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December 31, 2007

Narco-Terrorism Lurks South of the Border

Just across the Texas border, the Sinaola and Gulf drug cartels are waging a bloody war. In Monterrey, a city of 3.5 million people, a city of wealth and a previously quiet city with a major university, over 100 murders occurred in 2007, with 31 law enforcement officers as victims.

Not one 2007 cartel-related killing in the state of Nuevo León, where Monterrey is the capital, was solved as of the last week of December.

Monterrey lies about 2 hours from Nuevo Laredo (136 miles), just across the U.S.-Mexico border from Laredo Texas. In Laredo, Interstate 35 begins its run up the center of the United States that goes to Duluth Minnesota.

The narco-violence is not restricted to Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey or Acapulco. Recent reports detail the spread of the drug wars to Baja California, where on December 18th, at 1PM, ten cars approached the building where police chief of Playas de Rosarito, Jorge Eduardo Montero Alvarez were getting out of their cars, and opened fire. High caliber weapons were used on both sides of the battle.

Just this past Friday, on December 29th, a police convoy in the central state of Zacatecas was attacked by heavily armed commandos, killing seven police officers and allowing two alleged kidnappers to escape. This attack was seemingly in retaliation for the capture of the kidnap suspects just hours earlier.

The killings capped a bloody year in Mexico's brutal drug gang war, which claimed more than 2,200 lives in 2007, including scores of law enforcers.

It is suspected that the Zetas, deserters from the U.S.-trained, Mexican special operations forces, are responsible for the attacks. Known to some as "Los Zetas," they are the armed militia supporting the Gulf Cartel in this drug war.

Considering the porosity of the U.S.-Mexican border, and despite President Calderone's efforts to quell the violence using Mexican federal troops, this continuing drug violence has to be considered seriously.

Pakistani Nuke Security: US Special Forces on Stand-By

US Spcial Forces from the NEST team are understandably on stand-by to respond and secure or destroy Pakistani nuclear weapons if Musharraf falls to an Islamist coup.

US special forces snatch squads are on standby to seize or disable Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in the event of a collapse of government authority or the outbreak of civil war following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

The troops, augmented by volunteer scientists from America's Nuclear Emergency Search Team organisation, are under orders to take control of an estimated 60 warheads dispersed around six to 10 high-security Pakistani military bases.

Military sources say contingency plans have been reviewed over the past three days to prevent any of Pakistan's atomic weapons falling into the hands of Islamic extremists if the administration of President Pervez Musharraf appears threatened by civil unrest.
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Some of the special forces are already believed to be in neighbouring Afghanistan and on alert for the mission. It is also understood that satellite surveillance of Pakistan has been stepped up to keep track of the possible movement of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems.

Should their deployment into action be required, the NEST teams will surely have no welcoming committee regardless of whose forces (and loyalties) are in place at any of the facilities in question.

Regardless, Pakistan's nuclear weapons - and their tight security - are the gravest concern for the United States. As al-Qaeda's insurgency in Pakistan continues to grow and gather steam while Musharraf appears ever weaker, the American sense of crisis grows.

Nothing is more dangerous than an al-Qaeda terrorist network with nuclear weapons. It is one which includes sympathizers (if not members) within Pakistan's military and intelligence.

Risk = Consequences x Likelihood

The consequences are fixed and grave. And as the likelihood increases, the level of true risk increases multiple-fold. As such, the risk must be treated with the utmost gravity by those best prepared to intervene.

December 29, 2007

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb Active in Mauritania

No longer content with operations merely in Algeria, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is suspected of being behind a shooting attack on a family of French tourists in the northwest African nation of Mauritania. A fifth person was wounded in the attack, which occurred outside the town of Aleg in southern Mauritania on December 24. According to the BBC:

Tuesday's attack happened after the five victims stopped on the side of a road for a picnic. The gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons, before speeding off in a car that was later recovered in Aleg, about 250km (160 miles) east of the capital Nouakchott.

Mauritanian prosecutors have reported that the suspects in the attack are believed to be affiliates of AQIM, which has been particularly active in recent weeks. This terrorist organization, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) before it formally allied with al-Qaeda, also claimed responsibility for the massive dual bombings in the Algerian capital of Algiers on December 11. This suicide bombing attack, which targeted a United Nations headquarters in the city and a government building, killed dozens. One of the perpetrators of the Mauritanian attack has been apprehended, with others still on the lam. The French government has urged its nationals to avoid the area:

On its website, the French foreign ministry is advising holiday tourists to pick destinations other than Mauritania, citing threats by Al-Qaeda against "French interests in North Africa."

In more recent news, AQIM has claimed responsibility for a strike against Mauritanian soldiers outside El Ghallawiya, in northeast Mauritania, on December 27.Three soldiers were shot and killed in the incident. AQIM took credit in a recording aired on Al-Arabiya, which stated:

"We are glad to inform our Muslim nation about the victories achieved by the mujahideen of the al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb through 15 simultaneous operations."

The recent string of terrorist incidents has caused concern that AQIM might also try to disrupt the upcoming Lisbon to Dakar Rally, an auto race set to begin on January 5 that draws thousands of spectators to Mauritania. These incidents provide definitive evidence that AQIM is intent on spreading its reach outside of its nation of origin, Algeria. Additionally, among counterterrorism analysts there has been a long running debate over the threat of extremist forces finding safe haven in the Sahel, a vast semi-arid region south of the Sahara Desert. The attack against the French tourists, which occurred in this region, lends further credence to this argument and also heightens fears that AQIM is expanding its operations into Senegal and Mali.

December 28, 2007

ThreatsWatch Interviewed: 'With Bhutto Gone...'

Last night, I was interviewed by Dr. Glazov of Frontpage Magazine regarding the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan early Thursday. In reality, the early interview contains analysis that has yet to reach ThreatsWatch pages. While there will be a more complete ThreatsWatch analysis later, a glimpse of the elements can be seen within the Frontpage interview, With Bhutto Gone. . .

It should be noted that instability and disunity are a requirement of any successful insurgency campaign, and an insurgency is exactly what the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance has been executing - albeit in a remarkably patient, methodical 'Death by a Thousand Cuts' fashion. Their goals are two-fold: Establish Pakistan as the base of their envisioned restoration of a caliphate and the acquisition of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, providing them with both horrifying means of attack as well as a newfound deterrence.

Included is also discussion regarding the implications for the region, principally for Afghanistan and India, as well as the likely role of some within Pakistani military and intelligence circles.

As for what the Bhutto assassination means for the United States going forward, I concluded that we are likely at a fork in the road and may be facing a difficult decision regarding Musharraf and Pakistan.

For the US going forward, we may be approaching a time where the US needs to determine if it is going to continue to support Musharraf wholly and stay largely out of Pakistan or confront the danger full-on and unleash a full assault on the tribal regions held by al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Perhaps a recognition that at the end of the day there truly is no defeating al-Qaeda within Pakistan by Pakistan, and that it will require American boots on the ground and assets in the air - whether convenient or not, pleasant contemplation or not. We may be nearing that crucial decision point.

Also keep in mind that, if history is a guide, the decision may be made for us. Consider the recent history of Pakistani leaders who have appointed a new Chief of Army Staff - such as Musharraf did in appointing General Kiyani to take his place. It would not be a stretch of the imagination to contemplate Kiyani overthrowing Musharraf thinking him too divisive for his country to survive. Recall the unspoken synergy of mutual anger held both by Bhutto supporters and al-Qaeda for Musharraf. With her assassination, it could be a perfect storm brewing for al-Qaeda in Pakistan - one that could eclipse the synergistic anger that manifested after Lal Masjid assault and the arrest of Supreme Court Chief Justice Chaudhry.

Recall also that Musharraf himself was appointed Chief of Army Staff by Nawaz Sharif. General Musharraf dispatched of him in short order in a bloodless coup shortly after.

History can tell us many things. But what it cannot tell us is often more troubling. We are now in uncharted waters with an increasingly unstable nuclear power while a bloodthirsty international terrorist organization thrives within its borders. Not even the fall and breakup of the Soviet Union can compare in potential perils.

The coming week is critical, and all events in Pakistan warrant the closest attention.

Read the entire Frontpage interview here.

December 27, 2007

US 'Warns' North Korea on Nuclear 'Deadline'?

Here is a curious report: US Urges North Korea to Keep Nuclear Commitments.

Officials here say the United States and other parties to the nuclear deal are fulfilling their commitments to North Korea and that Pyongyang can and should meet its obligation to account for its nuclear program and activities by the end of the year.

The 'end of the year' is a scant 3 days and one hour from the time of this posting (NYC time). Interesting, but not curious.

The curious part is the continued toying with a North Korean totalitarian government with a track record of thumbing its nose after it gets what it wants in exchange for its extortion efforts - generally cash, food and fuel. Further, is the deadline actually a deadline, or perhaps another roadside post that can be moved upon renewed NoKor promises come January 1, 2008? it's not an unfair question to ask.

One wonders if aiding Syria with a suspected nuclear program closely tied to Iran is part of its 'commitments,' either explicitly or implied.

Does anyone remember that Iran's IRGC had a healthy supply of officers at last year's North Korean nuclear bomb test detonation...and lost IRGC officers in a recent explosion while 'training' Syrian forces on the finer points of installing chemical warheads on Scud missiles...not far down the road from the suspected Syrian nuclear site - manned with both Iranians and North Koreans - laid flat by the Israeli Air Force?

Just asking for asking's sake.

New Bin Laden Tape Imminent

A new video featuring Usama bin Laden called "The Way to Foil the Conspiracies" is set to hit the Internet, according to a statement posted on several Jihadi message boards and promoted through an animated GIF banner. The message will last for a total of 56 minutes and 10 seconds and will address Iraq and al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).

Promotional banner for 'The Way to Foil the Conspiracies'

The ISI has come under scrutiny within Jihadi circles for its loss of territory and reduced tempo of operations. In October bin Laden recorded an audio message that was widely considered to be criticism of the ISI and its emir, the notional Abu Omar al-Baghdadi.

It is not clear when the message will be released onto the Internet and if it will be delivered as an audio or a video file. It will mark as-Sahab's 99th video/audio product of 2007 and bin Laden's fifth media appearance since September.

Bhutto Shot While Waving Through Sunroof

According to the account told by photographer John Moore of Getty Images, Benazir Bhutto was shot in the neck and chest as she waved to crowds of supporters - and at least one enemy - while standing through the sunroof of her vehicle leaving the Rawalpindi rally. From CNN:

The photographer who took the last known images of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto before her assassination Thursday told CNN he was "surprised" to see her rise through the sunroof of her vehicle to wave to supporters after delivering her speech.

"I ran up, got as close as I got, made a few pictures of her waving to the crowd," Getty Images senior staff photographer John Moore told CNN's online streaming news service, CNN.com Live, in a phone interview Thursday from Islamabad, Pakistan.

"And then suddenly, there were a few gun shots that rang out, and she went down, she went down through the sunroof," he said. "And just at that moment I raised my camera up and the blast happened. ... And then, of course, there was chaos."

This explains the initial question offered privately regarding whether or not Bhutto's vehicle had bullet-proof glass. Bill Roggio noted a logical possibility at the time, writing that "[t]he mode of attack suggests a level of training, discipline, and expertise of a military organization. If bullets penetrated Bhutto's vehicle windshield, which was no doubt was bullet proof, the shooter was using armor-piercing rounds and had good aim." We now know that the attacker was clearly at close range and almost certainly did not penetrate the vehicle's bullet-proof glass. At least that such was not necessary.

It was customary for Bhutto to exit rallies in such a manner - a characteristic clearly not lost on her attackers. In the end, Benazir's mass appeal was both her greatest strength and her fatal weakness.

New Russian Missile Systems for Iran After TOR-M1 Failure

When the Israelis attacked a Syrian ‘nuclear bomb plant’ deep inside Syria September 6th, there has been a noticeable silence on the issue from all quarters - chief among them Syria and Iran. Both nations had invested heavily (and very publicly) in the Russian TOR-M1 anti-aircraft missile defense systems. Iran had positioned dozens of them around its nuclear facilities to overtly ward off any potential American or Israeli airstrikes. But the Israeli air raid of September 6th rendered the TOR-M1 mute and effectively reduced them to expensive lawn ornaments - hence, in part, the silence from Syria and Iran. In addition to the nature of the Syrian site destroyed - North Korean, Iranian and Syrian joint efforts - a suspected nuclear endeavor, the utter failure of the TOR-M1 system reverberated through the halls of Damascus and Tehran...as well as their allied Moscow suppliers.

All of the above is to provide the proper context for understanding the cause behind the fact that Russia is now selling Iran a 'new sophisticated' air defense missile system, the S-300. The Russian truck-portable S-300 system is comparable to Raytheon's Patriot missile system, which is designed for high-altitude anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic missile defenses.

Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said on Iranian state TV that "The S-300 air defense system will be delivered to Iran on the basis of a contract signed with Russia in the past."

While there is likely some truth to that, to dismiss the immediacy and impetus provided by the complete Israeli defeat of the currently supplied TOR-M1 systems deep inside Syria is to abandon common sense. Both Tehran and Damascus were shaken and angered by the complete systems failure.

Background:

ThreatsWatch 2005: Diverging Relations - Russia's $1B Deal with Iran
ThreatsWatch 2006: Russian Missiles For Iranian Nuke Plants Delivered

Also of interest regarding Russian arms sales:

UK Guardian: US aims to edge out Russia in big arms sales to India

Report: al-Qaeda Claims Bhutto Assassination Operation

An early report from Adnkronos indicates that al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto earlier today in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. It was Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid, al-Qaeda's military commander in Afghanistan, that made the statement for the terrorist group. The well-connected Sayed Saleem Shahzad reports that the order to assassinate Bhutto "was made by al-Qaeda No. 2, the Egyptian doctor, Ayman al-Zawahiri in October. " (For more on Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid, see this May al-Jazeera report via The Long War Journal.)

Bhutto's angry and distraught supporters have taken to the streets in her (and Musharraf's) native Karachi, where a witness said that "[a]t least three banks, a government office and a post office were set on fire." Reports of unrest within Pakistan extend from Karachi to the south all the way to Kashmir in the north.

What lies ahead is the potential for a perfect storm for the al-Qaeda-Taliban alliance, as its insurgency will be immeasurably aided by widespread public discontent and violence. Opposition to Musharraf may be the only thing Bhutto supporters have in common with the Islamist terrorists of Pakistan's tribal areas, but it could be just enough. Fueled by anger and passion, the initial reaction is to blame Musharraf - directly and indirectly - and currently absent is any ire toward the terrorists who have taken credit.

It is with no small irony that in Benazir Bhutto's final address she said, “I put my life in danger and came here because I feel this country is in danger. People are worried. We will bring the country out of this crisis.”

Unchecked angry responses through widespread rioting, however, risks aiding those who murdered her as much as hurting a reviled Musharraf, whom they hold primarily responsible.

Truly difficult days lie ahead in Pakistan.

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated in Pakistan

Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated today at a rally held in Rawalpindi, the garrison city near Islamabad that is also home to Pakistani Army headquarters.

Early reports indicate that Bhutto was shot by sniper fire in a coordinated attack that included a suicide bomber, with FOX News reporting that she was hit five times, including in the chest and neck. She survived the initial attack but appears to have died in surgery at a local hospital.

Little news is available yet from Pakistani media sources, but The Times of India reports that about 20 are believed to have been killed by the suicide bomber's blast in addition to the sniper killing of Bhutto. The bomber struck an exit where people were leaving Bhutto's rally.

At the hospital, Bhutto supporters were already reacting against Pervez Musharraf, whose government and military they likely suspect are behind the attack. At the news of Bhutto's death, they chanted "Dog, Musharraf, dog," and broke glass doors at the entry to the hospital.

The greatest strategic fear going forward from this tragedy is a potential rise in civil unrest inside Pakistan with chaos and instability throughout regions of the country, adding to the challenge of a Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance in control of the tribal areas. Chaos among the democratic opposition in cities such as Karachi and Lahore would magnify the crisis already at hand.

More to follow at ThreatsWatch as the situation unfolds and information becomes available.

December 24, 2007

As-Sahab: Shelling a British Base

As-Sahab, al-Qaeda's central media wing, released its 96th video this year and the 50th installment of "American Holocaust/Hell for the Americans in the Land of Khorasan (Islamic Emirate)" December 23 on the main al-Qaeda message forums. The video, which is billed as "Shelling a British base with 82 mm mortars in Helmand province, Afghanistan," lasts a total of 2 minutes and 45 seconds and features footage of a Taliban mortar attack.

The "Hell of the Americans in the Land of Khorasan" series features short operational clips of Taliban and al-Qaeda attacks on American, British and Afghan targets in Afghanistan. The messaging strategy mimics tactics used by al-Qaeda and Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq, which compete in the information theater for financing and recruits, and signals that al-Qaeda, itself, is fully engaged in guerilla warfare in Afghanistan. Short clips of operations also serve as an effective morale booster for the rank and file.

The video was posted in 3 video formats and 4 different file sizes and seeded across a total of 389 free file transfer sites on December 22, including depositfiles.com, filefactory.com, badongo.com, cocoshare.cc, speedshare.org, files.to, megaupload.com, savefile.info, 4filehosting.com, heyupload.com, zshare.net, rapidshare.com, fastuploading.com, netload.in, archiv.to, egoshare.com, uploaded.to, sendspace.com, upitus.com, and l5s.net. Some of the seeds are stamped with "mirrorit.de," a Web site that facilitates three uploads at once.


File Name
Format
Size (MB)
Seeds
nh61.rar
aaaaaa12.rar
MPEG
80.1
205

nh62.rar
nh620.rar

nh621.rar

nh622.rar

nh623.rar

nh624.rar

nh625.rar

nh62_1.rar

nh62_2.rar

RM
10.0
80
nh63.rar
1e51e0533c.rar
RM
2.0
52
nh64.rar
125a78f555.rar
3GP
1.0
52

The 80 Meg video was last modified on November 5, however, the smaller files carry a December 21 timestamp. Following standard operational security, the files are zipped in the RAR format and protected with the randomly-generated password "mhf*($df893fymj9bfD@Jgg*(KDJm."

As-Sahab's banner for American Holocaust: Shelling a British base.





[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]

December 23, 2007

General David Petraeus, Man of the Year

It is difficult to imagine how there can be much argument that Gen. David Petraeus is 2007's Man of the Year. For the reasons you stated and more, Bill Kristol, I personally concur.

December 22, 2007

US Readiness for Flu Outbreak "Spotty"

Putting aside for a moment whether an outbreak of Pandemic avian flu (H5N1) is on the horizon or not, the recent outbreaks in China (where no concrete connections have yet been proven) and in Pakistan (where a small chain of human to human transmission has occurred according to the World Health Organization) raise the concern level.

Keiji Fukuda, coordinator of the WHO's global influenza program, told Reuters this week that the Pakistan cases probably represent a mix of poultry-to-human infections and human-to-human transmission resulting from close contact when people cared for infected relatives. "We don't have any indication of a broader health threat, other than poultry outbreaks" in the area, WHO spokesman John Rainford told CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy - University of Minnesota) news today. "Our risk assessment suggests no evidence of sustained transmission. All the close contacts and involved healthcare workers remain asymptomatic and have been released from close medical observation."

At the same time, CIDRAP is also reporting that the origins of the more recent outbreak in Indonesia in which five members of one family have been infected are unknown (see also from CIDRAP: CIDRAP News story "Possible H5N1 family cluster probed in Pakistan” and CIDRAP News story "Reports suggest common source in family H5N1 cases"

Therefore, despite explanations, there is a possibility that in both Pakistan and China (and maybe Indonesia), we are seeing both human-to-human and bird-to-human transmission. The question of human-to-human transmission, and whether that jump can or will turn into a pandemic has to be considered. In fact, the World Health Organization, in its latest reports said that there is a possibility that the reported Bird Flu in Pakistan might be spreading both from person to person and from poultry to humans. Additionally, the U.S. State Department this week began a series of articles on the bird flu preparations in Vietnam

Vietnam's Vaccination Effort Helps in Fight Against Avian Flu Vaccinating its highest-risk populations of chickens and ducks has been an expensive and logistically complex effort for Vietnam’s central government, but animal health officials say it has slowed deadly outbreaks of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza among birds in the Southeast Asian nation and, critically, among people. Also see: The State Department’s Bird Flu website is found here, Bird Flu (Avian Influenza) and National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza

Why make this point (over and over again)? It’s all about preparedness. Based on a report from Trust for America’s Health (tagged as a “watchdog” group by some local media), "Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism," we remain unprepared. The report indicates that a “number of critical areas of the nation's emergency health preparedness effort still require attention.” More on point:

Thirteen states don't have adequate plans to distribute vaccines and antidotes in the event of a flu pandemic or a bioterrorism attack. Among the findings outlined in the report:

● Flu vaccination rates decreased among the elderly in 11 states during the past year.
● Six states cut their public health budgets between fiscal 2005 and fiscal 2006.
● Thirteen states do not have adequate plans to distribute emergency vaccines, antidotes, and medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile
● Twenty-one states do not have statutes that allow for adequate liability protection for healthcare volunteers during emergencies
● Twelve states do not have a disease surveillance system compatible with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Electronic Disease Surveillance System
● Seven states have not purchased any portion of their federally-subsidized or unsubsidized antivirals to use during a pandemic flu
● Seven states and D.C. lack sufficient capabilities to test for biological threats

"There is little doubt that emergency health preparedness is on the national radar," Levi added. "But until all states are equally well prepared, our country is not as safe as it can and should be."

All fifty U.S. states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) were graded based on publicly available data. The results? Thirty-five states and D.C. scored eight or higher on the scale of ten indicators. Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia scored the highest with 10 out of 10. Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Wyoming scored the lowest with six out of 10.

We are dealing with the potential onset of a naturally borne medical disaster. I believe that it is important to recognize that the question of the “jump” to human-to-human transmission is one that could be “only one mutation” (of the virus) away. This was discussed back in October in The “Next” Step in Bird Flu Mutations. While "some" people may argue that "human-to-human" transmission is not occuring (or at least not yet on a large scale), or even that if an outbreak of H5N1 occurs in the United States, it might not become a pandemic, I blieve that the saying that "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link" holds true here.

December 21, 2007

Al-Furqan: The Complete Destruction of a U.S. Hummer

Al-Furqan, the media wing of al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and its "Ministry of Information," released a new video on December 20 through the al-Fajr Media Center. The video, called "The Complete Destruction Of a U.S. Hummer And Killing All Its Passengers," was recorded in Eastern Hasibah, Ramadi, Anbar Province, and is part of the ongoing ISI propaganda series "Hell of the Romans and Apostates in the Land of Mesopotamia."

The video was released in three formats and file sizes across a total of 246 file transfer Web sites, including uploaded.to, datenklo.net, badongo.com, depositfiles.com, filefactory.com, files.to, cocoshare.cc, megaupload.com, zshare.net, savefile.info, rapidshare.com, archive.org, fastuploading.com, archiv.to, and netload.in. According to timestamps on some of the file transfer sites the videos were posted on December 19.

File Name
MB Seeds
gtde.mpg
23.1 159
ut.rmvb
ut_1.rar

ut_2.rar

ut_3.rar
6.9 66
3ppp.3gp
0.9 21

Al-Furqan, al-Qaeda's media network inside Iraq, has been heavily targeted by coalition forces since the surge peaked in June. Its operations in Mosul were dismantled over the Summer and in the past week nearly 30 of its operatives in Samarra have been killed and captured by coalition forces. Al-Furqan perviously maintained a large output of propaganda products but it practically went silent between September and late November. The sudden appearance of video releases suggests a renewed effort by al-Qaeda to dominate the market of operations videos produced on a daily basis in Iraq.

The Complete Destruction Of a U.S. Hummer.

Warning: Video contains graphic scenes.





[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages, such as this one, contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]

US SIGINT Facility Penetrated by China

When it comes to keeping an ear out for military and intelligence developments in China, there are few places in the world more important than the Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center. This makes today's Washington Times story by Bill Gertz so disturbing:

China's intelligence service gained access to a secret National Security Agency listening post in Hawaii through a Chinese-language translation service, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

The spy penetration was discovered several years ago as part of a major counterintelligence probe by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) that revealed an extensive program by China's spy service to steal codes and other electronic intelligence secrets, and to recruit military and civilian personnel with access to them.

. . . China's Ministry of State Security, the main civilian spy service, carried out the operations by setting up a Chinese translation service in Hawaii that represented itself as a U.S.-origin company . . . The ruse led to classified contracts with the Navy and NSA to translate some of the hundreds of thousands of intercepted communications gathered by NSA's network of listening posts, aircraft and ships.

Native Chinese speakers tend to occupy the top tier linguist positions in intelligence agencies; correcting and/or refining the work of those with lesser expertise. Over time a cadre of compromised ethnic Chinese linguists could significantly negatively impact on our understanding of Chinese activities and intentions.

Your author has talked about our counterintelligence problems before, but this case, with its apparent broad and deep penetration of an entire facility, stands alone amongst recent Chinese espionage cases. This is in effect an attempt to nullify an entire intelligence discipline and render this nation dumb to what many consider a near-peer adversary. China, you might recall, recently demonstrated it has real Star Wars-like capabilities. No matter where you fall out on the China-as-enemy/-friend spectrum you have to agree: having no reliable idea about what any nation is saying is generally a poor state if awareness.

Assuming a high degree of accuracy in what has been revealed so far, this is one collection and analysis capability that is close to being “combat ineffective” in the intelligence war. If congress is going to hold hearings on intelligence matters, it would do well to back-burner the political theater that is the CIA interrogation tape case and query the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the National Security Agency, and the Director of Naval Intelligence about what appears to be a fantastic intelligence fiasco.

MEND's Call to Arms in the Niger Delta

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), an insurgent organization operating in the southern oil-rich region of Nigeria’s Niger Delta, called for the resumption of hostilities against government forces and foreign oil companies operating in the area on December 17. Though MEND is the most well-known and effective group attacking oil production facilities and other targets in the volatile Niger Delta, other similarly orientated groups exist as well, such as the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force. After reneging from a peace deal with the Nigerian government in September, MEND has now issued a call for all the disparate insurgent groups in the delta to unite and finish off all oil production in the region. In an e-mail sent to journalists, MEND issued a new call to arms:

"We call on all genuine militant groups to unite and cripple the oil industry in Nigeria once and for all," the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said.

"The time has come for all breakaway factions to come together and wage war of a different kind in 2008," it said in an email.

[…]

"MEND has long suspected the insincerity of the Nigerian government, the military, and oil majors along with their collaborators," it said.

The implications of this message reach far beyond Nigeria. The West African nation has emerged as a major producer of petroleum to the world at large and for the United States specifically. During previous bouts of MEND violence against oil company targets, including the kidnapping of foreign workers, Nigerian petroleum production dropped by a reported 20%. On December 19, the Niger Delta Vigilante, yet another insurgent organization of the Niger Delta region, attacked a number of oil and government-related targets in the town of Okrika. As reported by Reuters:

Nigerian gunmen attacked an oil industry barge, a jetty and a government building on Wednesday, briefly capturing 18 Filipino crew and fighting with troops, officials said on Thursday. Violence has been on the increase for the past month in the Niger Delta, where about 2.1 million barrels of crude are pumped every day. Armed rebels say they are losing patience with peace talks launched in June by Nigeria's new government.

Though it was unclear if this attack was inspired by MEND’s call for greater action against the oil industry, this attack is likely a harbinger of things to come. With the stated aim of waging a new kind of war in 2008, MEND has the capacity to precipitate a drop in production further than the 20% it has already accomplished. In view of record oil prices on the world market, increased instability in the Niger Delta has the capacity to raise prices to even more painful levels. As such, it is surprising that international observers are not giving greater attention to MEND and the other groups of its ilk.

Russia Enables Iranian Nuclear Stockpiling As We Look On

Just follow the links in the Iran section of today's DailyBriefing and ask yourself how wise it is to watch Russia supply Iran with the enriched uranium nuclear fuel to run the Bushehr light water reactor plant expected online in 2008.

This frees Iran to stockpile whatever uranium it produces domestically - and to continue to enrich it to higher levels - even if the Russian fuel is recovered and returned to Russia.

Iran will continue to veil its clandestine nuclear weapons program behind a visible nuclear power program, and we play along at our own peril. It is patently unwise for the West to trust the world's foremost state sponsor of international terrorism.

Do the math. It isn't rocket science.

December 19, 2007

Al-Libi: Al-Nafeer (Trumpet of War)

The As-Sahab Foundation, which represents al-Qaeda's media wing, released its 95th propaganda product in 2007 on December 18, a lecture by Abu Yahya al-Libi titled "Al-Nafeer," which is the trumpet blown before a battle. The video, which lasts 41 minutes and 31 seconds, is al-Libi's 11th appearance this year and is not subtitled.

"Al-Nafeer" was released in 3 different file formats and 5 file sizes, zipped as a compressed and password-protected RAR file, and seeded across 318 free file transfer sites. The system timestamp on the videos indicate that they were created on December 18. Following standard operational security, the RAR files are protected with the randomly-generated password "a65dVTSf#YKers)mh&qiuS)op2#KJ32J3a."

File Names Format Size (MB) Seeds
1f.rar MPEG 495 34
2f.rar RM 138 54
3f.rar RM 15.4 74
4f.rar 3GP 16.3 96
5f.rar RM (audio only) 3.4 60

Al-Libi, a Libyan al-Qaeda commander and member of al-Qaeda's Shari'a Committee widely considered to be the group's "Defense Minister," speaks in a classroom to a group of mujahideen that are off-camera. The classroom appears to be the same location where his November 7 as-Sahab video, "Final Session of the Shari'a Course Held at a Mujahideen Center," was filmed. Al-Libi uses the opportunity for a call to arms against "the soldiers of the devil" in the theaters that are attracting al-Qaeda's most attention - Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Algeria and Egypt. Saying that "Islam, Hijra (migration) and Jihad" are "the most important for a Muslim," he compels his audience to fight where needed most and that Jihad knows no borders or nationality. Secular and moderate Muslims who argue against fighting, he mocks as "tools of Satan." Dying in Jihad, he says, "is a guaranteed route to heaven."

Abu Yahya Al-Libi, alias Mohammad Hassan, is one of the most charismatic al-Qaeda leaders featured in as-Sahab products. As a member of the group's Shari'a Committee, he frequently bases his arguments on the Qur'an and Hadith and his videos are mainly used for indoctrination of the rank and file. He is one of the Bagram Four who escaped from U.S. custody in Bagram in 2005. His visibility on as-Sahab messaging products, which is not necessarily an indication of his position in the network's leadership hierarchy, is second only to Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Date
Title
Dec 18
Al-Nafeer
Nov 7
Final Session of the Shari'a Course Held at a Mujahideen Center
Sep 9
Dots on the Letters
Jul 31
Of the Masters of Martyrs
Jun 6
Eulogy for Taliban Commander Mullah Dadullah
May 30
The Tawheed of Al Saud...and the True Tawheed (audio only)
Apr 30
Palestine is a Cry of Warning
Mar 25
To the Army of Difficulty in Somalia
Mar 22
Iraq: Between Indications of Victory and Conspiratorial Intrigues
Feb 8
Eid al Adha
Feb 1
The Crusade Continues: The Children of AIDS in Libya

As-Sahab's banner: Al-Nafeer.





[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]

Rauf Escape In Pakistan: Details Too Dumb to be Error

The level of incompetence that must be believed in order to classify Rashid Rauf's new-found freedom in Pakistan as an 'escape' crosses a line of incredulity. As details reported by London's Times Online emerge, it appears almost certain that he did not 'escape' but was rather 'sprung' with the willful cooperation of two Pakistani police officers. According to information obtained by Times Online, Rauf escaped while praying as he was allowed to enter a mosque with his uncle, free of handcuffs and unaccompanied by police who were waiting in the car (Rauf's uncle's car, not a police vehicle.)
Investigators have discovered that Mr Rauf left court in his uncle’s car, accompanied by two police officers, and was allowed to stop at a fast-food restaurant for lunch before going on to a mosque to pray.

The two officers waited in the car while Mr Rauf and his uncle, Mohammed Rafiq, entered the prayer room, but when they failed to emerge, the officers discovered that the men had escaped through the back door.

Investigators believe that the police escorts must have unlocked the suspect’s handcuffs to allow him to pray.

The new revelations have raised questions about whether the escape was the result of police negligence – or something more sinister. Hashmat Habib, Mr Rauf’s lawyer, yesterday questioned his client’s “mysterious disappearance from the court premises”, and alleged that Pakistani authorities were against his extradition. “There was no need for him to flee as he was quite happy to be extradited to Britain,” Mr Habib told The Times.
Rauf's lawyer can say what he likes in defense of his client, but no one is 'happy to be extradited' when compared to being free. Compared to a Pakistani prison? Perhaps. But there is no comparison to freedom.

Further, it is difficult to fathom any police in any country so lacking in security sense as to allow a prisoner to leave a vehicle unbound and unaccompanied to slip into a building and out of sight.

Rashid Rauf is wanted in connection with London's investigation into his uncle's 2002 murder and is suspected of assisting Britons traveling to Pakistan for al-Qaeda training.

APC's and Qassams: Tools of the Trade

The complex simplicity of the conflict that surrounds and permeates the Palestinian Territories is laid before the reader once again by Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post. In her column, she brings up the renewed Russian effort to supply armored personnel carriers to the Palestinian Authority, an effort renewed since the popular means for opposing Hamas has been to support Fatah and the PLO.

A week before Zoldan was murdered by US-funded PA security forces, Olmert approved the shipment of two million bullets for AK-47 assault rifles and 50 advanced Russian armored personnel carriers to those forces in Judea and Samaria. The delivery of the APCs has been delayed because the Palestinians insist that they be deployed with roof mounted machine guns and Israel has refused to accept that demand so far. In the meantime however, the bullets have apparently arrived safe and sound.

Note that the rejection of the APC's came from the Palestinians - and not the Israelis - because they demanded the armored personnel carriers include turret-mounted machine guns. Israelis are right to fear these weapons may one day be seen coming downrange at them.

The Russians began this effort immediately after Hamas was elected into power in January 2006. The original allotment of equipment and weaponry included the 50 armored personnel carriers and, in addition, two helicopters.

Further upsetting the perceived unity of the Quartet, if the meeting in March goes well in the eyes of the Russians, they may go forward with planned sales of 50 armored personnel carriers and two helicopters to the Hamas-led PA. This will amount to not only a terrorist organization in governance, but a terrorist organization being openly armed by another state, with governance as the alibi. Russia, no stranger to Islamic terror, has never recognized Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia has pledged $10 million for the Palestinians in 2008. "In order to enhance Palestinian security forces, we have prepared 50 armored personnel carriers, communication and special equipment for the PNA (PA), and we expect countries in the region to assist in the delivery of this aid," he said.

The Gaza Strip has been isolated since it was seized by Hamas in June. Lavrov warned that the area could turn into "a kind of high security prison" for its 1.5 million population as "punishment for their free expression of will," referring to the January 2006 elections, which brought Hamas to power.

This is disingenuous at best. The Gaza strip is isolated because a terrorist group was elected into power after its power base - the Gaza Strip - was handed to the Palestinians when Ariel Sharon withdrew all Israeli forces from the territory.

What did Israel get in return for this gesture, one largely opposed by the Israeli public? A dramatic increase in rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip, from 179 attacks in 2005 to 946 and 783 respectively in the two years since the Israeli 'occupiers' disengaged from Gaza and Hamas came to power.

And while the blame for the plight of the Palestinians is always placed at the doorstep of Israel, one wonders why the Iranian support for Hamas in Gaza, for instance, is never scrutinized to determine just how much food, medicine and economic development is provided in contrast to the amount of weapons, explosives, ammunition and other equipment and training.

And the West pledges &7.4 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority to pay for salaries and services neglected by them in deference toward more weapons, explosives and ammunition.

Israel left Gaza to the Palestinians. Occupiers no more. Now, they are ostensibly derided as prison guards while the Palestinians' elected representative group fires record numbers of rockets and mortars into Israeli towns. And we continue to push for an official Palestinian state where no governance of an informal state can be mustered. This makes sense how?

December 17, 2007

Zawahiri: A Review of Events

The As-Sahab Foundation, which represents al-Qaeda's media wing, released its 94th video in 2007 on December 16, an interview with Ayman al-Zawahiri called "A Review of Events: As-Sahab's Fourth Interview with Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri." The video, which lasts one hour and 37 minutes, is Zawahiri's 14th appearance this year and consists of a question and answer session between the group's operations chief and an off-camera producer. Subtitled in English, the video is a strategic PSYOP product meant to frame recent global events into al-Qaeda's narrative and ensure that the narrative carries down to the rank and file. Although Arabic remains the lingua franca of al-Qaeda, an effort is underway among its members to maintain English-language forums and to distribute propaganda products in English.

As-Sahab and its distribution network, al-Fajr Media Center, have also announced preparations for a virtual "town hall meeting" with Zawahiri and are inviting users of the five major jihadi Web forums to submit questions over the next month for him to answer.

Promotional banner for the upcoming virtual townhall meeting with Zawahiri

"A Review of Events" was released in 3 different file formats and 5 file sizes, zipped as a compressed and password-protected RAR file, and seeded across 445 free file transfer sites. Timestamps on some of the sites indicate that the videos were uploaded on the morning of December 16 using a free service provided by mirrorit.de that facilitates 3 simultaneous uploads at once. Interestingly, the system timestamp on the videos indicate that they were created between 5:00 and 6:30 am EDT on December 16, which suggests that the files were outputted quickly from a single computer using a single master file.

Following standard operational security, the RAR files are protected with the randomly-generated password "T<xP>)5(Dp)Z2L}p5s^dD$1z)(&kFwe7Y3OI(*&ew343hT."

File Names Format Size (MB) Seeds
S5.rar MPEG 1.13 GB 18
Sa.rar, Sa2.rar, Sa4.rar RM 244 98
Sm.rar, sm0.rar, sm1.rar, sm2.rar RM 34.7 133
Sg.rar, Sg0.rar, Sg1.rar 3GP 32.4 81
Ss.rar, Ss_1.rar, Ss_2.rar, Ss_3.rar RM (audio only) 7.8 115

The video features segments of narrated B-roll, including clips from Ansar al-Sunnah (now called Ansar al-Islam), al-Furqan Media, and Western documentaries and news programs. Based on an analysis of the video, the segues were produced after the original interview had been recorded and already subtitled.

Zawahiri hits a number of topics: Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Algeria, Egypt and Pakistan. He begins by calling the Mujahideen the "Muslim vanguard" of the Ummah and that it is leading to a "Jihadi awakening" and unification, which the recent merger between al-Qaeda and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group shows. He spends a great deal of time discussing Iraq and the major controversies that have plagued the Web forums since October: success of the Sunni Awakening movements in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq's loss of momentum, and al-Jazeera's coverage of Usama bin Laden's October message that criticized the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). He says that ISI's loss of momentum is "empty propaganda" and applauds at length the efforts of "the unknown soldiers of Jihadi media" for "demolishing the myths and fantasies" of the West. Nevertheless, he suggests that the ISI is indeed in trouble by discussing at length the reasons why Sunni militant groups in Iraq should cooperate with it.

"(A)ll the Mujahid brothers in Iraq, who are the hope and pride of the Ummah, must develop what their brothers arrived at an complete and finish it, and not allow it to be detracted from, criticized or mocked," he states. "They know that the Islamic State of Iraq is the primary force involved in confronting the Crusader-Zionist aggression against Iraq, and this demands that they cooperate with it, guide it and be honest with it like a concerned and sympathetic brother. In the same way, our beloved brothers in the Islamic State of Iraq (may Allah help and protect it and grant it victory) must open their hearts to their brothers, and rush to them and be concerned for them, and everyone must humble themselves before their believing brothers."

Most interestingly, he calls upon the Iraqi Sunni militia Ansar al-Sunnah, which changed its name to Ansar al-Islam on December 7, to join the ISI, calling Ansar members "the lions of Islam in Iraq." Ansar al-Islam products, including a video and a communique, have recently appeared with top-billing on the major Jihadi Web sites - an honor reserved primarily for as-Sahab, al-Furqan and al-Fajr products.

As-Sahab's banner: A Review of Events.




[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]

December 15, 2007

2007 - The Year of the Data Breaches

It wasn't the only incident of data (in)security this past year, but it was possibly one of the worst data breaches in history. The story of the TJ Max data breach is perhaps little known by the general population, except by those who were victimized. That's reportedly near 100 million records of shoppers who used their credit cards last year at those stores. Even with its satirical tone, Chief Security Officer magazine rated this the worst of the worst of the 2007 data security breaches.

The TJX Companies, a large retailer that operates over 2,000 retail stores under brands such as Bob's Stores, HomeGoods, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and A.J. Wright said on Wednesday that it suffered a massive computer breach on a portion of its network that handles credit card, debit card, check, and merchandise transactions in the U.S. and abroad.

Certainly, at the time, the press was full of stories about the breach and its potential impact. But what is now being disclosed is that the TJ Max people may have known about the data breach as much as two months earlier than they've let on. Some reports now suggest that TJX learned of its massive data breach on Oct 3, 2006, more than two months earlier than it told the government it first learned of the breach, according to an attorney representing one of the banks suing the retail chain. The time lapse is attributed to the "planning" of the announcement and to the fixes that were to be put in place.

A presentation I attended on cyber security a few weeks ago emphasized the TJ Max data breach. But it's not just TJ Max and credit card information that gets stolen. In 2007, there were numerous other reports of data breaches at federal agencies, at universities and at businesses. The FTC website, Dealing with a Data Breach - Deter, Detect, Defend - Avoid ID Theft gives a good overview of steps to be taken.

It is also reported that as many as a half a million database servers aren't protected by firewalls, security experts contend the findings constitute a call to action for security pros and database administrators everywhere.

As we enter the final stages of the Holiday on-line purchasing season, cyber security is more important than ever. Cyber security starts right at home with your own computer. It starts with maintaining security on your own business computers. It's not just having an anti-virus/anti-phishing software program on your systems. It's not just having a firewall on your servers or personal computer. It also includes password security. Is your password a static and reusable one, or is it one-time and dynamic? Hopefully, you aren't one of the people who use Post-It Notes to write your passwords. Even moreso, hopefully, you haven't a file on your computer listing all of your key passwords.

One of your New Years resolutions should be evaluating your computer and data security and making changes and upgrades.

EU's Treaty of Lisbon Usurps Democracy

Even though European voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposed EU Constitution two years ago, it simply doesn't seem to matter. The Washington Post reports that E.U. leaders have endorsed a new Charter, one that bypasses referendum and institutes the changes rejected by the people essentially through governmental fiat.

European leaders on Thursday signed a new treaty intended to revitalize efforts to build a more united and powerful European Union, replacing a proposed constitution rejected by many voters two years ago with a document that in most member countries will never go before the public.

The 175-page Treaty of Lisbon incorporates most of the proposed changes and language of the failed constitution, but does so through a series of amendments to existing laws and treaties that can be approved by governments and legislatures without being put to voters. Only one of the 27 member countries, Ireland, plans to hold a referendum on the treaty.

The document calls for creating a permanent post of president, which an individual would hold for 2 1/2 years, and junking the current six-month presidency that rotates among member governments. It removes references to a European flag, anthem and other symbols that many people found an affront to national identity.

We at ThreatsWatch stress often the importance of establishing liberty before democracy in developing free states. Yet through the governmental ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon, the state governments within the European Union are demonstrating that, when it comes to the power of government and the ambitions of those entrusted with its responsible application, there are apparently times when neither liberty nor democracy must be permitted to stand in the way.

"It's a willful attempt to mislead the public," said Neil O'Brien, director of Open Europe, a London-based group that is fighting for greater openness, flexibility and accountability in European institutions.

He cited a poll the group commissioned in March showing that 75 percent of people surveyed across Europe, including a majority in all 27 E.U. countries, wanted a referendum on any new treaty that gives more power to the E.U.

An analysis of the treaty by Open Europe found that "96 percent of it is a word-for-word carbon copy" of the rejected constitution. "This is a deeply dishonest process," the group alleged.

And unless the analysis of the treaty is false and the 96% figure grossly inaccurate, there's little other conclusion to be drawn.

Open Europe's March 2007 poll demonstrates overwhelming opposition throughout Europe and is generally consistent with the official referendum vote results from two years ago.

December 14, 2007

Zawahiri: Annapolis, the Betrayal

Ayman al-Zawahiri, the operations chief of al-Qaeda, has released a new audio message produced by as-Sahab Media and distributed online through the al-Fajr Media Center. The message, titled "Annapolis, the Betrayal," is Zawahiri's 13th appearance in 2007 and the 93rd propaganda product released by as-Sahab, al-Qaeda's central media wing, this year.

The 20-minute speech was released as both a Real Media video file, which contained stills of Zawahiri and news photos from the November 27 Middle East peace conference held in Annapolis, and as a MP3 audio file. The still of Zawahiri appears to be taken from an upcoming as-Sahab "interview" video that was announced today. Although some of Zawahiri's speeches have been subtitled in English and Urdu, "Annapolis, the Betrayal" does not carry subtitles, which is not unexpected since the message targets Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa.

Banner for upcoming interview with al-Zawahiri.Zawahiri's message is strategic in nature and accuses the 16 Arab participants of the Annapolis conference and also the Arab League of betraying Palestine. "The Annapolis meeting was held to turn Palestine into a Jewish state," he says.

"The czar of Washington invited 16 Arab countries... to sit in one room, at one table with the Israelis... (and) witnessed the betrayal deals to sell Palestine." After calling upon Palestinians to not lose sight of the goal "to liberate every inch of Muslim land," Zawahiri turns to Egypt and rails against Sayyed Imam al-Sharif, a leading jihadi militant who last month recanted while in prison. Quoting Malcolm X he states that Islam must be defended against unbelief and then paints the Liberal Islam movement as a creation of the United States. "Those revisionists (including Sayyed Imam)," he says, "are in fact calling for a new American religion that violates God's rules." Finally, Zawahiri discusses Algeria, reminding Algerian listeners that it sent representatives to the Annapolis conference, and then concludes with a shout-out to al-Qaeda's other theaters, including Andalusia, Sebta, Melilla, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, Jerusalem, Haifa, Um Rashrash, Baghdad, Kabul, and Kashmir and Grozny."

The message was produced in two file formats, zipped in RAR format and seeded across a total of 221 free file transfer sites on December 13, including cocoshare.cc, megaupload.com, savefile.info, 4filehosting.com, zshare.net, archive.org, rapidshare.com, maxishare.net, upitus.com, picshome.com, fastuploading.com, netload.in, archiv.to, mercuryupload.com, egoshare.com, filefactory.com, badongo.com, primeupload.com, youploadit.com, viprasys.com, and uploadpower.com.

Following standard operational security, the RAR files are protected with the randomly-generated password "sfhh&*(ljfjio$hdflujm@984Hfgldoi$%0s."

File Name Format Size (MB) Seeds
nadfv.rar MPEG 49.4 81
na4dfv.rar MP3 2.34 140

Although the audio appears to have been recorded last month, the system stamp on the video itself, however, shows that it was last modified on December 13.

A 50 Hz hum between 17:10 and 18:04 in the recording suggests that Zawahiri was brought back to rerecord part of the speech at a later date and was recorded with a poorly grounded laptop. If this is the case, his speeches are very likely carefully written and edited - and possibly revised by al-Qaeda's media council. Zawahiri's response time to current events has recently decreased to as little as 48 hours, however, there is no mention of the December 11 double-bombing in Algiers in this latest speech. The release also lacks the usual 48-72 hour advance warning given to users on the main jihadi forums. While purely speculative, it is possible that the product's production and release was delayed in order for Zawahiri to rerecord part of the speech.

As-Sahab's banner: Annapolis, the Betrayal.




[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]

Fighting in Congo Threatens Great Lakes Region

A country long plagued with violence, the Democratic Republic of Congo, has witnessed an upsurge in fighting between government forces of the Congolese Army and those of rogue General Laurent Nkunda which has unleashed a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. In something out of the history of the Roman Empire, Nkunda, who claims to be protecting his fellow Tutsis against Rwandan Hutu groups, has refused to integrate his forces into the Congolese Army, precipitating a series of clashes that threaten to bring the neighboring nations of Burundi, Uganda, and Rwanda into the fray. Congolese government forces recently launched an offensive against Nkunda in the eastern DR Congo province of North Kivu. Though the Congolese initially made strides, Nkunda’s forces have counterattacked, retaking areas previously captured by the government. As reported by the New York Times, this back and forth fighting has resulted in massive refugee flows:

Today in Goma, clinics are packed with spindly children so malnourished they must be fed through a tube. Outside the city, ragtag camps have sprung up, and more than 800,000 people are now displaced in the region. On the road between Sake and Goma, a panorama of misery unfolded mile after mile, as families trudged in search of sanctuary. Many slept in the open by the side of the road, shivering through a frigid night.

Meanwhile, peacekeeping forces of the United Nations Mission in DR Congo (MONUC) have pledged to defend the town of Sake against Nkunda’s advancing forces. According to AFP:

The UN mission to the DR Congo, MONUC, has reinforced its troops in the region and has vowed not to lose Sake to Nkunda's forces if they move on the town.

Early Wedesday, a MONUC spokesman said the area around Sake was calm after some sporadic gunfire overnight.

"The situation is unchanged in Sake. MONUC is controlling the town," said Major Prem Tiwari, the UN mission's military spokesman in Nord-Kivu province.

"We have reinforced our positions. We won't let this town fall into the hands of Nkunda's troops."

Nkunda’s spokesman has called for negotiations with the Congolese government and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern over the situation, but one can be sure that no matter which way the tide of the conflict shifts, the civilians caught in between will suffer the most.

As-Sahab: Shelling a British Base in Helmand Province

As-Sahab, al-Qaeda's central media wing, released its 92nd video this year and the 49th installment of "American Holocaust/Hell for the Americans in the Land of Khorasan (Islamic Emirate)" December 12 on the main al-Qaeda message forums. The video, which is billed as "Shelling a British base with 82 mm mortars in Helmand province (including impacts)," lasts a total of 3 minutes and 19 seconds and features footage of a Taliban mortar attack.

It was posted in 3 video formats and 3 different file sizes and seeded across a total of 364 free file transfer sites on December 12, including filefactory.com, cocoshare.cc, savefile.info, 4filehosting.com, rapidshare.com, megaupload.com, uploadpalace.com, archive.org, zshare.net, upitus.com, picshome.com, fastuploading.com, badongo.com, primeupload.com, youploadit.com, maxishare.net, theonlinedatastorage.com, viprasys.com, and uploadpower.com. Some of the seeds are stamped with "mirrorit.de," a Web site that facilitates three uploads at once.


File Name Format Size (MB) Seeds
7.rar MPEG 96.3 81
7w.rar RM 14.8 120
7mm.rar RM 2.34 93
7g3.rar 3GP 1.2 70

The video itself, however, was last modified on November 5. Following standard operational security, the files are zipped in the RAR format and protected with the randomly-generated password "km&h6s#nk,srg5T!^vj*GFgvftd#5zak."

As-Sahab's banner for American Holocaust: Shelling a British base.





[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]

December 12, 2007

Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program Dispersed, Not Halted

Iranian dissident Alireza Jafarzadeh, the man who exposed the clandestine Iranian nuclear weapons program in late 2002 says that Iran's top commanders are nuclear weapons scientists and maintains that the Iranian nuclear weapons program has not been halted, but rather, dispersed.

Jafarzadeh said the 2003 decision to stop the weaponization program, which was operating in Lavizan-Shian, a posh northeast district of Tehran, was not Iran's own. The site had been exposed by the opposition, the National Council of Resistance on Iran, in April 2003 after revelations of several other nuclear sites that could be portrayed as dual purpose facilities. Lavizan-Shian could not, he said.

"The regime knew that this is not the site that they can invite the IAEA ... this site was heavily involved in militarization of the program," Jafarzadeh said. "They were doing all kinds of activities that were not justifiable. So they decided before the IAEA gets in — and it usually takes four to six months before they can go through the process and get in — use the time and try to basically destroy this whole facility, and that's what they did."

Jafarzadeh said the Iranians razed the buildings, removed the soil, cut down the trees and allowed the IAEA to inspect the Lavizan-Shian site, which had been turned into a park by June 2004. He noted that the regime acted as if it had succumbed to municipal pressure to open a park with basketball and tennis courts and that is why the area had been flattened.

Jafarzadeh said that "in a way it's correct for the NIE to say that in late 2003 the weaponization of the program was stopped, and they said it was due to international pressure. But they failed to say that it restarted in 2004" in a location called Lavizan 2, he said.

Lavizan 2 "has never been inspected by the IAEA," Jafarzadeh added.

Jafrazadeh's information has proven to be reliable. While the National Council of Resistance on Iran has its own (MEK) agenda, Jafrazadeh's information on the Iranian nuclear program has rarely - if ever - failed to stand the tests of time and scrutiny.

Note to Readers: Alireza Jafarzadeh spoke to ThreatsWatch in a conversation with Nick Grace and Sasha Eckstein on the issue on Global Crisis Watch: November 12, 2007, just before the latest NIE was released. (Fast forward to 3rd segment of 3, beginning at 23:50.)

Longtime ThreatsWatch readers will remember well the Lavizan facility razing (with side-by-side image comparison.) From our April 2006 glimpse, a brief summary of the sequence of events.

The IAEA learns of the site. Iran razes the site (including trees). ElBaredei questions the facility on paper. Iran explains on paper. ElBaredei accepts on paper. ElBaredei requests inspection on paper. Iran ignores altogether. The End.

We doubted ElBaradei's Tehran trip planned soon after the above observations.

Not sure, though, what the Vegas line is on ElBaredei actually satisfactorily resolving any of them with his reported trip to Tehran next week. The over-under should start at ‘Zero’.

But, to be rather direct, it does not take a rocket scientist to predict IAEA non-resolution of a critical issue nor to forecast non-discovery. Not then, and certainly not today.

While I am not a fan of the MEK (I fail to see the wisdom of supporting replacing a theocratic mullah regime with a Marxist one) I nonetheless give much credence to Alireza Jafarzadeh's information and analysis. So, too, does our professional intelligence community. So, too, should the American public.

December 11, 2007

Wisdom And Foolishness: Brits to Negotiate With Taliban

Within minutes of watching Victor Davis Hanson impart wisdom on the Iraq War, I am confronted with foolishness as news breaks that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will soon announce that he will begin negotiations with the Taliban, suing for peace in Afghanistan.

The change of tack will be seen as the latest attempt by the prime minister to distance himself from the foreign policy of Tony Blair and his ally George Bush.

In a landmark statement in the Commons he will say that the Cabinet has agreed a three pronged strategy for Afghanistan which will security guaranteed by NATO and the Afghan national army followed by economic and political development in the country.

The third prong of the plan is likely to be most controversial - to engage Taliban leaders in constructive dialogue.

A senior source said last night: "We need to ask who are we fighting? Do we need to fight them - can we be talking to them?"

This is a stunning development. Beyond the incongruity of beginning negotiations with an enemy the British government is reminding it does not know, the first two 'prongs' of the 'new' British plan are already in place. One could argue that more development needs to be done, but one could also argue that many European members of NATO may consider a more pro-active and less combat-averse deployment posture as well.

The only thing that is 'new' is the British objective to sue the Taliban for peace.

More thoughts on this here.

The as-Sahab al-Qaeda propaganda machine is now spinning at full velocity, we are quite sure. The next al-Qaeda message will look to hit Brown's move out of the park, especially when one considers bin Laden's recent reference to Russian futility in his November message to Europe.

Al-Qaeda Claims Responsibility for Algiers Attacks

A communique posted on the major Jihadist message boards by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for the twin suicide bombings that took place in Algiers earlier today. The attacks struck the United Nations headquarters in Algiers and the Algeria Constitutional Council building and, the statement indicates, are part of an ongoing terror campaign on the eve of Eid al-Adha called "The Attack of the Martyr Yahya Abu al-Haitham." The attacks killed 67 people.

Logo of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic MaghrebThe online communique, which was distributed as a Microsoft Word document, features the photographs of the two suicide bombers and gives their names as Ibrahim Abu Uthman and Abdul Rahman Abu Abdul Nasser Al-A’assemi. The photographs appear to be stills from unreleased martyrdom statements.

"The heroic martyr Ibrahim Abu Uthman," the communique states, "drove his truck filled with no less than 800 kg of explosives to the headquarters of the United Nations... broke through the numerous fortifications... and detonated his truck, destroying the building and at least 60 killed and scores wounded in the ranks of the Crusaders and apostates."

"Heroic martyr Abdul Rahman Abu Abdul Nasser Al-A’assemi," the statement continues, "received his truck filled with no less than 800 kg of explosives, at the same time stormed the Constitutional Council building, near the headquarters of the Graduate School of the secret police, and resulted in the explosion that, according to our sources, destroyed a large part of the building, thankfully, killed at least 50 and scores wounded in the ranks of apostates."

Photo of Ibrahim Abu Uthman   Photo of Abdul Rahman Abu Abdul Nasser Al-A&#8217;assemi

Ibrahim Abu Uthman

 

Abdul Rahman Abu Abdul Nasser Al-A’assemi

The statement also declares responsiblity for an attack on a military airport in Jant city led by "Commander Yahya Abu Ammar" that destroyed 3 military aircraft on November 8 and a double-bomb attack "under the command of Abu Asim Hayyan" on a Stroitransgaz Company motorcade on December 8 that "wounded and killed an unknown number of Russian troops and )Algerian) gendarmes."

Addressing "the infidels and renegades," AQIM declares that the ongoing terror campaign "demolishes the myth" that the group is weak and without strong leadership. It states that the "crusader occupiers of our homes and looters of our wealth should listen well to the demands of Sheikh Usama bin Laden" and that the mujahideen are racing to liberate "every inch of the land of Islam."

The campaign is named after AQIM commander Yahya Abu al-Haitham who was killed while trying to penetrate a roadblock on November 16 between the towns of Zazqa and Tizi Ouzou, 120 km (75 miles) east of Algiers.

December 10, 2007

Al-Furqan: IED Targeting American Humvee

Al-Furqan, the media wing of al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), released a new video today, December 10, through the al-Fajr Media Center. The video, called "IED targeting an American Humvee in Hor Rajab, south-west of Baghdad," is part of the ongoing ISI propaganda series "Hell of the Romans and Apostates in the Land of Mesopotamia." The video is the sixth product produced by al-Furqan since November 24.

The video was released in three file sizes and two formats across a total of 366 file transfer Web sites, including filefactory.com, depositfiles.com, badongo.com, cocoshare.cc, megaupload.com, rapidshare.com, savefile.info, 4filehosting.com, zshare.net, primeupload.com, youploadit.com, maxishare.net, upitus.com, uploadpalace.com, picshome.com, fastuploading.com, theonlinedatastorage.com, archive.org, viprasys.com, uploadpower.com, netload.in, archiv.to, uploadpak3.com, mercuryupload.com, egoshare.com, and uploadcomet.com. Two of the 9.3 MB high-quality files were posted as compressed RAR files. The video, itself, was last modified on December 9.

File Name MB Seeds
1as.rmvb
1as.rar
1a_2.rar
9.3 175
13d.rmvb 2.9 109
13s.3gp .5 82

Al-Furqan, al-Qaeda's media network inside Iraq, has been heavily targeted by coalition forces since the surge peaked in June. Its operations in Mosul were dismantled over the Summer and in the past week nearly 30 of its operatives in Samarra have been killed and captured by coalition forces. Al-Furqan perviously maintained a large output of propaganda products but it practically went silent between September and late November. The sudden appearance of video releases suggests a renewed effort by al-Qaeda to dominate the market of operations videos produced on a daily basis in Iraq.

Underscoring the importance of propaganda for al-Qaeda's current strategy in Iraq, al-Furqan designed and developed two logos for the Ghazw military campaign announced by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the notional leader of the ISI, on December 3. The logos, which are posted on the major jihadi Web forum on the Internet, are reproduced below.

First Ghazw campaign banner   Second Ghazw campaign banner

IED targeting an American Humvee in Hor Rajab.

Warning: Video contains graphic scenes.





[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages, such as this one, contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]

AFRICOM War Game a Taste of Things to Come

The Daily Press, a local newspaper based in Newport News, Virginia, is reporting on a war game that took place at a Lockheed Martin facility in neighboring Suffolk, Virginia. The exercise, hosted by Joint Forces Command, was an effort to simulate how AFRICOM would respond in a crisis situation, especially in light of AFRICOM’s unconventional structure that blends military and civilian elements. The scenario was outlined as follows:

It's 2013 in the west African nation of Guinea. There's a new government in power, and rumors of the deadly avian flu in neighboring countries have sent a massive number of refugees over the border.

Villagers are making demands on the government for basic human services, and terrorist groups are taking advantage of the problems and working their way across the border.

Looking for help, government officials in Guinea reach out to the international community, including the United States. U.S. officials turn to the Defense Department's new Africa Command.

Though no information was provided on whether the simulation was considered a success, it appears that this exercise made a good start in working out some of the kinks of AFRICOM and its unique framework with a civilian deputy commander for civil-military affairs. The five day exercise operated on the assumption that the civilian deputy, currently Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates, would direct the response in the situation, likely due to its non-military nature.

Quds Force Draft Resolution Calls for Iran Sanctions

While the world obsesses on Iran's nuclear program, a draft resolution was submitted to the UN Security Council calling for sanctions in response to Iranian Quds Force terror operations.

The proposal specifically designates the Quds Force, the foreign operations branch of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, for exporting arms prohibited under previous resolutions and proliferation activities. It is highly unusual for the world body to sanction the military wing of a member state, officials say. The proposed measure would freeze any of its assets abroad, make business dealings with it illegal, and isolate it financially, they add.

The Quds Force numbers up to 15,000 and runs Tehran's covert activities, including arms, aid and training for groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and Iraq's Shiite militias, U.S. and European officials say.

Outside Turtle Bay, the Question and Answer session has already commenced.

Any Questions?

Iran Still A Threat - Remember Terrorism and Dead US Soldiers?

In case you missed it last week, a very informative feature from the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute for International Studies, Iran's Nuclear Program Remains Threat Despite Freeze. Zipping to the opening graph from its conclusions:

What comes next? Since Ahmadinejad took office, Iran has reversed key decisions of his predecessors to suspend uranium enrichment work at Natanz and to expand IAEA inspection rights. Will he also oppose continuing the halt on weaponization work? With the IAEA restricted and the United States, according to a senior Israeli official, having lost its crucial source of information on the weaponization effort, he may well believe these activities can be restarted without detection.

And let's not forget that Iran is a threat primarily for its sponsorship and execution of terrorist activities, including being responsible for 10% of US casualties in Iraq through its EFP's alone. This does not include Iranian enabled non-EFP attacks and resultant casualties. ThreatsWatch is assured by intelligence sources that the Iranians are responsible for more than 10% of US casualties all told.

Unfortunately, the NIE and the reporting that accompanied its release tends to diminish or obscure this simple non-nuclear fact.

December 9, 2007

A Growing Problem - China's Control of Pharmaceuticals and Ingredients

You can add to the growing list of threats to our National security from China the fact that Chinese companies dominate the production of antibiotics and hold major share of the worldwide sales of many vitamins, antibiotics, enzymes, and painkillers. So, there is more to the "China problem" than just the cyber attacks on Oak Ridge National Laboratory, theft of intellectual property or the sale of restricted technologies, or the sale of tainted toothpaste, toxic toys and tainted pet food, all from China.

Aside from the National security aspect of this, China's drug manufacturing industry is characterized by the lax manufacturing standards, controls or enforcement, and corruption. Yet, in the last five years, Chinese pharamceutical exports to the United States have doubled (China’s $65 billion pharmaceutical industry is growing at an annual growth rate of 24 percent in the first eight months of 2007). The U.S. has licensed over 700 manufacturing plants in China that make ingredients for such products as vitamins, antibiotics, enzymes and painkillers (China makes 1/3 of the world’s acetaminophen).

Another example is Cipro Among the critical areas of concern is that Chinese companies now control key ingredients of Cipro (used to counter exposure to Anthrax and previously protected by patents until 2004) and doxycycline. These key ingredients are now produced generically in China and India with limited oversight from the FDA.

With all of the concern over the cost of pharmaceutical products, there has been an on-going debate about drug importation. People travel to Canada and Mexico to buy cheap drugs and generic versions of well-known brands. The problem is that without FDA oversight, quality, as well as authenticity of the products and their ingredients themselves, is a serious concern. Each year since 2003, awareness of the threats posed by counterfeit or low quality drugs has risen. The World Health Organization estimates that counterfeit drugs represent $75 billion globally in 2010, an increase of more than 90% from 2005. That doesn't include products that are manufactured below established standards of quality and therefore dangerous to patients’ health and ineffective for the treatment of diseases.

The health and safety of the American patient is weighed against the cost of pharmaceutical products. We face a growing crisis. China is just a part of it the problem.

December 8, 2007

Night Vision Goggles - Chinese Industrial Espionage Case

The threat posed by China goes beyond their reported involvement in the recent cyber attacks against Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Their role in economic espionage was discussed here a few weeks ago by Steve Schippert (Chinese Industrial Espionage: Major Economic Security Threat). The aggressive Chinese economic espionage effort mounted by Chinese intelligence agencies is illlustrated by the announcement by U.S. Attorney Scott N. Schools in the Northern District of California earlier this week that Philip Cheng had been sentenced to two years in prison and fined $50,000 for his part in brokering the illegal export of a night vision camera and its accompanying technology to China.

Cheng had pleaded guilty on October 31 to charges that without authorization from the Department of State for selling the Panther series infra-red camera. Indicted along with Cheng was the owner of Night Vision Technology of Cupertino California, Martin Shih (Shih died after being indicted).

Shih's company designed and made military-application devices that use infrared technology to enhance night vision. Cheng established a separate technology-transfer company with the intention of producing the camera in China, court records show.

Cheng was reported to be aware of the export control restrictions but ignored them, even admitting that he was “probably wrong” in transferring a Panther I camera. While China is the most visible and recent national perpetrator of industrial espionage, other countries like Russia, France and Israel have in the past been active as well. Generally, the F.B.I. is responsible for the investigation into this area. The entire issue of sensitive technology is one that involves many questions of proper sale of technology, and it isn't limited to the obvious night vision goggle case described here. It involves software, algorithms, new materials and more.

When Criticism Celebrates Iran's 'Victory'

From the UK's The Guardian is a dripping commentary that gets the pass as a news article. Championing and cheering openly December NIE co-author Thomas Fingar, 'Intelligence expert who rewrote book on Iran' stands as an assault on logic and should stand also as an embarrassment to objective reporting. Addressing the latter, the opening paragraphs aptly set the tone.

But the wheels come off - in a simply stunning and seemingly suicidal cheer - later in the piece.

Joseph Cirincione, author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons, also welcomed the report, saying: "What is happening is that foreign policy has swung back to the grown-ups. We are watching the collapse of the Bush doctrine in real time. The neoconservatives are howling because they know their influence is waning."

The report is a disaster for Bush's Iranian policy. Although he still refuses to take the military option off the table, it is harder to give the order to go to war. It also makes it harder for the US to persuade Russia and China to back tougher economic sanctions against Iran.

It's fine to disagree with the Bush Administration and even acceptable to relish (in a commentary) when its policy directions take hits.

But to applaud the severely reduced ability to even impose sanctions on the world's foremost state sponsor of terrorism?

This is simply unintelligent and nihilistic. Perhaps the most stunning disconnection from reality I have read in the plethora of reporting and assessments this week on the NIE. Simply stunning.

NOTE: Apparently Ewin MacAskill's Guardian piece linked above did not quite get enough play in its first run. The text was originally published as 'news' on Friday under a different headline and re-published Saturday under a different headline but unaltered text. Below are both headlines and subtitles in the order of release.

'Tensions in the Bush administration and intelligence communities are exposed by the US report on Iran's nuclear weapons programme'
The US intelligence report on Iran's nuclear programme 'swings foreign policy back to the grown-ups' from the neo-cons

'Intelligence expert who rewrote book on Iran'
Report has torpedoed plans for military action and brought 'howls' from neocons

Omestad on NIE: A Level Approach

Regardless of the politicizing tone and direction of the MSNBC host's questions and the wording of the lower third banner directing attention to the President rather than the Iranian program, US News and World Report's Thomas Omestad delivers a level assessment of the NIE and its impact.

It is impossible to disagree with Omestad's China reference, as the NIE has given China (and others) an easy out to escape their reluctant support for Iran sanctions. I said as much yesterday as well, and included with China Russia, IAEA Director ElBaradei and, of course, Iran at National Review Online yesterday.

The short-sightedness of this NIE - particularly in making it public - is precisely the evaporation of any Chinese and Russian support for sanctions - the kind of diplomatic pressure the NIE itself credits with what they describe as Iran's decision to cease its nuclear weapons program.

Does anyone remember the surprise Iranian IRGC officer who was captured or defected in Turkey last year? And the firing of Larijani as Iran's chief nuclear negotiator? And Ahmadinejad's recent not-so-empty threats aimed at "traitors" who betray the Iranian nuclear program?

I do. And I wondered then as I wonder now if that defector was not a counter-intel move by Iran, and if that defector was not the source of the NIE data in question.

Somewhere, there is a fine spy novel in all of this. The question is, how far would it be from fiction to history using the points thus far to construct?

December 7, 2007

More on The Vice List Symposium

In the latest FrontPage Magazine symposium, "The Mullah's Vice List," Steve Schippert, Dr. Nancy Kobrin and Robert Spencer were set to discuss the Iranian regime's most recent attempt to reassert their authority, as defenders of the faith, over the Iranian people. Each of the participants, and Jamie Glazov, FrontPage's moderator for the symposium, appear to agree that the "vice list" is a bad thing for the Iranian people - women in particular bearing the brunt of its restrictions.

I'm absolutely certain that Steve was completely earnest when he noted Dr. Kobrin's lumping all Shi'a in with the terrorism-sponsoring, bigoted warmongers ruling Iran when she stated that the "potential for political violence arising out of the nuclear agenda of the Shia repeats the pattern of getting away with murder literally." Reading the symposium, I expected Dr. Kobrin to clarify her statement, as Steve had clearly expected. In a manner of speaking, she did. She stated that "I do believe that the Shia ummah needs to be held accountable for being passive aggressive and letting the mullacracy be the carrier of their unspoken rage." Which was later followed by statements that Muslim women are so "traumatized and terrified that many don't even know it." And that was followed by the suggestion that Steve was "scolding" them (as Spencer called it) as a "strategy to deflect away from one's self, feelings of inadequacy masking – believe it or not -- terrors."

Dr. Kobrin is right to oppose the many practices found in Muslim homes and societies that result in the abuse of women and children, and the general suppression of liberty and self-determination. But she is most definitely wrong to attribute those errors to all who share the same religious affiliation - in its many varieties and highly personalized implementations.

Spencer took issue with Steve's response because Spencer was discussing "traditional Islamic law," and Steve brought up "'traditional' Muslim families." This is followed by Glazov's disappointment that Steve, a practicing Catholic, didn't acknowledge Spencer's "outline of what Islamic law is and how it is followed by its practitioners."

Both Spencer and Glazov failed to recognize Steve's intent. In my reading and re-reading of the symposium it is clear that Steve wanted - as he has done here at ThreatsWatch - to maintain a level of discourse that avoided the potential for misrepresentation or misunderstanding by the many Muslims who are neither jihadiyun nor inclined to the authoritarian interpretation of the faith currently ruling Iran.

Neither Spencer nor Glazov are unintelligent, both are clearly passionate defenders of the principles which underpin our nation and society, and both are passionately engaged in efforts to confront what is likely to be the greatest threat we will face over the next few decades. Yet neither was willing to recognize that it is often more than the words chosen and their literal meaning that is heard or understood.

Spencer is most likely correct more often than not with respect to the letter of the law. However, Islam, like all religions, is more than its dogma and more than the letter of its scripture. Steve Schippert knows that which he is qualified to speak on and that which he isn't. Because of this he didn't speak on the specifics Spencer offered but rather on the larger spirit of Spencer's words in this case. And, he agreed that the jihadiya and the theological views of the Iranian regime's leaders were abhorrent and should be opposed directly.

For some it appears, that is not enough of an agreement.

My experience is that Steve's approach - and his understanding - is much more conducive to including Muslim's in the fight against the various evils born of particular interpretations of the letter of Islam's sacred text. Those who have used the letter of the law to bring about a false understanding of the concept of tawhid, and of the necessity of jihad, or of the manner in which a husband and wife relate, are given strength by the silence of other Muslims. This is certainly the case.

Yet, Spencer believes that by focusing his efforts on the legal underpinnings that are used to support the extremist views he will somehow enable the moderate Muslim to stand against them. Spencer's words aren't used in the local mosque or in the discussions at the international market as evidence of the extremists failings. Instead they are used to show how non-Muslims are opposed to Islam. When the Imam wants to note the failings of the jihadiyun - he is well armed with both the letter of the law, and the spirit of its teachings to do so.

Moderate Islam for many means an altered Islam. For some, an Islam without the Sunnah, for others an Islam without any legal or political role. And for others, an Islam re-worked to meet the needs of a more integrated world. For most Muslims - and for those who recognize that it is the departure from the norm that results in terrorism, oppression and authoritarian regimes under the banner of Islam - moderate Islam is what they live.

RE: Jihad Watch: Schippert strikes back!

Robert Spencer responds with Schippert strikes back! at his site, Jihad Watch.

But as far as I am concerned, I articulated it several times during our exchange, linked above: Islamic law teaches certain things, and indeed all the schools are unanimous about certain issues. But when I say that, Mr. Schippert and others like him seem to haer me saying that all Muslims believe a certain way or act a certain way. They don't seem to be able to make the elementary distinction between belief and practice -- that is, between the teachings of the religion and the huge spectrum of belief, knowledge and fervor among the adherents of the religion.

It's a common problem: speak about Islamic supremacism, and people think you're saying that all Muslims are terrorists. But it really isn't a difficult distinction to make, much as it seems to elude Mr. Schippert. Taking his own words, I ask you to read the FrontPage Symposium for yourself and draw your own conclusions: am I saying that all Muslims believe or act in any particular way, or am I merely calling upon sincere Muslim reformers to acknowledge that there are elements of Islamic teaching and tradition that need reforming?

OK, let's try this again, shall we?

I have not responded - at FrontPage nor here - to what Mr. Spencer articulated or attempted to articulate in any type of line item objection. In fact, on many items we agree. Take for instance the practice of female genital mutilation.

The point I am capable of articulating is that those he says he is trying to reach - "calling upon sincere Muslim reformers" - never get far enough through his writings to see this, as he says he intends.

And that is because of his tone. How many Muslims have commented on his extensive writings at Jihad Watch and said, "You know what, sir, you have a point." I've never attempted to add them up myself, but the number is probably akin to the number of snowballs in the Mojave.

He called the symposium "the dialogue of the deaf" because he still insists that I just don't get what he was trying to say, yet in the same breath questioned his own writing and articulation skills.

So it stands to reason that if Robert Spencer is indeed "calling upon sincere Muslim reformers," he is failing quite miserably to achieve this vital mission as he states it.

He reaches quite a few non-Muslims, to be sure. At the end of the day, it just doesn't matter what non-Muslims Robert Spencer or Steve Schippert think about Islam. It matters what Muslims think about Islam.

Mr. Spencer is spending a fair amount of energy to convince me that I have misunderstood his points and misinterpreted things he did not intend. If indeed I - a practicing Catholic - have done so, what do you suppose a practicing Muslim might misinterpret or misunderstand in what you write, Mr. Spencer?

So while Mr. Spencer did "readily admit that I may be a very poor writer, and just haven't managed to articulate what I mean properly," if his intent is to "call upon sincere Muslim reformers," I would suggest that he, as an intelligent man, address his self-perception as a "very poor writer" and find a way to "manage to articulate" what he means.

For starters, he can stop pontificating to me about what I do or do not understand about what he said in the symposium. He should instead worry about what sincere Muslim reformers - his stated target audience - do or do not understand about what he has written.

And with that, I am done.

Locking Horns in Debate: The 'Vice List' Symposium

Over at FrontPage Magazine, I participated in a Symposium on The Iranian Mullahs’ “Vice List” with Robert Spencer and Dr. Nancy Kobrin. It got a little hot in the exchange and we at times seemed arguing apples and oranges.

At Jihad Watch, Robert Spencer complains that "for the umpteenth time someone assumes I am saying something that I am not saying."

Now, why is that? Could it be the crux of my entire argument and sole point throughout: Tone?

Look, there is no question that there must be reform from within Islam and the faith repossessed from the jihadiyun interpretations and narrative, among other things. But it must come from within.

And there are over 1 billion Muslims in the world. If the reasonable among the ummah are to feel encouraged and emboldened to take the initiative of any reform, feeling the pointy finger of Western non-believers - such as myself and Robert Spencer - on their chests is not going to inspire them to agree with us but rather to disagree and part us even further. And that lands us dangerously closer to what bin Laden, Ahmadinejad and the rest want to create: A true war between all Muslims and all non-Muslims.

At the end of the day, with respect to the argument that took place at FrontPage, Robert Spencer today makes my point for me with his own words. When he says "for the umpteenth time someone assumes I am saying something that I am not saying," if so often people are assuming something that he is indeed not saying, there is a distinct pattern of miscommunication.

Spencer himself acknowledges a trend. With all due respect to Mr. Spencer, are the "umpteen" consistently misinterpreting him because they are all dolts, or is it perhaps that Mr. Spencer is failing to articulate what he is indeed trying to say? Is his tone perhaps causing misperception?

In business, if the employees are all misunderstanding your direction, is the most effective corrective measure to berate the employees or to adjust the delivery? For at the end of the day, what matters is that the employees understand the directions or requests, not that the employer bends the employees to understand his language. Results matter.

Sadly, I expected the discussion on Iran's 'Vice List' to descend into an "everything that is wrong with Islam" discussion. It did that in short order.

Read the FrontPage Symposium for yourself and draw your own conclusions on whether I am an apologist for radical Islam or Mr. Spencer's tone pushes away otherwise reasonable Muslims from its outset.

More Peacekeepers for Somalia?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in the midst of her stop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city, is urging for other nations to contribute peacekeeping forces for the mission in Somalia. She has also come out against any resumption of hostilities between Eritrea and Ethiopia. As reported by CNN:

“We do believe the Ethiopian forces should not have to stay in Somalia past a certain point, and that will require peacekeeping forces, very robust peacekeeping force, and so that will be part of my discussions here,” Rice said.

Where exactly these peacekeepers might come from is far from clear at this juncture. Those few peacekeepers currently in Somalia have suffered attacks. Uganda has a contingent in Somalia fewer than 2,000 strong, which Adan Hashi Ayro, leader of the Shabaab, the armed wing and youth movement of the Islamic Courts Union, has pledged to destroy. Rice also urged a halt to the violence:

“A cease-fire agreement with key stakeholders, such as clan and business leaders, would be an important step in helping to facilitate delivery of humanitarian assistance, and would reduce the level of violence and create the conditions for longer term security sector reform.”

With Ayro’s assertion and the deadly track record of peacekeepers in Somalia in the past, one wonders what country would be willing to insert its forces into the midst of an Iraq-style insurgency. Despite promises to the contrary from other nations, the Ugandans are likely to be alone for the foreseeable future.

December 4, 2007

As-Sahab: Ambushing a Convoy of Apostates in Zabul

As-Sahab, al-Qaeda's central media wing, released its 91st video this year and the sixth installment of "American Holocaust/Hell for the Americans in the Land of Khorasan (Islamic Emirate)" today on the main al-Qaeda message forums. The video, which is billed as "Ambushing a Convoy of Apostates in Zabul," lasts a total of 9 minutes and 21 seconds and features footage of an attack on an Afghan government pick-up truck and lecture by a masked Taliban commander about Taliban strategy against American targets in southern Afghanistan.

It was posted in 3 video formats and 3 different file sizes and seeded across a total of 466 free file transfer sites on December 3, including cocoshare.cc, filefactory.com, hostupload.net, files.to, savefile.info, youuploadit.com, megaupload.com, rapidshare.com and archive.org. Some of the seeds are stamped with "mirrorit.de," a Web site that facilitates three uploads at once.


File Name Format Size (MB) Seeds
4.rar MPEG 274 109
4Q.rar RM 46.9 181
4V.rar RM 6.69 98
4Z.rar 3GP 2.94 78

The video itself, however, was last modified on December 2. Following standard operational security, the files are zipped in the RAR format and protected with the randomly-generated password "Z*b5td#nk,sdfvBT!h^5ZJvf5&6s#faZ."

As-Sahab's banner for American Holocaust: Ambushing a Convoy of Apostates in Zabul.

Warning: Video contains graphic scenes.





[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages, such as this one, contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]

Clash Between State and Defense on Somalia Policy

With the backdrop of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates visiting American forces in Djibouti, the Washington Post is reporting on an internal debate among administration decision makers regarding the course of American policy in Somalia and in the Horn of Africa more broadly. The violence and instability currently taking place is a major threat to the region as it may offer the possibility of al-Qaeda gaining a safe haven in Somalia. According to the report, the Pentagon is agitating toward moving to support Somaliland, the more stable northwestern portion of Somalia that declared its independence in 1991, though this has not been recognized internationally. As a contrast, the State Department supports the continued backing of the Transitional Federal Government based in Mogadishu. According to the Post:

“Somaliland is an entity that works,” a senior defense official said. “We’re caught between a rock and a hard place because they’re not a recognized state,” the official said.

The Pentagon’s view is that “Somaliland should be independent,” another defense official said. “We should build up the parts that are functional and box in” Somalia’s unstable regions, particularly around Mogadishu.

In contrast, “the State Department wants to fix the broken part first – that’s been a failed policy,” the official said.

As evidence of State’s support for the TFG, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer had this to say on November 30 regarding the Somali situation:

"On Somalia, I think that the key here is to try to provide support to the new prime minister of Somalia. This is a real opportunity for the Transitional Federal Government to retool, to, in the person of the new prime minister, try to build greater confidence, greater credibility, and to further reach out to the legitimate opposition."

With the violence in Somalia continuing and taken together with the failure of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping force to materialize in substantive numbers, support for Somaliland is worthy of further consideration.

December 3, 2007

New NIE on Iran: Answers or Questions?

The latest National Intelligence Estimate, Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities, asserts this time that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program back in 2003. A friend of mine has Five Questions Concerning the Latest NIE. I've got a few more questions, as Tom surely does too, but that will have to wait for now.

Until then, just keep in mind that NIE's can be quite bi-polar. They are not definitive Holy Scripture, whether one agrees with any particular estimate or not. Recall that one NIE asserted that al-Qaeda was not the major threat in Iraq and was subsequently supplanted by an NIE that asserted the exact opposite. NIE's are Intelligence Community turf wars battled out on paper and within rooms in usually heated debate. Eventually, one view wins out over another, often due to the weight of the individuals who hold them rather than actual accuracy of sources and information.

With that in mind, ask yourself why Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was in North Korea to watch every rogue state's weapons farm team hold an intramural scrimmage with their first nuclear bomb test detonation.

More on this NIE later.

Al-Furqan: Bomb Explosion on 3 U.S. Soldiers

Al-Furqan, the media wing of al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), released a new video today, December 3, through the al-Fajr Media Center. The video, called "Bomb Explosion on 3 U.S. Soldiers in South Baghdad," is part of the ongoing ISI propaganda series "Roman and Apostate Hell in al-Rafedain Land." The video is the fourth product produced by al-Furqan since November 24.

The video was released in three file sizes and two formats across a total of 363 file transfer Web sites, including uploaded.to, filefactory.com, badongo.com, cocoshare.cc, hostupload.net, megaupload.com, savefile.info, 4filehosting.com, rapidshare.com, maxishare.net, zshare.net, uploadpalace.com, upitus.com, archive.org, theonlinedatastorage.com, picshome.com, fastuploading.com, viprasys.com, archiv.to, netload.in, uploadpak3.com, mercuryupload.com, and uploadcomet.com.

File Name MB Seeds
1l.rmvb 17.1 165
2l.rmvb 3.66 114
3l.3gp 0.56 84

Al-Furqan, al-Qaeda's media network inside Iraq, has been heavily targeted by coalition forces since the surge peaked in June. Its operations in Mosul were dismantled over the Summer and in the past week nearly 30 of its operatives in Samarra have been killed and captured by coalition forces. Al-Furqan perviously maintained a large output of propaganda products but it practically went silent between September and late November. The sudden appearance of video releases suggests a renewed effort by al-Qaeda to dominate the market of operations videos produced on a daily basis in Iraq.

Banner for

Warning: Video contains graphic scenes.





[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages, such as this one, contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]

Rice to Addis Ababa

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, as part of recent heavy stream of American officials visiting Africa, is arriving Tuesday in Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa for two days of meetings. Rice’s schedule will be tightly packed as she seeks to address a wide-range of ongoing and potential conflicts on the African continent. It appears that Rice, in meetings with a number of African officials, will have two main priorities.

1) Address the instability in the Great Lakes region, a geographic area that includes the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya. A variety of insurgent groups are operating in the loosely governed regions of the Congo. These include the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a Hutu group fingered in the Rwandan genocide; the militia of rogue Congolese General Laurent Nkunda; and the Lord’s Resistance Army, operating against the Ugandan government.

2) Address the spiraling violence in Somalia. Rice is scheduled to meet with Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Somalia’s newly installed Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein. The meetings on this front are to also touch on the Eritrea’s role in the conflict. Finally, Rice will meet with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi regarding tensions along the shared border with Eritrea.

In other news, on November 30, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) dissolved itself. The commission outlined a border between the two countries in 2002, but no permanent agreement could be reached on the border’s status between the two countries as Ethiopia was opposed to the awarding of the town of Badme to Eritrea. The termination of the commission was deemed a potential flash point for war between Eritrea and Ethiopia as identified in the International Crisis Group’s report, “Ethiopia and Eritrea: Stopping the Slide to War,” of early last month.

December 2, 2007

Al-Furqan: Shelling the HQ of the Crusader Forces

Al-Furqan, the media wing of al-Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), released a new video on Friday, November 30, through the al-Fajr Media Center. The video, called "Shelling the HQ of the Crusader Forces with Nine 82 mm Mortars in Northern Baghdad," is part of the ongoing ISI propaganda series "Roman and Apostate Hell in al-Rafedain Land." The video is the third product produced by al-Furqan since November 24.

The video was released in three file sizes and two formats across a total of 290 file transfer Web sites, including filefactory.com, badongo.com, cocoshare.cc, megaupload.com, hostupload.net, savefile.info, zshare.net, rapidshare.com, maxishare.com, upitus.com, theonlinedatastorage.com, fastuploading.com, viprasys.com, netload.in, picshome, 4filehosting.com, and archive.org.

File Name MB Seeds
1k.rmvb 21.2 103
2k.rmvb 4.81 112
3k.3gp 0.77 75

Al-Furqan, al-Qaeda's media network inside Iraq, has been heavily targeted by coalition forces since the surge peaked in June. Its operations in Mosul were dismantled over the Summer and in the past week nearly 30 of its operatives in Samarra have been killed and captured by coalition forces. Al-Furqan perviously maintained a large output of propaganda products but it practically went silent between September and late November. The sudden appearance of video releases suggests a renewed effort by al-Qaeda to dominate the market of operational videos produced on a daily basis in Iraq.

Banner for





[Editor's Note: We have begun posting the propaganda from al-Qaeda and others for the primary purpose of informing and educating both the general public and policy makers about the level to which the enemy has actively engaged in Information Warfare. Some of the messages contain graphic content. We at ThreatsWatch post these videos as evidence of the brutal nature of the enemy we face and the clear intent they have to kill those not aligned with them. Making the public aware of the nature of the enemy - as well as the often forgotten virtues of our own nation - is one of the primary missions of ThreatsWatch and the Center for Threat Awareness.]

December 1, 2007

Hitting Iran?

ThreatsWatch's Steve Schippert took part in FrontPage Magazine's latest symposium. Along with Thomas Joscelyn, Dr. Michael A. Ledeen, Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and FrontPage's Jamie Glazov, Steve responds to the question of whether or not it's time for the US to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities.

It is an interesting and informative read. And one we highly recommend.

Kurdish North Rethinking Independence in Iraq

Appearing in the Chicago Tribune is a look at the general demeanor of Kurdish northern Iraq, where the idea of eventual independence has been no secret.

But despite their long-held aspirations toward independence, many Kurds may now be at a crossroads in their thinking. The recent threat of an incursion by Turkey in pursuit of Kurdish guerrillas has caused many here to recognize how much they need Iraq. While some of the region's leaders pushed for a more active role for the regional government in negotiating a solution, they also were forced to confront the reality that they could not go it alone.

"Many of us have come to recognize that nationalism is both limiting and limited," said Barham Saleh, a Kurd and deputy Iraqi prime minister. "While I as a Kurd always dream of a Kurdish state, and consider it a fundamental right of the Kurdish people, I have come to see that being part of the larger market of Iraq, with the protections afforded us by a democratic Iraq, offers the Kurdish people tangible advantages."

Since the Kurdish enclave became semi-autonomous after the 1991 gulf war, under the protection of a UN-established no-fly zone, it has been surrounded by neighbors with sizable Kurdish ethnic populations and therefore wary of the Kurdish experiment in self-rule. At various times, Syria, Turkey and Iran have all launched attacks inside the territory.

In the most recent crisis, many watchers of the Kurdistan region believe that if it had not been part of a sovereign Iraq, the Turkish military would not have hesitated to launch a major attack across the border. While concerns about that possibility have diminished, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday that his Cabinet had authorized the army to mount "a cross-border operation," without specifying its size or timing.

And as localized security goes, so goes localized reconstruction and development. Much of the development seen in the Kurdish north, as Bay Fang notes well throughout the article, was intended for Baghdad. But the early specter of unbridled violence shifted projects to the relative calm of the Kurdish regions.

The new, private American University of Iraq has just started classes in a cluster of prefab structures off the highway near the city of Sulaymaniyah. Like many other projects, the university—conceived by Deputy Prime Minister Saleh—was supposed to have its first campus in Baghdad. The students, many of whom speak English better than Arabic, interrupt their teacher freely in a boisterous, American classroom environment. Kurdistan Fatah, an earnest 18-year-old, dreams of becoming a human-rights lawyer. She says she wants to go overseas but eventually come back to the region. "There are not enough opportunities now to do what you want here," she said, "but if we work hard, maybe we can make our own way."

It all begins with local security, neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city, ultimately including Baghdad. The counterinsurgency strategy rolled out successfully thus far by General David Petraeus embraces this and proves its viability.

Local security begins with local Iraqis protecting their own with a view to overall security beyond their own neighborhood and city, making them inhospitable to a brutal terrorist enemy who seeks to dominate them beneath the radical jackboot of a totalitarian theocratic menace.

This realization is a fundamental key, and make their own way they surely will. Neighborhood by neighborhood, city by city, and hopefully as a united Iraqi nation.

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