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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 ..


The Edge of Film

CIA Avers 'Zero Dark Thirty' Isn't a Documentary Film

December 22nd 2012

Click to select Image

The head of the Central Intelligence Agency sent a memo to CIA employees on Friday informing them that the new movie "Zero Dark Thirty," about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, "is not a documentary."

"The film takes significant artistic license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate," CIA Acting Director Michael Morell wrote. The film, by director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, has already achieved both Oscar predictions and controversy in Congress. The movie depicts the international search for the al Qaeda leader, highlighting one CIA analyst. It ends with the successful Navy SEAL raid of bin Laden's compound that resulted in his death in May, 2011. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Jordan Warns that Syria will Become a "Black Hole" for al-Qaeda

December 21st 2012

Syrian Jihadis

Senior Jordanian officials have expressed their concern that Syria could become a magnet for Jihadists from across the globe once Bashar al-Assad falls and they’re warning that their country and Israel could be the terrorists’ next targets.

In an article published by Haaretz, senior Jordanian officials are quoted  as saying Syria could become  a “black hole that sucks Jihadists from around the world.”  As evidence, the Jordanians point to an incident two months ago in which their intelligence service was able to thwart a plan to attack shopping centers and Western embassies in Jordan. The cell planning the terror operation consisted of 11 Jordanian Salafists who had assembled in Syria and were working under the aegis of Al-Qaeda. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Hezbollah Ready for Battle, Warns Israeli Air Force

December 20th 2012

Jet Fighter

Israel's Air Force (IAF) chief warned Wednesday that the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah was preparing to battle the Jewish State. The terrorist group leaders are blaming Israel for a mysterious blast that leveled a Hezbollah-owned weapons warehouse in southern Lebanon. The facility reportedly contained long-range missiles capable of striking targets throughout Israel and the most of the Middle East, said the source who is a former U.S. police official.

"Anyone who goes to sleep with rockets needs to understand that it is a very unsafe place," Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said, according to Israel National Radio. Read more ..


Pakistan on Edge

Pakistani Taliban Get Mixed Results from Raid on Peshawar Air Base

December 20th 2012

Pakistani Taliban

The Pakistani Taliban continue to undermine Pakistan's government and military establishment, and in doing so, they continue to raise questions over the security of the country's nuclear arsenal. On Dec. 15, 10 militants armed with suicide vests and grenades attacked Peshawar Air Force Base, the site of a third major operation by the Pakistani Taliban since May 2011. Tactically, the attack was relatively unsuccessful -- all the militants were killed, and the perimeter of the air base was not breached -- but the Pakistani Taliban nonetheless achieved their objective.

The attack began the night of Dec. 15 with a volley of three to five mortar shells. As the shells were fired, militants detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device near the perimeter wall of the air base. Reports indicate that all five militants inside the vehicle were killed. The other five militants engaged security forces in a nearby residential area and eventually were driven back before they could enter the air base. The next day, security forces acting on a report of suspicious activity confronted the militants, who all died in the resultant shootout. Read more ..


Mexico on Edge

Mexico's New President Unleashes Strategy Against Narco-Terrorism

December 19th 2012

Mexican soldiers on the march

Newly elected Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto announced on Monday his new security and public safety strategy, which "focuses on the transformation of law enforcement institutions and crime prevention." Pena Nieto took office on Dec. 1, 2012, in a tough campaign that candidates had to run while in the midst of economic turmoil and rampant crime, especially homicides committed by the bloodthirsty cartels.

"Not a week goes by without Mexican police or the military discovering yet another mass grave," said Joseph Listron, a criminologist and crime scene investigator. "Mexico's crime and violence are detrimental to any desire to become a prosperous nation." Pena Nieto promised that he will order 10,000-strong militarized police force known as the national gendarmerie to be created. The military would continue to patrol Mexico's streets until the gendarmerie is ready to take over, but the Mexican people will soon see an end to soldiers in their neighborhoods. Read more ..


Mexico on Edge

The Growing Presence of Hezbollah Terrorists in Mexico

December 19th 2012

Enrique Pena Nieto

A day after Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s inauguration, opposition leaders met with the new leader to sign the “Pact for Mexico”, a bipartisan agreement to increase economic cooperation and improve the stability in a country notorious for its violent drug war and devastating corruption.

The current plague of instability in Mexico appears to have attracted transnational criminal and terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, which should be of paramount concern for President Peña Nieto. Hezbollah’s presence would further indicate a disturbing degree of instability in Mexico, which would undermine economic and social developments.

Hezbollah has been reportedly operating for over a decade in some of South America’s most corrupt and violent regions. However, a series of arrests, coupled with the discovery of an international money-laundering scheme in Mexico, has led some to claim that Hezbollah has now established a foothold in the country. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Growth of Al-Qaida in Syria Increases Chances of Chemical Weapons Attack in Europe

December 18th 2012

Syrian Chemical Weapons

Joby Warrick, The Washington Post’s correspondent who specializes in intelligence, wrote a story on Dec. 3 about how the Syrian rebellion was already spilling over and having an impact on neighboring countries. He focused in particular on Jordan. According to interviews he conducted, last month Jordanian security forces arrested 11 men and thus foiled a massive planned terrorist attack in the heart of Amman.

The Amman attack was supposed to begin with suicide bombings at two shopping malls to be followed by strikes against luxury hotels used by Westerners. But the main target in Amman was the U.S. Embassy, which was to be assaulted with mortar shells. Most of the suspects captured were Jordanian Salafists, who fought in Syria, which served as their new training ground. Moreover, the same explosives that were to be used in the Amman attacks were found in Syria as well.

But the key player orchestrating many operations in Syria, and also now in Jordan, was the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida. It had been incorrectly assumed that al-Qaida had been vanquished in 2007 by General David Petraeus during the surge of U.S. forces in Iraq. Recent events in Syria and Jordan demonstrate that it has been rehabilitating itself. Read more ..


Pakistan on Edge

Five Anti-Polio Volunteers Killed In Pakistan

December 18th 2012

Taliban in Pakistan

Five polio vaccination workers in Pakistan have been shot dead in the past day and a half, prompting a suspension of the program in the area around the country's biggest city, Karachi.

Karachi police official Amanull Marwa stated that unknown attackers killed two female volunteers in the Gulshan Bonir area of Karachi on December 18. Police said another female volunteer was killed in the town of Awrangki near Karachi the same day and a male coworker was wounded. The UN said a fourth female polio campaign worker in the Karachi area was killed on December 17. Sindh Province Health Minister Saghir Ahmad told Radio Mashaal the three-day polio vaccination campaign in the province, which was in its second day, has been suspended.

The 24,000 workers taking part in the campaign there were told to cease their activities. There are also reports of a woman involved in the polio vaccination program being shot dead in the northwest town of Peshawar on December 18. Senior police official Mohmand Khan said the attack happened in the Mathra suburb of Peshawar. Read more ..


The US and Mexico

The U.S. Fiscal Cliff Offers Opportunity for Reciprocity with Mexico

December 17th 2012

Enrique Pena Nieto
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto

The economy in the United States is currently in turmoil, as evident by the “fiscal cliff” negotiations that may result in an overall tax adjustment. As such, a stronger bi-lateral trade relationship with Mexico might turn out to be a vital factor in the restoration of the U.S. economy in the months to come. President Obama’s relentless efforts to find a solution to the deficit problem may be more productively directed towards a collaborative relationship with newly elected Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto. This revived North American relationship between the two leaders, tied together by increasing cross-border trade, has the potential to mutually stimulate both the United States and Mexican economies.

However, as the Mexican economy continues to rise, it is likely that powerful Mexican drug cartels, along with perpetuated violence and corrupt public officials associated with these criminal organizations, could witness a concurrent expansion as well. Read more ..


The Weapon's Edge

A Thinking Liquid--Swarms of Tiny Bots Developed for Air or Sea Launch

December 16th 2012

Jets vapor trail

University of Colorado Boulder Assistant Professor Nikolaus Correll likes to think in multiples. If one robot can accomplish a singular task, think how much more could be accomplished if you had hundreds of them.

Correll and his computer science research team, including research associate Dustin Reishus and professional research assistant Nick Farrow, have developed a basic robotic building block, which he hopes to reproduce in large quantities to develop increasingly complex systems.

Recently the team created a swarm of 20 robots, each the size of a pingpong ball, which they call “droplets.” When the droplets swarm together, Correll said, they form a “liquid that thinks.” To accelerate the pace of innovation, he has created a lab where students can explore and develop new applications of robotics with basic, inexpensive tools. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Scud Missile Strikes in Syria--The Implications

December 14th 2012

Syria fighting injured baby

The Assad regime's use of Scud missiles over the past several days represents a dramatic escalation in its war against the rebels, with deep military, psychological, and political implications for the Syrian people. More urgently for Washington, the Scud strikes have come just as the United States is finally recognizing the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC) -- the latest indication that events on the ground are rapidly outpacing U.S. policy, and that Washington should revisit its redlines.

EFFECTS OF SCUD ATTACKS

Scud missiles can deliver a 1,000-pound high-explosive warhead or a chemical agent. Although they are not very accurate, there is no effective way for the regime's opponents to stop them. Assad's longer-range Scuds, the C and D types, can reach most if not all of Syria from the Damascus area, where the major Scud garrisons are located. Scuds also create surprise and shock. The rebels have no means of knowing when the missiles have been fired, where they are going, or what kinds of warheads are onboard. In fact, even with good intelligence collection, there is no reliable way to know which Scuds have been uploaded with chemical warheads. The regime's decision to deploy the missiles therefore crosses another threshold, reducing potential warning time for more Scud launches and posing a greater threat to Syria's neighbors, particularly Turkey and Israel. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Is Boko Haram More Dangerous Than Ever?

December 13th 2012

Boko Haram

On Nov. 25, Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group from northern Nigeria, attacked a church in Jaji, Kaduna state, using two suicide bombers during the church's weekly religious service. The first bomb detonated in a vehicle driven into the church, and the second detonated approximately 10 minutes later, when a crowd of first responders gathered at the scene. About 30 people were killed in the attacks; the second blast caused the majority of the deaths. The incident was particularly symbolic because Jaji is the home of Nigeria's Armed Forces Command and Staff College, and many of the churchgoers were senior military officers.

In the wake of the Jaji attacks, media reports quoted human rights groups saying that Boko Haram has killed more people in 2012 than ever before. The group has killed roughly 770 people this year, leading many to conclude that Boko Haram has become more dangerous. Read more ..


Obama and Egypt

US Sends Egypt 20 F-16 Warplanes

December 13th 2012

F15 in Afghanistan

Egypt’s increasingly unstable Muslim Brotherhood regime, voted into power on an anti-US and anti-Israel platform, is about to receive 20 F-16 fighters jets despite calls to suspend arms sales to Cairo, Fox News reported Tuesday. The jets were ordered by deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and the Muslim Brotherhood is about to take over the inheritance. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, swept into power earlier this year on an Islamic campaign that promised reforms, has turned the Arab Spring revolution on its end by trying to usurp power. He has deployed armed soldiers and police to quell angry riots that have raised fears of a repeat of the violent suppression of anti-Mubarak protesters nearly two years ago.

Despite the instability, the United States is going ahead with the delivery of the F-16 jets, part of a two-year-old order for the planes. The first four jets are to be delivered January 22,  according to a source at the Texas air base where the planes are being tested. The date, by coincidence, is the same day that Israelis will vote for the next Knesset. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Strikes Makes Patriot Deployment more Urgent

December 12th 2012

Syrian explosion

NATO preparations to defend Turkey from potential Syrian attacks may find new urgency as Damascus begins to use missiles against Syrian rebels across the Turkish border.

U.S. officials on Wednesday said Syrian troops fired Scud missiles at opposition forces for the first time in recent days, marking an escalation of longtime President Bashar al-Assad's fight against a 21-month rebellion.

Turkey has long feared that an increasingly desperate Assad government may resort to striking Turkish targets with its Russian-designed missiles and warplanes, in retaliation for Ankara's hosting and support of Syrian rebels and refugees. IHS Jane's analyst Ben Goodlad says Syria has about 550 Scud missiles with a range of up to 800 kilometers. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Women Increasingly Recruited by al-Qaeda in Iraq

December 12th 2012

Baghdad Women

While considered a religious taboo in Islam to involve women in combat, al-Qaeda in Iraq is using every means possible to recruit women to help the terrorist group make a noticeable resurgence in the nation's Sunni Arab strongholds, according to a report in the India Times on Monday. With the Iraqi forces and the U.S. troops in the past years fiercely fighting al-Qaeda terrorists, they successfully pushed them out of their strongholds. But now, al-Qaeda extremists are coming up with other ways to penetrate the current Iraqi security measures.

Al-Qaeda is working hard to increase the role of women in its terrorist activities. They know that they are using unethical means to recruit women, in addition to their using the widows of their former members and their female relatives, say experts. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

Military's Mystery Mini-Shuttle Launched on new Mission

December 12th 2012

NASA X-37B

A sized-down and top-secret version of NASA's space shuttle was shot into orbit Tuesday on an undisclosed mission. It is the third such mission for the militarty's mini-shuttle. The Associated Press colorfully reported: "The Air Force launched the unmanned spacecraft Tuesday hidden on top of an Atlas V rocket. As if on cue, clouds quickly swallowed up the rocket as it disappeared out over the ocean. It is the second flight for this original X-37B spaceplane. The craft circled the planet for seven months in 2010. A second X-37B spacecraft spent more than a year in orbit. These high-tech mystery machines -- 29 feet long -- are about one-quarter the size of NASA's old space shuttles and can land automatically on a runway. The two previous touchdowns occurred in Southern California; this one might end on NASA's three-mile-long runway once reserved for the space agency's shuttles. The military isn't saying much if anything about this new secret mission known as OTV-3, or Orbital Test Vehicle, flight No. 3. In fact, launch commentary ended 17 minutes into the flight and a news blackout followed." Read more ..



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