U.S. Department of State

General McInerney’s September 7 Mystery Book Revealed?

Earlier today, I wrote the following on Survival And Prosperity:

On Monday, I learned retired United States Air Force Lieutenant General and FOX News military analyst Thomas McInerney had issued a dire warning regarding terrorism directed against the United States. The former commander of the 11th Air Force appeared on the FOX News Channel last Saturday, and told viewers:

On the 7th of September, a major news network and a major publishing network are going to put out a book, and it’s going to be earth-shattering of what’s happening and what happened. And, the fact is, we may even see on 9/11/14 MH370 resurface again. We should be prepared for anything. We should go to DEFCON 1- which is our highest state of readiness- and be prepared as we lead up to 9/11.

When pressed for more details about that September 7 date, McInerney said he couldn’t elaborate. He did add:

It is going to be extremely important, and America should take notice…

While I noted that “a quick search of the Internet revealed nothing except speculation,” earlier this evening I decided to take another crack at identifying this mysterious book General McInerney said would be coming out on September 7, 2014.

I think I may have succeeded.

Sifting through coming releases on Amazon.com, I spotted this book:

The REAL Benghazi Story: What the White House and Hillary Don’t Want You to Know, by Aaron Klein.

According to its description:

Bigger than Watergate! Bigger than Iran-Contra!

Ten times bigger than both, Rep. Steve King has said.

The Benghazi scandal may have been covered up by the White House, but the truth is about to come out. “The Real Benghazi Story” is a groundbreaking investigative work that finally exposes some of the most significant issues related to the murderous September 11, 2012, attack – information with current national security implications. Investigative journalist and New York Times bestselling author Aaron Klein provides the answers many have longed for, from the secretive activities transpiring inside the doomed facility to shocking new details about the withholding of critical protection at the U.S. special mission. Learn about what really happened to Ambassador Chris Stevens that ill-fated night, the central role Hillary Clinton actually played in the scandal – and more! Also answered for the first time is why the State Department hired armed members of the al-Qaeda-linked February 17 Martyrs Brigade to protect the facility. New reasons are revealed for not sending air support or Special Forces during the assault, while extensively probing not only jihadist groups but also possible state actors behind the attack. These are just some of the new details to be revealed in this game-changing book.

Now, General McInerney said:

On the 7th of September, a major news network and a major publishing network are going to put out a book…

WND (formerly WorldNetDaily) fits the bill for that major news network/publishing network description. From WND.com:

Founded by Joseph and Elizabeth Farah in May 1997, it is now a leading Internet news site in both traffic and influence…

WND consistently ranks as the “stickiest” news site on the Internet, meaning readers spent more time on it than on any other – including giants CNN, MSNBC and ESPN.

WND often ranks at the top of the news pack in number of pageviews per user and minutes per page – two other important categories measured by Internet ratings agencies.

It is a Top 500 website, according to Alexa.com, the search and ratings agency affiliate of Amazon.com, and the No. 1 independent news site. WND currently attracts nearly 5 million unique visitors a month and more than 40 million pageviews, according to its own internal monitoring software.

WND also has a publishing arm- WND Books- that was founded in 2002 by the Farahs and has multiple New York Times best-sellers to its credit.

As to that September 7 date? Well, according to those vendors that will be selling Klein’s book, the release date of The REAL Benghazi Story isn’t until 2 days later- September 9. Now, release dates being postponed/pushed back is not unheard of. Perhaps that was the case here and McInerney hadn’t been informed about the change when he appeared on FOX News last Saturday. Or maybe he really meant the book is being released the week of September 7, seeing that the day falls on a Sunday?

I have one more reason to believe The REAL Benghazi Story is the “earth-shattering” book General McInerney was talking about.

Both are closely associated with the September 11, 2012, event in which a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked and resulted in American casualties.

Tatiana Lozano wrote on the CNSNews.com website on June 18, 2014:

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney says he believes the evidence will show that President Obama and top administration officials were guilty of a “dereliction of duty” both during and after the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya that cost the lives of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

“Verification of what the National Command Authority knew and when they knew it is extremely important as it will show, I believe, that there was dereliction of duty by the President, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of State, and the CIA Director,” Lt. Gen. McInerney said at a joint conference with military and legal experts held by the Heritage Foundation and the Benghazi Accountability Coalition on Monday.

“That is a very serious charge. That is a very serious charge, and it was done in violation of the law of the United States,” declared Gen. McInerney, who served as an assistant vice chief of staff in the Air Force’s Washington headquarters, and was part of a group calling for a select committee to investigate the events in Benghazi back in March…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I wonder if Klein has been able to determine “what the National Command Authority knew and when they knew it”?

And prove Thomas McInerney’s suspicions correct.

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

Source:

Lozano, Tatiana. “Gen. McInerney: Evidence Will Show ‘Dereliction of Duty’ in Benghazi.” CNSNews.com. 18 June 2014. (http://cnsnews.com/news/article/tatiana-lozano/gen-mcinerney-evidence-will-show-dereliction-duty-benghazi). 27 Aug. 2014.

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Americans And ‘EU Passport’-Holding Jihadists Fighting In Syria Scrutinized As Potential Terrorists

I suspect it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. homeland is attacked once again by Al-Qaeda (major operation), an affiliate, or sympathizers.

Complicating matters is the potential for radicalized Americans and European Union member state passport-carrying jihadists fighting in Syria’s civil war soon being part of this fray.

Emery Dalesio of the Associated Press reported on The Christian Science Monitor website this past Saturday:

Federal officials say Americans are joining the bloody civil war in Syria, raising the chances they could become radicalized by Al Qaeda-linked militant groups and return to the U.S. as battle-hardened security risks.

The State Department says it has no estimates of how many Americans have taken up weapons to fight military units loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in the 3-year-old war that has killed more than 100,000 people. Other estimates — from an arm of the British defense consultant IHS Jane’s and from experts at a nonprofit think tank in London — put the number of Americans at a couple dozen.

“A couple dozen.”

You may recall that only ten members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, attacked the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and other sites in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, between November 26 and November 29, 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.

Granted, just because these Americans are fighting alongside Muslim extremists (among others) in Syria doesn’t mean they’re automatically terrorists. Still, federal agencies are concerned.


“American Mujahid with Chechen Mujahidin fights in Syrian against Bashar”
YouTube Video

There are also worries over 1,000 or so EU member state passport holders who have also taken up arms in Syria. Vadim Fersovich reported on The Voice Of Russia website on November 25:

Of the 5,000 to 10,000 “foreign” mercenaries, about 1,000 “jihadists” carry EU passports, according to a classified report by the German Intelligence Service (Der Spiegel, October 21st ). But that thousand is made up of dozens, perhaps, hundreds (at the most) of nationals of different countries. Some of them will die in Syria; others will choose not to return. But those who will come back will move to their homes, so the hundreds will again break down into isolated people. Experts believe that an overwhelming majority of those who will buy the return ticket have for good lost interest in dangerous adventures because of actual fierce fighting. The insurgents realize that back home, security agencies are quite effective, while the number of those thinking along the same lines as terrorists is incommensurably small.

Of course, even individual terrorists pose a threat, given that they can use their passports to freely travel about Europe and the United States. According to a former CIA analyst, Michael Scheuer, they return home with a list of their mujahedeen buddies who may give advice and/or help out with the money, if necessary.

(Editor’s notes: Italics added for emphasis)

It should be pointed out that not all “EU passport” holders can “freely travel” around the United States. The U.S. State Department explains such restrictions on their website here.

Regardless, continued vigilance is still required to combat the threat of terrorism now- and maybe even more so- in the future.

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

Sources:

Dalesio, Emery P. “FBI warns about Americans joining Islamic fighters in Syria.” Associated Press. 30 Nov. 2013. (http://www.csmonitor.com/layout/set/r14/World/Latest-News-Wires/2013/1130/FBI-warns-about-Americans-joining-Islamic-fighters-in-Syria). 2 Dec. 2013.

Fersovich, Vadim. “Is Jihad likely in the West?” The Voice Of Russia. 25 Nov. 2013. (http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_11_25/Is-Jihad-likely-in-the-West-0430/). 2 Dec. 2013.

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Terror Threat From ‘Decimated’ Al-Qaeda Forces U.S. Embassies, Consulates To Close

Just like gold was supposed to be crushed by now, I thought President Obama had assured America that Al-Qaeda was “on the path of defeat”:


“Obama Brags ‘Al-Qaeda Is Defeated’ on Same Day US Death Toll Reaches 2,000 Deaths”
YouTube Video

And finally “decimated.”


“Obama: ‘Al Qaeda Has Been Decimated’”
YouTube Video

Regular readers of this blog know I never bought into this.

In fact, I just got done talking about the terrorist organizations resurgence as recent as last week.

From my old pals over at the Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. Department of State comes this “Travel Alert” today:

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August. This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2013.

Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.

We continue to work closely with other nations on the threat from international terrorism, including from al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats…

As a result, the State Department plans on shutting down a number of embassies and consulates in the threatened region starting this Sunday, August 4. Tom Cohen, Chris Lawrence, and Barbara Starr reported this afternoon on the CNN website:

A global travel alert issued Friday by the State Department said al Qaeda may launch attacks in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond in coming weeks, and the U.S. government prepared to close embassies and consulates in the region Sunday as a precaution…

U.S. officials who spoke to CNN on condition of not being identified said intelligence agencies have been tracking a growing threat against American and Western targets by al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen for a few weeks… prompting the Obama administration to issue a public warning and plan to close diplomatic facilities in the region Sunday.

You can read the entire alert on the State Department’s website here.

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

Source:

Cohen, Tom, Lawrence, Chris, and Starr, Barbara. “U.S. issues global travel alert, to close embassies due to al Qaeda threat.” CNN. 2 Aug. 2013. (http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/02/politics/us-embassies-close/index.html). 2 Aug. 2013.

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Should American Gun Owners Fear The U.N.-Approved Arms Trade Treaty?

Here’s some irony for you. I learned the U.N. General Assembly approved the Arms Trade Treaty yesterday while watching TV in Oak Park, Illinois- an infamous gun “control” jurisdiction just like my hometown of Chicago.

Judging by the condition of their roads these days, it looks to me they could really use those Village funds lost in their recent legal battle against gun rights.

Anyway, from Louis Charbonneau on the Reuters website last night:

The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the first treaty on the global arms trade, which seeks to regulate the $70 billion business in conventional arms and keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers.

The United States voted in favor of the treaty. And supporters of the new regulations, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, keep insisting law-abiding gun owners in America have nothing to fear. From the Reuters piece:

“Nothing in this treaty could ever infringe on the rights of American citizens under our domestic law or the Constitution, including the Second Amendment,” he added, referring to the U.S. constitutional amendment that guarantees the right to bear arms.

“Nothing in this treaty could ever infringe on the rights of American citizens under our domestic law or the Constitution, including the Second Amendment”

That’s not what the National Rifle Association is saying.

From the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action website Tuesday:

With a passing yet non-binding acknowledgement of individual rights in the preamble, the treaty itself threatens civilian firearm ownership. The NRA has always maintained that any Arms Trade Treaty must respect the Second Amendment right of individual self-defense. This can only be accomplished by expressly excluding civilian firearms ownership from its scope, which this treaty fails to do.

Notably, the ATT includes “small arms and light weapons” among its terms, which cover firearms owned by law-abiding citizens. Further, the treaty’s text urges recordkeeping of end users, directing importing countries to provide information to an exporting country regarding arms transfers, including “end use or end user documentation” for a “minimum of ten years.” Each state is to “take measures, pursuant to its national laws, to regulate brokering taking place under its jurisdiction for conventional arms.” Data kept on the end users of imported firearms would result in a registry of law-abiding firearms owners in this country, which based on the language of this treaty, could be available to foreign governments.

President Obama’s administration has supported the adoption of this treaty, and the administration is expecting to sign it…

Somehow, I’m not surprised to hear that last part.

You can read the NRA-ILA material in its entirety here.

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

Source:

Charbonneau, Louis. “U.N. overwhelmingly approves global arms trade treaty.” Reuters. 2 Apr. 2013. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/02/us-arms-treaty-un-idUSBRE9310MN20130402). 2 Apr. 2013.

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Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 Firearms, Government, Gun Rights, Self-Defense 2 Comments

Nuclear Material On The Loose

“The Obama administration is warning that the danger of a terrorist attack with nuclear weapons is increasing, but U.S. officials say the claim is not based on new intelligence and questioned whether the threat is being overstated.”

-Washington Times, April 14, 2010

I don’t agree with President Obama on a number of things, but here’s one we do see eye-to-eye on:

The threat posed by nuclear terrorism.

Consider recent events in the former Soviet Union. Desmond Butler of the Associated Press reported back on December 9:

Despite years of effort and hundreds of millions of dollars spent in the fight against the illicit sale of nuclear contraband, the black market remains active in the countries around the former Soviet Union. The radioactive materials, mostly left over from the Cold War, include nuclear bomb-grade uranium and plutonium, and dirty-bomb isotopes like cesium and iridium.

The extent of the black market is unknown, but a steady stream of attempted sales of radioactive materials in recent years suggests smugglers have sometimes crossed borders undetected. Since the formation of a special nuclear police unit in 2005 with U.S. help and funding, 15 investigations have been launched in Georgia and dozens of people arrested.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

And what of the years between 1991 (Georgian independence) and 2005? I shudder to think how much radioactive material might have found their way across the Georgian border and into the hands of the bad guys during those 14 years.

According to the piece, highly-enriched uranium has also recently been seized from smugglers in Moldova, another former Soviet republic.

From the Council on Foreign Relations website:

There have been no confirmed reports of missing or stolen former-Soviet nuclear weapons, but there is ample evidence of a significant black market in nuclear materials. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported more than a hundred nuclear smuggling incidents since 1993, eighteen of which involved highly enriched uranium, the key ingredient in an atomic bomb and the most dangerous product on the nuclear black market.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

That portion of the CFR website was last updated in January 2006.

While the Council said there have been no confirmed reports of missing or stolen nuclear weapons, the same can’t be said of nuclear material. Butler added:

Russia maintains that it has secured its radioactive material — including bomb-grade uranium and plutonium — and that Georgia has exaggerated the risk because of political tension with Moscow. But while the vast majority of the former Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal and radioactive material has been secured, U.S. officials say that some material in the region remains loose.

“Without a doubt, we are aware and have been over the last several years that not all nuclear material is accounted for,” says Simon Limage, deputy assistant secretary for non-proliferation programs at the U.S. State Department. “It is true that a portion that we are concerned about continues to be outside of regulatory control.”

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“U.S. officials say that some material in the region remains loose.”

If smuggling is taking place and the whereabouts of the nuclear material is unknown, I wonder if the above shouldn’t be changed to “some material from the region remains loose?”

Since illegal aliens and drugs routinely manage to find their way into the United States, it requires no stretch of the mind to envision nuclear material for a terrorist weapon also being smuggled in.

Butler’s incredibly-informative piece be read on the Yahoo! News website here.

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Friday, December 21st, 2012 Crime, Europe, Public Safety, Terrorism No Comments

U.N. Arms Trade Treaty Alive And Well, Draft Could Be Voted On As Early As October

Whether or not you believe the proposed United Nations-brokered Arms Trade Treaty would have infringed upon Americans’ right to bear arms, it should be pointed out that last week’s failure by delegates to reach an agreement doesn’t mean the treaty is dead.

In fact, it’s alive and well.

And some observers suggest a draft treaty could be voted on before the end of the year. Michelle Nichols wrote on the Reuters website last Friday:

More than 170 countries have spent the past month in New York negotiating a treaty, which needed to be adopted by consensus, so any one country effectively could have vetoed a deal. Instead, no decision was taken on a draft treaty.

But this leaves the door open for further talks and a draft arms-trade treaty could be brought to the 193-nation U.N. General Assembly and adopted with a two-thirds majority vote. Diplomats said there could be a vote by the end of the year.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Note the consensus would now be replaced by a two-thirds majority vote in this scenario.

In fact, it’s possible a vote on a draft Arms Trade Treaty could come as early as October, according to the August 4 edition of The Economist. From their website:

Yet all is by no means lost. More than 90 countries, including big arms suppliers such as Britain, France and Germany, issued a joint statement at the end of the conference reiterating their commitment to getting a treaty in place as soon as possible. There is a good chance that the draft treaty will be brought before the UN General Assembly in October. It could then be put to a vote of all 193 member countries, requiring only a two-thirds majority for it to pass. The treaty would then come into legal effect once it had been ratified by 65 countries.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

It appears the Obama administration prefers to put the treaty on the backburner until next year. From the Associated Press on July 30:

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement Friday evening that the U.S. supports a second round of negotiations next year.

“While we sought to conclude the month’s negotiations with a treaty, more time is a reasonable request for such a complex and critical issue,” the statement said.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The desire to delay additional work on the treaty until 2013 was echoed at a U.S. State Department briefing with Ms. Nuland this past Monday. From a transcript of the event:

QUESTION: At 10:14 p.m. on Friday, the Department put out a note about the inability to reach consensus on the arms control – on the Arms Trade Treaty, excuse me. And you said in the note that you supported the outcome, which, of course, was a failure to reach consensus. What did you not get – did the United States not get out of this negotiation that it wanted?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, apologies for making you work at 10:14 on a Friday night. As you may know, the negotiations on this treaty went relatively late in New York, so we wanted to make sure that we spoke to them when the negotiations concluded.

What we supported was a decision to give this more time to get it right. As you know, this is a treaty that needs to be adopted by consensus. There was not consensus in New York. There were a number of countries who thought that more work needed to be done. That said, we did make considerable progress, and there was a commitment that the nations will come back early in the New Year and try to conclude this treaty. What we want is further review, further refinement in order to meet the high standards of a treaty that we could sign and that we were confident could receive the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate, that deals with the illegal use of small arms while allowing states and nations participating to implement their own national laws and to protect the rights of their citizens enshrined in their own national documents, including in our case the right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution.

So more work needs to be done, but we very much support the goals. And we think that rather than trying to jam a weak treaty, it’s better to give it some more time and have consensus when we come back in January.

QUESTION: You said that there’s a commitment to come back early in the New Year. Was there a commitment by all 178 nations to do that?

MS. NULAND: Our understanding is that the second session of these negotiations will start early in the New Year and that that was the trend in the room there and what we expect

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty is down, but certainly not out.

Sources:

Nichols, Michelle. “United Nations fails to agree landmark arms-trade treaty.” Reuters. 27 July 2012. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/27/us-arms-treaty-idUSBRE86Q1MW20120727). 2 Aug. 2012.

“One more heave.” The Economist. 4 Aug. 2012. (http://www.economist.com/node/21559900). 2 Aug. 2012.

“Arms treaty must wait after UN agreement fails.” Associated Press. 30 July 2012. (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501363_162-57482624/arms-treaty-must-wait-after-un-agreement-fails/). 2 Aug. 2012.

“State Department Briefing by Victoria Nuland, July 30, 2012.” eNews Park Forest. 30 July 2012. (http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-national/35182-state-department-briefing-by-victoria-nuland-july-30-2012.html). 2 Aug. 2012.

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Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 Ammunition, Firearms, Gun Rights No Comments

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 No Comments

Quote For The Week

The war on terror is over.

-Unnamed senior State Department official who works on Mideast issues, per Michael Hirsh in an April 23 piece on the website of the weekly Washington insider magazine National Journal

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‘Shadow CIA’ Calls End Of Terrorism A ‘Myth’

One last post about terrorism this week. Scott Stewart of the global intelligence company Strategic Forecasting, Inc., or STRATFOR, has authored a series of Security Weekly reports entitled “Fundamentals of Terrorism.” The first of these, “The Myth of the End of Terrorism,” was released on February 23. It’s a good, informative read, and serves as a reminder that just because major terror attacks directed against the United States and its interests haven’t been too successful lately, the threat hasn’t gone away. Reprinted with permission of STRATFOR:

The Myth of the End of Terrorism

By Scott Stewart

In this week’s Geopolitical Weekly, George Friedman discussed the geopolitical cycles that change with each generation. Frequently, especially in recent years, those geopolitical cycles have intersected with changes in the way the tactic of terrorism is employed and in the actors employing it.

The Arab terrorism that began in the 1960s resulted from the Cold War and the Soviet decision to fund, train and otherwise encourage groups in the Middle East. The Soviet Union and its Middle Eastern proxies also sponsored Marxist terrorist groups in Europe and Latin America. They even backed the Japanese Red Army terrorist group. Places like South Yemen and Libya became havens where Marxist militants of many different nationalities gathered to learn terrorist tradecraft, often instructed by personnel from the Soviet KGB or the East German Stasi and from other militants.

The Cold War also spawned al Qaeda and the broader global jihadist movement as militants flocking to fight the Soviet troops who had invaded Afghanistan were trained in camps in northern Pakistan by instructors from the CIA’s Office of Technical Services and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate. Emboldened by the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, and claiming credit for the subsequent Soviet collapse, these militants decided to expand their efforts to other parts of the world.

The connection between state-sponsored terrorism and the Cold War ran so deep that when the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union’s collapse, many declared that terrorism had ended as well. I witnessed this phenomenon while serving in the counterterrorism Investigations Division of the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) in the early 1990s. While I was in New York working as part of the interagency team investigating the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a newly appointed assistant secretary of state abolished my office, declaring that the DSS did not need a Counterterrorism Investigations Division since terrorism was over.

Though terrorism obviously did not end when the Berlin Wall fell, the rosy sentiments to the contrary held by some at the State Department and elsewhere took away the impetus to mitigate the growing jihadist threat or to protect diplomatic facilities from it. The final report of the Crowe Commission, which was established to review the twin August 1998 bombing attacks against the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, explicitly noted this neglect of counterterrorism and security programs, as did the 9/11 Commission report.

The 9/11 terrorist attacks triggered a shift in international geopolitics by leading the United States to concentrate the full weight of its national resources on al Qaeda and its supporters. Ironically, by the time the U.S. government was able to shift its massive bureaucracy to meet the new challenge, creating huge new organizations like the Department of Homeland Security, the efforts of the existing U.S. counterterrorism apparatus had already badly crippled the core al Qaeda group. Though some of these new organizations played important roles in helping the United States cope with the fallout of its decision to invade Iraq after Afghanistan, Washington spent billions of dollars to create organizations and fund programs that in hindsight were arguably not really necessary because the threats they were designed to counter, such as al Qaeda’s nuclear briefcase bombs, did not actually exist. As George Friedman noted in the Geopolitical Weekly, the sole global superpower was badly off-balance, which caused an imbalance in the entire global system.

With the continued diminution of the jihadist threat, underscored by the May 2011 death of Osama bin Laden and the fall in Libya of the Gadhafi regime (which had long employed terrorism), once again we appear on the brink of a cyclical change in the terrorism paradigm. These events could again lead some to pronounce the death of terrorism.

Several developments last week served to demonstrate that while the perpetrators and tactics of terrorism (what Stratfor calls the “who” and the “how”) may change in response to larger geopolitical cycles, such shifts will not signal the end of terrorism itself.

The Nature of Terrorism

There are many conflicting definitions of terrorism, but for our purposes we will loosely define it as politically motivated violence against noncombatants. Many terrorist acts have a religious element to them, but that element is normally related to a larger, political goal: Both a militant anti-abortion activist seeking to end legalized abortion and a jihadist seeking to end the U.S. military presence in Iraq may act according to religious principles, but they ultimately are pursuing a political objective.

Terrorism is a tactic, one employed by a wide array of actors. There is no single creed, ethnicity, political persuasion or nationality with a monopoly on terrorism. Individuals and groups of individuals from almost every conceivable background — from late Victorian-era anarchists to Klansmen to North Korean intelligence officers — have conducted terrorist attacks. Because of the impreciseness of the term, Stratfor normally does not refer to individuals as terrorists. In addition to being a poor descriptor, “terrorist” tends to be a politically loaded term.

Traditionally, terrorism has been a tactic of the weak, i.e., those who lack the power to impose their political will through ordinary political or military means. As Carl von Clausewitz noted, war is the continuation of politics by other means; terrorism is a type of warfare, making it also politics by other means. Because it is a tactic used by the weak, terrorism generally focuses on soft, civilian targets rather than more difficult-to-attack military targets.

The type of weapon used does not define terrorism. For example, using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device against an International Security Assistance Force firebase in Afghanistan would be considered an act of irregular warfare, but using it in an attack on a hotel in Kabul would be considered an act of terrorism. This means that militant actors can employ conventional warfare tactics, unconventional warfare tactics and terrorism during the same campaign depending on the situation.

Terrorist attacks are relatively easy to conduct if they are directed against soft targets and if the assailant is not concerned with escaping after the attack, as was the case in the Mumbai attacks in 2008. While authorities in many countries have been quite successful in foiling attacks over the past couple of years, governments simply do not have the resources to guard everything. When even police states cannot protect everything, some terrorist attacks invariably will succeed in the open societies of the West.

Terrorist attacks tend to be theatrical, exerting a strange hold over the human imagination. They often create a unique sense of terror dwarfing reactions to natural disasters many times greater in magnitude. For example, more than 227,000 people died in the 2004 Asian tsunami versus fewer than 3,000 on 9/11, yet the 9/11 attacks produced a worldwide sense of terror and a geopolitical reaction that has had a profound and unparalleled impact on world events over the past decade.

Cycles and Shifts

A number of events last week illustrate the changes happening in the terrorism realm and demonstrate that, while terrorism may change, it is not going to end.

On Feb. 17, the FBI arrested a Moroccan man near the U.S. Capitol in Washington who allegedly sought to conduct a suicide attack on the building. The suspect, Amine el Khalifi, is a clear example of the shift in the jihadist threat from one based on the al Qaeda core group to one primarily deriving from grassroots jihadists. As Stratfor has noted for several years, while these grassroots jihadists pose a more diffuse threat because they are harder for national intelligence and law enforcement agencies to focus on than hierarchical groups, the threat they pose is less severe because they generally lack the terrorist tradecraft required to conduct a large-scale attack. Because they lack such tradecraft, these grassroots militants tend to seek assistance to conduct their plots. This assistance usually involves acquiring explosives or firearms, as in the el Khalifi case, where an FBI informant posing as a jihadist leader provided the suspect with an inert suicide vest and a submachine gun prior to the suspect’s arrest.

While many in the media tend to ridicule individuals like el Khalifi as inept, it is important to remember that had he succeeded in finding a real jihadist facilitator rather than a federal informant, he could have killed many people in an attack. Richard Reid, who many people refer to as the “Kramer of al Qaeda” after the bumbling character from the television show Seinfeld, came very close to taking down a jumbo jet full of people over the Atlantic because he had been equipped and dispatched by others.

Still, the fact remains that the jihadist threat now predominantly stems from unequipped grassroots wannabes rather than teams of highly trained operatives sent to the United States from overseas, like the team that executed the 9/11 attacks. This demonstrates how the jihadist threat has diminished in recent years, a trend we expect to continue. This will allow Washington to increasingly focus attention on things other than jihadism, such as the fragmentation of Europe, the transformation of global economic production and Iran’s growing regional power. It will mark the beginning of a new geopolitical cycle.

Last week also brought us a series of events highlighting how terrorism may manifest itself in the new cycle. On Feb. 13, Israeli diplomatic vehicles in New Delhi, India, and Tbilisi, Georgia, were targeted with explosive devices. In Tbilisi, a grenade hidden under a diplomatic vehicle was discovered before it could detonate. In New Delhi, a sticky bomb placed on the back of a diplomatic vehicle wounded the wife of the Israeli defense attache as she headed to pick up her children from school.

On Feb. 14, an Iranian man was arrested after being wounded in an explosion at a rented house in Bangkok. The blast reportedly occurred as a group was preparing improvised explosive devices for use against Israeli targets in Bangkok. Two other Iranians were later arrested (one in Malaysia), and Thai authorities are seeking three more Iranian citizens, two of whom have reportedly returned to Iran, alleged to have assisted in the plot.

While these recent Iranian plots failed, they nonetheless highlight how the Iranians are using terrorism as a tactic in retaliation for attacks Israel and Israeli surrogates have conducted against individuals associated with Iran’s nuclear program.

It is also important to bear in mind as this new geopolitical cycle begins that terrorism does not just emanate from foreign governments, major subnational actors or even transnational radical ideologies like jihadism. As we saw in the July 2011 attacks in Norway conducted by Anders Breivik and in older cases involving suspects like Eric Rudolph, Timothy McVeigh and Theodore Kaczynski in the United States, native-born individuals who have a variety of grievances with the government or society can carry out terrorist attacks. Such grievances will certainly persist.

Geopolitical cycles will change, and these changes may cause a shift in who employs terrorism and how it is employed. But as a tactic, terrorism will continue no matter what the next geopolitical cycle brings.

The Myth of the End of Terrorism is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

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As More Americans Renounce Citizenship, Processing Fee Is Hiked

Good thing I renewed my U.S. passport recently. From MSNBC.com this morning:

Planning an international trip? For Americans who still need to obtain a passport, or renew an existing one, the price is going up.

The application fee for a passport has jumped 27 percent to $70, from $55, with the passport security surcharge doubling to $40 from $20. (And don’t forget the $25 “execution fee” on top of those costs.)

Not mentioned in that MSNBC piece is the hike in the cost to renounce U.S. citizenship- from $0 to $450.

Matthew Lee of the Associated Press wrote on the Boston Globe website yesterday:

Under new consular fees published Thursday in the Federal Register, the cost of processing a formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship skyrocketed from $0 to $450. The announcement locks in fee hikes that had been proposed in 2010 and instituted on an interim basis.

The State Department doesn’t say how or why it calculated the cost. Citizenship is free for most Americans who are accorded the privilege at birth. The department says only that it “has decided that the renunciant should pay this fee at the visit during which he or she swears the oath of renunciation.”

Well, the federal government should be raking in quite a bit of cash as more Americans have been calling it quits on the U.S.A lately. Michael Cohn, Editor-In-Chief of AccountingToday.com, wrote back on January 18:

A newly released report to Congress from National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson shows that the IRS’s approach to tax compliance by those with foreign bank accounts is still leading to confusion among taxpayers. More and more taxpayers living abroad are going so far as to renounce their U.S. citizenship to avoid dealing with all the headaches.

“Many U.S. taxpayers abroad are confused by the complex legal and reporting requirements they face and are overwhelmed by the prospect of having to comply with them,” said the report. “Some are even renouncing their U.S. citizenship for that reason; about 4,000 people did so in fiscal years 2005 to 2010. Renunciations increased more than tenfold from 146 in FY 2008 to 1,534 in FY 2010, with 1,024 renunciations in the first two quarters of FY 2011 alone.”

The new State Department fee schedule for Consular Services can viewed on the Federal Register website here.

Sources:

“Need a passport? It’ll cost you more.” MSNBC.com. 3 Feb. 2012. (http://overheadbin.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/02/10303097-need-a-passport-itll-cost-you-more). 3 Feb. 2012.

Lee, Matthew. “US boosts passport fees, sets value of citizenship.” Boston.com. 2 Feb. 2012. (http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2012/02/02/us_boosts_passport_fees_sets_value_of_citizenship/). 3 Feb. 2012.

Cohn, Michael. “Taxpayer Uncertainty Prompts Citizenship Renunciations.” AccountingToday.com. 18 Jan. 2012. (http://www.accountingtoday.com/news/Taxpayer-Uncertainty-Prompts-Citizenship-Renunciations-61441-1.html). 3 Feb. 2012.

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Friday, February 3rd, 2012 Expatriation, Government No Comments


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