• Border wallTurkey completes half of its Syrian border wall

    Turkey has completed more than half of a planned 317-mile wall along its border with Syria. The wall is not built as a regular wall would: It consists of portable concrete blocks, each weighing seven tons, placed next to each other. The concrete blocks are 6.5-foot thick at the base and 10-foot high. Each block is topped with three feet of razor wire. The government says the wall will improve security, but human rights groups warn refugees fleeing war will be tapped on the Syrian side.

  • Chemical weaponsLarge dose of VX killed Kim Jong-nam in 15-20 minutes

    Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, was attacked with a large doze of VX which caused his death within 15-20 minutes after being poisoned by a nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur airport, the Malaysian  health minister, S. Subramaniam, said on Sunday. Some experts have suggested that the two women who attacked him might have each smeared Kim’s face with two different non-lethal elements of VX, which became deadly when mixed on his face.

  • TerrorismWhy the time is right to set up an international terrorism court

    By Ignacio De La Rasilla Del Moral

    The global toll of terrorism is rising at an alarming rate. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, terrorist incidents claimed 3,329 lives in 2000 but 32,685 in 2014, and the economic costs of terrorism skyrocketed at least tenfold during the same period. As a result, certain governments are proposing that the UN establish a new court with a specific remit to prosecute international terrorist crimes. The court, I sablished, would join the growing ranks of international courts and tribunals that have been rapidly proliferating since the end of the Cold War. Of the more than 37,000 legally binding judgements passed by these international courts, some 90 percent have come down since 1990.The problems and risks of creating such a court are all too apparent, and go some way to explaining why the court has never been set up.

  • ResilienceRecovery lessons from Hurricane Sandy to help improve resilience, disaster preparedness

    Purdue University will lead a $2.5 million, four-year research to determine why some communities recover from natural disasters more quickly than others, an effort aimed at addressing the nation’s critical need for more resilient infrastructure and to enhance preparedness. The research team will apply advanced simulations and game-theory algorithms, access millions of social media posts and survey data collected along the New Jersey shore, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

  • Chemical weaponsKim Jong-nam killed by VX nerve agent: Malaysian police

    Malaysian police have said the substance used in the killing of Kim Jong-nam was a VX nerve agent. North Korea, which is not a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), is in possession of a large stockpiles of chemical weapons — between 2,500 and 5,000 metric tons, with Sarin and VX making up the bulk of the arsenal. Experts say that the public nature of the killing, and the assailants’ disregard for the safety of bystanders, is comparable to the assassination in London of former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko, who became a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin, was killed on Putin’s orders by two agents of the FSB in London in November 2006. The agents placed small quantities of radioactive poison, polonium-210, in his tea.

  • PrivacyTech coalition fights DHS proposal to collect social media passwords

    Earlier this week, the Center for Democracy & Technology announced the creation of a coalition of tech companies, NGOs, and privacy advocates to oppose efforts by DHS to collect social media passwords from individuals entering the United States. The coalition focuses on visa applicants who might be compelled to share their passwords under new DHS policies.

  • Domestic terrorismThreats of violent Islamist and far-right extremism: What does the research say?

    By William Parkin, Brent Klein, Jeff Gruenewald, Joshua D. Freilich, and Steven Chermak

    The 9/11 attacks were perpetrated by Islamist extremists, resulting in nearly 18 times more deaths than America’s second most devastating terrorist attack – the Oklahoma City bombing. More than any other terrorist event in U.S. history, 9/11 drives Americans’ perspectives on who and what ideologies are associated with violent extremism. But focusing solely on Islamist extremism when investigating, researching and developing counterterrorism policies goes against what the numbers tell us. Far-right extremism also poses a significant threat to the lives and well-being of Americans. This risk is often ignored or underestimated because of the devastating impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.It remains imperative to support policies, programs, and research aimed at countering all forms of violent extremism.

  • Border securitySupreme Court considering case of Mexican boy killed by Border Patrol agent shooting across border

    The Supreme Court appears to be evenly divided about the question of whether the Mexican parents of a teenager who was shot dead by a Border Patrol officer could use American courts to sue the Border Patrol agent who fired across the U.S.-Mexican border and killed their son. Lower courts dismissed the parents’ lawsuit – but the Supreme Court has taken up the case in order to determine whether non-citizens who are injured or killed outside the United States — by actions of an American from inside the United States — can pursue their case in American courts.

  • GunsAssault weapons not protected by Second Amendment: U.S. appeals court

    The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth circuit ruled 10-4 to uphold Maryland’s ban on assault weapons, ruling that assault weapons are not protected under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote. “Both before and after Newtown, similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there,” he wrote.

  • ISISLoss of territory contributes to significant drop in ISIS funding

    Islamic State’s income has more than halved since 2014, due to its shrinking territory in Syria and Iraq and subsequent losses of significant sources of revenue, according to a new study. Whilst it is impossible to say exactly how much money Islamic State has at its disposal, findings show that the most significant sources of revenue are closely tied to the territory it controls. Most recent evidence suggests that total income from taxes/extortion, oil, kidnapping, antiquities, looting, and confiscations has decreased from up to $2 billion in 2014 to less than $800 million in 2016. There is also no evidence that the group has been successful in creating new sources of revenue.

  • How governments and companies can prevent the next insider attack

    By Matthew Bunn and Scott D. Sagan

    Insider threats could take many forms, such as the next Edward Snowden, who leaked hundreds of thousands of secret documents to the press, or the next Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood mass killer. Indeed, in today’s high-tech and hyperconnected world, threats from insiders go far beyond leakers and lone-wolf shooters. A single insider might be able to help adversaries steal nuclear material that terrorists could use to make a crude nuclear bomb, install malware that could compromise millions of accounts or sabotage a toxic chemical facility to cause thousands of deaths. How can we better protect against the enemy within, no matter what it is that needs to be protected? In our high-tech society, the insider threat is ever-present. High-security organizations, governments and companies alike need to take action to counter the organizational and cognitive biases that often blind us to the insider danger – or future blunders will condemn us to more disasters.

  • Trade securityPreferential trade agreements bolster global trade at the expense of its resilience

    The global commodity trade is a complex system where its network structure, which may arise from bilateral and multilateral agreements, affects its growth and resilience. At time of economic shocks, redundancy in this system is vital to the resilience of growth.

  • BioterrorismTerrorists could kill 30 million people within a year using bioweapons: Bill Gates

    Bill Gates, in a speech at the Munich Security Conference, compared the dangers to nuclear war and bioterrorism. “The next epidemic could originate on the computer screen of a terrorist intent on using genetic engineering to create a synthetic version of the smallpox virus, or a super contagious and deadly strain of the flu,” he said. “Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than thirty million people in less than a year.”

  • HezbollahLebanese media: Hezbollah given “game-changing” Iranian arms, has tunnels on Israeli border

    Iran has sent “game-changing” weapons to its proxy group Hezbollah, which has been actively building tunnels and fortifications along Lebanon’s border with Israel, a knowledgeable observer said. “Israel reads the map and realizes that Hizbullah’s weapons arsenal has steadily grown, and is now several times larger than it was in 2006, and that the kind of weapons that the enemy tried and is still trying to prevent the resistance from acquiring – namely, what Israel calls ‘game-changing’ weapons – is available to it in great amounts,” he added.

  • The Russian connectionRussia, Trump and the 2016 election: What’s the best way for Congress to investigate?

    By Jordan Tama

    Exactly how will the U.S. conduct a fair and accurate investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and links with President Donald Trump’s campaign? U.S. congressional leaders are discussing options. At a time when Congress is sharply polarized along partisan lines, congressional investigations tend to become microcosms of that polarization. This is all the more true when an investigation involves an issue about which the president is vulnerable to political embarrassment or attack. If the intelligence committee proves unable to conduct a thorough and bipartisan investigation of Russian meddling and Trump’s campaign, pressure will build on America’s leaders to establish a more independent probe. Hanging in the balance could be whether the United States can forge consensus about what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.