National security wrap

Image courtesy of Pixabay user davidjewiss.

The Beat

Drug usage in the sewage

Curious about drugs in Australia? Test the sewage—at least that’s what the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission did, as it searched for drug byproducts. Initial results from the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program indicate the drug habits of approximately 14 million Aussies. Methamphetamine usage has ‘exploded’ and it’s now the most popular illicit drug nation-wide, led by Western Australia. On the back of the released data, ASPI’s John Coyne and Madeleine Nyst argued in a recent opinion piece that policymakers should be focused more on the rise of prescription painkillers and less on attention-grabbing ‘synthetic highs’. This New York Times feature explains how big the problem is in the US.

Missing persons on Facebook

This week the Australian Federal Police launched the official National Missing Persons Facebook page, intending to raise awareness about the 38,000 Australians reported missing each year. Justice Minister Michael Keenan highlighted the community’s increasing engagement online and proffered the hope that the page would fulfil an additional family support role, and would ‘complement family forums such as Leave a Light On and the Missing Persons Advocacy Network’.

Let sleeping Ferraris lie…

Luxury car theft is relatively common. The theft of luxury car makers is much less widespread, but Italian police have foiled a plan to steal and ransom Enzo Ferrari’s body. Ferrari died in 1988, but the 34 individuals arrested apparently intended to refocus their regular arms racket on a potentially-lucrative casket theft.

CT Scan

Aftermath of terror in London

Bad news for a majority of the world who live in big cities this week, with experts warning that terrorism is simply a reality of urban life. The comments echo the thoughts of London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who earlier said that terror attacks were ‘part and parcel of living in a major city’.

Following the attacks in London, as well as displays of solidarity, experts have warned of new challenges facing UK counterterrorism programs due to the ‘easily accessible, low-cost, unsophisticated methods’ terrorists use to inflict terror.

Springtime in Tajikistan

Spring is in the air in Central Asia and it seems CT is on the brain, as US and Russian forces begin separate military training drills with Tajik forces. On Monday, 2,000 Russian military personnel began CT drills with 50,000 Tajik troops. At the same time, US Central Command revealed that America would send 150 troops to conduct exercises with 100 Tajik personnel, with their aim being to ‘simulate scenarios to facilitate a coordinated partner response to transnational terrorism’.

If numbers are any indication of interest in the region, it appears Russia has the upper hand.

ASIS International offers free security resources

Finally,  in response to the rise of attacks on houses of worship across the world, ASIS International, the worldwide membership association for security management professionals, is providing a suite of free resources to help support those responsible for protecting these vital community institutions.


Thai authorities intercept rhino horn smugglers

Thai authorities are investigating two women caught trying to smuggle 21 rhino horns from Africa into Bangkok. The horns, worth THB170 million (US$5 million), were stored in a passenger suitcase on a flight from Nairobi to Suvarnabhumi Airport. The flight was met by two Thai women who failed to bypass customs screening with the assistance of three corrupt transport officials. One woman surrendered on Monday, but an arrest warrant’s still out for the other. Wildlife contraband trafficking and complicit officials are unfortunately common in Thailand.

The Game

Reuters has captured a moving set of testimonies from within what the displaced and persecuted call ‘the game’—the people smuggling trade from the Middle East to Western Europe. Read about some of the popular smuggling routes, how much they cost and the sacrifices people have made to place a bet in the game.

India to seal borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh

India intends to completely seal its border with Pakistan and Bangladesh by the end of 2018, the Indian Home Minister announced last Saturday. Despite fences already installed along 90% of those borders, Indian authorities want to crack down on terrorists and irregular migrants that still infiltrate the country.

Finally, Tanushree Pareek of Rajasthan is the Indian Border Security Force’s first female field officer! Hopefully she’ll be the first of many.

First Responder

Cyclone Debbie’s wake


In the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie, damaging winds and heavy rains continue in some areas and dangerous flooding is predicted. So far, the damage appears to be less than what was expected but it remains too early to confirm whether there were any fatalities (however, see this story). Hopes of a positive side-effect—that the cyclone’s cooling-effect could prevent further coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef—have been dashed by scientists, who say that Debbie ‘has come a month too late and in the wrong place’.

A nice catastrophe

170 professionals and volunteers participated in a ‘high-concept disaster simulation’ staged 200km north of Broken Hill on the weekend. The mock emergency scenario involved a crash between a tourist bus and a stock truck, and aimed to put emergency services to the test in complex, remote and harsh conditions. Personnel responded to fire, distressed animals, fatalities, complex injuries and distraught victims in a ‘sensational reality’ reflecting a possible real-life disaster. The simulation was deemed a success: ‘as far as catastrophes go, this one went nicely’.

Pop-up shelter

Providing shelter in the event of humanitarian disasters could be easier and cheaper in the future if some MIT students get their way. Check out their ‘flying building’ prototype.