Countering the evolving threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs)

Published on Feb 16, 2017
In Iraq, more than 9,800 people were killed or injured by IEDs in 2016.

Populations returning to their homes and villages after the Iraqi Security Forces have taken them back from ISIL are particularly at risk.

NATO counter-IED expert Phil Yeaman explains how IEDs and the terrorist groups that are using them are developing and also explains how NATO is helping to train the Iraqi Security Forces to dispose of IEDs.


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Third white terrorist arrested in less than a week; White Americans: 3, Muslims: 0

DAILYKOS-Ex-convict and white supremacist Benjamin McDowell, 28, was arrested after buying a handgun and ammunition from an FBI agent for $109.

McDowell had complained on facebook that fellow white supremacists were all talk and no action: “All they wanne (sic) do is stay loaded on drugs the Jews put here to destroy white man and they feast on the drugs. they should be Feasting on the enemy that stole their Heritage and their bloodline” he wrote, also citing Dylan Roof, the white mass murderer sentenced to death for the murder of a group of black churchgoers.

Authorities began investigating McDowell in December after he posted threats to a synagogue on Facebook.

Since President Trump was sworn in, vowing to keep America safe from terrorism, and issuing a travel ban against Muslim countries that was later blocked by the courts, this is the third white American to be investigated for a terrorist plot.

Less than a week previously, William Christopher Gibbs, a self-described “White Racial Loyalist” and member of the Georgia Church Of Creativity, a white-separatist organization founded in 1973, was arrested in Georgia after complaining at a hospital about possible exposure to the deadly toxin ricin.

An investigation of Gibbs’ car turned up traces of the toxin. Gibbs was arrested on state charges of reckless conduct and probation violation, and is currently under investigation by the FBI.

Ricin has been used by white supremacists before. In 2014, two other Georgia men were sentenced to 10 years in prison for a plot to make the deadly poison ricin and disperse it. During the investigation of the plot, one man was recorded talking about a list of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and members of the media he thought needed to die.

Finally, about the same time last week that Gibbs was being arrested for investigation over ricin, Mark Charles Barnett (48, Ocala, FL) was delivering 10 homemade bombs to a confidential source in a plot to place explosives in Target stores along the east coast, an act of economic terrorism designed to depress Target Stores stock. Barnett is a previously convicted felon and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison.

While the White House seems to be focused on the threat from Muslim extremists, even purportedly attempting to rewrite the blocked immigration ban, as yet no terror plots by Muslim extremists have been uncovered. Yet, three white terrorists have been arrested in just one week.

So far it seems that law enforcement is still keeping a watchful eye out for all potential offenders. However, with Trump at war with the intelligence services over leaks, and the increasing politicization of law enforcement, it may be just a matter of time before something slips through the cracks.

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Meet Owj: Iran’s First Indigenous Fighter Jet Engine

DefenceAviation-For a country that used to import even a toothbrush before, Iran has been making giant strides in industry and indigenously produced components. Recently, on the country’s Defence Industry Day, President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, had unveiled the first domestically produced Turbojet engine “Owj” (Zenith), in a prestigious ceremony attended by press officials, industry experts, and scientists of the nation.

The President of Iran has described this achievement as a bridge between industrialised nations and developing countries. The “Owj” turbojet engine is one of the most complicated components produced for the aviation industry in Iran. It was built without any foreign technical assistance in regards to its hardware and software.
This puts Iran in the elite list of 8 countries that are capable of producing such high-end aircraft engines through indigenous technology and makes a breakthrough in the county’s defence and aviation industry. The engine, which was designed and manufactured by the country’s leading scientists at the Defence Industry’s organisation, is now slated to be pressed into mass production.
The “Owj” is one of the most sophisticated products to be produced in Iran and will go a long way in decreasing the country’s dependence on foreign technology and aircraft engines. The engine comprises of 14,000 individual components and can operate at an altitude of 50,000 feet in various climatic conditions. Its approximate takeoff weight is around 10 tonnes which, is more than sufficient to power the multirole fighter jets of the Iranian Airforce
This engine serves as a benchmark for the manufacture of subsequent jet engines that the country hopes to continue designing and building. Iran is now poised to look forward to a new generation of light aircraft and heavy-duty planes based on the “Owj” turbojet. Here’s a more close look at how the “Owj” turbojet engine works.
Turbo Jet engines are air-breathing engines used in aircraft and ballistic missiles. It is constructed with a gas turbine and propelling nozzle, with the gas turbine consisting of an air inlet, compressor, combustion chamber and an exhaust chamber. The turbine powers the compressor, which compresses air and heats it with burning fuel in the combustion chamber. The hot gases are the allowed to expand in the turbine. The turbine exhaust gases then expand through the propelling nozzle where it accelerates to high speeds providing the necessary thrust. This essentially works on Newton’s Third Law of Motion “Every Force Has an Equal and Opposite Reaction Force”.
Variations of the Turbojet exist, such as the Turboprop which has a propeller attached to the compressor assembly, and Turbofan where a ducted fan accelerates air using energy from the turbine. Although Turboprops and Turbofans are quieter and more fuel efficient, turbojets are used in aircraft and supersonic medium range cruise missiles, because of their high speed of exhaust gases, the simplicity of construction and reduced cross sectional area.

Let’s break down the individual parts. The inlet or air intake is placed directly in front of the compressor at the front of the engine assembly. It helps direct incoming air, which is cold and at low temperature, into the rotating compressor blades. The air is flowing at subsonic speeds regardless of the actual speed of the aircraft or vehicle.
The compressor, which is driven by the turbine, then takes this cold and low-pressure air and compresses it, increasing both pressure and temperature. Typical rotational speeds are around 2,500 RPM while compressors of smaller helicopter engines spin at a mind-boggling 50,000 RPM. In contrast, the internal combustion engine of a car spins at around 6,000 RPM. From the compressor, the air now moves into the combustion chamber.
Fuel is introduced into the combustion chamber, and burning of the fuel-air mixture takes place. The burnt gases flow through the turbine causing it to spin at high speeds. The turbine is placed on the same shaft as the compressor and in turn causes the compressor to draw in more air to the chamber in a reciprocating process.
The penultimate stage consists of a Turbine where hot gases expand through the chamber. Air from the compressor is used in this stage to cool the turbine blades and vanes. Enormous horsepower is developed in the turbine which drives the compressor and auxiliary accessories such as the fuel, oil and hydraulic pumps that are driven via a gearbox.
The final stage consists of the nozzle, where gases expand through the exhaust and produce a jet of air at high velocity. The convergent ducting narrows down to a throat to provide the necessary thrust for the engine. A combustion chamber can be added in this stage to further reheat the turbine exhaust gases, and this is known as an after-burner. Afterburners are used to produce supersonic flight speed in aircraft. The typical thrust produced by this type of engine is 115,000 lbf (510,000 Newton).
Iran’s Ministry of Defence officials have stated that this achievement has elevated the country’s status and placed them in the higher ranks not only in the Middle-East region but the entire world. It has increased national confidence regarding the youth’s superior technical knowledge, design and manufacturing capabilities. They expressed that the next step is to accelerate this process to increase defensive capabilities and protect the country’s airspace.

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How Is Contemporary Jihad Illegitimate?

Jihad with the sword is only valid when the religion is still in the process of establishment. After the religion is established, there is no need for Jihad with arms and ammunition. Smaller Jihad …

Source: How Is Contemporary Jihad Illegitimate?

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Treaty on Open Skies: A program that allows 35 countries to fly over their airspace and spy on each other

The Treaty on Open Skies Agreement allowed party states to perform flights of unarmed aircraft for passive, observational purposes on short notice. This went a long way in providing the transparenc…

Source: Treaty on Open Skies: A program that allows 35 countries to fly over their airspace and spy on each other

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Treaty on Open Skies: A program that allows 35 countries to fly over their airspace and spy on each other

Larkins Dsouza September 5, 2016

In the 1950s, an Open Skies Agreement was proposed as a way to build relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. President Eisenhower formulated the idea for this, and even if a treaty was never signed, the Russian policies were lax enough to allow for President George H.W. Bush to open up the treaty in the 1980s as a means to build confidence, security, stability and predictability. The treaty was signed by NATO members and members of the Warsaw Pact which finally came into force in the year 2002.
The Treaty on Open Skies Agreement allowed party states to perform flights of unarmed aircraft for passive, observational purposes on short notice. This went a long way in providing the transparency and openness between member states. The 35 signatory states that entered into the treaty are: Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Georgia, Iceland, Hungary, Latvia, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Poland, Norway, Romania , Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Slovenia, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Ukraine, Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom. It is one of the most widely encompassing international endeavours to promote transparency and openness in the military.
The Treaty on Open Skies Agreement includes all terrain over which member states lay sovereignty claim over, including Islands and International waters. It must be noted, that flights can be restricted for safety reasons and not for national security. Participants regularly open airspace to other members on a reciprocating basis. This not only promotes transparency but also builds confidence to facilitate for verification of arms control and agreements of disarmament.

Russian_Air_Force_Tu-214-Treaty on Open Skies
Depending on the countries size of territory, they are assigned a quota which is the total number of flights they can conduct. Observation flights can be conducted only on designated aircraft, provided a 72-hour notice period is given. All observation missions must be completed in a 96 hour time period. Reconnaissance aircraft will have a number of sensors to record data. This includes video cameras with a real-time display for use during day and night, optical panoramic and framing cameras, infrared scanners and sideways-facing synthetic aperture radars. Thus, a state member can distinguish between military equipment and vehicles and this allows for an open relationship between countries military forces.
The data and images collected during a Treaty on Open Skies flight are available for purchase to other state members who are part of the treaty. There has been some concern and criticism by defence officials over Russia’s advanced technology as far as digital electro-optical sensors are concerned as opposed to a conventional film used by the U.S. and other countries, and their restrictions regarding observation over certain parts of their terrain in Chechnya, the Russian-Georgian border, and Kaliningrad. The United States hopes to have advanced sensors by 2019, however, supporters of the Treaty on Open Skies argue about the value of the agreement and express those countries should seek diplomatic measures to resolve conflicts.
Observational aircraft used by different countries is as follows : The United States – USAF Boeing OC-135B Open Skies, Canada C-130 Hercules with “SAMSON” sensors, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, The Czech Republic and Romania, Antonov An-30, Sweden – Saab 340, United Kingdom – Hawker Siddeley HS 780 Andover and Saab 340. More than 1,100 observation flights have been conducted since the Treaty was agreed upon. The United States flies over Russia three times more than Russia flies over the United States, which in a way counters the advanced reconnaissance sensors of Russia.
The treaty on Open Skies establishes a mutual understanding between several countries, by giving them the ability to gather information via aerial images of military fighter aircraft, artillery, armoured combat vehicle and other concerning activities. As of 2016, Russia has expressed their intention of flying over America in aircraft fitted with advanced, hi-tech surveillance equipment and sensors. This has been met with much caution and scepticism from US Government officials and defence authorities. The council has reaffirmed the importance of this treaty in bolstering international relations and security and its effectiveness as a confidence building and transparency measure. The treaty is periodically reviewed in a conference to ensure it conforms to contemporary circumstances. The commission conducts its work by consensus, and they have also emphasised on the expansion of state members to the treaty.

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Cyber Skills Gap Grows Along With Threats

Fifty-five percent of respondents to a cyber security skills survey said they place greatest emphasis on hands-on experience. Nevertheless, 25 percent said candidates lack technical skills. Hence, …

Source: Cyber Skills Gap Grows Along With Threats

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Hearing Questions for David Friedman – Nominee for the Position of U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Israeli security officials have reportedly briefed PM Netanyahu about the danger of Palestinian violence in response, because of how emotional this issue is. And even more concerning is the safety of U.S. diplomatic personnel at embassies across the Middle East, which could be targeted in retaliation. Is it worth the political statement of moving the embassy to Jerusalem if it risks the lives of American diplomats?  Shouldn’t we first have a clear plan for how to deal with any negative repercussions or dangers before we would consider a move?

Source: Hearing Questions for David Friedman – Nominee for the Position of U.S. Ambassador to Israel

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Hearing Questions for David Friedman – Nominee for the Position of U.S. Ambassador to Israel




President Trump has nominated David Friedman to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Friedman has a long track record of opposing the two state solution, supporting settlements deep in the West Bank, and writing in offensive terms about Jews who disagree with him.  His views stand far outside of the mainstream.  Friedman’s confirmation hearing will take place on Thursday morning in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Below are seven questions that Senators should ask him to answer during the hearing.

1   Two-State Solution:  For a generation U.S. policy has been to support an agreed upon two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can each have their own state and live together side-by-side in peace and security. Indeed, the Trump administration appeared to endorse this position with a statement in early February stating that “the American desire for peace between Israelis and Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years.” And President Trump himself has talked about his desire to successfully negotiate this deal. Moreover, Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly argued for the two-state solution in his Bar Ilan speech and since. But you have written that “There has never been a two-state solution, only a two state narrative.” And have called it “an illusory solution in search of a non-existent problem.” So, as the American Ambassador to Israel, will you be willing to implement a policy that continues to support the two-state solution?  If you oppose a two-state solution, what is the credible alternative?  Do you believe Israel should annex large parts of the West Bank instead, and how will that be consistent with Israel’s desire to remain both a democratic State and a Jewish State?

Engaging Across the Political Spectrum with the American Jewish Community:  You have a track record of strong identification with the Israeli and American right and have used sharp controversial terms about the Jewish left, writing: “Are J Street supporters really as bad as kapos? The answer, actually, is no. They are far worse than kapos – Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps.” Do you stand by this provocative and insulting statement against Jews who have a view different than your own?  Will you apologize? Will you be open to meeting with American Jews from across the political spectrum when they visit Israel?  Or will you apply an ideological test?

Settlements:  The president has stated that he wishes to try and make the ultimate deal between Israelis and Palestinians, and has called the construction of new settlements and the expansion of existing settlements not helpful in achieving peace. But you have been a strong supporter of the settlements and served as President of the American Friends of Beit El Institutions – a charity that gives money to settlements in the West Bank and especially to the settlement of Beit El. But Beit El is in the middle of the West Bank and many of the settlers who live there are are among the most hardline opponents of any two-state agreement. Do you view new settlements and expansion of existing ones as unhelpful to achieving peace?  How will your support for settlements be consistent with the view expressed by President Trump criticizing settlements?

Jerusalem Embassy:  You are on record as supporting moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, and when you were nominated declared your intention to work and reside in Jerusalem. Are you concerned about the security implications of such a move? Israeli security officials have reportedly briefed PM Netanyahu about the danger of Palestinian violence in response, because of how emotional this issue is. And even more concerning is the safety of U.S. diplomatic personnel at embassies across the Middle East, which could be targeted in retaliation. Is it worth the political statement of moving the embassy to Jerusalem if it risks the lives of American diplomats?  Shouldn’t we first have a clear plan for how to deal with any negative repercussions or dangers before we would consider a move?  Given that President Trump has not indicated that the embassy will move and the administration is reviewing the issue, are you willing to work and live in the current established embassy and ambassador’s residence? There have also been reports that you will live and work in Jerusalem while the embassy remains in Tel Aviv.  Is that logistically possible if all your staff is in Tel Aviv?

Aid to the Palestinians: You have consistently described financial aid to the Palestinians as “hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes paid by the U.S. State Department to Abbas.”  However, the Israeli government often supports American assistance. First, there are funds for the Palestinian Security Forces, which Israeli security officials acknowledge have been critical to countering terrorism and keeping Israel safe. Then there is financial and humanitarian aid to Palestinians to build schools, support hospitals, and pay back money to the Israeli electric company for providing power to the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, no American assistance goes directly to the Palestinian Authority anymore. Would you recommend cutting off this support as you have in the past?  What do you say to Israeli security officials who are concerned this could be highly destabilizing and put Israel at risk?

Iran and Syria Policy: You have expressed the view that the JCPOA is a “reckless act of appeasement” that will result in a nuclear Iran. At the same time, you have written admiringly about Vladimir Putin and Russia’s role in Syria and approvingly about Russia’s efforts to keep Iranian proxy Bashar al-Assad in power, all of which empowers Iran in the region. Both the Trump administration and the vast majority of Israeli security experts and government officials appear to be moving toward a policy that calls for leaving the JCPOA in place rather than abrogating the deal. What is your current view of the Iran deal? Do you believe that the U.S. should tear it up? How do you square your views on Iran’s corrosive role in the region with your views of Russia’s positive role despite its partnership with Iran? Do you believe that the fight against ISIS is more important than battling Iranian regional power?

Role of the ambassador: You have written disparagingly of the State Department, accusing it of over half a century of anti-Semitism and advocating for career foreign service officers to be summarily fired for holding different views than President Trump. You have an extensive record of writings and statements that express deeply held convictions and views on granular details of American policy toward Israel that may contradict policies adopted by the Trump administration. Some of your public statements also indicate a preference for setting policy as ambassador rather than communicating policy as ambassador. In your view, what is the role of an ambassador? Do you believe that you can adequately advocate for and communicate American policies to the government of Israel that you have previously dismissed as unwise or unworkable? How do you intend to work and collaborate with an institution and colleagues that you have rhetorically dismissed?




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Turkey talks with Russia for S-400

Turkey talks with Russia for S-400 The contract discussions reportedly broke down because Ankara and Beijing couldn’t agree on the transfer of technology, which Turkey sees as crucial for having a …

Source: Turkey talks with Russia for S-400

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