Sunday, December 2, 2012

Piracy plunges as more ships start carrying armed guards

Michelle Wiese Bockmann Posted: 12/1/2012

LONDON -- Pirate attacks on merchant vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean fell 81 per cent this year as the use of armed security guards on ships acted as a "game-changer," according to the European Union's naval force.
There were 34 attacks by Somali pirates, with five vessels hijacked so far in 2012, compared to a record 176 assaults in the whole of last year that resulted in 25 ships seized for ransom, according to Peter Olive, the EU Naval Force's chief of staff.
Ransom payments to Somali pirates totaled $36 million so far this year, compared with $147 million last year, he said Thursday at a briefing at the EU's naval force headquarters at Northwood, England. As well as more aggressive military operations, the increasing deployment of private guards over the last 18 months on vessels transiting high-risk areas contributed to the declines, Olive said.
"In 2011, the numbers of private armed security teams went up significantly and that has been a big game-changer as well, though not the only factor," Olive said. "If that pressure is taken off it can all start to be unpicked relatively rapidly," he added, referring to industry and military measures to combat piracy.
Naval forces from three missions are deploying as many as 20 ships at a time, patrolling an area larger than Europe, to disrupt pirates who threaten international trade. The cost of piracy last year was estimated at $6.9 billion, including $1.3 billion spent on military operations and $1.16 billion on armed guards and vessel security, according to a report in February by One Earth Future Foundation. About 42,450 vessels transit the region each year, with as many as half using armed guards by the end of 2011, the Broomfield, Colo.-based nonprofit said.
"The fact there is private armed security employed in the region, there's nobody who's happy with that," said Hank Ort, chief of staff for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's counter-piracy mission. "From a NATO point of view, it's not something we take a position on. Having said that, it does help; ships that get attacked that have security have always been able to get away."
Trade through the region is valued at $1 trillion, according to the EU naval force, known as EU Navfor. About 35 per cent of crude oil shipped by sea and 20 per cent of oil traded worldwide transits through the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Twenty per cent of the world's liquefied natural gas from Qatar also passed through the strait, it said.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Coalition leaders float nuclear navy

     USS Hawaii 


10 NOV 2012

Top Coalition leaders want to open the debate over the purchase of nuclear submarines to replace the navy’s diesel fleet, a huge step up in Australia’s military capability in response to China’s plan to become a major maritime power in the Pacific Ocean.

Senior Coalition frontbenchers told The Weekend Financial Review that acquiring or leasing Virginia-class nuclear submarines equipped with conventional weapons, such as cruise missiles, would be supported by the Obama Administration.

Purchasing the submarines is not yet Coalition policy but some shadow ministers have discussed the idea with United States officials. Australia’s dependence on seaborne trade and China’s ambitions make a powerful submarine fleet the most sensible naval strategy, some Coalition leaders believe, and nuclear submarines would be more reliable and lethal than Australia’s existing submarines.

In discussions with defence experts US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich reiterated American willingness to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which could receive technical support at US naval bases in Hawaii and Guam. In the longer term, this could lead to a joint Australian-US submarine base in the west or north of Australia.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta fly to Perth next week for annual defence talks with Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Defence Minister Stephen Smith.

Privately, some defence ministers in Asia support Australia obtaining nuclear-powered submarines because of mounting tensions with China, which has territorial disputes with India, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines, sources said.

“Putting all submarine options on the table will lessen the chance we end up with a hollow force in 25 years’ time,” said James Brown, a military fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy. “But Australians should understand that nuclear propulsion does not mean nuclear weapons.’’

China launched its first aircraft carrier in September. Analysts think it operates up to 10 nuclear and 60 conventional submarines.

“China continues to build submarines at a rate unmatched anywhere in the world whilst the quality and capability of [its] fleet increases faster than [its] GDP,” said James Harrap, a former captain of two Australian submarines.

Nuclear submarines were ruled out by the Labor government in its 2009 Defence White Paper, which advocated 12 “blue-water” conventional boats. A nuclear fleet would be cheaper than the white paper plan, which the Australian Strategic Policy Institute estimated at about $36 billion.

Alongside the National Broadband Network it would be the biggest public works program in Australia’s history. In February The Australian Financial Review reported that Mr Bleich said that “whether [Australia] pursues diesel power or nuclear power … the US is willing to help”. The strategy fits with the current US policy to “pivot” military forces towards Asia from Europe. It would contribute to the US costs of maintaining regional stability.

There is a precedent for the move. In the late 1980s Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan agreed to export the design, nuclear reactors, and technical know-how necessary to permit Canada to build 12 Trafalgar class nuclear submarines.

As part of a review of the Defence Department’s submarine project, which could include a commission of audit, a Coalition government would also evaluate Britain’s Astute class nuclear submarines. They are, however, believed to be inferior in cost, capabilities, and suitability to the Virginia class, which the US produces at the rate of one or two a year.

Rear Admiral Peter Clarke, who was commander of Australia’s Collins Class Submarine Force Element Group, and is the only Australian to have commanded a nuclear submarine and a conventional submarine, said it was in America’s interest for the Royal Australian Navy to operate nuclear submarines.

“Australia would be much better served with nuclear rather than conventional submarines based on our strategic requirements and my experience commanding both,” he said. “Provided the right questions are asked at the right level, I’d be very surprised if the US did not favourably consider this.”

Senior Coalition frontbenchers believe Australia suffers from a maritime capability “gap”. Recently retired Collins class commander James Harrap does not believe Australia’s submarines are sustainable in the long-run and “will most likely be so technically obsolete by 2022 that the credibility of the capability it offers will be seriously eroded”.

Another idea gaining traction in the Coalition is a bridging solution for Australia’s submarine fleet. Under the plan Australia would build a limited number of second-generation Collins class submarines that resolve the propulsion chain problems that have plagued previous vessels. Alternatively, it could construct an “off-the-shelf” design with proven operating experience.

Since the highly regarded Japanese Soryu class submarines are not available for export, a leading off-the-shelf candidate is the German Type 214 boat, which has similar range to the Collins.

Close US ally South Korea has bought nine Type 214s, which it is building locally. The Type 214 has a fuel-cell based “air-independent propulsion” system that allows it to remain underwater for two to three weeks without the need to “snort”. The current Collins class have a maximum underwater operating endurance of around two to three days.

Former submariner Rex Patrick, who trains the Australian, Malaysian and Singaporean navies in undersea warfare, says, “Australia’s annual submarine cost is approaching $1 billion. This has given us a pedestrian capability that usually delivers only two deployable boats. For $2 billion, we could build four Type 214s, which would supply navy with a dependable, high-end platform that meets 90 per cent of our requirements.”

Commander Harrap concludes, “Lack of platform reliability is the single most limiting factor for the Collins. Let’s never repeat that mistake. A submarine capable of most of the tasking available most of the time is better than one that claims to do all of the tasking but is only available some of the time.”

Link to Article Here

Thursday, October 18, 2012


October 18, 2012 | 0900 GMT

Article from Stratfor

By Scott Stewart

The Obama administration's efforts to counter the threat posed by al Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement have been a contentious topic in the U.S. presidential race. Political rhetoric abounds on both sides; administration officials claim that al Qaeda has been seriously crippled, while some critics of the administration allege that the group is stronger than ever. As with most political rhetoric, both claims bear elements of truth, but the truth depends largely on how al Qaeda and jihadism are defined. Unfortunately, politicians and the media tend to define al Qaeda loosely and incorrectly.
The jihadist threat will persist regardless of who is elected president, so understanding the actors involved is critical. But a true understanding of those actors requires taxonomical acuity. It seems worthwhile, then, to revisit Stratfor's definitions of al Qaeda and the wider jihadist movement.

A Network of Networks

Al Qaeda, the group established by Osama bin Laden and his colleagues, was never very large -- there were never more than a few hundred actual members. We often refer to this group, now led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, as the al Qaeda core or al Qaeda prime. While the group's founders trained tens of thousands of men at their camps in Afghanistan and Sudan, they initially viewed themselves as a vanguard organization working with kindred groups to facilitate the jihad they believed was necessary to establish a global Islamic caliphate. Most of the men trained at al Qaeda camps were members of other organizations or were grassroots jihadists. The majority of them received basic paramilitary training, and only a select few were invited to receive additional training in terrorist tradecraft skills such as surveillance, document forgery and bombmaking. Of this select group, only a few men were invited to join the al Qaeda core organization.

Bin Laden envisioned another purpose for al Qaeda: leading the charge against corrupt rulers in the Muslim world and against the United States, which he believed supported corrupt Muslim rulers. Al Qaeda sought to excise the United States from the Muslim world in much the same way that Hezbollah drove U.S. forces out of Lebanon and Somalia forced the U.S. withdrawal from Mogadishu.
Al Qaeda became a network of networks -- a trait demonstrated not only by its training methods but also in bin Laden's rhetoric. For example, bin Laden's 1998 "World Islamic Front" statement, which declared jihad against Jews and Crusaders, was signed by al-Zawahiri (who at the time was leading the Egyptian Islamic Jihad) and leaders of other groups, including the Egyptian Islamic Group, Jamiat-ul-Ulema-e-Pakistan and the Jihad Movement of Bangladesh.

Following the 9/11 attacks, the United States applied against the al Qaeda core the full pressure of its five counterterrorism levers: intelligence, military, law enforcement, diplomacy and financial sanctions. As a result, many al Qaeda members, eventually including bin Laden, were captured or killed and their assets were frozen. Such measures have ensured that the group remains small for operational security concerns. The remaining members of the group mostly are lying low in Pakistan near the Afghan border, and their isolation there has severely degraded their ability to conduct attacks. The al Qaeda core is now relegated to producing propaganda for guidance and inspiration for other jihadist elements. Despite the disproportionate amount of media attention given to statements from al-Zawahiri and Adam Gadahn, the al Qaeda core constitutes only a very small part of the larger jihadist movement. In fact, it has not conducted a successful terrorist attack in years.
However, the core group has not been destroyed. It could regenerate if the United States eased its pressure, but we believe that will be difficult given the loss of the charismatic bin Laden and his replacement by the irascible al-Zawahiri.

In any case, the jihadist movement transcends the al Qaeda core. In fact, Stratfor for years published an annual forecast of al Qaeda, but beginning in 2009, we intentionally changed the title of the forecast to reflect the isolation and marginalization of the al Qaeda core and the ascendance of other jihadist actors. We believed our analysis needed to focus less on the al Qaeda core and more on the truly active and significant elements of the jihadist movement, including regional groups that have adopted the al Qaeda name and the array of grassroots jihadists.

Franchises and Grassroots

An element of the jihadist movement that is often loosely referred to as al Qaeda is the worldwide network of local or regional militant groups that have assumed al Qaeda's name or ideology. In many cases, the relationships between the leadership of these groups and the al Qaeda core began in the 1980s and 1990s.
Some groups have publicly claimed allegiance to the al Qaeda core, becoming what we refer to as franchise groups. These groups include al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Even though these franchises bear the al Qaeda name, they are locally owned and operated. This means that the local commanders have significant latitude in how closely they follow the guidance and philosophy of the al Qaeda core.

Some franchise group leaders, such as AQAP's Nasir al-Wahayshi, maintain strong relationships with the al Qaeda core and are very closely aligned with the core's philosophy. Other leaders, such as Abu Musab Abd al-Wadoud of AQIM, are more distanced. In fact, AQIM has seen severe internal fighting over these doctrinal issues, and several former leaders of Algeria's Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat left the group because of this conflict. Further, it is widely believed that the death of Somali al Qaeda leader Fazul Abdullah Mohammed was arranged by leaders of Somali jihadist group al Shabaab, which he had criticized sharply.

The last and broadest element of the global jihadist movement often referred to as al Qaeda is what Stratfor refers to as grassroots jihadists. These are individuals or small cells of individuals that are inspired by the al Qaeda core -- or increasingly, by its franchise groups -- but that may have little or no actual connection to these groups. Some grassroots jihadists travel to places such as Pakistan or Yemen to receive training from the franchise groups. Other grassroots militants have no direct contact with other jihadist elements.

The core, the franchises and the grassroots jihadists are often interchangeably referred to as al Qaeda, but there are important differences among these actors that need to be recognized.

Important Distinctions

There are some other important distinctions that inform our terminology and our analysis. Not all jihadists are linked to al Qaeda, and not all militant Islamists are jihadists. Islamists are those who believe society is best governed by Islamic law, or Sharia. Militant Islamists are those who advocate the use of force to establish Sharia. Militant Islamists are found in both Islamic sects. Al Qaeda is a Sunni militant Islamist group, but Hezbollah is a Shiite militant Islamist group. Moreover, not all militant Muslims are Islamists. Some take up arms for tribal, territorial, ethnic or nationalistic reasons, or for a combination of reasons.
In places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and northern Mali, several militant groups are fighting foreign forces, their government or each other -- and sometimes all of the above. Some of these groups are jihadists, some are tribal militias, some are brigands and smugglers, and others are nationalists. Identifying, sorting and classifying these groups can be very difficult, and sometimes alliances shift or overlap. For example, Yemen's southern separatists will sometimes work with tribal militias or AQAP to fight against the government; other times, they fight against these would-be allies. We have seen similar dynamics in northern Mali among groups such as AQIM, Ansar Dine, the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, various Tuareg groups and other tribal militias in the region.

Taxonomy becomes even more difficult when a group uses multiple names, or when multiple groups share a name. Groups adopt different names for discretion, confusion or public relations purposes. AQAP called itself Ansar al-Shariah during its fight to take over cities in southern Yemen and to govern the territory. But radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was arrested in the United Kingdom in 2004 and extradited to the United States in 2012, has long led a movement likewise called Ansar al-Shariah. Even the Libyan jihadist militia that attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi uses the same name. But just because these groups share a name, and just because members or leaders of the groups know each other, does not necessarily mean that they are chapters of the same group or network of groups, or that they even subscribe to the same ideology.

As we mentioned long before Moammar Gadhafi was ousted in Libya, jihadists and other militants thrive in power vacuums. This assertion has proved true in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, and more recently in Libya, northern Mali and now Syria. Weapons flooding into such regions only compound the problem.
Militant Islamists have seized the opportunity to grow in influence in such places, as have the subset of militant Islamists we call jihadists. So in this context, while the al Qaeda core has been crippled, other portions of the jihadist movement are thriving. This is especially so among those that aspire to mount local insurgencies rather than those more concerned with planning transnational attacks. The nuances are important because as the composition and objectives of jihadist groups change, so do their methods of attack.

[For more on TERRORISM from STRATFOR click here ....]

Friday, September 28, 2012

Sea Piracy News - Somalia

September 25, 2012
Associated Press

Heavily armed pirates from the lawless Horn of Africa nation have terrorized shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and strategic Gulf of Aden, which links Europe to Asia through the Red Sea.
The gangs have made tens of millions of dollars from ransoms and a deployment by foreign navies in the area has only appeared to drive the attackers to hunt further from shore.
It is a lucrative business that has drawn financiers from the Somali diaspora and other nations -- and now the gangs in Haradheere have set up an exchange to manage their investments.
One wealthy former pirate named Mohammed took Reuters around the small facility and said it had proved to be an important way for the pirates to win support from the local community for their operations, despite the dangers involved.
"Four months ago, during the monsoon rains, we decided to set up this stock exchange. We started with 15 'maritime companies' and now we are hosting 72. Ten of them have so far been successful at hijacking," Mohammed said.
"The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials ... we've made piracy a community activity."
Haradheere, 400 km (250 miles) northeast of Mogadishu, used to be a small fishing village. Now it is a bustling town where luxury 4x4 cars owned by the pirates and those who bankroll them create honking traffic jams along its pot-holed, dusty streets.
Somalia's Western-backed government of President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed is pinned down battling hard-line Islamist rebels, and controls little more than a few streets of the capital.
The administration has no influence in Haradheere -- where a senior local official said piracy paid for almost everything.
"Piracy-related business has become the main profitable economic activity in our area and as locals we depend on their output," said Mohamed Adam, the town's deputy security officer.
"The district gets a percentage of every ransom from ships that have been released, and that goes on public infrastructure, including our hospital and our public schools."
In a drought-ravaged country that provides almost no employment opportunities for fit young men, many are been drawn to the allure of the riches they see being earned at sea.
Abdirahman Ali was a secondary school student in Mogadishu until three months ago when his family fled the fighting there.
Given the choice of moving with his parents to Lego, their ancestral home in Middle Shabelle where strict Islamist rebels have banned most entertainment including watching sport, or joining the pirates, he opted to head for Haradheere.
Now he guards a Thai fishing boat held just offshore.
"First I decided to leave the country and migrate, but then I remembered my late colleagues who died at sea while trying to migrate to Italy," he told Reuters. "So I chose this option, instead of dying in the desert or from mortars in Mogadishu."
Haradheere's "stock exchange" is open 24 hours a day and serves as a bustling focal point for the town. As well as investors, sobbing wives and mothers often turn up there seeking news of male relatives missing in action.
Every week, Mohammed said, gang members and equipment were lost to the sea. But he said the pirates were not deterred.
"Ransoms have even increased in recent months from between $2-3 million to $4 million because of the increased number of shareholders and the risks," he said.
"Let the anti-piracy navies continue their search for us. We have no worries because our motto for the job is 'do or die'."
Piracy investor Sahra Ibrahim, a 22-year-old divorcee, was lined up with others waiting for her cut of a ransom pay-out after one of the gangs freed a Spanish tuna fishing vessel.
"I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade for the operation," she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband in alimony.
"I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I joined the 'company'."


War On Somali Pirate Takes New Heights
Posted on July 16, 2012 
The war on Somali pirates has been taken into a new height when on May 15, EU naval forces conducted their first raid on pirate bases on the Somali mainland. While the naval ships attached to EU mandated Operation Atalanta fires their naval gun, the EU forces were transported by helicopter to the bases near the port of Haradhere, a major pirate stronghold. (here). At least one gunship was also involved during the operation.
In all, several speedboats were destroyed as well as fuel and ammunition stores, alliance officials said. No lives were lost in the attack and no Somalis were injured, the EU said.
The EU military actions against the pirate mainland bases is unprecedented as most of other countries involved in anti-piracy operation in the area were reluctant to conduct similar action fearing for the safety of the captured hostages.
The MAF currently deploys 2 RMN auxilliary ships, the Bunga Mas 5 (BM 5) and Bunga Mas 6 (BM 6) to the Somali coast as part of Ops Fajar, a Malaysian Government mandated anti piracy operation which aims to protect Malaysian maritime trade interest. A small air element consist of a single AS-555SN Fennec helicopter operated by CUT’s No 502 Skn is also deployed on board the BM 5.
BM 5 also brought a team of National Special Operation Forces (NSOF) operators which were drawn from RMAF’s PASKAU, RMN’s PASKAL, the Malaysian Army’s GGK as well as RMP’s VAT 69/UTK units. It is not known whether the NSOF operatives were also attached to BM 6.
Nevertheless, prior to the operation, the US Special Forces led by the Navy SEAL had successfully conducted nightime raid on the pirate’s hideout in Gadaado on January 26, rescuing two aid workers, an American and a Dane.
The commando were parachuted in the dark from special operation aircraft, walk their way amidst heavy fire, rescue the hostages and were brought out from Somalia via special operation helicopters awaiting for them and ferried them to safety.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

9/11 special

The Haqqani History: Bin Ladin's Advocate Inside the Taliban

New Documents – Posted on 9/11 Anniversary – Offer Partial View Inside Newly-Dubbed Terrorist Network

(courtesy of Harvard University)

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 389 Posted - September 11, 2012
Edited by Barbara Elias-Sanborn
For more information contact:
Barbara Elias-Sanborn - 202/994-7000

FBI Wanted Poster - Sirajuddin Haqqani, son of Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani,

Washington, D.C., September 11, 2012 – In the wake of the State Department's recent designation of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization, declassified documents posted today – on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks – by the National Security Archive offer new insight into the Haqqani family's long history with militancy. The records on Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani detail direct meetings between Haqqani and U.S. diplomats, [Doc 4] his role as a Taliban military commander, [Doc 2] and intimate ties to foreign militants, [Doc 1] al-Qaeda connections, [Doc 5] as well as his potentially critical function as a major advocate for Osama bin Laden within the Taliban administration. [Doc 3]
The released documents include a confession from Haqqani that he had enjoyed very amicable relations with U.S. officials during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, but that the friendship soured after the 1998 U.S. bombing of a Haqqani-linked terrorist camp in Khost, Afghanistan, undertaken by President    Bill Clinton in retaliation for al-Qaeda attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
Although the U.S. decided to officially declare the Haqqani Network a terrorist organization only on September 7, 2012, Haqqani's ties to extremism and al-Qaeda date back to the Soviet intervention and the founding of al-Qaeda. All major leaders in the Haqqani group had already been identified as al-Qaeda and Taliban affiliates and sanctioned by the UN at the request of Washington. [Doc 6]
The National Security Archive obtained the documents below through the Freedom of Information Act. As the U.S. government declassifies and releases more materials, the Archive will make them available, including through future Web postings.

Document 1 - Karachi 01617: U.S. Consulate Karachi, Cable, "The Harakat-ul-Ansar - The Pakistan Dimension [Excised]," March 29, 1995, Secret, 14 pp.
Describing long-standing ties between Jalaluddin Haqqani and foreign terrorists, a report by the U.S. Department of State on the Kashmiri militant group Harakat-ul-Ansar notes "many of the activists of Harakat-ul-Ansar are reportedly veterans of the Afghan war who fought along with Maulana Jalaluddin Haqqani in Paktia Province. A significant portion of the membership is non-Pakistani, made up of Afghan war veterans from Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, and other countries, all of whom have stayed on after conclusion of the Afghan jihad. Three sources have told us that the membership also includes a small number of American muslims - we've heard numbers ranging from six to sixteen…"

Document 2 - Islamabad 00154 : U.S. Embassy (Islamabad) Cable, "Afghanistan: Jalaluddin Haqqani's Emergence As a Key Taliban Commander," January 7, 1997, Confidential, 14pp.
Taliban military commander Jalaluddin Haqqani is reported in this 1997 account to be "more liberal" in his opinions on social policy, such as women's rights, than other Taliban officials. But he does not seem to be in a position to influence Taliban positions on these issues. Haqqani nevertheless remains respected as a competent and influential officer in Taliban military affairs. His ties to "various radical Arab groups" concern the Department of State, as one source reports that "in exchange for weapons and money… [he is] offering shelter for various Arabs in areas of Paktia province." The Department notes that "reporting in other channels indicate that Haqqani maintains these links" with radical Arab elements in Afghanistan. An additional previously published document similarly discusses Haqqani's ties to Arab and Kashmiri militants.

Document 3 - Islamabad 04450: U.S. Embassy (Islamabad) Cable, "Afghanistan: Taliban Said to Loosen Grip on Bin Ladin as They Increasingly Turn to Him for Financial Support and Advice," June 12, 1998, Confidential, 9 pp.
Sources inform U.S. officials that Jalaluddin Haqqani is an important individual advocating for Osama bin Laden in the Taliban administration. Washington is concerned as bin Laden appears to be operating largely free of Taliban government control and is being protected by Taliban elements. Sources claim bin Laden's augmented autonomy and influence are due at least in part to "the growing strength of his supporters within the Taliban movement... Bin Ladin is benefiting from the enhanced strength within the movement of such men as Jalaluddin Haqqani, a well-known pro-Taliban commander… Ideologically close to bin Ladin's internationalist Islamist positions, these men have successfully argued with other Taliban in recent months to reduce controls on bin Ladin."

Document 4 - State 095538: U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Usama bin Ladin: Pressing High-Level Taliban Official Jalaluddin Haqqani on Bin Ladin," May 24, 1999, Secret, NODIS, 6 pp.
U.S. officials meet directly with Jalaluddin Haqqani in 1999 to discuss Osama bin Ladin. Haqqani is in the Taliban administration serving as "Acting Minister of Borders," and is known as a "key" official "with links to Arab militants." Despite noting that "he was deeply appreciative of U.S. assistance during the 'jihad' (holy war) against the Soviets and the (Afghan) communists," tensions between Haqqani and U.S. officials are palpable since American missiles destroyed a Haqqani-linked terrorist camp in Khost, Afghanistan, in August 1998. Haqqani initiates the meeting by "joking" that it was "good to meet someone from the country which had destroyed my base, my madrassh [sic], and killed 25 of my mujahideen."
Bin Laden remains the focus of the meeting with Haqqani. American officials tell Haqqani, "the U.S. would continue to make things difficult for the Taliban if the [bin Laden] issue remained unresolved. It was in the Taliban's advantage to expel him immediately." Haqqani agrees bin Laden is "a problem," but insists that "maybe the best solution is what is taking place now with him remaining in the country."

Document 5 - ISAF - RC East OSINT Summary: International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan (ISAF), Report, "The Landing Zone, RC East OSINT Summary," December 18, 2008, Secret, 8 pp.
Quoting unclassified sources, a letter ostensibly signed by Jalaluddin Haqqani, the head of a network "very closely aligned with Al Qaeda," was released denouncing Taliban leader Mullah Omar as "ineffective, ignorant, and illiterate." Most suspect the letter is a fake. "Intelligence agents with the international forces suggest that the letter originated from the Afghan government or its allies as an attempt to inflame tensions between insurgent groups." The previously-classified ISAF intelligence analyst commentary notes: "The strategy of separating the Taliban from Al Qaida is a pretty farfetched concept since the majority of low level fighters for these organizations are known to be used by both… Al Qaida plays a coordinating and strategic role between several syndicate organizations, enabling global support while simultaneously ensuring the harmonization of these groups. These actions assist with… the Taliban's main objective of forcing western forces out of Afghanistan and regaining control of the national government."
In other words, attempts to separate groups like al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network and Taliban-affiliates are unlikely to succeed since on the ground they use many of the same fighters, and the Taliban benefit from al-Qaeda and Haqqani's strategic role in coordinating groups aiming to weaken U.S. efforts.
Note: "RC East OSINT Summary" stands for Regional Command [Afghanistan] East, Open Source Intelligence.

Document 6 - State 070339: U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Instruction to Nominate Four Terrorist Leaders for Listing by the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee," July 6, 2010, Unclassified, 5 pp.
Document 7 - State 002648: U.S. Department of State, Cable, "Pre-Notification for Impending U.S. Domestic Designation and UNSCR 1267 Listing Request of Khalil Haqqani and Said Jan +Abd Al-Salam," January 10, 2011, Secret, 7 pp.
As discussed in these two cables, prior to the September 7, 2012, designation of the Haqqani Network as a terrorist organization, the leaders of the Haqqani group had already been added to the UN 1267 Committee list of "individuals and entities associated with Usama bin Laden, the Taliban or al Qaida." The Department notes that "[l]isted individuals are subject to UN Security Council mandated sanctions, including a travel ban, arms embargo, and assets freeze." Individuals who had been named include Haqqani Network founder Jalaluddin Haqqani, his sons Badruddin (killed in August 2012), Nasiruddin and Sirajuddin, as well as Jalaluddin's brother, Khalil Haqqani, who was said to have "acted on behalf of al Qa'ida (AQ) and has been linked to AQ military operations. In 2002 Khalil Haqqani deployed men to reinforce AQ elements in Paktia Province, Afghanistan." 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

EU forces attack Somali pirates on land

Nairobi [Radio RBC] Europe’s naval force patrolling off the coast East Africa said on Tuesday it had attacked Somali pirate installations on land, the first time it had conducted such an action since extending its remit from strictly to sea-based operations.

Initial reports indicated that there were no casualties during the operation, which happened earlier on Tuesday.

“We believe this action by the EU Naval Force (NAVFOR) will further increase the pressure on, and disrupt pirates’ efforts to get out to sea to attack merchant shipping and dhows,” the commander of the EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, said in a statement. “The local Somali people … many of whom have suffered so much because of piracy in the region, can be reassured that our focus was on known pirate supplies and will remain so in the future.”

The action was conducted from the air and ”at no point did EU Naval Force ‘boots’ go ashore,” the statement said.

The European force, which is trying to stamp out piracy off the coasts of lawless Somalia, is made up of around 1,400 military personnel, nine warships and five maritime surveillance aircraft, according to NAVFOR’s website.

Despite successful efforts to quell attacks in the Gulf of Aden, international navies have struggled to contain piracy in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea owing to the vast distances involved.

eaborne gangs have raked in an estimated $150 million in ransoms in what has become a highly organized, international criminal enterprise, security analysts say. Somali pirates in the failed state have carried out more than 800 attacks on ships, from private yachts to oil supertankers since 2008.

On March 23 the EU Council decided to allow its forces in the region to take “disruption action against known pirate supplies on the (Somali) shore.”

“Putting pressure on their business model by destroying their boats and eliminating their fuel dumps will make life more difficult for the sponsors of piracy and the pirates themselves,”

[Original Artile Here]

Monday, August 6, 2012

Search Intensified for Indonesian Sailor, 3 Others, Kidnapped in Deadly Pirate Attack

Aderogba Obisesan | August 06, 2012

Lagos. Nigeria on Sunday intensified its search for four foreigners, including an Indonesian, kidnapped during a deadly attack on a vessel belonging to an oil services company, the navy said.
The suspected pirates stormed the vessel belonging to the Sea Trucks Group early Saturday in the Gulf of Guinea, an area that has seen a sharp spike in the number of reported maritime attacks over the past six months.
"We have intensified our search for the kidnappers and the abducted four foreigners," Nigerian navy spokesman Commodore Kabir Aliyu told AFP.
Another naval officer, who declined to be named because he has no authority to speak to reporters, said that the search for the foreigners has continued in the creeks and waterways in the region.
"We are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to get back these four foreigners who were kidnapped aboard the vessel. We are redoubling our efforts," he said.
A spokeswoman for Sea Trucks Group, which provides support vessels to oil companies operating in Nigeria, said on Sunday that her company was focussed on the safe release of the hostages.
"We are very focussed on getting our crew back safely," Corrie van Kessel told AFP on telephone.
She declined to say categorically if contacts have been established with the abductors and efforts being made to secure their freedom, saying that releasing such information "could jeopardize current efforts."
Van Kessel confirmed that the four abducted foreigners were from Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Thailand.
Sea Trucks Group is heavily involved in the oil and gas sector in the Niger Delta.The group, which also operates in Australia and East Asia, was founded as a Nigerian firm in 1977 before expanding and currently has a "corporate support office" in the Netherlands, according to its website.
Aliyu said during the attack "four expatriates are reported to have been kidnapped from the vessel; two sailors were killed."
Aliyu said six naval personnel were stationed on board the Sea Trucks Group vessel following a security request from the company.
The gunmen also shot and wounded two others while the remaining two escaped unhurt, he said.The motive for the attack and the identities of the gunmen are still unknown, added Aliyu.
The attack took place before dawn on Saturday, 35 nautical miles off Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta coastal area, the navy and company said.
The volatile area was for years crippled by armed insurgency, largely made up of militants who claimed the region's prosperous oil industry was not benefitting the local population and destroying the environment.
Armed groups in the Delta were notorious for kidnapping oil workers, especially foreigners.
A 2009 amnesty deal greatly reduced the unrest, but sporadic incidents have continued to occur including robberies and, most prominently, piracy.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in a report released last month that there had been 32 piracy incidents recorded in the Gulf of Guinea in the first half of 2012, up from the 25 attacks in 2011.
Original here - Agence France-Presse

Friday, July 13, 2012

Chinese Warship Runs Aground on Philippine Reef


MANILA -- As China's leadership continues to press its claim on territory that the Philippines also claims for itself, a Chinese warship has run aground on a reef off Palawan while patrolling contested waters in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, an Australian newspaper reported on Friday.

The report came as the Philippine government started verifying reports that China had installed a powerful radar on Subi Reef, an islet 22 kilometers from the Philippine-occupied Kalayaan group of islands in the Spratly archipelago.

Reporter John Gaurnaut of The Sydney Morning Herald, citing unnamed Western diplomatic sources, said the People’s Liberation Army’s naval ship No. 560 became “thoroughly stuck” on a reef at Half Moon Shoal during the previous night.

The warship is a Jianghu-class frigate “that has in the past been involved in aggressively discouraging Filipino fishing boats from the area,” the Morning Herald said.

The Philippines refers to Half Moon Shoal as Hasa-Hasa Shoal, which military sources said is only about 111 km (60 nautical miles) from the municipality of Rizal on the main island of Palawan province, well
within the country’s 370-km (200-nautical-mile) exclusive economic zone. Mayor Eugenio Bito-onon of Kalayaan in Palawan confirmed the incident and said it has been 10 days since it happened according to field reports.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Military sources suspect people smugglers deliberately capsized boats

PEOPLE smugglers may have deliberately capsized two boats between Java and Christmas Island last month, killing 94 people, military sources suspect.
As another rickety vessel carrying 39 people was intercepted on Sunday night, authorities are investigating whether crews scuttled the fishing craft in a bid to hasten rescue efforts.
Military sources strongly suspect the first vessel to capsize, on June 21, was deliberately turned over so survivors could cling to the upturned hull.
The second vessel foundered on June 27 after taking on water in very calm seas, and two of its four crew members were removed by a second boat.
"Before she foundered we received a distress call saying, 'We are capsizing'," a defence source said.
A navy source said it was highly unusual for two boats to turn over in the same area within a few days of each other: "The sea at the time of both incidents was not rough."
The Gillard government is set to announce a whole-of-government review of the response by Australian agencies - including Border Protection Command, Customs, Defence and Immigration - into the twin tragedies.
Australian Federal Police officers and the West Australian Coroner have begun interviewing survivors about tactics used by the smugglers.
The first boat got into trouble about 100km south of Java and the second about 20km northwest of that position.
Ninety people died in the first disaster and four in the second, despite the best efforts of the navy patrol boats HMAS Wollongong, Larrakia and Maitland, the survey ship HMAS Leeuwin and merchant vessels.
A government source said, while there was no direct evidence the boats had been deliberately capsized, statements from witnesses - including passengers, rescuers, and navy, RAAF and Border Protection Command observers - had raised alarm bells.
"This is a dramatic escalation and it is suspicious," a government source said.
Up to 300 refugees a week arrive at Jakarta international airport on one-way tickets en route to people smuggling vessels bound for Australia.
As the boat people continue to pour in, the navy is bracing for sailors suffering from psychological damage after pulling dozens of dead bodies and hurt people from the sea.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Somali piracy death toll rises as violence worsens

Piracy, on the high sea but in custody.....Somali pirates seizing Indian Ocean ships were responsible for at least 35 hostage deaths in 2011, a report showed on Friday, with levels of violence rising.
The number of prisoners taken by pirates fell to 555, at least, in 2011 from 645 in 2010, the report by the US-based One Earth Future foundation and International Maritime Bureau said.
Eight were known to have been killed by their captors either during their initial capture or were executed later, it said, with another eight dying of malnutrition or disease. The remainder were killed either during rescue attempts by military forces or while trying to escape.