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September 26, 2007

Al-Qaeda’s European Recruiting Drive

Because of the relative ease with which certain Europeans can enter the US, they make highly desirable al-Qaeda recruits, reports Director of National Intelligence McConnell. Those willing to answer the call are sent to terrorist training camps in Pakistan, where they receive training in how to build bombs out of commercially available substances.

While a seemingly sound strategy designed to combat perceived racial bias in screening practices, evidence recently captured in the US suggests that al-Qaeda’s adoption of a Caucasian army may very well backfire.

September 24, 2007

US, Iran Not Headed For War

Iran and the United States are not headed toward war. So says Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, now in New York City ahead of his annual speech at the United Nations.

"It's wrong to think that Iran and the U.S. are walking toward war. Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing."

"Walking toward war"? No. He is correct there.

But only the willfully blind fail to acknowledge that Iran and the United States are not already at war, with Iran engaging its usual proxies in its execution in Iraq.

And it is with great concern that we observe many within the Iraqi government demanding with Iran the release of a detained Quds Force commander.

The Iranian opposition group NCRI states that Brig. Gen. Mahmoud Farhadi, said to be the Quds Force commander detained in a hotel raid last week, is a senior Quds Force intelligence officer.

Farhadi currently is the Deputy Commander and senior intelligence officer of Quds Force's Zafar Tactical Base in Karmanshah. The main base is called Ramadan which has four tactical bases along the 1,200 kilometers border with Iraq. Zafar is located in the western city of Karmanshah overseeing the entire Quds Forces' operations in the eastern and central Iraq.

Local sources confirmed that a delegation from Iran was in Iraqi Kurdistan presumably for singing a few contracts with the Kurdish officials to facilitate cross border trading between the two neighbors.

It is on the grounds of the Quds Force commander's economic mission that both Iran and Iraqi officials demand his release. And while even NCRI's local sources also stated that this was his mission, it is through trade routes and Ramadan and other religious pilgrimages that Iran successfully inserts its trained operatives and delivers weapons shipments to its supported Iraqi groups, facilitating attacks on American troops.

Iran and the United States are already at war. Iran has determined this since its 1979 revolution. That the United States largely refuses to acknowledge this plays into Ahmadinejad's attempts to supply quotes deceptively suggesting a reasonable nature.

Little could be farther from the truth.

Our men in Iraq are not dead by Iranian hands and weapons, finance, strategy and training because we are at peace. We did not declare it nor seek it, but at war we most certainly are.

There will one day be a reckoning for the regime, whose message Ahmadinejad delivers directly to Americans while in New York this week. Americans should listen to this message with the alert awareness that our own desire to avoid war does not and can not change the realities on the ground.

It could not in 1983 after the Iranian sponsored bombing of the US Marine Barracks in Beirut, and it cannot now with the Iranian-sponsored killing of American troops on the ground in Iraq.

September 21, 2007

American Policy of Hostility?

This is interesting, to say the least.

How can our own political leaders blast our actions as a "policy of hostility" when that is clearly the manner in which al-Qaeda operates? We are not baking young boys and serving them as lunch to their families to gain such cooperation through community-wide intimidation. We are not executing local tribal leaders and terrorizing entire towns into submission. Instead, we are fighting with Iraqis against those who are, freeing them of the yoke of al-Qaeda's violent intimidation.

Who says we are failing because of the American "policy of hostility" in Iraq, you might wonder.

The answer is here.

Godspeed, Sgt. Jeffers - Young Patriot Lost in Iraq

It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Sgt. Eddie Jeffers, US Army. Sgt. Jeffers died in an accidental vehicle rollover in Ramadi Wednesday. Sgt. Jeffers' friend Frank Salvato reflects on The Death of a Soldier...The Life of a Patriot.

Patriotism, heroism, is providing the protection so that others can freely voice dissent and participate in politics. A patriot takes up the banner of devotion to our country dedicating himself to the principles and ideology that make up its foundation. A hero has the courage to defend those principles, that ideology, so that others may enjoy liberty.

At 7am on September 19, 2007 in Ramadi, Iraq, on a sweltering Iraqi summer day, a good friend whom I knew but never met, a true American patriot and a hero died. US Army Sergeant Eddie Jeffers died in the service of our country, fighting the enemy on Iraqi soil so that we don’t have to fight them on ours. He died protecting the innocent among the Iraqis so that they might benefit from the same principles and ideology that afford us the freedom to even consider debating the legitimacy of the conflict in which he fought.

Sgt. Jeffers challenged America with Hope Rides Alone.

America has lost its will to fight. It has lost its will to defend what is right and just in the world. The crazy thing of it all is that the American people have not even been asked to sacrifice a single thing. It’s not like World War II, where people rationed food and turned in cars to be made into metal for tanks. The American people have not been asked to sacrifice anything. Unless you are in the military or the family member of a servicemember, its life as usual...the war doesn't affect you.

But it affects us. And when it is over and the troops come home and they try to piece together what's left of them after their service...where will the detractors be then? Where will the Cindy Sheehans be to comfort and talk to soldiers and help them sort out the last couple years of their lives, most of which have been spent dodging death and wading through the deaths of their friends? They will be where they always are, somewhere far away, where the horrors of the world can't touch them. Somewhere where they can complain about things they will never experience in their lifetime; things that the young men and women of America have willingly taken upon their shoulders.

We are the hope of the Iraqi people. They want what everyone else wants in life: safety, security, somewhere to call home. They want a country that is safe to raise their children in. Not a place where their children will be abducted, raped and murdered if they do not comply with the terrorists demands. They want to live on, rebuild and prosper. And America has given them the opportunity, but only if we stay true to the cause and see it to its end. But the country must unite in this endeavor...we cannot place the burden on our military alone. We must all stand up and fight, whether in uniform or not. And supporting us is more than sticking yellow ribbon stickers on your cars. It's supporting our President, our troops and our cause.

Right now, the burden is all on the American soldiers. Right now, hope rides alone. But it can change, it must change. Because there is only failure and darkness ahead for us as a country, as a people, if it doesn't.

His challenge stands in his absence. Godspeed, Sgt. Jeffers. We stand in your debt.

Sgt. Jeffers' family asks that, should you be moved to do so, a donation in his name to the Fisher House would be appreciated. Because, like Fisher House, "Eddie always took care of his men."

September 19, 2007

Israel Declares Gaza 'Hostile Territory'

The government of Israel has officially declared Gaza "hostile territory."

Following the cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister's Office issued a communiqué saying: "Hamas is a terrorist organization that has taken control of the Gaza Strip and turned it into hostile territory. This organization engages in hostile activity against the State of Israel and its citizens and bears responsibility for this activity.

"In light of the foregoing, it has been decided to adopt the recommendations that have been presented by the security establishment, including the continuation of military and counterterrorist operations against the terrorist organizations. Additional sanctions will be placed on the Hamas regime to restrict the passage of various goods to the Gaza Strip and to reduce the supply of fuel and electricity.

"Restrictions will also be placed on the movement of people to and from the Gaza Strip. The sanctions will be enacted following a legal examination, while taking into account both the humanitarian aspects relevant to the Gaza Strip and the intention to avoid a humanitarian crisis."

While international objections are already seeping, it is important to keep the context that Hamas has always considered Israel "hostile territory." In fact, Israel is territory Hamas (et al) lays claim to. The objections are gratuitous.

At The Tank, J. Peter Pham nails it.

While some like the United Nations official quoted in the article will argue that Israel is engaging in "collective punishment", the Jewish state is doing nothing more than what any other nation at war does with a declared enemy. Did the Allies in World War II feel themselves bound to make sure that Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan had an adequate supplies of petroleum? The object of a blockade, after all, is to degrade the enemy's ability to continue fighting effectively. As long as shipments of basic foodstuffs and medicine for use by non-combatants are allowed past a blockade—after due inspection, if necessary, to prevent the smuggling of contraband—a country at war, unlike a former spouse paying alimony, is hardly obliged to keep a declared enemy in the style to which he or she has become accustomed.

Punting on Propaganda

Last week in a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Sen. Joe Lieberman pressed senior U.S. intelligence officials on their efforts, if any, to counter the dissemination of radical Islamic ideology both here and abroad.

  • FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III testified that the Bureau has no counter propaganda effort of note, save for its Muslim-American outreach program that "addresses" radical Islam.
  • DHS Secretary Chertoff testified that there was no organization under his control that participated in the war of ideas.
  • The head of the National Counterterrorism Center said that one of the "four pillars" of the U.S. war strategy is the "war of ideas," but that there was no office that dealt with these issues in the US.

Smith-Mundt - the law that protects US citizens against propaganda we used to aim at our adversaries – has so far proven to be an insurmountable challenge to any effort to defeat Jihadist propaganda. That those leading the fight against radical Islam still cling to the idea that the audience for information can be divided by geography is a clear sign that al-Qaeda and its ilk are destined to win the information war.

Another Anti-Syrian MP Assassinated in Lebanon

Via Publius Pundit, reports that another anti-Syrian lawmaker has been assassinated in a Christian suburb of Beirut. Christian MP Antoine Ghanem, 64, was killed in a car bomb that killed 5 others and wounded 20 others.

The BBC has initial images and Reuters a timeline of attacks in Lebanon on anti-Syrian figures.

The Lebanese Cedar Revolution asked of Syria, "Who Is Next?" Now we know.

Rest in peace, Antoine Ghanem. And Godspeed, Lebanon.

Deprogramming Jihidis In Iraq

Officially termed "religious enlightenment," it is in practice parallel to cult deprogramming in the United States. And, among those jihadist detainees not deemed "irreconcilables," it is working in Iraq. From the Washington Post's U.S. Working to Reshape Iraqi Detainees:

The U.S. military has introduced "religious enlightenment" and other education programs for Iraqi detainees, some of whom are as young as 11, Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, the commander of U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, said yesterday.

The religious courses are led by Muslim clerics who "teach out of a moderate doctrine," Stone said, according to the transcript of a conference call he held from Baghdad with a group of defense bloggers. Such schooling "tears apart" the arguments of al-Qaeda, such as "Let's kill innocents," and helps to "bring some of the edge off" the detainees, he said.

As a result of the increased U.S. troop presence in Iraq this year, the number of Iraqis in U.S. detention has swelled from about 10,000 last year to more than 25,000. The effort to reshape attitudes among the growing detainee population is aimed at addressing a problem that has vexed U.S. troops in Iraq for the past four years: Military detention facilities have served as breeding grounds for extremist views, transforming some prisoners into hard-core insurgents, according to military analysts.

Stone said such efforts, aimed mainly at Iraqis who have been held for more than a year, are intended to "bend them back to our will" and are part of waging war in what he called "the battlefield of the mind." Most of the younger detainees are held in a facility that the military calls the "House of Wisdom."

There was a blogger conference call with General Stone Monday. We will provide a link to the transcript once it becomes available.

UPDATE: Transcript - Bloggers' Roundtable With Gen. Douglas M. Stone

HLF Trial Closing Arguments Begin

The Investigative Project on Terrorism reports that 'Deception' dominates the prosecution's closing arguments in the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas.

Jonas reminded jurors that investigators found a security manual with instructions how to avoid detection at one of the defendant's offices and that HLF officers used the word "Samah" rather than HAMAS in their conversations. In 2000, they had their office swept for bugs.

"Is this what a real charity would do?" Jonas asked repeatedly.

He pointed to Baker's 2002 sworn declaration in which he claimed to "reject and abhor Hamas, its goals and its methods" as part of a civil suit. But Baker also published an ode to Hamas in the Arabic publication Ila Filastin. "Hayzum (Gabriel's horse) Hamas has arrived," it concludes, "and we will not accept any other than Hamas." The poem was followed by a solicitation for donations to the Occupied Land Fund, HLF's original name.

Baker, Ghassan Elashi, Mohammad El-Mezain, Mufid Abdulqader and Abdulrahman Odeh are charged in a 36-count indictment with providing material support to HAMAS. Closing arguments continue today after six weeks of the trial. Prosecutors say they funneled more than $12 million to the Specially Designated Terrorist group, largely through charity organizations in the West Bank and Gaza called zakat committees.

Jonas referred jurors to exhibits showing various zakat committees and the hundreds of thousands of dollars HLF sent to each of them.

Steve Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism remains the best, most detailed source for coverage of the HLF trial, and it is nice to see an IPT site finally up and running. The web presence is long-overdue and is an immense public resource. You should spend a few minutes and give it a whirl. You'll be back regularly.

Iran's Proxy War Against America

My friend Thomas Joscelyn has completed his latest project and it is well worth your time to download and read Iran's Proxy War Against America, a report he has written for The Claremont Institute. The 100-page PDF version here and a low-resolution version is also available at the site here.

September 18, 2007

The Weekend Past

As noted in Mike's post, ThreatsWatch made a trip to our nations capital this past weekend. There were many reasons for the trip, primarily meetings with men and women who have advised us along the way and for whom we are going to continue to look to over the coming months as we launch the Center for Threat Awareness. Good fortune would have it that all this coincided with Steve's invitation to meet with President Bush, and with A.N.S.W.E.R.'s (Act Now To Stop War and End Racism) march from the White House to the Capitol building, which would be followed by a "Die In".

While the majority of our stay in DC was in conversation, we were available and chose to join the Gathering of Eagles, Victory Caucus and many others who were in town to counter the A.N.S.W.E.R. crowd. Steve and I walked Pennsylvania Avenue after meeting with blogger and longtime friend of ThreatsWatch, Tom the Redhunter, to the Capitol and waited out the better late than never arrival of the marchers.

Below are some of the images of the weekend's events:

Steve with the President on Friday morning (Photograph by Joyce N. Boghosian.)

President Bush and Steve Schippert

Gathering of Eagles Waiting

Now Saturday (above), Pennsylvania Avenue looking back toward the White House. While the Eagles wait at the Navy Memorial, the A.N.S.W.E.R. folks haven't begun to march yet, so we continue on to the Capitol Building - below.

The Capitol Awaits

The police were on hand, while tourist were the primary occupants of the lawn.

Capitol Building

Capitol Lawn

And then... we caught wind of their impending arrival.

Wiff

Almost There

And so they continued to arrive for a short bit - until they'd packed in nicely near the wall at the top of the lawn.

We're Here...

The SDS were there.

SDS

SDS

SDS

Click the Play button to hear the chant...

And after some brief cheers - it was time for a break and some organizing.

Now What?

Some chose not to organize and instead they sought recreation...

Puff, Puff, Pass, Puff Puff, Pass

As detailed here:

Stop Holding So Long...

Now organized and fully recreated - the die-in began.

Dead, No...

With the score being kept by Skeletor.

Skeletor

At this point, we decided that we'd had enough - though we stayed around to shake hands with veterans and supporters, watch a few more arrests and marvel at the hawking of goods by socialist vendors and artists.

Upon leaving, we walked the mall and found our way to the Vietnam War Memorial. Though we'd paid our respects at other memorials and monuments along the way, this one seemed to have even more meaning on a day of protest.

Remembrance

September 14, 2007

ThreatsWatch at the White House

Today Center for Threat Awareness Director and ThreatsWatch Managing Editor Steve Schippert was among several milbloggers who attended a one-hour meeting at the White House with President Bush. A more comprehensive report from Steve should be forthcoming, until then, several other milbloggers who were in attendance have posted about the visit:

Mohammed of Iraq the Model
John Donovan
Matt Burden
Bill Ardolino
Bill Roggio
Mudville Gazette (Mrs. Greyhawk)
NZ Bear
MSG CJ Grisham
And Military.com Editor Ward Carroll

UPDATE: Steve Says - I described a bit at The Tank at National Review late today. I will discuss more fully at ThreatsWatch early in the coming week. There was something significant that happened today. Not simply for me, which is by itself insignificant. But something bigger, much bigger, that I will put words to when they properly come to me.

September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007 - Going Forward Prepared

Today is a somber day. Many people remember it all too well through personal experiences. Others watched transfixed to their TV's as the events unfolded and the truths were revealed. Secretary Chertoff said yesterday that "we are safer, but not yet safe." In a sense, we will likely never be safe from the threats posed by this new terrorism. The question is how to improve our chances.

My associate Steve Schippert earlier today wrote his post, After 9/11 - The Citizen Role. He ended with this:

We, like you, are simply citizens. We see this as our role, our part, our contribution as “alert and well-motivated individual citizens.” In “Supporting Security by Enhancing Awareness,” each day we wake and pursue information and understanding, challenging ourselves, “If not you, then who?” Because in the current conflict that history will note defines this generation, a little awareness goes a long way. Sharing it here seems only natural. We hope you find value in the content provided on these pages.

It is to that statement that I wish to add a few points that were raised in a meeting I attended just this morning. The presentation was made by our local Department of Homeland Security, Protective Security Advisor.

The DHS PSA is an individual or group of individuals assigned to regions across the country to assist local efforts to protect critical assets and provide a local perspective to the national risk picture.

While this is not the updated version discussed this morning, it is substantially what was presented. Some of the key elements are very relevant, and go to support what Steven wrote. The message that our PSA conveyed was that every citizen has a role to play in homeland security, especially in the creation of community based partnerships:

Protective Security Advisors will:

• Facilitate and coordinate vulnerability assessments of local Critical Infrastructure/Key Resources

• Provide reach-back capability to the Department of Homeland Security and other Federal government resources

• Serve as advisors regarding local infrastructure during activation of the National Response Plan

• Provide local context and expertise to the Department of Homeland Security to ensure that community resources are used effectively

• Work in state and local Emergency Operations Centers to provide expertise and support to the IP Infrastructure Liaison Cell, who supports the Principal Federal Official and Federal Coordinating Officer responsible for domestic incident management

One final piece and then I leave it to readers to go over the complete presentation. What is the role of a citizen in supporting homeland security?

• Prepare yourself, your family, your neighborhood, your schools

• Learn the local emergency plans for your school and community
- Local emergency management exercises
- School emergency drills
- Hurricane evacuation plans

• Educate yourself and your family

• Know your neighborhood
- Electrical Substations
- Underground Pipelines

Know What is Normal --

Sounds a bit odd? But knowing what is normal, and recognizing when something doesn't look right is important.

The message remains clear that now more than ever, every citizen has the duty to remain vigilant.

After 9/11 - The Citizen Role

At the South Asia Analysis Group's International Terrorism Monitor, B. Raman notes an oft overlooked element in the fight against terrorism "waged separately and jointly by the countries of the world affected by the scourge of terrorism." In 9/11: Looking Back & Moving Forward, he calls attention to the roles and accomplishments of the average citizen.

11. The US has successfully managed to prevent so far a repeat of 9/11 in its homeland. While the tightening of the laws relating to terrorism and strengthened homeland security measures have contributed to this, one should also underline the role played by non-governmental groups and even private individuals in the US in monitoring the Internet-related activities of jihadi terrorist groups, which has helped the Government in its counter-terrorism preventive measures. US citizens have provided a very good example of the useful role, which alert and well-motivated individual citizens can play in counter-terrorism. This is worthy of emulation by citizens of other countries, including India.

12. Victim and citizen activism in fighting terrorism in the US is a matter for admiration and emulation by other nations and societies. One saw the way the relatives of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist strikes mobilised themselves to ensure that their Government took the necessary follow-up action----whether it be in the matter of the enquiry into the failure to prevent 9/11, the implementation of the recommendations of the National Commission on 9/11, strengthening counter-terrorism laws and capabilities or strengthening the political will to fight terrorism. Thanks to this citizen and victim activism, no political leader in the US today can afford to take a soft stance on terrorism and survive in politics.

It is without hesitation that we too acknowledge the "useful role which alert and well-motivated individual citizens can play in counter-terrorism." And we encourage more of it.

While certainly not the only group to do so, ThreatsWatch is if nothing else a collection of "alert and well-motivated individual citizens" who are driven to play a role in counterterrorism and the fight against those who seek to kill us and our families.

While we have each at ThreatsWatch taken it upon ourselves to conquer our various learning curves and communicate our understanding along the way, we in no means undertook this task and this publishing vehicle to trumpet our own individual and collective 'brilliance' in an ego-driven quest for adulation. We did so because, founded and managed by veterans, we simply see it as our extended service.

We, like you, are simply citizens. We see this as our role, our part, our contribution as "alert and well-motivated individual citizens." In "Supporting Security by Enhancing Awareness," each day we wake and pursue information and understanding, challenging ourselves, "If not you, then who?"

Because in the current conflict that history will note defines this generation, a little awareness goes a long way. Sharing it here seems only natural. We hope you find value in the content provided on these pages.

September 10, 2007

Petraeus and his Kitchen Knives

A raft of newspaper stories and a sprinkling of admittedly flawed or narrowly focused reports: that is the evidence put forth by a well-known anti-war group against the impending report by General Petraeus about the status of the surge. To them, everyone except the man behind crafting the surge strategy and now charged with implementing it is right, he is a servant “cooking the books” to help justify a lost cause. Why would a man who came up in an institution sworn not to repeat the mistakes of Viet Nam behave this way?

The short answer is that he’s not.

This campaign to discredit the man behind the surge, and those that serve along side him, shows a staggering lack of understanding of the military heart and mind. One need only look at pictures like this and reports like this and note that they are the rule, not the exception. To risk death and endure extreme sacrifice and hardship in order to ensure a liberated Iraq stays that way is something almost everyone who is knowledgeable of and engaged in the effort is prepared to do again and again and again. Detractors tend to resort to slander or fraud. These tens of thousands are not a political conspiracy: they are the embodiment of liberty in action.

Those who deny what success the surge has brought (an admittedly limited result from a limited campaign) and deride those who are behind it either fail to see the long-term consequences of their actions, or simply don’t care. Either way, they end up exposing us to more frequent and potentially greater threats both domestically and abroad. Post-war Iraq will not be post-war Germany or Japan, but leaving it in a state like post-Soviet Afghanistan will produce predictable results.

September 6, 2007

Syria, Hamas Edge Israel Closer To Conflict

A serious incident took place Wednesday night, September 5, when an Israeli military aircraft reportedly entered Syrian airspace. Israel is denying the report, but Syria said it fired on the war plane while it was dropping munitions near the Syrian border with Turkey. Syria considers the violation an act of aggression and President Bashir Assad is weighing his response.

Earlier in the week, Hamas, operating out of the Gaza Strip, sent a barrage of missiles into Israel's border town, Sderot, hitting a kindergarten on the first day of school. Miraculously, no children were killed, but several were wounded. The senior leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, oversees operations from his offices in Damascus, Syria and it's probable that he directed Hamas to launch the missile strike.

Israel's response has been measured, with targeted killings continuing to take place against terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. Israeli news analysts believe Syria is trying to use Hamas to drag Israel into a confrontation in Gaza, which would tie up some of Israel's Defense Forces in the south of the country. This would then put Israel in a weaker position in the north, thereby giving Syria a military advantage to try and grab the Golan Heights in any future confrontation with Israel.

It's possible that Israel's reported "flyover” Wednesday night was to put Syria on notice that Israel is in a state of readiness for war.

During the next few days, Israel is expected to continue its targeted killing policy against terrorists in Gaza....but with a definite eye on how Syria is going to respond in the north of the country.

This is the closest Israel has come to war with neighboring countries since the Second Lebanon War during the Summer of 2006.

C. Hart reports for ThreatsWatch from Jerusalem, Israel.

American Complacency and the "Next" Attack

In a few days we will mark the sixth Memorial Day of the attacks of September 11, 2001. Some people may ask, “what complacency?” The fear is that in their minds, many people have returned to September 10, 2001. Others, perhaps many others, will ask, “what next attack?” “They" will say, “There was one attack, and it was horrible, but there hasn’t been another attack since then.” Such reactions would represent the sense that a dangerous complacency has set in.

Recently, an associate of mine stated his belief that it is simply a matter of time before there is another attack on American soil. He is not the only one who is publicly voicing this opinion. Most experts expect an attack. To not expect or anticipate an attack is likely to result in being unprepared and unaware. The recent National Intelligence Estimate suggested that another attack is inevitable; Secretary Michael Chertoff had a “gut feeling” that an attack would occur this summer. Even though his “gut” was wrong and it didn’t happen, who is to say how much longer we can be so lucky?

Part of the problem is that in the six years since that worst day in American history, once the broadcasts of the funerals ended, many if not most Americans went back to their normal lives. Perhaps that was the right thing to do, because elsewise, the terrorists would have won by changing our way of life. And yet, in doing so, many Americans no longer feel that there is a danger of terrorism returning to our shores. It may just be that people like my associates who write about terrorism subjects here, and on other counterterrorism websites, are in the minority.

Most people can’t, or don’t want to see the “dots” let alone connect them in their daily lives.

● People are distracted by the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and all of the surrounding controversy
● People are interested in the all-too-early started 2008 Election cycle.
● People are interested in politicians who “tap” their feet

When the Minneapolis I-35 Bridge collapsed, the first impulse response was that terrorists had hit a “soft target.” Of course, it soon became apparent that the bridge fell because of a combination of repair work being performed and a series of infrastructure faults. This conclusion, however, doesn’t diminish the fact that our Nation’s infrastructure continues to be a target of opportunity.

When the steam pipe exploded in New York City back on July 19, 2007, the first reaction of many people was that it was another terrorist attack. But when it was explained as an aged infrastructure giving way to the years, the City relaxed and went back to “normal.”

When the “Caribbean connection” was arrested for conspiring to blow up jet fuel supply tanks and pipelines at John F. Kennedy International Airport, many dismissed their failed attempted by saying “these guys were amateurs.” Perhaps so, and maybe even, they were not at all connected to an organized al Qaeda terror plot. However, the attempt was real.

When New York City went on guard and high alert after the al Qaeda videotape gave warning of a radiological dirty bomb attack, it soon “stood down” and returned to the “normal” hustle and bustle. Step back a second and determine if, in fact, that the “tip” that prompted the “high alert” was calculated to “game” the situation and watch the ways in which the City responded.

Just this week, a plot was uncovered and foiled, with one of the targets considered being Ramstein Air Base, “the largest American air base in Germany and a hub for troops deploying to Eastern Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan.” According to German police, the men, two Germans and a Turkish national, were “core'' members of a local cell of the terrorist group Islamist Jihad Union that comprised more suspects, it said. The Germans are understandably rattled, and at a higher state of alert.

Earlier this week, two Egyptian men, students in at the University of South Florida were indicted Friday on federal charges of transporting explosives across state lines, with one of the men accused of offering explosives training with the intent of carrying out violence.

And even today, we hear of the increased “chatter” about a new video that was posted on an Islamic website on September 2nd warning that "there will be a special gift coming on the day of the blessed invasion of Manhattan."

While it is to be expected that we’d see increased “chatter” in the days leading up to September 11, 2007, clearly the potential remains.

The nexus of illegal narcotics and terrorism, if not understood before, has been proven. And if you step beyond the connection of Afghan poppy production and al Qaeda and simply observe the happenings across our Mexican border with drug cartels battling for turf with their “guns for hire” militia, you can see terrorism brewing. Most people recognize that the pathways followed by the human and drug smugglers crossing our border are not different from those that terrorists could take.

The flow of illegal aliens to this country continues, almost unabated. Politicians on both sides argue either for or against stronger immigration rules, and yet, we are no better off than we were on September 10, 2001. Some would argue that we are actually worse off today than we were on September 10th. Between the lack of enforcement by one party and the false charity of the other, the fact of our porous border with Mexico is undeniable.

Why is this important? It is important because the New York Times ran a story over the weekend asking, “As "9/11" Draws Near, a Debate Rises: How much tribute is enough?” For there to be a debate about whether there should be ceremonies commemorating the attacks and remembering those who died is undoubtedly a sign of complacency. I saw the smoke rising from the crumbled buildings that day (and in the weeks afterward). How anyone could forget or wonder why we should pay tribute is beyond me.

Some peoples’ memories are all too short. Other people, unaccountably, still grasp at straws and from some unknown place consider that the attacks of September 11, 2001 were a contrivance of the U.S. government. But most people, innocently enough, have fallen into a dangerous complacency of life as it was on September 10th. We can only hope that it won’t take another devastating attack on our soil to wake us up and make us realize that there are many days of this “Long War” ahead of us, and that we cannot allow our guard to drop. Our enemy has the resolve to see it through. The “dots” are out there to be seen by all. In fact, if you’re paying attention, their frequency is increasing.

September 4, 2007

Cyber Attacks: Following the Script

The Chinese government was quick to respond to this latest report of compromises of Pentagon computers from systems in China:

China [today] denied a report that its military had hacked into Pentagon computers, saying the allegations were "groundless" and that Beijing was opposed to cybercrime.

"Some people make groundless accusations against China" that its military attacked the Pentagon, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said at a regular news briefing.

"China has all along been opposed to and forbids criminal activities undermining computer networks, including hacking," she said. "China is ready to strengthen cooperation with other countries, including the U.S., in countering Internet crimes."

The timing was perfect and the recitation of the script this author crafted in a separate post was flawless:

People still chase the last-hop when that hasn’t mattered (if it ever did) for ages. Consequently, we futilely pursue “proof” when “intention” or “motivation” is more than sufficient (attribution, as commonly understood, is a pipe dream). National-strategic actions are facilitated/conducted by disinterested criminals (there is that black globalization at work) but we continue to let the FBI pursue “criminals” and the Pentagon to combat “enemies” and almost ner’ the two do meet.

The bottom line is that any nation can conduct attacks of this nature at will, with almost no fear of retribution. State-sponsored activities are indistinguishable from common hacker activity. Motivation is the key: cash-hungry identity thieves don’t care about DOD information, but an adversary in the midst of a massive military build up, aspirations of dominance in space, and an outrageously large and successful espionage campaign does.

The flip side of the coin is that the Chinese could very well be telling the truth in the sense that this particular series of attacks was not their doing. The so-called great firewall of China – like its physical counterpart – can be overcome in many ways, but that does nothing to temper the threat: someone, somewhere, is eating our digital lunch, and they seem to be able to do it will relative and regular ease.

Iran Ready To Share Nuclear Technology

Just as his internal political rival Hashemi Rafsanjani is elected to head the Assembly of Experts, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced that Iran is ready to offer nuclear technology to other IAEA members.

The Iranian nation is prepared to offer its nuclear acheivements to other members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reaffirmed at the foreign ministerial NAM conference being held in Tehran Monday.

Delivering the inaugural address at the conference, President Ahmadinejad lambasted some of the hegemonic powers for exerting pressure on the IAEA to deprive Iran of its legitimate nuclear rights. "The Iranian nation is ready to offer its nuclear achievements in the form of educational programs to the other IAEA members according to the Agency's regulations and under its supervision," Ahmadinejad stated.

Perhaps he can begin by educating the IAEA and its members on the unresolved issues regarding the still-largely clandestine Iranian program, which is managed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and not Iran's civilian nuclear agency.

The IAEA published a letter from Iran last week in which Iran charted out a conditional time line for resolving issues. While Iran touted the letter as proof that issues are resolved due to its proposed 'framework,' the fact remains that no more is known about its programs than last week, last month or last year.

Iran had promised in the past to share its nuclear technology with all Muslim states. Most of the world would call that nuclear proliferation. Not at all dissimilar from how it attained much of its current knowledge and technology via the illicit A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network.

September 2, 2007

Saddam's Beheadings, Circa 2000

UPDATE: I hope that ThreatsWatch readers will also read RE: Saddam's 2001 Beheadings at The Tank on National Review Online. Apologies for failing to originally provide proper context. Mea culpa.
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Saddam Hussein had over 200 female family members of internal opponents beheaded by his Fedayeen Saddam (Saddam's Martyrs) domestic terrorist unit in 2000 and 2001. The videos were apparently widely available (for intimidation purposes) on Baghdad streets before the 2003 invasion. Researching a few unrelated specific details, I stumbled across this from the Small Wars Journal by Malcolm Nance.

AQI Did Not Bring the SVBIED, the SPBIED, the IED and Beheading to Iraq – Many supporters of the ‘All AQI. All the time.’ meme have limited knowledge of Iraq before the war. The former regime intelligence and paramilitary forces were active for years prior to the war perfecting numerous types of unconventional weapons, which are used extensively throughout the insurgency. In each instance, these systems were first developed and deploy by the FRLs in both the invasion and post-war insurgency. Take beheading for example. Largely attributed to AQI and Zarqawi there was in fact an extensive use of it in 2000 and 2001 by the Saddam Fedayeen. They were tasked to carryout an “anti-prostitution” campaign that targeted against political opponents. They publicly beheaded over 200 wives and women family members of Saddam’s enemies. Videos of the brutal beheadings could be found on the streets of Baghdad for less than .25 cents a full year before AQI carried out their first beheading.

I mention not simply because the information is important for pre- and post-invasion context, but also because the other day at The Tank on National Review Online, I brought up the sorry fact that a former US attorney General energetically defended Saddam Hussein at his Iraqi trial. Perhaps Ramsey Clark could not be bothered by videos of Hussein's Saddam Fedayeen beheading over 200 Iraqi women in 2000 and 2001.

The anti-war crowd (ANSWER, their all-star Hollywood cast, Ramsey Clark, et al) are about as disingenuous as one can find.

I have intellectual respect for conscientious objectors and their adherence to personally held moral principle. The problem is, I haven't met many. I'll not confuse protest against American involvement in war with true conscientious objection. Nor should you.

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