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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Jan 21, 2021

Maryanne Larrea, a young devotee of President Donald Trump, felt the sting of tear gas for the first time in her life on Jan. 6, when she marched among the crowd that Trump incited to storm the Capitol. A gun-rights activist and hardline conservative Christian, Larrea, 22, says she did not go inside the building that day; the tear gas was enough to force her away from the front of the mob. But when she got back home to Pennsylvania and started scrolling through reactions to the violence, she realized she might be in trouble.

“Everyone is saying it was a terrorist attack,” she told TIME about a week after the riot. “Everyone thinks I’m a terrorist because I was at that event.”

And it isn’t just the people in her newsfeed. A growing chorus of security experts and politicians has cast the mob, or parts of it, in terms that are typically reserved for ISIS and Al Qaeda. Some commentators have even begun to call for a new American war on terror in response to the Capitol riot, one aimed at President Trump’s more radical supporters on the right.

Read more: Time

A criminal complaint was filed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Brendan Hunt, also known as “X-Ray Ultra,” with threatening to murder United States officials.  Hunt was arrested this morning in Queens and made his initial appearance this afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr., who ordered the defendant detained pending trial.

Seth D. DuCharme, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the arrest and charge.

“Our democracy depends on the legislators who shoulder the responsibility of government.  By allegedly threatening to murder and intimidate elected officials, Hunt is striking at the core of our government,” stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme.  “This Office will aggressively disrupt such conduct and prosecute offenders like the defendant to the fullest extent of the law.”

Read more: Department of Justice

A Washington nonprofit group sued Apple in federal court Sunday, demanding that it remove Telegram, a chat and social media app, from its app store for failing to crack down on violent, extremist conversation in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The suit amounts to a pressure tactic to get Apple to act against Telegram as it already has against Parler, a social media site that swelled with calls for violence and insurrection ahead of the Capitol siege, according to researchers. Apple and Google both have booted Parler from their app stores because of its lax moderation policies, and Amazon Web Services withdrew support as well, disabling Parler last week on the same grounds. Telegram offers both closed, private chat rooms and public groups that anyone with the app can join.

Read more: Washington Post

For years, legions of QAnon conspiracy theory adherents encouraged one another to “trust the plan” as they waited for the day when President Donald Trump would orchestrate mass arrests, military tribunals and executions of his Satan-worshipping, child-sacrificing enemies.

Keeping the faith wasn’t easy when Inauguration Day didn’t usher in “The Storm,” the apocalyptic reckoning that they have believed was coming for prominent Democrats and Trump’s “deep state” foes. QAnon followers grappled with anger, confusion and disappointment Wednesday as President Joe Biden was sworn into office.

Some believers found a way to twist the conspiracy theory’s convoluted narrative to fit their belief that Biden’s victory was an illusion and that Trump would secure a second term in office. Others clung to the notion that Trump will remain a “shadow president” during Biden’s term. Some even floated the idea that the inauguration ceremony was computer-generated or that Biden himself could be the mysterious “Q,” who is purportedly a government insider posting cryptic clues about the conspiracy.

Read more: AP

Two suicide blasts at a market in central Baghdad on Thursday killed at least 28 people, according to the Iraqi military.

A further 73 people were injured, Major General Kadhem Bohan, the head of Iraq's civil defense unit, told reporters.

Attack such as this in the Iraqi capital have been rare since the military defeat of the "Islamic State" in Iraq in 2017.

The first suicide bomber rushed into the market and claimed to feel sick, so that people would gather around him. He then detonated his an explosive belt, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

A second attacker detonated his bomb as people gathered around the victims of the first attack, the ministry said.

Read more: Deutsche Welle