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Written by Diana Thebaud Nicholson // April 1, 2023 // Terrorism // Comments Off on Terrorism 2019-
List of terrorist incidents in 2019
Global network aims to sue Wagner as a ‘terrorist’ organisation
Ukrainians in exile are mobilising an army of lawyers to seize Wagner’s assets and hobble Russia’s ability to wage war.
Last November, UK-based law firm McCue Jury and Partners served a letter before action on Prigozhin and 32 defendants associated with the company.
“We’re going to prove that Wagner is a terrorist organisation, that Wagner committed acts of terrorism against not only specific individuals or buildings in Ukraine, but against the populace as a whole, because Wagner is in an unlawful conspiracy with the Russian Federation,” the company’s senior partner, Jason McCue, told Al Jazeera.
“The Russian Federation used Wagner terrorism [against] the Ukrainian people so they would put up less resistance and evacuate the country to enable a simpler invasion. It was purposely done,” he said.
… Now, McCue has formed a global alliance of law firms backed by a vast, evidence-gathering machine of investigative journalists and retired spies, aided by input from the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office and Ukrainian military intelligence, called the Ukraine Justice Alliance, to sue the St Petersburg-based Wagner private military company.
Terrorist attacks more deadly, despite decline in the West
Attacks have become more deadly with the lethality rising by 26%.
Terrorism deaths are down 9%, although this is attributed to the Taliban’s transition from terror group to state actor*.
Outside Afghanistan, terrorism deaths rose 4% in the rest of the world.
Islamic State (IS) and its affiliates remained the world’s deadliest terrorist group in 2022 for the eighth consecutive year, with attacks in 21 countries.
Deaths from attacks by unknown Jihadists globally are eight times higher than 2017, representing 32% of all terrorism deaths and 18 times higher in the Sahel.
The Sahel is the most impacted region, representing 43% of global terrorism deaths, 7% more than the year prior.
Declining terrorism in the West is met with intensified attacks in other regions.
Terrorism thrives in countries with poor ecologies and climate induced shocks.
Drone technology and its use continues to rapidly evolve, especially with groups such as IS, Boko Haram and Houthis.
Extremist thought to be in Iran is de facto new leader of al-Qaida, UN says
Veteran Egyptian Saif al-Adel viewed as formidable threat by western officials
A veteran Egyptian extremist thought to be based in Iran is now the de facto leader of al-Qaida, a UN report based on intelligence supplied by member states has said.
Saif al-Adel, 62, has long been tipped as the most likely to succeed Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was killed by a US airstrike in Kabul last year, but there has been no official announcement from the group nor other confirmation that the former Egyptian special forces soldier has taken charge.
The report from the UN security council’s committee monitoring sanctions on Islamic State and al-Qaida, published on Monday, said political sensitivities towards Iran and Taliban-run Afghanistan had prevented any formal acknowledgment by al-Qaida of Adel’s new role.
Militants seize counter-terrorism center in Pakistan, take hostages
By Saud Mehsud and Jibran Ahmad
(Japan Today) Islamist militants seized a counter-terrorism centre in the northwestern Pakistani area of Bannu on Sunday and took hostages to negotiate with government authorities, officials said.
“It’s not clear if the terrorists attacked from outside, or if they snatched the ammunition from staff inside” while being interrogated following their arrest, Bannu police spokesman Muhammad Naseeb told Reuters.
Two other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the militants were looking to negotiate for safe passage to neighboring Afghanistan, ruled by the hardline Islamist Taliban.
One said about 15 militants took control of the centre after overpowering interrogators inside, grabbing their weapons and taking five or six of them hostage.
India, Pakistan Ministers Trade Heated Accusations of Terrorism
While India’s foreign minister described Pakistan as the “epicenter of terrorism,” his Pakistani counterpart labeled the Indian PM as “the butcher of Gujarat.”
Security Council examines rising terrorism threat globally
A UN Security Council meeting on Thursday focused on terrorism began with a sobering reminder of the danger posed by this persistent threat to international peace.
India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who chaired the meeting, invited participants to stand and observe a minute of silence for victims worldwide.
They include an Irish peacekeeper serving at the UN’s mission in Lebanon, UNIFIL, shot and killed in an attack the previous night. Three other blue helmets were also injured; one critically.
The global threat posed by terrorism not only requires the Council’s continued attention, but also a renewed collective approach, said Vladimir Voronkov, head of the UN Office on Counter Terrorism (UNOCT).
“Despite continuing leadership losses by Al-Qaida and Da’esh [also known as ISIL], terrorism in general has become more prevalent and more geographically widespread, affecting the lives of millions worldwide,” he reported.
European Parliament declares Russia to be a state sponsor of terrorism
Russia is committing war crimes and uses “means of terrorism”
MEPs call for the further international isolation of Russia
Close and ban Russian state-affiliated institutions in the EU spreading propaganda
The ninth EU sanctions package against Moscow must be completed
Following the atrocities carried out by Vladimir Putin’s regime against Ukrainian civilians, MEPs have recognised Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
On Wednesday, Parliament adopted a resolution on the latest developments in Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. MEPs highlight that the deliberate attacks and atrocities committed by Russian forces and their proxies against civilians in Ukraine, the destruction of civilian infrastructure and other serious violations of international and humanitarian law amount to acts of terror and constitute war crimes. In light of this, they recognise Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism and as a state that “uses means of terrorism”.
Wagner Group: The Case for a Terrorist Designation
By Julian McBride
(Geopolitical Monitor) The Wagner Group has been mired in controversy ever since the day of its founding. A Russian paramilitary organization, the mercenary group has conducted operations that the Russian Ministry of Defense has silently approved of while maintaining plausible deniability. After years of denials and silence, the Kremlin has now formally admitted the organization’s existence, despite mercenaries being formally illegal under the Russian constitution.
Wagner has taken part in military operations in Syria, North African, Ukraine, and the Central African Republic. Their operations have left a bloody trail of civilians, with numerous massacres allegedly linked to the paramilitaries.
The Wagner Group is currently headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin insider who is associated with the hardliner clique. Prigozhin has nurtured a cult of personality through the activities of the organization, openly attacking the Russian Ministry of Defense for battlefield losses in Ukraine and, more recently, opening a ‘Wagner Center’ in Saint Petersburg to help incubate IT start-ups with potential military applications.
Dmitry Utkin, a far right GRU officer, also leads the mercenary outfit. Wagner has sought recruitment from the far-right sector of not only Russia, but also among foreigners who can make use of the group’s tactics back home if needed. For example, the Rusich Group, a subsidiary of Wagner, openly recruits neo-Nazis, fascists, and Duginists into its ranks.
A tangled web
What Ayman al-Zawahri’s death says about terrorism in Taliban-run Afghanistan
The big question remains whether the Taliban will be willing to provide meaningful, if highly secret and always publicly disavowed, counterterrorism intelligence to the United States and the West should an attack on Western assets or allies from Afghanistan become imminent.
(Brookings) The location of the Zawahri hit makes for terrible optics for the Taliban and exposes its hubris. Zawahri was killed in a comfortable neighborhood of Kabul, previously favored by officials of the fallen Afghan Republic and now replete with high-ranking Taliban members. He wouldn’t have lived there without some Taliban leaders’ knowledge. In fact, he was killed in a house belonging to a senior aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the acting Taliban minister of interior and leader of the powerful Haqqani faction of the Taliban. This exposes both the Taliban’s and Sirajuddin’s duplicity, and the strong, persistent affinity between al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Indeed, this affinity has helped al-Qaida retain its presence in Afghanistan since 2001. As late as 2015, al-Qaida operated large training camps in Afghanistan.
The departure of U.S. troops from Afghanistan was expected to provide various terrorist groups some safe havens in the country. This spring, a U.N. report assessed that al-Qaida has been able to operate in Afghanistan with a “greater freedom of operation”.
What Zawahiri’s Killing Means for al-Qaeda
Ayman al-Zawahiri leaves behind a robust network of strategically aligned but tactically independent al-Qaeda affiliates operating in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
(Council on Foreign Relations) Even though the al-Qaeda affiliates have had enormous independence, they have also adhered to the group’s ideology and conformed to Zawahiri’s strategy. That will continue.
Al-Qaeda has a succession plan, and Saif al-Adel, a long-standing senior al-Qaeda commander, is the most likely candidate to succeed Zawahiri. … Adel should be effective in holding the al-Qaeda universe together. After all, in a few days, al-Qaeda will celebrate its thirty-fourth anniversary. A terrorist group doesn’t survive three-plus decades being dependent on one leader only. The State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups now contains four times as many groups sharing al-Qaeda’s ideology than it did on 9/11. So, one way or another, the war bin Laden declared more than quarter a century ago will continue at some level.
Ayman al-Zawahiri and the Taliban
What does the stark evidence of the renewed relationship between Al Qaeda and Afghanistan’s leaders suggest?
By Steve Coll
(The New Yorker) With the death of Zawahiri, Al Qaeda must now identify its third emir. Resetting relations with the Taliban will be high on the new leader’s agenda. Zawahiri, during what proved to be the last months of his life, again emphasized the illegitimacy of the international system that Taliban leaders now seek to cultivate. After the Taliban’s restored government announced an envoy to the United Nations last November, he attacked the decision in a statement, advising that the U.N. was a “danger” to the global Muslim community, and that the U.N. charter—a founding document of the postwar order among governments—“patently contradicts Islamic law.”
It is on the basis of such millenarian radicalism that Al Qaeda has justified the deaths of thousands of innocents, including Muslims. Zawahiri is gone, but, as long as his ideas live on and bands of volunteers find haven in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, the threat of occasional shocks of mass violence will menace Afghans, their neighbors, and the world.
What Ayman al-Zawahiri’s killing means for al-Qaeda
(WaPo) The 71-year-old was largely considered the brains behind the notorious terrorist group and its vision for attacking the West — including the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which catapulted al-Qaeda from relative obscurity to a household name in the United States. … The strike is the latest successful U.S. operation against al-Qaeda and Islamic State leaders. Biden said Zawahiri’s death should help ensure Afghanistan can no longer “become a terrorist safe haven” and a “launching pad” for attacks against the United States.
Experts react: Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is dead. What’s next for US counterterrorism?
For answers about what this strike means for al-Qaeda, the US approach to counterterrorism, and Afghanistan’s future, we turned to experts across our network of Atlantic Council fellows and members of our Counterterrorism Study Group. This post will be updated with fresh analysis as this story develops and our expert reactions roll in.
Counterterrorism Study Group
Al Qaeda leader Zawahiri killed in U.S. drone strike in downtown Kabul
Zawahiri tracked to safe house in Kabul
Hit by Hellfire missile while standing on balcony
“This terrorist leader is no more” – Biden
Taliban “grossly violated” Doha Agreement – Blinken
How the CIA identified and killed Al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri
(Reuters) – Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. strike in Afghanistan over the weekend, the biggest blow to the militant group since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011. read more
Zawahiri had been in hiding for years and the operation to locate and kill him was the result of “careful patient and persistent” work by the counter-terrorism and intelligence community, a senior administration official told reporters.
Burkina Faso: dozens more bodies found after militant attack
Provisional death toll rises to 79 as search for victims is hampered by fears of booby traps
Burkina Faso says 29 more bodies have been found following a massacre by Islamic extremists, raising the provisional death toll to 79, and that the search for still more victims is being hampered by fears of booby-trapped devices planted “by terrorists to mine the site”.
The head of the country’s ruling junta, Lt Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, decreed three days of mourning on Tuesday after the weekend attack at the village of Seytenga in northern Burkina, which was one of the bloodiest massacres in a nearly seven-year-old insurgency.
The massacre is the second worst in the history of Burkina’s insurgency, which started in 2015 when jihadists launched cross-border raids from Mali.
Attacks mainly by groups affiliated with al-Qaida and Islamic State have since claimed thousands of lives, while nearly 2 million have fled their homes.
Pakistan’s ambivalent approach toward a resurgent Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan
(Brookings) Alongside the Taliban’s takeover of neighboring Afghanistan, 2021 in Pakistan was marked by a clear resurgence of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a terrorist group closely affiliated with the Afghan Taliban and responsible for killing tens of thousands of Pakistanis between 2007 and 2015. The Afghan Taliban’s rise to power — considered a “strategic win” for Pakistan and publicly welcomed by several politicians and officials — provided an unmistakable boost to the TTP. As the TTP has resurged, the Pakistani state has shifted its narratives and policies toward the group, while details on the TTP’s attacks have remained frustratingly opaque.
The TTP largely appears to have focused its recent attacks on security personnel in Pakistan’s western border regions (though it also targeted a polio vaccination team in December). This is in line with the change in the group’s manifesto in 2018, when it said it would focus its violence against Pakistani military and intelligence targets rather than civilians (the hallmark of its earlier attacks). In January, the group also claimed an attack on a police checkpoint in Islamabad.
Editor’s Note:This piece is part of a series titled “Nonstate armed actors and illicit economies in 2022” from Brookings’s Initiative on Nonstate Armed Actors.
Nonstate threats in the Taliban’s Afghanistan
Joshua T. White
While Afghanistan’s new Taliban leadership has been preoccupied with the near-term challenges of forming a government, managing internal tensions, and pursuing foreign recognition and funding to stave off an economic collapse, nonstate armed actors in Afghanistan have begun to assess the opportunities and limitations that come with a return to Taliban rule. For them, the new environment is likely to be favorable. These groups, including designated terrorist organizations, will find themselves less vulnerable to monitoring and targeting by the United States and its coalition partners; will be able to take advantage of a huge pool of experienced armed labor drawn from former Taliban, Afghan security forces, and other militant ranks; and will have increased space to forge new collaborations and plan operations in the region and further afield.
When Terrorists Govern
How the Taliban’s Takeover Is Inspiring Other Jihadis
(Foreign Affairs) …the Taliban’s victory did not happen overnight, and it did not come about because of the group’s military might alone. Rather, it was the result of a two-decade-long insurgency against the Afghan government and its Western supporters, chiefly the United States. This struggle for power largely played out on the battlefield but also included efforts to win political influence within Afghanistan’s provinces at the local level.
The Taliban’s victory did not go unnoticed by jihadi groups around the world, who looked on with a mix of admiration and envy. Al Qaeda and its affiliates celebrated the Taliban’s triumph, lauding their strategic patience and releasing statements in support of the so-called Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch hailed the Taliban’s strategy as a “realistic path” to success. Al Shabab (an al Qaeda affiliate in Somalia), al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, and the Sahel-based Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) all released similar messages of praise. No doubt these groups took careful notes about what it took for the Taliban to win in Afghanistan and how their local governance efforts helped them acquire political legitimacy. This gradualist approach could serve as a model for terrorist groups seeking enhanced influence in places all over the world—and it recalls, in some ways, the experience of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia that has become a major player in Lebanon’s political system and economy.
FBI director says Afghanistan withdrawal raises concern of terror groups rebuilding
“We are, of course, concerned that there will be an opportunity for a safe haven to be re-created there, which is something we’ve seen in the past,” Wray said in testimony to the House Homeland Security Committee.
The hearing was called to discuss security risks to the United States around the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, but most of the discussion centered around lawmakers’ questions about migrants at the southern border, cyberattacks or the rising threat posed by domestic terrorism. Other witnesses included Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Christine Abizaid, director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
Twenty Years After 9/11: The Terror Threat from Afghanistan Post the Taliban Takeover
The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point September 2021, Volume 14, Issue 7
Abstract: President Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan depended on a critical assessment of the terrorism landscape in Afghanistan. At the time of his decision, he argued that the terrorism threat from Afghanistan was both low and manageable for the foreseeable future. This article argues that the Biden administration’s assessment of the terrorism threat was flawed, and with the Taliban’s return to power, the threat is growing. Afghanistan’s dynamic terrorism landscape is dotted by the significant presence of al-Qa`ida and its local units, the Islamic State in Afghanistan, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Central Asian jihadis, anti-India jihadis, and anti-China jihadis. Part of this landscape benefits from the Taliban’s support to a number of groups in the country, as well as the ties of some of the groups with each other. The perception of the Afghan Taliban’s total takeover of the country amid a humiliating U.S. withdrawal is iconic for jihadis, and it is likely to substantially bolster their morale and strength. Contrary to claims of the Biden administration, U.S. counterterrorism capacity in the region is likely to remain weak for the foreseeable future. Twenty years after the 9/11 attacks, the terrorism threat from Afghanistan endures for the United States and the rest of the world.
What ISIS-K Means for Afghanistan
The hard-to-kill insurgency behind the bombing poses a huge challenge for the Taliban—and a puzzle for American efforts to keep the country stable.
Dr. Jonathan Schroden directs the Countering Threats and Challenges Program at the CNA Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and analysis organization based in Arlington, Virginia.
(Politico) The Taliban now claims to be the government of Afghanistan, so if the group wants to garner broad respect from Afghans and the international community going forward, it already has a huge challenge: protecting Afghans—and foreigners—from terrorist attacks on its watch. It can no longer just blame the U.S. for the nation’s ills. The bombing offered an instant preview of just how hard that will be.
… Its resilience stems from the high degree of its members’ motivation, its network of alliances with other jihadi groups that provide ISIS-K assistance and multiply its reach, its attraction to disaffected members of the Taliban and other militants (especially from Pakistan), and its ability to recruit individuals from outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, including from India
What Is the Islamic State Khorasan, a.k.a. ISIS-K?
Founded in 2015, the Afghan branch of the Islamic State counts both U.S. forces and the Taliban as its foes.
(NYT) The group, known as Islamic State Khorasan Province, ISIS-K or ISIS-KP, is an Afghan affiliate of the central ISIS group in the Middle East. ISIS-K, founded in 2015 by disaffected Pakistani Taliban, is smaller, newer and embraces a more violent version of Islam than the Taliban.
ISIS-K “disregards international borders,” according to a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “and envisions its territory transcending nation-states like Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Khorasan refers to a historical region that includes parts of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
ISIS-K has been mostly antagonistic toward the Taliban, and the two groups have fought for turf, particularly in eastern Afghanistan. Since 2017, experts say, ISIS-K has been responsible for roughly 250 clashes with the U.S., Afghan and Pakistani security forces.
More recently, ISIS-K leaders have denounced the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, saying that the group’s version of Islamic rule was insufficiently hard line.
Former US ambassador to Afghanistan: ‘The war is yet to come’
(The Hill) Crocker, during an interview on CNN’s “The Lead,” said the U.S. withdrawal has emboldened militants in a number of countries, adding that “what happens in Afghanistan doesn’t stay in Afghanistan.”
“The war is yet to come. This whole withdrawal announcement and process has been an enormous morale boost for Islamic radicals everywhere. Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Pakistani Taliban, you name it. They are on a roll, and they know it,” Crocker said.
…Crocker said there is already an “upsurge in radical Islamic activities,” adding…“I would watch Pakistan pretty closely and I would watch for signs of activism, more visible presence, statements, attacks, whatever from a number of countries that have problems with Islamic militants,” he said.
Nigeria’s school kidnapping crisis is even worse than you think
By Bulama Bukarti, senior analyst on sub-Saharan Africa at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, a senior nonresident associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a columnist at Daily Trust
(WaPo Opinion) …there are simply no words to convey Nigerians’ horror at the endless cycle of national grief. Our country has so far been spared the worst of the covid-19 pandemic, but extremist violence, communal clashes and rising criminality are producing an epidemic of insecurity.
The latest alarming trend is a wave of mass kidnappings of students, endangering millions of children’s futures. At the end of May, dozens of kidnappers on motorcycles stormed a school in north-central Nigeria and whisked away 136 children aged 5 to 14 and three teachers, after killing one person. Two mothers collapsed and died upon receiving the news. The kidnappers have demanded 200 million naira (almost $500,000) for their young victims’ lives.
Fareed Zakaria: Ten years later, Islamist terrorism isn’t the threat it used to be
(WaPo Opinion) This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the operation, code-named Neptune Spear, that killed Osama bin Laden. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the state of Islamist terrorism and radical Islam more generally. And the initial diagnosis is clear: The movement is in bad shape.
Total deaths caused by terrorism around the world have plummeted by 59 percent since their peak in 2014. In the West, the current threat is less from Islamist violence than far-right terrorism, which has surged by 250 percent in the same period, and now makes up 46 percent of attacks and 82 percent of deaths.
Most Islamist terrorism today tends to be local — the Taliban in Afghanistan, Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabab in the Horn of Africa. That’s a major reversal from the glory days of al-Qaeda, when its leaders insisted that the focus must be not on the “near enemy” (the local regimes) but rather the “far enemy” (the United States and the West more broadly). Al-Qaeda has disintegrated into a bunch of militias in disparate places with no central command or ideology. The Islamic State is doing slightly better, with more funds, but it, too, searches for unstable or ungoverned places, such as Mozambique, where it can operate. This focus on local conflicts erodes any global appeal. Muslims around the world do not identify with local causes in Mozambique or Somalia.
Southern African leaders postpone meeting on Mozambique insurgency
(Reuters) The meeting was to receive a report from a team sent to Mozambique to assess the security situation and identify ways to support the country after IS-linked insurgents attacked the coastal town of Palma, displacing tens of thousands of people and stalling a $60 billion natural gas project. read more
The Taliban Think They Have Already Won, Peace Deal or Not
“We have defeated the enemy.” The international community is scrambling to secure peace in Afghanistan, but the Taliban believe they have the upper hand — and are saying as much.
Why Experts Ignore Terrorism in Africa
If the world really cares about the continent’s future, it will start paying attention now.
By Emily Estelle, research fellow, American Enterprise Institute.
(Foreign Policy) The foreign-policy community has spilled gallons of ink trying to convince itself and others that its concerns for Africa are real. The cause has even driven all-too-rare bipartisanship in the United States, with Republicans and Democrats coming together on a series of public health and economic development initiatives in recent years. So why is the response to the Mozambique crisis and other similar attacks so limited? Because all the major constituencies focused on the continent have a blind spot when it comes to the violent extremist insurgents who are preying on millions of Africans.
The Salafi-jihadi movement, which includes al Qaeda and the Islamic State, has notched success after success in sub-Saharan Africa in recent years. Salafi-jihadi groups are now active in 22 African countries and counting. Long-running insurgencies have expanded; for example, Mali-based extremists spread into previously stable Burkina Faso in 2016 and have escalated since, displacing more than a million people and turning the country into a launchpad for attacks on neighboring states. Persistent jihadi violence set the stage for a recent rash of kidnappings targeting schoolchildren in Nigeria, Africa’s largest country by population and economy. According to estimates by the United Nations, the Islamic State in Mozambique will displace a million people by June. It just derailed a multibillion-dollar natural gas project that was meant to be Mozambique’s ticket to prosperity.
Brahma Chellaney: Global Terror and the Taliban’s Return
Far from offering America a face-saving exit from a 20-year war, a complete US military withdrawal from Afghanistan will make it an accomplice of the Taliban. And a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan will cause lasting damage to the interests of the United States and its friends.
(Project Syndicate) One of the most crucial early tests for US President Joe Biden concerns Afghanistan. An emboldened Taliban have escalated their campaign of assassinations and terrorist attacks since reaching a deal with Donald Trump’s administration that called for power sharing in Kabul and a full US military withdrawal by May 1. Biden’s policy course will not only determine Afghanistan’s fate, but will also affect regional security, the global war on terror, and America’s international standing at a time when its relative decline has become unmistakable.The United States came full circle in February 2020, when Trump, seeking to cut and run from Afghanistan, signed a “peace” agreement with the same terrorist militia that the US had removed from power by invading the country in the aftermath of the attacks on September 11, 2001. Trump’s Faustian bargain, struck behind the back of the elected Afghan government, bestowed legitimacy on the Taliban. The surge in terrorist violence since then shows how little Afghanistan gained from the US-Taliban deal
Why the Khalistan Separatist Movement Is Neither Sikh Nor Liberal
The Khalistan movement not only adheres to the bigotry, extremism, patriarchy, and violence prevalent among the Jihadi terrorist groups but also has close ties with them in operational and strategic matters.
In 2007, Khalistan leader Gurpatwant Singh started the “Sikhs For Justice” (SFJ) forum to conduct “Referendum 2020“ (a referendum among the global Sikh community by 2020 to decide upon the separate homeland). In mainland Punjab, since 2015, its terror activities are seeing a revival. After the removal of Kashmir’s special status, Pakistan has intensified its activities to link Khalistan terrorism with Kashmir-centric terror groups especially, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group responsible for the 2019 Pulwama attack, leading to the death of forty Indian soldiers and bringing India and Pakistan to the verge of war.
… This piece intends to debunk two powerful myths associated with Khalistan 2.0, giving it a degree of legitimacy among the religious Sikhs and the secular civil rights activists. The first myth is that the movement is rooted in Sikhism, fighting for its followers who are facing an existential threat from Hindu nationalism. The second myth is that the movement has firm faith in liberal values.
Mozambique insurgency: Children beheaded, aid agency reports
(BBC) A leading aid agency says that children as young as 11 are being beheaded in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province.
One mother told Save the Children she had to watch her 12-year-old son killed in this way close to where she was hiding with her other children.
More than 2,500 people have been killed and 700,000 have fled their homes since the insurgency began in 2017.
Militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group are behind a conflict in the province.
Attack on Kabul University by Isis gunmen leaves 22 dead
Afghan government declares day of mourning after incident in which attackers shot dead
(The Guardian) On Monday evening, Isis took responsibility for the attack, claiming it had targeted a “graduation gathering for judges and investigators of the apostate Afghan government”. It named two men as responsible.
At least 22 people were killed and 22 wounded after Islamic State-affiliated gunmen stormed Kabul University as it was hosting a book fair attended by Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan, taking hostages and fighting gun battles with security forces for more than five hours.
… Violence has been relentless in Afghanistan, even as the Taliban and a government-appointed negotiating team discuss the peace agreement to end more than four decades of war in the country. Progress in the talks in Doha has been painfully slow and despite repeated demands for a reduction in violence, it has continued unabated.
European Union Terrorism Situation and Trend report (TE-SAT) 2020
(Europol) Terrorists’ ultimate goal is to undermine our societies and our democratic political systems. Terrorism generates fear, empowers political extremes and polarises societies. Europol’s EU Terrorism Situation and Trend report (TE-SAT), pulls together facts and figures on terrorist attacks and arrests in the EU in 2019:
A total of 119 foiled, failed and completed terrorist attacks were reported by a total of 13 EU Member States;
1 004 individuals were arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offences in 19 EU Member States, with Belgium, France, Italy, Spain and the UK reporting the highest numbers;
Ten people died because of terrorist attacks in the EU and 27 people were injured.
The New Face of Terrorism in 2019
Forget the Middle East—it’s time to prepare for attacks from the former Soviet Union.
By Vera Mironova
(Foreign Policy) The threat posed by Middle Eastern terrorists has been shrinking for some time. Even during the war against the Islamic State, Russian speakers from former Soviet countries were already committing many of the major attacks in the West. Those included relatively simple lone-wolf events, such as the 2017 truck strikes on pedestrians in New York and Stockholm—both conducted by Uzbeks—but also more complicated operations, such as the 2016 suicide bombing of Istanbul’s airport—which was allegedly organized by a Russian national—and the 2017 attack on a nightclub in the same city, led by an Uzbek.
With the fall of the Islamic State, Russian-speaking terrorists were mostly able to flee Iraq and Syria with more ease than Middle Eastern foreign fighters and are now back in hiding in the former Soviet sphere or in Europe. Having escaped the reach of the U.S. military, they may find it easier to bring their plots to fruition. Local sympathies will help. Government neglect and outright repression have made religious Muslims in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan attractive targets for radicals looking for new recruits. Several popular sheikhs from the Middle East, including the Saudi cleric Abdulaziz al-Tarefe, now have significant Russian- and Arabic-language followings on social media.(1 January 2019)
Enemies of liberty? Nationalism, immigration, and the framing of terrorism in the agenda of the Front National
Rachel D Hutchins and Daphne Halikiopoulou
This paper systematises the framing of the terrorism issue in the programmatic agenda of the Front national (FN) by focusing on nationalism. We argue that the FN’s position on terrorism constitutes part of its strategy to justify its anti‐immigrant agenda by offering ideological rather than biological rationalisations for national belonging. To test our argument empirically, we operationalise four categories of nationalism, including ethno‐racial, cultural, political‐civic, and economic, and code official FN materials published in reaction to seven terrorist attacks on French soil during the period 1986–2015.
Battling terrorism needs a collective approach in South Asia
This profile of the main actors rekindles an old debate: why do seemingly well educated young – in this case South Asian citizens – often equipped with promising technical and engineering backgrounds take the Islamic terror path? This pattern has been evidenced in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives over the last decade and Sri Lanka which was considered to be the exception, has alas, joined the list, writes C Uday Bhaskar for South Asia Monitor
Picture emerges of well-to-do young bombers behind Sri Lankan carnage
(Reuters) – Details began to emerge in Sri Lanka on Wednesday of a band of nine, well-educated Islamist suicide bombers, including a woman, from well-to-do families who slaughtered 359 people in Easter Sunday bomb attacks. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks on three churches and four hotels. If that connection is confirmed, the attacks looks likely to be the deadliest ever linked to the group. Both the Sri Lankan government and the United States said the scale and sophistication of the coordinated bombings suggested the involvement of an external group such as Islamic State.
It has also exposed a significant Sri Lankan intelligence failure, with warnings of strikes not acted on and feuds at the highest levels of government.
Lakshman Kiriella, the leader of parliament, said senior officials had deliberately withheld intelligence about possible attacks.He said information about possible attacks was received from Indian intelligence on April 4 and a Security Council meeting was chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena three days later, but it was not shared more widely.
Sri Lanka’s Perfect Storm of Failure
The bombings represent an intelligence failure of massive proportion. But a failure this big is not just confined to Sri Lanka. Jihadi terrorism is a global threat. When the networks are international, attacks in one country demand concerted action to prevent such mistakes from happening again.
(Foreign Policy) There were many chances to stop the Easter Sunday attacks. The government missed them all.
Although more evidence will emerge over time, the information trickling out paints a damning picture. The attacks were preventable, but compound failures let them happen. Sri Lankan authorities failed to anticipate the threat from Islamist groups with potential international networks, ignored warning signs, and failed to share information among themselves.
Why did no one act on these advance warnings? Probably because the Sri Lankan government remains bitterly divided, with the president and prime minister at war with each other.
Sri Lanka is still feeling the reverberations of the constitutional crisis last year, where the president (and defense minister), Maithripala Sirisena, attempted to remove Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe from office and replace him with the authoritarian former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Although this political coup failed, the division between president and prime minister continues, and control of the security services has been a key potential battleground. In an environment where information has become a political tool, and where Sirisena has taken the defense and police ministries under his own control and excluded the prime minister from the national security council, it’s hardly surprising that lower-level officials were reluctant to take action unilaterally.
Sri Lanka Bombings Live Updates: ‘It Was a River of Blood’
As Christians in Sri Lanka gathered on Sunday morning to celebrate Easter Mass, the culmination of Holy Week, powerful explosions ripped through three churches packed with worshipers, leaving hundreds of victims amid a havoc of splintered and blood-spattered pews.
In what the police said were coordinated terrorist attacks carried out by a single group, bombers also struck three hotels popular with tourists. At least 207 people were killed and 450 others injured, a police spokesman, Ruwan Gunasekera, said.
Ruwan Wijewardene, the defense minister, said that seven people had been arrested and identified in connection with the attacks. The government also said that suicide bombers had set off the explosions.
“We believe these were coordinated attacks, and one group was behind them,” Mr. Wijewardene said. He urged the news media not to report the names of the attackers or to make them “martyrs.”
World leaders including Pope Francis, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama offered their support after Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka claimed hundreds of lives
Its Territory May Be Gone, but the U.S. Fight Against ISIS Is Far From Over
By Eric Schmitt, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Helene Cooper and Alissa J. Rubin
(NYT) The fight to expel the Islamic State from its last shard of territory in Syria may be over. But the United States and its partners still face significant battles against the terrorist group, its affiliates and other networks that are less formally aligned with it elsewhere, in Afghanistan, West Africa and the Philippines.
Even before an American-backed Kurdish and Arab militia ousted the last extremist fighters from the eastern Syrian village of Baghuz on Saturday, the Islamic State had shifted gears. The organization that once staked out a self-proclaimed caliphate across Iraq and Syria has now metastasized into a more traditional terrorist group — an atomized, clandestine network of cells engaged in guerrilla attacks, bombings and targeted assassinations.
Thousands of American troops are helping the Afghan Army and security forces combat the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Armed American drones are hunting Islamic State cells in Libya. And American forces are advising and providing intelligence to local troops fighting the Islamic State in Burkina Faso and in the Philippines.
Thousands of Islamic State fighters are also still at large in Iraq and Syria, biding their time to rearm and regroup to strike the same regions again. Many of them slipped out or surrendered when the final wave of civilians fled Baghuz, American commanders and intelligence analysts said.
John Cassidy: It’s Time to Confront the Threat of Right-Wing Terrorism
Around the world, we are being confronted with the rise of a murderous and hateful ideology that targets minorities, glorifies violence, and thrives on modern communications technology. The response needs to be commensurate with the threat, which is spreading ominously, and to the most unlikely of places. Even bucolic New Zealand, a place where Silicon Valley billionaires are buying personal retreats in case it all comes down closer to home, couldn’t escape the plague.
(The New Yorker) “Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995,” the Anti-Defamation League noted in January. Even the Trump Administration’s own report, “National Strategy for Counterterrorism,” which was published last year, acknowledged that “domestic terrorism in the United States is on the rise,” and it cited “racially motivated extremism” as one of the causes. Another factor, undoubtedly, is the role that social media plays in cultivating the growth and amplifying the impact of extremist groups.
New Zealand attack exposes how little the U.S. and its allies share intelligence on domestic terrorism threats
(WaPost) The United States and its closest allies have spent nearly two decades building an elaborate system to share intelligence about international terrorist groups, and it has become a key pillar of a global effort to thwart attacks. But there’s no comparable arrangement for sharing intelligence about domestic terrorist organizations, including right-wing extremists like the one suspected in the killing of 50 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, according to current and former national security officials and counterterrorism experts.
Another chance for Nigeria to get counter-terrorism right
After the presidential election, the new administration must learn from past mistakes in countering extremism.
By Akinola Olojo
(ISS) Nigerians will vote for a president on 16 February. Much is anticipated regarding the new leader’s strategy to end the deadly Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s north-east. Whoever is elected cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of previous administrations or ignore lessons learnt since the Boko Haram crisis began 10 years ago.
The new leadership must recognise the distinct threats posed by Boko Haram’s two factions. This is critical for strategic and operational responses. It must also address human rights concerns relating to trials for terrorism-related offences.
A closer look at the setbacks and criticisms facing the military is crucial, as is deeper engagement of the private sector in counter-terrorism. The new leadership must realise the potential role that dialogue can play in complementing the use of force.
How Global Is The Global War On Terrorism? For The U.S., Very Global.
In the wake of the September 11th attacks, President George W. Bush launched The Global War on Terrorism to bolster U.S. military defense across the globe — starting in Afghanistan.
Nearly two decades later, the counter-terrorism initiative has taken American military forces to 80 countries on six continents. The U.S. and the Taliban are edging toward Afghan peace negotiations, but what about our involvement elsewhere?
Taliban kills Afghan forces as it resumes truce talks with U.S.
The attack began after a vehicle loaded with explosives rammed into the entrance of a compound in Maidan Shahr — the capital of Wardak province that lies about 30 miles south of the capital Kabul.
At least three gunmen stormed the base following the explosion, igniting a firefight with Afghan security forces. All three gunmen were later killed in the exchange, according to a provincial official. … The attack came a day after a Taliban suicide bomber targeted the convoy of Logar province’s governor, killing at least seven security guards
At least 21 killed as Kenya hotel siege is declared over
(CNN) Men armed with guns and explosives burst into a hotel complex in Nairobi, killing at least 21 people in an attack that lasted hours and ended Wednesday morning.
Sixteen Kenyans, one Briton, one American and three unidentified people of African origin are among the dead, he said. Twenty-eight others have been hospitalized.
Al-Shabaab claims responsibility
Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was a response to US President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, according to a statement circulated Wednesday.
Our Lawsuit Against the Trump Administration Revealed How It Lies About Terrorism
By Faiza Patel and Raya Koreh
The President has repeatedly used faulty data to invent national security justifications for flawed policy, including the Muslim Ban … But presidents, with all their power, can’t just make up facts. That’s why last year, the Brennan Center, Protect Democracy and other groups filed a joint petition under the Information Quality Act, which requires all federal agencies to adhere to certain standards of “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity” when providing information to the public.
We argued that the report artificially inflated the threat of foreign-born terrorism, in part by excluding all instances of domestic terrorism from its analysis. The report also cherry-picked eight unrepresentative cases of Muslim men as “illustrative examples” of the 402 foreign-born individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges.
To support the President’s demand for a border wall, his administration has misrepresented the threat of terrorists crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Both Vice President Mike Pence and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have suggested that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stopped nearly 4,000 terrorists at the border last year. In fact, CBP reported just six “known or suspected terrorists” encountered at the border, while 3,755 were stopped at all ports of entry, mainly airports.