Remembering Trooper Mark Cosslett

Trooper Mark Cosslett Sign

In 1962, President Kennedy designated May 15th as Peace Officer Memorial Day. This week, we remember those law enforcement officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice. This week I would like to honor and remember Trooper Mark Cosslett of the Virginia State Police.  In the fall of 2002, two idiots with a rifle were sniping citizens in Virginia, DC, and Maryland.  Mark had been part of law enforcement’s efforts to locate the two criminals shooting innocent people randomly. The “so called snipers” had been arrested early on the morning of October 23, 2002. But people were still unsure if it was them. On October 23, 2002, Mark heard a police radio call go out for shots fired in Lorton, Virginia and he responded on his motorcycle. He was struck and killed when a tow truck veered into his path and struck him while responding to the shots fired call. Mark had served in the US Marine Corps, served the citizens of Virginia for 16 years as a trooper,  a motorman, the Bureau of Criminal Investigations and undercover dealing with narcotics.

Mark was one of the best officers in the US at drug interdiction. It was because of his unique skills at detecting drugs and hidden compartments in vehicles that I brought Mark on the road to share his expertise and experiences with other law enforcement officers. We traveled the country teaching law enforcement officers and Customs Inspectors how to become better at drug interdiction and staying safe.

Mark was always giving, had the warmest smile and a great sense of humor. But most of all he loved his wife and two children more than anything. He was always talking about his family and their importance in his life. I thank God for the opportunity to have spent a little time with such a great friend and role model.

This week everyone should offer his or her thanks and appreciation to those who serve in law enforcement. Too many members of the law enforcement community have sacrificed and paid the ultimate price for our safety. These men and women keep us all safe and we owe them so much. If you have time this week visit the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Judiciary Square in Washington, DC or just thank a member of your local law enforcement community. Mark Cosslett and all those who have their names etched on the National Law Enforcement Memorial are all truly heroes and should be remembered as such.

Terrorism Research Center’s Mirror Image Training Returns to North Carolina

Mirror Image: From the Edge of Raqqa at the Spartan Ranch Tactical Training Center

The Terrorism Research Center (TRC) is pleased to announce that our Mirror Image training program returns to North Carolina for 2017.  Since 2002, when Mirror Image was created, thousands of military, law enforcement and intelligence officers have attended this one of a kind counter-terrorism training program. TRC’s Mirror Image places participants into a “replicated terrorist cell or network” to gain an understanding into the mindset, ideology and operational methodology of a terrorist cell. We are happy to be conducting this training at the Spartan Ranch Tactical Training Center in Maysville, North Carolina. Cells will operate in hardship conditions and will eat, sleep and train as a tight knit network. Each day, the participants will be taught a comprehensive program by a host of international terrorism experts.For more information on the course content, special guest speakers or how to register click on the link below.

TRC’s Mirror Image Returns to North Carolina

The goal behind Mirror Image is what Sun Tzu stated in The Art of War: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Colonel Kelly Alexander said about Mirror Image, “this training was instrumental to the success of my Marines in Anbar Province.” The former Army MI G-2, CSM Franklin Saunders stated after he attended the course, “Mirror Image is hands down the best course I have attended.

2017 Mirror Image: From the Edge of Raqqa

April 24-28, May 21-26, June 19-23, July 24-28,

Aug 14-18, Sept. 25-29, Oct. 16-20, Nov 13-17

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“A Virginia Company With A Global Purpose”

 Terrorism Research Center Inc.

5765 F Burke Center Pkwy-PMB 331

Burke, Virgina 22015

   Phone 703-801-2297

 

 

 

Iran Stills Holds American Citizen Robert Levinson

Robert Levinson in Orange Jump Suit

Ten years ago an American citizen, Robert Levinson was seized on Kish Island, Iran and has been held by Iran. On September 24, 2013, we published “Iran’s Signals, Calls and Marches” to bring attention to this travesty . There is a link to that publication below.

This last week to mark the date this honorable family man was illegally seized his family once again appealed for his release. Even the United Nations holds Iran responsible for the detention of Robert Levinson. The United States needs to make returning Robert Levinson a priority and hold Iran accountable for its illegal actions. Americans should contact their elected officials and the White House and demand that Bob Levinson be one of the key priorities of the government. For this public servant should not be forgotten. Ten years is too long. The Levinson family has a website with information which I have listed below.

http://www.helpboblevinson.com/

Irans Signals, Calls and Marches

MIRROR IMAGE: TRAINING TO COMBAT TERRORISM RETURNS TO NORTH CAROLINA

In 2002, the Terrorism Research Center’s Mirror Image:Training to Combat Terrorism was first conducted in North Carolina. The Terrorism Research Center over the years has trained thousands of military, law enforcement and intelligence officers in our total immersion counter-terrorism training program.  Today, the Terrorism Research Center is pleased to announce that we are once again conducting Mirror Image in North Carolina.

Insurgents Village

The purpose of Mirror Image is to allow individuals to step into the shoes of a terrorist cell or network to gain insight into the mindset and ideology as well as their operational methodology.   Our Mirror Image programs have always been guided by two things that Sun Tzu believed. “Every battle is won before it is fought.” What one does before a critical incident is vital and if you not only know but understand the enemy one can succeed. For as Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

The Terrorism Research Center’s Mirror Image training program is a five day classroom and field training program designed to simulate terrorist recruitment, training, techniques and operational tactics. This one of a kind total immersion training program places participants into simulated terrorist cells where the participants replicate the  various roles within a cell. Cells are briefed on targets and develop operational plans after conducting casing and surveillance. Each day, the participants will be taught a comprehensive program by a host of international terrorism experts. This unique program consists of hardships and long days. Starting in 2002,  TRC trained thousands of military, law enforcement, intelligence officers in North Carolina, and at Ft. Huachuca, Ft. Irwin, Camp Rilea, Camp Pendleton, Camp Billy Machen, Camp Michael Monsoor, Camp Blanding, Camp Fogarty, F.E. Warren AFB, Canada, Djibouti and other locations.

The new facility in North Carolina is within minutes from Camp Lejeune. With ranges, the largest shoot house in America, and excellent exercise areas and facilities we are excited to bring Mirror Image back to North Carolina. Here are the dates we will be conducting Mirror Image in North Carolina.

                                    April 24-28, 2017                           August 14-18, 2017

                                    May 22-26,2017                             September 25-29, 2017

                                    June 19-23, 2017                            October 16-20, 2017

                                    July 24-28, 2017                             November 13-17, 2017

Some of the topics covered include: the road to jihad, recruiting, terrorist training, cultural issues and differences, Salafist ideology, the Evolution of Al Qaeda, AQAP, ISIS, ISIS After Raqqa, Casing and Surveillance, complex attacks, Planning, Logistics, and Finances, Media, Social Media, Propaganda and the Use of Drones, Internal Security, Ambushes, Targeted Violence, Kidnappings, Case studies of terrorist attacks to include Orlando, Chattanooga, San Bernardino, Paris, Brussels, Homs, Istanbul, Ankara, Aden, and other topics.

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For more information about the Terrorism Research Center’s total immersion “Mirror Image:Training to Combat Terrorism or one of our customized Mirror Images programs or our new facility in North Carolina contact us Purdy@terrorism3.com or go to http://www.trchomelandsecurity.com to register to receive additional information.

                                                “A Virginia Company With A Global Purpose”

Terrorism Research Center Inc., 5765 F Burke Center Pkwy-PMB 331, Burke, Virginia 22015

 

The Importance of a Flag

iwo-jima-memorial

“Among the men who fought on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

                                                              -Admiral Chester W. Nimitz-

Seventy-two years ago, Marines stormed the black sand beaches of Iwo Jima. On the morning of February 19, 1945, 1st Lt. John Wells in command of 3rd Platoon, Easy Company, 28th Marines landed on the volcanic island of Iwo Jima. Wells and his Marines would be given the mission of attacking the foothills around the base of a volcanic peak named Mount Suribachi.  Lt. Wells had lead his Marines on Guadalcanal and once boasted “Give me 50 Marines not afraid to die and I can take any position.” His Marines swept across the foothills below Mount Suribachi. Wells was severely wounded and unable to walk but still he continued to command his men. He was evacuated to a hospital ship. Lt. Wells would be awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.

The battle for Iwo Jima was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. American casualties were 6,821 killed and 19,217 wounded, while the Japanese casualties were 17,845-18,375 killed or missing and only 216 prisoners captured. “Manila John” Basilone, who won his Medal of Honor for bravery on Guadalcanal would be killed in a mortar attack after he captured a Japanese defensive position on Iwo Jima.

On February 23, 1945, in the early morning hours, 40 Marines from 3rd Platoon under Lt. Harold Schrier were ordered to attack the crater on Mount Suribachi and raise an American flag for all to see. Just the sight of an American flag was inspiring for those fighting the Japanese.  After taking their objective, Marines attached a small American flag to a steel pipe and held the flag high. To the Marines who had lost so many brothers the sight of the flag was a symbol of all they were fighting for. To the Japanese on the island, the sight of the flag was a psychological blow and they knew that their homeland was threatened. Of the 40 Marines who assaulted the crater of Mount Suribachi that day, 36 would be killed or wounded on Iwo Jima. The price in American blood was high.

The “iconic flag raising” on Mount Suribachi would be the second flag raising that day. As photographer Joe Rosenthal made his way to the top of Mount Suribachi, he stated “I could see this small flag waving on a very long pole. It gave me a jolt and I get it now. That was our Flag-American Flag.” Rosenthal asked three Marines at the summit what was happening and one of them said “The Colonel down below wants a bigger flag so it can be seen by the troops all over the island.” Rosenthal would snap a picture and hope that it was as he had seen in his viewfinder.

That iconic picture of the flag raising on Iwo Jima would win Joe Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize. One picture of Americans raising the flag would inspire the nation. Three of the Marines who helped raise the flag, Harlon Block, Franklin Sousley and Michael Stank would all be killed in battle on Iwo Jima.  The three surviving flag raisers , Marines Ira Hayes, and Rene Gagnon along with Navy Corpsman John Bradley would all make it off the island. One of those Marines, Sgt. Michael Stank has been described as “the kind of Marine you read about, the kind they make movies about.”

Rosenthal’s iconic photograph would become the inspiration for Felix de Weldon’s 32-foot high sculpture entitled Marine Corps War Memorial. The sculpture replicates the flag raising on Iwo Jima and commemorates all the Marines that have died in battle since 1775. But just as on Iwo Jima that early morning seventy-two years ago, Americans stopped even in the middle of a battle to look upon the flag being raised. Some yelled out hurrahs, others waved their helmets and others fired into the air upon seeing the American flag on Japanese territory.

Flags have played an important part in our history over the years. George Washington asked Betsy Ross to sew the first American flag. Years later, Francis Scott Key inspired by seeing the American flag still flying after the bombardment of Ft. McHenry by the British, that he wrote the Star Spangled Banner. And yet, our national symbol has been burned by protestors and dishonored by sports athletes in recent years. Our great country is not perfect in anyway. However, we allow individuals to protest and seek redress. But to disrespect the symbol of America and those who lost their lives fighting for all that the flag represents is a travesty.

I have unfortunately had to see too many flag draped coffins over the years. Yet, even in death, one of the greatest military honors is to be cloaked with one’s flag. Today, seventy-two years later, one should understand the importance of the flag that even under gunfire Marines raised this American symbol not once but twice for all to see. For after all, it is not only a symbol of America but of our national pride, patriotism and unity of purpose. And we honor those who seventy-two years ago fought and died on Iwo Jima under that flag.

Houthi Rebels: An Emerging Threat in the Red Sea

yemen-djibouti

 “The land of Sheba is once again bedeviled by blood feuds, tribal warfare and conflict. All is normal in Yemen.”

Not long ago I watched as ships navigated the waters between Djibouti and Yemen and the clouds seem to roll westward. This natural chokepoint with its sparkling blue waters has attracted global interests since the first European fleet under Afonso de Albuquerque, the Duke of Goa sailed through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait.

For years, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been perfecting their “swarming attack technique” sending Iranian fast boats in a dispersed formation to attack a ship using anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and suicide bomber boats. While the IRGC has perfected these tactics and techniques in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, it should surprise no one when Iranian-trained Houthi rebels in Yemen employ these same tactics in the Red Sea. Besides exporting these tactics and techniques, Iran has supplied weapons to the Houthi militias. Along with traditional small arms, Iran has provided the Houthis with anti-ship missiles surface-to- surface short range missiles, and sea mines. Iran has smuggled arms to their Houthi allies across Oman and on the seas. Even before this latest conflict, Yemen was a land filled with weapons. With the introduction of anti-ship missiles, the threat to shipping in the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait have increased. Yemen remains caught in a quagmire. The Houthis militias fighting for Zaidi Shia Muslims joined with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to fight against President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. President Hadi has been backed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, the United States, England and France. The Iranians have supported the Houthis in this conflict. With all this chaos in Yemen, terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State have taken advantage of the situation.There is a great line written by Freya Stark in “The Southern Gates of Arabia: A Journey in the Hadhramaut which states:

“From here the old navigator sailed southward between converging coasts. Where the sun-darkened waves grow more frequent, he entered the channel of Bab el Mandeb, which forces the sea together and shuts it into a narrow strait, the passage which the island Dioduros (Perim) divides.”

The Bab el-Mandeb Strait sits at the southern end of the Red Sea and is strategically vital to the movement of commerce globally. The Bab el- Mandeb Straits are divided into the larger Strait with a width of about 16 miles and the smaller Strait with a width of about 2 miles from the island of Perim to the mainland of Yemen. Early on in the Yemen civil war, Houthi rebels placed numerous weapons on Perim Island. In October 2015, troops loyal to Yemeni President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Saudi troops retook the strategically important island.

bab-el-mandeb-straits

The southern gate of the Red Sea is important for economic, political, and military reasons.  The Red Sea continues to be a principal route for trade between the East and West. It has been estimated that 4% of the global oil supply and about 10% of the Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) supply pass through the Straits. Oil has always been a prime target for terrorists. On October 6, 2002, Al-Qaeda sent two suicide bombers in a small boat to attack the French oil tanker MV Limburg in the Gulf of Aden near the port city of Al-Mukalla. Abu Khaythama and Abu al-Hareth al-Badawi aimed their fast moving suicide boat at the starboard side of the oil tanker. The French oil tanker had loaded 400,000 barrels of oil at Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia and was enroute to the Minah Al-Dabah Oil Terminal in Yemen to load another 1.5 million barrels of oil when it was attacked. The tactic of using one or multiple speed boats with explosives highlights the ease with which terrorists can target and attack shipping.

houthi-speed-boat-just-before-it-explodes

Houthi suicide boat speeding toward a Saudi frigate just before it explodes.

On January 30, 2017, several Houthi speed boats buzzed around a Saudi navy Al-Madinah class missile frigate, as it patrolled the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen.  The suicide bomber boat sped towards the stern of the frigate and detonated killing two Saudi navy sailors and injuring three others. The above picture captured aboard the Saudi frigate moments before the explosion shows the suicide bombers boat speeding towards its target. Over the years the Iranians have pioneered the harassing tactic and used it for years in the Strait of Hormuz. Today, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are deploying not only Iranian missiles but utilizing this tactic of multiple speed boats harassing and attacking targets.

saudi-navy-frigate-attacked

The Saudi Navy should have never allowed the small craft to close the distance and should have engaged the target. The tactic of using a small boat to deliver a suicide bomb was first used in Yemen when Al-Qaeda attacked the USS Cole.

On the morning of October 12, 2000, the USS Cole entered Aden harbor to refuel.  At 07:46 a.m. the harbor pilot, Ibrahim came aboard and began the process of guiding the warship into Aden harbor.  By 08:49 a.m.  the warship was moored starboard side to Refueling Dolphin # 7.  The harbor pilot departed the Cole by 09:40 a.m. and the crew began the process of refueling at station three at 10:31 a.m.  Hasan al-Khamiri and Ibrahim al-Thawr launched the boat packed with explosives from Al-Haswah Beach.

The two suicide bombers slowly started to make their way on the water passing fishing boats in the harbor. Two small boats had retrieved the trash from the Cole. The suicide bombers on their small boat would make like they were another trash boat approaching the Cole. The Navy ship was only going to be in port long enough to drop its trash and refuel.  According to a Petty Officer, “A few minutes before the blast on October 12, 2000, the Executive Officer made an announcement on the 1MC stating that we should be completed with fueling and expecting to get underway by 1330 and if possible we would get underway sooner.”  The two suicide bombers guided their boat to the port side, amid ship, waved, smiled, saluted and detonated their bomb.

The crew worked diligently to save their ship and shipmates.  Commander Kirk Lippold had trained his crew to be able to handle various critical incidents. In reality, that day one of America’s most technological warships should have sank twice.  But the Captain and crew would not allow that to happen.

Seventeen sailors lost their lives that day and another thirty-seven were wounded in the attack. Like their ship’s namesake, the sailors of the USS Cole displayed great courage aiding their wounded and keeping their ship afloat. The USS Cole is named for Marine Sergeant Darrell Cole, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry in the battle for Iwo Jima.

The Bab el Mandeb Strait is a strategic chokepoint where much of the regions commerce travels through the Red Sea. After the recent attack on the Saudi frigate the USS Cole was ordered back to patrol the area of the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. There has been some speculation that the Iranian-trained Houthis thought they were attacking an American frigate. In the same area where the Saudi frigate was attacked, Iranian trained Houthi rebels fired missiles at the USS Mason and the USS Ponce. These US Navy ships were in international waters when fired upon by Iran’s proxy in Yemen. The USS Mason fired missiles in response. On October 13, 2016, the US Navy destroyer, the USS Nitze launched numerous Tomahawk missiles at land based radar sites in Yemen destroying them. Missile attacks in the Red Sea by the Houthis pose a significant danger to vessels navigating the Red Sea and the Straits. The United Arab Emirates unarmed ship HSV-2 Swift was struck by a Houthi fired C-802 anti-ship missile doing significant damage to the aluminum catamaran vessel. The Chinese made C-802 anti-ship missile has a range of nearly 75 miles and could strike any ships in the Red Sea approaching the Bab el-Mandeb Straits. Iran has also copied this Chinese missile and manufactured a version of their own called the “Noor.”

swift

All shipping transiting the Red Sea southbound or those entering the Bab el-Mandeb must be aware of the dangers posed by Houthi’s missiles and speed boats.   With an increased US Navy presence to maintain the freedom of navigation through the Bab el Mandeb and provide a defensive presence for ships transiting the Strait as long as ships stay away from Yemen this threat shouldn’t pose a grave danger but more of a nuisance.

The attacks on the MV Limburg, the USS Cole, and now a Saudi frigate show how easy these types of attacks can be undertaken.  There are numerous defensive actions that can be taken to prevent these types of attacks. Each one of these attacks are quite different but do highlight  adversaries that are adapting their attacks to be successful. What is more troublesome is that Iran has provided missiles to the Houthis that pose a greater threat to shipping in the Red Sea. Whom else might Iran provide missiles to that pose a new threat in the future?

The lands of Sheba today not only have to deal with the civil war between the Yemen government and the Houthis but also with various proxies fighting other proxies in this theater. Terrorists groups like Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are established and looking to take advantage of the chaos. With no end in sight, the Red Sea and the Bab el-Mandeb could play a bigger role in these conflicts.

 

Terrorist Martyrdom Operations: Paris, Wurzburg, New York

Any trip to Paris would be incomplete without stops at the Louvre Museum and the Eiffel Tower. The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world housing art from Rembrandt, Raphael, Goya, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Donatello and other great artists. Abdullah Reda Refaei al-Hamamy spent time at both Paris tourist attractions scouting his targets. He would also take selfies marking his targets on social media.

On January 26, 2017, Abdullah Reda Refaei al-Hamamy boarded a flight from Dubai with a tourist visa and headed for Paris. Upon his arrival he rented an upscale apartment in the 8th Arrondissement paying €1700 for a one-week stay. Two days later he entered a gun shop and purchased two machetes. Below is a picture of the upscale apartment building where Al-Hamamy rented an apartment.

paris-apartment

Located on the Right Bank of the Seine River, the Louvre Museum in 2016 saw a decrease to just over 7 million visitors. As one of the most visited sites in Paris, tourists, school groups and others line up for entry and to pass through security. After the 2015 terrorist attacks at Charlie Hebdo, the Bataclan Concert hall, the Stadium of France and restaurants, about 3500 French soldiers have patrolled tourist sites and other potential targets. One might think that deploying soldiers to potential terrorist targets in Paris might be a deterrent.

However, just before 10:00 a.m. on February 3, 2017, Al-Hamamy bypassed the main entrances to the Louvre Museum. He did not wait in the long lines of people seeking admission and waiting to pass through the security checkpoints. Instead he attempted to gain entry through the Carrousel du Louvre Shopping Mall entryway. Individuals using this entryway have the option of going to the shops and restaurants or to the one almost secret entrance to the museum. When using this entry to the museum one needs to already have purchased a ticket and have no large bags or large items with them.   Below is a picture of the Le Carrousel du Louvre “secret  entrance.”

le-carrousel-du-louvre-entranceway

French soldiers told Al-Hamamy that he couldn’t enter the museum with his two backpacks. Four armed French soldiers were not a deterrent to conducting an attack. For at the end of these types of attacks the terrorist is hoping that he will become a martyr.Armed with a machete in each hand he began attacking the soldiers yelling Allahu Akbar.” This not a phrase one wants to hear being yelled on a bus or at a potential terrorist target site. Al-Hamamy struck one of the soldiers with a machete causing an injury before being shot multiple times. Al-Hamamy survived his attack but like the other attackers in New York and on the German train these individuals were all seeking martyrdom. These attackers all sought to self-sacrificing themselves seeking what they believe would lead them to paradise. Below is the article Just Terror Tactics in ISIS’s Rumiyah magazine.

isis-rumiyah-magazine

Just before Al-Hamamy conducted this attack he tweeted the following “for our brothers in Syria and fighters across the world. No negotiations, no compromise, no retreat, relentless war.” The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’s (ISIS) propaganda arm Al-Hayat Media Center in the second edition of Rumiyah magazine called for individuals to attack infidels. In an article entitled, Just Terror Tactics ISIS stated:

“One need not be a military expert or a martial arts master, or even own a gun or rifle in order to carry out a massacre or to kill and injure several disbelievers and terrorize an entire nation.”

If one has no firearms one can easily acquire a knife, an ax or a machete. There are no barriers to acquire a weapon to attack the enemies of ISIS. One doesn’t even need training or to be an expert to carry out these attacks. One doesn’t need expensive weapons or bomb making experience is what ISIS is publishing to it’s followers and potential attackers.

ISIS continues to recruit individuals who can launch low-tech attacks. ISIS is using a two-prong strategy of having trained and untrained individuals launch attacks. By radicalizing individuals online and using encrypted apps, ISIS makes it more difficult to identify and stop potential terrorists. ISIS doesn’t need attackers to travel to obtain terrorist or weapons training. Traveling to Syria or Libya or somewhere else makes it easier for intelligence services to identify potential terrorists. ISIS recognizes this and tells individuals not to travel to Syria. By combining a strategy of using trained terrorists with firearms and suicide bomber vests along with untrained individuals armed only with a knife, ax, machete or truck ISIS is making it hard to detect these plots.

german-train-attacker-ahmadzai

One of the last things Riaz Khan Ahmadzai communicated before he executed his terror attack  was “Pray for me to be a martyr, I am waiting for the train.” On July 18, 2016, Riaz Khan Ahmadzai boarded a regional German train traveling from Treuchtlingen to Wurzburg, Bavaria. As the train pulled into the Wurzburg station Ahmadzai attacked passengers onboard with an ax and a knife. After injuring four people on the train he fled. He attacked another individual before being cornered by police. Ahmadzai refused to surrender and attacked the police with his ax and was shot and killed.

Ahmadzai, a 17-year old arrived via Austria in 2015 as an unaccompanied minor refugee seeking asylum. He arrived in Germany claiming to a refugee from Afghanistan. He was placed in a refugee center in Ochsenfurt where he lived until being placed in a foster home. Ahmadzai communicated with an ISIS handler who asked him:

What weapons do you intend to use?                        “Knives and ax.”
Would not it be better to do it with a car?                 “I can’t drive.”
You should learn.                                                                “Learning cost time.”
The damage would also be significantly greater.   “I want to come to paradise tonight.”

Just before the attack he sent a video clip to his ISIS handler in which he stated “I am a soldier of the caliphate and will be doing a martyrdom operation here in Germany.” Ahmadzai also wrote a letter in Pashtun to his father and said, Now pray for me that I can take revenge on these nonbelievers, and pray for me, that I make my way into heaven.”

Within weeks of Ahmadzai being moved from a refugee center to a foster home he was able to execute this attack. In the video released by ISIS Ahmadzai bragged about living among you and that he “planned against you in your land.” He stated My message to the Islamic nation-wake up, the Islamic Caliph is established. Support the Muslim Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” There can be no doubt as to his motivation for conducting this attack. We can expect ISIS to continue to inspire its followers to conduct attacks like these.

attacking-4-nyps

Who would attack four armed police officers? On October 23, 2014, four police officers were standing together on Jamaica Ave in Queens, New York. A photographer asked if he might take a picture of the four officers together. As the photographer took the picture Zale Thompson moved into position with his ax. Thompson attacked the four New York Police officers with an 18-inch ax. A convert to Islam, Thompson had taken the kunya-Zaim Farouq Abdul Malik. The 32-year old man from Queens had served in the Navy but had been discharged in 2003 for misconduct. He had explored various radical sites online and was clearly seeking martyrdom. Posted under his kunya Zaim Farouq Abdul Malik stated, “Which is better, to sit around and do nothing, or to wage jihad.”

Why else would one attack four armed police officers with an ax? Two officers were injured in the attack before the assailant was killed. While these attacks make no sense, the statements of these terrorists show their intentions. One of Thompson’s statements shows his mindset and how he wanted to launch an attack.

“Helicopters, big military will be useless on their own soil. They will not be able to defeat our people if we use guerrilla warfare. Attack their weak flanks.”

We will continue to see ISIS identify individuals that can be manipulated and motivated to undertake terrorist attacks using low-tech weapons like knives, axes, machetes, and trucks. The benefits for ISIS are that these “inspired” terrorists are hard to identify, detect and stop. Little to no investment is required by terrorist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda since the “inspired terrorist” provides their own weapons. These terrorist group don’t have to arrange for travel, logistics, security, safe houses finances or training to execute these attacks.  Terrorist groups like ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will continue to call for these attacks as well as focus attention on jihadists who have undertaken these types of attacks.By doing this they may be able to inspire others to undertake and execute attacks.This death by a thousand cuts strategy keeps these terror attacks in the media, terrorizes people and makes the law enforcement and intelligence community expend resources trying to identify and prevent them from happening. Thus, enabling terrorist groups to spend their time and resources on “planned attacks.”

ISIS War Criminals Burn Two Turkish Soldiers Alive

In Isaac Asimov’s novel Foundation, the fictional character Salvor Hardin says that “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” As ISIS gets squeezed in Iraq and Syria we are seeing more senseless violence. Instead of republishing the horrific video of the two brave Turkish soldiers that ISIS burned alive, the faces of those cowardly terrorists who committed crimes against humanity should be spread far and near so that they will never be free and someday face justice.They should be branded as War Criminals who have committed crimes against humanity.

picture-1    picture-2

    picture-3     picture-4                      ISIS fighters who participated in the burning of two Turkish Soldiers.

On December 22, 2016, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a horrific 19-minute videotape entitled “The Cross Shield” in which one of the many items portrayed was the brutal execution of two Turkish soldiers. The two Turkish soldiers who had been captured by ISIS were humiliated by being held in a cage, forced to wear a metal spiked collar, made to crawl on all fours while being led from the cage by ISIS fighters who walked the chained soldiers similar to walking a dog. The two fighters then walked the two brave Turkish soldiers to their death.  The two Turkish soldiers were chained to the ground then slowly set on fire. This despicable treatment by ISIS fighters should surprise no one since ISIS has been incessantly violent since its founding.

ISIS has burned to death numerous people over the last two years often going to great theatricals in the process of robbing another person of life. Whether they were burning alive Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, a Jordanian pilot, or 19 Yazidi girls who refused to be sex slaves, ISIS has committed some of the most horrific brutal killings. All of these individuals whom they slaughtered were brave in the face of death. No people should ever be treated in the manner that these terrorists have treated and slaughtered thousands of individuals.

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After more than five years of fighting Syria and Russia seek an end to hostilities with a cease fire. Hopefully justice comes sooner than later for those ISIS terrorists who know nothing but brutality. One way or another an example needs to be made of those ISIS terrorists who have committed so many crimes against humanity. As the next Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis has previously said, “there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.” Well, we know three that fit that build.

Terrorists Moved American Kidnapped in Niger to Mali

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For the past 25 years an American has been providing humanitarian aid to some of the poorest people in Niger. This American has devoted his life to assisting the poor in Niger. Niger has seen an influx of refugees seeking to escape terrorists in Nigeria and Mali. Thousands of individuals have fled Nigeria and the Boko Haram ending up as refugees in Niger. The same has happened in Mali where thousands have fled Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb and Al-Mourabitoun for the safety of Niger.

Recently, Jeff Woodke, an American had been working with Tuareg and Fulani nomads in Niger. But on Friday gunmen on a motorcycle arrived at Woodke’s compound in Abalak. The terrorist killed Woodke’s compound caretaker Almajoub Al-Kassoum and his security guard Mahamoud Youssouf before seizing him. This was not a random act but a coordinated planned effort to kidnap an American.

Clearly worried Woodke might have a tracking device on his person, a second team of kidnappers stripped him and placed him in a white Toyota Hilux which headed in the direction of Mali. A Niger government official stated that the terrorists had crossed the Malian border headed towards the Menaka Region of Mali.

The kidnappers had divided their tasks between the assassination team to neutralize the target’s security and the seizure team tasked to secure the target. Clearly the terrorists had intelligence about the movements of the target, his security and the condition of his compound wall. Early indications all point to a group of terrorists from Mali with a history of kidnappings, assassinations and attacks.

 

Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) 

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In October 2011, Hamad al Khairy, Ahmed el-Tilemsi and Sultan Ould Badi created the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), breaking from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM).  The terrorist group wasted no time kidnapping three European Aid workers in western Algeria on October 23, 2011. Two Spanish citizens and one Italian were seized from the Tindouf refugee camp. The three Europeans were exchanged in July 2012 for three jihadists being held by Mauritania. In 2012, MUJAO, AQIM and Ansar al-Dine seized the Malian cities of Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao. In April 2012, the MUJAO seized the Algerian Consulate in Gao and kidnapped 7 Algerian Diplomats. After a period of time the terrorist executed Taber Touati, the Algerian Vice Consul. Three of the other diplomats were released.

The goal of the MUJAO is to impose sharia law across West Africa. But the currency of the terrorist group has been kidnappings. In August 2013, Mokhtar Belmokhtar merged his “Those Who Sign in Blood Brigade” with MUJAO to form al-Morabitoun (The Sentinels).  This terrorist group has conducted suicide bombings, kidnappings, attacked military, police facilities, and refugee camps. The Sahel Region of Niger and Mali is unsafe because of terrorist groups like Boko Haram, AQIM, Ansar al-Dine and al-Morabitoun.

Just yesterday terrorists sought to break out inmates from Niger’s high security Koutoukale Prison.  The attackers arrived once again on motorcycles and attacked the front gate of the prison riddling the columns at the front gate with bullet holes. The high security prison about 30 miles northwest of Niamey houses over 500 inmates including a large number of Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb and other jihadists. One of the attackers was killed during the firefight and no prisoners were freed. Unlike other terrorist attempts to free comrades and other likeminded jihadists these terrorists were never able to breach the prison as in Iraq and Afghanistan prison breaks. We will continue to see violence spill over the border from Mali and Nigeria in the long term until efforts to eradicate terrorists in Mali and Nigeria are successful. Niger’s borders are porous and open to anyone seeking to cross them.

Once again the kidnapping of Jeff Woodke and other internal attacks in Niger should highlight to all that terrorism is a regional problem that knows no borders. Niger will continue to have to deal with terrorist from Mali and Nigeria. Americans overseas in areas bordering conflict will continue to be targeted by Salafist terrorist groups. One hundred and thirty miles across a porous border is not too far for a terrorist group to go to seize an American.

 

 

FARC Ends Reign of Terror Opts for Peace for Colombia

“Hope is essential for peace and stability. Men and women everywhere need incomes to support their families and they need the satisfaction of doing something worthwhile and   meaningful in their lives.”

                                                                                              Senator George Mitchell
                                                                                              Oversaw the Good Friday Accord

After 52 years of fighting, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government signed a deal to bring peace to the country. Yesterday history was made in the Julio Cesar Turbay Ayala Convention Center in the city of Cartagena. The city that Pedro de Heredia founded in 1533 became the city of peace when Colombian President Juan Manual Santos and FARC Commander Rodrigo Londono, use a bullet pen to end the fighting. Both men were dressed in white shirts

                                                “The horrible night has ceased.”

                                                                                                President Juan Santos

In May 1964, Manuel Marulanda a member of the Colombian Communist Party and Jacobo Arenas formed what would later be known as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). After the period in Colombia referred to as “the Violence,” the Colombian government cracked down on a communist peasant collective in the mountain region of Marquetalia. On May 27, 1964, forty-eight communist guerillas led by Manuel “Sure Shot” Marulanda fought the Colombian Army forces in Marquetalia. Guerrilla fighters gathered in the First Guerrilla Conference after this battle and declared they would defend the people from the government and would now be called the Southern Bloc.

With the Second Guerrilla Conference in May 1966, the group took the name the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Evolving out of the communist leftist movement in Colombia, the FARC took much of its early identity and ideology from the works of Lenin, Marx, Simon Bolivar, and Che Guevara. Jacobo Arenas sought to structure the FARC more as an army and improve the weapons the FARC would use on the battlefield. But the FARC would evolve and undertake kidnappings, assassinations, bombings, extortions, and become a major player in the cocaine trade. The FARC grew with its proceeds from kidnappings, drug, mining, and taxing operations. Over the years, the terror increased in Colombia as the FARC conducted attacks on soldiers, police, politicians, citizens and foreigners. Foreigners including missionaries, petroleum engineers, businessmen, and non-governmental organizations working in rural areas were often targeted for kidnappings.

On January 16, 1994, members of the FARC’s Fifty-Third Front kidnapped two American missionaries from the New Tribes Mission School in Villavicencio, Colombia. The FARC had demanded $2 million dollars for their release. The two Americans, Steve Welsh and Timothy Van Dyke were shot at point-blank range in 1995. Welsh had arrived in Colombia in 1981 and Van Dyke, his wife and four children arrived in 1989. From 1996 to 2005 a person was kidnapped every eight hours on average. Kidnappings were one of the major undertakings of the FARC. On February 20, 2002, members of the FARC hijacked a domestic flight carrying Senator Jorge Eduardo Gechem Turbay. Three days later they kidnapped Senator and Presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. The FARC held three Americans contractors, Marc Gonsalves, Tom Howes and Keith Stansell hostage for 1,967 days when their aircraft crashed in a FARC held area. Starved, marched through the jungles of Colombia, the three were finally rescued in a daring piece of deception and boldness along with a dozen others including Ingrid Betancourt.

Over the years, the government and the FARC have undertaken numerous attempts at peace. On May 2, 1999 President Pastrana and Manuel Marulanda agreed to talk peace. The government agreed to a demilitarized zone for the FARC that consisted of 16,000 square miles. President Alvaro Uribe Velez campaigned to take the fight to the FARC and that is what he did cancelling the demilitarized zone after the FARC hijacked an airplane and kidnapped a Senator from it.

From 1997 through 2001, the IRA sent a number of mobile training teams to Colombia to train the FARC on explosives, mortars, missiles and urban warfare. In exchange for millions of dollars the Provisional IRA sent training teams to Colombia. On August 11, 2001, three IRA individuals, James “Mortar” Monaghan, Niall Connolly, and Martin McCauley were arrested in Bogota, after they returned from training FARC cadre for five weeks. Monaghan was skilled in the design and manufacturing of homemade mortars. The FARC used mortars in the May 2001 attack on the Presidential Palace in Bogota during the inauguration of President Uribe. In 2002, homemade mortars were also used in the FARC’s attack on the town of Bellavista which killed 119 people. The mortar was identical to the IRA’s Mark 15 developed by James Monaghan.

On March 1, 2008, Colombian troops attacked a camp one mile over the Ecuadoran border and killed senior FARC commander Raul Reyes. His death was a significant blow to the FARC leadership. Then on March 25, 2008, Manuel “Sure Shot” Marulanda, the founder and leader of the FARC died of a heart attack. The FARC’s seven-person leadership council “the Secretariat” appointed Alfonso Cano as the new leader in May 2008. Three years later, Cano was killed by the Colombian military. In November 2011, Rodrigo Londono Echeverri became the Commander of the FARC. Better known as Timoleon, he had risen through the ranks of the FARC since joining in 1993. The United States has a $5 million-dollar reward on Rodrigo Londono Echeverri for the distribution of hundreds of tons of cocaine to the United States. For the last fours the FARC and the Colombian government have been negotiating the end of this fifty-four years of conflict that has killed over 220,000 individuals.

                      “Let no one doubt that we will now pursue politics without weapons.”

                                                                                                 Rodrigo Londono Echeverri                                                                                                                                                            FARC Commander

Whether Rodrigo Londono becomes the Gerry Adams of Colombia remains to be seen. However, the first steps to a long lasting peace begins one step at a time. The signing of the Peace Agreement is an impressive step in the right direction. The next six months will determine whether this peace agreement has any chance to take hold in a country that has known only war and conflict for the last fifty-two years.

On October 2, 2016, the people will have the opportunity to vote on the peace agreement. As one Colombian citizen stated “we are tired of war.” The FARC will have to turn in their weapons within the next five months and begin their reintegration into society. Then the countryside will have to be cleared of the thousands of mines that have been set out during this conflict. Governance, economic opportunities, a pivot away from illicit drug trade and hope for the Colombian people all must be addressed in the short term. But what the Colombian people now have is hope for the future. And hopefully the rest of the world sees that terrorism and war sooner or later burns out and that the true genius of men is for compromise. Now if only a few other people in conflict can learn this lesson without spending so many years killing.