National security wrap

The beat 

Calls to reform NSW strip-search rules

Using data obtained by the Redfern Legal Centre under freedom of information laws, The Guardian reports that NSW police have carried out more than 300 strip searches on boys aged between 11 and 17, including six between the ages of 11 and 13, since 2016. A month ago it was revealed that NSW police had strip-searched 122 school-aged girls since 2016, including two 12-year-olds. It’s unlikely that every strip search conducted is represented in the data, as the state’s police watchdog found that officers are unclear on what constitutes a strip search.

Police bust European nuclear smuggling ring

Europol says it has assisted Austrian and Moldovan authorities in their investigations into an organised crime group suspected of smuggling nuclear materials, leading to the arrest of three people. The group attempted to sell uranium-235, an isotope used in nuclear power plants and atomic weapons, to an unnamed army for A$5 million. The group had been infiltrated by an undercover Moldovan police officer.

Dummies direct drivers in Bangalore

Police in the Indian city of Bangalore have turned to mannequins to help control traffic, dressing them up as traffic officers and placing them on roads at congested junctions. The objective is to encourage drivers to adhere to the road rules, with a senior (human) officer commenting that ‘people behave differently when there is a policeman present at the junction’.


Chinese nationals found in truck at US–Mexico border

US customs officers have discovered 11 Chinese migrants hiding in furniture inside a truck attempting to cross the US–Mexico border at San Diego. The driver, a US citizen, was arrested for attempted human smuggling and officials placed an immigration hold on the Chinese nationals. Officers found six other Chinese migrants behind a fake wall in another truck at the same port last month.

Conman arrested over fake Russian border

Russian authorities have arrested a man for building a fake border crossing near the Russia–Finland border. He used the post to trick four migrants from South Asia into believing that they had entered the European Union. The conman installed makeshift signs in a nearby forest to mislead the migrants, who paid more than €10,000 (A$16,300) to cross into Finland. Authorities are considering charging the man with fraud, while the migrants are set to be fined and deported.

Bosnia closes border camp

Bosnian officials have begun closing a migrant camp near the country’s northwest border and moving the 600 migrants living there to a new centre near Sarajevo. The decision came after a visit by the EU’s human rights commissioner, who warned that deaths ‘would be imminent’ if the camp wasn’t immediately closed. Many of the migrants have said that they feared leaving the area near the Bosnia–Croatia border because they wanted to cross it to reach more prosperous parts of Europe.

CT scan 

Australian deported from Turkey faces terrorism charges

An Australian man will face multiple ‘very serious’ charges for terror-related offences that could carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Agim Ajazi was deported from Turkey last week, accused of being a ‘foreign terrorist fighter’ for Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Under Australian law, acts of terrorism can be prosecuted in Australia even if they occurred in a foreign country.

UK counterterrorism course goes public

The UK National Police Chiefs’ Council has opened up a free online counterterrorism course so members of the public can learn how to recognise suspicious behaviour and act appropriately in case of a terror incident. The 45-minute course was created for staff working in crowded areas in the aftermath of the 2017 London Bridge attacks. So far, 350,000 people have taken the course.

Saudi students grounded after Florida naval base shooting

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has grounded Saudi student pilots for up to 10 days following the shooting of three sailors at the Pensacola Naval Air Station by a Saudi Air Force lieutenant. The Pentagon confirmed that the no-fly rule affects 852 Saudi students enrolled in military programs across the US, although classroom studies will continue for all. While the motive of the attacker is still unknown, investigators are working on the assumption that it was an act of terrorism.

First responder

Support package for drought-affected SA farmers

The South Australian government has announced a $21 million drought support package for the state’s farmers. The package will fund rebates on council rates, an expansion of the Rural Financial Counselling Service and a rebate scheme for emergency water infrastructure. This comes after federal Drought Minister David Littleproud ‘named and shamed’ South Australia for not pulling its weight in efforts to ease the hardships faced by drought-affected rural communities.

NZ burns units over capacity after eruption

The White Island volcano eruption has stretched New Zealand’s burns units to capacity, with patients spread across the country. New Zealand’s chief medical officer, Peter Watson, said that the amount of work for some of the burns units in one day was equivalent to the normal workload seen in a year. Of the 31 people injured, 27 had burns to more than 30% of their bodies. Some injured Australians are being transferred to hospitals at home by the Royal Australian Air Force.

Drones a buzz kill for malaria

In a first for disease prevention, drones are being tested to help fight malaria. During the experiment on the island of Zanzibar, drones will spray Aquatain, a silicone-based liquid, onto areas of stagnant water to prevent the eggs from malaria-carrying mosquitoes from hatching. The test is part of the Tanzanian government’s efforts to eliminate malaria on the archipelago by 2023.