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The Intercept: A Terrorism Expert’s Secret Relationship with the FBI

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Trevor Aaronson, The Intercept

Evan Kohlmann is the U.S. government’s go-to expert witness in terrorism prosecutions. Since 2004, Kohlmann has been asked to testify as an expert about terrorist organizations, radicalization and homegrown threats in more than 30 trials.

It’s well-paying work — as much as $400 per hour. In all, the U.S. government has paid Kohlmann and his company at least $1.4 million for testifying in trials around the country, assisting with FBI investigations and consulting with agencies ranging from the Defense Department to the Internal Revenue Service.  He has also received another benefit, Uncle Sam’s mark of credibility, which has allowed him to work for NBC News and its cable sibling, MSNBC, for more than a decade as an on-air “terrorism analyst.”

Kohlmann’s claimed expertise is his ability to explore the dark corners of the Internet — the so-called deep web, which isn’t indexed by commercial search engines — and monitor what the Islamic State, al Qaeda and their sympathizers are saying, as well as network the relationships among these various actors. Kohlmann doesn’t speak Arabic, however, and aside from a few days each in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Dubai and Qatar, has hardly any experience in the Arab world. Kohlmann’s research is gleaned primarily from the Internet.

Indeed, Kohlmann is not a traditional expert. Much of his research is not peer-reviewed. Kohlmann’s key theory, to which he has testified several times on the witness stand, involves a series of indicators that he claims determine whether someone is likely a homegrown terrorist. Yet he has never tested the theory against a randomly selected control group to account for bias or coincidence.

For these and other reasons, Kohlmann’s critics describe him as a huckster.

Kohlmann’s works are “so biased, one-sided and contextually inaccurate that they do not provide a fair and balanced context for the specific evidence to be presented at a legal hearing,” said one terrorism researcher.

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  • Jkelly

    Ha Ha Ha Ha. The name of his site fits its authors and readers well.. Liberal unthinking for yourself loons on this site. Good for a laugh.. When push comes to shove ya all better hunt for a Koran to protect yourself..

  • 786
    No..no.
    Don’t do it, dude, I urge you. You underestimate the degree to which the loons are insulated from reality and overestimate the reliability of your source here. Those lackwits. Many of the links don’t go to a relevant news story at all. Even several shootings in a night by unknown perps are listed as “mass shootings.” Also, drive-by, not the same. Not yesterday and not today. Will not register with loons.
    Most egregiously, however, is the fact that the VAST majority of “incidents” listed on that site were perpetrated by unknown shooters. If you trot out that list, or one based on it, the loons will immediately–IMMEDIATELY–say that Muslims must be the ones who committed most, if not all, of the mass shootings whose perpetrator is listed as “Unknown.” It will fit perfectly with their reality.
    I’m all for obtaining additional sources of information. But let’s not grab the hand that’s going to push our head underwater.

  • JD

    Not Muslim, Not News: FBI: Men Arrested For Making Explosives To Resist Government

    http://www.wccbcharlotte.com/news/crime/FBI-Men-Arrested-For-Making-Explosives-To-Resist-Government-320513112.html

    CHARLOTTE, NC — The FBI has reportedly arrested three men on violations of federal weapons laws Saturday.

    Reports say that law inforcement received tips that Walter Litteral,
    50, Christopher Barker, 41 and Christopher Campbell, 30, were attempting
    to manufacture explosive or destructive devices.

    Law enforcement were reportedly told the men were reconstructing live
    grenades from “dummy grenades” sold as military artifacts at stores.

    Authorities believe the men were preparing for the possibility that
    the government intended to use armed forces to impose martial law, which
    they planned to resist.

    The FBI also reportedly became aware that the men wanted to manufacture pipe bombs.

    Other defensive items were said to be purchased from stores,
    including a .338 caliber rifle, hand-held radios with throat microphones
    for communication, military issue Kevlar helmets, body armor vests and
    balaclavas (a form of cloth headgear designed to expose only parts of
    the face).

    The three men are facing charges of conspiracy to violate laws
    governing firearms and explosives. Campbell was also charged with
    receiving, possessing and making firearms.

  • JD

    Anti-Muslim Europe: Finns Would Rather Live Next To Alcoholic Rehab Center Than A

    Mosque, Poll Shows

    http://www.ibtimes.com/anti-muslim-europe-finns-would-rather-live-next-alcoholic-rehab-center-mosque-poll-2037679

    People from Finland would prefer to live next to a rehabilitation center for alcoholics than a mosque,
    a poll reported Tuesday. The poll, conducted by the Finnish policy
    research center Taloustutkimus and commissioned by the Finnish news
    service Yle, reported that only 37 percent of respondents would be
    willing to live near a mosque.

    The survey was commissioned to probe “Nimbyism,” which
    stands for “Not In My Back Yard,” according to Yle, and all of the
    questions were related to neighborhood changes in service or community
    centers of some kind. Of the types of changes proposed — a mosque, an
    alcoholic rehabilitation center, a mental hospital — the only one that
    was less popular than a mosque was a needle exchange center for drug
    addicts, with only 27 percent of Finns polled being amenable to such a
    change.

    Anti-Muslim sentiment has been on the rise across Europe for
    several years. Due to mounting violence in the Middle East by the
    Islamic State group, as well as certain Islamist-motivated attacks in
    Europe, including the massacre in Paris in January that claimed the
    lives of 12 cartoonists at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, many
    European residents have begun supporting anti-Muslim viewpoints.

  • mindy1

    Seems like I should quit lab work and become a terror “expert” I would be a millionaire in no time. Good lord do these people have any integrity at all?

  • JD

    Muslims, Mass Shootings and the Media

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-james-clark/muslims-mass-shootings-an_b_7874634.html

    The most up to date tally of mass shootings in the U.S.
    shows that there have been 207 mass shootings in 2015 so far (where
    “mass shooting” is defined as four or more people shot in one incident).
    Shooting Tracker, “the world’s only crowd sourced mass shooting
    tracker,” provides the best record of these atrocities. While aimed at
    the U.S.’s overly generous gun policies, the site is revealing in at
    least one other regard: of the 207 mass shootings so far this year,
    precisely 1 (the July 16, 2015 Chattanooga murders) was committed by a Muslim.
    The other 206? It’s hard to tell because many suspects have not been
    identified. But, and here’s the point, they are not identifiably Muslim
    and Islamic terrorism was not identifiably the motive.

    Caveat: these statistics omit the May 3, 2015 Garland, TX shooting because it was not, by definition, a mass shooting (the only casualties were the two Muslim perpetrators).

    Beginning
    with the links provided by Shooting Tracker, my analysis of the media
    coverage related to each mass shooting revealed a pattern. For every
    non-Muslim shooting suspect, the media never mentioned their religion.
    Moreover, in nearly every case, it was claimed that the mass shooters
    were suffering from some sort of mental instability. These suspects were
    often ostracized from both society and family, deeply depressed and
    suicidal. People thusly afflicted, given easy access to guns, sometimes
    kill people, lots of them. Then they either turn the gun on themselves
    or perish in a hail of anticipated bullets. Crazy, right?

    Yet the
    media immediately identified the motivation of Mohammad Youssef
    Abdulazeez when he recently killed five U.S. soldiers in Chattanooga:
    radical Islam. Unlike the preceding 206 mass shooters, his religion was
    not ignored; his religion was the only thing that mattered.

    Reports have emerged,
    however, that Abdulazeez was a drug and alcohol abuser with a history
    of mental illness. He was ostracized from his family and friends; a
    loner with little hope. Probably suicidal. But, based on exactly two
    ambiguous blogposts, Abdulazeez has been repeatedly called “a devout
    Muslim” and his shootings a terrorist act. He wasn’t crazy, we are
    assured, he was a Muslim. Honestly, though, a devout Muslim? Hardly.
    Terrorist? Who knows? He died before anyone could question him.One
    of those who “knows” not only Abdulazeez’s inner thoughts but also (as
    one might expect) Obama’s complicity is Tomi Lahren, host of One America
    News Network’s On Point. In a viral video, she proclaims, evidence to
    the contrary: “This is not a criminal act with motives unknown. This is
    terrorism. The suspected shooter, Muhammad Abdulazeez, a devout Muslim.”
    She goes on to tar all Muslims with radicalism: “radical Islam is
    becoming the rule, not the exception” and “yesterday’s moderate is
    today’s terrorist.

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