Thursday, August 17, 2017

The secret to North Korea’s ICBM success

How has North Korea managed to make such astounding progress with its long-range missile programme over the last two years? Here, Michael Elleman shares the first solid evidence that North Korea has acquired a high-performance liquid-propellant engine from illicit networks in Russia and Ukraine.

North Korea’s missile programme has made astounding strides over the past two years. An arsenal that had been based on short- and medium-range missiles along with an intermediate-range Musudan that repeatedly failed flight tests, has suddenly been supplemented by two new missiles: the intermediate-range Hwasong-12 and the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-14. No other country has transitioned from a medium-range capability to an ICBM in such a short time. What explains this rapid progression? The answer is simple. North Korea has acquired a high-performance liquid-propellant engine (LPE) from a foreign source.

Available evidence clearly indicates that the LPE is based on the Soviet RD-250 family of engines, and has been modified to operate as the boosting force for the Hwasong-12 and -14. An unknown number of these engines were probably acquired though illicit channels operating in Russia and/or Ukraine. North Korea’s need for an alternative to the failing Musudan and the recent appearance of the RD-250 engine along with other evidence, suggests the transfers occurred within the past two years.

Tests reveal recent technical gains.

North Korea ground tested a large LPE in September 2016, which it claimed could generate 80 tonnes’ thrust. The same LPE was again ground tested in March 2017. This test included four smaller, steering engines. On 14 May 2017, with Kim Jong-un overseeing test preparations, North Korea launched a new intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-12. The single-stage missile flew on a very steep trajectory, reaching a peak altitude of over 2,000km. If the Hwasong-12 had used a normal flight path, it would have travelled between 4,000 and 4,500km, placing Guam, just 3,400km away, within range.

The success of the Hwasong-12 flight in May gave North Korean engineers the confidence needed to pursue a more ambitious goal: the initial flight testing of a two-stage missile capable of reaching the continental United States. Less than two months after the Hwasong-12 test, the two-stage Hwasong-14 was launched on 4 July. A second Hwasong-14 was tested on 28 July. The Hwasong-14 launches flew on very steep flight paths, with the first shot reaching an apogee of 2,700km. The second test peaked at about 3,800km.

North Korea’s announced results were independently confirmed by the Republic of Korea, Japan and US. In both tests, the mock warheads plummeted towards the East Sea, 900–1,000km from the launch point. If flown on a trajectory that maximises range instead of peak altitude, the two missiles would have reached about 7,000km and 9,000km respectively, well exceeding the 5,500km minimum distance for a system to be categorised as an ICBM.

The dimensions and visible features of the Hwasong-12 indicate an overall mass of between 24,000 and 25,000kg. The Hwasong-12’s acceleration at lift-off, as determined by the launch video aired by KCNA, is about 8.5 to 9.0m/s2. Assuming North Korea did not manipulate the launch video, the thrust generated by the Hwasong-12’s complete engine assembly is between 45 and 47 tonnes’ thrust; the main engine contributes between 39 to 41 tonnes’ force, and the auxiliary engines about 6 tonnes’ force. The Hwasong-14 has an estimated mass of 33,000–34,000kg, and an initial acceleration rate of about 4–4.5m/s2, resulting in a total thrust of 46–48 tonnes’ force.

Identifying the new LPE and its origins

The origins of the new engine (see Figures 1 and 2) are difficult to determine with certainty. However, a process of elimination sharply narrows the possibilities.

There is no evidence to suggest that North Korea successfully designed and developed the LPE indigenously. Even if, after importing Scud and Nodong engines, North Korea had mastered the production of clones, which remains debateable, this does not mean that it could design, develop and manufacture a large LPE from scratch, especially one that uses higher-performance propellants and generates 40 tonnes’ thrust.

Figure 1: The liquid-propellant engines ground tested in September 2016 and March 2017 appear to be the same, though only the second ground test and the Hwasong-12 flight test operate with four auxiliary or vernier engines, which steer the missile.

Claims that the LPE is a North Korean product would be more believable if the country’s experts had in the recent past developed and tested a series of smaller, less powerful engines, but there are no reports of such activities. Indeed, prior to the Hwasong-12 and -14 flights, every liquid-fuelled missile launched by North Korea – all of the Scuds and Nodongs, even the Musudan – was powered by an engine developed and originally produced by the Russian enterprise named for A.M. Isayev; the Scud, Nodong and R-27 (from which the Musudan is derived) missiles were designed and originally produced by the Russian concern named after V.P. Makeyev. It is, therefore, far more likely that the Hwasong-12 and -14 are powered by an LPE imported from an established missile power.

If this engine was imported, most potential sources can be eliminated because the external features, propellant combination and performance profile of the LPE in question are unique. The engine tested by North Korea does not physically resemble any LPE manufactured by the US, France, China, Japan, India or Iran. Nor do any of these countries produce an engine that uses storable propellants and generates the thrust delivered by the Hwasong-12 and -14 LPE. This leaves the former Soviet Union as the most likely source.

Figure 2: The three missiles tested by North Korea are powered by the same engine complex, with one main engine and four steering engines.

Given North Korea’s reliance to date on technologies originating with the Isayev and Makeyev enterprises, one might suspect one or both as the probable supplier. However, neither enterprise has been associated with an engine that matches the performance of LPE used by Hwasong-12 and -14.

An exhaustive search of engines produced by other manufacturers in the former Soviet Union yields a couple of possibilities, all of which are associated with the Russian enterprise named after V.P. Glushko, now known as Energomash. The RD-217, RD-225 and RD-250 engine families use high-energy, storable-liquid propellants similar to those employed by engines tested by North Korea. Neither the RD-217 nor RD-225 have external features matching those of North Korea’s new engine. The RD-250 is the only match.

 Figure 3: The RD-250 engine consists of a pair of combustion chambers fed by a single turbopump. Each chamber produces about 394k Newtons of thrust, or about 40 tonnes’ force, when relying on UDMH as the fuel, and N2O4 as the oxidiser. The RD-250’s nozzle also features a cooling tube and a compliance ring that resemble those found on the engines tested by North Korea. The small engine with its nozzle pointed upward and displayed in the foreground is not associated with the RD-250 engine.

The RD-250 engine is normally configured as a pair of combustion chambers, which receive propellant from a single turbopump, as shown in Figure 3. When operated in tandem, the two chambers generate roughly 78–80 tonnes’ thrust. This level of thrust is similar to the claims North Korea made when the first ground test was conducted and publicised in September 2016.

It gradually became clear, however, that the Hwasong-12 and -14 used single-chamber engines. Note, for example, that Pyongyang claimed that a new pump design was used for the September ground test. This makes sense, because operating the RD-250 as a single chamber LPE would necessitate a new or modified turbopump. Having no demonstrated experience modifying or developing large LPE turbopumps, Pyongyang’s engineers would have been hard pressed to make the modifications themselves. Rather, the technical skills needed to modify the existing RD-250 turbopump, or fashioning a new one capable of feeding propellant to a single chamber would reside with experts with a rich history of working with the RD-250. Such expertise is available at Russia’s Energomash concern and Ukraine’s KB Yuzhnoye. One has to conclude that the modified engines were made in those factories.

The alternative hypothesis, that Russian/Ukraine engineers were employed in North Korea is less likely, given the absence of any known production facility in North Korea for such engines. In addition, Western experts who visited KB Yuzhnoye Ukraine within the past year told the author that a single-chamber version was on display at a nearby university and that a local engineer boasted about producing it.

Why single-chamber engines were transferred rather than the more powerful double-chamber original versions is unclear. One possible hypothesis is that the exporters, for whatever reason, exercised restraint in what they were willing to transfer to North Korea. Combined with a second stage, however, the single-chamber RD-250 engine is powerful enough to send an ICBM to cities on the American West Coast at least.

The RD-250 was originally designed by the Glushko enterprise of Russia, and produced and incorporated into the first stage of the R-36 (SS-9) ICBM and the Tsiklon-2 satellite launcher by KB Yuzhnoye of Ukraine. The Tsiklon-2 carrier rocket lofted its first satellite into orbit in 1969, with the last of 106 launches occurring in 2006. While Yuzhnoye was responsible for producing the Tsiklon-2 rocket, Russian entities launched the satellite. The relationship survived the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 primarily because of long-standing institutional linkages, and the commercial interests of both enterprises and countries. However, despite the Tsiklon-2’s unsurpassed reliability record, Russia stopped purchasing the Yuzhnoye rocket in 2006 in favour of an indigenous system. Yuzhnoye’s repeated attempts to market the rocket and related technologies to other potential customers, including Boeing and Brazil, yielded little. The once vaunted KB Yuzhnoye has been near financial collapse since roughly 2015.

The total number of RD-250 engines fabricated in Russia and Ukraine is not known. However, there are almost certainly hundreds, if not more, of spares stored at KB Yuzhnoye’s facilities and at warehouses in Russia where the Tsiklon-2 was used. Spares may also exist at one or more of Energomash’s many facilities spread across Russia. Because the RD-250 is no longer employed by operational missiles or launchers, facilities warehousing the obsolete LPEs are probably loosely guarded. A small team of disgruntled employees or underpaid guards at any one of the storage sites, and with access to the LPEs, could be enticed to steal a few dozen engines by one of the many illicit arms dealers, criminal networks, or transnational smugglers operating in the former Soviet Union. The engines (less than two metres tall and one metre wide) can be flown or, more likely, transported by train through Russia to North Korea.

Pyongyang has many connections in Russia, including with the illicit network that funnelled Scud, Nodong and R-27 (Musudan) hardware to North Korea in the 1980s and 1990s. United Nations sanctions imposed on Pyongyang have likely strengthened the Kim regime’s ties to these criminal networks. North Korean agents seeking missile technology are also known to operate in Ukraine. In 2012, for example, two North Korean nationals were arrested and convicted by Ukrainian authorities for attempting to procure missile hardware from Yuzhnoye. Today, Yuzhnoye’s facilities lie close to the front lines of the Russian-controlled secessionist territory. Clearly, there is no shortage of potential routes through which North Korea might have acquired the few dozen RD-250 engines that would be needed for an ICBM programme.

How did North Korea acquire the RD-250 engine?

When and from where RD-250 engines may have been shipped to North Korea is difficult to determine. It is possible the transfers occurred in the 1990s, when North Korea was actively procuring Scud- and Nodong-related hardware, as well as R-27 technology and its Isayev 4D10 engine. But this seems unlikely for three reasons.

Firstly, the network North Korea relied on in the 1990s focused on products originating from Russia’s Makeyev and Isayev enterprises. Energomash and Yuzhnoye had limited connections to Makeyev or Isayev; indeed, they were rival enterprises competing for contracts as the Soviet Union crumbled. It is, therefore, a stretch to assume the illicit channels Pyongyang was using in the 1990s had access to products manufactured or used at either Yuzhnoye or Energomash two decades ago.

Secondly, until recently, North Korea appeared to focus on exploiting R-27 hardware for its long-range missile ambitions. Pyongyang’s first intermediate-range missile, the Musudan, which was first displayed in a 2010 parade, is derived from the R-27 technology acquired in the 1990s. Moreover, until the Hwasong-12 launch in March 2017, Pyongyang’s design concepts for a prospective ICBM featured a first stage powered by a cluster of two Isayev 4D10 LPEs. Photographs taken while Kim Jong-un toured a missile plant in March 2016 captured the back end of an ICBM prototype that appeared to house a pair of 4D10 engines, not a single RD-250 LPE. A month later, Kim attended the ground test featuring a cluster of two 4D10 engines operating in tandem, a clear indication that North Korea’s future ICBM would rely on this configuration. There is no evidence during this period to suggest that North Korea was developing a missile based on the RD-250 engine.

Thirdly, the Isayev 4D10 engine, which relies on staged combustion, is a complicated closed-cycle system that is integrated within the missile’s fuel tank. If the open-cycle, externally mounted RD-250 engine had been available in 2015, engineers would have likely preferred to use it to power a new long-range missile, as it shares many features with the engines North Korea has worked with for decades.

However, when North Korean specialists began flight testing the Musudan in 2016, the missile repeatedly failed soon after ignition. Only one flight test is believed to have been successful. The cause of the string of failures cannot be determined from media reports. That many failed very early in flight suggests that problems with either the engine itself, or the unique ‘submerged’ configuration of the engine, were responsible. If this was the case, North Korea’s engineers may have recognised that they could not easily overcome the challenges. This might explain why the Musudan has not been tested since 2016.

The maiden appearance of the modified RD-250 in September 2016 roughly coincides with North Korea’s decision to halt Musudan testing. It is reasonable to speculate that Kim’s engineers knew the Musudan presented grim or insurmountable technical challenges, which prompted a search for an alternative. If North Korea began its quest to identify and procure a new LPE in 2016, the start of the search would have occurred in the same year Yuzhnoye was experiencing the full impact of its financial shortfalls. This is not to suggest that the Ukrainian government was involved, and not necessarily Yuzhnoye executives. Workers at Yuzhnoye facilities in Dnipropetrovsk and Pavlograd were likely the first ones to suffer the consequences of the economic misfortunes, leaving them susceptible to exploitation by unscrupulous traders, arms dealers and transnational criminals operating in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere.

North Korea’s ICBM still a work in progress

Acquisition of the modified RD-250 engine enabled North Korea to bypass the failing Musudan development effort and begin work on creating an ICBM sooner than previously expected. The Hwasong-14, however, is not yet an operationally viable system. Additional flight tests are needed to assess the missile’s navigation and guidance capabilities, overall performance under operational conditions and its reliability. Empirical data derived from tests to validate the efficacy of warhead re-entry technologies is also needed. Pyongyang could elect to deploy the Hwasong-14 as early as 2018, after only a handful of additional test launches, but at the risk of fielding a missile with marginal reliability. The risks could be reduced over time by continuing flight trials after the missile is assigned to combat units.

Further, the Hwasong-14 employs an underpowered second stage, which could limit Kim Jong-un to threatening only those American cities situated along the Pacific Coast. Arguably, Pyongyang will want a more powerful ICBM, one that can target the entire US mainland. The modified RD-250 engine can be clustered to provide a basis for an improved ICBM, but development of a new missile will require time.

It is not too late for the US and its allies, along with China and perhaps Russia, to negotiate an agreement that bans future missile testing, and effectively prevents North Korea from perfecting its capacity to terrorise America with nuclear weapons. But the window of opportunity will soon close, so diplomatic action must be taken immediately.

Font: By Michael Elleman

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

One UN peacekeeper killed, another injured in coordinated attack on mission base in central Mali

14 August 2017 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali today confirmed the death of a national soldier and one UN peacekeeper in an attack by non-identified gunmen.

“We mourn the loss of a United Nations peacekeeper killed in Mali earlier this morning while serving with our UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) following at attack by armed assailants to a MINUSMA camp in the town of Douenza,” MINUSMA said in a note on social media.

A second UN peacekeeper was injured in the attack, the Mission added.

“Today, around 5:30 am, the MINUSMA camps in Douenza, Mopti region, have been the target of an attack coordinated by unidentified gunmen,” the UN Mission said in a statement in French.

“A first group of assailants fired at a MINUSMA camp from an adjacent hill. In reaction, the Malian armed forces, established in the vicinity of the camp, retaliated. A second group walking on foot to the other MINUSMA camp opened fire. The peacekeepers have responded and two assailants have been killed,” the UN Mission added.

It noted that MINUSMA condemned in the strongest terms “this revolting terrorist attack.”

The Mission reiterated its determination to continue to fulfill its responsibilities “in support of Mali and its people in order to contribute to the achievement of lasting peace and stability.”

India defies missile-exporting China with cruise missile sale to Vietnam.

India’s likely sale to Vietnam of a short-range, supersonic anti-ship missile will open up a new conflict in an already tense situation with China, an analyst said.Vietnam will receive the BrahMos which is considered one of the most effective and lethal anti-ship missiles in the world, with speeds reaching Mach 2.8 to 3.0.

About half of China’s worldwide arms exports go to one country — Pakistan, for the primary reason of ‘containing India,’ ” said Hoover Institution Fellow and Geostrategy-Direct correspondent Maochun Miles Yu in a Facebook post.

“Now India is playing the same game by arming one of China’s arch enemies, Vietnam.”

Russia, which co-produces the BrahMos with India, is said to have given its nod of approval on the sale.

“The Chinese government has major objections about Vietnam getting these missiles for its navy,” said analyst Larkins Dsouza, founder of Defense Aviation.“China sees India selling BrahMos to Vietnam as an act of belligerence and interference in the South China Sea dispute.”

But, Dsouza added, “China seems to be overlooking the fact that it sells a great deal of weapons to Pakistan, a country that has been in a gridlock with India for decades. All indications now point to the fact that New Delhi has overcome its reservations and fears about annoying China.”

The BrahMos can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land. It was developed jointly by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroeyenia. Vietnam is said to be looking to use the missile in its Kilo-class submarines.

The missile is heavily based on the Russian P-800 Oniks cruise missile and other similar sea-skimming Russian cruise missile technology, Dsouza said.

A hypersonic version of the missile, the BrahMos-II, is also currently under development with speeds up to Mach 7. It could be ready for testing some time this year, Dsouza said.

Meanwhile, Japan and India “are set to strengthen security ties with the U.S., with the prospect of bolstering their trilateral security cooperation,” Dsouza said. “It is very significant for Japan, India and the U.S. to ensure the security of the vast Pacific and Indian Oceans. Japan has suggested that the three countries start organizing regular high-level meetings, and the Indian Defense Minister, Manohar Parrikar, will consider the proposal.”

Thursday, August 10, 2017

North Korea Details Plan to Fire Missile Salvo Toward Guam

A U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jet lands on the runway at the Osan U.S. Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, Thursday. (Hong Ki-won/Yonhap via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea has announced a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers. If carried out, it would be the North’s most provocative missile launch to date.

The announcement Thursday warned that the North is finalizing a plan to fire four of its Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan and into waters around the tiny island, which hosts 7,000 U.S. military personnel on two main bases and has a population of 160,000.

Japan and South Korea vowed a strong reaction if the North were to go through with the plan.

It said the plan, which involves the missiles hitting waters 19 to 25 miles from the island, could be sent to leader Kim Jong Un for approval within a week or so. It would be up to Kim whether the move is actually carried out.

It is unclear whether — or exactly why — North Korea would risk firing missiles so close to U.S. territory. Such a launch would almost compel the United States to attempt an intercept and possibly generate further escalation.

North Korea, no stranger to bluffing, frequently uses extremely bellicose rhetoric with warnings of military action to keep its adversaries on their heels. It generally couches its threats with language stating it will not attack the United States unless it has been attacked first or has determined an attack is imminent.

But the statement raised worries amid threats from both sides.

Following reports that U.S. intelligence suggests the North might be able to pair a nuclear warhead with a missile capable of reaching targets on the United States mainland, Trump warned North Korea that “it faces retaliation with fire and fury unlike any the world has seen before.”

Pyongyang, meanwhile, has been louder in its complaints against a new and tough round of sanctions imposed by the United Nations, with strong U.S. backing, and Washington’s use of Guam as a staging ground for its stealth bombers, which could be used to attack North Korea and are a particularly sore point with the ruling regime in Pyongyang.

Its reported plan is extremely specific, suggesting it is actually plotting a launch.

The report said the Hwasong-12 rockets would fly over Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi prefectures in Japan and travel “1,065 seconds before hitting the waters 30 to 40 kilometers away from Guam.” It said the Korean People’s Army Strategic Force will finalize the plan by mid-August, present it to Kim Jong Un and “wait for his order.”

“We keep closely watching the speech and behavior of the U.S.,” it said.

Such a move would not merely be a test launch, but a demonstration of military capabilities that could easily lead to severe consequences.

South Korea’s military responded by saying North Korea will face a “stern and strong” response from Washington and Seoul. Taking it a step further, Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told parliament a missile attack on the U.S. territory would be a Japanese national emergency because it would threaten Japan’s existence as a nation.

If North Korea were to actually carry it out — even if it aimed at hitting the waters off Guam and not the island itself — that would clearly pose a potential threat to U.S. territory and put the United States in a much more complicated situation than it has been during previous missile launches.

Guam lies about 2,100 miles from the Korean Peninsula, and it’s extremely unlikely Kim’s government would risk annihilation with a pre-emptive attack on U.S. citizens. It’s also unclear how reliable North Korea’s missiles would be against such a distant target, but no one was writing off the danger completely.

Washington has been testing its missile defenses in response to the North’s stepped-up development, and the current escalation of tensions could lead to pressure for the U.S. military to try to shoot down the North’s missiles in mid-flight if they are heading toward Guam.

That would likely open up a set of very major problems, including the possibility of both a very high-profile failure or a miscalculation of Washington’s intentions and a more deadly pre-emptive strike by the North — which has missiles able to hit Tokyo and conventional weapons that could devastate South Korea’s capital of Seoul.

The Hwasong-12, which was revealed for the first time at a military parade in April, is an intermediate-range ballistic missile that is believed to have a radius of more than 2,300 miles. It can be fired from mobile launchers, making it hard to detect and destroy on the ground.

By launching a salvo of four, the North would be attempting to make it harder for the U.S. to intercept all of the incoming missiles. Its stated flight path over Japan is also very aggressive — it has recently tried to avoid flying over neighboring countries by shooting its missiles up at a very high angle to land in the ocean.

Washington, meanwhile, has been giving out mixed signals about its intentions.

While Trump was threatening annihilation and boasting from the New Jersey golf resort where he’s vacationing that he has made the U.S. nuclear arsenal “far stronger and more powerful than ever before,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to calm the sense of crisis.

“Americans should sleep well at night,” Tillerson told reporters. “Nothing that I have seen and nothing that I know of would indicate that the situation has dramatically changed in the last 24 hours.”

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Turkey is trying to get an ATOMIC BOMB in secret weapons plan, warns expert.

TURKEY'S President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is attempting to get hold of an atomic bomb in a plot to build up the nation's weapons, an expert has claimed.

With tensions threatening to reach breaking point between the US and North Korea it has emerged Turkey could be trying to build up its weaponry as relations with the EU reach a new low.

In a worrying claim, an expert has warned Turkey is the next country looking to expand its arsenal to include atomic bombs.

Abdullah Bozkurt, a government-critical Turkish journalist, has dramatically revealed what he called 'secret plans’ for Ankara to acquire the ultimate weapon.

Despite Turkey having the second largest-Nato army, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan presiding over 40,000 soldiers, Mr Bozkurt said his ambitions were far greater.

He stated there were plans for Ankara to expand, and a "secret plan to acquire weapons of mass destruction - including an atomic bomb for deterrence."

Influential advisors close to the President and a group of officials in the government’s inner circle are said to have discussed acquiring an A-bomb, Mr Bozkurt said.

He outlined recent meetings with Russia and Japan, signalling a move away from NATO.

Mr Bozkurt said the talks focussed on the construction of two nuclear power plants in Turkey, arousing his suspicions.

And his fears seem to be bolstered by Turkish expert Aykan Erdemir, of the US Thinktank Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Mr Erdemir, a former member of the Turkish parliament, said: "Erdogan has a strong desire to turn Turkey into a nuclear power, but doesn't have the capacity."

But he outlined obstacles to Mr Erdogan’s perceived plans.

A little over a year on from a failed coup, which saw hundreds killed and heralded the dawn of a crackdown of public sector workers, Mr Erdemir said the Turkey’s ability to get the project off the ground was compromised.

Despite teething problems, he identified popular demand for the country to be nuclear armed.

He said: "Turkey lacks financial resources and personnel for such an expensive and high-tech project.

"The government-friendly media often exaggerates the strength of the military to increase morale in Turkey."

And continuing the purge of the armed forces beginning after the putsch, Mr Erdogan has fired 160 of the 324 generals of the Turkish army in the past few months.

He has also culled thousands of soldiers from high ranking positions.

Mr Erdemir believes Mr Erdogan is rooting out any dissidents and anyone who would not back his nuclear dream.

The worrying claims coming out of Turkey come as Ankara finds itself embroiled in a political spat with the EU, particularly Berlin.

The bitter row has seen relations steadily deteriorate, with Mr Erdogan saying in April the EU “a continent that is rotting in every which way”.

Recently Berlin issued new travel warnings for tourists visiting the country, and foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said he could no longer guarantee investment in Turkey following accusations made by Mr Erdogan.

The President accused German companies of colluding with the man he views as his political enemy - and who he suspects was behind the failed coup last year - Fethullah Gülen.

And in a painful move for Ankara, Mr Gabriel added he would discuss with other EU leaders the prospect of reviewing pre-accession funds being offered.


Germany in three days and France in one hour’ Shock threat to EU from Erdogan backers

Scrimping EU to pull £4.3bn from Turkey while snatching cash from UK to fill Brexit hole

What the Crisis Means: North Korea, Nukes and Islamists.

A North Korean military parade (Photo: Stefan Krasowski/Flickr)

North Korea is officially a communist, Stalinist dictatorship, but that hasn’t stopped it from crossing the ideological divide to embrace Islamist regimes and, reportedly, even jihadist groups. The latest crisis between North Korea and the U.S. appears separate from the war with Islamism, but there are 10 ways it overlaps.

The U.S. and allied intelligence services now believe North Korea has miniaturized its nuclear warheads to fit onto its intercontinental ballistic missiles and has the potentially up to 60 nuclear weapons.

This was seen as an undeclared “red line” and prompted President Trump to threaten to bring “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if North Korea’s verbal threats continue; a benchmark North Korea immediately crossed by announcing it was considering a nuclear strike on the U.S. territory of Guam, where 6,000 U.S. troops are stationed. Another 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea and 49,000 in Japan.

North Korea threatened to attack Guam in 2013 and its bombastic rhetoric is practically a daily occurrence, but North Korea’s aggressive attacks have increased in recent years including sinking a South Korean ship in 2010, an artillery barrage on a South Korean island that same year, a cyber attack on Sony Pictures in 2014 and a bold assassination of a political rival in a Malaysian airport using the VX biological weapon earlier this year.

The Iranian and North Korean WMD programs should be seen as a single entity.

We must now assume that Iran likewise has the ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads onto ICBMs.

Iran and North Korea have shared virtually everything when it comes to ballistic missile and nuclear technology. One Iranian opposition group claimed that Iran continued its nuclear program in spite of the nuclear deal by simply outsourcing it to North Korea. The nuclear and missile tests are widely seen as being on done on behalf of Iran with Iranian scientists on the scene for their occurrences.

Both North Korea and Iran helped the Syrian regime pursue nuclear weapons, resulting in the Israeli airstrike on Bashar Assad’s nuclear reactor in 2007. Various reports indicate that Syria’s nuclear program continued thereafter, albeit on a smaller scale.

North Korea’s Links to Hamas, Hezbollah and reportedly Al-Qaeda-tied terrorists in the Philippines.

In 2003, the government of the Philippines said that it captured documents showing that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamist group that has had a relationship with Al-Qaeda in the past, paid $2 million to North Korea for guns, ammunition and grenades and was looking to buy mini-submarines. Another sale was reported in 2005 of 10,000 rifles.

In 2006, a federal judge ruled that North Korea is liable for damages caused to American-Israeli citizens due to its material support for Hezbollah. Iran sponsored North Korean assistance to help the terrorist group by providing rockets and missiles and guidance on building its sophisticated network of tunnels and bunkers. It said that Hezbollah terrorists have been traveling to North Korea for advanced training since the late 1980s.

In 2009, the UAE intercepted over 2,000 detonators for Hamas’ 122mm Grad rockets and associated equipment. Later that year, Israel intercepted 35 tons of rockets, RPGs, shoulder-fired missiles and equipment for surface-to-air missiles from North Korea to Iran for delivery to the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups in Thailand.

In 2014, it was reported that Hamas was negotiating an arms deal with North Korea worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for missiles and communications equipment and a down payment had already been made. It is strongly suspected that North Korea helped Hamas build its sophisticated tunnel system that was used to attack Israeli civilians and wage war in 2014 against the Israeli military.

The Hamas terrorist group openly thanked North Korea for its political support against Israel this year. The North Korean regime (DPRK) pledged to “mercilessly punish” Israel for its leaders’ accurate description of the ruling leader as a “crazy.” The DPRK said it “fully supports” the Palestinian jihad to have an independent country and to seize Jerusalem, a vague statement that seems to imply material support.

We should expect such sales to increase as sanctions force the North Korean regime to look for more revenue, as well as ways to retaliate against the U.S. and its allies. The North Korean regime has no problem selling arms to Islamists and is not a target of the jihadists, so we shouldn’t be surprised if North Korea goes so far as to directly sell weapons and expertise to groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

North Korea has threatened to sell nuclear weapons to other countries and even international terrorist groups. It now has up to 60 nuclear weapons, a number that could grow to 100 by 2020.

In 2005, North Korea threatened to sell its nuclear weapons to terrorist groups “if driven into a corner.”

North Korea has a surplus of nuclear weapons. It can afford to sell off a few if it feels confident that U.S. intelligence will be unable to identify and intercept the shipment; a fair assumption given our recent underestimations of their capabilities.

Past customers for Iranian missiles and arms include Iran and its puppet Assad regime in Syria; Yemen, which is now working with Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood; Pakistan; Eritrea, which has supported Al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia; the Somali government; Cuba and possibly Venezuela.  There are suspicions that Turkey is looking to build nuclear weapons, as an imam close to President Erdogan is encouraging this.

Joint cyber warfare programs with Iran.

Both Iran and North Korea have launched cyber attacks on the U.S. and its allies with minimal consequences. There is strong evidence that the two rogue states’ programs are interconnected and they are even launching joint cyber attacks together.

Radical Islam will seep into an unstable North Korea.

As soon as a closed society begins opening up, the promoters of Islamism get to work. A relevant example is how Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are in a mad dash to lead the Muslim community in Cuba.
In 2010, Pew estimated there are 3,000 Muslims in North Korea, a 300% increase from 1990. It projects that number will stay about the same until at least 2030, but that is doubtful as globalization inevitably penetrates North Korea and exposes more citizens to Islam.

The most jihad-prone forms of Islam in North Korea are already leading the way. In 2013, North Korea allowed Iran to build the country’s first mosque, located at the Iranian embassy.

The extreme anti-Americanism and anti-democracy thought that is instilled in the population means this Muslim population will probably be inclined towards radicalism.

Regime instability will be a gold mine for terrorists, criminals and rogue states.

The regime is bound to become more unstable over time and that could increase as international tension rises and the U.S. potentially tries to undermine Kim Jong-Un. North Korea is armed to the teeth with deadly expertise, conventional weapons and WMDs, all of which will be sold off by their hungry protectors or abandoned in the event of extreme upheaval.

All kinds of black market criminals, terrorists and governments will be trying to snatch up whatever they can. For Islamists, they will look to the Muslim population for logistical support. Iranian operatives are already in the country, as may be Hezbollah terrorists.

ISIS is on the rise in the Philippines, the Islamic terror threat is increasing in South Korea and it’s only a matter of time before China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang Province becomes a jihadist front. North Korea is isolated now, but don’t assume that Islamists won’t be able to enter the country and make contact with its black market as the regime becomes unstable.

Reported plans for a two-front war by Iran, Syria and North Korea.

There have been intelligence reports since the early 1990s indicating that Iran, Syria and North Korea had a deal to force the U.S. into a two-front war if any one of them came into military conflict with America. Since then, these countries have only grown stronger, we have grown weaker, and their friendships have grown tighter.

Of course, we do not know if such an agreement exists today and we also do not know if they are loyal enough to honor it if it exists. However, the reported historical precedent must be taken into account and it is certain that Iran, Syria and North Korea will at least take limited measures to assist each other in the event of military conflict. And if Iran and North Korea have aspirations to commit aggression, there’s no better time to act than when the U.S. is preoccupied on another front.

Bogging down the U.S.

If the situation escalates, then the U.S. military—already suffering from the sequestration—will be hard pressed for resources to maintain its operations against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, not to mention more limited efforts in places like Yemen, Libya and the Philippines.

North Korean Terrorists Could Target U.S. Soil

It is not out of the realm of possibility that North Korea will try to launch saboteur/terrorist attacks on American soil, particularly against those seeking to undermine Kim Jong-Un.

Earlier this year, Kim Jong-Un used two assassins to murder a political rival using the VX biological weapon in a Malaysian airport. Think about how much of an escalation that is: A biological terrorist attack inside an airport in a foreign country. That means North Korea has loyal operatives who can sneak such deadly substances into other countries and are willing to risk their lives to commit murder on Kim Jong-Un’s behalf.

And the target was another North Korean from the top of society. Such operatives would have even less qualms about targeting Americans.

North Korea could collaborate with Islamist terrorists or criminal elements for an attack in America. After all, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps hoped to hide behind Mexican drug cartel members in its plan to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington D.C. by blowing up a diner.

The Worst of All Scenarios: EMP

Watch this Clarion Project short film from 2012 about the threat posed by a potential Electro-Magnetic Pulse attack by Iran. North Korea has the same capability. A top expert on nuclear weapons and EMPs, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, has been sounding the alarm that he believes North Korea is actually practicing carrying out such an attack on the U.S.

Should that happen and the attack succeed, North Korea will cripple the U.S. and perhaps win its war against America. And even if the U.S. destroyed North Korea in response, the jihadists will have won their war against America as the country struggles to survive as Islamists rampage across the planet.

Font: BY RYAN MAURO Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Monday, August 7, 2017

North Korean ICBM Tests: No Surprises, No Good Answers.

While North Korea’s recent nuclear tests significantly raised the level of fear in the United States, they were not a surprise. North Korea, long a nuclear state, is a dangerous nuclear proliferator that has shirked international commitments. Pyongyang issues highly aggressive rhetoric toward the United States and its regional neighbors on a regular basis; it flaunts its nuclear capability and threatens to use it, and tends to share nonconventional know-how and technologies. And herein lies a link to Tehran: as Iran also remains motivated in the nuclear realm despite the JCPOA, the direct implications of North Korea's activities for Iran's nuclear program must be under constant scrutiny. The indirect implications for dealing with Iran's nuclear motivation invoke the ability to rely on negotiations to stop a determined proliferator. The North Korean case of failed negotiations must be heeded when thinking about Iran.

Twice over the past month (July 4 and July 28, 2017), North Korea tested the Hwasong-14 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The tests were a dramatic demonstration of the latest stage in North Korea's nuclear program, namely, the ability to fire an ICBM that can reach the United States mainland. Yet while these tests significantly raised the level of fear in the US, they were not a surprise. And although some view the latest missile test as a wake-up call regarding North Korean capabilities, North Korea has long been a nuclear state, and those following the situation knew that it was steadily progressing toward its goal of being able to target the US with a nuclear-tipped ICBM. While initially viewed as successful, the latest test may have met problems – according to some reports, the warhead "shattered into pieces" on its re-entry from atmosphere to earth, and it could take North Korea some six months to overcome the problem. If these reports are correct, North Korea might not yet be able to reach California with a nuclear ICBM, but this is only a matter of time.

In response to the July 28 test, the US flew two B-1B bombers over South Korea, alongside South Korean and Japanese fighters. But beyond this show of strength, the US has not demonstrated a direction for dealing with the threat from Pyongyang. Statements issued by Secretary of State Tillerson have run the gamut from calls for global action – while accusing Russia and China of having enabled the missile launch  to offers of negotiations if North Korea agrees to dismantle its nuclear capability. Tillerson also clarified that the US does not seek regime change. Despite some threats of preemptive action against North Korea, the Trump administration is likely not preparing to attack; more likely, it is trying to bolster its deterrence against a North Korean attack. Trump is also trying to deter North Korea from progressing further with its program, and while the administration has not stopped North Korea in the missile realm, it may have had some limited success in deterring North Korea from carrying out another nuclear test, for which North Korea seemed to be preparing several months ago. But deterrence successes are hard to prove and the decision to refrain from a sixth nuclear test could have been for other reasons.

While there are no ready answers to the growing nuclear threat from North Korea, it would be a mistake to view the recent missile tests as a reaction to the Trump administration’s tougher approach. North Korea has been moving forward in the nuclear realm for decades. In fact, major advances were made during the Obama administration, when for eight years the US followed a policy of “strategic patience.” During these years North Korea conducted four nuclear tests, two of which occurred in close proximity in 2016 (January and September), signaling a stepped-up pace of nuclear development. North Korea was also deeply engaged in ballistic missile testing during those years.

As for diplomacy, there are virtually no current ideas among analysts and pundits, or the US administration, that have not already been attempted and proven unsuccessful. On the basis of 25 years of diplomatic attempts, there is little to no chance of negotiating a deal whereby North Korea will roll back its program or denuclearize. Neither carrots nor sticks have had a lasting impact, and if North Korea did not agree to rollback its nuclear capability in the earlier stages, there is little reason to believe it would agree now, when it finally reached its goal, and after paying a very hefty price in sanctions and isolation. In recent days the UN Security Council slapped additional harsh sanctions on North Korea, but based on patterns that have played out over the past 15 years, this is unlikely to alter the situation.

China often features prominently in debates over how to confront North Korea, with many referring to it as the “magic key”: if only China were convinced to cut off North Korea’s economic lifeline, this proliferator would be squeezed to the degree that it had no choice but to give up its nuclear capabilities. Yet while China is indeed North Korea's economic lifeline, China has no intention of cutting off that lifeline, as this could lead to an implosion of North Korea -- in turn leading to a massive influx of refugees into China, and possibly American troops stationed on China's border. President Trump has tweeted his displeasure with China, and has tried to convince it to do more to rein in North Korea. China’s answer is that the criticism is unwarranted, and that it is trying to help international efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

Some pundits have suggested that the US must offer China more for taking the extreme step of cutting off North Korea, such as backing away from the THAAD missile defense system deployed in South Korea. China strongly opposes THAAD, which it believes undermines its own nuclear deterrence, since the system’s radar covers part of China. But a US reversal would be viewed negatively by South Korea, in light of the increasingly dangerous direct threat from North Korea. Recently, the new leader of South Korea, who initially had second thoughts about the missile defense system, signaled that he now supports it.

Indeed, for the US to back away from THAAD would now be perceived as backing away from America’s long term commitment to South Korea's security. The main concern in both South Korea and Japan following the ICBM tests is that the US commitment to their security has been weakened now that North Korea can threaten the US mainland. If the price for protecting these states from attack could be a nuclear strike on Los Angeles, the fear is that the US might be deterred from taking action against North Korea. In a telephone conversation with Japan’s Prime Minister Abe, Trump reaffirmed America’s unwavering commitment to its security, but it remains to be seen whether this will be enough for Japan. Abe is also demanding that Russia and China increase pressure on North Korea.

A question often raised of late with regard to North Korea is why the Kim Jong-Un regime is so bent on having nuclear weapons. We can try to appraise North Korea’s motivation for going nuclear – most likely a mix of regime survival and prestige factors – but understanding this state’s motivation should not be confused with legitimizing its pursuit of nuclear weapons. North Korea is a dangerous nuclear proliferator that shirked its commitment according to the NPT (which it exited in 2003) and broke deals with international negotiators. North Korea issues highly aggressive rhetoric toward the United States and its regional neighbors on a regular basis; it flaunts its nuclear capability and threatens to use it, and tends to share nonconventional know-how and technologies. And herein lies a link to Tehran: as Iran also remains motivated in the nuclear realm despite the JCPOA, the direct implications of North Korea's activities for Iran's nuclear program must be under constant scrutiny.

The indirect implications for dealing with Iran's nuclear motivation invoke the ability to rely on negotiations to stop a determined proliferator. The North Korean case of failed negotiations must be heeded when thinking about Iran. There are many differences between these two proliferators, but they share determination and ongoing motivation to achieve nuclear status. Strong international actors cannot afford to be complacent about a negotiated deal – the JCPOA – when it does not reflect a strategic reversal on the part of the proliferator. If this deal has achieved a delay, the challenge is to use this time to reverse negative trends and prepare better for the future, but not to rest on laurels while celebrating a deal that has not stopped Iran in the nuclear realm, and could render that goal even more elusive in eight to nine years.

Font: Emily B. Landau
INSS Insight No. 962, August 7, 2017

Robert Spencer: Do Islamic Jihadis Really Lack A Basic Understanding of Islam?

Pope Francis and H. R. McMaster and John Kerry and so many other learned imams have assured us over the years that Islamic terrorism has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam, and now there is proof, or what purports to be proof, in the form of a study from no less august an authority than the United Nations.

The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism has released a new study claiming that Islamic State jihadis “have low levels of education and ‘lack any basic understanding of the true meaning of jihad or even the Islamic faith.’”

The study found that most of these jihadis “saw their religion in terms of justice and injustice rather than in terms of piety and spirituality,” and that the typical jihad warrior “is most likely to be male, young and disadvantaged economically, educationally, and in terms of the labour market. He is also more likely than not to come from a marginalised background, both socially and politically. Most were unemployed, or underemployed, and/or said that their life lacked meaning.”

This study directly contradicts the results of another new study that was conducted in Germany, which found that “the widespread view that radical Muslims know little about Islam is wrong.”

Which study are we to believe? Well, this one reinforces the common view that a typical jihadi “is most likely to be male, young and disadvantaged economically, educationally, and in terms of the labour market.”

Yet study after study (of a more honest variety) has shown that poverty and lack of opportunity don’t really cause terrorism at all. The Economist reported in 2010: “Social scientists have collected a large amount of data on the socioeconomic background of terrorists. According to a 2008 survey of such studies by Alan Krueger of Princeton University, they have found little evidence that the typical terrorist is unusually poor or badly schooled.”

In the same vein, CNS News noted in September 2013: “According to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, ‘Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.’ One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, “Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.”

The Times Online reported the following as far back as April 2005: “Three-quarters of the Al-Qaeda members were from upper middle-class homes and many were married with children; 60% were college educated, often in Europe or the United States.”

There are innumerable examples of affluent Muslims becoming jihad terrorists. One was Maher “Mike” Hawash of Portland, Oregon, a well-regarded Intel executive who made $360,000 a year at the crest of a highly successful career. Around the year 2000, Hawash began to become more religious, growing his beard long, rejecting the nickname “Mike,” and attending the supremacist Islamic Center of Portland. Ultimately he served a seven-year prison term for conspiring to aid the Taliban.

What’s more, there is plenty of evidence that Islamic State jihadis know the Qur’an well. One Malaysian Muslim said that the Qur’an led him to join the Islamic State. A Muslima in the U.S. promoted the Islamic State by quoting the Qur’an. An Islamic State propagandist’s parents said of him: “Our son is a devout Muslim. He had learnt the Quran by heart.” A Muslim politician from Jordan said that the Islamic State’s “doctrine stems from the Qur’an and Sunnah.” There are innumerable other examples of this.

So this UN study appears to be simply an advertisement for the failed policies that the West is already implementing regarding the jihad threat. They have to keep pumping out propaganda such as this, because their policies are such obvious failures, they can only be shored up by lies.

By Robert Spencer

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Egypt Launches the Largest Military Base in the Middle East.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has inaugurated a military base in the country’s northwestern city of Al-Hammam to protect facilities and projects in coastal cities.

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi inaugurated on July 22, 2017, the Mohamed Naguib Military Base, located in Al-Hammam area, west of Alexandria. Students from several military colleges and institutions were graduating at the event.

At the beginning of the ceremony, a guard of honor was presented to the dignitaries, and the Egyptian national anthem was played. Later, the Egyptian President handed over the base flag to the Commander of the Northern Military Region. A film about joint military training with Arab countries was screened, followed by the Egyptian flag raising ceremony.

The base is named after Mohamed Naguib, the primary leader of the Egyptian revolution in 1952, which ended the Mohamed Ali dynasty that ruled over Egypt and Sudan from 1805 until 1952 and the first president of the Republic of Egypt after its establishment on June 18, 1953.

The Mohamed Naguib Military Base

The base, reportedly the largest in the Middle East, is built on what used to be a military city, constructed in 1993, and consists of 1,155 buildings built and renovated over the past two years. It is expected that the base will have a museum commemorating Naguib as well as a mosque with a capacity for 2,000 individuals, sports fields, and swimming pools.

The military base will serve as a headquarters for some forces of the Northern Military Region, which is expected to increase its efficiency in protecting west of Alexandria, the North Coast, the currently under construction Al-Dabaa nuclear power plant, oil fields, the new Alamein City, among other sites. The base will also be used in military exercises with the armies of other countries.

The base consists of a production unit to achieve self-sufficiency with 379 feddans (approx. 393 acres) of fruit trees and 1,600 feddans (approx. 1660 acres) of seasonal plants and vegetables.

The Arab Delegations

High-profile Arab delegations attended the event which coincides with Egypt’s celebration of the 65th anniversary of the 23 July 1952 revolution. Among the Arab delegations were representatives from Gulf countries, including Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain, Prince Khalid Al Faisal, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Mecca province, Sheikh Mohammad Al Khaled, Kuwait’s deputy prime minister and minister of defense and Libyan Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

The opening of the Mohamed Naguib Military Base comes months after a similar base was established near the border with Libya. Authorities have said that the Barrani Military Base, close to the porous western border, aims to prevent infiltration of militants from Libya, a country plagued by militancy over the past six years.

President Al-Sisi’s Opening Remarks

President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi underlined that the Arab participation in the inauguration ceremony of Mohammed Naguib military base is a cogent proof of Arab unity and welcomed the Arab leaders on behalf of the Egyptian people. Addressing Arab military graduates, he said we send a message to the world that Arabs join hands to build not to destroy, connive or foment sedition.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

6 raisons pour lesquelles Israël est devenu le n°1 de la cybersécurité.

“La cybersécurité est un secteur florissant. Il prend de plus en plus d’ampleur car la cybersécurité n’est jamais une solution permanente, c’est un business sans limite,” a déclaré Benjamin Netanyahu, le premier ministre d’Israël, à la septième conférence annuelle sur la cybersécurité de l’Université de Tel Aviv.

Thomas Bossert, assistant du président des Etats-Unis à la sécurité intérieure et à la lutte contre le terrorisme, a annoncé lors de l’événement la création d’un groupe de cybersécurité bilatérale entre les Etats-Unis et la Russie, qui mettra en place “des défenses innovantes de cybersécurité que nous pouvons tester ici puis apporter aux Etats-Unis.”

Israël est devenu une puissance de la cybersécurité qui se trouve au cœur d’une industrie d’une valeur de 82 milliards de dollars (sans compter les dépenses pour les équipes de sécurité interne et les procédures). En plus de collaborer avec des super-puissances, Israël assiste de plus petites nations (comme par exemple Singapour) en créant plus de trois cent startup de la cybersécurité et en exportant l’année dernière 6,5 milliards de dollars en produits de cet ordre. Le pays a également convaincu plus de trente multinationales d’ouvrir des centres de recherche et de développement locaux, tout en attirant des investisseurs étrangers. “En 2016, nous détenions environ 20% de l’investissement mondial de la cybersécurité privée,” a avancé Netanyahu.

Lors de la conférence, j’ai participé à une série de comptes rendus réalisés à l’intention d’une délégation de journalistes étrangers reçue par le ministère des affaires étrangères d’Israël. Ces comptes rendus incluaient des plans d’ensemble du fonctionnement de la cybersécurité israélienne présentés par le général de division, le professeur Isaac Ben-Israel, directeur du centre Blavatnik de recherche de Cyber-études de l’université de Tel Aviv, le précédent directeur de la recherche et du développement pour les forces de défense d’Israël, le Ministre de la défense, ainsi que le Dr Eviatar Matana, président de la Direction nationale de la cybersécurité d’Israël.

Voici six facteurs essentiels qui ont contribué à faire d’Israël un centre mondial de la recherche et de la pratique en matière de cybersécurité:

Lorsque le Premier ministre Netanyahu demanda en 2010 au professeur Ben-Israël un plan sur cinq ans établissant la façon de répondre, à l’échelle nationale, à la recrudescence des menaces informatiques, ce dernier répondit qu’en terme de cybersécurité cinq années équivalaient à peu près à trois ou quatre générations technologiques, ce qui rendait impossible l’élaboration d’un plan. Ben-Israël et son équipe spéciale de cybersécurité ont donc recommandé de développer une “structure qui saurait quoi faire quand ces menaces imprévues surviendraient.”

La structure est un cadre en perpétuelle évolution pour une collaboration entre le gouvernement (y compris l’organe militaire), les entreprises et les universités, le gouvernement jouant principalement le rôle de guide et de conseiller. Un cyber-espace est une structure mondiale qui n’a pas de frontières nationales, explique Dr. Matania. “Nous avons réalisé que les organisations constituent essentiellement la frontière digitale de notre nation.” Les entreprises cependant, en Israël et partout ailleurs, sont réticentes à l’idée de s’afficher travaillant main dans la main avec leurs gouvernements respectifs tandis qu’elles agissent à l’échelle mondiale. De plus, Israël rencontre des difficultés en matière de libertés individuelles.

Israël a procédé à plusieurs tentatives de création d’une structure opérationnelle qui pourrait résoudre ces tensions, la plus récente de ces tentatives étant l’établissement de l’Autorité Nationale de la cybersécurité en 2015. Cette structure incarne la double mission du gouvernement qui consiste à améliorer la coordination de la cybersécurité tout en retirant le gouvernement des bases de données et des décisions des entreprises individuelles.

Alors que le gouvernement israélien a joué un rôle important en lançant et en soutenant le secteur florissant de la technologie en Israël, il a également servi de catalyseur à l’évolution rapide de l’industrie de la cybersécurité dans le pays. En 2011, lorsque le Bureau national de la cybersécurité fut établi à la suite des recommandations de Ben-Israel concernant le groupe de travail, son mandat incluait, en plus de la coordination de la cybersécurité et la politique de développement, “la vision de faire entrer Israël dans le top cinq des pays leaders du domaine de la cybersécurité dans un futur proche.”

Considérant la cybersécurité comme “un moteur de croissance économique,” le gouvernement a identifié ce domaine comme un secteur dans lequel Israël profite d’un avantage compétitif du fait d’une recherche d’excellence et d’une expérience pratique unique. Cet avantage fut aussi perçu et appréhendé comme un contributeur important à la coopération internationale, un bénéfice additionnel pour le pays.

Les conditions géopolitiques négatives qui sont celles d’Israël depuis la proclamation de son indépendance en 1948 ont forcé le petit pays à investir ses faibles ressources dans le développement et le maintien de capacités militaires supérieures. Alors que les ordinateurs se sont installés au fur et à mesure dans la société, la cyberdéfense est devenue une activité cruciale.

Après des années de collecte d’informations et de pratique de cybersécurité, l’Unité 8200 a évolué en devenant un incubateur pour les startup israéliennes de la cybersécurité et d’autres domaines. “Nous sommes parvenus à faire d’un désavantage un avantage,” se réjouit Nadav Zafrir, le précédent chef de l’Unité 8200. Il poursuit ainsi: “Par le passé, le service militaire était perçu comme une perte de temps, ce qui est différent à présent. Nous n’avions pas prévu cela. Personne n’a pensé à la façon de faire de l’Unité 8200 un catalyseur pour l’économie israélienne, mais c’est ce qui est arrivé.”

Les jeunes personnes qui servent au sein de l’Unité 8200 et des unités similaires expérimentent de réels défis et solutions de cybersécurité. Parce que ces unités fonctionnent comme des startup, elles expérimentent aussi le travail d’équipe, le fait de diriger d’autres personnes, d’être responsable de la prise de décisions importantes, ainsi que la survie à l’échec ; le tout étant une excellente préparation à la vie entrepreneuriale. Afin de garder ces jeunes de lancer leurs propres entreprises, au moins pour un temps, l’Unité 8200 les incite à étendre leur service en finançant leur études doctorales ou en présentant d’autres attraits comme la confrontation à des défis qu’ils ne rencontreraient pas dans la vie civile.

Israël est un pays connu pour sa culture dynamique, sa capacité d’improvisation, d’innovation et d’initiative. L’énergie et l’ambition de son peuple sont dirigées vers des aspirations académiques spécifiques. L’enseignement de la cybersécurité débute au collège, et Israël est l’unique pays au monde dans lequel la cybersécurité est une option au lycée. Un certain nombre d’universités israéliennes proposent une spécialisation en cybersécurité, et Israël est le seul pays dans lequel il est possible d’obtenir un doctorat en cybersécurité (en tant que discipline indépendante, et non en tant que science de l’informatique). Aujourd’hui, il existe six centres de recherche universitaires dédiés à la cybersécurité.

En plus de plusieurs programmes sponsorisés par le gouvernement, ayant pour but de déployer une jeunesse prometteuse et de mettre à sa disposition une formation spécialisée avant et pendant le service militaire, le secteur privé est aussi impliqué dans la culture de l’enseignement de la science et de la technologie. Par exemple, le Centre de la Cyber-éducation recrute des ingénieurs et des programmeurs pour enseigner dans les écoles, en plus d’organiser des visites d’entreprises technologiques pour les écoliers et d’aider les enseignants volontaires à obtenir des emplois dans des entreprises de ce type.

Dans son discours, le professeur a expliqué que tandis que la cybersécurité requiert des solutions technologiques, les difficultés qu’elle pose ne sont pas d’ordre technologique. De ce fait, il est important d’appliquer une approche interdisciplinaire à la cybersécurité et de comprendre la pluralité des domaines qui l’affectent, comme par exemple le domaine juridique, le domaine économique ou encore le domaine sociologique, entre autres. Ben-Israël a mis en lumière le fait que les étudiants de l’Université de Tel Aviv, peu importe la discipline qu’ils étudient (excepté les arts), ont la possibilité de se spécialiser en cybersécurité.

L’interdisciplinarité implique le fait de voir les choses sous des angles différents et de briser les barrières artificielles. En Israël, l’expérience unique des cyber professionnels se charge de cela. Durant le service militaire obligatoire, l’introduction académique initiale à la cybersécurité est améliorée et complétée par l’expérience pratique. Ces cyber-professionnels rejoignent ensuite les universités, les laboratoires d’idées, des entreprises de toute taille, et les agences gouvernementales. L’expérience partagée des cyber-professionnels assure que toutes les formes de solutions de cybersécurité sont appliquées aussi bien en théorie qu’en pratique.

En plus de cela, la diversité des expériences, des approches, et des points de vue, est renforcée par les histoires multiples des participants. En 2014, la population juive-israélienne était composée à 25% d’immigrants et 35% des enfants étaient également immigrants, une fresque humaine permettant une palette de solutions de cybersécurité innovantes.

L’approche typique de la cybersécurité a été jusqu’à présent majoritairement réactive et focalisée sur les attaques potentielles. Lorsque les gouvernements sont impliqués (y compris le gouvernement israélien, pendant plusieurs années), ils assignent des responsabilités afin de traiter les différents types d’attaques provenant de différentes entités, fragmentant ainsi la politique nationale et rendant sa coordination moins optimale.

Après des années passées à commettre des erreurs, la politique nationale de cybersécurité du pays adopte une approche nouvelle. Elle a évolué en devenant une stratégie plus proactive, plus compréhensive, concentrée non pas sur les attaques potentielles mais sur les menaces potentielles et plaçant les organisations en première ligne de défense.

Ce nouveau type de stratégie de cybersécurité présente trois aspects : la résistance, la résilience et la défense. “Si les deux premiers aspects sont bien travaillés,” explique Matania, “ils vont amortir 65% des menaces.” Le premier aspect est similaire à l’immunisation dans le secteur de la santé. Le gouvernement peut conseiller et guider, mais il est de la responsabilité des organisations de s’immuniser. Le gouvernement est un peu plus actif dans le deuxième aspect, en aidant au partage d’information, à l’analyse et à l’atténuation des cyberattaques spécifiques. Le troisième aspect porte sur la réaction face à un événement de grande ampleur ; cet aspect relève exclusivement de la responsabilité du gouvernement.

Le parc technologique de Beersheva permet la présentation de la philosophie israélienne en matière de cybersécurité, de son concentré unique de pratique et de théorie, d’interdisciplinarité, d’intérêts publics et privés.

Avec sa mission de faire de la région une source majeure de talent et d’expertise, en particulier dans le domaine de la cybersécurité, le parc a attiré des multinationales considérables et leurs centres de recherche et de développement, ainsi que des entreprises du capital-risque, des laboratoires de recherche avancée, l’Institut national de cyber-étude et les équipes du service national des cyber-urgences. De plus, l’Unité 8200 est en voie de déplacer ses unités de stratégie technologique sur le même campus.

À terme, l’Unité 8200 héritera d’environ un tiers du parc, comme l’a déclaré le professeur Rivka Carmi, président de l’Université Ben Gourion. Il n’y aura toutefois pas de barrière entre l’unité et les chercheurs civils, les entrepreneurs et autres experts de la cybersécurité y travaillant. Les talents des professionnels du secteur sont au cœur de la philosophie israélienne de cybersécurité : ces talents incarnent non seulement les solutions face aux cyber-menaces, mais aussi le moyen de changer les risques en opportunités.

Monday, July 24, 2017

From ISIS-Lands to the Netherlands: Jihadists Try to Get the Press to Help Them Come Home.

As Mosul falls and Raqqa comes under attack, European jihadists have decided they don’t really love death more than their enemies love life. But… nobody wants them back.

AMSTERDAM—Now that the self-proclaimed caliphate of the so-called Islamic State is falling apart in Syria and Iraq, many European jihadists are looking for ways to come home—and some of the Dutch ones have been reaching out to the media, hoping it will save their lives.

Just last week two fighters contacted TV shows in the Netherlands to announce their return to Dutch soil, a third contacted the police.

The grim irony of such a ploy is obvious. Many would-be holy warriors from European backgrounds have been associated with organizations that took journalists hostage, ransomed some, tortured and beheaded others. When they thought their groups were on a roll, jihadists bragged to their Western enemies “we love death as you love life.” And all too many times in France, Britain, Belgium, and Germany they have slaughtered innocents by the score.

But the three from the Netherlands are part of a group of 10 presumed jihadists who have criminal court cases pending against them. Dutch public prosecutors believe most of them are still to be found in what’s left of ISIS-land. After a Rotterdam court recently decided they could be present at their hearing, their trial was postponed until January 2018, allowing them time to return.

A 22-year-old Dutch-Moroccan rapper known to the court as Marouane B. is one of the potential returnees. He says he is en route back to the Netherlands and a few days ago posted a rap about his intended return, singing, “I will come back one day, mama, don’t worry… I am fleeing.” (The video has since been taken down.)

In a phone call to Dutch News RTL, Marouane refused to say whether he is affiliated with ISIS or not. “I had expected to be a change factor in the civil war by fighting [Syrian dictator Bashar] Assad,” he said. “That didn’t succeed, because the world is siding with Assad, at least that’s what it looks like from here, and I always had the intention of returning after the war.”

In a similar interview, a Dutch postman turned Islamic convert turned Islamist, Victor Droste, spoke to the Dutch TV news program 1 Vandaag via Skype. Droste admitted he’d been at the front, but refused to say whether he had been fighting. He fervently denied being part of ISIS, but he looked the part, and had been publicly advocating his support for Sharia and Islamism in the year before he left the Netherlands in 2013.

The Dutch government made conscientious attempts to inform the alleged jihadists about the trial via social media like Facebook and through their relatives. The efforts didn’t fail, but they are just the beginning of awkward attempts to address what could be an enormous problem.

An estimated 300 Dutch men, women, and children are known to have traveled to the Middle East to join the ranks of various jihadist organizations, including ISIS.

European Union counterterrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove has warned that the EU as a whole will be hard-pressed to deal with some 1,500 to 2,000 fighters who may try to return as ISIS is driven out of its strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa (PDF).

Different countries are addressing the problem in different ways. According to French intelligence sources, Paris has deployed special operations forces on the ground in Syria to hunt down and kill French jihadists who could pose a threat if they return.

The latest figures from the National Dutch Terrorism Prevention Coordinator (NCTV) tell us that as of June this year, 190 who left the Netherlands managed to join ISIS, and 50 returned. Some, at least 45 jihadists, died. But most of the survivors find themselves now cornered in a flailing wannabe state, a far cry from the heroic caliphate they had been dreaming of, and death has proved less appealing when it becomes palpably real.

With the jihadists’ stories trickling in, the Dutch security services try to gauge the security risk involved if they return. Even if the men are found not guilty of participation in war crimes and/or membership of a terrorist organization, which is unlikely, they are still suffering from PTSD. Letting them loose on the society they rejected would be risky business, and not just for the Netherlands.

“We have a responsibility toward other countries, too,” says Daan Weggemans, a terrorism expert attached to Leiden University who also serves as an expert witness in terrorism court cases. “Our focus tends to be on Dutch returning jihadists, but security is all about the broader picture. The idea that Dutch jihadists would only return to the Netherlands is not right.”

Jihadists are rarely stopped by borders, and certainly not by the open frontiers on the European continent, where they can take advantage of lax security in one place to stage attacks in another.

Exchanging information among security services is crucial, says Weggemans, but there are holes. Libya, for instance, is a major route for people pouring into Europe, but hardly keeps track of who is who, and there is considerable traffic back and forth. The bomber who wrought such carnage at a teen concert in Manchester, U.K., earlier this year was a Briton with extensive ties to family—and to ISIS—in Libya.

Foreigners who would come to the Netherlands with a stream of refugees might be a risk, says Weggemans, but so are jihadists who are in touch with, say, the nephew of a friend, and end up virtually invisible to authorities in an apartment here. “Those are the returnees that I worry about,” he says.

Islamist men returning from war are a major security risk. But then what are we to do with returning wives and children? After a serious amount of brainwashing they are hardly reliable candidates for free-spirited, democratic society. Differently put, how is any person who has actively supported people who put severed heads on spikes in town squares or gays being thrown off tall buildings going to deal with, say, two men kissing in the street in Amsterdam? Or mini skirts, or the notion of equal rights for women, for that matter?

Making policy on returning children poses yet another challenge. An estimated 80 children with a Dutch background are in Syria and Iraq, with ISIS or other jihadist groups, according to the April report of the Dutch National Security Service. Fifty percent are 9 years old or older and half of them are boys.

“With the minors there is also a big element of concern,” Weggemans explains. “They could have seen or done terrible things and were possibly trained a certain way. We know quite a bit about it and such information is very important if you start to help these children... You know that some were too young to be involved, others were educated there, girls were veiled, boys in training camps. We have to think about what we do when kids come back.”

So far, the Netherlands has been spared terrorist attacks. That may in part be because of internal policy, our relative insignificance, or dumb luck. Nobody knows precisely why. But the quiet to date holds no promise for the future. As in every other country, an attack on Dutch soil could happen any moment.

“I know it's been said many times before, but we have to acknowledge that we won't be able to prevent all attacks.” Weggemans tells The Daily Beast. Even if you have very active security services, you simply can't keep track of everyone.

But the challenge of the moment is what to do with those who identify themselves and ask to be treated with mercy in a liberal society after the failure of the fanatical caliphate they longed to establish.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

How many fighters does the Islamic State still have in Libya?

When the Islamic State lost control of Sirte, Libya late last year, it was a blow for the so-called caliphate’s plans in North Africa. The group’s first spokesman, Abu Muhammad al Adnani, ranked Sirte just behind Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria in terms of importance. Adnani was killed in Aug. 2016 and Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s loyalists were ejected from their urban stronghold on the Mediterranean several months later.

But the Islamic State still has a presence in Libya and it is not clear how many fighters remain in the country.

According to the State Department’s newly released Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, the group lost a significant number of its members during the battle for Sirte. Yet, several thousand of its men were either stationed elsewhere or survived.

“Although more than 1,700 ISIS terrorists were killed during the Sirte counterterrorism operations,” the State Department report reads, “many members of the terrorist organization fled to Libya’s western and southern deserts, abroad, or into neighboring urban centers.”

State also cites reports saying that the group had “as many as 6,000 fighters in its ranks” as of early 2016 — that is, several months before the US began its air campaign in Sirte in Aug. 2016. The number of jihadists fighting under the so-caliphate’s banner swelled between 2015 and 2016, as the Islamic State “doubled its presence in the country” during that time.

Taken at face value, therefore, the State Department’s report suggests that approximately 4,300 members of the Islamic State’s Libyan arm were not killed during the operation to free Sirte from the jihadists’ grip. How many of them remain in Libya today? We don’t know.

As FDD’s Long War Journal has warned, it is difficult to determine how many fighters the Islamic State has in Iraq, Syria, or elsewhere. The US government’s estimates have varied dramatically over time. State says that “up to 1,700 ISIS militants’ bodies were recovered in Sirte,” but it isn’t clear how firm that figure is.

In addition, the self-declared caliphate could have had either more or less than the 6,000 fighters it was estimated to have in Libya as of early 2016. Those who survived the battle in Sirte, or didn’t take part in it, could have fled for neighboring countries, such as Tunisia or Egypt. They also could have retreated to other African nations, or further “abroad” to the Islamic State’s heartland in Iraq and Syria.

All of this means that determining the number of Islamic State fighters left in Libya today is a task fraught with uncertainty. And the same goes for assessing the size of the organization’s membership around the globe.

Since the loss of Sirte in late 2016, the Islamic State’s operational tempo has been relatively low, indicating that either it is not capable of carrying out regular attacks, or is seeking to regroup for the future.

Still, taken at face value, the figures cited by the State Department suggest that the Islamic State could still have a significant footprint inside Libya. And we wouldn’t be surprised if this is the case. On a per capital basis, Libya and Tunisia exported as many foreign fighters (or more) than any other countries for the war in Iraq and the follow-on conflicts. And the Islamic State made Libya one of its top priorities from 2014 to 2016, reversing these flows by sending some fighters back to their home countries in North Africa.

In 2014, as the State Department reminds readers, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi “dispatched a group of ISIS operatives from Syria to Libya to establish a branch of the terrorist group.” They first “set up a base in” Derna, but lost their hub there after being defeated by rival, al Qaeda-linked jihadists. (The Islamic State exaggerated its strength, before eventually conceding defeat in 2016.) Baghdadi “formally” recognized the group’s Libyan arm in Nov. 2014 “after announcing he had accepted oaths of allegiance from fighters in the country.”

The US hunted down some of the personnel dispatched by Baghdadi in 2015, including Abu Nabil al Anbari (aka Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi) in November of that year. The Defense Department described al Anbari as “an Iraqi national who was a longtime al Qaeda operative and the senior [Islamic State] leader in Libya.” Other senior Islamic State personnel were deployed to the country as well. The jihadists’ effort became so important that US officials began to openly worry that Baghdadi’s men could use Libya as a fallback zone as they lost ground in Iraq and Syria.

Between Aug. 1 and Dec. 19, 2016, US Africa Command conducted “495 precision airstrikes against Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices, heavy guns, tanks, command and control centers and fighting positions” as part of Operation Odyssey Lightning. The operation was conducted in conjunction with the Libyan Government of Nation Accord (GNA), which backed the militiamen that made up most of the ground forces. GNA “reports suggested” significant losses on the anti-Islamic State side, according to State, with “more than 700 fighters from GNA-aligned forces” killed and 3,200 others wounded “during the seven‑month-long campaign against ISIS.”

In Jan. 2017, the US bombed two Islamic State training camps south of Sirte, citing the presence of the group’s “external plotters.” The Defense Department estimated that dozens of jihadists were killed. Subsequent reporting revealed that the “external plotters” were connected to planned attacks in Europe.

But that wasn’t the end of the Islamic State’s presence in Libya, as the jihadists had cadres sprinkled throughout the country.

“At the end of 2016,” Foggy Bottom says, the self-declared caliphate’s arm “was no longer in control of any towns in Libya, but its members continued to operate throughout the eastern, southern, and western regions of the country.” The jihadists “also carried out attacks in Tripoli and Benghazi.”

In December, the Islamic State’s Rumiyah magazine, which is published in multiple languages, carried an interview with Sheikh Abu Hudhayfah al Muhajir, who was identified as the group’s leader in Libya. The “detachments of the mujahidin” are “spread today throughout the deserts of Libya,” Muhajir claimed, and they will make their enemies “taste severe hardship.” He vowed that they “will reclaim the cities and areas once more, by Allah’s power and strength.”

Muhajir was asked about the Islamic State’s strength in “regions outside of Sirte.” He claimed that the number of “mujahid brothers in the Libyan wilayat [province] continue to be…abundant.” Their “covert units are scattered throughout all the cities and regions, and their detachments cruise the deserts both east and west.” [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Pentagon: Islamic State has lost its safe haven in Sirte, Libya.]

Abu Hudhayfah al Muhajir gave an inflated sense of his group’s capabilities. Time will tell how strong the Islamic State’s reconstituted presence in Libya will be. A number of scenarios are possible, including defections to other jihadist groups. But the State Department’s report warns that “many members of the terrorist organization” fanned out across the country and elsewhere after the battle for Sirte.

Font: BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | July 20, 2017