The War on Terror
|Doug Bernard ||February 12th 2015|
Online appeals from the so-called Islamic State to wage jihad are nothing new. But now they're suggesting a very new tactic.
Virtual digital money is increasingly being promoted as a way for money-needy jihadists to support their efforts, according to intelligence agency and media reports.
Also known as crypto-currency, the trading method has rapidly grown in popularity since the introduction of Bitcoin in 2009. There are over 500 different currencies with an estimated total market capitalization of over $3.7 billion dollars.
But a portion of that growth, perhaps even a majority of it, has come from individuals using the digital dollars for questionable or illegal purposes and by groups who want to keep their activities out of view of governments.
And with the technological skills demonstrated by the so-called Islamic State, Boko Haram, al-Qaida and other groups, there are new worries that crypto-currencies may become a new, hidden way to funnel money to fund terror. Read more ..
Financing the Flames
|Edwin Black||February 7th 2015|
Times of Israel
Congressional legislators were astonished last year to learn that the Palestinian Authority was issuing monthly payouts totaling $3-7 million as salaries and other financial rewards to specific terrorists and their families. The money was channeled, in part, through the Ministry of Prisoners pursuant to the Law of the Prisoner. The law set forth a graduated scale, pegging monthly salaries to the length of Israeli jail sentences, which generally reflects the severity of the crime and the number of people killed and/or injured.
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Thousands of documents, newly obtained by this reporter through a lawsuit to unseal court-protected files, demonstrate that these payouts are not blind automated payments. Rather, senior Palestinian Authority officials as high as President Mahmoud Abbas scrutinize the details of each case, the specific carnage caused, and the personal details of each terrorist act before approving salaries and awarding honorary ranks in either the PA government or the military. Ministry of Prisoners spokesman Amr Nasser has explained, â€œWe are very proud of this program and we have nothing to hide.â€ Nonetheless, in response to the international furor, the Palestinian Authority announced it would replace the Ministry of Prisoners with an outside PLO commission known as the Higher National Commission for Prisoners and Detainees Affairs.
The PA is dependent upon foreign donor countries to supply much of its budget, which now exceeds $4.2 billion annually. About ten percent of the PA budget, more than $400 million, is contributed annually by United States foreign aid. The US and many other countries have enacted laws forbidding any payments when the monies directly or indirectly support or encourage terrorism. The interdepartmental bureaucratic notations the Palestinian Authority has recorded on each terrorist before approving the level of salaried compensation is extensive. For example, one prominent case involved Ahmad Talab Mustafa Barghouti, who personally coordinated numerous terrorist acts. These included a January 2002 shooting spree on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, killing two and wounding 37; a March 2002 shooting spree at a Tel Aviv restaurant, killing three and wounding 31; and finally a March 27, 2002 attempt to smuggle an explosive suicide belt in an ambulance. The Israel Defense Forces arrested Ahmad. On July 30, 2002, a military court concluded that he was responsible for murdering 12 Israelis, and Barghouti was sentenced to 13 life sentences. Read more ..
The War on Drugs
|Erica Illingworth||February 5th 2015|
Currently, Belize is struggling with an onslaught of drug trafficking, a common theme experienced by many Latin American countries, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. You can now add Belize to the list that is now caught up in the â€œWar on Drugs.â€ Geographically, Belize shares a northern border with Mexico, a western one with Guatemala, and access to the Gulf and several Caribbean countries. Its physical location and the increasing violence in Mexico and Guatemala make Belize an ideal transshipment point to the U.S. market.
To counter the drug trafficking threat, Belize has followed the U.S.â€™s policy by adopting a hardline approach and cracking-down on drugs. Belize has looked to its allies- the U.S., Canada and the U.K. â€“ to help strengthen its military, called the Belize Defense Force, and the countryâ€™s police force. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Sim Tack||February 3rd 2015|
Last week, the Cuban government declared that for the United States and Cuba to normalize relations, the United States would have to return the territory occupied by a U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Washington clearly responded that returning the base is not on the table right now. This response makes sense, since quite a bit of politicking goes into the status of the base. However, the Guantanamo Bay issue highlights a notable aspect to the U.S.-Cuban negotiations â€” one that is rooted in the history of the U.S. ascension to superpower status as it challenged European powers in the Western Hemisphere.
U.S. Expansion in the Western Hemisphere
Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, has a prominent position at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico, separating access to the gulf into two choke points: the Yucatan Channel and the Straits of Florida. It is also situated on the sea-lanes between the U.S. East Coast and the Panama Canal, the shortest route for naval traffic between the two coasts of the United States. Cuba thus has been pivotal to the U.S. strategy to safeguard economic activity in the Gulf of Mexico and naval transport routes beyond that. The evolution of U.S. naval capabilities, however, has changed the part that Cuba, and thus the base at Guantanamo, has played. Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Joshua Gleis||January 29th 2015|
It seems like an eternity ago that fighting raged in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, dubbed by the IDF as Operation Protective Edge. Nonstop coverage of that conflict clogged the airwaves for weeks, only to be drowned out by new headlines: ISIS. Ebola. Ferguson. But with activities now heating up between Israel and Hezbollah on the Lebanese, Syrian and Israeli borders, it is worth exploring what lessons Hezbollah took away from this past summerâ€™s conflict, and what one might find as a result, both on and off the battlefield with Israel.
Highlighted by recent skirmishes on the Israeli-Lebanese and Israeli-Syrian borders, tensions between Israel and Hezbollah are high, and the possibility of a more sustained outbreak of violence, intentional or not, is becoming increasingly likely.
Below is a list of the top ten lessons Hezbollah likely learned from Operation Protective Edge, as well as what can be expected from them as a result, in a future conflict with Israel. Hezbollah is now significantly more battle hardened as its fighters have been engaged in deadly fighting in Syria for years. Pre-occupied with fighting in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, it is not interested in another conflict with Israel at the moment. Read more ..
|Mark Weisenmiller||January 22nd 2015|
The two U.S. military social media accounts that were hacked last week had major accounts in Florida. Is there something about Florida?
On January 12, a person, or persons, calling him and/or themselves CyberCaliphate hacked the Twitter and YouTube social network accounts of the headquarters of U.S. Central Command (or USCC; also known as CentCom). MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, is the base headquarters for USCC.
The first of the hacks occurred on Twitter and stated â€œISIS (the international terrorist group) is already here, we are in your PCâ€™s, in each military base.â€ The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) immediately began an investigation into the matter. As of press time, the FBI was still investigating the case. Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Victor Beattie||January 19th 2015|
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain faces a â€œsevereâ€ threat of terrorist attack, while a European law enforcement official describes the security environment as "difficult". A U.S. lawmaker also warns of a growing threat of â€œhomegrown violent extremism.â€
Appearing on the CBS program "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Cameron said Britain faces a â€œsevere threatâ€ and that an attack is â€œhighly likely.â€
"This threat keeps morphing because itâ€™s the same fundamental problem, extremist Islamist terror. The threat has changed and altered, but still based on the fundamental problem of a poisonous death cult narrative, which is a perversion of one of the worldâ€™s major religions," said Cameron.
Cameron said the struggle against these extremists will take a long time and require international cooperation.
"If we take the issue of Islamic extremist terrorism coming out of Iraq and Syria, it is going to take a very long time to deal with this. While weâ€™ll have to show a great deal of perseverance, we cannot do this on our own as Western countries. We need a functioning government in Iraq, a functioning government in Syria to be the legitimate authorities that with us help to stamp out this perversion of the Islamic religion," said Cameron.
Rob Wainwright, the director of the European Union law enforcement agency Europol, said a determined police response is underway in the wake of the January 7 and 9 terrorist attacks in France that killed 17 people.
"Weâ€™ve seen action now in Belgium, in Greece, Berlin and other locations as well, and it shows the nature of the threat weâ€™re facing right now. Itâ€™s spread across so many European countries, perpetrated by a community of perhaps thousands of people who have been radicalized on the Internet, by their conflict experience in Syria and Iraq, and many of them have returned to European society with perhaps some of them with the intent and capability to carry out the attack," said Wainwright. Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Martin Matishak ||January 16th 2015|
A top House Democrat on Thursday condemned suggestions from conservative websites that Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), a Muslim, should not have been appointed to the House Intelligence Committee.
It has â€œcome to my attention that there have been a shocking amount of comments made in conservative publications and on social media to the effect that Rep. Carson's integrity is somehow in question as a result of his religion,â€ Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Democratic caucus, said in a letter to members.
â€œThese comments deeply offend me, as I'm sure they offend all of you, which is why I hope all of us will take every opportunity to renounce these kinds of comments and discourage this kind of harmful talk,â€ he added. Read more ..
The Weapon's Edge
|Peter Clarke||January 14th 2015|
SmartRounds Technology LLC (Brighton, Colorado) has developed what it describes as the as world's first smart, less-than-lethal bullet. It includes both a MEMS accelerometer and a CMOS image sensor
that operates as it nears the target. SmartRounds Technology LLC (Brighton, Colorado) has developed what it describes as the as world's first smart, less-than-lethal bullet. It includes both a MEMS accelerometer and a CMOS image sensor
that operates as it nears the target.
The accelerometer in the round is used to turn the bullet on and the image sensor is used to detect distance to the target and set off the payload milliseconds before it would otherwise impact the target. These18mm non-impact rounds will initially be made available in two forms, a "flash-bang" and nitrogen gas shock round and a pepper-spray round.
These projectiles are designed to be fired from a standard 12 gauge shotgun at 450 feet per second and have a range of 100 yards. The ShockRound produces a flash-bang and nitrogen gas shock wave that disables the assailant. The PepperRound produces a flash-bang and a capsaicin cloud that causes a burning sensation to the eyes and throat rendering the target unable to continue.
"Our smart bullets will forever change the landscape for the use of non-lethal weapons by military forces, law enforcement and others worldwide," said Nick Verini, CEO of SmartRounds Technology. Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Soeren Kern||January 13th 2015|
German police have evidence "that key European cities could be attacked at any time." â€” Der Spiegel.
"This is a serious situation." â€” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
"You will pay the price as you walk on your streets, turning right and left, fearing the Muslims. We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah." â€” Jihadist video threatening Italy.
"The Islamists... showed France that they are incapable of democracy and rather look to violence and death as an answer! Our politicians want us to believe the opposite. Must such a tragedy happen here in Germany first???" â€” Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West [PEGIDA]. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Alex Piazza||January 7th 2015|
A U.S. Army vehicle with five soldiers aboard maneuvers along a barren stretch in southern Afghanistan.
As the vehicle approaches a small village, a roadside bomb triggers underneath the military vehicle and sends it toppling over, severely injuring its occupants.
The scenario is no anomaly, as U.S. Department of Defense records reveal that roadside bombs wounded more than 8,700 American troops in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012.
Those figures donâ€™t sit well with Matthew P. Reed, a University of Michigan researcher who has devoted much of his recent efforts to improving safety measures for military personnel. Read more ..
Saudia Arabia on Edge
|Michael Nayebi-Oskoui||January 6th 2015|
The Middle East is one of the most volatile regions in the world â€” it is no stranger to upheaval. The 2009 uprisings in Iran and the brinksmanship of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government were followed by the chaos of the Arab Spring, the spillover of the Syrian conflict into Iraq and a potential realignment of the U.S.-Iranian relationship. Unlike recent years, however, 2015 is likely to see regional Sunni Arab interests realign toward a broader acceptance of moderate political Islam.
The region is emerging from the uncertainty of the past half-decade, and the foundations of its future are taking shape. This process will not be neat or orderly, but changes are clearly taking place surrounding the Syrian and Libyan conflicts, as well as the region's anticipation of a strengthened Iran. Read more ..
|Jonathan Spyer||December 28th 2014|
Islamic State has suffered severe losses as a result of coalition air strikes in the last months. Over 1,000 of its fighters have been killed, and Kurdish peshmerga forces have driven the jihadists back on a wide front between the cities of Erbil and Mosul.
The terror movement has also failed to conquer the symbolic town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) close to the Syrian-Turkish border (further south, Islamic State losses have been more modest and at least partially reversed).
Yet despite these setbacks, there are no indications that Islamic State is anywhere close to collapse. And while American bombers and Kurdish fighters are preventing its advance further east, there are many indications the jihadists are continuing to advance their presence in a south and westerly direction – from the borders of their entity towards Damascus and Lebanon, and incidentally, in the direction of Israel. Read more ..
|Kristina Wong||December 24th 2014|
The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that a Jordanian F-16 jet crashed in Syria and that the pilot has been taken captive by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"A Jordanian F-16 aircraft crashed in the vicinity of the northern Syrian city of Ar-Raqqah on Wednesday and the pilot has been taken captive by ISIL forces," U.S. Central Command said in a statement, using an alternate name for the terrorist group.
"The Jordanians are highly-respected and valued partners and their pilots and crews have performed exceptionally well over the course of this campaign," Centcom's commander Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III said in the statement.
Jordan has been participating in the U.S.-led coalition's airstrikes against ISIS in Syria since September. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|George Friedman||December 23rd 2014|
Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to an exchange of prisoners being held on espionage charges. In addition, Washington and Havana agreed to hold discussions with the goal of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. No agreement was reached on ending the U.S. embargo on Cuba, a step that requires congressional approval.
It was a modest agreement, striking only because there was any agreement at all. U.S.-Cuba relations had been frozen for decades, with neither side prepared to make significant concessions or even first moves. The cause was partly the domestic politics of each country that made it easier to leave the relationship frozen. On the American side, a coalition of Cuban-Americans, conservatives and human rights advocates decrying Cuba's record of human rights violations blocked the effort. Read more ..
|Sam Orez||December 18th 2014|
from 1-24 and agencies
At least 150 women, most of whom Yazidi, who refused to marry militants of the Islamic State were executed in the western Iraqi province of Al-Anbar, Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights said on Tuesday.
"At least 150 females, including pregnant women, were executed in Fallujah by a militant named Abu Anas Al-Libi after they refused to accept jihad marriage," the statement said.
"Many families were also forced to migrate from the province’s northern town of Al-Wafa after hundreds of residents received death threats." Read more ..
|Soeren Kern||December 13th 2014|
Thousands of German citizens have been taking to the streets to protest the growing "Islamization" of their country.
The protests are part of a burgeoning grassroots movement made up of ordinary citizens who are calling for an end to runaway immigration and the spread of Islamic Sharia law in Germany.
The guardians of German multiculturalism are fighting back: they are seeking to delegitimize the protesters by branding them as "neo-Nazis" and by claiming that the Islamization of Germany is a myth contrived by misinformed citizens.
But there is a mounting public backlash over what many perceive as the government's indifference to the growing influence of Islam in German society. This backlash represents a potentially significant turning point—one that implies that the days of unrestrained German multiculturalism may be coming to an end. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Michael Cook||December 12th 2014|
|Sherwood Moran interrogating a Japanese prisoner|
This week’s Senate committee report on the involvement of the CIA in torture and mistreatment of detainees has exposed a bitter debate between human-rights-first interrogators and battle-hardened interrogators.
Former US Air Force Col. Steven Kleinman represents the human-right-first group. “As a career interrogator, I know that the lawful, humane methods for acquiring intelligence are also the most effective,” he says. “Today’s report only reinforces this fact and makes it publicly available to the American people. There is no need to debate this any longer. Now it’s time to chart a new course for the future, one that will not only respect human rights, but will also keep America safe.”
Now working as Director of Strategic Research at The Soufan Group, Kleinman backs his claims up with psychological research published in academic journals. Read more ..
The Americas on Edge
|Clement Doleac||December 8th 2014|
|Fidel Castro and Argentine President Cristina Kirchner|
Through an analysis of the relationship between the Organization of American States (OAS) and the government of Cuba, as well as the review of the importance of democratic values being upheld in the Inter-American system, this article details how the U.S. imperialism is at the roots of the political hemispheric organization. Because of the efforts of the U.S. hegemonic participation in the OAS, most Latin American governments reject the OAS as the most important forum for political discussion in the hemisphere which led to an uncertain future of the OAS. This is illustrated by Cuba’s reluctance to reintegrate into the OAS and the difficulties the OAS has had to reestablish the democratic identity that it was once known for. These difficulties have led to the creation of a set of regional forums and calls for a deep political reform of the Inter-American system.
The OAS: A Peacekeeper and a Hemispheric Organization Offering Reciprocal Assistance
The OAS was conceived in 1948 as an organization destined to promote peace and the settlement of disputes among member states. The OAS Charter titled Pact of Bogotá signed in 1948 obliges the contracting parties to settle controversies by peaceful means such as mediation, investigation and conciliation, good offices, and arbitration.
By the end of the 1940s, U.S. foreign policy began focusing on the Third World, as these peripheral countries were the new battleground of the Cold War. This shift in U.S. foreign policy is best exemplified through the Chinese Revolution and the Korean War. Read more ..
|George Friedman||December 4th 2014|
Europe's economic crisis is slowly but steadily eroding the political systems of many countries on the Continent. New actors are emerging and threatening the supremacy of the traditional players. Alliances and events that seemed impossible only a few years ago are now being openly discussed across Europe.
On Dec. 3, for example, Sweden announced it would hold early elections, partially because of political moves from the far right. In Spain, the ruling center-right party is openly discussing the possibility of entering an alliance with its traditional center-left rivals to prevent a protest party from taking over. Read more ..
|James Schall||December 2nd 2014|
Recently I saw a series of colored photos of the execution, beheading, crucifixion, or shooting in the head of numerous Christians in Iraq or Syria by members of the Islamic State. I have seldom seen anything so gruesome. It was so revolting that I had to stop looking at them. But that reaction was probably exactly what those photos were designed to accomplish. “These are the things that will happen to you soon enough” was the implied message. The Archbishop of Mosul warned pretty much the same thing of the West after he helplessly watched his people and church destroyed.
We are told that such “incidents” are works of “extremists” and “terrorists”, as if people do these things just for the sake of doing them. Yet, they have a clearly thought-out purpose, based on a known principle seen to be of the highest worth, in this sense, in the name of Allah. For many, the only way to cope with such realities is to deny their immediate possibility or even their fact. Read more ..
Europe on Edge
|James Jones and Pawel Olechnowicz ||November 29th 2014|
Twenty-five years after Poland's Solidarity and other dissident movements brought about the collapse of the Berlin Wall and promised a reunified Europe, the continent's political map suggests that this vision has been largely fulfilled. Nations that once lived behind the Wall’s ideological divide have joined the European Union to help build a secure, prosperous region from the Atlantic Ocean to the Baltic and Black seas.
But economic and infrastructure maps portray a different picture. Europe integration remains dangerously incomplete. A glaring problem is in Central Europe, where national networks of railroads, power lines, communications links—and notably oil and gas pipelines—remain largely disconnected from each other and from Western Europe. Nations from Estonia and Poland to the Balkans lack the connections running north-south and east-west essential to making them fully part of a single European market. Read more ..
|George Friedman||November 27th 2014|
Nuclear talks with Iran have failed to yield an agreement, but the deadline for a deal has been extended without a hitch. What would have been a significant crisis a year ago, replete with threats and anxiety, has been handled without drama or difficulty. This new response to yet another failure to reach an accord marks a shift in the relationship between the United States and Iran, a shift that can’t be understood without first considering the massive geopolitical shifts that have taken place in the Middle East, redefining the urgency of the nuclear issue.
These shifts are rooted in the emergence of the Islamic State. Ideologically, there is little difference between the Islamic State and other radical Islamic jihadist movements. But in terms of geographical presence, the Islamic State has set itself apart from the rest. While al Qaeda might have longed to take control of a significant nation-state, it primarily remained a sparse, if widespread, terrorist organization. It held no significant territory permanently; it was a movement, not a place. Read more ..
|Shiryn Ghermezian||November 26th 2014|
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that his country will continue to support the Islamic Jihad terror group in Gaza as well as rival Hamas and Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
The three terror organizations have collectively fired many thousands of rockets at Israel.
“We are not bound by religious differences; we equally supported Shiite #Hezbollah along w/#Hamas & #IslamicJihad and will keep doing that,” he posted on a Twitter account widely believed to be operated by his office, adding, “We strengthened our Palestinian brothers’ fist in #Gaza & other areas & will do so. As I already said #WestBank should also be armed like Gaza.” Read more ..
|Ben Cohen||November 15th 2014|
Fresh from their decisive victory in the 2014 midterm elections, Republican legislators have begun an offensive against the Obama Administration’s drive to achieve a deal with Iran over its nuclear program by November 24 – the deadline for a final agreement.
Republican Senators tried to push through a bill yesterday that would impose tough new sanctions on Iran in the event that a satisfactory deal is not concluded. Reuters reported that U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker asked for unanimous consent to allow a vote, but Democratic Senator Chris Murphy objected. “It would send a message that Congress does not stand with the president as the negotiations continue,” Murphy said.
The proposed “Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014″ would re-impose sanctions on Iran waived during the negotiating process if there is no deal by the deadline. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Adriano Bosconi||November 6th 2014|
Europe is overcrowded with people and with nations. Six decades ago, the need to suppress the dangerous forces of nationalism led to the unprecedented political, economic and social experiment now known as the European Union. The hundreds of thousands of EU citizens working across the Continent and the lack of border controls between member states show that the experiment has been successful in many ways. However, rising nationalism, pervasively high unemployment and a growing sense of frustration with governing elites also highlight the serious limitations of the European project. Over the past 12 months, I have traveled extensively throughout Europe, observing firsthand how the global economic crisis is reawakening dormant trends along the Continent's traditional fault lines. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||November 1st 2014|
Westerners fighting for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq continue to die at the front. One of the latest is sixteen-year-old Jaffar Deghayes, who hailed from England’s resort city, Brighton. Young Jaffar paid with his life at Aleppo for his devotion to extremist Islam. His father, Abukaber Deghayes said of the loss, “His death is a testament to his faith.” Jaffar is one of several residents of Great Britain who have died in the sustained fighting by the Islamic State to oust Syrian dictator Bashr al-Assad and to impose Islamic control over Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. At least 25 British nationals have died this year in Syria and Iraq.
Omar Deghayes, Jaffar’s uncle, wrote on his Facebook page, “As you grieve know that we are remembering you and honoring [sic] the memory of a sincere and truthful young man (deceased). May the peace which comes from Allah accept yours.” Uncle Omar spent nearly six years incarcerated at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo but was later released because he was found to be a victim of mistaken identity. Read more ..
The Defense Edge
|Stew Magnuson||October 29th 2014|
Networks are said to be one of the U.S. military’s Achilles’ heels. Cutting off communications through jamming or the destruction of infrastructure could be devastating to battlefield commanders. Peer and near-peer competitors such as China, Russia and Iran are reportedly boosting their electronic warfare capabilities.
Laser communications, also known as free space opticals, hold the promise of giving the military a means to transmit high amounts of data and voice that is hard to detect and an alternative to traditional radio frequencies.
Proponents say it is ready for prime time and mature enough for it to proliferate in the military realm more widely. Interest in the technology is also growing in the private sector, which may bring down costs for end users. Read more ..
|Sam Orez||October 27th 2014|
Islamic State militants in northern Iraq have modern portable air defense systems that are capable of shooting down a passenger plane, Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported citing the country’s foreign intelligence agency.
According to the media report published on Sunday, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) informed the German Bundestag of the threat at a closed session last week. The German intelligence agency said that the Islamic State(IS, formerly ISIS) militants located in northern Iraq have obtained air-defense systems from the captured military arsenal of the Syrian Army, according to the report. The IS militants have obtained the 1970s models as well as modern man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). These light-weight surface-to-air missile systems can be fired from the shoulder and operated by one person. Read more ..
The Future of Warfare
|Scott Stewart||October 23rd 2014|
Over the past few weeks, I've had people at speaking engagements ask me if I thought the Islamic State or some other militant group is using Ebola as a biological weapon, or if such a group could do so in the future. Such questions and concerns are not surprising given the intense media hype that surrounds the disease, even though only one person has died from Ebola out of the three confirmed cases in the United States. The media hype about the threat posed by the Islamic State to the United States and the West is almost as bad. Both subjects of all this hype were combined into a tidy package on Oct. 20, when the Washington Post published an editorial by columnist Mark Thiessen in which he claimed it would be easy for a group such as the Islamic State to use Ebola in a terrorist attack. Despite Thiessen's claims, using Ebola as a biological warfare agent is much more difficult than it might appear at first blush. Read more ..
|Jamie Dettmer||October 22nd 2014|
While U.S. warplanes strike at the militants of the so-called Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, truckloads of U.S. and Western aid has been flowing into territory controlled by the jihadists, assisting them to build their terror-inspiring “caliphate.”
The aid—mainly food and medical equipment—is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship. Read more ..
|Joanna Paraszczuk||October 15th 2014|
A former Iranian minister of intelligence, Heydar Moslehi, has added his voice to the growing number of hard-line critics of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group (IS) in Syria and Iraq.
In an interview with Fars News, a news outlet affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Moslehi said the coalition was a "bazeecheh" -- a Persian word meaning a "plaything" or a "trifling amusement." Islamic State, Moslehi said, was created by "the triangle of Mossad, MI6, and the CIA," a reference to the Israeli, British, and U.S. intelligence agencies.
Moslehi's remarks come a day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States and Britain of creating IS. Khamenei charged on October 13 that Washington and "the wicked government of Britain" created both IS and Al-Qaeda "to create divisions and to fight against the Islamic Republic [of Iran]" but that the militant groups have turned against them. Read more ..
|Sam Orez||October 13th 2014|
Sixteen military transport planes bought by the United States government for the Afghan Air Force (AAF) at a cost of nearly $500 million were recently destroyed by the Afghan military and sold for scrap parts at around six cents per pound, prompting a government inquiry to determine why millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on the ill-fated program.
The Department of Defense purchased for the AAF a total of 20 Italian-made G222 military transport planes at a cost of $486 million. However, the fleet was grounded in March 2013 “after sustained, serious performance, maintenance, and spare parts problems” were discovered, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Read more ..
|Kristina Wong||October 8th 2014|
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta knocked President Obama for sending mixed signals to America's enemies during a wide-ranging Fox News interview Tuesday evening.
Panetta said the U.S.'s credibility is suffering due to actions the president has taken, and that enemies of the United States are "getting a mixed message as to whether the United States will stand by its word."
"It's very important that when the president says something that we do it," he said, in reference to Obama threatening to conduct airstrikes against Syrian leader Bashar Assad if he used chemical weapons and then changing his mind.
Panetta's appearance on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" capped a day of TV appearances to discuss his new book, Worthy Fights, which was released Tuesday and contains pointed criticism of the president, including his handling of the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Raz Zimmt||October 3rd 2014|
The Hamas-affiliated media recently reported that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades was planning to establish what it called a "popular army." According to the reports, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades was recruiting as many civilian volunteers as possible, regardless of age. They will be given basic military training, especially how to fire various types of weapons. The objective is to train them to act as an auxiliary force for Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives in a future confrontation with Israel.
To that end, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades posted an announcement in the Abdallah Azzam mosque in the Al-Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City, and apparently in other mosques as well. It requested all Gazan civilians to train as part of a "popular army" and to register with Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades representatives (Qudspress.com, September 25, 2014). The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades intend to hold training camps for the "popular army" throughout the Gaza Strip with the slogan "We all [fight for] the resistance." Rounds of basic training are supposed to be held in weekly sessions and will be open to volunteers throughout the year. According to Abu Mujahad, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades' training commander, civilian volunteers will be trained in the use of all types of weapons, from light arms to hand grenades. He claimed that thousands of young Gazans had already signed up in the mosques for training. He added that the "popular army" would have a designated role in a future confrontation with Israel (Paltimes.net, September 27, 2014). Read more ..
|Scott Stewart||October 2nd 2014|
When the United States began its campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Sept. 22, it also used Tomahawk cruise missiles to attack a series of al Qaeda-related facilities in the Aleppo area. The strikes targeted al Qaeda's regional franchise in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as personnel belonging to the al Qaeda core who were in Syria working with Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadists. The U.S. government has referred to the al Qaeda personnel it attacked in Syria as the "Khorasan Group," but they are clearly personnel from the al Qaeda core who have been dispatched to Syria and not from some other organization.
It appears the strikes caught the al Qaeda militants by surprise, and there are reports that al Qaeda operative Muhsin al-Fadhli, reported to be Ayman al-Zawahiri's senior operative in Syria, was killed in the strikes. The United States also claimed that al-Fadhli and his fellow al Qaeda members were working on plots to strike the United States and Europe from their base in Syria. The group reportedly was the reason for an alert issued on July 2 warning that al Qaeda elements in Syria were working with bombmakers from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in a new plot to smuggle concealed explosive devices onto U.S.-bound aircraft. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Holly Watt||October 1st 2014|
Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives.
They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, under the new Extremist Disruption Orders.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will lay out plans to allow judges to ban people from broadcasting or protesting in certain places, as well as associating with specific people.
Read more ..
The plans — to be brought in if the Conservatives win the election in May — are part of a wide-ranging set of rules to strengthen the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy.
|Jonathan Spyer||September 29th 2014|
This week witnessed the second determined attempt by Islamic State forces to destroy the Kurdish enclave around Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) city in northern Syria. Kobani is one of three autonomous enclaves maintained by the Kurds in Syria.
As of now, it appears that after initial lightning advances, the progress of the jihadis has been halted; they have not moved forward in the last 24 hours. The arrival of Kurdish forces from across the Turkish border is the key element in freezing the advance.
Yet Islamic State has captured around 60 Kurdish villages in this latest assault, and its advanced positions remain perilously close – around 14.5 km. – from Kobani city. Around 100,000 people have fled Kobani for Turkey, from the enclave’s total population of around 400,0000. Read more ..
|Valerie Plame||September 28th 2014|
As discussions of terrorism and foreign fighters come to a close this week at the United Nations, President Obama can be sure of one thing: his opportunity to add the single greatest safeguard to global security is slipping away. If he wants to cement his legacy as the president who faced what he himself identified as “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security,” he needs to double down on his vision for a world without nuclear weapons in order to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on them.
Today – the first-ever International Day for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons – is as good a day as any to get rolling. Achieving the elimination of nuclear weapons is one of the U.N.’s longstanding objectives, one it has failed to prioritize. It’s no surprise that the security discussions this year were overshadowed by the plans of 10 member states to dismantle and defeat the Islamic State group, especially as their assault on radical Sunni resistance and aggression toward U.S. and British journalists continues to grow. Read more ..
|Bernard Banks||September 26th 2014|
The United States and its partners launched a new round of strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria on Wednesday, only hours after President Barack Obama called on the world to help end the extremist group’s reign of terror in the Middle East.
“I can confirm that US military and Arab partner forces are undertaking additional strikes today against ISIL terrorists in Syria,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said on Wednesday, using the Obama-administration's preferred language for the group formerly known as ISIS that today identifies as the Islamic State. “These operations are ongoing, so we will not provide additional details at this time. We will do so later as operationally appropriate.”
Later, the Pentagon confirmed that less than a dozen aircraft are involved in the latest attack. US Central Command (CENTCOM), meanwhile, confirmed that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also participated. Read more ..
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