Egypt – Eleven police officers were killed and four others were wounded when their vehicle triggered a landmine, emplaced by unidentified Islamist militants, near the town of Rafah in North Sinai Governorate on the 2 Sep 14. Reports stated that a number of police officers were shot as they attempted to flee following the initial mine detonation. Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis, or ABM) claimed credit for the bombing, in a video that was released on jihadist forums and obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Libya/Sudan – Libya has expelled the Sudanese military attaché after accusing Khartoum of flying weapons to Islamist rebels in Tripoli. The move raises fears that the disintegration of Libya may lead to a wider regional conflict. The Libya government, which has fled Tripoli after Islamists took over the city two weeks ago, accused Khartoum of sending a transport plane loaded with munitions for the Dawn militia -- a coalition Islamist militias formed to take over Libya. The government said the Sudanese plane entered Libyan airspace without permission on the 4 Sep 14, making a refuelling stop in the southern oasis town of Kufra, where the weapons were discovered. The government said the weapons were destined for the Tripoli airport of Mitiga, controlled by Libya Dawn. Sudan is one of only two Arab countries -- the other is Qatar -- which support Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Hamas.
Mali – At least four United Nations peacekeepers were killed and 15 wounded when their convoy hit a mine in northern Mali it was reported on the 2 Sep 14. The Chadian peacekeepers had been returning from the embattled town of Kidal, said Olivier Salgado, a spokesman for the force. Six were seriously wounded, he said.
Niger/United States – The Washington Post confirmed on the 1 Sep 14 that Nigerien president Mahamadou Issoufou had authorised the establishment of a US surveillance base in the northern region of Agadez. Agadez borders Mali (west), Algeria (northwest), Libya (north), and Chad (south). The region serves as a key transit route for trans-Saharan trafficking. It is also a hotspot for terrorist activity. In May 13, a double suicide attack targeted a Nigerien defence base outside Agadez town and a French-owned uranium mine in Arlit (200 km north of Agadez town). In 2010, four French workers were kidnapped in Arlit and later released following the alleged payment of a EUR20-million (USD26-million) ransom in October 2013.
Nigeria – Nigeria's militant Islamist group Boko Haram has seized the key north-eastern town of Bama after fierce fighting with government forces. Thousands of civilians have fled the town, along with soldiers. The military has not yet officially commented on the claim that it has lost control of Bama, the second biggest town in Borno state. During the last reporting period Boko Haram said it had established an Islamic state in areas it controls in north-eastern Nigeria. The claim was denied by the Nigerian authorities. If confirmed, the capture of Bama would be an extremely significant development and would raise concerns that Boko Haram's next target will be Maiduguri, the state capital about 70km (45 miles) away say sources. If it was captured it would be the biggest town under Boko Haram control. The military had initially repelled Boko Haram's assault, but the group returned with reinforcements to seize the town showing that the group has operational depth. The militants, who travelled in armoured trucks, first took control of the military barracks. Several security sources said Boko Haram had over-run much of Bama and there were heavy casualties on both sides.
Boko Haram has captured the key north-eastern town of Michika gaining more territory in its efforts to create its Islamic state it was reported on the 8 Sep 14. Boko Haram has changed tactics in recent months by holding on to territory rather than launching hit-and-run attacks. No doubt encouraged by events in Libya and in Iraq/Syria. Last month (Aug 14), Boko Haram said it had established an Islamic state in areas it controls in north-eastern Nigeria.
Nigeria's militant Islamists have "completely surrounded" Maiduguri, the main city in north-eastern Borno state, traditional elders have warned on the 12 Sep 14. The military needed to "fortify" the city, which had a population of more than two million, to prevent an assault "from all directions", they said. The Boko Haram militants had "annexed" areas that were about 50km (30 miles) from Maiduguri. Without mentioning the statement issued by the Borno Elders Forum (BEF), the defence ministry has dismissed "alarmist" reports on Maiduguri. On its Twitter account, it said "Security Arrangements for the Defence of Maiduguri has been upgraded to handle any planned attack". The BEF represents influential people in the state, including former government ministers and civil servants. "We are convinced that the Federal Government of Nigeria has not shown sufficient political will to fight Boko Haram and rescue us from the clutches of the insurgents which may ultimately lead to the total annihilation of the inhabitants of Borno," BEF said. "The insurgents have rendered impassable almost all the roads leading to Maiduguri," it added. "The insurgents have surrounded Maiduguri and are nursing the ambition of attacking the city from all directions," BEF said.
Somalia – The Somali Islamist leader who ordered last year's Westgate shopping mall massacre in Kenya is believed to have been killed in a US drone strike it was reported on the 2 Sep 14. Ahmed Abde Godane, the leader of the al-Shabaab militant group, is thought to have been targeted by a salvo of missiles as he left a meeting of the group's senior leaders on the 1 Sep 14. The US military said it was still trying to verify whether the 37-year-old had died in the attack, but witnesses spoke of a sound like an "earthquake" as missiles hit a forested region in Somalia's Sablale forest district, 105 miles south of Mogadishu. Godane, who is one of al-Shabaab's most feared figures, gave his personal backing to last September's Westgate atrocity in Nairobi. In a statement released shortly after the attacks, he threatened further terrorist mayhem in Kenya unless it agreed to pull its troops out. Godane, who also went by the name Abu Zubayr, was also listed by the US State Department as one of the world's most wanted terror fugitives, with a $7-million price tag on his head. On the 2 Sep 14 al-Shabaab officials declined to confirm whether Godane had indeed been killed. "Let the Americans say that they have killed Shabaab's leader. So far the Americans just gave us rumours," a senior Shabaab stated to the press. Another al-Shabaab spokesman, Abu Mohammed, said on the 2 Sep that Godane was in one of two vehicles hit in the attack, which he said killed six militants, but declined to say if Godane was among them. The strike came as local al-Shabaab forces were on the back foot from a government offensive aimed at seizing key ports under militant control.
Al-Shabaab has named Ahmad Umar as successor to former leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed in a US air strike. The group announced the move in an online statement, vowing to take revenge for Godane's death. Somalia's authorities earlier put the country on alert for possible retaliatory attacks by al-Shabaab. The alert came as the US confirmed the death of Godane in air strikes south of Mogadishu on the evening of 1 Sep 14. Little is known about Ahmad Umar, who is also known as Abu Ubaidah. Abu Mohammed, one of al-Shabaab's commanders, said the decision to appoint him was unanimous. In a statement, al-Shabaab also warned: "Avenging the death of our scholars and leaders is a binding obligation on our shoulders that we will never relinquish nor forget no matter how long it takes." "By the permission of Allah, you will surely taste the bitter consequences of your actions." The announcement of the new leader came just minutes after al-Shabaab themselves confirmed the death of Godane. Earlier on the 6 sep 14 Somali National Security Minister Kalif Ahmed Ereg told reporters: "Security agencies have obtained information indicating that al-Shabaab is now planning to carry out desperate attacks against medical facilities, education centres and other government facilities."
Ahmed Abdi Godane:
- US put $7m (£4m) bounty on his head in 2012
- Pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2009
- Became al-Shabaab's top commander after US air strike killed his predecessor Aden Hashi Ayro in 2008
- Sentenced to death in absentia for 2008 attack in Somaliland's capital, Hargeisa
- Studied in Sudan and Pakistan, where he became radicalised
- Said to have fought in Afghanistan
- Was reputed to be a good orator and poet
- Also known as Mukhtar Abu Zubair
A suicide car bomber has killed 12 people in an attack aimed at African Union (AU) troops in Somalia it was reported on the 8 Sep 14. A car laden with explosives was rammed into an AU convoy travelling south-west of the capital, Mogadishu. This is the first attack since militant Islamist group al-Shabaab vowed to avenge the killing of its leader Ahmed Abdi Godane recently. The attack took place on the road between Mogadishu and Afgoye town, some 30km (19 miles) from the capital. The car packed with explosives hit one of the armoured trucks. 361 COMMENT: Although the death of twelve people is sad this will be a normal operation carried out by the group. If indeed it is true to its word the retaliation for the death of its previous leader will be some type of spectacular aimed at a country who supported the operation. COMMENT ENDS
Uganda – The authorities in Uganda have uncovered a terrorist cell which they believe was planning an imminent attack, the US embassy in Kampala said on the 13 Sep 14. It said the cell belonged to Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab, but this had yet to be confirmed by Ugandan police. Ugandan police say they have increased security in public places across Kampala, and made several arrests. Earlier during the reporting period the US embassy warned of possible revenge attacks against US targets by al-Shabaab in response to the US air strike that killed the group's leader Ahmed Abdi Godane on the 2 Sep 14. In addition to making several arrests, the police said they had seized explosive materials. 361 COMMENT: In previous reports Uganda has stated that it had increased its alert state due to warnings from the terrorist group that it was to launch operations in Uganda. It is doubtful that the threat towards the American embassy was anything to do with the death of Abdi Godane. COMMENT ENDS