The Taliban responded scornfully the 29 Dec 14 to the formal end of NATO's war in Afghanistan, describing the U.S.-led mission as a "fire of barbarism and cruelty" that had drowned the country "in a pool of blood". The insurgent group issued the statement in English a day after NATO marked the closure of its combat mission with a low-key ceremony in Kabul, arranged in secret due to the threat of Taliban attack. "We consider this step a clear indication of their defeat and disappointment," the Taliban said. "America, its invading allies... along with all international arrogant organizations have been handed a clear-cut defeat in this lopsided war." On the 1 Jan 15 NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) combat mission will be replaced by a "training and support" mission with approximately 12, 500 troops remaining. The Taliban statement said the group would fight on "for the establishment of a pure Islamic system by expelling the remaining invading forces unconditionally". President Ashraf Ghani has said he is open to peace talks, but the Taliban said it would "continue its Jihad and struggle so long as a single foreigner remains in Afghanistan in a military uniform".
Australia – Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the 23 Dec 14 warned of a heightened level of “terrorist chatter” in the aftermath of the fatal Sydney cafe siege and said another attack was considered likely. “A briefing from the security agencies today indicated that there has been a heightened level of terrorist chatter in the aftermath of the Martin Place siege,” he said following a meeting of his National Security Committee. “We don’t know when and how an attack may come, but we do know there are people with the intent and the capability to carry out further attacks.” Abbott did not raise Australia’s terror alert level beyond its current high, but cautioned that “at this level, an attack is likely”. “I am alerting people to the fact that the terror threat remains high and as you all understand, at this level, an attack is likely,” he said. Australia has not officially branded the Sydney siege as a terrorist attack. Abbott said we was “not going to speculate” about any specific future attacks, emphasizing only that “there has been a heightened level of chatter amongst people who we would normally think of as terrorist sympathizers”. 361 COMMENT: Whether Australia states that the recent seize was a terrorist attack or not the action by the individual who held people hostage shows that the operation is easy to set up and execute. There are no other personnel involved and the only things they need are a target, a weapon and an explosive device for a simple lone wolf operation such as this one. Those who sympathize or wish to follow the example would find the operation easy to conduct. It maybe that the internet chatter that the security services are encountering are others who see the ease in which this type of attack can be copied. If they really want to take it a stage further then a greater explosive device used as a suicide vest/belt could be introduced. The result would be not only horrific but catastrophic for those involved but the propaganda value would be immense for the Islamic State. Another scenario is that there may be a possibility of a coordinated attack where multiple locations are placed under seize. COMMENT ENDS (Australia's National Terrorism Public Alert System)
India – An explosion in the parking lot of a bus station on the 21 Dec 14 killed three people and wounded five others in India’s remote north-eastern state of Manipur the police said. The homemade bomb went off in Imphal, the state capital, killing three construction workers, said Superintendent Ibomcha Singh. Five other men were hospitalized. No group had claimed responsibility for the blast. At least 17 separatist groups are active in Manipur State. Their demands include greater autonomy for the state and an independent homeland for the people of Manipur.
Pakistan – Militants from the Pakistani Taliban attacked an army-run school in Peshawar, killing 141 people, 132 of them children the Pakistani military reported on the 16 Dec 14. According to the army seven militants took part in the assault and all were wearing suicide vests. In an army statement the militants scaled the walls to gain entry to the school and set off an explosive device at the start of the attack, the terrorists then went from classroom to classroom shooting indiscriminately. Many of the students were the children of military personnel. Most of them would have been aged 16 or under. A Taliban spokesman told BBC Urdu that the school, which is run by the army, had been targeted in response to military operations. Pakistani Taliban spokesman Mohammad Khurasani said the militants had been "forced" to launch the attack in response to army attacks.
Deadly Attacks in Pakistan:
- 16 December 2014: Taliban attack on school in Peshawar leaves at least 141 people dead, 132 of them children
- 22 September 2013: Militants linked to the Taliban kill at least 80 people at a church in Peshawar, in one of the worst attacks on Christians
- 10 January 2013: Militant bombers target the Hazara Shia Muslim minority in the city of Quetta, killing 120 at a snooker hall and on a street
- 28 May 2010: Gunmen attack two mosques of the minority Ahmadi Islamic sect in Lahore, killing more than 80 people
- 18 October 2007: Twin bomb attack at a rally for Benazir Bhutto in Karachi leaves at least 130 dead. Unclear if Taliban behind attack
This brutal attack may well be a watershed for a country long accused by the world of treating terrorists as strategic assets. Pakistan's policy-makers struggling to come to grips with various shades of militants have often cited a "lack of consensus" and "large pockets of sympathy" for religious militants as a major stumbling-block. That is probably why, when army chief Gen Raheel Sharif launched what he called an indiscriminate operation earlier in the year against militant groups in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt, the political response was lukewarm at best. We will get them, was his message, be they Pakistani Taliban, Punjabi Taliban, al-Qaeda and affiliates, or most importantly, the dreaded Haqqani network. But the country's political leadership chose to remain largely silent. This is very likely to change now. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-30491435)
KGS Night Watch reported on the 22 Dec 14 that the Pakistani government announced that 500 more terrorists on death row are to be executed. " The Interior ministry has finalized the cases of 500 convicts who have exhausted all the appeals, their mercy petitions have been turned down by the president and their executions will take place in coming weeks," according to a senior government official. The government is sending a strong message to ethnic terrorists that Pakistani children are off limits as targets. Pakistan has hanged six terrorists since the Prime Minister lifted the moratorium on capital punishment for terrorism. Pakistani security forces killed 35 anti-government militants on the 20 Dec 14. One report claimed the dead included the mastermind for the Peshawar murders. The most important operations in the past week have targeted the facilitators and planners of the Peshawar massacre. A total of 70 terrorists have been killed in the past week in the area near Peshawar which includes Khyber Agency.
Schools in Islamabad beefed up security on the 18 Dec 14 and carried out safety drills amid fears of a possible bomb attack targeting school buses. More than 400 schools in Islamabad were warned of a possible plot to bomb buses carrying students in the capital, Mohammad Tahir Bhatti, spokesman for the Federal Directorate of Education said. "We received information from various sources that terrorists were planning to attack buses by attaching magnetic bombs and have alerted the managements of institutions accordingly," Mr Bhatti said.
Russia – On the 25 Dec 14 TASS reported that The Moscow City Court sentenced on the 25 Dec ,Thursday, Feruza Nazarova and Murad Magomedov to 9.5 years and 12 years in prison respectively after finding them guilty of preparing a terrorist attack in the north of Moscow.
According to the investigation, Nazarova and Magomedov were plotting to stage a terrorist attack at one of the Auchan chain supermarkets in the Russian capital’s northern district of Altufyevo. The court also found them guilty of illegal arms production, organization of an illegal armed group, as well as illegal trade of arms and explosives and organization of an extremist society.