Kenya – Police on the 2 Mar 15 were placed on high alert following reports of a possible terror attack on its Parliament. Security had been heightened at all key government installations. Intelligence reports stated that at least 12 terror suspects were behind the plot. Six of them were in Nairobi while the locations of the other six are unknown. The attack was allegedly planned by Mohammed Mohamud, believed to head one of the arms of the al Shabaab militia group in Somalia. National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi confirmed that anti-terror measures had been taken. The reports come amid a request by the Embassy of Egypt for more security at all of its installations. The request was made on the 20 Feb 15. "The embassy kindly requests the relevant Kenyan authorities to take what it deems appropriate to upgrade and tighten security measures around Egyptian installations in Kenya," the letter reportedly says.
Libya – Libya's state-run National Oil Corporation has declared itself inoperable at 11 oil fields after a series of attacks by terrorists purportedly linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, and threatened to close all oil fields and ports if the country’s security situation does not improve. The force majeure - a legal step shielding the company from liability if it cannot fulfil contracts for reasons beyond its control - was announced on the 5 Mar 15 shortly after gunmen attacked the Dahra oil field near Libya's central coast. The attack on the oil field prompted a counterattack by government forces that included air strikes, said Mashallah al-Zewi, oil minister of the country's Tripoli-based government. The fighters on the 5 Mar swept down from Sirte to attack Dahra, trading fire with guards and blowing up residential and administrative buildings before retreating, said Zewi. Libya has sought permission from the United Nations to import 150 tanks, two dozen fighter jets, seven attack helicopters, tens of thousands of assault rifles and grenade launchers and millions of rounds of ammunition from Ukraine, Serbia and Czech Republic it was reported on the 5 Mar 15. In the written request to the U.N. Security Council committee overseeing an arms embargo imposed upon the North African state Libya said it needs the massive shipment of weapons and military equipment to take on Islamic State militants and other extremists and to control its borders.
Terrorist gunmen attacked Libya’s al-Ghani oilfield on the 6 Mar 15, killing 11 guards, beheading some of them, before local forces fought back to retake control, an oil security official said. The state-run National Oil Corporation in Tripoli said unidentified gunmen attacked al-Ghani from the north on Friday, causing “massive damage” without further details. Oil security forces, allied with Thinni’s eastern government, said on Friday they had retaken control of al-Ghani after the attack which killed at least 11 guards. Hassi said they were also now in control of Mabrouk, Bahi and Dahra oilfields in the central Sirte basin, which were attacked by Islamist militants over the last week.
Militants loyal to Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group claimed a bomb attack on a police checkpoint in the Libyan capital on the 15 Mar 15. A car bomb also exploded in the western city of Misrata. No one claimed responsibility immediately but the bomb targeted a force tasked with fighting ISIS militants. Also, a bag of explosives went off at a checkpoint next to a Janzour security building, a Tripoli suburb, injuring five policemen. ISIS militants published on social media a picture of what they said was the site of the explosion. In a suburb of Misrata, a car bomb exploded in front of a camp of a faction called 166 battalion, killing one person. The force has been tasked with fighting ISIS militants in Sirte, a central city. Clashes broke out between the two groups on the 14 Mar 15 east of Sirte.
Over 5,000 foreign fighters have flocked to Libya to join the ranks of radical Islamist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS), according to the country’s foreign minister, Mohammed al-Dairi and reported by Jihad Watch on the 14 Mar 15. Al-Dairi, in comments made to the Libyan news outlet The Libya Herald, said there were many “terrorist leaders” who had arrived in the country from foreign countries, joining terror groups such as ISIS and Ansar al-Sharia. In a recruitment video released last week, an ISIS militant called for jihadists from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Egypt to immigrate to Libya. Last month, Libya’s army spokesperson also claimed that the biggest ISIS camp in the country was situated just 45km (27.9 miles) from the Tunisian border and a number of Tunisian foreign fighters had carried out suicide bomb attacks in the eastern city of Benghazi. ISIS have allegedly appointed two emirs, both foreign nationals, to oversee both sides of the country. The ‘Emir of Tripoli’, a Tunisian known as Abu Talha, controls the group’s operations in the west and a Yemeni national Abu al-Baraa el-Azdi, based in the town of Derna, which the group control. Mohamed Eljarh, Libyan analyst and non-resident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Centre for the Middle East, says that fighters entering Libya from other countries is part of ISIS’s plan to gain more territory in the country. “I believe that this is part of the Islamic State’s strategy,” he says. “They are seeking to overtake territory, entire cities and towns and entire states. That is their strategy. The flow of fighters is in line with this strategy in order to take over failed states such as Libya, Iraq and Syria.” Al-Dairi also repeated the government’s call for the international community to help prevent the flock of jihadists to the country and the proliferation of terror in the country beset by unrest. Last month, Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni requested that the West launch air strikes against al-Qaeda and ISIS cells in the country.
Mali – Attackers killed five people in an attack on a restaurant in Mali's capital, including a French citizen and a Belgian security officer with the EU delegation in the country, authorities said on the 7 Mar 15. Mali's desert north, where French forces wrested control of territory from separatist rebels and al Qaeda-linked fighters, is plagued by frequent political violence, but this attack was first in years in Bamako, in the south. The attack began at around 1300 hrs local time and left nine people injured, said a senior security official, adding that two people had been arrested. There were two individuals who were armed and hooded. One burst into the La Terrasse restaurant and opened fire on people.
Nigeria – Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group already blamed for numerous horrific attacks in West Africa, posted a graphic video online on the 2 Mar 15 showing the apparent beheadings of two men who the group said were suspected spies. The six-minute video shows two men with their arms tied to their backs. They are made to face the camera on their knees, with another man towering over one of them brandishing a knife. The knife-wielding man reaches toward the throat of one of the kneeling men, then the video switches scenes to show what appear to be the bloody severed heads of the two men placed on their headless bodies. The SITE Intelligence group, which monitors extremist activities, released a translated transcript from the video, including what SITE called an "interrogation" of one of the two men. The man identifies himself as a farmer from the Nigerian town of Baga. He says he was told by a policeman that if he provided information about "the residents who live in here ... I will become rich and never go back to be a farmer again." The apparent beheadings then follow on the video. SITE said the video, which included Arabic, English and French subtitles, was posted online via Twitter and "borrows certain elements from productions" of beheadings by ISIS. The video was posted by the media division of Boko Haram, SITE said. In Oct 14, Boko Haram handed out a 10-minute video showing the decapitation of a Nigerian military pilot the group said it had seized a month earlier after shooting down his fighter jet during a mission against Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria. In Apr 14, the Islamist group released 16-minute video showing what it said was the beheading of a soldier its fighters captured in a battle in Sambisa forest, the group's main enclave. In Feb 14, another video showing the beheading of an alleged informant who led the military to a Boko Haram camp in Sambisa forest during an offensive was issued by the group. And in Feb 10, Boko Haram released a 12-minute video in which two policemen were beheaded in an undisclosed location. Those videos all ended with a speech from an "executioner" warning that the group would carry out similar punishment for anyone it captures supporting the Nigerian government against it. Observers of Boko Haram note that its actions in the past six months have frequently mimicked those of ISIS -- from punishments such as stoning and beheading of its victims to taking territory and an increasingly sophisticated use of social media that's very much in the ISIS "style." Jacob Zenn, who follows Boko Haram's operations and propaganda closely, recently said, "It's clear Boko Haram is leaning toward ISIS in terms of doctrine, ideology and an emphasis on holding territory after operations." In terms of ideology, Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, has said that kidnappings and hostage-taking are approved in the Quran, a claim ISIS also makes. "Our hostages are Christians or corrupted Muslims who follow the Christian way," he said last year, referring to schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria, most of whom remain missing. ISIS later referred to the Chibok abductions in its kidnapping of hundreds of Yazidi women and girls. Zenn and other analysts point out that recent Boko Haram videos have resembled the polished media productions of ISIS. Zenn notes they "have the same choreography and lens angles as ISIS." Boko Haram has begun using ISIS symbolism in its media productions and operations. The Nigerian press noted with alarm last July that Boko Haram militants had been seen raising ISIS' rayat al-uqab flag along the Nigerian-Cameroon border. Recent videos have featured the same flag.
This is vintage Nigerian military and political leadership behaviour, dating to the Biafra civil war. Nigerian leaders start scrambling for credit and recognition just when the security situation starts to get better. They brag and security conditions relapse. Nigerian political leaders in Abuja got seriously interested in fighting Boko Haram when leaders in the Francophone countries started to demand action. The incompetent Nigerian performance was causing ripple effects that damaged the economies of the neighbouring countries. Chad, Niger and Cameroon have deployed nearly 15,000 soldiers to the fight. The Nigerians never disclose their numbers. It is important to note that the Francophone countries with limited resources and some French and US advisory help rolled back Boko Haram in two months. What is striking is how easy it was and how limited were Boko Haram's actual military capabilities, vice its propensity for barbarism, against trained, disciplined and equipped military forces. The Chadians have eclipsed Nigerians as the go-to military power in west central and western Africa.
05 Mar 15 – Dozens killed in suspected Boko Haram attack in a village (Njaba) in the north of Nigeria.
07 Mar 15 – Suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers have killed at least 10 people in blasts at a market in Maiduguri, in Borno state in northeast Nigeria, two separate explosions targeted the market. The attack was claimed by Al-Murabitoun, Arabic for “The Sentinels”, an al-Qaeda splinter group led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, who became internationally notorious for masterminding the massacre of 40 hostages, including six Britons, at a gas plant in Algeria in 2013.
The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram on the 7 Mar 15 announced it was joining the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) by apparently releasing an audio statement swearing allegiance to the movement's leader. The declaration means that Isis can now add swaths of northern Nigeria to a self-declared caliphate that already stretches across Syria and Iraq. Earlier this year analysts noted the growing sophistication of videos released by the Nigerian group, suggesting the two jihadist networks were growing closer together. In an audio message posted on the group's Twitter account on the 7 Mar, it said: "We swear our allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims [Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi], and all hear and obey him in times of difficulty and prosperity, in hardship and in ease, and to endure being discriminated against..." The declaration of allegiance is the latest by a series of violent jihadist groups, including a number in Libya. But Boko Haram's 20,000 square miles of territory, from where it is able to launch attacks with ease, makes it one of the most important factions now flying the black ISIL flag. The message, apparently delivered by Boko Haram's leader Abubakar Shekau, goes on to call for the world's Muslims to unite. "We call on all Muslims everywhere to pledge allegiance to the Caliph and support him..." said the message in Arabic. 361 COMMENT: Although this is nothing new it is really about the timing of the renouncement that makes the news. Reports of Chad and Niger troops having successes over the terrorist group is probably behind this new announcement. They are attempting to place scare tactics into the equation in the hope that it will deter those who are fighting against them. The two countries mentioned have stepped up to the mark recently and Boko Haram is not having it all their own way as in Nigeria where they have encountered numerous successes. Now that they are on the back-foot they are attempting to show bravado by basically saying “my father is bigger than your father” in the hope that the threat against them dissolves. It will not. The Chad and Niger governments are operating well against the group and will not stop. All that’s needed is for Nigeria to join and close what could be a pincer movement and rid the region of a tiresome terrorist group that has got out of hand. COMMENT ENDS