Tag Archives: National Security Agency

Combat Missiles Heading to US Found in Passenger Aircraft in Serbia

Serbian authorities have started an investigation into reports that two air-to-surface missiles, presumably destined for the US, were found in a passenger aircraft.

According to Serbian news agency Tanjug, Air Serbia, the largest air Serbian carrier, has confirmed that an undisclosed “package” was discovered by a sniffer dog aboard a passenger aircraft, “thanks to the strict measures of security control”.

“We confirm that a package that headed towards a remote destination was found earlier this day in Belgrade airport, thanks to the strict measures of security control… The air carried assists investigation, security and reliability — are Air Serbia’s top priorities,” Tanjug cites.

Earlier in the day, Serbian media reported two combat missiles, each 1.5m long were discovered aboard the aircraft in Belgrade Nikola Tesla airport. The missiles were reportedly packaged in a wooden case and provided with documents that listed Portland, Oregon as its destination.

The missiles are presumably AGM-114 Hellfire, a universal precision missile that can be fired from ground, maritime or air platform, including predator strike drones. Each missile costs $110,000 and is capable of covering up to 8 kilometers at a speed of 1.3 Mach.

 

 

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North Korea Fires Two Ballistic Missiles Off Country’s East Coast – Reports

Following the implementation of harsh new sanctions, North Korea has reportedly launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea for a second time, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

The missiles were fired from the city of Wonsan, where similar launches have occurred, and sources indicate that the projectiles flew a distance of approximately 300 miles.

“The military is keeping close tabs on the situation and prepared to deal with any North Korean provocations,” South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claimed that Pyongyang is in possession of miniaturized nuclear warheads.

“The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them,” Kim said, according to KCNA, adding “this can be called a true nuclear deterrent.”

This week, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a strong condemnation of North Korea’s threat to use preventive strikes.

“In particular, we consider public statements with threats of carrying out some ‘preventive nuclear attacks’ against one’s opponents completely unacceptable,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry reads. “Pyongyang must understand that North Korea completely sets itself against the international community, provides the international legal basis for the use of military force against it.”

Pyongyang has also expressed outrage over joint military drills between Washington and Seoul. The largest ever conducted, the exercises are meant to mimic a hypothetical invasion of North Korea

The UN imposed new sanctions — the harshest in 20 years — against Pyongyang last week over nuclear tests conducted earlier this year. The DPRK also launched a satellite in February which the UN deemed a veiled attempt to demonstrate its ballistic missile capabilities.

Hours after those new penalties were put in place, North Korea fired short-range missiles into the ocean.

Hacker ‘Guccifer,’ who uncovered Clinton’s private emails, to be extradited to US

Marcel Lazar Lehel, aka Guccifer, is escorted by masked policemen in Bucharest after his arrest in 2014.

Guccifer, the infamous Romanian hacker who accessed emails of celebrities and top US officials, will be extradited to the United States, after losing a case in his home country’s top court.

Reuters reports that Lehel will come to the US under an 18-month extradition order, following a request made by the US authorities. Details of the extradition have not been made public, however.

Marcel Lehel, a 42-year-old hacker better known by his pseudonym “Guccifer,” achieved notoriety when he released an email with images of paintings by former President George W. Bush, including a self-portrait in a bathtub. He also hacked and published emails from celebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Steve Martin and Mariel Hemingway.

Also released were emails between former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Corina Cretu, a Romanian member of European Parliament, prompting Powell to deny that the two had had an affair.

Perhaps most notably, Lehel was also the first source to uncover Hillary Clinton’s improper use of a private email account while she was Secretary of State, which the FBI is investigating as a potential danger to national security.

In March 2013, the hacker released to RT and several other news outlets the four memos that had been sent to Clinton from her former political adviser Sidney Blumenthal. The memos contain information regarding the September 11, 2012 attacks on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, as well as the January 2013 hostage crisis in In Amenas, Algeria.

Lehel was indicted by the Department of Justice in 2014 on charges of wire fraud, unauthorized access to a protected computer, cyberstalking, aggravated identity theft and obstruction of justice.

In 2014 a Romanian court sentenced to four years in jail for hacking into the accounts of the country’s public figures “with the aim of getting… confidential data” as well as violating his parole. He is serving three years on top of that for other hacking-related offenses. After his extradition to the US, Lehel will return to Romania to serve out his sentences there.

The Romanian national, who goes by the pseudonym “Small Fume” in addition to Guccifer, is an unemployed taxi driver and paint salesman, and he says that he accessed the emails by using social engineering methods that included guessing the answers to security questions to access various accounts.

“I don’t oppose. I go there to United States to fight. I know what I did and this is okay with me,” Guccifer said in February to The Smoking Gun, where he published many of the documents he found.

Prosecutors have said that Lehel has a “compulsive need to be famous,” according to The Register.

 

North Korea’s Kim says country has miniaturized nuclear warhead

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country has miniaturized nuclear warheads to be mounted on ballistic missiles and ordered improvements in the power and precision of its arsenal, its state media reported on Wednesday.

Kim has called for his military to be prepared to mount pre-emptive attacks against the United States and South Korea and stand ready to use nuclear weapons, stepping up belligerent rhetoric after coming under new U.N. and bilateral sanctions.

U.S. and South Korean troops began large-scale military drills this week, which the North calls “nuclear war moves” and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

Kim’s comments released on Wednesday were his first direct mention of the claim, previously made repeatedly in state media, to have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to be mounted on a ballistic missile, which is widely questioned.

“The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them,” KCNA quoted him as saying as he inspected the work of nuclear workers, adding “this can be called true nuclear deterrent.”

“He stressed the importance of building ever more powerful, precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and their delivery means,” KCNA said.

Kim also inspected the nuclear warheads designed for thermo-nuclear reaction, KCNA said, referring to a hydrogen bomb that the country claimed to have tested in January.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 claiming to have set off a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, which was disputed by many experts and the governments of South Korea and the United States. The blast detected from the test was simply too small to back up the claim, experts said at the time.

The U.N. Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on the isolated state last week for the nuclear test. It launched a long-range rocket in February drawing international criticism and sanctions from its rival, South Korea.

On Tuesday South Korea announced further measures aimed at isolating the North by blacklisting individuals and entities that it said were linked to Pyongyang’s weapons program.

China also stepped up pressure on the North by barring one of the 31 ships on its transport ministry’s blacklist.

But a U.N. panel set up to monitor sanctions under an earlier Security Council resolution adopted in 2009 said in a report released on Tuesday that it had “serious questions about the efficacy of the current United Nations sanctions regime.”

North Korea has been “effective in evading sanctions” by continuing to engage in banned trade, “facilitated by the low level of implementation of Security Council resolutions by Member States,” the Panel of Experts said.

“The reasons are diverse, but include lack of political will, inadequate enabling legislation, lack of understanding of the resolutions and low prioritization,” it said, referring to the incomplete enforcement of sanctions.

 

 

‘Unusual event’: Oconee nuclear reactor shut down after transformer explosion & fire

One of the reactors at the Oconee Nuclear Station has been shut down after a series of explosions and a fire damaged a transformed on site. The operator declared the incident “unusual” but emphasized there was no threat of radiation release.

Emergency crews deployed at the scene have managed to contain the fire, and will remain at the scene to assist crews. Oconee Nuclear Station is a nuclear power plant located on Lake Keowee near Seneca, South Carolina.

“Unit #1 was shut down as a precaution,” Oconee County Emergency Management said in a statement. “There is NO POTENTIAL FOR RELEASE.”

The plant operator Duke Energy said that while “Unit 1 has been safely shutdown” the remaining “Units 2 and 3 continue to operate safely.”

Officials blamed the “unusual event” on electrical equipment failure inside a transformer they say was located outside the building.

Authorities urged the public stay away from the area as emergency personnel and Duke Energy staff work around the area. However they emphasized that there was no security risk that would require evacuations or traffic detours.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

he transformer malfunctioned and caught fire at 3:20pm local time, and the “unusual event” was upgraded to an “alert” – a second level of emergency – at 4:58pm, according to the company.

Incidents falling to “alert” classification require outside interference from emergency services but pose “no threat to public safety,” the company explained.

The 15-by-12 foot transformer had been burning for approximately 30 minutes before fire crews and Oconee County Fire units responded, WYFF4 reports.

The intense flames and thick black smoke coming out of the transformer which was seen by many witnesses was reportedly due to the oil that was inside.

The blaze was completely extinguished with the help of local fire brigades, and had “no impact” on plant employees or the facility’s neighbors, while customers are not expected to suffer any power outages.

The operator announced it will be conducting a thorough investigation of the cause of the incident at an aging plant located on Lake Keowee that began operations in 1973.

Oconee is one of the largest nuclear power plants in the US with a capacity of some 2,600 megawatts and is the second to have its operating license extended for an additional twenty years.

This is the End: Outer Space Comets Could Destroy Humanity

Astronomers warn that a threat from outer space is more possible than expected, and the sudden end of humanity may be caused not by climate change or space rocks regularly sailing by the Earth, but by a random escapee from the huge distant space bodies orbiting in the Oort Cloud, far beyond Neptune, currently the most distant planet from our Sun.

Centaurs, massive space rocks orbiting on the outskirts of our Solar System, could be very hazardous to the Earth, a group of astronomers said Tuesday, as reported by Phys.org.

These space bodies, composed of ice and dust, and being up to some 50-100 kilometers wide, were discovered several decades ago. Astronomers state that centaurs should be counted as a greater threat than comets, as the “assessment of the extraterrestrial impact risk, based solely on near-Earth asteroid counts, underestimates its nature and magnitude.”

Bill Napier, an astronomer from the University of Buckingham, said that scientists have been thoroughly analyzing the possibility of a collision between the Earth and asteroids for the last 30 years, and have included distant celestial bodies, including centaurs.

“If we are right, then these distant comets could be a serious hazard, and it’s time to understand them better,” Napier claimed.

The centaurs’ orbits, believed to be extremely unstable, cross inside the orbits of enormous gas giants like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, about once every 40,000-100,000 years. When it happens, scientists say, the planets’ powerful gravity fields can deflect the centaurs toward the Sun.

On their way to the Sun asteroids begin to fracture, ultimately turning into cometary debris which makes “impacts on our planet inevitable.” Individual centaurs, they point out, can have an estimated mass higher than that of all the comets documented to date.

“The disintegration of such giant comets would produce intermittent but prolonged periods of bombardment lasting up to 100,000 years,” researchers wrote in Astronomy and Geophysics, the journal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

If comet debris enters the Earth’s atmosphere, astronomers suggest, it would cause a heavy meteor shower and trigger dramatic climate change, threatening life on the planet.

“A centaur arrival carries the risk of injecting, into the atmosphere… a mass of dust and smoke comparable to that assumed in nuclear winter studies,” scientists said.

Under that scenario, humanity would follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs, believed to have died out as a result of an asteroid strike. And despite that there is no proof that a collision is imminent, “its ranking among natural existential risks [for humanity] appears to be high,” some astronomers suggested.

French Security Agency Thwarts Terror Attack in Orleans – Interior Minister

The French General Directorate for Internal Security foiled a terrorist attack on police officers in the central French city of Orleans, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Tuesday.

PARIS (Sputnik) – As a result of an investigation, which lasted for several months, two suspects were detained last week in the French north-central city of Orleans, the minister said, according to Europe 1 radio station.

Both suspects had been in contact with a French national who is currently in Syria, he added.

The suspected plotters of the attack are described by the Europe 1 radio station as young men aged 24 and 25, originating from Morocco and Togo respectively.

It is the tenth terrorist attack that was prevented by the French intelligence agencies within two years.

France has recently beefed up security and started active nationwide searches for Islamist jihadists and terror acts’ masterminds in the wake of the deadly November 13 attacks in Paris that claimed lives of 130 people.

 

Russian Missile Forces to Launch Iskander-M From Range Near Caspian Sea

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The Iskander-M missiles have been launched from Russian Kapustin Yar Range near the city of Astrakhan, according to the Russian Defense Ministry’s Southern Military District’s press service.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russian Missile Forces will launch live-fire Iskander-M missiles from its Kapustin Yar Range near the city of Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Southern Military District’s press service announced Wednesday.

“During the exercise, the missile troops will develop the delivery of missile strikes at a group of conditional military troops and various ground targets and infrastructures located at a distance of up to 300 kilometers [186 miles],” the press service said in a statement.

 

Syrian Army Gains Control Over Key Point in Latakia Near Turkish Border

The Syrian army has gained control over strategic point in Latakia near Turkish border with the assitance of people’s militia, military source told RIA Novosti.

The Syrian army has regained strategic point near Al-Nusra Front HQ in Salma (Northern Latakia), located 12 km away from Turkish border.

“After all of the terrorists and their strongholds were destroyed, the army, which was supported by National Defense Forces regained control over the strategic al-Nuba mountain in Northern Latakia,” the source said.Retaking al-Nuba will enable the Syrian Army to control three approaches to the city of Salma: from the west, south and east. To the north of Salma, the border with Turkey remains uncontrolled.

Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with the government fighting against numerous opposition factions and extremist groups such as the Daesh (ISIL/ISIS).

 

30 dead, 20 injured in cutthroat Boko Haram attack in Nigeria

Boko Haram militants attacked three villages in northeast Nigeria, killing 30 people and injuring 20, AFP reported, citing a local who is helping out the national army. The Islamists reportedly used machetes to “slaughter” their victims.

“Most of the victims were slaughtered and most of the wounded [had suffered] machete cuts,” said Mustapha Karimbe, a civilian who has been helping the Nigerian national military fight Boko Haram.

The attacks on the three villages – Warwara, Mangari and Bura-Shika – happened on Saturday. All of the villages are located in the state of Borno, near Buratai, which is the hometown of Nigeria’s highest military chief – Tukur Yusuf Buratai.

Details of the attack are coming to light only now, as communication posts had been damaged in previous Boko Haram attacks.

Most of the victims, a total of 20, were killed in Warwara village, another six were murdered in Bura-Shika, and four died in Mangari, according to another witness.

The Nigeria-based Boko Haram terrorist group has killed more people than Islamic State (IS, previously ISIS/ISIL), claiming 6,644 lives compared to 6,073 killed by IS, revealed the Global Terrorism Index recently published by the Institute for Economic and Peace (IEP). The Nigerian jihadists pledged allegiance to IS in March 2015.

This latest attack comes as Boko Haram fighters have intensified their attacks on Buratai and nearby settlements. Attackers usually come into a village, raid it, and burn it down.

Locals told AFP that they see the attacks as retaliation for the army chief’s ongoing fight against Boko Haram militants.

The radical terror group’s six-year insurgency, which aims to create an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria, has left over 17,000 people dead.

Last week, Boko Haram brutally killed 14 people in the village of Kamuya, which is the hometown of the mother of Nigeria’s army chief.