Friday, November 27, 2015

Europe Is Clueless

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Europe is clueless about the scourge of terror ravaging the continent.

For decades, Europeans refused to consider themselves part of the problem and refused to entertain the notion that they needed to clamp down on the terror that was swilling around them. Even events of the past few years and these past few months did not sway them.

Leaders, governments, courts, police - none of them had any idea of how deep, how pervasive, how dangerous and how powerful the terror had grown in their own societies.

One would have thought that the Charlie Hebdo attack would have been a wakeup call. Sadly, it was not. We can only hope that the most recent attacks that horrified Paris finally woke Europe up.

There is one sign that change may be happening.

A Belgium court convicted a famous comedian of hate speech and sentenced him to two months in prison and 9000 Euros (about $9500).

Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, known simply as Dieudonne, has been the center of much hate humor over the past decade. He claims his material is protected by free speech and that it is political and social commentary - not hatred. The court in Belgium has disagreed.

Dieudonne is best known for his "quenelle." I call it the inverted Nazi salute. Right arm stretched down instead of up. Left arm across chest.

The "quenelle" became a symbol of anti-Semitism. Europeans took pictures of themselves posed in front of synagogues, next to Holocaust survivors, at Holocaust memorials, even in soccer matches and at the Western Wall.

Europe must crack down on hate - on symbols of hate and on hate speech. Terror organizations cannot be protected under freedoms of democracy. 

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

ISIS Recruits Friends & Relatives

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Scott Atran, co-founder of the Center for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Oxford University, made public some very interesting information about the study of ISIS recruits.

Atran said that 75% of all ISIS recruits are recruited by friends.

He also said that 20 % of ISIS recruits are recruited by family -- that means siblings and cousins.

He admitted that mosques have become radicalized but ISIS recruitment very seldom comes from the mosques.

Anecdotal evidence seems to confirm Atran's research and his assertions. We see many sects which include friends from the same neighborhood. These are friendships that date back decades. When looking at those who perpetrate terror attacks we see an uncanny number of siblings and cousins.

This means that radicalized mosques are not the hotbed of recruitment that we may have thought. And hard core recruiters are less effective than we gave them credit for.

Contacts and connections are the most effective recruitment tools.

This knowledge should allow us another set of methods to use to interrupt recruitment. Find friends and find siblings. 

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

14 Air Forces Fly In Syria

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

A Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian SU-24 yesterday. This is a very ominous set of events. Turkey is claiming that they warned the Russian pilot ten times in five minutes to leave Turkish air space.

Russia will not let this action go unanswered.

The atmosphere is very tense in the air in and around Syria. Fourteen air forces fly in Syrian skies.
Fourteen! That fact alone is cause for worry - mistakes are made all the time.

The US, Britain, Canada, France, Australia, Russia, Israel, China, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Turkey and of course Syria all fly around in Syria. They are bound to bounce up against one another and it is inevitable that some country, at some time, will fly out of bounds.

But Russia and Turkey have been testing one another for over a decade. This is not the first skirmish between them that involves planes.

The first incident took place in 2012. A Turkish F-4 reconnaissance plane was shot down. Then a year and a half later Turkey shot down a Syrian MIG and a helicopter. The Turks have repeatedly said that the Russians are violating their airspace. On October 3rd it was reported that a MIG locked onto a Turkish jet.

Russia is now expanding its plane arsenal. They are doubling their number of planes over the next few weeks.

As I said - this was not the first and it will certainly not be the last time there is an incident in the skies of Syria, and it is not the first and not the time there will be aerial conflict between Russia and Turkey. 

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Finally US Sees ISIS for What it IS!

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

The United States is revamping its perspective on ISIS objectives. Finally!

For the past 18 months the US has called ISIS a "regional threat" and insisted that ISIS was not interested in striking any targets outside of the Middles East.

Of course - that was wrong from the outset.

The US evaluation was so off-base that it endangered not only the US but also Western allies around the world.

To put it succinctly, the US has been absolutely clueless about anything and everything ISIS.
Thankfully, they have now re-adjusted their understanding of ISIS and know that it is a world threat and a real and significant threat to the US.

The truth was staring them in the face, but US leaders refused to see it because their preferred ISIS narrative did not see them as a world danger. Not even Charlie Hebdo shook the US out of their fantasy.

The signs and signals were there. But they refused to hear the wake-up calls. 

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Missed Red Flags of Terror

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
Red flags were missed about the Paris attacks. And for some reason that I cannot understand, mainstream media has not made this information public. It is time for people to know.

These were not small flags, they were major flags.

The list is long. Here are some examples:

One of the terrorists had an international arrest warrant out on him, another was on an international watch list.

A third terrorist had missed his check-in with his official police monitor for three weeks in a row.
Some of the terrorist had been deported to Belgium from Turkey.

Turkey conveyed details of how the terrorists were involved in plans and other information. hen the terrorists arrived in Belgium they said it was untrue they were let go.

Several terrorists were members of a known terror ring in Belgium.

The French were warned by Turkey about this terrorist attack and only after the Friday night horror did France ask for details. Twice they were warned about the first suicide bomber Omar Ismael Msutafei.

Turkey named him by name. Sadly he was the first one identified as a suicide bomber.

According to the reports in Europe there were 24 people in the cell that pulled off the attacks. That included a sleeper cell in France and Belgium. The training for the attacks, run through as well as the planning took place in Raqqa Syria, which is an ISIS regional capital.

Aba'aoud, the ring leader, had bragged that he was able to enter and leave Belgium and Europe at will and without fear of being detained.

Two brothers, Saleh and Ibrahim Abdeslem, were on watch lists.
Ibrahim blew himself up in Paris that Friday night on Boulevard Volatire. Seleh his brother fled to escape. He was apprehended on Saturday, the day after, at the Belgium border and after a short interview he was released and is now in the wind.

Wow. I could not make up these details and they are only a handful of the snafus from before and after the horrific terror attack in Paris.

It is not just France and Belgium that are at fault - the entire system is not set up to stop these acts of terror.

Terror suspects are a different breed. They are not simply criminals. Countries need to apply a different set of conditions of due process.

The threshold for evidence needs to be changed and it needs to be lowered. Police should not need enough evidence for prosecutors to decide whether to charge and convict as they do with common criminals.

The only evidence they should need is the information necessary in order to follow, track 

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pollard's 1st Wife Sues Israel

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Now that Jonathan Pollard has been released on parole there are other details that need to be brought out into the open.

As is often the case, t story is not so simple or straight forward.

Pollard's first wife Anne served 40 months in jail and was released early. She was part of the plea deal that Jonathan made. That deal was later thrown out by the judge.

In 1990, after she was released from prison, she and Jonathan divorced. After Anne got out of jail she came to Israel for a while, but returned to the States.

Now she is suing Israel. She says that throughout the 30 years that Jonathan Pollard was in prison, Israel portrayed her as a crazy woman.

Over the years Anne has tried to get assistance from Israel but they rejected her. She and her father live in NYC and an Israeli embassy official has visited them and discovered that they are both ill and live in terrible poverty.

Now Prime Minister Netanyahu has set up a team to help her. He is said to have told them that Israel has a moral obligation to help them.

It should never have come to this level.

The legal suit being brought by Anne Pollard against Israel has merit. 

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Friday, November 20, 2015

What Turns A Kid Into a Suicide Bomber

By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:

Hasna Aitboulahcen is the name of the 26 year old terrorist in Paris who blew herself up at the safe house as police were closing in to arrest her and her colleagues.

She actually played the victim card and asked the police to come in - but only so that the closer they were to her, the more of them she could kill as she blew herself up.

Instead of police men, Diesel, the police dog was killed in her suicide explosion.

This 26 year old daughter of Moroccan immigrants was a party animal. By all accounts she loved to drink and dance. Then she became hooked on ISIS and turned herself into a suicide mass murderer.

What makes a young woman switch gears so quickly? She was clearly impressionable ... but so are many other women her age.

The answer rests with the recruitment, the recruiters and the media propaganda. ISIS PR is very slick and very convincing. They make young Muslims feel needed and they give them purpose.

Most importantly, ISIS recruiters and the accompanying ISIS propaganda lends these young men and women a tool with which they can redeem and return the honor of Islam in a world that dishonors Islam.

That is how ISIS works. That is why ISIS is so successful at what they do. 

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