Morning Security Brief: Two Killed in Blast at Florida Jail, Terrorism Increased Across the Globe in 2013, and More

By Megan Gates

► At least two people have been killed and more than 150 others injured after a gas explosion at a Florida jail, ABC News reports. The explosion occurred around 11 p.m. local time at the Escambia County Central Booking and Detention Facility in Pensacola, according to a police spokesperson. The injured—155 inmates and guards—have been taken to area hospital and most were treated for minor injuries. Approximately 600 uninjured prisoners were evacuated by bus and transferred to detention facilities in the area, ABC reports. No inmates are known to have escaped and authorities are investigating the cause of the explosion.

► Terrorist attacks worldwide increased by more than 43 percent last year despite efforts from the United States and its allies to destroy or disrupt extremist networks, according to a report released by the State Department yesterday. Total attacks around the world grew from more than 6,700 to more than 9,700 last year, killing nearly 18,000 people, the report said. Nearly 33,000 people were injured, and nearly 30,000 were kidnapped or taken hostage, with the deadliest countries for terrorism being Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The State Department acknowledged a new “worrisome trend” in the report, explaining that much of terrorist violence in 2013 was fueled by sectarian motivations where victims of violence were primarily among the civilian populations. 

► At approximately half of the airports using Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not conduct mandatory weekly Improvised Explosive Device (IED) drills because it does not know what office is responsible for enforcing the directive. The finding was one of four issues that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) addressed in a new report released yesterday about changes the TSA needs to make before it purchases additional body scanning technology for airports. Along with the lack of IED drills, the GAO found that TSA doesn’t track AIT false alarm rates or pat-down rates; doesn’t track how technology, people, and policies affect AIT performance in the field; and does not use information from the private sector and scientific community on how it can meet future technological needs. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MD), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, released a statement on the GAO’s findings and expressing his disappointment. “Since TSA has failed to analyze and utilize AIT false alarm rates, we have no idea how many passengers are being subjected to pat-downs due to technological failures, diminishing the privacy enhancements Congress mandated by law,” Thompson said. “TSA should not spend a single dollar on additional AIT machines until all of the deficiencies identified in this report are resolved.” Within the report, the GAO made four recommendations to address the problems it identified and TSA has agreed to implement all four.



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