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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Oct 6, 2021

All Defense Department personnel are now subject to “continuous vetting” designed to spot extremists and other insider threats, with surveillance of their public social-media postings likely coming soon, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

The announcement follows years of effort to comply with a 2011 executive order to improve on the current security-clearance process, which features an initial investigation but generally no followup for five or more years. The new system will raise flags when new information arrives, such as when a DOD employee is arrested. 

It arrives as the department grapples with extremism among uniformed and civilian personnel. Conservatives have accused the Biden administration and senior U.S. military leaders of purging right-wing free speech. 

Read more: Defense One

Thomas Osadzinski was a DePaul University computer science student in June 2018 when he allegedly sent out a message in an online chat room seeking the recipe for a powerful explosive favored by terrorists and suicide bombers, according to federal prosecutors.

When someone in the chat room responded that he should be very careful, Osadzinski allegedly responded he “will be doing some studying.”

“You mean studying for school?” asked the person in the chat room, who unbeknownst to Osadzinski was a covert FBI agent.

Osadzinski allegedly replied, “For jihad,” followed by a heart emoji and a symbol associated with the Islamic State terrorist group.

That conversation three years ago will be a focal point for prosecutors as Osadzinski’s trial gets underway at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, where he faces charges of using the computer skills he was learning at DePaul to craft a first-of-its-kind code designed to spread violent terrorist propaganda online.

Read more: Chicago Tribune

Add U.S. military officials to the crescendo of voices warning Mali's interim government against brokering any deal to use mercenaries from Russia's Wagner Group to help with security and counterterrorism.

For weeks, U.S. and French officials have publicly tried to dissuade Malian leaders from moving forward with a reported deal that would pay Wagner $10.8 million a month for 1,000 mercenaries to train Mali's military and provide security for senior officials.

Now, the Pentagon says such a deal could cost Mali in multiple ways.

"Given the Wagner Group's record, if these reports are true, any role for Russian mercenaries in Mali will likely exacerbate an already fragile and unstable situation," U.S. Defense Department spokesperson Cindi King told VOA.

Read more: Voice of America

Arizona officially launched its cyber command center Monday to deal with threats to state and local government computers.

But the head of the state Department of Homeland Security, who will be running it, insists that Arizonans should not worry that the state will be using all that expensive high tech equipment to spy on them. In fact, Tim Roemer said that protecting the data on government computers actually will help protect individuals.

“They’re actually one in the same,” he told Capitol Media Services. That’s because Roemer said his agency is legally responsible for protecting the data that Arizonans are required to provide the state, such as tax information and driver’s license number.

Read more: Arizona Daily Star

The old music box factory had been abandoned for years on the outskirts of the Swiss mountain town, with paint curling at the edges of its dingy grey and yellow walls.

It was the perfect hiding place for the young French mother and her 8-year-old daughter at the heart of Operation Lima, an international child abduction plot planned and funded by a French group with echoes of the far-right extremist movement QAnon.

Lola Montemaggi had lost custody of her daughter, Mia, to her own mother months earlier because French government child protective services feared the young woman was unstable. Montemaggi found people online who shared the QAnon belief that government workers themselves were running a child trafficking ring. Then she turned to her network to do what she needed to do: Extract Mia.

Read more: AP