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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Dec 21, 2016

A man charged with gun offences by counter-terrorism police investigating the murder of Curtis Cheng will face court again.

Masood Zakaria, 21, appeared at Parramatta Court on Wednesday charged with possessing an unauthorised pistol, supplying a pistol to an unauthorised person and acquiring a pistol subject to a prohibition order. Zakaria's lawyer did not make a bail application and his client will appear again at Parramatta on Thursday.

Zakaria was arrested at Westmead, in Sydney's west, just before 10am on Wednesday by counter-terror police from Strike Force Peqin. The strike force was created to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr Cheng's murder outside the Parramatta police headquarters in October 2015.

News source: News.com.eu

A van has rammed into the Australian Christian Lobby office in Canberra before exploding, according to local media reports.  Lyle Shelton, the managing director of ACL tweeted an image of a burnt out van and confirmed that all staff were safe.  "All staff are safe. I do not know the condition of the driver. Prayers appreciated," he tweeted.
 
Mr Shelton added: "Shocked this could happen in Australia".  The explosion destroyed the van and blew out the building's windows, according to reports.

Read more: Telegraph (UK)

The Islamic State group, otherwise known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for inspiring the attack on a Christmas market in Berlin Tuesday afternoon, the day after a truck plowed through the German capital, killing at least 12 people and injuring at least 50 others. 

Attacks using trucks and motor vehicles weren’t the only deadly incidents likely inspired by terror groups in recent days. In just 48 hours, terrorism also occurred in Zurich, Jordan, Yemen and Turkey. Gunmen opened fire in Switzerland’s largest city while suicide bombers targeted soldiers in Yemen. 

While using vehicles for terror isn’t a new concept, the threat level of these internationally inspired attacks has certainly increased, especially during the 2016 holiday season. Though attacks inspired by ISIS and al Qaeda, among other groups, create unprecedented challenges for authorities, ones using trucks and motor vehicles could be more easily preventable. 

Read more: International Business Times

The Middle East regional chaos has weakened Israel's enemies and created a low probability of war involving the country in 2017, a senior Israeli military officer said on Wednesday.

The official said the army has concluded that neither Hezbollah militants in Lebanon nor Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip are interested in sparking a new conflict with Israel. Hezbollah is bogged down in the Syrian civil war and has sustained heavy losses, while Hamas is deterred and in crisis mode having lost much of its support from the outside, he added.

Still, he cautioned that an unexpected "dynamic of escalation" could always risk sparking a new conflict.

Read more: ABC News

Indonesian police said three suspected militants who were planning a holiday season suicide bombing were killed in a gunbattle Wednesday on the outskirts of Jakarta in the second imminent attack to be foiled in less than two weeks.

A residential neighborhood was evacuated after bombs were found in a house rented by the men. Police said they had found five low-explosive bombs made from potassium nitrate and defused three so far. Indonesia's TVOne reported numerous controlled explosions have occurred at the location.

The men planned to stage their attack on Christmas Day or New Year's Eve, said Jakarta police chief Mochamad Iriawan. They were to stab police officers in order to attract a crowd and then detonate bombs, he said.

Read more: AP