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Mali on Edge

EU Steps Up Support to Mali Operation

January 17th 2013

French soldiers

As Algeria launched an operation to rescue foreign hostages held by al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants, European foreign ministers meeting in Brussels agreed to offer training and logistical support to fight militants farther south in Mali.  But European Union (EU) states have yet to contribute combat forces to bolster France's military operation there.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said a 500-troop European mission to help train Malian forces would be operational within days, with its French commanding general in Mali as of Sunday. At a news conference in Brussels, Fabius said European Union countries were unanimous in expressing their solidarity with France's nearly week-old military offensive in Mali to help expel Islamist radicals there. Read more ..


The Drug Wars

Mexico's Drug War: Persisting Violence and a New President

January 17th 2013

Mexican marine infantry

In 2013, violence in Mexico likely will remain a significant threat nationwide to bystanders, law enforcement, military and local businesses. Overall levels of violence decreased during 2011, but cartel operations and competition continued to afflict several regions of Mexico throughout 2012. These dangers combined with continued fracturing among cartels, such as Los Zetas, could cause overall violence to increase this year.
A New President

This year, 2013, will be the first full year in office for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who campaigned on promises to stem cartel violence. The most significant of his initiatives is his plan to consolidate and restructure federal law enforcement in Mexico. Pena Nieto's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party has introduced legislation that would switch oversight of the federal police, among other entities, away from the Public Security Secretariat to the Interior Ministry. The president also announced plans to bring the state police from each of Mexico's 31 states under a unified federal command. Pena Nieto has frequently stated his plans to create a national gendarmerie that would serve as a supplemental paramilitary force for tackling violent organized criminal groups. During a Dec. 17 conference, he announced that this new organization initially would have 10,000 personnel trained by the Mexican army. Read more ..


The Weapon's Edge

Missile Defense from Gaza to the Gulf

January 16th 2013

SM-3 launch from USS Hopper

During last November's Gaza conflict, Israeli forces performed extremely well against short-range Palestinian rockets and mortars. The Iron Dome missile-defense system was able to counter heavy fire over a week of fighting, with the Israeli Air Force (IAF) serving as the indispensable brains of the operation. These two elements -- effective defense systems and seamless command and control (C2) -- would be just as essential in the event that the United States and its Persian Gulf allies are forced to confront a similar rocket/missile threat from Iran. Yet preparing for that scenario will require greater attention to the lessons learned from Gaza.

DISSECTING ISRAEL'S SUCCESS

Although Iron Dome's Tamir interceptor and associated radar garnered the lion's share of praise during the conflict, perhaps the most significant contribution was the C2 exercised by the IAF. During the 1982 Beqa Valley war with Syria, the IAF perfected tactical and operational C2 through directed intercepts of fighters from airborne radar platforms, and by creating a regional air operations center to manage the battle. In the November fighting, the IAF again trail-blazed C2, this time with regard to rocket defense. Read more ..


America's Darkest Edge

Internet Ammunition Sales Draw Scrutiny

January 16th 2013

Ammo

Proposed legislation to regulate online purchases of ammunition and high-capacity magazines is bringing new attention to a growing cyberspace ammo market that has operated with little government oversight.

Under federal law, firearms dealers must obtain a federal license and keep records of their transactions, but there’s virtually no federal regulation of ammunition suppliers or sales —though there was prior to 1986. Adults who currently want to stockpile large amounts of ammo—say 1,000 rounds of rifle fire or more— can buy it from dozens of web sites that specialize in bulk sales, often at low prices. Some sites also hawk magazines that fire up to 100 rounds without reloading, which critics argue have repeatedly been tied to deadly mass shootings and should be outlawed. Some of the online sellers list no names of their owners, give only a post office box as their address and ship merchandise to customers using overnight couriers. Buyers can access a special search engine to compare inventory and prices at more than 30 dealers. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iran Could Have Nuclear Bomb By Mid-2014--US Report

January 15th 2013

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

Read more ..

Mali on Edge

French Planes Continue Bombing Islamist Positions in Mali

January 14th 2013

Fighter Jets

France attacked Islamists targets in Mali for the third straight day on Sunday, bombing an key northern town held by the extremists. French fighter jets bombed the northern Malian town of Gao, even as West African troops were due to arrive to help Bamako beat back an Islamist insurgency.

In a television interview, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the air raids would continue Monday. Le Drian said roughly 400 French soldiers have been deployed to Bamako, to ensure security and protect French and European nationals.  More French troops were dispatched to the town of Mopti, about 500 kilometers north of the capital.

Launched Friday, the attacks aim to eradicate an Islamist insurgency that was making inroads to the south last week, after capturing vast chunks of territory in northern Mali.  France says the Islamists not only threaten Mali and surrounding countries, but also Europe. Read more ..


Kashmir on Edge

India Orders 'Aggressive' Response to Pakistanis After Kashmir Beheading

January 14th 2013

Indian Soldier Killed in Kashmir

India's army chief says he has ordered his commanders to deliver an "aggressive" response to any firing from Pakistani forces in disputed Kashmir. General Bikram Singh said Monday that he expects his troops to fire back if they are provoked by Pakistani forces. Singh's comments were made ahead of a meeting Monday between Indian and Pakistani commanders to discuss last week's deadly flare ups along the de factor border in Kashmir in which both Indian and Pakistani troops were killed. But one Indian soldier was reporteedly beheaded, and despite demands, the Pakistani military has noty returned the head.

General Singh's remarks come amid mounting public anger in India after Delhi accused Pakistani soldiers of slitting the throat of one of the soldiers and decapitating him. Calling the beheading of the soldier "gruesome", Singh told a news conference: "We reserve the right to retaliate at a time and place of our choosing." Read more ..


Mali on Edge

African Troops Due In Mali As France Bombs Rebels

January 13th 2013

French fighter planes

Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Hezbollah Reportedly Training Shiite Fighters In Syria

January 12th 2013

Hezbollah

Syrian Shiite sources have confirmed that Hezbollah and Iran are intervening in the Syrian crisis in order to “protect” Shiite towns, villages and religious shrines against the “Takfirists”. The sources revealed the presence of “Hezbollah training centers in the Beqaa valley to train up young Syrian Shiites, paying them salaries to fight in Syria”. Syrian opposition figures confirmed that there are roughly 1,500 Hezbollah elements in Syria, and the same number of Iranians assisting the Syrian regime, but said that the talk of 5,000 elements is an exaggeration.

Since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, and its transformation into a military struggle, there has been increasing talk of Hezbollah participating in the fight alongside the Syrian regime. There is a sense of a strategic interdependence between Hezbollah and the al-Assad regime, the latter of which is a vital artery that connects Iranian aid (of all kinds) to the movement in Lebanon. Read more ..


The Weapon's Edge

Turkey Backs off the F-35

January 11th 2013

F-35

The rising costs associated with the Pentagon's next-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have caused another American ally to back off its participation in the program, according to recent reports. 

Defense officials in Turkey have decided to postpone a planned purchase of the first two Joint Strike Fighters ordered by Ankara last January, Agence-France Presse reported on Friday. Turkey, along with the United Kingdom and Israel, is one of the top international participants in the Joint Strike Fighter program. Other JSF countries include Canada, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Denmark and Norway. 

"Due to the current state of the JSF ... and the rising cost ... it was decided to postpone the order placed [last January] for the two aircraft," according to a government statement. The decision, issued by Turkey's Undersecretariat for Defense Industry, was driven by concerns that the fighter jet's advanced capabilities "were not at the desired level yet," according to defense officials.  Read more ..


The New Egypt

Obama's Big Egypt Test: Sinai

January 10th 2013

Camel-safari-sinai

Egypt's mounting political and economic woes will cause many policy headaches for the Obama administration during the next four years. But in the short run, the Obama administration will have to confront a more immediate risk: that a major terrorist attack in the Sinai will catalyze a security crisis between Israel and Egypt, which the ruling Muslim Brotherhood may use as a pretext for downgrading Egyptian-Israeli relations and perhaps canceling the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement altogether. To prevent this outcome, Washington should immediately press Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to establish direct communication channels with the Israeli government to ensure that this kind of crisis will be managed responsibly. Read more ..


The New Egypt

Egypt Consulted Powerful Iranian Security and Intelligence Commander

January 9th 2013

Wary Egyptian Cops

Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Qods Force, a division of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which conducts special operations outside Iran, visited Egypt at the end of December at the invitation of President Mohamed Morsi’s government. The Times of London reported that the purpose of the visit was “to advise the government on building its security and intelligence apparatus independent of the national intelligence services, which are controlled by Egypt’s military.” During the visit he met with Essam al-Haddad, foreign affairs adviser to Mr Morsi, and officials from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Times article quoted one Egyptian official as saying,”The government requested a high-level meeting with Iranian officials. Iran sent Suleimani. The meeting was intended to send a message to America, which is putting pressure on the Egyptian government, that we should be allowed to have other alliances with anyone we please.” Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Russian Security Force Kills Islamists Who Planned Christmas Attacks

January 8th 2013

Russian Paratroopers

Russia's special counterterrorism security force on Sunday in the North Caucasus province of Kabardino-Balkaria killed three radical Islamists suspected of planning attacks on Russian Orthodox Catholic churches during the Orthodox Christmas holiday on Jan. 7, 2013. Russia's security force attempted to stop an SUV in Kabardino-Balkaria, but the suspects in the vehicle opened fire and were eventually killed during the deadly gunfight. During the security officers and suspected terrorists exchange of gunfire, the Islamist's SUV caught fire, according to a statement by the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee.

The anti-terrorism committee's statement said that explosives, guns and ammunition were found in the van and that the men who were killed had been planning attacks on churches during services marking Russian Orthodox Christmas, which is on Monday. Thirteen days after Western Christmas, on January 7th, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates its Christmas, in accordance with the old Julian calendar. Intense battles between police and suspected militants at security checkpoints are common in the North Caucasus region, which contains several provinces with active Islamist insurgencies rooted in two separatist wars in Chechnya, according to the Israeli source. Read more ..


Iran on Edge

Iran’s Military Capability “Dramatically” Reduced by Conflict in Syria

January 7th 2013

Iran centrifuges

Iran’s ability to retaliate for any strike on its nuclear facilities has been “dramatically” reduced by events in the region, an Israeli intelligence report has said. Israeli diplomats meeting in Jerusalem were told by Defense Ministry intelligence officials that the weakening of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has taken its toll on Iran militarily.

The officials said that neither Syria nor Hezbollah have the capability to start a war with Israel and would be largely unable to respond on behalf of Iran in the event of an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Hezbollah would need direct aid from Iran to be capable of fighting Israel as it did in 2006, the officials said, but Iran was likely not to do so, because such a move would likely bring the U.S. and Europe directly into the conflict. Hezbollah recognizes its weakened position, the officials said, and was unlikely to provoke Israel into a massive invasion of Lebanon.  Read more ..


The Defense Edge

Defense Industry Fears Sequestration Delay Won't Stop Pentagon Cuts

January 7th 2013

Lockheed Martin/Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan

The defense industry is worried last week's budget deal on taxes could damage its negotiating position for the next “fiscal cliff” deadline two months from now, when across-the-board spending cuts would take effect. The deficit debate is shifting from taxes toward spending cuts and the debt limit, where there will be more of a focus on new cuts to the Pentagon.

While the first fiscal-cliff fight over taxes included the threat of massive across-the-board spending cuts, the sequel is going to be nearly all about where to cut spending. The Pentagon is the largest target outside of entitlements. “Even when sequester was on the table along with the fiscal cliff, it seemed pretty clear that to get to a spending-side agreement you will have to go deeper in defense,” said Gordon Adams, a defense analyst at the Stimson Center. Read more ..


The Congo on Edge

U.S. Targets Armed Groups Operating in Congo

January 6th 2013

Congo M23 Rebels

Officials in the Obama administration on Thursday announced what they termed "tough sanctions" on two terrorist groups accused of fomenting violence and instability in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Department of Treasury blacklisted Mouvement du 23 Mars ( M23) and the Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (FDLR), alleging that as armed groups operating in eastern DRC, they have committed "serious crimes" involving the targeting of children in the conflict in the African country. "These crimes, which include recruitment as well as killing, maiming and sexual violence, violate international law and are the basis for the groups' designation today," the Treasury said in a statement. The FDLR was previously added to the State Department's Designated Terrorist List.

M23 was targeted also for smuggling weapons and military equipment that have contributed directly to the ongoing conflict, the agency said. Read more ..


Israel's Next Northern War

Golan Security Fence to be Built as Global Jihadists Replace Syrian Army Across Northern Border

January 6th 2013

Golan Heights

As global jihadist groups have replaced Syrian army forces across the northern border, Israel is determined to keep out terrorists and other intruders through the construction of a security fence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at his weekly cabinet meeting.

Citing a recently completed section of a security fence along the southern border, Netanyahu highlighted the effectiveness of such efforts. “The result of building the fence is that we have completely stopped the entry of infiltrators into Israel. In the past seven months, no infiltrators entered Israel’s cities. Several dozen reached the fence each month and were taken to holding facilities. Not one infiltrator reached any community or city inside Israel.” He continued, saying, “This was one of the largest engineering enterprises in the history of the State of Israel and I have directed that this team not be disbanded, but that it continue until the section in the area around Eilat is finished, which will occur in another few weeks, and even continue work along other borders, especially our border with Syria. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Dictator Assad Vows to Fight Al-Qaeda and 'Gang of Criminals'

January 6th 2013

Syria Pro-Assad demonstration

Syria's president has called for national mobilization to fight against rebels he says are "al-Qaida terrorists." Bashar al-Assad said on January 6 in his first speech in months that there is "no joy while security and stability are absent" on Syrian streets.

"I will go one day, but the country remains," said Assad, in his hour-long speech in which he referred repeatedly to plots against Syria and the role of al-Qaeda. The terrorist network has long been suspected as a leading element in the rebellion that began in March 2011. Syria was not facing a revolution but a "gang of criminals", said Assad. "We are now in a state of war in every sense of the word," the president told cheering supporters. "This war targets Syria using a handful of Syrians and many foreigners. Thus, this is a war to defend the nation."

This was Assad's first public speech since June 2012. In his last public appearance, in November 2012, he told Russian television that he would live and die in his native land.

Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

DHS Fails Again to Implement ID Card Protections

January 5th 2013

Eyeball Surveillance

Lost amid the scuffle of fiscal cliff negotiations and holiday preparations was the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) December 20 statement confirming that only 13 states were deemed REAL ID compliant and that the remaining states would receive another extension. Unfortunately, that means DHS isn’t sure whether 37 states are doing enough to safeguard their ID cards from costly fraud or terrorism-related abuse.

The REAL ID Act is almost eight years old, but due to multiple failures at DHS, it is still not fully implemented.

The act was passed in 2005 and follows the recommendation of the 9/11 Commission to secure U.S. identification cards from misuse. After all, 18 of the 9/11 hijackers had a total of 30 driver’s licenses and state-issued IDs between them, and they used six of those IDs to board their planes the morning of the attack.

The REAL ID Act created a voluntary program for states to follow a set of certain common criteria for state ID systems to meet in the areas of facial recognition, document authenticity, data sharing between states, card security, lawful status verification, and issuer integrity. If a state does not meet these standards, its IDs will not be accepted for federal purposes such as boarding a plane or gaining entry to a federal building.

Read more ..

Israel's Next War

Iran's Ability to Hit Back at Israel Limited

January 4th 2013

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Iran's ability to attack Israel has been compromised significantly in the past year, Israeli diplomats meeting in Jerusalem were told by Defense Ministry intelligence officials. According to the study by the officials, Iran's attempts to prop up Bashar al-Assad and the weakness of Hizbullah has taken a great toll in manpower and funds from the Islamic Republic.

The officials, quoted in Maariv, said that neither Syria nor Hizbullah are in any position to not only start a war with Israel, but would also be largely unable to respond on behalf of Iran in the event of an Israeli strike at Iran's nuclear facilities. Syria is too badly divided at this point to respond, and without the material support in men and weapons from Damascus, Hizbullah would be too feeble to respond effectively. Read more ..


Nigeria on Edge

New Details on Kamene Okonjo Kidnapping

January 3rd 2013

Nigeria

The Nigeria media is supplying new details on the December 10 kidnapping of the mother of Nigeria’s Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The media reports that the Minister’s family paid a ransom of between N10 to N11 million (U.S. $64 to $70 thousand), and that the kidnappers were an organized gang that numbered ten.

The minister has told the press that the kidnappers told her mother she had been kidnapped because of the minister’s policies concerning oil subsidy payments.  If the kidnappers were telling the truth, then the crime had a political dimension as well as a mercenary one.

According to the minister, the kidnappers complained about the government’s disbursement of fuel subsidy payments and about certain aspects of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P).  Both were outcomes of President Goodluck Jonathan’s effort to eliminate the popular petroleum subsidy in January 2012.  Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

UN Human Rights Office Says Over 60,000 Killed In Syria Conflict

January 2nd 2013

Corpses in Homs

Syrian activists say dozens of people have been killed by an air strike on a gas station in the outskirts of Damascus. Local residents said that they saw burning bodies and horrific scenes after the attack near the town of Maliha. According to activists, the attack sparked a huge explosion in which up to 70 people died. The deadly incident came hours after the United Nations human rights office released a new study, which suggests that more than 60,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict.
 
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the number of casualties was "much higher than we expected, and is truly shocking." The report, "Preliminary Statistical Analysis of Documentation of Killings in Syria," was commissioned by the United Nations. It took data from sources including the Syrian government and opposition groups.
Read more ..

Nigeria on Edge

Boko Haram and Nigeria's Pervasive Violence

January 1st 2013

Jos Nigeria violence

International security experts are watching Nigeria 's radical Islamist movement Boko Haram with concern. The militant group has destabilized northern Nigeria and attracted the attention of other jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda affiliates gaining strength in neighboring northern Mali. Boko Haram is highly diffuse. It has an important Islamic revival dimension, but also has political and criminal elements. Little is known about its leader, Abubakar Shekau, including his age, where he was born, or if he can speak English. The movement has issued no formal manifesto. Nevertheless, its various factions do share a common agenda of imposing and rigorously enforcing Islamic law in northern Nigeria; some even want to impose it throughout the country in areas where Christians are the majority. The group is bitterly hostile to the Christian-led secular government in the capital of Abuja, which it accuses of exploiting the poor. Its methods are violent and deadly, ranging from targeted killings to mass deaths resulting from car bombs. Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Iron Dome Significantly Improved Since Operation Pillar of Defense

January 1st 2013

Iron Dome

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system continues to improve, a fact Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza won’t be happy to hear. The news comes via the National Post, which interviewed a senior engineer with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Israeli company that developed Iron Dome.

“Soon,” writes the National Post,  “the engineer hopes, the system’s reliability will be limited only by the mechanical reliability of its various component parts. As long as the equipment works, they expect to hit their target every time.”

Israel’s recent conflict with Hamas was a perfect opportunity to work out the Iron Dome’s kinks. “We expected it to work perfectly,” the engineer told the National Post.“We knew it wouldn’t, of course. But we wanted it to work 100% of the time. And every day, we tried to make it better.” Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syria on Verge of Becoming a Failed State, Warns International Envoy

December 31st 2012

Syria fighting injured baby

Read more ..

The Edge of Law Enforcement

Lawsuits Against NYPD Soar

December 30th 2012

NYPD Terror Response

Lawsuits filed against the New York Police Department (NYPD) cost the city's taxpayers a record-high of $185.6 million in the fiscal year 2011 and the latest figures indicate a 35-percent increase over fiscal year 2010, according to New York City Comptroller John Liu in a special report. “Settlements [for all departments] have once again topped a half-billion dollars, underscoring a need for better risk management by City agencies to contain costs and save taxpayers’ money,” Comptroller Liu said. “My office continues to work with agencies to lower litigation costs, streamline processes, and learn from recent trends – while also dealing fairly with claimants seeking redress.”

The growing concern is the surge in claims against the New York Police Department, which had the highest claim costs of any agency. In FY 2011, the City settled $185.6 million in claims involving the NYPD, a 35-percent jump from the $137.3 million settled in FY 2010. “The surge in police-misconduct allegations and civil-rights claims against the NYPD is an alarm bell for the City. The trend can and must be stemmed and reversed with better risk management including training, clearer accountability, and the convening of a multi-disciplinary task force,” Comptroller Liu said. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Israel Redefines the Meaning of Victory in the New Mideast

December 29th 2012

Click to select Image

Senior Israeli officials have indicated this month that any round of future fighting with Hezbollah will make last month's Gaza conflict seem minor by comparison. Offense, not defense, is still preferred. Israel is redefining its concept of military victory in a Middle East dominated by terrorist organizations turned quasi-state actors.

Once, decisive, unmistakable victories, accompanied by conquests of territory that had been used to stage attacks against Israel, provided all parties concerned with a "knockout" image. Victory was seen by the Israel Defense Forces as a clear-cut event, which ended when the enemy raised a white flag. Today, however, the IDF considers this thinking out of date in the 21st century battle arenas of the region, where a terror organization such as Hamas will continue firing rockets into Israel right up until the last day of a conflict, and claim victory despite absorbing the majority of damages and casualties.

Today, the goal of seizing control of the enemy's turf is seen as a short-term initiative, and assuming long-term control and responsibility for hostile populations is a highly unpopular development among strategic planners, who now argue that this should be avoided wherever possible. For decades, the IDF has been facing irregular asymmetric terrorist organizations which can change form, melt away and reform according to their needs. Read more ..


The Congo on Edge

Armed DRC Militias Plague Country with Rampant Rapes and Abductions

December 29th 2012

Congo rape victim

Thousands of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are at extreme risk of sexual violence, kidnapping and being forced to join armed militias, according to aid agencies. The recent upsurge in conflict in the eastern part of the country has led to many families being separated as they flee the violence - and aid workers are trying to reunite lost children with their parents before it’s too late,

A Family Seperated
When rebels attacked their village, siblings Imani, Anicet, Baraka and Kibonge - who is just four years old - were forced to flee into the surrounding forests. Their parents were out getting food. When their mother Josephine returned, the children were gone. She spoke with representatives of the aid agency Save the Children and describes her despair.
 “I was scared that hunger and disease would strike them," she explains. "Because they were alone and had nowhere to go, I was so worried that they could be affected by all the evil things around.” Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Two Alleged Terrorists Extradited from Canada to Brooklyn by DOJ

December 29th 2012

Tamil Tigers
Tamil Tigers

Two alleged operatives of the Sri Lanka-based terrorist group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a designated foreign terrorist organization popularly referred to as the Tamil Tigers, were arraigned Thursday before United States Magistrate Judge Lois Bloom at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, N.Y., following their extradition from Canada.

In 1997, the LTTE was designated by the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and therefore may not legally raise money or procure equipment or materials in the United States.

Piratheepan Nadarajah, 36, was charged with conspiring and attempting to acquire $1 million worth of anti-aircraft missiles, missile launchers, and other military equipment and conspiring and attempting to provide material support to the LTTE. Meanwhile, Suresh Sriskandarajah, 32, was charged with conspiring to provide material support to the LTTE and dealing in the property of a specially designated terrorist group. Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Israel Redefines Victory in the New Middle East

December 29th 2012

Exhausted Israeli Soldier

Senior Israeli officials have indicated this month that any round of future fighting with Hezbollah will make last month's Gaza conflict seem minor by comparison. Offense, not defense, is still preferred.

Israel is redefining its concept of military victory in a Middle East dominated by terrorist organizations turned quasi-state actors.

Once, decisive, unmistakable victories, accompanied by conquests of territory that had been used to stage attacks against Israel, provided all parties concerned with a "knockout" image. Victory was seen by the Israel Defense Forces as a clear-cut event, which ended when the enemy raised a white flag. Today, however, the IDF considers this thinking out of date in the 21st century battle arenas of the region, where a terror organization such as Hamas will continue firing rockets into Israel right up until the last day of a conflict, and claim victory despite absorbing the majority of damages and casualties. Read more ..


Edging Toward the Fiscal Cliff

Budget Writers At Pentagon Move Forward Despite Spending Threat

December 28th 2012

B2 Momber Kitty Hawk

The Pentagon is pretending the threat of the “fiscal cliff” doesn’t exist when it comes to the Defense Department’s 2014 budget.

Budget planners are preparing their 2014 budget as if lawmakers will avoid the spending cuts known as sequestration that are scheduled to hit the Pentagon in January.

“We are still hopeful that Congress will pass a balanced deficit reduction plan that the president can sign, and sequestration is averted,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins said. The likelihood of the cuts has grown in the last week, with the White House and congressional Republicans unable to work out a combination of spending cuts, tax hikes and entitlement reforms that both sides can agree upon. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Hamas Moves More Launchers Underground

December 27th 2012

Rocket Fajr-5
Fajr-5 Launchers

The Hamas regime has built bunkers to store and launch medium-range rockets toward Israel. A leading Israeli defense consultant asserted that Hamas and Islamic Jihad adopted methods of the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah. The consultant, Uzi Rubin, said the Hamas regime built underground launchers to fire extended-range BM-21 Grad rockets toward Israeli cities during the latest war in November 2012.

"The Gaza fighting may also be a harbinger of wars to come," Rubin told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "Hamas military doctrine, with its focus on rockets and missiles, is a reflection of Iran's military doctrine, so any future war in the Gulf will likely unfold along similar lines."

In an address on Dec. 18, Rubin, who helped found the Israel Missile Defense Organization, asserted that Hamas and Jihad fired Grads from underground launchers located in residential areas of the Gaza Strip. He said the Grads, with a range of more than 40 kilometers, were fired from electronically-raised launchers similar to that employed by Hizbullah in its 2006 war with Israel.

Read more ..

Egypt's Second Revolution

Morsi Sprung from Jail by Hamas and Hezbollah Contacts, Says Mubarek Attorney

December 27th 2012

Morsi

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi gained release from prison during the Egyptian revolution because of his connections to Hamas and Hezbollah according to the lawyer of Hosni Mubarak.The lawyer was being interviewed for an Egyptian broadcast that aired Sunday. Israeli daily Maariv first reported on the story Wednesday.

According to the lawyer, the testimony of Omar Suleiman, who served as the head of Egyptian intelligence until being named as Hosni Mubarak’s Vice President during the revolution that ultimately toppled his government, indicated that Morsi was arrested during the protests due to suspicions that he was inciting against the government. In a military operation, members of al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, and activists affiliated with Hezbollah breached the prison where he was being held and he along with other senior officials were freed. Read more ..


South Korea on Edge

US to Sell South Korea Spy Drones

December 26th 2012

 The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper

The Obama administration has formally proposed the sale of advanced spy drones to South Korea, in a push to boost the Seoul government's ability to protect itself from attacks by the heavily-militarized North.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement that it has officially notified Congress of the proposed $1.2 billion deal for four high-altitude Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft, as well as training and logistical support. Analysts say congressional approval is likely. Brad Glosserman, an analyst with an Hawaii-based security research group, said the South's new drone program will fill a gap in its ability to monitor security developments in North Korea.

"Rather than relying on human intelligence on the ground, which in North Korea is extremely difficult, or satellite intelligence, which is essentially dependent on the ability to put a bird in the air and get it over your targets at the appropriate time. You know absent that, the South Koreans are blind," said Glosserman. Read more ..


Edging Toward the Fiscal Cliff

Time Running Out to Avoid Defense Sequestration

December 25th 2012

Apache Helicopters

The clock has all but run out on the defense industry's efforts to stave off billions in looming budget cuts under sequestration. At the Pentagon, administration officials have given Defense Department number crunchers the green light to begin planning for the $500 billion in budget cuts set to go into effect in January. Weeks of intense, last-minute negotiations between Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Barack Obama on a potential deal to avoid January’s “fiscal cliff” of looming tax hikes and automatic spending cuts appeared to come to an unceremonious end last Thursday. 

After a furious effort to draw GOP support for his "Plan B" tax proposal, the Ohio Republican was forced to pull his bill from the floor, unable to secure the 218 votes needed for passage. Boehner's defeat at the hands of his own party draws the curtain on a multimillion-dollar campaign by top defense industry lobbyists and interest groups to gin up opposition to the sequestration plan.  Read more ..

The Defense Edge

What Happened to $200M in Gas Receipts for NATO in Afghanistan

December 24th 2012

Afgan Police

The multinational NATO force in Afghanistan has declared that it spent more than $200 million to buy fuel for the Afghan Army in 2010 and 2011, but cannot locate any documents to substantiate the expense or show precisely where the money went, according to a special report by a government watchdog on Dec. 20.

As a result, the U.S. government is unable to “account for $201 million” worth of fuel purchases, said Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko, in a letter alerting two members of Congress to the missing documentation.

The letter is a follow-up to a warning by Sopko in September that coalition force personnel in Afghanistan had improperly shredded fuel purchase records that covered a five-year period, blocking the ability of auditors to assess how much fuel was actually used by the Afghani army and how much might have been lost or stolen.

Read more ..

Palestine on Edge

Hamas Plans To take Over the West Bank

December 24th 2012

Khaled Meshal kisses Gaza

Hamas is preparing for a possible takeover of the West Bank the UK’s Sunday Times is reporting. The Times cites a report by Aman, Israel’s military intelligence service, that Hamas chief Khaled Meshal has ordered sleeper cells to prepare for a struggle to take control of the territory.

Military intelligence reports that there are strong indications Iran is encouraging Hamas to replace the more moderate Fatah, led by Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority. The article claims that the broken ties between Iran and Hamas that resulted from the latter’s refusal to back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been restored as Iran has accepted Assad’s weakened position as a reality. Read more ..


Mali on Edge

Extremist Mali Muslims Destroy More Timbuktu Mausoleums

December 23rd 2012

Tourag at Timbuktu

Islamist militants are tearing down more ancient mausoleums in the northern Malian city of Timbuktu. Witnesses and tourism officials say rebels from the Ansar Dine group began destroying the mausoleums Sunday with pickaxes. The militants destroyed several mausoleums in the city in July, after the U.N. cultural agency, UNESCO, put Timbuktu on its list of sites that are in danger.

UNESCO has listed Timbuktu as a World Heritage site for its ancient mosques and shrines, some of which date back to the 15th century. The sites are revered by many Muslims but Ansar Dine considers them sacrilegious. Ansar Dine is one of three militant groups that seized control of northern Mali earlier this year, after renegade soldiers overthrew the government. Read more ..


Benghazigate

Surveillance Cameras Still in Boxes at Benghazi Mission

December 23rd 2012

libya-consulate

The deaths of four Americans in Benghazi on Sept. 11, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, stemmed from systemic shortcomings in the State Department’s handling of diplomatic security, according to an independent review ordered by the department and published this week.

These included a failure by the department to anticipate the gravity of the security threat, and a failure to have adequate forces in place or in a position to rush to the Benghazi mission during the attack that unfolded during Amb. Chris Steven’s visit there.

But they also stemmed from some fairly prosaic failures at the mission itself, according to a less-noticed portion of the department’s report. The attack unfolded quickly, but it was a surprise to those inside partly because an additional set of surveillance cameras “remained in boxes uninstalled” and a camera in the guard booth at the main gate “was inoperable on the day of the attacks, a repair which also awaited the arrival of a technical team.”

Read more ..

Mexico on Edge

U.S. Marine Released from Mexican Custody

December 22nd 2012

Prison bars

Former U.S. Marine Jon Hammar is set to be released by Mexican authorities on Friday, after unreleting pressure from American lawmakers on local authorities to hand over the Iraq and Afghan war vet. American officials secured Hammar's freedom when the judge presiding over his illegal weapons possession case in Mexico found the U.S. citizen not guilty and ordered his release, Hammar's mother Olivia told Fox News.  Hammar has been incarcerated in a detention facility in the northeast Mexican state of Tamaulipas since his arrest by Mexican authorities in August for attempting to bring a firearm across the U.S.-Mexico border. 

The former Marine, who sufferers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to multiple combat tours in Southwest Asia, was heading into Mexico as part of a surfing trip with a fellow Marine Corps veteran when he was arrested.  Read more ..



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