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Showing posts from September, 2013

Preventive Security and the Washington Navy Yard Attack

By Paul Floyd

Much of the investigation into the deadly Sept. 16 shooting at the Washington Navy Yard will focus on the background of shooter Aaron Alexis to uncover any missed red flags that could have prevented the attack.

Alexis brought at least one firearm onto the post, which serves as a home for the chief of naval operations and various other command headquarters throughout the Navy and Marine Corps, and opened fire, ultimately wounding eight and killing 12 before being shot down by responding security personnel. The death toll makes this incident the second-deadliest military installation shooting in U.S. history after the Fort Hood shooting perpetrated by U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan in 2009.

In a city overlaid with multiple law enforcement agencies and overlapping jurisdictions, the FBI quickly assumed the lead in the investigation, taking the case away from the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service. This suggests terrorism was suspected and has not been entirely ruled o…

Al Shabaab: Not as New or Dangerous as the Press Thinks

By Scott Stewart

The prolonged armed assault launched against Nairobi's Westgate Mall by al Shabaab gunmen has brought much attention to the group and the tactic it has employed. When looking at the Nairobi attack, however, it is important to understand that al Shabaab is not some new entity, armed assaults are not a new tactic and the Westgate Mall attack is not an indication that the group poses some sort of deadly new transnational threat.

Al Shabaab has a long history of insurgent and terrorist operations in the region, and it has long possessed the ability to conduct such an attack in Nairobi. What the Westgate Mall attack truly reflects is a change in intent on behalf of al Shabaab's leadership, rather than a change in the group's capability. This change of intent was a result of changes in the group's strategic footing in Somalia.
Al Shabaab

While the world's attention has just now been drawn to al Shabaab, it is not by any means a new militant entity in East Af…

Rebel Infighting in Syria

Actions by the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham are fueling discord among the rebel groups fighting in Syria. The group said Sept. 23 that its takeover of Azaz, a town near the Bab al-Salam border crossing with Turkey that had been held by Free Syrian Army rebels, on Sept. 20 was motivated by the Free Syrian Army's desire to install democracy in Syria and create close ties to the West.

Rebel infighting in Syria is not new. Indeed, the disparate natures of the rebel groups have ensured considerable friction between the groups related to conflict over power, territory, resources and ideology. With the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham, however, rebel infighting has gradually intensified and has measurably affected the broader rebel fight against the Syrian regime. On occasion over the past few months, rebel units from various factions have elected to leave the front line fighting against government forces to protect their territory against other encroaching rebel groups.…

Protests in Sudan

Violent protests against the Sudanese government that began Sept. 22 in response to a government decision to cut fuel subsidies continued following noon prayers on Sept. 27. While previous protests in Sudan have been limited mainly to Khartoum and its environs, the current round of demonstrations has expanded beyond the capital and has reached a higher level of violence than prior cases of similar unrest. On Sept. 27, the heaviest protests were witnessed early in the day in the city of Medani, 160 kilometers (100 miles) southeast of Khartoum, where protests originally erupted on Sept. 22.

Ahead of Friday prayers, the Sudanese government reinforced security in the capital by airlifting military forces from across Sudan into Khartoum overnight. These forces have deployed along the main bridges, around the presidential palace and main mosques, as well as in areas near the international airport in south Khartoum that have seen large protests over the past few days.

The response of the secur…

U.S. Naval Update Map: Sept. 26, 2013

The Naval Update Map shows the approximate current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups, based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update. CSGs and ARGs are the keys to U.S. dominance of the world's oceans. A CSG is centered on an aircraft carrier, which projects U.S. naval and air power and supports a Carrier Air Wing, or CVW. The CSG includes significant offensive strike capability. An ARG is centered on three amphibious warfare ships, with a Marine Expeditionary Unit embarked. An MEU is built around a heavily reinforced and mobile battalion of Marines.
Carrier Strike Groups
The USS Nimitz CSG with Carrier Air Wing 11 embarked is conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR.
The USS Harry S. Truman CSG with Carrier Air Wing 3 embarked is underway in the U.S. 5th Fleet

AOR supporting maritime security opera…

Living In Danger: The Secret Life Of Edward Snowden

By Staff WritersNews Limited Network

September 25, 2013 - "" -
 US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden is living under guard at a secret address in Russia and sometimes emerges in disguise, although he remains in such danger that even a family visit could endanger his security, his lawyer said.

Snowden has avoided all contact with media since arriving in Russia on a flight from Hong Kong in June and his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena has become his unofficial spokesman.

"I am his only link with the outside world at the moment. Even his contacts with his parents are carried out through me," Kucherena said in an interview published in Itogi weekly magazine.

Kucherena gave few details of how Snowden occupies his time, but said he is able to go out in disguise.

"He would walk past you and you wouldn't recognise him," he told Itogi. "It's a question of clothes and small alternations to his appearance. So I'm not deceiving anyone: he really does…

Central Asia After the U.S. Drawdown in Afghanistan


Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series on the relationship between Central Asia and Afghanistan and the expected effects of the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan on Central Asian security. Click here for Part 1.

The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan reversed the Taliban's takeover in many parts of the country. The resulting geographic shift in support for militant groups led to a degradation of Central Asian militants' capabilities. However, the resurgence of the Taliban after the U.S. drawdown in 2014 could increase volatility in the region. The links between Central Asia and Afghanistan -- particularly northern Afghanistan -- can be expected to intensify in the coming years. This will have important political and security implications for the region and beyond.


The Taliban's series of successes ended when the United States invaded Afghanistan following the Sept. 11 attacks by al Qaeda. The U.S. invasion, facilitated by the support of…

In Kenya Attack, Al Shabaab Shows Shifting Intent


An attack over the weekend by Somali militant group al Shabaab on an upscale shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is the largest such act attributed to the group in more than three years and is likely the result of shifting intentions on the part of its leadership after a tumultuous period of infighting. The attack on the Westgate Mall --- which began around noon on Sept. 21 and has reportedly left more than 70 people dead -- will likely trigger retaliatory strikes by Kenyan security forces inside al Shabaab strongholds in neighboring Somalia as well as riots or reprisals against Somalis living in the Eastleigh district of Nairobi.

More than 48 hours from the start of the attack, several gunmen remain barricaded in the mall, and Kenyan security forces backed by foreign advisers are attempting to bring the situation under control. Al Shabaab has not successfully carried out an attack of this magnitude since 2010, when suicide bombers sent by the group killed 74 people in Kampala, Ug…

Heavy gunfire heard in Nairobi shopping mall

Major assault launched to free hostages held by al-Shabab fighters in mall where at least 68 people have been killed. Heavy gunfire has been heard coming from inside Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall as security forces launch an assault against al-Shabab fighters holding hostages inside.
Kenyan security forces claimed on Sunday to have rescued most of the hostages, but an unknown number remain trapped inside.
Armed men belonging to the Somali group had stormed the Westgate shopping centre on Sunday using grenades and assault rifles. The attack left at least 68 people dead and more than 150 wounded, according to the Red Cross.
Col. Cyrus Oguna, a military spokesman, told Al Jazeera that most of the hostages had been released, though he did not provide an exact number. "Most of them were dehydrated and suffering from shock," Oguna said, adding that four Kenyan soldiers were injured in the rescue operation.
Al-Shabab spokesman Abu Omar talks to Al Jazeera about the siege Keny…

In Zapad Exercises, Russia Flexes its Military Strength


The upcoming joint military drills between Russia and Belarus will be Moscow's latest demonstration to its periphery and to the West that it remains a viable power in the region. The two countries will conduct their Zapad exercises from Sept. 20-26, the first time since such drills have been held since 2009. These exercises are significant from both a military and political perspective, and are occurring at a time when tensions are rising between Russia and Belarus on one side and Poland and the Baltic states on the other. The Zapad drills, combined with NATO's Steadfast Jazz drills to be held in the Baltic states in November, highlight the security and military pressures in the region, which have steadily grown in recent years.


The last Zapad exercises were held in September 2009 and involved a total of 15,000 Russian soldiers and navy servicemen, as well as 6,500 Belarusian troops. The equipment deployed included tanks, armored fighting vehicles, and artiller…

Zimbabwe's Diamond Industry

The European Union announced Sept. 17 that sanctions against the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp., whose diamonds have long buoyed President Robert Mugabe's regime, will be lifted. The decision to lift the sanctions on the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp. was driven by several countries in pursuit of various national interests. Belgium, for example, has been the EU member most ardently in favor of removing the restrictions, likely because it has long been a global center for the diamond cutting and polishing trade. The country may be hoping to gain an upper hand in the market for Zimbabwean diamonds, the trade of which, despite the sanctions, has continued heavily in several global cutting centers, from Europe to India to Israel.

The push to ease sanctions was also in line with the broader goal in the West, including the United States and the United Kingdom, of engaging the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front in a more productive manner. The European Union likely reco…

Somalia: Tactical Shifts Mark an Internal Struggle for al Shabaab


Editor's Note: In light of the recent attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi by militants with alleged links to al Shabaab, Stratfor is republishing an Aug. 27 analysis on the tactical shifts taking place within the group as its leadership struggles to manage limited resources. Look for further situational reports and analysis on the ongoing developments in Nairobi.

As Somali security forces continue expanding their reach, al Shabaab has remained a capable force that controls limited territory and conducts operations in areas of southern Somalia. Though the militant group continues its insurgency against government forces and African Union peacekeepers, it has changed the way it conducts attacks. These changes emerged after the so-called "Godane coup" in June, when al Shabaab supreme leader Abu Zubayr, also known as Ahmad Abdi Godane, removed dissident leaders in order to tighten his control of the group. Tactical shifts could signal a change in the management of …

Look With Your Own Eyes: The Videos of the Chemical Attacks in Syria Show Tampered Scenes

The videos presented by the US Intelligence Community as evidence have staged scenes. Simple observations of the videos can verify this. This is exactly what a recent and modest study did.
A detailed independent  report by Mother Agnes Mariam de la Croix and the International Support Team for Mussalaha in Syria (ISTEAMS) makes some important observations about what happened in the Damascene suburb of East Ghouta on August 21, 2013.
The independent ISTEAMS study contradicts the assertions of the Obama Administration and the entire US Intelligence Community—a gargantuan network of sixteen different intelligence agencies that includes the standalone Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the US Depart of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and the Pentagon’s National Security Agency (NSA)—through simple observations of the video material that has been put forward as evidence by the United States.
The ISTEAMS report does not deny that chemical weapons were used or that innocent…

Canada’s Use of Chemical Weapons

Somewhere in the Lester B. Pearson Building, Canada’s foreign affairs headquarters, must be a meeting room with the inscription “The World Should Do as We Say, Not As We Do” or perhaps “Hypocrites ‘R Us.”

With the Obama administration beating the war drums, Canadian officials are demanding a response to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of the chemical weapon sarin.

Last week Prime Minister Stephen Harper claimed “if it is not countered, it will constitute a precedent that we think is very dangerous for humanity in the long term” while for his part Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird declared: “If it doesn’t get a response it’s an open invitation for people, for Assad in Syria, or elsewhere to use these types of weapons that they’ve by and large refrained from doing since the First World War.” The Conservatives also signed Canada onto a White House statement claiming: “The international norm against the use of chemical weapons is longstanding and universal.”

While one may wish this were th…