Julie Stalmer 6:30 p.m., July 23
SDPD Intelligence Hires ex-CIA Agent, Targets Somali Community
San Diego's growing community of Somali refugees and its alleged links to Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin, a revolutionary group said by some U.S. intelligence officials to have ties to Al Qaeda, has become a prime target of the San Diego Police Department's division of Criminal Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, according to a paper co-authored by unit commanding officer Andrew G. Mills and released Monday by the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute.
The institute's briefing paper also reveals that the department has contracted with Jim Roth of Herndon, Virginia's Langley Group, "a former CIA officer with considerable expertise in establishing intelligence collection plans" to expand its surveillance and intelligence program.
"Beginning in 2009, the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) undertook a bold attempt to evaluate and then adjust the processes by which SDPD conceptualized, collected, analyzed, and acted upon counterterrorism-relevant information," according to the paper, co-written with Joseph R. Clark, a policy analyst with the policy institute.
"Al-Shabaab emerged as one of the most significant domains identified by the SDPD’s new threat picture.
"San Diego is home to a large Somali population, and is a primary point of entry for Somalis claiming asylum.
"As noted above, [SDPD's Criminal Intelligence Unit's] work to establish intelligence priorities and a collection plan to meet this domain began with the writing of a thorough report about what was known about the local Somali diaspora.
"Identified gaps concerning the al-Shabaab threat domain were distributed as SINs [Standing Information Needs] to field forces for collection opportunities.
Al-Shabaab-specific SINs gave San Diego’s police officers an understanding of what to collect against with their limited time and resources.
"In addition, the Terrorism Liaison Officers (TLO) from each command were called together for a meeting and given the identified priorities with a background on the al-Shabaab domain.
The paper says a main target of the intelligence operation has been a street gang, the African Mafia Crips:
"Within a week, officers examined several phones of AMC gang members. The phones yielded a treasure trove of intelligence. From the information gathered, CIU learned the number of al-Shabaab sympathizers in AMC.
"It also gathered information about the suspects’ phone numbers, Facebook pages, relationships with each other — and the fact that the al-Shabaab sympathizers were weaponized."
"Several gang members had al-Shabaab flags on their phones and used a common phrase when text messaging — “black and white forever.” That phrase was peculiar because AMC gang colors were traditional Crip blue; the al- Shabaab flag features white Islamic script on a black background.
"The RFI [Requests for Information] helped map out the relationships and potential for exploitable vulnerabilities that existed between AMC and al-Shabaab."
According to the paper, San Diego police plan to use former CIA agent Roth in a variety of roles, including training the department's anti-terrorism force in surveillance and intelligence work, including.
"…the general principles of battlefield HUMINT [Human Intelligence].
"Furthermore, SDPD intel analysts are being trained in Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), Financial Intelligence (FININT), Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT), Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT) and Technical Intelligence (TECHINT); and the department is working to maintain close relationships with other agencies (thanks to the San Diego FIG, [FBI Field Intelligence Group] one SDPD detective was given a spot in the FBI’s Domestic Human Intelligence Collection class)."