Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • U.S. law enforcement agencies perceive Sovereign citizen movement as top terrorist threat

    Sovereign citizen, Islamist extremist, and militia/patriot groups are perceived by U.S. law enforcement agencies to pose the greatest threats to their communities, according to a new study. While sovereign citizens were the top concern of law enforcement, assessments about whether most groups were a serious terrorist threat actually declined for most groups (for example, the KKK; Christian Identity; Neo-Nazis; Racist Skinheads; Environmental Extremists; Animal Rights Extremists) when compared to a previous study. The authors conducted in-depth interviews with officers representing 175 state, local, and tribal (SLT) law enforcement agencies, and found that the Sovereign Citizen movement was the most highly ranked threat, with 86 percent of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing that it was a serious terrorist threat. Approximately 67 percent agreed or strongly agreed that Islamist extremists were a serious terrorist threat.

  • A 72-hour cease-fire to go into effect this morning

    Both Israel and the Palestinian delegation to Cairo, which includes Hamas representatives, have accepted an Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour cease-fire to begin at 08:00 Middle East time (02:00 EST) today (Tuesday).

    This is the same proposal Egypt put forth two weeks ago, which Israel had accepted but which was rejected by Hamas. It is not clear whether the cease-fire will go into effect, or will go into effect and then violated. Six earlier humanitarian cease-fires were violated by Hamas within minutes of going into effect. Israel, in the meantime, has concluded the destruction of thirty-one Hamas tunnels which reached inside Israel. Hamas was planning to use the tunnels for a Mumbai-like simultaneous, coordinated attack on Israeli kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip for the purpose of killing Israeli civilians – possibly hundreds of them – and capturing scores to be brought back into Gaza to be used as bargaining chips to extract concessions from Israel.

  • Top Hamas official: Jews use blood of non-Jewish children for Passover matzos

    Hamas is an avowedly and openly anti-Semitic movement, and the group’s loathing of Jews is part and parcel of its charter and what it teaches young Palestinians in the schools it controls. Hamas leaders, when they speak to Western audiences, are usually careful not to highlight this facet of the group’s ideology, but the other day one of Hamas’s leaders, in a televised interview, used the centuries-old “matzo blood libel,” asserting that Jews kill non-Jewish children in order to use their blood to make matzos for Passover. He linked the death of Palestinian children in Gaza during the Israel-Hamas war to the Jewish thirst for killing non-Jewish children.

  • Israel announces 7-hour cease fire, continues withdrawal of forces from Gaza

    Israel declared a seven-hour “humanitarian window” in parts of Gaza on Monday, while withdrawing most of its ground forces from northern Gaza following the destruction of tunnels leading into Israel. International criticism continues following what appeared to be a deadly Israeli attack on a UN school sheltering displaced Palestinians. Initial Israeli investigation indicates that it is doubtful the Israeli airstrike against three Islamic Jihad fighters who were located about forty or fifty meters from the school had anything to do with the bodies of the dead in the schoolyard: Israel continuously monitors the area from drones and blimps, and initial video footage shows the bodies of the three Islamic Jihad fighters being dragged from where they were killed to the school yard — and that at least one schoolgirl is seen getting up and walking away after lying on the floor, covered in red dye and pretending to be dead. All previous cease-fires have collapsed after Hamas continued to its rocket launching into Israeli towns.

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  • Gaza reconstruction would cost at least $6 billion

    Reconstruction in Gaza, where heavy Israeli bombardment in a war with Islamist militant group Hamas, has destroyed thousands of buildings, damaged water, sewage, and power infrastructure, and displaced about 300,000 people, will cost at least $6 billion, the Palestinian deputy prime minister says. This time, Mohammed Mustafa said, Palestinians hope donors to the reconstruction effort will make good on aid pledges. In 2009, only a fraction of the nearly $5 billion in funds pledged at an international conference after a three-week war between Israel and Hamas actually arrived in Gaza.

  • Egypt considering military action in Libya

    The disintegration of Libya may draw Egypt into eastern Libya. Amr Moussa, Egypt’s former foreign minister and former secretary-general of the Arab League, said Egypt should consider the possibility of a military response to the growing unrest in neighboring Libya, as this unrest now threatens Egypt’s national security. Moussa’s prominence, and his closeness to Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has led to speculation that an Egyptian offensive in Libya is on the table. Moussa’s statement comes against a backdrop of growing Egyptian fears that factional fighting in Libya, which has forced most Western diplomats to flee the country, could spill over the border. Last month, a Libyan Islamist militia infiltrated Egypt and killed twenty-one Egyptian soldiers in a military base near the border with Libya.

  • China keeps tight control of news from tumultuous Xinjiang region

    Last week a remote county in China’s far west exploded in what was the country’s worst ethnic violence since 2009, but it took the Chinese government six days to put out an exact death toll. Beijing’s iron-fisted grip on the minority region makes it clear when, and whether, a full picture of what happened might emerge. The Chinese government exploits its expansive controls and propaganda to maintain a monopoly on the narrative in the tense region of Xinjiang, where minority Uighurs complain of oppression under Beijing’s rule, and where Islamists have joined in the fight for greater autonomy for the Muslim-majority province.

  • Also noted

    Spain arrests 2 alleged female jihadists | U.S. recon jet enters Swedish air to avoid Russians | Survivors dug out from China quake that killed 398 | 22 killed in day of clashes over Libyan airport | Ukrainian army closes in on Donetsk as rebel fighters call on Russia for help |The Royal Navy evacuates Britons from Libya amid fierce fighting | Islamic State seizes town of Sinjar, pushing out Kurds and sending Yazidis fleeing | Lebanese soldiers die as Syria rebels raid border town

  • Cease-fire collapses after Hamas violates it; Israeli soldier captured

    As was the case with five earlier humanitarian cease-fires, a UN-sponsored 72-hour cease-fire, which was announced last night by Secretary of State John Kerry and which went into effect at 08:00 am (02:00 EST) – was immediately violated by Hamas. This time, at 09:30, an hour-and-half after the cease-fire went into effect, a group of Hamas fighters, which included one suicide bomber, emerged from a tunnel to attack an IDF force near the city of Rafah. The fierce fire exchange ended with a score of Hamas fighters dead, two IDF soldier killed, and several IDF soldiers injured – but the most important result was that the surviving Hamas fighters were able to capture an injured or dead IDF soldier and drag him back into the tunnel. Israel has informed the UN that the cease-fire was over, and heavy fighting across Gaza resumed.

  • Civilian deaths in Gaza conflict are not automatically a war crime

    Civilian shielding of its facilities is a declared Hamas military tactic. The evidence of rocket pits and weapon dumps located in, around and under mosques, schools, homes and hospitals is incontrovertible. Constant broadcasts calling upon, as well as occasional physical forcing of, the populace to protect Hamas assets with their bodies are well-documented. It is sickening that Hamas chose not to build public bomb shelters in Gaza, despite using hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete on military tunnels to initiate hostilities with Israel. The tragic Palestinian death toll does not demonstrate Israeli attacks are disproportionate to legitimate military objectives. It does display a disgusting strategic decision by Hamas to exploit civilians to shield its combatants. Its civilian deaths generate selective outrage in support of its political and economic goals. This atrocity committed by Hamas against its own Gazan population is where an honest war crime investigation would begin.

  • Increasing Hezbollah activity in Europe worries security officials

    This month, it was revealed that Hezbollah agents operating in Europe made procurements for “parts and technologies” in Bulgaria which would allow them to operate surveillance drones in the country. The activities on the part of Iran-partnered Hezbollah over the past two years mark a historical change in terms of their European operations and planning — a rise in activity following a lower profile after their more renown activities of the 1980s.

  • DHS slow to inspect high-risk chemical plants

    Congress passed the $595 million Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standardsprogram in 2006 to help regulate high-risk chemical facilities, but nearly a year after the massive chemical explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, a new report found little improvement in securing threats from the U.S. 4,011 high-risk chemical facilities.As of 30 June, DHS has not yet conducted security compliance inspections on 3,972 of the 4,011 high-risk chemical facilities.

  • ISIS’s appeal to Islamist recruits grows as al Qaeda seen as stale, tired, and ineffectual

    Advances by militant groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the midst of turmoil in the Arab world, while al-Qaeda’s aging leaders remain relatively silent, have led would-be terrorists and Islamic scholars to question al-Qaeda’s influence on global Jihad and its would-be fighters. Within the social circles of potential militant recruits, al-Qaeda is increasingly seen as stale, tired, and ineffectual.

  • More Westerners join ISIS following the group’s successes in Iraq

    Of the 10,000 foreign fighters who have already joined militant groups in Syria and Iraq, 3,000 hold European or other Western passports, making it easy for them to travel across most borders. U.S. officials report that as many as 100 foreign fighters hold U.S. passports, leading to worries that foreign fighters may return to the United States to launch an attack.

  • 9/11 Commission: U.S. faces new and dangerous terrorist threat

    The members of the 9/11 Commission, led by Chairman Tom Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, released a new report the other day to reflect what they describe as the altered but dangerous terrorist threat facing the United States. Members of the commission say that ten years after the release of the commission’s original report, with increasing threats from the resurgence and transformation of al Qaeda, Syria, and a rapidly changing cyberspace, the commission’s new report calls for a vigorous and proactive counterterrorism effort.