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Global Alternative Agenda

The Global Alternative Agenda is an international non-governmental organization established and funded as a project of Global Crusaders Service Limited in June 2001 to address the need of young people in Africa

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Oludare Ogunlana

Oludare Ogunlana, Convener reading welcome remarks

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Gen. Joseph Nunoo-Mensa

Gen. Joseph Nunoo-Mensa, Ghanaian National Security Adviser declaring the event open

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Defense Attachee, US Embassy in Ghana

Defense Attachee, US Embassy in Ghana

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Guest Speakers

Guest Speakers

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Participants

Participants

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Sunday, 26 July 2020

Coronavirus, lockdown, recovery, the economy | Homeland Security Newswire


Four leading Israeli researcher argue that a correct reading of the Swedish experiment of a more relaxed approach shows that, despite early localized setbacks, it has been a success – and its success helps explode the three myths which have led governments around the world to impose unnecessary lockdowns. Sarah Knapton writes that an official U.K. government report says that more than 200,000 people could die from the impact of lockdown. Robert Peston writes that the cost of COVID-19 in the U.K. was unnecessarily high, and Yoon K. Loke and Carl Heneghan write that in the U.K., the number of COVID-19-related deaths is so high because “no one can ever recover from COVID-19”: A patient discharged from the hospital after being treated for COVID-19 will still be counted as a COVID death — even if they had a heart attack or were run over by a bus three months later.
It is difficult to think of another country that has botched the response to the coronavirus more spectacularly than the United States. Joel Achenbach, William Wan, Karin Brulliard, and Chelsea Janes write that the death rate from COVID-19-19 in the United States looks like that of countries with vastly lower wealth, health-care resources, and technological infrastructure, adding: “If there was a mistake to be made in this pandemic, America has made it.” Michael D. Shear, Noah Weiland, Eric Lipton, Maggie Haberman, and David E. Sanger write that the roots of the U.S. current inability to control the pandemic can be traced to mid-April, when the White House began to focus on shifting responsibility for leading the fight against the pandemic – which was becoming a public health, economic, and political disaster — from the White House to the states.
Wearing a face mask has become a political issue. J. Alexander Navarro writes that this was also the case during the 1918 pandemic. Beginning Monday, wearing face masks in public will be mandatory in France, and Valentin Hamon-Beugin writes [in French] that several French start-ups have developed technologies which would allow the authorities to monitor citizens’ compliance with the new rule.

Coronavirus, lockdown, recovery, the economy | Homeland Security Newswire

Monday, 22 June 2020

Coronavirus’s Impact on Terrorism | Dark Art of Russian Disinformation | Security Lapses & Saudi Shoot Up, and more | Homeland Security Newswire

·  How to Prepare for the Coronavirus’s Impact on Terrorism
·  Reading Fatal Stabbing Suspect Khairi Saadallah Was Known to MI5
·  Terror Groups “Exploiting Coronavirus Pandemic to Radicalize New Recruits,” QC Warns
·  Team Trump Pushes Antifa Panic Hard on Facebook
·  Vehicle Attacks Rise as Extremists Target Protesters
·  Black Lives Matter Unrest in U.S. Makes It Easy for Vladimir Putin’s Election Trolls to Spread Fake News
·  Russian Operatives Behind Fake Claim that Real IRA Was Recruiting Jihadists
·  Russia report: U.K. MPs Condemn “Utterly Reprehensible” delay
·  Fighting the Dark Art of Russian Disinformation This Election Season
·  The Lapses That Let a Saudi Extremist Shoot Up a U.S. Navy Base
How to Prepare for the Coronavirus’s Impact on Terrorism (Nikita Malik, National Interest)
In America, a task force of data-mining start-ups and technology companies is currently working with the White House to develop a range of tracking and surveillance technologies to fight the coronavirus.
Reading Fatal Stabbing Suspect Khairi Saadallah Was Known to MI5 (Fiona Hamilton, The Times)
The terror suspect who allegedly murdered three people in Reading came on to the radar of the intelligence services last year.
Khairi Saadallah, 25, is being investigated by the national counterterrorism command over what police described today as a horrific atrocity in Forbury Gardens last night.
Sources told The Times that MI5 was passed intelligence last year on Saadallah, who is originally from Libya, suggesting that he had an aspiration to travel abroad, potentially for terrorism.
Terror Groups “Exploiting Coronavirus Pandemic to Radicalize New Recruits,” QC Warns (Tristan Kirk, Evening Standard)
Terrorist groups are using the pandemic lockdown to gather and radicalize new recruits by blaming coronavirus on the “wrath of God”, a top QC has warned.
Lord Carlile of Berriew said extremists groups are trying to “use the Covid-19 global crisis to their advantage”, particularly targeting vulnerable people who have been isolated by the lockdown and social distancing rules.
He said ISIS and Al Qaeda propaganda is claiming the virus is a “divine punishment” from God, while far right groups are latching on to conspiracy theories around the pandemic to boost followers.
Team Trump Pushes Antifa Panic Hard on Facebook (Lachlan Markay, Daily Beats)
At least seven different pages associated with the campaign have run spots warning about the rise of the anti-fascist group.
Vehicle Attacks Rise as Extremists Target Protesters (Hannah Allam, NPR)
Right-wing extremists are turning cars into weapons, with reports of at least 50 vehicle-ramming incidents since protests against police violence erupted nationwide in late May.
At least 18 are categorized as deliberate attacks; another two dozen are unclear as to motivation or are still under investigation, according to a count released Friday by Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago’s Chicago Project on Security and Threats. Weil has tracked vehicle-ramming attacks, or VRAs, since protests began.
“The message they’re trying to send is, ‘You need to get out of the street and stop these protests,’ ” Weil said. “They’re trying to intimidate the most recent wave of BLM protesters, to stop their movement.”
Black Lives Matter Unrest in U.S. Makes It Easy for Vladimir Putin’s Election Trolls to Spread Fake News (Matthew Campbell, The Times)
Public gullibility tested with false promise of free hotdogs
Russian Operatives Behind Fake Claim that Real IRA Was Recruiting Jihadists (Brian Mahon, The Times)
Russian operatives spread false information online that the Real IRA was recruiting Islamist militias as part of campaign to sow division in the West, according to a new report.
The deception operation, titled Secondary Infektion, took place over six years in seven different languages and on 300 different online platforms.
Graphika, a New York-based analytics company behind the report, uses artificial intelligence to study and observe online communities. It described Secondary Infektion as a “long-running Russian information operation”. It included a number of social media campaigns run by a central entity, which was already active in 2014 and still running early this year.
Russia report: U.K. MPs Condemn “Utterly Reprehensible” delay (Mattha Busby, Guardian)
Failure to establish key scrutiny committee is also criticized as “unprecedented underhand behavior”
Fighting the Dark Art of Russian Disinformation This Election Season (Daniel N. Hoffman, Washington Examiner)
The Kremlin’s goal is to tarnish the U.S. political process
The Lapses That Let a Saudi Extremist Shoot Up a U.S. Navy Base (Michael LaForgia and Eric Schmitt, New York Times)
The gunman who killed three in Florida was not directed by Al Qaeda, nor inspired solely by online ideology. He was a new kind of terrorist, harder to spot: an extremely enterprising freelancer.




Coronavirus’s Impact on Terrorism | Dark Art of Russian Disinformation | Security Lapses & Saudi Shoot Up, and more | Homeland Security Newswire

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

China Telecom, Huawei, Espionage,. sabotage | Homeland Security Newswire

The U.S. Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and several other government agencies have urged the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to revoke China Telecom’s license to provide links between the United States and foreign countries. A U.S. investigation of China Telecom’s operations found “substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks,” the U.S. Justice Department said last week. The agencies expressed particular concern about the nature of China Telecom’s U.S. operations, which, the agencies argue, could give China Telecom the ability to engage in economic espionage and sabotage, mainly through the re-routing of U.S. internet traffic through Chinese servers using something called BGP (border gateway protocol) hijacking.
The U.S. Department of Defense, Homeland Security, and several other government agencies have urged the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to revoke China Telecom’s license to provide links between the United States and foreign countries.
CSO Online reports that a U.S. investigation of China Telecom’s operations found “substantial and unacceptable national security and law enforcement risks,” the U.S. Justice Department said last week. Based on the review, DOJ recommended revoking the company’s license to provide international telecommunication to and from the United States.
The DOJ recommendation was endorsed by the U.S. Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, Commerce, as well as the U.S. Trade Representative.
China Telecom is a U.S. subsidiary of China’s state-owned telecommunications company.
In their filing, the agencies said that China Telecom poses risks to security and law enforcement because of inaccurate public representations by China Telecom concerning its cybersecurity practices and inaccurate statements by China Telecom to US government authorities about where China Telecom stored its U.S. records. According to the filing, this latter point raises significant questions about whether China Telecom is complying with federal and state cybersecurity and privacy laws.
“The agencies expressed particular concern about the nature of China Telecom’s U.S. operations, which, they argue, could give China Telecom the ability to engage in economic espionage and sabotage, mainly through the re-routing of U.S. internet traffic through Chinese servers using something called BGP (border gateway protocol) hijacking” CSO Online notes. “The filing contains a string of links to allegations about China Telecom as a source of BGP hijacking, which, although the filing doesn’t emphasize this fact, often results from simple error and not malign intent.”
Today, more than ever, the life of the nation and its people runs on our telecommunications networks,” said John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “Today’s action is but our next step in ensuring the integrity of America’s telecommunications systems.”
Demers noted that data security “depends on our use of trusted partners from nations that share our values and our aspirations for humanity.”
The decision on whether or not to revoke the license, granted in 2007, would be made by the FCC.
The US Justice Department said that one of the factors behind the recommendation from the various U.S. agencies involved was the “increased knowledge of [China’s] role in malicious cyber activity targeting the United States.”
They also noted “concerns that China Telecom is vulnerable to exploitation, influence, and control” from Beijing, and said “the nature” of the firm’s U.S. operations provided opportunities for China’s state actors “to engage in malicious cyber activity enabling economic espionage and disruption and misrouting of U.S. communications.”
Reuters notes that Chinese telecommunications companies have recently come under scrutiny in the United States. Last May, the FCC denied an application by China Mobile to provide telecommunications services between the United States and foreign destinations “due to several factors related to China Mobile USA’s ownership and control by the Chinese government.”
CSO Onlineadds that “last November, the FCC barred the use of its $8.5 billion universal service fund for the purchase of equipment from Chinese tech giants ZTE and Huawei. (On March 12, this ban was codified in the Secure and Entrusted Communications Act, which prohibits federal subsidies from going toward the purchase of communications equipment or services that pose a national security risk). Huawei has separately been subjected to two executive orders that bar the sale of their gear in the US and bar US companies from selling essential technology to the Chinese telecom supplier.”
In September last year, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer (New York) and Republican senator Tom Cotton (Arkansas) urged the FCC to review the authorizations issued for China Telecom and China Unicom, a mobile service provider. The two lawmakers raised concerns that the companies “have access to our telephone lines, fiber optic cables, cellular networks and satellites in ways that could give it (China) the ability to target the content of communications of Americans or their businesses and the U.S. government.”

Thursday, 12 March 2020

coronavirus, epidemics, China | Homeland Security Newswire

Some people may start to feel fatalistic in the face of the relentless spread of COVID-19. There are no vaccines and no specific treatments for people who get sick. What’s the point of fighting something that’s bound to happen anyway? Why not just let the epidemic run its course? But public health officials and medical professionals have been advocating for rapid and decisive efforts to “flatten the curve.” Rather than letting the virus quickly rampage through the population and burn itself out fast, the idea is to spread all those infections out over a longer period of time. Yes, it would potentially prolong the epidemic. But in doing so, public health agencies and the health care infrastructure gain invaluable time to respond to the crisis.
Anywhere from 20 percent to 60 percent of the adults around the world may be infected with the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19. That’s the estimate from leading epidemiological experts on communicable disease dynamics. Even the best-case scenario using those numbers means nearly 40,000,000 adults will be infected in the United States alone.
Some people may start to feel fatalistic in the face of those kinds of statistics. There are no vaccines and no specific treatments for people who get sick. What’s the point of fighting something that’s bound to happen anyway? Why not just let the epidemic run its course?
But public health officials and medical professionals have been advocating for rapid and decisive efforts to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 as much and as early as possible.
The goal is to “flatten the curve.” Rather than letting the virus quickly rampage through the population and burn itself out fast, the idea is to spread all those infections out over a longer period of time.
Yes, it would potentially prolong the epidemic. But in doing so, public health agencies and the health care infrastructure gain invaluable time to respond to the crisis.
Most importantly, “flattening the curve” provides an opportunity to significantly reduce deaths from COVID-19.
On the steep rise of the epidemic curve, especially when testing capacity is lacking, there is a tremendous burden on health care providers – many of whom will fall ill themselves and be forced to self-isolate, becoming unable to provide care for those in need. At the same time, there is immense pressure placed on health care facilities where demand for patient care will outpace capacity – things like the number of hospital beds, ventilators and so on – for a significant amount of time.
So yes, even if every person on Earth eventually comes down with COVID-19, there are real benefits to making sure it doesn’t all happen in the next few weeks.
How, then, can people “flatten the curve” via reducing transmission of the coronavirus? At present, with many regions of the United States and other countries seeing community members spreading COVID-19 locally, the world has entered a phase of mitigation to complement efforts to contain its spread.
As a result, we’re left with an old but quite effective strategy: social distancing. It means staying out of close contact in crowded public places, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining space – approximately six feet – between yourself and others when possible.
Social distancing requires changes in how people work, live and interact with each other. It may require canceling or avoiding big events, limiting nonessential travel and rescheduling conferences. Traditional classroom instruction may have to move to online delivery – already happening in some colleges and universities, though less easy to do for K-12 schools.
To be clear, social distancing comes with a substantial economic cost as people aren’t engaged in the same work and life activities that fuel the economy as they were just a month or two ago. As a result, public health and government officials are faced with balancing the public health push to “flatten the curve” with desires to minimize the impact on the economy.
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, public health experts across the world are collecting data and communicating information as fast as possible in an attempt to provide health care providers, research laboratories, public health agencies and policymakers with the knowledge they need to respond to the emerging threat. In the meantime, one of the most important things individuals can do for our collective public health is to listen to the experts and follow their advice.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom recently commented that “We need to remember that with decisive, early action, we can slow down the virus and prevent infections.” We’re not going to stamp out COVID-19. But by not just throwing up our hands and giving up, people can help address the crisis early, preventing COVID-19 from overwhelming the health care system’s capacity to respond effectively.
Matthew McQueen is Director, Public Health Program and Associate Professor of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado Boulder. This article is published courtesy of The Conversation.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Terrorism, Sahel, France, Mali | Homeland Security Newswire

Thirteen French soldiers were killed Monday in a helicopter crash in Mali. The accident has drawn attention to France’s on-going involvement in counterterrorism operations in the Sahel region – a vast, arid, and largely unpopulated region south of the Sahara which covers an area the size of Europe and which has seen an alarming increase in Islamist terrorist activities.
Thirteen French soldiers were killed Monday in a helicopter crash in Mali. The accident has drawn attention to France’s on-going involvement in counterterrorism operations in the Sahel region.
France has deployed its military to Mali on 11 January 2013, after Tuareg separatists joined with al Qaeda-affiliated local Islamists – known as Ansar Dine – in the spring of 2012 to create the breakaway Republic of Azawad in northern Mali.
The French antiterrorist campaign, known as the “Serval” operation, included 1,700 commandos accompanied by planes and helicopters. France decided to intervene in Mali after the Islamists spread out of Azawad and began to move toward the country’s capital Bamako.
On 1 August 2014 the French forces a joint regional military campaign to root out Islamist terrorism from the vast Sahel region. The new initiative, called G5 Sahel (G5 du Sahel), was a framework created by France and five countries in region — Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Chad – to launch a Sahel-wide campaign, called the “Barkhane” operation, aiming to fight Islamists throughout the arid largely unpopulated region. France has increased the number of its troops in the region from 1,700 to 4,500.
The size of the western Sahel region, which the Barkhane operation was supposed to keep free of Islamists, is equal to the size of Europe.
Since 2013, forty-one soldiers have been killed in counterterrorism operations in the Sahel.
Le Figaro reports that the G5 Sahel framework which France and the five African countries agreed to in August 2014 was enhanced in November 2015, when the leaders of the six countries agreed to create a joint military force to fight the Jihadist groups in the region.
The joint military force saw some early success, but it has been dogged from the start by problems relating to financing, organization, staffing, and leadership. Moreover, the militaries of several countries, especially Burkina Faso, have been accused of heavy handedness and excessive violence in dealing with the civilian population.
Le Monde notes that the Barkhane operation is not the only security measure taken by Sahel countries in their effort to fight the Islamists.
On 25 April 2013, the UN Security Council authorized the establishment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), a force of 13,000 peacekeepers deployed to the region beginning 1 July 2013. MINUSMA is funded and monitored by the International Support Mission in Mali (MISMA), which was created by the Economic Community of States of West Africa (ECOWAS).
In February 2013, the EU created the European Training Mission of the Malian Army (EUTM Mali). EUTM Mali deploys about 600 soldiers from the 28 EU countries to Mali, where they train the Malian military and provide intelligence and logistical support, but do not take part in the fighting against the jihadists.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Social media, fake news, disinformation, surveilance | Homeland Security Newswire

Governments around the world are increasingly using social media to manipulate elections and monitor their citizens, tilting the technology toward digital authoritarianism. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year, according to Freedom on the Net 2019, the latest edition of the annual country-by-country assessment of internet freedom, released today by Freedom House.
Freedom House says that adding to the problem of meddling by foreign regimes, a new menace to democracy has risen from within, as populist leaders and their armies of online supporters seek to distort politics at home. Domestic election interference marred the online landscape in 26 of the 30 countries studied that held national votes over the past year. Disinformation was the most commonly used tactic. Authorities in some countries blocked websites or cut off access to the internet in a desperate bid to cling to power.
“Many governments are finding that on social media, propaganda works better than censorship,” said Mike Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “Authoritarians and populists around the globe are exploiting both human nature and computer algorithms to conquer the ballot box, running roughshod over rules designed to ensure free and fair elections.”
Governments from across the democratic spectrum are indiscriminately monitoring citizens’ online behavior to identify perceived threats—and in some cases to silence opposition. Freedom House has found evidence of advanced social media surveillance programs in at least 40 of the 65 countries analyzed.
“Once reserved for the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies, big-data spying tools are making their way around the world,” said Adrian Shahbaz, Freedom House’s research director for technology and democracy. “Advances in AI are driving a booming, unregulated market for social media surveillance. Even in countries with considerable safeguards for fundamental freedoms, there are already reports of abuse.”
The proliferation of sophisticated monitoring tools has reduced people’s ability to freely express themselves and be civically active online. Of the 65 countries assessed in this report, a record 47 featured arrests of users for political, social, or religious speech.
“The future of internet freedom rests on our ability to fix social media,” said Shahbaz. “Since these are mainly American platforms, the United States must be a leader in promoting transparency and accountability in the digital age. This is the only way to stop the internet from becoming a Trojan horse for tyranny and oppression.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Does Killing Terrorist Leaders Make any Change?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
The United States' special force killed ISIS leader (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi), and the group appointed another leader within 24 hours. What does that tell us?

The modern terrorist organization runs a "mission-driven" organization, which is far stronger than the "leadership-driven" movement. The terrorists can connect and freely exchange ideas unhindered irrespective of miles and international boundaries. The new "modus operandi" made it difficult to disrupt terrorist activities just by killing their leaders. Today's terrorist organization has no clear hierarchy.

Killing the head of Al-Shabab in Somalia in 2014 by US drones has not changed anything. Of course, targeting and killing the leaders of the terrorist groups is one of the options but not an effective deterrence. Al-Qaida, ISIS, and other groups have been able to run chains of the website of which they post-ideological beliefs and messages under the toga of religion, which has directly influenced or motivated small collection of individuals scattered all over the world including the United States. Therefore, it worthy to note that the activities of the 21st-century terrorist organization are not built around leaders but mission and purpose.

The most important thing the "superpowers" and government leaders should do is to ensure they prevent radicalization by helping to deal with grievances that are spawning terrorists. For instance,  Africa does not produce weapons that Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab use. The western power should hold to their promise to keep the most dangerous weapons out of terrorist hands.

Friday, 18 October 2019

China, Spying, internet, Great Firewall | Homeland Security Newswire

Those outside the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are accustomed to thinking of the Internet censorship practices of the Chinese state as primarily domestic, enacted through the so-called “Great Firewall”—a system of surveillance and blocking technology that prevents Chinese citizens from viewing websites outside the country. The Chinese government’s justification for that firewall is based on the concept of “Internet sovereignty.” The PRC has long declared that “within Chinese territory, the internet is under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty.”
Hong Kong, as part of the “one country, two systems” agreement, has largely lived outside that firewall: foreign services like Twitter, Google, and Facebook are available there, and local ISPs have made clear that they will oppose direct state censorship of its open Internet.
But the ongoing Hong Kong protests, and mainland China’s pervasive attempts to disrupt and discredit the movement globally, have highlighted that China is not above trying to extend its reach beyond the Great Firewall, and beyond its own borders. In attempting to silence protests that lie outside the Firewall, in full view of the rest of the world, China is showing its hand, and revealing the tools it can use to silence dissent or criticism worldwide.
Some of those tools—such as pressure on private entities, including American corporations NBA and Blizzard—have caught U.S. headlines and outraged customers and employees of those companies. Others have been more technical, and less obvious to the Western observers.
The “Great Cannon” Takes Aim at Sites Outside the FirewallThe Great Cannon is a large-scale technology deployed by ISPs based in China to inject javascript code into customers’ insecure (HTTP) requests. This code weaponizes the millions of mainland Chinese Internet connections that pass through these ISPs. When users visit insecure websites, their browsers will also download and run the government’s malicious javascript—which will cause them to send additional traffic to sites outside the Great Firewall, potentially slowing these websites down for other users, or overloading them entirely.
The Great Cannon’s debut in 2015 took down Github, where Chinese users were hosting anti-censorship software and mirrors of otherwise-banned news outlets like the New York Times. Following widespread international backlash, this attack was halted.
Last month, the Great Cannon was activated once again, aiming this time at Hong Kong protestors. It briefly took down LIHKG, a Hong Kong social media platform central to organizing this summer’s protests.
Targeting the Global Chinese Community Through MalwarePervasive online surveillance is a fact of life within the Chinese mainland. But if the communities the Chinese government wants to surveill aren’t at home, it is increasingly willing to invest in expensive zero-days to watch them abroad, or otherwise hold their families at home hostage.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Visas, social media, privacy | Homeland Security Newswire

Foreigners who decry American imperialism while seeking to relax on Miami’s sandy beaches or play poker at Las Vegas’s casinos may seek to soften their tone on Twitter.
Or foreigners posting on Facebook about someday living in New York City may now decide to take their love for the Big Apple down a notch, lest they be suspected of wanting to stay in the United States permanently.

The reason?
The U.S. State Department is now demanding visa applicants provide their social-media profiles on nearly two dozen platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
The rules, which took effect on May 31, don’t require applicants to turn over passwords to social-media accounts.
Still, immigration lawyers said the demands may stifle open discussion on social media, making prospective immigrants or visitors more cautious about what they post and whom they befriend online.
“People will be afraid to express their opinion on politics of the U.S,” said Andrei Romanenko, a Russian-speaking immigration lawyer based in San Francisco. “Some will fear to add friends living in the U.S. because they may think that an extensive network of friends in the U.S. may become an indicator of immigrant intent.”
Announced last year, the updated rules are part of a wider program by President Donald Trump to tighten the U.S. borders, a campaign promise that helped him get elected in 2016.
Now, most people who are required to obtain a visa — even if it’s just to visit relatives for a few days — are required to share their social-media information on their application form.
The rules don’t apply to people from countries that currently are exempt from short-term visa rules — for example, foreign tourists or business travelers who are allowed to visit the United States for 90 days, visa-free, under the Visa Waiver Program. But individuals seeking employment visas will be required to turn over, say, their LinkedIn profile information.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler and immigrant to the United States undergoes extensive security screening,” the State Department said in a statement to RFE/RL. “We are constantly working to find mechanisms to improve our screening processes to protect U.S. citizens while supporting legitimate travel to the United States.”
20 platformsThe rules now require applicants to share their social-media handles or identifiers used in the past five years for the following platforms: Ask FM, Douban, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, MySpace, Pinterest, QZone, Reddit, Sina Weibo, Tencent


Visas, social media, privacy | Homeland Security Newswire

Deportations. immigration, illegal immigration | Homeland Security Newswire

On Monday, President Trump tweeted that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States” next week. Can this really happen? How soon? And what would that look like?

This isn’t the first time Trump has threatened to deport undocumented immigrants on a massive scale. Shortly after his inauguration, Trump pledged to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants with “criminal records” during an interview with CBS News. That didn’t happen then. And the reality on the ground is far more complicated now. 
What is ICE’s record of arrests and deportation?There are an estimated 11.3 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
In fiscal year 2018, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations(ERO) made 158,581 arrests  while recording 256,085 ICE removals — an increase from both 2016 and 2017, but a sharp decrease from its peak of 409,849 removals in fiscal year 2012.
Why Trump’s threat is questionableBut even if the president attempted to stay true to his word, there are not nearly enough ICE agents available to conduct an operation of this scale. As the Washington Post reported, such a plan would require weeks of planning, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of agents and law enforcement personnel, who have already been spread thin due to budget limitations and concentrated efforts along the U.S.-Mexico border. Adding to the miscommunication, ICE — which normally does not publicize its operations in advance — appeared to be caught off-guard by the announcement.  
Deportations. immigration, illegal immigration | Homeland Security Newswire

Monday, 17 June 2019

Boko Haram Cyber Jihadists and New Face of Terror

Dr. Oludare Ogunlana, speaking at St. John's University, New York, June 12, 2019
On Monday, June 10, 2019, the Nigerian Army confirmed the killing of nine “social media personalities” of the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP). The news came as I was preparing to provide an insight into a new topic entitled: “Stopping Boko Haram/ISWAP Cyber jihadists with Cybersecurity Technologies” at the annual conference of International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE) held at prestigious St. John’s University,  New York.
Since a faction of Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in November 2014, the group has adopted the ISIS doctrine of information warfare. As noted by Chalie Winter in ICSR report, the ISIS group considered new media to be a powerful weapon, which, if leveraged correctly, has “far-reaching” power, which surpasses the most powerful bombs in the world. The purpose is to incites activism by venerating information warfare in a manner unmatched by any other Salafi-jihadist actor. As documented in the ISIS manual, propaganda production and dissemination is at a point considered to be more important than military jihad.
In April 2016, ISIS released a document via Secure Telegram channel entitled “Media Operative, You Are a Mujahid, Too.” The group appealed to its followers to participate based on ideology, theology, and emotion. Take a look at the extracts below from the manual:
“A gun can kill a heartbeat, but a camera can give life to thousands of hearts.”
“To every media operative brother in the Islamic State, you should know and be convinced of the following fact, [that] the media is a jihad in the way of Allah [and that] you, with your media work, are therefore a mujahid in the way of Allah.”
“Inciting others to join the jihad is tantamount to engaging in the jihad oneself, as is steering others towards it and opening their eyes to it. The one who incites is a mujahid in the way of Allah the Almighty.”
The 21st-century terrorists would be sophisticated with the capability to use media technologies to cause extreme damage.
Terrorist organizations, including Boko Haram/ISWAP, would always take advantage of the media to propagate their violent ideologies.
Meanwhile, Information and communication technologies have created a new avenue of terrorism; they also provide modes for defense. The technological approach complemented with other strategies is the future of the fight against the expansion of extremist ideology, mobilization, coordination, and terrorist influence in cyberspace.
We commend the effort of Nigerian Security/Military personnel at the frontline, defending and fighting tirelessly despite all the challenges. The tricky thing is that the security must win all the time while terrorists need a day of luck to cause havoc. Meanwhile, the government of Nigeria must understand who they are fighting to enable military/security planners rightly diagnose the problem. The Boko Haram/ISWAP is where it is today because of strategic, innovative thinking, not just technological advances. Hence, the government and its military must be equally as creative and strategic-minded in its approach towards counter-communications and use of cybersecurity technologies to stop the enemies in cyberspace. Several technological mitigation tools could be implemented, including content monitoring and the use of cyber surveillance technology. The use of Intelligence and cyber mitigation strategies with the application of technologies could be used to achieve the goals of prevention, deterrence, detection, and response.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Local to Global: Intelligence Cooperation and Education

Dr. Oludare Ogunlana of Council for African Security Affairs (CASA) will join several other speakers at the Fifteenth IAFIE annual Conference scheduled for, June 9, to 12, 2019 at St. John's University, Queens New York. The title of the presentation is “Stopping Boko Haram/ISWAP in Cyberspace with Cybersecurity technologies.”
Intelligence educators from around the world will come together once again to share best practices and theory. As stated on the organization website (www.iafie.org), the 15th Annual IAFIE conference will focus on the theme: “Local to Global: Intelligence Cooperation and Education." 

IAFIE is a professional organization consisting of representatives from various intelligence disciplines and academia to serve as the association for advancing research, knowledge, and professional development in intelligence education. This group, from different intelligence disciplines which comprises of national security, law enforcement, and competitive intelligence, identified the need for a professional association that could span diverse disciplines, provide resources, and acts as a catalyst for the development of Intelligence Studies programs.

The cost of attending the 15th Annual IAFIE conference 2019 is $350 for members, while $600 is for non-members and $100 for students.  Please, check the association website at www.iafie.org for conference agenda and other information.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Tackling the Scourge of Kidnapping in Nigeria

Evans- Notorious Kidnapping suspect under investigation
Kidnapping for personal or financial gain is on the rise in Nigeria and has become an everyday occurrence. It is so worrisome to the extent that even police officers were abducted, and the agency was forced to purchase freedom for their men. These are not political violence but a criminal act that require competent security agencies to respond and defeat the crooks. Criminals have never been this audacious in the history of Nigeria. There is no gainsaying in the fact that without an effective security organization with the capability to tackle and crush the kidnapping epidemic, economic development becomes extremely difficult.

At the moment, kidnapping is widespread in the Northern part of Nigeria; while Boko Haram terrorist group abduct young girls for ransom in the North East, the bandits that operate in the North West axis keep, targeting the rich, famous, including poor people in the society for monetary gain. From Zamfara to Sokoto, Kebbi, and Kaduna, the story is all the same. Recalled the Chairman of the Board Universal Basic Education Commissions (UBEC), Muhammed Mahmood and his daughter were kidnapped along the Kaduna-Abuja Road and the authority paid an undisclosed amount of money before their abductors released them. In the same route, some student activists were abducted and paid as low as fifteen thousand naira ($41 equivalent) each to regain freedom. It is funny, but the bandits collect money from people based on their worth. It is a business. While there are no official estimates of the numbers of kidnappings, and many are never reported but the reality in Nigeria of today is that everyone lives in fear of kidnapping for ransom irrespective of status.

Recently, a Professor at Obafemi Awolowo was kidnapped in the South West of Nigeria, and the University paid five million naira ($14000 equivalent) to secure his freedom. The victim described his abductors as herdsmen, the same people who have been kidnapping, killing and raping people across the nation. This is just to mention a few out of numerous high-profile kidnapping for profit in Nigeria.

Kidnapping as National epidemic

KIDNAPPING is the illegal seizure and holding of a person for ransom. It happens everywhere in Nigeria. Leadership failure, ineffective law enforcement, Poverty, unemployment, lack of opportunity for youth and decline in societal values are mainly responsible. Kidnapping is an act caused by criminal action; it is traumatic and could result in loss of life if not carefully and rationally responded to. Also, it has a severe destabilizing effect on the affected family and Nigeria at large that could have serious international repercussions.

Kidnapping in Nigeria comes in two categories; political kidnappers and criminal kidnappers. Of course, the varieties do overlap; sometimes all two general types are incorporated in on the case. The political kidnappers or terrorists have publicity in mind to achieve a political goal. The actors kidnap to force governments or those with money and power to implement some change or act. Remember Leah Sharibu and schoolgirls abducted in 2014. Primarily, Nigeria is dealing with criminal kidnappers, and the agenda of the criminal kidnapper is to make quick money.  The most alarming and disturbing form of kidnapping in Nigeria is those who kidnap for ritual purposes.  Uncountable numbers of children, women, and men have been abducted without traces, and the deed is ongoing.  Unlike political kidnappers who kidnap for political agenda, dialogue and show of weakness on the part of the government may not yield a positive result.

What to do

The Nigerian government claims security agencies are working hard; fighting terrorism on the one hand and dealing with bandits and organize crimes all over the country. The presidency has initiated dialogues with herdsmen and Cattle breeders association to find common ground. Also, President Buhari has given a marching order to the head police and military to bring everything under control.
First, the Nigeria government must understand who they are fighting to identify the best approach to adopt. You cannot beg a thief not to steal your properties as long as there is an opportunity is there to do so. At this point, containment is necessary through the rapid application of force, and adequate law enforcement to deter the criminals. The government must use all the acceptable instrument of law to overcome this menace. Hence, engaging in such dialogue with criminals and their sponsors may not yield result.
Meanwhile, the government should move faster by empowering police with funding and equipment to fight the bandits. Intelligence is the life and blood of effective policing. The law enforcement agencies should work with the community to identify the criminals and bring them to book. Citizens should have the confidence to provide actionable information to Police without fear of becoming a victim. The reality of today is Nigerians are afraid of volunteering information to police for lack of confidence. Also, the government should as a matter of urgency device a way to mop up the small arms in the circulation. How and where the bandits are getting the weapons, the use remains issue to resolve.

Confront Insider Threats

Experience has shown that criminals have people within law enforcement, Military, and community working for them. The police and army must find a method to deal with malicious insiders within their organization who collude or work with the bandits. It was evident that most operations of the criminals were successful because of collaboration with those who supposed to protect citizens. There has been a rumor that some of them may be providing information and weapons assistance to bandits/kidnappers and share part of the money collected from victims. It is time for police leadership to look inward to identify the bad eggs and purge them out of the service.

Citizen Awareness

There is no easy solution. Currently, the political office holders travel by train from Abuja to Kaduna while top business executives from the region move around with a minimum of four armed guards. Even, the men of God (Pastors, Imam and Sheik) who are supposed to trust God for their security now rely on armed law enforcement officers for protection. The clergies and not taking things for granted.  Over time, the insecurity in Nigeria and the need for personal protection has shifted the additional burden on the overstretched Nigerian Police workforce. The police have a constitutional role in maintaining law and order and protecting ordinary citizens. At this point, the government must intensify efforts to educate her citizen, empower police to mitigate the crisis and improve on good governance to reduce poverty and those conditions that make young people turn to criminal activities.


Dr. Oludare Ogunlana is a Security Expert and writes from Washington DC.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Nigerian government website found to be infected with a DHL phishing page -Cyware

  • The website belonging to the Nigerian National Assembly contained a fraudulent web page that asked DHL credentials from the victims.
  • The page is connected to a phishing kit active since June 2017 which is used by many attackers.
A Nigerian government website was compromised by attackers to host a phishing page to steal DHL users' credentials. According to MalwareHunterTeam who discovered this phishing instance on the site of Nigerian National Assembly (NASS), the fraudulent page was operating for more than two weeks.
With Nigeria having a maligned history with online frauds, the latest incident indicates that even government sites are not spared.
Worth noting
  • MalwareHunterTeam (MHT) also identified a number of malicious URLs impersonating NASS possibly linked to other phishing activities.
  • Some of these sites also evaded anti-phishing measures set up in most computer systems.
  • MHT said that the phishing kit connected to these sites was active since 2017 as well as was used by many attackers.
  • The fake DHL page was shoddily designed and also displayed a “Norton Secured” picture next to the DHL logo.
  • The fields for credentials showed an error if a user enters his/her email and password registered under DHL.
Why it matters?
BleepingComputer, which reported on this DHL phishing scam, suggested that user credentials might be up for sale in the dark web. “No matter how many times credentials are submitted, there's the same outcome. Once they get them, cybercriminals can sell them on underground forums for as little as $10 apiece,” it reported.
On the other hand, malicious sites posing as NASS are also believed to provide grounds for other malicious activities apart from phishing

Ryan Stewart

Ryan is a senior cybersecurity and privacy analyst. He keenly follows the innovation and development in cybersecurity technologies, and loves to educate everyone about the what, why, and how of major incidents in the cybersecurity world.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Media suppression and CNN effect

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Dapchi: CASA Seeks Independent Investigation, Tasks Buhari on Release of Schoolgirls - thisdaylive.com

Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Council for African Security Affairs (CASA) has called on the Nigerian government to allow for independent investigation of the abduction of schoolgirls by the Boko Haram terrorist group in Yobe State.

CASA in a statement made available Saturday by its Secretary, Mr. Oludare Ogunlana, also called on President Muhammadu Buhari for the immediate release of the missing girls.


 
The group also appealed to Boko Haram to release the affected children immediately without any condition for humanitarian sake.

But Ogunlana said “the Nigerian government must use all instruments of power in her possession, including diplomatic, law enforcement and military to secure the release of the kidnapped schoolgirls.

“One of the campaign promises of President Buhari is to defend the nation against an external and internal adversary like Boko Haram. Hence, the deeds must be equal to words because if a leader says he will act against a terrorist threat, then he must act. Failure to act against a credible terrorist threat does considerable damage to a nation’s credibility and its international reputation.”

He said the attack in the North East zone of Nigeria requires an independent investigation to establish the cause of the incident and clear the suspicion of Internal collaboration threats and conspiracy between some bad eggs within the government circles, the military and Boko Haram.

Ogunlana said it was embarrassing that the kidnapping occurred despite credible and actionable intelligence provided to the Federal government, Army and other security agencies by its own Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

To this end, he called on the International Community, especially the United Nations, to investigate the cause of the incident.

He further stated: “Nigerians are fast losing confidence in their leaders for not being able to deliver good governance and protect the innocent citizens from incessant terrorists’ attacks. As a responsible government, someone must be held responsible and accountable for the recent incident because the evidence was overwhelming to support the fact that Boko Haram group was about to kidnap the girls, but the government failed to act on that credible intelligence. Terrorists will always strike, it is not a surprise but how our leaders handle the situation is of primary concern to everybody and the international community.

“While the government is yet to secure the entire release of the Chibok girls despite large ransom being paid to the terrorist group by the President Buhari-led administration, the recent abduction of 110 girls in Dapchi shows that Nigerian government never learned from the past. The recent occurrence shows the level of gross negligence, incompetence and apparent example of leadership failure at all levels, including both the political class and top military hierarchy who failed to act when it was necessary. Nigeria should wake up and learn from the past mistakes.

“Today, the Boko Haram terrorist group and other militias like Fulani Herdsmen are emboldened due to lack of coherence in government approach to national security, including lack of commitment and comprehensive security policy to prevent, deter and respond to common crimes and incident of terrorism

“Furthermore, there is an apparent lack of coordination and cooperation between, military, police and the state government. The refusal of the Buhari-led administration to release the fund to security and military agencies to perform their operational, and strategic responsibility such as training, intelligence gathering, acquisition of military hardware and payment of necessary risk allowances to men and officers risking their lives to defend the nation is worrisome.

“This kind of lack of commitment on the part of the federal government to fund the Military and law enforcement agencies has galvanised the level of incompetence and low morale among the security personnel.”

CASA said Nigerian government must realise that the war against terrorism cannot be won through lies and propaganda; and that the government must unite Nigerians behind its efforts.

The war on terror, he said, remains a generational struggle, and the entire nation must be engaged and prepared to participate in this effort.

Culled from www.thisdaylive.com/

Friday, 24 November 2017

285 killed, 300 wounded in terrorist attack in Egypt - Homeland Security Newswire

A packed mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai was attacked by gunman earlier today, at the height of Friday prayers. The gunmen set off explosives and opened fire, killing at least 285 people and wounding about 300 in the deadliest ever attack on Egyptian civilians by Islamic terrorists.
The Guardian reports that the attack took place at the Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, about forty kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of el-Arish.
The Sinai has seen repeated deadly attacks by Islamist militants in the last four years.
Sky News Arabia said Egyptian military forces had destroyed two vehicles carrying perpetrators of the attack.
An army spokesperson told the TV network that unmanned drones had attacked two cars in a desert area called al-Risha, killing fifteen militants. He added that the hunt for other perpetrators was ongoing.
Witnesses said the attackers surrounded the mosque with all-terrain vehicles, then planted a bomb outside. The gunmen then mowed down the panicked worshipers as they attempted to flee, and used the congregants’ own vehicles to prevent rescuers and police from getting near the mosque.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi convened his security ministers to deal with the attack.
Egyptian officials said men in four off-road vehicles detonated an explosive device at the mosque during the sermon at Friday prayers, then opened fire on worshipers as they fled the building. After killing or wounding most of those fleeing the attack, a few of the militants entered the mosque and shot dozens of wounded worshippers who were trapped inside the building.
Other militants remained outside, shooting at ambulances which tried to pick up the wounded.
The Guardian notes that ISIS’s Egyptian branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, and also civilians accused of working with the authorities, in attacks in the north of the Sinai Peninsula. They have also targeted followers of the mystical Sufi branch of Sunni Islam as well as Christians.
The Egyptian military has struggled to defeat the jihadists, and in the past few months has increased cooperation with the Israeli military.
Until recently, the jihadists targeted mostly soldiers and members of Egypt’s security forces, but since earlier this year have increasingly turned to civilian targets, attacking not only Christians and Sufis but also Bedouin Sinai inhabitants accused of working with the Egyptian army.

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