An elective course called “Perspectives on Islam and Islamic Radicalism” was summarily cancelled at the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, VA by General Marty Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The course apparently had asserted, “Islam is at war with the West.” OK, the Chairman gets high marks for ensuring we don’t offend anyone, but Al Qaeda, its affiliates and ideological progeny have declared war on the West. They did it well before 9/11, and they have never declared even a ceasefire.
April 13th, 2012 - by Janice Kephart
For the past month, the Homeland Security Show I host is spotlighting issues in homeland security without the interlude of media packaging stories into three minute segments or subjected to political hyperbole from Capitol Hill. This is not a show about thrillers, even if some of the content is more twisted and strange than most science fiction. Here is a rundown of my guests and show topics and some of our upcoming broadcasts.
We need to pay more attention to small but growing Islamist terrorist groups, such as the Caucasus Emirate and Boko Haram. Both organizations are threats to the United States, even if only indirectly at the moment. They seek to attack and weaken our allies, enlist many for their cause, and create fertile breeding grounds for the training of terrorists.
Last week, I testified before the House Homeland Security Committee about Hezbollah capability to attack within the United States, should the group decide to do so. I explained that it is by no means a foregone conclusion that Hezbollah would attack America in the event of an attack on Iran, but also laid out four different scenarios of how they could carry out such an operation.
On January 31, 2012, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper expressed the intelligence community’s concern about “Iranian plotting against U.S. or allied interests overseas.” Since then, Iran and its primary proxy, Lebanese Hizballah, have carried out a string of terrorist plots abroad. I recently testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security on the significance of these events; it is no longer clear that Iran sees carrying out an attack in the United States as crossing a red line.
March 19th, 2012 - by Robert Blitzer
When something like the attacks in France happen, clearly enhanced measures above and beyond normal day to day security operations must be taken by both the Jewish community and our military until the scope of threat posed by these attacks is fully identified, the perpetrators identified and brought to justice. There is just no choice. We can’t think for a minute that other plots are not out there or that some individual will act out unilaterally.
March 12th, 2012 - by Nadav Morag
The Mineta Transportation Institute just released a study on a number of bus bombing attacks on the Israeli transportation system during the Second Intifadah (roughly 2001-2005). The study provides some useful data on the modus operandi of suicide bombers. As in any sort of industrial production, the end product is only a small part of the overall effort. These terrorist organizations included highly-skilled and specialized personnel that carried out recruitment, intelligence, IED manufacture, logistics, public relations, funding.
Throughout history, wars have often turned on the success or failure of seizing the high ground. Waterloo, Gettysburg, the Battle of Hastings, D-Day all depended on taking the heights, and the results of these battles changed the tides of wars and history. Today is no different, but the high ground looks much different on the Internet.
February 29th, 2012 - by Matthew Levitt
Al-Qaeda’s finances are at their weakest point in years due to a successful campaign to close off major sources of funding. In an article for the IHS Defense, Security, and Risk Consulting publication, I examine the options left to the group, which is increasingly turning to a model of low-level threats from individuals, rather than spectacular orchestrated attacks.
February 24th, 2012 - by Robert Blitzer
Recent articles have reported on New York Police intelligence operations in the post 9-11 era. It appears Muslim communities in the greater New York and New Jersey area as well as several educational institutions with Muslim students have been targeted by the police. I have mixed emotions about this. New York is “target central” for certain terrorist organizations, but who has legal oversight for the NYPD?
The past couple of days have been bloody as Iran and its surrogates and Israel fight a dirty war of retribution using the streets of innocent countries as fields of battle. Additionally, the Iranian Navy continues to threaten the world’s oil shipping lanes with rhetoric and by making furtive moves against the U.S. Navy. I think we are very close to the tipping point of war with Iran, and in my opinion, the more time we wait, the more dangerous they become.
Let’s start with a quiz. Who is the biggest spy in modern US history? If you said Aldridge Ames, or Robert Hanson, you’d be wrong. It was PFC Bradley Manning, of WikiLeaks fame, who despite being a very junior analyst in a tactical military HQ, gave away to his accomplice/handler Julian Asange more volume of stolen intel than anyone ever. Bottom line, cyber has changed the world of intel, and this is just one example.
I had the privilege of recently attending a two-day seminar on Intelligence Led Policing (ILP). Law enforcement officials and academics educated participants on the tenets of ILP and how to better equip officers to begin to use ILP in their police departments. Regardless of what it’s called – be it ILP, smart policing or predictive analytics – the best practice comes down to this: Police gather information, they evaluate and analyze that information, and they create a threat assessment. That information and resulting analysis drive the agency’s strategy and its actions.
Last week, Thai police arrested Atris Hussein, a suspected Hizballah operative, at the Bangkok airport, while another suspect escaped. Elsewhere in the capital, authorities seized a large cache of chemical explosives composed of ammonium nitrate and urea fertilizer. These discoveries of Hizballah bombmaking in Thailand are no surprise given the group’s long history of terrorist operations in Southeast Asia.
In the Second World War, the iconic phrase “loose lips sink ships” summed up the need for keeping information that could be useful to the enemy to only those who need it. It’s 70 years later and the social imperative for who needs information has diametrically changed. On any social networking site, there are opportunities for our enemies to identify us and use that information to plan attacks, both physical and cyber.
America’s intelligence community finds itself pressed to deal with the “Wild West” frontier of an ever-expanding cyber space. From Twitter to blogs to e-mail, the changes are coming hard and fast for governments, businesses and individuals worldwide. The challenges for the American policy maker and the intelligence community are simple and yet hugely complex. So far, by our own admission, we appear not to be passing the grade.
The recently identified “Duqu” worm has raised a whole new set of issues. Seemingly a variant of the Stuxnet malware that got so much of the world’s attention, everyone is trying to figure out what it “means.” Stuxnet opened a new window, and Duqu is only the first of many. The rub is, unlike Stuxnet, which targeted Iranian centrifuges, Duqu may be coming directly at you and your systems.
October 18th, 2011 - by Matthew Levitt
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement that a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen and a commander in Iran’s Quds Force had been charged in New York for their alleged roles in a plot to murder the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Adel al-Jubeir, represents a brazen escalation in Iran’s struggle for regional dominance. But Iran’s willingness to use brutal means to achieve its foreign-policy goals is nothing new: Since the creation of the Islamic Republic, U.S. intelligence agencies have repeatedly identified terrorism as one of the regime’s signature calling cards.
There has been a great deal of intellectual froth over the subject of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Numerous editorials cover the entire intellectual waterfront. Most focus on the continuing sense of loss and grief we feel and ask us to never forget. There is a different group I have a problem with, those who say America “overreacted” to 9/11. I was in the Pentagon on 9/11, and so was my wife. I know in my heart as well as my head. Our leaders didn’t overreact; they did exactly what was needed.
September 7th, 2011 - by Akram Elias
What has been termed the “Arab Spring” could potentially pose the gravest challenge the United States has ever faced in the Middle East. Yet, when one tracks the reactions and positions of the US foreign policy establishment, one is left with a state of confusion and bewilderment. In this fourth part of The Real New Middle East Order series, we will resume the process of explaining the Real New Middle East Order focusing on the post-9/11 period.