Afghanistan/Taliban – The Taliban has released yet another propaganda video that shows its fighters parading openly in broad daylight in an Afghan military base after overrunning it in a night-time assault it was reported on the 10 Oct 17. Yet again, the Taliban occupied an overrun Afghan outpost for an extended period of time without fear of being targeted by Afghan or Coalition air or ground power. The latest scenes are from a recent Taliban propaganda video titled “Conquests in Balkh.” The Taliban operations took place in the districts of Chimtal and Chahr Bolak. FDD’s Long War Journal has assessed Chimtal as contested, while the status of Chahr Bolak is undetermined. The events shown in “Conquests in Balkh” are nothing new. Over the six months, the Taliban has released videos from the provinces of Nimroz, Kandahar, Helmand, Ghazni, and Paktika that detail Taliban successes. In all cases, the Taliban is able to loiter at bases and district centres for hours or even days without fear of reprisal. The Taliban currently control or contest 45 percent of Afghanistan’s districts, according to a study by FDD’s Long War Journal. The group has been able to make significant gains in Afghanistan over the past several years in part because it is not being made to pay the price for assembling and operating in the open.
India/Kashmir – At least two fighters and a civilian have been killed and several others wounded in clashes in the southern part of Indian-administered Kashmir, police said. The gun battle started early on the morning of the 14 Oct 17 after security agencies received information about the presence of fighters linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba group in Litter village. "Two terrorists were killed in the operation today; one of them was the district commander of Lashkar-e-Taiba. There were no casualties among the forces," Shesh Paul Vaid, state police chief, said. Police identified the slain civilian as 25-year-old old Gulzar Ahmad Mir from Lassipora village in Pulwama, 30km from the main city of Srinagar in the disputed region. Vaid said that Mir was shot when protesters started throwing stones at paramilitary personnel after the operation. The man later succumbed to his wounds. Muhammad Aslam, Pulwama district police superintendent, said one more protester was in critical condition after suffering bullet wounds, while four others sustained minor injuries. Police said that internet services were temporarily suspended in Pulwama district to prevent further disturbance of public order. As the news of the killings spread on the 14 Oct 17 thousands protested and clashed with police in several parts of southern Kashmir, where residents chanted slogans against India and in favour of Lashkar-e-Taiba. The separatist group has fought against New Delhi's rule since 1989. On the 11 Oct 17 two Indian air force commandos and two fighters were killed in a gun battle in north Kashmir's Bandipora village. Three fighters and an Indian soldier were killed when the gunmen stormed an Indian army camp outside the region's international airport. In Aug 17 suicide attackers managed to enter the highly guarded police camp in southern Kashmir's Pulwama and killed four policemen and four paramilitary personnel.
India/Nagaland/ISIS – The intelligence branch of Nagaland Police on the 13 Oct 17 has highlighted the major security threat that Rohingya poses to the national security. The report also said that Rohingya are most likely to attack Nagaland. According to the report by the Nagaland Intelligence sources, the Rohingya rebels are in contact with the Imam of Dimapur and have also begun to collecting huge amount of arms and ammunition from Bangladesh. According to officials, as many as 2,000 Muslims have volunteered to take up arms against the Nagas, if the latter try to drive them out. The Imam is planning to attack Hebron and Kehoi camps post which will be convenient for them to capture Nagaland. Around 20 ISIS terrorists have entered Nagaland and are training the volunteers. Suicide bomb attacks and bomb blasts are likely throughout Nagaland. The authorities have directed the movement of Muslims in Dimapur. Highlighting the gravity of the Rohingya influx, BSF Inspector General (RETD) VK Gaur stated that the forces deployed for refugee camps restrict the entry of genuine global relief agencies to make shift refugee camps. However, several radical Islamic organizations are active inside the camps. Gaur said, "It is believed that Pakistan's Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), elements from Al Quaida, Jamat and Islami, Chhatra Shibir, ISI and some other Islamist groups have infiltrated the camps relief workers for distributing relief material from Islamic countries." "They have picked up a significant number of young refugees for arms training." It is learned that during the night such people are whisked away in vehicles of security forces to three districts including Bandarban and Khagrachari. Forces that are supporters of ISI and oppose Indo- Bangladesh amity, "he added. 140 vulnerable spots have been identified along 4096 km long Indo- BD border from where Muslim Rohingya cross over to India. According to the former BSF IG Gaur on April 1, 2004, the Bangladesh Police seized sophisticated firearms including 27,020 grenades; 840 rocket launchers, 3000 rockets, 2,000 grenade-launching tubes; 6,392 magazines; and 11,40,520 rounds of assorted ammunition. The consignment was to be delivered to insurgents of North-East India and the radical religious outfits of Bangladesh. The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority, are denied citizenship under the 1982 Myanmar citizenship law. The Myanmar government recognizes them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. A crackdown by the Myanmar's Army, launched in response to attacks by the Rohingya militants on August 25, has pushed vast numbers of refugees from the stateless Muslim minority across the Bangladesh border. The violence has incubated a humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border. Lately, dead bodies of Hindu Rohingya killed mercilessly by the Rohingya Muslims were exhumed in Myanmar.
Kashmir/Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – At least three suspected rebels and one soldier were killed in Indian-controlled Kashmir after fighters stormed a paramilitary base, according to local officials. The attack began in the early hours of the 3 Oct 17 when three fighters raided the heavily guarded Border Security Force (BSF) camp outside a regional airport in Humhama, some 17km from the area's main city of Srinagar. The operation against the fighters continued into the afternoon as hundreds of police, paramilitary and army personnel surrounded the area. Munir Khan, Kashmir police chief said that the operation ended later on the 3 Oct 17 when all three attackers were "neutralised". He added that one BSF personnel was also killed and three others wounded. Flights to and from Srinagar International Airport were initially suspended after the attack, but were resumed later on th 3 Oct. Rebel groups have been fighting for decades for the Indian-administered portion to become independent or merge with Pakistan. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting and the ensuing Indian military crackdown. Anti-India sentiment runs deep among Kashmir's mostly Muslim population and most support the rebels' cause against Indian rule. India has accused Pakistan of arming and training the rebels, which Pakistan denies. The latest attack comes amid a major offensive by the Indian army in south Kashmir districts. More than 130 rebels have been killed by the military this year, according to officials. In Aug 17 suicide attackers stormed a heavily guarded police installation in the southern part of this disputed territory, killing four policemen and four paramilitary personnel. Last year, armed rebels attacked an army base near the frontier town of Uri, killing 18 soldiers.
Russia/Da’esh – Russia's intelligence agency on the 2 Oct 17 said it had arrested members of an Islamic State group "cell" which was preparing terror attacks. The FSB said in a statement it had "thwarted the illegal activities of... the international terrorist organisation Islamic State" on September 30, by detaining all members of a cell in the Moscow region. It said they were all from Muslim-majority republics in the Caucasus but took orders from "foreign emissaries" pledging allegiance to IS. An FSB representative later told Russian media that two of the men arrested were brothers from Russia's Republic of Dagestan, in the north Caucasus. "One is 22 years old, the other is 19," the FSB employee said. The group was planning "significant" terror acts in Russia, including in densely populated places and on public transport, the statement said, without specifying the number held. Two home-made explosives as well as guns and grenades were found during raids on their homes. Russian officials regularly claim foiling terror plots. In August, the FSB said it had arrested four IS members who were planning suicide attacks in Moscow shopping malls. In Jul 17 security services said they arrested seven Central Asian migrants accused of preparing attacks in St Petersburg, where 15 were killed in a metro bombing in April claimed by a little known group called the Imam Shamil Battalion.
North Korea/Egypt – Egyptian port authorities seized a North Korean ship stuffed with rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) that was part of an illegal weapons smuggling scheme in August 2016, the Washington Post reported on the 2 Oct 17. The incident is the apparent root of tensions between Egypt and the US, allies who have been at odds in recent months for ambiguous reasons. The North Korean ship, Jie Shun, was travelling through the Suez Canal flying Cambodian colours when Egyptian customs officials descended for a raid. The agents, reportedly acting on a secret tip from the United States, found 30,000 RPGs hidden aboard valued at roughly $23 million total. The Jie Shun was en route to an unknown buyer. UN investigators say they suspect the buyer to be Egyptian businessmen who hoped to then sell the RPGs to the Egyptian military. It isn't clear if the North Koreans received payment for the goods or not. The UN investigators added that the incident was the "largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea." As the case was part of an ongoing UN investigation, few details were available about the dramatic series of events before the Post story broke. The incident caused friction between Washington and Cairo, according to the UN, after the Americans accused the Egyptians of secret cooperation with Pyongyang. American officials claimed that the US told Cairo about the incident to force them to take action – otherwise, Egypt would have been able plausibly deny they knew anything about the ship's cargo. The Egyptian embassy in Washington issued a statement addressing the charges of prohibited collusion with the heavily-sanctioned Asian nation. "Egypt will continue to abide by all Security Council resolutions and will always be in conformity with these resolutions as they restrain military purchases from North Korea," the embassy said in their statement. Several countries have been accused of buying conventional weapons from North Korea, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, Syria and Uganda. However, all of those countries are sanctioned by the US, with Eritrea joining the club in September for buying North Korean weapons and not complying with US standards of human trafficking prevention. Egypt, on the other hand, is one of the US' closest allies in the Middle East, although relations have stumbled over allegations of human rights abuses at Cairo's hands. "We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt," said US President Donald Trump in April. Just a few months later, however, almost $300 million in planned US military aid to Egypt was frozen or delayed. The Trump White House at the time claimed that Egypt's poor human rights records in recent years was the reason for the freeze, but now it's been unveiled that the accusations of cooperation with North Korea were the true cause of the schism. "The recent cut in the US military aid to Egypt was a clear message to Cairo: You choose us or North Korea, you cannot have military relations with both of us," Egyptian political analyst Mohammed el-Menshawy said to the Associated Press. "Cairo got the message and it cut ties with North Korea." Before Egypt entered the US bloc in the late 1970s, they had an alliance and military relationship with North Korea via their mutual ally the Soviet Union. DPRK pilots trained the Egyptian Air Force after Cairo's defeat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel, and the two nations have been known to buy and sell ballistic missiles from one another as recently as the 1990s.
Pakistan/Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – The Election Commission of Pakistan has rejected the registration application of a new political party due to its links to charities said to be fronts for the armed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group. Milli Muslim League's (MML) application for registration was rejected on the 11 Oct 17 by a four-man panel headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza in the capital Islamabad, MML spokesperson Tabish Qayyum confirmed. "We have been told that we need to get clearance from the interior ministry," he said. "This is an unprecedented move." Qayyum said the MML would challenge the ECP's decision in the high court in the coming days. The ECP's decision was based on a letter from the interior ministry advising the panel that the political party was known to be linked to the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) charities, both of which are subjected to international anti-terrorist sanctions by the UN and US. According to the UN, JuD and FIF are front organisations for LeT which is blamed for carrying out attacks against Indian security forces in the disputed region of Kashmir. LeT was also blamed for the 2012 Mumbai attacks which killed 166 people. JuD chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who is also founder of the LeT, has been designated as a "terrorist" by the UN. The US has also placed a $10m bounty on Saeed for his role as JuD chief. Saeed has been under house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore under local anti-terrorism laws since Jan 17. He denies any wrongdoing and rejects claims that the JuD and FIF have any links to the LeT. Launched in Aug 17 MML officials confirmed that while the party shares ideological links and supporters with the JuD, it is a legally distinct entity that does not share any officials. Saifullah Khalid, the MML chief, has long been a member of JuD's central leadership, although the party says he has now given up that post. "The MML structure and design is independent - there are no office holders who are also leaders of the JuD," said Qayyum. "They may go to events and programmes, but they are independently in the MML now, it is totally separate." Last week, Pakistan's military spokesman confirmed that the state was working on a "mainstreaming" programme to induct members of armed groups into the political process and away from carrying out "terrorist" activities. "It is in my knowledge that the government has started some discussion over how to mainstream them so they could do constructive contribution," Pakistan Army spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor told reporters at a press conference. Ghafoor did not comment on the military's specific role in such a programme. Last month, an MML candidate ran as an independent candidate in a major by-election in Lahore, challenging the ruling PML-N in its political heartland. Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh finished fourth in that election, garnering 4.6 percent of the vote. Sheikh's election banners prominently featured images of JuD chief Saeed, and several said they were moved to vote for him based on JuD's humanitarian work across the country. Tehreek Labbaik Pakistan, a right-wing religious party that featured images of Mumtaz Qadri, a man convicted of murdering a provincial governor over blasphemy allegations, finished in a surprising third place, with 5.6 percent of the vote. The MML registration rejection comes days before another by-election, in the north-western city of Peshawar, where the party is fielding its candidate as an independent.
Russia/Syria/al-Qaeda – Russia's military says it has carried out airstrikes in Syria that critically wounded the leader of an al-Qaeda-linked group and killed 12 other militant commanders. Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry, said in a statement on the 4 Oct 17 that the airstrikes wounded Abu Mohammed al-Golani, leader of the al-Qaeda-linked Levant Liberation Committee. He says the strikes took place on the 3 Oct 17 at an undisclosed location in Syria. Konashenkov says 50 other militants who were securing the gathering were also killed. There was no immediate comment from the militant group. Moscow has blamed the al-Qaeda-linked group for attacking Russian military police in Syria's western Hama province last week.
Turkey – A bomb planted by Kurdish militants ripped into a military vehicle, killing four soldiers and wounding four more, as they travelled in southeast Turkey near the border with Iran on the morning of the 4 Oct 17, local authorities said. Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants were behind the attack, which occurred in the Yuksekova district of Hakkari province, the provincial governor’s office said in a statement. Security sources said a large number of armoured vehicles were sent to the site of the blast. The governor’s office said the wounded were being treated at a nearby hospital. 361 COMMENT: Although you cannot dispute the governor’s claim there is no communiqué from the PKK to say that they carried out the attack even if they normally do so in those areas. This leaves the verification one sided especially in light of the recent independence vote by the Kurds as well as the closure of the airspace in the autonomous Kurdish region and Baghdad refusing to sell hard currency such as the dollar to Kurdish banks: COMMENT ENDS
Turkey – Turkish security forces neutralized 41 terrorists in operations it carried out in different cities last week, announced the Interior Ministry on the 9 Oct 17. It said in a statement that the security forces carried out, in the period between October 2 and 9, 1,648 raids against terrorist organizations. The ministry added that eight terrorists surrendered, 15 were arrested and 18 were killed during the raids. The statement added that the Turkish security forces also detained 136 people on suspicion of supporting terrorist groups, 52 people on suspicion of belonging to ISIS and 27 people on suspicion of belonging to banned left-wing terrorist organizations. Moreover, Turkish counter-terrorism forces carried out a series of successful operations against ISIS during the last few days, during which six Syrians were arrested in the western city of Bursa on the 13 Oct 17 revealed security sources. In this context, the Turkish authorities announced on October 3 that security authorities arrested ISIS Commander Abou Youssef, aka Khaider Karim, during a security operation in the Turkish capital, Ankara. Abou Youssef is an Iraqi citizen, whom Iraqi authorities had previously declared to have been killed. Turkish authorities said that the Special Investigations Office of Sakarya province received information that Abou Youssef was alive and living in Ankara. Based on the investigation of the Special Investigations Office, a Turkish counter-terrorism units raided his house and arrested him. The units also found 40 fake ID cards in his house. Abou Youssef was handed over to Sakarya province Public Prosecution Office that charged him with “genocide”, “belonging to a terrorist organization” and “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order”. The arrested terrorist had been an active member of the al-Qaeda terrorist group since 2011. He defected from it in 2014 and joined ISIS, becoming one of its commanders in al-Anbar governorate in Iraq. The Turkish security forces have been carrying out several campaigns against ISIS since the beginning of this year after the organization was involved in more than one bombing and terrorist attacks in different parts of Turkey in 2016 and early 2017.
Turkey/The West/Al-Monitor (16 Oct 17) – Even as tensions with the United States continue to churn, Turkey has turned its ire on European partners, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accusing Brussels of double-dealing and daring it to unilaterally end Turkey’s decades long membership bid ahead of a summit this week. Relations with the United States hit a nadir after Washington suspended non-immigration visas in Turkey on Oct. 8 following the arrest of a second consular employee. Turkey responded in kind, and Erdogan spent much of last week blasting Washington. “We are not beholden to you,” he thundered. Then Erdogan lashed out at the European Union, which Turkey has long hoped to join, angry that he is hit with “a new assault every day.” Erdogan accused both the EU and the United States of speculative attacks on Turkey’s economy and using Kurdish militants to undermine the country in an address of provincial leaders of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Oct. 13. “Those who are unable to bring Turkey to its knees politically, socially and diplomatically appear before us with a new game,” he said. “Europe continues to stall, but we remain patient. You will be the ones to leave the table, not us. If you are honest, make your statement and let’s finish this. We have no need for you,” he said, going on to add that the need must be mutual. Indeed, Europe is Turkey’s biggest source of direct investment and its main trading partner. US and European aircraft use Turkish air bases to fight the Islamic State, and Turkey’s army, the second-largest in NATO, was long a bulwark against Iranian and Russian influence. But Western capitals have questioned Turkey’s loyalty as its foreign policy, especially on Syria, appears to align more closely with Moscow and Tehran’s, as well as its commitment to human rights amid a clampdown on civil society in the wake of a failed coup last year. For its part, Turkey is fuming over US support for Kurdish rebels in Syria, widely seen as linked to militants who have waged war against Turkey. “From a cultural and political standpoint, Erdogan thinks the EU and the US are detrimental to his long-term ambitions,” Aaron Stein, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Al-Monitor. “He’s also in a rhetorical cul-de-sac [in which] it is easier to deflect attention from his own faults if it appears the international community is against him.” Erdogan’s taunting comes ahead of this week’s EU summit, at which European leaders are expected to discuss the strained relationship. Germany, the EU’s biggest member with the most clout, is outraged over the detentions of at least 11 of its citizens for “political reasons,” including two journalists and a human rights activist, in Turkey’s post-coup crackdown, and Chancellor Angela Merkel said last month membership talks with Turkey should end. The Turkish leader may also be trying to sway party members uneasy with an overhaul of the AKP ahead of the 2019 elections or the post-coup crackdown that has persisted for 15 months to close ranks. “Turkey’s foreign policy is viewed as a resource to address the needs of domestic policy,” Ilter Turan, professor emeritus of international relations at Bilgi University in Istanbul, told Al-Monitor. Pointing out grievances abroad, he said, “puts the strife he is leading inside on the back burner. It can be assessed as an uncomplicated political tactic.” In a sign of conciliation, a US State Department delegation is due to hold talks in Ankara Oct. 17. Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said Oct. 15, “Turkey has no intention of withdrawing from the [EU] process,” which Ankara formally began in 2005 but has concluded only one of 31 negotiating chapters. But in his speech, Erdogan revived criticism of the EU for failing to honor its pledge to scrap visas for Turks and deliver a full 6 billion Euros ($7 billion) of financial aid in exchange for Turkey stemming irregular migration flows to Europe. Erdogan also said that Europe and the United States were seeking to divert Turkey’s focus and energy away from regional matters, perhaps a reference to his military’s latest incursion into northern Syria, agreed upon with Iran and Russia, Turkish adversaries for centuries. Despite a half-dozen high-profile meetings, Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin remain at odds over agricultural exports and a missile defence system Ankara wants from Moscow. Confusion persists about whether Turkey, an outspoken critic of the Syrian government, could switch sides. “If the EU is a goal for Turkey, that entire policy has collapsed. If managing relations with the United States is a goal, that too has collapsed," said Stein. "If you peel back the facade with Putin, you have disputes. Erdogan has run Turkish foreign policy into the ground. I have never seen Turkey this isolated.” 361 COMMENT: Since the Jul 16 Turkish attempted coup everything that has happened with Turkey has been to do with President Erdogan. In the wake of the coup he has accused the United States of housing the person behind the attempted takeover and have his Personal Security team attack people on American soil accusing the Americans of being the instigators. The European Union of being against him simply because certain countries in Europe refused to allow Turkish ministers to attend Turkish electoral speeches in certain countries, the main being Germany to which he has personally attacked Angela Merkel; and other countries for having different views to him regarding the Kurds. He has incarcerated thousands in his own country who are being accused of assisting or being part of the coup even threatening to reinstate the death penalty. He has a number of problems and knows that he is politically in trouble and has to deflect elsewhere. The problems with Turkey are not the Turkish people but belong to the current President. He is aware that he is slowly burning bridges with the United States, Russia and Europe and is attempting to turn his attention to the Middle East as they have the same religion even to the extent of offering to mediate in the current dispute with Qatar. Before the coup these problems did not exist but sadly President Erdogan has taken everything personally and this problem with Turkey isolating itself will not end until President Erdogan has been electorally defeated and another party takes over. The longer he takes to resolve all these matters the longer and more difficult it will be to resolve the problems and for Turkey to regain the stature it deserves within the world. For now all President Erdogan is doing is taking a personal matter, making it worse and the Turkish people are it is those that will suffer in the long run. COMMENT ENDS