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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 ..


Israel on Edge

Readying the Quiver - Arrow 3 Set to Fly

November 5th 2012

Arrow 3 Missile

Eyeing Iran's rapidly progressing nuclear program, the United States and Israel are jointly developing missile defense systems capable of protecting Israel, US forces and friendly countries from potential medium- and long-range Iranian missile attacks. The Arrow 3, whose first flight test was just postponed until November at the earliest due to an interceptor malfunction, is the latest and most capable iteration of the Arrow (Hetz) Missile Defense System. Once operational, the Arrow 3 will be the most advanced missile defense system in the world, a powerful example of the fruits of the US-Israel relationship.

When deployed, Arrow 3 will be Israel's frontline missile defense in any future conflict with Iran and is a marked improvement over the currently fielded Arrow 2, operational since 2005. Arrow 3 is "more advanced than what we have ever attempted in the US with our programs," Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, director of the US Missile Defense Agency, proclaimed earlier in the year.

Co-produced by Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the mobile Arrow System consists of four main components: the hypersonic Arrow interceptors themselves, the EL/M- 2080 early warning AESA radar (also known as the Super Green Pine), the command, control, communication and intelligence center (C3I), and the launch control center. Read more ..


Daghestan on Edge

Daghestan Becomes Hotbed Of North Caucasus Insurgency

November 5th 2012

Daghestan Car Bombing Nov 2012

Suicide bombings in police stations. Muslim clerics gunned down in broad daylight. Shoot-outs between insurgents and security forces. These have become run-of-the-mill headlines in Russia's troubled North Caucasus region of Daghestan. Last week, unidentified gunmen shot dead an imam and two of his male relatives as they drove to morning prayer in the Daghestan town of Derbent. He is at least the fifth Muslim leader slain this year.

Analysts say Daghestan has unquestionably deteriorated into the most unstable republic in the North Caucasus, a region wracked by conflict and insurgency. But why Daghestan? What are the factors that set the republic apart. Like Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and to a lesser extent Chechnya, Daghestan is a hotbed for the militant Islamist insurgency led by Doku Umarov that seeks to create a so-called pan-Caucasus Islamic caliphate.

Widespread unemployment, poor living standards, rights abuses, and resentment of local and federal authorities have spurred new generations to join the insurgency -- or "to go to the forest," as locals say. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

IDF and Mossad Reportedly Refused to Comply with Iran Attack Orders in 2010

November 5th 2012

Bibi Netanyahu with Glasses

The depth of dissension within the Israeli establishment on the issue of Iran was revealed in a shocking news report on Sunday, which showed that the Mossad and the IDF refused to comply to with a 2010 order to ready the military for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear program. According to the Times of Israel, the Israeli Channel 2 report, which will be broadcast in full on Monday, claims that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak issued the order sometime in 2010. It told the military to prepare for a strike on Iran within hours.

Gabi Ashkenazi, who was the IDF chief of staff; and Meir Dagan, then-head of the Mossad, and now one of the most prominent critics of military action against Iran; categorically rejected the order. Ashkenazi apparently justified his opposition by saying that such an order would lead to war, whether intentionally or not, and that Israel was unready for such a conflict. Dagan was far more harsh in his response, calling the order "an illegal decision," as "Only the security cabinet is authorized to make such a decision." In retrospect, Dagan said, "the prime minister and the defense minister tried to steal a war – it was as simple as that." Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Filipino Muslim Terrorists Seek to Bury the Hatchet

November 5th 2012

Moro Islamic Liberation Front

In October, the leader of the Philippines' largest Muslim rebel group signed a preliminary peace accord with the government, aimed at ending decades of war that have killed some 120,000 people. When Murad Ebrahim was 21, he quit school and joined Muslim rebels fighting against the government. His older brother, then his guardian, was not happy with the decision, Murad said. “I feel the necessity at that time, that maybe what came into mind is schooling can wait, but this situation cannot wait," he said. "So I had to decide on that, a very hard decision.”

Despite only being months away from completing a civil engineering degree, Murad took up arms in 1969, motivated by the reported killing of more than a dozen Muslim military recruits by Christian officers. He joined the Moro National Liberation Front, which battled the military in the south and was accused of carrying out terrorist attacks and assassinations as part of its separatist campaign. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Tanks Stray into Golan Demilitarized Zone

November 4th 2012

Tanks

Read more ..

Nigeria on Edge

Nigerian Forces Raid Kidnappers' Hideout

November 3rd 2012

Nigeria joint military task force

Nigerian security forces have killed 14 people as they stormed the hideout of the suspected kidnappers of a Turkish national. Police say the raid took place  Friday in the oil-rich Rivers State region. Officials say militants in the region have been linked to a string of kidnappings, armed robberies and other violence.
The French news agency (AFP)  says the Turkish national who was abducted had been freed after his captors were paid a ransom. In another incident, witnesses said Nigerian soldiers shot and killed more than 40 people in the city of Maiduguri, most of them young men. The city is a stronghold for the Boko Haram militant group.

Residents of the city say soldiers from Nigeria's Joint Task Force (JTF) carried out the killings during raids on several neighborhoods late Thursday. A source in the city morgue says that he came to work Friday to find that the bodies of about 40 young men had been dropped off. Rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused the JTF of extra-judicial killings as the force tries to crush Boko Haram.  The JTF has denied the allegations. Boko Haram, a shadowy militant group, wants to impose Islamic law across northern Nigeria and is blamed for the death of more than 1,400 people since 2009. 


South Korea on Edge

South Korean's Navy: “To the Sea, To the World”

November 2nd 2012

South Korean Destroyer Choi Young
South Korean Destroyer Choi Young

The Republic of Korea (ROK) Navy welcomes visitors to its website with the headline, “To the Sea, To the World.” Over the past two decades, South Korea has been building an ocean-going, blue water navy that is capable of extended operations in waters beyond the peninsula. After the sinking of the Cheonan, the Navy scaled back plans to build a blue water navy to focus attention on more immediate defense needs around the peninsula. Last week, the ROK Navy announced a plan to resume the expansion of its blue water fleet with a new line of submarines, more Aegis-class destroyers, and twenty frigates.

One of South Korea’s successful uses of its blue water capability has been its participation in counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. In spring 2009, Seoul sent the Cheonghae unit consisting of one DDH-II destroyer, a Lynx helicopter, and a team of 30 Navy SEALS to join Counter Task Force (CTF)-151, a group of 25 countries that patrols the waters in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. For over three years, the Cheonghae unit has been escorting ROK commercial vessels and those of other countries and when necessary, conducting operations to foil pirate attacks and rescue seized vessels. The most high profile of these efforts was freeing the South Korean ship Samho Jewelry in January 2011. Read more ..


Obama and Benghazi

Arab Media Report Exposes Security Breaches at Benghazi Consulate Only Hours Before Assassination of U.S. Ambassador

November 2nd 2012

libya-consulate

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, a report on Alaan TV, a UAE channel, exposed lax security at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi only hours before Ambassador Christopher Stevens was assassinated in a terror attack on September 11th of this year. Excerpts from the report posted to MEMRI’s website reveal a series of communications between consulate staff and Libyan officials. At one point in the broadcast the reporter for Alaan says,”The letters revealed that since September 9, the Americans had been requesting special security arrangements, in preparation for the arrival of Ambassador Chris Stephens to Benghazi. These arrangements included the police guarding the front and rear gates of the consulate around the clock, in addition to a mobile patrol and a bomb-sniffing dog.”

Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Israel Admits to Killing Top PLO Terrorist in 1988

November 1st 2012

Ancient Doorways

Israel admitted Thursday that its secret agents killed the PLO's second-in-command in his Tunis home in 1988, a man responsible for scores of Israeli deaths. "Abu Jihad," whose real name was Khalil al-Wazir, was shot dead by Mossad agents in an operation led by Nahum Lev. Lev, who carried a box of chocolates that concealed a weapon, was accompanied by another agent dressed as a woman.

The story reads: They approached the house, where Lev shot and killed Abu Jihad’s bodyguard, who had fallen asleep in his car. After the unit got word that the bodyguard was neutralized, the remaining officers secured the doorway of the house. Part of the unit headed toward the basement precisely at the moment a second bodyguard woke up. He refused to let go of his firearm, and was killed. The gardener, Lev recounted, had decided to sleep in the basement that night, and he too was killed. “I felt sorry for the gardener,” Lev said. “But in that type of operation we have to make sure that any possible interference is neutralized.”

Another officer started firing toward the staircase of the house, near where Abu Jihad was located, and Lev followed him. “He shot at Abu Jihad first. It seemed like Abu Jihad was holding a pistol in his hand,” Lev said. “After that, I shot him with a long burst of fire. I was careful not to hurt his wife, who had showed up there. He died. The extra forces came and verified his death.”

Among other attacks against civilians, "Jihad" was responsible for the Coastal Road Massacre in in 1978 that took the lives of 38 Israelis. The Palestinian terrorist was also a leader in the PLO's first intifada against the Jewish state. Read more ..


The Drug Wars

The Real 'Chapo' Guzman and Why it Matters

November 1st 2012

Joaquin 'el Chapo' Guzman
Joaquin 'el Chapo' Guzman in 1993.

A widely propagated myth would have us believe that Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera and his Sinaloa Federation are less violent than many of their competitors. Statements from journalists and analysts allege that Sinaloa is more businesslike than Los Zetas, whose reputation for brutality is well-documented, and that this business savvy somehow renders the group relatively benign. In turn, this has led many to believe that the Mexican government could broker a deal with the leader of one of Mexico's largest criminal organizations.

However, a close examination of Sinaloa's evolution demonstrates the group is hardly the hallmark of civility. In fact, the history of Mexico's cartel wars over the past decade reveals that Guzman, his Sinaloa Federation and the various cartels with which they partner have been more territorially aggressive than any other Mexican cartel. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Sudan's Iran Alliance Under Scrutiny

October 31st 2012

Yarmouk Weapons Factory

Sudan's accusation that Israel bombed a Khartoum weapons plant last week has drawn attention to long-standing Israeli complaints of alleged Sudanese cooperation with Iran in smuggling weapons to Palestinian militants. Sudan and Iran have been allies for decades and boosted military ties under a 2008 agreement. As part of that relationship, two Iranian warships docked at Port Sudan on Monday, in what both sides described as a "routine visit". But, allegations that the two allies also cooperate in arms smuggling have grown since the October 24 explosions at Khartoum's Yarmouk weapons facility.

Khartoum complex raises suspicions

​​The Satellite Sentinel Project, a U.S.-based monitoring group, says images of Yarmouk taken before and after the pre-dawn incident suggest the complex housed "highly volatile cargo" that exploded when struck by air-delivered munitions. Sudanese authorities say four people were killed and blamed the destruction on Israeli warplanes. Since the incident, Israeli defense commentators have claimed that the volatile cargo at Yarmouk included missiles made under Iranian supervision for smuggling through Sudanese and Egyptian territory to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials decline to comment on what happened at Yarmouk, but repeat their accusations of Sudanese-Iranian coordination in arms smuggling. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iran Pulls Back from Nuclear Brink

October 31st 2012

iran_nuclear_scientist

Iran pulled back from the nuclear brink in August, when that country's nuclear engineers converted a stockpile of enriched uranium to fuel rods. That decision delayed an imminent Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, Israel's defense minister told The Telegraph. Still, Iran could enter a "zone of immunity" starting next spring or summer, thereby forcing a decision whether to attack Iran's nuclear facilities, Ehud Barak said. Mr Barak said this decision “allows contemplating delaying the moment of truth by eight to 10 months”. As for why Iran had drawn back, the minister said: “There could be at least three explanations. One is the public discourse about a possible Israeli or American operation deterred them from trying to come closer. It could probably be a diplomatic gambit that they have launched in order to avoid this issue culminating before the American election, just to gain some time. It could be a way of telling the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] 'oh we comply with our commitments’.” Read more ..


The Edge of Crime

FBI Crime Report Show Fewer Violent and Property Crimes

October 30th 2012

Police Running

The latest national crime report based on offenses reported to local, state and federal law enforcement agencies released on Monday shows a continuation of the downward trend for both violent and property crimes, according to the FBI. The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Report, Crime in the United States 2011, the estimated number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement (1,203,564) decreased for the fifth year in a row, while the estimated number of property crimes reported to law enforcement (9,063,173) decreased for the ninth year in a row.

The South, the most populous region in the country, accounted for 41.3 percent of all violent crimes, while lesser volumes of 22.9 percent were attributed in the West, 19.5 percent in the Midwest, and 16.2 percent in the Northeast. Aggravated assaults accounted for the highest number of estimated violent crimes reported to law enforcement at 62.4 percent. Firearms were used in 67.8 percent of the nation’s murders, 41.3 percent of robberies, and 21.2 percent of aggravated assaults (data on weapons used during forcible rapes is not collected). Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Boasts of 'Far more Advanced' Drones in its Arsenal

October 29th 2012

Drone -Pilot

Iran possesses drones that are far more advanced than the unmanned aircraft Iranian-backed Hezbollah launched into Israeli airspace this month, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Earlier this month, Israel shot down a drone after it flew 40 kilometers (25 miles) over its territory. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the aircraft, saying its parts had been manufactured in Iran and assembled in Lebanon.

Vahidi said the downed drone did not use his country's latest know-how, according to a report from Iran's Mehr news agency on Sunday. "The Islamic Republic of Iran currently possesses unmanned aircraft with technology that is far more advanced than the drone recently sent by Hezbollah forces to fly in the skies of the Zionist regime (Israel)," he was quoted as saying. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Azerbaijani Guards Arrest Iranian In Shootout Along Border

October 29th 2012

Azerbaijani Tank
Azerbaijan’s State Border Guarding Service

Azerbaijan’s State Border Guarding Service says an Iranian national was wounded and arrested after a shootout between Azerbaijani border guards and a group of armed individuals. Officials say the group tried "to illegally cross the border" with Iran, but they did not given the date of the incident. The wounded Iranian, Ali Gurbanvend, 23, underwent surgery at an Azerbaijani clinic and is in satisfactory condition. He was given first aid before he was taken to the General Hospital of Bilasuvar and then to Baku, where he had surgery. Now his state is satisfactory. Azerbaijani border guards have issued an official protest note to the leadership at Iran's Aslanduz border checkpoint. They are demanding a thorough investigation into the incident.

Tensions between Tehran and Baku escalated this year after Azerbaijan arrested a number of men with alleged links to Iran. They were reported to be plotting attacks in Azerbaijan. There is no report on the incident from Iran yet. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Saudi Cyber Attack Seen as Work of Amateur Hackers Backed by Iran

October 28th 2012

hacker keyboard

Digital security experts say a major August cyber-attack at Saudi Arabia's top oil company appears to be the work of amateur hackers working on behalf of a nation state, and several signs point to Iran as their sponsor. The experts say the methods apparently used by the hackers to damage many of Saudi Aramco's computers pose new challenges to other companies based in the region, and to Western powers engaged in cyber warfare with Iran. Several hacker groups quickly claimed responsibility for the August 15 attack on Aramco, but their identities have remained a mystery and their online claims have not been verified.

Iran Accused as Cyber Attacker
The New York Times  reported Tuesday that unnamed U.S. intelligence officials believe the attack's real perpetrator was Iran. But it said the officials offered no specific evidence to support their claim. Earlier this month, Iran's National Center of Cyberspace dismissed the U.S. allegation as politically motivated. Saudi Aramco has not commented on the perpetrators of the cyber-attack, citing an ongoing investigation. Seculert, an Israel-based security company specializing in advanced threat detection, said the Aramco hackers may be affiliated with a government because the virus they deployed was designed to do more than just destroy hard drives.
Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Kidnap More Westerners Wherever You Can, new al-Qaeda Video Urges

October 28th 2012

Zawahiri

Al-Qaeda's current leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, is urging rampant kidnapping of Westerners, especially Americans, by his Muslim followers in a new video. Zawahri also is advising jihadists throughout the world to join the Syrian rebellion and to insist that the Egyptian government implements Sharia law. The Egyptian-born Islamist, who rose to the position of al-Qaeda's top leader after the killing of Osama bin Laden, spoke in a video that's more than two hours in length. Zawahri's videotaped message was originally released on Wednesday two weeks after the radical cleric released a filmed statement calling for more violent protests against the U.S. because of a film mocking the Prophet Mohammad being posted on YouTube by an American.

"We are seeking, with [Allah's help], to abduct [other Americans] and to incite Muslims to capture the citizens of the countries that are fighting Muslims in order to release our captives," he said. In his vitriolic message, he ordered his Muslim followers to continue Egypt's revolution until Sharia law is that nation's constitution. He also said that Muslims who join the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria should push for Syria to become an Islamist nation. Read more ..


Broken Borders

Obama Border Patrol: National Security on the Cheap

October 27th 2012

Border Patrol

President Barack Obama's and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's plan to provide new equipment and technology for the U.S. Border Patrol remains on the back-burner with the budgeted money being used to implement the administration's de facto Amnesty program for over a million illegal aliens, according to Homeland Security Newswire on Tuesday.

The leadership at the National Border Patrol Council -- the Border agents' collective-bargaining organization --continue to complain about their members being stuck with outdated equipment. For example, the alarm sensors now in use were originally said to be able to put Border Patrol agents in position to capture 90 percent of border invaders, but the Department of Homeland Security's own inspector general reported that a mere 4 percent of the alarms were confirmed cases of smugglers and border crossers, while 34 percent were false, or nuisance, alarms and 62 percent were undetermined. Read more ..


The Drug Wars

Pocket Litter: The Evidence That Criminals Carry

October 27th 2012

mexican police dudes

On Oct. 12, a pregnant medical doctor from Guadalajara, Mexico, attempted to enter the United States through the San Ysidro border crossing. The woman reportedly wanted to give birth in the United States so that her child would be a U.S. citizen. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested the woman, who has since been charged with visa fraud in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

Ordinarily, the arrest of a Mexican national for document fraud at a border crossing would hardly be newsworthy. However, this case may be anything but ordinary: Authorities have identified the woman as Alejandrina Gisselle Guzman Salazar, who reportedly is the daughter of Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera, one of the world's most wanted men. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Israel and the Weapons Factory Bombing in Sudan

October 27th 2012

IDF F-16s

The Israeli air force on Wednesday destroyed a weapons factory in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, during a well-planned, well-timed sneak attack, an Israeli counterterrorism source stated. The factory also manufactured chemical weapons. According to the Israeli source, Sudan, which is predominately Muslim, has for years been an accommodating arms supplier for the terrorist group Hamas, which now controls the Gaza Strip along with other radical Islamist organizations.

Sources said that the Israeli government reported to news reporters that four Israeli military planes attacked and destroyed the arms factory in Khartoum around midnight Sudanese time. The Israeli military attack ignited a huge fire in the destroyed weapons plant and surrounding buildings, according to the description given by the Israeli government. Read more ..


The Arab Winter of Rage

The Benghazi Attack: Some Thoughts

October 26th 2012

Libyan rebels celebrate

"The real reason behind Benghazigate: Was Obama gun-walking arms to jihadists?" Frank Gaffney, The Washington Times, 22 October 2012  
 
On 9/11/2012 Ambassador Christopher Stevens was in Benghazi on what one can assume was hardly a pleasure trip. Since being named ambassador earlier that year he had been an observer as Libya's historical regions-Tripolitania in the west, oil-rich Cyrenaica in the east, and the Fezzan in the south-were reverting to their traditional fissiparous ways.  Tribal alliances were falling apart while the Sufi Senoussi brotherhood had revived in the east, the Muslim Brotherhood was very active in Tripoli, and the Fezzan was a no-man's-land where ethnic Toubou and Tuareg controlled trade routes into Africa's Sahil.  Most ominous of all, the Islamists were active everywhere. And the chaotic situation in Libya itself has allowed the various groups to husband weapons in what observers fear will eventually be a bloody showdown. Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Is Iron Dome a Failure? The IDF Explains

October 26th 2012

X band radar

Of the 86 rockets that were launched from Gaza into Israel in recent days, only 8 were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system. This appears to be a relatively small success rate when considering the billions of dollars that went into its development. The Algemeiner wanted to know why, despite the plaudits and praise, we are still seeing images of destruction and suffering at the hands of missiles being launched from Gaza. IDF spokesperson, Captain Eytan Buchman, explained.

On how the system works: “Because of the quantity of rockets fired it would be unrealistic to try to intercept every rocket. So what it does is it projects where the rocket is expected to land based on the trajectory of the rocket. So if we identify that a rocket is going to land in a populated area, or some other strategic site we initiate the interception process. This process happens within 15-30 seconds. So within 15-30 seconds we have to identify a rocket launch, figure out a trajectory and then figure out the best path on which to send an interceptor missile.” Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Hizbullah’s Unspoken War in Syria

October 25th 2012

Hezbollah rally

As the fighting in Syria intensifies, the conflict has already spilled over the border into Lebanon, threatening the fragile sectarian balance holding that country together and sparking yet another blood-spattered internal conflict. Although the clashes are still limited to the ill-defined border areas between the two countries and in the northern Lebanese town of Tripoli, still, the latest car bombing in Beirut on October 19 (the first since 2008) which targeted senior Lebanese intelligence official Wissam al-Hassan, who led the investigation that implicated Syria and Hizbullah in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was most probably the result of Syrian–Hizbullah cooperation and could herald an expansion of the domestic Lebanese conflict between supporters and opponents of the Assad regime. Hassan was the brains behind the uncovering of a bomb plot that led to the arrest and indictment in August 2012 of former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha, an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, in a setback for Damascus and its Lebanese allies including Hizbullah. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Did Israel Strike an Arms Factory in Sudan?

October 25th 2012

Heron Drone
Israeli Heron drone

Did Israel just bomb an arms factory in Sudan?

The Sudanese government is claiming that Israel sent four jets to destroy an arms factory Wednesday morning, killing two. Reportedly, 60 percent of the factory was totally destroyed by the strike, while 40 percent was partially damaged. "We believe that Israel is behind it," adding "Sudan reserves the right to strike back at Israel."

Israel has reportedly undertaken military action in Sudan before. Although the newly independent and mostly Christian South Sudan is a staunch ally of Israel, the Muslim-dominated north Sudan is a hotbed of terrorism and fundamentalism. It has long been believed that many of the arms used by Gaza terrorist groups were manufactured or bought in Sudan and then smuggled into the Strip via Egypt. In 2009, Sudan also blamed Israel for a strike on an arms convoy reportedly headed to the Gaza Strip. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Hamas Continues to Pepper Israeli Border Region with Rockets

October 25th 2012

Hamas Rocket

Violence has flared on the Israeli border with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, leaving at least four Palestinians dead and several people in Israel and Gaza wounded. Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted several rockets fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza. But dozens of other rockets and mortar shells crashed into Israel hitting a number of houses.

​​Eli Nitzan’s house took a direct hit at a farming community in southern Israel. “There was a loud explosion like I have never heard before and I have heard a lot of explosions,” Nitzan told Israel Radio. “Fortunately the shrapnel flew over our heads, otherwise I would be dead.” Israel is blaming Iran and the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza for the attacks. “Iran is supporting terror attacks now against us in Gaza," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "We will fight and we will hit them very, very hard, very hard. The way to fight terror is to fight terror, and that we shall do with great force.” Read more ..


Israel's Looming Attack

Brothers in Arms: Would Hizballah and Hamas Join Iran in a War Against Israel?

October 24th 2012

Gaza Qasam Rocket

There is a prevalent view that in the event of an Israeli strike on Iran, Tehran’s proxies in Lebanon and Gaza – Hizballah and Hamas – would join in retaliation against Israel. A more likely scenario, however, is that those groups’ participation will be limited at best. Hizballah must consider its crumbling support from the weakened Assad regime, as well as popular opposition within Lebanon to its role in military conflict with Israel. Hamas’ recent feud with Iran over the group’s lack of support for the Assad regime could render it reluctant to assist in the fight against Israel.

The widely-expected response of Hizballah and Hamas to an Israeli preemptive strike on Iran includes military action against Israel. This thinking is logical in light of the fact that Iran is a major sponsor of both terror groups. This article, however, reaches the conclusion that one of two scenarios will play out, in which the two groups either respond on a smaller scale or stand down completely. Read more ..


The Edge of Piracy

Pirate Attacks are Down in 2012

October 23rd 2012

Pirates

Sea piracy has fallen to its lowest level since 2008, including a sharp decline off the coast of Somalia. However, the International Maritime Bureau warns Africa’s Gulf of Guinea is growing increasingly risky for shipping. There have been 233 reported pirate attacks worldwide in the first nine months of this year. That’s down from more than 350 during the same period last year.

Pottengal Mukundan is director of the International Maritime Bureau, which runs the Piracy Reporting Center. He said, “The numbers so far this year are down from the last few years. I think particularly with Somalia we have to be a little careful, and wait for the end-year statistics to see if this is a sustained trend. But so far, the numbers are encouraging.” Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

How to Vet Potential Allies in Syria

October 23rd 2012

Anti Assad insurgents

Determining the suitability of armed opposition elements as potential recipients of military assistance is complex and challenging. In Syria, such groups are numerous, rapidly evolving, and highly varied in ideology. Nevertheless, they do not pose an impenetrable mystery. Some are longstanding actors in the rebellion and currently hold or are contesting important areas of the country; a number of Free Syrian Army commanders are public personalities and can be contacted with relative ease. Vetting such actors is a critical prerequisite to providing military assistance, based on the recognition that not all armed elements should receive aid, and that some units are more worthy of aid than others.
Moreover, vetting must not be done just in terms of outcomes on the battlefield -- equal consideration must be given to the roles that armed units will play after the regime falls. Given the fragmented nature of the Syrian opposition to date, and the lack of Western intervention to support the protest movement, those who are taking literal shots at Bashar al-Assad now are almost certain to be calling the shots as the regime gives way. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Romney A Better Negotiator with Iran--Says Senor

October 22nd 2012

Ahmadinejad triumphant

Senior Romney foreign policy adviser Dan Senor on Monday said that Romney would be a more effective negotiator with Iran than is President Obama. 

“I think a lot of Americans would probably agree he’d be the better guy to be at the negotiating table on behalf of the United States than President Obama, given that we are four years closer today to Iran getting a nuclear weapon than we were when President Obama took over,” said Senor in an interview with NBC’s “Today.” Senor was asked about a New York Times report claiming the administration has agreed to a framework for resuming one-on-one negotiations with Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program and if Romney would also hold direct talks if elected. Senor said a President Romney would consider a range of options, including negotiations to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear arsenal, and said Romney could be a more effective negotiator in talks with Iran.

“It’s going to be a comprehensive strategy and we should utilize a range of tools in our toolkit in achieving that diplomatic outcome and Gov. Romney’s not going to rule anything out. He’s been very clear about that for some time,” said Senor.  Read more ..


Mali on Edge

African Leaders Prepare for Military Intervention in Northern Mali

October 21st 2012

Tuareg warriors

High-level delegations from the United Nations, West African bloc ECOWAS, and the African Union met with Malian leaders Friday to develop a coherent strategy for tackling the crisis in northern Mali, where al-Qaida linked militant groups have taken control. Mali’s interim President Dioncounda Traore urged representatives from ECOWAS, the African Union, European Union, United Nations and other key partners to act immediately in addressing the deteriorating situation in the north.

Traore assured attendees of the total cooperation of the Malian government, and said it would not falter because those present were there as friends, brothers and partners at a time when the pooling of resources is the only response to the security challenges that Mali is facing. Traore described the situation as a “race against time” against a “common enemy” and said that these challenges represent a risk for the Sahel, for West Africa, for the Sahara, for Africa and for the world. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Tensions High in Lebanon After Deadly Bombing

October 20th 2012

Lebanese protesters

Tensions are high in Lebanon a day after a deadly bombing that killed the country's police intelligence chief and at least seven other people.  Militiamen forced businesses to close in the the coastal port city of Tripoli, and army troops shot at protestors blocking roads in the Bekaa Valley.  

Lebanese Army tanks deployed along strategic routes in the capital Beirut Saturday, removing burning tires and rubbish which protesters had dumped to block traffic. Army troops also fanned out in the coastal cities of Sidon and Tripoli, as well as across the Bekaa Valley. he deployments came after the Lebanese government met in an urgent session at the presidential palace in Baabda to discuss Friday's explosion which killed police Colonel, Wissam al-Hassan who was the senior police intelligence officer in the country.  Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

U.S. and UN Slams 'Barbaric' Beirut Bombing, Syria Blamed By Some Lebanese

October 20th 2012

Beirut Bombing Oct19 2012

The White House has condemned "in the strongest terms" what it calls a terrorist attack in Beirut that killed a top security official and seven others. In a statement, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said the United States will stand with the Lebanese government to bring to justice those responsible "for this barbaric attack,"  which killed the head of the intelligence division of Lebanon's domestic security forces, Brigadier-General Wissam al-Hassan. The UN Security Council also denounced the blast, which occurred on October 19.

Guatemalan ambassador and acting Security Council President Gert Rosenthal read out a Security Council statement, which "strongly condemned the terrorist attack...which killed Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan...and caused numerous deaths and injuries, including among civilians." Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Preserving the Syrian Paper Trail

October 18th 2012

Battle for Aleppo

When the regime of Bashar al-Assad is destroyed or pushed out of Damascus, it will leave behind a wrecked capital and unparalleled record of supporting terrorist groups and covert deals with Russia, Iran and North Korea. What we understand of that record will be shaped by the documents that are preserved and analyzed. What Syrians will understand about forty years of rule by the fascist Baath party and its crimes against the Syrian people also depends on preserving something vital yet almost out of sight: the regime's archives and files.

The Assad regime's internal repression is understood but poorly documented. The destruction of the city of Hama in 1982 that killed perhaps twenty-five thousand people with explosives, bulldozers and poison gas is the best-known example. But human-rights organizations and Syrian dissidents have far longer lists of crimes. Who ordered and executed these? Who were the middle managers and field agents? Read more ..



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