Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Green On Blue Close to Home

A little over a year ago I left ISAF Joint Command headquarters at the Kabul International Airport. One of my jobs as an intelligence analyst was to research and gather information on insider attackers and help get as many of those individuals who had escaped after conducting those attacks on the JPEL/kill list. This post explains a bit why I took the job seriously, and a bit personally.

Despite all the insider attacks, or as we called them, green on blue attacks, I never felt unsafe or threatened on the base. There were plenty of people around (not that that would have mattered) and very few Afghan soldiers. I was more concerned with the pack of jackals that wandered around the base than I was of being shot by in infiltrator. Not even the insider attack had occurred on the base a couple years prior to my arrival gave me much concern.

Yesterday, an Afghan in a security force uniform (some say police, some say army) killed 3 US contractors and another Afghan.

Just a unpleasant reminder that you're never truly safe over there.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Another Coup In Yemen

When I last posted about Yemen, that country appeared to be potentially collapsing towards civil war. Or was already in a civil war. Depends how pessimistic you want to be. The Shia Houthi rebels from the north had taken the capital of Sana'a, booted out the prime minister, made a peace agreement with the president, and then started fighting with AQAP who were already assisting an insurgency in the south.

Well, things haven't exactly gone well for Yemen since then (no surprise). Two days ago, the Houthis stormed the presidential palace and shelled the residence of the president (who wasn't staying in the palace) in what was essentially a coup. A cease-fire was declared, but it appears the president, who I assumed was merely a puppet of the Houthis, has resigned along with his cabinet.

So the Houthis now have complete control over the capital and likely the government of Yemen. This certainly does not please the Sunnis in the south of Yemen, who are also still dealing with AQAP and are in no position to help establish a new government or demand representation in a new government. I see a split in the near future for Yemen.

Oh, ISIS is popping up there too. Hooray!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

UPDATE: Nigeria, ISIS, and AQAP

Ugh, Nigeria continues to be a hot mess thanks to Boko Haram and that group's apparent desire to be blood thirsty assholes, although I'm quite convinced the government of Nigeria has its share of the blame for the chaos.

On Saturday a suicide bomber struck a market killing 16 and wounding more than 20. The bomber? A 10 year old girl. The explosives were likely detonated remotely. It would not surprise me at all if this girl was one of the 300 or so school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram last April.

Boko Haram is also continuing offensive operations and recently attacked the town of Baga near the border with Chad. Amnesty International claims 2000 people were killed in that attack. However, the Nigerian government states the death toll was more like 150. I don't know who to believe on this one. Amnesty International is likely getting their reports second hand, which may be exaggerated by locals, but Nigerian authorities are probably trying to downplay the death toll to prevent the government from looking incompetent and keep panic from spreading. Like I said, a hot mess.

Moving on to Islamic State news...because they are such fun group of lovable scamps. Oh look, the Da'ish-bags are using children to conduct their executions. The Islamic State really is doing every thing they can to get as many people as possible to hate them. I've been appalled by AQI/ISI/ISIS tactics since 2005 so nothing they do really comes as a shock to me anymore.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the Paris attack. I wonder what took them so long. I also wonder if France is going to get involved with the civil war in Yemen in order to defeat AQAP. The government of Yemen along with their Houthi puppet masters probably wouldn't allow that, but if France is angry enough that may not matter.

UPDATE: Amnesty International has issued (provided may be a better term?) satellite imagery of the area. Their death toll numbers are likely more correct than government of Nigeria's numbers.

So much ugly news. Here's a puppy to cheer everyone up:

He probably poops on the carpet though...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

AQAP Flexing Muscle?

I've held off for over a day now from discussing the events in Paris.The reason is due to my typical response of wanting to do some kind of analysis, and then usually being wrong, examples being the 2011 terrorist attack in Norway (I figured Islamic terrorism) and the Boston Bombings (I guessed domestic white supremacists). My gut instinct for this attack was Chechnyans due to the tactics and apparent professionalism of the attackers. This may be some bias of mine since the Boston bombers were of Chechnyan descent.  I didn't think (and still don't) they were "lone wolves" and assessed they were trained, funded, and ordered by either Al Qaeda In the Arabian Peninsula or Al Qaeda In the Indian Subcontinent.

I wasn't completely pulling this out of my ass. Witnesses state the attackers shouted "Allah Akbar" and said they were "Al Qaeda". AQAP from my perspective is the AQ franchise most likely to export terrorism at this time, however the attacks are similar to attacks in Pakistan and India, hence my thoughts pulling towards AQIS. 

Authorities are now saying that two of the suspects are brothers, born in France of Algerian descent. One of the brothers had been previously arrested for sending fighters to Iraq and Abu Musab al Zarqawi's insurgent cells; those cells and networks would become Al Qaida in Iraq and eventually ISIS.

So was this ISIS attacking France for air strikes in Iraq and Syria? No. Remember, ISIS and Al Qaeda have had a falling out. Also, ISIS is a tad busy right now and probably doesn't have the funding or the resources to carry out an overseas attack at the moment. The attackers also are reported to have said they were "Al Qaeda from Yemen", interesting thing to say when you're of Algerian heritage. But if the attackers are of Algerian descent, is Al Qaeda In the Islamic Magreb to blame? I'm not ruling them out. AQAP hasn't done much since fighting for Tuareg independence in Mali and then turning on the Tuaregs turning what should have been an easy win into a clusterfuck with French troops occupying Tuareg territory in Mali. Wait...French troops? Hmm.

So long story short, I'm blaming AQAP. I foresee more drone strikes in Yemen's future.