Chad’s Morning Brief: Scottish Independence To Be Decided Today, Australia Foils ISIS Terrorist Plot to Behead Citizens, and Other Top Stories
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of September 18, 2014. Give me your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am. Remember, you can listen online at KFYO.com or on your iPhone/Android with the radioPup App.
All eyes will be on Scotland today as the people will head to the polls to decide their future. Will Scotland end their 307-year-old-union with Britain or will they stay? According to FOX News, we will find out tonight.
Polls opened across the nation at 7 a.m. local time (2 a.m. Eastern) and will close at 10 p.m. (5 p.m. Eastern). The first results are not expected to be announced until approximately 2 a.m. Friday (9 p.m. Eastern). Turnout is expected to be high, with 4.2 million people registered to vote -- 97 percent of eligible voters.
Opinion polls suggest that the race is too close to call, though most surveys taken in the final days of the campaign have given the pro-Union "No" side a slight lead.
In Scotland's capital, Edinburgh, a heavy stream of voters began arriving at a polling station in the city center the moment it opened.
One of the first, Anne Seaton, said she had voted Yes -- "because why not?"
"Scotland got under the English Parliament by mischance," in 1707, she said. "It's time now for Scotland to make a deliberate decision for independence."
But financial consultant Michael MacPhee, a No voter, said he would observe the returns coming in "with anxiety," saying Scottish independence was "the daftest idea I've ever heard."
British Prime Minister David Cameron has pleaded with Scottish voters not to secede, and predictions of economic doom, military upheaval and isolation have dogged the debate.
Credit Suisse, Japan's Nomura and other banks warning of a deep recession for both Scotland and the rest of the U.K., and even the Royal Bank of Scotland, has pledged to move operations south of the border should Scots vote “yes.”
There are also serious defense implications should Scotland vote for independence, not just for the United Kingdom but for the United States and NATO. Cameron recently told Parliament that a number of NATO members had raised concerns about the referendum and a NATO official told FoxNews.com that secession would mean Scotland is no longer part of NATO and would have to reapply.
Of similar concern is the cornerstone of the U.K.’s national defense, a system capable of delivering nuclear weapons from ballistic missiles launched from four Trident submarines stationed along Scotland’s west coast. The Scottish government’s plan for independence, which includes an Independence Day of March 24, 2016, suggests that the nukes would no longer be welcome, saying “we will be able to remove Trident from Scotland’s soil and stop paying toward the £100 billion lifetime cost of a new generation of nuclear weapons.”
The move has shocked many British military analysts, with former British defense chief Sir Mark Stanhope telling SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond such a move would usher in “a dangerous period of destabilization in our nuclear defense posture at a time when the international picture is clearly deteriorating.”
In August, the Royal United Services Institute released a report finding that relocating Trident to Falmouth, England, would cost $5.8 billion, could not be completed by the 2020 deadline set by the Scottish government and may be politically unfeasible.
That’s the goal of one part of the “Yes” coalition, The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Coordinator John Ainslie told FoxNews.com that forcing the United Kingdom to remove missiles from Scotland with no viable contingency plan could lead to the U.K. dropping the program altogether.
“A Yes vote will not just move Trident south of the border,” Ainslie said. “It is likely to result in London deciding to scrap Trident."
Defense experts say a weakened United Kingdom makes for a weakened NATO, the 28-member alliance whose covenant requires any external threat against one to be answered by all.
In addition to the nuclear issue, the UK has a series of military and intelligence bases in Scotland, some or all of which may have to be moved. The task would be monumental, and a British Ministry of Defense spokesman told FoxNews.com that they have not yet started contingency planning.
A breakup could even have serious implications for President Obama, who at a joint press conference with Cameron in June said the United States wanted the U.K. to remain a "strong, robust, united and effective partner.” Should Britain destabilize following a “yes” vote, and undergo a recession and face a requirement to move nuclear weapons from Scotland, it could affect Britain’s military effectiveness in the fight in the Middle East, say experts.
“Britain is one of our allies in this, and a confused [and] diminished Britain is perhaps not as good an ally as a confident Britain,” Dana Allin, senior fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy and Transatlantic Affairs at the International Institute for Strategic Affairs, told Fox News.com.
Additionally for Obama, one of his strongest personal allies could be in trouble, as some members of Parliament have said Cameron will likely face a leadership challenge should he fail to keep the United Kingdom together.
In such a scenario, Cameron would have less political capital with which to persuade fellow politicians of deeper military involvement in the Middle East, and could also be distracted by domestic affairs at home to focus on backing Obama’s plan in the Middle East. Yet, subtracting Scotland’s 50-member, heavily Labor Party contingent from the UK Parliament could ensure Conservative Party dominance for years.
Australia Prevents Attack
According to FOX News, Australian authorities have disrupted a plot by ISIS to behead citizens in Australia. The attack on citizens was supposed to show the reach ISIS has.
Australian counterterrorism forces detained 15 people Thursday in a series of suburban raids after receiving intelligence that the Islamic State movement was planning public beheadings in two Australian cities to demonstrate its reach.
About 800 federal and state police officers raided more than a dozen properties across 12 Sydney suburbs as part of the operation -- the largest in Australian history, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin told the Associated Press. Separate raids in the eastern cities of Brisbane and Logan were also conducted.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the plan involved kidnapping randomly selected members of the public off the streets in Sydney and Brisbane, beheading them on camera, and releasing the recordings through Islamic State's propaganda arm in the Middle East.
Police allege that orders for the attacks came from Mohammad Ali Baryalei, a 33-year-old former Sydney nightclub bouncer who is believed to be the highest-ranking Australian in Islamic State, also known as ISIS. A 22-year-old Sydney man, Omarjan Azari, appeared in court Thursday and is accused of conspiring with Baryalei and others to act in preparation for or plan a terrorist act or acts.
Prosecutor Michael Allnutt said he was involved in a "plan to commit extremely serious offenses" that was "clearly designed to shock and horrify" the public. It is not immediately clear what sentence Azari faces if convicted. The accused did not apply for bail and did not enter a plea. His next court appearance was set for November 13.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reporters that he had been briefed on Wednesday night about the operation and discussed the planned beheadings.
"That's the intelligence we received," he told reporters. "The exhortations -- quite direct exhortations -- were coming from an Australian who is apparently quite senior in ISIL to networks of support back in Australia to conduct demonstration killings here in this country." ISIL is another name for the militant group that has established control over large parts of Iraq and Syria.
The planned public attacks resemble the murder of Lee Rigby, a British soldiers who was attacked and killed in May 2013 by two Nigerian-born Muslim converts near the Royal Artillery Barracks in southeast London.
"This is not just suspicion, this is intent and that's why the police and security agencies decided to act in the way they have," Abbott added.
The arrests come just days after the country raised its terror warning to the second-highest level in response to the domestic threat posed by supporters of ISIS.
While it's great that authorities were able to prevent the attack, it does show just how far reaching ISIS is. One has to wonder what attacks are being planned on other countries.
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