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The Edge of Piracy

Pirate Attacks are Down in 2012

October 23rd 2012


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 ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Defining Al Qaeda and its Persistent Goals

October 18th 2012

al Qaeda Fighters
Al Qaeda's Abu Hamza

The Obama administration's efforts to counter the threat posed by al Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement have been a contentious topic in the U.S. presidential race. Political rhetoric abounds on both sides; administration officials claim that al Qaeda has been seriously crippled, while some critics of the administration allege that the group is stronger than ever. As with most political rhetoric, both claims bear elements of truth, but the truth depends largely on how al Qaeda and jihadism are defined. Unfortunately, politicians and the media tend to define al Qaeda loosely and incorrectly.

The jihadist threat will persist regardless of who is elected president, so understanding the actors involved is critical. But a true understanding of those actors requires taxonomical acuity. It seems worthwhile, then, to revisit Stratfor's definitions of al Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement. Read more ..

Broken Government

Following the Shooting death of Mexican Teen, Calls emerge for Border Oversight

October 17th 2012

Click to select Image

An El Paso-based immigrant advocacy and human rights organization has renewed a demand for Washington to establish an independent oversight and review commission tasked with examining transparency, institutional violence and “the overall border enforcement strategy and its impact on border communities and families.”

The Border Network for Human Rights made the call following last week’s shooting death of 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez allegedly by a Border Patrol agent at the international line separating Nogales, Arizona, from its sister city of Nogales, Sonora.

The young man was shot six times from the U.S. side of the border while he was in Mexico, according to a lawyer representing the victim’s family. Quoted in the local press, the Border Patrol said shots were fired from U.S. territory when its agents were accosted by rock throwers after observing smugglers toss drugs over a border fence. “Verbal commands from agents to cease were ignored,” the Border Patrol said. U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Victor Brabble added that video footage of the incident was turned over to the FBI. Read more ..

Mali on Edge

EU Considers Intervention in Mali to Control Islamic Terrorists

October 17th 2012

french cops

Officials from the European Union said on Monday they would draw up plans for a military training program complete with advisors to help Mali's army regain control of the Islamist-dominated north of the country. But the Islamic terrorists have already begun threatening and plotting against EU members such as France.

For example, French police officials on Thursday said they arrested a group of Islamists who were planning suicide bombings in Paris in retaliation for France's policy regarding Mali and the French government's push for assisting the Mali government. According to officials, these Islamists also were recruiting Jihadist fighters to join al-Qaeda and other groups who are participating in the uprising against the Assad-regime in Syria. According to the French police, a total of 12 suspects were arrested at different times, different days and at different locations beginning at the start of the week. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Hamas Terrorists Shoot Anti-Aircraft Missile at Israeli Aircraft

October 16th 2012

Russia S-A Strela-2 missile

An anti-aircraft missile was fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza last week at an Israeli aircraft but missed its target, the Hebrew language newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported Tuesday.

According to the report the missile was smuggled in from Libya. Israeli authorities have worried that the missiles could be used against the Jewish state since an estimated 1,000 of them went missing from Libya’s arsenal in the aftermath of the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. The Russian made Strela-2 surface-to-air missile system can hit aircraft flying as fast as 1,118 miles an hour and at altitudes up to 7,500 feet.

According to military sources it is believed that after a relative lull in the conflict, Hamas is intending to escalate the conflict with Israel. Such provocations could signal their intent to do so. Commercial aircraft have already been told to avoid flying over Gaza. Read more ..

China and America

Retaliation Likely Against U.S. Companies Doing Business with Chinese Telecoms

October 16th 2012


Analysts say this week's U.S. congressional report that called two Chinese telecoms a threat to national security is likely to prompt China to retaliate against U.S. businesses. The House Intelligence Committee report warned U.S. companies against doing business with China's largest phone equipment companies, Huawei and ZTE.Released on October 15, the bipartisan report said the telecom giants could use their equipment to spy on the U.S., citing what it described as "a close relationship" with China's Communist Party.


So far, Beijing has only issued stern complaints about the report in official press briefings and state media editorials. But analysts say more moves are likely to come. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Obama Reportedly Weighing Military Strike Against Libya Attackers

October 16th 2012

Apache Helicopters

The White House is considering a strike against militants responsible for the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others — if and when it can track down the perpetrators, The Associated Press reported. The AP, citing current and former administration officials, reports that the Obama administration is weighing whether the short-term payoff of retribution against al Qaeda for the Sept. 11 attack in Libya is worth the trade-off of potentially elevating the group's stature. There is also concern about alienating governments that could help fight terror in the region, according to the AP.

The United States has put special operations forces on standby and moved drones in the skies above Libya, which would be ready to strike from Libya to Mali in response to the attack. The report follows news last week that the Joint Special Operations Command was preparing information on suspects for potential missions to kill or capture the militants. Read more ..

The Edge of Crime

Justice Department designates MS-13 Transnational Criminal Organization

October 15th 2012

Mara Salvatrucha

The United States Treasury Department on Friday announced that officials have designated the violent and powerful gang MS-13 as a "transnational criminal organization." MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, originated in El Salvador and a large chapter was set up by immigrants, many of them illegal, in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas.

While the Treasury Department claims MS-13 has about 30,000-members nationwide, the FBI estimate its membership closer to 50,000.

The designation, which is similar in scope to the Terrorist designation list, allows the United States government to seize assets from the MS-13 gang. The group makes millions of dollars in profits from drug-trafficking and other criminal activities, according to the Treasury Department. Besides the United States, MS-13 has thousands of members in Mexico, Central America, and even Canada. According to law enforcement sources in Washington, the Treasury Department's sanctions make it illegal for American companies, citizens, and banks to conduct business with them. Read more ..

Mexico on Edge

Massive Cross-Border Contraband Implicates Mexican Officials

October 14th 2012

Mexico marijuana seizure

A great deal of government and media chatter is focused on the U.S.-Mexico trade in drugs, guns and illicit cash. Yet much less attention is paid to the flow of other contraband products, perhaps less sexy to the mass media, but arguably having an equal or greater impact on the economy, environment, public health and state coffers of the border region and far beyond. In Ciudad Juarez and southern New Mexico, a recent series of law enforcement actions and news reports exposed a few more shadowy corners of the massive contraband economy.

On October 1, Ciudad Juarez municipal police who were reportedly probing a homicide ended up in a warehouse in the La Cuesta section of the Mexican border city. Inside the building, officers found 120 boxes of illegally imported Chinese cigarettes and 18 cases of Torres and Buchannan’s whiskies, the latter brand a trendy and pricey booze popular among the free-spending set in Mexico. The items were discovered concealed in used bus tires that were packed in a truck trailer parked inside the warehouse, as well as in a pair of vehicles.

In addition to detaining five persons, city police seized three vehicles, including one with U.S. license plates. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Israeli Air Force Strikes Gaza Terror Cell

October 14th 2012

Fighter Jets

The Israeli Air Force struck a Gaza rocket launching crew moments after they launched an attack earlier today. “This afternoon a terrorist squad fired a rocket from the central Gaza Strip at Israel and was targeted, moments following, by IAF aircraft. A hit was confirmed,” said the IDF in a release to reporters.

The IAF initiative is the 4th strike on Gaza terror infrastructure in the last 24 hour period, and comes as Israel moves to stem a recent uptick in rocket attacks. “Over 500 rockets have hit Israel since the beginning of 2012, over 40 in October alone,” said the IDF statement. Two rockets fired this morning from the Strip exploded in areas in the Eshkol Regional Council.

According to Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot citing “Palestinian sources”, one terror operative was killed instantly, and another terrorist died of his wounds in hospital. Two other were injured according to the report. AFP provided more information on those killed in the strike naming them as Ezzedine Abu Nasira, 23, and Ahmad Fatayer, 22. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Terrorism Risk Greatest for Subway and Rail Commuters

October 13th 2012

NYPD and flag

Despite homeland security improvements since September 11, 2001, subway and rail commuters face higher risks of falling victim to terrorists and mass violence than frequent flyers or those engaged in virtually any other activity. And while successful criminal and terrorist acts against aviation have fallen sharply, those against subways and commuter trains have surged. These are among the findings of a new study by Arnold Barnett, George Eastman Professor of Management Science at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, who will deliver a presentation titled “Has Terror Gone to Ground?” at the INFORMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix on October 15.   

Barnett found that during the period 1982-91 deliberate acts of malice caused 1,327 deaths worldwide among air travelers, but none on subways/commuter trains.   But between 2002-11, the pattern reversed: there were 203 aviation deaths and 804 among subway/rail commuters.     Read more ..

Turkey-Russia The Edge

Turkish-Russian Tensions Could Spread to Middle East

October 13th 2012

Syrian passenger plane

Russia pressed ahead with an angry flow of rhetoric Friday, demanding that Turkish authorities reveal exactly what type of munitions they claim to have found aboard a Syrian airliner forced down over Turkey on Wednesday.  The incident comes as Russian-Turkish relations grow increasingly tense. 

The Kremlin strongly denies Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's claim that Russian-made munitions were aboard a Syrian plane intercepted by Turkish jets. Soli Ozel, who teaches international relations at Istanbul's Kadir Has University, warns that the dispute could escalate.

"The Russians are obviously blistering and the Turkish government has the obligation to provide evidence that there was ammunition on the plane.  And if they can't, I am sure the Russians are going to be even more bitter. I am sure they are going to respond to this,"  Ozel said. Read more ..

The Defense Edge

Panetta Says US Boosting Cyber Defense

October 13th 2012

hacker keyboard

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has revealed some details of U.S. plans to deal with a massive cyber attack. Those plans include launching a possible cyber-offensive in what some analysts say is a message to Iran. With thousands of enemy cyber-actors probing the Pentagon’s systems millions of times a day, the secretary of defense has spoken about the threat of a massive cyber attack before. But his warnings late Thursday in New York have been the strongest yet.

“This is a pre-9/11 moment. The attackers are plotting,” said Panetta.

Panetta said it is no secret that Russia and China have advanced cyber capabilities and he said Iran has also undertaken concerted efforts to use cyberspace to its advantage. U.S. officials have blamed Iran for a massive cyberattack two months ago on systems at the Saudi company Aramco and a natural gas company in Qatar. The assault, known as Shamoon, infected 30,000 computers. Read more ..

North Korea's Nukes

Were North Korean Nuclear Tests Faked? New Seismic Findings Raise Questions

October 13th 2012

NK Military Parade Apr 2012

This spring, a Swedish scientist sparked international concern with a journal article saying that radioactive particles detected in 2010 showed North Korea had set off at least two small nuclear blasts--possibly in experiments designed to boost the yields of much larger bombs. Shortly after, the pot was stirred with separate claims that some intelligence agencies suspected the detonations were done in cooperation with Iran. Now, a new paper says the tests likely never took place—or that if they did, they were too tiny to have any military significance. The new report, by seismologists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, will be published later this month in the journal Science & Global Security, where the earlier paper also appeared.

It is generally accepted that North Korea has carried out at least two nuclear test explosions, in 2006 and 2009. The Lamont scientists studied both those blasts via the seismic waves they generated. They concluded that the second test—thought to be in the range of about 2 to 4 kilotons—was five times more powerful than the first, though still dwarfed by the weapons of established nuclear powers. (A kiloton equals the explosive energy of 1,000 tons of TNT.) Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Drone Intrusion Over Israel a Reminder of Simmering Regional Tensions

October 12th 2012

Israeli Jet Diving

A small, mysterious unidentified drone quietly made its way into Israeli air space last week. Trailed by two F-16I Israeli fighter jets, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flew across southern Israel, after intruding in from the Mediterranean Sea and passing Gaza, possibly in an attempt to blend in with local Israeli drone traffic.

The intruding drone had no explosives attached to it, but was carrying surveillance equipment. As it crossed the northern Negev desert, flying over an uninhabited area, one of the fighter pilots received the order to shoot it down.

Seconds later, a missile fired from the fighter struck the object, and sent burning debris to the ground. Down below, IDF Engineering Corps soldiers were already waiting to collect the pieces and bring them back for analysis.

It's not every day that a hostile drone can be found in Israeli skies. The last time it happened was in 2006, when Hezbollah sent a low-flying explosives-laden UAV toward greater Tel Aviv during the Second Lebanon War. It was intercepted by fighter jets long before it could reach its target. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Iran and Turkey Compete for Middle East Power

October 12th 2012

Assad and Erdogan

As both armies exchanged fire for a week, Turkey’s president, Abdullah Gul, warned that “the worst case scenario we have all been dreading” was unfolding. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said: “… we are also not far from war.” Syrian spokesmen sought to stress that Turkish power was looming over the Arab states as a whole from the north. As Turkey began to make political recommendations about the composition of a post-Assad government, Syria’s information minister responded by playing on old Arab fears that Turkey wanted to control the Arab world by naming “the custodians” of Damascus, Mecca, Cairo and Jerusalem. He rebuked Ankara by also remarking: “Turkey is not the Ottoman Sultanate.”

Syria is not alone in looking suspiciously upon the reassertion of Turkish power. On Oct. 2, the Iraqi cabinet decided to annul all agreements which provided the basis of the Turkish military presence in Iraq that has lasted for 16 years. Turkey has maintained bases in Iraq since 1997, as well as armored artillery units. The U.S. military in Iraq provided an important buffer between Iraqi and Turkish forces, especially in the sensitive Kurdistan region. With the U.S. out of Iraq, Turkish forces are now being asked to withdraw. Read more ..

The Cyber Edge

Panetta’s Cyber Warning: ‘This Is a Pre-9/11 Moment’

October 12th 2012

Shadowy Computer User

The Pentagon is mobilizing its cyberwarfare arsenal in preparation for a massive assault on U.S. networks that could “paralyze the nation,” said Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta. “A cyber attack perpetrated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11,” Panetta said Oct. 11 in a speech to corporate leaders of Business Executives for National Security, a nonpartisan group.
Panetta, along with Frank J. Bisignano, chief operating officer of JP Morgan Chase & Co., received the BENS Eisenhower Award, following a black-tie dinner at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, in New York City. Hostile network penetrations are nothing new at the Department of Defense, whose 15,000 computer systems are routinely targeted by hackers and industrial spies. But Panetta is now warning that even more destructive cyber weapons are being aimed at the United States. He is directing the Pentagon to begin ramping up network-security efforts, and he is calling on the private sector to help by sharing intelligence about suspected or actual attacks.

The Islamic Winter of Rage

France Confronts Home-Grown Islamist Terrorist Cells

October 12th 2012

french riot police toulouse mar 2012

Following the arrest of a terror cell responsible for planning and executing a grenade attack on a Jewish store in Sarcelles, France, earlier this year, the country’s interior minister has spoken out regarding the threat that homegrown Islamist terrorists pose to all French citizens and French Jews in particular.

“We know that there are dozens, even hundreds of individuals who are capable of organising themselves like the group that has just been dismantled,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said. “Several other similar groups are being watched. There’s a real threat. Radical Islamism…thrives on fantasies, on hatred towards our country and towards French Jews.”

The comments come just days after police raids across France to arrest members of the terror cell responsible for an attack on a kosher grocery store in September. A man named Jeremie Félix Louis-Sidney, who was a French national and converted to Salafist Islam, and is believed to be the man who carried out the September attack, was killed during the raid on his Paris apartment after he opened fire on police.

An explosives lab, nearly 30,000 Euros, and a list of Jewish organizations in France were among the finds in police raids that took place from Cannes to Torcy. Read more ..

Th Edge of Terrorism

The Evolution of the Terrorist's Tradecraft

October 11th 2012

al Qaeda Fighters

The terrorist tradecraft does not happen in isolation. The practitioners of terrorist tradecraft conduct their activities in the midst of other people -- the authorities attempting to identify them and thwart their plans as well as civilians. Terrorist tradecraft also does not remain static. It is constantly evolving. These changes are prompted not only by countermeasures put in place to prevent terrorist attacks but also by advances in technology -- a powerful force that can serve to either nullify old tradecraft practices or to provide new tools to the purveyors of terror.

Terrorism is an enduring reality. While geopolitical changes may cause a shift in the actors who employ terrorism as a tactic, terrorism will continue to be used no matter what the next geopolitical cycle brings. It is, and will continue to be, a tactic used by militant actors who want to confront a militarily superior enemy. Focusing on the tradecraft used in attacks and charting its changes and trends not only permits observers to understand what is happening and why but also provides an opportunity to forecast what is coming next. Read more ..

The Islamic Winter of Rage

Yemeni Security Official Killed at U.S. Embassy in Sanaa

October 11th 2012

Embassy Attacks 9-12-12

Security officials say a gunman on a motorcycle has killed a Yemeni security official employed by the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa. The officials say the shooter opened fire on a car carrying Qassem Aqlani as he traveled to work on Thursday. The unidentified attacker then fled the area. Security officials said the attack resembled those carried out by al-Qaida, but that it was too early to say if the group was behind the shooting.
Yemen's government has been battling to regain territory from al-Qaida's Yemen branch after militants seized control of parts of the country's south last year.

The Edge of Terrorism

Indonesia Uncovers 'Credible' Terror Threat

October 10th 2012

Indonesian security forces

Indonesian police say they have uncovered "credible evidence" of a planned terror attack on dignitaries attending a Friday ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the deadly Bali bombings. Bali police chief I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana said Wednesday that the country's security has been raised to its highest level ahead of the ceremony on the resort island.

"From the information we gathered, we have detected signs of an attack targeting dignitaries who will attend the event," he said. "Therefore, the police and army forces including the community have made sure of their readiness."

Yoga Ana said over 2,000 security personnel have been deployed, and all entry points to Bali, including airports and seaports, are being monitored. Among the world dignitaries expected at the ceremony is Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who said on Wednesday she is determined to attend despite the terror threat. The October 2002 attacks on two Bali nightclubs killed 202 people, including 88 Australians and seven Americans. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

State Dept. Now Contradicts Initial Claims on Benghazi Attack

October 10th 2012

Libyan rioters at US consulate Sep 2012 #1

Senior State Department officials on Tuesday refuted claims by administration members that the deadly attack in Libya on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11 was provoked by an anti-Islam video. As a House hearing prepares to investigate the security of American personnel in the tumultuous country, two senior State Department sources told reporters that attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi did not happen as a result of protests. An official explained, in detail, what happened on the night that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed by an armed group of militants.

Stevens spent the day inside the Benghazi compound, which served as one of two U.S. bases in the city, "because it is 9-11, out of prudence, he has all his meetings on the compound," the unidentified official explained. "They are out in the street in front of the compound, everything is calm at 8:30 p.m., there is nothing unusual - there has been nothing unusual during the day at all outside," the official said. Read more ..

Mali on Edge

N. Mali Militias Train Youth to Fight

October 9th 2012


Northern Malian self-defense militias are uniting and training young men and women how to fight, as they prepare for a future offensive to the North. The militias reflect a growing impatience among Malians to retake the territory from al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants who seized control in April.

Leaders of the new generation of the Ganda Koy revived their militia in April, shortly after armed Tuareg and Islamist groups seized Mali’s three northern regions. The volunteers, young men in plastic sandals and athletic shorts and young women in tee-shirts and cloth wrap skirts, get a crash course in how to be soldiers. Commander Djibril Moussa Diallo was among the ex-military officers who founded the Ganda Koy, in opposition to the Tuareg rebellions of the 1990s. He smiles as he watches recruits march in formation. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Danish Agent: Provided Intel for U.S. Drone Attack That Killed Anwar al-Awlaki

October 9th 2012

MQ-1 Predator Drone

The American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki may have been targeted for a deadly drone strike by a Danish intelligence agent who has now spoken publicly on his role for the first time. The operation to eliminate the Yemeni terror threat to America apparently was an example of good cooperation between intelligence services of several countries to fight al Qaeda.

Awlaki died on Sept. 30, 2011, in a drone mission in a remote desert of Yemen. The New Mexico–born terrorist had established himself as both a key propagandist for al Qaeda and a key operational figure in its Yemeni franchise, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Awlaki was a master of explaining al Qaeda’s narrative and ideology to potential recruits, especially those whose native language was not Arabic. He was the guiding hand behind AQAP’s English-language Web magazine, Inspire, which was full of his writings and interviews, as well as helpful tips such as how to make a bomb in your mother’s kitchen. Read more ..

Islam's Winter of Rage

Safety Alert Issued to American Nationals in Pakistan

October 9th 2012

Pakistan anti us protest

The diplomatic officials assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, issued a threat alert on Sunday for U.S. nationals, advising them to keep a low profile, avoid traveling at night and taking other safety precautions, according to security source.

The embassy informed hundreds of American nationals that on Sunday the Pakistani Ministry of Interior issued its own threat alert regarding possible terrorist attacks in Islamabad. Besides al-Qaeda, there are radical Islamists from the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani network who all use improvised explosive devices and other weapons against non-Muslims. The Pakistani government believes foreigners risk being killed or injured at key government installations in the downtown area of Islamabad known as the "Red Zone" as well as five-star hotels located in Islamabad. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Turkey Continues to Return Fire After Syrian Mortar Attack

October 8th 2012

Turkish Soldiers on patrol

Turkey launched a new retaliatory strike Monday after a mortar bomb fired from Syria hit the Turkish countryside as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of "extremely dangerous" fallout from the escalating border conflict.

Ban also said he is "deeply concerned" about the continuing flow of weapons to both the Syrian government and opposition forces, and the impact of the Syrian crisis on neighboring Lebanon. He reiterated calls for a political solution, which he said is the "only way" to resolve the crisis that began in March of last year.

The Turkish strike against Syrian positions for the sixth consecutive day came after a shell landed in a Turkish border area in southern Hatay province. The latest mortar round from Syria landed 150 meters within Turkey's border in the district of Hacipasa, according to Turkish officials. Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Monday that "worst-case scenarios" were taking place in Syria and urged the international community to act. As tensions simmered between the two neighbors, Syrian Information Minister Omran Zahbi said Damascus is not responsible for security along the border. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

An Incriminating Timeline: Obama Administration and Libya

October 8th 2012

Amb Chris Stevens
Ambassador Christopher Stevens

The latest incriminating information on the U.S. consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya indicates that the State Department turned down a request for additional security from concerned U.S. embassy staff. New evidence shows there were security threats in Libya in the months prior to the deadly September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Despite these threats, the State Department left its personnel there to fend for themselves. And when the terrorist attack did take place, the Obama Administration peddled the ridiculous story that an offensive, amateurish, anti-Islam YouTube video was to blame in order to avoid characterizing the murders of four Americans as terrorism.

On October 2, a letter was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R–CA) and Jason Chaffetz (R–UT), Chairman of the National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations Subcommittee. The letter detailed 13 known security threats against U.S. facilities in Libya in the six months prior to September 11. Read more ..

The Defense Edge

Obama Administration’s Promised Payouts to Defense Firms May not Occur

October 8th 2012

The first U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship, Freedom

The Obama administration is unlikely to make payments to defense contractors to cover severance costs caused by across-the-board Pentagon cuts, according to defense analysts. The prospect of the payouts has sparked a political firestorm, with congressional Republicans comparing them to bribes and saying they'll do anything possible to stop the government from making the payments. But the likelihood of the payments being made is actually quite remote, defense analysts say, because the companies won’t feel the effects of sequestration immediately.

The government also is not planning to cancel contracts the day the cuts take effect. All the same, the Office of Management and Budget sweetened the pot in guidance to defense firms last week. OMB said that federal agencies would cover companies’ costs if they have to lay off employees due to sequestration prior to a 60-day federal notification requirement. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Israeli Air Force Strikes Terror Operatives in Gaza, 1 Dead

October 7th 2012

Hellicopter & troops

The Israeli Air Force targeted two terror operatives in Gaza earlier today, the Israel Defense Forces said in an email to reporters. The targets were, “Tala’at Halil Muhammad Jarbi (b. 1989), a Global Jihad operative from Rafah, and Abdullah Muhammad Hassan Maqawai (b. 1988), a member of the Ashora Council of the Martyrs of Jerusalem, a Gaza-based Global Jihad affiliate,” according to the release. A medic in Gaza told AFP that one person was killed and another severely injured in the operation.

The IDF says that the targets were responsible for extensive terror activity, and were in the process of planning another attack against Israel. The IDF wrote: “For many years Tala’at was involved in extensive terrorist activity, targeting Israeli civilian and security forces, including rocket firing, weapon manufacturing, and other terrorist activities in the Gaza Strip. He was a senior operative involved in the planning and execution of an attack along the security fence on 18.6.12, during which an Israeli civilian was killed. He had also been planning an complex attack intended to take place along the Sinai border.” Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Terrorist Abu Hamza, Associates Extradited from London to U.S.

October 6th 2012

Abu Hamza
Abu Hamza al-Masri

Radical Islamist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri—also known as Mustafa Kamal Mustafa—and four other terrorism suspects are were flown out of London, England, on a heavily-guarded jet headed for the United States Friday night, October 5. They arrived in New York early the morning of October 6. A Scotland Yard anti-terrorism unit turned over custody of the five suspects to members of the US Marshals Service’s fugitive recovery unit at a Royal Air Force base outside of London, according to an Inspector with the Marshals Service in New York City.

A European court decision earlier this week cleared the way for their extradition, ending eight years of legal maneuvering.

High Court judges dismissed the terrorism suspects’ appeals to not be extradited to the U.S. to face multiple charges. The judges ruled that the suspects—Abu Hamza, Syed Talha Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary, Babar Ahmad, and Khaled al-Fawwaz—did not persuade the court to nullify the extradition warrant from the U.S. Department of Justice. When his attorneys argued that he is ill and needs to be hospitalized, one High Court judge said Abu Hamza al-Masri’s health problems were a reason to extradite him as soon as possible. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Military Implications of the Syria-Turkey Border Incident

October 6th 2012

Turkish Tanks

On October 3, Syrian military forces reportedly fired a mortar round that landed in Turkey, killing five civilians and wounding ten or more in the border town of Akcakale. In retaliation, Turkish artillery shelled the locations from which Syrian forces had fired, apparently using counterbattery radar. The Turks renewed shelling of cross-border targets the next day, and parliament authorized the use of military force in Syria. Some Syrian soldiers are said to have been killed.

This is the most serious incident along Syria's borders since the revolution began in March 2011. It has potentially significant military implications, including escalation into a broader Turkish-Syrian conflict, creation of a de facto buffer zone in northern Syria, and further weakening of Bashar al-Assad's forces relative to the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA). Damascus will likely back down and attempt to avoid a fight with Turkey, essentially leaving Ankara with the task of controlling escalation. Whatever the case, this development adds additional weight to arguments for a greater U.S. and allied role in ending the regime and the war in Syria. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

Homeland Security Considerations in This Year's Elections

October 6th 2012

National Fusion center

The 9/11 attacks acted as a catalyst for major changes in U.S. security efforts. They altered not only how the nation would identify and prepare for threats, but also how it would prevent them. Since 9/11, America has done a better job defending itself, thwarting at least 40 Islamist-inspired terrorist plots aimed at the United States. Additionally, America has improved efforts to safeguard its own sovereignty by investing significantly in border security. These measures discourage illegal border crossing and unlawful presence in conjunction with workplace enforcement and programs to prevent illegal employment. Furthermore, lessons learned in the war against terrorism have stopped some practices and programs that contribute little to real security.

Progress in the homeland security enterprise, however, has been inconsistent. The White House continues to press for an “amnesty first” approach to border security, immigration policy, and workplace enforcement while undercutting key tools, including the 287(g) program, which facilitates state and local cooperation on investigating immigration-related crimes. Such a strategy undermines the progress that had been made in fixing broken borders and restoring credibility to U.S. immigration laws. Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

US Firm Raided for Military Exports to Russian Intelligence Groups

October 6th 2012

MQ-1 Sky Warrior drone

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Wednesday raided a company in Houston, Texas accused of illegally exporting high-tech equipment to Russian military and intelligence officials, according to Justice Department sources. Eight suspects were arrested at Arc Electronics, Inc. and the owner of the company, Alexander Fishenko, was charged with operating as an unregistered agent of the Russian government, an FBI report said.

Fishenko was charged of obtaining microelectronics on behalf of Russia and allegedly exporting the technology to Russian military and intelligence operatives despite strict U.S. government controls.

The microelectronics shipped to Russia included analog-to-digital converters, static random access memory chips, microcontrollers, and microprocessors. These commodities have applications and are frequently used in a wide range of military systems, including radar and surveillance systems, missile guidance systems, and detonation triggers. Russia does not produce many of these sophisticated goods domestically. Read more ..

Turkey on Edge

Turkey Warns Syria About Cross-Border Attacks

October 5th 2012

Turkish Military convoy

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is warning Syria against carrying out more attacks on Turkish soil. In a fiery speech Friday in Istanbul, Erdogan said the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should not test Turkey's ability to strike back.

Erdogan's remarks came two days after a Syrian attack on the Turkish town of Akcakale killed five civilians, in one of the most serious cross-border incidents in Syria's 18-month uprising.

Following the attack, Turkish forces shelled Syrian targets and Turkey's parliament authorized military operations outside its borders if necessary. Erdogan's comments came as Turkish officials are expressing dismay that international outrage against the Syrian regime this week was not as strong as Turkey desired.

Ankara demanded that the United Nations Security Council take strong action. But after hours of haggling between Turkey's Western allies and longtime Syria-backer Russia, U.N. Security Council condemnation of Syria was not as strong as Turkey was hoping for.

"The situation at the Turkish Syrian border is a quite a serious one and I think anybody who is in our shoes would prefer a stronger format or language," said Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal. Also, at an emergency meeting of NATO ambassadors after the incident, NATO did not invoke Article Five of its charter, which would require all members to defend Turkey.

Analysts say after numerous rebuffs from its allies, Turkey realizes it is in danger of becoming isolated. Sinan Ulgen head of the Istanbul-based research institute, Edam, said Ankara is now playing for the long run. Read more ..

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