• There are more than 160 points of entry into Islamabad but four main entry points for goods carrying vehicles; the Pakistani government buys radiation detectors from China to prevent terrorists from smuggling a nuclear or dirty bomb into the city; worries about the health effects of the strong radiation the scanner emit

  • The Maersk Alabama was seized by Somali pirates in April and its captain taken hostage (he was later released by U.S. Navy commandos); last week, Somali pirates try to hijack it for the second time — but this time the ship used evasive maneuvers, Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs), and small arms fire were among the tactics used to fend off the attackers

  • The 2010 DHS appropriation bill slashed Real ID funding by 40 percent, from $100 million to $60 million; proponents and opponents alike describe the act as being on life support

  • Theater of the absurd

    Last Thursday Munir Muthana of Rochester went amok, using his Nissan Maxima to run down pedestrians on the sidewalk; the police eventually stopped him, and seven people were admitted to the hospital with minor injuries; Muthana’s motive has not yet been established, by the police says he may have suffered from road rage — or even “sudden jihad syndrome”

  • The Obama administration is considering the Thomson Correctional Center on Monday, located 150 miles west of Chicago, as home for some detainees from Guantanamo Bay; Illinois officials say the move could provide up to 2,000 jobs and up to $1 billion in federal money to the area

  • Shipping companies report only a fraction of the actual cases of piracy for fear of their ships being impounded for long periods or because they simply do not want to pay the resultant higher insurance premium; the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) puts losses from piracy in 2008 alone at some €13 billion

  • The Israeli Navy captured a ship heading toward Syria with weapons for Hezbollah; the manifest said the ship was carrying “parts for bulldozers,” but containers on the ship were found to contain more than 500 tons of weapons — thousands of medium-range 107- and 122-millimeter rockets, armor-piercing artillery, hand grenades, and ammunition for Kalashnikov rifles; the haul included more than 3,000 rockets, which is the equivalent of about 10 percent of Hezbollah rocket arsenal

  • Pentagon advisory panel concludes that extreme terrorist events such as the 9/11 attacks cannot be predicted by computer models because the data re too sparse; “it is simply not possible to validate (evaluate) predictive models of rare events that have not occurred, and unvalidated models cannot be relied upon”

  • In the trenches

    The Pentagon has spent more than $26.8 billion to develop and build three versions of the largest Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, or MRAPs, totaling some 16,000 vehicles, mostly for the Army and Marine Corps; another $5.4 billion is being spent to produce 5,244 M-ATVs, the smaller version that U.S. defense officials contend offers as much protection as the large models do, but is more maneuverable and better suited to Afghanistan’s dirt tracks and narrow mountain roads; insurgents in Afghanistan have found ways to cripple, and even destroy, the vehicle

  • Checkpoint technology

    The Iraqi government has spent tens of millions of U.S. aid dollars to buy thousands of “magic wands” which are supposed to detect explosives at checkpoints; one American officer says the device works “on the same principle as a Ouija board”; another officer says that to believe the claims of the British company which is selling the device, and of the Iraqi authorities that swear by it, “would be laughable” — except that people are dying as a result; “[the company and Iraqi government have] crossed an insupportable line into moral depravity” he says

  • Checkpoint technology

    SET Corporation is developing a technology which directs low-power radar beams at people — who can be 50 yards or more away; early research indicates that this method could one day be augmented with video-analysis software that spots bombers by discerning subtle differences in gait that occur when people carry heavy objects

  • Canadian authorities worry that the booming black market trade in cigarettes could be used to finance terrorism; many Indian reservations are used as bases for the illicit trade

  • A study prepared for the U.S. Special Forces says that the United States should set up something like a National Manhunting Agency to go after jihadists, drug dealers, pirates, and other enemies of the state; the report’s author would like to see a permanent group with clear authority, training, doctrine, and technology to go after these dangerous individuals

  • Spending on cybersecurity

    New report examines recent cyber attacks on South Korea and asks whether whether the attacks constituted an act of war and whether they could have been the work of a terrorist group; the answer is no on both counts; the U.S. dependence on digital technology makes it somewhat more vulnerable to cyber attacks than other nations,

  • Hezbollah has its own communication network in Lebanon, separate and independent from the government’s sanctioned carrier networks; Israel says that bugging the organization’s network does not amount to a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty

  • The current U.S. bioterror detection program: A federally funded, locally run program with an $80 million annual budget, deploying a network of vacuum pumps that draw surrounding air through filters, sniffing for signs of biological agents

  • Officials at Charles George Veterans Affairs Hospital say that terrorists will not go after military targets, which are hard to hit, but will instead aim for places such as hospitals with the goal of disrupting and disheartening the public

  • In the trenches

    A large number of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles are already in the field, protecting American soldiers; the U.S. military wants to upgrade the vehicles with new suspension systems; to make sure the new suspension system works, the military wants to put the retrofitted MRAPs through their paces on an off-road course that more closely resembles Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain

  • In the trenches

    RPG has been the guerrilla’s weapon of choice for decades: it is cheap, easy to use, and readily available; efforts to address the RPG threat have given rise to a small industry; the latest offering: Textron’s airbag