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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Sep 28, 2021

An Anne Arundel County judge on Tuesday sentenced the man who blasted his way into the Capital Gazette newsroom and killed five people to six life sentences, five without the possibility of parole, plus 345 years — all to be served consecutively.

Judge Michael Wachs handed down the sentence after hearing from survivors of the mass shooting and the family members of Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith and Wendi Winters, who died in the attack.

“To say the defendant showed a callous and cruel disregard for the sanctity of human life is simply an understatement,” Wachs said before announcing his sentence. “What I impose is what the defendant deserves.”

A jury in July found Jarrod Ramos, 41, was criminally responsible after a 12-day trial to determine whether he was sane at the time of the crime.

Read more: Capital Gazette

A federal appeals court Monday rejected a lawsuit alleging that Twitter, Google and Facebook should be held liable in the 2016 massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub after Islamic State social-media posts radicalized shooter Omar Mateen.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed by victims and estates of victims in the shooting that killed 49 people and wounded dozens of others at the LGBT club.

The ruling focused heavily on whether the plaintiffs had proven that Twitter, Google-owned YouTube and Facebook “aided and abetted” Mateen in violation of a federal law known as the Anti-Terrorism Act. The court’s 31-page ruling said the plaintiffs did not show that the attack was an act of international terrorism as defined under the law.

Read more: Orlando Weekly

Unidentified aircraft hit a base run by Iranian-backed militias in Syria's eastern province of Deir al Zor near the Iraqi border where Tehran has in the last year expanded its military presence, residents and military sources said on Monday.

They said the strikes were south of the town of Mayadeen along the Euphrates River which has become a major base for several Shi'ite militias, mostly from Iraq, since Islamic State militants were driven out nearly four years ago.

Iranian-backed militia fighters patrolling the streets were put on heightened alert and ambulances were seen rushing to the desert outskirts of the city after several explosions were heard, two residents said.

"Panicky militias were calling on pedestrians and cars to clear the city centre and main streets around it," Ahmad al Shawi, a resident told Reuters in a text message.

Read more: Reuters

The FBI reported a nearly 30% increase in murders in 2020, the largest single-year jump since the bureau began recording crime statistics six decades ago.

The surge in killings drove an overall 5% increase in violent crime last year, according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report.

Violence stalked most major cities, the report found, even as the coronavirus pandemic exacted its own deadly toll across the country.

The numbers appeared to closely track preliminary data released early this year by the FBI, which showed that murders had spiked by more than 20% in 2020.

Although the reported annual increase was dramatic, the total number of homicides last year – 21,570 – did not surpass some stunning totals in the early 1990s, including the nearly 25,000 murders recorded in 1991.

Read more: USA Today

In the nearly nine months since Jan. 6, federal agents have tracked down and arrested more than 600 people across the United States believed to have joined in the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Getting those cases swiftly to trial is turning out to be an even more difficult task.

Investigators have collected a mountain of evidence in the attack and are working to organize it and share it with defense attorneys. And that mountain keeps growing with new arrests still happening practically every week.

Washington's federal court, meanwhile, is clogged with Jan. 6 cases, which more than double the total number of new criminal cases filed there all of last year. Further complicating things are limitations the court has put on trials because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: US News & World Report