Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for November, 2016

FBI Director James Comey stated in September 2016 that the Bureau has about 1,000 active homegrown terror investigations

House Homeland Security


  • FBI Director James Comey stated in September 2016 that the Bureau has about 1,000 active homegrown terror investigations. He estimated in May 2016 that around 80 percent of active homegrown terror investigations are related to ISIS.
  • Since September 11, 2001, there have been at least 171 homegrown jihadist plots in the United States, including attempts to join terrorist groups overseas and execute attacks at home. More than 86 percent of these cases have occurred or been uncovered since 2009.
  • Authorities have arrested 109 individuals in the U.S. and charged 4 others in absentia in ISIS-linked cases since 2014.2 These individuals had, among other acts: plotted attacks; attempted to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria (or facilitated others’ travel); provided money, equipment, and weapons to ISIS; and falsified statements to federal authorities. Eight ISIS-linked terrorists have been killed while carrying out five separate attacks in California, Florida, Massachusetts, Texas, and Minnesota.
  • Nearly 90 percent of the ISIS supporters charged in the U.S. are male and their average age is 26.3 Nearly one-third of the ISIS-linked individuals charged were involved in plotting attacks inside the United States.

Recent Developments
*   September 30: Nelash Mohamed Das, a 24-year-old Bangladeshi citizen who has been living in Maryland as a legal permanent resident, was arrested after he plotted to kill a member of the U.S. military on behalf of ISIS.
* September 18: Ahmad Khan Rahami, a 28-year-old U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan and is a resident of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was arrested after launching a bombing campaign targeting multiple locations in New York and New Jersey. Rahami was carrying a journal citing ISIS’s call for its followers in the West to launch attacks at home.
* September 18: Dahir Adan, a 20-year-old U.S. citizen living in St. Cloud, Minnesota, attacked nearly a dozen people with a knife at a mall. Adan was born to a Somali family in Kenya before immigrating to the United States.    

* September 8: Marie Castelli, a 56-year-old U.S. citizen and Muslim convert from Maysville, Kentucky, was arrested after issuing violent threats and lying to federal authorities. Castelli promoted ISIS propaganda through social media.


 There have been at least 116 ISIS-linked plots to attack Western targets since 2014, including 36 inside the United States.4

Recent Developments

 September 30: Nelash Mohamed Das expressed support for ISIS through social media, claimed he was in communication with ISIS members overseas, and attempted to target the U.S. military on behalf of ISIS.

 September 25: French authorities arrested two young women who had been plotting an attack in France. The women, 17 and 19 years old, had been communicating with a French ISIS operative who reportedly encouraged them to launch specific attacks in France.

 September 21: German authorities arrested a 16-year-old Syrian refugee they believed was plotting an attack. The suspect was communicating with ISIS and had received specific guidance on building a bomb.

 September 18: Ahmad Khan Rahami was carrying a journal with references indicating he was following the guidance of Abu Muhammad al Adnani, who was the “principal architect” of ISIS’s external operations before a U.S. airstrike eliminated him on August 30, 2016. Rahami wrote that Adnani and Anwar al Awlaki, the former external operations head for al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, “said it clearly attack the [non-believers] in their backyard.”

September 18: Dahir Adan reportedly asked victims during his stabbing spree at a mall in Minnesota if they were Muslim. ISIS’s primary media arm claimed Adan was an ISIS supporter shortly after the attack.

 September 10: Ihsas Khan, a 22-year-old man who was inspired by ISIS, attacked and stabbed an individual in Sydney, Australia.

 September 10: French authorities arrested a 15-year-old boy who was reportedly plotting an imminent attack in Paris, France. The boy, who had been under house arrest since November 2015, was believed to communicating with a prominent French ISIS operative.

 September 10: An ISIS-linked cyber hacking group released a “kill list” with information about real estate professionals in the United States and encouraged individuals to locate and attack them.

 September 9: French authorities arrested the members of a female ISIS terror cell that plotted a bombing near the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France. One of the women had been engaged to two ISIS supporters who separately killed a priest and a police official and his partner. French authorities have also unraveled multiple terror plots in the French Riviera since the July 2016 Nice attack.

 September 8: ISIS supporter Marie Castelli posted the name, address, and photograph of an individual she encouraged others to attack and execute


 More than 42,900 fighters—including at least 7,900 from Western countries—have reportedly traveled to Syria and Iraq from at least 120 countries since 2011. The number of fighters flowing into Syria and Iraq every month has reportedly dropped from 2,000 to “as few as 50.” Around 250 of the Western fighters traveled from the United States and 5,000 of them traveled from European Union countries. As many as 20,000 Shia fighters—including from Lebanese Hezbollah and Iraniandirected Iraq-based militias— have also traveled to Syria to fight alongside the Assad regime.

 Europol Director Rob Wainwright recently predicted that Europe will face a “generation-long struggle” with “thousands of foreign fighters” returning to the continent. Europol estimates that nearly 2,000 European fighters have returned home from Syria and Iraq. FBI Director Comey recently warned “[t]here will be a terrorist diaspora sometime in the next two to five years like we’ve never seen before.”

 A Syrian refugee living in a shelter in Germany who had reportedly been “rapidly radicalized” was arrested after plotting an attack on behalf of ISIS. A recent Syrian suicide bomber in Germany had reportedly sought asylum in Europe after illegally entering the continent in 2013. At least one of the European ISIS operatives in the March 2016 Brussels attack reportedly reentered Europe by posing as a Syrian refugee in Greece. At least two of the ISIS attackers in Paris last November infiltrated

Europe by posing as Syrian refugees; Hungarian officials believe a majority of the attackers in Paris used migrant routes to enter Europe.

 The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) has identified “…individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through the U.S. refugee program.” The Obama administration has resettled nearly 13,000 refugees in the United States this past fiscal year and has vowed to help “bring even more” this coming year. The vetting process for these refugees, which typically takes 18 to 24 months, is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, with assistance from U.S. government security agencies. American law enforcement and intelligence officials have repeatedly indicated that the U.S. lacks reliable and credible intelligence to properly vet and screen potential Syrian refugees.



 At least 34 Islamist extremist groups have pledged their allegiance to ISIS. ISIS, its affiliates, and supporting groups have operated in approximately two dozen countries or territories, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Nigeria, the Palestinian territories (Gaza), Pakistan, Philippines, Russia (North Caucasus region), Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.5 The group has established eight official branches.

 ISIS controls more than a dozen cities and towns across Iraq and Syria, despite losing significant terrain since 2014, including half of its territory in Iraq and a quarter of its territory in Syria.6 The group has anchored its territorial claims in Syria and Iraq with strongholds in Raqqa and Mosul, respectively. American military officials have indicated they are preparing to assist local, anti-ISIS forces launch an assault in Mosul this month.

 ISIS’s Libyan branch, described by CIA Director John Brennan in June 2016 as “the most developed and the most dangerous” of its affiliates, has been largely dislodged from its base in the coastal city of Sirte. Its territory there has been reduced to a square kilometer. ISIS fighters will, however, continue to have a presence in other parts of Libya and they may establish a new base and sanctuary in southern Libya.

 ISIS’s affiliate in Egypt, which blew up a commercial passenger plane in 2015, has maintained its foothold in the Sinai Peninsula. Its militants have continued targeting local security forces. The Israeli Defense Forces assess that HAMAS, the Palestinian terrorist organization based in the Gaza Strip, has provided financial, training, communications, and medical support to ISIS in the Sinai.

 ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan has been vying for control over territory in eastern Afghanistan despite joint U.S.-Afghan operations targeting it. The group, largely comprised of former Pakistani

5 Data compiled by the Majority Staff of the Homeland Security Committee using open source materials. 6 These figures are derived from assessments of territorial control conducted by the Institute for the Study of War research organization.

Taliban fighters, has traditionally operated in southern Nangarhar province along the Pakistan border.

 ISIS’s supporters in East Africa have established a base in Puntland, Somalia, and are actively recruiting followers under the direction of a former al Shabaab operative. ISIS supporters in neighboring Kenya recently launched an attack on local police forces.

 In Yemen, ISIS has exploited the ongoing civil war to expand its footprint. It recently claimed responsibility for the killing of a local security official in Aden.

 The head of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service recently warned that ISIS-affiliated groups in Indonesia and the Philippines pose a growing terror threat.
Al Qaeda

 Syria-based Jabhat al Nusra (JN) is al Qaeda’s largest affiliate. It will continue to support al Qaeda’s ideology and intent to attack the West despite its recent “separation” announcement and name change (to Jabhat Fatah al Sham), according to National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen. JN has increasingly integrated Syrian opposition fighters facing a coordinated assault from the forces of the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran and its proxies. It has been gaining traction within the Syrian population and could consolidate its control over a “protected territorial base on the borders of Europe that the international community would find very hard to root out.”

 Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), supported by up to 4,000 members, has exploited the ongoing conflict in Yemen to “provide a haven from which to plan future attacks” against the U.S. and its allies. AQAP has intertwined itself with local militias and civilian populations as a way to increase its influence.

 Al Qaeda and its affiliate Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent have recently had a presence inside Afghanistan. The Defense Department assessed in May 2016 that Al Qaeda has increased its cooperation with the Taliban and can act as an accelerant for the Taliban’s operations. The Taliban either controls or is fighting for control over at least 30 percent of Afghanistan’s population. The al Qaeda-aligned Haqqani Network constitutes “the primary threat to Americans, to coalition members and to Afghans, especially in and around Kabul.”

 Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, al Shabaab, continues to pose a threat to Western and regional interests in East Africa despite being weakened by local security forces. The group “retains the ability to retake territory” in Somalia. Al Shabaab forces recently attacked local government forces and U.S. military advisors in Somalia. In June 2016, U.S. Africa Command thwarted an al Shabaab attack plot against American military personnel in Somalia.

 Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has launched several major attacks in West Africa since late 2015. AQIM has been attempting to expand its influence in Libya, including through proxies.

 Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy has recently deployed its missile ships and highspeed attack boats to conduct aggressive and threatening maneuvers near U.S. Navy vessels. These types of provocations have reportedly risen more than 50 percent since last year. Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen recently attacked a naval vessel owned by the United Arab Emirates.

 Iranian leaders have been touting their ongoing development of ballistic missiles. In January 2016, the Obama Administration agreed – in a secret agreement coinciding with the release of American hostages and the transfer of $1.7 billion to Tehran – to the lifting of United Nations sanctions on two Iranian banks that facilitated procurement for Iran’s missile industry.

 Iranian-directed fighters, including from Iraqi Shi’a militias, have reportedly converged on Aleppo, Syria, in order to support the Assad regime’s offensive in the city. In Lebanon, Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah has stockpiled an estimated 100,000 rockets and missiles, including weapons capable of hitting targets across all of Israel.

 Iran and Russia have recently enhanced their military cooperation through basing access and weapons system transfers. Iran’s hosting of Russian military assets on its soil allows it to improve its deterrence capabilities. Russia’s illicit transfer of the S-300 missile system to Iran represents a “strategic game changer” that will complicate U.S. military planning.

 The U.S. Treasury Department in July sanctioned three senior al Qaeda members operating inside Iran as part of a terror facilitation network. The broader al Qaeda network.

The U.S. Forest Service is tracking wildfires that have burned a total of 80,000 acres across the South, including a blaze scorching a Manhattan-size area of north Georgia.


National Preparedness Level

Level 1
National Fire Activity
Initial attack activity: Light (174 new fires)
New large incidents: 7
Large fires contained: 2
Uncontained large fires: 32
Area Command Teams Committed: 0
NIMOs committed: 0
Type 1 IMTs committed: 2
Type 2 IMTs committed: 4

Incident Management Situation Report

DARPA Deploys 1,000 Detectors at the National Mall as part of an exercise designed to help track radioactive material threats in urban areas.


  • “…Hundreds of volunteers participated in the program and wielded a backpack that contained radiation detectors while walking around the urban area as they attempted to locate an “abducted physicist” as part of the simulation….”



11/13-14/1985, The Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupts in Colombia, killing over 20,000 people as nearby towns are buried in mud, ice and lava.

History Channel


Chagas disease fears along the Texas-Mexico border

TX-Mexico Border_PLOS-11-2016

Garcia MN, O’Day S, Fisher-Hoch S, Gorchakov R, Patino R, Feria Arroyo TP, et al. (2016) One Health Interactions of Chagas Disease Vectors, Canid Hosts, and Human Residents along the Texas-Mexico Border. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 10(11): e0005074. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0005074

Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi infection) is the leading cause of non-ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy in Latin America. Texas, particularly the southern region, has compounding factors that could contribute to T. cruzi transmission; however, epidemiologic studies are lacking. The aim of this study was to ascertain the prevalence of T. cruzi in three different mammalian species (coyotes, stray domestic dogs, and humans) and vectors (Triatoma species) to understand the burden of Chagas disease among sylvatic, peridomestic, and domestic cycles.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To determine prevalence of infection, we tested sera from coyotes, stray domestic dogs housed in public shelters, and residents participating in related research studies and found 8%, 3.8%, and 0.36% positive for T. cruzi, respectively. PCR was used to determine the prevalence of T. cruzi DNA in vectors collected in peridomestic locations in the region, with 56.5% testing positive for the parasite, further confirming risk of transmission in the region.
Our findings contribute to the growing body of evidence for autochthonous Chagas disease transmission in south Texas. Considering this region has a population of 1.3 million, and up to 30% of T. cruzi infected individuals developing severe cardiac disease, it is imperative that we identify high risk groups for surveillance and treatment purposes.

New Zealand: The South Island has seen hundreds of tremors, including a 6.3-magnitude quake, after the initial one struck after midnight on Monday.


  • Two dead so far
  • “…The cost of rebuilding will be huge – major parts of New Zealand’s infrastructure have been twisted and snapped out of shape….”



A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake has jolted New Zealand’s South Island and triggered a tsunami.

ShakeMap Intensity image

11/13/2015: What happened at the Bataclan?



Paris attacks: Bataclan reopens, but wounds are not closed


  • “….This weekend, the venue was filled with music fans once again, come to hear Sting perform an inaugural concert as the Bataclan opened its doors after a year closed to the public….”
  • “….In the year since the Paris attacks, more than 200 foreigners deemed a grave threat to public order or security have been banned from France…..and 430 travel bans have been issued to French citizens suspected of wanting to join jihadist groups in the Middle East….”


Paris, 11/13/15: More than 1,700 people have been officially recognized as victims of the horror that unfolded at the Bataclan, Paris cafes and France’s national stadium.

NY Times

  • The worst extremist attacks ever to hit France.
  • The coordinated attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 last year left 130 people dead
  • Hundreds more were injured
  • Nine people remain hospitalized from the attacks
  • Others are paralyzed or otherwise irreparably injured.
  • More than 600 people are still receiving psychological treatment related to the attacks.



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