Egypt/Da’esh – ISIS have unveiled a new jihadi training camp in the Egyptian desert as the group continues to pose a threat in the Sinai Peninsula it was reported on the 6 Feb 16. Some images were taken at the Abu Hajr al-Masri training camp, named after a former Egyptian jihadi and is situated in the remote Sinai desert. The small group of recruits are shown practicing with weapons and undergoing fitness training. All of the fighters appear to be wearing the same matching black robes and beige coloured balaclavas to obscure their identity. They are pictured handling machine guns and practicing military tactics in different formations. Some of the fighters are shown tackling an assault course, including jumping through burning metal hoops and crawling along the ground. There have been calls for Egypt to increase security following the rise of violence, particularly with the growing threat of an ISIS franchise in Sinai. Although the British Foreign Office warns that there is a 'high threat from terrorism', it still does not advise against travel to Red Sea Resorts such as Sharm and Hurghada, as well as the tourist areas along the Nile, such as Luxor, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings.
Libya/Da’esh – The Islamic State is building an "army of the poor" in its new haven in Libya by recruiting foot soldiers from Africa's poorest nations, Libyan intelligence chiefs said on the 1 Feb 16. The terror group’s Libyan chapter is swelling its ranks by offering cash bounties of up to $1,000 to people from impoverished neighbouring countries such as Chad, Mali and Sudan. In countries where many earn barely $1 a day, even a few hundred dollars is the equivalent of a year's salary. Libyan officials admit that they are almost powerless to stop the incomers, many of whom reach Libya using existing people-smuggling routes used by African migrants heading to Europe. ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is copying a strategy first used by Libya's late dictator, Colonel Gaddafi, who recruited thousands of mercenaries from black Africa to serve in his armies and to suppress the revolution that overthrew him five years ago. In much the same way, the Islamic State's new "Caliphate" in Colonel Gaddafi's home city of Sirte now has a growing number of black African fighters alongside the Iraqis and Syrians who make up its core leadership. Colonel Muncif al Walda, a senior police officer in the nearby city of Misrata, told a British newspaper: "Illegal immigration is a menace because it brings and encourages foreign fighters to come and fight with ISIL. "Most of the migrants want to go to Europe, but some want to link up with ISIL. Unfortunately, here in Libya we are right in the middle of the migration rat run." Libyan officials spoke out as Britain and America increased their pressure on Libya's new government to accept Western military help in tackling the growing ISIL threat. Both Downing Street and the Pentagon have offered Tripoli a package that would involve up to 1,000 British troops and 5,000 Italian troops in a training role. The Libyan government is anxious about the political impact of "Western boots on the ground", but diplomats fear that Libyan security forces - although well-versed in guerrilla fighting in war to topple Gaddafi - are not up to tackling ISIL alone. Since first establishing a foothold in Sirte a year ago, ISIL is believed to have built up an army of between 2,000 and 3,000 fighters, turning the port city into a Libyan version of the group's Syrian stronghold of Raqqah. Colonel Ismail Shukri, the head of military intelligence in Misrata, told the British newspaper that around 70 per cent of ISIL's army in Sirte was made up of non-Libyans. "The majority - I cannot tell you exactly how many - are Tunisians, while the rest are made up mostly of Sudanese, Egyptians and then people from the Sub-Saharan countries stretching from Chad and Nigeria, along with a few from Algeria and the Gulf," he said. ""Sadly, we have big open borders and long open areas, and through the routes for illegal immigration, we now have all this ideology coming through. That is one of the reasons why ISIL has come to Libya." Jamal Zubia, head of the foreign media directorate in Libya's General National Congress, added: "We hear that ISIL is offering people up to $1,000 to come and fight for them. That is a lot of money in many parts of Africa." Locals in Sirte say that sub-Saharan Africans are now a common sight among ISIL's volunteers. In April 2015r, a man described as Sudanese drove an explosive-laden vehicle into a checkpoint between Sirte and Misrata, killing at least six people. Pictures of other black Africans killed in action fighting for ISIL in Sirte have also appeared on Libyan social media.
Somalia – Investigators were examining the cause of an explosion that blew a large hole in the fuselage of a commercial aircraft, forcing an emergency landing minutes after take-off in the Somali capital, Mogadishu it was reported on the 3 Feb 16. An aviation expert who looked at photographs of the hole said the damage was consistent with an explosive device. Two people were slightly injured late on the 2 Feb 16 as 74 passengers and crew of the airliner were evacuated after it made a safe landing, Somali aviation official Ali Mohamoud said. Somalia's ambassador to the United Nations, Awale Kullane, was on board the plane. He posted video of the incident on Facebook. The airliner belonged to Dubai-based Daallo Airlines and had just taken off from Mogadishu's Aden Adde Airport on its way to Djibouti. Aviation website www.airlive.net said the explosion occurred on flight D3159, an Airbus A321. "I think it was a bomb," the flight's Serbian captain Vladimir Vodopivec, 64, was quoted as saying. "Luckily, the flight controls were not damaged so I could return and land at the airport," Vodopivec said. Officials at Somalia's civil aviation authority said on Wednesday they had found no evidence so far of a criminal act, and a preliminary report will be issued later this week. John Goglia, a former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board, agreed the damage caused looked like it was from a bomb blast. "We don't know a lot, but certainly it looks like a device," he said. Only two causes could explain the hole seen in photos circulated online: a bomb, or a pressurisation blowout caused by a flaw or fatigue in the plane's skin, said Goglia. The photos appear to show black residue around the peeled back metal suggesting an explosive device went off, Goglia added.
361 COMMENT: At the initial report regarding this incident, authorities are not admitting to anything at the moment. However, the pictorial evidence and a number of open source reports are preliminarily reporting the incident was an explosive device. With the Egyptian airline attack it was later claimed that one of the mechanics had a cousin who had links to a leading terrorist group in Egyptian/Sinai and Da’esh and claimed responsibility, but again at this point it was too early to speculate. COMMENT ENDS
Somalia/al-Shabaab – A wheelchair bound suicide bomber may have been responsible for the explosion which tore a hole in the side of a jet in Somalia, investigators have said on the 4 Feb 16. They said the suspected terrorist, thought to be part of the Al-Shabaab Islamist group, may have faked a disability to bypass security checks at Mogadishu airport. The suspected bomber is thought to be the man who was sucked out of the plane after blowing a hole in the fuselage. Investigators have said he may have smuggled a bomb on board the plane in his wheelchair before moving to a different seat once on board, a Western diplomat briefed on the investigation told an American newspaper. Investigators believe Somali based terror group Al Shabaab was behind the suspected bomb blast. But no group, including Al Shabaab, has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Traces of explosive TNT was found on the aircraft, according to two U.S. government sources that cited forensic tests. But one of them cautioned that such tests have a high false-positive rate and further tests are under way. The charred body of a man, who may have fallen from the plane, was found in Balad, 18 miles from Mogadishu. The Somali government says an investigation has begun and said that foreign technical experts were involved in the inquiry. Aviation sources have suggested the aircraft was delayed leaving Mogadishu meaning the suspected bomb, if it was on a timer, went off at a lower altitude, giving the passengers on board a greater chance of survival. John Goglia, former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board, said only a bomb or a pressurisation blow out caused by fatigue could cause such a hole in the side of the aircraft. However, the black soot around the hole would indicate a bomb. He said the incident happened before the aircraft hit its cruising altitude which would reduce the possibility of a pressurisation event. He added: 'We don't know a lot, but certainly it looks like a device.'
Somalia/Air Attack – An explosion that occurred aboard a passenger plane after it took off from Somalia's main airport on the 2 Feb 16, forcing it to make an emergency landing, was caused by a bomb, officials said, adding they had made arrests. "Additional investigations conducted by Somali and international experts have confirmed the explosion that occurred inside the Daallo Airlines jet was not a technical problem but was a bomb that was intended to destroy the plane and kill all passengers onboard," Somali Transport and Aviation Minister Ali Ahmed Jama told a press conference in Mogadishu. "The security forces have detained people suspected of having involved the bomb that exploded inside that plane." A passenger identified as Abdulahi Abdisalam was killed, probably after being propelled out of the aircraft in the explosion, investigators said.
Somalia Air Attack – Extraordinary CCTV footage has emerged of the alleged suspected bomber of a Somali plane at the exact moment when he is being handed a laptop in which the explosives were concealed (7 Feb 16). The video, released by Somali intelligence officials, shows a passenger being given a laptop by two other men, one of whom is wearing a security jacket, after he passed through security. The National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) believe the passenger is the suicide bomber who was blown from the Daallo Airlines jet. It is believed the laptop-like device was the bomb that caused the explosion. The plane's pilot said that if the explosion happened when the aircraft was at a higher altitude it could have caused the jet to crash. 'There are investigations going on and about 15 people have been arrested so far in connection with the incident,' a Somali security official said. 'The initial investigation results indicate that the bomb was planted in a laptop and was carried by one of the passengers. 'A CCTV camera recorded some of the activities and the attack is believed to have been coordinated by a network of individuals, many of whom have been arrested and are being investigated,' the source added.
Somalia Air Attack – Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in East Africa, has claimed responsibility for bombing an airliner bound for Djibouti on the 2 Feb 16. The statement, which was released in English on social media, can be seen by following the link (13 Feb 16). “The operation is part of a series of operations specifically targeting the Western and apostate intelligence infrastructure,” Shabaab claims. “Acting on accurate intelligence and extensive surveillance by [Shabaab] intelligence teams,” the statement reads, Shabaab “carried out the airborne operation as a retribution for the crimes committed by the coalition of Western crusaders and their intelligence agencies against the Muslims of Somalia and so as to staunch the flow of Western crusaders into this Muslim land.” The group does not explain how the bomb supposedly targeted specific Western intelligence officials or their allies. The blast also failed to kill anyone on the jet other than the jihadist who carried it on board. Shabaab recognizes that the attack was not exactly a success: “And while the operation did not bring down the plane as Allah had decreed, it struck terror in the hearts of the crusaders, demonstrating to the disbelievers that despite all their security measures and the strenuous efforts they make to conceal their presence, the Mujahideen can and will get to them.” The bomb was reportedly concealed in a laptop and may have been undetected by airport X-rays. (It is not clear if the laptop was passed through an X-ray machine or around one.) Officials have released video footage showing the laptop being passed from one person to another at the airport beforehand. Shabaab does not provide any specific details concerning the bomb, or the “intelligence” officials who were supposedly targeted. But the group is eager to portray the failed attack as part of longer war between the jihadists and their adversaries in the CIA, British intelligence, and Israel’s Mossad. The passengers on the Daallo Airlines plane, including the suicide bomber who blew a hole in it, were originally scheduled to board a Turkish Airlines flight that was cancelled. Shabaab implies that Turkey is a legitimate target. “Turkey – a member of NATO and one of [the] principal partners of the West in its war against Islam – is actively engaged in a destructive form of economic warfare against the Muslims of Somalia,” the statement reads. “Through seemingly benign projects, Turkey is gradually destroying the already fragile economy of the Muslims of Somalia, all in order to bolster the Western war effort and deprive the Muslims of their critical, yet extremely limited, resources.”
Somalia/al-Shabaab – Al-Shabaab have raised the black flag of tawheed over the strategic port city of Marka after a surprise offensive against African Union troops. The al-Qaeda affiliated terror group took control of the southern city early morning on the 6 Feb 16. Residents have confirmed that despite repeated counter-attacks from African Union troops and the Somalia National Army, al-Shabaab remain in control of the city for now. 'We now control Marka police station and the entire town. AMISOM left the town early this morning,' Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's spokesman for military operations, told Reuters. Residents said the militant Islamist group raised its flags inside the city, which is situated 60 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of Mogadishu. The jihadis also used megaphones to tell all residents to come to the centre of the city and started to preach to residents about their radical brand of Islam. Local police officer Hussein Elmi said they had moved out of the town to the outskirts without giving a reason for the move. Kenyan troops, part of an African Union (AU) force in Somalia (AMISOM), took heavy losses when al Shabaab launched a dawn raid on their camp near the Kenyan border on 15 Jan 16. The border attack prompted the Kenyan and Somali forces to abandon some positions.