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        • Hemispheric security

          In early May, the Venezuelan military intercepted a group of dissidents and American mercenaries. These events in Venezuela echo past U.S. secret sponsorship of private armies to overthrow governments elsewhere. The U.S. has an extended history of sponsoring insurgents and mercenaries to undermine unwanted foreign regimes.

        • Perspective

          The study of viruses once challenged the world’s notion of what is “biological,” and for a time it was not clear whether viruses were regulated by the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Durward Johnson and James Kraska write that “SynBio and its convergence with emerging technologies may create weapons not currently banned by universal disarmament obligations or customary international law, and this legal gap raises the prospect of weaponization of nonbiological threat agents tailor-made to create targeted effects. These tactical biotechnological capabilities could have potentially strategic consequences and yet may fall outside the existing regime.”

        • Terrorism

          A new report reveals how the COVID-19 pandemic is already having a significant impact on terrorism around the world. “One genuine concern is that COVID-19 may lead to a resurgence in interest among terrorists for using chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons,” says one expert. “While serious obstacles certainly remain, the huge impact of COVID-19 may re-ignite some interest in biological weapons.”

        • Terrorism

          Across Iraq and Syria there is a growing sense of unease that when it comes to the Islamic State terror group, data showing the jihadist force on its heels should not be trusted. While the U.S.-led military coalition argues Islamic State is a shadow of its former self, some officials with U.S. partner forces argue the terror group has actually become more powerful and more dangerous.

        • Extremism

          The American Jewish community experienced the highest level of anti-Semitic incidents last year since tracking began in 1979, with more than 2,100 acts of assault, vandalism and harassment reported across the United States. The record number of incidents came as the Jewish community grappled with violent and lethal anti-Semitic attacks against communities in Poway, Jersey City and Monsey, and a spree of violent assaults in Brooklyn.

        • Ethnic cleansing

          In a new report, Amnesty International offers details of a continuing Syrian and Russian campaign to destroy hospitals, clinics, and schools in the Sunni-majority province of Idlib, in order to drive as many Sunnis as possible out of Syria. Since 2011, the Assad regime has conducted the largest ethnic cleansing campaign since the Second World War, aiming to change the ethnic composition of Syria. “Even by the standards of Syria’s calamitous nine-year crisis, the displacement and humanitarian emergency sparked by the latest onslaught on Idlib has been unprecedented,” said Amnesty.

        • Extremism

          German lawmakers from across the political spectrum on Monday warned that the growing wave of anti-lockdown protests could provide fertile ground for radicalization and recruitment for far-right extremist groups and anti-vaccine campaigns. Over the weekend, thousands of people gathered in cities across Germany to demand an end to restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

        • Hemispheric security

          Venezuela has aired a video in which captured American ex-serviceman Airon Berry said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was a target of a foiled raid on Sunday. This is the second video released by the Venezuelan government purporting to show the questioning of Berry and fellow American Luke Denman, both former members of the U.S. Special Forces. In the video aired Thursday, Berry said the Venezuelan Intelligence Services and the airport tower were also targets.

        • Terrorism

          Germany’s recent decision to ban the political activities of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has sparked a debate among experts, with some believing the move was necessary while others arguing it would have little impact on Hezbollah’s terrorist activities.

        • Iran

          Israeli defense officials told reporters Tuesday that Iranian forces are pulling out of Syria and closing military bases, arms depots, arms manufacturing facilities, and military research labs there. In recent months, Israel has intensified its air attacks against Iranian forces, and against Hezbollah targets, in Syria, as well as against the Assad regime forces protecting Iranian and Hezbollah targets.

        • Hemispheric security

          Jordan Goudreau, a former Green Beret soldier linked to a foiled or bungled plot to topple Venezuela’s leader, Nicolás Maduro, has insisted on Sunday that his troops are still in operation in Venezuela after launching what he described as “a daring amphibious raid” into economically and politically troubled country. The Venezuelan government said that in a short firefight, its forces killed eight members of the incursion force, which landed on the shore from three speedboats, and detained thirteen, two of them American citizens.

        • Terrorism

          In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic the crises of tomorrow can fester. A resurgence of Islamic State (IS) is likely to be one of them. The threat of a resurgent IS is mounting and governments around the world could be about to make the same mistake again of missing it and reacting too late.

        • Perspective

          Since the Sept. 11 attacks, U.S. foreign policy, national security, and law enforcement have been dominated by counter-terrorism considerations, even while a number of counter-terrorism experts have cautioned against overemphasizing the terrorist threat. Lydia Khalil writes that, at the same time, for various reasons, U.S. law enforcement has found it more challenging to deal with the more serious threat of terrorism the United States is facing – far-right domestic terrorism – a threat which now eclipses the threat posed by foreign Islamist jihadists, and which is only going to grow. If anything could ever shake the United States out of its counter-terrorism fixation it would be a crisis of even greater magnitude than 9/11. It seemed like that moment finally came with the COVID-19 pandemic, “[y]et what we have seen so far is the opposite. Instead of reorienting toward other paradigms and reexamining its strategic priorities, the United States continues to reflexively overextend its counter-terrorism tools to deal with some of the more problematic aspects of the virus’ spread,” she writes.

        • Coronavirus

          The U.S. intelligence community, in a rare public statement on Thursday, said that evidence shows that the virus was not engineered in a Chinese laboratory. The U.S. intelligence community “concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said. Talk that the COVID-19 virus was created in a Chinese lab, or escaped from a lab, has persisted for weeks, as have other theories, many of which have been discredited as conspiracy theories or as part of disinformation campaigns.

        • Terrorism

          German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Thursday banned all Hezbollah activities in the country. Until Thursday, Germany distinguished between the political and the armed wings of Hezbollah, banning the latter but allowing the former to operate in Germany. On Thursday, the German government designated the group in its entirety as a terrorist organization. The police raided several buildings, including four mosques and Islamic associations in Berlin, Dortmund, Bremen, and Münster where, the police said, Hezbollah supporters were active.

        • COVID-19 & terrorism

          The European Union (EU) on Tuesday, 28 April, 194 million euros in funding to the G5 Sahel countries to strengthen their security forces. In a videoconference, EU leaders said they would favorably examine a request to cancel African debt to allow African countries to continue to combat Islamist terrorism as they are facing a new challenge in COVID-19.

        • COVID-19 & terterrorism

          Senators Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) and James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), both members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, called on the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and Intelligence Community to answer questions about what these agencies are doing to address ongoing and emerging terrorist threats amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The senators note that there is evidence of both foreign and domestic potential terrorists trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic.

        • Perspective

          While the world’s attention appropriately focuses on the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, the threat of violent extremism remains, and has in some circumstances been exacerbated during the crisis. The moment demands new and renewed attention so that the gains made to date do not face setbacks. Eric Rosand, Khalid Koser, and Lilla Schumicky-Logan describe the six themes which their investigation shows as recurring.

        • Terrorism

          Last Wednesday, a Colombian court granted amnesty to three alleged IRA members, known as the “Colombia Three.” The decision put an end to a legal journey that saw the trio sentenced to seventeen years in jail for helping FARC, the Colombian leftist insurgency movement, produce explosives and build bombs. The court’s decision is likely to be controversial. Many Colombians did not support the 2016 peace and reconciliation deal between the government and FARC, with the main sticking point being the sweeping amnesty given to FARC commanders and fighters. During the 42-yer war (1964-2016), FARC killed 220,000 Colombians; drove 6.6 million Colombians out of their homes and into internal exile; and kidnapped 27,000 Colombians for ransom.

        • Extremism

          Among the protesters who demonstrated in several state capitals for ending the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, there were a noticeable number of far-right conspiracy theorists, white supremacists like Proud Boys and citizens’ militia members. As researchers of street gangs’ and far-right groups’ violence and recruitment, we believe these protests may become a way right-wingers expand the spread of anti-Semitic rhetoric and militant racism. Proud Boys, and many other far-right activists, don’t typically focus their concern on whether stores and businesses are open. They’re attending these rallies as part of their longstanding search for any opportunity to make extremist groups look mainstream – and because they are always looking for potential recruits to further their cause.

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