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A one-two punch for the president, and three

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — Cohen and Manafort, drones & CBRN, and when wave fronts meet at Big Sur and elsewhere ]
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NY Times email, Wednesday:

A one-two punch, two wave fronts crashing / clashing, wave upon wave — but how to represent such things graphically, to model them, to open our too-literal minds to their complexity?

**
Here’s an example of two dangerous waves overlapping on the world stage, world scale:

One:

Bunker, Sullivan &c on the drone attack in Baja, Small Wars Journal:

On Tuesday, 10 July 2018, an armed drone targeted the residence of Gerardo Sosa Olachea, the public safety secretary/Secretario de Seguridad Pública Estalal (SSPE) of Baja California, in colonia Los Laureles in Tecate—a border city in the San Diego-Tijuana etropolitan area. A second drone, which may have been utilized for ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and C2 purposes, was seen over the incident scene. At least one of the drones was equipped with a video camera link and was armed with two IEDs that did not detonate. For a number of international security professionals tracking cartel and gang violence in Mexico—including the authors of this note—an incident like this has been expected for some time now, given the earlier I&W (Indications & Warnings) event that took place in Guanajunto state in October 2017 when a weaponized drone was seized from Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) operatives.

Now think of ricin delivery by drone..

Two:

Daniel Koehler, Mapping Far-right Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Terrorism Efforts in the West:

The threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism is widely attributed to collective actors based on a religious ideology, e.g. globally operating Salafi-jihadist groups like al-Qaeda or ISIL. Only limited attention has been given to the CBRN threat of violent domestic extremists in general or far-right terrorists specifically. Nevertheless, a number of incidents involving far-right activists and CBRN agents in Western countries are known to the public, even though these have had comparatively little impact on public threat perception. This study systematically collected public information about far-right CBRN incidents to identify their main characteristics. The authors were able to identify 31 incidents in Western countries since 1970, which display features contrary to generally assumed forms of CBRN terrorism. Far-right CBRN terrorism appears to be predominantly a lone-actor phenomenon oftentimes involving middle-aged and comparatively well-educated male perpetrators, mostly motivated by non-religious forms of far-right ideology (i.e. neo-Nazism, non-religious white supremacism) and indiscriminately targeting victims. Overall, far-right actors attempting to weaponize CBRN agents have been few and generally technically inept. However, the characteristics of the plots pose potential challenges for effective counter-measures and intervention, should the number of actors or the technical sophistication of plots increase in the future.

Consider the overlap of those two very current waves — and there are others, at all scales, up and down the metaphorical coast of risk

Then think Aum Shinrikyo, as an example of a non-state religious sect utilising sarin gas in an attack in Tokyo:

The 1995 Aum Shinrikyo attack on the Tokyo subway system was a seminal event in the history of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons. It marked the first major use of a Chemical weapon by a non-state actor that received widespread worldwide attention, and led to efforts to combat the threat of CBRN terrorism around the world.

**

Out there in Manafort > Cohen > Manafort wave land, there are two waves whose wavefronts met and clashed (“mutually reinforced”) yesterday, with a third wave following up behind the first, and more, wave upon wave, body blow upon body blow.. I don’t have the graphical skills to represent this, but multiple wave fronts intersecting would be a useful model to have depicted — and not unlike waves clashing at Big Sur.. where such things are multiplied and magnificent ..

— not unlike clashing waves at Big Sur..

For the Cohen and Manafort wavefronts and their possible combined implications, readings from this morning’s Washington DC post:

  • WaPo, After two convictions, pressure mounts on Trump
  • WaPo, Manafort convicted on 8 counts; mistrial declared on 10 others
  • WaPo, Michael Cohen: Trump’s greatest fear comes true
  • WaPo, Michael Cohen says he worked to silence two women ‘in coordination’ with Trump
  • WaPo, Cohen’s claim about Trump may spark calls for impeachment
  • WaPo, Manafort’s verdict and Cohen’s plea gave Trump his worst day so far
  • WaPo, ‘Doesn’t involve me’: Trump tries to distance himself from Cohen, Manafort cases
  • The Post’s View, Twin convictions are a stunning rebuke of Trump
  • Also, from the New York sister city and publication:

  • NY Times, Trump, Cohen and Manafort: What’s Next?
  • Oh, and btw:

  • The Atlantic, Christopher Steele’s Victory in a D.C. Court
  • The Hill, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders want Cohen to testify
  • **

    — not unlike clashing waves at Big Sur ..

    terrific photo from Teresa Espaniola Gallery

    .. up and down the metaphorical coast of risk ..

    Follow Up on MS-13

    Saturday, January 20th, 2018

    [Mark Safranski / “zen“]

    Quick follow up to MS-13 Murder or Blood Sacrifice? SWJ on 3rd Generation Gangs at SWJ sent to me by Dr. Robert Bunker:

    Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 8: Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) Links to Occult Rituals and Santa Muerte Veneration or Worship

    Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan

    Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) as a street gang—as well as a group with prison gang attributes in Central America—has greatly evolved over the course of the last four decades. Starting out as a Los Angeles ‘stoner gang’ (Mara Salvatrucha Stoners—MSS), it then was directly influenced by the brutality of the El Salvadoran civil war with an influx of new members (losing the second S in the gang name in the process), became a vassal of the Mexican Mafia (with the addition of the 13 to its name—MS-13), was increasingly influenced by the Mexican cartels, and finally has come under the sway of darker Santa Muerte influences. Beyond its journey from a local street to a transnational power-seeking gang, the overlapping ideological themes and cultural narratives underlying Mara Salvatrucha’s evolution have been built upon a foundation of Satanism, occultism, brutality and torture, and rampant criminality. While some gang cliques and their members are still primarily secular in their orientation and view Satanism and occultism from more of an ideological perspective many others embrace a violent magico-religious cosmology in a sense becoming ‘true believers’ that now adhere to amoral or even evil spiritual values that invite sacrifice and torture….

    Read the rest here

    Also a recommendation – read Sam Logan’s  This is For the Mara Salvatrucha

    MS-13 Murder or Blood Sacrifice? SWJ on 3rd Generation Gangs

    Friday, January 12th, 2018

    [Mark Safranski / “zen“]

     

    John Sullivan and Dr. Robert Bunker have some analysis up at Small Wars Journal regarding a grisly, ritualistic, gang murder in Maryland by MS-13 which squares with the underground narco-cult atrocities detailed in Narcos over the Border and Blood Sacrifices: Violent Non-state Actors and Dark Magico-Religious Activities:

    Third Generation Gangs Strategic Note No. 7: Suspect in Brutal Montgomery County, MD Beheading and Dismemberment Arrested—Suspected MS-13 Nexus

    Police in the Washington, DC suburb of Montgomery County, MD have arrested a suspect in the brutal gang murder of a still unidentified man whose body was found in a pre-dug grave in a park in Wheaton.  The victim was stabbed over 100 times, beheaded, and his heart was cut out of his body.  The suspect is an alleged member of Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and was arrested during a US Marshals Service raid on MS-13 fugitives in North Carolina and extradited to Maryland where he was charged with first-degree murder. 

    Key Information: Jack Moore, “Suspected MS-13 member charged with murder in grisly decapitation, dismemberment.” WTOP. 22 November 2017,  https://wtop.com/montgomery-county/2017/11/suspect-charged-stabbing-death-wheaton-park/:
    WASHINGTON — Gory details are emerging in the gang killing of a man who was stabbed more than 100 times, decapitated and had his heart cut out of his chest before being dumped in a pre-dug grave in a Montgomery County park.
    Police have still not identified the man whose body was discovered Sept. 5 in a wooded area of Wheaton Regional park. But one of the MS-13 gang members who’s suspected of taking part in the grisly slaying has now been charged with first-degree murder.
    Miguel Lopez-Abrego, 19, appeared in Montgomery County District Court Wednesday and was ordered held without bond.
    Lopez-Abrego, was one of 10 members of the violent street gang involved in the killing, according to a police informant identified in charging documents as a “ranking member” of a local MS-13 clique…

    ….The brutal murder of the unidentified suspect buried in a shallow grave in Wheaton Regional Park by alleged members of a local MS-13 ‘clique’ fits a pattern of recent brutal murders in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area/National Capital Region.  In the attacks detailed above, a victim is lured to a desolate location, brutally beaten, stabbed, and in the case of the Wheaton Park murder, beheaded and dismembered.  These attacks are consistent with MS-13 ‘enforcement’ actions. It is likely the victim in this case crossed the gang in some still to be disclosed manner. The modus operandi employed is similar to other cases where the victim was viewed as a traitor or a ‘snitch’ against the clique in specific and MS-13 in general.  The victim’s dark blue shorts—which represent an MS-13 color—and certain personal characteristics may lead additional credence to such possibilities. 
    Such attacks are essentially symbolic violence, utilized to show what happens to those that rat on the gang or disrespect its leaders. This attack lacks a specific ritual purpose beyond that of control—after all, the MS-13’s motto is ‘Mata, Controla, Viola’ (Kill, Control, Rape).[14]  It is unknown at this time how this murder is linked to the other three murders that occurred in recent months in Maryland, but it is possible an internal power struggle is involved. It is also unknown if this (or these) attack(s) are centrally directed or linked with MS-13 clicas (cliques) elsewhere.

    Read the rest here.

    MS-13 has mutated from a simple street gang thirty years ago to a decentralized transnational criminal organization that in turn will work for or join with the more powerful Mexican drug cartels, amplifying their influence and capabilities. For example, MS-13, which is heavily involved in human trafficking and contract killings for the Sinaloa Cartel, is considered by Texas authorities to be a ‘Tier 1″threat on par with much larger and more sophisticated gangs like the prison based Mexican Mafia, Tango Blast and the Texas Syndicate. MS-13 has also contributed to the renewed destabilization and erosion of democracy of El Salvador, which has unleashed its Army and death squads against the gangs, while the gangs have begun to infiltrate the Army.

    What is also worrisome, which the case described by Sullivan and Bunker indicate, is the degree to which MS-13 has picked up and is internalizing the ISIS-like, narco-cult ritualistic violence of the Mexican Cartels with decapitations, torture murders and sacrificial removal of human organs and is now employing them north of the border, a stone’s throw from our nation’s capitol. If allowed to continue this kind of ultraviolence is likely to be mirrored by other street gangs.

     

    Skulls & Human Sacrifice: Bunker and Sullivan on Societal Warfare at SWJ

    Monday, May 23rd, 2011

     

    Altars to Santa Muerte, “Saint Death” to the poor and the narcocultos

    SWJ has been en fuego the last few days and this is the first of several that I recommend that readers give close attention.

    Dr. Robert J. Bunker and Lt. John Sulivan are indicating that the canary in the coal mine phase of Mexico’s narco-insurgency has passed. Mexican society is entering a new and more dangerous period of accelerating cultural devolution. Nacro-insurgent violence has shifted from the economically motivated and brutally instrumental of organized crime syndicates everywhere to culturally totemic and ghastly ceremonials out of tribal prehistory:

    Extreme Barbarism, a Death Cult, and Holy Warriors in Mexico: Societal Warfare South of the Border? by Dr. Robert J. Bunker and John P. Sullivan

    …Our impression is that what is now taking place in Mexico has for some time gone way beyond secular and criminal (economic) activities as defined by traditional organized crime studies.3 In fact, the intensity of change may indeed be increasing. Not only have de facto political elements come to the fore-i.e., when a cartel takes over an entire city or town, they have no choice but to take over political functions formerly administered by the local government- but social (narcocultura) and religious/spiritual (narcocultos) characteristics are now making themselves more pronounced. What we are likely witnessing is Mexican society starting to not only unravel but to go to war with itself. The bonds and relationships that hold that society together are fraying, unraveling, and, in some instances, the polarity is reversing itself with trust being replaced by mistrust and suspicion. Traditional Mexican values and competing criminal value systems are engaged in a brutal contest over the ?hearts, minds, and souls‘ of its citizens in a street-by-street, block-by-block, and city-by-city war over the future social and political organization of Mexico. Environmental modification is taking place in some urban centers and rural outposts as deviant norms replace traditional ones and the younger generation fully accepts a criminal value system as their baseline of behavior because they have known no other. The continuing incidents of ever increasing barbarism-some would call this a manifestation of evil even if secularly motivated-and the growing popularity of a death cult are but two examples of this clash of values. Additionally, the early rise of what appears to be cartel holy warriors may now also be taking place. While extreme barbarism, death cults, and possibly now holy warriors found in the Mexican cartel wars are still somewhat the exception rather than the rule, each of these trends is extremely alarming, and will be touched upon in turn.

    Read the rest here.

    Some of the anecdotes in this article read like the climax scenes of Apocalypse Now in the Cambodian lair of Marlon Brando’s insane Colonel Kurtz or a bloody reverie of Hannibal Lecter. While the scale is not the same, the mad cruelty equals anything seen in the eastern Congo and seems to surpass everywhere else.

    Book Review: Narcos Over the Border by Robert J. Bunker (Ed.)

    Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

    Narcos Over the Border: Gangs, Cartels and Mercenaries by Dr. Robert J. Bunker (Ed.)I just finished my review copy of Narcos Over the Border. It is one of the more disturbing academic works recently published in the national security field, not excluding even those monographs dealing with Islamist terrorism and Pakistan. If the authors of this granular examination of Mexico’s immense problems with warring narco-cartels, mercenary assassins, systemic corruption, 3rd generation gangs and emerging “Narcocultas”of Santa Muerte are correct – and I suspect they are – Mexico’s creeping path toward state failure reprsents a threat to American national security of the first order.

    The 237 page, heavily footnoted, book is organized into three sections: Organization and Technology Use by the narcos networks, Silver or Lead on their carrot and stick infiltration/intimidation of civil society and the state apparatus, and Response Strategies for the opponents of the cartels. Bunker’s co-authors Matt Begert, Pamela Bunker, Lisa Campbell, Paul Kan, Alberto Melis, Luz Nagle, John Sullivan, Graham Turbiville, Jr., Phil Wiliams and Sarah Womer bring an array of critical perspectives to the table from academia, law enforcement, intelligence, defense and security fields as researchers and practitioners. The effort to blend disciplinary approaches in Narcos Over the Border is both an intentional and commendable effort to break down academic and policy silos and bureaucratic “turf” perspectives that prevent analyzing Mexico’s security dilemmas as an interrelated threat increasingly resembling a full-fledged insurgency (albeit not on the classic Maoist Model).Some impressions I gained from reading Narcos Over the Border include:

    • The Narco-Cartels and the Zetas, which fight each other as well as Mexico’s military ( Mexican police generally are infiltrated, intimidated, outgunned and seriously outclassed by the Cartel gunmen, Zetas and Guatemalan Kaibiles) are better armed and better trained than are the Taliban. The deadly and efficient Zetas and Kaibiles are superior to regular Mexican military forces and have established safe haven training camps in Central America.
    • Narco-cartels are properly speaking, no longer narco-cartels but transnational criminal syndicates involved in a wider array of revenue generating activities, but with professional intelligence and military capabilities, and increasingly, political, social and religious agendas that are functionally reminiscient of Hezbollah and HAMAS.
    • The Mexican state is severely hampered in it’s response to the threat presented by the cartels by it’s own strategic use of corruption as a cost saving measure and a tool for sustaining elite control of Mexican politics, as well as a method of personal enrichment by members of Mexico’s ruling class.
    • The eschewing of the extreme violence by the cartels North of the border appears to be more of a sign of a strategic policy by cartel and Zeta bosses than a lack of capacity or evidence of a lack of infiltration into American society. To the contrary, Mexican cartel links to acutely dangerous American prison and street gangs such as the Mexican Mafia and MS-13 are significant and well documented.
    • The cartels are global, not regional or local operators.
    • The culture of the Narco-cartels, which draws on some romantic Mexican social and religious underground traditions, particularly the hybrid cartel La Familia , is morphing into a very dangerous “Narcocultas”, a neo-pagan, folk religion featuring ritualistic violence, beheadings and torture-murders carried out for reasons other than economic competition.
    • Mexico has departed the realm of having a serious law enforcement problem and has graduated to a significant counterinsurgency war against the cartels in which the Mexican state is treading water or making progress against some cartels (possibly displacing their activities to weaker states in Central America).

    The authors do not assume the worst case scenario, state collapse, for Mexico but rather an insidious “hollowing out” of the state by the cartels and a mutation of Mexico’s native culture to host a 4GW nightmare. As Robert Bunker writes:

    What is proposed here is that Mexico is not on it’s way to becoming a “rotting corpse” but potentially something far worse – akin to a body infected by a malicious virus. Already, wide swaths of Mexico have been lost to the corrupting forces and violence generated by local gangs, cartels and mercenaries. Such narco-corruption faced few bariers given the fertile ground already existing in Mexico derived from endemic governmental corruption at all levels of society and in some ways, it even further aided the ‘virus’ spreading through Mexican society from this new infection. Among it’s other symptoms, it spreads values at variance with traditional society, including those:

    ….conceivably derived from norms based on slaveholding, illicit drug use, sexual activity with minors and their exploitation in prostitution, torture and beheadings, the farming of humans for body parts, the killing of innocents for political gain and personal gratification and the desecration of the dead.

    While meticulous, Narcos Over the Border is not all-encompassing in scope.  A fundamentally Mexico-centric collection of scholarly articles, it does not deal extensively with American policy makers involved in Mexico’s narco-insurgency, the intricacies of cartel financial operations or undertake case studies of narco activities in Mexican-American communities, though the authors do track narco-cartel and gang presence in cyberspace. Narcos Over the Borders represents a starting point for deeper investigation of narco-insurgency and for a national security comunity that has thus far treated Mexico as a third tier problem, a policy call to arms.Strongly recommended.


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