Afghanistan – A bomb exploded at an office of Afghanistan's main news agency on the 11 Jun 15 injuring two people and causing damage in the latest attack on the country’s media. No group had claimed responsibility during the reporting period for the blast at the office of the Pajhwok news agency in the eastern province of Nangarhar but its editor-in-chief, Danish Karokhil, said militants had issued threats in the past. “We have received threats and letters from insurgents from time to time when they were not happy about our stories and coverage of incidents,” Karokhil stated. Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the province’s governor, said police were investigating and it was not clear why the agency had been attacked.
Taliban fighters have overrun police checkpoints in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province, killing at least 20 officers, officials reported on the 13 Jun 15. Dozens of militants took part in the raids in the remote and volatile Musa Qala district. The Taliban said they had killed as many as 25 officers and seized a large number of heavy weapons. Reports claim that the attacks started late on Friday (12 Jun 15) and fighting continued on Saturday (13 Jun 15). Most of the checkpoints attacked had been small, with just two or three men, but insurgents had also targeted larger facilities. Claims were that at least 10 officers had been injured and that the Taliban had suffered heavy casualties. Police in remote areas of Afghanistan are often poorly trained and ill-equipped, and are vulnerable to attack. A Taliban attack in Helmand's Naw Zad district last month left at least 19 police officers dead.
Afghanistan/Taliban/Da’esh/Islamic State – The Taliban on the 16 Jun 15 warned the leader of the Islamic State group against waging a parallel insurgency in Afghanistan, after a string of defections and reported clashes with militants loyal to ISIS. The Middle Eastern group has never formally acknowledged having a presence in Afghanistan but fears are growing that the group is making inroads in the country. In a letter addressed to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Taliban insisted that "jihad (holy war) against the Americans and their allies must be conducted under one flag and one leadership". "The Islamic Emirate (Taliban) does not consider the multiplicity of jihadi ranks beneficial either for jihad or for Muslims," said the letter signed by the Taliban deputy leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor. "Your decisions taken from a distance will result in (the ISIS) losing support of religious scholars, mujahideen and in order to defend its achievements the Islamic Emirate will be forced to react," it added. The letter, published on the Taliban website in Pashto, Urdu, Arabic and Dari, did not elaborate on its threat. The Taliban have seen defections in recent months -- with some insurgents apparently adopting the ISIS flag to rebrand themselves as a more lethal force as NATO troops depart. The two groups, which espouse different ideological strains of Sunni Islam, are believed to be arrayed against each other in Afghanistan's restive south, with clashes frequently reported. During the reporting period local media reported pitched battles between the Taliban and supporters of ISIS in eastern Afghanistan, with casualties reported on both sides. General John Campbell, the commander of NATO forces in the country, last month said the ISIS group was recruiting fighters in Afghanistan but they were not yet operational.
Hong Kong – Police in Hong Kong reported on the 15 Jun 15 that they had arrested nine people on suspicion of conspiracy to manufacture explosives at a former suburban TV studio. The arrests come in the same week that lawmakers are due to vote on a controversial political reform plan. Police spokesman Ng Wai-hon did not make a direct connection between the arrests and the vote but said at least one of the suspects belonged to a "radical group", they found solid and liquid substances believed to be used to make explosives at the studio. They also found about two litres of a raw material used to make triacetone triperoxide, or TATP, at one of the suspect's homes. Five men and four females were arrested and police said Hong Kong has seen large-scale protests for greater democracy in recent months.
India – Indian parachute commandos in helicopters crossed over the border into Myanmar to strike separatist bases in retaliation against an ambush in Manipur during the reporting period that left 18 Indian soldiers dead, officials said. Military officials said between 30 to 50 rebels were killed on the 9 Jun 15 surprise raids, but a rebel group led by Burmese Naga leader S S Khaplang said the Indian claims were "exaggerated" and that there were few casualties. India's junior information minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that the "hot pursuit strikes" on separatist bases in Myanmar had been authorised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Be it Yemen or Iraq, attacks on Indians are not acceptable. This is also a message to our neighbours who shelter terrorists,” Rathore said. The strikes were in retaliation for the attack on the 4 Jun 15 ambush by rebel groups, who fired rocket-propelled grenades and detonated explosives on an Indian army convoy. The toll of 18 Indian soldiers was the heaviest loss for Indian security forces in Manipur in two decades. Two rebels were also killed in that raid. Major-General Ranbir Singh, of the Indian army's Military Operations Directorate said that "surgical strikes" were carried out with the "specific intelligence that these rebels were planning more attacks". Military officials said commandos of India’s 21st Para Regiment were involved in at least two attacks; one on a Naga rebel base across from Noklak in India’s Nagaland state and the other across Chassad in neighbouring north-eastern Manipur. Intelligence officials said a third rebel base jointly run by the Naga and Manipuri rebels at Onzia inside Myanmar was also attacked. Myanmar officials said that India’s ambassador Gautam Mukhopadhyay had informed the country’s foreign ministry about "some attacks on rebels". India has long persuaded Myanmar to flush out its north-eastern rebels who have bases in the jungles of its Sagaing region, so far without much success. The countries have an agreement in which their armies can cross into each other's territory to act against "terrorists". While Bhutan and Bangladesh have killed and captured many of the rebels, Myanmar has said its army was already stretched fighting its own anti-Myanmar insurgencies in Kachins, Kokang and Karen regions. Myanmar's forces have also occasionally crossed into India’s Mizoram and Manipur states chasing its own ethnic Chin and Arakanese rebels, and India has looked the other way.
Iran/Taliban – Iran has stepped up its support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, providing at least four training camps for the movement’s fighters inside its territory, according to officials quoted in the Wall Street Journal. While Iran’s Shia rulers sit at the opposite end of the religious spectrum from the Taliban’s Sunni fundamentalists, the two have become allies of convenience against common enemies. In the past, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps gave the Taliban weapons and money to fight American and other Western forces in Afghanistan. As long ago as 2007, Western officials noted that convoys carrying weapons for the Taliban were crossing Afghanistan’s frontier with Iran. Today, the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are establishing a presence in Afghanistan, against the bitter opposition of the Taliban. Now that U.S. and coalition troops are no longer conducting combat operations in Afghanistan, the evidence suggests that Iran is helping the Taliban against the common enemy represented by ISIL. One Taliban commander said that Iran was paying his monthly salary as well as supplying his fighters with guns and ammunition. In addition, Iran has allowed the Taliban to open an office in the eastern city of Mashhad. Iran now runs at least four training camps for Taliban fighters, located in Tehran as well as in Mashhad, the city of Zahedan and the province of Kerman. This extra support has helped the Taliban to renew their offensive against government forces in Afghanistan. “If it wasn’t for Iran, I don’t think they would’ve been able to push an offensive like they are doing now,” said Antonio Giustozzi, a Taliban expert, quoted in the Wall Street Journal. America and Iran are trying to settle the dispute over Tehran’s nuclear programme with a final agreement due to be signed by the end of this month. Under the likely terms of this deal, sanctions on Iran would be lifted. Billions of dollars of extra revenue would then flow into the regime’s coffers, potentially allowing them to give more support to the Taliban and other armed movements.
Jammu and Kashmir – Three terrorists were killed along the Line of Control in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir, and it is believed that the terrorists would have gone ahead with an extensive attack had the Army not intercepted them it was reported on the 7 Jun 15. According to reports, all the three terrorists were carrying weaponry and were in touch with handlers. Three terrorists were killed as Army foiled an infiltration bid along the LoC in third such incident in two weeks. "As soon as the infiltrators crossed to this side of the LoC, they were challenged," an Army official said, adding three terrorists were killed in the ensuing gun-battle. Three soldiers and a terrorist were killed in a failed infiltration bid on the 25 May 15 in Tangdhar sector while four terrorists and a civilian were killed in the same area earlier in the reporting period.
Pakistan – Six police were killed in two separate attacks in Pakistan on the 11 Jun 15, including a suicide bombing that wounded a senior police commander. The suicide bomber, who was riding a motorcycle, blew himself up near a vehicle in the north-western city of Peshawar. Two policemen were killed, and deputy commander Malik Tariq, who was riding in the vehicle, was injured along with two of his guards. Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the bombing and warned of more attacks. Hours later, gunmen opened fire on a police vehicle in the south-western city of Quetta, killing four officers. No one claimed responsibility for the attack. Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, where a low-scale insurgency demanding more autonomy and a greater share of the province's oil and gas resources has been underway for years.
Philippines – Muslim guerrillas in the Philippines will begin turning over their weapons as part of a peace deal even as lawmakers are still debating a law creating a new autonomous Muslim region in the country's south. Chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel Ferrer said on the 11 Jun 15 that President Benigno Aquino III will be the guest of honour at the ceremonial turnover of high-powered weapons next week. She said about 145 guerrillas of the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front also will be decommissioned. Rebel negotiator Mohagher Iqbal says rebels agreed to hand over their weapons to an independent group despite the delay in the passage of the law creating the new autonomous region. The rebels last year dropped their demand for a separate state in exchange for broader autonomy.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been active since 1978. Its ideology is to form an Islamic democracy and has operated in the areas of Mindanao in the Philippines. In 1987, the MILF refused to accept an offer of semi-autonomy, making it the largest separatist group in the Philippines. The MILF initially declared a Jihad but became more restrained and receptive, especially following claims that it had links to the Abu Sayyaf or Al Qaeda. MILF turned to a national struggle for recognition and self determination and not a part of a worldwide Global Jihad. Despite a 2004 cease fire, the MILF was accused of continuing attacks against Philippines army units but MILF denied its responsibility, saying it was the work of Abu Sayyaf fugitives from Indonesia. The guerrillas from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) were plotting new attacks on the troubled southern island of Mindanao when they were arrested. One of the two men is Mokasid Dilna, who trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1990s with Indonesian Islamic militant. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), also known as Islamic Liberation Front.
Uzbekistan/Pakistan/Afghanistan – Militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) found sanctuary in Pakistan’s tribal areas for more than a decade. Now, it appears many have left and are looking for a new home. They might have found one in Afghanistan, right on the doorstep of their native land. In recent months, Afghan government and military officials have claimed that an uptick of violence in the country's Northern provinces is partly due to an influx of foreign fighters. While it is hard to ascertain where militants fighting in northern Afghanistan are from, it is likely that many belong to the IMU. Those new arrivals probably fled to Afghanistan after a May 2014 Pakistani military operation in the North Waziristan tribal region, where many IMU fighters were based. With a local population made up mainly of ethnic Tajik, Uzbek, and Turkmen, the northern Afghan provinces make a natural home for the IMU. The area borders Central Asia, the birthplace of the militant group, which emerged in the late 1990s to overthrow the Uzbek government and is on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations. Initially, local Afghan officials said the militants were small in number and only there to support local Taliban forces. But in recent months there has been a flurry of reports of government troops battling militants and "foreign fighters" in the provinces of Badakhshan, Takhar, Kunduz, Jowzjan, Faryab, and Badghis. hinly stretched Afghan forces have been unable to gain the upper hand and militants have been quick to exploit the government forces' weakness. On the 10 Apr 15 some 200 militants overran government positions in the Jurm district of Badakhshan Province. Government forces counterattacked and recaptured the district. Dozens were killed, including four enemy fighters identified as “Tajik nationals.” On the 24 Apr 15 Kunduz Governor Omer Safi told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service that “around 3,000 militants are fighting in five major districts" and Afghan security forces had found “some Chechens and some Tajiks” among the enemy dead. The Associated Press cited Safi as saying the bodies of 18 foreign militants were retrieved from the battlefield and that the dead came from "Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Chechnya.” Safi said many of the militants had travelled “with their families.” Further west, in three Afghan provinces bordering Turkmenistan, there has also been a spike in violence. In a remote and hard-to-access region, it is incredibly difficult to say who and where the militants are from. Some Afghan officials have mentioned a militant group called Jamaat Ansarullah, which is the Tajik wing of the IMU, while other officials have used the term Jundullah, a combination of Jamaat Ansarullah and the IMU. Badakhshan Governor Shah Waliullah Adeeb told RFE/RL's Gandhara website on the 15 Apr 15 that most of the militants were foreigners. Adeeb said that “some 200 fighters, some of them with their families, are now based in the Dara-e Khustak area” and identified those fighters as being from “Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya, and other countries.” In fighting this week in Jowzjan’s Aqcha district, officials said there are at least 300 “foreign” fighters among enemy forces. Speaking to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, civilians in the region claim these foreigners are speaking Uzbek and Tajik with accents that reveal they are originally from Central Asia, not Afghanistan. What's also unclear is how many militants there are and whether they are fighting alongside their traditional ally, the Afghan Taliban, or if they are pursuing their own goals and changing allies according to necessity. The Taliban provided sanctuary for the IMU in 1999 and 2000, when the latter was launching attacks in the area where the borders of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet. In 2001, the IMU stayed in Afghanistan and was involved in the Taliban's push to capture the remaining 5 percent of Afghanistan that was still outside its control. Many IMU fighters then fled to Pakistan after a U.S. bombing campaign in late 2001. Some Afghan officials have claimed that a portion of the militants fighting in northern Afghanistan are loyal to Islamic State (IS), but the evidence for this is scanty. While there could be a small IS presence in Afghanistan, the few groups publicly claiming allegiance are fringe or outcast elements perhaps just looking for publicity -- or possibly even funding from the world's richest terrorist organization. Another crucial question concerns the fighters' goals. Some Afghan military officials and local militia commanders have claimed these militants are intent on holding the ground they’ve seized, unlike previous Taliban groupings that usually attacked then withdrew when the government rallied forces. There have also been claims that IMU militants, rather than the Taliban, are directing some of the fighting. For now, IMU fighters in Afghanistan seem more focused on their survival than anything else. It wasn't always that way. Their original goal when they first emerged in the late 1990s was to violently unseat Uzbekistan's government. They then expanded that goal to include the capture of all of Central Asia. When they were based in the Pakistani tribal areas, the IMU often took part in attacks launched by their allies and hosts -- Tehreek-e Taliban and Al-Qaeda -- on targets in Pakistan. Attacking those targets wasn't part of the IMU's original agenda but was perhaps necessary to remain in the sanctuaries offered to them and their families. Freed from this obligation and now being closer to their Central Asian homeland, the IMU may well refocus their goals and again concentrate on the group's original objectives. They will eventually have to settle somewhere. They are unlikely to go back to Pakistan and Shi'ite Iran would provide no welcome. The southern lands of Afghanistan are Pashtun territory and the IMU has a history of bad relations with the Pashtuns, at least in Pakistan's tribal areas. For now, their best option appears to be to stay where they are -- at the gateway to their homeland.
(Posted 4 Jun 15: http://www.terrorismwatch.org/2015/06/closer-to-home-islamic-movement-of.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+terrorismwatch%2FJTvK+%28Terrorism+Watch%29)