Trudeau Liberal Government Hands al-Qaeda and the Islamic State Second Strategic Victory
On the terrorism front, Trudeau Liberal government has handed jihadi forces, particularly al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) their second straight strategic military victory. The first strategic victory was Canada’s unilateral withdraw of its CF-18 fight-bomber aircraft from Iraq because it wanted to concentrate on ‘soft power’ and distancing itself from the US-led Coalition fighting to regain Iraq from ISIS. The second strategic victory handed to al-Qaeda, ISIS and Islamic extremist everywhere was the Trudeau government decision to apologize to al-Qaeda fighter Omar Khadr for his time in captivity at Guantanamo Bay, reported abuse, and awarding him 10.5 million dollars in compensation. The Canadian government in doing so, made it clear that the Islamic extremist were right to fight us and our allies in Afghanistan, and that you could leave Canada as a jihadi and return and be rewarded. Khadr, a member of an infamous Canadian terror family close to the al-Qaeda and Taliban leadership killed an unarmed US medic, Christopher Speer, in a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002, and gravely wounded another soldier. He was taken prisoner by US forces in Afghanistan, under NATO auspices, in a mission mandated by the UN.
On June 29th, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, a 25-year-old US citizen and resident of Columbus, Ohio, had plead guilty to terror-related offenses including, 2014 trip to Syria, where he fought for the al-Qaeda local al-Nusrah Front.
In the United Kingdom, it was released that a total of 5 terror plots have been stopped since the March Westminster ISIS-inspired vehicle stabbing attack of this year. Some 18 terror plots have been foiled by British security services since 2013. As well, since 2014 109 people have been convicted on terrorism related offenses largely related to ISIS, 16 percent of those convicted were women and girls, and 85 percent of those convicted never made it to fight in Syria or Iraq.
The French Interior Minister, Gerard Collomb, revealed during a senate hearing that the security services had found 100 registered gun owners on Islamic Extremist watchlist, two weeks after a ISIS-inspired terrorist Adam Djaziri, 31, rammed his car into a police van on Champs-Elysees. Djaziri, was armed, and legally allowed to possess a firearm, and his vehicle was found laden with explosives.
Belgium police have warned that they are seeking a suspect for membership in a terror group following two arrests in Anderlecht. Belgium is home to ISIS-Franco-phone attack cell.
Austria has suffered its first ISIS-inspired attack after an elderly couple were beaten and stabbed to death by a 54-year-old Tunisian man last week. An 85-year-old woman died after having her throat slit in Linz on Friday, while her 87-year-old husband was stabbed and beaten to death with a stick covered in screws.
In a worrying sign about the changing nature of once secular Turkey, a local government in İstanbul has named a central street after the al-Qaeda's founding leader, Abdullah Azzam.
On a good note, US Special Forces have killed 50 of the Islamic State’s top leaders since President Donald Trump took office. US forces killed 80 ISIS leaders in the last months of the Obama administration. The number of air strikes against ISIS targets under President Trump has nearly doubled from 440 a month in late 2016 to 800. ISIS has deployed dozens of female suicide bombers in the battle for the last remaining areas of Mosul and there are fears in Europe and in North America about the return of widowed ‘ISIS brides.’ As ISIS is in the final stages of defeat in both Raqqa and Mosul it was revealed that ISIS fighters are increasingly Russian-speaking from the Caucus region and are interested in hitting targets in Europe.
On the Asian security front, India is reportedly joining the US and Japan in the Malabar exercises in the Bay of Bengal close to the disputed South China Sea in a sign of a growing alliance to restrain China. The Russian built aircraft carrier and Indian flagship, INS Vikramaditya, will participate in the exercises along with the domestically-built Shivalik-class stealth frigates, two Russian-built Ranvir-class destroyers, the indigenous Kamorta class anti-submarine warfare corvette, a Kora class multi-role corvette, a fleet tanker, Russian-built Kilo-class conventionally powered patrol submarine (SSK0 and US-built Boeing P8-I maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
Indian Naval Forces will be joined by the American carrier USS Nimitz, the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Princeton, and the Aegeis-class destroyers USS Howard, USS Shoup and USS Kidd, and a Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submariner (SSN). Japan is joining in with its helicopter carrier, JS Izumo, and the JS Sazanami, a multi-role destroyer. On a side note, Vietnam has extended an Indian oil concession in the South China Sea and begun drilling in another area disputed by China. India, now in a growing war of words with China over a disputed area in Sikkim in the Himalayas, recently sent warships to monitor the Straits of Malacca, through which most of China and Japan's energy supplies and trade passes.
Pakistan successfully tested on Wednesday its Vengeance IX NASR Short-Range Ballistic Missile (SRBM) capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The NASR is a high-precision weapons system with the ability for quick deployment and a range of 70 kilometers, geared to deliver tactical nuclear weapons on fast moving Indian armored columns poised along its borders with Pakistan.
In Response to North Korea’s successful test-firing of a Hwasong-14 (HS-14) Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), with an estimated range of 8000 kilometers that can hit targets in Alaska, Hawaii, and Northwestern Canada, including British Columbia, the US Army and the Republic of Korea conducted a combined exercise that fired missiles into the territorial waters off South Korea. US UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, has dared both Russia and China to veto further sanctions on North Korea. For their part, Russia and China continued to push their plan for defusing tensions over North Korea, suggesting that the North declare a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests, while the US and South Korea refrain from joint military exercises. North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un vowed Wednesday that his nation will never put its nuclear or long-range missile programs up for negotiation.
Alarmingly, there are five strategic ‘game changers’ in the North Korean missile launch that must be top of mind now to Western political leaders and military planners and regional security partners in Asia, North America, the Middle East, and Europe. First, it is now readily apparent strategically, that China has little or no leverage with the Kim Jong-un regime. Second, it is also strategically relevant to caution that North Korea has now opened itself up to pre-emption, regime change, or both. Third, while the HS-14 ICBM has the range to strike Alaska, Hawaii, the Yukon and British Columbia, it is only a matter of time before North Korea can strike the entirety of the Continental US, and large tracts of Canada. The next generation ICBM missile tracks of an even longer-range missile will bring them down over Canada as they hit the target rich US eastern sea coast. This may force Canadian participation in Missile Defense.
Fourth, the fact that the US is now at-risk places greater questions about the reliability of the US ‘nuclear umbrella’ guarantee to partners in Asia such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Observers will ask in all three countries is the US willing to trade Anchorage, Alaska or Oahu, Hawaii for Seoul or Tokyo in a confrontation with North Korea? It is important to note that the US nuclear deterrent is backstopped by Missile Defense and that the US has a total of 36 missile interceptors in underground silos on military bases in Alaska and California, due to increase to 44 by year's end that can take out a rogue launch of North Korean ICBMs, but there will always be questions. If the degree of questioning among the US Pacific allies leads to doubt of a US nuclear security guarantee, then it is likely that all three may choose to arm themselves with nuclear deterrent forces. Japan could do so almost overnight. But the proliferation process to arm with nuclear weapons will be costly, time sensitive outside of Japan, politically sensitive, and strategically open to pre-emption.
Fifth, if North Korea has an ICMB capability, matched with a nuclear warhead, then Iran is next. The Iranians will just buy the capability from cash-starved North Korea, and they are strategic partners. North Korean and Iran have long-standing defense ties going back to the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). In addition, to the Soviet-era Scud SRBMs Iran procured from Libya and Syria, North Korean missiles like the Nodong were acquired by the Islamic Republic and renamed the Shahab-3 forming the mainstay of Iran’s rocket forces. Thus, there is now a discussion starting in Germany about whether they arm themselves with a nuclear deterrent or the Europeans develop their own nuclear forces. President Trump’s lukewarm approach to NATO and the treaty’s Article V for mutual defense has not helped the situation. Nor has the relative appeasement policy approach of the Obama regime. A nuclear armed Iran means that the proliferation process will be replicated in Europe and potentially in the Middle East as Saudi Arabia is likely forced to arm with nuclear weapons.
Lastly, South Korea sees a high likelihood that North Korea is on the verge of conducting its sixth nuclear test and given the North’s production of tritium it is likely to set off a thermonuclear device.