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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Dec 16, 2016

At dawn on a warm September morning in 2013, a minivan pulled up to a shattered villa in the town of Azaz, Syria. A long-bearded 29-year-old white man emerged from the building, along with his pregnant British wife and their three children, ages 8, 4, and almost 2. They had been in Syria for only about a month this time. The kids were sick and malnourished. The border they’d crossed from Turkey into Syria was minutes away, but the passage back was no longer safe. They clambered into the minivan, sitting on sheepskins draped on the floor—there were no seats—and the driver took them two hours east through a ravaged landscape, eventually stopping at a place where the family might slip into Turkey undetected.

They disembarked amid a grove of thorny trees. Signs warned of land mines. The border itself was more than an hour’s walk away, through the desert. They’d forgotten to bring water. Tania dragged the puking kids along; Yahya carried a suitcase and a stroller. Midway, Tania had contractions, although she was still several months from her due date. They continued on. At the border itself, while the family squeezed through the barbed wire, a sniper’s bullets kicked up dirt nearby.

Read more: The Atlantic

A young boy tried to set off a nail bomb at a Christmas market in Ludwigshafen, but the device failed to detonate, prosecutors have confirmed. 

The boy, a German citizen of Iraqi heritage, attempted to blow up the device at the Ludwigshafen Christmas market on November 26th. When the device failed to detonate he gave up, before trying again on December 5th, prosecutors said on Friday.

This time he took the explosive device, hidden in a rucksack filled with nails, and placed it in a bush near the town hall. Fortunately a pedestrian spotted the bag and alerted police, who then had specialists carry out a controlled explosion.

The 12-year-old, born in the town in Rhineland-Palatinate in 2004, had been radicalized and was encouraged to carry out the attack by an as-yet unknown member of the Isis terror group, Focus reported on Thursday, citing security sources.

Read more: The Local.de

The main suspect in the August 2015 attack on a high-speed train in northern France was under orders from the same Islamic State terrorist cell that orchestrated the Paris attacks in November 2015, his lawyer said Thursday.

Ayoub El Khazzani, 26, a Moroccan citizen who had been granted Spanish residency, was questioned by a counter­terrorism judge in Paris for more than five hours Wednesday afternoon. The event was the first time the suspect answered questions about the case, in which authorities believe that he had planned a massive attack on a crowded train bound for Paris from Amsterdam.

Khazzani’s admission of an Islamic State connection came in a statement delivered by his lawyer to the Associated Press. For security analysts, the revelation establishes a direct link between the August 2015 attack on the train and the November 2015 attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people in a coordinated series of assaults on cafe terraces, a concert hall and a stadium.

Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the mastermind of the Paris attacks, had given Khazzani explicit orders to attack the Thalys train, the lawyer said.

Read more: Washington Post