Austria figures prominently in a map produced by the IS that outlines the group’s five-year plan for expanding its caliphate into Europe, and has emerged as a central hub for jihadists seeking to fight in Syria.
The Islamist known as “Abu Hamza al-Austria,” fighting in Syria, pictured from his jihadist recruitment video.
“The spectrum of recruits for the conflict in Syria is ethnically diverse. The motivation, however, appears to be uniformly jihadist.” — Austrian intelligence agency BVT.
“Allah also gives you the opportunity to wage jihad in Austria.” — Austrian jihadist Firas Houidi.
“We are proud that Allah has chosen us. We feel like lions.” — Austrian jihadist Abu Hamza al-Austria.
The Austrian government has announced plans to improve its intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities in an urgent effort to crack down on would-be jihadists in the country.
The decision by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner to recruit 20 new intelligence officers to focus exclusively on the threat posed by radical Islam comes after police in Austria arrested nine Chechen immigrants who were on their way to wage jihad in Syria.
The move also comes amid growing concerns that Austria’s shiftless Muslim youth are becoming increasingly radicalized and vocal in their support of the jihadist group Islamic State. Continue reading →
A handout picture released by the official website of the Iranian President, shows president Hassan Rouhani, center, and Iran‘s Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan, second right, visiting Iran’s defense capabilities exhibition on Aug. 24 in Tehran. (AFP)
TEHRAN, IRAN — Iran on Sunday unveiled two new missiles and two new drones it said have been added to its arsenal, in a ceremony attended by President Hassan Rouhani.
The Ghadir (Mighty), with a range of 300 kilometers (185 miles), is a ground-to-sea and sea-to-sea missile, the official IRNA news agency said.
It is in the same family as the Ghader or Qader cruise missile, which has a range of 200 kilometers.
The other missile unveiled on Sunday, the Nasr-e Basir (Clear Victory), is equipped with a seeker homing head. Its range was not given. Continue reading →
Convergent and dual-use technologies could match or surpass the capabilities of existing nuclear and conventional arsenals within the next 20 years. For Robert McCreight, the dangers these technologies pose must be taken seriously, especially since states are almost sure to use them.
By Robert McCreight for ISN
As the complexity of advanced technologies continues to increase, hard questions need to be asked about the possibility of dual-use risks that could jeopardize the stability and security of the planet. States with weapons systems that are already highly developed could gain significant advantages from the advent of novel weaponry. Indeed, it is not inconceivable that in 15-20 years advanced dual-use technologies could match, nullify or surpass the capabilities of existing nuclear and conventional arsenals. What implications does this have for international security? Continue reading →
Is there a single approach to Euro-Atlantic security? If not, is that a bad thing? Heather Conley’s answer is ‘no’ to both questions. But that doesn’t mean NATO and the EU shouldn’t be talking to each other about complementarity, regionalization and, most importantly, future defense spending.
Russian government and military actions over the past several weeks have dramatically changed Europe’s security landscape and fundamentally challenged Europe’s political order for the first time since the Cold War. And to address this task, NATO is the organisation of (only) choice. The problem is that there is no single Euro-Atlantic security approach. The Atlantic has two very different security providers: NATO and the European Union (in the form of the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy or CSDP).
The EU’s security vision as articulated by CSDP has been adrift for many reasons. Although the CSDP was initially an attempt by some European leaders to be a counter-weight to U.S. defence policy, the de minimis results of CSDP thus far suggest that there exists little policy or budget enthusiasm to create – much less sustain – a robust European defence policy. Today, European defence policy is either expressed within a NATO framework or has been directed at bilateral security interests such as France’s operations in Mali and the Central African Republic. Of the 20 CSDP operations between 2003 and 2008, most missions were geographically located in Africa. Recent CSDP missions since 2012 have been civilian and very small in nature, focused nearly exclusively on training. The CSDP, as currently designed, is not able to defend Europe. Continue reading →
Since ISIS fighters took control of two key Iraqi cities last week, the U.S. military and intelligence agencies have blanketed portions of the country with spy satellites and drones, giving them what one senior administration official called “round-the-clock coverage” of locations where ISIS is active. The military personnel headed to Iraq — as many as 300, Obama said — will work alongside Iraqi military forces in special intelligence centers, using drone video feeds and spy satellite photographs to track and attack ISIS fighters. They’ll also be in a prime position to help carry out U.S. airstrikes the moment Obama orders them.
In remarks from the White House Thursday, Obama didn’t say that airstrikes are imminent. He stressed that the only long-term solution to Iraq’s stabilization will come from political reconciliation between the Shiite-led government and the marginalized Sunni minority. But he left no doubt that he’s putting all the pieces in place to launch the first significant military action in Iraq since U.S. forces left there in 2011. Continue reading →
On May 3 China placed the Haiyang Shiyou 981 deep water semi-submersible drilling rig 119nm off the coast of Vietnam and 180nm from Hainan Island. The rig lies 17nm from Triton Island, part of the Paracel islands that China occupied by force from then South Vietnam in 1974. Vietnamese and international condemnation was swift and strident. Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Bing Minh called the move a violation of Vietnamese sovereignty and the U.S. State Department described the move as “provocative”. Chinese Foreign Ministry (FMPRC) Spokesperson Hua Chunying said the rig was normal part of regular offshore resource exploration activities China is entitled to conduct in its territorial waters off of the Paracel islands (FMPRC press conference, May 6 and 12). The move is in fact a deliberate Chinese escalation of its territorial and maritime dispute with Vietnam. This marks the first time that any claimant has unilaterally explored for hydrocarbon resources in a disputed part of the South China Sea, although Chinese officials maintain the activity in question is a decade old, and claimants have previously granted concessions to international energy companies to explore disputed areas (FMPRC press conference, May 14). Continue reading →
The 2003 Iraq war was triggered by a carefully orchestrated campaign of disinformation about Saddam Hussein’s alleged arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. As pressures mount on President Obama to save Iraq’s all-Shia minority government against an onslaught of extremist Sunni guerrillas, past murky history is worth recalling.
It was dinnertime at the Vice President’s house on Massachusetts Avenue eleven months before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The discussion centered on the need to get rid of Saddam Hussein‘s Sunni dictatorship in Iraq and replace it with a democratic government. This, in turn, would trigger democratic changes in Israel’s last hostile neighbor — Syria.On March 26, 1979, Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and President Jimmy Carter signed the first peace treaty between Israel and an Arab nation. And on Oct 26, 1994, the late King Hussein of Jordan became the 2nd Arab leader to sign peace with Israel, putting behind them 46 years of hostility.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction never came up once at VP Cheney’s dinner. An invasion, the participants agreed, would be designed to trigger a democratic process in Iraq, thus completing a peaceful Arab circle around Israel. Continue reading →
Iraq is on a precipice from which it may never recover. The fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, to forces ostensibly from the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), may simply be the tip of the iceberg. What has happened in Iraq increasingly appears not simply to be a binary struggle between government and insurgent, but rather a more complicated problem that may be impossible to fully unravel.
I drove from Tikrit through Beiji to Mosul earlier this year, and into Syria along the same roads ISIS and other insurgents now use. Even then, government control over Mosul was tenuous. Iraqi soldiers at checkpoints on the outskirts of town urged me and my driver to reconsider my trip because Mosul was not safe; they relented only because a local vouched for me. After all, while Tikrit was home to former President Saddam Hussein and his immediate entourage, Mosul was the hometown of much of Saddam Hussein’s officer corps. It still is. As I continued on to the Syrian border, a special security agent at a checkpoint separated me from my taxi driver and another man accompanying us to ensure that I was there of my own free will. A senior security official in Baghdad subsequently told me that was standard protocol. It also reflects, however, the lawlessness of that area. Continue reading →
Al Qaeda’s ultra-extremist Syrian offshoot known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is stepping up efforts to recruit Americans and other westerners for jihad in Syria and possibly for future domestic terror attacks, according to U.S. officials.
A new media outlet affiliated with ISIL recently began producing recruiting materials in both English and German that U.S. intelligence analysts say is a sign they are targeting western jihadists for recruitment.
It is the first time ISIL, one of the most prominent ultra-violent jihadists among Syria rebels groups, has set up a western-oriented media arm.
ISIL also is leading the major military operations now under way in Iran that has produced the group’s take over of several Iraqi cities, including Mosul, the second largest. Continue reading →
A suicide bomber who attacked an Iraqi army base last November was a Calgary business analyst who disappeared after his wife divorced him, friends said Wednesday amid rising concerns about the flow of Canadians to overseas terror groups.
Those who knew Salman Ashrafiin Calgary said they had lost all contact with him after he left Canada in late 2012. And now they know why: He apparently died seven months ago after detonating a car bomb north of Baghdad.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria posted his photo online in March, calling him Abu Abdullah Al Khorasani, but a Calgary Muslim community leader said the man was Ashrafi, a privileged Pakistani-Canadian.
“He seemed like a regular guy and he was one of those guys that actually had a career, had a wife,” the man said.