The Fall of Afghanistan and the Rise of the Taliban Again

It has been so painful to watch the fall of Afghanistan and think of the sacrifices made by U.S. military personnel and our allies over the last twenty years. President Trump’s agreement with the Taliban put us on this road to returning the Taliban to power. President Biden’s shameful actions and inaction sped up this process. Politicians in Washington are tone deaf to candor. They never understand even what the issues are on the ground and never listen to individuals who provide honest assessments. 

Afghan leaders at all levels were only interested in lining their pockets. An old crow of the intelligence community once told me that anytime the US paid Afghans in the 1980s to do something usually the opposite happened. When the Russians left Afghanistan the Afghan fighters wanted blood. The Taliban for the most part will allow the US to flee the country with our tail between our legs but the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP), the Haqqani Group and even Al Qaeda will potentially be a threat. The prisons in Kandahar, Jalalabad and Bagram that have held Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters have now been freed.

The Taliban do not care for world opinion or diplomatic negotiations and never have. Ever since the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996 the United States has tried through interaction and negotiations to change the Taliban’s positions on peace, humanitarian assistance, women’s rights, drugs and terrorism. The US sought Osama Bin Laden over 30 times from the Taliban. In 1996, Secretary of State Warren Christopher wrote to the Taliban Foreign Minister that “we wish to work with you to expel all terrorists and those who support terrorism…” This fell on deaf ears. On March 3, 1997 the US was told by Taliban Shura Council member Ehsanullah Ehsan that “expulsion of Bin Laden was not a solution.”

In March 1998, the US expressed concerns to the Taliban after Bin Laden’s called for attacks against U.S. targets and the reports of Egyptian militants in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s UN Representative in New York Abdul Mujahid replied that Bin Laden was under restriction by the Taliban. In a March 26, 1998 meeting Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Haqqani was told of the US concerns about a recent fatwa issued by Bin Laden against the United States. Haqqani denied Bin Laden’s involvement and stated that Bin Laden was under Taliban restrictions. Then Bin Laden sent suicide bombers to drive vehicles bombs into two US Embassies in Africa. The Taliban never would turn over Osama Bin Laden after the attacks on the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. On September 13, 1998 the US Deputy Chief of Mission warned the Taliban Permanent Representative to the UN that the “Taliban will be held directly responsible for any further terrorist acts instigated by Bin Laden.” On October 11, 1998, US Ambassador Milam met with Wakil Ahmed, a close aide to Mullah Omar and told him that the longer the Taliban shelter Bin Laden, the more they will be associated with his crimes. On October 21, 1998 Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Pickering and Assistant Secretary of State Karl Inderfurth told Taliban Representative Abdul Mujahid that the US would hold the Taliban responsible for acts committed by Bin Laden against the US. Mujahid replied that expelling Bin Laden would violate the Taliban’s rules of hospitality.

On December 14, 1998, the Taliban Embassy Charge in Islamabad told Deputy Assistant Secretary Lanpher that Bin Laden is under restriction and accused the US of coercing suspects in the Embassy Bombings to admit to having links to Bin Laden. On December 28, 1998, the US received a response from Mullah Omar’s aide Wakil Ahmed that the Taliban’s position was that Bin Laden was a guest who would not be expelled still held. In 1999 and 2000, the UN Security Council passed resolutions demanding the Taliban expel Osama Bin Laden. On May 27, 2000, Undersecretary Pickering gave Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Jalil a point by point outline of the information tying Bin Laden to the 1998 Embassy Bombings. The Taliban rejected this evidence and all other advances to get the Taliban to hand over or expel Osama Bin Laden.

On February 26, 2001, more than 90 nations of the international community passed a resolution urging the Taliban to halt the destruction of the Buddhist statues in Bamiyan. So as the Biden Administration tries to contemplate their next whimpering to the Taliban they should review the US, global and Taliban interaction. To the Taliban negotiations show weakness. Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief American envoy in talks with the Taliban, a few days ago was seeking assurances that the Taliban wouldn’t attack the US Embassy in Kabul.

Biden’s State Department Representative Ned Price recently said: “What we know and what the international community knows is that there has to be a diplomatic solution to this if we are to achieve some semblance of safety, security, stability for the people of Afghanistan in Afghanistan.” When asked if the Taliban had been engaged in diplomatic talks Price stated “the Taliban is engaging. Obviously, progress has been slow. We would like to see it move faster.” From 1996 to the attacks on September 11th, the Taliban slow rolled and refuted all international pressure. Even after the September 11th attacks the Taliban didn’t arrest or seize Bin Laden but fought side by side with him and then fled alongside Al Qaeda into Pakistan.

 I feel sorry for all those who thought there would be democracy, free elections,  women’s rights, and human rights in Afghanistan. The Taliban were known for human rights violations, forcing girls and women into burqas, closing schools and opportunities for females and taking their cut from drug enterprises. The United States sent CIA teams and Special Forces into Afghanistan  in October 2001 because the Taliban had provided a sanctuary to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Once again, American’s Intelligence Officers and Special Forces performed brilliantly routing the Taliban and Al Qaeda and forcing them to flee in Pakistan where they had sanctuary. One of the first of many Americans who lost his life was a CIA officer named Mike Spann. Spann died at the Qala-i-Jangi fortress during a Taliban prisoner uprising.

This morning the President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani flew out of Kabul after negotiations with the Taliban failed. Recent actions by the Biden Administration only empower our enemies. Years ago I interviewed an Afghan woman who went to the Stadium in Kabul to see her husband before he was executed by the Taliban. Does the Kabul Stadium revert from sports to this again under the Taliban? Honor and revenge are everything to the Pashtun. These next few days are going to be dangerous for American citizens in the country. Poor decision making once again forces the US military to put troops on the ground who will be in harm’s way because of poor decision making by politicians. Group think and a lack of candor in government has infected Washington once again. Thirty-two years ago on January 30, 1989, the US Charge d’Affaires Jon Glassman watched as Marines lowered the American flag at the US Embassy in Kabul. In the next few days another US diplomat will have to observe the lowering of the American flags on the Embassy grounds in Kabul. But as Jon Glassman said thirty-two years ago, “the United States shall return.”

The Rhode Island Nine

beirut memorialMarine Barracks Memorial Outside Camp Lejeune


Corporal James Silvia of Middletown; Lance Corporal Thomas Julian and Corporal Stephen Spencer of Portsmouth; Corporal David Massa of Warren; Sergeant Timothy Giblin of North Providence; Corporal. Edward Soares Jr. of Tiverton; Corporal Rick Crudale of West Warwick; Corporal Edward Iacovino Jr. of Warwick and Corporal Thomas Shipp of Woonsocket.

Patriotism and military service has always flourished in the smallest state in the nation. Before the American Revolution, Rhode Islanders boarded and burned the British ship HMS Gaspee helping spark the American Revolution. Rhode Islanders have always been eager to enlist in the military both in peacetime and wars. I like all Rhode Islanders that joined the Marine Corps traveled with a recruiter to the Boston Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPS). This is where all newly enlisted are processed and then transported to Paris Island, South Carolina for Marine Corps Boot Camp. The Rhode Island Nine would have traveled the same route, endured the sand fleas of Paris Island and sought out others like themselves who would have commiserated about missing Del’s, clam cakes, cabinets, chowder, coffee milk, quahogs, and wicked New England sports teams. The Rhode Island Nine all found themselves stationed at Camp Lejeune after Bootcamp and then deployed ending up in Beirut as part of the peacekeeping forces.

In 1983, Beirut was one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Eight years of civil war, fighting between Christian and Muslim militias, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasser Arafat, invasions by Israel, the Syrians and Iranians made surviving in Beirut a unique skillset. Thirty-six years ago, 241 Americans lost their lives serving as peacekeepers in Beirut. The Rhode Island Nine were among those Marines that were killed that day.

On that Sunday morning, October 23, 1983, a yellow Mercedes truck traveled down Airport Road passing the FAA Civil Aviation School on the left. Just ahead after passing by checkpoint 4 was the suicide bomber’s target. Slowly turning into the Beirut International Airport public parking lot the suicide bomber had now taken a full measure of his target. The driver of the truck began to pick up sped and crashed through the barbed wire fence passing between two Marine checkpoints as he raced towards his target. The Marines’ Rules of Engagement (ROE) kept their magazines in their ammo pouches instead of having a loaded weapon ready to go. To fire on an enemy the Marines had to get permission of a Commissioned Officer before they could load their M-16. An asymmetric weapon was about to be unleased on the Marines in Beirut by terrorists.

At 0622 a.m. the suicide bomber crashed his truck bomb into the sandbagged Sergeant of the Guard’s post inside the building and then detonated. Two hundred and forty-one Americans lost their lives that morning. Hezbollah and the Iranians were perfecting a new tactic, one which would cause such destruction and hurt in numerous countries as other terrorist groups sought to copy and modify this new way to attack a stronger enemy. Just outside of Camp Lejeune, there is a memorial that honors all those that lost their lives thirty-six years ago. Gold Star families from Beirut remember their loved ones on this day and we should remember them in our thoughts and prayers.

Outside the Portsmouth Historical Society in Portsmouth, Rhode Island there is a small memorial to honor the Rhode Island Nine. It is almost embarrassing that these Nine Rhode Islanders are not honored in a more appropriate way. Each of the nine volunteered for service to the Marine Corps and their country. In the post-modern era of terrorism, the 241 Americans were among the first casualties in the war on terrorism. The poet, Wallace Bruce once said that “Who kept the faith and fought the fight; The glory theirs, the duty ours.” We have a duty to honor the Rhode Island Nine with a memorial fitting their service to Rhode Island and our country.




The New Age of Martyrdom: Suicide Attackers and Bombers Training for LE

The Terrorism Research Center and the NVCJA Presents this unique law enforcement training from August 21-23, 2019, 0700 to 1530 in Northern Virginia.

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WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Law Enforcement Officers, Supervisors, SWAT, Intel Analysts, Security Officials, Special Event Planners, EOD teams, Military Personnel, and Emergency Management Personnel.

Participants will learn first-hand about the operational methodology of terrorists and will explore the following topics:

Attacking Special Events, Airport and Transportation Hub Attacks, Conducting Targeted Violence, Vehicle Ramming Attacks, Attacks in London, Paris, Nice, Sri Lanka, Inside the Bataclan Attack, Terrorists Targeting Tourists, Hotels, Museums, Shopping Malls, Religious Institutions And Other Targets, Mindsets of Attackers, as well as other topics.

Participants will explore the Evolution of Suicide Bombings and Attacks, Complex Attacks with Firearms, Ramming Vehicle Attacks, Knives, Axes and Hammers, Understanding the Ideology and Mindset, and Targets in Your Jurisdiction and a Protocol for Dealing with these Challenges. Recent Domestic Terrorism Attacks in the United States will be examined.

TRC has always believed in conducting field research. TRC staff have been on the scene of bombings and attacks, interviewed victims, witnesses and first responders of these horrific attacks. The TRC maintains one of the largest databases on suicide bombings and attacks. Each Participant will receive a copy of the Terrorism Research Center’s “The New Age of Martyrdom: Suicide Attacks and Bombings.” A number of special guests will speak providing insights and strategies to deal with these challenges.

For additional information course content and how to register contact us at  or at (703)801-2297.



NYPD Det. Luis Alvarez-A Selfless American Hero Passes Away

Luis Alvarez

One of the first titles Luis Alvarez earned was that of Marine, then Police Officer with the NYPD. After earning a promotion to Detective, he worked most of his law enforcement career in the Narcotics Division. He then became a member of NYPD’s elite Bomb Squad. For the life of me, I always wondered why any police officer would want that job. But Detective Alvarez became a “Bomb Technician” preventing bombs from detonating and detecting who and how someone had used an improvised explosive device in New York City. But Luis Alvarez also had three other important titles, one being husband and the other being a father to his three sons.

On September 11, 2001, as thousands ran from Ground Zero numerous heroes raced to the World Trade Center to see how they could render aid and assistance. As Detective Alvarez stated “9/11 happened. We got called down. It’s my job as an NYPD Detective to respond to emergencies. So, no hesitation.” Alvarez like so many others worked on the pile at Ground Zero for months trying at first to rescue individuals and then to recover those who had perished at the hands of terrorists. At the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Shanksville, first responders were exposed to jet fuel, diesel oil, and chemicals like asbestos, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, crystalline silica, and other metals and particles as well as toxic soot and dust from pulverized building materials. After serving for 20 years with the NYPD, Detective Alvarez retired and started a position with the Department of Homeland Security. But his service there was cut short when he was diagnosed with colon cancer from his time on Ground Zero.

On June 11, 2019, Luis Alvarez appeared before a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing to urge Congress to reauthorize the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund along with Jon Stewart. The Committee hearing room was packed with 9-11 first responders. Alvarez’s soft but powerful words showed what a courageous and humble man he was. He wasn’t seeking notoriety or fame as he lobbied the Subcommittee. “I did what every other FDNY, NYPD, EMS worker-everybody. I’m nobody special. I did what all the other guys did. And now we’re paying the price for it.” But Luis Alvarez has always been special. He knew a life of true selfless service to others, a rare commodity today. He also knew that his time was short on earth. He was worried about his family and those families of other 9/11 Responders in the future.

Alvarez and comedian Jon Stewart appeared before the Congressional Subcommittee begging for something that Congress should have addressed long beforehand. Jon Stewart’s comments that day rang so true when he chastised Congress for not doing what was right. Seeing Alvarez’s hollowed frame that day one might never have thought he had been a Marine or a fit NYPD Police Detective. He had already undergone 68 chemo treatments and was slated for another one in less than 24 hours. Even without knowing his medical story his hollowed frame,  huge eyes, and a soft voice told all the fate that awaited him. “You all said you would never forget. Well, I’m here to make sure you don’t. You made me come down here the day before my 69th round of chemo. I’m going to make sure you never forget to take care of the 9/11 Responders.” These words were uttered by a selfless brave American hero-Alvarez’s last title.

Luis Alvarez can speak no more. He passed away today from cancer that destroyed his body. Every day first responders are dealing and will continue to deal with the impact of the terrorist attacks on September 11th.  Since 9/11 there have been over 2500 reported cases of cancer among World Trade Center first responders. I think of two first responders FBI Special Agent Melissa Morrow and Officer Harvey Snook who passed away due to illnesses contracted due to 9/11. I have spoken to numerous first responders that searched for human remains to return to their families. The number of casualties from September 11th will continue to grow and we all have a responsibility to never forget the actions of brave humble individuals like Luis Alvarez-a selfless American hero.



Two American Heroes Honored in the “The 11th Order: Six Seconds to Live”

Two Marine Heroes

LCpl. Jordan Haerter and CPL. Jonathan Yale

Dan Daly, Smedley Butler, John Basilone, Chesty Puller, Brad Kasal are just a few legendary Marines. While there are numerous other noted Marines, there are two devil dogs who should be mentioned with these legends for their heroic dedication to duty. Unfortunately, most Americans will never know or appreciate the extraordinary heroism of two Marines in Ramadi on April 22, 2008. Their journey to immortality began with the Marine Corps tradition of standing on the yellow footprints at MCRD Parris Island. A Marine Drill Instructor would have told them how “Tens of thousands of Marines began outstanding service to our country on the very footprints where you are standing. You will carry on their proud tradition.” Jonathan Yale and Jordan Haerter would carry on those proud traditions.

Jonathan Yale from Burkeville, Virginia would enlist in the Marine Corps on July 24, 2006 and attend Boot Camp at Parris Island. He would earn his Eagle, Globe and Anchor as a member of Second Battalion and graduate on October 20, 2006. He would deploy to Anbar Province where he would participate in over 150 mounted and dismounted patrols.

Jordan Haerter grew up in Sag Harbor, New York and enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduating from Pierson High School. He would graduate from Boot Camp at Paris Island on December 1, 2006. He would deploy with his unit to Ramadi, Iraq in March 2008.

On the morning of April 22, 2008, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter were standing guard duty at Post Echo, the entry point to Joint Security Station Nasser in Ramadi. Two Marines from different parts of America doing their duty, guarding the outpost housing 50 Marines and 100 Iraqi Police Officers. A suicide bomber in a water tanker truck came from the farm road and accelerated seeking to crash into the Joint Security Station. A terrorist with 2,000 pounds of explosives speeding towards the Marines and their Iraqi Police allies.

As General John Kelly said, “with steel in their backs” the two Marines instinctively raised their weapons and engaged the threat. In six seconds, the two Marines never flinched, moved to cover or sought to save themselves. LCpl. Haerter raised his M4 and with precision fired into the cab of the truck. Cpl. Yale engaged the threat with an M249 SAW. An Iraqi Police officer stated “I was able to see a Mercedes water tanker the color was light blue, and the water tank itself was white. It was entering at a high rate of speed, and as it was entering the Marine guards at the gate started firing at its direction.”
While some Iraqi police officers fired on the threat, others sought cover and moved past the Marines firing seeking safety.

The suicide bomber failed to breach the compound. The truck bomb came to a complete stop just in front of Post Echo and then detonated. An Iraqi police officer in his statement about the two Marines said, Sir, in the name of God, no sane man would have stood there and done what they did.” An Iraqi police officer stated that “if the Marines had not stood their ground to their death the truck would have wiped out the JSS and everyone in it.”

President Reagan once said, “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But the Marines don’t have that problem.” Corporal Yale and Lance Corporal Haerter made a difference through their courageous acts of heroism. Their decisions and actions all within six seconds saved 150 individuals. The yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island got much larger for the thousands of future Marines being told” Get off the bus and on the yellow footprints.” Marine Drill Instructors should now bark out to new recruits “get on the footprints where once stood Cpl. Yale and LCpl. Haerter-two American heroes.” For these two American heroes in six seconds have upheld the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and our nation.

Director Joshua DeFour has made a short realistic film about these two Marines. The premiere of “The 11th Order: Six Seconds to Live” takes places tomorrow May 19th at Hogg Memorial Auditorium, Austin, Texas. One can also reserve a copy of this film at

If you can’t get to the premiere, order a copy of this short film and spread the word about two America heroes – Cpl. Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter.

Jonathan Yale, Jordan Haerter, Dan Daly, Smedley Butler, John Basilone, Chesty Puller, Brad Kasal and numerous others. Our nation is forever in their debt.

Increased Terrorist Threat in Burkina Faso

Within the last five weeks, three churches have been attacked by terrorists in Burkina Faso. On Sunday, a group of about 20 terrorists arrived on motorcycles and encircled St Isidore Catholic Church in Dablo. Once again, the Christian community was targeted by terrorists. The terrorists had come to kill Father Simeon Yampa, who was in charge of “Interreligious Dialogue” for the Diocese. When Father Yampe attempted to flee he was gunned down. The terrorist placed all the men on the ground and then ordered all the females and children to leave. The terrorists then selected five men and executed them before burning the church down. The terrorists burned a number of other buildings including a health clinic before fleeing back across the border to Mali.

On April 28, 2019, a dozen gunmen on motorcycles attacked the Assemblies of God Protestant Church in Sirgadji. The gunmen demanded the Pastor and others convert to Islam. When they didn’t convert, the terrorists killed Pastor Pierre Ovedraogo his son, his son-in-law and three others. The Pastor has served his church community for almost 40 years. The terrorist then burned the pulpit before fleeing towards Mali.

On April 26, 2019, terrorists killed six individuals including 5 teachers in the town of Maytagou. A dozen armed terrorists on motorcycles shot four of the teachers in the school yard. A fifth teacher died of wounds later. A sixth teacher was spared to tell what had happened. These actions are designed to spread terror and fear much like how the Taliban in Afghanistan are against education.

On April 5, 2019, terrorists entered the Catholic Church in Dori during the Stations of the Cross and separated the men from the women and children. The terrorists killed four individuals and ransacked the church before fleeing.

On March 17, 2019, Father Joel Yougbare, a Parish priest in Djibo was returning to his residence after Sunday mass when he was kidnapped. There have been no demands or claims of responsibility for the kidnapping.

On May 1, 2019, two French music teachers were kidnapped while they were on safari in the Pendjari National Park in northern Benin. Their guide was shot and killed during the kidnapping. The terrorists began moving the two French citizens north through Burkina Faso towards Mali. This kidnapping highlights the significance of following government “Travel Warnings.” The remote area where the two French citizens were kidnapped was a “Red Zone” in France’s Travel Warning due to the significant danger of being there.

Last week French Commandos executed a hostage rescue mission and liberated the two French music teachers before terrorists could move them across the border into Mali. French forces freed a total of four hostages held by the terrorists. An American and South Korean female were also rescued as well as the two French citizens. The American and South Korean citizens had already been held for 28 days by their captives. Two French Special Forces members, Cedric de Pierrepont and Alain Bertoncello were killed during the hostage rescue mission. On Tuesday, the French government will honor these two heroes. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and comrades.

Travel Advisories and Warnings

So often individuals pay little attention to “Travel Advisories and Warnings.” Common sense is often uncommon in high threat areas by individuals who think these warnings don’t apply to them. Individuals end up creating work for intelligence, law enforcement and military personnel when they travel to these high threat areas.  Having spoken to numerous organizations, groups and individuals, I am often amazed at how naïve and how little thought goes into international travel to high threat places with some people. Remember your poor planning and travel to high threat areas can get someone else killed. Over the last few years numerous governments have issued travel advisories and warnings dealing with Burkina Faso.

The French government’s Travel Advisory from February 2019 stated: “Terrorism has become an increasingly severe security threat in Burkina Faso since 2015. Educational institutions, local government officials, and security forces are specifically targeted. Initially concentrated in the Sahel region, attacks have spread to other regions, including eastern Burkina Faso (Est region) which is also known for high crime rates. Attacks are usually attributed to Ansarul Islam and other groups affiliated with Al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). On January 1, 2019, the government declared a state of emergency for the country’s border regions, to be in effect for six months.”

On April 9, 2019, the U.S. State Department issued a Travel Advisory that suggested that travelers “reconsider travel to Burkina Faso due to terrorism and kidnapping.”  Terrorists will continue to conduct attacks and kidnappings in Burkina Faso.

The  British government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to: “all areas of the country north of the town of Boulsa, within 40km of the western border with Mali, Sahel and Est regions (including the W and Arly National Parks and their contiguous reserves and hunting areas), and Koulpélogo province in Centre-Est region. The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Burkina Faso, including the capital Ouagadougou.”

Robert Pelton has a great line in his book “The World’s Most Dangerous Places.” Pelton, who has traveled to many high threat areas reminds us all to “remember, the most dangerous thing in the world is still ignorance.”

Terrorists in Burkina Faso over the last three years have targeted Christians, churches, police, military, government facilities, tourists, hotels, restaurants, and soft targets. They have kidnapped individuals and moved them north to Mali to make rescue harder. Dr. Ken Elliott who ran a medical clinic for 40 years in Djibo was kidnapped in 2016 and remains a hostage. No one is immune to the terrorist threat in Burkina Faso. Terrorists don’t care if you are a doctor or a minister with 40 years of experience in the country. This is more than a regional problem with Al-Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates causing chaos and terror.


               Terrorism Research Center- “A Virginia Company With a Global Purpose”


Law Enforcement and Technology

LE and Technology 2019 NCR

Technology is changing law enforcement every day. Just turn on the news and one hears about the lengthy battle to finally gain access to information on a cell phone. From database and social media tools, smart phones, body-worn cameras, HD CCTV, devices for covert operations, to numerous other technologies that are still on the drawing board-the tools of a beat cop are changing every day. Over two days individuals will explore some of the technologies, policies, legal issues, and grant options. Individuals will travel locally to a number of organizations and observe how they are using innovative technology.

Terrorism Strikes Another House of Worship

16th Street Baptist Church, (Birmingham, AL) AME Church, (Charleston, SC), Wisconsin Sikh Temple, St. Georges and St. Mark’s Churches in Egypt, Santa Maria Church in Surabaya, Pentecost Central Church, Indonesian Christian Church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Philippines, Al-Askari Mosque, (Samarra, Iraq), St. Michael’s Church, (Indiana), Mount Zion AME Church, Christ Church, (Lahore, Pakistan), All Saints Church, (Peshawar, Pakistan), Hebrew Benevolent Temple, (Atlanta, GA), Macedonia Baptist Church, Temple Beth El, (Syracuse, NY), Iman Ali Mosque, St. Etienne Church, (Normandy, France), Tree of Life Synagogue, (Pittsburg, PA), Chakwal Mosque, East Texas Churches, Methodist Church, (Quetta, Pakistan), Church of Christ, (Gwoza, Nigeria),  Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, (Alindao, CAR), Coptic Church of the Virginia Mary, (Mostord, Egypt), St. Ignatius Church, (Ayar-Mbalom, Nigeria), Marmina Coptic Church, (Cairo, Egypt), Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque, Bethel Memorial Methodist Church, (Quetta, Pakistan) Al-Abbas Mosque, Quebec City Mosque, St. Paul’s ACK Church, (Ukunda, Kenya), Al Noor Mosque and Lindwood Mosque (Christchurch, New Zealand) and others. . .

It doesn’t matter what religion one practices or what House of Worship one enters to pray to God. Everyone should be able to pray and worship without violence. But that has not been the case, and the horrific killings in New Zealand are just the most recent example of a terrorist attack on Houses of Worship. The world which we live in seems to be facing more senseless violence. The evil individual who conducted the attacks on two mosques in New Zealand sought to not only kill individuals while they worshipped but also wanted to reach out using Facebook and a GoPro video camera to publish his horrific deeds. This is not the first time a terrorist sought to publish propaganda.

Fahd Mohammed Ahmed Al-Quso was supposed to videotape Al Qaeda’s attack on the USS Cole. But he overslept and the filming of the attack on the USS Cole never happened. Abu Musab al Zarqawi had the beheading of Nick Berg videotaped. Mohamed Merah used a GoPro to capture his violent attacks in Lyon, France in 2012. Amedy Coulibaly took hostages in the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket. He then used a GoPro to capture video and upload the materials to a laptop and send out as propaganda.

The terrorist in the Christchurch mosques attacks published a manifesto to 70 people prior to beginning his horrific killing sprees. To further spread his propaganda, he painted in white names of individual terrorists, historical dates, symbols of nationalist, Neo-Nazi and anti-migration and events associated with his ideological way of thinking. Once again, we see a terrorist using social media to spread his hate-filled message. This individual sought to exploit differences on firearms, migration, social, ethnic and racial divides across the globe.

On September 18, 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King spoke at the funeral for three of the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham. Rev. King stated that “in spite of the darkness of this hour we must not become bitter.” That is what this terrorist and others filled with hatred would want. King further stated that “Life is hard, at times as hard as crucible steel. But today you do not walk alone.” Over 800 ministers of all faiths and over 4,000 people attended the funeral of these three little girls. An attack on one House of Worship is an attack on all. And the families of those who were killed in New Zealand and those injured should know that they do not walk alone.

Not Surprising We are “Woefully Vulnerable”

Today on a Sunday morning news show two guests talked about some of the greatest threats and vulnerabilities faced by our country. Senator Ron Johnson, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Larry Ellison, the Co-Founder of Oracle both spoke of the threats our country is facing. Senator Johnson spoke about the two greatest threats to our country being homegrown violent extremists and cybersecurity. Not surprising that Senator Johnson stated that regarding cybersecurity “we are incredibly vulnerable.” He further stated that China has been stealing billions of dollars of industrial and military secrets which will impact our military advantage if allowed to continue.

Larry Ellison regarding the cyber threat spoke about criminals stealing credit cards and state actors who want to gain intelligence. A Chinese national was arrested after he used computer malware to gain access to 21.5 million records. Ellison stated that this hack by China got resumes of government employees. Then this state actor analyzed all the information and determined that these are all the people who work for the US government. Then the state actor asked, “How come some people who work in the Embassy in our capital city aren’t in the list of government employees? Maybe they all work for the CIA?” Ellison stated that the Federal government using its “own internal cyber defenses only detects about 2 ½ percent of incidents.” Ellison gave two other examples involving vulnerabilities to include the hacking of and the issue of Kaspersky Labs. The US government banned the use of a Russian software security company in government computers due to Russian espionage. Larry Ellison spoke that for years the government didn’t tell anyone of this threat. And this let Kaspersky Labs become an enormous company putting software in people’s computers.

Senator Johnson summed it up stating we are “woefully vulnerable.” In the US we tend to be reactive rather than proactive and there are too many examples of this. What we need is better partnerships and information sharing regarding current and potential threats and vulnerabilities. Without industry, government and citizens working together and closing vulnerabilities we are at risk of losing any competitive advantage we hold in the world. There are numerous state actors to include Russia, and China seeking to gain an advantage by stealing our industrial, economic and military secrets. Nor can we forget criminal actors seeking economic gain by hacking our citizens.

Remembering the Beirut Peacekeepers Thirty-five Years Later

beirut memorial

                                    “So few know or remember what we did in Beirut.”

                                                                                            -Sgt. Joe Chowske-                                                                                                                                   24th Marine Amphibious Unit

Thirty-five years ago at approximately 0622 on Sunday, 23 Oct. 1983, a terrorist bomb

destroyed the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) headquarters building in the Marine

Amphibious Unit compound at Beirut International Airport. The catastrophic attack

took the lives of 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers and wounded more than 100 others.

The bombing was carried out by one lone terrorist driving a yellow Mercedes Benz

stake-bed truck that accelerated through the public parking lot south of the BLT

headquarters building, where it exploded. The truck drove over the barbed wire

obstacle, passed between two Marine guard posts without being engaged by fire,

entered an open gate, passed around one sewer pipe barrier and between two

others flattened the Sergeant of the Guard’s sandbagged booth at the building’s

entrance penetrated the lobby of the building and detonated while the majority

of the occupants slept. The force of the explosion [12,000 pounds] ripped the building

from its foundation. The building then imploded upon itself. Almost all the occupants

were crushed or trapped inside the wreckage.

Hezbollah and the Iranians were perfecting a new tactic, one which would cause

such destruction and hurting numerous countries as other terrorist groups sought

to copy and modify this new way to attack a stronger enemy. On Sunday, October 23,

1983, at 0230 a.m. President Reagan was awakened with the horrific news that a

suicide bomber had driven a truck bomb into the building housing the Marines in


Later that same day President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive

109 which outlined how the US would respond to the Lebanon Crisis. In the

document, President Reagan directed that the US Ambassador in Beirut should

schedule a meeting with President Gemayel and the Lebanese government and

that Ambassador Robert Dillion should “formally request that the government

of Lebanon sever all diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran that

was behind this attack using its proxy Hezbollah.

Thirty-five years later the world is still dealing with the Hezbollah/Iranian tactic of

truck bombings.  As Thomas Friedman, the author of “From Beirut to Jerusalem


So it was with the Marines in Beirut-good, milk-faced boys who stepped into the            middle of a passion-filled conflict, of whose history they were totally innocent and       whose venom they could not even imagine.”

Take Sgt. Joe Chowske’s words to heart today and remember those Peacekeepers.

Rember those young Marines and what they sacrificed for peace and their country

thirty-five years ago in  Beirut.