Security Round Up

ISIS terrorists used vehicles to crash into pedestrians on Barcelona's Las Ramblas promenade on Thursday and in the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils early Friday. Some 13 people were killed and some 100 people were injured in the van rampage through Las Ramblas. Later, a man was found stabbed to death in another vehicle believed related to the Barcelona attack. Earlier Spanish police confirmed that they were still hunting for Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, suspected of driving a van into people on Las Rambles. But today, police have reportedly shot and killed Younes Abouyaaqoub and he is said to have been wearing a fake bomb belt.

Friday’s Cambrils vehicle attack resulted in one killed, and six injured, with all five attackers shot dead by police. After their vehicle crashed, the ISIS terrorists dismounted the car for hacking and slashing attacks on survivors with edged weapons, before being neutralized by police. The attackers in Cambrils also wore fake bomb belts or vests to complicate the police response. The attacks followed an explosion at a home in Alcazar linked to failed bomb-making efforts on Wednesday killing three people. It is worth noting that the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks are like June’s London Bridge Borough Market attack in that the attackers are Moroccan, rented their vehicles, planned to carryout edged weapons attacks after the vehicle rampage, and wore fake suicide belts to complicate police reaction.

It was reported that the Imam suspected of masterminding the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks had links to the al-Qaeda terrorist cell behind the 2004 Madrid bombings. Abdelbaki Es Satty, 40, who is thought to have inspired the men who attacked Las Ramblas and Cambrils last Thursday had previously reportedly shared an apartment with Mohammed Mrabet Fahsi, an al-Qaeda recruiter. Questions are being raised about whether he should have been monitored after reports that he was in Belgium between January and March last year, just before ISIS attacked Brussels airport and Maalbeek metro station, killing 32 people.

Supporters of ISIS took to Twitter to claim credit for two crashes that occurred this morning in two locations in the French city of Marseilles, after a van crashed into two bus stops with one person being killed. French police arrested a man after the second, fatal, collision. It is currently, not believed to be terror-related.

A knife attack that killed two people and wounded eight others in southwestern Finland is being investigated as an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack apparently aimed at women.

African Union and Somali government forces have captured the town of Bariire, a strategic al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militant base in the south of the country.

Lebanese intelligence foiled an ISIS plot to bring down an airliner with bombs hidden inside a Barbie doll and a meat grinder. Lebanese police intelligence stopped the explosive device plot on the Emirati flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi. The suspect, Amer Khayyat, tried to take two explosive devices onto the plane in the event that one did not detonate successfully. As well, it was reported that three Lebanese soldiers were killed during an offensive to take back areas along the Syrian border from ISIS on Sunday.

Russia's Air Force has reportedly destroyed a large column of ISIS fighters on their way to the Syrian city of Deir al-Zor, killing over 200 militants.

Iraqi forces are poised, along with their Kurdish allies, to storm Tal Afar, the last ISIS stronghold in Iraq with 1500 ISIS militants trapped in the besieged city.

US President, Donald Trump, in a national address, will update America on the “path forward for engagement in Afghanistan and South Asia tonight. It was announced that US Central Command CENTCOM Commander, General, Joseph Votel, on Saturday departed after his two-day visit to Pakistan with an “increased understanding of the counterterrorism and counter-insurgency efforts of the Pakistani government.”

A UN investigation has found that Taliban insurgents and local “self-proclaimed" ISIS militants jointly killed at least 36 people in a northern Afghan village earlier this month.

Afghanistan’s elite Special Operations Forces officially transitioned from a division to a corps strength, as part of a four-year security plan aimed at improving the country's security forces.

Venezuela’s political crisis has deepened after President Nicolás Maduro’s new government “superbody” stripped the opposition-held Parliament of its legislative powers and the Attorney General accused the President of corruption.

Iranian lawmakers on Sunday approved 16 Cabinet members nominated by recently re-elected President Hassan Rouhani, including the first Defense Minister, General Amir Hatami, unaffiliated with the elite, hard-line Revolutionary Guard in 25 years.

China's People's Liberation Army's (PLA) has conducted military exercises in an unknown location to "strike awe in India amid tensions in Doklam to lay the ground for plateau warfare." More than 10 PLA units from the 'western theater command' participated in the drills.

Japan on Saturday launched an H-2A rocket carrying its third geo-positioning satellite into orbit. Japan's geo-positioning satellites are part of its plan to build a version of the US global positioning system (GPS) to offer location information used for autopiloting and possible national security purposes.

The US destroyer USS John S. McCain has arrived at Changi Naval Base in Singapore after a collision at sea with a commercial tanker that has left 10 crew-members missing and five others wounded. It is the second major collision involving a US destroyer with the US 7th Fleet in recent months, following the June 17th collision involving the destroyer USS Fitzgerald off the coast of Japan, in which seven sailors died.

As well, the USS Louisiana in 2016 and USS Lake Champlain in 2017 had similar accidents, leading some to question whether the US Navy in the Pacific has been a victim of cyberattack. China and Russia have successfully demonstrated an at sea cyber capability and North Korea has an advanced cyberwarfare capability.

The Commander of US Pacific Command (PACOM), Admiral Harry Harris, arrived in Seoul on Sunday, ahead of the start of an annual large-scale joint military exercise between the two countries on Monday amid tensions with North Korea. Pyongyang has warned that the joint US-South Korean military exercises could lead to a "uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war." The Hermit kingdom also warned of a "merciless strike" ahead of US-South Korea military exercises. China has shifted the focus of its naval exercises from the South China Sea to the northeastern Yellow Sea off the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has opened floodgates of a dam on the border with South Korea, leading water levels to rise rapidly. Observers expect North Korea to test-fire a Pukkuksong-1 KN-11 Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) and potentially others in the next few days.