Worldview Security Update – September 25, 2020
25-Sep-20

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 24 September 2020, protests continued for a second consecutive night in central Louisville, Kentucky, to denounce a grand jury decision not to file homicide charges against police officers who shot and killed a 26-year-old Black woman at her residence on 13 March. A tense standoff between police officers and protesters occurred at a church where protesters had taken refuge to avoid being detained; however, no clashes broke out at the site. According to local officials, protesters elsewhere in the downtown area damaged city buses, attempted to set a fire and smashed windows of a restaurant. Earlier in the day, demonstrators associated with the Black Lives Matter protest movement engaged in a brief verbal confrontation with approximately a dozen counterprotesters — many of whom were armed with high-powered firearms and were dressed in military-style uniforms — reportedly members of the Oath Keepers group that claims to be a nonpartisan association of current and former security personnel protecting the U.S. Constitution, but is often cited as an example of a radical anti-government group. While there were no reports of clashes or injuries, police officers arrested at least 24 protesters overnight on 24-25 September. Most of the detainees were arrested near the Louisville Free Public Library shortly after the nightly curfew came into effect at 2100 local time on 24 September (0100 UTC on 25 September). The mayor of Louisville has extended the citywide curfew from 2100-0630 local time until the morning of 28 September, and approximately 500 Kentucky National Guard troops remain stationed in the city.

Associated protest gatherings occurred in major U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C, overnight on 24-25 September. These protests were smaller in scale compared to the previous day and concluded largely peacefully. In Los Angeles, a motorist drove a vehicle through a group of protesters, injuring one individual on Sunset Boulevard in the Hollywood area. Such demonstrations in Louisville and other major U.S. cities are highly likely to continue through the upcoming weekend and are especially prone to turn violent during the nighttime hours.

ASIA

Malaysia / South Korea (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): On 24 September 2020, officials in Malaysia announced that all foreign travelers allowed to enter the country are now required to pay the full cost of quarantine, which is 4,700 Malaysian ringgit (about 1,130 U.S. dollars). Previously, foreign nationals were required to pay 2,100 ringgit, while the government subsidized the remaining 2,600 ringgit. Malaysian citizens will continue to pay 2,100 ringgit only for quarantine, a requirement imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

In South Korea, on 24 September officials announced that they will prohibit operations of entertainment venues outside of the greater Seoul area beginning on 28 September in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19 during the upcoming holidays of Chuseok (the three-day autumn festival), which begins on 1 October, and the National Foundation Day, which occurs on 3 October. Meanwhile, in Seoul, authorities will enforce tighter disease prevention measures on restaurants, amusement parks, movie theaters and other entertainment venues.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): In the late morning hours of 25 September 2020, a stabbing attack occurred along Rue Nicolas Appert near Boulevard Richard Lenoir in eastern Paris. The assailant, armed with a machete, stabbed and wounded at least two people in the vicinity of the former headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper, which recently reprinted controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The attacker then fled the scene on the Paris Metro, but was arrested near the Bastille Plaza. Another suspect was also reportedly arrested in connection with the stabbing. There is currently a heavy security presence in the Boulevard Richard Lenoir area and the metro station remains shut down. Counterterrorism officials are investigating the attack to determine the motive of the assailant. Islamist militants attacked Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters in January 2015 in response to its initial publishing of the controversial Muhammad cartoons. A court trial of two alleged accomplices in the attack is currently underway in Paris.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 25 September 2020, officials implemented stringent restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Israel. Individuals are permitted to leave their homes but must stay within a 1 km- (0.6 mi)-radius of their residences. Furthermore, all nonessential businesses must shut down, and private sector employees must remain home. Synagogues will remain open for the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, but attendees must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines. These restrictions will remain in place through 10 October.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Hungary (Security threat level – 2): On 25 September 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Budapest issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"Event: On Sunday, September 27th, 2020, there is a planned march and demonstration to express support for teachers, students and the leadership who recently resigned from the University of Theatre and Motion Picture Arts. Hungarian Police will be present at the event to monitor the security situation.

"Date/Time: September 27th (Sunday) – 5:00pm – 8:00 pm

"Location/Route: Hosök tere in District 14 (gathering site) – Route: Andrássy út – Deák Ferenc tér – Astoria – Rákóczi út – Vas utca (main building of the University).

"Organizer: University students

"Stated Purpose: To express support for teachers, students and the leadership who recently resigned from the University of Theatre and Motion Picture Arts."

 
Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 24 September 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow issued a Health Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Event: As COVID-19 case numbers continue to rapidly increase in Moscow and Russia, this alert recommends that U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents traveling to or residing in Russia continue to exercise caution to limit exposure to COVID-19.

“The U.S. Embassy in Moscow and U.S. Consulate General in Yekaterinburg continue to operate with only limited staff. U.S. government employees in Russia are restricted in their travel and activities in light of the continued high infection rates in the country. Limited services for U.S. citizens are available. Visa services remain suspended except for emergency or mission-critical services. The U.S. Consulate General in Vladivostok has temporarily suspended operations.”