Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • Enabling small ships to launch and retrieve long-endurance UAVs

    About 98 percent of the world’s land area lies within 900 nautical miles of ocean coastlines. Enabling small ships to launch and retrieve long-endurance UAVs on demand would greatly expand the U.S. military’s situational awareness and ability quickly and flexibly to engage in hotspots over land or water. DARPA is seeking companies to develop these systems.

  • Two top North African terrorist leaders killed in north Mali

    The two top leaders of the Islamist militant insurgency in North Africa, Mokhtar Belmokhtar and Abdelhamid Abu Zeid, were killed over the weekend by a contingent of Chad soldiers, which are part of the African coalition forces fighting Islamist militants in north Mali. The two Islamist leaders were killed in fighting in the rugged Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range of northeastern Mali, where the Islamists, who had controlled north Mali since April 2012, have escaped after France began its military campaign against them in mid-January.

  • Domestic terrorism in France more likely in wake of Mali intervention

    Marc Trévidic, France’s most prominent investigative judge dealing with terrorism, warned that the on-going French military intervention in Mali has intensified the threat of terrorist attacks inside France by French citizens of African ancestry. He noted that initially the French security services were mostly concerned with jihadi elements among French citizens of North African Arab ancestry, that is, citizens hailing from Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Now, however, more attention is being paid to potential terrorist threats coming from those French citizens whose ancestry is Mali, Senegal, Nigeria, and Niger.

  • Major U.K. terrorism trial ends in three convictions

    Irfan Naseer, 31, Irfan Khalid, 27, and Ashik Ali, 27, all from Birmingham, were found guilty at Woolwich Crown Court of being “central figures” in a terrorist plot in which, as suicide bombers, they would have carried out an attack which would rival, in scope and destruction, the 7 July and 9/11 terrorist attacks. The prosecution said the three planned to set off up to eight bombs in rucksacks, using timers to detonate the charges. Detectives believe it is the most significant terror plot to be uncovered since the 2006 conspiracy to blow up transatlantic airliners using bombs disguised as soft drinks.

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  • Keeping an eye on the world’s dangerous chemicals

    In the chemistry labs of the developing world, it is not uncommon to find containers, forgotten on shelves, with only vague clues to their origins. The label, if there is one, is rubbed away. Left alone for years, some chemicals can quietly break down into explosive elixirs, and what was once an innocent experiment by a well-meaning scientist becomes a very real, unsecured threat. Should such chemicals fall into malicious hands, the consequences could be widespread and deadly.

  • Iran builds 50,000-strong Syrian Alawite militia for post-Assad era

    Officers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, aided by scores of Hezbollah officers, have been busy building, equipping, and training a new Alawite militia which will continue to protect Iranian and Hezbollah interests in Syria following the inevitable fall of Assad. The Assad regime already has a paramilitary militia, the shabiha, or “ghost,” units. The shabiha, together with Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, has concentrated on killing Sunni civilians in villages and towns deep inside Alawaite-majority areas. Syria and Hezbollah, however, have been worried for a while that, at the end, the loyalty of the shabaiha is to the Syrian Alawaite minority and its interest. Iran and Hezbollah want to create a well-armed militia which will be loyal to the interests of Iran and Hezbollah. The new, 50,000-strong militia, called Jaysh fighters, is a purely sectarian fighting force overseen by Iranian and Hezbollah commanders and separate from the shabiha paramilitaries.

  • Mali crisis will be the topic of Thursday House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing

    The House Foreign Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday, 14 February, entitled, The Crisis in Mali: U.S. Interests and the International Response.  “Today in Mali, you have battle-hardened, al-Qaeda-affiliated militants, armed to the teeth with weapons from Qadhafi’s stockpile, seeking safe haven,” said Representative Ed Royce (R-California), the committee chairman.

  • Bangladeshi man pleads guilty to trying to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank building

    A Bangladeshi man who triedattempted to use a weapon of mass destruction to blow up the New York Federal Reserve Bank has pleaded guilty to the charges. Under the plea agreement, he will faces up to life in prison.

  • Number of Muslim-Americans involved in domestic terrorism “vanishingly small”

    The number of Muslim-Americans planning or perpetrating terror plots has always been exceedingly small – and it is declining. Fourteen Muslim-Americans were indicted for violent terrorist plots in 2012, down from twenty-one the year before. For the second year in a row, there were no fatalities or injuries from Muslim-American terrorism. For comparison: the United States suffered approximately 14,000 murders in 2012. Since 9/11, Muslim-American terrorism has claimed thirty-three lives in the United States. During the same period, there were more than 180,000 murders committed in the United States.

  • Two Iraqi men arrested in Kentucky for aiding al Qaeda

    A pair of Iraqi men living in Kentucky were taken into custody and charged with twenty-three separate counts, including  terrorism, for allegedly helping al Qaeda carry out attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq. The two men also attempted to send weapons from the United States to the terrorist group.

  • Israel’s attacks in Syria indicate Assad’s deteriorating position

    Wednesday’s attacks are likely to be the first in a series of attacks which Israel will feel compelled to launch at an ever quickening pace as the Assad regime continues to disintegrate. Israel attacked targets inside Syria before, but not too often, and only when the targets were of strategic value. The deteriorating situation in Syria appears to have persuaded Israel that it has no choice but to renew its military operations inside Syria.

  • Promising substance for better cyanide antidote for terrorist attacks

    In an advance toward closing a major gap in defenses against terrorist attacks and other mass casualty events, scientists are reporting discovery of a promising substance that could be the basis for development of a better antidote for cyanide poisoning.

  • Conflicting cultural identities foster political radicalism

    New research suggests that dual-identity immigrants — first-generation immigrants and their descendants who identify with both their cultural minority group and the society they now live in — may be more prone to political radicalism if they perceive their two cultural identities to be incompatible.

  • Egypt military chief says country is on verge of “state collapse”

    General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s armed forces chief, has warned the other day that the current political crisis in Egypt “could lead to a collapse of the state.” General al-Sisi said such a collapse could “threaten future generations.” General Sisi suggested that the polarization of the civilian politics was becoming a concern of the military because “to affect the stability of the state institutions is a dangerous matter that harms Egyptian national security.”

  • Morsi’s top aid: Holocaust a “hoax” concocted by U.S. intelligence

    Fathi Shihab-Eddim, a senior aid to Egypt’s president Morsi, said the other day that Holocaust was “a hoax” concocted by the U.S. intelligence services. Shihab-Eddim also said that six million Jews were never killed – they simply emigrated to the United States.