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Islamophobia Works in the Islamic State’s Favor

Islamic State fighters in Iraq. Photo:Medyan Dairieh / VICE News

Four days after the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, my team and I asked the audience of my BBC Asian Network phone-in show a question, as we do every day. This time, it was: “Will the Paris attacks make life more difficult for British Muslims?”

It had been less than a week since the terrorists of Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State, had gone on their murderous rampage. So, to some, it may have seemed insensitive to be asking so soon how British Muslims were feeling when French hearts from all backgrounds were broken and a manhunt to catch the surviving perpetrators was still ongoing.

Our reasoning was that what IS wanted was for discord to fester—for Islamophobia in the West to become deeply embedded, with the subsequent hatred and mistrust leading to more eager recruits being seduced into their death cult. So it was important for us to gauge whether or not they were succeeding in their aim. We also wanted to discover what it felt like on the ground for the average law-abiding, tax-paying, house-tending, car-driving, life-living British Muslim—or indeed British Asian, being that the average Islamophobe isn’t going to ask a potential victim to fill in a questionnaire clarifying their religious viewpoint before attacking them.

The calls, emails, and texts largely portrayed a depressing picture. I remember a British Muslim caller talking about how his sister had told their mother to not go to the bank that morning because “white people may attack you.” And this was not an isolated case of fear.

It is against this backdrop that The Sun newspaper printed its recent front page headline, “1 in 5 Brit Muslims have sympathy for Jihadis”—a conclusion the journalist responsible made after seeing the results of a poll that never mentioned the word jihadis. The survey’s 1,003 respondents were asked if they had any sympathy for young British Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria. Did that include members of the British Kurdish community going to Syria to fight IS, or joining the Free Syrian Army who are battling Assad and IS?

On the Sunday night before the print copy of the paper hit the newsstands, some had already seen the front page online and tweeted about how irresponsible and inflammatory they felt it was. A British Muslim member of the public, who also happens to follows me on Twitter, tweeted “All 5 Muslims in our household despise extremists. Either me or @TheSun is lying. Only one of us lies habitually.”

READ: I Conducted the Sun’s ‘1 in 5 Muslims’ Poll and Was Shocked By How It Was Used

On Monday morning as people awoke to this headline, my debate show team knew that our listeners would want to discuss the impact it would have. We asked “Is today’s Sunheadline a wake up call to British Muslims or irresponsible journalism?” Many sided with the latter part of the question, as did others in the media. That same day there were articles in other newspapers questioning the methodology and the very basic journalistic shortcomings of the piece, and it was beginning to look like a blatant piece of hate-mongering to some of my listeners.

The Sun replied to the criticism by stating that they had “published the poll’s findings clearly and accurately, including the questions in full.” A non-Muslim emailer called Karamjeet wrote, “The reporting in The Sun certainly doesn’t surprise me, but the way it is reported is totally irresponsible and inflammatory.” Another listener texted, “The Sun is very conniving… they were asking very leading questions, the answers of which could be easily manipulated.” With more than a hint of frustration in her tone, another listener said, “Like those three monkeys, the media by and large chooses to stay blind, deaf, and dumb to those voices who speak out against extremists and terrorists. What do they want? That I renounce my faith? That I take up non-Islamic practices? Will that then assuage them?”

The fact that British Muslim callers have described how their work colleagues no longer treat them with the courtesy they once experienced, or that they are fearful for the futures of their kids, should act as a wake-up call to politicians and journalists that ill-conceived headlines have repercussions for people who just wish to practice their faith and go about their business. We all have a responsibility to confront hatred and bigotry wherever it exists, and at the very least do nothing to unnecessarily exacerbate the situation.

You only have to see the ridicule and backlash that The Sun has faced this week to realize that we are a tolerant nation. But for some of my British Muslim listeners, the fear is that those headlines will be read by some as gospel, tainting the way some of their fellow Brits view them. Instead, we must all unite and show solidarity, for that will only infuriate IS and help to quell the number of Europeans making the journey to Syria to join the terrorists.

U.S. Marines, Gabonese Share Tactics

PONGARA, Gabon — U.S. Marines and Gabon’s Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux, or ANPN, worked together Sept. 14-25, at the Pongara National Forest to help the nation’s fight against wildlife trafficking.

At the request of the Gabonese government and through coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Libreville, the Marines and sailors with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa, trained with ANPN park rangers in infantry tactics to help build the nation’s capacity to counter trafficking of ivory and other animal-related products.

The training comes at a time when the elephant population has been dramatically decreasing across central Africa – faster than the elephants can reproduce, according to multiple news sources.

RELATED: U.S. Marines, Tanzanian Rangers Train to Fight Trafficking

An Aug. 20 BBC news article reported the forest elephant population is down to 15,000 from 22,000 in Gabon’s Minkebe National Park, which is approximately the size of Delaware, due to high demand for the elephants’ ivory tusks.

Gabon contains almost half of all the elephant population in central Africa estimated to be nearly 100,000. This “presents an enticing target for traffickers, especially as wildlife populations fall elsewhere” according to a June 28 National Geographic article.

In February 2014, President Barack Obama outlined initiatives in the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking that calls for combined efforts to reduce the demand for these products while simultaneously curbing the illegal trade industry.

The strategy calls for “combined efforts from nonprofits, corporations, individuals, and foreign government partners, to make that happen.”

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba is determined to rid the country of this problem and recently requested outside assistance to counter the activities that are destroying elephant populations in the central African region.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Nikzad, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF Gabon team leader, and his team of five Marines and sailors were in Pongara’s National Forest training 14 park ranger supervisors using the “train the trainer” model.

“Before the training started, the ANPN leadership took all of us out to areas where elephants and other wildlife roam and the tour goes to show their dedication to preserve the wildlife here,” said Nikzad. “Most of these guys have taken part in this type of training in past rotations. They are fighting criminals who have military-type skills and the tactical training we teach them, coupled with the train-the-trainer approach, will ultimately assist them in their fight.”

SPMAGTF-CR-AF Det. A is based out of Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, where they stage and prepare for theater security cooperation missions into various countries in Africa. This specific iteration is manned by Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, permanently based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Coast Guardsmen from various stations across the United States.

Arrests Show Arrival of Barrio 18 Gang in Italy

Barrio 18 members arrested in Italy

Italian police arrested 15 suspected Barrio 18 members in Milan and other nearby cities in northern Italy, reported AFP.

The group — which was mostly comprised of Salvadorans but also reportedly included two Italians — is accused of crimes including extortion, drug trafficking, armed robbery and the attempted murder of a rival from the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang.

An Italian judge ordered the arrests following an investigation that began in January 2014 after a female Salvadoran accused one of the group’s members of sexually assaulting her, according to AFP.

SEE ALSO: Barrio 18 News and Profile

Central American gangs like Barrio 18 and MS13, which are known as “maras,” have been operating in Italy for years, particularly in northern immigrant communities, the report added.

InSight Crime Analysis

Over the last two years, security forces in both Italy and Spain have noted the expansion of the MS13 in Europe, and these latest report confirms they are not alone — their great rivals in Barrio 18 have also crossed the ocean.

The key question surrounding this development is whether the spread is a result of Central American migrants bringing mara street gang culture with them and setting up autonomous networks, or whether these new European based factions are running criminal operations with maras in Central America, suggesting the gangs have made the leap into transnational organizations.

Both gangs are also well established in parts of the United States and the US government has already designated the MS13 a transnational criminal organization, ranking them alongside criminal groups such as the Mexican cartels. However, despite evidence of cross-border collaboration in criminal activities, the decentralized nature and highly localized and territorial focus of the maras has always cast doubts on this classification.

There have also been reports of the Spanish maras coordinating with their counterparts in the Americas, but even if this level of cooperation were to expand, it is unlikely they would have the capacity to coordinate serious transatlantic criminal operations. If they were to seek to establish control over transnational activities such as drug trafficking in Europe, they also would likely encounter formidable opposition; in Spain drug trafficking and associated activities such as contract killing is largely controlled by offshoots of Colombian cartels, while Italy is the domain of powerful and well-connected mafias such as the ‘Ndrangheta.

Mexican Internal Security Policy Failures

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto touted security accomplishments in his State of Union speech. Some of his claims need some serious scrutiny.

Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto’s state-of-the-union address

In his third State of the Union address the President acknowledged the last 12 months have been a “difficult year” for Mexico. He spoke of the 43 students disappeared in Iguala, Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman’s escape from prison and accusations of corruption at many levels of government, including the Executive Branch.

“These situations are all very different from each other, but they all hurt the spirit of the Mexican people and their trust in public institutions,” Peña Nieto said.

Defending his leadership through all this, the President presented a series of figures as proof of crime and security accomplishments. They included falling homicide andkidnapping rates and some of the lowest crime statistics in 17 years.

Additionally Peña Nieto highlighted the capture of 92 figures on Mexico‘s 122 most dangerous people list along with improved coordination and intelligence sharing to combat organized crime.

“We’re not just capturing them, we’re undermining their organizations and financial capacities,” he said.

Looking to the next three years of his term, the President put forth a 10-point plan centered around improving security and the rule of law while also jump starting the economy.

InSight Crime Analysis

According to Animal Politico, Peña Nieto’s claim of the second lowest crime rates in 17 years hinges on comparing two distinct categories of crime: “high impact crime” (mostly consisting of violent crime) vs total crime.

Aside from statistical shenanigans, official crime figures may not reflect the facts on the ground, as evidenced by a recent Mexico victimization survey, known as Envipe, which pointed to large differences in the amount of crimes occurring and the number reported to authorities.

If crimes do reach authorities there’s no guarantee they’ll be handled properly, according to a separate report by Animal Politico. Two out of three Mexican states reportedly had to revise their crime statistics this year. Some of the more egregious cases coincided with Mexico‘s major crime hotspots. For example, in May Sinaloa state announced it would add more than 10,000 preliminary investigations which had somehow not been registered over the last three years. Meanwhile in Atlantic-facing Veracruz state authorities admitted to failing to register nearly 300 homicides in 2013.

Further complicating the matter are Mexico‘s issues with forced disappearances. In February the Mexican government took issue with a United Nations report which statedforced disappearances (often involving security forces) are widespread and met with near total impunity. Many of these victims ended up in mass graves in which identifying the victim, and thus recording a crime, becomes difficult.

Looking at the President’s boast of capturing 92 of Mexico‘s 122 most dangerous people, it’s worth noting that a number of those arrested were reportedly caught during the previous administration.

The list itself has also been called into question after Mexico‘s Attorney General’s Officeremoved 10 names from it. Those removed included Sinaloa cartel underboss Juan Jose Esparragoza, alias “El Azul,” and Juarez cartel leader Juan Pablo Ledezma.

With Mexico‘s economy stagnating and Peña Nieto’s approval rating at an all time low, it’s to be expected the President would try and spin crime and security statistics in his favor. What is of real concern is his plans for the next half of his presidency.

The President’s recent appointment of Renato Sales as Mexico‘s new national security commissioner raises doubts. Outlining his agenda Sales put forth prison reform and increasing trust in Mexico’s Federal Police as top priorities. This leaves open questions on how Peña Nieto’s administration plans to make gains against Mexico‘s fragmenting and evolving organized crime groups which may not be as susceptible to Mexico‘s previous strategy of targeting criminal leaders.

Migrants Seeking ‘German Life’ Are Not Refugees, Says Hungary PM

Migrants Seeking ‘German Life’ Are Not Refugees, Says Hungary PM

September 7, 2015 | 3:30 am

The large numbers of people now seeking sanctuary in Europe should be seen as immigrants, not as refugees, because they are seeking a “German life” and refuse to stay in the first safe country they reach, Hungary’s prime minister said on Monday, as he also rejected planned migrant quotas.
Viktor Orban, a right-wing populist whose robust handling of the migrant crisis has drawn both condemnation and praise, said the European Union (EU) should consider providing financial support to countries such as Turkey which are near to the conflict zones so that migrants stay there and do not move on.
Syrians, Iraqis and others entering Greece, Macedonia, Serbia or Hungary are safe in those countries and, in line with EU rules, should have their asylum applications processed there, Orban told a gathering of Hungarian diplomats in Budapest.
“If they want to continue on from Hungary, it’s not because they are in danger, it’s because they want something else,” he said, adding that the migrants’ target was Germany and “a German life,” not physical safety.
The vast majority of migrants reaching Hungary aim to travel on to Germany and other wealthier western European countries. A Bavarian official said Germany expected about 2,500 refugees to arrive by early afternoon on Monday after some 20,000 came in over the weekend.
Left unchecked, this inflow will place an impossible financial burden on the EU, Orban said, endangering what he called Europe’s “Christian welfare states.” He has previously said the arrival of large numbers of mostly Muslim migrants posed a threat to Europe’s Christian culture and values.
“It’s absurd… when the Germans say they will spend billions on providing for the new arrivals instead of giving the money to the countries around the crisis zone, where the (migrants) should be stopped in the first place,” he said.
“It would be better for everyone. They wouldn’t come here. It would cost less. And our approach couldn’t be called into question morally either.”
Watch Libya’s Migrant Trade: Europe or Die (Trailer):

https://embeds.vice.com/?embedCode=10bjJkdzpuUZ1TE8Vm-R9KsbvMJ12WvE&playerId=YjMwNmI4YjU2MGM5ZWRjMzRmMjljMjc5&aid=news.vice.com&autoplay=0&hide_embed=0&ad_rule=1&share_url=https://news.vice.com/article/migrants-seeking-german-life-are-not-refugees-says-hungary-pm

Europe’s worst migration crisis since the Balkan wars of the 1990s has led many of the continent’s leaders to call for a quota system to distribute refugees among the EU’s 28 member states — an idea that Orban opposes.
While Hungary would remain part of the EU’s passport-free “Schengen zone,” Orban said discussion of a quota system was premature.
“As long as Europe cannot protect its external borders it makes no sense to discuss the fate of those flowing in,” he said, adding that he did not rule out a “fair” discussion of quotas at a later stage.
He defended a planned package of laws that would allow the army to be deployed to defend Hungary’s southern border, which he added was being threatened “perhaps not by war, but by being overwhelmed.”
Orban said he hoped the measures would succeed in “hermetically sealing” the border, with people crossing at official crossing points only. Legislation to use the army in helping to protect borders would not be possible before September 20, he added.
Oscar Velasco, of the Red Cross, captured this video near the Greek town of Idomeni, near the border with Hungary, on September 7.
The EU executive has drawn up a new set of national quotas under which Germany will take in more than 40,000 and France 30,000 of a total of 160,000 asylum-seekers it says should be relocated from Italy, Greece and Hungary, an EU source said on Monday.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is due to unveil new proposals on Wednesday. EU officials have said he will propose adding 120,000 people to be relocated on top of a group of 40,000 the Commission previously proposed relocating.
Leading the quotas among the 120,000, of which 54,000 would come from Hungary, Germany would, if EU leaders agree to the scheme, be asked to take in 31,443 and France 24,031. Earlier on Monday, French President Francois Hollande said France would take 24,000 of the additional 120,000 people seeking refuge.
Confirming figures published by Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, the source said the Commission also planned to put Turkey and all the non-EU states of the Western Balkans on a new list of “safe” countries, whose citizens would face accelerated reviews of asylum claims to speed deportation for most of them.
Meanwhile, Austria said on Sunday it planned to end emergency measures that have allowed thousands of refugees stranded in Hungary into Austria and Germany since Saturday and move step by step “towards normality”.
Austria had suspended its random border checks after photographs of a Syrian toddler lying dead on a Turkish beach showed Europeans the horror faced by those desperate enough to travel illegally into the heart of Europe, which is deeply divided over how to cope.
After 71 people suffocated in the back of a truck abandoned on an Austrian highway en route from Hungary, and as thousands headed from Budapest towards Austria on foot, Vienna had agreed with Germany to waive rules requiring refugees to register an asylum claim in the first EU country they reach.
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said that decision was being revised following “intensive talks” with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a telephone call with Hungarian Prime Minister Orban, bitterly opposed to the waiver.
“We have always said this is an emergency situation in which we must act quickly and humanely. We have helped more than 12,000 people in an acute situation,” Faymann said.
“Now we have to move step by step away from emergency measures towards normality, in conformity with the law and dignity.”
Follow VICE News on Twitter: @vicenews

U.S., Cuba restore ties after 50 years

Alan and Judy Gross walk through a parking garage after arriving for a news conference at a law firm in Washington December 17, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

(Reuters) – The United States and Cuba agreed on Wednesday to restore diplomatic ties that Washington severed more than 50 years ago, and President Barack Obama called for an end to the long economic embargo against its old Cold War enemy.

After 18 months of secret talks, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed in a phone call on Tuesday on a breakthrough prisoner exchange, the opening of embassies in each other’s countries, and an easing of some restrictions on commerce.

The two leaders made the announcement in simultaneous televised speeches. The Vatican and Canada facilitated the deal.

Obama’s call for an end to the economic embargo drew resistance from Republicans who will control both houses of Congress from January and who oppose normal relations with the communist-run island.

Obama said he was ending what he called a rigid and outdated policy of isolating Cuba that had failed to achieve change on the island.

His administration’s policy shift includes an opening to more commerce in some areas, allowing use of U.S. credit and debit cards, increasing the amount of money that can be sent to Cubans and allowing export of telecommunications devices and services.

RESTRICTIONS REMAIN

Travel restrictions that make it hard for most Americans to visit will be eased, but the door will not yet be open for broad U.S. tourism on the Caribbean island.

His announcement also will not end the U.S. trade embargo that has been in force for more than 50 years. That is codified in legislation and needs congressional approval. Obama said he would seek that approval but will likely face a struggle.

Obama said the opening was made possible by Havana’s release of American Alan Gross, 65, who had been imprisoned in Cubafor five years. Gross’ case had been a major obstacle to improving relations.

Cuba is also releasing an intelligence agent who spied for the United States and was held for nearly 20 years, and the United States in return freed three Cuban intelligence agents held in the United States.

Cuba and the United States have been ideological foes since soon after the 1959 revolution that brought Raul Castro’s older brother, Fidel Castro, to power. Washington broke diplomatic relations with Havana in 1961 as Cuba steered a leftist course that turned it into a close ally of the former Soviet Union on the island, which lies just 90 miles (140 km) south of Florida.

The hostilities were punctuated by crises over spies, refugees and the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. After the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, Washington was increasingly alone in its efforts to squeeze Cuba. Raul Castro, who took over from Fidel Castro when his brother retired in 2008, has maintained a one-party political system.

CRITICS CHALLENGE OBAMA

Obama said Cuba still needed to enact economic reforms and uphold human rights among other changes, but he said it was time for a new approach.

Americans are largely open to establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll of more than 31,000 adults conducted between July and October. Around one-fifth of those surveyed said they opposed such a move, while 43 percent said the United States should restore relations with Cubaand around 37 percent said they were unsure.

Critics said Cuba should not be rewarded, having yet to change, and the path to completely normal ties is strewn with obstacles, in particular lifting the embargo that the White House said Obama would like to see dismantled by the time he leaves office in 2017.

Although a growing number of U.S. lawmakers favor more normal ties, those lawmakers are still mostly Democrats, and after big midterm election gains in November, Republicans will control both houses of Congress in the new year.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban American Republican, will be incoming chair of a key Senate Foreign Relations panel and said he was committed to doing all he could to “unravel” the plan. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both set to hold senior foreign policy positions, said the policy shift reflected “America and the values it stands for in retreat and decline.”

Whatever the criticism at home, Obama’s move was made with the political liberty of a president who, midway through his second term, no longer faces an electorate.

CUBAN AMERICANS SPLIT

News of the changes rippled fast through the 1.5 million-strong Cuban American community in the United States, hailed by some who are keen to see closer ties with the island and condemned by others.

Older Cubans who left the island soon after the revolution have remained opposed to ties with either Castro brother in power. Younger Cubans, who left more recently or were born in the United States, have shown more interest in warmer relations.

“It’s amazing,” said Hugo Cancio, who arrived in Miami in the 1980 Mariel boatlift and runs a magazine with offices in Miami and Havana. “This is a new beginning, a dream come true for the 11.2 million Cubans in Cuba, and I think it will provoke a change of mentality here too in this community.”

In Havana, stunned Cubans celebrated the news, although some were skeptical that the long years of animosity really would end. In one student demonstration on a busy Havana street corner, about 100 people shut off traffic while motorists honked their horns. Neighbors peered out from their balconies, joining in the cheers.

“I have waited for this day since I can remember,” said taxi driver Jorge Reymond, wiping away tears.

GROSS CASE

Obama said the Gross case had stalled his ambitions to try to reset relations with Havana, calling it a “major obstacle.” Pope Francis, the first Latin American pontiff, played an active role in pressing for his release from Cuba, where a sizable part of the population is Roman Catholic.

Cuba arrested Gross on Dec. 3, 2009, and sentenced him to 15 years in prison for importing banned technology and trying to establish clandestine Internet service for Cuban Jews. Gross had been working as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Gross’s lawyer and family have described him as mentally vanquished, gaunt, hobbling and missing five teeth. Speaking to reporters after arriving in the United States, Gross thanked Obama for all he had done to secure his release and said he did not blame the Cuban people for his ordeal.

His case raised alarm about USAID’s practice of hiring private citizens to carry out secretive assignments in hostile places. Cuba considers USAID another instrument of continual U.S. harassment dating back to 1959.

The three Cuban intelligence agents, jailed since 1998, are Gerardo Hernandez, 49, Antonio Guerrero, 56, and Ramon Labañino, 51. Two others had been released before on completing their sentences – Rene Gonzalez, 58, and Fernando Gonzalez, 51. The three arrived in Cubaon Wednesday, Castro said.

Despite their decades of animosity, the two countries have long been engaged on a host of issues such as immigration, drug interdiction and oil-spill mitigation.

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Patricia Zengerle, Roberta Rampton and Richard Cowan; Writing by Frances Kerry; Editing by Howard Goller)

Convicted Terrorist Requests Transfer To Guantánamo

Friday, December 12, 2014
Zacarias Moussaoui (AP photo)

The man known as the “20th hijacker” of the 9/11 terrorist attacks wants to join other conspirators and detainees at Guantánamo Bay. The reason, he claims, is to escape the threats and assaults he is subjected to by inmates and guards at the “Supermax” prison in Colorado, where he is serving a life sentence.

Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted in 2005 of being part of the plot that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. He pled guilty to charges that he trained and prepared to hijack a commercial airliner and fly it into the White House.

Moussaoui has spent the past nine years at the federal super-maximum prison in Florence, Colorado. There, he claims he has been subjected to assaults and harassment by guards and even other inmates, including Ramzi Yousef, who organized the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

He also claims those inside the prison want to murder him and that he has tried committing suicide, but failed. “So no suicide, Victory by Allah,” Moussaoui wrote.

Earlier this year, Amnesty International accused the federal government of “callous and dehumanizing” practices at the Supermax prison, in which prisoners are subjected to round-the-clock isolation for years at a time.

In addition to his request for a transfer to Guantánamo, Moussaoui wrote in letters (pdf) filed with a federal court in South Florida that he has “inside knowledge about al-Qaida and the Sept. 11 plot,” and wants to testify in lawsuits filed by terrorism victims, according to the Associated Press.

In addition to referring to himself as the “so-call 20th hijacker” [sic], Moussaoui says he is a “Slave to Allah.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff

To Learn More:

’20th Hijacker’ Zacarias Moussaoui Seeks Transfer To Guantánamo (by Curt Anderson, Associated Press)

20th Hijacker’ Seeks Transfer to Guantanamo (by Dan McCue, Courthouse News Service)

Zacarias Moussaoui v. Federal Bureau of Prisons (U.S. District Court, Southern Florida) (pdf)

Amnesty International Criticizes Conditions at U.S. Supermax Prison that Houses Terrorists (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

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Each threat assessment is compiled individually according to a threat matrix developed by the Secret Serviceand it is this discipline in which each member of our staff is primarily trained. With over 25 years of experience as personal security contractors who have been employed by the US State Department, several NGO’s and the US Department of Defense we have of course developed our own unique threat assessment processes to suit the situations we have come across while deployed in several different countries including Iraq, Kuwait and even Korea.

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Contact us today and take advantage of our expertise in assessing a specific situation and the degree of potential risk as it pertains to an attack on you or your facilities.

Wanted: Ideas for Transform Planes into “Aircraft Carriers in the Sky”

By on Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
Military air operations typically rely on large, manned, robust aircraft, but such missions put these expensive assets-and their pilots-at risk. While small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) can reduce or eliminate such risks, they lack the speed, range and endurance of larger aircraft.

These complementary traits suggest potential benefits in a blended approach-one in which larger aircraft would carry, launch and recover multiple small UAS. Such an approach could greatly extend the range of UAS operations, enhance overall safety, and cost-effectively enable groundbreaking capabilities for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and other missions.

To explore and expedite the possible development of these potential benefits, DARPA has issued a Request for Information (RFI) (http://go.usa.gov/AWpm) seeking technical, security and business insights addressing the feasibility and potential value of an ability to launch and recover multiple small unmanned air systems from one or more types of existing large manned aircraft, such as C-130 transport planes.

“We want to find ways to make smaller aircraft more effective, and one promising idea is enabling existing large aircraft, with minimal modification, to become ‘aircraft carriers in the sky’,” said Dan Patt, DARPA program manager. “We envision innovative launch and recovery concepts for new UAS designs that would couple with recent advances in small payload design and collaborative technologies.”

The new RFI invites short (8 pages or less) responses that must address three primary areas:

  • System-level technologies and concepts that would enable low-cost reusable small UAS platforms and airborne launch and recovery systems that would require minimal modification of existing large aircraft types. This area includes modeling and simulation as well as feasibility analysis, including substantiating preliminary data if available.
  • Potentially high-payoff operational concepts and mission applications for distributed airborne capabilities and architectures, as well as relative capability and affordability compared to conventional approaches (e.g., monolithic aircraft and payloads or missile-based approaches). DARPA hopes to leverage significant investments in the area of precision relative navigation, which seeks to enable extremely coordinated flight activities among aircraft, as well as recent and ongoing development of small payloads (100 pounds or less).
  • Proposed plans for achieving full-system flight demonstrations within four years, to assist in planning for a potential future DARPA program. DARPA is interested not only in what system functionality such plans could reasonably achieve within that timeframe, but also how to best demonstrate this functionality to potential users and transition partners. These notional plans should include rough order-of-magnitude (ROM) cost and schedule information, as well as interim risk reduction and demonstration events to evaluate program progress and validate system feasibility and interim capabilities.

Technology development beyond these three areas will be considered so long as it supports the RFI’s goals. DARPA is particularly interested in engaging nontraditional contributors to help develop leap-ahead technologies in the focus areas above, as well as other technologies that could potentially improve both the survivability and effectiveness of future manned and unmanned air systems.

Responses are due November 26, 2014 to DARPA-SN-15-06@darpa.mil by 4:00 PM Eastern Time. All technical and administrative correspondence and questions regarding this announcement and how to respond should be sent to DARPA-SN-15-06@darpa.mil.

Read more: http://www.defencetalk.com/wanted-ideas-for-transform-planes-into-aircraft-carriers-in-the-sky-60986/#ixzz3IyEW6ZDb

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