Skip Navigation

Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Dec 6, 2016

Christopher Cornell, 22, pleaded guilty in August to attempted murder of U.S. officials and employees, offering material support to a terrorist organization and a firearms charge. A fourth charge, solicitation to commit a crime of violence, was dropped.

Cornell appeared in federal court on Monday and was sentenced to 30 years in prison and lifetime supervised release for plotting, planning and attempting an attack on government officials during the State of the Union Address in 2015 in the name of ISIL.

After Senior U.S. District Judge Sandra Beckwith handed down the sentence, Cornell spoke out in court saying, "Don't trust the court system; it's rigged."  Federal security led him quickly from the courtroom.  Cornell added either "The law is in charge" or "Allah is in charge, not this judge."

Read more: WLWT (Cincinnati)

The Assyrian Christians were seized from the Khabur River valley in northern Syria, among the last holdouts of a dwindling minority that had been chased across the Mideast for generations. They trace their heritage to the earliest days of Christianity, their Church of the East founded by the apostle known as Doubting Thomas. To this day, they speak a dialect of Aramaic, believed to be the native language of Jesus. But most also speak Arabic and some Kurdish, the languages of the neighbors who have long outnumbered them.

In a single night of horror on Feb. 23, 2015, IS fighters attacked the Christian towns simultaneously, sweeping up scores of people and sending everyone from 35 towns and villages fleeing for their lives.

But while no government appeared to stop the fundraising, the Assyrians say no country stepped in to free the Khabur captives either. Governments are reluctant to discuss the issue at all, and none openly acknowledges paying or advocating others to pay ransoms. But in June 2015, four months after the Khabur Christians were seized, the Obama administration said families would not be prosecuted for trying to free their loved ones.

Read more: AP

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube are joining forces to more quickly identify the worst terrorist propaganda and prevent it from spreading online.  The new program announced Monday would create a database of unique digital "fingerprints" to help automatically identify videos or images the companies could remove.

The move by the technology companies, which is expected to begin in early 2017, aims to assuage government concerns — and derail proposed new federal legislation — over social media content that is seen as increasingly driving terrorist recruitment and radicalization, while also balancing free-speech issues.

Technical details were being worked out, but Microsoft pioneered similar technology to detect, report and remove child pornography through such a database in 2009. Unlike those images, which are plainly illegal under U.S. law, questions about whether an image or video promotes terrorism can be more subjective, depending on national laws and the rules of a particular company's service.

Read more: ABC News

A military spokesman says a dozen armed men on motorcycles have attacked a prison in central Mali, freeing prisoners and leaving at least one person dead. Col. Souleymane Maiga says the attack late Monday took place near the town of Niono in the Segou region. A guard was killed and an unknown number of prisoners fled.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but it bore similarities to other attacks launched by al-Qaida-linked jihadists in the region. The attack comes a month after a similar assault on the town of Banamba, where detainees were freed when extremists attacked the prison.

Jihadists have long operated in northern Mali and have been increasingly active farther south over the past year.

News source: New York Times

The first former child soldier to appear at the International Criminal Court has pleaded not guilty and told judges he was a victim too.

Lords Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen said the LRA was responsible and he had also suffered from the atrocities. Ongwen, now in his early 40s, was a boy when he was abducted by the notoriously ruthless rebel cult. He faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Uganda.

Mr Ongwen is accused of leading attacks on four camps for internally displaced people in northern Uganda, murdering and torturing civilians, and forcing women into marriage and children to take part in the fighting. 

Read more: BBC News