Thursday, July 14, 2011

India/Pakistan: Watch and wait...

Mumbai blasted again, the usual suspects across the border, angry words and urgent investigations - so far, so much the same? But the big difference this time will come in the aftermath.

In 2008, Indians raged, but America placated, cajoled, threatened. The war in AfPak against AQ and the Taliban was too important to the Whitehouse to have it derailed by an Indo-Pak skirmish. But right here, right now, barely weeks after the USA's own intervention against a terrorist enemy securely hunkered down in Pakistan's heartland, who in New Delhi will listen to anything Washington may have to say?

Also in 2008, Pakistan was itself stronger, Musharraf was recently gone amidst the stirrings of a "new democracy", but the Army still confidently dominated, terrorism was a problem, but kept within boundaries, bubbling beneath the surface. No more. Pakistan is weakened, morally and physically, pressed from without and from within. And India has risen further, faster, over the intervening years, outstripping its Muslim neighbour economically, politically and militarily.

The generals in Delhi are now the focus. Behind closed doors, their ruminations on retaliation, 'surgical strikes' against terrorist training camps, air and missile attacks and so forth, could affect us all. These are two nuclear-armed rivals, and the potential trigger for a mistaken conflict could be a matter of weeks or days away.

The US must now consider what it can do, in the event of an understandable Indian strike, to mitigate the possibility of escalation. Hot heads in Islamabad will seek an 'eye for an eye', minds closed to the idea that their failings led to this situation. Their air force is capable, albeit smaller than India's, but with F-16s and motivated aircrew, a retaliatory strike is a distinct possibility. And thereafter, no way to stop the tit-for-tat advance to larger scale operations. Mobilisation of both armies, deploying to the border as happened in the Kargil War would open the door to teh possibility of mis-steps once imagined in Cold War central Europe. Where once the war machine has started to move, its momentum is difficult to halt.

These are dangerous times, and the MSM are (as usual) behind the curve.

Watch and wait...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

RAND: the decline of a giant...

Last month RAND dented the huge amount of confidence that many reaearchers around the world place in them. How? By publishing this: - an appalling, slanted, ill-informed, superficial examination of aviation security since 9/11.

More detail? Certainly...
In the opening section the author observes, somewhat emotively, that the possibility exists of potential theft of personal belongings screened by X-ray in US airports. This red herring can be – and is, in a great many airports in the developed world - easily mitigated by the presence of judiciously placed CCTV cameras, and by effective supervision of carefully-vetted staff. Indeed, the vetting (i.e. background checking, including criminal record and counter-terrorist checking) of security staff is a cornerstone of aviation security in a great many countries, both developed and developing, around the world.

The next (melo-) dramatic criticism from the author concerns possible personal privacy effects from the potential for storage of images from ‘WBI’ (aka Advanced Imaging Technology or ‘bodyscanners’). This straw man is also easily dispatched by the relevant authorities simply making a policy decision to not store such imagery, and then implementing the policy and publicising it to the travelling public (as has already occurred in other developed countries).

On page 3, the author briefly describes the failure to identify and stop Abdulmutallab, the ‘Underpants Bomber’ but then instantly – and incongruously - maintains that immigration and related processes make a “strong contribution” to security. On what basis is this assertion made? Clearly not from Abdulmutallab’s case! Where is the evidence that any terrorists (or other threat persons) have been prevented from flying by these types of measures?

On page 4, the author hypes up the drama quotient when referring to the “high level of suspicion” with which US passengers are currently treated. He does, for reasons unknown, fail to provide context in that around the world visitors to secure high-profile buildings, such as a parliament (or the US Capitol) are routinely subjected to near-identical processes. (Not to mention: military bases, FBI headquarters, the Empire State building, etc., etc. – the list is long. Indeed most “potential terrorist targets”, other than open public spaces, require security screening in order to gain access.).

On cargo security, he then opines that the US’ aim is to ‘inspect a significant fraction’ of air cargo - as if this would somehow be a worthy achievement. Strangely ignoring the fact that many other developed countries have (for many years) operated 100% secured [but note, not 100% screened] cargo systems, and that internationally the US is widely regarded as the poor relation in its ineffective protection of air-flown cargo.

In setting up his - by now overtly political - argument, he further goes on to give the example of the lack of screening of US airport security staff, (to use as support for a subsequent proposal for weakening passenger screening). Again, he conveniently ignores the reality that - similar to the above cargo issue - in its abject failure to screen airport security staff, the US is very much seen within the developed world as a substandard exception. One fundamental principle of protective security is ‘sterilising’ an area (of threat items) around that which is being protected, and then keeping it sterile. The US’ inability to do this - despite suffering the world’s greatest aviation terror act - is mystifying to the international security community.

[And given the incidence of violent crime and the – correlating, but possibly not causal - high levels of firearms ownership and abuse, it is curious that screening of airport staff has not been implemented regardless of the existence of terrorism.]

In subsequent paragraphs, the author goes on to claim (with no supporting evidence presented) that already ‘we know enough about many passengers’ such that they can be trusted to a greater degree than hitherto has occurred. This line of reasoning completely ignores the threats posed by dupes, later radicalisation or coercion (see below).

The bald (and bold) assertion that “there is very little reason to be concerned about suicide bombers being present on flights originating in the United States” demands the retort: “Do you mean in the same way that there was little reason to be concerned about suicidal hijackers on 10 September 2001?”.

That the author then feels able to go on and emphasise that there have been no attempted suicide attacks in the US since 9/11, suggests a reading by him of the book Black Swan would be apposite [and no, not the one made into a Natalie Portman ballet movie, but Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007), The Black Swan].

The later sentence: “the complete absence of such attacks originating on US soil … is clear testimony to the low risk among the domestic population” is, as many high school students could tell you, a huge unsubstantiated assumption, and not a valid argument.

Then he makes the suggestion that air travellers within the US could have a lower level of security applied to them than those arriving from abroad. Those with even passing acquaintance with the porous nature of both southern and northern borders of the Continental US may – justifiably - feel that this fantasy is hard to swallow without substantial supporting evidence. It would also be true to say that basing one’s protection of airports and airlines – or indeed anything else - on a much larger perceived ‘secure’ zone containing 300 million-plus people outside the airport perimeter is not a recognised security strategy.

Next, given that 9/11 is fundamental to this paper’s theme, the author’s apparent inability to recollect that all 4 ill-fated flights were domestic US services seems downright perverse.

A suggestion is then made that domestic flights could in future be protected largely by baggage X-rays and walkthrough metal detectors - completely overlooking the fact that neither of these technologies would have detected Abdulmutallab’s ‘underpants’ bomb (or any similar devices). No mention is made of glass-fibre, ceramic or plastic bladed weapons, fake plastic guns (still a huge potential problem at 30,000 feet), pepper sprays, and - rather more significantly - the vast majority of military, commercial and homemade explosives, that airport metal detectors have absolutely no ability to detect or otherwise mitigate.

Also, the author seems not to appreciate that homemade explosives – recipes for which, we know from excitable articles in the mainstream media, can be found on the internet – are at least as easy to make in the US as elsewhere.

The Abdulmutallab case is raised yet again, and the claim made that he “should have been” subject to greater security measures. Readers of an analytical bent may feel that the more salient point is that he was not, and that consequently the benefits of multiple layers of security appear not only wise, but essential.

The paper then proceeds to outline how many persons in the US have government security clearance, as precursor for a line of argument that these types of passengers are already inherently secure and need little checking by airport security. The contextual information on what proportion of the total number of flyers in the US these people represent is notable by its absence. Also ‘missing in action’ are any mention of the rates of criminality, suicidal tendencies, or other aspects of personal behaviour within that ‘more secure’ constituency that could endanger a passenger aircraft or an airport. (Comparative stats on criminality in other ‘secure communities’, such as law-enforcement officers, prison officers, etc. might add some – or indeed any – weight to this particular hypothesis.)

Following the bullet-pointed paragraphs outlining potential frequent-flyer/secure traveller schemes, nothing whatsoever is said by the author about how the threats of dupes , subsequent radicalisation or coercion amongst the membership of these schemes might be mitigated.

Anne-Marie Murphy, the unknowing almost-bomber of an El Al flight from London’s Heathrow in April 1986 is the foremost example a dupe. Major Hassan’s rampage at Fort Hood is but one tragic example of subsequent radicalisation, and, Tiger Kidnapping of, e.g. bank employees is a global phenomenon, whereby a bank executive and family members are kidnapped, often at night, and the executive then, directly or indirectly, assists in the robbery of their own bank in order to save the lives of their families. More pertinently, the commonly accepted explanation for a Customs Officer loading an IED on to a Sri Lankan airliner in 1986, resulting in its destruction, is that (1) his family had been threatened, and (2) he did not know what was in the package.

Further missing from the paper – bearing in mind that the author’s chosen title contains the word ‘security’, with no reference to terrorism - is any mention of non-terrorist threats. Whilst terrorist acts against aviation have – perhaps superficially - preoccupied the popular press since 9/11, these other threat-types have not disappeared. For affected passengers, the particular characteristics of an individual’s motivation in putting them at mortal risk would, one suspects, be of little interest.

You will have gathered by now that I am enormously disappointed in this article. Had it been submitted as a school or college essay, then return to author with much red pen and a concomitant low marking would be the inevitable result. All in all, it appears to be a piece more likely to be found in online fora, or in a lesser quality newspaper, than in any way connected with RAND. The mere possibility of this being published by RAND within their 9/11 tenth-anniversary publication is, to me, simply shocking. (And would, I believe, constitute a serious reputational risk for RAND.)

The author patently knows little of aviation security, other than what may be gleaned from the mainstream media, (or from less-reputable, highly politicised blogs) and appears to know even less about research, how to competently construct an argument or the value of evidence in supporting same.

The clearly political slant of the piece, reflecting as it does recent debate in the mainstream media in the US, is beyond my ken. However, what is abundantly clear is that “the business of America is business” and anything, including the security and well-being of the citizenry, can be, in the eyes of certain US media commentators, subsidiary to commerce and the pursuit of profit.

Following this, I shall look anew at the (great many) RAND articles that I had previously enjoyed over many years and had perceived as well constructed, ethically sound, politically impartial and scrupulously researched reporting.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why have Americans turned wimpish on aviation security?

So, let’s look at recent events in US aviation security. We’ve got the whiny little girls – sorry, I mean big bold manly pilots - who don’t like to be searched. But we’ll come to them in a moment. First, let’s think about bombs in printer cartridges. Remember them? Yemen, Dubai, England, UPS, computer printers with plastic explosives wired up to cellphones – got it ? Novel? Yup, sort of. Dangerous? Maybe. Anyhow, when we had bombs in big shoes, did anyone, anywhere, feel the need to ban big shoes? No, of course not, that would be silly. And when we’ve had bombs in luggage in the past, have we banned suitcases? No, of course not, that would be moronic. So WTF is going on when TSA (and other, equally stupid countries – the Brits for example) ban the container the device was hidden in? Sheesh - and then they wonder why we doubt their intelligence.

Okay, let’s get to the girlies. It seems that macho pilot types are really rather nervous and shy and the thought of someone of the same gender actually touching them, in order to carry out a perfectly reasonable search, is all too much for their fragile – but gigantic - egos. And, like so many other groups – Customs, Law Enforcement, Frequent Fliers, minor politicians, a variety of religious nutjobs – they feel that they are a special case, should be regarded as above suspicion, and in most every way are far superior to everyone else on the plane. (Did I mention the gigantic egos in play here?).

Seems like they’ve never heard of robberies – never mind terror attacks – where, hey, the perpetrators used innocent dupes, sometimes by guile and sometimes by sticking a large handgun in the face of the dupes’ loved ones. This latter case is known as Tiger Kidnapping and happens frequently enough that any half-decent law enforcement officer (and that would be most of them: half-decent...) will have come across a case. Typically they turn up at the bank manager’s house at night, take the family hostage, then send the banker to the office the next day, to either rob the place on their behalf or to facilitate one or more gang members robbing the place. And all the time, the ‘Mad Dog’ gang member has your wife (or husband) and the kids at the end of their gun barrel.

So, turns out those ‘idiots’ at TSA are actually protecting the families of US flight crew from such horrors, whilst the pilots themselves whinge and whine, trying desperately to paint big targets on themselves and their families.

One of the biggest – and most potent – criticisms of the ‘fast track’ schemes for airport security seen over the last few years has been exactly this point: if you give someone - anyone - special access, then terrorists (half-decent ones anyways) will seek to exploit them. So, incidentally, why don’t we search the staff – including security staff – at airports? Are they so above suspicion, so guaranteed to never get in trouble, never be targeted, that they can have free access to secure zones in our airports every day, ever year for as long as they work there?

Ignore the nonsense on this issue in the mainstream media – and there are now many thousands of words on these topics, mainly driven by pilot unions and anyone with a grudge against the TSA – and try something different: think for yourself. It’s not that hard, honest.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

And another thing...

In the previously mentioned blog, it states "a determined terrorist enemy loves nothing better than to see his operatives handled like civilian criminals". Remember my comment on stupidity ? Well, double it.

AQ and other groups hate being seen as common criminals - they crave more than almost anything to be seen as warriors, fighting jihad in the manner of their forefathers, brave soldiers facing the infidel hordes. And the previous dumb sob in the White House handed them that recognition on a plate: 'you are all enemy combatants, with a new unique status, and not at all like drug dealers, perverts and rapists'. (and they got a rather natty orange jumpsuit as a free uniform).

Dear God, please shine a little of your light on those who claim to have you in the centre of their lives and outlook.

There is an actual serious point: no matter your views (if you are a well-adjusted person) you might feel that if you'd grown up, say, in Palestine, you might just be tempted to pick up a rock, petrol bomb or gun and have at the Israelis - and similarly for the cliched young, Muslim, 2nd-generation immigrant lost in an infidel land looking for an identity, a noble cause, a chance to be a man.

But Islam, like all the big religions, has a real down on crime. So, if the local bandit/guerilla/freedom fighter heroes are actually seen by polite society in your neighbourhood as more akin to the crims I mentioned above - then do you think it might be less likely you'd join them, or more likely?

Hmm, I think we know the answer...

There, that's it - now take a rest, you've just been using a part of your body that hasn't had much exercise lately (once the headache wears off, trying looking at Fox news with a new perspective... and keep that brain active, or today's gains will soon be lost).

okay, that's enough - go back to hot air little dawgie. The rest of you, thanks for bearing with me :-)

Right-wingers and stupidity go together like... hot dogs and mustard?

What is it with right-wingers in the US, are they born stupid, or it gets handed out when they sign-up for that smart black uniform and those gucci leather boots ?

Phew, sorry bout that. See to get an idea of why I'm so angry. The blog is nothing special (hot air sums it up entirely), in that it is typical of much right-wing ranting (okay, okay I can talk...) since Ft Hood.

Let me help out the hard of thinking (and God knows there are a great many of them).

If you label, officially, Hasan's murderous rampage as terrorism, then how do you objectively distinguish that from the many (too many) other nut-jobs going postal across the fair land ? And not, "Well Bubba, ah knows terrorism when ah sees it.." - but real, hard-nosed, legal, intelligent, objective analysis.

Get it yet ? The answer is almost certainly, that it can't be done. So if Ft Hood is terror, then how many of those other attacks would then fall under that same heading? (Is the penny finally dropping?)

And the good ol US of A instantly becomes - officially, legally - "the most terror-ridden country on the planet". And would that be good for business, do you think, Mr T Party?

So, rather than cowards, the Washington politicos are simply smart, and do not want the country's image dragged through the mud (or the level of endemic violence highlighted any more than it already is).

But of course they're smart: they are running the country, whilst the hard-of-thinking whine and whine online, and on air, and on Fox... To blacken the nation's reputation around the globe.

(Yup, it took a little anger to get me back to this blog...)


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fort Hood

The Perspectives on Terrorism site
has a new article, with some relevance to the tragedy in Texas: Revisiting the Contagion Hypothesis: Terrorism, News Coverage, and Copycat Attacks, by Brigitte L Nacos.

Hwoever, the author seems a little confused -
much of what she says makes sense, but I disagree strongly with the view that: "The adoption of effective terrorist tactics, however, does not cause terrorism per se because those tactics are imitated or adapted by organizations that already exist and have embraced terrorism.". Nacos reinforces her point by quoting from Mark Sedgwick (‘Inspiration and the Origins of Global Waves of Terrorism.’) - "A particular terrorist technique is only of interest to a group that has already made the decision to adopt a terrorist strategy; a technique cannot on its own cause a resort to terrorism.".

Well.. whilst that may generally be true, it seems to me that at the lower end of the attack-complexity scale, it is fundamentally flawed. The Fort Hood attack seems capable of lowering the threshold for political violence of disaffected - but thus far unengaged - Muslims in America. By demonstrating what can be achieved with only two handguns, and by his personal example, Hasan will have had a considerable - and unpredictable - impact on Muslims in the US and, of course, further afield. I will be extremely surprised if we do not see further 'lone wolf' (or small group) attacks inspired by Major Hasan's action within, say, the next 6 months.

At the upper end of complexity - IED's, missiles, etc. - then someone who is already a terrorist would naturally find it easier to learn from others' operations and adopt their techniques, and, equally, an uninvolved person would find the 'barriers to market-entry' fairly difficult to overcome. However, there will always be individuals who, due to their history (police, military, civilian explosives user ?) would find it much easier to cross that threshold. For that reason, I believe Nacos' premise, whilst broadly reflecting the majority of cases, is certainly not a definitive description of every situation.

And it seems rather odd that Nacos spends much of her time presenting evidence of previously non-violent parties being inspired to violence (e.g. Timothy McVeigh,Seung-hui Cho), and then, somehow, reaching the above contradictory conclusion.

Proof of her muddled analysis will , alas, come with the next "Fort Hood"-style attack.


Leaderless Jihad - again

(Yup, should have posted thsi months ago)

I admire Mr Sageman's research on known AQ operators, and the information he has gathered on those. The book covers areas that other experts haven't touched.

He clearly writes very much for an American audience, (e.g. referring to the little-known “Abraham Lincoln Brigade” in the Spanish Civil War, rather than “the International Brigades”), and this may help explain his odd views – cheerleading for the American Dream - on Islamic experience in the US and Europe (see my earlier comment on this book).

So, good on basics, less so in analysis, and, there is an obvious lack of knowledge of terrorism, even of the better known events. The US Embassy bombings in E Africa took place in 1998, the Beslan school atrocity occurred in 2004, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the French Embassy (!) that was suicide-bombed in Beirut in 1983…

(Digression: it was of course the US Embassy that was blown up in Beirut – and not once, but twice, albeit in 2 different locations). [Does anyone know who was in charge of security at the time of the second attack? And what happened to them subsequently ? Just curious...]

The book is certainly of interest for those seeking understanding of AQ terrorism - but only if you take some of his statements with a pinch of salt…

Since reading this I have also purchased his earlier work on Understanding Terror Networks, [so even though I may not be his biggest fan, I am helping to pay his bills :-) ] which is a much simpler and more straightforward explanatory text, with less imposition of his own deductions and analysis (and all the better for that ?). That said, being published in 2004 it’s fairly old hat now and possibly wouldn’t add a great deal to your understanding of AQ or other groups.

Of course, the recent Ft Hood attack and the lengthening list of small-scale attacks within the US do rather undermine his position on Mulsim immigrants 'successful integration'.

Back on point...

Well, where to start ? Been offline for too long.

the Indonesians did get the Top man - and quite a few others - eventually, (tho' we still wait to hear what his laptop really had on it).

And then there was Fort Hood, ("terrorism" or not - and does it matter ?). Now waiting for the copycats - has it impacted other disaffected US-resident Muslims ? Will they see the example as worthy of emulation ? And if they do, can a number of small-scale (low casualty) attacks affect the US psyche anywhere near as much as 9/11 ?

1st Anniversary of Mumbai of course - still waiting for another big hotel attack, following the Jakarta bombings (if it works, they'll keep doing it, and copying it).

Loads of other stuff (US military personnel killed in Philippines - Seabees, allegedly - hmm...), so let's get on with it.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

AQ’s Future – Part 2: Characteristics of 'homegrown' cells

I commented recently on a book concerning itself with home-grown terror cells (Leaderless Jihad), and have been thinking a little more about that concept. Here’s a view from this layman:

These independent, ‘self-radicalised’ offshoots of AQ can be expected to have some interesting defining characteristics.

Without necessarily having direct contact with the AQ “higher command” they are still influenced – perhaps “strategically and ideologically-guided” might better describe it - by AQ’s centre. Or, more accurately, by what they can discern from the centre – whether through the media, jihadist websites, underground DVDs, or even the latest rumour at the mosque or other meeting place.

Importantly however, we note that they are not directly commanded or controlled.
Developing that further, they are completely free to launch entirely autonomous operations. Free to set their own pace, and control all aspects of attacks. Factors such as: targeting, timing, logistics, resources, etc. are all directly in the hands of the devolved unit.

That said, they would seem likely to be influenced by the centre when making their choices. Targeting is probably the most interesting factor in an attack [well, until we see the first nuke I guess]. Looking - and I confess my lack of research here - at the targets of the homeboys over recent years, there are no great surprises: ground transportation, hotels, military bases (Fort Dix, the planned Australian army barracks, etc.), airports/airlines, and soft targets – large groups people, etc., etc. Just as if they’d selected them straight from the Jihadists’ Big Book Of Tactical Plays.

The range of weaponry open to these units is, naturally, potentially huge. From all of the conventional, historically-used ones, (small-arms, IEDs, suicide IEDs, heavier weapons – mortars, missiles, etc.) plus the misuse potential of a plethora of everyday civilian technologies: from crashing a school bus, to sabotaging the reactor of a nuclear power station.

The autonomy of the unit results in very limited communications with existing AQ and related structures (perhaps none). Limited in all facets: a restricted communication capability, a restricted need for communication and - significantly – restricted in the quantity of communications.

In terms of their personnel selection, the unit has many possibilities. Teams of different sizes, or even individuals, of varying racial and ethnic profiles and backgrounds.

Linked to the composition of the team, is its leadership. Simply thinking "I’m going to start my own cell” may be the only relevant qualification for command. Those who do lead home-grown units will be of unpredictable experience and have had a range of training, from those who have perhaps have undergone national military service somewhere, to those whose only preparation has been on their X-Box.

Financing of terrorists has been a major focus for the West for many years, and that would certainly be affected by the circumstances of a home-grown operation. Again, there is a wide potential spectrum, dependent on the individuals in the unit and who or what they have access to. But a reasonable presumption would be that the higher-value category of potential operations are less likely to be undertaken by them.

Having considered these characteristics, what might they mean for us – for Western counter-terrorism?

On influence/direction from AQ central: home-grown units may rely predominantly on open-source material for strategic guidance. This could be of great benefit to CT analysts in predicting their actions, as they have the same set of sources available to them. And this increases our chances in protecting (the correct) potential targets.

On autonomy, and the lack of central command and control: no orders from above of course mean none for the Western agencies’ superior technology to intercept. That could imply that ‘top-down’ pursuit will be almost impossible. To compensate, security forces could ‘flood’ the potential extremist population with informants – willing or unwilling – to try and make up for the deficit.

On targeting strategies, and weapons of choice: one recent example may be the bulldozer attacks in Israel, by individual Palestinians. But it could be insider sabotage of, well, just about anything: nuclear power station at the top-end, to cutting the brake-cable on the school bus at the other.

No weapons to acquire, no smuggling, no training requirement – using the everyday has many advantages for small-scale operations. From the CT perspective, however, the established tactic of tracking or disrupting supply of conventional (or even CBRN) weapons will now no longer be enough. The range of unconventional weapons is too great. Personnel are the sole underpinning requirement for these types of small-scale operations, and security forces must focus more strongly on them.

On lack of communications to identify and track down: home-grown AQ will need to be pro-actively found, before they can be pursued and dealt with. The long-standing reality whereby we rely on investigations of other network branches to reveal hidden cells simply will not happen.

On personnel issues and team constituents: a reasonable assumption may be that larger teams tend to result in poorer operational security. Another working assumption could be the probable correlation between larger attack teams and more spectacular attacks [9/11 and Mumbai being the most obvious two]. Consequently, therefore, smaller and more tightly controlled home-grown units would result in a prevalence of smaller attacks. Additionally, without security breaches to give them away, such attacks may more often be successfully initiated.

On limited funding for home-grown ops: this could likely to lead to a prevalence of low-cost attacks, which, of necessity, may steer their planners towards the types of unconventional attacks discussed above. And which we’ve already realised would be more difficult to detect and interdict.

On variable quality leadership for home-grown units: if they do have poor leaders, that could benefit the security forces, and maybe some thought can be applied by our agencies to the errors these leaders might make (especially in the planning and preparation stages). Again this brings us back to a focus on the personnel: CT bodies must increase efforts to identify and monitor experienced/trained terrorists before they put together one of these units – and that use of limited government resources might reap great benefits.

That’s enough from me for now.

Top still missing

Oh well, Noordin Mohammed Top was not tracked down - yet - by Indonesian police and intel. But they are on the case, are disrupting his operations and are gathering more intelligence.

Fingers crossed for the next time. And still waiting to hear more about such plans as may have been uncovered by these recent events.