November 15, 2013 in Featured
An updated instruction issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in October 2012 incorporates significantly modified language in numerous sections of the document that describe the process for estimating collateral damage prior to conducting drone strikes and other military actions. These subtle, but important changes in wording provide insight into the military’s attempts to limit expectations in regards to minimizing collateral damage and predicting the lethal effects of military operations.
October 22, 2013 in Featured
A statistical analysis of school shootings released in August by the Los Angeles Joint Regional Intelligence Center (LAJRIC) studied school shootings throughout the U.S. from January 2008 to August 2013. In that five-year span, there were 85 school shootings that took place in 29 states, a majority of the country, with most states experiencing between one and three incidents over the last five years. California ranked highest with 18 incidents, followed by Michigan and Tennessee. The majority of school shootings, about 52%, took place at high schools, with the rest equally distributed between colleges/universities and elementary/middle schools.
October 16, 2013 in Featured
A joint bulletin issued in early August by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI warns state and local law enforcement agencies to look out for people in possession of “large amounts” of weapons and ammunition, describing the discovery of “unusual amounts” of weapons as a potential indicator of criminal or terrorist activity.
August 21, 2013 in Featured
Analysis conducted by the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange (CFIX) has found that 79% of mass shootings since 2011 have been perpetrated by individuals with “demonstrated signs of continuous behavioral health issues and mental illness.” In a July case study titled “Acts of Violence Attributed by Behavioral and Mental Health Issues”, CFIX analyzed 14 mass shooting incidents that occurred between 2011 and 2013 finding that only three of the shooters had no history of mental illness.
August 15, 2013 in Featured
Since June, advanced persistent threat (APT) actors have been targeting the aviation industry and attempting to extract confidential information by sending “spear-phishing” emails designed to trick recipients into opening malicious attachments or follow links to infected websites. According to an FBI Cyber Division bulletin from July 8, “individuals associated with the air travel industry” have received an increased number of spear-phishing emails often using spoofed senders “in an attempt to make the e-mail appear more legitimate.”
August 9, 2013 in Featured
An organization representing police chiefs from major cities around the U.S. is promoting an initiative to strengthen intelligence collection at the local level, increasing the integration of state and local law enforcement into the larger structure of the U.S. intelligence community.
July 30, 2013 in Featured
In a restricted report issued in May, the DEA detailed the most recent findings from its heroin monitoring program, assessing the period from 2006 -2011. The report finds that heroin in the U.S. generally comes from two different places: South America and Mexico. If you live east of the Mississippi River, chances are that the heroin you’re buying is from South America. Heroin purchased on the West Coast is almost certainly trafficked from Mexico. Some heroin from Southwest Asia does make it to the U.S. However, the amount is minimal compared to other sources and the quality is relatively poor.
June 17, 2013 in Featured
The Department of Homeland Security and FBI are warning law enforcement and security personnel around the country that online tools, search engines and corporate websites are a potential source of information for “malicious actors” seeking to plan terrorist attacks.
April 11, 2013 in Featured
The Department of Defense has issued an instruction clarifying the rules for the involvement of military forces in civilian law enforcement. The instruction establishes “DoD policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides procedures for DoD support to Federal, State, tribal, and local civilian law enforcement agencies, including responses to civil disturbances within the United States.” The new instruction titled “Defense Support of Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies” was released at the end of February, replacing several older directives on military assistance to civilian law enforcement and civil disturbances. The instruction requires that senior DoD officials develop “procedures and issue appropriate direction as necessary for defense support of civilian law enforcement agencies in coordination with the General Counsel of the Department of Defense, and in consultation with the Attorney General of the United States”, including “tasking the DoD Components to plan for and to commit DoD resources in response to requests from civil authorities for [civil disturbance operations].” Military officials are to coordinate with “civilian law enforcement agencies on policies to further DoD cooperation with civilian law enforcement agencies” and the heads of the combatant commands are instructed to issue procedures for “establishing local contact points in subordinate commands for purposes of coordination with Federal, State, tribal, and local civilian law enforcement officials.”
March 26, 2013 in Featured
The U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) is warning military personnel to avoid becoming victims of online sextortion scams using “sexual images (obtained either through enticement or malicious code)” to extort money from unsuspecting victims. “Cyber sextortion” is described as a growing problem among the military services with incidents being reported by “all Military Criminal Investigative Organizations” involving service members located at bases all over the world. The AFOSI report, released in February on a restricted basis, was recently posted online on the document-sharing website Scribd.
March 19, 2013 in Featured
The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) is warning law enforcement and first responders that urban exploration, an activity that involves trying to gain access to restricted or abandoned man-made structures, can provide useful information for terrorists conducting surveillance of a potential target. Also known as “building hacking”, urban exploration has been around in its modern form for decades, tracing some its more recent history to post-war exploration of the Parisian catacombs and members of MIT’s Tech Model Railroad Club Signals and Power Subcommittee, who organized explorations of steam tunnels and rooftops around campus in the late 1950s.
March 1, 2013 in Featured
A document issued last month by the Department of Homeland Security identifies priorities for the collection of suspicious activity reports from local communities around the U.S. The document describes”topics of interest” identified by DHS Intelligence and Analysis (DHS/I&A) analysts as priorities for the Winter 2013 period that should be utilized by “law enforcement, first responders, and other homeland security professionals” to improve their reporting of suspicious activity.
January 22, 2013 in Featured
Despite the U.S. military’s massive spending each year on advanced communications technology, the use of simple text chat or tactical chat has outpaced other systems to become one of the most popular paths for communicating practical information on the battlefield. Though the use of text chat by the U.S. military first began in the early 1990s, in recent years tactical chat has evolved into a “primary ‘comms’ path, having supplanted voice communications as the primary means of common operational picture (COP) updating in support of situational awareness.” An article from January 2012 in the Air Land Sea Bulletin describes the value of tactical chat as an effective and immediate communications method that is highly effective in distributed, intermittent, low bandwidth environments which is particularly important with “large numbers of distributed warfighters” who must “frequently jump onto and off of a network” and coordinate with other coalition partners. Text chat also provides “persistency in situational understanding between those leaving and those assuming command watch duties” enabling a persistent record of tactical decision making.
January 10, 2013 in Featured
An FBI analysis of active shooter incidents since 2002 found that 96% of the attacks were perpetrated by males, most of which acted alone. The statistic is found in a joint intelligence bulletin released at the end of December by the Department of Homeland Security and FBI. The bulletin provides brief advice on crisis response and long-term protective measures as well as statistics related to past active shooter incidents, which are defined as situations where one or more individuals participates in a “random or systematic killing spree demonstrating their intent to harm others with a firearm.” Active shooters are distinguished from other “traditional criminal acts, such as robbery or hostage-taking” by their intention to commit “mass murder”. The FBI analyzed 154 active shooter events in the United States between 2002 and 2012 that included three or more individuals being shot.
January 7, 2013 in Featured
Four days after the mass shooting last July in Aurora, Colorado, a project of the Houston Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security called Ready Houston released a training video to help educate members the public about how to survive a mass shooting. The six-minute video, which was produced with $200,000 from the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative, includes a dramatic recreation of a man dressed entirely in black walking into an office building and beginning to shoot people at random with a shotgun that he pulls from a small satchel. Variously described as “outlandish”, “surreal” and “over-the-top”, the video has met with mixed responses since it was re-released by several fusion centers and local agencies, including most recently the Alabama Department of Homeland Security.
December 11, 2012 in Featured
What kind of “suspicious” behaviors might put you in the sights of your local fusion center? A collection of Fusion Liaison Officer (FLO) reports from the Washington State Fusion Center (WSFC) obtained by police accountability activist Andrew Charles Hendricks via a Washington Public Records Act request provide insight into the mechanics of suspicious activity reporting at the local level. More than a dozen reports, which are minimally redacted, detail monthly reporting by the WSFC to its “statewide network of agency-selected law enforcement, fire-fighting and critical infrastructure agency representatives” that ensure “vital disciplines are incorporated into the fusion process by serving as the conduit through which homeland security and crime related information flows to the WSFC for assessment and analysis through the state homeland security Regional Intelligence Groups.” According to the State of Washington, the “end state” of the FLO program “is to have FLOs throughout the state in all aspects of law enforcement, fire service and critical infrastructure” to facilitate the flow of information both to and from the state fusion center.
November 28, 2012 in Featured
A collection of documents recently obtained and published by Public Intelligence provides a complete guide to NATO’s training process for “strategic communications” activities, including public diplomacy, public affairs, information operations and psychological operations. The documents, compiled for participants in a NATO training summit, describe the doctrine behind strategic communications and provide practical examples of their use in a number of recent conflicts from Libya to Afghanistan. These activities are designed to contribute “positively and directly in achieving the successful implementation of NATO operations, missions, and activities” as well as “influence the perceptions, attitudes and behaviour of target audiences . . . with the goal of achieving political or military objectives”.
November 26, 2012 in Featured
Last Friday, officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) hosted a teleconference with the directors of fusion centers around the country as well as the Major City Intelligence Commanders across to discuss the “heightened tensions in the Middle East due to the on-going military actions between Israel and Hamas.” A bulletin from the New York State Intelligence Center (NYSIC) described the conference call, stating that the DHS and FBI representatives emphasized that there is “currently no credible or specific information suggesting any violent actions in the United States as a result of these tensions” but requested increased vigilance from “law enforcement in regions where Jewish consulates or large Jewish populations exist was encouraged, and law enforcement officials on the teleconference from those areas discussed measures being taken to ensure the safety and security of their local communities, which included increased law enforcement presence, community outreach and encouraging reporting of suspicious activities.”
October 22, 2012 in Featured
If you’re trying to set up an untraceable shell corporation, your best bet may no no longer be a tax haven or some far away island nation. According to a surprising new study, developed countries like the U.S. and Canada are among the easiest places in the world to set up the kind of anonymous shell corporation that could be used for money laundering, terrorist financing and other nefarious activities. In contrast, known tax havens like the Seychelles, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands all present far more obstacles to the establishment of untraceable corporate structures due to their more stringent compliance with international regulations. In fact, the study found that U.S.-based incorporation services provide one of the easiest routes to establishing an anonymous shell corporation, with only Kenya surpassing the U.S. in terms of noncompliance.
October 16, 2012 in Featured
Casualties resulting from the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have risen significantly in 2012 according to statistics from the Department of Defense’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). Over a 25-month period from August 2010 through August 2012, JIEDDO found that global IED casualties reached their peak in May 2012 with approximately 1800 people wounded and nearly 600 killed in that month alone.
October 9, 2012 in Featured
The Department of Homeland Security’s production of domestic intelligence has increased substantially over the last few years according to a brochure of “intelligence products” published last month by Cryptome. The 2012 DHS Intelligence Enterprise Product Line Brochure is “a standardized catalogue of intelligence reports and products that represent the full breadth” of the agency’s analytical capabilities. It provides descriptions of each type of product created by the DHS Intelligence Enterprise as well as the classification level and instructions on how DHS “customers” can obtain the products.
September 14, 2012 in Featured
An assessment from the U.S. Bomb Data Center describes how criminal bombers have “exploited their victims’ sense of greed or general curiosity by hiding improvised explosive devices (IEDs) inside common everyday items and leaving them as discarded merchandise to be found by the victim.” Written in late May following a string of flashlight bombings in Arizona, the assessment highlights a historical trend used by criminal bombers to lure unsuspecting victims by placing bombs in everything from electric razors to abandoned tackle boxes.
September 11, 2012 in Featured
The problem of civilian casualties in Afghanistan has presented substantial tactical difficulties for coalition forces according to a recent U.S. Army handbook. Produced by the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) and released to soldiers on a restricted basis in June, the handbook presents best practices for reducing civilian casualties (CIVCAS) and offers strategies for mitigating negative effects from casualties among local populations.