San Bernardino terrorist attack – ISIS terrorism comes to America

It has been nine days since the San Bernardino terrorist attacks that brought the threat of ISIS/ISIL’s radical Islamic terrorism to life in America. We decided to stand back and observe rather than post in haste and by doing so find some interesting trends that occurred after this devastating terrorist attack. We went from initial reports of three attackers, to the shifting media focus on gun (control), to the notion that this may have been a case of workplace violence. In the era of political correctness, we had to have been fed some of these trial balloons before finally getting official acknowledgement that this was likely yet another example of worldwide radical Islamic terrorism.


Map of the San Bernardino terrorist attack

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik are accused of this heinous terror act that killed 14 and injured 22 at the  Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.  They are believed to have been on their way to another target when they were intercepted by the police and killed in the ensuing gun battle.

We have learned a lot lately about Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik: he an American born of Pakistani descent and she, his wife and a legal American resident born in Pakistan. They met and were married in Saudi Arabia where they are also believed to have been radicalized. The Saudi connection seems to be a very sensitive topic in American media as no one really wants to rock any boats full of such wealthy benefactors. Pakistan is also implicated in this nasty affair as a haven for religious schools/madrassahs that promote radical Islam (some of these “schools” also operate in North America). Other questions remain. Are there any additional suspects being held in secret for this San Bernardino terrorist attacks? How were reporters allowed to rifle through the home of the terrorists days after it was a sensitive crime scene? How did they produce so many (14) pipe bombs?  Nor have we heard much about the help that Farook and Malik may have received from other accomplices in the United States.

The state of fear that has followed the San Bernardino terrorist attacks has been used by many special interest groups. Donald Trump has jumped on the bandwagon; hawks in the US Senate want to take the war to ISIS in Syria with a broad coalition of 100k soldiers; Silicon Valley is in the cross hairs of the American national security apparatus for providing “foolproof encryption”; “active shooter” is now part of the common vernacular and so on.

Terrorism is sadly a risk in these times but living in a state of fear is not the appropriate response.


Female terrorism

At least within modern history, the face of terrorism has been dominated by males. Women have been part of terrorist organizations, often in supporting roles and sometimes as direct actors when tactically prudent but the perpetrators have almost always been men (though their victims have spanned the sexes and various age groups). But the face of terrorism is changing as more women are making it to the ranks of terrorists. This has become more apparent with the tactics and success of ISIS/ISIL in bringing Muslim men and women from across the world over to the Middle East to fight in their jihad. While the profile of the typical terrorist remains the same, the question of why more women are joining terror organizations was recently tackled by Professor Mia Bloom of the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

The evolution of female terrorism

The evolution of female terrorism

“Recently, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria published videos depicting women with guns on social media. According to Bloom, this is a tactic that ISIS used to goad men into joining the fight. Women who join the fight are usually forced to go into relationships with the males.

There has been examples of using women as suicide bombers or fighters and posting videos and pictures in social media outlets. However, historically women have been a part of terrorist organizations dating back to the Irish Republican Armies and al Qaeda, according to Bloom. Terrorist organizations commit rape against women to have them join the fight because they feel they are damaged goods and they join a terrorist organization to make themselves useful.” (Cerritos College Talon Marks)


What role can militas play in bringing peace to Iraq?

Iraq has been a mess. The recent rise of ISIL in the contiguous parts of Syria and Iraq have brought the country’s capital and critical infrastructure on the verge of capture by the terrorists. Many major cities have fallen and thousands of people have been killed. The United States is hoping that they will be able to entice the many Iraqi tribes for form militias (now referred to as Civil Defense Forces) and work with the (so far very ineffective) Iraqi Army to keep ISIL/ISIS at bay. The concept of a “militia” has deep meaning in American history with the defense of the nation being put forth as their responsibility in the nation’s second amendment.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

But can this strategy work in Iraq?

Advocating for militia's in Iraq to keep the peace

Advocating for militia’s in Iraq to keep the peace

As Iraq and the United States seek to once again to partner with the tribes to dislodge ISIL, it is crucial that both learn from the mistakes of the past. The skillful employment of irregular auxiliaries will not only ensure tactical success against ISIL but could also help promote long term stability in Iraq by building habits of cooperation between Sunnis and Shia. Moreover, lessons learned from this experience could also be of tremendous value in places such as Yemen, the Egyptian Sinai and Nigeria, where state governments hold little sway and depend on local irregulars to help combat insurgents and terrorist groups. (War on the Rocks)


Can terrorists spread Ebola?

A lot has been made of the hate and vitriol that the terrorist group ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State have for everyone (but themselves). They’ve been on a murderous rampage in parts of Syria and Iraq with ongoing dreams of spreading their brand of violent Islamic terrorism across the world either by export or by radicalizing natives in those countries. So what happens when you combine the scrounge of ISIS with the other big danger being covered in the news (Ebola)? Of course there is a convergence and we end up with reports that the Islamic State is looking to somehow use Ebola as a bio-terrorism weapon in the United States. They are not likely to get access to a weaponized version of Ebola which, if it ever existed, would have been limited to the Soviet Union and maybe other military powers during the cold war.

Could they take a large amount of infected (body) fluid and somehow get it on people? Sure but that would be very cumbersome and any such hypothetical attack would have a small footprint. Terrorists could figure out a way to either smuggle or through international travel, get Ebola infected comrades into the United States or Europe. Once there these infected jihadis could try to spread the disease from person to person by physical contact. This is hard as once in the stage where Ebola is alive in the carrier and spreadable, the disease will be ravaging the human carrier and assuming it is not aerosolized, would be hard to spread. The most likely victims would have been medical personnel but one can assume that they are now on guard for Ebola cases in general. But none of these details prevent terrorists from talking about it in Internet chat rooms (sic).

Could ISIS/ISIL terrorists spread Ebola to the United States?

Could ISIS/ISIL terrorists spread Ebola to the United States?

According to Spain’s RTVE public broadcasting corporation, the interior ministry number two said there had been “many examples” of threats to use the Ebola virus and other toxins in a new form of terrorism offensive against the West, referring specifically to three recent cases.

Most recently there was the “jihadist chat room” conversation discovered in mid-September in which “the use of Ebola as a poisonous weapon against the United States” was discussed in a forum Martínez described as “linked to Isis”.

The security chief also mentioned a series of tweets from July in which, he said, the terrorist organization Ansar al-Islam was shown to be considering the use of “deadly chemical products from laboratories”. (The Local)



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.