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The Edge of Terrorism

U.S. and Canada Enter Mutual Air Cargo Security Agreement

June 2nd 2012

tsa security

Government officials in the United States and Canada acknowledged on May 31st that President Barack Obama's administration and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government agreed to a mutual recognition and cooperation plan regarding air cargo security in both nations, according to a Transportation Security Administration statement.

The action plan focuses on four areas: addressing threats early; facilitating trade, economic growth and jobs; integrating cross border law enforcement; and strengthening critical infrastructure and cyber security.

Under the new airline security initiative, cargo shipped on passenger aircraft will be screened at the point of origin and will not need to be re-screened at the border or prior to upload in the other country. With the two countries mutually recognizing each other’s air cargo security programs, the efficiency of screening is improved and the burden on the industry is reduced, according to the statement. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Gaza Strip has become a Huge Arms Depot since Israeli Withdrawal

June 2nd 2012

Gaza Militants

Israel must launch a military operation to rout terrorist organizations from the Gaza Strip immediately, Israel Security Agency head Yoram Cohen warned on May 30.

"The IDF's inaction against terrorist organizations will lead to a situation in which Hamas has far greater abilities in the next round of fighting," Cohen told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. It was his first appearance before the committee.

Cohen said Israel’s dilemma was not whether to launch such an offensive, but rather how Hamas would respond. "Such action might force a significant number of people [in Israel] into bomb shelters," Cohen said.

"Since the IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the territory has become a huge weapons depot," Cohen told the committee. "Hamas currently has 8,000 rockets that can reach a range of 4 to 40 km (2.5 to 25 miles)." Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Possible ‘Munich Style’ Terror Attack Averted in Azerbaijan

June 1st 2012

Azerbaijan Mosque Baku

Azerbaijan has arrested 40 people in connection with plans to commit terrorist attacks during the Eurovision Song Contest last weekend, which took place in the capital of Baku. According to a statement from the National Security Ministry, the targets included religious sites, buildings used by police, the concert hall for the Eurovision contest, and a number of hotels used by foreign visitors, including the JW Marriot, where Israel’s competitor in the contest, Izabo, was staying. “At first they placed three security guards with us, and then added more and more guards until there were 11 guards,” said Alon Amir, the publicist for Izabo. He added that no specific threats were relayed to the group during their stay.

Azerbaijan was the staging ground for a separate plot recently, where the assassinations of U.S., Saudi, and Israeli diplomats were being planned by terrorists linked to Iran. “The main goal of the group was to stage terrorist acts in Baku during the Eurovision,” the National Security Ministry said in a statement. “As a result of the measures taken, 40 members of the group were arrested.” Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

NY Times Article Accuses Israel of Often Killing ‘Tunnel Workers’

May 31st 2012

Smuggling Tunnels

Journalist Ruqaya Izzidien spent time in the smuggling tunnels running between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, and recently published an article about the experience in the New York Times.  Izzidien, who has written numerous articles for the Muslim Brotherhood’s English-language website, claimed in the NY Times that  ”the Israeli government views the tunnels as an illegal smuggling route and often targets them in airstrikes, which usually trap and kill workers.”

An Israel Defense Forces spokesman stated that the idea that they target these tunnels on a regular basis is “patently false”, and when the tunnels are targeted, it’s because they’re being used to smuggle illegal weapons.

“In the limited instances when tunnels are targeted, it is because they are used for terror purposes, such as smuggling in the increasingly complex weapons that have expanded the rocket range to over one million Israeli civilians,” Captain Eytan Buchman of the IDF said.  ”The tunnel ‘industry’ facilitated this rapid expansion, increasing the range of the rockets ten-fold in under a decade.” Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Democratic National Convention Delegate chosen from Council on American-Islamic Relations

May 31st 2012

Hussam Alyoush
Left to right: Hussam Alyoush, Munira Syeda, Ameena Mirza of CAIR.

The Executive-Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Greater Area of Los Angeles Area chapter, Hussam Ayloush, has been elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. CAIR was labeled as an "unindicted co-conspirator" by the federal government in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a charity shut down for financing Hamas. On July 1, 2009, District Judge Jorge Solis upheld the label, ruling that the government provided "ample" evidence tying CAIR to Hamas.

On April 29, Ayloush announced on his Twitter page that he was elected as a DNC delegate for California's Congressional District 42. The California Democratic Party's website has the results of the delegate caucuses, confirming Ayloush's victory.

CAIR's roots are in the Muslim Brotherhood, specifically its Palestine Committee that was secretly set up in the U.S. to support Hamas. In 1993, the FBI wiretapped a Palestine Committee meeting in Philadelphia that included two future founders of CAIR, Nihad Awad and Omar Ahmad. Also present was Shukri Abu Baker, the leader of the aforementioned Hamas front called the Holy Land Foundation. At that time, Awad and Ahmed led the Islamic Association for Palestine, another Muslim Brotherhood front (according to the Brotherhood's own documents) with extensive ties to Hamas. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

“Holy Warriors” Terror Plot to Abduct Israeli Citizen Uncovered by Shin Bet

May 31st 2012

IDF Smuggler Tunnels

A plot to kidnap an Israeli citizen and use that person as a bargaining chip for the release of Palestinian convicts, has been uncovered by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. The Holy Warriors Battalion, a terrorist group with links to Hamas, and has been involved in rocket and gun attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians in the past, was behind the plan, which according to Israeli media outlets, originally came into being while the suspects were in jail together.

A number of the suspects are currently serving life sentences in Israeli prisons, including Assad Abu Sharia, who is from the Gaza Strip and is the group’s leader. An operative of the Holy Warriors Battalion named Ramzi Azar, received instructions from another terrorist, Mohammed Baraka Amur to form a group to carry out the abduction. Read more ..

Korea on Edge

U.S. General Muses on HUMINT and Stirs the Pot in the Korean Peninsula

May 30th 2012

Kim Jong-Un

A U.S. Army general has stirred controversy this week about comments about American and South Korean military operations in the North. The U.S. military is denying reports that the head of U.S. special operations in South Korea acknowledged that American and South Korean commandos operate covertly in North Korea.

There are concerns about the ramifications of what the leader of the U.S. special operations command in South Korea said at a panel discussion in Tampa, Florida, on May 22.

Brigadier General Neil Tolley, to an audience of hundreds of people at the Special Operations Forces Industry conference, discussed the challenges the United States faces determining what is inside North Korea's many secret tunnels.

Freelance combat reporter and technology writer David Axe was among those listening to the general. "He was describing the utility of human intelligence on the ground in North Korea. He was describing it as though it were actually happening right now," said Axe. "He since has walked that back to say that he was speaking hypothetically, although he didn't say at the time he was speaking hypothetically."

Another person who attended the panel discussion said he heard the same thing and a partial transcript corroborates Axe’s recollection. Read more ..


Broken Borders

Report Gives DHS Air and Marine Thumbs Down

May 30th 2012

MQ-1 Predator Drone

Department of Homeland Security officials supervise the largest law enforcement air force in the world, but they failed to perform their goals especially at U.S. borders, according to a new report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.

On March 30, 2012, the Government Accountability Office issued a classified report on the effective use of both air and marine assets by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection directorate of the Homeland Security Department. This week the GAO released an unclassified version of what many believe is an important document. Information deemed sensitive has been redacted.

"Within DHS, CBP's Office of Air and Marine deploys the largest law enforcement air force in the world. In support of homeland security missions, OAM provides aircraft, vessels, and crews at the request of the U.S. Border Patrol, which is responsible for enforcing border security," the report states. This specialized law enforcement capability allows OAM to make significant contributions to the homeland security efforts of DHS, as well as to those of Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies. To accomplish this mission, OAM utilizes over 1200 Federal Agents, operating from 80 air and marine locations, with more than 290 aircraft of 22 different types, and more than 250 maritime vessels. Read more ..


The Digital Edge

Flame, 'The Most Powerful Virus To Date'

May 29th 2012

Hackers

Someone is infecting Iran's computers with what experts call "the most powerful virus to date." Here are four things to know about the virus, dubbed Flame.

What is Flame and what does it do?  Flame is a computer virus that Tehran says is infecting its computers and which independent experts say is the most powerful virus yet seen. The virus appears to be a major escalation in the cyberwar that some governments concerned by Iran's nuclear program are suspected of waging against Tehran to sabotage its progress.

The virus infects computers in order to spy on users, steal classified information, and cause the mass deletion of data. It does this by sniffing network traffic, taking screenshots, recording audio conversations, and intercepting keyboard activity. The data it collects is relayed back to the virus's creators.

Just which computers Flame is targeting in Iran and what damage it has done so far is unknown. Iranian experts discovered the virus on computers in the Iranian Oil Ministry and National Oil Company in recent months and it only became publicly known this week after Tehran asked a UN agency to help investigate. Read more ..


The 2012 Vote

Fights over Budget, Gay Marriage, Missile Sites Loom on Defense Bill

May 28th 2012

Lobbyist

As the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the Defense authorization bill out of committee this week, it offered the first concrete look at where the Senate will do battle with the House over Defense issues this year. The debate will have an added dose of drama this year because the Defense bill is getting sucked into a broader fight on the size and shape of the budget in the midst of a presidential election year. There are also a host of contentious policies where the two chambers disagree, including provisions on same-sex marriage, abortion and a new East Coast missile defense site.

But the marquee issue between the Republican-led House and Democratic-led Senate is shaping up to be the overall size of the Defense budget. The House passed-bill authorized a Pentagon budget that was nearly $4 billion higher than both President Obama’s budget request and the bill passed by the Senate panel. The House legislation aligns itself with the budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which increases defense and cuts non-defense discretionary spending over the next decade, restoring a chunk of the Pentagon’s $487 billion budget cut due to the Budget Control Act. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

US Officials Reportedly Targeted in Iranian Assassination Plot

May 28th 2012

Destroyed terrorist vehicle

Several American diplomats, along with Israeli and Saudi Arabian officials, were reportedly on a hit list linked to an ongoing assassination campaign by Iranian intelligence. The U.S. officials targeted in the alleged plot were stationed at the American embassy in Azerbaijan, according to reports in the Washington Post. The central Asian country shares its southern border with Iran.

Details of the plot, uncovered by U.S. and Azerbaijani intelligence, included a planned sniper attack on American embassy officials and their families. Alleged Iranian conspirators also schemed to kill embassy members with a car bomb, according to the Post.

The ongoing investigation by American and foreign intelligence into the planned attacks have uncovered evidence tying the plot to Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah and other smaller factions working inside Iran. The plan was to kill U.S. and foreign diplomats over a 13-month period and was only uncovered after Azerbaijani authorities rounded up over 20 alleged co-conspirators in arrests this year. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

US Wades Deeper into Counterterrorism Fight in Yemen and East Africa

May 28th 2012

Yemeni army

A congressionally approved $75 million cash influx for American-led counterterrorism operations in Yemen and East Africa is the latest sign of a quietly escalating war against terrorist factions in the region.

The money was part of the $631 billion defense budget bill approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. Those funds will finance DOD efforts to support ongoing counterterrorism offensives against al Qaeda's terror cells in Yemen and East Africa, according to the legislation.

The Yemen cell, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is known as one of the most active and dangerous al Qaeda factions operating today. The CIA recently foiled an AQAP plot to blow up a commercial airliner bound for the United States from Yemen through a double agent run by British and Saudi intelligence.

Al Shabab, the East African faction of al Qaeda, has been carrying out terrorist attacks against African Union forces in and around Somalia since the 1990's. The al Qaeda affiliate recently combined forces with the African-based Islamic fundamentalists group Boko Haram to expand its attacks against government targets along Africa's eastern shores. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syria's New Jihadis

May 27th 2012

Free Syrian Army

Syria suffered its worst terror attack in decades this month when two car bombs exploded near a military intelligence branch in Damascus, killing 55 people and wounding hundreds more. Syria's state-run news agency was quick to publish gruesome pictures of the victims of the attack, which President Bashar al-Assad's regime pinned on "foreign-backed terrorist groups."

At first, the Syrian regime seemed to have evidence to back up its case. On May 12, a video was distributed on YouTube, purportedly from a Palestinian branch of the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusrah ("The Victory Front" or JN), claiming credit for the attack. But the release turned out to be a fake: On May 14, JN released a statement denying that it was behind the video. At the same time, it did not deny conducting the attack. Rather, JN's media outlet said it had yet to hear from JN's military commanders if they perpetrated the bombings. Whether or not JN was involved in the Damascus attack, the organization has become a real force in recent weeks -- and one that threatens to undermine the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the loose network of defectors and local militia fighting the government. Its main goals are to awaken Muslims to the atrocities of the Assad regime, and eventually take control of the state and implement its narrow and puritanical interpretation of Islamic law. To that end, in the past month alone, JN has perpetrated a series of suicide bombings and IED strikes -- and the pace of attacks seems to be growing. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Rockefeller Questions Cybersecurity of Gas Pipelines

May 27th 2012

Oil Pipes2

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) questioned whether gas pipelines are vulnerable to cyberattacks in a letter on May 24th to the president of a gas trade association. Hackers recently attacked computer networks managing several major gas pipelines, although it is unclear how much damage they caused.

Rockefeller, the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said the attacks "remind all of us that these threats are real and that we must take steps to protect our country from threats to critical infrastructure." Rockefeller is one of the leading supporters of a Senate bill that would give the Homeland Security Department the authority to force critical infrastructure, such as gas pipelines or electrical grids, to meet minimum cybersecurity standards. Read more ..


The North Korean Threat

North Korea Warned of Deeper Isolation Should Provocations Continue

May 27th 2012

N Korean troops

A high-level U.S. delegation focused on North Korean matters met with South Korean and Japanese diplomats in Seoul May 21st. The group had words of warning for North Korea. Key U.S., South Korean and Japanese diplomats held talks for the first time since North Korea's provocative rocket launch attempt last month.  The rocket exploded less than two minutes into its flight. Host envoy Lim Sung-nam said if Pyongyang is willing to take a different path it would "lead North Korea to the right side of peace."

Pledge of unified response

But the diplomats are also pledging a unified response should Pyongyang go ahead with any more provocations, such as a third attempted nuclear test. Glyn Davies, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy, warned Pyongyang that such an act would prove to be a serious miscalculation. "This new regime in Pyongyang saw that the world community, the international community, was united in reacting to the missile launch on April 13th," he said. "And so they know if they engage in another provocation, such as a nuclear test, they will once again be subject to a united action by the international community." Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Twenty Attempts to Kidnap IDF Soldiers by Terrorist Groups

May 25th 2012

Israeli recruits

A senior officer in the Israel Defense Forces says there have been 20 attempts to kidnap IDF soldiers in 2012 to date by Arab and Palestinian terrorist groups. “Terror groups are constantly on patrol looking for situations they can take advantage of,” the officer said. “Their preference is for soldiers, because they feel that can extract the highest price for them.”

Israel’s release of over 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit has gone a long way to increasing the threat of kidnappings, the officer says, which is now considered a concern at all times of the day, while in the past, specific threat alerts have gone out when intelligence found an increased risk. The IDF has altered there instructions for personnel operating in the Judea and Samaria region, telling them to ”not stand alone at an intersection, do not stand at a bus or transport station alone, make sure you are in constant touch with touch with your commanders, and report any unusual activity.” The officer also noted the kidnapping risks for Jews living and traveling outside of Israel. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

King: Collaboration of Obama Officials, Filmmakers Potentially Dangerous

May 25th 2012

Obama Pentagon

On Wednesday, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, sent out two biting letters in response to the internal CIA and Department of Defense email messages obtained by a leading public-interest group regarding the planned Sony Pictures movie on the mission in which a U.S. Navy SEAL team killed Osama bin Laden.

Once the documents were released by Judicial Watch officials, who obtained them via a court order following the group's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the more questions about national security taking a backseat to political ambition arose, according to a report by the Law Enforcement Examiner. Advertisement “Filmmakers Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal may have set out to tell a blockbuster, election-year story about one of the most highly classified operations in American history, but through these emails they’ve ended up telling a damning story of extremely close, unprecedented, and potentially dangerous collaboration with top officials at the CIA, DoD, and the White House and a top Democratic lobbying firm,” Congressman King stated. “After reviewing these emails, I am even more concerned about the possible exposure of classified information to these filmmakers, who as far as I know, do not possess security clearances. Read more ..


Edge of Terrorism

Terrorism and Non-So Exceptional Individuals

May 24th 2012

Hamas head

We have recent seen a thwarted underwear bomb plot, as well as the U.S. government's easing the rules of engagement for unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in Yemen, as an opportunity to examine the role of exceptional individuals in militant groups that conduct terrorist attacks. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP's) innovative bombmaker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, is one such individual.

Reported by AP on May 7, the news of the thwarted underwear plot overshadowed another event in Yemen that occurred May 6: a U.S. airstrike in Shabwa province that killed Fahd al-Quso, a Yemeni militant wanted for his involvement in the attack against the USS Cole in October 2000. Al-Quso appeared in a video released by AQAP's al-Malahim Media in May 2010, during which he threatened attacks against the continental United States, its embassy in Yemen and warships in the waters surrounding Yemen.

The media and the U.S. government frequently mention al-Quso's involvement in the USS Cole bombing, but they rarely discuss his precise duty the day of the attack. Al-Quso had been tasked to record the attack from ashore so that the video could be used later in al Qaeda propaganda. Unfortunately for the group, al-Quso was derelict in his duty; he slept through his alarm, and the attack went unrecorded. Oversleeping a terrorist attack was not al-Quso's only operational gaffe. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, al-Quso had been dispatched in January 2001 to transport money to al Qaeda facilitator Walid bin Attash in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The money reportedly funded the travel and initial living expenses of 9/11 operatives Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khaled al-Midhar. However, al-Quso failed to get a Malaysian visa. He was stuck in Bangkok, and bin Attash, al-Hazmi and al-Midhar had to meet him in Bangkok to retrieve the funds. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iran Rejects World Powers Stance in Nuclear Talks

May 24th 2012

Click to select Image

Iran rejected the stance of world powers in talks over its disputed nuclear program on May 24th. The two sides were meeting for a second day in Baghdad in an attempt to resolve international concerns about potential military dimensions to the Iranian nuclear program. At issue is Iran's enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity. Iran says its enrichment work is meant for medical research and generating electricity.

Western nations fear Iran could quickly upgrade its uranium to the 90 percent purity needed for nuclear weapons. Iran criticized the proposal from the six-nation group, saying it makes too many demands of Iran while offering too little in return. Western powers have rebuffed Tehran's call for an immediate easing of economic sanctions.

In turn, Iran accused world powers Thursday of creating a “difficult atmosphere” with its demands. The world powers group includes the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. Talks were scheduled through late afternoon. But Iran is signaling the impasse is significant and could derail further talks. The French news agency quoted an Iranian official as saying “the basis for another round of negotiations does not exist yet.” Read more ..


America on Edge

New DoD Authorization Bill Takes America further towards Militarization of Police

May 24th 2012

Agent in Drug War

The new defense authorization act all but erases decades of U.S. government compliance with the letter and the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act 1878, a law that prohibits the use of the U.S. military to perform law enforcement functions within the United States, according to police officials and others opposed to the militarizing of American law enforcement.

Provisions in the new authorization act allow military reservists -- Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines -- to be called to duty and deployed in the event of a natural disaster or other emergency within the homeland, as well as mobilization of reserve units to support counterterrorism and security missions overseas, according to the American Forces Press Service's Donna Miles.

"Except for a crisis involving a weapon of mass destruction, the reserves historically have been prohibited from providing a homeland disaster response," Army Lt. General Jack C. Stultz, the Army Reserve chief, told reporters on May 18. Originally, such deployments were the duty of National Guard, which are under the control of state governors who would call in guardsman as needed to support civil police forces, fire departments and other emergency personnel. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

The Baghdad Nuclear Talks: Three Steps to Help Diplomacy Succeed

May 24th 2012

Bushehr plant panoramic

Given that Wednesday's Iran nuclear talks in Baghdad are unlikely to produce a decisive outcome, a central challenge for U.S. and EU-3 (i.e., British, French, and German) negotiators will be to manage the tension between a slow-moving diplomatic process and the much faster progress of Iran's nuclear program and international sanctions, as well as possible Israeli military plans to stymie the program. For Washington, resolving that challenge means insisting on measures from Iran that bring its nuclear weapons progress to a full stop, allowing sanctions to continue expanding during the talks, and coordinating closely with regional allies regarding acceptable outcomes.

THREE SCENARIOS

The April 13-14 nuclear talks in Istanbul were reportedly characterized by a positive "atmosphere," but little if any discussion of substance. Neither the P5+1 (i.e., the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) nor Iran put forward proposals, and the only agreed outcome was to hold a second round of talks and, in the interim, "expert-level" consultations between Ali Bagheri, deputy to Iranian negotiator Saeed Jalili, and Helga Schmid, deputy to EU foreign policy chief Baroness Catherine Ashton. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

U.S. Provides Billions of Dollars For Foreign Police Assistance

May 24th 2012

Click to select Image

In the aftermath of the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States government found it necessary to garner the commitment and cooperation of foreign police and security departments to combat al-Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups, according to a government report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police and the Law Enforcement Examiner yesterday.

The U.S. government provided close to $14 billion for foreign police assistance during fiscal years 2009 through 2011, according to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative branch of the House of Representatives.

The GAO report states that funds provided by U.S. agencies rose and then fell between fiscal years 2009 and 2011. During fiscal years 2009 through 2011, the United States provided the greatest amount of its foreign police assistance to Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Colombia, Mexico, and the Palestinian Territories. All of the funds were earmarked for anti-terrorist training and equipment except for Mexico, which is in the midst of a bloody "war" with its Drug Cartels and organized crime. Read more ..


Mexico on Edge

Mexico Plagued by Narcomantas and Body Dumps

May 24th 2012

Nuevo Leon shoot out

Since the Sinaloa Federation announced its incursion into Los Zetas-controlled Nuevo Laredo by displaying seven dismembered bodies with a narcomanta in the border city March 26, the cartels and their allies have waged a dueling campaign of such displays.

The victims in the displays have been low-level cartel members -- if they had cartel connections at all -- meaning their killings offered little tactical advantage to their executioners. Instead, these public displays of violence are intended to convey messages to the public, to undermine their rivals' support bases and to put pressure from military and law enforcement on their rivals. Narcomantas are useful for spreading disinformation, particularly when paired with large displays of corpses. This is because authorities rarely verify claims of authorship on narcomantas, which provides a low-risk opportunity for organized criminal groups to create a narcomanta and attribute it to whomever they wish. Typically, the cartels falsely attribute narcomantas to rivals to attract or deflect pressure from law enforcement or the military. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Probe Obama Administration Terror Leak Demand Lawmakers

May 23rd 2012

Lockerbie

U.S. Congressman Peter King (R-NY) is demanding answers about an alleged leak by the Obama Administration of classified information regarding the British infiltration of al-Qaeda by an MI6   (Military Intelligence Section 6) "asset" and the successful counterterrorism operation that allegedly thwarted a possible terrorist plot involving an upgraded version of the infamous "underwear bomb."      

In a letter to the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Robert Mueller, King stated that the investigation -- and those individuals investigated -- should include anyone who had access to the top secret information of the al-Qaeda infiltration. King  wrote that this leak: jeopardized the life of a unique intelligence source; caused the operation to be aborted before its potential was maximized; and allowed critical intelligence relationships to be damaged.

About 10 days after the frenzied news media detailed highly classified information about a reported anti-terror operation involving al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Representative Peter T. King (R-New York), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, formally requested that FBI director Robert Mueller launch a full inquiry of the widely reported leaks of the information in the case. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

FOIA Request Reveals Disturbing White House Collaboration in Upcoming Bin Laden Film

May 23rd 2012

Kathryn Bigelow
Kathryn Bigelow

A Washington, DC-based group that investigates, exposes, and combats government corruption at the highest levels, surprised members of the news industry by obtaining documents that one source said "were almost as hard to get from the Obama administration as buying a winning lottery ticket at the local grocery store." What is revealed in these records is disturbing, even shocking, say a number of counterterrorism and political experts.

The noted -- and feared by a number of politicos -- public-interest organization, Judicial Watch, reported on May 21 that its officials obtained records from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency regarding meetings and communications between Obama-run federal agencies and veteran filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow. Bigelow, the ex-wife of director James Cameron (Titanic), garnered an Oscar for her direction of The Hurt Locker, an acclaimed motion picture about a U.S. Army bomb disposal unit in Iraq at the height of the insurgency.

According to the newly obtained records, the Obama Defense Department granted Bigelow and her screenwriter Mark Boal access to a “planner, Operator and Commander of SEAL Team Six,” the special forces unit that killed the world's most famous and most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden, in a daring covert operation inside Pakistan on May 1, 2011. Read more ..


Afganistan on Edge

Rogue Afghan Insurgent Group Enters Political Scene

May 22nd 2012

Afghanistan Fighters

 As the Afghan government struggles to reach a negotiated peace settlement with insurgents while international troops prepare to withdraw, a previously marginal militant group has answered with a resounding "no.”

Until recently, little was heard of the Mullah Dadullah Front, an extremist militant group that operates mainly out of southern Afghanistan. But that has changed with the group claiming responsibility for the assassination of a key negotiator for the High Peace Council, the government's main avenue for peace talks, and for sending death threats to Kabul lawmakers. The front takes the name of a former radical Taliban commander who was killed in a U.S-led attack in Helmand Province in 2007, and Afghan intelligence officials have described the group as a Taliban faction.

Despite having vowed to target members of the High Peace Council, the Taliban was quick to distance itself from the recent assassination and has publicly stated that it is not affiliated with the Mullah Dadullah Front. Mohammad Yasin Zia, deputy chief of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence body, says that although details about the group are sketchy its recent actions show the group's clear opposition to peace talks and to an extended American military presence in the country. Read more ..


The Weapon's Edge

Israeli Military Uses Biomimicry to Design Butterfly Drone

May 22nd 2012

Butterfly 01

Biomimicry is one of the smartest contemporary approaches to design, so it was inevitable that Israeli researchers would apply this science to their military designs. Like the Iranian home that mimics a snail’s form in order to stay cool and a bottle inspired by the Namib desert beetle that can harvest water in one of the driest places on earth, Israel Aerospace Industries’ (AIA) latest insect drone, their smallest to date at only 20 grams, takes its intelligence, form and other properties from one of nature’s finest creatures: the butterfly.

An indoor butterfly

The Butterfly drone can perform tricks that have never before been achieved by a surveillance device. It can fly indoors, thereby enabling covert information gathering during meetings inside buildings, at train stations and other public buildings as well as outdoors, and it is equipped with a tiny 0.15 gram camera that takes color photographs. Read more ..


The Defense Edge

NATO Unveils 'Working' European Missile Shield At Chicago Summit

May 22nd 2012

NATO meeting

NATO has announced that its long-planned European missile shield is up and running, with a basic capability to shoot down incoming missiles. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen made the announcement at the end of the first day of the NATO summit in Chicago.

Rasmussen said the shield's "interim capability" stage is the first step in the goal of providing full coverage and protection for all NATO Europe populations, territory, and forces from threats outside the Euro-Atlantic area by 2022. Russia has vociferously opposed the missile shield, calling it a national-security threat despite U.S. insistence it is meant to defend against missiles from Iran or other rogue states. With the missile-shield announcement, leaders crossed off one of their three stated priorities for the two-day meeting. The other two include a plan to keep the military alliance strong and relevant in the 21st century and, more immediately, agreeing how NATO will help Afghanistan attain peace and stability after combat operations end in 2014. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

2012 Olympics Remain Counterterrorism a Top Priority in London

May 21st 2012

The city of London is preparing to host one of the largest turnouts of foreign visitors in its history as the 2012 Olympics fast approaches. The London Olympic Games opening ceremony will be held on July 27, 2012, with the closing celebration scheduled for August 12, 2012.

The Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games in London assured participants and visitors that the military and police anti-terror operations won’t interfere with the games, and that all "foreign tourists would be welcomed with open arms." But behind the scenes United Kingdom police, security and military commanders are making certain that terrorists or criminals don't take advantage of the British extending the red carpet to visitors.

The Chairman, Lord Coe, also promised that all the recent declarations on troops and military deployments would be executed in a proportional as well as balanced manner. “There has to be proportionality here. You don`t want people coming to London thinking they`ve walked into a siege city, being filmed every 20 paces they take and being bundled off pavements,” said Coe.“There is no appetite for risk. Everybody knows this is a complex, complicated world and this is a big global city. But we also want people to come here and leave feeling they've had an extraordinary time and want to come back,” he stated.  Read more ..


Edge of Terrorism

Scores of Yemeni Soldiers Killed in Bomb Attack

May 21st 2012

Destroyed terrorist vehicle

 Yemeni officials said a suicide bomber has killed at least 96 soldiers and wounded more than 200 during a military parade rehearsal in the capital Sana'a. Officials said the bomber was dressed in a military uniform and detonated his explosives while hundreds of soldiers were around him. Yemen's defense minister was at Monday's rehearsal but was unharmed.

The soldiers were preparing for a parade on Tuesday to mark the unification of Yemen's north and south. Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was due to attend the parade. Reports by Yemen's state television showed dozens of soldiers sprawled on the ground. At a nearby military hospital, doctors worked to save badly wounded soldiers.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. But it coincides with a U.S.-backed Yemeni government offensive against al-Qaida militants who seized parts of the country's south last year as it was engulfed in a popular uprising against then-president Ali Abdullah Saleh. Mr. Hadi, who succeeded Mr. Saleh in February, has vowed to fight the growing presence of the terrorist network's regional affiliate, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. Read more ..


Peru on Edge

Indigenous Peoples of Peru Harrowed by 'Shining Path' Narcoterrorists

May 21st 2012

Machiguenga people

One of the oldest indigenous communities of Peru, which predates the Conquest, now finds itself between the hammer of the Peruvian government and the anvil of remnants of Sendero Luminoso – the ‘Shining Path’ Maoist communists who plagued the Andean republic for decades. The Machiguenga people of the mid-altitude forested slopes of the Andes and the Amazon Basin now appear to be suffering a reprise of a conflict that was initiated by Sendero in 1980. Sendero was well-known for its brutal tactics, which included the murder of uncooperative peasants.

The Peruvian government, under President Alberto Fujimori, was largely successful in combating the Maoist group but at the cost of numerous human rights violations and disappearances of persons associated with Sendero. The group’s leader, Abimael Guzmán, was captured in 1992, even while armed encounters with government forces continue sporadically. Between 1980 and 2000, some 70,000 Peruvians perished or disappeared as a result of the conflict.

The damage caused by the armed conflict near Cusco, in the province of La Convención, has been varied. These included casualties on the part of the army and police, as well as innocent civilians. The decades-long conflict, which continues sporadically, has meant that Peru has had a revolving door of ministers with portfolios for Defense and Internal Affairs. Home-made bombs and mines continue to claim lives. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Troops Kill 16 People in Hama

May 20th 2012

Bombing in Syria Mar 2012

A Syrian rights group says security forces have attacked a rebellious town in the country's central province of Hama, killing 16 people including children. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government artillery and gunfire hit the town of Souran on Sunday. There was no independent confirmation of the casualties.

Elsewhere, a roadside bomb exploded near a team of U.N. officials and journalists who were touring the Douma suburb of Damascus. No one was hurt by the blast, which happened about 150 meters away from the group that included visiting U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous and the head of U.N. observers in Syria, Maj. Gen. Robert Mood. A Syrian security official said gunmen had been active in Douma prior to the explosion, attacking and wounding about 30 security personnel. Recent fighting between government and rebel forces in the district has left its streets largely deserted. Douma has been been a major center of the 14-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year rule. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Obama Campaign Accused of Leaking Intel Regarding Underwear Bomb

May 19th 2012

Obama Pentagon

An alleged intelligence leak regarding a covert operation that thwarted an "underwear bomb" plot last week is now creating distrust and ill feelings within the U.S. intelligence community and has led to increased talk about intelligence leaks at the highest levels of government, according to terrorism experts on Friday.

Former Central Intelligence Agency officers are openly blaming President Barack Obama, his administration, and possibly his campaign committee for undermining national security and compromising the British domestic and foreign intelligence agencies, MI5 and MI6, for political reasons,  according to a U.S. counterterrorism source who  requested anonymity.

"When presidents are in trouble because of their failing domestic agenda, they attempt to look presidential by getting involved in military or intelligence operations. And Obama has taken that to a whole new level," said the source. During an appearance on Fox New Channel, FNC's regular intelligence analyst Mike Scheur, a former head of the CIA's Bin Laden unit under George W. Bush, said the leaking of British involvement was "despicable and would make a repeat of the operation [that thwarted an attack] difficult." Read more ..


The Edge of Defense

House Adds East Coast Missile Shield Site in $643 Billion Defense Bill

May 19th 2012

Misselle Launch with Jets

On May 18th the House approved a sweeping defense authorization bill for 2013 that calls for the construction of an East Coast missile defense system in the United States by the end of 2015. The bill obligates $100 million next year to plan for the site, but the project would cost billions of dollars in later years that has yet to be funded. The language was derided by a House Democrat as an "East Coast Star Wars fantasy base" but nonetheless escaped further scrutiny during floor debate Wednesday and Thursday on amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

By afternoon, members approved the bill in a 299-120 vote after approving dozens of amendments, some after fierce debate that revealed disagreements on issues such as detainee policy, nuclear cooperation with Russia and the speed of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Seventy-seven Democrats support the bill, while 16 Republicans opposed it. The NDAA authorizes $643 billion in spending for the Department of Defense and overseas contingency operations, $8 billion above the spending caps in last year's Budget Control Act (BCA) and $3.7 billion higher than President Obama's request. The House authorization level will lead to a showdown with the Senate, which is marking up the authorization bill in committee next week, because the Democratic-led Senate is expected authorize funding roughly at the President's level. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Attacks Continue to Roar as Mass Protests Spread

May 18th 2012

Machine Gun Bunker

Syrian government troops pounded the rebel stronghold, Rastan, and parts of the flashpoint city, Homs, Friday, amid widespread anti-government protests across the country. Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations observer forces urged both the government and the opposition to engage in dialogue to end the violence. Witnesses say Syrian security forces fired tear-gas and live rounds to break up a student protest in Aleppo Friday. The demonstration was billed as the largest of its kind in Syria's northern commercial hub since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

The protests come after Syrian security forces disrupted a student demonstration in Aleppo on Thursday. Video taken from a U.N. vehicle in Aleppo Thursday showed security forces beating student protesters. On Friday, Syrian state television showed an empty boulevard in front of Aleppo University's medical college, saying there were “no significant demonstrations.” But video posted by opposition groups on the Internet showed large crowds gathering in the streets. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran's Oil is Marooned aboard Tankers Seeking Buyers

May 18th 2012

Iranian oil port

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been playing coy with the world’s oil markets, having been routinely switching off satellite tracking systems on oil tankers for more than a month. Iran began using the tactic in April 2012, which affects about one quarter of its fleet, according to the International Energy Agency. Currently, only 1 tanker out of 38 is now complying with satellite tracking. While it violates international maritime law, the practice serves to cloak the positions of the huge ships as they seek ports and buyers willing to violate sanctions on Iran. Without the tracking, the efficacy of oil sanctions on Iran is difficult to determine. Currently, Iran is also hobbled by sanctions on its bank transactions.

Dependent on petroleum for the bulk of its export income and government spending, Iran is in an increasingly perilous situation as it faces tightening restrictions imposed by the West. With its revenues sagging, Iran now faces a glut of oil that is being stored in land-based depots, and on its vessels at sea.

Sanctions have cut off Iranian shippers’ access to maritime insurance, mostly underwritten in Europe, and making Iran ever more dependent on its own fleet of 39 tankers, including 25 super-tankers, according to the IEA. After being pressured by the United States, Lloyd’s Register said last month that it is closing its office in Iran and stop certifying the safety of Iranian ships. Their certification is needed by ships seeking entry at most of the world’s ports. This steps up the pressure on Iran, which was already facing the end of its relationship with Norway’s Det Norske Veritas, another ship classification organization. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Jihadis: Real and Exaggerated

May 18th 2012

Click to select Image

On May 12 a video posted to YouTube purporting to be from the Palestinian branch of the Syrian jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra (The Victory Front; JN) claimed responsibility for the May 9 twin car bombings near a security complex in Damascus that killed more than fifty-five individuals and wounded hundreds. And, while JN appears to be a genuine extremist group, it is not clear whether it was responsible for either the attack or the video. The video raises disturbing questions about the Assad regime's possible manipulation of jihadists based on its past relationships with these groups.

Jabhat al-Nusra

The terror outfit Jabhat al-Nusra first trumpeted its existence on January 24, 2012, when it released a video through its media outlet al-Manarah al-Bayda (the White Minaret). The release directly to online global jihadi forums suggested that they were a legitimate group, which was later confirmed when a few top jihadi ideologues backed JN activities. Since January, JN has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Israel's New National Unity Government and the Iran Question

May 18th 2012

Binyamin Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz

Since the shock announcement last week of the formation of a national unity government in Israel, there has been much speculation over what caused Kadima Party leader Shaul Mofaz to join forces with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's governing Likud Party. The coalition government was formed just a few days after new elections were announced for September. Now, in light of the new coalition, elections have been put off to 2013.

Before joining the Netanyahu's government, Mofaz, a former IDF chief of staff and Defense Minister, has used his time in the opposition to attack Netanyahu's policies in the harshest of terms, going as far as to brand him a "liar" recently (during their joint press conference to announce the new coalition, Mofaz said the two had put the issue "behind them"). 

By joining the unity government so soon after repeatedly vowing not to do so, Mofaz, who replaced Tzippi Livni as head of Kadima, has damaged his credibility for the present time at least, leading many to ask what gains Mofaz saw in the move. Some political analysts say Mofaz's poor elections prospects - Kadima under his leadership dropped to just eight projected Knesset seats in recent polls - pushed him into Netanyahu's arms. According to this argument, elections in September would have resulted in the collapse of Mofaz and the Kadima Party as relevant political forces. Read more ..


Korea on Edge

N. Korea Reportedly Resumes Work on Reactor

May 17th 2012

NK Military Parade Apr 2012

New satellite images show North Korea has resumed construction on a new nuclear reactor, despite international criticism. The U.S.-Korea Institute, operated by Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), says images taken by a commercial satellite on April 30 show Pyongyang has made progress on a light water reactor at its main nuclear complex at Yongbyon.

North Korea says the reactor is intended to generate electricity, but in a blog post on its website, the institute says the reactor clearly indicates Pyongyang's intention "to move forward" on expanding its nuclear weapons stockpile.

Pyongyang first disclosed construction of the new reactor to a group of visiting U.S. scientists in 2010. It had made significant progress by late 2010, when work was halted. SAIS says the work may have stopped in part because of the death of longtime leader Kim Jong Il. The research institute's findings could increase concerns that the North will conduct a third nuclear test. Read more ..


The Edge of Narco-Terrorism

Narco-Submarines Pose a Growing Threat to National Security

May 17th 2012

Narco sub exhibit at Naval Air Station Key West
Narco-sub display at Naval Air Station, Key West FL.

After a two-year manhunt, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency last week arrested Colombian drug kingpin Javier Antonio Calle Serna, a senior leader of Los Rastrojos, one of the country's most formidable drug-trafficking organizations. After being indicted last summer by the Eastern District of New York, Serna reportedly felt so squeezed by the agency and rival drug dealers that he began negotiating for his surrender.

His arrest is by all accounts good news, especially due to Los Rastrojos alleged connections to Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Mexico's most wanted man and perhaps the world's most notorious drug lord. Yet Serna's capture is also a reminder of one of the growing challenges in the seemingly never-ending war on drugs: combating narco subs. Serna headed an organization well known for its ability to rapidly build and use roughly 50-foot-long fiberglass vessels, which float just above the waterline, to surreptitiously smuggle drugs across the globe. Read more ..



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