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March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’

UN Security Council Considers North Korean Alleged Crimes Against Humanity

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

For the first time, North Korea’s record on human rights has been placed on the agenda for discussion at the United Nations Security Council. The nuclear-status nation is led by capricious 31-year-old Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, whose mood swings and rages are legend both in the country and abroad.

Until now, the Council has focused primarily on the issue of North Korea’s nuclear activities and the threat they pose. In response to its violations of UN mandates nixing nuclear and ballistic tests, the Council imposed sanctions on Pyongyang that have caused severe economic hardship, but as is the case with Iran have not persuaded the country’s regime to change course.

Ultimately, the Council may consider whether or not to hold the North Korean government responsible for its alleged crimes against humanity.

The United States called Pyongyang a “living nightmare” for North Korean citizens at the first meeting held by the Council, held Monday despite an initial attempt from China to block it. The meeting opened with a procedural raised-hand vote that showed 11 of the 15 Council members supported placing the issue of North Korea’s human rights record on the agenda. China and Russia voted against; Chad and Nigeria abstained.

Testimony was compiled from North Korean exiles by a UN commission of inquiry that left no doubt as to the brutality of the country’s regime, according to U.S. envoy Samantha Power. The unprecedented talks included review of testimony from a former prison camp survivor who told of picking kernels of corn from cattle dung to stave off starvation. A former guard testified about prison wardens who routinely raped their prisoners.

In February 2014, an investigation by the United Nations found that up to 120,000 people are being held in North Korean prison camps. The report also detailed numerous cases of summary executions, torture and rape, leading the inquiry to conclude that North Korea was committing human rights violations “without parallel in the contemporary world,” ordered at the highest level of the state.

No decision was taken on Monday in response to a call to refer Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. But three of the five permanent members of the Council – the U.S., Britain and France – as well as Australia and others, said the Council should consider action on the issue.

“Rarely has such an extensive charge sheet of international crimes been brought to the Council’s attention,” said UN assistant secretary-general for human rights, Ivan Simonovic.

Plot Thickens in Sony Pictures North Korea Hack Attack Saga

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

The plot appears to be thickening in the Sony-North Korea hack attack saga.

A cascade of events has followed the FBI’s accusation that North Korea is behind the attacks – and threats – aimed at preventing Sony Entertainment Pictures from releasing its comedy film, ‘The Interview.’

North Korea now seems to be experiencing widespread Internet outages. An expert quoted by Associated Press said late Monday the country’s online access was “completely down.”

National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said, “We have no new information to share regarding North Korea today. If in fact North Korea’s Internet has gone down, we’d refer you to that government for comment.”

The White House also had no comment. Referring to U.S. government responses to recent threats from North Korea, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters enigmatically, “Some will be seen, some may not be seen.”

On Friday, a government official quoted by The New York Times said the U.S. would ask China to block North Korea’s Internet access as a means of dealing with the threats emanating from Pyongyang.

“What we are looking for is a blocking action, something that would cripple their efforts to carry out attacks,” the official said. According to the report, virtually all of North Korea’s telecommunications run through Chinese-operated networks.

China has already condemned the movie, calling it an act of “senseless cultural arrogance.”

It is also hard to gauge China’s reaction to any U.S. request to rein in North Korea, given that five hackers working for the Chinese military were indicted by the Justice Department in May. They were charged with stealing sensitive information from U.S. companies.

Nevertheless, North Korean Internet accessibility appears to be down, at least for now.

Meanwhile, a hacker that might be associated with the well-known Anonymous hacker collective claimed on Twitter from an account that was suspended over the weekend, @TheAnonMessage, that i t would release the movie, “The Interview” this Thursday over the Internet anyway – just as a “Christmas present” to web surfers.

“We’re not with either side, we just want to watch the movie too… Banning movies only because North Korea’s dictator disapproves. What’s next, @RedDawnFilm?”

The sneers came in response to the latest nasty message sent to the FBI from the Guardians of Peace (GOP) hacker group, believed to be a front for North Korea.

(Yes I know it’s hard to keep all these threads straight – it may help to think of it as a war between the Crips and the Bloods.)

“Praising” the FBI for its investigation, the GOP hacker group sent a link to a video which repeats !”“You are an idiot,” over and over in animated lettering.

Enter Anonymous.

A message to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton from that group was posted on the ‘Pastebin’ site (where GOP has been posting) this past Friday. This time Sony is being exhorted to “release The Interview as planned” or Anonymous will “carry out as many hacks” as possible to Lynton and Sony Entertainment.

Neither threat can be verified; they were both posted on the Pastebin website in plain text, and could have been written by anyone. Neither is traceable.

But as the Mashable website points out, members of the LulzSec hackers affiliated with Anonymous were convicted for involvement in a 2011 hack attack on Sony Pictures.

The current saga actually began in June when North Korea demanded the White House intervene with Sony and squelch production of The Interview, a comedy about assassinating North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. It was scheduled for release this Thursday, December 25.

When the U.S. government did not stop producers, and the movie was completed, a massive hack attack was carried out against Sony. Emails containing information from company executives and employees plus other corporate data was released to the public along with a warning not to screen the movie, “The Interview” in any theater.

UN General Assembly Votes to Refer N. Korea to ICC

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution Thursday by a vote of 116 to 20, with 53 abstentions to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

The vote was taken against North Korea for its violations of human rights.

The resolution also asks the UN Security Council to consider targeted sanctions against the Pyongyang leadership as well. China and Russia are expected to oppose the move.

US Govt IDs North Korea in Sony Cyber Terror Attack

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The U.S. government has linked North Korea to the cyber terror siege of Sony Pictures Entertainment. But the massive cyber attack that nixed the entire release of an new comedy film appears to have also cowed the American entertainment industry.

By pulling “The Interview” from circulation, Sony could lose as much as $100 million, according to a report in Business Insider\.

The movie, which depicts an assassination attempt on the life of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, outraged that country. North Korea demanded during the production phase that the U.S. government cancel the movie. That did not happen; in fact, two White House officials had actually approved the plot line before the comedy went to production.

Once the hacker group “Guardians of Peace” followed up three weeks of a cyber siege with an actual physical terror threat, Hollywood went into a panic and so did the entire American entertainment industry.

First the Landmark Theater chain canceled its December 25 New York City premier of the film at the Sunshine Theater on the Lower East Side. Then four of the largest chains backed out of showing the movie altogether, comprising thousands of small theaters around the United States and Canada.

Unnamed U.S. government sources told NBC News that a “linkage to the North Korean government” had been found to prove it was “centrally involved” in the cyber attack.

And in a report published in The New York Times, bits of the evidence were pieced together. They showed how the hacker group was taking orders from North Korea, and how they carried out a previous similar attack against South Korea, using commercial tools routed via Bolivian servers last year. Similar tools were used in 2012 against Saudi Arabia.

Sony itself is also examining the possibility the hackers had inside help as well: the names of Sony servers and administrative credentials were used to allow the malware to spread across the company’s network.

Experts said the hack is “the first major attack on a U.S. company to use a highly destructive class of malicious software that is designed to make computer networks unable to operate,” Reuters reported.

The U.S. government seems to have signaled its de facto surrender to North Korea, the apparent patron behind the “Guardians of Peace.” U.S. media quoted senior government officials who said the White House was debating whether to publicly accuse North Korea over the attack and threats that followed. No one would speak on the record, and officials said the White House had yet to decide how to respond.

Japan also has had something to say about the matter, because it is apparently engaged in delicate negotiations with North Korea over the return of its citizens kidnapped years ago.

U.S. national intelligence officials concluded the cyber attack was state-sponsored and “far more destructive than any seen before on American soil,” NYT reported. A senior administration official admitted the attack that began by wiping out the data on Sony’s corporate computers had become “a threat to the safety of Americans.”

Not only North Korea but hackers based in China, and sponsored by that government as well, have taken aim before at U.S. corporations. This latest attack, however, “was of a sophistication that a year ago we would have said was beyond the North’s capabilities,” the official told NYT.

Massive attacks aimed at the computer systems of the White House itself, as well as those of the State Department, and JPMorgan Chase banking system, have kept counter cyber terror officials busy. The first two attacks were tentatively attributed ultimately to Moscow; the latter is still a question mark.

But the ambiguous response by the White House to the most devastating cyber attack ever on a U.S.-based corporation has done nothing to reassure American citizens. Nor has it inspired confidence among U.S. allies, who are watching to see if, when and how the White House will respond to the attack, termed by some as an “act of war.”

Terror Threat Puts Kibosh on Sony’s NYC Film Release

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

The threat of a possible terror attack put the kabash on a Sony Pictures Entertainment release across the United States of “The Interview,” a comedy depicting an assassination attempt on North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

Sony’s cancellation of the December 25 release followed a direct threat of terror from North Korea against theaters nationwide if they were to screen the movie, and against those who went to the theaters to see it. It came against the backdrop of a decision made by the studio’s largest theater affiliates in the United States and Canada not to show the film.

“We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers,” Sony said.

North Korea’s leadership was outraged over plot of the movie, to the point that in June, Washington received demands from Pyongyang to nix the film. That did not happen, and in November a hacker group calling itself the “Guardians of Peace” launched a massive cyber attack against Sony in retaliation for continuing with production of the movie.

At first diplomatic and cautious on the topic, within days Sony officials acknowledged that it appeared likely the North Korean government was be behind the attack. The ongoing siege of Sony Pictures involves increasing data dumps of sensitive personal and business information and threats of further similar “gifts.”

Following last week’s Los Angeles studio premier of the film, the threats took an even more ominous turn. The hackers vowed a 9/11-style attack on movie theaters across the U.S. that dared to screen “The Interview,” and moviegoers who chose to attend.

“Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made,” the hackers wrote in a long-winded warning posted on the internet. “The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave,) the hackers added. Another dump of personal data files accompanied the warning, these linked to Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Landmark Theaters’ Sunshine Cinema on New York City’s Lower East Side was the planned venue for the NYC studio premier for the film this coming Thursday evening. At midnight Tuesday night local time, Landmark was telling media that it still planned to continue with the premier as scheduled.

But New Yorkers awoke on Wednesday to the news that the East Coast premier for “The Interview” had been canceled by Landmark Theaters for the Big Apple. No explanation was given for the decision.

Just to be on the safe side, the film’s two co-stars, Seth Rogen and James Franco have scrapped their promotional tour for the film and canceled all public appearances.

But for Israelis who are either staying in New York or visiting the area for Hanukkah, terror threats are nothing new. In Israel all public venues are typically secured by armed individuals with military experience, trained to stop potential threats.

“Americans are not accustomed to such security measures,” which are accepted as a way of life and have saved countless lives in Israel, an IDF veteran told JewishPress.com on Wednesday, but requested his name not be used. “This may be the future there someday as well, but because of the numbers and the diversity of targets, security may become much more difficult.”

The FBI meanwhile has told media in a statement, “There is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States.” Nevertheless, to its credit, Sony notified its associated theaters about the threat immediately and said they had the option of choosing not to screen the film.

New York Police Department officials were not willing to toss in the towel on the film, however. “We have been down this road before with other films, about [former Al Qaeda leader Osama] Bin Laden and others,” NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter Terrorism John Miller told the New York Post. “We will be beefing up security anywhere there’s a marquee, with patrols, critical response vehicles and the Hercules teams.

Cyber Attacks Crippled Adelson’s Casino Firm because He Said ‘Bomb Iran’

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Cyber hackers crippled the computer network of the giant Las Vegas Sands Corp, headed by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, to punish him for saying that Iran should be bombed if it cannot be stopped from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The attack occurred last February but was not publicized until BusinessWeek exposed it in its new edition dated next week.

Las Vegas Sands refused to comment.

The hackers sent Las Vegas Sands engineers scrambling to the casino floor underneath their offices to yank out network cords from computers.

Businessweek’s investigation of the cyber-attack revealed that Las Vegas Sands computer engineers concluded that attackers, who wiped out several hard drives with a malware virus, did not tap into the computer system to steal money but were carrying out an act of revenge for Adelson’s anti-Iran remarks at Yeshiva University in 2013. There are strong suspicions that the cyber attack originated in Iran.

In his remarks at the Yeshiva University panel discussion on “Will Jews Exist?” Adelson, an open supporter of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and right-wing Republicans, said about Irene’s nuclear development:

What are we going to negotiate about? What I would say is, ‘Listen. You see that desert out there? I want to show you something.’

[After dropping a nuclear bomb on an Iranian desert,] “Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development. You want to be peaceful? Just reverse it all, and we will guarantee you that you can have a nuclear power plant for electricity purposes, energy purposes.’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded after  two weeks later and said that the American government “should slap these prating people in the mouth and crush their mouths.”

That was in October 2013.

Two months later, according to BusinessWeek, the hackers took action and attacked the Las Vegas Sands’ IT network, only the second known incident of trying to destroy a corporation. The other attack was last month on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The hackers continued their attacks last January when they attacked a huge slot machine casino and resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The malware attack wiped out data on computers and servers and erased hard drives.

The attack worsened in February, and the company was forced to disconnect its servers from the Internet to protect itself from worse damage, but there was no interference with activities of Las Vegas Sands hotel guests and casino players.

The hackers also hit Las Vegas Sands’ websites and posted images of flames on one of Sands’ American casinos and also posted a warning, “Encouraging the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction, UNDER ANY CONDITION, is a Crime.”

They also left a personal message  for Adelson: “Damn A, Don’t let your tongue cut your throat.”

The attack on Las Vegas Sands was an act of war. Bringing a country to its knees can be done a lot more efficiently and without deaths by using cyber attacks instead of bombs.

Last month, the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures leaked company secrets and personal information, and security experts suspect the perpetrators are a group that is working for the North Korean regime, whose nuclear capacity could wipe out the West and which is working hand-in-hand with Iran.

North Korea might be upset at Sony for its new project called ”The Interview,” a comedy about a plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader.

North Korea would “mercilessly destroy anyone who dares hurt or attack the supreme leadership of the country, even a bit,” a government spokesman has stated.

 

 

 

IDF Checks for Terror Tunnel Threat in Northern Israel

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The rumors persist.

Residents in northern Israel remain deeply concerned that terrorists are digging tunnels under the border, preparing for a future attack.

Although the IDF doesn’t discuss it much, the military is not ignoring the problem, and is quietly monitoring activity along the border.

The question is, what’s happening underneath?

Last week (Tuesday, October 14) Syrian Islamist rebels blew up a government military post near Idlib by digging attack tunnels with UN equipment under the rocky terrain, Aljazeera reported.

As happened with Hamas terrorist use of United Nations facilities in Gaza this summer, the United Nations logo is clear seen on equipment used in the attack in a YouTube report posted by Aljazeera on the internet. The rebel group which identifies with Al Qaeda wiped out the army outpost, killing 60 Syrian soldiers and officers. The Arabic-language report showed preparations prior to the attack as well as its aftermath, and said it took 120 days to dig the tunnel.

The geological conditions are nearly identical to those on Israel’s northern border, and the incident made it clear that Hezbollah could – and might – do the same.

This summer, northern Israelis spoke of the possibility that Hezbollah was tunneling as well.

“I live in the house closest to the border, and from my window you can see everything happening on the other side in Lebanon,” said a resident in Zar’it, in August during an interview on Israel’s Channel 2 News Online.

“What I see scares me, and worries me very much. I can see concrete mixers working in secret. I feel, for more than two years now, digging sounds. My entire house moves and shakes, and it’s very disturbing.”

During the IDF’s 50-day counter terror Operation Protective Edge, the commander of the 769th Hiram Brigade addressed the issue in an interview with Channel 2 News, commenting, “The possibility of tunnels [also] disturbs me, along with other options that might exist here. Any reasonable person should put his eyes in his head and look south towards Gaza and say that if there are tunnels there, then all the more so there is this possibility here.”

Building the kind of complex tunnel network that was found in Gaza, however, takes years of work by a lot of people.

For the past two years Hezbollah was busy helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad combat the rebels in the civil war tearing apart his country. Prior to that they were re-arming following the 2006 Second Lebanon War with Israel. Who is helping them build tunnels?

Probably the North Koreans.

Hamas also made a deal with North Korea this year to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of weapons. Western intelligence sources said this summer the deal was sealed by a Lebanese middleman linked to Palestinian Authority Arab terrorists in eastern Beirut.

The North Koreans have been patrons of Hamas for years — and not only with weapons.

Apparently it was North Korea that taught Hamas how to build its network of tunnels under Gaza.

The Gazans may have had help from Hezbollah, but at best the Lebanese terrorists functioned as North Korean agents, providing secondhand knowhow at bargain basement prices.

Or perhaps Hamas went to Syria to learn the trade. Hamas had its political bureau in Damascus for years. Or they may have gone directly to Iran, the other North Korean partner.

According to a report on The National Interest website last month, North Korea has provided missiles and their technology to all four: Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah.

But now there’s even a bigger concern, according to Victor Cha, D.S. Song-KF Professor in the Department of Government and School of Foreign Service, and Director of Asian Studies at Georgetown University, and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International studies.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/idf-checks-for-terror-tunnel-threat-in-northern-israel/2014/10/22/

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