Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fears of Taliban takeover in southern Afghan

Southern Afghanistan's largest city, Kandahar, is slipping back under Taliban control as overstretched U.S. troops focus on clearing insurgents from the countryside  a potentially alarming setback for President Barack Obama's war strategy.

Afghan authorities promise a counteroffensive against the militants in Kandahar — a pledge that appears aimed primarily at boosting public morale after a devastating bombing killed 43 people on Tuesday.

Losing Kandahar, a city of nearly 1 million and the Taliban’s former headquarters, would be a huge symbolic blow because it is effectively the capital of the ethnic Pashtun-dominated south, the main battlefield of the Afghan war.

It is difficult to measure the extent of Taliban control, and NATO officials publicly discount the possibility that Kandahar is about to fall to the militants.

Thousands of U.S. and Canadian troops are deployed throughout the province and around the city, which includes a major NATO base. NATO officials say the U.S. troop buildup in Afghanistan will enable them to send more troops into Kandahar.

“Because there’s one bombing, it doesn’t mean the situation is going down the tubes,” said Maj. Mario Couture, a spokesman for NATO in Kandahar province.

Nevertheless, many Afghans believe more Taliban forces are operating clandestinely in the city, while the Islamist movement tightens its grip on districts just outside the urban center.

As guerrillas, the Taliban doubtless don’t want to capture and run the city. Instead their goal is probably to wield enough influence to block any government efforts to expand services, prevent international relief agencies from operating there, force merchants to pay protection money and undermine the government’s image in one of the country’s major cities.

“The Taliban are inside the city. They are very active. They can do anything they want,” said an Afghan employee of an international aid organization who requested anonymity because he feared reprisals from the militants.

The Taliban’s resurgence in Kandahar city, the movement’s main power base during the 1990s, has been slow and gradual over the past four years, said an international security official who is familiar with the area.

These days, the Taliban control many of the city’s streets at night, the official said. Residents who spoke to The Associated Press also said militants were active at night, though they did not describe them as being in control.

The security official also pointed to a number of attacks, aside from Tuesday’s bombing, that indicate the Taliban want to take over the city. One was last year’s brazen bomb and rocket attack on a major prison that freed hundreds of militants and other prisoners.

The militants have targeted tribal elders in surrounding districts, and have a notable presence in the city’s north, south and west, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

A chilling indicator of the militant presence are fliers posted in the city.

Haji Tooryalai, a 45-year-old Kandahar resident, said he’d seen some of the so-called shabnamas, or “night letters,” ahead of the Aug. 20 elections warning people not to vote. No voting figures have been released from Kandahar but turnout appears to have been low.

“Poor men, rich men — everyone is worried about their security,” Tooryalai said. “A few months ago, business was good, but now we are just sitting in our shops and there are just not that many customers.”

Tuesday’s explosion was especially unnerving.

It struck near a Japanese construction company involved in reconstruction efforts. The Taliban denied responsibility, as they typically do when attacks kill many civilians. 

Since the blast, people talk of little else. 

A radio announcement asking for blood donations for the wounded spurred a huge response. Early Thursday, about 200 men gathered to sacrifice seven cows and pray for the victims. 

Farid Ahmad, a real estate worker who appeared to be in his 50s, said people feel hopeless. 

“Everybody can’t afford security guards, and if you are hiring security guards it means you are an important person and that will make you a target,” Ahmad said. 

Kandahar province Gov. Tooryalai Wesa said authorities planned to review the security of the city as part of their investigation of the attack, a report likely to be finished in the next three or four days. 

Gen. Sher Mohammad Zazai, the Afghan National Army commander in Kandahar, said security forces were planning to launch an operation in the city. 

He would not give a date for the crackdown or detail its size and scope, but said it would be “soon” and spearheaded by Afghan security forces. NATO forces will be offering backup, but in districts surrounding the city, he said. 

NATO officials would not comment on any planned operation. 

The U.S. is sending additional 21,000 U.S. troops this year to turn the tide against the Taliban, part of Obama’s effort to shift the focus of the fight against terrorism away from Iraq and toward the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. 

The American military effort so far, however, has focused primarily on the countryside. U.S. military officials have not explained their strategy publicly but it was believed they wanted to cut Taliban supply lines, interrupt poppy production and attack insurgent units in areas unlikely to produce significant civilian casualties. The Taliban have also set up Islamic courts in some rural communities. 

U.S. Marines have launched operations in nearby Helmand province to wrest control of the Helmand River valley and the Now Zad district from Taliban fighters. 

But some officials believe securing Kandahar and the surrounding areas is more important because of the large civilian populations and the city’s role as the political and economic center of the south. 

They would like to see more of the extra troops in Kandahar and not Helmand. 

NATO spokesman Capt. Glen Parent, however, noted that over the past month 4,000 more U.S. troops were deployed to both Kandahar and Zabul provinces, including vast stretches around the city. 

About 2,000 Canadian troops are based in and around Kandahar, said Couture, the other NATO spokesman. 

He said it’s been difficult for the Canadians to deal with the city because they lacked enough troops and were busy battling the militants in nearby Zhari and Panjwai districts. 

“With the massive arrival of the Americans, that allows us to focus on Kandahar and surrounding areas of the city,” he said.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Suicide bomber kills 22 Pakistani border guards

A suicide bomber killed 22 Pakistani border guards on Thursday in an attack at the main crossing point into Afghanistan, government officials said.

It was the first big attack in Pakistan since Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was killed in a U.S. missile strike on Aug. 5 and will raise fears that the militants, who officials say have been in disarray, are hitting back.

The bomber struck as the guards were sitting down at sunset to break their daily fast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"The guards were about to break their fast when a teenaged boy carrying a bottle of Pepsi walked towards them and blew himself up," said Wakil Khan, a witness at the Torkham border crossing.

Nasir Khan, a senior government official in the Khyber region, said 22 people had been killed.

Pakistan has been hit by a series of suicide bomb attacks over the past two years, launched by al Qaeda-linked militants fighting the government because of its support for the U.S.-led campaign against Islamist militancy.

Security forces have cleared most militants from the Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad, in an offensive since late April, and have also been attacking Mehsud's men in the South Waziristan region on the Afghan border.

Earlier on Thursday, two missiles believed to have been fired by a U.S. drone struck a militant hideout killing six fighters in South Waziristan, intelligence officials said.


The Taliban had been denying Mehsud's death for weeks, but on Monday two of his aides, Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali-ur-Rehman, confirmed their leader had been killed.

Hakimullah, who led militants in the Khyber, Orakzai and Kurram ethnic Pashtun tribal regions, has been picked as the new overall commander of the Pakistani Taliban.

Security officials have been saying they were expecting reprisal attacks by Hakimullah's men and Thursday's blast in Khyber would appear to indicate he is determined to press on with the fight against the government.

Pakistani action against militants on its side of the border is vital for U.S.-led efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan.

The Pakistani Taliban are allied with the Afghan Taliban but Mehsud directed his attacks on Pakistani security forces.

Some Afghan Taliban factions, which have bases in lawless Pashtun lands on the Pakistani side of the border, have argued against attacks in Pakistan, saying all fighters should concentrate on expelling Western forces from Afghanistan.

Western governments with forces in Afghanistan are watching to see if a new Pakistani Taliban leader would shift focus from fighting the Pakistan government to supporting the Afghan insurgency.

Torkham is at the top of the Khyber Pass, through which a large amount of supplies for Western forces in Afghanistan, including much of their fuel, pass into landlocked Afghanistan.

Hakimullah Mehsud's men stepped up attacks on convoys trucking supplies through the pass early this year, forcing the United States and its allies to look for new routes into Afghanistan, but their raids have fallen off in recent months.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said in a statement the attack at Torkham was a cowardly act and his government was determined to stamp out terrorism.

Terror network 'larger than thought'

THE terror network blamed for the Jakarta hotel bombings is "larger and more sophisticated" than thought, a think tank said as police quizzed suspects over possible al-Qaeda links.

Analysts at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) said the group led by Malaysian Islamist Noordin Mohammed Top was finding it "disturbingly easy" to recruit members to carry out fresh attacks.

"More than a month after the 17 July, 2009, hotel bombings in Jakarta, Noordin Mohammed Top remains at large, but his network is proving to be larger and more sophisticated than previously thought," the ICG said.

"Noordin may still be the commander, but he has some exceedingly well-connected lieutenants who made their debut in the hotel bombings."

The twin suicide blasts at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels killed nine people including two bombers and six foreigners. They marked the bloody end of a four-year hiatus in such attacks in the mainly Muslim country.

Noordin, 41, is the most wanted extremist in Indonesia and calls his group "al-Qaeda in the Malay Archipelago".

He allegedly received al-Qaeda backing for an attack on the Marriott in 2003 which killed 12 people, but no such link has been confirmed this time around.

Police say they have killed three cell members and hold five others in custody, including an Indonesian Islamist journalist known as the "Prince of Jihad" who is accused of helping arrange funds for the attacks.

Counter-terror squad officers arrested the journalist, Mohammad Jibril Abdurahman, near Jakarta late on Tuesday and also raided the office of his extremist website,

Police believe the Pakistan-educated suspect was an accomplice of Saudi national Al Khalil Ali, who was arrested in Indonesia earlier this month on suspicion of smuggling money from abroad to pay for the July 17 operation.

The source of the funds is not known, but police have said they are investigating whether the money came from al-Qaeda brokers in the Middle East, among other possible donors.

ICG analyst Sidney Jones said Mohammad Jibril was not a known member of al-Qaeda but had reportedly had contacts with Osama bin Laden's group in the past.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Iraq and Syria recall envoys in bomb suspects row

Iraq and Syria recalled their ambassadors on Tuesday after Baghdad demanded Damascus hand over two people it says masterminded bombings in the Iraqi capital last week which killed almost 100 people.

Iraq's Shi'ite-led government has blamed supporters of Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party for massive truck bombs and other attacks last Wednesday, and says it has already captured some suspects it deems responsible.

In a tape aired on Sunday, one man captured said he acted under orders from a man in Syria called Sattam Farhan, a member of a wing of the Baath party headed by Mohammad Younis al-Ahmed.

"The cabinet requests (that Syria) hand over Mohammad Younis al-Ahmed and Sattam Farhan for their direct role in Wednesday's terrorist act," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

Dabbagh said the Foreign Ministry would ask Syria to hand over all those wanted for crimes in Iraq and "to banish the terrorist organisations that use Syria as a base from which to carry out terrorist acts against the Iraqi nation".

He also said the cabinet had summoned Iraq's ambassador to Syria back to Baghdad to discuss the issue, prompting the Syrian government to recall its ambassador to Iraq in response.

Diplomats in Damascus say Syria, ruled by a rival branch of the Sunni Arab Baath party, expelled Younis earlier this year.

Syria's official news agency SANA, quoting "an official Syrian source", rebuffed Dabbagh's comments about the attacks, which Damascus has strongly condemned as a "terrorist act".

"Syria informed the Iraqi side of its readiness to receive an Iraqi delegation and discuss with it available evidence on the perpetrators of the bombings. Otherwise, it would consider what is broadcast on Iraqi media as evidence fabricated for domestic political goals," the source said.


Ties between Damascus and Baghdad have been strained since around the time Saddam came to power in 1979.

Since 2003, tensions have centred around charges from the U.S.-backed Iraqi government that Syria, estranged from Washington, has permitted insurgents to stream into Iraq.

But Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's visit to Damascus earlier this month appeared to be another sign that bilateral relations were on the mend.

Dabbagh did not say what measures Iraq would take if the suspects were not handed over.

Iraqi officials frequently blame neighbouring countries for fomenting violence in Iraq. Despite a sharp drop in violence since the worst of the killing in 2006 and 2007, the Iraqi government is facing sharp criticism over continuing attacks.

Other Iraqis blame the recent violence on jostling among political, ethnic and sectarian groups ahead of anticipated parliamentary elections in January.

Led by Sunni Arab Saddam from 1979 to 2003, the Iraqi Baath party brutally oppressed Iraq's Shi'ites and Kurds.

On Tuesday, Maliki handed out compensation to victims of the attacks and called on neighbouring countries to place greater value on regional ties.

"We are in an open war that unfortunately is backed by neighbouring countries, and that is why what happened has happened. They want more to happen before the elections," Maliki said.

Dabbagh also said the cabinet had asked the foreign ministry to petition the United Nations Security Council to create a criminal court to try "war criminals who planned and executed war crimes and crimes against humanity" in Iraq.

West loses its values in Afghanistan

If the Afghan elections are presented as fair, any remaining moral authority the west might have will be eroded

The elections in Afghanistan are turning out to be a game changer for the war. It was not evident until the last few weeks before the elections that the Taliban would seriously try to undermine the process. In fact, they more or less acquiesced in the voter registration that took place during winter time. Some claim that individual sympathisers with the Taliban even registered themselves. 

The Battle of the Elections is not yet over. In fact, it is likely to rage for the next few weeks and could indeed mark the beginning of the war's eulogy. As Havana Marking commented in the Observer on Sunday, it became clear to her that "whatever the outcome, whatever events unfolded, the UN, the EU, the US, and the west in general, would declare the day an unmitigated success". These institutions and their spokespeople are well on their way down this exact path but they would be wise to pause. They are gambling not only with the lives of Afghans but with fondly held western values and also with what used to be an effective (western) political weapon in the geopolitics of the world. To most people, democracy means the process of one person one vote, and the due counting of votes cast should determine who is in and who is out of power. Elections are not yet seen by the wider public as mere rituals, nor should they be.

To claim, as the EU election observer mission does, that these elections were "fair" ranks close to the statements from Comical Ali in Baghdad in 2003. In large parts of the south, less than 10-25% voted. And those that turned up probably did so at almost gunpoint or induced with bribes of one sort of another. The widely reported estimate of 40-50% turnout came out long before the polls even closed. If turnout even in Kabul was only a moderate 30% how can the average be so high?

Votes have already been counted, we are told. But it takes time to collect and sort out the data. Really? It is reasonable to suggest that whatever goes on behind the scenes now is not the scrutiny of votes actually cast but calculations about what numbers are tactically most suitable to be presented by the so-called Independent Election Commission. Should Hamid Karzai be declared the winner with 65%, or perhaps 53% will pass more easily, or even 48% in order for there to be a runoff?

Presenting these elections as "secure, credible and inclusive" – the words replacing the widely held standard of "free and fair" – will tarnish the reputation of the west for years to come. It is outright hypocrisy. Not only were Afghans cajoled into participating at great risk to their own lives, the weight of their votes are simply brushed off by western diplomats eager to legitimise to their own publics their continued military occupation of the country.

Even more worrying is that certain US diplomats seem to welcome this debacle over the elections. Most likely Karzai did not get the 50% required to avoid a second round. Only by rigging could he have achieved that. But avoiding a runoff makes sense to more people than the incumbent. Astute Afghan and international observers are worried about the polarising effect of a second round. The predominantly non-Pashtun north of the country would probably rally around Dr Abdullah Abdullah and Pashtuns behind Karzai, in so far as the Taliban would allow them to vote.

One should not be surprised if the US turns to offer Karzai backing for his claim of outright victory in the first round in exchange for more influence over his government. Perhaps by the inclusion of Ashraf Ghani or even Zalmay Khalilzad as some sort of chief executive that would diminish the power of Karzai himself. Of course, Abdullah would also have to be bought off but that seems doable. To extract the maximum from Karzai the US could threaten to play stupid and refer to the option of a runoff. Even after these violent and low-turnout elections on 20 August, some internationals hold the view that a second round would show the legitimacy of the elections and the depth of Afghan democracy. Apart from again asking the Afghans to risk their lives at another sham election it could indeed hasten the coming of an ethnically based civil war.

The Battle of the Elections is a tragic testimony to the fate of values when they meet hard political and military realities. Which dictator will feel compelled to hold free and fair elections because of western moral criticism after what is now taking place in Afghanistan? The falsehoods presented by western representatives is a further erosion of the moral authority that the US was said to have lost as a result of the global war on terror, and that President Obama has claimed he would resurrect. Only this time Europe is seemingly fully on board on the shenanigans as well. One can be rather certain that political leaders in neither Europe, Canada, Australia nor the US have the slightest mandate from their publics to throw away the general values of free and fair elections in this haphazard manner.

But everyone is of course in a bind. How to get out of this situation? First, rather than despairing over the fact that the Taliban showed their power and the government of Afghanistan showed its utter incompetence and corruption during these elections, one should consider what opportunities could arise. The elections need to be acknowledged as below an acceptable standard and an apology need to be made to the people of Afghanistan. Admitting this and that elections are no way to choose a government until there is peace, one has immediately opened up for use processes more familiar to Afghans and more suitable in the circumstances of war than the universal, western-based electoral democracy. Although a great deal of preparation would need to take place before it is convened, it seems logical that only an inclusive loya jirga with the full participation of the Taliban, including their leader, Mullah Omar, could get Afghanistan (and the west) out of this morass.

I am not saying such an option guarantees success either, far from it. But to throw away the values of democracy to find a way to continue convincing your own western public that the Afghan war is worth fighting, funding and dying for, is very close to being a criminal offence. There is a lot at stake now both for the Afghans and for the west.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pakistani Taliban name two extremists to replace assassinated leader

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- 

Pakistan's extremist Taliban movement acknowledged Tuesday that its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, had died in the aftermath of a U.S. drone missile attack early this month and confirmed that two men would replace him.

Hakimullah Mehsud, a violent young jihadist with links to al-Qaida, will be in nominal control but his rival, Waliur Rehman, will take charge of Waziristan, a vital region for the militant movement. Rehman, in a telephone interview Tuesday with reporters, threatened attacks against the West and called President Barack Obama "our foremost enemy."

The Pakistani Taliban provides sanctuary for al-Qaida and the Afghan insurgents in Pakistan's lawless tribal area, and its leadership and goals will affect international forces in Afghanistan and terror plots against Western targets.

The militant group sustained heavy losses in late April following the launch of a U.S.-backed Pakistan army operation, and the death of Baitullah Mehsud appeared to leave it in disarray. Now Pakistan and the United States will be watching to see if new leadership can stabilize the Pakistan Taliban.

Both of the top contenders for the leadership said Baitullah had succumbed to his injuries Sunday, not on Aug. 5, when a U.S. missile struck a house in South Waziristan, his native region, as U.S. and Pakistan intelligence officials had thought.

The admission came after weeks of denials from militants that Baitullah, who brought together 13 extremist groups in the country's northwest to form the umbrella organization known as Tehreek-i-Taliban in December 2007, had been eliminated in application.

On the surface, the power struggle to replace Baitullah appears to have been won by Hakimullah, a trigger-happy tribesman with the reputation of a thug. But his rival, Rehman, who was closer to Baitullah and is regarded as much less brutal than Hakimullah, was given charge of the all-important Waziristan region.

"The real power is in Waziristan, and Waliur Rehman will run things there," said Saifullah Mahsud, an analyst at the FATA Research Center, an independent think tank in Islamabad. "It's a clever compromise formula. Waliur Rehman has the real power."

Remote, mountainous Waziristan is a potential hiding place for Osama bin Laden and a safe haven for jihadists from around the world.

According to a tribesman in South Waziristan, who could not be named for his own safety, Hakimullah, thought to be just 28, had threatened to form a breakaway group if he wasn't given the title of leader.

"In order to avoid bloodshed, Waliur Rehman has been forced by the Afghan side to agree. He's a decent, respected guy," said the tribesman.

He added that the dispute was mediated by a representative of Mullah Omar, founder of the Afghan Taliban, and Sirajuddin Haqqani, the son of veteran Afghan jihadist Jalaluddin Haqqani. The Pakistani Taliban regards its older Afghan counterpart as its mentor, and the Haqqani network in particular wields considerable influence over the Afghan branch.

Hakimullah could be the choice of al-Qaida, analysts say, as he is linked closely to two terrorist groups banned in Pakistan - Sipah-e-Sahaba and its even more extreme offshoot, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi - that now take their lead from bin Laden.

Hakimullah formerly belonged to Sipah-e-Sahaba. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is regarded as a key al-Qaida facilitator in Pakistan and played a role in many of the bombings and other attacks that have rocked the country over the last two years, including the assault on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team earlier this year.

Given the rivalry between Rehman, who is more popular in South Waziristan, and Hakimullah, analysts think that the power struggle could erupt again. According to an unconfirmed report, denied by the Taliban, the rivalry had led to a gun battle earlier this month in which both were injured. Until Tuesday, many were convinced that Hakimullah had died in that clash.

The pair appeared to be sitting together as they called select local journalists Tuesday evening, after the end of the Ramadan fast, as they passed the phone between them, according to one person who spoke to both.

"There are no differences between the various Taliban factions, and we are all united," Rehman told reporters from an undisclosed location.

Rehman, who has a religious education, unlike Hakimullah, hit out at the West, even threatening attacks.

"Obama is our foremost enemy and our workers are raring to face him," Rehman said. "Our workers cherish death more than the life and London, Paris and New York are not far away from them."

The Pakistani Taliban has no known capacity to mount attacks in the West.

Speaking before the announcement on the Taliban leadership, Pakistan's interior minister, Rehman Malik, was confident that the extremist movement was sinking.

"They cannot hide," Malik said. "We are close to their jugular vein. Now the people have turned against them."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

US attorney general poised for criminal investigation into reported CIA abuse

• Agents may have gone too far during interrogations
• Prosecutor already looking into why videos destroyed

The US attorney general, Eric Holder, is set to name a special investigator into possible crimes by CIA officers after publication yesterday of an internal report on interrogation techniques described as "inhumane".

Holder is due to appoint John Durham, a career prosecutor in the justice department, as head of the inquiry. Durham is already investigating how CIA video tapes of the interrogations came to be destroyed.

Holder's decision to expand the extent of the inquiry contrasts with the position in Britain, where the government has opposed any similar investigation into UK involvement.

Barack Obama's administration has been torn over whether to rake back through what Democrats see as some of the blackest days in US history. But Holder, according to US media reports, was sickened by what he read in the report published yesterday. It set out a series of incidents in which agents apparently went too far in interrogating al-Qaida suspects.

The 2004 internal CIA report, by the agency's then inspector-general, John Helgerson, investigated allegations of abuse during interrogation. Helgerson, while noting the agency said it had gained some crucial intelligence about al-Qaida plots, concluded that its officers had used "unauthorised, improvised, inhumane and undocumented detention and interrogation techniques".

The CIA resisted a legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to publish the report under the Freedom of Information Act. A copy was published last year under the Bush administration, but almost the entire contents were blacked out. President Obama had promised that as much as possible would be published. In spite of that, 35 of the 109 pages were almost entirely blacked out.

The ACLU gave a tentative welcome to the decision to appoint a special investigator. Anthony Romero, its executive director, said: "While this is a welcome first step, we are disappointed that attorney general Holder still appears unwilling to conduct a full investigation." He added: "The CIA's own inspector-general documented in disturbing detail the level of the torture committed and the extent to which laws were broken."

Holder's decision will renew the fierce debate with former members of the Bush administration, led by the former vice-president Dick Cheney, who argue that the CIA officers gained information that prevented fresh attacks by al-Qaida.

Leon Panetta, the CIA director appointed by Obama, exposed the extent of the division inside the Obama administration when he echoed many of Cheney's arguments in defence of the agents.

Panetta said: "The CIA obtained intelligence from high-value detainees when inside information on al-Qaida was in short supply." He qualified this, by adding: "Whether this was the only way to obtain that information will remain a legitimate area of dispute, with Americans holding a range of views on the methods used."

In a note sent to the CIA workforce yesterday ahead of the report's release, Panetta echoed another argument from the Bush officials, that the justice department had looked at Helgerson's report in 2005 and decided against prosecution, except in the case of one contractor.

He added: "My primary interest – when it comes to a programme that no longer exists – is to stand up for those officers who did what their country asked and who followed the legal guidance they were given. That is the president's position."

Obama has adopted a neutral position in the face of the differing views within his administration. His press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said: "The president has said repeatedly that he wants to look forward, not back, and the president agrees with the attorney general that those who acted in good faith and within the scope of legal guidance should not be prosecuted. Ultimately, determinations about whether someone broke the law are made independently by the attorney general."

The White House tried to take some of the sting out of the release of the report by announcing that there will be a special group set up which is specifically trained in interrogations, to be housed in the FBI headquarters rather than at the CIA.

Durham's investigation could theoretically lead to criminal prosecution of CIA officers. His remit is to decide whether there is enough evidence. In reality such prosecutions are difficult to achieve, partly through lack of evidence and partly because of the difficulty in establishing whether the agents involved believed they were acting within guidelines laid down by the Bush administration.

Joanne Mariner, a spokeswoman for Human Rights Watch, said: "The CIA inspector-general's report provides compelling official confirmation that the CIA committed serious crimes.

She added: "It's heartening that the attorney general has opened a preliminary investigation of these crimes, but it's crucial that its scope include senior officials who authorised torture.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Hidden Face of Terrorism

In our modern world, discomforting truths are usually discarded in favour of fictions. One such fiction is the idea that terrorists are disenfranchised dissidents who independently generate the wealth and resources necessary for their heinous acts. Such is the contention of Professor Mark Juergensmeyer. In his article, "Understanding the New Terrorism", he says that modern terrorism "appears pointless since it does not lead directly to any strategic goal" (p. 158). 

Juergensmeyer arrives at this conclusion because he restricts his examination to the visible perpetrators, whose motives may be, in fact, irrational. However, he does not examine the patrons of terrorism. Given the exceptional subtlety and discretion of terrorism's shadowy sponsors, Professor Juergensmeyer may just be oblivious to their existence. On the other hand, he could simply be parroting his fellow academicians in order to maintain the status quo. 

Whatever the case may be, this contention seems to be the overall view held by the orthodoxy of academia. With such a view vigorously promulgated by the arbiters of the dominant national paradigm, few can recognise those shady individuals who stand to profit from terrorist acts. 

To understand terrorism, one must discard the view that arbitrarily characterises it as "a resort to violence or a threat of violence on the part of a group seeking to accomplish a purpose against the opposition of constituted authority" (Adler, Mueller & Laufer, p. 309). Such an impotent notion is predicated upon the hopelessly flawed accidentalist perspective of history. It relegates terrorism, which is the product of conscious effort and design, to the realm of circumstantial spontaneity. In other words, a contrived act suddenly becomes an inexplicable social phenomenon. 

In November 1989, Father Ignacio Martín-Baró, a social psychologist, delivered a speech in California on "The Psychological Consequences of Political Terror". In his speech, Martín-Baró gave a much more precise definition of terrorism, one that is ignored only at great peril. Noam Chomsky provides a synopsis of this speech (p. 386): 

He [Martín-Baró] stressed several relevant points. First, the most significant form of terrorism, by a large measure, is state terrorism--that is, "terrorizing the whole population through systematic actions carried out by the forces of the state". Second, such terrorism is an essential part of a "government-imposed sociopolitical project" designed for the needs of the privileged. 

Disturbing though it may be, Martín-Baró's definition is one validated by history. The majority of terrorism throughout history has found its sponsors in the hallowed halls of officialdom, in the entity known as government. Terrorism is surrogate warfare, a manufactured crisis designed to induce social change. Its combatants consciously or unconsciously wage the war on behalf of higher powers with higher agendas. Whether its adherents are aware of it or not, terrorism always serves the ambitions of another. 

In his article, "Fake Terror: The Road to Dictatorship", Michael Rivero states that "It's the oldest trick in the book, dating back to Roman times: creating the enemies you need" (p. 1). The strategy is quite simple: individuals create a crisis so that they can then introduce their desired solution. 

Are there recent, modern examples of state-sponsored terrorism? Unfortunately, the answer to that question seems to be "Yes". 
Operation Northwoods 

The first example is in 1962. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lyman L. Lemnitzer, and his fellow JCS members wanted to remove Castro from Cuba. Exactly what interests Lemnitzer and his fellow warhawks represented are unclear. However, one thing is apparent: these military men considered Castro an impediment to be expunged by means of overt war. 

According to James Bamford, former Washington investigative producer for ABC, the Joint Chiefs of Staff planned to engineer several terrorist acts to instigate war (p. 82): 

According to secret and long-hidden documents obtained for Body of Secrets, the Joint Chiefs of Staff drew up and approved plans for what may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the US government. In the name of anticommunism, they proposed launching a secret and bloody war of terrorism against their own country in order to trick the American public into supporting an ill-conceived war they intended to launch against Cuba. 

Codenamed Operation Northwoods, the plan, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, DC, Miami and elsewhere. 

People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war. 

Northwoods even called for the military to turn on itself (p. 84): 

Among the actions recommended was "a series of well-coordinated incidents to take place in and around" the US Navy Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This included dressing "friendly" Cubans in Cuban military uniforms and then have them "start riots near the main gate of the base. Others would pretend to be saboteurs inside the base. Ammunition would be blown up, fires started, aircraft sabotaged, mortars fired at the base with damage to installations". 

Operation Northwoods would draw upon history as well, using the 1898 explosion aboard the battleship Maine in Havana harbour as inspiration (p. 84): 

"We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," they proposed; "casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation." 

The attempt to create a Cuban terrorist threat makes it clear that the US government has no reservations about using state-sponsored terrorism to achieve its ends.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Terrorism: India's unending war

Since its independence in 1947, India has been facing the problem of insurgency and terrorism in different parts of the country. For the purpose of this column, insurgency has been taken to mean an armed violent movement, directed mainly against security forces and other government targets, to seek territorial control; terrorism has been taken to mean an armed violent movement directed against government as well as non-government targets, involving pre-meditated attacks with arms, ammunition and explosives against civilians, and resorting to intimidation tactics such as hostage-taking and hijacking, but not seeking territorial control. 

India has faced exclusively terrorist movements in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, bordering Pakistan, and part insurgent-part terrorist movements in the northeast, bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh; in Bihar, bordering Nepal; and in certain interior states like Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa that do not have international borders. 

India has also faced terrorism of an ephemeral nature, which sprang suddenly due religious anger against either the government or the majority Hindu community or both and petered out subsequently. Examples of this would be the simultaneous explosions in Mumbai on March 12, 1993, which killed about 250 civilians, and the simultaneous explosions in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, in February 1998. Tamil Nadu has also faced the fallout of terrorism promoted by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka in the form of attacks by LTTE  elements on its political rivals living in the state and in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991. 

India had also faced, for some years, Hindu sectarian terrorism in the form of the Anand Marg, which, in its motivation and irrationality, resembled to some extent the Aum Shinrikiyo of Japan. The Marg, with its emphasis on meditation, special religious and spiritual practices and use of violence against its detractors, had as many followers in foreign countries as it had in India. Its over-ground activities have petered out since 1995, but it is believed to retain many of its covert cells in different countries. However, they have not indulged in acts of violence recently. 


The causes for the various insurgent/terrorist movements include: 

Political causes: This is seen essentially in Assam and Tripura. The political factors that led to insurgency-cum-terrorism included the failure of the government to control large-scale illegal immigration of Muslims from Bangladesh, to fulfil the demand of economic benefits for the sons and daughters of the soil, etc.

Economic causes: Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Bihar are prime examples. The economic factors include the absence of land reforms, rural unemployment, exploitation of landless labourers by land owners, etc. These economic grievances and perceptions of gross social injustice have given rise to ideological terrorist groups such as the various Marxist/Maoist groups operating under different names.

Ethnic causes: Mainly seen in Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur due to feelings of ethnic separateness.

Religious causes: Punjab before 1995 and in J&K since 1989.

In Punjab, some Sikh elements belonging to different organisations took to terrorism to demand the creation of an independent state called Khalistan for the Sikhs. In J&K, Muslims belonging to different organisations took to terrorism for conflicting objectives. Some, such as the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, want independence for the state, including all the territory presently part of India, Pakistan and China. Others, such as the Hizbul Mujahideen, want India's J&K state to be merged with Pakistan. While those who want independence project their struggle as a separatist one, those wanting a merger with Pakistan project it as a religious struggle. 

There have also been sporadic acts of religious terrorism in other parts of India. These are either due to feelings of anger amongst sections of the Muslim youth over the government's perceived failure to safeguard their lives and interests or due to Pakistan's attempts to cause religious polarisation. 

The maximum number of terrorist incidents and deaths of innocent civilians have occurred due to religious terrorism. While the intensity of the violence caused by terrorism of a non-religious nature can be rated as low or medium, that of religious terrorism has been high or very high. It has involved the indiscriminate use of sophisticated Improvised Explosive Devices, suicide bombers, the killing of civilians belonging to the majority community with hand-held weapons and resorting to methods such as hijacking, hostage-taking, blowing up of aircraft through IEDs, etc. 

Certain distinctions between the modus operandi and concepts/beliefs of religious and non-religious terrorist groups need to be underlined, namely: 

Non-religious terrorist groups in India do not believe in suicide terrorism, but the LTTE does. Of the religious terrorist groups, the Sikhs did not believe in suicide terrorism. The indigenous terrorist groups in J&K do not believe in suicide terrorism either; it is a unique characteristic of Pakistan's pan-Islamic jihadi groups operating in J&K and other parts of India. They too did not believe in suicide terrorism before 1998; in fact, there was no suicide terrorism in J&K before 1999. They started resorting to it only after they joined Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front in 1998. Since then, there have been 46 incidents of suicide terrorism, of which 44 were carried out by bin Laden's Pakistani supporters belonging to these organisations.

Non-religious terrorist groups in India have not resorted to hijacking and blowing up of aircraft. Of the religious terrorists, the Sikh groups were responsible for five hijackings, the indigenous JKLF for one and the Pakistani jihadi group, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (which is a member of the IIF), for one. The Babbar Khalsa, a Sikh terrorist group, blew up Air India's  Kanishka aircraft off the Irish coast on June 23, 1985, killing nearly 200 passengers and made an unsuccessful attempt the same day to blow up another Air India plane at Tokyo. The IED there exploded prematurely on the ground. The Kashmiri and the Pakistani jihadi groups have not tried to blow up any passenger plane while on flight. However, the JKLF had blown up an Indian Airlines aircraft, which it had hijacked to Lahore [ Images ] in 1971, after asking the passengers and crew to disembark.

All terrorist groups -- religious as well as non-religious -- have resorted to kidnapping hostages for ransom and for achieving other demands. The non-religious terrorist groups have targeted only Indians, whereas the religious terrorist groups target Indians as well as foreigners. The Khalistan Commando Force, a Sikh terrorist group, kidnapped a Romanian diplomat in New Delhi in 1991. The JKLF kidnapped some Israeli tourists in J&K in 1992. HUM, under the name Al Faran, kidnapped five Western tourists in 1995 and is believed to have killed four of them. An American managed to escape. Sheikh Omar, presently on trial for the kidnap and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi in January last year, had earlier kidnapped some Western tourists near Delhi. They were subsequently freed by the police.

Non-religious terrorist groups in India have not carried out any act of terrorism outside Indian territory. Of the religious terrorist groups, a Sikh organisation blew up an Air India plane off the Irish coast and unsuccessfully tried to blow up another plane at Tokyo the same day, plotted to kill then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi during his visit to the US in June 1985 (the plot was foiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation), attacked the Indian ambassador in Bucharest, Romania, in October 1991, and carried out a number of attacks on pro-government members of the Sikh diaspora abroad. The JKLF kidnapped and killed an Indian diplomat in Birmingham, England, in 1984. In the 1970s, the Anand Marg had indulged in acts of terrorism in foreign countries.

None of the non-religious terrorist groups advocate the acquisition and use of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Of the religious groups, the Sikh and the indigenous Kashmiri terrorist groups did/do not advocate the acquisition and use of WMD. However, the Pakistani pan-Islamic groups, which are members of the IIF and which operate in J&K, support bin Laden's advocacy of the right and religious obligation of Muslims to acquire and use WMD to protect their religion, if necessary.

The Sikh terrorist groups did not cite their holy book as justification for their acts of terrorism, but the indigenous Kashmiri groups as well as the Pakistani jihadi groups operating in India cite the holy Koran as justification for their jihad against the government of India and the Hindus. 

The Sikh and the indigenous Kashmiri groups projected/project their objective as confined to their respective state, but the Pakistani pan-Islamic terrorist groups project their aim as extending to the whole of South Asia -- namely the liberation' of Muslims in India and the ultimate formation of an Islamic Caliphate consisting of the Muslim homelands' of India and Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The Sikh terrorist groups demanded an independent nation on the ground that Sikhs constituted a separate community and could not progress as fast as they wanted to in a Hindu-dominated country. They did not deride Hinduism and other non-Sikh religions. Nor did they call for the eradication of Hindu influences from their religion. The indigenous Kashmiri organisations, too, follow a similar policy. But the Pakistani pan-Islamic jihadi organisations ridicule and condemn Hinduism and other religions and call for the eradication of what they describe as the corrupting influence of Hinduism on Islam as practised in South Asia.

The Sikh and indigenous Kashmiri terrorist organisations believed/believe in Western-style parliamentary democracy. The Pakistani jihadi organisations project Western-style parliamentary democracy as anti-Islam since it believes sovereignty vests in people and not in God.

Religious as well as non-religious terrorist groups have external links with like-minded terrorist groups in other countries. Examples: The link between the Marxist groups of India with Maoist groups of Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; the link between the indigenous Kashmiri organisations with the religious, fundamentalist and jihadi organisations of Pakistan; the link between organisations such as the Students Islamic Movement of India with jihadi elements in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia; and the link between the Pakistani pan-Islamic jihadi organisations operating in India with bin Laden's Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The role of the diaspora

Religious as well as non-religious terrorist groups draw moral support and material sustenance from the overseas diaspora. The Khalistan movement was initially born in the overseas Sikh community in the UK and Canada and spread from there to Punjab in India. The indigenous Kashmiri organisations get material assistance from the large number of migrants from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, called the Mirpuris, who have settled in Western countries. The Marxist groups get support from the Marxist elements in the overseas Indian community. 


The following are the main sources of funding for terrorist and insurgent groups:

Clandestine contributions from Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.

Contributions from religious, fundamentalist and pan-Islamic jihadi organisations in Pakistan.

Contributions from ostensibly charitable organisations in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Contributions from trans-national criminal groups, such as the mafia group led by Dawood Ibrahim who operates from Karachi, Pakistan.

Extortions and ransom payments for releasing hostages.

Collections -- voluntary or forced -- from the people living in the area where they operate.

Narcotics smuggling. 

The funds are normally transmitted either through couriers or through the informal hawala channel. Rarely are funds transmitted through formal banking channels. 


Religious terrorist organisations have their main external sanctuaries in Pakistan and Bangladesh, while non-religious terrorist organisations look to Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. Some northeast non-religious terrorist groups also operate from Bangladesh, while certain religious groups get sanctuary in Nepal.

Since 1956, Pakistan has been using its sponsorship of and support to different terrorist groups operating in India as a strategic weapon to keep India preoccupied with internal security problems. Before the formation of Bangladesh in 1971, the then East Pakistan was the main sanctuary for non-religious terrorist groups operating in India. Since 1971, the present Pakistan, called West Pakistan before 1971, has been the main sanctuary for all Sikh and Muslim terrorist groups.

Pakistan has given sanctuary to 20 principal leaders of Sikh and Muslim terrorist groups, including hijackers of Indian aircraft and trans-national criminal groups colluding with terrorists. Despite strong evidence of their presence in Pakistani territory and active operation from there, its government has denied their presence and refused to act against them. It has also ignored Interpol's notices for apprehending them and handing them over to India.

For some years after 1971, the Bangladesh authorities acted vigorously against Indian groups operating from their territory. This has gradually diluted due to the collusion of the pro-Pakistan elements in Bangladesh's military-intelligence establishment with Pakistan's military-intelligence establishment, the collusion of Bangladesh's religious fundamentalist parties with their counterparts in Pakistan and the unwillingness or inability of successive governments in Dhaka to act against these elements.

In Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar, there is no collusion of the governments with the Indian terrorist groups operating from their territory. Their authorities have been trying to be help India as much as they can. However, their weak control over the territory from which the terrorists operate and their intelligence and security establishment does not allow for effective action against the terrorists.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Guns,Third World Countries,Alliances and Terrorism

When terrorism strikes victims are often unsuspecting and helpless. The reports of such attacks often make others feel anger towards the perpetrators of such attacks and in some instances can motivate individuals to seek out personal protection in the form of guns. Many see reports of terrorist activities on television or read about events in the newspapers and vow that should a similar situation happen to them, they will be ready. This can result in a large increase in gun sales following a well-publicized terrorist attack. This natural response to a perceived increased threat on personal safety can help stimulate the growth of companies related to the production of guns and weapons as well as ammunition.


The increase in the number of new gun owners means that there will be an influx of people who want to learn how to effectively use a gun. This translates into shooting clubs, shooting instructors, and safety instructors being supplied with a larger clientele base. 

Government Response

While the number of individuals that own a gun tends to increase following a terrorist attack, there is a higher level of scrutiny on gun control. The government of a country will usually respond to terrorist activity be reevaluating their current gun control statutes in order to prevent guns from being sold to terrorists. This can result in the tightening of gun control laws and may dissuade citizens from trying to purchase a gun due to the increased amount of red tape that is associated with purchasing a gun.


The overall economic outcome of such a combination of events makes it difficult to predict how gun sales will react in response to terrorist activities. On one hand there are more people who are motivated to buy a gun for protection. On the other hand, gun control laws usually become more stringent and can deter those that are not highly motivated from going through the necessary background checks and procedures that are created by a government in response to terrorism. Thus, each individual case is different and no country’s reaction is exactly the same in regards to gun control and terrorism. Therefore, there is no hard and fast way to predict whether terrorism has a positive or negative effect on gun sales across the board.

Terrorism and Third World Countries 

Terrorist attacks often kill thousands of people and send a clear message to millions of people in the developed countries of the world. News of such events reaches citizens almost instantaneously as CNN and other news providers seem to be live on location mere minutes following an attack. The spread of information regarding the terrorist attack is further spurred on by the internet and satellites which get reports to all four corners of the globe within seconds. With such a highly advanced and media-driven world it is difficult to avoid being made aware of a major terrorist attack or breaking news stories involving terrorism in any Third World country. 

Third World Countries

A small tribe in a thick African jungle is not globally connected to the internet. They have no television to watch CNN reports of a terrorist attack and are often unaware of such terrorist events. Third world countries are technologically less advanced in comparison to other developed nations, such as the United States, Japan, or Britain. This results in local economies not responding to news of such events because such news has little or no bearing on the local economy. For example, a small farming community in a Third World country does little or no importing or exporting of goods and relies only on economic factors that are geographically close to the local community. Thus, events in other parts of the world have less effect on their local economy in comparison to the global economy which reacts in a very volatile fashion following a large scale terrorist attack. 


With the more developed countries focusing more attention to restoring or stabilizing their own economies and making larger efforts to increase their national security, spending on foreign aid that could have possibly gone to help those in third world countries by providing food or medical care is often cut. The result is hunger and disease going unaided ultimately because of the terrorist activities that occurred. Thus, while a Third World country may not be locally affected or even aware of a terrorist event, they quite possibly could feel the fallout effects of spending cuts in the more developed countries due to terrorism.

Terrorism and Alliances 

Terrorism will generally result in a retaliatory response by the nation that is attacked. This response may or may not be seen by other nations as proper and may or may not be supported. Thus, countries that support a retaliatory action seem to be on the same side as the nation retaliating. Such an alliance signifies good will and can even help to perpetuate a positive relationship when such a retaliatory campaign finally comes to a close. 

Economic Effects

The economic effect of a strong alliance assures that there will be future strengthening and cohesion between the economies, often growth in trade, among other things. The result is often a strengthening of both of the nation’s respective economies. In essence, a traumatic event such as a terrorist attack can bring two or more nations together to fight side by side with a common goal in mind. This military alliance often lays the ground work for an economical alliance which can be beneficial to all parties involved. Such an alliance is often seen between the United States and Britain as the two nations typically share both an economical and a military alliance in today’s modern era. 

Left Out

Those countries that do not choose to takes sides with the eventual winner of a military struggle are often left with less of an economic advantage. For example, countries that allied themselves with Nazi Germany during World War II suffered the economic consequences once the Nazi alliance was defeated. In much the same way, countries that allied themselves with Britain and the United States in response to 9/11 attacks have had much more economic opportunity available to them through trade as a result of their military stance on terrorism. 


It seems that alliances against terrorism adhere to the old adage that states, “to the victor go the spoils.” It is historically advantageous for a nation to align themselves with the eventual winner of a military struggle if they wish to see economical reward for their military actions. Throughout history, those that align themselves with small terrorist organizations stand less of a chance to prosper financially than those that side with the larger and more powerful nations of the world. This is sound evidence that terrorism can be a rallying point around which nations can ban together to establish alliances in many areas of the political world.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Terrorism On Latin America and the Caribbean And More On Defense Spending

Latin America and the Caribbean

America’s importance in the world economy is well known and terrorist attacks that affect the spending habits of American’s cause a ripple effect across other countries in the world. Generally, a terrorist attack causes people to hold on tighter to their money during times of uncertainty. Consumers are less willing to spend and as a result the world’s economy will usually take a turn for the worst after a large scale attack. One region that is particularly tied into the spending habits of American consumers is Latin America and the Caribbean. This region relies heavily on tourism from Americans as well as tourists from such places as Canada and Britain.

Terrorism Effects

Terrorism results in more people staying closer to home which means that the tourism industry in Latin America and the Caribbean takes an especially hard hit because of the region’s strong reliance on tourism to support its local economies. For example, prior to the 9/11 attacks that scared many would-be American tourists from traveling outside of the United States, the Latin American and Caribbean economies were expected to see a 1.3 percent increase in overall economic growth. After the attacks, this prediction did not come to pass and the unexpected attacks left many of the Latin American and Caribbean local economies in shambles and thousands without jobs.

Industry Effects

Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that rely on shipping and exporting also take a hit when there are terrorist attacks around the world. Countries that experience attacks generally go through a period in which they rely less on importing because of the heightened awareness of security risks and the increased costs of maintaining security around port cities. As a result, Latin American and Caribbean countries pay a heavy price as the textile industry and agricultural industry see a financial downturn due to the decrease in the amount of goods that are exported from the region.


Latin America and the Caribbean countries have a large dependence on the wealth of countries outside the region and rely on such countries as the United States and those found in Europe and Asia to fuel much of the region’s economy. Such a dependence magnifies the effect that terrorism has on the spending habits of consumers around the world.
Defense Spending

In reaction to terrorist activities, governments often call for increases in defense spending. This often translates into tax hikes for the average citizen as governmental spending increases. While this may ease the minds of citizens and actually provide a higher level of security for a nation, the fact remains that every dollar that is given to the government is taken out of the cash flow of a nation’s natural market economy. The following highlights some of the effects of this trend and relates only to countries such as the United States that have at least somewhat of a market economy. Economies such as those of Communist regimes are exempt from the effects of the following because of the absence of market influence in the economy.


It can be argued that a war can be good for an economy since a war creates a new demand for supplies such as ammunition, planes, and other military supplies. This can create new jobs as the market responds to increased demands. Thus, terrorist activities that trigger an increase in defense spending can actually serve to stimulate the economy within certain sectors, especially those related to producing military supplies and weapons. Often, terrorism causes governments to increase regulation on imports and exports as well as beef up security on public transportation. The result is an increased demand for security personnel and regulatory agents which in turn creates more jobs.

New Offices

Another response to terrorism is the creation of new branches of government in order to keep a closer eye on terrorist activities and secure the individual country from attack. An example of such a creation is the Department of Homeland Security which was created in response to the 9/11 attacks on America and has served the dual purpose of creating more government jobs while at the same time working to protect the United States from future terrorist attacks.


As defense spending increases in response to terrorism, governments, both Federal and local, typically move other issues to the back burner. Healthcare, foreign aid, and education take a back seat to National Security at the expense of many. The United States increased its defense spending by nearly $100 billion between 2001 and 2003 in response to terrorism around the world. These budget increases made up for an estimated 45 percent of the total budget increases in the United States during that span. It is clear that when terrorism becomes the main priority of a nation, other government programs lose funding and are sometimes eliminated entirely.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Importing,Exporting,Tourism,Insurance And Terrorism

Importing And Exporting

Every country has its own special blend of natural resources that are indigenous to its particular region of the globe. These resources help to drive a country’s economy and fuel the markets around the world. However, very few countries can be entirely self-sufficient in every aspect of the marketplace. Even if a country does have the resources to produce all its basic products domestically, there is always a market for imported luxury items. The following highlights some of the ways in which terrorism impacts how importing and exporting is done throughout the world.


The threat of biological terrorism raises fears in regards to the importing and exporting of products from one country to another. Terrorists could possibly contaminate a shipment with a biological weapon, such as anthrax, in order to infect those that will receive the contaminated shipment. This has led to many countries making stronger regulations and taking security precautions to help deter the threat of biological contamination. 


The United States has responded to such threats by passing the Bio-Terrorism Act in 2002 which mandates that manufacturers of products that are considered food or beverage be registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before any shipments will be allowed to enter the United States. Along with the manufacturers being required to have registered with the FDA, notice of the actual shipment must be given to proper authorities before any foreign import will be allowed across the borders of the United States. 

Market Effects

The effects of heightened security surrounding the importing and exporting of goods result in higher costs passed onto the consumer. Such price increases serve to shape the financial world of importing and exporting. Due to higher costs, companies may decide that importing or exporting a particular product is no longer cost effective. If importing and exporting continues to occur, profit margins may be effected which will in turn hurt the overall performance of the company and its value on the market. This is how terrorism serves to shape the world economy by affecting the importing and exporting habits of virtually every nation around the globe.

Tourism and Terrorism 

For many, a vacation means taking time away from work in order to rejuvenate the mind and body and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. To others, vacations are a key part of livelihood. Countries and regions that depend on tourism to keep their economy afloat are especially susceptible to the negative effects that terrorism can have on tourism. The fear that is caused by terrorist attacks generally compels people to stay closer to home and to play it safe versus risking terrorist activity. The tourism and travel industry, together, are in a much better financial position when there is a minimal amount of terrorism.


The targeting of mass public transportation such as buses, planes, and trains for terrorist attacks has made many travelers leery of straying too far from home. Events such as subway bombings and plane hijackings serve to hurt the travel industry as well as the hotel industry, especially in Middle Eastern countries. Both India and Nepal experienced a massive drop in tourism after the September 11th attacks on America in 2001. The reason for this drop in tourism was because of their close proximity to Afghanistan and the subsequent war that followed the September 11th attacks. 

Industry Effects

Prior to the September 11th attacks that brought terrorism to the forefront of the world’s political scene, tourism was the world’s largest industry. Nearly 10 percent of all the jobs around the world were related to tourism and travel prior to the attacks. After the attacks of 9/11 the public’s reluctance to travel resulted in thousands of employees in the travel and tourism industry to lose their jobs. Since this initial market downturn, fears have cooled and the tourism industry has begun to slowly recover, but this example is an excellent reminder of how fine a line the tourism industry is walking. 


Any country that depends heavily on tourism for economical stability is playing with fire. The threat of a terrorist flare up can cause the loss of millions of dollars in revenue and cripple an economy. This realization has prompted many of the leaders of tourism dependent countries to begin efforts to promote other industry in their respective regions in order to safeguard their local economies should terrorism temporarily derail the tourism industry as it did after the September 11th attacks.

Terrorism and Insurance 

The basic concept of insurance is simple; pay a premium in exchange for the comfort of knowing that should a disaster occur, an insurance company will foot the bill. Therefore, it is only natural that insurance agencies evolve to offer higher levels of insurance against terrorist attacks in a world that has become increasingly aware of terrorism’s devastating effects. 


Many people in the private sector of insurance feel that since it is the government’s duty to provide security to the American public against terror attacks, the government should also help in the rebuilding process should an attack occur. Private insurance agencies are very skeptical about providing terrorism insurance because of the lessons learned from the damages incurred from such attacks as the September 11th attacks on America and the bombings in London in early 2005. The September 11th attacks alone caused the loss of $32.5 billion in insured damages. This was exponentially more costly than any other disaster that had ever been faced by the United States with the previous most costly disaster being Hurricane Andrew that struck in 1992 and caused an estimated $21 billion in damages.


Large companies, especially airlines, have seen insurance prices skyrocket due to the costs associated with insuring against terrorist attacks. Prior to 9/11, businesses were paying premiums that were substantially lower. For example, Chicago’s O’Hare airport was paying a monthly premium of around $125,000 before the events of 9/11 in order to receive $750 million worth of coverage. After 9/11, the premium rose to an estimated $6.9 million for a coverage of only $150 million. This is how terrorism affects the economical structure of the insurance industry. As the threat of attack rises, so do premiums, while the amount of coverage that is provided falls. This translates into business paying more and getting less.

Government Help

In response to the 9/11 attacks, the American government passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act in 2002 which was designed to allow the United States government to foot most of the bill should another catastrophic attack occur. The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act runs through 2005 and has many debating whether its renewal is needed or whether private insurance agencies should be left alone to insure America against terrorist attack. This illustrates the dilemma that is faced by all nations regarding what is the proper course of action in response to providing insurance against terrorist activities. The world seems to be divided between those that believe governments are responsible and those that want the private sector to take responsibility.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Air Travel Terrorism And Ethnic Businesses

It is not uncommon for an individual to have a fear of heights. Others fear moving at very high rates of speed. Combine these two fears together and you are left with a fear of flying. Although thousands of people travel on airplanes safely everyday, it is a logical fear to have. People are placing their lives in the hands of mechanical parts as well as other humans. This can be a scary proposition in itself, but coupled with the threat of terrorism the fear can be petrifying. Although the hijacking of planes is more common in movies than in real life, terrorist attacks such as those that happened in America on September 11, 2001, made the worst nightmare of many air travelers a horrifying reality.


Airplanes are excellent targets for terrorists for one simple reason, the helplessness that passengers have when on an aircraft. If a terrorist tries to take hostages on the ground, people can try and run, the police will soon arrive, and the situation is contained within one location. On an aircraft, there is nowhere to run, no police in sight, and the location of the hostage situation is constantly changing. This presents a very difficult problem to law enforcement who are incapable of defusing a situation.

Economic Effects 

The moment at which terrorists succeed at using airplanes to inspire fear in air travelers they have accomplished their aim. Since 9/11, the airline industry has been wracked with increasing economic problems, from security to increased ticket prices, to a drop in air travelers, along with a host of other fall-out factors. And, now, the increasing cost of oil is forcing once solid industry giants to lose their financial footing. 


Airlines have had to invest in expensive baggage and passenger scanning equipment, as well as hire many extra security personnel to help regain the public’s trust that air travel is safe. While such responses are necessary to secure the safety of passengers and ensure that further attacks are prevented, the resulting economic losses are large. This is why terrorist attacks that use airplanes have such a profound effect on society. Individuals lose their lives, fears are heightened, and companies lose money. Overall, terror in the air is a horrifying and effective way for terrorists to make their point and results in both economic and human loss that can permanently affect world markets.

Ethnic Businesses There has always been some level of distrust or prejudice between two peoples who are from different ethnic backgrounds. The United States’ history is an excellent example as blacks were forced to endure decades of unfair treatment as minorities. Practices such as ethnic cleansing can be found in places around the globe throughout the world’s history with the most publicized and large scale example coming from the Nazi Germany era when thousands of Jews were killed during Hitler’s terrorizing reign. Since the days of Nazi Germany and pre-Civil Rights America, many would like to think that society as a whole has moved forward from the primitive thinking that one race is superior to another. While this may be true to some extent, the fact remains that terrorist attacks can have a large impact promoting prejudices against certain ethnicities.Muslim ExampleAfter the events of 9/11, the American public was looking for someone to take the blame and the group that was deemed responsible for the terrorist actions was slated as radical Muslims that were bent on destroying America’s way of life. This triggered an across the board reaction against all Muslims. Muslims in America suddenly felt themselves being alienated from their communities and as a result, Muslim businesses suffered. Some American’s believed that all Muslims were in some way linked to the events of 9/11 and responded by boycotting or protesting against Muslim businesses. The financial difficulties that were faced by Muslim business owners and workers serve as an example of how today’s society is not immune to prejudice and how this prejudice can affect the economic structure of a whole society.Guilt by AssociationThe human mind is quick to associate meaning to characteristics that can at times be unrelated. In the case of ethnicity being related to terrorism, many around the world are willing to make such a jump all too quickly and at the expense of the financial status of the ethnic group that is accused of being associated with terrorism. The prejudice that was spawned in the aftermath of 9/11 served to remind the world that guilt by association can be costly to everyone involved and is an unfair practice that should be left to grace only the pages of history books in the interest of bettering the world’s economy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oil and Terrorism

Terrorists typically have a cause that they believe in very strongly and they commit terrorist acts because they feel it is the most effective way to get their message heard. Terrorists believe that if they can cause enough devastation, that they will be taken seriously and that their message will reach the most people possible. They send strong messages to outsiders by the killing of innocent people and often capture the attention of many with these actions. However, as terrible as these human losses are, they are often not as effective as hurting others economically over long periods of time. When the anger of such attacks has faded, the financial aspects of an attack are left that continue to send out ripples. For this reason many terrorists have turned to oil as a weapon of terror.


Terrorists recognize the dependency of much of the civilized world on oil. Terrorists know that entire economies are based on the importing and exporting of oil and realize that in order for many businesses to operate, transportation is needed and in order to have transportation, there must be oil. This is why terrorists have turned to suicide bombings and other horrific measures to destroy oil supplies. Attacks on oil sources force the price of oil upward, increase erratic market behavior and gets the attention of oil dependent countries.


The reaction to such attacks on oil supplies is always to increase security. In recent years, there has been a movement towards finding alternative forms of energy. This would result in less harm to the environment due to the reduced amount of fossil fuel usage as well as take away this key weapon that is often used by terrorists. Terrorists may be able to destroy hundreds of oil drums, but it is next to impossible to take away an energy source such as solar power.


An increase in oil prices means an increase in shipping costs. This hurts virtually every business that relies on the producing of products to make profits. Oil products must be shipped in order to reach consumers. The increase in shipping costs can eat into a company’s bottom line and cause a decrease in stock value on the market. Thus, the company makes less money, the stockholders suffer, and the market as a whole takes a hit. With so many negatives associated with terrorism on oil supplies, it is easy to see why measures are being taken to stop such acts as well as reduce the economies of the world’s dependence upon oil

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Terrorism And World Market

Terrorism and the Market 

Terrorism is a real threat to all nations in the world. Wherever there are different groups of people, there are sure to be conflicting ideas. Some of the differences in opinions and beliefs lead radicals to turn to terrorism to push their ideas onto others and to send messages that result in the death or injury of many. While this tactic is frowned upon by society as a whole, it is all too real a danger to ignore. The human tragedies that result from terrorist acts are horrifying and the economical impacts that follow terrorism can be almost as devastating. 


Terrorism can bring an economy to its knees because of fear. Businesses may be afraid to operate as normal because of fear that another attack will happen. Increased costs in security can cause companies to fall on economic hard time ultimately decreasing the value of their stocks and hurting shareholders. One such example of this phenomenon is the resulting collapse of small or floundering airlines after the September 11th attacks on Americans in 2001. Fear can often lead to erratic stock market behavior. Those that play the stock market are looking for predictability and a terrorist attack provides anything but a stable market.


Although the typical reaction of the market to a terrorist attack is an immediate downturn, the initial panic, fear, and shock does wear off. This has historically resulted in markets recovering from their short term slumps and even going on to long term bull periods. Such turnarounds were witnessed after terrorist acts like the Kennedy assignation, the World Trade Center Bombing, and the Oklahoma City Bombing. The market turnaround is attributed to many things ranging from a society that bonds together to overcome tragedy to changes in security that make people feel more secure and more confident than before. 

Human Loss

The loss of human life is undoubtedly the tragic side of terrorism. The effects of the deaths of loved ones are tremendous. The business world does not go unaffected by these human losses; the loss in labor force and other key players in a company can cause significant negative effects. During the September 11th attack, the lives of many were lost, including top level executives from Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, American Express, and many other publicly traded companies. Not only did these companies lose a corps of wonderful human beings, but many lost their most important leaders and thinkers. The result was a tragedy for the victims’ families and the companies, as well.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Information Awareness Office

The Information Awareness Office (IAO) was established by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in January 2002 to bring together several DARPA projects focused on applying information technology to counter asymmetric threats to national security. The IAO mission was to "imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate and transition information technologies, components and prototype, closed-loop, information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness".

Following public criticism that the development and deployment of these technologies could potentially lead to a mass surveillance system, the IAO was defunded by Congress in 2003, although several of the projects run under IAO have continued under different funding.

Diagram of Total Information Awareness system, taken from official (decommissioned) Information Awareness Office website  

The IAO was established after Admiral John Poindexter, former United States National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan and SAIC executive Brian Hicks approached the US Department of Defense with the idea for an information awareness program after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Poindexter and Hicks had previously worked together on intelligence-technology programs for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA agreed to host the program and appointed Poindexter to run it in 2002

The IAO began funding research and development of the Total Information Awareness (TIA) Program in February 2003 but renamed the program the Terrorism Information Awareness Program in May that year after an adverse media reaction to the program's implications for public surveillance. Although TIA was only one of several IAO projects, many critics and news reports conflated TIA with other related research projects of the IAO, with the result that TIA came in popular usage to stand for an entire subset of IAO programs.

The TIA program itself was the "systems-level" program of the IAO that intended to integrate information technologies into a prototype system to provide tools to better detect, classify, and identify potential foreign terrorists with the goal to increase the probability that authorized agencies of the United States could preempt adverse actions. As a systems-level program of programs, TIA's goal was the creation of a "counterterrorism information architecture" that integrated technologies from other IAO programs (and elsewhere, as appropriate). The TIA program was researching, developing, and integrating technologies to virtually aggregate data, to follow subject-oriented link analysis, to develop descriptive and predictive models through data mining or human hypothesis, and to apply such models to additional datasets to identify terrorists and terrorist groups.

Among the other IAO programs that were intended to provide TIA with component data aggregation and automated analysis technologies were the Genisys, Genisys Privacy Protection, Evidence Extraction and Link Discovery, and Scalable Social Network Analysis programs.

On August 2, 2002, Dr. Poindexter gave a speech at DARPAtech 2002 entitled "Overview of the Information Awareness Office"in which he described the TIA program.

In addition to the program itself, the involvement of Poindexter as director of the IAO also raised concerns among some, since he had been earlier convicted of lying to Congress and altering and destroying documents pertaining to the Iran-Contra Affair, although those convictions were later overturned on the grounds that the testimony used against him was protected.

On January 16, 2003, Senator Russ Feingold introduced legislation to suspend the activity of the IAO and the Total Information Awareness program pending a Congressional review of privacy issues involved.A similar measure introduced by Senator Ron Wyden would have prohibited the IAO from operating within the United States unless specifically authorized to do so by Congress, and would have shut the IAO down entirely 60 days after passage unless either the Pentagon prepared a report to Congress assessing the impact of IAO activities on individual privacy and civil liberties or the President certified the program's research as vital to national security interests. In February 2003, Congress passed legislation suspending activities of the IAO pending a Congressional report of the office's activities (Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003, No.108–7, Division M,  [signed Feb. 20, 2003]).

In response to this legislation, DARPA provided Congress on May 20, 2003 with a report on its activities.In this report, IAO changed the name of the program to the Terrorism Information Awareness Program and emphasized that the program was not designed to compile dossiers on US citizens, but rather to research and develop the tools that would allow authorized agencies to gather information on terrorist networks. Despite the name change and these assurances, the critics continued to see the system as prone to potential misuse or abuse.

As a result House and Senate negotiators moved to prohibit further funding for the TIA program by adding provisions to the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2004 (signed into law by President Bush on October 1, 2003). Further, the Joint Explanatory Statement included in the conference committee report specifically directed that the IAO as program manager for TIA be terminated immediately.

IAO research

IAO research was conducted along five major investigative paths: secure collaboration problem solving; structured discovery; link and group understanding; context aware visualization; and decision making with corporate memory.

Among the IAO projects were:


Babylon to develop rapid, two-way, natural language speech translation interfaces and platforms for the warfighter for use in field environments for force protection, refugee processing, and medical triage.


Bio-Surveillance to develop the necessary information technologies and resulting prototype capable of detecting the covert release of a biological pathogen automatically, and significantly earlier than traditional approaches.

Diagram (from official IAO site) describing capabilities of the "Communicator" project

Communicator was to develop "dialogue interaction" technology that enables warfighters to talk with computers, such that information will be accessible on the battlefield or in command centers without ever having to touch a keyboard. The Communicator Platform was to be both wireless and mobile, and to be designed to function in a networked environment.

The dialogue interaction software was to interpret the context of the dialogue in order to improve performance, and to be capable of automatically adapting to new topics (because situations quickly change in war) so conversation is natural and efficient. The Communicator program emphasized task knowledge to compensate for natural language effects and noisy environments. Unlike automated translation of natural language speech, which is much more complex due to an essentially unlimited vocabulary and grammar, the Communicator program is directed task specific issues so that there are constrained vocabularies (the system only needs to be able to understand language related to war). Research was also started to focus on foreign language computer interaction for use in supporting coalition operations.

Live exercises were conducted involving small unit logistics operations involving the United States Marines to test the technology in extreme environments.

Effective Affordable Reusable Speech-to-text (EARS)

Effective Affordable Reusable Speech-to-text (EARS) to develop automatic speech-to-text transcription technology whose output is substantially richer and much more accurate than previously possible. EARS was to focus on everyday human-to-human speech from broadcasts and telephone conversations in multiple languages.It is expected to increase the speed with which speech can be processed by computers by 100 times or more.

The intent is to create a core enabling technology (technology that is used as a component for future technologies) suitable for a wide range of future surveillance applications.

Evidence Extraction and Link Discovery

Evidence Extraction and Link Discovery (EELD) development of technologies and tools for automated discovery, extraction and linking of sparse evidence contained in large amounts of classified and unclassified data sources (such as phone call records from the NSA call database or b0ank records).

EELD was designed to design systems with the ability to extract data from multiple sources (e.g., text messages, social networking sites, financial records, and web pages. It was to develop the ability to detect patterns comprising multiple types of links between data items or people communicating (e.g., financial transactions, communications, travel, etc.).

It is designed to link items relating potential "terrorist" groups and scenarios, and to learn patterns of different groups or scenarios to identify new organizations and emerging threats.

Futures Markets Applied to Prediction (FutureMAP)

Futures Markets Applied to Prediction (FutureMAP) was intended to harness collective intelligence by researching prediction market techniques for avoiding surprise and predicting future events. The intent was to explore the feasibility of market-based trading mechanisms to predict political instability, threats to national security, and other major events in the near future.


Genisys aimed at developing technologies which would enable "ultra-large, all-source information repositories".

Vast amounts of information were going to be collected and analyzed, and the available database technology at the time was insufficient for storing and organizing such vast quantities of data. So they developed techniques for virtual data aggregation in order to support effective analysis across heterogeneous databases, as well as unstructured public data sources, such as the World Wide Web. "Effective analysis across heterogenous databases" means the ability to take things from databases which are designed to store different types of data—such as a database containing criminal records, a phone call database and a foreign intelligence database. The World Wide Web is considered an "unstructured public data source" because it is publicly accessible and contains many different types of data—such as blogs, emails, records of visits to web sites, etc—all of which need to be analyzed and stored efficiently.

Another goal was to develop "a large, distributed system architecture for managing the huge volume of raw data input, analysis results, and feedback, that will result in a simpler, more flexible data store that performs well and allows us to retain important data indefinitely. "

Genoa / Genoa II

Genoa and Genoa II focused on providing advanced decision-support and collaboration tools to rapidly deal with and adjust to dynamic crisis management and allow for inter-agency collaboration in real-time.Another function was to be able to intelligently make estimates of possible future scenarios to assist intelligence officials what to do, in a manner similar to the DARPA's Deep Green program which is designed to assist Army commanders in making battlefield decisions.

Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID)
Diagram (from official IAO site) describing capabilities of the "Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID)" project

The Human Identification at a Distance (HumanID) project developed automated biometric identification technologies to detect, recognize and identify humans at great distances for "force protection", crime prevention, and "homeland security/defense" purposes.

Its goals included programs to:
Develop algorithms for locating and acquiring subjects out to 150 meters (500 ft) in range.
Fuse face and gait recognition into a 24/7 human identification system.
Develop and demonstrate a human identification system that operates out to 150 meters (500 ft) using visible imagery.
Develop a low power millimeter wave radar system for wide field of view detection and narrow field of view gait classification.
Characterize gait performance from video for human identification at a distance.
Develop a multi-spectral infrared and visible face recognition system.

Scalable Social Network Analysis

Scalable Social Network Analysis (SSNA) aimed at developing techniques based on social network analysis for modeling the key characteristics of terrorist groups and discriminating these groups from other types of societal groups.

Sean McGahan, of Northeastern University said the following in his study of SSNA:

The purpose of the SSNA algorithms program is to extend techniques of social network analysis to assist with distinguishing potential terrorist cells from legitimate groups of people ... In order to be successful SSNA will require information on the social interactions of the majority of people around the globe. Since the Defense Department cannot easily distinguish between peaceful citizens and terrorists, it will be necessary for them to gather data on innocent civilians as well as on potential terrorists.
                                                                                                                                   —Sean McGahan


Translingual Information Detection, Extraction and Summarization (TIDES) developing advanced language processing technology to enable English speakers to find and interpret critical information in multiple languages without requiring knowledge of those languages.

Outside groups (such as universities, corporations, etc) were invited to participate in the annual information retrieval, topic detection and tracking, automatic content extraction, and machine translation evaluations run by NIST.[20]

Wargaming the Asymmetric Environment (WAE)

Wargaming the Asymmetric Environment (WAE) focused on developing automated technology capable of identifying predictive indicators of terrorist activity or impending attacks by examining individual and group behavior in broad environmental context and examining the motivation of specific terrorists.

Components of TIA projects that continue to be developed

Despite the withdrawal of funding for the TIA and the closing of the IAO, the core of the project survived.Legislators included a classified annex to the Defense Appropriations Act that preserved funding for TIA's component technologies, if they were transferred to other government agencies. TIA projects continued to be funded under classified annexes to Defense and Intelligence appropriation bills. However, the act also stipulated that the technologies only be used for military or foreign intelligence purposes against foreigners.

TIA's two core projects are now operated by Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA) located among the 60-odd buildings of "Crypto City" at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, MD. ARDA itself has been shifted from the NSA to the Disruptive Technology Office (run by to the Director of National Intelligence). They are funded by National Foreign Intelligence Program for foreign counterterrorism intelligence purposes.

One technology, now codenamed "Baseball" is the Information Awareness Prototype System, the core architecture to integrated all the TIA's information extraction, analysis, and dissemination tools. Work on this project is conducted by SAIC through its Hicks & Associates, consulting arm that is run by former Defense and military officials and which had originally been awarded US$19 million IAO contract to build the prototype system in late 2002.

The other project has been re-designated "TopSail" (formerly Genoa II) and would provide IT tools to help anticipate and preempt terrorist attacks. SAIC has also been contracted to work on Topsail, including a US$3.7 million contract in 2005.

Media Coverage

The first mention of the IAO in the mainstream media came from New York Times reporter John Markoff on February 13, 2002.Initial reports contained few details about the program. In the following months, as more information emerged about the scope of the TIA project, civil libertarians became concerned over what they saw as the potential for the development of an Orwellian mass surveillance system.

On November 14, 2002 the New York Times published a column by William Safire in which he claimed "[TIA] has been given a $200 million budget to create computer dossiers on 300 million Americans."Safire has been "credited" with triggering the anti-TIA movement.

Concerns and criticism

Critics believe that massive information aggregation and analysis technologies are a grave threat to privacy and civil liberties. Many fear that allowing a government to monitor all communications, and map social networks will give them the ability to target dissenters or political threats. Critics claim that this concern is not unfounded, citing COINTELPRO and other government programs that targeted peaceful political activists in the U.S. Programs such as those the IAO funded would greatly enhance their ability to identify, track, infiltrate, and target such groups. Such a system of surveillance is a necessary component of a strong totalitarian state.

Proponents believe that development of these technologies is inevitable and that designing systems and policies to control their use is a more effective strategy than opposition.

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