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28 décembre 2015 1 28 /12 /décembre /2015 17:35
Indonesian counter-terrorism police (Photo atimes.com)

Indonesian counter-terrorism police (Photo atimes.com)



December 28, 2015: Strategy page


In Indonesia counter-terrorism police carried out several raids on Java and Sumatra before Christmas. Police make numerous arrests and seized bombs or bomb components intended for attacks on Shia and Christian communities. Christians are ten percent of the population while Shia are less than a half percent of the 87 percent of the population that is Moslem. These minorities are not evenly distributed so there are areas that are all Moslem and easier for Islamic terrorist groups to recruit and survive. The Christian islands used to be almost entirely Christian, but since the 1980s the government has encouraged (with laws, money and land) Moslems from overpopulated areas to move to less populated Christian territories. This has created frictions on islands like Sulawesi that are not entirely religious. Islamic terrorist groups began forming in the late 1990s and concentrated their attacks on non-Moslems, both local and foreign (tourists). Since 2013 small ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) groups appearing and singled out Shia Moslems as well as Christians and other non-Moslems.


Despite all this since 2004 Indonesia has been pretty successful in preventing most Islamic terrorist violence. But there are still attempts. In March someone planted a chlorine bomb in a shopping center. This bomb was supposed to go off and send poisonous chlorine gas through the ventilation system. Fortunately the bomb did not operate as designed and police were able to examine the components and identify the builder. In early July another bomb went off in a shopping mall toilet, but it used low grade, homemade explosives and caused little damage and no casualties. Enough components were recovered to identify the builder as the same person who built a bomb for a 2010 attack. Police keep a close watch on Islamic radicals and the increased use of security cameras provides clues not available before. It has become very difficult to be an Islamic terrorist in Indonesia.


While able to control Islamic terrorism within its borders Indonesia is still struggling with the problem of Indonesians going abroad to commit terrorist acts. This shortcoming became highly visible in 2014 when a wealthy businessman claimed to be the leader of the Indonesia branch of ISIL and was openly encouraging Indonesians to go and fight in Syria. The businessman (Chep Hernawan) pointed out that ISIL was not active in Indonesia because there was no need to be. But in countries like Syria and Iraq there is a need to violently defend Islam. Hernawan provides money and contacts to get volunteers to Syria and police believe that at hundreds of Indonesians have gone to Syria to fight and that some are known to have been killed there. At least a hundred have returned and there are believed to be at least a thousand ISIL supporters in Indonesia. ISIL is now operational within Indonesia and the government is eager to block ISIL efforts. Most Indonesians oppose such recruiting and support for ISIL outside Indonesia, but police point out that there is no law against this and attempts to pass such a law have always been thwarted by Islamic conservative politicians. The recently elected Indonesian president seeks to change that, but it may still take a while.


Meanwhile Hernawan was arrested in early 2015 on fraud charges and later convicted and sent to prison for six months. He will be free in early 2016 and back to work promoting ISIL. This bothers many Indonesians who remember what happened when several dozen Indonesians who went to fight in with al Qaeda Afghanistan during the 1980s returned to Indonesia and formed Islamic terrorist groups that, after 2001, carried out several spectacular attacks, including one in 2002 that killed nearly 200 foreign tourists. This resulted in a major counter-terrorism campaign that eventually killed or drove into exile nearly all the active Indonesian Islamic terrorists. There is a real fear that some of those ISIL members returning from Syria will try to emulate what the Afghan veterans did. In 2015 police said that they were monitoring returning ISIL men would act against any that planned terrorist activities in Indonesia. The recent arrests are apparently a result of that surveillance program and now a law outlawing overseas Islamic terrorist activity will be easier to pass. Even with the conviction of ISIL terrorists Islamic conservative politicians will still try to block that kind of law.


In addition to the new ISIL threat the main Indonesian anti-terror organization, Detachment 88, has been seeking to shut down the last few older Islamic terrorist organizations still active in the country. The main one of these now active is MIT (Mujahadeen Indonesia Timur, or Mujahadeen of Eastern Indonesia) which is led by Santoso (single names are common in this region). The group has carried out some attacks in the last few years but has suffered heavy losses in the process. For example on February 7th 2014 two of Santoso’s lieutenants were killed when they tried to ambush some police but were detected by the alert cops and hit with a more firepower than they expected. The month before police captured two MIT men who were on their way to plant some bombs. Detachment 88 has found that MIT is concentrating most of its efforts on recruiting and setting up trained cells of terrorists in other parts of the country. Detachment 88 thus has an advantage in that their counter-terrorism operatives are very experienced while most of the people they are hunting are not and thus easier to track down. MIT has been further weakened by members who have gone off to join ISIL.


Since 2013 Detachment 88 has had a lot of success detecting and arresting Islamic terrorists all over Indonesia. These Islamic radicals are not popular with most Indonesians and the police get plenty of useful tips. Islamic terrorist groups help make themselves targets by carrying out armed robberies and other criminal acts to support their operations. A lot of this counter-terrorism activity takes place in central Indonesia and the island of Sulawesi. For two decades this island has been the scene of growing Islamic radicalism and terrorism. That’s because over half the population on Sulawesi is non-Moslem (mostly Christian). In the late 1990s, Islamic militants came along, preaching violence against infidels (non-Moslems). Over a thousand people have died so far, but extra police and soldiers have, since 2009, eliminated most of the violence. Hundreds of Islamic radicals are still on the island and nearby West Java, and are still preaching violence. Police activity in Sulawesi keeps increasing because it was believed more members of terror group Jemaah Islamiah (JI) were coming to Sulawesi to hide out. Detachment 88 made Sulawesi very uncomfortable for the Islamic terrorists but it is known that MIT still has some hidden camps out in the Sulawesi jungles. Currently police are searching parts of Sulawesi where Santoso is believed to be hiding.


When counter-terrorism wiped out the JI presence on Sulawesi new Islamic radical groups formed. Over the last decade the police have been working their way down an increasingly threadbare list of terrorist suspects. Moreover, it's been years since JI has been able to launch a major attack. This is because counter-terrorism forces have created a good intelligence network. Thus threats are quickly detected. Since 2007 attacks against non-Moslems have resulted in a stronger and stronger backlash from the police, and Christians. After 2007 the vigilantes switched tactics and began concentrating on driving Christians into ghettos, and reducing the number of Moslems converting to Christianity. Anti-infidel (non-Moslem) violence remains a growing problem, as Islamic radicals seek an outlet for their aggression that won't land them in prison. All this Islamic radical activity keeps producing new recruits for Islamic terror groups. With little support from mosques or the larger Islamic organizations, these new Islamic terrorists have to resort to crime to fund their operations.

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11 novembre 2015 3 11 /11 /novembre /2015 17:20
Counter-Terrorism: Unrecognized Terrorists States


November 10, 2015: Strategy Page


The U.S. has long accused Iran, Sudan, and Syria as being “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” These are countries that have long promoted and supported the use of terrorism (usually Islamic terrorism). But there are some major players in this area who are not on this list, most notably Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Palestine. Each of these three is a special case and that is apparently enough to keep them off the list. Pakistan got into the Islamic terrorism business just before Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and was soon a major ally of the United States in an effort to support Afghans who were continuing to fight the Russian forces. After the Russians withdrew in 1989 Pakistan increased its support for Islamic terrorism, especially against India. During the Cold War leftist Indian governments was generally hostile to the United States and the West so America felt no pressing need to protect them from Pakistani sponsored Islamic terrorists. But at the same time Pakistan was not trying to inhibit the many Islamic terrorists who had flocked to Afghanistan after the Russians left. Many of these international Islamic terrorists were also able to move through and operate in Pakistan as long as they did not attack Pakistanis. This continued into the 1990s but right after September 11, 2001 the United States told Pakistan to join the fight against Islamic terrorism or be considered at war with America. Pakistan chose to join the War On Terror while continuing to support Islamic terrorists operating in Pakistan. The United States complained but generally did not press Pakistan on the issue. Thus Pakistan continues to be a base for many Islamic terrorists.


Saudi Arabia was a special case as well because the Saudis never officially supported Islamic terrorism but were, at the same time, very much responsible for the increase in Islamic terrorist activity since the 1970s. That’s because in Arabia (where Islam first appeared in the 7th century) the locals believe they are more Islamic than other Moslems. After all, the Koran was written in Arabic and all the founders of Islam were Arabs. Yet for over a thousand years there has been a tradition of different factions in Arabia trying outdo each other to prove who is “more Islamic” than the other. This led to constant fighting and suppression of new ideas. One of those fanatic factions is the Wahhabi form of Sunni Islam in what is now Saudi Arabia. Wahhabis, who first appeared in the 18th century, are very conservative and very hostile to non-Moslems and Moslems who are not Sunni. This meant little to the non-Moslem world until lots of oil wealth appeared in Arabia after World War II. Suddenly it became possible for Saudis to show how pious they were by funding Wahhabi missionaries who went to other Moslem (and many non-Moslem) nations to preach, establish Wahhabi religious schools and mosques and create the current Islamic terrorism problem. Billions were (and still are) spent on this and the policy of getting the young boys into these free religious schools and turning many of them into hateful (towards anyone not like them) Islamic religious fanatics led to a major outbreak of Islamic terrorism in the late 20th century. Yet many Moslem nations resisted this. Saddam kept Wahhabis  out of Iraq until 1991. Many secular rulers of Moslem countries (like Syria and Libya) also resisted the Wahhabi missionaries and money.


The Wahhabi problem is most obvious in Saudi Arabia, which practiced what it preached. Saudis comprise the largest faction of ISIL and al Qaeda recruits because so many Saudis have been educated in Wahhabi run schools. The Saudi rulers control the clergy, to a point, and do not allow public expressions of anti-Saudi Islamic radical ideas. But many Saudis back ISIL goals (which include replacing the Saudi monarchy), even is many of them do not wish to live under ISIL rule. This ideological mess is something Arab rulers, particularly in Saudi Arabia, have been dealing with since Saudi Arabia was formed in the 1920s. Change comes slowly in religious matters but meanwhile religious zealots that Arab oil wealth paid to create threaten us all. After September 11, 2001 the Saudis reluctantly began cracking down on the Islamic terrorist monster they had created. This was difficult to do but the Saudis were largely persuaded by the growing number of Islamic terrorist groups that wanted to kill the Saudi royals and run all of Arabia as a religious dictatorship. Messing with religion is one thing but if you really want to get someone’s attention threaten to take away their wealth and power.


Then there are the Palestinians. The persistent popularity for Islamic terrorism in many Arab countries is largely due to the growing use of anti-Infidel (non-Moslem) propaganda in the local media and the educational system. In the Palestinian territories both Hamas (hard liners running Gaza) and Fatah (the more corrupt "moderates" running the West Bank) have spent the last decade increasing their use of pretty blatant ant-Semitic and anti-Infidel (non-Moslem) propaganda and praise for Palestinian terrorists, even those whose only accomplishment was to kill civilians. While the strident anti-Israel rants of the Iranians gets a lot of media attention in the West, these pronouncements are not much different than those that appear daily in Arab and Pakistani media.


This sort of thing has been going on for decades and now there have been two or three generations raised on this hateful media. Some Moslems see through it all, eventually, but most do not and simply accept it as the way the world is. Some immigrate to the West for the obvious economic opportunities and spend a period of time trying to sort out the stark differences between the propaganda they grew up on and the very different reality they migrated to. Mentioning this dissonance to the folks back home will only get you, and them, in trouble, so the immigrants are forced to keep track of two very different world-views. In the meantime, the children who grew up in this storm of lies and hate are still being encouraged to become suicide bombers.

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20 septembre 2015 7 20 /09 /septembre /2015 11:50
EU home affairs diplomacy: why, what, where – and how


Home affairs matters such as border control, crime-fighting and counter-terrorism are all increasingly subject to international rule-setting and cooperation. The European Union is facing up to this challenge, under pressure of events but also thanks to a high degree of coordination between home affairs officials and diplomats. With its near abroad now host to mass movements of migrants, radical Islamist groups and transnational organised crime networks, the Union is investing in making the relationship between internal and external security processes more substantive. But enhanced coordination can only work if Europeans adopt the right geographical focus, toolkit and strategy.

This Chaillot Paper explores the genesis of ‘home affairs diplomacy’ and how it has taken shape, and highlights the challenges as well as the opportunities that bringing together different policy communities (at both national and EU level) generates for a more confident and more ‘strategic’ European approach to an outside world that has become more connected and more complex than ever before.


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16 septembre 2015 3 16 /09 /septembre /2015 07:30
Counter-Terrorism: Jordan Gets By With A Little Help From Its Friends


September 13, 2015: Strategy Page


Jordan recently revealed more details of the Israeli assistance it was receiving for the fight against Islamic terrorism. Israel has supplied Jordan with a dozen lightweight Slylark UAVs and the services of one or more larger Heron TP UAVs. Israel has also provided special electronics and software so that Jordan can more effectively track its own troops and possible Islamic terrorist activity. There appears to be some cooperation in the area of special operations (command0) troops. Both nations have a good track record in this area but Jordan can more easily put their commandos into Iraq or Syria than can Israel.


It’s no secret that since the late 1960s Israel and Jordan have been on good terms. This is mutually beneficial because both nations have large numbers of Palestinians to deal with and these Palestinians tend to be a source of disloyalty for both the Jewish dominated democracy of Israel and the Bedouin (Arab) monarchy of Jordan. Since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 Jordan has had to deal with lots of refugees and, for a while, more Islamic terror attacks. Jordan continues to keep Islamic terrorists from reaching Israel via Jordan and provides valuable intel on what is going on in Syria and Iraq and the Arab world in general. As it has done for decades, Israel also passes on any useful intel to Jordan, especially if it involves attacks against the royal family.


Jordan is poor and does not have a lot of money for new equipment. Thus the arrival of the Israeli Skylark UAVs was much appreciated. This UAV has been around since 2008, has an impressive combat record and a new version (Skylard 1LE) recently showed up. This is a 7.5 kg (16.5 pound) aircraft with a 1.1 kg (2.4 pound) payload. This is sufficient to carry Israeli designed vidcam, laser designator and communications gear that can work with the American Rover ground terminals (designed to let commanders on the ground see what UAVs are seeing). Max endurance is three hours, max altitude is 4,700 meters (15,000 feet). Max distance from the operator is 40 kilometers.


The Heron TP has been in service since 2009 and is similar to the 4.5 ton American Reaper. Equipped with a powerful (1,200 horsepower) turboprop engine, the 4.6 ton Heron TP can operate at 14,500 meters (45,000 feet). That is above commercial air traffic and all the air-traffic-control regulations that discourage, and often forbid, UAVs fly at the same altitude as commercial aircraft. The Heron TP has a one ton payload, enabling it to carry sensors that can give a detailed view of what's on the ground, even from that high up. The endurance of 36 hours makes the Heron TP a competitor for the U.S. five ton MQ-9 Reaper. The big difference between the two is that Reaper is designed to be a combat aircraft, operating at a lower altitude, with less endurance, and able to carry a ton of smart bombs or missiles. Heron TP is meant mainly for reconnaissance and surveillance, and Israel wants to keep a closer, and more persistent, eye on Syria, southern Lebanon and now parts of Jordan threatened by ISIL. The Heron TP has also been rigged to carry a wide variety of missiles and smart bombs.


In the 1967 war with Israel, the Jordanians caused the Israelis more trouble than any other Arab army. Since then, the Israelis and Jordanians have maintained good relations, partly because of the realization that war between the two nations would be particularly bloody. Jordan also became a good ally of the United States, and American Special Forces have worked with their Jordanian counterparts for decades. Another thing that keeps the Jordanian troops on their toes is the fact that most Jordanians are non-Bedouin Palestinians, a population that has produced a lot of terrorists and disloyal Jordanians. The royal family of Jordan, from an ancient Bedouin family, takes very good care of the largely Bedouin armed forces, which provides security for the royal family.

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10 février 2015 2 10 /02 /février /2015 12:50
EU Council conclusions on counter-terrorism


9/2/2015 EU source: Council Ref: CL15-019EN


Summary: 9 February 2015, Brussels – European Union Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on counter-terrorism


1.  The Council strongly condemns the recent attacks, which have been carried out by terrorist groups and individuals in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Terrorism poses a direct threat to all countries and all people regardless of their ethnic background, religion or belief. In a globalised world, such threats can only be countered through international cooperation and determined national action. In this context, the Council reiterates the EU's strong support to relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, in particular Resolutions 2170 and 2178, and calls on all countries to take the necessary measures to ensure their swift implementation with full respect for human rights and the Rule of Law.

2.  The Council calls for comprehensive action against terrorism in line with the 2005 EU Counter-Terrorism Strategy and in full compliance with international law, fundamental values and international human rights standards. While Member States have the primary responsibility for addressing terrorism, the EU as such can add value in many ways. The actions taken in the area of justice and home affairs need to be complemented by external engagement and outreach, especially to countries in the Middle East, North Africa, the Sahel and the Gulf. Close coordination between internal and external action on the one hand, and between relevant EU actors and EU Member States on the other hand, will enhance the impact of our common efforts. We need to put more emphasis on the prevention of terrorism, in particular countering radicalisation, on recruitment, equipment and financing of terrorism, and address underlying factors such as conflict, poverty, proliferation of arms and state fragility that provide opportunities for terrorist groups to flourish.

3.  Against this background, the Council decides to step up, as a matter of urgency, its external action on countering terrorism in particular in the Mediterranean, the Middle East, including Yemen, and North Africa, in particular also Libya, and the Sahel. Counter-terrorism (CT) will be mainstreamed fully into EU foreign policy. It calls for accelerated implementation of the EU Syria and Iraq and Counter-Terrorism/Foreign Fighters Strategy (adopted on 20 October 2014) with a particular focus on foreign terrorist fighters and the EU's Maghreb Communication. The Council welcomes the Joint Communication on EU regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Da'esh threat and looks forward to its implementation as soon as possible.

4.  More specifically, the Council welcomes the following initiatives to be implemented in the course of 2015, building on those actions that are already taking place in the field of Justice and Home Affairs and in Foreign and Security Policy.

Strengthening partnerships with key countries
- Mainstreaming counter-terrorism in the EU's political dialogue with third countries to promote international cooperation and implementation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

- Conducting targeted and upgraded security and counter-terrorism dialogues with Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Cooperation with Turkey should also be enhanced in line with the GAC conclusions of December 2014.
- Strengthening political dialogue with the League of Arab States, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the African Union and other relevant regional coordination structures, such as the G5 Sahel.
- Developing counter-terrorism action plans starting with Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, including on measures to dissuade and disrupt foreign terrorist fighters' travel as well as to manage their return. Attention will also be given to targeted CT/CVE cooperation with the Western Balkan countries as well as with other countries affected by foreign terrorist fighters phenomenon. Given the importance of the creation of networks of policy makers and security experts on both sides of the Mediterranean, a Ministerial segment will be added to the Euromed group on foreign terrorist fighters established by the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and the EEAS.
- Deploying security/counter-terrorism experts in a number of key EU Delegations to strengthen their capacity to contribute to European counter-terrorism efforts and to liaise more effectively with relevant local authorities, while further building-up of counter-terrorism capacity within the EEAS.


Supporting capacity building
- Launching further capacity-building projects and activities with interested MENA countries addressing law enforcement, criminal justice, security sector reform, including crisis infrastructure, crisis and emergency response, border control and aviation security, strategic communication, radicalisation, dealing with the foreign terrorist fighters threat, recruitment and financing of terrorism, paying due regard to international human rights standards, in close cooperation with Europol, Eurojust, Frontex and CEPOL.
- The EU will respond positively to Iraq's request of CT assistance. Projects will be launched shortly to assist countries in the MENA region to implement UNSCR 2178 on foreign terrorist fighters, to prevent radicalization in Jordan and the Maghreb. Further CT capacity building assistance to countries in the region will be provided in the coming months, in particular related to the threat of foreign terrorist fighters, including fighters returning to their countries of origin and security sector reform. The Radicalization Awareness Network will work with interested countries in the region on prevention of radicalization.
- The EU will work to develop frameworks for information exchange and ways for the EU agencies to engage more strategically with the countries in the region to strengthen law enforcement and judicial cooperation.


Countering radicalisation and violent extremism
- Supporting international initiatives on countering radicalisation and terrorism such as the first International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism ("Hedayah") in Abu Dhabi, and the Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF) in Geneva, while the successful EU Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) offers expertise to engage with local communities as well as with third countries. The High Representative, the Commission and the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator will participate in the upcoming Summit on Countering Violent Extremism and related side events in Washington DC on 18-20 February 2015.
- Improving strategic communication, developing an outreach strategy to the Arab World, including developing counter-narratives to terrorist propaganda, promoting fundamental rights, and taking into account the increasingly frequent misuse of the internet in radicalisation, engaging through social media and enhancing communication in Arabic. In this process, we can draw on the expertise of the Syria Strategic Communications Advisory Team.
- Facilitating interfaith dialogue, civil society dialogue, people-to-people contacts, academic and cultural exchanges. Exploring the possibility of creating a Round of Eminent Persons from Europe and the Muslim world, to encourage more intellectual exchanges and promote wider thematic dialogues on the roots and ramifications of terrorism and radicalisation on our societies. In this context, inviting relevant EU Institutions to explore further cooperation opportunities with actors such as the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue of Cultures in Alexandria, the UN Alliance of Civilisations in New York and the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and intercultural dialogue in Vienna.
- Addressing the underlying factors of radicalization by supporting initiatives across the region with regard to youth, education, vocational training, job opportunities, civil society, security sector reform, role of women. The EU will work with faith-based organizations, as appropriate.
- Inviting the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to continue his efforts to defend and advocate freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief and other universal values in particular in the MENA region.


Promoting international cooperation
- Continue supporting cooperation with the UN on counter-terrorism capacity building initiatives in the MENA region. The EU will enhance further its engagement in the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF), including by actively shaping GCTF inspired initiatives such as Hedayah in Abu Dhabi, the Global Community Engagement Resilience Fund (GCERF) and the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law in Malta.
- Enhancing cooperation with key partners and countries on countering financing of terrorism, in particular Da'esh financing. The EU hosted a workshop to counter Da'esh financing together with US, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Japan, and UN agencies in Brussels on 4-5 February 2015 with the aim to step up outreach and capacity building efforts in third countries. The EU will engage with countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council in a dialogue on countering financing of terrorism, in particular Da'esh financing, and will closely cooperate with partners, including in the anti-ISIL coalition.
- Reinforcing, within the existing parameters, the role of EU INTCEN as the hub for strategic intelligence assessment at EU level, including on counter-terrorism.
- Regarding the Passenger Name Record data (PNR), we fully endorse the Riga JHA Ministers Joint Statement, and are looking for sound solutions to the exchange of PNR with relevant third countries.
- Combating illicit accumulation and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons and their ammunition in line with the 2005 EU Strategy, in particular in the Western Balkans and Libya, and promotion of the Arms Trade Treaty in our Southern Neighbourhood.


Addressing underlying factors and ongoing crises
- Given the role unresolved conflicts play in the context of radicalization and recruitment, the EU will mobilize even more to attempt finding solutions and re-think current policies and approaches. The EU will mitigate terrorist and stability threats through its comprehensive approach combining diplomatic, socio-economic, development, conflict prevention, peacebuilding and crisis management tools.
- Inviting the High Representative and the Commission to continue to ensure sufficient funds and coherent use of instruments to address the threat of terrorism and move effectively from early warning to early action. CT, including prevention of radicalization, will, where appropriate, be mainstreamed into programming of assistance, making full use of the OECD guidelines on terrorism prevention. The EU delegations in the region have been asked to work with their host governments to identify quickly opportunities for twinning and TAIEX projects in the CT context.

5.  These Conclusions will serve as an input of the Foreign Affairs Council for discussion at the informal meeting of EU Heads of State and Government on 12 February 2015. The Council agreed to review progress in implementation at its next meetings, also in view of upcoming European Council meetings.

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4 février 2015 3 04 /02 /février /2015 12:30
Counter-Terrorism: Saudi Arabia Builds A Better Fence


February 1, 2015: Strategy Page


Saudi Arabia is suddenly very alarmed at the vulnerability of their long borders with Iraq and Yemen. For generations the main border problem was smugglers. Since the 1990s the smugglers have been joined by huge numbers of people trying to enter Saudi Arabia illegally. Worse, the smugglers have now added hard drugs (cocaine, heroin and worse) to their inventory. Finally a growing number of the illegal traffic has been Islamic terrorists entering the kingdom with malice in mind. By late 2014 Saudi Arabia had reached the point where it had told its border guards to shoot-on-sight and shoot-to-kill if anyone caught illegally crossing and refusing to stop. This could cause problems with some of the Saudi tribes living near the border, where tribal members have been smuggling for generations and tribal leadership tolerates a lot of it (especially if they are getting a percentage). But the Saudis know that Islamic terrorists will exploit these relationships if they can and the Islamic terrorist threat. Is seen as more dangerous than tribal unrest.


The second big decision was the new border fence. There was already a border fence along the Iraq and Yemen frontiers, but it was not much of an obstacle. So it was decided to revive a 2006 plan for a security “barrier” along the Iraqi border that would cost over $13 million per kilometer. This would come to nearly $14 billion for the 900 kilometer Iraq border. Work was supposed to begin in 2007 but didn’t. The fence was to be finished in 2009 and wasn’t. The fence was intended to keep out Sunni Islamic terrorists (mainly al Qaeda) who sought to overthrow the monarchy and establish a Sunni Islamic republic, as well as Shia Islamic terrorists who wanted to establish a Shia Islamic republic under the leader ship of Iran. The fence would also reduce smuggling, which has been rampant along this border since the kingdom was established in the 1920s.


Then some government officials, and many ordinary Saudis, complained about the cost. Despite all the oil income Saudi Arabia is still having money problems. A growing population, with too many young people not willing to work as hard as all the imported help, puts an enormous financial burden on the kingdom. Building this fence, as designed, would require a lot more foreign experts and imported technology. So the security people were sent back to the drawing board, and came up with a cheaper solution, that would put more unskilled young Saudis to work. The new design cost only a billion dollars. It consisted of two barbed wire fences and lots of radars, heat sensing devices (infrared “radar”) and other sensors. This would take less than a year to build and would put plenty of people to work setting up 1,800 kilometers of fence, and installing the electronic devices. This new design was believed able to do the job as well as the original 2006 security fence, cost a lot less, and employ lots of Saudis. While completed, the cheap fence lacked many of the sensors (or used ones that were not reliable) and was easy to cut through. When these flaws became obvious enough to a lot of people there were calls for a return to the original design and in 2014 it was agreed to “upgrade” the border fence to standards first proposed in 2006.


The original design used lots of sensors, supported by 1,450 kilometers of fiber optic cables. The high-speed fiber optic lines allowed for real time monitoring of fifty radars (able to detect vehicles, pack animals and individual people) along with 78 monitoring towers equipped with optical day and night sensors (digital cameras) with zoom. The monitoring was done from eight command centers. From these centers sensor operators could quickly determine if someone was attempting to breach the border barrier and where. They could then order armed men to the trouble spot from 32 rapid response centers. There are ten vehicles equipped with surveillance equipment that can be sent to areas where trouble is expected, to make sure the trouble, if it shows up, is spotted and identified sooner.


Legal traffic goes through 38 crossings, which are heavily guarded and monitored. The foreign consultants that helped design the barrier warned the Saudis that the more effective the new border barrier was the more likely the personnel operating the system would be bribed. So the software used to run the monitoring and control system has safeguards and monitoring routines built in to detect and quickly report possible bribery activity. A similar barrier is being built along the Yemen border and all 5,000 kilometers of land borders will eventually have upgraded border security, now with some kind of fence and sensors.

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4 février 2015 3 04 /02 /février /2015 08:35
AQIS source dhakatribune

AQIS source dhakatribune


January 31, 2015: Strategy Page


In December 2014 India banned ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) within its borders. Pakistan has not officially banned ISIL but has made it clear that the government is very hostile to ISIL and any of the growing number of local Islamic terrorist organizations that have declared their allegiance to ISIL. Many factions of Pakistani Taliban have pledged allegiance to ISIL. In mid-2014, at the same time ISIL was beginning to show up in South Asia (India, Pakistan, and so on) al Qaeda announced the formation of AQIS (Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent). This has not amounted to much.


What the South Asian governments and established Islamic terrorist groups are afraid of is the clever recruiting tactics ISIL has developed. ISIL plays on the appeal of Islamic radicals and their legendary (but never fulfilled) goal of establishing a religious dictatorship that eliminates all the corruption and injustice that cripples most Moslem communities. This sort of idealism is especially popular with young (teenage and 20s) Moslem (and some non-Moslem) men and even a few women. In response many Western nations with Moslem minorities have also banned ISIL. For the rational it just seems like the right thing to do.


These bans make it more difficult for ISIL to recruit and raise money, but not impossible. For a Moslem nation it also demonstrates a determination to defeat Islamic terrorism. That’s why the failure of Pakistan and some other Islamic nations to ban ISIL. For many Moslems Islamic terrorism is bad only if it is a personal threat.

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4 février 2015 3 04 /02 /février /2015 07:50
EU Commission adopts new measures in Schengen Information System for counter-terrorism purposes


29/1/2015 EU source: European Commission Ref: EC15-017EN


Summary: 29 January 2015, Brussels - Today, the European Commission has adopted new measures and technical upgrades of the Schengen Information System (SIS) which will allow an accelerated and more targeted information exchange on terrorist suspects amongst law enforcement authorities, state security services and border guards throughout the 28 Schengen States.


By this new action SIS will reinforce the efforts of Member States to invalidate personal identification documents of persons who may join terrorist groups outside the European Union. It will substantially contribute to more effective border controls as when checks of travel documents are carried out at the external borders such documents must be seized and the person concerned will be detained. This forms part of the work carried out by the Commission, in close cooperation with the Member States, to reinforce border security within the existing legal framework in response to terrorist threats.


Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, is currently in Riga to participate in discussions and present this decision at the informal Justice and Home Affairs Council on countering terrorism.

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10 octobre 2014 5 10 /10 /octobre /2014 04:50
Europe enlists Internet giants in fight against online extremism


Luxembourg Oct 09, 2014 - Spacewar.com (AFP)


The European Union and US Internet giants including Facebook and Twitter will work together to combat online extremism and have discussed steps to block gruesome beheading videos, officials said Thursday.


EU interior ministers and officials met representatives from the technology firms in Luxembourg on Wednesday amid growing alarm that Islamist material is encouraging young Muslims to fight in Syria and Iraq.


EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft had explained what they do to prevent showing the videos, "which according to their internal policies are totally against their principles".


But the Swede insisted that outright blocking of websites "is not the question".


She added: "There is urgency, but we should not rush into making laws or taking decisions without thinking."


In a later joint statement, Malmstroem and Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said the two sides "agreed to organise joint training and awareness-raising workshops for the representatives of the law enforcement authorities, Internet industry and civil society".


- Jihadists using web to recruit -


Social media has become a powerful recruiting tool for jihadists, with the Islamic State group posting several videos online showing the grisly beheadings of Western hostages.


US Internet firms have sometimes been uneasy about blocking extremist material, seeing themselves as platforms rather than publications, and worrying about the implications for free speech, which is strongly protected under US law.


EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove, who was also at the dinner, said the US firms were "very eager to do their part" in what he called a joint public-private effort to combat extremism.


They discussed "how can we remove from the Internet illegal content, how can we use it proactively in order to counter their narrative," he said.


"Twitter has made the life of ISIL (Islamic State) quite difficult. That's the reason why they moved from Twitter to another social network," he added.


Around 3,000 Europeans have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq, de Kerchove told AFP in September.


Officials worry some will return battle-hardened and ready to launch attacks in their home countries.


Many European parents have learned that their sons or daughters have left to fight or support jihad in Syria through messages posted on Facebook or Twitter.


Police officers who are worried that they might return to launch attacks in their home countries need such messages to determine where they are, a European official said.


The aim of cooperating with the social networks is to block the broadcast of messages and images of jihadist groups, something that must be done rapidly as the documents are duplicated quickly.


Facebook, the world's biggest social network with 1.3 billion user accounts, said it has barred "terrorist" groups from its site.


The firm intervenes when it becomes aware of accounts or content that violate user conditions, particularly in cases of calls to violence, according to Monika Bickert, Facebook head of global policy management.


The ministers were also looking into how to reinforce border checks to prevent jihadists leaving for the Middle East, and monitoring the return of those who might be preparing attacks.


However, the Schengen border-free zone, which applies to most EU countries, bars systematic checks, and the European parliament has blocked plans for a European Passenger Name Record system, a database that holds the itinerary of airline passengers.

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30 septembre 2014 2 30 /09 /septembre /2014 18:45
US to supply Caravan aircraft to Mauritania, Niger and Kenya


30 September 2014 by Oscar Nkala/defenceWeb


The US military has awarded Cessna a contract to provide 208B Grand Caravan EX aircraft to Niger, Kenya and Mauritania in support of counter-terrorism operations.


The $13.67 million contract for the three aircraft was awarded on September 19 by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Centre at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The contract also provides for aircrew training devices and spares, including a spare aircraft engine and training to the US Africa Command area of responsibility in support of the three countries.


The aircraft will be deployed to carry out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in support of the new expanded US counter-terrorism effort which relies on the provision of advanced military equipment and intelligence gathering capabilities to key partner nations in the Africa Command Area of Responsibility.


According to the Federal Business Opportunities register, the contract was awarded under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. Work is expected to conclude by September 30, 2015. Funding for the acquisition is being provided through Section 1206 of the US National Defence Authorisation Act 2006. With subsequent amendments extending its scope, this provides the US Secretary of Defence with authority to train and equip foreign military forces for two specified purposes —counterterrorism and stability operations — and foreign security forces for counterterrorism operations. Section 1206 authority now extends through to FY2017.


In a related development, the US Army on September 18 contracted L-3 Communications Systems to upgrade intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities of the three aircraft prior to delivery.


"L-3 Communications Systems West in Salt Lake City, UT receives an unfinalised $31.2 million firm-fixed-price undefinitised contract to add intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to three Cessna 208B aircraft for the countries of Niger, Kenya and Mauritania, and provide spares and training. All funds are committed immediately, using FY 2014 partnership capacity budgets," reads part of the contract award notice.


Work will be carried out at L-3’s facilities in Salt Lake City and Titusville and will be completed by September 30, 2015. Fiscal Year 2014 building partnership capacity funds are being used to finance the project.


The US has been working closely with both Mauritania and Niger in regional counter-terrorism efforts and has previously donated Cessna Caravans for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations on suspected terrorist hide-outs and training camps across the Sahel.


The Niger Air Force flies two Cessna 208Bs delivered in July 2013. However, these are configured for transport tasks. They were donated by the US along with ten Toyota trucks for border security and cargo operations.


In June this year the US government donated two new Caravans to the Mauritania Islamic Air Force (FAIM) to boost its capacity to conduct patrols to counter maritime crimes and regional terrorist groups.

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1 avril 2014 2 01 /04 /avril /2014 16:30
Counter-Terrorism: European Islamic Terrorists Inspired By Syria


March 31, 2014 Strategy Page

Europe is facing a growing problem with young Moslem men being recruited by Islamic clergy to go fight alongside (and often against) the Syrian rebels. European intelligence officials believe about 2,000 European Moslems have gone to Syria so far and about ten percent have been killed. More than ten percent have returned and these jihad veterans often seek out new recruits. These jihadis are very effective at attracting new volunteers, although so far only about 10 per 100,000 Moslems have been persuaded to go. As small as that portion is, a far larger percentage (over ten percent) of European Moslems will admit to admiring the goals and methods of Islamic terrorists. Most of those who did go to Syria are now more radicalized than when they left and police fear they may contribute to more Islamic terrorism in Europe. You can’t do much to these men unless they actually commit a crime in Europe, although in some countries it is possible to prosecute them for fighting for an Islamic terrorist organization anywhere. But you have to prove it in court and that is difficult. Nevertheless such prosecutions are underway and most countries monitor returning jihadis, ready to make arrests if any local laws are broken.

Efforts are being made to prevent more men from volunteering, but that is difficult because Moslems have not adapted well in Europe and have a lot more problems doing so than other immigrants. In part this is because European nations have a much harder time accepting and integrating migrants than the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In part that’s because these four nations are largely composed of migrants or descendants of migrants. There are still problems but as the saying goes in the U.S., “we’re all minorities here.” European nations are more touchy about outsiders and citizenship is not automatically conferred on anyone born there. Ancestry counts for much more and it is much more difficult for immigrants, even those who speak the language like natives and have absorbed the local culture. Despite that, most migrants still want to be accepted. Moslem migrants have an additional problem because their religion does not really accept being a religious minority in a nation. Moslem clerics tend to agree that non-Moslems must convert eventually and radical clergy sanction the use of force to make that happen sooner rather than later. To help this along radical clergy depict the non-Moslem majority as inherently hostile to Islam and constantly trying to get Moslems to abandon their religion. In Islamic theology this is not allowed and in some Moslem countries such conversions are forbidden, often under pain of death. This rebellious and militant attitude is particularly popular with many young Moslem men. This sense of victimhood makes it easier for young Moslem men to become criminals. Thus in France, where ten percent of the population is Moslem, over 60 percent of the prison population is Moslem. Thus efforts by parents to keep their children from joining Islamic radial or terrorist organizations tend to fail. The wayward child can justify his criminal ways by referring to Islamic scripture and Islamic clerics who preach acceptance of radical Islam. This has been a problem with Islam, even in Moslem majority nations, for centuries.

What does change the attitudes of some radicalized Moslem men is the reality of Islamic terrorism. Thus the popularity of Islamic radicalism everywhere took a big drop in 2007 when the majority of Sunni Moslems in Iraq turned against it because Islamic terrorism there was killing far more Moslems than non-Moslems. Even al Qaeda leadership noted this development and had tried to get the Islamic terrorists in Iraq to sharply reduce the number of innocent civilians they were killing. Unwilling to do so, al Qaeda was defeated in Iraq and has been rebuilding mainly because Iraqi nationalists insisted that all American troops, including the intelligence and special operations units that so effectively identified and destroyed al Qaeda leaders and specialists, leave the country in 2011. Iraq now wants some of those specialists back, but the U.S. is not eager to return.

In Syria the “Iraq problem” reappeared in 2011 after a civil war began against the secular dictatorship. The Syrian al Qaeda problems reached a crises in June 2013 when the head of al Qaeda (bin Laden successor Ayman al Zawahiri) declared the recent merger of the new (since January) Syrian Jabhat al Nusra (JN) with the decade old Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) unacceptable and ordered the two groups to remain separate. The reason for this was that the merger was announced by ISI without the prior agreement of the JN leadership. The merger formed a third group; Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). That was the problem, as many JN members then left their JN faction to join nearby ones being formed by ISIL. JN leaders saw this as a power grab by ISIL and most of the JN men who left to join ISIL were non-Syrians. Many of these men had worked with ISI before and thought they were joining a more powerful group. But ISIL was apparently just an attempt by ISI (which is having a hard time in Iraq) to grab some glory, recruits, cash and power by poaching JN members. JN appealed to Zawahiri for help and got it.

This dispute escalated in January 2014 when outright war between ISIL and other Islamic terror groups in Syria began. A month later al Qaeda declared ISIL outcasts and sanctioned the war against them. That’s not the first time al Qaeda has had to slap down misbehaving Iraqi Islamic terror groups and won’t be the last. But it’s not a problem unique to Iraq.

One of the major weaknesses of Islamic terror groups is that they often get into vicious and destructive feuds with each other. It should not be surprising as Islamic terrorists are motivated by religion and in particular a personal call from God to serve. Since no two people are going interpret the details of this divine summons the same way, there will be many different interpretations. These are often formed by ethnic differences. This could be seen in Mali, where three different Islamic radical groups (Ansar Dine, MUJAO and AQIM) took control of the northern portion of the country in 2012 until they were run out in early 2013 by a French-led force. Along the way the three groups were often battling each other. The same thing happened in Somalia and elsewhere. Even before the French showed up many members of these groups were disillusioned by all the infighting and simply quit. But the concept of violent jihad (“struggle”) is still popular with many Islamic clerics and young Moslem men.

For centuries the non-Moslem world ignored this problem, at least as long as it remained a dispute just among Moslems. But in the 1970s a new idea arose among radical clergy who began blaming the West for all the backwardness, bad government and general misery in Moslem nations. That’s when al Qaeda decided to take the war to the infidels (non-Moslems). This produced growing violence against Western targets in the 1990s and culminated in the September 11, 2001 attacks. The carnage of those attacks was immensely popular among Moslems, although most Moslem governments condemned it. That was in part because these attacks against infidels were an indirect effort to overthrow Moslem governments that radicals did not believe were Moslem enough. That struggle continues and while many Saudi citizens still send cash and sons to al Qaeda, Saudi Arabia is very much opposed to al Qaeda. 

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8 janvier 2014 3 08 /01 /janvier /2014 08:35
Philippines Military To Expand Counter-Terrorism Unit


Jan. 7, 2014 – Defense News (AFP)


MANILA — The Philippine government is to triple the size of a special forces military unit that operates against Islamist militants responsible for deadly bombings and kidnappings of Westerners, officials said Tuesday.


The Light Reaction Battalion is to be built up to regiment size, Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Noel Coballes said, an increase from about 500 soldiers to as many as 1,500.


“We have seen how effective they are, so we are strengthening the unit in terms of anti-terrorism. From a battalion we’ll increase it to a regiment,” he said.


The unit is fighting the Abu Sayyaf, a group of several hundred Islamist militants who are behind the country’s deadliest attacks as well as kidnappings of Western targets.


Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the battalion had taken substantial casualties during a three-week battle against gunmen in the southern port of Zamboanga in September last year.


The gunmen are followers of former rebel leader Nur Misuari, who went into hiding as hundreds of his men infiltrated Zamboanga to oppose a proposed peace treaty between the Philippine government and a rival Muslim guerrilla faction.


The fighting left more than 240 people dead and displaced about 116,000 people as entire districts of the city of nearly a million people went up in flames.


“As you have seen, we lost a number of our men in the Zamboanga incident, which led to a shortage that needed to be addressed,” Gazmin said.


Neither official gave a timetable, but armed forces spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said the unit would be bulked up within the year.


“Based on what happened in Zamboanga, our military leadership saw a need to increase the strength of the Light Reaction Battalion to be able to address contingencies anywhere in the country,” Zagala told AFP.


The United States has trained and equipped the battalion since 2002, to help its Asian ally fight the Islamist militants in the south of the mainly Catholic nation.

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18 décembre 2013 3 18 /12 /décembre /2013 17:45
Kenyan soldiers outside Westgate Mall

Kenyan soldiers outside Westgate Mall


12 December 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)


The European Union has offered to increase counter-terrorism support to Kenya after the Westgate mall attack in which gunmen from a Somali Islamist group killed at least 67 people in Nairobi, a senior EU official said on Wednesday.


Kenya, an ally for Western powers trying to curb the spread of radical Islam out of east Africa and in particular Somalia, has in the past suffered major attacks on its soil by al Qaeda and its Somali affiliate al Shabaab.


Analysts and diplomats say the five-day Westgate siege showed large holes in Kenya's security apparatus despite Israel, the United States and Britain training many Kenyan intelligence, military and police officers over the years.


Human rights groups have also accused Kenya's Anti Terror Police Unit of brutality and extra-judicial killings of mainly Muslim men suspected to have linked to al Shabaab. Kenyan officials have repeatedly dismissed the allegations.


Nick Westcott, EU managing director for Africa, said EU plans include helping Kenya boost regional intelligence co-operation, greater support for Kenya's crisis response co-ordination and tracking financial flows of terror suspects.


During the Westgate attack Kenya's main intelligence agencies were criticized for their poor communication and information sharing with each other, as well as east African and Western intelligence agencies.


Westcott said the EU has also offered support and advice on how to deal with "radicalization of political discourse which encourages people to resort to terrorism".


"A lot of these are issues we've had to face ourselves in Europe so we have experience and skills that we are very happy to transfer to Kenya," he told reporters in Nairobi.


More Kenyan police could be trained in Europe, he said.


Westcott also told Kenyan officials it was important to find the right balance between security and civil freedoms.

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14 juin 2013 5 14 /06 /juin /2013 07:40
A Russian soldier during INDRA-2010 exercise in India. Photo Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

A Russian soldier during INDRA-2010 exercise in India. Photo Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation


13 June 2013 army-technology.com


The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to send 250 military personnel to participate in the counter-terrorism combat exercise, code-named INDRA, scheduled to be carried out with the Indian Army in October 2013.


The annual drills will witness participation from more than 250 servicemen from Russia's Eastern Military District and the same number of Indian soldiers, RIA Novosti reported citing a statement from the district's press service.


Scheduled to be carried out at the Mahajan Field Firing Range (MFFR) in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India, the drill is for training soldiers in joint planning and execution of anti-terrorist missions in a semi-desert environment, the statement added.


The final planning stage for the exercise is scheduled to be conducted in Bikaner in August.


A battalion-level exercise, INDRA is aimed at enhancing defence cooperation and interoperability, as well as strengthening military-to-military relations between the two armies.

"INDRA is aimed at enhancing defence cooperation and interoperability."


India and Russia have so far conducted six of the INDRA series joint ground and naval exercises since 2003, with the last drill being held between the two countries' army units at a training range in the Siberian republic of Buryatia in August 2012.


Involving more than 500 servicemen from the two countries' mechanised heavy combat groups, INDRA 2012 trained personnel for counter-insurgency (COIN) tasks required for elimination of terrorist and insurgent groups, as well as reconnaissance and search missions.


Featuring around 50 Russian combat vehicles, and the Indian Air Force's (IAF) Ilyushin-76 aircraft, the exercise included a number of firing, tactical and driving manoeuvres, as well as providing Indian soldiers with an opportunity to familiarise with the Russian military equipment.

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