National security wrap

The beat

Whistleblower protection worldwide

Australia is set to boost protection of corporate whistleblowers. Kelly O’Dwyer, the minister for revenue and financial services, released draft legislation that ‘requires companies to have a whistleblower policy or face penalties’. There have been similar developments in Europe, where the European Parliament ‘voted for the European Commission to propose EU-wide whistleblower protection legislation’, and in the US, where Speaker Paul Ryan signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, before passing it to the White House. The Act aims to protect veterans while keeping the VA accountable.

Germany steps up its campaign against traffickers

Since 2015, the German government’s initiative #RumoursAboutGermany has tried to counter false information spread by human traffickers to lure refugees into making the journey to Germany. The campaign of posters, ads and broadcasting has been applied in only a few areas to date (Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Africa), but the government has now launched a website to debunk the rumours, including an alleged welcome payment of €2,000.

Bomb-sniffing no more

Believe it or not, the CIA warmed our hearts this week. In a ‘pupdate’ tweet, the agency portrayed bomb-sniffing-dog-to-be Lulu, who showed progressively less interest in her tasks. It was decided that bomb-sniffing wasn’t for her, so she was retired from the K9 program and adopted by her handler.

CT scan

ASEAN’s CT mini-Interpol

The Philippines hosted the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting last week. Given the recent events in Marawi, counterterrorism was high on the agenda. The Indonesian defence minister proposed that six ASEAN nations (Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia) form a multilateral intelligence-sharing program, based on the Five Eyes alliance. ‘Our Eyes’, as the proposed program is called, would be a major step forward in regional counterterrorism cooperation. Currently most intelligence sharing is conducted bilaterally.

Drone strike kills Pakistani terror chief

A spokesman for the Pakistani terror group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) has confirmed that the group’s chief, Umar Khalid Khorasani, was killed in a US drone strike on Tuesday. JuA is an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban and has claimed responsibility for several bloody attacks in Pakistan. Khorasani’s death comes amid an increase in drone strikes and ground operations in the Pakistan–Afghanistan border region, which has seen ‘at least 70 strikes’ in the last three weeks.

ADF to train Philippine troops

Defence Minister Marise Payne has announced that the Australian Defence Force will send 80 troops to train Filipino soldiers in urban warfare and counterterrorism. Australia will also provide intelligence support, as well as sending Australian Navy vessels for visits and naval patrols.


Travel ban ends as enhanced vetting begins

President Trump’s 120-day refugee ban ended on Tuesday, but the administration wasted no time in announcing new restrictions. Refugees arriving from 11 high-risk countries will be subject to a 90-day review process. Applicants will be evaluated ‘on a case-by-case basis’ and some may be granted admission into the United States. While the White House is yet to release the list of affected countries, Reuters has reported that they are mostly in the Middle East and Africa.

Indonesia demands answers over travel debacle

The chief of Indonesia’s military, General Gatot Nurmantyo, was denied entry to the US on the weekend, instigating a diplomatic rift between the two nations. The US is remaining tight-lipped about why the incident occurred, but said that Nurmantyo was eventually cleared, although he ultimately ‘chose not to travel’. A banner displayed in Jakarta on Monday called for the US ambassador to Indonesia to be fired over the incident.

ISIS fighters return home

A recent report by the Soufan Center revealed that at least 5,600 ISIS fighters have already returned home. More than 40,000 people from over 100 different nations travelled to regions of Syria and Iraq after the caliphate was announced in 2014. With the fall of Raqqa, and amid fears that ISIS will become a ‘decentralised, amorphous organisation’, many are now trying to make their way back to their home nations. The 822-kilometre border between Syria and Turkey is currently being used as an escape route.

First responder

Two ways of thinking about resilience

After Hurricane Harvey, resilience during rebuilding has been at the forefront of Houston’s and the United Nation’s priorities. This thought-provoking article looks at both forensic and outcome-based approaches to resilience. Forensic approaches take a reactive view of the disaster, looking at weaknesses in the existing system and pinpointing possible areas of improvement. Outcome-based approaches take a proactive view, aiming to build more robust systems.

Building a health system in a refugee crisis

Stefanie Glinski, a journalist based in South Sudan, has detailed the challenges inherent in building the health system from scratch during the Rohingya refugee crisis. The article is part of IRIN’s in-depth coverage of the crisis. Due to the close proximity of living quarters and limited access to sanitation, the World Health Organization has warned of a ‘very highly likely’ threat of cholera emerging in the refugee camps. Existing aid workers can barely treat the refugee population of nearly 600,000. To increase capacity, aid workers have started hiring the local Bangladeshi population to help, and have trained over 1,000 Rohingya as community health workers. There’s a lot yet to be done.