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Homeland Security News

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

A Portland man was sentenced to federal prison on Wednesday for committing arson at the Multnomah County Justice Center during a protest in May 2020.

Edward Thomas Schinzing, 33, was sentenced to more than a year in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, on May 29, 2020, Schinzing marched with a group of protesters to the Multnomah County Justice Center. When the group arrived, several people broke windows and entered the building.

Schinzing was among those who entered the building and spray-painted portions of the office; damaged computers and other office equipment, furniture, and interior windows; and started fires.

Read more: KPTV (Oregon)

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) published a cybersecurity advisory today to highlight precautions and mitigation steps that public and private sector organizations can take to reduce their risk to ransomware and other cyber attacks, specifically leading up to holidays and weekends. This advisory is based on observations on the timing of high impact ransomware attacks that have occurred previously rather than a reaction to specific threat reporting.

CISA and the FBI outline in the advisory network defense practices that can be taken to manage the risk posed by all cyber threats, including ransomware. One recommended action is for organizations with necessary capabilities to engage in preemptive threat hunting on their networks to search for signs of threat actors. For organizations unfamiliar with this best practice, the advisory provides basic elements to threat hunting and explains the benefits of a proactive strategy. The advisory also contains recommendations for fundamental best practices that should be adopted by all organizations, including implementing multi-factor authentication for remote access and administrative accounts.

Read more: Homeland Security Today

The Justice Department on Wednesday secured its 50th guilty plea in the January 6 insurrection, a key milestone as it nears its 600th arrest in the massive investigation.

In the eight months since the attack on the US Capitol, the investigation has ballooned into a nationwide manhunt for the Trump supporters and right-wing extremists who stormed the building and grounds, assaulted dozens of police officers and temporarily halted the certification of President Joe Biden's victory.

Nearly 600 people from 44 states and Washington, DC, have been charged in federal court, according to CNN's latest tally, with authorities announcing new arrests on a near-daily basis.

Read more: CNN

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials are reportedly concerned that far-right extremist groups inspired by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan could carry out violent attacks in the U.S.

John Cohen, the head of the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis, said on a call with local and state law enforcement officials Friday that white supremacist and other violent extremist groups have been "framing the activities of the Taliban as a success," according to CNN, which obtained the conversation. 

Cohen also reportedly noted that the groups have held discussions on the "great replacement concept," the belief that an influx of Afghan refugees or other immigrants could threaten the standing and power of white Americans. 

Read more: The Hill

A British-born man who was a member of a team of Islamic State militants in Syria nicknamed "The Beatles" accused of beheading American hostages was due to plead guilty on Thursday to U.S. criminal charges, according to a federal court record.

A docket entry for the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, showed a change of plea hearing was scheduled on Thursday for Alexanda Kotey, one of two Islamic State members who had been held in Iraq by the U.S. military before being flown to the United States to face trial on terrorism charges.

Court records show Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, a Sudanese-born British resident extradited to the United States with Kotey, face charges that include hostage-taking resulting in death and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.

Kotey and Elsheikh were citizens of the United Kingdom, but the British government withdrew their citizenship. They are alleged to have belonged to a four-member Islamic State cell nicknamed "The Beatles" because of their British accents.

Read more: Reuters