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May 08 2011

Trouble in Cairo

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An attack by Muslim Salafists resulted in 6 deaths and 120 injuries on Saturday. The Religious group opened fire at the Saint Mena Coptic Orthodox Church in Cairo to retrieve a Muslim man who was allegedly being held in the church.

There have been rising tensions between the two religious groups. Previous occurrences give reason to believe that the shooting was a reaction to the marriage of a Muslim man and Christian woman, a member of the church in Cairo.

Earlier this year on New Years Day a different Coptic church in Alexandria was bombed, killing 23 people. 10 days later a man shot and killed one Christian while injuring 5 others on a train.

Christians are a minority in Egypt making up 9 percent of the 80 million. The sectarian violence induced by the much larger Muslim faith has resulted in numerous deaths and injuries. The religious tension in Egypt is becoming a serious issue and must be addressed.

The situation for Christians in Cairo and other areas in Egypt is dangerous. Religious freedom is diminishing and causing violence within the country on multiple accounts. Coptic Churches are small and scattered around the country with little to no form of defense or security. The religious conflicts show no signs of calming down and are threatening the safety of people across the country.

May 08 2011

Usama’s “Support Network”

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Bin Laden’s discovery has unveiled crucial information to help the War on Terror although it is far from coming to a close. The continued efforts from the Bush administration has brought justice to the tragedies of September 11th and has shed light on exactly how U.S. enemy number one was able to remain undiscovered for 10 years.

Pakistan’s knowledge of Bin Laden’s location was once a suspicion but has now been validated. Although U.S. officials claim that Pakistan remains a U.S. ally the country has been far from honest about Bin Laden’s whereabouts. Further investigation leads many Americans to believe that people inside and outside of the Pakistan government were aware of Bin Laden’s status. Which makes many curious of Pakistan’s overall involvement if any in Usama’s capabilities of staying off the radar. It is hard to believe that Bin Laden alone was able to evade U.S. forces for 10 years. Pakistan officials claim that they were both unaware and uninvolved in Bin Laden’s safe haven 30 miles north of the capital in a city Abottabad loaded with heavy military artillery. At this point we cannot concretely know the Pakistan governments involvement until further intelligence is gathered from information found on site.

President Obama has stressed that if disturbing information is discovered then it will be pressed. This subject grows in importance due to the 1.5 Billion dollars that the country receives from the United States annually.

Further investigation in Pakistan is crucial to get a clear understanding of the level of involvement that Pakistan has had.

Some, like Senator John Kerry and CIA Director Michael Hayden, see little importance in finding answers to all the questions raised from Bin Laden’s discovery. Instead they believe that the U.S. and Pakistan should forgive and forget. Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, the chairman of the committee, expressed optimism that the uproar over bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad will allow American and Pakistani leaders to “punch a reset button” in their relationship.

May 08 2011

Developments in Libya

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Progress in Libya has been minimal with slight chances of an end in conflict with the Gadhafi forces. Anti-Gadhafi rebels have yet proven to make significant strides against the Gadhafi forces and new tactics are being considered. Many in the west believe that the Libyan dictator must be isolated politically and financially. But NATO forces have a different opinion. NATO commanders request more patience believing that the Gadhafi forces will eventually fall.

U.S. Air Force Major Mark Ramsay says that Gadhafi is unable to maintain communication with forces in the field and is now resorting to unsecured phones and couriers. The U.S. Major also tells us that Gadhafi is struggling to sustain his troops with wartime essentials such as artillery, food, and spare parts.

“He has to resort to all sorts of measures that no military professional wants to resort to,” Ramsay says. “I wouldn’t say he’s in the 1860 cavalry mode, but it’s getting pretty close to that.”

Although odds against them, the Libyan forces have been able to hang on by a thread for longer than expected. The Libyan forces continue to adjust to the problems thrown at them. On paper NATO has the upper hand putting 260 Gadhafi tanks out of commission, exterminating many Libyan soldiers, and killing family close to Gadhafi. But Gadhafi has rebounded and been able to strategically place forces and use limiting resources in essential locations such as oil ports in Brega and Las Ranuf and an airport in Misrata. Gadhafi has also taken full control of the capitol Tripoli.

As the conflict in Libya continues Gadhafi has less ammunition, less resources, and less control over his forces this is why NATO commanders are certain that time will take it toll and eventually Gadhafi forces will be defeated.

May 02 2011

Al Qaeda’s Future Plans

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Now that the founder of al Qaeda is officially dead what is next for a terrorist group that was kick started by him? Some think that they have no chance of survival without their leader and believe that his closest predecessor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is next in line to replace Osama Bin Laden. Bin laden was seen as a unifying figure for many Taliban and was adept in maintaining communication and unity among the group. This makes his absence even more detrimental to al-Qaeda who is in no rush to replace him.

“They are a very patient organization. They have survived two decades without a state sponsor. There is no need for them to rush,” said counterterrorism expert Erroll G. Southers, an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California.

Southers explains how important it is for the U.S. to keep their guard up and to maintain al Qaeda as a serious threat that should not be forgotten.

What can be expected is a strike back by the extremist group for the loss of their leader. Many believe that retaliation will not only come from al Qaeda but from Pakistan as well and the U.S. reaction to Osama’s death will probably not be taken well. Authorities have been cautious and recommend high alert for global travel. The Department of homeland security has no plans for raising the national threat level but are taking the necessary precautions in heightening travel security and promoting awareness on the current topic. Security measures have been raised not only in America but around the world as well; Egypt and Britain have reassured higher aviation security and national travel security.

Osama’s death has brought relief to our country but the United States must be cautious and aware of the possible joining of extremists groups and potential threats against the country.

May 01 2011

Death of Seif al-Arab

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The recent death of Moammar Gadhafi’s youngest son of three has signaled steps toward a closing to the long time conflicts in Libya. Reports show that the NATO attack killed Gadhafi’s youngest son, Seif al-Arab, along with three of Gadhafi’s grandchildren. The NATO bombings were not limited to Trippoli but also made appearances in Benghazi with a series of bombings to many Libyan homes. NATO’s offensive initiative has given them the upper hand with the current Libyan crisis. NATO violated their U.N. mandate in hopes to protect civilians from the Gadhafi forces.

NATO’s attacks brought relief to the Libyan people satisfied by long waited efforts to help the civilians. There have been reports of gunshots and car horns in the streets of Libya in celebration of the anti-Gadhafi attacks. NATO’s objectives have changed from no fly zone enforcement to several bombing raids in Tripoli and Benghazi. The attack was a huge success and once again showed NATO’s upper hand in the current stalemate. “If he was at the house that was targeted, then NATO is getting pretty good intelligence — and that means they’re getting leaks from within the Gadhafi government” (Garcia Navarro, NPR).

NATO’s increased efforts in Libya have brought relief to people all over world. The death of Seif al-Arab, 29, and three of Gadhafi’s grandchildren under the age of 12 will eventually take its toll with Gadhafi forces and give a positive outcome to the NATO efforts.

Mar 01 2011

Recovered Hijacked S. Korean Vessel

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Somali attacks on a South Korean fishing boat erupted a lot of conflict in the country and around the globe  On October 9th pirates were able to maneuver around a near Kenyan naval base. The ship, Keumi 305, had a crew of 43 men. “The Keumi 305 was in waters more than 400 kilometers (248 miles) away from the pirates’ base, according to the [Yonhap] news agency” [a]. Since 2006 Somali pirates have hijacked six Korean boats and vessels causing a threat to S. Korean national defense. A weak federal government and a civil war breaking out in 1991 have allowed Somalia to produce higher crime rates and gang affiliation. Kidnapping for ransom has become common among Somali pirate vessels that claim the hijacking is a result of the illegal fishing and chemical dumping in Somali waters. Coastal communities living in Somalia have developed militias supporting piracy as a form of national defense. What’s interesting about these Somali crews that premeditate attacks to take hostages for ransom.  Aboard the Keumi 305 were two S. Koreans, two Chinese, and 39 Kenyans fishing for crab in Northern Somalia. Piracy in neutral waters has harmed many people from many nations that have erupted conflict among nations involved.

Multiple accounts of hijacking has caused South Korean Special Forces to initiate a covert mission to recover a twenty-one man fishing ship in the Arabian Sea. The five-hour mission was successful recovering the ship and all its members. There were a total of eight Somali deaths while five were captured alive. “The ship had been fishing for crab in the area for about one month before being seized and taken to a pirate stronghold in northern Somalia”[c]. Many occurrences of Somali pirate hijacking has occurred to such fishing boats, six in the past five years. Pleased from the result of the mission Lt. Gen. Lee Sung-ho said, “This operation demonstrated our government’s strong will to never negotiate with pirates”[c]. Somali Piracy has made many threats to the Unites States citizens as well as French citizens. Both the U.S. and the French have organized missions against piracy in April 2009, a French commando team stormed a Somali boat and killing two pirates and recovering three French citizens.