Posts Tagged ‘Islamic radicals’

French Security Forces Now Top Targets of Islamic Radicals

August 10, 2017

PARIS — French soldiers taking part in Operation Sentinelle are the highest profile symbols of the fight against Islamic extremism — but along with other security forces patrolling French streets are increasingly the main targets of attacks.

Operation Sentinelle was created to guard prominent French sites after a string of deadly attacks in 2015. The soldiers’ status as representatives, and defenders, of the state, has put security forces in the line of fire. But experts offer other reasons, too, for why attacks in France have recently focused on heavily armed protectors.

No civilians have been attacked this year — although intelligence services have foiled seven planned attacks, France’s interior minister said recently. More than 230 people, many of them out for a night of fun, were killed in 2015 and 2016.

Islamic radicals may seek extra media visibility presumably afforded by going after emblematic targets or be tempted by the wish to die as a “martyr,” several experts said. Or they may want to up assurance of redemption with an especially “heroic” act in the ultimate stage of a life spent mainly in delinquency in which security forces were the top enemy, the experts added.

Knives, machetes, hammers and vehicles have been used in the seven attacks this year — in each case against security forces — despite France’s state of emergency. In the latest, on Wednesday, a BMW slammed into six soldiers as they left their barracks outside Paris for duty in what authorities said was a “deliberate” attack. The suspect, an Algerian living legally in France, was arrested after a highway manhunt and hospitalized with bullet wounds.

“We need to finally suppress the idea that there is a common profile for terrorists,” said Alain Bauer, a leading criminologist and security expert. But, he added, attacking security forces is “a la mode” now in France.

In 2015 and 2016, soft targets were more common, after a Syrian who served the Islamic State group as its high-profile spokesman and strategist before being killed urged sympathizers in Europe and the U.S. to launch attacks against civilians — “especially the spiteful and filthy French.” High-level attacks, from the November 2015 massacres in Paris to last year’s Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, followed, with 216 dead.

This year, one person, a police officer on the crowded Champs-Elysees Avenue, has been killed. One attacker died in a second incident on the avenue after his car laden with weapons caught fire after he rammed it into a convoy of gendarmes.

Not all the attacks were claimed by IS, and like the attacker who plowed his car into the soldiers, not all were French. Except for Wednesday’s car attack, the attackers chose tourist haunts — going after security forces, not the crowds.

A study released in March by the Center for Terrorism Analysis, or CAT, showed that France isn’t alone. Attacks on security forces have been a constant in the West. Between 2013 and 2016, a majority — 53 percent — of 72 targeted attacks, either carried out, attempted or planned, were aimed at society’s protectors. The study also showed that France, with the highest number of Western jihadis in Syria and Iraq, and largest Muslim population in Western Europe, was the most targeted Western country.

IS cites France’s participation in the U.S.-led coalition when claiming attacks in the country.

“They want to die as martyrs,” said Jean-Charles Brisard, president of the CAT center.

In November 2015, when teams of extremists stormed into Paris from Brussels and killed 130 people enjoying a weekend on the town, they “waited for intervention forces to arrive to die with weapons in their hands facing apostate forces,” Brisard claimed.

For another expert, Alain Rodier, a former intelligence officer, many French Islamic extremists who go after symbols of the state had spent much of their lives doing just that as small-time delinquents. In France, police and youth in tough neighborhoods have notoriously bad relations with authorities in uniform and some delinquents who radicalize repeat old habits, he said.

“In reality, they’ve transferred what they did before,” Rodier said. They are people who haven’t traveled to combat zones and take action “on their own initiative,” he said, adding that the notion of redemption also can also motivate the choice of targets. They are often fed by extremist preachers whose message is “the more heroic the action the more their sins are pardoned.”

Wednesday’s attack threw the spotlight on the Sentinelle force, currently 7,000-strong with half of its members posted in the Paris region. Some have questioned why soldiers are patrolling sensitive sights from train stations and airports to places of worship — when they have never stopped an assault since their deployment after attacks in January 2015 on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a Kosher grocery.

The soldiers are “a presence that reassures, protects,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Wednesday, but also symbols “and therefore direct targets.”

They are also magnets for attacks, Bauer said.

The force’s real purpose, Bauer said, is “just trying to convince your population that you’re safe … (and) let everybody go to work every day.”

Be they soldiers, police or gendarmes — all of whom have been attacked this year — the crucial determinant is media attention, according to Bauer.

“Terrorism is about communication and violence,” he said.


Australia warns of terror threat in Indonesia — “Advanced stages of preparing attacks”

February 25, 2016


Indonesian police standing guard as an anti-terror squad raids the home of a suspect in Malang, East Java province, on Feb 20. AFP photo

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia on Thursday (Feb 25) warned that terrorists might be in the “advanced stages of preparing attacks” in Indonesia and advised travellers to take precautions, just days after a similar warning about neighbouring Malaysia.

“Recent indications suggest that terrorists may be in the advanced stages of preparing attacks in Indonesia,” the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said in an updated travel advisory.

“We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia, including Jakarta, Bali and Lombok, due to the high threat of terrorist attack.”

The advisory did not raise the overall threat level, which is at “exercise a high degree of caution”, and noted that the department continued to “receive information that indicates that terrorists may be planning attacks in Indonesia, which could take place anywhere at any time”.

It said travellers should be particularly careful when in places that have low levels of security and while at possible known terrorist targets, listing previous attack sites such as nightclubs, bars, cafes, restaurants, international hotels, airports and places of worship.

“The Indonesian government has recently increased security across Indonesia, which underscores the ongoing high threat of a terrorist attack,” it added.

DFAT on Sunday warned of possible attacks in and around the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, that they could be indiscriminate and may target Western interests or locations frequented by Westerners.

Indonesian police on Friday arrested dozens of suspected Islamic extremists on Java island, but it was not clear if they were linked to gun and suicide attacks in Jakarta last month that left four civilians and four assailants dead.

The Jakarta attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group, which has provided a potent new rallying cry for Islamic extremists in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.

Indonesia suffered several major bomb attacks by Islamic radicals between 2000 and 2009, but a subsequent crackdown weakened the most dangerous networks.

Islamic State eyeing Indonesia for ‘distant caliphate’ — Same group President Obama said was “contained”

December 22, 2015

SYDNEY (AFP) – The Islamic State group is working to boost its presence in Indonesia with dreams of creating a “distant caliphate” in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, Australia warned on Tuesday (Dec 22).

Attorney-General George Brandis, who spent Monday in meetings between Indonesian and Australian ministers, police chiefs and security officials, said it constituted a threat to Australian and Western interests.

“ISIS has ambitions to elevate its presence and level of activity in Indonesia, either directly or through surrogates,” he told The Australian newspaper, referring to the militant group by another acronym.

“You’ve heard the expression the ‘distant caliphate’?

Australia’s Attorney General George Brandis (left) speaking next to Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Panjaitan (right) during a press conference after a meeting in Jakarta on Dec 21, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

“ISIS has a declared intention to establish caliphates beyond the Middle East, provincial caliphates in effect. It has identified Indonesia as a location of its ambitions.”

Islamic State, which adheres to a fundamentalist doctrine of Sunni Islam, has already declared caliphates in several areas outside Syria and northern Iraq where it holds a swathe of territory.

Brandis’ comments follow Indonesian police foiling plans for a suicide attack in Jakarta and arresting radicals linked to Islamic State.

Three-day raids across Java ending Sunday saw the confiscation of explosive materials and an IS-inspired flag as well as nine arrests.

The extremists were targeting shopping malls, police stations and minority groups across the country, Indonesia’s national police chief said.

Security has been beefed up across the country, with senior ministers from Australia and Indonesia agreeing on Monday to boost intelligence sharing, including on terrorism financing, following bilateral talks in both Sydney and Jakarta.

The Australian newspaper said that while Australian authorities believed there was little chance ISIS could create a caliphate within Indonesia, they were deeply worried the terror group may establish a permanent foothold in the archipelago.

This could allow it to conduct attacks against Western or Australian interests within Indonesia and beyond.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the rise of militant groups had destabilised the security of both countries.

“The rise of ISIS in the Middle East is something that has destabilised the security of Australia, it’s destabilised the security of Indonesia and it’s destabilising the security of our friends and partners, particularly here in the region,” he said.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, suffered several major bomb attacks by Islamic radicals between 2000 and 2009, including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.

A crackdown has weakened the most dangerous extremist networks although the emergence of ISIS has sparked alarm that Indonesians returning from battlefields in the Middle East could revive them.

Australia is equally concerned at the threat from those being radicalised.

Six attacks in Australia have been foiled over the past year, according to the government, but several have not, most recently in October when a police employee was shot dead by a 15-year-old reportedly shouting religious slogans.


Obama declared ISIS ‘contained’ the day before Paris attack

13 Nov 2015

President Barack Obama said the Islamic State is “contained” — a comment that has been scrutinized in the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris that have been attributed to the terrorist group….

President Barack Obama seemingly downplayed the threat of ISIS in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that aired on Friday’s broadcast of “Good Morning America.”

Stephanopoulos asked Obama if ISIS was gaining in strength, to which Obama denied they were.

“I don’t think they’re gaining strength,” Obama responded. “What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq, and in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave, but you don’t see this systemic march by ISIL across the terrain.”

“What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures,” he admitted. “We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters and part our goal has to be to recruit more effective Sunni partners in Iraq to really go on offense rather than simply engage in defense.”


BBC History

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Bali Bomb Plot

Indonesia says a man who died in a raid in Jakarta on 9 March was Dulmatin, the last remaining suspect wanted in connection with the 2002 ..

The BBC News website looks at the role Dulmatin and others played in the devastating attack that killed 202 people.

View of the bomb blast site in Kuta, Bali, on 16/10/2002

The area was buzzing with foreign tourists when the bomb went off


The seeds of the October 2002 Bali bombing plot were probably sown in a hotel room in southern Thailand 10 months earlier.

At a secret meeting of operatives from South East Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiah, a man known as Hambali is believed to have ordered a new strategy of hitting soft targets, such as nightclubs and bars rather than high-profile sites like foreign embassies.

But it was not until August 2002 that Bali was chosen as the place to strike.

According to Ali Imron, who was jailed in 2003 for life for his part in the attacks, it was at a meeting in a house in Solo, central Java, that “field commander” Imam Samudra announced the plan to bomb Bali, and the main agents in the plot first came together.

Bali was chosen “because it was frequented by Americans and their associates”, Ali Imron said. He quoted Imam Samudra as saying it was part of a jihad, or holy war, to “defend the people of Afghanistan from America”.

In fact, more Australians and Indonesians would die than Americans, prompting speculation that the plotters were poorly informed, or manipulated by other people still at large.

Hambali, who is currently in US custody in Guantanamo Bay, is believed to have been the South East Asian contact for Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.

But he is not thought to have played an active part in the Bali plotting.

Fire rises above Bali after the explosions on 12/10/2002

Some of the suspected perpetrators of the bombings are still being hunted

Instead, 43-year-old Islamic teacher Mukhlas – also known as Ali Ghufron – was convicted as the overall co-ordinator of the attacks.

Prosecutors said he approved the targets and secured finance for the bombings. Mukhlas himself claimed he just gave the bombers religious guidance.

He also recruited two of his younger brothers, Amrozi and Ali Imron, to play key roles in the attack.

Mukhlas and Imam Samudra are said to have chaired preparatory meetings in western Java during August and September.

Ali Imron said that the Bali attacks were originally planned for 11 September, to mark the first anniversary of the terror attacks on the US.

But the bombs were apparently not ready in time, and the plans had to be postponed.

Final planning

The details of the attack were finalised in Bali between 6 and 10 October.

The bombers apparently all had separate roles.

A man called Idris, who was later jailed for another bomb attack, was accused of gathering funds and arranging transport and accommodation for the bombers.

Amrozi cheers after receiving the death sentence at his trial in Bali on 7/08/2003

Amrozi cheered after his sentencing and said he would die a martyr

Amrozi admitted to buying the chemicals and the minivan used in the Sari club blast.

Ali Imron named Dulmatin as the man who helped assemble the bombs, and said a man called Abdul Ghoni mixed the explosives.

Ali Imron said he helped make the main bomb, used at the Sari club.

He said a van loaded with explosives had been driven to Sari by a man called Jimi, who died in the blast. A man called Iqbal wore a vest with a bomb in it, which he detonated in Paddy’s Bar.

“Their duty was to explode the bombs,” Ali Imron had said. “They were ready to die.”

Iqbal is known to have died in Paddy’s Bar. But Ali Imron also told police that the two bombs exploded prematurely, which could have caught Iqbal out, so it is unclear if he was on a suicide mission.

All the individuals detained for playing a major role in the attacks have been sentenced – and Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra were executed in November 2008.

Other key suspects are believed to have been killed by police before facing trial.

Azahari Husin, a Malaysian who was alleged to be JI’s top bomb-making expert and to have helped assemble the Bali bombs, was killed in eastern Indonesian in November 2005.

Another alleged bomb-maker, Noordin Mohammad Top, was killed in a raid in November 2009.

The attacks which killed 202 people in the resort of Kuta, Bali, were a team effort – but the aftermath provoked different reactions from those involved.

Police said Imam Samudra stayed in Bali for several days after the bombing to survey the devastation he wrought and observe the reactions of people he affected.

Ali Imron shed tears in court, and repeatedly expressed remorse for his actions.

Amrozi laughed and joked about his case, giving a thumbs-up sign when he was convicted. He said he was happy to die a martyr.


On September 11, 2012, U.S. Ambassador and Three Other Americans Killed At Benghazi: Today The U.S. Department of State, “Is moving to apply the terrorist designation” To Libyan Groups Involved

January 9, 2014

Was it an anti-American attack or the product of religious righteousness? The New York Times story has reignited a debate that Congress thought it settled months ago

By     JAN. 8, 2014
The New York Times

The State Department is moving to apply the terrorist designation to two Libyan organizations and one militant believed to have played a role in the deadly attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi in September 2012, senior United States officials said on Wednesday.

The terrorist designations would be the American government’s first formal public accusations of responsibility for the attack, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

Senior United States officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the State Department has not yet made the designations public, said they would apply to Ahmed Abu Khattala, a Benghazi militant described by witnesses as having played a role in directing the assault, as well as to an allied group, Ansar al-Shariah of Benghazi, whose fighters were seen participating in the attack. In interviews, Mr. Abu Khattala has denied belonging to Ansar al-Shariah, but the terrorist designation was expected to describe him as a leader of the group. Witnesses said he visited its headquarters the night of the attack. The designation is expected to say that members of the group were involved in it.

The designation was also expected to apply to Ansar al-Shariah of Derna, Libya, which is described as a separate militant Islamist organization, the officials said. The designation was expected to assert that its fighters were also involved in the attack. They may have been identified by witnesses or security camera footage. Derna is a coastal city known as a center of Islamist militancy, a few hours’ drive from Benghazi in eastern Libya.

The designations were disclosed privately to Congress last Friday. Elements of the State Department action were reported on Wednesday by The Washington Post, and they were expected to be released publicly by the State Department on Friday.

Many people from Derna, including Islamist fighters, are in Benghazi on any given day, and there is no evidence that the fighters from Ansar al-Shariah of Derna who were involved in the attack came to Benghazi for that reason, according to officials familiar with the intelligence reports, the criminal investigation and the terrorist designations.

The designation was also expected to apply to Sufian bin Qumu, a former driver for a company controlled by Osama bin Laden and a former inmate at the United States military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He is identified as a leader of Ansar al-Shariah in Derna, but officials briefed on the designations and the intelligence reports said that there was no evidence linking him to the attack.

By mid-2013, however, Mr. Qumu was known to have contacts and communication with Al Qaeda or its regional affiliates, such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, according to people knowledgeable about the intelligence.

In a recent interview with Libyan television, Mr. Qumu called for the imposition of medieval Islamic punishments like severing the hands of thieves or whipping alcohol drinkers — describing such measures as an obvious step that all but drunks or thieves would support. In a radio interview in 2012, he said he hoped that “an Islamic state is established here” like the one he knew in Afghanistan under the Taliban. If he described Guantánamo Bay, he told listeners, “You will not hold back your tears.”

A nephew of his, known as Abu Nas, was believed to have run a primitive training camp near Derna for Islamist fighters, presumably bound for fighting elsewhere. In May 2013, the nephew was killed while driving a car loaded with explosives that accidentally detonated in Benghazi, according to officials briefed on United States intelligence.

In addition to the Libyan militants, the State Department is also moving to apply the terrorist designation to a Tunisian militant leader, Seifallah ben Hassine, as well as a separate Tunisian organization also known as Ansar al-Shariah. That name is relatively generic and means Supporters of Islamic Law.

The designations have legal consequences, allowing the United States to freeze assets belonging to designated individuals or groups, or to block Americans from doing business with them.

Federal investigators have filed sealed criminal complaints against about a dozen suspects in the Benghazi attack, but the Libyan authorities have said they are unable to arrest or prosecute the suspects because of the government’s lack of a strong military or police force.

The United States military has drawn up its own plans to apprehend Mr. Abu Khattala in a commando raid, but the Obama administration has so far held back from carrying them out, in part for fear of toppling Libya’s fragile transitional government.

A version of this article appears in print on January 9, 2014, on page A4 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. to List Libyan and Groups Tied to ’12 Attack as Terrorists.
Families of Benghazi victims press for House  select committee to investigate attack
boehner benghazi.jpg

Oct. 8, 2013: House Speaker John Boehner speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

WASHINGTON –  Three family members of victims of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack demanded Monday that House Speaker John Boehner create a select committee to investigate the assault that killed four Americans.


U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith, and security officers Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were all killed during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012.

In a letter hand-delivered to Boehner, Smith’s mother, Pat Smith, and uncle, Michael Ingmire, as well as Woods’ father, Charles Woods, pressed Boehner to form a select committee to investigate the Benghazi scandal.

“Your reluctance to lead and resistance to create a Select Committee on Benghazi must end,” the letter read. “More than 75 percent of all House Republicans – with the conspicuous absence of those in leadership or committee chairmen – have co-sponsored Rep. Wolf’s Select Committee bill. Few bills in this Congress demonstrate such overwhelming support from Republicans.”

In addition to forming a focused bipartisan committee, the letter also cited a recent New York Times report that the letter claimed ignored congressional testimony.

So far, Boehner has had five separate House committees investigate the matter.

An independent select committee would have subpoena power and the authority to read classified documents. Boehner has said publicly he opposed the creation of a select committee and didn’t see the need for one.

There was no immediate reaction from his office to Monday’s letter.

In a Dec. 30 opinion piece published on, Ingmire called for Boehner to be removed from office.

“As a family member the slow drip of truth from these committees is maddening and, at times, insulting,” Ingmire wrote. “Overall, John Boehner has been an ineffectual House Speaker and needs to be removed. He has failed to unify even his own party.”

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

Photo: U.S. envoy J. Christopher Stevens was killed at Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo by:  Ben Curtis/Associated Press)


From left: Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith died in the September 11, 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya

In the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. in Benghazi, Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens (right, above) was killed, along with State Department staffer Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Before Boston, warning signs Chechen extremists were plotting beyond Russia

April 23, 2013

If Chechen extremist groups were in any way associated with last week’s  Boston Marathon bombing, investigators will, in hindsight, see a path littered  with warning signs — which could lead them to the doorstep of one particular  extremist group.

By now, it has been well-established that Chechnya is home to both  separatists who want independence from Russia and Islamic radicals who see their  cause as more global. Looking back, arrest reports and security studies show  Chechen terrorists have been involved in a string of plots over the last several  years in European and other countries, dropping clue after clue that they had  aspirations beyond attacking Russia.

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Of particular interest is a group formed in 2007 called the Caucasus Emirate,  led by Doku Umarov. Two sources tell Fox News that investigators are exploring  potential links between Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the suspect who died in a shootout  early Friday in Boston, and the group — though the organization has publicly  distanced itself from the plot. Fox News is told that the Caucasus Emirate,  designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department in 2011,  is one of several groups being investigated.

The group and others in the region have been very active over the last  several years, analysts say.

“The CE is now part of a global jihadi revolutionary movement or alliance,”  said a 2011 report on the organization by the Center for Strategic and  International Studies.

Back in 2010, a plot was uncovered in Belgium by a group called  Shariah4Belgium. The suspects were from several different countries, but a few  reportedly were ethnic Chechens. The same CSIS report said the individuals were  suspected of plotting terror attacks in the country — and recruiting and  financing for the CE.

A separate report on the Caucasus Emirate from intelligence analysis firm  Stratfor said a cell from the CE’s network in the Dagestan region — where the  Boston bombing suspects apparently lived — was uncovered in the Czech Republic  in 2011 “planning operations in a third country.”

Then, in August 2012, two Chechens and a Turk were arrested in Spain, as part  of what officials suspected to be an Al Qaeda-tied plot to use remote-controlled  planes to strike targets in Spain and elsewhere around the time of the London  Olympic Games.

Another ethnic Chechen was found guilty by a Danish court in 2011 for  plotting to bomb a Danish newspaper that published the controversial cartoons of  the Prophet Muhammad in 2005. He was arrested the prior September after he  accidentally set off a bomb at a hotel.

Some of these individuals could be lone wolves, and not tied to the CE or  another group. U.S. officials still have not determined whether the Tsarnaev  brothers are tied to a foreign group, though are looking at a lengthy trip the  older brother took to Russia in early 2012. The brothers’ uncle has claimed  the siblings were radicalized in the U.S. and that Chechnya has nothing to do  with their beliefs.

A statement released over the weekend by the Caucasus Emirate — and  translated by a prominent Chechen website — appeared to distance the group from  the Tsarnaev brothers.

“After the events in Boston, the US, information has been distributed in the  press saying that one of the Tsarnaev brothers spent 6 months in Dagestan in  2012. On this basis, there are speculative assumptions that he may have been  associated with the Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate, in particular with the  Mujahideen of Dagestan,” the group said. The organization said it is “not  fighting against the United States of America. We are at war with Russia, which  is not only responsible for the occupation of the Caucasus, but also for heinous  crimes against Muslims.”

The FBI has come under scrutiny after having been alerted in 2011 by a  foreign government — said to be Russia — about Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s  activities.

“The request stated that it was based on information that he was a follower  of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically  since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s  region to join unspecified underground groups,” the FBI acknowledged.

But the bureau said the suspect was interviewed and no “terrorism activity”  was found.

Top House Republican lawmakers are now asking the FBI for its files on  Tsarnaev, noting that despite this review he was allowed to travel to Russia and  post “jihadist material on his social media.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., claimed Monday that his name was misspelled when  he traveled, “so it never went into the system that he actually went to  Russia.”

The violence and insurgency in Chechnya dates back to World War II. Since the  breakup of the Soviet Union, Chechnya has been at war with Russia twice. The  second war started in 1999 when Russia went into Chechnya to restore control  over the region. Since that time, other foreign fighters, including those with  Al Qaeda ties, have taken up root in Chechnya, with groups like the Caucasus  Emirate folding radical Islamic views into their mission.

Amid the fighting, thousands of Chechens have been killed, while Chechen  fighters have been most known for launching high-profile and deadly attacks in  Russia, such as the 2004 hostage taking at a school in Beslan in which hundreds,  including children, were killed.

Some analysts have questioned the narrative that the Chechnya region was  being heavily influenced by Islamic radicals.

University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth professor Brian Glyn Williams has  described a more complicated picture. Williams told that “there’s a  jihad element that has grown larger and more important” inside of Chechnya in  the wake of bloody wars with the Russians. He said the official leadership is  more secular and moderate, but there is an extremist element that sees the  Russians as “infidels.” He said the Al Qaeda links are tenuous, though Al Qaeda  “sympathizes” with them.

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Iran’s Ahmadinejad to push for Asia cooperation at forums

October 13, 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds a press conference in Tehran last week. Ahmadinejad, current chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, travels next week to Azerbaijan and Kuwait to attend forums on boosting cooperation in Asia, the state-run IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holds a press conference in Tehran last week. Ahmadinejad, current chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, travels next week to Azerbaijan and Kuwait to attend forums on boosting cooperation in Asia, the state-run IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

AFP – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, current chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, travels next week to Azerbaijan and Kuwait to attend forums on boosting cooperation in Asia, the state-run IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.

He will attend a summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation in Baku on Tuesday and outline Iran’s positions on cooperation with member countries, said the head of his international affairs office, Mohammad Reza Forghani.

The organisation groups Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

On Wednesday, Ahmadinejad will head to the oil-rich Gulf state of Kuwait to attend the first summit of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue — a 31-strong forum set up in 2002 to promote cooperation and dialogue.

Members include Asian countries, as well as Russia, Iran and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council of which Kuwait is part.

Ahmadinejad is due to deliver a speech at the summit “to propose means of reinforcing cooperation among Asian nations,” IRNA quoted Forghani as saying.

In September, Iran hosted a summit of the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement, scoring a point against Western efforts to isolate it over its controversial nuclear activities.

But Iran has uneasy relations with both Azerbaijan and Kuwait.

Tensions between Iran and mainly Muslim but officially secular Azerbaijan have risen over the past year, with a series of arrests in Baku of attack plot suspects with alleged links to Tehran.

On Tuesday, Azerbaijan jailed 22 alleged Islamic radicals — all Azerbaijani citizens — for plotting attacks on the US and Israeli embassies in the ex-Soviet state in collaboration with Iran.

In May, Kuwait sentenced to life in prison two Iranians, a Kuwaiti and a stateless man to life for spying for Iran, triggering a condemnation from Tehran which demanded they be released.