Terrorism | Homeland Security Newswire

  • The Russia connection

    Britain’s counterterrorism police took over the investigation into the sudden and severe illness of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter as media reported that Skripal’s son died last year of unknown causes on a visit to Russia. Scotland Yard announced that its counterterrorism unit would take charge due to the case’s “unusual circumstances” after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson warned that any involvement of a foreign government in the incident would not go “unpunished.”

  • The Russia connection

    The sudden illness in Britain of a Russian former spy has drawn comparisons with another poisoning in the United Kingdom – the 2006 assassination by Vladimir Putin’s agents of Russian former-spy-turned-Kremlin-critic Aleksandr Litvinenko. In using various poisons – some of them esoteric — to have his critics and adversaries killed inside Russia and abroad, Putin is continuing a storied KGB tradition. Here is a closer, if brief, look at some of the poisons Russian government agents have used on their lethal missions.

  • Drones

    The emergence of inexpensive small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs) that operate without a human pilot, commonly known as drones, has led to adversarial groups threatening deployed U.S. forces, especially infantry units. Although the U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) are developing tactics and systems to counter single sUASs, a new report emphasizes the need for developing countermeasures against multiple sUASs — organized in coordinated groups, swarms, and collaborative groups — which could be used much sooner than the Army anticipates. The committee that conducted the study developed a classified report that details its findings and recommendations, along with an unclassified public version that discusses key background issues presented in this news release.

  • Ecoterrorism

    German ecoterrorists are the main suspects in an acid attack on a German energy executive, which has left him badly injured. Bernhard Günther, the CFO of energy giant RWE’s green subsidiary, Innogy, was struck as he crossed a park in Haan, a well-to-do suburb of Düsseldorf, on Sunday. Left-wing groups – the most famous one the Rote Armee Fraktion (aka Baader-Meinhof group), which was active in West Germany from the early-1970s to the mid-1980s – have attacked and killed a score of German business people in the last four decades.

  • Hate group

    At least four technology companies have taken steps to bar Atomwaffen Division, a violent neo-Nazi organization, from using their online services and platforms to spread its message or fund its operations. The action comes after ProPublica reports detailing the organization’s terrorist ambitions and revealing that the California man charged with murdering Blaze Bernstein, a 19-year-old college student found buried in an Orange County park earlier this year, was an Atomwaffen member.

  • Designer pathogens

    Mary Shelley was 20 when she published “Frankenstein” in 1818. Two hundred years on, the book remains thrilling, challenging and relevant — especially for scientists like me whose research involves tinkering with the stuff of life. Talk of “engineering biology” makes a lot people squeamish, and technology can turn monstrous, but I read Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” not as an injunction against bioengineering as such. Rather, the story reveals what can happen when we – scientists and nonscientists alike – run away from the responsibilities that science and technology demand. Victor Frankenstein was certainly careless and perhaps a coward, unable to own up to the responsibility of what he was doing. We now know that science is best conducted with humility, forethought and in the light of day.

  • Terrorism

    A federal district judge ordered airplane manufacturer, Boeing, to make terms of its $16 billion contract with Iran available to the family of an Israeli terror victim. The family of Noam Leibovitch, a 7-year-old girl who was killed when Iran-backed terrorists from Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired on their car in 2003, requested the contract in order to assess what assets may be available to satisfy a $67 million judgment against Iran. The judgment was awarded when Iran failed to respond to the lawsuit filed by the family in the United States District Court.

  • Mass shootings

    While President Donald Trump has not shied away from offering suggestions on how to prevent school shootings – including one controversial idea to arm teachers – what often gets overlooked in the conversation is research on the subject that has already been done. This research includes one major study of school shootings conducted in part by the very agency charged with protecting the president of the United States himself - the U.S. Secret Service. Has this research been ignored or just forgotten?

  • Iran

    Iran is building a new military base eight miles northwest of Damascus. Satellite images show what is believed to be a new base with warehouses – each roughly 18m x 27m – which could store short and medium-range missiles. Western intelligence officials say that the base contains hangars used to stockpile missiles “capable of hitting all of Israel”. According to a Fox News report, members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s special operations Quds Force are operating the base. The new base is similar to one established by the Iranians near the town of al-Kiswah, 15 km southwest Damascus, which was hit by Israeli airstrikes last December.

  • African security

    After the Arab Spring, North African countries experienced growing instability, and jihadist groups capitalized on both social unrest and local conflicts. As these groups strengthened, jihadists expanded their operations into the Sahel, and were able to propagate their transnational ideology to new audiences. The threat that jihadist groups in Africa pose to Western interests has grown over the past decade, as groups operating in North Africa, the Sahel, West Africa, and the Horn of Africa have honed their capabilities. Different terrorist organizations in these areas launched 358 attacks against Western targets and interests between January 2012 and October 2017.

  • Hate groups

    The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said in a new report today that the number of anti-Semitic incidents was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than 2016, the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking incident data in the 1970s. The sharp rise was in part due to a significant increase in incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.

  • Hate groups

    The right-wing terrorist threat is more significant and more challenging than perhaps the public debate gives it credit for,” the U.K.’s counterterrorism chief has said. “There are many Western countries that have extreme right-wing challenges and in quite a number of those the groups we are worried about here are making connections with them and networking,” he said, declining to give further details. Last year the British authorities foiled ten Islamist and four far-right terrorist plots.

  • Chemical agents

    Several Food and Drug Administration-approved antidotes are available for cyanide poisoning, but they have severe limitations. To develop effective antidotes for chemical agents, such as cyanide and mustard gas, scientists need analytical methods that track not only the level of exposure but also how the drug counteracts the effects of the chemical.

  • Designer pathogens

    Julius Caesar is said to have stated “alea iacta est” (the die is cast) as he led his army across the Rubicon river, triggering a point of no return in Roman history. In many ways, the horsepox synthesis, published by two Canadian scientists last month, is considered a new Rubicon for synthetic biology and the life sciences. Experts say that now that we’ve ventured across the river, it seems that we may be learning more about dual-use research in general. One expert notes that “Beyond the immediate issue of whether the horsepox work should have been performed (or published), the horsepox synthesis story highlights a more general challenge facing dual-use research in biotechnology: the unilateralist’s curse.” Research unilateralism contains an “action bias”: Horsepox synthesis is more likely to occur when scientists act independently than when they agree to a decision as a group.

  • Terrorism

    Information from Israeli military intelligence helped prevent the downing of an Australian passenger jet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said. An Australian government minister confirmed that Israeli information helped in finding the attack suspects. Two Lebanese brothers living in Australia tried to smuggle a powerful bomb, concealed inside a meat grinder, onto an Etihad jet scheduled to fly from Sydney to Abu Dhabi.

  • Dirty bombs

    Researchers have developed a new technique that uses existing technologies to detect potential airborne radiological materials in hours instead of days. at present, emergency responders who are characterizing potential radiological risk need to take an air sample and ship it to a radiochemistry lab after preliminary screening analysis. The process means it can take days or weeks to get quality results that authorities can use to make informed decisions.

  • Medical countermeasures

    Preparedness against a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) threat requires a sustained and multi-pronged approach by both the public and private sectors. An essential component of this strategy is the development, procurement, and stockpiling of diagnostic tests, drugs, and vaccines in response to a potential event, as well as the ability to distribute these products where needed.

     

  • Biothreats

    Five finalists were announced today for Stage 1 of the $300,000 Hidden Signals Challenge. Issued by the DHS S&T, in collaboration with the Office of Health Affairs National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC), the challenge calls for the design of an early warning system that uses existing data to uncover emerging biothreats. The announcement was made at the American Society for Microbiology’s 2018 ASM Biothreats meeting.

  • Florida shooting

    A spokesperson for the white supremacist group Republic of Florida (ROF) claimed to the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday that Nikolas Cruz, the man charged with the previous day’s deadly shooting spree at a Parkland, Florida, high school, was associated with his group. If Cruz’s role is confirmed, the Parkland school shooting would be the second school shooting by a white supremacist in the past two months. In December 2017, another young white supremacist, William Atchison, engaged in a shooting spree at a high school in northwest New Mexico, killing two students before shooting himself.

  • School shooting

    When deadly school shootings like the one that took place on Valentine’s Day in Broward County, Florida occur, often they are followed by calls for more stringent security measures. While some of these measures seem sensible, overall there is little empirical evidence that such security measures decrease the likelihood of school shootings. Surveillance cameras were powerless to stop the carnage in Columbine and school lock-down policies did not save the children at Sandy Hook. We believe what is missing from the discussion is the idea of an educational response. Current policy responses do not address the fundamental question of why so many mass shootings take place in schools. To answer this question, we need to get to the heart of how students experience school and the meaning that schools have in American life. It is time to think about school shootings not as a problem of security, but also as a problem of education.