National security wrap

The beat

Police criticised over response to minors who join terror groups

The case of ‘Islamic State bride’ Shamima Begum has raised interesting questions about the role and purpose of police in cases where minors join terrorist organisations. An advocate for Begum’s family, himself a former police superintendent, has alleged that the police failed in their duty of care to Shamima and those like her by gathering intelligence instead of looking out for their safety and wellbeing.

Nigerian police go without as electoral unrest persists

The Council on Foreign Relations has described the plight of police who provided security for the drawn-out Nigerian elections. Significant numbers of police were mobilised across the nation to ensure the safety of voters. However, many officers stationed at field postings were working without stipends, food or even proper accommodation. Nigerian police played a crucial role in minimising violence and making arrests in relation to electoral fraud.

Peruvian police tackle illegal gold mining

Police and armed forces have raided illegal gold-mining operations in Peru. Deforestation from illegal mining in the nature reserves of the Madre de Dios region has become an increasing problem over the past decade. The Peruvian government has declared a state of emergency and police will be based in the region for up to six months to improve security.


‘Queen of Ivory’ behind bars in Tanzania

A Chinese woman nicknamed the ‘Queen of Ivory’ was sentenced in Tanzania to 15 years in prison. Yang Fen Glan was charged with smuggling 860 elephant tusks valued at US$6.45 million. Since China banned the trade in 2017, interest in buying ivory within the country appears to have decreased, but there’s been an increase in ivory purchases among Chinese travelling overseas.

Tribal summit calls for border liberalisation in the US

A summit of 40 Native American tribes in Arizona has called for a streamlined system of access and identification for transborder communities. Speakers at the Tribal Border Summit said that traditional border crossings are essential to ancestral cultural and religious practices. Though there was a focus on US President Donald Trump’s southern border wall, tribal communities also live on the land borders with Canada and across the Bering Strait from Russia.

Drug seizures in New Mexico

US Customs and Border Police intercepted more than US$6.5 million worth of methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and fentanyl on Saturday in two separate incidents at the city of Nogales on the US–Mexico border. The drug hauls come after Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to fund his border wall, which he has touted as a way to stop illegal drug importation. This is despite the fact that  80–90% of drugs enter the US through legal ports of entry.

CT scan

Hezbollah’s political wing added to UK terrorist list

The United Kingdom has decided to add the entirety of Hezbollah to a list of banned terrorist organisations. Hezbollah’s External Security Organization and military wing were already considered terrorist organisations by Britain, but Home Secretary Sajid Javid has now said the UK government can no longer distinguish between the military wing and the political party. People associating with Hezbollah in the UK may be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

 ‘Voice of Paris terror attacks’ killed in Syria

A French jihadist linked to the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris has reportedly been killed in Syria. Fabien Clain became notorious after he was identified as the voice in a video that claimed Islamic State was responsible for the attacks. He was reportedly killed in a coalition airstrike at a camp in Baghouz, the last IS stronghold. US intelligence identified that Clain was in the Syrian camp three months ago. He was monitored for several days before the airstrike was launched.

Call for crackdown on US ‘eco-terrorists’

A fire at a Mountain Valley Pipeline construction site in the US state of Virginia is believed to have been lit by anti-fossil-fuel activists. Former US Army major general James Marks labelled the incident an act of ‘eco-terrorism’ and called on the government to take a harder line against environmental ‘extremists’. He also condemned ‘eco-terrorist tactics’ deployed in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

First responder

Prolonged drought continues to cripple Somalia

Somalia’s extreme drought is getting worse, with parts of the country receiving only 25–50% of average rainfall in the past year. Food and water shortages have left 725,000 people in need of humanitarian aid. Islamic Relief has launched an emergency response, but ongoing armed conflict has complicated the aid agency’s efforts.

Thousands displaced by conflict in Burkina Faso

Fighting between security forces and armed groups in the African state of Burkina Faso has displaced more than 100,000 people. Terrorist attacks and armed raids have spread from the nation’s north to the state capital and the southern border. The International Crisis Group reports that, for the first time since independence in 1960, parts of the country are no longer under government control.

Dial 112 for help in India

A new emergency response support system has been launched in New Delhi to allow people in distress to call a single emergency helpline number, 112, for access to law enforcement, fire, health and other services. Home Minister Rajnath Singh also announced the launch of an investigation tracking system for sexual offences, to improve the safety of women and children.