Government

  • Charleston shooting highlights threat posed by domestic terrorism

    As the nation reflects on the 17 June Charleston, South Carolina church shooting, which killed nine and led to the arrest of suspect Dylan Roof, law enforcement and security experts note that domestic terrorists pose a greater threat to Americans than foreign terrorists. “Since 9/11, our country has been fixated on the threat of jihadi terrorism,” said one expert. “But the horrific tragedy at the Emanuel AME reminds us that the threat of homegrown domestic terrorism is very real.”

  • Niger attacks Boko Haram targets after militants intensify activity inside Niger

    Niger’s army has said it killed fifteen Boko Haram militants in land and air operations against the Islamist group. Earlier this year, frustrated by the Nigerian army’s ineffectiveness, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger told Nigeria that they would join the war against the Islamists – including conducting operations inside Nigeria. The military operations by the three countries have pushed Boko Haram out of many areas it used to control – but in retaliation, Boko Haram has intensified its attacks on Nigeria’s three neighbors.

  • Iran stored nuclear equipment in Sudanese arms factory destroyed by Israel in October 2012: Saudi memo

    In early October 2012 Israeli planes destroyed the Yarmouk arms factory near Khartoum, Sudan’s capital – 1,300 miles from Israel. At the time, it was reported that the target of the Israeli attack were chemical munitions Iran stored at the site with the intention of delivering them to Hamas. It now appears that the October 2012 Israeli attack targeted more than chemical weapons. According to officials in the Saudi embassy in Khartoum, Iran, in early 2012, shipped advanced nuclear equipment to Sudan, and stored that equipment at the sprawling site. The Saudi embassy memo, dated February 2012 and marked as “very secret,” was leaked last week by the WikiLeaks groups along with what the group claimed were 60,000 other official Saudi communications.

  • U.S. assumptions about key elements of Iran deal unrealistically “rosy”: Critics

    Critics of the emerging nuclear deal with Iran say that there ae two major risks which are not adequately addressed in the discussions over the agreement. The first is that Iranians will cheat, and continue to move toward the bomb covertly. The second, more subtle, problem is the combination of the State Department’s habit of tardy reporting, and the nuclear infrastructure and materials Iran will be allowed to keep, which will make its “breakout” time — that is, the time it will need to build a bomb from the point of making a decision to do so — exceedingly short.

  • As Syrian Druze plight deepens, Israel’s regional strategy emerges

    On Tuesday morning, Druze on the Golan Heights attacked an Israeli military ambulance carrying two wounded Syrian rebels to a hospital in Israel, killing one of the wounded rebels. Israeli Druze – and the Druze on the Golan Heights – want Israel to help their fellow Druze in Syria, who until recently had been loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, but Israel’s tacit understanding with the Sunni rebels, including the Islamist Nusra Front, indicates that Israel supports those groups in Syria which are supported by the major Sunni states in the region. There used to be a time when Israel allied itself with countries and groups on the geographic, ethnic, and religious periphery of the Middle East – what David Ben Gurion called the Periphery Alliance – but times have changed, and Israel now is seeking a modus vivendi with the region’s Sunni powers. The Druze may be paying the price of this change in Israel’s strategy.

  • How anthrax spores grow in cultured human tissues

    Cultured human lung cells infected with a benign version of anthrax spores have yielded insights into how anthrax grows and spreads in exposed people. The study will help provide credible data for human health related to anthrax exposure and help officials better understand risks related to a potential anthrax attack. The study also defined for the first time where the spores germinate and shows that the type of cell lines and methods of culturing affect the growth rates.

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  • U.S. drones kill ISIS leader tied to 2012 Benghazi attack

    The Pentagon said that a U.S. drone strike in northern Iraq on 15 June killed Ali Awni al-Harzi, a Tunisian Islamic State operative who was involved in the 11 September 2012 Benghazi attack. Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said al-Harzi was killed in Mosul. A video taken the night of the attack in Benghazi showed him at the consulate, making him a person of interest, U.S. authorities said.

  • House Homeland Security Committee to release monthly Terror Threat Snapshot

    House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) on Friday released a new Committee product called the Terror Threat Snapshot. McCall said the snapshot is a new, regular monthly feature which tracks “the escalating and grave threat environment” facing the United States. The Terror Threat Snapshot will be kept up to date on the Committee’s Web site. Additionally, monthly summaries will be available.

  • Some world regions achieve historic peacefulness, others spiral into deepening violence

    Peacefulness in Europe has reached an historic high while the Middle East is spiraling into deepening violence, according to figures outlined in the 2015 Global Peace Index, unveiled last week. The latest Global Peace Index reveals an increasingly divided world: many countries achieve historic levels of peace, while strife-torn nations continue to degrade into violence. The impact of violence on the global economy reached US$14.3 trillion or 13.4 percent of global GDP in the last year, equivalent to the combined economies of Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Almost 1 percent of the world’s population is now refugees or internally displaced (IDPs), the highest level since 1945, and numbers are expected to increase.

  • Evidence of war crimes by Israel, Palestinian militants in summer 2014 war: UN report

    A UN investigative panel looking into the summer 2014 Israel-Hamas war has found “serious violations of international humanitarian law” which “may amount to war crimes” by both sides. The report was released early on Monday in Geneva by a commission of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It says that “impunity prevails across the board” regarding the actions of the Israeli military in Gaza, and urged Israel to “break with its recent lamentable track record in holding wrongdoers accountable.” The commission found that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad employed methods of “inherently indiscriminate nature” by using rockets and mortars to fire at Israeli civilians.

  • Number of terrorist acts in 2014 increased 35%, fatalities increased 81%, compared to 2013

    On Friday the State Department is issued the Country Reports on Terrorism 2014, an annual report mandated by Congress. The report’s statistical annex, which was prepared by the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism (START), shows that the number of terrorist attacks in 2014 increased 35 percent, and total fatalities increased 81 percent compared to 2013, largely due to activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. Iran continued to sponsor terrorist groups around the world, principally through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force.

  • Mali, Tuareg rebels sign historic peace agreement

    The Tuareg-led rebel coalition in northern Mali on Saturday signed a historic agreement with the government of Mali to end decades of conflict and war between the independence-seeking Tuareg and the central government in Bamako. Since 1960, when Mali gained its independence from France, the Tuareg launched four bloody wars in an effort to gain their independence, but were defeated each time. The pact signed Saturday between the Tuareg and the Mali government was brokered by Algeria – it is called the Algiers Accord – and it aims to bring stability to the country’s northern region.

  • State Department stays away from Chinese-owned Waldorf Astoria

    The U.S. State Department said American diplomats and State Department officials, for the first time in decades, would not be staying at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel during this year’s UN general assembly. Worldwide last year sold the high-end Midtown hotel for $1.95 billion to the Chinese group Anbang Insurance Group. The sales contract allowed for “a major renovation” by the Chinese, and American security experts had no doubt as to the purpose of these “renovations”: As is the practice in China, the Chinese owners, working on behalf of China’s intelligence services, were going to plant listening devices in every room and ball room, and wire every phone, Wi-Fi hot spot, and restaurant table in order to eavesdrop on hotel guests.

  • Multinational control of enrichment “the only realistic way” to reduce nuclear risks

    Within the next two weeks, or soon after, the United States and five world powers hope to finalize a nuclear deal with Iran to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for a relaxing of international economic and financial sanctions. What, however, happens in ten years when some of the key restrictions being discussed begin to phase out? One of the biggest concerns is Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which uses high-speed centrifuges to produce uranium enriched to a level appropriate for nuclear power reactor fuel. Enrichment plants like this can be quickly reconfigured to produce “weapon-grade” uranium. A new report suggests that “Reducing proliferation risks by ending national control over dangerous civilian nuclear activities is an important idea with a long history,” in the words of one of the report’s authors. “As civilian nuclear technology keeps spreading, multinational control may offer the only realistic way to stop the spread of nuclear weapons capability.”

  • Iraqi commander ordered troops out of Ramadi unnecessarily, leading to city’ fall

    The capture of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province, by Islamic State militants made headlines, and was perceived used by ISIS’s savvy media machine as a demonstration of the organization’s military capabilities, but military analysts say the jihadists took over the city because an Iraqi commander unnecessarily ordered his forces to withdraw. “Ramadi was lost because the Iraqi commander in Ramadi elected to withdraw. In other words, if he had elected to stay, he would still be there today,” says a British army’s brigadier. U.S.-led efforts to build up the Iraqi military so it can retake Ramadi and Mosul are stalled because not enough Iraqis enlist.