Posts Tagged ‘fight terrorism’

Indonesia, Russia to work together to fight terrorism

August 9, 2017


© AFP | Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talks with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi

JAKARTA (AFP) – Indonesia and Russia pledged Wednesday to strengthen cooperation in cyber-security and counter-terrorism as concern grows about the spread of radicalism in Southeast Asia.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is on a two-day visit to Indonesia, said the two countries would work together more closely to counter the spread of Islamic State (IS) ideology.

“The threat that the ISIL is has not vanished. Its members have been spreading all over the world, including areas close to the Russian and Indonesian borders,” Lavrov said, using another acronym for the group.

Hundreds of radicals from Indonesia have flocked abroad to fight with IS, and the country has seen a surge in plots and attacks linked to the jihadists over the past year.

Indonesian officials have also said dozens of Indonesians have travelled to the southern Philippine city of Marawi to fight with militants loyal to IS.

The militants seized parts of the city over two months ago and have resisted all attempts by the Philippine army to evict them.

“We have agreed that our special services will pay particular attention to increasing coordination in our joint efforts to fight this scourge,” Lavrov said.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the two countries had strong ties on political and defence issues, and Indonesia wanted to deepen trade ties.

The ministers also discussed tensions on the Korean peninsula, the South China Sea and conflict in the Middle East, but gave no details.


Proposal to expand role of China’s armed police force would strengthen Xi Jinping’s power — Plus “maintaining social stability and protecting maritime rights.”

March 9, 2016

By Jun Mai and Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post

A proposal submitted to the National People’s Congress seeks to expand the role of the armed police and put the force more firmly under the command of the Central Military Commission – a move analysts say would consolidate the power of Xi Jinping.

Sun Sijing, political commissar of the armed police and a legislator attending the National People’s Congress in Beijing, had proposed a legal amendment that would clear the way for the changes, PLA Daily reported this week.

The amendment was aimed at ensuring the highest power of command was “firmly in the hands of the Communist Party’s central leadership, the CMC and [CMC] Chairman Xi”, it said.

The amendment has been under discussion since last June, according to the PLA Daily.

READ MORE: Son of China’s ex-defence minister Qin Jiwei appointed chief of staff of military’s armed police

Sun, speaking to the South China Morning Post on the sidelines of an NPC session yesterday, said the armed police were increasingly being used for disaster relief and maritime law enforcement operations and that their expanding duties should be defined in law.

The current armed police law, passed in 2009, states that the 660,000-strong force is under the dual leadership of the State Council and the CMC. It also requires the leadership to be shared by central and local commanders.

The force is used by local governments to maintain domestic security, fight terrorism and manage social unrest.

Experts said Sun’s proposal was a result of incidents that stemmed from the complex leadership of the force.

In 2012, the now-disgraced Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai reportedly sent a convoy of armed police to seize his one-time ally Wang Lijun, who had gone to the US consulate in Chengdu in an attempt to defect.

The incident set off one of China’s biggest political scandals in decades.

READ MORE: Former top Chinese police official and Zhou Yongkang ally jailed on corruption charges

Reports have also suggested the party’s former security tsar Zhou Yongkang attempted to mobilise the armed police force against the top party leadership in 2012. Zhou was jailed for corruption last year.

“The local government used armed police to besiege the US consulate and the rumours of a coup [in 2012] were also related to the armed police,” said Zeng Zhiping, a military law expert at the Nanchang Institute of Technology in Jiangxi.

“Such incidents would surely make the top leaders insecure. The force could be used against them at some time.”

Chen Daoyin, an associate professor at Shanghai University of Politics and Law, said there were many problems with the force’s present command system.

“It could trigger a crisis especially when there are conflicts between leadership of the government and the military,” he said.

The leadership of the armed police was reshuffled in 2014, when its commander and political commissar were replaced by officers from the People’s Liberation Army.

But Sun denied the proposal had anything to do with Zhou Yongkang, saying it was needed because the force was performing more ­duties.

Zhang Guibai, a member of the armed police force, said the current law was insufficient for the force.“A law amendment could help the force do a better job in maintaining social stability and protecting maritime rights.”

China urges U.S. cooperation to battle terrorism financing

December 15, 2015


A senior Chinese official urged the United States to work with China to combat terrorism financing, China’s central bank said on Tuesday, as the world’s two largest economies step up efforts against a global security threat.

During two days of talks in New York last week, China and the United States discussed combating terrorist financing, national risk assessments for money laundering and a Sino-U.S. anti-money laundering pact, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement on its website.

The meeting is the latest sign that China and the United States are improving bilateral cooperation to fight terrorism, despite major disagreements on a host of other issues.

Shared concern about Islamic State offers a rare convergence of security interests for Beijing and Washington, and a break from their more typical enmity on sensitive geopolitical issues, notably in the South China Sea and matters such as cyber spying.

“The two sides should, on the basis of mutual trust and mutual benefit, strengthen communication and coordination,” the statement quoted deputy central bank governor Guo Qingping as saying in his speech in New York.

Other aspects of cooperation he urged were safeguarding the interests of both countries’ financial institutions and actively promoting efforts against money laundering and terrorism financing, it added.

China says some Uighurs, a mainly Muslim people from its violence-prone far western region of Xinjiang, have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with militant groups there.

Last month, Islamic State said it had killed a Chinese hostage, prompting outrage in Beijing.

In September, the foreign ministry said China and the United States would improve cooperation on fighting militancy, including intelligence exchanges, and work together to bring peace to Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Cracking Terrorist Encryption: Can it Be Done? If So, How Fast? How Reliably?

December 10, 2015


Pictured: Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham

Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham renewed his calls on technology companies to give law enforcement entry into its encrypted information to fight terrorism. His message to Silicon Valley: “Change your business model tomorrow.”

Graham said encryption on consumer devices is leaving the U.S. vulnerable to attacks. He cited an incident from May of this year when two gunmen opened fire outside a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. The FBI argued encryption stymied the probe.

“One of the shooters in Texas … had 109 messages sent between him and a known terrorist overseas that we could not look at because of encryption,” Graham told Fox News’s Greta van Susteren. “There is technology available to terrorists where they can communicate without — even with a court order, they can communicate without us knowing. That has to change.”

Companies like Apple and Google have bolstered encryption on smartphones because of heightened consumer privacy concerns in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations that the government had been spying on its citizens. Graham said that’s a business decision.

“Here is my message to Silicon Valley,” Graham said. “Change your business model tomorrow.”

The senator’s challenge isn’t new, but the terror attacks in San Bernardino and Paris, just weeks apart, have heightened the rhetoric, with encryption coming to the forefront. Still, critics argue the tech industry itself has become a convenient political mark.

Apple, Google and Facebook have all been under mounting pressure to create backdoor keys that would allow law enforcement access to encrypted communications. The companies maintain that this change would make consumers vulnerable to hackers and cyber crime.

Apple changed its encryption policy in 2014 with the introduction of its iOS 8 mobile operating system for iPhones, iPads and iPod touch devices. The company began encrypting communications between its devices, so whenever a person uses iMessage or FaceTime, those messages are encrypted on the device in such a way that they can’t be accessed without a passcode — and Apple has no way to decrypt those messages.

Google offers similar encryption on mobile devices powered by its Android operating system.


FBI: Access to encrypted messages could help fight terrorism — But some experts call that “next to impossible”

December 10, 2015


FBI director James Comey is using a thwarted terrorist attack in Garland in May to make his case that the government needs access to encrypted internet communications.

“That morning before one of those terrorists left to try to commit mass murder he exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorist,” Comey told a senate committee Wednesday. “We have no idea what he said because those messages were encrypted.

“To this day I can’t tell you what he said because it was encrypted. That is a big problem.”

Police spotted and killed two gunmen when they arrived at a cartooning event featuring drawings of the prophet Muhammed.

Director Comey wants congress to push companies, like Google and others, to create back doors into the data so analysts can see encrypted messages if they have a court order. Comey said it’s a matter of changing the business model, not a technical problem.


FBI Director James Comey said the government needs access to encrypted messages to help fight terrorism. Experts don’t all agree. Jim Douglas reports.

TCU criminologist Michael Bachmann disagrees.

“It’s simply impossible. Technically, it’s impossible,” Dr. Bachmann said.

He said encryption technology is so sophisticated it can take years for current computers to decipher them. He added that encryption provides vital protection for corporate secrets, law enforcement, academics and journalists — virtually all commerce and correspondence.

“It’s vital to our democracy,” Bachmann said.

He said if data companies open back doors, then bad guy hackers will find their way in. And he points out that terrorists will find ways to encrypt anyway, without using western technology.

“Encryption is being developed in China, Russia, the middle east,” Bachmann said.

Former FBI counter-terrorism specialist Gamal Abdel-Hafiz sees it differently.

“The government has to have access,” he said. “We’re not asking for the key, just let us in with a court order. Let us see what is encrypted.”

Abdel-Hafiz recently retired from the FBI to start Gibraltar Security Consultants. He said so many terrorists are now so good at hiding communications, that any threat to confidentiality is outweighed by the need to know.

“I would like to lose confidentiality to keep us safe,” he said.


F.B.I. Chief Says Texas Gunman Used Encryption to Text Overseas Terrorist

The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said Wednesday that investigators could not read more than 100 text messages exchanged by one of the attackers in a shooting this year in Garland, Tex., because they were encrypted, adding fuel to law enforcement agencies’ contention that they need a way to circumvent commercially available encryption technology.

Mr. Comey, who two months ago appeared to have lost a battle inside the Obama administration over forcing companies like Apple and Google to give investigators a way to decode messages, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that one of the attackers “exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorist” the morning of the shooting.

“We have no idea what he said because those messages were encrypted,” Mr. Comey said. “And to this day, I can’t tell you what he said with that terrorist 109 times the morning of that attack. That is a big problem. We have to grapple with it.”

Read the rest:


Whitfield Diffie

For Renowned Cryptographer, Encryption Remains As Important As Ever

Whitfield Diffie may have helped lead a revolution in computer cryptography decades ago, but he still spends plenty of time worrying about the same questions: How safe are our digital communications? And what’s the next threat up around the bend?

For decades, Diffie has held a senior statesman position among those crypto specialists who work outside the military and the halls of the NSA. The 71-year-old spends some of his days at Stanford University now, where he is a consulting scholar for the Center for International Security and Cooperation. But the technology he helped developed — public key cryptography — underlies many Internet services in constant use around the world, and the encryption of online communications has once again become a hot topic after politicians raised fears about terrorist use of encrypted apps in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

These days, nearly 40 years after he and partner Martin Hellman published a paper describing their public key breakthrough, in which they built on the work of computer scientist Ralph Merkle, Diffie says he is as worried as ever about the threats to privacy and security in an ever-evolving online world.

“To my mind, the most critical thing is [that] our grand vulnerability is not to physical terrorism, but to a cyber attack on our critical infrastructure,” Diffie said in an interview with NBC News on Monday.

“There are half a dozen critical infrastructures: power, of course, gas and water, transportation, banking, communications,” Diffie said. “They’ve been growing up for a long time, and opponents who have real capability to survey these systems stand a chance of developing a technique for causing them to collapse.”

Read More: Paris Attack Could Renew Debate Over Encrypted Messaging Apps

Even with more people concerned about hacks in the aftermath of prominent breaches at Sony, Anthem and Target, among others, the sort of future threat Diffie envisions still isn’t the kind of thing most Americans worry about regularly. Far more topical, at least in recent months, has been the issue of whether terrorists are using encryption to hide from the watchful eyes of Western intelligence.

In the United States, officials from the director of the FBI to the Manhattan district attorney have pushed for a legal “backdoor” into encrypted devices and services, as tech companies including Google and Apple have set up their systems so that they don’t even have the keys to turn over should the cops come knocking.

On Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey told a Senate committee hearing that one of the Garland, Texas, shooters had exchanged 109 messages with an “overseas terrorist” before carrying out the attack, but that the messages couldn’t be read by investigators because they were encrypted.

Diffie, who spoke to NBC News before Comey’s remarks, doesn’t think it’s a good idea to limit the use of encryption just because it can be misused by a few.

“This is like saying, well, you know, cars are of use to bank robbers. This was at one time a very major thing,” he said. “Nobody ever took seriously at that time the notion that you should cut down the abilities of cars in order to solve one particular sort of crime.”

And while the men and women tasked with keeping Americans safe say they fear that encryption will help terrorists “go dark,” Diffie says that building in access for investigators will open a number of new and challenging questions. Diffie was one of 15 cryptography and computer experts who authored a 31-page report published in July in which they said that creating “exceptional access” for law enforcement would lead to “unanticipated, hard to detect security flaws.”

Read More: Encrypted Data is a Simple Idea Built on Some Pretty Complex Math

Those could include making it difficult to deny ally countries or other partners access to the “backdoors,” even if that was not the original intent, he said.

“If you think about building trapdoors into these things, there are several problems that come up. There have been people who’ve said — I think too carelessly — that basically, if you build a trapdoor into it, somebody else will discover it,” Diffie said. “I think what’s actually true is, if you build a trapdoor into it, you will not be able to not deny use of that trapdoor to other people. So you have other governments, maybe other kinds of entities, economically powerful, militarily powerful, the people you want favors from.”

“Once you have a capability, the basic thing that happens with it is you begin trading it with other people,” Diffie said. “And so it’s hard to see how that could ever be kept just to the U.S. government.”

NSA Surveillance Whistleblower Edward Snowden Outs Himself: Fed The Guardian, Washington Post

June 10, 2013

The source of a series of leaks that unveiled the true scale of the US surveillance state has publicly revealed himself as Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA officer.

NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden outs himself

‘I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,’ Mr Snowden told the Guardian Photo: Courtesy of the Guardian
Raf Sanchez

By , Washington and Chris Irvine

The Telegraph

Mr Snowden said he used his job as a defence contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) to access and copy classified documents on US spy programmes.

“I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he told the Guardian, the newspaper he leaked the files to. “I am not afraid, because this is the choice I’ve made,” he added.

He told the newspaper that he leaked the information as a matter of principle.

“The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to,” he said.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

Mr Snowden was stationed at an NSA office in Hawaii and told superiors three weeks ago he was going on leave to be treated for epilepsy when in fact he was headed to Hong Kong to begin making the documents public.

He left behind a girlfriend in Hawaii, who has already been contacted by NSA police and other law enforcement, although he believes this may be because of his absence from work, rather than any connection to the leaks. He remained hidden in a luxury hotel and covered himself and his computer in a hood out of fear of secret cameras. He has been in Hong Kong ever since. He chose Hong Kong because the city has “a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent,” while he also believes it is one of the few places in the world that might resist the American government.

Nonetheless, he said he could become the subject of an extradition process, or the Chinese could pick him up for questioning. The CIA could even render him, he suggested. He said he hoped he could claim political asylum in a country such as Iceland.

Regarding his future, Mr Snowden said he expects to be charged by the US but said he acted to “inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

A former army veteran, Mr Snowden, who was born in North Carolina and moved to Maryland, said he feared the “harmful effects” his actions might have on his family. “That’s what keeps me up at night,” he said.

Mr Snowden’s public outing came as the White House confirmed that the hunt for the stories’ source was in its early stages. Members of Congress have called for the leaker to be caught and prosecuted.

James Clapper, the US’s most senior intelligence official, said the stories were “reckless disclosures of intelligence community measures used to keep Americans safe”.

Publicly disclosing that the US was tracking hundreds of millions of domestic phone calls and harvesting online data about foreigners could give “our enemies a ‘playbook’ of how to avoid detection”, he added.

Hours after Mr Snowden outed himself, a US Justice Department spokesman said it was in the initial stages of a criminal investigation into the unauthorised disclosure of secret information following leaks that revealed the extent of US surveillance. The White House declined to comment.

While many senior Democrats and Republicans continued to defend the White House, a leading senator of President Barack Obama’s own party questioned claims that the programmes were necessary to thwart terrorist attacks on the US.