November 17, 2018

A Top-Secret Israeli Anti-Terrorism Operation Is Changing the Game

“On a spring evening in late April, I traveled to a fortified compound in the Ayalon Valley between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The location is not identified on Waze, the Israeli-built navigation tool, and so, as far as my app-addled cabdriver was concerned, it does not exist. Then again, the same could be said for its inhabitants: YAMAM, a band of counterterror operatives whose work over the last four decades has been shrouded in secrecy.

Upon arrival at the group’s headquarters, which has all the architectural warmth of a supermax, I made my way past a phalanx of Israeli border police in dark-green battle-dress uniforms and into a blastproof holding pen where my credentials were scanned, my electronic devices were locked away, and I received a lecture from a counter-intelligence officer who was nonplussed that I was being granted entrée to the premises. “Do not reveal our location,” he said. “Do not show our faces. And do not use our names.” Then he added, grimly, and without a hint of irony, “Try to forget what you see.”

YAMAM is the world’s most elite—and busiest—force of its kind, and its expertise is in high demand in an era when ISIS veterans strike outside their remaining Middle East strongholds and self-radicalized lone wolves emerge to attack Western targets. “Today, after Barcelona,” says Gilad Erdan, who for the past three years has been Israel’s minister for public security, “after Madrid, after Manchester, after San Bernardino—everyone needs a unit like YAMAM.” More and more, the world’s top intelligence and police chiefs are calling on YAMAM (a Hebrew acronym that means “special police unit”). During his first month on the job, recalls Erdan, “I got requests from 10 countries to train together.””

Read more

JJ Best Of The Web

"You are being watched. Right now, cookies are tracking which websites you visit and what you click on while you’re there. Your smartphone is logging your location."

"The US placed sanctions on 17 Saudis on Thursday as punishment for their alleged involvement in the murder of Saudi journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi... according to experts, the move doesn’t go far enough to reprimand the kingdom."

"If the slow-motion crisis that is Gaza ever has a turning point, then this week’s deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, or what’s left of it, and Hamas leaders, under siege, is what the turning would look like."

"Nicholas Parisi's new biography, 'Rod Serling: His Life, Work, and Imagination,' fails to present a complete picture of the legendary screenwriter who did his best work outside the TV show that made him famous."

"Nearly a year after the tax cut, economic growth has accelerated. Wage growth has not. Companies are buying back stock and business investment is a mixed bag."

"By shifting accents, Australian expatriates are seen to be shifting class and status, indicating a sense of superiority to those who remain in Australia. The quickly acquired faux-British accent in particular has been associated with pretension..."

"Denim, usually in the form of the humble pair of jeans, is arguably the world’s most popular fabric. Over the years, it’s been worn by everyone from supermodels to soccer moms."

"Capitalism disadvantages women along several axes. The dawn of the industrial revolution enshrined a division of labor that largely confined them to the domestic sphere."

"In the past five or so years, hosting a Thanksgiving meal among friends a week before the actual holiday has become a standard part of the celebration for many young adults."

"Are these business owners trying to keep out certain customers? What about children? Or people who are paid in cash, or others who, for whatever reason, can’t or won’t open a bank account..."

"Humanity is on the verge of a weighty achievement. On Friday, representatives of more than 60 nations will convene in Versailles, France, to approve a new definition for the kilogram."

"...the more modern form of the movement has its roots in late 19th-century Europe... The sole focus of some missions based in England and the U.S. was the conversion of the Jews to Christianity..."