NEWSWATCH [Symantec 10.20.17]: “Dragonfly: Western energy sector targeted by sophisticated attack group; Resurgence in energy sector attacks, with the potential for sabotage, linked to re-emergence of Dragonfly cyber espionage group.” – SCW RUSSIA WIRE

File Photo of Electrical Power Lines in Countryside with Sunset in Background, adapted from image at energy.gov

“The energy sector in Europe and North America is being targeted by a … wave of cyber attacks that could provide attackers with the means to severely disrupt affected operations. The group behind these attacks is known as Dragonfly. … in operation since at least 2011 … [they have] re-emerged over the past two years from a quiet period following exposure by Symantec and a number of other researchers in 2014. … ‘Dragonfly 2.0’ campaign … appears to have begun in late 2015 [and] shares tactics and tools used in earlier campaigns …. disruptions to Ukraine’s power system in 2015 and 2016 were attributed to a cyber attack …. there have also been media reports of attempted attacks on the electricity grids in some European countries, as well as reports of companies that manage nuclear facilities in the U.S. being compromised by hackers. The Dragonfly group appears to be interested in … learning how energy facilities operate and … gaining access to operational systems themselves … the group now potentially has the ability to sabotage or gain control of these systems should it decide to do so. …”

Click here for: “Dragonfly: Western energy sector targeted by sophisticated attack group Resurgence in energy sector attacks, with the potential for sabotage, linked to re-emergence of Dragonfly cyber espionage group.” – Symantec 10.20.17







NEWSWATCH: “In a first, U.S. blames Russia for cyber attacks on energy grid” – Reuters – SCW RUSSIA WIRE

File Image of Stylized Eye Surrounded by Binary Code, adapted from image at ornl.gov

“The Trump administration … blamed the Russian government for … cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid … the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure. … Russian government hackers sought to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing …. a ‘multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors’ had targeted the networks of small commercial facilities ‘where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks.’  * * *  … Thursday’s alert provided a link to an analysis by … Symantec last fall that said a group it had dubbed Dragonfly had targeted energy companies in the United States and Europe and in some cases broke into the core systems that control the companies’ operations. …”

Click here for: “In a first, U.S. blames Russia for cyber attacks on energy grid” – Reuters







SCW RUSSIA WIRE NEWSWATCH: “Britain says former Russian spy poisoned with nerve agent” – Reuters/Toby Melville, Estelle Shirbon, Kate Kelland, Guy Faulconbridge, Michael Holden, Gareth Jones

“A nerve agent was used to deliberately poison a former Russian double agent and his daughter, Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer said …. Sergei Skripal, once a colonel in Russia’s GRU military intelligence service, and his 33-year-old daughter, Yulia, were found slumped unconscious on a bench … in the southern English city of Salisbury … Both remain critically ill and a police officer who attended the scene is also in a serious condition in hospital. * * * … a U.S. security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the main line of police inquiry was that Russians may have used the substance against Skripal in revenge …. Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to British intelligence before his arrest by Russian authorities in 2004. … given refuge in Britain after being exchanged for Russian spies caught in the West as part of a Cold War-style spy swap ….”

Click here for: “Britain says former Russian spy poisoned with nerve agent” – Reuters/Toby Melville, Estelle Shirbon, Kate Kelland, Guy Faulconbridge, Michael Holden, Gareth Jones







NEWSLINK: “ISIL: Target Russia; Thousands of ISIL fighters are training in the mountains of Afghanistan, plotting an attack on the Kremlin” – Al Jazeera

Afghanistan and Environs Ethnic Map

“Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) have always considered ‘the West’ – and the United States in particular – the ultimate enemy. But following President Vladimir Putin’s policy of military involvement in Syria, Russiamay have taken its place as ISIL’s main target. Thousands of ISIL fighters from Syria, Iraq and elsewhere are regrouping in the virtually impregnable mountains of Afghanistan, plotting revenge against the Kremlin. …”

Click here for “ISIL: Target Russia; Thousands of ISIL fighters are training in the mountains of Afghanistan, plotting an attack on the Kremlin” – Al Jazeera





NEWSLINK: “U.S. general in #Afghanistan says there is no doubt #Russia is providing weapons to #Taliban” – Telegraph

Afghanistan and Environs Ethnic Map

“America’s top general in #Afghanistan has said there was no doubt that #Russia was providing weapons to the #Taliban. In the strongest statement yet over Russia’s apparent re-engagement in the Afghanistan war, Gen. John #Nicholson said he would “not refute” that #Moscow’s involvement included giving weapons to the Taliban.
He was speaking in Kabul alongside James #Mattis, the US defence secretary, who said that America needed to confront Russia over its actions in Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union fought and lost a bloody war in the 1980s.

NEWSLINK: “#Beslan school siege: #Russia ‘failed’ in 2004 massacre” – BBC 4.13.17

Russian Map and Flag

“The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that #Russia failed to protect the hostages of the #Beslan school siege in which about 330 people died in 2004. … Chechen rebels took more than 1,000 hostages, mostly children. The operation by Russian forces to end it used disproportionate force, the court added. It also said that officials knew an attack was imminent but did not act. … Witnesses described the operation by Russian security forces as chaotic, saying that the troops used excessive force and heavy weapons. … the court said Russia had sufficient specific information that an attack was being planned in that area, but did not act. It criticised the authorities for being unable to prevent the militants from meeting and travelling on the day of the attack, and failing to increase security at the school or warn the public of the threat. …”

NEWSLINK: “Palm Sunday attacks: 44 dead, more than 100 injured in church bombings carried out by ISIL in Egypt” – Fox News

Egypt Map, adapted from image at export.gov

“… at least 44 people were killed and more than 100 more were injured in two Palm Sunday suicide attacks at Coptic Christian churches, each carried out by the ISIS terror group. Sunday’s first blast happened at St. George Church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, where at least 27 people were killed and 78 others wounded, officials said.
Television footage showed the inside of the church, where a large number of people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers. A second explosion – which Egypt’s Interior Ministry says was caused by a suicide bomber who tried to storm St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria — left at least 17 dead, and 48 injured. The attack came just after Pope Tawadros II — leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria — finished services, but aides told local media that he was unharmed. …”

NEWSWATCH: “Exiled #Kremlin Critic Killed In Kyiv In Brazen Daylight Shooting” – RFE/RL

Map of Ukraine and Environs, Including Russia

“A former #Russian lawmaker who defected to #Ukraine and aired damning criticism of #Russia’s leadership has been gunned down in broad daylight in the heart of Kyiv in what Ukraine’s president called ‘An act of state #terrorism by Russia.’ … ex-#Duma Deputy Denis #Voronenkov was killed by a gunman as he and his bodyguard were approaching the five-star Premier Palace Hotel …. the attacker fired at least eight shots at the 45-year-old Voronenkov with an ‘old Soviet pistol.’ … caught on security cameras.  The attacker was shot in the ensuing gunbattle with Voronenkov’s lone bodyguard and apprehended by police on the street nearby. He later died in hospital … there was initially no word on his identity. … the bodyguard, who was wounded in the exchange of gunfire … was provided by Ukrainian authorities in the past month because there was ‘reason to fear’ that Voronenkov’s life might be in danger. … Voronenkov had become a vocal critic of Kremlin policy toward Ukraine, including its military invasion and annexation of Crimea. But the former communist lawmaker was also unpopular among Ukrainian nationalists, some of whom were dubious of his loyalties and critical of authorities fast-tracking a Ukrainian passport ….”

Click here for: “Exiled Kremlin Critic Killed In Kyiv In Brazen Daylight Shooting” – RFE/RL







NEWSWATCH: “Denis Voronenkov: ex-#Russian MP who fled to #Ukraine killed in Kiev; Vladimir #Putin’s spokesman dismisses claims that Moscow is linked to the killing of #Kremlin critic who left #Russia last year and renounced citizenship.” – The Guardian (UK)

Map of European Portion of Russia and Environs

“A former #Russian MP who had fled to Ukraine was shot dead on a busy street in central Kiev …. Denis #Voronenkov, who had spoken out against … #Putin and #Kremlin policies, was shot three times outside the upmarket Premier Palace hotel. #Ukraine’s president, Petro #Poroshenko, quickly pointed the finger at Russian authorities, calling the killing an act of ‘state #terrorism’. …”

Click here for: “Denis Voronenkov: ex-Russian MP who fled to Ukraine killed in Kiev; Vladimir Putin’s spokesman dismisses claims that Moscow is linked to the killing of Kremlin critic who left Russia last year and renounced citizenship.” – The Guardian (UK)







NEWSLINK: “Russian-Backed Militants Open Fire On Civilian Ceasefire Monitors In Ukraine” – Daily Caller/Heritage Foundation

Map of Ukraine and Environs, Including Russia

Russian separatist militants opened fire Friday on a group of civilian peace monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in eastern Ukraine, sparking condemnation from the group’s chief monitor and the U.S. Militants from the Russian-backed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) fired on the OSCE monitors as they were attempting to launch a drone in order to investigate the alleged shelling of the Donetsk water filtration station. After seizing the drone, one of the militants opened fire near the monitors. …

NEWSLINK: “#IslamicState increases #oil and #gas sales to #Assad, officials say” – Wall Street Journal/Fox News

Syria Map

“#IslamicState has ramped up sales of #oil and #gas to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-#Assad, U.S. and European officials said, providing vital fuel to the government in return for desperately needed cash. … helping sustain Islamic State amid unprecedented military pressure on the militant group in both #Syria and# Iraq. It is also helping the group despite the regime’s insistence that it is dedicated to eradicating the militant group with the help of its top allies Russia and Iran. … Oil and gas sales to Mr. Assad’s regime are now Islamic State’s largest source of funds, replacing revenue the group once collected from tolls on the transit of goods and taxes on wages ….”

EVENTLINK: “Understanding ISIS and its followers” – AEI Tuesday 11.24.17

Middle East Map

“In March 2015, The Atlantic magazine ran a cover story titled ‘What ISIS Really Wants.’ The author was Graeme Wood, journalist, correspondent for The Atlantic, and lecturer at Yale University. His reporting and research on ISIS has now become a book, ‘The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State’ (Random House, 2016), which examines the origins, plans, and followers of ISIS. In this Bradley Lecture, Mr. Wood will discuss his firsthand encounters with ISIS’s true believers …”

NEWSWATCH: “Cruz calls for refugee crackdown after attacks

Ted Cruz file photo

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is calling on Congress to crack down on accepting refugees after a series of weekend explosions … ‘Congress should act to prevent Americans who have travelled abroad for training from returning here, and to stop the flow of refugees from hotbeds of terrorism in the Middle East that President #Obama is determined to bring to our country,’ Cruz, who has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s terrorism policy, said in a statement on Monday. * * * [Cruz] has pushed legislation for years that would revoke citizenship for anyone fighting with, or providing material support to, ISIS and terrorist groups abroad. He also renewed his push to block … Obama’s plan to increase the number of Syrian refugees accepted into the United States …. Cruz also called for supporting law enforcement and working with the American Muslim community.

Click here for The Hill: “Cruz calls for refugee crackdown after attacks”





 

NEWSWATCH: “Rift in administration over U.S.-Russia pact on Syria” – Fox News

Syria Map

… administration officials reportedly are at odds over a newly announced agreement with Russia to curb the violence in Syria … Confusion remains over the terms and aims of the deal. …. [there are] new questions about what level of violence will be accepted by the Obama administration in determining whether to go ahead with the proposed joint venture with Russia after a week-long ceasefire, which includes the sharing of intelligence at a joint intelligence center. … [After seven days of calm] the U.S. and Russia would then cooperate on how to jointly combat the Al Qaeda-linked group … Nusra Front … now known as Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. … militants backed by the U.S. and its Arab allies coordinate and even sometimes fight alongside Al Qaeda-linked militants. … The new cease-fire is supposed to end such ambiguities, and Washington has been urging rebel groups to break ranks with extremists.

Click here for Fox News: “Rift in administration over US-Russia pact on Syria”





VIDEO & TRANSCRIPT: Pope Benedict XVI at Ground Zero in New York City, Praying for Victims of 9/11 (2008)

Pope Benedict XVI Waving Before Crowd

Pope Benedict XVI visited Ground Zero in New York City on April 22, 2008, the site of the terrorist attacks in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. Videos of his visit follow below, as well as a transcript of the prayer he offered. The videos include an excerpt featuring his prayer of Blessing as well as a longer video.



From the Vatican Information Service:

POPE AT GROUND ZERO: GOD BRING PEACE TO OUR VIOLENT WORLD

VATICAN CITY, 20 APR 2008 (VIS) – In New York at 9.30 a.m. local time today, the Pope visited Ground Zero, the name now used to refer to the site once occupied by the twin towers of the World Trade Centre.

On 11 September 2001 two aircraft crashed into the twin towers, destroying them and a number of neighbouring buildings in a terrorist attack which cost the lives of 2,896 people. The site today is a vast 80-metre deep crater, surrounded by a fence and marked with a cross.

In 2002 the reconstruction of the World Trade Centre was put out for tender in a competition won by the architect Daniel Libensky. Today, Ground Zero is a construction site where work is scheduled to finish in the year 2012. The main building of the new complex will be the “Freedom Tower”, 541 metres high.



Benedict XVI arrived at Ground Zero accompanied by Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York. Awaiting him there were Michael Bloomberg, mayor of the city; David A. Paterson and John Corzine, respectively governors of New York and of New Jersey; 24 people representing the forces that responded to the attack of 11 September, and a number of injured and relatives of the victims.

The Holy Father kneeled for a few minutes of silent prayer for the victims of the attack, then lit a candle before pronouncing the following prayer:

“O God of Love, Compassion, and Healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

“We ask You in Your Goodness
to give Eternal Light and Peace
to all who died here –
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on 11 September 2001.

“We ask You, in Your Compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

“We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

“God of Peace, bring Your Peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to Your Way of Love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

“God of Understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek Your Light and Guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all”.

The prayer over, the Pope greeted survivors of the attack, relatives of some of the victims, and members of the rescue squads. Finally, he imparted his blessing to those present.

After the ceremony, the Holy Father returned to his residence where he bid farewell to the staff of the Holy See permanent mission to the United Nations in New York before having lunch in private.
PV-U.S.A./PRAYER GROUND ZERO/NEW YORK VIS 20080420 (620)

[VIS release also appeared at visnews-en.blogspot.in/2008/04/pope-at-ground-zero-god-bring-peace-to.html, bearing the following notice:

Copyright © VIS – Vatican Information Service

In accordance with international regulations on Intellectual Property and Author’s Rights, VIS authorises reproduction of news items issued by the Vatican Information Service, partially or in their entirety, on condition that the source (VIS – Vatican Information Service) is quoted.]



 

U.S. Transfers 15 Guantanamo Bay Detainees; The United Arab Emirates accepts 15 prisoners under President Obama’s push to nearly empty Gitmo by January

Guantanmo Bay Detainees file photo

The Wall Street Journal reports on the United States transferring 15 Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) detainees, 12 Yemenis and three Afghans, to the United Arab Emirates on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016.  Sixty-one detainees are left at GTMO, down from 242 in 2009.  However, far more detainees were transferred during the George W. Bush administration, a total of 532. Nearly 800 individuals have been detained at GTMO since it was opened after the 9/11 attacks.

Under Obama, the United States often pays up to $100,000 per detainee transferred, and attempts to continue electronic surveillance of transferred detainees.

The U.S. usually pays foreign governments to monitor transferred detainees, and underwrites resettlement costs—for language instruction, vocational courses and the like—up to $100,000 each …. people familiar with the matter said the U.S. typically conducts electronic surveillance of former detainees, while local authorities keep physical tabs on them. … the administration leverag[es] rivalries to get countries to compete over resettling the men. … Foreign governments are realizing that ‘if you want to get attention in the Obama administration, one way to do it is to take Guantanamo detainees,’ [an] official said. * * * In the U.A.E., the 15 newly transferred men will enter a rehabilitation facility modeled after a Saudi program that seeks to ‘de-radicalize’ former detainees, a senior administration official said. ‘There is an ideological component. They bring in the moderate [religious leaders]. They provide literature. They work on life skills’ ….

Concern continues about whether transferred or released detainees could rejoin terrorist activity, and opposition continues to Congressional action to authorize a complete closure of GTMO detention.

At least 30 to 40 detainees are set for prosecution by military commissions or are otherwise deemed to dangerous to release.

Administration negotiating teams continue to push to facilitate the transfer process, raising questions about whether poorer countries are being paid to induce them to take detainees that they might not otherwise take.

Click here for Wall Street Journal: “U.S. Transfers 15 Guantanamo Bay Detainees;
The United Arab Emirates accepts 15 prisoners under President Obama’s push to nearly empty Gitmo by January”

NEWSWATCH: “French President Links Nice Attack to Iraq, Syria Conflict” – ABC

Middle East Map

… French President Francois Hollande linked the deadly ‘terrorist attack’ in Nice to the conflict in Iraq and Syria — and said France will intensify its military operations there in the aftermath of today’s tragedy. * * * Prior to tonight’s tragedy, France had been targeted in two major terrorist attacks within the last year and a half. In January 2015 extremists linked to both al Qaeda and ISIS killed 12 people in an assault on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. In November the same year, an ISIS cell killed 130 people in coordinated attacks also in Paris. … In the past, both ISIS and al Qaeda have encouraged their followers to kill Westerners by using vehicles as weapons. After the Nice attack, online ISIS supporters expressed jubilation at the carnage ….

Click here for ABC: French President Links Nice Attack to Iraq, Syria Conflict



 

 

NEWSWATCH: “Truck ‘terrorist’ kills 80 in attack on Nice Bastille Day crowd” – Reuters

Map of France

A ‘terrorist’ gunman killed 80 people and wounded scores when he drove a heavy truck at high speed into a crowd that had watched Bastille Day fireworks in the French Riviera city of Nice late on Thursday …. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said 80 people died and 18 were in a critical condition. Many more were also wounded …. The driver also opened fire before police shot him dead. … President Francois Hollande said he was calling up military and police reservists to relieve forces worn out by an eight-month state of emergency begun after … Islamic State … killed 130 … in Paris. The state of emergency was extended by three months.

Click here for Reuters: “Truck ‘terrorist’ kills 80 in attack on Nice Bastille Day crowd”



NEWSWATCH: “At least 80 dead, 18 seriously injured in Bastille Day terror attack in France” – Fox News

Map of France

At least 80 people were killed … 18 others … seriously injured Thursday when a terrorist drove a large truck loaded with guns and hand grenades into a crowd … gathered for a Bastille Day fireworks display in the southern French city of Nice.

…  no immediate claim of responsibility, but two sources, including a U.S. counterterrorism source who collects and monitors jihadist social media, told Fox News that accounts linked to ISIS were ‘celebratory’ and their followers were told to use the hashtag ‘Nice’.

Click here for Fox News: “At least 80 dead, 18 seriously injured in Bastille Day terror attack in France”