A UN peacekeeper was killed and eight others injured on Monday in an attack on their camp in northeastern Mali near the Algerian border, the United Nations said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the four coordinated assaults targeting the UN mission known as MINUSMA and said that attacks on peacekeepers are war crimes.
A peacekeeper from Chad was killed in the attacks at the Aguelhok camp in the region of Kidal, said a statement from Ban’s spokesman.
Following a spate of mortar rounds fired at the Aguelhok camp, two military vehicles were dispatched and hit an explosive device “that led to the death of a blue helmet,” MINUSMA said.
Northern Mali fell into the hands of jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda in early 2012.
France intervened in January 2013 to drive the Islamist fighters away from the north and the UN mission was deployed a few months later, but large tracts of Mali are still not controlled by domestic or UN troops.
Analysts say tribal rivalries have led to a deterioration of the security situation in the north.
Ban expressed concern over ceasefire violations by the armed groups that signed a peace deal for Mali last year.
A UN soldier was killed and four others were injured on August 7 when their vehicle struck an explosive device in Mali’s northeastern Kidal region. The dead soldier and the injured were from Chad.
A total of 32 peacekeepers from MINUSMA have been killed so far this year, according to the UN peacekeeping website.
The Islamic State hasn’t had much success in recruiting militants among the vast Muslim populations in Southeast Asia. But what happens when the caliphate’s capitals in Syria and Iraq are destroyed, and hundreds of foreign fighters from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines try to go home?
Experts here in Australia see the counterterrorism challenge as a regional problem, rather than simply an affliction of the Middle East and North Africa. They fear that a potentially dangerous new phase may lie ahead, as the jihadists look for new sanctuaries.
Governments in Southeast Asia have been working quietly with the United States, some for more than a decade, to monitor and try to disrupt radical Islamist groups, and they’ve had considerable success. The United States helped train an Indonesian police unit known as Detachment 88, which has largely destroyed Jemaah Islamiah, the al-Qaeda affiliate responsible for the 2002 Bali bombing that killed more than 200 people.
But the prisons, slums and youth gangs of Southeast Asia provide an ecosystem where terrorism could fester anew, experts say. Islamic State operatives in Syria have tried to reach out to these potential jihadists, as in the bombing in January in Jakarta that killed eight people, for which the Islamic State claimed credit.
Most Southeast Asian Muslims reject such violence, but to plot mass-casualty attacks, it takes only a tiny fringe. “We have more activity among jihadi groups than at any time in the last 10 years,” said Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, in a speech in April in Australia.
The would-be catalysts for violence are the jihadists who traveled from Southeast Asia to Syria and Iraq. Experts estimate that this foreign-fighter network includes as many as 500 to 600 Indonesians, 110 Australians, about 100 Malaysians and a small number of Filipinos. This Southeast Asian contingent is far larger than the number who traveled to Afghanistan to join al-Qaeda before Sept. 11, 2001. And in Iraq and Syria, the volunteers have fought and killed.
“We haven’t yet seen the worst” in Southeast Asia, said Aaron Connelly, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute, a foreign policy think tank in Sydney that arranged my visit to Australia.
Islamic State fighters from Southeast Asia proposed a Philippines caliphate in a video that was released in June. This region could be a haven for jihadists; a Muslim revolt against the Catholic-dominated government has been simmering there for a century.
“Kill the disbelievers where you find them and do not have mercy on them,” Abu Abdul Rahman al-Filipini urged in the video, which was recorded in Raqqa and translated by SITE Intelligence Group .
In Malaysia, the army has been a worrying source of recruits. The country’s defense minister told parliament last year that at least 70 former members of the military volunteered for the Islamic State. Malaysian authorities long wary of Western help have been working closely with the United States and Australia since last year to contain such jihadist activities.
In Indonesia, police have campaigned aggressively against jihadists, killing or imprisoning many leaders. But as in Iraq and Syria, the prisons have been a breeding ground for extremism. Based on her research in Jakarta, Jones argued in a recent study: “The prison system — where plots are hatched, travel arranged and [Islamic State] supporters recruited — needs urgent attention.” Experts worry that as many as 200 former jihadists are due to be released from Indonesian prisons soon.
For nearly 15 years, the United States has been quietly funding counterterrorism efforts in Southeast Asia. A study published last year by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point noted that the United States had provided $441 million in security assistance to the Philippines, mostly for its military, and $262 million to Indonesia, mostly for its police. Police efforts appear to be a better bet: Terrorist attacks increased in the Philippines by 13-fold between 2002 and 2013; attacks declined 26 percent over that period in Indonesia.
The Islamic State may lose its caliphate in Syria and Iraq. But there could be a boomerang effect — a bigger jihadist threat in countries to which the fleeing fighters return.
The suicide attacker who detonated his explosives amid an outdoor Kurdish wedding party in southeastern Turkey, killing at least 51 people, was an Islamic State group child as young as 12 years old. The extremist group has a history of using children as weapons, sending them to their death strapped with explosives and putting them on front lines in Iraq and Syria.
The group maintains an army of child soldiers, which it calls “cubs of the caliphate,” and seeks to re-educate children at IS-run schools, indoctrinating them with their own radical version of Islam and exposing them to violent acts including beheadings as part of a concerted effort to build a new generation of militants. IS videos have shown boys killing IS opponents through beheadings and shootings.
But the practice is not restricted to the Islamic State group and has been used by other militant groups. Here’s a look at some:
ISLAMIC STATE GROUP (ISIS)
The group has deployed child suicide bombers to stage attacks in both Iraq and Syria. Among the most deadly attacks was a bombing at a youth soccer game at a stadium south of Baghdad on March 25, 2016. A bomber — believed be a teenager — detonated his explosives as officials were handing out trophies to players after the tournament, killing 29 and wounding 60. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility and released a photo of the attacker where he appears to be no more than 16 years old. Nearly half of those killed were also children, participating in the soccer game or cheering from the stands. The U.N.’s children’s agency, UNICEF, said in a recent report that thousands of children have been abducted in Iraq. Girls, the group says, are at greatest risk of being sold into sexual slavery while boys are often forced into becoming combatants or suicide bombers.
Human Rights groups and UNICEF report a dramatic increase in Boko Haram’s use of children as suicide bombers. In a report earlier this year, UNICEF said one in five suicide attacks claimed by the militant group across Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad are now carried out by children. In Nigeria, Human Rights Watch said that since Boko Haram began its attacks in 2009 it has recruited hundred, and possibly thousands, of youngsters and used dozens, mostly girls, as suicide bombers.
The global terrorist network has a history of recruiting children and training them to be suicide bombers.
The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, used teenagers as suicide bombers to fight the American occupation in Iraq before he was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006. Al-Qaida in Iraq eventually developed into the modern day Islamic State group.
RADICAL PALESTINIAN GROUPS
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other militant groups run summer camps that seek to indoctrinate Palestinian children with violent anti-Israel ideologies. These groups have not sent young children on suicide missions, though during the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s, several Palestinians as young as 16 carried out suicide bombings.
During a current wave of violence, dozens of Palestinian teenagers have carried out or been accused of carrying out stabbing attacks on Israelis, with the youngest perpetrator just 11 years old. The attackers are believed to have acted individually and were not sent by organized groups.
In Yemen, home to one of the world’s most heavily armed civilian populations, boys often learn how to handle weapons from an early age. In the country’s current conflict, irregular forces from both the pro-government and rebel sides have incorporated teenagers into their ranks.
Donald Trump’s declaration last week at a campaign rally that President Obama and Hillary Clinton “founded” ISIS drew outrage from establishment media, and the Republican nominee now insists he was being sarcastic, but a Defense Intelligence Agency document declassified last year shows the Obama administration was warned in 2012 that if it continued its policies, a radical Islamic regime could form in Eastern Syria.
Hillary Clinton was secretary of state at the time under President Obama.
The report said “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria, and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”
The “supporting powers” are identified as “the West, Gulf countries, and Turkey.”
Jatras, as Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch blog reported, summarized the report saying that if the U.S. and its proxies kept aiding al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood and other “rebel” groups fighting the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a jihadist state would arise in the country.
Several months later, ISIS declared itself a state straddling the Syria-Iraq border.
Report ‘made no difference’
Jatras pointed out that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, currently a Trump adviser, took over as head of DIA a month before the report was issued.
“Whether it was his personal effort to caution the administration or simply the professional analysts in the DIA apparatus laying out the facts as they saw them, the 2012 report made no difference,” Jatras writes.
“On the contrary, the emergence of an al-Qaeda affiliated ‘Salafist Principality’ as a result is described as a strategic opportunity to isolate Assad.”
Ahmed noted that at the time, media reports focused on the report’s evidence that the Obama administration knew of arms supplies from a Libyan terrorist stronghold to rebels in Syria.
He wrote that the DIA document “confirms that the main component of the anti-Assad rebel forces by this time comprised Islamist insurgents affiliated to groups that would lead to the emergence of ISIS.”
“Despite this, these groups were to continue receiving support from Western militaries and their regional allies,” he wrote.
Ahmed said the Pentagon document explicitly forecasted the declaration of “an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria.”
Nevertheless, “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey are supporting these efforts” by Syrian “opposition forces” fighting to “control the eastern areas (Hasaka and Der Zor), adjacent to Western Iraqi provinces (Mosul and Anbar).”
Ahmed said that in response to his questions about the strategy, the British government “simply denied the Pentagon report’s startling revelations of deliberate Western sponsorship of violent extremists in Syria.”
A British Foreign Office spokesman told him:
AQ (Al-Qaida) and ISIL (ISIS) are proscribed terrorist organizations. The UK opposes all forms of terrorism. AQ, ISIL, and their affiliates pose a direct threat to the UK’s national security. We are part of a military and political coalition to defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria, and are working with international partners to counter the threat from AQ and other terrorist groups in that region. In Syria we have always supported those moderate opposition groups who oppose the tyranny of Assad and the brutality of the extremists.
Ahmed said the DIA did not respond to his request for comment.
Al Qaeda is calling on terrorist affiliates to detonate car bombs in major U.S. cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, in the latest edition of its Inspire magazine.
Here is an example of the content:
The magazine’s Spring 2014 issue urges jihadists to target heavily populated events such as political rallies and sporting events, both in the United States and abroad — including in Great Britain, France and other “crusading” countries.
“Choosing the place and time is a crucial factor to success in any operation,” the magazine reads. “Choose targets in your own country. You know the enemy better, you are within … The important thing is that you target people and not buildings.”
Would-be bombers also are urged to consider launching attacks during “election seasons” and between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Specific targets are also cited, including Chicago’s “Sears Tower” (now called the Willis Tower), and military bases in northern Virginia.
The piece also lists specific locations and times to attack European sites in England and France. These include the Bastille Military Day Parade on July 14 in Paris and soccer (football) stadiums during Premier League FA Cup Matches in the UK “when huge crowds leave the stadium and celebrate around the entrances and FA Cup matches.”
The issue also contains extremely detailed, “absolutely simple” instructions on how to build such a bomb and how to get away with planting them by using disguises that fit in, ie as a football supporter to bomb premier league games in the UK. Santa hats etc to make bombing cities during the holiday season.
“Disguise yourself during the operation, appear fat (add some clothes on you), change your complexion, be a ‘clone’, use any mask (believe me embarrassment is the last thing you will think about), wear a mask suitable for the festival, white beards on 25th Dec,” it reads. “All in all, be creative brother.”
“My Muslim brother, before you start reading the instructions, remember that this type of operation, if prepared well and an appropriate target is chosen, and Allah decrees success for you, history will never forget it,” the magazine reads. “It will be recorded as a crushing defeat on the enemies of Islam.”
The piece includes interviews with islamist and Al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011, and Samir Khan, who was killed in the same air strike. Khan served as editor and publisher of Inspire up to that point. A photo of New York City is shown at the end of the piece.
The terrorist organization’s magazine has a letter from the editor that states:
Whenever Al-Qaeda is mentioned, the American citizens’ mind thinks of vest and car bombs.
Bearing in mind that none of these weapons has struck them post 9/11. So why would they relate Al-Qaeda to these bombs? Simply because they fear these weapons and have seen enough of their destructive power in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Many Feisal Shahzads are residing inside America, and all they need is the knowledge of how to make car bombs. They are all yearning to fulfill their duty of Jihad.
The American government was unable to protect its citizens from pressure cooker bombs in backpacks, I wonder if they are ready to stop car bombs!
Therefore, as our responsibility to the Muslim Ummah in general and Muslims living in America in particular, Inspire Magazine humbly presents to you a simple improvised home recipe of Shahzad’s car bomb.
And the good news is … you can prepare it in the kitchen of your mom too.
There are pages and pages dedicated to the ”Glorious Boston Bombings”. Here is an excerpt from this vile publication:
“America is our first target, followed by United Kingdom, France and other Crusader countries.”
“As for the field target for the car-bomb, you have places flooded with individuals, e.g. sports events in which tens of thousands attend, election campaigns, festivals and other gathering [sic]. The important thing is that you target people and not buildings.”
The final word is from the author of Inspire:
“Inspire Magazine’s goal is to empower Muslim youth, and what is empowerment without being strong, powerful, and intelligent? In this section, we give you strength, power and intelligence. Believe me, using car bombs gives you all that.”
In a story from the Investors Business Daily, we learn there’s more than a “smidgen of corruption” at the IRS — there just may be treason.
Mohammad Weiss Rasool, who was busted by the FBI several years ago for spying on behalf of al-Qaida, reportedly now works for the deputy IRS chief financial officer as a financial management analyst, drawing a lucrative salary at taxpayer expense.
The Internal Revenue Service, already facing accusations that its workers improperly snooped through tax files, has hired a former police officer convicted just a few years ago of illegally accessing FBI records and providing information to a subject of a counterterrorism investigation involving an infamous al Qaeda figure.
Mohammad Weiss Rasool, or Weiss Russell as he is known at the IRS, was sentenced to two years of probation in 2008 after pleading guilty in federal court to illegally accessing the FBI’s National Crime Information Center database to run license tag numbers for a friend he thought was being followed. That friend, it turned out, was the subject of an undercover FBI operation and a close associate of the al Qaeda-linked cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the American Islamist militant who preached to three of the 9/11 hijackers and inspired the Fort Hood shootings, according to court records and interviews.
Government watchdogs told The Washington Times that Mr. Rasool’s hiring by the IRS raises red flags about the quality of the federal government’s background checks and is alarming given his previous admission that he misused a police database.
At the IRS, Mr. Rasool serves as a financial management analyst — three rungs away from the highest-level career position — working audit-related issues and matters. He was hired by the IRS after he served his probationary period.
So now, a Muslim man convicted of abusing sensitive government data has access to the sensitive financial data of millions of Americans at an agency known for abusing such information. Sounds like a perfect fit actually.
The reporters and “watchdog groups” are treating this problem as if it is only about whether or not the IRS can do sufficient background checks. But maybe they wanted this man becauseof his background. After all, the IRS has given private information to third parties before.
In February, the Obama administration loosened immigration restrictions on individuals who had provided material support to terrorist activity.
Per Investors Business Daily,
In the early 2000s, Rasool immigrated to the U.S. from Afghanistan and took a job as a cop with the Fairfax County Police Department outside Washington. He worked his way up to sergeant before authorities realized they had an al-Qaida spy in their ranks.
According to a Justice Department complaint filed in 2008, Rasool searched a national criminal database containing names of terrorist suspects and confirmed that FBI agents were tailing a Muslim pal from his mosque. When agents went to arrest the target early one morning, they found him and his family already dressed and destroying evidence. They knew they had a mole, and worked back through the system to find Rasool.
According to reports, Rasool at first claimed he didn’t know the terrorist target. He confessed only after hearing a recording of his message for the suspect, Abdullah Alnoshan, a close associate of al-Qaida cleric Anwar Awlaki, who had helped some of the 9/11 hijackers in Fairfax County, Va. Rasool finally pleaded guilty to illegally searching a federal database.
To have this individual now working in the IRS with such sensitive access is disturbing. Mr. Rasool, who is still at the IRS and goes by the name “Weiss Russell,” is a felon who should have been deported after completing his sentence.
What can possibly be the motivation and intent of eliminating the law barring entry into America for those who have offered support to terrorism, regardless of degree or circumstance? I will leave it up to you to determine the answer – but it’s just another aspect of the “fundamental transformation” of America.
Turkey has become a principal financial hub for terrorists under the leadership of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose government has helped Iran skirt sanctions, supported jihadi groups in Syria, and provided financial backing to Hamas, according to a new report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).
Turkey, a key U.S. ally, “has turned a blind eye” to terror financing and is potentially on the verge of crossing the line to becoming an official state sponsor of terrorism, according to the Friday report, which cites the Erdogan government’s close ties to some of the world’s top terror organizations and operatives.
The report comes just a day after 84 U.S. lawmakers and former government officials urged President Barack Obama to confront Erdogan over his harsh repression of political opponents.
As Turkey’s support for terrorism expands, the Obama administration has remained silent out of fear of offending Erdogan, whom the White House considers a strategic asset, according to the report authored by FDD’s Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Treasury Department.
The Obama administration “has remained on the sidelines, expressing relatively mild concern about the crackdowns on law enforcement officials and the jailing of journalists, while electing not to mention terrorism finance issues publicly,” the report states.
“Washington’s silence stems from fears of a fall-out with Turkey, which has been a crucial ally over the years, and is situated strategically at the intersection of Europe and the Middle East,” according to the report. “But Turkey’s actions constitute a direct challenge to Washington’s sanctions regime.”
The report catalogues in detail Turkey’s cozy relationship with jihadi groups, terrorist operatives, and the Iranian regime.
Last year, “Turkey was involved in a massive sanctions-busting scheme with Tehran,” according to the report. “Now known as ‘gas-for-gold,’ the scheme helped the Iranian regime gain some $13 billion” despite international sanctions meant to stop such deals.
Additionally, over 2,000 Iranian companies are reportedly registered in Turkey, where pro-Erdogan political elites have been accused of facilitating large cash transfers with Tehran.
Turkey’s top intelligence agency is also believed to be working with Iran in a bid to “scuttle intelligence operations” aimed at stopping Iran’s nuke program, according to the report.
Erdogan has also gone to great lengths to bolster extremist rebel groups in Syria, according to the report, which cites “mounting evidence suggests that Turkey has been directly or indirectly arming, training, and even financing Sunni jihadi groups” in the country.
Turkey reportedly sent 47 tons of weapons to Syrian rebels during a six-month period in 2013, according to the report.
There are “few questions that it has been Turkish policy to provide support to a range of rebel factions,” the report states. “Turkey now appears to allow a broad spectrum of anti-Assad forces, including those with radical ideologies, to operate on Turkish territory.”
“Jihadi personnel and finances” have been identified as flowing from Turkey to Syria.
Israeli military officials have additionally claimed that “Syrian al Qaeda groups were training in three separate bases in the Turkish provinces.”
Erdogan has also been exposed for having a close friendship with Yasin al-Qadi, a Saudi Arabian businessman who has faced sanctions for his financial ties to al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and other terrorist fronts.
Hamas has become another ally of the Erdogan government, which has held meetings with the terror group’s senior leadership and allows one of its key operative to work in Turkey.
Senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Aruri has been living in Turkey, “where he has been allegedly involved in the financing and logistics of Hamas operations,” according to the report, which states that “al-Aruri may be raising funds on Turkish soil that go to support terrorism.”
This coincides with “broader Turkish support” for Hamas, including political cover and financial backing.
Turkey has even inked a $4 billion deal with a Chinese missile firm that has been sanctioned “multiple times by the U.S. for selling prohibited missile technology to Iran,” according to the report.
Turkey’s deal with the controversial China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp appears “to be a direct attempt to undermine the U.S.-led sanctions against Iran,” the report states.
The Turkish government’s growing ties to terror have come amid a corruption scandal that has rocked Erdogan’s AKP political party, which has “purged the investigators, prosecutors, and journalists involved” in exposing the corruption.
FDD’s Schanzer warned that left unchecked by the United States and the rest of the international community, “Turkey’s terrorism finance problems could fester further.”
“These problems have already raised questions about whether Turkey currently serves as a barrier to extremism from the Middle East,” Schanzer said.