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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Jan 2021

Three self-styled militia members charged in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol began soliciting recruits for potential violence within days of the 2020 presidential election, later training in Ohio and North Carolina and organizing travel to Washington with a busload of comrades and a truck of weapons, U.S. authorities alleged Wednesday.

A four-count indictment returned in D.C. laid out fresh details and allegations against Jessica Marie Watkins, 38, and Donovan Ray Crowl, 50 — both of Woodstock, Ohio — and Thomas E. Caldwell, 66, of Berryville, Va. The three, all U.S. military veterans, are accused of conspiring to obstruct Congress and other counts, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors have said Caldwell appears to have ties to the anti-government Oath Keepers extremist group — although his attorney said he is not a member. They also have alleged that the retired Navy lieutenant commander helped organize dozens of others who coordinated their movements as they “stormed the castle” to disrupt the confirmation of President Biden’s electoral college victory.

Read more: The Washington Post

Pakistan's Supreme Court has ruled that four men convicted of kidnapping and murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl should go free, a move described by the White House as an "affront to terrorism victims everywhere."

Pearl was working as the South Asia bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal in 2002 when he was kidnapped in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, while reporting on Richard Reid, the British terrorist known as the "shoe bomber."

The high profile abduction drew international attention amid growing concern over the threat posed by radical Islamic terrorism.

Assailants later filmed Pearl's beheading and sent it to United States officials. It was among the first propaganda videos targeting hostages created by extremists, and helped to inspire other terror groups to film horrific and egregious acts of violence.

Read more: CNN

Police say a 71-year-old West Virginia man was arrested on gun charges in Washington, D.C., carried with him a list of U.S. and state lawmakers.

U.S. Capitol Police arrested Dennis Westover of South Charleston about 1:35 p.m. Wednesday. He was  charged with carrying a pistol without a license, possession of unregistered ammunition, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

“ln Defendant Westover’s car, the police located Defendant Westover’s Will and Birth Certificate along with Stop the Steal paperwork that had a list of Senators and Representatives both U.S. and West Virginia State Senators and Representatives, with contact info,” according to an affidavit filed in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.

Read more: West Virginia News

The Justice Department today announced its participation in a multinational operation involving actions in the United States, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom to disrupt and take down the infrastructure of the malware and botnet known as Emotet. Additionally, officials in Lithuania, Sweden, and Ukraine assisted in this major cyber investigative action.

“The Emotet malware and botnet infected hundreds of thousands of computers throughout the United States, including our critical infrastructure, and caused millions of dollars in damage to victims worldwide,” said Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin. “Cyber criminals will not escape justice regardless of where they operate. Working with public and private partners around the world we will relentlessly pursue them while using the full arsenal of tools at our disposal to disrupt their threats and prosecute those responsible.”

According to an unsealed search warrant affidavit, Emotet is a family of malware that targets critical industries worldwide, including banking, e‑commerce, healthcare, academia, government, and technology. Emotet malware primarily infects victim computers through spam email messages containing malicious attachments or hyperlinks. Emails were designed to appear to come from a legitimate source or someone in the recipient’s contact list. Once it has infected a victim computer, Emotet can deliver additional malware to the infected computer, such as ransomware or malware that steals financial credentials. Ransomware, in particular, has increased in scope and severity in the past year, harming businesses, healthcare providers, and government agencies even as the country has struggled to respond to the pandemic.

Read more: Department of Justice

The Biden administration believes it is hard to see a way forward for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban unless the militant group meets its commitments under a 2020 deal, although Washington remains committed to the effort, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

Killings of civilians in Afghanistan’s conflict rose to more than 2,900 last year, the country’s human rights commission has said, despite stepped-up diplomacy to end the war including peace talks taking place in Qatar.

The deaths are part of a wider increase in violence that threatens a delicate peace process, undermining international calls for a ceasefire as the Afghan government takes part in peace negotiations with the Taliban.

Read more: Reuters