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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Nov 12, 2021

Arson investigators with the Austin Fire Department arrested a man Wednesday who is accused of intentionally setting fire to an Austin synagogue on Halloween night.

Franklin Barrett Sechriest, 18, is suspected of using an accelerant near the sanctuary doors of Congregation Beth Israel to ignite the flames, causing an estimated $25,000 in damage, according to AFD. Texas State University on Thursday confirmed to KXAN Sechriest is one of its students.

“We will continue to assist the FBI and Austin Fire Department in the ongoing investigation that led to the arrest of Texas State University student Franklin Barrett Sechriest for the arson attack that damaged the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Austin on Oct. 31,” Texas State said in a statement.

The university went on to say it “decries this hateful act of bigotry and violence and all the antisemitic events perpetrated recently in Austin, San Antonio, and San Marcos.”

Read more: KXAN

Written materials allegedly found by police following the June killing of a Muslim family in London, Ont., indicate the alleged attacker was influenced by the gunman who took 51 lives at two New Zealand mosques in 2019.

Multiple sources familiar with the investigation confirmed to Global News that a large volume of ideological writings, some allegedly penned by the suspect himself, were seized during the investigation into the vehicle attack that left four dead.

The written materials, which sources said were found in Nathaniel Veltman’s truck, home and computer, allegedly showed he was a follower of Brenton Tarrant, who opened fire on worshippers in Christchurch two years ago.

It would be the latest attack linked to New Zealand’s worst mass murderer. A subsequent shooting in 2019 that killed 23 at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, was also among those linked to the New Zealand attacks.

Read more: Global News (Canada)

A former mixed martial artist filmed punching a police officer during the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol received a 41-month prison sentence on Wednesday, the stiffest punishment yet in the almost 700 criminal cases stemming from the siege.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth cited the seriousness of New Jersey gym owner Scott Fairlamb's conduct when he sentenced him. Fairlamb was captured screaming at officers by their body-worn cameras before shoving one and then punching him in the face and pleaded guilty in August.

"Had you gone to trial, I don't think there's any jury that could have acquitted you," the judge told Fairlamb.

Fairlamb was the first rioter sentenced for violence against police during the attack. Lamberth noted that his sentence will be a benchmark for the more than 120 defendants charged with attacking police during the Capitol assault by thousands of Donald Trump supporters trying to overturn his election defeat.

Read more: Reuters

Domestic extremists continue to exploit false narratives to promote violence online, calling for attacks on members of Congress and public health and school officials, even as they share information about how to build bombs, according to a new intelligence bulletin by the Department of Homeland Security that paints a picture of persistent danger.

The new National Terrorism Advisory System bulletin, released Wednesday afternoon, replaces an existing bulletin published in August, which said "ethnically motivated violent extremists and anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists will remain a national threat priority for the United States."

The new document includes a lot of the same language. But it speaks to some new developments, including the exploitation of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan by both foreign terrorists and domestic racists.

Foreign Islamic extremists "have sought to use events related to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to inspire potential followers to conduct attacks in the U.S.," the document said, and domestic extremists have sought to capitalize on concerns about the resettlement of Afghan refugees inside the U.S.

Read more: NBC News

Colombian authorities arrested a Russian national who was the subject of an Interpol notice for belonging to several terrorist groups in Syria dating back to 2013, including the Islamic State terror organization.

Vladimir Taranets, alias “Ali Ali,” was detained at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport.

“Colombia’s National Police, through the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol, in coordination with the Attorney General’s Office, detained for purposes of extradition Russian citizen Vladimir Taranets, known as ‘Ali Ali,’ at the El Dorado International Airport in Bogota,” that police force said Friday in a statement.

The suspect had been attempting to fly from Turkey to Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport via Bogota.

Russia accuses Taranets of being a “member of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group” and has an Interpol Red Notice that was issued against him by a Russian court, the statement read.

He also allegedly was a member of a cell of the jihadist group Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, which “carries out terrorist activities” in Iraq and “committed violent acts of sabotage that killed civilians” in Syria, the National Police said.

Read more: La Prensa Latina