National security wrap

Image courtesy of Flickr user Ceyhun (Jay) Isik

The Beat

A new resource for law enforcement to tackle illicit drugs

Last week, the Australian Crime Commission released the Precursor Chemicals Information Resource, a referenced guide on precursor chemicals for law enforcement and industry to help identify the chemicals used to make illicit drugs. The guide is a step towards disrupting the domestic manufacture of illicit drugs by helping authorities identify and understand the chemicals and techniques used in drug-making. Although it isn’t publically available, the ACC has published a fact sheet on precursor chemicals, drug manufacturing methods and how the guide will help break the chain in illicit substance manufacture.

CT Scan

Brussels update

The Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office announced on 12 April that two men have been charged with offences relating to the Brussels terror attacks and three others have been detained in connection with the Paris attacks. The pair charged, identified as Smail F. and Ibrahim F., rented an apartment that served as a hideout for the Brussels subway bomber. The arrests reveal that the Paris and Brussels attacks were plotted by the same terror cell, and that the original target of the Brussels attacks was the 2016 Euro soccer championships in France . The Brussels attack was pushed forward after Paris attacker Salah Abdeslam’s arrest.

Concern over how to monitor ‘high risk’ terrorist convicts released from Indonesian jail

Indonesian prison officials admitted they have difficulty monitoring ‘high risk’ terrorist convicts and can’t guarantee their ‘reform’. The concern comes amidst news that prisoner Heru Kuncoro was released from Nusakambangan prison last month. Kuncoro was an assistant to radical Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir and was jailed for purchasing electronic equipment used by the Bali bombers in 2002 and for smuggling firearms for use in terrorist activities in 2011. Kuncoro is one of 50 convicted terrorists across Indonesia set to be released this year.


The private sector helping bolster border security

A private data science company, Zettafox, is working to bolster border security capabilities by developing a system that mines big data to create risk profiles of travellers. Zettafox will use an algorithm that draws personal information from social media platforms, phones and credit cards to develop profiles for and alert security staff to high risk travellers.

Migrant crisis border security exploited by jihadists

Last week the EU’s border agency, Frontex, published their Risk Analysis for 2016. The report reveals that EU Member States reported more than 1.8 million illegal border crossings this year, six times the number who crossed in 2014. The report also outlines three significant challenges faced by the EU’s external borders: ‘An unprecedented rise in migratory pressure, an increasing terrorist threat and a steady rise in the number of regular travellers’. Indeed, Frontex has publicly admitted that ISIS terrorists see busy border checks in Greece and Italy as opportune places to infiltrate Europe.

First Responder

Push for resilience in the Caribbean

A new project designed to reinforce disaster risk reduction and build a resilient culture in the Caribbean was announced by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency last week. The ‘Strengthening Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies and Capacities in Resilience in the Caribbean’ project is a collaboration with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and is supported by the Austrian Development Agency. It aims to strengthen disaster risk reduction monitoring capabilities and improve knowledge and capacities for local resilience and community safety in a region that’s prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding.

Small islands face lack of fresh water access

Climate change may reduce fresh water access and increase the aridity of over 73% of the world’s small islands by 2050, a new study published in Nature Climate has found. The study, released on Monday, utilised global climate models to illustrate the threat to islands such as French Polynesia, and the Marshall Islands from rising temperatures and increased evaporation. Previous studies have estimated that only 50% of the islands would be drier. Giving a human face to the issue, the study pointed out that these islands are home to 16 million people who are already facing the threat of sea level rise.