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Worldview Security Update – January 17, 2020

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United States (Security threat level – 2): Two gun rights groups — the Virginia Citizens Defense League and Gun Owners of America — have called on their supporters to attend a pro-gun rally at the state Capitol building in Richmond, Virginia, on 20 January 2020. Thousands of gun activists are expected to attend the scheduled rally, which has prompted Gov. Ralph Northam to declare a state of emergency and temporarily ban firearms on the premises of the Capitol to curb the possibility of violence during the event. The preventive security measures are set to be annulled on 21 January. Rally organizers aim to pressure the state legislature against ratifying at least four gun-control bills that it seeks to pass in the upcoming session.

In a related development, on 16 January FBI officials arrested three men allegedly linked to The Base — a violent white supremacist group — who planned to attend the pro-gun rally in Richmond. Reports indicate that the FBI detained the three men, including a former Canadian Armed Forces reservist, partly due to concerns that they sought to perpetrate violence during the rally. The suspects are in custody on federal gun and alien-harboring charges in the states of Delaware and Maryland.


China (Security threat level – 3): On 16 January 2020, authorities banned a proposed “Karma to Commies” march that was to take place on 19 January, beginning from Chater Road and proceeding to the SOGO department store in Causeway Bay. Instead, they granted permission for a protest at Chater Garden and along Chater Road to begin at 1500 local time (0700 UTC). Authorities issued a Letter of No Objection solely for the demonstration and indicated that they had banned the march due to violence at recent marches. Turnout is still likely to be relatively high on 19 January; similar in size to the previous “Karma to Commies” demonstration held on 12 January at Edinburgh Place in Central — which drew approximately 36,000 attendees, according to organizers– and concluded peacefully.


Fiji / South Pacific Islands (Security threat levels – 2 / 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 17 January 2020, Tropical Cyclone Tino was located approximately 330 km (205 mi) north-northeast of Suva and was moving southeast at a speed of 15 kph (9 mph). At that time Tino was generating maximum sustained winds of 102 kph, with gusts of up to 130 kph. The cyclone caused flooding in coastal areas and caused minor damage to some homes on Fiji’s Vanua Levu Island. There were no reports of significant disruptions to aviation. At least two people remain missing after being caught in flood waters on 16 January. On its current path, Tino is expected to impact Tonga on 18 January.


Comoros (Security threat level – 3): On 17 January 2020, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Comoros, which reads in part as follows: “Some violent incidents occurred during the election period in March 2019. Political demonstrations and other protests may still occur, particularly following the first round of legislative elections on 19 January 2020. You should avoid crowds and demonstrations throughout Comoros and obey local security instructions.”

Gambia (Security threat level – 3): On 17 January 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Banjul issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Anticipated gathering points include, but are not limited to, the following areas in Banjul:

  • Sting Corner – junction of Banjul Serrekunda Highway and Bertil Harding Highway
  • Denton Bridge

“Events: Demonstrations organized by ‘Operation Three Years Jotna’ are expected to take place during the day on January 19, followed by demonstrations organized by ‘Gambia for Five Years’ during the day on January 20. These events are likely to cause severe traffic congestion going in and out of Banjul. Details of these events may change with little notice, and the possibility exists for additional, spontaneous demonstration locations.”

Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 17 January 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Conakry issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Announced gathering points include, but are not limited to, the following area:

  • Bambeto Circle

“Event: We have received reports of the funeral planned for today in the area of Bambeto Circle, for a protester killed during recent unrest.

“In addition, we have received reports of planned protest activity scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, although details have not been announced.

“U.S. government personnel have been instructed to avoid Bambeto Circle beginning immediately, until 7am tomorrow morning.”

Niger (Security threat level – 5): On 16 January 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Niamey issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Niger

“Event: Several unexploded rockets were discovered on the outskirts of Niamey Tuesday, January 14, near the village of Kongou Gorou. No damage or injuries were reported.

“The U.S. Embassy is aware of potential threats against Nigerien and western government buildings, and locations frequented by westerners.

“The Embassy strongly advises limiting unnecessary movements during hours of darkness or travel outside of the Niamey péage (toll checkpoint). The Embassy will continue to review the security situation and provide additional information as appropriate.”