According to official figures, a record number of people have been arrested for terrorism-related offences. Figures indicate that in the wake of recent UK attacks, the number of terror-related arrests has risen by 68% – the highest since records began in 2001.
Last week, the UK Home Office announced that there were 379 arrests in Britain in the twelve months leading up to June. Of this figure, 12 wee made in connection with the Westminster attack, 23 related to the Manchester Arena bombing and 21 arrests were related to the attack some time later at London Bridge. One arrest was related to the Finsbury Park attack in north London in June. During the same period the previous year, 226 people were arrested.
A breakdown of the figures show that 54 of the arrested suspects were women – the largest female proportion on record – and 17 people held were under the age of eighteen. There was also a sharp rise in the number of white suspects detained. That figure rose by 92% from 66 to 127. While more than three quarters of the arrests were related to international terrorism, there was a sharp rise in the number of arrests for domestic terrorism, with the figure increasing from 10 to 52. The 420% increase in terrorism with no international or Northern Ireland related links comes amidst mounting concern over far-right extremism. The figures show that of those who have been arrested, 32% result in a charge. Five hundred investigations, involving 3,000 individuals, are being run by the police and MI5 at any one time, with at last 20,000 former “subjects of interest” also being kept under review.
In the last four years, nineteen terrorist plots have been thwarted, including six since the Westminster attack in March. The current UK threat level for international terrorism is severe, which means that an attack is highly likely.
On 12 September, the US Supreme Court allowed President Donald Trump to broadly implement a ban on refuges entering the country from around the world.
On Tuesday, the justices granted a request from the Trump administration to block a federal appeals court decision, which, according to the Justice Department, would have allowed up to 24,000 additional refugees to enter the Untied States than would otherwise have been eligible. The Supreme Court ruling effectively gives President Trump a partial victory as the high court prepares for a key October hearing on the constitutionality of the president’s controversial executive order.
On 6 March of this year, President Trump signed an order that effectively banned travellers from six Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – for ninety days and locked out most aspiring refugees for 120 days in a move that the Republican leader argued was needed in order to prevent terrorist attacks. The policy suspended travel to the Untied States and from the six Muslim-majority countries and locked out most refugees. Since then, US courts have limited the scope of that order. In a ruling earlier this month, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals stated that grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of legal US residents would be exempt from the travel ban. The Justice Department opted not to appeal that part of the 9th Circuit decision. However the 9th Circuit also ruled that President Trump’s refugee policy was too broad, and the court allowed entry to refugees from around the world if they had a formal offer from a resettlement agency. This portion of the ruling was appealed by the Justice Department, with the full Supreme Court siding with the administration on Tuesday in a one-sentence order. A representative for the Hawaii attorney general, who challenged the administration in court, has so far not commented on the Supreme Court’s ruling. Earlier in the day, Hawaii stated in a court filing that the US government could still “bar tens of thousands of refugees from entering the country.” The state’s lawyers added that all the 9th Circuit ruling did is “protect vulnerable refugees and the American entities that have been eagerly preparing to welcome them to our shores.”
Last Thursday, the European Union’s (EU) top migration official disclosed that extraordinary border controls inside Europe’s passport-free travel area should not be extended because the refugee emergency is abating.
While systematic ID checks are banned in the 26-nation passport-free travel zone known as the Schengen area, the EU has made exceptions for Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and non-EU country Norway to prolong ID checks at their borders. Those countries have stated that the checks, which were introduced in 2016 after around one million migrants entered Europe the previous year, are needed for security reasons. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel is keen to have the police checks continue, and there is currently no sign of Berlin backing off that stance as the country prepares for an election on 24 September, EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos has stated that while the checks were justified, the reasons behind their introduction “are not there anymore.” He further disclosed “I believe it is the moment to go back to the normal function of Schengen.”
Avramopoulos believes that the EU’s external borders are stronger now, and has stated that the bloc’s migrant deal with Turkey is working well, with migrant flows from the country to the Greek islands down by 81 percent last month, compare with August 2016. He told reporters that “during the last two years we have been working in crisis mode, now it’s the moment to step out of the crisis.”
This month, Canada indicate that it would again put off a decision on contributing troops to a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Mali – a move that has upset allies who have stated that the new delay could undermine Canada’s effort to obtain a seat on the Security Council.
Last year, the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that it would consider deploying troops to Mali. However it has taken months longer than predicted to make up tis mind amidst increasing fears that soldiers would die. Officials say that sending Canadian troops to Mali would inevitably result in casualities, which could prove politically unpopular. Canada lost 158 troops in a 10-year stint in Afghanistan – more per capita than any other nation. Allies were now expecting an announcement before Canada hosts a peacekeeping conference in November however in a Toronto Star interview published on Wednesday 13 September, Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan disclosed that the decision would not be made by then. Diplomatic sources from three countries have now disclosed that the delay could harm Canada’s efforts to expand its influence in the United Nations. According to one of the sources, “if you want a seat on the Security Council, not being active at the UN isn’t helpful.” Meanwhile a second diplomatic source stated that “being a serious player at the United Nations means not always choosing the safe option.”
Prime Minister Trudeau came to power in 2015, declaring that “Canada is back,” and stressing the need for a more progressive foreign policy. As part of the effort to rebuild ties at the UN, Canada indicated that it would commit up to 600 soldiers for possible UN deployment, and pressed for one of the Security Council’s 10 non-permanent seats. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Trudeau stated that several hundred Canadian troops were taking part in international operations in Latvia, Iraq and Ukraine, telling reporters that “we are serious about re-engaging with United Nations peace operations but…we need to make sure we’re doing it right.” The Canadian leader is due to go to the UN next week and address the General Assembly
The United Nations has deployed some 10,000 peacekeepers to Mali to help deal with Islamist militants. In recent months, security in Mali, particularly in the northern and central regions, has significantly deteriorated, with violence spilling over into neighbouring states, affecting particularly northern Burkina Faso, where a number of incidents have been reported in recent months.
Tensions again increased between North Korea and the international community last week after the North fired another missile over Japan. It was a week of high tensions, with North Korea threatening both Japan and the United States.
On Friday, South Korean and Japanese officials reported that North Korea fired a second missile over Japan far out into the Pacific Ocean – in a move that has further depend tension after Pyongyang’s recent test of its sixth an most powerful nuclear bomb. Diplomats announced late on Friday that the United Nations Security Council would meet later in the day in order to discuss the launch at the request of the United States and Japan. The meeting will take place just days after its fifteen members unanimously stepped up sanctions against North Korea over its 3 September nuclear test. Those sanctions imposed a ban on North Korea’s textile exports and capped its imports of crude oil.
Speaking to reporters, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga disclosed that the latest missile flew over Hokkaido in the north and landed in the Pacific, about 2,000 km (1,240 miles) to the east. According to South Korea’s military, the missile reached an altitude of about 770 km (480 miles) and flew for about 19 minutes over about 3,700 km (2,300 miles) – far enough to reach the US Pacific territory of Guam, which North Korea has threatened before. Warning announcements about the missile blared around 8 AM (2200 GMT Thursday) in parts of northern Japan, while many residents received alerts on their mobile phones or saw warnings on TV telling them to seek refuge. On 29 August, North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-12, which travelled 2,700 km (1,700 miles) over Japan. In a statement, the Union of Concerned Scientists disclosed that “the range of this test was significant since North Korea demonstrated that it could reach Guam with this missile,” noting however that the accuracy of the missile, still at an early stage of development, was low.
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has disclosed that Friday’s launch “put millions of Japanese into duck and cover,” although residents of northern Japan appeared calm and went about their business as normal after the second such launch in less than a month. Soon after Friday’s launch, the US military reported that it had detected a single intermediate range ballistic missile, noting however that the missile did not pose a threat to North America or Guam, which lies 3,400 km (2,110 km) from North Korea.
On Thursday, a North Korean state agency threatened to use nuclear weapons to “sink” Japan and reduce the US to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a UN Security Council resolution and sanctions over its latest nuclear test. The Korea-Asia Pacific Peace Committee, which handles the North’s external ties and propaganda, also called for the breakup of the UN Security Council, which it called “a tool of evil” made up of “money-bribed” countries that move at the order of the United States.
US officials repeated Washington’s “ironclad” commitments to the defense of its allies, with Secretary of Stat Rex Tillerson calling for “new measures” against North Korea and stating that the “continued provocations only deepened North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation.” Meanwhile South Korean President Moon Jae-in has stated that dialogue with the North was impossible at this point. According to a spokesman, he ordered officials to analyse and prepare for possible new North Korean threats, including electromagnetic pulse and biochemical attacks. Russia stated that the missile test was part of a series of unacceptable provocations and that the UN Security Council was united in believing that such launches should not be taking place.
North Korea has launched dozens of missiles under young leader Kim Jong un as it accelerates a weapons programme that is designed to give it the ability to target the US with a powerful, nuclear-tipped missile. Two tests carried out in July were for long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching at least parts of the US mainland. Last month, North Korea fired an intermediate range missile from a similar area near the capital Pyongyang that also flew over Hokkaido into the ocean. The North warned at the time that more would follow.