Lufthansa Heist/ Data Mining

Lufthansa Heist/ Data Mining


HostGeorge Knapp

GuestsDaniel Simone, Nafeez Ahmed

The late Henry Hill was a wiseguy, a member of New York's Lucchese crime family for 25 years, until he turned state's evidence and went into hiding. He became a celebrity mobster after Martin Scorsese's film Goodfellas came out in 1990, starring Ray Liotta as Henry Hill. Author Daniel Simone, who co-wrote a book with Hill, joined George Knapp in the first half to discuss the infamous unsolved Lufthansa heist, a daring armed robbery at Kennedy Airport that took place in 1978 with a cash and jewelry haul totaling around six million dollars. Hill (who passed away in 2012) was one of the organizers of the burglary and revealed insider details to Simone.

It was Hill who learned from a bookmaker that large sums of cash were being flown in once a month from Germany via Lufthansa Airlines and stored in a vault at Kennedy Airport. Jimmy Burke, an associate of the Lucchese family, was considered the mastermind of the heist, which involved a group of masked gunmen arriving in a Ford Econoline van that they backed into an airport ramp. Afterward, as a way to cover-up the crime, most of those involved in the case met violent deaths at the hands of Burke. Hill eventually turned over info to the FBI on another case related to Burke, and he was sent away to prison on murder charges, Simone reported, adding that Burke's daughter may have ended up with most of the unrecovered cash. Interestingly, just three months ago, there was a trial in New York, in which reputed mobster Vincent Asaro was tried and acquitted for his part in the Lufthansa robbery.


In the latter half, investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed addressed how the US Dept. of Defense uses contractors to mine people's social media posts to develop new ways for the government to infer what they're thinking and feeling --  and to predict what they'll do next. Whistleblowers on the government's security policies (such as in the Snowden case) are being equated with treason, and the Obama administration which has called itself one of the most transparent, "is actually one of the most opaque...and has done the most to target whistleblowers," Ahmed remarked.

Analyzing the massive data streams, a consistent theme in military and government research is trying to understand what mobilizes people to change, he detailed. They're considering the theory that dissent in some instances can lead to violent radicalization, which is putting all types of organizations that push for change under increased scrutiny, he revealed. Yet, it's come to light that mass surveillance attempts by the NSA continually produces false alarms because of the broad umbrella they search under, Ahmed pointed out. These surveillance technologies are increasing the power of the state, and eroding due process, but it's not at all clear that they're even useful in apprehending or stopping terrorists, who tend to adapt quickly to changes, he cited. For more, check out Ahmed's article for Insurge Intelligence, his investigative journalism project.



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