Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • Community ties affect terrorist groups’ targeting of civilians

    A new study finds terrorist groups which are embedded into the society around them may choose tactics that compromise the group’s strategic or ideological priorities in order to avoid alienating local communities. The study highlights how community condemnation generates restraint in terrorists’ targeting of civilians, while endorsements may facilitate such attacks.

  • Off-shore barges considered for destroying Syria’s chemical weapons

    After failing to find a country willing to allow its territory to be used for disposing of Syria’s chemical weapons, the United States is exploring other options. Two options being seriously considered involve the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons off shore, rather than on land. Both proposals call for removing the chemical weapons from Syria and placing them on a large barge at sea, where they would be dissolved or incinerated.

  • Sahel-Sahara countries to build joint security training center in Rabat

    At a meeting on common security challenges in north and west Africa, government officials from nineteen Sahel, Sahara, and Maghreb countries agreed to build a joint security training center in Rabat, Morocco, to increase the competency of the region’s security forces to deal with growing terrorist and jihadist threats. The nineteen countries will also increase information sharing and harmonize the legal means they use to fight security threats. The ministers said that one of the first steps toward improving security in west and north Africa would be to improve monitoring of border and increase border security.

  • Israel withdraws from U.S. terror case to placate China

    The Israeli government has prohibited a former security official from testifying in an anti-terrorism case in the United States. The case involves families of victims of Palestinian suicide bombers who claim the Bank of China facilitated transfers of funds used to carry out the suicide attacks, and other attacks which are not part of the case. The Israeli government initially pushed for the official’s testimony because it would have shed light on the services the Bank of China offered Hamas and Islamic Jihad – but now says it would not allow him to testify for fear the testimony would reveal methods and sources.Critics of Netanyahu’s U-turn on the issue of fighting terrorism, an issue which has been central to his political career, say that preventing the official from testifying has nothing to do with intelligence information. Rather, it has to do with Israel’s growing economic and security relations with China.

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  • U.S. to intensify campaign against brutal Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

    U.S. Special Forces continue to act on their commitment to capture Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA), a band of brutal rebels who have been kidnapping and killing villagers across central Africa for some years now. For the last two years, American military advisers have been assisting troops in four African nations — Uganda, South Sudan, Congo, and Central African Republic – in their war against the elusive LRA. Recently, the Pentagon has asked the White House for permission to expand the mission by using the Air Force’s CV-22 Osprey aircraft in Uganda, allowing troops to advance the assault on Kony.

  • NSA surveillance leads to San Diego conviction of al-Shabaab supporters

    Three Somali men residing in San Diego were sentenced to prison on Monday for aiding al-Shabaab, a Somali terrorist organization. The sentencing hearing in a San Diego federal court came four days after the men lost their bid for a new trial, requested after discovering that the charges were supported by evidence from theNational Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program.U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller denied the defense’s request to dismiss the NSA surveillance-generated evidence, saying the collection of the evidence did not amount to a warrantless search, and that while the agency’s surveillance programs were controversial, the protocol that was followed aligns with the law.

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  • Al Qaeda-linked Lebanese group attacks Iran’s Beirut embassy

    Retaliating against the growing involvement of Hezbollah in Syria, and the growing involvement of Iran — Hezbollah’s masters – in Lebanon, Sunni extremists sent two suicide bombers to destroy the Iranian embassy in Beirut. The two explosions – one caused by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle, the second by a suicide truck carrying more than 100kg of explosives — killed at least twenty-three people, wounded more than 150, and caused extensive damage to one of Lebanon’s most heavily guarded compounds.

  • Cyberattacks more serious domestic threat to U.S. than terrorism: FBI

    The heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI), Department of Homeland Security(DHS), and National Counterterrorism Center(NCTC) have declared cyber attacks as the most likely form of terrorism against the United States in the coming years. “That’s where the bad guys will go,” FBI director James Comey said about cyberterrorism. “There are no safe neighborhoods. All of us are neighbors [online].”

  • France to offer counter-terrorism support to Libya

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has confirmed that France is considering providing Libya additional aid in counter-terrorism and police training. Since the NATO-supported revolt removed Muammar Gaddafi from office two years ago, Libya has not had an effective central government, and the country has turned into a battleground for rival militias and al Qaeda-linked militants.

  • Security agencies concerned about plastic guns

    The Undetectable firearms Act of 1988, which makes it illegal to manufacture, import, sell, ship, deliver, process, transfer, or receive a firearm which is not detectable by walk-through metal detection, is set to expire on 9 December 2013. If Congress fails to reauthorize the law, plastic guns will no longer require metal components which are detectable by metal detectors. “When these 3D firearms are manufactured, some of the weapons can defeat normal detection such as metal detectors, wands, and it could present a problem to public safety in a venue such as an airport, an arena, a courthouse,” says ATF assistant director Richard Marianos.

  • Sticks over carrots: the rationale of Assad’s counterinsurgency “madness”

    Counterinsurgency (COIN) efforts by the West, particularly over the past decade, have emphasized the limitation of violence and the importance of the local population. Western COIN practice focuses on establishing the perception of state legitimacy in the area around which the insurgency is taking place. The objective is to sway influence away from the insurgents and towards the regime by providing security, services, stability and growth. By contrast, Syrian efforts in counterinsurgency have not only avoided securing the civilian population, but have actively targeted it. Whereas Western COIN prioritizes “the people,” the Syrian strategy focuses on the elimination of the militant opposition regardless of the collateral violence. Assad’s “enemy-centric” approaches to counterinsurgency utilizes intense violence — targeting of refugees, schools, hospitals, and using chemical weapons — to divide public support from the insurgency by punishing the civil population.

  • GAO says TSA’s costly behavioral detection program falls short

    The Government Accountability Office(GAO) said last week that DHS may have wasted $1 billion on the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program. SPOT aims to spot terrorists by detecting “anomalous” or suspicious behavior. The anomalous behavior – perspiration, fidgeting, restlessness – is supposed to be the result of high levels of stress, fear, or deception. Individuals who exhibit anomalous behavior are subject to additional security screening.

  • U.S. designates Nigeria’s Boko Haram a foreign terrorist group

    The State Department on Wednesday designated the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization. The designation makes it possible for the United States to freeze the assets of the organization and its leaders and members, impose travel bans on members of the group, and prohibit Americans from offering material support to the organization. The department also designated Ansaru, a Boko Haram splinter faction, as a foreign terrorist organization. The United States says the designation would help the Nigerian government in fighting the growing threat of domestic Islamist terrorism.

  • Illegal population flows and African security

    FOI, the Swedish research institute, brought together scientists and experts from a number of countries to take part in a one-day conference at Medelhavsmuseet in Stockholm on illegal population flows and their consequences in Africa.

  • Kenya, Somalia to create joint anti-terrorism task force

    Al-Shabaab’s attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi last month has prompted security officials in Kenya and Somalia to consider the creation of a joint task force which will share intelligence, monitor activity, and track finances relating to terrorist groups operating in East Africa. Also under discussion is the establishment of a joint East African paramilitary force with jurisdiction throughout the region.