Afghanistan – On April 3, a Taliban suicide team attacked a courthouse in the western city of Farah in an attempt to release Taliban prisoners who were on trial. The group dressed in Afghan National Army uniforms, and four of the insurgents were wearing suicide vets. Although the Taliban has carried out other raids on various Afghan government buildings and NATO offices, not all of the raids have had insurgents wearing Afghan army uniforms.
As NATO hands over areas to the Afghan army prior to its withdrawal in 2014, the ability of the Taliban to obtain military uniforms, and carry out further attacks similar to this one, will become more likely. Security in the country will decline, as it did in Iraq when coalition forces were in the process of leaving the country. In addition to coordinated attacks, the use of Illegal Vehicle Check Points (IVCPs) will also be put into use by the insurgents. Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) will especially be at risk from IVCPs.
On April 12, a group of approximately 200 Taliban fighters over-ran an Afghan military border post near the border with Pakistan. With the withdrawal of NATO forces, and the fact that Afghans have no air support, well-planned and executed attacks of this nature will increase. Taliban forces know this, and are more likely to use tactics like this to overwhelm government forces and kill numerous soldiers. In time, the Taliban could grow bold enough to attempt to overwhelm entire villages and cities with these types of attacks.
Maldives – A report by the West Point Military Academy in the United States, Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) has stated that there is a strong possibility of rising extremism in the Maldives. There have been growing incidents of Maldivians joining overseas jihadist groups. The report observes that with growing religious extremism and political uncertainty, these two factors could have a very detrimental effect on the tourism industry of the country, which would be devastating to its economy. There have been several violent attacks on liberal activists and other citizens who have been outspoken advocates for social change. Sunni Islam is the majority religion of the Maldives. Freedom of religion is restricted, and non-Muslims are banned from voting, obtaining citizenship and holding public positions.
It is possible that certain Maldivian individuals will attempt to establish a militant organization in the country. The Maldives close proximity to nations such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, and Iran, and the country’s archipelago geography, would not make it difficult for a militant group to set up a supply and logistical route and to liaison with other groups in the region to orchestrate attacks.
Pakistan – On April 2, an attack against an electricity plant on the outskirts of Peshawar resulted in numerous people being killed, and some taken hostage. The area in and around the city of Peshawar has seen numerous recent terrorist attacks, although the latest attack appears to be the most well-planned and executed. The militant group that carried out the attack had approximately forty fighters armed with Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), and had planted explosives at the plant. Workers and police were severely tortured prior to being killed. No group claimed responsibility, but it is possible that the Pakistan Taliban, which is known to carry out attacks in the area of Peshawar, were responsible. Although details about the Peshawar attack are still developing, it is possible that the attackers learned from the al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) attack on the Algiers, Algeria oil/gas field on January 16, and used that attack as a blue-print for this operation. Militant groups may view the success and propaganda value of the Algiers incident as a successful model that they can follow.
Sri Lanka – The United States ambassador has expressed concern regarding attacks against Muslims on the island. In recent months attacks by Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalist groups have targeted Muslim places of worship and businesses, and a number of hate speeches have been made against Islam. Although the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ended after the Tamil Tigers were defeated by government troops in 2009, but has unrest still persists in the country. This latest development will no doubt fuel unrest in the country, severely inhibiting the progressively improving state of civil peace in Sri Lanka. Muslims, both Moor and Malay ethnic Muslims are approximately 7% of the country’s population, will not suffer agitation against them for long, and will at some stage retaliate, which will only lead to a cycle of violence and retribution against them.
Taiwan – An incendiary device placed on a high speed train which contained five liters of liquid (gasoline) and a triggering device (timer), was found recently. At the time of writing, no group had claimed responsibility (nor did the train company know of any threats) for the device which would have reportedly destroyed an entire train car had it exploded. During the 1970s, a group known as the “World United Formosans for Independence” (WUFI) sought to establish an independent and democratic Republic of Taiwan, with membership composed of students. The group was mostly active in Japan and the United States. WUFI did not carry out any terrorist act campaigns except for one of its members’ attempted assassination of the Republic of China’s Vice-Premier Chiang Ching-kuo in New York on April 24, 1970. The group prefers to champion its cause by peaceful means, and is presently an active political organization. The device that was found does not fit the tactics of this group. A train car is also not the type of target that the North Koreans would target, so it is a mystery as to who could have planted such a device.
Thailand – During the reporting period, a bomb blast killed two top Thai provincial officials in the southern Yala Province. The deputy governor of Yala and the permanent secretary responsible for provincial security were killed in the bombing. The bombing attack came a week after formal talks had been engaged between the Thai government officials and ethnic Malay rebels. Talks between the Thai government and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Patani (BRN) militant group have been on going, with the next round scheduled for April 29.
It is reported that the blast was caused by a road side bomb consisting of a gas cylinder filled with explosives, but it is not clear at this time if the explosive was detonated by a command wire or remote control. In the past, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) perfected culvert attacks, where explosive material was placed in pipes that led under a road. This type of tactic isn’t widely utilized by militant groups globally, although it was practiced in some attacks in Iraq by insurgent groups. It is possible that the BRN, or a break-away faction, utilized a culvert attack to apply pressure to the negotiations.
Paul Ashley is the Senior Counter-Terrorist Analyst at 361 Security