National security wrap

The beat

ADF training for Tassie police

Tasmania’s police special response teams will receive intensive counterterrorism training as part of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s response to the threat of domestic terrorism, which will involve training police forces across Australia. As the first responders in the wake of a terrorist attack, police officers require specialist and tactical response capabilities. The teams will spend two to three weeks with the ADF at Holsworthy Barracks.

North Korean sanction game

The US Treasury added more individuals, including three Russians, and 10 companies to its North Korea sanction list. The new additions are accused of enabling North Korean banks to ‘launder money through transactions involving coal and oil’, which allegedly benefits Pyongyang’s weapons development program. Meanwhile, a UN report revealed that two shipments from North Korea to ‘a Syrian government agency responsible for the country’s chemical weapons program’ had been intercepted in the past six months. The report didn’t say what the consignments contained; however, the authors are investigating ‘prohibited chemical, ballistic missile and conventional arms cooperation between Syria and the DPRK’, creating room for speculation on potential links also in other areas.

Make partying great again

German police arrested two Austrians over the weekend, after 5,000 ecstasy pills, worth €39,000 (A$58,500), were found in their car. The orange pills featuring President Trump’s silhouette have reportedly been trafficked into European countries through sales on the dark net, advertised with the slogan ‘Trump makes partying great again’.

CT scan

The CBA and CT

Five Commonwealth Bank transactions could be linked to terrorism, says the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre. Acting AUSTRAC chief executive Peter Clarke told a Senate committee on Friday that five customers, who had deposited anonymously with CBA deposit machines, had a ‘potential link to terrorism or terrorism financing’. CBA allegedly breached anti-money laundering and counterterrorism financing laws by not reporting $77 million of suspicious transactions.

Melbourne terror arrests

Three men have been arrested in northern Melbourne and will be charged with terrorism offences over two arson attacks on the Shi’ite Imam Ali Islamic Centre last year. The arrests were the result of an eight-month investigation by the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, which included the AFP, Victoria Police and ASIO. A spokesperson for the AFP told reporters that the attacks were being treated as ‘Islamic State-inspired’.

Child bombs

Eighty-three children, mostly girls, have been used as ‘human bombs’ by Boko Haram so far this year. That’s already a four-fold increase when compared to the whole of 2016. According to a UNICEF spokesperson, this practice has led to community suspicion of children who’ve been rescued or released from Boko Haram, which only adds to the trauma and suffering caused.


Tensions between Muslim and Buddhist neighbours in Myanmar

Around 700 Muslim Rohingya residents of Rakhine, western Myanmar, have been penned into their community by the surrounding Buddhist villagers. Animosity between the groups has been building since the disappearance of a Buddhist man in late July. Community members are worried that the situation could lead to a repeat of the violence displayed in 2012, when 200 Rohingya were killed and 140,000 displaced.

Crystal methamphetamine delivered by drone

In early August, US Border Patrol agents intercepted a drone containing $46,000 worth of crystal methamphetamine en route to San Diego. Until then, drones had not been thought of as a viable drug-smuggling vehicle due to the low weight capacity of the early designs. Advancements in technology have since made drone smuggling a more feasible venture.

New information about Brexit realities

The UK government has released an issues paper about how Britain plans to exit the EU focused on future customs arrangements. To keep the roads open between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, the government has promised there will be no return to the ‘hard borders’ of the past. According to the Economist, the report finally acknowledges ‘that Brexit will involve significant administrative costs’. Theresa May’s optimism about Britain’s ability to depart from the EU customs union and single market while continuing to collaborate with them has been criticised.

First responder

A story of ice and fire

An unusual wildfire in Greenland has caught the attention of scientists worldwide, after it burned for at least two weeks. Long-burning fires are unusual in Greenland, as it is one of the coldest areas in the world. Amazing footage of the fire has been captured through satellite imaging. The cause of the blaze is yet to be determined; however, the most probable explanation is a lightning strike.

Rescue in Ischia

After hours of work, rescue teams freed three brothers from their collapsed house on the Italian island of Ischia on Tuesday (video). They became trapped after a magnitude 4.0 earthquake hit the area, killing two people and injuring 39 others. More than 2,500 residents are reported to be homeless or displaced from the earthquake, and 1,500 have fled the island.

Sea-floor farming

Adam Bumpus from the University of Melbourne has written a sobering article reminding us that emissions are still increasing internationally, despite new climate change mitigation technology. According to Adam, we might not have hit peak emissions yet, especially if India’s rise continues to be powered by coal. On the upside, the article also noted the ‘enormous potential’ of seaweed as a carbon sink.