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The FBI’s Long Arm…

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Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC)

The FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC)

According to legend the FBI always gets its man – leaving sexism aside for the moment.   Whether true or not, a recent case undoubtedly highlighted the extremely long reach of the US’s famous law enforcement agency.  The case involved Anis Abid Sardar, an Iraqi national, who was working in London as a taxi driver.  Last month Sardar was convicted of killing a US soldier in Iraq in 2007 and for this heinous crime he has been sentenced to serve a minimum of 38 years in prison – in the UK.

It seems that Anis Sardar became involved in the resistance to the US occupation of Iraq and took up making improvised explosive devices or IEDs.  One of the bombs that he made exploded under a troop carrier west of Bagdad in 2007 killing “34-year-old Sergeant First Class Randy Johnson, of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment” . Some months after the attack Sardar was fingerprinted as he entered the UK having travelled via Syria.  Seven long years passed and then he came into the sights of the FBI.  The Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Centre (TEDAC) identified his fingerprints on a number of devices that were similar to those that killed Randy Johnson.  They issued a warrant for Sardar’s arrest and just last month he was convicted in what Sue Hemming of the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service described as a “landmark prosecution”.

Now you might ask what is TEDAC?  Well that’s part of what’s interesting .  The FBI’s Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Centre is located at the FBI Laboratory in Quantico in Virginia.  In the FBI’s own words it is the “US Government’s single repository for IEDs that have been collected or are of interest to the United States government.”  To put it another way ‘it’s the bomb library of America.’

The FBI are extremely proud of TEDAC.  It comprises a huge warehouse to where are repatriated the remnants of any device used against US agencies or its armed forces.  Right now there are thousands of boxes in the warehouse awaiting examination (see above).  When a device explodes anywhere and the target is US troops, the fragments from the entire conflagration are gathered up, logged and transported all the way back to said TEDAC facility in the USA.  Just imagine the logistics involved here for one moment.  The gathering of everything from a bomb blast must take place; the attention to detail must be paramount; everything is then packed up and posted in over to Virginia.

Amazing right.  Take a look at the photo above of the warehouse and those racks of crates and you get some indication of the huge effort that is taking place.  Every single one of those crates is a crime waiting to be solved.  This is cutting edge detective work alongside a cutting edge commitment to justice too.  Am I not right?

Eventually these bits of metal are examined and checked, and sometimes, as with the case of Sardar a prosecution results.  The FBI notes that ‘Since its creation in 2003, TEDAC has examined more than 100,000 IEDs from around the world and currently receives submissions at the rate of 800 per month. Two million items have been processed for latent prints—half of them this year alone.’  An FBI spokesperson added, ‘We have a lot of experience identifying IED components and blast damage.  As a result we have identified over 1,000 individuals with potential ties to terrorism.’

So there you are.  Shit hot, right?  TEDAC and everything associated with it is a commitment to justice that is second to none, right ?Except… Wait a minutes… What about…?

A killer droneThe question is HOW do you square up this dedicated pursuit by the FBI of men like Sardar with its polar opposite: the mounting tally of deaths associated with the US’s drone bombing campaign?

Before I set down another letter on WordPress, let me hasten to point out here that I’m not intending FOR ONE MOMENT to get into the matter of whether or not the US is entitlement to wander about the globe killing what it terms ‘legitmate’ targets at will.  That is not for now.  Afterall, a lowly writer such as I, who am I to question the right of the United States to execute at will those it deems to be its enemies?

Instead I will confine myself here to what are termed collateral deaths associated with this drone campaign?  In a recent interview regarding the Naming The Dead project, Jack Serle of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism  said, ‘We don’t have an absolute figure on how many people have been killed, but our best estimate is about 2,318. I don’t think it’s realistic to think that we’ll be able to name every single one of them, partly because a lot of people have died anonymously.”  To date in fact NTD have managed to name just over 700 individuals.

Site of a suspected U.S. drone strike on an Islamic seminary in Hangu district, bordering North Waziristan, November 21, 2013.

For me it beggars belief that in t his day and age this sort of murderous activity can go on with no one or no organisation able to stop it, but there you are it does.  The point however is that with regard to the US’s drone bombing campaign, significant numbers of civilians are being killed each week.  This is simply a war crime, but one that is happening week in and week out now.  The drone bombing campaign contravenes all the usual standards of conduct in war – where reasonable effort must be made to avoid the targeting of civilians.  And in almost all the cases I know of there isn’t even a war on in the first place.  The US is targeting  and killing at will in areas of the world where it sees fit.  Which puts TEDAC and the FBI’s investigative prowess into a somewhat different light, no?

The Naming The Dead project got underway due to the fact that in many of the cases where drone bombings have been conducted, the extent of the destruction and the arbitrariness of the attacks is such that no one knows often how many or who has died.  It is not unusual on any day to have on the newswires a brief report that a drone bomb attack has taken place.  In such reports the general number of casualties is reported on.  The names of the victims are rarely given… and the world moves on.  [Rest assured that no stellar effort by FBI or anyone else for that matter is going to take place in regard to these murderous attacks; in fact the victims’ families will be doing well if they manage to recover the remains of their loved ones.]

As I composed this post, I noted that the following report appeared on the wires.  It is entitled, Fresh US drone strikes have claimed the lives of at least 14 people in the troubled eastern part of Afghanistan.   To summarize the information in this report.  There were six casualties on Friday when a group of people were targeted by a US Drone flying over eastern Paktia Province.  ‘Witnesses and local resident say the victims were civilians, but Afghan officials insist that they were all Taliban militants.’  Furthermore, it is noted that later on that same Friday, ‘eight people were killed in another US drone strike in the eastern Nangarhar Province.’ The following is also noted: ‘The US has stepped up its drone campaign across Afghanistan in recent weeks.’  And the following was also noted:

  • June 5th at least 15 civilians lost their lives in a US drone strike in Alishir district of Khost province near the border with Pakistan. Local residents said the victims were attending the funeral of a local tribesman.
  • On June 4th Separate drone attacks across Nangarhar had claimed at least 17 lives the day before.

If you wish to know more about the extent and nature of the US’s drone war, the following pdf is worth examining.

So there you have it.  One the one hand people are beavering away in TEDAC day in and day out, scouring fragments of metal, powering up scanning electron microscopes, piecing together tiny fragments of prints – generally DOING THEIR DAMNEDEST to find those criminals out there in the world.  While on the other hand, under the same grand canopy that is US Justice and Law Enforcement, people are being blown to smithereens at will, with such gay abandon that in many cases it isn’t even known who is being killed or who they even are.

I guess you’ll drawn your own conclusions from all of this but I know one thing for sure, the days of having one law for one set of people in the world and another for another set, is long over with.

 

Related Links and Articles

Living Under Drones

Targetting the Rescuers

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Written by kfdoyle

June 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm

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