ASIA China (Security threat level – 3): On 23 November...
Brazil (Security threat level – 3): During the early morning of 30 August 2021, a group of approximately 20 heavily armed bank robbers staged a major heist that targeted several banks in the southern Brazilian city of Araçatuba, which is located approximately 520 km (310 mi) northwest of the city of São Paulo. The assailants, who had blocked off roads with burning vehicles and placed explosive devices across the city, also tied at least 10 hostages to their getaway vehicles and utilized drones to assist in their escape, according to São Paulo’s military police. At least three people were killed, including one of the suspected bank robbers. Five others sustained various injuries, including a cyclist who suffered serious injuries when one of the explosive devices detonated; at least three others were hospitalized with gunshots wounds. Local officials closed schools and urged residents to stay indoors until all the explosive devices were located. Police officials stated that two suspects have been arrested, and reports indicate that more than 380 police officers are searching for the remaining suspects.
Analyst Comment: This heist follows a pattern of elaborate attacks on banks in Brazil that have been occurring at night, in midsize cities, usually around the end or beginning of the month when banks are believed to have more cash on hand to pay out to people waiting for public benefits. Two similar attacks occurred on consecutive days in December 2020 at separate branches of Banco do Brasil in the cities of Cametá and Criciúma.
Puerto Rico (Security threat level – 2): On 30 August 2021, the Puerto Rican governor announced additional coronavirus-related restrictions to be in effect during 2-23 September in response to a rising number of new COVID-19 cases. Social activities – including weddings and birthdays – and the sale of alcohol will be banned after 0000 local time (0400 UTC). Masks will be required for outdoor gatherings with more than 50 attendees and elective surgeries that require the involvement of intensive care units will be temporarily postponed. At present, coronavirus-related measures already in place include the requirement for individuals to show proof of vaccination in order to enter businesses such as beauty salons, gyms and casinos.
United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 31 August 2021, emergency crews are deployed in southeastern Louisiana to assess the extent of the damage following the 29 August landfall of Hurricane Ida near Port Fourchon. More than 1 million homes and businesses in the state, including all of the city of New Orleans, remain without electricity as a result of damage to the region’s power grid. In addition, approximately 59,500 homes and businesses in the adjacent state of Mississippi remain without electricity. The governor of Louisiana stated that about 25,000 utility workers are currently working to restore electricity; it could take up to several weeks to fully restore power due to the extensively damaged power lines. The Entergy utility firm has reported that more than 2,000 mi (3,200 km) of transmission lines went offline along with 216 substations due to the hurricane. All inbound and outbound commercial flights at New Orleans’ Louis Armstrong International Airport (KMSY/MSY) were canceled on 31 August for a third consecutive day. Nearly 200 flights scheduled for 1 September have been canceled. Thus far, there have been two confirmed storm-related fatalities in Louisiana. Additionally, two people were killed and 10 others were injured in Lucedale, Mississippi, after floodwaters swept away a stretch of a highway.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On 30 August 2021, authorities ordered more than 22,000 residents to evacuate the popular tourist destination of South Lake Tahoe — located in northeastern California approximately 85 mi (135 km) east of Sacramento — due to a wildfire that has been burning through the region. Thousands of vehicles lined the streets of U.S. Highway 50 as officials in the neighboring state of Nevada activated National Guard personnel to assist with traffic control in the area. The Nevada Gaming Control Board received notification that several resorts and casinos were suspending operations due to the wildfire. The blaze, which began on 14 August near the Eldorado National Forest, has burned through an area stretching approximately 270 sq. mi (700 sq. km) and destroyed hundreds of buildings and commercial property.
Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 30 August 2021, U.S. military officials announced that the final flight carrying U.S. military personnel had departed Afghanistan. Later the same day, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that the U.S. government has closed its embassy in Kabul and will relocate its staff to Doha, Qatar. Additionally, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) issued a Notice to Airmen warning that Hamid Karzai International Airport (OAKB/KBL) is uncontrolled, and that anyone operating in and out of the facility or within Afghan airspace should exercise extreme caution. Meanwhile, the Taliban militant group continue to negotiate with officials in Turkey and Qatar to provide security and operational support at the airport in order to resume flight operations.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, the Taliban leadership authorized regular arrivals and departures from Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport (OAMS/MZR) in the northern city of Balkh, located about 300 km (185 mi) northwest of Kabul. In several of Afghanistan’s largest cities residents continue to queue outside of local banks to withdraw money, as authorities have limited transactions to 16,440 afghanis (200 U.S. dollars) per week while the country grapples with a currency shortage.
United States (Security threat level – 2): On 30 August 2021, European Union governments agreed to remove the United States from the EU’s safe travel list. The new designation may require travelers from the U.S to face additional COVID-19 screening and quarantine measures. Several EU governments — including Germany and Belgium — have already designated the U.S. as a “red list country,” a classification that mandates quarantine for unvaccinated U.S. travelers. EU countries are allowed to determine their own restrictions for individual countries, resulting in some states being added to the red list of certain EU governments while other EU countries may choose to classify the red list country as safe for travel.
Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 31 August 2021, eight people were wounded and a commercial aircraft was damaged by shrapnel after Saudi forces intercepted an explosive drone targeting Abha International Airport (OEAB/AHB), located in the southwestern city of Abha near the border with Yemen. Inbound and outbound flights are temporarily suspended. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but authorities have attributed it to the Houthi rebel group in Yemen, which has previously conducted drone attacks against Abha International Airport. Earlier the same day, Saudi Arabia’s Defense Ministry stated that its military intercepted an explosive-laden drone targeting the same facility.
Analyst Comment: The Houthis frequently target Abha International Airport with drones and/or rockets due to its proximity to the border with Yemen. Most projectiles are intercepted by air defense systems, but some in the past have managed to hit the facility. However, this is the first attack since at least mid-June 2021.