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The Edge of Terrorism

Somali Security Forces 'Evict' Al Shabaab from Biggest Town

December 10th 2012

al-Shabaab

Somali and African Union security forces drove members of a powerful Islamic terrorist group out of the town of Jowhar on Sunday, according to a report from a counterterrorism expert in Israel.

The government and AU troops surprisingly encountered little or no resistance from the members of Al Shabaab who retreated from Jowar, said the Israeli source who monitors Islamist groups in North Africa.

Until Sunday, Jowhar had been the largest town under the control of Al Shabaab Islamists. Although the al-Qaeda affiliated group has retreated most urban areas since the African Union first began assisting the Somali forces two years ago, Al Shabaab still controls many rural areas of the country. Jowhar, which is 55 miles north of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, has access to Somalia's biggest road linking the southern and central regions of the country. The Somali government claims this latest Islamist retreat is a major victory for the struggling Somali government. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Israel will Take Action if Assad gives Hezbollah Chemical Weapons

December 10th 2012

Missiles on jet

Michael Oren, Israel's Ambassador to the United States, confirmed on Sunday that Israel will act if Syria sends its chemical weapons arsenal out of the country, especially Lebanon. Rumors have been flying since Saturday that Syrian President Bashar Assad, beleaguered by an ongoing civil war, either has or is planning to hand his chemical weapons over to his ally Hezbollah, a fundamentalist terror group that effectively controls southern Lebanon. "Were those weapons to pass into the wrong hands," Oren told Fox News, "into Hezbollah's hands, for example, that would be a game changer for us."

President Barack Obama has already made it clear that he will not allow Syria to employ chemical weapons without retaliation. There has been growing concern that this may happen, as the Syrian civil war is going badly for Assad, and there is fear that he may deploy his weapons of mass destruction as a last resort. Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

Netanyahu Accuses Hamas of Calling for Israel’s ‘Destruction’

December 9th 2012

Bibi arguing

Last month’s deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip may be over, but the war of words continues. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted the Islamic militant group Hamas, accusing its leader of calling for Israel's destruction at a mass rally Saturday in Gaza.

Speaking at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said Israel's Palestinian enemies have proven once again that they are not interested in compromise.

He was referring to comments by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who returned to Gaza on Friday after 45 years of exile. At a rally marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, Meshaal vowed Hamas would fight until all of Palestine, including the territory of the State of Israel, is liberated from the Jews. He reiterated this position at speech Sunday in Gaza. There will be “no concessions on a single inch of Palestine,” he declared. He said armed struggle would continue until the liberation of Jerusalem. Read more ..


The Battle Syria

Pentagon Drafting Plans to Strike Syrian Chemical Weapons

December 9th 2012

USAF Desert Storm

Senior U.S. defense officials are drafting plans for a potential preemptive strike against government forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, prompted by concerns over the country's chemical weapon stockpiles. While information on the specific status of those weapons remains extremely fluid, recent U.S. intelligence showed Assad's forces outfitting air-to-ground bombs with sarin gas at two airfields in Syria, according to CNN. That latest development spurred on the Pentagon's latest strategic assessment of its military options in the country, according to several Defense Department officials. 

"The more information and intelligence you have, the more clarity you can bring to options you may decide to use," a department official told CNN on Friday. "You would expect new information like this to drive an update of options," the official said.  Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Threatens Aerial Freedom of Navigation in the Gulf

December 8th 2012

Iran Missiles

Last month, Iranian jets intercepted and fired on an unarmed U.S. drone aircraft in international airspace. And this week, Tehran displayed what it claims is a captured U.S. Navy ScanEagle drone, a charge Washington flatly denies. These Iranian actions and rhetoric demonstrate a growing anti-U.S. campaign with drones as the cause celebre. For now, Washington has opted not to retaliate for the November incident, but it needs to ensure that the confrontation does not become a precedent that limits U.S. aerial freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf. The United States must preserve its patrolling rights, particularly in light of Iran's threat to regional shipping and apparent desire to pursue nuclear weapons. Given the short range from Iranian ports to major commercial maritime lanes, the ability to quickly detect any provocative naval preparations is paramount. If aerial surveillance and intelligence collection were rerouted further away from the Iranian border, coalition forces would face a severe intelligence gap in detecting the regime's offensive military preparations or, worse yet, suspected nuclear activity. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Obama Will Strike Iran if Necessary say Three former Presidential Advisors

December 7th 2012

B-2 Bomber

Three former presidential advisors from both the Left and Right told a New York audience on Thursday that they believe U.S. President Barack Obama will take military action against Iran if sanctions fail.

The three officials: Dennis Ross, Elliott Abrams, and James Jeffrey, have advised both liberal and conservative presidents, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama himself. They registered their votes of confidence at a banquet held by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. It was Jeffrey who gave the strongest endorsement, as the Times of Israel reports, he said that, while Obama prefers diplomacy, if it fails "I think that we’re going to strike."

Sometime in 2013, he said, Iran will have enough enriched uranium to begin work on a bomb, and if they are "actually on the threshold, as Obama said during the campaign, then the president is going to take military action." Ross seconded this assessment, saying that "I think there’s the stomach in this administration, and this president" for a military strike on Iran. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

How Would Assad Use Chemical Weapons?

December 6th 2012

Syrian Chemical Weapons

U.S. intelligence has detected increased activity at Syrian chemical warfare facilities, raising concerns about the regime potentially using chemical weapons (CW) against the opposition. Although such an action would likely only be carried out in extremis, Bashar al-Assad and his cohorts are approaching that very status. Given the regime’s lack of regard for the casualties it has already inflicted and the value it places on its own survival above all else, the United States must prepare for the growing possibility of CW use in Syria.

After twenty months of internal war, the regime is in an increasingly difficult military situation. It suffered substantial reverses in November, losing territory, positions, troops, and equipment, including combat aircraft. The fighting capacity of its forces appears to be diminishing, and its standard tactic of bombing and shelling opposition areas, primarily civilian, is becoming less effective and more costly due to rebel antiaircraft fire and other tactics. As a result, pressure is undoubtedly rising within the regime to take different and more effective action—that has been the pattern for Damascus since the emergence of armed opposition in summer 2011. Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

Operation Pillar of Defense: An Initial Strategic and Military Assessment

December 6th 2012

Iron Dome

Israel’s achievements in Operation Pillar of Defense include its ability to surprise Hamas, kill its military leader, and destroy most of its strategic assets. The performance of the Iron Dome anti-missile system and Israel’s civilian defense also proved impressive. An important gain for Israel is a reduced fear of repercussions in the aftermath of an attack on Iran. The operation in Gaza also proved Israel’s determination to act forcefully in the post “Arab Spring” environment. However, the lack of a ground offensive allowed Hamas to craft a victory narrative and the potential to re-arm. The next round is only a matter of time.

Israel’s declared objectives in Operation Pillar of Defense were limited: to cripple Hamas’ military capabilities, restore its deterrence, and return quiet to the communities of the South. The operation ended with a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt, with US involvement. While the details of the agreement are still vague, it is possible to offer an initial assessment of the achievements and shortcomings of the operation. As history in the region indicates, the facts on the ground dictate reality more than any agreements signed on paper. Read more ..


Israel and Lebanon

The Rise of the Salafis in Lebanon: A New Sunni-Shiite Battlefield

December 5th 2012

Hezbollah rally

Since the beginning of the rebellion against Bashar Assad, Lebanon has been absorbing the shock waves resulting from the disintegration of the Alawite regime in Syria. As the Syrian war has evolved into an ongoing war and becomes a Sunni-Shiite conflict, there is little doubt that Lebanon could be the first in a series of countries in the region to find sectarianism once again at its doorstep. Indeed, the crisis in Syria has turned into a civil war where the two main contenders are fighting for supremacy: the Sunni majority is trying to gain back power from the Alawite minority that has ruled Syria since the late 1960s.

The rebellion in Syria and the direct involvement of the Lebanese Shiite Hizbullah militia on the side of the regime against the Sunni rebels has ignited a sense of solidarity among the Sunni community in Lebanon that has translated into their active involvement in the fighting in Syria. Read more ..


The Nuclear Edge

Radio Telescopes can Spot Clandestine Nuclear Tests

December 5th 2012

RBSPs deploy solar panels

In the search for rogue nukes, researchers have discovered an unlikely tool: astronomical radio telescopes. Ohio State University researchers previously demonstrated another unlikely tool, when they showed that South Korean GPS stations detected telltale atmospheric disturbances from North Korea's 2009 nuclear test. Both techniques were born out of the discovery that underground nuclear explosions leave their mark—on the outer reaches of Earth's atmosphere.

Now, working with astronomers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), they have analyzed historical data from the Very Large Array (VLA), a constellation of 27 radio telescopes near Socorro, New Mexico—and discovered that the VLA recorded a very similar pattern of disturbances during the last two American underground nuclear tests, which took place in Nevada in 1992. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Israeli Intelligence Official: Border With Syria Will Soon be “the Hottest Border in Israel”

December 5th 2012

Rebel fighters

A senior Israeli intelligence official has told Israel’s Channel 2 that soon the country’s border with Syria will be “the hottest border in Israel,” even more dangerous and active than those shared with Egypt and Gaza. According to the source, as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s holdout against opposition rebel forces appears to slowly be coming to an end, the expectation of attacks against Israel from extremist groups who have been massing weapons along the border will rise.

“Currently what keeps the Assad regime in power is the Syrian Air Force,” said the source. “Fighter jets and helicopter attacks” have prevented the rebels from winning the war. ” The problem,” the source says, “is that recently the Syrian Air Force has been losing one to two planes a day and they can not keep pace with attrition like that. The collapse of the Syrian Air Force would lead to the outright collapse of the government.” Read more ..


The North Korean Threat

North Korea Ignores Warnings, Prepares Rocket Launch

December 4th 2012

North Korean Rocket

North Korea appears to be moving ahead with preparations to launch a long-range rocket, despite international condemnation. South Korean media quoted government officials saying Tuesday that North Korea is preparing the second and third stages of its launch vehicle at the Tongchang-ri facility. Pyongyang says it plans to launch the three-stage rocket between December 10 and 22. It says the launch is aimed at placing a satellite into orbit. Its neighbors and much of the rest of the world have warned against the launch, saying it is really a disguised missile test banned under U.N. sanctions.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday he is “seriously concerned” about the launch, saying it would raise tension in the region. Ban called on Pyongyang to reconsider its decision and halt all activities related to its ballistic missile program. North Korea’s main ally China also added increasing diplomatic pressure, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei warning Pyongyang to “act prudently” and not take steps to escalate the situation. On 3 December, Moscow also urged a cancellation.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Cho Tai-young said he hopes China will keep the pressure on North Korea. “Especially with regard to the Korean peninsula issue, China is a nation that is very closely involved,” he noted. “In that matter we look forward to China playing an active role in maintaining and improving the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.” Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

Iron Dome Sparks Interest from Potential Buyers around the World

December 3rd 2012

Iron Dome

Following the Iron Dome missile defense system’s success in last month’s conflict with Hamas, several nations have expressed interest in purchasing the Israeli-created and American-funded system, The New York Times reported on November 29. While experts note that Iron Dome has limitations—it was designed to intercept unsophisticated rockets with a range of less than 50 miles—countries such as South Korea and Singapore have reportedly been in discussions to purchase the system.

Some South Korean officials believe Iron Dome could defend its populated areas near the border with North Korea, according to Times.

Anti-missile defense advocates in the U.S. are also urging the military to consider Iron Dome for the defense of ground units such as those deployed in Afghanistan, the report said. “I think the successes of Iron Dome create a pretty big opening,” Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance Chairman Riki Ellison was quoted as saying. Read more ..


Iran’s Nukes

Iran Says Attack Cannot Stop Uranium Enrichment

December 2nd 2012

Iran Nuclear Equipment

Iran says a military attack will not prevent it from enriching uranium. In Vienna on November 30, Iranian Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali Asghar Soltanieh told journalists that Iran would rebuild any enrichment centrifuges destroyed in an attack. “Of course, all centrifuges would be replaced because we have the technology know-how and we can make them ourselves,” Soltanieh said. “Therefore, even a military attack cannot stop enrichment in Iran.” He made the comments after a meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors. Soltanieh said Iran had mastered uranium enrichment and would “never, ever give it up.”

Earlier, he demanded that the IAEA close its investigation into allegations Tehran has a military dimension to its nuclear program, saying that Tehran had already answered all concerns about its nuclear activities. Soltanieh said the agency had found no “smoking gun” and that the IAEA’s continued interest in investigations was driven solely by Western governments, particularly the United States. The ambassador’s remarks could dampen hopes that the IAEA and Iran can agree on December 13 when they meet in Tehran to discuss IAEA demands that Iran be more forthcoming about its nuclear program. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Iraq Reportedly A Major Weapons Route to Syria

December 2nd 2012

Free Syrian Army fighters

A report says the air corridor over Iraq has become a main supply route for weapons for the beleaguered government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The New York Times, in a story posted on its website late Saturday, said the American effort to stem the flow of Iranian arms to Syria has faltered because of Iraq's reluctance to inspect aircraft carrying the weapons through its airspace. The newspaper says the weapons include rockets, antitank missiles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.

The report, which cites anonymous U.S. officials, says the Obama administration is disappointed that American efforts to persuade the Iraqis to randomly inspect the flights have been "largely unsuccessful." Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Suspects in 9/11 May Be Tried In Civilian Courts Not Military Tribunals

November 30th 2012

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, had requested a complete study regarding the suitability of incarcerating and trying Guantanamo terrorism detainees on the U.S. mainland and switching jurisdiction for the trials from the military courts back to the civilian courts and the U.S. Justice Department. According to a study by the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress described the civilian custody and trial of Gitmo detainees "viable."

Fox News was successful in obtaining a Government Accountability Office document which is the result of "an investigation into whether domestic facilities could house the approximately 170 detainees remaining at the controversial facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba." Read more ..


China Rising

China Aircraft Carrier Landing Poses No Direct Threat, Say Analysts

November 28th 2012

Liaoning - China's first flattop

Western analysts say China's recent landing of a Russian designed fighter jet on an aircraft carrier, though significant, poses no immediate regional or international security threats. In reports published Sunday, China's state-run news agencies said the navy landed several Chinese-made J-15 jets on the carrier Liaoning in the past week. The reports said the warplanes also took off successfully.

Chinese military analysts described the daytime landings and take-offs as a "landmark" in the navy's efforts to develop the combat capability of the Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier. Bonnie Glaser, senior Asia Adviser at the Washington D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said while this is a significant achievement for China, it needs to be put in perspective. "The landing took place in good weather and it took place in the daytime.  It is significantly more difficult to land an aircraft on a carrier at night and in bad weather." Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Twin Car Bombs Rip Through Damascus

November 28th 2012

Damascus Car Bomb 11-28-12

Twin car bombs have ripped through a suburb in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing at least 34 people.

Activists say the blasts Wednesday targeted the Jermana suburb, which is mostly populated by Christians and Druse. Television footage shows firemen hosing down the remains of charred vehicles. Debris from the blasts was scattered about the street. SANA state news agency called the attack an act of "terrorists." The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says violence across the country has killed more than 40,000 people since an uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March of last year.


Zambia on Edge

Zambia Concerned About DRC Conflict Spillover

November 27th 2012

Congo M23 Rebels

Zambia has expressed concern that the ongoing conflict in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could spill over into its territory and other countries in the region.

“We are very worried because this thing can engulf the whole region if we are not careful,” said Home Affairs Minister Edgar Lungu. “What we have done is to send the head of the military to meet our colleagues in DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and the entire region because we all appreciate that we are together, we swim together or drown together.” Lungu called on the international community to help the Great Lakes Region find a solution to the conflict in the DRC. Zambia shares an estimated 1,900 kilometer border with DRC. Read more ..


The Drug Wars

Mexican Police Officers Discover More Mass Graves

November 27th 2012

Click to select Image

Mexican national police officers (Federales) on Saturday and Sunday discovered 19 bodies in mass graves in the northern state of Chihuahua, not far from Mexico's border with the U.S., according to an American drug enforcement officer who requested anonymity.

Eleven of the bodies found on Saturday had been buried for about two years in a desolate area about 25 miles from the violence plagued city of Ciudad Juarez, the source reported.

The other eight bodies are those of victims who had been tortured and killed only a few days prior to when they were found along a road near the town of Rosales. These were discovered on Sunday. Chihuahua is one of the states hardest hit by drug-related violence in Mexico.

All the victims were male and a preliminary examination revealed they had been shot to death. Many of the bodies also displayed evidence of brutal torture, the American drug agent said. According to figures released earlier this year by Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, 16,000 bodies remain unidentified and a total of 24,000 people are missing. Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

Spoiling the Gaza Ceasefire

November 26th 2012

Hamas Terrorists

In negotiating a ceasefire to end the current conflict in Gaza, most of the focus has been on Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), who have launched hundreds of rockets into Israel. But in order for the ceasefire to be sustainable, it must address the role of other, non-Hamas-aligned militants from Gaza and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula who have been involved in the attacks as well.

The jihadis of Majlis Shura Fi Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis (MSM for short), Jama'at Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (JABM), Jaysh al-Ummah (JU), and Jaysh al-Islam (JI) claimed responsibility for 99 rocket attacks from Nov. 11 to Nov. 21 once the conflict escalated. MSM and JABM have cells in both the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. MSM was responsible for the majority of these rocket attacks, having conducted 72 of them --14 of which were in a joint operation with JI on November 20. Five of MSM's rocket attacks originated from northern Sinai. Additionally, JU announced the launch of 26 rockets, while JABM accounted for the final one having targeted the Israeli port city of Eilat from the Sinai. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

David's Sling a Success--Israel's Latest Missile Defense Planned for Iran Strike

November 26th 2012

Arrow2

Less than a week after the Iron Dome defense system became famous the world over for its extraordinary performance in Israel's latest war against Hamas, an equally important missile defense system proved a stunning success in its latest round of tests. David's Sling, an Israeli-developed system partially funded by the United States, reportedly intercepted 90 percent of its targets in a test conducted in Israel's Negev Desert, a record equal to that of Iron Dome.

The new defense system, however, may ultimately prove even more important than its predecessor. David's Sling is designed to destroy missiles of larger size and greater range than Iron Dome. In particular, it is viewed as a potentially effective defense against the missile arsenal wielded by Hezbollah on Israel's northern border. Iron Dome is designed to destroy large numbers of short-range rockets, such as those fired from Gaza by Hamas. David's Sling is a more sophisticated system intended for single targets, and can be controlled in-flight, allowing for more precise targeting of rockets traveling at high speeds.

This could prove decisive in the event of an attack on the Iranian nuclear program. It is widely expected that Iran would retaliate primarily through Hezbollah, who have already threatened to target Tel Aviv and other cities in central Israel. David's Sling, once deployed, could be a devastatingly effective defense against such attacks. Though originally not expected to be fielded until 2014, UPI reported in May that David's Sling should begin deployments as early as next year Once the Sling is in place, Israel will use the new Block 4 version of its old Arrow 2 missile interceptor for long range missile intercepts, the Sling for medium, and the Dome for short range. All three combined should offer a comprehensive missile defense, allowing a certain confidence in engaging with any of Israel's regional enemies.

Though originally not expected to be fielded until 2014, UPI reported in May that David's Sling should begin deployments as early as next year

Once the Sling is in place, Israel will use the new Block 4 version of its old Arrow 2 missile interceptor for long range missile intercepts, the Sling for medium, and the Dome for short range.

All three combined should offer a comprehensive missile defense, allowing a certain confidence in engaging with any of Israel's regional enemies.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/davids-sling-successfully-tested-israel-2012-11#ixzz2DKubAWnK

Though originally not expected to be fielded until 2014, UPI reported in May that David's Sling should begin deployments as early as next year

Once the Sling is in place, Israel will use the new Block 4 version of its old Arrow 2 missile interceptor for long range missile intercepts, the Sling for medium, and the Dome for short range.

All three combined should offer a comprehensive missile defense, allowing a certain confidence in engaging with any of Israel's regional enemies.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/davids-sling-successfully-tested-israel-2012-11#ixzz2DKubAWnK

Though originally not expected to be fielded until 2014, UPI reported in May that David's Sling should begin deployments as early as next year

Once the Sling is in place, Israel will use the new Block 4 version of its old Arrow 2 missile interceptor for long range missile intercepts, the Sling for medium, and the Dome for short range.

All three combined should offer a comprehensive missile defense, allowing a certain confidence in engaging with any of Israel's regional enemies.



Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/davids-sling-successfully-tested-israel-2012-11#ixzz2DKubAWnK

Read more ..

Operation Pillar of Defense

Netanyahu Tells Israeli Pilots to Prepare for the Next Campaign

November 26th 2012

IDF F-16s

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed doubts that the current ceasefire between Hamas and Israel would stick in the long-term. According to the Jerusalem Post, during a talk to a group of pilots at the Palmachim air base, he said, “If the quiet is kept, you can continue preparing for the next campaign.” But he warned if it is not kept “you will go back to hitting what remains of the Hamas stockpile of weapons.”

“The Hamas weapons caches suffered very severely from this operation. The precise and accurate operation of the IDF destroyed most of the missiles aimed at the center of the country and thousands of missiles aimed at southern Israel,” Israel’s Channel 2 reported him as telling the assembled group. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Al-Shabaab Launches Terrorist Attack on Somali Border Town

November 25th 2012

Al Shabaab

An al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group launched a deadly attack on a Somali town on Saturday not far from the war-torn nation's border with Kenya, according to an Israeli police-intelligence source who monitors Islamists in North Africa.

Suspected Muslim radicals from Somalia's Al-Shabaab reportedly attacked the town of Bula-Hawa in southern Somalia, killing dozens of people and wounding dozens more during a fierce gun battle between the terrorists and members of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government soldiers

The battle for the control of the small Somali town, which is less than 90 miles from Kenya's northern town of Mandera, has also left two Kenyans wounded, according to the Somalia National News Agency. The fighting pitted heavily armed Al-Shabaab terrorists and the TGF troops who controlled and protected the town which was taken over from Al-Shabaab by Somali forces who were at the time backed by the Ethiopian military. Read more ..


Nigeria on Edge

Suicide Bombers Attack Nigerian Military Church

November 25th 2012

Nigerian church burnt out by Boko Haram

Twin suicide bombers have attacked a church inside a military base in Nigeria's Kaduna State, a volatile area known for sectarian and religious violence.  Reuters news agency quotes a military spokesman as saying 11 people were killed and dozens injured.

Authorities say a bus was driven into St. Andrews Protestant Church inside a military base around noon Sunday, about ten minutes before a second suicide bomber detonated a Toyota Camry just outside.

In an e-mail to reporters, the director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Bola Koleoso, said he cannot yet confirm a casualty count but the injured have been taken to two separate hospitals. Christian Association of Nigeria Youth Chair Diji Haruna says the church service was over when the bombs went off, but clergy and choir members were still inside. “Today is another bad day for Nigeria.  It’s another bad day for Christians, both Christians and Muslims.  Anybody that loves peace, today is a bad day for them," said Haruna. Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

IDF Reservists Say: "It's Only a Question of Time Before We Are Called Up Again"

November 25th 2012

IDF troops

50,000 IDF reservists were called up for duty over the course of Operation 'Pillar of Defense'. They left their families, their jobs, their lives, and rallied to their country's call to duty. A cease-fire was announced on November 21st, before a ground incursion occurred, the next stage in the operation in which the reservists were supposed to participate. The reservists expressed their willingness to endanger their lives for this mission, understanding the necessity of such an action.

Now that they have been ordered to stand down, they feel disappointed and degraded. Thousands of reservists still in service have signed a petition calling on the government to initiate the ground incursion with the intent of eradicating all terror infrastructures in the Gaza Strip. 

Yahel, 29, a father of two, a banker and a combat medic in the reserves was called up early Friday morning. "They fired on us, we fired on them, nothing was achieved at the end. It's only a question of time before everything starts up again. Meantime, in Gaza they are rejoicing at their victory, while we are still dug in. I feel an unpleasant sense of disappointment. We have been humiliated," he told Tazpit News Agency. Even though the operation is seemingly over, he doesn't expect to go home until sometime in the middle week. Read more ..


The Congo on Edge

African Leaders Meeting on DR Congo Rebel Crisis

November 24th 2012

Soldiers

Central African heads of state are trying to resolve the rebel crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but without the help of Rwandan president Paul Kagame. His absence at Saturday's summit in Uganda's capital, Kampala, is getting a lot of attention because Rwanda has been accused of supporting the rebels, a charge it denies. President Kagame has sent his foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo to the meeting.  The summit comes amid concerns of advances by rebels into eastern Congo and a shake-up in the Congolese army.
 
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila suspended the head of the army after the general was accused of selling weapons to armed groups in the east. The suspension of Major General Gabriel Amisi came three days after rebel group M23 defeated Congolese forces and captured the eastern city of Goma.
Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Tel Aviv Bus Bomb Suspects Apprehended

November 23rd 2012

Israel's internal security service, the Shin Bet, announced on Thursday that it has captured several suspects in Wednesday's bus bombing in central Tel Aviv. The terrorists were apparently caught within hours of the bombing. The Jerusalem Post describes them as a terrorist cell based in a town near Ramallah.

"One of the cell's members," the Post reports, "was an Arab-Israeli from the town of Taibeh, originally also from Beit Lakia, who received Israeli citizenship due to the Israeli law allowing Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs to receive Israeli ID cards." A Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem was also involved in the attack. The law allowing Palestinians to receive citizenship if they marry Israeli Arabs has been controversial in recent years, for precisely the reason that it may allow terrorists from the West Bank and Gaza to gain access to Israel proper.


Operation Pillar of Defense

Iran Boasts of Providing Missile Technology to Palestinian Terrorists

November 22nd 2012

Rocket Fajr-5

Only a mere few hours after a fragile ceasefire took effect between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Iran's top military commander, Gen. Mohammad-Ali Jafari, announced on Wednesday that the Iranian government is going to provide the Palestinian "resistance" with the technology necessary to mass produce Fajr-5 missiles, according to an Israeli counterterrorist who monitors the Iranian news organizations.

Gen. Jafari claimed that since Iran is prohibited from sending arms and military equipment due to Gaza being held under siege, Iran's Quds Force has provided the Palestinians with training in the manufacture of Fajr-5 missiles. In fact, if the Iranian general is telling the truth, these missiles are already in the planning stages for manufacturing in relatively large numbers. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

Generals No Longer Retire to Vermont — They Lobby for Contractors in Washington

November 22nd 2012

Click to select Image

“What can you do with a general, when he stops being a general?” crooned Bing Crosby in the 1954 movie “White Christmas.” “Who’s got a job for a general when he stops being a general?”

Alas, the answer, 58 years later, is now clear. Retired generals don’t open ski resorts in Vermont.  Instead, they hunker down in Washington as the paid employees of corporations that draw most of their income from the service branch in which the generals worked. Once there, they work to maintain a stream of funding from the public treasury.

The revolving door between government service and private companies for those with beribboned chests is now an entrenched feature of life in Washington, according to a new report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonprofit government watchdog group.

Updating a 2010 Boston Globe report that documented the practice, CREW found that over the last three years, 70 percent of the 108 three-and-four star generals and admirals who retired “took jobs with defense contractors or consultants.” Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

The ABC's of the Iron Dome

November 22nd 2012

Iron Dome

Over the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense, the Iron Dome system intercepted more than 420 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. The system is the result of tireless work over many years, and the results speak for themselves.

The core team that led the Iron Dome development was comprised entirely of graduates of the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa. In an interview published on the Technion website,  some of Iron Dome's developers spoke about their work.

"Credit for the system’s success is shared by the hundreds of engineers, technicians, and managers who took part in its development; but the people sitting here with me are definitely the key players,” said a team member identified only as H., a 1975 Technion graduate. “The development of Iron Dome transformed our lives, dictating a hectic work week and some weekends," H. said. "I never got home before 11 p.m., and of course I didn’t take a single day off for three whole years. But I don’t regret a single moment.” Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

Iron Dome the Big Winner in Gaza Conflict

November 22nd 2012

Iron Dome

Now that a tenuous ceasefire has come into effect between Israel and the terror group Hamas, it's time to judge the winners and losers in the eight-day conflict known as Pillar of Defense.

On the Israeli side, the army clearly succeeded in hobbling Hamas' defense network. According to Israel Hayom, 26 weapons caches, 200 smuggling tunnels thousands of rockets were destroyed; 120 terrorists, including 30 of Hamas' top commanders were assassinated; and the IDF hit a total of 1,600 targets. Clearly, when the Hamas leadership crawls out of its bunker Thursday morning, they will be surveying a devastated Gaza. What's more, the weapons caches that took years to build will have been destroyed.

The prospects for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu are less clear. While declaring victory in the fight against Hamas at a press conference Wednesday, according to YNet, Netanyahu declared that he had responded "forcefully" to Hamas and exacted "a heavy toll from the terror organizations. The terror groups assumed that we would avoid such an operation. They were wrong." Read more ..


The Congo on Edge

U.N. says External Forces Support Rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo

November 21st 2012

Soldiers

The U.N.’s top official in the Democratic Republic of Congo has told the U.N. Security Council that rebels are receiving weapons and equipment from outside the DRC. International concerns are high that the rebels who have entrenched themselves in the DRC’s mineral-rich eastern provinces are receiving assistance from foreign backers. A U.N. report made public on Wednesday, but leaked weeks ago, accused neighboring Rwanda and Uganda of providing the M23 rebel group with material support.

The U.N.’s top envoy in the DRC, Roger Meece, did not name any country during a video briefing from Congo. But he laid out some of his concerns and observations. “The M23 forces are well provisioned, and well supplied with uniforms, and a variety of arms and munitions, many of which clearly have not come from existing FARDC [i.e., Armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo] stocks. They exhibit many characteristics of a strong, disciplined, established military force with sophisticated tactics and operations, including night operations, which are not characteristic of traditional performance,” Meece said.
Read more ..


The Cyber Edge

Onslaught of Millions of Hacker Attacks Against Israel

November 21st 2012

guy fawkes masks

Israeli law enforcement officials are complaining of widespread cyber sabotage by hackers who launched a massive cyber-warfare campaign that targets Israeli government web sites, an Israeli police source said on Tuesday. In a press statement, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz noted that in recent days there were more than 40 million cyber attacks on government sites identified and thwarted since the start Israel's retaliation against Islamic terrorists. The Israeli plan is to stop barrage of rockets' fired by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip. According to several sources, the rockets are being fired into Israel by members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

The vast majority of the cyber attacks were aimed at the sites of the security establishment, the president's residence, the foreign ministry and the prime minister's office, the minister's statement noted. Sources in Israel could not identify who perpetrated the attacks or from where they originated. However, the notorious Anonymous, an online activist group, over the weekend said its members have crashed numerous private and public web sites in Israel.

"For far too long, Anonymous has stood by with the rest of the world and watched in despair the barbaric, brutal and despicable treatment of the Palestinian people in the so-called 'occupied territories' by the Israeli army," the radical group said in a vitriolic statement. Read more ..


The Drug Wars

Mexican Drug Cartels and Hezbollah Strengthen Alliance

November 20th 2012

Agent in Drug War

During an interview of a top GOP lawmaker on Fox News Channel on Monday, while discussing the threat by terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah to Israel, Congressman Mike McCaul stated that a new report reveals that Hezbollah is operating in the Western Hemisphere and is as much a threat to the United States as it is to Israel.

The U.S. House of Representatives report titled “A Line in the Sand: Countering Crime, Violence and Terror at the Southwest Border,” detailing the findings of a committee's probe regarding the increased presence of Middle East terrorist networks in Latin America and their growing relationship with drug cartels, was released to little fanfare on Friday.

The report -- a follow-up by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Management, to his 2006 report on the threat Mexican drug cartels pose to the Southwest border -- documents increased operational control of Mexican drug cartels inside the U.S., their strategy to move illegal drugs, and the bloody turf wars that have taken place between rival cartels, as they struggle to control valuable trafficking corridors.  Read more ..


The Congo on Edge

Goma Falls to Rebels in the Eastern Congo

November 20th 2012

Soldiers

Since yesterday when the fighting intensified around the city of Goma between the army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) supported by UN forces and the M23 rebels, the situation has deteriorated.

Yesterday, the rebels had pulled back to await a response from Kinshasa to its demands that Goma be de-militarized and that a border post with Uganda be reopened. Kinshasa did not accept the M23 ultimatum, and the rebels have now occupied the city and its international and military airports for the first time since 2003. In the general melee, DRC soldiers shelled a neighboring Rwanda district, killing two, according to Rwanda sources. That same Rwanda source says, however, that Kinshasa has apologized. If so, Kinshasa and Kigali may be trying to avoid any cross border escalation, a positive development. Read more ..


The Edge of Terorism

Al-Qaeda Operative Sentenced to Life Imprisonment

November 19th 2012

FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force

On Friday, a 32-year-old resident of Queens, N.Y., who joined al-Qaeda, then plotted and attempted to commit suicide terrorist attacks, was sentenced to life in prison for multiple federal terrorism offenses, according to law enforcement officials.

According to the Justice Department, the defendant, Adis Medunjanin, and his accomplices were only days away from perpetrating coordinated suicide bombings within the New York City subway system in September 2009, as directed by senior al-Qaeda leaders operating in Pakistan.

When law enforcement thwarted Medunjanin's attack plan, he attempted to perpetrate a terrorist attack by crashing his automobile on the Whitestone Expressway in an effort to kill himself and kill or injure innocent motorists who drove in his path.

According to the prosecution's evidence during a federal trial, Medunjanin and his terrorist cell, that included Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, agreed to travel to Afghanistan to join the Taliban and kill United States military personnel abroad. They arrived in Peshawar, Pakistan, in late August 2008, but Medunjanin and Ahmedzay were turned back at the Afghanistan border. Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

Israel: Then and Now

November 19th 2012

Israeli Jets Parked

Four years ago on Nov. 4, while Americans were going to the polls to elect a new president, Israeli infantry, tanks and bulldozers entered the Gaza Strip to dismantle an extensive tunnel network used by Hamas to smuggle in weapons. An already tenuous truce mediated by the Egyptian government of Hosni Mubarak had been broken. Hamas responded with a barrage of mortar and rocket fire lasting several weeks, and on Dec. 27, 2008, Israel began Operation Cast Lead. The military campaign began with seven days of heavy air strikes on Gaza, followed by a 15-day ground incursion.

By the end of the campaign, nearly 1,000 poorly guided shorter-range rockets and mortar shells hit southern Israel, reaching as far as Beersheba and Yavne. Several senior Hamas commanders and hundreds of militants were killed in the fighting. Israel Defense Forces figures showed that 10 IDF soldiers died (four from friendly fire), three Israeli civilians died from Palestinian rocket fire and 1,166 Palestinians were killed -- 709 of them combatants. Read more ..


Tunisia on Edge

Maqdisi's Disciples in Libya and Tunisia

November 18th 2012

New Tunisian Assembly

Jihadist groups do not buy into the democratic process and are attempting to consolidate Islamic rule in their countries one charitable act at a time.

Ever since the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi and U.S. Embassy in Tunis in September, there has been a large spotlight on the Islamist groups viewed as the main culprits -- Katibat Ansar al-Sharia in Benghazi (ASB) and Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AST). While much of the understandable focus has been on the violent actions of individuals in these organizations, much of the scope of their activities lies outside violence. A large-portion of the activities of these groups is local social service provision under their particular dawa (missionary) offices. This broader picture is crucial to better understanding emerging trends in societies transitioning from authoritarian to democratic rule. Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

Hezbollah Remains Wary Amid Israeli Operations in Gaza

November 18th 2012

Hezbollah rally

While Hamas is preparing for an Israeli ground assault into Gaza, Hezbollah's movements on Israel's northern frontier bear close watching. Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Nov. 17 called on the Muslim world to retaliate against Israeli actions in Gaza. Naturally, many are looking in the direction of Lebanon, where Hezbollah, Iran's most capable militant proxy, could open a second front against Israel.

Though Iran would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate the spectrum of its militant proxy strength, especially after supplying Hamas with the long-range Fajr-5 rockets that have been targeting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Hezbollah will likely be extremely cautious in deciding whether to participate in this war. The group's fate is linked to that of the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad; should Syria fracture along sectarian lines, Lebanon is likely to descend into civil war, and Hezbollah will have to conserve its strength and resources for a battle at home against its sectarian rivals. Indeed, Hezbollah has already been preparing for such a scenario by seizing control of villages along the Orontes River Basin in order to maintain connectivity with Syria's Alawite community. Read more ..



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