Thursday, January 19, 2017

PROJECT DIAMOND BEGINS WHERE PINK PANTHER LEFT OFF




Europol hosts international conference on jewellery robbery and burglary.

19 January 2017
Press Release

This week Europol organised, together with Austria and Switzerland, the first international conference on jewellery robbery and burglary under a new umbrella project entitled ‘Diamond’.

Hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the event brought together more than 70 experts from almost all EU Member States, as well as third parties from Europe, Asia, the Americas, Eurojust and private jewellery/watch companies.

‘Diamond’ was initially composed as a follow-up project to Interpol’s ‘Pink Panther’ project, which ended in 2016. The ‘Pink Panther’ project focussed only on robberies committed by perpetrators from the Western Balkans. Diamond, however, will even extend its focus, which will not only include criminal networks involved in jewellery robberies, including burglaries, from Europe but also from the Baltic Sea and Western Black Sea areas.

Europol’s Head of Serious and Organised Crime, Michael Rauschenbach, highlighted: “Criminals are becoming more inventive, as well as using technology to their advantage to carry out the most daring robberies and burglaries, as we have seen in the case of the ‘Pink Panther thieves’. Europol is committed to staying one step ahead of them by capitalising on our resources to ensure that their deeds do not go unpunished. Our success also depends on inter-agency cooperation and we are pleased that we could bring together so many experts from Europe and beyond to serve one common purpose – making Europe a safer place for the benefit of our citizens.”

Currently, the EU is facing a returning trend in jewellery robbery and burglary. Individuals from South America, in particular, have been travelling to Europe to rob jewellery stores. The new trend in this area is that criminals are becoming more violent and using heavy vehicles to drive into jewellery stores. This modus operandi is of great concern for Europol, as it could endanger the life of customers and staff members present in the stores.

Therefore, one of the objectives of the conference was to expand the existing network of experts created by the ‘Pink Panther’ Project. In addition, conference participants exchanged views on the necessary tools required to fight jewellery robbery and burglary.

Europol already holds a series of state-of-the-art information gathering and exchange tools that can be used to fight the criminal rings involved. These include:

- Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA)
- Europol Platform for Experts (EPE)
- Europol Information System (EIS)
- Europol Analysis System (EAS)

To this end, Europol intends to establish an early warning system, as well as a single point of information gathering dedicated to tracking stolen watches and jewellery. In addition, Europol plans to increase the number of strategic analysis and situational reports it produces, and expects to further implement operational data systems in this particular area. Another development relates to the fact that there will be closer cooperation with the private sector to tackle this criminal activity.

Background information

The conference was attended by participants from the following EU Member States: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Non-EU countries: Albania, Colombia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Japan, Moldova, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and the USA.

Project ‘Pink Panther’ was initiated by Interpol in 2007 to help law enforcement across the globe apprehend members of the Pink Panthers international network of jewellery thieves, originating from the Western Balkans. Between 1999 and 2015 the criminals are thought to have carried out approximately 380 armed robberies, valued at EUR 334 million, targeting high-end jewellery stores. The project facilitated information gathering, exchange and analysis, and founded a network of investigators, all of which proved to be crucial in identifying this highly-skilled criminal network.

ISIS leader gives ultimatum to foreign fighters in Mosul to return home or carry out suicide attacks.




Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, has put an ultimatum on foreign fighters to either return home or conduct suicide attacks against Iraqi forces in Mosul with the promise of going to heaven and being rewarded with 72 virgins, a local source in Nineveh province told Al-Sumaria News on Monday.

ISIS are known to execute fighters who try to leave the terrorist group.

It is assumed that their encouragement to return to their home countries would be to carry out attacks or start their own insurgencies.

Trump, Israel, and the American Jewish Community

Donald Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Trump Tower
in New York on September 25, 2016


INSS Insight No. 890, January 19, 2017
Ari Heistein

Donald Trump’s victory, which surprised the media and pollsters alike, has created a great deal of uncertainty for both the American people and their allies in Israel. Many in Jerusalem see the Trump administration as an opportunity to restore the special relationship between Israel and the United States, its most important and irreplaceable ally. At the same time, many of their American coreligionists are worried about the negative consequences of Trump’s victory: the zeitgeist he has cultivated, threats to their safety, and the standing of minorities in the US in general, and Jews in the US in particular. If the incoming administration pursues a different strategy from the one it took on the campaign trail and chooses to bridge gaps among the American people, it could also help bridge a potentially widening gap between the American Jewish community and Israel.

While Israel’s right wing politicians were busy celebrating Donald Trump’s electoral victory, much of the American Jewish community expressed profound concern. Over the course of his campaign, Trump said a great deal that appealed to Israel’s right: he threatened to sink an Iranian gunboat, emphasized the need to take a tough stance against radical Islamic terror, and declared that West Bank settlements were not an obstacle to peace. At the same time, the rebellion he led against political correctness fostered an environment condoning xenophobia and hate speech; Trump himself made anti-immigrant statements and chose not to condemn such sentiments and expressions among his supporters. Should the Trump administration fail to condemn hate speech and incitement, in particular rhetoric that is anti-Semitic in nature, while at the same time fulfilling its promise to strengthen ties with Israel, it will likely become a point of contention in the relationship between the American Jewish community and Israel.

Concerns of American Jews about the rise in xenophobia and hate speech that accompanied Trump’s meteoric rise in politics proved justified. On the eve of the elections, the Trump campaign released an election advertisement that presented three powerful Jewish people and used typical anti-Semitic tropes like “global special interests” and “those who control the levers of power” to describe them, prompting the Washington Post headline “Anti-Semitism is No Longer the Undertone of the Trump’s Campaign. It’s the Melody.” Shortly after declaring victory, President Trump appointed his campaign’s CEO and former editor of Breitbart News Steve Bannon as his future administration’s chief strategist. Breitbart is infamous for running articles that reject political correctness, including articles that referred to conservative commentator Bill Kristol as a “renegade Jew,” and Bannon’s ex-wife testified that he made anti-Semitic comments in his personal life as well. Although it is unknown whether Trump and his chief strategist personally espouse anti-Semitic beliefs, it is notable that neither has condemned anti-Semitic sentiments with anything approaching the ferocity with which they attacked Trump antagonists.

Some have tried to allay the American Jewish community’s concerns by pointing to the Trump campaign’s pro-Israel statements. Indeed, Trump’s advisors on Israel, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, did not miss an opportunity to demonstrate that the views of the Republican candidate were in-line with those of the government of Israel. A week before the elections, Friedman and Greenblatt released a statement declaring that, if elected, Trump would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, take action to contain Iran, and defend Israel’s standing in the international arena against BDS and delegitimization efforts. However, support for Israel does not relieve Trump of the need to decry hate speech against all Americans, including Jews. This imperative is particularly urgent, as the Anti-Defamation League 2016 report shows a clear positive correlation between the Trump campaign’s failure to renounce anti-Semitism among his supporters and an increase in online harassment of Jewish Americans.

The Jewish communities in Israel and the US, which constitute about 80 percent of the world’s Jewish population, are already tested by their divisions over religion and politics. The policies of Israel’s Orthodox state rabbinate to attack non-Orthodox institutions and reject their legitimacy regarding personal status laws (conversion, marriage, divorce, etc.) as well as worship at the Western Wall have been the cause of much frustration among the ideologically diverse American Jewish community (only about 10 percent identify as Orthodox, and about half identify as Conservative or Reform, which are not recognized by the Rabbinate of Israel as legitimate institutions for determined issues of personal status).

There are also significant gaps between the US and Israeli Jewish communities in attitudes relating to politics. While according to a 2013 PEW survey 49 percent of US Jews describe themselves as liberal, only 8 percent of Israelis identify similarly, according to a poll conducted in 2016. These differences became more pronounced in the Obama years, given the tensions between Obama, who won the vast majority of the American Jewish vote, and Prime Minister Netanyahu in the context of dramatic changes in the region. These developments included the collapse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process led by Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. The majority of Jews in America and Israel find themselves on opposite sides regarding those issues.

The different environments of the respective communities undoubtedly play a major role in shaping the fundamentally different religious and political values that they hold. In the US, Jews are a small minority among a large Christian majority, and therefore it is not surprising that a large percentage espouse liberal values such as protecting the rights of minorities and political correctness. In contrast, Jews in Israel constitute the vast majority and their religious identity is a source of shared identity rather than a factor that causes them to feel any difference or alienation. In addition, security concerns and the strong influence of the military in society have often cast typical liberal values aside. The growing hate speech and incitement towards foreigners and minorities evident after Trump's victory may well distance the US Jewish community from the incoming administration, at the same time that the incoming President's pro-Israel positions could lead to closer ties between Jerusalem and Washington. These different attitudes toward the Trump presidency, within the context of preexisting tensions, could easily deepen the divide between American Jewry and Israel.

Furthermore, surveys indicate that the younger generation in the United States, Jews and non-Jews alike, supports Israel less than its predecessors did. According to a recent report by Philip Gordon and Robert Blackwill, "Younger Americans—those born after 1980—are markedly less supportive of Israel than previous generations." This diminished sympathy is likely the result of numerous factors that will deepen over time, including growing historical distance from the Holocaust and Israel's transformation from a "David" into a "(regional) Goliath." The opinions of young Jewish Americans (18-29) are not detached from overall trends in the US, evident in the fact that they are more than twice as likely than the preceding generation (30-49) to state the US is "too supportive" of Israel, at 25 percent and 12 percent, respectively.

Donald Trump’s victory, which surprised the media and pollsters alike, has created a great deal of uncertainty for both the American people and their allies in Israel. Many in Jerusalem see the Trump administration as an opportunity to restore the special relationship between Israel and the United States, its most important and irreplaceable ally. At the same time, many of their American coreligionists are worried about the negative consequences of Trump’s victory: the zeitgeist he has cultivated, threats to their safety, and the standing of minorities in the US in general, and Jews in the US in particular. If the incoming administration pursues a different strategy from the one it took on the campaign trail and chooses to bridge gaps among the American people, it could also help bridge a potentially widening gap between the American Jewish community and Israel.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Waffen für Dschihadisten



Schritte durch eine befreite Stadt:
Bewohner des Viertels Al-Kallasseh in Ostaleppo am 30. Dezember
Foto: EPA/STR/dpa-Bildfunk



Syrien: Nach der Befreiung der Stadt Aleppo wurde dort tonnenweise Kriegsgerät aus den USA und anderen Ländern sichergestellt.

Bei einem Treffen mit einer gemeinsamen Delegation von Abgeordneten des EU-Parlaments und des russischen Parlaments (Duma) am 29. Dezember in Damaskus, hat der syrische Präsident Baschar Al-Assad bekräftigt, dass europäische Länder Syrien erst dann helfen könnten, wenn sie aufhörten, die terroristischen Gruppen in Syrien zu unterstützen. Assad forderte die Aufhebung der EU-Wirtschaftssanktionen gegen sein Land. Europa müsse erkennen, dass eine Lösung nur von den Syrern selber herbeigeführt werden könne.

Ein interner UN-Bericht vom Mai 2016 über die Auswirkungen von EU- und US-Sanktionen auf die humanitäre Hilfe in Syrien, den die Internetplattform The Intercept am 28. September veröffentlicht hatte, kommt zu dem Ergebnis, dass die Strafmaßnahmen wesentlich zum Niedergang des syrischen Gesundheitswesens beigetragen haben.

Der ehemalige britische Botschafter in Syrien Peter Ford sagte in einem Interview mit dem britischen Sender BBC Radio 4 am 23. Dezember, Großbritannien habe in Syrien »von Anfang an alles falsch gemacht«. Die Strategie, keine eigenen Truppen zu entsenden und statt dessen Rebellengruppen zu unterstützen, sei »zum Scheitern verurteilt« gewesen. »Wir haben die Lage verschlimmert«, so Ford. »Für jeden, der nicht mit Wunschdenken vergiftet war«, sei dies »vorhersehbar gewesen«. Großbritannien hatte wie Frankreich, Deutschland und die USA seit dem Frühsommer 2011 die diplomatischen Beziehungen mit der syrischen Regierung zunächst unterbrochen und dann ganz eingestellt. »Sie sagten uns, der Sturz von Assad stehe unmittelbar bevor, sie sagten uns, er werde bis Weihnachten weg sein«, erinnert sich Peter Ford an die damaligen Erklärungen des britischen Außenministeriums. (kl)

Es ist still geworden um Aleppo. Deutsche Medien und die Bundesregierung schweigen dazu, wie es nach der Evakuierung von rund 35.000 Menschen im Osten der Stadt kurz vor Weihnachten weitergegangen ist.

Noch vor knapp zwei Wochen warfen die UN-Botschafter Großbritanniens, Frankreichs und der USA Russland, Syrien und dem Iran vor, bei der Einnahme der östlichen Stadtviertel »Massaker« zu verüben und »Hinrichtungen« vorzunehmen. Aleppo sei das »Synonym für die Hölle« geworden, so der scheidende UN-Generalsekretär Ban Ki Moon. Und die US-Botschafterin Samantha Power verglich das Geschehen in Ostaleppo mit »Halabja, Ruanda, Srebrenica«. Es müsse eine UN-Mission geben, die den Menschen helfen und sie evakuieren könne. Zu dem Zeitpunkt flohen Menschen aus Ostaleppo bereits zu Tausenden in den von der Regierung kontrollierten Westen der Stadt.

Ganz still wurden die westlichen UN-Botschafter aber, als der syrische Geschäftsmann und Parlamentsabgeordnete, Faris Shehabi, auf seiner Facebook-Seite die Namen von 14 ausländischen Militär- und Geheimdienstoffizieren nannte, die in Ostaleppo ausfindig gemacht und festgenommen worden seien. Die Männer seien aus der Türkei, USA, Israel, Marokko, Jordanien, Katar und Saudi-Arabien, so Shehabi. Unmittelbar danach einigte man sich im UN-Sicherheitsrat fast stillschweigend auf eine UN-Mission, die die Evakuierung derjenigen kontrollieren sollte, die nach Idlib oder in die Türkei gebracht werden wollten.

Das Internationale Komitee vom Roten Kreuz (IKRK) und der Syrische Arabische Rote Halbmond (SARC) waren zu diesem Zeitpunkt schon seit Tagen an der Seite der Menschen in Ostaleppo gewesen. Nach Idlib und in die Türkei wurden schließlich 35.000 Menschen evakuiert. Darunter waren 4.000 Kämpfer, deren Angehörige, Verletzte und Unterstützer. Mit den letzten Bussen hätten ausländische Geheimdienstoffiziere und Militärs den Osten von Aleppo verlassen, berichtete der libanesische Sender Al-Mayadeen. Westliche Medien schwiegen ebenso wie die syrische Regierung und deren Verbündete.

Im US-Internetportal Veterans Today (»Veteranen heute«), das nach eigenen Angaben »die Position von Mitgliedern der militärischen Gemeinde und von Veteranen aus dem Bereich der nationalen Sicherheit, geopolitischen Stabilität und Innenpolitik vertritt«, war am 17. Dezember zu lesen, dass die genannten 14 Namen vermutlich falsche Identitäten gewesen seien. Veterans Today bezieht sich dabei auf einen Artikel des Internetportals Southfront. Es sei »gängige Praxis, falsche Identitäten zu benutzen, wenn man in einer geheimen Operation diene«, heißt es dort im Beitrag eines Autors namens »Gordon«. Auch Southfront steht vermutlich Geheimdienstkreisen nah und bietet nach eigenen Angaben »mit einem Expertenteam aus allen vier Ecken der Erde (….) Analyse und Aufklärung über militärische Operationen und die militärische Position der wichtigsten Weltmächte« an.

Von »eigenen syrischen Quellen« habe Southfront erfahren, dass 128 ausländische Offiziere mit den Kämpfern, Angehörigen und Verletzten aus Ostaleppo evakuiert worden seien. Es habe »eine Vereinbarung zwischen allen beteiligten Parteien« darüber gegeben. Demnach hätten Offiziere aus den USA (22), Großbritannien (16), Frankreich (21), Israel (7) und der Türkei (62) Ostaleppo verlassen. Westliche Medien berichteten darüber nicht, und auch Syrien schwieg.

Was die abziehenden Kämpfer und ausländischen Offiziere zurückließen, wird nun von russischen und syrischen Spezialkräften dokumentiert. Mehr als 14.000 Minen und Sprengfallen wurden entschärft, Tausende selbstgebaute Bomben zusammengetragen. Fundorte waren demnach unter anderem vier Schulen, ein Kindergarten und neun Moscheen. Pioniere der russischen und syrischen Armee fanden Waffenlager, die »randvoll« mit großkalibriger Munition für schwere Waffen – Gewehre, Raketen, Artillerie – gewesen seien. Als Herkunftsländer des Kriegsgeräts nannte der russische Major Iwan Gromow unter anderen die USA, Deutschland und Bulgarien. Außerdem habe man nagelneue 122-mm-Mörsergranaten, Handgranaten und Granatwerfer sowie Raketen für Mehrfachraketenwerfer und Granaten für Haubitzen gefunden, sagte Gromow am 28. Dezember dem Sender Rossija 24. Bilder und Filmaufnahmen wurden verbreitet. Die Herkunft von vielen der Waffen in Originalkisten sei durch Aufkleber erkennbar gewesen, auf denen »Aus den USA für die gegenseitige Verteidigung« gestanden habe.

Auch Massengräber mit Dutzende Leichnamen seien gefunden worden, teilte das russische Verteidigungsministerium am 26. Dezember mit. Die Toten hätten Schusswunden am Kopf, Verstümmlungen und deutliche Spuren von Folter aufgewiesen. Eine Sprecherin der UN-Kommission für Menschenrechte in Genf erklärte, die Kommission prüfe die Angaben.












Saturday, December 24, 2016

Cohen's Mossad: One Year On


Yossi Cohen, Head of the Mossad (Photo: AP)


Yossi Cohen concludes his first year as the Head of the Mossad, the Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate resigns his position and coalitions are forming up to compete over IMOD's technological tender. Amir Rapaport's weekly column.

The reports that started coming in from Tunisia last Friday were reminiscent of past stories: once again, a mysterious assassination of a key enemy figure, a nimble finger pulling the trigger of a silenced handgun and then promptly disappears.

This time, the Tunisian media reported the assassination of a UAV engineer, Mohammad al-Zawahri, shot from point-blank range in his car in the town of Sfax in central Tunisia. It was alleged that the Mossad had kept him under surveillance owing to his connections with Hamas.

Truth or fiction? Israel normally ignores such reports, but sometimes admission comes as a result of failure (as in the case of the attempted assassination of Khaled Mashal in Amman in 1997) or owing to the long time that has elapsed since the actual incident (as in the case of the assassination of Abu-Jihad, also in Tunisia, in 1988).

Apparently, there is a motive: Israel is keenly interested in preventing Hamas from developing advanced UAVs, and particularly unmanned 'Kamikaze' UAVs that might penetrate the defensive envelope of the Iron Dome system. But the speculations will remain intact, as in this case there will be no Israeli admission of the assassination, and probably no denial either.

In any case, the incident in Tunisia has shed some light on the activity of the current head of the Mossad, who happens to conclude his first year in office these days.

So what can we say about Yossi Cohen's first year as head of the Mossad? Some of the things had been included in Israel Defense's year-end report for the previous year, and it's time to repeat them. Well, Cohen has not initiated any revolutionary moves during his first year as head of the Mossad, but was one of the most influential figures with regard to Israeli national security in 2016, and will continue to be a key figure in the next year as well.

One primary reason for Cohen's dominant status involves the circumstances, both internal and regional, in Jerusalem (and even in Tel-Aviv). The number of people whose defense and diplomatic views the Prime Minister values is very small. Netanyahu's environment is in short supply of figures possessing the background and status and after so many years as Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu conducts himself as someone who does not really appreciate the opinions of the other members of his cabinet, who are predominately less seasoned than Netanyahu himself with regard to defense/security and political affairs.

Even the National Security Council is not a significant function. So far, the Prime Minister has not even appointed a permanent replacement for Yossi Cohen, who had served as the head of the NSC before he was appointed as the head of the Mossad. The Prime Minister holds regular meetings with the Minister of Defense as well as with the head of the IDF Intelligence Directorate and the head of ISA, but Yossi Cohen's importance as a close confidant and as someone the Prime Minister holds in high regard is particularly high.

The regional circumstances also highlight Yossi Cohen, as almost nothing is what it appears to be on the surface: from Turkey through Egypt and Saudi Arabia, Russia, Jordan, Europe and naturally – the USA. Various alliances were devised in 2016, written and verbal agreements were concluded, and the Mossad under Yossi Cohen's leadership is, apparently, highly important in all of the various theaters.

Internally, within the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, 55, consolidated his status as boss very quickly. Everyone within the entire intelligence community is aware of his special relations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and if anyone should miss it, Cohen will casually drop the Prime Minister's name. He plays this card quite often.

Cohen's predecessors at the top of the Mossad had initiated some revolutionary moves during their first year in office. Meir Dagan, for example, increased the ranks of the Mossad dramatically, steering the agency toward war against the Iranian nuclear program. Tamir Pardo had initiated a substantial change in the agency's organizational structure.

Cohen, on the other hand, has thus far avoided any revolutionary moves, but he is replacing many senior officers within the agency's top echelon so as to form a top echelon that will be exactly to his liking. For example, a new head has been appointed recently to the Mossad's Intelligence Division. B. replaced Z., who had served in the IDF Intelligence Directorate. As in his previous positions, Cohen remains a workaholic. His door is always open to random callers who wish to present their affairs to him, even without an appointment, and he maintains the image that has accompanied him since he was very young, that of a "fashion model" – from his prestigious clothes to his dancing, in full view of the cameras, at a recent performance of Shlomo Artzi – a popular Israeli singer.

Above all, Yossi Cohen always was and remains an operations man, a case officer through and through, a master of field operations like the recent operation executed – or not – in Tunisia.

Cohen's phenomenal interpersonal skills are reflected in his contacts with his subordinates and peers. He regards operational matters more highly than anything else.

As far as the operational aspect is concerned, the war against terrorism remains a worldwide effort, but the Iranian issue has not been put on ice, either: the present assignment of the Mossad is to deliver irrefutable proof to the effect that Iran violates the agreement with the superpowers (which would happen sooner or later).

As far as covert operations are concerned, glory is unattainable: the most successful operations of the Mossad are those of which only very few people are aware. On the other hand, the failures, as in the case of the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh (attributed to the Mossad) or the Khaled Mashal affair, become a matter of public knowledge. Cohen will prefer to complete his term in office with none of the Mossad's operations being publicized.

From the Mossad to the IDF: the decision by the Head of the IDF Personnel Directorate, Maj. Gen. Hagai Topolanski, to resign his position should be regarded as a model of personal accountability, but this apparently exaggerated move also raises questions.

The main reason for those questions is the fact that Topolanski was appointed as Head of the Personnel Directorate only for a period of waiting and maturing in preparation for the battle over the position of the next Commandant of IAF, who will take office in the summer of 2017.

Topolanski is a top fighter pilot and a highly regarded IAF commander, and the environment of the IDF Personnel Directorate is not his natural element. He has recently learned that Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, rather than him, will be the next Commandant of IAF. Topolanski was intended to remain in the position of Head of the Personnel Directorate for two more years. It is doubtful whether he would have resigned if he had been appointed as the next Commandant of IAF. In fact – there is no doubt about it: he would not have resigned.

The locomotive: meanwhile, the national cyber center (CERT) has been inaugurated in Beersheba this week, while among the industries, coalitions are forming up to compete for IMOD's tender for the technological management of the project involving the relocation of the IDF to the south during the next decade. The tender deadline is drawing near and tensions are mounting. These are the emerging coalitions: ECI with the Tata Corporation of India; IBM, Rafael, MalamTeam, Dell, Cisco and Bynet, possibly with General Dynamics as well; Bezeq International with the Rackspace Company of the USA and IAI with Leidos (formerly the IT Division of Lockheed Martin).


Font: Israel Defense












Tuesday, November 15, 2016

General Mike Flynn would prioritise 'partnerships and interoperability'







As of today, Lt. Gen (Rtd) Michael T. Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, is being rumoured for a potential cabinet position under the newly elected Trump Administration.

Once a lifelong Democrat, Flynn became one of the loudest voices on the GOP campaign trail for Donald Trump, levelling heavy criticism at President Obama and the leadership decisions made during his time in office, going as far as to challenge the standing narrative in 2014 that Islamist fundamentalism was on the way out following the death of Osama Bin Laden.

Four years earlier, he had cemented his reputation for shaking things up by writing a thinktank report that came down hard on the U.S. intelligence approach in Afghanistan, recommending “sweeping changes to the way the intelligence community thinks about itself.” The report claimed that after nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan, U.S. forces still demonstrated little understanding of the country in which they were operating.

While Flynn infers that his disruptive opinions on Obama’s strategy was the cause of his exit, others believe that his plans to beef up the DIA into an intelligence agency to rival the CIA ruffled too many feathers, with concerns arising over projected costs and requirements. Whatever the core divide, there seems no doubt that the general had been openly determined to go against the grain.

However, in his last year of office – just weeks before his retirement, I spoke with Flynn at the ISR and C2 Battle Management forum in London, UK, where the spy chief was delivering a highly anticipated brief on the future of defence intelligence and the recent achievements made stateside in front of representatives from NATO and other international partners. In a quiet corridor, as his security team prepared his vehicle to whisk him back to an undisclosed location, I asked him why he had made special time in his schedule to come to London.

He replied that “the importance of partners, partnerships, interoperability, independence – particularly as it relates to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, today and in the future – is probably one of the most important lessons that we can take away from the last decade on the planet, especially as we look to future operations that I know we are bound to be in.

 “We’re operating in a C5 environment, and that extra ‘C’ stands for ‘coalition’. We’ve had to change our mind-set to put that factor before ‘command’. Deepening our mutual trust is a big deal. I really believe that our alliances are our force multipliers.”

Consistently, Flynn also expressed an admiration of his country’s intelligence apparatus, while lamenting how it was being employed, saying: “The United States’ strategic advantage is our intelligence system. It is unbelievable. It is unprecedented for any time in history. But it’s only as good as in as far as it’s prioritised. Right now it’s over-stretched.”

As the media speculates on whether Flynn may soon take up the office of defense secretary or national security adviser, it is a safe bet to assume that he will – as ever – do his utmost to ‘change’ the path of the intelligence community and its approach to military operations. And yet, to take him at his word, disruption will not mean division. Indeed, there is evidence in his statement to suggest that he will lead a new drive to bind allies to fresh agreements and ensure the campaigns of tomorrow will be conducted from the same hymn sheet – if not with the same equipment, resources, methods and long-term strategic goals.

Time will tell as to the results of these dramatic political changes we are still absorbing from our screens, but if we are to make one prediction, it is that whatever his role, Flynn – perhaps in contrast to recent perceptions of Donald Trump – will now aim to be seen primarily as a unifier rather than as a disruptor.

The next ISR and C2 Battle Management forum will be taking place next week in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, where decision-makers from the CIA, FBI, NSA will be briefing alongside Generals and Admirals from the ISR departments of all U.S. military services. This will be proceeded in by the Airborne ISR and C2 BM forum in London, UK (March 15-16, 2017), which will host a diverse international panel of senior leaders.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Technological Challenges in the Service of Counterterrorism.








In order to cope with technological threats effectively, the State, under the leadership of the Counterterrorism Bureau, must be capable of analyzing future technologies and the possibilities they offer to the various terrorist elements.

Technology is making quantum leaps and while in the past only states possessed certain capabilities, today, regrettably, states possessing impressive technological capabilities support terrorism (Iran, North Korea). This is a double-edged sword: on the one hand, some impressive technological developments are used by the civilian sector for various needs in such fields as industry, medicine, academia and so forth. On the other hand, these technologies may be directed against us through terrorist elements. So how do you develop capabilities to cope with the "inventiveness of terrorism"?

To illustrate, I will present an example from a field of activity where a solution has been provided or at least where a substantial effort is under way in an attempt to provide a solution. The sniffing of explosives has always been and still remains a significant element in the various security loops, primarily in aviation security. Security professionals realized long ago that a whole world – a technological world primarily – had succeeded in developing a category of improvised explosives that existing sniffer (trace detector) systems cannot identify, which constitutes a threat to civil aviation. Consequently, a serious effort is under way in an attempt to develop the next generation of sniffers (about which, naturally, I will not elaborate) that would be capable of coping with those improvised explosives.

But what happens in the other fields? A professional, cross-organizational, multidisciplinary forum should be established to study the new technologies (those expected to mature in 5-10 years) and attempt to prepare the necessary solutions for them, so that we do not wake up one day to a reality where murderous terrorist possess technological capabilities adopted from the civilian market and currently threaten all of us.

The three examples outlined below should motivate the establishment of the required system (a statutory, budgeted inter-ministry, cross-organizational committee required to present processes and products on a regular basis).

Home 3D Printers: Some of us are familiar with and have seen the video describing the making of a handgun using a 3D printer. Such a handgun cannot be smuggled into a 'sterile' area as it will have to be X-rayed and such screening will detect the bullet. However, 3D printers may produce locks or sealers of the type used to seal sea freight containers. Such locks can give the impression that the cargo/gate is secure, while in fact it was broken into. In this case, the entire concept of secure containers will collapse.

The Cyber World: The cyber world has already been analyzed and discussed very thoroughly and it is not my intention to address the full breadth of the issue. Nevertheless, the vulnerabilities of all security systems (known as low voltage systems), which translate into such threats as disabling of security systems, freezing of surveillance images, planting of alternative images and so forth, constitute a content world which we should address very thoroughly in order to deny potential attackers such capabilities.

Autonomous Cars: A new trend that currently sweeps across the entire high-tech industry involves the attempt (which has thus far been partially successful) to manufacture a driver-less car that may be driven with no need for a human hand or mind. Have we considered the potential terrorist applications of this technology?

In order to cope with technological threats effectively and consistently, the State, under the leadership of the Counterterrorism Bureau, must be capable of analyzing future technologies and the possibilities they offer to the various terrorist elements. What can and should be the output of the inter-ministry, cross-organizational committee described above? It should operate as a regulator while producing technological developments that would minimize the potential advantages of the new technological capabilities if they ever fell into the hands of terrorism.

In the field of sea freight containers, for example, additional sensors should be installed to indicate whether the container had been broken into and whether the equipment it contains had been tampered with. We do not always have to wait until disaster strikes. Sometimes, through a relatively simple technical analysis, we can anticipate the realization of the threat through existing technologies and provide a simple, inexpensive and practical solution that would remain effective at least until the next threat comes along.

***

Font: Brig. Gen. (res.) Nitzan Nuriel is the former head of Israel's Counterterrorism Bureau.

Russian-Egyptian Cooperation in the War on Terror.








Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay analyzes the strategic relations between Egypt and Russia following the conclusion of the joint naval exercise between the two countries, codenamed "Defenders of Friendship 2016".

Exercise "Defenders of Friendship 2016," a joint Russian-Egyptian counter-terrorist exercise, took place in the territory of the Arab Republic of Egypt in the area between the city of Alexandria and El Alamein, on October 15-26, 2016.

It was the first joint Russia-Egypt anti-terrorism military exercise, based on earlier agreements between Russia and Egypt. In June 2015, Russian and Egyptian navy forces conducted their first-ever joint naval drills in the Mediterranean Sea near Alexandria.

According to Russia's Defense Ministry, exercise "Defenders of Friendship 2016," involved six airfields and 15 helicopters and planes. During the drills, Russia’s Ilyushin-76MD transport planes dropped five combat vehicles BMD-2 and one armored personnel carrier BTR-D and about 300 Russian and Egyptian paratroops parachuted themselves. Russian and Egyptian paratroopers practiced localization and elimination of militant groups in desert conditions. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, a new uniform for hot climate had been developed for servicemen who were participating in military drills with the Egyptian army.

The exercise has been controlled by operation groups of both countries from the joint command center, which had been formed at the El Hammam military base.

The Main Stages of the Exercise

October 18, 2016: The Russian Airborne servicemen have left the al-Umaed military base of the Egyptian Armed Forces in order to hold joint day and night firing with small arms at the Alam al-Hadem range. Through co-firing was used a range of weapons ranging from throwing knives for a stealthy destruction of enemy forces, until anti-tank grenade launchers and assault rifles. Military servicemen of both countries have performed more than 600 firing tasks and engaged more than 800 targets at different distances.

October 19, 2016: About 200 servicemen of the Russian and Egyptian Airborne troops have performed joint landing operation from the altitudes of 2,000, 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Joint landing operation was held with the use of D-10, T-10V, Arbalet, and MS-5 parachute systems from Il-76MD aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces as well as from C-130 and CASA ones of the Egyptian Armed Forces on the Tallet landing site.

On the same day, Russian and Egyptian servicemen attended special medical training. The exercise participants practiced providing medical assistance in conditions of modern combined-arms combat in the desert. The paratroopers also got familiarized with methods of extreme medicine used by the Russian medical service.

October 21, 2016: Russian Airborne servicemen familiarized the Egyptian counterparts with capabilities of Russian transport aircraft. They demonstrated different ways of loading combat hardware into Il-76MD transport. Russian military servicemen informed their counterparts how to embark more than 40 types of equipment, including self-propelled guns, howitzers, special vehicles, and heavy wheeled and tracked hardware, for transporting.

October 24, 2016: In the main phase of the Russia-Egypt exercise, Russian Airborne troops and Egyptian Airborne troops practiced locating and eliminating illegal armed formations in conditions of desert and liberating a city.

Egypt – Russia Joint Navy Exercise "Friendship Bridge 2015"

On June 2015, Russia and Egypt conducted the first joint naval exercise, codenamed the "Friendship Bridge 2015."

Russia and Egypt have commenced their joint naval exercise off the Mediterranean Egyptian port of Alexandria, as part of efforts to strengthen the military cooperation between the countries.

The Russian side was represented by the ships of the Black Sea and Baltic Fleets. The Russian vessels in the exercise included the guided missile cruiser Moskva and the catamaran missile corvette Samum, the tanker Ivan Bubnov and landing ship Alexander Shahalin.

Egypt’s ships in the "Friendship Bridge 2015" exercises included the frigates Taba, Dumyat and Sharm El-Sheik, two missile patrol boats, April 25 and June 18 and two F-16 fighters.

The coastal staff of both navies has been located in the "United Control Centre" of the Navy of Egypt. The Moskva cruiser was the exercise flagship, housing the mobile headquarters. Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Vice Admiral Valery Kulikov and chief of the Egyptian Navy’s combat training department Lt. Gen. Mahmud Mufarrah were in command of the drills.

The eight-day exercise has covered: supply and communications at sea, search operations, as well as all forms of defense at sea and firing exercises. During the exercise, Russian and Egyptian Navy ships performed protection tasks over sea routes against different kinds of threats.

"According to the exercise joint command, crew members of the two countries’ warships drilled maneuvering in column at the exit from the Alexandria naval base, successfully conducted an exercise to repel an attack of a small target, and in accordance with the set parameters and standards conducted a joint air defense drill in the area of operations with the involvement of the F-16 fighters of the Egyptian Air Force," Russian Navy spokesman said. For the Russian crew, it was a good opportunity to practice the drills on the US made modern aircraft.

Summary

The joint "Defenders of Friendship 2016" exercise should be analyzed on the background of three main strategic developments: The Russian "come back" to the Middle East as a dominant player, Egypt as a regional power and the international cooperation in the war against terror.

Russia: In last years, one of the most significant geostrategic developments in the Middle East has been Russia’s increasing political and military involvement. Aside from its deepening military and political involvement in Syria, Russia is improving its relations with Egypt.

As Russia’s military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean grows, it was the first-ever deployment of Russian Airborne Troops stocked with their own weapons and equipment on the African continent and one of the first opportunities for the Russian paratroopers to participate in the joint exercise held in the territories in a desert of  North Africa.

The joint military exercise is significant for Russia’s gradual reemergence as a major player in the Middle East. Egypt is a regional power in the unstable Middle East and strategic cooperation with Egypt is a significant step toward reasserting a regional role that Russia has not enjoyed since 1970.

Egypt: Russia is one of the main non-Arab supporters of El-Sisi’s government and was among the first countries to endorse El-Sisi’s presidential bid in 2014. Cairo has sought to strengthen its ties with Moscow, against the backdrop of strained ties with its long-time ally Washington, since the ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in July 2013. Egypt, though interested in forming stronger relations with Russia, primarily seek to signal to the international community that its foreign policy is not to be dictated by others.

Diversifying the sources of Egypt’s armaments became a priority among state strategists after the 30 June Revolution. Overreliance on one provider was now seen as shortsighted. Egypt was also keen to ensure its armaments policy responded to international political developments, including the growing influence of China and Russia.

The "Defenders of Friendship-2016" exercise is a significant step in the fast-growing strategic alliance between Egypt and Russia. Egypt and Russia have never been that close since the era of late President Gamal Abdel Nasser, referring to the level of economic and military cooperation.

Cooperation in the war against terror: The Middle East has witnessed an increase in military exercises in recent years, and Egypt is part of this trend. The rise in joint exercises can be explained in light of the increasing intensity of terror threats faced by those countries.

Exercise "Defenders of Friendship-2016," was monitored by representatives of more than 30 countries, among them military observers from 25 countries, as well as ambassadors of CSTO.

Military cooperation and joint exercises are part of the Egyptian foreign policy and strategy, and Egypt has carried out 30 joint military exercises in 2016 with 20 Arab and African countries, as well as European countries including France and Russia.

The Synergies of Palestinian Statehood and Iranian Nuclear Weapons.


Mahmoud Abbas addresses the UN General Assembly (Photo: AP)





To maximize security benefits of their planned analyses and assessments, Israeli strategists must consider the presumptively separate threats of Palestinian statehood and Iranian nuclearization as two intersecting and interactive perils.

"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing." (Archilochus, Ancient Greek Poet, Fragments)

Always, Israeli strategists treat Palestinian statehood and Iranian nuclearization as altogether separate perils. This is a potentially grave mistake, however, as the two evident threats are actually intersecting or even "force multiplying" in their calculable security implications. A nuclear Iran, however unwitting, could enlarge the regional stability costs to Israel of any Palestinian state. Reciprocally, at least in the plausible future, a Palestinian state could expand certain risks to Israel of an opportunistic nuclear attack from Iran.

We can even be more precise here. The relationship between these two seemingly discrete threats is apt to be expressly synergistic. In essence, therefore, the "whole" of its injurious effect upon Israel could sometimes prove greater than the simple sum of its constituent parts.

Since 2012, the Palestinian Authority has been recognized by the UN as a "Non-member Observer State." Looking ahead, if the Palestinian Authority and Hamas should sometime be able to restore a functional level of cooperation and unity, a fully-sovereign Palestine could emerge. In notably short order, this twenty-third Arab state could rapidly become an optimal platform for expanded war and terrorism against Israel, and also against assorted area allies of the United States.

Always, it follows, Israel and the United States must remain keenly aware of pertinent "force multipliers." Among expected regional consequences, distinctly virulent synergies between Iranian nuclearization and Palestinian statehood could create an authentically existential threat to the Jewish State. Oddly, perhaps, these potentially lethal and multiplying interactive effects remain unhidden, yet are still largely unrecognized.

In their response, Jerusalem and Washington must more systematically consider vital issues of geostrategic context. In the chaotic Middle East, certain core adversarial patterns remain unchanged. Most conspicuously, Israel still endures undiminished international pressures to (1) renounce its "ambiguous" nuclear forces, and (2) join in periodically resuscitated plans for a "Nuclear Weapon Free-Zone."

If Iran and its allies should ever come to believe that Israel had been sufficiently weakened by coordinated "nonproliferation" demands, a previously worked-out strategy of annihilation against Israel could proceed. This lethal strategy could expectedly advance in stages, from terror to mega-terror, and then, in successively added increments, from mega-terror to war and mega-war.

For many reasons, nuclear weapons are still generally regarded across the world as destabilizing. Nonetheless, in the specific case of Israel, the recognizable possession of such weapons could sometimes become all that actually protects civilian populations from various catastrophic aggressions. Maintaining successful nuclear deterrence – whether still ambiguous or newly disclosed – will thus ultimately prove indispensable to Israel's physical survival.

In its authoritative Advisory Opinion of July 8, 1996, the International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled:  “The Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense…”  "Where the very survival of a State would be at stake…” continued the ICJ, even the actual use of nuclear weapons could at times be permissible.

Core distinctions must be made. Israel is not Iran. Israel makes no threats of aggressive war or genocide. For the moment, at least, it does not publicly acknowledge its plausibly advanced nuclear capabilities.

The geostrategic truth may sometimes be counterintuitive. Not all nuclear weapon states are created equal. Not all such states are automatically a menace. Some may even offer a genuine benefit to world peace.

On its face, Israel's small size precludes national tolerance of any nuclear attack. This point has even been made openly by a senior Iranian official, who stated ominously: "Israel is a one-bomb state."

From a regional security standpoint, Israel’s nuclear weapons are not the problem.  In the Middle East, the most persistent and resilient source of war and terror remains an Arab/Islamist commitment to "excise the Jewish cancer." Faced with this literally genocidal threat, Israel and its few allies will finally need to understand that the "Peace Process" is just another enemy expedient. To wit, on official Palestinian maps – all of which describe Israel as "Occupied Palestine" – the Jewish State has already been eliminated.

With these exterminatory maps, a cartographic genocide has already been imposed.

What about Iran? With a more openly declared nuclear weapons posture, Israel could more reliably deter a rational Iranian enemy’s unconventional attacks, and also most of its large conventional aggressions. With such a suitably updated posture, Israel, if necessary, could launch appropriately non-nuclear preemptive strikes against Iranian hard targets, and against associated counterforce capabilities.

These assets could otherwise threaten Israel's physical survival with impunity. In the absence of acknowledging its possession of certain survivable and "penetration-capable" nuclear weapons, therefore, Israeli acts of anticipatory self-defense would most likely represent the onset of much wider war. The reason is simple: There would then remain no aptly convincing threat of an Israeli counter-retaliation.

The decision to bring its “bomb" out of the "basement" would not be an easy one for Israel. Nonetheless, the realities of facing not only a nuclear-capable Iran but also other potential nuclear aspirants in the region – in compelling synergies with anti-Israel terrorists – obligate a serious reconsideration of "deliberate ambiguity." As a corollary, Jerusalem would need to clarify that its multiple-level active defenses will always operate in tandem with its decisive nuclear retaliations.

What about "Palestine," the other half of a prospectively corrosive synergy? Soon, it may become apparent that ISIS and certain other related Jihadist fighters plan to move against certain state and sub-state enemies. Already, in fact, ISIS is challenging Hamas control of Gaza and is likely preparing to march westward, across the increasingly vulnerable country of Jordan.

In time, ISIS forces, even after suffering various operational defeats in both Iraq and Syria, could find themselves "at the gates" of the West Bank (Judea/Samaria), territories still widely expected to become Palestine. If, when ISIS actually arrives, a Palestinian state has not yet been created, these forces would effectively occupy the strategic territories for themselves. If a Palestinian state had already been formalized, they could then make quick work of the new sovereignty's fragile army, and subsequently, install themselves as the de facto government of "Palestine."

For Israel, going forward, all of this suggests that meaningful security assessments of both Palestinian statehood and Iranian nuclearization be undertaken with aptly due regard to their predictably complex intersections and consequent synergies.

For Israel, after all, the cumulative impact of these principal threats would almost certainly be tangibly much greater than the mere sum of its identifiable parts.

***

Font: Louis René Beres is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue. He lectures and publishes widely on matters of Israeli security and nuclear strategy.

Persistent Area Surveillance for the City Streets.


Stabilized remote-controlled weapon station 6S21 in Russia (Photo: Bigstock)

Terrorist attacks staged in the municipal domain raise the question of how Israel should cope with civilians evolving into "momentary terrorists" and managing to reach the city streets. Technological solutions for neutralizing those terrorists include Stationary Remotely-Controlled Weapon Station systems.

Terrorist attacks in the municipal domain raise the question of how the state should deal with terrorists who managed to cross all of the countermeasure loops and reach the city streets.

To this day, the doctrine for protecting the civilian domain was based on a binary concept of the living space – a space external to the state, being handled by the military, and the domestic (internal – municipal) space – being handled by the Police and ISA (security service). Subject to this doctrine, ISA has been implementing the countermeasure loop concept, devised to prevent a terrorist from reaching the internal space from the external space. The countermeasure loop concept may be likened to a waterfall, where the terrorist 'drops' from one loop to the next until, eventually, he is apprehended or neutralized.

The countermeasure loop concept is in use to this day, mainly because there is no other alternative. This article asserts that alongside the classic countermeasure mechanism, the state should also implement persistent area surveillance systems and prompt response systems based on the Stationary Remotely-Controlled Weapon Station (SRCWS) configuration within the internal space as well.

The terrorist attacks staged recently in Israel, France, Belgium and elsewhere around the globe have proven that the way in which terrorism is being implemented changed. This change is based on an effort to blur the differences between innocent civilians and terrorists and a transition to low-signature terrorist attacks.

If we were to examine the situation in Israel as an example, we would have realized that the theater consists of an internal space and an external space which contain two population groups that share similar external characteristics, along with the same language and culture. There is a constant transition of individuals from the external space into the internal space for employment, commercial and cultural purposes. Additionally, a certain percentage of family relations exists between the two population groups. The similarity and the connections between the two population groups impose severe difficulties on the counterterrorism efforts.

The counterterrorism concept evolved in an era where terrorist attacks were major operations primarily: large-scale attacks staged at crowded venues, hijacking of passenger aircraft, car bomb attacks, explosive charges detonated on board buses and so forth. The logistic wake of such terrorist attacks normally starts in the external space and only its point extends into the internal space at the final stage of implementation.

Such major attacks leave a substantial logistic 'signature'. In such scenarios, multiple countermeasure loops deployed within the external space have a good chance of catching, quite effectively, attempted attacks before they reach the internal space. If the attack succeeded nevertheless, such a countermeasure layout can generate a sufficient amount of intelligence to point to the perpetrators in retrospect in order to deter any future terrorists.

But what happens when one morning, a civilian decides to become a terrorist, goes to the kitchen, picks up a knife, goes out to the street and stabs a soldier at the nearest bus stop? Or when a sleeper cell made up of apparently innocent civilians receives an order to activate an explosive charge secreted well in advance at a venue where a crowded public festival is under way? Such situations are the 'Achilles' Heel' of the existing counterterrorism concept. As long as they are rare – the situation will remain tolerable, but when they become the mainstream, the counterterrorism concept will not be sufficiently effective.

One of the measures taken by the State of Israel in the context of the counterterrorism concept is an effort intended to make it difficult for terrorists to exit the areas where they live. This is accomplished by border crossing points where age restrictions and thorough background checks may be implemented. Along with the border crossing points, Israel intensified the peripheral defense of the national territory in the air, at sea, on the ground and in the subterranean medium. Paradoxically, imposing more stringent restrictions on the passage from the external space into the internal space led the terrorist organizations to shift the critical mass of their activity into the internal space. Now they employ legitimate civilians more frequently, purchase their materials in the internal space and so forth. This has created a situation where the logistic wake of the attack starts and ends within the internal space, thereby actually 'bypassing' the countermeasure loops and making it much more difficult to prevent terrorist attacks.

Persistent Area Surveillance

Subject to the counterterrorism concept, if a terrorist manages to pass into the internal space nevertheless, he is regarded as a 'Ticking Bomb' – an immediate threat. This is a unique and time-restricted legal mechanism that enables the security forces to employ technological resources, investigative measures and other methods in order to locate and neutralize the terrorist. In other words, the security forces ask the Legislative Branch for an option to revoke individual rights temporarily in order to safeguard our cooperative safety.

As stated previously, this would have worked well if such incidents had been rare. When such terrorist attacks become the mainstream, however, like the recent terrorist attacks staged throughout Israel using knives, small arms or vehicle ramming, the security forces find themselves helpless, and for a good reason. The countermeasure method has become ineffective and no alternatives are available.

The situation described above may be likened to the trend emerging in recent years on the battlefield (the external space): the transition from fixed, visible targets to mobile, rapidly disappearing targets. On the battlefield, the military faces a problem when a terrorist target is only visible for a period of 10 to 30 seconds, after which it simply disappears. In the case of counterterrorism, a similar transition is taking place from the past concept, based on high-signature targets, to low-signature targets.

The military decided to solve this problem by implementing the Stationary Remotely-Controlled Weapon Station (SRCWS) concept, which facilitates the operational concept known in the military jargon as "fire loop closure".

Fire loop closure is a technology-based counterterrorism concept which, in essence, strives to minimize the response interval that starts when a target is identified and ends when it is neutralized.

Whereas the problem stems from the fact that the enemy is only visible for very brief time intervals, in order to successfully implement an effective loop closure concept a persistent area surveillance envelope will be required. An envelope of this type will enable the user to identify the enemy, classify the target and track it continuously. The objective is to keep a given area cell under persistent surveillance while knowing who within that area cell is a friend and who is an enemy as well as the potential risk of each enemy target (hence the classification). In this way, the user may always know, in real time, where all the enemy targets that should be neutralized are located. This information is transferred to SRCWS systems that close the loop on the relevant enemy targets. Once again, the loop closure concept does not make the existing countermeasure concept redundant, but complements it in real time, when the preceding countermeasures have failed.

As in the external space, in the internal space, too, the terrorists evade the countermeasure loops under the cover of everyday civilian routine. This is the reason why the authorities should consider introducing a similar concept based on SRCWS systems and persistent area surveillance to the internal space. Just to clarify: when the countermeasure concept fails, this will normally end with civilians being murdered. Accordingly, the internal security authorities must adopt the same methods applied by the military in order to effectively identify the terrorist, classify him and respond promptly.

Friend or Foe?

In order to identify targets within the internal space, where the differences between civilians and terrorists are completely blurred, the state needs to initiate a preliminary process of defining who's a civilian (which will then indicate who's not), powerful identification resources capable of identifying a specific civilian at any time-location point within the internal space (real time 'Identification Friend-or-Foe') and spatial command and control systems that would enable continuous tracking of the individual within that space. Alongside this envelope, the state needs Stationary Remotely-Controlled Weapon Station (SRCWS) systems that would make it possible to neutralize a terrorist pursuant to his first act of terrorism, be it a gunfire attack, a stabbing attack or a vehicle ramming attack, in order to prevent the killing of additional civilians.

At this point in time, some of these technologies are already up and running in some cities in Israel and around the world. CCTV camera systems with facial recognition algorithms connected to a biometric database of facial features and various types of Smart City systems are already in use. Robots are already executing policing missions on the streets of China and in the USA robots are used for shopping mall and parking lot security – and these are only a few examples.

However, when such technologies are implemented without a structured operational concept backed by relevant legislation, they cannot provide an effective solution to the problem of the failed countermeasure concept. For example, no legislation currently exists that would enable the state, through its security forces, to actively identify each and every civilian within the internal space. Additionally, No legislation currently exists that would enable the state to continuously track civilians using technological measures.

In addition to identification and tracking capabilities, a prompt response capability is required in order to 'close the loop'. The objective is to establish a situation where a terrorist who had stabbed civilians or fired at them will be neutralized immediately following his/her first act of terrorism. For this purpose, we should consider the introduction of prompt response systems capable of engaging the terrorist targets using either lethal or non-lethal measures. The objective of these systems is to neutralize the terrorist, to the maximum extent possible without killing him/her, until law enforcement personnel arrive on the scene. These systems may be fully autonomous, remotely-operated or a combination of both.

It is often said that the cyber defense world knows no boundaries, so organizations and states must cooperate in order to successfully cope with attacks in cyberspace. Well, the recent terrorist attacks in Israel, Europe, the USA, Asia and Africa have shown that the war against terrorism knows no boundaries either. The binary external/internal space concept has failed, and in fact, both spaces have evolved into one. This reality calls for rethinking at the macro level regarding the functions of the ISA, Mossad, IDF and Israel Police and the way the responsibilities should be divided among those organizations. We should consider unifying the various persistent area surveillance systems and establishing a single common system for both spaces – the external space and the internal space. Subject to this notion, fusion of data arriving from both spaces will enable real-time 'cross-fertilization' of the internal security forces, the intelligence agencies and the military.

The implementation of the concept described herein will improve the efficiency of various other activities, even in fields not associated with terrorism, like monitoring illegal aliens, organized crime networks, criminal activities in general and even foreign spies. Persistent area surveillance can do wonders to the day-to-day operations of internal and external security.

A Sample Scenario

Friday at noon. A street surveillance camera spots an unidentified person walking along Rothschild Boulevard in Tel-Aviv. A prompt check of the biometric databases indicates that he is not a registered Israeli citizen. A cross reference check with the IDF databases indicates that he is an inhabitant of Jenin, a known Hamas activist belonging to a cell being monitored by the IDF Intelligence Directorate and regarding which there are concerns of an imminent attack inside Israeli territory. Meanwhile, the persistent area surveillance system tracks the target along Ahad-Ha'Am Street. One possible destination can be the Carmel open-air market.

At the same time, a cross check with new information in the Police database indicates that this person has been loitering in the market area over the past three days. A closer inspection of the video footage from the archives indicates that during those three days, he had photographed all of the entrances and exits to and from the market from different angles, during different times. The same inspection indicates that during those days he had arrived in the area in the same taxi, from Haifa. The license plate number of the taxi is promptly associated with an Israeli citizen, an inhabitant of Haifa, a legitimate taxi driver with no criminal or internal security record. Algorithms being run in the background indicate a fourth-degree family relation between the taxi driver and the suspected Hamas activist. The logistic connection has been established.

The terrorist turns into Jabetz Street on his way to the market. A hyperspectral surveillance camera mounted on a high-flying UAV indicates that he is wearing an explosive vest. A damage assessment predicts an explosion with a 30-meter radius, expected to cause twenty deaths minimum, based on the real-time crowd capacity in the market.

Everyone at the municipal operations center is acutely aware of the fact that all of the countermeasure loops have failed. The system has already issued automatic alerts to police forces in the area, based on their current locations and the force necessary in order to neutralize the terrorist. Additionally, alerts were sent to Red Magen David (paramedic) ambulances whose drivers were ordered to approach the market quietly. Alerts were also sent to the emergency departments of three local medical centers, ordering them to raise their state of readiness in anticipation of a possible emergency. The Haifa police was alerted to promptly arrest the taxi driver. At the same time, the system shuts off the traffic routes leading to the market area by issuing commands to the traffic light system and entering new data into the cellular navigation systems used by civilians through their smartphones. The terrorist is now twenty meters away from the market.

The decision made at the operations center is to neutralize the terrorist quietly, without generating alarms, to avoid a state of panic in the market that would be counterproductive. This objective should be accomplished through the use of a high-precision non-lethal firing system secreted into one of the utility poles at the entrance to the market. The operator of the weapon system at the municipal operations center monitors and tracks the terrorist through the HD surveillance cameras mounted on the UAV and other cameras mounted on utility poles and rooftops in the market area. She sets the system to lock-on mode. The system locks onto the back of the terrorist's neck and fires three miniature darts containing a fast-acting anesthetic at the terrorist.

One of the darts hits the terrorist while two others miss him and hit the floor. The terrorist drops to the ground. Passers-by watching the incident at the entrance to the market have the impression that a person has just experienced a heart attack. A policeman on a motorbike alerted to the area keeps the crowd away from the terrorist. Other policemen close the entrances to the market and proceed to evacuate the civilians in an orderly manner. The persistent area surveillance system indicates there are no consecutive threats in the area. A police explosives specialist reaches the unconscious terrorist and removes the explosive vest. The incident is over.

Response System Complex

The objective of this article is to encourage a current discourse regarding the war against terrorism that is not restricted by legislature elements pertaining to civilian privacy and individual rights. This writer has no intention to disregard or disparage these elements in any way, but wishes to confine the discussion to the techno-operational level.

The concepts outlined in this article are being implemented – in preliminary form – in Israel and elsewhere around the world. A review of the "City without Violence" tender issued by the Israel Ministry of Public Security will reveal a paragraph titled "Response System Complex". The contents refer to "A response system designed to intervene in a violent incident as it develops, during or after the actual incident. Response systems may consist of human operator teams, technological systems or a combination of both, capable of preventive intervention at the initial stages of the incident or during the actual incident."

There is no doubt that terrorism is unrelenting and that it has eliminated the differentiation between the external space and the internal space. It also learns how to bypass the existing countermeasure mechanisms by relying on individual rights legislation, employing legitimate civilians and exploiting the resources available within the internal space of the state in order to minimize the logistic wake or eliminate it altogether, thereby reducing the signature of the terrorist activity.

This reality has demonstrated, possibly more than ever before, the tension between the individual's desire for privacy and his/her need for physical security. On the one hand, it has become more difficult to provide civilians with physical security. On the other hand, in order to provide more effective security, civilians must relinquish their privacy. From a purely technological perspective, persistent area surveillance systems and prompt response systems may be introduced to the internal space. The more difficult battle is expected with regard to the legal and moral aspects that would eventually reshape the effect of technology on the civilians' everyday life."

font:Ami Rojkes Dombe 








Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump election puts Iran nuclear deal on shaky ground



Iranian President Hassan Rouhani takes part in a news conference near the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 22, 2016.




By Yeganeh Torbati | WASHINGTON

Donald Trump's election as president raises the prospect the United States will pull out of the nuclear pact it signed last year with Iran, alienating Washington from its allies and potentially freeing Iran to act on its ambitions.

Outgoing President Barack Obama's administration touted the deal, a legacy foreign policy achievement, as a way to suspend Tehran's suspected drive to develop atomic weapons. In return Obama, a Democrat, agreed to a lifting of most sanctions.

The deal, harshly opposed by Republicans in Congress, was reached as a political commitment rather than a treaty ratified by lawmakers, making it vulnerable to a new U.S. president, such as Trump, who might disagree with its terms.

A Republican, Trump ran for the White House opposing the deal but contradictory statements made it unclear how he would act. In an upset over Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump won on Tuesday and will succeed Obama on Jan. 20.

A businessman-turned-politician who has never held public office, Trump called the nuclear pact a "disaster" and "the worst deal ever negotiated" during his campaign and said it could lead to a "nuclear holocaust."

In a speech to the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC in March, Trump declared that his “Number-One priority” would be to “dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran.”

He said he would have negotiated a better deal, with longer restrictions, but somewhat paradoxically, he criticized remaining U.S. sanctions that prevent American companies from dealing with Iran.

By contrast, he has conceded it would be hard to destroy a deal enshrined in a United Nations resolution. In August 2015, he said he would not “rip up” the nuclear deal, but that he would “police that contract so tough they don’t have a chance.”

Iran denies ever having considered developing atomic weapons. But experts said any U.S. violation of the deal would allow Iran also to pull back from its commitments to curb nuclear development.

Those commitments include reducing the number of its centrifuges by two-thirds, capping its level of uranium enrichment well below the level needed for bomb-grade material, reducing its enriched uranium stockpile from around 10,000 kg to 300 kg for 15 years, and submitting to international inspections to verify its compliance.

'DIVISIVE DEAL'

“Say goodbye to the Iran deal,” said Richard Nephew, a former U.S. negotiator with Iran now at Columbia University.

“There is very little likelihood that it stays, either because of a deliberate decision to tear it up by Trump, or steps that the U.S. takes which prompt an Iranian walk back.”

The spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Behrouz Kamalvandi, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency: "Iran is prepared for any change," adding that Iran would try to stand by the deal.

The nuclear deal was divisive in Iran, with hardliners opposed to better relations with the West arguing that pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani was giving up too much of the country’s nuclear infrastructure for too little relief.

Rouhani said on Wednesday the U.S. election results would have no effect on Tehran's policies, state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying. [nL8N1DA46H]

Some of Washington’s closest Middle East allies have been skeptical of the nuclear deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been outright hostile. Gulf leaders say the deal has emboldened Iran's pursuit of regional hegemony in part through support for proxy groups fueling regional conflicts.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, whose power supersedes that of Rouhani, regularly criticizes the United States and says it should not be trusted, but ultimately assented to the terms of the deal, known by its acronym JCPOA.

KHAMENEI BIG WINNER

“The big winner in the aftermath of a Trump victory is Iran’s Supreme Leader,” said Suzanne Maloney, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution.

“He will have the most cartoonish American enemy, he will exult in the (hopefully brief) crash of the American economy, and he will be able to walk away from Iran’s obligations under the JCPOA while pinning the responsibility on Washington.”

Further complicating any Trump effort to renegotiate the deal is that it is a multilateral agreement involving U.S. allies in Europe as well as fellow world powers Russia and China. European and Asian firms have been returning to Iran and making major investments there, meaning the United States would likely be alone in pulling out of the deal, possibly isolating it from its partners.

On Wednesday, the head of gas, renewables and power for French oil and gas company Total TOTF.PA in Iran said Trump's election would have no impact on investments [nP6N1CW004].

Khamenei has already promised to “set fire” to the nuclear deal if the West violates it. Iran has repeatedly complained it has not received benefits promised. Though European companies have been eager to explore business prospects in Iran, few deals have been enacted in part because European banks have been reluctant to finance deals involving Iran.

“As to whether he can negotiate a ‘better’ deal, it takes two (or seven) sides to agree to begin that process, something I rate as highly unlikely,” said Zachary Goldman, executive director of the Center on Law and Security at New York University and a former U.S. Treasury official.

“And if we walk away from the deal I think we will be in the worst of all worlds - Iran will feel freed from its commitments and we may be blamed for the deal falling apart.”




Monday, November 7, 2016

The Threat of Connected Devices to the Internet






INSS Insight No.867, November 7, 2016
Gabi Siboni , Tal Koren



At least three consecutive waves of complex online attacks were directed at Domain Name System (DNS) servers operated by Dyn, a US internet infrastructure provider. The attack on October 21, 2016 consisted of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, exploited vast numbers of connected devices, and blocked access to thousands of websites, including Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, Airbnb, the New York Times, PayPal, and more. Yet the weakness shown in this attack is not the burden of the private sector alone. The use of armies of connected devices is a challenge for states, because it has the capability to harm the routine performance of governments and, worse still, disrupt performance during emergencies and in wartime. The risk is real, and defending connected devices is an enormous challenge. Although the problem is global, Israeli entities charged with cyber security must fully understand the risk of exposure to such attacks and take action by partnering with international efforts on the issue, and at the same time take steps to enhance relevant defensive mechanisms and their continued performance.


At least three consecutive waves of complex online attacks were directed at Domain Name System (DNS) servers operated by Dyn, a US internet infrastructure provider. The attack on October 21, 2016 consisted of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, and blocked access to thousands of websites, including Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, Airbnb, the New York Times, PayPal, and more. Immediately, suspicions centered on Russia and China as having both the motivation and the ability to plan and execute such an attack. Yet as of this writing, it is not at all clear if the attack was state-motivated. After the attack, it was reported that the Chinese and Russian hacker group known as New World Hackers assumed responsibility and claimed it was a sophisticated attack using botnets at higher-speed traffic than ever know before – 1.2 terabytes per second (Tbps).

The attack exploited vast numbers of connected devices (in an announcement to the media, Dyn stated that some 100,000 devices were involved). These devices, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT), include webcams, alarm systems, baby monitors, internet-based security cameras, DVRs, printers, and routers – all connected to the internet. The attackers managed to plant a software component in these devices that could receive commands from a control server so that the masses of devices all sought out the target in a synchronized manner and paralyzed the attacked servers’ ability to function by flooding it with traffic. The vast majority of these devices lack any kind of significant defenses; access to most of the systems is ensured through default usernames and passwords installed by the manufacturer. In fact, there is no current effective concept to respond to this type of threat.

The threat inherent in the swarm of connected devices is not new. As early as 2013, Symantec reported the existence of a worm called Linux.Darlloz that according to estimates, infected some 50,000 IoT connected devices, such as routers and Set Top Box devices or computers based on Intel’s X86 architecture. The goal was to install software allowing attackers to mine crypto currencies. In 2015, Symantec issued a detailed report about simplifications that make it possible to break into 50 different kinds of smart home devices. In its April 2016 report, the company stated that medical devices (such as insulin pumps, X-ray systems, and CT scanners) are also exposed to attack, as well as smart TV systems and dozens of other devices of all types.

Even though the ability to penetrate these devices and carry out extensive DDoS attacks through them was not surprising, the intensity of the attacks demonstrated the destructive capability of using a large number of synchronized simple devices. The attack broke the record for the largest DDoS attack ever, which occurred in September 2016, targeting the French company OVH, at a scope of 1 Tbps; it used bots (software agents) that exploited the widespread CCTV cameras. In many respects, this is a dangerous escalation and sets a new threshold for a cyber threat that on a few levels so far has no satisfactory response.

The first aspect is connected to the proliferation of these devices. In the US, there are about 25 connected devices per every 100 people, and this is just the beginning of the trend. Gartner Inc. estimates that in 2016 the world will have 6.4 billion connected devices, and that by 2020 that number will approach 21 billion. Such a vast number of devices creates a significant weakness for the web and allows attackers of various sorts to use them for any number of goals. The new twist in the most recent attack was the simplicity with which it was carried out. Millions of devices can serve as the potential means for DDoS cyberattacks whose execution is relatively simple, because the devices create new entrance points to the internet, making the scope of the threat enormous. The threat grows even greater because end devices, such as smartphones and computers, are used to control the connected devices.

The second aspect concerns the weakness of the defense. Most IoT devices lack appropriate means of security, making it easy for attacks to exploit the weaknesses of the systems operating the devices. The majority of manufacturers have yet to adopt a framework of standards and security; they generally use publicly available open code to make it possible for their devices to communicate with other similar devices in the area, and this itself generates severe security soft spots. Important corrective steps have been initiated in the United States, as security companies, manufacturer associations, and even government agencies have begun to cooperate, but these steps are far from constituting a sufficient defensive response.

The third aspect regards the scope and depth of the damage. The attack on Dyn was a clear warning sign: while the offensive capabilities displayed in the attacks did not require anything particularly sophisticated, the impact was significant. The fact that the malicious code was made public prepared the ground for other attacks that will make use of this or similar code, and raises the specter that the writers of the code already possess an improved version. Thus the use of similar methods of attack will presumably be seen again, perhaps even in more powerful versions.

Finally, there is privacy. One of the key problems with connected devices is securing user privacy. Connected devices are constantly collecting information about their users’ parameters, at home and in the office, including the nature of use of equipment and electrical appliances as well as wearable devices, whose use is becoming more widespread. The inherent defensive weaknesses of these devices means that all that information could be available to various attackers intent on subversion.

The weakness shown in the last attack is not the burden of the private sector alone. The use of armies of connected devices is a challenge for the state, because it has the capability to harm the routine performance of governments and, worse still, disrupt performance during emergencies and in wartime. Because the risk is real, defending connected devices is an enormous challenge. In response to the attack on Dyn, the United States government was called on to enact regulation on the security of IoT products. Indeed, this seems precisely where efforts should be focused, with measures similar to the steps taken in the financial sector. Although the problem is global, Israeli entities charged with cyber security must fully understand the risk of exposure to such attacks and take action by partnering with international efforts on the issue, while at the same time taking steps to enhance the relevant defensive mechanisms and their continued performance in order to cope with this type of attack.