Indonesia – Police in Indonesia have arrested a suspected extremist militant and seized a large quantity of bomb making material that he planned to use in attacks on government buildings and the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta next month, a police spokesman said on the 26 Nov 16. The suspect was identified as Rio Priatna Wibawa, 23, who is believed to be a member of an Indonesian group that supports ISIS. Local media reported that the amount of explosives seized would have resulted in a blast twice as powerful as the bomb that killed 202 people in a Bali nightclub in 2002. Wibawa, who studied agricultural science at university and was unemployed, was a self-taught bomb-maker who had planned to distribute explosives to several places across Indonesia, police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said. Indonesia has seen a string of ISIS-linked attacks this year, the biggest of which was a gun and bomb assault in the capital Jakarta that killed four people in January. Authorities are concerned about a resurgence in radicalism and say there are hundreds of Islamic State sympathizers in Indonesia, home to the biggest Muslim population in the world. Lately, anger has been mounting in the Muslim-majority nations in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, over a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, leading to demonstrations in several cities, including Jakarta.
Kashmir – Four people, including two children, have been killed and 10 others injured in cross-border fire in disputed Kashmir, the latest casualties in ongoing skirmishes between Pakistan and India. "At the Line of Control [LoC] four civilians embraced [martyrdom] and 10 were injured," Pakistan's military said in a brief statement on the 21 Nov 16. "There are reports of heavy casualties of Indian soldiers due to effective retaliatory fire by Pakistani troops," it added, claiming at least six Indian troops had been killed. No immediate response to the allegation came from Indian officials. Pakistani officials said two children and a woman were among those killed in heavy shelling by Indian forces, in three separate sectors along the LoC - the de facto border - in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
Pakistan/Da’esh – ISIL has claimed the killing of four members of Pakistani security forces who were shot dead by gunmen on a motorcycle in the south-western city of Quetta in the troubled Balochistan region. A statement issued on the 20 Nov 16 by the armed group gave no further details about the attack, which took place the day before. The ISIL affiliate in Pakistan has grown in recent months by attracting disgruntled Taliban fighters, and by targeting the country's Shia Muslim minority. Da’esh also claimed an attack on a Sufi shrine earlier this month that killed more than 50 people. The blast at Shah Noorani shrine occurred while hundreds of people were inside to celebrate the Sufi saint's 500th birth anniversary. Balochistan is the scene of a violent separatist movement. But officials recently said that the area has become a safe haven for fighters fleeing military operations in other regions bordering Afghanistan. In the largely remote and neglected region, Pakistani security forces and symbols of the state have come under attack from armed groups, while civilians have lost lives in sectarian violence. Balochistan is a strategically important province to Pakistan because of the high concentration of natural resources - including oil, coal, gold, copper and gas reserves, which generate substantial revenue for the federal government - and the only deep-sea port at Gwadar. In Oct 16 the local armed group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi boasted of a deadly attack on a police station in Quetta. At least 61 people were killed and several were held hostage for hours during the attack on a dormitory inside the police centre. Pakistan has carried out military operations against armed groups in tribal areas near Afghanistan and in cities across Pakistan, but fighters are still capable of staging frequent attacks.
Pakistan – Pakistan's army says a mosque has been targeted at an army facility in northwest Pakistan, resulting in a shootout in which four of the attackers and two soldiers had died. The army said in a statement that 14 soldiers were injured in the 26 Nov 16 suicide attack, claimed by a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, on Ghalani Camp in the Mohmand tribal region bordering Afghanistan. It said the attackers wanted to enter the camp and started shooting after they reached the mosque, where residents and a large number of recruits were present. A curfew has been imposed in Mohmand Agency following the attack, according to the statement. The Pakistan army launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb under US pressure in 2014 in an effort to wipe out fighters and their bases in the North Waziristan tribal area.
Philippines/Maute Group – Government troops have killed at least 11 members of a rebel group in the southern Philippines that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, the military said, sending local communities fleeing as a battle was being fought on the 27 Nov 16. The Maute Group, one of a handful of small armed groups behind years of unrest in the south, had since Saturday occupied parts of a municipality in Lanao del Sur and were holed up in an abandoned town hall. At least four soldiers were wounded in the clashes and there were unconfirmed reports that the group had raised an ISIL flag in the hall, said Marine Colonel Edgard Arevalo, a military spokesman. At the time of reporting the fight was ongoing with the town of Butig beseiged and about 200 members of the Maute Group there. The leaders of this group are believed to have some foreign fighters who are also a part of this siege. They also took control of a high school and a mosque in the same town, half of the residents had fled and half of them had remained to be stuck in that village, this was an operation that was expected to last for days. The military has not given an estimate for the number of displaced but local media reported an exodus of as many as 16,000 people from the area. Though the Philippines is predominantly Catholic, many people in the south are Muslim. The Maute group is one of several armed organisations in the Mindanao islands that have pledged allegiance to ISIL. Maute came from a name of a clan that is very influential and powerful in Boutig. President Rodrigo Duterte has said in the past that they would like to talk to the Maute Group, but the military has already named them as a terror group. The group, once described by the military as a small-time extortion gang, attacked a remote army outpost in Butig in Feb 16 triggering a week of fighting that the army said left six soldiers and 12 fighters dead. The group also beheaded two employees of a local sawmill in Apr 16. Three members of the Maute group were arrested in Oct 16 accused of a Sep 16 bombing that left 15 people dead in Davao, Duterte's home town and Mindanao's largest city. Government forces captured a Maute training camp in the town in Jun 16 after a 10-day gunbattle that killed four soldiers and dozens of fighters, according to an army account.
The Maute Group
The Maute group which also goes by the name Islamic State in Lanao is an armed Islamist group composed of former Moro Islamic Liberation Front guerrillas and some foreign fighters led by Abdullah Maute, the alleged founder of a Dawlah Islamiya, or Islamic state based in Lanao del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines. The group figured in a clash with Philippine Army troops in Feb 16 that ended with the capture of their headquarters in Butig, Lanao del Sur. There are reports that Omar Maute, Abdullah's brother, was killed in that clash. There are also reports to the contrary, claiming that he escaped before the camp was overrun and is still alive. Since then the group, which a Philippine Army brigade commander characterized as terrorist, has been conducting a protection racket in the remote settlements of Butig. Philippine Army sources state that their initial encounter with the Maute group involved a firefight in 2013 when the insurgents attacked a security checkpoint the government troops were manning in Madalum, Lanao del Sur. The group is thought to have over 100 members and were supplied with equipment by a foreign terrorist. They are said to be affiliated with Jemaah Islamiya, a Southeast Asian Islamist terrorist group. Although some reports indicate that the Maute group is regularly seen carrying black flags bearing the insignia of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Butig town mayor Ibrahim Macadato has stated that the group is not affiliated with ISIS, but are merely armed residents. However, training manuals and other documents for militants under the Islamic State were recovered from their captured camp, indicating that the group may be trying to link up with ISIS. Butig, the headquarters of the Maute group, is also a stronghold of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and both groups are tied by blood or marriage. Brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute are first cousins of Azisa Romato, the wife of the late MILF Vice Chairman for Military Affairs Alim Abdul Aziz Mimbantas, who is buried in Butig. The Maute brothers themselves were once members of the MILF. The Maute group is said to be actively recruiting minors for service as child warriors and using the non-passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law as propaganda. In April 2016, they abducted six sawmill workers from Butig, two of whom were later found beheaded. On the 4 Oct 16, three men who are linked to the Maute Group were arrested in connection with the 2016 Davao City bombing. The men were TJ Tagadaya Macabalang, Wendel Apostol Facturan, and Musali Mustapha. Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the Maute Group has already established links with the Abu Sayyaf and that there are "indications" that the group is aligning themselves with ISIS.
Russia – Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to withdraw Russia from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which prosecutes war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Russia in 2000 signed the Rome treaty which established the Hague-based court, but never ratified it. Putin's decree, published on the Kremlin's website on the 16 Nov 16, comes a day after the UN General Assembly's human rights committee approved a resolution condemning Russia's "temporary occupation of Crimea", and blamed Moscow for rights abuses and discrimination against some Crimean residents, such as Tatars. Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, said the withdrawal is based on "national interests" and argued that since Russia never ratified the creation of the court, the 16 Nov 16 decree was just a formality. Peskov also dismissed the ICC's accusations of an "armed conflict" in Crimea, arguing that Crimea joined Russia after a legitimate popular vote. Russia annexed Crimea in Mar 14 from Ukraine after a hastily called referendum, a move that led to crippling Western sanctions. A separatist armed conflict later erupted in eastern Ukraine the following month, backed by Russia. On the 14 Nov 16 the ICC issued a preliminary report in which it described what happened in Crimea as "an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation". Russia's foreign ministry insisted in a statement that Russia wants everyone implicated in grave international crimes to face justice but expressed frustration over the court's work in recent years. 361 COMMENT: Nevertheless regarding Russia’s actions in the Crimea there will also be a number of questions that need to be asked in regards to the Syria conflict. Firstly there is the bombing of the aid convoy in Aleppo during Sep 16; the use by Assads forces in dropping barrel bombs onto certain factions that are against the government forces and Russia doing nothing to stop this act. There are also questions that need to be answered in the bombing of hospital and medical areas in Oct 16. There will be many other questions, these are just a few. Although open source material does not point the finger directly at Russia and its allies in the conflict it certainly raises some very interesting questions. The conflict in Ukraine and Syria coupled together must make Russia very uncomfortable and are probably the reasons why it is withdrawing from the ICC, for to remain would mean that their ideology and actions would have to be questioned and make those responsible step up to the mark which in the long run would be very embarrassing for Russia on the international stage. COMMENT ENDS
Russia/United Nations/Syria – The United Nations Security Council approved on the 18 Nov 16 a one-year extension of an international inquiry to determine blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, paving the way for a showdown over how to punish those responsible. Russia had said it wanted the inquiry to be broadened to look more at the “terrorist chemical threat” within the region, and the resolution to renew the mandate included language to reflect that request. The 15-member council unanimously adopted the US-drafted resolution.
Also read: Russia accuses Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons
The inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, set up by the council a year ago, has already found that Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks and that ISIS militants had used mustard gas. Syria’s government has denied its forces had used chemical weapons during the country’s nearly six-year-old civil war. Last week, the OCPW’s executive body voted to condemn the use of banned toxic agents by the Syrian government and ISIS militants.
Also read: Russia rejects UN Syria chemical attacks probe
Chlorine’s use as a weapon is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined in 2013. If inhaled, chlorine gas turns to hydrochloric acid in the lungs and can kill by burning lungs and drowning victims in the resulting body fluids.
Turkey – Two people have been killed and 16 others injured in a car bombing outside the governor’s office in the southern Turkish city of Adana. Mahmut Demirtas, the governor, told the state-run Anadolu news agency that explosion occurred at 0805 hrs local time on the 24 Nov 16 in a car park close to the office entrance. “It is suspected that a female suspect carried out the attack,” he said, adding that the licence plate of the suspect's car had been identified.
CNN Turk news channel broadcast a video from the scene, showing a vehicle ablaze in the car park and thick black smoke rising into the sky. The Turkish prime minister's office has imposed a temporary broadcast ban on news of the blast, according to the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTUK).