Playing with Fire: Why Private Gulf Financing for Syria’s Extremist Rebels Risks Igniting Sectarian Conflict at Home
Playing with Fire: Why Private Gulf Financing for Syria’s Extremist Rebels Risks Igniting Sectarian Conflict at Home
Source: Brookings Institution
In this new Saban Center analysis paper, Elizabeth Dickinson examines why private financing by Gulf donors for Syria’s extremist rebels risks igniting sectarian conflict in Gulf countries. Over the last two and a half years, Kuwait has emerged as a financing and organizational hub for charities and individuals supporting Syria’s myriad rebel groups. These donors have taken advantage of Kuwait’s unique freedom of association and its relatively weak financial rules to channel money to some of the estimated 1,000 rebel brigades now fighting against Syrian president Bashar al-Asad.
The paper charts how individual donors in the Gulf encouraged the founding of armed groups, helped to shape the ideological and at times extremist agendas of rebel brigades, and contributed to the fracturing of the military opposition. From the early days of the Syrian uprising, Kuwait-based donors—including one group currently under U.S. sanction for terrorist financing—began to pressure Syrians to take up arms. The new brigades often adopted the ideological outlook of their donors. As the war dragged on and the civilian death toll rose, the path toward extremism became self-reinforcing. Today, there is evidence that Kuwaiti donors have backed rebels who have committed atrocities and who are either directly linked to al Qaeda or cooperate with its affiliated brigades on the ground.
Active Shooter in a House of Worship (PDF)
Source: National Disaster Interfaiths Network
Recent shootings at houses of worship and religious schools have led religious leaders to question wha t they can do to protect their congregations. This emerging need poses a challenge to religious leaders who want to provide safety without sacrificing the welcoming atmosphere of their houses of worship. These incidents may occur at any time, during virtually any size gathering or age range of people on the premises; they may be hate crimes, terrorist acts, acts of retribution, or simply random violence. Nevertheless, religious leaders can take steps to reduce the likelihood and the impact of an active shooter in a house of worship, religious school or other religious events, sites or facilities.
Toward Integrated DoD Biosurveillance: Assessment and Opportunities
Source: RAND Corporation
In the context of the 2012 National Strategy for Biosurveillance, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asked the Department of Defense (DoD) to review its biosurveillance programs, prioritize missions and desired outcomes, evaluate how DoD programs contribute to these, and assess the appropriateness and stability of the department’s funding system for biosurveillance. DoD sought external analytic support through the RAND Arroyo Center. In response to the questions posed by OMB request, this report finds the following:
- Current DoD biosurveillance supports three strategic missions. Based mostly on existing statute, the highest-priority mission is force health protection, followed by biological weapons defense and global health security.
- Guidance issued by the White House on June 27, 2013, specified priorities for planning fiscal year 2015 budgets; it includes an explicit global health security priority, which strengthens the case for this as a key DoD biosurveillance strategic mission.
- DoD biosurveillance also supports four desired outcomes: early warning and early detection, situational awareness, better decision making at all levels, and forecast of impacts.
- Programs and measures that address priority missions — force health protection in particular — and desired outcomes should be prioritized over those that do not do so.
- More near-real-time analysis and better internal and external integration could enhance the performance and value of the biosurveillance enterprise.
- Improvements are needed in key enablers, including explicit doctrine/policy, efficient organization and governance, and increased staffing and improved facilities for the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC).
- AFHSC has requested additional funding to fully implement its current responsibilities under the 2012 Memorandum of Understanding between the Assistant Secretaries of Defense for Health Affairs and for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs. Additional responsibilities for coordinating the entire DoD biosurveillance enterprise would need concomitant resourcing.
- There is not a single, unified funding system for the DoD biosurveillance enterprise; the multiple current funding systems would likely benefit from an organizing mechanism with the authority to manage and control funds to meet enterprise goals.
Active shooters: is law enforcement ready for a Mumbai style attack? (PDF)
Source: Naval Postgraduate School
Between April 16, 2007, and December 14, 20 12, the United States has seen 25 mass shootings, seven of which occurred in 2012. A report by United States Department of Homeland Security, in 2009, suggested that the United States will be the target of a terrorist act that could cause a high number of casualties.
The November 26, 2008, attack on Mumbai is a transparent example of how determined terrorists, trained to die fighting, can bring a large metropolitan city to its knees. It is entirely probable that Mumbai – type attacks could occur in the United States. Since the local law enforcement respond to attacks in progress, any active shooter event would be handled by the local jurisdiction. Many law enforcement agencies have begun to incorporate tactical plans to respond to Mumbai – type terrorist a ttacks.
This thesis focused on police preparedness of select large metropolitan law enforcement agencies for potential Mumbai – type terrorist attacks. A comparative analysis of these police agencies was conducted, which showed that the frequency of trainin g was found to be varying and inadequate by these agencies. A similar concern was that none of the agencies had equipped all the police officers with rifles, which were deemed critical to engage well – equipped active shooters.
It is the conclusion of the thesis that gaps in preparedness exist and law enforcement organizations have room for improvement. It was also concluded that agencies need to enhance communication capability between neighboring jurisdictions and focus on triage of the victims during t he early stages of attacks when medical personnel would be unable to approach.
Algeria: Current Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
U.S.-Algerian ties have grown over the past decade as the United States has come to view Algeria as a key partner in countering Al Qaeda-linked groups in North and West Africa. Algeria is also a significant source of petroleum for the United States and of natural gas for Europe, and its energy sector is a destination for U.S. investment. Congress appropriates and oversees small amounts of foreign aid and reviews notifications of arms sales. Algerian security forces also benefit from U.S. cooperation programs. Obama Administration officials have stated a desire to deepen and broaden bilateral ties, including in the aftermath of a four-day terrorist hostage seizure at a natural gas compound in southeastern Algeria in January 2013, in which three Americans were killed. The attack highlighted the challenges the United States faces in advancing and protecting its interests in an increasingly volatile region.
Trends and Developments in Lone Wolf Terrorism in the Western World: An Analysis of Terrorist Attacks and Attempted Attacks by Islamic Extremists
Trends and Developments in Lone Wolf Terrorism in the Western World: An Analysis of Terrorist Attacks and Attempted Attacks by Islamic Extremists (PDF)
Source: International Institute for Counter-Terrorism
This paper reviews current literature on the recent and growing phenomenon of lone wolf terrorism. It aims to add data to this subject by analyzing trends and developments using a dataset created using RAND, START, and LexisNexis Academic databases. Analysis of the dataset clarifies five (5) finding trends:
1 . increased number of countries targeted by lone wolf terrorists,
2 . increased number of fatalities and injuries caused by lone wolves,
3 . increased success rate of United States law enforcement to apprehend lone wolves before they can carry out their attacks,
4 . high prevalence and success rate of loners over Pantucci’s other three types of lone wolf terrorists, and
5 . increased targeting of military personnel.
To complement these findings, five case studies from the dataset are examined in – depth . These were chosen for their significance in terms of high rates of fatality or injury. The case studies are shown to be consistent with previous research themes, including psychopathology, social ineptitude, the facilitating role of the Internet, and a combined motivation of personal grievances and broader radical Islamic goals in the process of Islamic self – radicalization.
Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the ‘War on Terror’ (PDF)
Source: Institute on Medicine as a Profession and Open Society Institute (via Harvard Law School)
the task Force has determined that actions taken by the U.s. government immediately following 9/11 included three key elements affecting the role of health professionals in detention centers:
1. The declaration that as part of a “war on terror,” individuals captured and detained in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere were “unlawful combatants” who did not qualify as prisoners of war under the geneva conventions. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Justice approved of interrogation methods recognized domestically and internationally as constituting torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
2. The DoD and CIA’s development of internal mechanisms to direct the participation of military and intelligence-agency physicians and psychologists in abusive interrogation and breaking of hunger strikes. Although the involvement of health professionals in human rights violations against detainees progressed differently in the military and the CIA, both facilitated that involvement in similar ways, including undermining health professionals’ allegiances to established principles of professional ethics and conduct through reinterpretation of those principles.
3. The secrecy surrounding detention policies that prevailed until 2004– 2005, when leaked documents began to reveal those policies. secrecy allowed the unlawful and unethical interrogation and mistreatment of detainees to proceed unfettered by established ethical principles and standards of conduct as well as societal, professional, and nongovernmental commentary and legal review.
These key elements, as well as the task Force’s recommendations for remediating the participation of health professionals in detainee torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, are summarized below and addressed in detail in the body of this report.
Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security, and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The United States and its partner countries are reducing military involvement in Afghanistan as Afghan security forces assume lead security responsibility throughout the country. The current international security mission will terminate at the end of 2014 and likely transition to a far smaller mission consisting mostly of training and mentoring the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF). The number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which peaked at about 100,000 in June 2011, was reduced to a “pre-surge” level of about 66,000 in September 2012, and is currently about 52,000. That number will fall to 34,000 by February 2014. The size of the “residual force” that will likely remain in Afghanistan after 2014 might be announced later in 2013, with options centering on about 8,000-12,000 U.S. trainers and counterterrorism forces, assisted by about 5,000 partner forces performing similar missions. The U.S. troops that remain after 2014 would do so under a U.S.-Afghanistan security agreement that is under negotiation. Fearing instability after 2014, some ethnic and political faction leaders are reviving th eir militia forces should the international drawdown lead to a major Taliban push to retake power. The Administration remains concerned that Afghan stability after 2014 is at risk from weak and corrupt Afghan governance and insurgent safe havens in Pakistan. Among efforts to promote effective and transparent Afghan governance, U.S. officials are attempting to ensure that the next presidential election, scheduled for April 5, 2014, will be devoid of the fraud that plagued Afghanistan’s elections in 2009 and 2010. Other U.S. and partner country anti-corruption efforts in Afghanistan have yielded few concrete results. An unexpected potential benefit to stability could come from a negotiated settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban and other insurgent groups. Negotiations have been sporadic, but U.S.-Taliban discussions that were expected to begin after the Taliban opened a political office in Qatar in June 2013 did not materialize. Afghanistan’s minorities and women’s groups fear that a settlement might produce compromises with the Taliban that erode human rights and ethnic power-sharing.
The United States and other donors continue to fund development projects while increasingly delegating project implementation to the Afghan government. U.S. officials assert that Afghanistan might be able to exploit vast mineral and agricultural resources, as well as its potentially significant hydrocarbon resources, to prevent a severe economic downturn as international donors scale back their involvement, U.S. officials also seek greater Afghan integration into regional trade and investment patterns as part of a “New Silk Road.” Persuading Afghanistan’s neighbors, particularly Pakistan, to support Afghanistan’s stability has been a focus of U.S. policy since 2009, but has had modest success.
Even if these economic efforts succeed, Afghanistan will likely remain dependent on foreign aid indefinitely. Through the end of FY2013, the United States has provided nearly $93 billion in assistance to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, of which more than $56 billion has been to equip and train Afghan forces. The aid request for FY2014 is over $10 billion, including $7.7 billion to train and equip the ANSF. Administration officials have said that economic aid requests for Afghanistan are likely to continue at current levels through at least FY2017. See CRS Report RS21922, Afghanistan: Politics, Elections, and Government Performance, by Kenneth Katzman.
Comparing Homeland Security Risks Using a Deliberative Risk Ranking Methodology
Source: RAND Corporation
Managing homeland security risks involves balancing concerns about numerous types of accidents, disasters, and terrorist attacks. These risks can vary greatly in kind and consequence, and as a result are perceived differently. How people perceive the risks around them influences the choices they make about activities to pursue, opportunities to take, and situations to avoid. Reliably capturing these choices in risk management is a challenging example of comparative risk assessment. The National Academy of Sciences review of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) risk analysis identifies developing methods of comparative risk assessment as an analytic priority for homeland security planning and analysis.
The Deliberative Method for Ranking Risks incorporates recommendations from the empirical literature on risk perceptions into both the description of the risks and the process of eliciting preferences from individuals and groups. It has been empirically validated with the participation of hundreds of citizens, risk managers, and policy makers in the context of managing risks to health, safety, and the environment. However, these methods have not as of yet been used in addressing the challenge of managing natural disaster and terrorism hazards.
Steps in this effort include first identifying the set of attributes that must be covered when describing terrorism and disaster hazards in a comprehensive manner, then developing concise summaries of existing knowledge of how the hazards in a unique comparative dataset of a broad set of homeland security risks. Using these materials, the study elicits relative concerns about the hazards that are being managed. The relative concerns about hazards provide a starting point for prioritizing solutions for reducing risks to homeland security.
This research presents individuals’ relative concerns about homeland security hazards and the attributes which influence those concerns. The consistency and agreement of the rankings, as well as the individual satisfaction with the process and results, suggest that the deliberative method for ranking risks can be appropriately applied in the homeland security domain.
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing: Federal Aggravated Identity Theft (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Aggravated identity theft is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for two years or by imprisonment for five years if it relates to a terrorism offense. At least thus far, the government has rarely prosecuted the five-year terrorism form of the offense. The two-year offense occurs when an individual knowingly possesses, uses, or transfers the means of identification of another person, without lawful authority to do so, during and in relation to one of more than 60 predicate federal felony offenses (18 U.S.C. 1028A). Section 1028A has the effect of establishing a mandatory minimum sentence for those predicate felony offenses, when they involve identity theft.
A sentencing court has the discretion not to “stack” or pancake multiple aggravated identity theft counts and, as with other mandatory minimums, may impose a sentence of less than the mandatory minimum at the request of the prosecution based on the defendant’s substantial assistance.
More than half of the judges responding to a United States Sentence Commission survey felt the two-year mandatory minimum penalty was generally appropriate. The Commission’s report on mandatory minimum sentencing statutes is mildly complimentary of the provision.
US: Reassess Targeted Killings in Yemen
Source: Human Rights Watch
United States targeted airstrikes against alleged terrorists in Yemen have killed civilians in violation of international law, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The strikes, often using armed drones, are creating a public backlash that undermines US efforts against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The 102-page report, “‘Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda’: The Civilian Cost of US Targeted Killings in Yemen,”examines six US targeted killings in Yemen, one from 2009 and the rest from 2012-2013. Two of the attacks killed civilians indiscriminately in clear violation of the laws of war; the others may have targeted people who were not legitimate military objectives or caused disproportionate civilian deaths.
Despite Its Siren Song, High-Value Targeting Doesn’t Fit All: Matching Interdiction Patterns to Specific Narcoterrorism and Organized-Crime Contexts
Over the past decade, decapitation, particularly high-value targeting (HVT), has come into vogue and is being increasingly applied in a variety of counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and anti-organized crime settings around the world. There are several reasons for this widespread adoption of high-value targeting as a dominant interdiction pattern.
First, there is a long tradition of interdiction focused on high-value targeting in counternarcotics efforts in Latin America, which features some key successes, such as those against the Medellín and Cali cartels. Second, over the past decade, HVT delivered some crucial successes in counterterrorism efforts – such as against al Qaeda in Iraq, where the HVT policy was crucially supplemented by mobilizing Sunni tribes to break with Al Qaeda; and in Pakistan against al Qaeda Core. In Pakistan, HVT has been conducted both by controversial bombings, including from unnamed platforms, and to a lesser extent by land-based interdiction teams against presumed high-value al Qaeda and associated militant group operatives. Whatever its complex side-effects in terms of civilian casualties, the growth of anti-Americanism among Pakistanis, and an overall worsening of U.S.-Pakistan relations, these interdiction operations dramatically degraded the capabilities of al Qaeda’s original and most lethal core that had the greatest capacity to conduct terrorism with global reach and hit far-away targets. There are other historic antecedents and renowned successes of the use of high-value targeting by specialized interdiction units (SIUs) in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency contexts, such as the capture of Abimael Guzmán, the leader of the Shining Path. His capture critically contributed to the demise of a vicious and potent Communist insurgency in Peru.
“High-value targeting,” though not always truly focused on top-level operatives, has also been enthusiastically embraced by the United States in Yemen and Somalia for striking presumed al Qaeda or Shabab targets – the HVT tactic itself often elevated to the level of strategy in the absence of a broader policy approach.
Third, the mantra of fighting narcoterrorism by eradicating illicit crops turned out to be highly problematic. Eradication did not deliver on its siren song of bankrupting militants; counterproductively, it strengthened the bonds between local populations and militants and undermined intelligence-gathering and hearts-and-minds efforts. Interdiction thus came to look as a far more appealing alternative.
Fourth, the bonanza of intercepts of communications among targeted criminals and militants that signal intelligence has come to provide over the past decade in Colombia, Mexico, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world has also strongly privileged the focus and predominance of HVT.
Payments to support victims of overseas terrorism
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia
Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently announced that victims of past overseas terrorist attacks would be entitled to an Australian Victim of Terrorism Overseas Payment (AVTOP), worth up to $75,000. The AVTOP was created in 2012 under the Gillard Government. Many of those affected by previous attacks have received some form of assistance from the Australian Government including coverage of medical costs and counselling/rehabilitation—the AVTOP provides a new formal mechanism for delivering monetary assistance. While there is strong community support for the scheme, a number of issues have been raised in regards to its design.
How the payment works The AVTOP is a one-off, lump-sum payment intended to provide financial assistance to those affected by a ‘declared overseas terrorist act’. The following events have been declared as overseas terrorist acts under the Social Security Act 1991:
ï· 2001 September 11 attacks in the United States ï· 2002 bombings in Bali, Indonesia ï· 2005 bombings in Bali, Indonesia ï· 2005 bombings in London, United Kingdom ï· 2006 bombings in Dahab, Egypt ï· 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India ï· 2009 hotel bombings in Jakarta, Indonesia and ï· 2013 armed assault on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
Under the Social Security Act, to qualify for an AVTOP, an individual must have been in the place where the terrorist attack occurred and have been harmed as a direct result (a primary victim), or be a close family member of a person who died as a result of the terrorist act within two years of the attack occurring (a secondary victim). Close relatives of those involved in the commission of the attack cannot qualify for the payment. To qualify, an individual must be a permanent Australian resident on the day the attack occurred. The Attorney-General can make a determination so that certain non-residents may qualify—for example, expatriate Australian citizens resident at the site of the attack.
While the maximum amount of the payment is $75,000 (based on the amount available under state and territory victims of crime schemes), lesser amounts may be paid. Amounts are determined according to factors such as the extent of injuries, the impact of the attack on primary and secondary victims’ lives and the circumstances in which injuries or death occurred (such as whether victims ignored travel advice from the Australian Government on the high risk of a terrorist attack in the place the attack occurred).
The Effectiveness of Drone Strikes in Counterinsurgency and Counterterrorism Campaigns
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
The United States increasingly relies on unmanned aerial vehicles to target insurgent and terrorist groups around the world. This monograph analyzes the available research and evidence that assesses the political and military consequences of drone strikes. It is not clear if drone strikes have degraded their targets, or that they kill enough civilians to create sizable public backlashes against the United States. Drones are a politically and militarily attractive way to counter insurgents and terrorists, but, paradoxically, this may lead to their use in situations where they are less likely to be effective and where they are difficult to predict consequences.
Summary of the Reengagement of Detainees Formerly Held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (PDF)
Source: Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Based on trends identified during the past ten years, we assess that if additional detainees are transferred without conditions from GTMO, some will reengage in terrorist or insurtent activities. Transfers to countries with ongoing conflicts and internal instability as well as active recruitment by insurgent and terrorist organizations post a particular problem.
Former GTMO detainees routinely communicate with each other,families of other former detainees, and previous associates who are members of terrorist organizations. The reasons for communication span from the mundane (reminiscing about shared experiences) to the nefarious (planning terrorist operations). We assess that some GTMO detainees transferred in the future also will communicate with other former GTMO detainees and persons in terrorist organizations. We do not consider mere communication with individuals or organizations — including other former GTMO detainees — an indicator of reengagement. Rather, the motives, intentions, and purposes of each communication are taken into account when assessing whether the individual has reengaged.
Emergency Preparedness for Disasters and Crises in the Hotel Industry
Source: Sage Open
Safety and security are the most important issues to tourist while traveling and the first aspect they consider is to be protected from hazards. Emergency planning and preparedness for a crisis are the most significant components of dealing with disasters. Hospitality practitioners noticed a rising number of natural and man-made crises that harm the hospitality industry, regarding its vulnerability to crisis and internal and external hazards. By using secondary data, this study aims to shed some light on this issue, contributing to knowledge and awareness on emergency preparedness for the hospitality industry. Moreover, the study aims to explain the management’s commitment to adopt, develop, and update emergency plans. The results of this study explain that tourism as an international mobile industry must respond to internal and external hazards such as disease movement and terrorist attacks. Marketing safety is important to promote hotels and tourist destinations to the guests and holiday advisors. Hotels have a long history of being a soft target for terrorist attacks, as can be seen in several accidents that have shaken the hotel industry in the past few decades. Hotels invest a lot to install protective techniques, but terrorists are becoming more organized. Practitioners propose disaster management frameworks using several measurements. Recovery from crisis and learning help business retention that minimizes negative impacts and prevent losses. Finally, evaluation and feedback are very important to overcome the hazards and return to normal, as well as adopting new ideas to deal with emergencies. Single- and double-loop organizational learning should benefit proactive preparedness.
New Report: Yemen’s Stability Threatened
Source: Chatham House
Yemen’s political transition, which has been held up as a potential model for conflict-affected states, is due to come to an end with a round of elections scheduled for 2014. Backers of the country’s peace plan believe that it will usher in a new, more equitable and peaceful era for Yemen.
But new research from Chatham House’s Yemen Forum shows that the structure of the political economy built up under former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has not been significantly affected by the transition, and that the same elite actors who set the country on a path to economic ruin are likely to prevail after the elections.
A new report, Yemen: Corruption, Capital Flight and Global Drivers of Conflict, argues that international factors, including capital flight to tax havens, play a role in encouraging corruption and developmental dysfunction in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country. Similar drivers are likely to play a role in blocking reform in the future.
Yemen was the world’s fifth largest source of illicit capital flows among Least Developed Countries between 1990 and 2008, with $12bn leaving the country. For every dollar spent on aid during that period, $2.7 left Yemen illegally, with politicians routinely using private banking channels to transfer their money into safer, more profitable jurisdictions outside Yemen, often in donor states.
The chronic problem of capital flight links Yemen to a wider global governance agenda over tax havens (secrecy jurisdictions), an issue that has been steadily rising in importance on the G8 and OECD policy agendas. While Yemen’s elites are able to systematically extract rents from oil, smuggling and aid, and siphon them out of the country, they have little or no incentive to improve the domestic situation, and tax revenues that are needed to fund Yemen’s development are undermined.
Meanwhile, security interests have shaped the strategy of Western and Gulf states in Yemen in the past decade, in which military aid to the Saleh regime has grown much more rapidly than development aid. However, short-term counter-terrorism priorities are not always consistent with domestic perceptions of political legitimacy, and the US drone strategy – supported by President Hadi – risks undermining Yemen’s stability in the long term.
All too often the focus on ‘fragile states’ revolves around domestic dynamics and ignores the international factors that incentivize personal enrichment at the cost of good governance. The report recommends that Western donors widen the scope of their political economy analysis to address the interaction between domestic and international factors that cause corruption in Yemen, and that the role of secrecy jurisdictions should be included in the revised Millennium Development Goals, beyond 2015.