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National security wrap

Posted By , , , and on March 26, 2020 @ 13:43

The beat

Crime rates fall during Covid-19 pandemic

Police forces are reporting a fall in crime as cities around the world go into lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. New York City reported [1] a drop of 16.6% in serious felonies and the city’s police officers made 16% fewer arrests since schools there closed. Experts also say [2] Italian organised crime groups are finding it harder to operate due to business closures, social isolation measures and increased police scrutiny. Some crimes such as phishing attempts and scams have increased [3], however, as criminals try to take advantage of the pandemic.

Interpol and South Korean big-data company tackle dark-web transactions

Interpol is working [4] with South Korean start-up S2W Lab [5] to track cryptocurrency transactions on the dark web. S2W Lab says it has established its own database and has recently identified a black market for face masks. In a joint international operation last year, Interpol rescued [6] 50 children and arrested child sex offenders in Thailand, Australia and the United States after abusive material was identified on the dark web.

CT scan

Trump appoints new US counterterrorism boss

US President Donald Trump has appointed [7] intelligence veteran Lora Shiao acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Shiao previously held [8] several positions at the centre, including deputy director for intelligence, a role which focuses on terrorist plots against the US and terrorist activities in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Shiao, who will be the agency’s first female head, replaces Russell Travers, whose departure was feared [9] by some US officials to be the start of a political purge of the centre.

Covid-19 could have dangerous impact on international order

The International Crisis Group has reported [10] seven areas of major concern outside the health effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The group cites significant damage to the management of international crises and conflict response, and to counterterrorism efforts. Terrorist groups already trying to take advantage of the fragile environment caused by the pandemic include Islamist extremists [11], white supremacists and neo-Nazis [12].


Australian states close borders

Australia’s states are closing their borders to non-essential travel to block the spread of coronavirus. South Australia has established 12 checkpoints [13] at which travellers will be required to sign a declaration about their health and ability to undertake self-isolation for 14 days. The move has resulted in long queues of traffic on the Nullarbor as Western Australia implemented [14] its own border restrictions simultaneously [15]. Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have also closed their borders. The last time state borders were closed was in 1919, when New South Wales closed its borders with Victoria, South Australia and Queensland during the Spanish flu outbreak [16].

US immigration detainee tests positive for coronavirus

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says a 31-year-old Mexican is the first detainee in its custody to test positive for coronavirus [17]. The person is being quarantined and the agency is suspending arrivals at the New Jersey facility where they’re being held. Immigration advocates and lawmakers have raised concerns [18] about the potential spread of coronavirus in detention facilities. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed several lawsuits [19] attempting to have immigration detainees released.

First responder

Anti-malarial drugs may help treat coronavirus

Malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are being trialled in the United States [20] and Australia [21] as a potential cure for Covid-19. However, US President Donald Trump’s claims that the drugs are ‘not going to kill anybody’ and may be ‘one of the biggest game changers in the history of medicine’ have led to several hospitalisations [22] due to self-medication and one death after a man in Arizona took chloroquine phosphate, which is used to clean fish tanks.

UN calls for ceasefire amid pandemic

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called [23] for an immediate global ceasefire so that the world can ‘focus together on the true fight’ against the Covid-19 pandemic. The UN is seeking additional humanitarian assistance resources, medical supplies and testing kits as conflicts have delayed [24] the delivery of aid in countries like Yemen, Syria and Libya. However, it’s unclear whether anyone will heed the UN’s call.

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URLs in this post:

[1] reported: https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-city-crime-falls-as-coronavirus-takes-hold-11584998470

[2] say: https://www.occrp.org/en/37-ccblog/ccblog/11905-cocaine-corona-how-the-pandemic-is-squeezing-italian-crime-groups

[3] increased: https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2020-03-23/coronavirus-phishing-scams-emails-texts-australians-vulnerable/12079486

[4] working: https://cointelegraph.com/news/interpol-enlists-korean-startup-to-track-crypto-on-the-dark-web

[5] S2W Lab: http://en.s2wlab.com/

[6] rescued: https://www.interpol.int/en/News-and-Events/News/2019/50-children-rescued-9-sex-offenders-arrested-in-international-operation

[7] has appointed: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/21/us/politics/lora-shiao-counterterrorism.html

[8] held: https://www.dni.gov/index.php/nctc-who-we-are/executive-director-nctc

[9] whose departure was feared: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/acting-counterterrorism-center-head-fired-according-to-former-us-officials/2020/03/19/fb33d516-6a02-11ea-b313-df458622c2cc_story.html

[10] reported: https://www.crisisgroup.org/global/sb4-covid-19-and-conflict-seven-trends-watch

[11] Islamist extremists: https://www.spiked-online.com/2020/03/24/how-islamists-are-exploiting-covid-19/

[12] white supremacists and neo-Nazis: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/homeland-security-warns-terrorists-exploit-covid-19-pandemic/story?id=69770582

[13] 12 checkpoints: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-24/sa-shuts-down-borders-to-contain-coronavirus-spread/12085676

[14] implemented: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-24/perth-stadium-becomes-coronavirus-hq-wa-travel-warnings-issued/12085616

[15] simultaneously: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-22/wa-sa-set-to-close-borders-amid-coronavirus-fight/12079044

[16] during the Spanish flu outbreak: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-24/coronavirus-border-closures-reminiscent-of-spanish-flu-shutdown/12085478

[17] test positive for coronavirus: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/24/us/ice-detainee-coronavirus/index.html

[18] raised concerns: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/19/us/coronavirus-ice-detention/index.html

[19] several lawsuits: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-ice-lawsuit-aclu-release-sick-elderly-immigrants-at-risk/

[20] United States: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/23/health/chloroquine-hydroxycholoroquine-drugs-explained/index.html

[21] Australia: http://www.3aw.com.au/coronavirus-shield-drug-could-be-trialled-on-victorian-healthcare-workers-in-four-weeks/

[22] hospitalisations: https://www.bbc.com/news/52012242

[23] called: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/secretary-general-calls-global-ceasefire-citing-war-ravaged-health-systems-0

[24] delayed: https://www.cbsnews.com/live-updates/coronavirus-disease-covid-19-latest-news-deaths-2020-03-23/

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