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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Feb 18, 2021

The rise of social media has allowed for easier dissemination of conspiracy theories, according to a recent report released by the Global Network on Extremism & Technology (GNET).

Author Daniel Allington elaborates on how the world’s largest social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have played a role in radicalization and terrorism through the accessibility to misinformation and “politically corrosive” media. Not only are conspiracy theories more accessible, but there is now evidence that links the content on these popular online platforms to violent and extremist acts.

The report investigates whether unfiltered and unconstrained misinformation produces an environment in which individuals feel they can pursue violent or extremist action in order to serve their political agenda. Allington found that this is in fact the case. Highlighting not only the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by insurrectionists but previous accounts of domestic terrorism fueled by extremists, he reveals a common thread in the radicalization process: online conspiracy theories. These theories have historically played a key role in acts of terrorism, genocide, and radicalization.

Read more: Homeland Security Today

France's National Assembly approved Tuesday a law to fight Islamist extremism and separatism in an attempt to tackle the root causes of jihadist violence – in response to a wave of attacks that has seen more than 250 people murdered since 2015.

The text would significantly expand the government's powers to close religious organisations and places of worship if they are found to air "theories or ideas" that "provoke hate or violence".

The legislation offers protection to moderate community leaders who are in danger of being toppled by an extremist "putsch". It will also require all associations to commit in writing to uphold "republican values" – the liberal, Enlightenment values France holds dear – if they want to receive state subsidies.

Read more: France 24

French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist government launched procedures to shut down the group Generation Identity on February 13 as it attempts to tackle far-right extremism.

The National Assembly approved on February 16 a bill to fight Islamist extremism and separatism in an attempt to tackle the root causes of jihadist violence – in response to a wave of attacks that has seen more than 250 people murdered since 2015.

But Macron’s centrist government is also worried about the far-right – especially seeing as a poll by magazine L’Express and daily Le Parisien in January put populist National Rally leader Marine Le Pen at 48 percent compared to 52 percent for Macron in the 2022 presidential election race.

Read more: France 24

A letter or parcel bomb exploded in an administrative building in the German town of Neckarsulm, north of Stuttgart. Three people were hurt; police are looking into a possible link with a similar case nearby this week.

A total of three people were injured in an explosion in a office building belonging to German discount supermarket chain Lidl in Neckarsulm, a town in southwest Germany, on Wednesday.

The explosion was caused by a bomb in either a letter or a small parcel, a spokesman for the local police force in nearby Heilbronn told DW.

Around 100 people were cleared as police evacuated the building following the explosion.

Read more: Deutsche Welle

Three New Zealanders, including a woman alleged to be a member of Islamic State, have been caught trying to enter Turkey illegally from Syria, according to Turkish authorities.

The New Zealand nationals were caught by border guards in the Reyhanli district in the southern province of Hatay, bordering war-torn Syria, Turkey’s ministry of defence said on its official Twitter account.

“Three New Zealand nationals trying to enter our country illegally from Syria were caught by our border guards,” it said.

A 26-year-old woman named ‘S A’ “was identified as a DAESH (Islamic State) terrorist wanted with a ‘blue notice’,” the tweet said.

Read more: The Guardian (UK)