What the Crisis Means: North Korea, Nukes and Islamists

A North Korean military parade (Photo: Stefan Krasowski/Flickr)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Aug.  9, 2017:

North Korea is officially a communist, Stalinist dictatorship, but that hasn’t stopped it from crossing the ideological divide to embrace Islamist regimes and, reportedly, even jihadist groups. The latest crisis between North Korea and the U.S. appears separate from the war with Islamism, but there are 10 ways it overlaps.

The U.S. and allied intelligence services now believe North Korea has miniaturized its nuclear warheads to fit onto its intercontinental ballistic missiles and has the potentially up to 60 nuclear weapons.

This was seen as an undeclared “red line” and prompted President Trump to threaten to bring “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if North Korea’s verbal threats continue; a benchmark North Korea immediately crossed by announcing it was considering a nuclear strike on the U.S. territory of Guam, where 6,000 U.S. troops are stationed. Another 28,000 U.S. troops are in South Korea and 49,000 in Japan.

North Korea threatened to attack Guam in 2013 and its bombastic rhetoric is practically a daily occurrence, but North Korea’s aggressive attacks have increased in recent years including sinking a South Korean ship in 2010, an artillery barrage on a South Korean island that same year, a cyber attack on Sony Pictures in 2014 and a bold assassination of a political rival in a Malaysian airport using the VX biological weapon earlier this year.

 

  • The Iranian and North Korean WMD programs should be seen as a single entity.We must now assume that Iran likewise has the ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads onto ICBMs.Iran and North Korea have shared virtually everything when it comes to ballistic missile and nuclear technology. One Iranian opposition group claimed that Iran continued its nuclear program in spite of the nuclear deal by simply outsourcing it to North Korea. The nuclear and missile tests are widely seen as being on done on behalf of Iran with Iranian scientists on the scene for their occurrences.Both North Korea and Iran helped the Syrian regime pursue nuclear weapons, resulting in the Israeli airstrike on Bashar Assad’s nuclear reactor in 2007. Various reports indicate that Syria’s nuclear program continued thereafter, albeit on a smaller scale.
  • North Korea’s Links to Hamas, Hezbollah and reportedly Al-Qaeda-tied terrorists in the Philippines.In 2003, the government of the Philippines said that it captured documents showing that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, an Islamist group that has had a relationship with Al-Qaeda in the past, paid $2 million to North Korea for guns, ammunition and grenades and was looking to buy mini-submarines. Another sale was reported in 2005 of 10,000 rifles.In 2006, a federal judge ruled that North Korea is liable for damages caused to American-Israeli citizens due to its material support for Hezbollah. Iran sponsored North Korean assistance to help the terrorist group by providing rockets and missiles and guidance on building its sophisticated network of tunnels and bunkers. It said that Hezbollah terrorists have been traveling to North Korea for advanced training since the late 1980s.In 2009, the UAE intercepted over 2,000 detonators for Hamas’ 122mm Grad rockets and associated equipment. Later that year, Israel intercepted 35 tons of rockets, RPGs, shoulder-fired missiles and equipment for surface-to-air missiles from North Korea to Iran for delivery to the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups in Thailand.In 2014, it was reported that Hamas was negotiating an arms deal with North Korea worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for missiles and communications equipment and a down payment had already been made. It is strongly suspected that North Korea helped Hamas build its sophisticated tunnel system that was used to attack Israeli civilians and wage war in 2014 against the Israeli military.The Hamas terrorist group openly thanked North Korea for its political support against Israel this year. The North Korean regime (DPRK) pledged to “mercilessly punish” Israel for its leaders’ accurate description of the ruling leader as a “crazy.” The DPRK said it “fully supports” the Palestinian jihad to have an independent country and to seize Jerusalem, a vague statement that seems to imply material support.We should expect such sales to increase as sanctions force the North Korean regime to look for more revenue, as well as ways to retaliate against the U.S. and its allies. The North Korean regime has no problem selling arms to Islamists and is not a target of the jihadists, so we shouldn’t be surprised if North Korea goes so far as to directly sell weapons and expertise to groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
  • North Korea has threatened to sell nuclear weapons to other countries and even international terrorist groups. It now has up to 60 nuclear weapons, a number that could grow to 100 by 2020.In 2005, North Korea threatened to sell its nuclear weapons to terrorist groups “if driven into a corner.”North Korea has a surplus of nuclear weapons. It can afford to sell off a few if it feels confident that U.S. intelligence will be unable to identify and intercept the shipment; a fair assumption given our recent underestimations of their capabilities.Past customers for Iranian missiles and arms include Iran and its puppet Assad regime in Syria; Yemen, which is now working with Salafists and the Muslim Brotherhood; Pakistan; Eritrea, which has supported Al-Qaeda’s branch in Somalia; the Somali government; Cuba and possibly Venezuela.  There are suspicions that Turkey is looking to build nuclear weapons, as an imam close to President Erdogan is encouraging this.
  • Joint cyber warfare programs with Iran.Both Iran and North Korea have launched cyber attacks on the U.S. and its allies with minimal consequences. There is strong evidence that the two rogue states’ programs are interconnected and they are even launching joint cyber attacks together.
  • Radical Islam will seep into an unstable North Korea.As soon as a closed society begins opening up, the promoters of Islamism get to work. A relevant example is how Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are in a mad dash to lead the Muslim community in Cuba.In 2010, Pew estimated there are 3,000 Muslims in North Korea, a 300% increase from 1990. It projects that number will stay about the same until at least 2030, but that is doubtful as globalization inevitably penetrates North Korea and exposes more citizens to Islam.The most jihad-prone forms of Islam in North Korea are already leading the way. In 2013, North Korea allowed Iran to build the country’s first mosque, located at the Iranian embassy.The extreme anti-Americanism and anti-democracy thought that is instilled in the population means this Muslim population will probably be inclined towards radicalism.
  • Regime instability will be a gold mine for terrorists, criminals and rogue states.The regime is bound to become more unstable over time and that could increase as international tension rises and the U.S. potentially tries to undermine Kim Jong-Un. North Korea is armed to the teeth with deadly expertise, conventional weapons and WMDs, all of which will be sold off by their hungry protectors or abandoned in the event of extreme upheaval.All kinds of black market criminals, terrorists and governments will be trying to snatch up whatever they can. For Islamists, they will look to the Muslim population for logistical support. Iranian operatives are already in the country, as may be Hezbollah terrorists.ISIS is on the rise in the Philippines, the Islamic terror threat is increasing in South Korea and it’s only a matter of time before China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang Province becomes a jihadist front. North Korea is isolated now, but don’t assume that Islamists won’t be able to enter the country and make contact with its black market as the regime becomes unstable.
  • Reported plans for a two-front war by Iran, Syria and North Korea.There have been intelligence reports since the early 1990s indicating that Iran, Syria and North Korea had a deal to force the U.S. into a two-front war if any one of them came into military conflict with America. Since then, these countries have only grown stronger, we have grown weaker, and their friendships have grown tighter.Of course, we do not know if such an agreement exists today and we also do not know if they are loyal enough to honor it if it exists. However, the reported historical precedent must be taken into account and it is certain that Iran, Syria and North Korea will at least take limited measures to assist each other in the event of military conflict. And if Iran and North Korea have aspirations to commit aggression, there’s no better time to act than when the U.S. is preoccupied on another front.
  • Bogging down the U.S.If the situation escalates, then the U.S. military—already suffering from the sequestration—will be hard pressed for resources to maintain its operations against ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, not to mention more limited efforts in places like Yemen, Libya and the Philippines.
  • North Korean Terrorists Could Target U.S. SoilIt is not out of the realm of possibility that North Korea will try to launch saboteur/terrorist attacks on American soil, particularly against those seeking to undermine Kim Jong-Un.Earlier this year, Kim Jong-Un used two assassins to murder a political rival using the VX biological weapon in a Malaysian airport. Think about how much of an escalation that is: A biological terrorist attack inside an airport in a foreign country. That means North Korea has loyal operatives who can sneak such deadly substances into other countries and are willing to risk their lives to commit murder on Kim Jong-Un’s behalf.And the target was another North Korean from the top of society. Such operatives would have even less qualms about targeting Americans.North Korea could collaborate with Islamist terrorists or criminal elements for an attack in America. After all, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps hoped to hide behind Mexican drug cartel members in its plan to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington D.C. by blowing up a diner.
  • The Worst of All Scenarios: EMP Watch this Clarion Project short film from 2012 about the threat posed by a potential Electro-Magnetic Pulse attack by Iran. North Korea has the same capability. A top expert on nuclear weapons and EMPs, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, has been sounding the alarm that he believes North Korea is actually practicing carrying out such an attack on the U.S.Should that happen and the attack succeed, North Korea will cripple the U.S. and perhaps win its war against America. And even if the U.S. destroyed North Korea in response, the jihadists will have won their war against America as the country struggles to survive as Islamists rampage across the planet.

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s Shillman Fellow and national security analyst and an adjunct professor of counter-terrorism. He is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio.

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North Korea discussion begins at 2:22 in video:

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Fred Fleitz:

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Also see:

General Mattis Critical Of Obama Administration’s Treatment Of US Allies

8bd3121c-ddf3-433f-acc9-58cadfb7d8cenews.ap.org_r620x349Daily Caller, by Kerry Picket, May 14, 2015:

WASHINGTON — Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis told attendees at The Heritage Foundation Wednesday he is concerned the United States is not firmly standing by her global allies.

Mattis replaced General David Petraeus as commander of U.S. Central Command in August 2010 and retired from the Marine Corps in 2013 after 41 years of military service.

Gen. Mattis recalled a meeting he had with the King Abdullah II of Jordan, when the French and British were planning to leave Afghanistan and Mattis confirmed their departure to the king.

“I said, ‘Yeah, that’s right your majesty.’ And he said, ‘Well, let me make sure you understand that our Jordanian troops will be there with you until the last American soldier comes home.’”

Mattis paused for a moment and explained, “You cannot buy allies like that. The way you get allies like that is if you want a friend when you’re in trouble, you need to be a friend when they’re in trouble, and we are not sending that message.”

He went further saying, “I was getting asked the same question in Cairo and Riad as I was being asked in Tel Aviv, and that’s darn near impossible to align them. How much have we aligned them? I had a foreign minister of an Arab country make a point to me when I started wearing this, instead of a uniform.”

“He said, ‘We, today, have more in common with Israel’s foreign policy than we have with America’s.’ That is not a good situation for stability and anyone who wants peace and prosperity and [to] turn over a better world to our children, that is not something we can be proud of,” the retired general noted.

Mattis believes the way the United States is handling global affairs is “not the way the greatest generation dealt with the world around them, and it’s one that we’re going to have to learn to adapt to, or we’re going to end up in a situation where we’re ashamed of what we’re turning over.”

“But leaving allies adrift and having to accommodate less pleasing allies, this is not something that is in America’s best interest,” he said.

When asked by The Daily Caller about his thoughts on the Obama administration’s handling of the Islamic State, he responded, “The president came out and said we didn’t have a strategy on this. I would only endorse what he said. Honesty is honesty. I think the president’s recognized the failing there, and I think if we do not do something to humiliate them and cause havoc, their recruiting and their fundraising will continue apace, so you’ve got to hit them with a shockwave.”

Mattis added, “That’s not just military, and it’s not just covert. It’s a whole lot of things. But again, it goes back to — you’ve got to ask the strategic questions. Is political Islam in our best interests? Let me define it. It’s political Islam as practiced by the mullahs in Tehran for the past 30 years. That’s on the Shia side. It’s political Islam as practiced by the Muslim Brothers, the brothers in Cairo for a year. And if it’s not in our best interest, what are we going to do to come up with that coherent strategy?”

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Gen. Mattis speaks at about 13 min. into the video. Well worth your time to listen:

Islamists Suspected in China’s Deadliest Terror Attack

China troopsBY RYAN MAURO:

McClatchy reports a “new, bloodier phase” of the conflict in China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang Province has begun with bombings that killed at least 31 people and injured 94. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement is suspected of responsibility for what one expert says is “the single most lethal terrorist attack that China has suffered.”

The blasts took place in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. Over 10 million Turkic Muslims live in the province and identify themselves as Uighurs. Two cars drove through people at a market tossingexplosives. Some reports say the two cars collided and blew up, while others say only one car exploded. The attack happened one day after President Xi Jinping pledged to “make terrorists like rats scurrying across a street.”

The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) sometimes goes by the name of the Turkestan Islamic Party. It killed three last month in an attack involving both explosives and knives at a train station. Prior to that, it killed 29 in a knife rampage at a train station. The escalation began in October when it killed two people by hitting them with a car in Beijing’s famous Tiananmen Square.

In February, ETIM released a video where it pledged to behead Chinese Buddhists and to “cut you piece by piece.” The cleric in it even made derogatory racial remarks, insulting the Chinese for their “small eyes, flat noses.” The group stated that it believes its attacks on China would help usher in the fulfillment of Islamic prophecy.

Judgment day will not come, until we attacked them. Judgment day will not come, until we slaughter them. Judgment day will not come, until our war with them and attacking them,” a translation reads.

ETIM is an Al-Qaeda affiliate largely based in Pakistan that is fighting for the independence of Xinjiang Province as it had from 1644-1991 and 1944-1949. It desires the creation of a new state called East Turkestan.

The Uighur population is hostile to the Chinese authorities, but ETIM has little support among them and is said to have only about 200 members. The Council on Foreign Relations says, “Although the ETIM seeks to establish an independent Islamic regime, the majority of Uighurs do not support an Islamic state.” China expert Gordon Chang says Uighur protests have not been about Sharia and few of them are terrorists.

Read more at Clarion Project

China Decries Recent Terror Attack But Still Helps Hamas

China

‘Beijing supports Iran to the hilt, so it supports those organizations that Iran wants it to support,’ says China expert Gordon Chang.

BY RYAN MAURO:

On October 28, an Islamist suicide bomber struck Tiananmen Square in Beijing and killed two tourists. The Chinese government says that Islamist terrorists are its greatest threat, but Israeli intelligence found that Hamas has found China to be friendly territory.

China says that the bombing was carried out by the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) that is based in China’s Muslim-majority Xinjiang Province. It is populated by Uighurs, a minority that does not identify as Chinese and speak Turkic. The ETIM says it is fighting for independence.

The U.S. says it considers ETIM to be a threat because of its affiliations with Al-Qaeda. Two of its top leaders, including its founder, were killed in Pakistan in 2003 and 2010 by Pakistani soldiers. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, hundreds of Uighurs were hosted by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and 22 were captured by U.S. forces.

The United Nations says it has been led by a member of Al-Qaeda’s Shura Council and that ETIM has targeted U.S. interests in the past, including the embassy in Kyrgyzstan. The U.N. estimates its strength to be only around 200 members.

China expert Gordon Chang, however, told the Clarion Project to be skeptical of Chinese claims about the group.

“Except for spontaneous street fights between Han and Uighurs, mostly Uighur act of violence in Xinjiang has been directed against the Chinese authorities and not civilians,” he said in an interview prior to the suicide bombing.

Read more at Clarion Project

Global Terrorist, Anti-U.S. Network Aiding Snowden

Edward Snowden (Photo: © Reuters)

Edward Snowden (Photo: © Reuters)

By Clare Lopez:

The global odyssey of former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and self-styled “whistleblower” Edward Snowden, now entering its second month, is tracing out a map of America’s adversaries like some kind of network analysis software program.

Whatever the arguments about alleged NSA abuses of U.S. citizen privacy rights or whether Snowden had any justification for revealing information he’d pledged a solemn oath to keep secret, his hop-scotch escape route and the motley crew of actors helping him stay out of reach of American justice already provide a graphic illustration of the loose-knit but powerful international network that is allied in hatred for the United States.

That network includes nation states, Islamic terrorists and the shadowy world of cyber warfare. The nexus of their collaboration converges on the U.S. and our friends and allies.

Snowden’s journey since he fled his home in Hawaii on May 20 so far includes stops in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong and Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport, with assistance from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and possible onward travel stops scheduled for Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador.

Islamic terrorists already have begun to change communication behavior in the wake of Snowden’s revelations, according to U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials. Further complicating the threat matrix, cybersecurity experts have been warning for some time that there is evidence that adversarial nation states like China, Iran, and Russia as well as the jihadist al-Qaeda group are working with Anonymous hackers to mount cyber attacks against U.S. businesses, government and critical infrastructure.

Read more at The Clarion Project

 

Obama’s Global Makeover

Obama 6Center for Security Policy

By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

In an impromptu conversation with Joe the Plumber during the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama famously and unintentionally acknowledged his support for redistributing the nation’s wealth. And he has been hard at it ever since.

Mr. Obama has yet to cop, however,to another, arguably even more radical agenda: redistributing the nation’s power. We are, nonetheless, beginning to witness the poisonous fruits of his efforts to enhance the relative might of America¹s adversaries while degrading our own.  Call it Obama’ s global makeover.

The most obvious example is in the Middle East, where each day brings fresh evidence of how the Obama administration’s disastrous policy of embracing Islamists is transforming and destabilizing the region.  Of particular concern is the Muslim Brotherhood’s accelerating domination of the Egyptian government, which is turning the Arab world¹s most populous nation, one that sits astride the strategic Suez Canal and wields a formidable, American-supplied arsenal, into a shariah-adherent, Islamic supremacist state.  This is a formula for mass repression in Egypt, war in the Mideast and increased jihadist terror elsewhere.

Less obvious, but potentially even more problematic, is the effect of the Obama-facilitated redistribution of power on Communist China. The Chinese have not been fooled by the President’s putative strategy of ‘pivoting’ to Asia. They understand that his administration is eviscerating American military power ­ a process that will become even more draconian (and perhaps substantially irreversible) as a result of Mr. Obama¹s determination to impose the so-called sequestration round of half-a-trillion dollars more in cuts on a Pentagon already reeling from early $800 billion in previously approved reductions.

As one wag put it, the PRC views us more of a pirouetting paper-tiger than a formidable foe, whose pivot represents a meaningful trategic redeployment.

The ominous repercussions of such a perception are already beginning to manifest themselves:

Last week, police in the Chinese province of Hainan Island announced that they would stop, board, search and possibly seize vessels hey deemed to be ³illegally² plying areas of the South China Sea that Beijing has declared to be its sovereign territory.  That could apply to as much as half the world’s oil tanker traffic that passes through those waters. Some observers believe this may be a feint, designed to test American responses and resolve.  If so, the U.S. response has been negligible and the Chinese can only be further emboldened by our irresolution to stand up to their aggressive behavior.

It can hardly be an accident that China has begun throwing its weight around in other ways, as well.  As David Goldman wrote in the Asia Times on November 27th  under the nom de plume Spengler: “It is symptomatic of the national condition of the United States that the worst humiliation ever suffered by it as a nation, and by a U.S. president personally, passed almost without comment last week. I refer to the November 20 announcement at a summit meeting in Phnom Penh that 15 Asian nations, comprising half the world’s population, would form a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership excluding the United States.

We were not accidently barred from this new grouping. Rather, Goldman reports, Obama triedto use the summit to promote a U.S.-sponsored “Trans-Pacific Partnership” that would exclude China.  He not only failed.

The ASEAN nations plus India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand actually agreed to form instead a new club with China in, and the United States out. Spengler attributes this poke in the eye to a cold calculation by the Pacific rim types that the United States is no longer the region’s dominant economic power.  That may be.

But whether it is a recalibration rooted in changing financial and trade relations or a sense that China is emerging as the new hegemon in their part of the world, the result is the same: Dynamics in Asia that are unlikely to prove conducive to our economy or security.

Then, there is President Obama’s rash effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons, starting with ours.  A State Department advisory committee made up of rabid disarmers has just issued a recommendation that the United States make still further, deep reductions in its nuclear stockpile, through negotiated agreements with Russia, if possible, and unilaterally if Vladimir Putin will not go along. This panel ­ like the Obama administration that is expected to embrace its recommendations ­ seems indifferent to the growing evidence that China may have substantially more deployed nuclear weapons than we do. And, unlike ours, theirs are on modern launch vehicles, many of which appear to be hidden in 3,000 miles of hardened tunnels.  Meanwhile, Team Obama is ensuring that there will be no modernization of the U.S. arsenal and that its weapons, and the industrial complex vital to their future deterrent value and readiness, will continue to atrophy.

President Obama is redistributing power, all right, and is thereby giving the globe a strategic makeover.  Think of it as his “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” by diminishing its power and upgrading that of its enemies.

Does any one actually think this is going to have any effect other than emboldening those who wish us ill, even as we reduce our capacity to deter and, if necessary, to defeat them?