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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Keyword: policy support

FBI Baltimore announced Wednesday it is launching an awareness campaign to bring attention to hate crimes, which are historically underreported.

The awareness campaign will consist of digital billboards, flyers, and ads on buses, social media and radio throughout Maryland and Delaware. The bureau has seen an increase in reported hate crimes in recent , but said it wants more victims of hate crimes to report.

The FBI defines hate crimes as criminal acts motivated by the offender’s bias against characteristics like race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.

“Over the last five years, there’s been a 25 percent increase in reported hate crimes, even still, the vast majority of these crimes are going underreported and that needs to change. The FBI can help, but only if we know about the crime. That’s why we are spreading the word with this campaign,” said Thomas J. Sobocinski, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Baltimore Field Office. “Violent acts motivated by hate have no place in our society. Every person has the right to live without fear of violence or intimidation and we will continue to hold those accountable whose hate-filled aggression violates the civil rights of another individual.”

Read more: WJZ

The federal judge in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person ever put on trial in the U.S. in the 9/11 attacks, said Thursday that the trial proved that civilian courts can successfully handle terrorism cases, despite the abundant challenges.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema presided over the lengthy trial in Alexandria, Virginia. The courthouse is near the Pentagon, which was one of the three targets hit by terrorist hijackers 20 years ago this week. She made rare public comments about the trial during a panel discussion hosted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for Eastern Virginia.

"I think our approach to terrorists should be really an approach to criminals. They shouldn't get any heightened respect or treatment," she said.

Read more: NBC News

Pretrial hearings in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has been accused of being the lead plotter behind the September 11 attacks, and four other detainees held at Guantanamo Bay are set to resume on Tuesday. The last in-person hearing in the case was held in February 2020.

All five detainees are accused of plotting and executing the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Along with Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi are also charged in the capital case. If convicted, all five could receive the death penalty.

The charges against them announced by the US government in 2012 include "terrorism, hijacking aircraft, conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, and destruction of property in violation of the law of war."

Read more: CNN

The Biden administration has designated the Department of Homeland Security as the lead federal agency charged with facilitating the entry of Afghans into the United States. Refugee resettlement groups say the process has been too slow, but they remain hopeful the nation is up to the task.

Homeland Security will coordinate efforts across federal agencies to resettle vulnerable Afghans, including those who worked on behalf of the U.S. The efforts include immigration processing, COVID-19 testing, quarantine of people who test positive and support for evacuees who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, according to the White House.

Mark Hetfield, chief executive of the Jewish humanitarian organization HIAS, said the coordination of federal agencies is progress but not enough to make up for what appears to be a lack of earlier planning.

Read more: Los Angeles Times

Two alleged members of one of the most serious transnational criminal organizations will make their initial appearances in U.S. federal court on charges of narco-terrorism and distributing kilogram quantities of cocaine from Colombia.  

This is the first time believed members of the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional aka ELN) have been extradited to the United States in their nearly 60-year history to face both narco-terrorism and drug trafficking charges. ELN is a Colombian guerrilla group officially designated as a foreign terrorist organization Oct. 8, 1997. It continues to operate as one of the largest narco-terrorism organizations in the world.

Yamit Picon-Rodriguez aka Choncha, 36, and Henry Trigos-Celon aka Moncho Picada, 44, were extradited and landed in Houston just moments ago. They are set to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Sheldon at 10 a.m. tomorrow.  

A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Picon-Rodriguez, Trigos-Celon and others Feb. 12, 2020. Colombian authorities took them into custody at the request of the United States in September 2020.

Read more: Department of Justice