This week in The Beat – more problems in Australia’s ‘ice’ epidemic, big money in European organised crime and news for Serial fans. And this week in Counterterrorism Scan, Australian foreign fighters, counterterror in the Asia-Pacific and mapping jihadi groups.
Australia’s ‘ice’ epidemic
We’ve referred to an Australian Crime Commission report describing methamphetamine, or ‘ice’, as the biggest illicit drug problem facing law enforcement. In a new op-ed, David Connery and Hayley Channer describe some of the recent changes to the Australian illicit drug landscape. Notably, the internationalisation of the drug trade presents new challenges for law enforcement and international cooperation.
Problems with dealing with ice aren’t just overseas. Justice Minister Michael Keenan has expressed concerns that criminals are exploiting differences in the way Australian states and territories monitor the legal substances used in ice manufacturing. He has called for national consistency on chemicals ahead of Law Crime and Community Safety Committee of the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra in May.
Organised crime in Europe is big business
The Organised Crime Portfolio, an EU-based research consortium, has written a new report, ‘From illegitimate markers to legitimate businesses: the portfolio of organised crime in europe’. The report puts costs of organised crime in Europe at €110 billion per year.
According to the report, there is a move by organised crime gangs from high risk areas like drugs into areas like tax fraud. The report also stressed the need for greater private and public sector cooperation—for instance, in data exchange and best practices—to close loopholes that organised criminal groups can exploit.
Serial spinoff: Undisclosed
Finally, if you’re anything like us you’ll be eagerly waiting for the second season of Serial, the podcast series that investigated the prosecution of Adnan Syed for the murder of Hae Min Lee. You can listen to Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed, a new series that picks up where Serial left off. This isn’t the last we’re likely to hear of this case; Syed’s appeal is set for June 2015.
Terrorism researcher Andrew Zammit has a new Lowy Institute report out today that argues that Australians fighting in Iraq and Syria pose a threat to Australia’s security. Andrew examines non-coercive means a part of a range of options to address that threat, and suggests that countering violent extremism measures adopted from other jurisdictions must be calibrated for the Australian context.
CT measures beefed up in the Asia Pacific
In the region, the Indonesian military plans to teach villagers about a ‘moderate’ interpretation of Islam. Malaysia’s army also attracted attention, but for the wrong reasons; 70 army personnel were found to be involved with Islamic State and will be counselled by police and army personnel. The Diplomat offers some context. Over to China, with a number of attacks in public areas the nation announced that it will bolster its security measures on public transport. These measures are part of a broader strategy to build a ‘security network’ that increases monitoring of potential terrorism offenders.
African governments take on terrorism
In Africa, VICE News has released its last instalment of its three-part series, documenting a journalist’s rare experiences on the front line of Nigeria’s battle against Boko Haram (13 mins). However, with the election of the new president Muhammadu Buhari—a former military chief of state and retired general—Nigeria might have finally found a leader to weaken Boko Haram. As for al-Shabaab, Paul Hidalgo at Foreign Affairs makes the case that the biggest cause of Kenya’s terrorism problem is not al-Shabaab; it’s the nation’s own government. This week’s visual is the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s map of fractures in jihadi groups around the world, comparing today’s situation with that of last year. It appears that Islamic State has ballooned at al-Qaeda’s expense, and that Islamic State has splintered other jihadi organisations while revamping the plight of peripheral groups.
Finally, Abdul Basit at the Express Tribune explains that ‘politically-correct and tactically-convenient’ research that ‘works on the simple binaries of extreme-moderation, oppressor-emancipator, progressive-regressive and “us versus them”’ has produced flawed policies. Instead, Basit suggests a multi-disciplinary approach that aims to understand the operations of terrorism.