National security wrap

The beat

Footage of police brutality leads to arrests in Hong Kong

Amid accusations of police brutality linked to pro-democracy protests, two Hong Kong police officers have been arrested after footage was released of them assaulting a man on a hospital trolley. Police spokesman John Tse said the officers’ conduct was clearly ‘unlawful’ and vowed that a full, independent inquiry into the incident would be undertaken.

Police regain control following protests in West Papua

Police in West Papua have regained control after violent protests erupted over the recent detention of 43 Papuan students. Protesters across Papua and West Papua reacted to the alleged mistreatment and verbal abuse of the students detained for bending a flagpole during the celebration of Indonesia’s independence day. Deputy governor Mohamad Lakotani said the protestors had torched buildings and blocked streets in Manokwari—the provincial capital of West Papua—‘burning tyres and tree branches, paralysing the town’.

AFP maintains smartphone is a computer

The Australian Federal Police has appealed a court decision that overturned a warrant on the basis that a smartphone is not legally considered a computer. The police argue that a smartphone ‘performs the same functions and mathematical computations as a computer’. In August last year, the AFP obtained a warrant under section 3LA of the Crimes Act—which requires a device to be a computer or computer system—to unlock a smartphone. The Federal Court decision effectively invalidates the police warrant.


Italy’s interior minister lets refugee children land

Twenty-seven unaccompanied minors were allowed to leave the migrant rescue ship, Open Arms, and disembark on the Italian island of Lampedusa, after Interior Minister Matteo Salvini gave in to pressure from other Italian officials. The rescue ship had remained at sea for more than two weeks because of Salvini’s policy prohibiting aid groups from landing in the country. While the minors will now be processed, the fate of others still aboard the vessel remains uncertain. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who urged Salvini to allow the children to land, has since been forced to resign.

US border agents arrest Interpol fugitive

US Customs and Border Protection says border patrol agents in Texas have arrested a man wanted for murder by Interpol. Marouana Bah, a 30-year-old French citizen, was found to have been in the US illegally. He was stopped at a border patrol checkpoint, where a check showed that he had an active Interpol warrant for murder in France. Bah, who was travelling on a passport that didn’t belong to him, was taken into custody.

Gunmen killed at Gaza border

Palestinian officials say Israeli forces killed three members of a group of armed men trying to cross the Gaza border, and injured another. The men were intercepted on the weekend, after three rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. It was the latest in a series of attempts by armed Palestinians to cross into Israel from Gaza over the past two weeks.

CT scan

Returning foreign fighters pose threat to Indonesia

Indonesia’s Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters Task Force has released data indicating that the nation faces an imminent threat from terrorists returning from the Middle East. Around 80% of all foreign fighters who left Indonesia to fight in Syria joined the Islamic State terror group. Now more than 600 of the fighters have returned home and roughly the same number remain in Syria and Iraq. Returning foreign fighters have caused problems in the past, most notably by helping terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah carry out attacks. The suicide bombings of three churches in Surabaya last year were reportedly carried out by a family that had returned from Syria.

Syrian jihadist group loses stronghold

The Syria-based jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has been forced from the strategic stronghold of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province due to the ‘heavy bombardment’ and scorched-earth tactics used by Syrian government forces. Syria-based Saudi cleric Abdallah al-Muhaysini, wrote that the conditions on the ground were ‘beyond [their] ability to endure’. Messages sent on the Telegram app since the defeat have shown the ‘downbeat tone’ and a possible loss of morale among jihadists in Northern Syria.

Islamic State ‘blooper’ video leaked

Al-Qaeda has leaked a video of a rival fighter in Yemen being thwarted by a bird as he tries to renew his allegiance to Islamic State. In the video, the militant is interrupted by the squawking bird which causes him to lose concentration and forget his lines. It’s not clear how the video was leaked, but it also shows propaganda outtakes from two other men.

First responder

Could the humble goat solve Portugal’s wildfire woes?

Portuguese officials are hopeful that goats could provide Portugal’s first line of defence against wildfires, which have ravaged the country in recent years. It’s hoped that the goats will serve as a simple, low-cost preventative tool by feeding on ‘the underbrush that fuels [the] fires’. For the program to be effective, advocates say the Portuguese government will need to provide support for the country’s shrinking pool of shepherds to look after the goats.

Chlamydia vaccine shows promise

A chlamydia vaccine has shown promise after it proved to be both safe and able to stimulate the immune systems of women volunteers in a clinical trial. If further tests are successful, the vaccine could help fill a global medical gap that scientists have been trying to meet since the 1960s. The vaccine will now move to a second phase that will examine if it is able to prevent infection.

Flood alerts in Pakistan after India relieves dam pressure

Flood alerts were issued in Pakistan’s Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces on Monday after Indian authorities released water into the Sutlej River ‘without preschedule’. Pakistan’s disaster management authority warned that water released from Alchi dam and heavy rains could lead to flooding in the Indus River.