Posts Tagged ‘Islamic state’

Trump to Discuss Afghan Strategy With Security Team on Friday

August 16, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will meet with their national security team on Friday at Camp David to discuss U.S. strategy in South Asia, a White House spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

The administration has been working to develop a new strategy for the long-running conflict in Afghanistan and the Pakistan border region as it decides whether to deploy additional troops to combat recent Taliban advances.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Tim Ahmann)

Burkina Faso Stunned by Another Deadly Extremist Attack

August 16, 2017

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — The scene was all too familiar: Islamic extremists striking a popular dining spot while dozens of patrons, many of them foreigners, took a break from daily life in Burkina Faso. Victims were gunned down at random. Gunfire rang out for hours as special forces worked to secure the scene.

After Sunday night’s deadly attack on Kwame N’krumah Avenue, some in this West African nation are wondering: How could this happen again only 200 meters (yards) away from the first massacre in January 2016? And why is the capital no safer?

Location of  Burkina Faso  (dark blue)– in Africa  (light blue & dark grey)– in the African Union  (light blue)  –  [Legend]

“There are no words to explain our anger and despair,” said Ousseni Tanagda, whose job selling phone credit has suffered since the 2016 attack on a popular cafe. “I was afraid of staying here because the security measures set up earlier were no more strictly respected as they used to be.”

While Burkina Faso shares a border with volatile Mali — long home to such attacks — the 2016 massacre that killed 30 people shocked many in Ouagadougou. The capital is home to many foreigners working with the United Nations and international aid organizations in this desperately poor country on the edge of the Sahara.

After that attack, security measures were strengthened at sensitive places such as banks, hotels and restaurants, with many hiring armed security personnel. As more time passed without another attack, locals say some of those measures eased.

In recent months, however, the United States and France warned their citizens to avoid certain areas of Burkina Faso, mainly the unstable north near Mali and Niger but also the capital.

Already Sunday’s assault on the Aziz Istanbul restaurant that left 18 people dead has had political fallout, with one former minister saying it underscores “the failure of our security system.”

“Two attacks in about 18 months in the same spot with the same mode of operation, it’s not acceptable,” said Ablasse Ouedraogo, who served as foreign affairs minister during the era of longtime leader Blaise Compaore. “It’s as though we have not learned any lessons.”

Compaore was ousted in a popular uprising in late 2014, and some critics say the military has suffered during the years of political upheaval ever since. During the 2016 assault, Burkina Faso’s security forces waited for hours before trying to intervene despite having people at the scene. During Sunday’s attack, gunfire also rang out for nearly seven hours before officials noted there were only two assailants.

Capt. Guy Ye, spokesman for the special forces, said they are better equipped now than in 2016 but he acknowledged they are still learning.

“There were hostages who had to be freed before launching the assault against the terrorists who were hiding in the back of the restaurant,” he said.

Ouedraogo, the former minister, said the army and security sector need an overhaul. Already they’ve received specialized training from both the French and U.S. militaries.

Felix Alexandre Sanfo, a security expert, said Burkinabes are learning they must accept that the threat of terrorism is here to stay, just as it is in many other parts of the world.

“Many think it’s a problem that can be solved definitively,” Sanfo said. “We are not prepared to maintain an elevated level of vigilance on a permanent basis. People have quickly let down their guard because they think the danger is behind us.”

On the contrary, regional security analysts point to a deepening and troubling Islamic extremism movement in northern Burkina Faso, where an Australian doctor who had spent decades treating civilians has been abducted and remains missing.

The region is now the home of a Burkinabe extremist figure, Malam Dicko, who has collaborated with militants across the border in Mali. Among his objectives has been seeking to end the use of French, the former colonizer’s language, in regional schools. Burkinabe forces backed by French military counterparts have tried to take out Dicko but he remains at large.

Burkina Faso is now one of five regional nations putting together a 5,000-strong force to fight the growing threat from extremists in the vast Sahel region. The first units are expected to deploy in October and all battalions should be on the ground by March. The countries have been pressing the international community to help funding; a gap of 305 million euros ($356 million) remains.

Burkina Faso’s government knows it must move quickly to avoid the political instability and human suffering inflicted by extremists to the north in Mali.

“If we do not master intelligence quickly, we will continue to count the dead due to terrorism because the situation is alarming,” said an intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

“We are vulnerable now, and the situation calls for lucid, cool and objective analysis.”

___

Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed.

New threat to Britain’s railways as al-Qaeda tells supporters to derail train carriages

August 16, 2017

The Telegraph

Members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front in Syria CREDIT: REUTERS

Al-qaeda is urging its supporters in Britain to derail a train, causing massive loss of life and “instil fear” among travellers and commuters.

Securing thousands of miles of track in the UK was “practically impossible” and attacks would cause “great damage and destruction”, the terrorist group said in an article in the group’s magazine Inspire.

The terrorist group offered to show how to make a “derail tool” and said any attacks would force Governments to impose the airport-style security measures on rail travellers.

The threat is understood to being taken seriously by British and American intelligence agencies who are said to be “working closely” to combat it.

Al Qaeda

Whitehall sources said they are increasingly concerned that travelling by rail was “one area of public transport which is worryingly yet to be exploited”.

One source said the Armed Forces were prepared to support police and ambulance…

Read the rest:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/15/new-threat-britains-railways-al-qaeda-tells-supporters-derail/

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Al Qaeda’s propaganda magazine Inspire calls for terrorism train attacks in US, Europe

August 16, 2017

Image result for Grand central Station, photos

Pictured: Grand Central Station, New York

By Catherine Herridge
Fox News

The new edition of Al Qaeda’s online propaganda magazine, known as Inspire, calls on its followers to target trains in the US and Europe, identifying three methods of attack: the train’s compartments, derailments or assaults on stations.

However, a Department of Homeland Security bulletin reviewed by Fox News indicates there is no credible or imminent threat.

“…the TSA Office of Intelligence and Analysis (TSA-OIA) is not aware of any current or credible plots to attack transportation within the United States; however, TSA-OIA remains concerned with terrorist organizations’ efforts to conduct attacks against transportation,” the August 11 intelligence report states.

The magazine, written in English, provides step-by-step instructions, similar to previous issues that coached terrorists on homemade bombs.

The Homeland Security intelligence report continues, “The AQAP (Al Qaeda in Yemen) video serves as an important reminder that mass transit, passenger rail, and freight rail operations remain a potential target for terrorist activity. While TSA is not recommending any specific actions or countermeasures at this time, TSA does encourage operators to use this as an opportunity to remind employees of the importance of being aware of their work environment and to exercise due caution with equipment and materials that could be used to obstruct or derail trains.”

Within hours of the online magazine’s release, the New York Police Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau also sent out a series of tweets. “We’ve known about the content & threats presented in the current issue of AQAP’s Inspire 17 prior to its release….our robust multi-layered counterterrorism apparatus is designed to protect our air, land, waterways and railways,” the tweets read.

While not minimizing previous, successful rail attacks in Europe, including the 2004 coordinated Al Qaeda plot targeting Madrid, which killed nearly 200 people and injured more than 1,500, Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon said the threat to U.S. rail networks should not be overhyped, but put in context.

“Probably the greatest vulnerability is going to be more in subway lines than in major rail lines,” O’Hanlon explained. “It’s really almost inconceivable to think of how you protect them. On the other hand, you’re generally not going to see quite the number of casualties.”

According to the Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI, the same “Inspire” edition contains a chapter written by Al Qaeda in Yemen’s bomb maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who is most known for his work with non-metallic explosives. The Yemeni was behind the underwear bomb that nearly brought down a flight over Detroit in 2009, and a foiled plot targeting cargo planes bound for the U.S. a year later.

MEMRI said al-Asiri stressed transportation is a “prime target because attacks on them undermine public security and also cause great economic harm by scaring away tourists and investors.” The commentary may be dated because it refers to President Obama’s presidency.

As Thomas Joscelyn at the Long War Journal notes, Al Qaeda has “…intended to wear down the West, in part by driving up the costs of security and waging war. The adjustments made to airline security since the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackings have been costly. Al Qaeda’s failed attempts to bring down airliners in the years that followed have also driven costs up.”

While Al Qaeda has not abandoned the large-scale, mass-casualty attack, these have proven harder to execute. ISIS, which has shown more success with lone wolf operations, and now Al Qaeda seem to understand the impact of these small-cell plots that are so much harder to disrupt, as a top general recently explained.

“…that’s the most dangerous aspect,” Gen. Tony Thomas, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, recently told the Aspen Security Forum. “Because, if you light a match under that — hardest to see, you know, inspired people, hardest to see, certainly hard to — hardest to disrupt and eradicate from a law enforcement standpoint back home.”

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/08/14/al-qaedas-propaganda-magazine-inspire-calls-for-train-attacks-in-us-europe.html

 

Roadside Bomb Blast Kills Eight Soldiers in Southwest Pakistan

August 16, 2017

QUETTA, Pakistan — A roadside bomb killed eight soldiers in a remote district in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan, a government official said on Tuesday, the second attack within days in the troubled region.

The blast late on Monday in Harnai district was some 160 km (100 miles) east of the provincial capital, Quetta, where a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into an army truck on Saturday, killing eight soldiers and seven civilians.

The separatist Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) group claimed responsibility for the bombing in phone calls made to media in Quetta. Islamic State said it carried out Saturday’s bombing.

Image result for Baloch Liberation Army , BLA, photos

Army chief General Qamar Bajwa said the attack was an attempt to mar celebrations on Monday as Pakistan celebrated 70 years since independence from British colonial rule.

“Our resolve won’t succumb to any challenge,” Bajwa said in a statement the army media wing posted on Twitter

 Image result for Balochistan, map

Separatist militants in Baluchistan have waged a campaign against the central government for decades, demanding a greater share of resources in the gas-rich province, which is a key part of a $57 billion Chinese economic corridor through Pakistan.

The province, which shares border with Afghanistan and Iran, was rocked by a series of attacks late last year that raised concerns about a growing militant presence, including fighters affiliated with Islamic State.

(Writing by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Iraqi Kurdish Independence Referendum Will Fuel Instability, Turkey Says

August 15, 2017

ANKARA — Next month’s referendum on Iraqi Kurdish independence violates Iraq’s constitution and will further destabilize the region, a Turkish government spokesman said on Tuesday.

Iraq’s Kurds have said they will go ahead with the referendum on independence on Sept. 25 despite concerns from Iraq’s neighbors who have Kurdish minorities within their borders, and a U.S. request to postpone it.

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“The referendum would contribute to instability in the region,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister and government spokesman Bekir Bozdag told a news conference after a cabinet meeting in Ankara, adding the decision to go ahead with the vote “violates the constitution of Iraq”.

Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist organization by Ankara, the European Union and United States, has waged a three-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.

In Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s government has lost control of large parts of the country, Kurdish YPG fighters hold territory along the border with Turkey and the  plans local elections next month – a move Damascus has rejected as a “joke”.

The U.S. State Department has said it is concerned that the referendum in northern Iraq will distract from “more urgent priorities” such as the defeat of Islamic State militants.

Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak said last week the referendum would harm energy cooperation with northern Iraq’s Kurdish regional authority, which pumps hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day to Turkey’s Ceyhan export terminal.

 Image result for Kurdish  flag, uniform patch

(Reporting by Dirimcan Barut; Editing by Dominic Evans and Janet Lawrence)

A BULLET and the Kurdistan flag are seen on a Peshmerga fighter’s vest during a battle with ISIS.

A BULLET and the Kurdistan flag are seen on a Peshmerga fighter’s vest during a battle with ISIS near Bashiqa, Iraq, last year.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Iraq starts bombing Tal Afar in bid to reclaim town from Islamic State group

August 15, 2017

Reuters and France 24

© Mohamed El-Shahed, AFP | Iraqi government forces drive down a road leading to Tal Afar on June 9, 2017, during ongoing battles to retake the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-08-15

Iraq has begun an aerial bombardment of Tal Afar, a town under Islamic State control west of Mosul, Baghdad-based al-Sumariya TV said on Tuesday, citing an Iraqi Defence Ministry spokesman.

The ground attack to try to take the city should start when the air campaign is over, the spokesman, Mohammed al-Khodari, said, according to the TV channel.

Iraqi authorities had said Tal Afar, 80 km (50 miles) west of Mosul, will be the next target in the war on the Islamist militant group that swept through swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Islamic State’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” effectively collapsed last month, when U.S.-backed Iraqi forces completed the recapture of the militants’ capital in Iraq, Mosul, after a nine-month campaign.

Tal Afar, which had about 200,000 residents before falling to Islamic State, experienced cycles of sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi’ites after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, and has produced some of Islamic State’s most senior commanders.

(REUTERS)

Popular sites targeted in string of Africa attacks

August 14, 2017

© AFP | Burkina Faso gendarmes and troops launch an operation after gunmen attacked a Turkish restaurant in the capital Ouagadougou

PARIS (AFP) – The attack on a Turkish restaurant in Burkina Faso’s capital on Sunday was the latest in a series of assaults in Africa targeting spots popular with foreigners and locals alike.Here is an overview of the worst such attacks in recent years, most of which have been claimed by jihadist groups:

– 2017 –

– August 13: Three gunmen open fire at a Turkish restaurant in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, killing at least 18 people and injuring dozens.

– June 18: At least two people are killed when suspected jihadists stormed the Kangaba tourist resort popular with foreigners on the edge of Mali’s capital Bamako. More than 30 hostages are freed.

– June 14: At least six people are killed when a suicide car bomber targets the popular Posh Treats restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab claims responsibility.

– 2016 –

– March 13: Fourteen civilians, including foreigners, and two special forces troops are killed when gunmen storm the Ivorian beach resort of Grand-Bassam. Al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), claims responsibility.

– January 15: Thirty people are killed, including many foreigners, in an attack on a top Burkina Faso hotel and a nearby restaurant in Ouagadougou. AQIM claims the assault, saying the gunmen were from the Al-Murabitoun group of Algerian extremist Mokhtar Belmokhtar.

– 2015 –

– November 20: Gunmen take guests and staff hostage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in a siege that leaves at least 20 dead, including 14 foreigners. The attack is claimed by AQIM, which says it was a joint operation with the Al-Murabitoun group. Another jihadist group from central Mali, the Macina Liberation Front, also claims responsibility.

– October 31: A Russian passenger jet is downed en route from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh resort to Saint Petersburg, killing all 224 on board. The Egyptian branch of the Islamic State group claims responsibility. Russia confirms the crash was caused by a bomb.

– August 8: Malian armed forces storm the Byblos hotel in the centre of the country, ending a hostage-taking by gunmen that leaves at least 12 people dead including four UN foreign contractors.

– June 26: Thirty Britons are among 38 foreign holidaymakers killed in a gun and grenade attack on a beach resort near the Tunisian city of Sousse. The attack is claimed by the Islamic State group.

– March 18: Gunmen kill 21 tourists and a policeman at the Bardo Museum in Tunis in another attack claimed by IS.

– March 7: A grenade and gun attack on the popular La Terrasse nightclub in Bamako kills five people — three Malians, a Belgian and a Frenchman. The attack is claimed by Al-Murabitoun.

burs-boc/txw

IS Claims Karbala Attack on Iraqi Troops

August 13, 2017

BAGHDAD — A statement from the Islamic State group claims responsibility for an attack on Iraqi troops outside Karbala that left one dead.

Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the Joint Military Command, says the suicide car bomb attack at a checkpoint outside the southern Iraqi city late Saturday injured two others.

The IS statement said the attack targeted a cement factory outside Karbala and resulted in dozens of casualties.

Iraq’s prime minister declared victory over the Islamic State group in Iraq’s second largest city Mosul in July, depriving the group of their last significant urban foothold in the country.

Iraqi forces closely backed by the U.S.-led coalition are now preparing to retake the IS-held town of Tal Afar west of Mosul.

Senior Islamic State commanders killed in Afghanistan air strike: U.S. military

August 13, 2017

By Josh Smith

Reuters

KABUL (Reuters) – Several senior members of Islamic State’s central Asian affiliate were killed in a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The attack on Thursday killed Abdul Rahman, identified by the U.S. military as the Kunar provincial emir for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan, according to a statement from the command in Kabul.

“The death of Abdul Rahman deals yet another blow to the senior leadership of ISIS-K,” said General John Nicholson, the senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

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Abdul Rahman

Three other senior ISIS-K members were also among those killed in the strike in eastern Kunar province.

Nicholson has vowed to defeat Islamic State militants in Afghanistan this year.

The group’s emir, Abu Sayed, was reported killed in a strike on his headquarters in Kunar in July, the third Islamic State emir in Afghanistan to be killed since July 2016.

In April, Nicholson deployed a 21,600-pound (9,797 kg) “Massive Ordnance Air Blast” bomb against Islamic State positions in neighboring Nangarhar province, one of the largest conventional weapons ever used by the United States in combat.

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Smoke rises after the U.S. strikes positions during an ongoing operation against ISIS in Nangarhar province

On Saturday, Afghan officials said as many as 16 civilians, including women and children, had been killed by a U.S. air strike in Nangarhar, but American officials said only militants were killed.

As part of an increased campaign against both Islamic State and the Taliban, the dominant Islamist militant group in Afghanistan, the U.S. Air Force has dropped nearly 2,000 weapons in the country as of the end of July, compared to fewer than 1,400 in all of last year.

Despite some battlefield successes by Afghan and American special operations troops, Islamic State has continued deadly attacks around Afghanistan, fueling fears that the group is seeking to bring the group’s Middle East conflict to Central Asia.

Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Kim Coghill