Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • Withdrawal of Syrian troops from Golan area heightens Israel’s concerns

    For forty years, Syria had deployed four army divisions in positions along the eastern border of the Golan Heights. Israel has considered the Israel-Syria border to be its safest border. With the continuing deterioration of the Syrian regime’s military situation, the Assad government is in the process of redeploying two divisions – some 20,000 soldiers – from the Golan region to Damascus to help defend the capital against growing rebel pressure. Jihadi elements from the anti-Assad coalition have been moving into the security vacuum created along the Israeli border by the withdrawal of the Syrian troops, increasing the opportunities for friction and the likelihood of an Israeli military involvement in Syria.

  • U.S. deploys F-22 stealth fighters to South Korea

    As tensions on the Korean Peninsula intensify, and North Korea’s belligerent threats multiply, sources inside the administration said that the United States has deployed F-22 stealth fighter jets to South Korea to take part in large-scale military drills.

  • Cost to U.S. of Iraq, Afghanistan wars to exceed $4 trillion

    A new study from Harvard University, calculating the cost to the United States of the wars in Iraq Afghanistan, has concluded that that cost will come to between $4 trillion to $6 trillion. This cost includes the spending on medical care for wounded soldiers and repairs to and replacement of military gear used in the two wars. The decision by the Bush administration to pay for the wars with borrowed money has increased their costs, the study says. In all, the two wars have added $2 trillion to the U.S. debt, accounting for about 20 percent of the debt incurred from 2001 to 2012.

  • UN says 11,000 peace-keepers needed to stabilize Mali

    UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said that about 11,000 peacekeepers may be required to keep the peace in Mali. He also said that a second, smaller force may be needed to conduct operations against Islamic terrorists in north Mali to prevent them from disrupting the country’s reconstruction.

  • U.S. military instructors training Syrian rebels in camps in Jordan

    U.S. military sources said that American Special Operations forces and Special Force troops agents have been training small groups of Syrian opposition forces in Jordan. The training, conducted jointly by U.S. and Jordanian military instructors, has been going on for more than eight months now.

  • How U.K. can better prepare for emergencies

    Well designed and planned exercises are essential to ensure that the United Kingdom can respond effectively to emergencies of all kinds. The emergencies may take the form of a terrorist attack, flooding, pandemic flu, rail or air disaster — or any major disruptive event requiring an emergency response.

  • Rebels, not the Syrian army, fired last week’s chemical weapon: experts

    Western intelligence services, analyzing the few facts known about the use of a chemical weapon near Aleppo in north Syria last week, have concluded that it was one of the rebel militias, rather than Assad government forces, which fired a “home-made” chlorine-based chemical artillery round. If the conclusion of the intelligence services is correct, it raises disturbing questions about both the capabilities of at least some rebel militias – and about their readiness to use non-conventional weapons.

  • Enhancing Army capabilities as new threats emerge

    Some twenty-eight nations have some type of weapons of mass destruction capability, with some of them having nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons capability. The nuclear materials in many of these countries are kept in hundreds of sites without global safeguards in place for securing them. A senior American military official described these loose nukes as the “single biggest existential threat to Western survival.” Yet, in a recent exercise, the U.S. response time for deploying 90,000 troops to a crisis area – an area which included loose nukes, other WMDs, or both — took fifty-five days. U.S. military leaders say this is just not good enough.

  • WOT distorting focus, resource allocation of U.S. intelligence community: experts

    The U.S. Intelligence Advisory Board, a panel of fourteen highly regarded and experienced experts, many of whom past holder of high-level national security positions, has submitted a secret report to President Obama in which they say that the intense, 12-year focus of the intelligence community on finding and fighting terrorism has distorted the priorities, resource allocation, and training within that community. Former Senator David Boren, a member of the panel, asks: “in the long run, what’s more important to America: Afghanistan or China?”

  • Sharia law imposed in some rebel-controlled areas in Syria

    The Syrian revolution has mutated from a spontaneous uprising against the authoritarian rule of the Assad family into a full-scale war, and is now changing yet again – into what appears to be a systematic, coordinated effort to impose strict Sharia Islamic law in those parts of Syria which have come under the control of the Jihadi elements in the anti-Assad coalition.

  • Concerns about Mali’s future as French prepare to leave

    The French military campaign against Islamic militants in northern Mali has killed many of the Jihadists and drove the rest of them from the region’s cities to hideouts in the mountains. Now, as France is getting set to pull its soldiers out, questions are being raised about the ability of the African coalition forces to patrol the vast territory and keep the Islamists at bay. UN officials now consider the formation of a heavily armed rapid-response force of up to 10,000 troops, mostly from Chad, to intervene in Mali in the event the peace keeping force there is unable to deal with the Islamist threat.

  • A better cyanide antidote for terrorist attacks, mass casualty events

    The current procedure for treating cyanide poisoning requires highly trained paramedical personnel and takes time. Cyanide, however, is a fast-acting poison. In a situation involving mass casualties, only a limited number of victims could be saved with IV medication. Scientists are reporting discovery of a promising substance that could be the basis for development of a better antidote for cyanide poisoning.

  • Questions raised about Iron Dome success

    MIT professor Ted Postol is at it again: in 1992 he successfully challenged the claims made by the United States, Israel, and Raytheon about the effectiveness of the Patriot missiles in intercepting Iraqi SCUD missiles fired at Israel, and now he is raising similar questions about the accuracy of claims made about the effectiveness of Israel’s Iron Dome anti-rocket system during the 10-day Israel-Hamas war last November, a war code-named Pillar of Defense.

  • Growing tensions in Iran-al Qaeda relationship

    What began two years ago in Syria as one more manifestation of the pro-democracy Arab Spring, has soon deteriorated into an inter-communal conflict between Sunnis and Shi’as. This change in the nature of the Syrian conflict found the Shi’a forces in the Muslim world – Iran, Iraq, and Hezbollah – siding with the beleaguered Alawite regime of President Assad, at the same time that the Sunni forces in the Muslim world, including al Qaeda, were offering increasing political and material support to the Sunni-based anti-regime insurgency. Growing tensions between Iran and al Qaeda were the inevitable result.

  • UN: Hamas rocket, not Israeli air strike, killed BBC Gaza journalist's family

    UN says that a BBC journalist’s son and two other family members who were killed during the first hour of last November’s Israeli campaign against Hamas in Gaza, were not killed by an Israeli air strike, as was assumed. Rather, the family was killed by a misfired Hamas rocket.