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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Dec 20, 2016

Swiss police have found no radical Islamist or far-right motives by a gunman who killed himself after carrying out a shooting spree at Zurich mosque that wounded three worshippers, a top police official said Tuesday.

Authorities are still investigating the possible motive of the 24-year-old Swiss citizen of Ghanaian origin with a penchant for the occult who carried out Monday’s shootings in Switzerland’s largest city.

The incident had stirred concerns about possible extremist violence in the mostly peaceful Alpine country that, like others in mostly Christian Europe, has been wrestling with its relationship to its Muslim communities.

Read more: Washington Post

The German capital was on high alert Tuesday with one or more suspects still at large in the deadly truck assault on a Christmas market, an act Chancellor Angela Merkel decried as a presumed “terror attack.”

The only suspect, a Pakistani asylum seeker taken into custody shortly after Monday’s bloodshed, was released by police late Tuesday because of insufficient evidence. It left police scrambling for fresh leads in the assault that left 12 dead and 52 injured after a truck carrying a payload of steel careened into festive stalls and fairgoers in Berlin.

German police accelerated efforts to study forensic evidence, including analysis of blood stains within the cabin of the truck — turned into a weapon in a tactic used just five months earlier in a similar holiday rampage on the French coast.

Read more: Washington Post

Security forces in Chechnya have killed 11 suspected militants in a series of separate clashes, the strongman leader of the Russian region said Sunday.  Ramzan Kadyrov said on Instagram that a group of gunmen attempted to launch attacks on police in the provincial capital, Grozny. During the overnight clash in Grozny, they fired at police who tried to stop their vehicle. Police killed four gunmen and captured two others, who have been taken to a hospital.

A police officer also has been wounded in the clash.  Later on Sunday, security forces tracked down other gunmen on the outskirts of Grozny and killed seven of them, Kadyrov said. Another four suspected militants have been captured, three of whom have been hospitalized with wounds, he said.

Read more: Toronto Star

A gunman who shot three worshippers in a Zurich mosque on Monday evening was a 24-year-old Swiss man with Ghanaian roots and no apparent links to Islamist radicalism, police said on Tuesday.

The suspect, whom they did not identify by name, is thought to have killed another man in Zurich on Sunday. He seems to have taken his own life shortly after the mosque shooting, whose motivation remains a mystery, police officials said. "He is Swiss and we don't know anything about the motives," Christiane Lentjes Meili, head of criminal investigations for the Zurich cantonal police, told a news conference.

The gunman from the nearby town of Uster had stormed into the Islamic center near the main train station in Switzerland's financial capital and opened fire on people praying, wounding three men, whose condition was said to be improving on Tuesday.

Read more: Reuters

In the post-Snowden era, security services find it increasingly hard to track down angry young men like the Berlin truck attacker, argues John Blaxland.
The Christmas market truck assault in Berlin, which has left 12 dead and dozens injured, is a disturbing echo of the truck-borne attack on Bastille Day celebrants on the Nice promenade in July.

How could such events be allowed to happen? Why weren’t intelligence agencies in Germany and France able to stay one step ahead of the perpetrators?  After all, we have become used to hearing stories of “increased chatter” and “high alerts”. Doesn’t that mean intelligence agencies should know enough to prevent such attacks?

Several trends are emerging that help explain the latest phenomenon and the limits of the security and intelligence agencies. These include:

Read more: The Local