National security wrap

The beat

NSW police continue strip searches despite complaints

NSW police will continue their strip-searching practices after the results of a watchdog investigation into the lawfulness of their conduct were published on Tuesday. The investigation was prompted by complaints filed by several women between 2016 and 2019. The report detailed five accounts of alleged police misconduct and concluded that issues were being addressed. The Law Enforcement Conduct Commission urged police to apologise but didn’t recommend any further action against the responsible officers.

Italian police bust cash counterfeiting ring

Italy’s Carabinieri have taken down a euro counterfeiting syndicate linked to the Camorra organised crime group, arresting 44 suspects after a three-year investigation. The counterfeiters are believed to comprise the largest such network in the currency’s history, and it’s thought they’re responsible for more than a quarter (or €233 million) of all fake euros in circulation across Europe. The operation to disrupt the ring was coordinated by Europol experts in Italy, France and Belgium.

CT scan

Debate over banning far-right extremist groups in Australia

Shadow home affairs minister Kristina Keneally has called on the government to proscribe far-right extremist organisations in Australia. The UK, the US and Canada have already banned a number of these groups. However, some experts contend that while right-wing extremism is an increasing threat, it’s not yet serious enough to warrant such far-reaching bans. The effectiveness of the proscription of extremist organisations has also been questioned, as it could send them underground.

Iran providing support for al-Shabaab in Somalia

According to government and military officials in Somalia, Iran has been exercising influence in the country and its neighbours by forming ties with extremist groups. Iran reportedly provides ‘money, weapons and ammunition’ to groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab, resources which have gone on to target US and Somali forces. It’s believed that Iran is taking a leaf out of the Russian handbook by using proxy groups to help push the US out of the region.


Customs agents used in crackdown on US protesters

US federal agents who detained a protester in an unmarked car during protests in Portland have been identified as Customs and Border Protection personnel. The US Department of Homeland Security says CBP officers from three ‘paramilitary-style’ units have been deployed against protesters in Portland. The department has not ruled out sending more officers to quell continuing protests in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Drones used in India–China border dispute

India and China are using drones in a reconnaissance and logistical capacity as they continue their dispute over territorial claims in Ladakh. A skirmish last month that resulted in 20 Indian army deaths and an unknown number of Chinese casualties prompted international actors, including nine members of the US Congress, to call for an easing of tensions.

First responder

Countries race to develop Covid-19 vaccine

The World Health Organization says 166 Covid-19 candidate vaccines are being tested globally. A vaccine developed by the University of Oxford is the current frontrunner after trials showed it spurred a successful immune response with minimal side effects. While the UK has already ordered 100 million doses of this vaccine, distributor AstraZeneca has yet to confirm whether they will be produced at its Australian facilities.

Indigenous Americans face pandemic threat

Significant concerns have been raised about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on indigenous communities in the Americas. The western hemisphere remains the epicentre of the pandemic, with more than 70,000 confirmed cases and 2,000 deaths since 6 July among its indigenous people. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said indigenous communities, which often lack political representation, are at a much higher risk due to socioeconomic factors and limited access to healthcare.