Posts Tagged ‘terrorists’

Pakistani army: Militants attack patrol, killing 2 soldiers

December 12, 2017

Pakistan troops on patrol in Waziristan. (AFP)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army says militants opened fire on an army vehicle on patrol in the country’s mountainous northwestern region near the Afghan border, killing two soldiers.

Tuesday’s statement says the military vehicle came under attack in the North Waziristan tribal region. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Islamic militants have long been operating in the area.
The military has carried out massive operation against them but militants are able to cross the porous Afghan-Pakistan border and shelter on the other side. They have also been able to carry out cross-border attacks.
The Pakistani army has been constructing a series of fences along the border, which zigzags across a remote and difficult mountain terrain, to check the movement of militants.
Afghanistan objects to the construction of the fences.

Erdogan calls Israel ‘terrorist state’ — Netanyahu responds

December 10, 2017


© TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/AFP | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greets supporters during a rally in Sivas

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday described Israel as a “terrorist state” and vowed to use “all means to fight” against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.”Palestine is an innocent victim… As for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist!” Erdogan said in a speech in the central city of Sivas.

“We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children.”

His speech came days after US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, angering Palestinians and sparking protests in Muslim and Arab countries.

Four Palestinians were killed and dozens injured in violence following the US announcement.

Rockets were fired from Gaza and Israeli warplanes carried out raids on the territory.

Erdogan earlier described the status of Jerusalem, whose eastern sector Palestinians see as the capital of their future state, as a “red line” for Muslims. He called Trump’s declaration “null and void”.

The Turkish president has used his position as the current chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to call a summit of the pan-Islamic group on Wednesday.

“We will show that applying the measure will not be as easy as that,” he added on Sunday.

During his speech, Erdogan held a picture of what he said was a 14-year-old Palestinian boy from Hebron, in the Occupied West Bank, being dragged away by Israeli soldiers.

Turkey and Israel normalised their relations in recent years but Erdogan has continued to defend the Palestinian cause and has regularly criticised Israeli policy.


The Times of Israel

Netanyahu says Erdogan helps terrorists ‘kill innocent people’

PM launches tirade against Turkish leader after he calls Israel a ‘terror state’ that ‘kills children’

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace on December 10, 2017 in Paris. (AFP/Ludovic Marin)

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) welcomes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon his arrival at the Elysee Palace on December 10, 2017 in Paris. (AFP/Ludovic Marin)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused Turkey’s president of being a brutal dictator who supports Palestinian terrorist groups in their efforts to “kill innocent people,” as Israel stepped up a war of words with Ankara over US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem

“I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran get around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people,” said Netanyahu.

“That is not the man who is going to lecture us,” Netanyahu said at a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

Israel has long pressed Turkey to end its support for Hamas and not allow Hamas members to live in Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he speaks during a joint press conference with the Greek prime minister (not seen) in Athens, December 7, 2017. (Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP)

Netanyahu’s comments came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan  vowed to use “all means to fight” against the US recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital.

“Palestine is an innocent victim… As for Israel, it is a terrorist state, yes, terrorist!” he said. “We will not abandon Jerusalem to the mercy of a state that kills children.”

The Turkish leader has employed sharp rhetoric against Israel almost daily in the wake of Trump officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

On Saturday, Erdogan described Israel as a “state of occupation” that used “terror” against the Palestinians.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid also spoke out against Erdogan, invoking the Armenian genocide to denouncing his remarks.

“Those who deny the murder of children in the Armenian genocide should not preach morality at us,” Lapid tweeted on Sunday.

Yesh Atid chief Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting at the Knesset on July 10, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel — along with other countries, including the United States and Germany — has refrained from formally recognizing the Armenian genocide over fears of angering Turkey. Lapid has publicly called on Israel to recognize the targeted mass killings of Armenians as genocide.

Israel and Turkey only last year restored diplomatic relations after years of frozen diplomatic ties in the wake of the so-called flotilla incident. In May 2010, Israeli troops raided the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship and killed nine Turkish nationals aboard who attacked them violently. Israel has apologized and pledged to pay reparations to the families of the deceased.

In a White House speech last week, Trump defied worldwide warnings and insisted that after repeated failures to achieve peace a new approach was long overdue, describing his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the seat of Israel’s government as merely based on reality.

Trump stressed that he was not specifying the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in the city, and called for no change in the status quo at the city’s holy sites.

The move was hailed by Netanyahu and by leaders across much of the Israeli political spectrum.

The change in longstanding US policy has sparked demonstrations across the Muslim world and led to days of unrest in the West Bank and Gaza.

Agencies contributed to this report.


Britain’s MI5 foils Islamist terror plot to kill the Prime Minister — Two men have been charged with terror offences

December 6, 2017


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Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May. Reuters.

The security services have foiled an alleged plot to assassinate the Prime Minister in Downing Street, it has emerged.

An Islamic extremist planned to use an improvised explosive device to blow up the gates of Downing Street before entering No 10 and making an attempt on Theresa May’s life.

Two men have been charged with terror offences and are due to appear in Westminster magistrates’ court.

Details of the alleged terror plot were set out to Cabinet members on Tuesday during a briefing by Andrew Parker, the head of MI5. Mr Parker revealed that British intelligence had foiled nine terror plots in the past 12 months.

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Andrew Parker, the head of MI5

The disclosures about the charges came just hours after an official report into the Manchester terror attack revealed that the suicide bomber had been flagged for closer scrutiny by security services and that the atrocity could have been averted “had the cards fallen differently”.

MI5 investigators misinterpreted intelligence on Salman Abedi earlier this year and it was disclosed his case was due to be discussed at a meeting scheduled for nine days after his May attack at the Manchester Arena.

Salmam Abedi

The report suggested Salman Abedi’s attack in Manchester could have been stopped CREDIT: AFP/GETTY

Internal reviews into the police and MI5’s handling of the four terrorist attacks in Britain this year also revealed one of the London Bridge attackers had been under active investigation by the Security Service.

After the Westminster attack

The Westminster Bridge attacker, Khalid Masood, had also watched suicide attack videos on YouTube in the days before he carried out his assault.

David Anderson QC, a former terrorism law reviewer asked by the Home Secretary to independently check the secret internal reviews, said they were “no cause for despair” and that most attack plots continued to be broken up.

In response to his 61-page report, Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said the blame for the attacks “lies squarely” with the terrorists.

The reviews found that 22-year-old Abedi had previously been a MI5 suspect, but was not under active investigation when he blew himself up among the crowd at an Ariana Grande concert.

Tributes to the Manchester terror attack, which killed 22 people

Tributes to the Manchester terror attack, which killed 22 people CREDIT: BEN STANSALL /AFP

In advance of the attack, officers had on two separate occasions received unspecified intelligence on him “whose significance was not fully appreciated at the time” and which could have led to his case being reopened.

“In retrospect, the intelligence can be seen to have been highly relevant to the planned attack,” the report said.

Mr Anderson concluded that while it was “unknowable” if reopening the investigation would have thwarted Abedi, it was “conceivable that the Manchester attack in particular might have been averted had the cards fallen differently”.

Between March and June, London and Manchester experienced four attacks killing a total of 36 people and wounding another 200.

Abedi had first become an MI5 “subject of interest” in 2014, but it transpired he had been mistaken for someone else and his case was closed. It was reopened the following year on mistaken intelligence that he had contacted an Islamic State figure in Libya.

But though his case remained closed from that point, Abedi “continued to be referenced from time to time in intelligence gathered for other purposes. In two separate instances before the attack, intelligence was received that was “assessed at the time to relate not to terrorism, but to possible non-nefarious activity or to criminality”.

An automated trawl of suspects’ data designed to spot closed cases that may need re-examining identified him as one of fewer than 100 individuals “out of a total of more than 20,000 closed subjects of interest, who merited further examination”.

“A meeting (arranged before the attack) was due to take place on May 31: Salman Abedi’s case would have been considered, together with the others identified. The attack intervened on May 22.”

Mr Anderson said: “With the benefit of hindsight, intelligence was misinterpreted in early 2017.”

MI5’s internal investigation concluded that the decision not to reopen an investigation into Abedi in early 2017 was “finely balanced” and “understandable”. Reviewers decided that “on the clear balance of professional opinion, a successful pre-emption of the gathering plot would have been unlikely”.

Across all of the incidents, three of the six attackers “were on MI5’s radar”. Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said the report “will be a difficult read for everyone in Manchester and most particularly for the  bereaved families and those still recovering from the attack”.

He said the report was obviously the result of “a lot of soul searching” on behalf of MI5 and the police. He said: “I accept its conclusion that there is no way of knowing whether the Manchester attack could have been stopped.

“But it is clear that things could – and perhaps should – have been done differently.”

Thousands displaced as Daesh battles Taliban in Afghanistan

November 28, 2017

Nearly 1.3 million Afghans have been internally displaced since a US-led coalition ousted the Taliban regime in 2001. (REUTERS)
KABUL: Thousands of Afghans have been forced to flee their homes as a result of renewed clashes between Daesh and Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province in recent days, Afghan officials and the UN said on Tuesday.
In the past week, Daesh fighters have overrun a large swath of territory held by the Taliban in Khogyani district near the Pakistan border, which prompted the government to mount a response, Attaullah Khogiani, a spokesman for Nangarhar’s governor, told Arab News.
“The offensive began this morning. It involves only local forces and covers both air and ground resources. The target is anyone who poses threat to the people and the government,” he said, adding that around 600 families have been forced to abandon their homes in the latest fighting.
Citing initial ground reports, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said the clashes had led to the displacement of up to 17,000 people in the area.
UNOCHA explained that, since mid-October 2017, roughly 39,000 new internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the area have been recommended for assistance, 24,000 of whom have received humanitarian aid.
Since January, around 85,059 people have been displaced in the country’s eastern region, constituting 24 percent of the displacements across Afghanistan in 2017, it said.
Nearly 1.3 million Afghans have been internally displaced since a US-led coalition ousted the Taliban regime in 2001.
Aryan Youn, a female MP from Nangahar, said many civilians had died in the latest clashes and that Daesh fighters possessed far superior weapons to the Taliban.
“This time the fighting seemed very long and intense. There are fighters from various countries among the Daesh setup, including locals,” she told Arab News.
Local officials last week reported that Daesh beheaded 15 of its own fighters who wanted to stop fighting in Nangahar.
Youn said that unless the government establishes a permanent presence after liberating the area, people will hesitate to return, as they fear Daesh fighters will simply return when government troops leave again.
Daesh’s focus, she said, was to capture a road leading to Azar district, which links to the neighboring Logar Province, south of the capital city of Kabul.
A number of provincial council members of Logar have also voiced concern about the activities of Daesh in Logar recently.
Both Youn and Attiqullah Amarkhail, a military analyst and retired general, said there were no signs or reports that Daesh fighters from either Syria or Iraq had come to Afghanistan or were involved in any of the clashes in the country.
“They are mostly the foreigners who have fought for a long time in Afghanistan. Daesh may be defeated in Iraq and Syria, but they are not out for good and they are not heading to fight in other parts of the world,” Amarkhail told Arab News. “They will regroup and resurface exactly like the Taliban did after their ouster.”
Afghan officials say former Taliban fighters are the backbone of Daesh’s forces in the country and that the majority of the rest are Pakistani militants supported by Islamabad — a charge the Pakistani government denies.
Many Afghans are puzzled by how the terror group has managed to step up and extend its attacks in Afghanistan in recent years, despite the presence of US-led foreign forces.
Last week in Iran, Afghan Deputy Chief Executive Mohammed Mohaqiq said there are 10,000 Daesh fighters in Afghanistan.
Mohaqiq praised the role of Afghan mercenaries fighting for Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria and commended Iran for its support and efforts there.
His comments displeased officials and MPs back home, who warned they could provoke further attacks from Daesh in Afghanistan, particularly against Shiites, who have largely been the target of the group’s violence in recent months.

Egypt police kill 11 suspected ‘terrorists’ in shootout

November 28, 2017


© AFP | The attack on Rawda mosque killed 305 people, making it one of the world’s deadliest since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United State

CAIRO (AFP) – Egyptian security forces killed 11 suspected “terrorist elements” during a raid on a hideout for militants providing support for jihadists in the northern Sinai, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.A ministry statement said police were still identifying the suspected militants killed in the raid in Ismailiya province after they opened fire on security forces approaching the hideout.

Militants carried out a bomb and gun assault on a mosque in Rawda village in North Sinai province on Friday, killing 305 people — the deadliest in Egypt’s recent history — in an attack thought to have been carried out by the Islamic State group.

It is widely believed in Egypt that the massacre took place at the mosque because Sufi Muslims worshipped there.

The raid on the hideout was part of a security campaign in the province of Ismailiya around the Suez Canal separating the Sinai Peninsula from the rest of the country, and in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya.

Police were pursuing leaders of “terrorist groups in North Sinai that aimed to carry out a series of hostile operations targeting important and vital buildings and Christian churches,” the statement said.

Security forces were able to identify “a group of these elements and the hideouts they were using to hide, train, and store means of logistic support ahead of smuggling them to terrorist groups in North Sinai”.

The statement said police also arrested six suspected militants and three people thought to have smuggled communications equipment to them.

It said weapons, ammunition and communication devices were recovered.

In the Rawda attack, authorities said up to 30 militants in camouflage and flying the black banner of IS surrounded the mosque and massacred worshippers during weekly Friday prayers.

Another 128 people were wounded.

Egypt’s North Sinai-based IS branch has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers, as well as civilians accused of working with the authorities, since the July 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The jihadist group has also targeted Sufis and Christians since authorities cracked down on Morsi supporters, killing more than 700 in one August day in 2013 as they cleared a protest camp in the capital.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared three days of mourning and vowed to “respond with brutal force” to Friday’s killings, among the deadliest in the world since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The army said warplanes struck militant hideouts in the North Sinai in retaliation.

Taliban and Islamic State In Intense Two Day Gunbattle in Afghanistan, Near Border With Pakistan

November 28, 2017



KABUL, Afghanistan — Nov 28, 2017

Image result for Nangarhar province,


An intense gun battle has been taking place over the last two days between Taliban and Islamic State affiliate insurgents in eastern Nangarhar province, a provincial official said Tuesday.

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Attahullah Khogyani, provincial governor’s spokesman, said that hundreds of families have been displaced from villages in Khogyani and Sherzad districts. He said an operation involving air and ground forces was begun to eliminate both insurgent groups from the area.

Six civilians were wounded and there are reports of dozens of casualties among the insurgents, he said.

“The local government officials have already started emergency assistance to the internally displaced people, including cash money, tents, food items and nonfood items,” Khogynai added.

Sherzad, Khogyani and Hasarak districts in Nangarhar are strategic because they link with neighboring Logar province as well as the capital Kabul.

In April, the U.S. military used the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB, against an Islamic State group tunnel complex carved in the mountains in Nangarhar province.

In a separate attack in eastern Logar province, 11 civilians were wounded after a suicide bomber carried out an attack in Puli Alim, the provincial capital, said Salim Saleh, spokesman for the provincial governor. He said two were in critical condition.

The bomber was on foot and targeted a convoy of the provincial deputy police chief, who was passing by a bazaar. He escaped unharmed, Saleh said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Logar, but Taliban insurgents have stepped up their attacks across the country against Afghan security forces and they are active in the province.

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Nangarhar province has a long and porous border with the Tribal Areas of Pakistan

Terror threat to US rail puts law enforcement on alert

November 27, 2017
  • ABC News

Nov 26, 2017, 3:33 PM ET

With terrorist groups renewing calls for would-be attackers to target American rail lines, at least one local law enforcement agency in the U.S. is using drones to help guard against such a threat.

The police chief for the Philadelphia-area’s mass-transit system said he has known for some time that more than 140,000 miles of rail lines crisscrossing America are “porous” and had thought for a while of using drones to monitor the agency’s tracks.

He initiated the drone program after an article in the latest issue of al Qaeda‘s English-language publication gave step-by-step instructions for fashioning a “homemade derail tool” and claimed that railroads are among America’s “easiest targets.”

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Rail passengers at Penn Station

“It is time that we instill fear and make them impose strict security measures to trains as they did with their air transportation,” the publication said.

The al Qaeda article prompted the federal Transportation Security Administration to send a security notice to law enforcement across the nation, ABC News has learned.

Amid this threat, Thomas Nestel, police chief for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transit Authority, told ABC News’ David Kerley, that drones are “a great way for us to patrol a track without walking on the track, putting officers in jeopardy safety-wise.”

“Using the drone can cover a whole lot of area in a much faster span of time,” he said.

“This was bouncing around in my head for a little while and then when that … article came out, I pulled the trigger, I said, ‘Let’s do it,'” Nestel said.

The transit-agency’s drone, which is equipped with a high-resolution camera, can help officers detect intruders or anomalies on the tracks and provide information that could lead authorities to stop trains before they reach a problem area.

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Metro, Washinton DC area

John Cohen, a former counterterrorism coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security and an ABC News contributor said, “Al Qaeda and ISIS are very interested and are urging their followers to conduct attacks against our nation’s rail infrastructure.”

Cohen added, “Securing the rail infrastructure is an incredible challenge. There are literally thousands of miles of tracks. There are rail stations that are open to the public. It’s a very difficult job.”

Terrorists’ targeting of trains is not new. From Madrid to London to Brussels, hundreds have been killed in attacks against commuter trains in Europe.

Threats of rail attacks have hit even closer to home.

In a journal recovered by U.S. Navy SEAL teams during the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader outlined a potential plot against the U.S. rail system to occur on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. (The rail attack never happened.)

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Near Union Station, Washington D.C.

In 2009, the FBI arrested a 25-year-old Afghani national living in Colorado for his role in an alleged conspiracy to bomb the subway system in Manhattan.

And in 2012, an undercover U.S. agent foiled an alleged plot to derail a New York-bound passenger train in Canada.

Still, Cohen said that “for TSA to send out a warning to law enforcement says that, ‘We are concerned about this threat; we need you to be concerned about this threat as well,'” Cohen said.

“It’s nice that they put out a magazine and let us know what suggestions they provide to their followers,” Cohen said of the terror magazine. “Because we’re already thinking about how to defeat attacks.”

ABC News’ Daniel Steinberger and Mike Levine contributed to this report.

‘Channel of ISIS and Al-Qaeda’: Top UAE security official calls for Al Jazeera to be bombed

November 26, 2017

RT — Russia Today

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Dubai’s security chief Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan, known for his controversial social media posts, has called for Al Jazeera to be obliterated. The General accuses the Qatar channel of siding with the perpetrators of this week’s deadly Sinai attack.

“The alliance must bomb the machine of terrorism… the channel of ISIL, al-Qaeda and the al-Nusra front, Al Jazeera the terrorists,” Khalfan wrote on Twitter to his 2.4 million followers, using an older name for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS)

“For how long will they continue to tamper with the security of Egypt and the Arab world?”

Khalfan, who has been a key agitator in the ongoing standoff between Qatar and other Gulf States, underlined his point by putting out a composite picture that placed the channel’s logo next to images of ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi, Osama bin Laden, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, and Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who has his own show on the channel.

The Doha-based Al Jazeera has replied by saying that it is Khalfan who is inciting terrorism, and said that he would bear responsibility for any attacks against its journalists.

“The UAE needs to respond. Khalfan is not just an Emirati citizen but an official in the UAE government. He is using a moment of anger and grief over the terrible attack in Sinai to fuel his hatred against Al Jazeera.” Yaser Abuhilalah, managing director of Al Jazeera Arabic, told al-Quds al-Arabi.

“What Dhahi Khalfan is doing is incitement to terrorism. Terrorism is not just limited to committing a crime, but any act or statement that paves the way for a terrorist act or incites it, and incitement to terrorism is terrorism itself.”

On Friday, militants operating under the Islamic State banner carried out a shooting and bombing of a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai, killing over 300 people, including more than 120 children.

While Al Jazeera did not endorse this or previous terrorist attacks carried out in the name of Islam, it has been accused of terrorism links ever since it became the station to broadcast bin Laden’s messages to the world, which were handed over to its journalists by Al-Qaeda representatives.

Critics have also said that it serves as the propaganda arm of the Qatari state and particularly its security services, promoting their agenda in supporting various movements in the volatile region. Multiple Al Jazeera journalists were arrested in Egypt, where its offices were forced to close in 2013, at the behest of the current regime, over their on-air support of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The channel, which began broadcasting in Arabic in 1996, says that it merely operates outside the national restrictions that hobble other regional broadcasters, insists that it is providing independent journalism, and cites its high ratings in multiple countries as evidence that its editorial lines find resonance with viewers.

Saudi Arabia’s ‘unshakeable position against extremism is based on Shariah’

November 26, 2017

Mohammed bin Amin Al-Jeffery. (SPA)

ROME: Mohammed bin Amin Al-Jeffery, deputy chairman of Shoura Council, stressed that Saudi Arabia’s position on terrorism and extremism is a firm one deriving from the Islamic Shariah, the source of the Kingdom’s statutes and regulations.

Al-Jeffery was speaking on Friday at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Joint Seminar of the Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group and the Sub-Committee on Transatlantic Defense and Security Cooperation at the Italian Parliament headquarters in Rome.
Al-Jeffery underlined the Kingdom’s efforts in fighting terrorism, including the establishment of the Islamic Military Alliance, hosting the historic Arab-Islamic-American Summit in May 2017 and adopting historic and strong decisions to fight terrorism in all its forms and stop its finance, as well as the establishment of the Ideological War Center in Riyadh to combat extremism.
He also pointed out that the Kingdom has signed and ratified the UN resolutions fighting terrorism and the terror-financing sources, enacted many regulations fighting this scourge, criminalized any participation in hostilities, and adopted a blacklist of the terrorist organizations around the world, including Daesh, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, and the Houthis.
Al-Jeffery added: “Saudi Arabia is a target for the terrorist organizations. Since 1992, more than 100 terrorist operations have attacked the Kingdom. However, the Kingdom has foiled 260 terrorist operations and helped save many lives in friendly states by sharing intelligence, participated in every international effort against this scourge and supported the UN with a generous amount of $100 million.”
Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni opened the forum, saying that NATO has a lot of responsibilities in ensuring stability and security around the world. NATO and other friendly states are facing many challenges, the main one being terrorism. He also stressed the importance of international cooperation in standing united against this scourge.
On the sidelines of the forum, Al-Jeffery met with Paolo Alli, chairman of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Al-Jeffery stressed that the Kingdom is keen to promote bilateral relations in all organizations, to collaborate in clarifying the Kingdom’s position on issues of common interest, and to participate in every effort aiming to promote security and stability in the world.
On his side, Alli stressed the importance of the Kingdom’s role on the regional and international map, and its great efforts that contribute directly in supporting the world’s security and peace.
The Saudi delegation at the meeting included two members of Shoura Council, Mohammed Al-Matiri and Dr. Ali Al-Naim, the Saudi Ambassador to Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and Head of the Kingdom’s Mission to the EU, Abdulrahman bin Suleiman Al-Ahmad.


Why the Arab World’s Largest Army Can’t Beat ISIS in Sinai — Failed Strategy, Uneven Effort

November 25, 2017

Egypt has neglected northern Sinai for too long, and now it’s paying the deadly price

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By Anshel Pfeffer Nov 25, 2017 8:39 PM


The Islamic State has yet to take responsibility for the attack on a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai on Friday that claimed 305 lives, but there is little doubt that it was carried out by Wilayat Sinai — an Islamic State affiliate in the Sinai. The organization has targeted Sufis before in other countries and it is currently the only insurgent group operating in Sinai capable of such a large-scale attack. Which leads to the question, why is ISIS, currently in retreat in its former main strongholds of Syria and Iraq, still capable of such operations, in Egypt of all places.


Unlike Syria and Iraq, where Islamic State took advantage of the vacuum created by civil war and demoralized armies, Egypt — despite political upheaval in recent years — still boasts the largest army in the Arab world and for over four years, has been ruled by the iron fist of a military regime. The Egyptian army does not lack for the resources to fight a counter-insurgency war in Sinai, including mobile armored vehicles and attack helicopters. Israel has green-lighted every Egyptian request to reinforce its units in the peninsula, despite the demilitarization protocols of the Camp David peace accords. And yet despite Egypt’s ongoing campaign to wipe out ISIS in Sinai — a campaign which, according to foreign reports, includes major assistance from Israel — the group still retains the capability of launching the sort of devastating attack we saw on Friday.


Egyptian army conscripts guard the Suez Canal University hospital, where the victims of an attack on a North Sinai mosque receive treatment, Ismailia, Egypt, November 25, 2017.MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP
A year ago, the tide seemed to have turned in Sinai. In a series of attacks on Wilayat strongholds, the Egyptians succeeded in eliminating an estimated two-thirds of the ISIS fighters, including their commander Abu Du’a al-Ansari. They were down to around only 300 men when Muhammad al-Isawi, known in ISIS as Abu Osama al-Masri, an Egyptian who had fought with the group in Syria, took command. Al-Masri, with reinforcements, aid and supplies from Islamic State’s base in Libya has succeeded in reviving the organization, with its numbers back to around a 1,000 and more damaging attacks on both military and civilian targets.

According to intelligence sources, the Wilayat’s fighting force is made up of Egyptian Islamists, volunteers from other countries, including veterans of Syria and Iraq, and most crucially, members of local Sinai Bedouin tribes. Their zone of operations is the northern half of Sinai, while for the most part, the Red Sea coast region in the south, where thousands of Israelis spent their High Holidays vacation two months ago, has remained calm. This is not disconnected from the fact that while billions have been invested in building the Red Sea resorts, the villages and towns of the northern Mediterranean coast have remained underdeveloped. Until about three years ago, residents of the region were still making money from the open trade of the smuggling routes that run through the tunnels under the border with Gaza. Egypt has now destroyed all but a few of the tunnels, which are now used exclusively by Hamas and other Palestinian groups, for arms and personnel.

While the local Bedouin tribes in the south are loath to jeopardize their income from Red Sea tourism by cooperating with ISIS in the south, those in the less developed north have fewer qualms. Egypt is now paying the price for decades of neglect of northern Sinai. Its soldiers hunker down in armored vehicles and fortified positions, while the jihadists enjoy cover from local collaborators there and in the nearby mountain passes. Egypt’s energetic sponsorship of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement in recent months was mainly motivated by its interest in ensuring that Gaza doesn’t serve as Islamic State’s backyard — something it was in danger of becoming. But the Egyptians’ real problem is within its own territory. It has allowed northern Sinai to remain a black hole of resentment and radicalism for too long and is now paying the price.


Anshel Pfeffer
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Damaged vehicles outside a Sufi mosque attacked by Islamist militants in Bir al-Abed, Egypt. A government official said the gunmen had set fire to cars parked outside the mosque to hinder escape. Credit Mohamed Soliman/Reuters

CAIRO — After militants massacred 305 people at a packed mosque on Friday in a stunning assault on a sacred place, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi responded as he knows best.

Mr. Sisi went on television vowing to “take revenge” and strike back with an “iron fist.” Moments later, Egyptian warplanes swooped over the vast deserts of the Sinai Peninsula, dropping bombs that pulverized vehicles used in the assault. Soldiers fanned out across the area.

But that furious retaliation, which follows years of battle in Sinai against a vicious Islamic State affiliate that downed a Russian passenger jet in 2015 and has regularly attacked Egyptian security forces there, revived the most troubling question about Mr. Sisi’s strategy in the desert peninsula: Why is it failing?

One of the most striking aspects of the carnage that unfolded on Friday, the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history, was how easy it was for the militants to carry it out.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Egypt’s prosecutor general, Nabil Sadek, described the grisly scene in forensic detail.

Between 25 and 30 gunmen, traveling in five vehicles and carrying an Islamic State flag, surrounded a Sufi mosque on all sides in Bir al-Abed, a dusty town on a road that arcs across the sandy plain of North Sinai.

After an explosion, they positioned themselves outside the main entrance of the mosque and its 12 windows, spraying the worshipers with gunfire. Seven parked cars were set ablaze to prevent victims from escaping. Among the dead were 27 children.

For Sinai residents, the attack deepened an abiding sense of dread about life in a part of Egypt where many feel trapped between barbarous militants and a heartless military. At a hospital in nearby Ismailia, survivors recounted how they leapt through windows as militants raked them with gunfire, or of watching their friends and relatives die.

A victim of the attack receiving medical treatment on Saturday. Survivors recounted how they leaped through windows as militants raked them with gunfire. Credit Amr Nabil/Associated Press

“If even mosques are being targeted, then where are we safe?” said Mohamed Abdel Salam, 22.

For Sinai experts, the assault sharpened scrutiny of Egypt’s counterinsurgency tactics against a dogged Islamist insurgency that has surged in strength since 2013, after Mr. Sisi came to power in a military takeover.

They paint a picture of a stubbornly outmoded approach that is unsuited to the fight, and that perpetuates the mistakes of successive Egyptian leaders.

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Sinai attack needs to be a turning point in Egypt’s war on terror

Isis insurgents in Egypt have established a potent capability despite the continual efforts of the authorities to destroy them

People gather at the site of the Sinai mosque where a bomb and gun assault left at least 235 people dead and scores more injured.
 People gather at the site of the Sinai mosque where a bomb and gun assault left at least 235 people dead and scores more injured. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Egypt’s restive northern Sinai province, where at least 235 people were killed and scores more injured in a bomb and gun assault on a mosque on Friday, has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, when Islamist militants killed more than 30 soldiers in one operation.

More than three years of fighting has failed to crush an insurgency waged by the local Islamic State affiliate, Wilayat al-Sinai (the Governorate of Sinai), which is also blamed for bombing attacks on churches in Cairo and other cities, killing dozens of Christians. It had also carried out the previous deadliest attack in Sinai when it downed a Russian passenger jet carrying tourists back from the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in 2015, killing 224 people.

Russian state security services have admitted that a bomb brought down a Metrojet aircraft over Egypt 

The most obvious suspect for the attack in Bir al-Abed is again Wilayat al-Sinai, though there has been no claim of responsibility.

One clue is the target: worshippers from the mystic Sufi strand of Islam, which is frowned upon by Muslims who follow the rigorous and puritanical version of the faith associated with many Gulf countries. Isis sees Sufis as apostates, and thus not just legitimate targets, but obligatory ones.

Wilayat al-Sinai is one of more than a dozen Isis affiliates established by high command around the Middle East in 2014. As elsewhere, Isis leaders in Iraq used an existing local group as a base for expansion in Egypt. While other “governorates”, such as those in Libya and Algeria, have been almost entirely eliminated, Isis in Egypt has established a potent capability despite the continual efforts of the Egyptian authorities to destroy it.

“It very much fits the Isis modus operandi, even if they are not the only group with the capability locally … [Isis in Sinai] is a potent organisation,” said Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a US-based terrorism specialist.

Earlier this year Isis in Egypt had focused its assaults on Egypt’s Christian minority and killed dozens in at least four attacks.

In July, extremists killed 23 soldiers, including five officers, in an attack on a military checkpoint. This strike was claimed by Isis but is now thought by investigators to have been carried out by local groups affiliated to rivals al-Qaida, which is also active in Egypt.

Ayman al-Zawahiri and Saif al-Adel, the leader of al-Qaida and his most senior lieutenant, are both Egyptian, and have long been keen to expand the organisation’s presence in their homeland.

Al-Qaida targets military personnel, police or officials, but not ordinary Muslims, even Sufis, as part of a “hearts and minds strategy” designed by al-Zawahiri. “Al-Qaida is not more moderate than Isis … just more pragmatic,” said Gartenstein-Ross.

The deeper causes of the violence in Sinai are tragically familiar from elsewhere in the Middle East.

There is the legacy of the 2011 Arab spring uprisings. The fall of President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt led to political turmoil, a security vacuum in parts of the country, and the release of thousands of jailed Islamist militants. The end of Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in Libya released a flood of weapons.

There is also a background of deep and long-held grievances among the marginalised Bedouin tribes of the Sinai. The clumsy and brutal counter-terrorist efforts of recent years have not helped.

One hope is that the deaths on Friday will not be in vain. An attack in 1997 in Luxor killed more than 60 foreign holidaymakers, crippled the tourist industry and appalled ordinary Egyptians. It swung public opinion squarely against the extremists, limiting recruitment and fundraising, while boosting support for an invigorated counter-terrorist campaign. It was a turning point. The campaign against the extremists in Egypt desperately needs another.