Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights- February 14, 2023
Global Security Matters
- The death toll from Turkey and Syria’s earthquake has risen to over 34,000. A small number of survivors are still being pulled from the rubble a week later. A non-profit Israeli search-and-rescue team had to end its mission early and withdraw “due to a significant security threat.”
- The US imposed sanctions on Trickbot, a Russian hacking group. Trickbot used malicious software capable of stealing financial data and dropping ransom software which was at one point considered one of the internet’s biggest security threats. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Trickbot targeted hospitals and healthcare centers. The US Treasury Department sanctioned seven of Trickbot’s senior figures and managers.
- This week, the US shot down multiple additional flying objects. The nature of these objects are undetermined as of yet, but it appears that increased sensitivity settings of U.S. radar systems in the wake of the Chinese spy balloon incident is picking up previously unnoticed devices.
- North Kora displayed its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), raising concerns about the US defense systems. More than a dozen ICBMs were displayed at a military parade. Analysts are concerned that if each missile were to carry multiple war heads, then US nuclear countermeasures could be challenged.
- Anti-government fighters and Somaliland security forces have been clashing for nearly a week, killing at least 57 people and wounding over 400 people. The fighting has taken place in the disputed city of Las Anod and began when local leaders said they wanted to rejoin the Federal government. According to the UN, over 80,000 people have been displaced due to the fighting, and water and electricity have been shut off.
Terrorism and Extremism
- The threat from Islamic State extremists remains high, according to the U.N. counter-terrorism chief. The Islamic State is increasing its presence around conflict zones and the UN is particularly worried about the group’s expansion in Africa’s center, south and Sahel regions. The group radicalizes and recruits new supporters through social media and other internet and gaming platforms. A key concern is the groups’ use of new technologies.
- Sub-Saharan Africa is the new global epicenter for extremism, according to a new report by the U.N.’s international development agency. The report highlights a 92% increase in new recruits who are joining extremist groups for better livelihoods. There has been a 57% decrease in people joining extremist groups for religious reasons. Africa has been significantly affected by Covid-19, high inflation, and climate change, resulting in an increasing number of people joining extremist groups due to economic factors.
- Attorneys General from 21 states are asking the Biden administration to label Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations. The states sent a letter to President Biden noting that over 100,000 Americans have overdosed in the past year, with synthetic opioids such as Fentanyl accounting for two-thirds of them. The drug cartels have created armed forces to protect their trade, which the states are arguing, poses a national security threat. This week, in Playa Del Carmen, a tourist destination city near Cancun and Tulum, the bodies of four municipal workers were found in the trunk of a car, alleged to be victims of the growing drug trade in the area. The cartels also have connections to foreign terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah. A terrorist designation would allow state and federal law enforcement agencies to take tougher actions against the cartels.
- For the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has included Covid-19 vaccines in its recommended immunization schedule.
- New York ends Covid-19 mask mandate at health care facilities.
- The Japanese government decided to drastically ease Covid-19 guidelines on mask-wearing, including those for public transportation and schools.
- U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories
- CISA: nation-state cybersecurity threats and other resources for cybersecurity matters.
- CDC Covid-19 Travel Guidelines & CDC Covid-19 facts page
- Our most recent blog posts look at natural disaster preparedness and the latest case of founder fraud, involving JP Morgan and it’s now defunct recent acquisition.
Check out this Op-ed in The Hill about the George Santos due diligence failures, penned by our own Don Aviv and Jeremy Hurewitz.