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Tamannaah's first release of 2010 was N. Linguswamy's Paiyaa, co-starring Karthi, which was a Tamil road movie. The film opened to positive reviews from critics and was a commercial success. She earned a nomination each at the 58th Filmfare Awards South and 5th Vijay Awards in the Best Tamil Actress category. Her other two releases of 2010 were S. P. Rajkumar's Sura, co-starring Vijay and M. Raja's Thillalangadi, co-starring Jayam Ravi, the former being Vijay's 50th film as an actor and the latter being the official remake of Surender Reddy's Kick (2009). Both the films flopped at the box office.
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N.C. Man Tied To Jihad Magazine Faces Charges. A federal grand jury in Charlotte, N.C., convened to consider evidence against Samir Khan, a 24-year-old North Carolina man who is thought to be the editor of Inspire, a new al-Qaida online magazine. The 67-page publication created a frisson through the U.S. intelligence community earlier this summer because of how very American it seemed to be. It was written in colloquial English. It had jazzy headlines and articles that made the publication sound like a kind of Cosmopolitan for Jihadis. "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," read one headline. Unsure what to pack when you leave for jihad? The magazine helpfully provided a list. Officials became convinced that it was Khan's work, and now they want to hold him accountable for it. Late last summer, Khan began telling people at a local mosque that he intended to go to Yemen. "He told me he had the prospect of going to Yemen to teach English at a university there while simultaneously learning Arabic," said Adam Azad, who attended the same mosque and had known Khan. "He was more of an acquaintance than a friend and I didn't think anything of it when he said he was going there." Muslims in Charlotte are careful when they talk about Khan. That's because over the past several weeks FBI agents have been showing up on doorsteps all over town asking questions. Six young men from the Charlotte area told NPR that agents interviewed them, and several of them received grand jury subpoenas. They say there are others in the crosshairs, too. It all appears to be a part of the case the FBI is building against Khan. Among the questions asked: whether Khan ever mentioned going to Yemen so he could join a terrorist group and target Americans. "They were asking for more information than would be reasonable for anyone to know about this guy," Azad said. "First of all, if Samir was going to go overseas to harm Americans overseas, he certainly wouldn't make those intentions public." Sources close to the case tell NPR the grand jury convened Tuesday to see if there was evidence enough to charge Khan with terrorism offenses. Among the charges people close to the case said the grand jury is considering: material support to a terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit murder overseas. The FBI, for its part, declined to confirm or deny there is an investigation. And the grand jury is unlikely to come out with any decision in the case for weeks. Grand jury deliberations are secret until indictments are announced. Khan first came to the attention of U.S. law enforcement as a blogger. For years, he ran "Inshallah Shaheed" - or "a martyr soon, if it is God's will" - a pro-al-Qaida website, out of his parents' basement. It praised Osama bin Laden. It provided links to violent jihadi videos and footage of U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan. He helped his followers find violent productions of Islamic groups on the Web, all the while staying on the right side of this country's First Amendment protections. The content of Khan's blog clearly rattled local Muslims. "Samir was more infamous than famous in the Muslim community," Azad said. "People didn't really follow all the stuff he was putting up on the website but I just remember people saying, 'Oh my God, I can't believe he has that on his blog.'" People in the Charlotte Muslim community who did not want to be quoted for fear of attracting the attention of the FBI said that they were curious about the blog but had been told by mosque elders and their parents to stay away from it. They didn't want law enforcement officials tracking their computers if they logged on and looked at the site. "Samir had very few friends around here, maybe one or two friends," says Jamil Hough, a spokesman for the Islamic Center in Charlotte. "So it wasn't as if he had a following here locally. The consensus here was that he was clearly going down the wrong path. And we tried to talk to him about that." There were two meetings at Hough's Charlotte home with Khan, his father and a circle of elders in the Muslim community in late 2007 and 2008. They spent hours talking to Khan, trying to disabuse him of his beliefs that injustices against Muslims around the world needed to be corrected with violence. They talked to him about bin Laden. They tried to convince him that terrorism was wrong. According to two people at the meeting, and Hough, Khan was quiet and respectful. But it was hard to know if the elders were getting through. Two more meetings were scheduled to track his progress. Only one more took place. "We were actively involved trying to correct him, not encourage him," Hough said. But those community efforts had little effect. Intelligence sources say Khan was radicalized before he arrived in North Carolina. They believed it happened in New York, when he was a in his early teens. FBI investigators are tracking down those leads to try to pull together a timeline and see who might have held such sway over the young man. What is certain is that Khan flew to Yemen last October and then disappeared. Then, months later, al-Qaida in Yemen released Inspire magazine. Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-NC) says she warned the FBI about Khan years ago. She thinks the bureau missed a key moment in Khan's radicalization - the moment he contacted al-Qaida in Yemen to offer himself up as a recruit. "My concern has been that you just don't go over there and be accepted immediately," she told NPR. "It is like a closed group, a closed society. Al-Qaida doesn't just take you into their midst if they don't know who you are." Intelligence officials now say they believe Khan's al-Qaida patron was Anwar al-Awlaki, the same U.S.-born radical cleric linked to the Fort Hood shootings and the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day. They say he invited Khan to Yemen and Khan packed his bags and went. [Temple-Raston/NPR/17August2010] Army Spy Planes Not Used to Track New York Bomb Suspect. The U.S. did not use military surveillance planes to siphon the cell phone calls of the Times Square car bomb suspect earlier this year, according to responses to FOIA requests by Threat Level. In May, Faisal Shahzad was arrested for allegedly attempting to set off a car bomb in Times Square. The local CBS affiliate in New York reported that U.S. Army intelligence planes had been used to spy on Shahzad and help authorities capture him. "In the end, it was secret Army intelligence planes that did [Shahzad] in," wrote WCBS correspondent Marcia Kramer. "Armed with his cell phone number, they circled the skies over the New York area, intercepting a call to Emirates Airlines reservations, before scrambling to catch him at John F. Kennedy International Airport." The detail intrigued Threat Level, as it did a number of other people who raised questions about the spy tactic and the source for the news story - WCBS didn't attribute the information to anyone. But within an hour of posting its story, WCBS mysteriously revised the piece and posted a new version that was missing any mention of spy planes, as well as any indication that the story had been altered. The headline was changed from "Army Intelligence Planes Led To Suspect's Arrest" to "Total Time Of Investigation: 53 Hours, 20 Minutes: Faisal Shahzad In Custody After Nearly Fleeing United States." The story has since disappeared from the WCBS site entirely. WCBS later said it had inadvertently included the information in its story before confirming it, and then removed it after determining it could not be confirmed. The response was curious, given that WCBS had touted the unconfirmed information in its headline. So Threat Level filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the U.S. Army and the Justice Department seeking information about the use of spy planes to catch Shahzad. Both recently replied that they found no records related to our request. Separately, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the U.S. Northern Command - which oversees domestic air operations for all branches of the military - also said his office was "not aware of any assets that were up in the air at the time - not from a NORAD or U.S. Northern Command perspective." "By and large, if operations are being conducted here in the U.S., we're aware of it," added spokesman John Cornelio. [Zetter/Wired/17August2010]
Looking Out: Nazis On The Harbor. Henry Kolm had an interesting job as a 21-year-old. He smuggled Nazi scientists into Boston Harbor. He'd meet most of them off Nixes Mate, the smallest of the Harbor Islands - no more than gravel shoals - where a beacon warns ships coming into the harbor. Then, he and a Boston whaler captain named Corky would scoot them out to Long Island and a secret hotel fashioned from the barracks of the old Civil War derelict known as Fort Strong. The prize get, the leader of the pack and the star of the show at Fort Strong was Wernher von Braun, Germany's uber-engineer of rockets - most notoriously the V-2. Long after WWII ended, when the terror of the buzz bombs was well back in history, satirist Tom Lehrer could sing: "Gather round while I sing you of Wernher von Braun, A man whose allegiance is ruled by expedience. Call him a Nazi he won't even frown, Nazi, Schmazi says Wernher von Braun." But the ridicule would only come later - only after Walt Disney made him famous, Time Magazine put him on the cover and one of his rockets put America's first satellite in space. And to think von Braun began his American career right here in Boston Harbor. And secretly at that. "They all had to be smuggled into the country," Henry Kolm said the last time we spoke. Kolm was a newly minted American, working as a U.S. Army intelligence officer at the end of WWII. At a secret installation near Washington, D.C., (an operation code-named "P.O. Box 1142") he'd had the job of interrogating Nazi prisoners, when he and a dozen others were assigned to Boston to set up "Project Paperclip." Fort Strong may be only a few miles from downtown as the crow flies, but Kolm and the Project Paperclip team covered its tracks so well that practically no one knew then and no one knows now that von Braun and the technology stars of the Third Reich were ever here. "We had a mess hall and the Germans gave each other lectures," Kolm remembered. "They called this place where they stayed 'the Haus der Deutschen Wissenschaft,' the House of German Science." If it weren't such a secret, they could have put up a marquee and called it "Wernher von Braun's House of German Science." Kolm's assignment was to repackage von Braun and his fellow engineers and scientists as Americans. If von Braun's second act as an American was spectacular, his first act as a native German had been outrageous and spectacular. An early enthusiast of rocketry and a dreamer of space travel, von Braun led the team (from the age of 25) that designed and manufactured the V-2 rockets, the so-called "buzz bombs" that terrorized London and Antwerp. Toward the end of the war, von Braun and his team were knighted by the Third Reich. Hitler fondly dubbed him "the professor." His V-2s were the world's first ballistic missiles. "It was a breakthrough in liquid fuel rocket technology, which meant that it was also essentially the way to space," said Michael Neufeld, curator at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the author of "Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War." "And especially after the atomic bomb became known, the implication was that we could possibly build an ICBM with a nuclear warhead," Neufeld said. No wonder that von Braun was the U.S.'s top draft choice in the first frost of the Cold War as the United States and the Soviet Union competed to capture and recruit German scientists and engineers. And when he came to Boston Harbor, he brought his team from the missile program at Pennemunde, a site on the Baltic coast of Eastern Germany where his facility - but not his team - had been captured by the Russian Army. It must have been heady stuff for the 21-year-old Kolm at "The House of German Science." Academic as they might be, these were also the Bombs 'R Us - inventors of missiles, jet engines, Mercedes Benz diesels for navy ships and death machines. It was a Strangelove world of science and theory, classical music and two seemingly apolitical mathematicians named Axter and Riedel. "They were the brains behind the rocket program, basically," Kolm said. "They developed the mathematics for orbital calculations." (As apolitical as it might seem, Axter would be sent back to Germany after it came to light that he and his wife, a prominent member of the Nazi women's association, had abused slave laborers on their German farm.) They'd made a good team if you were rooting for Germany to win the war, but these Germans weren't prisoners of war. They were free agents. Literally. They had all signed one-year contracts with the Army. So they were working for us. Their families back home were being cared for by the Americans. And they were safe from the Soviet Army and the Russians, who they feared and disdained as barbarians. But technically they were illegal aliens - and many of them, like von Braun, were Nazis to boot. So Project Paperclip had to smuggle them out to Long Island to keep Immigration, Customs and, more importantly, the State Department from finding out they were here, according to Kolm. There were two ways to get the Germans into the States. There was only one way to get them onto Long Island, because there wasn't a bridge yet to connect it to the island. Kolm and Co. needed a boat. So the intelligence officers found an old Boston sea captain from a long line of whalers named Corkum and they hired him and his fishing boat, "a smelly old boat, but tough as can be." They moved the Germans, who were flown into nearby Naval Air Station Squantum, to a dock, then ferried them over to Fort Strong under cover. But most of the German scientists were transported to Boston hidden aboard the troop ships returning American soldiers home from Europe. Kolm's team had the job of getting to the ships before the pilot boats did. They retrieved the Germans in the worst weather and roughest seas, like a five-day storm in autumn of 1945. From the giant troop ship to the deck of the Boston whaler far below, each German had to be lowered by a bosun's chair, a little harness hanging by a rope from the davits and lowered like a lifeboat, swinging in the storm. "We put them in the hold because the waves were washing over the bow, and they were all seasick as can be, as you can imagine," Kolm said. As the lurching Boston whaler left Nixes Mate, Kolm recalls, one of the Germans in the hold started playing a piano accordion. That was Magnus von Braun, the younger brother of Wernher. Drenched and seasick as they were - which was too good for them, the people of London and Antwerp might think - the Germans were buoyed by a sense of value to the Americans. They knew they had something to trade: "our baby," as one on the rocket team called it. Fort Strong had been built for the Civil War and used in World War I, but it had been a long time since anyone had cut the grass when Project Paperclip showed up. They renovated the barracks and turned it into a hotel. But once you have a hotel, you have to equip it. And more difficult yet, you have to order a couple hundred beds without drawing attention. And how do you staff and keep it secret? Kolm said they made a decision to staff it with German prisoners of war. That way, Project Paperclip didn't have to worry about private employees or American servicemen going on shore leave and spilling the secrets. Then, it was a matter of pulling talent from a German prisoner of war camp. Kolm described it as an operation for Noah's Ark: "We picked two cooks, two bakers, two tailors...." Soon enough, the German scientists and engineers dubbed the hotel "the House of German Science." As an intelligence officer working as an Army talent scout, Kolm and his associates evaluated every German, then directed each one to the right U.S. military program, laboratory or defense contractor. The secret orders from the U.S. High Command in Europe had stated that, "upon completion of this duty the (Germans) named below will be returned to this theater." But it was evident early on, the Germans weren't going back. "Project Paperclip was really important," concluded Smithsonian curator and von Braun biographer Neufeld. "I think there was a really major transfer of knowledge that took place in 1945 and the years immediately after. "And the real question is really not whether we should have done it. It's really a question of whether we had a good enough filter to figure out the people who shouldn't have come here or not." Half the Germans who were smuggled over belonged to the Nazi party and about half of them were enthusiastic Nazis, Neufeld says. Wernher von Braun had not only joined the Nazis; he'd also joined the Waffen-SS, which was the elite armed wing of the party. (A damning photo, in which he's partly obscured, apparently showed him in Nazi uniform alongside the notorious Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Gestapo and the overseer of the concentration camps.) The rocket program von Braun presided over in Germany had used slave labor from the nearby concentration camp. But the Americans were inclined to assume that men of science weren't to blame. "A convenient assumption if you want to use these people: you don't want to think of them as war criminals," Neufeld said. The American high command was less interested in crimes than in the tools of technology the Germans could transfer. No one knew this better than von Braun, who reacted in surprise when an interviewer from The New Yorker asked him in 1951 whether he ever thought he might be arrested and punished as a war criminal. "Why, no," he answered. "I wasn't afraid. It all made sense. The V-2 was something we had and you didn't have. Naturally, you wanted to know all about it." (Even having written a biography of von Braun, Neufeld still found himself undecided about the extent of von Braun's moral culpability. He and his fellow German scientists had shown expediency, careerism and tone-deaf indifference to be sure, Neufeld concludes, but he is undecided about the depth of von Braun's moral responsibility.) Kolm had reason to hate the Nazis. He was an Austrian Jew who'd seen the Germans march into both Vienna and Prague. His family had lost everything. And believing early on that their family would be killed, his father tried to get the