• Refugee system “vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups”: U.S. intelligence

    On Monday, in his inaugural State of Homeland Security Address, House Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) highlighted new concerns regarding refugees with ties to terrorist groups in Syria who might try to enter the United States. He revealed that a letter sent to him earlier this year by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence stated that “The refugee system, like all immigration programs, is vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West.”

  • French regional elections: No one can dismiss Le Pen as an also-ran now

    Marine Le Pen probably won’t be the next president of France, but the regional elections are proving that her Front National has truly become a major player. Le Pen’s party has taken 28 percent of the vote in the first of two rounds to elect regional assemblies. The right-wing Republicans, led by former president Nicolas Sarkozy, came a close second, with a shade under 27 percent. The ruling Socialist Party trailed, with just 23 percent of the vote. There is one week to go until the decisive second round, but even if the left and right somehow manage to block their path, the FN has already struck a major blow ahead of the presidential election in 2017.

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  • Trump Calls for preventing all Muslims, including immigrants and tourists, from entering U.S.

    In what must be seen as an extraordinary rhetorical escalation even for a presidential candidate not known for nuance and subtlety, Donald J. Trump on Monday called for the United States to prevent all Muslims, without exception, from entering the United States until the country’s leaders and security agencies can “figure out what is going on.” Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told the Associated Press that the ban would apply to “everybody,” including both immigrants and tourists.

  • Obama: Current strategy to defeat ISIS more likely to succeed than alternatives

    President Barack Obama, in a rare prime-time address from the White House – the third such appearance in his seven years as president — described the current U.S. strategy against ISIS as more likely to succeed, and more acceptable to the American people, than alternatives such as large increase in U.S. ground forces in Syria and Iraq. Describing those who perpetrated the Sam Bernardino attack as individuals who had “gone down the dark path of radicalization,” he reassured the American people that the United States has faced, and has overcome, more daunting challenges than terrorism. He said that the best strategy to defeat ISIS without further radicalizing Muslims who live in the West is the current mix of airstrikes, support for local allies, diplomacy to end the Syrian war, and a measured increase in the number of U.S. Special Forces.

  • Obama’s address on countering ISIS: The missing context

    Yesterday, President Barack Obama delivered a prime time address on his administration’s policy to defeat ISIS. Obama offered no new initiatives or ideas, but the address still mentioned all the right things: No one wants to send tens of thousands of American troops to the Middle Eat; no one wants the United States to invade and occupy another country; we should not equate Islam with terrorism; we should guard against anti-Muslim backlash; the United States has faced daunting challenges in the past, and came out victorious. What was missing from the address was the same thing which has been missing from the Obama’ administration’s Middle East policies and its approach to fighting ISIS: Context.

  • Western intelligence agencies a step behind ISIS operations in the West

    A former U.S. intelligence officer says the intelligence community had not fully grasped the menace ISIS posed, and fully appreciate the organization’s mode of operation. As a result, intelligence agencies in the United States and Europe have been playing catch up in a desperate effort to try and check the terrorist organisation.

  • GOP lawmakers draft bill to bolster Visa Waiver security

    About twenty million people use the Visa Waiver program to come to the United States every year. A bill being considered in the House would block anyone who has traveled to Syria, Iraq or a few other nations in the past five years from participating in the Visa Waiver program. It would also require the United States to collect more information about those who avail themselves of the program, codifying a policy already in place.

  • A woman’s involvement makes San Bernardino shooting rare among mass shootings

    The shooting in San Bernardino, California marked the 355th mass shooting in the United States in fewer than as many days in 2015. As details emerge regarding the events, it is clear that these types of crimes are morphing and not abating. “Shootings involving mission-oriented females may be a new threshold which should be concerning to all of us, and the incident in San Bernardino might just be a hybrid, and a harbinger, of shootings to come,” says an expert.

  • Governments should turn to academics for advice on radicalization, religion and security

    Western governments are deploying a range of strategies and tactics to deal with the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State. David Cameron is recruiting more spies, and parliament is discussing profound changes to the way in which digital intelligence is collected. But we must not ignore the invaluable supply of knowledge and insight available from our men and women in academia. Research can provide evidence-based context to contemporary challenges, including an enlightened understanding of the place of religion and faith in a security context. We can stop mistakes being made in terms of misguided policies and knee-jerk reactions. And researchers can help the design and deployment of interventions that make a real difference, focusing limited resources effectively.

  • Tashfeen Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS

    Tashfeen Malik, one of the two attackers who killed fourteen people in a San Bernardino social service center, used her smartphone to post a pledged allegiance on her Facebook page to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS leader – and officials say that timeline of the attack shows that she posted her message while driving with her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, in the black SUV in the moments after the attack. The two were killed in a shootout with the police about two hours later.

  • Syed Rizwan Farook was in touch by phone, social media with “international terrorism subjects”: FBI

    Syed Rizwan Farook, the 28-year man who, with his wife, killed fourteen and injured twenty-one people in a San Bernardino social service center Wednesday, had reportedly been in contact with at least two international terrorism subjects who were already being monitored by the FBI. Farook had been in touch with these international terrorism figures on social media, and that he had also contacted them by phone on several occasions. Law enforcement agencies say the motive for the deadly attack is still to be ascertained.

  • DHS, NYPD train on response to active shooters

    After months of coordination between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) Counter Terrorism Division, the NYPD conducted an active shooter training exercise on 22 November. S&T says that the exercise not only tested their training and proficiency, but also allowed them to incorporate several commercial technologies that could benefit future emergency situations.

  • EU Internet Forum launched to fight radicalization, terrorist content online

    The EU earlier this week launched the EU Internet Forum. The aim of the forum is to bring together EU interior ministers, high-level representatives of major Internet companies, Europol, the EU counterterrorism coordinator, and the European Parliament. The EU says that the goal is to reach a joint, voluntary approach based on a public-private partnership to detect and address harmful material online.

  • Husband and wife, identified as San Bernardino attackers, killed in shootout with police

    Police shot and killed a husband and wife, both in their late 20s, after the two killed fourteen people and injured seventeen at the Inland Regional Center, a social service center in Sam Bernardino, a working-class community of 200,000 residents about sixty miles east of Los Angeles. The two were identified as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his Tashfeen Malik, 27 (some reports noted that it was not clear whether or not the two had actually married). The couple had a 6-month old daughter.

  • U.K. attacks ISIS oil targets in first British military action in Syria

    In the first British military strikes in Syria, four British Tornados have dropped precision munitions on seven ISIS targets in eastern Syrian. All of the targets were part of the Islamist organization’s oil production and distribution system. The planes left on their mission from the RAF Akrotiri airbase in Cyprus less than an hour after the House of Commons authorized a U.K. military campaign to destroy ISIS targets in Syria. The United Kingdom has already been part of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS, but British military strikes were limited to attacking ISIS targets in Iraq.