Posts filed under ‘Counter Terrorism’

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Veteran Reporter’s Thoughts on Media and National Security

Food for Thought: Walter Pincus.

Food for ThoughtIn his latest — and perhaps last — column in newsprint, veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus offers some opinions and concerns about the state of journalism and how the media covers national security, a beat Pincus has covered for decades.

Like a lot of journalists who started out in the business using typewriters and carbon paper instead of computers and mobile devices, Pincus is concerned that in the era of 24-hour cable news, the Internet and Twitter “we have been moved further into a PR society and, sadly public relations has become a key part of government in our politics.”

On national security, Pincus says “the reality of the threat from terrorism” and terror groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda “needs to be put in some perspective.” He believes that even at the height of the Cold War, the United States did not “institute the security actions at home that have been taken and are being contemplated to meet what’s been described as a terrorist threat.”

He also believes, as many do, that when contemplating military involvement in the Middle East and Central Asia, one should remember the experience in Vietnam showed “that the American form of government is not easily transferred to other countries.”

It should be noted that Pincus spent a large part of his journalistic career writing about nuclear weapons, politics and arms control and is finishing a book about the U.S. nuclear weapons program. He’s won several awards but has also been controversial. In February, he says, he will be writing his column for the website, the Cipher Brief.

December 31, 2015 at 12:17 am Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 25, 2015)

The Force Is Still Strong.

U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergean. Robert Cloys

U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergean. Robert Cloys

In a war zone far, far away, U.S. service members cheer and clap before they get to see the first showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on December 22.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service partnered with Walt Disney Studios to give troops a chance to see the movie at a deployed location.

Lately, the news from Afghanistan, the Middle East, Africa, Paris, San Bernardino and elsewhere around the world has been just awful during what is supposed to be a season of joy and peace. We thought this light moment in a dangerous place –notice the M-16s– might bring you some Christmas cheer.

Here at 4GWAR, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season … and may the force be with you.

December 25, 2015 at 12:25 am Leave a comment

AFRICA/COUNTER TERRORISM: U.S. Troops Helping African Forces in Fight with Boko Haram

New Drone base.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Headline rewritten to clarify U.S. forces not engaged in combat, just aiding ISR effort.

Cameroon (CIA World Factbook)

(CIA World Factbook)

The United States has quietly sent hundreds of troops to West Africa, to help Cameroon’s army hunt the terrorists along the Nigerian border, according to a CBS News report Wednesday (December 16).

They’re searching for Boko Haram, the extremist group that has aligned itself with the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIl and Daesh). Boko Harma has killed more than 20,000 people in the region, mostly in Nigeria, over the past six years.

Cameroon is getting help from the U.S. military, which is setting up another drone base in Africa. Cameroon soldiers are learning how to use their own unarmed drones for surveillance. The U.S. base won’t be fully operational until next month, CBS says.

“The U.S. is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to the Cameroonian forces,” Army Captain Victor Guzman told CBS News. He said the plan is for the Cameroonian troops to take the lead and fight the local threat.

The United States started unarmed drone surveillance flights out of Niger, to the north of Cameroon, in early 2013 to support French forces fighting Islamist militants in northern Mali.

December 17, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

HOMELAND SECURITY: DHS Comes Up With New Warning System

Six Month Warning.

Department of Homeland Security seal

Department of Homeland Security seal

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unveiled a new terrorism alert system Wednesday (December 16) while advising concerns about “self-radicalized” actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice.

According to the Associated Press, DHS is adding a new “Bulletin” category to two existing alert categories: elevated and imminent. An elevated warns of a “credible terrorism threat” while imminent alerts advise the public of a “credible specific and impending terrorism threat.”

This is the first change to the National Terrorism Advisory System since it replaced the color-coded system in 2011.

The first bulletin informed Americans that while there is no new intelligence of a specific, credible threat, the public should remain vigilant, according to NBC News. The bulletin will remain in effect until June 16, 2016. That’s right, until the middle of next year.

“We are in a new phase in the global threat environment, which has implications on the homeland. Particularly with the rise in use by terrorist groups of  the Internet to inspire and recruit, we are concerned about the “self-radicalized” actor(s) who could strike with little or no notice,” the bulletin stated, adding that recent attacks in Paris as well as San Bernardino, California “warrant increased security, as well as increased public vigilance and awareness.”

December 17, 2015 at 11:27 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 11, 2015

Crossed Lasers.

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class J.R. Pacheco

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class J.R. Pacheco

U.S. sailors train with the LA9/P laser hail and warning system on the fantail (rear deck) of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Atlantic Ocean. The LA 9/P is a non-lethal, non-blinding way to get the attention of  intruders, warn them off and confuse them optically if they persist.

They have been used to hail, warn and deter people until their intent is determined at vehicle checkpoints.

December 11, 2015 at 12:03 am Leave a comment

AFRICA: U.N. Seeks $2 Billion to Head Off Desert Migration Crisis

Sahel Imperiled.

The Sahel Region. (Wikipedia)

The Sahel Region. (Wikipedia)

The United Nations is seeking a record $2 billion in aid for North Africa’s Sahel region to counter poverty, insecurity and climate change that could tip the area over, generating a new wave of mass migration, Reuters reported Wednesday (December 9).

The U.N. has increased its appeal for the nine countries of the semiarid band stretching from Senegal on the Atlantic to Eritrea on the Red Sea more than tenfold over the last 10 years, but funding has fallen short each year.

Attacks by militants from the radical Islamist group Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin, as well as efforts by regional armies to counter them, have already forced 2.5 million people to flee their homes — a figure that has tripled in 12 months, according to Reuters.

Toby Lanzer, a U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator, noted the thousands of refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East flooding into Europe. “Eventually, you are going to have thousands or tens of thousands of people [from the Sahel] who will seek opportunities elsewhere or, if worse comes to the worst, be forced to flee,” he told Reuters.

A portion of the 2016 funding, part of a $20.1 billion record U.N. humanitarian appeal, will also go toward education, which Lanzer hopes will encourage young girls to finish schooling and cap population growth in a region ill-equipped to cope with a forecast sixfold increase in population by 2100.

The biggest recipient in 2016 will be Chad with $567 million, which has suffered a series of Boko Haram suicide bombings in recent months, followed by Mali with $354 million and Niger with $316 million. Other countries in the Sahel include Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Sudan

The refugee appeal comes just a day after U.N. Security Council appealed for greater international security cooperation and more humanitarian aid to bring stability to sub-Saharan Africa.

Concern about terrorist safe havens in Libya and the humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria, are at the heart of the Security Council’s warning.

In a presidential statement issued two weeks after the top U.N. regional official warned that the sub-Saharan Sahel region will become fertile ground for recruiting terrorists among its tens of millions of disadvantaged people, the 15-member Council called for a dual policy of combatting terrorism and its havens while eliminating its root causes through aid and development.

December 9, 2015 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

HOMELAND SECURITY: [UPDATE] Two Mass Shooting Suspects Slain in Gun Battle with Police

San Bernardino Bloodbath.

Authorities in San Bernardino, California say two suspects in a mass shooting that left 14 people dead and 17 wounded, Wednesday (December 2) were themselves killed in a running gun battle with police later in the day.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said the suspects, a male and a female, were killed in an exchange of gunfire with pursuing police that left their dark-colored SUV riddled with bullets on a city street.

Fourteen people were killed and 17 were wounded in the late morning shooting at a holiday party at a rented meeting space that sparked the police chase and gun battle. The FBI said “it is a possibility ” that terrorism is a motive. But David Bowdich, assistant special agent in charge of the Los Angeles field office said the bureau is “still not wiling to say that it is” yet. He added: “We will go where the evidence takes us.”

In an outdoor televised news conference, Burguan said police received a tip after the shooting that led them to a residence in nearby Redlands, California. While the building was under police surveillance the two suspects fled in the SUV, the chief said, and police pursued them. An officer who intercepted the vehicle was wounded and later hospitalized. A third person seen leaving the scene was apprehended and is being held for questioning. “We do not know the extent of his involvement — if any,” Burguan said.

The fleeing pair exchanged shots with police who fired numerous times at the vehicle. Both occupants were killed and police took their time cautiously approaching and searching the getaway vehicle, which authorities said contained suspicious materials that could be explosives. The police chief said the suspects were dressed in “assault style clothing” and were armed with assault rifles and handguns. It is not clear if there was a third shooter as some witnesses told police after the incident.

Around 11 a.m. Pacific Time Wednesday, gunmen burst in on a gathering at a local office building owned by a private sector social services company. Fourteen people were killed and 17 were wounded. Some other people in the building were injured fleeing the facility.

Location of San Bernardino city and county in California (via wikipedia)

Location of San Bernardino city and county in California
(via wikipedia)

After the shooting, authorities said witnesses told them at least three gunmen armed with long guns opened fire and fled the Inland Regional Center after just a few minutes.

Descriptions of the three suspects and their vehicle were very sketchy. A motive for the shootings has not yet been determined and while it appeared to bear the hallmarks of a terrorist attack, officials are not calling it that at this time.

In addition to local police and county  sheriff’s deputies, the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and California Highway Patrol were reported on the scene, according to the Los Angeles Times.

December 2, 2015 at 5:52 pm Leave a comment

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