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National security wrap

Posted By , , and on November 22, 2018 @ 13:52

The beat

Interpol not Russian for a new president

South Korea’s Kim Jong-yang has been elected Interpol’s new president, despite predictions his opponent, Russian Alexander Prokopchuk, would win. Western representatives have been strongly critical of Russian attempts to misuse Interpol’s ‘red notices’, which are effectively global arrest warrants intended for criminals, to have critics and dissidents detained and sent home for punishment. Prior to the election, two UK MPs called for a review of the UK’s Interpol membership and urged the creation of a new transnational policing body. The election was prompted by the arrest and disappearance of previous president Meng Hongwei in China.

Khmer Rouge leaders convicted of genocide

Two senior Khmer Rouge leaders have been convicted of genocide in Cambodia in the first such convictions by the tribunal set up to prosecute serious crimes that occurred between 1975 and 1979, when almost two million Cambodians died. Nuon Chea was Pol Pot’s deputy and Khieu Samphan was head of state. The trials are likely to be the last, with Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng saying that apart from appeals, the tribunal’s work is done.

El Salvador makes record cocaine bust

El Salvador’s navy has detained five people and seized 6.3 tonnes of cocaine from a semi-submersible boat far out in the Pacific. El Salvador’s biggest previous seizure was 5.3 tonnes of cocaine in 1993. Last year Colombia intercepted a consignment of 12 tonnes.

CT scan

Support urged for encryption laws after terror arrests

A joint counterterrorism operation by ASIO, the AFP and Victoria Police led to the arrest of three men suspected of plotting a terror attack in Melbourne. The men had their passports cancelled this year and were kept under surveillance. Authorities intercepted more than 7,000 telephone calls and 10,000 text messages. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has urged MPs to support legislation that would allow police to access encrypted messages, which the trio also sent.

American counterterrorism strategy failing

The US strategy of using kinetic power to fight terrorism is failing, according to a report by the American Enterprise Institute. It recommends a broader approach that focuses on countering Salafism, the underpinning ideological driver behind the rise of Islamic State and al-Qaeda. The Salafi-jihadi movement’s ability to learn from failures has allowed it to evolve and adapt to US counterterrorism policies while focusing its efforts on winning grassroots support from Sunni Muslims.

Bilateral cooperation to counter terrorism

India and the UK have agreed to deepen their counterterrorism cooperation. The two countries have pledged to work together on tackling radicalisation, violent extremism, terrorism financing and the use of social media to plan terrorist activities. The countries plan to share information and to work together on legal measures and improved practices.


Cards against the wall

The company behind card game ‘Cards Against Humanity’ has purchased land on the US–Mexico border to delay the building of Trump’s wall. The company asked followers for US$15 to support the plan for six stunts and surprises throughout the festive season. For ‘day one’ of the project, the company retained a law firm specialising in eminent domain—the power of a government to take ownership of private property—to make the process as arduous as possible.

North Korean explosions indicate improved relations

North Korea destroyed 10 frontline guard posts in the demilitarised zone on Tuesday in accordance with an agreement reached with South Korea earlier this year. North Korea notified the South Korean defence ministry and reportedly blew up the posts instead of demolishing them manually to meet a 30 November deadline. South Korea released a video of the demolition.

Italian aid worker kidnapped in Kenya

Armed gunmen reportedly speaking Somali have kidnapped Italian aid worker Silvia Romano and wounded a woman and four children in southeast Kenya. It’s the first abduction of a foreigner in the region since the series of attacks by the Somalia-based al-Shabaab Islamist militant group in 2011 and 2012. The incident comes after Kenyan and Somali authorities announced that a border point could be reopened due to the improved security situation.

First responder

Japan announces boost in disaster-recovery funding

The Japanese government has announced plans for a second supplementary budget, which will provide several trillion yen in funding for disaster-prevention efforts. The money will be used to improve infrastructure such as roads, power plants and airports that have been hit by typhoons and earthquakes. Tokyo enacted an initial supplementary budget worth ¥935.6 billion for disaster relief earlier this month.

Projects help Fiji prepare for climate change

Fijian farmers will receive 50 tablet computers with disaster-assessment software as part of a resilience initiative funded by the EU and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The $8.3 million umbrella initiative was launched in May and aims to make farmers more resilient to droughts caused by El Niño. A UN-funded project to help Fiji’s informal urban settlements prepare for climate change–related storms and other events is scheduled to be launched early next month.

Americans told to toss their lettuce

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned Americans to stay away from romaine, or cos, lettuce following an outbreak of E. coli which has affected at least 32 people in 11 states. Romaine was also the culprit in an outbreak that claimed five lives and made 210 people sick earlier this year, which was said to be the largest of its type in the US in more than a decade.

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[1] Interpol’s new president: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46286959

[2] two UK MPs: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-21/fears-next-interpol-chief-will-be-russian-pro-kremlin-prokopchuk/10516818

[3] Meng Hongwei: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/07/china-admits-missing-interpol-chief-meng-hongwei-is-under-monitoring

[4] Two senior Khmer Rouge leaders: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-46217896

[5] likely to be the last: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/19/no-more-khmer-rouge-prosecutions-says-cambodia

[6] seized 6.3 tonnes of cocaine: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/el-salvador-navy-seizes-record-63-metric-tons-of-cocaine/2018/11/19/ddaedb5e-ec49-11e8-8b47-bd0975fd6199_story.html

[7] 12 tonnes: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-colombia-drugs/colombia-seizes-12-tons-of-cocaine-its-biggest-ever-haul-idUSKBN1D9005

[8] joint counterterrorism operation: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/nov/20/arrested-planning-terrorist-act-police-raid-houses-melbourne

[9] legislation: https://www.9news.com.au/2018/11/21/03/33/dutton-renews-call-for-encryption-laws

[10] strategy: https://worldisraelnews.com/report-us-counter-terrorism-strategy-must-address-evolving-islamic-threat/

[11] report: http://www.aei.org/publication/terrorism-tactics-and-transformation-the-west-vs-the-salafi-jihadi-movement/?mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiTm1OaVpEbGpZMk0wWlRobSIsInQiOiJxcWdnTkhld010Slo5eGFsYnY4T09zZm5jRHhyb0pRcjdUaVlHV2E0TFk0RGFYTU5MUThnTXkrUnhYbVN4UXBaY2tUelZiQmRBTGs1MVhhT2MrVmxUMXJjOXRcL09RXC9wZ3pDZURCMFhVRmtPQW1ucGZtczN1c2RJcVNhbCtHd0N5In0%3D

[12] agreed: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-uk-vow-to-strengthen-cooperation-to-deal-with-counter-terror-challenges/articleshow/66658167.cms

[13] delay the building of Trump’s wall: https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/cards-against-humanity-buys-land-to-block-trumps-border-wall/news-story/bac0294e64cb4c89750d3764a914966d

[14] ‘day one’: https://cardsagainsthumanitystopsthewall.com/

[15] destroyed 10 frontline guard posts: https://www.newsweek.com/north-korea-blows-posts-border-serious-peace-1225137

[16] North Korea: https://abcnews.go.com/International/north-korea-detonates-dmz-guard-posts-southern-border/story?id=59314370

[17] video of the demolition: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/north-korea-video-south-korea-dmz-guard-posts-explode-peace-agreement-border-a8643876.html

[18] kidnapped: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/gunmen-kidnap-23-year-old-italian-volunteer-and-injure-5-others-on-kenyan-coast/2018/11/21/fb05a714-ed89-11e8-8679-934a2b33be52_story.html?utm_term=.632a571a1335

[19] series of attacks: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/21/italian-aid-worker-kidnapped-by-gunmen-in-kenya

[20] border point could be reopened: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2001303404/closed-border-point-poised-to-reopen-as-security-in-mandera-improves

[21] has announced: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/20/business/japan-compile-second-extra-budget-disaster-prevention-agriculture/#.W_S9iOgzaUk

[22] typhoons: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/earthquakes-rains-heatwave-typhoon-japans-brutal-summer-2018

[23] earthquakes: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/09/06/national/hokkaido-nuclear-plant-backup-power-quake-reviving-memories-fukushima-disaster/#.W_YQDtsza70

[24] will receive: https://www.fijitimes.com/tablets-issued-to-boost-vulnerability-and-disaster-assessments-in-agriculture/

[25] initiative: https://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/fiji_en/44977/Pro-resilience%20projects%20launched%20for%20Fiji

[26] project: https://www.adaptation-fund.org/project/increasing-resilience-informal-urban-settlements-fiji-highly-vulnerable-climate-change-disaster-risks-2/

[27] warned: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/e-coli-fears-leads-cdc-tell-people-stay-away-romaine-n938606

[28] outbreak: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/romaine-lettuce-e-coli-outbreak-kills-4-more-people-n879381