Morning Security Brief: Drone Strike Criteria, Al Qaeda After Bin Laden, Mystery Illness at MoD Headquarters, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►White House Counter-Terrorism Adviser, John Brennan recently discussed the processes for authorizing a drone strike. Until now, what goes into the decision has mostly remained mystery, but President Barack Obama has asked that Brennan’s team be more open about how and when the U.S. dispatches drones. The U.S. uses a “threat threshold” to gauge if a person can be targeted. Another factor is if the target has “unique operational skills that are being leveraged in a planned attack,” Brennan said in a briefing.

►Al Qaeda is considerably weaker, but a year after his death, Osama bin Laden’s ideology is “thriving” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, says Uday Bhaskar, former Director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, in a column for Reuters. Bhaskar says recent kidnappings and assassinations show the group still aims to exert influence in the region. He also notes that affiliates who subscribe to the al Qaeda ideology have become both more virulent and more determined. “There are pockets where the al Qaeda and its adherents appear to be gaining in local power and influence with the existing state machinery either unable or unwilling to quarantine them and their ideologies,” Bhaskar wrote.

►The British Army Land Forces headquarters, Britain’s main intelligence base, was evacuated after a suspected biochemical attack which was later disproved. Ministry of Defence officials launched an investigation after four staff members collapsed suddenly with “violent flu-like symptoms.” Officials later determined that there was no foul play. The incident highlighted the risk posed to security forces by bioterror attacks. “This would be an ideal place to attack as it could cripple the Army’s ability to respond to a major emergency. And a biochemical attack is a serious risk as it is relatively easy and cheap to carry out,” a source told the Daily Star. The incident was deemed not suspicious, however, the cause of the sudden illness has not been diagnosed.

►In other news, the DHS inspector general’s office opens its own inquiry to the Secret Service prostitution scandal. ♦ The DEA publishes tips on what to do if you encounter a clandestine meth lab. ♦ And a Sikh advocacy group this week launched a free mobile app that allows travelers to file a complaint with TSA if they feel they've been treated unfairly by airport screeners. The app is called FlyRights and is available for the iPhone and Android devices. 




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