Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quran burning & Kabul ministry shootings - YouTube

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Myth of the End of Terrorism -STRATFOR

By Scott Stewart | February 23, 2012

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 meant that there was no impetus to mitigate the growing jihadist threat or 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 another 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 terrorism.

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 was 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 explosion 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 have 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.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

CJCUC Condemns Recent Extremist Attacks - Christian Newswire

Contact: CJCUC Media Division, 516-882-3220 , info@cjcuc.com

EFRAT, Israel, Feb. 13, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Efrat strongly condemns the recent attacks on a Jewish-Arab school and a Christian monastery in Jerusalem last week. These attacks are contrary to Jewish ethics, Zionism and Jewish Law (halakhah), and the CJCUC calls on the Israeli government to swiftly apprehend and prosecute the attackers.

For Israel is to remain a strong Jewish and democratic country, these attacks born only out of bigotry and extremism must be stopped. We call on Jews everywhere--both religious and non-religious--to fight extremism and hatred, which desecrate God's Holy Name.

The God of Israel is the God of life and love, not a God of violence and hatred.

Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Riskin, Chancellor CJCUC

David Nekrutman, Executive Director, CJCUC

Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn, North American Director, CJCUC

FOR MORE INFORMATION, please contact CJCUC's Media Division atinfo@cjcuc.com.

Al-Qaeda seeks new alliances, new conflicts BBC News -

People watch Somali al-Shabab fighters on February 13, 2012, in Elasha Biyaha, in the Afgoei Corridor, during a demonstration to support the merger of al-Shabab and the al-Qaeda networkWhile a Somali rally signalled support for al-Qaeda's merger with al-Shabab, the former has few operatives within the country

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Despite the media focus on events in Arab states, al-Qaeda has been largely absent from the headlines. But could recent announcements herald the group's resurgence in the region?
Largely ignored by the recent reform movements sweeping over much of the Arab world, al-Qaeda's core leadership has responded to developments in the Middle East and Africa with two major announcements within days of each other.
First came the statement on 9 February by Osama Bin Laden's successor, Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, that al-Qaeda had now merged with Somalia's insurgent group, al-Shabab.
Then, on 11 February, an eight-minute video by the same al-Qaeda leader was posted on the internet calling for a jihad to overthrow the embattled regime of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
'Safe havens'
So what is behind the announcements and will either have any impact?
Regional analysts have greeted the Somali merger with a degree of cynicism, pointing out that al-Shabab already announced it was merging with al-Qaeda in 2009.
Ayman al-ZawahiriZawahiri may hope to repeat Bin Laden's recruitment of foreign jihadists
This time it was al-Qaeda that announced the merger, a sign - say some - of the heavy pressure it is under and its need for new partners and new fields of conflict.
Last week, the London think tank Rusi (Royal United Services Institute) put the number of non-Somali jihadists fighting alongside al-Shabab at 200, of whom it says a quarter are British.
The number of actual al-Qaeda operatives inside Somalia is probably very small indeed.
Recent drone strikes by the CIA as well as military incursions by Kenya and Ethiopia have sought to restrict its use of "safe havens" in Somalia.
But the country is sufficiently fragile, lacking in effective government and endowed with such porous borders that it could still become a magnet for foreign jihadists.
Somali peace 'remote'
For core al-Qaeda, struggling to present itself as relevant to fast-moving events in the Arab world, it makes sense to shore up a strategic alliance with a still-powerful regional movement bitterly opposed to the weak, western-aligned government in Mogadishu.

Start Quote

Al-Qaeda will now be looking to exploit Syria's sectarian tensions, playing on the resentment by many Sunnis at the supremacy of the Alawite minority”
But for al-Shabab, accepting and welcoming this merger is a strange move.
True, it too is under huge pressure; driven out of central Mogadishu, pushed back from the south-west border by the Kenyans and under attack from African Union forces elsewhere.
But al-Shabab is still the single most powerful Somali force in much of Somalia and it was assumed that sooner or later it would have to lay down its arms in a peace deal.
Yet now, having publicly and unequivocally allied itself with al-Qaeda, that prospect seems more remote than ever.
For many of the world's governments engaged in seeking a long-term solution to Somalia's problems, al-Shabab has effectively put itself completely beyond the pale.
Rallying cry
Al-Qaeda's call to arms in Syria makes perfect sense from its perspective.
In Saturday's taped address, Zawahiri urged Muslims in the neighbouring states of Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon to rise up and support the rebellion against President Assad's rule.
He told Syrians not to rely on the West or Arab governments; there was no mention of Russia or China which blocked intervention at the UN Security Council.
A member of the Free Syrian Army looks over the valley in the village of Ain al-Baida, Syria, in December 2011The Syrian opposition may not welcome al-Qaeda today but what of the future?
Core al-Qaeda is now in a similar position to where it was in February 2003 when, having been driven out of Afghanistan, losing support and in search of a cause, Osama Bin Laden issued a rallying cry to fellow Muslims to come to the defence of Iraq.
In an audio statement at the time, he said: "Regardless of the removal or the survival of the socialist party or Saddam, Muslims in general and the Iraqis in particular must brace themselves for jihad against this unjust campaign and acquire ammunition and weapons."
While this did nothing to stave off that year's US-led invasion, it did help usher in a constant stream of foreign jihadists that provided the sharpened tip of Iraq's subsequent insurgency.
Al-Qaeda will now be looking to exploit Syria's sectarian tensions, playing on the resentment by many Sunnis at the supremacy of the Alawite minority.
And yet Zawahiri's message has attracted surprisingly little attention on social media sites, at least from those opposing the Syrian government.
Two days after it was posted on the internet, Syrian Facebook pages calling for President Assad's downfall had still not reported it.
New foothold?
On the micro-blogging site Twitter, it was either ignored or condemned by major users.
There was marginally more interest from Assad supporters on social media sites, who warmed to the suggestion that al-Qaeda's message somehow proved it was in league with the US and Israel.
But, as has been seen in Egypt and Tunisia, trends on Twitter and Facebook do not necessarily project the situation one year down the line.
While al-Qaeda's message may be unwelcome to most in the Syrian opposition today, there could still be scope in the future.
If, say, Syria descends into protracted anarchy, al-Qaeda could establish a new foothold in a country that for years imprisoned and tortured its members.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Ethiopian Jews under institutionalized Racism- Eisenbud's Odyssey: JPost

How is it possible that as Jews – perhaps the most discriminated-against race in the history of the world – we see fit to treat our own brothers and sisters as children of a lesser God?

A test of democracy's how it treats its vulnerableBy Mark Hoffer/ MCT
I have always harbored pronounced antipathy toward those who judge people based on the color of their skin or geographical origin. I never found it any different than anti-Semites who judge me based on my religion.

It’s a hateful and shameful practice, rooted in ignorance, fearand false elitism.

That said, my disgust at the ongoing discrimination against Israel’s already severely traumatized Ethiopian-Jewish community is beyond contempt.

Indeed, I frequently ask myself how it is possible that as Jews – perhaps the most discriminated-against race in the history of the world – we see fit to alienate our own brothers and sisters, with shared experiences, as though they were children of a lesser God.

It’s the epitome of chutzpah, and a disturbing blemish on an otherwise incandescent example of democracy in a region darkened by inhumane autocracies and theocracies.

ETHIOPIAN JEWS came here under strikingly similar circumstances to those faced by the myriad of Holocaust survivors who sought refuge in Zionism – my family included.

The first mass exodus of Ethiopian Jews came in the 1980s and ’90s during the Marxist- Leninist dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam, who murdered thousands of African Jews, separated families, displaced survivors, orphaned children and forbade all from practicing Judaism.

Sounds familiar, no?

Mariam’s oppression, compounded by unparalleled famine, the highest infant mortality rate in the world and the constant threat of war, resulted in an untenable existence for Ethiopia’s tens of thousands of Jews.

Thus, under the auspices of the Israeli government (with some aid from the US government’s CIA), rescue missions known as Operation Moses, Joshua and Solomon saved over 21,000 Ethiopian-Jewish lives by bringing them to Israel.

Today, over 120,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel.

However, their story does not have a happy ending.

EVEN THOUGH Ethiopian Jews were legally absorbed, serve honorably in the military, attend university, have earned important political posts and contribute to the workforce, they have been treated with unconscionable disrespect.

Their assimilation into Israeli society has been marred by an ugly cacophony of institutionalized racism, manifested in a number of disturbing ways among their “more equal” white-skinned counterparts.

This, of course, doesn’t take into account the severe emotional trauma they faced during their exodus from a hellish nightmare.

THE MOST recent, and perhaps most egregious, indignity against Jews of Ethiopian descent was sparked last month following a national television exposé depicting how a young Ethiopian family attempting to buy an apartment in the town of Kiryat Malachi was turned away.

A subsequent investigation determined that the white tenants of the building concerned collectively signed an agreement not to rent or sell their properties to members of the Ethiopian community.

It was a disturbing story that rightly outraged a large segment of Israeli society and resulted in two mass marches in front of the Knesset in January, which were attended by thousands of Ethiopians and other men and women of conscience.

During the highly publicized peaceful protests, many held placards of quotes from the great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a scene eerily reminiscent of King’s 1963 March on Washington.

“Our goal is to raise awareness and send the message to the government of Israel to wake up and take notice that there are black Jews in Israel and that it is also our country,” Gadi Yevarkan, director of the Center for Social Equality for the Ethiopian Jews, and one of the protest’s organizers, told The Jerusalem Post at the time.

Many of the community’s young leaders who attended the protests reported segregation in the educational system and professional sectors and racist attitudes toward Ethiopian immigrants within mainstream Israeli society.

“We are protesting because we are Jews and we remember that the last time we were not allowed to rent apartments was when we lived in Ethiopia,” said another protester. “We want to share the message that, as Jews, we have all suffered because of our religion and there is no reason for us not to feel at home in Israel,” he said.

Again, sound familiar?

ON AN empirical level, I see Ethiopian-Israelis every day and it is evident that they keep among themselves, with far too few exceptions.

When I recently asked a 20-something Ethiopian-Israeli colleague, who was born in Israel, what adjectives came to mind when she contemplated Ethiopian Jews’ treatment in Israeli society, she used words like “racism,” “cruelty” and “inferiority.”

Furthermore, this exceedingly intelligent young woman, who served honorably in the IDF, went on to cite her memories as a child of blood drives during which Ethiopian blood donated was discarded into trash bins.

“I thought to myself: ‘Why doesn’t anyone want my blood?’ Even as a kid I knew it didn’t make sense to throw away blood.”

ON A clinical level, it has been determined by psychiatrists in this country that a disproportionate number of Ethiopian immigrants suffer from severe psychological trauma, reminiscent of concentration-camp survivors.

Indeed, Prof. Zahava Solomon, a Tel Aviv University expert in psychiatric epidemiology and social work, examined 600 Ethiopian Jewish adults and found that 28 percent of them suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

To put this in perspective, the average level of PTSD in the general Israeli public – which collectively has gone through wars, terrorism and other traumatic events – is 9%.

Prof. Danny Brom, director of the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma at Herzog Hospital in Jerusalem, has worked diligently with members of the Ethiopian community in workshops to address and allay their suffering.

“The workshops are run the same way groups of Holocaust survivors have discussed their traumatic experiences,” he said. “The discovery that they are not the only ones to have suffered from traumatic events eases their pain.”

Meanwhile, just two weeks ago it was reported that a lack of funding, coupled with friction between the Jewish Agency and the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, has resulted in severely curbed funding for a highly effective domestic violence program geared toward Ethiopian immigrants.

“The establishment should have learned from mistakes in absorbing previous immigrant communities,” said Brom.

THESE MEN, women and children deserve dignity, respect and compassion.

They came here under similar circumstances to the majority of their fellow white Jews who have, comparatively, been exponentially embraced.

Why is that? Is it because of the color of their skin?

Ultimately, a true democracy is judged based on how it treats its most vulnerable population.

This being the case, we must ask ourselves: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

If the answer is no, then we should reassess our collective history.

And what it means to be a Jew.

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