Dilitas International Security Brief – 20th April 2015

The threat to the UK from International Terrorism is SEVERE
The threat to Great Britain from Irish Republican Terrorism is MODERATE

SEVERE means that a terrorist attack is highly likely;
SUBSTANTIAL means that a terrorist attack is a strong possibility;
MODERATE, means that a terrorist attack is possible, but not likely.


Four people have been arrested at Manchester Airport on suspicion of terrorism, police have said. Two others were arrested on Tuesday as part of the same investigation, launched after nine people were stopped on the Turkey-Syria border on 1 April. The four are aged between 22 and 47 and are all from Rochdale, Greater Manchester Police said.

A 25-year-old man has been arrested in Birmingham on suspicion of Syria-related terrorism offences, West Midland Police has said. West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit detained the suspect, from Yardley Wood, at an address in Billesley, Birmingham, at 07:00 BST on 15th April 2015.

A second man has been arrested and a mosque is being searched after a Syrian-born preacher was found shot dead in his car in north-west London. Abdul Hadi Arwani, 48, was found dead on 7 April in Wembley. He was believed to be a critic of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

Three men accused of helping a 17-year-old Cardiff boy leave the UK to join fighters in Syria have pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges. The three appeared via video link for the hearing at the Old Bailey charged with the preparation of terrorist acts. They will next appear at the Old Bailey on 25 June for a four week trial. The three men are all charged with preparation of terrorist acts with the intention of assisting an individual – who cannot be named for legal reasons – to commit acts of terrorism.

Reported 14th April 2015 – RAF Typhoons have been launched to intercept two Russian aircraft near UK airspace, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed. The incident came as Britain hosts a Nato exercise in northern Scotland involving more than 50 warships. The MoD said the Typhoons, from RAF Lossiemouth, were deployed “after Russian aircraft were identified flying close to UK airspace”. The Russian planes later turned back, flying north past Norway.

A missing UK family of six could already be in Syria, police have said. Asif Malik, 31, Sara Kiran, 29, their daughter Zoha, seven, and three sons Essa, four, Zakariya, two, and Yhaya, one, were last seen on 7 April. Police said online rhetoric from Islamic State (IS), the family’s direction of travel and concerns voiced by relatives made officers “concerned” that they were heading for Syria.

A British jihadist who fled the UK to join extremists in Syria has posted a list of ISIS “jobs” online for supporters who do not want to fight. A man writing under the name of Abu Sa’eed Al-Britani insisted that an aversion to battle was a “sign of weak faith” but there was work available for press officers, fitness instructors and bomb makers. According to the list of 10 jobs released earlier this month, volunteers are needed to indoctrinate children in ISIS-held territories, implement its violent interpretation of Sharia law and care for injured fighters. Number one on the list is press officers for the so-called Islamic State’s ‘media center’.

Last week a British court ruled that a convicted member of the Basque separatist group ETA can be extradited to Spain. In the judge’s ruling, he said there had been no abuse of process in Antonio Troitino’s case, and he could receive a fair trial in Spain. Troitino served 24 years in a Spanish prison for his role in more than 20 killings. He was released in 2011. However, Spanish authorities said he had been released too soon. Troitino was arrested in the UK in 2012 on a Spanish warrant, and he has been fighting extradition ever since. Troitino has 7 days to appeal.

Northern Ireland’s police ombudsman has launched an investigation into whether the British security forces could have prevented at least 20 murders of alleged informers by the IRA. The inquiry by the Historical Investigations Directorate is focusing on one of the darkest episodes of the Troubles and the role of the double agent known as Stakeknife, who ran the republican movement’s so-called “nutting squad” or counter-intelligence section. Stakeknife has been identified as Freddie Scappaticci, a republican activist who fled Belfast after being unmasked more than a decade ago. He has always denied working for British military intelligence and continues to deny being Stakeknife.



Islamic State (IS) militants have released a video purportedly showing the killing of up to 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya. Footage shows one group of men being beheaded on a beach and another group being shot in the head in a desert. The victims are believed to be members of the Ethiopian Church seized in Libya by IS-linked militants.

Islamic State (IS) has lost more than a quarter of its territory in Iraq since the US-led coalition air campaign began in August, a Pentagon spokesman says. Col Steve Warren said it was too early to say the tide was turning, but that air strikes and Iraqi ground forces had “unquestionably inflicted some damage”.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s social media have launched a new campaign threatening to repeat 9/11 and bring war to America. The campaign, given the hashtag #WeWillBurnUSAgain, is accompanied by a video compilation showing some of ISIL’s “greatest hits”, including the beheadings of the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. “America thinks it’s safe because of the geographical location,” its voiceover says. “Thus you see it invades Muslim lands, and thinks that the army of jihad won’t reach in their lands. But the dream of Americans to have safety became a mirage.” The hashtag campaign was announced on April 8 … when pro-ISIL accounts posted thousands of tweets with the hashtag with variations on the same theme, of America’s vulnerability to lone wolf and other attacks.


Members of the UN Security Council were moved to tears after they were shown a video of an apparent chlorine gas attack last month in north-west Syria.
The footage shows the unsuccessful attempts of doctors to revive three children all aged under four. US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power described the meeting as “very emotional” and said those responsible will be held accountable. The Syrian government denies it was responsible for the attack in Idlib.

Houthi rebels have condemned Tuesday’s UN Security Council arms embargo imposed on them and their allies. They called for protests against what they termed UN support of “aggression”.

Palestinian fighters have advanced in clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, Palestinian officials say.

US President Barack Obama has offered the Iraqi Prime Minister $200m (£135m) in humanitarian aid on his first official visit to Washington. The humanitarian aid is to help Iraqis displaced by the militants. President Obama said that Iraqi troops, backed by the U.S.-led coalition, had now recovered about one-quarter of the territory in Iraq seized by the group. Source ISIL has lost more than a quarter of its territory in Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition air campaign began in August, according to a Pentagon spokesman. Colonel Steve Warren said the lost territory amounts to some 5,000 to 6,600 square miles and added that it was too early to say the tide was turning, but that air strikes and Iraqi ground forces had “unquestionably inflicted some damage”.


Men claiming to be Islamic militants shot and wounded an American woman in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, leaving leaflets in her car naming her and saying they had targeted her because she was American, police said. Gunmen on motorbikes shot the woman in the face and the hand as she drove home from the dental college where she worked as a vice principal. “Pamphlets claiming the attack have been found in the car, giving impression that some banned (militant) outfit carried out the attack,” the deputy police superintendent told reporters

Japan is scrambling fighters at near-unprecedented levels in response to foreign aircraft – mainly Russian and Chinese – approaching its airspace, the defence ministry says.

Satellite images show China is making progress on building an airstrip on a reef in disputed territory in the South China Sea, a report says. The images, published by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, show construction work on reclaimed land on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands. The landmass could accommodate a runway about 3,000m long, the report said. China claims almost the whole of the South China Sea, resulting in overlapping claims with several other Asian nations including Vietnam and the Philippines. They accuse China of illegally reclaiming land in contested areas to create artificial islands with facilities that could potentially be for military use.


Australians fighting alongside Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq pose a “serious national security threat”, according to a new report. However, the Lowy Institute for International Policy report said the government’s response could help lower the risk of an attack.

Australia and Iran have agreed to share intelligence about Australians fighting with militant groups in Iraq. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said the deal will help both countries in their efforts to tackle Islamic State (IS).


About 700 migrants are feared drowned after their boat capsized off Libya, survivors have told Save the Children. The Italian coast guard rescued 144 people from the boat on Monday and launched an air and sea search operation in hopes of saving others.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi has led calls for more European Union action on sea migration after the latest deadly capsize of a boat in the Mediterranean. Demanding a summit on the issue, Mr Renzi said trafficking was “a plague in our continent” and bemoaned the lack of European solidarity. The 20m (70ft) long boat was believed to be carrying up to 700 migrants, and only 28 survivors have been rescued.

A United Nations supply convoy has been attacked near the city of Gao in northern Mali, with two civilian drivers killed. The attack took place about 15km (9 miles) west of the city late on Friday, the UN Mission in Mali said.

Earlier last week, Al-Shabab militants attacked a government complex in a busy area of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, leaving at least 17 people dead, including seven assailants. A car loaded with explosives was driven into the wall surrounding the compound, and gunmen then stormed the building.

Somalia’s Islamist al-Shabab militants are recruiting heavily in north-eastern Kenya, according to evidence gathered by the BBC. The recruitment marks a new tactic for al-Shabab, underscoring fears voiced by Kenyan intelligence services and MPs.

Reported 15th April 2015 – A suicide attack on a UN base in northern Mali has killed three civilians and wounded nine peacekeepers, the UN has said.
The bomber attempted to drive into a UN camp in Ansongo town when his explosives detonated, it added.

Foreign-owned shops in South Africa have been attacked and looted in eastern Johannesburg, the latest in a series of xenophobic attacks. Police said about 200 foreigners took refuge at a police station, and 12 people were arrested over the attacks. The violence comes despite Thursday’s rally against xenophobia in the coastal city of Durban, and condemnation from President Jacob Zuma.


There has been a surge in violence between government troops and pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine, despite diplomatic efforts to enforce a truce. Ukraine said six government soldiers were killed in a 24-hour period and rebels said one of their fighters died in an army attack.

A Ukrainian opposition politician, Oleg Kalashnikov, has been found dead with gunshot wounds in Kiev – the latest ally of the former government to have died in suspicious circumstances. Mr Kalashnikov had been involved in the “anti-Maidan” protests in support of deposed President Viktor Yanukovych. It is not clear if he was murdered or committed suicide. Police say an investigation has been launched.

About 300 US paratroopers have come to western Ukraine to train with Ukrainian national guard units, the US Army says. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that the move “could seriously destabilise the situation” in Ukraine.


One of Italy’s most wanted gangsters has been detained on the Costa del Sol in Spain while trying to withdraw money from a post office. Lucio Morrone, known as “Spalluzzella”, is described by Spain’s Guardia Civil as head of a dangerous clan in the Naples Camorra.


Mexican authorities have issued an alert for five states after the theft of potentially dangerous radioactive materials. A container of Iridium-192 used for industrial radiography was taken from a truck in the town of Cardenas in Tabasco state.

Cuba has welcomed as “fair” a US decision to remove it from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, saying it should never have been on the list in the first place. The move comes amid a normalisation of ties between the US and Cuba.


A former Blackwater guard has been sentenced to life in prison and three others to 30 years over the killing of 14 Iraqi civilians in 2007. Nicholas Slatten and three others were convicted last year for the killings in Baghdad’s crowded Nisoor Square. A further 17 Iraqis were injured as the private contractors opened fire to clear the way for a US convoy.

The US has expressed concern after Russia lifted a ban on supplying Iran with the sophisticated S-300 air defence missile system. Secretary of State John Kerry raised the matter in a phone call with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, the White House said.

A close associate of a Philadelphia woman charged in a plot to join the Islamic State group in Syria pledged to avenge her arrest with attacks on the U.S. and violence at the jail where she is held. The associate tweeted a call for suicide attacks after federal agents searched Keonna Thomas’ home in late March and posted an image of an exploding truck with the message, “No prison door would be able to stand against the force” after her arrest last week, the Assistant U.S. Attorney said.


Cybersecurity is now a core consideration for all weapons purchases at the Defense Department. The Pentagon released its new buying guide, Better Buying Power 3.0, last week. For the first time, it discusses cybersecurity. “Cybersecurity is a pervasive problem for the department,” the acquisition chief told a press conference. “It’s a pervasive problem in the sense that it affects and is a danger, if you will, a source of risk for our programs from inception all the way through

Hundreds of planes flying commercially today could be vulnerable to having their onboard computers hacked and remotely taken over by someone using the plane’s passenger Wi-Fi network, or even by someone on the ground, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. One of the authors of the report told CNN that the planes include the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Airbus A350 and A380 aircraft, and all have advanced cockpits that are wired into the same Wi-Fi system used by passengers. He said, “Modern communications technologies, including IP connectivity, are increasingly used in aircraft systems, creating the possibility that unauthorised individuals might access and compromise aircraft avionics systems,” according to the report, which is based on interviews with cybersecurity and aviation experts.

Hacking attacks that destroy rather than steal data or that manipulate equipment are far more prevalent than widely believed, according to a survey of critical infrastructure organisations throughout North and South America. The poll by the Organisation of American States found that 40 percent of respondents had battled attempts to shut down their computer networks, 44 percent had dealt with bids to delete files and 54 percent had encountered “attempts to manipulate” their equipment through a control system. Those figures, provided exclusively to Reuters ahead of the official release, are all the more remarkable because only 60 percent of the 575 respondents said they had detected attempts to steal data, long considered the predominant hacking goal.

An international coalition of cybercrime agencies is working to take down a major botnet that has installed malware on the computers of over 12,000 Americans and Asians. Called Beebone, the botnet acts as a “downloader,” installing other forms of malware on victims’ computers without their consent or even awareness, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre said. Initial figures show that over 12,000 computers have been infected, however it is likely there are many more. Once the botnet has installed malware on a computer, it allows cyber criminals steal banking logins and passwords, create fake anti-virus programs and activate ransomware. Source Europol, in collaboration with Dutch authorities, the U.S. FBI and private security companies, have seized the domain names used to control a botnet called Beebone. The police action on 8 April redirected domains used by the botnet’s command-and-control servers to a server controlled by security companies.

Iran poses a growing threat to America’s computer networks and has launched increasingly sophisticated digital attacks and spying on US targets, according to a new report released last week. Iran’s far-reaching hacking efforts indicate the regime is searching for vulnerable infrastructure that could be hit in future cyber-assaults, said the study by private cyber-security company Norse and the American Enterprise Institute think tank. “Iran is emerging as a significant cyber-threat to the US and its allies,” the study said.

Prosecutors say they have evidence indicating the former head of computer security for a state lottery association tampered with lottery computers prior to him buying a ticket that won a $14.3 million jackpot, according to a media report. Eddie Raymond Tipton, 51, may have inserted a thumb drive into a highly locked-down computer that’s supposed to generate the random numbers used to determine lottery winners, The Des Moines Register reported, citing court
documents filed by prosecutors. At the time, Tipton was the information security director of the Multi-State Lottery Association, and he was later videotaped purchasing a Hot Lotto ticket that went on to fetch the winning $14.3 million payout.


April 20, 1870 Birth Date of Hitler (occasional rallies by extreme Right Wing groups)
April 20, 1998 Germany’s Red Army Faction announces its disbandment
April 21, 1926 Birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth ll. Gun salutes in Hyde Park
April 21, 1997 End of 126-day siege at Japanese Ambassador’s residence in Peru.
April 22, 2002 Al-Qaeda attack on a Tunisia synagogue in Djerba kills 19 people
April 24, 1915 Anniversary of Armenian genocide in Turkey.
April 24, 1916 Start of the Easter Rising in Dublin.
April 24, 1968 Founding of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command.
April 24, 1993 A massive Provisional IRA truck bomb at Bishopsgate, City of London, kills one person and injures 35 others.
April 24, 1996: Large Provisional IRA Semtex bomb under Hammersmith Bridge fails to function properly.
April 25, 2011 Easter Monday
April 25, 1997: To date, the last Provisional IRA attack on mainland UK prior to their current ceasefire. A bomb attack on an electricity pylon next to M6 in Walsall.
April 25, 1980 Failed U.S. military hostage rescue mission to free 53 U.S. hostages held in the Iranian capital, Tehran.
April 26, 1986 Chernobyl Disaster
April 27, 1984 End of Libyan Embassy siege in London
April 28, 2011 Bomb kills 15 in Marrakech cafe frequented by Westerners in first major attack in country since May 2003; government blames AQIM but group denies responsibility
April 29, 1992 Rioting in Los Angeles following verdict in Rodney King case
April 30, 1975 The war in Vietnam ends as Saigon surrenders to the Vietcong.
April 30, 1973 President Nixon takes responsibility for the Watergate scandal but denies any personal involvement
April 30, 1980 Iranian Embassy siege in London – ended on May 5th in a resolution by 22 Special Air Service Regiment.