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Thursday, 29 October 2015

Wanted dead or alive: The U.S. is still hunting down 16,000 dead 'terrorists'


Over 16,000 purported terrorists who are either "confirmed" or "reportedly" dead are included in various US 'terror' lists, a recently-leaked US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document marked "for official use only" reveals.

According to an assessment that was prepared by the DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis in August 2015, US agencies can't properly trace or detect suspected terrorists. This is due to the breakdown of the so-called "watchlist" system which the US government had implemented, the popular whistleblower website The Intercept, which obtained that document, reported.

"A significant number of 'dead' and 'reportedly dead' KSTs [known or suspected terrorists] cannot be placed on the No Fly List, because of insufficient biographic information needed to deny boarding to them," The Intercept quoted the Office of Intelligence and Analysis as saying.

Another expert, Hina Shamsi, the director of the American Civil Liberty Union's National Security Project, outlined that not only dead suspects get wrongfully included in the lists; they also contain the names of people who are alive and sometimes innocent. She pointed out that detecting suspects using a 'no-fly list' usually leads to the "most draconian consequences" for unjustly convicted individuals.

"There is no meaningful way to challenge wrongful inclusion and correct government error," she said.

The other obstacle is that many of the watch lists compiled by different agencies appear to partly overlap, which leads the US authorities to make more and more mistakes when searching for terrorists, the media outlet noted. For instance, the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), State Department and FBI all have separate databases containing intelligence on suspected terrorists.

What's more, the DHS's document reads that those agencies also have different approaches to dealing with the term 'death'. In practice, this leads to various possibilities for the interpretation of different lists. For example, the paper said that about 20 percent of those 'confirmed dead' in NCTC's Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment list are marked as 'remain watchlisted' in the FBI's Terrorist Screening Database. When it comes to 'reportedly dead' terrorists, the figures are almost the same - roughly 20 percent of them are being searched for via the no-fly list. 

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