Tag Archives: AQAP

Into the fire we walk ourselves

Are we in a state where we cannot tell what actually matters? That is the question that I wonder upon. Now, we all have different states of focus, that has always been a given. Some are linked to what we desire, some to what we fear. The issue goes beyond that as the media fuels one or the other, yet they seem to do so for the direct intent of making us look where they want us to look. In Australia there are the morning shows with Channel 7 and 9. In the UK there is the breakfast show and other nations have similar views. It is when we see BBC News, the Dutch NOS, Swedish RTL as well as ABC in Australia. They tend to focus on actual news, yet often very national as one could accept. On a larger scale there is BBC World News, Al Jazeera (to some extent), whilst Fox News and CNN are no longer quality players. So where are we getting the news from, the news that matters? It seems that either we start looking for it or we lose out.

Should I care?

It is the question many might ask themselves, which is fair enough. For many we all have national needs, we have national questions and as those are satisfied we do not look further than that. Many have this setting. Some don’t even have the national curiosity and that is fine, it is whatever you choose. Yet, I have travelled for too long, to too many places. So I tend to look further. I still miss the life I had in Sweden, which like Australia is an amazing place to be in (the weather is less warm though). So when I got confronted with some news, I wondered how others saw it. What is interesting is that none of them gave any clear levels of attention to it.

The news, (at http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/01/11/Saudi-Arabia-intercepts-a-ballistic-missile-launched-by-Houthis-at-Najran.html) gives part of what does require attention. Al Jazeera covered it, so did Reuters and BBC as well as Australia’s ABC looked at it, yet the rest? You see, the issue is larger than you think. In Yemen, in the Najran area a ballistic missile was intercepted. Now this is not that big a story, but the missile might have been ready to be fired on Riyadh, like the missile fired a month ago. Is this coming into focus? Missiles that are fired on the civilian population of the capital of Saudi Arabia! This is a threshold that should have been regarded as unacceptable; it is globally ignored by others. In that same setting we see the mention from Al Arabia that Houthi leader Saleh al-Samad is also threatening to threaten international navigation in the Red Sea, which will impact the Suez Canal, which in turn changes the profit margins for all cargo bound to Europe for the most from Asia. So is it now more important? That is the dangerous question but not the most important one. You see, as the Houthi militias have gained access to the Qaher M2 missile, the game is no longer the same. These cuddly little toys pack a punch and have the ability to reap plenty of souls in Riyadh if it hits the right structure. A tactic that has been old and condemned for the longest of times, yet for the most, the west tends to focus on Yemen and cholera (which is really bad too). Over the last year 50,000 children died of disease and starvation, which is of course its own atrocity, no one denies that, yet what was the foundation? President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi was trying to get some level of union in Yemen between factions (which is an achievement) in a landscape that was under threat by Houthi militias and AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Things went from bad to worse and soon thereafter the deposed Yemen leader started to undo what happened from Saudi Arabia.

Now, I have skipped a few iterations, mainly because it is not part of the issue. The issue is the missiles. Now I am not stating that the Saudi’s are beyond some blame. Civilians have been hit in Yemen; yet is that from intentional events? Are they (as stated by the Saudi government) ‘technical mistakes‘? The fact is that there is a civil war going on and EVERY civil war in history came with civilian casualties, more often than not from human or technical error. The Houthi events are different as they are intentionally targeting a civilian population in Riyadh and are also intentionally targeting all commercial options that use the Red Sea as a route to get to where they have always been travelling. The Houthi’s are in a desperate setting, one that they themselves created and in this regard, we see very little coverage, too little in fact, mainly because this is a powder keg waiting to go wrong. If even one missile hits Saudi Arabia, the lives of every Yemeni could be regarded as forfeit. The Saudi population would demand reprisals unlike any we have seen for decades and in this the Saudi pride will not be content with mere diplomatic discussions, at that point serious skin is in the game and if the world is lucky only 100,000 will die of starvation and disease in 2018. The Syrian war has led to 400,000 casualties in 2012-2016, this Houthi insurrection could spell a lot more and the dangers are that the extremists tend to get profit out of such situations. In fact here is no evidence that they are not already dipping their toes in the Yemeni armouries and as such there would be a dangerous escalation if some of these weapons get transported to other extremist zones. Now, I am trying to steer clear of the Iranian-Houthi rebel links. The issue is that I did not read or inspect the evidence. Also, we should consider that the US has had tainted glasses for the longest of times regarding Iran and they have lost massive credibility ever since the Saddam Hussein WMD presentation. In this U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell with his silver briefcase destroyed credibility for decades to come. In this Colonel Turki al-Maliki has a much easier job. The evidence that the Houthi rebels are firing missiles on the Saudi civilian population has been clearly established on an international level.

So into the fire we might go!

You see, this keg needs one missile to hit target and the flames start. If any other nation can verify that Iran was involved, Iran will have no options left because at that point it is not impossible that Israel will get the keys to the German and French Squadrons to use those planes for bombing Iran as well, at that point WW3 will be a factual situation. The Saudi air force will not only get the blessing of the Arabian league nations to stop Iran, it will get its ammunition at cost price from several sides. At that point, Hamas and Hezbollah will go into hiding so deep that we will forget that they exist, but Israel will not. Perhaps it might be a good thing, as the extremist groups are dealt with, those who think that extremism is a good thing will decide to hide and wait for the fires to stop. Only at that point will they realise that as Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and AQAP are gone that all eyes will move on them. You see these people feel good as extremists because no one is taking notice, when they become the limelight, they will ‘suddenly’ prefer a diplomatic path, one where they have no valid claims and no standing whatsoever.

It is an optional resolution to a bad situation for all other players.

And there is a second side to all this that I have not seen any publications on. The Burkan-2 which was fired at Riyadh airport is also an issue in another direction. It is related to the Scud, it comes from Yemen. So when we consider that the first recorded launch was on 22nd July 2017, how did the Houthi’s get this knowledge? This is not something you put in a clip. You need a mobile launch platform, aiming skills, ballistic knowledge that does not come with a bottle of mineral water. These skills are taught and trained. Someone gave them access and I feel strongly that these skills were not all in Yemen. There is a taskmaster, a coach in that equation and it seems to me that this is also the Houthi militants Achilles heel, because if these skilled are dealt with (the people who have them), that this weapon gets to be diminished to an ugly truck with a couple of steel cigars on top.

 

 

 

 

So when we see militia rebels, we do not think ‘academics’, we tend to think that they are more likely to be members of the ‘dyslexic-R-us‘ foundation (عسر القراءة، هي، لنا), not the qualified electronic user experts that they need to be, so someone is getting them trained. The fact that these missiles were completed after the insurrection began is equally a worry. With the economy in the basement as the one in Yemen is supposed to be, someone is fuelling funds and knowledge to these militants and when did you see any reliable news on that level?

So we are thrust into the fire in some method where we are left unaware on how large some issues have become and for anyone thinking it is not on their turf.

 

 

Think again!

Because those elements with those level of skills will go where ever the money is taking them. In WW2 Russia and the US saw that and took the scientists as quickly as possible. Now we seem to skip that part and as we see extremist move from theatre to theatre there will be a shift of activity as the skill levels are placed in other places where the going was slow, they become catalysts of additional escalations. We can argue whether Iran is playing that card or not, but there is a longer term danger and the people are left unaware of those events. I think that this is the second danger that both Saudi Arabia and Israel face. Not on who is attacking them, but on the realisation that it is happening whilst these extremists have been given additional skill levels, some they would never have had. That evidence can be seen when we consider the Hamas rockets, or as it goes the ISIS players who replaced Hamas in Gaza. When the missile hit rate goes from 0.2% to 2%, there will be a much larger escalation, as well as the additional danger that the people in the state of Israel will face. As the knowledge gets deeper into Syria, what will happen after that? Will Iran be shown to be the player behind the screen or will Saudi Arabia merely face 3-4 additional factions, who when much better trained become a much larger issue for Saudi Arabia. There is a much larger game in play and the fact that the people are left in the dark to a much larger degree is a much bigger issue than you (and I) think it is. It is still the beginning of 2018 and already we see: “Thirteen attack drones were launched against the Khmeimim air base and a naval facility in the city of Tartus on Syria’s western coast, the Russian defence ministry said“, so who was behind that? “the ballistic missile attack by Houthi militia on the city of Najran” is one we looked at as well as “The Syrian Arab Army has discovered another massive Islamic State weapons stockpile that was abandoned by the terrorist group“, the last mention was merely shoulder based rocket launchers (M72 LAW, RPG). Now the learning curve of that one is low. The instructions are on the launcher and as it is used by the US infantry, it should be regarded as close to idiot proof, yet we also see the alleged M72 Dragon in Syria as well as the FGM-148 Javelin, which was in ISIS hands in late 2017. Now we do not know how those were acquired, but the M47 Dragon and the Javelin are a lot more sophisticated and not for anyone to easily wield. The Javelin requires a launch unit and training. This is not something you get included in a ten step leaflet with a package of butter.

So we step into the fire unknowing that someone is fuelling the fire by keeping too many of us uninformed. Now from an intelligence point of view I have no issues with that part. It happens, but the fact that the media is not asking certain questions is a much bigger issue. The fact that most nations are loudly condemning the missile attack on Riyadh makes sense, yet the fact on how the skill levels were handed to the Houthi’s remains unanswered.

I wonder if the most interested party in this (Al Arabiya) will soon be asking this question out loud, more important. If the Saudi Defence Forces are successful in taking out the coaching element, would that suddenly largely cripple Houthi elements and if they were supported by Iran, would that push them into the limelight?

All questions, all speculation!

The question that becomes evident is how within these extremist elements their balance of power is maintained? You see, extremists have logistical needs that part is clearly seen in Yemen. Yet, who provides their needs and what is in it for them? The usual culprit is money, lots and lots of money. Yet it also gives power to the one providing the victor. That part is not seen too often. Most often we think of those are mere weapon merchants, dealers of the tools of death, but the fact that the cost of billions in 2 years, that is without the UN relief needs close to a billion is not taken into consideration. If we have learned anything than it is that plenty will forsake loads for a few million, so what are they willing to do for a few billion? Can you even imagine that, or the fact that the pool of those who gets access to that pool of funds is actually quite small and the media remains in the mindset of not informing any of us!

Should they?

That is a good question, because if the media is about the news, should we limit to the amount of news that we should be exposed to? For the most people in Sweden, the Netherlands and Australia might not be too eager to learn about it, but the impact that we are currently facing hits these places too, was not informing us the right thing to do?

Consider that we are impacted by the red sea and that the cost of living would increase by 20% if the Suez Canal becomes unavailable, does it matter then? Suddenly the preface changes and suddenly the Houthi actions are more important than we considered. At this point the media might change its position on the air time and what to focus on, perhaps not.

Time will tell!

Yet I feel that there are other sides and we are all kept in the dark, so where are these journalists? Well, if we can believe the Sun, they were all mesmerised by the tits of Kim Kardashian, the same day Houthi Missiles were fired. Which of the two ‘news’ articles do you remember of that day?

 

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Privacy and (fake) fears

It has been all over the news. The US government has access to your email and your details. It was quite the show to read this all yesterday and the issues this morning was set in a nothing less than A-level theatre play. A play that would make Robert Ludlum envious I might add.

The issue is that the US Government (NSA in this case) is reading your e-mails. They have been doing that for some time. Basically, it was the Patriot act that opened the (back) doors for them to get access to all this information. As they were dealing with data on a lower level in those days, their task was simple. Find Terrorists! Find those who attack America and deal with them. So readers, here is your fake fear! This is one moment where I agree with President Obama 100%. You cannot have 100% security and 100% privacy. Anyone claiming different is lying to you.

The NSA is not interested in you soliciting erotic acts from a recipient on the other side of the e-mail track. They are not interested in the deals you make offering a quick buck! So those in fear (roughly 99.8932353%) you have nothing to fear but fear itself. The part you are not afraid of is the part that SHOULD scare you. You see all that data that you ‘surrender’ to Facebook, Google, MySpace, and Friendster and so on. All THAT data you gave can be crunched, marketed and sold to companies, corporations and all who would buy them. THAT is an interesting part. That is the fear people need to have when they looked at the dangers that Dutch Equens represent (as reported in the earlier blog: ‘You might soon be sold by the banks!‘).

It is not just that part, it is the possibility that data miners offer as they combine data files in one coherent file that could be a personal ‘danger’ to you.

The NSA issues are not that. They need these abilities to fight the existing and growing threat called ‘the lone wolf terrorist’. These people are guided by sources like ‘Inspire’ magazine, which is created by AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). It is however not that simple. The real lone wolves get their ‘guidance’ remotely from sources most do not know and all that under the eyes of the Intelligence Community. To have a grip on stopping these people, monitoring the internet is essential to keeping us the common people safe. If you think that reading mails was enough, then you are wrong. The further going plans by some to monitor the internet is going to be an essential part. Do not think that this is a fun exercise for those involved. It is pricey, it drains resources and it is never ending. As people move to the cloud the need to monitor upcoming dangers will only increase.

Most readers will have heard of the soldier killed in Woolwich UK. Home Secretary Theresa May was quoted when the mention came that this attack was not from a ‘Lone Wolf’ terrorist. I am not opposing this thought. Yet, it cannot be denied that magazines like Inspire might be central to these events. As such it is no wonder that GCHQ wants to peek over the shoulders of the NSA to see if dangers are hitting their small island (I meant the UK, for those who wonder).

There were additional issues that are growing on several grounds, which give weight to the need of monitoring and in all of these cases people like you and me are not an issue.

For most of you feeling fear of this, your fear is unwarranted. Your fear should be how Microsoft and Sony are very interested on squeezing your details out of you as they are preparing and implementing their Next Gen consoles. That will affect you a lot sooner than the security services ever will. (Blog: ‘Government ministers, be warned!‘)

It looks almost sanctimonious that people are so shouting at these government actions and after that spread their visions with pictures and reveal all they can (and sometimes with way too much info) using Shutterfly/Instagram and Facebook. When their identities are stolen they will whine that it is ALL the fault of the government on how their identity was not safe.

Seems almost laughable doesn’t it.

When we sit on the fence we do see that there is a responsibility to hold parties to account for what they do. In case of the NSA this is Judge Roger Vinson. So, yes, someone does take a look at what is done. When did you last hear a loud scream on what Facebook is doing with your details? How about never? Only when Facebook had certain plans involving Instagram did the inner demon of personal greed scream out stating that the pictures were not to be open for business. Again we see a show of double standards. Judge Roger Vinson, born in the state where the delicious Forest Reserve Bourbon is from (Kentucky). He is the Federal Judge for the state famous for Pina Colada and cool Mojito’s (Florida). He approved the data request that the NSA made. So, yes there is oversight on this. It is however not needed for foreign requests. Is that bad? We give it freely to Facebook, so why are they stopped from sharing that with the government. Are you having that drink yet?

The NSA, GCHQ, DSD, CSE and a few others need these data streams. They would like to prevent people who are eager to get other people blown up. For you and me to stand on ‘principle’ on one side and then we give away our identity to be marketed and spammed to commercial content is just way too weird.

The world is now visibly changing. It is in my mind a little frightful as we are soon to become part of something different. As the finance markets were not contained, and soon no longer can be contained ever, we see a move away from nations and nationalities. We are about to be reduced to a metadata tag. With an added weighting that is soon to be set to ‘useful’ or ‘waste’. This was not instigated by governments and not even by the intelligence community. It was instigated by corporations behind Social media; and as we openly surrendered our details we are now placed in boxes where we can be approached. When we have moved through all the boxes and we are no longer an asset in any box we will be given the ‘waste’ tag. Then what?

These are my words, but funnily enough I was not the first one to mention this. In the Netherlands there was a New-Age entrepreneur called Luc Sala. Even from the late 80’s he evangelized the dangers of the groups “have” and “have not” and how we were allowing ourselves to be placed in these boxes. I wonder if he ever realised that not only was he correct, but that it could even fade national borders? Consider what you heard over the last months, what we will see in the next 13 months. Prime Minister David Cameron was strong about keeping the UK identity safe, to protect it. He was not willing to step out of the EU for this. That step is now being sought after by UKIP and their leader Nigel Farage.

How are these related? This is a valid question that is forming in your mind. And I have been fighting with these thoughts and especially evidence around this. Without evidence all this is nothing more than a bad level of Conspiracy Theory. You see, all these messages we read in the last few days and the next week are in my mind a smokescreen to some level. We are all so shouting about privacy. Yet, who was up in arms when MySpace started to sell their data in 2010. (Source: http://www.pcworld.com/article/191716/myspace_selling_user_data.html).

Did you stop to think about your data on Facebook? Did you think ‘whatever’? So what other ‘evidence’ is there? In that case I point to several blogs I wrote, but more important you should look at more reputable sources like the Guardian and the Wall Street Times, where we faced stories in regards to the pay outs by all towards Greece, Cyprus and other nations to keep the economy ‘alive’. Whilst now we read how the IMF made errors. How a train line sucks up over 7 billion and is presently still not operational in the way it should be. This is a time and place where other nations are now giving aid as budgets are not met in various degrees by nearly all EU nations. So is it such a far stretch to see National borders fade as these issues are ‘resolved’ (read: ‘put on hold’) by group driven options. All this happens whilst we hear ‘voices’ that seem less and less aware of consequences or claim ignorance and error afterwards.

For this train of thought we need to see three parts

In the first part there is last year when this was quoted “The slight uptick is largely due to Europe, which is expected to return to very slow growth of 0.3 percent after the -0.2 percent contraction in 2012” (Source: http://www.conference-board.org/data/globaloutlook.cfm). Yet the guardian in two articles where the 2012 version stated in: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/07/eurozone-growth-next-year-ec the following “with the 17-nation Eurozone eking out expansion of just 0.1% in 2013”. However 6 months later we read in: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/jun/06/ecb-eurozone-recession-deepen, where it states “European Central Bank says the Eurozone economy will shrink by 0.6% in 2013 as it considers unconventional policies to kick-start growth”. Numbers change and get adjusted, but the game can only be one of profit by those who have the right numbers (read the better data source). This game is played and replayed, again and again. This has bearing on all the privacy issue in the form of the collected data these predictors require. If the power of voicing the future is based upon data then your privacy is a thorn in the eyes of commerce as they do react to data, but whose data and created how? So as companies are making less, as economic values go down, other paths to revenue must be found and this does have bearing on your privacy, as you are data. This means you are commercial currency, not government currency as such.

This is the other side of data. Many corporations decided to ‘store’ their backup data in some High-Tech solution off-site facility, not unlike the hosting solution Peer1. Peer1 is a Canadian corporation with hosting locations in for example San Antonio (when they acquired ServerBeach). That is corporate data and as such there is an issue in this place. There had been soft voices of concern in those early days on who gets to access these data servers. American linked companies implementing off-site storage options in America from all over their European locations. Was local management realising that they gave their customer base and (financial) details to US insight?

There is NO; I say again NO evidence that these data files were ever ‘violated’ for commercial gain. If we consider the dangers of greed and in the light of what we read earlier, can we be certain that this did not happen, or even whether this is not likely to happen in the near future?

It had been clear that parties like the NSA had access. There is however a side we do need to take proper heed of. If they have access, then who else has access? From corporate documents from these hosts, corporations would have likely read how impossible access was, and how they never give out access. If that part was shown to be ‘violated’, then what other dangers lurk that these companies did not expect? (In this concept violated does not mean a legal violation as the data storage company would have been adhering to their government rules, yet the fact that corporations might not know this is a question for many and as such legal questions should be asked).

So think again, as social media is in their right to sell the data they have in some shape and that it is the price you paid for all these ‘free’ abilities that these places give you. Most do not worry, but then worry about information the government has/looks in to.

For private individuals all this is simply a fake fear.

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