• Terrorism

    In 2017, militants conducted 22,487 attacks worldwide, down 7.1 percent from 24,202 in 2016, according to the annual Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center (JTIC) Global Attack Index released Thursday. The 2017 attack figure decreased only slightly compared to 2016, but the resultant 18,475 non-militant fatalities represented a much more significant 33 percent decrease year on year, and an even larger 45 percent decrease from the average fatality total over the preceding five years. More than 700 suicide attacks were conducted in 2017, causing almost 4,000 fatalities – a slight increase in attacks from 2016 but a more than one-third decline in fatalities. The upcoming World Cup in Russia in June likely presents a particularly attractive target for the Islamic State, given Russia’s role in the group’s territorial defeat in addition to the participation of the Saudi and Iranian national teams.

  • Risk assessment

    The Global Risks Report 2018, published this week by the World Economic Forum cautions that we are struggling to keep up with the accelerating pace of change. It highlights numerous areas in which we are pushing systems to the brink, from extinction-level rates of biodiversity loss to mounting concerns about the possibility of new wars. The reports says that the structural and interconnected nature of risks in 2018 threatens the very system on which societies, economies, and international relations are based – but that the positive economic outlook gives leaders the opportunity to tackle systemic fragility.

  • Homegrown terrorism

    The number of white supremacist murders in the United States more than doubled in 2017 compared to the previous year, far surpassing murders committed by domestic Islamic extremists and making 2017 the fifth deadliest year on record for extremist violence since 1970. In its annual assessment of extremist-related killings, the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism found white supremacists and other far-right extremists were responsible for 59 percent of all extremist-related fatalities in the United States in 2017, up dramatically from 20 percent in 2016.

  • Terrorism

    The Departments of Homeland Security and Justice (DHS/DOJ) on Tuesday released a report on the threat of international terrorism. The new DHS/DOJ report produces little new information on immigration and terrorism and portrays some misleading and meaningless statistics as important findings. For example, since the beginning of 2002 through 2017, native-born Americans were responsible for 78 percent of all murders in terrorist attacks committed on U.S. soil while foreign-born terrorists only committed 22 percent. Including the actual number of deaths caused by terrorists flips the DHS/DOJ statistics on its head. Also: During 2002-2017, the chance of being murdered in a terrorist attack committed by a native-born American on U.S. soil was about one in 40.6 million per year. During the same period, the chance of being murdered by a foreign-born terrorist was about 145 million per year. The annual chance of being murdered in a non-terrorist homicide was about one in 19,325 per year, or about 1,641 times as great as being killed in any terrorist attack since 9/11.

  • African security

    Defense ministers from five countries in the Sahel region – the vast area immediately south of the Sahara Desert, extending from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to northern Ethiopia in the east – joined the French defense minister in a meeting in Paris in the latest push of joint antiterrorism force in the fragile region. “The joint force is gaining momentum… the first operation has taken place, the second one is starting today,” Malian Defense Minister Tiena Coulibaly told reporters.

  • Smart sensors

    Crime, terrorism prevention, environmental monitoring, reusable electronics, medical diagnostics and food safety, are just a few of the far-reaching areas where a new chemical sensor could revolutionize progress. Engineers at the University of Oxford have used material compounds, known as Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs), to develop technology that senses and responds to light and chemicals. The material visibly changes color depending on the substance detected.

  • Terrorism

    Israel’s prime minister tells NATO ambassadors that Israeli intelligence has thwarted “several dozen major terrorist attacks” against countries in Europe — some involving crashing highjacked planes into urban centers. Netanyahu expressed Israel’s growing concern with the de facto control Iran and Hezbollah are gaining over Syria. Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said the most serious immediate threat to Israel was posed by Hezbollah, followed by other Iran-supported jihadist groups positioned on the Syrian border.

  • Syria

    Israel’s security cabinet has convened several times in recent days, holding “extremely significant” meetings to discuss the threats on Israel’s northern border, as well as necessary diplomatic activity to prevent Syria from turning into a foothold for Iranian forces. News media reports stated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held telephone conversations with world leaders and warned them of Iran’s growing influence in Lebanon and Syria through their terror proxy Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shiite militia forces in Syria.

  • Syria

    Russia says thirteen armed drones have recently been used to attack its air base and its naval facility in western Syria. The Russian Defense Ministry said on 8 January that there were no casualties or damage as a result of the attacks on the Hmeimim air base and Tartus naval facility. Russian forces were able to overpower radio signals for some of the drones and gain control of them during the attacks overnight on 5-6 January, a statement said.

  • Terrorism & remembrance

    It has been three years since gunmen attacked the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people. In the days that followed, five more lost their lives while police hunted for the perpetrators – brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi. Eventually, they were shot dead after an eight-hour standoff involving hostages. These events, and the way they have been memorialized since, have triggered a shift in some elements of French national identity – the collection of ideas, symbols and emotions that define what it means to be French – particularly the national motto, “liberté, égalité, fraternité.” In the aftermath of terror, the ideals of France’s past have subtly morphed, as its people look for ways to defend the right to free speech, while mourning the harsh reality of its cost. Amid all this conflict, there is some reassurance to be found: Paris’s contested sites and spaces are proof that freedom of speech is alive and well in France. Satire, after all, has a longer history than terrorism.

  • Iran

    The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on five Iranian entities over their involvement in developing ballistic missiles and signaled that more punitive measures are in play in response to the Islamic Republic’s crackdown of anti-government protests. The five designated companies are all subsidiaries of Iran’s Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group (SBIG), which is part of the Iranian Defense Ministry.

  • Homegrown terrorism

    Intense media coverage of a so-called “alt-right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned deadly last August fueled the notion that far-right violent extremism in the United States in 2017 was a growing and severe threat. But has it really increased? The average number of far right-inspired attacks from 1990 to 2016 was 7.5 per year, and the average number of victims was 11 per year (these figures exclude the 1995 Oklahoma City attack, in which 168 people were killed, and attacks by far-right extremists in which ideology appeared not to have been a motive). In 2017, there were 8 far right-inspired attacks, which killed 9 people. If the number of fatal far-right extremist attacks in 2017 was average, why is there a perception of an increase? The short answer would be that ideologically motivated homicides are not the only way to measure extremism. More importantly, in many ways, an “average” year demonstrates the perseverance and deadliness of far-right extremism, with its fringe ideology continuing to appeal to a minority of Americans. For decades, it has adapted to cultural and technological shifts in American society, for example, utilizing the internet and social media for recruitment and the proliferation of extremist ideas. Far-rightists also pose a grave threat to racial, ethnic, religious and other minorities in the United States. Whether they are wearing white hoods and burning crosses or wearing button-up shirts and carrying Tiki torches, the underlying ideological tenets of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, paranoia and anti-government sentiments pose a violent risk to the American public.

  • Terrorism

    This is the end of 2017, but the complete, authoritative numbers relating to terrorism in 2016 are finally in. These numbers show that for the second year in a row, the total number of deaths caused by terrorism has declined. The reduction in deaths is encouraging, but despite this 2016 was the third deadliest year since 2000. While the intensity of terrorism in many countries has decreased, it continues to spread to an increasing number of countries.

  • Radical leftist militancy

    A far-left militant group calling itself the Redneck Revolt says it aims to put “the red back in redneck” – “red” as in communist red – and use aggressive tactics to promote social justice and protects minorities. Armed members of Redneck Revolt can often be seen providing protection to minority groups such as Black Lives Matter and to other left-leaning groups conducting marches and demonstrations. Redneck Revolt insists that the group should not be compared to another leftist militant group — the Anti-fa group. Members of Redneck Revolt explain the difference as mainly one of tactics: Anti-fa are willing to engage in property destruction, cover their faces in “black bloc,” and occasionally punch Nazis on the street. “We don’t do that,” a member of Redneck Revolt said firmly. “We do everything within the law.”

  • Hemispheric security

    For the first time, an Argentinian judge ruled that Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor investigating Iran’s involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and the agreement made by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with Iran, was murdered. Judge Julián Ercolini’s ruling comes in the same month that Kirchner, former foreign minister Hector Timerman, and several of Kirchner’s colleagues were indicted for treason over Nisman’s allegations that her and her team covered up Iran’s involvement in the 1994 bombing.

  • Aviation security

    Each day, more than twenty-six thousand commercial flights transport passengers and cargo to destinations around the world. S&T’s Commercial Aircraft Vulnerability and Mitigation (CAVM) program supports testing and evaluation efforts to assess potential vulnerabilities and evaluate countermeasures that can mitigate the impact of explosives on commercial aircraft. Newer generations of commercial aircraft fuselages are being made with composite materials, such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic, so CAVM needs to develop a sustainable and representative testing solution in order to all evaluations of new composite aircraft structures to explosive-based threats could continue as needed.

  • Biosecurity

    The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) yesterday announced it was ending its three-year moratorium on funding of gain-of-function research, that is, research which aims to make extremely dangerous viruses even more dangerous in order to find a vaccine or cure for them. The U.S. government instituted the ban in 2014, against the backdrop of rising worries that these “gain-of-function” studies would allow scientists to increase the ability of the infectious disease to spread by enhancing its pathogenicity, or its ability to cause disease. Scientists who supported continuing research involving enhancing the transmissibility of infectious disease were not helped by a series of safety mishaps at federal research facilities.

  • Radicalization

    Mental health trusts in England are now to play a vital role in processing the huge number of citizens referred under the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, known as Prevent. A new policy announced in November by the Home Office means urgent psychiatric care will now be provided by mental health trusts to those people with psychological problems who are referred to Prevent. But this will remove them from a pipeline of support under a program called Channel, aimed at those suspected of radicalizing. No one could possibly object to the provision of mental health care to those in need. But on deeper inspection, the integration of mental health trusts within the Prevent strategy reveals profound confusion within counter-terrorism policies. And the move could give health professionals perverse incentives to actually refer patients with mental health needs to Prevent – because they think it might get them help quicker.

  • Iran nuke deal

    The Obama administration obstructed a campaign by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to monitor and prosecute Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, in order to solidify the 2015 nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic, according to a news report. The campaign, called Project Cassandra, launched in 2008, was aimed at disrupting Hezbollah’s weapons and drug trafficking practices, which included smuggling cocaine into the United States. Over the years, the Lebanese-based terror organization had morphed from a Middle East-focused military and political group into an international crime syndicate.

  • Biosecurity

    Biology and biotechnology have entered a digital age, but security policies around such activities have not kept pace. New research outlines how the evolving nature of biotechnology should sound alarm bells for new ways to keep life sciences assets safe. This could be from accidental cyber-physical breaches, or more nefarious threats.