Government

  • YemenYemen upheaval hobbles U.S. counterterrorism efforts there

    Following the abrupt resignation of Yemen’s president, prime minister, and cabinet after Iran-backed Shi’a Houthi rebels took over the presidential palace, the United States has halted some counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda militants operating inside the country. The move has dealt a blow to what President Barack Obama recently called a successful counterterrorism partnership between Yemen’s president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi and the United States. “The [Yemeni government’s] agencies we worked with . . . are really under the thumb of the Houthis. Our ability to work with them is not there,” said a senior U.S. official closely involved in monitoring the situation.

  • RadicalizationIslamic radicalization takes place in prison, but the numbers are small: Experts

    In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris nearly three weeks ago, terrorism experts say that in addition to monitoring mosques known for extremist views, there is a need to investigate the role of prisons in the recruitment and radicalization process.”Prisons have been called universities of crime for a long time,” says one expert, so the “idea is simply being applied to terrorism so prisons might become universities of radicalization, and in some cases that has proven to be true.” The same expert notes, however, that while the connection between prison and Islamic radicalization is undeniable, “millions of prisoners have gone through Western penal systems and only about fifty went on to commit terror crimes.” He adds: “We shouldn’t think that prisons are manufacturing terrorists like automobile parts — if so, they’re doing a lousy job.”

  • Coastal infrastructureMiami Beach to raise West Avenue in the face of sea-level rise

    City planners in Miami Beach will begin the first phase of a two-part project to raise West Avenue between 1.5 to two feet during the next few years in an effort to prepare the area in the face of sea-level rise. The project will coincide with stormwater drainage and sewer improvements which include installing more pumps to prevent flooding from rain and high tides.

  • InfrastructureBoston's aging pipes leak high levels of heat-trapping methane

    The aging system of underground pipes and tanks that delivers natural gas to Boston-area households and businesses leaks high levels of methane, with adverse economic, public health, and environmental consequences. Now a group of atmospheric scientists at Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has produced hard numbers that quantify the extent of the problem.

  • SurveillanceThe many problems with the DEA's bulk phone records collection program

    By Hanni Fakhoury

    Think mass surveillance is just the wheelhouse of agencies like the NSA? Think again. One of the biggest concerns to come from the revelations about the NSA’s bulk collection of the phone records of millions of innocent Americans was that law enforcement agencies might be doing the same thing. It turns out this concern was valid, as last week the government let slip for the first time that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had also been collecting the phone records of Americans in bulk since the 1990s.

  • ISISU.S. officials: 6,000 ISIS fighters and “more than half” of the group’s leadership killed

    The U.S.-led airstrikes campaign has “taken more than half” of the Islamic State’s (ISIS) leadership, U.S. ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones said. Jones said the airstrikes were having a “devastating” effect on ISIS. “We estimate that the airstrikes have now killed more than 6,000 ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq,” Jones said. He added that the airstrikes have “destroyed more than a thousand of ISIS vehicles inside Iraq.”

  • TerrorismRadicalized Muslims from Central Asia flock to Syria to join ISIS

    The Islamic State (IS) is attracting Central Asians to Syria and fostering new links among radicals within the region. Unless the five Central Asian governments develop a credible, coordinated counter-action plan, including improved security measures but also social, political and economic reforms, growing radicalism will eventually pose a serious threat to their stability.

  • Border securitySaudi Arabia constructing 600-mile wall along its border with Iraq

    Saudi Arabia has been busy since September busy building a 600-mile East-to-West barrier which will run along its Northern border with Iraq.The primary purpose of the wall is to keep out Islamic State (ISIS) militants who have claimed that their goals are the eventual takeover of the holy cities of Mecca and Medinia, which lie well inside of Saudi Arabia’s borders.

  • Terrorism & social mediaEuropean govts. urge U.S. tech companies to remove terrorist-related postings from sites

    The terror attacks in Paris have led French and German authorities to call on U.S. tech firms to help identify terrorist communications and remove hate speech from social media sites. The United Kingdom has also, for several months now, pressed Internet firms to be proactive in removing extremist content such as videos of sermons by radical Islamic preachers or recruitment material, from their sites. These recent requests for more cooperation between U.S. tech firms and European governments contrast with calls from many of the same governments who, following the Edward Snowden leaks, criticized U.S. tech firms for being too close to law enforcement agencies.

  • Predicting terrorismResearchers try to develop a methodology for predicting terrorist acts

    While counterterrorism agencies rely on surveillance and other forms of classified data to predict terrorist attacks, researchers and analysts are attempting to define what terrorism is and how it has evolved over time in order better to identify trends and patterns in terrorist activities. This better understanding may help predict the next major attack. Reliable predictions would be helpful not just for counterterrorism experts, but also for insurance underwriters who must consider the terrorism risk faced by large projects.

  • TerrorismOBL’s assistant on trial in New York for 1998 bombing of U.S. Nairobi embassy

    Yesterday’s jury selection in a Manhattan courtroom brought tears to the eyes of many victims of the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi. Khalid al-Fawwaz, alleged assistant to Osama Bin Laden, will stand trial for his part in helping plan the attack and for operating an al-Qaeda media office in London between 1994 and the time of his arrest. Prosecution of those involved in the 1998 attack has been slow, but progress has been made. Six men involved in the bombing were sentenced to life sentences in November 1998, several other participants of the attack have been killed abroad, including Bin Laden, but four remain at large.

  • RadicalizationEurope to tackle Jihadist radicalization in prison

    The problem of prison radicalization is raising complicated questions for lawmakers and security officials across Europe. One problem: Thousands of Europeans have joined Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and experts say that if apprehended upon returning home, these jihadists will be interned in European jails and continue their mission of radicalizing others, leading to an intensification of the problem of prison radicalization.

  • European securityBelgium terror raids and Paris attacks reveal urgent need for pan-European security

    By Alistair Shepherd

    In the immediate aftermath of major attacks in Paris, counter-terrorism raids in Belgium saw two suspected terrorists killed and another arrested. These incidents have dramatically raised the sense of insecurity across Europe — and they’ve done so at a time when Europe’s security infrastructure is struggling to cope with the threats it faces. European security agencies, both internal and external, must urgently improve their co-operation and co-ordination. After all, Europe’s security challenges know no borders, and they must be dealt with as such. The recent counter-terrorism operations and arrests across Europe show that security agencies are moving toward quicker and sharper preventative action. What they do not demonstrate is that there is yet any seriously coordinated approach to European security. Achieving that is central to reducing the sense of insecurity across Europe at a frightening and dangerous time. But there is little sign Europe is confident about how to do it without undermining the very freedoms it is trying to protect.

  • Europe & IslamParis suing Fox News over false report about Muslim “no-go” zones in city

    Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said the city would sue Fox News for what she said was the network’s false reporting on the city following the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher grocery store. Hidalgo was referring to assertions by several Fox TV shows’ hosts and guests that there were “no-go zones” in Paris — that is, neighborhoods where non-Muslims and even police would not enter. During one broadcast, Fox News showed a map of Paris on the screen which outlined seven such purportedly no-go zones.

  • EUEU launches a series of counterterrorism initiatives

    Using Europol, which has new authority to collect information on people who have never been convicted of a criminal offense, the EU is planning to create a more centralized intelligence sharing system which will allow security services to monitor and track suspects throughout the union. EU officials are also looking to improve information sharing with Arab countries.