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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Dec 2, 2016

Afghanistan’s security crisis is fueling new opportunities for Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other extremist groups, Afghan and American officials say, voicing concerns that the original American mission in the country — removing its use as a terrorist haven — is at risk.

As intense Taliban offensives have taken large portions of territory out of the Afghan government’s hands, those spaces have become the stage for a resurgence of regional and international militant groups. That is despite the extended presence of nearly 10,000 American troops in the country, tasked with performing counterterrorism operations and supporting the Afghan forces that are bearing the brunt of the fighting.

Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the chief of the United States Central Command, said the Afghan government now controls only about 60 percent of the country, the Taliban hold sway over about 10 percent, and the remainder is contested. Which group or groups fill those voids of increasing ungoverned territory in Afghanistan “is something we’ll have to contend with,” he said.

Read more: New York Times

A person wore two hats and a heavy coat as that person dropped off a homemade explosive that exploded in a Center City Philadelphia apartment, said Philadelphia Police.  The person, described by police as a person of interest, wore a "Elmer Fudd-like" lumberjack hat and a baseball cap as the person dropped off a package at Jim Alden's apartment along Pine Street -- not far from Rittenhouse Square.

Investigators showed photos of the person of interest Thursday and also said the device that blew up in Alden's hands was like no other seen on the East Coast. They also stressed that it appeared to be a targeted attack but they aren't sure if the person of interest simply delivered the device or manufactured it as well.  Surveillance images captured the delivery person on Lombard and Pine streets, said police.  Alden, who is cooperating with officials doesn't know why he was targeted, said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

Read more: NBC Philadelphia

Richard Reid, the man who admitted to trying to blow up a jumbo jet in late 2001 with explosives in his shoes, has asked a federal judge to waive the $250,000 fine he faces, saying that he will never be able to pay it while serving life in prison.

In a court filing earlier this week Reid, who is imprisoned in the United States "Supermax" prison in Florence, Colorado, made the request to U.S. District Judge William Young in Massachusetts.

"I am not now, nor will I, I believe, ever be able to pay this fine," Reid, 43, wrote in a hand-written letter asking that a bankruptcy petition be entered in his name.

Young gave federal prosecutors two weeks to respond to Reid's request.

Source:  Reuters

Clashes are continuing for the second day among heavily-armed militias in the Libyan capital Tripoli in what appears to be the worst outbreak of violence there in two years.

Witnesses on Friday say gun battles are rocking the southeastern Nasr Forest district and adjacent neighborhoods between militias vying for power and control over the city. The clashes started on Thursday and reportedly left eight dead. During a lull of violence late Thursday night, panicked residents lined up in front of area gas stations.

Tripoli has been held hostage by various unruly militias since Moammar Gadhafi, Libya's ruler for 42 years, was ousted and killed in 2011.

News source: ABC News

Europol has warned that militants from so-called Islamic State (IS) will aim to step up attacks on European targets, as they face defeat in the Middle East.

The European police force says more foreign fighters will try to come back to Europe, and "several dozen" capable of attacks could already be there.

Their tactics could include car bombs, kidnappings and extortion, it said.

But the report plays down the likelihood of attacks on critical infrastructure, such as nuclear sites.

It says that IS militants now prefer soft targets.

It warns that some Syrian refugees in Europe may be vulnerable to recruitment by extremists who infiltrate refugee camps.

Europe has been shaken by a series of attacks in recent years blamed on IS militants.

Read more:  BBC News