The Next 24 to 48 Hours Could See a Surge in Violence by Islamic Extremists against Western targets
The Next 24 to 48 Hours Could See a Surge in Violence by Islamic Extremists against Western targets and North Korean Provocations
The next 24 to 48 hours could see an increase in activity by Islamic extremists against Western targets. The Islamic State (ISIS) tends to carry out the bulk of its attacks on Mondays and Saturdays. On this day in 1988, the cruiser USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian jetliner killing 290. Tomorrow is the US National holiday the 4th of July. The 4th of July is the anniversary of the Battle of Hattin in 1187, when the Ayyubid sultan Salah ad-Din, known also as Saladin annihilated a European crusader army at the Battle of the Horns of Hattin. US Homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, warned on Sunday that Americans should be concerned ahead of July 4th celebrations as officials are seeing a "growing (terror) threat environment across the globe. We’ve got a jihadi globalist movement that we can’t predict, and we’re seeing it manifest itself in ways that are extremely daunting to law enforcement authorities."
As the ISIS faces battlefield defeat in Raqqa and Mosul, and its leadership decimated, there is a concern that this could lead to reconciliation with al-Qaeda. First Russia, and now Iran, have said that ISIS supreme leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is dead. In what maybe a new tactic, some 30-40 ISIS fighters launched a counter attack disguised as Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in the al-Sinaa and al-Mashlab neighborhoods of Raqqa.
An ISIS suicide car bomber set off an explosion in Tahrir Square in downtown Damascus on Sunday, killing at least 20 people and injuring dozens of others. Two other vehicles were intercepted before they could carry out their attacks. The tactic of sending several vehicles after a target to overwhelm defenses while not entirely new, is different than the norm. ISIS has carried out suicide attacks with vehicles and people on an industrial scale.
The Syrian government forces in the southern part of the country on Sunday in the Daraa, Quneitra and As-Suwayda Provinces declared a ceasefire until Thursday but it is not known if the bombing in Syria’s capital will affect the temporary halt in fighting.
Al Muhajirun, a media organization linked to al-Qaeda has released a video highlighting the degradation of Western society. The video, entitled “Fitra – The West – Behind the Mask”, details the Islamic idea of “fitra” or “the human instinct” and features European fighters and attacks European/Western society.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said he hoped the G-5 West African regional force would be operational within weeks to work with French and UN missions in the region to combat militants and criminals. Speaking in Mali after a summit of Heads of State from Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger, Macron pledged combat support and money for the West African force. It was reported that an al-Qaeda-linked group in Mali has released a ‘proof-of-life’ video showing six foreign hostages demonstrating their resolve to fight the new force.
A French right-wing extremist has been charged with a plot to assassinate President Macron.
The US military has carried out a drone strike in Somalia on Sunday against al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab militants.
Four Arab states, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, agreed to extend until late on Tuesday a deadline for Doha to comply with the list of demands. The four states have raised the possibility of further sanctions against Qatar if it fails to comply with the 13 ultimatums presented to Doha through Kuwait. The US has urged calm on all sides and essentially said the demands are not reasonable and not easily met, including that Turkey withdraw its “peacekeeping forces.”
As the terror threat grows globally, Greek coast guard boats reportedly fired shots at a Turkish freighter in the Aegean Sea on Monday near Rhodes. This has followed a worsening of relations in the aftermath of Turkey’s coup between Turkey and almost all of its NATO allies, including Greece its historic adversary. The slide in NATO and EU relations with Turkey is raising questions about how long the Turkish government will remain in both organizations threatening the NATO southern flank with Russia.
The military stand-off between China and India over a small isolated part of the Himalayan mountains in Sikkim continues as Beijing confirmed it has closed the Nathu La pass, a route for Indian pilgrims to visit Tibet’s Mount Kailash and Lake Manosawar, both sacred to Hindus and Buddhists. China’s building of a road in the Donglang area, also known as Doka La, has apparently sparked the biggest military stand-off between the two nuclear-armed countries in years. China is demanding the immediate military withdrawal of Indian forces in the disputed region.
India, for its part, successfully test-fired its indigenously developed quick reaction surface-to-air short-range missile. The missile with a strike range of 25 to 30 kilometers was test-fired at about 11:25 a.m. local time from a truck-mounted canister launcher from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha.
Sadly, it was reported that the leaders of Afghanistan’s three major ethnic minority political parties, all of whom hold senior positions in the Ghani government, announced from Turkey Saturday that they have broken with the Ghani regime and formed a coalition to save Afghanistan. The new Coalition has issued a series of demands for reforms by President Ashraf Ghani, and vowed mass protests unless they are met.
For the second time since President Trump took office, a US Navy warship has been sent to sail near a disputed island claimed by China in the South China Sea to exercise freedom of navigation. The USS Stethem, an Aegis-class destroyer based in Japan, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island, which is part of the Paracel Islands located in the South China Sea between China and Vietnam. The USS Stethem was followed by a Chinese warship and aircraft.
New imagery shows that China is continuing its construction of military and dual-use facilities on the Spratly Islands. New missile shelters, radar/communications facilities, and other infrastructure are being built on Fiery Cross, Mischief, and Subi Reefs. In February, it was revealed that China had constructed eight hardened shelters with retractable roofs at each of the Big Three to house missile launchers. China has now reportedly built four additional shelters at Fiery Cross its Spratly Island strongpoint. China is installing a very large antennae array on the southern side of Mischief Reef that is of concern to the Philippines given its proximity to Palawan, Reed Bank, and Second Thomas Shoal. As well, a large radome was recently installed on a building in the Southern part of Fiery Cross that is either a sizeable communications or radar system. An identical building is reportedly under construction at the northern end of Fiery Cross, along with two more at Mischief Reef. Another, smaller radome has been deployed on a tower near the shelters on Mischief Reef, indicating that they are likely radars for missile systems. Construction is also underway on very large underground structures, four at each reef, in addition to facilities that store water and fuel, likely for munitions. This indicates that while the rest of the region is pushing for diplomatic talks on disputed regions in the South China Sea that China is fortifying its possessions meaning it is not leaving. China has claimed the South China Sea and the islands and reefs in it as China’s in a position that was not accepted by the World Court.
Meanwhile, a Chinese carrier battle group built around the aircraft carrier Liaoning, has entered the Taiwan Strait on route to Hong Kong. The battle group includes the destroyers Jinan and Yinchuan and the frigate Yantai and likely a Chinese attack submarine. China is expected to protest to President Trump both the passage of the USS Stethem, recent sanctions, and the arms sales recently announced to Taiwan.
China’s fifth generation J-20 stealth fighter aircraft is expected to fly to Hong Kong to join the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the city’s handover to China.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with his Chinese counter-part praising Chinese-Russian relations and voicing their joint opposition to the US South Korean deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile defense system. While the THAAD deployment was focused on the North Korean threat, both counties are concerned that the US deployment with its complex sensors could increase the effectiveness of the US missile defense shield over North America, as well as its Pacific allies, rendering the Russian and Chinese nuclear deterrents less effective.
There are concerns that North Korea recently stung by new US sanctions will carry out a series of provocations around July 4th including missile launches and potentially the long-awaited nuclear test. US President Donald Trump was scheduled to speak by telephone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, on Sunday evening in talks that were likely be centered around North Korea’s nuclear program. North Korea recently carried out a test of a rocket engine but it is not known if it was an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) engine. It was revealed that the mid-May, a North Korean Hwasong-12 Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) lofted to an altitude five times higher than the International Space Station. The principle is that the higher a rocket can travel, the further it can reach. The May 14th launch of the Hwasong-12 IRBM splashed down 787 kilometers from its east coast the launch site, but reached an altitude of 2,111.5 kilometers. Had the Hwasong-12 been fired at a normal trajectory it would have flown more than an estimated 4,800 kilometers, meaning North Korea is close to ICBM capability. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) annual report, North Korea could possess up to 20 nuclear warheads, double the number believed last year.