How do you say “Momma Grizzly” in Norwegian?

September 30, 2010

Siv Jensen is the leader of the Progress Party in Norway. She’s also of a rare breed in Europe: a political leader who advocates small government and free markets. (In Europe, the conservatives are often not much less statist than the Left.) For her views, Jensen has been described as the “Margaret Thatcher of the North;” she’s also expressed her admiration for Sarah Palin.

Reason.TV conducted a short interview with Jensen that I thought some might find interesting:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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Breaking: Counterterrorism operation in Georgia?

September 29, 2010

Something’s going on just west of Atlanta:

A team of federal agents stopped tractor-trailers on Interstate 20 just west of Atlanta, inspecting each truck as it passed through a weigh station, and Channel 2 has learned its part of a counter-terrorism operation.

(…)

A TSA spokesman told Channel 2 the event is known as Visible Inter-mobile Prevention and Response, or VIPER, an operation that is conducted with local authorities as a training exercise. The TSA spokesman said the operation is not in response to a specific threat.

However, federal sources told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne the inspections are part of a counter-terrorism operation.

News Chopper 2 showed screening devices, dogs and a large drive-through bomb detection machine in use along the eastbound interstate near Lee Road.

It could just be an exercise, but given the recent news out of Europe and the increased American drone-strikes in Pakistan, one has to wonder if this is connected. I’ll update if any more news comes out.

Via Jihad Watch

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Plot to attack London foiled? Updated! Again!

September 28, 2010

It looks like the brave, brave jihadis were planning to do to London and other UK cities what they did to Mumbai:

Intelligence agencies have intercepted a terror plot to launch Mumbai-style attacks on Britain and other European countries, according to Sky News sources.

Sky’s foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall said militants based in Pakistan had been planning simultaneous strikes on London and major cities in France and Germany.

He said the plan was in the “advanced but not imminent stage” and the plotters had been tracked by spy agencies “for some time”.

Intelligence sources told Sky the planned attacks would have been similar to the commando-style raids carried out in Mumbai.

Then, Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba killed 166 people in a series of gun and grenade attacks in the Indian city.

This is jihad fi sabil Allah, “war for the sake of Allah.” These guys want to get to their twisted version of Paradise over our corpses.

They’re still trying to kill us.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

UPDATE: via Hot Air. Now we see the reason for the sudden rapid-fire round of drone strikes in Pakistan.

UPDATE II: Threat Matrix speculates about which jihadist groups might have been involved. Not surprisingly, Pakistani groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba are in the mix. But also mentioned is AQIM, which is raking in the big bucks via kidnapping for ransom. What was it I wrote about victims financing their own destruction? Oh, yeah


Failing states: is Mexico the new Colombia?

September 28, 2010

I’ve suggested in recent postings that Mexico and its cartel-spawned violence is coming to resemble Colombia’s war with leftist guerrillas and allied drug cartels, including the loss of state sovereignty over territory. Secretary of State Clinton made a similar observation, causing a minor diplomatic flap.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times criticizes this comparison, arguing that the analogy to Colombia is flawed:

As the death toll from drug-related violence nears 30,000 in four years, the impression that Mexico is losing control over big chunks of territory — the northern states of Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon and Durango at the top of this list — is prompting comparisons with the Colombia of years past. Under the combined onslaught of drug kingpins and leftist guerrillas, the South American country appeared to be in danger of collapse.

The Colombia comparison, long fodder for parlor debates in Mexico, gained new energy this month when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the tactics of Mexican cartels looked increasingly like those of a Colombia-style “insurgency,” which the U.S. helped fight with a military and social assistance program known as Plan Colombia that cost more than $7 billion.

But is Mexico the new Colombia? As the Obama administration debates what course to take on Mexico, finding the right fix depends on getting the right diagnosis.

The article then look at four facets of the comparison to see if the Colombian experience really does map to Mexico:

The Enemy: the authors correctly point out that Colombia’s problem originated with political rebellion – various flavors of Marxists trying to overthrow the state- while Mexico’s is, so far, more one of organized crime. Very bold and violent, but there is no political agenda. However, Colombia’s Leftist (and some Rightist) guerrilla groups eventually allied with the drug lords and even went into the business, themselves. There’s no reason to think the Mexican cartels couldn’t evolve in the opposite direction, to out and out rebellion, if the Mexican state weakens.

Land Grab: Journalist Ken Ellingwood is somewhat right when he asserts that, while the Colombian guerrillas at one time controlled vast swathes of territory from which Colombian authorities were banned, that hasn’t happened in Mexico. I say “somewhat,” because it almost seems like a distinction without a difference. Yes, no territory has been formally ceded to the cartels, as happened in Colombia. But what’s the practical difference when the Mexican Army gets blockaded in its bases; a newspaper gives up and says to the cartels “You win;” and the police chief of a major city has to live in an office closet with a gun under his pillow for his own safety? The cartels may not claim territory, but it’s clear who rules.

Who Gets Killed: Ellingwood  argues that the Colombian guerrillas attacked government officials and business men in an effort to topple the state. The Mexican cartels, on the other hand, while they they have killed cops and mayors (and even a gubernatorial candidate), are doing so as part of their war with each other. Yes, but the difference is… what? If government officials are getting whacked, it represents the breakdown of the state and civil society, regardless of whether it is part of an attempt to overthrow the government, or simply because they backed the wrong cartel. As with the territory issue, the end result is roughly the same.

A Weakening State: Here the article seems to argue that Colombia was in a better situation than that in which Mexico currently finds itself. State institutions fought back with the active support of the media and the public, particularly after an aggressive president, Alvaro Uribe, came to power. In Mexico, while President Calderon has launched his military against the cartels in some area, they’ve been largely ineffective. In addition, the police and court are notoriously corrupt. While Ellingwood describes the Mexican Army as more reliable that the police, it may be a question of relative positions on the scale of rottenness.

The article concludes with an argument, correct in my opinion, that Plan Colombia, which was tailored to specific Colombian needs, cannot be applied to Mexico as a “one size fits all” solution. Any solution (or solutions) will have to be designed with the particular qualities of Mexico’s problem in mind.

To come back to the original question, the analogy of Mexico now to Colombia of the 1980s and 1990s, while Mr. Ellingwood draws useful distinctions between the two nations, in my opinion they are largely academic. The essential quality of the situations in both countries is that rule of law, government, and civil society are under deadly assault by armed groups, whether directly targeted in an act of rebellion or as a byproduct of a war between criminal gangs. In that regard, the comparison is quite valid.


Another Mexican mayor assassinated

September 27, 2010

At this rate, being elected mayor in northern Mexico is beginning to resemble getting a promotion to admiral in the Imperial Navy in Star Wars. This time, it was the mayor of Doctor Gonzalez, in Nuevo Leon:

Armed assassins have killed a fourth Mexican mayor in less than six weeks’ time as drug war violence continues to engulf formerly calm parts of the country, authorities said Friday.

Gunmen Thursday night ambushed Prisciliano Rodriguez Salinas at his ranch home near the industrial center of Monterrey in northern Mexico. Rodriguez was mayor of the town of Doctor Gonzalez, just northeast of Monterrey.

Also Friday, Ricardo Solis, who was to be sworn in as mayor of another town in two weeks, was shot by an armed commando in the border state of Chihuahua, news reports from the region said. He was in critical condition.

Rodriguez was killed along with an employee by gunmen who lay in wait for the mayor, said Alejandro Garza, attorney general for the state of Nuevo Leon, where Doctor Gonzalez and Monterrey are located. Garza said the motive for the shootings remained under investigation.

The Mexican President expressed his condolences  and condemned the killing, which is about as effective as a sternly worded letter of concern from the UN.

I’ve written recently about Monterrey .

UPDATE: Have they implemented Shariah law? A Mexican mayor has been found stoned to death. (via quirky1too)


Colombian military sends FARC terrorist to Hell in style

September 27, 2010

The American military (and it’s rumored, the Israelis) have been training the Colombian military since the 1990s under Plan Colombia to improve their professionalism and effectiveness in their battle with various guerrilla groups and their allied drug cartels. They’ve learned well, having made great strides in the last decade: several terrorist groups have disarmed, while the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) have suffered serious setback and are on the run. They’ve also greatly improved their human rights record.

And they’ve also developed a sense of style. First it was the daring rescue by helicopter of Ingrid Betancourt, and now they’ve killed FARC’s second-in-command, tracking him down via a GPS device hidden in his boots:

The implanting of the GPS chip was possible after authorities intercepted a communication from the guerrillas requesting special shoes for the guerrilla leader, reported Colombia’s El Expectador.com (in Spanish).

According with the version of a security agent interviewed by RCN Radio (audio in Spanish), Briceño was suffering of diabetes that affected the blood circulation in his feet which, in recent months, caused him serious sores forcing him to use special footwear.

  • “The Colombia Security Agency intercepted the communication from the guerrillas requesting special shoes and was able to intervene in the delivery of the boots, which were shipped to him with a GPS microchip. The device allowed establishing the precise location of Mono Jojoy,”


said the unnamed security official.

When the guerrilla leader received the boots did not notice the tracking system installed, which was broadcasting his position for several days. Briceño’s location was determined in a jungle area of the Macarena Mountains, Meta Department, in central Colombia.

Briceño then awoke a few days later to find over 30 Colombian Air Force planes and helicopters raining flaming death on his camp.

I bet they got this trick from the Israelis. It just sounds like a Mossad tactic. Regardless, well done, Colombia.

(via Fausta)


Paying ransom only helps al Qaeda

September 27, 2010

There’s an interesting article at the Terror Finance Blog about the increase in the use of kidnapping to raise funds for jihadist groups, specifically Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), bin Laden’s North African franchise:

Kidnapping-for-ransom is considered by many experts as an “alternative source of terrorism financing.” But the recent abduction of five French nationals in Niger by the Al Qaeda’s Islamic Maghreb terrorist group (AQIM) highlights a worrisome regional trend that emerged in 2003, when AQIM first launched a major hostage taking campaign targeting foreign tourists.

Since then, AQIM has developed a growing criminal industry that sustains itself through huge ransoms they extort and drug trafficking.

It is estimated that the kidnap-for-ransom business in the Sahel region alone, put at least $65 million in the coffers of AQIM since 2005. More than 90% of the group’s funding derives from this single financial source. The rest comes from drug trafficking and donations.

The kidnapping business is so good, that hostage taking in the Sahel region had risen 150% between 2008 and 2009. The average ransom for the release of a Western hostage is $6.5 million.

Since 2008, AQIM raised more than $25 million from ransom for foreign nationals in the Sahel region. This makes AQIM richer than “Al Qaeda Central”, whose annual income was recently estimated by U.S. officials to be between $5 million to $10 million.

The article then goes on to talk about efforts to criminalize the payment of ransom, though I suspect that would be an exercise in futility when governments themselves can pay ransom via back-channels. Italy infamously paid ransom to Iraqi terrorists to recover journalist Giuliana Sgrena in 2005, while France has been rumored to have criticized Spain for paying ransom to AQIM. (Though Paris now denies this.)

But the real problem here (aside from paying kidnappers at all) is that this money is then used by AQIM (and al Qaeda, which surely gets a cut) to finance not only further kidnappings, but terrorist operations in North Africa, Europe, and around the world. Operations that get our people killed. In effect, governments and corporations are financing the hijackers and suicide bombers sent against us. And you can bet some of this money is going to research into easy means of mass destruction, such as poison gas.

Harsh and heartless as it would be to do so, the only way to stop these kidnappings is to refuse to pay any ransom; rather than treating the terrorist kidnappers are criminals, they should be hunted down and killed. And yes, that is in full recognition of the possible consequences.

If, instead, we keep paying, we’re only giving them the rope they’ll use to hang us.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)