Tag Archives | Counterterrorism

State-Sponsored Counter-Terror Tactics?

Riverdale Jewish CenterAs we count down to the impending “credible terror threat” it is important to take a real look at the nature of many of the planned terror attacks in the USA. Gordon Corera takes an eye opening look at an interesting source of terror in the homeland for the BBC:

In May 2009 David Williams was keeping watch at the corner of 246th Street and Independence Avenue in the Bronx, New York — the look out for a terror group aiming to blow up a building nearby. The target was the Riverdale Jewish Center where the terror cell’s leader, James Cromitie, was planting what he believed to be two devices containing C-4 plastic explosive.

Having completed their task, the four man team planned to then head back to their hometown of Newburgh, a run-down town 60 miles (97km) north of New York City, where they intended to use a surface-to-air missile to take down a military plane at the Stewart Air National Guard Base.

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Secret CIA Prisons And Counterterrorism Sites In Somalia

CIASomaliaThere has been news recently of CIA operated secret prisons in Somalia, as well as sites with counterterrorism training for Somali intelligence agencies. Have these secret sites been funded by US tax payers? Via AlterNet:

Nestled in a back corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport is a sprawling walled compound run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Set on the coast of the Indian Ocean, the facility looks like a small gated community, with more than a dozen buildings behind large protective walls and secured by guard towers at each of its four corners. Adjacent to the compound are eight large metal hangars, and the CIA has its own aircraft at the airport. The site, which airport officials and Somali intelligence sources say was completed four months ago, is guarded by Somali soldiers, but the Americans control access. At the facility, the CIA runs a counterterrorism training program for Somali intelligence agents and operatives aimed at building an indigenous strike force capable of snatch operations and targeted “combat” operations against members of Al Shabab, an Islamic militant group with close ties to Al Qaeda.

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Was Pakistan Hiding Osama Bin Laden?

Del474753Bin Laden was discovered not in the godforsaken, lawless borderlands but living in a million-dollar mansion in a touristy suburb nearby Pakistan’s top military academy. Steve Coll of the New Yorker writes that the Pakistani military was obviously sheltering bin Laden and that al-Qaeda’s other top leaders are likely being given safe haven as well, but the United States simply cannot press the issue — Pakistan has nuclear weapons and is “too big to fail”:

Abbottabad in the hills to the north of the capital of Islamabad, is in an area where much of the land is controlled or owned by the Pakistan Army and retired army officers. The city is most notable for housing the Pakistan Military Academy, the Pakistan Army’s premier training college, equivalent to West Point.

Looking at maps and satellite photos, I saw the wide expanse of the Academy not far from where the million-dollar, heavily secured mansion where bin Laden lived was constructed in 2005.

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Growing Your Own Security: Professor Breeding Bomb-Detecting Plants (Video)

Bomb Detecting PlantSpencer Ackerman writes on WIRED's Danger Room:
The next hydrangea you grow could literally save your life. With the help of the Department of Defense, a biologist at Colorado State University has taught plant proteins how to detect explosives. Never let it be said that horticulture can’t fight terrorism. Picture this at an airport, perhaps in as soon as four years: A terrorist rolls through the sliding doors of a terminal with a bomb packed into his luggage (or his underwear). All of a sudden, the leafy, verdant gardenscape ringing the gates goes white as a sheet. That’s the proteins inside the plants telling authorities that they’ve picked up the chemical trace of the guy’s arsenal.
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Brad Meltzer, Red Cell Secret Agent

Brad Meltzer. Photo: Jackie Merri Meyer (CC)

Brad Meltzer. Photo: Jackie Merri Meyer (CC)

There must be a new editor at the Daily News these days as the crazy stories keep flowing. This one’s authored by novelist and putative History Channel TV star Brad Meltzer, with a healthy dose of sensationalism no doubt timed to promote his new novel, The Inner Circle:

I was a real-life secret agent. I didn’t have the hand-grenade cuff links or the poison-dart pen, but in 2004 I was recruited by the Department of Homeland Security for its Red Cell program.

As they described it – and as The Washington Post later reported – Red Cell was the government’s way of trying to anticipate how terrorists would next attack the United States. To do that, the government brought together what they called “out-of-the-box thinkers.”

As a novelist who writes thrillers with scenes that take place in the underground tunnel below the White House, I was somehow identified as one of those thinkers.

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Pentagon Spends $19 Billion To Discover That The Best Bomb-Detector Is A Dog

Photo: Piotr Grzywocz (CC)

Photo: Piotr Grzywocz (CC)

Having been unable to eat in the presence of some canines throughout my life (folks, you really should have trained your dogs, you know who you are…) this one comes as no surprise. Spencer Ackerman writes on the always interesting WIRED’s Danger Room:

Drones, metal detectors, chemical sniffers, and super spycams — forget ‘em. The leader of the Pentagon’s multibillion military task force to stop improvised bombs says there’s nothing in the U.S. arsenal for bomb detection more powerful than a dog’s nose.

Despite a slew of bomb-finding gagdets, the American military only locates about 50 percent of the improvised explosives planted in Afghanistan and Iraq. But that number jumps to 80 percent when U.S. and Afghan patrols take dogs along for a sniff-heavy walk. “Dogs are the best detectors,” Lieutenant General Michael Oates, the commander of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, told a conference yesterday, National Defense reports.

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The Single Biggest Threat to U.S. National Security … Is Its Debt

DebtVia Washington’s Blog:

In February 2009, the head of U.S. intelligence — Dennis Blair — said that the global financial crisis was the largest threat to America’s national security. All of America’s intelligence agencies apparently agreed.

The same month, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — Admiral Mullen — also agreed.

Now, Mullen is focusing on a specific economic threat. Specifically, Mullen is focusing on the debt:

The national debt is the single biggest threat to national security, according to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Tax payers will be paying around $600 billion in interest on the national debt by 2012, the chairman told students and local leaders in Detroit.

“That’s one year’s worth of defense budget,” he said, adding that the Pentagon needs to cut back on spending.

But at least war is good for the economy, right? At least spending on defense will help the economy recover and climb out of this pit of debt, no?

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U.S. Military Prepares for Cyber War

Surfdaddy Orca writes in h+ magazine:
Ever wonder how exactly the U.S. military would fight a cyber war? In August 2009, the U.S. Air Force activated its new cyberspace combat unit, the 24th Air Force, to "provide combat-ready forces trained and equipped to conduct sustained cyber operations." It's commanded by former Minuteman missile and satellite-jamming specialist Major General Richard Webber. (And under his command are two wings, the 688th Information Operations Wing and the 67th Network Warfare Wing, plus a combat communications units.) Meanwhile, to counter the threat of cyber warfare, DARPA is still deploying the National Cyber Range, a test bed of networked computers to test countermeasures against "cyberwar". (According to one report, it provides "a virtual network world . to be populated by mirror computers and inhabited by myriad software sim-people 'replicants,' and used as a firing range in which to develop the art of cyber warfare.") And the Obama administration has even added a military cybersecurity coordinator to the National Security team.
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Mikey Hicks, 8 Years Old, Permanent Fixture On U.S. “Selectee” Terrorist Watch List

Every now and then the Gray Lady actually comes up with a story that makes it worth reading, such as this one detailing the Orwellian comedy surrounding poor little Mikey Hicks and his long-suffering family:

The Transportation Security Administration, under scrutiny after last month’s bombing attempt, has on its Web site a “mythbuster” that tries to reassure the public.

Myth: The No-Fly list includes an 8-year-old boy.

Buster: No 8-year-old is on a T.S.A. watch list.

“Meet Mikey Hicks,” said Najlah Feanny Hicks, introducing her 8-year-old son, a New Jersey Cub Scout and frequent traveler who has seldom boarded a plane without a hassle because he shares the name of a suspicious person. “It’s not a myth.”

Michael Winston Hicks’s mother initially sensed trouble when he was a baby and she could not get a seat for him on their flight to Florida at an airport kiosk; airline officials explained that his name “was on the list,” she recalled.

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