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Terrorism

Check out these YouTube videos uploaded by ISAF showing U.S. Army soldiers, Marines, and unidentified troops in Desert Combat Uniforms armed with Kalashnikovs (Salamander says they’re Macedonian) fighting off Taliban insurgents during Tuesday’s attack on the U.S. embassy compound in Kabul.

While the insurgents failed to do serious harm to the embassy and its staff (though there were numerous Afghan casualties) they did seem to gain a PR victory due to the amount of media attention the incident received.

ISAF went on a PR offensive of its own, though, including a great twitter fight between ISAF and the Taliban during the kinetic assault. These videos are another part of that offensive. Just like insurgents love to broadcast their battlefield exploits, NATO is now showing off it’s fighting prowess in a timely manner. Enjoy.

Two more videos below the jump.

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By Kevin Coleman — Defense Tech Cyberwarfare Correspondent

In the shadow of the 10th anniversary of the 9–11 terrorist attacks, the United States finds itself facing a different threat from terrorists. Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano recently stated that, “The U.S. has become ‘categorically safer’ since 9/11, but cyber-terrorism now tops the list of security concerns.”

One of the most accepted definitions of cyber terrorism comes from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). According to the FBI, cyber terrorism is the “premeditated, politically motivated attack against information, computer systems, computer programs and data which results in violence against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents.” That definition is intentionally broad to leave room for the seemingly continuous change in the cyber attack strategies and tactics used in general that are often adopted by terrorists.

Cyber terrorist seem to have an endless number of targets to attacks. Given that the United States is the most computerized country in the world, you would have thought that we would have or should have learned valuable lessons from the cyber attacks on Estonia and Georgia as well as the Stuxnet incident in Iran, but it appears we haven’t! Could a Stuxnet type attack be launched against the critical infrastructure systems of the United States and be successful? The answer is yes and many believe that is highly likely!

Government is moving quickly as compared to the sluggish pace we have come to expect. However, this pace is nowhere near the speed this threat is evolving. Many security professionals find it difficult to sit and watch as their continuous warnings go all but unheard. Equally concerning is that federal legislators seem to be more concerned about how they can get a piece of the monies being allocated to this threat and jobs for the area they represent rather that the national security threat of a cyber terrorist attack on our critical systems!

In remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9–11 as well as those who continue to suffer from the affects of the events that day.

Well, it was a V-22 Osprey that had the job of ferrying Osama bin Laden’s body from Afghanistan to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the Arabian sea where he was dumped overboard, according to an article in The New Yorker that stitches together a ton of details about the tech used in the raid to kill Osama bin Laden.

At dawn, bin Laden was loaded into the belly of a flip-wing V-22 Osprey, accompanied by a JSOC liaison officer and a security detail of military police. The Osprey flew south, destined for the deck of the U.S.S. Carl Vinson—a thousand-foot-long nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sailing in the Arabian Sea, off the Pakistani coast. The Americans, yet again, were about to traverse Pakistani airspace without permission. Some officials worried that the Pakistanis, stung by the humiliation of the unilateral raid in Abbottabad, might restrict the Osprey’s access. The airplane ultimately landed on the Vinson without incident.

Notice how author, Nicholas Schmidle mistakenly calls the Osprey a “flip-wing” aircraft instead of tilt-rotor. I’ll forgive him given the remarkable amount of detail in this piece. heck he even points out that the White House ordered food from Costco for staffers gathered in the situation room during the raid. (seriously, who woulda thought that Costco catered for the White House?)

Another interesting part of the article details the fact that four MH-47 Chinooks were dispatched to support the initial assault team who rode in two stealthy Black Hawk helicopters. Apparently, two of the Chinooks contained a backup contingent of SEALs in case things went wrong at the raid site while the other two flew into Pakistan and landed in a riverbed were they served as a forward refueling point for the one remaining Black Hawk that left the compound.

Forty-five minutes after the Black Hawks departed, four MH-47 Chinooks launched from the same runway in Jalalabad. Two of them flew to the border, staying on the Afghan side; the other two proceeded into Pakistan. Deploying four Chinooks was a last-minute decision made after President Barack Obama said he wanted to feel assured that the Americans could “fight their way out of Pakistan.” Twenty-five additional SEALs from DEVGRU, pulled from a squadron stationed in Afghanistan, sat in the Chinooks that remained at the border; this “quick-reaction force” would be called into action only if the mission went seriously wrong. The third and fourth Chinooks were each outfitted with a pair of M134 Miniguns. They followed the Black Hawks’ initial flight path but landed at a predetermined point on a dry riverbed in a wide, unpopulated valley in northwest Pakistan. The nearest house was half a mile away. On the ground, the copters’ rotors were kept whirring while operatives monitored the surrounding hills for encroaching Pakistani helicopters or fighter jets. One of the Chinooks was carrying fuel bladders, in case the other aircraft needed to refill their tanks.

And no write up about the raid would be complete without mentioning the role played by the stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel drone:

Brigadier General Marshall Webb, an assistant commander of JSOC, took a seat at the end of a lacquered table in a small adjoining office and turned on his laptop. He opened multiple chat windows that kept him, and the White House, connected with the other command teams. The office where Webb sat had the only video feed in the White House showing real-time footage of the target, which was being shot by an unarmed RQ 170 drone flying more than fifteen thousand feet above Abbottabad. The JSOC planners, determined to keep the operation as secret as possible, had decided against using additional fighters or bombers. “It just wasn’t worth it,” the special-operations officer told me. The SEALs were on their own.

The piece goes on to provide a great account of how one of the stealth helicopters famously crashed at the scene. It also mentions the specific weapons carried by the SEALs on the raid including a silenced Sig Sauer P226 pistol, M4 carbines and Heckler and Koch MP7 submachine guns.

Check out the whole article here.

And from the department of really, again? The government is worried about terrorists walking aboard jetliners with surgically implanted bombs. So, what’s the TSA’s reaction going to be?

From the AP:

The U.S. government has warned domestic and international airlines that some terrorists are considering surgically implanting explosives into humans to carry out attacks, The Associated Press has learned.

There is no intelligence pointing to a specific plot, but the U.S. shared its concerns last week with executives at domestic and international carriers.

People traveling to the U.S. from overseas may experience additional screening at airports because of the threat, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

“These measures are designed to be unpredictable, so passengers should not expect to see the same activity at every international airport,” TSA spokesman Nick Kimball said. “Measures may include interaction with passengers, in addition to the use of other screening methods such as pat-downs and the use of enhanced tools and technologies.”

Placing explosives and explosive components inside humans to hide bombs and evade security measures is not a new idea. But there is new intelligence pointing to a fresh interest in using this tactic, a U.S. security official told the AP.

 

In case you didn’t see it, the U.S. has unleashed the drones on yet another country, Somalia. Two leaders of the al Shabab terrorist group were wounded in a drone strike there last week, according to the Washington Post. They plane, or planes, involved apparently belonged to U.S. Special Operations Command.

As the Post notes, this is the sixth country where U.S. drones are dropping ordnance. The other countries, that we know about, are; Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen. The aircraft hitting targets in Somalia may be operating out of the ever-growing U.S.-French base in nearby Djibouti known as Camp Lemonnier but we’ll likely never know for sure.

Still, we’ve been rustling around in Somalia on and off for decades now. Things heated up a couple of years ago when Air Force Special Operations Command AC-130 gunships pounded terrorists from above with their cannons and the U.S. and a ton of other countries have been conducting all sorts of anti-piracy ops in the waters off Somalia and in some cases venturing ashore to nab pirate or terrorist targets. And keep in mind that drones have definitley been used in those offshore ops.

Apparently, the Pentagon brought the drones into Somalia itself because of “growing concern within the U.S. government that some leaders of the Islamist group [al-Shabab] are collaborating more closely with al-Qaeda to strike targets beyond Somalia, the military official said.”

As we all know, UAVs can loiter for a long time looking for and tracking targets, are almost invincible to Somalia’s non-existant air defenses (although, Stinger-style MANPADS are all over Africa), and if they do go down it’s no huge loss.

More details of the attack per the Post:

In last week’s attack, local officials told the Associated Press that military aircraft struck a convoy carrying the militants as they drove along the coastline of the southern port city of Kismaayo late Thursday. Other local residents told journalists that an air attack had taken place on a militant camp near Kismaayo, an insurgent stronghold. Several residents were quoted as saying that more than one explosion had occurred over a period of several hours and that they thought that at least helicopters had taken part in the attack.

An al-Shabab leader confirmed the airstrike and said two militants were wounded. Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig, Somalia’s deputy defense minister, said the attack was a coordinated operation that killed “many” foreign fighters.