Inkerman Insights on Global Business Threat and Vulnerability

REPRESSION, SUPPRESSION AND MARGINALISATION: WAS THE GROZNY ATTACK INEVITABLE?

REPRESSION, SUPPRESSION AND MARGINALISATION: WAS THE GROZNY ATTACK INEVITABLE?

Although regional attention has of late been focused elsewhere, particularly on the ongoing insurgency in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s longstanding conflict within its own borders was again highlighted recently, when a group of Islamist militants launched a major attack in the Chechen capital of Grozny in December 2014. Despite the high number of casualties, the incident prompted “little more than a flicker of international interest” compared to shootings at the Charlie Hedbo offices in Paris and the subsequent hostage dramas. However, the attack was the most serious Islamist insurgent event in the Chechnya in recent memory. It has stoked fears that there could be a potential return to the high levels of violence seen in Chechnya in years past, particularly as ever-more radicalised North Caucasian Islamists return to their homelands from fighting with groups like the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq.

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CHARLIE HEBDO SUSPECTS SURROUNDED IN PICARDY WAREHOUSE AFTER TAKING HOSTAGES CLOSE TO N2 AND CHARLES DE GAULE AIRPORT

CHARLIE HEBDO SUSPECTS SURROUNDED IN PICARDY WAREHOUSE AFTER TAKING HOSTAGES CLOSE TO N2 AND CHARLES DE GAULE AIRPORT

This blog post focuses on the breaking hostage situation on 09 January 2015, linked to the aftermath of Charlie Hebdo terror attack on 07 January 2015, the worst in France in fifty years. It illustrates a snapshot of just one of today’s reported incidents pertaining to Kidnap and Ransom (K&R) risk globally. This is reported each weekday by The Inkerman Group’s Corporate Intelligence cell. Kidnap is an incredibly complex issue, with a host of factors contributing to the likelihood of incidents, from corruption, to the strength of state institutions, to economic conditions to sectarian or tribal allegiances. In order to aid companies in wading through the plethora of information which must be assimilated when establishing the risk to personnel, The Inkerman Group provides daily and monthly kidnap reports written by our expert analysts and informed by the experience of our in country teams and kidnap responders. For further information about our niche kidnap threat mitigation and trend services reporting please contact alice.boyes@inkerman.com.

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SONY CYBER ATTACK: FROM UNSUBSTANTIATED ALLEGATIONS TO CYBER WAR ONE?

SONY CYBER ATTACK: FROM UNSUBSTANTIATED ALLEGATIONS TO CYBER WAR ONE?

For the last few weeks, the recent cyber attack against Sony has been the focus of media outlets. The attack itself and the revelations that have followed have caused outrage and surprise, and the continuously developing story has revealed a considerable amount of interesting information, along with bizarre revelations.

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STABBINGS AND SHOOTINGS IN SAUDI AND THE UAE: A RAISED TERRORIST THREAT TO WESTERNERS?

STABBINGS AND SHOOTINGS IN SAUDI AND THE UAE: A RAISED TERRORIST THREAT TO WESTERNERS?

On 17 December 2014, Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, a UAE security official, announced that “security in the Gulf will continue to be immune to the events surrounding it”. Despite this reassurance, two recent instances of terrorism in Saudi Arabia and the UAE suggest that the threat of jihadist violence is now spreading to parts of the Middle East which are usually considered stable. Furthermore, what is especially notable is that Westerners seem to have been the victims of both of these attacks. These two examples suggest that expats and visitors from the West face a distinct exposure to this kind of risk, from groups of people with clear links to established terror organisations, as well as apparently lone operators acting on the inspiration of jihadist beliefs.

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THE CURSE OF THE BLACK GOLD? – THE IMPACT OF FALLING OIL PRICES ON OPEC STATES

THE CURSE OF THE BLACK GOLD? – THE IMPACT OF FALLING OIL PRICES ON OPEC STATES

The price of benchmark Brent crude dropped to below US$65 a barrel on 10 December 2014, the lowest in five years after the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said it expected global demand for its crude next year to fall to its lowest level in more than a decade, far below the current output. Prices falling below US$100 a barrel, nearer a benchmark of US$80 in November 2014 was expected to see OPEC act to stabilise the market. The lack of impetus is a recognition that OPEC can’t be the swing producer, a role taken by the US and as a result it has decided that it will not cut production and will rely on nation states, oil buyers and consumers to attempt to rationalise the market and bring prices up themselves. Moreover, it is likely that the market will be oversupplied for the coming six to eighteen month period and crucially that the oil price will be lower for longer.

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SYRIA’S OVERLOOKED MENACE?

SYRIA’S OVERLOOKED MENACE?

The Islamic State (IS) continues to dominate Western media discourse regarding the Syrian conflict, and it remains true that they are the preeminent, and most deadly extremist force in much of the north and east of the country. However, the incessant focus on IS has overshadowed the threat posed to local and regional stability by other militant groups involved in the war in Syria. These include Jabhat al Nusra (JaN), which is one of the most successful, well-trained and well-equipped of the myriad rebel groups that have sprung up during the conflict. JaN is arguably the primary armed movement in a number of key Syrian regions, including the north-western Idlib province, the mountainous Qalamoun area along the frontier with Lebanon, and the Quneitra/Deraa zone to the immediate east of the Golan. While sharing an almost identical and uncompromising extremist ideology with the IS (although with an arguably more limited focus), JaN is a very different animal, as it combines an ability to adjust its activities to local realities and power structures, with an willingness to work with others. This brief analysis will seek to outline the group’s genesis and growth, and to identify what it is that makes JaN so dangerous, particularly, its pragmatism and its efforts to remain receptive to other Syrian rebel organisations, on occasion even with its dire enemies. First, it is worth examining just how the extremist movement evolved out of the maelstrom of the Iraq war to become such a major player in Syria.

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NORTH KOREA’S PARADOXICAL POLICY, PART TWO: HUNGRY TO BE HEARD

NORTH KOREA’S PARADOXICAL POLICY, PART TWO: HUNGRY TO BE HEARD

As examined in part one of this blog post, North Korea has these past few weeks displayed a notable contradiction between its actions and words. Although its rhetoric has remained fiery as ever, unusually this has been repeatedly flanked with cool behaviour. While a fragment of the explanation might lie in the Pyongyang leadership’s desire to evade mounting legal challenges, as we have seen, Chinese support means that Kim Jong un and his retinue are not likely to set foot in a courtroom any time soon. So why has there been this recent change in tack from Pyongyang?

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CONSIDERING THE IMPLICATIONS OF RIPA ON LEGALLY PRIVILEGED INFORMATION

CONSIDERING THE IMPLICATIONS OF RIPA ON LEGALLY PRIVILEGED INFORMATION

The UK is eagerly awaiting its first ruling on the interception of legally privileged information, no date is yet known for the decision to be announced but what is known is the significant impact it will have on a large number of legal and investigatory professionals.

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FOREIGN FIGHTER TERROR THREATS TO THE WEST: SOME LIGHT FROM THE PAST

FOREIGN FIGHTER TERROR THREATS TO THE WEST: SOME LIGHT FROM THE PAST

On 16 November 2014, a recording which presents itself as the latest execution video produced by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group surfaced on the Internet. As well as showing what appears to be the murder of a number of captives in graphic detail, the video also contains a direct threat to many of its viewers. In his London accent, the host tells the camera that “the Islamic State will soon, like your puppet David Cameron said, begin to slaughter your people in your streets”. During the video, the masked executioner gesticulates with a knife clutched in his hand, the fresh blood on its blade emphasising the apparent sincerity of the threat he makes. These latest words from the man beneath the black cloth mark a noteworthy new entry in a debate which has been taking place for some years.

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NORTH KOREA’S PARADOXICAL POLICY, PART ONE: HARD WORDS, SOFT ACTION

NORTH KOREA’S PARADOXICAL POLICY, PART ONE: HARD WORDS, SOFT ACTION

On 10 November 2014, North Korean soldiers edged too close to the Demilitarized Zone, receiving warning shots from the South Korean forces on the other side of the border. Reading solely from this unremarkable episode, one might think that lately it has been business as usual for Pyongyang. But few, if any, states can be said to conduct themselves in a more perplexing manner than North Korea. This example of normality was preceded by weeks of distinctly paradoxical behaviour, a characteristic which had become particularly pronounced during the autumn of 2014, when the foggy window outside observers have into the country became even more clouded than usual.

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THE FINAL NAIL – THE NULLIFICATION OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

THE FINAL NAIL – THE NULLIFICATION OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Early on 06 November 2014, the Libyan Supreme Court declared that the House of Representatives – the country’s governing body which was elected in June 2014 and has been sitting in the eastern city of Tobruk since August 2014 – is constitutionally invalid. The ruling was unexpected; while a legal challenge to the parliament’s activities was raised soon after its inaugural meeting in early August 2014, hearings and a decision on the issue have been repeatedly delayed. Such tactics by the Supreme Court have been seen in the past; a final ruling remains to be made over the constitutionality of the Political Isolation Law (PIL), and with Libya’s political situation so much in flux, further delays were expected. However, after weeks of postponement, the ruling was made early on 06 November 2014. What is more surprising, however, is the content of the ruling itself. The initial legal challenge pertained to the sitting of the House of Representatives in Tobruk and the failure of the body to attend an official handover ceremony from the General National Congress (GNC) which it had replaced. But what the Supreme Court has ultimately ruled against is the very legality of the process by which the House of Representatives was elected. This result has been celebrated by the Islamist-leaning parties and individuals who had been dominant in the GNC, but who lost out heavily to (more) secular and federalist politicians, and who never accepted the House of Representatives as a legitimate body.

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LEND ME YOUR EARS: THE POWER OF ISLAMIC STATE PROPAGANDA

LEND ME YOUR EARS: THE POWER OF ISLAMIC STATE PROPAGANDA

The Islamic State (IS) has made headlines for many reasons – its ability to seize and control territory, its brutal tactics, its rapid expansion that has even brought it near the borders of states such as Turkey and Jordan. However, one of the fundamental factors that has allowed the IS to make such gains has been its ability to recruit foreign fighters from around the world. Recent US intelligence reportedly suggests that as many as 15,000 individuals from around the world have enlisted to fight with the IS in Iraq and Syria. Central to the recruitment of these individuals has been the Islamic State’s technologically-savvy and advanced use of a wide variety of media tools, including social networking sites, recruitment videos and the creation of its own glossy magazine and media centre. The IS is certainly not the first radical Islamist organisation to employ such tactics – Hezbollah is particularly known for its impressive command of media propaganda – however, the IS seems to have the most sophisticated command of such media tools compared to any other widely-recognised terrorist organisation.

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