Taliban fighters have seized control of a strategic district in the Afghan province of Ghazni, officials have stated on the 26 Sep 14. Insurgents killed about 70 villagers after taking Ajrestan district late on the 25 Sep 14 after a week of battle. A spokesman for the provincial governor said 15 people suspected of collaborating with authorities were beheaded, including women. Some analysts say that control of Ajrestan also provides militants with a launching pad for attacks into adjacent provinces in the east of the country. The fall of the district comes days before Afghanistan's new president Ashraf Ghani was due to be inaugurated. The US has said that it hopes a key bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan can be signed in the coming weeks.
Australia – Authorities have raided a string of homes and made several arrests as part of a counter-terrorism operation in Sydney it was reported by open source on the 18 Sep 14. The operation, involved NSW police and Australian Federal Police (AFP). Details of the arrests had yet to be confirmed but police said they followed the execution of a number of search warrants across Sydney’s north-west suburbs in dawn raids. The suburbs include Beecroft, Bellavista, Guildford, Merrylands, Northmead, Wentworthville, Marsfield, Westmead, Castle Hill, Revesby, Bass Hill and Regents Park. There are about 60 Australians believed to be fighting in Iraq and Syria with groups such as Islamic State, while another 100 are suspected of providing support from Australia. During the last reporting period Brisbane man Omar Succarieh, 31, was arrested and charged with terrorism-related offences following a series of raids. He’s accused of fundraising for Syria-based extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra and helping another man, Agim Kruezi, obtain funds to fight for a terror organisation overseas. Logan man Kruezi, 22, has alleged links to the Islamic State group.
China – Two people have been killed and others hurt in a series of blasts in China's Xinjiang region, Chinese media stated. A local Communist Party news site said the blasts took place on the 21 Sep 14 in at least three locations in Luntai county. Xinjiang has seen rising tensions between the local Muslim Uighur population and Han Chinese settlers. Violence has increased in recent months, with deadly attacks on civilians in Urumqi and the southern city of Kunming. In July, dozens were killed and injured in violence at police and government buildings near the city of Kashgar. Two days later, the imam of a mosque in Kashgar, the largest mosque in China, was killed in an apparent targeted attack. 361 COMMENT: The Chinese appear to be going for a body count which they believe will stop the violence. This will not happen as the Uighur have an ideology and goals. Sacrificing people in order to achieve those ambitions will not matter. The Chinese authorities have to at some point either come up with a different strategy or enter into dialogue. This will be difficult for them due to their culture. COMMENT ENDS
Philippines – The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), a jihadist organization based in the Philippines that previously was tied to al Qaeda and is now loyal to the Islamic State, has released a statement in which it threatened to kill a German hostage unless Germany backs out of the coalition with the United States. In a message released on Twitter in Arabic and Filipino, ASG said it has two demands for Germany, stipulating 15 days to meet these demands or the hostages will be executed. This was reported on the 24 Sep 14. The two German hostages have been identified as Stefan Okonek and Henrike Dielen. Both were captured in waters off the coast of Malaysia in May 14. The demands set forth by ASG are as follows, according to a translation provided by SITE Intelligence Group: "The first of our demands is to pay us 250 million pesos in return for releasing both of them (in addition to the second demand). The second: The participation with support from Germany to America must stop, in the killing of our Muslims brothers in Iraq and Sham [Syria] in general, and the mujahedeen of the Islamic State in particular." ASG has been notorious for kidnappings in the Philippines and surrounding areas. In the same article that identifies the two German nationals, it goes on to say that "two Germans were made to join European birdwatchers Elwold Horn and Lorenzo Vinciguerra. The two birdwatchers were abducted by the bandit group in Panglima Sugala, Tawi-Tawi on the 31 Jan 12." Additionally, in April 2000, ASG kidnapped 19 people in Malaysia before taking them back to their base in Sulu, Philippines. In 2001, the Philippines rescued an American hostage taken by ASG after the group threatened to kill him. A month later, ASG kidnapped 20 individuals from a resort on the Filipino island of Palawan. It is also thought that ASG has kidnapped 20 reporters since the year 2000. In the past, the ASG has had ties to al Qaeda. In June, a master ASG bomb maker who was thought to have been killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan, turned up in the Philippines. The operative, Abdul Basit Usman, is wanted by the United States for his involvement in multiple bombings in the Philippines and also has ties to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), an al Qaeda-linked group in Southeast Asia. "We pledge bayah to Caliph Sheikh Abu Bakr al Baghdadi Ibrahim Awwad al Qurashi al Husseini for loyalty and obedience in adversity and comfort," Hapilon said in a short videotape. Other members of ASG have also pledged allegiance to al Baghdadi and the Islamic State. 361 COMMENT: The dead line runs out on the 9/10 Oct 14. COMMENT ENDS