Jihad: More Than an Eight Second Ride

Viewpoints on the Global War on Terror from a Home on the Range.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bali Attacks of October 1st

Three bomb attacks hit the resort-haven of Bali, Indonesia yesterday, two in Jimbaran and one in Kuta beach, killing at least 26 and wounding about 130. The attacks came not far from the site of the October 12th 2002 bombing that killed 202 people.
The attacks occurred very close together, Indonesian news agencies reporting the first detonations (in Jimbaran) happened at 6:50PM and the third, in Kuta, happenings at 7:00pm.
Thanks to a recovered camcorder video and remains analysis Police in Bali are saying the attacks were the work of suicide bombers. "I have seen them. All that is left is their head and feet." Maj Gen Ansyaad Mbai said. The devices worn by the bombers were probably laden with ball-bearings or similar "added-shrapnel" pieces designed to increase the number of casualties above and beyond those injured by the blasts alone. Several victims presented with serious shrapnel wounds and others have reported to the media that their x-rays have revealed ball bearings or similar particles embedded into their bodies.
The attacks are the work of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Al Qaeda connected Islamist terror group responsible for the October 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali, resulting in 202 deaths (a majority of those foreign tourists). Jemaah Islamiyah (sometimes seen Jemaah Islamiah) is also considered responsible for the 2003 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia that killed 12 people, and the 2004 bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, resulting in 11 deaths.
Major media has reported, and still continues to report after this latest series of attacks, that Indonesian officials have been successful in disrupting JI and weakening the organization with arrests of many members, including key figures (such as Abu Bakar Bashir) behind the 2002, 2003 and 2004 bombings. This is gross-overstatement. The latest series of attacks should prove that JI, like any other organization, can successfully mount operations with many members and key figures in prison. The steady pace and continued success of JI's attacks should also speak strongly to their resiliency and flexibility as an organization - Since October of 2002 there has been one significant attack a year from JI, all in the August to October time-frame.
Two key figures in all the attacks, Dr. Azahari Husin and Noordin Mohammed Top, are still on the "run" from Indonesian authorities, and have been since 2002. Despite their fugitive status Husin and Top remain active, and are considered two of the key bomb makers for Jemaah Islamiyah. Husin is believed to have written the bomb manual that was used in the 2002 and 2003 attacks. Even if they are arrested soon their knowledge has still been spread within the network of JI, and their "contribution" to the cause will continue to be seen as other attacks are carried out. Leaders, and formal organization structures are not needed to successfully mount terrorist attacks for furthering the goals of caliphist terror organizations.

The latest attacks come at a key-time, the same day that Indonesia cut fuel subsidies raising gas prices by 125%, just two days before the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan and within the same time frame as the previous attacks. It is also a school-holiday in Australia, and an estimated 7,500 Australians were visiting Bali.
This is in keeping with the nature of the attacks of the past three years, targeting the tourist population in particular. This continues the pattern disrupting tourism, and interfering with the economy of Bali to attempt affecting Jemaah Islamiyah's goals.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Katrina Failure pt. II

Some more detail on the failure of our response to Katrina:

The United States is unprepared to implement an appropriate medical response to a large-scale disaster with mass casualties, according to an internal Homeland Security Department review completed in January.

“The nation’s medical leadership works in isolation, its medical response capability is fragmented and ill-prepared to deal with a mass casualty event and ... DHS lacks an adequate medical support capability for its field operating units,” says the report.

The report, “Medical Readiness Responsibilities and Capabilities: A Strategy for Realigning and Strengthening the Federal Medical Response,” warns that there has been insufficient planning for a surge of patients from a disaster like a biological or nuclear attack, the Associated Press reported yesterday.

The document calls for formation of a uniformed medical reserve corps modeled on the National Guard, according to AP.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was reorganizing his agency in response to the report when hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit, agency officials said. Chertoff created the position of chief medical officer to spearhead preparedness, they added.

“I thought it (the report) was a great place to start,” said Jeffrey Runge, the new chief medical officer.

However, the report’s author, surgeon Jeffrey Lowell, said the agency has not made adequate changes. Lowell added that the current system of volunteer medical teams was “pretty much shot” when called upon to respond to more than one disaster at a time (Cheryl Wittenauer, Associated Press/SuburbanChicagoNews.com, Sept. 26).[This arrangement from the NTI: Global Security Newswire]

Then there is this - Hurricane Poses Tough Questions about Future Disasters, from the Khaleej Times.
The world is watching us - We're America, that great mythological state (which is the same thing that makes us the jihadist/califist's enemy) - and they see how we have failed. Our enemy see's how we have failed. Its in his newspapers.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Going to "School"

Something else from that Guardian Article I just linked below -

Roadside bombs account for most of the lives lost, and the size and design of the explosions has led investigators to conclude that the insurgents are learning bombmaking methods from other terrorist organisations.

Yesterday's New York Times reported that the techniques used by Hezbollah in Lebanon were increasingly being seen in roadside bombs in Iraq.

An unnamed senior American commander quoted by the paper said bombs using shaped charges closely matched the bombs that Hezbollah used against Israel.

"Our assessment is that they are probably going off to 'school' to learn how to make bombs that can destroy armoured vehicles," he said.

They arent going off to "school" - school has come to them. Not recently either - The knowledge already exists within terrorist networks, and has for years. The Afghan/Russian war produced a vast amount of knowledge on fighting armorer vehicles from a guerrilla/insurgent perspective. The information was actually codified in one of the volumes of the now infamous 11-volume "Encyclopedia of Jihad".
Hezbollah's lessons techniques and lessons learned can easily be expected to have been exported just as much, and just as well, as anything from the Afghan mujahideen/Al Qaeda.
The few foreigners in Iraq are probably actively importing this knowledge, and disseminating it for further spread, and probably have been since the start of the insurgency.
They havent just suddenly learned how to build bombs that can defeat armor. No one has suddenly opened a "school" for it. The entire theater is a school, and every theater since the late 1980's has been one as well.


From The Guardian: Elusive Sniper Saps US Morale in Baghdad
Reports suggest this "Juba" character has previously operated elsewhere, including Al Anbar and Kirkut.

Hopefully one of our snipers can get the drop on him soon. I'd say hang quarters of him around Baghdad if we do, but I'd hate to give them any more martyrs. Although they certainly dont need any more living hero's either.

Monday, September 26, 2005

"A Good Article"

Often on the internet boards and email lists, and in "real life" conversations, someone will pass along an article about the WoT (War on Terror) that they'll call "good" or "great".
I've noticed that usually when this happens the article they pass along will be fairly complimentary to the politics and viewpoints of the person applying the tag, and say things that support their ideas about the WoT or make them feel good in some fashion. Left wing or right wing, I'm seeing this happen all over the place - if the article is agreeable to, if not downright cozy and comfortable with, Reader A's political ideas and opinions when he or she passes it along to Readers B and C, it will be called a "good", "great" or "excellent" article.
Thats fine, everyone is entitled to their ideas and opinions and has a right to share them - But, all too often (especially on the internet boards) I see people confusing opinion articles (that "great" article) with strong intelligence.
The MSM (Main Stream Media for anyone not deep enough into the "blogosphere" to know that) writes and talks a lot about the WoT, but very rarely does any of it begin to approach valuable intelligence. The MSM, whether its Fox, MSNBC, CNN, C-Span, the BBC, or Al Jazeera (the latter two occasionally reporting something of value, not just repeating someone else - particularly Al Jazeera, being as close to the "action" as they are) are in the business of "InfoTainment" - entertaining people through information. Unfortunately real news, happenings and events that are actually valuable to know about, particularly open-source intel valuable, are not entertaining. They are often boring, or uncomfortable. And everyone who's ever tried to sell other people entertainment knows that if there is one thing it cannot be, that is uncomfortable.
Maybe a little, but only just a little - the dirty kinky fetish everyone can agree is "nasty" but no one can stop watching, little tingles of excitement radiationg through their mind. But truly uncomfortable? No. If it makes the viewer uncomfortable, they will change the channel. If it makes the reader uncomfortable, they will buy another newspaper.
The media is extremely rarely an intel source - and almost as rarely do they deliver real honesty in reporting. It always has a spin, right or left, because thats what keeps people watching, being comfortable with that is presented to them.
And thats one thing good intel is definately not; always comfortable. Facts are not political, and have no agenda, they simply are what they are and thats not something most people can swallow easily.
However, if you want any particularly "good" idea of what is actually going on, where we're winning, where we're losing, you cant be that way - comfort shouldnt be part of it. Just because something doesnt comfortably mesh with the ideology of your political party doesnt mean its wrong.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Iraq Insurgency - Not Foreign

The 'myth' of Iraq's Foreign Fighters

The idea that a vast majority of the insurgents in Iraq are Iraqi's has been kicked around before, mostly out of the public eye, and I think its right.
The scary thing is going to be the amount of experienced "jihadists" who come out of the Iraq conflict. Theres concern over the few foreign fighters exporting their lessons learned but the Iraqi fighters who are becoming more and more aligned with jihadist causes (not just Iraqi causes) and gaining invaluable battle experience are going to bring a level of training (the best kind, through experience) and skill to the table that hasnt been seen in the current generations since the vetrans of the Afghan/Russian war.

Marines: Fighting Insurgencies of the Future

Marines Probing New Ways to Fight Future Insurgencies

Among those threats are organizations such as Al Qaeda, which employ terrorist tactics but also embody many of the characteristics of an insurgency, according to one Marine strategist.

Al Qaeda’s transnational networking and a multi-ethnic constituency has the makings of a “spiritually based insurgency that is somewhat different than the Maoist people’s war model, which underwrites most counterinsurgency doctrine,” wrote Marine Lt. Col. Michael F. Morris in a March 2005 research paper at the U.S. Army War College.

The dangers Al Qaeda pose flow from its willingness to employ weapons of mass destruction, its global reach and its focus on targeting America, Morris noted. But, more importantly, Al Qaeda’s strength lies in its “revolutionary and expansionist ideology.”

The size of Osama bin Laden’s organization, its political goals, and its enduring relationship with a fundamentalist Islamic social movement, Morris added, “provide strong evidence that Al Qaeda is not a terrorist group but an insurgency.”

This form of insurgency challenges the Pentagon’s traditional approach to planning wars, Morris argued. Al Qaeda is engaging in a “somewhat leisurely paced guerrilla war,” which makes it difficult for U.S. planners to develop a strategic response. “Long term success for the United States will require support for true political reform, a revolutionary cause in itself, among autocratic Islamic governments.”

Jamestown Terrorism Monitor Turns its Eye on Italy

Terrorism Monitor - Special Issue on Italy (Acrobat Reader required to view - Get It)

With the upcoming Olympics in Turin, and repeated threats from Al Qaeda against Italy for its support of the Iraq war, the Jamestown Foundation has released a special issue of the Terrorism Monitor focusing on the imminence of attacks in Italy.

FBI Missing the Latest Trend in Terrorism


John Robb has been saying this for months, at Global Guerrillas.

Anti-Porn Task Force Weakens National Security

FBI Forms Anti-Porn Squad

So, the FBI is taking active agents off other cases, taking money that could be applied elsewhere to real dangers to American citizens, and putting it towards the task of investigating and prosecuting everyday American’s for looking at certain types of pornography.
Does this bother anyone else? I hope so.
Now, I certainly don’t like a lot of the things that seem to do it for other people. BBW Bondage II or Pony Perversions IV may not be most peoples cup of tea, but is it a threat to the security of our nation and her citizens?
Its legislating morality, and wasting the resources of law enforcement on enforcing Conservative Christian viewpoints on American citizens.
This type of thing weakens our nations security, and it weakens the citizens faith in their law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It also makes us look like fools to everyone abroad, including our enemies. After the dismal failure of Hurricane Katrina, do we really need to be disabusing the citizens of their pretty faiths and making ourselves the running joke of our enemies even further?

Even our law enforcement is forced to laugh at their handlers over this -
"I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Katrina Failure

As a first responder with incident command system and major incident response training (albeit focused on terrorism, but the discipline crosses into disaster response too), I watched in horror as the response to Katrina flopped, floundered and fell hard on so many occasions early on.
I admit, I was surprised. I had bought the whole package hook, line and sinker - After 9/11 we'd spent billions on grant funding through Homeland Security to get training and equipment to every police, fire and emergency rescue department from Anchorage, Alaska to Zap, North Dakota. I've got the Standardized Equipment List, I've looked at the new gear, I've seen the shiny new HazMat trucks, and I've trained in the supposed "system" for immediate response to major events. They put it out there, I looked at it and I believed, because, well, how could I not? I am a cynic and pessimist, but how could I not believe that we weren't doing this right? We had every reason to get it right, and we had all the bright shiny new toys to make it look like we were doing it. I should have known better.
In the first major event we've faced as a nation, as responders, since 9/11, the system failed miserably.
It took at least 24 hours after the levee's broke in New Orleans to raise the alarm within FEMA or the Department of Homeland Security.
DHS didn't give the disaster the designation of "incident of national significance", a designation that in the new systems allows resources to be freed up for response, for 36 hours.
It took two days for a military task force to respond, when the DoD is the only agency that has the resources and manpower to effectively mobilize and transport the needed personnel, equipment and goods to mount an effective response to this scale of disaster.
And the failure didn't begin there - Local officials at all levels and from NOLA to Biloxi delayed evacuation orders, or preparation of local response efforts for critical hours, for unknowable reasons.
The NOLA levees failed before the hurricane made landfall, and it took far too long for any sort of response to happen, much less an organized federal one. And yet, the federal level is supposed to be the head of the chain, the over-brain of some sort of hydra of responders. But no one knew anything. Communication was non-existent, and it took hours to get accurate reports of damage back to local authorities, much less on up the chain to state or federal - because there was no chain. Everyone sat there, on their thumbs, and watched the 'cane make landfall when money had already been freed up to respond, then waited a little more while everything went to hell, and then started trying to play catch up.
In the days that followed the man charged with directing FEMA, the supposed god-brain of the ICS, was thrown to the wolves as the fool he is and resigned for his mismanagement (a pattern he started when he ran the International Arabian Horse Association into bankruptcy and near non-existence a few years back. I've been involved with horses all my life, and horse people and horse organizations - its simply not that hard a job, and it takes a lot of effort to do that to a horse organization). Unfortunately for Michael Brown, although he sewed what he ended up reaping, he was made to suffer for more sins than his own. The entire system and the people behind it failed, and only one of them got canc'ed.The same people are still in the same places to make the same mistakes.
And what does this mean for terrorism?
It means we are as un-prepared to respond to a major attack as we were on September 10th, 2001. The added money, new structure, and increased levels of command structure may actually make the entire system less able to respond than it was back then.
Not only do we have this weakness, but we have exposed it to the entire world in the most public way possible. It should be embarrassing, but the damage done by it is so much greater than a few red faces that a little shame pales in comparison.

Amerithrax Investigation Slowing - New Report

Thanks to the NTI Global Security Newswire I came across this Washington Post article on the joint FBI/Postal Inspectors investigation into the anthrax attacks of 2001, Little Progress In FBI Probe of Anthrax Attacks.

FBI agents and United States Postal Service inspectors are running out of leads in their investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people and contaminated 17 post offices, the Washington Post reported today (see GSN, July 29).

The agencies have issued more than 5,000 subpoenas, conducted more than 8,000 interviews on four continents and performed dozens of searches at homes, laboratories and other sites. Investigators went twice to Afghanistan following tips that failed to pan out, according to law enforcement sources.

In 2003, the FBI spent $250,000 to drain a pond in Maryland to look for potential evidence. They found nothing of use, authorities said.

Law enforcement official said the investigation, known as Amerithrax, needs a break.

The FBI has lowered the number of agents dedicated to the case from 31 to 21 over the last year, while the number of Postal Service investigators has gone from 13 to nine. A $2.5 million reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction remains unclaimed, the Post reported.

“This globe-spanning investigation remains intensely active and broadly focused,” said FBI spokeswoman Debbie Weierman. “The FBI and U.S. Postal Inspection Service remain steadfastly committed to the 22 victims of the attacks and to bring to justice those responsible.”

Law enforcement officials are taking inventory in a report that will review the investigation to this point. The report is expected to address investigators’ primary theory: that a U.S. scientist with access to anthrax was behind the mailings, according to authorities.

It also should include the names of people deemed “persons of interest” during the investigation and new scientific tests on the anthrax strain. While the laboratory of origin has not been identified, attention has been paid to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick.

Investigations in high-profile, complex cases can last for years, law enforcement officials said.

“It doesn't sound like they're close to cracking the case,” said Eric Holder, deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration (Allen Lengel, Washington Post, Sept. 16).

I am still frightened by the fact that an American, or group of Americans, working at high levels in a top notch bio-weapons lab decided that post 9-11 was the perfect time to attack their own country, and has still not been caught. This person, or group, still poses a very real threat. Maybe not with anthrax but if they have or had access to the anthrax they did, the list of what else they could have had access to is a virtual cornucopia of bio-nastiness that could make Anthrax look like a skin rash.
And the particular strain and milling of anthrax used in the 2001 attacks was no particularly pleasant or lowgrade thing. It certainly wasnt the simple sort that pundits have screeched and squaked could be cooked up in the trunk of Abu Bin Hadji's used Volvo in the parking lot at CalTech.
To paraphrase from Malcolm Nance, author of the Terrorist Recognition Handbook - It was of the Ames strain, believed to have originated in U.S. BioWeapons stockpiles, but it had been milled to a level never before seen in either the U.S. or Russian bioweapons programs, 1.2 Trillion (with a T) Spores per Gram. It also used a proprietary U.S. developed Silica coating method. It was probably the finest anthrax ever produced, and there are probably only a few people in the world who could have produced this, and they couldnt have done it alone. The equipment needed would be of the type found only in the best labs here in the U.S.
Not only was this anthrax of truly a superior quality, but the attacks on the Senate were deliberately intended to be deadly. This wasnt someone trying to send his message to get more funding for vaciine research, as is commonly thought. If it was he could have sent less than a couple million spores, in ten envelopes, to far less important people than the Senate and done his job. As it was a combined 2.4 Trillion spores in two envelopes were mailed to the senate, with the easy possibility of killing every senator and their respective staffs.
Nance has said in internet posts that the person/people behind this are probably far-right extremists, who targetted an at the time Democratic majority senate without concern over non-"Liberal" victims, and also targetted major "Liberal Media", but not conservative media such as Fox or the Washington post. Seems a very plausible theory to me.
Whoever is behind this, whichever American(s) with severely misplaced values and loyalties, is still out there. They probably still have access to horrors beyond our scope of imagining, and they may well still have plans to use them. Their targets may remain their chosen "liberal enemy", but they have already proven that anyone (and everyone) else is just collateral damage. If this doesnt scare you, please share some of your barbituates and vodka with the rest of the class.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

FARC Bombings Target Power Grid

Attacks deliberately targetted major towers, high voltage transmission lines not backyard utility poles.
If you want to learn more about this type of infrastructure attack, and the temporary autonomous zones it creates or reinforces, look to the links at right and go visit John Robb's Global Guerrillas.


An excellent essay from Eject! Eject! Eject!
I'm not a fan of Grossman or his work, he turned me off in a big way with his academic dishonesty in On Killing, and would actually like that essay better if the aurhor just stuck to "Pink" vs. "Grey" - but, the core idea is all the same, and its excellent.
This has both nothing to do with terrorism, and a lot to do with terrorism. "Pink" attitudes make a lot of terrorism possible.