National security wrap

The beat

Police can’t track child sex offenders

A lack of resources in NSW is making it harder for police to monitor child sex offenders. The Police Association of NSW says that in one month only 67 of the 4000 registered offenders were regularly monitored and the whereabouts of 201 offenders was unknown. According to the NSW police union, a single officer is currently expected to monitor 100 offenders, a rate that the union recommends be lowered to one officer per 30 offenders. That would require at least 150 more officers.

US murder capital revealed

In 2017, the homicide rate in the US city of Baltimore was 56 per 100,000 people. According to the FBI’s annual national crime report, that gives it the highest homicide rate of all American cities with more than 500,000 inhabitants. Whether 2018 will be different is yet to be seen, but officials are hopeful as crime rates are so far decreasing, with murders down 16% overall and over 30% in some areas compared to the same time last year.

French police seize Eiffel Tower(s)

Mini Eiffel Tower souvenirs sold in immediate vicinity of the iconic Paris tourist magnet may be linked to gang activity. A six-week operation to disrupt a suspected criminal gang resulted in the seizure of 20 tonnes of the souvenirs, according to French police. It’s alleged that migrants selling the towers have often been press-ganged into the job to pay off trafficking debts.

CT scan

Released terrorists pose threat to public

A new report from the UK warns that terrorist offenders released from prison are likely to re-offend and that authorities lack the capacity to monitor them, posing a significant threat to the public. This comes at a time of concern about the imminent release of radical preacher Anjem Choudary. Former UK prison governor Ian Acheson says record numbers of terrorist offenders in jail could also accelerate radicalisation. In Australia, NSW corrective services earlier this year rolled out a revamped national radicalisation and extremism awareness program to train staff to better recognise radicalisation to violent extremism.

Balkans lack counterterror resources

The US has found the Balkans remains a region where countries face major problems in countering violent extremism and terrorism. Returning foreign fighters remain and members of Islamic State are a challenge across the region. The main issue facing Balkan nations is a lack of adequate resources to fight terrorism despite high overall levels of cooperation with international partners and institutions.

US attempts to stop aid going to terror groups

The US government has tightened controls on aid deliveries in Syria in an attempt to avoid assistance being sent to terrorist organisations. NGOs working with the US can face fines or imprisonment if they fail to comply, which has led to criticism by NGO officials who have described the ‘zero-losses’ aim as unrealistic.


Kurds killed by landmines on Iranian border

Many impoverished Iranian Kurds risk their lives to earn a living as Kulbar (the Kurdish term for courier) smuggling goods from Iran’s Kurdistan Province into Iraq—an illegal but accepted local practice. The disputed Kurdish territory is littered with landmines. While some remain from the Iran–Iraq War, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has laid extensivel minefields recently to discourage Kurdish movements. On Monday, two Kulbar were killed by landmines, and a third lost a leg—adding to over 100 casualties in the past six months.

Tajikistan puts off rail project

The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Tajikistan railway could be a casualty of better relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The economic project intended to link Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, intentionally bypasses Uzbekistan due to historical Tajik–Uzbek animosity. However, as Tajik–Uzbek relations improve under the new Tajik government, Tajikistan has indefinitely postponed the project. The decision caused confusion in Turkmenistan and has been described as short-sighted.

Border plans resume despite broader hostilities

Despite tensions between the Turks and Kurds, Turkey and the Kurdish Region of Iraq have revived a plan for an international border crossing between the Erbil and Hakkari provinces. The plan, agreed to in 2014 but abandoned when Islamic State took control of much of the region, is intended to improve economic relations and tourism.

First responder

Cyclone Daye strikes eastern India

Cyclone Daye hit parts of eastern India last week, causing heavy rainfall and flooding. The Indian meteorological department issued a warning ahead of the cyclone, which included the national disaster management authority’s guidelines for pre- and post-cyclone ‘do’s and dont’s’. The chief minister of the state of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik, issued directions to ensure the quick restoration of power and water supply. India’s National Disaster Response Force was deployed in several districts and at least 150 people were said to have been rescued from the worst-affected areas.

German military sparks conflagration

Military rocket testing triggered a wildfire in the Emsland region of Germany, which has now been declared a disaster. The blaze has been burning for more than two weeks and around 1,000 personnel from the army, police and fire-fighting units were deployed to douse it. Residents living in the municipality of Stavern were told to prepare for possible evacuation. German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen visited the area and apologised to local residents on behalf of the military.

Typhoon triggers bee attacks in Hong Kong

Several Hong Kong residents were stung by bees in the aftermath of Typhoon Mangkhut last week. The storm  toppled several trees and destroyed many bee hives, triggering the attacks. Social media was abuzz with reports of bee stings and around 20 people were reported to have sought medical attention at hospitals.