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Terrorism News

A collection of open-source terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Oct 24, 2018

Federal authorities have arrested key members of a Southern California white-power group, the latest move in an ongoing effort by authorities to break the back of an organization linked to racism-fueled violence.

Robert Rundo, leader of the so-called Rise Above Movement, was taken into custody Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said.

Two others — Tyler Laube and Robert Boman — were arrested Wednesday morning in connection with organizing and participating in riots, according to federal authorities. Another, Aaron Eason, was charged but remains at large, they said.

All four were charged with using the internet to organize or participate in riots, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
Private messages between group leaders, members and associates show an effort to keep their violent intentions secret, according to an FBI affidavit attached to the complaint. Daley urged members in one 2016 phone call to attend events wearing polo-style shirts and khakis, and to get military-style haircuts.

Read more: Los Angeles Times

Five environmentalists have been charged in Iran with national security crimes punishable by death, in a development the UN environment head said was deeply troubling.

The activists from the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation were arrested in January alongside at least four other people, and face allegations of spying, which human rights campaigners and Iran’s own government say are unfounded.

Concerns about environmental challenges, including water shortages, were a trigger for nationwide protests that began early this year before taking on a wider political dimension. They came as Iran faces its worst drought in modern times.

The impasse has undermined the administration of Hassan Rouhani, which has remained adamant that there is no evidence of wrongdoing against the environmentalists. By keeping them in jail and charging with such serious crimes, Rouhani’s hardline opponents are flexing muscles in a show of strength about their upper hand on security matters.

In January, at least nine activists were detained in mass arrests of environmentalists carried out by the Revolutionary Guards, the elite forces that act independently of Rouhani’s government and have huge influence within the country’s conservative-dominated judiciary.

Read more: The Guardian

Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza have engaged in a systematic crackdown on dissent, including the use of torture that may amount to a crime against humanity, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch.

"Relying primarily on overly broad laws that criminalize activity such as causing 'sectarian strife' or insulting 'higher authorities,' the [Palestinian Authority] and Hamas use detention to punish critics and deter them and others from further activism," wrote Human Rights Watch, or HRW, in the report.

"We documented dozens of cases of people detained for a Facebook post, for writing a critical article in a mainstream publication, for protesting, for being involved with the wrong group or movement," said Omar Shakir, Israel-Palestine director for HRW, at a press conference in Ramallah announcing the report. In detention, detainees routinely are threatened, beaten, subjected to foot whipping, in many cases subjected to torture."

The report, titled "Two Authorities, One Way, Zero Dissent," was compiled over two years, drawing on 86 cases and 147 interviews, many with ex-detainees, according to HRW. The two authorities -- the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza -- have cracked down on political opposition, social media criticism, journalists, demonstrations, and opposition on university campuses, HRW said, adding that the authorities' alleged practices in detention "may amount to a crime against humanity, given its systematic practice over many years."

Read more: CNN

Several suspicious packages have been found around the country targeting Democratic political figures and at least one media organization. The packages, which contain possible explosive devices, were found at the home of billionaire liberal mega-donor George Soros, Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton and CNN’s Manhattan offices. Federal authorities have not yet identified a suspect and are continuing to investigate, but are acting as if the packages are connected.

All of the potential devices were intercepted and none have detonated, but CNN is reporting that the packages contained “rudimentary, but functional,” explosives, with projectiles included in at least one. No injuries have been reported. There have been reports of devices being sent to the White House and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, but the Secret Service and Cuomo’s office have both denied those reports. 

A suspicious package was also reported at a Sunrise, Florida, building where Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former Democratic National Committee chair, has an office, CBS Miami reports. It has not been confirmed that a device was found there. A bomb squad was at the scene. The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper was also evacuated Wednesday morning for a suspicious package, according to Kate Morrissey, a reporter for the newspaper, but it was not immediately clear if the package contained a possible explosive device or if that incident is connected to the others. Morrissey said Democratic Senator Kamala Harris also has an office in the building. Another suspicious package led to the evacuation of NBC and CBS affiliates KSEE24 and CBS47 in Fresno, CBS47 reports. It is also not known if that incident is connected to the others.

NBC News reports the packages sent to Soros, the Clintons, the Obamas and CNN were all manila in color, have similar or identical components and all have a return address belonging to Wasserman Schultz. According to NBC’s Tom Winter, “There’s no suggestion OBVIOUSLY that Wasserman Schultz sent the packages.” MSNBC shared photos of one of the devices:
The Secret Service is investigating the packages sent to the Clintons and Obamas and said in a statement, “The packages were immediately identified during routine mail screening procedures as potential explosive devices and were appropriately handled as such. The protectees did not receive the packages nor were they at risk of receiving them. The Secret Service has initiated a full scope criminal investigation that will leverage all available federal, state, and local resources to determine the source of the packages and identify those responsible.”According to CNN, the package delivered to its New York offices was addressed to former CIA director John Brennan, who does not work for the news network. Brennan, who has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump with his criticism of his administration, is a contributor to NBC News and MSNBC.

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