10 FEB 17 – Executive Intelligence Summary – Forward Observer Shop

10 FEB 17 – Executive Intelligence Summary


[wcm_nonmember]In this EXSUM… (2721 words)

  • Is the Trump administration gearing up for a fight on the border?
  • Russia & China SITREPs
  • Defense in Brief
  • Political Violence Roll-Up
  • Economic Outlook
  • And more…


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[wcm_restrict plan =”fo-osint”]

Bottom Line Up Front: I spent a lot of time this week scouring social media to compile a definitive list of chapters of Leftist revolutionary organizations.  I’ve identified over 100 Antifa groups, 37 official Black Lives Matter chapters, and have started on lists for other groups  (I’ll be publishing those lists in a separate report). I’ve finished plotting all the Antifa groups for which I had locations; some are state and regional networks, as opposed to local groups.  (And there are undoubtedly other Antifa groups who lack a social media presence, and other Black Lives Matter chapters not listed or not recognized by the official movement.)  Using the map below as a starting point, I’d encourage you to investigate local groups for your own general awareness.  Once we have the Intelliwiki up and running (I have a meeting for it next week), then members will be able to post information about local groups or conditions or submit it anonymously to be added by FO staff.  The task before me right now is to provide early warning for events at a regional or local level (for instance, see this week’s Antifa Roll-Up in PIR 3).  I will also be running a situation map of documented Leftist political violence that will be available starting next week (to include this week’s events).


Click to Enlarge

I’ve also been using a social network analysis tool called Maltego.  I punch in a social media account from Twitter or Facebook, for instance, and the software will map out associations and some other information.  (Thank you to everyone who donated for the large purchase.)  I’m still learning more about its advanced uses, however, I do want provide you with an example of reports that I can now run.  This is a report (DOWNLOAD) from the Twitter account @ash_antifa, an Antifa group out of Richmond, VA.  Here are some high points of the report:

  • On Page 3 of the PDF, we can see hashtags used by the account
  • Starting on Page 4 of the PDF, we can see what types of phrases the account has been using
  • On Page 7 of the PDF, you can see some general information about the account.
  • Starting on Page 9 of the PDF, we start to see individual tweets from the account.
  • On Page 11 of the PDF, we can see @ash_antifa published an alert that “fascist” activity was going on at some colleges in Virginia
Click to Enlarge

The usefulness of these reports will depend on how much information the account is producing, however, being able to see the tweet history of the account could be very useful, especially in finding associations.  From these associations, we may be able to finger the identities of individual members.  Here’s a screenshot of @ash_antifa’s affiliations (below).

Additionally, we can get a good pulse on how violent or vitriolic these groups are, or get a jump start on future events (early warning).  For instance, @ash_antifa posted this, which may provide early warning for a May Day (01 May) strike in the Richmond area, among other places (just like every other May Day):

Shoutout to all you service workers! #rvadine #resist #M1GS #MayDay #generalstrike

This is just a very general example, but I want to stress the value of gathering information via social media.  Remember: a small key can open a large door, and one string in a ball of yarn can unravel the whole thing.  We can do this social network analysis for Twitter, Facebook, Instragram (photos), Periscope (videos), email addresses, phone numbers, and a host of other signatures (and that’s before we get to geolocating tweets).  Maltego is extremely powerful, and I want to make sure that I put it to good use.  If you have Twitter (or Facebook, etc.) accounts for local violent groups or individuals — be they Leftist groups, gangs, or other criminals — then I’ll be able to run reports like these for you.  Extract what valuable threat intelligence information you can and then add it to your Area Study binders.  Shoot me an email with social media account information (be reasonable) and I’ll put it in the queue.

Whether Antifa and Leftist violence finishes its moment, or strengthens as a movement; it’s important to me that I stay on top of these groups.  As always, I’ll be here to discover and report what I can.  As a reminder, I’ll be focusing much less on Russia and China in order to focus on more domestic threat issues.  Thank you for your continued support.  – SC

PS. As conditions have changed, so have my PIRs.  I’ve made another round of modifications.  Notable gang and cartel activity will now fall under PIR 1, along with systems disruption (to law and order, for instance); and PIR 3 now covers all indicators of organized political violence.  I’ve also changed the reporting format of PIR2 and PIR3 to include links.  Please let me know if you like this format better than the previous one.


Priority Intelligence Requirements:

PIR1: What are the current indicators of systems disruption or instability that could lead to civil unrest or violence?

PIR2: What are the current indicators of an outbreak of global conflict?

PIR3: What are the current indicators of organized political violence?

PIR4: What are the current indicators of economic, financial, or monetary instability?

PIR1: What are the current indicators of systems disruption or instability that could lead to civil unrest or violence?

Cartels to take new measures against improved border security

A District Attorney in Brownsville, TX recently described a case where cartel members had a well-placed agent inside the US Border Patrol, who was eventually convicted of aiding organized crime.  The DA also said that improved border security would make it more difficult for the cartels to operate across the border, but that corruption continues to be a problem as cartels bribe or coerce US law enforcement offers.


Is the Trump administration gearing up for a fight on the border?

In an interview with Bill O’Reilly, President Trump said that Mexican president Pieña Nieto was “very willing” to accept the aid of the US military in the fight against the cartels.  “We have to do something about the cartels. I did talk to him [Pieña Nieto] about it. I want to help him with it. He seemed very willing to get help from us because he has got a problem … and it’s a real problem for us. Don’t forget those cartels are operating in our country. And they’re poisoning the youth of our country.”

Just yesterday, Trump signed a series of executive orders; two of which concerned international drug trafficking and cartels.  The first executive order focuses on international drug trafficking and will allow the US Government to better target drug cartels, which were blamed for an increase in drug-related deaths and drug-use epidemics across the US.  President Trump also accused the cartels of creating “a corresponding rise in violent crime related to drugs”.  The third order signed on Thursday directs the Attorney General to create a new task force to pursue crime reduction, with a focus on curbing illegal immigration and violent crimes, especially those associated with cartel activity.

Opponents of Trump’s plan to build a border wall have long criticized the plan because they say ‘a wall is not a solution’.  But if the Trump administration has the US military support US Border Patrol in their efforts to curb illegal immigration and drug running, then a wall becomes one piece of a much broader effort to control our porous border.  If officials are successful in interdicting and blocking cartel activity over the border, then we may see a host of other problems; namely increases in the price of drugs which leads to an increase in domestic drug production.  It may also mean what we see an increase in drug-related violence.  The legalization of marijuana and skyrocketing domestic production has nearly wiped out the cartels’ monopoly on the industry.  US demand for foreign-produced drugs will continue to be the real driver of cartel profits and activities.

PIR2: What are the current indicators of an outbreak of global conflict?

The prospects of global conflict continue to revolve around the usual players: Russia, China, and the Middle East. The ways in which global conflict could cause or contribute to a SHTF scenario in America are myriad and they largely depend on which conflict is initiated. We’re certainly at risk of cyber attack in the event of conflict in any of the three regions. Systems disruption, like the price and availability of fuel, is also a top concern that could cause a SHTF event.


This week, the Russian military resumed snap checks of military readiness, which included strategic bombers and air defense units.  Last year, military snap checks alarmed NATO commanders as Vladimir Putin tested his military’s ability to respond and rapidly deploy to a conflict.  Those exercises not only tested Putin’s military, but were also intended to send a signal to the West.  There are no new indicators this week that suggest war is more imminent than last week.

Read File:

Estonian Intelligence: Russia Unlikely to Attack NATO in 2017

Baltic States Seek Help from NATO Ahead of Russian Military Exercises

UK Defence Minister Warns of Russian Hacking Destabilizing the West




Last week Defense Secretary James Mattis last week ruled out a military confrontation in the South China Sea, but said that freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) will continue.  And that means that things could actually heat up again.  The Obama administration launched only four FONOPS, and that number is widely expected to increase with Mattis at the helm of South China Sea military planning.  According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Mattis is “deeply distrustful” of the Chinese and the Trump administration is not willing to pursue Obama’s policy of firm appeasement.  And combined with Trump’s policy on Taiwan independence, it’s too early to say that the US and China have avoided war even if Mattis said that a military confrontation isn’t in the cards (for now).  Last week, I included that Steve Bannon, Chief Strategist of the Trump Administration, said in March 2016 that the US would end up going to war with China in five to ten years.  The fact of the matter is that China is actually much weaker than they have been in previous years.  With worsening economic problems on its horizon, China’s ability to promote nationalism through its financial and economic strength will be diminished.  That means that they may rely on promoting or demonstrating military strength instead.

Read File:

Philippines: China Likely to Build More Islands

NAI: Time’s Up for Soft China Policy

China Can Neither Be Dislodged from the South China Sea, Nor Control It


Defense in Brief:

The Army is preparing to test and evaluate up-armored Stryker vehicles as part of the European Reassurance Initiative .  They’re currently having problems with adding armor weight to the vehicles without significantly impacting mobility.  This continues a trend I pointed out late last year that the Army is building a greater capacity for deploying heavy and armored units  The 3rd Infantry Division announced plans last year to convert a light infantry brigade into an armored brigade.  Both of these moves are meant to deter Russian invasion into eastern Europe.  The Pentagon hopes to begin fielding the up-armored Strykers in Europe by the Spring of 2018.

In Senate testimony this week, Army vice chief of staff stated that only three of the US Army’s 58 Brigade Combat Teams (including National Guard units) were combat-ready.  That equates to a military readiness rate of just five percent.  Last year the Army was at 33 percent combat ready.  Senators also learned that 53 percent of the Navy’s aircraft can’t fly; the Air Force has a shortage of 723 fighter pilots; the Marine Corps is short about 3,000 personnel.  Each of these were blamed on budget cuts, leading some law makers to call for canceling the Budget Control Act of 2011, which is also referred to as ‘sequestration’.


PIR3: What are the current indicators of organized political violence?

Political Violence Roll-Up:

CA: GOP Congressman Gets Police Escort During Protest

CA: Berkeley Student Newspaper Publishes Articles Defending Political Violence

CA: Berkeley Republicans Targeted Following Riot on Campus

CA: Bay Area Conservatives Keep Mouths Shut Fearing Violence

SC: Area Radio Stations Hacked, Play “F*** Donald Trump” Song (Also in Seattle, Louisville, and San Angelo, Texas)

UT, MI, TN, IL, CA: Leftist Protests (Non-Violent) at GOP Congressional Townhalls

Anti-Planned Parenthood Protests and Counter-protests in 40 States Scheduled for Sat, 11 FEB


Antifa Roll-Up:

GA: Antifa Propaganda Posted in Atlanta

NY: Antifa Protestors Arrested During LGBTQ Rally


NOTE: On 29 April, the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP) is scheduled to hold an event in Pikeville, KY for “white working families” to discuss problems facing their community.  The event is sponsored by the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group.  On Thursday, a call went out for anti-fascists (Antifa) groups to show up to disrupt the event.  Those in the Pikeville, KY area should be advised of the potential for civil unrest.  (More Info…)  On a side note, the flyer (below) is very sharp and has a strong message.  This is what we refer to as information operations, or propaganda, and I think it’s an example of very effective messaging.




Black Lives Matter Roll-Up:

TX: Black Women Arm Themselves Against Racism

FL: #BLM March in Brevard County (Thurs, 08 FEB)

AR: #BLM Banner Goes Viral in Fayetteville

NY: NYPD Must Release Files About Undercover Spying on #BLM

NY: #BLM Day in Rochester

KY: Rally Planned Against ‘Blue Lives Matter Bill’ in Frankfurt

ME: #BLM Flag Raising at University of Maine


I haven’t looked at the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement website in a while, but recently noticed a significant change.  There are currently 37 official BLM Movement chapters across the US (plotted on the map in the BLUF).  As I’ve watched some of the counterintelligence practices among the Antifa groups, I wonder if the BLM Movement isn’t also trying to control its membership to prevent infiltration.  That page of the website clearly warns (http://blacklivesmatter.com/find-chapters/ <– copy/paste this URL):

  • Please note that #BlackLivesMatter is a network predicated on Black self-determination, and BLM Chapters reserve the right to limit participation based on this principle.

  • Please be aware that BLM Chapters have varying membership policies, and may or may not be accepting new members at this time. Also note that membership requirements vary by chapter.


PIR4: What are the current indicators of economic, financial, or monetary instability that lead to worsening economic conditions or civil unrest?

There’s been nothing but good news, at least in the near term, for economic prospects in the US.  January’s jobs report beat expectations and there’s definitely a shift in economic outlook.  Businesses small and large expect the Trump administration’s economic policies to be beneficial for growth, which has spurred hiring.  The Federal Reserve of Philadelphia recently published its 1st Quarter outlook, saying that, “The U.S. economy looks stronger now than it did three months ago, according to 42 forecasters surveyed…”  The prospects of a rapidly improving economy make Obama look very foolish, especially because increased expectations are mainly due to rhetoric of the Trump administration.  There have been no specific policies beyond simple rhetoric that would contribute to a strengthening economy, so I’m interested in what the Trump administration produces.  Still, we have to credit Team Trump for coming in and being very deliberate in their new direction of economic growth.

Trade wars, hot wars, terrorism, and systems disruption top my short list of possible near term economic threats, however, pending any black swan events, I see no reason to believe that an economic disaster is imminent.  We’re still overdue for a recession, but I think between the very late and questionable recovery from the 2008 recession and the Trump victory, we may have somewhat reset the trend.  If you’ll remember, for the past 100 years the US has experienced a recession every roughly six to eight years.  Eight years from 2008 is 2016, but if we never really exited the last recession then that number is moved to the right.  Another possibility I see is that certain policies intended to have positive effects over the long term could have negative effects in the short term, but we’ll see how specific policies play out.


Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.


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