"We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers." Evolutionary psychologist Andy Thomson analyzes suicide terrorism from the perspective of evolutionary biology. The presentation was part of the Atheist Alliance International convention in D.C. last month.
The Global Incident Map is an interactive map displaying "terrorism events and other suspicious activities" happening at this very moment (updated every 5 minutes) all around the world. Click on the various icons for "event details" or scroll down for "announcements, alerts and breaking news." Via.
Today's Washington Post: "The U.S. government is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials." [more inside]
Surveillance Society Clock. "It's six minutes before midnight as a surveillance society draws near within the United States." [Via Danger Room.]
Homeland Insecurity. "What happened to the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, which Democratic leaders promised to make one of their top legislative priorities? What are the most deadly potential terrorist targets no one talks about—and who's lobbying against securing them? What's the one measure that could improve our chances of preventing an attack—without costing a penny? Why are the 2008 presidential candidates—Republicans and Democrats alike—nowhere on this issue? In this seven-part series Mother Jones' senior correspondent James Ridgeway examines how the government has let homeland security languish since September 11, 2001, with dire consequences."
On Wednesday Sept. 5th, German police stopped a major terrorist attack. The planned bomb consisted of 730 kilogramms of hydrogen peroxide to be mixed with other chemicals. The explosive power would have been equivalent to 550 kilogramms of TNT. The IHT reports the possible targets were the Ramstein US Air Force Air Base and Frankfurt International Airport. The suspects had been under observation for 10 months, the chemicals had been clandestinely rendered harmless by German authorities. What caused the final arrest? Two things: 1) they had just recieved a call from north Pakistan urgently ordering them to follow through within 14 days. 2) a local village policeman blew the surveillance cover by literally telling them at a routine road stop that they were on a watch-list. German intelligence immediately knew the policeman had blown their cover. How? They had bugged the car [Spiegel, rough translation]. [more inside]
But Is It War? A vigorous debate among three conservatives about the limits of post-9/11 executive power.
The Long War Journal. Regardless of your politics, the aggregation of info is useful, and the chief blogger doesn't seem to have been mentioned on MeFi before.
What's the Big Secret? Four surveillance experts try to figure out what the NSA's superclassified wiretapping program really is (hint: it may have something to do with the filters). They don't seem to realize that this kind of reckless public discussion means some Americans are going to die. [Via Threat Level.]
Death Grip: How Political Psychology Explains Bush's Ghastly Success. Interesting article on the work of psychologists Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, and Tom Pyszczynski. [Via Disinformation.]
Twin blasts rocked the city of Hyderabad late on Saturday evening killing at least 41 people, and wounding dozens others, while 19 other unexploded devices were found a day after. The hand of a Bangladeshi Terror group, perhaps the same one that was responsible for the Mecca Masjid blasts, may be behind the killings.
"Al Qaeda" A lecture by Lawrence wright, author of The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. An interesting look at the "root causes" of terrorism
The Freakonomics boys have migrated their popular blog to the New York Times. One of their first postings on this new home? Cool Ideas For Terror Attacks. Much lively and angry discussion ensues!
Behold the newest weapon for the Department of Homeland Security: the Puke-Light!
Bush Gets a Spying Blank Check. The passage of the new FISA bill was a hurried response to the revelation that the FISA court recently decided that at least part of the NSA wiretapping program is illegal. It looks to be another step in our gradual transition into a National Surveillance State.
Rorschach and Awe. "America's coercive interrogation methods were reverse-engineered by two C.I.A. psychologists who had spent their careers training U.S. soldiers to endure Communist-style torture techniques. The spread of these tactics was fueled by a myth about a critical 'black site' operation."
As of yesterday, Dr. Mohammed Haneef was released from jail, amidst speculation that his incarceration had been unjust, and is on his way back home. It is believed that once he is ready, there will be a lucrative deal waiting for him if he wishes to tell his story (pdf of his transcript of detention), but for now, his wife, Firdaus Ashriya, is happy to have her husband back home.
Busting the Merchant of War. "The Bush administration finally nails a notorious supplier to terrorists—after he spent 30 years hiding in plain sight." [Via Disinformation.]
Why Terrorism Does Not Work [pdf] is an article by Max Abrahms that tries to understand why terrorist groups have a success rate of 7% on their stated goals and those terrorists who target civilians have a stunning 0% success rate when it comes to achieving their political objectives. He argues that the answer lies in correspondent inference theory. [via Wired's Bruce Schneier]
I was a fanatic...I know their thinking. If a British former muslim jihadist is to be believed, "the engine of [their] violence" is not western foreign policy, but certain fundamental tenets of islamic theology. Hassan Butt's previous MeFi appearance was two years ago (before he left the jihadist network in February 2006). Also, a video and transcript of a 60 Minutes interview.
Amid reports that those responsible for recent terrorist attacks in the UK were doctors and medical students, we are likely to hear the usual calls for "inter-faith dialogue" and "more education". However, according to the most widely-cited study (.pdf here), the actual relationship between religious terrorism and education is one of direct, not inverse proportion. This defies the conventional wisdom that terrorism is the result of economic desperation and lack of educational opportunities, not totalitarian ideologies themselves. It also appears to contradict many previous studies showing an inverse correlation between religiosity and intelligence.
"The number of violent crimes in the United States rose for a second straight year in 2006, marking the first sustained increase in homicides, robberies and other serious offenses since the early 1990s..." While violent crimes did increase by 1.3 percent total in 2006 [with robbery making a shocking 11.6 percent rise in the West and murder rising by 2.5 percent in the Northeast], property crimes actually decreased by 2.9 percent overall. The reason for this apparently strange state of affairs? Short answer: nobody knows for sure.
It's been said before that trance, and DJ Tiësto in particular, are evil. Some may've taken that idea a little too seriously.
al Qaeda's "Legitimate Demands". Azzam al Amreki (aka Adam Gadahn) appears in a newly released al Qaeda video to recite his group's demands and promise more bombings and destruction if we don't comply. (previously)
The Global Terrorism Database is now available online. It includes information on more than 27,000 bombings, 13,000 assassinations, and 2,800 kidnappings. With 2D and 3D georeferences for some incidents. The interactive map isn't working for me though.
Bombs exploded outside the Mecca Masjid today as people were offering their Friday Prayers. Out of the more than 8,000 worshippers present, a total of 12 have been reported dead, and 50 injured. Also, this comes in the wake of the violence that has been taking place in the State of Punjab.
The Green Scare: Rod Coronado gave a talk in San Diego and the feds called his words ‘terrorism.’ How new laws are equating environmentalists with Al Qaeda. [Via Gristmill.]
"Venezuela and Cuba have both asked that Posada be extradited, but an immigration judge in September 2005 ruled he could not be sent to either country out of concern he might face torture there." Luis Posada is a free man today. A graduate of the notorious School of the Americas, he is wanted for various acts of terrorism in a number of Latin American countries.
Patriot Search Whether you are a normal searcher, someone trying to download illegal material, a terrorist looking to build a bomb, or just hunting porn, we at Patriot Search welcome you! Our mission is to provide the best possible search engine to you while at the same time, making sure the government is informed should you search for something obscure, illegal, or unpatriotic
Hussein's Prewar Ties To Al-Qaeda Discounted. A newly declassified report (PDF) by the Pentagon's inspector general claims that Iraq was not working with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion and that the intelligence was manipulated by then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. On the same day as the report came out, Dick Cheney claimed that they did have a relationship via Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zarqawi may be dead, but he's still useful. [Via TalkLeft.]
George Orwell, Big Brother is watching your house. With CCTV. Perhaps the Surveillance Camera Players could put on a performance there. It looks like Britain really is becoming a surveillance society. [Via Digg.]
AT&T and Verizon obey FBI emergency requests, even if they're of dubious legality, and they get paid for it. But AT&T can't be sued, they say, because that would endanger national security.
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole.
The greatest enigma of the US "war on terror": He was an intelligence officer of the Egyptian army, a CIA agent, a drill seargent and instructor at Fort Bragg, an FBI informant, and Al Qaeda's number one man inside the US. He was directly or indirectly involved in the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the 1993 WTC bombing, the bombing of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and 9/11. He trained al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and Sudan and wrote manuals on intelligence, terrorism and asymmetric warfare while living in Silicon Valley with his American wife. He plea bargained, never went to trial, and may be free or in witness protection today. Incidentally, he is barely mentioned in the 9/11 Commission report. Is there some sort of conspiracy or are officials simply afraid of having their gross negligence exposed?
The Next Attack. "Terrorists in Iraq are becoming proficient at blowing up oil refineries. Similar plants in a handful of American cities represent our greatest vulnerability. We could easily be making them less dangerous. But we’re not." And one of the key players in keeping things that way happens to be Dick Cheney’s son-in-law.
The Redirection. "Is the Administration’s new policy aiding our enemies in the war on terrorism?" New article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker.
The Iraq Effect: The War in Iraq and its Impact on the War on Terrorism. "The war has inspired a wave of terrorism around the world. Excluding Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of jihadist attacks has jumped 35 percent in the past four years. A Mother Jones exclusive study by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank."
You had to live -- did live, from the habit that became instinct and the assumption that every sound you made was overheard.
For Your Eyes Only? Allegations that the government is reading your e-mails, with the help of AT&T. The latest episode of NOW did a good piece on the NSA's domestic surveillance program (previously discussed here.) It can be viewed on their website. Meanwhile, Canadian human rights attorney Maureen Webb has written a new book on the scope of government surveillance, and found that the use of sophisticated methods to search for terrorists is not identifying the right suspects.
The Samjhauta Express was fire-bombed yesterday night, killing 68 people as of now, of which 17 have been identified. Two of the suspects’ faces have been released to the media, and the governments of the two countries (India and Pakistan) have vowed to work together, for the time being at least. Further fears of attacks have increased security at Railway stations, and the Bus service from Delhi to Lahore.
Sixty-seven scenes of torture in five seasons. Is 24 responsible for an increase in real-life torture? They at least feel guilty enough to meet up with some actual interrogators encouraging them to make their torture scenes more authentic. But it's not just 24 - torture is becoming more prevalent on all American television.
The Psychology of Security. An essay by Bruce Schneier on the difference between the feeling of security and the reality of security. [Via MindHacks.]
A hefty chunk of Boston was paralyzed today in reaction to the discovery of numerous devices consisting of circuit boards attached to girders. The ones that have been found have been disabled. The subway is crippled; numerous lines have been shut down and been replaced by emergency bus service as authorities root out the remaining instances of what could be bombs! Here is a photo one of these nefarious devices in action.
Investigation reveals British Police knowingly employed serial killers as informers. Or should that be "knowingly employed informers as serial killers"? Film at 11.