Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why can out military not defend itself inside the US

There have been two successful attacks that against US Army installations in the last few years. This brings my to my point why can soldiers not defend themselves outside of a war zone? The soldiers at Ft. Hood were out processing to go to Afghanistan yet there was not a loaded weapon in the place except for a civilian police officer. In Little Rock the same thing was in place the young men just back from boot camp were not armed and neither were any of the recruiters.

If there is a segment of our society that I would expect to be armed it would be our armed forces. Yet the military is making it harder for them to be that way at home. Yes there is a law about the armed forces carrying out operations inside of the US. There is no law however that should leave them defenseless in case of an attack.

U.S. Terrorism 2010

In 2010 according to the National Counter Terrorism Center there were four successful acts of terrorism in 2010 all of these conducted by the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). From 2004 to the third quarter of 2010 there have been 39 successful terrorist attacks carried out in the US and Canada.
5 Islamic related
20 Animal Liberation Front / Earth Liberation Front
5 Anarchist
9 unknown
What these numbers hide however are the over 20 attempted attacks by Muslim terrorists in the US alone in 2010. According to a Department of Homeland Security in a report issued in May of 2010 that stated in part "The evolving threat and increasing resilience of al-Qa-ida and other terrorist organizations have be highlighted by the number of recent domestic events, including the Times Square bombing attempt, the Fort Hood attack, and the December 2009 airline bomb plot. The number and pace of attempted attacks against the United States over the past nine months have surpassed the number of attempts during any other one year period." This report did not report the bombs mailed from Yemen or the attempted attack in Oregon in November of 2010. Islamic terrorists love spectacular attacks car bombings, suicide bombings, vehicle suicide bombings etc...In the U.S. these types of attacks so far have failed due to good luck and intelligence on our side and bad luck on the terrorist side.

The reaction to the Fort Hood shooting attack and the recent killings in Tuscon by a deranged man should give AQ a new type of tactic to focus on. While this analysis is very cold it is the truth. Simple mass gunfire attacks have a better chance at success and the fallout in US political circles is huge also there is the terror that the jihadist so much want to sow. Where will the next attack fall? So far there have been two successful jihadist gunfire attacks in the US one at an Army recruiting station in Little Rock, AR and the second at Ft. Hood, TX. Firearms while needing skill to use require less than bomb making and planting.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

this is a bit dated but I think still rings true

After the 9/11 and the anthrax attacks that occurred in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon the government and media of the United States saw a nuclear weapon on every containership coming into a port and a biological agent in every envelope. The Anthrax attacks were particularly frightening because they occurred soon after the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01 letters laced with anthrax began appearing in the U.S. mail. Five Americans were killed, 17 were sickened, and the nation was terrorized in what became the worst biological attacks in U.S. history . The threat of terrorists getting Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was also used as a pretext for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The WMD threat is an especially difficult issue for policymakers because of the virtual impossibility of preparing in a comprehensive way for the huge variety of potential attacks and the many toxic and chemical substances that might be used . By focusing on what potentially is the most deadly but also hardest, attack to commit the United States is diluting the effort to combat terror by not focusing on other more viable threats. A nuclear weapon detonating in a U.S. city would cause massive casualties. The Threat of WMD use especially nuclear weapons is horrific with the effects being:
The energy of a nuclear explosion is transferred to the surrounding medium in three distinct forms: blast; thermal radiation; and nuclear radiation. The distribution of energy among these three forms will depend on the yield of the weapon, the location of the burst, and the characteristics of the environment. For a low altitude atmospheric detonation of a moderate sized weapon in the kiloton range, the energy is distributed roughly as follows:
50% as blast;
35% as thermal radiation; made up of a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum, including infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light and some soft x-ray emitted at the time of the explosion; and
15% as nuclear radiation; including 5% as initial ionizing radiation consisting chiefly of neutrons and gamma rays emitted within the first minute after detonation, and 10% as residual nuclear radiation. Residual nuclear radiation is the hazard in fallout .

Hiroshima after being attacked by an atomic bomb
Despite the horrific effects of a nuclear weapon on a city it is still difficult to obtain and detonate nuclear weapons. Terrorists have much easier options such as suicide bombings, conventional gunfire and bombing attacks as well as using chemical agents. The threat of WMD use especially nuclear weapons has caused the United States government to focus on preventing terrorist groups from acquiring and bringing nuclear weapons into the country. This strategy as well intentioned but it is has caused a loss of focus on the true capabilities and intentions of terrorists groups. The terrorist cells that have been arrested in the United States may have desired a nuclear weapon but so far none seem to have the means to acquire one. These groups however can cause mass casualties through the use of explosives. This was seen in the first attack on the World Trade Center and the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City which killed 168 people and until 9/11 was the worst incident of terror on United States soil. Since 2004 there have been 24 confirmed terrorist attacks in the United States . The attacks carried out in the United States actually reflect the methods terrorists are using and paint a better picture of capabilities of these groups. It is these methods and groups that should be the focus of domestic anti-terrorism resources.
Terrorist Attack Methods 2004-2009
Arson / Incendiary 11
Bombings 8
Shootings 3
Chemical / Biological 2

The focus on WMDs has taken law-enforcement and intelligence resources away from the more likely capabilities of terrorism. These policies have left the United States even more vulnerable to conventional attacks. Dirty bomb and chemical threats can be developed from hazardous material, yet over the past three years funds for secure disposal of these items has been drastically reduced. While only four people have been killed and twenty one wounded by terrorist attacks in the United States since 2004 the focus continues to be the constant worry over a nuclear detonation. When the focus should be on the known groups and their current capabilities if these groups can be rolled up now the chances of the acquisition of WMD will be diminished.
The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack and the follow on invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq have ushered in a new age of terrorism. The United States and its NATO allies attacked Afghanistan and drove the Taliban and al Qaeda into Pakistan and other parts of the world. This attack and the world wide hunt for al-Qaeda has killed, captured, and disrupted the older cadres of the group. This older cadre consisted of Afghan war veterans and the younger men who took to the call of jihad after the Soviet Union pulled out of Afghanistan. The third wave of terrorists which the United States and the world are combating now comes from the worldwide Diaspora of Muslims spread throughout the world. This group is made up of the children of émigrés or childhood immigrants themselves to the West. These under or un-employed young men are becoming self-radicalized from radical imams, literature, and the internet.
While the September 11, 2001 attacks forged a new united front against international terrorism that in itself will not help solve the problem. This united front against terrorism however faces difficulties when the terrorists are citizens or legal aliens of the country they are attacking. The Madrid train bombers for example were self financed and reasonably well to do, most were legal Spanish residents, and many were married with children. However they were radicalized by the internet and other media. This has been a focus of al-Qaeda and other groups. As-Sahab is Al Qaeda's technically sophisticated propaganda unit, responsible for the group's Internet videos and all other postings and communications. It is presumed to conduct its work from a hideout in northern Pakistan or southern Afghanistan, in close proximity to Al Qaeda's leadership. As-Sahab emphasizes Islamic theology in buttressing its calls to violence, and preaches that jihad is mandatory for Muslims. Messages also focus on maintaining Islamic unity in the face of psychological warfare tactics initiated by the United States and its allies. The United States also faces these self starter groups as several plots have disrupted in the last few years. These attempted attacks have not come from terrorist snuck into the country to perform attacks but from Muslim citizens, converts to Islam, and long term residents. In September of 2009 three legal U.S. residents were charged with lying to the FBI during an investigation and one was charged with plotting to set off a weapon of mass destruction, also another U.S. citizen was arrested for trying to detonate a truck bombing in Illinois. In Texas an illegal alien from Jordan was also arrested trying to detonate a truck bomb in Dallas. These domestic terrorists are the new face if Islamic terrorism.
Islamic terrorism is not the only terror issue being addressed by the United States currently. The right wing and single issue terror groups are also capable of launching deadly attacks. The largest being the attack on the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City which until 9/11 was the largest terrorist attack on United States soil. This attack was a shock to the United States as it was not committed by a Muslim sect but by a crew cut white man. This is not to say that Right Wing and Islamic groups are committing the most terrorist attacks in the United States. Single issue groups such as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) has committed more than 600 crimes since 1996 and in 2002 stated it would “no longer hesitate to pick up the gun. ” Since 2004 the environmental groups have committed 11 acts of terrorism in the United States the most of any group that has been identified .

The United States faces several threats not only from trans-national groups such as al-Qaeda and Hezbollah but also from self radicalized Muslims and members of the far right and single issue groups. These threats have changed the way that Federal law-enforcement operates as the FBI is now focused on counter-terrorism. The FBI's overriding priority is to protect America from terrorism attacks. The FBI’s new counter-terrorism mission is to identify and disrupt potential terrorist plots by individuals or terror cells, freezing terrorist finances, sharing information with law enforcement and intelligence partners worldwide, and providing strategic and operational threat analysis to the wider intelligence community . The government’s reaction to the terrorist threat has also led some to believe that there has been a reduction in civil liberties with the passage of the Patriot Act. If there is another mass casualty attack that is generated from inside the United States there maybe a further call for an increase in law-enforcement and intelligence gathering powers in the United States. While terrorism was not new to the United States before September 11, 2001 and further attacks and attempted attacks have continued since, the publics’ and government’s attention has been sharply focused on the subject of terrorism. However the vision may not be a broad as needed as it seems to focus on one group, Islamic terrorism at the expense of others.

Since this was written the Ft. Hood attack took place as well as several more disrupted attacks.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Busy day

Hezbollah walked out of the Lebanese government today over the Hariri murder investigation and the fact it is going to be proven they carried out the attack which in turn proves the Syria and Iran were behind the attack. While I doubt would go as far as to point fingers at the states that sponsor Hezbollah it goes without saying they were aware it was going to happen. Also Hezbollah does not like to be seen as anything but a a legitimate political party remember they are defenders of Lebanon not terrorists. This report could have far reaching consequences on the world's out look on Hezbollah. However unfortunately I doubt most Americans even know who or what Hezbollah is or represents.

Secondly it was reported 31 minutes ago that US drones hit a target in N. Waziristan in the area controlled by the Haqqani Network. This attack reportedly killed at least six. The drum beat of attacks has again picked up in North Waziristan as an attack was launched yesterday. When reading the article from the Long War Journal pay special attention to the number of Britons and Germans killed over the last several months.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Haqqani Network Under-Siege

“I will never forget the anger in the eyes of those Saudis when my friend and I, obviously Westerners, entered to talk with Haqqani .

What does the quote from the 1980s have to do with the status of the modern day Haqqani Network (HN)? There are reports that the Haqqanis may at least for the time being have been targeted enough that their activities have been suppressed. I bring up the Saudi connection because there are forces outside of US control that have a stake in keeping the HN active. The HN has a generation of outside support from the Middle East that could keep the group flush with money that would allow the group to continue to recruit, train, equip, and operate. From their sanctuary in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan the Haqqanis have rebuilt their forces since the Soviet invasion in 1979.
Current Operations:
The Haqqani network is being targeted in both of their strongholds, in the FATA by increasing US drone strikes and in Afghanistan by US and allied special and conventional forces.
In Pakistan the continuing drone strikes have focused on North Waziristan and the Haqqani and al-Qaeda (AQ) networks there. September and October of 2010 saw 34 drone strikes in HN areas with 206 killed. In addition two “hot pursuit” helicopter attacks killed another 50 Haqqani fighters. In Afghanistan at least 30 HN members were captured in Khost province alone during the month of December . “The so called HN is on its heels” in eastern Afghanistan “we have captured and killed many many of their fighters and mid level leaders” according to Army Col. Viet Luong .
This assault against the HN which began in 2009 has used a popular police tactic when dealing with gangs. Pick up enough of the foot soldiers and mid-level commanders and gang operations begin to be affected. In a report to the British government September – November of 2010 British and US Special operations and conventional forces killed 3200 Taliban including 387 mid and high level commanders . In addition to this attempts by the HN to launch large scale attacks have also been unsuccessful. August – October 2010 the HN launched four large scale assaults to see them all repulsed with a loss of at least 112 fighters . These losses may have caused the HN to have to change their tactics.
“The Haqqani’s have been forced to scale back attacks on district centers, fortified government infrastructure, and mass infantry attacks throughout the latter half of 2009 and first half of 2010, out of concern for the loss of indigenous human capital. The population that Haqqani relies on for recruits, shelter, and support has grown increasingly frustrated with the preponderance of civilian casualties and the death of recruits in Haqqani-linked operations. The Haqqanis have not been able to conduct large scale direct assaults and instead have relied increasingly on asymmetric attacks such as IEDs .”
Another sign of success against the HN is that they have not launched a major attack in Kabul in over seven months . Previously the group has tried to assassinate President Karzai, used suicide borne vehicle improvised explosive devices, and sophisticated suicide bombing attacks that were supported by assault teams to get the bomber to their target.
The 2010 fighting season has slowed down and the HN have been knocked back some. Now is the time to talk about 2011.
While the Haqqanis might have trouble recruiting from their own Zadran tribe as noted above, the HN has extensive contacts with foreign fighters and can replenish their ranks with them. During the anti-Soviet jihad Jallaldin (the patriarch) attracted and organized Arab volunteers . Fast forward and the Haqqanis are still if not more aligned with foreign fighters and now AQ. Siraq Haqqani, Jallaladin’s son has extended is families involvement not only with the Taliban but also international terrorists. Major Chris Belcher “Siraj Haqqani’s extended reach brings foreign fighters from places like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Chchnya, Turkey and Middle Eastern Countries into Afghanistan” Lt Col. Anders adds “Sirajuudin’s allegiance is not with the Zadran tribe, or Afghans, but with Arabs and AQ .” The foreign angle as mentioned previously also has to deal with fund raising. Nasiruddin Haqqani was recently arrested in Pakistan he is known to have made fund raising trips to the Gulf States . As Nariuddin has not been publically turned over to the US time will tell if he was taken into protective custody so he would not be killed in a drone attack or actually arrested.
Foreign fighter recruitment has never been an issue for the HN. Within Pakistan and even within N. Waziristan allied Pakistani groups such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi have and continue to work within the HN. This is interesting because all of these groups have in the past or still are receiving protection and support from Pakistan’s security forces. A disturbing development is that European recruits have been killed in drone strikes in N. Waziristan with some traveling from England and Germany.
There is no crystal Ball to see what the HN will do in 2011 but a tactical resurgence will be needed to keep them on the top of the terrorist pecking order. The HN is going to need to make a statement with some type of attack that will increase their prestige. This will help them consolidate their power base and continue their take over and influence of other Taliban and affiliated groups.
As noted above Zadran tribal loyalties are on the edge due to the many casualties that they have taken. Recently in Sangin district of Helmand province the Alikozai tribe agreed to stop fighting the Marines and Afghan forces there and aid them in kicking out foreign fighters. The reason is because of Marine assaults on them had forced them to the negotiating table . Some think that counter-insurgency operations do not involve combat this is a mistake. Kinetic operations are used to kill those who will not lay down their arms against the government. In some cases finding a weakness such as a tribe’s casualties and exploiting it with kinetic operations to push them over the edge. This situation also happened in al-Anbar province in Iraq when the local Sunnis tired of losing their sons and fathers to Marine and Army units and whole villages being killed by AQ the tribes finally stopped shooting. The only way to for sure keep the HN work down is to continue to kill their rank and file in “an industrial way” forcing the Zadran tribe away from HN. As the HN has to rely on more and more foreign fighters they maybe seen as no longer an Afghan group but as just another outside force. Combine this with a continued drone campaign against HN leadership in the FATA that will force them to stay on the move and in hiding therefore unable to lead as well as they once did when they enjoyed absolute freedom in N. Waziristan.

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Today in Pakistan

An estimated 40,000 people demonstrated in favor of keeping Pakistan's strict anti-blasphemy law. An interesting quote from on of the speakers is that the blasphemy law "is a divine law" I have read a good bit of the Koran and do not recall anything in it about a state enacting a law of this sort. From Dawn: "Alas! There is simply is no justification, theological or otherwise. Respected and deeply learned Islamic scholars like Javed Ahmed Ghamidi have repeatedly insisted that there is no historical or theological example or space in the workings of Islam for a law such as the blasphemy law."

What started all of this is that a Christian woman offered some farm hands she worked with some water. The Muslims thinking that since the water was touched by a Christian it was unclean and she was attacking their Muslimness which of course blasphemes against Mohammed. The woman was then gang raped and when the case went before a judge he sentenced her to hang. Now the woman is still in custody and the Pakistanis have increased here security in the hopes that she will not be killed in prison. Meanwhile a reward of $Rs30 has been put on this woman's head by a mullah which the Pakistanis are trying to find.

Keep in mind the number of people at the rally today and then the number of people who commented on a very good article out of Pakistan that I linked to above. There are only 250 some odd comments in support of the article what is 250 v 40,000 that protested today.

Is it really any wonder that the tribal areas have not been dealt with? When the security services are so penetrated by jihadists and those that would use the Taliban and AQ as proxies to fight both India and the U.S.