Mason launched two Standard Missile-2s (SM-2s) and a single Enhanced Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) to intercept the two missiles that were launched about 7 P.M. local time. In addition to the missiles, the ship used its Nulka anti-ship missile decoy
Sam LaGrone reports: The crew of a guided-missile destroyer fired three missiles to defend themselves and another ship after being attacked on Sunday in the Red Sea by two presumed cruise missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthi-forces, USNI News has learned.
During the attack against USS Mason (DDG-87), the ship’s crew fired the missiles to defend the guided-missile destroyer and nearby USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) from two suspected cruise missiles fired from the Yemini shore, two defense officials told USNI News.
Mason launched two Standard Missile-2s (SM-2s) and a single Enhanced Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) to intercept the two missiles that were launched about 7 P.M. local time. In addition to the missiles, the ship used its Nulka anti-ship missile decoy, the sources confirmed. Mason was operating in international waters north of the strait of Bab el-Mandeb at the time of the attack.
According to a defense official on Monday, Mason “employed onboard defensive measures” against the first suspected cruise missile, “although it is unclear whether this led to the missile striking the water or whether it would have struck the water anyway.” The official did not specify that the defensive measure was a missile fired from the ship.
USNI News understands, as of Monday, the crew of the ship was uncertain if the suspected cruise missile was taken out by an SM-2 or went into the water on its own. In the Monday statement, the Pentagon said an investigation was ongoing.
The second missile launched from Yemen hit the water without being struck by a U.S. interceptor, the Pentagon said. Read the rest of this entry »
John Broman writes: Eyad Ismoil is one of the half-dozen men convicted for carrying out the World Trade Center bombings in 1993. Born in Kuwait to a Palestinian father and Jordanian mother, he was sentenced to 240 years in prison for driving a rental van packed with a bomb into a garage, killing six and injuring about 1000 more. (During his trial, he maintained that he was innocent and did not know what was inside the truck.) But 20 years after his arrest and burial deep inside the dungeons of the ADX Super Max facility in Colorado, Ismoil was moved to the general population here in West Virginia at USP Hazelton, the high-security federal prison where I reside.
Ismoil is my coworker in one of the resource centers on the compound that gives inmates an opportunity to break free from the gambling, drugs, and violence that makes up a monotonous prison life. I find him to be an extremely intelligent and humble man; for someone who’s supposed to “hate the infidels,” he shows no signs of loathing towards the many prisoners and staff who openly despise him.
Still, Ismoil’s ethnicity and the nature of his crime make him a target. Every horrific event that pops up on the news increases the disdain for him even more, but after talking with the guy, I found myself less than shocked at the eruption of radical Islamic terrorism over the past two decades. Indeed, when I first asked Ismoil about ISIS after the Paris attacks, he asked me one question back: “Why do you think they did it?”
I responded with the only thing I knew: “They hate us.”
He smiled and rolled his eyes, as if to say I knew nothing. So it was that an unlikely acquaintanceship between a hippie bank robber from Pittsburgh and a convicted terrorist from the Middle East was born.
Recently I sat down at a table with the thin, bearded 44-year-old Muslim, to get his views on the Islamic State, the mass shooting in San Bernardino, and other tragedies like the Planned Parenthood attack in Colorado. He said that to resolve the conflicts between extremists in the Middle East and the West, it was important to talk “human to human,” but he also made it clear that he empathizes at least somewhat with the Islamic State. Unsurprisingly, many of his views would be considered appalling to the vast majority of Americans, but our conversation gave me a window into the worldview of people who think the US is to blame for terrorism.
VICE: As an Islamic terrorist from an earlier generation, what’s your sense of who the Islamic State’s members are and where they came from?
Eyad Ismoil: ISIS is not jihadists recruited from all over to fight. They are the Sunni Muslims that have lived through 25 years of wars, torture, and rapes. They are the Iraqi and Syrian people that have suffered from unjust wars started by the US government. And when the US government [mostly pulled out of] Iraq in 2010, the Shia and Maliki government started killing the Sunni day and night under the watch of the Americans.
The US response was, “This is an internal problem. We don’t want to interfere with their business.” The show Rise of ISIS showed this, even though they tried to spin it like ISIS are aliens from another planet trying to take advantage of the massacres that the Shia—the government of Iraq—is doing to the Sunni and to get people to pledge.
But the fact that every Arab and Muslim knows is [that] ISIS is the native people of Iraq and Syria. That’s why the head of ISIS is Abu Bakr Baghdadi. He was a prisoner in an American prison in Iraq during the occupation for about four years and is known to be a scholar from the prophet’s family. They are a very big family in Iraq. That’s why [many] of the Sunni pledge to him.
You don’t have to recruit people for ISIS. They’re Muslims from all over the world that have seen an injustice after 25 years and want to help their brothers. What you have to understand is the Iraqi people are the most stubborn of the Muslim world. They won’t accept occupation or humiliation.
Day after day, all these things add up ’til the volcano erupts, and that is what’s happening in Iraq and Syria under the name ISIS.
Were you surprised by the Islamic State attack in Paris?
People over in America ask why ISIS did this. [But] people in the Middle East ask, “Why is the US doing this to us?” Put yourself in their shoes—France is dropping bombs for a year in Iraq and [more recently] Syria, destroying everything, women, children, buildings… A bomb doesn’t discriminate between ISIS or women and children—it just destroys. Read the rest of this entry »
PARIS (AP) — The latest on the recovery from and investigation into the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people. All times local: 2:35 p.m.
Cazeneuve told reporters it was the first time mosques are being closed in France “on grounds of radicalization.”
One of the mosques, 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Paris in Lagny-sur-Marne, was targeted by raids early Wednesday, with police seizing a 9mm revolver, a computer hard disc and jihadist propaganda. Cazeneuve said the mosque also had a non-authorized Quranic school….(read more)
Source: Weasel Zippers
‘Everybody Knows Who killed Her and Why’: Gunmen Kill Prominent Female Activist Sabeen Mahmud in PakistanPosted: April 25, 2015
Friends are calling it an assassination
(KARACHI, Pakistan)— Adil Jawad reports: Gunmen on a motorcycle killed a prominent women’s rights activist in Pakistan just hours after she held a forum on the country’s restive Baluchistan region, home to a long-running insurgency, police said Saturday.
While investigators declined to speculate on a motive for the killing of Sabeen Mahmud, friends and colleagues immediately described her death as a targeted assassination in Pakistan, a country with a nascent democracy where the military and intelligence services still hold tremendous sway.
The gunmen shot both Mahmud and her mother, Mehnaz Mahmud, as they stopped at a traffic light Friday night in an upscale Karachi neighborhood, senior police officer Zafar Iqbal said. Later, Mahmud’s car was brought to a nearby police station; blood stained the car’s white exterior, the front driver’s side window was smashed and a pair of sandals sat on the floor, surrounded by broken glass.
“Two men riding a motorcycle opened fire on the car,” Iqbal said. Mahmud “died on her way to the hospital. Her mother was also wounded,” he said.
Alia Chughtai, a close friend of Mahmud, told The Associated Press that Mahmud was driving at the time of attack and her mother was sitting next to her. Chughtai said Mahmud’s driver, who escaped unharmed, was sitting in the back seat at the time of the attack. She said she did not know why the driver wasn’t driving the car.
Iqbal and other police officials declined to speculate on a motive for the slaying. However, earlier that night, Mahmud hosted an event at her organization called The Second Floor to discuss human rights in Baluchistan, an impoverished but resource-rich southwestern province bordering Iran.
Thousands of people have disappeared from Baluchistan province in recent years amid a government crackdown on nationalists and insurgent groups there. Activists blame the government and intelligence agencies for the disappearances, something authorities deny. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING: Al-Qaeda Celebrates Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy Success by Capturing Major Airport in Southern YemenPosted: April 16, 2015
Al Qaeda overran the city itself earlier this month and freed inmates, including a militant commander, from its prison.
AHMED AL-HAJ reports: Military officials and residents say al-Qaida has taken control of a major airport in southern Yemen after briefly clashing with troops.
“Nasser Baqazouz, an activist in the city, said the troops guarding the airport put up little resistance.”
The officials say al-Qaida fighters clashed Thursday with members of the infantry brigade in charge of protecting the Riyan airport in the city of Mukalla, a major port city and the provincial capital of Yemen‘s largest province, Hadramawt.
Al-Qaida overran the city itself earlier this month and freed inmates, including a militant commander, from its prison. Read the rest of this entry »
The president’s desperation for a foreign-policy legacy is leading toward a bad nuclear deal—and a dangerous one
“The Arab world has entered a war phase that may go for decades. Its special threat is that the struggle is not only an essential one—Sunni vs. Shia, in a fight to the end—but that it engenders and is marked by what British Prime Minister David Cameron has called ‘the death cult.’ Many in the fight have no particular fear of summoning the end of the world.”
Syria, red lines, an exploding Mideast, a Russian president who took the American’s measure and made a move, upsetting a hard-built order that had maintained for a quarter-century since the fall of the Soviet Union—what a mess.
In late February, at a Washington meeting of foreign-policy intellectuals, Henry Kissinger summed up part of the past six years: “Ukraine has lost Crimea; Russia has lost Ukraine; the U.S. has lost Russia; the world has lost stability.”
“Nuclear proliferation has been a problem for so long that we no longer talk or think about it. But in the current moment in the Mideast, we’re not talking ‘nuclear proliferation’ in the abstract. It’s more like talking about the spread of nuclear weapons among the inmates of an institution for the criminally insane.”
What Barack Obama needs is a foreign-policy win, and not only for reasons of legacy. He considers himself a serious man, he wants to deal constructively with a pressing, high-stakes international question, and none fits that description better than Iran and nuclear weapons. And so the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Here is the fact. The intention behind a deal—to stop Iran from developing, and in the end using, nuclear weapons—could not be more serious and crucial. The Arab world has entered a war phase that may go for decades. Its special threat is that the struggle is not only an essential one—Sunni vs. Shia, in a fight to the end—but that it engenders and is marked by what British Prime Minister David Cameron has called “the death cult.” Many in the fight have no particular fear of summoning the end of the world.
“There are many reasons nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945. One is that the U.S. was not evil and the Soviet Union was not crazy. It was also a triumph of diplomacy, of imperfect but ultimately sound strategic thinking, that kept the unthinkable from happening.”
Once Iran has what used to be called the bomb, there will be a race among nearby nations—Persian Gulf states, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey—to get their own. As each state builds its arsenal, there will be an increased chance that freelancers, non-states and sub-states will get their hands on parts of it.
The two most boring words in history are “nuclear proliferation.” Jimmy Carter made them so on Oct. 28, 1980, when, in a presidential debate, he announced that his 12-year-old daughter, Amy, had told him that the great issue of the day was the control of nuclear arms. America laughed: So that’s where the hapless one gets his geopolitical insights. Read the rest of this entry »
Kenya’s Garissa University College Attacked by Masked Gunman, CEC Health Reports 30 Casualties Taken to Hospital, 4 ‘Very Serious’Posted: April 2, 2015
Alexander Smith reports: At least two people were killed and 30 others injured after armed attackers stormed a college in Kenya on Thursday, officials said.
The attackers “shot indiscriminately” inside the compound of Garissa University College, prompting an hours-long gun battle with security forces, Kenya’s National Police Service said in a statement.
The attack comes three days after President Barack Obama announced he would visit the East African country in July.
#GarissaAttack According to CEC Health 30 casualties taken to hospital. 4 are very serious. Majority of Casualties have gunshot wounds.
— Kenya Red Cross (@KenyaRedCross) April 2, 2015
The country’s National Disaster Operation Center said two people had been killed in the incident, according to Reuters. The Kenya Red Cross said 30 people had been injured, four of which were “very serious.” Read the rest of this entry »
Saudi ambassador to the United States Adel al-Jubeir announced the military operation in a news conference in Washington. He said his government had consulted closely with the U.S. and other allies but that the U.S. military was not involved in the operations.
The White House said in a statement late Wednesday that the U.S. was coordinating military and intelligence support with the Saudis but not taking part directly in the strikes.
Other regional players were involved in the Saudi operation: The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain joined Saudi Arabia in a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency, saying they would answer a request from Hadi “to protect Yemen and his dear people from the aggression of the Houthi militias which were and are still a tool in the hands of foreign powers that don’t stop meddling with the security and stability of brotherly Yemen.” Oman, the sixth member of the Gulf Cooperation Council, didn’t sign onto the statement.
Egypt also announced political and military support. “There is coordination ongoing now with Saudi Arabia and the brotherly gulf countries about preparations to participate with an Egyptian air and naval forces and ground troops if necessary,” it said in a statement carried by the state news agency.
Pakistan, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan were also joining the operation, the Saudi Press Agency reported Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »
Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir says the operations began at 7 p.m. Eastern time.
He says the Houthis, widely believed to be backed by Iran, “have always chosen the path of violence.” He declined to say whether the Saudi campaign involved U.S. intelligence assistance.
Al-Jubeir made the announcement at a rare news conference by the Sunni kingdom.
He says the Saudis “will do anything necessary” to protect the people of Yemen and “the legitimate government of Yemen.” Read the rest of this entry »
In a statement ABC’s Jon Karl found “astounding,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest continued to call the United States’s activities in Yemen as a “model” for counter-terrorism — even as the Arabic nation’s government collapses and international terrorist groups move in.
“The White House does continue to believe that a successful counter-terrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to take the fight to extremists in their own country. That is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat that we face from extremists in place like Yemen and Somalia.”
As al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula gained power in Yemen’s north over the past few years, the Obama administration responded with a relatively hands-off approach. The U.S. government helped build up, support and train government forces fighting the terrorists while providing air reconnaissance and, occasionally, drone strikes against high-value targets in the country.
It was a plan that the Obama administration frequently held up as a successful example of U.S. counter-terrorism strategy. But as Shi’ite Houthi rebels continue to drive the Yemeni government from power, and fighters from the al-Qaida and the Islamic State conduct terrorist attacks and consolidate their forces, many have called the American strategy to help stabilize the nation fundamentally flawed. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael J. Totten reports: Suicide-bombers killed at least 137 people and wounded more than 350 in Yemen at two Shia mosques in the capital city of Sanaa on Friday. The very next day, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seized control of the city of al-Houta, and the day after that, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebel movement conquered parts of Taiz, the nation’s third-largest city. Rival militias are battling for control of the international airport in the coastal city of Aden, and the US government just announced that American troops are evacuating Al Anad airbase.
ISIS is taking credit for the Sanaa attacks. “Infidel Houthis should know that the soldiers of the Islamic State will not rest,” it said, “until they eradicate them and cut off the arm of the Safavid (Iranian) plan in Yemen.” Al Qaeda has a much larger footprint in Yemen, so the ISIS claim is a little bit dubious, but ISIS is on the rise there and its attitude toward Shia Muslims is more bloodthirsty—more explicitly genocidal as the quote above shows—than Al Qaeda’s.
Regardless of who committed the latest round of atrocities, everything in Yemen is about to become much, much worse. The region-wide storm of sectarian hatred has been gathering strength by the year for more than a decade, and it blew the roof off Yemen earlier this year when the Houthis, who are Shias, seized control of the capital and sent Sunni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi into semi-exile in Aden.
[Order Michael J. Totten‘s book “Tower of the Sun: Stories from the Middle East and North Africa” from Amazon.com]
The Houthis see their takeover of the city and government institutions as a natural progression of the revolution in 2011 that toppled former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, but it isn’t, not really. While they enjoy some backing beyond their Shia support base, the sectarian dimension is inescapable. Shias make up almost half the population, and the Sunni majority is keenly aware that minorities in the Middle East are capable of seizing power and lording it over everyone else—especially if they’re sponsored by a regional mini superpower like Iran. Syria has been ruled by the Iranian-backed Alawite minority for decades, and Saddam Hussein used brute force to bring the Sunni minority to power in Iraq.
Still, the Houthis have virtually no chance of ruling the entire country. Their “territory,” so to speak, is restricted to the northwestern region surrounding the capital. Previous governments had a rough go of it too. South Yemen was a communist state—the so-called People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen—until the Soviet Union finally ruptured, and four years after unification with North Yemen, the armed forces of each former half declared war on each other. Read the rest of this entry »
Christine Mai-Duc reports: A senior State Department official who oversees counter-terrorism programs has been arrested on suspicion of of soliciting sex from a minor, authorities in Virginia said late Tuesday.
“We are aware that a State Department employee has been arrested and charges have been issued…His security clearance will be suspended, and he will be put on administrative leave while this proceeds to its end through any judicial process.”
— State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki
Daniel Rosen was arrested at his home in Washington, D.C., just after noon and is being held in the city’s jail on suspicion of use of a communications device to solicit a juvenile, said Lucy Caldwell, spokeswoman for the Fairfax County Police Department.
Fairfax county VA police confirm arrest of senior State Department official Dan Rosen for allegedly soliciting sex from a minor.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 25, 2015
According to Caldwell, Rosen’s arrest was the result of an online exchange between him and detectives in her agency’s Child Exploitation Unit.
He is expected to be extradited to the Fairfax County jail soon.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Rosen, 44, is the director of counter-terrorism programs and policy for the State Department. Police said they have notified the State Department of his arrest.
“We are aware that a State Department employee has been arrested and charges have been issued,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. Psaki declined to name the employee or the charges, citing privacy reasons. Read the rest of this entry »
Largest Protest Since Houthis Rebels Swept into the Capital
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Tens of thousands of Yemenis marched in protest on Saturday against Shiite rebels who hold the capital, amid a power vacuum in a country that is home to what Washington describes as al-Qaida‘s most dangerous offshoot.
Some 20,000 hit the streets of the capital, Sanaa, where demonstrators converged on the house of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who resigned Thursday along with his Cabinet. It was the largest protest since the rebels, known as Houthis, swept into the capital in September.
Protesters carried banners and chanted slogans denouncing the rebels and demanding the restoration of the president. Scuffles involving knives and batons broke out in one instance in Sanaa when the rebels tried to block one procession, leaving two demonstrators and one Houthi injured. Read the rest of this entry »