Islamic State Loots Archaeological Sites for Cash

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 4
February 20, 2015 11:15 AM Age: 2 days By: John C. K. Daly

Stolen funeral busts from Palmyra, one of Syria’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. (Source: Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums)

By late 2013, more than 90 percent of Syria’s cultural sites lay in regions affected by fighting and civil unrest, leaving them open to plunder. In addition, regions of Iraq now under the control of the Islamic State militant group and its allies include roughly 4,500 of Iraq’s 12,000 known archaeological sites. [1] UNESCO recently reported that the “armed extremists in Iraq” are targeting “cultural heritage, cultural and religious minorities, as well as the documents and written evidence of one of the oldest civilizations in human history” (al-Akhbar [Beirut], February 4). In addition to destroying the cultural heritage of Iraq and Syria, there is also evidence that such activities are providing an important revenue stream for the Islamic State. U.S. officials have estimated that up to $100 million worth of antiquities from Syria and Iraq are being sold off each year, a significant portion of which is likely to pass through the hands of the Islamic State (Wall Street Journal, February 10). Similarly, on February 13, a UK Conservative member of parliament, Tim Loughton, told the House of Commons that antique buyers in the West could be unwittingly “feeding insurgencies,” citing Iraqi intelligence claims that the Islamic State “had collected as much as $36 million from the sale of artifacts” (Daily Telegraph, February 13).

Syria

In late 2012, the Islamic State dramatically increased its financial income when it secured Syria’s eastern oilfields. However, due to the fall in oil prices and U.S.-led airstrikes on oil facilities in its territories, the antiquities trade has become an increasingly important source of Islamic State funds. In one recent media report, an Iraqi intelligence official was quoted as saying: “They [the Islamic State] had taken $36 million from al-Nabuk alone (an area in the Qalamoun Mountains west of Damascus). Continue reading

The Wolves of Zhurihe: China’s OPFOR Comes of Age

Publication: China Brief Volume: 15 Issue: 4

February 20, 2015 02:10 PM Age: 1 day By: Gary Li

The PLA’s “Stride” exercise in 2014, with “Blue Force” helicopters and “Red Force” ground forces. (Credit: China Military Online)

Between May 31 and July 28, 2014, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) began the annual large-scale exercise codenamed “Stride 2014.” The Stride exercises have been a regular occurrence, focusing largely on the rapid deployment of large field formations into unfamiliar territory and conducting confrontation drills. The 2014 version, however, was different in its scale, unit composition, intensity and the nature of the opponent the units faced. No fewer than seven of the PLA’s top brigades from seven different group armies (GA) were deployed to the Zhurihe Training Base in Inner Mongolia, under the Beijing Military Region. During the six confrontation exercises that followed, only one resulted in a victory for the visiting “Red Forces” (REDFOR), and at heavy cost. The drubbing received by the REDFOR actually reflects a new age in PLA training that is closely linked with the unit that taught them the lesson, China’s first dedicated opposing forces brigade (OPFOR). [1] Continue reading

Spreading Tentacles: The Islamic State in Bangladesh

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 3   February 6, 2015 11:08 AM

Samiun Rahman, a British man of Bangladeshi origin, was arrested due to his alledged involvement with recruting for terrorist organizations in Bangladesh (Source: Alamy).

Growing evidence suggests that the influence of the Islamic State organization has reached the South Asian, Muslim-majority country of Bangladesh. The country has long been home to small, but significant, numbers of radicals from both local militant groups, such as the Jama’at ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), the country’s most significant local jihadist group, and those linked to transnational jihadist formations, such as al-Qaeda. However, the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate and the promise of it’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to return to all Muslims their “dignity, might, rights and leadership” seem to have infused a renewed Islamist fervor within a section of Bangladeshi youths and among existing radical elements. [1]

Arrests Expose Militant Links

One of the clearest indications of this development came in late September 2014 when the government’s arrest of a British citizen of Bangladeshi origin, Samiun Rahman (a.k.a. Ibn Hamdan), who lived in the capital Dhaka’s Kamalapur area, unearthed an apparent Islamic State recruitment drive in the country (Daily Star [Dhaka], September 30, 2014). Continue reading

Morocco Bans Publications Reprinting French Cartoons

Sunday 11 January 2015 – 07:28

Morocco Bans Publications Reprinting French Cartoons

rabat – Morocco banned the distribution of foreign newspapers that have reprinted Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed.

Mustapha El Khalfi, Minister of Communications and Spokesperson of the Government said on Saturday that the government had rejected to offer distribution licenses to some foreign newspapers and magazines that had reprinted the offending cartoons, previously printed by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Continue reading

Murder in Paris, revolution in Egypt

By Herbert London, contributor

The former headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo w...

The former headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo weekly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The blood on the streets of Paris caused by Islamist gunmen is shocking and disturbing, but not surprising. Jihadists engaged in several prior attempts to shut down the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, a newspaper that lampoons Islam, among others. In fact, Charlie Hebdo was an equal opportunity satirist.

Most significant is the fact that this murderous act is consistent with Islamic law and the tenets of sharia, notwithstanding public commentary that denies this reality. What Charlie Hebdo printed, which led to the bloodshed, is the savage truth.

Curiously, the week before this incident, the president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, speaking before Al-Azhar University officials on the occasion of the prophet Mohammed’s upcoming birthday, offered a renewed vision of Islam, one that he insisted is necessary for Islam to coexist with the West and different traditions. In a sense, his words take on a certain poignancy because of the violence perpetrated against the Paris paper. Continue reading

Tackling Nuclear Terrorism In South Asia

Flag of India with Nuclear Power Plants, courtesy Truthout.org/flickr  Feroz Khan and Emily Burke believe that India and Pakistan need to cooperate more closely on countering the threat of nuclear terrorism. That means regular bilateral meetings between experts and leaders, exchanging radiation data, indefinitely extending all nuclear agreements, and more.

By Feroz Hassan Khan and Emily Burke for National Defense University Press

This article was originally published in Vol. 5, No. 1 (2014) of PRISM, a journal published by the Center for Complex Operations (CCO) at the National Defense University (NDU).

Since India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear tests in 1998, every danger associated with nuclear weapons – proliferation, instability, and terrorism – has been linked to the region. And despite nuclear deterrence and the modernization of nuclear forces, South Asia is a far cry from achieving stability. Indeed, the security situation in South Asia has deteriorated and violent extremism has surged to unprecedentedly high levels. In the past decades, both states have operationalized their nuclear deterrent forces, increased production of fissile material and nuclear delivery means, and developed plans to field a nuclear capable triad. Concurrently, both countries are expanding civilian nuclear facilities in their quests for a cleaner source of energy to combat current and future energy shortages. As tensions and violence in the region have increased, both states blame the other’s policy choices for the scourge of terrorism that has seized the region. New leadership in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan however, creates an opening to tackle the immediate scourge of violent extremist organizations and unresolved historic conflicts. Ironically the traditional stabilizing force in the region – the United States – is drawing down in Afghanistan and shifting its focus to the Asia-Pacific region and to Russia where new tensions have erupted. Within this security context, India and Pakistan will be left on their own to devise mechanisms to mitigate and eliminate the regional risk of terrorism. Continue reading

What Artificial Intelligence Is Not

Posted yesterday by (@robpecabu)
Editor’s note: Rob Smith is CEO of Pecabu.

Artificial Intelligence has been in the media a lot lately. So much so that it’s only a matter of time before it graduates to meaningless buzz word status like “big data” and “cloud.” Usually I would be a big supporter. Being in the AI space, any attention to our often overlooked industry is welcome. But there seems to be more misinformation out there than solid facts.

The general public seems to view AI as the mythical purple unicorn of technology; Elusive, powerful, mysterious, dangerous and most likely made up. And while there is plenty of debate in the scientific community, I can at least tell you what AI is definitely not. Continue reading

Mercyhurst University’s Tom Ridge School Hosts Fourth Global Intelligence Forum

English: Seal of the United States Department ...

English: Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

GlobeNewswire

 

ERIE, Pa., Dec. 16, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — From public health challenges like Ebola to the effect of climate change on food safety in the coming decades, international experts in public health, higher education, business and traditional intelligence will gather in Dungarvan, Ireland, for the fourth biennial Global Intelligence Forum — The Dungarvan Conference July 12-15, 2015.

 

Sponsored by the Tom Ridge School of Intelligence Studies and Information Science at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, the conference comes on the heels of highly successful summits that welcomed prominent intelligence leaders like Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; former CIA Director Michael V. Hayden; former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh; and Europol Director Rob Wainwright.

 

Panelists for this year’s expanded forum — “Intelligence-Informed Decision-Making to Build a More Secure Future” — will address how leaders can effectively establish intelligence practices to enhance decision-making as they address pressing global concerns.

 

Keynote speakers include one of the world’s leading experts on cybersecurity, Howard Schmidt, who served as cyber advisor to Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. He also held positions as vice president and chief information security officer for eBay Inc., and operated as chief security officer for Microsoft Corp. Currently, he is a partner with Tom Ridge in Ridge-Schmidt Cyber, an executive services firm that helps leaders in business and government navigate the increasing demands of cybersecurity. Continue reading

Gorbachev Regarding Putin: ‘He Thinks He Is Second Only To God’

Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev raised eyebrows this week while promoting his new book “After the Kremlin.” The 83-year-old told The Daily Mail that Russian President Vladimir Putin “thinks he [Putin] is second only to God.”

English: THE GRAND KREMLIN PALACE, MOSCOW. Vla...

English: THE GRAND KREMLIN PALACE, MOSCOW. Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and last President of the Soviet Union, at a party after the inauguration ceremony. Русский: МОСКВА, ГОСУДАРСТВЕННЫЙ КРЕМЛЕВСКИЙ ДВОРЕЦ. Торжественный прием по случаю вступления в должность Президента России. С экс-президентом СССР Михаилом Горбачевым. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“He has started picking up the same illness which I suffered from earlier – self-confidence,” states Gorbachev in the Daily Mail’s report, further warning Putin: “Don’t get a big head. That is what ruined me.”

Gorbachev lamented that former KGB spy Putin avoids substantial one-to-one meetings with the elder statesman.

“I need to participate, and I will. Nobody will shut my mouth, even though people wanted me to emigrate,” stated Gorbachev, who warned earlier this month of a possible new Cold War. Continue reading