Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • Border Patrol kiosk detects liars trying to enter U.S.

    The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is using border crossing stations in Arizona to test new technology to detect liars as they attempt to enter the country; travelers are subjected to a 5-minute interview with the kiosk, while microphones monitor vocal pitch frequency and quality, an infrared camera monitors eye movement and pupil dilation, and a high definition camera monitors facial expression

  • New device dismantles pipe bombs safely, preserving forensic evidence

    Thousands of pipe bombs are made each year, and thousands of pipe bomb threats are called into local police and FBI authorities across the country; many are false alarms, but those that are not can be deadly; dismantling a pipe bomb is tricky and serious business, and missteps during the dismantling process can produce catastrophic results

  • Veteran diplomat Brahimi replaces Anan as UN envoy to Syria

    The UN Security Council last Thursday decided to end to UN observers mission to Syria, and replace the Kofi Annan, who resigned as UN envoy to Syria two weeks ago, with veteran Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahhimi; Annan’s efforts at mediation were equally pointless. The reason: both sides believed they would eventually prevail, and thus had no incentive to negotiate or compromise

  • The worse, the better: Assad’s troubles may hasten Hezbollah’s take-over of Lebanon

    Lebanon is divided into two: the south and east of the country where Hezbollah is the sole ruler, and the rest of the country, which is under the nominal control of the central government – in which Hezbollah is the main actor; the weakening of the Assad regime in Syria has emboldened Hezbollah’s Lebanese opponents to renew their demands that Hezbollah disarm; with the Assad regime’s continuing problems, Hezbollah’s position will become only more difficult; in response, the organization may try to use its still-considerable military capabilities for a provocation against Israel, and attacks on its political opponents at home, or both, exploiting the ensuing turmoil to complete its take-over of Lebanon

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  • Concerns over terrorist groups gaining foothold in Latin America

    At the moment, Islamic militant and terrorist groups do not seem to have a presence in Latin America, but concerns are growing that these groups could develop strategic links with drug organizations, posing a serious threat to security in the hemisphere

  • Unmanned civilian drones vulnerable to hijacking

    Unmanned drones have become the eyes and ears of the military in recent years, giving them an advantage in intelligence gathering and in operations without risking soldiers’ lives; the drones’ versatility and low price have made them an attractive tool for domestic law enforcement and first response missions; there is one glitch, though: drones can be hijacked; if that happens, these swift, unmanned aircrafts could become weapons for terrorists

  • Lifelike, cost-effective robotic hand disables IEDs

    Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have developed a cost-effective robotic hand that can be used in disarming improvised explosive devices, or IEDs; the Sandia Hand addresses challenges which have prevented widespread adoption of other robotic hands, such as cost, durability, dexterity, and modularity

  • U.S. Army trains rats in explosives detection

    Landmines kill between 15,000 and 20,000 people a year, and continue to kill adults and children decades after a conflict ends; the U.S. Department of Defense currently relies on dogs as the animal of choice for explosives detection, but Pentagon researchers want to see whether rats can be trained to do the job; rats are smaller so they can search smaller spaces than a dog can, and are easier to transport

  • NYPD, Microsoft develop and deploy new surveillance system

    The New York Police Department (NYPD) and Microsoft have teamed up to create the Domain Awareness System, which will analyze real-time safety data for use by NYPD investigators; the system will act as a communications hub which will allow a number of advanced counterterrorism systems to relay information to more than 1,000 people in the field

  • Advanced explosives detector sniffs out previously undetectable amounts of TNT

    TNT and other conventional explosives are the mainstays of terrorist bombs and the anti-personnel mines that kill or injure more than 15,000 people annually in war-torn countries; in large, open-air environments, such as airports, train stations, and minefields, concentrations of these explosives can be as small as a few parts of TNT per trillion parts of air, making it impossible for conventional bomb and mine detectors to detect the explosives and save lives

  • Domestic terrorism by members of extremist groups a serious threat: FBI

    The FBI and other government law-enforcement agencies have been convinced for a while that terrorism from extremist domestic organizations is just as dangerous as terrorism from foreign organizations, but efforts by authorities to detect and pre-empt violent extremists have faced serious legal and political hurdles, including free speech guarantees and pushback from political lobbies suspicious of the government’s motives

  • New detection device for forensic and security applications

    A new biological sampling and detection device could soon be used by first responders in the forensic and security sectors; the patented technology allows for rapid sampling of up to eight targets simultaneously, testing powder, liquids, or surfaces directly and has applications across the forensic and security areas

  • DHS develops active shooter national guidance

    DHS has selected a training program from the Center for Personal Protection and Safety (CPPS) as resource in developing national guidance for how to respond to an active shooter situation

  • Israel estimates an Iranian retaliation would kill 200-300 Israeli civilians

    The operation research experts at the Israeli Ministry of Defense estimate that an Iranian retaliation for an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, a retaliation in which Hezbollah would participate, would cause about 200 dead among Israeli civilians; if Syria were to join the attack on Israel, the number of dead would rise to about 300; the estimates are based on past conflicts, the efficacy of Israeli missile defense system, the number of fortified shelters available, and the generally disciplined manner in which Israeli civilians reacted to being under missile and rocket attacks  

  • U.S. losing patience with Pakistan over Haqqani network’s growing boldness

    Last week the Pakistan government-supported Haqqani network released a video of a 1 June operation, showing members of the group driving an explosive-laden truck into Camp Salerno, an American military base in Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border; the truck exploded, opening a breach in the camp’s fence, through which Haqqani militants entered the camp, shooting in all directions; only two GIs died in the attack — but it could have been far worse, as hundreds of American soldiers were in the mess hall only yards away; Congress has already voted to designate the Haqqanis as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), and administration officials say that the United States is “one major attack” away from unilateral action against Pakistan