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Friday 25th February 2022

Hi Dhananjay,

In light of recent events, and before we jump into your weekly rundown of the global security landscape from the last seven days, we wanted to make you aware of our new daily intelligence summaries covering the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Every day at 1100hrs GMT, we’ll be circulating an overview of the last 24 hours – what’s happened and what it means. Our free assessment will be supported by imagery of the most recent geolocated incidents from our platform.

Keep track of what’s happening in Ukraine with verified, reliable intelligence.

Intelligence Insight Weekly - What's Happening in Asia?

MIDDLE EAST & ASIA

Lebanon

Lebanese authorities have arrested members of an ISIS cell operating in Beirut, claiming that the group was planning to target Shia religious sites in southern neighbourhoods of Beirut. According to the report, the cell intended to target a religious site in the Laylaki area, the Imam al-Kazem compound in Haret Hreik and the al-Nasser mosque in the Ouzai suburb using suicide vests and small arms. Initial reporting suggested that the cell was controlled by a man based in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp with links to Syria and its members were recruited from the Palestinian refugee community living in Lebanon.

The arrests highlight an ongoing concern for Lebanese security forces which has worsened recently, as fears rise over whether ISIS is using the poor socio-economic situation in Lebanon to drive recruitment for fighters to be sent to Syria and Iraq. As well as recruiting from radicalised youth, ISIS is reported to have had success recruiting in Lebanon by offering large salaries in order to recruit from poorer communities. ISIS had had particular success recruiting from Tripoli and other northern towns, where members of the Sunni community feel that they have been unfairly targeted in security forces crackdowns, adding to sectarian tensions, adding to Islamic State’s recruiting draw.

Insight Weekly - North America Image

NORTH AMERICA

Washington, D.C.

So-called Freedom Convoys are reportedly planning to converge on Washington D.C. in an attempt to imitate the Canadian protest movement which paralysed central Ottawa in recent weeks. The scale and number of the convoys are unclear as much of the social media coverage appears to be little more than posturing, with multiple convoys supposedly set to arrive in Washington D.C. on dates ranging from 1st March to 5th March.

While some footage has been posted with convoys of around a dozen trucks in Pennsylvania and as far afield as California, initial implications are that the protests will lack the scale and cohesion of their Canadian equivalents. However, given the fear of a repeat of the 6th January 2021 incident and president Biden’s State of the Union address on 1st March, heightened security measures including an increased National Guard presence is expected over the coming days, with additional traffic checkpoints and potentially a temporary perimeter fence to be installed to prevent a potential takeover of the capital.

Insight Weekly - Europe Image

EUROPE

Germany

On 21st February, climate activists from the “Uprising of the Last Generation” group blocked the Köhlbrand Bridge in Hamburg, blocking access to the port and causing significant disruption. The activists said that they are taking action to combat food waste, demand greater action in regard to the climate crisis, and demand citizen participation. The activists used superglue and construction foam in order to stick themselves to the roadway. The Kattwyk Bridge was also impacted. The activists were removed from the roadway after three hours and traffic was resumed. The activists threatened to take their actions to other ports and airports if their demands were not met.

Two days later on 23rd February, members of the same group blocked the access roads to Germany’s three largest airports in Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin. The activists stated their intent was to disrupt cargo and passenger flows. Some of the activists glued their hands to the roadways in order to delay authorities from removing them. Tactics such as these have been primarily seen in the United Kingdom in the last year, with climate activists from Insulate Britain using them to cause disruption primarily along the M25 ring in London. Continued action by activists from Uprising of the Last Generation has the possibility to create significant logistical issues if airports and ports continue to be the primary targets. As Europe comes out of winter, it is likely that actions by environmental groups such as Extinction Rebellion increase in the Spring and Summer.

Intelligence Insight Weekly - What's Happening in Africa?

AFRICA

Tanzania

A Tanzanian judge has ruled that opposition leader Freeman Mbowe and three others will stand trial for terrorism-related charges despite state prosecutors calling 13 of 24 listed witnesses since the trial began last year. Mbowe, was arrested in July 2021 along with other members of the CHADEMA party in Mwanza, where Mbowe was due to hold a conference to discuss reforms to the country’s constitution, which the party said gives too much power to the president.

Although the recent lifting of a ban on four newspapers as well as a meeting between President Hassan and opposition figure Tundu Lissu have been well received, concerns surrounding democratic backsliding in Tanzania have persisted during President Magufuli’s reign as president and there are concerns that this will continue under President Samia Suluhu Hassan, despite her introducing policy changes after taking office following the death of President Magufuli.

Insight Weekly - South America Image

SOUTH AMERICA

Colombia

This week has seen the start of an ‘armed strike’ launched by the National Liberation Army (ELN) on 23rd February and expected to continue until 26th February. The ELN had announced the action days before via pamphlets that were shared in several areas, including the departments of Nariño and Cauca. Similar ‘armed strikes’ have been launched in the past by the ELN, during which attacks on government forces, civilians and infrastructure have all been reported.

In the first days of the action, the country saw an improvised explosive device being detonated on the peripheral road of Cucuta in the department of Norte de Santander, reportedly causing the death of a police K-9 unit. In the department of Santander, an explosive device detonated and wounded five people on the road between San Gil and Socorro. Two other attacks involved explosive devices destroying two bridges in the department of Cesar. Other incidents of attacks on military patrols were reported in the department of Norte de Santander.

The threat of attacks led the Ministry of Transport to activate the anti-terrorism policy which covers any damage that buses or trucks may suffer. Additionally, schools in certain departments saw empty classes due to students staying home, while some public transportation routes were suspended. The actions taken during the ‘armed strike’ puts certain sector at risk, particularly the logistics sector due to the ELN threatening anyone travelling on the roads during the 72-hour period.

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Russia launches invasion, aerial bombardment of Ukraine

As reported at the top of this email, on 24th February, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ‘specialised military operation’ in eastern Ukraine. Within minutes of Putin’s announcement, explosions were reported in major cities including Kyiv. Intense fighting has been reported in the country since then, particularly in the Donbass region.

Thanks to our Discord community members who have been sharing the latest developments from the conflict, in particular users ‘Fairbright’, ‘DDale,’ and ‘M.’.