Canada – Two Canadian citizens were arrested (John Stuart Nuttall who converted to Islam seven years ago and Amanda Maria Korody) for planning a terrorist attack in Victoria on July 1, which is Canada Day. The two were inspired by al-Qaeda ideology but had no external links to foreign terrorist groups. The pair took steps to learn how to produce explosive devices that would kill and maim others and were to use pressure cookers as their explosive devices with contents ranging from nuts, bolts, rusty nails and washers. These devices were not dissimilar to those used in the Boston bombings on April 15. Although the two incidents had no links, they wanted to carry out the attack to create as much damage and death as they could. This appears to be a lone wolf style attack which most countries are aware of and seems to be the biggest area that terrorists are exploiting; it is likely to be a trend for the future. Pressure bomb explosive devices are simple to make, with the device, initiator, and shrapnel easy to gain. These devices have been in use for some time: the Mumbai train bombings in 2006; Stockholm in 2010; the thwarted Times Square car bomb 2010; and the Boston attack in 2013. An article published in 2010 in the al-Qaeda magazine Inspire entitled, “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom,” seems to be currently influencing lone wolfs and others.
Colombia – The peace negations with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been progressing well over the last few months with many issues being resolved. The next issue for resolution is how the FARC will integrate themselves into the political and the election process. Currently, FARC wants the Colombian government to postpone the country’s elections which are due to be held on May 14 and pushed back until 2015. The government so far have stated that they will only discuss what was previously on the agreed agenda. This could prove a sticking point between the two and could result in the six month peace process dissolving. That said, the FARC must see that the government does have a point. Both parties had signed up to discuss peace under an agreed agenda. For one side to attempt to add extra is not ideal. FARC would be better to stick to the agenda and once that has finished, then, start to look at future areas to discuss. This would also give them time to build up the group’s credibility and when the time comes to enter elections, they will be better prepared.
The National Liberation Army (ELN) and FARC have met recently in an attempt to strengthen their unification process. The ELN has stated in the past that they wish to explore a similar dialogue with the Colombian government that FARC has done. In the past, the two groups have distanced themselves, but the ELN now see an opportunity to enter a peace deal and further down the road enter politics. However, the ELN are treading carefully and looking at how the peace process is proceeding with FARC in order to have a better understanding of the procedure. Once that has been done, then the ELN will have a clearer idea of how to proceed.
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst