, “U.S. Drone Strike Kills al-Qaida Leader in Kabul,” defense.gov, August 2, 2022

6/23/2022

“Gina Haspel, 15 years before President Trump nominated her and the US Senate confirmed her as CIA director, personally oversaw the waterboarding of alleged USS Cole bomber Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at a black site prison in Thailand in 2002, according to recent testimony at a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Waterboarding has been recognized as a war crime since World War II, when the US prosecuted Japanese soldiers for, among other charges, torturing American POWs with waterboarding. The confirmation by James Mitchell, one of two CIA contract psychologists who designed the agency’s infamous torture program [following the September 11, 2001, attacks], builds on documentation previously obtained by the National Security Archive that Haspel authored or authorized memos on al-Nashiri’s torture while she was chief of base at the prison from October through December of 2002. …

The testimony is crucial because the video evidence of torture was destroyed – by Haspel’s own orders. In 2005 after learning that the Washington Post was running a story on the agency’s black site prisons, Haspel, who was then the chief of staff to National Clandestine Service head Jose Rodriguez, drafted a cable authorizing the destruction of 92 videos of al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah being tortured. Rodriguez approved the memo and justified the destruction by telling then-CIA Director Porter Goss and others that ‘the heat from destoying [sic] is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into the public domain.'”

– Lauren Harper, “Haspel Personally Observed CIA Waterboarding, Witness Testifies,” nsarchive.gwu.edu, June 23, 2022

6/7/2022

“A U.S. woman pleaded guilty Tuesday [6/7/2022] to operating an all-female military group for ISIS in Syria.

Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, who became the leader of the ISIS battalion known as Khatiba Nusaybah, taught women how to use AK-47s and explosive devices, according to the U.S. Justice Department. …

Fluke-Ekren, who used to live in Kansas, was part of ‘terrorism-related activities’ in Syria, Libya and Iraq between 2011 and 2019 …

In 2014, prosecutors said Fluke-Ekren told a witness about her desire to carry out an attack on U.S. soil. … ‘Fluke-Ekren further said that she considered any attack that did not kill a large number of individuals to be a waste of resources,’ according to prosecutors … [and] ‘that it was important to kill the ‘kuffar’ (disbelievers) and die as martyrs on behalf of ISIS in Syria.'”

– Shauneen Miranda, “A U.S. Woman Pleads Guilty To Leading an All-female ISIS Battalion,” npr.org, June 8, 2022

Editor’s note: According to most historians of the Islamic State (also referred to as ISIS, ISIL, and Daesh), “the group emerged out of al-Qaeda in Iraq as a response to the U.S. invasion in 2003.” See Hassan Hassan, “The True Origins of ISIS,” theatlantic.com, November 30, 2018, for more information.

3/15/2022

“Prosecutors have initiated discussions on a potential plea agreement to resolve the long-stalled case of five men held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center who have been charged with planning and providing assistance for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The discussions … are a significant development in a case that has been mired in pre-trial litigation at the U.S. base in Cuba for nearly a decade ….

The five defendants were arraigned in May 2012 on war crimes charges that include murder, terrorism and hijacking for alleged roles planning and providing financial and logistical help in the plot that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The trial has bogged down largely over legal issues surrounding what evidence can be used against the men, who were held in clandestine CIA detention facilities and subjected to torture following their capture. It has also been repeatedly stalled by the pandemic and the logistical difficulties of trying five men, all with separate U.S.-based defense teams, on the difficult-to-reach base at the southeastern tip of Cuba.”

– Ben Fox, “Plea Discussions Launched in Stalled 9/11 Case at Guantanamo,” apnews.com, March 15, 2022

1/9/2022

“No US government officials have been held accountable for creating, authorizing, or implementing the CIA’s secret detention and torture programs [following the September 11, 2001, attacks]. All but a heavily redacted summary of the landmark 2014 US Senate Intelligence Committee report on the covert CIA program (the ‘Torture Report’) remains classified. The portions that have been released make clear that the torture was as useless in producing actionable intelligence as it was brutal. …

Although such US detention-related counterterrorism violations have dramatically decreased, Washington has replaced capture with kill, conducting air strikes – often with armed drones that have killed thousands of civilians, including outside recognized battlefields. Its counterterrorism campaign has spread to 85 countries with scant transparency or oversight.”

– Letta Tayler and Elisa Epstein, “Legacy of the ‘Dark Side’- The Costs of Unlawful US Detentions and Interrogations Post-9/11,” hrw.org, January 9, 2022

1/9/2022

“With the participation of at least 54 governments, the CIA secretly and extrajudicially transferred at least 119 foreign Muslims from one foreign country to another for incommunicado detention and harsh interrogation at various CIA black sites. At least 39 of the men were subjected to ‘waterboarding,’ ‘walling,’ ‘rectal feeding’ – a form of rape – and other forms of torture. The US military also held thousands of foreign Muslim security detainees and prisoners-of-war – including some women and boys – at its detention centers abroad including Abu Ghraib in Iraq, Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and its naval base at Guantánamo, and also subjected many to physical and psychological abuse.

As of January 6, 2022, the US was still detaining 39 of the nearly 800 men and boys it brought to Guantánamo from 2002 to 2008. Twenty-seven of those who remain have never been charged. Many lack adequate medical care and even access to their medical records, making the prison a living legacy of the rights violations spawned by 9/11. The military commission system created to prosecute suspects at Guantánamo is fundamentally flawed. As a result, the five prisoners accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks have yet to be brought to trial, depriving them of due process and the survivors and the families of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the attacks of their right to justice.”

– Letta Tayler and Elisa Epstein, “Legacy of the ‘Dark Side’- The Costs of Unlawful US Detentions and Interrogations Post-9/11,” hrw.org, January 9, 2022

1/9/2022

“Two decades after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the arrival of the first terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay on January 11, 2002, many Americans may not recall details of the systematic abuses carried out by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and US military against hundreds if not thousands of Muslims detained as part of what President George W. Bush swiftly declared a global ‘War on Terror.’ Yet for many people in countries outside the United States, memories of the US government’s brutal treatment of detained Muslims remain potent. And some abuses continue, handing a recruitment card to Islamist armed groups and lowering the bar for treatment of terrorism suspects worldwide.”

– Letta Tayler and Elisa Epstein, “Legacy of the ‘Dark Side’- The Costs of Unlawful US Detentions and Interrogations Post-9/11,” hrw.org, January 9, 2022