Two suspected British al Qaeda operatives killed in Pakistan drone strike
The arid landscape of South Waziristan, Pakistan
November 18th, 2011
10:04 PM ET

Two suspected British al Qaeda operatives killed in Pakistan drone strike

By CNN Terrorism Analyst Paul Cruickshank

Two British militants suspected of having links to several al Qaeda plots against the West are reported to have been killed in a drone strike in Waziristan, one of Pakistan's tribal areas.

It is not clear when the men - Ibrahim Adam, 24 and Mohammed Azmir Khan, 37 - were killed, but family members were quoted in the British press as saying they had been killed in a drone strike. British security services have reached the same conclusion, a source in contact with British intelligence told CNN.

The UK Foreign Office said Friday it was aware of the reports and was looking into them.

Both men were part of a network of radicals from East London, according to the British source, and had brothers already implicated in al Qaeda terrorism.

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Filed under: Al Qaeda • drones • Pakistan • Terrorism
November 18th, 2011
05:29 PM ET

House Intelligence chairman sees danger in Chinese technology

By CNN's Jill Dougherty and Pam Benson

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee fears the phones we use and other telecommunication systems we depend upon could be a Trojan horse, giving the Chinese government access to the United States' critical infrastructure so it can carry out economic and military espionage.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, announced this week that the committee has launched an investigation into the threat posed by Chinese telecommunication firms operating in the United States. The primary focus of the probe is Huawei, a company Rogers referred to as "the 800-pound gorilla in the room."

Huawei is a $28 billion Chinese company employing 120,000 people worldwide with approximately 1,500 in the United States. It is one of the top three providers of telecommunications equipment and information communications technology in the world.

Rogers is suspicious of what he calls China's "voracious appetite" for stealing commercial intellectual property.


Al Qaeda-linked group finds fertile territory in Nigeria as killings escalate
November 18th, 2011
01:29 PM ET

Al Qaeda-linked group finds fertile territory in Nigeria as killings escalate

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister

Two weeks ago, dozens of armed men descended on a town in northern Nigeria and killed more than 100 people in a coordinated series of bombings and gun attacks.

Many of those targeted were Christians, but police stations and mosques deemed "insufficiently Islamic" were also attacked.

The town was Damataru, capital of the Nigerian state of Yobe, and the assailants belonged to the group Boko Haram, which translates from the local Hausa as "Western education is outlawed."

In two years, Boko Haram has morphed from a radical Muslim sect into an insurgency responsible for dozens of attacks in Nigeria and beyond. Western intelligence analysts believe it is also developing links with al Qaeda affiliates in Africa.

Boko Haram's targets include police outposts and churches, as well as places associated with 'western influence.' Its signature attack is a Karachi-style drive-by shooting from a motorbike, but this year it has begun a campaign of suicide vehicle attacks.

In Maiduguri, the epicenter of the insurgency, there is a heavy military presence, with security checkpoints, sandbagged military positions and the scars left by bomb attacks.

House-to-house searches are common. A senior military officer admitted last week that Maiduguri was a dangerous place, with "miscreants" slipping across the nearby borders with Chad and Niger. The Nigerian authorities seem unable to overcome Boko Haram - and its growing footprint worries neighboring states and the U.S. Africa Command.

Many Christians in northeastern Nigeria have fled their homes as the violence has worsened this year. FULL POST

Filed under: Nigeria
The national security brains behind the GOP candidates
November 18th, 2011
12:06 PM ET

The national security brains behind the GOP candidates

Editor's note: On November 22, CNN, along with conservative think tanks AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics.

By Senior State Department Producer Elise Labott

There are a few models for presidential candidates seeking to bone up on national security issues.

First, there's the George W. Bush model.  You hire a lean, high-powered team of foreign policy heavyweights to help hammer out foreign policy, defense and intelligence proposals.  The Vulcans, as the Bush team was called, included former Secretary of State George Shultz and Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz.  They traded e-mail messages and held conference calls and meetings at the then-Texas governor's mansion, where they hammered out his national security positions.  Once in office, the majority of the Vulcans became Bush's national security team.

Then there's the Barack Obama model, which sucks up all the foreign policy talent in Washington to present an impressive front about the candidate's expertise, thereby denying the privilege to his competitors.  Obama was in a brain arms race with Hillary Clinton, who had a similar approach, in the '08 primary.  It's like the annual Filene's Basement wedding dress sale.  When the doors open, brides rush to scoop up all of the dresses they can find, regardless of the style or fit, depriving fellow brides a dress in case they may want it later.

The problem with this approach is that you have no idea what the bride will look like on her wedding day. FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Bachman • Cain • debate • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Huntsman • Paul • Perry • Romney • Santorum
November 18th, 2011
11:18 AM ET

Clinton: What we see in Syria is 'very disturbing'

In an interview on the sidelines of the East Asian Summit in Bali, Indonesia, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CNN's Brianna Keilar that what is going on in Syria is "very disturbing" and said the opposition is changing, and becoming "well armed and prepared to take action against the Syrian government."

Clinton also spoke about her upcoming trip to Burma, the first by a U.S. Secretary of State in over 50 years. The trip will present an opportunity to test recent political and economic reforms recently enacted by the military junta in the Southeast Asian nation. "How real it is, how far it goes - we will have to make sure we have a better understanding than we do right now," she said in the interview.

And as President Obama announced an agreement with the Australian government earlier this week that would eventually allow over two thousand U.S. Marines to be stationed at an Australian military base on the northern coast of the country, Clinton told CNN the Marines would not be a "hostile presence" meant to counter China.

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Filed under: Assad • Australia • China • Hillary Clinton • Indonesia • Secretary of State • Syria
DEBATE PREP: U.S. needs to lead from the front on Syria
November 18th, 2011
10:10 AM ET

DEBATE PREP: U.S. needs to lead from the front on Syria

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Security Clearance blog’s “Debate Preps” series. On November 22, CNN, along with AEI and The Heritage Foundation, will host a Republican candidate debate focused on national security topics. In the run-up to the debate, Security Clearance asked both the sponsoring conservative think tanks to look at the key foreign policy issues and tell us what they want to hear candidates address.

By AEI's Danielle Pletka, Special to CNN

It didn't take much conviction to decide Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had to go after the Egyptian military turned on him.  Ditto for Libya’s Muammar Qadhafi, once large portions of the country had freed themselves from his rule and our European allies were clamoring for military intervention.  But when the outcome is in doubt, as in Syria, Barack Obama is sitting on the fence.

Consider the stakes: Syria is Iran's most important ally. Under President Bashar al-Assad, Syria remains the patron of Hezbollah, and home to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It was the conduit by which terrorists traveled to Iraq to kill Americans.

But Assad isn't letting go easily. There are few fissures inside his regime. Ambassadors are not resigning, nor are generals defecting.  The Arab League and Turkey may chide Assad’s vicious response to his opponents, but they appear unwilling to back their rhetoric with action. FULL POST

Filed under: 2012 Election • Analysis • Arab Spring • Assad • Bachman • Cain • China • Debate Preps • Diplomacy • Foreign Policy • Gingrich • Huntsman • Iran • Iraq • Middle East • Obama • Paul • Perry • Romney • Russia • Santorum • Syria
November 18th, 2011
09:20 AM ET

Feds investigating whether Illinois "pump failure" was cyber attack

By Mike M. Ahlers

Federal officials confirmed they are investigating whether a cyber attack may have been responsible for the failure of a water pump at a public water district in Illinois last week. But they cautioned that no conclusions had been reached, and they disputed one cyber security expert's statements that other utilities are vulnerable to a similar attack.

Joe Weiss, a noted cyber security expert, disclosed the possible cyber attack on his blog Thursday. Weiss said he had obtained a state government report, dated Nov. 10 and titled "Public Water District Cyber Intrusion," which gave details of the alleged cyber attack culminating in the "burn out of a water pump."

Such an attack would be noteworthy because, while cyber attacks on businesses are commonplace, attacks that penetrate industrial control systems and intentionally destroy equipment are virtually unknown in the U.S.

According to Weiss, the report says water district workers noted "glitches" in the systems for about two months. On Nov. 8, a water district employee noticed problems with the industrial control systems, and a computer repair company checked logs and determined that the computer had been hacked. FULL POST

Filed under: Cybersecurity • Homeland Security