National security wrap

The beat

NRL on the radar

NSW Police have investigated allegations of insider betting and match fixing in the NRL. While Strike Force Nuralda couldn’t find any evidence for the match-fixing claims, detectives uncovered incidents of NRL players passing on ‘secret information about injuries and positions to professional gamblers’ in return for drugs, prostitutes and writing off gambling debts. Two detectives have been assigned to provide awareness briefings for officials and players ‘on the risks of associating with organised crime figures infiltrating the sport’.

Fraud on the agenda in the ACT

The ACT Magistrates Court is handling a sensitive case this week: the former executive officer to AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin, Gary Fahey, allegedly misused his corporate credit card in 64 cases, defrauding the AFP in different locations. Meanwhile, the push for anti-corruption mechanisms is gaining ground. The ACT will potentially have an anti-corruption watchdog by the end of 2018, as proposed in the latest report from the ACT Committee for an Independent Integrity Commission.

Discussing opioids

In a Facebook Live session (30 mins),  InSight Crime’s Steven Dudley and author Sam Quinones discussed the roots of, and potential solutions for, the growing heroin and opioid crisis sweeping the US, which President Trump has controversially declared a ‘national public health emergency’.

CT scan

Bombing and siege in Mogadishu

Just two weeks after Mogadishu suffered its deadliest ever bombing, 25 people have been killed in another attack. A suicide bomber drove an explosives-filled car to the gate of the Nasa-Hablod hotel and detonated the vehicle, causing significant damage. Gunmen, using intelligence service uniforms and ID cards to gain access, then stormed the hotel, beginning a siege which lasted almost 12 hours. Al-Shabaab quickly claimed responsibility for the attack and Somalia’s chief of intelligence and police commissioner have both since been stood down.

Turnbull in Jerusalem

At a meeting in Jerusalem, the Australian and Israeli prime ministers discussed ‘militant Islamist terrorism’. Mr Turnbull highlighted the importance of cooperation in the ‘protection of crowded places’ and keeping ‘our citizens safe’.

New York attack

A man driving a rented pickup truck has driven along a crowded bike path, killing eight people before being shot and injured by police. The driver has been identified as Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old Uzbek national living in the US.

International cricket returns to Pakistan

After an eight-year hiatus following an attack on its team bus in Lahore, the Sri Lankan cricket team has returned to Pakistan. This is the first time a test-playing nation has toured Pakistan since 2009.


Refugee standoff at Manus

Approximately 600 refugees will potentially be forcibly removed from the Manus Island detention centre by the Papua New Guinean Army. The men refused to leave the centre when it closed on Tuesday, despite electricity and food being cut off, saying they fear for their safety at the proposed accommodation in Lorengau. The centre has been in use since 2001 as part of Australia’s Operation Sovereign Borders, but a 2016 PNG Supreme Court judgement ruled the centre unconstitutional.

Bahrain imposes Qatari visas

Bahrain is introducing new visa requirements for Qatari nationals from 10 November, as part of ongoing sanctions by Gulf nations that have accused Qatar of supporting and financing terrorism. The current arrangements allow any citizen of a country in the Gulf Cooperation Council to travel with an identity card, with no requirement for a visa. The IMF has warned of the long-term consequences of the crisis. Steven Mnuchin, US Treasury secretary, announced new cooperation measures between the US and Qatar on Monday.

Iraq take control of border crossing

Iraqi forces have taken back control of the Iraq–Turkey border crossing from the Kurds for the first time since 2003. The Iraq–Turkey border lies within the Kurdish autonomous region but, after a Kurdish independence referendum  in September backfired, Iraq has exerted its control over land and resources.  The failed independence vote also prompted the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani, to resign.

First responder

Contract billing

After heavy public criticism, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has cancelled its controversial US$300 million contract with Whitefish Energy Holdings. The FBI is currently investigating the contract, which would have waived ‘any claim against [the] contractor related to delayed completion of the work’ and included extremely high rates for labour. Suspicions over the ‘sweetheart deal’ were aroused when it was revealed that financial backing of Whitefish Energy was provided by a major Trump donor, and the company was located in Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s hometown. Continuing that trend, yesterday The Intercept broke a story about a second ‘shady’ Puerto Rico contract, which they criticised for its lack of focus on resilience and transparency, among other factors.

Toxic ash in California

Adam Rogers from Wired wrote about the danger that ash from California’s fires may present to communities and environments. Scientists have a good understanding of what to expect from ash when it comes from burned vegetation, but urban fires present a new and largely unknown threat. Combustion by-products such as lead and arsenic from burned urban areas could be washed down in rain, contaminating drinking water and soil. Agencies are currently racing against the clock to evaluate the Californian fire debris, and get it ready for collection.