The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has once again issued the National Counterterrorism Day Planner. (The calendar is a whopping 24.5 MB, so only click on this link if you have the most robust of broadband connections--or a lot of time on your hands. The basic content can be found here.)
The calendar itself is an interesting barometer of what the NCTC perceives as the greatest threats to the US in terms of groups, individual terrorists and types of threats. It's no surprise that Bin Laden once again is the "Terror-mate" of the year, capturing the #1 position. As expected, al-Zawahiri captured the #2 slot.
The big upset was #3: Abu Ayyub al-Masri, a relative new comer who does not even make the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list. His high ranking is indication of how counterterrorism resources have lost their focus, thanks to Iraq. Although Al-Masri only has $1 million on his head, this master of the Iraqi vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED), edged out #4 al-Badawi who carries a $5 million bounty for his role in the USS Cole bombing as well as #5 al-Liby who also has a $5 million reward for his role in the East Africa US embassy bombings.
#6 Atiyah Abd al-Rahman is the other big upset, part of the $1 million club who beat other others in the elite $5 million set. How did he do it? One of the Administration's favorite four-letter words: Iran. According to the calendar, al-Rahman, "is the al-Qa'ida emissary in Iran...He recruits and facilitates talks with other Islamic groups to operate under al-Qa'ida." The calendar also warns us that he "should be considered armed and dangerous." You think?
Rounding out the top 10 are two members of the $5 million level and another newcomer who beat out several other $5 million scumbags.
#7 el-Maati (possible terrorist threats against the US, $5 million dollar man)
#8 al-Bahri (al-Qa'ida trainer, $5 million)
#9 Adam Gadahn (the American who has been in multiple al Qa'ida videos as a recruiter, $1 million.)
#10 al-Quso (USS Cole attack planner and $5 million tango.)
Interestingly, Mullah Omar the former Taliban leader who carries a $10 million price on his turban, dropped to the #19 slot in October.
And not that politics would ever play into something like this, it is notable that two of the three non-Islamic terrorist groups that are profiled both are thorns in the Turkish government's side: the PKK and the obscure Revolutionary People's Liberation Party/Front. It almost seems as if someone is trying to make nice with the Turks--or at least convince them we share similar counterterrorist concerns.
The technical pages provide counterterrorism hints that, well, if our CT professionals need them, we are seriously f**ked. The sage advice includes how to spot a "terrorist document:"
1. Physically altered passports
2.Passports with serial numbers that are watch-listed as lost or stolen
3.Handwritten documents that are easily forged or altered
4. Multiple passports used by the same person with variations in the spelling/structure of the name and of date of birth
5.Ambiguous or contradictory information submitted to consular or border control officials.
6.Absence of supporting documents to corroborate passport information
7. Passports with glued-in photographs
What about pages glued together because they did such a kindergarten glue job? Then there's that telltale sign of UBL's name crossed out and "John Smith" scrawled over it.
My favorite nugget of wisdom came from a section "Radicalization: Myths and Reality:"
MYTH: There are visible “signs” of radicalization.
REALITY: Changes in appearance during different stages of radicalization often are the same changes seen in individuals who are not being radicalized...
Beards? Wrinkles? Male pattern baldness?
Given that the NCTC is primarily staffed by contractors, it's a safe assumption that this important CT tool was created with heavy contractor involvement. What I want to know is which contractors were involved in the production of this calendar and how many billable hours did they rack up?