• What is Britain First, and what it stands for

    Early on Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos — one of them fake — which had earlier been posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the vehemently anti-Muslim British hate group Britain First. Fransen was convicted last year by a British court for harassing a woman wearing a hijab – in front of the woman’s children. Here is a brief backgrounder of Britain First and its history.

  • Israel warned Assad it will take action to prevent Iran’s military presence in Syria

    Israel passed a message to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad through an intermediary that it would take military action in Syria if Iran is allowed to establish a permanent military presence in Syria. Israel has not intervened in the Syrian conflict, but has taken action to prevent the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah and to prevent military infrastructure being established on its border.

  • Should we fear the rise of drone assassins? Two experts debate

    A new short film from the Campaign Against Killer Robots warns of a future where weaponized flying drones target and assassinate certain members of the public, using facial recognition technology to identify them. Is this a realistic threat that could rightly spur an effective ban on the technology? Or is it an overblown portrayal designed to scare governments into taking simplistic, unnecessary and ultimately futile action? Two academics offer their expert opinions.

  • Saudi-led Islamic counterterrorism alliance holds first summit meeting

    Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the young but dominant figure in Saudi Arabia, on Sunday convened a meeting in Riyadh of top defense officials from forty-one Muslim countries for the first summit of the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Alliance. Saudi Arabia announced the alliance in December 2015 to fight “terrorism,” singling out the “Islamic State” (IS) as a disease tarnishing the name of Islam. Analysts note that the real target of the new alliance may not be Islamist extremism, but Iran. All the alliance members are Sunni-majority or Sunni-led countries. The alliance does not include Shiite Iran; Syria, which is ruled by Alawite president Bashar al-Assad; or Iraq, which is led by a Shiite government.

  • Could gene editing tools such as CRISPR be used as a biological weapon?

    The gene editing technique CRISPR has been in the limelight after scientists reported they had used it to safely remove disease in human embryos for the first time. Concerns are mounting that gene editing could be used in the development of biological weapons. In 2016, Bill Gates remarked that “the next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus”. More recently, in July 2017, John Sotos, of Intel Health & Life Sciences, stated that gene editing research could “open up the potential for bioweapons of unimaginable destructive potential.” Biological warfare is not an inevitable consequence of advances in the life sciences. The development and use of such weapons requires agency. It requires countries making the decision to steer the direction of life science research and development away from hostile purposes. An imperfect international convention cannot guarantee that these states will always decide against the hostile exploitation of biology. Yet it can influence such decisions by shaping an environment in which the disadvantages of pursuing such weapons outweigh the advantages.

  • Reducing IED threats: Commercially available precursor chemicals should be better monitored

    Policymakers’ efforts to reduce threats from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) should include greater oversight of precursor chemicals sold at the retail level – especially over the internet – that terrorists, violent extremists, or criminals use to make homemade explosives, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences. While retail sales of these precursor chemicals present a substantial vulnerability, they have not been a major focus of federal regulations so far.

  • 285 killed, 300 wounded in terrorist attack in Egypt

    A packed mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai was attacked by gunman earlier today, at the height of Friday prayers. The gunmen set off explosives and opened fire, killing at least 285 people and wounding about 300 in the deadliest ever attack on Egyptian civilians by Islamic terrorists. The attack took place at the Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, about forty kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of el-Arish. The Sinai has seen repeated deadly attacks by Islamist militants in the last four years.

  • Guantanamo was a huge mistake: Former DHS counsel

    The controversial Guantanamo Bay Detention Center has been largely out of the headlines during the last year — that is, until President Donald Trump recently threatened to send New York terror suspect Sayfullo Saipov to the shadowy prison in Cuba. Former President Barack Obama had promised to shut down Guantanamo Bay on various occasions dating back to his 2008 presidential campaign, but failed to do so during his eight years in office. Andy Gordon, who served as counsel to the general counsel at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from April 2009 to October 2010 and who is now an adjunct professor at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law says: “Guantanamo was a huge mistake with no real forethought, and we will be paying for this for a very long time.”

  • Russia vetoes UN chemical weapons investigation in Syria

    In an effort to protect the Assad regime from more damaging revelations about the regime’s use of chemical weapons, Russia, on Thursday and Friday, vetoed two resolutions to extend the mandate of Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), set up by the UN to investigate the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian civil war. JIM’s mandate expired on Friday.

  • Developing autonomous drone swarms for urban warfare

    DoD has awarded a team of researchers $7.1 million to develop a drone swarm infrastructure to help the U.S. military in urban combat. The goal is to develop a technology which would allow troops to control scores of unmanned air and ground vehicles at a time.

  • Why some Muslim clerics become jihadists

    What turns people into radical jihadist clerics? A new book offers a new answer: thwarted career ambitions. More specifically, the book — Deadly Clerics: Blocked Ambition and the Paths to Jihad by MIT political scientist Richard Nielsen —finds that a certain portion of Muslim clerics who end up advocating for jihad, that is, war against Islam’s foes, started out as mainstream clerics looking for state-sponsored jobs where they could use their intellectual training, only to become unemployed, disenchanted, and radicalized.

  • Cost of War on Terror since 9/11: $5.6 trillion

    As of late September 2017, the United States wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria and the additional spending on Homeland Security, and the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs since the 9/11 attacks totaled more than $4.3 trillion in current dollars. Adding likely costs for FY2018 and estimated future spending on veterans, the costs of war total more than $5.6 trillion. Over 6,800 U.S. soldiers have died in the wars.

  • At least 26 dead after worst mass shooting in Texas history at San Antonio-area church

    A lone gunman killed at least 26 people and injured many more at a church in Sutherland Springs. The tiny town was left reeling from the deadliest shooting at a place of worship in American history. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 72. The gunman has since been identified as 26-year old Devin Patrick Kelley. Kelley served in the Air Force and was court-martialed in 2012 for assaulting his spouse and their child. He received a bad conduct discharge, 12 months’ confinement, and a reduction in rank.

  • The Halloween terror attack in New York: The threat from foreign-born terrorists

    From 1975 through 31 October 2017, the annual chance of being murdered in a terror attack on U.S. soil committed by a foreign-born person stands at 1 in 3,808,094 per year. In all, 3,037 people have been murdered on U.S. soil by 182 foreign-born terrorists from 1975 through 31 October 2017 (this figure includes the nearly 3,000 killed on 9/11). Of those 182 foreign-born terrorists, 63 initially entered with green cards. Including Tuesday’s attack, those who entered on a green card killed 16 people, or about 0.53 percent of all people murdered in terror attacks on U.S. soil committed by a foreigner. If the number of injuries in Tuesday’s attack stays at 12, terrorists who entered on green cards have injured about 203 people during this period in attacks.

  • Newly released Bin Laden papers confirm Iran, Al Qaeda allied as enemies of America

    The CIA has released thousands of documents and other files recovered from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, when the terrorist leader was killed, providing “invaluable insights” into the terror group’s operations, and confirming previous reporting on its ties to Iran. Though ties between al-Qaeda, the Sunni terrorist organization, and Iran, the Shiite nation that has been designated by the United States State Department as “foremost state sponsor of terrorism,” have been reported for a while now, they have often been discounted due to their diverging religious philosophies.