National security wrap

The beat

Indonesian police arrested over abduction of British man

Four Indonesian police officers have been arrested over their involvement in the abduction and ransom of a British man. He was allegedly stopped at a roadblock, taken to a police station and then transferred to a hotel where he called his boss to pay the ransom of US$900,000 (A$1.3 million). The suspects are now under investigation by the local police. Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono said the officers involved were ‘unscrupulous’.

NSW police watchdog has limited capacity for complaints

The Law Enforcement and Conduct Commission has revealed that ongoing budget cuts have limited its capacity to investigate serious complaints made against NSW police officers. While initial assessments have been made of more than 2,547 complaints filed in the last 12 months, the watchdog’s commissioner, Michael Adams QC, says only 2% have been fully investigated.

Chilean police targeted by protestors

Bodycam footage of protestors in Chile throwing Molotov cocktails at a group of police officers has been posted on the Twitter account of the country’s national police, the Carabineros de Chile,. Several officers suffered severe facial burns after their protective gear caught fire, with the footage showing their colleagues rushing to put out the flames.


Biosecurity crackdown leads to more deportations

A second Vietnamese tourist has been deported from Australia for trying to bring pork into the country. The man failed to declare 4 kilograms of pork-filled mooncakes at Sydney airport. He was fined $420 and is banned from returning to Australia for three years, under biosecurity rules aimed at preventing African swine fever from reaching Australia. This follows a similar incident last month, when a Vietnamese woman was deported for carrying 4.6 kilograms of raw pork. Meanwhile, two Bangladeshi visitors have also been refused entry at Perth airport, after failing to declare 21 live plants.

Cordless tools breach Trump’s border wall

US border authorities say that Mexican smugglers have been using a popular cordless reciprocating saw to cut gaps in new sections of President Donald Trump’s border wall for people and drugs to pass through. A former Border Patrol chief said that Mexican cartels would ‘continue to innovate’ and won’t stop their efforts simply because of the wall.

Nigeria extends border closure

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of border closures with neighbouring countries until 31 January. The closure of all trade via land borders started in August in order to combat smuggling. The government has seized more than ₦2.3 trillion (A$9.2 billion) worth of contraband, though the closure has also blocked a ‘vital West African trade artery’, and led to a spike in the price of food.

CT scan

Deadly attack on Malian soldiers claimed by IS

At a military outpost in northeast Mali, 53 soldiers and one civilian were killed in a terrorist attack claimed by the Islamic State group. IS claimed responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks against Malian forces through its media outlet, though it did not provide evidence. The attack started in the middle of the day with shellfire and involved at least three suicide bombers who detonated explosives inside a compound.

Turkey demands Germany repatriate IS fighters

Turkey is demanding that Germany repatriate 20 captured German members of IS. Turkish Interior Minister, Suleyman Soylu, was critical of European states for not taking back imprisoned members of IS in Turkey, saying ‘we are not a hotel for IS members’. There are approximately 100 German members of IS imprisoned across Syria, Iraq and Turkey but concern about a political backlash and the practicalities of gathering evidence to prosecute them has made repatriation difficult.

UK terror threat downgraded

The United Kingdom has downgraded its terrorism threat level from ‘severe’ to ‘substantial’, the lowest it’s been since August 2014. However, authorities say the threat of a terrorist attack remains high and could still occur without warning. The BBC reports that this is not a sign that there are fewer people wanting to do harm to the UK, but that the resources and capabilities available to IS to support them has declined since its defeat in Syria.

First responder

Measles causes ‘immune amnesia’

Two new studies claim that measles infections in children can wipe out the immune system’s memory of previous illnesses. This causes the child to experience ‘immune amnesia’, which leaves their body more susceptible to new infections and bugs. This comes as Western Australia faces its worst outbreak of the disease in two decades, while countries like Samoa also experience outbreaks of the virus. Experts have warned of an ‘alarming upsurge’ of measles cases within unvaccinated communities worldwide.

Brazilian wildlife sanctuary threatened by oil spill

Scientists in Brazil are carefully monitoring the Abrolhos Bank, the largest biodiversity hotspot in the South Atlantic Ocean, as crude oil from a mysterious spill makes its way south. The source of the 4,000 tonne leak was unknown for two months but last week, Brazilian federal police named their suspect as a Greek tanker called Bouboulina, which was carrying 1 million barrels’ worth of crude oil off the coast of Venezuela in late July. The owners of the ship deny responsibility.

Apple pledges billions for California housing crisis

Apple has pledged US$2.5 billion (A$3.6 billion) to assist with the housing crisis in California. The company’s investment will go towards improving availability and affordability. Silicon Valley has been called out for its role in the crisis, with house prices rising significantly as a consequence of tech companies using the state as their base, effectively pricing many people out of the market.