• ISIL uses toxic chemicals in its defense of Mosul

    In the run up to the U.S.-led coalition campaign to liberate Mosul, U.S. officials warned that ISIS would likely use chemical weapons to slow down the progress of coalition forces and terrorize the residents. Last Thursday ISIS took the first step in its chemical strategy by setting ablaze the Mishraq Chemical plant and sulphur mine, located thirty km south of Mosul. The toxic cloud includes lethal sulphur dioxide and hydrogen sulphide. When combined with residue from burning oil wells, it is deadly for people caught in the open or without gas masks. Military experts say health effects from the toxic fumes from oil and sulphur will likely subside in about eighteen months, but the toxic clouds could harm much of the plant and animal life in the area and make it difficult for local farmers to return to their fields until then.

  • Refugees and terrorism -- “No evidence of risk”: UN

    “Overly-restrictive migration policies introduced because of terrorism concerns are not justified and may in fact be damaging to state security,” warned the United Nations Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, at the UN General Assembly in New York. The perception that there is a link between to flow of refugees and an increased risk of terrorism “is analytically and statistically unfounded, and must change,” he said.

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  • Argentina requests extradition of former Iranian FM for role in 1994 Jewish Center bombing

    Argentina has requested the extradition of Iran’s former foreign minister due to his alleged role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aries. Argentinian authorities suspect five senior Iranian officials, including Ali Akbar Velayati and former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, of being involved in the bombing, which killed eighty-five people and is the deadliest-ever terror attack on Argentinian soil.

  • Funding for broad spectrum prophylaxis, treatment for bioterrorism threats

    The U.K. Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has received funding of up to $6.9 million from the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) for a program entitled “Inhalational ciprofloxacin for improved protection against biowarfare agents.” The inhalational ciprofloxacin formulations used in this program are Aradigm’s proprietary investigational drugs Pulmaquin and Lipoquin.

  • Terrorists, hackers, corrupt officials: Game theory need updating to catch up with today’s chaos

    Game theory has long been used to apply mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers. Many of today’s major problems do not stem from great power conflicts or monolithic blocks of self-interest, but from a vast array of single entities making highly individual choices: from lone wolf terrorists to corrupt officials, tax evaders, isolated hackers, or even armies of botnets and packages of malware. Game theory thus needs to catch up with the chaos of the modern world.

  • More powers, tighter monitoring: Germany reforms its intelligence service

    The Bundestag has passed a comprehensive reform of the BND, Germany’s main intelligence service. The legislation strengthens government monitoring of intelligence powers, and allows the BND to carry out certain types of surveillance activities. The reform is a response to two recent developments: the 2013 Snowden revelations that the BND had spied on German citizens on behalf of the NSA, and the growing concerns about terrorism in Europe. The new legislation thus gives the BND more powers – but subjects it to tighter judiciary monitoring.

  • Special forces should be at the heart of Britain’s military planning

    What sort of military does the United Kingdom need to deal with a rapidly changing set of potential threats? As Western countries increasingly move away from the conventional foe — one that is easily identified, armed in a similar way and which, most critically, thinks in a similar way, and therefore in a conventional and predictable manner – it’s time to reappraise the sort of armed forces required for the future. It is no longer the size of your arsenal of firepower but how well it is employed that matters. Organizations such as Islamic State understand that well: their actions are carefully targeted to achieve maximum effect with limited resources. With technology on the Western side, the best counter to this present – and likely future – threat, will be to adopt in turn Voltaire’s maxim and concentrate increasingly on special, and specialized, forces.

  • U.K. police charges man with terrorism over researching, using encryption

    Samata Ullah, a 33-year old Briton, earlier this month was charged in a London court with six counts of terrorism, one of which related to researching and using encryption. Privacy advocates say that a controversial statute under British law criminalizes, in the name of combatting terrorism, actions which, on their own, are perfectly legal.

  • Effective counter-extremism policy in the U.S. would focus on individuals, not entire communities

    The Obama administration’s domestic CVE policy has strained relations with an entire religious community, in large part because its policy perceives American Muslims through a security lens. The CVE efforts primarily consist of outreach to Muslim leaders to keep the community onside and encourage information sharing about vulnerable youth — but the community rarely knows about youth who are radicalized in their midst, and the vast majority of Muslims do not embrace violent extremism. Of the world’s jihadi foreign fighter population, there have been approximately 250 people mobilized out of 3.3 million Muslims in America (a mere .000075 percent). The U.S. government should jettison a community-oriented approach, and instead focus on individuals who have demonstrated a clear and sustained interest in jihadist propaganda, not an entire faith-based community.

  • ISIS fighters coming home after Mosul defeat pose threat to EU countries

    ISIS supporters who left Europe to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq have been fleeing from Mosul in the face of the U.S.-led coalition offensive – and European security officials say that as they come back home, they would pose a “serious threat” to European security. Experts warn that as the group loses power, the fighters will return home and continue the ideological battle on their home turf, even if the group is no longer in control of territory in the Middle East.

  • Iraq maintained a secret “torture chamber” in diplomatic mission in New York City

    The Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein kept what it called a “detention room” – a euphemism for a torture chamber — in the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Iraq, a five-floor apartment building on 79th Street. One of the rooms in the mission was converted to a torture chamber after Saddam seized power in Iraq in 1979. Saddam’s security police used the space to imprison Iraqis living in the United States – at times for up to fifteen days — and use the prisoners as leverage against their family members back in Iraq. Quite a few uncooperative prisoners were killed, and their bodies shipped back to Iraq in diplomatic boxes.

  • Developing tests for radiation absorbed in nuclear emergency

    In a large-scale nuclear or radiological emergency, such as a nuclear detonation, hundreds of thousands of people may need medical care for injuries or illness caused by high doses of radiation. To help save as many people as possible and better prepare the nation for the health impacts of such catastrophic emergencies, HHS will sponsor late-stage development of two tests, known as biodosimetry tests, which can determine how much radiation a person’s body has absorbed.

  • HHS bolsters U.S. health preparedness for radiological threats

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) says that as a part of its mission to help protect Americans’ health following even the most unthinkable of disasters, it is purchasing two medical products to treat injuries to bone marrow in victims of radiological or nuclear incidents. Bone marrow is essential to producing blood.

  • Syrian opposition easily captures Dabiq – town central to ISIS apocalyptic theology

    Syrian opposition fighters backed by the Turkish military took over the town of Dabiq, facing only “minimal” resistance from ISIS fighters, who had control of the town since 2014. Analysts say that ISIS token resistance was surprising, considering the fact that ISIS propaganda had depicted the battle for Dabiq as an apocalyptic final battle between Muslims and Christians, heralding the end of days. Still, ISIS theologians – perhaps sensing that the combined forces of the Syrian opposition and Turkey would easily defeat the ISIS forces in Dabiq — two weeks ago offered an interpretation in ISIS al-Naba online publication, saying that the battle at Dabiq would not, after all, herald the apocalypse.

  • 3 Kansas men arrested for plotting massive attack on a complex housing Somali refugees

    The Garden City, Kansas police on Friday arrested three members of a far-right militia group for plotting to bomb an apartment complex in Garden City, in which about 120 Somali refugees live. The complex also houses a mosque. Supporters of far-right nationalist ideology – sometime referred to as “alt-right” – have been using an apocalyptic language, which has been adopted by Donald Trump, describing the refugee program as an “invasion” of the country which amounts to “national suicide” for the United States.