Thursday, March 31




Last week the Afghan Government announced that it will soon start assuming security responsibility for 7 regions throughout Afghanistan. President Karzai explained on Tuesday, March 22nd, that the transition will commence in July with the provinces Bamyan, Panjshir and most of Kabul Province as well as the provincial capitals of Mazar-e-Sharif, Lashkar Gah, Herat, and Mehtar Lam.
It marks the first step of the transition process where the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police take over security resposibility from NATO forces, as the International Community and the Afghan Government have pledged at the London and Kabul Conferences in 2010.
The legendary American hero from Iraq and now commander of the NATO - ISAF forces in Afghanistan, U.S. General David Petraeus, gave the World Security Network Foundation an exclusive interview in Mazar-e-Sharif in North Afghanistan about progress in Afghanistan in the last eight months.

Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann
President and Founder
World Security Network Foundation

AQAP and the Vacuum of Authority in Yemen Read more: AQAP and the Vacuum of Authority in Yemen | STRATFOR

By Scott Stewart
While the world’s attention is focused on the combat transpiring in Libya and the events in Egypt and Bahrain, Yemen has also descended into crisis. The country is deeply split over its support for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and this profound divide has also extended to the most powerful institutions in the country — the military and the tribes — with some factions calling for Saleh to relinquish power and others supporting him. The tense standoff in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa has served to divert attention (and security forces) from other parts of the country.
On March 28, an explosion at a munitions factory in southern Yemen killed at least 110 people. The factory, which reportedly produced AK rifles and ammunition, was located in the town of Jaar in Abyan province. Armed militants looted the factory March 27, and the explosion reportedly occurred the next day as local townspeople were rummaging through the factory. It is not known what sparked the explosion, but it is suspected to have been an accident, perhaps caused by careless smoking.
The government has reported that the jihadist group Aden-Abyan Islamic Army worked with militant separatists from the south to conduct the raid on the factory. Other sources have indicated to STRATFOR that they believe the raid was conducted by tribesman from Loder. Given the history of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) activity in the Loder area, if the tribesmen were indeed from Loder, it is highly likely they were at least sympathetic to AQAP if not affiliated with the group.
While it is in Saleh’s interest to play up the separatist and jihadist threats as a way of showing international and internal parties how important he is and why he should remain in power, these threats are indeed legitimate. Even in the best of times, there are large portions of Yemen that are under tenuous government control, and the current crisis has enlarged this power vacuum. Because of this lack of government focus and the opportunity to gather weapons in places like Jaar, militant groups such as AQAP, the strongest of al Qaeda’s regional franchise groups, have been provided with a golden opportunity. The question is: Will they be capable of fully exploiting it?

The Situation in Yemen

The raid on the arms factory in Jaar was facilitated by the fact that government security forces had been forced to focus elsewhere. Reports indicate that there was only a company of Yemeni troops in Jaar to guard the factory and that they were quickly overwhelmed by the militants. While the government moved a battalion into Jaar to restore order, those troops had to be taken from elsewhere. This confrontation between troops loyal to Saleh and those led by Brig. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar in the capital city has also caused security forces from both sides to be drawn back to Sanaa in anticipation of a clash. It has also resulted in a vacuum of power in many parts of the country. Currently, government control over large parts of the country varies from town to town, especially in provinces such as Saada, al-Jouf, Shabwa and Abyan, which have long histories of separatist activity.
AQAP and the Vacuum of Authority in Yemen
It is important to understand that Yemen was not a very cohesive entity going into this current crisis, and the writ of the central government has been continually challenged since the country’s founding. Until 1990, Yemen was split into two countries, the conservative, Saudi-influenced Yemen Arab Republic in the north and the Marxist, secular People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in the south. In 1994, following a peaceful unification in 1990, a bloody civil war was fought between the north and the south. While the north won the war, tensions have remained high between the two sides, and there has long been a simmering anti-government sentiment in the south. This sentiment has periodically manifested itself in outbreaks of armed hostilities between the armed southern separatist movement and government forces.
In Yemen’s northwest, the al-Houthi rebels also have been waging a war of secession against the central government in Sanaa. In the last round of open hostilities, which ended in January 2010, the Yemeni government was unable to quell the uprising, and Saudi Arabia had to commit military forces to help force the al-Houthi rebels to capitulate.
Yemen’s tribes present another challenge to the central government. President Saleh had been able to use a system of patronage and payoffs to help secure the support of the country’s powerful tribes, but this recently has become more difficult with Saudi influence with the tribes eclipsing that of Saleh. In recent weeks, many prominent tribal leaders such as the al-Ahmars have decided to join the opposition and denounce Saleh. The tribes have always been largely independent and have controlled large sections of the country with very little government interference. Government influence there is even less now.
Saleh has also used the conservative tribes and jihadists to help him in his battles against secessionists in both the north and the south. They proved eager to fight the secular Marxists in the south and the Zaydi Shiite al-Houthi in the north. The practice of relying on the conservative tribes and jihadists has also blown back on the Yemeni regime and, as in Pakistan, there are jihadist sympathizers within the Yemeni security apparatus. Because of this dynamic, efforts to locate and root out AQAP elements have been very complicated and limited.
The Yemeni tribes practice a very conservative form of Islam, and their tribal traditions are in many ways similar to the Pashtunwali code in Pakistan. According to this tradition, any guest of the tribe — such as an al Qaeda militant — is vigorously protected once welcomed. They will also protect “sons of the tribe,” such as American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, a member of the powerful Awlak tribe (the Yemeni prime minister is the uncle of al-Awlaki’s father). The AQAP leadership has further exploited this tribal tradition by shrewdly marrying into many of the powerful tribes in order to solidify the mantle of protection they provide.


In late 2009, in the wake of the Christmas Day plot to destroy Northwest Airlines Flight 253, the Fort Hood shootings and the attempted assassination of the Saudi deputy interior minister, STRATFOR believed that 2010 was going to see a concerted effort by the Yemenis to destroy the AQAP organization. As 2010 passed, it became clear that, despite the urging and assistance of their U.S. and Saudi allies, the Yemenis had been unable to cause much damage to AQAP as an organization, and as evidenced by the Oct. 29, 2010, cargo-bomb attempt, AQAP finished 2010 stronger than we had anticipated.
In fact, as we entered 2011, AQAP had moved to the forefront of the international jihadist movement on the physical battlefield and had also begun to take a leading role in the ideological realm due to a number of factors, including the group’s popular Arabic-language online magazine Sada al-Malahim, the emergence of AQAP’s English-language Inspire magazine and the increased profile and popularity of al-Awlaki.
As we noted last month regarding Libya, jihadists have long thrived in chaotic environments such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. Indeed, this is exactly why the leadership of AQAP left Saudi Arabia and relocated to the more permissive environment of Yemen. Unlike the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, AQAP is active, has attempted to conduct a number of transnational attacks, and has sought to encourage grassroots jihadists across the globe to think globally and attack locally. With the government of Yemen unable to prosecute a successful campaign against AQAP in 2010, the chance of them making much progress against the group in 2011 amid the current crisis is even more remote.
The United States has spent the past several years training up a “new guard” within the Yemeni security apparatus — mainly the Counter Terrorism Unit, National Security Bureau, Special Forces and Central Security Forces, which are all led by Saleh’s relatives — in an effort to counterbalance the influence of the Islamist old guard in the military (led by Saleh’s big competitor right now, Ali Mohsin). These select forces are now being tasked with protecting the Saleh regime against dissident units of the Yemeni military, which means there is no one left on the Yemeni side to focus on AQAP. This situation is likely to persist for some time as the standoff progresses and even after the installation of a new government, which will have to sort things out and deal with the separatist issues in the north and south. Indeed, these issues are seen as more pressing threats to the regime than AQAP and the jihadists.
If there is a transition of power in Yemen, and Mohsin and his faction come to power, there is likely to be a purge of these new guard forces and their leadership, which is loyal to Saleh. The result will be a removal of the new guard and an increase in the influence of the Islamists and jihadist sympathizers in the Yemeni security and intelligence apparatus. This could have a significant impact on U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Yemen, and provide a significant opportunity for AQAP.
The violence and civil unrest wracking Yemen has almost certainly curtailed the ability of American intelligence officers to travel, meet with people and collect much information pertaining to AQAP, especially in places that have fallen under militant control. Additionally, the attention of U.S. intelligence agencies has in all likelihood been diverted to the task of trying to gather intelligence pertaining to what is happening with Saleh and the opposition rather than what is happening with AQAP. This will likely provide AQAP with some breathing room.
The United States has been quietly active in Yemen, albeit in a limited way, under the auspices of the Yemeni government. If the Islamist old guard in the military assumes power, it is quite likely that this operational arrangement will not continue — at least not initially. Because of this, should the United States believe that the Saleh regime is about to fall, it may no longer be concerned about alienating the tribes that have supported Saleh, and if it has somehow obtained good intelligence regarding the location of various high-value AQAP targets, it may feel compelled to take unilateral action to attack those targets. Such an operational window will likely be limited, however, and once Saleh leaves, such opportunities will likely be lost.
If the United States is not able to take such unilateral action, AQAP will have an excellent opportunity to grow and flourish due to the preoccupation of Yemeni security forces with other things, and the possibility of having even more sympathizers in the government. Not only will this likely result in fewer offensive operations against AQAP in the tribal areas, but the group will also likely be able to acquire additional resources and weapons.
In the past, the leadership of AQAP has shown itself to be shrewd and adaptable, although the group has not displayed a high degree of tactical competence in past attacks against hard targets such as the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa and the British ambassador. Still, AQAP has come very close to succeeding in a number of failed yet innovative attacks outside of Yemen, including the assassination attempt against Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the Christmas Day 2009 underwear-bomb plot and the UPS printer-bomb plot in October 2010, and the window of opportunity that is opening for the group is sure to cause a great deal of angst in Washington, Riyadh and a number of European capitals. It remains to be seen if AQAP can take advantage of the situation in Yemen to conduct a successful attack outside of the country (or a hard target within the country) and finally make it into the terrorist big leagues.

Reprinting or republication of this report on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence, including the hyperlink to STRATFOR, at the beginning or end of the report.

An open letter to Osama bin Laden

By Noman Benotman

Is it not time for believers to humble their hearts to the remembrance of
God and the Truth that has been revealed. Quran, 57:16

Dear Osama bin Laden Abu Abdullah,

I greet you with the peace of Islam and ask you to reflect on the following. Do so for the sake of Allah, his Prophet, and the safety of all humans worldwide.

I write to you as a former comrade-in-arms. We fought together. We were ready to die together. Under the banner of Islam, we came to the aid of fellow Muslims in Afghanistan. To this day, I take pride in having fought against the Soviets and communists. We were in the right and no enemy could have stood in our way.

This is no longer the case.

After our victory, we became a curse for the very people we sought to help. Afghans, including Mullah Omar and his supporters, asked us to protect their country and its people. Instead, you wanted to use their country as a launch-pad for war against America, Israel, the West and the Arab regimes. What benefit has this brought the Afghan people?

Separately, when Mullah Omar asked you on several occasions to stop provoking and inviting American attacks on his country, you ignored him. How can you claim to fight for an "Islamic State" and then so flagrantly disobey the ruler you helped put in place? Do you not remember Sheikh Abu Hafs al-Mauritani's religious opinion that by defying Mullah Omar, al-Qaeda was making a mockery of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and that building Afghanistan was the call of the hour and the duty of those Muslims who lived there - not "jihad" abroad?

I also remind you (and disclose here for the first time publicly) that in this meeting Abu Muhammad al-Zayyat, the head of your own organisation's security committee (later appointed head of the military committee in 2000), vehemently objected to your "final" planned operation, the 11th September suicide bombings. Abu Muhammad al-Zayyat believed these missions were illegitimate without Mullah Omar's permission. The question asked by many, even among the closed group, was: by what right did al-Qaeda by-pass and ignore Mullah Omar? And, of course, even if Mullah Omar had given his permission this would not change the fact that such attacks are completely unjustifiable.

Osama, you were kind enough to invite me to breakfast at your simple mud house in Kandahar in summer of 2000. I still remember your children playing barefoot near us. In our meetings, I represented the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and in the presence of Dr. Zawahiri as well as other key figures, I argued for an immediate cessation of violence and an end to al-Qaeda's attacks outside Afghanistan. You asked me to provide you with access to LIFG's global logistic network to bolster your "Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders", as you termed your ongoing war. I refused point-blank, without even seeing the need to consult my group on this decision. You saw many truths in my argument: that al-Qaeda and its violent acts had been an abject failure. However, you said that one more operation was under way, and that you could not stop it.

On the morning of 11th September 2001, the world discovered the unstoppable chain of events both you and al-Qaeda had put in place. Why was this operation carried out? What has the 11th September brought to the world except mass killings, occupations, destruction, hatred of Muslims, humiliation of Islam, and a tighter grip on the lives of ordinary Muslims by the authoritarian regimes that control Arab and Muslim states? I warned you then, in summer 2000, of how your actions would bring US forces into the Middle East and into Afghanistan, leading to mass unrest and loss of life. You believed I was wrong. Time has proved me right. Your actions have harmed millions of innocent Muslims and non-Muslims alike. How is this Islam or jihad? For how much longer will al-Qaeda continue to bring shame on Islam, disrupt ordinary Muslims' lives, and be the cause of global unrest?

Muslims across the world have rejected your calls for wrongful jihad and the establishment of your so-called "Islamic state" when they witnessed the form this has taken in Iraq. Even the Palestinians consider your "help" to have had negative repercussions on their cause. Indeed Israel's control over Gaza has never been stronger and yet some of your supporters have even declared Hamas to be an apostate organisation! What then of the rest of the Palestinian population and other Muslims? Most Muslim communities wish to embrace and engage in democracy; they seek justice, peace, freedom, human rights and peaceful coexistence with the rest of the world. Instead, where there was harmony, you brought discord.

In New York, your un-Islamic actions have caused hurt, loss, pain and anguish to thousands of innocent people and their families. One consequence is that those Muslims seeking to build a House of God in New York are today being compared to Nazis. And now we hear that on the anniversary of your attack an American preacher is even planning to burn the Quran in revenge! Indeed Muslims living in democratic and free societies around the world are now experiencing the consequences of your irresponsible acts. In Switzerland and France, countries in which Muslims were able to freely and openly practise their religion, they have been forced to abandon symbols of their faith. In China, our brothers and sisters face daily oppression by the Communist government on account of al-Qaeda's actions elsewhere. In Iraq, a proud and noble nation, an entirepopulation lives in fear of takfir (excommunication) and daily suicide bombings. In Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries, people live in fear of men who believe they are allowed to commit murder in the name of Islam and take lives in exchange for their own shahada (martyrdom). Is this really the path to paradise? On this issue, I strongly advise you to seek the guidance of authentic scholars for "a Muslim can still be saved as long as he does not spill inviolable blood" (Sahih Bukhari).

I know you to be a humble man, one who has given up a luxurious lifestyle to dedicate yourself to the cause you believe in. However, your jihad should now ensure al-Qaeda reverts back to the path of ahl al sunnawal jama‘a (the people who follow the example of the Prophet and the majority) and realigns its acts and policies with authentic Islamic rulings.

Your duty is to prevent your organisation from going further down the road of extremism (ghuluw), ex-communication (takfir) and the shedding of innocent blood that was forbidden by God.

In light of all these points, I recommend that al-Qaeda announce a unilateral halt to its military operations for a period of six months, for the following three purposes:

- To take a step back from fighting to study and consider the organization's vision, approach and strategy; for instance by attempting to answer the following questions: How would a suspension of al-Qaeda's military activity affect Islam and Muslims around the world? Will it hurt their interests or will it allow them to make greater progress towards achieving peace and the freedom to practice and preach their religion? What would Islam lose if al-Qaeda were to end its violence?
- To explore public opinion in Muslim communities around the world and their position vis- à-vis al-Qaeda, in terms of support or rejection on both the ideological and operational levels.
- To seek the guidance of those scholars such as Sheikh Salman al- Auda who have rejected your approach and concept of jihad, as well as others who are ‘accepted as speaking with the voice of the Ummah' (Talaqqathum al-umma bil qabul).

I believe that adopting this strategy will also be the first step towards ending the occupation of Afghanistan and establishing peace and securityin the region.

In urging you to halt your violence and re-consider your aims and strategy, I believe I am merely expressing the views of the vast majorityof Muslims who wish to see their religion regain the respect it has lost and who long to carry the name of "Muslim" with pride.

In peace,
Abu Muhammed Al-Libi
Noman Benotman

Friday, March 25

FBI and the DHS

On Dec. 15, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent a joint bulletin to state and local law enforcement agencies expressing their concern that terrorists may attack a large public gathering in a major U.S. metropolitan area during the 2010 holiday season. That concern was echoed by contacts at the FBI and elsewhere who told STRATFOR they were almost certain there was going to be a terrorist attack launched against the United States over Christmas.

Certainly, attacks during the December holiday season are not unusual. There is a history of such attacks, from the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on Dec. 21, 1988, and the thwarted millennium attacks in December 1999 and January 2000 to the post-9/11 airliner attacks by shoe bomber Richard Reid on Dec. 22, 2001, and by underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on Dec. 25, 2009. Some of these plots have even stemmed from the grassroots. In December 2006, Derrick Shareef was arrested while planning an attack he hoped to launch against an Illinois shopping mall on Dec. 22.

Mass gatherings in large metropolitan areas have also been repeatedly targeted by jihadist groups and lone wolves. In addition to past attacks and plots directed against the subway systems in major cities such as Madrid, London, New York and Washington, 2010 saw failed attacks against the crowds in New York's Times Square on May 1 and in Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, Ore., on Nov. 26.

With this history, it is understandable that the FBI and the DHS would be concerned about such an attack this year and issue a warning to local and state law enforcement agencies in the United States. This American warning also comes on the heels of similar alerts in Europe, warnings punctuated by the Dec. 11 suicide attack in Stockholm.

So far, the 2010 holiday season has been free from terrorist attacks, but as evidenced by all the warnings and concern, this season has not been free from the fear of such attacks, the psychological impact known as "terror." In light of these recent developments, it seems appropriate to discuss the closely related phenomena of terrorism and terror.

Propaganda of the Deed

Nineteenth-century anarchists promoted what they called the "propaganda of the deed," that is, the use of violence as a symbolic action to make a larger point, such as inspiring the masses to undertake revolutionary action. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, modern terrorist organizations began to conduct operations designed to serve as terrorist theater, an undertaking greatly aided by the advent and spread of broadcast media. Examples of attacks designed to grab international media attention are the September 1972 kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the December 1975 raid on OPEC headquarters in Vienna. Aircraft hijackings followed suit, changing from relatively brief endeavors to long, drawn-out and dramatic media events often spanning multiple continents.

Today, the proliferation of 24-hour television news networks and the Internet have allowed the media to broadcast such attacks live and in their entirety. This development allowed vast numbers of people to watch live as the World Trade Center towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, and as teams of gunmen ran amok in Mumbai in November 2008.

This exposure not only allows people to be informed about unfolding events, it also permits them to become secondary victims of the violence they have watched unfold before them. As the word indicates, the intent of "terrorism" is to create terror in a targeted audience, and the media allow that audience to become far larger than just those in the immediate vicinity of a terrorist attack. I am not a psychologist, but even I can understand that on 9/11, watching the second aircraft strike the South Tower, seeing people leap to their deaths from the windows of the World Trade Center Towers in order to escape the ensuing fire and then watching the towers collapse live on television had a profound impact on many people. A large portion of the United State was, in effect, victimized, as were a large number of people living abroad, judging from the statements of foreign citizens and leaders in the wake of 9/11 that "We are all Americans."

During that time, people across the globe became fearful, and almost everyone was certain that spectacular attacks beyond those involving the four aircraft hijacked that morning were inevitable - clearly, many people were shaken to their core by the attacks. A similar, though smaller, impact was seen in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. People across India were fearful of being attacked by teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba gunmen, and concern spread around the world about Mumbai-style terrorism. Indeed, this concern was so great that we felt compelled to write an analysis emphasizing that the tactics employed in Mumbai were not new and that, while such operations could kill people, the approach would be less successful in the United States and Europe than it was in Mumbai.

Terror Magnifiers

These theatrical attacks have a strange hold over the human imagination and can create a unique sense of terror that dwarfs the normal reaction to natural disasters that are many times greater in magnitude. For example, in the 2004 Asian tsunami, more than 227,000 people died, while fewer than 3,000 people died on 9/11. Yet the 9/11 attacks produced not only a sense of terror but also a geopolitical reaction that has exerted a profound and unparalleled impact upon world events over the past decade. Terrorism clearly can have a powerful impact on the human psyche - so much so that even the threat of a potential attack can cause fear and apprehension, as seen by the reaction to the recent spate of warnings about attacks occurring over the holidays.

As noted above, the media serve as a magnifier of this anxiety and terror. Television news, whether broadcast on the airwaves or over the Internet, allows people to remotely and vicariously experience a terrorist event, and this is reinforced by the print media. While part of this magnification is due merely to the nature of television as a medium and the 24-hour news cycle, bad reporting and misunderstanding can also help build hype and terror. For example, when Mexican drug cartels began placing small explosive devices in vehicles in Ciudad Juarez and Ciudad Victoria this past year, the media hysterically reported that the cartels were using car bombs. Clearly, the journalists failed to appreciate the significant tactical and operational differences between a small bomb placed in a car and the far larger and more deadly vehicle-borne explosive device.

The traditional news media are not alone in the role of terror magnifier. The Internet has also become an increasingly effective conduit for panic and alarm. From breathless (and false) claims in 2005 that al Qaeda had pre-positioned nuclear weapons in the United States and was preparing to attack nine U.S. cities and kill 4 million Americans in an operation called "American Hiroshima" to claims in 2010 that Mexican drug cartels were still smuggling nuclear weapons for Osama bin Laden, a great deal of fearmongering can spread over the Internet. Website operators who earn advertising revenue based on the number of unique visitors who read the stories featured on their sites have an obvious financial incentive for publishing outlandish and startling terrorism claims. The Internet also has produced a wide array of other startling revelations, including the oft-recycled e-mail chain stating that an Israeli counterterrorism expert has predicted al Qaeda will attack six, seven or eight U.S. cities simultaneously "within the next 90 days." This e-mail was first circulated in 2005 and has been periodically re-circulated over the past five years. Although it is an old, false prediction, it still creates fear every time it is circulated.

Sometimes a government can act as a terror magnifier. Whether it is the American DHS raising the threat level to red or the head of the French internal intelligence service stating that the threat of terrorism in that country has never been higher, such warnings can produce widespread public concern. As we've noted elsewhere, there are a number of reasons for such warnings, from trying to pre-empt a terrorist attack when there is incomplete intelligence to a genuine concern for the safety of citizens in the face of a known threat to less altruistic motives such as political gain or bureaucratic maneuvering (when an agency wants to protect itself from blame in case there is an attack). As seen by the public reaction to the many warnings in the wake of 9/11, including recommendations that citizens purchase plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect themselves from chemical and biological attack, such warnings can produce immediate panic, although, over time, as threats and warnings prove to be unfounded, this panic can turn into threat fatigue.

Those seeking to terrorize can and do use these magnifiers to produce terror without having to go to the trouble of conducting attacks. The empty threats made by bin Laden and his inner circle that they were preparing an attack larger than 9/11 - threats propagated by the Internet, picked up by the media and then reacted to by governments - are prime historical examples of this.

In recent weeks, we saw a case where panic was caused by a similar confluence of events. In October, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) issued the second edition of Inspire, its English-language magazine. As we discussed in our analysis of the magazine, its Open Source Jihad section pointed out a number of ways that attacks could be conducted by grassroots jihadists living in the West. In addition to the suggestion that an attacker could weld butcher knives onto the bumper of a pickup truck and drive it through a crowd, or use a gun as attackers did in Little Rock and at Fort Hood, another method briefly mentioned was that grassroots operatives could use ricin or cyanide in attacks. In response, the DHS decided to investigate further and even went to the trouble of briefing corporate security officers from the hotel and restaurant industries on the potential threat. CBS news picked up the story and ran an exclusive report compete with a scary poison logo superimposed over photos of a hotel, a dinner buffet and an American flag. The report made no mention of the fact that the AQAP article paid far less attention to the ricin and cyanide suggestion than it did to what it called the "ultimate mowing machine," the pickup with butcher knives, or even the more practical - and far more likely - armed assault.

This was a prime example of terror magnifiers working with AQAP to produce fear.

Groups such as al Qaeda clearly recognize the difference between terrorist attacks and terror. This is seen not only in the use of empty threats to sow terror but also in the way terrorist groups claim success for failed attacks. For example, AQAP declared the failed Christmas Day 2009 "underwear" bombing to be a success due to the effect it had on the air-transportation system. In a special edition of Inspire magazine published in November following the failed attack against cargo aircraft, AQAP trumpeted the operation as a success, citing the fear, disruption and expense that resulted. AQAP claimed the cargo bomb plot and the Christmas Day plot were part of what it called "Operation Hemorrhage," an effort to cause economic damage and fear and not necessarily kill large numbers of people.

As we've noted before, practitioners of terrorism lose a great deal of their ability to create terror if the people they are trying to terrorize adopt the proper mindset. A critical part of this mindset is placing terrorism in perspective. Terrorist attacks are going to continue to happen because there are a wide variety of militant groups and individuals who seek to use violence as a means of influencing a government - either their own or someone else's.

There have been several waves of terrorism over the past century, but it has been a fairly constant phenomenon, especially over the past few decades. While the flavors of terror may vary from Marxist and nationalist strains to Shiite Islamist to jihadist, it is certain that even if al Qaeda and its jihadist spawn were somehow magically eradicated tomorrow, the problem of terrorism would persist.

Terrorist attacks are also relatively easy to conduct, especially if the assailant is not concerned about escaping after the attack. As AQAP has noted in its Inspire magazine, a determined person can conduct attacks using a variety of simple weapons, from a pickup to a knife, axe or gun. And while the authorities in the United States and elsewhere have been quite successful in foiling attacks over the past couple of years, there are a large number of vulnerable targets in the open societies of the West, and Western governments simply do not have the resources to protect everything - not even authoritarian police states can protect everything. This all means that some terrorist attacks will invariably succeed.

How the media, governments and populations respond to those successful strikes will shape the way that the attackers gauge their success. Obviously, the 9/11 attacks, which caused the United States to invade Afghanistan (and arguably Iraq) were far more successful than bin Laden and company could ever have hoped. The London bombings on July 7, 2005, where the British went back to work as usual the next day, were seen as less successful.

In the final analysis, the world is a dangerous place. Everyone is going to die, and some people are certain to die in a manner that is brutal or painful. In 2001, more than 42,000 people died from car crashes in the United States and hundreds of thousands of Americans died from heart disease and cancer. The 9/11 attacks were the bloodiest terrorist attacks in world history, and yet even those historic attacks resulted in the deaths of fewer than 3,000 people, a number that pales in comparison to deaths by other causes. This is in no way meant to trivialize those who died on 9/11, or the loss their families suffered, but merely to point out that lots of people die every day and that their families are affected, too.

If the public will take a cue from groups like AQAP, it too can separate terrorism from terror. Recognizing that terrorist attacks, like car crashes and cancer and natural disasters, are a part of the human condition permits individuals and families to practice situational awareness and take prudent measures to prepare for such contingencies without becoming vicarious victims. This separation will help deny the practitioners of terrorism and terror the ability to magnify their reach and power.

Stuxnet - The Trojan Horse. A Noble Weapon?

written by: PJ Wilcox, 20-Feb-11

PJ Wilcox, author of the World Security Network:"The malware worm may have started out as a logistical program, Promis. Then it morphed into an “Enhanced Promis” for intelligence work. It was subsequently altered for specific situations, given different names and sold to perhaps a dozen countries, worming its way around the world. In the process, rather than burrowing, the worm became like a centipede with hundreds of legs regenerating in different sizes and shapes, taking direction from its owners regarding objectives."
Stuxnet worm's true origins are exposed - Virus intended as "weapon of peace"
- Origins date back over 30 years, not 2009 as estimated
- U.S., KGB, Israel, Canada, Australia and others have all had earlier versions
- Proliferation may continue undetectable with experts only having solved "false flags"
- Changes landscape of modern warfare as we know it

It’s breaking dawn by a beachside command center for Hezbollah. But already, the commander has been up for hours in anticipation of the day’s work – the simultaneous annihilation of revered European cultural sites and the inner border of Israel. The former attack sites have been indiscriminately chosen to garner world attention. The latter would be retribution for, well, for just being. All the commander needs to do now is give the word.
He picks up the receiver of his impenetrable, mega-million-dollar communications system installed to withstand all but a nuclear war. But the receiver is silent, no dial tone. Dead. Impatient but unperturbed, he turns to his cell phone. No service. By now, he is on a rampage, waking up the entire installation with shouts of ineptitude. Others come to his aide, aimed at restoring lines. But they too encounter silence. No phones, no fax, no Internet. Back to the Middle Ages. There will be no war today. No missiles fired. Without communication, there is no relaying of orders. The best laid plans of sabotage gone astray.
An event like this did happen this past fall in the Mid-East, according to two deep, inside sources of mine. Except that there were actually five command centers, and all five went down simultaneously. There was still worse chaos, 40 minutes later, explosions ratcheting the air like a blitzkrieg, underground weapons caches exploding in place. The command centers knew the explosions were close, but with no communications, knew not where – they couldn’t relay offensive orders, deploy defensive actions, or even discern what was going down.
A neighboring nation came to the rescue, their radar detecting enemy jets over Lebanon skies and scrambling its fighter jets. Except in truth, there were no enemy jets to be found, just sunny, cloudless skies. Much like communications at the command center, that neighboring air force’s radar had been manipulated.
Off in a different country, in the land of an enemy combatant, there were wry smiles among those in the know. This had all been a long time coming. Not just years, but decades. Because they knew survival might come down to just such a day. And so they had planned well for their Trojan horse, the smallest, most microscopic of masquerades. The malware worm, Stuxnet.
Nineteen hours later, all communications order was miraculously restored in Beirut and radar resumed working. But there was then another type of silence at command and air control centers because one player in this game of chess had showed that it could start and stop all communications at the drop of a hat, and turn them back on at whim. A message that to others might be subtle is not subtle to a trained eye in war.
As they might say in War College, “We choose the time, the place, and the element.” The element, in this case, was the worm, Stuxnet. And the message was clear: Any time, any place. Our choosing.
To some, the worm is a noble weapon, to the recipient, ignoble.
Some might find a noble weapon an oxymoron. But let me relay comments of Geir Lundestad, Secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee at an Oslo presentation attended by an associate of mine. Lundestad said the esteemed Nobel Peace Prize is sometimes awarded not for accomplishments toward peace, but as a deterrent to war. “The prize can actually influence outside events,” he said. Lech Walesa said that he would not have achieved Solidarity’s victory in Poland in 1989, had he not earlier received the Nobel Peace Prize. Likewise, East Timor winners said their prize in 1996 helped that country become independent. Lundestad said the Committee had “adapted the definition of peace. The Nobel Peace Prize is also a protective device.” He said Committee members ask themselves, “What can we actually do for peace?”
And so now we have the worm opening undetectable doors not visible to the naked eye. But like the Nobel Peace Prize, the doors opened are with the ultimate goal being to deter war and maintain peace. The goal is to fight and win a war with no bloodshed, with few if any human casualties.
The worm, Stuxnet, is a Trojan horse said to have disabled Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The New York Times said late last year, "Meanwhile, the search for other clues in the Stuxnet program continues — and so do the theories about its origins."
The Times updated their take on January 15, 2011 calling Stuxnet, “the most sophisticated cyberweapon ever deployed…experts who have picked apart the computer worm describe it as far more complex — and ingenious — than anything they had imagined when it began circulating around the world, unexplained, in mid-2009.”
Other major news outlets report it as an attack that was the perfect storm leaving no fingerprints, or that it should have won “Person of the Year” for its impact on world events. Still others at first tried to decipher cryptic language within the worm, supposedly tied to this or that chapter of the bible. In other words, no one has much clue as to the true Stuxnet origin. That’s because no one has been looking back far enough. As Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.”
No one is looking back to a time in the mid-70s, when an obscure program called Promis first reared its head. Promis, according to sources, is at the root of Stuxnet. Promis was a computer program that promised to help US prosecutors track criminals and legal maneuverings through the system, “Prosecutor's Management Information System.” The people-tracking software was later marketed by a firm named Inslaw, under the auspices of William Hamilton, a former NSA officer who still markets a version of the product today.
The Department of Justice became intrigued by Promis, seeing its potential for exorbitant legal case-management and provided funding for improvements. As Promis morphed, its capabilities refined, its natural alternative applications became self-evident: the worlds of intelligence, terrorists and targets.
Rafi Eitan, head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Lekem in the early 1980s, a clandestine, scientific and technological intelligence unit, attended a presentation of Promis under an assumed name. He was so impressed with it that he obtained a copy – how, and whether legally, is another story. Suffice it to say that he especially saw its potential for tracking the spidery web of PLO installations around the world, at the time under Yasser Arafat, as well as tracking the leader himself. Eitan, however, wanted a “trapdoor”, a built-in chip so that if Promis was later sold to other organizations, Israeli intelligence could track the information for which those entities might search. Big brother tracking little brother, or intelligence tracking of intelligence.
Boldly, Eitan then arranged for Arafat himself to buy the Promis program for his security needs, this according to author Gordon Thomas. But the trapdoor instead allowed Israeli intelligence to follow Arafat’s aliases on the lam. You can run, but you can’t hide from Promis. And here’s where it gets really interesting.
By the late 1980s, Promis programs had been sold to Britain, Australia, South Korea and Canada. Allies harmless enough, right?
But then up next was the KGB. There are multiple claims as to who sold Promis to the Russians. Several, including a source of mine, said it was newspaper mogul Robert Maxwell in assistance to Israel. Another acquaintance, former double agent David Dastych (Polish intell working for the CIA during the Cold War) said that an American intelligence officer admitted to him, “Yes, we gave Promis to the Russians and Chinese to back door their intel. Worked like a charm.” Both claims may overlap.
In fact, the KGB is said to have used Promis for over 15 years. At first, there was nothing to suspect since malicious malware had not really been coined. Few back then understood the power of the computer, and so the Trojan horse entered the realms of international espionage, the microscopic spy.
As former US Attorney General Elliot Richardson later said on Australia’s TV show, A Current Affair, in 1990 regarding Promis, “The US Government had through clandestine means planted software on foreign intelligence agencies so the US would be better able, the phrase goes, to read their mail.”
The only problem was the “blowback”, David Dastych reported. “As we gave it to our enemies in order to back door them through the trap door in Promis, we left 64 federal agencies open in the US Government who also used Promis.”
That’s a big, “Whooops.” An intelligence contact I know recently noted, “We opened all the cans of worms rather than just the right can of worms.”

"This is a big worry for the future,” warns Scott Borg, Director and Chief Economist of U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, an independent, non-profit research institute. “We are entering a completely new defense era. If you have the tools like Stuxnet, why would you bother with missiles? Why bother invading with an army? The whole relationship between the military and society is going to have to be re-thought.”
At least according to Dastych about that not-slight mishap, the information obtained far outweighed the damage done.The importance of the program’s role was also pointed out in a WIRED expose in the ‘90s. It quoted an ex-Israeli spy, Ari Ben Menashe, as saying “PROMIS was a very big thing for us guys, a very, very big thing….The whole form of intelligence collection changed.” So you ask, what does all of this twisted espionage in the 1980s have to do with today’s malware worm called Stuxnet? It is said of some nations and their causes that they do not plan for this generation or the next, but for hundreds of years, especially true if they are fighting for existentialism. Stuxnet is just such a case.
The malware worm may have started out as a logistical program, Promis. Then it morphed into an “Enhanced Promis” for intelligence work. It was subsequently altered for specific situations, given different names and sold to perhaps a dozen countries, worming its way around the world. In the process, rather than burrowing, the worm became like a centipede with hundreds of legs regenerating in different sizes and shapes, taking direction from its owners regarding objectives.
At issue, however, is who that current “owner” might be. Most fingers point to nations intent on halting Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities, the US and Israel. But there is no dearth of suspects given the program’s piracy over the years.
Both Russia and China have sold high-tech systems and weapons to Iran for years, and could have unwittingly been modern-day Typhoid Mary’s carrying the worm to their recipients. In a game of highly sophisticated Clue, for example, Israel might have sold Promis to the KGB; the KGB or its successors later sold critical systems to Iran; and then Iran built operations with a Trojan horse in place. Likewise, Chinese scientists tapped by Iran could have brought that country Promis, the gift that keeps giving.
It’s a scintillating game of Clue with no sure culpability, no one to shoot, a war with no casualties. Nobel Peace Prize potential. Half of the world’s computer security experts are still scratching their heads opining on this new worm, not realizing that Stuxnet is not “new” at all.
Said one publication, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield.” Another, “The timing is intriguing because a time stamp found in the Stuxnet program says it was created in January [2010], suggesting that any digital attack took place long before it was identified and began to attract global attention.” Long before is an understatement.
One man who spends his days worrying about such worms is Scott Borg, Director and Chief Economist of U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, an independent, non-profit research institute that assesses cyber attacks and counter-measures. He says that the phrase “worms” is grossly outdated.
“We’re so far beyond worms,” says Borg. “We’re into big, complicated creatures.”
He likens Stuxnet to the Velociraptor dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, intelligent, cunning, capable of hunting in groups till they find their prey. “Modern malware -- like Stuxnet -- will use any channel available to spread and search out its prey. If the target system isn't connected to the internet, the malware will migrate from device to device until it reaches the system it is looking for.”
Once planted, the Stuxnet bosses never have to talk to it again; it operates totally on its own. Somewhere, someone just watches and waits. And, in the case of Iran, Stuxnet’s target was very precise -- automation control facilities. Not just any control systems, but nuclear. So Stuxnet wormed its way around the world until as Borg says, “When it finds the system it meant to destroy, it will destroy it.”
Some think Stuxnet was spread by international contractors moving between facilities. But they don’t know about Promis.
What’s odd to Borg, for example, is that Stuxnet included some features to help it avoid being detected, but not others. Stuxnet was designed to erase itself after each copy made four additional copies on different devices. In effect, Stuxnet was designed to have a limited number of children and to kill itself after its quota of kids. This would eliminate copies that had reproduced, but hadn't reached their target so that Stuxnet’s trail would be minimized. But there was no limit on later descendants, so Stuxnet would eventually spread and almost certainly be detected. Why didn't its creators make Stuxnet eventually die, so it could covertly be used again in a different situation?
Borg offers some theories: the “attacker” was fairly desperate to reach the intended target; could not release Stuxnet very close to its intended target, hence the extra children produced; had resources to burn; and, didn't care if Stuxnet were detected and received a great deal of attention.
“Sometimes we know who carried out an attack,” adds Borg, “but it’s usually from other intelligence.”
One highly placed intelligence source I know, says we’ve hardly seen the last of Stuxnet, i.e. Promis. Sure, computer security experts found its vulnerabilities and have supposedly closed those exposures. But posed this source, “How do you know Stuxnet didn’t show those vulnerabilities on purpose, a ‘false flag’, so everyone would go ‘solve’ those problems while Stuxnet moved on?” That source winked, Gotcha. Maybe in fact, Stuxnet’s grandchildren are roaming the streets of the information superhighway as I write, ready to pounce on their next prey.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, a former CIA officer, now President of EMPACT America, a non-profit focused on electromagnetic pulse threats (EMPs) which have the potential to down power grids, thinks cyber threats are overblown at the risk of more probable, and more damaging, EMPs. Simply put, EMPs create a radio-frequency shockwave that zaps electronic fields of energy, burning out electrical systems such as computers, power grids, weaponry and communications. There’s been some tug-of-war going on in Washington as to which threat is worse, EMPs or “cybergeddon”.
Russia, for one, addressed significant cyber-risk by throwing out Promis with the bath water, choosing to re-construct their computer systems from scratch a decade or so ago, I’m told, rather than worry about generous gifts that keep giving.
But Stuxnet has also shown the civilized world the dangers of copycats. With the attention now drawn to the “good” that can be done by the likes of a Stuxnet, come the possibilities of future versions that might harm. The enormous physical power harnessed by some industrial facilities, for example, if unleashed in the wrong way by a worm could be astounding. Think of the dangers of opening a dam that should have been shut, or an oil pipeline backwashed into the sea. Nuclear reactors are just the half of it.
“There’s no reason to keep the secret from the American people, or our own allies, because the bad guys are on to it. This is a big worry for the future,” warns Borg. “We are entering a completely new defense era. If you have the tools like Stuxnet, why would you bother with missiles? Why bother invading with an army? The whole relationship between the military and society is going to have to be re-thought.”
Without a doubt, it is a new day of warfare. And cybergeddon aside, Stuxnet remains at the forefront, one of the most amazingly sophisticated pieces of malware ever publicly recognized; it always did have promise.
So do we have to worry about world powers attacking each other’s power grids with Stuxnet tools any time soon? Hardly, says Borg. “The last thing China or Russia wants is for our economy to take another dive. No one wants destabilization. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t planted malware programs for possible use at a future date.”
And that’s exactly what was done several decades ago with a promising new people-tracking program intended to stave off war, not start it. That brings us back to this weapon of peace, ever the more important as the Mid-East cracks at the seams. It also brings us back full circle to Beirut last October. Promis aka Stuxnet was at the core of the communications shutdown at command centers in Lebanon that day. This, confirmed by two extremely reliable, unrelated sources.
But Stuxnet only cleared the way in Beirut. The blasting of underground weapons caches that followed were achieved through electromagnetic pulses. The radar that went on the blink? Also electromagnetic pulses. So Stuxnet’s purpose was like clearing obstructive land mines before doing battle.
A Tehran journal a decade ago put it this way, “…today when you disable a country’s military high command through disruption of communications you will, in effect, disrupt all the affairs of that country.” Sounds like wording for a Stuxnet how-to-manual.
Regardless, Stuxnet and EMPs make it exceedingly clear that in any future major war, there may be no images of Patton charging across Europe in tanks, no massive armies forging rivers. The war will be fought below the radar, both literally and figuratively, with a new era of weapons.
As for Stuxnet, the “newest" weapon in that arsenal -- or oldest depending how much you know – right now it could be on its way to a target near you. Jeffrey Carr, author of Inside Cyber Warfare acquiesces that possibility. “No one has a product that would have stopped the Stuxnet worm.”
On that, Carr is undoubtedly correct. Because in one of the greatest whodunits in modern history, I know all the sleuths are looking in the wrong places. Rather than looking at where Stuxnet visited, they should be looking at where it came from, Promis. I just hope that the people that have Stuxnet are reasonable, either that, or they’re our friends.

Balkan transit

In respect to the main heroin problem in Europe, it was depicted that, almost all European heroin originates in Afghanistan, mostly smuggled in through Turkey and the Balkans or via Central Asia and Russia. According to the report, the four top national markets in Europe account for 60% of all European heroin consumption. They are: The UK (21%), Italy (20%), France (11%) and Germany (8%).

The issue is certainly of a long-term nature and what is interesting is the inability of any concrete action by either the national governments or the supranational bodies to deal with it.

The 2007 World Drug Report issued by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes is pointed an alarming new drug alliance between the notorious South American drug lords and the Albanian drug mafia in the Balkans that already controls much of the wholesale network in Europe.

Under section Concerns about cocaine along the Balkan route (p 83):“While most cocaine shipments from South America continue to be directed towards Western Europe… some shipments to East Europe and the Balkan countries have been noticed by enforcement agencies.”

Further back in recent times, while the 2005 UN Drug report identifies Kosovo Albanian organized crime groups responsible for controlling heroin market, the 2007report, additionally, identified them as developers of the new traffic routs through which they augment their heroin trade with South American cocaine:

“This raises concerns about the development of new trafficking routes and/or the incorporation of cocaine into the range of products offered by traditional heroin trafficking groups operating along the Balkan route,” says the report then added that Albanian drug gangs control ports in Romania, in addition to ones in Montenegro (Bar) and Albania (Durres).

“Some cases of cocaine shipments via the Black Sea to Romania and via the Adriatic Sea to Montenegro often organized by Albanian criminal groups have already been observed,” says the report.

Thus the traditional narcotics market structure has evolved further over the previous years and now the smugglers are able to exploit both the main road corridors of the region from East to West and South to North, but also got a hold of the main sea trade import bases and revealed themselves into a greater and global role.

The US State Department International Strategy for Narcotics Control report, released on March 2010, says that the Balkan countries remain major transit points for Afghan heroin, while the war against traffickers is hampered by corruption and weak state institutions. According to the report, Albania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are used by narcotics traffickers to move Afghan heroin from Central Asia to destinations around Western Europe. To a lesser extent Romania and Montenegro are also considered as staging posts for traffickers. Apart from being an important transit country for heroin and cocaine, Bulgaria is also a producer of illicit narcotics, the report says. With its geographic position on Balkan transit routes, Bulgaria is vulnerable to illegal flows of drugs, people, contraband, and money.

The Interpol is quite specific in identifying the real importance of the Balkans in the present day European narcotics market. According to the research of that organization, two primary routes are used to smuggle heroin: the Balkan Route, which runs through southeastern Europe, and the Silk Route, which runs through Central Asia. The anchor point for the Balkan Route is Turkey, which remains a major staging area and transportation route for heroin destined for European markets. The Balkan Route is divided into three sub-routes: the southern route runs through Turkey, Greece, Albania and Italy; the central route runs through Turkey, Bulgaria, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and into either Italy or Austria; and the northern route runs from Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania to Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland or Germany. Large quantities of heroin are destined for either the Netherlands or the United Kingdom.

The magnitude of the organized crime groups in the region can be well illustrated by the recent case of the “Saric network” in Serbia. The organization of Darko Saric, now a fugitive from Serbian justice, has funnelled 1.3 billion euros to Serbia, but may have amassed up to 5 billion, according to the investigators. Saric and his companions laundered the narcotics money through companies in Serbia, Montenegro and “some Western European countries”. Moreover, the powerful crime clan, said to be one of the major cocaine suppliers in Europe, was involved in the attempt to smuggle 2.7 tons of cocaine to Europe in the autumn of 2009 from Latin America. Since the sheer amount of this trafficking attempt is quite substantial, it can be estimated that the nexus between the South American cartels and those in the Balkans are truly becoming stronger and of importance for the world police authorities.

Furthermore, reportages by Bulgarian media have revealed that Bulgarian criminal gangs are among the major cocaine traffickers in South-Eastern Europe. More specifically, a Darik News investigation noted that “Over the past months local drug dealers have abandoned the heroin trade, because of the drug’s high price and the low demand and they switched to cocaine”.

The Bulgarian journalist Nikolay Hristov reported, that in total of five major organizations in the Balkan country have their hands on the cocaine market. Similar findings were said to be found for Greece also, where in Athens 5 well-organized criminal gangs control the local cocaine market with Greeks, Albanians, Bulgarians and Georgians to act as kingpins of such illegal trade.

The perils associated with organized crime activities in the Balkans have long been associated with wider ramifications in other countries due to the penetration of the European crime scene by Balkan groups. For instance about 80% of the Hungarian heroin market is controlled by the so-called Albanian mafia, which then invests its profits from that country by procuring weapons from Italian crime groups.

Therefore the criminal syndicates not only exploit local markets and facilitate the spread of illegal substances, but also assist into funnelling further criminal action on other countries and finally create a wide network of illegal activities that involves a large number of individuals and serious problems for the Authorities in different states that find it hard to either control or even identify the complexity of the situation.

Since the Balkans are one of the main import points and staging grounds for the expansion of organized criminal activities in the EU, a pan-European anti-crime policy is expected to be centred in that region. Moreover the security authorities should be aware of the flexibility and the adaptability of the criminal groups that seek to maximize their returns at any given moment and in many instances they tend to create an illegal market as soon as they realize that a need has to be met by non-legal means.

For example, it is quite likely to expect a shift from the traditional trafficking operations that transfer immigrants from Asia and Africa to Europe, towards an inter-European trafficking movement of illegal immigrants that have been stuck into countries with low or even negative economic growth. The case of Greece is significant, since the country will have a -5% drop in GDP in 2010 and possibly another -4% in 2011. Already there is an exodus of immigrants from the country; nevertheless, the illegal ones from Asia and Africa find it quite hard to move elsewhere due to lack of documents.

It is estimated that approximately 400,000 individuals are in such situation in Greece, who are risking of no employment within the coming months, due to the dramatic drop in the construction business and the recession in the commercial and industrial sectors. If one adds the numbers of illegal immigrants in Spain, Portugal and Italy that face similar concerns; a new illegal market seems to be opening that is almost certain that would be taken advantage of by the same networks that presently deal with trafficking in weapons, narcotics and persons.

The divergence in economic growth in the EU and the rise in unemployment in at least half of the EU member states will inevitably provide to be yet another “golden opportunity” for the Balkan mafia, as the wars of the 90’s were for contraband trade, and the ease in travel in the 00’s for their money-laundering operations and their spectacular global criminal expansion.