• Aviation security

    Al Qaeda operatives are looking for ways to defeat the growing number of full-body scanners at airports around the world; they recently tried to deploy a pair of kamikaze canines on a U.S.-bound airplane from Baghdad airport; the bombs were placed inside the dogs’ bodies, but the plot failed because the bombs were so poorly stitched inside the dogs, that the dogs died; Web sites affiliated with al Qaeda are now calling of doctors and scientists sympathetic to the organization to help it devise ways for surgically stitching bombs inside human beings, to usher in what one of the organization’s operatives calls a “new kind of terrorism”

  • Five years ago the mayor of Portland, Oregon, decided not to participate in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force because of concerns about civil liberties; the past weekend’s capture of a 19-year old after he attempted to detonate what he thought was a vehicle bomb near a tree-lighting ceremony in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse has led the mayor to reconsider his decision

  • An explosion on an Orlando, Florida garbage truck raise fears that the garbage-truck crew had stumbled on an underground bomb factory which had foolishly thrown some of its products in the rubbish — or that the explosion presaged a fearful terror wave campaign of exploding bins or municipal vehicles; police investigation finds that the explosion was caused by a local resident foolishly disposing of a pressurized container in their garbage

  • Iran's bomb

    Israel’s covert campaign to derail Iran’s nuclear weapons program continues unabated; the latest chapter: a senior Iranian nuclear weapons scientists, Majid Shahriari, was killed, and a fellow scientists seriously injured, when two groups of operatives on motorcycles approached their cars on busy Teheran streets and opened fire from automatic weapons; the covert campaign has already claimed more than a dozen leading nuclear scientists and engineers (five of whom killed in Teheran, the others while traveling in Europe), as well as several Revolutionary Guard senior officers associated with the nuclear weapons program; in addition, nuclear weapons-related warehouses and depots, located in Revolutionary Guard military bases, were blown up, and disguised nuclear technology shipments to Iran were seized in ports in Europe, America, and Asia; on 16 November, Iran temporarily shut down its uranium enrichment facilities after the Stuxnet virus, designed by the secretive Unit 8200 of Israel’s Military Intelligence, destroyed hundreds of centrifuges

  • Analysis // by Ben Frankel

    Israel believes that the best guarantee of its security is the ability to maintain its regional nuclear monopoly; to that end, it used covert means to stop the nuclear weapons programs of Egypt (1960-63) and Iraq (1970s-1980s); it also used less covert means, such as attacking and destroying nuclear reactors in Iraq (1981) and Syria (2007); if the past is an indication, Israel will see to it that Iran, too, will find its effort to acquire the bomb to be prohibitively costly, very painful — and, ultimately, futile

  • Nuclear matters

    The shipment of radioactive rods sent from Fargo, North Dakota, to Knoxville, Tennessee, posed little threat, but its misplacement underscores the need to track low-hazard materials that could be used in small-scale terrorist attacks, experts say; as al Qaeda has shifted its tactics from 9/11-scale attacks to smaller attacks which aim to create fear and do economic damage, there is growing concern about low-radiation materials which are widely used in research, medical facilities, and industry; such materials may not be suitable for a nuclear bomb, but could be used to create “dirty bombs,” which cause fewer casualties but can release hazardous materials when they explode

  • Law-enforcement technology

    The radar guns police use to spot speeding motorists fire microwave pulses at a car and measures the Doppler shift of the reflected signal to calculate its velocity; researchers found that the strength and polarization of the reflected signal — the “radar cross section” — can also measure the reflected signal created by the most common arrangements of looped wiring typically used by suicide bombers

  • Aviation security

    Israeli company WeCU says its behavior-based security solution addresses many of the problems now encountered at U.S. airports; the WeCU concept exploits human characteristics and behavior: when a person intends to carry out a particular activity or has a significant acquaintance or involvement with a subject, he carries with him information and feelings that are associated with the activity or the subject; the WeCU system identifies this associative connection by actively exposing the person being screened to stimuli targeted at a specific threat, followed by detection of the person’s physiological reaction, or response, to the stimuli through nonintrusive biometric sensors; the system detects the individual’s reaction without his or her knowledge and without requiring their cooperation, and without interfering with routine activities

  • Germany on edge

    Terrorists may have been planning an attack on the Reichstag, the home of the German parliament and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Berlin. Two suspected culprits are already believed to be in Berlin.

  • Trend: econo-jihad

    In a detailed account of its failed parcel bomb plot three weeks ago, al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen said late Saturday that the operation cost only $4,200 to mount, was intended to disrupt global air cargo systems and reflected a new strategy of low-cost attacks designed to inflict broad economic damage; the organization said the fear, disruption, and added security costs caused by the packages made what it called Operation Hemorrhage a success

  • Germany on edge

    Germany is bracing for possible terrorist attacks amid growing signs that Islamic extremists are preparing at least one assault somewhere in the country in the coming weeks, possibly in the capital, Berlin; authorities in Berlin are racing to track two suspected suicide bombers believed to be planning to strike a prominent location; police are combing through travel and visa records and scrutinizing arrivals from the Mideast and South Asia as they hunt the pair; meanwhile, German officials say that a second group of terrorists is reported to be planning to travel to Germany in the coming weeks to launch a small-arms attack on one or more urban centers in the next three months

  • Hostile divers may be deterred from approaching U.S. Navy ships, sea ports, off-shore oil rigs, and other infrastructure facilities with an acoustic device that overwhelms them with the amplified sound of their own breath; the device generates low frequency underwater sound that interferes with breathing, induces disorientation, panic, uncontrolled ascent to surface, and decompression sickness

  • Oil-rig security

    After the 9/11 attacks, Bin Laden boasted that he used an operation which cost al Qaeda $500,000 to finance to inflict a $500 billion damage on the U.S. economy; this was not a mere boast: experts say it was an indication that econo-jihad was an integral part of al Qaeda’s strategy to weaken and defeat the West; the recent BP disaster offered an example of one tactics terrorists may pursue in order to inflict serious economic and environmental damage on the United States and other countries: attack off-shore oil rigs: these rigs are utterly vulnerable to attack, and the damage such an attack can do is considerable; in Nigeria, a militant organization is already attacking oil rigs — if, for now, only to kidnap rig workers in order to blackmail their employers for money and political concessions; the ease with which such attacks are carried out should give all of us a pause

  • General Sir David Richards, a former NATO commander in Afghanistan, said Islamist militancy would pose a threat for at least thirty years, and that a clear-cut victory over militants was not achievable; Richards also said that that extremist Islamism could not be eradicated as an idea; “The trick is the balance of things that you’re doing and I say that the military are just about, you know, there. The biggest problem’s been ensuring that the governance and all the development side can keep up with it within a time frame and these things take generations sometimes within a time frame that is acceptable to domestic, public and political opinion”

  • Air cargo security

    British police investigators say that forensic evidence showed the explosive device hidden inside an ink cartridge, originally sent from Yemen by way of Cologne, Germany, was timed to be detonated about six to seven hours after the cargo aircraft carrying it left the United Kingdom for the United States — meaning that it could have exploded over the East Coast of the United States; the UPS cargo plane intercepted in England left the country without the package at 11:20 p.m. ET on 28 October, two hours after landing, police said; the device was timed to be activated at 5:30 a.m. ET, said British police

  • The U.S. is intensifying the drone war over Yemen; yesterday the Yemeni foreign minister admitted for the first time that the U.S. was helping out in the Yemeni fight with unmanned drones; the foreign minister said that while the U.S. was providing intelligence, “The (drone) attacks are undertaken by the Yemeni air force” (officials in Yemen have habitually claimed those sorties were the work of the Yemeni air force, although Yemen has neither the aircraft nor the air crews able to conduct these precision attacks); a tug-of-war is going on in Washington on whether the drone war should be conducted by the U.S. military or the CIA; unconfirmed news reports claim that in early November the U.S. moved a squadron of Predator drones to a secret base at the Yemeni Red Sea port of Al Hodaydah

  • With President Barack Obama set to begin a visit Tuesday to Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country — and where he lived from age 6 to 10 — there is renewed attention on terrorists in Indonesia — terrorists who, in the past year, appeared to be banding together into a new al Qaeda-influenced insurgency; since 2006 the Pentagon has sent about $60 million in military aid to Indonesia for a new regional maritime warning system; as much as $20 million more is in the pipeline; the military steer arrested terrorists into a rehabilitation program; the policy is rooted in a fundamental belief that militants are fellow Muslims who have gone astray and that they are inherently reformable

  • Aviation security

    Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq tried to bring a plane down by deploying a pair of kamikaze canines on a U.S.-bound airplane; terrorists placed the bombs inside the dogs’ bodies, then took the dogs to the Baghdad airport in kennel carriers, destined for a flight to the United States; the plot failed because the bombs were so poorly stitched inside the dogs, that the dogs died

  • The likely incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Representative Peter King (R-N.Y.) has been one of the administration’s loudest critics on issues of counterterrorism and homeland security in the past year; he had repeatedly criticized White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, and has called for his firing; King has a softer tone toward the administration now, a week after the federal government prevented a series of possible attacks against cargo jets — and two month before assuming the chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee

  • The Home Secretary’s priorities are to: enhance protective security measures, invest in conflict prevention and stopping overseas terrorist plots, refocus the U.K. strategy for preventing radicalization, and strike a better balance between liberty and security