Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights- February 28, 2023
Global Security Matters
- A widespread “national day of hate” was scheduled by white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups for February 25. Extremists made statements such as, “Make your voices heard loud and clear, that the one true enemy of the American people is the Jew” and urged people to target Jewish communities. Law enforcement and Jewish groups around the United States were on high alert. No major incidents were reported.
- A migrant boat sank off Crotone, Italy killing at least 63 migrants, including 12 children. The vessel was carrying approximately 200 people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Approximately 80 were found alive; many are still unaccounted for. One survivor was arrested on migrant trafficking charges. Since 2014, more than 20,000 people have died or gone missing at sea in the Central Mediterranean.
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
- At least 13 people were killed in an attack in Mali. The attack, which took place on Kani-Bonzon, near the border with northern Burkina Faso, is being blamed on Jihadists. At least 70 soldiers and a dozen people were killed in less than a week in attacks in Northern Burkina Faso. One attack was claimed by the Islamic State (IS). Mali has faced heightened insecurity and violence since an outbreak of independence and jihadist insurgencies in 2012. On Friday, local demonstrations were demanding more security.
- A drone strike believed to be carried out by the U.S.-led coalition in northwestern Syria killed two operatives of an al-Qaida-linked group. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights believes the members were from the Horas al-Din group, which includes members who broke off Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the strongest insurgent group in Idlib. No immediate comment was made by the U.S. military.
Protests and Anti-Government Activism
- Protestors in Sri Lanka angry over a decision to postpone local elections were tear gassed by police, resulting in 15 injured people. Hundreds of protestors from the opposition National People’s Power party marched toward the main business district in Colombo, which includes the president’s residence and office and several government buildings. The protestors disregarded police warnings and a court order which barred them from entering the area. The government postponed elections due to the country’s economic crisis.
- BYPOL, a Belarusian anti-government activist organization, claims they blew up sophisticated Russian military surveillance aircraft in a drone attack at an airfield near Minsk. The plane was a Beriev A-50 aircraft. Aliaksandr Azarov, leader of the group, stated it is seeking to carry out more actions in the future. BYPOL has been designated as a terrorist organization by Minsk.
- Israel and Palestine have agreed to deepen ties to prevent “further violence.” The joint statement was made at the end of a meeting in Jordan with U.S., Egyptian and Jordanian officials also in attendance.
Cyber Security and Data Theft
- The director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) urged tech companies such as Microsoft and Twitter to curb unsafe software. The unsafe practices allow ransom attacks that threaten to undermine critical U.S. infrastructure. The warning specified that China’s hacking program is “larger than that of every other major nation combined” but often unidentified and rarely makes it to national news.
- An ex-employee charged with stealing information from ASML Holding is being investigated for connections to China. Two sources are accusing the former employee of stealing data on China’s behalf. ASML creates some of the most cutting-edge computer chips in the world and data theft can have devastating repercussions. The U.S. government, amongst others, is investigating alleged ties between the former employee and China.
- Two new Apple bugs were identified by privacy experts. The bugs allow cybercriminals to bypass security protections to run malicious code that could provide access to the users’ images and messages. Apple added the new vulnerabilities to its product security update. iOS 16.3.1 can now be downloaded.
- Following an announcement by the U.S. department of Energy that the Covid- 19 pandemic most likely began after an unintentional laboratory leak in China, the White House said there isn’t a consensus across the government about the origins.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized the first over-the-counter at-home test to detect both influenza and Covid-19.
- Hong Kong will lift its mask mandate, ending the city’s last major restriction imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- 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 some ramifications of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one year into the conflict.