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Financing the Flames

Who’s Funding Illegal Palestinian Settlements in Area C—Terrorist Links

August 22nd 2019

Edwin Black

Hundreds of millions of euros flow annually from European nations to fund illegal Palestinian settlements in Area C. Under the Oslo Accords, only Israel can issue construction permits. The current rapid expansion plan dispenses with any coordination with Israel.

According to Israeli activist watchdog groups, such as Regavim, during the last five years, illegal Palestinian settlements and infrastructure have sprawled across more than 9,000 dunams (9 square km) in more than 250 Area C locations, supported by more than 600 kilometers of illegally constructed access roads and more than 112,000 meters of retaining walls and terracing. This massive works project is being conducted in broad daylight. Palestinians no longer apply for permits in Area C; they deny Israel’s right to issue them. Now, they just start building, powered by millions of annual euros in joint projects with the EU.

How is the money routed? Among the many NGO recipients, one name keeps appearing: Union of Agricultural Work Committees.

A 2012 French Foreign Ministry report listing a €354,489 multi-year water development project states: "The first action proposed under this Action Plan is being carried out by the Union of Agriculture Work Committees," adding, "UAWC … is responsible for project management." Agence Francaise de Dévelopment (AFD) committed €130,000 to the UAWC, also in 2012, according to a 2012 Ernst and Young audit of the NGO Development Center. In February 2019, AFD also announced, "Union of Agricultural Workers Committees and relevant stakeholders … [would be] granted by AFD amounts up to 232,000 euros out of a budget of 650,000 euros."


Israel on Edge

Israel’s 2007 Decision to Attack a Syrian Nuclear Facility is History and Warning

July 29th 2019

Edwin Black

Jerusalem Post editor Yaakov Katz probably had no way of knowing that this would be a perfect time to release his briskly-selling Shadow Strike—Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power (St. Martin’s Press). Or did he?

The world’s attention is once again and inevitably riveted to the nuclear threat from Iran, generating kaleidoscopic theories about a potential military strike to disable Tehran’s program. So, Katz’s case study of the run-up and run-down to the Jewish state’s clandestine destruction of Syria’s nuclear attempt in 2007 is now an imperative read.

Katz flexes both his editorial sinews and his prior government connections (as a former senior policy advisor) to deliver a suspenseful chronicle, bolstered by rapid-fire precision and continuous in-room details. Understandably, this volume will be consulted time and time again by military theorists and diplomatic observers, wondering how it might be done—just in case it must be done again. Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

Iran Preparing a Worldwide Terror Network

July 18th 2019

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

An Iranian network of terrorist cells is spread out around the world, ready for activation at any time as tensions in the Persian Gulf remain high. Threats by the Islamic Republic to escalate its standoff with the United States mean that the chances of an Iranian proxy terrorist activation are rising.

Biting American sanctions are causing unprecedented damage to the Iranian economy. In response, the radical Shi'ite regime has already provided the world with a sample of its ability to order attacks that destabilize the Middle East.

Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen recently launched explosive drones and cruise missiles, targeting Saudi Arabian oil installations and airports. An Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia in Iraq, Katai'b Hizballah, is suspected of firing rockets at U.S. interests, and the Islamic Republican Guards Corps (IRGC) launched mine attacks on civilian oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman. Read more ..

The Race for Drones

Protecting Urban Spaces from Drones

July 13th 2019

Flying Robot

Defense contractor Raytheon Company (Waltham, MA) and autonomous airspace protection provider Black Sage Technologies (Boise, ID) have announced that they are partnering on an integrated drone detection and mitigation system for civil authorities, critical infrastructure, and military organizations around the world.

Designed to defend urban environments like airports and cities against drones, the system integrates Black Sage's sensors, AI, and radio-frequency jammers into Raytheon's Windshear command and control system. The combined system, say the companies, allows a single operator to control a network of sensors and effectors that safely and quickly track, take over, or land drones flying where they shouldn't.


The Weapon's Edge

Anti-drone 'Bullet' Seeks and Destroys Enemy UAVs

May 16th 2019


Drone-oriented defense company AerialX (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) has created a drone "missile" solution designed to knock enemy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) out of the sky.

Described as being a hybrid between a missile and a quadcopter, the DroneBullet looks like a miniature missile but has the maneuverability of a quadcopter. It's designed to lock onto an enemy drone, pursue it, and ultimately crash into it and knock it out of the sky before it reaches its target.

The device is designed to address the ever-growing threat represented by bad actors or organizations using drones for nefarious purposes.

"This is only the beginning," Noam Kenig, AerialX CEO told technology news site Digital Trends . "As drones get more portable and available, there's a real risk of people using them for harm. You need some way to take them down."


Iran's Nukes

Project Midan: Developing and Building an Underground Nuclear Test Site in Iran

April 4th 2019

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

Iran’s Amad Plan called for it to develop and build five nuclear weapons in the first part of the 2000s. 1 It also created an extensive program to construct an underground test site so that Iran would be prepared to test a nuclear explosive by the end of 2003. A portion of the Nuclear Archives seized by Israel in early 2018 contains a variety of information on Iran’s development and implementation of plans for underground nuclear testing, some of which was known before to the IAEA. 2

These findings add more weight to the side of a figurative balance or scale that represents evidence of Iran’s violations of its commitments under the NPT. Under Article II of the NPT, Iran is committed “not to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” Moreover, although Iran has not ratified the CTBT, it did sign the treaty in 1996. Thus, it has an obligation to refrain, in good faith, from acts that would defeat the primary objective of the CTBT, namely the provision, “Each State Party undertakes not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, and to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under its jurisdiction or control.” 3 Read more ..

Kurds on Edge

In Search of a Kurdish No-Fly Zone

February 14th 2019

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

In December, President Donald Trump tweeted out a call for the withdrawal of troops from Syria. In his tweet, he declared that since the Islamic State was defeated, it was time for the U.S. forces to come home. Unfortunately, ISIS then demonstrated that it is alive and well, when a suicide bomber exploded himself in Syria, killing four Americans. The ISIS caliphate may have faded, but an estimated twenty to thirty thousand fighters in Syria and Iraq remain.

Perhaps this bombing was a message to the president from the terror organization. Whatever the motive, if the United States intends to remain a key figure in Middle East, it must be visible in Syria, if not on the ground, then from the air.


The Edge of Terrorism

Wiretaps Reportedly Show Turkish Intel Supported ISIS

February 12th 2019


Turkish prosecution documents show that the regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was up to its eyeballs supporting ISIS, a new report by the Stockholm-based Investigative Journal has found.

Wiretaps show that Turkey's intelligence agency, known by its Turkish acronym MIT, actively conspired to bus ISIS and al-Qaida jihadists across Turkish territory to Syria. It wasn't simply a case of the MIT looking the other way. The jihadis were bused to Syria on buses owned by the MIT, former Today's Zaman editor Abdullah Bozkurt, who wrote the report, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT). At least 15,000 ISIS fighters entered Syria this way, he wrote. Turkish authorities knew but did nothing to stop it. Read more ..

Alliances on Edge

The U.S. Has Wasted Billions of Dollars on Failed Arab Armies

February 5th 2019

Iraqi Forces

The United States has spent 70 years and tens of billions of dollars training Arab militaries—with almost nothing to show for all the effort.

Time and again, America’s Arab allies have failed to live up to martial expectations. The U.S.-trained Egyptian Armed Forces performed miserably in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm. If anything, they did somewhat better under Soviet tutelage in the 1973 October War. The U.S.-trained Iraqi Army collapsed when attacked by a couple thousand Islamic State zealots in 2014. The U.S.-trained Saudi military fell flat on its face when it intervened in Yemen in 2015, and it has become badly stuck there.

If the United States is going to stay involved in the Middle East, it has to rethink the way it engages with Arab militaries. Ambitious dreams of engaged, modernized militaries must be replaced with more realistic plans that build on the real strengths of allies, instead of forcing soldiers into a mold that their societies and culture have left them grossly unsuited for. Otherwise Washington will keep pouring money down the drain—and its Arab allies will keep failing. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Did Panama Ever Reopen Its Investigation Into the Flight 901 Bombing?

January 29th 2019

Runway lights

Several alert, uniformed sentries stood behind defensive barriers in front of the Ahavat Sion synagogue in a tony neighborhood of extreme high-rise hotels and residential buildings, ubiquitous in this prosperous Central American city. The sentries required identification and a stated purpose for the visit, studied my face, and disappeared inside after warning that no exterior photos were allowed for security reasons.

I showed up seven months after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided intelligence information to Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela that he said solved a long-unattributed terror attack on this small country of 4 million that includes 15,000 Jews. The mid-air bombing took down Alas Chiricanas Flight 901 in 1994, killing all 22 commuters and crew aboard, including 12 Jews, and had remained unsolved and uninvestigated for nearly a quarter century. Read more ..

The Iranian Threat

IDF Chief of Staff Confirms "We Dealt Iran a Massive Blow in Syria"

January 13th 2019

Israeli Jet

Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot has revealed the massive scope of Israel's campaign against Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

Speaking to New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, Eizenkot said, “We struck thousands of targets without claiming responsibility or asking for credit.”

Eizenkot conceived a concept of "the war between the wars," a tactic of limited war that slowly grinds down the enemy with minimal risk to its own forces. This strategy involved containing Hamas and concentrating on thwarting Iran, which Eizenkot saw as Israel's chief enemy.

“We operated under a certain threshold until two-and-a-half years ago,” Eisenkot said. “And then we noticed a significant change in Iran’s strategy. Their vision was to have significant influence in Syria by building a force of up to 100,000 Shiite fighters from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. They built intelligence bases and an air force base within each Syrian air base. And they brought civilians in order to indoctrinate them.” Read more ..

Financing the Flames

Another Baby Murderer Receives Fat Salary from the PA

January 9th 2019

Abbas UN

Assem Barghouti suspected of participating in the murder of 4 day old Amiad Ish-Ran and IDF soldiers Staff Sergeant Yuval Mor Yosef and Sergeant Yosef Cohen, and the injury of numerous others, was arrested this morning. 

Get Financing the Flames and read the original Edwin Black investigation on the topic  

According to Palestinian Authority law and regulations, since he was arrested by Israel for his "participation in the struggle against the occupation", Barghouti is entitled to a monthly salary from the PA of 6,000 shekels. According to PA law, his salary will increase over time to 12,000 shekels per month.

Barghouti's starting salary is higher than most other terrorist prisoners, since he has already spent 11 years in prison for past involvement in terrorism. During his first term in prison, Barghouti received an estimated cumulative sum of 447,000 shekels. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Kurdish-led Group Reportedly Considers Releasing ISIS Prisoners

December 21st 2018

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

An immediate fallout from President Trump's decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Syria could be the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) releasing 3,200 ISIS prisoners in its custody.

Turkey views SDF units as terrorists due to their connection with the Marxist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a four-decade war for autonomy from Ankara in eastern Turkey. The People's Protection Units (YPG) that dominate the SDF forces have historical and ideological ties with the PKK. The SDF is not an exclusively Kurdish group and includes Arab and Christian units.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans last week to invade areas of Syria east of the Euphrates River controlled by the SDF.


The Edge of Terrorism

Jihadis Plotting Massive Chemical Attack in London Underground

December 12th 2018

Armed British police 10 Downing Street

Terror chiefs believe a devastating chemical weapons attack in Britain is now ‘more likely than not’, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The chilling assessment follows the interception of ‘chatter’ between senior figures in Islamic State (IS). The terror group has been inspired by the poisoning of former KGB agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, by Russian agents in March.

Before the novichok attack in Salisbury, the Government’s Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) put the risk of a chemical weapons strike by jihadis at 25 per cent.

Security sources say that has now surged to more than 50 per cent. There are particular fears over the potential for a chlorine bomb to be detonated on the London Underground. The threat is considered so severe that terror chiefs secretly met with emergency services bosses a fortnight ago to ‘war game’ their response to such an atrocity. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Israeli Minister warns Hamas Leader’s ‘Days are Numbered’

November 22nd 2018

Hamas head

Any Israeli counterterrorism campaign in Gaza will likely include the ‎targeted assassination of terrorist leaders and possibly the recapturing of the Gaza Strip, two Israeli ministers warned.

Speaking at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday, Housing and Construction Minister Yoav ‎Galant told the audience that after the latest round of violence in ‎Gaza last week, during which the terror group fired some 500 rockets at Israel, Hamas military leader Yahya Sinwar‘s “days are numbered. He won’t end ‎his life in an old-age home.”

Asked if Israel would target him, Galant said that Sinwar “is at a very dramatic ‎junction and has to recalculate his route, whether they [Hamas] want to fight us or keep the quiet.”


The Iranian Threat

Iran Reportedly Building Syrian Military Base for Pro-Regime Militias

November 12th 2018

Iranian Women

With Hizballah's help, Iran has started building another military base to serve pro-Iran militias in southwestern Syria, the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center reports, citing the Syrian opposition website al-Souria Net.

Iran began building the base in Daraa province after the Assad regime took control over the region in July. Hizballah operatives are taking the lead in the construction process, with help from Iraqi Shi'ite militia fighters.

To create space for the military structure, Iran-affiliated terrorists destroyed roughly 650 homes and multiple villages in the Lajat region. Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) oversaw the transfer of weaponry and ammunition to the region. Last month, IRGC officers and local militia commanders reportedly met several times to improve weapon flows and military coordination regarding the new base. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

IDF Destroys Gaza Hamas Terror Tunnel Entering Israel

October 12th 2018

Tunnel  Access Point

Amid growing tension in the South, the IDF destroyed an advanced Hamas terror tunnel that had crossed from the Gaza Strip some 200 meters into Israel.

The tunnel was located through advanced technologies able to pinpoint its exact location – the 15th to be detected and destroyed by the military since October 2017. The tunnel’s destruction is part of an ongoing Israeli effort to destroy all underground terror infrastructures.

After the discovery, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Hamas needs to understand that it will not be “worth their while” to test Israel. Netanyahu, taking part in a reception on the US Naval destroyer the USS Ross making a port call in Ashdod, said that Israel was systematically dismantling the tunneling capability of Hamas. “They must understand that it would not be worth their while to try us.” Read more ..

North Korea's Nukes

North Korea's Kim Jong-Un Agrees To Shut Missile Site

October 3rd 2018

North Korean Rocket

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has agreed to shut one of the country's main missile testing and launch sites.

He signed a pledge to permanently close the Tongchang-ri facility, after talks in Pyongyang with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in.

Both leaders also "agreed on a way to achieve denuclearisation" on the Korean peninsula, Mr Moon said.

Mr Kim said he hoped to "visit Seoul in the near future" - he would be the first North Korean leader to do so.

China has welcomed the outcome of the inter-Korean summit, saying both sides had found "new and important common ground".

The main focus of the summit was the issue of denuclearisation. While the US and North Korea agreed in broad terms earlier this year to work towards that goal, negotiations have stalled.

Pyongyang has now sought to reconfirm its commitment.

Mr Kim expressed a readiness to shut down the Yongbyon nuclear facility - where North Korea is believed to have produced the material used in its nuclear tests - if the US took some reciprocal action. The details of that were not specified. But he went further on Tongchang-ri, saying the engine missile testing and launch facility would be permanently closed "in the presence of experts from relevant nations". Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Russia Says It Will Send Syria Powerful S-300 Antiaircraft Missiles

September 25th 2018

Russian S300 launchers

Russia said Monday it would equip Syria with sophisticated air defense systems, a move that could worsen a rift with Israel by limiting its ability to bomb across its northern border.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow would send Russia’s powerful S-300 ground-to-air missile systems to Syria, a longtime ally, in the next two weeks. Israel, which has repeatedly bombed Iranian targets in Syria, has long opposed such deliveries, and Russia up to now has refrained from supplying the weapons.

But the downing last week of a Russian reconnaissance plane with 15 service members aboard changed the dynamic. The plane was shot down by a Syrian missile, but Russia faulted Israel for the crash because an Israeli fighter jet allegedly had used the Russian plane as a screen against Syria’s air defenses. Read more ..

North Korea's Nukes

North Korea Holds off on Advanced Missiles at Anniversary Parade

September 10th 2018

Un-review troops

orth Korea rolled out some of its latest tanks and marched its best-trained goose-stepping units in a major military parade on Sunday to mark its 70th anniversary, but held back its most advanced missiles and devoted nearly half of the event to civilian efforts to build the domestic economy.

The strong emphasis on the economy underscores leader Kim Jong Un's new strategy of putting economic development front and center. Tens of thousands of North Koreans waving brightly colored plastic bouquets filled Pyongyang's Kim Il Sung Square as the parade began. Residents of Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, trained for months for the anniversary and held up the bouquets to spell out words and slogans that can be seen from the VIP viewing area. Read more ..

Turkey on Edge

Could Turkey Lose Its F135 Maintenance Deal?

August 25th 2018

F-35 Military Plane

A campaign is said to be underway to get the Lockheed Martin F-35’s European engine maintenance center moved from Turkey to Israel. Turkey, a partner in the stealthy fighter program, has been in line to maintain the Pratt & Whitney F135 engines used by European F-35 operators. But now Israeli defense sources say the recent deterioration of ties between Washington and Ankara creates “a completely new reality.”

Some Israeli companies have started unofficial talks with U.S. companies and “key figures” in the Trump administration in an attempt to change the original plan and move the European engine maintenance center to Israel. Israel Aerospace Industries makes F-35 wings and has its own engine maintenance facility. Read more ..

The Russian Threat

Russian Jamming Poses a Growing Threat to U.S. Troops in Syria

August 1st 2018

Russian M17 Helos

American troops deployed in Syria are increasingly having to defend themselves against Russian jamming devices—electronic attacks with potentially lethal consequences, according to U.S. military officials and analysts.

Officers who have experienced the jamming—known as electronic warfare—say it’s no less dangerous than conventional attacks with bombs and artillery. But they also say it’s allowing U.S. troops a rare opportunity to experience Russian technology in the battlefield and figure out how to defend against it.

U.S. Army Col. Brian Sullivan described one recent episode to reporters at the U.S. Defense Department last week. He said his troops had encountered a “congested … electronic warfare environment” while fighting in northeastern Syria during their nine-month deployment, which stretched from September 2017 to May 2018.


Looming War with Iran

Iran's Soleimani: Red Sea No Longer Safe

July 27th 2018

Iranian Admiral Habibullah

Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani said on Thursday that the Red Sea was no longer safe for US vessels, threatening President Donald Trump of launching proxy wars led by Failaq al-Quds against US forces without the interference of Iran’s armed forces.

“You are aware of our power in the region and capability for launching asymmetrical war?” he said.

Speaking from a military base in the suburbs of the Hamdan city, Soleimani was responding to Trump’s tweet addressed to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, in which he threatened the Islamic Republic with actions “the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.” Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

IDF: Hamas Plans to Strike Israel with Exploding Drones

July 17th 2018

Masked Hamas terrorist close-up

As Israel moves more Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to its border with Gaza, Hamas terrorists are moving forward with plans to spread their arson-by-air attacks deeper into the country. Israel held an emergency cabinet session Sunday after another Hamas provocation over the weekend. Israel's military hit dozens of Hamas targets in Gaza after terrorists launched an estimated 200 missiles at Israeli communities on the border.

According to Palestinian media reports, Israel also deployed three drones to strike Palestinians launching incendiary kites and balloons, wounding three terrorists.

"It's important to emphasize that we have no intention of tolerating this – not rockets, not kites, not drones – nothing," warned Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman during the cabinet meeting. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

Israeli Security Services Turn to Data Mining to Anticipate "Unorganized Threats"

June 23rd 2018

Shadowy Computer User

Israel's domestic intelligence agency chief Nadav Argaman last week released sobering figures on the scope of the ongoing terrorist threat facing Israelis. The figures that make it clear that the relative quiet routine in Israeli cities is deceptive, and that this quiet rests completely on counter-terrorist efforts, which almost defy the imagination in their scope.

Communities located on Israel's border region with Gaza have been experiencing frequent Hamas assaults in recent months, from rockets, mortars, and now explosive devices and Molotov cocktails attached to kites and balloons, which are sent over the border into Israel to burn down farmland and forests.

The rest of Israel, however has been mostly free of attacks for some time – though this is not because the terrorists have stopped trying. Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

The F-35’s Combat Debut

June 7th 2018


After 179 months and more than $400 billion in acquisition costs, the F-35 finally made its combat debut—and almost nobody knew.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF), the first international customer to receive the Lockheed Martin-built aircraft, was quietly the first to use it in combat operations, finally revealing so on May 22.

“We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East. It has become part of our operational capabilities,” says IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin. “We are the first to attack using the F-35 in the Middle East and have already attacked twice on different fronts.”

The Israeli F-35 flew in Lebanese airspace, past Beirut, on its way to attack Iranian targets in Syria, according to air force images. It has also conducted operations in another unidentified area. And according to news reports, the Israeli F-35 took part in the attacks on Syria following the downing of an Israeli F-16 by a Syrian surface-to-air SA-5 missile. Read more ..

The Edge of Terrorism

On Facebook: Gaza Protestors Instructed ‘Bring a Knife, Dagger, Handgun,’ Kidnap Israelis, Murder Soldiers

May 17th 2018

Nakba day protests 2011

Two Palestinian Facebook pages and a forum directing rioters in Gaza gave explicit instructions to murder and kidnap Israelis on May 14, the day the U.S. embassy opened in Jerusalem, as well as suggestions on how to accomplish this goal.
It is not clear if Hamas itself was the group sending these messages. What is critical is that Gazans were encouraged to bring weapons to the demonstrations and use these weapons to either murder or capture Israelis. Israeli soldiers may have been facing Palestinians who were using the cover of demonstrating civilians to attempt to break through the border with the goal of murdering and kidnapping Israelis.
The following are the instructions to bring weapons, murder “soldiers and settlers,” and kidnap Israeli citizens for use as bargaining chips to impose conditions on Israel:

Iran's Nukes

Israel Presents Iran Nuclear Files

April 30th 2018

Iran centrifuges

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stepped up pressure on the United States to pull out of a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, holding a primetime address on Israeli TV to present what he called evidence of a secret Iranian nuclear weapons program.

Intelligence experts and diplomats said he did not seem to have presented a “smoking gun” showing that Iran had violated the agreement, although he may have helped make a case on behalf of hawks in the U.S. administration who want to scrap it.

Most of the purported evidence Netanyahu unveiled dated to the period before the 2015 accord was signed, although he said Iran had also kept important files on nuclear technology since then, and continued adding to its “nuclear weapons knowledge”. Tehran dismissed Netanyahu as “the boy who cried wolf”, and called his presentation propaganda. Read more ..

The Trump Era

Coalition Launched 105 Weapons against Syria, None Intercepted

April 16th 2018

Standard Missile 3

As American, British and French ordnance rained down on a trio of Syrian regime targets, Russian air defense systems made no attempt to intercept the weapons, the Pentagon said Saturday.

The attacks may have set the Syrian chemical weapons programs back for “years,” said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, while acknowledging that the three sites were not the totality of the Syrian chemical weapons program.

The strikes involved ordnance from all three of the western allied nations, from both air and naval assets. Overall, 105 weapons were launched by the three nations. The three targeted areas were:

1) The Barzah Research and Development Center, which McKenzie called the “heart” of the chemical weapons program for the Assad regime and is located in “one of the most heavily defended” areas in the world, very close to the capitol of Damascus. This site was targeted by American forces only, with 57 Tomahawk missiles launched by sea and 19 JASSM-ER weapons launched from a pair of B-1 bombers, accompanied by protective fighter coverage. The U.S. assesses this facility was destroyed. 


The Battle for Syria

Russia blames Israel for Attack on Syrian Air Base Likely Over Gas Atrocity

April 9th 2018

Syria fighting injured baby

ussia blamed Israel for a missile attack on a Syria air base on Monday morning, which came after President Bashar al-Assad triggered international outrage by carrying out a suspected chemical attack in a besieged suburb of Damascus.

The US and France both denied attacking the T-4 airfield near Homs, which is close to the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria.

Russia said Israel launched eight missiles, five of which were shot down, from outside of Syrian airspace.

At least 14 fighters, including Iranians, were killed in the early morning strike, according to the monitoring organisation the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Syria also accused Israel of carrying out the strike.


Financing the Flames

Palestinian Authority to Pay $355 Million in 2018 to Terrorists and their Families

March 29th 2018

International Currency 3

The Palestinian Authority has authorized payments of $355 million to convicted terrorists and the families of terrorists as part of their 2018, according to a report.

Get Financing the Flames and read the original Edwin Black investigation on the topic

According to Palestinian Media Watch, the P.A. budget for the Commission of Prisoner Affairs, which pays the salaries of terrorist prisoners and released prisoners, is set at $166 million, of which $158 million will go to terrorists.

Additionally, the budget for the Families of the Martyrs and Wounded Institution is set at $200 million, of which $197 million will go to the families of terrorists.

As such, the total payment by the P.A. for 2018 is set at $355 million, which is 7.47 percent of its operation budget of $4.76 billion in 2018 and some 44 percent of the funding the P.A. hopes to receive in foreign aid this year. Read more ..

The Digital Edge

Defense Agency Moving Classified Data to Amazon's Secret Cloud After Protest Resolved

March 13th 2018

Amazon Box2

For the first time, the Defense Department will begin moving classified data and applications to Amazon Web Services’ Secret Region—the same cloud environment developed for the CIA and intelligence community several years ago.

U.S. Transportation Command—the part of the department responsible for moving troops and equipment around the globe—announced its intent to make use of AWS’ Classified Secret Commercial Cloud Services in December after the company expanded its capabilities and availability to non-intelligence agencies.

The Defense Department’s sole-source decision—a contract awarded without a full and open competition—was protested by Microsoft, which itself offers a variety of cloud services to the federal government. The company withdrew its protest March 8, allowing TRANSCOM to begin migrating data to the AWS Secret Region. In a statement to Nextgov, Microsoft said it withdrew its protest “because the issues involved were resolved” to the company’s satisfaction. Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

Russia's New Nukes Are Similar to a Risky Project the U.S. Abandoned

March 2nd 2018


Part of Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation speech Thursday sounded like something from a 1960s James Bond film. Putin announced his country has developed and recently tested a cruise missile and an underwater drone that are nuclear-powered as well as hypersonic missiles capable of flying at up to 20 times the speed of sound. Putin’s words were punctuated by video and computer graphics the Russian leader used to drive home the point that the weapons would render NATO’s U.S.-led missile defense systems “useless.”

For the West, the prospect of Russia having all three of those new weapons is unsettling to say the least. But the nuclear-powered cruise missile, in particular, harkens back to a weapons system the U.S. Air Force began developing at the height of the cold war and later abandoned. Project Pluto (pdf), an initiative commissioned in 1957, had the goal of developing nuclear-powered engines for use in Supersonic Low-Altitude Missiles (SLAM). The Pentagon tested prototype engines with 500-megawatt reactors at the Department of Energy Nevada Test Site in 1961 and 1964, but soon after had second thoughts about the project.

Scientific American spoke with Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program, about the eerie parallels between Putin’s nuclear-powered missile and Project Pluto—including the Pentagon’s reasons for ending the project, and the lessons about the dangers of nuclear power and weaponry that seem to have been forgotten. Read more ..

Israel Thwarts 20-30 Terrorist Attacks Weekly

February 28th 2018

soldiers pray at wailing wall

The IDF's Central Command has been carrying out massive operations to thwart planned terrorist attacks, particularly in and around Hebron, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced Tuesday.

"We are thwarting 20 to 30 terrorist attacks each week, facing ever-increasing terrorist efforts," Lieberman said. He attributed the successful anti-terror operations to "quality intelligence and a combination of smart deployment of forces and advanced technology," and emphasized that the IDF had prevented "the vast majority of terrorist activity."

Lieberman spoke during a tour of the Jewish quarter of Hebron, where he was accompanied by IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, GOC Central Command Maj. Gen.  Roni Numa, and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai.


Mideast on Edge

Analyzing The Latest Round Of Big Military Moves In The Middle East

February 16th 2018

Israeli tank Operation Protective Edge

There are lessons to be learned from Iran firing a drone into Israeli air space and Israel’s destruction of about half of Syria’s air defense capabilities in response:

  • Iran is testing not only its capabilities abroad, but the reactions of its enemies and its security on the home front
  • Israel is testing as well
  • Russia’s appears unwilling to take on any more military activity than absolutely necessary and is unwilling to confront Iran.
  • The US will stand by Israel, but may not be willing to push Iran out of Syria.


Iran’s goal is to operate militarily across Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon – north of its adversaries Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel. To this end, Iran “helped” move not only ISIS fighters, but tens of thousands of Sunni Arabs, from its westward path. Iran controls militias of more than 80,000 fighters in Syria. Israeli sources say there are 3,000 members of Iran’s IRGC commanding 9,000 Hizb’allah, and 10,000 “violent Shia militias recruited from across the Mideast, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The rest are Syrian.


The Battle for Syria

Assad Is Still Using Chemical Weapons in Syria

February 10th 2018

Syria fighting injured baby

UN investigators are looking into reports the Syrian regime used chemical weapons on at least two rebel-held towns in recent days. The reports mark at least the sixth time the regime of President Bashar Assad has used such weapons against civilian population centers.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said Tuesday it had received multiple reports “that bombs allegedly containing weaponized chlorine have been used in the town of Saraqeb in Idlib and Douma in eastern Ghouta.” The allegation is likely to further increase tensions between the U.S. and Russia at the UN Security Council, where both countries are permanent, veto-wielding members. The U.S. complains that Russia, which backs the Assad regime, blocks any meaningful action against the Syrian leader’s use of internationally prohibited weapons.


The Edge of Terrorism

Why the Muslim Brotherhood Declared U.S. an Enemy State

January 16th 2018


In the first official statement of its kind, the Muslim Brotherhood announced last month that it now regards the United States of America as an enemy, following President Trump's decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. The statement was published on the Brotherhood's Arabic language website, where it often publishes more incendiary rhetoric.

"Jerusalem is an Islamic and Arab land, for which we make blood, freedom and life, and we fight every aggressor and every supporter of aggression," the statement said.

It called for a unified Islamist and Palestinian response "to ignite an uprising throughout the Islamic world against the Zionist occupation and the American administration in support of the occupation and against the rights and freedoms of the peoples." Read more ..

The Weapon's Edge

India May Proceed with $500 Million Israeli Spike Missile

January 10th 2018

Iron Dome sunset

Months after it decided to scrap a deal to acquire the weapons from an Israeli firm, India is considering purchase of Spike anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) from Israel via the government-to-government (G-to-G) route, PTI reported.

Interestingly, the latest development comes a week before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit India. It is expected that the two countries may deliberate on finding ways to further deepen the already close defence ties between India and Israel during his talks with Indian leaders in New Delhi.

As per the original proposal, India had planned to procure the ATGMs for the Army at a cost of USD 500 million. According to a PTI report, the government is now examining the possibility of purchasing the missiles from Israel through the G-to-G route in the same manner it sealed the deal for procuring 36 Rafale jets from France. Read more ..

The Battle for Syria

Russia Says Its Syria Bases Beat Back an Attack by 13 Drones

January 9th 2018

Flying Robot

The main Russian air and naval bases in Syria beat back an attack by 13 armed drones over the weekend, the Russian Ministry of Defense said on Monday.

The small drones were shot down before they caused any damage and there were no casualties, according to a statement on the military’s Facebook page.

But the attack could indicate that militants opposed to the government of President Bashar al-Assad were stepping up the violence directed against the Russian military, which intervened in September 2015 to prop up the beleaguered Syrian government, then its main ally in the Middle East.

Two Russian military personnel died in a mortar attack against the Hmeimim air base on Dec. 31, the military announced last week.


Israel on Edge

Friday With IDF Troops Facing Palestinian Rioters On Gaza Border

January 1st 2018

Israeli Commandoes

As we travel towards the border fence, we see a pillar of thick black smoke rising to the heavens. "They're burning tires," the scout tells me as he suppresses a smile. "Burning tires look great on camera."

He has been serving in this area for years, and he has already seen it all. The Palestinian protests that erupted following US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital no longer surprise him. They take place, he tells me, all days of the week, but on Fridays after prayers in the mosques, Hamas and Islamic Jihad make special efforts to send young Gazans to protest along the border fence.

We stop behind an earthen mound adjacent to the border fence. Behind it lie Golani and Duvdevan soldiers, divided into small groups, careful not to raise their heads. The Palestinian protesters are hurling glass marbles at them using slingshots. If such marbles hit the head or other sensitive parts of the body, they could kill. There are only 30 to 40 meters separating the soldiers and the protesters in some places. At this distance, marbles are as dangerous as a bullet, perhaps even more so. Read more ..

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