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Al-Muqrin is dead, long live al-Oufi

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The death of the al Qaeda leader in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin, may not be a cause for joy as his successor, Saleh Mohammad al-Oufi, appears to be a much more imposing figure.  It would appear that most of the reports of al-Oufi's appointment spring from an AFP report that was reported in various degrees as widely as Al Jazeera and the Muslim American Society (MAS)

Al-Oufi is said to be both more dangerous and more effective than al-Muqrin as he:

  • Hails from the security ranks, serving as a police officer and prison guard
  • Left the Kingdom to join terrorist networks in Afghanistan and Bosnia (where he was wounded) returning to the Kingdom in 1995
  • Administered secret al Qaeda camps in Saudi Arabia, with responsibility "for training, recruitment, and logistics"
  • Is a Hijazi from the holy city of Medina capable of recruiting "from the most economically depressed areas of Saudi Arabia"
  • Is older than Muqrin, and has spent more time in the Kingdom

With the stability of the House of Saud still unknown, threats to Saudi oil production continuing, unabated attacks on expatriate staff, and Egypt potentially overturning its western, ant-Islamist stance should Mubarek die, al-Oufi may yet play a leading role in further mischief in the Arabian Shield.

Former Police Officer in Charge of Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia
Date Posted: Monday, June 21, 2004
Muslim American Society (MAS)

Al-Qaeda replaces Saudi Arabia chief
NEW TERROR: The death of Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin after a US hostage's beheading has prompted a more dangerous man to take up local leadership of the terror organization
AFP , RIYADH
Tuesday, Jun 22, 2004,Page 6

Gordon Housworth



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Predict rough justice ahead from Iraqi to Iraqi

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As I review the press coverage of the end of the American Raj, I was struck by one, Quiet handover, secret ceremony, which spoke to the Iraqi's desire to deal with its insurgents and the restoration of order.  This section from a Shiite who spent three years in Abu Ghraib (under Hussein) indicates rough justice ahead, far rougher than US forces meted out and of a scale that would bring howls of injustice from Arabs were it to come from US hands:

""We're in the middle of a cultural and moral revolution," says schoolteacher Munir al-Khafaji, sitting in a cafe in Baghdad's largely Shiite Karrada neighborhood. He spent three years in Abu Ghraib prison for dissident activity under Hussein. "American soldiers can't tell friends from enemies here. We can. So I'm hoping we're going to be safer. But a lot of domestic political circumstances need to be settled - real change will come after elections."

Mr. Khafaji's circle of friends, most in ankle-length dishdasha shirts, said their principal criticism of the US occupation was that the US hasn't been brutal enough with insurgents and criminals. They predicted that Allawi will get tough. "These murderers are supposed to have their throats slit and be thrown into the river,'' says Kassem Fadel Hassan, the cafe owner. "Hopefully, we'll start to see that."

That's a popular sentiment inside a country increasingly frustrated that Hussein, a deeply reviled figure here, has been removed - but replaced by a power vacuum in which more Iraqis now fear for the safety of their families.

Allawi has pledged to take a hard line against insurgents, and his aides say they'll bring in old Iraqi intelligence and military officials who they expect will be more effective at unraveling insurgent networks than the US military."

One then wonders what justice awaits Hussein himself as he passes from an American POW to Iraqi custody. Iraq Takes Legal Custody of Hussein Wednesday indicates that he will be accorded traditional US legal protections such "the right to counsel and the right to remain silent," things all quite new, and possibly tiresomely lengthy, to Iraqis.

I wonder how that deliberate process will track with the desire for retribution from so many Iraqis who suffered under his regime, not to mention the efforts of Feydayeen and insurgents to free him from the US physical custody that underpins the Iraqi "legal custody."

Quiet handover, secret ceremony
By Dan Murphy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the June 29, 2004 edition

Iraq Takes Legal Custody of Hussein Wednesday
Prime Minister Allawi: Deposed Ruler to Be Charged on Thursday
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Fred Barbash
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 29, 2004; 9:57 AM

Gordon Housworth



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Exceeding $100 USD a barrel in a stroke: attack Ghawar, Abqaiq, and Safaniya

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In researching means of threat definition for another project, I returned to Global Guerrillas as a segway into network analysis -- which works just as well for, say, analyzing energy and petroleum networks as it does for information or social networks. What caught my eye were three threads; one, how to get to $160 a barrel of oil in a hurry, two, what to attack, and three , how to take down the supporting networks (such as power) that lead to taking down the petroleum network itself.

Two years ago I was telling some colleagues that it was reasonable to take down the House of Saud, but I was assured that all was secure.  Speaking now to other partners who have operatives in the Kingdom, it would appear that the situation is extraordinary tender, given al Qaeda's presence in the Kingdom and its penetration of the security services.

Design Flaws: Methods Of Attacking Critical Infrastructure highlights the critical path process of exploiting the designers' original assumptions in order to create major network disruptions which then degrade the network to the point that the network becomes the ally of the attacker by damaging itself, e.g., overloads, unacceptable operating costs, etc. (The point is made that T. E. Lawrence's attack on the Turkish rail system followed this approach.)

The general considerations follow our own admonitions of the impossibility of defending everything (and so defend nothing) and that all systems have assumptions (many of which are unspoken or now forgotten):

  • Economic optimization (efficiency over safety)
  • Limited resources to defend against all potential threats
  • Security focuses on historical scenario spinning and so looks backwards, usually defensively and not offensively

The more detailed assumptions offer a roll-up strategy to the attacker. (We like to say that, "The answer is unimportant. If the assumptions change, the answers will change [and there are always a spectrum of answers according to time, money, and leverage]. Instead of defining assumptions, and taking a targeted proactive analysis, clients too often ask for static checklists which are but still frames from a motion picture.")

Target: Ghawar identifies the hierarchical nodes of Saudi oil production, King ('supergiant'), Queens ('giants'), and Lords ('large'), a network that mimics other large economic networks:

  • Small number of nodes
  • Hub concentration
  • Vulnerability

Ghawar is so large that it has "zonal concentrations," producing some 2/3 of Saudi production and over 6% of global production: over 5 million barrels a day. A 'moderately' successful attack on Ghawar was said to raise the price of oil to $75 a barrel, slowing "global economic growth by 2.5%," whereas a 'successful' attack on Ghawar and Basra would hit $160 a barrel, slowing global economic growth by 4.55%.

Scenario: The Disruption of Saudi Arabia outlines what I agree is an achievable economic damage of >1 trillion USD for a million or less in expenses:

"The three main cells were given different areas of coverage: oil, electricity, and water. The cells mapped the infrastructures, established the position and response times of emergency forces, and the viability of entrance/exit routes. The subsequent network analysis done by a central planning group determined the most vulnerable sections of the infrastructures with the greatest potential for cascading system failure. The planning group followed a golden rule of global guerrilla warfare: use the network as your weapon. The final list of potential targets were sent back to the operational cells for final target selection, additional intelligence collection, operational planning, and execution."

It's worth reading the attack in full, but it starts with electricity attacks on the Ghazlan power complex (> 40% of eastern province power) followed by the al Fahdli high voltage substation. Water attacks then commence on a major seawater pipeline feeding Ghawar's water injection systems that maintain positive pressure. Finally the oil attacks focus on the #5 Pumping Station of the Petroline. Note that 'oil' is the 'last' to be attacked.

The impact starts with "reduced Saudi oil production by 1/3 over the first year of action (a loss of over 3 m barrels a day)" and goes downhill from there. Without solid counter-surveillance against an identified threat profile, proactive and not "feel good" passive, such attacks have a very reasonable chance of success. A recommended read to dispense with your complacency.

Design Flaws: Methods Of Attacking Critical Infrastructure, 17 May, 2004
Target: Ghawar, 14 May, 2004
Scenario: The Disruption of Saudi Arabia, 19 June, 2004
John Robb
Global Guerrillas

Gordon Housworth



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Continued Chechen prowess in the face of superior Russian numbers

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The 21 June attack against the capital of Russian Ingushetia, Nazran, adjacent to Chechnya, bore the hallmarks of superb tactics, reconnaissance, and execution common to Muslim Chechen fighters, although the Russians believe the attack to have been a mix of Chechen and Wahhabi jihadists. In any case, it was superb tactics against an ostensibly larger but ill-prepared force.

Separatist Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov had vowed in an RFE interview that rebels would shift their tactics against Russian security services. "Ingushetia may have been chosen because of its weak defenses and taxed capabilities. The province has hosted tens of thousands of Chechen refugees for years. Ingushetia's authoritarian leader, a Kremlin loyalist, forced the last refugee camp to close recently - though many have refused to return."

Oksana Antonenko, of the Russia and Eurasia program at IISS London (International Institute of Strategic Studies) questioned the Chechens' ability to sustain these tactics, noting that "the Russians have been quite successful in destroying large-scale military formations, so what is now left of the resistance of the rebels is a relatively small group;" unnamed Russian officials said that "just 500 rebels remain in thick mountain forests of southern Chechnya along the border with Georgia;" and in May 2004, Interfax news "quoted a regional Russian military chief asserting that rebels "are in fact completely disorganized" and on the run in groups of two or three.""

Somehow, about 200 of them got together for a superbly planned attack.  I think that, at least in public, everyone is underrating the Chechens. The coordinated, cross-border attacks into Ingushetia on 21 June temporarily took operational control of Russian territory by:

  • Simultaneous infiltration of multiple cities by night
  • Overwhelming fire and maneuver against rural police posts and barracks, achieving total surprise
  • Assumed command of a "network of road checkpoints and traffic circles," dressed as Russian and Ingush police
  • Summary execution of all police, military, and judiciary personnel that presented their ID at those checkpoints
  • Exfiltration before daylight

The Chechens killed 97, some two-thirds of those military and police, with an added 105 wounded.

A word about the Chechens as part of mountain border tribes: tribes in such harsh geography at a transit point between jurisdictions often resort to smuggling as livelihood. (The Basque corridor across the Pyrenees from northern Spain and southwestern France is another example.) Once the smuggling corridor is open, the value per kilo of the products that transit the corridor rises, which in the case of the Chechens has been become drugs, weapons, and specialized illegal aliens. Chechens have long had a criminal corridor across the Georgian border up to Moscow. Atop this, the Chechen culture has prized a warrior mentality and prowess that towers above those around them. A short but useful view of Chechen history and demography, admittedly hagiographic in its preface, is Who are the Chechen? I would also point the reader to the Council on Foreign Relations' Chechnya-based Terrorists.

For a decade prior to 11 September, the US saw fit to hammer the Russian Federation with its 'human rights violations against the Chechens, ignoring Chechen criminal history,  The US view largely reversed after the Manhattan and Washington attack, and became more pointed as Chechen soldiers move west in Bosnia, north into Russia, and south and east into the Stans and now likely Iraq.

Even under fierce, massed attacks by Russian troops and artillery -- where admittedly the early Russian troops were poorly trained and miserably and brutally officered -- the Chechens regrouped and counterattacked at high value weak points, even as the Chechen capital, Grozny, was reduced to a war zone worthy of Stalingrad. This is a group that had the skill and forethought to plant explosives in advance in a VIP seating area of Grozny's Dynamo stadium for a ceremony commemorating Soviet victory in World War II, killing the pro-Moscow Chechen President, Akhmad Kadyrov, and the commander of Russian troops in Chechnya, Gen Valery Baranov. This is the group that infiltrated Khankala, Russia's main military headquarters in the North Caucasus, in order to down a Russian MI-26 heavy-lift troop helicopter executing a 'safe descent' procedure that presumed no hostile forces underneath its tight downward columnar spiral. More than a hundred died when this huge helicopter crashed, and in a mine field at that.

Chechens earlier attacked Samara, a 'critical path' city in the Russian energy system that ships oil to Novorossiysk and Druzhba, on 4 June. The upshot was a near interruption of 3 million barrels of oil that served Central and Eastern Europe.  Again the attack was elegantly simple: a kilo of plastic explosives placed next to existing gas cylinders. In a stroke, the Chechens could have put a severe strain on global oil supplies.

Chechnya and its Muslim fighters continue to demonstrate an enormous capacity to operate outside their territory and, within reason, to widely export their combatants.  To the degree that al Qaeda can co-opt Chechen fighters to their cause, they will measurably improve al Qaeda's lethality and scope of operations.

Police in Ingushetia Tell of Rebel Assailants' Skill
By C. J. CHIVERS
New York Times
June 26, 2004

Gordon Housworth



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Prison populations: a flash mob to be reckoned with

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In Vengeful flash mobs, I had spoken of flash mobs and smart mobs, how originally innocuous flash mobs can turn deadly and how smart mobs could well challenge, even overpower, the C3 (command, control, and communication) capacities of opposing police and peacekeepers, or create an effective, flat P2P comm network for directing all manner of actions.

Just as I had mentioned my favorite flash mob example, a 2002 Nigerian Muslim rampage over impiety to the prophet Muhammad over an imported Miss World beauty pageant during Ramadan, the Texas Department of Corrections offered another: prison inmates using smuggled cellphones. Texas prison electronic surveillance found, for example, that members of a violent group, the Texas Syndicate, were using cellphones from within the prison to manage their criminal affairs on the outside. Other US inmate cellphone pastimes are purchasing drugs, planning escapes, and coercing witnesses. Cellphones are provided by corrupt guards and service workers due to their current size, weight, and metal content.

I was reminded that a major orchestrated flash mob riot of prison inmates using cellphones occurred in 2001 across 29 prisons in Brazil "in which 15 people were killed and 8,000 guards and relatives visiting the prisons were held hostage":

"The uprising was planned by a drug-trafficking ring inside Carandiru called First Capital Commando, and timed to take advantage of visiting hours. Sunday conjugal visits were established after the 1992 riots as a distraction for convicts, who each receive at least 30 minutes of private time in their cramped cells.

Inmates used cellphones smuggled in with the help of corrupt guards to co-ordinate the state-wide revolt. The First Capital Commando leaders were angry 10 gang members had been transferred on Friday from Carandiru to prisons in other states.

"This riot proves they're a very powerful organization," a local television reporter said. "They were flexing their muscles. The Governor of the state has now said he will negotiate directly with the gang members.""

It is said that technology has no loyalty and is open to any hand. As technology becomes smaller, wearable, and concealable, more capacity will fall to a wider number of groups. Cellphones and their chargers are being smuggled into prisons now. As they miniaturize, they will be harder to detect and smuggling can better bypass the guard conduit. The prison smart mob is closer that we think: KeyComputing is selling a highlighter-sized miniature personal server, Xkey, for the pockets of mobile workers. Think of what prisoners could smuggle in and out, or organize with such a device. Xkey has a USB port so it could be connected to a phone.

First Capital Commando sound much like the Texas Syndicate. Interestingly, the Texas Syndicate rivals are the Aryan Brotherhood, La Nuestra Familia, Mexican Mafia, Mexikanemi, and the Mandingo Warriors. Think of that collective lot as a group of smart mobs. Prison guards will be outclassed.

Inmates Use Smuggled Cellphones to Maintain a Foot on the Outside
By FOX BUTTERFIELD
New York Times
June 21, 2004

Hostages held in Brazilian prison refuse to leave
Fears for captors: Troops retake control of 29 prisons after synchronized riots
Marina Jiménez, National Post, with files from news services
February 20, 2001

Gordon Housworth



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Vengeful flash mobs: rural third world nationals demonstrate facile use of technology

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C3 (command, control, and communication) is becoming increasing inexpensive to the point that cell phones, pagers, and PDAs can produce human events of amazing speed. What came to be called a flash mob was a harmless creation in the US:

  • Flash mob: A group of people who are organized via various mass communications to appear from out of nowhere to come together at a specified place and time, to perform predetermined (usually whimsical) actions for a brief period of time, and then quickly disperse.

As we will see below, the harmless flash mob can turn deadly when passions are inflamed. As tools become more pervasive, the flash mob will mutate into a smart mob and then police, constabularies, peace keeping, and occupation forces will have their hands full in dealing with an opponent that likely has faster, flatter communications than they do:

  • Smart mob: "Mobile communication devices, peer to peer methods, and a computation-pervaded environment are making it possible for groups of people to organize collective actions on a scale never before possible."

And if that peace keeping or occupation force is from another culture where an unintentional slight can launch an action of which the peace keeper is unaware of the cause and thus deprived of a means to defuse, things will spiral quickly out of control.

My favorite example to date was the Nigerian flash mob that set out to kill a newspaper journalist -- and in this case the creators of the misstep were local nationals, just not of the same religion. In retrospect, it sounds daft: The wife of the president wants to improve tourism and so imports a Miss World beauty pageant to Lagos during Ramadan.

The trigger was a journalist's comment that, "Muslims thought it was immoral to bring ninety-two women to Nigeria and ask them to revel in vanity. When will Muhammad think? In all honesty, he would have chosen a wife from one of them."

Solidarity text messages began to fly on GSM phones to alert the nation's Muslims to the blasphemy. The journalist went into hiding under a death sentence, the paper's bureau chief escaped being hacked to death by machetes by minutes, the paper's offices were set ablaze, and an embargo was placed on the paper's circulation in northern Muslim states.

As the original article has scrolled into archive:

"Even before the staging of its grand finale, which has now been shifted to December 7, a seemingly sponsored publication on the licentious beauty parade has sparked off a violent protest in the country.

Irked by the publication of a provocative cover story titled "Miss World: The World on their feet," which cast aspersions on the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in ThisDay newspaper of Saturday November 16, Muslims came out en masse at the Kaduna State branch office of the newspaper, just as a fatwa (religious decree) has been passed for the beheading of the writer of the offensive story as stated in an anonymous letter signed by one Sheikh Abdulkareem Abdullahi and sent to Weekly Trust.

The fatwa states that: "Isioma Daniel has committed a blasphemy against our noble prophet (SAW). Her offence is no less severe than that of Salman Rushdie who wrote the Satanic Verses to defame our prophet (SAW). Therefore, any Muslim who finds her should behead her for the sake of Allah and His rasul (SAW)."

There is much to be learned from this sad story:

(1) Third world nationals can demonstrate a facile use of technology.

(2) A fatwa for execution can be passed at the drop of a hat, even in a non-majority Muslim country, in this case calling for the beheading of the female writer of the offending story.

(3) Local Muslims lamented the lack of a sharia governed state such that the fatwa could be carried out with dispatch. Nigerian politics still resonates from this outcome.

(4) Sensitivity training is in order for those dealing with Muslims. Holding a "wiggle and giggle" event during Ramadan is not ideal, even if the idea came from the president's wife, the contestants were imported, and the principal consumers were outside the nation.

(5) Western sensibilities can get us into severe trouble with Muslims such that we can ignite a religious war in what we thought was a modest tactical situation. That does not mean that one cannot fight but rather one must be able to bring much more force to bear if the situation requires it.

(6) Is it any wonder that the Islamic governments with which we are now dealing on terrorist matters, have to tiptoe around the opinions of their nationals and so move "slowly" on issues of paramount interest to the US and the West? The article is worth a read to drive home the point of the sensitive temperaments on the street in many of the Islamic states that are our putative allies.

(7) Nigeria lifts some of the finest (lightest and easiest to refine) crude oil about. A more contentious issue with more lasting effect could impact what has increasingly been relied upon by the US as a stable source.

When I think of the missteps we have occasioned in Iraq, I marvel that we escaped more violent flash mob events there.

As a postscript, the paper's apology had no effect:

"[E]minent Islamic scholars are insisting that the writer of the offensive story cannot jump death sentence for blasphemy. Malam Rufa'i Adamu, the administrative secretary of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigeria (NSCIA) who spoke in his capacity as a concerned Muslim told Weekly Trust that though the ordinary Muslim may be helpless as Nigeria is not a sharia state, under normal circumstances, the culprit should die. "You cannot escape death no matter the interpretation one may adopt. Of course, one is free to seek to repent, which scholars said may be accepted. But the truth is that death is the final punishment, he said."

The Miss World Pageant was moved to London.

Fury Trails Miss World Pageant
Weekly Trust (Kaduna)
NEWS
By AbdulFatah Olajide & Aliyu Askira in Kaduna
Lagos & Kaduna
November 22, 2002

Gordon Housworth



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Deposing the 'servant government': listening to the cant of the Patriot right

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The American Patriot right is one of three essential classes of terrorists that we follow:
  • Foreign, non-state (al Qaeda and related organs)
  • Domestic, Patriot/radical right
  • Domestic, Single-interest

Along with at least one hybrid:

  • Temporary marriages of convenience between elements of the radical right and external terrorists (much like that made between radical right hate groups and black Muslim/extremist groups in the 60s)

It is grim reading to sup from the founts of the likes of the National Alliance, Racist Skinheads, Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Confederates, Council of Conservative Citizens, and Black Separatists.  Yet one of the most interesting and fastest growing categories is the "single-interest" category that includes ELF (Earth Liberation Front) and ALF (Animal Liberation Front) who have moved from indirect harm, e.g. tree spiking, to property damage to direct personal harm. Our sources tell us that the FBI is devoting quality effort to the single-interest folks as their 'hate profile' is directed at anyone that interferes with their sole vision, which in the case of the ELF and ALF is an untrammeled animal-friendly wilderness/environment. To read their materials is to the read the materials of the Patriot right or al Qaeda and its affiliates with different nouns. Expect this category to see significant growth. It is my opinion that the single-issue types are very bright and more savvy in commercial and technological terms than the patriot right, who now outnumber them.

In an earlier note, I spoke of the value of "committed" collectors and investigators, those whose passion to search out and document what would be obscure or tedious work for the rest of us. I turn to them again, this time Talking Tough from Southern Poverty Law Center.

"Talking" reports on the Give Me Liberty 2004 conference of the We The People Foundation & We The People Congress in January 2004, held adjacent to CPAC 2004, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. Give Me Liberty speaks a language alien to us as it focused on the belief that "the 1st Amendment Right to Petition and its power as the legal tool to reclaim Freedom and restore Constitutional Order" will free these folks from federal control and taxation.

It is not enough to look at Liberty session titles such as "What Must A Free People Do With Evidence That The Servant Government Is Taking Over The House?" or "The Constitution v. The Federal Reserve System." In the case of the federal reserve, "Talking" gets to the repetition of the 1980s Posse Comitatus term, "banksters," "banking class," and worse that allege, with some venom that the Federal Reserve is an "illegal private cartel secretly owned by a small group of greedy bankers" that is "perpetrating a fraud against the American people." One speaker noted "And Jesus' only violent act was to throw out the money changers."

Mel Gibson's father, Hutton, was a featured speaker who offered a diatribe against "an alliance of the government and the banks" that is leading us to "the New World Order and one-world government." Hutton went on to suggest that US citizens "secede and kick the feds out." Pat Buchanan's sister, Angela, said, "I believe we must have a revolution. Hopefully, it will be a bloodless one." A less tolerant speaker said, "If they confiscate the guns, I think there will be war. And I hope there will be war instead of letting it happen."

It is also worth following up the praise for the Liberty Dollar, a parallel currency to federal currency offered for sale to the general public by NORFED (National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act).  The construct of its legitimacy is worth a read.

Unspecified violence against the state remained a consistently stated option if the state did not 'respond' properly to the group's petitions.

So as we focus on al Qaeda and the beheading of Paul Johnson Jr in Saudi Arabia, we must remember that we have very vocal, assimilated citizen-adversaries closer to home.

Talking Tough
By Heidi Beirich
The Year in Hate, 2004
Intelligence Report
Southern Poverty Law Center

Gordon Housworth



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The delicate, unmentionable foundation of the 9/11 Commission's findings for 16 June

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Having already touched on the content of the two 9-11 Commission reports and related testimony for 16 June, 2004, Overview of the Enemy and Outline of the 9/11 Plot, I thought it useful to draw together the threads that speak to the sources for goodly portions of the information presented: sustained, off-books detainee interrogation.

Recent portions of the commission's staff reports and testimony are sweeping in the unclass exposure of how al Qaeda worked (I use past tense and a new generation of middle managers is in place and so things may be/must be different in some respects). Around the edges there is mention of the contribution of key interrogations to that understanding. To the degree that is true, it begs the questions as to who, where, and how. We know some of the 'who,' but little of the 'where and how,' but one must not jump to the conclusion that every interrogation is Abu Ghraib writ large.

One in particular, Hambali (Riduan Isamuddin), once considered to be al Qaeda's key operative in Asia, is said to be jabbering away without duress on Diego Garcia. (For those not following his interrogation, it is admitted that Hambali may be practicing some deception, but his data has been corroborated by other means.) One not so likely to cooperate is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the al Qaeda chief of operations and architect of 11 September, captured in Pakistan, yet he is said to be providing sound information. Given the seminal position of this individual, I would think that very serious attention is being paid to his interrogation and 'just say no' is not an acceptable option.

Khalid is among the high value ghost detainees invisible to the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross). While the US has acknowledged holding detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq, it has not mentioned Diego Garcia. (This island's isolation in the Indian Ocean is both boon and curse -- a boon to isolation and a curse to transparently and quickly moving in interrogation teams.) Khalid's interrogation techniques are said to be demanding and to include the 'washboarding' ostensibly now outlawed at Abu Ghraib.

I am leading the reader to make their own value judgment as to the merit of retaining a high value target such as Khalid where he is and under his current conditions of incarceration as it is one thing to read the commission transcripts as an antiseptic document and possibly another to consider their full means of construction, i.e., do ends justify means. I urge readers to follow their conclusions to a logical end instead of just stopping with a keep or release.

I am already on record as stating that I "favor the Israeli model in which we formally deny and selectively employ over a blanket rejection that puts dangerous tools into the hands of the unsupervised and unskilled while opening our already low global image to further predation and our troops to further peril."

To guide your decision I would recommend two earlier notes: Gresham's Law of Competitive Behavior and Applied competitive behavior: al Qaeda humint targeting.

In "Gresham," I comment that, "We are going to have to make increasingly difficult decisions to resolve the survival of our national wellbeing and polity in the face of increasing aggressive adversaries armed with potent weaponry and waging a war unlike any that we have experienced." "Life is indelicate when one’s continued existence is at odds with one’s ethics, especially when the foe is assuredly not a Geneva signatory and feels that he can torture and kill you at will to achieve his aims."

As I noted in Applied competitive behavior: "The Battle of Algiers", neither answers nor comfort are easy to obtain.  While we are mired in an armed struggle, I maintain that the solution goes well beyond the military realm and will demand a timeframe and political adjustments that the US will find daunting. Your mileage may vary.

The Terrorist Talks: Al-Qaeda's top man in Asia sings to interrogators about the group's operations
By SIMON ELEGANT I KUALA LUMPUR
TIME, Sunday, Oct. 05, 2003

US hides high-profile prisoners
By Jon Manel
BBC Radio 4 Today programme reporter
BBC NEWS
Published: 2004/05/21 16:23:52 GMT

Focus: The confessions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
Sunday Times (UK)
March 28, 2004
Christina Lamb in Kabul

Gordon Housworth



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Where is the greater madness: Khobar, Saudi Arabia, or Washington D.C.

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Over a period of two days I was driven to wonder where was the greater madness, marveling at the contrasting legal and cultural models that gave rise to such disparate views, and thinking of the gulf to bridge when each considers themselves sane and the other mad:

(1) A Saudi cleric's fatwa delivered not at an obscure mosque but to the web decreed "that the dead can be mutilated as a reciprocal act when the [Infidel] enemy is disfiguring Muslim corpses, or when it otherwise serves the Islamic nation. In the second category, the reasons include "to terrorize the enemy" or to gladden the heart of a Muslim warrior.

(2) A Justice department classified report on interrogation methods rising from the inability to produce sufficient results from conventional methods described "a range of legal issues related to interrogations, offering definitions of the degree of pain or psychological manipulation that could be considered lawful," but resolved that normal strictures on torture might not apply "because nothing is more important than "obtaining intelligence vital to the protection of untold thousands of American citizens""

It is a symbol of the two cultures that the former was delivered to the widest audience while the latter was delivered to the narrowest. The jury is still out on the Saudi's response to the fatwa as they know that the House of Saud is the ultimate target. Similarly, the jury is still out on the formal, public US response to this view of the observing of the Geneva Conventions.

I suggest that one read both (and I also cite the Post if the Journal is not at hand) and try to think of the larger system at play here as well as the secondary effects to all parties in continuing on their current paths. Mind you, I tend to favor the Israeli model in which we formally deny and selectively employ over a blanket rejection that puts dangerous tools into the hands of the unsupervised and unskilled while opening our already low global image to further predation and our troops to further peril.

NEW VIOLENCE, OLD PROBLEM
The Saudis Fight Terror, but Not Those Who Wage It
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR
New York Times
June 6, 2004

Pentagon Report Set Framework For Use of Torture
Security or Legal Factors Could Trump Restrictions, Memo to Rumsfeld Argued
By JESS BRAVIN
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
June 7, 2004; Page A1

Memo Offered Justification for Use of Torture
Justice Dept. Gave Advice in 2002
By Dana Priest and R. Jeffrey Smith
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 8, 2004; Page A01

Gordon Housworth



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Attacks on US soil, real and virtual: the Summer Olympics as target

  #

It has been said that an attack on the Summer Olympics is as good as an attack on US soil due to the American public's attachment to, and interest in, the games. If that is the case, it will be a miracle that an Olympics incident can be prevented. Consider the following:

  1. Al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups are much more of an operational force in Europe than in the US
  2. Information sharing among nations still has holes (and the sharing within Germany between police and intelligence as strictures dating back to the early postwar period)
  3. Greece and Italy are the traditional European "underbellies" when it comes to illegal entry into the EU from outside the region
  4. Lax immigration and unchecked access from neighboring Albania and Macedonia
  5. Greece has just had a change of party leadership (the New Democracy Party ousting the Socialists) further creating communications and organizational gaps.
  6. Large IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and chemical weapons, or their principal components, have been interdicted in the UK and continental Europe
  7. Major IEDs have already been detonated to devastating effect in immediately adjacent Turkey
  8. A radiological "dirty bomb" is merely an IED with an isotopic piggyback and those are being stolen nearly at will in Eastern Europe
  9. One or more bombs, of any kind, do not have to be detonated within the Olympic grounds per se
  10. European Muslim populations (notably France) have large numbers of sympathizers
  11. Advanced cellphone detonated devices have already been used in the Madrid Atocha train bombing
  12. All prepositioned sleeper support and surveillance cells must be on alert or already in motion
  13. There must be prepositioned weapons and explosives caches for a "mission of need"
  14. Prepaid, untraceable cellphones are the norm rather than the exception as in the US
  15. A massive, distributed repair and construction program has been underway in Greece to prepare the Olympic facilities, which in itself is a superb means to preposition weapons and equipment within one or more Olympic facilities.
  16. The supply chain of contractors, sub-contractors, and employees make a daunting security issue, not to mention the extra on-demand contract and substitute workers
  17. Construction is now being rushed on innumerable fronts thereby creating untold avenues for one or more undetected ingress-egress preparations, surveillance, and prepositioning
  18. Things rarely work correctly the first time so there will be ample calls for repairmen and technicians, all in a hurry, of course
  19. Having a security system is quite different from having skilled, seasoned security staff able to operate that system "under load" and respond to its errors and outages in real-time
  20. If al Qaeda has an interest in the Olympics, they are already inside Greece

A massive security exercise named Hercules Shield involving US and Greek troops is underway to simulate scenarios as wide as a radiological device and a ship hijacking (but if a ship is taken I think that it will be a sinking not a hijacking).

Both the US and France are contributing funds to ready security measures in time for the 13 August opening ceremony. In order not to scare away US and other visitors as well as to not draw the attention of Congress, US funds for these efforts are not being debated as they do not require Congressional approval.

Athens 2004 - the race to be ready
Story from BBC SPORT
Published: 2004/05/05 07:37:12 GMT

Greek and US forces in Olympics drill
Story from BBC NEWS
Published: 2004/03/10 17:00:46 GMT

Work delays fuel worries on security at Olympics
Charles M. Sennott The Boston Globe
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
IHT

The race to secure Athens
By Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
Posted 2/23/2004 5:29 PM Updated 2/25/2004 11:00 AM

Gordon Housworth



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