National security wrap

The Beat

Spending big: high denomination notes and financial crime

A recent report by Peter Sands from Harvard’s Kennedy School examines the link between high denomination notes and financial crime. In the paper, ‘Making it Harder for the Bad Guys: The Case for Eliminating High Denomination Notes’, Sands argues that eliminating high denomination notes would make it tougher for individuals and groups to pursue tax evasion, financial crime, terrorism financing and corruption. Swinburne’s Steve Worthington has recently suggested that the Aussie $100 bill might be used for the same purposes. And in Europe, the director of Europol has questioned whether or not high denomination notes should continue to be produced and circulated by the European Central Bank after Sands’ report.

Illicit drug offences on the rise

Last week’s Checkpoint featured news of one of the largest methamphetamine busts in Australian history. While law enforcement agencies continue to remove illicit drugs from the streets, a report released yesterday from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the number of Australians committing illicit drug offences is rising across the country: drug-related offences have risen 11% over the past year, and that upwards trend has continued since 2011–12.

CT Scan

Spotlight on US counterterrorism investigations

(T)error, a documentary film about domestic counterterrorism investigations in the US, aired on PBS this week. The film, from Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe, follows the story of Saaed Torres, a former Black Panther-turned-counterterrorism informant, as he’s tasked by the FBI to befriend and aid with the conviction of Khalifah Ali al-Akili, a convert to Islam and a convicted drug felon. The film highlights the difficulties of using civilian operatives and the ethical implications of the FBI’s counterterrorism tactics. Check out the trailer for the film here.  

’Brexit’ to undermine counterterrorism efforts

Talk of Britain’s exit from the EU has security wonks claiming that such a move would challenge the UK’s counterterrorism efforts. In advance of the June referendum, many are looking at the function of counterterrorism and intelligence sharing programs on both sides of the channel.


Iranian border security heightened

Iran has set up a special headquarters to monitor its borders until its parliamentary elections conclude tomorrow. The country has recently struggled with its border security, with the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) stating that ‘nearly 60% of the other side of our border is not controlled by the neighbouring country, and the border is in the control of terrorist elements’.

Belgium pulls out of the Schengen?

In the wake of more closures on Europe’s borders, the Belgian government’s interior minister Jan Jambon announced that Belgium would ‘temporarily depart from Schengen rules’ amidst his government’s increase of security at its Franco–Belgian border. On Tuesday over 250 police offers were stationed at the border in response to concerns that migrants from the so-called ‘Calais Jungle’ in France would flood into the country after their imminent eviction.

First Responder

Another Zika virus case in Queensland

A man from Rockhampton who recently visited South America is Queensland’s fourth Zika virus case this year. On Thursday, Queensland Health authorities have started treating the town for Aedes aegypti mosquitos, which potentially carry the disease. Acting Queensland chief health officer, Sonya Bennett, said authorities plan to initiate a public health declaration on Friday, allowing spraying to be undertaken around home and businesses within a 200m radius of the town’s Globe Hotel.

Cyclone Winston hits Fiji

Cyclone Winston hit Fiji on Saturday, leaving a trail of devastation across the country. The death toll from the Category Five currently stands at 36, with almost 14,000 people currently housed in evacuation centres. In response, Australia has provided an initial $5 million assistance package, and has offered an aerial surveillance aircraft and MRH-90 helicopters to help Fijian authorities provide relief and carry out assessments. Drone footage on The Guardian shows the extent of the damage, while NASA captured an image of the cyclone as it moved across the region.