September 29th, 2011
06:17 PM ET

A top U.S. Army officer in Iraq compares al Qaeda to a Mafia criminal gang

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

A senior American military officer in Iraq describes al Qaeda there as having deteriorated into a criminal gang, desperate for money and men.

"Instead of foreign aid coming in in large amounts, they're resorting to what I would call extortion, black marketing, robbery of jewelry stores, things like that," Maj. Gen. David Perkins said Thursday. "And it's devolving more into almost gang Mafia-type activities, especially in Mosul and some of these other areas with people slicing off areas of responsibility that they can use for extortion or something like that to get money."

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Iraq • Military
Defense Secretary applauds new cooperaton between the miitary and intelligence community
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Photo by: AFP/Getty Images
September 29th, 2011
03:20 PM ET

Defense Secretary applauds new cooperaton between the miitary and intelligence community

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, himself a symbol of close links between the military and intelligence agencies, Thursday praised the new collaboration as vital to national security in an very uncertain and dangerous world.

"History will look back on this moment and recognize that we have come together not only as an intelligence team but the military community and the intelligence community have now formed a strong partnership that is helping to protect this country in every way," Panetta said. He was visiting the Defense Intelligence Agency, celebrating its 50 years of service. Panetta jumped from CIA director to the Pentagon and General David Petraeus now holds the top CIA post.

"Your vital work, the work of DIA, makes our military vastly more effective and lethal," Panetta said at DIA headquarters.

U.S. ambassador safe after 'incident' in Syria
US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford Photo By: AFP/Getty Images
September 29th, 2011
01:00 PM ET

U.S. ambassador safe after 'incident' in Syria

By CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty

The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, was safe Thursday after being attacked by a pro-government group, a U.S. government official told CNN.

"It was an attack by an armed mob and he is OK," said the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media and did not want to be named.

Ford, who has been outspoken against the Syrian government's use of violence against protesters, is seen by pro-government supporters as an activist more than a diplomat.

Ford sparked a diplomatic firestorm in July when he traveled to the restive city of Hama to express support for demonstrators. He was welcomed with flowers by local residents who had suffered a brutal crackdown by government forces. President Bashar al-Assad's government called the trip an attempt to foment dissent.

Since then, Ford has continued to be seen by some as serving as a traditional diplomat and more as a provocateur.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Syria
September 29th, 2011
08:46 AM ET

Tattoo becomes reality (from Time's Battleland blog)

Tattoos are as old as war. Lots of soldiers get them, with military motifs, girlfriend's names, or various guns, skulls or dragons adorning their skin. Some get something less ornate. As Mark Thompson reports on Time's Battleland blog, when Private First Class Kyle Hockenberry had For those I love I will sacrifice stitched into his flesh he had no idea how prescient he was.

Read the story on Battleland


Filed under: Afghanistan • Military • Military life • Time's Battleland blog
September 29th, 2011
08:06 AM ET

Analysis: Model planes as weapons of terror

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, CNN

The F-86 Sabre was a fighter jet that played a pivotal role in the Korean War. And it was a model of that plane – packed with high explosive – that Rezwan Ferdaus allegedly planned to use to launch his own war against iconic targets in Washington D.C.

Miniature versions of the plane – 5 feet 6 inches long – can easily be acquired for less than $200 from websites serving model plane enthusiasts.

"Provides authoritative rudder control so you can execute point rolls and knife-edge flight with precision," reads the promotion material for the model on one website.

According to the affidavit in the case against Ferdaus, one of these F-86 models was delivered in August to a storage facility in Framingham, Massachusetts that he had rented under a false name to build his attack planes and maintain all his equipment. FULL POST

Climate change compounds global security threat, British admiral says
Families in drought striken Somalia await food rations Photo By: AFP/Getty Images
September 28th, 2011
07:22 PM ET

Climate change compounds global security threat, British admiral says

By CNN's Richard T. Griffiths

Stresses from global climate change are increasing the threat of wars around the world, a British admiral said Wednesday.

Royal Navy Rear Adm. Neil Morisetti told students and faculty at Georgia Institute of Technology that global climate change threats to food, water, land and energy will present substantive security challenges in regions of the world where there are already stresses.

"Those climate stress multipliers are increasing the threat of armed conflict around the world," Morisetti said.

Morisetti pointed out that existing stress points form a band around the globe, running from Central and South America, across Africa, the Middle East and south Asia. That band, he said, intersects with the regions of the globe most susceptible to climate change.

With climate change, Morisetti said, "we're going to add more to that cocktail."

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Filed under: Security Brief
September 28th, 2011
05:47 PM ET

U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia says Westerners may be targeted

By CNN State Department Correspondent Jill Dougherty

The U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia said Wednesday that it has received information that a terrorist group may be planning to abduct Westerners in Riyadh.

The embassy passed along the notice in an emergency message for U.S. citizens.

"The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh reminds all U.S. citizens to exercise prudence and enhanced security awareness at all times," it said.

"We deemed the information to be credible, or would not have issued the emergency message," Deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

He would not comment on specific intelligence, but said there was no reason for U.S. citizens to leave Saudi Arabia as a result of the message.

September 28th, 2011
05:29 PM ET

FBI watch list draws scrutiny

By CNN Senior Producer Carol Cratty

Newly released FBI documents say a person's name could be on the U.S. government's terror watch list even if terror charges have been dismissed or if the person has been acquitted in a trial.

A December 2010 FBI memo distributed to the bureau's field offices leaves the door open for a person to remain on the list following acquittal or dismissal of charges, although it says such a person "must still meet the reasonable suspicion standard in order to remain on, or be subsequently nominated to, the terrorist watch list."
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Filed under: 9/11 • FBI • Homeland Security • Living With Terror • Terrorism
Guantanamo prepares for next military trial of terrorism suspect
USS Cole following attack in 2000 Photo By: Getty Images
September 28th, 2011
02:46 PM ET

Guantanamo prepares for next military trial of terrorism suspect

By CNN Sr. National Security Producer Charley Keyes

The Pentagon formally moved closer Wednesday to its next military trial on the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the suspected ringleader of the deadly bombing of the USS Cole.

The Saudi-born former millionaire Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri is charged with the 2000 bombing in the Yemeni port of Aden that killed 17 sailors, injured dozens and crippled the U.S. warship.

The formal "referral of charges" by the Defense Department Military Commissions unit sets in motion a chain of events that will lead to the appointment of a military officer as the trial judge in the case and a formal meeting of the judge, prosecutors and defense lawyers in coming weeks. The arraignment will take place within 30 days.

A formal statement from the Defense Department said the charges against al-Nashiri allege that he was in charge of the planning and preparation for the attack, which took place on October 12, 2000.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • Gitmo • Military • Terrorism • Yemen
US close to adding Haqqani network to terror list
US officials said Haqqani insurgents were linked to the recent attack on the US embassy and other sites. The insurgents launched the attack from this construction site.
September 27th, 2011
09:02 PM ET

US close to adding Haqqani network to terror list

By Jill Dougherty and Elise Labott

The United States will soon designate the Haqqani network, the al Qaeda-linked group considered to be a major threat against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, as a foreign terrorist organization, U.S. officials tell CNN.

The anticipated move by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which would freeze assets, comes after several high-profile attacks on U.S. and NATO troops, as well as Afghan government and civilian targets, and public warnings from U.S. military officials that the Pakistan government refuses to stop the group from operating.

One official said action will be taken "fairly soon."

Under an executive order the State Department targeted what it calls the "kingpins" of the Haqqani network, including financiers, leadership and some of its most dangerous operatives. In 2008 it targeted Siraj Haqqani, in 2011 Badruddin Haqqani and Sangeen Zadran. The Treasury Department designated Nasiruddin Haqqani in 2010, and Khalil Haqqani, Ahmed Jan Zadran and Fazl Rabi in 2011.

Members of Congress, however, have been pressing for the entire organization to be named. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he'd asked for the designation.
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