Extremists Praise Texas Attack | Europe & the Next Jihadi Threat | Psychological Drivers of Misinformation Belief

They said the teenagers, whose ages and genders they did not immediately confirm, remain in custody for questioning. GMP said police forces in the region are liaising with local communities to put in place any measures to provide further reassurance. The four hostages held at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas were unharmed. Akram’s family said they were “absolutely devastated” by what had happened and “do not condone any of his actions”, according to a statement which had been shared on the Blackburn Muslim Community Facebook page.

Police and MI5 ‘Very Much Alive’ to Danger to Extremists Freed from Prison  (Aisha Rimi, Independent)
Police and MI5 are making “a serious investment in terrorist lifetime offender management” due to the long-term threat posed by freed terror offenders, the country’s top counter-terrorism officer has said. The threat from those convicted has become a growing challenge for police and Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes said police were “very, very much alive” to the danger that released extremists presented to the public. Following attacks by freed terror convicts, there has been rising concern about short sentences given to extremist offenders. The incidents also raised issues about the effectiveness of de-radicalisation efforts in the prison system. In November 2019, Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt were killed by Usman Khan at Fishmongers’ Hall, London after he was released from prison on licence in December 2018. He was convicted of plotting to set up a terrorist training camp in 2012. In February 2020, Sudesh Amman, another released terrorist offender, stabbed two people on Streatham High Road, London. After the attack in Fishmongers’ Hall, legislation to enforce longer sentences for some terror offences was passed. However, this means sometimes offenders have to be arrested for lesser crimes carrying shorter terms so their plots can be intercepted before it’s too late.

Sweden and France Launch Joint Task Force to Prosecute ISIS Fighters over Yazidi Genocide  (Nicky Harley, The National)
Authorities in Sweden and France have launched a joint team to investigate atrocities committed by ISIS against the Yazidi community. Europe’s crime agency, Eurojust, has set up the team to prosecute foreign terrorist fighters for their persecution of the Yazidi population. More than 10,000 Yazidis were killed when ISIS swept through northern Iraq in 2014 and about 7,000 women and girls were enslaved, many of whom are still missing. “The main aim of the team will be to identify foreign terrorist fighters who were involved in core international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, primarily perpetrated against members of the Yazidi minority during the armed conflict in Syria and Iraq, in view of potential prosecution,” Eurojust said. “The team will also focus on identifying victims and witnesses of these crimes committed by foreign terrorist fighters in Syria and Iraq.” The joint initiative aims to share information and evidence more swiftly and avoid several interviews of the same victims. Investigations in the two countries are ongoing and are co-ordinated by Eurojust through the Swedish and French authorities, with the support of the Genocide Network Secretariat, hosted by Eurojust.

Fight Against Terrorism ‘Greater Challenge’ Than Ever Before, Says UK Police Official  (Arab News)
Britain’s fight against terrorism has become more challenging than ever before, a senior police official has told The Independent newspaper. Changing methods in planning, targeting and execution meant that authorities were struggling to detect potential attacks, said Dean Haydon, senior national coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing. Lone attackers have carried out the majority of terror incidents in Britain since 2017. And although the majority of incidents, including failed attacks, are carried out by Islamists, a growth in the number of far-right terrorists has concerned police. “The main threat we currently see is from people within this country that are being self-radicalized,” he added. “The timelines have been shortened. You can go out and buy a kitchen knife in a supermarket and decide, ‘This afternoon I’m going to commit an attack’ in the name of whatever ideology, and it’s a terrorist attack. “Would we see that coming? That’s really difficult to detect. Our collective challenge is far more difficult than it has ever been. The profile of a terrorist has completely changed, and that comes back to how the threat has changed.” He said the radicalization leading up to an attack had altered significantly since the 1990s.

Implications of Beijing’s Re-Innovation Strategy  (Emily Weinstein, Brookings)
China’s appropriation of foreign technologies and products is only one part of the way in which its tech industry has developed innovative products in recent years. As the Chinese government pushes its tech industry to move beyond copycat methods, it has bolstered its domestic innovation capabilities and adapted them to fit within the Chinese model. Chinese technological innovation is a system of “re-innovation”, or zaichuangxin; it does not mirror other global paradigms. Discussions surrounding China as a strategic competitor have been shaped by the notion that only democracy can promote innovation and creativity, that a market economy provides the only route to success, and that innovation derives from the private sector. Every day, China is disproving this line of thinking. From a U.S. policy perspective, a more holistic understanding of China’s innovation strategy—beyond a myopic focus on technology transfer—will be key to effectively competing with China in emerging and foundational technologies.

China Steps Up Efforts to Ban Deepfakes. Will It Work?  (Vittoria Elliott and Meaghan Tobin, Rest of World)
China ramped up its effort to police deepfakes on online platforms. New rules issued by Chinese internet regulators set up limits on the content shown by recommendation algorithms that powered many of China’s biggest platforms, like the news aggregator Toutiao, microblogging site Weibo and Douyin—China’s version of TikTok. The new rules ban the platforms’ recommender systems from showing “synthetic” content, including deepfakes and “fake news.”

The Psychological Drivers of Misinformation Belief and Its Resistance to Correction  (Ullrich K. H. Ecker et al., Nature)
Misinformation has been identified as a major contributor to various contentious contemporary events ranging from elections and referenda to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only can belief in misinformation lead to poor judgements and decision-making, it also exerts a lingering influence on people’s reasoning after it has been corrected — an effect known as the continued influence effect. In this Review, the authors describe the cognitive, social and affective factors that lead people to form or endorse misinformed views, and the psychological barriers to knowledge revision after misinformation has been corrected, including theories of continued influence. They discuss the effectiveness of both pre-emptive (‘prebunking’) and reactive (‘debunking’) interventions to reduce the effects of misinformation, as well as implications for information consumers and practitioners in various areas including journalism, public health, policymaking and education.

Europe Is Blind to the Next Jihadi Threat  (Liam Duffy, Unherd)
Politicians and the press have ignored the evolution of Islamism.

Federal Response to SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange Incidents  (GAO)
Beginning as early as January 2019, a threat actor breached the computing networks at SolarWinds—a Texas-based network management software company, according to the company’s Chief Executive Officer. The federal government later confirmed the threat actor to be the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. Since the company’s software, SolarWinds Orion, was widely used in the federal government to monitor network activity and manage network devices on federal systems, this incident allowed the threat actor to breach several federal agencies’ networks that used the software.
While the response and investigation into the SolarWinds breach were still ongoing, Microsoft reported in March 2021 the exploitation or misuse of vulnerabilities used to gain access to several versions of Microsoft Exchange Server. This included versions that federal agencies hosted and used on their premises. According to a White House statement, based on a high degree of confidence, malicious cyber actors affiliated with the People’s Republic of China’s Ministry of State Security conducted operations utilizing these Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities initially allowed threat actors to make authenticated connections to Microsoft Exchange Servers from unauthorized external sources. Once the threat actor made a connection, the actor then could leverage other vulnerabilities to escalate account privileges and install web shells that enabled the actor to remotely access a Microsoft Exchange Server. This in turn allowed for persistent malicious operations even after the vulnerabilities were patched.