Terrorism 2016 – 17

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Global Terrorism Index 2015

Ban: Fight terrorism while respecting human rights
Preventing terrorism requires “full respect for human rights,” as well as proper governance, lawfulness, education and jobs, said Ban Ki-moon, United Nations secretary-general. Ban presented his report on terrorism to the General Assembly on Friday. “Many years of experience have proven that short-sighted policies, failed leadership, heavy-handed approaches, a single-minded focus only on security measures and an utter disregard for human rights have often made things worse,” he argued. The Associated Press (1/15/16)
The Powerful Anti-Terrorism Ad That’s The Hit of Ramadan (30 May 2017)

Attack on Sufi mosque in Egypt’s Sinai leaves at least 235 dead
(CBC) Gunmen attacked a crowded Egyptian mosque during prayers on Friday, blasting helpless worshippers with gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades and blocking their escape routes, in the deadliest-ever attack by Islamic militants in the country.
At least 235 people were killed before the assailants got away.
The attack in the troubled northern part of the Sinai Peninsula targeted a mosque frequented by Sufis, members of a mystic movement within Islam. Islamic militants, including the local affiliate of the Islamic State group, consider Sufis heretics because of their less literal interpretations of the faith.

15 September
London tube bombing: PM says terror threat level raised to critical
Theresa May makes TV statement as police search for bomber who left dozens injured by blast at Parsons Green station
(The Guardian) Britain’s terror threat level has been raised from severe to critical, indicating a further attack may be imminent following the Parsons Green tube bombing, Theresa May has said.
Twenty-nine people including a young boy were injured when the bomb partially detonated and sent a ball of fire along a carriage of a District line train at Parsons Green, west London.
Police are understood to have found CCTV images that captured the bomber as he boarded the train with the bomb packed in a white plastic bucket inside a Lidl supermarket bag. The train is believed to have had onboard CCTV, and there are a large number of cameras covering the network.Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blast, the militant group’s Amaq news agency said on Friday evening.
Nobody suffered life-threatening injuries in the incident, the fifth terrorist attack Britain has suffered in less than six months.

18-19 August
Spain terror cell planned Barcelona bombing rampage
After 13 die in Las Ramblas, further Catalan atrocity only thwarted by accidental detonation of explosives, say police
The terrorist cell which killed 14 people in Catalonia on Thursday was planning to mount a bombing attack in Barcelona that was only abandoned when they accidentally blew up the house where they were stockpiling explosives.
Thirteen people were killed and more than 130 injured after a white Fiat van ploughed along Las Ramblas in the Catalan capital on Thursday. Eight hours later, a Spanish woman was killed and six people were hurt after a car thought to be carrying five members of the same cell ran down pedestrians in the coastal town of Cambrils. All five terrorists were shot dead by police.
Barcelona’s strong ties to radical Islam
A quarter of those arrested in Spain for having jihadist ties in recent years were in Catalonia.
(Politico Eu) The choice of Barcelona as a target for terrorists came as little surprise to security experts in Spain and elsewhere in Europe because of Catalonia’s links to jihadists and Salafism, a radical form of Islam.
Catalonia has been the main hub of jihadist recruitment in Spain for more than a decade and radical Islamists consider it to be occupied land that should be part of a future Islamic caliphate. The region is home to approximately 510,000 Muslims, more than a quarter of the total number in Spain, according to a demographic study by the Union of Islamic Communities of Spain.
ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terror groups consider the area to be land that could be reclaimed. They refer to it as Al-Andalus, the ancient Arabic name for the Iberian mainland, covering most of modern-day Spain and Portugal, and which was under Muslim rule until 1492.
NYT evening brief: The terrorist attacks that killed at least 14 people in Spain appear to be a sophisticated and far-reaching plot that could have been much worse.
The Spanish police said the attacks, the first in Barcelona and a second episode in which five men in a car hit people in the seaside resort town of Cambrils, may have been hatched in a house that the plotters were using as a bomb factory. At least four suspects were arrested, and the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Barcelona assault.
Here’s what we know about the attacks, and our Interpreter column examines the effects on society if anything — even something as ubiquitous as a car — can be used as a weapon.
Police See Wider Plot in Spain and Say Carnage Could Have Been Worse

17 August
As Vehicle Attacks Rise, an Ordinary Object Becomes an Instrument of Fear
This time it was Barcelona. An ordinary van was transformed into a deadly and indiscriminate weapon.
It seemed to be yet another blow to trust in a basic social compact: that people are essentially safe when they walk down the street, relying on drivers to at least try to follow the rules. That accidents would be impersonal and random, and that everyone would try to avoid them.
Even though the automotive terrorist attacks of the past two years are far rarer than accidents, they are a warning that a driver can wield the ordinary car as a weapon. If anything — even something as ubiquitous as a car — can be a weapon, that adds a sense of menace to daily urban life.

3 June
London attacks: incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market confirmed as terrorism – live
Armed police respond to serious incidents at London Bridge and Borough Market – with members of the public urged to reach areas of safety
Reuters: Militants plow van into crowd on London Bridge, stab others on street

It’s Not Islam That Drives Young Europeans to Jihad, France’s Top Terrorism Expert Explains
Olivier Roy, one of France’s top experts on Islamic terrorism, tells Haaretz how assailants like Salman Abedi in Manchester turn into ‘new radicals’ who crave death
“An estimated 60 percent of those who espouse violent jihadism in Europe are second-generation Muslims who have lost their connection with their country of origin and have failed to integrate into Western societies,” Roy says.
They are subject to a “process of deculturation” that leaves them ignorant of and detached from both the European society and the one of their origins. The result, Roy argues, is a dangerous “identity vacuum” in which “violent extremism thrives.”
“Unlike second generations like Abedi’s, third generations are normally better integrated in the West and don’t account for more than 15 percent of homegrown jihadis,” Roy says. “Converts, who also have an approach to Islam decontextualized from any culture, account for about 25 percent of those who fall prey to violent fundamentalism.

Deadly blasts hit Kabul protest victim’s funeral
Attendees were gathered to mourn a victim of deadly violence a day earlier during protests decrying lack of security.
(Al Jazeera) Three explosions have ripped through a funeral in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, killing at least 20 people and wounding 35, according to the health ministry.
Saturday’s funeral at the Tapa Marshal Fahim cemetery in the Sarai Shamali area was being held for a protester, the son of Senator Mohammad Alam Izdyar, who was killed during demonstrations a day earlier demanding better security in the country.
Friday’s protesters took to the streets to decry perceived security failures after a massive blast on Wednesday killed at least 90 people in Kabul.
At least four people died in Friday’s protests, as police fired live rounds to disperse hundreds of demonstrators.

31 May
Kabul bombing: Huge explosion rocks diplomatic district
Huge blast rips through the heart of Afghan capital, in an area close to many government offices and foreign embassies.
A suspected truck bomb has ripped through the heart of Kabul’s diplomatic district, killing at least 80 people and wounding hundreds, in a powerful blast described by officials as “one of the biggest” to have hit the Afghan capital. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Both the Taliban and ISIL have previously staged large-scale attacks in Kabul.

28 May
The tangled web of foreign wars and terrorism
Associate Professor Jake Lynch and others on the causes of terrorism and possible links to wars of intervention by the west
(The Guardian) “Islamic State germinated in the scorched earth left behind when we removed the regime of Saddam Hussein. If we had not invaded Iraq, the organisation that is now attacking us would not exist. That is blowback.
The plan proclaimed to stabilise Libya, after the overthrow of Gaddafi, was never going to work. There were realistic alternatives, put forward at the time, to bombing on the side of the rebels – such as setting up UN safe areas – but they were ignored. Nato turned a blind eye to shipments of weapons bound for Misrata, with the result that one big Gaddafi turned into lots of little Gaddafis. That is what has brought about the ungovernable space in Libya which Isis has exploited. That is blowback.
Now Trump has loosened the rules of engagement for US bombing, with the result that 50 civilians in Syria were killed in the week before the attack on Westminster, and 200 in Iraq the week before that – both in raids targeting Isis, with UK involvement and support. Unlike in Manchester, the Westminster attacker apparently had no organisational links with Isis – but that does not mean there is not an indirect connection. That, too, is blowback. Violence begets violence.”

Survivors of Egypt Christian bus attack recount their horror
Pope calls victims of ISIS attack ‘martyrs’

26 May
Coptic Christians killed in Minya bus attack
Children among bus passengers targeted while going to a monastery in Minya province, prompting hunt for the attackers.
(Al Jazeera) The Christians were headed on Friday to the Saint Samuel Monastery, located outside Minya city, about 220km south of the capital Cairo, when the masked attackers, who came in three pickup trucks, opened fire of them before fleeing the scene.
Egyptian security and medical officials told the Associated Press news agency that of the 28 dead, many were children.
In April, at least 45 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in two separate suicide bomb attacks on churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria during Palm Sunday ceremonies.
The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.
Following the Palm Sunday bombings, Sisi declared a nationwide three-month state of emergency.
A bombing at Cairo’s largest Coptic cathedral killed at least 25 people and wounded 49 in December 2016, including many women and children.

25 May
Terror Investigation: In the early stages of the investigation, U.K. officials shared intelligence with U.S. counterparts who leaked information about the suspect’s identity to news organizations, causing the U.K. some aggravation. Abedi was known to the country’s security services before the bombing, but wasn’t considered an immediate threat—circumstances that point to the challenges of terrorism prevention.

24 May
Police Investigate ‘Network’ of Salman Abedi, Manchester Bomber
A portrait of Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old who carried out Britain’s deadliest terrorist attack since 2005, began to come into focus on Wednesday as the police raced to track down what they called his “network,” in the first official confirmation that investigators believe Mr. Abedi had received help.
On Monday night, Mr. Abedi detonated a powerful bomb as fans were leaving a pop concert by the American singer Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena. The explosion killed 22 people, including a police officer and an 8-year-old girl, and wounded 64 others; 20 were still listed in critical condition on Wednesday.
The BBC reported on Wednesday that officials said they believed Mr. Abedi had been a “mule,” carrying a bomb made by someone else. Officials also said they were looking into Mr. Abedi’s relationship with Raphael Hostey, a British recruiter for the Islamic State who is believed to have been killed in a drone strike in Syria last year.

21 May
Trump summons Muslim nations to confront ‘Islamic terror of all kinds’
(WaPost) Speaking from Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home to several of the religion’s holiest sites, Trump implored dozens of Muslim nations to join the United States against the killing of innocent people in the name of religion and the failure to take a firm and united stand.
“This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects or different civilizations,” Trump said. “This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life and decent people,all in the name of religion — people that want to protect life and want to protect their religion. This is a battle between good and evil.”
Trump established common cause with his Saudi hosts by singling out Iran as funding terrorists and promoting a “craven ideology,” and he called on the Muslim world to help isolate Iran.
A few hours before his remarks, Trump and the leaders of six Persian Gulf states reached an agreement to crack down on terrorism financing, including the prosecution of individuals who continue sending money to militants.
The memorandum of understanding — between the United States and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Saudi Arabia as well as Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — includes the creation of a center in Riyadh to fight extremism.

7 May
82 Chibok schoolgirls freed in exchange for five Boko Haram leaders
(The Guardian) Young women, who were among 276 captured in April 2014, flown to Nigerian capital to meet president while charities call for them to be reunited with families
Months of negotiations involving multiple players across two continents has resulted in a deal in which 82 Chibok schoolgirls – who were seized from their dormitories in April 2014 and held captive for more than three years by Islamist group Boko Haram – have been released in exchange for five militant leaders.
But joy at their freedom was quickly followed by concern for their privacy and fears that the thousands of other less high-profile prisoners still held captive by the extremists would be forgotten.
The deal was negotiated by Mustapha Zanna, a barrister who is currently the proprietor of an orphanage in Maiduguri, but who was once the lawyer of the late founder of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf. It also involved the Swiss government and the Red Cross.
Over 100 of the former schoolgirls, who are now around 20 years old, remain in Boko Haram’s hands, along with many others, male and female, including very young children. In recent years, many of these have been forced by the militant group to carry bombs to busy areas and explode them, killing themselves and hundreds of other civilians.
The young women released on Sunday were among 276 mostly Christian schoolgirls whose abduction by Boko Haram caused an international outcry in April 2014. the Chibok girls gained international attention when the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls took off on social media, where it was was promoted by Michelle Obama and other celebrities. The unintended consequence of the girls’ sudden fame was that their value to the militants who held them was immediately multiplied.

7 April
Three killed by truck driven into crowd in Swedish capital: police
(Reuters) A truck drove into a crowd on a shopping street and crashed into a department store in central Stockholm on Friday, killing three people and wounding eight in what the prime minister said appeared to be a terrorist attack.

23 March
Terror’s Aftermath: ISIS has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s deadly attack outside the U.K. Parliament. The suspected terrorist, a 52-year-old British national, has also been identified. We’re tracking the latest developments here. Prime Minister Theresa May urged citizens to go about their lives as usual—a philosophy of resilience that’s carried the U.K. through war and terror in the past. Those past attacks also shaped London’s emergency response system, which showed yesterday it was well prepared for the attack. Meanwhile in the U.S., the FBI made headway in another terror investigation, arresting an Israeli American teenager for calling in numerous bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers and schools.
(The Guardian) Westminster attack

12 March
Carlos the Jackal to face trial in France over 1974 bombing
Venezuelan-born terrorist, who is already serving multiple life sentences, will face court over an attack on a Paris shop that killed two men
(The Guardian) Carlos the Jackal, the perpetrator of headline-grabbing attacks in the 1970s and early 1980s, goes on trial in France on Monday for the deadly bombing of a Paris shop more than 40 years ago.
With attention in France now focused on the ever-present threat of jihadist attack, the trial in Paris will reach back to a time when Europe was repeatedly targeted by ruthless groups sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
The 67-year-old Venezuelan, whose real name is Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, describes himself as a “professional revolutionary” and was dubbed “Carlos the Jackal” by the press when he was one of the world’s most wanted terror suspects. …
The prosecution says the attack was linked to a hostage-taking at the French embassy in the Dutch capital, The Hague, that had begun two days earlier, on September 13, 1974.
The Japanese Red Army, a communist militant group that had close ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in which Ramírez was the head of “special operations”, was demanding that French authorities free one of its members who had been arrested at Paris Orly airport two months early.
The prosecution says Ramírez orchestrated the Hague hostage-taking and carried out the Paris grenade attack to force the French government to give in to the Japanese group’s demands.
He achieved his aim – the Japanese suspect was released and was able to travel to Yemen with other members of the Hague hostage-taking team. [emphasis added]
6 February
These Are The Attacks Trump Says Went Underreported. You’ll Recognize A Few.
(HuffPost) Mere hours after President Donald Trump claimed Western media underreported acts of terrorism, the White House on Monday released a curated list of 78 violent incidents from the past three years to back up those allegations. However, several, including the attacks in San Bernardino, OrlandoParis and Nice, were major news events for days or weeks both domestically and abroad.
The Trump administration faced criticism Monday night for not only including events that were reported extensively but also for focusing on Western targets. According to the Global Terrorism Database, parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East experienced terrorist attacks far more frequently in 2015 than did Europe and North America.And the Global Terrorism Index, a list produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace and based on data from the Global Terrorism Database, found most terrorist activities in 2015 occurred in five countries: Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. The European country most affected by terrorism using that data, the United Kingdom, ranks 25th on the list. The United States is 35th.


22 December
Robert Fisk: Isis is using terror to eliminate multicultural countries like Germany – and the far-right is helping them
The intention of Isis’ terror attacks is to provoke European states to ‘persecute’ Muslims within their frontiers in acts of reprisal for the mass killing of western Europeans
(The Independent UK) The ‘grey zone’, a phrase invented by Isis almost two years ago, first made its appearance in the group’s French-language publications, obviously intended for those Muslims who make up perhaps 10 per cent of the population of France – the nation with the largest number of Muslims in Europe. Isis wanted to eliminate ‘the grey zone’ which it identified as those western – ‘Crusader’, ‘Christian’, etc – countries with a large Muslim immigrant community. Muslims should revolt against their European nations (or their host nations, if not actually citizens) and create conflict within the countries. … [ISIS] wished to provoke the non-Muslim people of Europe to reject their millions of Muslim fellow-citizens. An uprising among Isis followers – however few – would produce mass murder by the ‘Christians’ of Europe. That was – and obviously still is – the strategy. And it has had some success. The rise of far-right parties in both western and eastern Europe has a strong anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant detonation, and the hunt for political power by those who wish to discriminate against Muslims (or ‘persecute’ them) has been fuelled by mass killings carried out in Isis’ name.
Gwynne Dyer: The Berlin provocation
Terrorism is a very small threat that is designed to look very big. It achieves that goal by attracting massive media coverage that inflates it into an apparently huge threat.
Terrorists want that wall-to-wall media coverage because it may provoke a huge over-reaction that ultimately serves their own purposes. In the case of the current wave of Islamist terrorism, they hope it will build support in the Muslim world for their revolutionary project and ultimately bring them to power.
In the early phase, they wanted to provoke Western invasions of Muslim countries that would drive more Muslims into their arms (as in the case of the 9/11 attacks). Now they are trying to panic Western governments into abusing and oppressing their own Muslim citizens. The basic strategy remains the same, and it has proved very successful.
Truck attacks in Berlin and Nice reflect change in Islamic State tactics
Responsibility for Christmas market killings not yet confirmed but use of heavy vehicle on traditional event follows Isis line
(The Guardian) The Berlin killings appear to have been modelled on the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice, a tactic that has become a focus of propaganda by Islamic State over the past month.
At least 12 people died and dozens were injured on Monday night when a lorry was driven into a Christmas market in the centre of the German capital. The chancellor, Angela Merkel, said on Tuesday it had to be assumed “we are dealing with a terrorist attack”.
21 December
Europe’s lack of strong leadership leaves it vulnerable to terrorism
Terrorist groups know that well-timed attacks cause political upheaval and exploit people’s fears, but liberal democracy is often strongest when wounded
The nature of the threat – ubiquitous, hidden, improvised and randomly targeting civilians – is all but impossible to defend against. When a “lone wolf” attacks, as in the Bastille Day truck killings in Nice last July, the problem is magnified. It is still unclear whether the driver of the Berlin lorry was acting alone or what his motive was.
The Berlin assault could have happened anywhere. It almost did. Police foiled an attack on a Christmas market in Ludwigshafen, in south-west Germany, by a 12-year-old German-Iraqi boy. Last month, French authorities arrested five people believed to be plotting attacks on a Christmas market on the Champs-Élysées.
11 December
Kurdish Militant Group Claims Responsibility for Deadly Istanbul Bombing
The group — Kurdistan Freedom Falcons — said in a statement that two of its members had carried out the suicide attacks in retaliation for state violence in the predominantly Kurdish region in southeast Turkey.
29 November
Ohio State University attack: suspect shot dead after injuring 11
Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a student at Ohio State, named as assailant who drove his car into a crowd of people before stabbing bystanders with a butcher knife
16 November
Global Terrorism Index 2016: Developed countries suffer dramatic rise in terrorism-related deaths
As international terrorist groups are squeezed in their heartlands, the number of attacks in OECD countries has risen 650%
(The Independent) The index shows Isis is now officially the deadliest terrorist group in the world, overtaking Boko Haram, after claiming responsibility for 6,141 deaths through attacks in more than 250 different cities in 2015.
And the number of countries in which Isis has carried out attacks more than doubled, from 13 in 2014 to 28 in 2015.
19 September
Manhattan Bombs Provide Trove of Clues; F.B.I. Questions 5 People
(NYT) A bomb that injured 29 people on Saturday in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, and another that failed to detonate, were filled with shrapnel and made with pressure cookers, flip phones and Christmas lights to set off a powerful explosive compound, law enforcement officials said on Sunday.
Both bombs appeared designed to create maximum chaos and fatalities. They also provided a trove of clues.
Tensions in the region, already high, escalated later Sunday night when, according to a law enforcement official, pipe bombs were found near the train station in Elizabeth, N.J. The mayor, J. Christian Bollwage, confirmed that a suspicious package containing “wires and a pipe” had been found by two men in the city, and said that the F.B.I. and the New Jersey State Police had been called in to investigate after a drone found that the item could be a bomb. [Bloomberg: Device Near Train Station Explodes While FBI Investigates]
Officials said they did not know of any motive — political or social — for any of the attacks. Early on Sunday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that “there is no evidence of an international terrorism connection with this incident,” noting that no international terrorist group had claimed responsibility.
In contrast, the Islamic State was quick on Sunday to claim a stabbing attack at a Minnesota shopping mall on Saturday night that left nine people injured.
5 September
Terrorism collage A black and white collage made up of newspaper clippings with the topics of terror tragedy, crime and natural disasters [Getty]
The world is apparently awash in terror ‘masterminds’
Corporate media concoct myth of terror ‘superman’ to help justify the perpetual war on terror.
By Andrew Mitrovica
(Al Jazeera) Not surprisingly, a perfunctory database search revealed that “terrorist mastermind” has been employed thousands of times by scores of news organisations to describe all sorts of mostly bad guys doing bad things to good people.
The West’s list of “mastermind” terrorists is long and includes notorious, as well as many more by now obscure and forgotten, “masterminds” who are quickly succeeded by other obscure, soon-to-be forgotten “masterminds”.
The phrase “terrorist mastermind” has become part of the cliched vernacular of the coverage of the “war on terror” for several rarely discussed reasons.
First, and perhaps most importantly, the term is designed to ascribe unique, almost other-worldly powers to the West’s latest iteration of the “bad guys”.
The intent, of course, is to create the spectre – wittingly or unwittingly – that the West is facing an existential threat from a legion of virtual “supermen” (and superwomen, for that matter) that requires an equally unique, powerful and commensurate response.
This is the predictable rationale that often accompanies the invocation of draconian “anti-terror laws” by western governments of disparate political persuasions, that are engineered, rhetorically speaking, to confront and, ultimately defeat, the terrorist “superman”.
9 August
Where are the hashtags for the Pakistan hospital attack? Lack of response to bombing criticised on Twitter
‘There are many wounded, so the death toll could rise’ official says
(The Independent) Both Isis and a faction of the Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a hospital in Quetta which killed at least 70 people and wounded more than 100.
The bomber struck on Monday as a crowd of mourners, mostly lawyers and journalists, gathered to accompany the body of Bilal Anwar Kasi, a prominent lawyer who was shot and killed earlier on Monday.
At least 70 people were killed and more than 112 wounded, Abdul Rehman Miankhel, a senior official at the government-run Civil Hospital, where the explosion occurred, told reporters.
25 July
(Quartz) More terror in Germany. A failed Syrian asylum-seeker blew himself up in the Bavarian town of Ansbach after being denied entry to a music festival, killing himself and injuring a dozen others. The area is home to a US military base. Separately, police in Munich arrested a 16-year-old Afghan friend of the teenage boy who killed nine people at a shopping mall on Friday.
23 July
ISIL-claimed blasts kill dozens in Kabul Hazara protest
(Al Jazeera) ISIL claims responsibility for blasts targeting a demonstration by members of Afghanistan’s Hazara minority in Kabul.
The three million-strong Hazara community has been persecuted for decades, with thousands killed in the late 1990s by al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The demonstrators had gathered to demand a multi-million-dollar power line pass through their electricity-starved province of Bamiyan, one of the most deprived areas of Afghanistan with a large Hazara population.
The 500-kilovolt TUTAP power line, which would connect the Central Asian nations of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with electricity-hungry Afghanistan and Pakistan, was originally set to pass through the central province.
But the government re-routed it through the mountainous Salang pass north of Kabul, saying the shorter route would speed up the project and save millions of dollars.
22 July
Nice lorry attack: Five suspected accomplices charged
(BBC) The four men and one woman, aged between 22 and 40, are accused of helping prepare the terror attack, claimed by so-called Islamic State
15 July
Our Best Defense Against Terrorists
(NYT Editorial Board) whoever struck the blow, whatever its malevolent purpose or toll, the response cannot be to abandon the respect for human rights, equality, reason and tolerance that is the aspiration of all democratic cultures. Though it has become almost a cliché to argue that the goal of terrorists is to bring their victims down to their moral level, it is also a truth, and it must be reaffirmed after every attack.
There is no way that the police can track every vengeance-seeking potential killer or neutralize every weapon as commonplace as a truck. What threatened nations and their leaders can do is to firmly instill the idea that the only sure defense is to stay true to what democratic societies really stand for.
Why Nice was an unsurprising location for a terrorist attack
The idyllic Mediterranean beach town has a severe problem of Islamist radicalisation
(The Economist) By the start of this year, at least 55 residents of Nice and other towns in the department of Alpes-Maritimes, which covers the Côte d’Azur, had left to fight in Syria or Iraq. That included 11 members of a single family. The department’s government recently closed down five underground prayer houses suspected of preaching violent Islamism. (In total there are roughly 40 mosques in and around Nice.) Increasingly worried about the flow of jihadists, Alpes-Maritimes was one of the first departments to put in place an early-warning system for families, schools and local services to try to prevent them from leaving for Syria, and to refer individuals at risk of radicalisation to specialist units.
Eighty-four people, including 10 children, were killed on Thursday night when a 31-year-old French Tunisian attacked Bastille Day celebrations in Nice by speeding a truck for 2km (about 1 mile) along the crowded promenade.
Two hundred and two people were injured and 52 people remain in critical care, 25 on life support, French prosecutor François Molins said. Three or four children are in extremely critical condition, a doctor told the Guardian. The dead include two Americans, a Russian student and a motorcyclist who tried to board the truck to stop the driver.
The attacker was named as Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a chauffeur and deliveryman who was born in Tunis but had lived in France for years.
3 July
Nicholas Kristof: The Terrorists the Saudis Cultivate in Peaceful Countries
“Cartoonists can just hurt our feelings,… But damaging the reputation of Islam? That’s not what the cartoonists are doing. That’s what Saudi Arabia is doing.”
For decades, Saudi Arabia has recklessly financed and promoted a harsh and intolerant Wahhabi version of Islam around the world in a way that is, quite predictably, producing terrorists. And there’s no better example of this Saudi recklessness than in the Balkans.
Kosovo and Albania have been models of religious moderation and tolerance, and … Kosovars revere the United States and Britain for averting a possible genocide by Serbs in 1999 (there are also many Kosovar teenagers named Tony Blair!). Yet Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries poured money into the new nation over the last 17 years and nurtured religious extremism in a land where originally there was little.
The upshot is that, according to the Kosovo government, 300 Kosovars have traveled to fight in Syria or Iraq, mostly to join the Islamic State. As my colleague Carlotta Gall noted in a pathbreaking article about radicalization here, Saudi money has transformed a once-tolerant Islamic society into a pipeline for jihadists.
Bombing Kills More Than 140 in Baghdad
(NYT) As celebrations for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan stretched past midnight into Sunday in central Baghdad, where Iraqis had gathered to eat, shop and just be together, a minivan packed with explosives blew up and killed at least 143 people — the third mass slaughter across three countries in less than a week. The attack was the deadliest in Baghdad in years. … The bombing came barely a week after Iraqi security forces, backed by American airstrikes, celebrated the liberation of Falluja from the Islamic State, which almost immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
2 July
Bangladeshi terror group affiliated with IS reportedly led by Canadian
(Globe & Mail) Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for the attack in Dhaka, but authorities are still investigating who led the hostage-taking that resulted in at least 20 deaths.
One of the likely suspects: a terrorist group in Bangladesh that is affiliated with IS and is reportedly led by a Canadian.
Tamim Chowdhury, who goes by Shaykh Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, is a Bangladeshi-Canadian who is leading a militant arm with close ties to Islamic State, according to the Bangladeshi newspaper The Daily Star.
Mr. Chowdhury is also connected with an IS study group, which cited him as the leader of the Bangladeshi IS effort. In the April issue of Daqbi, a glossy magazine published by Islamic State, Mr. Chowdhury called for a united country free of “deviant sects, who are busy misleading the masses.” The magazine identified Mr. Chowdhury as the “emir,” or ruler, of its Bangladesh branch.
Why the Dhaka terror attack is shockingly unsurprising—and a warning for India
(Quartz India) On July 1, gunmen took multiple hostages at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s diplomatic area. Reports said, the siege lasted almost 10 hours. Six gunmen were shot dead by security forces, while over 20 hostages—mostly foreigners—were killed.
In the last few months, Bangladesh has witnessed killings of secular bloggers, atheists, gay rights activists, and members of religious minorities by Islamists. Just hours before the Dhaka siege, a Hindu priest was murdered as he was gathering flowers in Bangladesh’s southwestern district of Jhenakdah.
In almost all these cases, the victims were hacked to death—a signature of the ISIL. The killings at Holey Artisan Bakery were no different.
In the past, ISIL has declared ambitious plans to take over entire South Asia, including India. Now, it seems it wants to focus on softer and relatively easier spots, and Bangladesh fits that bill.
1 July
Istanbul bombers ‘from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan’
Three foreign nationals prime suspects for airport killings as Turkish officials say evidence points to ISIL
Al Qaeda leader warns of ‘gravest consequences’ if Boston bomber executed
(Reuters) Zawahri, who became al Qaeda’s leader after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, urged Muslims to take captive as many Westerners as possible, especially those whose countries had joined the “Crusaders’ Campaign led by the United States”.
The veteran Egyptian-born Islamist said the Western captives could then be exchanged for Muslim prisoners.
Legal wrangling over Tsarnaev’s fate could play out for years or even decades. Just three of the 74 people sentenced to death in the United States for federal crimes since 1998 have been executed
15 June
Why Do Terrorists Commit Terrorism?
By Peter Bergen, vice president of New America, a professor at Arizona State University and CNN’s national security analyst.
(NYT) To try to figure out why terrorists do what they do, researchers at the think tank New America and I reviewed court records in more than 300 cases of people charged with jihadist terrorism in the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, ranging from relatively trivial cases, like sending small sums of money to a foreign terrorist organization, to very serious ones, like murder. I have also spoken to terrorists’ families and friends and even, in some cases, to the terrorists themselves.
The easy explanation — that jihadist terrorists in the United States are “mad” or “bad” — proved simply wrong. Around one in 10 had mental health problems, below the incidence in the general population. Nor were they typically career criminals: Twelve percent had served time in prison, compared with about 11 percent of the American male population.
I found that the perpetrators were generally motivated by a mix of factors, including militant Islamist ideology; dislike of American foreign policy in the Muslim world; a need to attach themselves to an ideology or organization that gave them a sense of purpose; and a “cognitive opening” to militant Islam that often was precipitated by personal disappointment, like the death of a parent. For many, joining a jihadist group or carrying out an attack allowed them to become heroes of their own story.
2 May
(The Atlantic Daily) Dozens of people in Iraq have been killed in multiple car-bomb attacks by the Islamic State in recent days. At least 31 people were killed in the city of Samawah yesterday, and at least 18 were killed in Baghdad today. The attacks came after a weekend of unrest in the country; on Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators broke into the Iraqi parliament in protest of the mostly Shiite government. The United Nations estimates more than 700 Iraqis were killed in terroristic and other violent acts in April.
28 April
After John Ridsdel beheading, is Philippines facing ISIS threat?
(Global News) Months before Abu Sayyaf militants beheaded retired Canadian mining executive John Ridsdel in the tropical jungles of the southern Philippines, they showed him pleading for life in a video with three other hostages that demanded a record-high ransom.
The scene was all too familiar in a Southeast Asian nation that has struggled with ransom kidnappings by the Islamic militants for years, except for two things.
President Benigno Aquino III ran a history of the Abu Sayyaf’s brutal attacks, describing it as a group of outlaws … Even as it poses as a group of Islamic freedom fighters, the Abu Sayyaf has behaved as criminals focused on enriching themselves by taking hostages for ransom,” he said, describing them as opportunists who want to “align themselves with ISIS to gain access to the funds and resources of ISIS.”
Terrorism experts, however, believe that a key Abu Sayyaf faction and at least two other small armed groups have gone beyond pledging allegiance to the Middle East-based jihadis on video and have struck a new alliance under the IS flag. See also Adrienne Arsenault’s report on The National.
John Ridsdel execution: Why refusing to pay ransoms may not protect Canadians
Trudeau says Canada won’t pay ransoms ‘directly or indirectly’
The capture and subsequent beheading of John Ridsdel, one of two Canadians who were being held hostage by an al-Qaeda-linked group in the Philippines, has renewed the debate over whether governments should pay ransoms to secure the freedom of their citizens.
12 April
Boko Haram: soaring numbers of children used in suicide attacks, says Unicef
Across north-east Nigeria and neighbouring countries, 44 children were used in suicide attacks in 2015, three-quarters of them girls
The number of children used in suicide attacks by Boko Haram has soared 11-fold over the past year, with more than three-quarters of bombings now carried out by girls, according to a Unicef report, Beyond Chibok (pdf).
Data from the UN children’s agency shows that 44 children were used in suicide attacks in north-east Nigeria and neighbouring countries in 2015, compared with four the previous year.
Between January 2014 and February 2016, there were 40 suicide attacks involving one child or more: 21 in Cameroon; 17 in Nigeria, and two in Chad.
The figures, released to mark the second anniversary of the abduction of more than 200 girls from the Nigerian town of Chibok, show that children now account for nearly a fifth of all suicide bombers in Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad.
10 Must-Reads For Understanding Boko Haram’s War On Women
(HuffPost) The girls are still missing, barring the few dozen students who escaped in the immediate aftermath of the abduction. And Boko Haram’s kidnapping spree has continued. The group rampaged through northeast Nigeria in 2014 and early 2015, killing and capturing hundreds of men, women and children along the way. Human rights groups estimate over 2,000 women and girls have been kidnapped by Boko Haram.
Since the armies of Nigeria and its neighbors began to recapture territory from the group in 2015, the Nigerian military says it has freed hundreds of captives. They returned with harrowing tales of sexual violence. Many found themselves shunned by their communities, tarred by association to the terrorists that had abused them.
7 April
Boko Haram Turns Female Captives Into Terrorists
(NYT) Hold the bomb under your armpit to keep it steady, the women and girls were taught.
Sever your enemy’s head from behind, to minimize struggling.
“If you cut from the back of the neck, they die faster,” said Rahila Amos, a Nigerian grandmother describing the meticulous instruction she received from Boko Haram to become a suicide bomber.
Of all the many horrors of Boko Haram’s rampage across West Africa — the attacks on mosques, churches and schools; the mass killings of civilians; the entire villages left in ashes after militants tear through — one of the most baffling has been its ability to turn captured women and girls into killers.
Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest extremist groups, has used at least 105 women and girls in suicide attacks since June 2014, when a woman set off a bomb at an army barracks in Nigeria, according to The Long War Journal, which tracks terrorist activity.
31 March
List of Islamic Terror: Last 30 Days
During this time period, there were 127 Islamic attacks in 23 countries, in which 914 people were killed and 2912 injured.
27 March
Suicide bomber targeting Christians kills 65, mostly women and children, in Pakistan park
(Reuters) A suicide bomber killed at least 65 people, mostly women and children, at a park in Lahore on Sunday in an attack claimed by a Pakistani Taliban faction which said it had targeted Christians.
More than 300 other people were wounded, officials said.
The explosion occurred in the parking area of Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park close to children’s swings. The park is a popular site for members of Lahore’s Christian community, many of whom had gone there to celebrate the Easter weekend holiday.
Scores killed in suicide blast aimed at Christians in Lahore children’s park
(The Guardian) Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat ul-Ahrar says Christians were target of bomb that killed 69 and injuring 280 in park thronged with families BBC
Boko Haram: Would-be suicide bomber says she is kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirl
Girl caught with explosives in neighbouring Cameroon
(The Independent) Military and local government sources said that one of two girls caught in in Limani in northern Cameroon near the Nigerian border carrying explosives had claimed to be one of the missing schoolgirls. Around 50 girls managed to escaped but a further 219 remain missing. … the government are keen to identify the girl so she can be brought back to Nigeria to possibly assist the government in their investigation as to the whereabouts of the other missing girls.
25 March
Terrorists Detonate Two Bombs Killing At Least 22 People in Maiduguri, Nigeria. The horror unfolded as worshippers were in a mosque enjoying services. One bomber detonated in the mosque and the second blew up outside as survivors tried to run away.
22 -24 March
Belgian Ministers Offer Resignation In Wake Of Brussels Attacks
The security lapses in a country that is home to the European Union and NATO have drawn international criticism.
(Reuters via HuffPost) Belgian authorities are facing embarrassment after Turkey said on Wednesday that last year Ankara expelled back to Europe Brahim El Bakraoui, one of the suicide bombers who carried out the attacks on Tuesday, and warned Belgium he was a militant.
His presence in Turkey, let alone on the Syrian border, was enough to have ensured that Bakraoui, 29, should have been jailed on his return home since it broke terms of his parole from a nine-year sentence for armed robbery, the ministers said.
Geens told RTBF public television during a joint interview with Jambon that both Turkish officials and Belgian diplomats in Turkey who received the warning could have been “more diligent” in stressing to Brussels that Bakraoui clearly fit the profile of a dangerous foreign fighter to be held and questioned.
The Dutch government confirmed on Thursday that Bakraoui had been expelled by Turkey on a flight to Amsterdam in July but that he had not been held because he was not on wanted lists.
In Brussels Attacks, Chronicle of a Disaster Foretold
Belgian spies said attacks were coming, but overwhelmed security forces were powerless to prevent terrorists from killing 31 and wounding hundreds more.
(Foreign Policy) Fears of a possible terrorist attack in Brussels have been running high for months. The Belgian government went so far as to lock down the capital last year after receiving specific intelligence that a group of extremists were plotting a bombing and gun assault in the style of the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.
The lockdown was lifted after four days, but the government’s performance fueled criticism that it was behind the curve on the terrorist threat. Belgian security services also came under fire for having monitored and tracked several of the Paris attackers without informing their French counterparts about the suspects.
As police in Brussels launched a manhunt for one of the suspected assailants, Belgium and its allies, including the United States, faced a number of crucial, unanswered questions in the wake of the attacks: Who is the suspected bomb-maker, or bomb-makers, behind the killings, and where are they located? How sophisticated were the ingredients used in the explosives? How did the extremists evade detection? And just how big is the terrorist network that helped fund, plan, and carry out the massacres?
Belgium Has Raised a Monster in Its Midst
Andrea Purgatori, Investigative Journalist, HuffPost Italy
Considering today’s attacks as simply a hot-headed vendetta for the capture of Salah Abdeslam does not help us get a grip on the size of the monster that Belgium has let grow and expand inside its borders.
(World Post) Belgium is paying an incredibly high price for the calculations it made surrounding terrorism and fundamentalists, who over the past two years have built the network of safe houses and militants that are now bloodying the heart of Europe’s capital. It was completely mistaken to think that militant jihadists would give Belgium a reprieve in exchange for the tolerance and indifference that intelligence and secret services displayed when dealing with the neighborhood on the outskirts of Brussels, where terrorists recruited their soldiers and stockpiled weapons and explosives.
This much was perfectly clear immediately following the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo, when logistical collusion between the attackers and the terror cells hidden in Belgium emerged in full. There was further confirmation of this in August, with the failed attack on the Amsterdam-Paris train, fortunately (and fortuitously) prevented by three passengers. It was clear on November 13 after the Paris attacks on the Bataclan, the soccer stadium and in the streets of the city, when all evidence pointed to maneuvers organized along the Brussels-Paris axis amid the foolishness (or worse) of secret services in Belgium, who perhaps could have avoided that bloodbath.
Now, after a four-month-long, desperate and, in many ways, inconclusive manhunt for Abdeslam Salah, who was hiding just a few meters from his home in the heart of the Molenbeek neighborhood, the Belgian intelligence services hoped they’d laid to rest the threat that hung over Belgium and the rest of Europe. Once again, they were wrong. Once again, they miscalculated, as the reach and violence with which the Jihad that has nested and grown inside the Belgian capital exploded in all its vengeance. After the attacks in Paris, terrorist experts had estimated that at least 30 to 40 people were involved in the network responsible for the chain of attacks. Today it’s clear that this estimate will have to be revisited.
21 March
Mali Terrorism: Gunmen Attack European Union Military Training Base At Nord-Sud Hotel
(Reuters) Gunmen on Monday attacked a hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, that had been converted into the headquarters of a European Union military training operation, but there no casualties among the mission’s personnel.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which began at around 6:30 p.m. local time (1830 GMT), but Mali and neighboring West African countries have increasingly been the target of Islamist militants, some of them affiliated with al Qaeda.
One of the assailants was killed and two suspects were arrested and were being interrogated, the country’s internal security minister said.
11 February
Young Bombers Kill 58 at Nigerian Camp for Those Fleeing Boko Haram
(NYT) When three girls showed up Monday at a camp for people who had fled the militant group Boko Haram, they were welcomed and offered a place to sleep.
But early Tuesday morning, as the first light spread across the sprawling camp, two of the girls blew themselves up with bombs they had been concealing, killing 58 people and wounding 78.
Yet Tuesday’s attack could have been worse. One of the would-be bombers recognized her parents and siblings in the camp and decided not to detonate her device, according to Sani Datti of Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency. Instead, the girl surrendered to the authorities and warned that future attacks were being planned for the camp, according to other emergency officials.
1 February
Boko Haram burns kids alive in Nigeria, 86 dead: officials
(AP) — A survivor hidden in a tree says he watched Boko Haram extremists firebomb huts and heard the screams of children burning to death, among 86 people officials say died in the latest attack by Nigeria’s homegrown Islamic extremists.
The shooting, burning and explosions from three suicide bombers continued for nearly four hours in the unprotected area, survivor Alamin Bakura said, weeping on a telephone call to The Associated Press. He said several of his family members were killed or wounded.
The violence continued as three female suicide bombers blew up among people who managed to flee to neighboring Gamori village, killing many people, according to a soldier at the scene who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to journalists.
22 January
Somali Security Forces End Siege At Beachfront Restaurant; At Least 20 Dead
Witnesses said that gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great,” as they entered the restaurant.
(AP) — Somalia’s security forces ended a deadly siege of a beachfront restaurant in the capital, with more than 20 people killed in the attack, a police official said Friday.
It was not clear whether Hussein’s report of more than 20 killed included the assailants. Islamic extremist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, in a broadcast on its online radio late Thursday.
17 January
Sunday Panel: Al Qaeda vs. ISIS: Who will win the turf war?
(CBC|The National) In a special edition of The Sunday Talk, our Turning Point panelists weigh in on what’s behind the attack in Burkina Faso. It used to be European empires that colonized Africa. Have ISIS and Al Qaeda now taken over that role?
Mali and Burkina Faso to share counter-terror efforts after Islamist attacks
Al-Qaida militants have launched assaults on both west African countries’ capitals in recent months
(The Guardian) The prime ministers of the two countries met on Sunday, two days after al-Qaida militants seized the Splendid hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, opened fire on a restaurant and attacked another hotel nearby. The assault killed at least 29 people from at least 18 countries and left 50 other people injured.
The assault, claimed by al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), follows a similar raid in November on a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako, which killed 20 people, including citizens of Russia, China and the US.
A New Generation of Terrorists Graduates in Indonesia’s Radical Heartland
City of Solo, in central Java, has bred a number of violent Islamists
(WSJ) Over the past decade, Indonesian police have arrested or killed scores of local terrorists from a generation inspired by and linked to al Qaeda. Some had been to Afghanistan pre-9/11; many had studied in Solo. Improved policing eviscerated the leadership until only scattered cells capable of little more than drive-by shootings remained, experts said. Until last week there had been no major attack on Jakarta since 2009.
But the emergence of a new cohort of militants impressed as youngsters by the previous heyday of terror here demonstrates the deep roots of radicalization.
Burkina Faso attack signals spread of Islamist menace
Political instability, rivalry between al-Qaida and Isis, and many other factors mean efforts to counter terrorism are a mere grain of sand in the desert
Recent days have seen a series of uncoordinated jihadi attacks on soft targets on three continents: a suicide bombing in Istanbul targeted German tourists; gunmen opened fire on a coffee shop at a United Nations office in Jakarta; and now a group of terrorists has attacked a hotel in Ouagadougou, the capital Burkina Faso, killing dozens from at least 18 countries.
Africa, and more particularly the Sahel, is increasingly spoken of as the “new front” in Islamist militancy. This may be exaggerated, but the threat is undoubtedly growing on the continent, and not just on its Mediterranean coastline.
Until recently, Burkina Faso had been spared the Islamist violence afflicting nearby states. But the landlocked sub-Saharan state has become the latest link in a chain of violence-hit countries from Nigeria, where the Isis affiliate Boko Haram is still a force despite recent government efforts, to Somalia, where al-Shabaab extremists last week overran an army base and killed around 60 Kenyan soldiers.
14 January
At least 7 dead as Jakarta rocked by multiple explosions, gunfire in ISIS-related attacks
A terrorist attack involving suicide bombings and gunfights with police in the center of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta has left at least seven people dead.
According to Al Jazeera, a Dutch national working for UN was among the dead. The Jakarta police said on their Twitter account that the explosions went off in front of the Sarinah shopping mall. Police say attackers arrived on motorcycles and threw grenades, ABC’s Indonesia correspondent Adam Harvey reported.
13 January
2 female suicide bombers attack Cameroon mosque, killing 10
(AP) Two female suicide bombers attacked a mosque in a town near Cameroon’s border with Nigeria during morning prayers Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and wounding about a dozen others, the governor of the region said.
The attack in the town of Kolofata is believed to have been carried out by Boko Haram members who crossed the border into Cameroon a few days ago
12 January
Deadly Istanbul blast ’caused by Isis suicide bomber’
Eight of 10 victims of deadly blast in Sultanahmet district believed to be German nationals, with one Peruvian also killed
A suicide bomber said by Turkey to be affiliated with Islamic State was responsible for a blast near Istanbul’s grandest tourist attractions that has killed 10 people, most of them German.
“We have determined that the perpetrator of the attack is a foreigner who is a member of Daesh,” prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said. …
Tuesday’s blast targeted an area usually crowded with tourists a stone’s throw away from the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
It was the latest in a spate of bombings that have rocked Turkey in recent months as the authorities battle to contain the fallout from the civil war in neighbouring Syria and an escalating insurgency by Kurdish separatist guerrillas.
Last summer, Isis targeted a gathering of Kurdish activists in the town of Suruc with a suicide bombing that killed 33 people, and in October the capital Ankara was the scene of the worst terror attack on Turkish soil when 102 people at a peace rally were killed in a suicide blast.


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