Monday (3.20.17)

  • An Afghan soldier opened fire on Sunday on US troops as they were training Afghan forces on a base in Helmand province. Three US soldiers were wounded in the first reported insider attack this year, where Afghan security personnel opened fire on their coalition counterparts. The aassault was carried out by an Afghan National Army officer from the 215 Maiwand Army Corps and US troops reportedly killed the Afghan soldier. The Taliban has not claimed credit for today’s shooting, but did acknowledge it. Zabihullah Mujahid, an official Taliban spokesman described the Afghan solider as “an Afghan with a sense of patriotism.”
  • Three suicide bombers killed four people and injured eight others in a village near the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri, a police spokesman said on Sunday. A man and two women blew themselves up when they were challenged by a member of the Civilian JTF, a government-approved militia group, just outside Maiduguri, the city worst hit by jihadist group Boko Haram's eight-year insurgency. The blasts, in the village of Umariri around 4 miles from the city, occurred on Saturday around 9 p.m. It is the latest in a string of attacks in the last few days to bear the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which has killed around 15,000 people and forced more than 2 million people to flee their homes in since 2009.
  • Iraqi army helicopters strafed and rocketed ISIS positions inside Mosul's Old City on Sunday as ground troops fought fierce street battles to close in on the strategic prize of the al-Nuri Mosque. An air strike by the U.S.-led coalition backing Iraq forces in their campaign to retake Mosul also killed six foreign militant commanders in the west, including a Russian who was a senior ISIS leader, Iraq's defense ministry said. Federal Police troops on Sunday advanced past the train station in western Mosul close to the mosque, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in July 2014.
  • Bangladesh police shot and killed a suspected terrorist who tried to cross a security checkpoint on a motorcycle armed with explosives early on Saturday, the latest in a string of security threats.
  • Police questioned and then released relatives of a man shot dead at a Paris airport, as investigators sought clues on why he attacked an army patrol in an incident that has pushed security to the forefront of France's election campaign. Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said late on Saturday that the man, named as 39-year-old Ziyed Ben Belgacem, had shouted he was there to "die for Allah" when he tried to seize a gun from a woman air force member on patrol at Orly airport. After throwing down a bag containing a can of petrol and putting an air pistol to the head of the soldier, he was shot three times by her colleagues.
  • The leader of Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), al Qaeda’s joint venture in Syria, has released a seven-plus minute message to commemorate the sixth anniversary of the Syrian uprising. The video was uploaded online late on Friday and then disseminated via social media channels on Saturday. Abu Jaber (also known as Hashem al Sheikh), the former head of Ahrar al Sham, was selected as the overall leader of HTS (“Assembly for the Liberation of Syria,” or the Levant) in January. He has long advocated for a strategy of “popular jihad.”
  • A suicide bomber injured two Bangladeshi police officers on Friday when he attacked a base being built for the police anti-terrorist unit, officials said. Local media quoting the BBC Bangla service said ISIS had claimed responsibility for the rare attack on Bangladesh's security services.
  • ISIS’ Ninawa province has released a 30-plus minute video promoting the jihadists’ role in the battle for Mosul, Iraq. The propaganda production is intended to buttress perceptions of the group’s capabilities, even as it loses ground in and around the city. The video shows that ISIS has become especially adept at turning various makes and models of cars into vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs). Armor is fixed to large and small vehicles alike in order to make it more difficult for Iraqi and American forces to destroy them before they reach their target.
  • Moroccan authorities said on Friday they had arrested 15 people suspected of ties with ISIS in the latest raid officials say targeted militant networks. The suspects had been active in Casablanca, Marrakech, Tangiers, and Agadir, among other cities, and were involved in inciting or threatening to carry out attacks.
  • A man purporting to be the leader of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram denied in a video posted on Friday that 5,000 people held by the group had been freed by West African forces earlier in the week. On Wednesday, Cameroon said regional forces had rescued the hostages, who were held in villages by the jihadist group, in an operation along the Nigeria-Cameroon border. He also claimed responsibility for attacks earlier this week which included suicide bombings in the city of Maiduguri and a raid on the town of Magumeri, both of which are in the northeast Nigerian state of Borno.
  • Rocket alert sirens sounded in north eastern Israel Thursday night followed by news reports Friday morning which revealed that the Israel Air Force had carried out strikes against several targets in the city of Palmyra, the deepest such raid into Syrian territory since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. The rockets that fell in Israel appear to have been Syrian anti-air missiles – likely Russian-made SA-5s – fired at the returning Israeli jets. The target of the Israeli strikes looks to have been a weapons shipment to Hezbollah at Palmyra’s T-4 military base.

Tuesday (3.21.17)

  • The Trump administration on Tuesday imposed restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes coming to the United States from 10 airports in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified terrorism threats. The Department of Homeland Security said passengers traveling from those airports could not bring devices larger than a cellphone, such as tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras, into the main cabin. Instead, they must be in checked baggage. The new restrictions were prompted by reports that militant groups want to smuggle explosive devices in electronic gadgets.
  • Moroccan authorities have arrested Kassim Tajideen, deemed by Washington a top financier of the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, and plan to extradite him to the United States, a Moroccan security source close to the case said on Tuesday. Interpol's Washington office issues his arrest warrant for alleged fraud, money laundering and financing of terrorist activities.
  • ISIS fighters captured an Iraqi police colonel and eight other officers in western Mosul after they ran out of ammunition during fierce clashes early Monday morning, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said. The officers were caught around 3 a.m. on Monday in Bab Jadid district in Mosul, where Iraqi forces are battling to oust ISIS after liberating the eastern half of the city, however it was unclear exactly where the officers were.
  • A U.S. drone airstrike in Afghanistan has killed a Pakistani terrorist accused of involvement in a deadly attack on a bus carrying Sri Lanka's cricket team in 2009, Pakistani security sources and Islamist militants said. The U.S. unmanned aircraft struck a car carrying Qari Mohammad Yasin, also known as Ustad Aslam, on Sunday in the southwestern Afghan province of Paktika bordering Pakistan.
  • Jihadists, Islamists and rebels affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched an offensive in the eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital on Sunday. The sudden attack began in the Jobar district of Damascus and then spread into a nearby area. Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS), a joint venture led by al Qaeda’s arm in Syria, launched two suicide attacks with vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs) at the beginning of the assault. HTS (“Assembly for the Liberation of Syria”) posted pictures of the two suicide bombers, as well as images glorifying the moment of their “martyrdom,” on its official Telegram channel. It appears that small drones were used to generate footage of the SVBIEDs from above. Like their rivals in the Islamic State, al Qaeda’s men in Syria have long used drones to capture the instant when one of their suicide bombers detonates.
  • The Taliban claimed that 67 “Mujahideen” have graduated from two training camps located in the northwestern Afghan province of Faryab. The group has publicized 12 training facilities throughout the country since late 2014. Forty of the fighters graduated on March 18th from “a military camp – Intiqam Giran-e-Quran – in the surroundings of Shirin Tagab district” in Faryab, according to the Taliban. The statement was released on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official propaganda website.

Wednesday (3.22.17)

  • The U.S.-led coalition air-dropped U.S. and allied Syrian forces near Tabqa in Raqqa province, expanding a campaign by the Syrian Democratic Forces militias against ISIS, the SDF's Raqqa campaign said on Wednesday. The operation aims both to capture the strategic Tabqa area across the Euphrates from the SDF's other holdings and to curb Syrian government advances in that direction.
  • ISIS fighters shelled areas recaptured by Iraqi forces in western Mosul, hitting civilians fleeing the fighting early on Wednesday as troops edged their way through the narrow, dangerous streets of the Old City. Heavy mortar fire killed at least five civilians and wounded more than 20 in Mosul Jadida and Rifak districts - areas that the terrorists had recently lost to Federal Police and Rapid Response brigades, military officials said.
  • Foreign ministers from 68 countries meet in Washington on Wednesday to agree on the next steps to defeat ISIS, the first such gathering of the U.S-led military coalition since the election of President Donald Trump in November. The meeting will be hosted by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Trump has vowed to make the fight against ISIS a priority and directed the Pentagon and other agencies in January to submit a plan for defeating the terrorist group.
  • Multiple blasts at camps for people who have fled the Islamist terrorists Boko Haram killed four and injured 18 in the northeastern Nigeria city of Maiduguri, the state police commissioner said on Wednesday. The attacks were the latest in a series in the past week. In a video circulated on Friday, a man claiming to be Boko Haram's leader claimed responsibility for bombings in Maiduguri and a raid in a nearby town last week. Bombings near the city killed four on Sunday.
  • At least four people were killed on Tuesday when a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint less than a kilometer away from the presidential compound in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, police said. Security officials at the checkpoint said it was rammed by a car bomb driven by a suicide attacker, causing a blast outside a theater. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the explosion, although in the past, al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab has taken responsibility for blasts and gun attacks in the capital.
  • A senior al Qaeda military commander who led numerous attacks in Pakistan has reportedly been killed in a US airstrike in eastern Afghanistan on March 19th. Qari Muhammad Yasin was listed by the Pakistani government as the 10th Most Wanted terrorist in the country in 2013. Yasin, who has been involved in jihadist operations in the region for at least two decades, was targeted along with a “trainer of suicide bombers” for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan known as Ameen Shah Mehsud and two taliban fighters. Neither the US military or al Qaeda or its jihadist allies have confirmed the death of Yasin or Mehsud, the Taliban trainer, although Yasin has previously been targeted by the US.
  • On Friday the US State Department announced the designation of two Bahraini nationals affiliated with Iran-backed militant group the al Ashtar Brigades as global terrorists. Their designation comes amidst repeated attempts by Tehran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to foment an insurgency against the rulers of the island, who have launched a widespread crackdown on all Shiite opposition. The State Department has so far divulged little details about Hasan Yusuf, a 31-year old “Iran-based senior member” of the group, and Alsayed Murtadha Majeed Ramadhan Alawi, a 33-year old “affiliate.”

Thursday (3.23.17)

  • Taliban fighters have captured the key district of Sangin in the southern Afghan province of Helmand after security forces pulled out, leaving the district center to the terrorists, officials said on Thursday. Helmand, which accounts for the bulk of Afghanistan's billion dollar opium crop, is already largely in the hands of the Taliban but the capture of Sangin, where U.S. and British forces suffered heavy casualties, underlines their growing strength in the south. Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said Taliban fighters had captured police headquarters and a military base overnight, as well as quantities of military equipment after they were abandoned by retreating government forces.
  • Ten members of Egypt's security forces were killed when their vehicles were hit by two improvised bombs during a military operation against suspected terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, the army said on Thursday. It said the security forces also killed 15 people and arrested seven others during the raid which it said targeted "highly dangerous terrorists" in the central Sinai area. Egypt is battling an Islamist terrorist group, that pledges allegiance to ISIS in 2014, in the rugged and thinly populated Northern Sinai, which gained pace after the military overthrew President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 following mass protests against his rule.
  • Indonesian police killed a suspected radical and detained three on Thursday during a counter-terrorism operation in an industrial area just hours away from the capital Jakarta. Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population and has been on high alert over a recent resurgence in radicalism inspired by the extremist group ISIS.
  • A French national was kidnapped on Thursday in eastern Chad, a French military source and a Chadian security source said. "Everything is being done to get him freed," the military source said, adding that the civilian was taken south of the town of Abeche, about 800 kilometers to the east of the capital N'Djamena. Paris launched air strikes and sent hundreds of soldiers into Mali in 2012 to drive back al Qaeda-linked rebels it said could turn the West African country into a base for international attacks. Two other French nationals have been held overseas, including one in Mali, kidnapped in December by Islamist terrorists, while another was taken hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier in March.
  • Five people were killed and about 40 injured in London on Wednesday after a car plowed into pedestrians and a suspected Islamist-inspired attacker stabbed a policeman close to Britain's parliament. The attacker, who was shot dead, was British-born and was once investigated by MI5 intelligence agents over concerns about violent extremism. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued by its Amaq news agency. But it gave no name or other details and it was not clear whether the attacker was directly connected to the group. Police arrested eight people at six locations in London and Birmingham in the investigation into Wednesday's attack that Prime Minister May said was inspired by extremist Islamist ideology.
  • U.S.-led coalition aircraft dropped fighters for the first time into an area near the Syrian city of Raqqa to retake territory from ISIS in a mission that included Apache helicopters, U.S. Marine artillery and special operations troops, a U.S. official said on Wednesday. The air drop of Syrian Democratic Forces, a militia alliance including Arab and Kurdish fighters, took place near the town of Tabqa in northern Syria.
  • Hundreds of relatives of individuals killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have sued Saudi Arabia in U.S. court, seeking to take advantage of a law passed by Congress last year that allows victims of such terrorist attacks on U.S. soil to sue state sponsors. The lawsuit filed on Monday in federal court in Manhattan is the latest effort to hold Saudi Arabia liable for the al Qaeda attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Since the law as passed there have been seven lawsuits filed in New York against Saudi Arabia.
  • The Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (TTP) claimed that the US killed a senior commander from Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan in a drone strike near the “Pak-Afghan border” on March 18. Commander Yusuf Wazir, the slain Taliban leader, also lost a father and a brother in previous US drone strikes, according to the jihadist group. The US military has not confirmed that it carried out a drone strike that killed Wazir. Additionally, it is unclear if Wazir was killed in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Friday (3.24.17)

  • Iraqi forces are preparing a fresh push against ISIS using new tactics, but operations to drive the militants out of their last stronghold in the country are on hold, military officials said on Friday as fighting enters the narrow-alleyed Old City, and the terrorists have put up fierce resistance using car bombs, snipers and mortar fire against forces and residents.
  • Russian warplanes are taking part in air strikes against insurgents to help repel a major attack on Syrian government-held areas near the city of Hama, a Syrian military source said on Friday. Rebel groups spearheaded by jihadist insurgents launched the attack on Tuesday and have captured at least 11 villages and towns, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
  • One man was killed and three others injured in an explosion in the Cairo suburb of Maadi, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Friday. The man who was killed, a building guard who was cleaning the property's garden, found "an unidentified metallic object." Upon handling it, it exploded, resulting in his death and the injury of his wife and two children by shrapnel. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the government is taking on terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula, where fighters loyal to ISIS are based.
  • According to aid workers terrified Iraqi families fleeing fierce fighting in Mosul are drugging their children with sedatives or taping their mouths shut to prevent their cries alerting ISIS fighters as they try to escape. Hala Jaber of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said men caught trying to leave would be shot while women were sometimes tied up and left outside in the cold as a warning.
  • On Friday British police said they had made two further significant arrests in the investigation into the attack on London's parliament and gave the birth name of the man behind the assault as Adrian Russell Ajao. Britain's top anti-terrorism officer Mark Rowley said police had nine people in custody after Wednesday’s fatal attack. Police said the man behind the attack was British-born Muslim covert Khalid Masood and that they were trying to establish if others had directed him.
  • A Bahraini court sentenced three Shi'ite Muslim men to death on Thursday after they were convicted on charges of terrorism and involvement in 2014 bomb attacks that injured a number of police officers. The High Criminal Court also sentenced 14 other people linked to the same case to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life in jail. The rulings come amid increased tensions in the Western-allied kingdom. Authorities have stepped up a crackdown on dissent by arresting activists, banning the main Shi'ite opposition al-Wefaq group and taking steps to dissolve a secular association earlier this month.
  • A teenager with dual Israeli-U.S. citizenship was arrested in Israel on Thursday on suspicion of making dozens of hoax bomb threats against Jewish community centers in the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The suspect’s identity remains sealed pursuant to a court order and it is unclear what the teenager’s motives were.
  • U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe said on Thursday that he had seen Russian influence on Afghan Taliban insurgents growing and raised the possibility that Moscow was helping supply the terrorists, whose reach is expanding in southern Afghanistan.
  • The Tehran-controlled Iraqi militia Harakat al Nujaba has announced its participation in a battle raging east of Damascus, joining pro-regime forces in the Jobar and Abbasin districts. Earlier this week, jihadists, Islamists and rebels affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) launched a surprise offensive in the eastern outskirts of the Syrian capital. The al Qaeda-led joint venture Haya’t Tahrir al Sham has a significant role in the insurgent assault and launched several suicide bombings early on in the battle.