Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • The Qatar organizers of the 2022 Soccer World Cup are tied to terrorist groups

    Qatar bribed FIFA officials so they would vote to award it the 2022 Soccer World Cup. In addition to the likely corruption investigation, FIFA is also grappling with the question of the temperature in Qatar in the summer. Several state football associations, and many medical specialists, said that the summer heat in Qatar is such that it would be dangerous for players to play for ninety minutes, and risky for spectators to sit in the stands during games. Now news has emerged that leading figures inthe Qatar World Cup committee are supporters of terrorism, contributing millions of dollars to al Qaeda and its affiliates in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

  • KSM: al Qaeda’s strategy is war of attrition to force U.S. out of Islamic lands

    In one of the only statements he has made since his capture in 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the accused mastermind of the 9/11 terror attacks, has said al Qaeda is in “a war of attrition” with the United States. He made the statement during a 27 February interview with U.S. defense attorneys for Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, who is facing conspiracy charges in a U.S. federal court in New York. Mohammed said the primary operational goal of al Qaeda was to provoke the United States into futile, expensive, and bloody wars, thus advancing a strategic aim of forcing U.S. and Western retrenchment from Islamic lands. “Every state of emergency declared and every change of alert level that inflicts specific procedures on the military and civilian sectors costs the country millions of dollars. It is enough that the U.S. government has incurred losses upwards of a trillion dollars in the wars it has waged in the aftermath of 9/11, the bleeding of which continues to this day,” Mohammed said.

  • Post-Qaddafi Libya needs more international support: study

    The international community’s limited approach to postwar Libya has left the nation struggling and on the brink of civil war, according to a new study from the RAND Corporation. Libya’s most serious problem since 2011 has been a lack of security, which has undermined efforts to build functioning political and administrative institutions, further constricted an already minimal international footprint, and facilitated the expansion of criminal and jihadist groups. The lack of security stems primarily from the failure of the effort to disarm and demobilize rebel militias after the war.

  • Synthetic biology makes bioweapons easier to make

    Scientists and policy makers are no longer unconditionally promoting scientific innovation for fear that current and future biological breakthroughs may lead to dangerous applications. Traditionally, government-backed institutions and pharmaceutical firms fueled biological innovation, but today, the barriers that limited innovation to those institutions are diminishing. The low cost and significantly reduced level of necessary expertise have provided anyone interested in developing biological technology the tools to do so. Synthetic biology, the design and engineering of biological devices and systems, has given terrorists the capability to launch attacks using synthetic organisms without detection.


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  • Libyan PM escapes country after assembly ousts him over oil tanker fiasco

    Libya’s General National Congress has approved a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ali Zeidan and designated the defense minister as acting prime minister. Zeidan left Libya after the vote, in all likelihood for Italy. The no-confidence vote came after a North Korean-flagged tanker named Morning Glory managed to sail away from the port of al Sidra, carrying 234,000 barrels of crude oil from rebel-held oil fields. Last summer, armed militias in east Libya took over most of the country’s oil fields – and also three ports, with partial control of a fourth — bringing oil exports, which had amounted to 1.6 million barrels a day, to a halt. U.S. describes oil sale by the militias as “theft” from the Libyan people.

  • FERC orders development of physical security standards for transmission grid

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Friday directed the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to develop reliability standards requiring owners and operators of the Bulk-Power System to address risks due to physical security threats and vulnerabilities.

  • Allowing Terrorism Risk Insurance Act to expire could hurt national security: Study

    The current terrorism risk insurance program has a $27.5 billion threshold for aggregate losses that are paid by the insurance industry and commercial policyholders before the government program begins paying. The program will expire in 2014 and Congress again is considering the appropriate government role in terrorism insurance markets. Allowing the federal terrorism risk insurance act to expire could have negative consequences for U.S. national security, according to a new study from the RAND Corporation.

  • Gangbangin' in Syria: Two L.A. gang members in Syria to defend Assad regime

    About a hundred Americans have gone to Syria to take part in the war, all of them — with the apparent exception of two L.A. gang members named “Creeper” and “Wino” — to fight on the side of the Sunni rebels against the Alawite Assad regime. In a video recently posted on YouTube, the two are shown brandishing AK-47s and firing at an unseen enemy. Their tattoos identify one of them as a member of Sureños-13, which is affiliated with the Mexican mafia, and the other as a member of Westside Armenian Power gang. They tell the camera they are “in Syria, gangbangin’.”

  • Too much too young? Teaching children about violent extremism

    Dealing with the rise of homegrown terrorism has prompted governments to take novel approaches in combating such threats. The U.K. government, for example, has recently pushed for schools to teach children as young as four about the dangers of violent extremism. One counter-radicalization strategy adopted by the U.K. government is Prevent, which has been used effectively in British secondary schools. Prevent has in the past been viewed with suspicion, however, particularly by British Muslim communities, as Prevent funding has previously been tied directly to the number of Muslim schools in an area. What Australia can learn from the British example is ensuring that certain communities do not feel alienated. Instead, any attempts at education should focus on the problem of radicalization as a whole.

  • Israel intercepts ship carrying Syrian missiles from Iran to Gaza

    In its most daring – and logistically demanding –military operation in about a year, Israeli naval commandos earlier yesterday (Wednesday) intercepted an Iranian arms ship in the Red Sea, more than 900 miles from Israeli shores. The ship was carrying dozens of Syria-manufactured M-302 medium-range missiles from Iran to Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip. The M-302 missile would have dramatically increased the capabilities of militant organizations in Gaza. It carries a warhead of 150 kg and has a range of about 300km.

  • Libyan Islamists tried to ship mustard gas to Syrian rebels

    Libyan officials report that they have recently apprehended several members of a Libyan Muslim extremist militia planning to ship chemical weapons to anti-Assad rebels in Syria. Colonel Mansour al-Mazini of the Libya army said that the Islamists had been caught with a container of mustard gas. The gas was confiscated by Libyan soldiers.

  • Egyptian court bans all Hamas activities

    An Egyptian earlier today (Tuesday) banned all activities of Hamas, a Palestinian offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas has been in control of the Gaza Strip since summer 2007. In December, the Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist group, freezing its assets, making membership in the group a crime, and banning all its political activities. The Egyptian military, now holding effective power in Egypt, has always regarded Hamas as a security threat, accusing the group of supporting Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula and Islamists radicals inside Egypt.

  • Militant Islamism in Russia is the product of outside influences

    Muslims in Russia, who belong to Turkic ethnic groups (this includes the largest Muslim group in Russia, the Tatars), practice moderate Sunni Islam of the Hanafite school. Russian Muslims living in the Caucasus Mountains practice Sunni Islam of the Shafiite school. A large number of Russian Muslims also follow Sufi orders — Naqshbandi, Qadiri, and others. The radicalization of some Russian Muslims began in the early 1990s with Saudi-financed madrassas where radical and fundamentalist strands of Islam were taught, and where Islamist militants were trained, and with Saudi-financed radical preachers spreading “true Islam.” The madrassas were closed in 2000, and the fundamentalist preachers ordered out of the country, but by then enough Russian Muslims were already radicalized.

  • Experts call for a new organization to oversee grid’s cybersecurity

    In 2013, U.S. critical infrastructure companies reported about 260 cyberattacks on their facilities to the federal government. Of these attacks, 59 percent occurred in the energy sector. A new report proposes that energy companies should create an industry-led organization to deflect cyber threats to the electric grid. Modeled after the nuclear industry’s Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, the proposed organization, to be called the Institute for Electric Grid Cybersecurity, would oversee all the energy industry players that could compromise the electric grid if they came under a cyberattack.

  • Islamists kill nearly 100 in weekend attacks in Nigeria

    At least ninety people have been killed in three weekend attacks over the weekend by Islamist group Boko Haram. The attacks took place in northeast Nigeria, the area where the group attacks have killed thousands of people since 2009. This past weekend’s attacks cap three weeks in which the Islamist militants killed more than 400 people. Since last May, the Nigerian government has placed three states in the region — Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe — under a state of emergency in an effort to defeat the Islamic insurgency, but to little effect. The Nigerian military campaign has been criticized by military experts, who say the military has adopted an approach which is too passive to be effective against nimble insurgents. The quality of the troops and their commanders is low, resulting in guard being left unstaffed, slow response – at times several hours — to reports of attacks and calls for help, and soldiers abandoning their posts and running away in the face of the attacks.