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Turkey on Edge

Turkey Approves Possible Further Action Against Syria

October 4th 2012

Turkish Armored vehicle

The Turkish parliament has approved a government motion to authorize further military operations outside the country's borders, after striking Syrian targets in response to a deadly cross-border mortar attack.

The parliament easily passed a motion sanctioning military intervention into Syria, a constitutional requirement for the government. The move follows the deaths of five Turkish citizens by artillery fire from Syria on Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay said the one-year measure is not a declaration of war, but intended as a deterrent against aggressive action by Syria. The Turkish army fired on Syrian army positions in response, and according to local reports launched further attacks Thursday on Syrian military installations. Atalay said Syria has taken responsibility and formally apologized for the deaths of the five Turkish civilians, and reassured the United Nations that "such an incident will not occur again." The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Ankara's retaliatory artillery strikes killed three Syrian soldiers near the border town of Tel Abyad. Syrian state media has not reported any casualties. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

DHS Imagines a Brave New World beyond Dick Tracy Two-Way Wrist TVs

October 4th 2012

taiwanese semiconductor plant

To believe that technologies once dreamed of in science fiction novels, television shows, and comic strips may one day be a reality, or that real-world technologies might make the fantastic devices of fiction obsolete, you'd need to be either an optimist…or a futurist in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).

To keep dreams grounded, S&T maintains a team of futurists in Arlington, Va., at the Homeland Security Studies & Analysis Institute (HSSAI). There, in the Resilience and Emergency Preparedness / Response Branch, analysts explore the art of the possible, helping DHS shape dreams into a lucid, viable vision. "Revolutionary ways of working are often invented because visionaries saw a need and a novel way to meet it," said Deputy Director Bob Tuohy, who is an admitted sci-fi enthusiast. Read more ..

Israel's Looming Attack

Congressmen Declare: 'Israel Cannot Place Security in the Hands of Barack Obama'

October 4th 2012

Obama pointing finger at Netanyahu

American politicians generally refrain from criticizing the president overseas, but Republican Congressman Trent Franks made a serious exception during his visit to Israel on Wednesday, blasting President Barack Obama's policy in no uncertain terms. "Israel cannot place their security in the hands of Barack Obama," he said to the Times of Israel, "they can’t do it." The Times also describes him saying to a Christian Zionist group, "If Israel does not stop Iran, Obama will not prevent the Islamic Republic from gaining nuclear weapons."

Franks also attacked Obama's policy on Israel in general, saying: "It breaks my heart to see the president of the United States reserve more criticism for Israel... than he does for [Iranian president] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.... It is very difficult for me to understand how that could happen." Franks's extremely unusual move underlines the degree to which Obama is mistrusted by those who view the Iran issue from a hawkish perspective. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

National Intelligence Fusion Centers Have Been Useless--Senate Report

October 3rd 2012

National Fusion center

An alarming report published by the Department of Homeland Security in March 2010 called attention to the theft of dozens of pounds of dangerous explosives from an airport storage bunker in Washington state. Like many such warnings, it drew on information gathered by one of the department’s “fusion centers” created to exchange data among state, local and federal officials, all at a cost to the federal government of hundreds of millions of dollars.

There was just one problem with that report, and many others like it: the theft had occurred seven months earlier, and it had been highlighted within five days in a press release by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which was seeking citizen assistance in tracking down the culprits. The DHS report’s tardiness and its duplication of work by others has been a commonplace failing of work performed by fusion centers nationwide, according to a new investigation of the DHS-funded centers by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.


The Cyber Edge

Adversarial Cyber Capabilities and the Conduct of Economic Warfare

October 3rd 2012

Shadowy Computer User

On 21 September 2012, attacks attributed to Iranian Hackers conducted a "Denial of Service Attack" on the Bank of America Corporation, JP Morgan Chase & Company and Citigroup Inc. In addition to the attack on 21 September, there have been a series of attempted penetrations over the past year, as part of a broad "Cyber Campaign" targeting the United States.

The attacks, which began in late 2011 and escalated this year, have been primarily cyber attacks that have disrupted banking websites and corporate networks by saturating them with massive incoming e-mail traffic that simply overwhelmed these networks. "Denial of Service Attacks" can be accomplished by an individual hacker or group of hackers, as well as "State Sponsored" entities. On any given day, computer networks that support financial, communications, transportation, defense, energy and all other sectors that support the operation of the national critical infrastructure of the United States, are continually "Scanned and Probed" for vulnerabilities that could be exploited by unauthorized individuals and foreign entities.

The Arab Winter of Rage

U.S. Consulate in Libya was Attacked 13 Times before Fatal Incident

October 3rd 2012

Libyan rioters at US consulate Sep 2012 #1

Two House Republicans say they have been informed by whistleblowers that the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked and threatened 13 times before the incident last month that killed four Americans.

Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a letter on Tuesday that detailed the whistleblowers’ allegations. “Based on information provided to the Committee by individuals with direct knowledge of events in Libya, the attack that claimed the ambassador’s life was the latest in a long line of attacks on Western diplomats and officials in Libya in the months leading up to September 11, 2012,” Issa and Chaffetz wrote. “It was clearly never, as Administration officials once insisted, the result of a popular protest." Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Details Emerge of Federal Polytechnic Mubi Students Massacre in Nigeria

October 3rd 2012

Nigeria Adamawa State college

Twenty-two of the dead were students whom attackers had called out by name, a police spokesman said. A local resident said at least 40 people had been shot dead or stabbed. The killings come days after a major operation against the Boko Haram militant group in the town, while others have linked them to a dispute over student union elections. Rivalries over student elections have turned violent before but have never reached this level, says the BBC's Nigeria correspondent Will Ross.

Mobile phone masts in the area were recently attacked by Boko Haram militants, so getting information from Mubi is difficult, adds our correspondent. Investigations were under way, said Adamawa state police spokesman Mohammed Ibrahim, who had just visited the scene, adding that the motive for the attack was not yet clear. But he said the attackers had inside knowledge: "The attackers called the victims by name and killed them." Two of the dead were security guards and the other an elderly resident, said Mr. Ibrahim. Read more ..

The Weapons Edge

Lockheed Won't Issue Layoff Notices this Year

October 1st 2012


Lockheed Martin said Monday it will not issue employee layoff notices this year, ending an election-year showdown with the Obama administration. The company said it based its decision on new guidance issued Friday by the Office of Management and Budget and the Pentagon.

The guidance said the Pentagon did not anticipate killing any contracts on Jan. 2, the day automatic spending cuts are set to begin hitting defense spending. The guidance also said the federal government would cover severance costs that are mandated under a federal layoff notices law.

The decision by Lockheed means tens of thousands won't get layoff notices days before Election Day, which might have cast a crucial blow against President Obama's reelection chances. Republicans argue that last week's guidance was a politically motivated effort by the administration to protect Obama ahead of the election. Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Political and Military Challenges to Demining the Strait of Hormuz

October 1st 2012

Mine countermeasures ship USS Scout
Minesweeper USS Scout (credit US Navy)

In late September, nearly thirty nations participated in the International Mine Countermeasures Exercise (IMCMEX) in the Persian Gulf. Following up on strong U.S. Navy reinforcement efforts in the Gulf, IMCMEX signaled Iran that there is significant multilateral resolve to keep the Strait of Hormuz open. Yet some aspects of the exercise highlighted the difficulties of conducting mine countermeasures (MCM) operations in the narrow strait. Future exercises should be more ambitious and involve greater international participation.

Iran’s thread to mine Hormuz

On July 1, as European Union sanctions went into force, Iran’s parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy proposed legislation to block the Strait of Hormuz in order to bar tankers carrying oil for countries that had imposed restrictions on the regime. On July 15, armed forces chief of staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi stated, “We have a contingency plan for the blockade of the strait,” describing the scheme as “a viable plan.” Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

Military Ordnance Dumped in Gulf Poses Threat to Shipping, Drilling

October 1st 2012

Crab on a possibly-leaky mustard gas container
A crab sits on a mustard gas container that may be leaking
(credit: Texas A&M University)

Millions of pounds of unexploded bombs and other military ordnance that were dumped decades ago in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as off the coasts of both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, could now pose serious threats to shipping lanes and the 4,000 oil and gas rigs in the Gulf, warn two Texas A&M University oceanographers.

William Bryant and Neil Slowey, professors of oceanography, who have more than 90 years of combined research experience in all of the Earth’s oceans, along with fellow researcher Mike Kemp of Washington, D.C., say millions of pounds of bombs are scattered over the Gulf of Mexico and also off the coasts of at least 16 states, from New Jersey to Hawaii.

Bryant says the discarded bombs are hardly a secret. “This has been well known for decades by many people in marine science and oceanography,” he explains. He will give a presentation in San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 1 about the bombs to a group of oceanographers and marine scientists at the International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions conference. Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

Defense Contractor's Worker Stole Military Technology for China

September 29th 2012

F-35 Military Plane

A jury on Thursday convicted an employee of a defense contractor for exporting sensitive U.S. military technology to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), stealing military secrets, and making false statements to federal law enforcement.

Sixing Liu, a/k/a “Steve Liu,” a Chinese citizen who lived in Flanders, New Jersey, and in Deerfield, Illinois, was immediately taken into federal custody after the jury announced their verdict. U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler based his decision for Liu to remain in custody after agreeing with the prosecutor that Liu was a flight risk. Sentencing before Judge Chesler is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2013.

The jury convicted 49-year-old Liu of nine of the 11 counts with which he was charged, including six counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, one count of possessing stolen trade secrets in violation of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, one count of transporting stolen property in interstate commerce, and one count of lying to federal agents. The jury acquitted Liu on two counts of lying to federal agents. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Nigerian Terrorist Attack Condemned by U.S. Lawmakers

September 28th 2012

Boko Haram

On Thursday, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and Pastor Laolu Akande, Executive Director of the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans (CANAN), blasted the terrorist group Boko Haram for the bombing of a Catholic church in northern Nigeria. The terrorist group -- an al-Qaeda affiliated Islamist organization -- killed a woman and a child and injured 48 other churchgoers.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the latest atrocity waged by the Islamist terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria. The bombing at Saint John's Catholic Church in Bauchi is the latest in ongoing, coordinated attacks by Boko Haram on Catholic and other Christian churches in Nigeria, including the 2011 Christmas Day and 2012 Easter Day bombings," said Rep. King.

"The Muslim world exploded over a ridiculous YouTube video and the Obama administration couldn't apologize enough, but Christians being murdered, tortured and having their churches burned to the ground by Muslims appears to be ignored by Obama and his sycophants," said counterterrorism expert and former police commander George Wilkinson. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Iran Responds To Netanyahu, Vowing To Retaliate If Attacked

September 28th 2012

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Iran has vowed to "retaliate" against any attack after Israel's prime minister called for a "red line" to prevent the Islamic republic from acquiring a nuclear bomb. Iran's deputy UN ambassador Eshagh al-Habib told the UN General Assembly on September 27 that the Islamic Republic "is strong enough to defend itself and reserves its full right to retaliate with full force against any attack." Al-Habib added that Israel had made "baseless and absurd allegations” against Iran’s “exclusively peaceful" nuclear program.

In his speech at the UN General Assembly earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized the need for a "red line" past which Iran could expect to be attacked for pursuing a nuclear weapons program. "At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs and that's by placing a clear red line on Iran's nuclear weapons program," the Israeli leader told the General Assembly. In recent weeks, Israeli leaders have repeatedly warned that Israel would carry out a unilateral military strike if Iran got close to making a nuclear bomb. Read more ..

America on Edge

Red Team Operation Reveals Ease of Obtaining Counterfeit IDs

September 28th 2012

Waiting at the DMV

A federal “Red Team” demonstrated the ease with which a person is able to obtain a valid driver’s license complete with photograph using stolen identity information or fictitious biographic information, according to the head of a non-partisan, public-interest group on Tuesday.

Brian Zimmer, President of the Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, said in statement released on Tuesday: “The [Red Team] replicated the same techniques used by the 9/11 terrorists to get more than 30 driver’s licenses and [photo] IDs from state licensing agencies. To obtain a driver’s license with your photo but with someone else’s biographic information or with fictitious information, terrorists need only travel to a state where identification standards are low and service is fast. Terrorists planning future attacks on Americans will be delighted by GAO’s findings, but Congress should be very concerned.”

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released on Sept. 21, 2012, titled “Driver’s License Security—Federal Leadership Needed to Address Remaining Vulnerabilities,” the GAO demonstrated that counterfeit documents can still be used to easily obtain valid driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards under fictitious identities, and recommended that the Department of Homeland Security exert leadership in correcting the problem. Read more ..

The Drug Wars

37 Mexican Cops Busted for Links to Drug Cartel

September 28th 2012

Mexican soldiers at the beach

The Mexican government has confirmed that earlier this week, 37 police officers were arrested in eastern Mexico for allegedly cooperating and working with the deadly and powerful Los Zetas drug cartel. Mexican Navy officials, who were called in to take action, said in a statement that 19 local cops were captured in the state capital of Veracruz, Xalapa, and another 16 in neighboring San Luis Potosi state were nabbed, four of whom were female officers.

"All of them were police officers in the Ministry of Public Security of Veracruz and allegedly collaborated with the criminal organization of Los Zetas," said the Navy statement. The 37 suspects were transported in heavily guarded vehicles to Mexico City where they went before the public prosecutor from the Special Investigations Office for Organized Crimes. Ironically, the investigation that led to the arrest of 37 law officers was the result of an investigation into the killings of 35 people by Los Zetas last year in Veracruz. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Zawahiri and Egyptian Islamic Jihad. What Next?

September 27th 2012

Click to select Image

With the death of Osama Bin Laden the leadership of al-Qaeda passed to Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. An Egyptian Islamist, he had been Bin Laden's close associate (and some say mentor) since their first meeting in Afghanistan in 1985. To observers who knew both men well, Zawahiri was considered the more intellectual, the more advanced Koranic scholar, and even the more purposeful of the two Islamist intransigents.

The Islamist career of Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of the Egypt Islamic Jihad (EIJ) movement, dates from his early youth when he joined the Muslim Brotherhood—the Ikhwan al-Muslimun. While still in his teens he had found the Ikhwan less revolutionary, less Jihadist and Salafist, than he had hoped. Consequently, he joined the clandestine Tala'a al-Fath (Vanguard of Conquest) whose plan of action was more to his liking. The Tala'a al-Fath was held responsible for the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and Zawahiri was netted in the roundup of radicals that followed. The Sadat assassination also had an immediate impact on the Ikhwan, and its existing entente cordial which had taken years to build was followed by years in the political wilderness. Not surprisingly, Zawahiri and his allies were considered incorrigible fanatics.

After serving a term in jail, Zawahiri followed the trail of Egypt’s so-called Arab-Afghans making their way to Peshawar, Pakistan. He was once again a wanted man, having served as the inspiration for the reconstitution of the Egypt Islamic Jihad (EIJ) and for its program of targeted assassinations. In the war for Afghanistan, he would use his medical skills in support of the Arab-Afghan mujahideen, and it was there that he met Osama bin Laden, after which the two became fast friends. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Inside Iran's Nuclear Warhead

September 27th 2012

Edwin Black

Since the last century, Iran has been methodically pursuing the in-house capability of developing a missile-delivered nuclear bomb. The regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is now closer than ever and probably in the latter stages of perfecting an atomic bomb with a multipoint detonation mechanism, compact enough to insert into a Shahab-3 missile nosecone.

For years, the Obama administration, Western governments, the United Nations, and the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) have been fully aware of the specific details of Tehran’s nuclear weapons program, down to the blueprints and names of the engineers. Whether or not Iran will complete the last leg of its decades-long journey toward a deliverable atomic bomb is still unknown. The difference in viewing the cannon is whether you are staring down the muzzle or observing it through a telescope from a perch six thousand miles away. Israel is peering into the muzzle, hence its assessment is different than Washington’s.

Protracted multilateral negotiations, crippling international sanctions, and even elaborate programs of sabotage have delayed but not derailed the nearly autarkic program. Now the world teeters at the brink of a regional war with profound global ramifications because the threat may have been ignored too long.

Here are the four determining factors, the dynamics of which will govern whether Israel launches a preemptive attack against Tehran’s massive nuclear infrastructure.

The four technological achievements are key to completing Tehran’s nuclear weapon are: 1) accretion of enough nuclear materials, highly enriched to 90 percent, to make the bomb; 2) machining that highly-enriched material into metal for a spheroid warhead so it can fit into a missile nosecone for detonation; 3) a trigger mechanism to initiate the atomic explosion at the precise moment of missile reentry; and, of course, 4) a reliable rocket delivery system to carry such a weapon. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

Diplomatic Security in the Spotlight Following Benghazi Disaster

September 27th 2012

Libyan rioters at US consulate Sep 2012 #1

It has been more than two weeks since the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, yet the attack remains front-page news. One reason is that it has become unusual for a U.S. ambassador to be killed. After the 1968 assassination of John Mein in Guatemala -- the first ever U.S. ambassador to be assassinated -- several others were killed in the 1970s: Cleo Noel Jr. in Sudan in 1973, Rodger Davies in Cyprus in 1974, Francis Meloy Jr. in Lebanon in 1976 and Adolph Dubs in Afghanistan in 1979. However, following improvements in diplomatic security during the 1980s, no U.S. ambassador has died as a result of a hostile action since Ambassador Arnold Raphel, who was killed in the plane crash used to assassinate Pakistani President Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq in August 1988. Read more ..

The Arab Winter in Rage

Twin Explosions Target Syrian Military Building

September 26th 2012

Free Syrian Army

Syrian officials say four security guards died when a pair of explosions hit a military building in central Damascus Wednesday, leaving part of the building in flames.  It was the third time in weeks that military headquarters have come under attack.

Plumes of black smoke poured into the sky of the Syrian capital as fire engulfed the top floors of the military's general staff headquarters. Nearby residents say the blasts broke windows and shattered plaster facades across central Damascus.

Witnesses say heavy volleys of gunfire could be heard for hours in the vicinity of Umayyad Square, where the blasts took place. Syrian state TV, which is located near the square, broadcast patriotic music shortly after the blasts but resumed normal programming soon after. Syrian Information Minister Omran Zoubi blamed the attack on terrorists, a term the government uses for rebels and fighters opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. The rebel Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the attack. The Syrian military said at least 14 people were wounded while four security guards died. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Nigerian Military Claims Progress Against Boko Haram

September 25th 2012

Boko Haram

The Nigerian military says it killed 35 Islamist militants and arrested more than 150 in recent days in two northeastern states.  The military says this is a sign it is overpowering the group known popularly as Boko Haram.  But some analysts say battles will not be enough to eliminate the threat. The military says the battle was "fierce'’ and lasted from early Sunday evening through the night.  

In a phone conversation from Yobe State, on one of Nigeria’s notoriously bad phone lines, spokesperson Lieutenant Eli Lazarus said two soldiers were injured in the battle, and that the military recovered guns, ammunition, bombs, swords and even bows and arrows after the fight. Lazarus said the raid was part of “Operation Restore Sanity,” which included the arrest of 156 suspected Boko Haram members in Adamawa State, also in Nigeria’s northeast.  One suspect was also reportedly killed in that raid. Lazarus said from a military perspective, this is a sign that the Nigerian government is beating Boko Haram, which has been blamed for roughly 1,400 deaths since it began attacks in 2009. Read more ..

China Rising

China Commissions First Aircraft Carrier

September 25th 2012

Liaoning - China's first flattop

China’s first aircraft carrier officially entered service Tuesday, amid a worsening territorial dispute with Japan and regional concerns over Beijing’s rapidly modernizing navy. The Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Soviet-built aircraft carrier, named Liaoning after China’s northeast province, is an important step in “raising the overall fighting capacity” of its naval forces.

The 300-meter ship, purchased from Ukraine in 1998, was delivered and commissioned to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at a ceremony in the port city of Dalian, where the vessel was refitted.

The move comes as China is embroiled in a major diplomatic dispute with Japan over islands in the East China Sea, as well as disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines over oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea. China, the last permanent member of the United Nations Security Council to own an aircraft carrier, is also reportedly developing domestically built carriers. Read more ..

The Defense Edge

Fueling the Fleet, Navy Looks to the Seas

September 24th 2012

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

Refueling U.S. Navy vessels, at sea and underway, is a costly endeavor in terms of logistics, time, fiscal constraints and threats to national security and sailors at sea.

In Fiscal Year 2011, the U.S. Navy Military Sea Lift Command, the primary supplier of fuel and oil to the U.S. Navy fleet, delivered nearly 600 million gallons of fuel to Navy vessels underway, operating 15 fleet replenishment oilers around the globe.

From Seawater to CO2

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory are developing a process to extract carbon dioxide (CO2) and produce hydrogen gas (H2) from seawater, subsequently catalytically converting the CO2 and H2 into jet fuel by a gas-to-liquids process.  Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Improvised Explosive Device Attacks Growing and Morphing--May Appear in USA

September 24th 2012

Land Minee

U.S. military and civilian personnel continue to be targeted by radical Islamist groups using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in their attacks and the IED will remain the weapon of choice of terrorists regardless of their affiliation. From the U.S. experience in Iraq, the reduction of U.S. forces there hasn't equaled a reduction in counter-IED or other critical capabilities, Army Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero said during his testimony before the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee according to a report released on Friday.

Barbero told House lawmakers that the IED threat is growing and morphing within other areas of the world including within our own country.

“Commanders and troopers on the ground are continuously refining their tactics, techniques and procedures tailored to the threat they face in the region,” Barbero told the subcommittee.

Within the U.S., local police agencies, such as the New York Police Department, spend time and money on keeping abreast of the latest explosive devices and the newest countermeasures available to them.

From using state-of-the-art bomb-disposal robots -- guided by a police bomb technician -- that can use power tools, handle a high-powered water hose and pick up items, to the older procedure of filling the area with a special foam, police bomb squads take a backseat to no one in dealing with IEDs, former bomb tech George MacHaver said. According to officials at the Department of Defense, IEDs will most probably be encountered in present and future conflicts due to being relatively inexpensive to develop while their effectiveness is proven by the number of military deaths and casualties, as well as the destruction of military vehicles and other assets. And that doesn't include those IEDs developed by domestic terrorists on the U.S. mainland. Read more ..

The 2012 Vote

GOP Hawks Seek a New Posture in Afghanistan for a Romney Administration

September 23rd 2012

mitt romney

Republican defense hawks are urging Mitt Romney to separate himself from President Obama on Afghanistan and back an extended presence for U.S. troops in the country.

The advice comes as the White House hits the halfway point in its timeline to withdraw all U.S. troops and after Romney faced criticism for not mentioning the Afghan conflict in his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Hill on Wednesday the Romney camp needed to distance itself from the Obama administration's goal of pulling all American forces from Afghanistan by 2014. They should, instead, pursue a war plan focused on "what we leave behind" in the country, not just ending the war as soon as possible, according to Graham. It's about getting it right," the South Carolina Republican said. Getting it right, he added, almost certainly means keeping U.S. forces in country past the administration's deadline. "On the first day of a Romney administration," the presumed president-elect needed to call a meeting of the top U.S. commanders in Afghanistan and chart a different strategic course for the country, Graham said. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

Senate Republicans Demand Obama's Answer to Disaster in Libya

September 23rd 2012

Ambassador J Christopher Stevens
U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, deceased.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Sunday that President Obama needs to set the record straight on what happened in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said the attack on the consulate was a pre-planned, terrorist action. Rogers said Obama can’t worry about any political damage from the attack, which killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

“The president needs to go on TV and set this right. It can’t be about the election. It has to be about an American ambassador who was killed,” Rogers said. “He needs to be out front and leading on this issue. He shouldn’t wait until after November.” Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

US Names 55 Guantanamo Detainees Cleared for Release

September 23rd 2012


The list represents about a third of the 167 terrorist suspects still in detention at Guantanamo more than 11 years after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Many of the men are from Yemen, where President Barack Obama suspended repatriations in 2010 because of U.S. concerns that prisoners could become involved with al-Qaida militants based there.

Friday's release marks a reversal of the Obama administration's 2009 decision to keep the names of cleared detainees secret. The administration says it protected the information to "maintain flexibility" in negotiating potential detainee transfers to other countries. But the government said in a court filing Friday that "circumstances have changed" such that decisions to approve prisoners for transfer "no longer warrant protection." It pointed out that 28 detainees have been repatriated to their native countries since 2009, while 40 have been resettled in third countries. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

4 Journalists Killed in Somalia in 24 Hours

September 22nd 2012

Al-Shabbab in Somalia

A Mogadishu radio station program producer has became the fourth Somali journalist killed in less than 24 hours.  Despite relative peace and normalcy returning to the streets of Mogadishu, the death underscores the constant threat against journalists working in the war-torn country.  At least 13 Somali journalists have been killed this year.

Veteran journalist Hassan Yusuf Absuge is the latest journalist to be killed in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.  Witnesses say unidentified gunmen killed the Radio Manta producer Friday morning as he left the radio station in Yaqshid district after the night shift. The National Union of Somali Journalists has condemned the killings.

National Union Secretary-General Mohamed Ibrahim said it’s not clear why and who is targeting journalists but one thing for certain is that they are being killed in areas under government control. “There are several militia gangs; you know al-Shabab used to target journalists, as well as freelance militias and gangs who are targeting journalists in Mogadishu.  So far we don’t know who is exactly behind the killing of this journalist," said Ibrahim. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

Released Gitmo Detainee Linked to Embassy Attack in Libya

September 21st 2012

Libyan riot at US consulate Sep 2012 #3

U.S. Intelligence officials are finally speaking out and confirming what experts believed from day one of the Muslim uprisings in Libya and Egypt on Sept. 11, 2012: the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was a deliberate and planned act of terrorism and is linked to the activities of al-Qaeda. Now members of the intelligence community revealed on Thursday that a former Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detainee, al-Qaeda's Sufyan Ben Qumu, was involved in the attack, it's just not known to what degree.

When he was released from Gitmo in 2007, it was with the understanding that Moamar Khadaffi, the Libyan dictator, would imprison Ben Qumu. But during the uprising in Libya that eventually ousted and killed Khadaffi, the Libyan rebels -- some of whom were tied to terrorist organizations -- released prisoners from Khadaffi's jails including Sufyan Ben Qumu. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Insights from the Arrest of Chicago Jihadist

September 21st 2012

Chicago skyline

On the evening of Sept. 15, Adel Daoud parked a Jeep Cherokee loaded with a large explosive device outside a bar in downtown Chicago. As he walked down the street away from the vehicle, he activated a trigger to detonate the bomb. The bomb, however, was inert, and FBI agents positioned nearby immediately took Daoud, an 18-year-old from the Chicago suburbs, into custody.

Daoud had been the subject of a four-month FBI investigation and sting operation, during which undercover agents had been communicating with Daoud and recording his statements. Sting operations have become the tactic of choice for the FBI and other U.S. law enforcement organizations when investigating would-be jihadists. As U.S. law enforcement agencies perfect their sting operations to identify aspiring jihadists and prevent attacks, jihadists, too, can be expected to innovate and evolve alternate means of communication and vetting of those with whom they collaborate. Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

F-35 Deputy Sees Challenges Ahead

September 21st 2012

Click to select Image

A little over five weeks ago, the Pentagon’s F-35 program got a new deputy manager, and a few days ago, he gave a candid “outsider’s” appraisal of the most costly weapons program in history — one that was noteworthy for its appraisal of how poorly the troubled aircraft program was run during the past decade and its criticism of the chaotic way that the Pentagon has been buying such high-tech weapons.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, a seven-year Air Force acquisition veteran who last managed the KC-46 tanker program, warned an Air Force Association audience on Sept. 17 at National Harbor, Maryland, that “some of you may cringe at what I say.” Then he disclosed that the F-35’s buggy software “scares the heck out of me,” that its computer-driven logistics system is “frightening,” and that the relationship between the Air Force and the plane’s lead contractor Lockheed Martin is “the worst I’ve ever seen.” Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Stone Barriers: The New Form of Arab Terror on Roads in Judea and Samaria

September 21st 2012

Israeli Commandoes Injured by Flotilla

A new form of terrorist activity has recently begun to plague the communities of Judea and Samaria. These attacks take the form of piles of stones placed on the road during the night, with the objective of causing car accidents. The phenomenons of stone barriers placed on the road are becoming wider spread and are now being discovered on a weekly basis, with several cars having been damaged so far. Last week, four cars were damanged when a barrier was erected on the way to Harasha, in Benyamin, very close to residential areas. After the damage occurred, security forces searched for possible suspects, however the barrier itself was removed by local residents.

This attack was the last in a series which have occurred over the past months. Security officials have stated that it is believed to be the work of youths from a nearby village. No assailants have been arrested so far.

There has been a general rise in the terrorist activity against Israeli residents in Judea and Samaria in the past months. An Arab terrorist was caught Tuesday night attempting to infiltrate the town of Ginot Shomron in central Samaria. The Arab was caught at about 6:20 PM Tuesday evening, after several people reported seeing a suspicious looking individual crouching outside the town’s security fence. Local security forces apprehended the suspect. IDF troops arrived soon after the report was received and arrested the Arab. He was searched, and a knife and slingshot were found on his body. Read more ..

Egypt and Israel

Lessons for the West Bank in Sinai

September 20th 2012

Egyptian Tanks in Sinai

Hamas began exporting radicalism to Sinai in the wake of Israel's Gaza pullout. Removing the IDF from the Jordan Valley could do the same to Jordan. After radical Islamists killed 16 soldiers at an Egyptian army outpost in Sinai this August, Egypt's military pointed an accusing finger straight at Hamas-run Gaza, whence it said some of the terrorists came. Suiting action to words, Cairo swiftly shut the Egypt-Gaza border crossing, massed troops near Gaza, destroyed some of the cross-border smuggling tunnels and demanded that Hamas extradite three suspects. This response highlighted a fact that had previously attracted little notice: While Israel has long complained of arms and terrorists entering Gaza from Sinai, the traffic actually goes in both directions. In fact, as a recent study showed, Gaza has played a major role in radicalizing Sinai. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

Intel Official Says Al Qaeda Link Probed In Libya Terrorist Attack

September 20th 2012

Libyan rioters at US consulate Sep 2012 #2

A senior counterterrorism official told senators Wednesday that the assault on a U.S. consulate in Libya — which left four Americans dead — was definitely a terrorist attack and that some of those involved might be connected to al Qaeda.

“Yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy,” said Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Olsen was responding to a question from Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) during an appearance before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. 

“A number of different elements appear to have been involved in the attack, including individuals connected to militant groups that are prevalent in eastern Libya, particularly in the Benghazi area,” Olsen said. “As well, we are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to al Qaeda or al Qaeda’s affiliates, in particular al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb.” Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

Muhammad Mocking Spreads as French Magazine Publishes New Cartoons

September 19th 2012

Libya protesters

The French magazine “Charlie Hebdo” which has been the victim of a firebomb attack for publishing images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad deemed by certain Muslims as offensive, published new pictures of the prophet on Wednesday, while the magazine’s cover features a Muslim man being pushed in a wheelchair by an Orthodox Jew. “You must not mock us,” both the wheelchair bound man and his Orthodox Jewish counterpart say, under a title that reads “Untouchables 2″, which is an imaginary sequel to a recent French film. The newly published pictures come as violence in parts of the Muslim world has erupted in what some have said is a response to the production of an amateur film depicting the prophet Muhammad in an unflattering light, with deadly attacks in Libya, Egypt, and most recently, in Afghanistan. Inside the most recent edition of Charlie Hebdo, Muhammad is featured in multiple pictures, including “nude caricatures”, according to Reuters.

America on Edge

White House Demands Military Prisons for Americans under NDAA

September 19th 2012

jail door closeup

The White House has asked the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals to place an emergency stay on a ruling made last week by a federal judge so that the president’s power to indefinitely detain Americans without charge is reaffirmed immediately.

On Wednesday, September 12, US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest made permanent a temporary injunction she issued in May that bars the federal government from abiding by the indefinite detention provision in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or NDAA. Judge Forrest ruled that a clause that gives the government the power to arrest US citizens suspected of maintaining alliances with terrorists and hold them without due process violated the Constitution and that the White House would be stripped of that ability immediately. Read more ..

The Arab Winter of Rage

State Dept Takes Steps to Protect Diplomats as Protests Continue

September 19th 2012

Amb. Christopher Stevens, killed in Libya #2

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is taking aggressive steps to protect its diplomats, as protests continue against an anti-Islam film produced in the U.S. Demonstrations prompted the American consulate in the Indonesian city of Medan to temporarily close on Wednesday, following a similar move by the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand a day earlier.  Protests also took place Wednesday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

Clinton said Tuesday that officials are reviewing security at every post and adjusting as necessary. She also said the Libyan government is helping American investigators probe last week's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other diplomats. Fury over the low-budget film that insults the Prophet Muhammad sparked protests, some of them violent, including at the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia. Tunisia's Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem on Tuesday condemned the attack, saying political violence is not acceptable and that such an incident will never happen again. He promised to pursue those responsible for the violence. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Iran and Syria Crises May Compel Hezbollah to Act, IDF Preparing

September 18th 2012

Hezbollah Troops

The IDF is deep in preparations for the next potential round of fighting with the Shi'ite Lebanese terror militia Hezbollah. If one conclusion can be drawn from the intensive military training, it is that the IDF is determined that any future confrontation does not resemble the indecisive outcome of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

This is highly important since it will be Hezbollah, with its tens of thousands of rockets, that will lead Iran's reprisal attempts for any potential Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear weapons development program. Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war in the summer of 2006, after Hezbollah launched an unprovoked cross-border raid on Israeli army patrols, killing several soldiers and kidnapping two more who soon died of their injuries, all the while firing rockets at northern Israeli communities. Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

It is Not About Elections--It is About Centrifuges, Says Netanyahu

September 17th 2012

Bibi Netanyahu with Glasses

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dedicates much of his time to thinking about how to handle the Iranian nuclear issue, considering it a rapidly approaching existential threat. Not surprisingly, it was also the main topic of a wide-ranging interview he gave with Israel Hayom before Rosh Hashanah. Here is what the Israeli leader had to say:

IH: What did you say, and what did you hear, in your recent conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama?

Benjamin Netanyahu: “It was a good conversation that revolved around significant issues and our desire to prevent Iran from progressing any further with their military nuclear program. It is natural to have disagreements. Israel is closer [to Iran] and more vulnerable. The U.S. is big, far away, and less vulnerable. Naturally we have diverging views on certain things. In the face of a threat like Iran’s nuclear armament, I believe that it is important that the international community set a clear red line. Iran has taken obvious steps in recent years and months toward developing nuclear weapons capability.” Read more ..

The Winter of Arab Rage

Ambassador Rice Asserts Benghazi Attack was not Premeditated

September 17th 2012

Libya protesters

The Obama administration is sticking to its position that the deadly attack in Benghazi on September 11 wasn't premeditated, contradicting U.S. lawmakers and Libya's own president. Speaking on several Sunday shows on September 16, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice placed the blame for violence that has spread to two dozen countries across the Muslim world squarely on a U.S.-made anti-Islam video.

Republicans and many others are dubious, with some lawmakers suggesting the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi was a coordinated attack by a militant group. “There's no question that as we've seen in the past with things like [Salman Rushdie's] Satanic Verses, with the [Danish] cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, there have been such things that have sparked outrage and anger, and this has been the proximate cause of what we've seen,” Rice said on Fox News Sunday. “We are of the view that this is not an expression of hostility in the broader sense toward the United States or U.S. policy. It's proximately a reaction to this video.” Read more ..

Edge of Terrorism

Obama Administration Rattles the Sabre in Response to Muslim Uprising

September 15th 2012

Amb Chris Stevens in Death

In the aftermath of the deadly attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies are involved in beefing up diplomatic security and the investigation of the murders and assaults on U.S. embassy staff, according to a September 13 press conference.

During the news briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta condemned in the strongest terms the September 11 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Egypt and Libya.

In response to the unrest in Muslim countries, Secretary Panetta ordered the evacuation of American diplomatic personnel and casualties out of Libya and called for the remains of the four State Department personnel, including those of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed in the attack late Tuesday at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, to be brought back to the United States. Read more ..

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