Russia, China and Iran In Venezuela

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Last week, I tripped across a very interesting article from the Middle East Forum. It’s written by Joseph M. Humire of the Gatestone Institute, where I also saw it. It’s very well written and I recommend both sites. It caught my eye because it covers a topic that has bothered me for a long time militarily… Venezuela.

At issue here is the fact that Iran, Russia and China have moved into Venezuela and are looking to use it as a military vantage point. They also want the oil there. Caught in the middle are the starving people of a once prosperous nation. They are pawns in a geopolitical chess match. Rex Tillerson just finished a tour of Latin America where he invoked the Monroe Doctrine, which Obama tried to kill off. He suggested the Venezuelan military could manage a “peaceful transition” from the authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro. Once again, this raised the specter of the US using a “military option” for Venezuela, where we would step in to stop the country from collapsing. Iran, China and Russia are sure to take a dim view of any move by the US and we should be aware they are there. Tillerson mentioned both Russia and China, but failed to mention Iran.

It is widely held that Venezuela has now become a Cuban-occupied country. More than 30,000 Cubans are now embedded in Venezuela. Many of them are part of the intelligence and security apparatus there. The Castro brothers surely played a heavy role in collapsing Venezuela. It was planned. But why? In a word, control. Russia is the primary supplier of military aid and technical support to the Venezuelan armed forces. 75% of Russian military sales in the area are to Venezuela, who Russia is loaning money and aid to. When Venezuela defaults, you can bet that the Russkies will be there to take their cut. We are talking $11 billion in arms sales. The Russian state-owned energy firm, Rosneft, has provided Venezuela with an estimated $17 billion in financing since 2006. It is pretty clear at this point that Russia owns most of Venezuela’s oil fields at this point.

Pictured: Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visits Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in Iran on October 22, 2016.

According to the International Institute of Finance, China also holds more than $23 billion in Venezuela’s foreign debt. They are Venezuela’s largest creditor. Sound familiar? Beijing is now Venezuela’s biggest banker and they will come to collect their debt before long. The communists have been very busy in Venezuela it would seem, while the US has done virtually nothing. The Chinese are also vying for the same oil fields Russia has their paws on. China has also financed many of the nation’s social programs, such as subsidized housing and free medical clinics.

Cuba, China and Russia have kept Venezuela alive over the last ten years, but that won’t last much longer. The place is lousy with Cuban, Chinese and Russian spies. And it’s basically on our back doorstep. The communists have intelligence networks down to a fine art. Iran on the other hand is operating independently in Venezuela. They have been developing their own robust clandestine network in Latin America for more than half a century. That’s right folks… for more than 50 years.

Per the Gatestone Institute, approximately 60% of the population of the city of As-Suwayda in southwestern Syria (pop. 139,000, according to the 2004 census) are Venezuelan-born dual citizens. Many more have arrived since 2009. The district of As-Suwayda (same name as the city) has been dubbed “Little Venezuela.” Estimates indicate that upwards of 300,000 Syrians from the As-Suwayda Governorate currently live halfway around the world in Venezuela. According to the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, more than a million Syrians reside there. This Syria-Venezuela connection could represent a clandestine network managed by Iran and critical to the advancement of Chavez’s “Bolivarian revolution.”

The Iranians practice irregular warfare using non-state actors and surrogates to gain influence over the population. However, you might not see their influence on the ground there. Rather you would see it in instances such as when Iranian-trained forces helped repress anti-regime protestors in 2017. During anti-Maduro demonstrations, the motorcycle-riding members of the Venezuelan civilian militias known as Collectivos were clearly modeled on and trained by Iran’s paramilitary Basij militia. The Basij crushed Iran’s Green Revolution in 2009 and now the same tactics are being used in Venezuela.

You don’t hear much about Iran’s influence in Venezuela here in the US. You mostly see starving Venezuelans who are suffering through a Mad Max dystopian reality and who are oppressed by Maduro. That’s because the news is sanitized these days and manipulated. However, intelligence and security analysts, as well as military strategists are well aware of the game on the ground in Venezuela. Iran has positioned itself on the geopolitical chessboard in Venezuela to capitalize on China’s economic clout and Russia’s military footprint. For instance, Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics (MODAFL) used a variety of joint projects with Venezuela’s military industry (CAVIM), as well as Russian and Chinese oil contracts with PDVSA, to shield it from international sanctions. Not only are the Chinese and the Russkies clever, the Iranians are as well. They should not be underestimated. Hezbollah is active in Venezuela.

If you look at Venezuela’s government, you will see that there is a prominence of Arabs there thanks to Iran. Maduro has learned from Iran how to control the population and propagate their narrative. The country is experiencing a severe shortage of food and medicine. It caused an uprising last year that was brutally put down. The United States faces a massive humanitarian crisis as well as a dangerous terrorism threat right in our backyard with Venezuela. It’s a ticking time bomb.

There is a ton of evidence that Venezuela is providing identities and documents to thousands of Middle Easterners. Unless our regional allies have proper vetting and verification measures in place, as well as a high degree of counterintelligence support, they will not know if the Venezuelan refugees spilling across their borders are legitimate refugees or members of a transregional clandestine network between Latin America and the Middle East. Neither will we at this fateful point.

The US should be flooding the area and our regional allies with our counterintelligence and counterterrorism capabilities against Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere. Some of that has already started, but it is woefully inadequate to the threat we are facing. If we are to militarily interfere in Venezuela, we will first need to address external operators… Iran, Russia and China, who have for all intents and purposes turned Venezuela into another Syria. And it’s just as deadly a threat, only it’s right next door this time.


Pentagon Unveils New Aggressive Nuclear Weapons Strategy To Counter Russia And China

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Today, the Pentagon released a new nuclear arms policy that does away with the Obama-era of downsizing our arsenal and kneeling before our enemies. It calls for the introduction of two new types of weapons. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said in an introductory note to the new policy that the changes reflect a need to “look reality in the eye” and “see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.” In other words, the US is back and we are reinstating and growing the greatest military on the face of the planet.

While Obama laughingly talked about a moral obligation to lead by example in ridding the world of nuclear weapons while baring our throat to our enemies, Trump and Mattis are leading the military in building might and strength. We won’t be the ones cowering in a corner anymore… our enemies will instead know the terror of picking a fight with the world’s foremost super power. Mattis is now fingering Russia and China as our biggest enemies, with Iran and North Korea rounding out the axis of evil.

“Over the course of the last several years, Russia and China have been building new types and kinds of nuclear weapons, both delivery systems and actual warheads,” Air Force General Paul J. Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told journalists earlier this week. “We have not, which means the capability of Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals is actually getting better against ours.” Which is something I have been writing on since Obama came into power. Now, we find ourselves in a dangerous position of playing catch-up with weaponry and forces. President Trump vowed to expand and strengthen our military forces as well as our nuclear capabilities. That is now becoming a reality, thank God. Trump also vowed during his State of the Union address on Tuesday to build a nuclear arsenal “so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.”

Russia has now reemerged as a geopolitical foe, because as I have said for years, the Cold War never ended… it shifted. China has roared to the forefront as well. Both have invested heavily in their nuclear arsenals and cyber weaponry. North Korea is now very close to having the capability of striking the US homeland with a nuclear warhead or taking out our power grid with an EMP. Both Russia and China have developed EMP weapons to target low altitude satellites that would blind us in a war scenario and take out our infrastructure. Nuclear war is now a very real threat. Sweden just issued pamphlets warning of imminent war… the first real conflict they have seen in more than 100 years.

War could break out at any time, but right after the Olympics is the timing that the military is watching very carefully in regards to North Korea. Russia is making moves not only in Syria, but on other European fronts. China is gearing up for war in the South China Sea. The policy unveiled Friday envisions the introduction of so-called “low-yield nukes” on submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Make no mistake, we already know the roster of the enemy when war comes this time. We’re still very sketchy who will be our allies however. White House officials want the Pentagon to come up with more options for a military strike against North Korea… whether that is true or not, as President Trump has said, we have run out of road.

Russia possesses a large arsenal of small nuclear weapons that the United States mostly lacks. We need to fix that and fast. The Pentagon worries that Moscow could seize part or all of a US ally state and then detonate a small nuclear weapon to prevent American troops from coming to the rescue. That is a very real threat. Washington would be forced to choose between launching a much larger scale nuclear attack on Russia or responding with less serious conventional arms that would make Washington look weak. The Pentagon says it wants a proportionate weapon to match the threat.

The Pentagon’s new policy also covers longer-term plans to reintroduce a nuclear submarine-launched cruise missile called a SLCM (“slick-em”), which the administration of President George H.W. Bush stopped deploying and the Obama administration ordered removed from our stockpiles. These weapons could reassure Japan and South Korea that we can handle threats from North Korea and put pressure on Russia to stop violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Communists and liberals are screaming over this. Too freaking bad. If we are to survive as a nation, we must deter war with a massive show of strength. That’s all that bullies such as Russian, China, Iran and North Korea understand. And yes, a crippling cyber-attack is an act of war. The US would only ever use nuclear weapons in “extreme circumstances.” The same cannot be said for our enemies. Rob Soofer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear and Missile Defense Policy, said the introduction of new capabilities should in fact raise the threshold by making Russia less likely to think it can get away with a limited nuclear attack against the United States or its allies.

Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the review was consistent with US policy dating back decades. He said the idea that the United States would revert to a nuclear attack in response to a simple cyber-attack was inaccurate. We are far more likely to launch our own cyber-attack in retaliation. “We reserve the right to use nuclear weapons when our national interests, our population or infrastructure are attacked with significant consequence,” Selva said, suggesting that any such attack that results in a high number of deaths could provoke a US nuclear response.

That’s called peace through strength and that should have always been our policy. A compensatory response is on the table. The US will always respond in kind to being attacked. I am relieved that this policy is going into effect. Our enemies have been put on notice.


WH wants more Nukes, Why? Kanyon

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Yesterday, this website published an item regarding the Trump Executive Order requiring a total review and updated summary of the U.S. nuclear posture. Countless media outlets along with liberal think tanks wrote stinging critical articles on this review, mostly promoting the full elimination of nuclear weapons by the United States. This was the clear position of the Obama administration.

As this article is being published, the United Nations is holding a session on nuclear proliferation. Further, President Trump is at the Pentagon as this is being typed.

Trump and his national security team receives intelligence briefings and the summary below will likely explain why President Trump is right.

Popular Mechanics explains: Pentagon Document Confirms Existence of Russian Doomsday Torpedo

Kanyon is designed to wipe out the enemy’s coastlines and make them unlivable for generations.

A key U.S. nuclear weapons document confirms that the Russian government is developing the most powerful nuclear weapon in more than a half century. A leaked copy of the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review states that Russia is developing a “new intercontinental, nuclear-armed undersea autonomous torpedo.”

The existence of the weapon, known as Kanyon to the Pentagon and “Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6” to Russia, was first leaked by Russian television in November 2015. A test involving the Sarov-class submarine mothership was leaked in December 2016. The Nuclear Posture Review report, dated January 2018, lists the weapon as part of Russia’s underwater nuclear arsenal. Here’s a screen capture, with Kanyon circled in red:

Kanyon is reportedly a very long range autonomous underwater vehicle that has a range 6,200 miles, a maximum depth of 3,280 feet, and a speed of 100 knots according to claims in leaked Russian documents.

But what really makes Kanyon nightmare fuel is the drone torpedo’s payload: a 100-megaton thermonuclear weapon. By way of comparison, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 16 kilotons, or the equivalent of 16,000 tons of TNT. Kanyon’s nuke would be the equivalent of 100,000,000 tons of TNT. That’s twice as powerful as Tsar Bomba, the most powerful thermonuclear weapon ever tested. Dropped on New York City, a 100-megaton bomb would kill 8 million people outright and injure 6 million more.

Kanyon is designed to attack coastal areas, destroying cities, naval bases, and ports. The mega-bomb would also generate an artificial tsunami that would surge inland, spreading radioactive contamination with the advancing water. To make matters worse there are reports the warhead is “salted” with the radioactive isotope Cobalt-60. Contaminated areas would be off-limits to humanity for up to 100 years.

Kanyon is designed to get around American ballistic missile defenses, primarily the Ground-Based Interceptor missiles based in Alaska and California. Although GBI is meant to counter small numbers of intercontinental ballistic missiles from rogue countries such as Iran and North Korea, Russia wants to make it abundantly clear that it could still penetrate U.S. defenses even if they were scaled up to deal with larger, more powerful nuclear arsenals. More here.

The Pentagon writes:

In addition to modernizing ‘legacy’ Soviet systems, Russia is developing and deploying new nuclear warheads and launchers. These efforts include multiple upgrades for every leg of the Russian nuclear triad of strategic bombers, sea-based missiles, and land-based missiles. Russia is also developing at least two new intercontinental range systems, a hypersonic glide vehicle, and a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, undersea autonomous torpedo. Link

The Pentagon report notes the Russians plan attacks from the erroneous position that a coercive nuclear “first use” policy might allow Russia to then negotiate terms favorable to itself (this is referred to as the escalate-to-de-escalate doctrine). The Pentagon writes:

Effective U.S. deterrence of Russian nuclear attack and non-nuclear strategic attack now requires ensuring that the Russian leadership does not miscalculate regarding the consequence of limited nuclear first use, either regionally or against the United States itself. Russia must instead understand that nuclear first-use, however limited, will fail to achieve its objectives, fundamentally alter the nature of a conflict, and trigger incalculable and intolerable costs for Moscow. Our strategy will ensure Russia understands that any use of nuclear weapons, however limited, is unacceptable. More here.

The full 64 page document is here.


China Has Been Eliminating CIA Informants – The FBI Arrests The Mole Responsible

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Jerry Chun Shing Lee, aka Zhen Cheng Li, 53, a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer, was arrested on charges of unlawful retention of national defense information. He’s been a very bad spy. This one was particularly bad as a matter of fact. He’s being charged with mishandling secret information concerning the recruitment of CIA agents, the Justice Department announced. And I would imagine those charges will expand quite a bit. Lee was at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport when he was taken down. But his stomping grounds are in Hong Kong.

Lee had been under surveillance since 2012, when agents secretly searched his Honolulu hotel room and found two books containing secrets about recruited CIA “assets.” You can read the criminal complaint here. Lee is a naturalized US citizen who resides in Hong Kong and works for a well-known auction house. He was in the Army from 1982 to 1986. He graduated from Hawaii Pacific University in 1992.

Lee became a CIA agent in 1994 and was with the agency until 2007. According to FBI Special Agent Kellie R. O’Brien, he was trained in “methods of covert communications, surveillance detection, recruitment of assets, handling of assets, payment of assets, operational security, and documenting, handling and securing classified information.” O’Brien was the FBI counterspy who wrote the criminal complaint filed in federal court on Jan. 13. It was just unsealed. Dana J. Boente, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security and US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement.

Lee held a top-secret clearance. He is said to have had access to sensitive compartmented information. That info was utilized to protect intelligence programs. According to court documents, in August 2012, Lee and his family left Hong Kong to return to the United States to live in northern Virginia. While traveling back to the United States, Lee and his family had hotel stays in Hawaii and Virginia. During each of the hotel stays, FBI agents conducted court-authorized searches of Lee’s room and luggage, and found that Lee was in unauthorized possession of materials relating to national defense. Specifically, agents found two small books containing handwritten notes that contained classified information, including, but not limited to, true names and phone numbers of assets and covert CIA employees, operational notes from asset meetings, operational meeting locations and locations of covert facilities.

There are no specifics in the criminal complaint stating that Lee was spying for China, but it’s a good bet he was. The CIA is not commenting on that and neither is the Department of Justice. That pretty much speaks for itself. The arrest appears linked to the ongoing US counterintelligence probe into how the Chinese government systematically crippled CIA agent networks inside China. The Chinese have been killing off CIA informants and that is probably linked to Lee’s activities. In May, the New York Times reported the Chinese government had unraveled all CIA spying operations in China beginning in 2010. The report, quoting intelligence officials, suggested the loss of the agents was the result of a retired Chinese-American CIA officer who spied for China.

Because of the betrayal, China eliminated between 18 and 20 CIA sources in China. CIA counterspies focused on “a Chinese-American who had left the CIA shortly before the intelligence losses began.” That is most likely Lee. “Some investigators believed he had become disgruntled and had begun spying for China,” the Times reported. “One official said the man had access to the identities of CIA informants and fit all the indicators on a matrix used to identify espionage threats.” Lee was in court this week in New York City and was charged with unlawful retention of national defense information. If convicted, he can get up to ten years in prison. That’s pretty light for treason don’t you think? Is that all 20 lives are worth these days?

Officials familiar with the case say it is unlikely that Lee will be charged with espionage, which can carry the death penalty. It may be that the government doesn’t have the proof required for such a charge, or that it doesn’t want to air secrets in an open courtroom. That is a travesty all in itself. Officials said the number of informants lost in China rivaled losses in the Soviet Union and Russia during the betrayals of both Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, formerly of the CIA and the FBI. They divulged intelligence operations to Moscow for years.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant US Attorney Neil Hammerstrom of the Eastern District of Virginia. He prosecuted the case of Pentagon official James Fondren who worked at Pacific Command. Fondren was convicted in 2009 of passing classified information to a Chinese agent. Let me tell you something, this country is just lousy with Chinese spies. A concerted effort should be made to ferret out all of them in government agencies, universities and corporations in the US. And charges for espionage should be a lot stiffer than this. It’s almost a certainty that the Chinese have hacked the CIA’s lines of communication. Perhaps they should do something about that as well. This is one of the worst intelligence breaches in decades. But it’s the ones we don’t know of or haven’t caught that worry me.


Hawaii False Alarm vs. U.S. Interceptors and Don’t Travel Warnings

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

WASHINGTON — The final ground-based interceptor for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system — designed to protect the homeland from intercontinental ballistic missiles threats from North Korea and Iran — is now in place at Fort Greely, Alaska, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency has confirmed.

“MDA and Boeing emplaced the 44th interceptor in its silo at the Missile Defense Complex at Ft. Greely on Thursday, Nov. 2,” the agency said in a statement sent to Defense News.

The agency planned to have all 44 required interceptors in the ground and ready to respond to threats by the end of 2017. The Pentagon and the MDA have indicated in recent months a serious move to build up beyond 44 interceptors. In September, the Pentagon proposed reprogramming $136 million in fiscal 2017 to start raising the number of ground-based interceptors from 44 to 64 in a new Missile Field 4 at Fort Greely. The boost was part of a $416 million reprogramming request targeting missile defense needs. And the White House submitted a supplemental budget request for FY18 on Nov. 6 that asked for further funding to increase the number of ground-based interceptors by 20 and to build an additional missile field at the Alaska base.

While the left is quick to blame President Trump on the matter of a nuclear North Korea, including Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and those in Hollywood, Kim Jung-Un has been collaborating and testing nuclear weapons and missiles long before Trump entered the White House. They omit the fact that in the last 8 years, Obama did nothing….NOTHING.

Americans can travel to North Korea, if they wish — but it may just be a death wish, the U.S. State Department cautioned.

The State Department last week issued a stark warning to people setting out for the Hermit Kingdom, cautioning that anyone heading to the dangerous dictatorship should prepare for the possibility of not returning.

“The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Korea as it does not have diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea,” the State Department published Wednesday on its website.

Those who wish to travel to North Korea must be approved for a special validation, which are handed out on “very limited circumstances.” U.S. travelers given the approval to experience Kim Jong Un’s regime should then prepare for the worst — including drafting a will and making funeral and property arrangements with family and friends.“Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney; discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.,” according to the recommendations.  More here.

“On December 28, there was a large number of personnel (~100 to 120) observed in seven different formations whose purpose is unknown in the Southern Support Area,” it adds.

“It is rare to observe personnel in this area,” the report says.

The report concludes that such activities “underscore North Korea’s continued efforts to maintain the Punggye-ri site’s potential for future nuclear testing.”

News of apparent active nuclear test site comes just days after North Korean officials met with South Korean officials for the first time in more than two years. More here.

Meanwhile there is the matter of the false alarm in Hawaii….

Hawaii Gov. David Ige claimed Saturday that alert was the result of an official simply “[pressing] the wrong button” during an employee shift change, but broader questions remain. Why didn’t I get the notification here in San Diego, well within the range of intercontinental ballistic missiles that North Korea has tested in recent months? And assuming you weren’t lucky enough to be on a beach in Hawaii when the alert went out, why didn’t the average U.S. citizen receive one where they live?

To understand today’s scare, it’s important to understand how our national emergency alert system functions. The National Incident Management System (NIMS) is the systematic approach laid out by the federal government for departments and agencies at all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector to prevent, respond to, recover from, and mitigate any and all kinds of incidents, no matter the size or scope. NIMS dictates that the initial authority for disaster response resides at the county level, so that’s where most Mass Notification Systems that participate in the Emergency Alert System network reside.

The Emergency Alert System network is layered between federal, state, county, and local authorities through a system called the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) and controlled through the IPAWS Program Management Office at FEMA. The IPAWS PMO encourages partners to regularly test public alert and warning systems; in fact, the IPAWS Modernization Act of 2015, ratified in April 2016, requires IPAWS PMO to test the system not less than once every three years.

All systems compatible with IPAWS use the Common Alerting Protocol, an international standard, to send public alerts and warnings between systems and jurisdictions. State and local agencies, like Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), have their own systems, produced by a variety of manufacturers, to alert the public when a natural or manmade disaster is occurring or imminent. These mass notification systems use a variety of mediums to communicate danger to wide (or very narrow) swaths of people: they’re capable of desktop alerts, text messaging, reverse 9-1-1, email, Wireless Emergency Alerts, announcement or siren over a loudspeaker, and more. All systems in use on bases, municipalities, and other agencies are IPAWS compatible but not all can send information two-way; most of the bases operate in a receive-only manner.

Related: Ballistic Missile False Alarm That Sparked Panic In Hawaii Caused By Wrong Button, Officials Say »

These systems, the modern version of the CONELRAD (Control of Electromagnetic Radiation) method of emergency broadcasting established in 1951 at the outset of the Cold War, are powerfully effective in their ubiquity and power. Mass notification systems happen to be excellent tools for public awareness, and required testing can take any form. On many military bases, for example, the systems are tested each morning and night by using loudspeakers to play colors. Pretty smart, eh?

The specific kind of alert that Hawaiians received while they slept in or ate breakfast this morning was a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA). WEAs use a different technology than voice calls or text messages and can only be used in three situations: 1. Alerts issued by the President; 2: Alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life; or 3: Amber Alerts. Participating carriers may block all but Presidential alerts.

The good news about WEAs are that they are location specific: even if you happened to be a tourist visiting Hawaii this morning, you would’ve received the alert (so long as your carrier participates). Carriers who do not participate are required to notify consumers, but the major carriers have all opted in. But the big problem, obviously, is that they’re more subject to human error than their military counterparts.

Now, civilian agencies probably don’t have the capability to detect ballistic missile launches, so in a real-life incident that message would have to come from the military, likely U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) headquartered right there in Hawaii. PACOM would notify their base Emergency Operations Center (EOC) who would pass it up to the Regional EOC. Of note, the bases usually don’t have control of the WEA tech and can notify only those registered in their systems (but can receive all IPAWS notifications). Because of that, the base or regional EOC would have to notify Hawaii EMA for transmission. That didn’t happen today because there wasn’t a ballistic missile inbound.

The governor of Hawaii claims that during a shift change, an operator simply hit the wrong button. Well, it doesn’t exactly work that way. These alerts are not actuated by physically pushed buttons because the number of buttons that would require, for all of the different types of alerts, would be unwieldy. An operator would either type in the desired alert (or select from canned messages), select which communications mediums they’d like to use and the populations they’d like to alert, and then hit “send” and then again confirm that they really want to send that message. The canned messages might be available as electronically selectable on a computer screen (like a Windows button) but a “confirm” dialogue would still be required.

Time will tell what really happened, but as a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) who helped set up the Mass Notification System for a major military base, I know that what likely occurred was a serious breach in procedure at Hawaii EMA. The authority who issued today’s alert and then took 40 minutes to send a retraction on WEA. PACOM immediately released a message saying that there was no threat, so why didn’t Hawaii EMA immediately send a retraction via WEA? There are serious implications associated with false alerts. What happens when an alert about a tsunami, wildfire, or active shooter are real and people ignore them?

Maybe we were hacked, as some have alleged, but probably not. No matter what happened, someone must be held accountable for this egregious breach of professionalism — and that person is almost definitely sitting at HI-EMA. Let’s hope that this scare motivates agencies across the nation to take a look at their own procedures. And let’s hope Gov. Ige holds his team accountable. Hat tip.


Ballistic Missile Threat False Alarm Terrorizes Hawaiians… Brings Home Threat of North Korea

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

The citizens of Hawaii are having an interesting day today. And not by choice. Across Hawaii, residents got an ominous message on their phones’ Emergency Alert System (EAS) telling them to “seek immediate shelter” from a “ballistic missile threat.” 38 minutes of sheer terror ensued where people dove for cover. The ones that heard about it that is. The EMS system that sends text messages to all cell phones, apparently including those there on vacation, didn’t get the message to everyone. Looks like that system needs a bit more testing. A cynical person might wonder if it was on purpose. I’ve heard them blaming a person pressing the wrong button on this. That’s bull crap and it’s not the way it works. Try again fellas.

Earlier Saturday, Hawaiian citizens reported receiving an emergency alert on their phone that stated: “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-HI, tweeted in regard to the alert: “HAWAII – THIS IS A FALSE ALARM. THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE TO HAWAII. I HAVE CONFIRMED WITH OFFICIALS THERE IS NO INCOMING MISSILE.”

Greg Gutfeld, of Fox News’ “The Five” and “The Greg Gutfeld Show,” tweeted that his wife was at a hotel in Hawaii and called the situation “total hysteria/chaos.” He added that families who were evacuating were told to “seek shelter. crying. panic.” “Today’s alert was a false alarm,” Senator Mazie Hirono wrote. “At a time of heightened tensions, we need to make sure all information released to the community is accurate. We need to get to the bottom of what happened and make sure it never happens again.”

Multiple officials and government agencies quickly confirmed the message was a false alarm and the groveling and apologizing began. Meanwhile, it’s been non-stop on the news for hours. White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters later implied the false warning stemmed from a state, rather than a federal, mishap. “The President has been briefed on the state of Hawaii’s emergency management exercise. This was purely a state exercise,” he said in a statement. That, I could believe.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza confirmed a false alarm. Boy, I bet this just made the whole North Korea threat very real to the citizens of Hawaii. “Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Richard Repoza said it was a false alarm and the agency is trying to determine what happened,” the AP reports. I think they probably already know what happened. Either it was a mistake or they were hacked. Either way this is FUBAR. When I heard it, I wondered what the fresh hell was going on and who ordered an apocalypse for today.

The message, initially thought authentic, spread quickly on social media, prompting some panic, as Fox News reported Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) estimated over one million Hawaiians received the erroneous alert. The EAS protocol should only be available to government officials. You can bet people were kissing their collective asses goodbye before they found out, oopsie! False alarm! Hawaii is closest to North Korea and the threat of a nuclear tipped ballistic missile hitting them is very real. As I said before, 38 minutes passed before a follow-up EAS message was sent out retracting the warning. Which coincidentally, is the amount of time it would take for a missile to get from North Korea to Hawaii. Fun, huh?

In August, Business Insider quoted David Wright, a physicist with the anti-nuclear weapons group Union of Concerned Scientists, as estimating the total missile flight time at 37 minutes. Some early warning systems can sometimes detect pre-launch conditions, like rising heat at missile silos indicating the missile is being fueled, that can give longer warnings. I find this whole thing suspicious, but make no mistake… the threat of North Korea firing a missile at Hawaii is very real.

In November, the Hawaiian government reactivated cold war era missile warning sirens over concerns about North Korean threats. That move followed months of efforts by Hawaiian officials to develop contingency plans for dealing with a North Korean attack. Some of that planning apparently included “a public information campaign.” There’s no way to know if today’s mishap was part of those preparations. And I wonder whose head is going to roll over this.

UPDATE: A NORAD official is saying that the alerts may have been the result of an attack by hackers.


Counterfeit Operations, Iran and North Korea

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

It is a global business and a nasty one.

U.S. officials have long accused Iran of supplying arms to rebel Houthi forces battling for control of Yemen. But Monday’s sanctions help highlight the scope of what Western officials commonly describe as the IRGC’s far-reaching and malign activities.

“Iran itself, together with its proxy, Lebanese Hezbollah, is knee-deep and has been knee-deep in the counterfeit business for quite some time,” said Matthew Levitt with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “Exposing this is kind of a two-for one, both exposing the organization’s terrorist activity and also exposing the nature of the criminal activity that it engages in.” More here.

Treasury Designates Large-Scale IRGC-QF Counterfeiting Ring


Iranian Network Prints Counterfeit Yemeni Bank Notes for IRGC-Qods Force

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated a network of individuals and entities involved in a large-scale scheme to help Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) counterfeit currency to support its destabilizing activities.  This network employed deceptive measures to circumvent European export control restrictions and procured advanced equipment and materials to print counterfeit Yemeni bank notes potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the IRGC-QF.  The IRGC-QF was designated pursuant to the global terrorism Executive Order (E.O.) 13224.

“This scheme exposes the deep levels of deception the IRGC-Qods Force is willing to employ against companies in Europe, governments in the Gulf, and the rest of the world to support its destabilizing activities.  Counterfeiting strikes at the heart of the international financial system, and the fact that elements of the government of Iran are involved in this behavior is completely unacceptable,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.  “This counterfeiting scheme exposes the serious risks faced by anyone doing business with Iran, as the IRGC continues to obscure its involvement in Iran’s economy and hide behind the façade of legitimate businesses to perpetrate its nefarious objectives.”

Reza Heidari and Pardazesh Tasvir Rayan Co.

Reza Heidari (Heidari) is being designated today for having acted for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF and having assisted in, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF.

Pardavesh Tasvir Rayan Co. (Rayan Printing) is being designated today for being controlled by Heidari; for having acted for or on behalf of the IRGC-QF; having assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF; and being owned by Tejarat Almas Mobin Holding, another Iranian company also being designated today.

Heidari played a key role in procuring secure printing equipment and materials for the IRGC-QF in support of the group’s currency counterfeiting scheme.  Heidari served as the managing director of Iran-based Rayan Printing, a company involved in printing counterfeit Yemeni rial bank notes potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars for the IRGC-QF, as of late 2016.  Heidari used front companies to obfuscate the actual end user and facilitate deceptive transactions when dealing with European suppliers of secure printing equipment and materials.

ForEnt Technik and Printing Trade Center

ForEnt Technik GmbH is being designated today for being owned or controlled by Heidari, while Printing Trade Center GmbH (PTC) is being designated for having acted for or on behalf of, and assisted in, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Heidari.

Heidari used German-based ForEnt Technik GmbH and PTC as front companies to deceive European suppliers, circumvent export restrictions, and acquire advanced printing machinery, security printing machinery, and raw materials in support of the IRGC-QF’s counterfeit currency capabilities.  These raw materials included watermarked paper and specialty inks from European suppliers.  Heidari is the Managing Director and sole shareholder of ForEnt Technik Gmbh.

Mahmoud Seif and Tejarat Almas Mobin

Mahmoud Seif is being designated today for having assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or other services to or in support of, the IRGC-QF.  Tejarat Almas Mobin Holding is being designated today for being controlled by Seif.

Seif is the managing director of Tejarat Almas Mobin, the parent company of Rayan Printing.  Heidari and Seif coordinated on the procurement of raw supplies and equipment that enabled the IRGC-QF counterfeiting capabilities.  Seif was involved with the logistics of importing materials for the counterfeiting project into Iran.  Additionally, Seif has previously been involved in the procurement of weapons for the IRGC-QF.

For identifying information on the individuals and entities listed today, click here: https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/OFAC-Enforcement/Pages/20171120.aspx

*** So, did Iran teach North Korea to counterfeit or was it the other way around? North Korea has been counterfeiting and participating in illicit activities going back decades. North Korea is not especially fretful over the newly applied sanctions or being listed again as a terror state by President Trump. While it should be done, the regime has proven methods to finesse the system.

Ri Jong Ho had simply had enough. He’d seen too many executions.

Ri, a high-profile North Korean defector, spent years working for what is essentially a slush fund for one of the most notorious regimes on the planet, Kim Jong Un and his compatriots.

Life was good. Ri helped bring in somewhere between $50 million and $100 million for North Korean elites, and was handsomely rewarded with luxuries most North Koreans couldn’t dream of in years past: a car, a color TV and some extra cash on the side, once rarities in the communist state but more commonplace now in the capital, Pyongyang.

But he watched the regime kill his peers and their families, even children.

“It was not just high level officers, officials, but their families, their children (and) their followers,” Ri told CNN in his first interview to a major US broadcast network. “It was not just once or twice a year — it was ongoing throughout the year, thousands of people being executed or purged.”

Ri said the final straw came in late 2013, when Kim Jong Un executed his own uncle, Jang Song Thaek, with an anti-aircraft gun.

“It was a cruel and crude method of execution,” he said. “After all these years living in the socialist system, I never witnessed anything like that.”

Ri was living in China at the time, and in 2014 was able to safely defect with his family.

And just like that, Kim lost one of his top money makers.

Office 39

Ri said he worked for decades in what’s known as “Office 39.”

The office is in charge of bringing in hard currency for the regime. Ri calls it a “slush fund for the leader and the leadership.”
Ri told CNN “Office 39” is not engaged in illicit activities, but the US Treasury Department says otherwise.

The US government accused the office of engaging in “illicit economic activities” to support the North Korean government. It has branches throughout the nation that raise and manage funds and is responsible for earning foreign currency for North Korea’s Korean Workers’ Party senior leadership through illicit activities such as narcotics trafficking.

North Korea has been accused of crimes like hacking banks, counterfeiting currency, dealing drugs and even trafficking endangered species.

Workers who help bring in cash for the regime are granted access to the outside world — especially China — in order to establish networks that are crucial to making money, analysts say. They often have diplomatic privileges that allow them to evade their host country’s domestic laws, experts say.

Ri said he was not involved in illegal activities and that they were not under the purview of Office 39, but did not deny they occurred. He said much of North Korea’s hard cash is earned through exporting labor — the country sends workers across the globe and collects much of their pay, according to the UN — and exporting natural resources like coal, which China used to buy but has since stopped.

Illicit activities make a lot of money, though. The Congressional Research Service estimated in 2008 that North Korea could earn anywhere from $500 million to $1 billion from these types of illicit activities.

That money helps fund the lavish lifestyles of the North Korean elites while sanctions limit the country’s ability to make money. That keeps North Korea’s leadership happy and helps Kim prevent coup attempts, analysts say.

“They (North Korean leaders) are focused on maintaining their ruling power, and they are working on making this dynasty-like system lasting for a long time,” Ri said. “So instead of focusing on their economic development or better life, they are more focused on maintaining their system.

Some of Office 39’s profits also go to the country’s nuclear and missile programs, which crossed an important threshold this month with the testing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles, weapons that experts say likely put the United States homeland in North Korea’s range.

CNN reached out to the North Korean mission at the United Nations for a response to the interview with Ri. An official at the mission said Ri was lying to “make money and save his own life.”

‘Hundreds of fishing boats’

Analysts say Office 39 is likely now in the cross hairs of US President Donald Trump’s administration.

The Trump team has made it clear that one of the ways it plans to deal with North Korea is to squeeze its revenue streams across the globe in order to pressure them into negotiations over their weapons programs.

Who speaks for the United States on North Korea? Contradictions emerge

Ri is not sure if the tactic will work, as he says it’s easy to side-step sanctions and believes the international community has made strategic mistakes that could come back to bite them.

North Korean companies can just change their names once sanctioned, he says. North Korean leaders don’t keep much money abroad, so the sanctions against them are pointless, according to Ri. Smugglers are difficult to catch.

“Smuggling is conducted by any and every means you could imagine. Mostly larger items are done using ships, for example by filing a cargo list … where what’s written on the (list) is different from what is really being shipped,” he said. “On the open sea, the Yellow Sea, there are hundreds of fishing boats — both from China and North Korea — and all the smuggling is done by these so-called fishing boats.

Going after China

Ri believes that secondary sanctions — targeting those who do business with North Korea, like the United States did to China’s Bank of Dandong in June — is the way to go, especially in China.

Beijing accounts for about 85% of North Korean imports in 2015, according to UN data, though Ri revealed that Pyongyang does import some oil from Russia.

North Korean economist Ri Gi Song told CNN in February that China accounts for 70% of trade and that trade with Russia is increasing. More here from CNN.


A Wide Look at North Korea’s WMD Operations

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code


South Korean surgeons operating on a North Korean defector who escaped across the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries under a hail of gunfire on Nov. 13 have found a parasite in the man’s stomach unlike any other they had seen.

The defector, who was shot five times, remained in critical condition after hours in two rounds of surgery, according to an article in the Korea Biomedical Review published on Nov. 15.

North Korean Cyber Operations: Weapons of Mass Disruption

Over the past 10 years, the escapades of various nation-state actors in the cyber realm have exploded onto the pages of top-tier media, and into prime time network news.Russian espionage against political targets during the 2016 US presidential election, wide reaching Chinese espionage against Western commercial targets, disruptive attacks against the US financial sector associated with Iran, and the destructive attacks against Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) are some of the premier examples of mainstream coverage of ‘cyber.’

Behind every single offensive cyber action conducted in the interest of the capable nation-states is a doctrine,[1] and North Korea, like many other nation-states, has incorporated cyber operations within their own broader military doctrine and has conducted numerous offensive operations in the furtherance of their national agenda. What is particularly alarming about DPRK operations is their willingness to initiate escalatory actions, such as their likely connections to the now infamous WannaCry ransomware, and their targeting of the global financial system.

North Korea’s disregard for the consequences of its actions sets them apart from other nation-states, and is particularly dangerous.

North Korean offensive cyber operations have been conducted to collect sensitive political and military intelligence information, to lash out at enemies who threaten their beliefs and interests, and most interestingly, to generate revenue.

This revenue generation aspect of North Korean operations was thrust into the international spotlight when, in early 2016, unauthorized transfers of funds from the Bangladesh Central Bank were issued using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network for global banking. The attempted transfers amounting to over $950 million USD sought to move funds to entities in locations such as Sri Lanka and the Philippines; ultimately $81 million USD in funds disappeared into the ether.

The subsequent investigation revealed that the perpetrators of the attack used tools to securely delete records from the SWIFT terminals that would alert Bangladesh Central Bank employees of the transfers. Commonly referred to as a “wiper,” this secure deletion tool contained code that was linked by many in the computer security industry to one used in attacks associated with North Korea, notably the attack on SPE through a US Computer Emergency Response Team (USCERT) alert. The revelation that a state would engage in such a flagrant violation of international norms came as a surprise to many in the information security arena. North Korea watchers were, of course, not surprised as the currency generation activities benefiting the Kim family and their isolated nation have been well understood for some time.

The 2016 SWIFT attacks associated with North Korea are part of the broader currency generation operations of DPRK cyber actors and intelligence organizations. Botnets associated with espionage activity targeting South Korea have been used to generate revenue through a variety of schemes for almost 10 years. Recent DPRK activity suggests an interest in obtaining cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin, through extortion and targeting of cryptocurrency exchanges.

In the third quarter of 2017, for instance, malicious emails containing weaponized documents were used to target international financial organizations, as well as bitcoin exchanges. The ultimate goal of these attacks, which were tracked by the information security community under names such as Stardust Chollima and BlueNoroff, is yet unknown, however theft and sabotage are likely.

Bitcoin provides attractive benefits to the isolated nation due to a lack of regulation and the ability to subvert international sanctions. In May 2017, ‘WannaCry’ exploded across the internet, encrypting sensitive material and holding the keys to decrypt the files for a ransom to be paid in bitcoin. This attack, too, had North Korean fingerprints embedded in the code used to execute the attack, as did the tools that were used to develop that code.

Attribution is a particularly sensitive subject in the cyber domain. Technical artifacts from the executable code that was used to conduct the WannaCry attack overlaps with code used in attacks against South Korean nuclear power plants and the SPE attack of 2014. While the technical artifacts can provide some measurable connections between the attacks, they require deep technical understanding to interpret. Other linkages, such as targeting and operational procedures, are the product of intelligence assessments and have been disputed by various parties muddying the water surrounding the assigning of attribution.

North Korea is an exception to the classical understanding of how most nations implement offensive cyber operations in that they incorporate espionage, disruptive/destructive attacks and financially motivated operations using the same computer code and infrastructure.

The value of cyber operations is likely recognized by North Korea’s most senior leadership through the State Affairs Commission (SAC), the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, and Kim Jong Un himself. Subordinate units, notably the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), Bureau 121, and the Command Automation Bureau (CAB), are likely responsible for executing the specific operations. The individual units may have a charter to self- finance their operations, or to contribute financial gains back to the regime, but it seems clear that various offensive operations are conducted by differing groups with their own approach and missions. For example, one group may have a primary focus on revenue generation, targeting South Korean banks and SWIFT and conducting extortive attacks, while another group might focus on intelligence collection, while a third conducts sabotage and destructive attacks.

Finally, the maturity of North Korean offensive cyber operations has been demonstrated through the integration of destructive attacks by cyber units during military exercises executed in the midst of escalating tension with South Korea. For instance, following the December 2012 launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite via the Unha-3 satellite launch vehicle, tensions on the Korean peninsula were high. That March, following the passing of UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR 2087) and B-52 strategic bomber overflights in South Korea, North Korea responded with a particularly aggressive disruptive attack against South Korea.

This massive wiper attack targeted South Korea’s financial and media sectors and coincided with provocations by North Korean military and escalating political rhetoric. This pairing allowed for maximum psychological impact, while demonstrating North Korea’s ability to integrate offensive cyber activities into well-developed military doctrine. During these attacks, the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), Yonhap Television News (YTN) and several Korean financial institutions reported disruptions. With the threat of military escalation on the table, many in South Korea would have depended on the media outlets for breaking news. Disruption of ATM networks and financial institutions would further add to the chaos as word of media disruptions began to spread.

As tensions are once again escalating between North Korea and the international community, more attacks perpetrated by DPRK cyber actors are likely. The recent increase in financial sector targeting associated with these actors may illustrate the potential for disruptive attacks to demonstrate both the capability of the North Korean actors, as well to achieve objectives in line with their broader military doctrine. While North Korea’s isolation may be detrimental to its economy and international relations, it is an effective shield from which to launch offensive cyber operations against a connected and delicate global system.

  1. [1]

    In order to establish some common definitions, we can look to the United States Department of Defense, who established Computer Network Operations (CNO) as a component of the broader Information Operations (Information Warfare) arena. CNO is further categorized into Computer Network Exploitation (CNE), Computer Network Attack (CNA), and Computer Network Defense (CND). Offensive cyber operations conducted by nation-states using this model would be considered CNE and CNA. The use of CNE can be roughly characterized as espionage, whereas CNA would be used to degrade, deny, disrupt, or destroy the network based systems of an adversary. This model can help provide a clear delineation of how various military, intelligence community, and law enforcement agencies with their authorities are able to conduct operations. China, Russia, Iran and virtually every nation-state in the world conduct CNE/CNA operations in accordance with their legal authorities and national interests.


    There are other weapons few discuss.

    Pyongyang has already achieved partial coverage of US territories. Last June, in a hearing before the US House Armed Services Committee, the head of the US Missile Defense Agency, Vice Admiral James Syring, said: “The advancement and demonstration of technology of ballistic missiles from North Korea in the last six months have caused great concern to me and others. It is incumbent on us to assume that North Korea today can range the US with an ICBM carrying a nuclear warhead.”

    This particular endeavor was likely assisted by Tehran. A February 2016 report by the Congressional Research Service concluded, “Iran has likely exceeded North Korea’s ability to develop, test, and build ballistic missiles.” Tehran might be, and probably is, helpful to Pyongyang with respect to technological aspects of the nuclear sphere as well.

    The nuclear component within the spectrum of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) is evidently growing. The big question is whether the country’s despot, Kim Jong-un, will be the first person to use nuclear weapons since 1945.

    Quite recently, Kim elected to employ a highly lethal chemical weapon, the nerve agent VX, for a political assassination. This weapon was used last February by two female operatives, one Indonesian and the other Vietnamese, to murder Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, in Malaysia. The victim died shortly after being assaulted by the two women, who wiped VX on his face as he prepared to board a flight to the Chinese territory of Macau. Traces of VX were revealed on swabs taken from his eyes and face.

    This deadly chemical agent was probably smuggled from North Korea to Malaysia, which in and of itself was an intriguing and risky move. Six of eight potential suspects were from Pyongyang’s Ministries of State Security and Foreign Affairs. The suspects flew from Kuala Lumpur on the day of the assassination, passing through Vladivostok on their way back to Pyongyang. South Korea’s request to detain four of the suspects was rejected by Russian officials on the grounds of lack of evidence.

    It can be assumed that Kim Jong-un was in on the plot from its inception. Symbolically, at least, this political assassination by VX can be regarded as an indication of Pyongyang’s chemical weapons (CW) capabilities. Whether the regime intended it to or not, the assassination signaled the readiness, usability, and deployability of North Korea’s VX, which can be used for guerrilla warfare, chemical terrorism, or wide-scale chemical attack.

    VX is also weaponized within warheads carried by ballistic missiles in Pyongyang’s  vast CW arsenal. The North Korean ballistic program constitutes the principal, though not the only, vehicle for all three WMD programs. The CW and biological weapons (BW) programs are fully matured and have marked operational offensive capabilities. Inadequate attention is being paid to Pyongyang’s large-scale offensive capacities in terms of CW and BW, but the VX political assassination incident was a wake-up call (if unintentional). More here.


Book Review: Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters

By: Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

Purchase at Amazon.com

I had a very interesting book sent my way: HARPOON: Inside The Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel M. Katz. I’m a military and counterterrorism wonk, so it peaked my interest. First off, this is a fascinating book and if you are analytical, it will really engross you. It comes at you from the stance of cutting off the money-flow to terrorists and that is definitely one of the primary tools we should be using in the war on terror. Plus, I just admire the heck out of the Mossad and Israel in general.

Think about it… terrorists have to have money to buy weapons to kill people. They get that money in many different ways… from the sale of drugs, to the sale of oil, investments, charities and foundations. We use our military might to keep ISIS and other enemies on the run, but to squash them, you have to strangle them financially. Israel is a master at this technique. For many years I have said we should emulate Israel in profiling and counterterrorism tactics, including border security. But I never really looked at how they cut off the lifeblood of terrorism… money. The US is now utilizing financial techniques like this to starve ISIS and it works. Europe should be using this weapon as well.

If the flow of money was cut off to ISIS and other terrorists, their Caliphate and networks would fall apart. This is why I was so furious when Obama gave millions to the Iranians, who are the biggest purveyor of terrorism on the planet. He knew what he was doing, he was funding a maniacal Islamic theocracy that will murder countless people with that money. Obama has blood all over his hands on that one.

Israel has learned the hard way, through blood and tears, that more than force is needed to take down her enemies. From 2000 to 2005, during the last Intifada, Palestinian suicide bombers relentlessly attacked Israel. The Israelis have one of the best fighting forces on the planet and they met the enemy head on. But no matter how hard they fought or how they won each encounter, the bombings continued. That was when Israeli leaders knew they needed a new game plan. So, they went after the money trail that financed everything from bomb-building factories to the cash bonuses issued to the families of suicide bombers.

Israel gave birth to a new multiagency task force codenamed Harpoon. It’s directive was to wage financial warfare against the enemies of the Jewish state. Harpoon tracked money to it source. That included charities in the US and multimillion-dollar transfers from Iran, the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. In 2002, Harpoon expanded. It now focuses on not only intercepting the cash and the accounts, but taking them from their enemies and destroying them if necessary.

Nitsana’s book covers all of this and shows that counterterrorism is not just fought on the battlefield or through cloak and dagger, it is waged on the financial front out of necessity. Israel laser focused on this in every agency… and it worked. They even utilized lawfare in US courts and internationally to file lawsuits to stop state sponsors of terror in their tracks. The banks and the intermediaries that give life to these murderous demons are fair game and any method that can be employed to take them down is used by Israel. I applaud that wholeheartedly.

I vehemently disagree with those in the west and in the US that decry Israel’s tactics here. They raid banks etc. to stop terrorism before people die. That’s called survival. I have been less than thrilled with President George W. Bush lately. He criticized Israel’s actions as being “Wild West” in nature. Really? Because it looks to me like they work. Which is more than can be said for what the US was doing before President Trump took office. I’m not always thrilled with him either, but at least he’s kicking ISIS’ ass these days. The US has come around to Israel’s way of thinking. It’s about damn time.

From Nitsana at Fox News:

The Americans saluted Israeli spy chief Meir Dagan – the mastermind behind Harpoon – and his understanding that money was the oxygen that enabled the terror beast to live and thrive. Dagan was intent on suffocating this malignant creature through any and all means at his disposal.

In the wake of terrorist attacks in Britain, France, Spain Belgium, Germany and Sweden in recent years, Europeans will need to use the highly effective financial warfare template that Israel has already established if they hope to defeat ISIS and the terror armies that will follow.

The European intelligence services will have to cut through red tape and muster their resources to bankrupt ISIS, intercept its ability to move money from country to country, and stop it from funding fighters and operations throughout the continent.

Rendering a group like ISIS insolvent will yield victorious battlefield results.

As Nitsana put it (and I wish I had said this darn it), “A smart and successful war on terror requires James Bonds and General Pattons, as well as one or two Bernie Madoffs – and their services are needed immediately.” This woman truly gets it. Bankrupting the enemy destroys their supply lines and their killing machines. I admire this reasoning and I love this book.

From Amazon.com:

A revelatory account of the cloak-and-dagger Israeli campaign to target the finances fueling terror organizations–an effort that became the blueprint for U.S. efforts to combat threats like ISIS and drug cartels.

ISIS boasted $2.4 billion of revenue in 2015, yet for too long the global war on terror overlooked financial warfare as an offensive strategy. “Harpoon,” the creation of Mossad legend Meir Dagan, directed spies, soldiers, and attorneys to disrupt and destroy money pipelines and financial institutions that paid for the bloodshed perpetrated by Hamas, Hezbollah, and other groups. Written by an attorney who worked with Harpoon and a bestselling journalist, Harpoon offers a gripping story of the Israeli-led effort, now joined by the Americans, to choke off the terrorists’ oxygen supply, money, via unconventional warfare.

“It’s a cliche after Watergate that the key investigation in most circumstances is to ‘follow the money’ (in the words of Deep Throat). This is the story of how Mossad led this movement and substantially effected investigations of terrorism and similarly important matters and how this influenced the CIA’s later work in the same field. Bravo Mossad! Thanks for leading the way” – R. James Woolsey, CIA director (1993-1995)

And here is the press release for the book, that gives an inside look:

The haunting images of the hijacked airliners crashing into the World Trade Center, the pools of blood on the streets of Paris, and the aftermath of the horrific massacres in a nightclub in Orlando and on the streets of Barcelona, have been seared into our collective conscious, leaving us all feeling frustrated, vulnerable and afraid. Tragically, the universal approach to combating this ruthless global threat has been focused on the conventional responses anchored in dilatory military actions that have produced foreseeable and pedestrian results. However, with groups like ISIS bringing in billions of dollars annually to finance their attacks, and the Islamic Republic of Iran bankrolling its proxies Hamas and Hezbollah with an endless flow of cash, a small and covert group of intelligence operatives spearheaded a dynamic new front to combat terrorist armies by depriving them of the oxygen they require to breath: the money needed to carry out attacks around the world. This is a story of a pioneering and innovative method of fighting terrorism – financial warfare waged against the extremist organizations, their leadership and the rogue regimes that support them. It all began in Israel, the small and embattled nation that has become fabled for its cutting edge hi-tech creativity and the prowess of its espionage services. This is the previously untold tale of perhaps the greatest and most disruptive Israeli start-up of them all and its joint-venture with the United States’ counterterrorism community.

In HARPOON: Inside The Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters, Israeli activist attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and New York Times bestselling author Samuel M. Katz bring to light the previously classified account of how one nation, facing a tsunami of unstoppable suicide terrorism, forged its intelligence, military, law enforcement, and political leaders into a powerful task force, code-named Harpoon, to combat terror financing around the world.

Traveling back to the 1990s, Darshan-Leitner and Katz introduce Meir Dagan, a legendary soldier and spymaster, who spent a lengthy military career serving the State of Israel in the up-close-and-personal world of deadly special operations ultimately becoming the director of the Mossad, the Jewish State’s famed espionage service. Dagan’s reputation was that of a warrior, a man who moved silently behind enemy lines with a dagger between his teeth. But as a commanding general frustrated with the limitations and inefficiencies of the conventional approach to warfare that failed to stem the waves of bus-bombings, drive-by shootings and suicide attacks in Israel, Dagan sought new and imaginative strategies. He pieced together an outside-the-box solution to target the source of the terrorists’ power, a complex underground economy of “blood money” that enlisted banks and charities to distribute funds to the diabolical masterminds behind the suicide attacks and catastrophic murders. Dagan assembled a dream team of specialists from the intelligence services, the Israel Defense Force, the National Police, and even Israel’s IRS, to fight the ever transforming terrorist groups and their money across the Middle East, South America, Africa, and around the globe. In the process, Harpoon fused an operational alliance with the highest reaches of the United States government to fight terror on a truly global front.

This is the untold and remarkable story of modern day “Untouchables.” This elite and covert force intercepted banking records, perpetrated financial con games, unleashed invasive and destructive computer malware attacks, called in missile strikes against bankers, and violently eliminated financiers and bag men in foreign capitals. This is also the story of the private lawyers who pioneered the use of American counterterrorism suits to bring terrorist groups, and the countries and financial institutions that provided them material support, to their knees.

I have several new heroes here. This is just my kind of book. These are the good guys, make no mistake about it. If you want a peak into the real war on terror, this book is it. Pick up a copy at Amazon.com. I’m passing mine on to friends in the counterterrorism fields here in the US. It’s an epic read.