Wednesday, September 14, 2005

GS(3) Intelligence Briefing 9-14-05

NOTE: GS(3) Intelligence Briefing is posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. The Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. Starting in Sept. 2005, “Words of Power" commentary will also be posted on a bi-weekly basis. This commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit.

Terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, disease and poverty: you cannot cope with any of them in isolation. They are interdependent challenges and they must be met with a holistic approach. And, as Hans Blix has rightly observed, Global Warming will be responsible for far more deaths than Terrorism (the same could be true of Bird Flu – if it the third element of a pandemic kicks in).  The human race is already five years into a century that will define the next millennium. Will the global environment flourish and sustain us beyond the next two or three decades? Will the human spirit nurture and be nurtured more or less in the years ahead? How many of our fellow beings will suffer, or die or have their lives shattered financially or psychologically because of our brazen ignorance of what security really means? Just as the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, disease and poverty are interdependent, the means to overcome them (i.e., security, sustainability and spirit) are also interdependent.
The GS(3) Briefing for 9-14-05 is twice as long as usual. There is some context I want to establish on the security situation in Africa, especially in the light of the U.N. Millennium summit and the launch of the Clinton Global Initiative; I also want you to know as much as possible about the failures of the current US administration in response to Hurricane Katrina. In future Briefings, we will explore the security implications for specific African countries. And although Bird Flu is not addressed in the 9-14-05 Briefing, it is important to note that there has been a fourth Bird Flu death in Indonesia. The 9-28-05 Briefing will include a comprehensive update on this threat. If there is a development demanding your urgent action, we will post a bulletin before then. Meanwhile, the next Words of Power commentary will post on 9-21-05.

Europe, Middle East & Africa
“Africa: Up in Smoke?” (a study produced by a coalition of eighteen development and green groups) documents why global warming is now the most serious problem facing the planet’s poor. The fourteen African countries already subject to water stress or water scarcity will be joined by eleven more in the next twenty-five years. Rainfall is predicted to decline in the Horn of Africa and some parts of the south by as much as 10 per cent by 2050, while the land may warm by as much as 1.6C, all of which is likely to affect the crop harvests for hundreds of millions of people. The sea level around the coast of Africa is projected to rise by 25cm by 2050, and the west coast, currently affected by storm surges and at risk from extreme storm events, erosion and inundation, is likely to suffer even more. East Africa's coastal zone will also be affected: climatic variation and sea-level rise may decrease coral reefs along the continental shelf, reducing their buffer effects and increasing the likelihood of coastal erosion. (Independent/UK, 6-20-05
All these factors, the report says, call for a new model of development in Africa, in which strategies to increase human resilience in the face of climate change and the stability of ecosystems are central. Of course, it is not only a “new model for development” that is needed, but a new model for security as well. In unusually outspoken language, The UN’s annual Human Development Report for 2005, accuses the US of having "an overdeveloped military strategy and an under-developed strategy for human security.” "There is an urgent need to develop a collective security framework that goes beyond military responses to terrorism," it continues. " Poverty and social breakdown are core components of the global security threat."
The UN study also highlights the painful fact that parts of the U.S. are as poor as Third World countries. For half a century, there was a sustained decline in the number of US children who die before their fifth birthday. But since 2000 this trend has been reversed. The infant mortality rate in the US is the same as Malaysia, which has a quarter of America's income. Blacks in Washington DC have a higher infant death rate than people in the Indian state of Kerala. Child poverty in the US has increased to twenty percent. In the UK - which at the end of the 1990s had one of the highest child poverty rates in Europe - the rise in child poverty, by contrast, has been reversed through increases in tax credits and benefits.
The clash on world poverty centres on the US policy of promoting growth and trade liberalisation on the assumption that this will trickle down to the poor. But this will not stop children dying, the UN says. Growth alone will not reduce poverty so long as the poor are denied full access to health, education and other social provision.  India and China, the UN says, have been very successful in wealth creation but have not enabled the poor to share in the process. A rapid decline in child mortality has therefore not materialised. Indeed, when it comes to reducing infant deaths, India has now been overtaken by Bangladesh, which is only growing a third as fast.
The only way to eradicate poverty, it says, is to target inequalities. Unless that is done the Millennium Development Goals will never be met. And 41 million children will die unnecessarily over the next 10 years. (Financial Times, 9-8-05)
  • Businesses and other organizations operating in African countries need to not only factor in the environmental risks that global warming (i.e. climate change) will bring on, but also the security risks that it will aggravate. Remember one of the starkest and most painful lessons of the Post-Katrina Debacle, if the Bush administration had heeded the exhortations of both the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Louisiana’s elected representatives and spent $100 million on shoring up the levees, they would not have to come up with over $100 billion in recovery and relief costs now. It is not just an issue for governments, it is an issue for any organizations with people, facilities and interests in Africa.

Asia Pacific
In early September, Typhoon Talim pounded Taiwan, Taiwan Power Co shut down generators in two nuclear power plants due to strong winds. Safety considerations prompted the company to cut the operation of its three nuclear power stations to 25 percent of capacity. Electricity was cut to 1.7 million homes. When Talim struck mainland China, at least 72 people died in floods and landslides. One hundred thousand people were evacuated in southern Japan in advance of Typhoon Nabi. Eight hundred thousand people were evacuated in eastern China in advance of Typhoon Khanun. In August, Typhoon Matsa struck Taiwan, disrupting water and power supplies to thousands of households. In July, Typhoon Haitang, with winds of up to 184 km/h (114 mph), hit the mountainous areas of north-eastern Taiwan. (AFP-BBC, 7/07-9-05)
Fifteen typhoons have hit Asia Pacific so far this year, and there are at least two months more to go before the end of storm season.
Meanwhile, according to 'Climate Change in India', a study released by Indian environment minister A. Raja and UK trade minister Ian Pearson, India is getting dangerously hot. The extreme weather situation of drought in states like Rajasthan and floods in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh at the same time is expected to become more rampant in the next 30-40 years. More so because of India's growing contribution to climate change due to increased greenhouse gas emissions. The farming areas of north India will likely be less impacted than the eastern parts, where the rise in temperature and lower radiation could reduce crop yield dramatically. Higher radiation in north India will reduce the impact of climate change there. Higher temperatures will also mean higher rainfall of 10-12 per cent in most parts of the country. But the concentration of rain is expected to shift to the central peninsula and west coast with less rainfall projected for the north and Northeast.  For farmers, the new rainfall pattern will be a mixed bag. Those in the Ganga, Godavari and Krishna basin are expected to get more rain while others will get less. The changed pattern is also likely to create a big problem in the form of new zones of malaria epidemic. The National Physical Laboratory says incidence of malaria may go down in states like Rajasthan and increase in states like UP and J&K. Climate change has also had an impact on the seas, especially the Bay of Bengal where the sea level is rising steadily and expected to rise to dangerous proportions. The Indian Institute of Oceanography says there’s been an increase in cyclones here along with increased maximum wind speed. “There is a co-relation between increased greenhouse emissions and sea surges because of the sudden heat emitted by carbon dioxide after rains,” the report says. (Hindustani Times, 9-9-05)
  • Organizations with people, facilities or interests in typhoon territory should review and revise existing Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans to reflect the changing environment: i.e., more powerful typhoons, and more frequent typhoons.

  • Organizations in other areas, in particular South Asia, should perform risk analysis on the impact of global warming on their people, facilities and interests.

Toxic chemicals in the New Orleans flood waters will make the city unsafe for full human habitation for a decade, Hugh Kaufman, an expert on toxic waste and responses to environmental disasters at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has told The Independent. And, he added, the Bush administration is covering up the danger.
Kaufman said the way the polluted water was being pumped out was increasing the danger to health. The pollution was far worse than had been admitted, he said, because his agency was failing to take enough samples and was refusing to make public the results of those it had analyzed. "Inept political hacks" running the clean-up will imperil the health of low-income migrant workers by getting them to do the work. (Independent/UK, 9-11-05)
Oil storage tanks ruptured by Hurricane Katrina may have dumped as much as 3.7m gallons of crude oil into the lower Mississippi river and surrounding wetlands. Officials estimate the spillage at roughly a third of the volume of the huge spill when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground off Alaska in 1989…(Financial Times, 9-8-05)
Of course, the environmental impact and the health threat are not the only stories that are being surpressed, the other one is the actual death count. Reporters and their camera crews are being denied and harried in attempts to record the recovery of the bodies.
In 2002, two FBI agents showed up at a law firm near Oklahoma City, asking questions about Mike Brown, a former employee being considered for a job at the Federal Emergency Management Agency…Jones was surprised Brown was being considered for job at FEMA but figured it wasn't impossible he could have risen high enough in local and state government to be considered for a job directing FEMA operations in Oklahoma. The agents quickly corrected him. This was a national post in Washington, deputy director of FEMA, the arm of the federal government that prepares for and responds to disasters around the United States. Jones looked at the agents, "You're surely kidding?" (ANITA KUMAR, St. Petersburg Times, 9-10-05)
The 2003 wildfires, in the western US, lasted seven weeks and burned three-quarters of a million acres. The billowing smoke was easily visible from space. By the time they were extinguished, 3,600 homes had been destroyed, 22 people were killed, and $2.5 billion in damages were amassed. How did Michael Brown perform? On 4-16-03, Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA) wrote to President Bush urging a disaster declaration. Eight days later, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and 10 House members from Southern California — seven of them Republicans — urged Bush to approve the request. On 10-24-03, just hours before the Southern California wildfires began to rage out of control, the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied a state application for $430 million to clear dead trees from fire-prone areas. The letter came six months after the governor’s office warned the agency that the state considered the dead trees an immediate threat to lives and property. [, 9-11-05]
Ideologically opposed to a strong federal role in disaster relief and obsessed with terrorism, the Bush administration let a once-admired agency fall apart. During the 1990s, FEMA was routinely praised as one of the best-functioning federal agencies. Its response to the Midwestern floods of 1993, the Northridge earthquake of 1994, and 1995's Oklahoma City terrorist attack are considered models of emergency response. By contrast, its performance during Katrina is almost universally acknowledged to have been abysmally poor. At first, FEMA's post-Katrina failure appears baffling: What happened to the once-great FEMA? But George Haddow, who served as the deputy chief of staff at FEMA under James Lee Witt, Bill Clinton's FEMA director, thinks that FEMA's current flaws are all too understandable - and are a direct consequence of the Bush administration's decision to pull the federal government out of the natural disaster-relief business and turn over more power to state and local officials…
The Bush administration's distance from local disaster-relief officials is by design. From the moment Bush stepped into office, he's been determined to move away from the coordinated state/local/federal disaster-relief approach used by Clinton. Instead, as Joe Allbaugh, Bush's first FEMA director, told a congressional panel in 2001, Bush wanted to pull the federal government out of the disaster-relief business and aimed to "restore the predominant role of state and local response to most disasters." The federal government became even less involved in natural disaster relief after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when FEMA's mission was shifted toward responding to terrorist attacks. In 2002, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security, and FEMA - which Clinton had elevated to a Cabinet-level agency - was made one department in the massive bureaucracy...
"You gotta do both," [Haddow] says. "You've got to fight terrorism." But you've got to respond to hurricanes and earthquakes, too. And when Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on the Saturday before Katrina struck the Gulf, he made a promise to residents that he would respond, Haddow says. "People died because they couldn't get it right," he says. "People died because they didn't deliver on their promise."
[Farhad Manjoo,, 9-7-05]
  • Organizations should establish formal policies and standards on background checks for new hires, particularly for any individuals being considered for security and/or business continuity, etc. Professionals should be hired for these positions, and where they report within organizations should ensure that these group leaders have real, immediate and uninhibited access to the executive.  

On the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it is important to note that the Bush administration’s so-called “war on terrorism,” with its failure to follow thru on the manhunt for Bin Laden, its tragic detour into Iraq, its malign neglect toward the Middle East peace process, and its disregard for the Western Alliance, the UN and the Geneva Accords, has resulted in an increase in terrorist attacks and inspired countless new jihadees.
Richard A. Clarke, a former National Security Council and White House counterterrorism official, said yesterday that there were twice as many attacks outside Iraq in the three years after the 2001 attacks as in the three preceding years. Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda group "are no longer the traditional leaders as they were in the 1990s," Clarke said, adding that the terrorist leader had been building ideological groups from Afghanistan before 9-11-01, and that they had grown in the past few years into 14 to 16 separate networks. Clarke said that bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, exercise "symbolic control and provide broad-brush themes" and that most of the networks operate independently, but "there are some signs of cooperation among some."
…Clarke left the Bush administration in 2003 and has since alleged the Bush White House reacted slowly to warnings of terrorist attacks in early 2001…Clarke said that Iraq is drawing a relatively small number of foreign fighters who train there and return home, but "it is unclear to what extent they are drawn by the U.S. presence or how much the U.S. is a magnet." Overall, he said that "there are more people participating [in jihadist networks] outside Iraq because of the U.S. presence" in that country. "Al Qaeda has morphed from a hierarchical structure to a [worldwide] movement," he said. The goal of some is to create regional theocracies, he said, while others just want to overthrow their own governments. "They share the view that the U.S. is the great Satan and propping up governments that suppress Muslims," he said…
Clarke took sharp issue with President Bush's repeated statements that by fighting terrorists abroad, the administration is preventing attacks in this country. "That is illogical on its face," Clarke said. Citing bombings in Madrid and London, Clarke said that "absolutely nothing prevents them from coming here." (Washington Post, 8-31-05)
Two years ago, the Tamil Nadu Police uncovered a plan to set up a new group called the Muslim Defence Force by some locals who were allegedly in touch with a Gulf-based cadre of LeT identified as Abu Hamza. "Though this plan has been thwarted for the time being, renewed attempts are likely in future." Raman pointed to the growing strategic relations between India and Western countries such as the US, Britain and France. Western military ships have also called on south Indian ports. Referring to the detention of 13 suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Singapore in 2002 who were of Indian origin, he said this showed the Southeast Asian-based group "has already made some inroads into the community of Indian origin in this region. "It would be reasonable to presume that there could be others who remain undetected so far." Raman called for greater interaction by India, at the governmental and non-governmental levels, with the countries of the region and their security and counter-terrorism agencies.
"Bilateral cooperation with some countries such as Singapore has been quite good. Much more needs to be done." The writer pointed out that Tablighi Jamaat was an Islamic humanitarian organisation with headquarters in India and was formed during the British Raj with the ostensible purpose of making Muslims better Muslims. While its workers in India have confined their activities to its stated aims, its branches in Pakistan and Bangladesh have helped the Pakistani members of the IIF to recruit cadres for terrorist activities. (Hindustani Times, 9-12-05)
In Bangladesh, photographs of two men wanted for a series of bombings across Bangladesh have been released to the media. A home ministry spokesman said there would also be "huge cash rewards", although no amount was specified. The men are Abdur Rahman, head of Jama'atul Mujahideen, and Bangla Bhai, leader of Jagrata Muslim Janata. Both are banned Islamic militant groups. More than 400 small bombs exploded last month across the country, killing two people and injuring more than 100…In raids, police seized about 200 small bombs and arrested seven people in raids in Dhaka. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, leaflets found at bomb sites carried a call by the Jama'atul Mujahideen for the introduction of Islamic rule in Bangladesh…Police have arrested more than 200 suspected activists since the bombings. (BBC, 9-12-05)
  • Organizations operating in any country that is either involved in the US/UK “Coalition of the Willing” in Iraq or NATO/EU operations in Afghanistan, or has geopolitical importance vis-à-vis energy resources, should ask itself a series of simple but vital questions -- yes, GS(3) Intelligence will provide a list of them to you – e.g., 1) do you know if your facilities are located in close proximity to any embassies, financial institutions, tourist sites or business icons that could be likely targets of Al-Qaeda style attacks, and 2) what would you do if your office was gone tomorrow?

“An Ohio computer hacker who served as a digital button man for a shady internet hosting company faces prison time after admitting he carried out one of a series of crippling denial-of-service attacks ordered by a wealthy businessman against his competitors.
“In a deal with prosecutors, Richard "Krashed" Roby, 20, pleaded guilty in federal court in Toledo last month to intentionally damaging a protected computer, after launching a 2003 attack on an online satellite TV retailer that caused at least $120,000 in losses…
“Jay Echouafni, the 38-year-old satellite TV mogul who allegedly ordered and funded the cyberhits, went on the lam last year, and remains a fugitive from a federal indictment out of Los Angeles. In a related deal, 31-year-old Paul Ashley, former operator of the Foonet hosting service, admitted to recruiting three other computer intruders to carry out Echouafni's orders…Until it was shuttered by an FBI raid last year, Ashley ran Foonet from a basement server room in his suburban Ohio home. The enterprise enjoyed a double-edged reputation for providing hosting that could stand up to distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attacks, even as it gave safe harbor to members of the computer underground drawn to the bulletproof service…
“Ashley admitted he knowingly allowed clients and employees to control networks of compromised Windows machines, or "bots," from Foonet.
“That came in handy in October 2003, when Echouafni, a Foonet client, offered Ashley $1,000 to snuff out two websites.
“Echouafni, who was CEO of Massachusetts-based Orbit Communication at the time, allegedly claimed that competitors and had stolen his content and attacked his online business, which sold satellite TV gear over the web…
“The FBI described the ensuing attack as a tenacious, 10-day deluge that tracked RapidSatellite through three ISP changes, and briefly blocked and the website of the Department of Homeland Security, which had the poor luck of sharing service providers with Echouafni's rival.
“A concurrent attack allegedly launched by the other members of the crew took a similar toll on Apparently pleased with the results, Echouafni went on to purchase Foonet from Ashley, retaining Ashley as an employee and hiring Hall to handle cybersecurity for the company. “In February of last year, Echouafni allegedly ordered a third attack on another competitor,…
“Echouafni skipped out on $750,000 bail secured by his house in Massachusetts last year. Law enforcement officials believe he's now living in his native Morocco.  (Kevin Poulson,, 9-8-05)
  • Poulson’s excellent story for Wired is illustrative of the cyber crime underground serving unscrupulous business people who want to target their competitors, either to sabotage their operations or steal their proprietary information. Remember, only the low-end criminals get popped. World-class professionals with expertise of information age espionage rarely get detected, reported or apprehended or prosecuted.

  • Organizations with trade secrets or sensitive client information to lose, and are heavily invested in their reputations, should either have counter-intelligence expertise in-house or have an established, on-going relationship with a private counterintelligence service.