Barbarians at the Gates of Baghdad

How long can Iraq’s besieged forces hold out against the Islamic State?

BY Susannah George OCTOBER 21, 2014

BAGHDAD Speaking from a base besieged by Islamic State fighters, a police lieutenant in Anbar province painted a grim picture of the Iraqi government‘s faltering hold on this restive western region. Surrounded on all sides, he expects the jihadi group to be within firing range any day now.

Sitting just to the west of Hit, a small town along a key highway connecting the city of Haditha to Anbar’s provincial capital of Ramadi, al-Asad is the largest military base in Anbar and one of just two that remain in government control. Last week, after first attacking the eastern edge of Hit with suicide bombers, Islamic State militants overran the town. The United Nations says the ensuing clashes displaced more than 180,000 people. Continue reading

Gulf of Aden Security Review – October 16, 2014

Original caption:Iraqi Police discovered this ...

Original caption:Iraqi Police discovered this improvised explosive device Nov. 7 (2005) in eastern Baghdad and disarmed it before it could be detonated in a terrorist attack. Army photo. The IED comprises 4 large artillery shells plus an anti-tank mine, all connected together via detonating cord. This would cause the 5 devices to detonate simultaneously. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yemen: Ansar al Sharia militants target al Houthis in Ibb and al Bayda; AQAP militants attack military checkpoint in Hadramawt; tribes protest al Houthi control in Ibb

Horn of Africa: Al Shabaab militants detonate fourth VBIED in Mogadishu in as many days; al Shabaab militants ambush AMISOM forces in Lower Shabelle and Banadir regions; unidentified assailants target Mandera governor’s convoy with IED in Kenya’s North Eastern Province

Yemen Security Brief

  • Ansar al Sharia temporarily seized control of Udain, Ibb on October 16, killing five policemen and setting fire to multiple government buildings before withdrawing from the city. The group later claimed the attack was an attempt to thwart al Houthi control over the city. Separately, al Houthi gunmen continued to clash with AQAP militants in Rada’a, al Bayda, west of Ibb, on October 16, resulting in the deaths of 12 people.[1] Continue reading

European police begin controversial hunt for thousands of ‘irregular’ migrants

By Sarah Joanne Taylor 13/10 16:57 CET

European police begin controversial hunt for thousands of ‘irregular’ migrants

A Europe-wide police operation has been launched in an effort to detect, detain and potentially deport tens of thousands of so-called “irregular” migrants; people living clandestinely, without official documentation permitting them to stay.

Coordinated by Italy, the 14-day Operation Mos Maiorum will see some 20,000 police officers from 25 countries stake out railway stations, bus depots and motorways throughout the continent.

It is a controversial move. While Europeqn Union officials say the operation is integral to the combat of human smuggling rings, rights groups have denounced it as inhumane. Continue reading

Iran’s “Political Prisoner Cleansing”

Iran News Round Up September 29, 2014

English: Army of the Guardians of the Islamic ...

English: Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution & Islamic Republic of Iran Army used many zu-23 in Iran-iraq war. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by AEI Critical Threats Project Iran Analyst Mehrdad Moarefian and Iran Intern Amir Toumaj, with contributors Chris Rawlins, Diana Timmerman, and Marie Donovan.

 (E) = Article in English

Military and Security

  • Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Air Force Commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Haji Zadeh said:
    • On Iran’s downing of an Israeli Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV): “After this action, some large countries sent us messages of congratulations… the Israeli aircraft did not post information online; but the information was stored in it, so by destroying it,  [the UAV] did not send any information.”
    • “This is a spy plane, and usually countries do not comment on these UAVs, but given what we know of them in Syria and in some other places such as Karabakh, we are already familiar with this type of aircraft…”
    • “Fighter aircraft are created for carrying out military operations and targeting certain parts of the country, and if we can discover them, we can see the damage; but the spy planes are primarily small and secretive… detection, interception, and destruction of these aircraft is very, very difficult.” (Sepah News) Continue reading

UK : Government donation to Muslim Charities Forum denounced as “madness”

An £18,000 grant to a charity coalition with alleged ties to terrorist organisations has been brandished “completely counter-intuitive” by interfaith groups
Egypt presidential election: Muslim Brotherhood win sets up army fight

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi celebrate in Tahrir Square, Egypt Photo: EPA

A government department donated £18,000 to a charity coalition with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group whose activities Britain has vowed to curtail following concerns over their extremist links in the Middle East, it has been claimed.

Last week the Telegraph revealed that the government was set to impose curbs on Muslim Brotherhood-linked organisations after a report by a senior diplomat exposed its ties with Islamist armed groups in Middle East and elsewhere.

Yet a Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) spending report shows they donated £18,397 earlier this year to the Muslim Charities Forum (MCF), an umbrella group for a number of leading Islamist charities, some of which allegedly have links to the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and other terrorist organisations.

David Cameron ordered an urgent investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood’s alleged role in violent extremism in April, after Gulf allies put pressure on the government to curtail the movement’s London-based operations. Continue reading

New jihad appeal makes policing even harder

Soldiers patrol at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014. Frenchman Herve Gourdel, 55,  was abducted in Algeria on Monday by a splinter group from al-Qaida's North African branch. The Jund al-Khilafah, or Soldiers of the Caliphate, said it would kill him unless France halts it airstrikes in Iraq within 24 hours. French forces on Friday joined the U.S. in carrying out airstrikes against extremists who have overrun large areas of Syria and Iraq. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

PARIS (AP) — The Islamic State group’s call on Muslims to go after the “filthy French” and other Westerners multiplies already deep security concerns in nations targeting the militant organization.

The appeal made public Monday makes intelligence tracking of potential suspects virtually impossible and opens up Muslims in the West to the possibility of being unfairly put under suspicion or stigmatized.

Nations are honing mechanisms to monitor Westerners who head to Syria and Iraq to fight in the jihad, the better to catch them when they return home with deadly skills. But how do you track someone who reads the Islamic State group’s call in a newspaper or on a mainstream website, and then carries out a spontaneous attack? Continue reading

Scottish companies lead market rally after No vote

Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland surged three per cent while energy provider SSE, Glasgow-based engineer Weir and Standard Life were up by around two per cent in early trading. Picture: Getty

Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland surged three per cent while energy provider SSE, Glasgow-based engineer Weir and Standard Life were up by around two per cent in early trading. Picture: Getty

by JANE BRADLEY

SCOTTISH companies led the way in a market rally as the Scottish independence vote was quashed and investors ruled out a flurry of headquarters relocations in the financial sector.

Shares in Royal Bank of Scotland surged three per cent while energy provider SSE, Glasgow-based engineer Weir and Standard Life were up by around two per cent in early trading.

RBS, along with rival Lloyds Banking Group and insurance firm Standard Life, had indicated that it would consider a move south if Scotland opted to split from the United Kingdom. Continue reading

ISIS cyber capability judged more ‘aspirational’ than operational

By Sean Lyngaas  Sep 17, 2014

Shutterstock image: unfunctional computer.ISIS terrorists have announced their intention to establish a “digital caliphate” for launching attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure.

Interviews with cybersecurity experts and questions posed to public officials reveal an assessment of the cyber warfare capabilities of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that, while potentially dangerous, remains more aspirational than operational.

It is common for a terrorist group like ISIS to develop cyber capabilities to complement their ambitions to carry out violent attacks, experts say. But being slick with social media is a world apart from being able to hack segments of U.S. critical infrastructure.

ISIS terrorists have said online that they aim to establish a “digital caliphate” for launching attacks on U.S. infrastructure, according to a Sept. 14 Fox News report. Doing so might prove difficult, but it wouldn’t cost much to begin probing networks. One could buy a tablet for a few hundred dollars, set up some encryption tools and start running vulnerability analyses of code used by critical infrastructure like the electric grid, said Tony Cole, vice president and global government CTO at FireEye, a network security firm. Continue reading

Coming to Grips with Terrorism in Egypt a Year after the Raba’a Square Massacre

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 17
September 5, 2014 10:36 AM Age: 10 days

Raba’a Square during the dispersal of Mursi supporter sit-ins (Source: Wikipedia user AMGS07)

Before the June 30, 2013 coup that overthrew Muhammad Mursi, Egypt’s first civilian elected president, terrorist operations in Egypt were far fewer in number and scale, focusing mainly on blowing up gas pipelines supplying Egyptian gas to neighboring Israel. However, after the violent crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood supporters orchestrated by then-Defense Minister Abd al-Fatah al-Sisi in the summer of 2013, radicalism became viewed as the only means of expressing critical views of the political system.

This rise in terrorism enabled al-Sisi to strike fear amongst grassroots Egyptians and pose as a national savior despite excluding all peaceful ways of dissent and arguably provoking much of the violence that followed the Raba’a, Nahda and the Abu Zaabal massacres in 2013. Continue reading