Terrorism database doubles in recent years

Share with others:


Print Email Read Later

WASHINGTON — A U.S. gov­ern­ment da­ta­base of known or sus­pected ter­ror­ists dou­bled in size in re­cent years, ac­cord­ing to newly re­leased gov­ern­ment fig­ures. The growth is the re­sult of in­tel­li­gence agen­cies sub­mit­ting names more of­ten af­ter a near-miss at­tack in 2009.

There were 1.1 mil­lion peo­ple in the da­ta­base at the end of 2013, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Coun­ter­ter­ror­ism Center, which main­tains the in­for­ma­tion. About 550,000 peo­ple were listed in the da­ta­base in March 2010.

The Ter­ror­ist Iden­ti­ties Dat­a­mart En­vi­ron­ment is a huge, clas­si­fied da­ta­base of peo­ple who are known ter­ror­ists, are sus­pected of hav­ing ties to ter­ror­ism or in some cases are re­lated to or as­so­ci­ates of known or sus­pected ter­ror­ists. It feeds to smaller lists that re­strict peo­ple’s abil­i­ties to travel on com­mer­cial air­lin­ers to or within the United States. The gov­ern­ment does not need ev­i­dence link­ing some­one to ter­ror­ism for the per­son to be in­cluded in the da­ta­base. This is among the rea­sons the da­ta­base and sub­se­quent ter­ror watch lists have been crit­i­cized by pri­vacy ad­vo­cates.

An on­line pub­li­ca­tion, The Inter­cept, on Tues­day re­ported that 40 per­cent of peo­ple on the ter­ror­ism watch list — which is a sub­set of names in the TIDE da­ta­base — were not af­fil­i­ated with any rec­og­nized ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The pub­li­ca­tion cited what it said were clas­si­fied gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments from one year ago it ob­tained from a source in the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that some­one other than for­mer NSA an­a­lyst Edward Snow­den was im­prop­erly dis­clos­ing clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. Mr. Snow­den fled to Rus­sia in June 2013, roughly two months be­fore the date stamp on the newly dis­closed doc­u­ments. The Inter­cept was founded by jour­nal­ists with whom Mr. Snow­den shared clas­si­fied ma­teri­als last year.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials were con­sid­er­ing Tues­day whether to ask the Depart­ment of Justice to open a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the sus­pected leak of the clas­si­fied counter-ter­ror­ism doc­u­ment to the Inter­cept web­site, a U.S. of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter said. The of­fi­cial said, how­ever, that the gov­ern­ment does not know for sure that a sec­ond leaker ex­ists.

The growth of the Ter­ror­ist Iden­ti­ties Dat­a­mart En­vi­ron­ment is a re­sult of the gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to a failed at­tempt to blow up a com­mer­cial air­liner over Detroit on Christ­mas Day in 2009. The ter­ror op­er­a­tive’s name was in­cluded in the da­ta­base be­fore the at­tack, but it was not on a list that would have pre­vented him from board­ing a U.S.-bound flight. Since then, the gov­ern­ment low­ered the stan­dards for plac­ing some­one on the no-fly list, and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have be­come more dil­i­gent about sub­mit­ting names to the TIDE da­ta­base.

Of the 1.1 mil­lion peo­ple in the TIDE da­ta­base, 25,000 are U.S. cit­i­zens or le­gal per­ma­nent res­i­dents, the Na­tional Coun­ter­ter­ror­ism Center said.

Other ter­ror watch lists de­rived from the TIDE da­ta­base have also grown. As of No­vem­ber 2013, the Ter­ror­ist Screen­ing Da­ta­base con­sisted of 700,000 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of an­o­nym­ity to dis­cuss the sen­si­tive num­bers.

Ques­tions about the watch list sur­faced in a re­cent civil law­suit out of Vir­ginia chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of the no-fly list. The gov­ern­ment dis­closed that there were 1.5 mil­lion nom­i­na­tions to the watch list over the last five years. Weeks later, a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial ex­plained that a “nom­i­na­tion” meant new names as well as changes or up­dates to ex­ist­ing names on the list, and the fig­ure in the court doc­u­ment should not have been in­ter­preted to mean that 1.5 mil­lion peo­ple had been added to the watch list in the last five years, as The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported July 18.

In Au­gust 2013, there were more than 73,000 peo­ple af­fil­i­ated with al-Qaida in Iraq on the ter­ror watch list, ac­cord­ing to a doc­u­ment marked “se­cret,” ob­tained by The Inter­cept. That al-Qaida af­fil­i­ate rep­re­sented the larg­est group of peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with a known ter­rorist group on the watch list at the time.

United States - North America - Al-Qaida - Edward Snowden

Reu­ters con­trib­uted.


Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here