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The Caliphate

Military Machinery Meant for Iraqi Army in the Hands of ISIS

September 1st 2014

IS Caliphate victory parade

Read more ..

Christians on Edge

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

August 31st 2014

Capernaum church Israel

According to a study by the Pew Research Center the number of Middle Eastern countries experiencing sectarian violence between religious groups has doubled from five to 10 since 2011.

The research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities and that Christians faced persecution in growing number of countries in the region.

In this climate of religious intolerance, experts say nearly one million Christians have been displaced from Iraq, half a million have left Syria, and Egypt’s Copts have lost scores of their churches to arsons. In Jerusalem, the cradle of Christianity, the number of Christians has been dwindling for decades.

“At one time, it was estimated that 25 percent of the citizens of East Jerusalem were Christians, now they are less than 2 percent,” said Yvonne Haddad, professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University. Read more ..


The Battle for Ukraine

Chechens Play Both Sides of the Street in Ukrainian Turmoil

August 30th 2014

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Eighteen years after the signing of the Khasavyurt Accord that ended the 1994-96 Chechen war, a veteran Chechen field commander has issued a timely reminder that there are still three sides to the ongoing struggle for the hearts and minds of the Chechen people.

In a statement dated August 28, Isa Munayev appeals to the United States and "the countries of the democratic world" to provide "comprehensive military assistance" to the Ukrainian people, whom Munayev describes as victims of Russian imperial aggression, just as the Chechens were 20 years ago.

Munayev identified himself in that statement as commander of the Dzhokhar Dudayev international volunteer peacekeeping battalion and a brigadier general of the armed forces of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria (ChRI) of which Dudayev was the first president. He spoke to RFE/RL's Radio Marsho a week ago, shortly before he travelled to Ukraine to show "international support for the Ukrainian people." The strength of his battalion, and who is bankrolling it, is not known. Read more ..


The Caliphate

United Kingdom on Alert for Terrorist Britons

August 30th 2014

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Britain has raised its terrorism alert level in response to the rise of Islamic extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, and the belief that British citizens fighting with such groups could bring terror home. The new British terror threat level is called “severe,” which means an attack is “highly likely,” but there is no information about a specific terrorist plan.

This is the first time in three years that the level has been so high, just one notch below the top of the scale ['critical']. Prime Minister David Cameron said the decision was made by an independent government commission because the rise of the group in Iraq and Syria once called ISIL or ISIS, which now calls itself the Islamic State, poses a threat to Britain. “What we’re facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before," said Cameron. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Al Qaeda Magazine Hints Of Looming Attack; Urges Bombing Of Vegas, Military Targets

August 29th 2014

Bomb-Boston-Marathon

A new English-language Al Qaeda magazine features a how-to article on making car bombs and suggests terror targets in the United States, including casinos in Las Vegas, oil tankers and military colleges, and implies that an attack is imminent.

The online publication, called “Palestine-Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience Al-Malahem” and put out by the media arm of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, calls for Muslims around the world to follow “the recipe” provided to set off car bombs in crowded venues. It includes a timeline of "selected jihadi operations" that the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which first flagged the slickly-produced latest edition of the terror publication, finds chilling. Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

U.S. Forms Coalition Against the Islamic State and Investigates Reports of Second American KIA

August 28th 2014

The United States Wednesday said it is seeking to build an international coalition to confront the threat posed by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq. U.S. officials are also trying to determine whether a second American fighting alongside jihadists in Syria has been killed.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States is working to put together a coalition of countries in Europe, the Arab world and beyond who might contribute to taking on the threat posed by IS Sunni militants. She said there are many ways for nations to contribute. Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

Divisions Between Shiite and Sunni Muslims Roils the Islamic World

August 27th 2014

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The Sunni-Shi’ite divide playing out in violence in parts of the Middle East is an ancient dispute that traces back to the dawn of Islam.

It started some 1,400 years ago with a dispute over leadership for the Muslim community following the death of the Prophet Mohammad.

“There were those who felt that the leadership should fall upon the most able individual,” said Gregory Gause, a professor at the International Affairs Department at Texas A&M University. “These people came to be known as Sunnis because they followed the Sunna, or the way of the prophet.

“There were those who felt that the leadership should remain within the blood relatives of the prophet,” he said. “These people focused on Ali; the prophet’s cousin and they became known as the Shi’ite or ‘partisans of Ali.”’

Through the centuries, there have been periods when Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims managed to live peacefully together despite their ancient religious divide. But rivalries persisted and shaped the Middle East. Read more ..


The Battle for Damascus

UN reports 'Countless Actors and Front Lines' in Syrian Conflict

August 27th 2014

The United Nations says the war in Syria has become a conflict with "countless actors and front lines" with both government forces and various anti-government fighters committing crimes against humanity. In an August 27 report, the U.N. commission of inquiry on Syria highlights the effect the conflict is having on the region, saying the impact is "no longer confined to Syrian territory."

Commission chairman Paulo Pinheiro called attention to the Islamic State militants who have taken over large areas in eastern Syria as well as northern and western Iraq, saying the group "poses a clear and present danger to civilians" in areas it controls. The report says the Islamic State's gains in Iraq have boosted its military capabilities, and that the militants are increasingly fighting other anti-government groups in Syria instead of Syrian forces. Read more ..


The Battle for Damascus

'Humble, Caring' American Jihadi Terrorist Succumbs in Syria

August 27th 2014

Victor McArthur McCain

An American, identified as 33-year old Douglas McArthur McCain, has been killed while fighting alongside militants in Syria. Concerns about foreign fighters joining the ranks of radical groups comes as an American journalist returned to the United States after nearly two years of captivity by militants in Syria.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday U.S. officials are aware of reports of McCain’s death in Syria and made contact with the family.

"As you know, there’s typically a process that needs to be gone through before any confirmation can be made. And, certainly, out of respect for the family, we’re not going to be adding any more comment at this time,” said Psaki.

However, in a statement, White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said, “We were aware of U.S. citizen Douglas McArthur McCain’s presence in Syria and can confirm his death.” Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

After 50 Days of Fighting, Hamas Shows Signs of Cracking

August 26th 2014

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On August 26, the fighting between Israel and the Hamas terror organization entered its fiftieth day. Early in the morning, Israeli defense forces struck a rocket launcher site that had fired projectiles into Tel Aviv on the evening of August 25. As of noon, local time, some 53 projectiles have been fired into Israel from Gaza as of midnight. Thirty were fired at Eshkol, which borders the Gaza strip. Of these, 51 fell in open ground and one was intercepted by Iron Dome. In Ashkelon, at least 50 persons were reportedly injured by the barrage. They are now hospitalized.

As Operation Protective Edge enters its eighth week, Hamas has reportedly taken a severe military and morale blow, even while its militants are preparing for more fighting in the belief that Gazans are willing to pay the price of Israeli retribution. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Gazans Are Fighting and Dying for ISIS

August 26th 2014

Hamas head

The Islamic State (ISIS) may be gaining a foothold in the Gaza Strip, as reports continue to emerge of Gazans joining the terror regime to fight in Syria and Iraq.

see Gazans Fighting for ISIS

A number of Gaza residents have died in recent months while fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, reports Vocativ. The New York-based news agency cites Islamic State web forums and social media accounts in reporting that the Gazans recently killed were part of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis and Ansar al-Dawla al-Islamia, Sinai-based affiliates of ISIS. Traveling to Iraq as “official representatives” of those groups, the men fought in Syria alongside the terror group.

Muhammad Naif al-Qarinawi, an engineer from the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, fought and died for ISIS under the nom-de-guerre Abi al-Bara al-Ghazi. Recruited by ISIS in Syria for his expertise in explosives engineering, Al-Bara reportedly died near Homs on July 26 during an ISIS military operation against Syrian forces at the Sha’er gas field. The Ansar al-Dawla’s group’s Twitter account posted a short eulogy for al-Bara. Read more ..


The Battle for Libya

Amidst Renewed Turmoil, Libyan Rebels Claim International Airport

August 24th 2014

Libya is engulfed in new political turmoil, with an Islamist militia openly challenging the legitimacy of the country's elected parliament, after its fighters took control of Tripoli's battered international airport.

After seizing the airport in the Libyan capital, the militia from the coastal city of Misrata called Sunday for the old General National Congress to be reinstated.

It alleged the parliament elected in June was complicit in mysterious airstrikes on Misrati positions at the airport as its militiamen fought rival fighters from the mountainous region of Zintan for six weeks for control of the key facility. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Blame Intelligence, not Soldiers for the Failure to Save James Foley

August 23rd 2014

James Foley RIP

Yesterday, we learned that American special operations forces attempted earlier this summer to save the late journalist James Foley, who had been taken hostage by extremist militants in November 2012. The stakes of the raid were high: an American life was at stake, and any harm done to Foley would likely necessitate an American response to a crisis that it had long attempted to ignore. Yet the raid ultimately failed. How could this have happened?

As Jeff Stein of Newsweek points out, this isn’t exactly the first time that American special operations forces have failed at a hostage raid. To be fair, though, most special operations missions go largely unnoted in the public realm, and it’s usually the failures that become fodder for the chattering classes. But public failures allow an opportunity to examine how we might avoid future mistakes. We don’t yet know all of the details of what went wrong during the Foley raid, but we should keep a fundamental lesson in mind: the success of special operations forces is driven by good intelligence. Read more ..


Ukraine on Edge

Russian Aid Convoy Enters Ukraine, Undeterred

August 22nd 2014

Witnesses say the first trucks from a Russian aid convoy crossed the border into Ukraine without official permission from Kyiv after Moscow said it was tired of waiting. Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement on August 22 that all excuses for the delay have been "exhausted" and that the convoy was heading toward the eastern Ukrainian rebel stronghold of Luhansk, where pro-Russian rebels are fighting government forces. Luhansk has been without running water, electricity, and phone service for at least 20 days.

Russia's foreign ministry said Ukraine had held up the convoy in order to pursue war against rebels surrounded in Luhansk, where the aid is destined. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was "not part of that convoy in any way." The stream of 70 white trucks that entered Ukraine is being escorted by rebel fighters. "Our humanitarian aid convoy is starting to move towards Luhansk," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement, while it warned against any action on the part of Ukraine. Russia did not specify the consequences.
Read more ..


The Battle for Ukraine

As Ukraine Escalation Fears Rise, A Flurry Of Diplomacy

August 16th 2014

Ukraine protest

A tense 24 hours that saw claims of direct military conflict between Ukraine and Russia sparked a burst of diplomatic scrambling as top officials moved to head off further escalation of the crisis.

After Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that Ukrainian forces had partially destroyed a Russian military column that had entered Ukraine's territory, his foreign minister announced he would meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on August 17. "Whether the table will be round or square, it is necessary to talk," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted on August 15.

The meeting, to be held in Berlin, will be the first between Klimkin and Sergei Lavrov since they met in the German capital in a similar format on July 2. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier are set to join them in the talks. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Syrian Fighters Learn To Dig Tunnels from Hamas

August 15th 2014

Hamas Tunnel

The main purpose of Operation Protective Edge is the destruction of the elaborate tunnel system that the Hamas terrorist organization built up over years.  But this significant model of digging was not only performed in Gaza.  The method has a receptive audience among Syrian rebels who learned from Hamas how to dig tunnels to implement attacks.

See the Tunnel Video Here

Abu Assad is a Syrian rebel leader in the city of Aleppo. The man is known as the commander of the tunnels among Syrian rebels, after undergoing training from Hamas in Gaza.

Last May, it appears that studying the tunnel method paid off. 25 tons of explosives were placed underneath the Carlton Hotel in Aleppo, where there were dozens of Syrian soldiers and officers staying. The hotel and all its inhabitants blew up, causing a major uproar within the country that has been suffering from a civil war over the last three years. Read more ..


The Islamic State

Syrian Oil Finances ISIS Militants in Iraq

August 12th 2014

ISIL militants and flags

The Sunni militant group that has taken over a large area of Iraq has financed its operations in part through an unlikely alliance with one of its enemies - the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

The militant fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) want to impose strict Muslim rule throughout the region, and eventually the entire world. Their initial push in western Iraq 10 years ago failed, and many of them crossed the border to fight the Syrian government.

In the process, they took over some Syrian oil facilities, potentially a huge source of revenue. But they could only find one customer. And, according to Shiraz Maher of London’s King’s College, that customer was their enemy, the Syrian regime.

“It will act in its own self-interest, and that will mean cutting a Faustian Pact with the fighters of ISIS [ISIL] for the time being," Maher said. "Both sides are being very pragmatic about that.” Now, the militants have set their sights on Iraq’s Beiji oil facility, potentially providing another source of revenue to further expand their operations. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

Nuclear Weapons Lab Employee Fired After Publishing Scathing Critique Of The Arms Race

August 11th 2014

Trinity Test July 16, 1945

James E. Doyle’s ordeal with Washington began one morning in early February last year, when his supervisor stopped by his desk at Los Alamos National Laboratory and told him that senior managers wanted copies of all his publications.

The 55-year-old political scientist asked the reason for the request, and he eventually was told that someone at the House Armed Services Committee wanted to see the publications. But Doyle said officials refused to tell him who it was or why.

Later that day at the lab’s New Mexico campus, he said, two members of a Security Inquiries Team abruptly arrived with a special, silver-colored briefcase for secure documents, and pulled out an article he published a few days earlier on the website of a London nonprofit group. They claimed that the article, an impassioned critique of the political theories undergirding the nuclear arms race and a defense of President Obama’s embrace of a nuclear weapons-free future, contained classified information.

Read more ..

Operation Protective Edge

Many Terror-Tunnel Diggers Killed By Hamas

August 11th 2014

Hamas Tunnel

A number of tunnel diggers working in Hamas’s service were killed by Hamas in the past weeks, this according to a report by the Israeli Walla news site. Hamas eliminated part of its work force out of fear that they would reveal their secrets to the Israeli security forces.

The report further sheds light on the extremely difficult terms under which the tunnel diggers were employed by Hamas, in many cases under coercion. “They would take some 100 men in trucks, their eyes blindfolded so that they could not know the accurate location of the tunnel entries. Hamas were fearful that one of them was collaborating with Israel,” a Gazan source well acquainted with the tunnel industry was cited in the report. The excavators worked taken for shifts of up to 24 hours long, working for eight to twelve hours underground with intermissions. They were paid the low wage of $150-$300 per month. Many of the diggers are veterans of the smuggling tunnels from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip. Read more ..


The Islamic State

U.S. Airstrikes Against Islamic State a 'Long-Term Project'

August 10th 2014

F-15E Refuels

The United States expanded its Iraq air campaign over the weekend to beat back Islamist militants determined to kill members of a religious minority.

Fighter jets and drones struck ISIS fighters firing on ethnic Yazidis near the northern town of Sinjar, where extremists had driven tens of thousands fleeing into nearby mountains.

Iraqi officials said U.S. airstrikes Saturday killed 16 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the extremist militia that calls itself the Islamic State.

An Iraqi airstrike in Sinjar killed an additional 45 ISIS fighters and injured 60 on Friday, Iraq state media reported.

Airdrops not enough

On Saturday, three U.S. cargo planes, accompanied by U.S. fighter jets, airdropped 3,804 gallons of fresh drinking water and 16,128 ready-to-eat meals to Yazidis stranded in the mountains, the military said. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Islamic State Advances in Syria

August 7th 2014

Iraqi Christians beheaded

In recent weeks, far from the attention of the world’s media, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS, formerly ISIS) has been fighting its enemies and expanding its borders.

There is mounting evidence that IS has obtained a chemical weapons capacity of some kind, and has utilized it on at least one occasion during intense combat against the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria. The organization has achieved signal successes against regime forces in Raqqa and Hasakeh provinces that culminated in the capture of the Division 17 base, and the subsequent gruesome execution of over 200 members of the garrison.

There is also clear evidence of Palestinians, specifically Gazans, fighting in Syria in an organized unit under the IS banner, and of at least one clearly IS-linked group operating in northern Sinai and in Gaza itself. The overall picture is one of a vigorous, capable and savagely brutal Islamist entity, but one which nevertheless has clear limitations on its capabilities.

Lets take a look: Following its lighting capture of Mosul on June 10, many observers expected the jihadi group to continue to push on into Iraq, and perhaps make a bid for the capital city, Baghdad.

This has not happened. IS has set about implementing its brutal version of Shari’a in the city, but has made no serious effort to push further east. Read more ..


Afghanistan on Edge

New Details Emerge in Killing of US General

August 6th 2014

IED 1; Humvee 0

The two-star U.S. Army general who was fatally shot by an Afghan soldier in Kabul Tuesday died at the military academy where he was attacked, according to the Army. 

"Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene of Schenectady, New York, died Aug. 5, at Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul City, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by small arms fire," the Army announced Wednesday.

"Words cannot express the sadness we feel at the senseless loss of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene," said Secretary of the Army John McHugh on Wednesday.

Greene, 55, is the highest-ranking U.S. officer to be killed in combat since 1970, with the exception of a three-star Army general who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon. Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno said Tuesday that the Army would stick to its task in Afghanistan, despite the attack.

"We remain committed to our mission in Afghanistan and will continue to work with our Afghan partners to ensure the safety and security of all coalition soldiers and civilians," Odierno said. He said that other soldiers were injured, but an Army spokesman said a definitive number of the wounded had not been confirmed. There were at least 12 individuals injured, "some more severely than others," the spokesman said. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Video: How Hamas Terrorists Rapidly Assemble and Fire Rockets

August 5th 2014

Click to select Image

In the minutes before the ceasefire kicked in at Gaza this morning, Hamas fired a flurry of rockets towards Israel - 30 according to some counts.

see video here

Israel has argued that that these rockets are fired from civilian areas, and this is why its retaliatory strikes can result in civilian casualties.

But this morning, NDTV witnessed one such rocket silo being created under a tent right next to the hotel where our team was staying. Minutes later, we saw the rocket being fired, just before the 72-hour ceasefire came into effect. See video here.

It began with a mysterious tent with a blue canopy that bobbed up yesterday (August 4) at 6:30 am in an open patch of land next to our window. We saw three men making a multitude of journeys in and out of the tent, sometimes with wires.

An hour later, they emerged, dismantled the tent, changed their clothes and walked away.

The next morning - today - we woke to news of the 72-hour ceasefire but just before it was to take effect, the rocket next to our hotel was fired. There was a loud explosion and a whooshing sound. The cloud of smoke that rose was captured by our cameraperson. Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

Islamic State forces Inflict Stunning Blow to Stability in Iraq

August 4th 2014

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The armies of the Islamic State seized control of Iraq's biggest dam, as well as an oilfield and three more towns near Mosul on August 3. This was the first major defeat of Kurdish forces since the fighting over control of Iraq began in June. Fears have peaked that the Sunni militants of IS now have the ability to flood major Iraqi cities, and shut off electric power. According to a report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, if the dam were to fail, it could release a 65-foot high wave across northern Iraq and potentially flood and kill many in several surrounding towns.

Besides the hydroelectric dam on the Tigris River that supplies Mosul, the IS militants seized the Ain Zalah oil field, in the triangular border area of Iraq, Syria and Turkey, while adding to the four others they already control. The Iraqi government under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government appears even more shaky. Read more ..


Ebola Outbreak

Ebola-Afflicted Doctor Arrives in U.S. for Treatment in Isolation

August 3rd 2014

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An American physician who was stricken with the Ebola virus while helping victims in Liberia has returned to the United States, becoming the first known Ebola patient on U.S. soil. Dr. Kent Brantly was flown from Liberia to Atlanta GA on August 2 on a specially equipped chartered medical plane.

After arriving at a Georgia military base, he was transferred to an ambulance that become part of a convoy that traveled to Emory University Hospital, a medical facility in the city of Atlanta.

Television video from the hospital showed two people emerging from the ambulance in white, full-body protective suits and entering the facility. Dr. Brantly could be seen emerging from an ambulance, walking with the help of medical personnel. The Emory University Hospital is one of only four in the U.S. that is equipped to handle such cases. Dr. Brantly will be treated in an isolation unit that is separate from the other patient areas. Read more ..


The Battle for Ukraine

Pentagon Wants to Send Military Trainers to Ukraine

August 2nd 2014

Troops in IED Training

The Pentagon announced Friday that the U.S. wants to send troops to train Ukrainian forces next year as the country faces continued aggression from pro-Russia separatists.

According to the plan, which must be approved by Congress, soldiers stationed in Europe or from the California National Guard would train and equip four companies and one tactical headquarters of the Ukrainian national guar

The effort would help "build their capacity for internal defense," said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. The training would take place inside Ukraine at an international peacekeeping and security center, he said.

"It's an area where we do multilateral exercises. It's an area that we're familiar with," said Kirby, though he did not specify how many troops would be going. "Our intent is to use $19 million in Global Security [Contingency] Fund authority. That's what the authority's for," Kirby said, referring to a fund shared by the Defense and State departments for security and counterterrorism training programs. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Deaths in Gaza -- How Many Civilians vs. Terrorists

August 1st 2014

Gaza Militants

Below are the findings of a preliminary, partial list of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge. The goal is to ascertain the identity of terrorist operatives and non-involved citizens, and to examine the ratio between them.

We have examined the first 150 names of Palestinians killed between July 7 and July 12, 2014, which appeared on the list of those killed issued by the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza. To this list the ITIC added the names of six terrorist operatives who were killed on those dates but were not included on the Health Ministry's list, or who were killed and whose names were added later. Conversely, we removed the names of three dead, whose identity is still unknown, and the name of a terrorist operative who, it turned out, was wounded and whose name appeared on the mortality list by mistake. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Israeli Military Discovers Terror Tunnel Entrance in Gaza Mosque

July 31st 2014

The IDF is continuing to dismantle the terror tunnels in Gaza, while deepening its hold on the Gaza Strip. For the first time in the operation the IDF entered the Jabaliya refugee camp. Israel has reportedly stepped up its military strikes on Hamas targets as well.

In one incident, Givati forces shot and killed a gunman who fired an anti-tank missile at troops in the southern Gaza Strip overnight. In the course of house searches in the central Gaza Strip, IDF soldiers uncovered sensitive intelligence gathered by Hamas on the IDF, numerous weapons, and a large number of tunnels used as bunkers linking a string of houses. A joint IDF task force further uncovered a tunnel entrance on the ground floor of a mosque that had been used by Hamas terrorists to attack Israeli soldiers. See video here. Read more ..


Broken Government

GOP Emergency Border Bill Appears to be Going No Where

July 31st 2014

An emergency border spending package backed by the House GOP leadership appeared to be in trouble Wednesday evening after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) met with a group of House conservatives.

House conservatives emerging from a late evening meeting in Cruz’s office said they would oppose the $659 million legislation and warned it might fail on the House floor, an embarrassing prospect for the new GOP leadership team.

“It doesn’t sound like the Granger bill has the votes to pass,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), who plans to vote against the border package endorsed by his leadership. House leaders scrambled Wednesday evening to save the bill by promising conservatives a chance to vote on separate language curtailing President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

They are also discussing legislation that would prevent Obama from easing deportations through executive action. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Rep. McCaul's Cybersybersecurity Information Sharing Center. If You Build It, They Will Come?

July 29th 2014

Oak Ridge Super Computer

Yesterday, the House of Representatives placed four cybersecurity bills – all pieces of a larger cybersecurity legislative puzzle – on the House suspension calendar. The core bill, sponsored by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX), would establish the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a coordination point for civil information sharing between sector-specific coordination groups and federal, state, and local government agencies. This multi-layered approach is meant to manage current cyber incidents and eventually reach the goal of proactively managing cyber risks through collaborative efforts. Should the bill pass, will its provisions be enough to bring cybersecurity to the top of the agenda in corporate America? Read more ..


The Caliphate

ISIS Cut Off 50 Heads, Put Them On Poles Throughout Town Square

July 28th 2014

ISIL execution captive prayers

After the ISIS defeated the Raqqa base manned by Division 17 of the Syrian army, the countless POWs were then beheaded and their heads were displayed for public view in the city square.

STRONG WARNING ON VIDEO

Shoebat.com also translated what the ISIS spokesperson said during the filming:

In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful
He had fulfilled his promise and defeated the enemy by himself.
Your brothers here, the soldiers of the Islamic Caliphate,
Allah had blessed us a great blessing from him. He had allowed us to defeat Division 17. This is a victory from Allah. We thank Allah for our strength and power, and our armament. Today, and till the day of judgement, devils who Allah had allowed us to defeat, and to be hung in this place, and we ask Allah to complete this victory the great victory of your brothers in the Islamic Caliphate. Allah had promised the believers that they will dominate the land as it was dominated previously. And will strengthen the religion to be acceptable to him. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

In Gaza, Operating Behind Enemy Lines

July 27th 2014

Gaza violence Jun 2012

Operating behind enemy lines in Gaza during the conflict with Hamas, the elite Maglan unit has attacked dozens of terrorist cells that fired on the IDF, destroyed areas used to launch rockets and killed and injured 40 terrorists in the last few days.

A senior source from the unit revealed that its members targeted Hamas gunmen waiting in ambush for the IDF’s ground forces, striking the threats before the soldiers passed by the would-be attackers.

The Maglan unit has detected and destroyed forward Hamas posts and rocket launchers. It detected a cross-border underground attack tunnel leading into Israel from Gaza, and found 20 bomb-laden, booby-trapped Gazan homes. The unit also uncovered a large quantity of weapons in raids. The source said the company is operating in a heavily built up area, characterized by residential buildings, orchards surrounded by buildings, and tunnels. Hamas planted its military assets deep inside the very fabric of Gazan civilian life, he said.

“Hamas operatives and area commanders, as well as their rocket cell members, keep one part of their home for normal family life. A second part of the home is the command center, or the start of a tunnel. Daily life and military infrastructure are totally interwoven,” the source said. Read more ..


Air Travel on Edge

Putin has Blood on His Hands, But Ukraine Airliner Disaster is No Re-Run of KAL 007

July 26th 2014

The tragic shoot-down over Ukraine of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 Boeing 777 that killed 298 people on board revives gruesome memories of similar events during the last phase of the Cold War in the 1980s. But the comparisons are not quite what we might expect.

The best explanation of the MH17 disaster is on a strangely-titled website, Scallywag and Vagabond, which draws from a variety of sources including the UK’s Daily Mail and the Kiev Post, and cites Dr. Igor Sutyagin, a Research Fellow in Russian Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, the Security Service of Ukraine [SBU], and other Ukrainian officials.

This article presents evidence that Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in late June bragged about obtaining a BUK missile launcher, and just before the shoot-down of MH17 had placed it in a civilian area with the goal of shooting down Ukrainian military planes. The article includes images that it suggests might be the missile launcher in transit and in placement. The BUK can hit objects up to 25 km or 75,000 feet in altitude, well above the altitude of commercial airliners. Read more ..


The Weapon's Edge

Money For New US Navy Amphib Falls Far Short

July 26th 2014

Lobbyist

Powerful forces in Congress are working to buy the US Navy an extra amphibious ship, and lawmakers in both the House and Senate have added between $650 million and $800 million to the proposed 2015 shipbuilding budget to begin construction.

But, even if the money is approved and signed into law, it won’t be enough to cover the more than $2 billion needed to buy the ship, the Navy’s top acquisition official told Congress Friday. With no guarantee the rest of the bill would be funded in the 2016 request, the Navy can’t begin work at all, he said.

“That billion-plus has to enter into a budget process where we've got other bills that are, frankly, a higher priority,” Sean Stackley told the House Seapower subcommittee.

“We've got competition to go into the budget and add these priorities, at the same time we've got all of the risk associated with sequestration on the back end,” Stackley added. “So I cannot look at you today and give you a sense of confidence that the Navy is going to be able to budget that additional billion- plus in [20]16. The challenges are huge, in terms of being able to fund the balance.” Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Israeli Military May Have Underestimated Extent of Hamas Tunnels Leading from Gaza

July 25th 2014

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A network of tunnels dug by Islamist militants from the Gaza to Strip to Israel has been dubbed "lower Gaza" by the Israeli military. It has become a strategic weapon used by the Hamas terrorist organization against Israel as it continues to unleash rocket attacks against civilian targets. Hamas utilize the tunnels as a possible game-changer in their ongoing struggle with Israel. The tunnels, say Israel’s defense forces, pose a serious threat against the country.

In some cases, when the IDF or Israeli police were alerted to the excavation of tunnels, concerned citizens were ignored. However, former Israeli general Shlomo Brom told ABC News, "Israel knew there was a problem with the tunnels, but it didn't internalize their significance," adding "At any given moment, Hamas could send dozens of militants through separate tunnels to attack communities in Israel." Until now, Israel has had no effective method of contending with the tunnels. Dan Murphy, who reports for The Christian Science Monitor, said Hamas justifies the tunnels as an “existential issue for the movement.” Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

President Obama Hopes Ukraine Jet Disaster will 'Stiffen' Europe's Spine

July 25th 2014

President Obama on Thursday said the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight last week "may stiffen the spine of our Europeans partners moving forward” as the U.S. pushes for tougher sanctions on Russia.

In an interview on CNBC, Obama said the United States is seeing Europe "move with us" behind additional penalties on Moscow.

Obama, though, acknowledged that many European counties are "concerned about a robust response to the violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity that Russia's been conducting." Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Hamas and Other Terrorists Groups in Gaza Use Medical Facilities and Ambulances for Military-Terrorist Purposes

July 24th 2014

Rocket Damage

Hamas and the other terrorist organizations have frequently made use of hospitals and other medical facilities for various military purposes. That is because they know the IDF does not attack medical facilities, and using a medical facility provides their terrorist operatives located there with a kind of immunity. For the same reason they use ambulances to move terrorist operatives and weapons from place to place in combat zones. They repeat the modus operandi in Operation Protective Edge.

William Booth wrote in the Washington Post on July 15, 2014, that "At the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority's health minister, who represents the crumbling 'unity government' in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices" (ITIC emphasis). Washington Post correspondent Nick Casey Tweeted that Hamas used the Al-Shifa'a Hospital as a "safe place" to meet with the media.

Al-Shifa'a Hospital, located in the western part of Gaza City, is the largest and most important hospital in the Gaza Strip. Hamas used it for military-terrorist purposes in Operation Cast Lead as well, when senior Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives located themselves at the hospital, closing off some of the wings (See below). Read more ..


Russia on Edge

Can Vladimir Putin Survive the Malaysian Airlines Disaster?

July 23rd 2014

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There is a general view that Vladimir Putin governs the Russian Federation as a dictator, that he has defeated and intimidated his opponents and that he has marshaled a powerful threat to surrounding countries. This is a reasonable view, but perhaps it should be re-evaluated in the context of recent events.

Ukraine and the Bid to Reverse Russia's Decline

Ukraine is, of course, the place to start. The country is vital to Russia as a buffer against the West and as a route for delivering energy to Europe, which is the foundation of the Russian economy. On Jan. 1, Ukraine's president was Viktor Yanukovich, generally regarded as favorably inclined to Russia. Given the complexity of Ukrainian society and politics, it would be unreasonable to say Ukraine under him was merely a Russian puppet. But it is fair to say that under Yanukovich and his supporters, fundamental Russian interests in Ukraine were secure. Read more ..


The Battle Iraq

Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

July 22nd 2014

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong.

Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, has fabulous oil wealth. It is an ethnically divided city. For years, Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen factions fought each other. Then, insurgents including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - or ISIL - unleased their terror.

In June, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga troops, reputed to be some of the toughest fighters in this region, moved into Kirkuk to restore stability, and to protect the oil beneath it.A monument in Kirkuk, a well-head surrounded by swords, is highly symbolic of both the value of the province’s oil, as well as the fight to control it. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Is Iron Dome Everything Israel Says It is?

July 21st 2014

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A U.S. Senate defense subcommittee has voted to double funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. The Pentagon originally requested $175 million for Iron Dome, but if the new bill passes, Israel would receive more than $350 million.

That’s good news for Israel—and for American defense contractors slated to receive more than half those funds to co-produce more Iron Dome units. But critics question such big spending on a system they say doesn’t live up to its glowing reputation.

A clever system
Iron Dome was developed after Israel’s second war with Lebanon in 2006, when about 4,000 rockets were fired from southern Lebanon. “What is special about Iron Dome is that it’s the only one of its kind,” said Jeremy Binnie, Middle East/Africa editor for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. Read more ..



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