Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Predictions for 2012 and Terrorism!

Interesting Op-Ed piece: "No peace, No prosperity, No progress" by SIMON TISDALL / London published Thursday, December 29, 2011


An interesting op-ed piece talked about the upcoming year of 2012. In it the writer mentions that in conflict zones from the Middle East to Africa and Asia, there is scant prospect of relief in 2012 and good grounds for believing that worse is to come. Economically speaking, the monetary and sovereign debt crises affecting Europe and the US threaten to taint global markets further and trigger a general depression. In plain political terms, resurgent nationalism, self-serving or downright corrupt electoral processes, and a growing emphasis on the politics of fear and envy. So, let us look ahead to what 2012 holds!

Is Iran and al Qaeda working together?

Interesting Article: "Iran rejects U.S. allegation on al Qaeda operative" by REUTERS / Tehran published Sunday, December 25, 2011

An interesting article mentioned that Iran rejected as "completely baseless" U.S. allegations that it was harboring an al Qaeda member who is accused of operating as a facilitator and financier for the group from the Islamic Republic, the semi-official Fars news agency reported Sunday. The United States announced Thursday that it was establishing a reward of up to $10 million for information leading to Syrian-born Yasin al-Suri, who is also known as Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil. Al-Suri has been accused of helping move money and recruits through Iran to al Qaeda leaders in neighboring countries under an agreement between the group and the Iranian government, Senior State Department official Robert Hartung has said. Is al Qaeda and Iran working together?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Al Qaeda in Lebanon??

Interesting Article: "No solid evidence of Al-Qaeda presence in Lebanon: Mikati" by THE DAILY STAR / Beirut published Wednesday, December 28, 2011


An interesting article mentioned that last week, Lebanese Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn said arms were being smuggled and “some terrorist members of Al-Qaeda” entered Lebanon through illegal crossings on the Lebanese-Syrian border, particularly Arsal, under the guise of Syrian opposition members (they are said to be in a small Lebanese town near the Syrian border). Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Wednesday he had no solid evidence that Al-Qaeda was present in Lebanon, in an apparent attempt to contain the controversy sparked by Ghosn. Ghosn’s remarks, which came just two days before Syrian officials blamed a rare twin suicide bombing in Damascus that killed 44 people on Al-Qaeda, have stirred controversy at the local level. Interior Minister Marwan Charbel also denied Tuesday that Al-Qaeda had a base in Lebanon. The conflicting statements by the two ministers reflected the apparent the state of disarray within Mikati’s six-month-old Cabinet as Lebanon is reeling under the reverberations of the turmoil in Syria, now in its ninth month. Would you like to know more?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Latest from Syria!

Interesting Article: "Arab League monitors visit Homs" by JULIAN BORGER / London published Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An interesting article in Guardian Newspaper mentioned that tens of thousands of Syrian demonstrators took to the streets of Homs during a visit by Arab League monitors; to protest against alleged mass killings of civilians and prevent what some warned would be a whitewash inspection. The army appeared to withdraw some tanks from Homs hours before the Arab League visit, after pounding rebel districts the previous day. But opposition activists alleged that many tanks had been hidden in government facilities for the visit and that snipers were opening fire on people trying to recover bodies from ruined buildings. What is the latest in Syria?

Iraq's political situation!

Interesting Article:"Al Qaeda in Iraq says it was behind Baghdad blasts" by ASSOCIATED PRESS / Baghdad published Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An al Qaeda front group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for the wave of terrifying attacks that rocked Baghdad last week and killed 69 people. The coordinated attacks on Thursday targeted markets, grocery stores, cafes and government buildings in a dozen mostly Shiite neighborhoods. They coincided with a government crisis that has already strained ties between Sunnis and Shiites to the breaking point. They were the first major attacks since U.S. troops completed a full withdrawal from Iraq this month, increasing doubts about the ability of Iraqi security forces to protect the country. Nearly 200 people were wounded in the bombings. So what is going in Iraq recently, after the U.S withdrawal?

Embattled president of Yemen will come to the U.S!

Interesting Article: "Path Is Cleared for Yemeni Leader to Get Care in U.S."by MARK LANDLER / Honolulu published Monday, December 26, 2011

An interesting article in The New York Times mentioned that the Obama administration has decided in principle to allow the embattled president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to enter the United States for medical treatment, subject to certain assurances, two administration officials said Monday. But those conditions — including a proposed itinerary — have not yet been submitted to the American Embassy in Yemen, these officials said, and no visa has yet been issued to Mr. Saleh. But those conditions — including a proposed itinerary — have not yet been submitted to the American Embassy in Yemen, these officials said, and no visa has yet been issued to Mr. Saleh. The complex negotiations over Mr. Saleh’s visa request attest to the high stakes for the administration, which urgently wants to secure room for political progress in Yemen but does not want to allow Mr. Saleh to use a medical visit as a way to shore up his political position. Nor do they want to play into Mr. Saleh’s penchant for keeping people off kilter. Though the administration had been concerned that approval would anger the many Yemenis eager to see Mr. Saleh prosecuted for the killing of protesters by his security forces, some believe that giving him a way out of Yemen, even temporarily, could help smooth the way to elections next year and perhaps end a political crisis that has brought the government of the impoverished nation to the brink of collapse. So what is the current situation in Yemen?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Iraq, a Sunni Vice President on the Run and Al Qaeda's recent bombing!

Interesting Article: "Baghdad bomb attacks kill at least 60" by ASSOCIATED PRESS / Baghdad published Thursday, December 22, 2011

CBS news reported that a wave of at least 14 bombings ripped across Baghdad Thursday morning, killing at least 60 people in the worst violence in Iraq for months. The apparently coordinated attacks struck days after the last American forces left the country and in the midst of a major government crisis between Shiite and Sunni politicians that has sent sectarian tensions soaring. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the bombings bore all the hallmarks of al Qaeda's Sunni insurgents. Most appeared to hit Shiite neighborhoods, although some Sunni areas were also targeted. In all, 11 neighborhoods were hit by either car bombs, roadside blasts or sticky bombs attached to cars. There was at least one suicide bombing and the blasts went off over several hours. So who are the al Qaeda Sunni insurgents?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yemen & al Qaeda!

Interesting Article: "U.S. Citizen Is Convicted in Plot to Support Al Qaeda" by ABBY GOODNOUGH / Boston published Tuesday, December 20, 2011

An American citizen from an upscale suburb here was convicted on Tuesday of conspiring to support Al Qaeda and of other terrorism charges. Federal prosecutors told the jury that Tarek Mehanna, 29, of Sudbury, traveled to Yemen in 2004 to train as a terrorist with the goal of attacking American soldiers in Iraq. Mehanna, a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, failed to get the training, but then returned home and conspired to help Al Qaeda by promoting violent jihad on the Internet, prosecutors said. The jury deliberated for about 10 hours, after hearing 31 days of testimony. It found Mehanna guilty on all charges, including conspiring to kill in a foreign country and lying to investigators, as well as conspiring to support terrorists. Why do we keep hearing about Yemen?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

AQIM and Europe!

Interesting Op-Ed: "The Terrorists in Europe's Backyard" by AVI JORISCH / Europe published Tuesday, December, 20, 2011


An interesting op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal mentioned that Europe's security is being threatened by the terrorist organization known as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is based in North Africa and active since 2002. AQIM is an al Qaeda affiliate whose principal aim is to overthrow the Algerian government and establish an Islamic state governed by Shariah law in North Africa, Spain and Portugal. AQIM regularly funds its operations through criminal activity in Europe and the kidnapping of Western tourists and aid workers in North Africa, and is now in possession of weapons galore from the fallen Gadhafi regime. It is also actively involved in courting North African immigrant communities in the west. So how does AQIM affect Europe?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Who will be the leader of North Korea now?

Interesting Article: "North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Is Dead" by EVAN RAMSTAD / Seoul published Monday, December 19, 2011

Kim Jong Il died on Saturday of a heart attack while on a train, North Korea's state media said. A television news announcer, dressed in black and her voice quivering with emotion, said Monday the nation would unite behind Kim Jong Il's third son, Kim Jong Eun, as North Korea's new leader. Although the succession plan has been laid out for many months, the elder Kim's sudden death comes as Kim Jong Eun, believed to be 27 or 28 years old, has had little time to develop a power base. To preserve its power, the Kim family will have to work closely with the North Korean military. Kim Jong Il maintained a low profile after taking power following the death of his father in 1994 while he courted military leaders and tried to consolidate his power. The death of the elder Kim will also put on hold talks between North Korea, the U.S. and South Korea that appeared to be making some headway. So who is Kim Jong Eun?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Iran's Nuclear Plans heading underground!

Interesting Article: "Iran may move its nuclear enrichment plants" by ASSOCIATED PRESS / Tehran published Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

A USA Today article mentioned that Iran may move its nuclear enrichment plants to safer locations if necessary. Gholam Reza Jalali, who commands an anti-sabotage unit in the powerful Revolutionary Guard, said the vulnerability of Iran's nuclear facilities from a possible strike is "already minimal" but that the move still may go through for their better protection. Iran's main uranium enrichment site in Natanz in central Iran is built partly underground while the long-secret Fordo facility was built deep inside a mountain as a precaution from aerial attacks. Jalili said the existing infrastructure has already been "a kind of deterrent" against attacks. So what is the latest on Iran's Nuclear ambitions?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Iraq's Future!

Interesting Article: "America closes its Iraq war chapter" by EURONEWS / Baghdad published Thursday, September 15th, 2011
An interesting article mentioned that the U.S. military has officially ended its war in Iraq. During the closing remarks, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said; “we undertake this transition today reminding Iraq that it has in the United States a committed friend and a committed partner. We owe it to all of the lives that have been sacrificed in this war not to fail". In Fallujah, the centre of an al-Qaeda insurgency and some of the war’s bloodiest fighting, some among a crowd of thousands burned US flags. In Baghdad there was also despair about the outcome. The last 4,000 US troops will leave by the end of the year. The US military is saying it leaves behind a reformed, well-trained Iraqi army that can meet the challenges ahead. Just what those challenges may be are unclear. So what is next for Iraq?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The rebranding of Al Qaeda!

Interesting article: "Al Qaeda Rebranding Itself to Improve Image, Arab Diplomat Says" by FOX NEWS / DC published Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

An interesting article discussed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is rebranding itself to try to lose the negative "baggage" associated with the larger terror organization's identity. AQAP is increasingly going by the name "Ansar al Sharia," which means Army of Islamic Law. So why are they suddenly moving away from the al Qaeda name?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kazakhstan, Terrorism & Yellowcake!

Interesting Article: "Kazakhstan, U.S. Deepen Nuclear Security Ties" by NTI / Kazakhstan published Friday, December 2, 2011


An interesting article mentioned that the governments of Kazakhstan and the United States formalized an agreement to deepen their atomic security and safeguards collaboration. "The implementing arrangement is an important next step in our cooperation with Kazakhstan that advances our joint interest in ensuring the highest possible standards for nuclear material safeguards and security," Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said in provided comments. "It reflects our nations' shared commitment to supporting the safe and secure use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes." The NNSA Next Generation Safeguards Initiative will oversee the new areas of activity with Kazakhstan. The initiative is focused on fostering ideas, technical know-how and equipment that can be used to improve and maintain global efforts to protect nuclear material. So, let us discuss a little bit about Kazakhstan.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Al Qaeda operatives still escaping Yemeni Prisons!

Interesting Article: "Al Qaeda militants escape Yemen prison" by ASSOCIATE PRESS/ Sanaa published Monday, December 12, 2011


A recent article by CBS News World, mentioned that Several al Qaeda militants escaped early Monday from a prison in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden, officials said, tunneling their way out in the second such spectacular jailbreak this year. A prison officer said at least 10 convicts escaped through an up to 130 feet long tunnel, which took the inmates from under the western side of the Aden prison to near a petrol station outside the prison walls. A security official said 15 militants fled in the prison break, including 12 convicted for the killing of security officials and a bank heist. Yemen has seen spectacular jailbreaks before. Is Yemen even up to house these militants anymore?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Saudi Arabia going Nuclear!


Interesting Article: "Saudi Arabia's Al-Faisal Hints at Nuclear Arms Ambition . . . Again" by MICHAEL CECIRE / Riyadh published Thursday, December 9, 2011

An interesting article spoke about recent remarks by a prominent Saudi Arabian royal have fanned new fears that Iran's advancing nuclear program could kick-start a nuclear arms race in the region. Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S. and the kingdom's ex-intelligence chief, suggested that given the failure to denuclearize the Middle East, Saudi Arabia should also consider an arsenal of its own. Predictably, al-Faisal's comments fed ongoing speculation that other Arab states might pursue nuclear weapons programs in response to an Iranian bomb. Rather than broadcast the Saudi kingdom's nuclear ambitions, al-Faisal, who is not currently serving in any official capacity for the Saudi government, is more likely seeking to put pressure on the West to take firmer steps to block Iranian ambitions. Though al-Faisal's remarks were widely seen as being directed toward Iran, he also referred to Israel's widely assumed, if unconfirmed, nuclear weapons program as a partial rationale for any Saudi buildup. However, Henderson does not believe this is a major issue for Saudi policymakers, considering that Israel's nuclear arsenal has been well-known to the Saudis for decades. Simon Henderson, the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy believes that al-Maktoum's public acknowledgement that Iran is a problem, but that an Iranian weapon is not yet a foregone conclusion, reflects the region's dirty little secret: that the Gulf states continue to look to Israel to counter this threat. So what of Saudi Arabia's nuclear ambitions?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

German Al Qaeda!

Interesting Article: "German Man Arrested over Alleged Al Qaeda Plot" by ASSOCIATED PRESS / Berlin published Thursday, December 8, 2011

An interesting article mentioned that federal prosecutors have arrested a 27-year-old German man on charges he was part of an Al Qaeda bomb plot in Europe. Suspect Halil S. was arrested in Bochum on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. The suspect is accused of providing financial and logistical support for three other suspects arrested in April on suspicion they were making a bomb. So, what group is active in Germany that supports al Qaeda?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hamas decides to abandon Syrian President, heads to higher ground!

Interesting article: "Iran threatening to cut Hamas funds, arms supply if it flees Syria" by AVI ISSACHAROFF and AMOS HAREL / Damascus published Monday, December 5th, 2011

A recent article in Haaretz mentions that according to some sources, Hamas is abandoning its headquarters in Syria and looking at other Arab states as an alternative location for its political command center. Hamas' move comes despite intense Iranian pressure on the organization to refrain from relocating. The Hamas activists on the move, the sources say, are those responsible for the activities and funding of the organization's military wing, as well as some members of the political leadership. Most have left together with their families to a number of destinations, including Gaza, Sudan, Qatar and Lebanon. The Palestinian sources have defined the relocation activities as a hasty abandonment of Syrian President Bashar Assad, who until recently was Hamas' strongest ally in the Arab world. Is this one of the final blows to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Al Qaeda passes out money in Mali!

Interesting Article: "Al Qaeda Africa Refuge Flourishes By Meshing With Locals" by RUKMINI CALLIMACHI AND MARTIN VOGL / Sokolo published Sunday, December 4th, 2011

An interesting article talked about al Qaeda's influence in Mali. With almost no resistance, al-Qaida has implanted itself in Africa's soft tissue, choosing as its host one of the poorest nations on earth. The terrorist group has create a refuge in this remote land through a strategy of winning hearts and minds, described in rare detail by seven locals in regular contact with the cell. While al-Qaida's central command is in disarray and its leaders on the run following bin Laden's death six months ago, security experts say, the group's 5-year-old branch in Africa is flourishing. From bases like the one in the forest just north of here, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is infiltrating local communities, recruiting fighters, running training camps and planning suicide attacks, according to diplomats and government officials. Let us look at how al Qaeda is following Hezbollah's game plan in Mali.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Iraq and it's future!

Interesting Article: "Iraq PM: Green Zone bomb was assassination attempt" By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA / Baghdad published Saturday, December 3, 2011
An interesting article by the associated press mentioned that a bombing took place inside Baghdad's green zone and that it was an assassination attempt against Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Monday's blast inside the central Baghdad zone, which is supposed to be one of Iraq's most secure areas, has raised new concerns about whether Iraqi forces are able to protect the country when the U.S. military leaves by the end of the year. Al-Maliki played down any suggestion that the attack, in an area that is also home to the U.S. Embassy as well as many Iraqi government institutions, demonstrated any weakness in security ahead of the U.S. military withdrawal. All American forces are to be out of the country by the end of this month. Al-Maliki said the bomb had likely been assembled inside the Green Zone and was not very powerful. Al-Maliki said Iraqi security forces were still looking for at least four people believed to have played a role in the plot. Was this the beginning of more attacks inside supposedly secured areas in Baghdad?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Iran and its pre-Nuclear woes!

Interesting Article: "Iran's nuclear aspirations help drive oil futures" by DANIELS TRADING / DC published Friday, December 2, 2011

An interesting article mentioned that anticipation about an intensifying nuclear conflict between Iran and western powers helped drive crude oil futures to their highest value in two weeks. The market is being bid up because of issues in the Middle East," chief market strategist Bill O'Grady with Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis told Bloomberg. "I wouldn't go home short over the weekend when tensions between Iran and the rest are increasing." In November, Iran pumped 3.56 million barrel of oil, according to a Bloomberg survey. So what is Iran’s nuclear path?

Libya Weapons and where they are heading!

Interesting Article: "U.K. warns of growing al-Qaeda risk in North Africa" by ASSOCIATED PRESS / London published Wednesday, November 30, 2011.

A recent article mentioned that Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said that there is a risk mercenary fighters driven out of Libya could switch allegiance to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Hague told the House of Commons on Monday that Britain is also concerned that weapons from unguarded stockpiles in Libya may have fallen into AQIM hands following dictator Moammar Gadhafi's fall. Hague said there was an escalating threat across the entire Sahel region, which stretches from Mauritania to Chad. So what types of weapons are getting out of Libya, and to whom is it going to?