The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

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Living on the Fault Line
A major earthquake isn’t likely here, but if it comes, watch out.
Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo
This chart shows the location of the Ramapo Fault System, the longest and one of the oldest systems of cracks in the earth’s crust in the Northeast. It also shows the location of all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in New Jersey during the last 50 years. The circle in blue indicates the largest known Jersey quake.
The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.
After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.
Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.
During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.
“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”
Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.
Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.
After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.
But no area on the East Coast is as densely populated or as heavily built-up as parts of New Jersey and its neighbors. For this reason, scientists refer to the Greater New York City-Philadelphia area, which includes New Jersey’s biggest cities, as one of “low earthquake hazard but high vulnerability.” Put simply, the Big One isn’t likely here—but if it comes, especially in certain locations, watch out.
Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.
Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.
The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.
For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.
Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”
The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.
The Ramapo Fault sits on the North American Plate, which extends past the East Coast to the middle of the Atlantic, where it meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater mountain range in constant flux. The consequences of this intraplate setting are huge: First, as Gates points out, “The predictability of bigger earthquakes on…[such] settings is exceedingly poor, because they don’t occur very often.” Second, the intraplate setting makes it more difficult to link our earthquakes to a major cause or fault, as monitors in California can often do.
This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”
Gates does not think that’s the case, and he has been working with colleagues for a number of years to prove it. “What we have found is that there are smaller faults that generally cut from east to west across the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault,” he explains. “These much smaller faults are all over the place, and they’re actually the ones that are the active faults in the area.”
But what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of these apparently active auxiliary faults? One such mechanism, say scientists, is the westward pressure the Atlantic Ocean exerts on the North American Plate, which for the most part resists any movement. “I think we are in an equilibrium state most of the time,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim.
Still, that continuous pressure on the plate we sit on causes stress, and when that stress builds up sufficiently, the earth’s crust has a tendency to break around any weak zones. In our area, the major weak zone is the Ramapo Fault—“an ancient zone of weakness,” as Kim calls it. That zone of weakness exacerbates the formation of auxiliary faults, and thereby the series of minor earthquakes the state has experienced over the years.
All this presupposes, of course, that any intraplate stress in this area will continue to be released gradually, in a series of relatively minor earthquakes or releases of energy. But what if that were not the case? What if the stress continued to build up, and the release of large amounts of energy came all at once? In crude terms, that’s part of the story behind the giant earthquakes that rocked what is now New Madrid, Missouri, between 1811 and 1812. Although estimates of their magnitude have been revised downward in recent years to less than magnitude 8, these earthquakes are generally regarded as among the largest intraplate events to have occurred in the continental United States.
For a number of reasons—including the relatively low odds that the kind of stored energy that unleashed the New Madrid events could ever build up here—earthquakes of plus-6 magnitude are probably not in our future. Still, says Kim, even a magnitude 6 earthquake in certain areas of the state  could do considerable damage, especially if its intensity or ground shaking was of sufficient strength. In a state as geologically diverse and densely populated as New Jersey, this is a crucial wild card.
Part of the job of the experts at the New Jersey Geological Survey is to assess the seismic hazards in different parts of the state. To do this, they use a computer-simulation model developed under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as HAZUS, for Hazards US. To assess the amount of ground shaking likely to occur in a given county during events ranging in magnitude from 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, NJGS scientists enter three features of a county’s surface geology into their computer model. Two of these features relate to the tendency of soil in a given area to lose strength, liquefy, or slide downhill when shaken. The third and most crucial feature has to do with the depth and density of the soil itself and the type of bedrock lying below it; this is a key component in determining a region’s susceptibility to ground shaking and, therefore, in estimating the  amount of building and structural damage that’s likely to occur in that region. Estimates for the various counties—nine to date have been studied—are sent to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which provided partial funding for the project.
To appreciate why this element of ground geology is so crucial to earthquake modelers, consider the following: An earthquake’s intensity—which is measured on something called the Modified Mercalli Scale—is related to a number of factors. The amount of energy released or the magnitude of an event is clearly a big factor. But two earthquakes of the same magnitude can have very different levels of intensity; in fact, it’s quite possible for a lower magnitude event to generate more ground shaking than a higher magnitude one.
In addition to magnitude, other factors that affect intensity are the distance of the observer or structure from the epicenter, where intensity is the greatest; the depth beneath the surface of the initial  rupture, with shallower ruptures producing more ground shaking than deeper ones; and, most significantly, the ground geology or material that the shock wave generated by the earthquake must pass through.
As a rule, softer materials like sand and gravel shake much more intensely than harder materials, because the softer materials are comparatively inefficient energy conductors, so whatever energy is released by the quake tends to be trapped, dispersing much more slowly. (Think of a bowl of Jell-O on a table that’s shaking.)
In contrast, harder materials, like the solid rock found widely in the Highlands, are brittle and break under pressure, but conduct energy well, so that even big shock waves disperse much more rapidly through them, thereby weakening the amount of ground shaking. “If you’ve read any stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, you know the most intense damage was in those flat, low areas by the Bay, where the soil is soft, and not in the hilly, rocky areas above,” says Karl Muessig, state geologist and NJGS head.
The map that accompanies the online version of the NJGS’s Earthquake Loss Estimation Study divides the state’s surface geology into five seismic soil classes, ranging from Class A, or hard rock, to Class E, or soft soil (state.nj.us/dep/njgs/enviroed/hazus.htm).
Although the weakest soils are scattered throughout the state, including the Highlands, which besides harder rock also contains areas of glacial lakes, clays, and wetlands, they are most evident in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. “The largest expanses of them are in coastal areas where you have salt marshes or large glacial lakes, as in parts of the Passaic River basin,” says Scott Stanford, a research scientist with NJGS and lead author of the estimate. Some of the very weakest soils, Stanford adds, are in areas of filled marshland, including places along the Hudson waterfront, around Newark Bay and the Meadowlands, and along the Arthur Kill.
Faults in these areas—and in the coastal plain generally—are far below the ground, perhaps several hundred to a thousand feet down, making identification difficult. “There are numerous faults upon which you might get earthquake movement that we can’t see, because they’re covered by younger sediments,” Stanford says.
This combination of hidden faults and weak soils worries scientists, who are all too aware that parts of the coastal plain and Piedmont are among the most densely populated and developed areas in the state. (The HAZUS computer model also has a “built environment” component, which summarizes, among other things, types of buildings in a given area.) For this reason, such areas would be in the most jeopardy in the event of a large earthquake.
“Any vulnerable structure on these weak soils would have a higher failure hazard,” Stanford says. And the scary truth is that many structures in New Jersey’s largest cities, not to mention New York City, would be vulnerable, since they’re older and built before anyone gave much thought to earthquake-related engineering and construction codes.
For example, in the study’s loss estimate for Essex County, which includes Newark, the state’s largest city, a magnitude 6 event would result in damage to 81,600 buildings, including almost 10,000 extensively or completely; 36,000 people either displaced from their homes or forced to seek short-term shelter; almost $9 million in economic losses from property damage and business interruption; and close to 3,300 injuries and 50 fatalities. (The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation has conducted a similar assessment for New York City, at nycem.org.)
All of this suggests the central irony of New Jersey geology: The upland areas that are most prone to earthquakes—the counties in or around the Ramapo Fault, which has spawned a network of splays, or  auxiliary faults—are much less densely populated and sit, for the most part, on good bedrock. These areas are not invulnerable, certainly, but, by almost all measures, they would not sustain very severe damage, even in the event of a higher magnitude earthquake. The same can’t be said for other parts of the state, where the earthquake hazard is lower but the vulnerability far greater. Here, the best we can do is to prepare—both in terms of better building codes and a constantly improving emergency response.
Meanwhile, scientists like Rutgers’s Gates struggle to understand the Earth’s quirky seismic timetable: “The big thing with earthquakes is that you can commonly predict where they are going to occur,” Gates says. “When they’re going to come, well, we’re nowhere near being able to figure that out.”
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Planning for the Big One
For the men and women of the state police who manage and support the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the response to some events, like hurricanes, can be marshalled in advance. But an earthquake is what responders call a no-notice event.
In New Jersey, even minor earthquakes—like the one that shook parts of Somerset County in February—attract the notice of local, county, and OEM officials, who continuously monitor events around the state from their Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (The ROIC) in West Trenton, a multimillion dollar command-and-control facility that has been built to withstand 125 mph winds and a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. In the event of a very large earthquake, during which local and county resources are apt to become quickly overwhelmed, command and control authority would almost instantly pass to West Trenton.
Here, officials from the state police, representatives of a galaxy of other state agencies, and a variety of communications and other experts would assemble in the cavernous and ultra-high tech Emergency Operations Center to oversee the state’s response. “A high-level earthquake would definitely cause the governor to declare a state of emergency,” says OEM public information officer Nicholas J. Morici. “And once that takes place, our emergency operations plan would be put in motion.”
Emergency officials have modeled that plan—one that can be adapted to any no-notice event, including a terrorist attack—on response methodologies developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At its core is a series of seventeen emergency support functions, ranging from transportation to firefighting, debris removal, search and rescue, public health, and medical services. A high-magnitude event would likely activate all of these functions, says Morici, along with the human and physical resources needed to carry them out—cranes and heavy trucks for debris removal, fire trucks and teams for firefighting, doctors and EMTs for medical services, buses and personnel carriers for transportation, and so on.
This is where an expert like Tom Rafferty comes in. Rafferty is a Geographic Information Systems Specialist attached to the OEM. His job during an emergency is to keep track electronically of which resources are where in the state, so they can be deployed quickly to where they are needed. “We have a massive database called the Resource Directory Database in which we have geolocated municipal, county, and state assets to a very detailed map of New Jersey,” Rafferty says. “That way, if there is an emergency like an earthquake going on in one area, the emergency managers can quickly say to me, for instance, ‘We have major debris and damage on this spot of the map. Show us the location of the nearest heavy hauler. Show us the next closest location,’ and so on.”
A very large quake, Rafferty says, “could overwhelm resources that we have as a state.” In that event, OEM has the authority to reach out to FEMA for additional resources and assistance. It can also call upon the private sector—the Resource Directory has been expanded to include non-government assets—and to a network of volunteers. “No one has ever said, ‘We don’t want to help,’” Rafferty says. New Jersey officials can also request assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement among the states to help each other in times of extreme crisis.
“You always plan for the worst,” Rafferty says, “and that way when the worst doesn’t happen, you feel you can handle it if and when it does.”
Contributing editor Wayne J. Guglielmo lives in Mahwah, near the Ramapo Fault.

Trump warns the Iranian Nuclear Horn

Trump warns Iran: Don’t ‘f— around’ with US

By Rebecca Kheel

October 09, 2020 – 04:46 PM EDT

President Trump warned Iran not to “f— around with us” Friday during a two-hour phone conversation with conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.

“Iran knows that, and they’ve been put on notice: If you f— around with us, if you do something bad to us, we are gonna do things to you that have never been done before,” Trump said in the interview, which was billed as a “radio rally” while he continues recovering from COVID-19 at the White House.

Trump has frequently threatened Iran, though rarely in such profane terms.

U.S.-Iran tensions have run particularly high throughout the Trump presidency after he withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran.

At the beginning of the year, the two countries appeared to be on the brink of war after Trump ordered a drone strike in Iraq that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Iran retaliated with a missile strike on an Iraqi military base housing U.S. troops. More than 100 U.S. service members suffered brain injuries, but there were no deaths, so both sides stepped back from the brink, at least for the time being.

The Trump administration, however, continues to accuse Iranian-backed militias of targeting U.S. interests and personnel in Iraq.

It also recently attempted to reimpose all United Nations sanctions that were lifted under the Iran nuclear deal, though the international community has largely rejected the U.S. authority to do so because of Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement.

Regional experts expect Iran to hold off on any particularly provocative action that could provoke the U.S. and international community before the election as it hopes Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden defeats Trump and returns to the Obama-era nuclear deal.

Babylon the Great prepares for nuclear war: Revelation 16

US finishes preparations for destruction in Russia, nuclear bombers blown 57 times

by Bhavi Mandalia

Tensions between NATO countries, including Russia and the US, are deepening. In the Arctic area near Black Sea and Norway between fighter jets of Russia and NATO countries, the sky is increasing. The United States had sent its 6 B-52 nuclear bomber aircraft to Britain to prepare for the same threat from Russia. These aircraft have now returned to their US Air Force home base, Dakota. These bombers flew 57 times during their deployment to the UK’s Fairford Airport. These bombers were equipped with 120 highly-deserved cruise missiles and were capable of carrying out nuclear strikes anywhere in Africa and Europe. Let us know what the Russian motive of America is behind sending these bombers to Europe….

American bombers are equipped with nuclear cruise missiles

American nuclear scientist Hans Christenshen says the purpose of American Bombers’ 57 missions to the Black Sea and the Arctic region was to point out that when we fly, we endanger our targets immediately. At the same time, we had to tell that we can use traditional offensive power all over the world. Christenshen said the B-52 bombers the US had deployed in Europe could also attack with a nuclear cruise missile. He pointed to the US Army statement in which he said that “when we take flight, the immediate target is in danger”. The top scientist said that the US Air Force was referring to the Air Launch Cruise Missile in front of the US to conduct a nuclear strike. These American bombers are also stationed in Guam, near Japan, capable of targeting East Russia.

Learn how dangerous American cruise missile is

America’s Air Launch Cruise Missile (ALCM) is capable of dropping 2500 kilometers of nuclear bombs. This means that if this American subsonic cruise missile is fired from the British sky, then Russia’s capital Moscow can be destroyed. The cruise missile named AGM-86 is built by Boeing company of America. This missile is capable of attacking by dodging the enemy’s air defense system. It has been specially designed to foster Russia’s air defense system. The long range of this missile has allowed American bombers to attack without going to the Russian airspace. To eliminate this missile, Russia has now built its MiG-31 fighter jet and Tor missile system.

America exercises with 30 countries

During its deployment to Britain, American bombers flew 57 times and maneuvered with 100 other fighter jets from 30 countries. They flew over Bombers, North Pole, Barrant Sea, Black Sea, Norway and the Mediterranean Sea. The US Air Force issued a statement saying that the bombers’ flight reflects our commitment to global security and stability. The US Air Force said that despite the challenge of Corona, we are ready to carry out all kinds of missions with our fellow countries. Let us tell you that the tension between NATO countries and Russia is increasing on many issues including Belarus. Russia has extended its support to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, while NATO countries are opposing him. The President of Belarus, who has held the power for nearly 26 years, has alleged that NATO wants to divide his country and remove them from power.

The world’s deadliest bomber includes B-52

The United States has sent its B-52 bomber to Britain in view of this growing crisis. These bomber aircraft are equipped with both nuclear and conventional weapons and missiles. This bomber can carry 32,000 kg weapons at one go. Its firepower is about 14,080 km. It consists of 6 engines and has been specially designed keeping in mind the Russian threat. The US has put 58 B-52 bombers on active duty. It is capable of flying from subsonic speed.

The winds of God‘s wrath makes landfall in storm-battered Louisiana: Jeremiah 23

Hurricane Delta makes landfall in storm-battered Louisiana – BBC News

Hurricane Delta is the 10th named storm to make US landfall so far this year

Hurricane Delta has made landfall in the US state of Louisiana, which is still recovering from the damage caused by a previous hurricane in August.

This is the 10th named storm to make US landfall so far this year, breaking a record that has stood since 1916.

Delta hit Creole, Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane at 18:00 local time (00:00 BST) on Friday, with winds of 100 mph (155 km/h).

It weakened to a Category 1 as it moved inland, causing widespread power cuts.

The US National Hurricane Center (NHC) also warned of an eight-foot-high “life-threatening storm surge” across the Louisiana coast, caused by high winds from Delta.

The hurricane first made landfall near Puerto Morelos on Mexico’s Caribbean coast on Wednesday, forcing thousands of tourists and residents to move into shelters for safety.

Having crossed the Gulf of Mexico, Delta is now moving across central and north-eastern Louisiana, and will enter northern Mississippi and the Tennessee Valley on Saturday.

“Rapid weakening is expected overnight and Saturday,” the NHC said. “Delta is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm tonight and to a tropical depression on Saturday.”

Reuters

Many residents left home in order to avoid the hurricane’s path

Schools and government offices shut their doors and officials in a dozen parishes called for evacuations.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards previously said that 2,400 National Guard personnel were being mobilised to help the state’s residents.

Many people left their homes to try to get out of the storm’s path.

Parts of the state were already severely storm-damaged from the more powerful Category 4 Hurricane Laura, which ripped through homes and uprooted trees when it hit on 20 August.

More than 6,000 people are still displaced and living in temporary accommodation, such as hotels, after their homes were destroyed.

Streets in cities such as Lake Charles, which was particularly badly-hit by Hurricane Laura, remain littered with debris.

The streets in many cities are still littered with debris from Hurricane Laura

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter told Reuters news agency that Hurricane Laura “is still very fresh and very raw, and I think that had something to do with more people evacuating for Delta”.

“In this community, there are a lot of homes that were damaged and so a lot of people are concerned about staying in that structure again,” he added.

Governor Edwards also previously warned that although Delta was less strong than Laura, it could sweep up debris from the previous hurricane and hurl it like missiles.

Babylon the Great faces off with the Chinese nuclear horn

Collision with China, US sends two deadliest weapons equipped with nuclear missiles to India

Bhavi Mandalia

The USS Ronald Reagan is considered very powerful in America’s supercarriers. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier was commissioned into the US Navy on 12 July 2003. The Yokosuka Naval Base of Japan is the homebase of this aircraft carrier. This is part of the Career Strike Group 11 which alone has the power to ruin many countries on its own. The 332-meter-long aircraft carrier deploys around 90 combat aircraft and helicopters and around 3000 naval personnel. Aircraft carrier UAS Nimits is included in the US’s seventh fleet. The fleet reached the Bay of Bengal during the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War (Bangladesh Liberation War). Its purpose was to assist the Pakistani army in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). But at that time Russia stood firmly with India. This brought the seventh fleet back to America.

America has fought many battles with Diego Garcia

The island is strategically important for the US, with the island of Diago Garcia being remote, safe and located in the heart of the Indian Ocean. The island’s length of India’s southern coast is 970 nautical miles, 925 nautical miles from the southwestern part of Sri Lanka, 2,200 nautical miles from the Hormuz Strait and 1600 nautical miles from the mouth of the Malacca Strait. The island has 1700 US military personnel and 1500 civilian contractors, including 50 British soldiers. The island is used jointly by both the US Navy and the Air Force. In the Gulf War of 1991, the Iraq War of 1998 and during 2001, many air operations in Afghanistan were conducted from the Diego Garcia base itself. Now with the help of this naval base, the United States is monitoring China’s growing activities in the Indian Ocean.

Israel launches airstrike outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel launches airstrike on Hamas position in Gaza

Image only for representation

Israel launched an airstrike on Monday on a position of the Hamas in Gaza after Palestinian militants in the enclave fired a rocket, the military said.

The army, without reporting casualties, said the rocket targeted southern Israel, where sirens sounded to warn of the fire.

According to Palestinian security sources, the Israeli raid caused only material damage in Rafah, southern Gaza.

There was no claim of responsibility for a cross-border rocket attack from the neighbouring Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas.

The last rocket attack, after which Israel also retaliated with air raids, coincided with the September 15 signing in Washington of normalisation deals between the Jewish state and two Gulf countries.

Israel had previously bombed Gaza almost daily since August 6, in response to the launch of airborne incendiary devices and rocket fire.

Agence France-Presse

‘A threat from within’: Iraq and the rise of the Antichrist’s men: Revelation 13

‘A threat from within’: Iraq and the rise of its militias

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

Last modified on Thu 8 Oct 2020 14.34 EDT

The dust had barely settled on the fall of Iraq’s second city when the call came. It was June 2014 and Islamic State had just captured Mosul, the prize in a fight for control of a country already scarred by more than a decade of war.

Just four days after the city’s capture, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the most revered Shia cleric in Iraq, issued a fatwa urging Iraqis to volunteer in the fight against the militants. Tens of thousands of mostly young men from the poor Shia south and Baghdad suburbs flocked to recruiting centres, military camps and militia headquarters.

Iraqi men marching to a recruiting centre in west Baghdad in June 2014. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/The Guardian

One such gathering took place in a sprawling compound in eastern Baghdad, where a large crowd of young men packed into a lecture hall. Excited to volunteer for the fight against Isis, they came with plastic shopping bags stuffed with clothes and little else. Many of the prospective fighters wore brightly coloured bermuda shorts, their mood as carefree and as boisterous as if they were going on a picnic.

Some were wearing green bandanas with the logo of the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia, formed in 2006 by the military commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and closely associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Iraqi men marching to a recruiting centre in west Baghdad, June 2014. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/The Guardian

The walls around them were lined with pictures of militiamen who fell in the civil war in neighbouring Syria. Muhandis would go on to become the key leader of the Shia militia umbrella organisation the Popular Mobilisation Forces, known as the Hashed al-Shaabi, or the Hashed.

In January this year he was killed in the same US drone strike that took out Iran’s top military commander, General Qassem Suleimani. By the time of his death the militias under his command, acting at the behest of Iran, were at the heart of the Iraqi establishment. In killing him, the US disrupted a fiendishly complicated set of power relations. It is on Iraqi soil, and not in Iran, that many fear the impact of the strike will be felt in the long term.

Shia militia commanders on the frontlines against Isis near Falluja, August 2015. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/The Guardian

“Previously, we chose only people who were committed to protecting the [Shia] sect and observed their religious commitments, who prayed and fasted, but now we are accepting anyone,” said the militia chief’s “recruiting officer” in 2014 . A tall, broad-shouldered man with a thin beard and short-cropped hair, he walked among the rows of enthusiastic young men, jotting down names on a yellow notepad.

Only a few weeks earlier he had been commanding a unit of fighters in Aleppo against Isis, signalling the ever-shifting pace of Iraq’s military and political landscape. “We fought the Americans, and we are fighting Daesh [Isis] in Syria,” he said. “Our experience will make them strong. We will give them the best training anyone can give here. Even army soldiers are joining us – they want to get rid of the corruption that caused the defeat of the army.”

Iraqi Shia recruits in a training centre in the east of Baghdad in August 2014. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/The Guardian

The young recruits were joined by veteran Shia fighters such as Abu Hashem, who fought against Saddam Hussein in the 1980s and 1990s under the command of Muhandis. The day Mosul fell, Muhandis called his veteran fighters to come to meet him.

“To be honest, after the fall of Mosul we didn’t go to war because of Sistani’s fatwa,” said Abu Hashem, a white-haired senior intelligence officer in the Hashed. Instead, he said, it was Muhandis who had spurred the older fighters into action. “We met him in his house in the Green Zone and he told us that the Iraqi state had fallen,” Abu Hashem said.

“There is no state,” Abu Hashem recalled Muhandis saying. “I am the state now.”

***

The extent of Muhandis’ influence over the various and bickering factions that comprised the Hashed is clear from accounts of how he marshalled fighters in the counter-campaign to drive Isis out of Iraq and how he was able to draw on Tehran’s resources to do so.

Iraqi Shia recruits in a training centre in the east of Baghdad in August 2014. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/The Guardian

After Abu Hashem and his comrades arrived ready to take up arms in that summer of 2014, Muhandis ordered them to head to the Taji military base north of Baghdad to set up a new force. Their first task was to protect the Shia shrines in Samara and stop the advance of Isis militants to Baghdad.

“When we arrived at the base, we found complete chaos,” Abu Hashem said. “Thousands of young volunteers had gathered there, and no one knew what to do with them.” They were joined by demoralised and broken soldiers, whose units had collapsed, and who had abandoned their armour and weapons in the retreat.

“Those of us who knew how to drive a tank took over abandoned army tanks and started forming new tank battalions and teaching the young volunteers. Others set up a radio and communications network. I had spent my life in intelligence, so I was assigned to run the security and the intelligence apparatus.”

Many of the veteran fighters were men in their 50s and 60s, but their younger relatives joined them too. “Each one brought two or three sons. A lot of the young had come with their older fathers or uncles,” Abu Hashem said.

When Muhandis arrived, the organisation was there for him on the ground. According to Abu Hashem and other commanders, Iranian flights soon started delivering weapons to the newly opened airport in Najaf.

“One of the ministers in the government at that time used to be head of logistics in the [Shia political party and military group] Badr Corps. He sat on the floor in a white dishdasha, picked up phones and arranged for shipments of pickup trucks, munitions and weapons, then distributed them among the different factions.”

With weapons, cars and men came Iranian advisers. They dispersed across the country in a wide geographic arch from Diyala in the east to the western border with Syria. Their voices could be heard on the military radio directing mortar fire in Falluja, installing thermal cameras in a small besieged village in the west of Mosul and accompanying the advance of an Iraqi special forces brigade in Tikrit.

Members of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, on the frontlines against Isis, in Diala province to the east of Baghdad, in July 2014. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/The Guardian

“The reality is, without the Iranians we wouldn’t be able to do anything,” Abu Hashem said. “If the Iranian advisers weren’t there, the battalions wouldn’t attack. Their presence gave the men confidence in the early days.

“Suleimani had a halo around his head, and he became the symbol that everyone was devoted to. And [Muhandis] was negotiating these multiple factions that were unruly and difficult to control. He was like a music conductor.”

***

The Hashed was never a single fighting force but a heterogenous umbrella for multiple militias and paramilitary units. Some were well organised, battle hardened and had a clear hierarchy; others consisted of a few dozen men hired by a local warlord or tribal sheikh.

The factions can be roughly divided into three categories. First there are the military wings of the parties that dominated Iraqi politics since 2003 and played a significant role during the civil war. The remnants of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army, since renamed as the Peace Battalion, is the most well-known.

Second are the smaller, more radical groups, including Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq. They refer to themselves as the “loyalist factions”, closely follow Iranian leadership religiously and politically, and their fighters came of age in the civil war in Syria. Following the defeat of Isis in 2017, this group of loyalist factions sent aligned MPs to Iraq’s parliament, and they have become in effect a militia with their own political wing.

Lastly are the factions formed by the clergy in the influential shrine cities of Kerbala and Najaf or by tribes, who have no clear political agenda beyond the preservation of their founders’ interests.

“When we formed the Hashed, we tried to replicate the experience of the Basij [the Iranian Revolutionary Guard], but we failed in one thing, and that is the multiplicity of factions,” Abu Hashem said. “Some of the battalions have just a few dozen men, but they insist on fighting under their flag and refuse to accept the command of others.”

Divisions within the Hashed over command, strategy and the division of its loot, as well as which religious authority its factions followed – Sistani in Iraq or Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – had long been rife, but Muhandis had some key advantages in his leadership. Since his death, the pro-Sistani factions have detached themselves from the Hashed leadership, which they now perceive as unacceptably aligned with Iranian interests rather than their own.

“When [Muhandis] wanted a certain faction to do something, during the fighting, he had to convince, urge, kiss them on the shoulders, and dangle many rewards before they did his biddings,” said a member of the Hashed shura council, a consultancy council that includes all the senior commanders of the Hashed.

“[Muhandis] had no faction of his own, and this was why he could run the Hashed and everyone listened to him, no one could outbid him. He had been in the Shia struggle for 30 years doing this job,” he said.

Under his watch, the Hashed grew to a formidable force, playing an essential role in the defeat of Isis. By the end of 2019 it was fielding tens of thousands of men, with tanks, artillery and an intelligence network, along with a sophisticated propaganda arm and extensive commercial interests.

“Muhandis turned a bunch of militiamen into an establishment, he created all these militias – he is the cook. He institutionalised them and enrolled them in politics, appointed them ministers, made them wear suits, and helped them realise the potential of being a stakeholder in the state and think of their political future after they were just a bunch of gunmen,” said the Shura council member.

From a governance point of view, Muhandis’s “cooking” had profound consequences for Iraq.

“The fact is that you have some military factions that receive their salaries from the Iraqi state but don’t follow the military chain of command of the commander in chief,” said an Iraq analyst, who requested anonymity.

“They act according to their alliances with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and serve the larger Iranian strategy in the region, and their own commercial interests. They constitute a threat to the state of Iraq from within.”

***

In the months leading up to Muhandis’ death, its fighters were on the back foot, denounced in a series of mass demonstrations by protesters who had grown weary of their immense power in all echelons of Iraqi life – and with it, the wealth the militias had acquired through often corrupt means.

But the US strike not only triggered a battle for control, it also revived the group with a new sense of purpose.

Members of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, on the frontlines against Isis, in Diala province to the east of Baghdad, in July 2014. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad/The Guardian

The deaths of two of the region’s most influential commanders enabled the Hashed to regain the initiative with key displays of force: tens of thousands of men marched on the streets in demonstrations condemning the US attack, and a week-long funeral was held for Muhandis.

More ominously, the pro-Iranian militias stepped up killings and kidnappings of activists, started firing rockets at the US embassy in the Green Zone and at military camps, and targeted supply convoys with improvised explosive devices (IEDs). So emboldened have the various factions become in 2020 that Iraqis speak of their country effectively being two parallel states – one with a weak government at its helm and the other at the mercy of militias.

The killing of the two commanders helped shift the narrative, observers said, from one of “the people v a kleptocratic regime” to one in which, according to a close friend of Muhandis, “everything was an American plot to weaken Iran and its allies, first by mass demonstrations, assassinations and eventually military confrontations”.

Then in April a new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, was named, ending a five-month stalemate that followed the resignation of the former prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi. An urbane former intelligence chief, Kadhimi is the first prime minister since 2005 not to belong to any of the Islamist parties.

The challenges facing him are formidable, from an economy in tatters due to the collapse in oil prices and endemic corruption to a failed healthcare system unable to deal with the coronavirus, and continuing anti-government demonstrations in Baghdad and other cities.

But the premier’s most fearsome task is trying to negotiate a new path for the country between a belligerent US and a defiant Iran, whose influence on Iraqi politics and security remains profound. Any future confrontation or war between the two countries is bound to take place on Iraqi soil.

“The assassinations of Suleimani and Muhandis broke the rules of the game that allowed both Iran and the US to exist together in Iraq and support each other’s factions during the fighting, not just because they faced the same enemy but because these were the rules that allowed Suleimani to travel across Iraq while the Americans were maintaining bases nearby,” said another source close to Muhandis and to the political leadership. “In a second all these rules were destroyed, and now they need to set up new rules.”

The shura council member said: “Everyone was looking at Iran, what it would do [and] how it would retaliate, but the reaction is here in Iraq. These factions have weapons, and they are well trained and violent, any one of them can take action either to avenge the killing of Muhandis and Suleimani or to show the leadership in Iran that he is their new man in Iraq. Any of these factions can start a war.”

And yet at the same time, nine months on from the US airstrike, the different factions are more divided than ever, even as they have been emboldened and given new purpose by his death.

“The killing of Suleimani disrupted the flow of the decision process for these factions, and they don’t act according to a general strategy,” the government official said.

He said Kadhimi believed that any direct confrontation with the factions was dangerous and could have serious political and security repercussions, with no guaranteed positive outcome.

He pointed to a raid in June on a militia cell in south Baghdad as an example. A unit from the counter-terrorism force raided a farmhouse and detained a group of Iraqi and Lebanese militiamen, accusing them of planning to fire a barrage of Katyusha rockets at the heavily fortified Green Zone. The same night, hundreds of members of the militia gathered on the streets in a show of force, while others moved on the strategic targets in the Green Zone. The next day the men were released.

“They sent a strong message to the prime minister, by coming close to his house, and he found himself alone,” the government official said. “The units he requested from the minister of defence never arrived. In a way the factions exposed their cards, showing the major positions they hold within the Green Zone and how will they react in any future confrontation.”

Kadhimi’s strategy, according to the official, is based on strengthening the army by advancing young officers, expanding the power of the counter-terrorism force and exploiting the rift between the pro-Sistani forces and the loyalist factions.

A senior Iraqi army officer said: “I sometimes think that the only solution to this crisis, of two states and two armies is a military solution. First we close Baghdad, issue an ultimatum for Hashed units to either join regular forces or we fight you.

“It will cause a bloodbath, but better to have two weeks of war than to keep postponing the confrontation.”