Terrorism and counterterrorism

  • Six charged in St. Louis for supporting terrorism

    In a terrorism-related investigation that involved the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations, the U. S. Postal Inspection Service, , and police in St. Louis and St. Louis County, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has charged three St. Louis County residents, two New York residents, and one person from Illinois – all immigrated to the United States from Bosnia —with conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists and for providing material support to terrorists. The six raised and sent money and supplies to Jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq.

  • Nigeria delays election by six weeks, citing war with Boko Haram

    The government of Nigeria has postponed the election, originally scheduled for the coming weekend, saying the reason for the postponement was the need to allow international forces to take areas in the country’s north-east from the Islamist Boko Haram. Nigeria’s electoral commission said on Saturday that the election, rather than being held on 14 February, will be held on 28 March. Observers both inside and outside Nigeria said the election delay has political undertones, and that the postponement has more to do with a desperate last-ditch effort by President Jonathan to shore-up his declining political fortunes than with security considerations.

  • U.K. counter-radicalization mentoring program proves successful

    In 2006, the U.K. Home Office launched the Channelprogram to engage vulnerable youths with mentors who could steer them away from extremist propaganda, be it anti-immigrant politics or Islamist militancy. Only eighty young adults were referred to the program during its first two years, but last year, 1,281 were referred. To date, a total of 3,934 people have been referred to participate in Channel. About 20 percent of them were considered to require further consultation with mentors.

  • ISIS releases an instructional manual for women in ISIS-controlled areas

    An all-female militia set up by the Islamic State (ISIS) has published a 10,000-word manifesto on how women in Islam should live according to the group’s interpretation of the Quran. Girls are told to marry at the age of nine, women are banned from going to work, and both must remain indoors and leave the house only in exceptional circumstances.The document, “Women of the Islamic State: Manifesto and Case Study,” was released in Arabic last month on a jihadi forum.

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  • Why do women in West turn to Islamic State? For the same reasons as men

    What makes someone want to travel to some of the most dangerous places on earth to fight alongside terrorists? It’s a question we’ve been asking about young people for more than a decade. But the rise of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq has seen the onset of a particular phenomenon – more and more young women are now leaving the West to support the group in its controlled territories. Many of the reasons given by female migrants to IS territories are the same as those espoused by their male peers, that is, it appears that religious revivalist tendencies inspire female activists, who ultimately seek to embrace “a new vision for society.” These young men and women have been radicalized by a selective ideology, which draws upon an alarmist worldview (for example that Islam and Muslims are under threat). This promotes a rapid response, as the threat posed is perceived as immediate. Salafi-jihadist groups in the U.K. and elsewhere have been extremely effective at turning this rhetoric into a significant operation. Authorities must target these Islamist groups acting as a recruitment base for both men and women migrating to IS territories.

  • U.S. Muslim leaders uneasy about counter-radicalization pilot program

    Later this month, the White House and the Justice Departmentwill hostthe Countering Violent Extremism summit and meet with leaders of America’s Muslim communities to launch a programaimed at curbing Islamist radicalization in the United States. The Twin Cities, Boston, and Los Angeles have been selected as pilot cities for the program, but some Muslim leaders are concerned that federal law enforcement agencies will use the program to gather intelligence. American Muslim leaders want to be reassured that the program will not be used for blanket surveillance of their communities.

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  • NYPD launches counterterrorism unit

    In the coming months, the New York Police Department (NYPD) patrol officers will spend more time visiting community members to learn about their public safety concerns, but the department has also launched a new unit, consisting of officers equipped with high-powered weapons that could be used for both keeping protests from becoming unruly and guarding terrorist targets such as Times Square. The Strategic Response Group (SRG), announced last Thursday, will soon respond to terror threats throughout the city, said Police Commissioner William J. Bratton. Since Bratton’s announcement, the NYPD has clarified that the SRG will only work on counterterror initiatives.

  • Scotland Yard asks TV to limit live coverage of hostage incidents

    Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the commissioner of Scotland Yard, has publicly requested that television news organizations consider not broadcasting live images of police or special forces attempting to storm any terrorist siege in the city out of fear of further jeopardizing lives.The recent sieges in Paris and Sydney have led security officials like Hogan-Howe worry that the intensive TV coverage could also inform the attackers about police tactics.

  • Nigeria’s neighbors joining war on Boko Haram

    In a communiquéadopted by the peace and security council of the African Union (AU), African leaders are responding to the threat posed by Boko Haram with plans of sending a 7,500-member regional force to northern Nigeria to search for those abducted by Boko Haram and to stop the militant group from spreading beyond Nigeria’s borders and into neighboring Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.One diplomat noted that Nigeria’s “fragility” in the face of Boko Haram has prompted neighboring countries to act. “There is a serious concern that if nothing is done, this Boko Haram terror group could affect a huge chunk of the continent,” the diplomat said. “What the region needs to do is to address this head on.”

  • Head of UN panel investigating 2014 Gaza war quits after his work for PLO comes to light

    The controversial Canadian academic William Schabas, who was appointed to head the UN inquiry into Israel-Hamas war of summer 2014, said yesterday (Monday) that he would resign following revelations that he was paid for consulting work he did for the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Schaba has long been subject to Israeli allegations that he was biased against Israel.

  • Assad regime employed Skype to steal military plans from moderate rebels

    A FireEye report details the activities of a cyber-espionage group that stole Syrian opposition’s strategies and battle plans. To undertake this operation, the threat group employed a familiar tactic: ensnaring its victims through conversations with seemingly sympathetic and attractive women. As the conversations progressed, the “women” would offer up a personal photo, laden with malware and developed to infiltrate the target’s computer or Android phone.

  • Boko Haram expands attacks as Chad’s military joins fighting

    Early Sunday, Boko Haram Islamist militants have attacked Maiduguri, the biggest city in north-east Nigeria, from four fronts overnight. The militants, employing artillery and rocket fire, bombarded the city throughout Sunday. Yesterday’s assault was the third attack Maiduguri in the past seven days. The pitched battles of the past seven days saw the first participation of Nigeria’s neighbors in the fighting against Boko Haram. Several fighter jets from neighboring Chad bombed the Islamist forces out of the city of Gamboru on Nigeria’s north-east border with Cameroon, a town the insurgents had held since last August. Last Thursday a Chadian army ground force liberated Malumfatori by evicting the Islamists from the border town, which was under their sway for months.

  • U.S. plan to train “moderate” Syrian rebels raises troubling questions

    The U.S. reluctance to become decisively committed to the complex quagmire in Syria is understandable. However, its plan to insert a U.S.-trained-and-equipped “moderate rebel” force into the mix is deeply concerning — on several levels. While U.S. efforts to support rebel groups to date have been less than successful, there is so much that could go wrong with this course of action, and so little that could go right. There are no easy solutions to an issue as complex as Syria. The uncoordinated, short-term actions of some of the regional states have simply exacerbated what was already a hideously difficult operating environment. If there hasn’t been a military solution to the problem that has worked in the nearly four years of the conflict, then the introduction of another 15,000 armed rebels over several years, with an indistinct aim, is unlikely to do much more than further muddy the treacherous waters.

  • France faces up to problem of Islamist radicalization in prisons

    Since this month’s Paris attacks, counterterrorism officials have focused their attention on French prisons where, they believe, a significant number of the country’s extremists adopted their radical Islamist ideology. About 7.5 percent of the French population is Muslim, but Muslims make up more than half the inmates in French prisons. Extremists often find it easier to spread violent ideology in prison than outside of prison. Most prisoners spend up to nine hours a day together working and later in the prison yard, with minimal supervision. Prison guards, who say they find it difficult to spot extremists, are each typically responsible for 100 prisoners.

  • Ex-wife of ISIS leader transferred cash for ISIS in Lebanon

    An investigation has revealed that for months Saja al-Dulaimi, the Iraqi ex-wife of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State, had been siphoning cash through Lebanon to the militants under a fake name. Dulaimin and al-Baghdadi were married for about six years, and people in the know say that the union may have been typical of some traditional marriages – weddings aimed at solidifying political ties or relationships between different families.