Ebola bioterrorism hoax

The Ebola disease and bioterrorism are both serious topics. Ebola is wrecking havoc and Liberia, Sierra Leone and other West African nations with cases now being reported across the world as people travel in and out of the affected areas. Bioterrorism threats from terrorist groups is not considered to be very high on the probability scale due to the sophisticated planning and technology that may be needed but it is a very scary scenario. The consistent (initial slow) spread of Ebola and the breakdown of global medical organizations (WHO) to take necessary actions early on to stem this disease, has lead to a lot of speculation and rumors about Ebola. A scary thought for the most rational of people, and easy fodder for those that do not trust the alleged (government) perpetrators.

Ebola conspiracy theories and rumours abound, including those of bioterrorism

Ebola conspiracy theories and rumors abound, including those of bioterrorism

“Another conspiracy theory, which is doing the rounds in the United States, is that the whole Ebola scare is a CDC cover-up over its MMR vaccine, which causes autism…

Spreading the seeds of mistrust, Daily Observer, a major Liberian newspaper, carried an article by a Liberian born faculty member of a US university, implying that the Ebola epidemic is the result of bioterrorism experiments, conducted by the United States Department of Defense.”



Is Pakistan sliding towards extremism?

A plausible retort may well be, “It has been sliding in that direction for years, maybe decades”. Former Pakistani politician and scholar Farahnaz Ispahani and Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom provide a view of the Pakistani state and the interwoven hand of Islamist ideology spreading extremism throughout society.

Two scholars write about Pakistan's continued slide towards extremism for CNN

Writing for CNN, two scholars document Pakistan’s continued slide towards extremism

The reality is that Pakistan is facing a serious problem, with the mushrooming of Islamist appeal within Pakistani society reminding us that we risk seeing the Talibanization not simply of a small minority of ordinary citizens, but large swathes of the populace of the world’s second largest – and only nuclear-armed – Muslim country…

State laws and practices relating to Islamic blasphemy, in particular, are increasingly suppressing moderate voices, while allowing extremists to dominate cultural discourse and learning. As a result, extremism is making ideological inroads into wider and wider segments of the population.

With the “War on Terror” now shifting its focus away from Pakistan’s backyard to the Islamic State in Syria/Iraq and the upsurge of political wranglings in Pakistan, many experts have already predicted that the Pakistani state will go back to the tried and true tactic of revving up its subversive activities against India.



Canadians next to give up some liberties, for a bit more security?

The burgeoning threat from the Islamic State (IS/ISIS/ISIL) has resulted in new and proposed laws along with procedures and heightened security measures being enacted in Great Britain and Australia. It is being reported that Canada’s security complex may soon be getting some additional capabilities after raising concerns, that they were denied the ability to spy on Canadians suspected to have joined terrorist and extremist causes abroad. Proposed legal amendments will allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to expand its surveillance powers and share information with allies, which we assume refers to the “Five Eyes” (Canada, United States, Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand).

Canadian spy agency is expected to get more powers

Canadian spy agency is expected to get more powers

Observers say amendments will have to be carefully crafted given that Parliament’s authority goes only as far as the borders. Most countries pass laws to cover their domestic spy agencies, but few related to foreign-focused espionage.

Yet the explosion of Internet and spying technologies now allows intelligence operatives in Ottawa to monitor international communications, a practice that blurs the lines between foreign and domestic surveillance.

Just as police need warrants to conduct searches, CSIS must get permission from judges to spy on people in Canada. In 2009, Federal Judge Richard Mosley granted the first warrant for the agency to track Canadian terrorism suspects abroad.

It will be interesting to see how this issue is debated within the Canadian parliament.



The persistent Salafi Jihadist threat

The RAND Corporation’s National Defense Research Institute prepared a study on the evolution of Al Qaida and other Salafist jihadist organizations for the Office of the US Secretary of Defense. Written by Seth Jones, this paper was released in June of this year and pointed out an increase in Salafi-Jihadist groups, recruitment, attacks and their spread throughout various parts of the world.

RAND study looks at the threat of Salafist terrorism

RAND study looks at the threat of Salafist terrorism

This research examines the evolution of al Qa’ida and other Salafi jihadist groups, as well as implications for U.S. policy.

The number of Salafi-jihadist groups and fighters increased after 2010, as well as the number of attacks perpetrated by al Qa’ida and its affiliates.

Examples include groups operating in Tunisia, Algeria, Mali, Libya, Egypt (including the Sinai Peninsula), Lebanon, and Syria.

These trends suggest that the United States needs to remain focused on countering the proliferation of Salafi-jihadist groups, which have started to resurge in North Africa and the Middle East, despite the temptations to shift attention and resources to the strategic “re-balance” to the Asia-Pacific region and to significantly decrease counter-terrorism budgets in an era of fiscal constraint.


China’s simmering Uighur problem

China’s western most Xinjiang province is the gateway to the new Silk Road and is also believed to be rich in many natural resources. With sustained migration from other parts of China and the stationing of People’s Liberation Army troops, the previous majority of Uighur Turkic who follow the Islamic religion, are now believed to be a minority. There is a pretty long history of unrest in the region as the central government has tried to consolidate its control over this vast region. Uighur terrorists have struck at both home (within Xinjiang) and other parts of China (including Tiananmen Square in Beijing) with increasing ferocity. The response from the Chinese government has typically been brutal and swift with tight controls on what information it lets out.

China deals with terrorism stemming from its Xinjiang province

China deals with terrorism stemming from its Xinjiang province

A mastermind of violence in China’s Xinjiang region in which almost 100 people were killed sought to establish an Islamic state, official media said on Wednesday, reinforcing government warnings about an Islamist threat.

A court in the far western region sentenced 12 people to death on Monday for an attack in Xinjiang’s southern Yarkant county on July 28, in which the government said 59 “terrorists” were gunned down by security forces, while 37 civilians were killed.

The incident was one of the bloodiest bouts of unrest in the region that has seen hundreds of people killed in the past two years, most in clashes between ethnic Uighur Muslim people, who call Xinjiang home, and ethnic majority Han Chinese.