National security wrap

The beat

Charity at risk

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre published a report assessing the Australian non-profit sector. It revealed that charities and not-for-profit organisations are at a medium risk of exploitation by money launderers and supporters of international terrorism. Between 2012 and 2016, ‘28 cases of suspected terrorism financing worth $5.6 million’ were found. Government officials said that the report’s findings would allow assessment of a non-profit’s vulnerability, and strengthen control and closer cooperation with law enforcement.

Guru’s conviction causing a rampage

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a self-declared ‘godman’ and leader of the movement Dera Sacha Sauda, was found guilty of rape in two cases and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Following his conviction, his supporters started rioting in India’s northern provinces of Haryana and Punjab. Ten of thousands of police tried to control protesters by invoking curfews and applying a shoot-to-kill order, which left 38 people dead and more than 200 injured in Haryana.

Setback for fighting IS in Marawi

Cayamora Maute, the father of the two brothers leading the IS faction that has been fighting in Marawi for four months now, died while in government custody. He was arrested in June, and officials had hoped that he would be able ‘persuade his sons to stop fighting and surrender’, despite not being certain that he was involved with the group himself.

CT scan

Negotiating with terrorists

Lebanon has transported about 400 ISIS fighters and their families from the Lebanon–Syria border to the ISIS stronghold in eastern Syria as part of a deal struck between the Lebanese government, Hezbollah and ISIS. In return, ISIS told Lebanese authorities the location of the remains of Lebanese soldiers captured by ISIS in 2014 and subsequently killed. The deal has provoked controversy in Lebanon and anger from the Iraqi authorities, who consider the transfer of terrorists to Iraq’s border to be ‘an insult to the (Iraqi) people’.

Terrorism by the numbers

According to a report released by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, 34,676 people were killed in terrorist attacks in 2016. More than half of the deaths (19,121 of 34,676) were in the Middle East and North Africa, and Iraq suffered ‘nine of the 11 deadliest attacks’. Western Europe had 238 deaths, 0.7% of the total. Despite its territorial losses, ISIS was again the world’s most lethal terrorist group in 2016. The group’s impact grew from last year, with 19% more attacks and 39% more deaths.

Meming CT

Spanish social media is mocking a video of a jihadist threatening more attacks in Spain. One version plays the reggaeton rapper Bad Bunny’s track ‘Tu no metes cabra’ (‘You don’t scare me’) over the dubbed-out Spanish-speaking ISIS fighter while he vows to avenge Muslims killed in the Spanish Inquisition. Edits of the video and related memes became one of Twitter’s ‘trending topics’ last week.


Bangladesh turns away Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar

The conflict between Muslim Rohingya and their Buddhist rulers has escalated, prompting thousands of Rohingya to seek refuge in neighbouring Bangladesh. The minority Rohingya retaliated against Myanmar’s security forces on Friday with a series of coordinated attacks, resulting in at least 100 deaths. Around 8,700 Rohingya have entered Bangladesh since Friday, adding to the existing 400,000 refugees already being hosted. Bangladesh has said that no more can be accepted, and is now attempting to send the new arrivals back to back to Myanmar.

People-smuggling boat intercepted off Queensland coast

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop revealed on Wednesday that a boat carrying six Chinese men and one Papua New Guinean man landed on a Queensland island on 20 August. Five of the men from China have since been returned to their home country, and the other two members of the group have been charged with people-smuggling.

Border barriers rise and fall

A border crossing between Jordan and Iraq is set to reopen for the first time in two years, as a result of Iraqi forces’ continued success against IS militants. This follows the reopening of the Arar border crossing between Iraq and Saudi Arabia earlier this month. Interestingly, the Washington Examiner published an interactive map last week showing that the number of border walls around the world is rising.

First responder

Houston, we’ve had a problem

Tropical storm Harvey, the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in over 50 years, made landfall on Friday. The storm is expected to remain over the state for a few more days. Amazing before-and-after photos demonstrate the severity of the flooding. The Guardian is providing excellent live updates on the storm. Coverage includes rescue efforts, looting, alligators and other related stories.

Mountainous mayhem

Extreme flooding in Nepal, India and Bangladesh has killed over 1,200 people and affected 20 million others. India blames Nepal for creating the flooding in Uttar Pradesh through deforestation, although that hypothesis is disputed by scientists. The crisis comes at a particularly tense time for geopolitics in the region, as India and China only just agreed to end a two-month-long nearby border standoff on Monday.

Trouble in Yemen

Human Rights Watch and 61 other nongovernmental organisations signed a letter yesterday urging the United Nations Human Rights Council to create an independent international inquiry into abuses committed by all parties in Yemen. The letter comes after airstrikes last Thursday in a residential area of Sana’a killed 14 people, at least five of whom were children. The possibility of an extreme famine and cholera crisis continues to loom over the country.