Sunday, September 29, 2019

Hezbollah Global Network Weakens

President Mauricio Macri of Argentina (left) and President Mario Abdo Benitez of Paraguay (right).

On 16 July 2019 Argentina became the first country in Latin America to officially designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization. On August 9, Paraguay also officially recognized Hezbollah as a terror organization.

The Financial Intelligence Unit of Argentina froze the assets of 14 individuals belonging to the Barakat Clan, a Lebanese crime family with ties to Hezbollah. One of the conduits for these Hezbollah money launderers was a casino in the city of IguazĂș on the Argentine side of the Tri-Border Area (TBA).

The U.S. Treasury Department, through its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, has sanctioned more than 50 Hezbollah-related persons or entities since 2017 as part of a larger effort at dismantling Hezbollah's global financial network.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Preserving Antiquities

The October discussion topic at Ethics Forum is the preservation of antiquities and the problem of iconoclasm. Stolen or destroyed artifacts and images represent a serious loss to scientific investigation.

The National Museum of Iraq was like a university containing thousands of artifacts and books. Researchers from many universities came to the museum to study the priceless volumes and artifacts. In 2003, the museum was looted. Books, research papers, and dictionaries of the oldest languages were burned. The objects of gold were stolen. Many artifacts of great historical value were destroyed or sold on the black market.

Most archaeological sites in Iraq were left unprotected by coalition forces between the summer of 2003 through the end of 2007. The first break-in at the museum occurred on 10 April 2003. While fighting continued outside, thieves had the run of the museum until returning museum staff chased them off on 12 April. Museum staff put up a large sign announcing that the museum was under the protection of the US military, though the first US tanks did not arrive until 16 April.

This 2550 BC gold dagger was stolen from the National Museum of Iraq and never recovered.

At least 3,138 objects were stolen from restoration and above-ground storage rooms. By January 2004, 3,037 had been recovered,1,924 via the amnesty program, and 1,113 through seizures.

The thieves knew in advance the location of the museum’s store of small, valuable, and portable items. They had keys to open the storage lockers, though in the darkness and confusion they dropped the keys and the lockers remained secure. Nevertheless, the thieves did steal 10,686 items that had been stored in boxes, including 5,144 cylinder seals. By January 2005, 2,307 of these pieces had been recovered.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Dissent Terrorism

Punctured by bullet holes, oil spews under high pressure from the Trans-Alaska pipeline.

Terrorism is not a modern problem. Terror tactics characterize many ancient conflicts. Judges 16:21 recounts how the Philistines gouged out Samson's eyes. The city of Bam, Iran was abandoned in 1722 due to an Afghan invasion during which the Afghans gouged out the eyes of many of the citizens. Jihadists behead, crucify, and burn people alive to strike terror in the hearts of perceived enemies.

Today terrorism receives intense investigation and has become a subject of academic interest, especially at universities that offer degree programs in security. Scholars classify acts of terrorism into five categories: 1) State sponsored terrorism; 2) Dissent terrorism; 3) Ideological terrorism; 4) Religious terrorism; and 5) Criminal terrorism.

An example of state sponsored terrorism was the recent attack on the Saudi oil production facilities. In this post we will examine dissent terrorism.

Dissent terrorism involves groups that have rebelled against their governments or government policies. Recent dissent movements include Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Phoenix, and cyber and physical attacks on oil pipelines.

Dissent terrorism involves acts intended to draw attention to a cause, though the original cause often becomes lost or obfuscated by competing agendas. The acts are symbolic and limited, but violent enough to focus a great deal of attention on the incident. Such dissidents tend to go underground and isolate themselves from their previous social contacts, restricting their contact to a small nucleus of dissidents (Della Porta; Diani, 1999).

The strategies are designed to have consequences for the country through Media broadcasts that stir speculation and fear and thereby influence policies. The marches, sit-ins, building take-overs, and other events of dissenters usually do not involve terrorist acts. It is easier to involve large numbers of people if the venues are promoted as peaceful.

Causes to which dissidents commit include poverty, perceived injustices, climate, environment, and women's and gay rights.

Since the terrorists attacks of September 11, US government agencies have doubled down on monitoring potential security risks. Civil rights groups claim that this threatens the constitutional rights of citizens to speak against corporate and government policies and practices. On the other hand, it is impossible to know how many violent acts of dissent terrorists have been averted due to surveillance.

Related reading: Jacques Derrida on Terrorism; Terrorists Target African Christians; Boko Haram Terrorism Spreads; Aramco Attack Likely State Sponsored Terrorism

Monday, September 23, 2019

Aramco Attack Likely State-Sponsored Terrorism

The strike on Saudi Arabia's oil fields appears to be an example of state-sponsored terrorism. State-sponsored terrorism involves terrorist acts on a state or government by a state or government.

That is the official view of the United States and the United Kingdom, both of which believe that Iran launched the missiles. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of perpetrating an "act of war" after the strikes on Saudi oil facilities, saying the attack had the "fingerprints of the Ayatollah."

However, some doubt remains as to who actually is responsible. Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed responsibility and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani insists the attack came from Yemeni forces against whom a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting since March 2015.

However, as Pompeo told reporters, the claim that Houthi rebels launched the attack "doesn't change the fingerprints of the Ayatollah as having put at risk the global energy supply."

Saudi Aramco President Amin Nasser said the synchronized attacks were timed to create "maximum damage" to the Saudi oil processing facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais in eastern Saudi Arabia.

Eighteen drones and seven cruise missiles bombarded the facilities in an assault described as a “Pearl Harbor-type" attack.

The attack knocked out an estimated 5.7 million barrels of daily oil production, slightly over five percent of the global daily crude production.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Jacques Derrida on Terrorism

In July, Ethics Forum focused on the theme of ethical concerns surrounding aliens and extraterrestrial life. In August, we considered the theme of political manipulation. September is dedicated to the issue of global terrorism, and we begin with a reflection by Jacques Derrida on the nature of terrorism.

Pakistani policemen observe security personnel demolishing the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad on 26 February 2012. (Photo credit: Aamir Qureshi)

Derrida on Terrorism before 9/11

"It cannot be denied, as an empiricist of the eighteenth century would quite literally say, that there was an "impression" there, and the impression of what you call in English—and this is not fortuitous—a "major event." I insist here on the English because it is the language we speak here in New York, even though it is neither your language nor mine; but I also insist because the injunction comes first of all from a place where English predominates. I am not saying this only because the United States was targeted, hit, or violated on its own soil for the first time in almost two centuries—since 1812 to be exact—but because the world order that felt itself targeted through this violence is dominated largely by the Anglo-American idiom, an idiom that is indissociably linked to the political discourse that dominates the world stage, to international law, diplomatic institutions, the media, and the greatest technoscientific, capitalist, and military power. And it is very much a question of the still enigmatic but also critical essence of this hegemony. By critical, I mean at once decisive, potentially decisionary, decision-making, and in crisis: today more vulnerable and threatened than ever."

"The concepts with which this "event" has most often been described, named, categorized, are the products of a "dogmatic slumber" from which only a new philosophical reflection can awaken us, a reflection on philosophy, most notably on political philosophy and its heritage. The prevailing discourse, that of the media and of the official rhetoric, relies too readily on received concepts like "war" or "terrorism" (national or international)."

"Assuming that "bin Laden" is here the sovereign decision-maker, everyone knows that he is not Afghan, that he has been disavowed by his own country (by every "country" and state, in fact, almost without exception), that his training owes much to the United States and that, of course, he is not alone. The states that help him indirectly do not do so as states. No state as such supports him publicly. As for states that "harbor" terrorist networks, it is difficult to identify them as such. The United States and Europe, London and Berlin, are also sanctuaries, places of training or formation and information for all the "terrorists" of the world. No geography, no "territorial" determination, is thus pertinent any longer for locating the seat of these new technologies of transmission or aggression. To say it all too quickly and in passing, to amplify and clarify just a bit what I said earlier about an absolute threat whose origin is anonymous and not related to any state, such "terrorist" attacks already no longer need planes, bombs, or kamikazes: it is enough to infiltrate a strategically important computer system and introduce a virus or some other disruptive element to paralyze the economic, military, and political resources of an entire country or continent. And this can be attempted from just about anywhere on earth, at very little expense and with minimal means."

Friday, September 6, 2019

Terrorists Target African Christians

Women from a Christian village in Cameroon recover after having their ears chopped off by members of Boko Haram in July 2019. (Photo: Open Doors)

For the past 18 years Islamic terrorism has been directed against African Christians in an attempt to eliminate Christianity and to force conversions to Islam. Nigeria has experienced the most attacks on Christians. Nigeria’s conflict with Boko Haram has resulted in the deaths of over 20,000 civilians and a large-scale humanitarian crisis. Approximately 2.1 million people have been displaced by the conflict while 7 million need humanitarian assistance. The crisis is likely to expand as Boko Haram broadens its ruthless attacks.

In December 2008 more than 360 victims of brutal ethic and religious clashes in Nigerian central city of Jos were given a mass burial by federal government. The clashes between Christians and Muslims began when results of the disputed local government elections were being announced by election officials. The clashes left over 4,000 displaced and facing starvation.

From the office of the Anglican Archbishop of Jos.
"We are just relying on God. Things are quieter but this thing does not seem to be over. There are unfinished agendas. There have been miraculous escapes. We are documenting what has happened. Two Anglican pastors have lost their houses but escaped with their lives. Other pastors from other churches have been killed and a number of churches have been destroyed.

The number of displaced people in the camps was nearly 26,000. But there will also be many hundreds being cared for by families and friends. There have been mass burials because the corpses have to be removed. One pastor said he had never seen anything like this. It has surpassed what happened in 2001. There are mercenaries who have been drafted in with machetes and guns.

The government have admitted that this must have been pre-planned because the violence began before the election results were announced."

It has been confirmed that Islamic terrorists planned an attack of Jos Christians. Archbishop Kwashi reported on 29 November 2008: "The reports from those I have sent out to collect information are that the Muslims are attacking and burning this morning. It looks well co-ordinated. They are well armed with AK 47 and pump machine guns. This morning they have been at Dogonduste. Quite a number of Christian homes have been burnt. We do not know how many have been killed. The local government has underestimated the vehemence of the militants. At the moment this is all restricted to Jos City.

This year (2019) the terror has spread to Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burkina Faso.

In Burkina Faso a series of attacks began on 28 April in Silgadji, when gunman rounded up a pastor, his son and four of his congregation and demanded they deny their Christian faith and convert to Islam. After refusing they were executed one-by-one. Six were then killed at a church on 12 May and four at a Christian parade on 13 May. Four were then murdered at another church on 26 May. The fifth and sixth reported attacks took place on 9 and 10 June in which 29 were butchered by Islamist extremists.

Burkina Faso is part of a five-nation regional force against extremism, known as the G5 Sahel. Islamic extremist violence has increased in Burkina Faso's north and east near its Mali border. Hundreds have been killed in the attacks thousands have fled.

Islamic terrorists attacked the Christian village of Kalau in the North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 6 March 2019. They attempted to infiltrate the village under the guise of being security agents, but some village youth warned the villagers. The militants shot the village leader’s guard dogs and then opened fire, killing six Christians, including three women and a child.

The attack was launched by members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group that attempted the overthrow the Ugandan government in the 90’s, seeking to replace it with an Islamic regime. The group has ties to other terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda. They are responsible for thousands of deaths throughout Uganda and eastern DRC.