On January 15, 2019, al-Shabaab gunmen stormed an upscale hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The attack lasted over 12 hours, killing 22 people and wounding 27 others.
“A group of Taliban officials met over the weekend in Iran with leaders of several armed Afghan resistance groups, reportedly offering to let them return home safely. It was the first direct interaction between Afghanistan’s new rulers and an alliance of domestic militias that launched a short-lived uprising after the Islamist extremists took power in August. But a spokesman for the resistance groups later angrily rejected the Taliban’s outreach move, saying the meetings had “achieved nothing” and calling the Taliban a tyrannical regime that opposes human rights and freedoms. He said that the Taliban is not serious about addressing the group’s concerns and that they will continue to fight. “We tried to leave a door open,” Sigbatullah Ahmadi told the BBC Persian service in an interview in Afghan Dari on Monday night. “The Taliban were thinking we would stop our resistance if they offer us ministries, provinces, embassies. Our resistance is not for participation in a tyrannical government. Our resistance is for the people of Afghanistan.” Bilal Karimi, a senior Taliban spokesman, said in a tweet Monday that two top Afghan militia leaders, Ismail Khan from western Herat province and Ahmad Massoud from northern Panjshir province, met with the Taliban’s acting foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, and other officials.”
“Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least five people in a restaurant in the city of Beni in eastern Congo on Dec. 25, the group’s Amaq news agency said on a Telegram channel on Monday. The suicide bomber was also killed and 14 people were injured in the attack, the latest violence in a region where Congolese and Ugandan forces have launched a campaign against suspected Islamists.”
“A Florida man suspected of being affiliated with Antifa was busted near a Jan. 6 anniversary rally in Florida carrying a homemade pipe bomb and a detailed plan of “direct action,” authorities said. Garrett James Smith was arrested Thursday — his 22nd birthday — as a local congressman joined more than 80 others at a rally supporting a member of the Oath Keepers being held on Capitol riot charges. Officers chased Smith — who “stuck out” dressed all in black, including a ski mask — when he suddenly sprinted away from the rally outside Pinellas County Jail, local Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told a press conference. Officers then found a homemade pipe bomb in his backpack, which “had the potential to be very harmful,” the sheriff warned. “It could have been very destructive, and he could have hurt a lot of people,” Gualtieri said, adding that he was certain Smith was “prepared” to set off the bomb before he was spooked and fled. Alongside the bomb, officers found a handwritten “direct action checklist” detailing the armor he needed, such as a gas mask, duct tape and flammable rags, the sheriff said. Smith also had a black helmet decorated with three red arrows in a circle, the sheriff said of the “Iron Front” logo widely used by Antifa. The suspect had until several months ago been based in Portland, the troubled Oregon city that saw nightly riots by the left-wing militant group.”
“Dozens of members of a white supremacist group marched alongside anti-abortion activists Saturday afternoon in the Loop. Video footage from the event shows March for Life members heckling the far-right group Patriot Front as they attempted to join their rally. Patriot Front members were clad in their uniform khakis, blue jackets and white face coverings, with many holding large shields and wearing shin guards. Members held a large sign which read “STRONG FAMILIES MAKE STRONG NATIONS.” Thomas Rousseau, the group’s figurehead, was seen leading the front of the group in a cowboy hat and no face covering. Rousseau previously led another extremist group, Vanguard America, at the disastrous “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. “What are you carrying shields for? This is a peaceful demonstration. You guys are an embarrassment,” a man with March for Life yelled at the Patriot Front members in one video posted to Twitter. Patriot Front members did not respond to hecklers in the video and eventually stopped marching alongside the anti-abortion activists who ended their demonstration in front of the Hilton Hotel. In a blog post, the Anti-Defamation League defines the Patriot Front as a white supremacist group who “espouses racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance under the guise of preserving the ‘ethnic and cultural origins’ of their European ancestors.”
“Iraqi authorities have repatriated 111 families linked to ISIS from a Kurdish-run camp in northern Syria, a local official said on Monday. They arrived on Saturday and were transferred to Al Jadaa camp south of Mosul, in Nineveh province, the official said. Since May 2021, at least 339 families linked to ISIS have been moved from Al Hol camp in north-east Syria to Al Jadaa which holds about 7,500 internally displaced people. These include families of extremists, some of whom hail from other parts of Iraq, including the provinces of Salaheddine and Ramadi, Iraqi authorities say. The prospect of their return to their places of origin has sparked concern among residents who survived the brutal rule of ISIS when it occupied a third of Iraq between 2014 and 2017. In late 2017, Iraq declared “victory” over ISIS after driving the extremists from all urban areas, with support from a US-led coalition. Iraqi authorities announced last month their intention to close Al Jadaa, the last camp sheltering displaced people in the country, outside the autonomous region of Kurdistan. But the process is long and facing resistance from local populations who do not want ISIS families among them. The International Organisation for Migration says six million Iraqis were displaced during ISIS's rule.”
“An explosion in eastern Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan has killed at least nine children and wounded four others, according to local officials. The blast on Monday took place when a cart selling food items struck an old, unexploded mortar shell in Baiganan village in the district of Lalopar, according to a statement from the office of the governor of Nangarhar province. The wounded children were taken to the regional hospital in the provincial capital of Jalalabad for treatment, the statement said. No other details were immediately available. Afghanistan is among the countries with the most unexploded land mines and other ordnance from the country’s decades of war and conflict. When the ordnance detonates, the victims are often children. The Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K) has claimed responsibility for a series of bloody attacks in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country in mid-August 2020, including in Nangarhar, one of its most common targets. The affiliate of the ISIL (ISIS) armed group has operated in Afghanistan since 2014, carrying out dozens of horrific attacks and most often targeting the country’s minority Shia Muslims.”
“A band of suspected Daesh militants is on the run in Pakistan after escaping a police raid that killed six other members of the group, officials said Monday. Counterterrorism police said in a statement they had stormed a hideout in the southwestern city of Quetta on Saturday and killed six militants, but “around four to five managed to escape.” A senior police official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP that “teams are now raiding different areas to arrest those who escaped.” Among the dead was Asghar Sumalani, a junior commander in the regional chapter of Daesh State-Khorasan. He had a two million rupee ($11,400) bounty on his head. Pakistani officials have long played down the presence of IS-K in their country. But the group has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks, including the slaying of 11 miners from the minority Shiite Hazara community last year. Some of the miners were beheaded after being kidnapped from a remote coal mine in the mountainous Machh area, 60 kilometers (37 miles) southeast of Quetta. IS-K has deep roots in several provinces in eastern Afghanistan along the porous border with Pakistan. The group carried out a suicide bombing at Kabul airport in August, killing scores including 13 US service members, as the Taliban retook Afghanistan.”
“The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said on Monday that 220 Houthi militants were killed in airstrikes on Shabwa province, Saudi state TV reported. The coalition added that 29 military vehicles were also destroyed during 38 operations targeting the Iran-backed Houthi militia over the last 24 hours. In a separate statement, the coalition said it had carried out 11 other operations targeting the Houthis in Marib, killing 50 fighters and destroying seven vehicles. Meanwhile, pro-government forces in Yemen backed by the coalition said they had seized control of the northern oil-rich Shabwa province from the Houthis rebels. The pro-government Giants Brigade announced in a statement the “liberation of the district of Ain” after a 10-day assault, which it said had been the last area of the province left in Houthi control. The militia began a major push to seize the government’s last northern stronghold in Marib and Shabwa last February and, after a lull, they renewed their offensive in September, when they seized districts in Shabwa. But the Giants Brigade, a force of an estimated 15,000 fighters, had launched a pushback, announcing last month that troop reinforcements had been sent to bolster positions in Shabwa.”
"The dynamics of the Middle East are changing. From a protracted pandemic to a rise in Chinese interest and influence in the region and a general fatigue in the West of long military conflicts, the region today poses both threats and opportunities that are far different than they were even a couple of years ago. The Cipher Brief talked with Expert Norm Roule, who served as Former National Intelligence Manager for Iran at ODNI – and now travels routinely to the region for meetings with high-level officials in multiple countries – to get his take on how he sees the region changing, the dynamics behind it, the new U.S. role and where issues and events are most likely heading."
“Nigerian troops have eliminated scores of ISWAP fighters and Boko Haram terrorists at Kawuri and Kayamla respectively in two separate operations. Both operations were carried out on Monday in communities within Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State. PRNigeria gathered that ISWAP terrorists had attempted to attack a military base at Kawuri to loot the armoury when the troops after obtaining intelligence on their movement ambushed and eliminated them with full force before the Nigerian aircraft shelled their fleeing guntrucks. Meanwhile, with the support of the Civilian JTF, troops of the 73 Battalion stationed at Jere also eliminated suspected Boko Haram terrorists on a looting spree after invading Kayamla community. The terrorists were ambushed while escaping with rustled cattle and other items they stole from the community. Items recovered from the terrorists in the two operations included guntrucks, sophisticated weapons, ammunition and phones.”
“The UAE on Monday pushed for “redoubled” efforts against ISIS and Boko Haram across Africa’s Sahel belt before the terrorist groups establish footholds for launching future attacks. UAE ambassador Lana Nusseibeh told the UN Security Council that the “fragile security situation in West Africa and the Sahel is worsening” and called for tougher counter-terror operations. “It is necessary to redouble our efforts to combat terrorist groups in these areas, especially [ISIS] and Boko Haram, who may take advantage of the political vacuum and the deteriorating social and economic conditions to establish a foothold for their terrorist activities,” Ms Nusseibeh said. She also warned of the “link between organised crime and terrorism” in the vast, turbulent region and the “persistent acts of piracy and armed robbery” carried out by maritime raiders in the Gulf of Guinea. Mali has struggled to suppress a brutal insurgency that emerged in the north of the country in 2012 before spreading to central regions and to nearby Burkina Faso and Niger. Large parts of Mali’s vast territory lie outside of government control, and the worsening insurgency and instability have claimed thousands of lives and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.”
“Police and MI5 are making “a serious investment in terrorist lifetime offender management” due to the long-term threat posed by freed terror offenders, the country’s top counter-terrorism officer has said. The threat from those convicted has become a growing challenge for police and Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes said police were “very, very much alive” to the danger that released extremists presented to the public. Following attacks by freed terror convicts, there has been rising concern about short sentences given to extremist offenders. The incidents also raised issues about the effectiveness of de-radicalisation efforts in the prison system. In November 2019, Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt were killed by Usman Khan at Fishmongers’ Hall, London after he was released from prison on licence in December 2018. He was convicted of plotting to set up a terrorist training camp in 2012. In February 2020, Sudesh Amman, another released terrorist offender, stabbed two people on Streatham High Road, London. After the attack in Fishmongers’ Hall, legislation to enforce longer sentences for some terror offences was passed. However, this means sometimes offenders have to be arrested for lesser crimes carrying shorter terms so their plots can be intercepted before it’s too late.”
“French President Emmanuel Macron visited the city of Nice on Monday in what could be considered an unofficial presidential re-election campaign stop. Macron was in Nice to discuss security and safety, a topic particularly important for the Mediterranean city. In 2016, an extremist terrorist drove a cargo truck into a packed crowd celebrating Bastille Day. The attack killed 86 people and injured countless more. During his visit, Macron met with law enforcement officials and lawmakers to discuss security measures in the city and country. “We have invested heavily in our security forces to ensure the safety of our citizens,” Macron said at a press conference. “The people have the right to live in peace every single day, but there's a lot more to do.” Macron has not officially confirmed whether or not he will seek re-election. However, the visit to Nice is being viewed as an unofficial confirmation of a second-term run. Nice is often considered to be a critical city for elections, as they often lean conservative and right wing. The lean could be significant for the centrist Macron, whose biggest competitor for president is the Republicans' Valérie Pécresse. If Macron is planning to run for re-election, he is expected to do so soon, as the French presidential election will occur on April 10.”
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