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The “dirty bomb” issue and the jihadist strategy in Europe

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On November 30, 2015 the Belgian police discovered a film regarding the movements of a Belgian nuclear researcher and his family who operated in Dohel-1, one of the seven nuclear production sites in that country, four in the Dohel region and three in the Tihange region.

The long film of all the nuclear expert’s movements was found in the Auvelais house of a man linked to the network of Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate. The jihadists were interested not so much in the nuclear plant as such, but in the possibility of using radioisotopes, namely products capable of causing poisonings, diseases, various temporary or permanent disorders in those who come into contact with them for a certain period of time.Radioisotopes, also known as radionuclides, are unstable nuclei which radioactively decay, resulting in the emission of nuclear radiations. As already said, the effects may be scarcely or highly significant, depending on the dose of radiations received and/or the type of emissions absorbed.

The α radiations carry two positive charges and can be stopped by a thin aluminium foil. They strongly ionize gases (hence air) but, if produced by a source inside the human body (water, contaminated food), they can cause very severe damage.The β radiations have a negative charge only and are more penetrating than the α ones, but they ionize gases to a lesser extent.They have a greater power to penetrate the human body than α radiations, but these emissions, too, can become dangerous when given off by a source inside the human body.On the contrary the γ radiations have no electric charge but have an undulatory nature, such as electric waves.

The latter have a very high power of penetrating the human body and can cross relevant thick layers of lead and other metals.They are a hundred times more penetrating than the β radiations and are, in effect, electromagnetic wave emissions.All radioisotopes are widely used in medicine, biology, pharmacology (the “radiopharmaceuticals”), archaeology and paleontology.Not to mention industrial applications: the lasers which use the radioisotope emissions are now fundamental in telecommunications, through the “fibre optics” technology.Even the common CD players use these lasers, which are also used for cutting some metal sheets in the manufacturing industry.In all likelihood, the jihadists stationed in Belgium wanted to kidnap that nuclear expert or a member of his family so as to force him to make one or more “dirty bombs”.Here the technological issue turns into a strategic and political issue.

A team of experts is needed to make a dirty bomb, but we cannot rule out that a single “lone wolf” may be able to make it alone, with few recycled materials and using the usual homemade explosives which now characterize most of the blasts occurred so far in Europe due to the sword jihad.You only need saltpetre, sugar or normal gunpowder, which can be easily made at home.It is worth clarifying that the jihad does not want to conquer our territory, but it wants to fully subjugate it, particularly at political and cultural levels.For the jihadists, a “dirty” bomb” has the same value as a cyber attack or a demonstration against miniskirts or halal food in public schools.The important factor is intimidation, leading to hegemony and finally to dominance.This means that, at geopolitical, economic, cultural and demographic levels, the jihadist militants want to make their fight fully functional to the primary interests of the umma, namely the Islamic global community.

The strategic goal is the cultural and economic submission and subjugation of our territories to Islam, possibly with some mass conversion.

The fear, terror and social dissociation caused by the terrorist actions carried out by the men (and women) of Daesh/Isis are aimed at weakening the reactions of the “infidel”.The attacks also serve to increase the costs of our defence, up to making them economically unsustainable and finally blocking the European society so as to freeze it until the final “submission”, just to borrow the title of a smart and successful book by Michel Houellebecq.Therefore it is a long-term warfare, with strong elements of traditional war combined with a real psywar, “psychological warfare.”These actions relate to the management of the good side, the good cop, of integration up to beyond the limits allowed by our social system – which implies cultural and mental-mythical submission and subjugation – and the harsh side, the bad cop, the brutal violence of the recent massacres in Paris and Brussels.Hence a mechanism “if …. then” sets in into the victims’ minds, namely us, whereby we start to think that if we are good and keep quiet and we adapt without saying a word they will not do us harm any more.

This is not true: if we are good and keep quiet, we will be subjugated even more cruelly.Needless to explain this to current politicians in Italy and Europe; they are just canvassers and salesmen in search for foreign capital, possibly from the countries which have always funded the jihad.There are also important socio-economic factors in this psywar using all the elements of our non-orthodox warfare techniques.Again needless to explain these techniques to the above stated canvassers and salesmen who, unfortunately, have also “polluted” the intelligence services.

Firstly, there is the plan already made explicit by Osama Bin Laden to hit the West – the inevitable advocate, for economic and energy reasons, of the “apostate” regimes of Islam and the Jewish State – with a war which is very cheap for the jihad that wages it, but costs a lot, even too much, to those who must defend themselves from it.Compared to the relatively scarce funds needed for the attacks of September 9, 2001, Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda cost over three billion dollars in fifteen years, including the costs of wars, new security and safety standards and part of the covert operations necessary for finding and killing him.Not to mention the still high costs for supporting about 150,000 military staff and one quarter more of the normal US military budget.The jihad started by Bin Laden – a wealthy “daddy’s boy” who became radicalized at the university in Saudi Arabia, as a result of his contacts with a professor linked to the Muslim Brotherhood – is an asymmetrical war of the poor against us, the would-be “rich”.

Hence the jihadists are used as proxy warriors by the rich Muslim countries to progressively impoverish the West, make it suitable for diversified and profitable investment by the OPEC Sunni area and finally create not only an economic, but also a political dependence on the Middle East oil and gas.The terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, not to mention the now sadly neglected affair of mass rapes in Cologne, are the beginning of a new phase of this non-orthodox Islam war in Europe and other continents.Before Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate – which has created the territorial entity needed to the global jihad, for political mythology and as a military base – Mohammed Badie, the former Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and later leader of the Ikhwan International, had explicitly stated: “There is no need for the sword jihad in Europe, we will conquer it only with our growing population”.

The transition from the old to the new jihad, which came to maturity with the establishment of the Daesh-Isis Caliphate, has already changed this Islamist strategic project on Europe.This is exactly the reason why we must be very careful with nuclear “dirty bombs” that will certainly reach their political goal (which is what matters), regardless of their actual potential for nucleotide radiation.Fear is a mechanism which now increases also with small doses of violence.It is hard to estimate how many sites exist today in the world where radionuclides are produced and stored, but the best statistics now available point to over 70,000 storage systems placed in at least 13,000 facilities.The brutality of the attacks and the size of the widespread jihadist network discovered so far in Belgium may be explained by the fact that this country is one of the major world producers of radionuclides and there is at least one researcher of Islamic origin and faith who works in this facility, as we will see shortly.It is the nuclear complex called SK-CEN, a nuclear research centre located near the Bocholt-Herentals Canal, 53 miles away from Brussels.It no longer receives the periodical shipments of radioactive material from the United States, which in 2004 had reported the poor defence structures of the Belgian system in view of a possible attack by Al Qaeda.

Not to mention the fact that the two fake journalists who killed the anti-Taliban Afghan leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud, two days before the September 11 attack came from Molenbeek, the neighbourhood which hosted and still partially hosts the Caliphate’s jihadists who carried out the massacres in Paris and Brussels.In 2003 there had been reports of an attempt by one of the Belgian soccer star, Nizar Trabelsi, to put a bomb in the military area of Kleine Brogel, 18 miles away from the aforementioned nuclear research centre, a base hosting twenty US tactical nuclear weapons related to a F-16 squadron.

The base safety and security structures were later deactivated in 2010, even by a group of peace activists, who run about the military structure undisturbed for over two hours.Only in 2014, and after the renovations made by the Belgian government upon US request, did IAEA confirm that the safety and security net in SK-CEN and the nearby military base were effective and robust.It is worth noting that the Belgian nuclear plants supply over 50% of electricity in that country. Is this series of   terrorist actions possibly designed to force Belgium to supply itself only with the Middle East oil and gas?In Italy, the disastrous decision to relinquish civilian nuclear energy was taken with a richly-funded referendum in June 2011, after the equally richly-funded one in 1987, cunningly held shortly after the disaster occurred at the Chernobyl power plant.No one better than the peoples who are not strategically Clausewitzian knows how to better use “psychological warfare” than Muslims.They do not believe that the war obeys strict, Kantian rules, but they think that the war confrontation is always the essence of politics, not its “polarization of extremes”.Hence there will probably be no need for terrorist actions in Italy: in this sector we have already simulated and achieved the effects of a jihad attack on our own.

Furthermore, the Belgian power plants have recently been the target of a series of accidents which have endangered the city of Antwerp, geographically close to the SK-CEN centre, and Germany has repeatedly called into question the technical and strategic safety and security nets of the Belgian nuclear system.

It is worth noting that Ilyass Boughalab, a Moroccan expert linked to the old information network, though still operational but today silent, known as Sharia4Belgium, works in Dohel-1.Today, globally, the components (and not the finished products of the radioisotopes, about which we have already spoken) are found in approximately 3,500 sites located in 110 countries.

In Iraq, Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate has already reached the nuclear sites of the former regime of Saddam Hussein and is supposed to already have such a quantity of radioactive material as to build a “dirty” bomb which could “infect” a small city, thus making it uninhabitable (and this is the tactical goal pursued).Moreover, the IAEA countries adhering to the international safety and security net for the storage and use of radioactive materials are only 23, accounting for 14% of the total 168 IAEA members.

Statistically, in 2013 and 2014, at least 325 nuclear accidents were reported officially in the IAEA databases, with heavy losses of radioactive materials.85% of those accidents regarded non-nuclear radioactive material – hence nucleotides.According to the most reliable estimates, the non-reported accidents are supposed to be over 753 in the two-year period under consideration, already used as statistical basis.Conversely, highly enriched uranium (HEU) is stored in sites located in 25 countries while, as already seen, the radioactive substances are much more widespread.Moreover, “dirty bombs” certainly cause less damage than nuclear ones, but they can cost a huge amount of money for “cleaning up” the area, as well as for displacing and protecting the population.According to the rule of asymmetric economic war started by Bin Laden and today continued by Al Baghdadi’s Caliphate, this is exactly what is needed.

“Dirty bombs” have been called weapons of mass disruption and not weapons of mass destruction.

This is the reason why they are suited to reach two goals at the same time: the psycho-political crushing of the enemy, namely us, as well as the increase in costs for defending ourselves from the jihad – costs which could force some European governments (the aforementioned canvassers and salesmen) into a strategic or anyway political surrender.Not to mention the area interdiction which could be generated by a radiological dispersal device (RDD) so as to later act undisturbed, with traditional terrorism, in areas close to those hit by the dirty bomb.Technically, the most easily available and used radionuclides among the 16 theoretically available include Cobalt-60, with a half-life of 5.3 years, which appears as a hard metal. It is used for anti-cancer therapies.They also include Cesium-137, with a half-life of 30.1 years, which appears as powder salt and is used for blood transfusions in specific therapies.The same holds true for Iridium-192, which appears as a metal and is still used for X-rays.

Finally they include Americium-124 and Beryllium, with a half-life of 432.2 years, showing the consistence of a metal oxide and mainly used for stratigraphic analysis in geology and archaeology.

Out of the total number of nations adhering to the IAEA rules for radionuclides, only 19 have a specific strategy to monitor or recover the illegally extorted material; 8 of them are developing a procedure for notifying neighbouring countries of any illegal release or transfer of radioactive material, while the others are studying new safer storage and monitoring systems.The Code of Conduct currently in force for all the countries adhering to the special IAEA system for radionuclides is inevitably vague and full of “shortcomings” at procedural and penalty levels.Moreover only 130 IAEA countries have accepted the Code of Conduct.So far many thefts of radioactive material have occurred, apart from those carried out by the so-called Syrian-Iraqi Caliphate (two, as far as we know).In 1993, the Russian mafia placed small pieces of radioactive material in the office of a Russian businessman, causing him to die in a few minutes.In 1995, the jihadist Chechen rebels buried a container full of Cesium-137 in Moscow’s Ismailovsky Park.

The terrorists let the police know where it was before it could cause too much damage.In 1998, 19 tubes containing Cesium-137 were stolen from a hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina.Again in 1998, the secret services of the pro-Russian Chechen government discovered a container hidden under a railroad, already connected to an explosive ignition device.Others thefts were recorded, often not even reported by “open sources”.Hence, on the basis of logical inferences, how many Chechens are hosted as foreign fighters by Daesh/Isis? A number ranging between 200 and 700 – an amount exceeded only by militants from Afghanistan, Bosnia and Somalia.Just to make an example of costs and damage which may be caused, a dirty bomb charged with an average quantity of Cesium-137 could “pollute” and contaminate 250 square meters at a certain minimum cost of decontamination/ repopulation equal to over 81 billion euro, obviously depending on the infrastructure existing in the RDD detonation area.

Hence what must be done to prevent “dirty bomb” attacks?

Meanwhile, many specific sensors can be placed and monitored often and very carefully in “sensitive” facilities and densely populated areas.As already happened in the United States, a government committee should select a number of critical points for RDD attacks and then proceed to the ongoing computerized monitoring of the most important sites which may be targeted by a jihad attack.This holds true also for parks, cities’ central areas, schools and universities, but this shall be decided by the relevant committee, when it is established.Furthermore we shall also significantly improve the storage and destruction, after use, of such materials, coming from hospitals, research centres or other structures – a practice to be certified and be entrusted to the police, not to garbage collectors.How many sites of radionuclide production or storage are there in Italy?A huge amount: suffice to list – and it would be virtually impossible – all the hospitals, private radiology medical centres, as well as biological, archaeological, physical, chemical and paleontological research centres.Radioactive waste and, in any case, the waste coming directly from nuclear power plants, have the size of 30,000 square metres, for a quantity of waste produced over 30 years.Less than a quarter of France and less than a sixth of Germany.

In Italy approximately 140,000 tons of special waste, including radionuclides, are produced every year, while hazardous waste (including some specific radionuclides) has a size of 9 tons/year.In Italy the management of such radioactive waste, mainly coming from hospitals, is currently regulated by Article 4 of Legislative Decree No. 230/95.The legislation governs the management of such waste, but mainly defines stringent criteria for notifications, requirements and regulations, also in the event of a transfer of such waste abroad.Even with the very dangerous rule of tacit consent.Hence is the registration of radionuclide transport companies with the Ministry sufficient?We do not think so, particularly because said waste thefts occur precisely during transfers and by staff who may not be registered with the relevant Authority.

Article 17 of EU Directive 2006/EURATOM, transposed in Italy in 2007, envisages specific criminal offences for those who abandon or carry out illicit trafficking of radioactive materials in addition to mandatory confiscation of the material seized – where possible.Better, but not enough, because there are no indications, apart from criminal penalties, specifically protecting from an RDD, of which we will never know the origin of the radionuclide used in the blast.Once again, little can be done, except for quick management and processing of information in the EU area and careful intelligence prevention on the radicalization of Islamic subjects from communities near the radionuclide production or storage sites.

The likelihood of an RDD explosion is statistically not measurable.

Nevertheless, it will be good to think about it in time.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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UN: Revealing Taliban’s Strategic Ties with Al Qaeda and Central Asian Jihadists

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Afghan peace mediators

As the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the deadline for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan draws near, the region has been witnessing sudden adjustments. The Taliban have not only intensified assaults against the Afghan government forces and captured new territories but also began to demonstrate their regional ambitions to reduce Washington’s influence in Central and South Asia. As the US military has completed more than half of its withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban believe that they defeated America after 20 years of grueling war. The Taliban leaders, who were driven by the latest military successes, began further setting their own conditions for the neighbors and stepping on the toes of Washington in order to prevent the establishment of a new US military base in Central Asia.

On May 26, the Taliban issued a statement warning Afghanistan’s neighbors not to allow the US to utilize their territory and airspace for any future military operations against them. The Sunni Islamist jihadi group cautioned that facilitating US military operations by neighboring countries in the future will be a “great historical mistake and a disgrace that shall forever be inscribed as a dark stain in history.” They further emphasized that the presence of foreign forces is “the root cause of insecurity and war in the region.” The insurgent group strictly warned without elaborating that “the people of Afghanistan will not remain idle in the face of such heinous and provocative acts”. At the end of the statement, they exerted political pressure on the Central Asian states, threatening that “if such a step is taken, then the responsibility for all the misfortunes and difficulties lies upon those who commit such mistakes.”

Given the past experience of US military presence in the region, the Taliban’s threatening appeal is most likely addressed to the governments of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.  After the 9/11 attacks the Kyrgyz, Tajik, and Uzbek governments hosted the American military to wage a campaign against the Taliban, Al Qaeda and their Salafi-Jihadi subsidiaries. But virtually every US military base in Central Asia was suddenly expelled when the personal interests of the regional authoritarian leaders have been infringed upon. Uzbekistan expelled the US base from Karshi-Khanabad amid strong political disagreements over a bloody 2005 crackdown on protesters in Andijan. The Dushanbe and Kulob airports in Tajikistan were used very briefly by the NATO forces. The US base at the Bishkek airport in Kyrgyzstan also was closed in 2014 under heavy Russian hands. It is no secret that following the expel of US military bases, some political leaders of Central Asia became skeptical of Washington, thus further perceiving it as an unreliable partner.

The Taliban’s warning to the Central Asian states is fully consistent with the strategic expectations of Al Qaeda, its loyal and faithful ideological partner in the global jihad, both of which jointly seek to push the US out not only from Afghanistan, but also from Central and Southeast Asia. Based on propaganda releases and the rhetoric on Telegram channels, the Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups which are linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, strongly supported the withdrawal of US forces from the region. Consequently, Uighur and Uzbek jihadists potentially see the Taliban and Al Qaeda as powerful parent organizations, whose resurgence in Afghanistan offers major advantages for their military and political strengthening. Unsurprisingly, Al Qaeda and Taliban aims to oust the US forces from the region, hence playing into the hands of Moscow and Beijing, considering that both unlikely to welcome an increased US military presence in their backyard.

Taliban leaders are well aware that the possible deployment of US military assets in Central Asia will impede their strategic goal in rebuilding the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Today Washington is actively working with nations surrounding Afghanistan on the deployment of its troops to support Afghan forces “over the horizon” after withdrawal from the country on September 11. The US air support for the Afghan military could thwart Taliban plans to quickly seize Kabul and force them to sit at the negotiating table with the Ashraf Ghani administration. The Taliban have consistently and clearly emphasized in their numerous public statements opposing the negotiation and power share with the Kabul regime. They consider themselves the only and undeniable military-political force that has the right to rule the country in accordance with Sharia law. The Taliban jihadists are determined to continue waging jihad until establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and their emir, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, becomes the country’s “lawful ruler”.

On June 6, 2021, the Taliban once again appealed to Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan “to resolve their border issues through a dialogue” and “seeking a logical solution that would benefit both sides.” Recall, during the two-day border conflict between the armed forces of the two post-Soviet countries at the end of April, more than 50 people were killed, hundreds were injured and thousands were forced to leave their homes. In its statement, the Taliban, called on Tajik and Kyrgyz leaders to value “the peace and security of their respective nations.” According to the local analysts, Taliban’s “peace-aiming appeal” looks like a mockery of the Afghan people suffering from their bloody jihad.

Taliban’s “Soft Power” Under Construction

The question to be posed is what kind of leverage does the Taliban has with the Central Asian states to put pressure on them in preventing the possible deployment of new US military bases in the region?

The Taliban, an insurgent Islamist group that has yet to come to power, does not have any economic or political leverage over the former Soviet republics of Central Asia. But it is imperative to mention that the Taliban holds “soft power” tools, such as Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi terrorist groups affiliated with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. These groups challenged the region’s secular regimes, hence aiming to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the densely populated Fergana Valley, sandwiched between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

It is no secret that the Central Asian post-Soviet countries consider the Al Qaeda-linked Uzbek and Uighur Sunni Salafi-Jihadi groups hiding in Taliban-controlled Afghan soil as a threat to the security of the entire region. Recall, the first group of radical Islamists from Central Asia who found refuge in Afghanistan in the mid-90s was the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which had close and trusting ties with both Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Currently, Uighur fighters of Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) from China’s Xinjiang, Uzbek militant groups such as Katibat Imam al-Bukhari (KIB), Katibat Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ), the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and Tajik militants of Jamaat Ansarullah (JA) wage jihad in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s umbrella.

The Taliban still strongly support Uzbek and Uighur jihadists despite the 2020 US-Taliban peace agreement that requires the Taliban to sever ties with Al Qaeda and all Central Asian terrorist groups.

In response to documentary evidence of the UN Security Council and the US Defense Intelligence Agency on the Taliban’s close-knit relationship with Al Qaeda and their failure to fulfill the obligation, the Taliban have adopted new tactics to publicly deny the presence of transnational terrorist groups in the country and their ties to them. The Taliban still insist that there are no foreign fighters in the country. But regular UN reports reveal the true face of the Taliban, who are trying to hide their deep network links with Al Qaeda and Central Asian Islamists — a decades-old relationship forged through common ideology and a history of joint jihad.

Thus, a recently released report by the UN Security Council’s Taliban Sanctions Monitoring Team confirms that there are “approximately between 8,000 and 10,000 foreign terrorist fighters from Central Asia, the North Caucasus and China’s Xinjiang in Afghanistan. Although the majority are affiliated foremost with the Taliban, many also support Al Qaeda.” The UN report stated that Uzbek and Uighur jihadists’ ties with the Taliban and Al Qaeda remain “strong and deep as a consequence of personal bonds of marriage and shared partnership in struggle, now cemented through second generational ties.” Further the UN monitoring team revealed Al Qaeda’s core strategy of “strategic patience,” according to which the group would wait for “a long period of time before it would seek to plan attacks against international targets again.”

According to the report, “several hundred Uighur jihadists of Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) located primarily in Badakhshan and neighboring Afghan provinces, whose strategic goal is to establish an Islamic Uighur state in Xinjiang, China.” To achieve its goal, TIP facilitates the movement of fighters from Afghanistan and Syria to China. Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, who is a member of Al Qaeda’s Shura Majlis, leads the Syrian and Afghan branches of TIP for more than two decades. According to the UN monitoring group, “Uighur militant Hajji Furqan, the TIP’s deputy emir, is also a deputy leader of Al Qaeda and responsible for the recruitment of foreign fighters.” Such mixed appointments of group leaders highlight the close and deep ties between the troika: Taliban-Al Qaeda-TIP.

The UN report found more evidence of close cooperation between Uzbek IMU jihadists and the Taliban. The report stated that the “IMU fighters are currently based in Faryab, Sar-e Pol and Jowzjan provinces, where they dependent on the Taliban for money and weapons”. The UN monitoring team also highlighted the activities of Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups such as KIB, IJU and Jundullah, which are waging jihad in the northern Afghan provinces of Faryab and Kunduz under Taliban shelter and control. “The Taliban has forbidden these groups from launching independent operations, resulting in a reduction of their income.” In conclusion, UN analysts noted that pressure on the Taliban to cut their ties with Al Qaeda and Central Asian Salafi groups has not succeeded. Thus, the UN report once again refuted the Taliban’s assertion that Al Qaeda and Central Asian jihadists are not present in Afghanistan.

Conclusion

Thus, it can be assumed that while US military pressure persists, the Taliban’s tactics will continue to publicly deny their trust relationships and close ties with Al Qaeda, Central Asian jihadists, and other transnational terrorist groups in the country. But as long as the Taliban’s perception of its own level of influence and control in Afghanistan remains high, insurgents will continue to insist that they are abiding by the accord with the US.

The Taliban’s strategy is to build the foundation of their “soft power” through the patronage and protection of Al Qaeda and Central Asian Salafi-Jihadi groups in Afghanistan. Thus, in this complex process, not only material interests, but also common religious roots originating in the Hanafi school of Sunni Islamic theology and mutual sympathy for jihadist ideological visions might play a significant role.

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Cyber-attacks-Frequency a sign of Red Alert for India

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The biggest target is in terms of transportations, nuclear power plants, Power system Operation Corporation Limited, V.O. Chidambaram Port Trust, Telangana State Load Dispatch Centre, logistic industries and research organisations which eventually can lead to destruction of the whole ecosystem. The confidentiality breach in the case of medical data leak as reported by a German cyber security firm –Greenbone Sustainable Resilience wherein Picture Archiving and Communication Servers were linked to public internet without any requisite protection is a point of concern. Then, there are certain individualistic attacks such as hacking email and financial crimes (banking), etc. In the last two years the attacks radar of focus has been defence, government accounts and the vaccine manufacturing companies.

Cyber Security – Individualistic awareness need of the hour

The target of the individual in a peculiar case which led to heinous crimes casted was due to opening of a document which was a bait to install Netwire- a malware. The bait was eventually delivered through a file and what prompted a person to open that link was a Drop box sent to him on his email was actually opening a Pandora Box of malicious command and control server. An emphasis to understand the technicality that Netwire stands for a malware which gives control of the infected system to an attacker. This in turn paves way for data stealing, logging keystrokes and compromise passwords. In the similar vein the Pegasus used the tactic to infiltrate the user’s phones in 2019.

Cyber Security – Attacking Power Distribution Systems

The intrusions by Chinese hacker groups in October, 2020 as brought out by Recorded Future was done through Shadow Pad which opens a secret path from target system to command and control servers. And, the main target is sectors such as transportation, telecommunication and energy .And , there are different tags that are being used by the Chinese Espionage Industry such as APT41, Wicked Spider and Wicked Panda , etc.

The institutions backing legitimisation

The Institutions which are at working under the cyber security surveillance are the National Security Council and National Information Board headed by National Security Adviser helping in framing India’s cyber security policy .Then, in 2014 there is the National Critical Information Infrastructure Protection Centre under the National Technical Research Organisation mandating the protection of critical information infrastructure. And, in 2015 the National Cyber Security Coordinator advises the Prime Minister on strategic cyber security issues. In the case of nodal entity , India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in) is playing a crucial role under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MEITY).But, there is a requirement of clarity in National Cyber Security Policy of 2013 and the needed updates desired in it respectively.

A cohesive approach – Data Protection and Privacy Importance

The Data privacy i.e. the personal data protection bill is an important imperative in which services of private actors can be bridged through a concerned law which is missing link in that sense. The point of Data localisation falls squarely within this dimension of Section 40 and 41 of the draft bill where in the Indian stakeholders have the capacity to build their own data centres .In this contextualisation there also a need to understand certain technicalities involved in terms of edge computing which in a way is enabling the data to be analysed, processed, and transferred at the edge of a network. An elaboration to this is the data is analysed locally, closer to where it is stored, in real-time without delay. The Edge computing distributes processing, storage, and applications across a wide range of devices and data centres which make it difficult for any single disruption to take down the network. Since more data is being processed on local devices rather than transmitting it back to a central data centre, edge computing also reduces the amount of data actually at risk at any one time. Whereas on the other hand, there is insistence on data localisation has paved the way for companies such as Google Pay to adhere to the policy and synchronise their working with the United Payments Interface (UPI).

What do you understand by Data Share?

In the recent case of WhatsApp privacy issue and drawing in parallel other organisation a similar platform such as Facebook and Google shared the data to the third party with a lopsided agreement and with continuance of the data trade business industry. In 1996 the internet was free so was perceived as carte blanche , a safe harbour falling under the Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act in the United States but with the evolution of the circumstances the laws in that specifications are also required to change in that respect. In relations to the Indian law under the Information Technology Act, 2000 under the Section 69 the Indian government has the powers to monitor and decrypt any information that’s store in any computer resource but on certain conditions such as in regards to the sovereignty, defence and security of the country.

Cyber-attacks understanding on the International Forums

In terms of Lieber Code of Conduct of 1863 or be it Hague Convention of 1899 there is a need of updating the definitions and where in the cyber army falling under the categorisation  of civilians , not possessing any of the warfare weapons cause the main weapon that they possess is a malware which is invisible but can have deep repercussions leading to destruction of that particular economy altogether .So, in recent evolving circumstances there is an undue importance to for the target country to respond with equal force and having a right to self-defence in this manner regardless of the attack being from a non-state actor from a third country and masquerading under the civilian garb .Henceforth , there a thorough understanding of the complex environment that one is dealing with , there is undue emphasis to change and respectively update with the current world.

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Incidents of Uranium Theft in India: Depleting Nuclear Safety and International Silence

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Terrorism

In yet another incident of the capture of nuclear-related materials from unauthorized persons in India has made headlines in the Indian media but largely ignored in the international media. On 4th June 2021, as reported in the Indian media, the authorities arrested seven people possessing approximately 6.4 kilograms of Uranium in the Eastern State of Jharkhand. This is the second time in less than a month where Indian authorities have captured such a gang in an attempt to sell uranium illegally. An incident of the same nature was reported just a few days ago in May 2021 where authorities apprehended unauthorized persons, who were trying to sell nearly 7 kilograms of natural uranium on the black market. Notably, Indian authorities themselves believe that these events might be linked to a “national gang involved in illegal uranium trade”. This is a very serious issue because it means two things; first, that Indian local uranium reserves, radioactive nuclear materials, and facilities are not protected and are prone to black marketing. Secondly, this scenario has emerged because India is not adhering to international bindings of nuclear safety and security such as UN resolution 1540 and (Convention on Physical Protection on Nuclear Material) CPPNM under IAEA to secure its materials, reserves, and facilities. But, the most damaging aspect in this scenario is the discriminatory behavior of the international community, which is criminally silent on the violations of norms, practices, and regulations necessary for nuclear safety and security.

Though in both incidents, Uranium was in natural condition, which cannot be used for making bombs; however; it should be of great concern, as even in its natural state the Uranium can spread considerable radioactivity if used with conventional explosives. Moreover, Indian authorities themselves are considering that these activities could be linked with national gangs involved in the illegal supply of uranium. This raises the point that actually how much natural uranium is illegally sold in the black market by India. Since these are only incidents that are being reported in the Indian media, there might be many incidents that have never been reported. Also, this gang was captured from near the area where Indian Uranium mines of Jharkhand are allocated, the likelihood of access of non-state actors to these mines cannot be denied. These incidents are critical for international security and stability because such radioactive material when sold in black markets could be brought by the non-state and states aspiring for nuclearization. Unfortunately, in such a scenario all the efforts currently going on to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons would be hampered. The recurring of these incidents reflect that India, despite being a member of CPPNM is not ensuring the protection of its nuclear materials from theft and sabotage by proper regulations, stringent mechanisms, and control. Other than CPPNM, India has also signed UN resolution 1540, which makes it mandatory for the states to ensure security regulations, mechanisms, equipment required for the security of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) from the non-state actors. But, surprisingly, so far the UN or any other international organization has not taken notice of these recurring events. Rather, these mishaps by Indian authorities are shoved under the carpet. These incidents have been reportedly re-occurring in India, media reported these events in 2003, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2016, 2019, and now again in 2021. 

Nuclear safety and security is a national matter of any state; however, against the backdrop of the potential damage, which these weapons can bring, they have become an international concern. Specifically, to an extent, where states are sometimes criticized, lauded, and sometimes rewarded for their behavior in this realm. In this regard, India appears as an exceptional case, where the formation of Nuclear Suppliers Group NSG to stop such events in the future has its roots in the Indian so-called peace nuclear explosion (PNE) in 1974. Ironically, a few years down the road, the same NSG gave a waiver to India for conducting nuclear export. Moreover, India was made part of many other regimes such as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Australia Group, and Wassenaar Arrangement. Although, these decisions were carried out in lieu of geo-political realities, where the West regards India as a balancer against China but it gave a free hand to India. Even the US-based NTI Report on Nuclear Security Index gives India less score in nuclear safety and security regulations. At a time when many nuclear theft-related incidents have occurred in India in recent years, disgracefully, India still desires to become a member of NSG based on its so-called nuclear record.

To sum up the situation, the occurrence of back-to-back nuclear theft-related incidents has further exposed India’s nuclear credentials and its non-adherence to international practices of nuclear safety and security. If legal bindings such as CPPNM and 1540 would not be implemented in the future by India, the South Asian stability, as well as the international security, would be undermined. Moreover, if the international non-proliferation continues to remain lenient towards states like India, the rest would likely regard the international non-proliferation mechanism not just as discriminatory but even as hoaxing. Many states might prefer to proliferate for their own interests, which would not serve the non-proliferation mechanism and regime. A very candid example is that today even after two years of the last NPT review conference, the next has not been conducted and chances are that it might not be conducted this year.

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