February 5, 2017

Breaking: Ballistic missile strikes Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

According to emerging reports from Yemen, a surface-to-surface missile fired by the Yemeni Army has hit the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

The missile was launched on Sunday evening, and sources in Yemen have described the missile test as successful.  It is unclear exactly what missile was used, and casualty figures, if any, are yet to be reported.

Saudi Arabia intervened military in the Yemeni Conflict in 2015, leading a coalition of almost 10 Middle Eastern countries. In October 2016, a Yemeni activist warned that Riyadh was the next target for a Yemeni missile attack.

Update 1: More information has emerged, suggesting that the missile was a variant of a Russian Scud missile, known as the “Borkan” surface-to-surface missile.

Update 2: Sources indicate that the missile struck a military base West of Riyadh, in Mazahimiyah.

Update 3: On social media, a Saudi attempts to cover-up the attack, saying that the sound of the explosion in Riyadh was an earthquake or meteor.


Hamas explosives chief said killed in accidental blast

Terror group says Muhammad Walid al-Quqa, 37, died of wounds sustained while ‘preparing equipment’ in northern Gaza

A senior Hamas field commander died Sunday of wounds incurred a day earlier in an accidental blast, the Gaza-based terror group said.

Hamas’s military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said in a statement posted to its official website that high-ranking field commander Muhammad Hemada Walid al-Quqa, 37, died Sunday morning. Other reports from Gaza said he was 44 years old.

According to the statement, Quqa was “preparing equipment” in the field when he was injured in an explosion.



Hezbollah targeted Israeli diplomats in Brazil in 1989, declassified files show

Terror group planned to kidnap Israelis in Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Correio Braziliense reports, citing newly revealed documents

RIO DE JANEIRO – The terrorist group Hezbollah sent operatives to Brazil in order to commit attacks on diplomatic representatives of Israel, according to previously classified documents.

Latin America’s largest nation was targeted by the Lebanese terrorist group at least twice, most recently in 1989, reported the Correio Braziliense newspaper on Saturday. Hezbollah operatives planned to kidnap Israeli diplomats in both the capital city of Brasilia and in Sao Paulo. The information had been restricted to the military and top-level officials in Brazil and Israel until last month, and has now been made public.




The U.S. military’s stats on deadly airstrikes are wrong. Thousands have gone unreported

By: Andrew deGrandpre and Shawn Snow, February 5, 2017 (Photo Credit: Capt. Jarrod Morris/Army)

The American military has failed to publicly disclose potentially thousands of lethal airstrikes conducted over several years in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, a Military Times investigation has revealed. The enormous data gap raises serious doubts about transparency in reported progress against the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Taliban, and calls into question the accuracy of other Defense Department disclosures documenting everything from costs to casualty counts.

In 2016 alone, U.S. combat aircraft conducted at least 456 airstrikes in Afghanistan that were not recorded as part of an open-source database maintained by the U.S. Air Force, information relied on by Congress, American allies, military analysts, academic researchers, the media and independent watchdog groups to assess each war’s expense, manpower requirements and human toll. Those airstrikes were carried out by attack helicopters and armed drones operated by the U.S. Army, metrics quietly excluded from otherwise comprehensive monthly summaries, published online for years, detailing American military activity in all three theaters.



Video reveals the moment a suicide boat rams Saudi Arabian warship

The Saudi Arabian defence force video, obtained by Al Arabiya News, showing the suicide-boat strike.

Staff writers, agenciesNews Corp Australia Network

DRAMATIC video has emerged of the moment a suicide boat rammed a Saudi frigate last week — an attack believed to have been intended for a US warship.

The Al Arabia news network has released the footage, taken from the frigate’s air operations observation platform overlooking the helicopter pad on the rear of the ship.

It had been previously reported that the ship had been hit by a guided missile. But the footage reveals a Yemeni rebel speed boat dashing over the horizon and into the warship’s stern.

The Saudi warship has returned to its home port in Jeddah on Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s national news agency said.

“The frigate, which was attacked by the Huthi militia while on patrol in the Red Sea, has returned to Jeddah as planned,” the Saudi Press Agency reports.

Saudi Arabia said last week that two sailors were killed and three wounded when battleship Al-Madinah was hit by a Yemeni rebel “suicide” boat strike off the Red Sea port of Hodeida.



Western navies hold major drill off coast of Iran

British-led ‘United Trident’ exercises come in light of increased Iranian harassment of naval vessels in Persian Gulf

File: The USS Stennis on its way to the Persian Gulf in 2012. (Department of Defense/Randi R. Brown, US Navy)

File: The USS Stennis on its way to the Persian Gulf in 2012. (Department of Defense/Randi R. Brown, US Navy)

Western navies held a series of drills off the coast of Iran last week, in a show of force in light of increased Iranian harassment of foreign military vessels.

The exercises, dubbed “United Trident,” were led by the United Kingdom and included ships from the US, France and Australia. The navies practiced fighting off enemy aerial incursions and mine clearing, as well as live fire drills, according to the British daily Telegraph.

The final drill featured 13 ships from the allied navies sailing in formation, with helicopters flying overhead.

British naval officials told the Telegraph that the drills had been planned for some time and were not connected to US President Donald Trump’s recent adoption of a more hardline stance against Iran, which resulted in the imposition of sanctions Friday on a number of individuals and entities involved in the country’s ballistic missile program. Rather, they said, they were rather meant to promote stability in the Persian Gulf and to ensure “the free flow of commerce” through the Strait of Hormuz.




NORAD Exercise in Washington DC

The North American Aerospace Defense Command and its geographical component, the Continental United States NORAD Region, will conduct exercise Falcon Virgo 17-05 Monday night into Tuesday morning in the National Capital Region, Washington, D.C., with flights scheduled to take place between approximately midnight and 2:30 a.m. (EST).

In the event of inclement weather, the exercise will take place the following morning. If bad weather continues, officials will then make a decision to postpone or cancel the exercise.
The exercise is comprised of a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Capital Region Coordination Center, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center, and the Western Air Defense Sector.

Exercise Falcon Virgo is designed to hone NORAD’s intercept and identification operations as well as operationally test the NCR Visual Warning System and training personnel at the JADOC. Two Civil Air Patrol C-182 aircraft and a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter will participate in the exercise.
These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure CONR’s rapid response capability. NORAD has conducted exercise flights of this nature throughout the U.S. and Canada since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.


Russia tells Britain give back Gibraltar & Falklands before telling US what to do

RUSSIA has told Britain it should “clean its conscience” and give back Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands before it criticises them over their involvement in Ukraine.

Vitaly and Churkin and Matthew Rycroft clashed during a UN security council

Moscow’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin made the shocking remarks when responding to his British counterpart Matthew Rycroft at a UN security council meeting in New York.Speaking about the 2014 ousting of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych, he said: “I can only remind you that everything began with a coup, largely supported from outside the country.”

Laying into Britain, he said: “As for the position of the UK representative, I would liket to advise: give back the Malvinas [Falkland] Islands, give back Gibraltar, return the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean, which you turned into a huge military base.


Serbian Defense Ministry to Receive Six MiG-29 Jets From Russia by May

Russian specialists would help Belgrade modernize six aircraft to be received from Russia, as well as four fighter jets from the Serbian Air Force fleet, according to local media.

BELGRADE (Sputnik) — The Serbian Defense Ministry will receive six Mikoyan MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia before the end of April, Serbian media reported Sunday.

According to the Tanjug news agency, citing the ministry, Russian specialists would help Belgrade modernize six aircraft to be received from Russia, as well as four fighter jets from the Serbian Air Force fleet.

Belgrade expects that after the modernization the aircraft would begin service as part of the country’s 204th Air Brigade by 2018, the media outlet added.

Jordan hits ISIL targets in southern Syria

Military strikes armed group two years after a Jordanian pilot was captured and burned alive in a cage.

Jordan said its forces used drones and precision-guided munitions in the operation [File: EPA]

Jordan said late on Saturday that its warplanes bombed positions held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in southern Syria, two years after one of its pilots was captured and killed by the armed group.

Friday’s strikes came on the second anniversary of ISIL’s release of video showing pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh being burned alive in a cage after his aircraft crashed in Syria in December 2014.


NATO to Start Training Soldiers in Iraq

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization will begin its training effort in Iraq on Sunday, as the alliance looks to step up its efforts to assist in the fight against Islamic State, according to NATO’s secretary-general.

The effort to train Iraqi soldiers in how to better counter the threat of improvised explosive devices inside Iraq will be small at first, but NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it is an effort that could expand.


US embarrassed after deadly Yemen raid video outed as fake

In an awkward reversal, the US military promptly withdrew an old video by unidentified Yemeni militants it had released yesterday as evidence that a fatal raid in Yemen by American special forces this week that led to the deaths of at least 16 women and children was a counterterrorism success.

An expert in radical Muslim media said the footage by unknown militants appeared to be part of videos first released by extremists online some ten years ago, undermining the Pentagon’s explanation about its value.

A US Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman confirmed that the video was removed from the website because the contents were old.


Turkey detains some 400 IS suspects in nationwide raids: Reports


Even in the usually peaceful city of Izmir, nine people suspected of travelling to Syria and planning attacks in the city were detained

Turkish police on Sunday detained hundreds of suspected members of the Islamic State group in nationwide raids, just over a month after an attack on an Istanbul nightclub claimed by the militants.

Among around 400 detained in the biggest operation so far against IS after the New Year attack were foreigners and those suspected of planning attacks in Turkey, the Dogan and Anadolu news agencies reported.

The operation around the country saw 150 suspects detained in Sanliurfa in the southeast and 47 in the nearby city of Gaziantep, close to the Syrian border, Dogan said


Sweden to consider military partnership with UK

As well as the UK, six other Nato countries – Denmark, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Netherlands – are Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) members.
“We have also held discussions with Finland and will undertake a joint analysis of potential participation in JEF. We will coordinate our position on this,” Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
JEF has no standing forces, but participating countries provide various units that can respond in a crisis situation.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron offers refuge to US scientists who are ‘afraid’ of Trump

  • Emmanuel Macron encouraged US scientists to move to France on Saturday
  • He offered his homeland to innovators who could help rebuild the country
  • Macron didn’t name Trump but referenced the American president in his speech
  • The former economy minister said those ‘who were fighting obscurantism and afraid, will have a new homeland’ 

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron called on U.S. scientists who were ‘afraid’ and at odds with Donald Trump’s administration to move to France.

The former economy minister urged U.S.-based scientists working on climate change, renewable energy or health issues to seek refuge across the Atlantic on Saturday.

He offered his homeland up to the inventive minds who were wary of the new political situation, so they could help rebuild a more innovative France.


German Social Democrats leader wants to send refugees back to North Africa

The chairman of the Social Democrats (SPD) has said a comprehensive approach to the migrant crisis had to involve the return of refugees to North Africa. His words echoed sentiments made by Germany’s interior minister.

Deutschland Thomas Oppermann, Fraktionsvorsitzender der SPD (picture-alliance/dpa/B.v. Jutrczenka)

Marking a shift in his party’s rhetoric, the chairman of the SPD-Parliamentary Group, Thomas Oppermann, spoke out in favor of sending refugees arriving on boats back to North Africa. In an editorial he penned in the Sunday edition of the German daily newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, Oppermann justified his view arguing that this would be an important step to curb human trafficking.


US and Japan carry out missile launch drills in Pacific – Tokyo

A test launch of US/Japan-made anti-ballistic SM-3 missiles in the Pacific Ocean has gone off successfully, Japanese officials said. The test was conducted in cooperation with the United States.

The SM-3 Block IIA missiles were launched from a US warship equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System and successfully hit a hypothetical target – a ballistic missile, Japan’s Logistics Agency under the Defense Ministry said, according to Japan’s state newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

The drills took place in the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian Islands on Sunday, the agency added.


North Korea Possibly Supplying Missile Technology to Iran — Did Obama Know

– The Washington Times 

Speculation is mounting that North Korea is supplying missile technology to the real Islamic State, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Recent missile tests coming out of Tehran have caused the Trump administration to once again apply targeted sanctions against the regime.  For its part, Iran has declared that it will continue the missile tests and that they do not violate the agreement reached with the Obama administration.

The North Korean analysis site, 38North.org, reported on the recent Iranian test, saying, “[Some analysts have ] speculated that it relies on a liquid-fueled engine originally developed by the Isayev Design Bureau for the Soviet R-27 submarine-launched ballistic missile … The ramifications of such a connection would be significant, not only because it would signify ongoing close Iranian-North Korean missile cooperation, but also because such an engine would be a foundation for Iran to develop a viable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).”

The website went on to say very forcefully that the reports of such collaboration are unconfirmed.


S Korea opens €100mn LOC for Iranian producers

News ID: 3896318 – Sat 4 February 2017 – 19:32
TEHRAN, Feb. 04 (MNA) – EDBI head said South Korea had allocated a Line of Credit (LOC) worth 100 million euros for imports of raw materials manufactured in Iran.

Ali Salehabadi, Managing Director of the Export Development Bank of Iran (EDBI), pointed to arrival of a cargo for equipment of Chabahar Port Phase one saying “Indians are extremely eager to make presence in the Iranian port and the Leader has also urged inclusion of sustainable development of Mokran Shores in the Sixth National Development Plan.”

“Cargos worth 350 million dollars have been received for development of Chabahar port in partnership with EDBI,” he added.


Two-thirds of British people think selling arms to Saudi Arabia is unacceptable

Findings come days before judicial review into UK arms exports to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen

May Bulman


Nearly two-thirds of people in the UK oppose exporting arms to Saudi Arabia, a survey has found.

An Opinium poll of 2,000 UK adults found 62 per cent of them disagreed with the arms sales from the UK to the Middle Eastern nation, with only 11 per cent supporting them.

Nearly one in four respondents — 71 per cent — meanwhile opposed arms exports to countries that have been accused of violating international humanitarian law, with the same proportion opposing arms exports to countries with poor human rights records. Less than six per cent of people supported these acts.


British warships ‘so noisy’ Russian submarines can hear them 100 miles away, investigation finds

Britain’s ability to defend itself against a major attack has been called into question after an investigation found serious shortcomings in the country’s military capabilities.

The Navy’s Type 45 destroyers are so loud they can be heard 100 miles away by Russian submarines, it has emerged.

Rear Admiral Chris Parry said the six warships, which cost £1 billion each, sounded like “a box of spanners” underwater.


Revealed: UK defence ‘at risk’ due to billions wasted on trophy kit including warships that ‘sound like a box of spanners’ and can be heard by Russian subs 100 MILES away

  • The nay’s six Type 45 destroyers, which cost £1billion each, are ‘as noisy as hell’ 
  • The Ajax tank has to be dismantled before it is transported by air in the A400m 
  • And 54 reconnaissance drones have not been used since order 12 years ago
  • MoD defended blunders by saying defence budget is the biggest in Europe 

The Ministry of Defence was criticised last night for leaving Britain vulnerable to attack due to a series of equipment blunders.

New tanks are too big to fit in the planes that will get them to warzones and our ships and can be heard by Russian submarines 100 miles away, it has emerged.

Rear Admiral Chris Parry described the navy’s Type 45 destroyers, which cost £1billion each, as sounding like ‘a box of spanners’ underwater.

Rear Admiral Chris Parry described the navy’s Type 45 destroyers, which cost £1billion each, as sounding like ‘a box of spanners’ underwater

He said they were ‘noisy as hell’ and slammed the MoD for not ‘thinking about the anti-submarine element’.

They also suffer frequent engine problems which cause them to break down in warm seas despite being designed to function between 50C and -20C.

All six are having new diesel generators installed which involves cutting a hole in the side of the ships and will take around nine years.

Meanwhile, the Army’s Ajax tanks, which cost £3.5bn each, can’t fit on board the A400m transport aircraft without needing to be dismantled.


Sources: Feds identify Philly woman in probe of secret recordings at GOP retreat

[Editor’s Note: While this is a political story it indicates that the Secret Service failed to properly control access to a place where the Vice President was speaking. ]

by Jeremy Roebuck & Jonathan Tamari – Staff Writers

Federal authorities have identified a Philadelphia journalist as the woman who infiltrated and might have secretly recorded a closed-door discussion of congressional Republicans at their Center City retreat last week, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the matter.

After a probe involving multiple agencies, they said Emily Guendelsberger is unlikely to face federal charges in Philadelphia, despite getting past security and into a room in the Loews hotel where Vice President Pence met privately with senators and representatives.

Navy decommissions ‘legendary’ carrier that shaped history

USS Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.  (U.S. Navy)

The U.S. Navy has officially decommissioned the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

During Friday’s ceremony at a Newport News shipyard, the USS Enterprise was described as a “legendary” vessel that helped shape history. It served more than 50 years, playing a role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Affectionately called the “Big E,” the ship retired from service in 2012. The Navy has spent the last few years defueling its reactors. The ship will eventually be taken apart and its metal recycled.


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