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Showing posts from September 30, 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…