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Systematic 'terrorism tax' to be levied against Indian BPO and data outsourcing assets

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[India has] become a magnet for terrorists both within its borders and all across Asia, and these terrorists have easy access to state money and resources (unlike, say, "entrepreneur" terrorists in Iraq)... [Pakistani] state (ISI) and non-state interests within Pakistan are interested in destabilizing India in any way possible. Meanwhile, in India's Kashmir province, local militants have been waging a war against the state for decades. India's population of 200 million Muslims and many millions of Sikhs provides a large, ineradicable, and discontent population base for terrorists… India is [a] target for pro-Chinese interests in the region [now that New Delhi has formed an informal defense alliance with the US]…

In Indian Pipedreams, January 2006, we said, Political attacks have turned economic in India. The Mumbai bombing will be the first of many more. After the initial obligatory apologist comments in the wake of the 2006 Mumbai attack that nothing was amiss (which mirrored those after the 2005 Bangalore attack), offshore outsourcers wanted to know about their Indian vendors' disaster recovery and business continuity planning, their state of operational readiness and just possibly how those plans meshed with those of the clients. Many such questions will be raised with increasing frequency in India.

John Robb has rightfully made a cottage industry out of the heretofore too often overlooked concept of systems disruption in which "a nation-state's economic and societal infrastructure" becomes a far more attractive and achievable target that its "conventional armies":

[Our] large urbanized population centers are reliant on a complex set of relatively automated infrastructures. The operational objective of the global guerrilla warfare will be to separate a large urban population from its infrastructure and take advantage of the collapse and chaos that results.

It is essential to understand that outsourcing infrastructures mirror the advantages and risks of virtually all commercial systems and their supporting IT systems:

Vulnerability of commercial supply chains:

  • Designed for economic & production efficiency
  • Not designed for security
  • Backward re-integration of security can be disruptive and costly, invariably leaves exploitable holes

Commercial versus terrorist supply chains:

  • Commercial: Economic efficiency & Production efficiency
  • Terrorist: Attack success at acceptable risk - where "acceptable" risk can be the attackers' death
  • Different goals, different way of thinking - defenders have no asymmetrical mindset, guard the wrong things, lull themselves into a false sense of security

Substitute IT streams to/from Indian BPO services and data facilities serving finance, banking and operations for the gas flowing through Gazprom pipelines in Georgia and outsourcing will soon experience the same kind of outages which Robb described as:

  • Even entire nations are vulnerable to systems disruption.
  • Systems attacks can provide amazing leverage. An afternoon's work knocked out a country for more than five days.
  • It can be repeated again and again. The attack was simple, the vulnerability is vast, and the attackers weren't caught (nor are they likely to be).

I might add that multiple attacks can be stacked in a manner that attacks different parts of, and locations within, the system. Net net, the system could be substantially or frequently down without executing the same attack twice.

Speaking like true defenders, an otherwise very thoughtful finance colleague's comment that "The Arabs can't drink the oil" matches Putin's comment that "Killing the [fuel and energy sector golden] goose would be insane, stupid and unacceptable." Some Arabs would be happy to keep the oil in the ground or interdict its transfer and there doesn't have to be many of them to interrupt supply. The same applies to Indian outsourcing; sad to say that acknowledged outsourcing advisors like Forrester and Gartner appear immune to terrorist and Intellectual Property (IP) threats. See:

Both Robb and ourselves were impressed by Demir Barlas' The Indian Supply Chain that applied Harrigan and Martin's terrorism tax to the Indian condition. Add our "twofer" concept (direct damage to the Indian state and its ability for economic gain, and indirect damage to US and European firms, succeeding in India where an attack on US/EU soil would be prohibitive in terms of placing surveillance and strike teams on the ground) to Barlas' analysis and the conditions are ripe for US/EU outsourcers to revalidate their risk appetite, reconsider their outsourcing strategy, and institute realistic and appropriate protection measures.

In assessing the viability of cities "in the face of catastrophes such as terrorist attacks," Harrigan and Martin analyzed why cities form and prosper, concluding that "the same forces thought to lead to the formation of cities - namely, the economic gains derived from the proximity of firms to markets, suppliers, and a large labor pool - help to preserve cities at risk of terrorism and other catastrophic events." Whereas a "onetime terrorist attack on a major city [that] does not increase the ongoing costs of doing business in the city [will have] no long-run economic effect," a terror tax rises from a continuing threat that "imposes ongoing costs" [that] exceeds a critical level [so as to] disrupt a city’s agglomeration forces."

The terror tax "reflects the costs associated with such hardships as fear, higher insurance rates, and security-related delaysdetracts from firm profits or worker income without funding improvements in infrastructure or services, as a typical tax might." Workers are driven away in the absence of a wage premium that the city can no longer pay. Harrigan and Martin state that the "future viability of urban life would be threatened only if all of several conditions existed":

  • firms were unable to obtain any private insurance,
  • the nation offered no financial assistance in the event of an attack,
  • an incident of the destructiveness of September 11 was expected to occur every year, and
  • the balance of forces that sustains agglomeration is even more fragile than the model simulations suggest.
  • India's cities no not need to dissolve but only attrite in the face of rising costs

While these assumptions may be necessary and sufficient to collapse a city, an asymmetrical attacker need only incrementally degrade India's cost, availability and response advantages. Back to Barlas:

India's entire IT/BPO industry, which is worth tens of billions of dollars, is motivated by the relative cheapness of doing business in India. When terrorism disrupts this dynamic and forces India to raise prices, internally and externally, margins will be sacrificed and some business will go elsewhere…

The argument can be made that India's role in the information industries is exempt from disruption. After all, while the delivery of energy is something that can easily be physically sabotaged, disrupting the delivery of services is more complicated (there isn't a single node through which most or even many Indian BPO workers travel, for instance).

However, this disruption can be achieved indirectly through the levying of a terrorism tax that will raise the cost of doing business in India to an unacceptable level for Western companies. With margins shrinking all over the globe, a terrorism tax of 10 percent may be sufficient to drive a large amount of business elsewhere. Terrorists don't have to topple the Indian economy; they only have to shrink it.

To some extent, we have already seen how the Indian IT/BPO machine is vulnerable to system disruption. The HSBC fraud case, for example, impacted only a handful of customers directly, but has reached millions of people via the media, and may be responsible for some high-profile pullbacks from India.

Along those lines, terrorist attacks that degrade India's service delivery capacity even marginally will cascade across the entire Indian supply chain. The Mumbai attacks demonstrate that local guerrillas have begun adopting the "best practices" of the global marketplace of terrorism, and there is no reason to think that they will stop.

If Barlas excites you 'as is', your concern will rise when you understand the quantum leap in skills and organization involved in the Mumbai bombing and the pressure on an unprepared, understaffed local Hindu police force attempting to operate against large, poor Muslim neighborhoods:

  • The attack: "[T]error attacks as sophisticated as the train bombings were unprecedented in India… "It was a brilliant piece of precise, military organization, which required the involvement of six or seven different terrorist cells, able to coordinate attacks within minutes of each other. I think this indicates a group connected with Al Qaeda, probably Lashkar-e-Toiba... We have never seen anything like this in India before."... "This was an attack on India’s economy, designed to dissipate foreign investment. It was also an attack on the country’s middle classes.""
    • Combination of RDX, ammonium nitrate, and fuel oil
    • RDX most likely used as a booster charge for blasting agent
    • Devices contained nails and iron filings
    • Explosives placed on elevated mesh luggage racks
    • Detonated as trains were on or at railway stations
    • Small delayed ignition devices found at 3 blast sites
  • Local police response: "The bombers could not have gone after a more unprepared, overcrowded, inept target. The police in India are pathetic. Their resources scarce. Their capability to counter and foil plots like these is almost non-existent… The rate of change from utterly useless to somewhat meaningful presence in the police force in Bombay has been staggering. As if overnight, the police and other domestic security forces in India have started to cooperate, burning the midnight oil, getting things done."
  • Looking forward:
    • Mumbai has Muslim community of 6 million
    • Large portion unemployed males, 18-30 years old
    • Valuable economic center
    • History of attacks
    • Mumbai attractive, symbolic target

Firms outsourcing to India need to rethink supply chains from a terrorist viewpoint:

  • Current systems can be abused without alerting their managers and key upstream and downstream stakeholders
  • Current systems create false negatives & positives
  • Capture risk management objectives that balance commercial and security objectives
  • Develop measurable and testable process to provide evaluation of threats over time and decision support options

Mumbai Railway Blasts (Updated July 18)
Blair Johannessen, South/Central Asia Regional Coordinator
Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
13 Jul 2006 (Updated July 18)
PPT Attachment

The Indian Supply Chain
A global network is only as strong as it weakest link; the implications of relying on Indian nodes in an age of economic terrorism
by Demir Barlas
Line56
July 14, 2006

Indian Intelligence Takes Closer Look at Al Qaeda
By SOMINI SENGUPTA
New York Times
July 13, 2006

Train Bombers Focused on Mumbai Business Class
By SOMINI SENGUPTA
New York Times
July 13, 2006

 

Mumbai Bombings Shake Outsourcing Community
By Stan Gibson
eWeek
July 13, 2006

Bombay Bombing and Antibodies
posted by Federalist X at 9:41 PM
Amendment Nine
July 13, 2006

Mumbai blasts should not affect investment to India
Investors said to have already factored in risks
By John Ribeiro
IDG News Service
July 12, 2006

Mumbai Inquiry Focuses on Militants
By AMELIA GENTLEMAN
New York Times
July 12, 2006

THE EXAMPLE OF GEORGIA
Posted by John Robb
Global Guerrillas
January 26, 2006 at 07:22 PM

THE NEW BLITZKRIEG
Posted by John Robb
Global Guerrillas

Terrorism and the Resilience of Cities
James Harrigan and Philippe Martin
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
FRBNY Economic Policy Review / November 2002

Gordon Housworth



InfoT Public  Risk Containment and Pricing Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  

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Virally infected suicide terrorists: return of a reoccurring theme that finds our defenses lax

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A Canadian speaker at the FBI National Academy Associates 2006 ANNUAL TRAINING CONFERENCE posed the question, "Who would think someone will deliberately infect people and send them out to infect others?" as part of a discussion of a "suicide terrorist infected with a deadly virus." It would "be harder to detect than one packing explosives as well as being a significant threat to first responders "including rescuers -- even cops with gas masks and ordinary protection gear." "There has to be some recognition that some people will die."

The especially sad part is that this is not new news. I am reminded how themes, on our side and our adversaries, appear to rise and ebb without continuous attention so as to be repeatedly viewed as new and their employment carrying an undeserved element of surprise.

One such theme is beheading. In 2003, a colleague cited a NYT item, Conflict on Iraq-Syria Border Feeds Rage Against the U.S. "about video disks being distributed in Syrian border villages encouraging attacks on US troops patrolling the border and showing what appeared to be an American - at any rate, a white male - being beheaded, while surrounded by a cheering crowd. The Pentagon denies that any US casualty was beheaded" and asked:

Has anyone ever heard of an incident like this that might be serving as the material for the videodisk - I'm thinking something that might have happened elsewhere at some other time. I've heard of Soviet soldiers being beheaded on film in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the tapes being used to raise funds in the Gulf. Ditto Chechnya, although in that case you didn't have cheering crowds. I'm wondering if someone's adapted some old footage to a new cause.

My private response was:

Yes, prisoners of varying nationalities were sold for sport during the Russian and post-Russian incursion periods -- the closest thing in our lexicon would be a souvenir photo. It was a local affair, a personal memento to take home, rather than an external fund raising event. A video tape was made of the proud owner generally slitting the throat or shooting the purchased prisoner, but the preponderance was the throat. One has to understand the Afghan sense of humor to make any sense of this.

It does not surprise me that copies would make their way elsewhere just as the slit throat and later beheading of a US journalist made its way into radicalist propaganda videos.

We were unduly surprised by the beheading of Daniel Pearl and most recently with the beheadings of Russian diplomats. We are surprised only because we forget. See Jihadists extend kidnapping and implied beheading down the coalition supply chain.

Jihadist as infection transmission vector is not new either. From Rethinking biological warfare at a human scale, January 16, 2006:

The [2005 HIV BOMBERS] report in the Sunday Mirror (UK) regarding the possible recruitment of AIDS infected individuals as suicide bombers is not a new idea as it occurred as early as 2002 in Palestine when rat poison was intentionally placed in suicide vests and by happenstance when postmortems of suicide bombers revealed Hepatitis B infections. The only curiosity is why expansion would take so long and how the process will morph.

Citing UK MOD documents released in the aftermath of the July 2005 London bombings:

Terror chiefs are also targeting fanatics who suffer other lethal blood diseases such as hepatitis and dengue fever in order to increase their "kill rate" from an explosion. "There is evidence that terrorists might be deliberately recruiting volunteers with diseases that are spread by blood transference." Experts have found that bones and other blood-spattered fragments from a suicide bomber could penetrate the skin of a victim 50 metres away and infect them…

All these discussions overlook the potential for a prospective suicide bomber to voluntarily permit infection thereby sidestepping the "search" for a willing infected. I can see the process as an early and easy commitment to martyrdom. Once the presence of AIDS is confirmed, the martyr can proceed to carry out his or her suicide mission. There are other diseases, natural and bioweapon, that can lend themselves to infection and dispersal by "human shrapnel."

In all cases, the psychological aspects of a 'human dirty bomb' are as valuable as the direct blast effects. returning to the Sunday Mirror, consider the distancing that is recommended for UK personnel. If nothing else, the jihadists succeed in driving yet another wedge between the locals and the military:

soldiers are warned to wear special protective clothing when on guard duty or if they have to deal with casualties in the event of an attack. All bases must also have snipers hidden behind blast-proof defences ready to take out would-be suicide bombers...

While I agree [that] it is simply a matter of time before international terrorist groups such as al-Qa'eda acquire weapons of mass destruction and use them in attacks," I submit that the attack can come quickly, cheaply and in mass on a human scale.

As I have been forecasting this attack vector for some time, I've been thinking on the means by which a Judas could infect him or herself to show a group of innocents, say, a group of Mexican migrant workers ready to set off for El Norte, the US, that their 'free' inoculation is safe. The group comes across "clean" as the symptoms have yet to manifest themselves, then they infect others before taking out various first responders as either police pick them up or the unknowingly infected go to medical facilities.

Were I doing it, I would set up a medical clinic as a cover doing legitimate work for a period of time that would lessen the attention of the authorities even as it draws innocents to my facility. At the right time, a very large group is infected on the eve of migration.

While scenario spinning can be dangerous, the various and simplest permutations by which attacker and innocents alike can be infected without notice is useful to study. DHS still looks at far too complex attack scenarios in framing a likely asymmetrical attacker. See Bioterrorism Drill TOPOFF 2 -- Failing to think like al Qaeda & relearning old lessons and Katrina as an "incident of national significance" puts the lie to DHS scenario planning for terrorist event preparation.

Before 11 September, Asymmetric Conflict 2010 noted a Vietnam Redux camp:

has begun to form around the core proposition that it is possible for the aggressor to achieve his principal strategic objectives in the theaterto induce U.S. withdrawal before achievement of its war aimswithout resorting to the high-risk use of nuclear, biological, or chemical threats or attacks. Adherents of this camp generally believe that regional actors are likely to have sufficient conventional power to achieve their ends, even if that conventional power is far inferior to that of the United States, and that the necessary strategic behaviors can be induced of Washington without projecting the war into the American homeland (which they also tend to see as unnecessarily risky). In the words of one analyst, "first principles for defeating a global power [without WMD] are in wide discussion 'out there'." [Statement made as an introductory remark by one of the speakers at a day-long symposium at IDA… The speaker was a senior member of the Intelligence Community, speaking on a not-for-attribution basis. The 11 principles that follow in this text reflect the author’s effort to distill the key strategic points from that discussion.] These principles appear to still be in the formative stage of debate among U.S. experts, but the research performed for this study suggests that they encompass the following:

  1. The weak can defeat the strong.
  2. Take a long time to prepare.
  3. Red can out-innovate Blue.
  4. Strike a fait accompli, reversible only at high cost.
  5. The Information Age empowers Red as much as Blue.
  6. Blue precision-guided munitions can be defeated.
  7. Red counterstrikes cannot be "defeated."
  8. Embarrass America.
  9. Time is not to the U.S. advantage. America fears quagmires.
  10. Escalate in ways that make it hard for the U.S. to counter-escalate.
  11. Don’t surrender. So long as you never lose, you’ve won.

The essence of this approach to asymmetric conflict is that the American public can be made weary of the costs of prolonged war, which will translate into an eventual political willingness to settle the conflict on terms that preserve the aggressor regime and potentially some of its original gains. And it can be made weary through sustained generation of U.S. casualties that will not result in U.S. escalation so long as those casualties do not occur suddenly or dramatically or otherwise generate great fear or anger among the American public. Indeed, recourse to WMD attacks in-theater and to terrorist attacks on the U.S. public could be seen as unnecessarily provocative. As Freedberg has argued, "If an adversary’s greatest asset is American indifference to conflicts in distant lands, then the last thing he wants to do is bring the war home to America.

The eleven points still track in a post 11 September world; Unfortunately, the closing "unnecessarily provocative" comments do not.

The combination of suicide terrorism and a willingness to "bring the war home" is extremely effective. From Iraq replaces Palestine as militant Islam's crie de guerre:

[S]uicide terrorism is a form of weaponry that terrorist groups, secular and religious, operate at a level above the suicide bombers. Suicide attacks are efficient weapons in that they have an effective homing capacity combined with obstacle avoidance and best timing of detonation...

Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, [notes that] religion is NOT the important criterion for a suicide volunteer. The principal stimulus to volunteering IS foreign occupation which increases nationalist resistance. (Religion is, however, a multiplier when the foreign occupying power has a religion different from the local community which the terrorists can exploit to their benefit…). Suicide terrorism is a quintessential asymmetrical attack tool in that suicide coercion is the inverse of the military coercion of the larger, ostensibly stronger power. The "presence of foreign combat troops on territory that the terrorists prize" cuts across all other drivers, be it religion, social status, revenge, poverty, or low education. Following the success of Hezbollah and its Iranian handlers in dissuading the US, France and Israel to remain in Lebanon, other asymmetric groups adopted the strategy (although much of the technical advances have been made by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka). Of the terrorist campaigns since 1980 that Pape has studied, 13 have concluded while 5 are still ongoing. Of the 13, 7 resulted in territorial gains for the terrorists while 6 did not. Pape writes:

"The main purpose of suicide terrorism is to use the threat of punishment to compel a target government to change policy and most especially to cause democratic states to withdraw forces from land the terrorists perceive as their national homeland."

Pape states the reality of needing to "find a lasting solution to suicide terrorism that does not compromise our core interest in maintaining access to one of the world’s key oil-producing regions." Dying to Win points to the need for counterterrorist strategies that defeat the current pool of suicide terrorists while deflecting or disarming the forthcoming emergence of a larger pool. Pape paints a steep slope that is not now being pursued, certainly not with sufficient competence, consistency, or funding, combining such actions as thoughtful concessions to occupied areas that rob terrorist groups of their support and possibly their legitimacy among the sea in which they swim, reconciliation with Muslim states and developing core alliances with Iraq and Saudi Arabia to combat of anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

The absence of such reductive policies predicts sustained suicide terrorism without limitation.

Li’l bugs, big peril (Item 4)
CBR Weapons and WMD Terrorism News- July 19, 2006
Center for Nonproliferation Studies of the Monterey Institute of International Studies

Li'l bugs, big peril
'Bio-terror' weapons easier to hide than a bomb, FBI briefing told
By IAN ROBERTSON
TORONTO SUN
July 18, 2006

Video: Islamic Terrorists Behead Russian Diplomats
John LIttle
Blogs of War
June 25th 2006
Note: The video link is no longer active but the stills are

Iraq Insurgents Claim to Kill 4 Russians
Al-Qaida-Linked Group Says It Killed 4 Russian Diplomats in Iraq, Posts Video Showing 3 Slayings
By NADIA ABOU
Associated Press/ABC News
Jun 25, 2006

AFTER THE WAR: FRONTIER; Conflict on Iraq-Syria Border Feeds Rage Against the U.S.
By DEXTER FILKINS
New York Times
July 15, 2003
Fee archive
Mirror LFP - Lebanese Foundation for Peace

Asymmetric Conflict 2010
Brad Roberts
Prepared by IDA
November 2000

Gordon Housworth



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Striking Mumbai is akin to striking financial centers such as Manhattan or London yet many in the west are oblivious

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Too many in the west don't know that Mumbai is Bombay renamed, much less that it is the financial center of India. In Why are US blogs ignoring Mumbai..., Ennis Singh Mutinywale notes that the Mumbai attack had "similar methods, similar scale" to the "Madrid 3/11 bombings and the London 7/7 bombings" but rates "barely a mention" in the US blogger press:

Doesn't this story have important ramifications for American foreign policy? If the attacks were mounted by a Pakistan based organization, it could move two nuclear countries closer to an armed confrontation. If it was mounted by Al-Qaeda, that would be significant as well...

I can say that it does indeed have critical ramifications which, say to say, are being studiously ignored by the US and EU outsourcing community and the 'stateside' customers of those outsourcers. Those same ramifications are being as quickly minimized away by Indian outsourcing firms concerned that clients will seek safer sites (Indian costs are already rising which is forcing tertiary outsourcing to China.) There is also a cultural overhang to the lack of coverage which, while anguishing to many lay Indians is viewed with some relief by Indian business seeking operational continuity.

We have been covering the actions of the jihadist Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) (Army of the Pure),  Naxalite Maoist groups such as the People's War Group (PWG), and the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) for some time. Our predictions are tracking well and it is only the aggressive actions by Indian security services that have minimized attacks to date. See:

We will return to these items but I would like to combine Ennis' more detailed critique at Sepia Mutiny with what I think is the best analysis of media bias in disaster coverage, the Journal of International Affairs monograph, “Regarding the Pain of Others”: Media, Bias and the Coverage of International Disasters.

I cannot recommend this article enough. It illustrates what I call the "lens of the news" that wanders a tiny spotlight through a dark room; events out of the spotlight are immediately forgotten while some never get in:

Over the last two years the world has had a surfeit of disasters. Everywhere one turned there were new photographs of bodies lined up so relatives could come and claim them. In October 2005, the images of covered corpses, stunned faces, keening mothers, tumbled homes and nature gone awry resulted from the South Asia earthquake. In August, the global tragedy was Hurricane Katrina, where the bodies the world saw weren't under rubble but floating in New Orleans' toxic flood. In July, the casualties were British; grainy cell phone photos carried viewers into the very moment that terror struck the London transport system. In December 2004, the sprawled bodies in awkward, disconcerting color were the child and adult victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Three months earlier, in September, the translucent corpses of children were from the school siege in Beslan. And virtually every day-should one have troubled to look for them-one could find photographs of the human and other wreckage of another suicide bombing, or three, in Iraq.

But not all of the crises of this past year or so have equally commanded the attention of the world and its cameras. Some disasters have had the bad luck to occur at a moment when a more telegenic disaster was already capturing global attention… Other crisis stories have played even more poorly in the media… And some crises of unimaginable proportions still go unreported; the number of threatened or killed is not a solid predictor of coverage. The media have covered some of the most devastating disasters sporadically… Other global disasters are in such a state of stasis that the media have effectively ignored their numbing devastation…

The analysis of US press coverage is savage and well deserved:

Exactly what the American mainstream media considers to be important could be read in their coverage of the crises of 2005: just-breaking news, dramatic pictures, Americans at risk, situations that can be distilled down to uncomplicated controversy (he said, she said) or uncomplicated violence (such as that caused by natural disasters), quick and/or resolvable denouements and human anecdotes. Immediate actions are valued far more than processes. With this as the key, it is easy to understand why the top news stories in 2005 could range from the devastation of the tsunami to Jennifer Aniston's divorce, from the death of Pope John Paul II to the care and feeding of Terry Schiavo.

Most mainstream media outlets do not consider international crises and disasters holistically. Crises are not crises; instead, they are a kind of virtual merchandise to be sold to fickle audiences who select what news to consume from an exhaustive menu of choices-from tragic disasters to celebrity breakups. When media consider what stories to put on their news budget, elements often far removed from the intrinsic "importance" of a crisis matter.

Like the insurance industry that worries over insured losses more than absolute losses, the media worry over what is "new," what is photogenic, what directly affects their audience, what can be told in a minute-thirty or seven hundred words. The elements of a crisis are disaggregated and evaluated quite dispassionately, often by media accountants with priorities and expectations far different than that of government officials, policy wonks, NGO specialists, insurance executives or even news junkies.

When relief workers look at crises and see crises, for example, media look at crises and see news which is, for most media, a commodity. Other professions-engineers or health workers, for instance-might consider the same crises and see needs of a global community or of individual victims. Viewed in that light it is possible to understand why media institutions do not have any inherent business instincts to cover even major disasters beyond the initial cataclysm.

'Regarding the pain of others' explains much of Ennis's distress and it did that of many Pakistanis over the minimal coverage of their devastating earthquake. The section THERE'S NOTHING BETTER THAN PHOTOS OF A "WHITE WESTERNER IN A BATHING SUIT" goes far in explaining the relatively strong and sustained attention and outpouring over the 2004 tsunami while many other disasters of similar scale were forgotten save for aid agencies, recovery planners and risk analysts as myself.

As I write this, the Israeli incursions against Lebanon and Gaza are pushing Mumbai out of the western news hole. The lens of the news is moving on.

Returning to Indian specifics, we have long identified the multiple benefits of militant attacks against Indian economic recovery. From Commercial blindness:

An LeT attack on outsourcers in India is a "twofer" in that an attack damages the Indian state and its ability for economic gain directly, and damages US and European firms indirectly -- where an attack on US soil would be prohibitive in terms of placing surveillance and strike teams on the ground…

Who can blame the Indians for keeping mum, but where are the US and European firms that should have a fiduciary responsibility to their stakeholders and to their clients who data and business continuity are in the possession of their Indian entities and outsourcing partners?...

[India benefits from the fact] that the great unwashed commercial consumers in the West do not know who Lashkar-e-Toiba, Army of the Pure, really is. The South Asia Terrorism Portal [is] a sound source of basic information, unlike many other Indian sites which are merely anti-Pakistani or nationalistic... SATP has much to say about Lashkar-e-Toiba here ... but I would net it out as follows:

LeT rose as part of the Mujahideen resistance against Soviet occupation in Afghanistan as the military wing of Markaz-ud-Dawa-wal-Irshad (MDI), an Islamic fundamentalist organization rising from Pakistan, where the US has been pressuring Musharraf to curb their activities. LeT’s goals go far beyond regaining Muslim control of Jammu and Kashmir to recreating Islamic governance of India in union with other predominantly Muslim states surrounding Pakistan. LeT is now active in Jammu and Kashmir, India, Chechnya, again in Afghanistan from 2002 to date, Iraq, Bosnia and other garden spots. Think of LeT more as educated and skilled than [as] peasants…

The threat to IT and outsourcing assets in Bangalore and Hyderabad should be taken seriously despite the bland denials from Indian authorities who are understandably anxious to protect what amounts to the core of Indian economic revival… Thoughtful outsourcers there should consider counterthreat and personnel security improvements in addition to IP theft mitigation…

The December 2005 attack against a "temple" of Indian "knowledge society," Bangalore's Indian Institute of Science (IISc) occasioned a forecast extension of the twofer concept. From Indian pipedream:

Shock waves still reverberate through the Indian high-tech community... "the psychological impact of the attack is immenseanalogous to the impact that an attack on MIT would have in the United States."

Political attacks have turned economic in India. Shock waves should be reverberating though US outsourcing assets in the Indian subcontinent, but they remain inert... 

Extending the "twofer" concept in October 2005, we had forecast this attack progression:

  1. Personnel and symbolic targets
  2. Expat data and business process outsourcing (BPO) centers
  3. Manufacturing and development centers

The latter two target groups can cause supply chain disruptions. It is overlooked, for example, that great numbers of US banks have Indian data centers, attacks against which have a multiplier effect in that the bank and all its customers are affected.

Targeting data, BPO and manufacturing facilities leverages the operations and business continuity of US and European firms that would otherwise be difficult to attack directly, while embarrassing the Indian government in demonstrating that it cannot protect its offshoring endeavors, thereby driving potential investors to areas presumed to offer less risk. Unfortunately, relocating from India elsewhere in Asia merely exchanges direct attack risks to more intellectual property loss risks...

The key for expat firms that have no viable options for relocation is to conduct a rigorous vulnerability assessment, then implement the appropriate risk mediation interventions for personnel, facilities and data.

Commercial damage control got underway following the IISc attack as is now happening after the Mumbai attack to placate US and European clients. After IISc:

Nandan Nilekani, CEO of a major Indian outsourcer, Infosys Technologies Limited, was quick to attempt to play down risk to US firms:

"Our campuses are physically secure. We have all kinds of checks that we do. The entire perimeter is guarded which we believe enable us to be fully secure."

The interviewer went on to quote Nilekani as saying, "Even after American companies factor in additional security costs, doing business in India is still far cheaper than staying home."

And after Mumbai:

Sanjay Anandaram, "a partner at JumpStartUp Venture Fund, a US$45 million fund with headquarters in Mauritius":

Investors are not naive and have factored in the political, economic, and other risks involved before investing in India… The blasts Tuesday have not led investors to revaluate doing business in India, because they are among several attacks, riots, and natural calamities to have affected Mumbai and the rest of the country over the years… After similar bombings targeted business centers in Mumbai in 1993, business returned to normal once the story was no longer in the news pages.

A "spokeswoman for ICICI OneSource Ltd., a business process outsourcing company in Mumbai":

Customers outsourcing to India have their own business continuity plans in addition to what Indian outsourcers offer. "On an average less than 10 percent of what is outsourced by a customer is offshored to India, and within India they use providers in multiple locations"… ICICI did not have to move work to its centers outside Mumbai Tuesday, as all its staff for the evening shift were already in the office.

If you believe the spokeswoman, I have some beachfront Arctic property for you. The vast majority of foreign firms are in denial or have been lulled into a false sense of security as the effectiveness of their "business continuity plans." LeT may not be able to operate outside the Indian subcontinent, but it is a skilled and persistent attacker within it. Again, I cannot blame Indian business for wanting to obscure the magnitude of a threat that is growing, in part due to India's success in attracting businesses and industry that can not be easily struck in the US or EU.

If it is confirmed that al Qaeda has an operational cell in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir, LeT's home territory, Indian authorities will face a heightened threat of Muslim extremism.

Indian Intelligence Takes Closer Look at Al Qaeda
By SOMINI SENGUPTA
New York Times
July 13, 2006

Train Bombers Focused on Mumbai Business Class
By SOMINI SENGUPTA
New York Times
July 13, 2006

Open Thread: Mumbai Bomb Blast
posted by Arzan Sam Wadia at 9:26 AM on July 15, 2006
Mumbai Metroblogging

Points that the Mumbai Blasts tell us...
posted by Santhosh G Wilson at 6:48 PM on July 13, 2006
Mumbai Metroblogging

Why are US blogs ignoring Mumbai, ask South Asian bloggers
posted by Xeni Jardin at 04:00:18 PM
BoingBoing
July 12, 2006

Deafening silence in the blogosphere
Ennis Singh Mutinywale
Sepai Mutiny
July 12, 2006

Mumbai blasts should not affect investment to India
Investors said to have already factored in risks
By John Ribeiro, IDG News Service
July 12, 2006

Mumbai Inquiry Focuses on Militants
By AMELIA GENTLEMAN
New York Times
July 12, 2006

Series of Bombs Explode on 7 Trains in India, Killing Scores
By SARITHA RAI and SOMINI SENGUPTA
New York Times
July 12, 2006

Blasts in Mumbai's local trains.
posted by Selma Mirza at 9:46 PM on July 11, 2006
Mumbai Metroblogging


“Regarding the Pain of Others”: Media, Bias and the Coverage of International Disasters
Susan D. Moeller
Journal of International Affairs
Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs
Spring/Summer 2006
Vol. 59, No. 2, Page 173-196
1 April 2006
Mirror at Reuters AlertNet
(Now scrolled off)

Gordon Housworth



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Predicted mutilation and beheading video of US soldiers timed to Muslim's rape; what event will trigger the release of the execution video?

  #

I was unfortunately correct in my assumption that the mutilation and dismemberment of the pair of US soldiers was filmed. From Beheading, torture and violation as a means of conferring legitimacy in Mujahideen Shura Council succession, June 21:

The soldiers' cause of death was not directly related to combat wounds sustained in their capture but rather post-capture treatment that apparently transcended prior levels of torture and decapitation, i.e., the mistreatment of the bodies was extreme, a new high watermark...

While no one has mentioned the possibility of the beheading/mutilations being filmed, I would be surprised only if they had not been filmed - which begs the issue of when and how those films are released. Zarqawi took responsibility for the beheadings of US national Nicholas Berg and Korean Kim Sun-il, and was said to have carried out the decapitations. Filming al-Masri or whomever assumes command would place him in the same pantheon as Zarqawi.

If the filming assumption is true, then are the insurgents hoping for a secondary goal of a US overreaction with subsequent fallout from Iraqi/Sunni populace when the films are released?...

Jawa Report's description:

The video bears the logo of The Mujahadin Shura Council and al Qaeda in Iraq. Contrary to reports by al Qaeda and in the MSM, the video appears to show that the two soldiers were already dead before at least one of them was beheaded.

After a brief introdcuction with an image and the voice of Osama bin Laden, the video shows the two dead soldiers lying on a bridge. Both are already dead.

One of the men has already been beheaded, the other man is dead. An al Qaeda member holds the severed head of one of the dead soldiers.

One of the two soldiers appear to have been shot, the other has multiply wounds but appears to have also been hit by an explosive.

The video also blurs out one of the dead men's genitels, apparently al Qaeda believes showing that would be over-the-top.

Later, an image of the now dead leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, is superimposed over the film. Zarqawi had personally murdered several people by beheading and then released those films on the internet.

The entire video has a voice over of what sounds like Abu Musab al Zaraqawi {UPDATE: Confirmed by MSM] calling Muslims to jihad. A nasheed, or Islamic jihad song, can also be heard in the background.

A translation by SITE states that the act was retribution for rape of a Muslim woman by an infidel. I find it the height of manipulation that the jihadists, primarily Sunni, are exercised by the death of a Sunni woman, a person that on other occasions would be a legitimate target by Sunnis:

A message introducing the video states that this video is presented as "revenge for our sister who was dishonored by a soldier of the same brigade," referencing the rape and murder of an Iraqi girl and her family by a group of American soldiers in al-Mahmoudiya.

AFP added translation of the accompanying audio:

"Here is a film on the remains of the bodies of the two American soldiers kidnapped near Yussufiyah (south of Baghdad). We are showing it to avenge our sister who was raped by a soldier belonging to the same division as these two soldiers," said a preamble by the Mujahedeen Al-Shura Council, an al-Qaeda dominated alliance of armed Sunni groups in Iraq.

When guerillas learned of the rape, "they repressed their sighs to avoid news of the affair spreading but they swore to avenge their sister", the council said on its usual website.

"Praise God, they captured two soldiers from the same division as this vile crusader. Here are the remains ... to rejoice the hearts of the faithful," the statement said.

I had alluded above to the level of affront that rape, especially by an infidel, carries in the Muslim community:

The victim in the suspected rape was Abeer Qassim Hamzeh. The others killed were her younger sister, father and mother...

Sexual assault is considered one of the most heinous and shameful crimes in Muslim society; even mentioning the subject is often considered taboo. "We don't want to talk about this," [the mayor of Mahmudiya, Mouayid Fadhil] said. "She was raped."...

[Fadhil said that] American military investigators wanted to dig up the victims' bodies. But Iraq's Justice Ministry must first determine whether exhumation is allowed under Koranic law, he said. The victims' relatives are also reluctant to divulge the burial site out of shame over the fact that one of the dead, a girl as young as 15, was reported to have been raped by at least two American soldiers, the mayor said...

The debate over exhuming the bodies could complicate the military investigation. American military officials declined on Thursday to talk about specifics of the investigation, but prosecutors undoubtedly want detailed forensic evidence to build as strong a case as possible against the suspects. The victims were examined by doctors at the local hospital months ago before being buried, Mr. Fadhil said, but the Americans want to check the corpses for themselves.

The video just released shows both men dead, one already beheaded. I would have to expect the other shoe will drop at some point when the actual execution videos are released.

Were I a thoughtful jihadist, I would be counting on excessive responses from US soldiers. I would hope that there has been preparation in military circles for this event.

Beheading Desecration Video of Dead U.S. Soldiers Released on Internet by al Qaeda (Video/Images)
Posted by Dr. Rusty Shackleford at July 10, 2006 11:50 PM
The Jawa Report
July 10, 2006

Internet video shows mutilated US soldiers
From correspondents in Paris
This article from : Agence France-Presse
Courier Mail (Australia)
July 11, 2006

The Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq Issues a Video of the Mutilated Corpses of the Two Captured American Soldiers in al-Yusefiya
By SITE Institute
July 10, 2006

Investigators ask to exhume body of alleged rape victim
By Ryan Lenz
Associated Press
Army times
July 10, 2006

U.S. Military Braces for Flurry of Criminal Cases in Iraq
By ROBERT F. WORTH
New York Times
July 9, 2006

2 American Officials Apologize for Crime
By EDWARD WONG
New York Times
July 7, 2006

Gordon Housworth



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Google Earth 4.0 becomes a poor man's surveillance and targeting tool

  #

Google Earth 4.0 has become a poor man's surveillance and targeting tool, offering to an individual or a small distributed group what was once the purview of a few nation states. Within a month of releasing this as a private advisory last June, clients advised me that they were able to significantly improve their defensive analysis and their external surveillance:

Google unveiled on Monday a new version of its Google Earth application, which features greater coverage and higher resolution, even showing people walking in some locations--detail you get with aerial photography and not usually satellites. The downloadable Google Earth 4.0 runs on PCs, Macs and Linux-based machines and is available in localized versions in French, Italian, German and Spanish…

"Developers can place images on top of (the map) that span the whole Earth."… Realtors can use SketchUp to build models of homes and put them into maps to show prospective buyers, he said. A repository of links to geographic- and nongeographic-referenced objects that can be used is [available]...

[People] can easily overlay geographic data on top of a Google map without hosting a map on a Web site to create a map "mashup." Google is adding geographic-coding support to Google maps so developers can easily get the coordinates for an street address. [In what is called "participatory mapping," the] Google Earth Community [allows] individuals [to] add personal placemarks to information on the map. More than 30,000 developers around world are using the Google Earth application programming interface, and there have been 100 million downloads of Google Earth…

Benefits that accrue to real estate, architectural engineering and state and local planning applications also accrue to the asymmetric attacker. Military and homeland defense assets that rarely venture beyond their classified, multi-spectrum battlefield Command & Control (C2) systems will forget that the asymmetrical attacker now has a "good enough" C2 targeting and surveillance system available courtesy of the global web browser interface. For those who doubt, in Google's own words:

Defense & Intelligence

When lightning-quick decisions are required, high performance systems alone are not enoughcomputing tools must be easy to use and provide full context. Google Earth's compelling display of complex geospatial data offers powerful yet visual analytic capability in a format that is fast, fluid, and intuitive. No other product offers the rapid situational awareness of Google Earth.

Google Earth breaks the chains of traditional "click and wait" map access. Users can fly through massive datasets with the speed of a video game, even when the data is resident on a large network accessed by hundreds or thousands of other users. With Google Earth's integration tools, you can leverage and extend your existing data and systems, providing more access to more data by more peopleturning information into understanding.

Google Earth technology offers critical capabilities to security, defense and intelligence users through

  • Enhanced Situational Awareness
  • Easy Collaboration
  • Increased Data Value

By leveraging and extending your existing systems to more users, Google Earth helps you extract more value from your current data assets. Defense and intelligence applications include:

  • Mission planning, training, and simulation
  • Aerial imagery distribution to geographically dispersed operations
  • Visualization of tracked assets and personnel in the field

Homeland Security

Risk assessment is not an option, it's a must. Yet fewer challenges are greater than sorting through the mountains of disparate government and commercial sources for the right information to complete the assessment task. Google Earth solutions cut through the clutter of geospatial databases, allowing analysts and operatives to get the job done effectively and in record time.

Google Earth lets you distribute access to more people, providing fast and fluid, interactive earth views streamed over secure networks or the Internet. By fusing imagery, terrain, and GIS data, Google Earth lets the user focus on their task at hand, not their software system. Superior ease of use allows virtually anyone to view, grab, pan, and zoom through earth imagery and GIS data in minutes. Plus a rich suite of tools lets users visually inspect and analyze geographic features.

As the only company to aggregate a national database of contiguous US imagery, geographic features, roads, and business listings, Google Earth provides not only enterprise software but also complete solutions with integrated data...

By placing information into context, Google Earth converts data into understanding. Homeland Security applications include:

  • Critical infrastructure vulnerability assessment and protection
  • First responder site familiarization and planning
  • Pattern visualization of surveillance data

An excellent addition for surveillance and training is Google SketchUp, a 3D modeling program that allows users to "create 3D models" of houses, buildings, vehicles, ships, etc., and then "place them in Google Earth, post them to the 3D Warehouse, or print hard copies." Users can then take oblique "imagery" of a target for familiarization, sightline and masking planning. As users pause over a Google Earth location, markers are displayed for that area, models included.

As Google Earth matures, innocent users will add more 'targets' without the asymmetrical attacker having to do so. See, for example, the renderings of Buckingham Palace, White House, Brooklyn Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, Pentagon, Chrysler Building, Cœur Défense "Earth of Defense" (Two towers in La Defense near Paris), US Bank Tower (originally called the Library Tower, tallest building in Los Angeles), AT&T Park (San Francisco Stadium), and Deutscher Bundestag (German parliament).

"Google's easy-to-use mapping API has created an explosion of map "mash-ups," applications that add features or data to Google's map interface. Whether the mash-ups display store locations, gasoline prices, or time and weather on a map, ultimately it's the data that makes these mash-ups interesting." Mashups offer a good Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) (also here) for surveillance and targeting as it is one of the few current instances were there is good "predictability of the data format" (boldface in original):

[T]here's near-universal agreement on how to format an address. OK, there might or might not be a city name, not everyone punctuates the same way, sometimes the zipcode's in a different place, but overall the structure's very well-defined, and Google is smart enough to handle most of the variations. It's almost a de-facto microformat, without the angle brackets.

This is what makes mapping mashups so easy, and so untypical of the kind of mashup challenges people face in the real world: the critical data is already structured according to a specification that all of us internalize by the time we graduate from junior school. The same is true of names, dates, time of day, quantities and dimensions — which incidentally constitute most of the building blocks of information that go to make up those few microformats that have been defined — oh, and prices, which brings us back to stock tickers.

Undefined on that list are a huge mass of information points that are necessary for doing business, which is why mashups are making slow progress in the enterprise — and for that matter, why service-oriented architectures are making slow progress, too... In the enterprise, there is no semantic commonality and agreement... Each application and separate database has its own data structure for 'customer', 'product', 'order', 'line item', and so on. This is the semantic minefield that most SOA projects get bogged down in. It's not unusual for a single organization to discover it's got fifty or sixty different ways of structuring a customer record. No SOA infrastructure is capable of sustaining the overhead it would take to mediate between all of those different structures. Converging on a single format is probably unrealistic, but [it's] essential to consolidate the number of variations into low single figures.

I would think that there is merit in checking for telltale signals of data drawn for a hostile mapping application as opposed to a purely commercial one. Were I an intel organization, I would be very curious about particular Google Earth and Google Map users.

Google Maps, the fool's gold of mashups
Posted by Phil Wainewright @ 8:35 am
July 6, 2006

Google Earth zooms in
By Elinor Mills
CNet
Story last modified Tue Jun 13 06:42:34 PDT 2006

A Google Maps mash-up
Integrate external data with the Google Maps API
By Sumit Bando and Darius Kasad
January 16, 2006

Putting the SOA Infrastructure Together: Lessons from SOA Leaders
Maximizing the Value and Success of SOA
An SOA Leaders Council Whitepaper
November 20, 2005

A Journey to a Thousand Maps Begins With an Open Code
By DAMON DARLIN
New York Times
October 20, 2005
Correction Appended


What is service-oriented architecture?
An introduction to SOA
By Raghu R. Kodali
Java World
June 13, 2005

Gordon Housworth



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Making Ricin or identifying SWIFT transfers: the fallacy of withholding modestly available open source information

  #

As an open source analyst, I have followed the opprobrium leveled against the New York Times, but not against the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times or the Washington Post, for its SWIFT route tracing article. I feel that the Times was reasonable in its actions and that much of the response from the administration and Congress is either political theater or ignorance, perhaps both.

At a technical level, the best exchange was between former CIA Deputy Director, Bobby Inman, and the editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller. Inman, a person that I believe generally gets it right but in this case is an example of an inside-the-ring classified viewpoint, was critical of the Times for what he termed a "sources and methods" revelation in which "People only change the way they communicate when they are explicitly alerted that they are being listened to" and that "the immediate reaction from many of our friendly collaborators will once again being, the U.S. can't keep any secrets."

Keller replied that the "story cited more than 20 sources, and it was put together over the course of several months. It wasn't handed to us and uncritically replicated in the pages of The New York Times" and that he believed that there wasn't "anything about sources and methods in this story that would be news to anybody, except, perhaps, readers of the newspaper and members of Congress." Keller added that the Times "looked in excruciating detail at claims that this was not something that terrorists knew, that this would somehow be useful to terrorists [and] the fact is [you] can find more useful detail about what the Treasury is doing in the Treasury's own public briefings."

I differ with Inman's counter to Keller, "Of which -- to which the terrorists probably don't have access. But if it's the front page of The New York Times, they will. And this presumption that people automatically know or probably know is at the heart of the problem."

Indeed it is. My experience is that those inside, those whose information arrives from classified or official channels, and those without a supple touch on what exists in open source, can reasonably think the Times and other papers to have revealed something. For those who have lived in both a classified and unclassified environment as I have tend to the viewpoint that Times did little wrong.

I was reminded of a mid-2004 self-censoring that I did on the actual preparation of Ricin, a poison utterly fatal when taken intravenously. As one and all of the generally accepted popular texts had it wrong, I did not further publicize the detailed preparation data as it was anecdotal to unclass federal research on asymmetrical chemical weapons production (low cost, low signature, under the radar, in-country production). See Manufacturing efficiency gives rise to a new arms race: convergence of legitimate pharma-chemical, illicit drug, and CW/BW agent and Expect a rise in terrorism from US nationals: single-issue , left wing ideological, and cyber.

None of the major wannabe sites such as Mujahideen Poisons Handbook, Temple of the Screaming Electron (TOTSE), The Poisoner's Handbook, The Complete Poor Man's James Bond and Silent Death mention chromatographic separation as a means of preparation; George Smith did a devastatingly biting analysis of the glib acceptance by many of these bogus recipes.

I need not have been concerned as a search over the weekend (July 2006) showed that George Smith had already laid out both the failed and successful means of Ricin production in February, 2004 - even as the popular and high street press continued - and still continues - to prattle mistakes from survivalist works that migrated into Arabic al Qaeda translations and back into English.

Backing up to mid-2004, I had found two themes for supposed production of Ricin. The first category of Internet recipe for Ricin extraction involves:

  • Variations of the addition of water and lye or a solvent like acetone to castor seeds before or after maceration and a subsequent filtration through paper.
  • These steps are not a purification or extraction and do not significantly change the composition of castor bean mash or oilcake.
  • Proteins are also denatured by strong base, such as lye, elevated temperatures, and distillation.

The other Internet recipe for Ricin is the US patent 3,060,165, now redacted at USPTO but available from the European Patent office and other sites:

  • Intent was to produce a product for use in a biological weapon.
  • As published, contains fundamental errors in the application of biochemical methods of protein purification (denaturing over preserving)
  • Could extract a coarse mixture of proteins and other macromolecules from castor seeds, of which Ricin would be one component.

After reading critical assessments of "what it isn't" or "how it can't," and not being a biochemist myself, I posed the question: How is a protein isolated? As it is a naturally occurring compound, it is isolated rather than manufactured. Submitting that simple search question showed that chromatographic separation was key.

Chromatographic techniques in protein separation are many, including:

  • Affinity Chromatography
  • Ion Exchange Chromatography
  • Size Exclusion Chromatography

Proteins are commonly fractionated by column chromatography where a mixture of proteins in solution is passed through a column containing a solid matrix. Certain proteins may attach to the column depending upon the properties of the column and the composition of the protein. Proteins are washed through the column elution buffer. Different proteins will elute (come off the column) at different times. This is all dependent upon the column, elution buffer and the properties of the individual proteins in the mixture.

When you see an absence of the use of bases such as lye or the application of heat or distillation (all of which denature Ricin), but do see chromatographic separation, you know that the preparer likely knows how to produce a sufficiently pure Ricin product.

Not having the time for further research during the original investigation, I had self-censored under the concern that I might be revealing something not otherwise readily available. In retrospect, any biochemist would have known it as a matter of fact. Reviewing my 2004 notes, George Smith has written how Ricin was not made and was also a biochemist. I had independently learned that chromatographic separation was the means of isolation. A single search string on "chromatographic," "ricin," and "George Smith" revealed Smith's February 2004 article:

A common wisdom is that recipes for the isolation of ricin are for anyone's taking on the Internet. It is oft repeated, sometimes with the more recent and very curious statement that ricin is "distilled" from castor beans. Ricin is not a distillate, it is a protein.

National Security Notes has seen no indication "recipes for ricin" downloaded from the Internet are good for much of anything that isn't already done during the agricultural and industrial processing of castor beans. The most linked to "recipe" is a simply an armchair chemist's crude saponification of the oil component of crushed castor beans and an uncomplicated drying procedure.

Scientific purification of ricin down to an electrophoretically uniform protein can be performed by affinity chromatography. This is never mentioned in alleged Internet "recipes for ricin." Citations pointing to expert peer-reviewed papers on the isolation and characterization of ricin are not difficult to come by if a person knows where to look and knows what they are doing. Yet, none are present in Internet "recipes for ricin."

Why? Is it because such recipes are provided by run-of-the-mill phonies who wish to appear menacing and knowledgeable about dangerous things which they actually know nothing about. Or is it all a clever disinformation campaign?

The moral of this story, and one that has been proved frequently in our open source investigations, is that information on many sensitive topics is more often than not available in cleartext but that the incurious or the uninformed assume that it is only known to preparers inside a classified environment. I find that exceedingly dangerous as it too often lulls decision makers into the assumption that such information is not available to asymmetrical attackers. I have found speed and rapid decision cycle time to trump false secrecy every time. We ignore the skill and diligence of our adversaries at our peril.

New York Times Draws Criticism Over Decision to Reveal Intelligence Program
Executive editor of the New York Times Bill Keller and former director of the National Security Agency Admiral Bobby Inman debate the newspaper's publication of the Bush administration's surveillance of banking records and the process in deciding what is fit to print.
JEFFREY BROWN interview
NewsHour
July 5, 2006

House Assails Media Report on Tracking of Finances
By CARL HULSE
New York Times
June 30, 2006

Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and JAMES RISEN
New York Times
June 23, 2006

THE MUBTAKKAR OF DEATH: Accurate assessment or more government and news media exaggeration?
by George Smith
Dick Destiny
June 18, 2006

FROM THE POISONER'S HANDBOOK TO THE BOTOX SHOE OF DEATH
by George Smith
Dick Destiny
June 13, 2006

Comments on the CRS Report "Small-Scale Terrorist Attacks Using Chemical and Biological Agents"
by George Smith, Ph.D., Senior Fellow
GlobalSecurity.Org
2004

Excerpts from a letter sent by Milton Leitenberg of the University of Maryland to the authors of a May 2004 Congressional Research Service report on Small-scale Terrorist Attacks Using Chemical and Biological Agents: An Assessment Framework and Preliminary Comparisons
Milton Leitenberg
University of Maryland
GlobalSecurity.Org
2004

Small-scale Terrorist Attacks Using Chemical and Biological Agents: An Assessment Framework and Preliminary Comparisons
Dana A. Shea and Frank Gottron
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Congressional Research Service
CRS RL32391
May 20, 2004

Security Notes from All Over: USPTO
by Bruce Schneier
Crypto-Gram Newsletter
March 15, 2004

THE RECIPE FOR RICIN, Part II: The legend flourishes from the Dept. of Justice to the Senate Intelligence Committee
National Security Notes
GlobalSecurity.org
04 March 2004

THE RECIPE FOR RICIN: Examining the legend
National Security Notes
GlobalSecurity.org
February 20, 2004

THE FASCINATION WITH RICIN: Common details overlooked
National Security Notes
GlobalSecurity.org
February 6, 2004

Investigators: Anyone Can Get The Recipe For A Bio-Terror Weapon More Deadly Than Cyanide
Jim Hoffer
WABC
February 6, 2003
Original
scrolled off
Cache
retrieved on Jul 19, 2005 08:57:13 GMT

Ricin Found in London: An al-Qa`ida Connection?
by Jeffrey M. Bale, Ph.D., Anjali Bhattacharjee, Eric Croddy, Richard Pilch, MD
Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS)
Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program
January 23, 2003

Gordon Housworth



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Israel retakes the Stupid Award from the Palestinians; utter failure of proportionality and necessity in attempting to recover a POW

  #

Years ago, after another tit-for-tat atrocity in the Arab-Israeli continuum, I remember a cartoonist rendering a Palestinian rushing into a tent clutching a trophy for stupidity exclaiming words to the effect that , 'Brothers, we have reclaimed the prize from the Israelis.' While the prize has been exchanged many times since, Israel's ongoing gross failure to apply any semblance of proportionality and necessity in its military response to a small but remarkably effective and well-executed Palestinian raid, has insured that Israel reclaimed the prize.

The immediate Palestinian trigger for Israeli reaction, which itself was in response to a series of botched Israeli air strikes whose missiles killed innocent Palestinian bystanders, was a Sunday, 25 June, joint incursion by three Palestinians groups, Izz el-Deen al-Qassam (Hamas' armed wing), the Popular Resistance Committees and the Islamic Army, who executed a "unprecedented" attack on an Israeli frontier post that has stunned Israel with its audacity, professionalism and success:

Israeli officials said on Sunday that the tunnel, which extended from Gaza at least 600 yards and emerged in Israel, behind Israeli lines, had taken many weeks, if not months, to dig. Israel clearly had warnings of an attack and had closed the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza for several days last week for security reasons. That closure meant that the nearby Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza was also shut, since the European monitors for Rafah get there through Kerem Shalom. On Sunday, Israel quickly shut all crossings into Gaza and kept them shut all day, even to journalists, who protested the closure.

The attack took place on an Israeli Army outpost near the Kerem Shalom kibbutz, but not at the crossing point itself. According to reports, about eight Palestinian fighters came out of the tunnel near the spot where Gaza, Israel and Egypt meet at about 5:15 a.m. local time and split into small teams. One group blew up an armored personnel carrier, which was empty, and another threw grenades into an Israeli Merkava tank, killing [two]... [A third crewmember] was seriously wounded and the [Merkava gunner, Gilad Shalit, was captured as a POW.] Antitank missiles were also fired toward the vehicles from Gaza [while two] other Israeli soldiers were also wounded.

A third group moved about a half mile northeast to the outpost near the kibbutz and attacked it. The Palestinians then blew a hole in the fence separating Gaza from Israel and returned to Gaza with Corporal Shalit. Two Palestinians died in the attack...

Israel's response combined the predictable with the extreme. Among the predictable:

  • Agitprop campaign that painted the governing Hamas as the culprit when it was its independent military wing, whose commander resides in Syria, that led the raid, said that the incident was "a wake-up call [for] those in the international community who are talking about whether there is a new, pragmatic Hamas," and that it was "Hamas-terrorist blackmail."
  • Painted Shalit as a pained innocent when he was a combatant on a frontier duty station as the gunner on a Merkava main battle tank, and was in the tank at the time of the attack; described Shalit's abduction as a "kidnapping," inflating the capture itself as a criminal act, when he was a captured POW, no more, no less. (I traced the "kidnapping" comment back to a Reuters attribution to an Israeli mediator on the day of the attack. By the seventh update, Reuters was using "kidnapped soldier" in its headline while the NY Times picked it up the same day, using the term five times in its first item. An examination of NY Times and other western press has shown "kidnapped" or "kidnapping" to be the assumed term rather than POW or prisoner.)
  • Stonewalled any discussion of negotiation even though Israel has previously negotiated for captives, with prisoner exchanges having been made, Israel has commenced its bargaining position as it the potential does not exist. The fear of appearing weak, as much to Israelis sensitive over the Gaza withdrawal as to Palestinians, seems to be painting Israel in the corner of hoping that a hard-line will force Egyptian, French, PLO and other assets to secure Shalit's release:

    Israeli officials immediately rejected the demand from the groups, which include the Popular Resistance Committees; the Army of Islam, a new grouping; and the military wing of Hamas, which is running the Palestinian government. "This is not a matter of negotiations," Mr. Olmert said, "this is not a matter of bargaining." Justice Minister Haim Ramon said: "We have no intention of negotiating with Hamas. We demand that the Palestinian Authority return the kidnapped soldier so we do not have to take very harsh and painful measures."

Part of the Israeli fear could be the repetition of prisoner taking if there are negotiations:

Israeli officials said today that the seizure of a soldier appeared to be a prime aim of the Palestinian raid, in which two Israeli soldiers were killed, along with two of the attackers. They said that the militant groups, led by Hamas, were following the model of the Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon, and would try to bargain for the release of prisoners...

Israel, while giving some time to diplomacy, felt a deep sense of political urgency and had to consider the damage to its reputation for hard-hitting retaliation if it waited too long. "Israel is prepared to take very serious military action," he said. "The warnings must be taken very seriously. This is not an event to which Israel can turn a blind eye."

While that may be, a blind eye has certainly been turned on the place of necessity and proportionality in restraints on Israel's use of forceful action:

Necessity in Mission Accomplishment. In armed conflict, only that amount of force necessary to defeat the enemy may be employed; any application of force unnecessary to that purpose is prohibited. In short, necessity limits the amount and kind of force permitted to that which is authorized by the law of armed conflict. For example, the unjustified killing of prisoners of war would be illegal under the law of armed conflict; therefore, the concept of necessity would prohibit the use of force for such a purpose. Necessity, or "military necessity," as it is sometimes called, connotes a limitation on the application of military force. It is important to note that military necessity does not mean military expediency. Military expediency may not be used as an excuse to expand the use of force as a matter of necessity in order to sanction violations of protections set forth in the law of armed conflict. Military necessity simply permits commanders to use force to attack lawful military objectives when there is a need to do so. "Lawful military objectives," in turn, are defined as those objectives whose "nature, purpose, or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture, or neutralization at the time offers a definite military advantage." The term "definite military advantage" is often considered the advantage gained by the neutralization of an enemy’s war-fighting and war-sustaining capability. Under this principle, force may lawfully be used, as necessary, against places or things that are being used for a military purpose by an adversary, or against the military personnel of that adversary.

Proportionality in Mission Accomplishment. What constitutes proportional force under the law of armed conflict is very different from what may lawfully be used in self-defense to respond to a hostile act or to a demonstration of hostile intent. The primary difference involves the end state. In war, the goal is to obtain the submission of the adversary through the defeat of the adversary’s military structure or units by overwhelming force. In contrast, self-defense merely allows the use of force to counter the threat posed by an adversary, to ensure the continued safety of one’s own forces, and, where applicable, to deter or modify the future behavior of an adversary (a state or terrorist organization).

The principle of proportionality in the law of armed conflict context also requires that a military response or attack not cause damage to civilian property (collateral damage) or death and injury to civilians (incidental injury) that is excessive in light of the anticipated military advantage. The best decision-making tool available to help the commander determine what constitutes proportionate force for mission accomplishment under the law of armed conflict is the "balancing test." This test weighs the possible harmful effects of the contemplated level of force in terms of incidental injury to civilians and collateral damage to civilian property against the expected military advantage. Incidental injury of civilians or collateral damage to civilian property during an attack on a legitimate military target is lawful if the commanderhaving taken all reasonable precautions to minimize civilian injury and property damage consistent with the accomplishment of the mission and security of the forcecan be judged to have reasonably balanced these unavoidable costs to an enemy’s civilian population and property against the military advantage to be gained.

I fear that recent Israeli actions such as the Gaza withdrawal and national elections, coupled with Israel's traditional sensitivities to any casualty, have left Tel Aviv insensitive to the "ethical requirement to show due regard to the lives of the adversary's military and civilian populace. Military professionals have a:

need and responsibility [to] make civilian leaders clearly aware of the risks (to our forces, and to innocents) and the very real limits of the possible in any use of military force. For the military itself, if a culture is allowed to grow up that makes prevention of friendly casualties a central priority or even a sine qua non expectation, there will be quite serious ethical and political potential risks. Ethically, the drive to protect one’s own forces at all costs can lead military commanders to disregard entirely the ethical requirement to show due regard to the lives of the adversary, both military and civilian.

Personal experience in teaching ethics in warfare to senior military officers indicates that it is extremely difficult in the contemporary environment to get them to grant even the importance of that issue. The military’s cultural expectation that overwhelming force will be used in all circumstances to insure the maximum safety of one’s own forces seriously threatens due regard to considerations of proportionality, military necessity, and discrimination in practice. Such thinking risks overwhelming just war considerations of proportionality and noncombatant immunity in tactical situations of any threat to friendly forces whatsoever.

I am sympathetic to a desire to diminish prisoners - consider the recent sad end to two US captives in Iraq - and protections against it would complicate Israel's posture on the border and other sensitive areas. Conversely, were I Palestinian, I would try to maximize Israeli hostages. That and, I believe, an Israeli fear that it must put Palestinians back in awe of Israeli action, and even have to depose the duly elected Hamas government, has led it to extreme steps that will directly and indirectly prove costly to it:

  • Precipitate a humanitarian crisis by sealing Gaza's borders and bombing the six transformers of the US owned main power plant in Gaza, leaving most of central Gaza City and southern Gaza without power and thereby water. As many as 700,00 (half of Gaza's citizens) could be affected. Backup generators, hospitals included, have only modest reserves. Israeli army statements that the power plant was targeted "in order to disrupt the activities of the terror infrastructure involved directly and indirectly in the abduction of Corporal Shalit" was a gross violation of proportionality and necessity as power, food preparation, air conditioning, water supplies and sanitation are affected. (Limited food, fuel and medical deliveries were doled out on 2 July, long after gasoline supplies had been exhausted
  • Destroyed three bridges near central Gaza and Deir el-Balah, again to impede moving Shalit out of Gaza but severely damaging Gaza's commercial infrastructure.
  • Detention across the West Bank of "87 Palestinians linked to militant groups, including 64 Hamas members [which] included eight cabinet ministers, one-third of the total, including Omar Abdel Razak, the finance minister. The Israelis also detained more than 20 Hamas members of the Palestinian Parliament in raids in Ramallah, Jenin, East Jerusalem and elsewhere."
  • Targeted the empty office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh as an apparent signal that "the Hamas leader could be targeted unless militants release an abducted soldier."

In targeting for influence, the application of force can be seen as having two basic targeting strategies: target-based and effects-based:

  • Target-based approach
    • Prescribes HOW -Reactive -Targeting for destruction
    • TARGETS, Input - Pick target set to meet objectives
    • EFFECTS, Results - See if results from attacking targets meet objectives
    • OUTCOMES, Objectives - If results do not meet objectives pick a new target set and repeat
  • Effects-based approach
    • Describes WHAT -Proactive -Targeting for influence
    • OUTCOMES, Objectives - Start with desired objectives
    • EFFECTS, Results - Plan for effects that will achieve objectives
    • TARGET, Input - Select effect pairings to generate effects desired

I continue to believe that if the Israeli goal is to retrieve a single POW that they are pursuing an overkill target-based strategy, but lean more to an effects-based strategy if the goal is the destruction of the Hamas government and the POW was seen as a plausible trigger:

Israel, the senior [Israeli] officer said, is also using the crisis "to make the Hamas government weaker and even to remove it." That makes more sense to Ali Jarbawi, a professor and dean at Birzeit University here, who turned down an offer from Hamas to join the government as an independent.

Israel wants to continue with its unilateral policies based on the idea that there is no "Palestinian partner," Mr. Jarbawi said. "If you build up your strategy on having no partner, then you have to ensure you don't have one. So when Palestinians tell you that there is about to be a political agreement among the factions, putting their house in order at last, you intervene."

The kidnapped soldier matters, he said. "But he is also a pretext for the Israelis, who also have a score to settle with Hamas." Israel, he says, wants a compliant Palestinian Authority. "Israel wants to show to Hamas that you have to deal with us," he said. Israel also wants to restore, after the embarrassment over the raid and the continuing rain of Qassam rockets, its military dominance over the Palestinians.

I think that Israel has miscalculated both short term and long term Palestinian resilience, is forcing a Palestinian unity much more favorable to Hamas, and even Hezbollah, than to Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, and could well wind up with a reoccupation, a dissolved Palestinian Authority, and responsibility for the "binational state" that Israel was trying to avoid.

Postscript: As of this writing, the lesser two of the three groups that launched the frontier attack, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Islamic Army, are stating that "We will close the file" of the POW unless an impossible 1500 prisoners are released, presumably meaning that Shalit will be executed, the body not returned, and the Israeli public left in limbo as to his end.

Proportionality and Necessity citations:

Necessity, Proportionality and the Use of Force by States
Judith Gardam
Cambridge Studies in International and Comparative Law (No. 35)
ISBN-13: 9780521837521
November 2004
Excerpt

The Proper Role of Professional Military Advice in Contemporary Uses of Force
Martin L. Cook
Parameters, Winter 2002-03, pp. 21-33

The Commander’s Role in Developing Rules of Engagement
Lieutenant Colonel James C. Duncan, U.S. Marine Corps
Naval War College Review, Summer 1999, Vol. LII, No. 3

FORCE APPLICATION PLANNING: A SYSTEMS-AND-EFFECTS-BASED APPROACH
BY JAY M. KREIGHBAUM
SCHOOL OF ADVANCED AIRPOWER STUDIES
AIR UNIVERSITY
JUNE 1998

Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance
By Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade et al
NDU Press Book
December 1996

Timeline items in Gaza and Israel:

Olmert Rejects Ultimatum on Soldier by Palestinians
By IAN FISHER
New York Times
July 4, 2006

In Gaza, Not Just a Soldier -- or Prisoner
Corporal's Capture Emboldens Israel's Bid to Weaken Hamas, Palestinians' Pleas for Detainee Releases
By Scott Wilson
Washington Post
July 4, 2006

Israel Steps Up Raids in Bid to Free Soldier
By IAN FISHER and STEVEN ERLANGER
New York Times
July 3, 2006

Israel Allows Limited Aid to Reach Gaza
By IAN FISHER and STEVEN ERLANGER
New York Times
July 2, 2006

Israel strikes Palestinian PM's office
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Reuters
02 Jul 2006 10:19:05 GMT
More (Adds scene at Haniyeh's office, paragraph 4, Haniyeh comments 17)

Israel Squeezes, and Gazans Adapt to the Vise
By IAN FISHER
New York Times
July 2, 2006

Israel rejects demands, talks on soldier faltering
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Reuters
Jul 1, 2006 3:30pm ET

Israeli strike on Gaza power plant will cost US
By Adam Entous
Reuters
Sat Jul 1, 2006 3:13pm ET

Freeing Israeli troop key to ending crisis: Bush
By Jim Wolf
Reuters
Sat Jul 1, 2006 12:27pm ET

Gaza power cuts endanger patients: doctors
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Reuters
Jul 1, 2006 12:09pm E

Mediators hopeful of freeing Israeli soldier
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Reuters
July 1, 2006

FACTBOX-The crisis over Israel's captured soldier
Reuters
Jul 1, 2006 5:38am ET

FACTBOX-Key facts about Gaza Strip
Reuters
Jun 30, 2006 6:35 AM ET

Hamas Leader Sees Plan to Cripple Government
By GREG MYRE
New York Times
June 30, 2006

Seizures Show New Israel Line Against Hamas
By STEVEN ERLANGER
New York Times
June 30, 2006

Israeli Troops Move Into Gaza; Bridges Are Hit
By IAN FISHER and STEVEN ERLANGER
New York Times
June 27, 2006

Hamas struggles with hostage predicament
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Reuters
Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:09pm ET

Tensions Rise After Israeli Is Kidnapped
By STEVEN ERLANGER
New York Times
Published: June 26, 2006

Militants' Raid on Israel Raises Gaza Tension
By STEVEN ERLANGER
New York Times
June 26, 2006

Israel's Defense Minister Is Faulted by Left and Right
By IAN FISHER
New York Times
June 26, 2006

Israelis Warn of Military Response to Gaza Attack
By STEVEN ERLANGER
New York Times
June 25, 2006

UPDATE 7-Israel rejects demands over kidnapped soldier
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Reuters
(Adds Hamas reaction, Abbas-Haniyeh talks, rockets)
Mon Jun 26, 2006 12:42pm ET
Note: This item was latest update to:

Talks, threats over Israeli soldier held in Gaza
Nidal al-Mughrabi
Reuters/WaPo
June 26, 2006; 2:54 AM
Note:
First Reuters date/time group was Sunday, June 25, 2006 9:32 PM ET

Gordon Housworth



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SWIFT response: taking some dolts off the shelf to fill the banking transaction news hole

  #

Prediction: the arrest of the copeless Miami seven as "home-grown terrorists" was simply an opportunistic red herring to staunch the news hole opening around the SWIFT banking transaction tracking story. My only question is whether this inept band, most of whom were unaware of the implications of their actions, was the only candidate on the shelf or was one that could be prematurely birthed without compromising a legitimate ongoing surveillance of a working group worthy of interdiction.

If one wants US "home-grown terrorists," they have only to look at Timothy McVeigh's bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City (psychological profile here) or the "single-interest" groups such as the ELF (Earth Liberation Front) and ALF (Animal Liberation Front). Just north into Canada, home-grown Muslim terrorists were planning to storm Parliament, behead officials and attack infrastructure. And for the mother of home-grown movements that will continue to pose threats for quite some time, one only has to look to the UK and its spate of Muslim-inspired bombings.

To attempt to shoehorn the pitiful Miami group into this class of home-grown terrorist groups is ludicrous. This group was so inept (oblivious might be the better word to describe some of its members) that they were effectively on life-support from an FBI informant; going nowhere without FBI sustainment certainly made them a candidate for a takedown without impacting a legitimate evidentiary trail.

Black News Weekly irreverently pierced the hype surrounding the hapless seven in False Positive; Stupid Niggers in Miami charged with "Talking While Black":

In what appears to be a false positive in the case of the Blacks arrested on terrorist charges, and if these crazy Niggers are guilty of anything, it’s "Talking While Black" — TWB — and being stupid!... The men were arrested at a warehouse in Miami, in an undercover operation, and they appear to have been setup by an FBI informer who turned Agent Provocateur...

The group, which was infiltrated by an agent posing as an al-Qaeda member, includes two foreigners - one of them a Haitian and five US citizens. If there is a lesson to be learned for the Black community, it's keep your mouth shut and stay out of the mess with the Sand Niggers [Arabs] and these crackers...

[The US] has been trying to get the Black community in this country involved in his war against terror for over five years, but to a one, the Black community has said no to this fool, so now they’re making up shit!

And again in Families deny US terror plot link : the boys just wanted some shoes:

They didn’t have any money! They didn’t have a plan! They didn’t have guns or bombs; in fact they are poor Blacks trying to live a decent life in a racist country. My God — the seven young men can't even spell al-Qaeda — and they didn’t even have shoes!

"Shoes, that’s all the boys wanted, they just wanted some shoes," a friend of the family said." They are not terrorists like everybody is saying, the boys just wanted some shoes." Relatives of seven men arrested over an alleged plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and attack FBI offices have been protesting the group's innocence.

Marlene Phanor, sister of one of the accused [Stanley Grant Phanor], said they have been unfairly dubbed terrorists and that they were victims of US scaremongering… Phanor… denied that her brother had any terror links. "They're labeling him something that he's not… He's... no terrorist; he's in a religious group that's trying to support the community… It's all a show, they're scaring people, there's nothing to be scared at all." According to the charges, the men, five from the US and two from Haiti, hoped to wage a "full ground war" on the US. Officials said the men were foiled at an early stage and posed no danger.

RAND's Bruce Hoffman notes that an essential element of a legitimate threat is the capacity to execute the individual's or group's motives:

"Potentially, ... exaggerating the capabilities of the perpetrators risks in a sense undermining public confidence when the terrorists look like Keystone Cops and we've painted them to be Public Enemy Number One."

Beyond inept, they were invisible. Neither the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Anti-Defamation League, both of whom maintain detailed tracking of US extremist groups, had any knowledge of the Miami group. I wonder if ADL's Mark Pitcavage winked when he said, ''It must be a very new, not very established group.''

FBI's John Pistole implicitly acknowledged the group's capabilities to be nil, to be more "aspirational rather than operational," a phrase that has ricocheted around the globe, I think, making the US look foolish and some of its citizens perhaps less attentive to what could be genuine threats. Worse, the nascent stage of the arrest "robs a potential jury of hard evidence" for a conspiracy charge:

''This is the sort of early strike strategy that will invite possible Bill of Rights violations,'' said Nathan Clark, an attorney for one of the defendants, Rotschild Augustine. "If a group doesn't have the means, then it's less likely the government will have enough evidence to sustain the burden of proof.''

DoJ already has a poor record in post 11 September terrorism related convictions, many of which dissolve quietly out of sight of national news media, but the ties this case has to the SWIFT bank tracking story could very well make DoJ look like the Keystone Cops.

Yet it is this tie, this timeline coincidence to the SWIFT story, along with the knowledge that the Administration and DoJ knew that the Times and others had the story, that those newsgroups were going to run the story and that the administration was going to get another black eye at the end of the week before going into Saturday, the least read news day of the week, that makes me believe that federal authorities were instructed to see what they had as a potential 'shake and bake' domestic terrorism revelation to crowd the SWIFT story and its implications for domestic surveillance (also here) off the page.

I do not think that it has worked. Quite the reverse, actually. Nor has it been the deathblow to national security as many of my Republican colleagues claim. I concur with John Robb's view that it has been:

more of an embarrassment in that it pushes our allies away (they don't like the US snooping on global systems that they rely upon) and harms the image of the US as a safe financial system for global investors (for anyone that is worried that the US can and will target them in the future, and this list is getting longer). Domestically, it is shaping up to be an us vs. them political issue...

I would add, however, knowing how states such as France aggressively pursue terrorist targets, that some of them may have achieved the same endgame either legally or illegally (as the CIA first proposed to do by tapping the SWIFT transfer system). It is just not in the press yet.

Going after the NYTimes
John Robb
John Robb's Weblog
June 28, 2006

After Londonistan
By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
New York Times
June 25, 2006

False Positive; Stupid Niggers in Miami charged with "Talking While Black"
By Sinclere Lee
Black News Weekly
June 2006

Families deny US terror plot link : the boys just wanted some shoes
By Sinclere Lee
Black News Weekly
June 2006

Group denies violent doctrine
An associate of one of the South Florida terrorism suspects said the group practiced a religion that blends Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
BY CHARLES RABIN AND ALEXANDRA ALTER
Knight Ridder
Posted on Sat, Jun. 24, 2006

Rights groups wary of case
The indictment of seven men on charges that they wanted to wage war against America contains little hard evidence beyond their commentary about their plot.
BY MARISA TAYLOR AND LESLEY CLARK
Knight Ridder
Posted on Sat, Jun. 24, 2006

F.B.I. Killed Plot in Talking Stage, a Top Aide Says
By SCOTT SHANE and ANDREA ZARATE
New York Times
June 24, 2006

FBI: Suspects Sought Help From al-Qaida
By CURT ANDERSON
Associated Press
June 24, 2006 - 12:17 p.m. EDT

U.S. Government Monitors International Banking for Counterterrorism
JEFFREY BROWN interview with STUART LEVEY, Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence
NewsHour
23 June, 2006

Terror suspects appear in court
By LARRY LEBOWITZ, LESLEY CLARK AND MARTIN MERZER
Knight Ridder
Posted on Fri, Jun. 23, 2006

US faces uphill fight convicting 7 Miami suspects By Caroline Drees, Security Correspondent
Reuters
Fri Jun 23, 2:57 PM ET

Seven Charged in Alleged Terror Plot on Chicago Tower (Update5)
Robert Schmidt in Washington at rschmidt5@bloomberg.net; Bill Arthur in Washington at barthur@bloomberg.net
Bloomberg
Last Updated: June 23, 2006 13:49 EDT

Miami group charged with Sears Tower bomb plot
By Tom Brown
Reuters AlertNet
23 Jun 2006 23:21:33 GMT
More (Adds sister of suspect denying terrorism link, paragraphs 18-19; edits)

PLOT MORE ASPIRATIONAL THAN OPERATIONAL
Qatar News Agency
23 June, 2006

Miami men planned "war" against U.S.
By Tom Brown
Reuters
Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:05 PM BST

7 Indicted in Sears Tower Plot
By Peter Whoriskey, Dan Eggen and Daniela Deane
Washington Post
June 23, 2006; 12:18 PM

SWIFT statement on compliance policy
Chairman, Deputy Chairman and CEO provide statement to SWIFT community
SWIFT

Published on 23 June 2006

Statement on compliance
SWIFT

Bank Records Secretly Tapped
Administration Began Using Global Database Shortly After 2001 Attacks
By Barton Gellman, Paul Blustein and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post
June 23, 2006

Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and JAMES RISEN
New York Times
June 23, 2006

Canada Saw Plot to Seize Officials
By ANTHONY DePALMA
New York Times
June 7, 2006

Crown vs. Fahim Ahmad, et al.
From FindLaw

Terrorism Allegations Detailed In Canada
Parliament Among Group's Targets, Summary Indicates
By Doug Struck
Washington Post
June 7, 2006

Arrests Shake Image of Harmony
Muslims in Canada Brace for a Backlash After Foiled Bomb Plot
By Doug Struck
Washington Post
June 5, 2006

Gordon Housworth



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Chinese mercantile absorption of Sub-Saharan and East African infrastructure, energy, mining, development, political and military

  #

Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe are actually a stellar recommendation for China among African elites, i.e., no matter how despotically my clan and I behave, China will be my protector and lender of last resort against the international community. No one in the West is able, or willing, to make that bargain. I have the luxury of remembering a prosperous Rhodesia under Ian Smith, his UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) from England, the rise of two black parties - Zanu (Zimbabwean African National Union) under Robert Mugabe and Zapu (Zimbabwe African People's Union) under Joshua Nkomo, the creation of Zimbabwe, the marginalization of Nkomo, Mugabe's period as a post-colonial liberation hero, and the trajectory of decline to what is now a prison camp of a nation. For those readers unaware of the sinkhole that nation has become see Frontline's Zimbabwe: Shadows and Lies. Were I an up and coming clan leader bent on control, I'd pick China.

I have long said that much of US and some EU law is nothing but Scottish Enlightenment extraterritoriality to which developing states grudgingly acquiesced as they had few alternatives, especially after the implosion of the USSR. While it could be said that Western financial and development offers to developing regions such as Africa generally seek to alter, or improve, behavior of African states and their elites, China will allow those entities to pursue their kleptocrat proclivities at a rising pace with lessened transparency and with an oversight known only to the Chinese who will use it to their advantage when circumstances require. China will far exceed the Soviets (who tended to focus on geopolitical support and weapons sales) in terms of the scope of their engagement of the developing world. It will be a world where Transparency International will have no lens.

Recently asked to comment on energy related risks in Sub-Saharan Africa, I suspect that the journalist was looking for more tactical responses. My focus was long, on the very access to a wide variety of African energy and mining stocks:

Q: Broadly, what do you assess are the biggest risks faced International Oil Companies (IOCs) operating in sub-Saharan Africa? Are these risks (e.g., kidnapping, legislative) worsening?

ICG: IOCs are about to face a state presence and interference in their operations that will dwarf France. It is too simple to say that Chinese diplomatic and economic assets are ideally equipped to service the kleptocracies and ruling elites of Africa. China's proclaiming of 2006 as the "Year of Africa" is but a milestone in a decade plus effort to turn African allegiance (or dependence) from EU/US states to China, building relationships that will insure entrenchment of African elites, support their states' international interests while freeing them from tiresome covenants and compliance requirements that would limit their spending and off-books saving behavior. In return, African states will increasingly award exploration and lifting rights, mining and ore processing, and integrated infrastructure business to Chinese firms, and will support Chinese regional and global diplomatic initiatives.

Whereas the US has ignored much of Africa and South America, China is executing a strategic plan to create a mercantile structure that secures energy stocks, raw materials, and crops; delivers export markets for commercial and military production; redirects regional elites to study in China, learn Chinese, and specialize in China studies; and extracts diplomatic obedience in supporting Chinese interests and diplomatic initiatives.

Chinese diplomatic efforts differ greatly from those of the US/EU. Whereas the latter might send a small, high level delegation that meets only at senior level, operating against a background of moral and legal strictures, China is able to now field a broad spectrum of diplomatic and consular agents that meet counterparts at each level of the target country's bureaucracy, building a tiered relationship in depth that offers just the correct amount of assistance necessary to achieve the desired behavior. This startlingly efficient and effective process is buttressed by aid with few strings, debt write-offs, shifts toward infrastructure products - which incidentally use Chinese firms and create a camouflaged local posting for People's Liberation Army (PLA) assets, frequent informal meetings and more formal summits that engage African interests and businessmen, and assumption of the role performed by East Germany and Czechoslovakia in training security services and controlling information and media streams.

China is increasingly being accorded the status of a Great Power able to check US/EU interference in the actions of African states and elites, all without the stain of colonialism, moralizing or hegemonism. China's success in, and penetration of, Sudan, Angola and Zimbabwe should be taken as a pointer to future Chinese actions.

Expect China to focus on energy resources in Nigeria, Sudan, Angola, and Gabon. China will seek and gain long-term agreements that lock out US/EU producers while making China less vulnerable to market spot prices in the event of a supply crisis.

Note that a PLA presence in plainclothes has antecedents. From "Cubazuela" with Russian arms, Chinese economic ties, powered by oil - or perhaps not, conclusion:

Unlike Cuba, Venezuela has a very different set of international economic suitors beyond the former Soviet Union, notably China. I find it interesting that China has made inroads in the Caribbean basin (also here) and Venezuela (also here [seen note below] and here), not to mention other areas of Central and South America, that would have brought strident US diplomatic responses had the Soviet Union been the investor. A significant Chinese presence would likely mimic Chinese PLA efforts in Asia and Brazil: a tidewater port presence that offers partial or complete opaqueness connected by a strassendorf (street city) style of satellite towns connected by new roads to a processing plant at the primary extraction asset, e.g., coal, oil, minerals, timber, etc. Such patterns are of interest wherever they occur.

Ask most any African to compare the 2005 US/EU "Year of Africa" (where the US spent its uptick on Ethiopian food relief and Sudan/Darfur peacekeeping relief) with the Chinese 2006 "Year of Africa" that has Beijing signing investments, construction projects, and trade deals across Africa. Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie's Make Poverty History? Make Migration Easy! is ruthless.

Also useful to aspects of this post:

Q: How are these risks affecting the way firms can conduct business in the countries?

ICG: The emergence of China as a deeply entrenched operator will magnify the following comments regarding France, and ultimately marginalize and supplant French influence. For now, the French remain a force in the region, achieving their commercial ends by wielding extensive bribery and, when that fails, destabilization by its military and security forces. US firms bound by the FCPA can be at a disadvantage in competition against the French without assistance from US political and intelligence assets or extremely sound connections to the current and potential regimes.

The French have no qualms in directing their diplomatic, security, intelligence, and military arms to directly support both state-owned and private companies in contests against both host governments and foreign competitors. In areas where the French hold sway, if diplomatic efforts fail then the military will "assist" amenable local constituencies to create an environment agreeable to France. Unless smaller US operators are superbly placed, they can only benefit by allying themselves with one of the US majors, preferably a super major.

To the maximum degree permissible, any US operator should advantage themselves of contacts with US diplomatic and intelligence arms for any information that would affect their commercial position or gain notice of a private US diplomatic effort to convince the French or other state operator to cease and desist in a particular activity.

The majors have had to balance the advantages of being able to reliably extract high-quality oil at an operating cost of $2 to $5 dollars a barrel against the onshore hassle of coping with sabotage from organized crime, obstruction from local communities who feel bitter and marginalized as oil revenues pass them by, the effects of civil war, poor onshore infrastructure, and fees from the host government for daily use of local services that do exist.

There is currently less risk in being offshore - deeply offshore; the big money strikes in terms of large, deep fields with good recovery and reserves are increasingly in deep water where the host government is intensely dependent on the expertise, technology and capital of the field operator and its partners. Assets in shallow littoral waters will increasingly be prone to excursions from shore. Governments are less prone to interfere with the super majors. For US IOCs, be offshore in partnership with at least one other major US player, or failing that, offshore in partnership with at least one major non-US player that has similar interests and risk assessments. Areas where the French have an overwhelming presence carry added risk. That caution will increasingly apply to areas where the Chinese have a commanding presence.

Al Qaeda has a strong presence in West Africa and a presence in Nigeria, but has been heretofore content with revenue generation by smuggling, money laundering and purchase and resale of blood diamonds.

Q: In particular what special challenges does Nigeria, Chad/Sudan and Angola pose to IOCs?

ICG: The most immediate point of collision between the US and China are the energy states of the Gulf of Guinea, notably Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon, where both the US and China draw a fifth of their current supplies.

Sudan is well on its way to becoming a Chinese supplier, which will put increasing pressure on Chad.

Angola's proclivities towards opaque dealings will grow as Chinese cooperation increases.

China will seek and gain long-term agreements that lock out US/EU producers while making China less vulnerable to market spot prices in the event of a supply crisis.

Q: Is Angola showing any signs of being more transparent in its dealings?

ICG: We do not expect Angola to increase transparency. Increasing Chinese support is expected to reduce transparency, reinforce the ruling elite, and keep royalties flowing to the capital.

Q: Are IOC/contractor employees in Nigeria under any special risks?

ICG: IOC/contractor employees will increasingly be prone to kidnapping on onshore and near-shore assets as kidnappers use the captives, and subsequent production interruption, as a bargaining chip to force greater royalty sharing from the capital.

Q: Do IOCs have to be concerned that the nationalization policy of energy assets in south America may take root in parts of southern Africa?

ICG: Expropriation at the state level has ebbed for the foreseeable future as Marxist/Socialist governments yielded to more commercially minded administrations that are rapidly becoming sensitive to international lending institutions and the capital markets. Our near to midterm concern is what we call the Balouchi effect in which there is de facto expropriation in which the host government then in power faces unrest that brings bands of thugs who halt operations, makes life untenable for the operating firm, forces evacuation, and then absorbs the abandoned assets, becoming in effect, a new local government in power that is unresponsive in the short term to external influence. While there will be interruptions, possibly some asset damage, we believe the primary effect will be reduced monies to the legal owners rather than reassignment to new operators. Oil, gas, and gaseous liquids sectors in Nigeria are susceptible.

Other comments:

The economic and political-legal factors affecting investment are consistent across West Africa, i.e., an extended family oligopoly or elite that can edge towards kleptocracy and is bent on enrichment. Extensive distribution of financial largess within the family is assumed as a cultural norm. To not do so is seen as a mark of disrespect, even selfishness and mismanagement, within the clan.

Behind-the-scenes payments are often paid to increase chances of obtaining a permit, and in the US environment these take the form of signing bonuses. These payments vary widely by country and are simply part of an ongoing relationship.

Foreign companies are often expected to pay a substantial non-recoverable signature bonus in order to secure rights to a particular field. As these payments are not tax deductible, their existence guarantees that only major multinationals are able to fund operations in the major states of West Africa -- Angola and Nigeria -- unless their bloc is extraordinarily remunerative.

On the bright side, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is committed to bringing coherence to best practices in economic development efforts across the globe that rise from mining, oil and gas, topping off good programs where they find them.

Soon: Coltan extraction as a metaphor of African exploitation by internal and external parties

Zimbabwe: Shadows and Lies
Alexis Bloom, REPORTER/PRODUCER; William A. Anderson, David Ritsher & Jeffrey Friedman, EDITORS
FRONTLINE/World
AIRS ON PBS June 27, 2006

China and Saudi Arabia: interesting SPR team up?
China may tap Saudis to fill its oil reserve, a move likely to influence prices
Myra Saefong's Commodities Corner
By
Myra P. Saefong, MarketWatch
Last Update: 12:04 PM ET Jun 23, 2006

Mercantilism with Chinese Characteristics
China Confidential
June 23, 2006

China's Portuguese Connection
China grooms a strategic relationship with the Community of Portuguese Language Countries
Loro Horta & Ian Storey
YaleGlobal, 22 June 2006

China Easing Its Stance On Taiwan
Tolerance Grows For Status Quo
By Edward Cody
Washington Post
June 15, 2006

In Africa, China Trade Brings Growth, Unease
Asian Giant's Appetite for Raw Materials, Markets Has Some Questioning Its Impact on Continent
By Craig Timberg
Washington Post
June 13, 2006

China's Impact On Africa
Posted by Dan Harris
China Law Blog
June 10, 2006 at 04:05 PM

China Impacts Developing World
Chinese entrepreneurs look to Africa for new markets
Bright B. Simons (baronsimon)
Published 2006-06-10 21:00 (KST)

China's Africa Strategy
By Joshua Eisenman and Joshua Kurlantzick
Current History 5/06
May 11, 2006, 09:33
PDF
Fee archive

The Roots of African Corruption
Stephen Ellis
CURRENT HISTORY, May 2006, pp 203
Cache of PDF
Fee PDF

With China Calling, Is It Time to Say Goodbye to US And Europe?
Mark Sorbara
TMCnet
April 13, 2006

Western concern at China's growing involvement in Africa
By Brian Smith
World Socialist Web Site
10 April 2006
NOTE: WSWS texts can be loopy. This is sound.

Monitoring China's meddling
By Tom Donnelly
Armed Forces Journal
March 2006

China's growing trade with Africa indicative of Sino-Western energy conflicts
By Brian Smith
World Socialist Web Site
24 January 2006
NOTE: Also sound

Full text: China's African Policy
China View
www.chinaview.cn 2006-01-12 11:45:28

China's Costly Quest for Energy Control
By JOSEPH KAHN
New York Times
June 27, 2005

Oil Fuels Beijing's New Power Game
China's search for secure energy sources and supply routes is leading to significant strategic adjustments
Ziad Haider
YaleGlobal
11 March 2005

China's success could misguide region's leaders
Andres Oppenheimer
THE OPPENHEIMER REPORT
Miami Herald
Posted on Sun, Feb. 27, 2005

A Continent for the Taking : The Tragedy and Hope of Africa
by Howard W. French
Knopf, ISBN: 0375414614
April 20, 2004
Nice set of commentary and reviews that can stand on their own

Gordon Housworth



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Necessary pandemic milestone: first documented H5N1 human to human transmission

  #

Indonesia has first documented H5N1 human to human transmission. While there is identifiable genetic mutation between host and victim, it is not at this time significantly adapted to human infection:

The family members in the cluster had a banquet in late April, when the vegetable merchant was already ill and coughing heavily. Some spent the night in the same small room with her. Some members also cared for their relatives when they were sick… The first five family members to fall ill had identical strains of H5N1, one that is common in animals in Indonesia. But the virus mutated slightly in the sixth victim, the 10-year-old boy, and he apparently passed the mutated virus to his father. The presence of that mutation allowed the lab to confirm the route of transmission.

Not yet a pandemic, but another signpost on the road towards its possibility.

The cross-reactive immunity (protection that a virus vaccine confers against the original virus as well as variants of the original virus) against current H5N1 recently announced by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital may be none too soon. Not yet tested in humans, this clinical trial in ferrets is a step towards the use of a human "stockpiled vaccine until a vaccine against the specific variant causing the outbreak is developed… So our success with ferrets is extremely promising news":

Scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have announced that a vaccine they developed a few years ago against one antigenic variant of the avian influenza virus H5N1 may protect humans against future variants of the virus. Vaccines based on this model might therefore be suitable for stockpiling for use during a pandemic (worldwide epidemic) until a new vaccine could be developed specifically against the variant causing the outbreak, the researchers said. An antigen is a molecule that stimulates production of antibodies by the immune system…

The researchers showed that the vaccine completely protected ferrets from a lethal nasal infection against not only the original virus the vaccine was made to thwart, but also against a newer variant that has already proved fatal to humans. The ferrets experienced a more significant reduction of virus multiplication than otherwise would have occurred, the researchers reported. Moreover, the infections failed to spread out of the upper respiratory tract to the lungs or brain.

"These findings are especially significant because ferrets are known to be an excellent and accurate model of influenza infection and immune response in humans," said Elena Govorkova, Ph.D., a staff scientist in the Department of Infectious Diseases at St. Jude. "Restricting the infection to the upper respiratory tract is important since in humans the virus has been isolated from specimens taken from the cerebrospinal fluid, feces, throat and blood serum. Therefore, limiting the spread of virus in an infected human is crucial to saving that person’s life." Govorkova is the lead author of the JID paper and led the research team conducting the study.

Successful cross-reactive immunity for H5N1 would be a major milestone in H5N1 response. For those wishing to understand the issue, I suggest Second WHO meeting on the development of influenza vaccines that induce broad spectrum and long-lasting immune responses and Modeling Influenza Epidemics and Related Issues (text, not the equations). Other related items in the citation list below.

Indonesia is already one of the "have nots" in terms of lacking a prophylactic tripwire treatment for an H5N1 pandemic:

Richer countries facing little immediate avian-flu danger are stockpiling vast amounts of the drug needed to fight the current outbreak and possibly forestall the pandemic. Asian nations at the epicenter of the threat are seriously short of the drug. It is a familiar problem in global health care. Life-saving drugs for infectious diseases that also pose world-wide threats -- AIDS, tuberculosis, influenza -- rarely reach poorer countries where they are often needed most. The flu drug, known as Tamiflu, has shown strong results in lab tests…

A worried WHO [World Health Organization] has urged countries to prepare for the threat of a pandemic partly by stocking up on Tamiflu… Scientists believe that if Tamiflu is quickly supplied at the site of an initial pandemic outbreak, it could help to contain the bug for as long as six months or even eliminate it. Those six months are exactly what researchers would need to develop a vaccine based on the pandemic strain that emerges.

The WHO recommends that countries in the area hit by avian flu stockpile enough Tamiflu to cover 25 percent of their populations. But Asian nations have lagged behind others in ordering the drug because of its relatively high cost, about $3.90, or 3 euros, a capsule…

Continuing this imbalance, the "massive effort" to "upgrade veterinary systems, launch vaccination drives and help educate people about hygienic ways to raise animals" agreed to by developed countries in January 2006 has fallen short again, with only $286 million has been paid against pledges of near $1.9 billion:

Since that meeting in January, the H5N1 avian influenza virus has spread out of Asia, across Europe and into Africa. It has not always affected commercial poultry but has killed or forced the culling of tens of millions of more birds. In January, the virus had killed 79 people, all of them in Asia. Now it has infected at least 224 people in 10 countries, and killed 127 of them, according to the World Health Organization. Experts fear it could mutate at any time into a strain that could pass easily from one person to another, sparking a pandemic that would travel around the globe in weeks or months.

Businesses have little choice but to revisit their contingency plans as the implications for inaction and lack of preparation are astounding:

Current models, based on seasonal influenza and the three 20th-century flu pandemics, suggest that a new and highly contagious virus strain would spread across the United States in about five weeks. It would affect communities for six to eight weeks before receding. There would probably be at least two waves, separated by months.

At least a third of the population is likely to become ill in each wave, with peak absenteeism somewhat higher, about 40 percent of the workforce. Depending on the strain's virulence, 900,000 to 10 million people might be hospitalized, and 200,000 to 2 million might die.

Given this scenario, the consultants say, companies should expect that a pandemic will kill some employees, temporarily cripple workforces, sow confusion and fear, and force people to make harrowing decisions between allegiances to work or family. It would make communication difficult, threaten supply chains, and probably interrupt production of goods and delivery of services.

See:

We are now at level 3 on the escalation hierarchy:

  1. Inter-pandemic phase: Low risk of human cases
  2. New virus in animals, no human cases: Higher risk of human cases
  3. Pandemic alert, New virus causes human cases: No or very limited human-to-human transmission
  4. Pandemic alert, New virus causes human cases: Evidence of increased human-to-human transmission
  5. Pandemic alert, New virus causes human cases: Evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission
  6. Pandemic, Efficient and sustained human-to-human transmission

The lessons of SARS have been conveniently forgotten by most; we created a hierarchy of supply chain and services collapse for avian flu based upon our SARS event monitoring. See:

Yet we remain on the cusp of a "global blizzard of potentially 12 to 18 months' duration." Here is testimony by Michael Osterholm, Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy:

I firmly believe that based on our past experiences with outbreaks such as SARS and even the post-9/11 anthrax attack, that if an influenza pandemic began today, borders will close, the global economy will shut down, pharmaceutical supplies, including drugs and very important childhood vaccines will be in extreme short supply, healthcare systems will be overwhelmed and panic will reign. Access to pandemic influenza vaccines and effective antiviral drug treatments will be limited for the entire world for years to come because of our lack of modern technology vaccines and a grossly inadequate worldwide production capability. To minimize the fallout of a pandemic during this time, the industrialized world must create a detailed response strategy far beyond just enhancing influenza vaccines and treatment drugs, and one that involves both the public and private sectors. In addition, we can no longer assume that business continuity plans for both our multinational companies and small businesses, largely based on a concept of a regional event of a limited duration, will approximate the actual impact and consequence of an influenza pandemic. Rather, I believe an influenza pandemic will be like a 12 to 18 month global blizzard that will ultimately change the world as we know it today. This will occur even if we experience a milder worldwide pandemic of millions of deaths rather than many millions of deaths.

Let's do hope that the research on cross-reactive immunity bears fruit in human tests and that the resulting vaccine can be reasonably mass produced. Alternatives beyond that of chance are few. As Deming was fond of saying, "It is not necessary to change. Survival is optional."

Bird Flu Passed From Son to Father, W.H.O. Says
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL
New York Times
June 23, 2006

H5N1 Vaccine Could Be Basis For Life-saving Stockpile Against Possible Bird Flu Outbreak
Science Daily
Source: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Posted: June 20, 2006

H5N1 Avian Influenza
Overview, Prevention and Mitigation, Business Responses
Overseas Security Advisory Council (SAC)
16 June, 2006

Less than $300 mln spent on bird flu - World Bank
By Lesley Wroughton and Maggie Fox
Reuters AlertNet
04 Jun 2006 14:11:00 GMT

Rich Countries Hoard Flu Drug, Poor Run Short
World Bank Press Review [devnews@worldbank.org]
Press Review for May 18 2005

Business Plan for a Pandemic?
Most Firms Haven't Prepared for Possibility Of a Global Outbreak
By David Brown
Washington Post
May 2, 2006

Is Business Ready for a Flu Pandemic?
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL and KEITH BRADSHER
New York Times
March 16, 2006

Avian Flu: Addressing the Global Threat
Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH
Director, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
Associate Director, DHS National Center for Food Protection and Defense
Professor, School of Public Health
Testimony Before the House Committee On International Relations
December 7, 2005

Second WHO meeting on the development of influenza vaccines that induce broad spectrum and long-lasting immune responses
Initiative for Vaccine Research (IVR)
WHO HQ Geneva
6-7 December 2005

Modeling Influenza Epidemics and Related Issues
Carlos Castillo-Chavez et al
Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute (MTBI)
Arizona State University

Variola Virus and Other Orthopoxviruses
SMALLPOX AND ITS CONTROL
Chapter 2

Mathematical Studies of Parasitic Infection and Immunity
Roy M. Anderson
Science, Vol 264
24 June, 1994

Gordon Housworth



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