8:15 AM, Dec 20, 2014 • By MAX BOOT and SUE MI TERRY
December 17 was already an important milestone for the North Korean regime: It’s the day the “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-il, died in 2011, opening the way for his son Kim Jong-un to succeed him as absolute dictator. That anniversary was marked Wednesday with commemorations to signal the end of a traditional three-year period of mourning and the emergence of Kim Jong-un as a leader in his own right.
Now December 17 will be considered doubly auspicious, because that was the day that Sony, acting in response to North Korean threats, decided to pull The Interview, a raunchy comedy whose centerpiece is an assassination plot against none other than Kim Jong-un. This constitutes the first major foreign policy victory of Kim Jong-un’s brief reign and establishes a dangerous precedent that is likely to make North Korea an even bigger menace than it is today.
When word of the movie first leaked in the summer, North Korea called it an “act of war” and vowed “merciless retaliation” against the “gangster moviemakers.” No doubt Kim was petrified that the movie would make its way into North Korea in subtitled bootleg DVDs. Three weeks ago, North Korea apparently made good on its threat when hackers calling themselves Guardians of Peace—a suspected front for North Korea’s cyber-warfare agency, Unit 121 of the General Reconnaissance Bureau—broke into Sony computers and stole a reported 100 terabytes of data. Soon embarrassing emails from senior Sony executives were being leaked all over the Internet, along with pirated versions of Sony movies whose distribution free of charge presumably cost the studio millions of dollars.
A few days ago the Guardians of Peace hackers followed up with a crude email threat to attack movie theaters that dared to show The Interview. “Remember the 11th of September 2001,” the message read. “We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave).”
The threat was hardly a credible one. North Korea is not al Qaeda or the Islamic State—it has no ideological appeal beyond its borders. There are no suspected North Korean terrorist sleeper cells in the United States and scant risk that a “lone wolf” terrorist enflamed by the North’s crackpot Juche ideology would attack a showing of The Interview on his own. In fact, although North Korea regularly stages provocative acts such as test-firing missiles or even sinking a South Korean naval ship in 2010, it hasn’t carried out an act of terrorism since 1987 when its agents blew up a Korean Airlines jetliner in flight, killing 115 people.
Yet the nation’s major movie chains were sufficiently spooked that they announced they would refuse to show The Interview. Instead of pushing back, Sony joined the cave-in and announced that the movie would be pulled. Now it is not clear if the movie will ever be released in any format. The Wall Street Journal reports that Comcast Corp., the nation’s largest cable provider, doesn’t even want to stream the movie because of its “political sensitivity,” as if North Korea is going to blow up Comcast’s headquarters in retaliation.
Keep in mind that North Korea is famous for its bluster. Last November, for example, the regime threatened to turn the Blue House, the South Korean presidential residence, into a “sea of fire.” Such blood-curdling threats are seldom backed up; they are designed to intimidate and achieve North Korea’s objectives through nothing more than rhetorical warfare. In this case, the North has achieved a signal victory that will, unfortunately, embolden Kim, and possibly other tyrants, to try to intimidate the U.S. in the future.
It would be fascinating to know the back-story behind why Sony caved. Perhaps it was simply a lack of courage on the part of Hollywood executives whose films often extol the bravery of the “little guy” standing up against Big Government or Big Business but seldom practice this virtue themselves. Perhaps the hackers were even blackmailing Sony by threatening to release even more embarrassing emails.
9:02 PM, Dec 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Tony Abbott, the prime minister of Ausralia, urged Australians to go about business as usual, despite the ongoing hostage situation at a cafe in Sydney:
Abbott called it a "disturbing incident," and said his thoughts and prayers are with the individuals "caught up" in this situation.
7:25 AM, Nov 19, 2014 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
An ex-Guantanamo detainee based in northern Pakistan is leading an effort to recruit jihadists for the Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that controls large portions of Iraq and Syria.
Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost, who was detained at Guantanamo for three years, has sworn allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. Dost’s oath of allegiance was issued on July 1, just two days after Baghdadi named himself “Caliph Ibrahim I” and declared that his Islamic State was now a “caliphate.”
1:01 PM, Nov 18, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Secretary of State John Kerry called today's terror attack in Jerusalem the "pure result of incitement" and called on "Palestinian leadership at every single level to condemn this in the most powerful terms." Here's video:
12:23 PM, Nov 18, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, will soon release this statement responding to the terror attack in Jerusalem.
"Our hearts and prayers are with the victims and their families after this evil attack on a place of worship," the statement reads.
"An attack on a synagogue shows that there are no bounds for terrorists. These are people depraved of any humanity in their hearts, and they must not only be stopped, they must be exterminated.
12:03 PM, Nov 18, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
After a Palestinian terror attack that killed four in Israel, President Barack Obama is calling for both sides to be calm. "Too many Israelis have died; too many Palestinians have died. At this difficult time I think it's important for both Palestinians and Israelis to try to work together to lower tensions and reject violence," said President Obama, according to the White House pool report.
Here's the full report:
Bill Richardson Hardest Hit
9:49 AM, Oct 24, 2014 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Foreigners should always stay out of North Korea. By traveling there, after all, tourists provide financial support to a manifestly evil regime. Moreover, they put themselves at risk – two American tourists are currently being held hostage there.
11:39 AM, Oct 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
House Committee on Homeland Security chair, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, released this statement on the attack yesterday in Ottawa, Canada:
4:12 PM, Oct 21, 2014 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
Recently, some media commentators have argued that, rather than the product of a simple confrontation between Sunni and Shia Muslims in Syria and Iraq, the rise of the so-called “Islamic State” should be perceived as an eruption into those countries of Wahhabism, the only interpretation of Islam recognized as official in Saudi Arabia.
No mention of 'Innocence of Muslims' Internet video in indictment of Benghazi suspect.5:05 PM, Oct 16, 2014 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
The Justice Department has released a new, superseding indictment in the government’s case against Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the only suspect held by the U.S. in connection with the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
1:12 PM, Oct 7, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama's former defense secretary and CIA chief, Leon Panetta, told MSNBC today that he knew the Benghazi attack was a "terrorist attack" right away:
"I didn't have any specific information, but the fact was: when you bring grenade launchers to a demonstration, there's something else going on," said Panetta. "And I just, from the very beginning, sensed that this was an attack -- this was a terrorist attack on our compound."
4:04 PM, Oct 2, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A new report from the Jewish Telegraph Agency details that the Argentine congress will be fundraising for the terror group Hamas.
"A fundraising campaign for Palestine by the Argentine National Congress is being seen by one Jewish group as an endorsement of Hamas," reports JTA.
10:14 AM, Sep 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Here's the text, as prepared for delivery, of President Obama's address to the United Nations General Assembly:
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: we come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope.
11:43 AM, Sep 11, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Just before 3 a.m., a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the office of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. The office targeted was in his home district in Missouri, and not his Washington, D.C. office.
12:02 AM, Sep 11, 2014 • By KATHERINE ZIMMERMAN
In an address Wednesday night to the nation, President Obama held up America’s strategy in Yemen as a model for the counterterrorism strategy he intends to pursue in Iraq and Syria. By doing so, he committed to a strategy of targeting terrorists from the air and supporting local security forces in their counterterrorism fight.