National security wrap

The Beat

The costs of crime

ICYMI: The Australian Crime Commission released their latest report, ‘The Costs of Serious and Organised Crime in Australia 2013–14′ over the holidays. Their findings show that serious and organised crime cost Australia $36 billion in 2013–15, which is equal to $1,561 from every adult and child in Australia. For background reading, check out ASPI’s Special Report, ‘A web of harms: serious and organised crime and its impact on Australian interests’, which analyses serious, transnational and organised crime in Australia and the damage it does to our national interests.

Blackberry handsets remain criminal’s smartphone of choice

Last week, The Beat covered a story revealing that Dutch law enforcement agencies had cracked Blackberry’s legendary encryption. Blackberry has since released a statement claiming their devices are as secure as they’ve always been, and that any message recovery made by law enforcement ‘could be due to factors unrelated to how the Blackberry device was designed.’ The statement reinforced that there are no backdoors in their devices and that Blackberry doesn’t share users’ information with law enforcement or any other bodies.

CT Scan

Half-price terror

A leaked Daesh administrative document, translated by Middle East Forum Research Fellow Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, has revealed that the terrorist organisation has been forced to cut the salaries of its fighters by half. US-led airstrikes have recently been targeting the group’s oil business, destroying tanker trucks and storage tanks in eastern Syria, and a strike last week reportedly targeted a stockpile of cash in Mosul. The pressure on Daesh finances appears to be working.

International terrorism analysis

The new issue of CTC Sentinel includes an article on last week’s terror attack in Jakarta. Author Kirsten E. Schulze suggests that the attacks demonstrate a ‘growing military capacity’ among Daesh supporters in Indonesia. The issue also includes a forecast of the Global Terror Threat for 2016 and analysis of the effects of the ongoing war in Yemen on terrorist groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda.

Terror and territoriality

Aaron Y. Zelin, an analyst at the Washington Institute and author of Jihadology blog, has written about Daesh’s territorial methodology. Zelin makes use of three case studies—Tripoli  in Libya, Idlib in Syria, and Yemen—and  examines the group’s strategies, both pre- and post-territorial control.


Laser focus

India has announced it’s going to build laser fences along its border with Pakistan to detect potential terrorists. The fences will be erected by India’s Border Security Force in the north western state of Punjab. Currently only five of India’s 40 vulnerable border points with Pakistan are home to laser fences. The latest development comes shortly after a deadly attack on an Indian air force based in Punjab, which was blamed on Pakistan-based militants.

Darwin as the ‘centre of gravity’

Meanwhile, Darwin has been hailed as the ‘centre of gravity’ for Australia’s Border Force (ABF) agency after Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced last week that the ABF will have a permanent base at the East Arm Wharf in the Port of Darwin. The new facility, which will be fully operational by February, will allow the ABF to refuel, swap crews and rotate vessels for patrols. Minister Dutton stated that the strategic location of the base will allow the ABF to ‘stare down threats’ in the region, which include people smuggling and illegal fishing.

First Responder

Regional resilience

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has signed an agreement with the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) to provide a US$24.25 million grant from its Strategic Climate Fund to the South Pacific nation. The grant will enhance PNG’s climate reliance, supporting 21 vulnerable island communities with adaptation plans, marine ecosystem protection, as well as training in sustainable fishing and infrastructure design. The agreement also includes plans to upgrade the early warning system linked to PNG’s National Disaster Centre.

A group of Asian countries will collaborate with two Japanese universities to construct a microsatellite network designed to monitor the development of natural disasters in the region. Hokkaido University and Tohoku University will work with the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Thailand and Mongolia on the project, with the aim of having 50 satellites in orbit by 2020.

Tough money

The European Central Bank has been considering the resilience of its financial market infrastructure this week. Benoît Cœuré, member of the Executive Board, gave a speech emphasising that the bank shouldn’t focus just on its defence but also its ability to ‘operate or recovery quickly, minimising any adverse impact on the functioning of the system’, should a breach occur.