Night Watch

Pakistan: A group of 10 Islamic militants wearing military uniforms "stormed" (sic)  Pakistan Air Force Base Minhas, located at Kamra in Punjab Province on15 August, according to multiple Pakistani and international news service reports.

Exchanges of fire continued for several hours resulting in one security officer killed and six wounded. Five or six attackers were killed. The Pakistani Taliban claimed credit for the attack.

Comment: Multiple western media outlets described this ill-conceived and poorly executed militant attack as "storming." Who writes and approves such nonsense?

All but one of the suicide bombers failed to detonate before being shot down and the attackers were stopped by base security. They fired some rocket propelled grenades, but no aircraft were destroyed. No sensitive base areas were breached. If anything, this was a success for Pakistan Air Force security because the attackers had no inside help that would have made this attack more deadly.

Comments about the presence of nuclear weapons at Minhas Air Base exposes the ignorance of western commentators. Pakistani nuclear weapons are stored according to Chinese doctrine and practice.

Pakistan has no nuclear weapons bases, according to an air force spokesman who spoke the literal truth. No weapons are maintained in a ready to launch state, with special electronic safeguards, as in US doctrine and practice. Pakistan uses an entirely different safeguards regime.

The handwringing headline that Islamic terrorists might have gotten hold of a Pakistani nuclear bomb is fantasy, but it sells copy.  Nevertheless, the attack was bold and exposed continuing weakness in Pakistan's domestic intelligence and intelligence warning capabilities. It also is a rare instance of effective Pakistani protection capabilities.

Internal security. Gunmen dragged 20 Shiite Muslims travelers from a bus and killed them at point blank range, the third such incident in six months, Pakistani officials said. The attack occurred as the bus was travelling between Rawalpindi and the mainly Shiite northern city of Gilgit.

Syria-UN: For the record. The UN Security Council has decided to terminate its observer mission in Syria, French Ambassador to the United Nations Gerard Araud said 16 August. Araud added that the council also decided to keep a much smaller UN liaison office in Syria.

Lebanon-Syria: A new group calling itself the al-Mukhtar al-Thufki brigade on 16 August announced it captured 10 Free Syrian Army members in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, according to a Lebanese news outlet. The group said it will target anyone it believes is a Free Syrian Army supporter.

In a parallel development, a large Lebanese clan, the al Meqdad family, said it would kill a Turkish hostage first if a clan member held captive by Syrian rebels was hurt. The clan said it is targeting both Syrian rebels and Turkish citizens in order to put pressure on the Free Syrian Army.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman held urgent talks on 16 August with security leaders and other ministers to contain the street attacks and kidnappings in Lebanon triggered by events in Syria. Suleiman said he hoped the kidnappings of Lebanese in Syria and counter-kidnappings of Syrians in Lebanon would be resolved diplomatically.

Comment: The Syrian or Iranian governments appear to have decided to demonstrate that they also have the power to spread the Syrian conflict beyond the borders of Syria by inciting Kurds, Lebanese Hezbollah and Syrian sympathizers in Lebanon. This is a serious threat to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

US and other Western policy makers need to start seeing a much wider regional conflict emerging from the Syrian uprising and Saudi and Bahraini meddling. The spill-over of violence into Lebanon appears to be the opening of a second front, in the rear of the Free Syrian Army. The Iranians threatened actions of this type last week, when they said the friends of Syria had not yet been heard.

Israel-Egypt: If Egypt fails to restore order in the Sinai Peninsula, it could come to resemble the Afghan mountain hideouts which sheltered the Taliban and their Al-Qaida allies, an Israeli military source warned on Thursday.

Briefing foreign journalists at the site of a 5 August attack, where still-unidentified attackers burst through a border crossing into Israel after killing 16 Egyptian guards, the source said that 'thousands' of militants were holed up in the remote region where local Bedouin help them.

Comment: The information provided by the Israeli military source tends to match research findings by NightWatch. Some Bedouin tribes or clans are supporting the militants. Their numbers are estimated at about 1,000 to 1,500. Their grievances stem from abuse and mistreatment by the Egyptians -- city Arabs mistreating nomad Arabs.

Some of the Sinai militants appear aligned with al Qaida, but the Bedouin have more than enough grievances to justify their struggle against Egypt and, by extension, Israel without invoking al Qaida. There is no likelihood that the Sinai would become a terrorist safehaven like Afghanistan once was, in any meaningful sense

End of NightWatch ###

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Night Watch

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