US-Soldaten in Afghanistan



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"Bizarre fake murder plot points to Ukrainian state’s recklessness, unreliability"

Die Affäre um die vorgetäuschte Ermordung des Journalisten Arkady Babchenko in der Ukraine sollte westlichen Regierungen nach Ansicht von Joseph Fitsanakis als Warnung gelten. "Welcome to Ukraine, a strange, corrupt and ultra-paranoid state that is on the front lines of what some describe as a new Cold War between the West and Russia. Like the Cold War of the last century, the present confrontation is fought largely through information. (...) The amateurishness and recklessness of some Eastern European countries that the West sees as allies in its confrontation with Russia, such as Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, and others, would be humorous if it were not so dangerous. The manifest idiocy of the Babchenko fake plot also poses serious questions about the West’s policy vis-à-vis  Russia. It is one thing for the West to be critical of the Kremlin and its policies - both domestic and foreign. It is quite another for it to place its trust on governments and intelligence services as those of Ukraine, which are clearly unreliable, unprofessional, and appear to lack basic understanding of the role of information in international affairs."

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"Britain launched first-ever military-style cyber campaign against ISIS, says spy chief"

Jeremy Fleming, Direktor des britischen Geheimdienstes GCHQ, hat in einer Rede in Manchester erklärt, dass Großbritannien zum ersten Mal eine offensive Cyberkampagne im militärischen Stil durchgeführt habe. Ziel der Operationen sei der "Islamische Staat" gewesen. "Fleming told his Manchester audience that the cyber operation that targeted ISIS was a 'major offensive campaign' that seriously hampered the group’s ability to launch and coordinate both physical and online attacks against its enemies. The campaign also prevented ISIS from using its 'normal channels' online to spread its message, effectively suppressing the group’s propaganda efforts, said Fleming. (...) he added that the methods used to combat the Sunni Muslim group’s online operations were so aggressive that they 'even destroyed equipment and networks' used by ISIS members. (...) During his Manchester speech, Fleming claimed that the British cyber war against ISIS was conducted in compliance with existing international legal frameworks. He added, however, that the 'international doctrine governing the use [of cyber weapons] is still evolving'."

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"Analysis: Will the mass expulsion of diplomats affect Russia’s spy capabilities?"

Joseph Fitsanakis schreibt, dass die Bedeutung der Ausweisung von über hundert russischen Diplomaten durch mehrere Länder nicht nur von großer politischer Bedeutung sei, sondern auch für die Geheimdienstarbeit Russlands Folgen haben dürfte. Die zu erwartende Reaktion Moskaus werde die in den westlichen Botschaften in Russland aktiven Geheimdienste allerdings noch härter treffen. "(...) the Russian response to Monday’s diplomatic expulsions will virtually decimate entire stations of several European intelligence agencies on Russian soil, and will even cut into the foreign diplomatic community in several Russian cities. On balance, these tit-for-tat expulsions will hurt the West more than Russia, because it is more difficult for the West to run espionage operations inside Russia than it is for Russia to spy in the West. (...) diplomatic cover is far more useful for Western intelligence services working inside Russia, than for Russian intelligence services working in the West."

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"Trump has made record use of US Special Forces since becoming president"

Ian Allen schreibt, dass US-Präsident Trump neuen Statistiken zufolge mehr internationale Einsätze von US-Spezialeinheiten als jeder andere Präsident angeordnet habe. "According to the statistics provided by the US Special Operations Command, it appears more than 10 percent (8,000 troops) of the US Special Operations Command’s 70,000 troops are deployed each day. These deployments take place daily in more than 80 countries. This rate of deployment represents a significant increase from the eight years of the administration of US President Barack Obama, which ended in 2016. That year, US Special Forces troops were deployed in 138 countries, according to media reports. The Trump administration’s use of Special Forces troops also represents a jump of approximately 150 percent from the last Republican administration, that of George W. Bush, which ended in early 2008. (...) These numbers echo the record growth of the US Special Forces community since September 11, 2001, when Washington declared its global war on terrorism. Observers estimate the post-9/11 numerical growth of US Special Forces at 75 percent."

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"Analysis: Decoding Britain’s response to the poisoning of Sergei Skripal"

Joseph Fitsanakis weist in seiner Analyse der britischen Reaktion auf die Vergiftung eines russischen Ex-Spions darauf hin, dass die Regierung mit der Ausweisung von 23 russischen Diplomaten das gesamte offizielle Personal Russlands in Großbritannien um fast 40% reduzieren werde. "Perhaps the most interesting part of Mrs. May’s speech came at the end, when she mentioned that her government would 'deploy a range of tools from across the full breadth of our national security apparatus in order to counter the threats of hostile state activity'. Most of these measures, she added, 'cannot be shared publicly, for reasons of national security'. This statement means that Britain’s response to Skripal’s poisoning will be multi-level, and will include diplomatic, political, economic, and intelligence components. It is the latter that Mrs. May did not disclose during her speech on Wednesday, and which could potentially be the most harmful to Russian interests. One theory is that the British prime minister may have hinted at the revival of a host of intelligence operations against Russia, which the British government abandoned at the end of the Cold War. But if that is the case, it will be years before these long-abandoned programs will begin to bear fruit."

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"Egyptian branch of ISIS declares war on Hamas as tensions rise in Sinai"

Der "Islamische Staat" auf der Halbinsel Sinai in Ägypten hat der palästinensischen Hamas in Gaza offenbar den Krieg erklärt. Experten betrachten die Gruppe, die sich Wilayat Sinai nennt, Joseph Fitsanakis zufolge als mittlerweile stärksten internationalen Ableger der Terrormiliz. "Israeli sources claim that, in the past, Wilayat Sinai has had limited cooperation with Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, a coastal section of the Palestinian territories that borders with Egypt’s Sinai Province. (...) But the two groups have major ideological differences that contribute to their increasingly tense relationship. (...) In the past month, ISIS accused Hamas of having failed to prevent America’s formal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Additionally, ISIS is opposed to the support that Hamas receives from Iran, a Shiite nation that ISIS regards as heretical. (...) According to experts, the decision by Wilayat Sinai to declare war on Hamas means that the group has now virtually surrounded itself with adversaries. The move may also increase informal collaboration between Hamas and the Israeli government, say observers."

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"Year in review: The biggest spy-related stories of 2017, part III"

Joseph Fitsanakis und Ian Allen haben in drei Beiträgen die aufsehenerregendsten Geschichten über internationale Geheimdienstentwicklungen des vergangenen Jahres zusammengetragen. "Since 2008, when we launched intelNews, it has been our end-of-year tradition to take a look back and highlight what we see as the most important intelligence-related stories of the past 12 months. In anticipation of what 2018 may bring in this highly volatile field, we give you our selection of the top spy stories of 2017. They are listed below in reverse order of significance. This is the last part in a three-part series."

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"Despite retreat, ISIS still earns $50 million a year from oil, says expert"

Der Politikwissenschaftler Patrick Johnston von der RAND Corporation hat Joseph Fitsanakis zufolge darauf aufmerksam gemacht, dass die jährlichen Öleinnahmen des "Islamischen Staates", die aufgrund der jüngsten Gebietsverluste des Kalifats zwar deutlich zurückgegangen seien, immer noch etwa 50 Millionen US-Dollar betragen. "Johnston said that Islamic State coffers will most likely receive nearly $50 million this year from oil profits alone, an amount that remains formidable for any militant group. Much of that will come from extortion, said the RAND Corporation scientist, as groups of Islamic State fighters force commercial enterprises - including oil installations - in eastern Syria to pay them for 'protection'. Additionally, the group continues to tax energy consumption in the areas that it controls, while also taxing fuel trucks that transit through areas under its control. As the militant group’s expenses shrink due to its loss of territory, and as its financial obligations decrease, its oil-derived revenue will be more than sufficient to sustain its operations, according to Johnston."

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"Despite tragic deaths, New York attack reveals a weakened ISIS"

Joseph Fitsanakis hält den Anschlag in New York, für den offenbar ein usbekischer Anhänger des "Islamischen Staates" verantwortlich war, trotz der acht Todesopfer für ein Zeichen der Schwäche der Terrororganisation. "(...) if the Islamic State’s deadliest response to its retreat in the Middle East is a clumsy truck driver armed with a pellet gun, then Americans have little to fear from the terrorist group. (...) To begin with, an attack on cyclists with a rented utility vehicle is hardly ground-breaking at this point. (...) Additionally, the perpetrator of the attack, Uzbek immigrant Sayfullo Saipov, is hardly an inspiring figure for Islamic State supporters. (...) Once again, the question is: if the Islamic State does not utilize its deadliest and most capable operatives now, when its very existence in its Middle Eastern stronghold is being directly challenged, then when will it do so?"

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"West should prepare for chemical attacks by the Islamic State"

Joseph Fitsanakis hält es für denkbar, dass Mitglieder des "Islamischen Staates" ihre Erfahrungen mit chemischen Kampfstoffen in Syrien und Irak nutzen könnten, um im Westen entsprechende Terroranschläge durchzuführen. Die Sicherheitsbehörden bereiten sich demnach bereits auf entsprechende Notfallszenarien vor. "How likely is such a scenario? Terrorist groups tend to be conservative in their use of lethal technologies. They typically opt for time-tested methods using explosives or firearms, because these have a higher of success in comparison to more sophisticated, hi-tech weapons. The latter are also more expensive to build and require scientific and technical capabilities that are not typically available to terrorist organizations. Militants are usually strapped for cash, and are not science-savvy, so exceptions to this general trend are rare. But the Islamic State is different. Ever since it made its eventful appearance in 2013, the group has experimented with a variety of chemicals, including nerve agents. (...) The Islamic State’s rapid loss of territory in the past year has delivered serious blows to the group’s military infrastructure. Its chemical weapons program, which was targeted early on by the US, Iran and other belligerents, is now almost certainly defunct. But many of its engineers and technical experts are still at large, as are those who were trained by them during the group’s heyday in Iraq and Syria."

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"US troops in Syria battle anti-Assad rebels once funded by the CIA"

Zwischen in Syrien aktiven US-Truppen und Rebellen, die lange von der CIA unterstützt worden sind, ist es Berichten zufolge zu einem Gefecht gekommen. "Early on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Combined Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve told reporters that US troops in Syria had come under fire by Turkish-commanded former Free Syrian Army units. The spokesman told reporters in Kuwait City that the rebels shot at US troops in the outskirts of Manbij, a northern Syrian city of about 70,000, located a few miles from the Turkish border. The American soldiers reportedly returned fire before seeking shelter from the assault. According to the US Pentagon, the Turkish government was promptly contacted by Inherent Resolve commanders, who described the incident as 'not acceptable'. Washington alleges that its troops have come under fire 'multiple times' in the past month."

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"CIA’s withdrawal from Syria could cause pro-US rebels to join Islamists, experts warn"

Die künftig ausfallende Unterstützung der CIA für Rebellengruppen in Syrien könnte bisher "proamerikanische" Kämpfer nach Ansicht einiger Experten dazu bringen, sich radikalislamischen Gruppen anzuschließen. "Writing in The Christian Science Monitor, Taylor Luck, said earlier this week that the Free Syrian Army reported 50 defections of its fighters in July. Some of these fighters, says Luck, are joining the Pentagon’s program in support of forces fighting the Islamic State, and are currently heading to the eastern and northern battlefronts. But many others are being tempted to join al-Qaeda affiliated groups, who are still fighting President Assad’s forces. Many do so for financial reasons, after seeing their CIA income suddenly disappear. Others, says Luck, are feeling very emotional and bitter against what they see as a betrayal by Washington."

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"Analysis: Unease in Europe as Turkey intensifies espionage abroad"

Joseph Fitsanakis erläutert die Hintergründe der Kontroverse um die mutmaßlichen Spionageaktivitäten des türkischen Geheimdienstes MIT in Deutschland. Der BND habe die vom MIT erbetene Kooperation bei der Überwachung hunderter Einzelpersonen aus guten Gründen nicht nur abgelehnt, sondern auch öffentlich gemacht. "It is clear that the BND is not willing to allow a war of spies between rival Turkish factions in Germany. The last time something similar took place on German soil it led to the 1972 Munich Massacre. In the summer of 1972, Palestinian militants stormed the Olympic Village during the Olympic Games in the capital of Bavaria and killed nearly a dozen Israeli athletes. Germany has learned from that experience and is determined not to let another ethnic- or religious-based civil war between foreign entities erupt on its soil again. But this will not be easy. Some experts estimate that there are now more MİT intelligence operatives in Germany than the total number of Stasi spies in West Germany during the Cold War. Such estimates are unsettling and may point to an international intelligence-collection operation of near-unprecedented in scale by the Turkish state."

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"Trump authorizes CIA to bring back regular use of drone strikes"

Einem Bericht des Wall Street Journal zufolge will US-Präsident Trump der CIA erlauben, ihren internationalen Drohnenkrieg künftig wieder ohne die von Präsident Obama eingeführten Beschränkungen zu führen. "(...) in 2013 the US president severely curtailed the controversial program, which some say damaged America’s image by inflicting civilian casualties. But on Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that President Trump had resuscitated the drone program and authorized the CIA to begin using Predator drones on a regular basis against identified targets in the Middle East and Central Asia. According to the newspaper, the president gave senior CIA project mangers the right to authorize drone strikes. Under the Obama administration, the president himself, or especially designated National Security Council officials, had to give the go-ahead before the CIA could carry out drone strikes around the world."

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"Leaked EU intelligence report says Islamists were not behind Turkey coup"

Ein Untersuchungsbericht der EU kommt offenbar zu dem Schluss, dass die islamistische Gülen-Bewegung nicht hinter dem missglückten Putschversuch in der Türkei stecke. "(...) a report compiled by the EU Intelligence and Situation Centre, known as IntCen, states that Gülenists had nothing to do with the coup, and that the current crackdown against them by the government was planned years in advance. Founded in 2012, IntCen is the intelligence-sharing body of the EU. Its reports are the results of collaborative efforts of intelligence officers from all EU states. They are distributed on a confidential basis to senior EU officials and to the ambassadors of EU states in Brussels, Belgium. The report on the coup in Turkey is entitled 'Turkey: The Impact of the Gülenist Movement'. It was issued on August 24 and is marked 'confidential'. But it was accessed by British newspaper The Times, which published extracts on Tuesday."

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"Swiss vote to give unprecedented surveillance powers to spy agencies"

Die Schweizer haben in einer Volksabstimmung mit deutlicher Mehrheit beschlossen, ihrem Geheimdienst NDB im Kampf gegen den Terrorismus erheblich ausgeweitete Überwachungskompetenzen einzuräumen. Ian Allen schreibt, dass diese Entscheidung durchaus ungewöhnlich sei, da Privatsphäre und Bürgerrechte in der Schweiz traditionell sehr geschätzt werden. "Opponents of the proposed law warned that it would end Switzerland’s long history of protecting civil liberties and would increase cooperation between Swiss and foreign spy agencies, thus harming the country’s tradition of political neutrality. But terrorist attacks in nearby Belgium and France have shaken public opinion in the small alpine country, which is home to numerous international agencies, including a regional branch of the United Nations. Consequently, nearly 66 percent of voters backed the proposal in elections on Sunday, which saw a 41 percent rate of participation. The result will allow the Swiss intelligence and security services, such as the Federal Intelligence Service, to put suspects under electronic surveillance using wiretaps, internet-based software, and hidden devices such as cameras and microphones."

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"The security implications of the Panama Papers"

Joseph Fitsanakis macht ebenfalls darauf aufmerksam, dass die spektakuläre Veröffentlichung der "Panama Papers" durch die Süddeutsche Zeitung und andere Medien auch eine sicherheitspolitische Komponente habe. Die neuen Informationen belegten, dass die Linie zwischen Steuerhinterziehung, krimineller Geldwäsche und terroristischen Aktivitäten fast verschwunden sei. Nationalstaaten würden durch die Steuerausfälle zudem wichtige Mittel fehlen, um effektiv gegen organisierte Kriminalität und Terrorgruppen vorzugehen. "The Süddeutsche Zeitung revelations demonstrate that the line that separates legitimate economic activity from the rogue underbelly of global capitalism is exceedingly thin. It is high time that Western intelligence agencies viewed this worrying development as an asymmetrical threat against the security of law-abiding societies and began dealing with offshore tax havens with the same intensity that they have displayed against terrorist safe havens since 9/11."

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"US, Russian spies often cooperate despite differences, says CIA director"

CIA-Direktor John Brennan hat in einem Interview angegeben, dass die USA und Russland bei der Terrorismusbekämpfung trotz der außenpolitischen Spannungen der letzten Jahre immer noch eng kooperierten. "Brennan described the CIA’s relationship with Russian intelligence operatives as a 'very factual, informative exchange. If we get information about threats to Russian citizens or diplomats, we will share it with the Russians', said the CIA director, adding: 'they do the same with us'. Brennan, a fluent Arabic speaker who spent many years in Saudi Arabia, used the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, as an example of a collaborative project between the CIA and its Russian counterparts. 'We worked very closely with them' during the Sochi games, said Brennan, in order to 'try to prevent terrorist attacks'. 'And we did so very successfully', concluded the CIA director."

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"Yemen’s Shiite rebels are not Iran proxies: US intelligence officials"

Amerikanische Geheimdienste seien nicht davon überzeugt, dass die schiitischen Huthi-Rebellen tatsächlich Werkzeuge des Irans seien, berichtet Joseph Fitsanakis. "(...) a report in online news agency The Huffington Post said on Monday that American intelligence officials are far from convinced that Iran is actually directing the Houthi insurgency. Citing 'American officials familiar with intelligence' operations in Yemen, the New York-based news agency said Iran actively opposed the Houthis’ advance on the Yemeni capital in September of last year, and tried to prevent it. The Houthis, however, simply ignored Tehran’s advice and took over Sana’a. The Huffington Post quotes one unnamed American intelligence official who says that 'it is wrong to think of the Houthis as a proxy force of Iran'. The article also quotes Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the United States National Security Council, who says that 'it remains [the NSC’s] assessment that Iran does not exert command and control over the Houthis in Yemen'."

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"German who spied for CIA stole list of 3,500 German spies’ names"

Der im vergangenen Sommer wegen mutmaßlicher Spionage verhaftete BND-Mitarbeiter hat der CIA möglicherweise die Identitäten von bis zu 3.500 BND-Spionen übermittelt. "He was believed at the time to have spied for the CIA for approximately two years, and to have supplied the American spy agency with around 200 classified German government documents in exchange for around €25,000 — approximately $30,000. (...) Now German authorities, who have been investigating the 31-year-old double spy’s computers ever since his arrest, say they found in one of them a stolen digital document containing a list of the real and cover identities of thousands of BND employees stationed abroad."

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"Paris attackers bring Mideast urban warfare to Europe"

Der Anschlag auf das französische Satiremagazin Charlie Hebdo sei offenbar nicht von schlecht vorbereiteten Einzeltätern, sondern von militärisch ausgebildeten Al-Qaida-Anhängern durchgeführt worden, schreibt Joseph Fitsanakis. "Of course, Europe is not new to this. The French experienced it in the days of the Algerian War of Independence, which killed nearly 200,000 people in North Africa and in France. The British faced until recently with the Provisional Irish Republican Army, whose military efficiency makes the al-Qaeda of today seem clumsy in comparison. And there have been a host of other armed groups, including Revolutionary Organization 17 November in Greece, the Red Brigades in Italy, and the Red Army Faction in Germany, whose militant dedication is certainly comparable to the Jihadists of today. There is no question that Wednesday’s attack in Paris has brought the perils of Middle Eastern urban warfare to Europe. But what is needed now is meticulous police work, coupled with a renewed focus on prevention by France’s formidable intelligence community, which features some of the best-known agencies in the world."

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"Year in Review: The 10 Biggest Spy-Related Stories of 2014"

IntelNews hat Berichte zu den zehn interessantesten Geheimdienst-Skandalen zusammengetragen, die im vergangenen Jahr internationales Aufsehen erregt haben. Der Fokus richtet sich dabei nicht nur auf die NSA, auf Platz 10 befindet sich z.B. der Fall eines früheren Geheimdienstchefs in Südkorea, der wegen Korruption und politischer Einflussnahme inhaftiert wurde. "Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will surely agree that we witnessed our fair share of significant intelligence-related stories this year. Some of them made mainstream headlines, while others failed inexplicably to attract the attention of the news media. In anticipation of what 2015 may bring, we present you with our selection of stories below, which are listed in reverse order of importance."

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"Brazil builds direct Internet cable to Europe to avoid US spying"

Die Pläne für ein neues Internet-Kabel zwischen Brasilien und Europa nehmen Berichten zufolge Gestalt an. Brasilien will mit der direkten Verbindung nach Europa die Überwachung durch amerikanische Geheimdienste umgehen. "According to reports, the fiber-optic cable will stretch for 3,500 miles from the northeastern Brazilian city of Fortaleza to the Portuguese capital Lisbon. It will cost the Brazilian government in excess of US$185 million, but it will allow the country’s existing Internet traffic to and from Europe to travel without going through cables owned by American service providers. According to Brazilian officials, the construction of the cable is among several steps announced by the Brazilian government aimed at disassociating its communications infrastructure from American companies."

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"Well-trained spy agency adds to strength of Islamic State"

Der Islamische Staat könne sich bei der Eroberung und der Kontrolle neuer Gebiete auf ein Spionagenetzwerk mit erfahrenen und gut ausgebildeten Agenten verlassen, schreibt Ian Allen. "Sources on the ground in Iraq report that many of the intelligence officers that staff the Islamic State’s spy agency are former employees of the Syrian and Iraqi governments. They were trained by either Russian or American spies during their government service, and are now lending their advanced intelligence skills to the Islamic State."

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"US intelligence official says ISIS still below al-Qaeda’s strength"

Trotz des Aufstiegs des Islamischen Staats hält Matthew Olsen, Direktor des US National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), die Al-Qaida immer noch für die gefährlichere Terrororganisation. "(...) NCTC experts have come to the conclusion that the Islamic State does not currently pose a direct threat to America or Western Europe, and said that the risk of a 'spectacular, al-Qaeda-style attack' on American or European targets is negligible. America’s senior terrorism advisor went on to claim that al-Qaeda remains a more serious adversary for American interests than the Islamic State, and that the new organization is 'significantly more limited than al-Qaeda was in the run-up to 9/11', at which time it maintained underground cells across Europe and the US. Olsen continued by saying that there was 'simply no credible information' that the Islamic State was planning to attack US targets anywhere outside the immediate surroundings of its territorial stronghold in Iraq and Syria."

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"US journalist facing jail term for refusing to testify in CIA officer’s trial"

Der New York Times-Reporter James Risen, der unter Berufung auf die Pressefreiheit eine gerichtliche Aussage gegen einen früheren CIA-Mitarbeiter verweigert hat, könnte nach einer Entscheidung des Obersten Gerichtshofes in Washington zu einer Gefängnisstrafe verurteilt werden. "Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, who worked for the CIA from 1993 until 2002, was arrested in early 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. He was charged with leaking classified information about Operation MERLIN, a botched CIA covert operation targeting Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The operation was publicly revealed for the first time in New York Times reporter James Risen’s 2006 book State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration. (...) Risen was summoned to testify in Sterling’s trial, but refused, arguing that having to identify the source of his allegation about Operation MERLIN would infringe on press freedom. On the other side of the argument, the United States government claimed that the freedom of the press does not permit journalists 'to refuse to provide direct evidence of criminal wrongdoing by confidential sources'."

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"The Politics Behind the Thailand Coup Explained"

Joseph Fitsanakis erläutert die politischen Hintergründe des Militärputsches in Thailand. "Arguably, military coups have become rare outside of Africa in the 21st century. So why does Thailand remain so prone to them? The character of Thai society has for centuries remained starkly divided along economic, political and — to a lesser extent — ethnic lines. In the contemporary setting, perhaps the most prominent division is between the urban middle class and the rural population. The disparity between the two, in terms of income and cultural values, is at the heart of the current political instability in the country. For most of the past century, Thailand’s political life has been dominated by the urban middle class in capital Bangkok. The urban population is, for the most part, westernized in manners and outlook, educated and economically privileged. It is also largely secular and fiercely royalist, revering Thailand’s king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, as the 'father of the nation'."

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Wo gibt es Kriege und Gewaltkonflikte? Und wo herrscht am längsten Frieden? Welches Land gibt am meisten für Rüstung aus? liefert wichtige Daten und Fakten zu Krieg und Frieden.

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