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National security wrap

Posted By , , and on March 23, 2017 @ 12:30

Image courtesy of Flickr user Unsplash.

The Beat

Police eyes in UK skies

Police in England are advertising for a ‘drone manager [1]’ to supervise the first 24-hour drone unit to operate in the UK. The drones, which have been trialled [2] since 2015, will be used to surveil crime scenes, free-up police resources and help search for missing people. The unit will cover [3] the Devon and Cornwall areas—spanning 180 square miles—the largest jurisdiction covered by police in the UK. For Australia this novel UK program will no doubt focus close attention on the possible uses and abuses of police drones closer to home [4].

‘White market’ for illicit drugs?

Former state premiers Jeff Kennett and Bob Carr have spearheaded a new report [5] aimed at overhauling existing drug laws. The main takeaway is the increasing need to treat drug use as a health issue and not a legal problem. Titled ‘Can Australia respond to drugs more effectively and safely? [6],’ the report from Australia21 (PDF [7]) details 13 recommendations intended to minimize drug-related harm. This includes [8] the gradual decriminalization of illicit drugs, supervised facilities for drug testing and use, and the inclusion of harm-reduction measures in key police performance indicators. The report, backed by former top police and public servants, judges the current system to be ‘badly broken, ineffective and even counterproductive.’

CT Scan

Terror on the Thames

The Metropolitan Police in London simulated a hijacking of a tourist boat [9] in a counter-terrorism exercise on the River Thames last weekend. Some 200 police officers as well as the fire brigade, ambulance service and coastguard took part in the scenario, which involved a group of terrorists hijacking a passenger boat, taking several hostages and travelling up the Thames to central London to carry out a terrorist attack. Readers can check out a video of the exercise here [10]. London’s current terror threat level remains ‘severe’ [11]. Unfortunately, following events yesterday [12], it’s easy to see why.

Women resisting Daesh

The Sawab Centre [13], a US-UAE initiative set-up to combat Daesh’s propaganda online and promote alternatives to extremism, announced the launch of a new campaign [14], highlighting the role of women in ‘resisting Daesh and uplifting societies’. Using the hashtag ‘#InHerStory’, the campaign will run from March 20 to 22 in Arabic and English on Sawab’s Twitter [15], Facebook [16], Instagram [17], and YouTube [18] platforms.

After my piece in February [19], it’s nice to see more women being recognised for the role they can play in countering violent extremism!

Online platforms under pressure to step-up CT efforts

Since mid-2015, Twitter says they have suspended more than 636,248 accounts [20] as part of their efforts to ‘counter the promotion of terrorism around the world’. The decision arguably comes amid increasing pressure from governments [21] for online platforms to step-up their CT efforts and help governments find and stop individuals who promote extremist content online.

Checkpoint

Helicopter guns down Somali refugees

A US manufactured Apache helicopter, believed to belong to Saudi-led coalition forces [22], opened fire on a Somali refugee boat off the coast of Yemen killing 40 of the 140 refugees on board [23]. The Saudi-led coalition claims [24] that Houthi rebels are using the Red Sea to smuggle weapons into Yemen.

Pakistan-Afghanistan border reopens

Pakistan’s prime minister on Monday ordered the reopening of all crossing points [25] along its border with Afghanistan. The temporary closure was enforced by the Pakistani government on 16 February as part of a broader effort [26] to crackdown on militants crossing over from Afghanistan. Traders on both sides have apparently lost millions of dollars [27] with the Af-Pak border crossings considered the busiest and most lucrative in South Asia.

There’s nothing juicy about liquid meth

Finally, a tragic read [28] about a 16-year-old Mexican boy who died in 2013 after US border protection officers forced him to drink the liquid methamphetamine he’d smuggled from Tijuana, declared as apple juice. The boy’s parents have just been compensated [29] US$1 million from the US government.

First Responder

Peru inundated

Peru is experiencing its worst flooding in 20 years [30]. In Lima alone about 10 inches of rain has fallen [31] since January compared with an average wet season fall of two inches. A state of emergency has been declared across half the country with 75 people having lost their lives [32] and at least 100,000 homeless. The emergency is presenting additional security challenges [33] for the authorities: 22 inmates have escaped from a juvenile detention facility, the risk of mosquito-borne diseases is high, and prices have risen by 5%.The deluge is expected to continue [34] for another two weeks.

This is (not) a drill

A Japanese coastal town has staged the first-ever evacuation drill [35], in preparation for a possible North Korean missile attack. This comes after three North Korean missiles [36] fired earlier this month landed less than 200nm from Oga, in Akita prefecture. The drill used “J-Alert” [37], Japan’s nationwide civilian warning system, and focused on information-relaying and the quick evacuation of residents [38]. Japan remains on high alert after North Korea carried out [37] 24 ballistic missile tests and two explosions of nuclear devices in 2016.

Waiting for disaster

Interested in the impact of natural disasters on mental health, check out this article [39] on Coropaxi—‘the most feared volcano in Ecuador’



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URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/national-security-wrap-59/

URLs in this post:

[1] drone manager: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/20/police-force-recruits-drone-manager-take-control-crime-fighting/

[2] trialled: http://www.businessinsider.com/uk-police-launch-drone-force-detective-fight-crime-2017-3?IR=T

[3] cover: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/24-hour-surveillance-drones-uk-police

[4] closer to home: http://theconversation.com/police-drones-can-we-trust-the-eyes-in-the-skies-53981

[5] report: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/mar/20/former-premiers-and-australian-police-chiefs-call-for-drug-decriminalisation

[6] Can Australia respond to drugs more effectively and safely?: http://australia21.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Summary-Can-Australia-respond-to-drugs-more-effectively-and-safely.pdf

[7] PDF: http://australia21.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Can-Australia-respond-to-drugs-more-effectively-and-safely-Roundtable-report.pdf

[8] includes: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/time-to-rethink-drug-culture-report/news-story/40dd2e99f660b7e4c44b08e198a14fb4

[9] imulated a hijacking of a tourist boat: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-security-idUSKBN16Q0KJ?il=0

[10] here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/19/armed-anti-terror-police-terrifyingly-realistic-thames-pleasure/

[11] severe’: https://www.mi5.gov.uk/threat-levels

[12] events yesterday: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/mar/22/attack-houses-parliament-london-what-we-know-so-far

[13] The Sawab Centre: http://www.uae-embassy.org/news-media/uae-us-launch-sawab-center-%E2%80%93-new-digital-communications-hub-counter-extremist-propaganda

[14] launch of a new campaign: http://gulfnews.com/news/uae/government/campaign-to-highlight-women-s-role-in-resisting-daesh-1.1997265

[15] Twitter: https://twitter.com/sawabcenter

[16] Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sawabcenter/

[17] Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sawabcenter/

[18] YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9Qpvb2iP-6NnsDuxuGT7_w

[19] February: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/national-security-wrap-54/

[20] suspended more than 636,248 accounts: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/twitter-million-blocked-terror-ties-170321185026556.html

[21] increasing pressure from governments: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-internet-extremism-database-idUSKBN13U2W8

[22] Saudi-led coalition forces: http://www.globalresearch.ca/somalian-refugees-massacred-in-the-red-sea-off-yemen-coast/5581166

[23] killing 40 of the 140 refugees on board: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/helicopter-attack-targets-somali-refugee-vessel-off-yemen-killing-at-least-31/2017/03/17/5db0b952-0b06-11e7-a15f-a58d4a988474_story.html?utm_term=.499653d1e1e2

[24] claims: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/helicopter-attack-targets-somali-refugee-vessel-off-yemen-killing-at-least-31/2017/03/17/5db0b952-0b06-11e7-a15f-a58d4a988474_story.html?utm_term=.9d4a6ad38f59

[25] reopening of all crossing points: http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/pakistan-afghanistan-border-opens-after-a-month-of-closure/

[26] broader effort: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/national-security-wrap-55/

[27] lost millions of dollars: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/pakistani-pm-orders-the-reopening-of-border-with-afghanistan/2017/03/20/f610901a-0d49-11e7-aa57-2ca1b05c41b8_story.html?utm_term=.9f4ce6c81e42

[28] read: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2017/03/21/u-s-border-agents-made-a-mexican-teen-drink-liquid-meth-his-family-won-1-million-for-his-death/?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.0f4704367a90

[29] compensated: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-border-death-20170318-story.html

[30] worst flooding in 20 years: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/03/20/peru-flooding-el-nino/?utm_term=.d3b9a163fa04

[31] about 10 inches of rain has fallen: https://www.climate.gov/news-features/event-tracker/heavy-summer-rains-flood-peru

[32] 75 people having lost their lives: http://www.euronews.com/2017/03/21/peru-declares-state-of-emergency-due-to-deadly-floods

[33] additional security challenges: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-19/peru-floods-death-toll-rises-to-72/8367630

[34] deluge is expected to continue: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/capital-weather-gang/wp/2017/03/20/peru-flooding-el-nino/?utm_term=.f4c085c47c43

[35] first-ever evacuation drill: https://www.facebook.com/deutschewellenews/videos/10154672669654440/

[36] three North Korean missiles: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/06/north-korea-fires-unidentified-projectile-into-sea-of-japan

[37] used “J-Alert”: http://thediplomat.com/2017/03/japan-holds-first-ever-north-korean-ballistic-missile-attack-civilian-evacuation-drill/

[38] information-relaying and the quick evacuation of residents: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/17/national/japan-holds-first-ever-evacuation-drill-simulating-north-korean-missile-strike-waters-nearby/#.WNCi8zt96Uk

[39] this article: https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/03/living-in-fear-of-disaster-in-ecuador-cotopaxi/519684/

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