WEEKLY THREAT AND ALERT ROUNDUP
Super Bowl LV Threat Assessment
February 6, 2021
On Feb 1st, the following related Flash SMS
message was sent to AlertsUSA subscriber mobile devices:
2/1 – Large security operation unfolding in Tampa for Super Bowl LV on 2/7. Fencing, road closures, and heavy police presence downtown & near stadium. Expect delays.
What You Need To Know
On Monday AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of a large security operation unfolding in the run-up to Super Bowl LV that will be held on Sunday, Feb 7th at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. According to a Joint Special Event Threat Assessment issued by the FBI, Dept. of Homeland Security and several other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, there is no information to indicate a specific, credible threat to or associated with Super Bowl LV or related events in the surrounding area.
However, the FBI and DHS remain concerned about potential retaliatory attacks conducted by or on behalf of the Government of Iran following the Jan 3rd 2020 US drone strike that killed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) Commander Qassem Soleimani. Additional areas of continuing concern include international terrorism and domestic violent extremists (DVEs); unmanned aircraft systems (UAS); cyber security; local critical infrastructure; criminal activity; and the potential use of crude, simple weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
Quoting directly from the threat assessment:
“We remain concerned about sustained interest by foreign terrorist organizations in targeting mass gatherings such as Super Bowl LV despite the restricted attendance of this year’s game and associated events. Al-Qa‘ida, the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), and their affiliates remain intent on attacking Western targets and continue to call on individuals to conduct independent attacks in the United States using a range of weapons, including improvised explosive or incendiary devices (IEDs/IIDs), vehicles, firearms, and edged weapons.”
“The Government of Iran could direct retaliatory attacks in the environs of the Super Bowl; Soleimani’s death could also provoke a violent extremist Iran supporter to conduct an attack to avenge the death.”
“Although security measures will be in place around Super Bowl LV and adjacent areas on the day of the game, Super Bowl LV and associated events are likely an attractive target due to the relatively high concentration of attendees, symbolism of the event, and the significant national media attention the event will receive. We assess the most vulnerable targets of opportunity for a physical attack during Super Bowl LV will be outside the security perimeter around the stadium and at associated venues where crowds will gather or where less stringent security measures are in effect.“
In light of the content of this Threat Assessment, readers may find it interesting that on Wednesday of this week, U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested 11 Iranian citizens after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. According to Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol agents encountered the group on a bridge near San Luis, Arizona. The group consisted of six males and 5 females. The group was arrested and taken to Yuma Station for processing.
So far in FY2021, Yuma Sector agents have apprehend 14 nationals from Iran.
Customs and Border Protection says Iran is considered a “special interest country.” This means it is a country known to harbor terrorists and terrorist organizations.
It is not yet clear why the group was attempting to get into the United States, and agents are still working to determine how they got to Mexico to cross into the U.S..
What You Need To Know
According to data provided by the COVID Tracking Project, this week new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths all dropped. For the seven-day period running January 28 to February 3, weekly new cases were down more than 16 percent over the previous week, and dropped below one million for the first time since the week of November 5. This is still an astonishing number of new cases per week, but far better than the nearly 1.8 million cases reported on the week of January 14. Tests also declined nationally, but by less than 3 percent, nowhere near enough to explain the steep drop in cases.
As of Friday at 6:00 PM ET, there were 3,003 deaths reported for the day. In total, more than 459,000 deaths in the U.S. have been attributed to the virus.
COVID-19 Restriction Maps can be found here and here.
The Department of Homeland Security has extended the restrictions on non-essential cross-border travel with Canada and Mexico through Feb. 21st.
Effective January 26, the CDC requires all air passengers entering the United States (including U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents) to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure, or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days.
Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau announced that air travelers entering Canada will now be forced into mandatory hotel quarantine at their expense to await results of a COVID test. Trudeau says the new requirement is part of a suite of measures designed to keep Canadians at home, as the government is increasingly concerned about the risk of new COVID variants that appear to be more transmissible and more deadly
The White House also released a new Executive Order last week focused on protecting the federal workforce and requiring mask wearing.
Important COVID-19 Headlines
World faces around 4,000 COVID-19 variants
WHO admit Wuhan mission WILL NOT reveal how COVID jumped to humans
FEMA asks the Pentagon to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine
UK finds more coronavirus cases with ‘concerning’ mutations
What we know about the South African variant of Covid
Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine has 92% efficacy in trial
The race for ‘next generation’ COVID vaccines is heating up
COVID-19: Risks and side effects of vaccination
Sinovac and Sinopharm – what do we know about the Chinese vaccines?
Coronavirus: Lack of global vaccine strategy has ‘immense costs’
SITUATION REPORTS / OFFICIAL CASE NUMBERS
The COVID Tracking Project
World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control (U.S.)
Johns Hopkins CSSE (Interactive map updated multiple times daily)
OFFICIAL CORONAVIRUS INFORMATION PAGES
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food and Drug Administration
Public Health Agency of Canada
Infection Prevention and Control Canada
World Health Organization
SMS ALERTS FROM THIS WEEK
NOT DETAILED IN THIS NEWSLETTER ISSUE
1/31 – AlertsUSA monitoring response to reports of gunfire, Fox River Mall, Appleton, WI. Heavy police presence. Add’l alerts as warranted.
1/31 – Outagamie County (WI) Sheriff’s Office asking community to stay away from the Fox River Mall area in Appleton. Active situation.
1/31 – Police report two people shot in Fox River Mall incident. Shooter remains at large. AlertsUSA monitoring..
2/1 – AlertsUSA monitoring response to reports of gunfire, University Mall, South Burlington, VT. Heavy police presence. Add’l alerts as warranted.
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Research Reactor Emergency in Maryland
On Feb 3rd, the following related Flash SMS
messages were sent to AlertsUSA subscriber mobile devices:
2/3 – NRC notified flwg radiological incident within a Nat’l Institute of Standards & Technology facility in Gaithersburg, MD. Elevated radiation levels. Monitoring..
2/3 – NIST incident involves elevated radiation levels within containment bldg of research neutron reactor. Workers undergoing decon and eval. No threat outside bldg.
What You Need To Know
On Wednesday AlertsUSA subscribers were notified of a declaration of an Emergency at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Center for Neutron Research in Gaithersburg, MD. In this incident, elevated radiation levels were detected in the containment building of the 20 MW heavy water research neutron reactor during a restart.
According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, stack radiation monitors began reading 100,000 counts per minute due to the release of fission products. The reactor had been operating at 50% power (10 MW), and automatically scrammed one minute prior based on the stack monitor reaching 50,000 counts per minute. When the automatic scram occurred, the facility ventilation system automatically changed to emergency ventilation mode to limit discharge to the environment. Several workers were determined to be externally contaminated. Those workers underwent decontamination by a change of clothes and showers and are now being monitored for signs of possible uptake and internal contamination.
According to a statement by NIST, there is no evidence of radiation above regulatory limits outside the containment building, and they “continue to evaluate data from air monitors and other sensors to ensure the health and safety of our campus and local community. NIST is also working to understand the precise cause of the elevated levels of radiation.“
A follow-up release on Friday states the following:
“The research reactor on NIST’s Gaithersburg, Maryland, campus is shut down and in a safe state. It will remain in shutdown status until the cause of the elevated radiation levels is determined and corrected. The elevated levels of radiation within the NCNR’s confinement building have dropped significantly, as expected.”
Interestingly, despite the fact that the NIST campus and the Center for Neutron Research is located near Interstate 270 and is surrounded by housing communities and businesses, most local residents did not become aware of the emergency until hours later.
Chasing the Dragon
On his first full day in office, President Joe Biden signed a massive executive order that, among other things, killed the Keystone XL pipeline project. Buried in that same order were two short sentences that will allow the Chinese government to get into the American electrical grid.
READ MORE HERE
The New Great Game at Sea
Last month, India included Australia in its annual Malabar naval exercise for the first time since 2007. The exercise was held in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea and also included the United States and Japan, which only joined as a permanent member in 2015. Australia’s newly announced inclusion represents the growing concerns about China’s maritime rise across Eurasia, from the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean to East Asia and the Arctic.
Malabar comes in juxtaposition to the annual exercise China hosts with Russia entitled Joint Sea. Since 2012, Russia and China have conducted the Joint Sea naval exercises as a way to bolster their relationship, while also gaining a greater understanding of their respective naval technologies and platforms.
Eurasia’s main continental rivals — China, Russia, and India — are leading this emerging dynamic of maritime great-power competition as they seek enhanced global prestige and great-power status. This drive for increased international prestige has resulted in growing investments in strategic instruments of national power, namely navies. This in turn has resulted in a dynamic of heightened navalism and naval competition across maritime Eurasia.
~ READ MORE HERE ~
Forging 21st-Century Strategic Deterrence
The strategic capabilities of our competitors continue to grow, and they are sobering. More than a decade ago, Russia began aggressively modernizing its nuclear forces, including its non-treaty-accountable medium- and short-range systems. The People’s Republic of China is also on a trajectory to be a strategic peer and should not be mistaken as a “lesser included” case.
~ READ MORE HERE ~
The Navarro Report
The three volumes of the Navarro Report provide a demonstration that President Trump had a good faith belief that the November 3, 2020 Presidential election results, were, indeed, the poisonous fruit of widespread fraud and election irregularities. Evidence used in the preparation of the Navarro Report includes more than 50 lawsuits and judicial rulings, thousands of affidavits and declarations, testimony in a variety of state venues, published analyses by think tanks and legal centers, videos and photos, public comments, and extensive press coverage.
~ READ MORE HERE ~
USNI Fleet and Marine Tracker
These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of Feb 1, 2021 based on Navy, public data provided by the U.S. Naval Institute, and open source reporting. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship.
World News Roundup
10 pounds of Composition C-4 disappear from Twentynine Palms
11 Iranians arrested in Arizona after jumping US-Mexico border
Nat’l Guard protection of the Swamp cost taxpayers $500 MILLION
Judiciary Committee votes AGAINST saying Pledge of Allegiance
US and Russia extend nuclear treaty
CCP Virus psyops in Wuhan brought America to her knees
Biden Is Putting Migrant Kids In Cages, Crickets from AOC
Biden says he will welcome 125,000 refugees during pandemic
Hacking group also used an IE zero-day against security researchers
That Settles That: White House Is Keeping Space Force
Comparing Biden’s Proposed Amnesty to the Legalization of the 1980s
Modernizing Biometrics Collection for Immigration Vetting
For Biden, Tough Talk on Saudi Arabia Meets Reality
US sends warship through Taiwan Strait for first time under Biden
Mexico Arrests Police Officers Over Massacre
Desperation grows as Mexico runs out of vaccines
Hacking group also used an IE zero-day against security researchers
Austin Orders Military Stand Down to Address Challenge of Extremism
Biden cancels Elon Musk’s adventures in space
Lockheed Overtakes Boeing as Largest US Aerospace and Defense Firm
New Sonar Sees Underwater From The Air
National Security Council meets on Iran’s nuclear program
One dead and nine injured after stabbings around Croydon, south London
Biden Freezes German Pullout Plans; ‘Cradle to Grave’ Review Underway
Britain expelled three Chinese spies posing as journalists, report claims
Russia Expels European Diplomats It Says Participated In Navalny Protests
B-1 Bombers Deploying To Norway For The First Time
Trident nuclear submarine replacement delayed by another year
Joe Biden demands Russia free Alexei Navalny ‘immediately
As Moscow’s Jails Overflow, Navalny Detainees Are Held Outside the City
MIDDLE EAST / AFRICA
Islamic extremists planning ‘rash of attacks’ after Covid curbs lifted, says UN
Al Qaeda’s “Expansion Project” targets Côte d’Ivoire, Benin
Biden halts support for Saudi strikes on Yemen
In Iraq’s ‘Dire’ Economy, Poverty Is Rising — And So Are Fears Of Instability
Mozambican President announces night curfews, first since 1992
Saudi Arabia suspends entry from 20 countries over COVID fears
Qatar announces new restrictions amid fears of second COVID wave
Erdogan says will not let Turkish university protests swell
Liberia war crimes: Rebel commander on trial in Finland
Tunisian soldiers killed by explosive in mountains close to Algerian border
Ethiopia arrests 15 over UAE embassy attack plot
Nimitz moves into Indo-Pacific region after 270 days in CENTCOM AOR
Myanmar coup: What is happening and why?
Xi, Putin make the case for win-win vs zero-sum
16 injured in Sibbi blast following Kashmir solidarity rally
Chinese Soldiers Get High-Tech ‘Dog Tags’ Incl Barcodes, Embedded Chips
Uyghur advocates speak out after accounts of rape and torture in China
Top Chinese official hopes US abandons its ‘zero-sum’ rivalry
China slams U.N. Security Council ‘leak’ on Myanmar
Afghanistan troop withdrawal should be tied with peace talk progress
US study group advises delay in Afghanistan withdrawal
Japan extends state of emergency amid rising COVID-19 cases
Defector says North Korea ‘popular uprising’ likely
Travel Security Resources
The U.S. Dept. of State Travel Website is the authoritative federal source for information on the security situation at travel destinations worldwide. With tensions rapidly increasing in most regions, readers planning international travel, even to such common destinations as Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean Islands, are strongly encouraged to research on the security situation at your destination prior to departure.
Active USGOV Travel Notices
Active USGOV Travel Advisories
Alphabetical Country List
Other USGOV Travel Resources
Smart Traveler Enrollment Prog (STEP)
Travelers with Special Considerations
Travel to High-Risk Areas
Faith-Based Travel Information
Information for Women Travelers
Cruise Ship Passengers
Your Health Abroad
Driving and Road Safety Abroad
The Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides a variety of resources to enhance the safety and security of the U.S. private sector businesses and organizations operating abroad.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website is the authoritative federal source for information on current health issues related to specific destinations worldwide. These issues may arise from disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, natural disasters, or other conditions that may affect travelers’ health.
Foreign Sources of Travel Guidance
Global Affairs Canada
Australia Dept. of Foreign Affairs
UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Start now to make sure you are staying prepared.