The Killing of Palestinian

The three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in an area that remains fully under Israeli control, ie in a scene in Area C, where Palestinian intelligence cannot freely investigate.

The bodies of Naftali Frenkel (16, from Nof Ayalon, who is also a US citizen), Gilad Shaer (16, from Talmon), and Eyal Yifrah (19, from Elad), were found in a field north-west of Hebron.

The identities of two suspects in the kidnapping, Hamas militants Marwan Qawasmeh (29) and Amar Abu-Isa (32), were released by Shin Beth. They have not yet been found. A senior Palestinian intelligence official said off the record that their disappearance constituted clear evidence the two suspects have links with the abduction.

Another suspect, Husam Dufish, has been arrested. The kidnappings and murders seem to have been perpetrated by members of the Qawasmeh clan, possibly linked to Hamas, as we earlier reported. Hamas has refused to condemn these kidnappings. Lebanon Hezbollah has castigated Arab silence on the situation and attacked Mahmou Abbas’s statements that Palestinian security was prepared to help.

The Analyst and The Intelligence Officer

I thought I had it clear that an Intelligence Analyst is a civilian or a military in charge of analyzing intelligence, while an Intelligence Officer is an officer, working in Intelligence. Although, the definitions should be clear and well known to anybody interested or working in the field of Intelligence, I’ve stumbled some days ago on a debate upon what these notions means, they differing from field to field, from country to country, from one perspective to another, from language to language. Today, remembering how, a few years ago I had to research the definitions of the words “Intelligence”, “security” and “safety”, I believe it is right to summarize a few perspectives the debaters had on the two notions mentioned above.

Apparently, an intelligence officer could be either enlisted, commissioned, or civilian. The term “officer” in this case refers to the duty (while in my language, officer means anybody with a higher military rank than lieutenant). The definitions depend on the nature of the agency and are by rank or by job type. In DoD/military intelligence organizations, an “intelligence officer” normally refers to a commissioned officer or civilian whose specialty is Intel, like logistics or personnel officer. In non-DoD (non-military), “officer” vs. “analyst” depends on type of job. Officers plan, conduct, and lead operations. In many countries, an intelligence officer is either a case officer (recruiting HUMINT), a desk officer (steering the intelligence cycle) or an intelligence analyst (analyses HUMINT, SIGINT, DIGINT, OSINT, all-INT and reporting based on all the collected information), when only a very few intelligence officers are actively conducting HUMINT or CI operations.

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) is a 235-page Act of Congress, signed by President George W. Bush, that broadly affects United States federal terrorism laws, and it says:

“The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 were designed, among other goals, to break down obstacles to information sharing and to facilitate collaboration and “all-source analysis” of the wide and expanding range of national security issues. To meet the challenges of the 21st century, we can no longer tolerate false distinctions between “all-source”  and “single-INT” analysts or agencies. Stated another way, providing high-quality analysis and enhancing policymaker understanding of complex developments require utilizing all types of information and the insights of everyone who can contribute. Information sharing and collaboration are now essential attributes of intelligence analysis. For example, imagery analysts need (and have) access to SIGINT and HUMINT that could help them to determine the purpose of a construction project. Diplomatic reporting and SIGINT are useful to determine the veracity or biases of a clandestine HUMINT source. Freely available unclassified materials (Open Source Intelligence or OSINT) provides context for all kinds of other reporting. In other words, all analysts are—and must be—all-source analysts.”

That while the roles and activities performed within intelligence organizations are similar between military, civilian, and police organizations. There are significant semantic differences in what the term “officer” means within these different organizations. Some define the Intelligence Officer as a person employed to deliver all kind of intelligence activities such as collection of information (from Open Sources, Human Sources, etc.), undercover operations and analysis. Analysis is a highly specialized role. An intelligence officer is a more generic term and generally involves more generic and more flexible type of work in the intelligence arena. Those who specialize in the different INTs (HUMINT, SIGINT, MASINT, IMINT, etc) collect the raw data and the analyst puts it all together to turn it into intelligence, if (s)he’s an all source analyst. An analyst may have contact with a source depending on the assignment (in most cases no), but it is very little and mostly for screening/vetting purposes, not interrogation or interviewing because that is up to the HUMINT collector to do. Contractors aren’t allowed to recruit and run sources because of laws on intelligence collection, it has to be done by a government entity (i.e. an agency person or member of the military).

Therefore, an Intelligence Analyst is an official skilled in understanding and interpreting intelligence reports received from field agents. By being able to place specific reports in a broader context, an intelligence agent can help evaluate the importance of reports. Intelligence analysts most often work with government agencies, although some positions in the private sector do exist as well. Analysts analyze, Officers operate. The difference is between the analysis and collection objectives of the intelligence cycle. Interestingly, the analysts are the catalyst for action as they produce the product, intelligence. Sometimes a field analyst has to make immediate decisions that impact an ongoing or developing situation and can involve life/safety of others. The analysts’ role is crucial and requires the sharpest and most interesting minds. The analyst can have the best circumstances to process information and still be wrong some of the time. The intelligence officer has to perform with a unique set of decision making skills that must ensure success and survival in an environment of pressure, uncertainty, and more eminent result.

There is also the term Intelligence Operative, meaning any higher level engaged in intelligence work, which may include running HUMINT assets, using technical tools to gather information, whereas the Intelligence Analysts are the people making sense of the gathered information or one can say turning the Information into Intelligence. Reports Officer (or Program Manager in other agencies) may be found as the link between analysts and collectors. Collectors rarely have the opportunity to communicate directly with their customer, the analyst. The Program Manager could also personally meet with the analysts who are being serviced to get follow-up on a timely basis. Successfully completed collection operations need to be brought to the attention of command so that the lonely collector gets positive feedback and appropriate comments on their performance reports. Intelligence Officers in the military are the supervisors of enlisted analysts, HUMINT/SIGINT/IMINT collectors and counterintelligence agents, which refers specifically to the commissioned officer rank. In the civilian world, Intelligence Officer is a working title to refer to all in the intelligence profession; it isn’t limited to CI/HUMINT trades nor is it limited to rank.   Intelligence Officers manage and usually are in charge of programs, analytic groups, or CIs. It is their job to offer guidance and direction and make sure that all are focused on the mission. Both functions are critical in today’s intelligence environment. In some ways, intelligence agents are the Sherlock Holmes of the intelligence community, looking at all the gathered pieces in the hopes of reaching some conclusion.

The work of an intelligence analyst can be vital to the security, both national and foreign, of citizens and military personnel. Army analysts, for instance, may prepare reports for combat commanders that can influence troop movement or strategy. They may also be in charge of interpreting enemy movements, actions, and intercepted communications. Good intelligence analysis can save lives, while a mistake in gathering or analyzing can lead to serious consequences.

Nowadays, private sector intelligence analysts tend to work with defense contractors or large corporations that use intelligence-gathering techniques to predict the behavior of their rivals.

Most government agencies want to hire a person who can do it all.

The US Reports on Terrorism 2013

“On April 30, 2014, the State Department submitted Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 to the U.S. Congress as required by law. This report, available on, provides the Department of State’s annual assessment of trends and events in international terrorism that occurred from January 1 to December 31, 2013. It includes a strategic assessment, country-by-country breakdowns of counterterrorism efforts, and sections on state sponsors of terrorism, terrorist safe havens, and foreign terrorist organizations.

The following were among the most noteworthy counterterrorism developments in 2013:

• The terrorist threat continued to evolve rapidly in 2013, with an increasing number of groups around the world – including both al-Qa’ida (AQ) affiliates and other terrorist organizations – posing a threat to the United States, our allies, and our interests.

• As a result of ongoing worldwide efforts against the organization and leadership losses, AQ’s core leadership has been degraded, limiting its ability to conduct attacks and direct its followers. Subsequently, 2013 saw the rise of increasingly aggressive and autonomous AQ affiliates and like-minded groups in the Middle East and Africa who took advantage of the weak governance and instability in the region to broaden and deepen their operations.

• The AQ core’s vastly reduced influence became far more evident in 2013. AQ leader Zawahiri was rebuffed in his attempts to mediate a dispute among AQ affiliates operating in Syria, with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant publicly dissociating their group from al-Qa’ida. AQ affiliates routinely disobeyed Zawahiri’s 2013 tactical guidance to avoid collateral damage, seen in increasingly violent attacks against civilian religious pilgrims in Iraq, hospital staff and convalescing patients in Yemen, and families at a shopping mall in Kenya, for example.

• Terrorist groups engaged in a range of criminal activity to raise needed funds, with kidnapping for ransom remaining the most frequent and profitable source of illicit financing. Private donations from the Gulf also remained a major source of funding for Sunni terrorist groups, particularly for those operating in Syria.

• In 2013, violent extremists increased their use of new media platforms and social media, with mixed results. Social media platforms allowed violent extremist groups to circulate messages more quickly, but confusion and contradictions among the various voices within the movement are growing more common.

• Syria continued to be a major battleground for terrorism on both sides of the conflict and remains a key area of longer-term concern. Thousands of foreign fighters traveled to Syria to join the fight against the Asad regime – with some joining violent extremist groups – while Iran, Hizballah, and other Shia militias provided a broad range of critical support to the regime. The Syrian conflict also empowered the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to expand its cross-border operations in Syria, resulting in a dramatic increase in attacks against Iraqi civilians and government targets in 2013.

• Since 2012, the United States has also seen a resurgence of activity by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Qods Force (IRGC-QF), the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and Tehran’s ally Hizballah. On January 23, 2013, the Yemeni Coast Guard interdicted an Iranian dhow carrying weapons and explosives likely destined for Houthi rebels. On February 5, 2013, the Bulgarian government publically implicated Hizballah in the July 2012 Burgas bombing that killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian citizen, and injured 32 others. On March 21, 2013, a Cyprus court found a Hizballah operative guilty of charges stemming from his surveillance activities of Israeli tourist targets in 2012. On September 18, Thailand convicted Atris Hussein, a Hizballah operative detained by Thai authorities in January 2012. And on December 30, 2013, the Bahraini Coast Guard interdicted a speedboat attempting to smuggle arms and Iranian explosives likely destined for armed Shia opposition groups in Bahrain. During an interrogation, the suspects admitted to receiving paramilitary training in Iran.

• “Lone offender” violent extremists also continued to pose a serious threat, as illustrated by the April 15, 2013 attacks near the Boston Marathon finish line, which killed three and injured approximately 264 others.

• The Statistical Annex to Country Reports on Terrorism 2013 was prepared by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. The Statistical Annex data set includes violent acts carried out by non-state actors that meet all of START’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD) inclusion criteria; further information about GTD can be found at”



China overtakes the US?

China’s GDP may indeed exceed shortly the US’s, but her per capita income is very low and a large section of her population remains outside modern life. In spite of remarkable progress China still lags far behind the US in science and technology. After a period of stupendous growth China is now experiencing bottlenecks that may slow her growth, and she has major structural problems to solve. Further, it is not known how long will the present political arrangement that mixes Communist party control with robber baron capitalism can survive.

Some decades ago pundits were predicting that Japan would soon overtake the US, but things developed differently. It is not clear whether China will not soon face economic, social and political problems that will slow down her growth. Her industries will have to switch from a labor intensive organization to a higher productivity one, considering that Chinese workers will not forever accept low wages and inadequate working conditions. The upside will of course be a growth of the domestic market and the downside less competitive exports. The cost of labor has already increased and some Western companies which had moved plants to China are repatriating them, though this is not expected to become a major phenomenon. It remains that China is by far the most populous country in the world, with the advantages and disadvantages this comprises.

“Why East Asia Alienates Intellectuals”

“Why East Asia Alienates Intellectuals”

First capitalism does not automatically breed democracy, though no one has ever seen democracy outside a free market system. You can have relative economic freedom without democracy, but not democracy without economic freedom. Second the disputes over maritime borders mixes nationalism with a wish to secure as many mineral resources as possible. China does not see herself as expansionist, her leaders only want to secure what they believe is rightfully theirs, and hasn’t fully got rid of her complex about having been under foreign domination for a long time. Those two seas play a role similar to that of the compliant buffer states Russia wants to have around her, though they’re only water with some mineral resources under. 

North Korea is a different case altogether, a fruit of the Cold War gone mad.

Bucharest is interested in increasing the NATO and the US presence on the Romanian territory

Bucharest is interested in increasing the NATO and the US presence on the Romanian territory

US troops would necessarily come as a NATO force. Gen. Philip M. Breedlove USAF, who is Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and his staff are developing new deployment plans, but of course the decision will be political and may depend on further Russian moves -or lack thereof on the Geneva Joint Statement. Romania is of course a prime candidate as is Moldova because of the common border with Ukraine, and for Romania her Black Sea maritime border, as well as calls from pro-Russian forces in Transistria for annexation by Russia which are echoed in the Russian media and have been quoted by Russian officials.

On the other hand, “Countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Romania, need to be able to withstand the oligarchs and companies, who in the absence of strong institutions can buy the press and politicians to use them to control the state”, said in an AFP interview, Hoyt Yee.