Morning Security Brief: Pentagon Lockdown, Al Qaeda Hit List, Tornado Tracker, and More.
By Carlton Purvis
► One man has been arrested and is suspected of planting several suspicious devices around the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Iwo Jima Memorial, CBS news is reporting. The man’s vehicle contained a backpack with ammonium nitrate, spent 9mm shells, and a book containing the words “al Qaeda” and “muhajadin,” Good Morning America reports. The Pentagon area is closed while authorities continue their investigation.
► A Web site with ties to al Qaeda posted a hit list of 40 targets including U.S. officials and business leaders, NBC reports. No specific plot has been uncovered, the FBI said, but the list is the most detailed threat since the death of Osama bin Laden. The list has the names and addresses of officials as well as pictures for some. The FBI has notified the individuals on the list.
►Internet carriers AT&T, Verizon, and Century Link have teamed up with the National Security Agency to produce new tools to counter cyberattacks, The Washington Post reports. The pilot program, which began last month, uses NSA-developed signatures of suspicious Internet behavior to filter incoming traffic to major defense contractors, allowing the Internet providers to disable the threats before an attack can occur. Officials say the pilot program does not involve directly monitoring contract’s networks. The move has been applauded by the Center for Democracy & Technology, but any extension of the program must guarantee protections against government access to private Internet traffic, the group told The Post.
►New radar technology could help predict the path of tornadoes allowing responders to better allocate their efforts during and after a disaster, NPR reports. A radar developed by a group called Collaborative Adapting Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) can provide up-to-date pictures of a storm minute by minute. "The problem is that with the existing system, you only get five-minute updates, and fast-moving weather events like tornadoes can change," Michael Zink, engineer at University of Massachusetts Amherst told NPR. The system could give an extra few minutes warning that a tornado is coming.
►The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission told a congressional committee on Thursday that an ongoing study of the of the Fukushima disaster will lead to requirements for nuclear plants to be prepared for bigger natural disasters and survive for longer power outages, CNN reports. Most emergency plans for nuclear reactors plan for one reactor being in danger. At Fukushima, all four reactors were damaged after an earthquake followed by a tsunami. NRC commissioners said their current redundant layers of defense are sound, but they agreed that regulations for plants to be designed for the strongest natural disasters on record will add a margin of safety.
A new report from the RAND Corporation finds that terrorist activity is increasing and becoming less centralized. Since 2010, more attacks have been perpetrated by al Qaeda and its affiliates, and there has been an increase in the number of Salafi-jihadist groups and fighters.A Persistent Threat: The Evolution of al Qa’ida and Other Salafi Jihadistslooks into the changes and the reasons behind them.