Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • Conflicting readings of possible chemical weapons use in Syria

    Rebel sources say the number of dead in a Syrian army chemical weapons attack, which targeted a dozen villages in a rebel-held area east of Damascus, is between 750 and 1,300. They say it is not possible to offer precise numbers because some areas are not yet accessible. The Syrian government strongly rejected the allegations about chemical weapons use by the Syrian army. The Israeli defense minister, in the first official Israeli reaction, confirms the Syrian military used chemical weapons. Chemical weapons experts say there are two other possibilities: the Syrian regime may have used crowd-dispersal chemicals in higher-than-usual concentration, causing death among people trapped in bunkers and shelters; or the army may have used fuel-air bombs in bombing Sunny residential areas. Such bombs, also called thermobaric explosives, rely on oxygen from the surrounding air, unlike most conventional explosives which consist of a fuel-oxidizer premix.

  • Reports: hundreds killed in chemical weapons attack east of Damascus

    Syrian rebels say at least 750 people were killed in attacks on villages in rebel-held areas in the Ghouta region east of Damascus. News agencies quote medical personnel who confirmed that hundreds of victims treated in hospitals and make-shift first-aid stations were suffering from symptoms associated with chemical weapons attack. Syrian government officials deny that regime forces used chemical weapons. The Arab League called for immediate investigation, and the U.K. said it would bring the reports to the UN Security Council today.

  • Rapid response, imaging of injuries aided Boston Marathon bombing victims

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bombing survivors have the highest incidence of injury to soft tissue and musculoskeletal systems with the most extreme injury being traumatic amputation, which is reported in up to 3 percent of cases. The Boston Marathon bombings resulted in three fatalities and 264 casualties, with the most severe injuries involving lower extremities of those located closest to the blasts. Blast injuries within civilian populations are rare in the United States, so when they do occur they challenge the medical community rapidly to respond to concurrent evaluation and treatment of many victims.

  • Suburban Chicago police cancels anti-terrorism training course after complaints

    The police at the city of Lombard, Illinois, has cancelled a class on counterterrorism after the Chicago branch of a Muslim advocacy group complained that the Florida-based instructor and his teachings were blatantly anti-Muslim. The instructor has faced similar criticism in Florida. The course was to be taught through the North East Multi-Regional Training group, which trains Illinois police and corrections employees. The Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board said it was reviewing the course – titled “Islamic Awareness as a Counter-Terrorist Strategy” – and the materials used in it. The board said that instructor’s qualifications will also be reviewed.

  • AQAP now central pillar of a decentralized al Qaeda

    Since he escaped a Yemeni jail in 2006, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, 36, has turned Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) into the most effective component of a more decentralized al Qaeda. The Obama administration has continued, and expanded, the Bush administration’s war on al Qaeda central, destroying the organization’s capabilities and reducing its effectiveness to a point where the remnants of al Qaeda core in Pakistan no longer exercise operational control over terrorist activities carried out in the name of the organization. This has allowed franchise terror outfits to emerge in the Middle East and North and West Africa – and of these largely autonomous organizations, AQAP, under al-Wuhayshi’s leadership, has proven itself the most innovative and technically savvy.

  • Islamic group’s plan for a 9/11 "Million Muslim March" on Washington denounced

    The American Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC) is organizing what it hopes would be a mass demonstration by American Muslims on 11 September in Washington, D.C. Critics called the demonstration ill-timed, if not downright offensive. Mainstream Muslim American groups describe group members as virulently anti-Semitic “truthers” who question al Qaeda’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. There is little chance a million people would show up for the march: AMPAC, based in Kansas City, Missouri, has just 57 supporters signed up for the 11 September event on Facebook.

  • Egypt under martial law; 525 die in clashes (updated)

    The Egyptian government said 525 were killed, including 43 police officers, during clashes Wednesday between Egyptian security forces and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood as the Egyptian police and army moved to clear two sit-in camps in which supporters of Mohammen Morsi had been barricading. The Egyptian government has declared a month-long state of emergency throughout the country. The main features of the state of emergency include a curfew which would run from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. in eleven of Egypt’s twenty-seven provinces, including Suez, heavy presence of military units in cities and towns, and restrictions on movement and travel.

  • Egypt declares month-long state of emergency; hundreds die in clashes

    About 150 Egyptians were killed during the early hours of Wednesday in clashes between Egyptian security forces and armed supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood as the Egyptian police and army moved to clear two sit-in camps in which supporters of Mohammen Morsi had been barricading. Well-organized Brotherhood supporters set police stations and government building on fire in several cities. Brotherhood followers also burned down the Alexandria public library and five churches. The Egyptian government has declared a month-long state of emergency throughout the country. The main features of the state of emergency include a curfew which would run from 7:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. in eleven of Egypt’s twenty-seven provinces, including Suez, heavy presence of military units in cities and towns, and restrictions on movement and travel.

  • Lawmakers, scientists question FBI’s investigation, conclusion in 2001 anthrax attacks

    Twelve years after the fall 2001 anthrax attacks, and six years after the 2007 FBI’s determination that Bruce Ivins, a top government anthrax researcher at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), was the perpetrator of the attacks (Ivins died in 2008 of apparent suicide), lawmakers and USAMRIID scientists insist that the FBI’s conclusions are not supported by scientific evidence – indeed, that some basic scientific facts make the Bureau’s conclusions untenable.

  • U.S. nuclear facilities vulnerable to terrorist attack: study

    Some U.S. nuclear facilities are inadequately protected against theft of weapons-grade materials and sabotage by terrorists. Terrorist attacks on vulnerable nuclear facilities could trigger a meltdown or lead to a diversion of bomb-grade uranium. The danger is far from hypothetical since the 9/11 hijackers are known to have considered flying a passenger jet into a U.S. nuclear reactor before they settled on the World Trade Center as their main terror target.

  • Israel, Egypt escalate attacks on militants in Sinai Peninsula (updated)

    The growing intelligence cooperation between Egypt and Israel was in evidence early Friday when the Israel Air Force (IAF), in coordination with the Egyptian military, used drone strikes to destroy ready-to-launch rockets and rocket launchers on Egyptian territory, killing five Egyptian militants in the process. The rockets were deployed on Thursday in a desert area near the town of Rafah, and were discovered by an Egyptian surveillance fly-over. On Saturday, the Egyptian air force attacked militant positions in the area, killing twelve Islamists.

  • Deteriorating Sinai Peninsula security situation poses problems for Israel, Egypt

    The attacks on Islamist targets in northern Sinai — by Israel on Friday and by Egypt on Saturday — are but the latest evidence of a growing problem of militancy and terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula, a vast, hard-to-control, lightly populated area consisting of steep mountain ranges and a forbidding desert. The growing al Qaeda presence in the area, the continuing influence of Iranian arms smuggling networks, and the influx of foreign Jihadists make the deteriorating security situation in the peninsula a threat both to Israel and to Egypt. The stipulations of the 1982 Egypt-Israel peace treaty complicate to fight against the militants.

  • Israeli drone strike, in coordination with Egypt, destroys militants’ rockets deployed on Egyptian territory

    The growing intelligence cooperation between Egypt and Israel was in evidence earlier today (Friday) when the Israel Air Force (IAF), in coordination with the Egyptian military, used drone strikes to destroy ready-to-launch rockets and rocket launchers on Egyptian territory, killing five Egyptian militants in the process. The rockets were deployed on Thursday in a desert area near the town  of Rafah, and were discovered by an Egyptian surveillance fly-over.

  • Obama administration renews drone campaign in Yemen

    Responding to intelligence information about planned terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), information which led to the closure of twenty-two U.S. embassies in the Middle East and North Africa and a travel warning issued by the Department of State, the Obama administration has launched a series of drone strikes in Yemen over the past ten days.

  • Govt.: lawyer jailed for helping imprisoned terrorist not entitled to medical early release

    The government told U.S. District Judge John Koeltl that he does not have the authority to release an ailing disbarred civil rights lawyer who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for allowing a imprisoned Egyptian sheik to communicate with his followers. Lynne Stewart, 73, is suffering a recurrence of her breast cancer, but the government says that she is not telling the truth when she says she has only eighteen months to live.