• West African nations seek $56 million for rapid-response anti-Islamist force

    The countries of West Africa’s Sahel region have requested $56 million from the EU to help set up a multi-national force to take on Islamist militant groups across the vast, arid region. The sparsely populated region has attracted a growing number of jihadist groups, some affiliated with al Qaeda and Islamic State. The G5 Sahel countries — Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania — have proposed the creation of a capable and mobile regional task force, the mission of which would be to tackle the cross-border Islamist threat.

  • How does IS claim responsibility for a terrorist attack?

    Scholars of terrorism found thatonly one in seven terror attacks is actually claimed by the terrorist group responsible. They argue that groups like IS are composed of two kinds of agents. One is rational leaders with strategic, political objectives. The other is operational foot soldiers, some of whom are not rational. IS’ leaders claim responsibility only when they calculate a political benefit; they refuse to claim responsibility when an attack might hurt the group’s objectives. If this theory is correct, IS claimed responsibility for both the recent Manchester bombing and the London Bridge assaults because its leaders calculated that it would result in a net benefit – like cash from its sympathizers or overreaction from its targets.

  • Lawyers convention leaves Texas over state's new immigration law

    A 15,000-member association of attorneys and law professors said on Wednesday that it is relocating its 2018 convention out of Texas in response to the state legislature passing Senate bill 4, a sweeping and controversial immigration enforcement measure. About 3,000 people were expected to attend the event.

  • New fabric coating could neutralize chemical weapons, save lives

    Chemical weapons are nightmarish. In a millisecond, they can kill hundreds, if not thousands. But, in a new study, scientists report that they have developed a way to adhere a lightweight coating onto fabrics that is capable of neutralizing a subclass of these toxins — those that are delivered through the skin. The life-saving technique could eventually be used to protect soldiers and emergency responders.

  • Russian government hackers planted false news story which caused Gulf crisis: U.S. intelligence

    U.S. intelligence officials say Russian government hackers planted a false news story into the text prepared for release by the official Qatari news agency. The release of the Russian-manufactured story by the official Qatari news agency prompted Saudi Arabia and several of its regional allies to suspend diplomatic relations with Qatar and impose economic sanctions on it. U.S. officials say the Russian goal appears to be to cause rifts among the U.S. and its allies.

  • 12 dead, 42 injured in two ISIS suicide attacks in Tehran

    At least twelve people have been killed and dozens more injured in Tehran, in two-pronged suicide bomb and gun assaults – one on the Iranian parliament and the other on the mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the two attacks. This is the first terrorist act by ISIS inside Iran. Terrorist attacks are rare in Iran’s big cities, but that during the past ten years or so, two Sunni militant groups — Jundallah and its splinter group, Ansar al Furqan — have been conducting a deadly insurgency campaign in more remote areas of the country.

  • Technologically crude attacks rely on communications to generate a wider resonance

    The terrorist attacks of 22 March, 22 May, and 3 June 2017 across the United Kingdom have showed very considerable variation in terms of their modality and choice of targets. They range from an attack on the iconic home of British democracy (22 March) toward an attempt to kindle a war on public relaxation, with massacres at a pop concert in Manchester (22 May) and on pubs and bars around London Bridge (3 June). Such atrocities are low-tech in execution, but they rely upon state-of-the-art communications to generate a wider resonance. There is an inverse relationship between means and effects here. Thus, a tactically crude attack can be launched in the full knowledge that a crowded street will be full of camera footage – dramatic images are guaranteed.

  • Fact Check: are only one in eight counter-terrorism referrals to Prevent made by Muslims?

    Paul Nuttall, leader of the populist UKIP, claimed that only one in eight referrals to Prevent, Britain’s counterterrorism program, comes from the Muslim community. There are at least four problems with this claim. First, suspicious extremist activities are reported to many different organizations – the police, MI5, the Channel program, anti-extremism websites, etc. – not only to Prevent; second, it is not clear how accurate these figures are: Channel notes that between 2012 and 2014, 56 percent of reports of suspicious extremist activity were likely recorded by Muslims; third, since the religion, age, gender, or ethnicity of the often-anonymous tipper are not published by the Home Office (and are often not available to the Home Office), it is difficult make a determination about the percentage of Muslims among the tippers; fourth, the number of referrals made to the Prevent program is not indicative of the success or failure of the counter-extremism strategy: The Manchester suicide bomber, and one of the terrorists in the Saturday London attack, were reported to Prevent and known to the authorities – and they still managed to carry out their deadly attacks.

  • Macron creates counterterrorism task force

    French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday announced the creation of a counterterrorism task force to tackle radicalization and terrorism in France. The task force will initially have twenty full-time specialists working in shifts, 24/7. A spokesperson for the office of the president said that the task force will be animated by this: “A single slogan in watermark: no blind spot will be tolerated.”

  • Brave Millwall fan saved many

    The fans of Millwall Football Club, a soccer club located in Bermondsey, South East London, have long prided themselves on their refusal to duck a fight, celebrating their intimidating reputation with the chant: “No-one likes us, we don’t care.” Roy Larner, a 47-year old Millwall fan, was at the Black and Blue steakhouse on Saturday night when the three terrorists, wielding knives, burst into the restaurant shouting “Islam, Islam, this is for Allah.” Larner did not turn away to run, however. “I took a few steps towards them and said, ‘F*** you, I’m Millwall’. So they started attacking me,” he told the Sun. Larner fought the three attackers with his bare hands, and bleeding profusely, followed them out of the restaurant, continuing to punch them. The police said that had it not been for the fact that Larner stood his ground and occupied the three attackers for a few minutes, the number of dead and injured would have been higher.

  • How can we better protect crowds from terrorism?

    As the recent terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom painfully show, the odds are in favor of terrorists. All they have to do is succeed once, no matter how many times they try. For public safety professionals to be fully successful, they have to prevent 100 percent of the terror attempts. It’s a number to aspire to, but even the most experienced countries fighting terror – such as Israel and the U.K.– can’t measure up to this standard. These days, it’s necessary to consider any place where crowds congregate as vulnerable “soft targets” for the attackers. Community policing, though, could help. Community policing means using the community as a resource to minimize the spread of radical ideologies. By informing and supporting law enforcement through proactive partnerships, citizens can become key players and reliable partners in what some call “co-produced” public safety. These strategies won’t provide absolute security. But they will help minimize attacks and get us closer to that golden 100 percent standard.

  • After 18 months, hurricane vulnerability documents arrive — but they're thin

    During Hurricane Katrina, rushing water caused one refinery’s oil tank to rupture, sending oil into more than 1,700 homes a mile away. And the Houston area has many schools and neighborhoods that are less than a mile from large refineries and oil storage terminals. Eighteen months ago, we asked the government for documents that should have shed a lot of light on Houston’s vulnerability to a massive hurricane. After finally receiving them, it turns out the documents are basically useless.

  • What we know so far

    Three terrorists drove a van into pedestrians before jumping out and stabbing people. Seven people were killed and forty-eight injured – twenty-one of them remain in critical condition. Police officers, arriving on the scene within eight minutes of being alerted, fired 50 rounds – a high number of rounds by British police standard – killing the three attackers. One bystander was hit by a police bullet, but is now in stable condition. Prime Minister Teresa May said there is too much “tolerance of extremism” in the United Kingdom.

  • “Enough is enough”: Theresa May

    Prime Minister Theresa May has warned that there has been “far too much tolerance of extremism” in the United Kingdom, and vowed to step up the fight against Islamist terrorism after the London Bridge attack. “Enough is enough,” she said. May said the recent wave of attacks showed the United Kingdom was “experiencing a new trend in the threat we face.” She continued: “As terrorism breeds terrorism and perpetrators are inspired to attack, not only on the basis of carefully constructed plots after years of planning and training, and not even as lone attackers radicalized online, but by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack.”

  • Eight minutes on London Bridge: years of training led to lightning police response

    Eight minutes. That is the length of time from the start of the London Bridge attack to the three terrorists being killed by armed police. The Metropolitan Police Service is rightly being heralded for the speed, courage and effectiveness of its members in ending a terrorist atrocity. But the success in their response which prevented more people from being injured and killed is, besides individual bravery, about learning from previous terrorist attacks, training, and resources. The terrorism situation in the United Kingdom is clearly in flux. At the moment, the only pattern when it comes to terrorist attacks is that there is no pattern. Nonetheless, members of the police will continue to prepare to deal with worst-case scenarios, based on previous attacks, that they hope will never materialize.