Eye on Extremism: January 7, 2020

Deutsche Welle: Al-Shabab Attack On US Air Base In Kenya Signals Resurgence

“The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militant group on Sunday attacked Kenya's Manda Bay Airfield, a military base that houses US and Kenyan troops. Al-Shabab claimed the attack destroyed US equipment, including aircraft and vehicles. The attack killed three American Department of Defense personnel, Kenya and US authorities said on Monday. Five attackers were killed, according to Kenyan military spokesman Paul Njuguna. It is the first time that al-Shabab has carried out an attack against US forces in Kenya.  “These attacks mean that al-Shabab militants are still powerful not only in Lamu but in the whole region bordering Somalia,” George Musamali, a Kenyan security analyst, told DW. Although based in Somalia, al-Shabab frequently launches terror attacks in other African countries, most notably in neighboring Kenya. It has struck there more than 20 times in the past five years, killing at least 300 people. “The group has stepped up its tactics, selecting high-profile targets in the country over the last two months,” said Mohamed Odowa, a DW correspondent based in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. “Al-Shabab has increased its capabilities to even hit beyond the borders of Somalia.”

CNN: Iranian Foreign Minister Accuses US Of 'State Terrorism' As Country's Parliament Votes To Designate US Forces As 'Terrorists'

“Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called US President Donald Trump's decision to order the drone strike that killed the country's top military commander an act of “state terrorism” in an interview with CNN Tuesday. Zarif said the Trump administration's decision to abandon the nuclear deal Tehran negotiated with world powers and embrace hardline policies against Iran “destroyed stability” in the Middle East, and he warned of worse to come if the US did not reverse course. “This is an act of aggression against Iran and amounts to an armed attack against Iran, and we will respond. But we will respond proportionally not disproportionally,” he said. “We will respond lawfully, we are not lawless people like President Trump.” Zarif was referring to a tweet Trump sent Saturday in which the President said that if Iran strikes any Americans or American assets, the United States has 52 Iranian sites targeted -- a reference to the number of Americans taken hostage in the 1979 revolution -- “some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture,” he wrote. Iran's top diplomat said those comments showed Trump “has no respect for international law and is prepared to commit war crimes -- attacking cultural sites is a war crime.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Macron Says France Committed To ISIS Fight, Slams Iran’s 'Aggressive Intentions'

“French President Emmanuel Macron stressed on Monday that Paris is committed to continue the fight against the ISIS group, including through France's military presence in the Middle East. Speaking during a cabinet meeting, he also condemns Iran’s “aggressive intentions” and its decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal. Government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye said the French leader called for a deescalation of tensions over recent events, including the US airstrike that killed Iran's top military commander, Qassem Soleimani, last week in Baghdad. Iran has vowed revenge against Washington and announced Sunday its abandonment of the nuclear pact. The Iraqi parliament backed on Sunday a recommendation by the prime minister that all foreign troops should be ordered out. Around 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq, most in an advisory capacity. France has over 1,000 troops involved in the military operation against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. In a phone call with President Donald Trump on Sunday, Macron expressed his “full solidarity” with the US-led coalition in Iraq and France’s determination to work with partners to ease tensions.”

Syria

The Jerusalem Post: Syrian Shepherds Killed In Massacre Blamed On Iranian Militias And ISIS

“Twenty-one shepherds were killed in a massacre on Sunday in the Ma'adan area of eastern Syria in an attack that Syrian activists blame on Iranian militias, according to the pan-Arab Al-Quds Al-Arabi news site. However, Syrian regime sources blamed the attack on ISIS. The event took place two days after IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike. Syrian Facebook pages and news sites quoted locals as saying that that the shepherds were killed in revenge for the assassination of Soleimani. Navvar Saban, a researcher from the Syrian Omran Centre for Strategic Studies, told Al-Arabi that Iranian militias were likely responsible for the attack. Syrian Civil Defense worker and former journalist Asaad Hanna also blamed Iranian militias for the massacre. Syrian regime media blamed the massacre on ISIS, as ISIS cells operate in the surrounding desert, according to Al-Arabi. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that 19 civilians were killed and five others were missing in the attack in the Al-Sabkhah Desert in Raqqa by unknown assailants on Sunday.”

Iran

The Brookings Institute: How Terrorism Helps — And Hurts — Iran

“The U.S. drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of the paramilitary Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), highlighted the centrality of support for terrorist, insurgent and other substate groups in Iran’s foreign policy. The Quds Force helps arm, train and otherwise support numerous insurgent and rebel groups in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, the Palestinian territories and other areas, and its activities are part of why the United States has long labeled Iran the “world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.” Support for such groups has been an important part of Iran’s foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Such relationships have advanced numerous Iranian interests, undermined its enemies, helped Iran deter adversaries and made the country a global player. At the same time, these ties are camouflage for Iran’s weakness. Even more important, the U.S. and regional response to Iran’s support for various militant groups has contributed to Tehran’s outcast status, decreasing the country’s economic power and diplomatic clout. Iran supports a wide variety of parastatal and nonstate groups, and terms such as “terrorism,” “insurgent” and other labels often fall short.”

Iraq

Voice Of America: Iraqi Forces Trying To Keep Pressure On Islamic State

“Iraqi forces are pushing ahead with their crackdown on Islamic State's ongoing insurgency, despite the pause in assistance from the United States and coalition partners. The Iraqi military's Security Media Cell published photos Monday of a raid in Salahuddin province claiming to have destroyed three IS hideouts while recovering explosives, bomb-making materials and key documents. “The Iraqis are actively conducting D-ISIS operations,” coalition spokesman Col. Myles Caggins confirmed to VOA, using an acronym for the terror group. The Iraqi operation is one of the first since the U.S.-led coalition announced Sunday it was putting efforts to assist and train Iraqi forces in the fight against IS on hold in order to focus on protecting forces from attacks by Iranian-backed groups. “This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations,” the coalition said. “We have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review.” The pause, sparked by what U.S. officials describe as a monthslong, intensifying campaign by Iranian-backed militias to target U.S. personnel, and concerns about Iranian threats to retaliate for the U.S. airstrike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad, comes at a precarious time.”

Yahoo News: Amid Mideast War Drums, Europeans Fear A Fizzling Of The Counter-ISIS Fight In Iraq

“European governments fear there will be a disruption in international efforts to combat the Islamic State group in Iraq, as the United States and Iran continue to trade threats following the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike. The governments of Germany, France and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement late Sunday calling for restraint amid fiery rhetoric by Tehran to avenge the death of its paramilitary Quds Force commander. Killed near Baghdad airport on Friday along with a high-ranking Iraqi militia leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Soleimani was the public face of Iran-backed groups across the region, including in Iraq, mobilized to strengthen Iran’s hand by any means necessary. “We reiterate our support for the sovereignty and security of Iraq,” read the trinational statement, as issued by the German government. “Another crisis would put at risk the years-long efforts to stabilize Iraq.” The statement comes after the Iraqi parliament voted to expel foreign troops from its soil in reaction to the Soleimani and Muhandis killings. Such a move would severely hamper efforts to curtail ISIS at a time when officials from the international coalition leading the fight had touted sizable gains against the militant group.”

Turkey

Kurdistan 24: Police In Turkey Arrest 7 ISIS Suspects, Including 5 Syrian Nationals

“Police in Turkey arrested seven people, including five Syrian nationals, for ties to the so-called Islamic State, local media reported on Tuesday. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said authorities conducted an operation in the western Izmir province, where they detained seven people “who had entered Turkey from conflict zones.” “The suspects were in contact with people in conflict zones and were plotting terrorist attacks,” Anadolu Agency quoted police sources as saying. Late last year, authorities in Turkey said they had apprehended 31 foreign suspects with alleged ties to the Islamic State in central and eastern parts of the country. Among those arrested were nine Iraqi nationals in central Kayseri province for “their terror activities in Iraq and Syria,” Anadolu Agency said. Police also seized weapons, ammunition, digital materials, and other documents during the sweeps. On Christmas day, Turkish police arrested three other people with alleged ties to the Islamic State who were reportedly trying to cross into the country’s eastern border. A week prior, authorities in Turkey arrested 13 individuals suspected to be members of the Islamic State who were allegedly planning a New Year’s attack.”

Afghanistan

The Washington Post: U.S. Ambassador To Afghanistan Departs As Taliban Peace Efforts Remain Stalled

“U.S. Ambassador John R. Bass is ending his two-year tenure in Afghanistan Monday as peace talks with the Taliban remain stalled. The State Department said in a statement Monday that “Ambassador Bass’s departure is long-planned and part of the normal rotation cycle.” The departure of the top American diplomat in Afghanistan comes as American and Taliban negotiators are once again trying to revive efforts to reach a peace deal. During a surprise visit to Afghanistan in November, President Trump announced peace efforts had “made tremendous progress.” A peace agreement would pave the way for the withdrawal of thousands of American troops, a key Trump campaign promise. American and Afghan government officials are asking the Taliban to commit to a reduction in violence before talks are formally restarted. Over the course of Bass’s tenure, peace efforts with the Taliban gained steam and at several points a deal appeared imminent. In September, Taliban and American negotiators agreed on a framework that would have seen the withdrawal of American troops in exchange for a Taliban pledge not to harbor terrorist groups with ambitions to attack the United States. That draft deal was called off by Trump after a Taliban attack killed an American service member.”

Xinhua: 69 Taliban Militants Surrender In Western Afghan Province: Official

“Sixty-nine Taliban militants have surrendered to the Afghan army in western Ghor province amid military pressure in the mountainous region, provincial governor said on Tuesday. “A cleanup operation, launched by Afghan National Army (ANA), is ongoing in Shahrak district during the past one week. About 300 militants are surrounded by the army personnel and on Monday evening, 69 Taliban militants surrendered to army in the district,” Governor Ghulam Nasir Khaze told Xinhua. The surrendered militants also handed over 60 rounds of guns to army officials and the army personnel also found an ammunition cache, based on a tip provided by former militants, according to Khaze. With the former insurgents' surrender, peace and stability would be further strengthened in several parts of the province, some 360 km west of the country's capital, Kabul, the governor said. The governor also called on Taliban members to surrender to the security forces in Ghor. “The security forces will have no pause in their military pressure, during the winter, and the militants will have to surrender or leave the region,” the governor said.”

Nigeria

Voice Of America: 30 Killed In Northeast Nigeria Bomb Blast On Crowded Bridge

“At least 30 people were killed in the northeastern Nigerian state of Borno after an improvised explosive device detonated on a bridge, sources told Reuters on Monday. The bomb detonated at roughly 5 p.m. local time (1600 GMT) on a crowded bridge in the market town of Gamboru that leads into neighboring Cameroon. Witnesses in the market town said more than 35 injured people were taken to the local hospital following the attack. “It is an unfortunate day for us to witness this frustrating and devastating incident in our community,” eyewitness Modu Ali Said told Reuters. “I just heard a loud sound of explosions, before I realized I saw many of our friends and colleagues were killed,” Said added. Two sources with the Civilian Joint Task Force, a group of citizens formed to fight Boko Haram, confirmed the attack and the early death toll estimates. No group immediately took responsibility. Both Boko Haram and the regional offshoot of Islamic State, known as ISWAP, are active in the area.”

All Africa: Nigeria: Boko Haram Attacks Chibok Village, Kills 3

“Boko Haram terrorists have killed three men and looted dozens of bicycles from a village in Chibok area of Borno State. Residents told our reporter that armed men walked into Bila-Amboldar village at around 10 pm on Friday when residents were asleep and set houses on fire. The attackers reportedly shot at fleeing men in the pandemonium, killing two brothers, James Kwakwi and Mutah Kwakwi as well as a third man, Yusuf Yakubu, who just returned from Lagos to be with his wife. A resident, who identified herself as Mana Bila, said the attackers walked to the village after keeping their motorcycles at a nearby village, Makalama which had been deserted following multiple attacks. She added that the insurgents carted away more than 20 motorcycles and other valuables from houses during the night attack. The leader of Chibok Girls' Parents Association, Yakubu Nkenki, told Daily Trust that the town was in mourning mood when he visited to commiserate with the community, calling on federal government to do more to protect soft targets. “The situation is pathetic, the village has been thrown into mourning after losing three able bodied men. They told me that the gunmen looted 24 motorcycles from the village and abducted two women who were later released.”

Somalia

The New York Times: Mogadishu Bombing Took The Lives Of The ‘Best And The Brightest’

“They were the kind of bright, young people Somalia hoped to build its future around: hard-working university students in health sciences, in a battered country with a critical shortage of health workers. Amran Kasim Ahmed, 22, was at the top of her class and nurtured dreams of revamping Somalia’s threadbare health care system. Abshir Mohamed Abukar, 23, was the only one of seven siblings to finish high school and attend university. But their aspirations ended abruptly on Dec. 28, when an explosive-laden truck detonated at a busy intersection here in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital. The terrorist group Al Shabab claimed responsibility for the bombing, which killed 82 people, including Ms. Ahmed and Mr. Abukar, and injured nearly 150 others, according to the government. Even in the face of increasing American airstrikes and defections, the Shabab, a militant Islamist group linked to Al Qaeda, has grown powerful in recent years, expanding its bomb-making operations and carrying out a string of daring attacks across East Africa. On Sunday, it killed a United States service member and two American military contractors in an attack on a Kenyan military base in Manda Bay, on the Indian Ocean coast.”

Africa

Reuters: Four Kenyan Civilians Killed In Al Shabaab Attack On Telecom Mast

“Four Kenyan civilians were killed in a gunfight on Tuesday between police and al Shabaab militants from Somalia who attacked a telecommunications mast in the third such deadly incident in Kenya this week, police said. Officers killed two attackers and recovered two assault rifles and bomb-making materials, police spokesman Charles Owino said. The United States has sent more troops to Kenya to reinforce security after al Shabaab killed three Americans on Sunday in an attack a military base in Kenya used by U.S. forces. In the latest incident, police said militants fired at a mast belonging to Kenya’s leading operator Safaricom and at police guarding the facility. “Officers manning the mast and the base together with special forces were able to repulse them,” police said. The raid took place in northern Garissa county, which neighbors Somalia. The attackers did not damage the telecom network, police said. A teacher and a child were among the dead, Owino said. Al Shabaab frequently carries out attacks in Kenya in retaliation for Kenya sending troops into Somalia in 2011 after a series of cross-border attacks and kidnappings.”

The Wall Street Journal: The Terrorist Horn Of Africa

“Militants from the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab terrorist group killed a U.S. service member and two Pentagon contractors Sunday during a raid on the Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya. The attack raises questions about America’s alertness in the region and is a reminder of the importance of the African counterterrorism mission. Two other Americans were wounded and six aircraft damaged during the predawn attack near the Kenya-Somalia border, according to a statement from U.S. Africa Command: “After an initial penetration of the perimeter, Kenya Defense Forces and U.S. Africa Command repelled the al-Shabaab attack.” The base is in a tough neighborhood, and the mystery is why U.S. forces were surprised. The group has terrorized bases in the past, killing scores of Africans. Addressing how al-Shabaab made it inside the outpost, a serious security lapse, will be the first order of business. Al-Shabaab once controlled some 40% of Somalia, and Africans have shed the most blood beating the group back. The African Union Mission in Somalia, with support from U.S. airstrikes and special forces, has limited the group’s territory and movements.”

The Washington Post: Kenyan Officials Said They Foiled An Al-Shabab Attack And No Kenyans Died. Locals Tell A Different Story.

“After Sunday’s attack by al-Shabab fighters on a military airstrip in which three Americans were killed, Kenya’s top security officials issued a raft of fervent refutations. They claimed no Kenyans died, no militants escaped, and the attack lasted no more than a few hours. At 9:30 a.m. Sunday, the spokesman for Kenya’s military, Lt. Col. Paul Njuguna, said “the attempted breach was successfully repulsed” and “the airstrip is safe.” But even as he made that proclamation, the siege was ongoing. And later Sunday, Njuguna’s statement would be discounted by a statement from U.S. Africa Command acknowledging that one U.S. service member and two American private contractors had been killed, and that six aircraft used by the U.S. military had been damaged or destroyed. Interviews with local community members and officials cast doubt on the other assertions by Kenyan officials about the attack on the Kenyan coast, not far from the Somalia border. Locals say one Kenyan civilian was killed by gunfire and that at least 10 militants escaped during the attack and moved through nearby villages. Mwalimu Chengo Ponda, a farmer in his 30s, was struck and killed by six gunshots in his village of Chomo, about a quarter-mile from the airstrip, his neighbor Suluba Kenga Kazungu said in a phone interview.”

CNN: Pentagon Identifies Soldier Killed In Terror Attack In Kenya

“The Department of Defense has identified the American soldier who died Sunday in a terror attack in Kenya carried out by Al Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab as Army Specialist Henry Mayfield Jr.Mayfield, 23 of Evergreen Park, Illinois, was killed in the attack, the Pentagon announced in a press release on Monday. Mayfield was part of the Army's 1st Battalion, 58th Aviation Regiment, 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group in Fort Rucker, Alabama, according to the release. The Pentagon added that “the incident is under investigation. The attack occurred at a Kenya Defense Force airfield in Manda Bay, Kenya. The attack killed Mayfield and two civilian contractors working for the Defense Department, according to US Africa Command, which is responsible for military relations with nations on the continent. It also wounded two Department of Defense members, who were in stable condition and evacuated. One of the military contractors was Dustin Harrison from Gilbert, Arizona, his wife, Hope, confirmed to CNN. A pilot for the contracting firm L3 Technologies, Harrison had been in a two-month rotation at the Kenya Defense Force Military Base in Manda Bay, and was scheduled to return in less than a week, she said.”

Voice Of America: Kenyan Civilians Flee Manda Bay Area After Al-Shabab Attack

“In Lamu county, the coastal region of Kenya, some civilians are moving out of their homes into small towns for safety.  The development comes a day after the al-Shabab militant group stormed a military base that hosts U.S. and Kenyan counter-terrorism forces, killing three U.S. personnel. Witnesses say people are moving out of villages near the Manda Bay airfield, for fear of further attacks or getting caught in clashes between security forces and al-Shabab fighters hiding in the nearby Boni forest. Anab Haji is a member of the county assembly of Lamu. Her constituency falls under the area that came under attack. “People are in fear, and people have been moving out of the village to the nearby town, that’s Hindi and Mokowe. We have villages like Mkondoni. We have Sinambio, Kausara. So people are in fear, that’s why they are going to town. But the security is very tight. Our military are doing a good job,” she said. On Sunday, al-Shabab militants stormed the base, damaging several aircraft and vehicles before they were driven out by the American and Kenyan forces. The U.S. Africa Command in a statement said the three men killed were an American serviceman and two contractors. Two more contractors were wounded, and they were in a stable condition.”

Voice Of America: Report: Islamic Extremists' Toll In Burkina Faso Rising

“More than 250 civilians have been killed by Islamic extremists in Burkina Faso in less than a year, Human Rights Watch said in a new report Monday, as attacks increase and armed groups gain more territory in the West African nation's north and east. Attackers are justifying the killings by linking their victims to the government, the West or Christian beliefs, witnesses told the rights group. “Armed Islamist groups in Burkina Faso have attacked civilians with unmitigated cruelty and utter disregard for human life,” said Corinne Dufka, the group's West Africa director. “Deliberately targeting farmers, worshippers, mine workers, displaced people and traders are war crimes.” At least 20 attacks by groups linked to al-Qaida, such as Ansarul Islam, or the Islamic State group have occurred since April 2019, killing at least 256 people, the report said. The groups often have not claimed responsibility. Increasing insecurity displaced more than half a million people in 2019, according to the United Nations. In one major attack, extremists killed at least 35 civilians, mostly women, and ensuing clashes with security forces left 80 extremists dead, Burkina Faso's president announced Dec. 24.”

Gulf Today: Six Dead After Extremist Raid In Kenya

“A Kenyan government official says four people are dead after a raid by suspected Al Shabab extremists in eastern Garissa County. Deputy county commissioner Kibet Bowen said on Tuesday the gunmen targeted police officers at a roadblock near the village of Saretho. Police killed two of the suspected extremists, he said. He said stray bullets killed the residents during the fighting. The Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabab has vowed retribution on Kenya for deploying its troops in 2011 to fight the extremist group in neighbouring Somalia. Since December the group has increased attacks inside Kenya including Sunday's attack on a military base that killed three US military personnel.”

The Telegraph: Islamic State Warning As Report Reveals Jihadists Slaughtered 250 Civilians In Burkina Faso Terror Campaign

“Islamic State-linked jihadists have slaughtered more than 250 civilians in a terror campaign aimed at carving the group a new foothold in Africa's poorest region, human rights campaigners have warned.Gunmen have carried out a series of massacres across the west African nation of Burkina Faso, targeting mainly church congregations and workers for Western-owned businesses. The carnage in what was previously a largely peaceful nation are part of a new wave of extremist violence now destabilising the Sahel, the vast and impoverished semi-arid region south of the Sahara. The killings in Burkina Faso are documented in a new report by Human Rights Watch, whose researchers gathered evidence of 256 deaths during just eight months between April and December of last year. Two armed groups have been held responsible: Ansar ul-Islam, a home-grown jihadist movement formed in 2016, and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). Ansar ul-Islam operates mainly in Burkina Faso's gold-mining areas, where it takes a cut of profits earned by locals operating unlicensed gold mines.”

All Africa: Kenya: Three Arrested In Nanyuki Over Suspected Terrorism Links

“Police are holding three people who were arrested Sunday after they attempted to break into a British Army base in Nanyuki. The suspects are being held by over terrorism links. Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya Monday morning confirmed the Sunday evening arrests, saying the suspects are being interrogated by detectives. The motive of the attempted forced entry into the British Army Training Unit in Kenya (BATUK) remains unclear but the three are suspected to have been spying on it. “They tried to force their way there but they could not. So they were tracked down. They just had cameras I think but we are still interrogating them to find out the truth,” Mr Natembeya said by phone. According to reports, the three had tried to enter the army base and failed but were caught on surveillance cameras. The army base is said to have circulated the footage with local law enforcers who tracked down the suspects. They were arrested at around 5pm near Nanyuki Police Station, a few metres from the BATUK army base. Local police are yet to give further details on the identities of the suspects or their origin but top security officials are said to be holed up in a security meeting in Nanyuki town.”

Al Jazeera: Five Soldiers Killed In Mali Roadside Attack

“Five Malian soldiers have been killed in a roadside bomb attack, a government spokesman said, in the latest attack to hit the West African country's volatile central region. The troops were travelling in the region of Alatona, near the border with Mauritania, when their convoy hit a bomb on Monday morning, destroying four vehicles. “Reinforcements are already in place for the operation to neutralise the enemies,” government spokesman Yaya Sangare said on Twitter. Mali has been struggling to contain an armed uprising that erupted in the north in 2012 and that has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives in the years since. More than 140 Malian soldiers have reportedly died in attacks between September and December. Despite some 4,500 French troops in the Sahel region, plus a 13,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, the conflict has engulfed the centre of the country and spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger. Hiding homemade bombs under well-travelled roads is a frequent means of attack used by armed groups. Otherwise known as improvised explosive devices, they kill and maim scores of victims in Mali each year. The UN said in October that 110 civilians in Mali had died in roadside bomb attacks during the first six months of 2019.”

Xinhua: 11 Killed In Suicide Attack In Cameroon's Far North Region

“At least 11 people were killed and 26 others were injured Monday afternoon in a suicide attack on El Beid bridge in Fotokol, a locality in Cameroon's Far North region, according to several security sources. Local officials interviewed by Xinhua confirmed the attack but gave no further details. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the attack according to local journalist Dairou Mohammed. “The suicide bomber worked to the portion of the bridge that was crowded and then detonated the bomb. Among those killed and injured are women and children,” Mohammed told Xinhua. Last week, security reports indicated that the Boko Haram group in December kidnapped and killed at least 50 people mostly fishermen on Lake Chad.”

France

RFI: Trial Opens In Paris Over 'Jihadist Network' Linked To Charlie Hebdo Attacks

“On the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the trial of 24 suspected jihadists linked to the massacre that killed 12 people at the satirical weekly has opened in Paris. Only five of the suspects are expected to appear in the dock, with most presumed dead in Iraq or Syria. Known as the “Sevran network”, the suspects allegedly became radicalised at a clandestine mosque in the Paris suburb of Sevran. The 20 men and four women, of French, Moroccan, Mauritanian and Algerian nationality, converted to jihadist ideology through mentors at the Sevran mosque, some swayed by the declaration of the self-proclaimed “caliphate” by the Islamic State (IS) armed group in June 2014. They are believed to have provided logistical support to Said and Cherif Kouachi, the al Qaeda-linked brothers who carried out the Charlie Hebdo attack. The trial is also linked to the Jewish supermarket assault outside Paris, two days after Charlie Hebdo, in which a jihadist gunman killed four people.  Among the absent defendants are the Belhoucine brothers. Mohamed, the elder, has been identified as the mentor of Amedy Couilbaly, who carried out the Hyper Cacher attack.”

Germany 

ABC News: Germany Charges Syrian Accused Of Commanding IS Unit

“German prosecutors have filed terror charges against a Syrian man accused of commanding a unit of Islamic State group fighters in his homeland. Prosecutors in Frankfurt said Monday that the 33-year-old, whose name they didn't release, was charged with membership in a foreign terrorist group and violating weapons laws. They said that the suspect entered Germany in June 2015 and was initially granted refugee status, which was revoked in June last year. He was arrested in the central city of Kassel in November 2018 and has been in custody since then. The man was a member of IS from 2013 to 2015 and allegedly commanded a unit of at least 20 men, prosecutors said in a statement. He also is alleged to have been the commander of one or two city districts in Raqqa for at least part of the time. Prosecutors said the man is also accused of capturing two men, who were either Shiites or members of the Alawite minority, and holding them as hostages before handing them over to a high-ranking IS commander. It is not known what happened to the men.”

Daily Mail: German Police Kill Extremist Knifeman Chanting ‘Allahu Akbar’ Who Tried To Attack Them Just Hours After French Police Shot Another Attacker

“Police in Germany shot dead a knifeman who ran towards them shouting 'Allahu Akbar' just hours after armed officers in France shot another attacker and two days after a man was stabbed to death in Paris. The 37-year-old man first hit a patrol car with an unidentified object before rushing towards officers wielding a knife. He was shot dead when he ignored warnings to stop the attack in Gelsenkirchen at around 7.40pm last night.  A police spokesman said the attacker was a Turkish national who lived in the city and had previous convictions for violent crimes. The spokesman said: 'Two police officers were in front of the station in a patrol car. 'A man ran past the patrol car and suddenly hit the car with an object. The officials asked him to stop. The man attacked the officers with his arm raised and the object.' The spokesman said the attacker had a knife in his other hand that he tried to hide behind his back. One of the officers shot him dead after he ignored orders to stop and continued to threaten the officers and shouting 'Allahu akbar', he said. The attack came just hours after a similar attack in Metz, France, when a knifeman was shot and wounded by police after threatening passersby and shouting 'Allahu Akbar' - meaning God is great in Arabic.”