Leaks and Media Reports Suggest Laptop Ban Linked to Jan. 28 SEAL Raid on Yemen.
Unattributed quotes from “three intelligence sources” link evidence gathered during the U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Yemen on Jan. 28, 2017 with the new ban on electronic devices including laptops in the passenger cabins of some airline flights.
Journalists Jana Winter and Clive Irving have published reports attributing the anonymous media leaks in at least one media outlet, the Daily Beast. It is possible that other media outlets will report on the connection between the events.
Winter and Clive wrote, “Information from the raid shows Al Qaeda’s successful development of compact, battery bombs that fit inside laptops or other devices believed to be strong enough to bring down an aircraft, the sources said.”
Winter and Clive did not name any sources for their report. It is an occasional practice in the intelligence community to intentionally “leak” reports for publication, and then measure public response to the leaks to make decisions about additional, more official media releases.
CNN reported that a Somali passenger jet was damaged by a “sophisticated” laptop bomb that got past X-ray machines at the Mogadishu airport (Somali Police Authority via CNN)
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security officially cited the Oct. 31, 2015 destruction of the Russian MetroJet (Kogalymavia) flight 9268 as a bomb over the Sinai Desert after departing Sharm El Sheikh International Airport, Egypt. Homeland Security officials also named the Djibouti-bound Daallo Airlines flight D3159 damaged on Feb. 2, 2016 as being linked to the reasons for the recent changes in airline security. These incidents likely contributed to the motive for the U.S. Navy SEAL raid in Yemen on Jan. 28, 2017 and this subsequent recent change in airline security.
In the Russian Metrojet attack a laptop bomb was suspected while a bomb carried by a man traveling in a wheelchair damaged the Daallo flight. The Daallo flight bomber detonated his bomb, possibly contained in a laptop, cell phone or his wheelchair, near the starboard wing root of the aircraft. The bomber presumably felt the most structural damage could be done near the wing root, intending to detach the wing in flight. The Daallo Airlines Airbus A321-111 survived the attack and returned to Aden Adde International Airport in Somalia, Mogadishu for an emergency landing.
An additional flight, EgyptAir flight 804 from Paris to Cairo, crashed on May 19, 2016 over the Mediterranean, killing all 66 passengers and crews. Numerous subsequent reports indicated that traces of explosives were found on the bodies of victims from the flight recovered at sea.
Major media outlets like CNN and the BBC have not yet reported on any alleged connection between the U.S raid in Yemen on January 28 and the changes in airline security. Over a month ago David Sanger, writing for The New York Times, reported, “It’s hard to call this [raid] much of a success yet, because we don’t know what the value was of the information they were trying to exploit, which came mostly from computers and cell phones. And from everything we have heard, they haven’t had a chance to assess that yet.” That report was published in the New York Times on February 2. These emerging reports and new airline restrictions may suggest the intelligence gathered in the raid may now have yielded some actionable outcomes.
Top image: Damage from a bomb detonated on board Daallo Airlines Flight 159 Over Somalia on February 2, 2016 (credit: GoobjoNews).
The Israeli Air Force is being delivered the first two 5th Generation stealth jets on Monday. They will help Israel “retain its edge” in the Middle East.
The IAF is expected to take delivery of its first 2 F-35A Lightning II jets at Nevatim airbase, in southern Israel, on Dec. 12.
The aircraft, lacking the Israeli low-visibility roundels (that will be applied once delivered to the “customer”) are flown by U.S. pilots and supported by a U.S. Air Force KC-135 tanker.
On their way to Israel, the 5th generation jets have performed a stopover in Lajes, Azores, where they arrived using radio callsign “Retro 11” and “Retro 12” on Dec. 6, and then in Cameri, Italy, where they have landed on Dec. 8.
F-35A “Adir” 902 landing at Cameri airbase on Dec. 8, 2016.
The two Israeli F-35s, are the first and only of 50 Lightning II jets, designated “Adir” (“Mighty One”) by the Israeli, to be flown from the U.S.: the rest will be shipped by sea according to the IDF (Israeli Defense Force.)
“As the Middle East grows more and more unstable, and as groups that threaten to destroy us race to stockpile weapons, we need to stay a step ahead of the game. The F-35 gives us the edge we need to take on groups and armies with even the most advanced technology,” says the IDF in a blog on the imminent delivery.
The Israeli F-35s will have some domestic modifications and components provided by Israeli companies, including Israel Aerospace Industries that will produce the F-35’s outer wings, Elbit Systems-Cyclone, that will provide center fuselage composite components as well as Elbit Systems Ltd. that will provide Gen. III helmet-mounted display systems to be worn by all Lightning II pilots.
“Once the F-35 lands in Israel, it will be all our own. The IAF is adding its own systems to the jet, bringing a touch of the Start Up Nation to this already state-of-the-art plate. All maintenance and testing of the plane will be done in Israel, and the planes are projected to be operational in about one year.”
The IAF F-35As will be different from the “standard” F-35s, as they will employ national EW (Electronic Warfare) pods, weaponry, C4 systems etc. For this reason, Israeli F-35s are sometimes dubbed F-35I (for Israel.)
Interestingly, the following days, the FBI conducted aerial surveillance in the vicinity of the Dar Al Uloom Al Islamiyah-Amer mosque in San Bernardino.
The activity was conducted by an aircraft registered to PXW Services (a fake company established by the FBI), that loitered for 4 hours near the mosque on Dec. 3. Similar surveillance missions were conducted the next day, including a flight by another FBI aircraft with registration number N404KR.
The mosque was visited regularly by one of the attackers, Sayed Farook, and is approximately 5 miles away from the initial attack site at the Inland Regional Center.
You can view an animation of the surveillance flight (based on FlightRadar24 data) prepared by The Aviationist’s contributor Eric Rosenwald here:
The attack consisted of suicide bombs and mass shootings like the one you can see in the following chilling footage.
The video shows a sustained attack on a restaurant in the 11th district by means of AK-47: according to the Daily Mail, that obtained the recordings of three CCTV cameras inside the pizzeria, at least 30 bullets came into the premises, where terrified diners immediately ran for cover behind counters and under tables.
None of them died during the attack, even though, as you can clearly see in the clip a young woman was quite close to it: she was saved by the assault rifle that either misfired or ran out of ammunition.
When I saw the clip for the very first time, it immediately thought of an interesting article by Brandon Webb, a former Navy SEAL, published by SOFREP in the aftermath of the Colorado shooting in Aurora, back in July 2012.
Among the tips to survive in case of attack by a gunman Webb shared with the “average citizen” I’ve picked those that probably apply to most scenarios (you can read them all here). As you will see, some of them have probably contributed to save the life of the diners in the Paris restaurant.
Don’t Make Yourself an Easy Target
According to the former Special Operator, at public events, cinemas or even at the restaurant (as in the Paris massacre…) you should always opt for seats that give you good and east vantage points and quick exit points. “It’s the reason I still combat park (back in to a space) and sit with my back to the wall when I’m eating,” Webb pointed out.
Active Shooter Scenario Advice
“Take cover and not concealment. Concealment hides, cover hides AND protects. It’s the difference between hiding behind a movie seat or a concrete wall.” Quite obvious, but you may not think to this when bullets are flying above your head. Webb says that it is better to keep the eyes wide open and to act instead of waiting for first responders: they may arrive too late. Furthermore, “a moving target is extremely hard to hit, even for the well-trained shooter.”
Alter Your Lifestyle, and it May Save Your Life
This is quite obvious. You should avoid large crowds that make rewarding targets for all kind of terrorists. In this case the target was a soft-one, almost randomly selected but, generally speaking, you should take some basic precautions. A few more tips to survive a terrorist attack are included in this more recent story written by former Navy SEAL and JSOC operator Clinton Emerson for SOFREP.
Top image credit: screenshot from the Daily Mail video
France strikes back with Rafale and Mirage 2000 jets.
According to the French MoD (Ministry of Defense), a dozen French aircraft conducted air strikes against ISIS targets located in Raqqa, Syria on Nov. 15.
The aircraft, Mirage 2000N and Mirage 2000Ds and Rafales, were launched at 19.50 and 20.25 CET, struck an Islamic State command center and a training camp: about 20 targets even though there are reports of more buildings hit by the French bombs.
Raqqa is an ISIS stronghold. It was reported earlier on Sunday Nov. 15 that the U.S. intelligence has intercepted communications between Raqqa and the terrorists in Paris ahead of the deadly attack on Friday Nov. 13.