National security wrap

The beat

Senior police officer charged by Victorian anti-corruption watchdog

In Victoria, Commander Stuart Bateson has been suspended after he was charged by the state’s anti-corruption watchdog on three counts of disclosing a restricted matter. At this stage, it’s not known what information was leaked. Bateson confirmed in a statement that he intends to fight the charges.

Western Australian police pilot new technology

Police in Western Australia have contracted Perth-based company Modis to develop cloud and artificial intelligence technology to help sort and process information. A trial of the Microsoft-hosted system showed it drastically decreased the time needed to find and sort relevant information. The time taken to undertake one investigation was cut from six weeks to 24 hours.

UK drivers warned to pay European fines

Police forces across Europe are using a mutual legal assistance scheme to pursue British drivers disobeying road rules on the continent. It has been estimated that up to half a million UK drivers a year don’t pay fines issued in France after leaving the country. It’s not yet clear how Brexit will affect the operation of this scheme.


Data breach hits US border agency

US Customs and Border Protection says that a breach of its systems has resulted in tens of thousands of images of people crossing the US border into Mexico being stolen. The agency says images and data were stored on the systems of a subcontractor without official consent. This follows a report by The Register that files from the ‘sole provider’ of numberplate-reading software used at the US border had been shared on the dark web.

Blacklisted Russian visits European countries 70 times

The European Union has been urged to review its border controls after a Russian lawyer blacklisted by the EU Parliament visited EU countries more than 70 times in the past four years. After allegedly purchasing a passport from the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Andrei Pavlov was able to travel to the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and France. Pavlov has been accused by the EU of being part of a group that stole US$230 million from the Moscow city tax office. Pavlov denies all wrongdoing.

Border closed amid Kenya–Somalia dispute

Kenya has closed a section of its border with Somalia in the southeastern county of Lamu. The Kenyan government says that the closure is part of its operations against terrorist group al-Shabaab and was done to combat illegal trade and human trafficking along the Lamu border region. The closure comes after the Somali government auctioned offshore oil-prospecting rights in a disputed area off Lamu County that’s claimed by Kenya in an ongoing maritime dispute.

CT scan

Australian jailed for assisting Islamic State

Australian electrician Haisem Zahab has been sentenced in New South Wales to nearly seven years in prison after helping the Islamic State terror group research and design guided missiles and a laser warning system over the internet. The judge presiding over the sentence noted that the high degree of planning, sophistication and analysis over an extended period of time indicated the very serious nature of Zahab’s crime.

South Australia creates counterterrorism squad

South Australia’s government has announced that it will create a specialist counterterrorism squad. Over four years, the government will spend $3 million on a team designed to protect the community from mass-casualty attacks. The squad will include highly trained police, mental health specialists and a data analyst.

Hezbollah-linked attack foiled in London in 2015

It’s been revealed that months after Britain backed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, police in London foiled a major bomb plot by the Tehran-linked Lebanese organisation Hezbollah. The group was reportedly stockpiling materials including three tonnes of ammonium nitrate, the fertiliser used to make the 1995 Oklahoma City bombs. During police raids, thousands of disposable ice packs full of ammonium nitrate were discovered and a man in his 40s was arrested.

First responder

Congressional panel passes bill to extend 9/11 compensation

A US House of Representatives panel has passed a bill to extend funding for first responders exposed to toxic dust during and after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. In February, it was announced that the fund created in 2011 would cut future payouts by up to 70% due to an increase in the number of claims made by sick emergency service workers. The issue drew worldwide attention when comedian Jon Stewart made a heartfelt appeal to Congress to support the bill.

Ebola detected in Uganda

A five-year-old child from the Democratic Republic of Congo who travelled with his parents to Uganda has been diagnosed with Ebola. It’s the first reported case in the country, which has been preparing itself against the spread of the disease since it broke out in the DRC last year. Having already vaccinated around 4,700 health workers against the deadly virus, Uganda is now in response mode.

Dengue fever expected to spread with climate change

A study published in the journal Nature Microbiology has found that global warming will lead to an increase in the spread of dengue fever, as the range of the mosquitoes that carry it grows. A map created by researchers shows that under a moderate warming scenario, up to 2.25 billion people would be at risk of contracting the disease in 2080. Currently, about 100 million people are infected with the disease each year.