United Nations/Syria/Russia – The United Nations Security Council approved on the 18 Nov 16 a one-year extension of an international inquiry to determine blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, paving the way for a showdown over how to punish those responsible. Russia had said it wanted the inquiry to be broadened to look more at the “terrorist chemical threat” within the region, and the resolution to renew the mandate included language to reflect that request. The 15-member council unanimously adopted the US-drafted resolution.
Also read: Russia accuses Syrian rebels of using chemical weapons
The inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, or OPCW, set up by the council a year ago, has already found that Syrian government forces were responsible for three chlorine gas attacks and that ISIS militants had used mustard gas. Syria’s government has denied its forces had used chemical weapons during the country’s nearly six-year-old civil war. Last week, the OCPW’s executive body voted to condemn the use of banned toxic agents by the Syrian government and ISIS militants.
Also read: Russia rejects UN Syria chemical attacks probe
Chlorine’s use as a weapon is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined in 2013. If inhaled, chlorine gas turns to hydrochloric acid in the lungs and can kill by burning lungs and drowning victims in the resulting body fluids.
United States/Syria/United Nations – US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, named 13 Syrian military commanders she said had been involved in killing and injuring civilians since 2011 through air and ground assaults, and detaining and torturing civilians it was reported on the 22 Nov 16. "The United States will not let those who have commanded units involved in these actions hide anonymously behind the facade of the Assad regime," Power told the council. "Those behind such attacks must know that we and the international community are watching their actions, documenting their abuses, and one day, they will be held accountable," she said. However, Russian Deputy UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov accused Power of being hypocritical by not naming militants for killing civilians, and criticized her for naming the Syrian military commanders. "You forgot even about your own golden standard of the presumption of innocence," Safronkov told the Security Council. "This is something that can only be decided by legal proceedings. This is something that is elementary." Among the names are Brigadier General Suhail al-Hassan, aka al-Nimr (the tiger), Major General Jamil Hassan, head of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence Directorate and his aide Qusay Mayhoub. The list also includes Major General Rafiq Shahadah, former head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Major General Adib Salama, the Syrian regime's security commander in Aleppo and Hafez Makhlouf, the former head of intelligence at the General Security Directorate's Damascus branch and the Syrian president's maternal cousin. Power also named brigadier generals Jawdat Mawas and Abdelsalam Fajr Mahmoud and major generals Taher Khalil, Adnan Holwa, Ibrahim Nahla and Salah Shafiq Masaad. Among the names are Brigadier General Suhail al-Hassan, aka al-Nimr (the tiger), Major General Jamil Hassan, head of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence Directorate and his aide Qusay Mayhoub. The list also includes Major General Rafiq Shahadah, former head of the Military Intelligence Directorate, Major General Adib Salama, the Syrian regime's security commander in Aleppo and Hafez Makhlouf, the former head of intelligence at the General Security Directorate's Damascus branch and the Syrian president's maternal cousin. Power also named brigadier generals Jawdat Mawas and Abdelsalam Fajr Mahmoud and major generals Taher Khalil, Adnan Holwa, Ibrahim Nahla and Salah Shafiq Masaad.
United States – Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan posted on Facebook that he was 'sick and tired of seeing my fellow Muslim brothers being killed and tortured' shortly before he went on a slashing rampage at the Ohio State University that left 11 injured. Authorities are currently investigating the posts, allegedly made by Artan, which mention radical cleric Anwar Awlaki and accuse America of 'interfering' with other nations. 'I am sick and tired of seeing my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters being killed and tortured EVERYWHERE,' it stated. 'I can't take it anymore. 'America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially Muslim Ummah (communities)... [if] you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks.' 'We are not weak, remember that,' the post said, according to NBC News. Two hours before that, another post read: 'Forgive and forget. Love.' Artan left at least 11 injured - one critically - after he drove onto the sidewalk at the university on the 28 Nov 16 mowing down crowds of innocent bystanders, witnesses say. He then jumped out of the car and began slashing victims with a butcher knife, according to police. While the motive for the attack is still under investigation, there are questions about whether Artan, who was Muslim, may have carried it out in the name of jihad. Artan is reportedly a Somali refugee who fled his home country in 2007, moving first to Pakistan with his family before coming to America in 2014 and gaining legal permanent resident status. His age has not been confirmed, but it has been reported by various outlets as 18 and 20. Somalia has become a haven for terror groups - including ISIS - since civil war broke out in the 1990s. And Columbus has one of the largest contingents of Somali refugees in the U.S. The suspect lived briefly in a temporary shelter in Dallas before settling in Ohio, according to Catholic Charities records, obtained by NBC. He attended Columbus State Community College for two years, where he graduated cum laude with an associate’s degree before moving onto Ohio State to continue his studies. Artan, reportedly a logistics management student, was pictured by the school's student newspaper The Lantern on Twitter this afternoon. He was interviewed by the paper back in August about his faith. In the piece, he said that he struggled to find a private place to pray on campus, after transferring from Columbus State which had such facilities. 'This place is huge, and I don't even know where to pray. I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media. 'I'm a Muslim; it's not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don't know what they're going to think, what's going to happen,' Artan said. At an afternoon press conference, officials said there appeared to be only one knife-wielding attacker - countering earlier reports of a shooting involving possibly multiple assailants. The chaos started just before 1000 hrs, when a fire alarm was pulled at Watts Hall, home to the chemical engineering department. As people were evacuating the building, Artan drove a silver car onto the sidewalk and mowed down the crowds of innocent bystanders. 'This car just swerved and ran into a whole group of people,' witness Nicole Kreinbrink told NBC. 'All these people were running and screaming and yelling.' He then got out of the car and started slashing victims with a butcher knife. A witness told CNN that Artan remained silent throughout the attack but had a 'crazed' look on his face. OSU sophomore Jacob Bowers says he heard someone yell 'he's got a knife'. 'I saw a guy with a big-a** knife just chasing people around. When I saw that, I grabbed all my stuff and started running,' Bowers told NBC. When he looked back, he saw an officer - identified as 28-year-old Alan Harujko - at the scene approaching the suspect and yelling 'Drop it and get down or I'll shoot'. Soon after, the officer followed through on his threat and shot Artan, killing him at the scene. After the incident at Watts Hall, police investigated rumours of a possible second assailant holed up in a nearby parking garage. SWAT teams stormed the building just before 11am and minutes later two men were led out in handcuffs. However, officials now say that they did not find any additional suspects in the garage. 361 COMMENT: Although at the time of reporting the investigation is still ongoing this attack has the hall-marks of a lone wolf attack. The individual concerned, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, appears to have looked at information from a radicalised cleric, Anwar Awlaki, and travelled from Somali to Pakistan where he may have met some people with like minded ideas but himself being radicalised at that point is highly unlikely and would have come later. His postings on Facebook appear to be a last minute suicide note, but the authorities will confirm or deny that at some point. Da’esh has been calling for some time for lone wolf attacks using anything and including knives which can be purchased without raising suspicion. The use of the vehicle is not uncommon and was used in the initial lea Rigby attack in the UK on the 22 May 2013 when a vehicle deliberately ran him down prior to his murder; vehicles have been used countless times in Israel by Palestinians as well as knife attacks. The latest large attack using a vehicle was on the 14 Jul 16 when a 19 tonne cargo vehicle was driven into crowds in Nice, France. On the 11 Nov 16 in Issue 3 of Islamic State magazine ‘Rumiyah’ instructs lone wolves on the use of trucks to target outdoor conventions, thinking outside the box a normal car can still do damage. His thoughts on the torture and killing of Muslims will also fit the radicalised mind because if he was to look at this in a normal way he would see that sadly Muslims are killing and torturing Muslims, you only have to look at the Da’esh ideology as one example. No doubt Da’esh at some point will claim it as one of their own in an attempt to encourage more attacks and use it for propaganda value. COMMENT ENDS
Follow-on Report – The Islamic State group said on the 30 Nov 16 it was behind a car and knife rampage at a US college that left 11 people injured. Surveillance photos showed Artan in the car by himself just before the attack, but investigators are looking into whether anyone else was involved. Dozens of FBI agents have searched Artan's apartment for clues as to what may have triggered the attacks. Artan, who was born in Somalia and was a US permanent resident, arrived in the country in 2014 as the child of a refugee. He had been living in Pakistan from 2007 to 2014. Artan recently posted on Facebook about the US treatment of Muslims, according citing a law enforcement official. "If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace" with the Islamic State group, he allegedly wrote. Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the act was indicative of someone who may have been self-radicalised. Militants of the so-called Islamic State have found recruits in the US Somali community in recent years. About a dozen young men and women from Minnesota's Somali community have travelled to Syria to join militant groups. 361 COMMENT: As predicted in the previous comment on the terrorist action, Da’esh claimed it as one of their own. COMMENT ENDS