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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Sep 13, 2021

Two Florida middle schoolers with an apparent interest in the Columbine High School massacre were allegedly plotting to carry out a school shooting of their own until a teacher was tipped off about a possible concealed weapon, authorities said.

The teacher at Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, near Fort Myers, alerted school administrators and a school resource officer about the tip from students Wednesday, authorities said. A search of an eighth grader's backpack did not turn up a gun, but administrators allegedly found a map that "contains markings indicating the location of each of the school's interior cameras," Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said during a press briefing Thursday afternoon.

An investigation by the office's youth services criminal investigations division ultimately identified two students -- a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old -- "involved in a plot to carry out a school shooting," Marceno said.

Read more: ABC News

Leaders of the state commission formed to investigate Virginia Beach’s 2019 mass shooting hope to address any “gaps” that may be identified in other probes into the tragedy when they issue their final report sometime next year.

The group had its first in-person meeting on Thursday at the Virginia Beach Law Enforcement Training Academy, nearly a year and a half after the governor signed off on the commission’s creation.

For the majority of the meeting, the commission heard or discussed input from victims and victims’ family members who say they still have unanswered questions.

It was a group of family members that pushed two Virginia Beach state delegates to get the state investigation funded. They expressed doubt about the thoroughness of the independent investigation conducted by Hillard Heintze and the report by the Virginia Beach Police Department.

Read more: WAVY

An academic conference in the US addressing Hindu nationalism is being targeted by rightwing Hindu groups, which have sent death threats to participants and forced several scholars to withdraw.

The conference, titled Dismantling Global Hindutva, which is co-sponsored by more than 53 universities including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, and Rutgers, has come under attack after several groups in India and the US accused the event of being “anti-Hindu”.

The aim of the conference, which will begin online on 10 September, is to bring together scholars to discuss Hindutva, otherwise known as Hindu nationalism, a rightwing movement that believes India should be an ethnic Hindu state, rather than a secular nation.

Read more: The Guardian (UK)

Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri appeared in a video marking the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, months after rumors spread that he was dead.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist websites, said the video was released Saturday. In it, al-Zawahri said that "Jerusalem Will Never be Judaized" and praised al-Qaida attacks, including one that targeted Russian troops in Syria in January.

SITE said al-Zawahri also noted the U.S. military's withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war. It added that his comments do not necessarily indicate a recent recording, because the withdrawal agreement with the Taliban was signed in February 2020.

Al-Zawahri made no mention of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan and the capital, Kabul, last month, SITE added. But he did mention a Jan. 1, attack that targeted Russian troops on the edge of the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. 

Read more: USA Today

Abimael Guzmán, the mastermind of the Shining Path terrorist organization in Peru, a brutal Maoist movement that nearly toppled the country’s government in the 1980s and early 1990s, leaving thousands of people dead, died Sept. 11 in a hospital at a military prison outside Lima. He was 86.

Peru’s justice minister, Aníbal Torres, announced the death, saying the cause was an infection.

Mr. Guzmán, a onetime philosophy professor and longtime Communist Party member, traveled to China in the 1960s and became a devotee of Mao Zedong and the Cultural Revolution, a repressive movement meant to reorder Chinese society.

Calling himself “President Gonzalo,” Mr. Guzmán devised a set of principles based on Maoist thought as the guiding ideals of the Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, a term derived from an earlier leader of Peru’s Communist Party.

Read more: Washington Post