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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Aug 2, 2021

An attack on an oil tanker linked to an Israeli billionaire killed two crew members off Oman in the Arabian Sea, authorities said Friday, marking the first fatalities after years of assaults targeting shipping in the region.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the Thursday night raid on the Liberian-flagged tanker Mercer Street. However, a U.S. official said it appears a so-called suicide drone was used in the attack, raising the possibility that a government or a militia group was behind it. An Israeli security official alleged, without providing evidence, that an Iranian drone had attacked the ship.

The U.S. Navy rushed to the scene following the attack and was escorting the tanker to a safe harbor, a London-based ship management company said Friday.

The assault represented the worst-known maritime violence so far in regional attacks on shipping since 2019. The U.S., Israel and others have blamed the attacks on Iran amid the unraveling of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Iran now appears poised to take an even tougher approach with the West as the country prepares to inaugurate a hard-line protégé of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as president next week.

Read more: AP

Russian hackers behind the massive SolarWinds cyber-espionage campaign broke into the email accounts of some of the most prominent US federal prosecutors’ offices last year, the Department of Justice has said.

The department said 80% of Microsoft email accounts used by employees in the four US attorney offices in New York were breached. All told, the DoJ said 27 US attorney offices had at least one employee email account compromised.

The justice department said on Friday it believes the accounts were compromised from 7 May to 27 December last year. That timeframe is notable because the SolarWinds attack, named for the company which made the affected product and which infiltrated dozens of companies and think tanks as well as at least nine government agencies, was discovered and publicized in mid-December.

Read more: The Guardian (UK)

An explosive planted on a bus carrying soccer players in Somalia's port city of Kismayo killed at least five players, a police officer said on Friday.

"We have confirmed five deaths and more than 12 injuries and we still have some players missing," Captain Ahmed Farah told Reuters by telephone from Kismayo.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack on Friday evening.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's office on its twitter account the president had sent condolences and put the blame on al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents for the explosion.

Read more: Reuters

The security situation in Herat City has deteriorated over the past several days, and the city is in danger of falling to the Taliban.

The Taliban is fighting inside Herat City, has seized control of a key district, and has taken control of the road that connects the provincial capital with the airport.

On July 30, the Taliban retook control of “the strategic Karakh district,” which is east of the city, Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary reported. The Taliban previously seized control of Karakh on July 8. The government retook control on July 23 and held it for one week.

If the Taliban is able to maintain control of the road to Herat International Airport to the airport and lay siege to it, the Afghan military will have a difficult time maintaining control of Herat City. The airport is a key lifeline for Herat City, as the Taliban controls nearly all of the districts in the province, and thus the roads to the city highly contested.

Read more: Longwar Journal

Madagascar has arrested 21 more suspects, including 12 military personnel, in connection with a plot to kill President Andry Rajoelina and topple the government, a senior prosecutor said.

Six people, one of them a French citizen, were arrested last month on suspicion of involvement in the plot, following what officials described as a months-long investigation in the Indian Ocean island. 

The military personnel who were arrested include five generals from the army and the gendarmerie and two captains and five non-commissioned officers, Berthine Razafiarivony, of the Antananarivo court of appeal, said late on Sunday.

Madagascar has a history of political violence. Rajoelina first seized power in the deeply impoverished former French colony of 26 million in a March 2009 coup, ousting Marc Ravalomanana.

Read more: Reuters