Corruption in Afghanistan costs US taxpayers – again

The Afghan Air Force has had to acquire be given (at US expense) four used Lockheed Hercules transports – because the planes it was originally given (also at US expense), while more suitable for its needs, were sidelined by rampant corruption within its ranks, and among Afghan politicians. In 2012 Afghanistan announced that it would cancel the contract to buy and use 20 C-27A transports. The official reason was the inability of the Italian maintenance firm to keep the aircraft operational. The unofficial reason was the unwillingness of the Italians to pay as much in bribes as the Afghan officials were demanding. Over half a billion

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Everything you ever wanted to know about car bombs, but were afraid to ask

Hugo Kamaan has produced an in-depth report for the Middle East Institute titled “Car Bombs As Weapons Of War – ISIS’s development of SVBIEDs, 2014-19“.  The link is to an Adobe Acrobat document in .PDF format.  The executive summary reads: The suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) has been one of ISIS’s most powerful and versatile weapons. The group consistently adapted the SVBIED design based on operational environment and other factors, with modifications in armor, payload organization, color, and detonation technology. Advanced SVBIED designs have been distributed between many ISIS provinces, not only within Iraq and Syria, but also globally

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Perfectly legal technology, but it makes me nervous

I note the availability of a “TF-19 WASP Flamethrower Drone Attachment“, that is “highly compatible with most cinema/industrial drone platforms with a payload capacity of 5 lbs or more“.  Here’s a promotional video. This is, of course, entirely legitimate technology in a number of industries and activities.  The supplier lists: Clear debris from power lines Pest management and nest elimination Forest fire containment back-burns / pre-burns Remote agriculture burns Nothing wrong with any of those.  However, I can’t help thinking how much damage it could do in the wrong hands. What if a disaffected person got hold of one of

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It pays to be a Palestinian terrorist

When I worked as a prison chaplain, I came across more than one Palestinian terrorist behind bars.  They usually received a check each month, deposited into their prison commissary accounts, from “their family in Palestine”.  We all knew this was from the Palestinian government.  It was routine. Strategy Page discusses what it calls this “pay-for-slay” terrorism, and its consequences for Palestine. In the West bank the Palestinian Fatah government accuses Hamas of being unable to control all its Gaza factions and make it possible to form a unified Palestinian government. That is an accurate assessment but it ignores the fact the Fatah is

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ISIL terrorists are still having an effect, even after their deaths

ISIL has been defeated as an occupying power in Iraq.  Its “conventional” forces are almost all dead, and the survivors have disintegrated into small cells, which are still active in Iraq and elsewhere and trying to maintain what influence they can by terrorism.  However, Strategy Page reports that ISIL terrorism isn’t limited to current actions.  It’s also affecting millions through its earlier incarnation. The Iraqi government has encountered a major problem with people who fled their homes to escape approaching ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) forces. Many of these civilians have been refugees for nearly five years. Overall more

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What to do with hard-core terrorist prisoners?

That problem is rearing its head in the Middle East right now – but it’s likely to impact many countries, sooner or later.  Strategy Page reports: In northeast Syria the U.S. backed SDF (Kurdish led Syrian Defense Forces rebels) have a growing problem with ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) wives (and their children) that ISIL had ordered to surrender as SDF captured the last ISIL controlled territory in eastern Syria (Deir Ezzor province). The mass surrenders began at the end of 2018 and by April the SDF had 63,000 of these refugees. Since then that has grown to

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Sometimes African tribalism can work in our favor

I recently wrote about tribalism as a dominant force in Africa and elsewhere, both in terms of anti-terrorist security and the fight against Ebola.  It’s usually a negative factor, from the point of view of the First World.  However, sometimes it works in our favor, too – as in Somalia, where the fight against Al Qaeda offshoot Al Shabaabcontinues, with considerable success.  Strategy Page reports: Most Somalis do not trust any armed organization that does not have clear clan ties … Therein lies the core problem with Somalia; clan loyalty is seen by most Somalis, as more important than any other government or religious allegiance.

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Is Ebola being used as a weapon by jihadist terrorists?

Austin Bay raises a very worrying question about the current Ebola epidemic in the Congo. Unfortunately for all homo sapiens living within 200 kilometers or so of a major airport anywhere on this planet, the Ebola virus epidemic afflicting eastern Congo constitutes a deadly, international, mass-casualty threat to human life. And there are political predators who would like to see this plague seed global fear and death … The difference (I hope) between you and the predators is that they are megalomaniacs and you are not. . . . In casualty terms, the 2013-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak surpasses the current eastern

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“A meteor filled with swords”

That’s what Task & Purpose calls the recently revealed R9X version of the Hellfiremissile.  The Wall Street Journal described it thus: The U.S. government has developed a specially designed, secret missile for pinpoint airstrikes that kill terrorist leaders with no explosion, drastically reducing damage and minimizing the chances of civilian casualties, multiple current and former U.S. officials said. . . . A modified version of the well-known Hellfire missile, the weapon carries an inert warhead. Instead of exploding, it is designed to plunge more than 100 pounds of metal through the tops of cars and buildings to kill its target without harming individuals and

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Watch out for terror attacks this Easter season

I note that ISIS/ISIL, though territorially defunct in the Middle East, is preaching retaliation for the Christchurch mosque shootings. The spokesman of the Islamic State emerged from nearly six months of silence on Monday to mock America’s assertion of having defeated the group and to call for retaliation over last week’s mosque attacks in New Zealand. “The scenes of the massacres in the two mosques should wake up those who were fooled, and should incite the supporters of the caliphate to avenge their religion,” the spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, said in a 44-minute audio recording. Mr. al-Muhajir portrayed the shootings by a

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