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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Aug 21, 2020

More evidence has surfaced to indicate the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) is using drones armed with C4 explosives to attack its enemies.

A citizens' militia group in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán, reports finding two drones inside an armored car that cartel hitmen had abandoned after an attempted raid on the city, which borders Jalisco, on July 25.

The C4 was packed with ball bearings to serve as shrapnel in Tupperware-like containers that were equipped with a remote detonation system and duct-taped to the drones, militia members explained. The drones were found in a cardboard box that was soaked in blood, indicating to the militia members that whoever was intending to fly the drones was injured before they could be launched.

Read more: Business Insider

The Trump administration has informed the UK that it will not seek the death penalty for two of the high-profile ISIS members known as "the Beatles," in an effort to convince Britain to provide critical evidence that can be used to prosecute the operatives in US courts.

"On behalf of the US Department of Justice, I am writing to provide an assurance that if the United Kingdom grants our mutual legal assistance request, the United States will not seek the death penalty in any prosecutions it might bring against Alexanda Kotey or El Shafee Elsheikh, and if imposed, the death penalty will not be carried out," Attorney General William Barr wrote in a letter to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Read more: CNN

The US Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to review an appellate court decision to vacate the death sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who along with his brother planted homemade bombs near the finish of the 2013 Boston Marathon, killing three spectators and injuring hundreds.

"Our hope is that this will result in reinstatement of the original sentence and avoid a retrial of the death penalty phase," US Attorney Andrew Lelling said in a statement Thursday.

Describing Tsarnaev as a "ideologically driven mass killer," Lelling argued that the severity of his crimes puts him "in that narrow category of criminals for whom death is a proportional punishment."

"Some have argued that executing Tsarnaev will not deter others from pursuing similar crimes. But, ultimately, this decision is not about deterrence. It is about justice."

Read more: CNN

United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Gaafar Muhammed Ebrahim Al-Wazer, 25, of Altoona, PA, was charged by Indictment with three counts of making false statements to Task Force Officers with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Philadelphia Joint Terrorism Task Force. The defendant was previously arrested at his home in Altoona on November 7, 2019, pursuant to a Criminal Complaint, and has been detained since then, following a finding by U.S. Magistrate Judge Marilyn Heffley that he presented a risk of flight and danger to the community.

According to the Indictment and Criminal Complaint, FBI counterterrorism investigators questioned Al-Wazer, a Yemeni citizen, on May 17, 2016 about his affiliation with the Houthi movement, known formally as Ansar Allah. Ansar Allah is the armed rebel group that toppled Yemen’s government and has fought in an ongoing civil war there for years. Al-Wazer allegedly denied to the FBI that he was aligned with the Houthi movement, whose motto is “Allah is the greatest of all, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse upon the Jews, Victory to Islam,” and further denied that he had ever fired a weapon or participated in military or militia training.

Read more: Department of Justice

The letter next to the fake copy machine at Harvey’s Resort Hotel on Aug. 26, 1980, started with a warning.

“Do not move or tilt this bomb, because the mechanism controlling the detonators in it will set it off at a movement of less than .01 of the open end Ricter scale.”

A bomb threat in Tahoe’s casino district was not unchartered territory in 1980. The marriage of money, booze, hope and loss would occasionally birth a third-rate extortion attempt that almost always ended with the discovery of a fake device or no bomb at all. But investigators would soon learn the 1,200-pound device on the second floor of Harvey’s — where about 600 people were staying ahead of Labor Day weekend — was anything but third-rate.

Read more: The Record-Courier