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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 ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

A Pause for Negotiations in the Israeli-Hamas Conflict

November 18th 2012

IDF Soldiers

The Israeli-Hamas conflict has entered into a negotiation phase. Both sides want talks. Hamas wants them because any outcome that prevents an Israeli ground assault gives it the opportunity to retain some of its arsenal of Fajr-5 rockets; the Israelis want them because the cost of an invasion could be high, and they recall the political fallout of Operation Cast Lead in 2008, which alienated many European and other governments.

No matter how much either side might want to avoid ground warfare, negotiations are unlikely to forestall an Israeli assault because Hamas' and Israel's goals leave little middle ground.

One of Hamas' main goals in this current round of fighting is to retain enough Fajr-5 rockets to allow it to threaten the Israeli heartland, the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem corridor. If they succeed, Hamas will have gained a significant lever in its relations with the Israelis. The Israeli goal is to deny Hamas these rockets. The problem for the Israelis is that this requires a ground assault in order to have any chance of success. The Israelis may think they know where the rockets are, but they cannot be certain. Airstrikes can target known facilities, at least those where rockets are not stored in hardened underground bunkers. But only by going in on the ground with substantial force will the Israelis have the opportunity to search for and destroy the rockets. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syria's Internal War Turns Against the Regime

November 17th 2012

Rebel fighters

After almost twenty months, Syria's internal war appears to be approaching a decisive stage. Since early October, rebel forces have been on the offensive in key theaters, while regime forces are stretched thin, increasingly on the defensive, and giving ground. The conflict is evolving from a war of attrition (with the two sides primarily exchanging casualties) to a war of positions, with rebel forces seizing checkpoints, reducing the regime presence in the provinces, interdicting roads, and pressuring key regime strongholds and facilities. Barring a major change in Bashar al-Assad's approach or massive intervention by Hizballah and Iran, the regime's military situation will likely continue to deteriorate, perhaps dramatically, in the weeks ahead. Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

Iran's Agenda in the Gaza Offensive

November 17th 2012

Iran Missiles

To begin to make sense of the escalating conflict in Gaza, we need to go back to the night of Oct. 23 in Khartoum. Around 11 p.m. that night, the Yarmouk weapons facility in the Sudanese capital was attacked, presumably by the Israeli air force. There were indications that Iran had been using this facility to stockpile and possibly assemble weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, guided anti-tank missiles and long-range Fajr-5 rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from Gaza.

One of the major drivers behind Israel's latest air and assassination campaign is its belief that Hamas has a large cache of long-range Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets in its possession. Israel's primary intent in this military campaign is to deny Hamas the ability to use these rockets or keep them as a constant threat to Israel's population centers. This likely explains why in early October, when short-range rocket attacks from Gaza were still at a low level, Israeli officials began conditioning the public to the idea of an "inevitable" Israeli intervention in Gaza. Israel knew Hamas had these weapons in its possession and that it could require a war to eliminate the Fajr rocket threat. Read more ..


The Petraeus Scandal

Petraeus Successor At CIA May Address Intel Deficiencies

November 16th 2012

David Petraeus

Gen. David Petraeus’ surprising and abrupt resignation from his position as director of the Central Intelligence Agency may have a silver-lining despite the uncertainty of leadership at one of the nation’s most important bureaucracies. The next director of the CIA could address agency deficiencies and those within the entire intelligence community, according to experts.

A popular and well-respected military leader, Petraeus shocked many when he revealed he had an extramarital affair with West Point graduate and author Paula Broadwell, who had written a book about Gen. Petraeus in Afghanistan.

United States

There are some within the intelligence community, the military and law enforcement assigned to counterterrorism units who accused Petraeus of failing to respond decisively to calls for assistance from CIA operatives posted in Libya amid the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, but his integrity remains unquestioned, at least it does during Obama’s reign. When he worked for President George W. Bush, he was almost constantly lambasted by Democrats, especially left-leaning pundits such as MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

'Anonymous' Hackers Target Israel During Terrorist Attack

November 16th 2012

Shadowy Computer User

The hacker group Anonymous announced early November 15 that it would begin attacking Israeli government and military websites in retaliation, it said, for Israel’s recent strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip. The announcement was made on Twitter. The tweet said "Dear Israel, you shut down internet. We'll shut you down."

The group is calling the attacks #opIsrael, and within several hours they were claiming to have successfully taken down over 40 Israeli military and government websites. Another tweet by the group read, "#OpIsrael 40+ Israel'i government & military websites have been taken down in last 3hrs #FreeGaza #Anonymous #FreePalestineV@AnonNewsINT". Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Combating Terrorism from Gaza

November 16th 2012

Gaza Qasam Rocket

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and International treaties define crimes against humanity as the "participation in, and knowledge of, a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, and the multiple commissions of [such] acts ... against any civilian population."

These international binding instruments go-on to impose uniform mandatory counter-terrorist obligations on all states to "bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers, and sponsors of terrorist attacks and stresses that those responsible for aiding, supporting or harboring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held accountable.

 There is no escape clause - UNSC repeats "its unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed." Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Senators Get an Eyefull of Benghazi Attack Videos

November 15th 2012

Libyan rioters at US consulate Sep 2012 #1

Lawmakers were shown surveillance video and footage from a Predator drone that gave a real-time picture of what happened the night of Sept. 11 in Benghazi, Libya, as the House and Senate Intelligence committees began inquiries into the attack Thursday.

The committees’ highest-profile witness, former CIA Director David Petraeus, isn’t coming to Capitol Hill until Friday. But the committees each held a lengthy hearing on Benghazi Thursday with several senior intelligence officials, including acting CIA Director Michael Morell stepping in for Petraeus.

Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said after their hearing concluded that they will hold at least an additional two closed-door Benghazi hearings as well as a public hearing to release their findings. Read more ..


Operation Pillar of Defense

Israeli Ground Offensive Imminent Following Gazan Barrage on Tel Aviv

November 15th 2012

Israeli Tank in Sinai

Two projectiles, which are believed to be Fajr-5 rockets due to their range, landed near Tel Aviv -- one just south of the municipal line and one in the water just outside of the southern suburb of Bat Yam. No injuries have been reported. A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces denied that a rocket had landed in Tel Aviv, although this statement conflicts with eyewitness reports and may reflect the fact that projectiles have landed in areas just south of the actual Tel Aviv municipal boundary.

Both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have claimed responsibility for the attack. This strike is the furthest Hamas has ever struck into Israeli territory and signals a major escalation. Hamas has moved beyond retaliation for yesterday's airstrikes or provocative bombings and instead is engaged in war. An Israeli ground offensive is now almost assured. Read more ..


Lebanon on Edge

A Tale of Two Assassinations and Lebanon

November 15th 2012

Wissam al-Hassan mourner

On Oct. 19, Lebanese Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan was assassinated on a narrow side street near Sassine Square in downtown Beirut. The attack involved the detonation of a moderately sized vehicle-borne improvised explosive device as al-Hassan's car passed by the vehicle in which the device was hidden. The explosion killed not only al-Hassan and his driver but also six other people and wounded about 90 more.

Al-Hassan, the intelligence chief for Lebanon's Internal Security Forces, had been a marked man for some time prior to his death. He was the security chief for former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was assassinated in February 2005 in an attack that most believe was conducted by the Syrian regime and its allies in Lebanon. Read more ..


Israel and Gaza

1,200 Tunnels Operating Between Egypt and the Gaza Strip

November 14th 2012

Gaza Tunnels

The leader of the Al-Akur Tribe in Sinai, Arif Abu-Akr, has revealed that the 1,200 tunnels between the borders of Egypt and Gaza Strip are working at full capacity. Abu-Akr told Asharq Al-Awsat that these tunnels were being used to carry out terrorist attacks, “but we cannot arrest them or present them to justice.”

During the transitional period, which was administered by the military, the Egyptian authorities had announced the closure of the tunnels to the Gaza Strip; however, security sources in Sinai have said that many of the tunnels are now fully operational since President Muhammad Mursi’s accession to power at the beginning of July 2012. Security sources also revealed that the governor of North Sinai had lodged a complaint with senior officials in Cairo, but was told: “The tunnels do not represent a problem.”

Egyptian authorities say that the situation in Sinai is under control; however, a number of Sinai tribal leaders have been vocal about the need to end the chaotic security situation. Majdi Jilbanah, leader of Abu-Jilbanah Tribe, the largest tribe in Sinai, has called on the state leaders to deploy the National Security personnel urgently to hunt down foreign elements, which Abu-Jilbanah says are widespread across Sinai. Read more ..


The Petraeus Scandal

Picking Up the Pieces at the CIA following the Disgraced Petraeus

November 14th 2012

David Petraeus

Gen. David Petraeus' surprising and abrupt resignation from his position as director of the Central Intelligence Agency may have a silver-lining despite the uncertainty of leadership at one of the nation's most important bureaucracies. The next director of the CIA could address agency deficiencies and those within the entire intelligence community, according to experts. A popular and well-respected military leader, Petraeus shocked many when he revealed he had an extramarital affair with West Point graduate and author Paula Broadwell, who had written a book about Gen. Petraeus in Afghanistan.

There are some within the intelligence community, the military and law enforcement assigned to counterterrorism units who accused Petraeus of failing to respond decisively to calls for assistance from CIA operatives posted in Libya amid the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, but his integrity remains unquestioned, at least it does during Obama's reign. When he worked for President George W. Bush, he was almost constantly lambasted by Democrats, especially left-leaning pundits such as MSNBC's Chris Matthews. Read more ..


Pillar of Defense

Israel Launches “Pillar of Defense” Operation in Gaza, “Decapitation Wave” Against Hamas Terror Leadership

November 14th 2012

Israeli Tanks Gaza Strip

The IDF has launched a major Gaza operation named “Amud Annan (Pillar/Column of Defense)” with the goal of taking “out a large piece of the (Hamas) command structure without toppling the regime,” a knowledgeable source in Jerusalem told The Algemeiner.

IDF Spokesperson Eytan Buchman confirmed to The Algemeiner that “the operation began about an hour ago with a pin-point strike on Hamas terror chief al-Jabari, “Since then” he said,  ”we have targeted about 20 different sites in the Gaza strip focusing specifically in long range rocket capabilities that have been developed in Gaza.”

Bachman told The Algemeiner that there is “no focus on other individuals at this point but all the options are on the table.” A ground invasion is also not planned at the moment.

“The point of operation is to cripple terrorist infrastructure that has developed in the Gaza strip and has received significant assistance from Iran, ” he said, “One of the best examples are the Fajr rockets which we have targeted that have a range of over 25 miles.”

Another IDF spokesperson told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that “we target Hamas and Jihad leaders and Fajr-5 40 km rockets in order to deny Hamas the strategic option of escalating the conflict. A ground invasion is planned for if necessary, and mobilization orders are ready. “The main purpose” he said, is “to end the harassment of the Israeli South.”

Asked how long the operation was expected to go on for, Bachman said there is no specific timetable, “we will go on as long as we need to, we had over a million Israelis in bomb shelters over the last four days, that situation is untenable.”

Regarding a possible escalation in rocket attacks from Gaza Bachman said, “we are prepared for any response that may come, we are confident in our abilities to significantly impair Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations.”

“We have shown enormous restraint and have been gathering very precise intelligence over the last four months on rockets and other terror sites and now we are acting on that intelligence,” he concluded.

“The talk is about a “decapitation wave” against Hamas,” The Algemeiner’s Jerusalem source added, now “that the human shield Gilad Shalit is no more, (the aim is) to kill as many terrorist leaders involved in his capture, holding and exchanging Shalit, to destroy Fajr-5 long-range rockets (that can reach Tel Aviv) and to reassert the deterrent without (so far) land invasion.”

Military sources told The Algemeiner that “A significant number of munitions depot’s are within civilian, residential buildings. This fact is another illustration of Hamas’ modus operandi which uses the civilian population in Gaza as a human shield.”

The operation follows four days of escalated rocket attacks from Gaza during which over 150 projectiles were fired at civilian communities in southern Israel. Israeli leaders have made clear in recent days that the country would not tolerate the continued attacks.

The operation began with the assassination of Hamas terror mastermind Ahmed al-Jabari earlier today. A statement from the Shin Bet about the strike said, “Jabari was responsible for financing and directing military operations and attacks against Israel. His elimination today is a message to Hamas officials in Gaza that if they continue promoting terrorism against Israel, they will be hurt.”

IDF Spokesman Yoav Mordechai told the Jerusalem Post that al-Jabari was a man with “a lot of blood on his hands.”

The naming if the operation is drawn from biblical verses in Exodus, that refer to a column of smoke that led and protected the Israelites during their sojourns in the desert .


Israel on Edge

Israel's Fight to Regain Deterrence

November 13th 2012

IDF On Guard

Israel is facing an unenviable challenge these days, to regain its deterrence in a chaotic neighborhood in which its enemies are feeling emboldened. As a direct result of the regional turmoil, Israel is dealing with the deterioration of security on two fronts simultaneously.

In the south, the time bomb that is Gaza has, once again, gone off. Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and smaller assorted jihadi organizations have stepped up their attacks on IDF patrols along the border, through roadside bombs, missile attacks, and explosives-laden tunnels under the border.

When the IDF responds, the terror organizations seize on Israel's attempt to defend its soldiers as a justification to launch large-scale rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, and fire rockets at southern cities, towns, and villages. In the most recent case, Islamic Jihad terrorists fired a sophisticated Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missile at an IDF jeep patrolling the border, injuring four soldiers. IDF tanks stationed near Gaza returned fire, killing six Palestinians. Read more ..


Mexico on Edge

OAS Demands Protection for Mexican Human Rights Activists

November 13th 2012

Mexico memorial

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has requested that the Mexican government protect seven Chihuahua rural activists who are spearheading movements against water over-exploitation and mining. The request was issued in favor of leaders of El Barzon, an organization of small farmers founded in the 1990s, and followed the murder of El Barzon activist Ismael Solorio Urrutia and his wife Manuela Martha Solis Contreras in the Chihuahua countryside on October 22.

An El Barzon leader in the north-central region of Chihuahua, Solorio was physically assaulted along with a son last October 13 by men allegedly connected to a Mexican division of the Canadian-owned MAG Silver Corporation, which operates a controversial mine on land belonging to the Benito Juarez Ejido in the municipality of Buenaventura. Read more ..


Kenya on Edge

Heavy Casualties Reported in Ambush on Kenyan Police

November 12th 2012

Kenya Police

Kenyan officials have recovered the bodies of more than 30 police officers who were killed during an operation to track down cattle rustlers in the northern Baragoi district. Kenyan police officials said the ambush shows the need to better equip the police force.

Survivors of the attack in northwestern Kenya said they were ambushed as they went in pursuit of the suspected cattle thieves.

Police entered an area known as the Suguta Valley by truck Saturday ahead of an operation to recover the stolen animals. But they said the gunmen were waiting in the hills, and fired automatic weapons at the overpowered forces below. Nine police officers were wounded. Kenyan media reported Monday that some officers are still unaccounted for.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe, speaking to a parliamentary commission Monday, said the attack was probably the result of an “operational oversight” on the part of the police. "I believe the commander of this operation acted in very good faith and in the best interest of the community he was serving, but the operation went sour," he said. Kiraithe was answering questions from lawmakers as a candidate for police inspector general. He said the assault this weekend demonstrates the need to improve the capacity of Kenya’s police force. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Israelis Attack Terrorists in Gaza

November 11th 2012

IAF-Cobras

Israeli defense forces launched an air force attack that targeted a Palestinian terrorist cell in Gaza on Saturday night, after the Islamists allegedly fired rockets at southern Israel, an Israeli police source said.

The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) attacked the rocket-launching squad of Islamist militants in the northern region of the Gaza Strip just minutes after they fired rockets towards southern Israel. A direct hit was confirmed by the police source.

Gaza's radical Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed martyr-status for one of their leaders, Mohammed Shkokani, who was allegedly killed in the retaliatory airstrike. According to the Israeli police source. Saturday was one of the worst days of cross-border violence in recent weeks with Islamic terrorists firing close to 30 rockets at Jewish communities in western Israel since the early evening hours of Saturday. Read more ..


Battle for Syria

UNRWA Keeps Quiet on Syria

November 11th 2012

UNRWA Refugee Camp

When two employees of UNRWA, the United Nations organization for Palestinians, were killed in Syria, one by a sniper and the other in a crossfire, the organization responded by deploring "the tragic loss of life." It was even more subdued when Syrian artillery shells slammed into a United Nations school for Palestinians in a Damascus suburb, as it called for "all sides to refrain from conducting the conflict in civilian areas and to comply with their obligations under international law."

These mild responses were utterly unlike the cries of condemnation and calls for war-crimes investigations that came forth when an Israeli shell struck outside an UNRWA school during the 2009 Gaza. But double standards are sometimes revealing. The responses point to a new predicament for UNRWA and Palestinians. Simply put, they are no longer the Middle East's premier refugees. Some three hundred thousand Syrian refugees are now registered with the UN in neighboring countries, with estimates of up to seven hundred thousand refugees by year's end. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Al-Zawahri: Somalia's Al Shabaab Must Fight 'Crusader Invaders'

November 10th 2012

Al Shabaab

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, in a statement on Wednesday, urged Somalia's Al Shabaab terrorists to fight back against what he called "crusader invaders," the Kenyan and Nigerian military forces assisting the Somali security forces.

While the security forces claimed they pushed the al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab insurgents out of Somalia's main urban areas which they took over in their five-year-old revolt, the capital city of Mogadishu remains vulnerable to militant attacks.

For example, on Sunday two members of the deadly Islamic terrorist group attacked a restaurant in the Somali capital wearing suicide bombs. They killed three security officers who attempted to prevent them from entering the local eatery. Although no group or individual took responsibility for the bombings, intelligence and police officials believe the culprits are the Al Shabaab terrorists who have conducted similar terrorist attacks in the past. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

The Link Between Climate Change, National Security

November 10th 2012

NASA ICESCAPE Arctic melt pools

The U.S. National Research Council released a report Friday on the link between global climate change and national security. The scientific study details how global warming is putting new social and political stresses on societies around the world and how the United States and other counties can anticipate and respond to these climate-driven security risks.

The report by the congressionally-chartered research group begins with an assertion that global warming is real, and that the mainstream scientific community believes that heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are being added to the atmosphere faster today than they were before the rise of human societies. And it says the consequences of climate change -- including rising sea levels, more frequent and severe floods, droughts, forest fires, and insect infestations -- present security threats similar to and in many cases greater than those posed by terrorist attacks. Read more ..


China on Edge

Tibetan Protests Erupt in Western China

November 9th 2012

Tibetan Protest

Reports from China's western Qinghai Province say hundreds or even thousands of Tibetans marched on government offices Friday.  The protests come amid attempts by China's government to maintain social stability during a political transition.

Tibetans marched on government offices in Rebkong, a region of eastern Tibet, after a series of self-immolations that drew international attention.  Estimates ranged from hundreds to thousands of protesters who began gathering on the streets at 5:00 a.m.  Many said they were speaking out against China's education system.

"Our sources have confirmed that many of the students have been calling for freedom of language and for the return of his Holiness," said Stephanie Brigden, executive director of rights group Free Tibet. Mass protests in Rebkong also occurred in 2010, when demonstrators spoke out against China's plans to replace Tibetan with Chinese as the language of instruction in local schools.
Read more ..


The Edge of Piracy

Somali Piracy Drops Off Dramatically

November 8th 2012

Pirate

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has dropped off dramatically in 2012. Successful ship hijackings have decreased from 31 in 2011 (and 49 in 2010) to only four so far in 2012. Attacks against ships have also decreased, falling from 199 reported attacks in the first nine months of 2011 to 70 attacks over the same span in 2012 -- a 65 percent drop.

However, diminished activity does not necessarily mean a decrease in the cost of sailing around the Horn of Africa. Somali pirates occupy a unique position, which is right along highly strategic global shipping lanes yet outside the reach of any national power. For international actors, it is politically and militarily easier to try to contain the Somali piracy threat than to eliminate it. But containment comes at a high cost.

Controlling Territory

Many factors have contributed to the decrease in pirate hijackings in 2012. One factor is that shipping companies have begun equipping their ships with more countermeasures, namely armed guards. For several years, commercial ships sailing in the Indian Ocean have used other countermeasures, such as fences, water cannons and adjusted tactics like disabling the ship. Read more ..


Mali on Edge

Militant Group in Mali Ready to Negotiate

November 7th 2012

Taureg dude

One of the three armed al-Qaida-linked militant groups in control of northern Mali since April says it rejects all ties to terrorism and is ready to negotiate with Mali's transitional authorities. A spokesman for the delegation from the Malian Islamist group, Ansar Dine, read the declaration following a meeting with Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore Tuesday in Ouagadougou.

Spokesman Mohamed Aharib says Ansar Dine reiterates its availability to open a "frank and constructive dialogue" with Mali's transitional authorities.  In the interest of creating an environment of confidence and security, he says, Ansar Dine pledges to observe a complete halt in hostilities to guarantee the free movement of people and goods and to facilitate humanitarian aid in the zones under its control.  Ansar Dine, he says, "rejects all form of extremism and terrorism" and pledges to fight organized, cross-border crime. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Suicide Car Bomb Kills 50 Syrian Troops

November 6th 2012

Car Bomb damage

A Syrian activist group says a suicide car bomber has killed more than 50 Syrian soldiers in central Hama province. The attack comes as fighting continues across large sections of Syria, and as opposition leaders meet in Qatar to reshape the opposition movement.

Amateur video showed burning vehicles in a rebel-held town in Idlib province. Opposition sources say there were numerous casualties after government warplanes bombed the town's center.

Elsewhere, a car bombing in Hama province killed more than 50 government soldiers, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Syrian government news agency SANA reported the blast, but said there were few victims. Syrian TV also reported deaths from an explosion in Damascus' Mazzeh district. Heavy fighting was reported in and around Damascus, including at the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

U.S. Military Intervention in Syria Remains Unlikely

November 6th 2012

Syria Damascus fighting injured baby

The main Syrian opposition bloc, the Syrian National Council, voted Monday at a meeting in Doha, Qatar, to broaden its ranks in the face of U.S. pressure to create a more representative leadership. Still, Syria will remain a foreign policy challenge for the U.S., no matter who wins Tuesday's presidential election.

Even as the United States tries to identify the right people for a transitional authority to replace Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the Obama administration said it is still considering a no-fly zone for northern Syria, but not a military intervention. Former U.S. Ambassador Frank Wisner said there remains no support for military involvement in Syria from the United States or its allies.

"What we should be talking about is not a military option but a political option, and that option must mean the assumption that as dreadful as this regime is in Syria, as ghastly as the crimes that is committing, you need a political way out of the situation, you need in short a political settlement,” said Wisner. Read more ..



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