After lunch we round-tabled the attack at MSU I could easily see this was going nowhere. No one was offering any new information. There should have been plenty by now, after the Saif connection.
Finally I gave up on the open forum route and just started asking questions.
I started with Ben Smith, “Has the NSA reconstructed Saif’s route from the Middle East yet?”
After some throat clearing, “Well, not exactly; we think he came as a crew member of an oil tanker to New Jersey. From there he went to the Islamic learning center in New York.”
“There is some fuzzy surveillance video footage of a hooded individual entering and leaving the learning center. They are not good enough for positive identification, but the size and height are close,” Ben said.
“There are also some long range photos of the same hooded man and the leaders of the Rochester group that you have had run ins with before, there and in Kampala. We just don’t know,” Ben replied.
“I think we know enough now to say all of this is connected in some way, it also means this group is much bigger and diverse than we thought.”
“Saif is not showing up, and in a matter of three weeks recruited suicide bombers, picked targets and was building bombs. It takes weeks or months to brainwash or radicalize someone to be a suicide bomber. It had to start long before Saif showed up in the area,” I replied.
“The Coast Guard checks the crew manifest and makes electronic copies of their ID when they do the inspection, before the ship reaches port. If you think he came in on the East Coast, have you pulled all the Coast Guard reports for the last year looking for irregularities?” I asked.
“That is out of NSA jurisdiction. The Coast Guard handles that with the DHS,” Smith replied.
“Arnie, has DHS received copies of those reports from the Coast Guard to review?” I asked.
“I don’t think so; I am not sure a request was ever sent for that information,” he replied.
“When we cut for break, make the call; if it has not been requested, do it and expedite and see that I get a copy of the electronic file with all the pictures sent to me,” I directed.
As an afterthought to that statement, I called Chin Lee.
“Go though the daily logs for Rochester. There were three times we allowed them to put the fence postings up a day early for special events. I want all the video from all the fence cameras and the cameras I had added that captured towards the development. Start with the day before the postings and one day after for all three times,” I directed.
I wondered if Saif was the reason for Aadam Mohamed taking his trip to be radicalized and his demise.
I called Art Cummings; he was the power broker in yesterday’s meeting with the President.
“Art, I want four desktop computers with facial recognition programs on them. How do I get them? I know the GSA can get the computers but what about the programs and the training to use them? I also want at least two more process coordinators and a couple trained investigators,” I asked.
“What are you doing? Why do you want them?” he asked.
“Trying to put the puzzle together; progress requires more tools than I currently have,” I replied.
“So you think you have found something?” Art replied.
“We are just beginning to shake the dust off things; a couple of the dots are too close. I just need more tools and people to operate them,” I replied.
“I will call GSA and place a rush on the computers, in the morning a tech will install the program and train your people. I will send Grace a text to send you two more people. Call Eric for the investigators,” Art replied.
My next call was to Len Zimmerman.
“Len, this time I have questions for you; I assume you collected all the traffic cam data from around the college by now, how far a radius from the college?” I asked.
“About a mile,” Len replied.
“I want you to do a sweep at a 5 mile radius from the college; every video cam you can find on that day from banks, drug stores, gas stations, hotels, motels and retail outlets. I also want all tag scanner data for that day, don’t forget the toll roads and bridges.”
“Wow, that is going to be labor intensive,” he replied.
“Call Kent Dalton; get him to help you or I can call him. Divide it up in a grid. What I am looking for is where Saif met the bombers to install the belts on them,” I replied.
“Saif is not the suicide type; I don’t think he rode for a hundred miles in the same vehicle with them wearing the belts. There would be too much of a chance for an accident, especially if narcotics were part of the process or them having one last change of mind. That would be a long ride with a bomb around your waist to think about it,” I replied.
“If there were such a meeting, it would possibly give us the other players, cars, tag numbers they are traveling in and other IDs they are using. I know it is a long shot, but I am taking any shots I can get,” I replied.
“It was three weeks and 1500 miles between MSU and Arizona. I’m expecting it to be an every 3 or 4 week event somewhere. Terror is about creating fear as much as killing. Both help achieve their goals, especially if it gets to be a routine,” I said.
With all that done I started asking questions about Arizona.
“Rex; where are the reports from the ASU attack? By now the FBI should have all the bomb parts collected and analyzed. This task force should have the pictures and reports.”
“I haven’t seen any reports yet; there is nothing in my email,” Rex replied.
I started to respond to his statement.
“I’ll make the call; you want pictures of the components and forensics report, anything else?” Rex asked.
“The name of man in charge at Phoenix for starters; I have a lot of questions for him,” I replied.
It was almost 14:15 when the President knocked and then stepped in. Small talk about how our day had been; I was sure some of the people I had called went up the ladder to find out what my approval and authority levels were.
A page went off on my VCATS system; when I looked at it, it was coded 911. We had developed the system for pages to place a level of importance on the calls. 911 was an emergency with the highest priority.
“Mr. President, I need to breakaway from our conversation for just a second to take this call.”
My computer was still hooked to the system and when I accepted the call, it went to all three screens. We were all looking at Andy, Vicky and Robert on the split screen.
“It’s OK, I am among friends. Andy, what do you have?”
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.