The Beat, CT Scan and Checkpoint

Evading capture ...

The Beat

Mexican drug lord makes escape

Following his high-profile  arrest in 2014, Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has escaped from Altiplano prison using a tunnel he allegedly built himself. This isn’t the first time he‘s escaped from jail, and it’s suggested that prison officials may have been complicit in the escape.

There are concerns Guzman could reclaim his influential role in the Sinaloa drug cartel . Should this happen, Guzman’s reach is such that his return to power could have ramifications as far as Australia.

Extreme measures to counter wildlife crime

Wildlife trafficking provides a concerning source of revenue for organised criminals. So scientists in Madagascar are permanently marking the shells of Ploughshare tortoises to prevent them being attractive to traffickers. The technique may attract some criticism, but also indicate the lengths scientists are prepared to go to protect endangered species that are targeted by poachers.

Very unique set of (canine) skills

Finally, our four-legged friends’ contributions to law enforcement are expanding beyond sniffing for drugs or explosives. Several dogs in the US have been trained to sniff out electronic devices such as thumb drives and hard drives at crime scenes which can take humans much longer to find. This training was of use recently, when dogs  found poignant evidence in an investigation of child pornography, indicating a new canine role in countering organised crime.

CT Scan

Countering Islamic State

How can we win ideological battles against Islamic State? Over at the Small Wars Journal, Ajit Maan explains that an effective narrative strategy has two interactive components—one that communicates the need for military action, and another that counters the enemy’s message. Maan argues that it’s our ability to defeat Islamic State’s narrative that will determine the likelihood of a military victory. Ultimately, Maan says, ‘we can kill bad guys with drones but bad ideas don’t die that way’.

Christina Nemr at War on the Rocks sees things differently. She writes that facts won’t change extremists’ minds, because people tend to disregard information that contradicts their beliefs. Instead, she suggests appealing to people’s values and motivations. Anthony Bergin and I made a similar point on Monday: that reinvigorating Australian values could help prevent home-grown extremism.

Pushback against UK’s CT laws

New counterterrorism laws came into force in the UK this month, placing  the duty of preventing extremism on various public bodies—including schools, prisons and local councils. But a recent open letter signed by nearly 300 prominent British figures condemned the laws as stifling free speech and stoking distrust in British Muslims. A Home Office spokesperson labelled the criticisms ‘simplistic’, citing the strategy’s recognition that there’s no single cause of radicalisation.


Australia calls for MH17 tribunal

Nearly a year after Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was taken down at the Russia—Ukraine Border, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop has urged the UN Security Council to establish an international tribunal to judge those involved in the downing of the plane, in which 298 people lost their lives, including 38 Australians.

Australia was joined by Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine in recognised the need for an independent criminal investigation to send a sound message that such actions won’t be tolerated for the sake of international civil aviation.

Guatemala joints hunt for ‘El Chapo’

This week The Beat highlighted Mexican Drug Lord Joaquin Guzman’s scape from prison. In following the manhunt, Guatemala’s Interior Ministry has deployed a special task force along its northern border in a collaborative effort to recapture Mexico’s most wanted man.

The timely security boost comes as ‘Popeye’, Pablo Escobar’s former hitman advised ‘El Chapo’ to head to the mountains in Guatemala, arm himself and declare an all-out war on the Mexican government in order to force them to come to an agreement with him.