Belgium – Two people were killed in an anti-terror operation in eastern Belgium on the 15 Jan 15. A third person was injured in the raid in the town of Verviers. Several arrests had been made. Unconfirmed reports said raids were also taking place in Brussels and elsewhere in Belgium which were thought to be jihadist related. Intelligence had indicated that they had been planning an attack. On the 16 Jan 15 Belgian police detained 13 people during a dozen anti-terror raids against a militant group across the country, state prosecutors said during a press conference on the 16 Jan 15. Two more people were held in France, they said. The prosecutors said they found guns, explosives, money and police uniforms in an apartment in the eastern city of Verviers. Officials have said they feared the group was about to launch attacks on police stations. A spokesman told a news conference there was no apparent link to last week’s Islamist attacks in Paris and the identities of two gunmen killed during one of the raids in Verviers on the 15 Jan had yet to be confirmed. All three were citizens of Belgium. Officials said the suspects had returned from Syria and were about to launch imminent attacks on Belgian police stations. The Belgian probe into the Islamist suspects had been under way before the 7 Jan 15 attacks on French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and officials saw no obvious link between the two. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel followed the operation and raised the national alert level to three from two on a four-point scale. 361 COMMENT: Depending on the source that is read depends on the plot that is thought to have been uncovered. In one it was a police station, in another it is According to the Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper the terrorist cell was planning to kidnap a senior police officer or magistrate before beheading them for a video to be distributed on the internet. Another was the taking of a bus for an attack. So as yet their intended target is only being guessed at rather than having clear information, as the days go on more reliable information will forthcoming. However the British Daily Telegraph have said that, “Police sources have suggested that the raids in Belgium are part of an international operation in seven countries including Yemen.” These comments would indicate that there is still more to come. People in Europe, Southern Asia and the United States need to be very aware over the next coming months. COMMENT ENDS.
France/Libya – France says it is ready to carry out strikes against fighters crossing out of Libya's southern border, and prevent the flow of weapons to groups fighting in North Africa's lawless Sahel region reports claimed on the 6 Jan 15. French President Francois Hollande made the announcement on the 5 Jan 15 but Libya's internationally recognised parliament rejected any Western military intervention in the conflict-wracked African nation. "Foreign military intervention in Libya is rejected. If we need any military intervention, we will ask our Arab brothers," parliament speaker Aqila Issa said. While ruling out unilateral intervention, Hollande said that French forces would strike fighters "every time they leave these places where they are hiding". "We are making sure to contain the terrorism that took refuge there, in southern Libya. But France will not intervene in Libya because it's up to the international community to take its responsibility,'' Hollande told France-Inter radio. France is currently setting up a military base in northern Niger, 100km from the Libyan border region, and troops have been based in the Sahel region since January 2013. French and US drones are already operating out of Niger's capital, Niamey.
France – On the 7 Jan 15 The French weekly came under fire in 2013 for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to the ire of conservative Muslims. The satirical newspaper has on several occasions depicted Islam’s prophet in an effort to defend free speech and defy the anger of Muslims who believe depicting Mohammed is sacrilegious. In 2011, Charlie Hebdo’s offices were hit by a firebomb and its website pirated after publishing an edition titled “Charia Hebdo” featuring several cartoons on Prophet Mohammad. In 2006, when a newspaper in Denmark published cartoons of the Prophet, Charlie Hebdo republished the cartoon, drawing angry protests across the Muslim world. Several terrorist attacks have been foiled in France in recent weeks before the attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine's offices, Francois Hollande has said. http://www.361security.com/analysis/january-13th-2015
A top leader of Yemen's al-Qaeda branch has claimed responsibility for the attack on the 7 Jan 15 on Paris satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo when two masked gunmen killed 12 people, including much of the weekly's editorial staff and two police officers it was reported on the 14 Jan 15. Nasr al-Ansi, a top commander of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP as the branch is known, appeared in an 11-minute video posted online on the 14 Jan 15 saying that the massacre at Charlie Hebdo was in "vengeance for the prophet". Al-Ansi said that France belongs to the "party of Satan" and warned of more "tragedies and terror". He said that Yemen's al-Qaida branch "chose the target, laid out the plan and financed the operation". "We, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, claim responsibility for this operation as vengeance for the messenger of Allah," Ansi said in the video entitled "A message regarding the blessed battle of Paris." "The leadership of (AQAP) was the party that chose the target and plotted and financed the plan... It was following orders by our general chief Ayman al-Zawahiri," Ansi said. "The heroes were chosen and they answered the call," he said. The claim of responsibility coincided with the return of Charlie Hebdo to newsstands, amid unprecedented demand that saw the paper to print five million copies. The new issue features another cartoon of Prophet Muhammad on its cover, with tears in his eyes, holding a "Je Suis Charlie" sign under the headline "All is forgiven".
Germany – Prosecutors in Germany are reportedly investigating a suspected 50-member cell with links to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) that is planning terror attacks on German soil. Federal prosecutors have confirmed only that they are investigating an individual suspected jihadist in on suspicion of planning “serious subversive violence”. But according to a report in Bild newspaper, the man in question is a member of a 50-man cell based in the northern city of Wolfsburg. The newspaper named the man as Ayoub B, a 26-year-old German-Tunisian, and claimed he is one of seven members of the cell who have travelled to the Middle East to take part in fighting in Syria and Iraq. He returned to Germany last autumn. Five members of the cell are currently still in the Middle East, while a seventh was arrested on his return to Germany in Nov 14, after spending three months at an ISIL training camp in Syria. The information comes as another German jihadist warned his countrymen should “brace themselves” for attacks. Christian Emde, a Muslim covert who was expelled from Britain in 2012 after pleading guilty to attempting to smuggle bomb-making instructions into Britain, issued the warning in an interview filmed in Mosul by Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German journalist who has reported from inside ISIL-held territory. “We will one day conquer Europe. We don’t just want to, we will. And we are sure about that,” Emde said in the video.
361 COMMENT: It would appear that Europe is currently under seize from terrorists. Governments of Europe need to work together to fight this threat for to ignore it now in this early stage will result in a larger problem later. COMMENT ENDS
Spain – Madrid's rail network suffered a major improvised explosive device (IED) scare at 0948 on the 2 Jan 15. An individual of Maghrebi appearance caused panic in a suburban train just outside Madrid's Atocha main station by threatening to blow himself up using his rucksack, implying that it contained an IED. According to press reports from witnesses, he shouted "I'm killing myself for Allah". Passengers stopped the train using the alarm. A full-scale IED alert was called. The station was evacuated and searched, while all services from Atocha were stopped for approximately two hours. The train affected was travelling on the Alcalá de Henares-Madrid C2/C7 suburban route.
United Kingdom – 9 Jan 15 Islamist militants in Syria are planning "mass casualty attacks" on Western targets, the head of British spy agency MI5 has warned, saying the deadly shooting in Paris was only a reminder of an ongoing threat. Security Service chief Andrew Parker was referring in particular to a group of fighters known as Khorasan, sources said, who have been targeted by US warplanes in strikes in northwest Syria. He warned that intelligence agencies needed more powers, in particular to intercept communications, but added: "Although we and our partners try our utmost, we know that we cannot hope to stop everything." Speaking of the broader threats, he said the number of "crude but potentially deadly plots" had increased, citing last year's attacks in Canada and Australia, and were particularly hard to detect. Meanwhile the "complex and ambitious plots" carried out by Al-Qaeda in the past still existed, he told the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) defence and security think-tank in London. These included "attempts to cause large scale loss of life, often by attacking transport systems or iconic targets". The Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq is a well-known threat, targeting Britain and seeking to radicalise Britons, with Parker saying an estimated 600 have gone there to fight. But the MI5 chief added: "We know, for example, that a group of core Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria is planning mass casualty attacks against the West." He is understood to be referring to the Khorasan group, which had been an obscure cell until US intelligence officials called attention to it in September. US officials say the group includes Al-Qaeda operatives from Afghanistan and Pakistan who made their way to Syria, although experts caution they are not a distinct group but are part of Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's Syrian branch. Raffaello Pantucci, an expert in international security at RUSI, said Parker was making clear in his speech that despite the apparent changing nature of recent attacks, the old threats do not go away. "So while we have seen a surge in this kind of lone actor-type thing, we've also still got a lot of people trying to plan big attacks," he told AFP. "The fact that we haven't had a successful one does not mean that people aren't plotting to do that."