Monday, December 29, 2008

Gaza: A Return to Deterrence?

Hollywood and the Feds

In case you missed it earlier in the month, this appeared in The New York Post:


Naturally, they met at Elaine's, a venue almost as important to a certain class of New York law enforcement officer as One Police Plaza or the FBI field office. Rossini -- handsome, polished and very well connected -- was probably the biggest counterterror celebrity in the Bureau.

Gaza Gets Worse

Israeli troops mobilize as Gaza assault widens

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Fewer Cops Killed

Police officer deaths drop in 2008

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gaza Bombing: Watching for Regional Escalaton

The scale of these Israeli strikes has to be viewed as more than
retaliation. It is in effect a test, seeing who will react, and how
dramatically. The pro forma Arab condemnations, Abu Mazen's feeble
call for restraint, and protests by "dozens" of Palestinians in Syrian
and Lebanese camps signify little. The question mark is Hezbollah and,
in the background, Iran. Will they respond as they did in the summer
of 2006, when Gaza was under siege in the south and they opened up on
Israel's northern front? Is Israel ready to respond if they do? And is
Lebanon ready for that response? All delicate and dangerous
calculations. After Hezbollah's leading terrorist, Imad Mugniyeh, was
blown up in Damascus last spring, Nasrallah vowed to take revenge
outside the normal theaters of confrontation. That could mean
anywhere, literally, as with the example of the Argentine attacks in
the 1990s. Has Hezbollah held back waiting for the right political
moment? This could be it.

And we can also expect Al Qaeda to try to get in on the action, most
likely with another video from Ayman Zawahiri.

Israel strikes demolish Hamas compounds, kill 192

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Somalia: Pirates and Rising Powers

China targets pirates in groundbreaking mission

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008 Young Muslims Build a Subculture on an Underground Book

The New York Times

US | December 23, 2008
Young Muslims Build a Subculture on an Underground Book
A five-year-old novel about punk rock Muslims in Buffalo has inspired many who reconcile religious observance with being an "angry American youth."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

BBC News: Cheney's Endless War

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My office e-mail remains: Tumult in Iraqi Parliament Over Shoe Hurling

The New York Times E-mail This
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The shoe saga continues...

INTERNATIONAL / MIDDLE EAST   | December 18, 2008
Tumult in Iraqi Parliament Over Shoe Hurling
A session of the Iraqi Parliament erupted in an uproar on Wednesday as the continuing detention of an Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush was hotly debated.

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Click here to view trailer

Ga. judge jails Muslim woman over head scarf

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Homegrown Terrorism: Dumb and Dumber

CAMDEN, New Jersey (Reuters) - Five Muslim men accused of planning an attack on a U.S. army base had no intention of following through even though they shared Muslim anger toward America after September 11, defense attorneys said on Tuesday.

The men, all born outside the United States, plotted but did not execute an attack on Fort Dix in New Jersey and discussed attacks on other installations including Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and the U.S. Coast Guard in Philadelphia, prosecutors say.

They were arrested in May 2007 and face life in prison if convicted....

This group is typical of the "homegrown terrorist" threat which I examine at length in Securing the City. One of the great common traits among such plotters is their stunning stupidity, which is then exploited by undercover officers or confidential informants who may act as facilitators, organizers, even "spiritual sanctioners," in the jargon of the NYPD's extensive report on "Radicalization in the West." (pdf)

When the members of such cells come to trial, they typically claim not only that they were entrapped but, inevitably and not without cause, they plead ignorance. Unfortunately, stupid people kill people, too. Several of the World Trade Center bombers in 1993 were pretty dim bulbs, and one, Mohammed Salameh who tried to get back the deposit on the rental truck he blew up, was moronic. But six people died, many more might have been killed, and the event set off a chain of events and created a web of connections that culminated in the disastrous second attack of 9/11.

In fact, the greatest danger is that a "homegrown" collection of homicidal dimwits will be missed by the cops, or not taken seriously, then hook up with someone much brighter who knows how to organize them and exploit them. In the 1993 plot, that role was played for a while by an FBI informant, but when the feds got bored with his stories and dropped him from the payroll, the cell managed to reach out to ... Ramzi Yousef, a true terrorist mastermind, and the nephew of Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, the brains behind 9/11.

The Fort Dix case, fortunately, was broken by a clerk at Circuit City. This is from the original complaint, the full text of which can be found as a pdf at :

1. On or about January 31, 2006, a representative of a retail store informed officials of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) that an individual had brought a video to their store to be duplicated into a digital video disk (“DVD”). That DVD depicted conduct – recorded as having occurred on January 3, 2006 – that the store representative described as disturbing. FBI agents reviewed the DVD in question. The DVD depicted 10 young men who appeared to be in their early twenties
shooting assault weapons at a firing range in a militia-like
style while calling for jihad and shouting in Arabic “Allah Akbar” (“God is Great”). The FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force (“JTTF”) immediately commenced an investigation into the activities of the men depicted in the DVD.
2. The FBI identified the 10 men depicted in the DVD, six of whom are: MOHAMAD SHNEWER, DRITAN DUKA, a/k/a “Distan Duka,” a/k/a “Anthony Duka,” a/k/a “Tony Duka,” ELJVIR DUKA, a/k/a “Elvis Duka,” a/k/a “Sulayman,” SHAIN DUKA, SERDAR TATAR, and AGRON ABDULLAHU. Immigration and Customs Enforcement checks show that DRITAN DUKA, ELJVIR DUKA, and SHAIN DUKA are illegally residing in the United States.
3. In or about March 2006, a cooperating witness (“CW-1") successfully
infiltrated this group ...

Sock and Awe

Is it time to start feeling sorry for President Bush? Probably not as sorry as we should feel for the Iraqis or, for that matter, the environment, the economy, the state of the nation and the world. But, still... For the surprisingly spry Bush to face the slings and arrows, or at least the shoes, of an outraged Iraqi while on his farewell, things-are-finally-getting-better visit to Baghdad is a bit much. As an American, I don't want to see my president treated this way, even this president.

For a British Web developer to cobble together, in a matter of hours, a video game called "Sock and Awe" that allows you to hurl a virtual Topsider at Bush's face with the click of a mouse, well, that is adding silly insult to non-injury. (Maybe a Dana Perino pop-up for extra points will be added to version 2.0.)

And then there is the matter of the "Intelligence Squared U.S." debate on NPR, which asked if Bush is the worst president of the last 50 years. The proposition was so shockingly disrespectful that I thought, truly, the pack-hunting press had begun to go too far. But then I looked at the defense of Bush put up by William Kristol and Carl Rove, and, you know, it's hard to contemplate the continued, unreprentant sophistry without wanting to throw a shoe or two yourself.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


President On the Precipice

Sarkozy is a loose cannon with no real opposition. So far, he's fared well. But that could change.

An Obama-inspired poster of President Sarkozy inside a Paris subway station
Olivier Laban-Mattei / AFP-Getty Images
An Obama-inspired poster of President Sarkozy inside a Paris subway station
Published Dec 13, 2008
Mumbai gunman's confession sheds light on massacre

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Not all terrorism is Islamic.

Bomb explodes at Oregon bank; at least 1 injured

In fact most incidents in the United States are related to the far
right or to radical animal rights groups. And explosives are becoming a relatively common method to settle personal scores. So this kind of incident bears
watching, even though it is likely to fade from the headlines very

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Save the Dates to Secure Your City

The current dates for the Securing the City tour include:

New York City

Feb. 2, 2009 -- 6:00 pm -- The Overseas Press Club

Feb. 3 -- 6:00 pm -- NYU Center on Law & Security

Washington, D.C.

Feb. 4 -- 6:45 -- Smithsonian Institute


Feb. 9 -- 7:00 pm -- Jimmy Carter Library


Feb. 11 -- 11:30 am -- Union League Club luncheon

Los Angeles Area

Feb. 12 -- 6 pm -- Orange County World Affairs Council, Costa Mesa

Feb. 13 -- 7 pm -- Book Soup, Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

San Francisco

Feb. 17 -- 7 pm -- Books, Inc.

New York City

Feb. 19 -- 6:15 pm -- Colony Club dinner


Feb. 23 -- 6 pm -- Houston Forum


Feb. 24 -- 6 pm -- World Affairs Council