Morning Security Brief: Maritime Drug Bust, Chinese Surveillance, Al-Shabaab Sanctions, and More

By Carlton Purvis

►The Coast Guard made an extremely large bust that netted almost 8 tons of cocaine from a sunk narco submarine in the Caribbean. Initially the sub had been spotted from the air on July 13. The Coast Guard dispatched a team to intercept the vessel. The crew of the sub started scuttling the vessel as a Coast Guard cutter and helicopter approached. Dramatic Coast Guard video obtained by ABC shows the men jumping from the sinking sub into an inflatable life raft. As the men are taken into custody, the sub sinks into the ocean. The underwater location of the sub was unknown until the recovery mission this past week located it. It has taken at least four days to recover the 7.5 tons of cocaine that was headed for the United States.

►Beijing police have ordered supermarkets and shopping malls to install security cameras as the country seeks to expand its already large surveillance network. The number of surveillance cameras in China is estimated to be in the millions. One researcher says 10 million were added in the year 2010 alone. “There are cameras on streets and in stores, in university classrooms and outside the doors of dissidents. In March, Beijing roused disquiet in the arts world when it mooted plans to spend 5.57m yuan on cameras to monitor performances in venues such as cinemas and theatres,” the Guardian reports. Most of the new cameras are private – installed in shops and markets by order of police, but officials are increasingly mandating companies to link their private networks to official ones. China’s domestic security chief has also proposed a plan for a national database that gives citizens identity cards that would include details such as a person’s tax records and educational history.

►The severity of the famine in Somalia has moved the U.S. to ease sanctions against Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab to increase the amount of humanitarian aid getting into the country. “American officials indicated that some aid groups were reluctant to pitch in in Somalia because of fears that they could be prosecuted if Al-Shabaab officials demanded fees or 'tolls' to allow aid convoys to pass,” Politico reports. U.S. officials said aid groups need not fear prosecution as long as they are engaged in “good faith efforts” and that “concerns that some aid could flow to the terror group have to take a back seat now due to the severity of the drought and food shortage.”

►In other news, BGR provides a tutorial on how to remove your private information from background check sites online. ⇒ The governor of California signed a bill barring courts from using testimony of jailhouse snitches unless there are other witnesses, the L.A. Times reports. ⇒ And thousands of prank calls tie up Australia’s homeland security tipline, The Advertiser reports. It writes that 31,495 of 156,694 calls were hoaxes or prank calls. Officials say they expected some prank calls and that the system has still been able to provide information for every major Australian terror investigation.



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