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.

8/23/2022

“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

8/25/2022

“A medical program for survivors of the September 11 attacks is said to be ‘dangerously’ close to running out of funding and advocates are sounding the alarm and asking congress to step in.

The World Trade Center Health Program is short $3B and if Congress doesn’t plug that gap, advocates say people sick with 9/11-related illnesses will be at risk of losing their treatments.

‘We have countless responders and survivors that are on lifesaving medicine. Without the funds to pay for the prescription coverage, they’ll lose that,’ said Richard Alles, a retired FDNY Deputy Chief and the Director of 9/11 Community Affairs.

The healthcare program is not just for first responders like firefighters and police officers, it covers anyone who lived or worked south of Canal Street on 9/11 and for the year that followed, many of whom do not have health insurance.”

– Linda Schmidt, “Congress Called to Fund Medical Program for 9/11 Survivors,” fox5ny.com, August 25, 2022

8/26/2022

“Families of 9/11 victims are asking New York City Mayor Eric Adams to rescind approval of a Saudi-funded golf tournament scheduled to reportedly take place at a Donald Trump-owned golf course in New York in October. The Aramco Team Series women’s golf tournament in question is scheduled to take place in New York October 13-15 [2022]

9/11 families advocate Brett Eagleson said in a statement on Friday [8/26/2022] … ‘The fact that this news is breaking less than two weeks before 9/11 on the heels of the [Saudi-funded] LIV tournament in Bedminster [NJ] … It’s egregious, it’s in your face and its tone-deaf.’

Adams’ press secretary Fabien Levy told CNN, ‘While we disagree with the values of the Trump Organization, we cannot legally block their application.’ New York City officials also said that the tournament was agreed upon during former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and that the current administration cannot break the agreement. …

The allegations of Saudi government complicity with the attacks on September 11, 2001, have long been the subject of dispute in Washington. Fifteen of the 19 al Qaeda terrorists who hijacked four planes were Saudi nationals, but the Saudi government has denied any involvement in the attacks.

The 9/11 Commission established by Congress said in 2004 that it had found ‘no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded’ al Qaeda.

Still, the victims’ families have pushed for further disclosures, and last year [2021], the FBI released a document that details its work to investigate the alleged logistical support that a Saudi consular official and a suspected Saudi intelligence agent in Los Angeles provided to at least two hijackers.”

– Artemis Moshtaghian, “Families of 9/11 Victims Asking NYC Mayor to Rescind Approval of Saudi-Funded Golf Tournament Reportedly to be Held at Trump Golf Course,” kten.com, August 29, 2022

8/26/2022

“A federal judge found that 9/11 families and other U.S. victims cannot recover billions of dollars from the Central Bank of Afghanistan to satisfy judgments against the Taliban. The report and recommendation, handed down by Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn on Friday afternoon [8/26/2022], is a victory for Afghan civil society groups, which argued in an amicus brief filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights that the $3.5 billion in blocked assets belong to the people of Afghanistan and should be used to alleviate the devastating humanitarian crisis there.

At issue are $7.1 billion that the previous government of Afghanistan placed in the New York Federal Reserve. President Biden froze the funds after the Taliban takeover in August 2021, and, in February, he signed an executive order effectively allocating half for humanitarian relief in Afghanistan, leaving half subject to litigation. A group of 9/11 families that won a 2011 default judgment against those responsible for the attacks had filed a motion arguing that more than $2 billion should be turned over to them. American victims of a 2016 attack in Afghanistan had filed a separate motion seeking $138.4 million, and other victims made similar claims against the remainder of funds.”

– Center for Constitutional Rights, “Judge Agrees With Afghan Groups: 9/11 Families Cannot Claim Billions From Central Bank of Afghanistan,” ccrjustice.org, August 29, 2022

9/17/2022

“The number of New York City firefighters who died from 9/11 related illness in the two decades since terrorists flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center has surpassed 300.

The New York City Fire Department’s Uniformed Firefighters Association announced the deaths of three additional firefighters who responded to Ground Zero over this weekend [September 17 – 18, 2022]. …

This comes as the World Trade Center Health Program, which provides medical monitoring and treatment of WTC-related health conditions for 9/11 responders and survivors, is reportedly running on a $3 billion deficit. …

The FDNY lost 343 members 21 years ago from the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.”

– Danielle Wallace, “NYC Firefighters Dead From 9/11 Related Illnesses Surpasses 300 as World Trade Health Fund Sits at $3B Deficit,” foxnews.com, September 20, 2022

9/26/2022

“On Sept. 26, 2022, Yusuf al Qaradawi died at age 96 in Qatar. The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qaradawi was the most well-known Muslim cleric in the West, infamous for his calls to murder Americans, Israelis, and others during the height of the Global War on Terror. Once called ‘the most popular and authoritative’ Sunni cleric in the world, Qaradawi’s death attracted little attention, at least as compared to his influence on world events. That reaction, perhaps even more than the death itself, is an important pronouncement: The post-9/11 era is over. …

‘Every person who has fought in these wars and left them,’ the war on terror veteran and writer Elliot Ackerman recently wrote, ‘has had to declare the war over for themselves.’ … There are no ticker-tape parades, and there will not be anything analogous to a ‘Victory in Europe’ day. The war against Islamist terrorism, while winding down, will no doubt continue.

But the forever war seems to have reached a turning point, leaving America searching to articulate its posture on the world stage. The muted attention given to Qaradawi’s death suggests the hateful cleric outlived the era he did so much to shape.”

– Sean Durns, “The End of the Post-9/11 Era,” washingtonexaminer.com, October 14, 2022

11/1/2022

A U.S. citizen was sentenced to 20 years in prison today [11/1/2022] in the Eastern District of Virginia for organizing and leading an all-female military battalion in Syria on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.

According to court documents, Allison Fluke-Ekren, aka Allison Ekren, aka Umm Mohammed al-Amriki, and aka Umm Mohammed, 42, a former resident of Kansas, traveled overseas and, from in or about September 2011 through in or about May 2019, engaged in terrorist acts in multiple countries, including Syria, Libya and Iraq. Fluke-Ekren ultimately served as the leader and organizer of an ISIS military battalion, known as the Khatiba Nusaybah, where she trained women on the use of automatic firing AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and suicide belts. Over 100 women and young girls, some as young as 10 years old, received military training from Fluke-Ekren in Syria on behalf of ISIS.”

United States Department of Justice, “American Woman Who Led ISIS Battalion Sentenced to 20 Years,” justice.gov, November 1, 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.

11/8/2022

“A Pennsylvania man was sentenced yesterday [11/8/2022] to 208 months, more than 17 years, in federal prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, aka ISIS, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Mustafa Mousab Alowemer, 24, of Pittsburgh, pleaded guilty in the Western District of Pennsylvania on Sept. 16, 2021 to one count of attempting to provide material support to ISIS in connection with his plan to attack a church in Pittsburgh.”

United States Department of Justice, “Man Sentenced to More Than 17 Years in Prison for Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS,” justice.gov, November 9, 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.

11/9/2022

“A rough transcript of a 2004 interview George W. Bush and Dick Cheney gave to a government commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks provides a glimpse of the former president’s and vice president’s views of the seminal event that defined their eight years in the White House.

The April 2004 interview with the bipartisan 9/11 commission, which took place in the Oval Office, included discussion of intelligence warnings before the attacks and the events that unfolded on the day of Sept. 11, according to the copy of the 31-page document. It also describes Mr. Bush acknowledging that Air Force One had poor communications while he was on the plane shortly after the attacks began—and Mr. Bush’s assertion that he gave Mr. Cheney the authority to shoot down commercial airliners that were unresponsive.

The newly declassified document was released to the public Wednesday [11/9/2022]. …

The interview wasn’t recorded, but a note taker was present. The document was authorized for public release by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, a body of representatives from various federal departments. It contains few redactions.”

– Dustin Volz and Warren P. Strobel, “US Releases 9/11 Commission Interview with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney,” wsj.com, November 9, 2022