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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Sep 27, 2021

A Palo Alto woman has been charged with arson in connection with Shasta County’s Fawn fire that has destroyed 41 homes and 90 smaller structures and is threatening thousands more.

Alexandra Souverneva, a 30-year-old graduate of the California Institute of Technology and former Bay Area biotech employee, pleaded not guilty to the felony charges against her during a Friday arraignment in the county’s Superior Court. She could face up to nine years in state prison if convicted.

Facing a crowd of angry and displaced Shasta County residents at a community meeting on Saturday night, Shasta County Sheriff Michael L. Johnson said, “It is difficult to grasp when disaster like this is, apparently, not a natural disaster. But we have a suspect.”

Deliberate ignition, if proven, “makes it harder for us all to grasp as a community, and to deal with what we’re facing,” he said.

Read more: Bakersfield Californian

A power vacuum in the QAnon Telegram community is being exploited by extremists and conspiracists, according to a new report from the ADL.  

GhostEzra is one of the most popular QAnon channels on Telegram. From January through August, the account amassed over 300,000 followers and posted a wide spectrum of COVID-19 conspiracies and antsemitic memes; published the personal information of Jewish executives and CEOs; and often encouraged violence. In August, data firm Logically.AI connected the GhostEzra persona to Robert Randall Smart of Boca Raton, Florida. 

Although Smart now updates infrequently, the channel remains one of the largest QAnon forums on the network. Posts generate hundreds, sometimes thousands, of comments. 

"GhostEzra is easily the biggest pro-Hitler voice on Telegram and the single largest QAnon influencer on the platform," said Aryeh Tuchman, a senior researcher at the ADL's Center on Extremism. "Telegram has become a preferred platform for QAnon because it allows QAnon leaders to create channels which they directly control, with little fear of moderation from platform administrators."

Read more: CBS News

Six months after Kevin Omar Mohamed‘s prison sentence for terrorism came to an end, the RCMP’s Toronto O-INSET national security team decided to check up on him.

What they found set off alarms.

Not only was he violating his probation by using a smartphone, he’d downloaded al-Qaeda literature, manuals on bombs and poisons, and a tract justifying the killing of women and children, according to allegations filed in court.

He was also seen meeting with Daniel Khoshnood, another former inmate who had a history of violence and whose phone contained more than 200 Taliban, ISIS and al-Qaeda videos, as well as bomb-making guides, according to the allegations.

Both were arrested as potential national security threats.

Little was disclosed at the time, but details of the police investigations into Mohamed and Khoshnood were recently released by the Ontario court following a request by Global News.

Read more: Global News (Canada)

Nine men were arrested in Eindhoven [NL] on Thursday [Sep. 23] under suspicion of preparing to commit a terrorist act, and training to perpetrate the crime. The nine suspects allegedly sympathize with the jihadist principles of ISIS.

The men in custody are 18 to 31 years of age. "The suspects have Dutch nationality. Eight of them were born in the Netherlands, one of them was born in Afghanistan".

"They are also suspected of participating in a terrorist organization." No weapons or explosives were found after a search of the suspects' homes, but several data devices were seized by authorities.

Read more: The Netherlands Times

A public building in Kosovo was set on fire and another was hit by grenades that did not explode in what government officials described Saturday as criminal acts related to ethnic Serbs protesting a symbolic move on license plates.

Serbian media quoted the head of the Zubin Potok fire department, Sasa Bozovic, as saying a fire that broke out overnight at the town's municipal building engulfed two offices.

The Kosovo Interior Ministry said the blaze burned down a vehicle registration office. It was done “by suspects in a criminal act with terrorist elements,” Interior Minister Xhelal Svecla wrote on Facebook.

Ethnic Kosovo Serbs have blocked the Kosovo-Serbia border with trucks since Monday, angry that Kosovo sent in special police to match Serbia in a license plate move that heightens tensions in the Balkans. Kosovo now removes license plates from cars entering the country from Serbia, as Serbia does with Kosovo plates. They both force drivers to buy temporary plates.

Read more: ABC News