Last updated Sep. 19, 2018
Whether it’s from terrorists, anarchists, cybercriminals or nation-states, America has a target on its back.
In this weekly podcast series produced by WTOP and Podcast One, WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green investigates the threats facing the U.S., the people behind them, the agencies fighting them and their impact on Americans.
Episode 135: Sept. 20, 2018 — Tale of a troll
Marat Mindiyarov worked in the nerve center of Russia’s infamous St. Petersburg troll house. He saw the plan, reluctantly participated in the plot and played a key role in the Internet Research Agency. The organization conducted an operation to trick Americans on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms into believing a Kremlin-backed disinformation campaign — until he could no longer put up with the hours, the drudgery and diabolical plot. So he quit and began sounding alarm. Shortly afterward he was arrested. We have all the details on this episode.
Episode 134: Sept. 13, 2018 — Is North Korea really serious about denuclearization?
In March, Pyongyang said it would suspend its nuclear and missile testing programs if the U.S. would sit down and discuss how to improve relations. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did just that. At that time Pyongyang said it would completely give up its nuclear program if it were to get security guarantees. Skeptics found that hard to believe. But on this program, Ambassador Joe Detrani, a former U.S. official who has sat across the negotiating table from North Korean representatives, tells us that making a nuclear deal is going to be difficult, but it can be done.
Episode 133: Sept. 6, 2018 — Al-Baghdadi’s ‘last-ditch’ effort to save IS
After almost a year of silence and three years since he was last seen in public, Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi released an audio message on Aug. 22 ostensibly admitting that the brutal terror group had been defeated by the U.S.-led coalition. But in that same message, the crafty, self-appointed caliph tried to rally his troops, the total number of which is disputed. He called on them to launch an insurgency — something U.S. military officials say will not succeed. In this episode, Col. Sean Ryan, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, and Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White join Target USA to talk about the status of the mission to defeat IS and the size of the organization, and to deliver a prognosis for the fight.
Episode 132: Aug. 30, 2018 — Former CIA director’s security clearance revocation ignites intel community firestorm
When President Donald Trump announced that former CIA Director John Brennan’s security clearance was revoked for being too critical of the president, former intelligence community members erupted, fervently defending Brennan. While making it clear that some of them disagreed with Brennan’s comments and tone, they were clear. They were firmly behind his right to speak. David Priess, retired CIA officer and former presidential briefer, discussed the impact of the revocation with Target USA.
Episode 131: Aug. 23, 2018 — A conversation with Khemaies Jhinaoui, foreign minister of Tunisia
Tunisia considers itself the U.S.’ oldest friend. But in recent years, that friendship has been tested. Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui came to the U.S. in July to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other U.S. officials to talk things over. Before his meeting with Pompeo, he sat down with Target USA.
Episode 130: Aug. 15, 2018 — Bill Browder says Kremlin tried a 6th time to kidnap him
Bill Browder says he’s Russian President Vladimir Putin No. 1 enemy. The reason is the Magnitsky Act, which punishes Russia for corruption. Browder says the Russian government has spent millions of dollars to capture him. He believes they’re trying to kill him. In early June, a bizarre episode played out in Madrid that seems to confirm that claim. Browder spoke to Target USA about what happened.
Episode 129: Aug. 9, 2018 — Putin’s ‘wish list’: Kyle Parker, one of 11 Americans in danger, speaks out
After President Donald Trump’s historic summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16, Putin suggested a trade of sorts. It involved the 12 people indicted in the U.S. on election interference charges and 11 Americans whom Russian authorities would like turned over for “questioning.” Some security experts have suggested the Americans might be in danger if such a swap were allowed. Kyle Parker, chief of staff of the Helsinki Commission, is one of those people. And while calm about it all, he’s very concerned. And he told Target USA why.
Episode 128: Aug. 2, 2018 — Maria Butina was arrested for being a Russian agent. Here’s a look at her life in Washington
When she was arrested on July 15, Maria Butina, a 29-year-old Russian woman, was portrayed in an online profile as a recent graduate of the American University’s Kogod School of Business. She was well-known in conservative political circles around Washington as being pro-gun rights, pro-Russia and pro-Trump. But the FBI thought she was up to something more. In this episode we talk to a classmate, two journalists who got to know her and her attorney about who Maria Butina really is.
Episode 127: July 26, 2018 — The Helsinki Summit with White House reporter Jeff Mason, former CIA operative Robert Baer
What happened between President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin during their one-on-one meeting July 16 in Helsinki may not be fully known for a long time — if ever. But on this episode, we look at the historic press conference between the two and the fallout afterward. Reuters White House Correspondent Jeff Mason explains what it was like to be in the room. And Robert Baer, who worked almost a decade on Russia issues for the CIA, explains the disgust his former colleagues felt watching the press conference, during which Trump seemed to side with Putin against them.
Episode 126: July 19, 2018 — Plot to kill prominent Americans and Iranians in Paris foiled
On June 30 and July 1, four people were arrested by Belgian, French and German authorities. They allegedly had planned to bomb a massive gathering of people who oppose the Iranian regime. Among them were current high-profile officials from the U.S government, military and national security communities. The group that put the event together is the National Council of Resistance of Iran, led by Maryam Rajavi. The operation to attack the event was allegedly being plotted by a sleeper cell. One of the members that were arrested was carrying TATP, a very volatile explosive that could’ve caused tremendous damage. Joining us on this program is Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the Washington office of National Council of Resistance of Iran, to explain in detail what happened.
Episode 125: July 12, 2018 — Moscow accuses American of killing former Russian spy, alleges CIA connection
Alexander Goldfarb was close friends with Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian intelligence officer, who was poisoned to death in London in 2006. Two Russian intelligence operatives were behind it. But after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, another former Russian spy, and his daughter Yulia in March of this year, Russian government-linked media outlets began accusing Goldfarb of killing his friend. Then things turned bizarre. He got a visit from the FBI and his friend’s father began accusing him of killing Litvinenko. Now Goldfarb and Marina Litvinenko, the widow of Alexander Litvinenko, have decided to take action. We have exclusive details on this episode.
Episode 124: July 5, 2018 — Moldovan Foreign Minister Tudor Ulianovschi discusses difficult relationship with Russia
Many of Russia’s neighbors are concerned about its revanchist intentions. They are worried about the mixed and confusing messages coming from Russia. On one hand, Kremlin officials say they support the independence and free will of neighboring countries, as long as that free will doesn’t lead to an alliance with the EU. That’s part of the problem going on in Moldova. Foreign Minister Tudor Ulianovschi was in Washington on June 25 to along with Prime Minister Pavel Filip. Ulianovschi talked about the situation while visiting with Target USA.
Episode 123: June 28, 2018 — The Kremlin intensifies efforts to arrest Putin’s nemesis Bill Browder
On June 20, 2018 Interfax, Russia’s state run news outlet reported that the government has issued its seventh Red notice seeking the arrest of hedge fund manager Bill Browder. Browder, founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, joined Target USA to talk about the intensified efforts to capture him and in his words eventually … kill him.
Episode 122: June 21, 2018 — EU military officials warn Russia to stop its aggressive behavior
The 2018 NATO Summit is coming up in July in Brussels. Three of the top agenda items are improving the speed of decision making, refining the readiness of NATO forces and enhancing the mobility of NATO forces. Russia is the main reason for this urgency. Three top officials from the EU spoke to Target USA about it.
Episode 121: June 14, 2018 — Former DNI James Clapper discusses new book and ‘truth’ about Russia’s meddling in 2016 election
James Clapper spent more than 50 years in the U.S. intelligence community. His last posting was director of national intelligence, serving under President Barack Obama. He’s written a book about his career called “Facts and Fears.” He spoke with Target USA, and candidly discussed “the truth about Russia’s role in the presidential election,” the Osama bin Laden raid, the Benghazi attack, and the Edward Snowden leaks.
Episode 120: June 7, 2018 — Rethinking the illnesses of US diplomats in Havana: A new theory
On Aug. 9, 2017, CBS correspondent Steve Dorsey broke the story that U.S. diplomats in Havana had been sickened by a mysterious illness, the cause of which no one could put their finger on. At the time no one had any answers about what happened. Doctors determined they were likely suffering from some kind of ultrasonic device. But since then other possibilities have arisen. Chris Simmons, a retired supervisory counterintelligence officer from the Defense Intelligence Agency with deep experience related to Cuba, has a theory and supporting evidence that makes perfect sense and is very plausible.
Episode 119: May 31, 2018 — Lithuanian foreign minister warns the West to stand up to Russia
The U.S. continues grappling with the effects of the Russian government’s meddling before, during and after the 2016 presidential election. The Kremlin’s main goal of creating a climate of distrust and chaos was largely successful. And in the process, U.S. officials, experts and average citizens are pointing fingers — blaming each other for allowing it to happen. Lithuania, which has had a long and difficult history in Russia’s shadow and has been victimized by Russia’s “alternative” views of truth for many years, has some advice for U.S. officials. Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius visited Washington on May 16 to meet with U.S. officials and counseled against trying to compromise with Russia because, he said, that would be a sign of weakness to the Kremlin.
Episode 118: May 24, 2018 — The Cipher Brief
Two-and-a-half years ago, Suzanne Kelly, one of the top intelligence reporters in the U.S., took a leap. She started an online national security, intelligence publication to offer news consumers in-depth news, analysis and well-qualified experts on those topics. What she got in return far exceeded that. “Our biggest accomplishment to date has been that we very quickly became ‘must read’ material within the IC (Intelligence Community),” Kelly said. “We’re read within the FBI, ODNI, White House and Pentagon. What has surprised me a little bit is how large of a loyal audience we’ve been able to grow outside of the IC and national security apparatus.” In fact, Microsoft and McDonald’s are among the global private sector companies that depend on The Cipher Brief. Kelly joined us on Target USA to discuss the venture.
Episode 117: May 17, 2018 — US-Pakistan relations hit a rough patch
The United States and Pakistan have had a steady relationship for 70 years. But in that period, the affiliation has been beset by ups and downs, including the Osama bin Laden saga. Now, yet another “misunderstanding,” as characterized on this episode by Aizaz Chaudhry, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., threatens to derail this critical relationship. And interestingly enough, new information related to the bin Laden story surfaces in this podcast.
Episode 116: May 10, 2018 — Trump meets Kim: Planning the US-North Korea summit
The U.S. and North Korea are moving ahead with plans for President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet. But what happens after the meeting? Is there enough trust between the two to facilitate a nuclear deal? It’s a big question, especially considering the U.S. has just pulled out of a similar deal with Iran.
Episode 115: May 3, 2018 — Deepening distrust between US and Russia
On the previous episode, retired U.S. spy John Sipher told Target USA that Russia possibly has as many as 225 spies inside the U.S. — even after 60 were kicked out in March. Bitterly complaining about it, Russia’s ambassador grumbled that no U.S. officials would meet with him. One congressman tells us why. And we hear why the U.S. gets the short end of the stick when it comes to tit-for-tat expulsions.
Episode 114: April 26, 2018 — Former CIA officer John Sipher discusses Russian spy strength in the US
Russia has more spies in the U.S. than it did during the Cold War. The man who knows all about Russian espionage joins Target USA to break down exactly what the spies are doing and how many are likely at work inside the U.S. during this very tense and dangerous time.
Episode 113: April 19, 2018 — Europol executive director warns cyber enabled terror attacks are coming
In an exclusive interview, Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright tells Target USA that it’s just a matter time before terrorists turn to cyber to create chaos: “Down the tracks, how far I don’t know, I’m pretty sure we’ll see some form of cyber enabled terrorism and I’m surprised that we haven’t seen that already.” He says they can easily develop the capability by utilizing resources available online. Wainwright discusses that, and the recent and eerie lull in major terror attacks.
Episode 112: April 12, 2018 — Should the US investigate suspicious Russia-linked deaths?
Dozens of prominent Russians have died in the past four years in Russia and in other countries. Several of them died here in the United States. On this episode, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and former FBI agent and former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers say there is “absolutely” a need for U.S. authorities go back and look at a number of suspicious deaths in the U.S.
Episode 111: April 4, 2018 — Britain and the US target Russia over poisoning and other attacks
Michael Tatham, Britain’s deputy ambassador to the U.S., warns Russia “to stop testing Western countries in aggressive, counterproductive ways that increase international tension.” If Russia doesn’t, cooperate, former CIA officer Robert Baer says Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal fortune should be targeted. Both make their cases on this episode of Target USA.
Episode 110: March 29, 2018 — Businessman Bill Browder says the Kremlin is trying to kill him, too
In the wake of the poisoning of a former Russian double agent in the United Kingdom, Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder tells Target USA, “The Russians are doing everything they can try to get me, to try to kill me, to try to stop me, to try to intimidate me.” Browder, the architect of the Magnitsky Act, says “there are probably 250 people working full time inside the Russian government at any given moment trying to destroy my life.” Browder says he’s the number one enemy of the Russian government and, specifically, Russian President Vladimir Putin. All the details are available on this episode.
Episode 109: March 22, 2018 — Poisoning of former double agent in Britain triggers new Cold War
A new and bitter schism between Russia and the west over the poisoning of a former double agent has opened up, and it could have lethal consequences. On this episode, British Prime Minister Theresa May, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and former weapons inspector Dr. David Kay put the potentially deadly situation into context.
Episode 108: March 15, 2018 — The next generation of terrorism, it’s coming. So, how is the State Department preparing?
Terrorism is shifting into a new phase. U.S. Department of State Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales says terrorists are getting smarter — using previous attacks as blueprints. But with the Islamic State group waning, al-Qaida- and Iran-backed terrorism are in resurgent trajectories. Sales says military efforts to fight terrorism are going to wind down, and sophisticated law enforcement and advanced screening measures are going to take precedence.
Episode 107: March 8, 2018 — 25 years after the first World Trade Center attack, why soft targets are still a problem?
On this episode, we hear the survival stories from the day in 1993 when “the earth shook” and thick black smoke filled New York’s iconic World Trade Center. Six people died and more than a thousand were injured during an attack that many believe set the stage for an even more disastrous attack in 2001. Survivors’ audio was provided by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.
Episode 106: March 1, 2018 —Putin’s motivation for election meddling
What’s Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motivation for interfering in U.S. elections? U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a senior member of the Senate foreign relations committee, tells Target USA that Putin is, perhaps, the richest man in the world and corruption is his business model. And that, according to Cardin, is driving his obsession to sow seeds of chaos in the U.S.
Episode 105: Feb. 22, 2018 — Russian election interference: Version 2018
Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers tells Target USA that in the 1960s, Russian intelligence used leaflets and pamphlets to try to interfere in U.S. affairs. But in 2016, the internet, bots, trolls and Americans’ anger toward each other made it a lot easier. And in 2018, Rogers said, we should prepare for an even more advanced attack that’s based on the same simple principle.
Episode 104: Feb. 15, 2018 — Former CIA director Mike Hayden takes us inside the Russian threat to the US
Having served as a four-star Air Force general and as director of the National Security Agency and the CIA, very few people know more about how Russia’s new Cold War-like behavior will impact the U.S. Former CIA director Mike Hayden shares deep insight with Target USA about what to expect in 2018 and beyond.
Episode 103: Feb. 8, 2017 — Interview with David Pekoske, administrator of the TSA
Two things keep David Pekoske, head of the Transportation Security Administration, awake at night. Worrying about the 60,000-plus men and women on the front lines of the TSA is one. The other, Pekoske says, is “people that we don’t know about” — meaning terrorists and other criminals who pose a threat to aviation and other modes of transportation security. He talks exclusively to Target USA about those issues, how terrorists are changing their tactics to more effectively attack airplanes, and how the TSA is dealing with the threat.
Episode 102: Feb. 1, 2018 — North Korea’s Olympic motives spark suspicion
Grace Jo escaped from North Korea in 2006, but not before her grandmother, father and four siblings died of starvation or simply disappeared while out searching for food. Now with the start of the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea coming up on Feb. 9, Jo says she is suspicious of North Korea’s interest in participating and cozying up to South Korea and she tells Target USA that we may soon find out that the warming of relations is what not it seems to be.
Episode 101: Jan. 25, 2018 — ‘Thrilling and terrifying’: Part 2 of interview with former CIA officer Mark Kelton
This is a continuation of what we started in episode 100 of Target USA. In a rare interview, retired CIA officer Mark Kelton reveals details about his days behind the Iron Curtain and why Russia is a foe that is just as dangerous today as it was at the height of the Cold War. In this episode, Kelton tells us about his work helping Pakistan track down Osama bin Laden and how he contracted a mysterious, yet-to-be-explained illness during that process. He also issues a warning to U.S. officials leading the fight against terrorists today.
Episode 100: Jan. 18, 2018 — ‘Thrilling and terrifying’
On our 100th episode of Target USA, we bring you a very special interview with a retired CIA officer. Mark Kelton reveals the details of a remarkable career, including a harrowing day behind the Iron Curtain in the former Czechoslovakia, the devastating impact of a CIA turncoat, and why he says Edward Snowden is “a liar and traitor.” His story is robust, incisive, revealing and timely.
Episode 99: Jan. 11, 2018 — Russian agents still meddling in US affairs
Nine months after the historic investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, Target USA speaks with Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Among the stunning developments he shares are that Russia has not stopped trying to interfere in U.S. affairs, that the Steve Bannon revelations in the book “Fire and Fury” contributed to several new threads that will likely extend the investigation, and that some of those who’ve already testified may have to come back.
Episode 98: Jan. 4, 2018 — The consequences of Trump’s Pakistan ‘lying and deceit’ tweets
During a stream of New Year’s Day tweets, President Donald Trump insulted Pakistan leaders, calling them liars and deceitful while taking billions in U.S. aid over a 15-year period. Target USA spoke with Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., who called the allegations “hurtful and disappointing.” Also boiling over right now are longstanding trust issues between the U.S. and Pakistan that stem from the location and killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Chaudhry has a cloaked warning for the U.S. and some advice on moving forward. Note: We extended an invitation to the White House to respond but did not receive a reply.
Episode 97: Dec. 28, 2017 — 2017 in review
North Korea, attacks on US diplomats in Cuba, terror attacks in the U.S. and Europe were among the biggest stories of the year, but the undisputed top story of the year was Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. Target USA takes a look back.
Episode 96: Dec. 21, 2017 — Top TSA officials lose sleep, but gain ground as terrorists plot new attacks
As of Dec. 20, the very same instructions that Akayed Ullah used to learn how to build the bomb he detonated in the New York subway attack on Dec. 11 allegedly remains online and available to clever terrorists able to find them. That along with numerous other clearly stated threats from terror groups to U.S. aviation, rail and other surface transportation systems, commands a growing amount of precious time from Transportation Security Administration officials, who are working day and night to stay ahead of the threat. Stacey Fitzmaurice, deputy assistant administrator at the TSA’s Office of Security Operations, and Bob Melan, a security specialist at the surface division of the Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement, sat down with Target USA to lay out the threat, some of their counter measures, and how it all impacts TSA’s plans to protect the traveling public. Also, Philip Mudd, former CIA and FBI executive, explains what the latest terrorist tactics mean for the future.
Episode 95: Dec. 14, 2017 — The New York Port Authority suicide bomber and US intelligence community’s ‘crown jewel’
On Monday, Dec. 11, a 27-year-old man triggered a strapped-on suicide vest inside a crowded pedestrian tunnel under New York’s Port Authority. He was allegedly upset about Christmas posters and other geopolitical issues inside the corridor he targeted. For some reason, the bomb didn’t work the way Akayed Ullah, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, had intended it to. It granted everyone around him and brought to the forefront again the general danger that terrorists pose, the specific dreadful nature of a suicide bomber, and the Justice Department’s urgent concern about a key tool to fight terrorists that is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless reauthorized by Congress. Department of Justice Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand joined Target USA to explain why Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act is so important. Former CIA case officer Robert Baer and counterterrorism expert Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence at Stratfor, also joined us describe the evolving terrorism landscape.
Episode 94: Dec. 7, 2017 — North Korea marches closer and closer to nuclear weapons
Many think that it’s just a matter of time before North Korea is an existential threat to the U. S. “As Kim Jong Un said a few months ago, North Korea’s determined to build on their nuclear and missile capabilities,” Joeseph DeTrani, former director of the National Counterproliferation Center, says on this episode of Target USA. He says the U.S. and its allies have to stop it from happening. But, is it too late? Retired Lt. Col. Dan Davis, senior fellow at Defense Priorities, raises a key question on the program: “Is there a high chance that one day we’ll see a mushroom cloud over Seattle?” The two experts breakdown the latest threat, the U.S.’ options and what it all means for you.
Episode 93: Nov. 30, 2017 — Kirkuk, Iraq is the scene of yet another human catastrophe
On the heels of the announcement that the Islamic State group had essentially been ousted from Iraq in September 2017, the Iraqi military along with Iranian-backed militias launched an incursion into Kirkuk in northern Iraq. Almost 200,000 people have been displaced, hundreds have been killed and Kurdish officials say “ethnic cleansing” is taking place. Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government to the U.S., shared the details with us. We also spoke with Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II, commander of the Operation Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) coalition in the region, about how all of this is impacting the fight against IS.
Episode 92: Nov. 23, 2017 — NSA still battling to regain its edge years after the Snowden leaks
Four and a half years after contractor Edward Snowden abruptly left the U.S. with a trove of highly classified secrets, the National Security Agency and its counterparts in the U.S. intelligence community continue to struggle under the crushing impact of his actions. Terrorists, spies and other NSA targets have retreated to the safety of encrypted apps and the deep web. While it’s made progress, it will take years before NSA regains its edge. In the meantime, some very nasty things may happen because bad actors are able to hide almost completely. In this episode, NSA Deputy Director George Barnes says Snowden did much more than steal and leak highly classified documents, he opened a window into the NSA’s thought process. Although the agency is rebounding very quickly, it’s a difficult process.
Episode 91: Nov. 16, 2017 — Anatomy of a Russian Attack: The next time could be worse
If you’ve followed the Target USA podcast, you are familiar with our series of reports called the Anatomy of a Russian Attack. In episodes 83 through 86, we unveiled a nearly yearlong investigation into Russia’s meddling, and its attack on the U.S. election in 2016 and American democracy. On this week’s episode, we continue the investigation by digging deeper into Russia’s operation, why it appeared to be successful and the reality that what we’ve seen is possibly only the beginning. Former Office of the Director of National Intelligence general counsel Robert Litt, Dr. Christopher Paul with Rand Corporation and Time.com journalist Massimo Calabresi join us with expert context on this episode.
Episode 90: Nov. 9, 2017 — The New York City terror attack and what was known months ahead of time
Six months prior to the attack on a New York City bike path, top intelligence officials had an idea something like it was coming. In this episode of Target USA, we revisit a conversation with Nick Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, who talks about it. Also, the alleged New York attacker said Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was his inspiration. Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), updates us on the search for Baghdadi; and European Union commissioner Sir Julian King discusses how IS is changing its tactics.
Episode 89: Nov. 2, 2017: Tamer Elnoury —Interview with an undercover Muslim FBI agent
In the wake of the New York City bike path terror incident on Halloween, many are asking how authorities can stop extremists like the man who ran over innocent people with a truck in the name of IS. One way is an undercover FBI agent — or more specifically, an undercover Muslim agent like Tamer Elnoury. Still active in the FBI, Elnoury disguises his voice to tell us a vivid story about his book “American Radical,” and the tough job that he and his colleagues do. He also shares the way he moves between his real and undercover lives.
Episode 88: Oct. 26, 2017 — Exclusive interview with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
Leaks in Washington, terrorism, Russian meddling in the 2016 election, cyber threats to the electric grid and the opioid crisis all are serious concerns for the No. 2 official at the Department of Justice. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein discusses them all in an exclusive interview with Target USA.
Episode 87: Oct. 18, 2017 — An update on the US diplomats sickened in Cuba
We told you the story on Episode 78 of how “official” Washington was rattled on Aug. 9, when news broke that U.S. diplomats in Havana had been sickened a mysterious illness that no one could put their finger on. Target USA has continued digging into the story, and, in this episode, we now have a better idea of what happened and where. Russia may emerge as key suspect. Retired Ambassador Deborah Jones lays out the risks diplomats face there and beyond.
Episode 86: Oct. 10, 2017 — Special Report | Anatomy of a Russian Attack Part 4: A look at Russia’s objective and what’s coming
This is the final installment of our four-part Target USA series “Anatomy of a Russian Attack on the U.S.” In this episode, Robert Cardillo, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, details how Russia’s activities have impacted the U.S. intelligence community. Also, Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, discusses how they are going to deal with Russia’s efforts. And also, a former Russian spy tells us what we should expect in the coming weeks, months and years. As we’ve told you, the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered operatives to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. A Target USA investigation that began in November 2016 examined how the attack happened, when it started, who was involved and what will lie ahead. We conducted dozens of interviews, in the U.S. and abroad, with current and former U.S. intelligence officials, members of Congress, cyber security and intelligence experts, foreign government officials, Russian nationals and American victims.
Episode 85: Oct. 3, 2017 — Anatomy of a Russian Attack Part 3: Troll farms, IMSI catchers
This is part three of our four-part Target USA series “Anatomy of a Russian Attack on the U.S.” In this episode, former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers pulls back the curtain on Russia’s troll farm operation, and intelligence expert Aaron Turner of Gravwell talks about how Russian operatives spied on mobile phones in Washington. As we’ve told you, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered operatives to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. This Target USA investigation, which began in November 2016, examines how the attack happened, when it started, who was involved and what will lie ahead. We conducted dozens of interviews — in the U.S. and abroad — with current and former U.S. intelligence officials, members of Congress, cyber security and intelligence experts, foreign government officials, Russian nationals, and American victims.
Episode 84: Sept. 25, 2017 – Anatomy of a Russian Attack Part 2: Inside the Russian operation
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered operatives to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election. A Target USA investigation that began in November 2016 examined how the attack happened, when it started, who was involved and what lay ahead. In part two of our four-part Target USA series, “Anatomy of a Russian Attack,” we explore the mindset of the Russian operatives behind the meddling and the early origins of the operations.
Episode 83: Sept. 18, 2017 — Anatomy of a Russian Attack
The U.S. intelligence community has concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered operatives to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election. A Target USA investigation that began in November 2016 examined how the attack happened, when it started, who was involved and what lay ahead. Dozens of interviews were conducted in the U.S. and abroad with current and former U.S. intelligence officials, members of Congress, cybersecurity and intelligence experts, foreign government officials, Russian nationals and American victims.
Episode 82: Sept. 14, 2017 — 16 years after the 9/11 attacks, worries of new attacks grow
Sixteen years after the worst terror attack in U.S. history, a former senior operations officer with the CIA says, “the situation is even worse.” Mike Maness was overseas when the 9/11 attacks took place. But now he says: “As a country, we tend to have a very short memory. The average citizen seems to have forgotten, or is choosing to ignore, the fact that terrorism is still a very real threat.” On this episode, experts Tara Maller with the Counter Extremism Project and Robin Simcox of The Heritage Foundation put the lessons learned and the new threats into perspective.
Episode 81: Sept. 7, 2017 — After 6th nuclear test and more possible, who controls North Korea’s nukes?
North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Han Tae Song, said on Sept. 5 that the country’s recent nuclear and missile tests “are a gift package addressed to none other than the U.S.” The same day, U.S. Ambassador U.N. Nikki Haley said, “Enough is enough,” indicating that it’s time for more drastic measures to stop North Korea’s provocative and dangerous actions. Nuclear weapons in an unstable North Korea raise a range of concerns, including, as Dr. James Turner, former Department of Energy director of the Office of Nuclear Weapons Surety, asks, who’s in control of North Korea’s nukes?
Episode 80: Aug. 31, 2017 — Houston hammered by Hurricane Harvey
Eleven trillion gallons of water have fallen in the Houston area. Veteran first responders and globally seasoned journalists stand in awe of the scope of the devastation. The damage is unprecedented, according to Texas National Guard spokesperson Lt. Col. Travis Walters. In this episode, we set the scene, examine the rescue efforts and look at how you can help.
Episode 79: Aug. 24, 2017 — The safety of US diplomats around the world is on the line
John Eustace retired from the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security in late July. On Target USA, he warns that unless the “leadership” wakes up, a tragedy like the one in Benghazi that left a U.S. ambassador and three others dead is going to happen. Money is the issue. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is being asked to trim its budget at the worst possible time. “The world is on fire,” Fred Burton, former deputy secretary for counterterrorism at the Diplomatic Security Service, told Target USA — and diplomats are the first line of defense.
Episode 78: Aug. 17, 2017 — US diplomats sickened, forced to leave Cuba after invisible attacker struck
“Official” Washington was rattled on Aug. 9 when news broke that U.S. diplomats in Havana had been sickened a mysterious illness that no one could put their finger on. It was so bad that several had to be sent home or reassigned. It had been going on for months. But no one had any answers until doctors determined they were likely suffering from some kind of ultrasonic device. It is a weapon that authorities struggled to define. CBS correspondent Steve Dorsey broke the story. He tells Target USA what he’s learned. Also, former State Department counterintelligence official Robert Booth tells us he believes he’s figured out what happened.
Episode 77: Aug. 10, 2017 — ‘Alarming rise’ in global crises triggers urgent action in the US intelligence community
The Defense Intelligence Agency is bracing and preparing for “alarming” global changes, which include more frequent and more destructive wars, increasingly damaging cyberattacks, progressively belligerent and hostile nation-states, more clever and deceptive terrorists, and natural disasters that dwarf the scale of those in previous years. This podcast, featuring Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, examines the agency’s plan to stay ahead of those threats.
Episode 76: Aug. 3, 2017 — Terrorism in 2017: New terrorism tactics, trends and threats
The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism has released its latest report on terrorism. The news is good and bad. Acting Coordinator Justin Siberell gave Target USA the most engaging and forthcoming assessment on terrorism to date. Islamic State group, al-Qaida, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations are using technology to elevate their aptitudes to plan and execute sophisticated attacks and, at the same time, incite sympathizers worldwide to support them. Siberell discusses, in depth, the report, examines state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, foreign terrorist organizations, and the global challenge of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear terrorism.
Episode 75: July 27, 2017 — North Korea will have a nuclear-capable ICBM within a year
The Defense Intelligence Agency has produced a new assessment that indicates the North Korean regime, led by Kim Jong Un, will have an intercontinental ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear weapon as early as 2018. Joby Warrick from The Washington Post, who broke the story, joins us with the details about what he and his team learned. Also, Ambassador Joe Detrani, the former U.S. Special Envoy on North Korea, joins us to put North Korea’s threat to the U.S. into context.
Episode 74: July 20, 2017 — Robert Young Pelton: The future of terrorism, private armies and tracking Joseph Kony
Robert Young Pelton’s book “Licensed to Kill” chronicled his time with a team of government-hired guns in the war on terror in 2003. Since then, he’s found himself at the heart of numerous major news events — from U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl’s walking away from his unit into captivity by the Taliban, to the migrant crisis, the IS group’s “caliphate” and notorious terrorist Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Pelton is a smart, well-connected individual who knows how to navigate the shadowy world of terrorism and is able to make sense of disparate details that even the authorities who should know, don’t. He talks to Target USA about IS group’s new “expansion” model.
Episode 73: July 13, 2017 — Is IS group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dead or alive? What’s next?
This week the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had confirmation that IS group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was dead. It never produced any proof, but it is the first “credible ” organization to go that far. On this program we examine what ‘s known about al-Baghdadi’s status, his elusiveness and what happens after he and his so-called caliphate pass from the scene. Brett Velicovich, who chased al-Baghdadi for years in the U.S. Army, and Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, join us on the program to break it all down.
Episode 72: July 6, 2017 — US Central Command facing tough challenges
Responsible for U.S. military activity in 20 countries, U.S. Central Command is faced with multiple difficult, generational challenges. The Taliban is surging in Afghanistan. The Islamic State group’s so-called “caliphate” is crumbling in Iraq and Syria. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) continues to make deceptively clever and elusive bombs, while engaged in a brutal fight to taken over Yemen. CENTCOM spokesman Col. John Thomas paints a stark picture for Target USA of the incredibly complex and dangerous challenges facing the U.S.
Episode 71: June 29, 2017 — Exclusive interview with National Counterterrorism Center Director Nick Rasmussen
If the momentum of the U.S.-led coalition is any indicator, the black flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) may be completely eradicated from Syria and Iraq in a matter of months. But Nick Rasmussen, the head of the National Counterterrorism Center, warns that the black cloud of IS group terrorism will not dissipate the day after the caliphate falls.
Episode 70: June 22, 2017 — Stopping the Taliban surge
Defense Secretary James Mattis said on June 13 that the Taliban is “surging.” What’s driving the resurgence and what will the U.S. strategy to fight the Taliban look like? We dig into those questions, plus we get a look at the state of IS and al-Qaida from Hans-Jakob Schindler on this week’s episode of Target USA.
Episode 69: June 15, 2017 — ISIS’ ‘caliphate’ crumbles
ISIS is running out of territory, money, fighters and time. Some experts fear the damage has already been done. However, on this episode of Target USA, Operation for Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon says, “There is absolutely nowhere that they can go. They have two choices: They can surrender or they can die.”
Episode 68: June 8, 2017 — Terror on London Bridge
This riveting episode features the tense moments during the attacks in London, analysis of what happened, what Europol’s European Counter Terrorism Centre’s chief is doing about it and the U.S. role in tackling a growing terrorism problem.
Episode 67: June 1, 2017 — Bugles Across America, making sure America’s fallen military personnel are treated with dignity
Often times, people who have lost their lives serving this country are laid to rest without a live rendition of taps. They end up with a prerecorded version. It was especially bad in the early-to-mid 2000s, when hundreds of deceased veterans came home from Iraq and Afghanistan during the height of those wars. Tom Day was offended, so he started Bugles Across America and began playing by himself at as many funerals as he could. The organization now has 5,000 buglers and a remarkable story. We present it here on Target USA.
Episode 66: May 25, 2017 — Terror in Manchester, England
The suicide bombing at pop star Ariana Grande’s concert on May 22 literally shook the ground all around Europe’s second largest indoor arena. But it also sent shockwaves around the world because the attack on a concert where very young children were attending left no doubt that terrorists today have no limits. On this program, we get the details about what happened. Philip Mudd, one of the world’s best counterterrorism analysts, puts the event in perspective. Also, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official tells us what we can expect in terms of security changes here in the U.S.
Episode 65: May 18, 2017— Growing fallout of Trump’s intel sharing with Russia
President Donald Trump’s decision to share classified intelligence with Russia sparked yet another media firestorm. It also created serious concerns for U.S. allies. Those concerns are critical to the war against terrorism. We dig into the fallout on this episode.
Episode 64: May 15, 2017 — The deepening mystery over Russia’s alleged meddling investigation
The firing of FBI director James Comey by President Donald Trump has intensified an already raging, powerful international drama playing out in Washington and Moscow. The U.S. Congress and the intelligence community are trying to get to the heart of a strange story that connects President Trump, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and a cast of Russian and American characters in a plot that some say rivals Watergate. On this episode of Target USA, J.J. Green connects the dots.
Episode 63: May 4, 2017 — US intelligence sees new threats as a result of Edward Snowden’s leaks
Bill Evanina is the national counterintelligence executive and director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. In an exclusive interview, he speaks candidly about the damage that Edward Snowden’s leaks of National Security Agency and other classified U.S. information continues to cause. From terrorists, to hostile nation-states, to hackers, Snowden’s guidance has shown them how to avoid being detected by the U.S. intelligence community, and that’s a serious threat to the nation and you.
Episode 62: April 27, 2017 — Former national security adviser Michael Flynn talks about Russia — an exclusive, never broadcast interview
In 2016, Mike Flynn burst on the national stage with his famous “lock her up” comments at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, in reference to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. He eventually became President Donald Trump’s national security adviser but was fired 24 days into the job after suspicions about his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russians came to light. Target USA digs deeper into who Flynn is, partly through a never-before broadcast interview from 2015 that sheds some light on his military career and his views on Russia.
Episode 61: April 20, 2017 — Tensions escalate with North Korea
The U.S. and North Korea, according to some observers, were on the brink of war on the weekend of April 15. Was it posturing? What’s at stake? What does this situation mean for those innocent people struggling to survive in North Korea? We’ll hear a gut-wrenching story from a young North Korean woman who knows what it’s like to suffer inside of North Korea. Also in this episode, two experts— Ambassador Joe Detrani, who is a former U.S. North Korea mission manager, and Greg Scarlatoiu, who is the executive director of The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea — discuss the prospect of war with North Korea and what Kim Jong Un’s main objective is.
Episode 60: April 13, 2017: Terror threats to US airports and cargo planes
Not only are terrorists trying to attack passenger planes, they’re targeting cargo planes and airports, too. On this program, we continue our discussion with former Transportation Security Administration administrator Peter Neffenger, who candidly talks about screening problems in airports. We also hear from Brandon Fried, executive director of the Air Forwarders Association. He said the printer cartridge plot by al-Qaida in 2010 opened everyone’s eyes — including other terrorists.
Episode 59: April 6, 2017 — Peter Neffenger, former head of TSA, bluntly describes terror threats to US aviation
After liquid and laptop bans were put in place on planes, a new twist on a very dangerous threat has emerged. Terrorists are competing for supremacy in aviation terror attacks. Whether it’s ISIS, AQAP or other up-and-coming terror groups, they all have master bomb makers and access to extensive knowledge bases that make the terrorist threat to airplanes — specifically those flying to the U.S. — more dangerous than ever. Peter Neffenger, former head of the Transportation Security Administration, tells Target USA that terrorist groups never sleep. There are more potential threats out there than ever before.
Episode 58: March 30, 2017 — Breaking down the impact it has on your data and your safety
There are no real boundaries in cyberspace. But the laws that govern it are limited. Joining Target USA to talk about the maddening difficulty of chasing criminals in cyberspace is Alexander Seger, who is the executive secretary of the Committee of the Parties to the Budapest and is the head of the Cybercrime Programme Office of the Council of Europe in Bucharest, Romania. Seger also explains why harassment and bullying are so prevalent.
Episode 57: March 23, 2017 — Robert Levinson disappeared 10 years ago in Iran. His family is turning up the heat to force his release.
In this episode, David Levinson — the second son of Robert Levinson and Christine Levinson — says his family is turning to President Donald Trump in what they believe is their best hope yet to bring Robert Levinson home. And they’ve also filed a lawsuit against Iran.
Episode 56: March 16, 2017 — Are the US and Russia headed toward nuclear missile mistake?
In this episode, Robert Berls, senior adviser at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, says the U.S. and Russia have not sat down and engaged comprehensively on nuclear weapons since the signing of a Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty in 2011. Berls said he is worried that the lack of dialogue could lead to a devastating mistake in this breathless age of terrorism and elevated threats from rogue governments.
Episode 55: March 9, 2017 – Terrorist training camps
In this week’s episode of Target USA, WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green looks at the impact of terrorist training camps. With three experts, we examine how the camps are set up, how spy agencies track their activities and the impact of terrorist training camps on broader populations in Europe. U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, Iraq; Pascal Legai, director of the European Union Satellite Center in Madrid, Spain; and Robin Simcox, Margaret Thatcher Fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., break down what has become a very serious, almost intractable problem.
Episode 54: March 2, 2017 — Russian trolls ‘harass’ American scholar after comments at conference
Annoyed by a Russian scholar’s derogatory comments during a security conference, David Pollock, a Kaufman Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, took the podium to set the record straight about the U.S. role in the war against terrorism. The stinging exchanges appeared to end with the conference, but when Pollock he returned home realized he’d been targeted for what he called “harassment.”
Episode 53: Feb. 23, 2017 – U.S.-Russia showdown in North Africa
In February, at a security conference in Morocco dealing with terrorism, a Russian scholar took to the podium and launched into a blistering critique of the U.S. war on terror, calling it a fiasco and blaming the U.S. for an increase in terrorism. The tirade upset some Americans in the audience, one of whom stood up and struck back. The episode was an unmistakable snapshot of the deteriorating nature of U.S.-Russian relations.
Episode 52: Feb. 16, 2017 – The Council of Europe’s Plan to Deal with Terrorism
Terror groups are utilizing gang tactics as they try to extend their influence, and prisons are a “hotbed” for recruiting. Kristian Bartholin, Deputy Head of Counter Terrorism at the Council of Europe, explains how ISIS is recruiting and surviving, and what must be done to stop them.
Episode 51: Feb. 9, 2017 – Why the US Might Lose the Messaging War with Terrorists
In this week’s Target USA, J.J. Green talks to Martha Crenshaw, Senior Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and co-author of the new book “Countering Terrorism.” Crenshaw says part of the country’s messaging problem is cumbersome U.S. bureaucracy, which is not agile enough to keep up with rapidly changing terrorist activity. She also says many American policy actions feed into the terrorist narrative “that the U.S. hates Muslims.”
Episode 50: Feb. 2, 2017 – Should the US Torture Terrorists?
The U.S. government is considering a return to torturing terrorists and using black sites abroad to house those operations. U.S. law says it is illegal, but some argue that terrorists do much worse. Former CIA analyst Philip Mudd explains why it’s not a good idea.
Episode 49: Jan. 26, 2017 – Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman – ISIL recruiting children in attempt to save group
There are 200,000 buildings in Mosul. ISIL fighters are using rooftops, internal spaces and subterranean elements of those buildings to launch attacks against Iraqi forces. U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, says the effort is designed to put off its inevitable defeat. But that’s only a part of the diabolical activity they are engaged in — they’re using children.
Episode 48: Jan. 19, 2017 – Inauguration Security: Unprecedented Threats
The Inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States may be a significant security challenge for the Secret Service and its partners. Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy sits down with Target USA to talk about the threats and what is being done to shut them down.
Episode 47: Jan. 12, 2017 – North Korea’s Threat to Test Launch an ICBM is ‘Credible’
The reclusive regime of Kim Jong Un is close to test-launching an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Multiple sources tell Target USA the KNO8, as it is known, can reach the whole of the United States. Our sources and many other credible international observers say North Korea already has nuclear weapons. So, the question is: how long before they are able to mate a missile with a miniaturized nuclear weapon?
Episode 46: Jan. 5, 2017 – The Terrorism Picture for 2017
The Berlin Christmas market attack and the Istanbul nightclub attack on New Year’s Eve have established that 2017 will be no less dangerous than the previous year. Dr. Tricia Bacon, a counterterrorism expert with American University in D.C., tells Target USA what we might expect in the year ahead.
Episode 45: Dec. 29, 2016 – The Best of Target USA 2016
Whether it was ISIL, Russia or North Korea, Target USA interviewed some of the most influential national security and international affairs figures from around the world about key issues in 2016. This week’s episode is a round-up of those conversations and more.
Episode 44: Dec. 22, 2016: Attack in Berlin and NATO’s plans
On Dec. 19, a large truck plowed into a Christmas market in Berlin. At the time, German journalist Marc Etzold was at the movies with his mobile phone offline. When he emerged from the cinema, he – like many in Germany and around the world – was stunned by the attack. Twelve people were killed and 48 wounded, 30 of them seriously. ISIL claimed responsibility. Etzold shares his story with Target USA. Meanwhile, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is watching the evolution of terror groups very carefully, as it prepares to deal more effectively with it. Also on this episode of Target USA, we hear from Manfred Nielson, deputy supreme allied commander of NATO ACT, and Lt. Col. Andrew Atkinson, also of NATO ACT, about how NATO will adjust.
Episode 43: Dec. 15, 2016 – ISIL 2.0: Coming soon
ISIL is under pressure all around the world, but former CIA counterterrorism executive Phil Mudd says the group is re-inventing itself, and the threat of attack could be greater than ever before. He warns that the group is headed to ungoverned or weakly-governed spaces in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Mudd says one of the biggest enablers of the threat is irresponsible Western media activity. In the meantime, a U.S. precision airstrike conducted on Dec. 4 in Raqqa, Syria, resulted in the deaths of three ISIL leaders directly involved in facilitating external terror operations and recruiting foreign fighters. Two of those targeted — Salah Gourmat and Sammy Djedou — were involved in facilitating the Nov. 13, 2015, terrorist attacks in Paris.
Episode 42: Dec. 8, 2016 – Russia secretly targets the U.S.
Russia has made it very clear since the fall of the USSR that it would get revenge against the West and the U.S. for what happened. For years, many U.S. officials have said the Cold War is over. However, in Sofia, Bulgaria, in mid-November 2016, during a NATO conference, David Kilcullen, Lt. Col. in the Australian military (RES), former chief strategist in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department and senior counter-insurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus in 2007 and 2008, laid out why the Russian government thinks the Cold War never ended and, through a series of secret operations, they may have the upper hand on the U.S. now.
Episode 41: Dec. 1, 2016 – NATO: Confronting the Future
Since its inception in 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has helped member countries rest easy in the face of threats. But with the resurgence of Russian aggression, hybrid warfare, cyber warfare and many other global threats, NATO’s leaders are doubling down on their mission. Admiral Manfred Nielson, NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, joins Target USA to talk about the threats, challenges, vision and security reality for NATO and the world.
Episode 40: Nov. 24, 2016 – Escape from North Korea: The Dramatic Story of Grace Jo
We often hear about the harsh life North Koreans live under the Kim regime, from Kim Il Sung, to Kim Jong Il and now Kim Jong Un. It’s the most reclusive and closed off country on the planet. Close to 25 million people live there; many have little or no food, no money, no water, no firewood to keep warm in winter and no way to get any of it. On this episode of Target USA, you’ll hear the raw story of Grace Jo, who was one of those people. By the time she was 15, she had tried to escape three times – failing each time, until she got help from an unlikely source.
Episode 39: Nov. 17, 2016 – President-Elect Trump and the Intelligence Community
During a raucous presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, in October, then-candidate Donald Trump indicated he had doubts about the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia was behind many of the cyberattacks that they believed were launched to interfere with the election. Many in the intelligence community were upset about that, but now, former CIA Director Michael Hayden says the time has come to mend fences. He talks to Target USA about what needs to happen.
Episode 38: Nov. 10, 2016 – The Fight for Mosul
Two years after ISIL — or D’aesh, as Iraqis call it — blasted into power; stealing hundreds of millions of dollars; taking over the country’s second largest city; killing tens of thousands of people and injecting fear into the fabric of a country still traumatized after al-Qaida’s reign in the 2000s, the U.S. is leading an effort to end the nightmare. But while this is going on, there is no Iraqi ambassador serving in the United States. The most recent, former Ambassador Lukman Faily, joins Target USA to explain why and how the U.S. bears part of the blame for Iraq’s current problem with ISIL.
Episode 37: Nov. 3, 2016 – The Rise of Female Terrorists
Female terrorists are not a new idea, but the Islamic State terror group has initiated a dramatic increase in their numbers. Irfan Saeed, Director of the State Department’s Countering Violent Extremism Office, Tara Maller, Spokesperson & Senior Policy Adviser at the Counter Extremism Project, and Ed Gabriel, Chairman of the Moroccan American Center, explain what’s driving recruitment of female terrorists, why they’re choosing to do it and what’s being done to counter it.
Episode 36: Oct. 27, 2016 – The Epic Battle for Mosul
An apocalyptic scene is unfolding in Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. Large sulfur fires and huge pits of oil are burning. Buildings are booby trapped, hundreds of suicide bombers are on the loose. Hundreds of thousands of people in Mosul may be displaced and many run the risk of being used as human shields as ISIL fighters try to repel Iraqi forces. Those forces are leading the charge to retake Mosul. Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, discusses the threat, the attack plan, the status of Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and U.S. involvement in the fight.
Episode 35: Oct. 20, 2016 – Understanding How Terrorists Use Social Media
Seamus Hughes is among a growing number of terrorism experts that have realized today’s terrorists are far more savvy at using social media to support their activities than counter-terrorism authorities are at using social media to disrupt them. He lays out the problem in captivating detail and delivers a potential solution.
Episode 34: Oct. 13, 2016 – Running Out of Time to Stop N. Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) recently published a report about a grave, worsening global threat – the North Korean nuclear and missile programs. The bottom line: North Korea is rapidly becoming an existential threat to the U.S., and leaders can no longer wait for North Korea to meet conditions of sanctions designed to stop their nuclear program. On this episode of Target USA, former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, CFR Project Director Adam Mount and former U.S. North Korea Mission manager Joseph DeTrani outline in detail the gravity of situation that worsens with each month.
Episode 33: Oct. 6, 2016 — She Saw Something, So She Said Something
The Department of Homeland Security campaign urging people to report suspicious activities and packages really does work. Jane Schreibman, who discovered a bomb in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood on Sept. 17, probably saved a lot of lives because something about a pressure cooker sitting on a street bugged her. She tells Target USA the “See Something, Say Something” campaign slogan stuck in her head, and drove her to report what she saw.
Episode 32: Sept. 29, 2016 – Online and Undercover: The FBI Chasing Terrorists in Cyberspace
Paul Abbate, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office (WFO), is losing a lot of sleep over what he’s seeing now. In the last two years, 15 terrorism cases have been brought in the National Capitol Region, according to U.S. Department of Justice officials. There have been at least seven cases this year: a college student, a former transit police officer, a former National Guard member, a young mother with a 7-year-old child, and a man who made it all the way to Syria and actually fought with ISIL. All are part of a growing terrorism threat that seems to cut across gender, demographics and social status in the D.C. area. The common denominator for all of them is online activity. Abbate discusses the threat and the plan to neutralize it.
Episode 31: Sept. 22, 2016 – Fragile, Ambitious and Nuclear
There is a laundry list of threats facing the U.S. Some are more urgent than others. In this episode of Target USA, two of the most trusted former intelligence officials in Washington lay out the problems — from North Korea to China to Russia to terrorism — and tell us how they should be dealt with.
Episode 30: Sept. 15, 2016 – The Terrorism Loophole in the U.S. Postal Service
The gut-wrenching events of the September 11 attacks triggered an unprecedented effort to insulate the U.S. homeland from foreign terrorists and prevent attacks like those from ever happening again. The Department of Homeland Security was set up, strict anti-terrorism laws were passed and immigration gaps were closed. All of the weak links in the nation’s security chain were tightened – except for one big one. Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, a Republican, and Juliette Kayyem, a Democrat and former assistant secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs in the Department of Homeland Security, have joined together in a new national security project called Americans for Securing All Packages (ASAP). They explain what the problem is.
Episode 29: Sept. 8, 2016 – Terrorism is Being Crowdsourced
On this episode of Target USA, former CIA Director Michael Hayden explains why the problem of finding terrorists is getting worse in the United States. In the 2000s, Hayden says the U.S. intelligence community essentially knew what the terrorists were going to do before they did. This is a new day in the counterterrorism world. Terrorists have a distinct advantage, thanks to NSA leaker Edward Snowden. But Hayden says there is a way to win the battle.
Episode 28: Sept. 1, 2016 – ISIL Suffers a Near Fatal Blow
Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, architect of ISIL’s external operations and its spokesman, was killed in a U.S. airstrike on Aug. 30. His death represents the biggest setback to the organization since it launched its murderous rampage in June 2014. U.S. military officials tell Target USA that ISIL is losing money, territory, fighters and of course leaders, and the U.S.-led coalition is preparing for two epic battles in Mosul and Raqqa that would end ISIL as we know it. In this episode, the head of U.S. Central Command Gen. Joseph Votel tells Target USA, “We’re now into the heart of the caliphate.” He and other U.S. military officials reveal details that make it clear ISIL is preparing for an apocalyptic, end of days fight.
Episode 27: Aug. 25, 2016 – DC Cops are Targets
You’ve no doubt heard about the attacks on police and other law enforcement officers across the country. What seems like a wave of police-related killings has swept the nation, and as D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier prepares to step down and become the NFL’s top security official, she worries that the constant negative narratives saturating U.S. society will draw out more threats. Lanier tells Target USA what she’s trying to do prepare officers for what may be ahead.
Episode 26: Aug. 18, 2016 – New Intelligence Warns: DC Targets Top Terrorists’ Lists
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier sits down with Target USA to talk about the serious and growing terror threats. She details what’s being done to prepare for and neutralize the threats.
Episode 25: Aug. 11, 2016 – A Warning for ISIL after the Yazidi Genocide
Two years after the genocide, the region is still blanketed with millions of shattered and interrupted lives. One of those lives belongs to Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government to the U.S. She tells her emotional story to J.J. Green and sends a strong message to Da’esh.
Episode 24: Aug. 4, 2016 – The Sinjar Massacre – Two Years Later
Two years after 5,000 Yazidi men were killed and more than 5,000 women and children were kidnapped and turned into sex slaves during a genocidal bloodbath carried out by ISIL in Northern Iraq, many are still unaccounted for, and 3,200 women and children are still in the hands of ISIL. What’s been done to stop the carnage and help the victims? David Saperstein, U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, explains on Target USA.
Episode 23: July 28, 2016 – “Blame and Claim” Terror Cycle Drives New Attacks
What’s behind ISIL’s wave of attacks in Europe? Is the U.S. next? The attacks are mostly conducted by radicalized individuals. Where are they finding these people? Why is ISIL’s call being answered by so many people that are not followers of their ideology? How is it the media is actually driving ISIL’s success? What is the one question we should ask before calling an attack terrorism? We discuss this and more on this week’s program with former CIA and FBI executive Philip Mudd and Robin Simcox, Margaret Thatcher Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Episode 22: July 21, 2016 – Police in the U.S. Under Fire
As of July 20, 31 law enforcement officers have been shot to death in the U.S. this year, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. That’s a 72 percent increase over last year at this time. Former policeman and top State Department Counterterrorism agent Fred Burton says history may be repeating itself; but history may be the answer to a looming crisis.
Episode 21: July 14, 2016 – Secret Service Prepares for Trouble at Political Conventions
The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign has been a tense and sometimes dangerous string of events. On June 18, the Secret Service and Las Vegas police thwarted an attempt to assassinate Donald Trump. The Secret Service is bracing for the possibility of other attempts that may take place against a range of targets at the political conventions and beyond. In an exclusive interview, Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy tells Target USA, “We’ve had over 1,200 events in this campaign, 2.5 million people have gone through magnetometers,” and each event is the potential for something to go wrong.
Episode 20: July 7, 2016 – Security Implications of Brexit
David O’Sullivan, European Union Ambassador to the U.S., says Britain’s exit from the EU will complicate the fight against terrorism. Patrick Skinner, a former CIA case officer, tells Target USA why this is the worst possible time for the exit to happen.
Episode 19: June 30, 2016 – The Blueprint for Defeating ISIL
Former FBI agent and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers says, “Al Qaida got the snot kicked out of ‘em,” and ISIL needs to get the same treatment. But, he says, it’s not happening. In this episode of Target USA, he details what exactly needs to be done to neutralize the Islamic State group. Not only has ISIL demonstrated great skill at plotting terror attacks, but it’s also very good at inspiring lone wolves to launch attacks that are just as deadly.
Episode 18: June 23, 2016 – A Terrorism Wake-Up Call for the U.S.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12 reflects a new direction for terror attacks on the U.S. Former House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers says the attack was done exactly as ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi wanted it. He warns Americans need to wake up and make some changes before the next one comes along.
Episode 17: June 20, 2016 – Orlando Massacre: An Interview with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson
On Sunday morning, June 12, a delegation of Department of Homeland Security staffers and other U.S. government officials were waiting at Joint Base Andrews for Secretary Jeh Johnson, for a trip to China. But he never showed. The Orlando night club massacre had not only shocked the U.S. population and set off fear and uncertainty about terrorists possibly in our midst, but U.S. officials were scrambling as well to figure out what was going on. Secretary Johnson sat down with Target USA to explain what happened in Orlando and what’s next for U.S. homeland security.
Episode 16: June 16, 2016 – Quiet Killer: Secrets of a U.S. Military Drone Pilot
The U.S. has launched more than 400 drone strikes since 2004. More than 3,100 people have been killed – most of them terrorists. The U.S. military announced more than 120 ISIL leaders, operatives and other so-called, high-value individuals have been killed so far in 2016. Rarely do U.S. officials talk about the program, but the man who commanded some of the most high-profile operations is talking to WTOP. T. Mark McCurley, a retired Lt. Colonel in the US Air Force, commanded the mission that killed Anwar al Awlaki, the former leader of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. He’s even stared right into the eyes of a terrorist, through the camera of a drone, before a Hellfire missile turned out the lights for that terrorist.
Episode 15: June 9, 2016 – Trouble in the Skies Part 2
What would happen if a person walked into a U.S. airport strapped with explosives? Would there be time to stop what would be almost certain death and destruction? WTOP National Security Correspondent JJ Green put that question, called “The Scenario” in inner circles, to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger.
Episode 14: June 2, 2016 – Trouble in the Skies Part 1
A half dozen aviation incidents in the last year, bribes of airport security personnel overseas and long security screening lines in the U.S. are keeping Transportation Security Administration Chief Peter Neffenger up at night. But when he sat down with WTOP National Security Correspondent JJ Green for an extended interview, Neffenger told JJ exactly how he plans to keep U.S. airports and travelers safe.
Episode 13: May 26, 2016 – Eyewitness to an Airport Bribe
It happened on February 14, 2016 in Casablanca, Morocco. A strange sequence of events began unfolding in the early morning hours and spanned two airports and hundreds of miles, linked by a solitary transaction that took less than 30 seconds.
The impact of that transaction may never be known, but without a doubt just the existence of the practice is wreaking havoc on aviation security around the world.
Episode 12: May 19, 2016 – U.S. Government Officials Hacked
Millions of American citizens, dozens of U.S. companies and even top intelligence officials are victims of aggressive cyber intrusions. Target USA has learned that foreign intelligence agencies, cyber criminals and terrorists are robbing the U.S. blind – taking everything from large sums of money to ideas. Bill Evanina, Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC), says 90 percent of the intrusions originate with spear phishing emails and more than 50 percent of the attacks originate in China. He says U.S. security, national secrets and your bank account are all at risk.
Episode 11: May 12, 2016 – Tunisia Asks for US Help to Fight ISIL
Faycal Gouia, Tunisia’s Ambassador to the US, tells Target USA that Tunisia has built a 100-mile wall along its border with Libya. It’s also installing a sophisticated, partially U.S.-funded surveillance system to keep terrorists out. Robert Baer, a former CIA covert operative, who is very familiar with those borders, tells Target USA he’s not sure that’s enough.
Episode 10: May 5, 2016 – US Facing Urgent Challenges and Unprecedented Threats
David Cohen, the deputy director of the CIA, says his agency “is working day and night to understand how ISIL’s external operations network operates: who’s involved, where they are, how they operate and how we can disrupt their operations.” At the same time, the agency, which calls itself the “nation’s first line of defense,” is being stretched by other threats that are bigger, stronger, faster and smarter than any others they’ve ever seen.
Episode 9: Apr. 27, 2016 – Terrorists in Possession of NSA Secrets and Taking Action
The information that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and others leaked has created what a top U.S. intelligence official calls a “virtual university” for terrorists, spies, hackers, smugglers and many others seeking to attack or exploit the U.S. Rick Ledgett, deputy director of the NSA, says those nefarious people and the organizations they represent have made adjustments “in order to avoid being detected by NSA.” Ledgett said Snowden’s leaks alone caused “significant” risk to the safety of Americans everywhere.
Episode 8: Apr. 21, 2016 – Belgium Pushes Back After Terror Attack
Thirty two people were killed in Brussels on March 22, 2016. Four Americans were among the dead. Belgian officials say they knew something was coming, but couldn’t pinpoint when. For that and other shortcomings, they’ve been heavily criticized in the press and by intelligence experts. But, on this program, Belgium’s Ambassador to the U.S. Johan Verbeke gives Target USA a detailed explanation for how the attacks happened and why intelligence missed the attackers. He makes no excuses but he strongly pushes back against allegations intelligence mistakes led to the attacks.
Episode 7: Apr. 14, 2016 – The Eye of the Terrorism Storm
Europe has been in the eye of a terrorism storm that many say is just beginning. The Islamic State group has launched sophisticated attacks in Paris and Belgium already and is threatening more. Trying to figure out what’s next has pushed Europe’s intelligence services to extremes they’ve not been faced with in more than a decade. The man leading the charge for the European Union, Rob Wainwright, breaks down the strategy.
Episode 6: Apr. 7, 2016 – How many Americans are fighting for ISIL?
The world has been preoccupied with the size of the so called Islamic State terror organization since it sprang up in 2014. But for all of that preoccupation, there has been precious little certainty about just how big ISIL is, who’s actually on the ground fighting and how it all impacts U.S. national security. In part two of our exclusive interview, National Counterterrorism Director Nicholas Rasmussen breaks down the composition of ISIL, including participation by Americans.
Episode 5: Mar. 31, 2016 – Growing Number of Terrorists
The growing number of stealthy terrorists roaming the planet keeps the director of the National Counterterrorism Center up at night. In part one of an exclusive interview, Nicholas Rasmussen says the agency is stretched more “thinly now than they were five or six years ago.” He says it’s impossible to keep up with every terrorist and he outlines the main challenge that ISIL poses in the aftermath of major terror attacks in Europe and the U.S.
Episode 4: Mar. 24, 2016 – ISIS Attacks in Brussels
The surprise attack by ISIS in Brussels stunned the world and demonstrated how hard it is to stop the terror group. As a result, the FBI and other U.S. intelligence officials are redoubling efforts to make sure security is air tight – especially in Washington, D.C.
Episode 3: Mar. 17, 2016 – The North Korean Threat
A chilling examination of the North Korean regime and what’s at stake for the U.S. Former Ambassador Joseph Detrani sat across the table from North Korea trying to talk the country down from its nuclear program. He tells host J.J. Green why North Korea is such a big threat to the region and the U.S.
Episode 2: Mar. 10, 2016 – Russia Re-Emerges
Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper says in an exclusive interview that he is concerned with Russia’s renewed aggressiveness toward the United States. And, he says, the situation is getting more alarming.
Episode 1: Mar. 3, 2016 – Dark Threats
Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper opens up in an exclusive interview about the dark threats and dangerous enemies the U.S. faces. Clapper breaks down in vivid detail the sophisticated nature of the groups and nation-states that want to attack.
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