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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Mar 9, 2021

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) says the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs to improve the BioWatch Program in order to prevent a significant loss of human life.

DHS’ Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction’s BioWatch is designed to operate a nationwide aerosol detection system. It was established in 2003 in response to the 2001 anthrax attacks. The system is intended to detect potential biological threat agents, identify the agent used, and share information with stakeholders, serving as an early warning system. But OIG found that BioWatch has information sharing challenges that reduce nationwide readiness to respond to biological terrorism threats.

BioWatch is not currently operating a nationwide early warning system. Its biological detection equipment is located in just 22 of 50 states (44 percent), which leaves 28 states without coverage. WHICH STATES? This occurred because BioWatch has not reassessed its strategic posture and designated locations needing coverage since 2003. Moreover, BioWatch equipment in 34 of 35 jurisdictions could not always collect air samples to test for biological threats because the equipment was not secured to prevent unplugging or security breaches.

Read more: Homeland Security Today

In the two months since an angry mob forced its way into the U.S. Capitol, agents in all but one of the FBI’s 56 field offices have been drafted to track down those who participated in the deadly insurrection.

Investigators who typically work cases involving the trafficking of drugs, child pornography and sex have taken calls from rioter’s angry ex-wives and former girlfriends and employers turned tipsters.

They’ve mined tens of thousands of photos and videos. They followed trails rioters left on social media bragging about being inside the Capitol, like the Florida man toting a rostrum or the New Hampshire man who snapped a selfie with a pilfered bottle of wine.

Read more: USA Today

A Michigan high school student accidentally detonated a homemade explosive device he brought to school Monday morning, injuring himself and four of his classmates, police said.

Officers from the Newaygo Police Department responded to Newaygo High School in west-central Michigan at 8:52 a.m. after a report of an explosion inside a classroom, state police said in a tweet. A preliminary investigation determined a 16-year-old student had accidentally detonated a homemade explosive device he brought to school, police said.

The device detonated inside a classroom, injuring the 16-year-old and four classmates sitting nearby. School administrators dialed 911, the school was immediately evacuated and students were transferred to the bus garage as emergency services arrived on scene, police said.

Read more: CNN

The Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill and the extent to which current or former service members participated it served as a wake-up call to the Defense Department, Pentagon officials have said. DoD has been, however, aware of the encroachment of domestic extremism in the ranks in recent years, and has made several reports to Congress examining both instances of extremism and how they can combat it.

A June report to the armed services committees, posted online March 2, paints a detailed picture of the military’s recruit background check process, including profiles of different extremist groups. It also includes seven recommendations to tighten up DoD’s policies.

Several of the suggestions involve working more closely with the FBI, which has been sounding the alarm about the dangers of domestic extremism.

Read more: Military Times

At least 31 people died in multiple explosions at a military base in the port city of Bata, in Equatorial Guinea, the Central African country's health ministry confirmed in a statement on social media Monday.

More than 400 were injured and many missing under the rubble, the ministry had said after the huge blasts on Sunday.

Resident Carmen Alebeso said the scenes resembled the detonation of an atomic bomb. Alebeso told CNN she was in her car when the first blast happened at around 2 p.m. local time on Sunday.

"It was a very big noise and everyone got out of their cars and we were all in shock. We saw the typical image of an atomic bomb in front of us. It was a confusing and desperate situation, people were shouting and crying," she said.

Read more: CNN