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30 septembre 2015 3 30 /09 /septembre /2015 07:45
Mali: Going Through Some Bloody Changes


September 29, 2015: Strategy Page


Since the 18 th the UN has arrested Ahmad al Mahdi al Faqi, accused him of war crimes while he was a leader of an Islamic terrorist group that ran Timbuktu in 2012 and sent him off to Europe for a trial. Specifically al Faqi is accused of ordering the destruction of numerous religious shrines in June and July 2012. Al Faqi was in charge of enforcing “Islamic manners” for Ansar Dine (a largely Malian Islamic terror group). In doing that he supervised the destruction of ancient tombs of Moslem clerics and scholars worshipped by Sufi Moslems. To some conservative Sunni Moslems, Sufis are heretics and their shrines are to be destroyed whenever possible. Ansar Dine was affiliated with al Qaeda which, along with ISIL, encourages this sort of righteous vandalism. The destruction of the tombs was condemned by many Moslem leaders worldwide, and the ICC (International Criminal Court) declared it a war crime. These Moslem shrines were big tourist attractions to visitors of all religions and important to the local economy. Since 2013 foreign donors have supported restoration efforts meant to address religious and economic concerns over this destruction.


The Islamic radicalism in the north has resonated in the south. In central Mali there are several pro-Islamic terrorism Islamic clerics who have been preaching support for Islamic terrorism. The government is under pressure to shut down these guys because they encourage young men to join radical groups and that has apparently worked. This problem is particularly acute among the Fulani people in central Mali. There are some twenty million Fulani living in the Sahel (the semi-desert area between the Sahara and the jungle) and some of those in northern Nigeria have become involved in Islamic terrorism via the local Boko Haram. There are over two million Fulani in Mali and the name of a new Islamic terror group in the south (FLM for Macina Liberation Front) openly identifies with the Fulani (Macina are the local Fulanis). This group became active in early 2015 and has claimed responsibility for several attacks since. It started out with calls for Fulani people to live according to strict Islamic rules. That in turn led to violence against tribal and village leaders who opposed this. That escalated to attacks on businesses and government facilities. FLM is composed mostly of young Fulani men and is associated with Ansar Dine (which is largely Tuareg). Although most Malians are Moslem, few want anything to do with Islamic terrorism and Boko Haram is seen as a major mistake and not welcome at all in Mali. But the Fulani have always seen themselves as a people apart, an attitude common with the nomadic peoples of the Sahel.


In the north the unrest is not just about the few remaining Islamic terrorists but about the changes caused by the 2012 rebellion. That was the fourth Tuareg uprising since 1962 and the most disruptive. Many of the Tuareg and Arab tribes up there gained or lost power because of the 2012 rebellion. The pro-government tribes feel entitled to more power. Many tribes found themselves facing economic problems because of the disruption to traditional smuggling activities. It is now much harder to sneak stuff into Algeria and the peacekeepers disrupted the lucrative drug smuggling operations. Most of the unrest in the north is about money and access to the means to obtain it. The government and the peacekeepers really can’t help much in disputes involving illegal activities. Not openly at least, but peacekeeper commanders and local officials do know what is really going on and have to work around it to reduce the violence and uncertainty. That is essential so that aid deliveries, rebuilding and economic growth can move forward. 


In the last two years the Mali peacekeeping force has suffered nearly 200 casualties, including 42 killed. There have been 18 non-combat deaths. Mali has turned out to be one of the more dangerous UN peacekeeping assignments. Even so the casualties are less than half the peak rate for foreign troops in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.


September 21, 2015: The government agreed with northern leaders and postponed the scheduled October 25th local elections. In the north there is still a lot of unrest and many areas where voting workers cannot safely operate. Tuareg tribal leaders felt too many Tuareg would not be able to vote in October and thus Tuareg would be underrepresented and lose political power.


September 19, 2015: In the south gunmen fired on a police station in the town of Binh, near the Burkina Faso, killing four (two police and two civilians). This was the second such attack in the area within a week. Islamic terrorists are suspected. The police made three arrests in the wake of this latest attack and have dozens of FLM suspects under arrest or surveillance. 


September 17, 2015: In the north (near Kidal) a pro-government militia clashed with CMA (a local Tuareg separatist group). There were dozens of casualties. The peacekeepers have been working for months to settle all the disputes the CMA and pro-government militias have. These are basically old antagonisms between clans and local strongmen. Many power relationships were upset when the Tuareg rebels and Islamic terrorists took control of the north during 2012 and sorting out the aftereffects is taking a long time and a lot of diplomatic and military effort.  

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5 juin 2015 5 05 /06 /juin /2015 11:30
Counter-Terrorism: Data To Die For


June 4, 2015: Strategy Page


One unpublicized reason for the recent American commando raid into eastern Syria was to capture a lot of ISIL documents. The death of a senior ISIL official (chief of finance) and the capture of his wife (heavily involved with running the growing ISIL slave trade) was played up but equally, if not more important was grabbing laptops (each with gigabyes of records) and loads of paper documents. Apparently more raids like this have been authorized, despite the current American reluctance to expose their troops to any combat.


Since late 2001, when the first large capture of al Qaeda documents tool place in Afghanistan, American intelligence has found that the new (as best represented by al Qaeda) generation of Islamic terrorists were better educated (at least at the leadership and staff level) and more comfortable with bureaucratic methods. Some were surprised by all the documents al Qaeda left behind when they fled Afghanistan in 2001, but on reading many of those documents it was clear that all that paperwork indicated a high degree of organization and the potential for organizations like this to be a lot more lethal than they already were. The document analysis showed that the leaders were constantly soliciting new ideas on better ways to train their generally poorly educated (often illiterate) recruits. In many respects all this paperwork was chilling because it made clear that groups like al Qaeda did not just “get lucky” on September 11, 2001 but had carefully thought out, planned and executed that operation and many more that fell apart because it was not easy carrying out such attacks in the West. Many things can go wrong and the al Qaeda planners and organizers were, as the memos, letters and other documents spelled out, aware of the obstacles and constantly seeking solutions.


Subsequently raids by regular troops as well as commandos were made with documents as a major objective. This paid big dividends and later document hauls showed that the terrorists were seeking ways to protect themselves from this vulnerability. So far no highly effective solutions have been found and the captured documents continue to provide devastating (for the Islamic terrorists) hauls of information.


This emphasis on capturing documents rather than Islamic terrorists does not play well in the media and has thus been overlooked by most people but for the troops and the civilian intel specialists the main reason for most raids is information, not dead terrorists and destroyed tools of their trade. Cheap PCs and widespread Internet access has changed everything in even in an organization demanding that the world revert back to a 7th century lifestyle.

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19 mars 2015 4 19 /03 /mars /2015 12:35
Murphy's Law: We Are Shocked, Shocked


March 18, 2015: Strategy Page


 It was recently revealed (during the American trial of an al Qaeda leader) that the CIA provided 20 percent of the $5 million ransom paid for an Afghan diplomat kidnapped by al Qaeda in Pakistan in 2008. This was not intentional. The American money was part of cash provided to the Afghan president each month to keep him in a cooperative mood (in other words, a bribe). The use of bribes in Afghanistan is not news as it was admitted during late 2001 that cash bribes were paid to persuade some tribal leaders to rise up against the Taliban in support of a quick campaign to overthrow the Taliban government by the end of 2001. That use of bribes was not a surprise in 2001 because during the 1980s when the U.S. supported the Afghan tribesmen fighting the Russian troops in Afghanistan it became widely known that cash (for tribal leaders) as well as weapons were required to keep  the anti-Russian resistance going. That was not a surprise in the 1980s because anyone who has even had dealings with the Pushtun tribes (going back to Alexander The Great some 2,500 years ago) reported the same thing. Outsiders consider this rampant use of bribery a major problem but so far no one has come up with a cure.

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7 mars 2015 6 07 /03 /mars /2015 23:35
source komplettie

source komplettie


March 6, 2015: Strategy Page


The U.S. recently revealed that in October Afghan and American commandos raided a remote village where a much-sought al Qaeda leader was reported to be hiding out. The raid was a success, but even more important than the al Qaeda leader was the capture of his laptop computer, intact. After years of fighting Islamic terrorists the U.S. has learned the importance of quickly examining such finds and exploiting information found.


For over a decade now the U.S. Department of Defense has urged American firms for help in developing better tools for quickly analyzing captured electronic data (cell phones, storage devices, and specialized military electronics). Since 2006 the military has been using similar tools developed for police departments. For example, in 2007 troops began taking a hacker analysis tool (COFEE, or Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor) with them on raids in Iraq. Microsoft developed COFEE for the police and military, followed by a similar tool that enables a non-hacker to analyze wireless network activity and determine which targets can be attacked with a variety of hacker tools and weapons. Since the late 1990s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has been developing similar technologies. Details don’t get released, as that would aid potential targets.


In addition to data extraction and analysis devices the troops can carry with them on raids, there has also been an increase in the intel analysis capabilities at all levels (battalion up to the very top). This was the result of adapting tools (mainly software) and techniques from the commercial BI (Business Intelligence) industry, which has developed a lot of powerful research and marketing tools that have direct military application. This is all very geeky but the simple description is software that can quickly find patterns to huge quantities of data or activity. Thus the urgency with which troops grab enemy laptops or even large piles of paper records (even al Qaeda keeps lots of records). The troops know that quickly putting this stuff through a scanner followed by translation and analytics software will usually produce some new suspects to go after and often a current address as well.


The October raid was apparently rapidly exploited using these analysis tools in conjunction with huge databases of known Islamic terrorists and their methods. This led to a noticeable increase in similar raids for the rest of 2014. The military kept quiet about what was behind this spike and were relieved when most media pundits decided this was the result of a decision by the U.S. government to “unleash” American special operations troops in Afghanistan. When the military finally revealed the real reason behind all those additional raids they also described the October laptop as nearly as valuable as the computers and documents seized in the 2011 Osama bin Laden raid.


After October the data in that laptop led to more raids on al Qaeda and Taliban targets, mainly because the data identified a lot of key al Qaeda people and what they did. That provided links to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. The people identified were usually already known and there was existing data on where they were. By using the BI tools on the new data a lot of new connections were uncovered which also provided a list of people who had key jobs (and probably carried around valuable information in their heads or in their electronics devices.) Capturing these people alive was particularly important because the October laptop contained data that made it easier to interrogate the captured terrorists (because the interrogators already knew the answers to many of the questions they were asking and thus could quickly determine if the subject was lying.)


Finally, the capture of this laptop came right after a new president was elected in Afghanistan, who quickly lifted all the restrictions his predecessor had placed on night raids. The laptop also contained a lot of data on al Qaeda operations in Pakistan and that led to more UAV reconnaissance and missile attacks on key al Qaeda personnel there.

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4 février 2015 3 04 /02 /février /2015 08:45
Cartographie de la drogue en Afrique de l'Ouest - source Africa4 1Aug 2014

Cartographie de la drogue en Afrique de l'Ouest - source Africa4 1Aug 2014


January 31, 2015: Strategy Page


Despite major defeats in Algeria and northern-Mali Islamic terrorists continue to be active in western Africa. Thanks to over $100 million a year earned from South American drug gangs (and a few smaller local operations) Islamic terrorists have plenty of incentive to remain active in Sierra Leone, Mauritania, Liberia and Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Algeria and Libya. It is, as one famous bank robber said, where the money is.


The Islamic terrorists mainly use bribery to remain free from attack by local security forces and to get across many international borders. If cash doesn’t work they are also heavily armed and will fight anyone trying to interrupt the movement of tons of cocaine from Guinea-Bissau to the Mediterranean coast and Spain. From there the cocaine is distributed to over four million cocaine users in Europe. This traffic has been going on for at least a decade and all efforts to halt it have failed. Local producers of hashish and marijuana or synthetic drugs can also buy passage to the major markets.


Efforts to halt this operation, and cut the terrorist supply (of cash) line. Has been going on for nearly a decade.  In 2010 the U.S. cut all military aid to of the African nation of Guinea-Bissau, which was in response to Guinea-Bissau refusing to remove military officers known to be involved with cocaine smugglers. The U.S. had proof that the military there had not only been bought off by drug gangs but that the newly appointed head of the army, general Antonio Indjai, was heavily involved in the drug business.


South American drug gangs were using Guinea-Bissau as part of their smuggling route to Europe and the Middle East. Thus West Africa had become a new source of income for al Qaeda. The U.S. tried dealing with the problem in 2010 by putting sanctions on two senior military commanders in Guinea-Bissau. Air force chief of staff Ibraima Papa Camara and former navy chief of staff Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto were accused of being "drug kingpins" and key members of a drug smuggling operation that moves cocaine from South America to Europe and the Persian Gulf, via Guinea-Bissau. The sanctions froze any assets the two men had in the United States and prohibited Americans from doing business with the two. This did not stop the pro-drug commanders, who then staged a coup to remove the anti-drug army commander. To further make their point, pro-drug gang troops also briefly arrested the prime minister. Subsequent negotiations convinced the government to let the pro-drug gang officers have their way. The U.S. is still trying to persuade all West African leaders to stay away from the drug trade.


Al Qaeda has also been seen operating in Guinea-Bissau as Islamic terrorists for a while. In 2008 two al Qaeda members were arrested and charged with murdering four French tourists in nearby Mauritania. At the time the United States already suspected Qaeda involvement in cocaine trafficking in South America. Then al Qaeda operatives began showing up in Guinea-Bissau. Before long, evidence emerged that al Qaeda was there mainly to facilitate cocaine smuggling, not kill or kidnap Europeans.


Since 2008 Algerian police that patrol their southern border have been encountering more and more al Qaeda gunmen escorting drug smugglers. There were four such encounters in 2008, and fifteen in 2009 and the number kept climbing until 2012 when the smugglers realized it was safer to go through chaotic Libya instead. That and more discreet movement of the smugglers made it more difficult to even detect the drug shipments. The most valuable of the smuggled drugs is Colombian cocaine, which is flown into West Africa, and then moved north to Europe and the Persian Gulf (two of the biggest markets). Al Qaeda has been detected working with the Colombian drug cartels to handle movement of the drugs from West African airports to North African ports where local smuggling groups move the drugs throughout Europe.


Apparently al Qaeda learned from the Taliban, which began earning huge amounts in the 1990s by partnering with Afghan drug gangs that produce most of the world's supply of opium and heroin. While both the Taliban and al Qaeda officially condemn these drugs, they don't mind handling the supply chain, and even passing them out to their fighters to keep them in the right mood for dangerous operations. Terrorist leaders justify the drug involvement with the "we are using drugs to destroy our enemies" angle. While there is some truth to that, millions of Moslems also become addicts. This does not help the Islamic terror groups in Moslem countries, where these drugs are as destructive as they are in the West.


Terrorist groups in general have always worked with common criminals in order to raise money, and obtain weapons and other gear. Usually, the terrorists stuck to low profile scams like fraud (credit card, mortgage) and smuggling. Drugs were always considered more profitable, but higher risk and bad for the image. In these desperate times, caution is something the terrorists cannot afford. Either they raise money to keep themselves together as an organization, or simply dissolve. This led to greater use of kidnapping and grand larceny, as well as buying, selling and transporting drugs.


The situation in Guinea-Bissau, however, is different. If al Qaeda can make themselves sufficiently useful to the cocaine gangs operating there, the country could become a new base for the terrorist organization. That may have already happened.

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4 février 2015 3 04 /02 /février /2015 08:35
AQIS source dhakatribune

AQIS source dhakatribune


January 31, 2015: Strategy Page


In December 2014 India banned ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) within its borders. Pakistan has not officially banned ISIL but has made it clear that the government is very hostile to ISIL and any of the growing number of local Islamic terrorist organizations that have declared their allegiance to ISIL. Many factions of Pakistani Taliban have pledged allegiance to ISIL. In mid-2014, at the same time ISIL was beginning to show up in South Asia (India, Pakistan, and so on) al Qaeda announced the formation of AQIS (Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent). This has not amounted to much.


What the South Asian governments and established Islamic terrorist groups are afraid of is the clever recruiting tactics ISIL has developed. ISIL plays on the appeal of Islamic radicals and their legendary (but never fulfilled) goal of establishing a religious dictatorship that eliminates all the corruption and injustice that cripples most Moslem communities. This sort of idealism is especially popular with young (teenage and 20s) Moslem (and some non-Moslem) men and even a few women. In response many Western nations with Moslem minorities have also banned ISIL. For the rational it just seems like the right thing to do.


These bans make it more difficult for ISIL to recruit and raise money, but not impossible. For a Moslem nation it also demonstrates a determination to defeat Islamic terrorism. That’s why the failure of Pakistan and some other Islamic nations to ban ISIL. For many Moslems Islamic terrorism is bad only if it is a personal threat.

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3 février 2015 2 03 /02 /février /2015 18:50
Bundesministeriums der Justiz

Bundesministeriums der Justiz


03/02/2015 Par Frédéric Thérin, à Munich - Le Point.fr


Le ministère de la Justice a préparé une loi pénalisant les personnes qui voudraient "voyager pour commettre, planifier ou préparer des actes terroristes".


Berlin continue de resserrer son étau législatif contre les Allemands qui seraient tentés de participer au djihad. Un projet de loi préparé par le ministère fédéral de la Justice prévoit de pénaliser les personnes qui "voyagent ou souhaitent voyager pour commettre, planifier ou préparer des actes terroristes". Des sources gouvernementales interrogées par le magazine Spiegel ont expliqué que ce texte pourrait être adopté dès demain par le gouvernement afin d'être présenté au Bundestag sans attendre.

La République fédérale souhaite ainsi se conformer à la "résolution sur les combattants étrangers" adoptée par les Nations unies le 24 septembre 2014. Le Conseil de sécurité rappelait à tous ses États membres qu'ils devaient "veiller à ce que toute personne qui participe au financement, à l'organisation, à la préparation ou à la perpétration d'actes de terrorisme ou qui y apporte un appui soit traduite en justice". La résolution exige également que tous les États "veillent à ce que la qualification des infractions pénales dans leur législation et leur réglementation internes permette, proportionnellement à la gravité de l'infraction, d'engager des poursuites et de réprimer (...) leurs nationaux qui se rendent ou tentent de se rendre dans un État autre que leur État de résidence ou de nationalité". On ne saurait être plus clair...


Confisquer la carte d'identité


Jusqu'à maintenant, la loi allemande permettait uniquement de traduire devant les juges les personnes qui partaient à l'étranger pour combattre auprès d'une organisation terroriste reconnue comme telle. Plus de 600 djihadistes allemands sont ainsi parvenus à échapper à la justice en se rendant de manière indépendante dans des zones de conflit. Ce vide juridique sera bientôt comblé par le projet de loi du ministère de la Justice.

Berlin confirme son désir de lutter plus efficacement contre le départ de ses concitoyens vers la "guerre sainte". Peu après les attentats contre Charlie Hebdo et le supermarché casher de la porte de Vincennes, le gouvernement fédéral avait annoncé sa volonté de confisquer la carte d'identité des personnes qui souhaitaient partir à l'étranger pour combattre auprès d'organisations terroristes afin de la remplacer par un "Personalausweis" qui leur interdirait de quitter l'Allemagne. La loi permettait déjà à la justice de saisir les passeports de potentiels djihadistes, mais ces derniers pouvaient encore utiliser leur carte d'identité pour aller en Turquie et se rendre ensuite en Syrie ou en Irak. Une vingtaine d'extrémistes aux passeports confisqués auraient ainsi rejoint l'État islamique ces derniers mois. Berlin a aujourd'hui visiblement choisi de fermer les "chemins de traverse" qui permettaient aux djihadistes de retrouver les combattants de Daesh ou d'al-Qaida.

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10 octobre 2014 5 10 /10 /octobre /2014 07:45
Trois chefs terroristes abattus près de Biskra


07/10/2014 Par Mourad Arbani - algerie1.com


Les éléments des forces spéciales de l’Armée Nationale Populaire (ANP) ont éliminé dans l’après-midi du mardi trois terroristes à Ras El-Miaad (200 km au Sud Ouest de la wilaya de Biskra) a annoncé le Ministère de la Défense Nationale (MDN) dans un communiqué.


En plus de l’élimination des trois individus armés qui seraient des chefs importants d’Al Qaeda au Maghreb Islamique (AQMI), des armes et un lot de munitions ont été récupérées au cours  de cette opération antiterroriste.


Selon les précisions fournies par le MDN, l’embuscade tendue, aux environs de 16 heures, par les éléments d’un cantonnement relevant que la 4e région militaire a permis aussi de récupérer trois armes de type Kalachnikov, un fusil de chasse et une quantité considérable de munitions.

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2 septembre 2014 2 02 /09 /septembre /2014 16:45
U.S. forces carry out operation against al-Shabaab in Somalia


02 September 2014 defenceWeb (Reuters)


U.S. military forces carried out an operation on Monday against al Shabaab militants in Somalia, a U.S. Department of Defense spokesman said.


"We are assessing the results of the operation and will provide additional information as and when appropriate," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement.


No further details about the operation in the African country were immediately available.


Al Shabaab is an Islamist group affiliated with al Qaeda that wants to impose its own strict version of Islam in Somalia. It ruled most of the southern region of Somalia from 2006 until 2011, when African peacekeeping troops marched into the capital, Mogadishu.


African and Somali forces have regained several towns this year, but rebels still hold other centers and tracts of countryside.

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14 août 2014 4 14 /08 /août /2014 16:45
Spain and Morocco break up suspected jihadist recruitment network


14 August 2014 defenceWeb (Reuters)


Spanish police detain an Islamist militant.Moroccan police, working in collaboration with Spanish authorities, have broken up a network suspected of recruiting fighters for the Iraqi-Syrian jihadist group Islamic State, and arrested nine people, Spain said on Thursday.

All those arrested were Moroccan citizens, some with strong ties to Spain, and they were suspected of running operations out of the cities of Fnideq, Tetouan and Fez, the Spanish Interior Ministry said in a statement. It said plans for attacks within Morocco has also been found.

"The dismantled network was dedicated to the recruitment, financial support and dispatch of jihadists for the terrorist organisation 'Islamic State'," it said.


Read more



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14 août 2014 4 14 /08 /août /2014 07:30
Counter-Terrorism: When Rebranding Does Not Work


August 13, 2014: Strategy Page


Hamas hoped for a big popularity boost by taking on Israel again. Didn’t work out that way. While there is a lot of sympathy for the Palestinian civilians in Gaza, Hamas is getting no love. It’s gotten so bad that even when Israel bombed mosques that Hamas has been using to store rockets or fire rockets from there were no protests even in Moslem countries. Hamas appears to be suffering from the Al Qaeda Disease. This happens when an Islamic terrorist group gets a lot of Moslems killed and seems to have no realistic agenda to justify the lives it so enthusiastically snuffs out. Hamas should have seen this coming as what is happening to them is just another case of Islamic terrorist groups suffering a big drop in popularity even among Moslems. This was also seen happening with Iraqi Islamic terrorists (ISIL or Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) who, for the second time since 2007, suffered a major dip in approval ratings because of their seemingly pointless brutality.


Back in 2007 it was the "Al Qaeda In Iraq" leadership that was out of control. Back then opinion polls in Moslem countries showed approval and support of al Qaeda plunging, in some cases into single digits. Thus after the 2003 invasion of Iraq al Qaeda managed to take itself from hero to zero in less than four years. Since that low point al Qaeda recovered somewhat but that kinder and gentler approach did not last and by 2013 the Iraqi al Qaeda (now rebranded as ISIL) was again losing popular support. That was quite visible in 2014 when ISIL seized control of parts of Iraq and promptly slaughtered captured Iraqi soldiers and police, mainly because these men were Shia. ISIL put videos of these mass killings on the Internet.


Then ISIL declared the parts of Syria and Iraq it controlled were the new Moslem caliphate. Naturally the ISIL leaders are running this new caliphate and are calling on all Moslems to follow them. Most Moslems have responded, according to recent opinion polls, by expressing greater fear rather than more admiration for Islamic terrorist groups, especially ISIL. In the meantime (earlier in 2014) al Qaeda leadership condemned ISIL as completely out of control and not to be trusted or supported.


In the last year opinion polls show Moslems becoming more hostile to Islamic terrorists, seeing them as a cause for concern not as defenders of Islam. The same thing happened back in 2007 and now, when Hamas began getting more aggressive towards Israel in June of 2014 they found that there Hama was now considered as pointless, and dangerous to Moslems, as ISIL


When al Qaeda showed up in the 1990s as a post-Afghanistan international Islamic terrorist organization they were popular to Moslems in proportion to how far away the al Qaeda violence was. Once al Qaeda began killing people nearby Moslems tended to change their minds and disliked the Islamic terrorists. In 2013 37 percent of Turks were concerned about Islamic terrorism while now it is 50 percent thanks to increased ISIL violence on the Syrian border and some inside Turkey itself. In 2013 54 percent of the people in Jordan were concerned versus 62 percent for the same reason. In Lebanon, where the Syrian violence spilled over quickly after 2011 last year 81 percent were concerned about Islamic terrorism versus 92 percent today.


The hostility towards al Qaeda in the region has tainted all forms of Islamic radicalism, including the Shia ones (especially Hezbollah in Lebanon). Yet once Islamic terrorism disappears again (as it does regularly) many Moslems will get nostalgic for those legendary warriors seeking to defend Islam. This is a cycle many Moslems would like to break, but so far the cycle of violence persists.

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11 août 2014 1 11 /08 /août /2014 16:45
Counter-Terrorism: Morocco Had A Plan And It Worked


August 5, 2014: Strategy Page


Of all the Arab countries Morocco has had the least problems with Islamic terrorism. There are several reasons for this. First there is geography. Morocco is the westernmost (from Arabia) Moslem country and like the easternmost nation (Indonesia) is least affected by the Islamic radicalism that arose in Arabia in the 7th century and has survived there ever since. Then there is the ethnic factor. While Morocco is nominally an Arab country most of the people were originally Berber, the people native to North Africa for over 40,000 years. Many Moroccans are aware of their Berber ancestry and take pride in it. Berbers resisted, often successfully, the initial advance by Arab Moslem armies and while most eventually converted to Islam, they tend to wear their religion lightly and are not considered the best recruits for Islamic terrorist groups. Yet Islamic radicalism and Arab nationalism still appeals to some young Moroccans but not nearly as many as in other Arab countries. At least a thousand Moroccans are fighting with rebel groups in Syria and since September 11, 2001 thousands of local Islamic radicals have been arrested in Morocco. Most of these were freed largely because they had decided to abandon and avoid Islamic radicalism and actually did so.


The main Moroccan antidote to Islamic terrorism is an ancient monarchy that follows the moderate Malikite form of Sunni Islam. Most North Africans are nominally Malikite but outside of Morocco a greater number are tempted to sample the much more radical Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia. In Morocco the ancient monarchy was always at the center of Malikite worship. The last two kings (Hasan II 1961-99 and Mohammed VI from 1999 to the present) have encouraged democracy and good government as well as adherence to the moderate Malikite Islam. For example the current king has had over 1,600 Malikite religious teachers trained since 2006 and sent them to the 50,000 mosques throughout the country to show local clergy how to better serve their congregations and resist the temptations of Islamic radicalism. This program was in response to radical missionaries sent to Morocco by Saudi Arabia and Iran in the last decade as well as the radical propaganda spread by the Internet and Arab language satellite news channels.


Islamic terrorist groups have tried to establish themselves in Morocco since the 1990s but have found the going very difficult. There have been few Islamic terrorist attacks and those that do occur are swiftly dealt with. For example, in April 2011 a terrorist bomb went off a popular tourist café in Marrakech killing 16 people. Most of the dead were foreign tourists and it was the worst terror attack in eight years. The bomber was sloppy however and police were able to track him down along with two accomplices. What they found was a determined al Qaeda admirer who was unable to connect with al Qaeda central or travel to current terrorist hotspots (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Chechnya) because the Moroccan police were monitoring anyone going to those places. But the arrested man was able to get a workable bomb design on the Internet, and was able to get bomb making materials locally. There is a lot of official al Qaeda "how to be a terrorist" stuff on the Internet, but wannabes tend to pay insufficient attention to the need for security. The incident also demonstrated that as long as there is a lot of pro-terrorist propaganda out there some small percentage (often less than one percent) of the population will buy into to it, and seek to carry out terror attacks. Since there are so few terror attacks in places like Morocco, each one that does occur is a big deal. But it's not much of a trend.


A year earlier Morocco announced it had destroyed a 24 man terrorist cell. Four of those arrested had previously been in jail for terrorist activities. This cell was not only planning attacks, but had also been active in recruiting Moroccans for terrorist groups in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. Since 2003, when Islamic radicals throughout the Arab world became enraged by the American invasion of Iraq, Morocco shut down 60 Islamic terrorist cells. In early 2010 there were over a thousand Islamic radicals jailed in Morocco. Despite all this, Morocco was having a peculiar problem with Islamic radicalism. Iran sent missionaries for a while. These fanatics were armed with lots of cash and engaged in aggressive attempts to convert Moroccans to the militant brand of Shia Islam favored in Iran. This so angered Morocco that diplomatic relations with Iran were cut in 2009. Morocco also cracked down on Wahhabi missionaries from Saudi Arabia, and Islamic radicals in general. The king had an advantage in that he is a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed (important for any Moslem leader) and is generally popular. The Moroccan government is not as corrupt and inept as others in the Arab world, but is not a whole lot better either.


Meanwhile Morocco helps other North African and Sahel countries deal with Islamic terrorism. Morocco sends religious teachers and is always ready to discuss specific problems that Morocco had already taken care of at home. One problem Morocco has handled well is economics. Without oil Morocco has prospered by making it easy to start and operate businesses and resisted the temptation to nationalize sectors of the economy. While Morocco does not have the highest per-capita GDP in North Africa it recognized as having the best quality of life.

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4 juillet 2014 5 04 /07 /juillet /2014 07:45
Four Tunisian soldiers killed in landmine blast


03 July 2014 defenceWeb (Reuters)


Four Tunisian soldiers have been killed in a landmine blast during an operation against Islamist militants in the north of the country, TAP state news agency reported on Wednesday.


Tunisian forces are battling militants from the hardline Islamist group Ansar al Sharia and other al Qaeda-linked fighters, especially since April when they began a new offensive on militant hideouts in the Chaambi mountains bordering Algeria.

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18 décembre 2013 3 18 /12 /décembre /2013 17:45
Kenyan soldiers outside Westgate Mall

Kenyan soldiers outside Westgate Mall


12 December 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)


The European Union has offered to increase counter-terrorism support to Kenya after the Westgate mall attack in which gunmen from a Somali Islamist group killed at least 67 people in Nairobi, a senior EU official said on Wednesday.


Kenya, an ally for Western powers trying to curb the spread of radical Islam out of east Africa and in particular Somalia, has in the past suffered major attacks on its soil by al Qaeda and its Somali affiliate al Shabaab.


Analysts and diplomats say the five-day Westgate siege showed large holes in Kenya's security apparatus despite Israel, the United States and Britain training many Kenyan intelligence, military and police officers over the years.


Human rights groups have also accused Kenya's Anti Terror Police Unit of brutality and extra-judicial killings of mainly Muslim men suspected to have linked to al Shabaab. Kenyan officials have repeatedly dismissed the allegations.


Nick Westcott, EU managing director for Africa, said EU plans include helping Kenya boost regional intelligence co-operation, greater support for Kenya's crisis response co-ordination and tracking financial flows of terror suspects.


During the Westgate attack Kenya's main intelligence agencies were criticized for their poor communication and information sharing with each other, as well as east African and Western intelligence agencies.


Westcott said the EU has also offered support and advice on how to deal with "radicalization of political discourse which encourages people to resort to terrorism".


"A lot of these are issues we've had to face ourselves in Europe so we have experience and skills that we are very happy to transfer to Kenya," he told reporters in Nairobi.


More Kenyan police could be trained in Europe, he said.


Westcott also told Kenyan officials it was important to find the right balance between security and civil freedoms.

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6 novembre 2013 3 06 /11 /novembre /2013 18:45
photo EMA

photo EMA


05 November 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)


France will not delay its troop withdrawal from Mali despite a resurgence in violence that saw two French journalists killed at the weekend, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday.


France, which sent soldiers to its former colony in January to combat militants who had taken over swathes of the country, has already pushed back by two months plans to reduce troop numbers to 1,000, from 3,200 by the end of the year.


Fabius, speaking on RFI radio, confirmed the French army had redeployed 150 soldiers from the south to Kidal, the Tuareg rebel stronghold in the north, where instability has grown in recent months.


"President (Hollande) immediately decided to strengthen our presence in Kidal, but that does not put into question the calendar and the reduction of French forces," Fabius said.


Malian forces and U.N. peacekeeping troops would also be increased, he said.


France launched air strikes and sent thousands of soldiers into Mali in January to drive back al Qaeda-linked rebels it said could turn Mali into a base for militant attacks.


Islamists scattered during the French assault and a presidential election was held in August that brought Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to power.


Legislative elections are due on November 24, but the journalists' deaths follow a string of attacks in the desert zone of northern Mali.


Last month Malian and international forces launched a big operation to keep pressure on Islamist groups.


Although Malian, U.N. and French troops are stationed in Kidal, none are heavily deployed. The Malian army's contingent is generally symbolic and soldiers are confined to their base.


About 200 U.N. peacekeepers (MINUSMA) are officially in control of security and France also has about 200 troops, though their operations in the region have focussed on the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains to the north, which served for years as a hide-out for militants.


Officials said on Monday that French and Malian forces were hunting the killers of the journalists and questioning suspects, with Fabius suggesting Paris believed Islamist militants were behind the attack.


He said on Tuesday the situation was difficult in the north, but that Paris would continue to support the Malian authorities.


"President (Keita) is the one who needs to take decisions and France stands by him," Fabius said. "In the next few days we will perhaps be forced to take a number of decisions," he added without elaborating.

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9 octobre 2013 3 09 /10 /octobre /2013 16:45
No time constraints for U.S. in holding Libyan on ship: experts

09 October 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)


A terrorism suspect grabbed in Libya by U.S. special forces will likely be held on a Navy ship until interrogators decide he has provided as much information as he is going to, and there are no legal constraints on how long that may be, experts said Tuesday.


But while the U.S. government is not running against a legal clock to hold al Qaeda suspect Nazih al-Ragye, it will not want to keep him too long on board the USS San Antonio at sea, which could prompt accusations of flouting Geneva Conventions, U.S. experts say.


Also known as Abu Anas al-Liby, he was snatched from the streets of Tripoli over the weekend and is being questioned on the ship by a specialized interrogation team for high-value suspects.


While the U.S. government has not said what the next step will be for Liby, experts say he is likely to be brought to stand trial in New York where there is a federal indictment against him.


In 2011, a Somali man suspected of helping al Qaeda, Ahmed Abdulkadir Warsame, was held on a U.S. Navy ship for questioning for over two months without being advised of any legal rights before being brought to New York City to face charges.


One U.S. official said there was no time constraint necessarily associated with Liby's confinement. He was being held on an amphibious transport dock ship that can transport helicopters and hundreds of Marines.


"It doesn't matter the length of time as long as (he's held) in a humane condition," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.




Senior al Qaeda operatives are subject to military detention under a 2001 authorization for the use of military force, and there is no requirement that they be held in a particular place, Stephen Vladeck, a professor at American University Washington College of Law, said.


"I do think the longer they hold him (on ship) the more they risk their legal position in a subsequent criminal case," he said. "That's the administration's calculation - that they want to hold him, but not so long that it's going to be really, really hard to get a judge to sign off when they ultimately do prosecute him."


U.S. government officials have also been very careful to say that no decision has been made on whether Liby will be tried in a civilian or a military court because such declarations might influence subsequent judicial proceedings, U.S. experts said.


The raid in Tripoli was carried out by the U.S. Army's special operations Delta Force rather than the CIA, which grabbed a suspect off the streets of Italy a decade ago in a famous case of a U.S. abduction of a terrorism suspect.


Hina Shamsi, director of the national security project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the U.S. raid to grab Liby off the streets in a foreign country was the first reported "rendition" of its kind under the Obama administration.


President Barack Obama has little doubt of Liby's involvement in plots against Americans. The Libyan is accused in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 civilians.


"We know that Mr. al-Liby planned and helped execute plots that killed hundreds of people, a whole lot of Americans. And we have strong evidence of that. And he will be brought to justice," Obama told a news conference in the White House.


It remained unclear what precisely the Libyan government knew about the operation to snatch Liby and when exactly it was informed.


Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said Libyans accused of crimes should be tried at home but the raid in which Liby was grabbed in Tripoli would not harm ties with Washington.


Charles Stimson, a national security law expert at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said he believed Liby could be held an extended period aboard the ship without any serious risk to the government's case against him in a criminal court.


"Will a long period of time, 20, 30, 60 days on the ship, unnecessarily complicate the ability to try him in federal court? I think the answer is no," he said.


The U.S. administration is not saying what the plan is for Liby other than to bring him to justice.


"The administration is worried that anything it says could be used later on to say the clock should have started the second they said we are going to prosecute him," Vladeck said.


State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the United States had been in touch with the International Committee of the Red Cross about Liby and "he's being treated humanely," but she declined to comment on the next step.


Daniel Benjamin, a scholar at Dartmouth College and former counterterrorism coordinator at the State Department, said operations in which the United States pursues criminal suspects overseas is not a new phenomenon.


"In the case of the Libya operation it puts the Obama administration square in a tradition that goes back to the Reagan administration of pursuing people for whom there are indictments and confirming the United States never gives up on any of these cases," he said.

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25 septembre 2013 3 25 /09 /septembre /2013 06:45
Africa’s Coming Drone Wars

September 24, 2013 @PeterDoerrie - war-is-boring


Drones are useless against advanced enemies, so “pivot to Asia” actually means “drones to Africa”


Not too long ago, Mohamed Bazoum, the foreign minister of the western African nation of Niger gave a provocative endorsement to unrestricted drone warfare. The target: drug dealers moving their wares through the country — along with everyone else who makes money from the narcotics trade.

“I would really welcome armed drones to shoot down drug traffickers,” Bazoum said. “And all those who live from activities linked to drug trafficking. I don’t see why that shouldn’t be possible.”

It’s not, yet. But Niger’s government has gotten a taste of the capabilities of U.S. drones with the deployment of two MQ-9 Reapers (the successor of the pop-culture famous Predator drone) to a base near Niamey, Niger’s capital, in February. The unmanned planes are armed with only cameras and sensors — not bombs — but Niger’s government isn’t the only African nation that’s acquired a taste for more.

Many African states sport huge territories, of which large swathes of land are only sparsely inhabited. This is exploited by armed rebel groups all over the continent, who use the remote areas to prepare for attacks.

Some of these groups, like Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) or Al Shabaab in Somalia have made international headlines in recent years, ousting the government from large parts of the national territory in Mali and Somalia, respectively. Al Shabaab is believed to be responsible for carrying out the worst terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 embassy bombings.

The U.S. government probably wouldn’t have cared very much, but both AQIM and Al Shabaab are Islamist groups with strong links with Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Yemen, and members of the African affiliates have been involved with organizing and staging terrorist attacks abroad.

Other armed groups — both Islamist and others — kindle the interest of U.S. militaries and policy makers as well. Boko Haram is another Al Qaeda affiliated group that’s in open warfare with the Nigerian government. The defeat of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (though now active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic) has been made a cause célèbre by American advocacy groups. Various rebel groups in eastern Congo have made it on the government’s radar as well.

Last but not least, there are a range of other armed groups with little impact on U.S. interests directly, but which are a huge thorn in the sides of important U.S. allies — the Oromo Liberation Front in Ethiopia is a case in point.


Read more

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23 septembre 2013 1 23 /09 /septembre /2013 12:45
Kenya : Mall Massacre Sends The Wrong Message

September 23, 2013: Strategy Page


In Nairobi, Kenya the fighting with Somali al Shabaab gunmen in a mall continues. The government says that most hostages have been freed and that troops are closing in on the remaining terrorist gunmen. An Internet announcement said the terrorists in the mall were holding hostages, which they would kill if security forces continued attacking them. Last night the government said the mall was being cleared and would soon be safe. The hostages have been used as human shields, complicating army and police efforts to eliminate the terrorists inside the mall. Al Shabaab describes the mall attack, which has left nearly a hundred dead and 200 wounded, as retaliation for Kenyan peacekeepers coming into Somalia to fight the Islamic terror group. The Kenyan government repeated promises that attacks like this will not lead to a withdrawal of Kenyan troops from southern Somali. What’s going on between Somalia and Kenya goes back a long time. The Somalis have been raiding what is now Kenya for centuries, and for once the Kenyans have the upper hand. They are not dissuaded by terror attacks. Al Shabaab believes that an attack of this magnitude would change that. So far the Kenyan reaction appears more anger than fear and that bodes ill for Somalis (citizens and refugees) living in Kenya.


Al Shabaab sponsored terror attacks in Kenya over the last few years has created a backlash against the Somali population there. There is growing tension between Kenyan Christians and Somalis. About ten percent (4 million) of Kenyans, mostly along the coast, are Moslems and most of these are ethnic Somalis. There has always been some Islamic radical activity among Kenyan Moslems, but the police have been particularly attentive to it after Kenyan Moslems were found to be involved in terrorist operations in the 1990s.


What the police have not done, however, is make much of a dent in the criminal infrastructure that supports smuggling, money laundering, a black market for guns, IDs and drugs and much else. The cops are often bought off, and the criminal gangs (especially the many Arab and Somali ones) provide support for terrorist operations in Somalia and Kenya. For example, a lot of the pirate ransom money ended up in Kenya, either for purchases of goods shipped to Somalia, or to be laundered and invested. Wealthy Somalis often find it prudent to go into exile, and Kenya is a popular place to retire to.


Then there are the overseas Somalis. Most of these are in Britain (300,000) and the United States (150,000). There are also half a million Somali refugees in northern Kenya and several hundred thousand more in places like Ethiopia and Yemen. Somali Islamic radicals often send their families into exile, to protect them, and some Islamic radicals have themselves gone into exile. There, Somali men, usually young (teenager to early 20s), are recruited and sent back to Somali for more indoctrination and training. Some are killed there, and some return to the U.S. and Britain to help with recruiting and, it is feared, to carry out terrorist attacks. This Western source of recruits has been largely shut down but Somalis outside Somalia continue to be a source of radicalized recruits for al Shabaab and cash for terrorist organizations. 


The Somali Islamic radicals have long been recruiting from among Kenya's Moslem population. This recruiting has slowed in the last year, because of the many defeats al Shabaab has suffered recently in Somalia. But many radicalized young Somalis are still living among the refugees and Moslem populations of Kenya. Police attempts to find and arrest Islamic radicals are often clumsy and result in innocents being rounded up or killed. This just creates more anger in the Moslem neighborhoods. The mall murders are expected to increase the police pressure on Kenyan Somalis. Many al Shabaab believe that this might trigger a Moslem uprising in Kenya and lead to a combined Somali-Kenyan Islamic state. This is pure fantasy but it’s the sort of thing Islamic terrorism thrives on. The mall attack and continued terror attacks in Somalia appear to be al Shabaab’s way of remaining in the news. A group like al Shabaab survives only as long as it can attract new recruits and cash donations. Western governments are trying to cut off the flow of cash to al Shabaab, and that is having some impact. But the fanatical puritanism and righteousness of Islamic terror groups still appeals to some young Moslem men, who see little future for themselves. Most Moslem societies have major problems with providing education and curbing corruption. This combination discourages foreign investment and economic growth. The Islamic radical solution is a mirage, but to the young, unemployed, uneducated and violence prone it resonates.  


It is believed that al Shabaab attacked this particular mall because it is popular with foreigners and wealthy Kenyans. Many Moslems work or shop there and some are believed to have died despite al Shabaab efforts to spare Moslems. Al Shabaab also made much of the fact that some of the mall owners are Israeli and Israel has been helping Kenya with intelligence and expert advice that has been useful in the fight against Islamic terrorists.


In Mogadishu two years of increasing security has attracted more foreigners (diplomats, aid agencies and entrepreneurs) and that has sent real estate values increasing by a factor of ten or more. This has forced out many long-term renters and led to corrupt officials assisting in the theft of some properties. This is usually done using false ownership documents obtained by bribing a government official and then bribing police to assist in the eviction. Court officials are then bribed to make the theft stick. This is causing a long of anger in the city. In addition the government is forcing over a hundred thousand refugees from areas outside the city.


September 21, 2013: In Nairobi, Kenya some 15 al Shabaab gunmen stormed into an upscale mall and began killing people. Those who could prove they were Moslem were spared but all others were killed. Automatic weapons and grenades were used and by the end of the day 59 were confirmed dead and over 200 wounded. Many of the casualties were women and children. Soldiers and police responded quickly and drove the attackers into a single location where the gunmen kept shooting and said they had hostages. Israeli counter-terrorism experts who were in Kenya quickly went to the mall to assist the security forces. Israel offered additional help.


Al Shabaab had its twitter account shut down again for violating Twitter terms of service by announcing the Nairobi attack and taking credit for it. Al Shabaab had that account shut down on September 6th for more Terms of Service violations but the terrorist group started a new account on September 10th. Last February al Shabaab began using a new Twitter account and criticized Twitter for shutting down al Shabaab’s original (since 2011) account on January 20 because the Islamic terrorists had used Twitter to make specific threats against several people on January 16th. This is not allowed by the Twitter terms of service. The al Shabaab account had over 20,000 followers.


September 16, 2013: Some 30 kilometers north of Mogadishu peacekeepers and Somali troops forced al Shabaab out of Mahadeey. The town is one of dozens of small places still held by al Shabaab gunmen. Al Shabaab rarely fights to hold onto these places anymore and flees at the approach of troops. The al Shabaab men will find some other place to set up shop. If cornered, groups like this will often fight to the death.


Uganda has ordered 24 of its peacekeepers to return home tomorrow and face charges of corruption. Those recalled include some officers, one them was the general commanding the Ugandan peacekeepers, whose next job was to be the military attaché at the Ugandan embassy in Kenya.  The soldiers were caught stealing supplies meant for Ugandan peacekeepers and selling the food and fuel on the black market. Some junior officers reported suspicions that some of their superiors in Somalia were involved. The Ugandan troops had been complaining of shortages and the government quietly conducted an investigation.


September 14, 2013: Al Shabaab fired on a peacekeeper base outside Marka (70 kilometers south of Mogadishu) and apparently set off a bomb inside the town. Although AU peacekeepers and Somali troops drove al Shabaab gunmen out of the port town of Marka a year ago, there are still armed al Shabaab operating in the area. This town has long served as a base for al Shabaab terrorists carrying out attacks in Mogadishu.  


September 13, 2013: In Kismayo, some al Shabaab gunmen attacked a military base. No casualties were reported but there were believed to be dead and wounded on both sides.


September 12, 2013: In Kismayo a car bomb exploded near the convoy of Ahmed Mohamed Islam (the senior government official in the southern region now called Jubbaland). Several civilians were killed but the intended target was unharmed. It’s not known if the attack was carried out by al Shabaab or local political rivals of Ahmed Mohamed Islam.


In the south (Al Baate) an American (Omar Shafik Hammami) member of al Shabaab was killed in a shootout with other al Shabaab members. Hammami has been with al Shabaab since 2006 and handled Internet propaganda for the terrorist group. Last year he was condemned to death by al Shabaab leaders who objected to Hammami accusing them of corruption. Six months ago the U.S. announced a $5 million reward for help in capturing Hammami, who has been hiding out in Somalia, apparently unable to get out of the country. Islamic terrorists with a large price on their heads and condemned to death by their fellow terrorists have limited options when it comes to finding sanctuary. There were many other Islamic terrorists, including some al Shabaab members, who supported Hammami. Apparently two of these allies died with Hammami. Some terrorist groups criticized al Shabaab for killing Hammami rather than clearing up the corruption charges.


September 11, 2013: Near the Ethiopian border (Hiran, central Somalia) al Shabaab executed two of its own men, one for spying and the other for armed robbery.


September 9, 2013: In Mogadishu al Shabaab fired mortars at a residential areas and an army base. There were no casualties.


September 8, 2013: In Mogadishu al Shabaab used a roadside bomb to attack a military convoy, but only managed to damage one vehicle.


September 7, 2013: In Mogadishu al Shabaab set off two bombs in a parking lot, killing 18 people.


September 3, 2013: Outside Mogadishu al Shabaab used a roadside bomb to attack a convoy carrying the president. The target was unharmed.

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18 septembre 2013 3 18 /09 /septembre /2013 17:45
Spain arrests Ceuta man accused of sending fighters to Syria

17 September 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)


Spain arrested a man in its North African enclave of Ceuta on Monday accused of recruiting fighters for rebel groups in Syria's civil war, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.


Spanish authorities said the man led a group that has sent dozens of people to Syria, including minors, from Ceuta and cities around Morocco.


"His name is Yassin Ahmed Laarbi, who was a fugitive and wanted by the High Court for belonging to a terrorist organization," the statement said.


Spain arrested eight members of the group in June in Ceuta. Laarbi eluded capture at the time.


Spanish officials accused the group of sending fighters to an arm of al Qaeda in Syria and said some of the recruits took part in suicide attacks and others had joined training camps.


The United Nations says more than 100,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict since March 2011.


Islamist fighters, including veterans of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Libya, have joined the rebels with the aim of toppling President Bashar al-Assad.

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13 septembre 2013 5 13 /09 /septembre /2013 07:45
Mali army, rebels clash for first time since peace deal

12 September 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)


Three Malian soldiers were wounded in clashes with separatist Tuareg rebels on Wednesday, the army said, the first clashes since the two sides signed a ceasefire deal in June.


The fighting took place near the western town of Lere and comes a week after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was sworn in, highlighting simmering tensions as he seeks to secure an end cycles of uprisings by northern rebels.


Last year's rebellion triggered a coup and was then hijacked by better-armed al Qaeda-linked Islamists, who seized northern Mali. France sent thousands of soldiers to its former colony in January to halt the Islamists' march southward.


A United Nations peacekeeping mission is now rolling out to ensure stability as French troops gradually withdraw.


"An army patrol came across some gunmen in four-wheel drives. They refused to follow the army's orders and opened fire on the troops," said army spokesman Captain Modibo Naman Traore.


Traore said three soldiers were wounded.


Attaye Ag Mohamed, one of the founders of the Tuareg-led MNLA rebellion, accused the army of starting the fighting by surrounding their position. He did not give any toll.


According to the ceasefire deal signed to allow elections to take place in July and August, Keita has 60 days from the naming of his government last Sunday to start talks over a final deal with the rebels.


Keita has promised national reconciliation but will be under pressure from southern Malians not to make major concessions to the Tuareg, whom many blame for sparking their country's collapse last year.

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12 septembre 2013 4 12 /09 /septembre /2013 12:45
Algeria : The Terrorist Who Would Not Die

September 12, 2013: Strategy Page


Over the last four months some 12,000 troops have been sent to the Tunisian border. There, sixty new outposts and small bases were established and have apparently succeeded in preventing any of the Islamic terrorists active just across the border from entering Algeria. Tunisian forces have been searching for this group (of at least 30 armed men) but have only encountered them a few times since January. The terrorists have staged some bombings and ambushes but have apparently devoted most of their efforts to not getting found. Algeria fears that if the Tunisian forces get too close the Islamic terrorists will try to escape via Algeria. Some of the Tunisian terrorists are believed to have been men who were in northern Mali and fled the French-led January offensive.


The government has come out in opposition to any foreign intervention in the Syrian civil war. Algeria has long called for an end to violence in Syria, but only through negotiation. While many members of the Algerian dictatorship would like to see the Assad family retain power in Syria, it is more important to keep the "Arab Spring" movement out of Algeria. So far, the "old revolutionaries" (the families that led the 1950s war against the French colonial government) continue to run Algeria, and exploit it for their own benefit. This has been going on since the French left in the early 1960s. They do this via rigged elections and a very efficient security force. Using government power to cripple opposition parties does not always work. For example, in 1992 Islamic parties won an election that would have given them control of the government. The military staged a coup to halt that, which triggered fifteen years of Islamic terrorism. Although the Islamic terrorists were defeated, they were not destroyed, and a few hundred terrorists and supporters keep the killing going, if just barely. While the government has the edge, as long as the nation is run by an unpopular dictatorship, there will continue to be unrest.


September 10, 2013: Algerian Islamic terrorist Mokhtar Belmokhtar has shown up in a new video, refuting claims that he was killed. Belmokhtar is infamous for organizing the January raid on a natural gas facility in southern Algeria that got 70 people killed (including all the attackers). Last month he announced the formation of a new Islamic terrorist group ( Al Mourabitoun) that merged African Islamic terrorists (mostly from Mauritania) with the largely Algerian and other Arab men Belmokhtar had been leading. Belmokhtar likes to let people believe he is invincible. That began when Belmokhtar survived fighting Russians in Afghanistan during the 1980s. After that he fought, and lost, an Islamic terrorist uprising in Algeria during the 1990s. After that he joined al Qaeda and carried out several attacks. Last year he split from al Qaeda and formed another Islamic terror group in Mali. He soon had to flee the French-led invasion of northern Mali and is now believed to be in Niger or Libya.


September 8, 2013: In two incidents 110 and 50 kilometers east of the capital security forces killed two Islamic terrorists. Weapons and ammo were seized in both incidents.


September 5, 2013: In a rural village 300 kilometers east of the capital some 300 people demonstrated about water shortages outside a government building. Police were called and 19 people were arrested while breaking up the crowd. There are more demonstrations like this as people demand more from their corrupt and often incompetent government.


August 31, 2013: Tunisia announced restrictions on border crossings with Algeria and Libya. Local authorities would have to vouch for anyone coming in or going out. This is all about preventing Islamic terrorists up north in the Atlas Mountains from getting out and for stopping anyone from Libya coming to the aid of these terrorists.


August 28, 2013: Three soldiers were killed and four wounded west of the capital (Ain Defla province) by a roadside bomb. The army patrol was searching the coastal hills for Islamic terrorists believed hiding there.


August 25, 2013: Just across the border in Mali French troops arrested a senior al Qaeda leader (Mousbaa Nadir) who was thought to be hiding in Algeria.

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3 septembre 2013 2 03 /09 /septembre /2013 07:30
source Ministère de la Défense - France

source Ministère de la Défense - France

BRUXELLES, 2 septembre - RIA Novosti


Il faut riposter sévèrement à l'attaque chimique en Syrie pour dissuader d'autres dictateurs, a déclaré lundi à Bruxelles, le secrétaire général de l'OTAN Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

"Il faut que la réaction de la communauté internationale permette d'éviter une nouvelle attaque chimique à l'avenir, qu'elle soit un signal dangereux pour les dictateurs du monde entier", a indiqué M.Rasmussen lors d'une conférence de presse.

Commentant l'éventuelle intervention militaire en Syrie, le secrétaire général a souhaité que cette opération soit courte et ciblée.

Le secrétaire général a par ailleurs de nouveau appelé à régler la situation en Syrie par la voie politique. Il s'est dit persuadé que les autorités syriennes étaient responsables de l'emploi d'armes chimiques dans le pays.

A la question de savoir pourquoi l'Alliance ne considérait pas le règlement de la situation en Syrie comme une mission prioritaire, M.Rasmussen a noté que l'OTAN n'avait pas de rôle en Syrie. Selon lui, le rôle de l'Alliance consiste à protéger la Turquie contre une attaque de la part de Syrie. "Si la Turquie est attaquée, ses alliés de l'OTAN discuteront de la position à adopter", a ajouté M.Rasmussen. Toutefois, il n'a pas jugé nécessaire de prendre des mesures de protection supplémentaires pour protéger la Turquie.

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28 août 2013 3 28 /08 /août /2013 11:30
source RAND Corporation Aug 2013

source RAND Corporation Aug 2013

August 27, 2013: Strategy Page


Al Qaeda has survived by becoming regional, rather than international. The original al Qaeda is back where it was founded three decades ago, in the tribal territories of northwest Pakistan. Here, about a thousand members (many of them married into local tribes and semi-retired) manage to protect supreme leader Ayman al Zawahiri, along with a shrinking network of training camps and safe houses. About ten percent of these al Qaeda men are actually in eastern Afghanistan but are even less active. Al Qaeda is tolerated by the Pakistani government as long as it does no (or very little) violence inside Pakistan. Thus, the relatively large number of al Qaeda operatives “retiring” to the tribal territories. Many did this to survive growing hostility from local tribes against the largely foreign al Qaeda members. In the last decade over a thousand foreign al Qaeda men (mainly Arabs and Central Asians) have been killed by local tribesmen for, well, not getting along with the locals. Many al Qaeda members fled and this played a part in the development of the two major operational branches that emerged over the last decade in Yemen and North Africa.


AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) has suffered heavy losses in the last year. AQAP was formed in 2009, after the remnants of the Saudi al Qaeda organization (several thousand full and part time members) fled to Yemen and merged with the Yemeni al Qaeda branch. AQAP also benefitted from hundreds of Iraqi al Qaeda members who arrived after the defeat of al Qaeda in Iraq in 2007-8. Growing unrest in Yemen (against the long-time Saleh dictatorship) enabled AQAP to recruit locally and take over several towns in the south by 2011. Then the government launched a counteroffensive last year and AQAP got hurt very badly. That offensive continues, along with the growing use of American UAVs in Yemen. At the same time there are few other places for defeated al Qaeda men to flee to. The sanctuary in Mali was destroyed earlier in the year by a French led offensive. The sanctuary in Pakistan (North Waziristan) is hostile to active al Qaeda and mainly for local Islamic terrorists. Surviving al Qaeda men are increasingly operating in isolation and under heavy attack. Sometimes, as is happening now in Syria, they attack each other. While the al Qaeda situation is desperate in Yemen, AQAP is still al Qaeda’s most capable branch and the only one that has shown any ability to support attacks (few successful) in the West.


In North Africa there are three major Islamic radical groups, as well as some smaller ones. Ansar Dine was originally from Mali and led by Tuareg Islamic radicals.  MOJAO (Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa) is from neighboring Mauritania. It is largely composed of black African Islamic radicals and led by Mauritanians. The largest of the three is AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) which has members from all over North Africa but mostly from Algeria. MOJAO is basically a Mauritanian faction of AQIM and there continues to be some ethnic and racial tension between the two groups. AQIM has the most money and weapons and used this to exercise some control over the other two major radical groups (who outnumbered AQIM in Mali). AQIM and MOJAO are sometimes at odds with Ansar Dine, which felt it should be in charge in Mali because it is Malian. Until late 2012 all three groups cooperated in order to maintain their control of northern Mali. Then Ansar Dine began negotiating with the Mali government for a separate peace and some kind of compromise over Tuareg autonomy in the north. In part this was because MUJAO and AQIM were bringing in reinforcements from Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, Pakistan, Egypt, Yemen, Nigeria, and Sudan and threatened to reduce the area Ansar Dine controlled. Ansar Dine saw itself as the only Malian group in the Islamic radical government up north and was determined to defend Tuareg interests against the many foreigners in MUJAO (which also has some Malian members) and especially AQIM (which wanted to run everything). Ansar Dine saw AQIM as a bunch of gangsters, dependent on its relationship with drug gangs (al Qaeda moves the drugs north to the Mediterranean coast) and kidnappers (who hold Europeans for multi-million dollar ransoms). All this cash gave AQIM a lot of power, both to buy weapons and hire locals. With the high unemployment in the north and the daring image of Islamic warriors, working for AQIM was an attractive prospect for many young men. Most of those new recruits deserted as their employers fled the advancing French in January 2013. The Tuareg members of MUJAO and Ansar Dine could find locals in the north to shelter them while the foreigners (mainly from AQIM) had to flee because they were too easily spotted by Mali civilians and pointed out to the French, Malian, and other African troops who now occupy the north. The French led invasion was a crushing blow to AQIM, just like the Yemen offensive last year was to AQAP.


In the wake of the Mali disaster, Islamic terrorists in North Africa have reorganized. AQIM has relocated to southern Libya while Ansari Dine, especially the Tuareg leadership, faded back into the many Tuareg living in the Sahel (the semi-desert region between the Sahara Desert and the tropical forests to the south). Recently two North African Islamic terrorist factions merged to create a new group: Al Mourabitoun. The new group has already been operating, largely in Niger, where it recently carried out several daring attacks (including a prison break in June and twin bombings in May). One of the merger partners is an al Qaeda splinter group led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar (the planner of the January natural gas facility attack in southern Algeria that got 37 workers and 32 terrorists killed). Belmokhtar has a reputation for always escaping the many efforts to kill or capture him. Belmokhtar was number two or three in the North African al Qaeda organization (AQIM) but formed his own splinter group in late 2012. Belmokhtar’s faction survived the French invasion. The other component of Al Mourabitoun comes from MOJWA.


This merger was another aftereffect of the French led invasion that began last January. Within months hundreds of experienced Islamic terrorists scattered and slowly reorganized via email, cell phones and hand-carried documents. Recruiting took a big hit as the operations in Mali this year showed once more that Islamic radicals cannot stand up to professional soldiers and their governing methods tend to turn the population against them. This caused over a thousand AQIM members to desert while nearly 500 were killed in the Mali fighting. Hundreds of local Islamic terrorists (Tuaregs, MOJWA, and other black Africans from countries in the region) stayed in northern Mali and continue to try carrying out terrorist attacks. There are a few larger groups of these Islamic terrorists still wandering around the far north but they were hunted by French aircraft and hit with smart bombs until most fled to neighboring countries. Some of these Islamic terrorists have renounced their alliance with al Qaeda and sought to evade attack by just being another group of Tuareg separatists. Most of the still functional Islamic terrorists have reformed in Niger, Tunisia, and Libya. Many individual terrorists made their way to Syria, which is the next-big-thing for murderous religious radicals.


Despite the senior leadership remaining in Pakistan, the most active, and dangerous, international terrorism operations are coming out of AQAP. AQIM survives by becoming a drug gang that smuggles various narcotics to North Africa and Europe. As a result of this, al Qaeda is urging Islamic radicals everywhere to try and organize and carry out terrorism operations wherever they are. Thus, even some large al Qaeda organizations (like the ones in Iraq and Syria) are devoting all their energies to killing people (mostly fellow Moslems) where they are and not in the West (which al Qaeda Central would prefer).

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28 août 2013 3 28 /08 /août /2013 07:45
Africa Sahara trafficking routes source BBCAfrica

Africa Sahara trafficking routes source BBCAfrica

August 24, 2013: Strategy Page


Border police in Western Algeria are intercepting more drug smugglers bringing in hashish and cocaine via Morocco. This indicates that the al Qaeda controlled drug smuggling operation from tropical Africa (south of the Sahara desert) is recovering from the disruption inflicted by the French-led intervention in northern Mali last January. This operation led to increased security on all of Mali’s borders and the entire southern Algeria frontier. Al Qaeda lost a lot of people in Mali this year and this hurt the drug smuggling operation al Qaeda was running via Mali.


August 22, 2013: There was a rare terrorist attack in the mountains of Western Algeria, which left three of four hunters dead and beheaded. Police are seeking the killers, who may not be Islamic terrorists but probably are.


August 21, 2013: A notorious Algerian Islamic terrorist (Mokhtar Belmokhtar) has merged his al Qaeda splinter group with a Mauritanian Islamic terror group to form a new group: Al Mourabitoun. The Mauritanian component of Al Mourabitoun is the MOJWA (Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, largely composed of black African Islamic radicals and led by Mauritanians). MOJWA is unique among Islamic terrorist groups because its leadership is black African. Mauritanian security forces have made it very difficult for MOJWA to operate in Mauritania, and that’s why so many MOJWA members moved to Mali in the last year. Since France intervened in Mali this year, MOJWA and the Belmokhtar group have moved. The new group has already been operating, largely in Niger where it recently carried out several daring attacks (including a prison break in June and twin bombings in May).


Mokhtar Belmokhtar was also the planner of the January natural gas facility attack in southern Algeria that got 37 workers killed. Belmokhtar has a reputation for always escaping the many efforts to kill or capture him, and the U.S. is offering a $5 million reward for him dead or alive. Belmokhtar was number two or three in the North African al Qaeda organization (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM) but formed his own splinter group in late 2012. AQIM and the Belmokhtar splinter group had members from all over North Africa but mostly from Algeria, and while defeated in Mali, it was not destroyed there. Al Mourabitoun has announced that it is planning attacks against French citizens and businesses in Africa, as well as targets in Egypt (to support the recently deposed Moslem Brotherhood government there). Al Mourabitoun will probably not try to carry out more attacks in Algeria, where the security forces are eager to nail Belmokhtar for the many attacks he has previously carried out in his homeland. Belmokhtar appears to be moving around in Niger and southern Libya.


August 19, 2013: In the far south, around the town of Bordj Badji Mokhtar on the Mali border, the government is trying to quell growing violence between armed members of the Arab Brabiche and Tuareg Idnan tribes. This is all about tribal politics and long-standing tribal feuds, not Islamic radicalism. In the last week at least 23 people have died in a series of skirmishes. The conflict area is 2,200 kilometers from the coast and the government is also sending 1,500 elite army troops to help restore order.


August 12, 2013: Tunisian warplanes attacked a terrorist base in the Atlas Mountains just across the Tunisian border. Tunisian police and soldiers have spent over four months hunting for up to fifty Islamic terrorists who are operating near the Kasserine Pass and Mount Chaambi area . Tunisian security personnel have been searching a hundred square kilometers of sparsely populated forests and mountains without much success. A few terrorists have been killed or captured and cell phones captured containing videos of attacks on soldiers and police. The fleeing terrorists are having a hard time sustaining themselves but they are armed and not inclined to surrender. Algeria has reinforced its border security with Tunisia and blocked several attempts by the Tunisian terrorists to slip into Algeria. This is the first time Tunisia has had to deal with armed Islamic terrorists since 2007. These armed men have been active in the area since January. Some of these terrorists recently fled Mali and others are from Algeria. These were joined by a smaller group (a dozen or so) of Tunisian Islamic terrorists who had apparently not been active until joined by all these new men and a few additional local recruits. There has been a lot of evidence that Tunisia is providing more Islamic radicals for terrorist groups. Eleven of the 32 terrorists killed in the attack on an Algerian natural gas field in January were Tunisian, which provided a hint that there were a lot more Islamic terrorists in Tunisia than the government wants to admit.

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5 juin 2013 3 05 /06 /juin /2013 17:45
U.S. transfers suspected senior al Qaeda member to Mauritania

03 June 2013 defenceWeb (Reuters)


U.S. authorities have transferred Younis al-Mauritani, a suspected senior member of al Qaeda previously held in Afghanistan, to Mauritania, officials in the West African nation said.


Pakistan said in September 2011 it arrested al-Mauritani, better known in his homeland Mauritania as Youssouf Al Mauritani, during a joint operation with U.S. intelligence services.


Witnesses at the airport in Mauritania's capital, Nouakchott, saw a U.S. military plane deliver a prisoner late on Friday, Reuters reports.


Mauritanian authorities confirmed al-Mauritani's identity, adding that he had been transferred from the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan.


"It's indeed Youssouf Al Mauritani, real name Abderhamane Ould Mohamed Al-Hussein," a senior security official told Reuters, asking not to be named.


"He was in Bagram and was handed over to the Mauritanian authorities by the Americans. He indeed arrived at the Nouakchott airport last night," he said.


A Mauritanian judicial official specialized in terrorism cases also confirmed that the prisoner transferred on Friday was al-Mauritani. U.S. embassy officials in Nouakchott declined to comment.


Pakistani military authorities said Al Mauritani was planning to attack U.S. economic interests including pipelines, hydro-electric dams and oil tankers when he was captured.


They said he had also been tasked by Osama bin Laden with hitting European and Australian targets.


Mauritanian authorities issued an international warrant for his arrest, accusing him of participating in a 2005 attack on the Lemgheity army base which killed 17 soldiers and a deadly shoot-out with police in Nouakchott in 2008.


Mauritania, with one of West Africa's more effective armies, carried out military strikes against Islamist bases in neighboring Mali in 2010 and 2011 and is seen as one of the West's principal allies against al Qaeda in the region.

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