A suicide car bomber has killed three people, including two civilians and one foreign soldier, in the Afghan capital it was reported on the 17 May 15, in an attack targeting a convoy of foreign troops near Kabul's airport, officials stated. The Afghan interior ministry said that at least two women were killed and 21 civilians wounded, after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-packed car on a road leading from the airport to a nearby NATO military installation. The blast is believed to have happened after the attacker rammed his car into a convoy of foreign troops. In a statement the Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast.
Afghanistan/Pakistan – Three jihadist groups, including one led by a key commander who has served as a senior leader in al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, have united with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. The merger is part of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s efforts to rebuild itself, likely with the guidance of al Qaeda. The jihadist organization split in 2014 after a contentious leadership dispute that festered when the US killed the group’s former emir, Hakeemullah Mehsud, in a drone strike. Muhammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (TTP), announced today that three groups led by “Commander Qari Matiur Rehman,” “Commander Qari Ehsanul Haq,” and “Commander Muhammad Shamil,” merged with the overarching Taliban group, according to a translation of a statement that was obtained by The Long War Journal reported on the 6 May 15. Rehman, who is “also known as Commander Abdul Samad” and has served as a senior leader in al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, leads all three groups within the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. “All three of these groups united under the leadership of the respected Commander Matiur Rehman, may God protect him, and became a part of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan [Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan],” Khurasani said in a statement that was issued on Umar Media, the official website of the group. Khurasani said that the three jihadist entities “were always important groups in the jihad of Pakistan and have been since the beginning.” “Prior to this, these organizations worked with and cooperated with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, but were not officially part of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan,” he continued. The merger is part of Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan’s attempt to rebuild its shattered image in the wake of the 2014 death of Hakeemullah Mehsud, the group’s former emir. The Taliban appointed Mullah Fazlullah to lead the TTP, but multiple factions were unhappy with the choice and split, including two Mehsud factions in North and South Waziristan, and a large branch led by Omar Khalid Khorasani. But Omar Khalid Khorasani’s faction (Jamaat-ul Ahrar) and Lashkar-e-Islam joined the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan early last month as part of the effort to mend the rift between the jihadist groups. [See LWJ report, Pakistani jihadist groups, Lashkar-i-Islam merge into the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.] Given Rehman’s profile within al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, it is highly likely that his merger with the TTP was directly by al Qaeda’s top leadership. In fact, Rehman remains a part of al Qaeda’s leadership cadre. According to The News, Rehman is still “a close aide and a logistics provider of Ayman al-Zawahiri.” 361 COMMENT: Is this part of al-Qaeda in the sub continent bid to rebuild and reunite groups in the region so they can attack targets with greater efficiency rather than have groups operating as separate entities? COMMENT ENDS
Taliban fighters attacked a police headquarters in southern Afghanistan, killing 20 security personnel and seizing three army checkpoints reports stated on the 26 May 15. At the time of reporting fighting was occurring in three areas of Helmand province, with clashes raging in the districts of Sangin, Musa Qala and Nawzad. In Nawzad, the standoff has been particularly difficult and has been going on for hours with the Taliban taking three army checkpoints and surrounding the district's headquarters. At least 20 army and police officers had been killed in that attack, and local officials had called for reinforcements. Thirteen of the victims were police officers and seven were soldiers. Fighting was also reported in the southern province of Kandahar. Meanwhile, in the eastern province of Wardak, four suicide bombers attacked a local court, with all four of the attackers reported killed, along with two police officers. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), in the first three months of 2015, civilian casualties from ground fighting were up eight percent on the same period last year.
A suicide truck bomb attack and a separate roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan killed 11 people and wounded dozens more on the 25 May 15 as the Taliban clashed with supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group in the west, officials said on the 26 May 15. Gov. Asif Nang said the Taliban have been clashing with rival insurgents claiming allegiance to the ISIS group for three days in the western Farah province, leaving at least 10 Taliban fighters and 15 IS supporters dead. He provided no further details. The clashes provide the latest indication of a small but growing ISIS presence in the country. Afghan and foreign officials differ over the extent to which the extremist group is able to operate in Afghanistan, where the Taliban have been waging war against the Western-backed government for more than a decade. 361 COMMENT: This maybe the first report of the two groups clashing and resulting in serious injuries. The Taliban do not want the IS in the country as their ideology is nowhere the same as the Taliban, but the group is determined to make an inroad and this altercation maybe the result of the IS attempting to set up a main hub where it can operate from. It will be interesting to see how this develops. Either the Taliban will take control in the region or the IS will attempt to make a small enclave for themselves. This maybe a distraction the Taliban can quiet well do without. Also if the Taliban are going to hold peace talks (as reported in the New York Times on the 26 May 15) then having the Islamic State presence in the country will only further complicate matters. The IS will attempt to disrupt the process in order to continue the chaos in the country and to their own advantage. COMMENT ENDS
An all-night siege in an upscale neighbourhood of Afghanistan's capital ended in the early hours of 27 May 15 with the deaths of four heavily armed attackers, though no civilians or security personnel were injured or killed, an Afghan official said. Deputy interior minister Mohammad Ayub Salangi said that weapons had been seized, including a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, three automatic rifles and a hand grenade. The siege ended at 0500 hrs in a sustained barrage of automatic weapons fire and a series of huge explosions that resounded across the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul, home to many embassies and foreign firms. Salangi had said earlier that the target of the attack appeared to be a guesthouse, but he gave no further details. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in tweets on a recognized Twitter account. They referred to the target as "belonging to the occupiers," reiterating the insurgents' message that foreign installations are specific targets in the Afghan capital.
Australia – Police arrested a 17-year-old and accused him of plotting to detonate three homemade bombs in the Australian city of Melbourne, officials said on the 8 May 15. The teen was arrested on the afternoon of the 8 May in a joint federal-state police counterterrorism operation at his home in the up market suburb of Greenvale where the explosive devices were found, Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Phelan said. Last month, five Australian teenagers were arrested on suspicion of plotting an Islamic State group-inspired terrorist attack at a Veterans’ Day ceremony also in Melbourne that included targeting police officers. “We’ve got to examine lot of material that was seized at the premises, sift through a lot of intelligence, we have to get the full picture so we may not know exactly where it was going to occur nor when it was exactly going to occur, but let me tell you, something was going to happen,” Phelan stated.
India – The Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), country’s premier spy agency, has warned the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that the Islamic State’s (IS) Af-Pak group — Wilayat Khurasan (WK) — and its links to various Pakistani establishments are a matter of concern for the country reports claimed on the 1 May 15. In Jan 15, the IS had declared the formation of WK and appointed former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander Hafiz Saeed Khan the ‘Wali’ of Khurasan and Abdur Rauf Khadim the Deputy Wali. Hafiz is said to have been killed while planting an IED in Khyber Agency in Pakistan, but his death is not yet confirmed. RAW said Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost has been appointed WK’s religious head and a judge and Asmatullah Muawiya is given the charge of military leader. Muslim Dost, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, was handed over to Pakistan in 2008 and was a key member of a Salafi group of Kunar, the Jamaat Ul Dawa Al Quran (JDQ). RAW has suggested that the JDQ has links to Hafiz Muhammad Saeed’s terror group Lashkar-e-Taiyaba in the tribal areas of Af-Pak region. A Punjabi Taliban leader, formerly linked to TTP and Al Qaeda, Asmatullah Muawiya had made peace with the Pak army last year and had threatened India recently. RAW, while raising its concerns, told the PMO that they have got inputs suggesting that the IS is operational in the Af-Pak region and it needs to be probed further. “However, the creation of the WK and its possible exchanges with the the Pak establishment are a matter of concern for India,” the RAW told the PMO.
Malaysia – Six men, including two Malaysian Air Force personnel and an Indonesian arms expert, were on the 30 Apr 15 charged with conspiring to plot Islamic State-led terror attacks in the Muslim-majority country, it was reported on the 1 May 15. They were charged by a session’s court under the penal code, which gives a maximum jail term of 30 years. The six were among the 17 suspects who had allegedly planned terror attacks on several landmarks in the city as they believe that Malaysia is a secular and non-Islamic state, say reports. However, the IS-linked terror cell's plans were thwarted when Counter Terrorism Division officers swooped on them, rounding up the 17 in raids in Kedah state and the Klang Valley on the 5 Apr 15. The suspected mastermind was identified as Murad Halimmuddin Hassan, 49, while the two Air Force personnel were Mohd Yusri Mohamed Yusof, 29, and Nor Azmi Jailani, 28. The others are Murad's 25-year-old son Abu Daud, Indonesian arms expert Ali Saifuddin, 28, and religious school assistant Hadharami Hashim, 38. It was reported that Murad was a veteran of armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Sulawesi and Syria. Murad, who went to Syria in Aug 14 and returned in Dec 14, was also suspected to be the leader of a group that had tried to raid a weapons' depot. Malaysian police arrested a dozen suspects linked to the Islamic State terror group who were allegedly plotting to attack government targets around Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has arrested over a hundred suspects in connection with the IS since last year.
Pakistan – A bus, carrying women and children, was fired on indiscriminately by gunmen on motorbikes. A statement released by the extremist group (IS) and circulated on ISIS-affiliated social media accounts claimed the shooting on the 13 May 15. "Thanks to God 43 apostates were killed and close to 30 others were wounded in an attack by the soldiers of Islamic State (ISIS) on a bus carrying people of the Shia Ismaili sect ... in Karachi," the statement read. Pakistani Taliban splinter group Jundullah also claimed the attack, according to the BBC. Six unidentified assailants on motorbikes attacked the bus belonging to a Shia Muslim community in the Safoora Chowak area outside Pakistan’s largest city. First reports indicated that as many as 43 people, including 16 women, died and 13 were seriously injured when the gunmen opened fire indiscriminately using used 9mm pistols. “The bus had a capacity of 52 passengers but it was overloaded and dozens of people were boarding it. Most of them were from (the) Ismaili community,” a policeman at the scene stated. It is believed that the bus belonged to the al-Azhar Trust, a Muslim charitable organisation, and was en route to a place of worship for Ismaili Muslims when it was boarded and attacked. The Ismailis belong to a branch of Shia Islam, sometimes known as Seveners, who live in Pakistan, Indian and Afghanistan – although small minorities are also to found in east Africa and the Middle East. Sunni extremist groups, including the Taliban, view Shias as apostates and have targeted the minority group in the past. 361 COMMENT: Six motorbikes used in one attack is unusual. This maybe the start of a new tactic as the terrorists could become a rapid reaction type force where they can deploy to an area quickly, conduct the terrorist act and then extract themselves from the scene before the police or army can be deployed affectively to counter the threat. COMMENT ENDS
On the 25 May 15 Bangladesh banned a radical Islamist group accused of attacking and killing atheist bloggers and other writers. The Ministry of Home Affairs said Monday that the Ansarullah Bangla Team had been banned in response to a request by the police because it has threatened and killed bloggers, writers and activists. Junior Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said the decision was warranted under Bangladesh’s antiterrorism law. Since Feb 15, three bloggers who criticized radical Islam have been killed.
Tensions were running high on the 30 May 15 in south-western Pakistan after dozens of heavily armed gunmen, wearing the uniforms of security forces, stopped two buses, singled out ethnic Pashtuns and fatally shot at least 22 of them on the evening of the 29 May 15. Hundreds of protesters were holding a sit-in outside the Governor’s House in Quetta, the provincial capital of restive Baluchistan Province, demanding punishment for the killers. Most roads in the city were deserted, and businesses were closed to protest the killings. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but similar attacks have been carried out by Baluch separatists, who since the mid-2000s have waged a low-level insurgency in the oil- and mineral-rich province. The insurgency is an outgrowth of past calls for greater autonomy and a greater share of the natural resources there. The attack took place in Mastung, about 40 miles southeast of Quetta. The buses had been on their way to Karachi, the southern port city in neighbouring Sindh Province. Before the shootings of the Pashtuns, militants from banned sectarian groups used to target buses of Shiite pilgrims, mostly in Mastung District, forcing them to also give up road travel in the province. While attacks on Pashtuns in Baluchistan have occurred in the past, killing them after stopping buses and checking identity cards for their ethnicity is a new development. Security officials say a search is being carried out by 200 troops across Mastung District. Pakistani officials accuse India of supporting terrorism inside the country, and in recent months, Pakistan’s top civil and military leaders have accused India of backing separatists in Baluchistan. India has denied involvement.