The Cameroonian air force executed its first air strikes against Boko Haram fighters to help stabilize security in northern Cameroon on the Nigerian border it was reported on the 30 Dec 14. According to army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Didier Badjeck, about 1,000 Boko Haram fighters made coordinated attacks against five villages near Amchide and penetrated a nearby military base where they raised their black flag. President Paul Biya personally ordered the air force attacks to force the terrorists out of the base. With air support the armed forces repelled the attackers and regained control of the base. One soldier died in the fighting, but 41 terrorists were killed in separate clashes. In a statement, Cameroon's Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary said the multiple attacks showed that Boko Haram had adopted a new strategy aimed at "distracting Cameroonian troops on different fronts, making them more vulnerable in the face of the mobility and unpredictability of their attacks." Last week, Cameroon said it had dismantled a Boko Haram training camp on its territory, and had recovered 84 children who were being trained there. The fire fight at the Cameroonian army base was a first in several respects. It was the first large scale attack by Boko Haram in Cameroon, according to open source reports. It was the first such attack against the Cameroonian army, which signifies several things. It means the Nigerian accusations about the Cameroonians tolerating Boko Haram are groundless. It also means that Cameroonian operations against Boko Haram have damaged them sufficiently to warrant a main force, conventional attack, which Boko Haram lost. Finally, the Cameroonians did not run or abandon their base. President Biya responded swiftly enough so that forces on the ground retook the base when the air support arrived. Cameroonian forces don't have US ground support capabilities or doctrine, but evidently they do know how to coordinate operations adequately. They also seem willing to stand and fight. (KGS Night Watch 30 Dec 14)
Egypt – Egyptian police killed five members of the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis militant group during clashes on the 21 Dec 14. The terrorists were located at a farm where they were preparing explosive devices and opened fire on the security forces when they were raided. The farm was located in the Nile Delta province of Sharqiya, northeast of Cairo, far from the Sinai Peninsula where Egyptian forces launched an offensive against Islamist militants in Oct 14. The police found a weapons cache, ammunition, suicide belts and a vehicle laden with explosives which was detonated at the farm location by remote control. Three of the militants killed in the raid were identified as Abdel Fattah Ayed Marzouk Salman, Hamdeen Salman Saad and Mouaz Ibrahim Abdel Rahman; the son of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis leader Ibrahim Abdel Rahman who is currently in prison. 361 COMMENT: The Egyptian authorities had good intelligence and have probably thwarted a major terrorist attack on the capital. This cell, which has now been eradicated, may have others but the impact of an attack is less likely at the moment. COMMENT ENDS
Libya – A Bank in the Libyan capital Tripoli on the 21 Dec 14 was robbed by gunmen, stealing seven million Libyan Dinars (five million U.S. dollars), according to a bank official. The official told Xinhua that a number of gunmen came in two cars and attacked the bank, located in downtown Tripoli, stealing seven million Libyan Dinars before leaving. "The attack was sudden and fast. The gunmen, who were carrying many weapons, surrounded the main gate of the bank and threatened to kill staff if they follow them." The official added. The largest armed bank robbery in Libya is in the city of Sirte last year, when a group of gunmen attacked a vehicle of the Libyan central bank carrying money to Sirte branch. The money stolen was about 50 million Libyan Dinars (35.7 million dollars) along with foreign currencies. 361 COMMENT: The theft may have been a criminal act due to the lack of security and policing in the country. On the other hand this could have been a major theft to fund a terrorist campaign or to purchase weapons from those militias who hold them. No other information is available to assess this theft any further. COMMENT ENDS
Libyan fighters fired rockets from speedboats in a dramatic night attack to try to seize control of the country’s largest oil terminal it was reported on the 26 Dec 14. The surprise attack on the oil terminal at the port of al-Sidra came from militiamen from Libya Dawn, an umbrella group of Islamist fighters. Footage on Libyan television on the 26 Dec showed two enormous storage tanks in the oil terminal, located in the east of the country engulfed in flames. Sources in Misrata said the fighters managed to land their speedboats on shore and even reach the perimeter of a storage tank before running out of ammunition and having to retreat. Libya Dawn is allied to the self-appointed Islamist government now controlling Tripoli. The oil terminals are currently held by the weak, but internationally-recognised parliament that has fled to the eastern border city of Tobruk. The war has also taken on regional dimensions with Libya Dawn reportedly receiving support from Qatar, which has long sponsored the Muslim Brotherhood. Meanwhile, the Tobruk government has aligned itself with Khalifa Haftar, a former general in the Gaddafi regime, who is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt - both rivals of Qatar.
Nigeria – Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped more than 100 women and children and killed 35 people during a raid on the remote northeast Nigerian village of Gumsuri, security source’s claimed on the 18 Dec 14. They gathered the people, shot dead over 30 people and took away more than 100 women and children in two open-top trucks.
A new video from Boko Haram extremists shows gunmen shooting civilians lying face down in a dormitory and a leader saying they are being killed because they are “infidels.” The video, released to journalists late on the 20 Dec 14, comes two days after fleeing villagers reported that the extremists were rounding up older adults and killing them in two schools in Gwoza, in northeast Nigeria. “From now, killing, slaughtering, destructions and bombing will be our religious duty anywhere we invade,” the gunmen’s leader says in the video. “This is not the right time for us to keep prisoners.” The setting appears to be a school, which the leader says is in Bama, a town 40 miles north of Gwoza. Details about the shooting in the video were not available.
Somalia – The African Union (AU) force in Somalia says three of its peacekeepers and a civilian contractor had been killed in an attack on its headquarters in the capital, Mogadishu reports claimed on the 25 Dec 14. An AU statement said al-Shabab gunmen had entered the base disguised as Somali government troops. The peacekeeping force, known as AMISOM said its troops had regained control of the base in Mogadishu after a gunfight that lasted several hours. The AU base is on the edge of the compound of Mogadishu's international airport. The base also hosts the British and Italian embassies and is used as the headquarters for United Nations operations in Somalia.
Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi surrendered to police in the Gedo region it was reported by news agencies on the 27 Dec 14. A leader of the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab, who has a $3million (£1.9million) bounty on his head, has surrendered in Somalia. Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi surrendered to police in the Gedo region, claimed an anonymous Somali intelligence officer. He said Hersi might have surrendered because he fell out with those loyal to Ahmed Godane, al-Shabab's top leader who was killed in a US air strike earlier this year. Hersi was one of eight senior al-Shabab men for whom the US offered a total $33million (£21million) in rewards for information leading to their capture in 2012. 361 COMMENT: If Hersi has fallen out with the other leaders then his surrender/defection could be very damaging to the group. The debrief will be very interesting and the Somalian authorities will want to know as much as they can. The information/intelligence gained will be of use to other countries in the area not least those that contribute to the African Union who have troops in Somalia. It will be interesting to follow events even more so now as the intelligence cycle kicks in with the new knowledge gleaned from Hersi. Shortly after Hersi gave himself up the United States conducted an air strike on a “senior leader” Intelligence Chief Tahlil Abdishakur who was part of a unit responsible for suicide attacks it was confirmed by US defence chiefs. This may have been coincidence but the timing does seem to be a little odd. It remains to be seen if the terrorist group will now have a major restructuring and how the latest removal of a senior figure of the group and a defection will effect their operations. However, at some point their will no doubt be a reprisal. Where and when will be what to look for next? COMMENT ENDS