Pakistan

Islamic State Claims 71 ‘Trained Soldiers’ In ‘Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, California, And Michigan’ Plus 10 Other States?

“The next six months will be interesting.”

So claims a threat attributed to the Islamic State posted on anonymous message board JustPasteIt, per Sasha Goldstein and Jason Silverstein over on the Daily News (New York City) website late last night. From the message entitled “The New Era”:

The attack by the Islamic State in America is only the beginning of our efforts to establish a wiliya in the heart of our enemy…

We have 71 trained soldiers in 15 different states ready at our word to attack any target we desire. Out of the 71 trained soldiers 23 have signed up for missions like Sunday. We are increasing in number bithnillah. Of the 15 states, 5 we will name… Virginia, Maryland, Illinois, California, and Michigan…

“Illinois.” Yet another list we’d really prefer not to be on.

According to various sources on the Internet, “wiliya” (“wilayah”) means “province,” and “bithnillah” (“bi’ithnillah”) can be translated as meaning “with the permission of Allah.” The post was signed “Abu Ibrahim Al Ameriki,” a U.S.-born terrorist with the group.

Last August, I blogged about a Twitter post supposedly connected with the Islamic State which contained a photo of the Old Republic Building, 307 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, along with the following:

#AmessagefromISIStoUS

We are in your state
We are in your cities
We are in your streets
You are our goals anywhere.

In that same August 27, 2014, post, I noted retired General Michael Hayden, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, had just told CNN’s Jim Sciutto in an interview:

HAYDEN: Well, Jim, you’ve outlined it perfectly. This is a question of timing. Not of inevitability. Not of intent. And right now, I think it’s fair to say, that ISIS is very powerful local terrorist organization, and probably a reasonably powerful regional terrorist organization. But it’s one that has global ambitions. And it has the tools, as you suggested. American passport holders, European passport holders. It’s expressed the intent. And so, if it’s not Tuesday, it’s at a time and place of their choosing. And will come probably sooner rather than later. Look, they’re in a competition now with Al-Qaeda Prime, folks along the Afghan-Pakistani border, and there’s no way more powerful to express their street credentials among the jihadist community than a successful attack against the West.
SCIUTTO: So, to be clear, you’re saying it’s just a matter of time before ISIS attempts to attack or attacks the U.S. homeland?
HAYDEN: I think so…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Goldstein, Sasha and Silverstein, Jason. “ISIS threatens anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller in message boasting of ’71 trained soldiers in 15 different states’” Daily News. 5 May 2015. (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/isis-appears-threaten-pamela-geller-claims-militants-article-1.2211913). 6 May 2015.

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Jim Rogers On Best Ways To Invest In Agriculture

On Monday, I blogged about well-known investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers and his steadfast belief that agriculture is where big money will be made in the future.

Late last night I was on the website of the Wall Street Daily website listening to an interview of Rogers that was conducted by Robert Williams, founder of the Baltimore, Maryland-based investment research/market commentary service. Considering what I just wrote, it was what the commodities “guru” had to say about the best ways to invest in agriculture that grabbed my attention. From their exchange:

WILLIAMS: Jim, what’s the most effective route into agriculture for our readers interested in playing this long-term bull market?

ROGERS: Well, there are many ways to do it. The best way is to buy a farm- become a farmer if you really want to get rich because I explained before, some of the serious, serious, key fundamental problems in agriculture. So if you like the outdoors, if you think you’d be good at it, you might consider becoming a farmer.

Now most of your readers are probably not going to become farmers, but that’s the way. Or buy a farm and lease it to a farmer- somebody who’s competent. You can buy stocks. Certainly you can buy stocks. If you buy the right stocks- seed companies, fertilizer companies, or whatever- you’ll make a lot of money.

You can buy countries. Some countries are more agriculturally-oriented than others. Pakistan is a country that lives and dies on cotton more than anything else. So it depends on the country.

If you’re going to buy a lake house, I would buy my lake house in Oklahoma, not in Massachusetts, because stocks are at all-time highs. And we just discussed what’s been happening in commodities. So lake houses in Oklahoma or Nebraska are probably a lot cheaper than in Massachusetts. You can get a Lamborghini dealership in Iowa, because the farmers are going to be driving Lamborghinis, in my view, in the future.

Or you can buy- for most people, obviously the best way is to buy an index. Many studies have shown that index investing is far and away the best way to invest in anything- stocks, bonds, currencies, commodities, anything else. And there are plenty of exchange-traded products where it makes it very easy these days to invest in commodities.

On buying a lake house in Oklahoma or Nebraska, the former investing partner of George Soros said something similar in an May 23, 2003, interview on the Wall $treet Week with FORTUNE TV program. Nailing the U.S. housing bubble a couple years before it burst, Rogers talked property (with an eye towards natural resources) with co-anchor Karen Gibbs. From the interview:

GIBBS: How about real estate?

ROGERS: Well, real estate, Karen, depends on where you are. There is a mania, a housing bubble going on. But if you’re going to buy a second home, buy a lake house in Iowa, because Iowa is a natural-resources-based state. I’m bullish on agriculture. I’m bullish on natural resources. So houses in Iowa will probably do well. Don’t buy it in Boston. Boston is a financial town. I’m not that optimistic on financial companies or financial areas. So buy in Oklahoma, buy in Colorado, buy in states where the economy is going to get better. Stay away from places like New York and Boston — where I live — because real estate there will probably not do well.

In a Barron’s interview that appeared on the publication’s website on October 12, 2013 (blogged about here), the Singapore-based investor who correctly-called the commodity bull market that began in 1999 expanded:

I could buy farmland and become a farmer—although I would be hopeless at it—or buy farmland and lease it out. Buy shares in farms, farm equipment, fertilizer and seed companies that trade on exchanges around the world. Stock markets in agriculture-producing countries should do better than those in agriculture-importing ones. Retailers, restaurants, banks in agricultural areas will do well. Buy a vacation home on a lake in Iowa, not Massachusetts.

Good stuff. You can listen to/read (transcript provided) that recent Wall Street Daily interview on their website here. And for a trip down memory lane, that Wall $treet Week with FORTUNE exchange here.

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Thursday, December 11th, 2014 Agriculture, Banking, Bubbles, Business, Commodities, Exchange-Traded Funds, Housing, Investing, Middle East, Natural Resources, Stocks Comments Off on Jim Rogers On Best Ways To Invest In Agriculture

Marc Faber: ‘The Gold Market Has Bottomed-Out’

Well-known investment advisor/money manager Marc Faber was on the FOX Business show Opening Bell last Wednesday. Speaking by phone, the publisher of the monthly investment newsletter The Gloom Boom & Doom Report was asked by host Maria Bartiromo about the geopolitical instability going on and investing in such an environment. From their exchange:

BARTIROMO: Mark, what do you think? What would you be doing right now as an investor?
FABER: Well, basically, I always own some shares. Most of my shareholdings are in Asia… In Asia, the Indian market is up 22 percent year-to-date. The Thai market is up 20 percent in dollar terms. Jakarta is up 24 percent. Philippines up 18 percent. Karachi up 17. Ho Chi Min up 17.
BARTIROMO: So you want to continue to stay exposed to Asia then and not the U.S.?
FABER: Yes. Yes. I worry about the geopolitical tensions, and they have an impact on Vietnam. But I think all the Asian countries are so China-centric that there won’t be a military conflict. There’ll be rattling and disputes and so forth. But the U.S. doesn’t have the power to really wage a war in Asia. That we have to be very clear about.
BARTIROMO: Mark, very quickly, the bottom line on the U.S.- do you think we’re going to see a sell-off this year?
FABER: Yes.
BARTIROMO: How significant?
FABER: As I told you before, I would own some gold, because I think the gold market has bottomed-out. Year-to-date, the junior gold mining index is up 40 percent.


“How geopolitical issues could derail the markets”
FOX Business Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Monday, August 18th, 2014 Asia, Commodities, Crash Prophets, Emerging Markets, Foreign Policy, Investing, Stocks, War Comments Off on Marc Faber: ‘The Gold Market Has Bottomed-Out’

Al-Qaeda Poised To Strike U.S.?

“Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al-Qaeda has been decimated…”

-U.S. President Barack Obama, while campaigning in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on November 1, 2012

Not only is Al-Qaeda alive and well according to some former Pentagon officials and counter-terrorism analysts who just appeared before Congress, but there’s even chatter of the Muslim extremists possibly striking the “homeland” not too far off in the distance. Barbara Starr, CNN’s Pentagon Correspondent, reported on the TV news station’s website Wednesday:

A series of al Qaeda-based threats to attack American and Western targets in Europe, as well as threats to launch attacks inside the United States, has caused significant concern inside the U.S. intelligence community, CNN has learned…

U.S. officials as well as analysts have long said they believe al Qaeda is focused on attacking outside the United States because of the difficulty in penetrating U.S. homeland security. But these latest threat streams suggest domestic U.S. targets also continue to be looked at by al Qaeda.

Worry No. 1: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

One of the biggest concerns right now remains efforts by Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack inside Yemen, in Europe and inside the United States

While it’s believed AQAP is mainly focused on targeting inside of Yemen, officials say an attempt to attack inside the United States or to recruit others to carry out such an attack cannot be ruled out.

Worry No. 2: Core group in Pakistan

Separately, still another official confirms to CNN that the core al Qaeda group in Pakistan is also seeking to place operatives in places to attack U.S. targets overseas and domestically

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

On the topic of “core” Al-Qaeda, Rob Crilly reported on the website of The Telegraph (UK) Wednesday:

Al-Qaeda is not a spent force in Afghanistan and is using a shadow army to hide its true strength, according to testimony presented by former Pentagon officials and counter-terrorism analysts to a US Congressional committee.

Thomas Joscelyn, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies, said Osama bin Laden’s heirs had successfully hidden their strength as they spread their influence throughout the Middle East.

As a result, Afghanistan risks becoming a terrorist haven once again when Nato-led combat troops leave the country this year.

His evidence contradicts repeated claims that the movement had been “decimated” – particularly in Afghanistan – and Barack Obama’s public assessment earlier this year that its current leaders were junior varsity basketball players dressed up as superstars of the NBA after replacing senior commanders killed in drone strikes or other actions.

“Part of the reason these assessments have been flawed is that al-Qaeda has a ‘deep bench’ to draw from, both from within its own organisation and allied groups,” said Mr Joscelyn, pointing out the secrecy of the movement’s structure and personnel.

“Al-Qaeda is constantly in the process of recruiting new talent as well.”

Other witnesses gave similar evidence to the House of Representatives subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade on Tuesday.

David Sedney, former deputy assistant defence secretary, said focusing on the core al-Qaeda leadership missed the bigger strategic picture, which showed the group as decentralised.

“My view is that al-Qaeda, despite our tactical counter-terrorism successes, continues to be a major strategic threat to the United States and its allies,” he said. “Tomorrow, al-Qaeda will be an even greater threat because of its ongoing evolutions.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

One of these days, I’m convinced Al-Qaeda, an affiliate, or sympathizer(s) is going to launch another attack inside the United States.

It would be a real shame if the U.S. counter-terrorism apparatus underestimates the threat posed by present-day Al-Qaeda.

To think of this jihadist movement as “decimated” may be committing a huge strategic blunder that could come back to haunt America down the road.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Starr, Barbara. “Stream of al Qaeda threats has U.S. intelligence concerned.” CNN.com. 21 May 2014. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/20/us/al-qaeda-threats-intelligence/). 23 May 2014.

Crilly, Rob. “Al-Qaeda ‘not defeated’ in Afghanistan.” The Telegraph. 21 May 2014. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/10846151/Al-Qaeda-not-defeated-in-Afghanistan.html). 23 May 2014.

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Friday, May 23rd, 2014 Europe, Foreign Policy, Government, Middle East, Public Safety, Religion, Terrorism, War Comments Off on Al-Qaeda Poised To Strike U.S.?

Al-Qaeda Still Desires To Kidnap Americans, Other Westerners

“Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan and encourage kidnappings of U.S. citizens and Westerners…”

-U.S. Department of State website, “Worldwide Caution” last updated April 10, 2014

Al-Qaeda is desperate to kidnap Americans. Reuters reported Saturday:

The al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has called on Muslims to kidnap westerners, particularly Americans, who could then be exchanged for jailed jihadists including a blind Egyptian cleric convicted in 1995 of conspiring to attack the United Nations and other New York landmarks.

In a wide-ranging audio interview, the al-Qaida leader expressed solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is facing a violent crackdown by the army-backed government in Egypt, and urged unity among rebels in their fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the Zawahiri tape, but the voice resembled that of the al-Qaida leader.

“I ask Allah the Glorious to help us set free Dr Omar Abdel-Rahman and the rest of the captive Muslims, and I ask Allah to help us capture from among the Americans and the westerners to enable us to exchange them for our captives,” said Zawahiri, according to the Site website monitoring service…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Regular observers of the terrorist group will point out this isn’t the first time the Al-Qaeda leadership has called for the kidnapping of “Westerners.” Chelsea Carter reported on the CNN website back on October 28, 2012:

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is calling on Muslims to kidnap Westerners, citing the success in the abduction of American aid worker Warren Weinstein in Pakistan.

In a two-part, more than two-hour video posted on jihadist websites, al-Zawahiri called for the abductions as part of a vow not to “spare any efforts” to free Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

“God the great and almighty granted us success to capture the Jewish American Warren Weinstein,” al-Zawahiri said in the video posted Wednesday, according to the terror monitoring group SITE Intelligence.

“We are seeking, by the help of God, to capture others and to incite Muslims to capture the citizens of the countries that are fighting Muslims in order to release our captives.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Traveling abroad anytime soon? It’s probably wise to exercise a good deal of situational awareness and take a number of other precautions before and during the trip.


“STRATFOR: How to Travel Safely – Tips from a Former Agent”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“Al-Qaida leader urges kidnapping of westerners to exchange for jihadists.” Reuters. 26 Apr. 2014. (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/26/al-qaida-ayman-zawahiri-kidnapping-westerners). 28 Apr. 2014.

Carter, Chelsea. “Al Qaeda leader calls for kidnapping of Westerners.” CNN.com. 28 Oct. 2012. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/27/world/asia/al-qaeda-kidnap-threat/). 28 Apr. 2014.

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Monday, April 28th, 2014 Crime, Middle East, Preparedness, Religion, Terrorism, Travel, War Comments Off on Al-Qaeda Still Desires To Kidnap Americans, Other Westerners

U.S. Special Ops Chief Warns Of ‘Broader Threat’ From Al-Qaeda

U.S. Navy Admiral William McRaven, commander of Special Operations Command (SOCOM), talked to the House Armed Services Committee last Thursday about the threat of terrorism posed by Al-Qaeda. SOCOM is charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Component Commands of the various braches of the U.S. armed forces. Admiral McRaven warned:

Core Al-Qaeda has gotten markedly weaker. The threat that was emanating out of the federally-administrated tribal areas with the support of other government agencies and the support of the Pakistanis- we have really decimated the core Al-Qaeda. So I would tell you, that threat is significantly decreased.

But of course, what we’ve seen is the franchise elements begin to pop up… So these franchises are beginning to grow up. However, having said that, I think what we see is a broader threat. But the high-end piece that we saw from Al-Qaeda is not as prevalent as it used to be.

So the threat is metastasizing. It is much more broad. But I would tell you that the threat to the homeland- with one or two exceptions- is less today than it was certainly five or ten years ago when core Al-Qaeda was stronger.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

I did a quick search on the Internet this morning for those “one or two exceptions,” but found nothing. Wish Admiral McRaven could have elaborated on these in the interest of public safety.


“Special Ops Chief: Threat From al Qaeda is ‘Much More Broad’ Today”
YouTube Video

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 Foreign Policy, Government, Middle East, Military, Public Safety, Religion, Terrorism, War Comments Off on U.S. Special Ops Chief Warns Of ‘Broader Threat’ From Al-Qaeda

Iran Can Now Produce Enough Weapons-Grade Uranium To Build A Nuclear Weapon Within 2 Weeks?

“Despite what this White House or its predecessors have repeatedly told the American people, it’s my belief that Iran will soon have nuclear weapons (barring military intervention by us or our allies).”

-Christopher E. Hill, Survival And Prosperity, January 20, 2011

There’s been plenty of talk lately that Iran may be able to produce enough weapons-grade uranium soon to build themselves a nuclear weapon.

To be fair, the prospect of the Iranians carrying out this achievement is something that keeps popping up in the news on a regular basis.

Still, I stand by that initial statement.

And here’s the latest chatter about the Islamic Republic of Iran getting their weapons-grade uranium and nuke. On October 5, AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace interviewed U.S. President Barack Obama on a wide range of topics. One of those was Iran. From their exchange:

Q: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week that Iran is about six months away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon. You said in March, before your trip to Israel, that you thought Iran was a year or more away. What’s the U.S. intelligence assessment at this point on that timetable?

THE PRESIDENT: Our assessment continues to be a year or more away.

U.S. intelligence on an Iranian nuclear weapon? One year.

On October 25, Oren Dorell reported on the USA TODAY website:

Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb in as little as a month, according to a new estimate by one of the USA’s top nuclear experts.

The top nuclear expert Dorell was referring to was David Albright, president of Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Science and International Security and a former inspector for the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency. From the non-profit, non-partisan ISIS in an October 24, 2013, summary for their report entitled “Iranian Breakout Estimates, Updated September 2013”:

We evaluated a range of breakout scenarios based on the current enriching IR-1 centrifuges and LEU stockpiles, total installed IR-1 centrifuges, and a possible covert facility containing IR-2m centrifuges. This analysis utilizes a modified form of the well-known four-step enrichment process that was developed under A.Q. Khan for Pakistan’s centrifuge program and transferred to other countries, such as Iran. Using all four steps, Iran would enrich natural uranium to 3.5 percent in step one, then to 20 percent in step two, then to 60 percent in step three, and finally to WGU in step four. This analysis considers the four-step, three-step, and two-step process also with the use of existing LEU stockpiles.

The table lists the major estimated breakout times of the four scenarios considered in this report. Today, Iran could break out most quickly using a three-step process with its installed centrifuges and its LEU stockpiles as of August 2013. In this case, Iran could produce one SQ in as little as approximately 1.0-1.6 months, if it uses all its near 20 percent LEU hexafluoride stockpile. Using only 3.5 percent LEU, Iran would need at least 1.9 to 2.2 months and could make approximately 4 SQs of WGU using all its existing 3.5 percent LEU stockpile.

(Editor’s notes: Italics added for emphasis)

ISIS on Iran being able to produce one significant quantity (SQ) of weapon-grade uranium (WGU)? One month.

It was also noted in that summary:

The estimates in this report do not include the additional time that Iran would need to convert WGU into weapons components and manufacture a nuclear weapon. This extra time could be substantial, particularly if Iran wanted to build a reliable warhead for a ballistic missile. However, these preparations would most likely be conducted at secret sites and would be difficult to detect.

Which doesn’t rule out the possibility then that some manufacturing hasn’t already been going on.

And finally, Raphael Ahren reported yesterday on The Times Of Israel website:

Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to build an atomic weapon within two weeks and has, “in a certain way,” already reached the point of no return in its nuclear program, a former senior International Atomic Energy Association official said Monday.

“I believe that if certain arrangements are done, it could even go down to two weeks. So there are a lot of concerns out there that Iran can hopefully now address, in this new phase, both at the P5+1 [talks between Tehran and six world powers] and with the IAEA,” former IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen said, confirming a report released last week by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, which stated Iran could muster enough uranium for a bomb by converting all of its 20-percent enriched stockpile within 1 to 1.6 months.

Former IAEA deputy director on Iran producing enough uranium for a nuke? Two weeks.

Two weeks.

Something tells me that while the Obama administration would have liked to kick the prospect of an Iranian nuclear weapon down the road as far as possible, they might actually welcome these latest estimates as a convenient distraction for the American public away from other problems the White House is currently trying to deal with.

Stay tuned.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

“Full text of Obama’s interview with AP.” Associated Press. 5 Oct. 2013. (http://www.timesofisrael.com/full-text-of-obamas-interview-with-ap/). 29 Oct. 2013.

Dorell, Oren. “Report: Iran may be month from a bomb.” USA TODAY. 25 Oct. 2013. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/10/24/iran-bomb-one-month-away/3181373/). 29 Oct. 2013.

“Iranian Breakout Estimates- Summary.” Institute for Science and International Security. 24 Oct. 2013. (http://www.isis-online.org/uploads/isis-reports/documents/Breakout_Study_Summary_24October2013.pdf). 29 Oct. 2013.

Ahren, Raphael. “‘Iran two weeks away from weapons-grade uranium’” The Times of Israel. 28 Oct. 2013. (http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-two-weeks-away-from-weapons-grade-uranium/). 29 Oct. 2013.

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Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 Foreign Policy, Man-Made Disasters, Middle East, Science, Technology, Terrorism Comments Off on Iran Can Now Produce Enough Weapons-Grade Uranium To Build A Nuclear Weapon Within 2 Weeks?

RAND Corporation Briefs U.S. House On Al-Qaeda Threat To U.S.

Last night, I blogged about a City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications statement regarding an ongoing “routine military training exercise” that’s taking place in Chicago. The discussion reminded me of a meeting several years back with a big-wig over at the City of Chicago OEMC about possible employment there. I recall this individual originally came over from the nonprofit global policy think tank RAND Corporation. And speaking of the organization, Seth G. Jones of RAND just presented “Re-Examining the Al Qa’ida Threat to the United States” before the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade on July 18, 2013. It was interesting to read what RAND had to say about Al-Qaeda and the threat they pose to America and its interests abroad. Jones said:

In reviewing al Qa’ida’s evolution since 1988, I will make three arguments in this testimony. First, al Qa’ida has been resilient. There has been a net expansion in the number and geographic scope of al Qa’ida affiliates and allies over the past decade, indicating that al Qa’ida and its brand are far from defeated. This growth is likely caused by several factors. One is the Arab uprisings, which have weakened regimes across North Africa and the Middle East, creating an opportunity for al Qa’ida affiliates and allies to secure a foothold. In addition, the growing sectarian struggle across the Middle East between Sunni and Shi’a actors has increased the resources available to Sunni militant groups, including al Qa’ida. Second, this expansion – along with the weakness of central al Qa’ida in Pakistan – has created a more diffuse and decentralized movement. Al Qa’ida’s local affiliates largely run their operations autonomously, though they still communicate with the core leadership in Pakistan and may seek strategic advice. Third, within this disparate movement, most al Qa’ida affiliates and allies are not actively plotting attacks against the U.S. homeland. In the near term, Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) likely presents the most immediate threat to the U.S. homeland, along with inspired networks like the Tsarnaev brothers that perpetrated the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. Other groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusrah in Syria, do not appear to pose a near-term threat to the U.S. homeland. But Jabhat al-Nusrah’s growing recruitment and funding networks in Europe should be a cause of concern for U.S. policymakers.

Jones, from the RAND Office of External Affairs, emphasized the think-tank’s belief that most in Al-Qaeda are not gunning for the United States. He added:

Al Qa’ida leaders have also attempted to target the United States and its allies as the “far enemy,” or al-Adou al-Baeed, who support them. But attacking far enemy countries is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Contrary to some arguments, most al Qa’ida leaders are not interested in establishing a global caliphate and do not seek to overthrow regimes in much of the world…

Not all al Qa’ida affiliates and allies present a direct threat to the U.S. homeland. In the near term, Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula likely presents the most immediate threat, along with inspired networks like the Tsarnaev brothers that perpetrated the April 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. The growth in social media and the terrorist use of chat rooms, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other sites has facilitated radicalization inside the United States. While al Qa’ida leaders did not organize the Boston attacks, they played a key role by making available the propaganda material and bomb-making instructions utilized by the Tsarnaevs.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

It’s an interesting assessment by the RAND Corporation, which you can read in its entirety on their website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Thursday, July 25th, 2013 Africa, Europe, Foreign Policy, Government, Middle East, Military, Preparedness, Public Safety, Religion, Terrorism, Training, War Comments Off on RAND Corporation Briefs U.S. House On Al-Qaeda Threat To U.S.

Iran, North Korea Push On With Their Nuclear Programs

September 1995. Loyola University of Chicago, Rogers Park campus. My graduate school classmates and I are busy one autumn evening randomly-drawing names of notable political scientists to interview for a class project. I pick Alexander George out of Stanford University (was fantastic and insightful to talk to, by the way). My classmate and good friend Allison ends up with Graham T. Allison out of Harvard. I have no idea at that time how much Dr. Allison, now director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, would eventually contribute to my future knowledge about- and concern over- the threat of nuclear terrorism to America. The author of Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastropheicon, which was selected by The New York Times as one of the “100 most notable books of 2004” and is now in its third printing, had this to say about the danger in a 2007 debate (also noted in my “About” page):

This debate asks how likely is it that terrorists will explode a nuclear bomb and devastate a great American metropolis. In the judgment of former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, the likelihood of a single nuclear bomb exploding in a single city is greater today than at the height of the Cold War. Nuclear Terrorism states my own judgment that, on the current trend line, the chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent. Former Secretary of Defense William Perry has expressed his own view that Nuclear Terrorism underestimates the risk.

From the technical side, Richard Garwin, a designer of the hydrogen bomb who Enrico Fermi once called, “the only true genius I had ever met,” told Congress in March that he estimated a “20 percent per year probability with American cities and European cities included” of “a nuclear explosion—not just a contamination, dirty bomb—a nuclear explosion.” My Harvard colleague Matthew Bunn has created a probability model in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that estimates the probability of a nuclear terrorist attack over a ten-year period to be 29 percent—identical to the average estimate from a poll of security experts commissioned by Senator Richard Lugar in 2005.

“The chances of a nuclear terrorist attack in the next decade are greater than 50 percent.” And Dr. Allison said this in 2007. I’ll have to check with the Harvard professor and administrator to see if he still believes this is the case in light of the progress being claimed by the Obama administration in the “War on Terror.” But based on recent reports about advancements in the nuclear programs of both Iran and North Korea, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still sticking to his guns here.

Concerning Iran, the Associated Press reported Wednesday:

Iran will step up its uranium enrichment program by sharply increasing the number of centrifuges used to make nuclear fuel, a senior official said Wednesday, in direct defiance of Western demands.

The statement by Iran’s nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, is likely to escalate tensions…

“Despite sanctions, we will most likely see a substantial increase in the number of centrifuge machines this year. We will continue enrichment with intensity,” Abbasi was quoted by state TV as saying Wednesday. The Iranian calendar year ends on March 20.

His remarks came days after the U.N. agency said Iran is about to double its output of higher enriched uranium at its fortified Fordo underground facility. That could move Iran closer to weapons capability.

Anyone out there still think the Islamic Republic of Iran won’t be getting a nuclear weapon short of a military conflict?

I wonder if the Iranians will be televising the parade from downtown Tehran when that happens?

As for the North Koreans? Reuters’ Fredrik Dahl reported Thursday:

North Korea has made further progress in the construction of a new atomic reactor, the U.N. nuclear chief reported on Thursday, a facility that may extend the country’s capacity to produce material for nuclear bombs.

Pyongyang “has continued construction of the light water reactor and largely completed work on the exterior of the main buildings,” Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said…

North Korea says it needs nuclear power to provide electricity, but has also boasted of its nuclear deterrence capability and has traded nuclear technology with Syria, Libya and probably Pakistan.

At the end of summer, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was already thought to have 23 nuclear weapons in their arsenal.

The world was already a dangerous place, but grows even more so in our time. Especially as it concerns nuclear proliferation.

Sources:

“Iran nuclear chief: Uranium enrichment to be stepped up with new centrifuges, reactor.” Associated Press. 28 Nov. 2012. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iran-nuclear-chief-enrichment-to-move-ahead-with-intensity/2012/11/28/98834224-3965-11e2-9258-ac7c78d5c680_story.html). 30 Nov. 2012.

Dahl, Fredrik. “North Korea pushing ahead with new nuclear reactor: IAEA.” Reuters. 29 Nov. 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/29/us-korea-north-nuclear-idUSBRE8AS0OT20121129). 30 Nov. 2012.

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Friday, November 30th, 2012 Africa, Asia, Foreign Policy, Man-Made Disasters, Middle East, Terrorism Comments Off on Iran, North Korea Push On With Their Nuclear Programs

State Department Releases Annual Terrorism Report

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism just released its annual report on terrorism. In the 279-page Country Reports on Terrorism 2011, there are a number of findings that may be of surprise to many Americans (but probably not to regular readers of Survival And Prosperity). From “Chapter 1, Strategic Assessment,” by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism:

The loss of bin Ladin and these other key operatives puts the network on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse. These successes are attributable, in large part, to global counterterrorism cooperation, which has put considerable pressure on the al-Qa’ida core leadership in Pakistan. But despite blows in western Pakistan, al-Qa’ida, its affiliates, and its adherents remain adaptable. They have shown resilience; retain the capability to conduct regional and transnational attacks; and, thus, constitute an enduring and serious threat to our national security.

As al-Qa’ida’s core has gotten weaker, we have seen the rise of affiliated groups around the world.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

While the core of Al-Qaeda has taken a beating, Al-Qaeda affiliates, such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), appear to be growing stronger.

Another finding of the report may help explain why this is happening. Also from chapter 1:

Despite the counterterrorism successes in disrupting and degrading the capabilities of al-Qa’ida and its affiliates, al-Qa’ida and violent extremist ideology and rhetoric continued to spread in some parts of the word.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The State Department still considers Al-Qaeda and its affiliates significant threats to the United States. The Bureau of Counterterrorism pointed out:

Although there were no terrorist attacks in the United States in 2011, we remain concerned about threats to the homeland. In the last several years, individuals who appear to have been trained by al-Qa’ida and its affiliates have operated within U.S. borders. Najibullah Zazi, a U.S. lawful permanent resident, obtained training in Pakistan and, in 2010, pled guilty to charges that he was planning to set off several bombs in the United States. And on October 14, 2011, Nigerian national Umar Abdulmutallab pled guilty to all charges against him in U.S. federal court in Michigan regarding his unsuccessful attempt on December 25, 2009, to detonate an explosive aboard a flight bound for Detroit, Michigan at the behest of AQAP. While these individuals had direct ties to international terrorist groups, separate incidents involving so-called “lone wolf” terrorists also pose a threat to the U.S. homeland – one that can be difficult to detect in advance.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Even though there were no terrorist attacks on American soil last year, a number of U.S. citizens fell victim to acts of terrorism around the world. According to the report, 17 citizens worldwide were killed, 14 citizens worldwide were injured, and 3 citizens worldwide were kidnapped as a result of incidents of terrorism.

You can read the entire report on the State Department website here, or download a .pdf copy of it from the site here.

(Editor’s note: Info added to “Resources” page)

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Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 Government, Middle East, Public Safety, Terrorism, War Comments Off on State Department Releases Annual Terrorism Report
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