Monday (3.27.17)

  • Kenyan troops in Somalia killed 31 al Shabaab terrorists in a raid on two of their bases in the southern Somali region of Jubbaland, the Kenyan military said on Monday. The East African nation has thousands of its forces in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to help curb al Shabaab and improve security as part of a reconstruction drive after two decades of civil war that shattered the country.
  • Philippine troops have rescued three Malaysians held captive by Abu Sayyaf rebels, the military said on Monday, the second such operation in four days as security forces step up offensives against the notorious Islamist group. The three men were kidnapped from a ship eight months ago, and their rescue means no other Malaysians are currently held hostage as two others were rescued at sea last week.
  • Israel on Monday urged citizens vacationing in Egypt's Sinai peninsula to leave immediately, saying the threat of attacks inspired by ISIS and other jihadi groups was high. The advisory was issued ahead of the Passover holiday, when thousands of Israelis cross the land border with Egypt to visit resorts and beaches on the Sinai's Red Sea coast.
  • A U.S.-backed Syrian alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias on Sunday took a military airport in northern Syria held by ISIS, close to the country's largest dam that may be in danger of collapse.
  • Bahrain said on Sunday it had broken an Iranian-linked "terrorist cell" suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a police bus in February and plotting to assassinate senior officials, state news agency BNA reported. The agency quoted an Interior Ministry statement as saying that the 14-member cell was working under direct supervision from two exiled Bahrainis living in Iran, one of them recently designated by the United States as a "global terrorist."
  • Al Qaeda’s recently formed entity in West Africa, Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), claims that it was involved in recent communal clashes between Fulani and Bambaras in Mali’s central region of Segou. The jihadist group claims it killed “dozens” and wounded many more in the assaults.
  • · At least six people, including two police officials, were killed and more than 40 wounded in two bomb blasts in Bangladesh on Saturday near a terrorist hideout that was raided by commandos, police said. The explosions in the northeastern district of Sylhet came a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a security checkpoint near the country's main airport in an attack claimed by ISIS.
  • Pakistan has begun building a fence on its disputed 1,500 mile border with Afghanistan to prevent incursions by terrorists, Pakistan's army chief said, in a move likely to further strain relations between the two countries. Pakistan has blamed Pakistani Taliban militants it says are based on Afghan soil for a spate of attacks at home in recent months, urging Kabul to eradicate "sanctuaries" for militants.
  • The Pentagon said on Saturday a U.S. air strike in Afghanistan this week killed an al Qaeda terrorist who was responsible for the death of two American service members and accused of involvement in a deadly attack on a bus carrying Sri Lanka's cricket team in 2009. The Pentagon said in a statement the strike took place on March 19 in Paktika province and killed Qari Yasin, "a well-known al (Qaeda) terrorist leader," who had ties to the Tehreek-e-Taliban, also known as the Pakistan Taliban.
  • Four Egyptian soldiers were killed in an explosion that hit their armored vehicle on Saturday in the northern Sinai Peninsula, where the government is battling an ISIS-led insurgency, security sources said. The incident occurred about 20 km 12 miles south of the Mediterranean town of al-Arish.
  • A senior Hamas terrorist was shot dead near his home in the Gaza Strip on Friday, the group said, blaming Israel for the killing. An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the incident in the Hamas-run Palestinian coastal enclave. Mazen Fuqaha, a militant from the occupied West Bank whom Israel released in a prisoner swap in 2011 and exiled to the Gaza Strip, was shot several times. Israel jailed Fuqaha in 2003 for planning attacks against Israelis.
  • The Tehran-controlled Iraqi militia Harakat al Nujaba announced on Friday that it is joining pro-Syrian regime forces in the battle raging in Hama province. Earlier this week, jihadists, Islamists and Free Syrian Army-branded rebels launched an offensive in the northern Hama countryside. This followed a separate battle that began in eastern Damascus, where Harakat al Nujaba has also deployed. The Assad-loyalist Tiger Forces announced yesterday that it is moving fighters to northern Hama as well. Members of the Tiger Forces are being relocated from their position in east Aleppo, according to a pro-regime propaganda outlet and social media posts.

Tuesday (3.28.17)

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday that Russia could use Iranian military bases to fight terrorists in Syria on a "case by case basis." Zarif said that regional issues, including Syria, would be discussed at a meeting in the Kremlin later on Tuesday.
  • At least 11 people were killed in a suicide bombing and gun attack by suspected al Qaeda fighters on a local government compound in southern Yemen on Monday, a Yemeni government media office said in a statement. The attack is the latest in a series of operations by terrorists who have exploited a two-year-civil war to try to expand their control and recruit more followers in the country, which shares a long border with Saudi Arabia.
  • British police said on Monday they had found no evidence that Khalid Masood, who killed four people in an attack on parliament last week, had any association with Islamic State or al Qaeda, but he was clearly interested in jihad. Masood drove a car through a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing three and injuring about 50, then ran through the gates of parliament and fatally stabbed a police officer before he was shot dead.
  • Bangladesh army commandos have killed four Islamist terrorists in the northeastern city of Sylhet during a raid on a building where they were holed up amid local residents, a senior army official said on Monday. The commandos surrounded the five-story building on Thursday evening but had to evacuate its 78 residents before they could begin their operation on Saturday to flush out the militants.
  • Syrian rebels who drove ISIS from the town of al-Bab in northwest Syria this year discovered an extensive network of tunnels dug by terrorists as part of their defenses, a tactic that has slowed the military campaign against them. FSA rebels in al-Bab said they had found about 9 miles of tunnels under the town that had linked its central areas and jihadist headquarter buildings with the town's fringes and battle fronts. ISIS has been steadily forced from much of its Syrian territory since late 2015. It has lost all its land along the border with Turkey as well as the desert city of Palmyra as it is repelled into its strongholds along the Euphrates basin.

Wednesday (2.29.17)

  • A bomb blast hit a passenger bus in the government-held city of Homs at noon on Wednesday, killing five people and wounding six, the Syrian state news agency SANA reported and confirmed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. SANA's correspondent in Homs said the bombing, which it said was carried out by terrorists, targeted a small passenger bus which was in a street in al-Zahra neighborhood. The jihadist rebel group Tahrir al-Sham, whose main component is al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, has taken credit for a series of attacks in recent weeks.
  • ISIS fighters shelled positions held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) at the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates River on Wednesday, forcing engineers to temporarily halt efforts to ease the water pressure. ISIS fired from the southern end of the dam, which it controls, and at least two explosions were heard. No one was injured. The engineers, who are working to open the spillways to relieve water pressure in the dam, later returned to work.
  • At least four suspected al Qaeda members were killed in an apparent U.S. drone strike on a vehicle in central Yemen, residents said on Wednesday, part of an escalating campaign against the Islamist terrorist group. They said the attack in Amqoz in the Moudiya district of Abyan province took place around midnight on Tuesday. Their vehicle was completely burned and the four bodies inside badly charred. Residents also reported hearing missile strikes on a suspected al Qaeda outpost in Wadi al-Naseel area, also in Abyan province, but said the number of casualties was unknown.
  • ISIS’ branch in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula posted a video on Tuesday depicting the beheading of two men the terrorist group said it had found guilty of practicing witchcraft and sorcery. The video, posted on a Telegram channel often used by ISIS, showed the group forming a religious police unit known as the Hasbah in northern Sinai, where it has waged an insurgency for years. ISIS uses the terms sorcerers and heretics to refer to adherents of Sufism, a non-violent form of Islam involving mystical rituals that has been practiced for centuries.
  • At least one soldier was killed and another was wounded on Tuesday in a roadside bombing blamed by regional military officials on ISIS-affiliated terrorists in the semi-autonomous Somali region of Puntland. The attack occurred outside the port city of Qandala on the Gulf of Aden coast. ISIS-affiliated fighters operate in the nearby mountains and have carried out attacks in there in the past, including the beheading of kidnapped civilians.
  • Nigeria's military is "ransacking" territory it said it has recaptured from Boko Haram in recent months in a search for its elusive leader, the country's defense minister said on Tuesday. The Nigerian military has said on multiple occasions that it killed Abubakar Shekau, leader of one of two branches of the terrorist group, only for the announcement to be swiftly followed by video denials from someone saying he is Shekau. Large areas of the northeast, particularly in Borno state, remain under threat from Boko Haram as suicide bombings and gun attacks have increased in the area since late last year.
  • Yemeni troops captured a senior leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) during an early morning raid on Tuesday in the southeastern Hadramawt region, a local security official said. Special forces stormed the house in a remote village where Abu Ali al-Sayari, a Saudi national of Yemeni origins, was hiding, the official said. They detained three others and killed two more.
  • German police have arrested a suspected Afghan Taliban commander believed to have taken part in an attack on a military convoy about a decade ago in which at least 16 U.S. and Afghan soldiers were killed. The federal prosecutor's office said on Tuesday that the 30-year old Afghan citizen, identified only as Abdullah P., was arrested in the southern state of Bavaria on March 23 and was being detained during the continuing investigation. The suspect is believed to have joined the Taliban insurgency in 2002 and entered a unit commanded by his father.
  • A small group comprised of ethnic Nogais from the North Caucasus has recently released a video showing its fighters in training, joining a plethora of other groups originating from the North Caucasus that now operates in Syria. In the new video, nearly a dozen fighters are seen training in a wooded environment in Syria’s northwestern Latakia Province. The Nogai Jamaat is a small group with operations based in Latakia Province. It is likely only a few dozen members strong and often fights alongside other groups in Latakia, such as Ajnad Kavkaz, another North Caucasian group in Syria. The Jamaat has portrayed itself as an independent entity through the media. However, this is unlikely. In one video, members of the Jamaat can be seen wearing Caucasus Emirate (CE) shirts and CE is affiliated with al Qaeda.

Thursday (3.30.17)

  • Italian police arrested three Kosovars sympathetic to ISIS on Thursday on suspicion of operating a jihadist cell that had discussed blowing up the historic Rialto bridge in Venice. A minor from Kosovo was also was detained to prevent him from interfering with the probe, police said. Up to three other Kosovars were also under investigation over their ties to those arrested according to Adelchi D'Ippolito, Venice's chief prosecutor. Police had been monitoring the group since last year. They tapped their phones, bugged their apartments and followed their online communications, and what emerged was "disturbing and worrying", D'Ippolito said adding that the group had expressed an unconditional support for ISIS.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held talks with Turkey's leaders on Thursday in a one-day visit to a NATO ally crucial to the fight against ISIS but increasingly at odds with Washington and its European partners. Tillerson held a closed-door meeting with President Tayyip Erdogan at which he was expected to discuss the U.S.-led fight against ISIS, including the planned offensive against its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, where Turkey has been angered by U.S. support for Kurdish militia fighters.
  • Poland temporarily closed its consulates in Ukraine after a grenade attack overnight at one of its buildings near the Polish border that Kiev said was intended to harm bilateral ties with Warsaw. No one was hurt but the roof of the Polish consulate there and some windows were damaged. Ukraine's Security Service said the weapon used appeared to be a rocket from an RPG-26, a disposable anti-tank launcher developed by the Soviet Union.
  • A suicide truck bomb blew up at a checkpoint in the south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 17 people and wounding more than 60, police sources said. They said the bomber detonated his explosives among other vehicles waiting to be searched at the checkpoint, setting some of them on fire. No group immediately claimed responsibility.
  • A man and woman who were arrested, aged 21 and 23, were arrested in the British city of Birmingham on "suspicion of terrorism offences" on Wednesday, West Midlands police said in a statement, however the arrests were not in any way connected to last week's Westminster attack.
  • Israeli paramilitary police officers shot dead a Palestinian woman who tried to attack them with scissors outside Jerusalem's walled Old City on Wednesday, Israeli police said. The incident occurred at Damascus Gate, a heavily guarded entrance to the Old City and scene of similar violence in the past. "Police responded to a life-threatening situation and the female terrorist was shot dead at the scene," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
  • Afghanistan plans to double the number of elite special forces from 17,000 troops, officials said, part of a long-term strategy to bolster units stretched and exhausted by persistent attacks from Taliban insurgents and other Islamist terrorists. Special forces, who represent a small fraction of the 300,000-strong armed forces, have been carrying out nearly 70 percent of the army's offensive operations across the country, underlining Afghanistan's heavy reliance on them.
  • Syrian rebels have seized large areas from ISIS in southern Syria in the last two weeks as the jihadist group prepares to defend its Raqqa stronghold in the north from a U.S.-backed assault, rebel commanders say. The advances by Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) factions have helped to reduce the risk of ISIS fighters regrouping in areas near Damascus and the Jordanian border as they face major defeats in Syria and Iraq. Western intelligence sources have worried for months that militants fleeing from their main urban strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq could find a safe haven in the vast areas of the Syrian Desert bordering Jordan. The rebels fighting in southern Syria have received military aid funneled via Jordan in a program overseen by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

Friday (3.31.17)

  • A bomb apparently targeting a mosque in Pakistan's northwestern city of Parachinar killed at least 22 people on Friday and wounded dozens in an attack claimed by the Pakistani Taliban. The explosion in a remote area bordering Afghanistan came as people gathered for Friday prayers near the women's entrance of a Shia mosque in the central bazaar, the latest in a series of attacks across Sunni-majority Pakistan this year.
  • Three suspected al Qaeda members were killed overnight in what local officials believed was a U.S. drone strike in southern Yemen. Residents and local officials said on Friday the attack took place in Mozno in al-Wadie district of Abyan province. The three killed included the local leader of the terrorist group, Waddah Muhammed Amsouda, who was meeting the others in a house in the area. Abyan is one of several provinces in central and southern Yemen where Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and its local affiliate Ansar al-Sharia operate.
  • Kenya has arrested a suspected ISIS terrorist on the country's "most wanted" list who allegedly helped send recruits to Libya and Somalia, police said on Thursday. Police seized Ali Hussein Ali, who is nicknamed "Trusted One", and two accomplices in the coastal town of Malindi on Monday. In a statement, the police said Ali had helped smuggle recruits to ISIS in Libya where he has ties with a human trafficking ring, and to the al Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia. He also moved money around East Africa and beyond for ISIS, police said.
  • Anjem Choudary, a high-profile British Islamist preacher who was sentenced to prison last year for inviting support for ISIS terrorism, was added to the U.S. global counter-terrorism list, the U.S. Treasury said on Thursday. Choudary was one of seven people added to the list, which blocks their assets in the United States and prohibits U.S. citizens from dealing with them.
  • A former violent criminal who converted to Islam and kept out of trouble for more than a decade, the killer who struck Britain's parliament last week was probably a "lone wolf", self-radicalized by material on the internet, investigators say. Police say Khalid Masood, who tried to put his troubled past behind him by turning to religion, had copied the low cost, low tech attacks espoused by ISIS, but investigators have found nothing yet to link him to extremist groups at home or terrorists abroad.
  • German prosecutors have charged an Afghan citizen with being a member of the Taliban and an accessory to attempted murder by taking part in armed attacks by insurgents against policemen in Afghanistan. The Federal Prosecutor's Office (GBA) said in a statement on Thursday that 21-year-old Hekmat T. received military training by the Taliban after he joined the militant group in mid-2013 and took part in four attacks against policemen.
  • Germany has deported 10 potential attackers since January as part of a tougher approach toward failed asylum seekers and other foreigners it deems dangerous after one of them killed 12 people at a Berlin market, security sources said on Thursday. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere and other top officials have been pushing for quicker deportations of those denied asylum, while working with Morocco, Tunisia and other countries to speed up the repatriation process.
  • ISIS claimed responsibility on Thursday for two suicide attacks that killed at least 31 people in Damascus on March 15. The group made the claim in its weekly online newspaper al-Nabaa. The newspaper said the two suicide bombers, identified by the group as Abu Musa al Golani and Abu Firas al Shami, had killed and injured over one hundred people in two separate attacks. The first attack was on a courthouse in central Damascus near the Old City and the second struck a popular restaurant in the al-Rabweh area of the capital.
  • As many as eight militants have blown themselves up with a grenade north of the Bangladeshi capital rather than surrender to officers who had cornered them in their hideout, police said on Thursday. Police urged the militants in Nasirpur, northeast of the capital Dhaka, to give themselves up on Wednesday, but instead they detonated the grenade.