I forgot to link to my latest submission to Huffington Post the other day… Here it is.
Posts Tagged ‘National Security’
Tags: 2012 Elections, Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, International, Libya, Mitt Romney, National Security, Politics
Tags: Arab Spring, Egypt, Foreign Policy, International, Muslim Brotherhood, National Security, Obama Administration
If you only read one article on U.S. foreign policy today, it should be this piece from the New York Times:
CAIRO — With the Muslim Brotherhood pulling within reach of an outright majority in Egypt’s new Parliament, the Obama administration has begun to reverse decades of mistrust and hostility as it seeks to forge closer ties with an organization once viewed as irreconcilably opposed to United States interests.
The administration’s overtures — including high-level meetings in recent weeks — constitute a historic shift in a foreign policy held by successive American administrations that steadfastly supported the autocratic government of President Hosni Mubarak in part out of concern for the Brotherhood’s Islamist ideology and historic ties to militants.
The shift is, on one level, an acknowledgment of the new political reality here, and indeed around the region, as Islamist groups come to power. Having won nearly half the seats contested in the first two rounds of the country’s legislative elections, the Brotherhood on Tuesday entered the third and final round with a chance to extend its lead to a clear majority as the vote moved into districts long considered strongholds.
The reversal also reflects the administration’s growing acceptance of the Brotherhood’s repeated assurances that its lawmakers want to build a modern democracy that will respect individual freedoms, free markets and international commitments, including Egypt’s treaty with Israel.
Don’t be surprised if this becomes a GOP talking point to bash Obama – particularly from Romney or Santorum.
Tags: Central Intelligence Agency, Foreign Policy, International, Iran, National Security, Predator Drones
The National Journal’s Marc Ambinder has uncovered some more details about that ill-fated drone mission the Iranians have been claiming they shot down.
The super-secret drone that Iran claims to have recovered was on a CIA “Focal Point” mission, gathering intelligence and likely crashed though it remains uncertain whether it was able to self-destruct, U.S. officials told National Journal on Tuesday.
Controllers lost contact with the prized stealth unmanned aerial drone, the RQ-170 “Sentinel”, last week over western Afghanistan, said one government official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Based on its projected glide path, officials assume it fell just inside the Iranian border.
Though the CIA has used the Sentinel to monitor Iranian nuclear convoys before, the precise nature of the mission this time is not known.
The Sentinel is the top-of-the-line UAV, with highly sensitive cryptographic and stealth technology. If it indeed reaches Iranian hands undamaged it will represent a compromise in the latest of U.S. stealth technology, said officials with knowledge of the program.
The key question here is whether or not the drone’s self-destruct mechanism was activated before it went down. If it worked and some of the equipment and technology onboard was destroyed, that would at least mitigate some of the damage to U.S. national security. Regardless, as was the case with the stealth helicopter that went down during the Osama bin Laden raid in May, the Pentagon should assume that if the Iranians do indeed have custody of the downed drone, they will be studying its capabilities and will at a minimum attempt to reverse engineer it themselves, or bring in outside help from China or Russia.
Tags: Covert Actions, Foreign Policy, International, Iran, Missile Programs, National Security, Nuclear Programs, Nukes, Predator Drones
Two must-reads about recent developments in Iran… Both articles are analytical/speculative, but still worth reading and considering.
First, Danger Room’s skeptical take on Iran’s claim at having forced down an RQ-170 drone flying over western Afghanistan.
Second is this report in the L.A. Times connecting several events on the ground in Iran as evidence of possible covert actions against the regime to sabotage its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
Although both articles are largely based on analysis and interpretation of events, they are well worth reading.
Tags: Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Anwar al-Awlaki, Foreign Policy, National Security, Predator Drones, Terrorism, War on Terror, Yemen
Intelwire’s J.M. Berger makes the following observation on Twitter: “The fact Awlaki’s death was announced in Arabic but not English may tell us something about the prospects for Inspire going forward.”
Tags: Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Anwar al-Awlaki, AQAP, Barack Obama, International, National Security, Obama Administration, Predator Drones, Samir Khan, Terrorism, War on Terror, Yemen
Two key al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen bit the dust today…
U.S.-Born Qaeda Leader Killed in Yemen
SANA, Yemen — Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who was a leading figure in Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate and was considered its most dangerous English-speaking propagandist and plotter, was killed in an American drone strike on his vehicle on Friday, officials in Washington and Yemen said. They said the strike also killed a radical American colleague who was an editor of Al Qaeda’s online jihadist magazine.
Many details of the strike were unclear, but one American official said that Mr. Awlaki, whom the United States had been hunting in Yemen for more than two years, had been identified as the target in advance and was killed with a Hellfire missile fired from a drone operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. The official said it was the first C.I.A. strike in Yemen since 2002. Yemen’s Defense Ministry confirmed Mr. Awlaki’s death.
The strike appeared to be the first time in the American-led war on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that an American citizen had been deliberately killed by American forces, a step that has raised contentious constitutional issues in the United States. It was also the second high-profile killing of an Al Qaeda leader in the past five months under the Obama administration, which ordered the American commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May.
Mr. Awlaki was an important member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, regarded by some antiterrorism experts as the most dangerous branch of the Al Qaeda network. He was considered the inspirational or operational force behind a number of major plots aimed at killing Americans in the United States in recent years, most notably the deadly assault at an American army base in Fort Hood, Tex., and attempts to bomb Times Square and a Detroit-bound jetliner.
Yemen’s official news agency, Saba, reported that the attack also killed Samir Khan, an American citizen of Pakistani origin who was an editor of Inspire, Al Qaeda’s English-language Internet magazine. An American official said the United States government believed Mr. Khan had been killed as well. It was not clear whether Mr. Khan, who proclaimed in the magazine last year that he was “proud to be a traitor to America,” was also a deliberate target of the strike.
A Yemeni Defense Ministry statement said that a number of Mr. Awlaki’s bodyguards were also killed.
Neither the Americans nor the Yemenis explained precisely how they knew that Mr. Awlaki had been confirmed dead.
This operation raises interesting constitutional questions about whether or not the federal government has the right to order the assassination of American citizens. Given Yemen’s teetering status as a quasi-failed state and the lack of effective government institutions in the country, expecting local authorities to arrest Awlaki or Khan or extradite them to the United States for trial was simply not a viable option.
ABC’s Jake Tapper recaps the high-level terrorist leaders who have been captured or killed during Obama’s presidency… He’s racked up quite the body count.
For laughs, the Drunk Predator Drone has weighed in on the assassination via Twitter.
Full disclosure: I once e-mailed Anwar al-Awlaki through his now-defunct website/blog for comment on a story about Fort Hood shooting suspect Nidal al Hassan I was working on for CNN back in 2009. I never got a response.
Tags: Al Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlaki, British Intelligence, Cyberwar, GCHQ, Hacking, Internet, MI6, National Security, Terrorism
Cyberwar people are gonna love this…
MI6 attacks al-Qaeda in ‘Operation Cupcake’
British intelligence has hacked into an al-Qaeda online magazine and replaced bomb-making instructions with a recipe for cupcakes.
The cyber-warfare operation was launched by MI6 and GCHQ in an attempt to disrupt efforts by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular to recruit “lone-wolf” terrorists with a new English-language magazine, the Daily Telegraph understands.
When followers tried to download the 67-page colour magazine, instead of instructions about how to “Make a bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom” by “The AQ Chef” they were greeted with garbled computer code.
The code, which had been inserted into the original magazine by the British intelligence hackers, was actually a web page of recipes for “The Best Cupcakes in America” published by the Ellen DeGeneres chat show.
Tags: Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Benjamin Netanyahu, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Justice, Hamas, Iran, Israel, James Risen, John Edwards, John Ensign, Middle East, National Security, New York Times, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan, Palestine, Saif al-Adel, Terrorism, War on Terror
I’ve been busy working on a story the past few days, hence my lack of blogging. This story will see the light of day soon. I will post it here when it’s ready.
In the meantime, I’ll point out a few recent articles – most of them from Foreign Policy – which I highly recommend reading.
The Cost of Pakistan’s Double Game: RFE/RL journalist Daud Khattak assesses Pakistan’s complicated and contradictory tolerance and ties to jihadist groups and figures living in the country.
Replacing Bin Laden: Al-Hayat journalist Camille Tawil provides more biographical information and analysis about interim al Qaeda leader Saif al-Adel.
Misnomers and Misdirection: In light of Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress earlier this week in which he said “Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al Qaeda,” my former professor Daniel Byman looks at the differences between Hamas and al Qaeda.
Disgraced John Ensign Back In Legal Jeopardy: Murray Waas reports that Senator John Ensign’s last-minute decision to release more than 1,000 sensitive emails between himself, his lawyers, and his advisers to Senate Ethics Committee investigators could put him in legal jeopardy with the Department of Justice.
John Edwards Could Be Indicted Within Days: The Department of Justice plans to file criminal charges against former presidential candidate John Edwards, according to the Associated Press. The source says an indictment could come within days unless Edwards cuts a deal with prosecutors and pleads guilty to a negotiated charge.
Federal Prosecutors Try To Force New York Times Reporter To Reveal Sources: ABC News reports prosecutors have subpoenaed Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Risen to testify at the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Stirling, who is accused of leaking classified information about Iran’s nuclear program to Risen, among other things. Risen plans to ask the court to quash the subpoena, but “sources close to Risen” cited in the article say he is willing to go to jail to protect his sources.
Happy Memorial Day weekend to all!
Tags: David Headley, Foreign Policy, ISI, Lashkar-i-Taiba, Mumbai Terror Attacks, National Security, Pakistan, Terrorism, War on Terror
If you only read one story today, read the Washington Post’s account of David Headley’s testimony during the trial for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks:
CHICAGO — A confessed Pakistani American terrorist took the stand in a Chicago courtroom Monday and described a close alliance between Pakistan’s intelligence service and the Lashkar-i-Taiba terrorist group, alleging that Pakistani officers recruited him and played a central role in planning the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
David Coleman Headley’s long-awaited testimony at the start of a trial with international repercussions resolved one question at the outset: Federal prosecutors did not hesitate to connect Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) to the attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.
Headley has pleaded guilty to doing reconnaissance in Mumbai and is the star government witness against his alleged accomplice, Tahawwur Rana. Headley testified that Lashkar “operated under the umbrella of the ISI” even after the group was banned in Pakistan in 2001.
The ISI and Lashkar “coordinated with each other,” Headley testified. “And ISI provided assistance to Lashkar: financial, military and moral support.”
After he trained three years with Lashkar, Headley said, a “Major Ali” of the ISI recruited him when he was briefly detained near the Afghanistan border in 2006. Ali referred him to an officer known as Major Iqbal, who became Headley’s handler and worked separately but in coordination with Lashkar chiefs, directing Headley’s reconnaissance in India and providing $25,000 to fund his mission.
Correction: Give credit where it’s due… The account cited is by ProPublica, but was republished by the Washington Post.
Tags: Al Qaeda, Business, Coca-Cola, Coke, Cola Wars, Economy, Hell Freezes Over, National Security, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan, Pepsi, Terrorism, War on Terror
One of the traits which made Osama bin Laden such an effective leader of the organization he founded was his ability to get individual terrorists and terror groups to look past their political, sectarian, and national differences and focus on a common goal. This ability to overlook contradictions apparently extended into his personal life.
I knew from the beginning that [bin Laden] was not willing to drink any soft drinks from American companies, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Sprite, 7-Up. He was trying to boycott all American products because he believed that without Americans, Israel cannot exist.
- Palestinian journalist Jamal Ismail, who met bin Laden in 1984
Source: Peter Bergen, “The Osama bin Laden I Know,” p. 39
“My Muslim Brothers: The money you pay to buy American goods will be transformed into bullets and used against our brothers in Palestine. By buying these goods we are strengthening their economy while our poverty increases. We expect the women of the land of the two Holy Places and other countries to carry out their role in boycotting American goods. The security and intelligence services of the entire world cannot force a single citizen to buy the goods of his/her enemy. The boycotting of American goods is a very effective weapon for weakening the enemy.”
- Osama bin Laden
“The Declaration of Jihad on the Americans Occupying the Country of the Two Sacred Places”
August 23, 1996
Source: Peter Bergen, “The Osama bin Laden I Know,” p. 165
May 4 (Bloomberg) — The two polite Pakistanis who helped Osama bin Laden hide in the shadow of their country’s army bought bulk food orders, chose major brands and equally favored Pepsi and Coke, neighbors and a local shopkeeper said.