National security wrap

The beat

Police arrest squatters in Athens

Police officers in Athens have raided the Exarchia district, known as an anarchist enclave, and arrested around 100 people for squatting. The area had been targeted by police amid concerns of drug trafficking. The squats have been boarded up and police will remain in the area to prevent former residents from returning.

Australian gamers arrested for alleged match-fixing

In an Australian first, police have arrested e-sports gamers for match-fixing. It’s alleged that the six gamers arranged to lose their matches during a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament and placed bets on the outcomes of matches. The men have since been released, but if found guilty they could face up to 10 years in jail.

No need to bare all, Barcelona’s police have you covered

This summer, 174 beach bathers in Barcelona have been provided with emergency clothing kits, also known as ‘robbery kits’, by police. The kits, which include a t-shirt, shorts, thongs and a metro ticket, have been well received by those exposed to (and by) thieves on Barcelona’s beaches. The number of kits handed out has increased since they were introduced in 2016, with Barcelona’s battle with beach thieves showing no sign of abating.


Northern Ireland’s no-deal Brexit warning

Northern Ireland’s police chief has claimed that a no-deal Brexit would have a detrimental impact on security there. Simon Byrne says his officers don’t have the resources to effectively control the border with the Republic of Ireland, should checkpoints be reinstated. He also warned that the return of a hard border,  in the event of a no-deal Brexit, could prompt more people to join extremist and dissident groups in the region.

Phone checks at Hong Kong border

British travellers heading to Hong Kong have been informed by the Foreign Office that their electronic devices could be checked at the border with mainland China. This comes as British consulate worker Simon Cheng, who was detained at the border in Shenzhen earlier this month, was released by Chinese authorities. Hong Kong citizens and foreign visitors are now being warned to delete any photos or content related to the Hong Kong protests when crossing the border into mainland China.

Baby girl in critical condition after Texas crossing

US Customs and Border Protection says a six-month-old girl is in a critical condition after illegally crossing the US–Mexico border with her father. The pair was part of a group of 21 people who were apprehended in Texas. The baby and her father were transported to a processing centre, though it’s unclear what the nature of her illness is. This follows the Trump administration’s announcement that it will seek to allow the indefinite detention of undocumented children with their families while their immigration cases are determined.

CT scan

Senior al-Qaeda leader assassinated

Senior al-Qaeda member Abu Khallad al-Muhandis was killed by an improvised explosive device in Syria last week. Al-Muhandis was one of five al-Qaeda figures released in Iran in 2015 as part of a prisoner swap deal with al-Qaeda in Yemen. The identities of his assassins are as yet  unknown, but al-Qaeda has implied that he might have been killed by a rival  group.

IS children repatriated to Europe

Two young orphaned sons of a female Islamic State fighter are to be returned to their Austrian grandmother after DNA test results helped her gain custody of them. It’s the first such repatriation case in Austria but at least three other children could soon follow. A broader trend in Europe is emerging, evidenced last week when four German children under the age of 10 were repatriated to Germany.

Convicted terrorists less likely to reoffend

A US report has found that the recidivism rate of those convicted of terrorism-related offences is substantially lower than those convicted of other crimes. It found just 1.6% of politically motivated criminals reoffended while 44% of those convicted of other crimes were rearrested within a year. The study gave no clear answer as to why this might be the case but concluded that policies increasing the surveillance of released terrorists are, at best, ‘questionable’.

First responder

New search engine tool for first responders

Engineers from the University of California, Riverside, are developing a search engine interface for first responders which will allow them to retrieve information on a specific emergency in real time. The tool will enable emergency service personnel to improve their response times and resource allocation in life-and-death situations.

Mystery lung disease claims first victim

US health officials have confirmed the death of an adult who was hospitalised with an unknown lung disease that has now affected nearly 200 other people in the country since June. While the cause of the sudden outbreak is still undetermined, all the victims have stated that they had vaped either cannabis or tobacco products before getting sick. The outbreak is now being investigated by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the US Food and Drug Administration.

Trump goes nuclear over hurricanes

Though he claims the story was made up to embarrass him, US President Donald Trump has reportedly suggested the nuclear bombing of hurricanes as a way to prevent them from making landfall. According to Axios, Trump floated the idea in 2017. Soon after Trump’s election victory in 2016, National Geographic published an article outlining all the reasons why nuking hurricanes is a ‘really bad idea’.