The Islamic State’s Own Photos Were Just Used to Find It
A group of mass-funded citizen journalists seem to have located a training camp for the militant group ISIL using only online mapping services and some old-fashioned detective work. Bellingcat, which raised almost 85,000 USD to do its own unique form of journalism, was founded by Eliot Higgins, who became famous for proving Syria was using chemical weapons from his bedroom in Leicester, England, using only images and videos available online. His team includes a mix of bloggers, research analysts, and traditional reporters.
Bellingcat has explained in detail how it found the exact location of a training camp. First, using stills from videos showing the graduation of an ISIL class earlier this year, the team identified a large river and several bridges in the background, which it identified as the Tigris in Mosul, Iraq, the city that ISIL took in June and have been wreaking havoc in since. The group used Google Earth to make the identification.
To identify exactly which building, Bellingcat used Flash Earth, a more up-to-date service that uses Microsoft’s Bing Maps to see where along the river the building is. “In the entire area there’s only one possible location that matches, on the north side of the river, with the camera pointing south,” the team said. “It also appears the martial arts lessons were photographed in the same area, with the bridge running over the road visible, and the trees on the right.”
The team also used Panoramio, a service that takes the location metadata on photographs and puts them on a Google Map. Using a single photo, Bellingcat noticed that the Arabic writing on a bridge in the corner of the picture, as well as the placement of the street lights.
It also used old photos on Google Maps against the Panoramio pictures to determine that the buildings the jihadists are marching in front of are new, and that they must have marched 2.9 km (1.8 miles).
Police departments use technology for patrols, community
Police departments use state grants to cover the cost of new purchases of online programs, mobile apps and new gadgets to track crime, as well as to create a closer connection with the community. Another benefit: officers can perform their jobs more efficiently and with less human error, according to officials. This benefits both the departments and residents.
The Goodyear Police Department launched Regional Analysis Information Data Sharing, RAIDS, to help identify crime trends in specific neighborhoods. The program went live on July 14. RAIDS allows officers to track and analyze crime trends in their community as well as surrounding areas. Residents can subscribe to the program and receive crime alters from the department or send an anonymous tip about a crime in the area, thereby staying informed continuously about their own neighborhood. Community members can snap a photo of the problem, upload it to the app and send it to the police.
The app also allows users to connect with a specific city department or city official. “It helps our officers see what the community sees on neighboring cities’ RAIDS maps,” Lisa Kutis, a spokeswoman for the department, told The Republic.
The department began using mobile fingerprint devices last January. If officers need to fingerprint a suspect, they can use the machine on-scene instead of bringing the person back to the department. The machine requires a print from the index finger of each hand to positively identify an individual. “It takes just about a minute or so to find out if they are wanted in the state of Arizona,” said Amanda Jacinto, a spokeswoman for the department. “Also our detectives are able to use these on a crime scene if there is an unidentified victim.”
In Surprise, the police officers have worn Taser and Axon body cameras since August 2013. All patrol officers and school-resource officers have been issued an Axon camera and all patrol sergeants use a Taser body camera while responding to investigations, traffic enforcement and contact with the community.
The Axon camera can be worn at chest level and includes a built-in battery. “The videos captured have been a useful tool for officers to use when going to court reference a traffic or criminal offense,” a Surprise police officer said.
Hamas dictated all the moves throughout Protective Edge, including what time the ceasefire takes effect. Hamas also fired the last shot.
Israel’s intelligence failed big time when it comes to the magnitude of the threat posed by Hamas attack tunnels and Hamas artillery capabilities.
Israel’s defense community failed in terms of its preparations against the attack tunnels. Years of neglect exploded in our faces when the first terrorist emerged from them.
Just as no effort was made to handle the threat of tunnels, they did not realize the immense danger posed by simple weapons, namely the mortar shells. No precaution was taken, and this claimed Israeli lives.
Israel’s cabinet, which was supposed to be the body steering the campaign, turned out to be a bunch of loudmouthed ministers whom the minister of defense and the prime minister took very little consideration of.
A few ministers, as well as the IDF’s chief of staff, made unfounded claims, and this undermined what little confidence the public still had in the so-called leadership.
These strange phrases, “quiet shall be answered by quiet”, “arrangement” or “vanquish”, were born in the cabinet room in the minds of those who lack the guts to go all the way.
The cabinet, to be exact the prime minister and the minister of defense, did not realize what had happened, and probably still do not: the inability of the IDF, curtailed by the government, to defeat a terrorist organization, attests to what is going to happen in Hezbollah-governed Lebanon, and in the very near future, what will happen in the regions ISIS, this extremist organization, will conquer.
The concern in Israel of “what will the world say” paralyzed the cabinet. The ministers fail to realize that any decision by the UN Security Council, the Council of Europe or what is referred to as an international investigative committee, in fact have any real value. The issue is discussed for two days and then it languishes in dusty archives.
The people living along the border with Gaza, all excellent men and women with rare motivation, have lost their confidence in the government. They have been abandoned for 14 years, and they just realized that even now, having been forced to evacuate from their own homes, no one is thinking about them. Israel’s IDF, under the country’s failed leadership, did not succeed in preventing communities from being evacuated. What will happen if tomorrow, the Hezbollah will begin firing rockets? Where will the residents of Tel Aviv be evacuated to?
In summation, 50 days of fighting that cost numerous human lives and injured many more, did prove the IDF is a strong, determined army, albeit with a feeble leadership that tied its hands. This is what we call a disgrace.
Start preparing for the next round.
Amazon Expands Its Cloud Services to the U.S. Military
Amazon Web Services has become the first commercial cloud provider authorized to handle the Defense Department’s most sensitive unclassified data.
Today’s announcement that AWS has achieved a provisional authority to operate under DOD’s cloud security model is a major win for the company, as it allows DOD customers to provision commercial cloud services for the largest chunks of their data. In layman’s terms, AWS is the first company with the ability to take any and all of DOD’s unclassified data to the cloud.
Teresa Carlson, vice president for AWS’ worldwide public sector, told Nextgov: “I think it highlights our continued commitment to being a leader in cloud computing. This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for DOD to do what other groups have been doing.”
Indeed, AWS recently launched a private cloud for the Central Intelligence Agency to service the intelligence community, and other cloud providers have been busy picking up new business in the civilian government where billions of dollars are up for grabs.
AWS was one of the first cloud providers to meet the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), the government’s baseline security standards for cloud computing. The company was also one of three firms to meet DISA’s (Defense Information Security Agency) cloud security requirements at impact levels 1-2, which govern the agency’s least sensitive data. DISA’s cloud security model includes many additional requirements on top of what is required by FedRAMP.
Yet, civilian agencies that do not grapple with as many data sensitivity issues as DOD, have been pulling off sometimes large-scale cloud efforts while DOD lagged behind in its efforts.
Social media grappling with problems posed by terrorists-supporting contents
Terrorist organizations have adopted social media as a tool for spreading propaganda and recruiting new members. Social media allow terrorist groups to interact with an audience and spread their message to a broader base. Legal scholars warn that as social media networks become the modern space for public discourse, they must be careful about publishing certain content because they could come under legal scrutiny for materially supporting terrorist organizations.
The recent video showing American photojournalist James Foley beheaded by a member of the Islamic State underscore how social media Web sites are in the crossfire between granting freedom of expression and facilitating terrorist propaganda, according to Homeland Security Wire.
The four-minute, forty-second video of Foley has been shared and viewed by millions of online viewers, and while counterterrorism officials have reached out to social media networks asking them to censor the video, a quick search on Google will offer multiple sites where the video can be viewed in full. “YouTube has clear policies that prohibit content like gratuitous violence, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts,” a YouTube spokesperson said.
Even when accounts are shut down, terror groups quickly repost their content onto other social media networks. The Los Angeles Times reports that Facebook has ordered its teams around the world to remove certain posts relating to Foley’s beheading, but in some cases, such as when a user posts a condemnation of the beheading alongside an edited version of the video that omits the beheading, Facebook has allowed the posts to remain.
iHLS worldwide - Keeping You In the Loop
- The Pentagon has begun planning for air strikes to attack ISIS targets in Syria using both manned and unmanned aircraft. The US will first gather intelligence using reconnaissance flights.
- Liberia has sealed off a whole slum in the capital city of Monrovia, in an effort to contain Ebola, which has also spread to Congo with two dead.
- A US Consumers Report says 62 percent of Americans do nothing to protect their online privacy, which makes it easy for hackers to steal personal information.
- Does ISIS have drones? CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen says that a video releases by ISIS, for the first time showed surveillance footage shot by a, showing an aerial view of military airbase # 93 near Raqqa, with the caption: “from the of the army of the Islamic state”.
- Twice in the last week Egypt and the Emirates have secretly launched air strikes against Islamic militia targets in Tripoli, Libya, reports the New York Times. Egypt’s President Al-Sisi denied the report, saying no Egyptian aircraft participated in military action inside Libya.
- China develops Windows and Android killer: China is once again taking a nationalist stance on technology, this time, with its own PC and mobile operating system. The goal: decrease China’s reliance on U.S. software companies.
iHLS TV - Chinese hackers, China earthquake, Missouri police, car safety, Yankee Stadium metal detectors
Articles and issues discussed in this week’s report:
Chinese hacker indicted
Flying cameras assist first responders in latest China earthquake
Missouri police militarization
Car safety: collision prevention system available by 2020
Yankee Stadium to begin operating metal detectors
Israeli-made UAV over Iran
Drones originally produced in Israel are currently in operational use by many countries. This is the best explanation to what the Iranians called yesterday “shooting down an Israeli spy-”.
Iranian TV featured the, or alleged debris thereof, along with the claims that the – probably an Elbit Hermes-450 – conducted ‘an Israeli spying mission’ over one of Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The Iranians publish a great deal of news that have no truth or logic to them, and this is yet another example.
The Hermeswas not designed for long flights such as the distance between Israel and Iran. This is a tactical which is currently highly active in the sky over Gaza. According to experts, this cannot make a round trip from Israel to Iran and back. It can only cover the distance to Iran – and even this with a relatively light dedicated payload, which limits its performance.
So what could serve as a plausible explanation?
According to various sources in the foreign press, Elbit Hermes-450 systems have been sold to numerous countries, one of which is Azerbaijan, which is not the only country concerned over the goings on across the border with Iran, so it is very likely that Azerbaijan launched theon a reconnaissance mission.
Georgia also has Israeli-mades, some of which the Russians shot down during the recent war between the two countries.
If any concerned nation in the region launched the, it most likely came from Azerbaijan. It might also be that a third country launched the from another country.
Another puzzle: the nuclear facilities in Natanz are all underground, sos flying overhead can produce very little intelligence about them, if any.
Another issue: at such a long range, thecannot transmit back to Israel – unless using an aerial relay station.
So it would seem this was indeed a Hermes-450, which was made in Israel, but whence it came and who launched it? These questions remain open.
Fast Draw - Mortar Shells from Gaza
Mortar shell have become a nightmare for Israeli communities along the border with Gaza. Israel neither prepared for this eventuality nor took it into account. Nevertheless, this problem can be resolved within a matter of a few days. All it takes is a courageous decision by the government.
Without such a decision, Israeli communities will remain abandoned for quite some time.
Given that a country cannot allow its citizens to become refugees in their own land, the following solution must be adopted until some technological solution can be applied.
The mortar shells fired at Israel from Gaza have a range of approximately 7 kilometers.
So what do you do? Talk to any medium-level artillery officer, any they will tell you: you level the entire sector where the mortar shell are fired from. What do you mean level? You instruct the local population to vacate their premises and you level the ground where elevation allows firing from.
It will take a few days but it will enable Israel to avoid the national humiliation of whole communities abandoned in 2014.
Have you ever heard about carpet bombing?
Well, this is hardly new, it was widely practiced during the Vietnam War.
Originally, carpet bombing was done by a large number of jets which returned to bomb the same targets repeatedly. Nowadays, dense artillery fire like the one the IDF’s MLRS artillery can produce should suffice.
As I’ve said, all it takes is the decision to do so. Israelis are being evacuated from their own homes, so let’s have a little out of the box thinking and let us not heed all sorts of international organizations like the UN, that ridiculous body.
MANPADS, an imminent threat
Man portable air defense systems (MANPADS) were transferred from Syria to some terror groups, thereby posing an immediate threat to civil and military aircraft in many countries.
Israeli sources say that the shoulder launched missiles that have been taken by terror groups in Syria are very advanced and pose high risk to civil and military aircraft.
According to a recent report some “armed groups” in Syria have laid their hands on an unknown number of man portable air defense systems (MANPADS)
The Report by the Swiss Small Arms Survey research group was released just hours after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a notice to US airlines banning all flights in Syrian airspace.
The FAA said armed extremists in Syria are “known to be equipped with a variety of anti-aircraft weapons which have the capability to threaten civilian aircraft”.
The FAA had previously warned against flights over Syria, but had not prohibited them until now.
Yiftah Shapir, head of the Middle East Military Balance Project at the Israel-based Institute for national security studies (INSS), said that according to his information, the MANPDS in the hands of the terrorist groups in Syria that may have smuggled some of them out of the war torn country, are Russian and Chinese made.
Shapir said that the systems are probably the IGLA S (SA-24) Russian made system and the QW-1 Chinese made system.
“These families of shoulder launched missiles are very dangerous, mainly because they are immune against many of the countermeasures that are being operated today”
The researcher said that there are some variants of the two systems and they are a big danger to both civil and military aircraft.
Israeli Air force (IAF) aircraft operating in the zones near Syria and Lebanon are operating countermeasures in every mission.