Pakistan: Allah, Army and America continue to remain relevant

By Col (Dr) Tej Kumar Tikoo (Retd.) Date : 21 Apr , 2016

 

 

 

 

History of Pakistan since its independence has been one of a vassal state, mostly of the U.S., which used its (Pakistan’s) pre-eminent geo-strategic location during the cold war, to its advantage. Pakistan, besides facilitating the U.S. in keeping a close watch on the two communists giants, also helped America in keeping a hawk eye on the happenings in the Mediterranean, West Asia and the Gulf. This close clinch between the two seemingly incompatible countries, for most of the initial four decades after Pakistan’s creation, ensured that it not only survived as a nation, but became strong enough to threaten India, even going to war with it in 1965.

However, with the America’s own relations with China improving subsequently, and Europe becoming a far more important theatre of big power play geo-politically, the United States would have had little use for Pakistan. But Allah had something else in mind to ensure that America stayed as a steadfast friend. This happened immediately when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The third ‘A’ of those who run Pakistan, i.e., its Army (America and Allah, being the other two), was at hand to ensure that Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1978, was turned into an opportunity to its own advantage. Gen Zia-ul-Haq, the new dictator of Pakistan, turned the Pakistan-American clinch into a bear hug. The close cooperation between the two countries during this entire phase of soviet occupation of Afghanistan, was such that during a press conference in Washington DC, Zia-ul-Haq, in the presence of Ronald Reagan said, “Our hearts beat in unison.”

Pakistan took full advantage of being a frontline state in the U.S and its allies’ war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. It got everything it wanted; military hardware, dollars in abundance and international support for many of its policies which would, otherwise, have been frowned upon by the international community. Developing nuclear weapons and starting insurgency in Punjab and Kashmir, being just the two of these.

After the Soviet armies were thrown out of Afghanistan, the Taliban, products of ISI run refugee camps of Peshawar during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, gained power in the war-torn Afghanistan. America, having already achieved its objective of throwing the Soviet armies out of Afghanistan and freeing most of Eastern Europe from the Soviet control and breaking the Soviet Union, now lost interest in South Asia.

Pakistan’s role as a strategic ally had little use in the changed geo-political calculation in a unipolar world, of which the U.S. was now the only super power. But Allah wished otherwise. The Taliban, now ruling Afghanistan, hosted Osama bin Laden, who created Al Qaeda, which hit the U.S. on 9/11, in the biggest terrorist strike to take place on the American soil. Despite enormous pressure exerted on the Taliban and their mentor, Pakistan, the U.S. was unable to get the custody of their nemesis, Osama, the prime suspect in the 9/11 strike on the World Trade Towers in New York.

Under American threat of being “reduced to stone age”, Gen Musharraf, the new dictator of Pakistan, had to give up on their blue-eyed boys, the Taliban. Thereafter, America invaded Afghanistan, using Pakistan’s proximity to the latter and its knowledge of the Taliban network to its advantage.

Thus, Pakistan once again became a ‘Stalwart Ally’, as Gen Collin Powel, the U.S. Secretary of State, put it. For the next over decade and a half, Pakistan, once again, got bailed out economically and militarily by the U.S., even though reluctantly this time.

In the meantime, Pakistan continued to develop its relations with its all weather friend, China; both strategically, as also economically. Development of Gwadar as a trading and military port on the mouth of the strategically important Gulf, extending the Karakoram Highway, cutting right through Pakistan, till the Gwadar port, and cooperation in the nuclear field ensured that Pakistan remained an entity in the existing geo-political environment in the post 9/11 world.

Pakistan’s notorious ISI, with the help of CIA and Saudi Intelligence agencies, created and sustained the huge terrorist infrastructure to ostensibly fight Soviets in Afghanistan. However, on the quiet, it also spread terrorism in India’s Punjab and later created insurgency situation in Jammu and Kashmir and still later, carried out terrorist strikes in mainland India. This has been going on since middle of eighties and continues till date. As a matter of fact, this policy has now become part of the Pakistan’s state diplomacy, in that, some terrorist groups, like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are treated as strategic assets by Pakistan in its confrontation with India.

Nevertheless, such a policy has had two detrimental effects on Pakistan. Firstly, it came to be widely seen as a sponsor of terror worldwide and became a pariah state and secondly, it gave rise to numerous terrorist groups within Pakistan, which refused to toe the ISI line.

Some extreme religious groups like Lashkar-e-jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba (both Sunni militant groups, who have been targeting Shias and other non-Muslim groups in Pakistan and have killed many of them during the past two decades) and the breakaway faction of Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP- who have repeatedly struck against the existing state set up in Pakistan) have destabilised the Pakistani society by indulging in grave human rights violations (attack on Army Public School, Peshawar, just to quote one such strike). Even the most prosperous and progressive state of Pakistan, i.e., Punjab, has not been spared by these terrorist groups.

Though theoretically, ISI has been trying to sell the theory of differentiating between good terrorist and bad terrorist, but in practical terms this differentiation has not worked. Today, when Pakistan says that “it, itself is a victim of terrorism”, it must realise that it is situation that Pakistan has itself created.

After the Peshawar attack on the Army Public School, in which over 150 innocent children were slain in a most barbaric manner, the all powerful Army decided to launch a crackdown on the militant groups. The fact that most of the children killed were Army wards, did contribute to such decision making. It is a moot point whether such a crackdown would have been launched had the children belonged to non-military families.

Nevertheless, in the subsequent crack down, two types of militant groups were targeted. The first one was the TTP and its allies who were and are in the forefront of anti-Pakistan militancy; the second one included the sectarian religious groups who have been targeting Shias/Christians and people belonging to other minorities. The latter are wholly driven by their desire to wipe out those whom they consider Kafir or apostates.

Nearly three hundred terrorists, whose death sentences were held in abeyance, have been hanged till now. This included the killer of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. In its campaign against such sectarian militant groups, some important leaders of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba too were killed in encounters.

Despite huge protests against such killings, Pakistan’s powerful Army continued their relentless operations against these militant groups, including in Punjab.

However, the policy of leaving Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad untouched during these operations, has once again confirmed that as far as these groups are concerned, Pakistan is unwilling to change its long held policy, i.e., state sponsored terror against India will continue to be a part of its state policy and to achieve that objective, Pakistan will continue to treat these anti-Indian terror groups as strategic assets.

Pakistan is therefore, unwilling to accept that it has to eliminate all forms of terrorism, root and branch, and not treat some of them as strategic assets for future use against India. These double standards are at the root of the existing dilemma that Pakistan faces.

India’s reaction has been on the expected lines. Its policy towards Pakistan is based on the assumption that the elected Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, will deliver on its promises; be it Mumbai, Pathankot or granting MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status to India. But like most prime ministers before him, Narendra Modi too is likely to eat a humble pie. Pakistan’s foreign policy is dictated by the General Headquarters at Rawalpindi and not by its foreign office at Islamabad.

In fact, the present government put a great deal of its reputation at stake by going out of its way to placate the elected government in Pakistan. But the recent events have confirmed that the present Army Chief, Gen Raheel Sharrief, is determined to use the powerful Army to sidetrack the elected government, particularly when it comes to Pakistan’s policies towards India, Afghanistan and the U.S. The fact is that ever since its creation, Pakistan has rarely had a civilian government which did not have the powerful Army breathing down its neck – i.e., when the Army did not rule directly.

In the eighties, due to the patronage showered on them by the military dictator, Gen Zia-ul-Haq, the radical Islamic parties too became powerful and were co-opted into the governance of the country at certain levels. This made them disproportionately powerful, compared to the actual support they enjoyed among the masses. However, as a consequence, it also contributed to the radicalization of Pakistani society, thus posing a serious threat to the very fabric of the Pakistan’s inter-provincial cohesion.

But now, it appears that the present Army Chief is unwilling to share power with these parties and has, therefore, gone after them. Needless to say, it has created a piquant situation in the country. The Islamist parties have turned against the government, further leading to enhanced levels of violence directed at State machinery, some sectarian groups and minorities.

With Army launching an all out offensive in Baluchistan, FATA and parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, fissiparous tendencies in many provinces have further accentuated. Baluchistan is far from being quiet; Even in PoJK voices of dissent have become shriller and recent events indicate that clamour for Azadi has grown there; TTP is nowhere near annihilation and democratic institutions are getting emasculated with every passing day.

In the meanwhile, the U.S. continues to patronise Pakistan by supplying modern aircraft and weaponry in the hope that somehow these supplies will keep it floating, as the former has no stomach for creating another Iraq for itself. It is, of course, a different matter that it is India that will get adversely impacted by the arming of Pakistan. But the U.S. thinks that India can manage such a situation in view of the expanding Indo-U.S. strategic cooperation. As far as China is concerned, its cooperation with Pakistan is strictly in keeping with its (China’s) national interests. It is using Pakistan to outflank India, gaining access to the Gulf through Gwadar and establishing a foot hold in PoJK, so important for it to protect the Karakoram Highway.

Before the arrival of Daesh (IS) on the scene, nearly every terrorist strike in the world had a Pakistani connection; be it the terrorists themselves, their training, logistics or funding, etc. But Pakistan’s continued relevance due to reasons mentioned above, ensured that it got away with its Shenanigans. Today, as far as the international community is concerned, its focus has shifted from Pakistan to IS (Daesh). Therefore, as of now, Pakistan is no more than a lesser liability than the IS, unless another terrorist strike, having Pakistan connection, brings it back into international glare. As far as India is concerned, Mumbais and Pathankots will continue to occur so long as Pakistan continues to use terrorism as a state policy. India has to live with this headache.

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When “MEDIA BECOMES ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE…………”

@realDonaldTrump “The Boston Globe, Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT! 10:00 AM – 16 Aug 2018

via When “MEDIA BECOMES ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE…………”

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When “MEDIA BECOMES ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE…………”

POLITICUSUSA_ According to Boston 7 News, “There is an increased police presence at The Boston Globe’s headquarters after a bomb threat was made against the newspaper Thursday in wake of a tweet that was sent out by President Trump, officials said.”

The president sent out this tweet Thursday morning after the Globeand hundreds of other newspapers defended the free press in a series of editorials:

The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!

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“Sergey Alexandrovich”:” We Are Smarter, Stronger and More Determined’-Der Spiegel Online

Sergei Karaganov (Putin’s personal adviser, dean of the Moscow elite university and many other things) recently gave an interview to the German magazine Der Spiegel (the interview became a real hit in the German mass media).

via “Sergey Alexandrovich”:” We Are Smarter, Stronger and More Determined’-Der Spiegel Online

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“Sergey Alexandrovich”:” We Are Smarter, Stronger and More Determined’-Der Spiegel Online

SPIEGEL: Sergey Alexandrovich, NATO is boosting its presence in Eastern Europe in reaction to recent Russian advances. Western politicians have warned that the two sides could stumble into a situation that might result in war. Are such warnings excessive?-Christian Neef

Karaganov: I was already speaking of a prewar situation eight years ago.

SPIEGEL: When the war in Georgia broke out.

Karaganov: Even then, trust between the great powers was trending toward zero. Russia began rearming its army and, since then, the situation has worsened considerably. We warned NATO against approaching the borders of Ukraine because that would create a situation that we cannot accept. Russia has stopped the Western advance in this direction and hopefully that means that the danger of a large war in Europe has been eliminated in the medium term. But the propaganda that is now circulating is reminiscent of the period preceding a new war.

SPIEGEL: You are hopefully referring to Russia.

Karaganov: The Russian media is more reserved than Western media. Though you have to understand that Russia is very sensitive about defense. We have to be prepared for everything. That is the source of this occasionally massive amount of propaganda. But what is the West doing? It is doing nothing but vilifying Russia; it believes that we are threatening to attack. The situation is comparable to the crisis at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s.

SPIEGEL: You are referring to the stationing of Soviet intermediate-range ballistic missiles and the American reaction?

Karaganov: Europe felt weak at the time and was afraid that the Americans might leave the continent. But the Soviet Union, though it had already become rotten internally, felt militarily strong and undertook the foolishness of deploying the SS-20 missiles. The result was a completely pointless crisis. Today, it is the other way around. Now, fears in countries like Poland, Lithuania and Latvia are to be allayed by NATO stationing weapons there. But that doesn’t help them; we interpret that as a provocation. In a crisis, we will destroy exactly these weapons. Russia will never again fight on its own territory …

SPIEGEL: …Rather, if I understand you correctly, you will pursue the strategy of forward defense.

Karaganov: NATO is now 800 kilometers (497 miles) closer to the Russian border, weapons are completely different, strategic stability in Europe is shifting. Everything is much worse than it was 30 or 40 years ago.

SPIEGEL: Russian politicians, including President Vladimir Putin, are trying to convince their population that the West wants war in order to fragment Russia. But that’s absurd.

Karaganov: Certainly there has been some exaggeration. But American politicians have openly said that the sanctions are aimed at bringing about regime change in Russia. That’s aggressive enough.

SPIEGEL: The evening news on Russian television seems to be even further removed from reality. Even a Moscow-based newspaper recently wrote of the “illusion of an external threat.”

Karaganov: The political elite in Russia don’t want domestic reform, they aren’t ready for it. As such, they welcome an external threat. You have to remember that Russia rests on two national concepts: defense and sovereignty. We approach the question of security much more reverentially than other countries do.

SPIEGEL: Your council has presented foreign and defense policy premises that speak of reclaiming a position of leadership in the world. Russia, the message is clear, does not want to see its power eroded. But what proposals have you put forth?

Karaganov: We want to prevent further destabilization in the world. And we want the status of being a great power: We unfortunately cannot relinquish that. In the last 300 years, this status has become a part of our genetic makeup. We want to be the heart of greater Eurasia, a region of peace and cooperation. The subcontinent of Europe will also belong to this Eurasia.

SPIEGEL: Europeans see current Russian policy as being rather enigmatic. The intentions of the leadership in Moscow are unclear.

Karaganov: We currently find ourselves in a situation where we don’t trust you in the least, after all of the disappointments of recent years. And we are reacting accordingly. There is such a thing as tactical surprise. You should know that we are smarter, stronger and more determined.

SPIEGEL: The partial Russian withdrawal from Syria was a surprise, for example. You intentionally left the West guessing how many troops you were withdrawing and whether you would secretly redeploy some of them. Such tactics don’t exactly create trust.

Karaganov: That was masterful, that was fantastic. We take advantage of our preeminence in this area. Russians aren’t good at haggling, they aren’t passionate about business. But they are outstanding fighters. In Europe, you have a different political system, one that is unable to adapt to the challenges of the new world. The German chancellor said that our president lives in a different world. I believe he lives in a very real world.

SPIEGEL: It has been difficult to ignore the Russian pleasure at the problems Europe is currently facing. Why is that?

Karaganov: Many of my colleagues view our European partners with derision and I always warn them not to be cocky and arrogant. Some among the European elite have sought out confrontation with us. As a consequence, we won’t help Europe, although we could do so when it comes to the refugee question. A joint closure of borders would be essential. In this regard, the Russians would be 10 times more effective than the Europeans. Instead, you have tried to make a deal with Turkey. That is a disgrace. In the face of our problems with Turkey, we have pursued a clear, hard political line — with success.

SPIEGEL: You have said that you are disappointed with Europe because it has betrayed its Christian ideals. In the 1990s, Russia wanted to be part of Europe — but the Europe of Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle.

Karaganov: The majority of Europeans want that Europe too. For the next decades, Europe will not be a model that is attractive to Russia.

SPIEGEL: In its premises, your council demanded the use of military power when “important interests of the country are clearly” threatened. Ukraine was such an instance?

Karaganov: Yes. Or a concentration of troops that we felt posed the risk of war.

SPIEGEL: The stationing of NATO units in the Baltics isn’t sufficient?

Karaganov: This chatter that we intend to attack the Baltics is idiotic. Why is NATO stationing weapons and equipment there? Imagine what would happen to them in the case of a crisis. The help offered by NATO is not symbolic help for the Baltic states. It is a provocation. If NATO initiates an encroachment — against a nuclear power like ourselves — it will be punished.

SPIEGEL: On Wednesday, the NATO-Russia Council is to meet for the second time since the Crimean crisis. You also don’t think that a resumption of this dialogue platform is worthwhile?

Karaganov: It is no longer a legitimate body. Plus, NATO has become a qualitatively different alliance. When we began the dialogue with NATO, it was a defensive alliance of democratic powers. But then, the NATO-Russia Council served as cover for and the legalization of NATO expansion. When we really needed it — in 2008 and 2014 — it wasn’t there.

SPIEGEL: You mean during the Georgian war and the Ukraine conflict. In papers issued by your council, terms like national dignity, courage and honor often appear. Are those political categories?

Karaganov: They are essential Russian values. In Putin’s world, and in mine, it is inconceivable that women be harassed and raped in public.

SPIEGEL: Are you referring to the sexual assaults that took place in Cologne on New Year’s Eve?

Karaganov: If men were to do something like that in Russia, they would be killed. The mistake is that Germans and Russians haven’t spoken seriously about their own values in the last 25 years — or they didn’t want to understand each other on the topic. During Soviet times, we too claimed there were only universal values, just as the West is doing now. It scares me when the Europeans demand more and more democracy. It sounds like times past, when people here demanded more and more socialism.

SPIEGEL: Where do you think Russian foreign policy has gone wrong?

Karaganov: In recent years, we didn’t have a political strategy for dealing with our immediate neighbors, the former Soviet republics. We didn’t understand what was really happening there. The only thing we did was subsidize these countries and buy their elite — with money that was then stolen, likely together. As a result, it wasn’t possible to prevent the Ukraine conflict. The second problem: Our politics was focused for too long on fixing past mistakes — fixing the mistakes made in the 1990s.

SPIEGEL: In the Russian press, there has been some conjecture that Russia will send out signals of rapprochement following parliamentary elections in September. Is such conjecture justified?

Karaganov: We believe that Russia is morally in the right. There won’t be any fundamental concessions coming from our side. Psychologically, Russia has now become a Eurasian power — I was one of the intellectual fathers of the eastward pivot. But now I am of the opinion that we shouldn’t turn away from Europe. We have to find ways to revitalize our relations.

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Maria Butina: “Welcome To Russia Comrad”

Krypt3ia

AGENT OF INFLUENCE:

The arrest of Maria Butina, the poor man’s Anna Chapman has opened a whole new avenue of investigation by the amateur spy hunters as well as the professionals this week. As it turns out, Maria had been under surveillance for a while and a known quantity to the FBI/DOJ as well for some time. Butina was even in the news cycles back in 2016 attached in stories to Alexander Torshin, a Russian Oligarch cum Bratva/Mobster with ties to the FSB and to Putin. This however did not make her a household name and in effect many people in the media were caught off guard I think when the feds arrested her and presented the affidavit in court on her FARA violations and flight risk potential.

Butina had been a fixture in 2015-2016 with the NRA circles and in fact it seems that she and Torshin had been a part of a plot to funnel money to the NRA as well as attempt to garner access to the Trump campaign/admin as well as others in the Republican party vis a vis entree from the NRA itself and a certain person 1, in the affidavit. Person one turns out to be Paul Erickson, an alleged master of the political universe in his own mind. He and Butina had been living together and it has become clear that it was a task that Butina felt she had to carry out to complete her mission per conversations the feds have picked up during their surveillance of her.

It seems that Butina, and Torshin with the help of Erickson and one other person yet unnamed, were able to potentially funnel money through the NRA to the Trump campaign and to the tune of 30 million dollars. With this access and her machinations to meet and greet as many players as possible (a list was provided by Erickson it seems to hit up with his direction) they would also have access and influence over CPAC, the conservative political action group as well. With this kind of access it seems that perhaps, with more information to come to confirm this, Russia had an access and influence campaign that changed the Republican platforms stance on Russia to be more along the lines of what Trump is evincing today.

Poor Man’s Anna Chapman:

After all the information started coming out post the affidavit’s publication online it then became an interesting rabbit hole to go down and see just how this operation was carried out and with what skill. After looking at things myself I am going to say here that I do not believe this was a well thought out operation that was being run by the likes of the SVR nor the FSB. I think that this was a condoned and “let’s see what happens” kind of operation that was a sideshow to the main events of the influence operations by the GRU and SVR that we are all dealing with today. I say this for a few reasons;

1) Torshin is connected to the FSB but he is not FSB: He in fact likely is an asset of the FSB much like some mobsters have been to the CIA in the past.

2) Torshin and Butina’s utter lack of OPSEC leaves me to believe that this was not a managed operation by the FSB/SVR/GRU because plainly it was so inept

3) Butina seems to be a clean skin (i.e. no history as an operative) but does have a backstop story of being a Russian business owner. She isn’t really a classic kind of “illegal” because she did not have a cover identity and paperwork like the illegals busted back in 2010 who were actually trained in tradecraft and sent here undercover.

In fact the absolutely poor OPSEC with which these two carried out communications online and off is a sign to me that there were no official handlers to the operation. If there were then they were negligent to the point of idiocy. There is even an amusing exchange between Butina and Torshin about being on a phone call and it being insecure where Butina recommends using WhatsApp but it is not clear if Torshin could handle using it and that they went silent so to speak. It seems overall that they did not and the feds have quite a bit of material on them both.

Add to this the fact that they carried a lot of these conversations in email and on facebook and Twitter and you can see a clear pattern of lack of tradecraft as opposed to what we have all seen come out of the indictments recently of the GRU operation against the DCCC and DNC as well as the disinformation operations. So once again I am gonna call it as amateur hour with a side of Anna Chapman Sparrow wannabe syndrome. This can also be reinforced with Torshin’s comments on how Butina is like and or had surpassed Anna in her operations.

A Noisy Operation:

What Maria Butina lacked in tradecraft, she easily made up for in ability to entice 54 year olds like Erickson with sex and access though. It seems that she played on this quite a bit and thought of herself as the next Anna super spy given all these photos she had taken by Oleg Volk, a photographer with a gun fetish in Tennessee. Her portfolio there is all guns all the time and since she was playing the part of a Russian NRA right to bear arms supporter it all fit the greater theme. However, even with her sex appeal and her playfulness, she managed to not be overly subtle either and her connections to Torshin were pretty clear. The media and certain people in the government noticed and asked for her to be investigated as well as her connections to the NRA.

As you can see from the text here she was a known quantity but all of these people around her did nothing to report her. They all just went along with the money and the possible access to her and Russia via Torshin. It really amazes me how people can just eschew all ethics and morals when large sums of money are being handed to them in order to further their own cause. As for the Republicans and the access there, like I said above I believe there is much more yet to come on her connections to individuals and the movements of money from them to NRA to Trump. I look forward to more of this coming out and in fact a little teaser yesterday was that a new player showed up at court for Butina’s hearing on being a flight risk.

That new player is a prosecutor who’s specialty is with trials concerning espionage. It turns out that though she has been arrested on FARA issues, she may in fact be later charged with espionage given that this prosecutor has shown up. It is also interesting that during the hearing there were two guys from the Russian consulate there and the reason that Butina was remanded without bail was the concern that she had packed all her things, moved money overseas, and that the consulate folks looked like they were planning an exfil if she was let go.

Giggity.

Players Yet To Be Named:

I also have to wonder who Person 2 is as well as others out there who had connections and or friendships with Butina. They all must be shitting bricks right about now I would think. One of those people mentioned in the articles I got in my OSINT searches was Cleta Mitchell. I looked her up and wouldn’t you know it, she is involved on the International Foundation for Electoral Systems board as well as seems to have raised the alarm about Russia, the NRA, and money and access being funneled from it to Trump.

I guess she saw it all up close and personal…

I wonder when we will have some more names added to the list and perhaps some indictments or at the least subpoena’s served on this matter. Overall though, this case could be a lynch pin for the Mueller investigation in a couple of ways. Certainly there is the money angle, and Mueller is following the money most certainly. The players here could end up helping the investigation for immunity as well. However, the big thing for me is that in this net of collusion and money, we may see even more republicans touched by this case. It seems pretty clear that the Republicans changed their attitudes toward Russia after the money spigot opened and perhaps this NRA money funnel and perhaps to CPAC will crack open and give us some answers on why people like Nunes and Gowdy for instance, are so available to subverting the constitution in favor of Trump and Russia.

Perhaps they are trying to hide their guilt because, gee, there’s kompromat on them as well.

Maybe some pics of Butina, guns, and naked senators somewhere…

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North Korea’s dispersed and hidden weapons complex highlights the challenge of denuclearization

The warheads — at least 20 in number, and perhaps as many as 60 — remain for now in their bunkers, somewhere in the rugged hills north of Pyongyang. Until today, there has been no public pledge from North Korea to dismantle them, or to allow inspectors to see them, or even to disclose where they are kept. —Joby Warrick

Work continues daily in the country’s radiochemistry lab near Yongbyon, where plutonium for new bombs is extracted from spent fuel rods. Just across a small river from the lab, testing continues on a 20-megawatt reactor capable of producing nuclear fuel for scores of additional bombs.

The facilities are among hundreds that exist across a North Korean weapons complex that has shown itself capable not only of making sophisticated nuclear and chemical weapons, but also of expertly hiding them from public view. It is why weapons experts around the world expressed astonishment Wednesday at President Trump’s claim that the danger posed by Pyongyang’s decades-long weapons buildup had been effectively eliminated — that there was, as Trump wrote in a Twitter posting, “no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.”

While the U.S.-North Korean summit may have lessened the immediate risk of a war, the elimination of the North Korean threat is at best a distant prospect, according to weapons experts and veterans of past negotiations with Pyongyang. Such an achievement would require difficult negotiations, years of dismantling and verification, and — perhaps most important — a profound change in the behavior of a state with a long history of cheating and deception on its past commitments, analysts said.

Hours after Trump’s declaration of victory at the Singapore summit, some derided the notion of a suddenly defanged North Korea as naive and perhaps even delusional.

“North Korea’s capabilities today are no different than they were a week ago,” said Robert Einhorn, a Brookings Institution scholar and formerly a State Department arms-control official under Republican and Democratic administrations. Einhorn, who sat across the table from North Korean negotiators during previous talks on restraining the country’s missile program, said the elimination of the North Korean nuclear threat had occurred so far only within a “parallel universe” inside the president’s mind.

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2017 Independent Intelligence review

Michael L’Estrange, Stephen Merchant

Description

The 2017 independent review of the Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) has prepared findings and recommendations on the AIC and related issues below in a classified report for the government, along with this unclassified version of that report.

The review focused on the Office of National Assessments, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Signals Directorate, the Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation.

It examined the relationship and engagement between those agencies and the members of the broader National Intelligence Community, including the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.

The review considered, among other things:

  • how the key aspects of our security environment and the nature of security threats have changed in recent times, including as a result of technological advancements, and how they are likely to change further over the coming ten years or so
  • how effectively the AIC serves (and is positioned to serve) Australian national interests and the needs of Australian policy makers
  • whether the AIC is structured appropriately, including in ensuring effective coordination and contestability
  • whether the AIC is resourced appropriately, including to ensure the right balance of resources across the AIC and that agency resources are properly matched against national security priorities, and the impact of the efficiency dividend
  • whether legislative changes are needed, including to the Intelligence Services Act 2001
  • whether capability gaps, including technological, are emerging and how these might be met, noting potential efficiencies and that any new proposals would need to be consistent with the Government’s overall fiscal strategy
  • the effectiveness of current oversight and evaluation arrangements
    the development path of overseas intelligence partners and lessons for Australia

READ FULL. REPORT  2017-Independent-Intelligence-Review-2

 

 

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CHAINSOFF GOES DIGITAL PAYMENT

Digital Downloads

DATA References on Dark Web, Cyber Intelligence, Cyber Crime, Cyber Threat, Cultural Intelligence, Military and Defense marketing data, etc… Something that I’ve worked on for many years. Available now online, 10$ for each download down

$10.00

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An Assessment of the Islamic State in 2018

By all accounts, the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is virtually over — save for a few mopping-up operations. In December 2017, the Iraqi government declared that, after almost four years of fighting, ISIS had been defeated and no longer controlled any Iraqi towns. _Joseph V. Micallef

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the same declaration and announced that some Russian troops will soon be withdrawn from Syria, although it does not appear that any withdrawal has yet occurred.

U.S. President Donald Trump has also announced, on several occasions, that he will soon withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops and special operationsforces from Syria, although the Pentagon continues to claim that there is no specific timetable for a withdrawal.

THE WAR AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE

According to the Pentagon, ISIS has been expelled from 99 percent of the territory it controlled in June 2014. As of June 2018, ISIS controlled a small triangle of territory south of Deir ez-Zor and to the west of the Euphrates Valley; a pocket in Iraq west of Al Hadar; and a third pocket east of Al Suwar, along the Syrian-Iraqi border.

In addition, much of its senior leadership, including many of its most experienced field commanders, have been killed or captured, although its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains at large. His death has been announced on several occasions, most recently by Russian military forces but, in the absence of any confirmation, he is presumed to still be alive.

According to unconfirmed reports, the Pentagon has been given six additional months, possibly longer, to finish final operations against ISIS in eastern Syria. It’s estimated that the ISIS militants in the two remaining pockets number several hundred fighters. With little prospect of escape, they are expected to fight tenaciously.

In the meantime, over the month of May, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) renewed their offensive against ISIS militants along the Syrian-Iraqi border. Called Operation Roundup, the operation is designed to capture or kill jihadist fighters in the ISIS pocket that abuts into territory controlled by the SDF in eastern Syria.

At the same time, Iraqi forces have moved in to seal off the Iraqi border area, and Iraqi air forces have launched attacks across a 30-mile front along the Iraq border. French special forces have also been deployed to support the SDF.

The offensive occurred while Turkish military forces and Kurdish militia were at a standoff over Turkish plans to take control of the town of Manbij and while Turkish military units, supported by various affiliated militia units, were taking control of the Kurdish-controlled canton, or district, of Afrin.

The transfer of some Kurdish fighters to Afrin led to a temporary suspension in the SDF’s campaign against the Islamic State.

Notwithstanding the above progress, however, Islamic State forces retook some territory in May that had been previously seized by Syrian military forces around the city of Deir ez-Zor. Four Russian soldiers and 43 insurgents were reported killed as a result of those attacks.

There were conflicting reports on the scope of the casualties, however. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights placed the death toll at 76 Syrian Army troops and 25 ISIS militants.

The international coalition against the Islamic State has also made significant progress in shutting down ISIS’ propaganda machine. Although these operations are conducted by civilian police forces rather than the military, they are an important component in the continuing war against ISIS.

In April, a joint U.S.-EU law enforcement operation conducted by police forces from the U.S., U.K., Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, France, the Netherlands and Romania took down a range of Islamic State media outlets and the servers they use to distribute their propaganda across the internet.

Among the targets were Amaq, the ISIS media outlet used to broadcast confirmation of attacks, as well as other media channels such as Bayan radio, and the Halumu and Nashir news services. The operation also resulted in identifying domain registrars and domain names used by ISIS as well as the administrators behind its media outlets.

The operation, the third such strike against the Islamic State’s internet presence, was the most extensive so far. Notwithstanding its success, however, ISIS has shown a remarkable resiliency and, in the past, has succeeded in restoring its web presence. The cyber war against the Islamic State is as relentless and as long term as the ground war against its militants.

SITREP: ISLAMIC STATE

As anticipated by many analysts, the rollback of the territory under its control has not destroyed the Islamic State, but simply caused it to revert back to its roots as an insurgency.

Unlike 2014, however, when its attacks were almost entirely in Iraq and Syria, it is now demonstrating a broad, though usually low-level, attack capability that spans virtually the entire globe.

In May, ISIS militants were implicated in a series of three bombings of Christian churches in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city. The attacks were a family affair by Dita and Puji Kuswanti and their four children, aged 9 to 18. The attacks, which killed 13 people, were the deadliest since the Bali car bombings that killed 23 people in 2005.

ISIS took credit for the attack, although it is believed the attackers were actually part of Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD). JAD is led by Aman Abdurrahman, a vocal proponent of ISIS in Indonesia.

The next day, another family, this time of five people, carried out an attack against a police security checkpoint in Surabaya. Four police officers and six civilians were injured. Four of the five bombers were killed; the fifth, an 8-year-old child, survived the bombing but was injured.

In Libya, ISIS militants staged an attack against the offices of Libya’s Electoral Commission in Tripoli, killing at least 13 people. The Islamic State was also suspected in a car bomb attack in Alexandria against Gen. Mostafa al-Nimr, the city’s head of security. The attack killed two Egyptian policemen.

Elsewhere, Islamic State militants attacked a voter registration center in central Kabul that killed approximately six dozen Afghanis and several western journalists. The attack occurred within the city’s heavily protected ring of steel, where many government offices and foreign embassies are located.

The broad reach of Islamic State was also underscored by the arrest in Brazil of eleven ISIS supporters charged with attempting to organize a jihadist cell, as well as arrests in Australia, South Africa and London.

This pattern of random, small-scale, localized attacks has increasingly become the norm for the Islamic State. These attacks are carried out by militants who have been radicalized by either ISIS or another jihadist organization without any direct support or direction from the leadership of Islamic State. It is not clear to what extent ISIS even has knowledge of these attacks before they are carried out.

When ISIS first declared the establishment of its caliphate, dozens of jihadist movements rushed to affiliate themselves with it and declare their allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Many were formally recognized as “provinces” of the Islamic State regardless of how much physical territory they actually controlled.

Significantly, none of these organizations has renounced its ties to the Islamic State, even as ISIS’ territorial reach has been largely rolled back. Moreover, a revitalized al-Qaida has steadily been building out its international network. It has heavily promoted Osama bin-Laden’s son, Hamza bin-Laden, as his successor and positioned itself to absorb ISIS supporters into its own ranks.

ISIS has not mounted a significant military operation since the attack on the southern Philippine city of Marawi, on the island of Mindanao, a year ago. The siege, which lasted several months, was carried out by the Maute Group, an ISIS-affiliated jihadist organization.

Maute is a separate organization from the Moro Liberation Front, a jihadist group that has been fighting with the Philippine government for decades and has also voiced support for the Islamic State.

The siege left the center of the city of 50,000 inhabitants largely destroyed and displaced about one-quarter of the town’s population. About 1,000 civilians were killed. Even now, a year after the siege was lifted, residents have not been allowed to return home except to retrieve personal possessions.

Concurrently, ISIS has moved aggressively to make up its lost revenues by expanding into the international narcotics trade. ISIS militants have been implicated in the smuggling of marijuana and hashish from the Balkans into Europe.

They are also believed to be challenging the Taliban’s control over the Afghan heroin trade, and there are reports they may also be involved in the smuggling of South American cocaine, via West Africa, across the Sahara into Europe.

Every major international jihadist organization is now involved with the illegal narcotics trade and is developing broad links to criminal organizations involved in drug trafficking. This union of terrorism and narcotics, so-called narco-terrorism, is an unprecedented development and one of the defining features of international terrorism in the 21st century.

THE FUTURE OF JIHADISM

There are two key operational texts that explain the jihadist mindset and have underscored the international jihadist movement. Both remain deadly relevant, and both emphasize that jihadism is a long-term struggle against the United States and its allies.

The al-Qaida operational text for jihadists is titled Management of Savagery. The text lays out a strategy of creating or capitalizing on regions of chaos or savagery where political and administrative controls have broken down to establish al-Qaida branches.

Those branches would join together to proclaim a worldwide caliphate that would be triggered by the collapse of the Saudi monarchy and al-Qaida gaining control of the Islamic world’s religious capital of Mecca.

It calls for continuing the jihadist struggle against the West, while biding patience until the time is ripe for the establishment of a new caliphate. While violence by militants continues to be encouraged, the group has avoided large, high-profile attacks like the one on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, recognizing that such attacks will only trigger an escalation in the American effort to eradicate the organization.

In al-Qaida’s analysis, the Islamic State’s declaration of a caliphate was premature as the West had not been weakened sufficiently to permit a caliphate being established and defended from attacks by the U.S. and its allies.

From al-Qaida’s perspective, the “regions of savagery” have exploded significantly since the attack in September 2001. At that time, the group was limited to Afghanistan and Somalia. Today, they have been joined by Iraq, Syria, Libya, northern Nigeria, Yemen, and a broad band of sub-Saharan Africa from Mauritania to Somalia. In addition, significant political vacuums have emerged in certain regions of countries like the Philippines, Tunisia and Indonesia.

The ISIS text, called the Fiqh al-Dima or The Jurisprudence of Blood, is a Salafist-inspired work that lays out both the purported Quranic justification of the Islamic State’s actions as well as a practical “how-to manual” for jihadists. Termed the jihadist bible, the text is intended to validate the horrific acts perpetrated by ISIS militants, from beheading to the taking of slaves.

The manual openly advocates the “indiscriminate killing of warring infidels” and beseeches its supporters to “kill them, fight them by every means that may snatch away their souls, drive their spirits from their bodies, cleanse the earth from their filth and removing their scourge from mankind, whatever the means may be.”

The text was used to indoctrinate and radicalize the 5,000 to 10,000 western Muslims that joined the Islamic State and continues to serve as the basis of ISIS’ recruitment and indoctrination. Its call for random, indiscriminate acts of violence has become the pattern of ISIS-inspired attacks around the world.

AN ASSESSMENT

The fight against the Islamic State is far from over. At the very least, the cyber war to take down its digital presence will continue unabated, ebbing and flowing as each successive attempt by ISIS to re-establish its digital caliphate is taken down by Western police agencies.

While the role of military forces fighting ISIS will likely diminish in the next six to nine months, special operations forces will continue to be involved in supporting anti-Jihadist groups around the world.

The continued growth of ISIS-affiliated militants in Afghanistan may at some point result in a broader U.S. role in fighting ISIS there. It is likely that large-scale, localized attacks, like the siege of Marawi last year, will continue to crop up.

In the meantime, ISIS-inspired, low-level, ad hoc attacks against civilians will continue. Such attacks are difficult to anticipate or prevent. Moreover, they will continue regardless of what happens to ISIS.

They are destined to be an ongoing feature of modern life.

— The opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Military.com. If you would like to submit your own commentary, please send your article to opinions@military.com for consideration.

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