Kenya/al-Shabaab – The leader of Al Shabaab’s local branch in Kenya threatened more violence inside the country during a recent lecture to soldiers at a training camp following last month’s attack on Kenyan troops in El Adde, Somalia the LWJ claimed on the 22 Feb 16. Al Shabaab is the official arm of al Qaeda in East Africa. The leader, Ahmed Iman Ali, also discussed the rationale for targeting the Kenyan troops in neighboring Somalia. “Know for sure that disaster has struck El Adde. The Kenyans were warned again and again and again,” Ali said, according to an English translation of a video released by the al Qaeda-linked Global Islamic Media Foundation (GIMF). Ali went on to say: “Right now as I speak to you, the only thing that I bought was my turban. My gun, my pouch and my uniform are all war booty from (Kenyan troops).” He then discussed crimes allegedly committed by the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF) in both Kenya and Somalia. “The first time our sister who was pregnant was thrown by the kuffar [apostates] from the third floor,” Ali said. “Another sister in the same area was also thrown from the top of a house until her spine broke. In Mandera, they came and kidnapped our mother who had five children and was their support.” The jihadist then threatened Kenya with future attacks by saying Shabaab will force Kenya to “change their flag by erasing all the colours except the red one as an indication of the blood that we will spill in Kenya.” He concluded his threat by stating “the Kenyans immersed themselves into a war whilst they did not fully comprehend the meaning of war.” In the video, Ali also directed his focus to the families of the killed KDF soldiers, as well. “If the family of the person owning this gun that is numbered 490 is looking for their son, let them know that I am now in possession of the war booty taken from him.” Additionally, he stated that “Any Kenyan who has lost their family members from the army that was defeated by the lions of Shabaab should contact us.” In discussing El Adde, Ali referenced last months attack on a Kenyan base in the southern Somalian town in which over 60 KDF troops were reportedly killed. Shabaab has put the number even higher at 100 KDF troops killed. Just a few days later, the KDF withdrew from El Adde and Shabaab captured the town.
Libya – US warplanes carried out air strikes targeting fighters aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Libya, killing dozens of people, possibly including a senior leader of the armed group. US military sources said the operation hit an ISIL training camp early on the 19 Feb 16 and was aimed at killing Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian accused of helping to organise two attacks on tourists last year. Peter Cook, Pentagon press secretary, said in a press conference that the operation was carried out in the North African country to prevent ISIL from carrying out "external attacks against US interests." We made it clear that we need to confront to ISIL wherever it rears its head," Cook said in Washington DC. "We feel confident that this was a successful strike." Cook said the training camp has been under surveillance for weeks. In a written statement, he earlier said the "destruction of the camp and Chouchane's removal will eliminate an experienced facilitator and is expected to have an immediate impact on ISIL's ability to facilitate its activities in Libya". It was reported that two F-15 US air force jets were involved in the attack. US President Barack Obama had pledged on Tuesday not to let ISIL build a base in Libya. A local Libyan official confirmed that a safe house was destroyed in the raid outside Sabratha, about 70km west of Tripoli, located near the border with Tunisia. "The raid killed 41 people who were all inside the house," Hussein al-Dawadi, an official in the city said. He said most of those who were killed were Tunisians, who were "probably members" of ISIL. Libyan authorities in Tunisia confirmed that Tunisians and Algerians were among the dead. At least six other Tunisians were reportedly injured. 361 COMMENT: This was an action with good intelligence but may have repercussions in the future. Da’esh in Libya will want to exact revenge at some point and possibly against tourists who will be holidaying somewhere along the North African coast. This is not to say that the strike was not warranted, on the contrary. It is important to remove high level targets and others if and when the situation allows. COMMENT ENDS
Libya/United Kingdom – Britain has discreetly deployed military advisers to Libya in order to build an army to fight Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant cells in the country it was reported on the 27 Feb 16. Special Forces are said to be working alongside their US counterparts in the city of Misrata to stop the jihadists’ progress in the lawless terrain across the sea from Italy. Even as diplomats in Washington, London and European capitals push for the formation of a unity government in Libya, US military operatives have begun “giving tactical training” to select local militias, Western officials, US congressional aides and sources on the ground have revealed. The British government has refused to comment on whether it also has Special Forces on the ground in Libya, where David Cameron gave enthusiastic backing to the armed uprising five years ago that unseated Colonel Gaddafi. But Western officials said a “small number” of British troops were present on a low-key mission, confirmed by sources in the city, who said they were “very much in the background”. Western efforts in Libya have publicly centred on finding a political solution to the country’s civil war that would unite rival factions under a single national governing structure. But as the peace talks stall, with hardliners from rival political factions sabotaging the voting process to enact the new national sovereign leadership, Western powers are struggling to find a viable solution for tackling ISIL. Some reports say the terror group now has anything up to 5,000 fighters in Col Gaddafi’s home city of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast. Under a plan disclosed late last year, Britain was to offer the new Libyan government 1,000 troops as part of a 5,000-strong combined package with Italy, the former colonial power, engaged in training and equipping Libyan forces rather than frontline fighting. However, with many Libyans reluctant to have foreign soldiers on their soil, the troops are only likely to be sent if they have a formal invitation from a properly-constituted and publicly-accepted new Libyan government. With that still looking like a somewhat distant prospect, Western capitals are considering more immediate options to quell ISIL in Libya before it grows too strong. Those appear to involve Special Forces working with local militias on the ground in both Misrata and Benghazi, either side of Sirte. Two analysts with close connections to Western governments said that “low level training” of rebels had been taking place in recent weeks. Jonathan Powell, the UK Special Envoy to Libya, last month hinted at the possibility of a more immediate train-and-equip programme to fight ISIL, using fighters hardened in battle during Libya’s 2011 revolution. Speaking to the Commons earlier this month, he said: “There are a number of armed groups there sitting next to ISIL who have the capacity to deal with it. But they need to be united and have a common cause if they are to do something.”
Somalia/al-Shabaab – At least three people were killed and nine wounded when al-Shabaab fired mortars at the presidential palace in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, health officials said on the 25 Feb 16. The injured were brought to the Dar-ul Shifa hospital from the Ago dhiig area of the Warta Nabada district, hospital director Mohamed Abas said. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the midday attack and confirmed it was aimed at the palace. "We fired nine mortars at the presidential palace and most of them hit their intended target," Abdulaziz Abu Muscab, the group's military spokesman said. "The attack is part of our ongoing operations in Mogadishu," Muscab said. The group attempted similar mortar attacks on the palace earlier in February, and also in January.
Somalia/al-Shabaab – Militants forced their way into a hotel and a nearby public garden in the Somali capital on the night of the 26 Feb 16 exchanging fire with hotel guards in attacks that left at least 14 dead and many others injured. A suicide bomber rammed his car into the SYL hotel's entrance in Mogadishu and blew it up, allowing gunmen to fight their way past hotel guards at the first security barrier, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein. Four gunmen and the suicide bomber were killed, he said, adding that the attackers did not get past the last security checkpoint. He said at least nine dead bodies of civilians could also be seen outside the hotel after the attack there, which was claimed by the Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab. A second car bomb, which exploded within 30 minutes of the attack on the hotel, targeted a public garden near the SYL, he said. It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties from the attack on the Peace Garden, which is popular with families seeking an area to relax on weekends. The SYL hotel, which is located across from presidential palace in Mogadishu, is frequented by government officials and business executives. Despite being pushed out of Somalia's major cities and towns, al-Shabaab continues to launch deadly guerrilla attacks across the Horn of Africa, and even across the border.
Somalia/al-Shabaab – At least 30 people were killed in twin bomb attacks claimed by al-Shabaab at a busy traffic junction and a nearby restaurant in southern Somalia. The attacks in Baidoa on the 28 Feb 16 were part of the armed group's campaign of violence in its bid to topple Somalia's UN-backed government. "The official number of the dead has reached 30 people - all of them civilians - and 61 others had been injured 15 of them seriously," Abdurashid Abdulahi, governor of the Bay region said. Baidoa lies about 245km northwest of the capital, Mogadishu. The death toll went up overnight after more people died at the hospital, and possibly rise further with several of the wounded in critical condition, Abdulahi said. A police officer said a suicide car bomb blew up at the junction, while a second blast - possibly a bomb that had been planted or a suicide bomber - struck the restaurant. "We targeted government officials and forces," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab's military operation spokesman said. He said there was a police station nearby. Abdirahman Ahmed, a witness who was inside the hotel at the time, said gunfire erupted after the explosion. The regional administration in Baidoa is protected by troops of the 22,000-strong African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is protecting the internationally-backed government of Somalia.