German Spy Agency Finds It Hired an Islamic Extremist Mole

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From ABC News:

“On one side of the internet chat was an Islamic extremist who had just got himself a job with Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. On the other side was an agent of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency pretending to be an Islamic extremist.

When the 51-year-old mole, a German who had converted to Islam, offered to use his new job to provide information to “help the brothers” plan an attack against his employer, German law enforcement swooped in.

It appears little harm was done to the intelligence agency, known by its German acronym BfV, Duesseldorf prosecutors said Wednesday.

“So far, there have been no reliable indications that the accused had already given security-relevant information to people from the violent Salafist scene,” prosecutor Ralf Herrenbrueck, whose office is leading the investigation, told The Associated Press in a written response to questions.

The suspect, whose identity has not been released, is now in custody and has partially confessed to investigators, Herrenbrueck said. He told questioners that his goal was to infiltrate the BfV to warn his “brothers in faith” of operations against them.”

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Spurred by Trump and Brexit, EU plans five-billion-euro defense fund

EU foreign policy chief Mogherini talks to reporters during the Black Blade military exercise at Florennes airbase

From Reuters:

“The European Union unveiled its biggest defense funding and research plan in more than a decade on Wednesday to reverse billions in cuts and send a message to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that it wants to pay for its own security.

Part of a broader push to revitalize defense cooperation, the European Commission proposed a 5 billion-euro ($5.3 billion) fund to let governments club together to buy new helicopters and planes to lower costs.

Another plan to let the EU’s common budget and its development bank invest in military research would open the door to new drones, cyber warfare systems and other hi-tech gear, EU officials said.”

UN Further Tightens North Korea Sanctions

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From ABC News:

“The U.N. Security Council voted Wednesday to further tighten sanctions on North Korea following months of diplomatic wrangling over how best to respond to North Korea’s latest nuclear test in September and their repeated defiance of international sanctions and diplomatic pressure.

The council unanimously approved the sanctions resolution with diplomats hailing it as a major step forward in its efforts to get the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

“In March, this council passed what were then the toughest sanctions to date on the DPRK. But the DPRK remained as determined as ever to continue advancing its nuclear technology. The DPRK found ways to continue diverting revenue from exports to fund its research, it tried to cover up its business dealings abroad, and it looked for openings to smuggle illicit materials by land, sea, and air. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said following the vote. “Today’s resolution systematically goes after each of these illicit schemes.”

Kremlin asks Turkey to explain Erdogan’s remark about toppling Assad

A Turkish army tank drives towards to the border in Karkamis on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Gaziantep province

From Reuters:

“The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s statement that his forces in Syria were there to topple President Bashar al-Assad had come as a surprise to Moscow and that it expected an explanation from Ankara.

In a speech on Tuesday, Erdogan condemned what he said was the failure of the United Nations in Syria and cast Turkey’s incursion in August, when it sent tanks, fighter jets and special forces over the border, as an act of exasperation.

“We are there to bring justice. We are there to end the rule of the cruel Assad, who has been spreading state terror,” Erdogan said.

“The announcement really came as news to us,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

“It is a very serious statement and one which differs from previous ones and with our understanding of the situation. We hope that our Turkish partners will provide us with some kind of explanation about this.”

North Carolina man pleads guilty to conspiring with Islamic State recruiter

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From the Long War Journal:

“Justin Nojan Sullivan, a 20-year-old man from Morganton, North Carolina, pleaded guilty to terrorism charges today after admitting that he had conspired online with Junaid Hussain, who was one of the Islamic State’s key digital operatives.

Hussain was killed in an American airstrike in Raqqa, Syria on Aug. 24, 2015. But his virtual fingerprints continue to be uncovered, as Hussain has been tied to a number of Islamic State supporters in both the US and UK.”

Philippines ends five-day siege against rebels pledged to Islamic State

Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte gestures a clenched fist as he visit soldiers in Butig, Lanao del Sur, southern Philippines

From Reuters:

“Troops in the southern Philippines retook a disused building from Muslim militants on Wednesday, ending an intense five-day siege that killed dozens of fighters the authorities say had pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

The incident highlights the challenges facing President Rodrigo Duterte in keeping order in the Philippines, particularly in his native south, riven by nationalist rebellions for decades.

The military stepped up its offensive after the weekend, pounding rebels holed up in a disused municipal hall with artillery and bombs dropped from aircraft. The army said 30 security forces were wounded and 61 rebels killed in the operation.

The militants belonged to the Maute group, one of several Islamist groups in the country’s restive south.”

Sunni tribesmen battling Islamic State demand federalism in Iraq

Members of the Lions of the Tigris and part of the Hashid Shaabi take part during a military operation against Islamic State militants in Shayyalah al-Imam

From Reuters:

“As mortar bombs landed ever closer, Sunni tribal fighters preparing to attack Islamic State seemed more preoccupied by the failures of Iraq’s political class than the militants trying to kill them.

The men – and one woman – from the Lions of the Tigris unit gathered on Wednesday in Shayyalah al-Imam, a village near Mosul, with some of their leaders expressing deep distrust of the politicians and saying Iraq’s governance must change once Islamic State is defeated.

“Iraq needs serious reforms,” said Sheikh Mohammed al-Jibouri, the top commander of the tribesmen. “Only serious reforms will lead to the unity of Iraq.”

The unit is part of the Popular Mobilisation Committee, or Hashid Shaabi, which was formed to take on Islamic State after the hardline Sunni group swept through northern Iraq in 2014, facing little resistance from the army.

Hashid Shaabi is mostly comprised of Shi’ites but there are also Sunnis, such as the 655-strong Lions of the Tigris unit.”

The caribou population in Alaska’s arctic region has dipped by 50 per cent — and no one knows why

Migrating bull caribou in autumn tundra

From the Ottawa Citizen:

“JUNEAU, Alaska — The size of a large caribou herd in Alaska’s Arctic region has dropped by more 50 per cent over the last three years, and researchers who have tentatively ruled out hunting and predation as significant factors for the decline are trying to determine why.

The state’s Central Arctic herd, which roams an area of north-central Alaska about the size of Ohio, hit a peak of about 70,000 caribou in 2010.

It fell to 50,000 in 2013. That year, spring arrived late, meaning caribou had to trudge through snow later than usual at a time when their bodies are already stressed and not getting the grasses they need for nutrition.

Surveys by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game suggest the herd dwindled to about 22,000 caribou this year. There has been a higher than normal rate of death among adult female caribou tracked with radio collars but the reason for that is unclear, said state wildlife biologist Beth Lenart.”

Arctic sea-ice struggles to build volume

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From the BBC:

“There is likely to be about 10,500 cu km of Arctic sea-ice by the end of the week – a volume that would tie for the lowest on record for a November.

It is another indicator of just how warm conditions in the polar north have been of late.

Temperatures of -5C have been logged when -25C would be the norm.

Ice extent – the two-dimensional measure of frozen ocean surface – is also well down, running currently at just over 9.4 million sq km.

Ordinarily, it would be at least a million sq km higher.

The latest volume assessment comes from the Earth-orbiting Cryosat mission.”

AN INDIA-PAKISTAN CRISIS: SHOULD WE CARE?

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From War on the Rocks:

“The Donald Trump White House will have a fairly crowded foreign policy roster to deal with. From what has been said of the president-elect’s agenda for his initial months in office, Russia, the threat of ISIL and the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, tensions in the South China sea, and his promises to renegotiate or abandon certain international trade pacts are likely to be his top priorities.  South Asia does not seem to have made this list. And yet, the region presents some of the gravest threats to global security. Islamist terrorists and the conflict in Afghanistan remain huge challenges. But even greater is the danger posed by the threat of nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

The world has recently been reminded of just how tenuous the India-Pakistan relationship remains.  Bilateral tensions have been alarmingly high since a September 18 terrorist attack in Uri in the disputed territory of Kashmir killed 19 Indian soldiers. India blamed Pakistan, and responded by using military force inside Pakistan-controlled territory. Since that incident, both sides have continued to exchange fire across the Line of Control that divides Indian and Pakistani Kashmir, resulting in significant military and civilian casualties. The situation flared up significantly last week after India claimed that Pakistani commandos had killed three Indian soldiers. Days earlier, Pakistan reported that it had lost seven soldiers to Indian firing in one night.

India and Pakistan are the only regional nuclear states in the world to be locked in an acutely crisis-prone relationship. Heightened crises offer terrorists the most realistic opportunities to breach Pakistani and Indian nuclear security protocols and gain access to their arsenals. Further, experts predict that an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange could “blot out the sun, starving much of the human race.”.  It could be the end of the world as we know it.”