Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lubbock wannabe terrorist found guilty.

An Amarillo jury has found 22-year-old Khalid Aldawsari guilty of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
He faces up to life in prison. Aldawsari was accused of collecting supplies to build a bomb and authorities said they found writings that indicated his desire to carry out an attack.
Prosecutors stressed the "substantial" steps he made toward building a bomb, while the defense said that he didn't actually threaten anyone.
Sentencing has been set for October 9th. Aldawsari faces up to life in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
The U.S. Department of Justice released a statement about the verdict on Wednesday:
According to court documents and evidence presented during trial, at the time of his arrest last year, Aldawsari had been researching online how to construct an IED using several chemicals as ingredients. He had also acquired or taken a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment necessary to construct an IED and he had conducted online research of several potential U.S. targets, the affidavit alleges. In addition, he had allegedly described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal.
"While many people are responsible for thwarting Aldawsari's threat and bringing him to justice, we owe a debt of gratitude to all the members of the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force, and especially to the hundreds of hard-working and dedicated FBI agents, analysts, linguists and others," said U.S. Attorney Saldaña. "Their efforts, coupled with the hard work and excellent cooperation from the Lubbock Police Department and the Texas Tech Police Department, are the reason we were able to stop this defendant from carrying out a catastrophic act of terrorism."
"As this trial demonstrated, Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States. Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further," said Assistant Attorney General Monaco. "This case serves as another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad."
"Today's guilty verdict shows how individuals in the United States with the intent to do harm can acquire the knowledge and materials necessary to carry out an attack," said SAC Rodriguez. "Our success in locating and preventing Mr. Aldawsari from carrying out an attack is a result of cooperation within the law enforcement and intelligence communities, particularly, the North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Texas Tech Police Department, the Lubbock Police Department, and the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office, but also a demonstration of information sharing across FBI divisions, as well as assistance from the community. I want to thank the dedicated agents, officers and analysts, the computer forensics team and linguists that worked diligently on this investigation as well as prosecutors serving in the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Northern District."
The government presented evidence that on Feb. 1, 2011, a chemical supplier reported to the FBI a suspicious attempted purchase of concentrated phenol by a man identifying himself as Khalid Aldawsari. Phenol is a toxic chemical with legitimate uses, but can also be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as T.N.P., or picric acid. Ingredients typically used with phenol to make picric acid, or T.N.P., are concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids.
Aldawsari attempted to have the phenol order shipped to a freight company so it could be held for him there, but the freight company told Aldawsari that the order had been returned to the supplier and called the police. Later, Aldawsari falsely told the supplier he was associated with a university and wanted the phenol for "off-campus, personal research." Frustrated by questions being asked over his phenol order, Aldawsari cancelled his order, placed an order with another company, and later emailed himself instructions for producing phenol. In December 2010, he had successfully purchased concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids.
Aldawsari used various email accounts in researching explosives and targets, and often sent emails to himself as part of this process. He emailed himself a recipe for picric acid, which was described in the email as a "military explosive" and also emailed himself instructions on how to convert a cell phone into a remote detonator and how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using household items. Aldawsari also purchased many other items, including a Hazmat suit, a soldering iron kit, glass beakers and flasks, a stun gun, clocks and a battery tester.
Excerpts from a journal found at Aldawsari's residence indicated that he had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States for years. One entry describes how Aldawsari sought and obtained a particular scholarship because it allowed him to come directly to the United States and helped him financially, which he said "will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad." The entry continues: "And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad."
In another entry, Aldawsari wrote that he was near to reaching his goal and near to getting weapons to use against infidels and their helpers. He also listed a "synopsis of important steps" that included obtaining a forged U.S. birth certificate; renting a car; using different driver's licenses for each car rented; putting bombs in cars and taking them to different places during rush hour; and leaving the city for a safe place.
Aldawsari conducted research on various targets and emailed himself information on these locations and people. One of the documents he sent himself, with the subject line listed as "Targets," contained the names and home addresses of three American citizens who had previously served in the U.S. military and had been stationed for a time at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. In others, Aldawsari sent himself the names of 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California and listed two categories of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. He also sent himself an email titled "Tyrant's House," in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush. Aldawsari also conducted research that indicated he considered using infant dolls to conceal explosives and the possible targeting of a nightclub with an explosive concealed in a backpack.
This case was investigated by the FBI's Dallas Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Lubbock Police Department and the Texas Tech Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey R. Haag, Denise Williams, James T. Jacks and Matthew J. Kacsmaryk and Trial Attorney David Cora from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

Taliban releases decapitation video - bombs railway station.

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (AP) -- The Taliban released a video Wednesday that they say shows the heads of 17 Pakistani soldiers captured in a cross-border raid from Afghanistan this week and beheaded.

Meanwhile, a bomb in a railway station in Pakistan's southwest killed at least five people, police said.
The Pakistani Taliban's bloody cross-border raid Sunday night showed the threat still posed by the group, despite multiple army offensives. Increasingly, the militants have used sanctuaries in eastern Afghanistan to attack border areas in Pakistan's northwest.

Pakistan has criticized NATO and Afghan forces for not doing enough to stop the attacks, but it has received little sympathy. The Afghan government and its allies have long faulted Pakistan for failing to target Afghan Taliban militants and their allies who use Pakistani territory to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban are allies, but the former has focused on fighting the Pakistani government, while the latter has concentrated on attacking foreign and local forces in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Taliban said in the video that they killed 18 soldiers, but 17 heads were displayed on a bloody white sheet on the ground outside. Several militants whose faces were covered were standing around the heads, holding weapons they said were captured from the soldiers.
The Associated Press obtained the video by email Wednesday from Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan.

The beginning of the video contains a voice recording by Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud in which he says the militants will continue to battle the army until Pakistan's government stops supporting the U.S. and enforces Islamic law throughout the country. It was unclear when the message was recorded.

The Pakistani military said previously that 13 troops were killed in the cross-border raid into the country's northwest Upper Dir region, and seven of them were beheaded. Four others were reported missing at the time. The military did not immediately respond to request for comment on the video.
The Pakistani Taliban and their allies have staged scores of bombings and other attacks against security forces and civilians in the country, killing thousands.

The railway station bombed Wednesday was located in Sibbi city in Baluchistan province, said police official Qasim Salachi. In addition to the five killed, 20 others were wounded, he said. The bomb went off just after a train had pulled into the station, and passengers were buying drinks and food.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Baluchistan has experienced decades of violence at the hands of separatists who demand a greater share of the province's natural resources. It is also believed to be a base of many Afghan Taliban militants.
The recent attacks have come during serious political instability in Pakistan.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Breaking: Syria shoots down Turkish F-4


Turkey's government has called an emergency security meeting amid reports that one of its fighter jets was shot down by Syrian security forces.
The Turkish military lost contact with an F-4 Phantom over the Mediterranean Sea, south-west of Hatay province.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told a news conference there is still no confirmation of what brought the jet down, nor of the fate of its two crew.
He was earlier quoted as saying: "The other side have expressed regret".
Relations between Turkey and Syria, once close allies, have deteriorated sharply since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.
'Syrian waters'
Witnesses in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia meanwhile told BBC Arabic that Syrian air defences had shot down an unidentified aircraft near the town of Ras al-Basit.
Lebanon's al-Manar television channel - controlled by Lebanon's Shia Hezbollah movement, an ally of the Syrian government - also reported that Syrian security sources had said that "Syrian air defences shot down a Turkish warplane and hit another in Syrian airspace".

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Another Jet Blue wild ride - but due to mechanical problems not the pilot

FOXNEWS: A mechanical failure sent a JetBlue plane like this one careening wildly through the skies, sparking panic among the 155 people aboard the Las Vegas to New York flight, passengers told The Post yesterday.
"It was four hours of hell," said Travis McGhie, who described how the plane kept lurching from side to side and going into steep turns when its hydraulic system failed Sunday.

"People were getting sick. Some people were throwing up. There were a lot of people getting nauseous," said another passenger, Tom Mizer.

The crew did everything they could to prevent panic. One flight attendant walked down the aisle saying: "Look at me — I’m smiling. If I was scared, you would know it. If I’m not scared, you don’t need to be," Mizer said.
There was no screaming, but "there were definitely people reacting out loud," said McGhie.
Mizer and McGhie, both Brooklyn residents, realized something was wrong as soon as the full Airbus lifted off from the Vegas airport.

"You could hear a screeching — an obvious mechanical screeching," said Mizer. "We were bouncing around a lot.”
One of the pilots declared an emergency and radioed Las Vegas controllers that they were dealing with "quite a few things, but the initial thing is . . . we’ve lost two hydraulic systems."

The plane was loaded with five hours' worth of fuel. Because the A320 is incapable of dumping excess fuel, the pilots circled the area south of the Vegas Strip until they’d burned enough to allow the crippled plane to land safely.
"People on board got a little freaked. People were upset. Nobody was crazy, but everyone was upset. It became a long, sort of very tense waiting game," Mizer said.

McGhie added, "The plane kind of felt out of control. It wasn’t able to balance itself, and the air was choppy," said McGhie.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Flame" virus joint project of NSA & Israel

The United States and Israel jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed Flame that collected critical intelligence in preparation for cyber-sabotage attacks aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon, according to Western officials with knowledge of the effort.
The massive piece of malware was designed to secretly map Iran’s computer networks and monitor the computers of Iranian officials, sending back a steady stream of intelligence used to enable an ongoing cyberwarfare campaign, according to the officials.
The effort, involving the National Security Agency, the CIA and Israel’s military, has included the use of destructive software such as the so-called Stuxnet virus to cause malfunctions in Iran’s nuclear enrichment equipment.
The emerging details about Flame provide new clues about what is believed to be the first sustained campaign of cyber-sabotage against an adversary of the United States.
“This is about preparing the battlefield for another type of covert action,” said one former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official, who added that Flame and Stuxnet were elements of a broader assault that continues today. “Cyber collection against the Iranian program is way further down the road than this.”
Flame came to light last month after Iran detected a series of cyberattacks on its oil industry. The disruption was directed by Israel in a unilateral operation that apparently caught its U.S. partners off guard, according to several U.S. and Western officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
There had been speculation that the United States had a role in developing Flame, but the collaboration on the virus between Washington and Israel has not been previously confirmed. Commercial security researchers last week reported that Flame contained some of the same code as Stuxnet. Experts described the overlap as DNA-like evidence that the two sets of malware were parallel projects run by the same entity.
Spokespersons for the CIA, the NSA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as well as the Israeli Embassy in Washington, declined to comment.
The virus is among the most sophisticated and subversive pieces of malware exposed to date. Experts said the program was designed to replicate across even highly secure networks, then control everyday computer functions to send a flow of secrets back to its creators. The code could activate computer microphones and cameras, log keyboard strokes, take computer screen shots, extract geolocation data from images and send and receive commands and data through Bluetooth wireless technology.
Flame was designed to do all this while masquerading as a routine Microsoft software update, evading detection for several years by using a sophisticated program to crack an encryption algorithm.
“This is not something that most security researchers have the skills or resources to do,” said Tom Parker, chief technology officer for Fusion X, a security firm specializing in simulating state-sponsored cyberattacks, who does not know who was behind the virus. “You’d expect that of only the most advanced cryptomathematicians, such as those working at NSA.”
Read the rest of the story HERE at the Washington Post 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Commercial satellite catches secret drone at Lockheed Palmdale Plant

Got a note today from a stealth chaser who noticed what looks like a secret UAV (possibly RQ-170 Sentinel) in open storage at the Lockheed Palmdale Plant. The image was captured by a commercial imaging satellite on December 4th of last year - ironically on the same day a RQ-170 crashed in Iran.

The drone - parked next to an F-16 - looks like its wearing some sort of protective covering - a form fitting tarp.

View Lockheed Martin Skunk Works in a larger map

Click on the image below for a closer view:

-Steve Douglass

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Secret Space Plane X-37B returns

updated 6/16/2012 12:59:45 PM ET

Air Force officials announced the X-37B space plane's successful landing in a brief statement posted on the Vandenberg website and emailed to reporters.

"Team Vandenberg has put in over a year's worth of hard work in preparation for this landing and today we were able to see the fruits of our labor," said Col. Nina Armagno, 30th Space Wing commander at Vandenberg. "I am so proud of our team for coming together to execute this landing operation safely and successfully.

"The U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B space plane finally returned to Earth Saturday (June 16), wrapping up a mysterious mission that lasted more than year in orbit. The unmanned X-37B spacecraft, also known as Orbital Test Vehicle-2 (OTV-2), glided back to Earth on autopilot, touching down at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5:48 a.m. PDT (8:48 a.m. EDT, 1248 GMT). The landing brought to an end the X-37B program's second-ever spaceflight, a mission that lasted more than 15 months with objectives that remain shrouded in secrecy.

Friday, June 15, 2012

JetBlue pilot ruled competent to stand trial EXCLUSIVE PHOTO


AMARILLO, TEXAS -- The JetBlue pilot accused of causing a mid-air flight fiasco ending with the plane making an emergency landing in Amarillo has been ruled competent to stand trial.
After viewing a sealed doctor's report, U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson declared Clayton F. Osbon, 49, presently competent to stand trial.
He was also pounding on the cockpit door, the records showed.It was on March 27 when a JetBlue airliner was diverted to Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport after Osbon, a pilot, become disruptive, yelling about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and racing inside the cabin, according to court records.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said the co-pilot become concerned Osbon was exhibiting erratic behavior during the flight. The captain, according to TSA, then exited the cockpit during flight.
As a result, the co-pilot locked the door and when the captain attempted to enter the cockpit, he was subdued by passengers, TSA said.
The plane, with 141 passengers and crew members, was en route from New York City to Las Vegas. No one was seriously hurt.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

F-22 oxygen problem - may be the suit.

Air Force investigators believe a specialized flight suit could be partially responsible for some pilots experiencing a lack of oxygen while flying the F-22 fighter jet, according to a report by Air Force investigators.
Investigators are focusing on part of the suit, called the "Combat Edge," which hampers breathing and causes oxygen loss when combined with a physiological condition that collapses air sacs in the lungs, according to details of the report that were shared with Security Clearance.
The findings are expected to be part of the first monthly update by Air Force investigators to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to be delivered later this week or early next week, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
Last month, Panetta ordered the updates on the investigation after the Air Force could not identify the cause of the continued issues with pilots complaining about coming close to passing out while flying the plane, which the service called "hypoxia-like symptoms."
Combat Edge is a vest-like garment that expands and contracts on a pilot's torso to fight the effects of severe G-forces experienced while flying the F-22. The problem being looked at is that the garment may restrict the pilots' breathing beyond what is intended, according to sources familiar with the report.
Another possible problem for pilots, the report is expected to say, is a condition called acceleration atelectasis, which causes a pilot's lungs to not effectively deliver oxygen to the bloodstream. The condition for F-22 pilots is caused when extreme gravity and breathing almost pure oxygen in the F-22 cockpit partially collapse air sacs in the lungs, according to the sources.
Acceleration atelectasis causes a heavy cough, which F-22 pilots have called the "Raptor cough" after the nickname of the fighter, "Raptor."
Pilots have complained about the cough in connection with the hypoxia-like conditions as they fly the F-22, the most technologically advanced plane in history, often at altitudes much higher than regular aircraft fly. The pilots also perform maneuvers that put their bodies through extreme conditions.
In an e-mail response to questions by Security Clearance, Air Force spokesman Lt. Col. John Dorrian said, "Recent testing has identified some vulnerability and reliability issues in the upper pressure garment worn by F-22 pilots. Air Combat Command has directed pilots to remove the upper pressure garment during routine flight operations, and Air Force officials are developing a fix to overcome the identified issues."
The findings in the update report to be given to Panetta are not final, according to the sources. Air Force officials say investigators are narrowing down the cause of the problem, which has intermittently plagued the aircraft since 2008.The problem compounded in September 2011 as more pilots complained of experiencing the symptoms.
The Combat Edge problem does not explain why some mechanics have also suffered from hypoxia while working on the planes on the ground.
The fleet was grounded in May 2011 so the service could check the hypoxia reports, but the order was lifted in September under a "return to fly" plan, with equipment modifications and new rules including daily inspections of the life-support systems.
Investigators initially pointed to an onboard oxygen generating system that pilots used to breathe as a possible cause.
Lockheed Martin, the maker of the jet, was given a $19 million contract to install a backup oxygen system in the F-22 last week.
Last month, Panetta mandated that all F-22 flights "remain within the proximity of potential landing locations" to ensure the ability to recover and land should a pilot run into "unanticipated physiological conditions."

Osprey crashes in Florida

CV-22 Osprey crashes on Eglin Range

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (WALA) - Officials say five crew members aboard an Air Force CV-22 Osprey that crashed Wednesday evening on the Eglin Range, north of Navarre, Fla., were taken to local area hospitals.
Officials say two of the crew members were taken by ambulance, while the other three were transported by air.
The extent of their injuries is unknown at this time.
The Air Force CV-22 Osprey, assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing, crashed at about 6:45 p.m. Wednesday.
Officials say the mishap occurred during a routine training mission, and first responders are currently on the scene.
A board of officials will convene to investigate the accident.
More information will be released as it becomes available.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Drone strike kills 9 Yemeni al Qaeda

AZZAN, Yemen -- A US drone strike Wednesday on a house and car in Yemen's restive southeastern Shabwa province killed nine people, believed to be al Qaeda militants, a tribal source said.

"A US drone struck a house where al Qaeda militants were meeting, and a car nearby," in the town of Azzan in Shabwa province, a tribal source said on condition of anonymity.
He said "nine people were killed in the explosions." A local medic confirmed the toll.
Several hundred al Qaeda militants are believed to have fled to Azzan in the hours before two al Qaeda strongholds in Yemen's southern Abyan province, Jaar and Zinjibar, were recaptured by the army Tuesday.

Al Qaeda gunmen were also believed to have fled to the town of Shuqra, east of the newly recaptured towns, where according to one local official, fierce clashes raged Wednesday between troops and jihadists.

"Al Qaeda is still resisting and there are battles in and around the city," where many of al Qaeda's leadership is known to be hiding, the official said on condition of anonymity.
He said the army has "surrounded the town from three sides."

In Azzan, a resident said dozens of people "have fled" since the early morning drone strike.
"The explosions were very strong ... they shook the whole town," said the resident who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The capture of Zinjibar and Jaar marked the first major victories of a month-long army offensive to destroy al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the name given to the network's Yemen branch.
The militants, taking advantage of a central government weakened by last year's Arab-Spring style uprisings, had overrun most of Abyan, taking full control of the capital, Zinjibar, as well as Jaar, Shuqra and several villages

Read more:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

NAVY drone crashes off Maryland shore ...

A Naval drone aircraft crashed on Maryland's Eastern Shore on Monday without injuries or property damage on the ground, officials said.

The 44-foot plane on a routine training flight crashed around noon near Bloodsworth Island, across the Chesapeake Bay from the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, according to Jaime Cosgrove, a spokeswoman for the Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons program.

Aerial video from WBOC-TV showed a plane-shaped indentation surrounded by burning debris at the swampy crash site.
The cause is being investigated and the U.S. Coast Guard has set up a safety zone around the crash site, officials said.

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4A BAMS-D drones with a range of 10,500 nautical miles can reach 11 miles above the ground, which is above most weather, and stay in the air for more than 30 hours with speeds up to 391 mph, according to the Navy. It is operated by a crew of four on the ground.

The aircraft is one of five acquired from the Air Force Global Hawk program that support more than half of maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. They have flown more than 5,500 hours in support of combat operations since 2008.

The maritime surveillance aircraft have been used in support of the 5th Fleet, which covers much of the Middle East, including the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and part of the east African coast.
The southern Maryland station at the mouth of the Patuxent River, 65 miles southeast of Washington, is home to the Navy's test pilot school, drone operations and principal research center for aircraft and support systems.

Read more:

Clinton: Russia arming Syria with attack choppers

Her accusation came as international cease-fire monitors in Syria aborted a fact-finding trip after they came under assault by an angry mob and gunfire, and the top United Nationspeacekeeping official said Syria was already in a state of civil war.
Those developments — coupled with a newly released United Nations report that accused the Syrian military of using Syrians as young as 8 as human shields for troops — overshadowed fresh diplomatic efforts by Kofi Annan, the special envoy to Syria, to advance a peace plan that that has basically been ignored since it was put into effect two months ago.
Secretary Clinton’s remarks, at a Washington forum, appeared likely to irritate Russia, the most important foreign backer of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and seemed at odds with recent American efforts to forge a unified approach toward a resolution of the 16-month-old conflict that would push Mr. Assad out.
Russia has repeatedly denied sending any armaments to Mr. Assad that could be used to crush the uprising against him. But Mrs. Clinton said the United States was “concerned about the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on their way from Russia to Syria.” The shipments, she warned, “would escalate the conflict quite dramatically.”
In Syria, a team of cease-fire monitors deployed under the auspices of the United Nations were thwarted from entering Al Heffa, a besieged rebel-held enclave in the northwest part of the country, when hostile crowds struck their vehicles with stones and metal rods, a spokeswoman for the monitors said. As the monitors retreated, their vehicles came under attack by gunfire from an unspecified source, said the spokeswoman, Sausan Ghosheh.
Al Heffa, near Syria’s main port, Latakia, was among several flash points where new fighting was reported Tuesday.
At the United Nations, the under secretary general for peacekeeping operations, Hervé Ladsous, whose office is responsible for the monitor mission in Syria, said the Syrian conflict had become a civil war, an assertion that goes beyond what other senior diplomats at the United Nations have said in characterizing the conflict.
“Yes, I think one can say that,” Mr. Ladsous said in an interview with Reuters, which was later confirmed by Mr. Ladsous’s office. “And clearly what is happening is that the government of Syria lost some large chunks of territories and several cities to the opposition and wants to retake control of these areas. So now we have confirmed reports not only of the use of tanks and artillery, but also attack helicopters.”
The monitors uploaded a video from their observations on Monday of Homs, a center of resistance to President Assad that has defied months of military shelling and shooting, and the towns of Talbiseh and Al Rastan north of Homs, which have also been subjected to military attack. The video shows wafts of drifting smoke from buildings and homes hit by shelling, emptied roads, a wrecked bridge draped with a Syrian opposition flag, fresh blood on some home corridors and residents picking through the rubble, with one man shouting in English: “We are people! Not animals!”
Officials from the United Nations and Western countries including the United States have expressed fears of a massacre in Al Heffa. At least four other episodes of mass killings have taken place in Syria in the past few weeks, refocusing world attention on the increasingly brutal and sectarian tensions in the conflict, now in its 16th month.
Houran Al Hafawi, a member of the Local Coordination Committee of Al Heffa, an activist group, said in a telephone interview that he had been forced to flee to a neighboring village because his house had been bombed, but he remained in contact with his brothers and other civilians there. “The shelling has been continuous,” he said. “The Syrian Army is throwing missiles and rockets from helicopter and rocket launchers from the eastern and western entrances.”
He said Al Heffa activists had pleaded with the United Nations monitoring mission to check on Al Heffa, where at least 40 people have been killed over the past several days and more than 100 wounded, of which 40 were taken into Turkey. The claims were not possible to corroborate.
Asked about fears of a massacre in Al Heffa, he said: “If the Syrian Army gets in, yes; I do expect a massacre. It’s normal; it’s happening everywhere.

AVWK: India has a stealth program

Undeterred by development headaches on some of its indigenous fighter programs, in the next two decades Indian military researchers are looking to explore a range of stealth technologies for future-generation manned and unmanned aircraft.

At the same time, the country is exploring ways to better detect stealth aircraft. Detecting low-observable aircraft is a key element of the Indian 2020 airborne early warning and control development effort, a program likely to start in late 2014. It will be based on a yet-to-be selected widebody. This initiative follows the current Embraer EMB-145-based airborne early warning program featuring an Indian-developed, 240-deg. field-of-view radar. The first of the modified regional jets is due for delivery to India in August, with radar integration to start in October.

The new system will feature a rotodome radar and be integrated with unmanned aircraft and aerostats to allow bi-static radar operations to detect stealth aircraft, says Vijay Kumar Saraswat, scientific adviser to the director general of the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO). The distributed transmitter and receiver approach should also aid in detecting small targets, such as unmanned aircraft, and provide extended-range detection, Saraswat recently told the Aerospace Forum Sweden 2012.

The advances on India's own stealth technology are largely centered on two efforts. The first is the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), which would operate with a range of 400-600 km (249-373 mi.) between the Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft (being developed with Russia), and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). The second is the notional Indian unmanned combat air vehicle development, which could take another 10-15 years. The AMCA is a 25-metric-ton-class, twin-engine fighter with an empty weight of around 18 metric tons and 2 hr. of endurance, featuring supercruise; thrust vector control; an active, electronically scanned array radar; and integrated modular avionics.

Many of these technologies could also find their way into the Light Combat Aircraft Mk. 3 that is to be more stealthy than the current Mk. 2 version, which is due to fly in the next two years with the General Electric F414 engine and be ready for operational trials in 2016. The Mk. 3 is to have up to 70% composite content, almost double the current version's level, and could be powered by India's Kaveri turbofan, if that troubled program gets back on track.

Although much of DRDO's research focus is on reducing an aircraft's radar cross section, that is not the only area of activity. Reducing exhaust temperatures and smokeless engine exhaust to suppress an air vehicle's infrared signature also is on the agenda. “There are major areas where research and development is going on at the moment,” Saraswat notes.

A particular near-term focus is on fuselage-shaping, including curved jet pipes and serpentine engine ducts to support low radar cross section designs. In the latter case in particular, Indian researchers are grappling with flow separation in the serpentine duct and seeking to apply advanced flow-control technologies to mitigate the effects. This includes exploring pulse jets and other active devices to eliminate separation problems.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Do Flame and Stuxnet share same digital DNA?

Flame, revealed last month, attacked targets in Iran, as did Stuxnet which was discovered in 2010.
Kaspersky Lab said they co-operated "at least once" to share source code.
"What we have found is very strong evidence that Stuxnet/Duqu and Flame cyber-weapons are connected," Kaspersky said.
Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at the Russian-based security company added: "The new findings that reveal how the teams shared source code of at least one module in the early stages of development prove that the groups co-operated at least once."
Vitaly Kamluk, the firm's chief malware expert, said: "There is a link proven - it's not just copycats.
"We think that these teams are different, two different teams working with each other, helping each other at different stages."
The findings relate to the discovery of "Resource 207", a module found in early versions of the Stuxnet malware.
It bears a "striking resemblance" to code used in Flame, Kaspersky said.
"The list includes the names of mutually exclusive objects, the algorithm used to decrypt strings, and the similar approaches to file naming," Mr Gostev said.

Start Quote

It's not just copycats”
Vitaly KamlukKaspersky Labs
Direct orders
Recently, a New York Times investigation - based on an upcoming book - singled out the US as being responsible for Stuxnet, under the direct orders of President Barack Obama.
The report said the threat had been developed in co-operation with Israel.
No country is yet to publicly take responsibility for the attack.
Speaking about Flame, a spokesman for the Israeli government distanced the country from involvement following an interview in which a minister seemed to back the attacks.
"There was no part of the interview where the minister has said anything to imply that Israel was responsible for the virus," the spokesman said.
'Completely separate'
Last week, the UN's telecommunications head Dr Hamadoun Toure said he did not believe the US was behind Flame, and that reports regarding the country's involvement in Stuxnet were "speculation".
Prof Alan Woodward, a security expert from the University of Surrey, described the findings as interesting - but not yet a clear indicator of who was behind the attacks.
"The fact that they shared source code further suggests that it wasn't just someone copying or reusing one bit of Stuxnet or Flame that they had found in the wild, but rather those that wrote the code passed it over," he said.
"However, everything else still indicates that Flame and Stuxnet were written designed and built by a completely separate group of developers.
"At the very least it suggests there are two groups capable of building this type of code but they are somehow collaborating, albeit only in a minor way.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

N Korea vows to attack South unless they "take it back."

South Korea's military warned Monday that it would "immediately punish the core forces of provocations" if provoked again by North Korea, as the North vowed to attack major South Korean media for insulting its top leader. 

The South's warning came after its Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) held an unscheduled readiness exercise earlier in the day to check out its defense posture involving its ballistic missile command, front-line artillery units and the Air Force. 

The South's military, which remains on heightened alert following a series of deadly North Korean provocations, vows to retaliate if attacked. Seoul, the South Korean capital city of more than 10 million people, lies within range of North Korean artillery and rockets.

"Throughout today's readiness exercise, we confirmed that our military has the ability and posture to immediately punish the core forces of provocations if provoked by the enemy," Maj. Gen. Lee Young-joo said. 

Early last month, the North's military said its artillery has been targeting the Seoul headquarters of some major South Korean media outlets, which it accused of hurling unbearable insults at the country's new leader, Kim Jong-un. 

It also denounced the South Korean government of President Lee Myung-bak for abetting the anti-Pyongyang media campaign.

North Korea has made similar verbal threats against South Korean media in the past, but this one is special in its specificity as the North listed the coordinates of some of the media offices. 

Monday's exercise was ordered by South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin after Pyongyang ramped up its bellicose rhetoric, JCS officials said. 

There has been concern that North Korea may soon conduct a third nuclear test to make amends for the failed launch of a long-range rocket on April 13. The North's previous two rocket launches in 2006 and 2009 were followed by nuclear tests.

On Saturday, North Korea said it has no plan to carry out a nuclear test "at present," but accused South Korea of trying to "rattle the nerves of the DPRK (North Korea) in a bid to cause it to conduct a nuclear test," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency. 

The two Koreas are still technically in a state of war, having signed no peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against the North. (Yonhap)


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