South Korea (Country threat level – 2):

On 25 July 2010 the U.S. and South Korean navies launched a military exercise in the Sea of Japan, despite the fact that North Korea had warned of nuclear retaliation. The drill will last four days and involve 20 ships and 200 fixed-wing aircraft as well as 8,000 personnel from the two navies. South Korean military officials indicated that no unusual activity from North Korea’s military has been detected.

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Pakistan (Country threat level – 5):

On 26 July 2010 militants staged an attack on a police checkpoint near Peshawar. At least two police officers were killed and another 14 injured when nearly 200 militants stormed the installation. The Pakistani police called in reinforcements to help battle the insurgents. The attack took place in Achni, a small town outside Peshawar, which is frequently targeted by militants hiding in the nearby tribal belt near the Pakistan-Afghan border.
On 26 July 2010 a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a mosque near the home of the provincial minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the town of Pabbi, 15 mi/25 km from Peshawar. The minister was unharmed in the attack; at least six other people were killed and 20 people were injured. The attack took place as people had gathered to mourn the minister’s son, who was gunned down by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) elements two days earlier. Witnesses claim that the bomber was a young boy who struck as he tried unsuccessfully to pass a checkpoint.


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China (Country threat level – 2)

A passenger bus traveling on an expressway to Huanghua Airport (ZGHA/HHA) in the central city of Changsha in the Hunan province exploded at approximately 1600 local time (0800 UTC) on 21 July 2010. The blast and resulting fire gutted the bus, killing two people and injuring 10 others. Officials have blocked off the road and are investigating the incident. Some eyewitness accounts that detail a man attempting to light a suspicious bag shortly before the explosion indicate that it may have been a deliberate attack, although this has not been confirmed.

ASI Comment: Possible motives in the apparent attack are not known, but China has in recent months faced a wave of random acts of violence that have included stabbing attacks on school children and other incidents. China has also witnessed attacks on buses in the past that have seemingly been motivated by the attacker’s personal issues rather than a political agenda.

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Mexico (Country threat level – 4):

In response to a continually deteriorating security situation, ASI Group, a MEDEX Global Solutions company, is increasing its threat level for Mexico from 3 (Medium) to 4 (High), effective immediately. ASI assigns its threat levels in response to long-term trends at the country and city levels, with some exceptions for significant crises. Over the past two years, ASI has closely monitored incident reports and has engaged in extensive security operations across the country, including multiple deployments by senior ASI personnel to accurately gauge the seriousness of the situation on the ground in the most affected locations. As a result, our escalation is a response to the factors cited above in conjunction with their impact on the international business community and our conclusion that an improvement in this situation is extremely unlikely over the next two years.  

The drug-related violence in Mexico has steadily increased since the current Mexican government placed a priority on eliminating the cartels upon coming into office, but radically escalated approximately two years ago. Initially, the confrontations were primarily between the cartel groups and the police and federal armed forces. The situation, however, gradually changed when cartels began vying for regional drug-trafficking corridors to the U.S., often following the arrest or death of a high-ranking cartel leader, setting off a number of rivalries in various regions that quickly escalated into the extreme levels of violence we are seeing today. It is this constant vying for control over drug-trafficking territory — often accompanied by alignments between cartels or fractures within groups or partnerships — that continually contributes to this escalation in violence.  

Not all areas of Mexico currently experience the same extreme levels of violence and crime related to the drug trade, as particularly seen in the northern border cities. However, the spread of violent incidents away from the border areas and the increasingly brazen nature of armed confrontations between rival cartel groups and law enforcement are cause for renewed attention. Moreover, incidents have increasingly resulted in collateral casualties, even in areas away from the cities with the highest rate of violence. 

Additionally, the clear ineffectuality of Mexican law enforcement, well-known for its corruption, only buttresses these concerns. Similarly, the inability by the federal and local governments to adequately respond to and stabilize impacted areas beyond short-term deployments is not likely to change even should a different political group take charge at the next presidential election. Drug cartels are controlling increasing areas of Mexico, which is translating into increasing collaboration with local law enforcement and political offices. 

ASI has not presently raised the threat levels for major tourist destinations such as Los Cabos and Cancun, but we are closely monitoring the situation with increasing concern over recent incidents in the surrounding areas. We will continue to track incidents and will provide further updates in Hot Spots and our World Watch® Online platform.

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First Line of Defense Against New Cyber Threats

Information security is a fast moving target. Today there are more threats, more vulnerabilities, more portable storage devices, and there’s increased mobility. That means educating employees about security is more difficult, demanding and necessary than ever before. So, how do you make sure that your organization’s information assets are protected? The first (and best) line of defense is employee awareness.

NSI’s SECURITYsense helps you build a culture of security and trains employees to act securely and responsibly whether they are at their desks or on the road. Find out how this valuable resource can reduce your security awareness training costs and headaches. Protect yourself in the new year and avoid becoming the latest example of compromised security. Click here

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Update: Haiti

1810z: Castel Haiti, an office and convention center in Port-au-Prince, is said to have collapsed.

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Injured U.S Embassy Staff Evacuated from Haiti

1724z: U.S. Coast Guard evacuates four critically injured U.S. Embassy staff members from Port-au-Prince. The U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Wing are expected to deploy to the Port-au-Prince airport this afternoon. The staff members will be take to the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. U.S. Southern Command states that the U.S.S. Carl Vinson will arrive off the coast of Haiti on 14 January. Pentagon states that some smaller vessels from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard cutters are already en route.

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Haiti Earthquake Status as of 1500z January 13, 2010

Status summary as of 1500z: A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Haiti at approximately 2153 UTC (1653 local time) on 12 January 2010. The quake was centered approximately 10 mi/16 km from Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami watch for parts of the Caribbean region shortly after the initial quake, but it was later canceled. The quake was reportedly also felt in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, but there were no reports of damage in those countries. The initial quake has been followed by a series of at least 28 strong aftershocks, all with a magnitude of at least 4.0. Seismologists anticipate that aftershocks will continue.

Preliminary reports indicate that damage in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area is extensive and that most of the city has been destroyed. The quake has also caused massive power and communications outages across the country, hindering rescue efforts. Reports indicate that the communications tower at Toussaint Louverture International Airport (MTPP/PAP) has collapsed, but the rest of the airport was not significantly damaged and the airport remains open. However, the main road leading to the airport is blocked with rubble and debris. American Airlines and Spirit Airlines have both canceled all flights to Haiti until further notice, and Delta Air Lines has halted its only flight to and from the country out of New York’s JFK airport.

In addition to the airport control tower, a Petionville hospital, the Montana Hotel — which is very popular with tourists — the U.N. peacekeeping mission headquarters and many government buildings (including the parliament and a building in the presidential comound) sustained significant damage. Reports indicate that 3,000 U.N. troops are in Port-au-Prince in an effort to maintain order, while another force has begun clearing roads in the central part of the city to help relief efforts.

There is currently no clear estimate of casualties, but the Red Cross has reported that the quake has affected at least 3 million people. Among the known casualties are several U.N. peacekeepers, including the mission chief. President Rene Preval was reportedly uninjured. Additional information on damage and casualties is likely to emerge over the next 24-48 hours as rescue efforts continue.

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ASI World Watch Monitor – Haiti Earthquake

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First Responder Technologies Program

Volume 2 Issue 12 December 2009

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