• Sahel region: New initiative to fight terrorism

    Defense ministers from five countries in the Sahel region – the vast area immediately south of the Sahara Desert, extending from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to northern Ethiopia in the east – joined the French defense minister in a meeting in Paris in the latest push of joint antiterrorism force in the fragile region. “The joint force is gaining momentum… the first operation has taken place, the second one is starting today,” Malian Defense Minister Tiena Coulibaly told reporters.

  • Smart sensor could revolutionize crime, terrorism prevention

    Crime, terrorism prevention, environmental monitoring, reusable electronics, medical diagnostics and food safety, are just a few of the far-reaching areas where a new chemical sensor could revolutionize progress. Engineers at the University of Oxford have used material compounds, known as Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs), to develop technology that senses and responds to light and chemicals. The material visibly changes color depending on the substance detected.

  • Netanyahu hints Israel has thwarted plots to crash hijacked planes into European cities

    Israel’s prime minister tells NATO ambassadors that Israeli intelligence has thwarted “several dozen major terrorist attacks” against countries in Europe — some involving crashing highjacked planes into urban centers. Netanyahu expressed Israel’s growing concern with the de facto control Iran and Hezbollah are gaining over Syria. Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said the most serious immediate threat to Israel was posed by Hezbollah, followed by other Iran-supported jihadist groups positioned on the Syrian border.

  • Israeli security cabinet holds “significant” meetings to discuss threat on northern border

    Israel’s security cabinet has convened several times in recent days, holding “extremely significant” meetings to discuss the threats on Israel’s northern border, as well as necessary diplomatic activity to prevent Syria from turning into a foothold for Iranian forces. News media reports stated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held telephone conversations with world leaders and warned them of Iran’s growing influence in Lebanon and Syria through their terror proxy Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Shiite militia forces in Syria.

  • Russia says 13 drones used in attack on its air base, naval facility in Syria

    Russia says thirteen armed drones have recently been used to attack its air base and its naval facility in western Syria. The Russian Defense Ministry said on 8 January that there were no casualties or damage as a result of the attacks on the Hmeimim air base and Tartus naval facility. Russian forces were able to overpower radio signals for some of the drones and gain control of them during the attacks overnight on 5-6 January, a statement said.

  • Charlie Hebdo changed the way the French say ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’

    It has been three years since gunmen attacked the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people. In the days that followed, five more lost their lives while police hunted for the perpetrators – brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi. Eventually, they were shot dead after an eight-hour standoff involving hostages. These events, and the way they have been memorialized since, have triggered a shift in some elements of French national identity – the collection of ideas, symbols and emotions that define what it means to be French – particularly the national motto, “liberté, égalité, fraternité.” In the aftermath of terror, the ideals of France’s past have subtly morphed, as its people look for ways to defend the right to free speech, while mourning the harsh reality of its cost. Amid all this conflict, there is some reassurance to be found: Paris’s contested sites and spaces are proof that freedom of speech is alive and well in France. Satire, after all, has a longer history than terrorism.

  • U.S. imposes sanctions on Iran over ballistic missiles, signals further measures

    The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday on five Iranian entities over their involvement in developing ballistic missiles and signaled that more punitive measures are in play in response to the Islamic Republic’s crackdown of anti-government protests. The five designated companies are all subsidiaries of Iran’s Shahid Bakeri Industrial Group (SBIG), which is part of the Iranian Defense Ministry.

  • Did far-right extremist violence really spike in 2017?

    Intense media coverage of a so-called “alt-right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned deadly last August fueled the notion that far-right violent extremism in the United States in 2017 was a growing and severe threat. But has it really increased? The average number of far right-inspired attacks from 1990 to 2016 was 7.5 per year, and the average number of victims was 11 per year (these figures exclude the 1995 Oklahoma City attack, in which 168 people were killed, and attacks by far-right extremists in which ideology appeared not to have been a motive). In 2017, there were 8 far right-inspired attacks, which killed 9 people. If the number of fatal far-right extremist attacks in 2017 was average, why is there a perception of an increase? The short answer would be that ideologically motivated homicides are not the only way to measure extremism. More importantly, in many ways, an “average” year demonstrates the perseverance and deadliness of far-right extremism, with its fringe ideology continuing to appeal to a minority of Americans. For decades, it has adapted to cultural and technological shifts in American society, for example, utilizing the internet and social media for recruitment and the proliferation of extremist ideas. Far-rightists also pose a grave threat to racial, ethnic, religious and other minorities in the United States. Whether they are wearing white hoods and burning crosses or wearing button-up shirts and carrying Tiki torches, the underlying ideological tenets of racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, paranoia and anti-government sentiments pose a violent risk to the American public.

  • Terrorism: Numbers, trends, outlook

    This is the end of 2017, but the complete, authoritative numbers relating to terrorism in 2016 are finally in. These numbers show that for the second year in a row, the total number of deaths caused by terrorism has declined. The reduction in deaths is encouraging, but despite this 2016 was the third deadliest year since 2000. While the intensity of terrorism in many countries has decreased, it continues to spread to an increasing number of countries.

  • Redneck Revolt says it aims to protect minorities, promote social justice -- with guns

    A far-left militant group calling itself the Redneck Revolt says it aims to put “the red back in redneck” – “red” as in communist red – and use aggressive tactics to promote social justice and protects minorities. Armed members of Redneck Revolt can often be seen providing protection to minority groups such as Black Lives Matter and to other left-leaning groups conducting marches and demonstrations. Redneck Revolt insists that the group should not be compared to another leftist militant group — the Anti-fa group. Members of Redneck Revolt explain the difference as mainly one of tactics: Anti-fa are willing to engage in property destruction, cover their faces in “black bloc,” and occasionally punch Nazis on the street. “We don’t do that,” a member of Redneck Revolt said firmly. “We do everything within the law.”

  • For the first time, an Argentinian judge rules Nisman was murdered

    For the first time, an Argentinian judge ruled that Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor investigating Iran’s involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and the agreement made by former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner with Iran, was murdered. Judge Julián Ercolini’s ruling comes in the same month that Kirchner, former foreign minister Hector Timerman, and several of Kirchner’s colleagues were indicted for treason over Nisman’s allegations that her and her team covered up Iran’s involvement in the 1994 bombing.

  • New simulator tool allows testing the explosive vulnerabilities of aircraft

    Each day, more than twenty-six thousand commercial flights transport passengers and cargo to destinations around the world. S&T’s Commercial Aircraft Vulnerability and Mitigation (CAVM) program supports testing and evaluation efforts to assess potential vulnerabilities and evaluate countermeasures that can mitigate the impact of explosives on commercial aircraft. Newer generations of commercial aircraft fuselages are being made with composite materials, such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic, so CAVM needs to develop a sustainable and representative testing solution in order to all evaluations of new composite aircraft structures to explosive-based threats could continue as needed.

  • U.S. ends 3-year ban on research involving enhanced-lethality viruses

    The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) yesterday announced it was ending its three-year moratorium on funding of gain-of-function research, that is, research which aims to make extremely dangerous viruses even more dangerous in order to find a vaccine or cure for them. The U.S. government instituted the ban in 2014, against the backdrop of rising worries that these “gain-of-function” studies would allow scientists to increase the ability of the infectious disease to spread by enhancing its pathogenicity, or its ability to cause disease. Scientists who supported continuing research involving enhancing the transmissibility of infectious disease were not helped by a series of safety mishaps at federal research facilities.

  • New counter-terror rules give GPs bizarre incentives to refer mental health patients as radicalization threat

    Mental health trusts in England are now to play a vital role in processing the huge number of citizens referred under the government’s counter-terrorism strategy, known as Prevent. A new policy announced in November by the Home Office means urgent psychiatric care will now be provided by mental health trusts to those people with psychological problems who are referred to Prevent. But this will remove them from a pipeline of support under a program called Channel, aimed at those suspected of radicalizing. No one could possibly object to the provision of mental health care to those in need. But on deeper inspection, the integration of mental health trusts within the Prevent strategy reveals profound confusion within counter-terrorism policies. And the move could give health professionals perverse incentives to actually refer patients with mental health needs to Prevent – because they think it might get them help quicker.

  • Obama administration ended program targeting Hezbollah drug smuggling to secure nuke deal with Iran

    The Obama administration obstructed a campaign by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to monitor and prosecute Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, in order to solidify the 2015 nuclear accord with the Islamic Republic, according to a news report. The campaign, called Project Cassandra, launched in 2008, was aimed at disrupting Hezbollah’s weapons and drug trafficking practices, which included smuggling cocaine into the United States. Over the years, the Lebanese-based terror organization had morphed from a Middle East-focused military and political group into an international crime syndicate.