Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, a 24-year-old Lebanese-Swedish dual citizen who was arrested on July 7, 2012, admitted in court to being a member of Hezbollah. He denied that he was going to carry out any attacks on Israeli tourists in Cyprus, although he admitted to targeting locations and acting as a courier for Hezbollah. Yaacoub admitted he had been tasked with "recording flight arrivals and bus routes of Israeli tourists and checking out a hospital parking lot." He also stated that he had carried out other operations for Hezbollah in other countries in Europe, including the Netherlands, France and Turkey.
Over the last several weeks, Turkish authorities carried out raids across the country against suspected members of The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party–Front (DHKP-C). The Turkish government believes that DHKP-C was responsible for the United States embassy bomb attack on February 1. The terrorist organization also stated that it wanted the United States (US) Patriot missiles removed from Turkey. DHKP-C is also thought to be behind a number of attacks on Turkish police stations over the last six months. The police additionally targeted members of the Revolutionary Civil Servant Movement, a political group who they believe to have links with the DHKP-C.
On February 23, Palestinian prisoner Arafat Jaradat, aged 30, died while in custody in an Israeli prison. He had been arrested for throwing a stone which injured an Israeli citizen. Palestinian sources reported that he had been tortured while in prison prior to his death. The autopsy showed that he had suffered two broken ribs and had incurred sever bruising. The Israeli authorities believe this was done while he was being resuscitated. The armed wing of the Fatah movement, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, has declared that the incident will not go unpunished. In a statement the group said, "This horrific crime will not go unpunished and we promise the Zionist occupation that we will respond to this crime." In all probability there will likely be an increase in rocket attacks similar to the one reported on February 26, shattering a three month truce. Palestinian militants will also look to kidnap either an Israeli citizen or a member of the Israeli military in retribution for Jaradat's death.
On February 24, open source outlets reported that Border Guards in northern Jordan closed the Jordanian border to Syrian refugees after arresting a Syrian woman wearing an explosive vest. The purpose of her presence in Jordan is reported to have been to carry out terrorist acts in the country. The woman has been detained and is undergoing interrogation to learn who financed her operation. According to the Jordanian press, Jordanian security authorities are aware of threats to Jordan arising from the Syrian fighting. Some Syrian groups are attempting to smuggle arms and ammunition into Jordan in order to target security institutions and forces, as well as foreign and diplomatic buildings in the country. The Syrian militant groups are reported to use women to do some of the smuggling because they are not subjected to security checks. This is a common terrorist tactic in various parts of the world. Females are seen as taboo to search and are also viewed as trustworthy.
In addition, reports indicate that a new influx of heavier weapons have been sent across the Jordan/Syria border to assist the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The weapons are believed to be from the Gulf States. The Syrian security forces could react similar to their Jordanian counterparts and attempt to stop the flow of weapons from Jordan into Syria, attack Jordan directly through conventional military strikes, or support terrorist operations inside of the Jordanian capital of Amman.
Open source outlets report that Iran is fomenting the current unrest in Bahrain. Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is accused of setting up a militant cell to carry out attacks and assassinations inside Bahrain. The cell is reported to use the code name Abu Nasser. Abu Nasser's targets inside Bahrain are thought to include Bahrain International Airport and the Ministry of Interior. On February 17, Bahraini authorities arrested eight people who had links with Iraqi Shi'ite militant groups, Iranian security forces, and the Lebanese Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah. The Bahraini authorities stated that the intended target of the militants was the causeway linking Saudi Arabia to Bahrain. All of the militants are reported to have attended training camps in Iran and Iraq. They were also attempting to find volunteers and locations to store weapons. This is not the first time that Iran has been accused of fueling unrest in Bahrain, and these arrests indicate that Iran may be increasing its operational intensity against targets in Bahrain and the Persian Gulf region.
There have been a number of incidents reported in the area of Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan. The militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (Army of Jhangvi), a designated terrorist group by the Pakistani and United States governments, is thought to be responsible for these series of attacks. The organization has carried out a number of attacks since it was formed in 1996 and it particularly targets Shi’ite civilians and those who protect them. The terrorist group reportedly has ties to Islamist organizations throughout the region, including: the Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), Sipah-e-Sahaba, Harakat ul-Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), al-Qaeda, and Jundallah.
Violence has been increasing in Pakistan as the country prepares for general elections which are scheduled for May 13. Suicide attacks and attacks where Islamist militants are dressed as policemen, are likely to continue in order to disrupt the electoral process. The attacks will also likely attempt to show that the Pakistani government is inept, and that the Pakistani people should follow sharia law advocated by the militants. On February 19, the Pakistani authorities declared that they had killed four terrorists and arrested seven others in connection with a February 16 attack in the restive, southwestern city of Quetta where 89 people were killed.
A new militant group referring to itself as the “Deccan Mujahedeen” (DH) has recently come back to the attention of the Indian authorities. An organization calling itself DH claimed responsibility for the November 26, 2008 attack on Mumbai. This was later disproved as a hoax to mislead Indian security forces after it was revealed that Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind the Mumbai attacks. Following the recent death of the operative Shahid Bilal, and the arrest of his compatriot Riazuddin Nasir, both of whom belonged to the terrorist group, Harkat-ul-Jihadi, Indian authorities believed that there was a "terrorist vacuum" in southeast India.
Indian Islamist militants subsequently established a presence in the southeastern Indian city of Hyderabad. A member of DH is reported to have told Indian security forces that the Islamist militant organization was planning attacks targeted against government offices and hydro projects in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Indian authorities are concerned that DH makes strong connections with other Indian Islamist militant groups. India faces threats from several Islamist militant groups and a large Maoist insurgency. On February 22, there were two large explosions in Hyderabad in which sixteen people were killed. No group has thus far claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst at 361 Security