National security wrap

The beat

Australia’s new security college in the Pacific

Ahead of this week’s Pacific Islands Forum meeting, the Australian government announced plans to set up an Australian Pacific Security College in partnership with the Australian National University. Police and security officials from the region will be provided training through the security college, with the hope that it will encourage ‘closer links between the Australian security apparatus and security officials across the Pacific’. The $19 million investment comes amid rising concerns in Australia’s security establishment about China’s steadily expanding investment and influence in the region.

Mafia boss unaware of tapped smartphone

Italian police have issued a number of arrest warrants following the recent trip of an Italian mafia boss to Toronto. The mafia boss warned associates that the Canadian police could be listening to their conversations, not realising that his own smartphone had been ‘transmitting his closed-door conversations’ to the Italian authorities.

Facebook helps French police make arrest

Facebook has assisted in the arrest of a man accused of assaulting and threatening to kill another man by alerting the French gendarmes to a livestream of the attack. Using images posted on social media and the streamer’s Facebook account, police were able to track the offender to a house in the rural area of Britanny, France, where they made the arrest. Facebook used the French government’s Pharos platform—a public portal for reporting illicit online content—to alert the police.


New Zealand prepares to roll out visa waiver system

On 1 October, New Zealand will roll out its Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). The system will screen travellers offshore for any border entry and immigration risks. The ETA will apply to citizens from countries on New Zealand’s visa waiver list and require them to declare any criminal history before they are cleared to board any flights or ships travelling to New Zealand. Immigration New Zealand’s general manager Stephen Dunstan said that under the pre-arrival vetting an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people could be turned away from the country annually.

US border intercepts drop below 100,000 a month

On Friday, US Customs and Border Protection released a statement saying that, in July, it intercepted 82,049 individuals who either ‘crossed the border illegally or were deemed inadmissible at Southwest border ports of entry’, a 21% decrease from the numbers posted in June. The reduction comes as the US steps up collaboration with Mexico and Guatemala to crack down on the flow of migrants coming from Central America. Despite the drop, the figure is still more than double that at the same time last year.

Migrants beaten at Bosnia–Croatia Border

A group of 18 migrants from Pakistan and Iraq have alleged that they were beaten by Croatian police while attempting to cross illegally into Croatia from Bosnia. The group were trying to reach the European Union, but were transferred to a Bosnian hospital after being found by local police. Authorities in Bosnia say they will now start recording injuries sustained by migrants as the Croatian government begins investigating the incident.

CT scan

India claims Pakistan supporting terrorists to fuel Kashmir unrest

Indian media is reporting that Pakistan has sent between 150 and 200 Kashmiri locals to terrorist training camps near the Line of Control (LoC) following India’s revocation of Article 370. The Times of India cited unnamed Indian intelligence officials, claiming that Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed had met with Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency to finalise a plan to attack Indian Kashmir ahead of India’s independence day on 15 August. The commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corp, claimed that terrorists are ‘attempting to infiltrate every night’, across the LoC, warning that the Indian army would respond to any armed provocations from Pakistan.

Jihadists at odds over fundraising goals

The spread of jihadist fundraisers in Syria reflects an ‘ongoing lack of unity’ as they compete for funds, according to BBC Monitoring. A number of fundraising platforms have been established in response to the Russian-backed siege by Syrian government forces in Northern Syria. One fundraiser seeks to free Islamic State women held in detention camps while another provides fighters with basic food, military equipment and medical supplies.

IS using tactics of attrition in Nigeria

Islamic State’s West African Province, or Boko Haram, has claimed responsibility for several attacks on the Nigerian army in the northeast of the country as part of its campaign of attrition launched in early June. More than 20 Nigerian troops were killed or injured as IS seized military vehicles, weapons and supplies. IS detailed its latest attacks on the encrypted messaging service Telegram.

First responder

A cure for Ebola?

The World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health have announced that healthcare workers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have held clinical trials for a number of experimental treatments to combat Ebola and found that two ‘appear to dramatically boost survival rates’ of those infected by the virus. This is a significant development in the effort to combat Ebola—building on the success of the experimental vaccine trialled last year to prevent health workers and frontline responders from being infected by Ebola.

Typhoon Lekima wreaks havoc in China

More than one million people were evacuated by authorities before Typhoon Lekima made landfall early on Saturday morning, according to Chinese officials in Zhejiang province. Roughly 700,000 people had been settled in over 12,000 shelters as winds of up to 187 kilometres per hour hour battered China’s east coast. The typhoon damaged an estimated 34,000 homes and has caused around 14.57 billion yuan ($3.06 billion dollars) in economic losses. The death toll stands at 33, with another 16 people still missing.

Legionnaires’ outbreak claims first victim

Last week, US health officials confirmed that an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease has left one person dead, and resulted in at least 12 confirmed cases and 61 probable cases of the dieases. The exact source of the outbreak is yet to be identified but has been linked to the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. Some guests who visited or stayed there between 12 June and 15 July were affected by the outbreak. The hotel remains closed while public health authorities determine whether it was the source of the Legionella outbreak.