The UN’s Gaza Report Is Flawed and Dangerous

Article published in The New York Times, 26 June 2015. © Richard Kemp

As a British officer who had more than his share of fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, it pains me greatly to see words and actions from the United Nations that can only provoke further violence and loss of life. The United Nations Human Rights Council report on last summer’s conflict in Gaza, prepared by Judge Mary McGowan Davis, and published on Monday, will do just that.

The report starts by attributing responsibility for the conflict to Israel’s “protracted occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,” as well as the blockade of Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza 10 years ago. In 2007 it imposed a selective blockade only in response to attacks by Hamas and the import of munitions and military matériel from Iran. The conflict last summer, which began with a dramatic escalation in rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, was a continuation of Hamas’s war of aggression.

In an unusual concession, the report suggests that Hamas may have been guilty of war crimes, but it still legitimizes Hamas’s rocket and tunnel attacks and even sympathizes with the geographical challenges in launching rockets at Israeli civilians: “Gaza’s small size and its population density make it particularly difficult for armed groups always to comply” with the requirement not to launch attacks from civilian areas.

There is no such sympathy for Israel. Judge Davis accuses the Israel Defense Forces of “serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” Yet no evidence is put forward to substantiate these accusations. It is as though the drafters of the report believe that any civilian death in war must be illegal.

Referring to cases in which Israeli attacks killed civilians in residential areas, Judge Davis says that in the absence of contrary information available to her commission, there are strong indications that the attacks were disproportionate, and therefore war crimes. But all we get is speculation and the presumption of guilt.

The report is characterized by a lack of understanding of warfare. That is hardly surprising. Judge Davis admitted, when I testified Continue reading

The redoubtable Colonel Kemp

One man goes against the flow and challenges the majority view of Israel’s role in the Middle East.

by Paul Alster

Published in The Jerusalem Post, 12 May 2015

IT’S ALWAYS easier in life to go with the flow. Follow the crowd and keep your head down well beneath the parapet. That’s what most people do, regardless of whether or not they agree with the direction the flow is taking them.

One man who most certainly goes against the flow and challenges the majority view of Israel’s role in the Middle East, however, is Colonel Richard Kemp. The 55-year- old former commander of British forces in Afghanistan is possibly the highest profile non-Jewish advocate of Israel when it comes to defense matters and the manner in which the country’s various security services and intelligence agencies go about their work of protecting a nation surrounded by enemies.

Kemp first made headlines around the world in October 2009 when giving evidence to the UN Human Rights Council examining the controversial Goldstone Report. South African Judge Continue reading

The US must confront Tehran: achieving cooperation through coercion

Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has consistently responded to American overtures of peace with brutal force. When Ayatollah Khomenei sensed weakness in president Jimmy Carter, he increased hostile actions toward the US.

Now, when Washington is downsizing the production of aircraft carriers, Tehran is conducting exercises to blow them up.

Iran’s militant Islamic creed promotes confrontation with the West. Immediately after 9/11, some in the policy community suggested the US and Iran shared a mutual interest in stabilizing the region. Only later, when it was irrefutably discovered that Iran was facilitating both sides of the conflict and funneling weapons to insurgent groups that killed US and allied troops, did the idea fall into disfavor. It should not be forgotten that Iranian-sponsored attacks killed an estimated 1,100 US soldiers in Iraq between 2003 and 2010.

Currently, the US is conducting air strikes in Iraq and Syria in effective cooperation with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to dislodge marauding Sunni militias.

Yet, depending on further US action in Iraq and Syria, Iran will likely resume proxy attacks against American troops.

Because Iranian foreign policy is driven by bellicosity toward the US, it is by definition impossible for Iranian leaders to abandon hostility against the West without undermining the raison d’etre of the Islamic regime.

America’s traditional Sunni Arab allies have cast doubt on whether or not Washington is serious when it comes to combating Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East. They view US policies as accommodating, rather than confronting, Iranian behavior.

In Egypt, hitherto US support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its deposed leader, Mohammed Morsi, is perceived by moderate Sunni states as bad policy implemented for bad reasons. Current Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Sisi has expressed bewilderment over the lack of American support for his government’s battle against the Iranian-funded Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip and against radical Islamic groups taking up arms in the Sinai Peninsula. Continue reading

Protesters disown their university values

Article published in The Australian, 16 March 2015. © Richard Kemp

TACTICAL responses to insurgencies by the conventional armed forces of democratic states, and the ethical challenges of fighting an enemy that uses civilians as human shields and as targets, are topics of obvious relevance to Australian foreign policy and contemporary international affairs.

I was invited to address these issues at the University of Sydney 9from the standpoint of my experiences as a commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Iraq and elsewhere, and as the former head of international terrorism intelligence in the British Cabinet Office for the Joint Intelligence Committee and the national crisis management group, COBRA. As well as being a practitioner, I have studied and written extensively about these matters.

I spoke for about 20 minutes to an audience of about 100 students, academics and guests. A group of about a dozen people then stormed into the lecture theatre and started yelling at me and the audience through a megaphone, accusing me of “supporting genocide”, and trying to shut down the lecture.

The protesters occupied the lecture theatre, intimidated members of the audience and were intent on preventing the exchange of views my lecture was intended to facilitate. Two of the academics then joined them, one of whom I saw badgering an elderly woman who objected to him photographing her on his iPhone. When she tried to push the iPhone out of her face he grabbed her arm forcibly, and appeared to hurt her. When she retaliated physically, the academic — an associate professor — waved a $5 note in her face and the face of a Jewish student. Continue reading

Netanyahu, Churchill and Congress

Trying to avert war

First published by the Gatestone Institute, 1 March 2015

There are striking similarities between the objectives of Churchill’s speech nearly 75 years ago and Netanyahu’s today; both with no less purpose than to avert global conflagration. And, like Churchill’s in the 1930s, Netanyahu’s is the lone voice among world leaders today.

There is no doubt abut Iran’s intent. It has been described as a nuclear Auschwitz. Israel is not the only target of Iranian violence. Iran has long been making good on its promises to mobilize Islamic forces against the US, as well as the UK and other American allies. Attacks directed and supported by Iran have killed an estimated 1,100 American troops in Iraq in recent years. Iran provided direct support to Al Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks.

Between 2010 and 2013, Iran either ordered or allowed at least three major terrorist plots against the US and Europe to be planned from its soil. Fortunately, all were foiled.

Iran’s ballistic missile program, inexplicably outside the scope of current P5+1 negotiations, brings Europe into Iran’s range, and future development will extend Tehran’s reach to the US.

It is not yet too late to prevent Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons. In his 1941 speech to Congress, Churchill reminded the American people that five or six years previously it would have been easy to prevent Germany from rearming without bloodshed. But by then it was too late.

This vengeful and volatile regime must not in any circumstances be allowed to gain a nuclear weapons capability, Continue reading




I was a Colonel in the British Infantry. Much of my 29 years’ military service was spent countering terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, Great Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Macedonia. I was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan in 2003. I fought in the 1990-91 Gulf War and commanded British troops in Bosnia with the UN Protection Force and in Cyprus with the UN Force.

From 2002 – 2005 I was seconded to the UK Cabinet Office working on intelligence relating to international and domestic terrorism. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were among the extremist groups that I monitored and assessed in this role, and I had access to all secret intelligence available to the UK on these and other Palestinian extremist groups.

I was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire by the Queen in 1994 for counter terrorist intelligence services and Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2006 also for counter terrorist intelligence services.

I was in Israel for much of the summer 2014 Gaza conflict, specifically from 14 July – 8 August and from 27 August – 5 September. During these periods I met, was briefed by and questioned Israeli political leaders, senior officials and Israel Defence Force (IDF) soldiers from general officer down to private soldier. I spent a considerable amount of this time close to the Gaza border where I also met, was briefed by, questioned and observed many IDF officers and soldiers immediately before and after they had been in combat.

I was in Israel also for much of the Gaza conflict in 2012. I visited IDF units and held meetings with many IDF officers, government officials and political leaders before and since then. I have been acquainted with the IDF and the Israeli intelligence services for many years, both Continue reading

Jihadist attacks in Denmark

Article published in The Mirror, 16 February 2015. © Richard Kemp

The kind of attacks that we saw in Copenhagen and in Paris could easily happen here in the UK and probably will.

Many British youths have been radicalised in their mosques, at university, by the Internet or in prison.

A worrying number have already been drawn to travel to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria.

Some will return, blooded and experienced in killing, with the intention of attacking what they see as enemies of Islam.

These are the most dangerous. But others may also try and have a go as we have seen in the recent past. Their attacks, though perhaps less proficient, can also be deadly.

The targets will include those who have condemned violent jihadism as well as soldiers, police and Jews.

The police and intelligence and security services are on the alert for these people and have had a huge amount of success over recent years – saving many lives.

But some will get through the net.

It is the responsibility of members of our Islamic community to report those who they suspect of planning an attack.

Some, often courageously, have done so in the past. All who support the rule of law, freedom and democracy, should follow their example.

Without their help we are increasingly vulnerable to disaffected Muslim youths who want to copy the attackers in Denmark and France and lash out at Western society.

I don’t want to spread undue alarm but the reality is that we are in a downward spiral of jihadist violence which is set to continue as people here at home copy what is going on elsewhere in Europe – encouraged by the Islamic State death cult in the Middle East.

The ultimate solution can only be visible defeat of the Islamic State which will discourage their followers.

For now, the government seems to lack the military and diplomatic commitment necessary to bring this about.

Many have not yet grasped the true barbaric nature of ISIS and this execution is not surprising

Article published in The Mirror, 5 February 2015. © Richard Kemp

The execution of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh is deeply shocking but not surprising says Colonel Richard Kemp

The latest act of barbarity by the Islamic State is deeply shocking but not at all surprising.

Those who thought they might release the Jordanian pilot have not grasped the nature of the Islamic State.

They want to provoke Jordan, as the Hashemite Kingdom and neighbouring Lebanon are next on the target list.

Fortunately Israel, with her powerful defence forces, will step in to defend Jordan against attack.

But Jordan is one of our closest allies and we must also be prepared to come to their aid.

The burning to death of the brave Jordanian pilot, downed in the fight against the Islamic State, will only boost support for them, especially in Europe.

We will see increasing numbers of young Muslims travelling from London, Paris and Berlin to join in the orgy of torture, death and destruction.

Even worse we will see many of them coming home, blooded, battle-hardened and under orders to inflict the kind of violence we have seen recently in Paris, Sydney, Ottawa and on the streets of London when Drummer Lee Rigby was butchered.

Violence and victory are vital to the Islamic State’s strategy of expansion around the globe – not just in the Middle East but in North Africa, in Pakistan and in Afghanistan.

The only way to undermine their growing support is to inflict repeated crushing and humiliating defeats on them – and to be seen to do so.

That cannot be done by politicians’ hand-wringing and fine words.

It can only be done by tough military action.

Britain is punching well below her weight in the war against the Islamic State and must send more forces, both in the air and on the ground – now.

To wait until the summer, when the election is over, may seem attractive to vacillating politicians worried about their votes.

But it puts the security of our country, our people and our allies at much greater risk.

A British soldier in Sangin

The Islamic State in Afghanistan

Article published in The Sunday Express, 18 January 2015. © Richard Kemp

As British and American forces were moving out of Afghanistan last autumn, clear signs were already emerging that the Islamic State were planning to move in. Despite the warnings from Iraq and Syria this had no effect on NATO withdrawal plans, leaving a security vacuum that now threatens a full-scale re-run of the jihadist onslaught in the Middle East.

A British soldier in Sangin
A British soldier in Sangin

In recent weeks we have seen increasing evidence that the Islamic State’s Khorasan group, encompassing both Pakistan and Afghanistan, is building a dangerous presence there. Circumstances in Afghanistan and Pakistan are different to Iraq and Syria where isolated and fractured security forces were unable to prevent rapid gains by the Islamic State.

But the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan face huge security challenges and, though not as weak as their Middle East counterparts, also lack capability. It would be naïve in the extreme to assume the Islamic State could not extend its brutal tyranny into vast swathes of territory in both countries.

In Pakistan, the Taliban and Al Qaida are in disarray. The Pakistan Taliban are fractured by tribal infighting and increased pressure from government forces. Following the devastating US drone Continue reading

Europe Needs an anti-ISIS Playbook

Tepid tutting won’t stop the flow of jihadists to Syria, but strong action might


Article published in The Wall Street Journal, 18 December 2014

For decades, European governments have made multiculturalism an integral part of their social agendas, particularly with respect to immigrant Muslim communities. The core values were supposed to be pluralism and individual freedom, but in practice multiculturalism has only stoked radical Islam’s unyielding nature and enabled it to subvert European society.

Many immigrant Muslim groups have not only been able to segregate themselves from the larger community. They have also made strident demands of national lawmakers and local authorities for, among other things, the right to exercise Shariah law, to impose Islamic educational principles and to prioritize perceived Muslim sensitivities over Europe’s liberal norms.

For many European Islamists, the urge to respond to the call of jihad is strengthened by the governments in Europe that legitimize their grievances. When demonstrators in July chanted “Death to the Jews” while waving the black flag of Islamic State, they gathered freely—not in Syria or Iraq, but in the Hague, where their right to support that genocidal group was protected.

Islamic State has declared, and capably demonstrated, its intentions to achieve genocidal goals. The group espouses an extreme form of Sunni Islam, which it pursues brutally through mass executions, crucifixions and beheadings, and answers to the word of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a zealot so radical that even al Qaeda has denounced him, albeit for its own tactical purpose.

For now, Islamic State’s efforts are focused mainly on Syria and Iraq, where it has conquered large swaths of territory and butchered non-Muslims, Sunni “apostates” and Shiite Muslims. If not confronted, however, it’s only a matter of time before it turns its attention outward. This week’s hostage-taking in Sydney is an early warning of the group’s magnetic effect on violent residents of the West. With more than 15,000 European jihadists now fighting with Islamic State, some of these radical soldiers are bound to return home, bloodied, carrying crucial military experience, and with blueprints and orders for further destruction and conquest.

More than 40 countries have already joined an anti-Islamic State coalition. The U.N. Security Council has adopted a binding resolution compelling states to prevent their nationals from joining jihadists in Iraq and Syria. That’s a start.

Meanwhile, recent reports indicate that hundreds, if not thousands, of European jihadists are becoming disillusioned with Islamic State. According to media reports, Continue reading

Security – Defence – Intelligence – Counter Terrorism