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Thursday, September 25, 2014

BREAKING: Iraqi PM says terrorist plot to attack US/Paris subway uncovered.


NEW YORK (AP) — Iraq's prime minister said Thursday his country's intelligence operation has uncovered a plot for an imminent attack on subway systems in United States and Paris.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he was told of the plot by Baghdad, and that it was the work of foreign fighters of the Islamic State group in Iraq. Asked if the attacks were imminent, he said, "Yes."

Asked if the attacks had been thwarted, he said, "No." Al-Abadi said the United States had been alerted.

He made the remarks at a meeting with journalists on the sidelines of a gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Khorasan Group terror plot exposed ... planned to blow up airliners.

WASHINGTON

By KEN DILANIAN

AP Intelligence Writer

The U.S. decision to strike the Khorasan Group to stop a possible terror attack represents a significant expansion of the largely secret war against core al-Qaida, a group President Barack Obama has proclaimed was "a shadow of its former self."

Administration officials said Tuesday they have been watching the Khorasan Group, an al-Qaida cell in Syria, for years. But Obama had resisted taking military action in Syria to avoid inadvertently helping President Bashar Assad, a leader the U.S. would like to see gone. That changed, officials said, because intelligence showed that the Khorasan Group was in the final stages of plotting attacks against the U.S. and Europe, most likely an attempt to blow up an airplane in flight.

On the same night that U.S. and Arab allies carried out more than 200 airstrikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq, the U.S. on its own launched more than 20 Tomahawk cruise missiles and other ordinance against eight Khorasan Group targets near Aleppo in northwestern Syria, Pentagon officials said.

It's not clear yet whether the group's leader, identified by U.S. officials as Muhsin al-Fadhli, was killed in the strikes. He is a Kuwaiti who spent time in Iran and has long been identified as a significant figure in al-Qaida.

But regardless of the impact, the need for such an operation against the Khorasan Group dealt a blow to the notion, oft-repeated by Obama administration officials, that core al-Qaida has been significantly diminished as a threat to the United States.

The Khorasan Group, after all, is made up of core al-Qaida veterans.

"There are remnants of core al-Qaida still left that are still a very potent threat," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

"What this shows is that al-Qaida has not been decimated," said Seth Jones, a counterterrorism analyst at the Rand Corp. "This is a network that spans multiple countries."

The attacks add Syria to a long list of nations in which the Obama administration has taken lethal action against al-Qaida militants, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia.

The Islamic State has broken with al-Qaida, and, for all its brutality, is not believed to be plotting attacks against the West.

In contrast, the Khorasan Group is a cell of al-Qaida veterans of wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to link up with the Nusra Front, the al-Qaida affiliate there. U.S. intelligence officials say the group has been working with bomb makers from al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate to perfect explosives that can fool Western airport security measures, including, one official said, a bomb in a toothpaste tube.

Obama presided over a dramatic expansion of secret CIA drone strikes in Pakistan that dealt significant blows to al-Qaida's leadership, and he ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. He expanded the drone campaign to Yemen and Somalia, all under a veil of secrecy.

For a time, the drone campaign seemed to have shattered al-Qaida. While Obama has been vocal about the threat from al-Qaida's affiliates, he said in his 2013 State of the Union address that "the organization that attacked us on 9/11 is a shadow of its former self."

But the shadow was growing. Even as Obama spoke, some veteran al-Qaida operatives had traveled from Pakistan to Syria, where officials say they linked up with the Nusra Front and began recruiting people from the West for attacks against the U.S. and Europe. In early 2013, the CIA began developing "targeting packages" on militants in Syria -- intelligence dossiers that could be used to target them for drone strikes.

In the end Obama opted to use the military, not the CIA, to attack the Khorasan Group, in keeping with his desire to move the CIA away from lethal drone strikes.

A senior administration official said the plan to strike the Khorasan Group "is something that has been on our radar for several months, and it is an action that we were contemplating separate and apart from" the airstrikes against Islamic State group positions in Syria.

Briefing reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. William Mayville, who directs operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Khorasan Group was nearing "the execution phase of an attack either in Europe or the (U.S.) homeland."

However, two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss classified assessments, said there was no particular location or target that had come to the attention of U.S. intelligence agencies.

In a memo released in February 2013, the Justice Department disclosed that in the view of government lawyers, "an 'imminent' threat of violent attack against the United States does not require ... clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Intelligence agencies scramble to find missing airliners before 911 anniversary.


USA TODAY: Reports that 11 commercial jetliners are missing from the main airport in Libya's capital of Tripoli are raising fears that militants could use them in terrorist attacks to mark the 13th anniversary of 9/11 next week.

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news website, cited anonymous sources who said intelligence agencies have warned the jets could be used in attacks in North Africa and elsewhere on Sept. 11.

The date also marks the second anniversary of the Libyan terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said, "We have nothing to confirm these reports about missing airliners."

A spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, also said there's been no confirmation that aircraft had been stolen.

Images have surfaced online showing militants posing with the jetliners taken when the militants overran Tripoli's airport last month in a fierce battle that left much of the airport and its aircraft damaged.

In the past four months, a renegade general has battled Islamic militants in the eastern city of Benghazi — cradle of the 2011 uprising that toppled Moammar Gadhafi — as powerful regional militias have fought for control of the Tripoli airport. Islamist-allied militias have seized virtually all of the capital.

Moroccan military expert Abderrahmane Mekkaoui said there was "credible intelligence" that one Libyan militia "is plotting to use the planes in attacks on the (region) on the 9/11 anniversary," The Huffington Post reported, citing Al Jazeera television.

An aviation security expert said the planes, if actually seized by terrorists, would pose more of a threat to countries near Libya than the U.S. homeland.

Any stolen aircraft from Libya would unlikely penetrate post-9/11 U.S. air defense and security measures, but they could pose a threat to targets that are much closer, said Jeffrey Price, author of Practical Aviation Security and professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

Airliners are required to file flight plans before entering U.S. airspace, and air-traffic monitors would be looking for aircraft matching the description of any stolen planes, Price said. An airliner could try to fly below radar to avoid detection, but the U.S. military has developed systems to detect and stop low flying threats, he said.

Price said most countries near Libya, including in Europe, do not have the same air-defense capabilities and would be more at risk.

The reports of the missing planes, which first surfaced in mid-August, likely sparked an international search for the planes by intelligence agencies, Price said. "It's hard to hide a big jet," he said.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chinese jet does a "barrel roll" over top of Navy P-8 Poseidon- Pentagon pissed.

click to enlarge 
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Friday accused a Chinese fighter jet of conducting a "dangerous intercept" of a U.S. Navy surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft off the coast of China in international airspace.

At a news briefing at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, where President Barack Obama is vacationing, Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, called the intercept "a deeply concerning provocation" and suggested it could set back efforts to improve relations.

Kirby said the Aug. 19 maneuvering by the Chinese jet posed a risk to the safety of the U.S. air crew, was "inconsistent with customary international law," and complicates efforts to improve military-to-military relations, which are often strained.

Kirby said the Chinese jet made several close passes by the Navy P-8 Poseidon plane, coming within 30 feet of it at one point. He said the Chinese jet did a "barrel roll" maneuver over the top of the Poseidon at one point and also passed across the nose of the Navy plane, exposing the belly of the fighter in a way apparently designed to show that it was armed.

Kirby said it happened about 135 miles east of China's Hainan Island. In 2001 a Chinese jet collided with a U.S. Navy surveillance aircraft off Hainan Island, killing the Chinese pilot and forcing the Navy plane to make an emergency landing on the island. Washington severed military relations with China after that episode.

"The intercept was aggressive and demonstrated a lack of due regard for the safety and well-being of the U.S. and Chinese aircrews and aircraft," the Pentagon said in a statement.


Monday, August 18, 2014

DARPA reveals GXV-1 concept - is this the future of armored fighting vehicles?

DARPA:

GXV-T seeks to develop revolutionary technologies to make future armored fighting vehicles more mobile, effective and affordable

For the past 100 years of mechanized warfare, protection for ground-based armored fighting vehicles and their occupants has boiled down almost exclusively to a simple equation: More armor equals more protection. Weapons’ ability to penetrate armor, however, has advanced faster than armor’s ability to withstand penetration. As a result, achieving even incremental improvements in crew survivability has required significant increases in vehicle mass and cost.

The trend of increasingly heavy, less mobile and more expensive combat platforms has limited Soldiers’ and Marines’ ability to rapidly deploy and maneuver in theater and accomplish their missions in varied and evolving threat environments. Moreover, larger vehicles are limited to roads, require more logistical support and are more expensive to design, develop, field and replace. The U.S. military is now at a point where—considering tactical mobility, strategic mobility, survivability and cost—innovative and disruptive solutions are necessary to ensure the operational viability of the next generation of armored fighting vehicles.

DARPA has created the Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program to help overcome these challenges and disrupt the current trends in mechanized warfare. GXV-T seeks to investigate revolutionary ground-vehicle technologies that would simultaneously improve the mobility and survivability of vehicles through means other than adding more armor, including avoiding detection, engagement and hits by adversaries. This improved mobility and warfighting capability would enable future U.S. ground forces to more efficiently and cost-effectively tackle varied and unpredictable combat situations.

“GXV-T’s goal is not just to improve or replace one particular vehicle—it’s about breaking the ‘more armor’ paradigm and revolutionizing protection for all armored fighting vehicles,” said Kevin Massey, DARPA program manager. “Inspired by how X-plane programs have improved aircraft capabilities over the past 60 years, we plan to pursue groundbreaking fundamental research and development to help make future armored fighting vehicles significantly more mobile, effective, safe and affordable.”

To familiarize potential participants with the technical objectives of GXV-T, DARPA has scheduled a Proposers' Day on Friday, September 5, 2014, at DARPA’s offices in Arlington, Va. Advance registration is required through the registration website:http://www.sa-meetings.com/GXV-T. Space is limited and registration closes Friday, August 22, 2014 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time or when capacity is reached, whichever comes first. DARPA reserves the right to limit the number of attendees from any individual organization.

The DARPA Special Notice document announcing the Proposers’ Day and describing the specific capabilities sought is available at http://go.usa.gov/Edsh. For more information, please email DARPA-SN-14-53@darpa.mil.

GXV-T’s technical goals include the following improvements relative to today’s armored fighting vehicles:
Reduce vehicle size and weight by 50 percent
Reduce onboard crew needed to operate vehicle by 50 percent
Increase vehicle speed by 100 percent
Access 95 percent of terrain
Reduce signatures that enable adversaries to detect and engage vehicles

The GXV-T program provides the following four technical areas as examples where advanced technologies could be developed that would meet the program’s objectives:
Radically Enhanced Mobility – Ability to traverse diverse off-road terrain, including slopes and various elevations; advanced suspensions and novel track/wheel configurations; extreme speed; rapid omnidirectional movement changes in three dimensions
Survivability through Agility – Autonomously avoid incoming threats without harming occupants through technologies such as agile motion (dodging) and active repositioning of armor
Crew Augmentation – Improved physical and electronically assisted situational awareness for crew and passengers; semi-autonomous driver assistance and automation of key crew functions similar to capabilities found in modern commercial airplane cockpits
Signature Management – Reduction of detectable signatures, including visible, infrared (IR), acoustic and electromagnetic (EM)

Technology development beyond these four examples is desired so long as it supports the program’s goals. DARPA is particularly interested in engaging nontraditional contributors to help develop leap-ahead technologies in the focus areas above, as well as other technologies that could potentially improve both the survivability and mobility of future armored fighting vehicles.

DARPA aims to develop GXV-T technologies over 24 months after initial contract awards, which are currently planned on or before April 2015. The GXV-T program plans to pursue research, development, design and testing and evaluation of major subsystem capabilities in multiple technology areas with the goal of integrating these capabilities into future ground X-vehicle demonstrators.

Associated images posted on www.darpa.mil and video posted atwww.youtube.com/darpatv may be reused according to the terms of the DARPA User Agreement, available here: http://go.usa.gov/nYr.

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