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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: May 19, 2021

Special Belgian police units are searching for a heavily armed soldier with far-right views who they believe poses a serious threat.

The suspect has been named as Jurgen Conings, a shooting instructor who took weapons from a barracks.

He is said to have made threats in the past against virologist Marc Van Ranst, who led Belgium's public health response to coronavirus.

Mr Van Ranst and his family have been taken to a safe place.

Questions are now being asked why a known far-right sympathiser was allowed access to military weapons. Reports said he had taken the arms from the base at Leopoldsburg on the pretext of organising target practice.

Read more: BBC News

Three of the 40 prisoners still at the Guantanamo Bay US military prison have been approved for release, a lawyer for one said Tuesday, the first such approvals under the administration of President Joe Biden.

The three included Pakistani Saifullah Paracha, who at 73 is the oldest of those still held, nearly two decades after the United States detained hundreds of suspects in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The others approved for release were Abdul Rabbani, 54, also from Pakistan, and Yemen native Uthman Abdul al-Rahim Uthman, 40.

Read more: AFP

Jesus Santrich, one of the most prominent leaders of a group of Colombia's former FARC rebels who reject a 2016 peace accord, has been killed in Venezuela in an operation by Colombia's military, former FARC dissidents said late on Tuesday.

Santrich was traveling by a truck in Venezuela when it was attacked by Colombian commandos the dissident group, which calls itself the Segunda Marquetalia, said in a statement.

Santrich, who initially backed the 2016 peace deal, was wanted by the United States on drug trafficking charges and had long been thought to be based in Venezuela.

"The truck carrying the commander (Santrich) was attacked with rifle fire and grenades," the statement said, adding that the Colombian commandos left in a helicopter following the attack.

Read more: Reuters

Sunday marked the deadliest day in the violence between Israel and Palestine over the last week after Israel bombed the house of Hamas’ Gaza leader as Hamas launched more than 100 rockets toward Israel. The death toll after the latest casualties is now 197 in Gaza, and 10 Israelis killed by rockets fired from Gaza.

“Millions of Israelis are under threat of rockets from Hamas,” said Elad Strohmayer, spokesperson for the Embassy of Israel. “More than 500 Israelis were injured, more than 3,200 rockets were fired indiscriminately by Hamas.”

Israel’s airstrikes have leveled a number of Gaza’s buildings, including the building housing the Associated Press office in Gaza, which Israel says contained Hamas military infrastructure.

“We're determined to take down the terrorist infrastructure of Hamas, to make sure that peace is restored and calm is restored and safety is restored for the Israeli people,” said Strohmayer to The National Desk’s Jan Jeffcoat. “And by the way, not just for the Israeli people, but the people of Gaza.”

Read more: WJLA

Damon M. Joseph, aka Abdullah Ali Yusuf, 23, of Holland, Ohio, pleaded guilty today to attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, aka ISIS, and attempting to commit a hate crime, for planning an attack on a synagogue in the Toledo, Ohio area.

“Damon Joseph was inspired by ISIS’ call to violence and hate," said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. "He planned to target innocents at a Toledo-area synagogue based on their religion and hoping that it would lead to the deaths of many and spread fear. His actions would have been an assault on the liberties and respect for humanity we hold so dear. We will continue to make every effort to prevent such attacks from occurring. I commend the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who identified the threat posed by this defendant and took action to protect the public from his plans.”

“The defendant’s attempt to cause significant harm to members of the Toledo, Ohio, Jewish community constitutes both a federal hate crime and an act of domestic terrorism,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute individuals who use violence to attack our religious communities.”

Read more: Department of Justice