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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Mar 16, 2021

A Pennsylvania man was charged today with obstructing an investigation into his efforts to acquire the deadly toxin, ricin.

Dr. Ishtiaq Ali Saaem, 37, of Allentown, Penn., was charged with one count of obstruction of justice.

According to the charging document, Saaem held a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, resided in Massachusetts and worked as the director of advanced research at a biotechnology firm based in Massachusetts. Saaem ordered 100 packets of castor beans, each containing eight seeds, online. Ricin is a poison that can be extracted from the seeds (i.e. beans) of the castor oil plant. It is alleged that Saaem falsely told law enforcement agents that he purchased castor beans for planting at his apartment for decoration and that he had accidentally purchased 100 packets instead of one. After he spoke to agents, Saaem allegedly researched tasteless poisons that could be made at home.

Read more: Department of Justice

Aid agency Save the Children says Islamist militants are beheading children as young as 11 in Mozambique's northern province of Cabo Delgado.

One mother told the agency she had had to watch as her 12-year-old son was killed in this way close to where she was hiding with her other children.

More than 2,500 people have been killed and 700,000 have fled their homes since an Islamist insurgency began in 2017.

The militants are linked to the Islamic State (IS) group.

Read more: BBC News

Two men have been arrested and charged for assaulting US Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after responding on January 6 to hundreds of rioters who stormed the Capitol, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Julian Elie Khater, 32, of Pennsylvania, and George Pierre Tanios, 39, of West Virginia, are alleged to have worked together to spray police, including Sicknick, with a toxic chemical spray during the Capitol riot. Khater called what was in the cannister "bear sh*t," according to court records, but the Justice Department on Monday said the spray is unknown.

Investigators had struggled for weeks to build a federal murder case in Sicknick's death as they pored over video and photographs to try to determine the moment in which he suffered his fatal injuries. Investigators determined that initial reports suggesting Sicknick had been struck with a fire extinguisher weren't true.

Read more: CNN

The FBI said Monday the Christmas Day bombing in downtown Nashville was motivated by the bomber's intention to kill himself and was not an act of terrorism.

After a wide-ranging investigation, the FBI said in a report that the bomber, Anthony Quinn Warner, acted alone "in an effort to end his own life." The FBI said Warner was motivated by several "life stressors" including "paranoia," "eccentric" beliefs and "deteriorating interpersonal relationships."

"Warner specifically chose the location and timing of the bombing so that it would be impactful, while still minimizing the likelihood of causing undue injury," the FBI said in a six-page news release.

Agents determined Warner did not intend "to bring about social or political change," an important factor in the decision not to label the bombing an act of terrorism. The FBI also said there was no indication Warner was specifically targeting any people or entities in the downtown corridor.

Read more: Tennessean

Several law enforcement agencies are investigating after multiple suspected 'incendiary devices' were found near a Baptist church and a government building in western North Carolina on Sunday.

Around 10:30 a.m., the officers with the Brevard Police Department were called out to the area of East Morgan Street and Gaston Street near the First Baptist Church of Brevard and the Transylvania County Community Services building.

On arrival, officers found "several small suspected incendiary devices that had not detonated," according to a news release from the police department. No injuries were reported from the incident.

Read more: ABC 11 (Raleigh)