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A focus on militant Islam not withstanding, "launch and leave" is not recommended for critical states as the Ukraine


Airy rhetoric acts as a political opiate, lifting the spirits of the listener (and sometimes the speaker) that something is being done, but it then swept away as attention is drawn elsewhere, not to return until the pot again boils over - on someone else's watch. Inattention to the Middle East is now vacuuming funds away from critical areas that will soon come back to dog us in different ways.

While the Ukraine's Orange Revolution filled our screens as it toppled a corrupt government, we proclaimed it "proof that democracy was on the march and promised $60 million to help secure it in Kiev. But Republican congressional allies balked and slashed it this week to $33.7 million":

The funding reductions come at a time when such programs have enjoyed successes in Georgia and Ukraine, where U.S.-trained activists helped push out unpopular governments. To help consolidate the gains, Bush attached $60 million for Ukraine to his supplemental appropriation bill funding the war in Iraq, with money earmarked to promote judicial independence, youth participation in politics, legal protections for press freedom and preparations for parliamentary elections. But even as Bush plans to host new Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, the House cut the funding request nearly in half.

While the second Bush43 inaugural address seeks to "support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture," the resources have shifted to Muslim states. The Ukraine is not the only loser. Monies for the Freedom Support Act (for Russia and 11 other former Soviet republics), the Support for East European Democracy Act (Serbia), Asia Foundation, and Eurasia Foundation (a U.S.-European-Russian democracy program) were slashed. Groups focusing on training in conduction of fair elections "devote about half of their budgets to Iraq and the Middle East." Increases in USAID democracy and governance programs are "devoted to Iraq and Afghanistan." RFE/RL spending was flat while VOA's bump went to "expanding programs in Persian, Dari, Urdu and Pashtu aimed at non-Arabic Muslim listeners."

I often remark that if al Qaeda and Muslim fundamentalists succeed in whole or in part, it will be due to the monies that it causes the US and the West to redirect away from domestic and international private investment and non-Muslim diplomatic initiatives.

The Ukraine is one of those investment locations that I would not lightly omit, the pressures of Islamic religious and political fundamentalism notwithstanding. It boggles the mind to consider what I predict to be continuous efforts, overt and covert, on the part of the Russian Federation to recover this critical member of the Russian "near abroad," a state so historically essential to Russian defense, commerce, and technology that it transcends any other member of the departed satellite states at the breakup of the USSR. The winning of an election, remarkable as it was, is not enough to sustain it in the face of Russian action.

Ukraine's status as an economically viable state is not guaranteed. Remember that it is part of Kotkin's Trashcanistan and so is prone to flattened investment climate, possibly collapse; purchase of government jobs; corruption among public authorities, during privatization, and in the provision of education, healthcare and social services; harassment of small entrepreneurs; diminished living standards; population flight; and the rising poles of Fascism and fundamentalism.

The focus of part 2 is how the Ukraine can legally, as a state, and illegally, as embedded criminal groups, support itself as Russia completes its separation, and what will be the impact of its revenue opportunities on the US, and thus ultimately US diplomatic relations with the Ukraine.

Funding Scarce for Export of Democracy
By Peter Baker
Washington Post
March 18, 2005

Yushchenko Sworn In as Ukraine President
By Peter Finn
Washington Post
January 23, 2005

Trashcanistan: A Tour through the Wreckage of the Soviet Empire
Stephen Kotkin
The New Republic
April 15, 2002

Gordon Housworth

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Planning Scenarios: Just because DHS deletes it doesn't mean it isn't there


Persistence is, well, a persistent characteristic of distributed digital data:

Hawaii officials published a draft copy of a confidential Homeland Security report that catalogues ways terrorists might strike in the United States. The report, requested by a presidential directive in December 2003, marks Homeland Security efforts to spur state and local authorities into thinking about preventing attacks. "My understanding is this was an error," Chertoff said in an interview with reporters. "... The report was deleted from Hawaii's site late Tuesday night.

Not quite. Its segments such as the now frequently quoted PLANNING SCENARIOS Executive Summaries can be found here.  A bit of tradecraft:

Look around and you will find articles such as Security Report Outlines Terror Scenarios which contain a useful phrase, National Planning Scenarios, in:

Over the last year, the department has drafted its National Planning Scenarios plan that poses the possibility of credible and destructive attacks including by nerve gas, anthrax, pneumonic plague and truck bomb

Search on the word 'Hawaii' + exact phrase 'National Planning Scenarios':

DHS's Draft Versions of the Capabilities Summaries for Review
Hawaii State Civl Defense - Leading the State in Providing Rapid Assistance ...
conditions defined int eh National Planning Scenarios that define the nature ...

Select the Cached version:

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness (DHS/SLGCP) has released draft versions of the Capabilities Summaries for review. These documents are provided by DHS for broad review and input by the homeland security community at all levels. Comments received will inform future versions of the Target Capabilities Summaries and directly influence broader homeland security policy and doctrine.

There are 35 Capabilities divided up into 10 categories (Agriculture and Foods, Criminal Investigation, Incident Management, Incident Response, Mass Care, Prevention Intelligence, Public Health and Medical, Public Information, Public Protection, Recovery) plus an 11th category, Reference Material. Scroll down to Reference Material for:

Planning Scenarios (Exec Summary) (.pdf)

While the PDF is down, a search on the title as exact phrase yields:

PLANNING SCENARIOS Executive Summaries
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
... Version 2.0. ii. PLANNING SCENARIOS. Executive Summaries...

Select view as HTML. (You can also search on the URL itself (pasting the URL into the search field)). The "deleted" 55 pages appear:

Planning Scenarios
Executive Summaries
Created for Use in National, Federal, State, and Local Homeland Security Preparedness Activities

Choose File/Save As and select either Web page, complete or Web archive, single file and a local copy is yours. (Repeat the process for any of the other capabilities desired.)

Now that you have it, read Chertoff's risk-based approach speech to gain insight as to how the materials are being evaluated.

Chertoff: Release of Terror Report a Mistake
Hawaii Officials Posted Confidential DHS Report on Web Site
By Lara Jakes Jordan
Associated Press
March 16, 2005; 2:08 PM

Security Report Outlines Terror Scenarios
Upcoming Federal Report Outlines Frightening Range of Terror Scenarios to Spur Preparedness
Associated Press
Mar. 16, 2005

Remarks for Secretary Michael Chertoff U.S. Department of Homeland Security
George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute
Washington, D.C.
March 16, 2005

Gordon Housworth

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Low risk terrorist access to the flight deck


Interviewed as part of ABC News reporting on the use of general aviation, including light jets and helicopters, as terrorist weapons, the clip that made air focused on the vulnerability of the flight deck of timeshare or rental executive aircraft to terrorists who are themselves the 'passengers.' While that certainly fit the needs of ABC's story, I believe the larger theme is generic control of a flight deck for terrorist aims.

Terrorist supply chains, or asymmetrical attacker Supply chains, are not built for commercial efficiency but for detection avoidance at least until the attack is in progress. The terrorist risk calculus is not based so much on survival as on mission success. In terms of using aircraft as weapons, the critical path in the terrorist chains has been access to, and control of, the flight deck. Readers should remember that the plan that matured into the 11 September airliner attacks started as the attempted purchase of light twin aircraft that were to be modified for aerial spraying (but in this case the liquid tanks were intended to transport flammable materials onto the target rather than spraying). Only when that plan failed, did the attackers turn to airliners. Control of the flight deck remained the critical path element.

Post 11 September, airline passengers are now alert to the fact that they will be part of the missile, rather than being held for some form of ransom, and so are much more likely to resist the hijackers. Given that risk to mission success, where is the next least defended flight deck? Three that come first to mind are:

  • Freight and cargo aircraft
  • Bizjets and executive jets
  • Medivac and executive helicopters

In such cases there are no passengers with which to contend, only the desired flight deck crew. Such flights do not have to emanate from US soil to create a threat to targets here. For example, a B727 with bladder tanks for extended range went missing from Luanda Airport in Angola in May 2003:

Fully fueled and perhaps retrofitted with portable fuel bladders and a cloned radar transponder this aircraft has the range to reach any area in the continental US along with a significant payload. The disappearance touched off searches across the continent and, in the post-Sept. 11 era, prompted worries about why the plane was taken, probably for use in a terrorist attack.

Thought to be in terrorist hands, it was spotted more than a month later in Conakry, Guinea resprayed and with new registration. (Planes go missing frequently in Africa and many flights around the continent carry arms, contraband, and drugs. The fact that this aircraft "was said to be owned by a member of West Africa's Lebanese business community, and was being used to shuttle goods between Beirut and Conakry" could just as easily indicate that it was used to move cargo for al Qaeda affiliates in West Africa. It or another plane just like it could just as easily been on its way to East Coast CONUS.

Cargo flights inbound from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and Canada are potential candidates as are "airliners transiting near or flying over the continental United States, but not destined to land at U.S. airports" until hijacked. It has been my experience that this freight area has been a bit of an unprotected underbelly, especially in its late night/off hours operations. Even more so for departure areas whose airfield security controls are presumably more lax and much more open to bribery than US airports.

In the above cases, hijackers have to take over a lightly manned aircraft, but in bizjet and executive jet air charter, timeshare or fractionally owned aircraft, the terrorist is invited aboard as a pampered guest:

Advocates say private jets are looking even more attractive for time poor executives, due to greater air traffic, long waits and exhaustive security searches for major hub-to-hub travel. Timeshare jets typically land at smaller, private airports such as RAF Northolt outside London and Teterboro in New Jersey, thus avoiding the traffic congestion associated with large hubs such as JFK airport or Heathrow.

Rigorous TSA-style inspections, or any inspections at all, for passengers and baggage are frequently nonexistent in this luxury service sector, and, in fact, luxury and freedom from inspection are frequent selling points.

Helicopters are as lethal as light jets and often able to fly at lower, evasive altitudes:

The Democratic National Convention in Boston forgot to lock down [helicopters] which flew to the hospitals adjacent to the Fleet Center and a general "36-mile no-fly zone" around the Fleet Center was useless feel good security as a 7300-pound MedFlight Dauphin II flying over 200 mph with 2000+ pounds of cargo and 350 gallons of fuel would cover "the entire six-mile by six-mile "no-fly zone" in less then 90 seconds."... And who in those few seconds would want to shoot down what might be a clearly marked medical flight entering a dense hospital area?

In these cases, access to aircraft and flight deck are easier than for commercial aviation.

Terror By Flight (Video)
Report: Al Qaeda may be focusing on small aircraft for use in terror attacks
ABC News
14 March, 2005

Government Report on U.S. Aviation Warns of Security Holes
New York Times
March 14, 2005

Gordon Housworth

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"Amazed" police have lost the asymmetrical battle


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."

The failure of an established authority, police in this case, to anticipate the threat level and force projection presented by football hooligans in terms of C3 (Command, Control, & Communication) tools and techniques was driven home in Denmark as Copenhagen Police were "amazed by the professional methods that some hooligan groups have adopted":

They plan in detail how to avoid the police and how to attack the visiting fans. The entire planning pattern is surprising - in many cases they use veritable intelligence tactics.

As Dutch non-violent "roligans" give way to more UK-like football hooligans, the tradecraft employed has transmuted into a capacity that would have put the police at a severe disadvantage had they been the direct target. These hooligans:

  • Made use of the internet to coordinate activities
  • Used closed web sites to plan of clashes
  • Used private vehicles as rolling command posts to spot the positions of rival hooligans and police units.
  • Competed against each other in a "Hooli-League"
  • Coordinated efforts by rival Danish hooligans in clashes with other Scandinavians groups

It was further cold comfort that "about 400 people were associated with the most hard-core groups," i.e., right-wing racist groups. One could easily view these football hooligan tactics as a dress rehearsal for actions against police and authority.

Worse, the police were apparently unaware that an everyman's C3 "is becoming increasing inexpensive to the point that cell phones, pagers, and PDAs can produce human events of amazing speed." In June 2004, I noted in Vengeful flash mobs that:

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.

In Prison populations: a flash mob to be reckoned with, I describe how "The prison smart mob is closer that we think" and that "Prison guards will be outclassed." Why are not police more aware of nontraditional, asymmetrical responses?

I was equally dismayed when an "NBC analyst and retired military intelligence officer" could voice astonishment over the video, The Explosive Belt for Martyrdom Operations, that "The most disturbing thing about this video is that it exists." The 'expert' should have been predicting it as there had been much precedent in sophisticated internet and multimedia usage by insurgent groups.

Israel had assumed a far greater atomization and fracturing isolation of Palestinian areas by virtue of its curfews and roadblocks that was the case.  Palestinians used the internet to break the Israeli siege and lockdowns, i.e., Internet usage became a practical necessity for Palestinian security and political matters. (Prior to the uprising, some 2 to 3% of Palestinians used the Internet in 2000 but by mid-2003, the figure was 8%, far ahead of Morocco, Egypt and Jordan.):

  • Local communities reconnected regional nerve ends by connecting people and villages under Israeli lockdowns. Internet activity spiked in parallel with the severity of Israeli travel restrictions
  • News isolation ended with easily available feeds from the US, Europe, the Mideast, and Israel, notably its liberal daily Haaretz
  • Ineffectual local media was displaced
  • Use of, and reliance on, online services, e.g., banking and business communication, and distance learning soared in order to circumvent Israeli restrictions
  • Thoughtful Palestinians established an environment that tempted radicalized youth into informational pursuits

Organized states, the 'authority powers', habitually perceive their irregular or nonstate adversaries to possess less technology than is the case, have less operational skill and tradecraft than is the case, and have less vision to integrate all into an effective, low cost, open-source counterforce. Authorities are often issued less capable technology than what is available as COTS technology, and too often rely on the 'functions as issued' rather than being inventive. COTS hardware such as PDAs, phones, et al, is already widely dispersed as facile 'dual-use technology' in the irregular groups. Authorities forget this at their peril.

Organized Hooligans Amaze Police
Copenhagen Post
11 Mar 2005

Terrorist Website Drops Dirty Bomb
Saad Al-Matrafi, Arab News
11, March, 2005

Web video teaches terrorists to make bomb vest
By Lisa Myers & the NBC investigative unit
Dec. 22, 2004

Palestinians turn to Internet to cope with Israeli restrictions
By Josef Federman
The Associated Press

Gordon Housworth

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The facing page to Afghanistan's narco-state and narco-terrorism: Pakistan


Part 2

One cannot close the book on Afghanistan's near failed state, narco-state condition without reading the adjoining chapter on one of its largest, if not the largest, international trafficker of its opiates, Pakistan and its intel service, the ISI. From Part 2:

[Afghan] Traffickers expand intranational and adjacent nation opium trade, transform larger opium volumes into opiates, and traffic in those opiates. (Relatively few Afghans participate in "international narcotics trafficking operations that bring finished opiate products such as heroin to Middle Eastern, European, or North American consumer markets."

It appears likely that Pakistani assets overwhelm even conventional terrorist groups in their level of influence on the intranational and international Afghan opiate trade, but just as with the NIC 2015 and 2020 intelligence estimates, made before and after 11 September respectively, current administration comments are restrained on Pakistani involvement. I noted in Aug, 2004:

Pakistan and its intelligence service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), sculpted what became al Qaeda far more than any Saudi financing, or bin Laden's early efforts when was but a minor player, and coordinated the International Islamic Front of militant groups formed by bin Laden in 1998. The comment that "Every link [of the arrested jihadists] goes straight to top army officials of different times" does not even do justice to a Pakistani primacy that rose in resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan when the putative sponsor of the nascent jihadist movement, the CIA, bowed to ISI demands to allow it to move the material and weapons on to Afghanistan. The ISI became the effective sponsor on the ground, working through a set of proxies of its own creation, doling out support to those that met Pakistani expectations… Hamas and Abu Sayyaf grew from Pakistani proxy camps. Then Pakistani dictator General Zia ul-Haq laid "the foundations for a global Muslim liberation movement" under the noses of the US even as the administration lionized ul-Haq… In 2001-2002, while agreeing to publicly join the US "war on terror," Pakistan sought alternate Afghani control through Hekmatyar, then in exile in Iran. Pakistani proxies got combatant dependents out with new documents even as it linked Hekmatyar with other in-country jihadists. When the US declared one of those proxies, al-Badr, as a terrorist group, it might have declared the ISI as a terrorist group.

A near failed state itself, Pakistan has long extended those same channels to encompass drugs:

Elements of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and Afghan rebel commanders to which the ISI channeled U.S. funding and weaponry are also alleged to have participated in the Afghan narcotics trade during the Soviet occupation and its aftermath, including in the production and trafficking of refined heroin to U.S. and European markets. After the withdrawal of Soviet troops and a drop in U.S. and Soviet funding, opium poppy cultivation, drug trafficking, and other criminal activities increasingly provided local leaders and military commanders with a means of supporting their operations and establishing political influence in the areas they controlled.

In March 2003, former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Wendy Chamberlain told a House International Relations Committee panel that the role of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency in the heroin trade from 1997-2003 had been "substantial."

In 2005 diplo-speak:

Pakistan remains a substantial trafficking country for heroin, morphine, and hashish from Afghanistan, [and] Pakistani financiers/traffickers may also play an important role in financing and organizing opium production in Afghanistan. Control of narcotics trafficking along the remote 1,450-mile [Afghan] border has presented a major challenge for the GOP. Interdiction operations on the border occur, but drug convoys are becoming increasingly smaller, well guarded, and highly mobile, with high-tech communications capability and the ability to take advantage of difficult terrain and widely dispersed law enforcement personnel. The GOP has expressed concern that as counternarcotics efforts ramp up in Afghanistan, the drug trade will push east into Pakistan.

As an aside, I can only marvel at the quality of the drugs the UN was consuming when it declared Pakistan to be "poppy free" in 2001, given the largely uninterrupted cultivation "in the "nontraditional Tribal" areas of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)."

The ISI’s old proxy, Hizb-i Islami/Gulbuddin (HIG), and the Taliban are "almost definitely" involved in opiate trafficking and are "most likely" to receive logistical support from traffickers and to encourage poppy growing. Hizb-i Islami’s leader, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is said to "have been involved in the Afghan narcotics trade since the 1980s." A group "closely affiliated" with AL Qaeda, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), is "probably" involved, but Al Qaeda less so.

Afghan-origin hashish and opiates transit through Pakistan [to] Turkey, by land, and Iran, by land and sea [and to] Europe and North America [via] Pakistan’s Balochistan and NWFP provinces and exit either through Iran or Pakistan’s Makran coast, or through international airports located in Pakistan’s major cities… Traffickers also transit land routes from Balochistan to Iran and from the tribal agencies of NWFP to Chitral, where they re-enter Afghanistan at Badakhshan province for transit through Central Asia… Pakistani traffickers are also an important source of financing to the poor farmers of Afghanistan who otherwise would not be able to produce opium.

Unlike Iran, which cooperates with the US and UK on drug-related issues, Afghanistan's narco-state would be much harder to sustain without Pakistan, the ISI and its proxies.

Gordon Housworth

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Understanding what it means to be a near-narco state


Part 1

Afghanistan’s economic dependence on opium is so extraordinary that I find it hard to imagine a transition and sustainment replacing drug profits with licit capital and investment:

long established political and commercial networks linking armed groups, landowning elites, transportation guilds, and drug syndicates continue to constitute the foundation of Afghanistan’s opium economy. [An] opium economy has produced significant increases in rural wages and income and remains a significant source of credit for low income rural households. Opium profits fuel consumption of domestic products and support imports of high value goods such as automobiles and appliances from abroad. Funds from the drug trade are also a major source of investment for infrastructure development projects, including major projects in "building construction, trade, and transport."

Starting at the bottom:

Farmers suffer the most and it is no wonder that they resist drug interruption and eradication efforts. Poppy is cultivated to improve their access to land, water, agricultural supplies, and credit but the threats are great:

  • Crop failure and drought-induced debt
  • Predatory traditional lending systems under an opium-for-credit system, salaam
  • Forced land mortgages and agreements to cultivate opium poppy through sharecropping arrangements.
  • Once landless, necessity to accept crop selection choices of landowners
  • Unintended side-effects from government cultivation bans and eradication programs, e.g., destroying opium crops that served as salaam collateral

Land owners are well positioned to profit from opium poppy production, intranational opium trade, transformation of smaller opium volumes into opiates, and trafficking of opiates:

  • Control opium cultivation inputs of land, water, and fertilizers
  • Manage salaam lending systems
  • Control rural agricultural labor market during all poppy seasons
  • Improve crop yields with services of "skilled itinerant laborers to assist in the complex opium harvesting process"
  • Benefit from property consolidation rising from farmer debt levels

Traffickers expand intranational and adjacent nation opium trade, transform larger opium volumes into opiates, and traffic in those opiates. (Relatively few Afghans participate in "international narcotics trafficking operations that bring finished opiate products such as heroin to Middle Eastern, European, or North American consumer markets," a fact we'll revisit.)

Provincial and district level officials, "drug-related corruption is believed to be pervasive":

"high government officials, police commanders, governors are involved" in the drug trade, [Government and security forces accuse] each other of involvement in opium production and trafficking, and warlords have clashed over opium production and profits in various regions of the country

National government officials, generally "believed to be free of direct criminal connection to the drug trade," but I think "direct" is the operative word:

some political figures and their powerful supporters are alleged to have links with the trade or hold responsibility for areas of Afghanistan where opium poppy cultivation and drug trafficking take place. Commanders under the control of cabinet members and former presidential candidates are alleged to participate in the opium trade.

It is difficult to exempt a sector of the economy from opium's effect as a source of revenue and patronage. If counternarcotics skills can mature into effective interdiction and eradication, one would expect counterattacks from farmers to militias to trafficking groups that could conceivably topple this fragile government, resulting in a failed state.

Part 3: Graduating from narco state to narco-terrorism

Gordon Housworth

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The good fatwa. Why not? Nothing else is braking Afghanistan's descent into a narcotic state


Spring: snows recede, poppies bloom and insurgents maneuver. Another year in Afghanistan.

Shortly after Hamid Karzai's inauguration in December, 2004, "the National Council of Ulemas, or Muslim scholars, issued a fatwa, or religious declaration, against the illicit drug trade. It now appears to be having an impact… The most significant development so far has been the commitment by village elders and local religious leaders to reinforce the fatwa. They understand the social problems inherent in narcotics trafficking. Most Afghans are tired of violence, lawlessness and drugs. Early reports from the provinces suggest that much of the land typically used for poppies is likely to be planted with alternative crops this year.

Believe it when I see it, but nothing else has worked at the "source of 87% of the world’s illicit opium and heroin" to slake a "$2.8bn-a-year illicit narco-economy funds warlords, fuels international terrorism and drives up drug addiction in many capitals of the west." The 2005 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) suffers from excessive diplo-speak so I refer readers to the CRS, Jamestown, and IRIN links below for more pointed content and far better footnotes:

At the time of Afghanistan’s pro-Communist coup in 1978… Afghan farmers produced 300 metric tons (MT) of opium annually - enough to satisfy most local and regional demand.

Probably because they were pro-Communist, we did not heed their pleas for assistance. Afghan leaders made the same plea at the December 2001 Bonn conference as opium production, taking place in every province of Afghanistan, is endemic to the Afghan eco-political structure.

Taliban officials coopted their military opponents with promises of permissive cultivation policies and mirrored the practices of their warlord predecessors by collecting tax revenue and profits on the growing output.

While the Taliban banned opium poppy cultivation (but not opiate post-processing) in late 2000 in what was seen as a bid for international legitimacy, the ban is now believed to have been "designed to increase the market price for and potential revenue from stocks of Afghan opium maintained by the Taliban and its powerful trafficking allies within the country." Our future allies - Northern Alliance commanders - continued producing opium, trafficking heroin, taxing opium production and transporting within their zones of control:

in-country illicit profits from Afghanistan’s record 2004 opium poppy crop were equivalent in value to 60% of the country’s legitimate GDP.

The 2004 opium poppy crop produced 4200 MT of illicit opium, a 17% increase from the 3600 MT produced in 2003. The increase in opium output in 2004 was limited by crop disease, bad weather, and an accelerated harvest linked to eradication fears. A range of accepted opium to heroin conversion rates indicate that the 2004 opium harvest could produce 420 to 700 MT of refined heroin.

counternarcotics policy has emerged as a focal point [as] opium poppy cultivation and drug trafficking constitute serious strategic threats to the security and stability of Afghanistan and jeopardize the success of post-9/11 counterterrorism and reconstruction efforts there.

The trade is not simple as burden and reward varies greatly between farmer, land owner, and traffickers:

Farmers, laborers, landowners, and traffickers each play roles in Afghanistan’s opium economy. [Motives] and methods of each group vary considerably based on their geographic location, their respective economic circumstances, their relationships with ethnic groups and external parties.

Part 2: Understanding what it means to be a near-narco state

Afghanistan's jihad against drugs
By Mohammad Daud Daud
Financial Times
March 4 2005 02:00

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR)
Volume I, Drug and Chemical Control
United States Department of State
Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
March 2005

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR)

International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR)
Volume II: Money Laundering and Financial Crimes
March 2005

Afghanistan: Narcotics and U.S. Policy
December 7, 2004
Christopher M. Blanchard
CRS Report for Congress RL32686

Drugs and the Financing of Terrorism
By Pierre-Arnaud Chouvy
The Jamestown Foundation
Terrorism Monitor, Volume 2, Issue 20
October 21, 2004

Bitter-Sweet Harvest: Afghanistan's New War
IRIN, 2004

Gordon Housworth

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At what point does a decision maker bound the system that describes options with the least destructive outcomes?


Just as customers had to "take either the horse nearest the stable door or none at all" from Thomas Hobson's livery stable, so must Microsoft decide between stopping piracy revenue loss or driving clients elsewhere or indirectly propagating vulnerable installs; and the US must decide between US-EU cooperative agreements that permit transatlantic technology transfer underlying cooperative programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) or accelerated EU, principally French and German, arms exports to China.

Choices in complex systems are increasingly maddening, and in geopolitical systems those choices can have disastrous consequences. Many have written on the short term thinking of certain political elites that lead to an endless string of unintended consequences, so I am not the first to suggest that setting width of scope and length of timeline is essential in defining a solution space with the least damaging outlines. (Whenever clients task us for a solution to an especially vexing problem, we find that the solution space is not large enough to define a solution and that we have to widen the solution space, i.e., reset scope, in order to define one or more solutions that can be presented to the client for evaluation.)

The F-35 JSF is a potential casualty in US-EU tensions over lifting an arms embargo upon China if the US does not approve the "International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) waiver that would give blanket approval for exporting moderately sensitive technology [seen] as essential to the JSF programme":

From the point of view of many in the EU, US fears if a lifting of the embargo, which went into effect after China's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989, alarmist. Not only will the embargo be replaced by the code of conduct, but there are still controls from the national governments.

In Washington there are fears that the EU's dropping of the embargo against China will lead to a large volume of advanced European weapons and sensor technology going to the country, upsetting the balance of power between China and Taiwan.

The JSF is an extremely expensive system that needs international offset agreements to improve the price/volume production costs across many nations, most of whom also want to share in design as well as production. I can sympathize with US fears of diversion of its technology. One has only to reflect on the diversion of US technology by Israel to Pakistan, India, and China.

European defense executives are said to be uninterested "in selling advanced weapons to China" for fear that they would "lose their US business if they were to sell to China" compounded by "China's reputation for reverse engineering and poor record in preserving intellectual property rights [that would see their technology copied] to compete in China and on export markets." I submit that the French are not so restrained. France has gone so far as "claiming that it would be better to sell arms to China than to force the Chinese to develop their own weapons technology":

The driving force behind the proposed scrapping of the embargo comes from European powerhouses Germany and France. If the arms ban were to be lifted, it would open up a whole new defense market, particularly for Germany with its stealth submarines and France with its Mirage fighter jets -- two pieces of military hardware much coveted by the Chinese defense department.

In China, the commencing "year of the monkey" is expected to be a prosperous one in terms of economic success and France seems to be interested in getting in on the action. France's 2003 trade volume with China amounted to $13 billion (€10.4 billion), about a third of the Chinese-German total.

In France, with Germany in tow, seeks to use China to outflank both the EU and the US, I noted that:

French and German motivations are strongly tied to their countries' economic weaknesses while they join with China is seeking to create a multi-polar world that checks US power. China, already the EU's number two trading partner after the US, will reciprocate as it attempt to gain entry to military and commercial purchases within the EU. Expect to see a flurry of new Sino-French initiatives...

France and Germany, as well as the UK, look on with envy at Russian arms sales to China and India. The US faces difficult choices. If it withholds the ITAR, it could see more expensive (lower volume) JSF production and thus a smaller US inventory, similar effects upon other joint weapons systems, more independent EU arms production (witness Airbus advances upon Boeing), "nothing to lose" Franco-German arms exports, while still seeing its intellectual property harvested elsewhere so that it has no upside at all.

Microsoft another day.

Dropping EU embargo may jeopardise JSF
Date Posted: 25-Feb-2005

EU China arms ban 'to be lifted'
BBC News
12 January, 2005

EU Proposes End To China Arms Embargo
Deutsche Well
15 April, 2004

Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  Strategic Risk Public  


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Implications of absence of liability: shifting the cost from perpetrator to consumer and bystander


Absence of liability in software design and data aggregation share a common theme: The absence of liability or responsibility for human action in any system leaves a massive open loop in which damaging action is allowed to rise, and to continue, without impact to the perpetrator's finances, equity and reputation. The unregulated impact of such action is a form of collateral damage to consumer and bystander as the cost to correct wrongful action or inaction is transferred to them.

The politico-economic system is as much at fault as are the perpetrators as the latter are only responding to the risk-reward calculations that the system presents them. If I am producer of product, tangible and intangible, and am not held accountable for the quality of those products, I will devote more attention to 'features' than to the quality of those features. If I am an aggregator of information and not held accountable for the security and accuracy of that information, I will focus on gathering/acquiring more information and designing data mining tools to exploit that information than to securing and updating that information. In both cases, it comes down to the consequences of shabby 'product.'

Speaking as one who has spent quite some time in software and systems firms, and who uses both event and entity (personal) information in data mining and analytic projects, I can say that redress is as long overdue as the risk of failing to secure that redress is rising. But if we are going to haul these 'producers' into the dock, we should also fix the system that allows them to operate - and that is the hardest of all solutions. Add to this the speed of technology, which outstrips the ability of laws to catch up with its implications. Readers are referred to these short introductions for the scale of the problem: Applying Ackoff's rules of system interdependency, Part I and Ackoff on Reductionism and Expansionism, Part II.

Rising economic loss has joined cybersecurity and homeland defense risk in driving the market, e.g., driving software and systems to improve, and driving more data aggregation and mining:

  • Software asks: Does the liability exemption relieve pressure on software makers to write more secure code? If so, are legal or regulatory changes required to correct such a "market failure?
  • Data aggregation asks: Does the US need a national data privacy law, or, at a minimum, that data aggregators must observe the Fair Credit Reporting Act rules designed to ensure that credit reports are accurate?

The software industry is maturing as spending is slowing, thus giving buyers more leverage. Conversely, proprietary software presents buyers with the high cost (direct, opportunity, and training) of a vendor change. The net gain as been in the vendors' favor. I expect that to change. (The 2002 recommendation to Congress that it "consider lifting software vendors' liability immunity because vendors had failed to "respond adequately to the security challenge"" is a case in point.)

I agree with Oracle's chief security officer that "national-security needs combined with the lack of accountability could make software ripe for regulation"; with CA that "some form of liability may be needed to focus the software industry's attention on security"; and with NSA's director of information assurance that "Congress would be quick to intervene "if something bad happens and it's because of bad software.""

Matters are worse in data aggregation and worse still for non-US nationals. Sale of personal data is permitted in many states. Data-sharing agreements among nations and the US are not publicly defined. Foreign states are increasingly concerned that the US Patriot Act can be extended to US subsidiaries on foreign soil, thereby leaving the foreign state no legal recourse in US courts.


  1. Federal and state privacy laws and regulations will see customers hold vendors increasingly accountable for customers' liability in using flawed software
  2. Sarbanes-Oxley will bring increasing transparency and risk identification to vendor (for software) and customer (for breaches of their own making) alike
  3. Software license agreements will slowly, with FUD resistance, soften liability waivers that hold the vendor "harmless for damages caused by software defects"
  4. Vendors will attempt to negotiate exemptions in return for taking appropriate security measures
  5. Very large firms and systems integrators acting as intermediaries will negotiate stricter liability in their SLAs (Service Level Agreements)
  6. Those SLA advances will trickle down to the general user base
  7. The structure of the software market as we know it will change
  8. Major data aggregators, fewer in number and acting as a private intel agency to federal and state entities, will move even slower than software
  9. Foreign nations will react with laws and limits on data repatriation of local data to US parent firms

When identity thieves strike data warehouses
By Robert Vamosi
February 25, 2005

Senator Says Data Service Has Lax Rules for Security
New York Times
February 25, 2005

Companies Seek to Hold Software Makers Liable for Flaws
February 24, 2005

ChoicePoint's error sparks talk of ID theft law
By Grant Gross, IDG News Service
February 23, 2005

Canadians Fight for Privacy
By Kim Zetter
Wired News
02:00 AM Feb. 04, 2005 PT

Gordon Housworth

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Hamas as antithesis to the Provisional IRA


As terrorists morphing into criminal gangs go, the PLO is as feckless as the PIRA is accomplished. The privatization of terrorism speaks to the potential for "Terrorist organizations [to] build criminal funding arms that have the real possibility of dwarfing the military mission," and it beggars the imagination to consider the PLO achieving the criminal skills and wealth accretion and reinvestment that the IRA has achieved. The Levant would be a very different place.

While Fatah was corrupt top to bottom, its wealth accretion lined the pockets of the Fatah elite and any reinvestment proceeds returned to those same pockets. Fatah was a marvel of suboptimization and greed that failed to build a sustaining criminal enterprise, remaining content to continue siphoning off monies flowing into Fatah from contributions and international aid. Continuing its 'gang that couldn't shoot straight' performance, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia presented an appalling 24-member Cabinet to parliament replete with corrupt Arafat-era "Tunisian" hacks and legislators not up to the task as ministers.

Even Fatah backbenchers would not support the slate and rebelled although it is likely that these similarly tainted individuals were adopting a newfound anti-corruption platform in advance of the July legislative elections. Still, if they could, why not Qureia? And why would Abbas permit it, especially in light of the sweeping achievements of Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank? One wonders if Abbas was orchestrating the discrediting of PLO faithfuls without blood on his hands, but then why would Qureia spring the trap knowing that Abbas could appoint a new prime minister if Qureia's cabinet fails to win approval?

I wonder about Qureia's judgment, especially as he had enemies who saw him as an Arafat functionary and gave him no credit for his notable economic achievements. He had no power base of his own and his political claim was as an architect of the since discredited Oslo peace accords. In any event, Abbas stepped in as statesman, asking that a new group of technocrats be approved as a transitional government:

The new cabinet [includes] 17 newcomers. Eleven of the ministers have doctorates, and three are engineers. Maj. Gen. Nasser Yusef was named interior minister, while Mohammed Dahlan, formerly a senior security official in Gaza, was made civil affairs minister. Both are strong advocates of reform and were often at odds with Arafat. Salam Fayyad, a respected former official with the International Monetary Fund, retained his position as finance minister.

Hamas will further reshape Fatah. I find merit in the observations of Eyad Sarraj who believes that:

Hamas will very soon transform into a political party and will seriously contemplate taking over the government by democratic means… Hamas finally has an incentive to halt terrorist activity. For years, its raison d'etre has been military action. But Hamas has just achieved an astounding victory in municipal elections in the Gaza Strip, winning 70 percent of the seats in local councils. Fatah, the ruling party that had long dominated the political scene, was roundly defeated. Hamas has a guaranteed political future when it chooses to abandon the armed struggle. [Close] observers have noted important signs of change within Hamas over time. From remarks made by its spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, before his assassination last year, we understand that Hamas is now prepared to accept a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And as the recent elections showed, Hamas now participates fully in the democratic process -- something that it once called a Western conspiracy, and even a sin.

Hamas is becoming more organized, more sophisticated and more confident in itself. For example, in the first intifada, Hamas was quick to charge people with collaboration with Israel and to kill them. That was a sign of insecurity. The Hamas of today pledges not to kill fellow Palestinians, but instead urges the Palestinian Authority to enforce its laws. This confidence has grown as popular support for Hamas has increased, thanks to its wide network of social programs, its incorruptible image, its adherence to Islamic morals and, most importantly, its record of fighting Israel… Hamas has earned its popular support and it does not want to lose that support, nor its role in the future of Palestine. And that is why I believe it will cooperate with Abu Mazen, as Palestinians respectfully refer to President Abbas. It is precisely because Hamas has such a strong grass-roots base that it recognizes that most Palestinians have learned that violence only inspires retaliation.

Hamas is the antithesis of today's PIRA and, despite its resort to terrorism, is distant from Islamic Jihad, who carried out the 25 Feb Tel Aviv suicide bombing, and Hezbollah, who will likely emerge as the new al Qaeda.

I can foresee conflict between Hamas and Hezbollah as Hamas proceeds to defend the nascent Palestinian state.

This Time, I'm Hopeful
By Eyad Sarraj
Washington Post
February 13, 2005

Gordon Housworth

InfoT Public  


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