National security wrap

The beat

Facial recognition failure

A new report claims that the use of facial recognition technology by London police has been a failure, with the wrong person identified nine times out of 10. The Met Police used facial recognition at the 2017 Notting Hill Carnival, where the technology incorrectly identified police suspects 98% of the time. Although facial recognition is believed to be the next big leap in law enforcement technology, much must be done before it can be used reliably.

Police priced out

Rising living expenses mean that police no longer live in the communities they serve, creating lengthy commutes and fatigue for some officers. Not a single Atherton police officer has ever lived in that city, a community near San Francisco where the median house price is nearly US$7 million. Unaffordable housing for police and emergency service workers is an issue internationally; rising property prices have resulted in key areas in Sydney losing 10–20% of their police, teachers, nurses, and emergency service workers, according to the Key Worker Housing Affordability Report produced by the University of Sydney.

Protections lost to Brexit

UK citizens may be at risk of awaiting trial for years in foreign jails if a safeguard to restrict lengthy pre-trial detention is lost following Brexit. Negotiations on a post-Brexit security treaty will focus on remaining in the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) while keeping Britain’s unique safety net. It’s unlikely that the European Union will agree to the same EAW terms, which could force the UK government to keep a European policy while giving up important protections for British citizens.

CT scan

Radicalisation in Russia

Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on a church in Russia’s Caucasus on 20 May. Two police officers and one civilian were killed. Police killed the four assailants. The incident follows a series of thwarted planned operations, and an attack on churchgoers in Russia’s Dagestan in February. Several thousand Russian nationals fought with IS in Iraq and Syria, and the vast majority of the thousands of Central Asian fighters that travelled to the Middle East were radicalised in Russia.

Uyghurs, China and TIP

The Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), a Uyghur separatist group (previously known as the East Turkestan Islamic Party), released a series of videos this week, including one urging Uyghurs to emigrate to Muslim countries. The message comes just as recent reports emerged about China’s ‘re-education’ camps in Xinjiang, where tens or even hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs are interned and where claims of torture are rife. TIP operates in Central Asia and China, and wants to establish an Islamic state in Xinjiang. China considers TIP a critical threat and may now be looking to set up a base in Afghanistan to counter it’s collaboration with the Taliban. But ramping up security measures against Uyghurs may cause China more harm than good in Xinjiang.


‘Two faces of a single coin of subjugation’

Hundreds rallied in Kashmir in solidarity with Gazans. Protestors in the disputed Indian-controlled territory were met with tear gas and pellet guns. Kashmir and Palestine have acknowledged a united struggle, sharing a common religious identity and the pursuit of self-determination. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), Maleeha Lodhi, urged the UN on Saturday to implement resolutions on both the Kashmir and Palestine issues.

Mining operations and military aims in Tibet

China is reportedly undertaking a large-scale mining operation in Lhunze county in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. The move is criticised as part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet, a disputed territory currently under Indian control. The mining project, which is expected to unearth nearly $60 billion of precious metals, is accompanied by heavy investments in infrastructure and a massive influx of people. The move could create a new flashpoint between China and India amid relative calm following the informal summit at Wuhan, which sought to ‘reset’ ongoing disputes between the two states.

Morocco–Algeria feud over Western Sahara

Tensions are rising between Morocco and Algeria after Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita accused Algeria of facilitating cooperation between Hezbollah and the separatist Polisario Front. Bourita claimed that Algeria was aware of cooperation facilitated by the Iranian embassy in Algeria between Hezbollah and the Polisario Front, including the transfer of missiles. Morocco has since conducted military drills along its border with Algeria, simulating a deployment beyond the Moroccan-built security wall.

First responder

Terrorist response capabilities in Indonesia

Following the recent spike of terrorist attacks in Indonesia, President Joko Widodo will reactivate the armed forces’ Joint Special Operations Command to assist police in counter-terrorism operations, The joint command will include personnel from Kopassus, the army’s elite special forces unit, as well as navy and air force special operations units. It’s intended to be used only as a backup measure when the police force is unable to respond. As terrorism expert Sidney Jones highlights, this month has seen a spate of terrorist attacks in Indonesia as well as operations to disrupt planned operations. She emphasises the importance of understanding female networks in terror groups such as ISIS with a need for deradicalisation measures to focus on both men and women.

Pacific Partnership 2018

The annual US-led Pacific Partnership mission will wrap up this week, following two months of training operations by over 130 military personnel. The Pacific Partnership focuses on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training in the Asia–Pacific region. Thailand has been engaged in the Partnership since its inception in 2006, but this year is the first time it has hosted a mission, with some arguing that this represents a step in strengthening the US–Thailand military alliance. The mission is useful in allowing countries to share best practices on disaster risk management to ensure that military and other resources are used as effectively as possible in a time of crisis.

Flood warnings in Kenya

The Kenyan government has issued warnings of flash flooding in the country. Kenya has various institutions charged with disaster risk management, yet some argue that it’s unclear how well they are resourced, how well they cooperate with one another and how effective their implementation plans really are. Floods in Kenya earlier this year devastated the country, and highlighted the importance of investment in appropriate infrastructure and drainage maintenance.