Chinook Tragedy: Taliban Acquisition of Night Vision Technology Probed

Posted on Thu 08/11/2011 by

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By Jim Kouri, CPP.

During the weekend, U.S. Special Operations troops were closing in on a secret Taliban summit thought to include a high-value commander in Afghanistan’s rugged Tangi Valley when they ran into an insurgent patrol that pinned them down.

Before dawn on Saturday, members of the elite U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six packed into a twin-rotor Chinook transport helicopter and rushed to the rescue of special operations troops pinned down by Taliban fighters.

As their Chinook was about to land, U.S. officials said, an insurgent shot it out of the sky with a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, in the deadliest attack endured by the American military in a decade of war in Afghanistan. Thirty U.S. special forces members were killed including members of SEAL Team 6.

Part of the post-incident investigation is a probe into how the Taliban acquired night vision technology and other high-tech equipment that allows them to attack a U.S. military force in the darkness of night.

Some experts believe Iran is responsible for the transfer of military equipment and weapons to terrorist groups and organized crime organizations.

Others believe that supporters of Jihad in the United States may have illegally sold military technology to terrorists and renegade Islamic nations such as Iran.

For decades, foreign adversaries of the United States have sought to acquire US and Western arms and technology through both legal and illegal means. Illicit trade in these items has allowed our enemies to secure the fruits of Western research and strategic technology at a relatively low cost, while placing US citizens, troops and national interests, as well as global security, at risk.

Sensitive products include aircraft, missile and weapons technology; materials and equipment used in the construction of nuclear weapons; night vision technology; biological and chemical warfare agents and their precursors; systems for weapons detection, tracking and monitoring; and a wide range of manufacturing technologies for microelectronics, computers and other digital components.

Strategic technologies and weapons are essential to the defense of the United States. In the wrong hands, however, these items could become instruments of terrorism or war that could be used against the United States.

As with any illicit trade, the precise volume of illegal exports is difficult to measure or even to estimate.  Federal investigations and seizures suggest that this global market amounts to tens of millions of dollars annually. However, the monetary value of these products pales in comparison to their strategic and military value.

The Homeland Security Department’s “Project Shield America” was created to prevent foreign adversaries, terrorists, and criminal networks from obtaining and trafficking in WMD and their components. The initiative also seeks to prevent these groups from obtaining sensitive US technologies, commodities, munitions and firearms. Furthermore, Project Shield America targets financial transactions that support these activities or violate US sanctions or embargoes.

Inspection and Interdiction — specially trained US Customs and Border Protection Inspectors are stationed at high-threat US ports of entry to inspect outbound shipments for possible violations of US export laws. Any violations are reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for further investigation.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org).  In addition, he’s a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Jim Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.

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