8 December 2016

*** How Russia Pulled Off the Biggest Election Hack in U.S. History

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On an April afternoon earlier this year, Russian president Vladimir Putin headlined a gathering of some four hundred journalists, bloggers, and media executives in St. Petersburg. Dressed in a sleek navy suit, Putin looked relaxed, even comfortable, as he took questions. About an hour into the forum, a young blogger in a navy zip sweater took the microphone and asked Putin what he thought of the "so-called Panama Papers."

The blogger was referring to a cache of more than eleven million computer files that had been stolen from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm. The leak was the largest in history, involving 2.6 terabytes of data, enough to fill more than five hundred DVDs. On April 3, four days before the St. Petersburg forum, a group of international news outlets published the first in a series of stories based on the leak, which had taken them more than a year to investigate. The series revealed corruption on a massive scale: Mossack Fonseca's legal maneuverings had been used to hide billions of dollars. A central theme of the group's reporting was the matryoshka doll of secret shell companies and proxies, worth a reported $2 billion, that belonged to Putin's inner circle and were presumed to shelter some of the Russian president's vast personal wealth.

** david-petraeus-would-be-a-great-secretary-of-state


The general with more terrorist blood on his hands than any other American is the right choice for America’s top diplomat.

President-elect Donald Trump has made a terrific choice — his best one yet — in choosing retired Gen. James Mattis as his secretary of defense. Mattis is not only a first-rate operational commander who will inspire fear in U.S. enemies and devotion among its troops, but also a serious student of military history and strategy who has thought deeply about issues of war and peace. The only cost in appointing Mattis, along with retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn as national security advisor, is that it could take David Petraeus out of the running for secretary of state on the theory that the administration can’t have retired generals filling all of the senior national security posts.

That would be a mistake. Petraeus would be a superbly qualified secretary of state — one who already has more diplomatic experience than most of those previously selected for this position. He is not, to be sure, the only qualified candidate. Mitt Romney would also be good selection because he is a man of decency and intellect and his selection would show that Trump does not harbor a grudge against those who opposed him during the campaign. If Romney is chosen, one can imagine other qualified critics of Trump being asked to serve in lower-level, if still critical, positions. But of the leading candidates — a list that apparently now includes not just Petraeus and Romney but also Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, and former governor and ambassador Jon Huntsman, Jr. — it is the retired general who has the deepest experience in, and knowledge of, world affairs.

* The 'Civilian Control of the Military' Fallacy

President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that he intends to nominate retired Marine General James Mattis as his secretary of defense has drawn criticism from those who fear that installing a retired officer in the Pentagon would jeopardize civilian control of the military. Those critics are mistaken. Previous service in uniform shouldn’t disqualify nominees, and, as the Iraq war demonstrated, civilians with no military experience are perfectly capable of making catastrophic mistakes themselves.

It is a mystery how a phrase that is both as ungrammatical and incorrect as “civilian control of the military” has become so widely accepted. First the grammar—“military” is an adjective, not a noun. The institution is the “armed forces.” When used correctly, the adjective raises real issues—“the military mind,” or “the military-industrial complex,” for example. Used in sloppy fashion as a noun, the word evokes a somewhat sinister blob of an institution, attitude, culture, and pressure group.

* The ‘Civilian Control of the Military’ Fallacy


Retired officers like James Mattis who are nominated for civilian posts should be judged on their merits—not disqualified on the basis of their past service. 

President-elect Donald Trump’s announcement that heintends to nominate retired Marine General James Mattis as his secretary of defense has drawn criticism from those who fear that installing a retired officer in the Pentagon would jeopardize civilian control of the military. Those critics are mistaken. Previous service in uniform shouldn’t disqualify nominees, and, as the Iraq war demonstrated, civilians with no military experience are perfectly capable of making catastrophic mistakes themselves.

It is a mystery how a phrase that is both as ungrammatical and incorrect as “civilian control of the military” has become so widely accepted. First the grammar—“military” is an adjective, not a noun. The institution is the “armed forces.” When used correctly, the adjective raises real issues—“the military mind,” or “the military-industrial complex,” for example. Used in sloppy fashion as a noun, the word evokes a somewhat sinister blob of an institution, attitude, culture, and pressure group.

* Mark Zuckerberg’s Long March to China

by Emily Parker

The Chinese government likes to control social media and what people do with it—but Facebook looks willing to launch in China anyway. 

For U.S. Internet businesses, China is the land of moral defeat. Many people hoped that Western technology companies would loosen China’s control over information. Instead, those companies have willingly participated in efforts to censor citizens’ speech. Yahoo gave Chinese authorities information about democracy activists, landing them in jail. Microsoft shut down the blog of prominent media-freedom activist Michael Anti. Google censored search results that were politically sensitive in China. In 2006, those three companies came before Congress and were accused by a subcommittee chairman of “sickening collaboration” with the Chinese government. Google shut down its mainland Chinese search engine in 2010, publicly complaining about censorship and cybersecurity.

Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009, and its Instagram photo-sharing service was blocked in 2014. I once thought that it would be disastrous or impossible for the social network to try a Chinese adventure of its own, and some China experts still believe that to be true. But a Facebook launch in China now looks probable.

* The US Is Losing at Influence Warfare. Here’s Why


Lawmakers and leaders want to fight foreign influence operations, but they aren’t asking the right questions. 

U.S. lawmakers are finally getting serious about disinformation from nation states as a national security concern. The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act directs the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, working with the Defense Department and other agencies to “counter foreign propaganda and disinformation directed against United States national security interests and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests.”

The provision borrows heavily from the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, whose author, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has grown increasingly concerned about foreign influence operations. A staffer for Portman cited Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

“Russia launched a coordinated information campaign to undermine and delegitimize the post-Maidan Ukrainian government and subvert its authority over the peninsula, while obscuring the role of the Russian government in these efforts to the rest of the world,” the staffer said. “By the time Western nations finally agreed on what was happening, Russia had solidified its hold over the territory such that it was too late to do much about it.”


Deepak Sinha
Apart from bringing an immediate institutional change, the establishment needs to change its mindset. If technology and state-of-art measures are to be given primacy of place in our military doctrine, a drastic reduction in the size of our forces is also required

It is accepted conventional wisdom the world over, ever since well-known military theorist, Carl Von Clausewitz, first articulated the aphorism in the late 18th century that “war is a continuation of politics by other means”.

In 2004, however, it was the Chinese, who turned this theory on its head by publishing their concept of ‘Three Warfares’ which integrates the use of psychological, media and legal warfare in peace-time to achieve their strategic objectives, without having to resort to violent confrontation. As the leading thinker on this subject, Stefan Halper of Cambridge University states “it is a dynamic three dimensional war-fighting process, that constitutes war by other means”.

However, one must grant the Pakistani military leadership full points for having taken this concept to greater heights, with the added use of proxy combatants that even the Chinese will find difficult to scale. The spate of attacks in the recent past at Pathankot, Uri, and now, Nagrota, aimed specifically at military establishments ,is a classic example of this strategy at work.

India's Supreme Court Has a Nationalist Moment

By Padmapriya Govindarajan

What was the Indian Supreme Court thinking? 

On November 30 2016, the Indian Supreme Court issued an order to all movie theaters to play the country’s national anthem with an image of the national flag before screening films and to ensure that exits are inaccessible while this happens. This was a norm that several movie theaters in the country adhered to at the end of film screenings decades ago, but the custom soon tapered out. People usually left at the end of the movie and the practice proved futile. The recent order is accompanied by the suggestion that those witnessing this be obliged to show respect to the anthem and the proceedings, with the panel saying that this was an important decision that showed love and respect for the motherland.

Specific states already institute some form of this order — some strictly and others sporadically. But with the country’s apex court making this a directive across the nation, the order becomes mandatory. The court has not clarified the guidelines for violations of this order and a further hearing on this issue is expected in February. One of the more prominent legal cases involving the question of respect for the Indian national anthem is Bijoe Emmanuel vs The State of Kerala, 1986. Students belonging to the Jehovah’s Witness sect of Christianity who did not sing the national anthem at a school gathering, due to religious beliefs that banned them from partaking in this, were expelled. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of them, granting them protection:

* Post-Nagrota, We Must Rethink The NSA: It Is Not A Post, But An Institution

R Jagannathan 

The think-tank needs to think strategy all the time, and develop one that will stand the test of time.

It is time our NSA grew bigger, and was not reduced to a mere position reporting to the PM.

After the Nagrota terrorist attack, which killed seven armymen, including two officers, we are once again asking the wrong questions of ourselves: Was this another intelligence failure? Have the surgical strikes failed to deter Pakistan? Is Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy failing? Are talks a better alternative to rising tensions on the border?

The right questions to ask are the following: Are we raising the costs for Pakistan’s state sponsorship of terror? Is our strategic response – military, special covert ops, diplomatic and economic - now more coordinated than before? Do we know what can be achieved through talks and what can only be achieved by force or the threat of force? Do we fully understand Pakistan’s strategy, and do we have a long-term, constantly evolving, counter to deter it?

Toward Strategic Economic Cooperation Between India and Japan


Summary: India and Japan are using economic cooperation to advance their strategic interests and counterbalance Chinese influence in their neighborhood.

Under the leadership of Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe, India and Japan are increasingly using infrastructure and connectivity projects, particularly in regions bordering India, to further converge their interests. While such economic cooperation between New Delhi and Tokyo is not new, the clarity of strategic purpose driving it is. The two countries are pursuing greater cooperation to further their own regional interests and strengthen their collective capacity to counterbalance China’s ambitions and its own connectivity initiatives in Asia and beyond.

Japan has a long and impressive history of foreign development assistance, and India has been a major South Asian recipient for decades. Beginning with technical cooperation programs in 1954, Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) emerged as a crucial source for infrastructure funding for emerging economies. India and Japan began their economic relationship soon after they established diplomatic ties in the early 1950s. Japan extended a yen-denominated loan, the first of its kind, to India in 1958 under the leadership of then prime minister Nobusuke Kishi, the grandfather of Shinzo Abe. The loan was extended shortly after then Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru hosted Kishi in 1957, as both looked to establish bilateral relationships and engage with the international community. From its first ODA loan in 1958 to investing in the construction of the Delhi Metro, which began around the turn of the century, Japan has emerged as a trusted partner for infrastructure development in India.1 Given its size, India has historically received the lion’s share of Japanese ODA in South Asia—New Delhi has been the largest recipient of Japanese ODA in South Asia since 2003. In 2014, for instance, India received 57 percent of Japan’s South Asia ODA budget.2

China’s naval base in Pakistan Revealed – China’s New Global Game

By Bhaskar Roy

Talking to The Express Tribune (Nov 25, 2016) Pakistani naval officers revealed that Chinese naval ships would be deployed at the Gwadar Sea Port to safeguard the port and trade under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

A special squadron of four to six ships would be deployed, comprising of both Chinese and Pakistani navies. The ambit of this combined naval force is not only the protection on Gwadar Port, which is designated as a defence entity, but also ensuring security of maritime trade emanating from Pakistan which will have Chinese interests. The Arabian Sea to the African coast, and of course, the Gulf would be its area of operation.

Pakistani naval officers also told the Tribune that the role of maritime forces in Pakistan had expanded since the operationalization of Gwadar Port and accelerated development of the CPEC. Gwadar is a Chinese-built and almost Chinese-owned operation. China has a lease of 40 years for operating this port and a Chinese state-owned company with military links is in charge. A decade back, with international focus on this project, the Chinese and the Pakistanis decided to hand over the running of Gwadar Port to a Singapore Company. Many including in India argued that the port had no military plans behind it, since it was being operated by a company, belonging to a third country which was neutral on these issues.

India, Afghanistan Plan Air Link to Bypass Pakistan for Trade

By Ankit Panda

The air cargo link is expected to unleash the potential of trade between India and Afghanistan. 

Indian and Afghan officials confirmed over the weekend that the two countries are planning to move forward with an air cargo service over Pakistan. Along with the establishment of the Iran-based Chabahar port, the air link will serve as an important enabler of two-way trade between India and Afghanistan.

The plan was announced after a bilateral meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of the 2016 Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan in Amritsar, India.

According to Reuters, which spoke to Indian officials, the air cargo link will “boost the growth prospects of its fruit and carpet industries while [Afghanistan] battles a deadly Taliban insurgency.”

Currently, Afghanistan — a landlocked country — depends overwhelmingly on access to the Arabian Sea port of Karachi in Pakistan for a access to overseas markets.

‘Heart of Asia Summit 2016’ Critically Analysed

By Dr Subhash Kapila

The ‘Heart of Asia’ which Afghanistan really is, continues to be brutally bled by Pakistan’s bloody terrorism strategies, which five ‘Heart of Asia’ Summits so far have been unable to restrain.

Simply, this arises from the stark reality that the United States, China and Turkey deeply involved with Pakistan politically and militarily have not rapped Pakistan hard on Rawalpindi’s knuckles to desist from such disruptive terrorist adventurism against Afghanistan and India.

The ‘Heart of Asia’ Summit necessarily should be Afghanistan-centric in terms of that brutalised nation’s development. Afghanistan’s brutalisation has been at the hands of Pakistan-facilitated terrorism. Pakistan state-sponsored terrorism is not only Afghanistan but also targets India and therefore there is a duality of convergences on this Pakistan-facilitated terrorism between Afghanistan and India.

Afghanistan’s security and stability are prime national security interests of India and thus India has a legitimate security interest in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s stability is constantly being undermined by Pakistan’s incessant terrorism attacks. India must therefore be expected to be blunt in naming and shaming Pakistan for its refusal to dispense with its disruptive terrorism strategy against Afghanistan.

The Simple Reasons Why the South China Sea is Headed for Tragic Troubles

Peter Layton

The world has moved on but most South China Sea strategies are stuck in the past. For example, Australia’s policies have changed very little from 2011 to today. So instead, let’s think about strategies for the future. China first became more assertive seven years ago; what could the South China Sea be like seven years from now?

Alternative futures represent a way for us to think about possible tomorrows. Imagine that the future lies somewhere between the best of all possible worlds and the worst, somewhere between a cooperative and a conflictual state. Neither extreme future is necessarily more likely than the other, but they allow us to think about the spectrum of possibilities. Using the cooperative and conflictual variables creates two possible alternative 2023s (see here).

The cooperative future will be considered by many to be wildly optimistic, while pessimistic realists will say that the conflictual world bears some resemblance to where we are now. But the task for policymakers is to steer the future towards the ‘good’ tomorrow and away from the ‘bad’ one. Worryingly, the two major strategic thrusts at the moment, driven by ASEAN and the United States, don’t seem to be moving us in the good direction. .

America Still Hasn't Felt the Weight of the Iraq Disaster

Daniel R. DePetris

By all objective measures, former prime minister Tony Blair was one of the most successful British politicians in the modern era. He led the Labour Party to three straight general election victories, had an iron grip on his party for a decade and at times carried on as if the Tories were a permanent minority-party nuisance.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq, however, would eventually come crashing down on Blair’s shoulders like an anvil. As Iraq descended into sectarian chaos, as more UK soldiers lost their lives, and as additional information came to light that exposed the flimsiness of the Labour government’s case against Saddam Hussein, a man who was once one of the more popular prime ministers in British history transformed into one of the most reviled. In the nine years since Blair resigned as prime minister, the mistakes and hubris of Iraq have haunted him wherever he goes and whenever he makes a public appearance.

North Korea 'hacks South's military cyber command'

South Korea's military cyber command, set up to guard against hacking, appears to have been breached by North Korea, the military has said.

A spokesman told the BBC that classified information was thought to have been stolen, although it is not clear exactly what data was accessed.

The North has previously been accused of hacking into banks and media outlets but never the South's military.

Pyongyang has in the past rejected allegations of cyber crime involvement.

Media captionNorth Korean defector Prof Kim Heung-Kwang tells the BBC about potential cyber attacks from the country

Revealed: The US Military's Electronic War Strategy to Counter Russia

Kris Osborn

The Pentagon’s soon-to-be published Electronic Warfare strategy calls for increased investment in advanced electronic warfare technology designed to defend U.S. assets and proactively use the electromagnetic spectrum to attack enemies.

DOD officials say the new strategy will be signed and distributed in the next two months, with additional annexes expected to be ready by Summer, 2017. The strategy will be an unclassified document to be shared with U.S. military developers and defense industry officials, Pentagon officials said.

Scout Warrior has learned of some key elements featured in the report, such as increasing EW attack technology, advancing new systems and training and equipping EW forces.

“In equipping our forces, we plan to develop advanced electronic attack, advanced electronic warfare support, harden our kill-chains with electronic protection, invest in electromagnetic battle management to manage the numerous assets in the battlespace,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Roger Cabiness told Scout Warrior.

Why Japan Failed at Pearl Harbor

James Holmes

Tokyo knew it was awakening a “sleeping giant.” So why did it attack?

As we afford our hallowed forebears the remembrance they deserve, let’s also try to learn from what transpired here seventy-five years ago, and see what it tells us about America’s future as an Asia-Pacific sea power.

In particular, let’s look at Pearl Harbor through the eyes of the enemy.

Why did Japan do it? Doing nothing is a viable strategic option, and oftentimes a good one. Imperial Japan would have been far better off had it forgone the attack on Pearl Harbor and confined its operations to the Western Pacific. Had Tokyo exercised some forbearance, it may have avoided rousing the “sleeping giant” that Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto reputedly said he feared so much. And even if it did awaken the American giant, it would have avoided filling him with what Yamamoto called a “terrible resolve” to crush Japan. Think about it:

Cutting Waste Isn't Enough to Curb Pentagon Spending

Benjamin H. Friedman

The Pentagon killed a 2015 report showing wasteful administrative spending, according to a Washington Post exposé by Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward. The report, authored by McKinsey consultants for the Defense Business Board, a DoD advisory body consisting mostly of corporate executives, estimated that the Pentagon could save $75–150 billion over five years by becoming more efficient and using the savings to pay for combat forces. According to the Post, Pentagon officials feared that the report, ambitiously titled “Transforming DoD’s Business Processes for Revolutionary Change,” would offer ammunition to those demanding military budget cuts, so they prevented its publication. Of course it leaked.

It’s unfortunate that Pentagon officials killed the report. But their quoted complaints about its shallowness and lack of content are fair. The report claims to map a “clear path” to savings, a line the Post approvingly repeats. What it actually delivers—in seventy-seven PowerPoint slides of vacuous consultant-speak—is some good information about the Pentagon’s administrative workforce and vague reform ideas, which fail to identify “waste” and seem unlikely to save money.

75 Years after Pearl Harbor, Japan Is a Key Defender of Global Stability

Michael Auslin

Seventy-five years ago today, Japan launched surprise attacks against the Western powers in Asia, igniting the full Pacific War that witnessed horrific war crimes by the Imperial Japanese Army and climaxed in the atomic furies over Hiroshima and Nagasaki four years later. Though best known in America for the early Sunday morning, December 7, attack on Pearl Harbor, the main object of Japanese military operations was to overwhelm European and American garrisons in Southeast Asia and break the embargo on oil and other raw materials that threatened to strangle its national power. Hong Kong, Malaya, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand all were besieged from air and sea that day, and the rest of Southeast Asia was assaulted by January in a bold bid to destroy the balance of power in Asia and create a new, Japanese-dominated regional order.

This week it was announced that Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe will visit Pearl Harbor with President Barack Obama in late December, finally closing the page on that day of infamy. Further, in late November, Japan’s defense minister, Tomomi Inada, inaugurated the first Japan-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defense initiative, the “Vientiane Vision,” at the second informal meeting of defense ministers from Japan and ASEAN nations. In aiming explicitly to cooperate on maritime security and promote the rule of international law in Asia, Japanese Prime Minister Abe is positioning Japan as a bulwark of the post–World War II international system, just the opposite of the role his country played in 1941.

Work: Third Offset Focus is to Improve U.S. Battle Networks


WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s (DoD’s) battle networks give the United States tremendous advantage in all levels of warfighting, but competitor nations are working to defeat them and overcome strategic, operational and tactical advantage, the undersecretary of Defense said Dec. 5.

The DoD’s Third Offset strategy is designed to leverage advanced technology to maintain comprehensive strategic stability balance with major state competitors like Russia and China and maintain conventional as well as strategic deterrence, Robert O. Work Jr. told an audience at the Navy’s Future Strategy Forum 2016 at the Navy Memorial.

Work said the strategy aims to maintain U.S. conventional overmatch and conventional deterrence across the full range of military operations, including low-intensity conflict and counter-insurgency operations.

He noted that, to Russia and China, competition is a natural steady state of affairs, whereas competition casts a negative tone among Western democracies.



With President-elect Donald Trump poised to become commander-in-chief, a number of debates have arisen about the legacies that will be left behind by his predecessor and the ways those legacies shape the options available to Trump. Last month in an interview, President Obama outlined five moments that he believed defined his presidency. One of them involved the use of drones to track and kill suspected militants. In a world where a U.S. president has an arsenal of drones at his or her disposal, Obama recalled, America will soon find itself with a president who can carry on perpetual wars all over the world, “and a lot of them covert, without any accountability or democratic debate.”

The notion that drones make it easier for leaders to use military force has raised questions about the proliferation of drones globally, from groups like Human Rights Watch concerned about illicit uses of force to debates in the U.S. government about how to balance proliferation concerns and export policy choices. Discussion of these issues is understandable — the United States is perceived as having been relatively unconstrained with its use of drones around the world. President Obama stated that drones have become a ubiquitous ingredient in our strategy for combatting counterterrorism and are likely to remain so.



Whether or not “hybrid war” is the right term — a battle probably lost for the moment —Russia is indeed waging an essentially political struggle against the West through political subversion, economic penetration, espionage, and disinformation. To a degree, this reflects the parsimonious opportunism of a weak but ruthless Russia trying to play a great power game without a great power’s resources. It also owes much to Moscow’s inheritance from Bolshevik and even tsarist practices. But a third key factor behind it is the very nature of the modern Russian state, as I discuss in my new report, Hybrid War or Gibridnaya Voina: Getting Russia’s Non-Linear Military Challenge Right.

One distinctive aspect of recent Russian campaigns, from political operations against the West to military operations in Ukraine, has been a blurring of the borders between state, paramilitary, mercenary, and dupe. The Putin regime evidently believes that it is at war with the West — a geopolitical, even civilizational struggle — and is thus mobilizing every weaponizable asset at its disposal. This extends to mining society as a whole for semi-autonomous assets, from eager internet trolls and “patriotic hackers” to transnational banks and businesses to Cossack volunteers and mercenary gangsters.

Turkey Launches Its First Spy Satellite

A European-built, Turkish-owned spy satellite rocketed into orbit Monday aboard a Vega booster launched from French Guiana, part of a $300 million project to feed improved surveillance imagery to the Turkish military and advance the country’s aerospace manufacturing base.

Leaving political and international export concerns in its wake, the Gokturk 1 satellite will spend at least seven years taking high-resolution pictures for Turkish military and security agencies.

Turkey’s most advanced surveillance craft lifted off at 1351:44 GMT (8:51:44 a.m. EST; 10:51:44 a.m. French Guiana time) Monday on top of a Vega rocket, a four-stage booster primarily produced in Italy tailored for small satellite launches.

The 98-foot-tall (30-meter) Vega rocket rumbled off its tropical launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana, on nearly 700,000 pounds of thrust from its P80 solid-fueled first stage motor, exceeding the speed of sound within 30 seconds as it set off on a northerly trajectory bound for an orbit circling Earth’s poles.

Three European-made solid rocket motors fired in succession in the first seven minutes of the Vega rocket’s mission, then a liquid-fueled Ukrainian fourth stage engine ignited two times to maneuver Gokturk 1 into a target orbit nearly 435 miles (700 kilometers) above Earth.

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube collaborate to remove ‘terrorist content’ from their services

by Sarah Perez

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube today announced they would cooperate on a plan to help limit the spread of terrorist content online. The companies said that together they will create a shared industry database that will be used to identify this content, including what they describe as the “most extreme and egregious terrorist images and videos” that have been removed from their respective services.

Facebook describes how this database will work in an announcement in its newsroom. The content will be hashed using unique digital fingerprints, which is how its identification and removal can be handled more easily and efficiently by the company’s computer systems and algorithms.

Using a database of hashed images is the same way that organizations keep child pornography off their services. Essentially, a piece of content is given a unique identifier. If any copies of that file are analyzed, they will also produce this same hash value. Similar systems are also used to identify copyright-protected files.

Iran creates ‘Cyber Brigades’ for online war

The commander of students’ Basij militias, Ali Sabir Hamani, announced the formation of ‘Cyber Brigades’ comprising school students with the aim of taking part in cyber warfare launched against the Islamic Republic.

This would be in parallel to the ‘Joint Cyber Army’ of the Iranian Intelligence whose main task is to focus on monitoring online hostilities.

Hamani said that the ‘virtual cyber committee’ created by the Basij will train students on how “to effectively engage on social media,” according to Fars news agency.

According to the semi-official news agency, the committee has organized training programs attended by 200 of the ‘elite’ students from different Iranian provinces, trained on how to handle conflicts in cyberspace. 


Al Arabiya.net has previously revealed in a special report published last September, the assassination of 35-year-old Tajik, the former commander of the ‘Cyber Army’ of the Ministry of intelligence after he was accused of spying and purveying security information to opposition activists of the ‘Green Movement.’