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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Sep 3, 2021

A conflict over the COVID-19 quarantine policy at a Vail Unified School District elementary school has been resolved shortly after protesters threatened to make a citizen's arrest on the principal Thursday morning.

According to VUSD officials, a student at Mesquite Elementary School was asked to quarantine after he reportedly was in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19.

VUSD said this decision was made per state policy, citing that when a school in Arizona experiences a positive case of COVID-19, it is required to report the case to its county health department - in Vail's case, Pima County Health Department. Then, the county decides which individuals need to quarantine in order to prevent a potential outbreak in the community.

However, after hearing the quarantine request, three individuals and the child involved drove over to the school in order to protest the decision. The three individuals were later identified as one of the child's parents, another community member and a local business owner, who live-streamed the confrontation over his business' Instagram account.

Read more: KVOA (Tuscon, AZ)

A militant fighter for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a foreign terrorist organization, pleaded guilty today to all charges that were pending against him in the United States relating to his participation in a brutal hostage-taking scheme that resulted in the deaths of four American citizens, as well as the deaths of British and Japanese nationals, in Syria.

According to court records, from in or around November 2012 through on or about Feb. 7, 2015, former British citizen Alexanda Amon Kotey, 37, served as an ISIS fighter and participated in the captivity of American and European hostages in Syria. Kotey specifically participated in the seizure, detention and hostage negotiations for four American citizens – James Wright Foley, Kayla Jean Mueller, Steven Joel Sotloff and Peter Edward Kassig – each of whom died as hostages in ISIS custody. In addition, Kotey participated in hostage operations involving British, Italian, Danish and German nationals, among others.

“This guilty plea ensures that Kotey will spend the rest of his life in prison for the horrific crimes he has committed,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Lesko for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “Although there remains much work to be done in this case, we hope today’s events provide some measure of justice for Kotey’s victims and their families as they continue to grieve the loss of their loved ones. I want to thank all of the agents, analysts and prosecutors who worked tirelessly on this investigation and prosecution – their efforts are proof that the National Security Division and our partners will not rest in our commitment to hold accountable terrorists who target and attack U.S. citizens anywhere in the world.”

Read more: Department of Justice

A federal criminal complaint has been filed charging Elias Nick Costianes, Jr., age 43, of Nottingham, Maryland, for the federal charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and for possession of firearms and ammunition by an unlawful user of any controlled substance.  The criminal complaint was filed on August 23, 2021, and unsealed today upon Costianes’s arrest.  Costianes had an initial appearance scheduled today in U.S. District Court in Baltimore before U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Mark Coulson. Costianes was released under the supervision of U.S. Pretrial Services.

The criminal complaint was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner and Special Agent in Charge Thomas J. Sobocinski of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office.

Read more: Department of Justice

New Zealand police have shot and killed an ISIS supporter who injured at least six people in a supermarket "terrorist attack" in the Auckland suburb of New Lynn on Friday, authorities say.

"This afternoon at approximately 2:40 p.m., a violent extremist undertook a terrorist attack," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a news conference Friday afternoon. "This was a violent attack, it was senseless, and I am so sorry it happened."

Ardern added that the man was a Sri Lankan national, a "supporter of ISIS ideology," and a "known security threat." He was under constant surveillance by multiple government agencies, and security personnel were able to shoot and kill him within 60 seconds from the start of the attack, she said.

The attacker obtained a knife within the store and used it to stab shoppers before police shot him, said New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, who described him as a lone actor. The man died at the scene.

Read more: CNN