On November 8, 2013, the Hellenic Coast Guard detained the cargo ship Nour M sailing under the flag of Sierra Leone in the Aegean Sea. The reason for the detention was the information that the ship was carrying 20,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and explosives in 59 freight containers without proper documents.
It is reported that the ship departed from the portof Oktjabrsk (Ukraine) on October 25.According to the ship’s captain, Hüseyin Yilmaz, its final port of destination was the port of Tripoli (Lebanon), and the cargo was intended for the Libyan Ministry of Defence.
On September 7 this year, The Washington Post published an article which stated that Rosoboronexport, Russian agency, uses the port of Oktjabrsk for the supply of arms toSyria and Venezuela. This assumption is supported by the data of March 20-27, 2012 on the delivery of Russian arms (SA-10 Grumble and SA-17 Grizzly surface-to-air missile systems, Smerch multiple rocket launchers and SSC-6 Sennight mobile coastal defence missile systems) by Ocean Voyager and Ocean Fortune ships to Venezuela. Both ships belonged to Kaalbye Shipping International, which is a partner of Rosoboronexport. This company is mentioned in the report of Mike Rogers (Michigan politician, member of the Republican Party), the Chairman of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,as involved in the supplyof Russian arms to Syria.
Reports of the independent research carried out by C4ADS indicate that the port in Mykolaiv Oblasthas become one of the key transit points for the supply of Russian arms to troubled areas of the world.According to the analysts of C4ADS, ships that sail under the flags of Syria and Lebanon are used to smuggle weapons to Syria. Several Syrian cargo ships made more than ten sailings between the port of Oktjabrsk and one of the three major ports of Syria (Latakia, Tartus, which is home to a Russian naval facility, and Baniyas) during the period from January 2012 to mid-2013, although there are no reliable evidence of the presence of weapons on board.
After the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 2011, Russia has continued to comply with the terms of the previously signed arms contracts, includingones for the supplyof various types of weapons, and abstained from signing the treaty on the arms trade in April 2013. Russian Foreign Ministry insists that the country supplies to Syria exclusively defensive weapons, and, in response to the criticism fromthe United States, pointed out that the supply of SA-10 Grumble air defence systemsis a deterrent that preventsoutside interference into the situation inside the country.
Thus, there is evidence that the Russian Federation supplies arms to Syria,including through the Ukrainian port of Oktjabrsk.
Some sources claim that the detention of the vessel indicates that somebody had given a tip-off about its cargo to the Greek authorities.
After the detention of the vessel by the Hellenic Coast Guard, foreign media have actively supported the hypothesis that the vessel was bound for a Turkish port on the border with Syria, or for a port in Syria. The first were the news agencies of Greece (ANA) and Lebanon (Al-Sharq al-Jadid).The Athenian news agency stated that the final destination was set as Tartus (Syria) in the maritime transport system, which is contrary to the documents carried by the vessel, and to open information databases. Moreover, the information systems, which the Greek media cite, warn that their data are not official, and cannot be used for commercial or navigation purposes, and thus may be inaccurate or erroneous.
In addition, the ship’s captain provided the Greek authorities with the documents thatshowed that the cargo was supplied in accordance with the FOB terms, which means that itceased to be Ukrainian immediately after leaving the port.
The end-user certificates issued by the Ministry of Defence of Libya were attached to the documents, which would ab initio eliminate any questions regarding the destination country.
However, the supply of arms to Libya from Ukraine is contrary to the interests of the Kremlin in the region. On September 2, 2013, Sergey Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, said that the illegal flow of small arms into the hot spots in the Middle East from Libya was reported, and 12 countries are involved. However, on September 10, 2013, Sergey Lavrov said that Russia intends to actively cooperate with Libya in the supply of arms, training of personnel and protection of its borders. ‘We see good prospects in developing military and technical co-operation, including supply of arms and necessary equipment, as well as training of personnel for the Libyan army and police.We have also discussed possible projects that will help our Libyan friends to strengthen border security,’ he said after meeting his Libyan counterpart, Mohamed Abdelaziz. So, the Libyan arms market is returning to the area of interest of the Kremlin, which will try to squeeze competitors out of the market.
It should be noted that the detention of the vessel by the Hellenic Coast Guard coincided with the following events:
1. Visit of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych to the Russian Federation.
2. Signing of the European Union Association Agreement in Vilnius on November 28.
3. Transfer of first five T-84 Oplot main battle tanks to the Royal Thai Army, and success of the delegation of Ukroboronpromin promotion of its production in Uruguay (late October 2013).
This may indicate that the staged arms smuggling into the conflict zonecould be part of a planned action against Ukraine,and could be aimed at discrediting the nation’s leadership, and the state as an active participant in the global arms market, forming an unfavourable international image to prevent the signing of the European Union Association Agreement.
So today there are three versions of the scandal’s causes:
Version No. 1. The events involving the Nour M vessel may be indicative of a special operation against Ukraine to cover a large supply of weapons from Russia to Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria diverting the world’s attentionon the legitimate cargointended for the Government of Libya. According to our estimates, at the time of transportation of the cargo by the Nour M vessel, the Kremlin could ship large quantities of weapons to the official Damascus, and the detention of the Nour M vessel by the Hellenic Coast Guard and the subsequent scandal were aimed to divert attention from that.
So, Moscow, accused of supplying weapons to Syria,is interested in linking the port of Oktjabrsk to the supply of Ukrainian weapons and distancing from the logistics arrangement that uses this port.In addition, the scandal with an accusation of Ukraine of supplying weapons to the area of civil war in Syria would allow to withdraw or to question the similar accusations brought earlier against the Kremlin. Also, such action would undermine the position of Ukraine on the world arms market, disrupt the planned contracts, and squeeze Ukrainian exporters out of the markets where Russia has interest.
Version No. 2. The cargo from Ukraine can be labelled as intended for the Syrian rebels (for instance, Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda associate),which will allow the Kremlin to maintain its position on the supply of arms to Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Version No. 3.Defamation of Ukraine before the third Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. Although the vessel was detained on November 8, the opening of containers did not begin until November 11. If the investigation continues at such pace, it can drag on until the Summit in Vilnius. Launching a media campaign to accuse Ukraine of illegal arms sales is also possible.
There is a high probability that the situation surrounding the detention of Nour M is the solution of several problemsand the above versions are interrelated. The effectiveness of using arms scandals to influence the geopolitical and domestic political landscapes, and to drive the competition out of the arms market was demonstrated at the beginning of thenoughtiesduring the notorious ‘Kolchuga (an ESM system) scandal’. Given the extremely tense situationaround Ukraine, the instigators of the scandalmay pursue not one but several goals. If it is true, a large-scale campaign to discredit Ukraine using special methods lies ahead.
Where does allegiance lie?
Dongfan “Greg” Chung who is a native of China and a naturalized U.S. Citizen had “secret” security clearance while working with Rockwell and Boeing Corporations on the Space Shuttle project. He had retired in 2002 but returned a year later as a contractor until fall 2006. The government proved Chung committed espionage by taking and concealing Boeing secrets regarding the Delta IV rocket and also the Space Shuttle. He did this for the People’s Republic of China. He was convicted on charges of acting as an agent of the PRC as well as economic espionage.
The investigation of a different engineer working within the U.S is what led to Chung’s investigation and resulting conviction. He was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.
The Chinese had sent letters requesting information as far back as 1979. In correspondence with the PRC Chung expressed his wishes to help the PRC modernize. He also sent 24 manuals related to the important B-1 Bomberfrom Rockwell Corporation which was very damaging.
Travel trips to the People’s Republic of China occurred on multiple occasions to lecture but he also met with government officials. In letters from his handlers they use his wife Rebecca and Chi Mak to transmit information. In the fall of 2006 FBI and NASA agents searched his home and discovered more than 250,000 documents from Boeing, Rockwell and others which were secret.
The Shuttle Drawing System or “SDS” that Rockwell and Boeing engineers created held information regarding performing processes regarding the Space Shuttle. The engineers need a password and authorization to be able to access this system and files. This is a clear case that defensive counterintelligence measures could have prevented printing, concealment and removal of documents from the workplace. One great example of offensive counterespionage was the search of Chung’s trash which led to much revealing evidence.Also his extensive travel to the PRC was an indicator that his scope of activities while in the PRC were above speaking engagements, seminars, teaching, personal. The authorities did conduct offensive counterintelligence to the best of their abilities once it learned via the other agent implicated in similar dealings with the PRC.
Hacking of the Newswires connected with Trading: A refresher for the business community
This case I am touching on is regarding Leonid Momotok in which he and other traders used insider trading information from not yet released press releases to amass windfalls in illegal trading. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in his role to hack into three business newswires and obtain through theft the information related to finance that enabled illegal trading advantages. Their trades resulted in at least $30million in illegal profits. He pleaded guilty and faced up to 20 years in prison, restitution, a fine and criminal forfeiture.
The crux of the enabling operation to obtain an illegal advantage was gained through computer hackers in Ukraine who gained intrusion into Marketwired L.P, PR Newswire Association LLC (PRN) and Business Wire (Newswire Companies).Marketwired is owned by NASDAQ Inc., Business Wire is part of the billionaire Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and PR Newswire is a Cision unit. The hackers used cyber-attack methods to obtain entry into the Newswire Companies’ networks. Once in, they stole upcoming press announcements about earnings, gross margins, confidential and material financial information and revenue information. They even sent messages regarding their activities. They went on to state they had gained access to the log-on to 15 wire business employees. While the traders made lists of what information they wanted, the hackers provided instructions on how to access and use the overseas server networks. And by having insider information before the public release the traders capitalized by placing trades prior to release date of the press releases. Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, Panera Bread, Home Depot and others were some of those affected regarding nonpublic information. The hackers received a percentage of the profits and received it through shell corporations.
The Dubovoy Group defendants tried to avoid detection by spreading their trading to more than 10 brokers firms in various names, etc. They helped each other with the activities as much as able. They stole over 100,000 unpublished press releases. Leonid Momotok owned 1% interest in two of Arkadiy Dubovoy’s companies.“He advised Arkadiy Dubovoy how to trade using the stolen information, and he had formal trading authority for brokerage accounts used in the scheme but held in the name of other members of the Dubovoy Group, …p 12.’
Involvement in the apprehension and prosecution of the perpetrators included many government agencies. The President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force had a leading hand in the pursuit and prosecution.
9-11 Terrorist Attack: Defensive countermeasures of deter and detect
On September 11, 2001 at 8:46 a.m. an airliner slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. At 9:03 a.m. a 2nd airliner slammed into the South Tower. The planes carried thousands of gallons of jet-fuel aboard in effect making them lethal weapons. Tens of thousands of people worked in these buildings daily and both buildings fell to the ground within 90 minutes. More than 2,600 people died in the World Trade Center tower attacks. Then at 9:37 a.m. a 3rd airliner rammed into the western side of the Pentagon. 125 people died in the Pentagon attack. And a 4thairliner was intended for attack in either the U.S. Capitol or White House but the heroics of passengers crashed the plane, hence thwarting the attack. A total of 256 people died in the four planes. The death toll even surpassed the Pearl Harbor attacks of 1941.
Those responsible for the horrific attack were 19 Arabs carrying out Islamist extremists plans. Their headquarters were located in Afghanistan. They were resourceful and some had lived in the United States for some time and four of them had trained to be pilots. They were not well educated. They carried out the terrible attacks with knives, cutters, mace, etc. And they had tried to bring down the World Trade Center in 1993 but failed however in the result killed six people and wounded a thousand. It was an effort led by Ramzi Yousef. Others including Omar Abdel Rahman who had plans to blow up the Lincoln and Holland tunnels and other New York City landmarks, but they were arrested. Ramzi Yousef and others had various other terror plans of which some succeeded and some fortunately did not.
Bin Ladin was known and thought to be a financier but not thought of as a terrorist leader until later. In 1998 Bin Ladin and four others issued a fatwa in which it was publicly declaring it was God’s order that Muslims should try to kill any American they could. Bin Ladin was a wealthy Saudi and had conducted jihadist activities against the Soviet Union. But he also held grievances against the United States such as a U.S. troop presence in Saudi Arabia. He recruited and trained followers in Afghanistan and continued carrying out acts of terror, including on the United States. His people attacked embassies, hotels, and even attempted to sink the USS Cole Navy Ship by a terrorist attack. His rhetoric is derived from Islam, history and the economic and political disorder in the area. He formed an alliance between the al Qaeda group he led and the Taliban. The Clinton administration had tried cruise missile strikes against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and tried to get the Taliban to force Bin Ladin to leave Afghanistan. The U.S. unsuccessfully utilized CIA paid foreign agents to try to capture or kill Bin Ladin and his group.
As early as 1998 or 1999 Bin Ladin had been contacted by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with an idea of using the planes as a method of attacking the World Trade Center and other targets. The original plans were for 10 planes to target both east and west coasts of the United States. The CIA did uncover some reports of Bin Ladin’s intent on attacks. The U.S. continued its disruption attempts globally and also utilized diplomacy with countries. The “predator drone” was eventually fitted with a missile should an attack on Bin Ladin provide an opportunity. Some of the reasons and connections to the actions of the perpetrators of the planned 9-11 terrorist attack became apparent after the attack. Unrest had come to the surface in the time before the attack as the Taliban leader opposed attacking the United States, in contrast to Bin Ladin’s wishes.
On 9/11 the terrorists were successful in hijacking the four planes. The planes were being used as terrorist weapons and confusion was present with air control. But eventually the FAA and NORAD who controlled airspace did receive a “shoot down order” but it was after the plane in Pennsylvania had been forced down by passengers in the only way to stop the plane from being used as a weapon.
The enactment of the United States “Patriot Act” removed barriers that had impeded terrorism investigations in their outlay, scope and means. And in effect sped up the investigation and prosecution of the defendants. The FBI was point on the investigation that followed the attack and the operation was named Operation PENTTBOM. At one time more than half of the FBI’s personnel worked on the case. They followed through on more than one-half million leads. It was the largest crime scene in the FBI’s history. Also in the time period following the 9/11 attack the Department of Homeland Security was created in March 2003, which brought together 22 separate agencies and offices into a Cabinet level department. The 9/11 Commission had made several recommendations and in this report some details are brought forward. These would be included under the defensive counterintelligence support mode of operation and include the principles of deter and detect within the countermeasures. It included recognizing 72 fusion centers throughout the country which acts as a focal point for receipt, analysis and sharing of threat related information. Also establishing related training and informational programs to deal with threats. One such example is the National Terrorism Advisory System. And the DHS developed and implemented a risk-based transportation security strategy. An action taken such as strengthening airline passenger’s pre-screening and targeting terrorist travel will deter terrorists as they become aware of increased security measures and thwart terrorists from attempting to board airlines for terrorist activities. The airliner’s cabin cockpit doors have been hardened post-911 and Air Marshalls are used appropriately as well as some flight crew being eligible to carry firearms. The TSA behavior detection officers use non-intrusive behavior observation to identify people who may be high risk. The TSA also utilizes detection methods such as canine teams to sniff for explosives on passengers and in luggage. Post 9/11 all cargo on U.S. planes is screened commensurate with their checked luggage. The flights coming into the U.S. from foreign countries are required to provide information prior to departure and checks all passengers against watch lists the government utilizes such as the Secure Flight Program. It also increases efficiency by allowing those cross-checked with biometrics to have expedited travel.
Today a significant defensive countermeasure post-911 is that airlines now screen all checked and carry-on baggage for explosives. The U.S. has increased security of U.S. borders and identification documents. Certain areas are closely watched and critical security improvements along the Northern and maritime are emplaced. The Dept. Of Homeland Security has taken aggressive action to enhance the security of the nation’s infrastructure and also cyber infrastructure and networks. There in a federal government system cyber intrusion detection system which includes EINSTEIN and the National Cybersecurity and communications integration center is the nation’s hub for organizing cyber response efforts. DHS and DOD are working together to protect against threats to military and civilian computer systems and networks. This is another example of defensive countermeasures. DNDO is affiliated with nuclear detection and back in 2003 only 68% of arriving trucks and passenger vehicles were scanned along the northern border with no system on the southwest border. But today the systems scan 100% of all containerized cargo and personal vehicles arriving in the U.S. through land port of entries and up to 99% of sea containers. Counter-proliferation of nuclear and biological threats is a high priority of the DHS. The tragic occurrence of 9-11 has brought about real focus on the danger of leaving vulnerabilities open to exploitation. The DHS also has importantly increased efforts to track and disrupt terrorist financing through programs such as ECTF or Electronic Crimes Task Force.
Another action taken post-9/11 was the creation of the National Counterterrorism Center or NCTC which was to serve 5 functions which were; Threat Analysis, Identity Management, Information sharing, Strategic Operational Planning and National Intelligence Management.
The U.S. Department of Justice charged ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI with numerous terrorism charges and indicates others involved in the terrorist acts. The United States Department of Defense obtained a video tape of Bin Ladin basically accepting responsibility of the 9-11 attacks and the DOD has a transcript of the video and a portion I will quote is as follows. UBL refers to Osama Bin Ladin: “UBL: The brothers, who conducted the operation, all they knew was that they have a martyrdom operation and we asked each of them to go to America but they didn’t know anything about the operation, not even one letter. But they were trained and we did not reveal the operation to them until they are there and just before they boarded the planes.UBL: (…inaudible…) then he said: Those who were trained to fly didn’t know the others.”
Bin Ladin, America’s most wanted terrorist was killed by United States Special Forces in a compound in Pakistan on May 2, 2011. The CIA had been involved in investigating Bin Ladin for years.
Where does allegiance lie?
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