Government

  • Cost of U.S. war on ISIS reaches $780 million

    The cost of the war against the Islamic State (ISIS) Islamist group has totaled at least $780 million, according to a new estimate, as U.S. warplanes and drones continued to strike Isis positions in Iraq and Syria on Monday and Tuesday. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday that the U.S. military is spending up to $10 million a day and will likely request more money from Congress to fund the war. The attacks on ISIS began 8 August, and before they were expanded to include targets in Syria, the Pentagon estimated the daily war costs at $7.5 million.

  • $3 million in grants for three pilot projects to improve online security, privacy

    The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) the other day announced nearly $3 million in grants that will support projects for online identity protection to improve privacy, security and convenience. The three recipients of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) grants will pilot solutions that make it easier to use mobile devices instead of passwords for online authentication, minimize loss from fraud and improve access to state services.

  • Obama: U.S. intelligence underestimated ISIS strength, overestimated Iraqi military's resilience

    President Barack Obama on Sunday said that the U.S. intelligence community had underestimated Islamic State (ISIS) strength and level of activity inside Syria, which has become “ground zero” for jihadist terrorists worldwide, while overestimating the ability of the Iraqi army to fight such militant groups. Obama’s admission that ISIS succeeded in setting up its bases in Syria and Iraq without being noticed by U.S. intelligence may embolden Republican hawks such Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) who have been complaining for months that the administration was being too passive in its approach to the Syrian civil war.

  • ISIS, al-Nusra reconcile as Syria air strikes continue

    Under continuing strikes by U.S. and coalition air forces, ISIS moved toward a new alliance with Syria’s largest al-Qaeda-affiliated group. Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been at odds with ISIS for more than a year now, was also subjected to U.S. air strikes which killed scores of the group’s members. Many al-Nusra units in northern Syria now appear to have reconciled with ISIS, following months of bitter clashes between the two groups.

  • New DOJ pilot program aims to deter Americans from joining terrorist groups

    Boston, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis will host the Justice Department’s (DOJ) pilot program aimed at deterring Americans from joining terrorists groups, particularly those fighting in Syria and Iraq under the Islamic State (IS) and Somalia under al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab. The program will rely on prevention and intervention initiatives.

  • U.S. strategy for fighting ISIS includes outreach to Muslims-American communities

    The White House is planning a summit in October to consider domestic extremism – a summit which will include Muslim faith-based organizations, mental health providers, social services groups, and youth-support organizations. The leaders of U.S. security services agree that Muslim-American communities should be seen as the “front lines” against the efforts of terror groups to recruit impressionable youth.

  • Departures, vacancies continue to hobble DHS

    The rate of senior level departures at DHS has increased in recent years, and some say that as a result, the department is unable to stay ahead of emerging threats, including potential terrorist and cyber incidents. According to the FedScope database of federal employees administered by OMB, between 2010 and 2013, departures of permanent DHS employees increased by 31 percent, compared to a 17 percent increase for the entire federal workforce.

  • Tension between humanitarian ideals, fear of terrorism in European asylum decisions

    New research has found that European states that experienced a terrorist attack on their own soil since 1980 were less likely to grant asylum to refugees. The study also found, however, that on the whole, concerns over terrorism in Europe have not eroded underpinnings of the Geneva Convention’s principles regarding asylum admission.

  • Better regional coordination for port security

    In the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, first responders in the Northeast were suddenly responsible for monitoring potential targets, including a military base, nuclear power plants, and a deep water port. Emergency teams soon found out that they were ill-equipped to coordinate with one another. That realization prompted better organization among regional first responders.

  • South Carolina reflects on Hurricane Hugo anniversary

    The state of South Caroline has just eyed the twenty-fifth anniversary of Hurricane Hugo – the Category 4 storm that hit the coast on 21 September 1989 with sustained maximum winds of 138 mph. Many in the state still honor that event, and live with the memory of the severe coastal damage due to drastic storm surges and the forty-nine lives lost during the disaster. The storm also left 60,000 people homeless, with 270,000 temporarily unemployed and 54,000 residents seeking monetary assistance. Extending far beyond that were many others who did not have power for two weeks or longer.

  • A first: Jury finds bank guilty of financing terrorism

    In a major development on the terrorism financing front, a U.S. jury found Arab Bank Plc liable for providing material support to Hamas and ordered the bank to compensate nearly 300 Americans who are either victims or relatives of victims of at least two dozen attacks tied to Hamas in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

  • U.S. starts air strikes on Syria as shadowy new threat emerges

    The United States has commenced major air operations against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria. Why has the United States suddenly expanded the air war by going for the heart of the Islamic State’s power base in Raqqa, Syria? The answer almost certainly lies with what has happened in the past six weeks in the ongoing air war in Iraq. There, more than 190 air strikes on close to 250 targets have done little more than blunt some of IS’s recent advances, and have conspicuously failed to stop the group from making gains elsewhere. More generally, the new government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has so far failed to convince key Sunni clans in western and north-western Iraq that it will run a more inclusive regime; as a result, clan leaders are far too suspicious to work alongside government forces. In the short term, Washington is presenting this rapidly accelerating war as a decisive action to permanently cripple IS. It may well look like a success at first — but that will almost certainly be highly misleading. In reality, the Third Iraq War, now extended into Syria, is merely in its very early stages.

  • Al-Qaeda-affiliated Khorasan group more dangerous than ISIS: Analysts

    As the the United States begins to counter military advances made by the Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq and Syria, security analysts are concerned about other militant groups which could fill the power vacuum once ISIS shows signs of retreat. ISIS currently lacks the capability directly to attack the United States, and its threat is mostly regional disruption, analysts say, but another militant group in Syria – called the Khorasan group — does have ambitions to attack Western countries at home.

  • ISIS is brutal, but also business-savvy

    Oil smuggling, extortion, human trafficking, selling women and children into slavery, smuggling antiquities, and kidnapping for ransom have made the Islamic State (IS) the wealthiest terrorist group in history, according to reports from senior U.S. intelligence officials. Since controlling large sections of Iraq and Syria, including as many as eleven oil fields, ISIS daily revenues have reached $3 million.

  • Concerns about use of Ebola as a bioweapon exaggerated: Experts

    The stabbing of a federal air marshal with a syringe at the airport in Lagos, Nigeria, three weeks ago has raised concern about the possibility that the Ebola virus could be harvested by terrorists and used as a bioweapon. Security experts say that worries about the Ebola being used as a weapon by terrorists are exaggerated, since it would be very difficult for terrorists to grow large quantities of the virus and then turn the virus into an effective, dispersible weapon to cover a wide area in order to infect and kill a large number of people. Still, experts say the possibility of Ebola as a terror weapons cannot be completely discounted – especially small-scale attacks on individuals, like the attack on the air marshal at Lagos airport. Potentially even more dangerous would be a bioattack by suicide infectors – individuals who deliberately infected themselves for the purpose of carrying the virus out of an epidemic zone in order to infect people in other areas or even other countries.