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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Nov 4, 2021

A senior Department of Homeland Security official told Congress on Wednesday that the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6 has prompted changes in how the government analyzes threat information, particularly online public statements, and that intelligence and law enforcement agencies must be more visibly proactive when they detect looming danger.

John Cohen, who oversees intelligence analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, made the comments at a House Intelligence subcommittee hearing about domestic terrorism. “We need to think differently about intelligence. This threat requires we think differently about how we look at information,” he said of homegrown extremism, noting that pre-attack indicators may be observable through individuals’ public communications. “Covert collection may often not be necessary to capture valuable intelligence, but analysts need to be able to distinguish . . . between constitutionally protected speech and threat-related activity.”

The Washington Post reported this week that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies received repeated, stark warnings of online, public discussions about committing violence in Congress on Jan. 6. But the government often decided such statements were protected by the First Amendment and declined to pursue the tips further, The Post investigation found.

Read more: Washington Post

Syrian rebels say they are standing by to join a new offensive threatened by Turkey against Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria, as Ankara eyes another campaign against a group it views as a threat to national security.

Turkey has mounted three offensives into Syria since 2016 against the YPG, which Ankara deems an enemy due to its close links to a Kurdish group that has been fighting an insurgency in Turkey for decades.

Tensions have spiked since two Turkish policemen were killed a month ago in a missile attack in northern Syria that Turkey said was carried out by the YPG. President Tayyip Erdogan said the attack was "the final straw", though Ankara has given no indication an operation is imminent.

Rebel sources say Turkey recently sent military supplies to its Syrian allies as part of preparations for possible action, and rebel fighters have been redeployed towards areas that are expected to be targeted in any new attack.

Read more: Reuters

The mother of one of the 2015 Bataclan concert hall attackers is facing trial in Paris, accused of "financing terrorism".

Fatima Hajji, 53, is charged with sending €13,000 to her son and his partner while they were in Iraq and Syria, between 2014 and 2015.

She was due to appear before the Paris Criminal Court on Thursday but the case has now been adjourned to March 2022 to give her more time to prepare her defence.

Hajji's son -- Foued Mohamed Aggad -- was one of three suicide bombers who stormed the Paris theatre during the November 2015 terror attacks.

His partner Hajira Belkhir -- who is presumed dead -- is also being prosecuted for "terrorist criminal association".

Read more: Euronews

Toledo police detectives and the city's Fire Investigation Unit are inspecting a fire that broke out Sunday night at an abortion clinic.

Just after 10 p.m. firefighters responded to reported flames on an electrical box outside the Capital Care of Toledo Ohio on West Sylvania Avenue.

They put out the flames after a Toledo Edison crew deenergized the building's wiring.

Investigators found evidence of an accelerant and ruled the incident as aggravated arson.

No one was injured and detectives have yet to name any suspects.

Read more: NBC 24 (Toledo, OH)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) SIGMA+ program, in collaboration with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), recently concluded a three-month-long pilot study with new sensors intended to support early detection and interdictions of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats. The pilot involved integrating highly sensitive chemical, biological, radiological/nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) sensors into several IMPD vehicles and gathering real-world environmental background data over a large part of the Indianapolis metropolitan region, building on a smaller event conducted in Indianapolis in August 2020.

During the pilot study, two week-long exercises took place that supplemented the August 2020 event. The environmental data collected during the exercise are being used to map the naturally occurring chemical and biological backgrounds found in the Indianapolis urban area that result from businesses, industries, and environmental patterns. The data, in turn, are supporting the development of both sensors and algorithms that minimize false positives and maximize detections of anomalies that may be associated with threat activities. During the Indianapolis pilot study, nuisance alarms were able to be suppressed by 75%.

Read more: Homeland Security Today