National security wrap

The beat

Wishful thinking

An Albanian gangster’s boasts from prison have angered the UK prison service. Tristen Asllani, who’s serving a 25-year sentence for drug and firearm offences, posted an image on Instagram of himself laughing, with the caption, ‘The only thing missing [in UK jails] is whores’. The incident has turned the spotlight back on criminality among Albanian migrants in the UK. Of the 11,000 foreign nationals in British prisons, 716 are ethnic Albanians—a relatively high number given the small size of the Albanian community.

Taser use in question

The Northern Territory’s ombudsman released a detailed report recommending that NT police ‘carefully consider’ whether tasers should be used on children. The report was released in response to an incident in November 2016 when an NT officer tasered a 12-year-old as he ran from a stolen car. The ombudsman made nine recommendations on the use of tasers but stopped short of calling for an outright ban.

Seville oranges

Spanish police have arrested five people over the theft of 4,000 kilograms of oranges. The criminals’ fruitful endeavour was foiled when police searched their vehicles after a short pursuit. The group initially claimed the oranges were for personal consumption and ‘came from far away’. Pictures show thousands of oranges spilling from the vehicles.

CT scan

ASEAN counter-terrorism cooperation

In a joint statement on Tuesday, ASEAN defence ministers identified terrorism as the region’s most serious security threat. Returning foreign fighters and porous borders make the problem increasingly complex. The ministers said that they would improve regional cooperation in responding to threats and in promoting counter-narratives to terrorist propaganda. The statement comes after renewed fighting in January between Philippine forces and pro-IS militants in Marawi, the first such engagement since the government retook the city from jihadists in a months-long battle last year.

Bombings in Pakistan

There were several bombings in Pakistan last week. Baluchistan province was particularly hard-hit: on Monday, a remote-controlled bomb killed one person; and on Sunday, a hand grenade killed a mother and child. The culprits haven’t yet been identified. Over the weekend, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on Baluchistan’s Frontiers Corps and on a Pakistani army base in northwest Pakistan. The group said it was behind three other attacks in January and promised more to follow.

AQIM leader killed

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb confirmed that Abu Ruwaha al-Qasantini was killed by the Algerian military. The senior leader was head of AQIM’s propaganda wing, Al-Andalus Media, and was regarded as one of the 15 most dangerous AQIM fighters. His death—and the seizure of his computers—deals a significant blow to AQIM.


Anti-trafficking raids across the UK

In one of the UK’s largest anti-trafficking operations, British police arrested 21 people in London, Sussex and northeast England. The smugglers belong to a network suspected of trafficking hundreds of Iraqi-Kurdish migrants from Calais and Dunkirk to the UK. The raids were part of a broader operation across France, Belgium and the Netherlands, including a strike on a camp near Angres, France, on Tuesday.

Border wall blues

Lebanon has accused Israel of threatening regional stability as Israel announced plans for a border wall. The wall is to be built along the southern side of the UN’s so called ‘blue line’ on land that both Lebanon and Israel claim. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and members of the security cabinet have since toured the border region, while the US dispatched a senior diplomat to ease rising tensions. Tel Aviv’s announcement comes after Hezbollah threatened attacks on Israel’s offshore gas platforms and Lebanon revealed plans to explore for natural gas near its maritime border with Israel.

ABF rescues adrift boat

After drifting without food or fuel for six days, nine Papua New Guinean fishermen were rescued in the Torres Strait by the Australian Border Force. The crew onboard the Cape Fourcroy resupplied the banana boat with food, water and fuel. The fishermen were then able to return to PNG unaccompanied.

First responder

Tragedy in Taiwan

Tragedy hit Taiwan when a magnitude 6.4- earthquake struck the popular tourist town of Hualien, 20 kilometres off the east coast, on Tuesday night. According to the Guardian, Taiwanese Premier William Lai confirmed, ‘Two people were unfortunately killed, and 114 have suffered light or severe injuries.’ Images from Reuters show one building leaning at a steep angle.

Day Zero looms for Cape Town

Cape Town is on the verge of a mass water crisis as it faces one of its worst droughts in history. Residents are being asked to use fewer than 50 litres of water a day. The city could completely run out of water as soon as April. If the water level in Cape Town’s dam drops below 13.5%, state authorities will turn off all pipes, which will affect about 75% of the city’s population.

New WHO report

The World Health Organization has continued to flag its concern about global levels of antibiotic resistance. Its latest report says that antibiotic resistance is high in 22 countries. The WHO is encouraging countries to set up national antimicrobial resistance surveillance systems to help identity patterns and trends.