Egypt – The Egyptian government is concerned regarding al-Qaeda approaching Salafi groups in the Nile Delta and Sinai. Weapons from Libya are making their way into the country and are arming terrorist organisations in the Sinai. These groups are then trafficking them into the Gaza strip and also arming those who seek to attack Israel from Egypt. Salafist organisations are on the rise and are attacking the Egyptian military, policemen, Israel, international peacekeepers in the Sinai and a pipeline taking natural gas to Israel and Jordon. This is a worrying trend and possibly down to Iran attempting to open a new weapons supply route. With security in the region a little unstable due to the Muslim Brotherhood government not able to stabilise the country al-Qaeda are now making an inroad and if allowed to elevate its platform to a more permanent position it will be hard to dismantle at a later date.
Mali – The French government has made a statement that its armed forces will stay in the country until the end of Jul 13 but in another the withdrawal of the troops could be in April, it seems that no real decision has been taken. This puts the French withdrawal date back further than was planned and the possibility of further action in the country something that the military planners had not expected. The possibility of a guerrilla war in the country is more likely once the main militants have been defeated. France will, or should, be bracing itself for this as it has been shown in Iraq and Afghanistan; although the main hardliners will be defeated the ability of others to carry out a war of this kind cannot be discounted. The French will either have to stay which will no doubt not help its allies but also those voters back in France. Training of African forces to take over to release the French must be in the forefront of the government’s thinking so that it does not get bogged down in a long drawn out conflict.
On the 2 Mar 13 a number of open source reports stated that the man responsible for the kidnapping and murder of two western hostages; Briton Edwin Dyer in 2009 and the French hostage Michel Germaneau in 2010, was killed. The two hostages were kidnapped by Abdelhamid Abou Zeid who was reportedly second in command of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Germaneau had died through lack of medication and Dyer had had been beheaded after the UK government had refused to release the fundamentalist cleric Abu Qatada and a multi-million pound ransom. Abu Qatada al-Filistini is currently residing in the United Kingdom and is fighting extradition to Jordon to face terrorist charges. Abdelhamid Abou Zeid had been killed in the north of the country by Chadian soldiers. The loss of such a high-power figure in the African al-Qaeda organisation could assist the French government and its allies currently fighting in Mali. With the lack of a well positioned leader in the organisation now taken out those terrorist fighting in Mali maybe in disarray and decide to melt into another country. On the other hand the terrorists may seek retribution for the act.
Another press release stated that Mokhtar Belmokhtar had also been killed in an operation where forces of the Chad government were clearing a terrorist cave camp in the Adrar des Igoghas Mountains. Belmokhtar was responsible for the attack on the Algiers oil and gas plant in January where a number of hostages were killed. He had been sentenced to death twice in Algeria in the past. With two significant deaths of the terrorist operating in Mali it remains to be seen who will take over and if their operations will place a significant impact throughout the north of Africa.
Nigeria – On the 11 mar 13 a video was displayed on the internet showing what appears to be dead hostages who were kidnapped by the Nigerian terrorist organisation Ansaru also known as the Vanguard for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa. It is believed that seven hostages had been killed as a result of panic due to a sighting of British military aircraft in the country. The group believed that there was likely to be an assault to release the hostages. This was unfounded and seven people lost their lives. There was no news regarding the French family kidnapped in Cameroon and driven across the border and held by Boko Harem. The possibility that Ansaru had held the seven for to long and were getting nowhere with negotiations to free them they then decided to kill those hostages, using the aircraft as an excuse to justify there actions.
Boko Harem (BK) continue to attack small villages and kill police and civilians in the north. Nigeria's top Islamic leader has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to give an amnesty to the terrorists who are carrying out these attacks. The Nigerian government is refusing stating that they do not know who the terrorists are so they cannot allow an amnesty. The comment regarding who the terrorists are or stating that they do not know is somewhat worrying. If they do not know who is in the BK organisation or who is conducting the attacks, the leadership and who is ordering the attacks then this could be a worrying state of affairs. If the Nigerian government wishes to get on top of this group it requires more intelligence to combat the terrorists. The group's suspected leader Abubakar Shekau said Boko Haram would not enter dialogue with the government so long as its members were being arrested and detained, a condition cited in previous statements. That puts both parties between a rock and hard place. The government wants to be seen as a political force not wanting to negotiate with terrorists and the terrorists want their own way so this will be a stalemate for sometime. The Nigerian government requires more intelligence on the group and then hurt them with their own counter-terrorist operations. Only then will BK come to the table and observe what is on offer to draw down the group. Boko Harem will no doubt still want the north of the country to be a Muslim state and this could be a sticking point for future negotiations.
Zimbabwe – The countries foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has told the state owned newspaper that European Union (EU) and United States (US) observers lack objectivity and therefore will not be allowed in the country for the elections that are to be held on the 16 Mar 13. The western press have always questioned the outcome of the countries elections in the past and found flaws in the electoral process. However, Zimbabwe has invited observers from the African Union (AU), the South African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and South Africa (COMESA). It can be predicted that the opposition will call foul once the election results are counted and found to be in Mugabe’s favour as they have always been in the past and the bullying tactics that have been used in past elections are no doubt being used at present to intimidate and terrorise the populace to vote in his favour.
Columbia – In November 2012 two German nationals were kidnapped by the National Liberation Army (ELN). The two Germans brothers aged 69 and 72 and were accused by the group of being spies. On the 14 Feb 13, 361 Security reported that the group had stepped up its kidnapping campaign in an attempt to force the government into dialogue. In an open source report dated the 12 Mar 13 it stated that this appears to be the case. However, the Columbian government refused unless the organisation showed “acts of peace”. It is possible that as there was no proof that the two were spies the ELN has decided to show an act of peace and free them, but the group will have to release higher profile hostages in order to show that they are indeed serious about a dialogue. In another report a Canadian who was kidnapped on the 18 Jan 13 by the ELN was also set to be released but he apparently was not in a good area. It remains to be seen if he will be released and if so the ELN maybe serious regarding a dialogue.
Falklands – On the 10/11 Mar 13 the citizens of the Falkland Islands went to the polling booth to determine whether they wish to be British or Argentinean. The results showed that they overwhelmingly wished to remain British. In 1982 the Argentine government decided to invade the islands claiming that they belonged to the main land of Argentina. The British sent an armada and reclaimed the islands. Since then there has always been a dispute. The idea of the elections is to put to bed once and for all who the islanders wish to be governed by. The Argentine armed forces have never recovered from the 1982 conflict and currently the President of Argentine, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, has been accused of not managing the countries finances and they are not likely to recover during 2013 or 2014. The outcome of the poll will no doubt upset the President and she may use this as an excuse to divert attention from her home problems and point them at the Falklands or Malvinas as they are know on the mainland. However, a repeat of the 1982 invasion is highly unlikely and she may try through other means such as the United Nations to claim sovereignty but as the United Nations are in favour of self-determination this course is also unlikely. With the right to mineral rights and oil in the area this battle of words is likely to continue for some time.
Philippines – On the 10 mar 13 it was reported in open source material the three soldiers were ambushed by the New Peoples Army (NPA). Reports of this nature are becoming quiet frequent and are likely to become more of the normal rather than the abnormal in the future as the group intensifies its operations.
Peru – The threat of kidnap in the southern region of Cusco and the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu has been lifted by the United States Embassy. No reason was given nor was there any information as to who was behind the threat or why. There is a possibility that splinter groups from the Shining Path are operating in the area and are the reason for the threat. (NFDK)
Venezuela – On the 05 Mar 13 it was reported that President Hugo Chavez had died after a long battle with cancer. Vice President Nicolas Maduro has assumed control of the country until new elections are held within the next thirty days. It remains to see who the successor will be and if they continue the anti-US stance that the former president held. One of the mourners in attendance was President Ahmadinejad of Iran. The two countries announced on the 06 Jan 07 that they would use money from a joint fund to “attempt to liberate themselves from the imperialist yoke” referring to the United States. The two presidents also declared an “axis of unity” between the two for the same reason. Iran has a strong influence and foothold with Venezuela. The death of Hugo Chavez will not dent or pause this. Iranian influence in South America should be a wake-up call for the United States. To have the Iranians in a central location south of its border is a worrying thought as there is a possibility of terrorist organisations being funded, trained and with a regular logistical supply route there for the taking. Iran could influence other countries near the border to allow terrorists to cross and setup safe locations or strike at American interests at home. Thankfully US Congress in early 2012 had already started voicing concern over the Iranian influence in Latin America and is attempting to introduce a bill known as ‘Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere’.
Afghanistan – A large truck bomb was defused in the countries capital, Kabul recently. Five members of the al-Qaeda linked Haqqani network were killed prior to the vehicle being defused. Also during the reporting period a suicide bomber attacked the Defence Ministry. High profile attacks are becoming the normal in Kabul. Security around the capital is becoming a worrying concern as the terrorists must be bringing in the apparatus to build the bombs and those who carryout the attacks. The Afghan intelligence and security forces are not on top of their game as attacks of this nature will, and are, becoming more frequent especially with NATO forces leaving in 2014.
India-Kashmir – On the 13 Mar 13 it was reported that militants disguised as cricketers killed five Central Reserve Police in an ambush at a camp in Sringar in the Indian part of Kashmir. Hizbul Mujahedeen claimed the attack. The group is also known as Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen (HM) and is one of the largest terrorist organisations operating in the Kashmir area. It was formed as the militant wing of Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI). The HM was reportedly set up by the Pakistan external intelligence agency, Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), to counter the threat from the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) which had advocated complete independence of the state. This was a well planed attack and takes a lot of time to set it up and it may have been that the Indian security had dropped its guard in the area. An al-Qaeda spokesman (NFDK) stated that Kashmir would become the next target after Afghanistan. A curfew was put in place and the governments of India and Pakistan are currently debating who was responsible for the attack. The area has been in contention for a number of decades between the two countries and had of late been quiet. However, it is possible that the voice of the al-Qaeda spokesman is correct and this maybe the start of another escalation of violence and bring the two countries close to war again. Two of the three Indian-Pakistan wars (1947/8 and 1965) were fought over who controls the region.
Iran – On the 11 Nov 13 in a statement from the United Nations (UN) nuclear watchdog said that it was hoping to gain access to the Parchin military site during a visit. The UN had been blocked in the past. This could open the door for more diplomacy between the west and Iran. It is possible that the Iranians are playing a long game here and allowing the site to be visited after removing any suspicious material. Why open up now? Iranian ploys to slow down any talks or visits have been common over the years. Rest assure that Iran has an underlying reason for allowing the visit, if it goes ahead, and it is postponing the threat of attack either by the west or Israel. By allowing the visit to go ahead Iran is using propaganda to show that it is complying with the nuclear watchdog but on the other hand is diverting any research into nuclear weapon intensification elsewhere. Sanctions will only work if they are controlled for example the recent signing of the controversial gas pipeline between Iran and Pakistan have infuriated the United States and has hinted that sanctions could be placed on Pakistan if this pipeline goes ahead. Currently the US needs the cooperation of Pakistan but once the military have withdrawn from Afghanistan the bond for assistance will no longer be required at such a high level. It is problems such as this that will hinder the sanction process and deem it unworkable. Thus Iran can still go ahead with its nuclear program with only a minor irritation from the west’s sanctions as Iran’s influence throughout the world continues.
Thailand – In the capital, Kuala Lumpur the Thai authorities on the 28 Feb 13 signed an agreement with the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani (BRN) to end the nine year insurgency in the south of the country. The group was founded in 1963 as a splinter group of the Barisan Nasional Pembe-Basan Pattani (BNPP). The BRN has been fighting for a Pan-Malay independent Republic of Pattani composed of Thailand’s three southernmost provinces. The organisation has targeted government and police forces along with other perceived symbols of Thai repression. At the moment these are very tentative agreements and it remains to be seen if they will progress. Lieutenant-General Paradorn Pattanathabutr Secretary General of Thailand’s National Security Council said that this was another government initiative to tackle the unrest; it does not mean it will stop the violence.
Malaysia – The Royal Army of Sulu (RSU) a tribe from the Philippines had invaded in early February. The ‘army’ were demanding acknowledgment as to who were rightful owners of the Province of Sabah. Sabah became part of Malaysia in 1963 and a token rent is paid to the Sultanate each year. The Royal Army of Sulu wants the Malaysian government to recognise it as the rightful owner of the Province which Malaysia refuses to do. It was reported that approximately 100 members of the army took part, some of them armed. The Malaysian and Philippines governments had attempted to end the stand-off peacefully but the army refused. This may seem like a small insignificant incident but has the ability to escalate with a nationalist ideology. The RSU may wish to take this further especially with both sides claiming that one was to blame as to who opened fire first.
France – Spanish and French authorities arrested three Chechen Islamists linked to al-Qaeda around Paris on the 01 Mar 13. It is thought the three were setting up a cell in the south of Spain in the vicinity of La Linea de la Concepcion that was broken up in Aug 12. The authorities believe that the three were planning attacks in Spain, France or other European countries. It is possible that the south of Spain was being used as it is close to the northern coast of Africa and has the ability to smuggle weapons and explosives from other groups operating in the north of Africa (possibly Libya) into Europe. With the French involvement in Mali and the fear by European countries and the United States that terrorist organisations in Africa could use the south of Europe as a back door into the union this could prove their point.
Germany – German police announced that they had arrested four males who were associated with ultraconservative Islamic movement known as Salafim. The four were arrested on suspicion of plotting to murder a leader of a far-right political party that has on numerous occasions taunted Muslims. It is thought that the target was Markus Beischt, the leader of the far-right Pro-NRW party. The four who belonged to one group (NFDK) were part of several other groups that the German authorities had recently banned stating that the groups were involved in recruitment, fundraising and propaganda. The police had raided up to twenty locations associated with associations which are known as DawaFFM, Islamic Audios and an-Nussrah. The Salafist movement had been growing quickly in Germany and are attracting young men, Muslim immigrants and German converts. Germany, among other European countries has seen an upsurge in right-wing groups due to austerity measurements. Immigrants are seen to be taking much needed employment in the country. It must be pointed out that this is not new as a number of Turkish immigrants had been attacked in the past long before the latest recession took place. The worrying trend with this is that Salafist groups are becoming quite large not only in Germany but within Europe. This will be counteracted by the rise of far-right groups which are already causing problems in Europe especially in the northern countries. If the authorities do not keep a check on both sides all that will happen is that attacks against one group will only escalate matters against the other. There is a recognized terrorist organisation known as, ”German Taliban Mujahideen” (DTM) which is a small group of Germans who are operating in Afghanistan.
Greece – On the 10 Mar 13 an explosion occurred outside a package shipping company in Athens. A small crater was left near an apartment building where Swift Mail is located. In 2010 a Greek anarchist organisation known as Conspiracy Nuclei of Fire (SPF) used Swift Mail to send mail bombs to embassies in Athens and other European officials. The group first came to light on the 21 Jan 08 when it started a wave of fire-bombings against luxury car dealerships and banks. The organisation was designated a terrorist organisation by the United States Department of State on the 13 Oct 11. It is possible even though several arrests have been made in the past that this terrorist/anarchist group have re-emerged in support of growing concern regarding Greece’s austerity. They may see their ideology of becoming a leading communist organisation that could put the Greek troubles behind them and use Marxism as a way forward and lead them out of their problems.
Netherlands – The Dutch government recently raised its alert state for terrorist attacks to ‘substantial’. This is due to a large amount of individuals who left the country and bound for Africa and the Middle East, manly Syria. They believe that the chances of a terrorist attack in Holland or against Dutch interests abroad have risen and they have put plans to counteract this possible new threat. The Netherlands have not suffered a major act of terrorism since the filmmaker Theo van Gogh who was a huge criticiser of Islam was killed in Amsterdam during 2004. With a number of people leaving the country to fight against various security forces abroad it is understandable why the Dutch have raised their alert state. The return of these individuals could see the emergence of new terrorist organisations at a later date and be a concern not just for Holland but the rest of Europe.
Turkey – On the 27 Feb 13 it was reported that eleven members of an al-Qaeda (AQ) group had been arrested for plotting attacks on the United States Consulate, a church and a synagogue. There is no mention of which string of al-Qaeda the terrorists belonged to. Recently on the 1 Feb 13 the United States Embassy in Ankara was attacked by a suicide bomber but the attack was carried out by the Revolutionary People’s Revolutionary Party-Front (DHKP-C) which is a Marxist/Leninist group and not a religious organisation. It maybe that AQ have seen a security lapse in the US Consulate and the targeting of a synagogue and church is a way of attempting to throw confusion into the proceedings.
On the 11 Feb 13 a car bomb exploded at the Cilvegozu border checkpoint with Syria killing fourteen people. At the time no one claimed responsibility for the attack. On the 12 Mar 13 it was reported that the Turkish authorities had arrested five people for the attack. In a statement issued by Turkish Interior Ministry it stated that the five that had been arrested had links to the Syrian Intelligence and army. Syria is no doubt attempting to close border crossing points with Turkey for refugees and the traffic of arms to the opposing government forces. On the 28 Feb 13, 361 Security reported that on the 24 Feb 13 a women had been detained at a border crossing point between Syrian and Jordon. It was thought that a similar reason was given for the failed attack.
Bahrain – On the second anniversary of the Saudi led intervention of Bahrain a large number of people were injured during unrest. The Bahraini Interior Ministry had reported that “domestic terrorists” had blocked roads and burnt vehicles. The domestic terrorists had allegedly been armed with Molotov cocktails, iron rods and a number of homemade bombs, the police retaliated with tear gas and stun grenades. The blocking of roads appears to be happening on a regular basis and the police normally come under attack whilst attempting to clear the roads. If this trouble escalates the civilian police could find themselves on the serious end of a “come-on” where a mock incident is put in place and the police arrive and are ambushed with serious consequences. Protests can grow into insatiability if the government is not careful.
Iraq – With the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq terrorists have targeted government buildings in the countries capital, Baghdad. A number of people were killed in well co-ordinated attacks. Although the anniversary is marked on the 19 Mar 13 in a months time there are planned elections the first in three years. The Iraqi government is still unstable since the withdrawal of American forces but with new elections scheduled shortly the terrorists will attempt to take over and make the place unsafe for voters. As has been proven in the past if there is a vacuum of political and security measures the terrorists will take advantage and many Iraqis and new businesses will suffer as a consequence.
Syria – A rebel group who call themselves “Martyrs of Yarmouk” Brigade had kidnapped a number of soldiers during the reporting period. Little is known about the organisation. The group took as hostages approximately 20 Philippine United Nations (UN) personnel who had been stopped at a checkpoint whilst on a normal supply run. The Brigade stated in a video message that, “The forces to President Bashar al-Assad had to leave the area of the village of Jamla,” which was a mile away from the east of the ceasefire line with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. At the time of capture the UN soldiers were considered guests by the rebels but they stated that if the government forces did not leave the village within twenty-four hours they would be considered as prisoners. One member of the group was heard from the back shouting that the UN were agents of Israel. On the 09 Mar 13 the hostages were taken to the Jordanian border and handed over stating that they had been treated well.
It is possible that the group has named itself after the year 636 Battle of Yarmouk. The major battle was between Muslim Forces of the Rushidun Caliphate and the Eastern Roman Empire. The battle lasted for six days in August 636 near the Yarmouk River by what is today the border between Syria, Jordon and the south-east of the Sea of Galilee. The outcome of the battle was that the Muslim army won outright and ended the Byzantine rule of Syria. A large number of Arabic/Muslim terrorist organisation often relate to events in the Arab past history and include them in the name of their organisation. It is possible that members of the Martyrs of Yarmouk Brigade see themselves as part of the Caliphate that won that decisive battle.
The nature of the incident regarding the kidnapping of UN personnel although spoke in a statement is quiet plain but the question is what would have happened if one of the soldiers were to be killed? It maybe that this group had been protecting the village and fighting close to it had prompted the group to take prestigious hostages to bring attention to their plight or they may feel that the world is not listening enough and have decided to bring attention to the rebel cause. Either way they show no regards for a legitimate organisation that have nothing to do with the fighting of rebel and government forces. The Filipino UN soldiers were being used as human shields to protect the rebels or halt the fighting.
Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJA9J0LOM5w
A group known as the Brigade of Migrants (Kataeb al-Muhajirin) or Brigade of Muhajirs led by Emir Abu Omar al-Chechen is operating in Syria. The members of the organisation are made up of Chechens which also includes volunteers from the Caucasus Emirate. Brigade Kataeb al-Muhajirin is one of the most active units of Mujahideen fighting in Syria against the Alawite regime of Assad and Iranian mercenaries, rafidites. Members of this organisation will be gaining experience and then exporting that back to their homeland. The Russians need to be observant for the return of fighters from these groups as they will no doubt wage their own Jihad against what is seen as a government keeping them from gaining their own Caliphate in the Caucasus.