Weaponized “hobby” drones take a toll of Russian aircraft in Syria

Twice last August, and again in October, I mentioned that Islamist militants were ‘weaponizing’ hobby-type drones and using them as weapons in the Middle East, and that such drones would probably pose a threat in the US soon.  A spirited debate ensued in the comments sections of those posts, with some proclaiming loudly that this was technically impossible.  Unfortunately, no-one told the militants that:  so they’ve continued to rack up successes using their modified drones, most recently several Russian strike aircraft and two of their servicemen. Following a deadly attack on Russia’s Khmeimim Air Base in Syria on December 31st,

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Tribes, tribalism, and security

Being from Africa, I grew up understanding the importance of tribes in traditional African society;  how they offered a social cohesiveness and security, a sort of über-family bond that transcended even national loyalty.  I saw that play out during war and peace, in politics, business and social relations.  When I served as a prison chaplain in the USA, I found prison gangs could best be understood if I treated them as the equivalent of tribes.  They exhibited many similar behaviors, albeit more violently and more criminally than most tribes in Africa would have been allowed to get away with. I’ve

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This is what happens when you hand out weapons as if they were candy

In its efforts to supply so-called ‘moderate’ or ‘anti-government’ groups in Syria, it looks like the USA and Europe ended up supplying ISIS and other radicals instead.  The Telegraph reports: Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) militants relied heavily on guns and ammunition produced by Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Germany, a report released on Thursday by Conflict Armament Research (CAR), an international organisation that documents weapons trafficking in war zones, revealed. . . . Their 200-page report provides the most comprehensive, verified study of the group’s weapons to date, presenting an analysis of more than 40,000 items recovered

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When the cure for terrorism is worse than the disease

There’s a conundrum in anti-terror operations.  Military necessity dictates stopping, killing and capturing terrorists.  However, the priorities of ordinary citizens are, more often than not, simply survival;  and, after survival, the security of their property and possessions.  This has led to many situations where military counter-terror operations have been opposed by local civilians, on the grounds that they are suffering more from them than the terrorists.  (Iraq and Afghanistan have provided many examples.) The most recent such situation occurred in Marawi, in the Philippines, earlier this year. More than six months after Filipino and foreign fighters claiming allegiance to the

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The financial war on terrorism and terrorists

A new book, published today, lifts the veil on a hitherto highly secretive front in the fight against terrorism.  It’s titled ‘Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters‘. It’s of particular interest to me because one of those involved in this effort is a person I knew back in South Africa.  S/he was particularly skilled in various forms of electronic warfare, including the infiltration of enemy communications networks.  Such skills are always in high demand in certain quarters:  so, some years ago, my acquaintance accepted an offer to move to another country, where abilities in that line were

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Antifa unmasked, by a former leader of the movement in Australia

In the light of demonstrations planned today, I thought this article by a former Antifa leader in Australia might prove interesting. ANTIFA is a growing extreme group who believe violence is legitimate. . . . I came to believe that war was a symptom of bigger systems at play in society and they were the real enemy, like white supremacy and patriarchy. Antifa believe these systems need to be smashed through a process of ‘de-platforming’ to save the world. People who don’t necessarily agree on everything are united to attack their common enemy — anyone in the right wing of

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It’s time to carefully assess your risk of attack

I’ve written many times about issues related to personal security.  In particular, I’ve quoted the sage advice of John Farnam on how to avoid getting into situations that threaten your security.  Since it remains as true as ever, here it is again.  (To see the original, click here and scroll down to the entry for 19 Mar 03.) The best way to handle any potentially injurious encounter is: Don’t be there. Arrange to be somewhere else. Don’t go to stupid places. Don’t associate with stupid people. Don’t do stupid things. This is the advice I give to all students of

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About drones and terrorists – it’s happening right now

A few weeks ago, I repeated warnings from several quarters that terrorists had used, and were planning to use, hobby-style drones as weapons of terror. My article was debunked by some who thought the idea wholly far-fetched.  One such response may be found here. Well, guess what?  Mexican drug cartels are doing it right now! The hobby drone referred to at that link, the 3DR Solo Quadcopter, costs only $199 from online retailers such as Amazon.com.  It can carry a payload of 1.1 pounds, according to its user manual – and Mexican drug cartels were obviously using that capability to the

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The Las Vegas shootings: lots of smoke, but where’s the real fire?

There are still many unanswered questions about the Las Vegas shootings a fortnight ago.  Law enforcement seems to be changing the timeline and other details to suit their own narrative, and they’ve done it so often as to call their professionalism and expertise into serious question. Two articles summarize the current state of play: Vegas Weekend Roundup: Insanity Las Vegas Still Makes No Sense Go read them for a very good summary of the issues that remain unsolved (at least, as far as the public is concerned). I’m particularly concerned that little or no internal security footage from the hotel

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The Las Vegas shooter: many questions, few answers

There are so many weird things about the shooter in the Las Vegas massacre that they can make your head spin.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist by any stretch of the imagination – I’m the opposite, if there is such a critter! – but I have more than a passing knowledge of what’s generally called “tradecraft“, based on military training and experience, working with “interesting people” from the foreign equivalent of three-letter agencies, and some exposure to law enforcement.  All that background is causing my eyebrows to rise into my hairline when I read what’s coming out about the Las

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