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July 15th, 2014
10:28 PM ET

U.S. intelligence fears Americans who fought in Syria could be preparing for a domestic attack

There are growing concerns over Americans who traveled to fight in Syria planning to return home to launch attacks here. The FBI and the U.S. Intelligence community are working to track these individuals. Barbara Starr has new details on why this investigation is so complicated.

Anderson discussed the dangers of fighters who carry U.S. passports with National Security Analyst Fran Townsend, CIA and FBI counterterrorism official Philip Mudd and counterterrorism veteran Robert McFadden.

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Filed under: Barbara Starr • Domestic Terrorism • Fran Townsend • Philip Mudd • Syria • Terrorism
May 13th, 2010
01:11 PM ET

Gallery: Raids in Times Square bombing probe

This morning, federal agents raided locations in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey related to the probe of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad's financing. Investigators are focused on a system of "cash couriers" who bring money into the United States from overseas, a source close to the investigation said Thursday.

Here is a gallery of photos from the raids this morning. Check back frequently for new photos.

From WickedLocal.com Watertown, MA


From WickedLocal.com Watertown, MA


From WickedLocal.com Watertown, MA


From WickedLocal.com Watertown, MA


From Diane Chung Brookline, MA

From Diane Chung Brookline, MA


From Diane Chung Brookline, MA


Filed under: 360° Radar • Domestic Terrorism • Terrorism
May 12th, 2010
11:23 AM ET

Video: Part 3 – Making of an American Al Qaeda

Program note: Watch CNN"s "American Al Qaeda: The Story of Bryant Neal Vinas" on Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, at 8pm ET.

May 12th, 2010
11:00 AM ET

Video: Part 2 – Making of an American Al Qaeda

Program note: Watch CNN"s "American Al Qaeda: The Story of Bryant Neal Vinas" on Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, at 8pm ET.

May 11th, 2010
05:49 PM ET

Interactive: The spread of homegrown terrorism

Program note: CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson spent a year investigating convicted terrorist, Bryant Neal Vinas. He is now on assignment in Pakistan tracking down details of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad. Watch AC360° tonight at 10pm ET to see Parts 2 & 3 of Robertson's report. Watch CNN"s "American Al Qaeda: The Story of Bryant Neal Vinas" on Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, at 8pm ET.

Paul Cruickshank and Nic Robertson
CNN

Nearly a decade ago, a group of Saudis and other men from the Middle East came to the United States to carry out the worst terrorist attack on the U.S.

Not a single one had American citizenship.

Almost nine years after the September 11 attacks, the threat of another major terror strike is still a concern, but where the threat is coming from has changed.

A growing number of American citizens and longtime residents of the United States are becoming radicalized enough by al Qaeda's extremist ideology to kill their fellow Americans, counterterrorism officials say.

A growing number are also learning the bomb-making skills necessary to become potentially dangerous terrorists, the officials say. They are training in the mountains of Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan, where al Qaeda still enjoys significant safety.

That's where, according to the U.S. government, alleged Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was trained by the Pakistani Taliban, a group with close ties to al Qaeda.

Shahzad's case has strong similarities to that of another American who plotted with terrorist groups in Pakistan to attack the United States. His name is Bryant Neal Vinas, a Catholic convert to Islam from Long Island, New York, who became radicalized, traveled to Pakistan to join up with al Qaeda and helped Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization plot a bomb attack on New York City.

When news of Vinas' arrest broke last summer, family members, friends and terrorism experts where dumbfounded by how a studious, middle-class, baseball-loving, all-American kid and onetime U.S. Army recruit could end up plotting to kill in the name of al Qaeda.

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May 11th, 2010
01:59 PM ET

Exploring middle class jihadists

Program note: CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson spent a year investigating convicted terrorist, Bryant Neal Vinas. He is now on assignment in Pakistan tracking down details of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad. Watch AC360° tonight at 10pm ET to see Parts 2 & 3 of Robertson's report. Watch CNN"s "American Al Qaeda: The Story of Bryant Neal Vinas" on Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, at 8pm ET.

Bryant Neal Vinas, a convicted terrorist, grew up in a comfortable middle-class family in Long Island, NY.

Bryant Neal Vinas, a convicted terrorist, grew up in a comfortable middle-class family in Long Island, NY.

CNN

They are middle-class, some (by their home country's standards) even well-off. They are often college educated. They are settled in the United States or elsewhere in the West, far from the chaos or sectarian strife of their homelands; they are supposedly "assimilated." But somehow they cast off a life of comfort and drift toward extreme views before embracing political violence inspired by a sense of grievance or alienation.

It is a pattern seen time and again as terrorist plots have been uncovered in the United States. Afghan native Najibullah Zazi; Pakistani-American David Headley; Bryant Neal Vinas, the U.S.-born son of Latino immigrants; and Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with trying to bring down an airliner over Detroit, Michigan, on December 25.

Zazi, who confessed to plotting to use weapons of mass destruction in a suicide bomb attack on the New York subway, was not well-off. But his family was well-established in the United States. His uncle in Denver, Colorado (with whom he lived for part of 2009), owns a spacious house in a pleasant suburb. Zazi attended High School in Flushing, New York, and although religious showed no signs of Islamist militancy as a student. He played billiards and basketball and later ran a coffee-cart business in Wall Street. His patrons described him as likeable, with a ready smile.

Vinas also had a comfortable middle-class upbringing in Long Island and was a baseball fanatic. Neighbors and friends describe him as a courteous, respectful student. Rita Desroches, a neighbor whose son was a good friend of Vinas', describes him as a "very sweet little guy. He could come here any time any minute. Just walk in. He was always welcome."

Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian who is accused of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner, had a privileged upbringing. He attended one of West Africa's best schools: the British School in Lome. His father is a prominent banker in Nigeria; the family had an expensive apartment in London, England, where Abdulmutallab studied mechanical engineering. He traveled widely – to the United States and the Persian Gulf.

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Filed under: 360° Radar • American Al Qaeda • Domestic Terrorism • Islam • Terrorism
May 11th, 2010
01:26 PM ET

Gallery: Portrait of an American Al Qaeda

Program Note: CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson spent a year investigating convicted terrorist, Bryant Neal Vinas. He is now on assignment in Pakistan tracking down details of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad. Watch AC360° at 10 p.m. ET. to see Parts 2 & 3 of Robertson's report. Watch Part 1 on AC360.com. Watch CNN"s "American Al Qaeda: The Story of Bryant Neal Vinas" on Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, at 8pm ET.

AC360°

Bryant Neal Vinas, a former altar boy from the suburbs of New York, planned an attack on U.S. soil that could have caused massive casualties. See a photo gallery of Bryant throughout his childhood.

Bryant Neal Vinas

FULL POST

May 11th, 2010
09:57 AM ET

Video: Making of an American Al Qaeda

Program note: CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson spent a year investigating convicted terrorist, Bryant Neal Vinas. He is now on assignment in Pakistan tracking down details of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad. Watch AC360° tonight at 10pm ET to see Parts 2 & 3 of Robertson's report. Watch CNN"s "American Al Qaeda: The Story of Bryant Neal Vinas" on Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, at 8pm ET.

May 10th, 2010
01:45 PM ET

Tracking down terror

Program note: CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson spent a year investigating convicted terrorist, Bryant Neal Vinas. He is now on assignment in Pakistan tracking down details of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad. Watch AC360° tonight at 10pm ET to see Parts 2 & 3 of Robertson's report. Watch Part 1 on AC360.com. Watch CNN"s "American Al Qaeda: The Story of Bryant Neal Vinas" on Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, at 8pm ET.

Nic Robertson | BIO
CNN Senior International Correspondent

It's 4:30 in the morning, with a foot and a half of snow frozen to the ground outside.

On any other day I would reset my alarm and go back to sleep.

But today is the culmination of more than 6 months of investigative reporting on three continents. We were closing in on a key piece of the puzzle to explain what made an all-American kid from New York join al Qaeda.

If our documentary was going to shed light on a dangerous and growing threat to the United States, we had to make this day count.

Nothing was going to keep me in bed.

I'd flown into New York from London the day before, calculating this one interview would reveal what made a mild-mannered young man from Long Island named Bryant Neal Vinas turn to radical Islamic terrorism.

His story is the story of a frightening new trend: home-grown terrorism. Young Americans converting to radical Islam, trying to kill their countrymen.

For once jet lag was on my side. The body clocks of my colleagues - CNN producer Ken Shiffman and CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank - were on a different schedule, but they were as keen as me to close the deal.

We rolled out of the hotel forecourt onto the deserted highway. The GPS was directing us down Route 112.

Our job this freezing February morning: talk to the man who'd been dodging us for months.

It wasn't going to be easy.

For months, his family had told us he was out of the country; our counterterrorism sources were saying the opposite.

Bryant Neal Vinas is believed to have left this house in Patchogue, New York, to fight Americans in Afghanistan.

Bryant Neal Vinas is believed to have left this house in Patchogue, New York, to fight Americans in Afghanistan.

We parked close to his house in an anonymous New York suburb - and waited for a chance to talk to him. Sitting hour after hour, it is cramped and cold. Slowly the sun inches above the horizon and the uppermost branches of the slender trees surrounding the house are soaked in its early golden glow.

The rays were still hours from reaching us but it was a warming sight nonetheless. An omen, perhaps, that our wait would be worthwhile.

Our journey had begun months earlier when Bryant Neal Vinas' arrest was first made public. He'd been in detention almost a year when the news broke, but we quickly got the inside track. A lawyer we'd interviewed in Belgium handed us a document.

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April 2nd, 2010
04:59 PM ET

Extremist group demands governors resign, FBI says

The FBI does not believe the letters represent an immediate threat.

The FBI does not believe the letters represent an immediate threat.

CNN

A domestic extremist group has sent letters to more than 30 U.S. governors demanding they resign, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI said in an intelligence note.

The note, dated Monday, said the letters told the governors to vacate their posts within three days.

The FBI and DHS said there do not appear to be credible or immediate threats of violence attached to the letters.

The group behind the letters has a "Restore America Plan" that calls for the removal of any governor who fails to comply, the intelligence note said.

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Filed under: Crime • Domestic Terrorism
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