Monday  (4.16.18)

  • Two members of Pakistan’s beleaguered Christian community were killed on Sunday in the country’s southwest Baluchistan region when unknown gunmen opened fire on a small group that had just left a local church, police officials said. Baluchistan, a region bordering Iran as well as Afghanistan, is plagued by violence by Sunni Islamist sectarian groups affiliated to the Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS.
  • The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group said four of its members were killed in an apparent accidental blast in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. The Gaza Health Ministry confirmed four fatalities in the incident. But an Israeli military spokesman said the army was not involved.
  • Terrorists disguised as U.N. peacekeepers exploded two suicide car bombs and fired dozens of rockets at the French and United Nations bases in Mali’s northern city of Timbuktu on Saturday, killing one and wounding many, Malian authorities said. The U.N. mission confirmed that the complex attack had killed a U.N. peacekeeper. The Malian government said in addition that 10 French soldiers had been wounded, but the French mission did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • Eight Egyptian soldiers and 14 terrorists were killed in fighting in central Sinai on Saturday when gunmen carrying explosive belts and grenades targeted a military checkpoint, the army said. The attack was the largest against Egyptian security forces since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won a second term in office last month.
  • Talks between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram terrorists on the release of schoolgirls kidnapped from the northeastern town of Chibok in 2014 have been set back by disagreements among their abductors, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday. Despite pressure at home and abroad, government efforts to rescue around 100 of the girls still being held have so far failed.
  • US forces continue to disrupt al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia al Shabaab’s attempts to terrorize Somali civilians with improvised explosive attacks. In a strike on Apr. 11, US forces destroyed a Shabaab vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. In the past six months, US forces have thrice interdicted Shabaab car bombs and prevented imminent attacks against civilians in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu. The past four US strikes in Somalia have also targeted Shabaab vehicles.
  • A Syrian militia led by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), The Baqir Brigade (AKA Liwa al Baqir or Liwa al Imam al Baqir), declared jihad on April 6 against US and allied forces in Syria. Since 2017, the US has twice come into direct contact with the group. The IRGC is likely to boost its military support to the group as it explores avenues to drive the US out of Syria.
  • Niger's military has detained a suspect who could be the terrorist leader who was being pursued at the time of an ambush that left four American soldiers dead. At the time of the deadly October ambush, U.S. forces and their counterparts from the Niger military were pursuing Doundou Chefou, a terrorist suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of an American aid worker.
  • ISIS terrorists are under a barrage of attacks by U.S. and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. In a recent night raid on ISIS terrorists in northern Jowzjan province, Afghan Special Security Forces killed 22 terrorists, according to a statement by U.S Forces-Afghanistan. The operation comes a week after the groups’ emir for northern Afghanistan was killed in a U.S. airstrike in the same province.
  • Women believed to have links to ISIS suffer “harrowing” sexual exploitation and discrimination in Iraq’s refugee camps, a leading rights group said on Tuesday. Female-led households are abused, mistreated and deprived of food and health care but those seen as having ties to terrorists are particularly targeted, Amnesty International said in a report.
  • U.S. senators announced long-awaited legislation on Monday to provide congressional authorization for U.S. campaigns against terrorists groups in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere, part of a push to take back authority over the military from the White House. The new AUMF also does not set an end date for any military action, although it would establish a process for Congress to review the new AUMF every four years, without risking a lapse in the authorization.
  • Iraqi courts have sentenced 212 people to death in Mosul and surrounding areas, most of them for complicity with ISIS, since the area was retaken by Iraqi forces in July and August 2017, a judiciary spokesman said on Wednesday. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared full victory over the group last December after Iraqi forces drove its last remnants from the country.
  • An ISIS commander suspected of hatching a plan to blow up a flight from Sydney last year and an Australian ISIS fighter allegedly connected to the country's most notorious terror cell have been captured in Iraq. The two men kept in close contact with some of Australia's most notorious terrorism suspects from their positions in Syria, but appear to have shifted to Iraq when ISIS was routed from its territory in both countries last year.
  • A federal judge on Tuesday set an Oct. 29 trial date for Akayed Ullah, the Bangladeshi man accused of attempting an ISIS-inspired suicide bomb attack on a busy New York City commuter hub in December. Ullah, 28, was arrested on Dec. 11 after trying to detonate a pipe bomb secured to his body in a pedestrian tunnel in New York’s subway system, according to federal prosecutors.
  • As the United States Senate probes America’s role in the Yemen conflict, the US military continues to strike Al Qaeda’s official branch in the Gulf state. In the past month, the United States conducted three strikes against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP.) The United States has conducted 25 strikes in Yemen in 2018, LTC Earl Brown at CENTCOM Media Operations said this week.
  • ISIS’s so-called province in Damascus released a video on Apr. 11 that is intended to undermine the ideological legitimacy of the group’s rivals, including al Qaeda and Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (HTS). The 18-minute plus production opens with footage of Bashar al-Assad’s regime dropping explosives and quickly moves to a brief and self-serving history of the jihad in Syria, lauding Al Nusrah Front for its early role in the war.
  • Iraq on Thursday carried out air strikes on ISIS positions in Syria a week after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said his country would defend itself from terrorist threats across the border. Iraqi F-16 warplanes crossed into Syria to carry out the strikes after coordination with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, an Iraqi military spokesman said.
  • Coalition-backed forces killed two al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen in a raid in the southern province of Abyan on Wednesday, the Saudi government media office said. It described Murad Abdullah Mohammed al-Doubli, known as Abu Hamza al-Batani, and Hassan Basurie as among “the most dangerous leaders” of Yemen’s al Qaeda branch, known as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
  • A car bomb hit the convoy of the chief of staff of the eastern Libyan military outside Benghazi on Wednesday, killing one person and wounding at least two other people, though he himself survived, security and military officials said. Nathouri is chief of staff to forces run by Khalifa Haftar, who has been receiving medical treatment in Paris, a French source said on Friday.
  • Kurdish forces in Syria have detained a man who is believed to be a Syrian-born German terrorists suspected of recruiting some of the 9/11 hijackers to Al Qaeda, a senior Kurdish commander said. The detainee, identified as Mohammed Haydar Zammar, who is his mid-fifties, was apprehended in northern Syria and was being interrogated, the commander told Agence France-Presse on Wednesday. His fate remained unclear.
  • Terrorists belonging to the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) under Abu Walid al Sahrawi have claimed responsibility for two attacks in northern Burkina Faso. In a phone call to the AFP, a spokesman for the terrorists claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of a schoolteacher and the murder of a local mayor in northern Burkina Faso.
  • France has expelled an imam of Islam’s strict Salafi branch for giving radical sermons seen as a threat, sending him to Algeria a day after the European Court of Human Rights gave a green light for the move, a source close to the case said on Friday. He was based at a mosque in the southern French city of Marseille.
  • Syrian state media says ISIS terrorists have agreed to give up their last pocket in Damascus. The SANA news agency says terrorists will be given the option to stay and reconcile with the government or leave on buses to ISIS-held territory in the eastern Syrian desert. The agreement announced Friday follows a day of intensive government airstrikes on the ISIS-held neighborhoods of Hajr al-Aswad and the Yarmouk Palestinian camp, in the Syrian capital.
  • Since US forces withdrew the bulk of its “surge” forces in 2014 and turned over security to Afghanistan’s military and police, the security situation has rapidly deteriorated in Helmand province of Afghanistan. That data is confirmed by Resolute Support (RS), which provided the district level assessments to the Special Investigator General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
  • The Taliban has forced at least 70 percent of the schools in the northern Afghanistan province of Kunduz to shut down after the terrorist group demanded teacher salaries be paid in cash. The closure schools highlights the Taliban’s grip on the province, where all of the districts are currently contested. Kunduz provincial officials stated that the school closures have, “deprived nearly 200,000 students from education,” Pajhwok Afghan News reported.
  • Somali National Army (SNA) and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces recaptured five villages from al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, al Shabaab, in Middle Shabelle region, central Somalia on April 18. Al Shabaab withdrew from the villages before ambushing SNA forces in a village between Jowhar and Bal’ad in Middle Shabelle region