Tag Archives: Terrorism
Chris Carroll, Start and Stripes
Conservatives pushed back Thursday against President Barack Obama’s contention that the United States can stabilize Iraq without committing U.S. troops to a ground combat role in the country.
In a speech to the nation Wednesday night, Obama outlined a strategy that called for increased U.S. air attacks in support of Iraqi forces, coupled with increased training of the Iraqi military. The president said 475 additional troops would be sent to support the more than 1,000 others already on the ground in noncombat roles.
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., dismissed what he called Obama “minimalist” plan to the defeat Islamic State insurgents with the focus on air power. McKeon predicted that even in an advisory role, U.S. troops would likely need to do more, including fighting alongside Iraqi units, helping them with logistics and communications, and aiding in holding ground taken from the Islamic State, group also known by the acronyms ISIL and ISIS.
“American boots will be standing on sand. Americans will be shot at, and they will be shooting back,” McKeon said in prepared remarks to an audience at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank. “There’s simply no other way to do this.”
He noted that U.S. reliance on airpower alone in the NATO campaign against the late Moammar Gadhafi had failed to bring stability once the Libyan leader was gone.
“We tried that in Libya, and it hasn’t worked,” he said.
By Amber Corrin, Federal Times
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to struggle with prioritizing its strategies, despite having created systems for integrating analytic and intelligence activities, said a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). DHS’ existing intelligence framework is not effective, said the report, and fails to create “strategic departmental intelligence priorities” that would guide annual planning decisions. This has resulted in managers in DHS’ Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) having difficulties developing strategic and tactical priorities for specific operations, the report found. The GAO report did say that the efforts to integrate analysis within DHS offices has helped to a degree, as they have allowed intelligence officials to coordinate component activities and prevent any duplication of implementation efforts or unnecessary overlap. I&A continues to have difficulties recruiting and hiring analysts, however, and has not made progress in using existing mechanisms to improve its workforce difficulties. The report noted that the mechanisms will help I&A evaluate whether its efforts are succeeding at achieving goals such as improving recruiting and hiring, improving morale, and reducing turnover. DHS agreed with the recommendations the GAO made for addressing these issues.
Fears for the fate of more than 200 Nigerian girls turned even more nightmarish Monday when the leader of the Islamist group that kidnapped them announced plans to sell them.
“I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said in a video first obtained by Agence France-Presse.
“There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women,” he continued, according to a CNN translation from the local Hausa language.
Boko Haram means “Western education is sin.” In his nearly hourlong, rambling video, Shekau repeatedly called for Western education to end.
“Girls, you should go and get married,” he said.
The outrageous threat means the girls’ parents worst fears could be realized. Parents have been avoiding speaking to the media for fear their daughters may be singled out for reprisals.
“Wherever these girls are, we’ll get them out,” Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan vowed Sunday.
Terrorists Given ‘Full Sight’ of Spy Methods by Snowden Leak, Warns Counter-Terrorism Official (Telegraph)
By Tom Whitehead
Stephen Phipson of the British Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT) says that the leaks by National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden have given terrorists knowledge of government surveillance techniques–information he says they have used to alter their communications methods. Phipson added that terrorists have substantially reduced their use of traditional communication methods that can be monitored by mass surveillance methods in aftermath of the leaks. “The leaks we have seen in the press have made the work of the OSCT, intelligence agencies and other apparatus of government much, much, much more difficult,” Phipson said at a recent counterterrorism conference. In the same talk, Phipson called Syria the “front line of terrorism” and said that fighters returning from the conflict in that country pose as much of a threat to the U.K. as extremists from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The maniacal Boko Haram is alive and, unfortunately, well…
As if to ridicule the Nigerian government’s claims that it has security in the north under control and that it is winning the war, Boko Haram fighters have been on a rampage in Borno state over the past week. And while their Feb. 18 assault on the country home of Major General Tukur Buratai, Commander of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta was meant as an insult, the following day the group carried out another high-profile attack on the town of Bama.
At approximately 4 a.m. on Feb. 19, Boko Haram gunmen armed with heavy weapons and explosives stormed the town. Residents fled the violence and destruction which, according to a Nigerian senator, lasted for seven hours. At least 98 people have been killed in the attack, Reuters reported, and many buildings, including the palace of the Emir of Bama, were burned to the ground.
According to Borno state’s chief of police Lawal Tanko, Boko Haram fighters were finally chased off when the air force was scrambled jets from Maiduguri, resulting in heavy losses for the insurgents as they fled. This is reminiscent of Boko Haram’s previous attack on Bama in December 2013, when the group attacked a base belonging to the 202 Tank Battalion, killing an unknown number of soldiers as well as their families who lived with them at the barracks.
In my estimation, this can only mean that the threat information received by the Russians in especially daunting. –AA
by Stephen Collinson with the American Foreign Press
Washington — Russia has balked at sharing specific information on terror threats made against the Sochi Olympics with Washington, a US official said amid mounting fears over security at the Games.
The Obama administration meanwhile publicly stopped short of expressing full confidence in a massive Russian security operation ahead of the sporting spectacular opening next month in the Black Sea resort and nearby mountains.
Signs of increasing US concern followed a telephone discussion on security at the Sochi Olympics between Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
A senior US official told AFP on condition of anonymity that Russia “has not been forthcoming in sharing specific threat information.”
Extremist insurgents based in North Caucasus republics such as Dagestan who are seeking their own independent state have vowed to disrupt the Sochi Games in an effort to undermine Putin.
Washington, which has sophisticated intelligence and counterterrorism capabilities that have been deployed in previous Olympics, has offered Russia security assistance as it places a ring of steel around the host city and venues shortly to welcome thousands of athletes and spectators.
White House spokesman Jay Carney admitted earlier that there was “concern” in Washington about an uptick in reporting of threats by Islamic extremists relating to the Sochi Games.
He said the United States would send diplomatic security and FBI agents who would liaise with Russian security officials to protect American athletes and spectators.
But he did not take several opportunities offered by journalists to express full confidence in Russia’s preparations.
“I wouldn’t be qualified or wouldn’t want to venture to assess overall,” Carney said.
“These kinds of major events around the world obviously present security challenges,” he said, without confirming whether Russia had accepted US offers of help.
“The president spoke with President Putin about this. We have offered any assistance that they might want to avail themselves of.”
At the State Department, deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf deflected a query as to whether the United States had full confidence in the Russian effort, but added that Washington knew Moscow was “committed to doing everything they can in terms of security.”
The careful public tone adopted by the administration could signal a desire to avoid offending or antagonizing Russia in the run-up to the Games while concerns are expressed privately with top Russian officials.
The Games are seen as hugely important to Putin’s personal prestige and to his project of restoring stability and honor to Russia as it emerges from the post-Cold War period that saw the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Ties between Moscow and Washington are currently as tense as they have been for many years, with the case of fugitive US intelligence leader Edward Snowden — granted temporary asylum by Russia — and the Kremlin’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, fraying tempers.
The call between Putin and Obama came amid signs of subtle but rising pressure on Russia over securing the Games from Washington.
On Monday, the Pentagon said it was ready to deploy air and naval assets — including two ships — to help secure the Olympics, which begin on February 7.
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had already offered American support during a January 4 phone call with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.
Security fears were exacerbated by two suicide bombings in the southern city of Volgograd last month — Russia’s deadliest in three years — that killed 34 people.
The State Department has warned Americans headed to Sochi to be vigilant.
On Sunday, several prominent US lawmakers raised new concerns about Russia’s security efforts to protect the Games, despite Moscow’s effort to encircle the host city in a ring of steel.
Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said there had been good cooperation between Russian authorities and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
But “it could be a lot better,” he told ABC News in an interview from Moscow.
Another Republican lawmaker, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, said US officials were not getting all the information they needed to protect athletes at the Games.
“What we’re finding is they aren’t giving us the full story about what are the threat streams, who do we need to worry about,” he said.
Terror Chief Dubbed Russia’s Osama Bin Laden ‘Will Target Britons at Olympics’ Daily Mail (United Kingdom)
More ominous news for the coming Olympics. –AA
A secret intelligence report drawn up by Canadian counterterrorism agencies and shared with British intelligence warns that Doku Umarov, the leader of the Chechen jihadist group Imarat Kavkaz (IK), poses the greatest terror threat for next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Compiled by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the report states that Umarov–who is blamed for the two recent suicide bombings in Volgograd, Russia–has called for attacks on the “satanic games” and notes that the warlord “appears to have consolidated his leadership” over the IK. The extent to which the IK cells will follow his lead is not known, however, as many IK commanders who have been eliminated in Russia’s counterterrorism efforts have been replaced with younger, less experienced fighters. The report notes that British athletes and spectators will be targeted by Umarov at the Games. MI6, British intelligence has begun working closely with Russia’s security service to counter the threat to British citizens.
This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Islamists will stop at nothing, and Chechen Islamists are especially brutal, having massacred 385 innocents in Beslan.–AA
(CNN) — Another deadly blast has struck the southern Russian city of Volgograd, killing at least 14 people and further highlighting Russia’s security challenges as it readies to host the Winter Olympics in less than six weeks.
Like Sunday’s attack, the blast Monday was a terrorist act, Vladmir Markin, a spokesman for the country’s federal investigation agency, told the state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
No one claimed responsibility for the explosions. But they come several months after the leader of a Chechen separatist group pledged violence to disrupt the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Political Correctness hits the Courtroom: Apparently comparing jihadists to savages is not protected under the First Amendment now. Who’d have thought that the Court would want to protect the sensibilities of jihadists? –AA
A federal judge rejected a pro-Israel group’s assertion that its free speech rights were violated when the MBTA turned down a subway advertisement on the grounds that the ad was “demeaning or disparaging.”
The ad is paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a New York organization that seeks to combat the spread of Islam in the United States. With bold, all-capital-letter text placed against a stark black background, the ad reads: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel; defeat Jihad.”
Officials with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority rejected the ad in November on the basis that it violated the agency’s advertising guidelines.
On Friday, US District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton sided with the state’s transportation authority, saying in the ruling that “it was plausible for the defendants to conclude that the . . . pro-Israel advertisement demeans or disparages Muslims or Palestinians.”