Ghana – Ghana and Togo are the next targets for Islamist militants following high-profile attacks this year in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, according to a memo from Ghana's Immigration Service on the 15 Apr 16. The memo calls for better border protection in the latest sign of a heightened government response to the threat to West Africa by militants based in northern Mali who have stepped up a campaign of violence in the last year. It says the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) has evidence from neighbouring Ivory Coast from the interrogation of a man suspected of orchestrating an attack on March 13 in which 18 people were killed. "Intelligence gathered by the ... NSCS indicates a possible terrorist attack on the country is real. ... The choice of Ghana according to the report is to take away the perception that only Francophone countries are the target," said the memo, dated 9 Apr 16 and published by Ghanaian media. It ordered immigration agents on the northern border with Burkina Faso to be extra vigilant and said patrols should be stepped up along informal routes between the two countries. Ghana is one of Africa's most stable and peaceful democracies and has not suffered an attack by Islamist militants. Togo is the country's eastern neighbour. President John Mahama spoke about the memo in an interview on state radio's Sunrise FM on the 14 Apr 16. He asked for public vigilance and said Ghana was also at risk from home grown militants, while noting that countries in the region share intelligence on militant threats. "We must deal with this without creating panic amongst our people," he said, adding that the memo should not have detailed the intelligence on which it calls for greater vigilance were based. Government spokesmen in the presidency and at the immigration ministry did not return calls requesting comment. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for attacks on a hotel in the capital of Mali last November, a restaurant and hotel in Burkina Faso's capital in January and the Ivory Coast attack. In all, more than 65 people have died, many of them foreigners.
Libya/Da’esh – ISIS have deployed a large group of fighters at several strategic oil fields with fears that the jihadi group is planning an attack on foreign workers it was reported in a British newspaper on the 11 Apr 16. Staff have been evacuated from three oil fields in eastern Libya as the country struggles to handle the growing threat of the jihadi group. Oil production in Libya has not been affected because the fields will stay shut until the security risk is reduced, oil and security officials said. ISIS militants have launched frequent attacks on Libyan oil fields and terminals in recent months, damaging facilities in Ajdabiya. However the militant group, which is primarily based in the central city of Sirte, has not managed to seize complete control of these oil fields. Unlike in Syria and Iraq, Islamist militants have never controlled oil fields in Libya, but officials worry this could happen in the future, along with existing material and human damage. Mohamed al-Manfi, an oil official based in eastern Libya, said the Wafa field had been completely evacuated and the Tibesti and Bayda fields were partially evacuated after security forces warned of possible planned attacks. A security source said that fighters loyal to Islamic State had been mobilising in Nawfiliyah, a town between the extremist group's Libyan stronghold of Sirte and the oil ports of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf. Earlier in Apr 16 five members of the Petroleum Facilities Guard were killed in an attack by suspected Islamic State militants near Bayda field, about 155 miles south of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf. The guard is a semi-military force that controls many oil facilities in the east. Labour disputes, militant attacks and conflict between local communities and armed factions have sharply cut back Libya's oil production in recent years. Production currently stands at less than one fifth of the 1.6 million barrels per day the OPEC member was producing before the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.
Libya/European Union – The European Union is signalling that it will consider moving security personnel into Libya to help stabilize the chaotic country if requested by a new UN-backed Libyan government, according to a draft statement seen and reported on the 15 Apr 16. Impetus for the move comes in part from fears of an uncontrolled new tide of migrants into Italy from Libya unless law and order can be rebuilt soon in the North African state. EU foreign and defence ministers will hold a special dinner on the18 Apr 16 in Luxembourg where they are expected to agree to look into police and border training missions for Libya, initially in Tripoli, where the new government is trying to establish itself. “The EU stands ready to offer security sector support in response to possible (UN) Government of National Accord requests,” ministers are expected to say, according to a draft statement prepared by diplomats that is still under discussion. “A possible civilian ... mission could support Libyan efforts ... through advice and capacity building in the fields of police and criminal justice,” said the draft, referring to counter-terrorism, border management and tackling the smuggling of migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe. An EU security presence in Libya, which would not involve soldiers, would be Europe’s biggest step in the oil-producing nation since a NATO-backed mission led to the fall of Libya’s long-time leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Diplomats said there had yet to be a detailed discussion with the new UN-brokered Libyan government in defining what kind of assistance they wanted from the EU, and that it keen to avoid the impression of moving into the country uninvited. “It is a delicate balance,” said one senior EU official involved in the plans. “We need to prepare to help Libya, but we cannot jump the gun.” Libyan officials with the new unity government were not immediately available for comment on the specific document. But they have said any international security cooperation must be Libyan-led and so far have made no detailed request for aid. But inviting in foreign military trainers remains a sensitive subject for the new government, who opponents accuse of being a foreign-imposed body with no legitimacy. Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Seraj will speak to ministers by video conference at the dinner on the 18 Apr. Talks on a possible EU security mission could give momentum to discussions among Italian, French, British and US military planners on whether to send troops to Libya to help protect key installations, government buildings, ports and the airport. The United States is eager to see Europe, not Washington, take the lead in a region on the continent’s doorstep. The separate mission, which includes France, Italy, Britain and the United States and is known as the Libya International Assistance Mission, has already briefed EU diplomats about how it could have a military role in stabilizing Libya. It may set up a secretariat based in Rome. Also under consideration is how the EU’s so-called “Sophia” naval mission operating in international waters near Libya could move into Libyan waters to destroy boats used by people smugglers, catch the traffickers and head off an expected surge in migrants trying to reach Europe by sea from Libya. While the naval mission has been operating since mid-2015 and has saved more than 8,000 lives, it is unable to move into Libyan waters without a request from the Libyan government and a UN Security Council resolution. The problem has been finding an effective governing authority in Libya to deal with. Libya has been in anarchy for years, with two competing governments based in Tripoli and the Far East and a plethora of militias dominating various regions. The new UN-backed unity government has yet to stamp its authority in Tripoli, let alone the vast country at large. Previous training efforts ran into difficulties in 2012 and 2013 when Italy and Turkey started training police and, along with Britain and the United States, planned to build up a force of 8,000 troops. Those programs were hampered by militia infighting and political squabbling among Libyan factions. But Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the new UN-backed government in Tripoli would help reduce the boatloads of migrants who dice with death to reach Europe from Africa. “It’s fundamental that Libya has a government... Now we can work with an executive that isn’t at the height of its powers, but it exists,” Renzi told reporters in Rome. “In light of the fact that there is now a Libyan government, we will try to get the EU to invest in Africa to put a stop to the death journeys (on overcrowded boats) so we can have a decisively lower and more controlled migrant flow.” EU ministers will also discuss whether the Sophia naval mission can work more closely with NATO’s naval contingent in the Aegean, which aims to help Greek and Turkish coastguards tackle people smuggling there and stem the record flows of migrants into the EU via Greece from nearby Turkey.
Morocco – According to a senior intelligence chief on the 4 Apr 16, Islamic State jihadis were planning a mustard gas attack on four Moroccan cities as well as a strike by a teenage suicide bomber on a tourist area or government building in the country. The shocking revelations of Feb 16 attacks came from Abdelhak Khiame, Morocco's head of counter-terrorism, who warned one of the chemicals was so powerful it would kill anyone who touched it. He warned the plot could well have been a dry run for a similar mission in Britain. He said: "It's very possible that Da’esh would use this process to target Britain and other EU countries. "It already has brigades of children and we know they train them in their camps looking to use them in terrorist attacks in Europe. "As for chemical weapons, we have seen here how easy they are to prepare." Worryingly, the counter-terrorism chief said the same ingredients used to make that substance were available in the UK. He said: "The substances used in the plot we dismantled in February in Morocco are available in shops all over Europe. "They can use very simple substances in order to develop these weapons and it is very easy." Morocco has avoided much of the chaos and jihadism which has infected parts of North Africa - notably Libya and Tunisia - in recent years. But authorities there still encounter sleeper cells and groups affiliated to ISIS intent on wreaking havoc and murdering innocent people. In 2011, 17 people were killed and 25 injured in a large explosion in Marrakech at the Argana Restaurant in Djema el-Fna Square. When police in Morocco smashed the latest underground terror cell, they discovered ISIS 'chemists' had manufactured a poison so deadly it could kill anyone who came into contact with it. Mr Khiame said: "One of the substances we found was so dangerous that if it was applied to the door handle of a car and you touched it, you would die. "The aim was to shake the people's faith in the Moroccan authorities to protect them, but it failed. "Yet the making of some of these toxins involved some substances, which I will not disclose, and a mouse and a lemon. "They were left in a jar to concentrate and the toxic substance was created."
Nigeria – Nigerian troops on the 8 Apr 16 thwarted an attempt by four suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers to attack the restive north-eastern city of Maiduguri, hotbed of the Islamist group, an army spokesman said. At about 0400 hrs troops "received a tip off about an impending attack in Maiduguri city by four suspected Boko Haram terrorists suicide bombers," army spokesman from Sambisa forest through cashew plantation," Colonel Sani Usman said in a statement. "The ever vigilant troops responded decisively by intercepting and neutralizing the suspected terrorists," he added. Three soldiers sustained injuries during the incident, while two unexploded explosives devices were safely detonated. Usman said troops also arrested three suspected Boko Haram insurgents at Nwagafete village, near Maiduguri.
Somalia/United States/al-Shabaab – The US military targeted a senior al Qaeda leader who also serves in the Amniyat, a key security and intelligence organization within Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in Somalia, in an airstrike last week it was reported on the 3 Apr 16. The US military has not confirmed the death of Hassan Ali Dhoore, the dual hated al Qaeda and Shabaab leader, who was the focus of the airstrike. The Pentagon announced that it targeted Dhoore “in cooperation with the Federal Government of Somalia, on Thursday, March 31.” Dhoore was described as “a senior leader of Shabaab, who is part of al Qaeda” and “a member of Shabaab’s Amniyat (security and intelligence) wing and was heavily involved in high profile attack planning in Mogadishu.” Dhoore “had planned and overseen attacks resulting in the death of at least three US citizens,” the statement continued. He was directly linked to two assaults, one in December 2014 at Mogadishu’s airport, and another at a hotel in the Somali capital. Two Americans were killed in the ambushes. Leaders and members of the Amniyat have been the focus of multiple US airstrikes. Over the past two years, the US killed the previous two leaders of the Amniyat. The Amniyat is instrumental in executing suicide attacks inside Somalia as well as in Kenya and other African nations, conducting assassinations, providing logistics and support for operations, and integrating the group’s local and regional commands. Additionally, the Amniyat has ben instrumental in suppressing internal dissent within Shabaab as well as challenges to its primacy in Somalia from the Islamic State. The US killed the last leader of the Amniyat, Yusuf Dheeq, on Feb. 3, 2015, and also killed his predecessor, Tahlil Abdishakur, on Dec. 29, 2014. Additionally, the US killed Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of Shabaab and its former emir, in an airstrike on Sept. 1, 2014. Like when reporting the deaths of previous Shabaab leaders, the US military said that Dhoore’s death would be a “significant blow” to the jihadist group. “While we are still assessing the results of this operation, removing Dhoore from the battlefield,” a euphemism for killing him, “would be a significant blow to Shabaab’s operational planning and ability to conduct attacks against the government of the Federal Republic of Somalia, its citizens, US partners in the region, and against Americans abroad,” the Pentagon stated. Unfortunately the deaths of Godane, Dheeq, Abdishakur, and a number of senior al Qaeda and Shabaab leaders at the hands of the US has done little to disrupt Shabaab’s command or control. The jihadist group has been waging an effective insurgency and still controls territory in Somalia despite the fact that the US began targeting Shabaab’s leadership beginning in late 2006. In addition, Shabaab recently has gone on the offensive and regained control of several towns and villages in southern Somalia that have been lost over the past several years.
Somalia/East Africa – A new terrorist group has pledged allegiance to ISIS as it continues to expand its presence in East Africa it was reported on the 8 Apr 16. A group calling itself “Jahba East Africa” announced its alliance on the 7 Apr 16, hailing a “new era” in the region. In a statement, militants gave bayah (an oath of allegiance) to Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and recognised him as the “rightful Khalifa (leader) of all Muslims”. The group’s name is previously unknown but there were hints in the statement that its supporters may previously have been part of al-Shabaab. Jahba East Africa criticised the group, which is linked to al-Qaeda and controls swathes of Somalia, as well as launching attacks in Kenya and other countries in the region. “We in Jahba East Africa are advising all East Africans to leave al-Shabaab and their sponsor groups, like Al-Muhajiroun, Al-Hijra and Ansar Islam,” the statement said. “Like Al-Shabaab the sponsor groups have not understood the binding obligation of the Khalifah (caliphate). “We are telling the mujahedeen in East Africa that al-Shabaab has now become a psychological and physical prison. “To pledge bayah to Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is freedom for the mujahedeen in East Africa and opportunity to wage jihad according to the Sunnah against the enemies of Allah.” A spokesperson said the group was “newly created” and comprised of militants fighting in Somalia, including Kenyans, Tanzanians and Ugandans. He said militants had been detained for pledging allegiance to ISIS, adding that the statement was “on behalf all the East Africans in al-Shabaab and those that seek to open new up fronts in East Africa”. There have been rumours of internal disputes between supporters of Isis and al-Qaeda within al-Shabaab for years, culminating in the reported creation of a pro-Islamic State faction. Pressure to switch allegiance from al-Qaeda grew when Nigerian insurgents Boko Haram joined ISIS in March last year and released a message urging its fellow sub-Saharan jihadists to do the same. ISIS leaders are understood to have approached al-Shabaab leaders themselves to make an alliance and released a series of propaganda videos calling for the creation of “Wilayat Somalia” – Somalia province. A memo was reportedly circulated among al-Shabaab fighters in September saying that its allegiance to al-Qaeda would not change and warning of punishments under Islamic law for any dissenters. The move to silence pro-ISIS elements appears to have failed. In a newly-created Twitter account, Jahba East Africa were calling on jihadists to join them on the 7 Apr 16, adding: “A new era will come to East Africa soon Insha Allah (God willing).” ISIS uses pledges of allegiance by existing terrorist and insurgent groups to establish franchises around the world. Libya’s Shura Council of Islamic Youth, for example, became Wilayat Barqa, while Egyptian jihadists Ansar Bait al-Maqdis were rebranded as Wilayat Sinai. Groups in Southeast Asia, the Caucasus, West Africa, Algeria and Gaza have also declared their allegiance to become part of the “global caliphate”. The US Africa Command warned that the number of ISIS fighters in Libya had doubled to between 4,000 and 6,000 in the last year as it seeks to expand. American drone and air strikes have targeted jihadists in the country, as well as in other African countries where jihadists are launching insurgencies. Al-Shabaab and other insurgents in Somalia are being fought by an African Union mission (Amisom) and United Nations coalition (Unosom), which includes British troops.
Somalia – A car bomb exploded on the 11 Apr 16 outside restaurant packed with lunchtime customers in the Somali capital of Mogadishu killing at least five people. The restaurant in the capital's Hamarweyne district is close to the municipal government headquarters and in busy commercial area. Al-Shabaab, which has ties with al-Qaida, has been carrying out a campaign of deadly violence targeting government officials and international troops, as well as hotels and restaurants in the capital. The attack came as the Somali government announced the execution of a former journalist linked to al-Shabaab for the murder of five journalists. Journalists are also frequently targeted in. At least 18 journalists were killed during 2015 according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. It's not entirely clear who has been killing journalists. Al-Shabaab rebels, warlords, criminals, and even government agents all could have reasons to see journalists killed in Somalia. Hassan Hanafi Haji was executed by firing squad at the Mogadishu police academy after being extradited from Kenya. Haji was a liaison officer with al-Shabaab and known for threatening journalists for not reporting in favour of the extremist group. Haji later led al-Shabaab's media unit, inviting journalists to press conferences and giving them tours of battlefields. Haji was one of the few prosecuted by the government following years of criticism by rights groups who urged authorities to do more to establish the rule of law and end the killings of journalists.