War on Terror


Overview

In 2001, United States President George W. Bush declared the “War on Terror” following the events of 9/11, one of the most successfully orchestrated mass terror attacks in American history that killed 2,996 civilians. The War on Terror differs from most other wars due to its indiscriminate and transnational nature, occurring globally and most predominantly in the Middle East. While other wars have targeted a specific state or internal threat, Bush’s war focuses primarily on extremist militant sub-state groups and movements that often migrate and hide from authorities while launching attacks in the name of their cause. Consequently, while the war has not yet ended, it has evolved over time with changing targets, purposes, locations, etc. This is due to the ever changing nature of terrorism, as one threat diminishes, another surfaces. Highly targeted and historically significant terrorist groups includes al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). These organizations in specific hold a greater importance in the US’ war against terrorism because of their influence and long-maintained legitimacy among other militant groups. Evidence of their dominant impact on radical militant Islam can be seen with the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Indonesia, whose organization and violence strengthened after establishing contact and affiliating themselves with al-Qaeda in 1998.

Terrorism and the violent groups that inevitably come with it has existed long before the War on Terror initiative, with groups like those listed above being established in the 1980-1990’s. These organizations, such as the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the Philippines and al-Qaeda, whose formation occurred before the 2000’s, initially began with the intention of strengthening specific Islamic beliefs and creating a pan-Islamic state in their respective locations. After 2001, most terror groups incorporated radical anti-West policies and focuses, and directly be seen through the evolution of the JI in Indonesia. The JI were focused on influencing local communities to transition to a Sharia law-based rule of government, then began targeting Western and US interests in the East Asian region after 2001.

Western countries such as the United States and United Kingdom became significant targets of extremist Islamist groups due to Bush’s emphasis on Islam and the violence that could arise from those radical organizations, as compared to Christian-based terror groups or other religious movements. Various political analysts and publications such as the Arab Studies Institute and the Journal of Democracy highlight this focus on Islam by Bush in his early 2001 speeches; pushing the idea of ‘us against them’ onto the War on Terror, making the transatlantic conflict central to American foreign policy and looking at Islam and Muslim communities as inferior and the source of violence against democracy. Moreover, terror groups with affiliations to larger networks ran by the Taliban or similar organizations were directly called out by President Bush in his response to the 9/11 attacks. He stated how “our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda but does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated”.

States and non-state actors react differently to the threat of terrorism, with problems arising regarding the best way to respond and communicate with these organizations without legitimizing their goals or presence. Other than building terrorists’ political aims, responding to these groups can incite more violence, boost the power of organizations compared to targeted institutions, weaken democratic procedures, etc. Because of these reasons, the US’ stance on terrorists are focused on no negotiations or concessions given. This is followed by many western countries, with many scholarly articles and journals emphasizing the difference of responses by developing or “third world” countries. These states are more prone to engage with terrorist groups and grant concessions and is due to a number of reasons including violent groups having more legitimate power than weak governments. This can be seen with the Jama’a Nusrat al-Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM) in Mali, who freed three foreign hostages and one prominent Malian politician in exchange for the release of 200 imprisoned jihadists in October 2020. This ransom was granted partly due to the current weakened state of the Malian government, which has been going through a coup d’état by their military since August 2020. Moreover, counterterrorism responses rely on each groups modus operandi, as different strategies utilized by militant groups bring about various counter methods for solutions.

The threat, existence, and aftermath of terrorism is crucial to highlight because of its influence and impact on a state’s economy, society, and political atmosphere. Terrorism and the attacks that emerge directly impacts countries’ economies through the effects it leaves on tourism, infrastructure, employment, etc. This can be seen in Syria, who was a leading Middle Eastern state in tourism before the Arab Spring protests in 2011 made way for heavy violence between the government and rebel groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Apparent also in Yemen, a nation in the region that is now being looked at as a “failed state” due to the destruction from the ongoing civil war between the Yemeni government, Houthi rebels, and terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIL. From these real-life examples, it is clear to see the devastating effect terrorism can place on conflicted states.

Facts

Key Actors

Beginning: 11th September 2001-ongoing, but on the 23rd May 2013 President Barack Obama called for the end of the Global War on Terror and that smaller operations against suspicious groups and individuals will continue

Where: Global, mostly active in the Middle East and North Africa region

Costs: $1.55 trillion dedicated from 2001-2020 by the United States alone

Deaths: Over 2 million, many more from subsequent and ongoing conflicts

Displaced: At least 37 million worldwide, mostly from the Middle East and African regions

Consequent Conflicts: Iraq War (major combat ended in 2017), War in North-West Pakistan, Afghanistan War, Syrian Civil War, Yemeni Civil War, Somali Civil War, Maghreb Insurgency 

Consequent Military Missions: Operation Enduring Freedom (major combat 2001-2014, still ongoing in Horn of Africa), Operation Active Endeavor (2001-2016), Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (2015-ongoing), Operation Pacific Eagle (2018-ongoing)

In 2001, the United States lodged its initial war in Afghanistan titled Operation Enduring Freedom, beginning the global War on Terror. This war ended in 2014, with another being declared in 2015 titled Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, compromised of NATO and a coalition of other countries in support of the cause, including the United Kingdom and Canada. Afghanistan has been among the top five countries to be most impacted by terrorism since 2005, upgrading to the number one spot since 2018. While deaths and overall terrorist activity has been declining in the country, Afghanistan still accounts for a total of 41% of global deaths due to terrorism, stated in the 2020 Global Terrorism Index report.

In January 2020, President Trump has been involved in peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban with plans on limiting the number of US troops on the ground in the Middle Eastern country. Stages of troop withdrawal has already begun, with no reported US military or civilian deaths by the Taliban since the peace discussions. However, deadly attacks have continued to increase throughout 2020 in Afghanistan, with various complications rising on what group has been conducting the recent attacks. This is due to increased al-Qaeda presence in the country, which threatens to compromise the US’ plan to slowly withdraw its long involvement in the Afghan war.

The West African country saw the largest increase in deaths due to terrorism from 2018 to 2019, with a majority coming from attacks by Jama’a Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), the Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS), and other terror group’s branch in the country. Attacks are focused along its borders with Mali and Niger, states also heavily impacted by terrorist violence and increased activity in recent years. 

India differs other countries being impacted by terrorism due to the range of organizations engaging in violent insurgencies such as Islamists, communists, and various separatists’ groups. Most areas in the country face non-lethal events from terrorists rather than fatal attacks with the purpose of gaining more legitimate political attention. Islamist attacks predominately focus on the Kashmir and surrounding regions, due to prolonged religious and territorial disputes between India and Pakistan since 1947.

On the United States’ list for states that sponsor terrorism since January 1984, Iran is crucial for its alleged support for various Shi’a-focused militant groups throughout the Middle East. Through their Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF), which specializes in unconventional warfare and intelligence operations, Iran is able to provide terrorist groups a “cover for associated covert operations” among boosting instability in the region. The Iranian government acknowledged the IRGC-QF’s actions for encouraging conflict in Iraq and Syria, as well as for their role in using Hezbollah as their primary terrorist proxy group. The government has been alleged, with strong evidence from US-backed intelligence gathering, to allocate large funds, training, weaponry, and facilities for Shi’a terrorist groups in the Middle East and South Asia.

The Iraq war was launched in 2003 and was commonly perceived as the main front of the War on Terror for a prolonged period. Initial American presence in Iraq was justified through President Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and the governments alleged ties to terrorism. However, over time, this occupations legitimacy has been questioned, especially after Hussein’s Presidential rule. Iraq had been a significant area for terrorism activity since 2003 with the escalation of the War on Terror but has seen an overall decrease following the Iraqi war’s formal end in 2017. Terrorism still continues to exist, however, with a majority of attacks coming from ISIL and the group still maintaining control in rural areas of Iraq.

Growing rates of terrorism in Mozambique is linked to the rising Islamist insurgency ongoing in the country’s Cabo Delgado province since 2017. Various jihadist militias are involved in a war with Mozambican security forces with the goal of establishing an Islamic state in the region. The province is rich in minerals and other resources crucial to the country’s overall economy, currently being devastated due to the militias control over key areas in Cabo Delgado. The main terrorist faction in the insurgency is Ansar al-Sunna, with attacks also coming from ISIL and other terror groups like al-Shabaab.

Nigeria has maintained its role among the top five countries most impacted by terrorism since 2012, according to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index report. Staying in the top three since 2014, a majority of the attacks are due to increasing terrorist activity from Boko Haram. Boko Haram has been a dangerous and consistent threat in Nigeria since 2009, with the country’s weak security forces and governance exemplifying the conflict.

Not only being a crucial hub for various major jihadist milia’s, Pakistan has been accused of supporting and being directly involved in terrorist activities throughout the world by the United States, United Kingdom, Afghanistan, and multiple other countries. Many international and United States institutions have attested to Pakistan’s position in state-sponsored terrorism, with the US Defense Secretary in 2001 deeming the country’s borders with Afghanistan is “a safe haven for terrorists”. The south Asian nation is a hub for terrorist organizations like Hizbul Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and various smaller factions. Terrorism has a long history in Pakistan, as they supported the Afghan mujahideen (later Al-Qaeda) in the 1979-1989 Soviet-Afghan War.

An infamous location for Al-Qaeda training, the Philippines is the main hub for Abu Sayyaf in southern islands, where most of the country’s minority Muslims live. The Bangsamoro region includes the majority of Sulu islands and southern Mindanao island. Terrorism has a long history in the Philippines as a continuation of the Moro conflict, a Muslim insurgency in Mindanao that was initially Jihadist since 1969 until 2019.

Due to its economic and geographical position, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been heavily involved in an array of bombings and proxy warfare in a variety of locations destabilized by the War on Terror, including in the Yemeni and Syrian civil wars. Its compromising role in major conflicts and covert operations linking Saudi officials and military to various terrorist groups have made the Middle Eastern country of focus for multiple states, including Syria, the United Kingdom, and even suspected by US politician Hillary Clinton in 2010. Terrorist events have occurred in the country but is not often disclosed in Western media. 

Increased violence and conflicts within the Somali civil war and from prolonged insurgencies throughout the country pushed Somalia up the ranks of countries that were most impacted by terrorism in 2019. A large majority of deaths and attacks have been claimed by Al-Shabaab, who retain 20% of Somalia’s territory and have a membership of between 5,000 to 10,000 members as of 2019. Somalia has been among the top ten countries to be most impacted by terrorism since 2007.

While the Syrian crisis arose from a political sphere, this state became the ideal incubator for the growth and expansion of Islamic terrorism. The destabilization within the state created a power vacuum and a variety of vulnerabilities, in particular towards radicalization. Consequently, Syria has now become the home of various sub state groups, from Rebels and Kurds to the fully-fledged ISIS terror cult. This centralizes the actions of the USA in this crisis to focus on the destruction of terror presence rather than the reconstruction of the Syrian government.

Declared the War following a large-scale attack on the states. Leads many of the attacks and military efforts against combatants, often with the most troops or allied troops contributed to the cause.

The US State Department publishes a yearly updated list of countries that support and sponsor terrorism as well as various foreign terrorist organizations (FTO’s). The Terrorist Exclusion List (TEL) was established for immigration purposes, disallowing people from entering the US if they come from or have connections to terrorist organizations that support terrorism.

A long-term host to violence due to its proximity to the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, in between Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia. Yemen has been involved in an ongoing civil war that began in the 1960’s between the Sunni-dominant politicians and minority Zaydi Shi’a communities. Evolving into a complex and multinational war, increased terror presence in the region from both al-Qaeda and ISIS groups allowed the state to escalate into deep destabilization. This has resulted in various other actors such as the US launching military raids in Yemen to locate groups like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) under the War on Terror during the early years of the Yemeni insurgency. Ranked among the top ten countries most impacted by terrorism since 2010, violence from jihadists has increased primarily due to escalating attacks by the Houthi rebels. The rebels have been designated as a terrorist group by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but are thought to be secretly supported by the Saudi and US governments.

With the Yemeni conflict mostly between the government and Houthi rebels, AQAP maintains a deadly role in the fight. Terror groups are also engaged in spoiling and outbidding disputes between each other and smaller militias involved in the war.

The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) is officially known by ISIL as the Islamic State in the East Asian Province (ISEAP) and is based in the Philippines’ Bangsamoro region. ASG was a splinter group of the Moro national Liberation Front (MNLF) and sought to make the countries Southwestern province an independent, Sunni Islamist state. Distanced by the MNLF for their radical and extremely violent attacks, the ASG is known to be the most dangerous militant group in the Philippines. Fighting and destabilizing the group was a main mission for the US military’s 2002-2014 Operation Enduring Freedom.

The most well known terrorist group in the West during the 2000s. They launched the 9/11 terror attacks under the command of bin Laden. They act under their Holy War against the United States, to raise awareness of the gross biases and lack of support for Muslims in conflict ridden countries. Al-Qaeda is a transnational extremist Wahhabist organization, with various factions existing in nearly all continents and major active hubs in Mali, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. These include Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which leads major operations primarily in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a hub in Algeria and Mali that controls the north African region. Other than groups that carry the same name, Al-Qaeda also has a significant number of militias that have pledged allegiance to their cause, which includes Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the Philippines and Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan.

Al-Qaeda emerged in 1988 during the 1979-1989 Soviet War in Afghanistan led by Osama bin Laden and other Arab volunteers, while being supported by the United States through Operation Cyclone. Other western countries that aided the mujahideen (Now known as Al-Qaeda, was not previously named at the time) included the United Kingdom. This was due to the US’ idea during the Cold War to fight and end communism, arming and financing the Afghan mujahideen in order to beat the USSR’s forces in the region. Publications such as Free Press and Time Magazine stated how the CIA favored jihadist factions in Afghanistan compared to moderate Islamist groups due to their comfort with the use of force.

Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen (HSM), or al-Shabaab for short, was formed as an armed wing for the Somali Islamic Courts Union (ICU) before splintering following ICU’s 2006 defeat in governmental elections. Based in East Africa, HSM has links to al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, and utilizes the extremist Wahhabi doctrine in targeting all enemies of Sunni Islam belief including Sufi and Shi’a Muslims, and all those that do not follow Salafi traditions. Formed to create a new Somali state that is based on Sharia law, al-Shabaab also conducts massive violent attacks outside of the country and especially in Kenya.

Also deemed Swahili Sunna, Ahlu al-Sunna, or al-Shabaab (not the main group based in Somalia) to the locals, Ansar al-Sunna is an active terrorist group in Mozambique. Attempting to establish an Islamic state in the region with Mozambique its main hub, Ansar al-Sunna is known to be trained and supported by al-Shabaab and ISIL’s division in central Africa. Violence from the group increased with the Mozambican insurgency worsening in 2017 and recently in 2020.

Also known as the Islamic State in the West African Province (ISWAP), Boko Haram is a jihadist militant organization based in northeastern Nigeria with active and major hubs in Chad, Niger, and northern Cameroon. Initially nonviolent, the groups establishment in 2002 was focused on purifying Islam from Western influence and education in northern Nigeria before increased radicalization led to the country’s military targeting and suppressing Boko Haram.

This made way for Boko Haram’s current insurgency that started after the execution of their leader in 2009, for which the group has since killed over tens of thousands of people and displaced over 2.5 million in the region. Following extremist Wahhabism and the values of ISIL, Boko Haram targets Christians, Shi’a Muslims, and people that do not share the same values.

Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist organization that includes a social service wing, the Dawah, and its military wing called the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Initially an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood established in 1987, Hamas had since engaged with heavy fighting against Israel in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict. The group won the 2006 Palestinian legislative election and established the de facto government in the Gaza Strip after the 2007 Battle of Gaza.

Countries have since been conflicted in their designation of Hamas as a terrorist group with only a small majority deeming the whole organization a radical Islamic insurgency as compared to only its military wing. Hamas was established to liberate Palestine and form a pan-Islamic state in the area that includes Israel. They have been involved with encouraging and partaking in several attacks and violence against Israel and its citizens.

Also known as Tahrir al-Sham, HTS is a Salafist militant organization that was a merger of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the Ansar al-Din Front, Jaysh al-Sunna, Liwa al-Haqq, and the Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement in Syria. Multiple terror groups that joined HTS eventually split, yet the organization itself played a significant role in the Syrian Civil War.

Hezbollah is a Shi’a Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon, established in 1985 alongside Iranian support against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The groups paramilitary wing is the Jihad Council and its political wing is the Loyally to the Resistance Bloc party, which plays an active role in the current Lebanese Parliament. Participating in Lebanese politics since 1990, many countries in the Arab League and in the west has deemed either the organization as a whole or only its paramilitary wing a terrorist organization.

Formed to improve the long-marginalized Shi’ite community in Lebanon, Hezbollah also supports strengthening Shi’a representations throughout the Middle East and violence against the state of Israel. Other than western states, Hezbollah is a poplar opponent of al-Qaeda, ISIL, and their allies due to the Shi’a based beliefs of the Lebanese group. The organization is allied and supported by Iran, Syria, Russia, and Hamas among other states.

Founded in 1989, the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) is a separatist Islamic militant group based in the conflicted Kashmir region between Pakistan and India. Seen as the military wing of the Pakistani Jamaat-e-Islami religious movement and allegedly supported by the Pakistani intelligence agency, HM plays a significant role in strengthening the violent conflict in Kashmir. Pushing for Kashmir’s integration with Pakistan, HM has claimed responsibility for several fatal terrorist attacks in India including those committed against other militant groups. Utilizing nationalism and radical jihad, HM’s operations have led to it to be designated a terrorist group by the West amongst other countries, while still remaining a lawful organization in Pakistan.

Also known as Daesh, the Islamic State emerged internationally in 2013. However, it has since overtaken al Qaeda’s presence in the Western Media circle. This terrorist organisation is multifaceted and ever changing. It focuses on claiming lands in Iraq and Syria, further destabilizing and fueling violence in regional conflicts. However, in its terrorist oriented sectors, ISIS insights violence about all non-members; claiming their jihadist behaviors are for the appeasement of Allah and to raise awareness of their State’s legitimacy or claim to lands. Furthermore, this terrorist group participates in terrorism and warfare in a variety of other destabilized regions within the Eurasian continent, recruiting while seizing land and power whenever they can.

Made up of a variety of smaller hubs in nearly every continent of the world, Islamic State includes its regional bases the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (main hub), the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), the Islamic State in Khorasan, and other groups sharing the same IS name. 

Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) is a jihadist terror group based in Pakistan and active in the Kashmir conflict against India. Established in 2000, JeM’s main goal is to merge the Kashmir region with Pakistan and create a Salafist state in the Indian subcontinent. Allied and closely related to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, JeM has emerged to be one of the deadliest terrorist groups in India and predominantly focuses its attacks in the Jammu and Kashmir states. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) institution has long been accused of supporting JeM and other terror groups in Kashmir including Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Also known as Nusrat al-Islam, Jama’a Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) is the official branch of al-Qaeda in Mali, focused on the Maghreb and West African region. JNIM was formed by merging Ansar Dine, the Macina Liberation Front, Al-Mourabitoun, and the Saharan branch of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). All of these militant groups follow Wahhabism Islam, a radical teaching of Sharia Law followed by al-Qaeda. They are crucial for encouraging and partaking in violence throughout West Africa.

Based in Indonesia as a hub for Islamist activity in Southeast Asia, predominantly in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and southern Philippines. Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) was formed in the 1990’s and has ties to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban that includes training, financial support, and pooling of resources. The extremist militant group was established to overthrow the Indonesian government and create a pan-Islamic state in Southeast Asia. After the US-led war on terror initiative, JI began to target US and Western interests in the region. Responsible for the deadly 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed +200 people, the group has been relatively dormant in recent years.

One of the largest Islamist militant organizations in South Asia, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) was established in 1987 and gained early support and funding by Osama bin Laden. Based in Pakistan, LeT’s main goal is to integrate the whole of Kashmir away from India and has committed various insurgencies against the former country, including the 2001 Indian Parliament attack and the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Believing the Kashmir conflict to be a part of a wider global struggle, LeT focuses on creating a pan-Islamic jihadist world and has been deemed a terrorist organization by Pakistan, India, and most western countries. LeT is also allied with the Hizbul Mujahideen, al-Qaeda, and other militant groups.

An illegitimate body that seized control over Afghanistan in the 2001, utilizing radicalized extremism and terrorism. Taliban presence has been an ongoing excuse for Western Allies to maintain a heavy presence within Afghanistan.

Referring themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), the group follows extremist Sharia law and Wahhabism. In saying so, the Taliban targets Christians, Westerners, Shi’a Muslims, and other ethnic minorities predominantly in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In February 2020, the US signed a peace deal with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan and begin friendly relations with the Afghan government. This has allowed for no American deaths since the treaty, but renewed fighting in Afghanistan between the government and the Taliban has led to 40,000 people displaced and 575 offensive attacks by the organization since the 15th of October 2020.

Strategies For Terrorism And Counterterrorism

Targeting all terror groups was a focal point for the Bush administration due to the similar nature of modus operandi carried out by most extremist Islamist organizations. There are five common strategies utilized by terrorist groups to maintain and grow their power and influence: attrition, intimidation, provocation, spoiling, and outbidding. Through these methods, violent organizations are able to achieve separate goals of regime and policy change, territorial gains, social control, and status quo maintenance through maintained legitimacy. Not all groups follow the same strategies or have the same goals, but most organizations targeted under Bush’s war are indistinguishable from each other and thus, make it easier to earmark radical Islamic insurgencies.

Through this strategy, militias convey more strength than adversaries and will inflict serious costs on targets. This benefits terrorist groups by threatening dangerous events if governments or targets do not listen to them.

Groups: The Taliban, Al-Shabaab

Counterterrorism Methods:

  • Conceding inessential issues and policies to ensure peace
  • Secure possible targets to minimize the threat of large costs 
  • Minimize psychological costs impacting citizens and overreaction to attacks, lowers legitimacy and unnecessary attention for perpetrators
  •  

Perpetrators punish whoever disobeys them and the targeted government is powerless or unable to help its citizens. Goals for this strategy are surrounded around regime change and/or social control over society, which allows for ease when overthrowing the government.

Groups: Boko Haram, Jama’a Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin, Al-Shabaab

Counterterrorism Methods:

  • Strengthen laws, educate, and finance police better to build on the states control over society
  • Retake territory under the perpetrators control slowly
  • Protection of possible targets

Provocation is commonly used by groups trying to create their own state or ethno-separatist group within an existing state. Perpetrators try to make the state or target seem evil and must be resisted in order to justify violence and gain support.

Groups: Al-Qaeda, ISIL, Hezbollah, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jeemah Islamiyah, Abu Sayyaf Group 

Counterterrorism Methods

  • Separate and isolate terrorists from population, which decreases chances of insurgencies 
  • Minimize collateral damage, violent responses to terrorist attacks must be discriminate 

Militias who utilize this strategy are fragmented and “weak” and sell mistrust about other groups in order to gain legitimacy and support. Fight between moderate and extreme groups, the state believes there is no separation between the groups and will target both.

Groups: Hamas, Fatah

Counterterrorism Methods

  • Focused on trust building and vulnerability reduction 
    • Utilize and enforce third party monitoring 
    • Power sharing agreements 
    • Demonstrate commitments for peace and to international institutions to gain worldwide legitimacy and support 

Militias who utilize this strategy are fragmented and “weak” but still have the will to continue fighting, demonstrated through inflicting high costs in order to gain legitimacy and support. Perpetrators prove superiority against multiple other organizations in competition for supporters. This is done through inflicting costs which shows the groups level of commitment and generates publicity for their cause.

Groups: Hamas vs Fatah vs the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Palestine. Hizbul Mujahideen vs Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan. 

Counterterrorism Methods

  • Encourage competing groups to unify and consolidate power to create a single unified organization, which decreases the number of belligerents and minimizes threats of civil conflict or violence 
  • Validate nonviolent groups and strategies, carrot and stick method to punish violent responses

Timeline

The September 11th attacks in 2001 was carried out by the extremist and notorious Islamic group Al-Qaeda in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. A total of 2,977 people we killed by the attacks that were executed through the use of four airplanes. Of the four, “two planes were flown into the twin tours of the World Trade Center in New York City, a third plane hit the Pentagon [in D.C.] and the fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania”.

This was significant in rising awareness about extremist religious terrorism and allowed the US to begin operations in the Middle East.

A day after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush declared an international manhunt for the notorious Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden that included a bounty of $25 million. On the 2nd of May in 2011, Bin Laden was “shot in the head during a dramatic raid by US special forces in Pakistan”.

The UNSC outlaws the actions and behaviors of the terrorists that partook in the 9/11 attacks, while encouraging all allied nations to assist in locating the perpetrators for the purpose of holding them accountable.

The United States and Canada align in their launching of homeland security investigations on suspected terrorists and persons of interest. The US Congress authorized the use of force against terrorist militants which effectively enabled the US military to be deployed abroad to further Bush’s War on Terror. The military was crucial in locating and arresting any associated persons or anyone providing assistance to the terrorists in foreign countries. This was the beginning of the US’ involvement in Afghanistan and surrounding states in the Middle East.

A Pakistani delegation attempt to appeal to the Leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, for the hand over of Bin Laden. Omar however refused to hand over Bin Laden despite being warned that failure to do so would result in US military attack.

Described as ‘the charismatic spiritual leader of the Taliban,’ Mullah Omar’s refusal to hand over Bin Laden to the US pressured the US Government to follow through with the threat of war. At the time, Omar believed the Al Qaeda extremist ‘Bin Laden to be his honoured guest.’

Operation Enduring Freedom began on the 1st of October 2001 and ended on the 28th of December 2018. Operation Enduring Freedom came to be known as ‘the U.S. led war in Afghanistan.’ The Operation was launched in order to combat and eliminate the notorious Taliban regime and the sheltering of Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists by the Taliban. Here, CNN summarizes that ‘The Operation was launched to stop the Taliban from providing a safe haven to Al Qaeda and to stop Al Qaeda’s use of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities.’

Forming an integral component of President’s Bush’s war Guantanamo Bay opened in early January 2002. Official records outline that ‘the first detainees arrived at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility on January 11, 2002.’ The choice of location for the detention facility was purely strategic, as such enabled the facility to operate beyond the arms width of the law. Here, the Guardian Online reports that ‘the military prison at Guantanamo Bay… was intentionally established on a US naval base on the tip of Cuba [so] that Mr. Bush’s lawyers [could] argue that [it] was beyond the reach of usual law.’

The operation of the detention facility has attracted strong backlash from human rights bodies and the like. The Independent online reports that ‘Although it was claimed [that] the prisoners were being kept in humane conditions, within the first two years it was revealed that inmates were subjected to Abu Ghraib-style torture and sexual humiliation…’

Operative Active Endeavour was a joint USA-NATO maritime mission. The Operation aimed to prohibit the movements of both terrorists and Weapons of Mass Destruction within the Mediterranean Sea. With time, ‘ the counter-terrorism activities performed by NATO navels forces in the Eastern Mediterranean later expanded to the entire Mediterranean region.’

Operation ceased in 2016.

UNSC adopts Resolution 1390, which specifically targeted the operations of Bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. In a bid to cripple the terrorist cells functionality, the resolution sought to freeze funds, refuse the sale of arms and deny entry of all three parties.

Operations Mountain Lion, Operation Ptmargian and Operation Jacana strategy launched in April of 2002. The aim of operations, although separate, was to specifically targets and eliminate terrorist cells in in Gardez, Khots and Pakita province. More so specifically, ‘Operation Mountain Lion was designed to find enemy fighters in the Gardez and Khost regions, destroy those that were there and deny them control of the area and an opportunity to reorganize their forces.’

Operation Ptmargian has a stronger focus on combatant control. CNN world reports that ‘Operation Ptmargian is a combat mission in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, led primarily by a 45 Commando unit of the Royal British Marines.’

Bail bombings carried out by ‘members of extremist Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah.’ 202 lives were lost in the Bali terrorist attack, with hundreds wounded.

The Dubrovka Theater in Moscow, Russia was the target of a massive seizure that was led by Movsar Barayev, a leader of a Chechen Islamist separatist movement. At least 50 Chechen militants held 800-900 hostages in the theater, later killing at least 170 people. This was part of the Second Chechen War and occurred during the peak of the insurgency. Barayev and the movement demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces in Chechnya.

After four days of the seizure, Spetsnaz forces alongside a Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) unit, released an undisclosed chemical gas in the theater to rescue the hostages. In doing so, all the insurgents were killed and up to 204 hostages died due to the toxic gas.

Resolution 1441 called for Saddam Hussein to cease Nuclear developments in compliance with the Nuclear Proliferation Act, allowing him a final opportunity to comply.

CIA begins drones strikes in Yemen and also the Saudi Arabian Sects which target Al-Qaeda members.

The Al Qaeda orchestrated Mombasa attacks in Kenya kill 13 people and injure 80.

Protests organized globally against the Iraq War.

Colin Powell, Secretary of the State, addresses UNSC to declare that President Hussein has been attempting to obtain key components in order to build nuclear weapons.

Official estimates report that the Casablanca terrorists killed 42 people and wounded over a 100. Whether or not the attacks were actually orchestrated by the Al-Qaeda remains unsettled. Moroccan intelligence did however identify that the attackers were adherents of extremist Islamic ideology. CNN online reported that ‘Moroccan police told CNN they believe the attackers were Morocaans who had trained abroad, and that some have links to a shadowy Islamic group known as Salifia Jihadia.’

Reports indicate that the terrorist attack was orchestrated by ‘Jemaah Islamiyah (Ji), an Al-Qaeda linked terrorist group suspected of carrying out similar attacks in south-east Asia.’ The suicide bombing which occurred killed 50 innocents and injured 150 others. The attacks targeted ‘Hotel Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott’ in the more so affluent and economically blooming sector of Indonesia. The attack on the Marriott bought into serious scrutiny the viability tightness of security procedures set in place.

The Leader of the Eastern Turkenstan Islamic Movement, Hasan Mesum, was shot dead by Pakistan forces ‘on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.’

It is estimated that the Al Qaeda orchestrated attacks killed over 60 people and wounded over 600. NBC news online reports that ‘The November 2003 bombings destroyed a British bank, the British Consulate and two synagogues.’

The attacks were orchestrated under the direction and command of the notorious Islamic Extremist terrorist ‘Loa’i Mohammad Haj Bakr al-Saqa.’ Commonly referred to as Al-Saqa, NBC News Online reports that he was responsible for ‘masterminding the attacks.’ His affiliation with Al Qaeda appeared to be both direct and strong with NBC News online further reporting that ‘he was accused of serving as a main point man between al-Qaida and homegrown militants behind the series of suicide bombings in Istanbul in 2003.’

US Forces successfully captured Saddam Hussein in Iraq during Operation Red Dawn.

American invasion on Iraqi soil commenced in March of 2003. The Council on Foreign Relations (Council) recounts that ‘In March of 2003, U.S. forces invaded Iraq vowing to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and end the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein.’ This war formally ended on the 18th of December 2011, with lives being lost on both sides. The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that ‘nearly 4,500 Americans and well over 100,000 Iraqis were killed’ during this period. Whereas the economic cost of the invasion has been stated to be a staggering ‘$800 billion from the U.S. Treasury.’

Philippines terrorist group Abu Sayyaf (ASG) carryout the SuperFerry attack. The attacks inclued 14 bombings and killed 114 people.

Known as the ‘deadliest terrorist attack in Spain’s history’ the Madrid Train Bombings ‘killed 191 people and wounded more than 1,800.’ The attacks were carried out by members of Al Qaeda.

The Al Qaeda orchestrated Khobar massacre in Saudi Arabia resulted in the death of 22 innocents. Indeed. New Zealand Herald online reports that ‘Al Qaeda militants killed 22 civilians and took dozens of foreigners hostage in a daring attack…’ The motive behind the attacks was informed by a strong feeling of hatred for Saudi Arabia’s strong foreign relations based dealings with the Western world. Here, New Zealand Herald online reports that ‘Al Qaeda wants to destabilize the country whose leaders it considers subservient to the West.’

Australian embassy bombings in Jakarta kills 9 and injure 160.

US, Iraq and Kurdish forces fought to regain Mosul proceeding al Qaeda in Iraq lodging various ambushes and attacks on the city.

The operation was carried out on the borders of Syria, with the purpose of the operation being to secure and block terrorist group flows entering Iraq via Syria. The Operation was hailed to be a strong victory as it was reported that ‘the operation had cleared out the terrorist haven and killed more than 125 militants during the week long campaign against followers of Iraq’s most wanted terrorist Abu Musab-al-Zarqawi.’

The London bombings which occurred on the 7th of July 2005 came to be known as 7/7, was a systematically planned suicide bombings attack on London’s underground rail network and bus system. The attacks ‘killed 52 people and injured more than 700.’

The attacks catalysed major shifts in ‘British counterterrorism policy, which previously focused on foreign threats.’ BCC online has reported that ‘The bombings of three Tube trains and a bus- carried out by four bombers linked to Al-Qaeda,’ the Islamic Extremist Terrorist group. However, these attackers were actually ‘characterized as “ordinary British citizens” in the subsequent investigation [where is was found that the attacks were carried out using inexpensive readily available materials.’

On the 1st of October 2005 bomb blasts carried out by three suicide bombers in Bali resulted in the deaths of 26 civilians, with ‘hospital officials stating that the wounded numbered at 102.’

CNN online reported that ‘Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono condemned the bombings as an act of terrorism.’ It is unclear whether an extremist group is responsible for the attacks. However, CNN online has reported that ‘terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna told CNN that the attacks had the hallmarks of Jemaah Islamiyah- a Southeast Asian terrorist groups with ties to Al Qaeda.’

The string of bombings which occurred on the 9th of November 2005 in Amman Jordan, came to be known as ‘Jordan’s 9/11.’ The terrorist attack resulted in the deaths of ’57, with 93 injured.’ The attacks were carried out by Al-Qaida in Iraq affiliated terrorists. The guardian online has reported that ‘In its third statement posted on the internet, Al-Qaida in Iraq said that it had sent four Iraqis to Jordan to launch suicide attacks.’

Operation Sayeed begins. It was an umbrella operation in Iraq aimed at eliminating AQI’s presence in the region, led by the US.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has reported to have gained its stronghold of Diyala Governorate in April of 2006.

The fall of Diyala Governorate in November of 2007, which was heralded to be ‘an al Qaeda in Iraq sanctuary’ was made possible by the actioning of a tripartite offensive made possible by joint American and Iraqi cooperation. Of particular significance of these ‘three successive large scale military campaigns… was the second offensive [named] Phantom Thunder [whereby it was] the Corps offensive to clear al Qaeda sanctuaries in the belts around Baghdad from which the organization launched its most devastating vehicle bomb attacks.’

The first major stage of civil unrest in Somalia begin during the ‘June-July’ period, with a clear peak in Islamist insurgency. High level news sources have highlighted the June 2006 to be of particular significance as it is ‘in June 2006 [that] Islamist militia loyal to the Somalia Islamic Courts Council seized Mogadishu after defeating US-backed warlords.’

The notorious Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed on the 7th of June 2006 in a US ‘airstrike on a house 50 km northeast of Baghdad, in the province of Diyala, just east of the provincial capital, Baquba.’ Aljazeera online reported that the death of al-Zarqawi was largely made possible by intelligence provided by civilians residing in the area. Indeed, it was further reported that ‘Iraq’s Prime Minister Al-Maliki said that the air strike was the result of intelligence reports provided to Iraqi security forces by resident in the area, and US forces acted on the information.’

This date marked a crucial turning point in the war against Islamist insurgents as US backed Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia to attack the Islamist insurgents.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq officially declared that Iraq as of October 2006 is the Islamic State of Iraq.

Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging on in the early hours of November 30th 2006.

Hussein’s execution was met with a mixed bag of reactions, with the Shia Muslim community who suffered at the hand of the dictator either engaging in celebration or expressing a strong ‘sense of hopelessness.’ Here, the Guardian Online reported that ‘one Shia taxi driver who gave his name as Shawkat said that “They can kill him 10 times but it won’t bring safety to the streets because there is not state of law.’ On the hand, the Sunni Muslim population have expressed anger and revolt at the dictator’s execution, with the Guardian online reporting that ‘In Iraq opinion was divided sharply along sectarian lines, with Sunni Muslims warning of “bloodbaths in the streets.”’

The 11th of April terrorist bombings claimed the lives of ‘at least 23 people and wounded 162.’ The bombings were planned and executed across two specifically targeted locations; ‘a government building and a police station in Bab Ezzourar.’

The New York Times reported that ‘Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, North Africa’s most active terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the attacks.’

A total of five separate bombings took place throughout popular locations for the Shiite community to gather in Iraq’s capital city. All attacks utilized suicide and car bombings, with the deadliest event being the fourth bomb that detonated in the crowded al-Sadriya market in Baghdad that killed 140 people and injured over 150. Over 250 people wounded and 200 dead as a result of all the attacks. Suspected to be done by al-Qaeda militants, the attacks came after the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the country’s armed forces will take over security of Iraq by the end of the year.

This is the second massive and deadly attack to occur in al-Sadriya market in 2007, the first occurring on February 3rd and killed at least 135 people.

Around 800 people were killed and over 1,500 injured when four car bombings were detonated in the northern Iraqi cities of al-Qahtaniyah (Til Ezar) and al-Jazeera (Siba Sheikh Khidir). Tensions had been rising in the communities due to ongoing conflict between Yazidi and Sunni Muslims and the murder of a 17-year old Yazidi girl named Du’a Khalil Aswad in April 7th of that year. Aswad was stoned to death by Yazidi men as part of an ‘honor killing’ for allegedly converting to Islam to marry an Iraqi Sunni boy, with several videos of the stoning posted on the internet. Her death led to reprisal attacks from ISIL and Jamaat Ansar al-Sunna on the 22nd of April, which killed 48 Yazidi and Assyrian locals. Though no individual or group has claimed responsibility for the deadly bombings on August 14th, local newspapers have stated that it could have been another reprisal attack for Aswad’s death.

December of 2007 is marked as the time period when Militant Group Tehrik-i-Taliban officially declared its’ Pakistan. Tehrik-i-Taliban is also noted to have been ‘founded in December of 2007.’

The brutal attacks reportedly ‘killed six people and injured more than 20’ on the 17th September of September 2008 in Islamabad Pakistan. The notorious terrorist group ‘Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Danish Embassy Attack… [with] Al Qaeda’s top leader in Afghanistan .’ Avenging the attack on the reputability of the Prophet Mohammad by the Danish media was the said motive driving the attacks. As such it has been reported that, ‘in 2004 several Danish newspapers published cartoon in 2004 which many in the Islamic world found insulting… The Mohammad cartoon triggered riots in early 2006 in several Muslim nations, including Pakistan. Danish newspapers then reprinted the cartoon in February 2008 on freedom of speech grounds.’

The attacks gave rise to a heightened sense of fear in Islamabad, particularly in the diplomat community.

This terror attack on the American Embassy in Yemen ‘killed 10 Yemeni police and civilians.’ The attack was highly coordinated with officials opining that these suicide car bombings ‘beared the hallmarks of an al Qaeda attack.’

France24 online has reported that Islamic extremist militant group ‘Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened similar strikes against the British, Saudi and United Arab Emirates missions in the Yemeni capital.’

Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was killed by 50 al-Shabaab militants in a stadium in front of 1,000 spectators after reporting that she had been raped by three men. Al-Shabaab controls the town of Kismayu and had accused her of adultery after her statements, which calls for the accused to be stoned to death in the strict Sharia Law doctrine the militia follows. Spectators who attempted to help Duhulow during her public murder were shot and led to the death of one young boy in the crowd. Al-Shabaab later “apologized for the death of the [boy] child, and said the militia member would be punished”

Other than accusing Duhulow of adultery, the militia also claimed she was 23 years old and “was happy with the punishment under Islamic law” which has been refuted by many of the witnesses of the death.

The Mumbai terror attacks were orchestrated by the Pakistani based terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. The attacks claimed the life of 164 people, however there are slight variances in the death toll reported with other credible news sources, such as BBC online reporting the death as standing at 166. The wounded numbered in the hundreds.

The attacks were carefully planned and systematically carried out across the 5 following specifically targeted locations; ‘Café Leopold, Cama and Albless Hospital, Nariman House, Oberoi-Trident hotel and The Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel towers.’ On the 26th of November the terrorists open fired at the Cama and Albless Hospital and also at Café Leopold. The attacks claimed the lives of 16 people in total. Here, CNN World online reported that ‘approximately 10 people were killed in the Café Leopold attack which lasted 10-15 minutes.’ Whereas, other avenues were subject to sieges which last from three to four days in duration. Here, CNN World online reported that ‘Nariman House and the Oberoi-Trident Hotel were subject to a three-day long siege.’ Further, ‘the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel where under siege for four day, during which 31 lives were claimed.’

Late February of 2009 marked a clear and strong shift in US war rhetoric with ‘President Obama [officially announcing plans] to withdraw most US troops from Iraq by the end of 2010.’ ­ President Obama formally acknowledged the toll that the war in Iraq had on both American military personnel and Iraqi civilians. Nevertheless, Obama’s acknowledgement of the Iraqi experience was not made devoid of US politic rhetoric. Here, The Guardian online reported that ‘[President Obama] also had words for Iraqis, saying that the US had done its bit and now it was time for Iraqis to take responsibility.’

In 2009 the insurgent group Boko Haram officially began its rebellion in Nigeria. The Guardian online specifically notes that in ‘2009 Boko Haram launched its military campaign for Islamist rule.’ July of 2009 is especially imminent as it marked a spike in bloodshed with the militant group rapidly increasing its reign of terror. CNN world recounts that that in ‘July [of[ 2009 the Boko Haram uprising began in Bauchi, and spread to the states of Borno, Kano and Yobe.’

The twin bomb blasts in Jos Nigeria claimed the lives of ‘at least 44 people, with a further 67 wounded.’ Whilst no terrorist militant groups have come forth claiming responsibility for the attack, the ‘attacks have been blamed on the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.’

In early 2010, the members of the terrorist militant group proclaimed their allegiance to Al-Qaeda. This proclamation was made through the following statement whereby ‘the group vowed to “connect the horn of Africa Jihad to the one led by al-Qaeda and its Sheikh Osama Bin Laden.” However, it is important to note here that it was not until ‘February of 2012 that al-Shabab’s leadership formally declared allegiance to Al-Qaeda.’

Osama bin Laden was successfully located and killed by US Navy Seals in Abbottabad Pakistan.

The long running war in Iraq ended in late 2011, with Obama announcing the formal withdrawal ‘of all U.S. troops from Iraq at the end of 2011, after the failure of negotiations of keeping some their as trainers.’ December 18th 2011 is of particular significance as it marks the closing of this war period. Here, Reuters online reported that on ‘December 18th, the last U.S. forces cross the border into Kuwait leaving just 150 troops attached to the huge U.S. embassy.’

January of 2012 marked the beginning of the Northern Mali conflict, which was born the gross instability of ethnic tension. The conflict in Northern Mali has continued to evolve over the years and is presently on foot in 2019. The mass displacement of civilians began in January of 2012.

The key consequence of events which unfolded in the first half of 2012 are as follows. It has been reported that the conflict itself was ignited by ‘the Tuareg ethnic rebellion in the north in January of 2012 which set off massive displacement as people fled the fighting.’

Al Qaeda’s prominent and ongoing influence in the region has proved problematic in the move towards peace.

February of 2012 has been formally noted to mark Al-Shabab’s formally swearing of allegiance to Al-Qaeda.

At least 115 people died and over 270 injured when three bombs blast throughout Quetta in southwestern Pakistan. The first bombing targeted paramilitary soldiers in a crowded area earlier in the day, killing 12 people. An ethnic Baluchistan separatist group claimed responsibility for this attack. The next two bombings took place minutes apart in a billiards club, killing 81 and wounding 170, including the deaths of five police officers and three journalists. The twin explosions at the billiards hall were claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

Quetta is home to a significant number of the country’s minority Shi’a Hazara community, a tribe mercilessly targeted by various extremist Sunni organizations. These groups, such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda, follow strict Sharia Law which deems any and all religions other than Sunni Islam un-Muslim and punishable by death.

A bomb was hidden in a water tank in a crowded market in Hazara Town close to Quetta, the capital city of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan. Terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack, a Sunni Deobandi militant group that heavily targets areas in Quetta. Of the 91 deaths and 190 injured, most were ethnic Shi’a Twelver, predominantly followed by the Hazara people. The Baluchistan province is mostly made up of the Baluch people and Pashtuns, with minority groups like the Hazara community living largely in Quetta and surrounding cities such as Hazara Town.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Qaeda’s chapter in Syria join forces which results in the formation of ISIL

On 21st September, 67 innocent civilians lost their lives in attacks coordinated by the terrorist group Al-Shabaab. The wounded have been reported to be numbered in the hundreds. The attack began ‘at midday on the 21st of September [when] Al-Shabab militants stormed Nairobi’s premiere shopping centre, throwing grenades and firing indiscriminately at shoppers, [with] the subsequent siege lasting 80 hours.’

This brutal attack was reported to have been driven by Al-Shabab’s strong distaste for the Kenyan government’s support for and involvement in bolstering ‘Somalia’s UN-backed government.’ BBC online reported that ‘Somalia’s al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabab, said it had attacked the mall because Kenya sent troops to Somalia to bolster the UN-backed government.’

June 2014 is of particular significance to the ongoing war against terror as Iran formally announced its’ absolutist stand against Islamic Extremism in the region. As reported by BBC online Iraqi President Hassan Rouhani formally vocalized a strong commitment to cooperate with Iraq in the war against Islamic extremism in the region. President Rouhani’s following statement is a clear embodiment of this commitment, whereby it was proclaimed that ‘If the Iraqi government asks us for help, we may provide any assistance the Iraqi nation would like us to provide in the fight against terrorism.’

Further, Iran alluded to the possibility of joining forces with the United States as part of its strong commitment to eradicating Islamic extremism in the region. This nuanced shift in Iranian strategic rhetoric appears particularly promising as it demonstrates a willingness to put aside past differences in order to pursue the greater good. Here BBC online reports that ‘President Rouhani did not rule out co-operating with the United States, Iran’s traditional foe, in combatting ISIS.’

Iran, Iraq and the USA share a common goal which is the eradication of ISIS. In quoting the words of ‘Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’ BBC online highlights the forcefulness of this sentiment, as the honorary Prime Minister stated that “This is the beginning of the end of them [ISIS].”

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) launched an attack on Camp Speicher in Tikrit, Iraq that took the lives of over 1,700 Iraqi citizens. Between 5,000 to 10,000 cadets were stationed at the camp, and ISIL militants selectively chose to kill the Shi’a and non-Muslim Iraqi’s. ISIL later released several videos and photos of the massacre onto their website as propaganda, showing various methods of torture and killings utilized by the group.

In 2016 the Iraqi government executed 36 men for their role in the massacre and continued to sentence 27 more people to death in 2017.

The 22nd of September marks a significant turn in the tactic employed by the US in the Syrian war ‘as American jets began bombing ISIS targets in Syria [with] airstrikes [being] focussed on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa.’

In 2001, United States former President Bush announced the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) which targeted Taliban and al-Qaeda mainly in Afghanistan before spreading to include major operations in the Philippines and Sahara region of Africa. These missions continued onto the War in Afghanistan after President Obama announced the formal end of OEF but continued military non-combat and combat in the country. George W. Bush expressed the purpose of OEF to include the destruction of terrorist training camps and resources in Afghanistan, as well as the capturing of al-Qaeda leaders and an end to all terrorist activity in the Middle Eastern country. 

In January 2002, the US sent 1,200 soldiers to support the Philippine military in their fight against terrorism in the Bangsamoro region. Their main targets were the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), al-Qaeda in the southeast Asian region, and the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). Support was mainly reliant on training and humanitarian aid, as a deal between the US and Philippine military was made to disallow direct combat against the militants. The same year in October, US soldiers were stationed in Djibouti to provide humanitarian aid and patrolling of the Saharan region where terrorist groups were increasing in power. Similar to the operation in the Philippines, non-combat was emphasized in their training and support.

From 2001 to 2014, the US government had spent over $150 billion conducting OEF missions. On the 28th of December 2014, President Obama concluded major OEF missions and later iniated Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS) in January 2015. 

NATO officially ends combat operations in Afghanistan. This ends this phase in the Afghan War.

Boko Haram led a series of insurgency attacks throughout Northeastern Nigeria in the state of Borno that led to the confirmed deaths of 150 people, with over 2,000 still missing and feared dead. 17 towns in the area have been destroyed and left over 1.5 million people displaced, with Baga being hit the most by the terrorist group. The attacks began when Boko Haram seized the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) military base in Baga that stationed soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, and Chad. The MNJTF was formed in 1994 to combat cross-border security and the rising Boko Haram insurgency. At the time of the attacks, Baga was the last major town in the Borno state that was still under the control of the Nigerian government. The massacres allowed the group’s control to extend to over 70% of the Borno state. Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the massacre in a video where he stated that the group’s terrorizing “will not stop” and how the attacks were “not much”.

Abubakar Shekau, leader of the notorious extremist militant group Boko Haram officially declared their allegiance to ISIS.

Al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group directly connected to Al-Qaeda, stormed the Garissa University College in Garissa, Kenya and killed 148 people, with over 80 injured and 300 unaccounted for. The attack began with holding over 700 student’s hostage with the group of gunmen later freeing most of the Muslims and killing people that identified as Christians. The siege ended after 15 hours when Kenyan police and army killed all four of the gunmen.

Al-Shabaab released a statement regarding the attacks, claiming responsibility and stated that it was due to the unfair treatment and killings of Muslims in the Kenyan Northeastern province at the hands of the government and police. Northeastern Kenya is home to predominantly ethnic Somali’s.

Referred to by The Atlantic Online as ‘The Ramadan Attacks’ the safety of civilians in the nation-states’ of ‘Tunisia, Kuwait and France’ were grossly compromised. Whilst it has been reported that the ‘Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Kuwait incident,’ the matter of whether the attacks on Tunisian and French soil are attributable to the Islamic state remains unsolved. Carnage and human toll were reported as follows ‘In Tunisia, at least 37 people were shot dead… Kuwait 25 were killed and more than 200 injured in a suicide bomb, [whereas] in France the victim was decapitated.’

During the Syrian Civil war, the Kobanî massacre was made up of many suicide attacks, car bombs, and shootings throughout the Kurdish-held city of Kobanî. Close to the Turkish border, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for the attack as Kurdish and Syrian government officials stated that the vehicles carrying the perpetrators entered the city from the Turkish side of the border. Turkish President Ergodan has denied any responsibility, and it is important to highlight Turkey’s role in the massacre, as it heightened tensions around the country’s suspected support towards ISIL attacks in Syria.

The massacres continued on for three days and led to a total of 223+ casualties and over 300 injured. This was the second-largest massacre carried out by ISIL since its establishment in 2014.

The suicide bombings in Beirut Lebanon, organized by the notorious terrorist group ISIS, ‘killed at least 43 people and wounded more than 200 others in a predominately Shia area of Southern Beirut.’ The attacks appeared to have been racially motivated as The Guardian online reported that ‘In a statement, ISIS said that the aim of the attack was to kill Shia Muslims.’

Soon after the brutal attacks were orchestrated ‘Isis claimed responsible for the attacks.’

On the 13th of November 2015 the notorious terrorist group ISIS orchestrated a string of attacks across France which left ‘130 people died and over 350 injured.’ According to a formal statement issued by ISIS the attacks were driven and informed by political vengeance. Here, The Guardian Online reported that ‘A statement issued by Islamic State said it carried out the attacks in response to France’s airstrike’s in Syria and threatened further reprisals.’

Eight terrorists were carried out the attacks at six specifically targeted locations across France. Although news sources vary on this point, it has been noted that either six or seven of the attackers took their own lives by way of suicide bombing on the day.

The first attack occurred in the Al-Jawhara mall in Baghdad where a car bomb exploded and killed 12 people, with hostages being taken by the ISIL militants. A double bombing at a café in Iraq’s capital killed another 20 people, and a crowd gathered at the scene of the attack, a suicide bomber detonates another car bomb. Later in the day, ISIL detonated two more massive bombs at a tea shop and mosque in Iraq’s northern Diyala province. ISIL quickly claimed responsibility for all the attacks, praising their suicide bomber Abu Abdallah for his role in the attacks that claimed over 132 lives. The main 6 perpetrators were killed during the attacks.

October 16th 2016 officially marked the beginning of the offensive against ISIS in the Iraqi City of Mosul. This offensive targeted Mosul specifically as it was an ISIS stronghold. And secondly, its downfall would also be of great symbolic and tactical value, as ‘In June 2014, when the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a global caliphate, he did it from Mosul.’ The offensive was supported by ‘a coalition of more than 30,000 troops drawn from Iraqi army forces, Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Shia militias, supported by airstrikes from the US-led coalition, and also Turkish forces despite Iraqi government opposition.’ At the end Iraq and its allies were victorious, however, this victory was not achieved without violence and bloodshed. It has been reported that whilst ‘progress was initially swift’ this was short lived. This is due Iraq and its allied forces ‘facing strong and fierce resistance from IS, including snipers, suicide bombers and shellfire.’ Further, BBC online has reported that ‘Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared victory over IS in the Mosul on 10 July 2017.’

The prolonger fighting proved detrimental to both Mosul’s infrastructure and to the lives of thousands of civilians. BBC online reported that ‘according to the International Organization for Migration more than 800,000 people fled their homes as a result of the fighting in Mosul.’ Further, the battle for Mosul and war against ISIS did not come free of strong civilian casualties. Here, it has been reported that ‘UN officials in late January of 2017 stated that almost half of all the casualties in Mosul were civilians. At least 2,463 have been killed and 1,661 injured across the Nineveh province since October.’

Civilian lives were not only lost as they attempted to escape the crossfire, in fact civilians were reported to have been specifically targeted and killed by IS militants during the battle. Here BBC online reported that ‘UN human rights officials said in June that they had received credible reports of hundreds of civilians being shot dead by IS militants as they attempted to flee fighting in western Mosul, with reports of other being used as human shield.’

A truck lined with heavy duty explosives targeted eight buses full of Shi’a pilgrims in Hillah city, which is at least 100 kilometers from Baghdad. Killing over 125 people and injuring over 100, most of the victims were of Iranian decent and included Iraqi citizens from nearby Basra and Nasiriyah. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, emphasizing the increased intensity of their attacks due to the heightened fighting in the Battle of Mosul between the ISIL and the Iraqi Government.

2016 was the year where the largest number of Iranians, approximately three million, visited Iraq to attend the Arba’een Shi’a Pilgrimage.

Occurring at the Sirte District in Libya, the Battle of Sirte was fought between the Libyan interim government, the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL captured the city a year earlier in the 2015 Battle of Sirte, winning against the Libyan Shield Force, an anti-Gaddafi militia that had links to al-Qaeda. The United States joined the GNA side along with Italy in Operation Odyssey Lightning in August 2016. The GNA won the 2016 battle in a major victory, as Sirte was described by the Pentagon to be ISIL’s “last stand” in Libya. This conflict was fought by ISIL while they were involved in the Battle of Mosul and the Raqqa Campaign, among other smaller disputes.

At least three suicide car bombings were detonated in eastern Sadr City in Baghdad, a large Shi’a Muslim majority area. 56 people were killed and over 120 injured in the attack claimed by the Islamic State.

Multiple bombings took place throughout Afghanistan in Kabul, Kandahar, Lashkargah, and other suspected areas. Between 60-100 people were killed and over 90 were injured, not including three perpetrators killed. Areas of focus for the attacks were governmental and tribal establishments. The Taliban claimed reasonability for all the attacks except one that targeted a United Arab Emirate diplomatic mission. This is a continuation of the renewed War in Afghanistan.

President Donald Trump signs Executive Order 13769 Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States. This order prohibited migration from several States, including the Middle East and Northern Africa. Syrian, Sudan, Somali, Yemen, Iraq, Iran and Libyan refugee admissions were also suspended for months. However, later became blocked on the grounds of being discriminatory and unconstitutional. Also known as the Muslim Ban’.

The first attack took place in the Old City of Damascus with a double suicide bombing that killed 74 and injured over 100 mostly Iraqi Shi’a pilgrims. This attack was claimed by Fateh al-Sham Front, a former al-Qaeda affiliate that controlled a large section of the northwestern Idlib province, an area important for rebel bastions. Two more suicide bombings were detonated on the 15th at the Damascus judicial building and in a restaurant in the Syrian capital. ISIL later claimed both attacks that occurred on the 15th, where 40 people died and over 30 injured. In total, 114 people were killed and 150+ injured from the bombings.

Launched by the Iraqi Government allied with local militias, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and international nations to regain the city of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL seized the city and its surrounding areas in the Nineveh Governorate in 2014, Mosul being the location of the Great Mosque where ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the groups caliphate. The second most populous city in Iraq, the number of inhabitants in Mosul dropped from 2.5 million to 1.5 million two years after ISIL captured it. The Sunni-majority city had a lot of diversity with Mosul being home to various ethnic minorities including Yazidiz and Assyrians, all of whom would have suffered under ISIL’s strict Sharia Law ruling.

Mosul was the last stronghold for ISIL in Iraq and was already the site of two unsuccessful retake attempts by Iraqi and Kurdish forces. The Battle of Mosul was the world’s largest military operation in 15 years, the last massive mission being the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. The victorious allied side had a combination of up to 115,000 soldiers with the international coalition led by the United States and included 60 nations. This event was concurrent with the 2016 Battle of Sirte in Libya and the 2016-2017 Raqqa Campaign in Syria.

Members of the ISIL launched a series of attacks in the Dhi Qar Governorate in the Nasiriyah region of Iraq, killing at least 84 and wounding over 100. The first attack occurred at a popular restaurant for pilgrims, with several gunmen and at least one suicide bomber killing at least 50 people. Not long after, two suicide bombers armed in an explosive-rigged car detonated themselves at a nearby police checkpoint. The majority of the casualties were Iranian and Iraqi Shi’a pilgrims who were traveling north to Karbala, the holy city for Shi’ite Muslims. The ISIL have conducted a series of attacks against Shi’a Muslims in Iraq, having been the perpetrators for an attack last year in Iran that killed 125.

Also known as Operation Wrath of Euphrates, the campaign was launched by the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) with the goal of capturing the IS’s capital city of Raqqa in Syria. The SDF is led by the Kurdish-majority People’s Protection Units (YPG) and is a militia made up of Arab, Kurdish, and various ethnic groups such as Armenian and Chechen forces. The Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) was a US-led coalition joined by France, Germany, and the United Kingdom that supported the SDF against ISIL. A small number of troops made up the CJTF-OIR due to the involvement of international forces in the concurrent Battle of Mosul. Many ISIL fighters living in Mosul fled to Raqqa after the Battle of Mosul was initiated, boosting the total number of militants in the de facto capital during the Raqqa Campaign. The SDF side won in a decisive victory that included retaking a majority of land claimed by ISIL.

This battle was part of the major and ongoing Rojava-Islamist conflict in the Syrian Civil War, with violence erupting between the Kurdish-majority YPG and various Islamist factions in Ras al-Ayn, northeastern Syria.

United States Secretary of Defense announced that the US National Security Department would be refocusing towards Great Power Interactions rather than pursuing the War on Terror as heavily.

On February 25th 2020 a hard lined Iraqi court awarded the death penalty to 15 ISIS wives. As reported by CBS News online ‘An Iraqi criminal court … sentenced 15 Turkish women to death by hanging after finding them guilty of belonging to the Islamic State….’ The death penalty was awarded to these women for their act of ‘illegally entering Iraq [in order to] join their husbands who were heading to fight for the self-proclaimed “caliphate” straddling vast areas of Iraq and Syria.’

The decision is reflective of Iraq’s no tolerance-based law and legal policy. As reported by CBS News Online ‘Iraq’s anti-terrorism law empowers courts to convict people who are believed to have helped ISIS even if they are not accused of carrying out attacks.’ Further CBS News Online has also reiterated the hard line stance that Iraq has taken with regards to terrorism in the region by highlighting that Iraqi law ‘allows for the death penalty to be issued against anyone- including non-combatants- found guilty of belonging to ISIS.’

In line with Iraqi hard lined stance against terrorism in the region ‘an Iraqi court in Baghdad sentenced 19 Russian women to life in prison for joining [the] Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL) fighters in the country.’ In order to further provide context regarding the harsh nature of the ruling Aljazeera Online has explained that ‘Iraq’s anti-terrorism laws empower courts to convict people who are believed to have helped ISIL, even if they were not directly involved in fighting.’

However, as further reported by Aljazeera online the ruling maybe be unjustifiably harsh as ‘Most of the women on trial claimed to have been misled into making the trip to Iraq.’ If this is actually the truth then it appears that innocents have been sentenced to life behind bars.

Taliban militants opened fire and utilized a suicide bomber in an attack at the National Directorate for Security (NDS) base in Maydan Shahr district, Wardak, Afghanistan.

The attack was carried out along the Srinagar-Jammu highway in the Pulwama District in Kashmir, with Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists targeting a convoy of India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officers. Militants detonated a car filled with explosives after ramming into the CRPF bus, committing the deadliest attack against Indian forces in the region in over two decades.

The racially motivated shooting which occurred on the 15th of March 2019 in Christchurch New Zealand claimed the lives of ’51 people in two mosques.’ The Guardian Online reported that ‘The horrific attack … is regarded as the worst massacre in the country’s history, as well as the country’s largest ever criminal prosecution.’

The Christchurch shootings have also called into question the role that social media platforms, in particular Facebook, played in the providing audience to this attack. As reported by NZ Herald online the ‘footage of the event was live streamed on one of the world’s biggest social media website’s … Facebook.’ Despite already having in place counter-terrorism measures it appears that the livestream of the Christchurch fell through the cracks as ‘Facebook has claimed that it failed to detect the Christchurch mosque gunman’s livestream because its contents was not “particularly gruesome.”’

The bombing took place in a crowded, open market in the dominant Shi’a Quetta city in the Baluchistan province in Pakistan. 21 people were killed in the blast and over 48 injured, including two Pakistani paramilitary soldiers. Both Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack, both terrorist groups allied in their fight against “kafir”, or unbelievers of “true Islam”. Of the 21 killed, nine were Shi’a Muslims.

Detonating a suicide vest at the Dubai City wedding hall in Afghanistan’s capital city, the Islamic State’s Khorasan Chapter killed 93 people and injured over 180 in targeting the Shi’a wedding. Occurring a day before Afghanistan’s 100th Independence Day, celebrations were postponed as the bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack to occur in the country in 2019.

Militants part of Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) in Mali raided military camps in Boulikessi and Mondoro city in Mopti, Mali. The raids led to the deaths of 15 assailants and 38 soldiers and civilians, 7 injuries, and at least 60 Malian troops abducted in total from both camps. 36 hostages were rescued in a mission a month later on the 18th, with the rest of the abductees’ locations or health are unknown.

Following the recent death of notorious terrorist militant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi ‘the Islamic State [has acted swiftly by] naming Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi as his replacement.’ As reported by BBC Online news of this recent appointment was broadcast via ‘an IS outlet [which] announced on the messaging service Telegram that Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurashi was the group’s new leader and “caliph.”’ As has noted by multiple news sources there remains a great deal of ambiguity surrounding al-Qurayshi’s background and persona.

In a bid to justify the appointment of al-Qurayshi BBC online has highlighted that ‘IS has claimed that Hashemi was a veteran jihadist fighter who had fought against the US in the past.’

On December 2019, two assailants in a senseless act of gun violence claimed the lives of 4 four Americans- three of those that were tragically murdered were of the Jewish Faith. As reported by CNN Online the attack ‘Killed… Jersey City police Detective Joseph Seals and three people in the market.’ In what appears to have been a pre-planned and calculated attack the two assailants first ‘killed a police detective near a Jersey City cemetery and then stormed a nearby Jewish market, shooting and killing three people there… .’

As reported by CNN online ‘both shooters expressed an interest in the Black Hebrew Israelites movement, [though] neither appeared to have established formal links to the movement.’

A suicide bomber detonated a truck full of explosives at a busy police checkpoint in Somalia’s capital city Mogadishu. Representatives of the terrorist group stated that they were targeting Turkish mercenaries and, for the first time, apologized to the victims of the massive explosion. They released the statement: “We are very sorry about the casualty that was inflicted on our Somali Muslim society, and we are extending our condolences to the Muslims who have lost their lives and or (were) wounded and or had their property destroyed.”

While attempting to justify their actions in the ongoing conflict in Somalia, this was done to ensure the support al-Shabaab share with some Muslim’s in the country.

In accordance with President Donald Trump’s orders a high profile and well revered Iranian General was assassinated on the 3rd of January 2020. In further highlighting that details of the attack and the negative follow-on effects of it The Telegraph online reported that ‘Soleimani head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed in the US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport… a move that has provoked a major escalation in the US-Iran tensions.’

Nearly a year after the British Government made the ‘decision to strip Shamima Begum of her citizenship’ Begum’s remains barred from returning to the UK as ‘Begum has lost the first stage appeal.’ As reported by The Guardian Online in ‘An unanimous judgement [delivered] by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission Begum [was found] not to have been improperly deprived of her citizenship.’   The issue of whether Shamima was made stateless due to the British Government’s hard lined decision to strip her of her British Citizenship has served as point of heated debate, and one which the lawyers of Begum have strongly stood by. However, in delivering their judgement the tribunal reasoned ‘that the decisions to strip Begum of her citizenship did not make a her stateless because she was entitled to, or in effect held, Bangladeshi citizenship.’  

Begum’s lawyers will be appealing the decision.

At least 32 were killed and over 80 injured during an attack at a gathering in Afghanistan’s capital city, with some present including several key politicians including top Afghan political leader Abdullah Abdullah, all escaping unharmed. The gathering marked the 25th anniversary of the death of ethnic Hazara and popular Shi’a political leader Abdul Ali Mazari, who was killed after being held as a prisoner by the Taliban in 1995. Most of the victims were ethnic Hazara, with a former Afghan vice president stating how the attacks were aimed at the political and social cleansing of an ethnic minority. Afghan police and military continued to fight the gunmen throughout the day and managed to kill three of the attackers. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack through their news channel Amaq and have been responsible for similar attacks in previous years for the same commemoration.

Hazara’s are the third-largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and have significant numbers in Pakistan, with their predominant religious practice being Shi’a Islam. Because of this, Hazara’s are heavily oppressed in Afghanistan and Pakistan and are popular targets for Wahhabist terror groups such as the Taliban and Islamic State.

Led by INTERPOL, Operation Maharlika III included the cooperation between police from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines to be deployed along transit routes in Southeast Asia favored by terrorists. Among those arrested mainly included organized crime groups and one suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf. More than 134 victims of human trafficking were rescued, along with various illegal explosives and firearms, drugs, and cash. The routes were set around the Celebes and Sulu seas.

Suicide bombers and other ISIL militants attacked a Sikh shrine in Kabul and killed 25 worshippers. The main perpetrator, ISIL-Khorasan leader Abdullah Orakzai stated the attack was in response to the Indian governments actions in the Kashmir conflict. He was later captured by the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, on April 4th.

Islamic State soldiers attack a maternity ward in a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing 24 and injuring 16. The same day in the neighboring Kuz Kunar District, a suicide bombing kills 32 and injures over 130 people at a funeral for a police chief. The IS claimed responsibility for the Kuz Kunar attack and is thought to be responsible for the mass shooting in Kabul, but the Afghan government blamed the Taliban for the attack in the capital. These events are a continuation of the War in Afghanistan.

The raid, carried out in Mali’s northern Kidal Region, killed ‘Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb’ (AQIM) leader Abdelmalek Droukdel, three other terrorists, and captured one. AQIM holds significant power in Northern and Western Africa, and the New York Times states how “the death of Droukdal removes one of the most senior and most durable leaders off AQIM, a longstanding Al Qaeda affiliate”. Droukdel was a university graduate who led the group for more than a decade. His death comes after AQIM claimed responsibility for three separate attacks in popular North African sites for expatriates, as well as hostages being kidnapped throughout the region in 2020.

The ‘Islamic State in West Africa Province’ (ISWAP) were responsible for massacres in Monguno and Nganzai, part of the Borno State in northeastern Nigeria. In both cities, Boko Haram insurgents killed over 60 people and injured more than 100. In Monguno, attackers used rocket launchers, set fire to buildings including the United Nations headquarters, and according to the Guardian, “distributed letters to residents warning them not to work with the military, white Christian westerners or other ‘non-believers’”. In Nganzai, insurgents in trucks and motorcycles drove through the city to conduct indiscriminate mass shootings.

Five people were killed and at least seven injured after four gunmen stormed and fired indiscriminately at a crowd in the Pakistani Stock Exchange (PSX) building in the country’s financial hub of Karachi. All gunmen were killed in the attack and were named as being part of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) after the terror group claimed responsibility. The BLA has previously conducted a low-level insurgency throughout Pakistan since its formation in the 2000’s. Designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom, the BLA has links to Indian militant groups as well as headquarters in Afghanistan.

A series of violent civil unrests throughout Ethiopia and predominately in its capital city Addis Ababa was sparked by the killing of popular singer Hachalu Hundessa. He was known for the political aspect of his music that made him a “political symbol of the Oromo people”, especially during the 2015 and 2016 Ethiopian protests that saw government officials attempting to displace thousands of ethnic Oromo people. Hachalu’s death in Addis Ababa saw thousands of fans gathering outside the Tirunesh Beijing General Hospital, where police used tear gas to disperse the crowd and gun shots among other violent measures were reported seen and heard. Violence struck throughout Ethiopia, with widespread bombings and shootings. The government’s response to the unrest was to cut internet throughout most of Ethiopia and arresting over 9,000 people including politicians, activists, and journalists.

The Ethiopian government stated that the people arrested were charged with violating anti-terrorism laws, terrorist activity, telecom fraud, illegally having firearms, among other charges. Widespread local and international protests condemn the government’s harsh actions during the protests and for justice for those imprisoned as well as for Hachalu. This is a continuation of the Ethiopian government’s violent suppressing of the majority Oromo people in the country, and there are over 2.5 million displaced Oromo’s around the world.

Philippine’s President Duterte’s bill replaced the Human Security Act of 2007 and has been challenged by various international and national organizations such as Amnesty International, the US Supreme Court, and the United Nations. Local organizations such as the Bangsamoro Parliament (representing the Muslim population in Mindanao), the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, and other groups have also denounced the bill.

Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director Nicholas Bequelin explains how the “law [is] so vague on the definition of terrorism [it] can only worsen attacks against human rights defenders. The approval of this law grants the government excessive and unchecked powers”. Opposition to the bill also emphasizes how it grants unrestrained powers to the police and military by allowing warrantless arrests, the removal of safeguards against wrongful detentions, and permits offenders to be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The bill undermines the democratic power of Filipino’s and is a continuation of Duterte’s fight against drugs and terrorism in the Philippines, which has killed over 28,000 civilians since coming to power in 2016.

Two camps in Northeast Syria, Al-Hol and Roj, reported the deaths of at least 700 people connected to Islamic State fighters. Over 70,000 people reside in these camps and are mainly women and children. Overseen by US allied Kurdish forces, the deaths were a result of a “lack of medicine [and a] lack of food” among other issues. A team of volunteers from the UN visited the camps earlier in the month and stated that there were no COVID-19 outbreaks.

At an internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp in Nguetchewe village, Boko Haram militants conducted a grenade attack that killed 18 and injured 7. Nguetchewe is part of Cameroon’s Far North region, which borders Chad to the east and Nigeria to the west, both of which are heavily targeted by Boko Haram attacks. The UN Refugee Agency states how Boko Haram has affected over 26 million people in the Lake Chad area and displaced around 2.6 million. Lake Chad resides on the northern border of the Far North region, a crucial source of water for Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Nigeria.

ISIL claimed responsibility for attacking and seizing a prison in northern Afghanistan, killing at least 29 people. 70 miles from Kabul, the prison attack does not have a clear motivation, but the Guardian reported that hundreds of the inmates at the Jalalabad prison were ISIL members.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack in the Koure area southwest of Niger’s capital, Niamey. The attack took the lives of 6 French aid workers and their Nigerien driver who were working for the non-governmental organization ACTED and IMPACT Initiatives, both of which support humanitarian efforts in the region. Other than the Islamic State, Boko Haram and Al Qaeda are known to carry out attacks throughout the country and neighboring states of Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Nigeria, and Libya. To help combat the growing insurgency in the region, France had deployed 5,100 soldiers to work with local forces.

On the busy streets of the Jolo municipality in Sulu, Philippines, the first bomb explodes and kills at least nine people and injuring many more. Around an hour later, a second bomb is detonated at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and kills five, injuring at least 75 people. No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the Sulu region is known to be a stronghold of the armed Abu Sayyaf organization. The site of the 2020 bombings is close to the two explosions that occurred in 2019, carried out by Abu Sayyaf. AlJazeera explains how Abu Sayyaf has been fighting for independence in the Mindanao region of Philippines, a collection of mainly Muslim populated islands in the dominantly Catholic country. Abu Sayyaf in Philippines is allied to ISIL and has ties to the ‘Jeemah Islamiyah’ (JI).

After gaining information about an attack to occur in Istanbul, Turkey, authorities detain a group of Islamic State soldiers in the southern region in the country. Among the militants was Mahmut Ozden, a top IS member who continually received orders from IS leaders in Iraq and Syria. Leading a group of 10-12 people, the arrest comes a month after the US military stated Turkey to be a “major facilitation hub” for ISIL members, funding, and weaponry.

Under the terms of the Afghanistan-US-Taliban peace deal initiated in February of 2020, 5,000 militants held in prisons in Kabul are to be released and the Taliban would release 1,000 captured Afghan soldiers. As both sides followed through with negotiations, the last of the 400 Taliban fighters were held back by Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani. Describing the captured militants as “a danger to the world”, Ghani’s comments on the controversial release are shared by many international politicians.

A bombing in southern Somalia kills 3 people and wounds 3, those affecting being Somali soldiers with one American military officer injured in the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the bombing occurred just days after Somali and US forces successfully reclaimed the area in the Lower Juba region from Al Shabab. The group is a branch of Al Qaeda in Somalia and a New York Times article states the site of the bombing “had been used by the group as a hub to raise funds by taxing and extorting civilians moving across the region”.

Senior vice president, Amrullah Saleh, is a fierce opponent of the Taliban and survived the second deadly attack targeting him in a year. The bombing in Afghanistan’s capital killed at least 10 people and injured 15 and no group has claimed responsibility. The Taliban deny blame over the attack, but Afghan officials state how the group continued to carry out violence in the country without claiming responsibility. This is significant as it follows consistent attacks and threats from Islamic State offshoots as well as organized crime gangs in Afghanistan.

Saleh had survived a bombing in July last year that killed around 30 people, including a number of his closest aides and family members. That bombing was carried out by a group of Taliban suicide bombers hours after Saleh declared his candidacy as the Afghan vice president.

President Trump signs a decree that would cut the number of US troops in Iraq by half, to just 3,000. This allows the US to maintain influence in counterterrorism actions in the country and is a continuation of Trump’s goal to reduce overseas deployments.

In Northern Mozambique, ISIL affiliated insurgents kill over 1,500 people and displace more than 250,000. The group intends to spread from Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province throughout Southern Africa, forming a dangerous platform in the region.

Alexanda Kotey and Shafee ElSheikh were arrested in Virginia and charged with the gruesome torture and deaths of Western hostages in Syria. Part of the Islamic State, the two British men were part of a group that filmed and released footage of the torture and beheadings of aid workers, journalists, and other hostages. Through the form of Islamic State propaganda videos, the violent deaths of the hostages, including 4 Americans, sought the men to be held in US military custody since October 2019.

The group, Jama’at Nasr Al-Islam wal Muslim (JNIM), has connections to Al-Qaeda and had recently released three foreign aid workers and one prominent Malian opposition leader after being held captive for a number of years. After the release, the Swiss Foreign Ministry learned that a citizen had been executed a month before. The foreigners were all Christian missionaries based in Timbuktu, Mali, with one of the French women, 75, being abducted and under the control of the group for six years. Soumaïla Cissé is a three-time Malian presidential candidate who was abducted by JNIM on the 25th of March during his parliamentary election campaign. The circumstances around the release of the hostages are unclear and were said to have been exchanged for 200 imprisoned jihadists in Mali.

The spokesmen, Zabihullah Mujahid among others, expressed their support for Trump’s reelection in the upcoming presidential election, stating how “we hope he will win the election and wind up US military presence in Afghanistan” The Trump Administration has since rejected the support. This follows the Administrations’ signing of a historic pact with the Taliban in February in which the US and its allies’ troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by spring 2021. Moreover, the deal required the Taliban to cut off ties to Al Qaeda and negotiate power-sharing deals with the Afghan government. The Obama administration was unsuccessful in its attempts at diplomatic deals with the Taliban.

Heavy renewed clashes from Taliban militants in the Lashkargah, Sayed Abad area in the Helmand province forces the provincial Afghan government to deploy more forces and firepower to areas under attack. Important locations in the Helmand province fell to the Taliban after recent fighting that erupted less than two weeks ago. So far in the conflict at least 200 Taliban members have been killed by government forces.

The latest flareup between the Taliban and Afghan government in the Helmand province in Afghanistan forces 5,600 families to flee their homes. This equates to at least 40,000 people displaced in the area in which the Taliban controls roughly 80% of. The Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs said that the Taliban have carried out at least 575 offensive attacks throughout the flareup in just two weeks. Government forces have been attempting to retake the lost territory throughout the weekend, but control is largely restricted to district centers. This follows the current peace talks between Afghan government representatives and Taliban officials in Qatar, where the Trump administration secured a pact with the Taliban in February with a pledge to reduce all US forces in Afghanistan by spring 2021. CNN states how “US officials have stressed that the Taliban have still not met requirements to reduce violence against the Afghans” and thus will continue two affect future efforts to negotiate for peace with the Taliban. The UK has openly condemned the actions of the Taliban in their renewed aggression.

Dozens were wounded and at least 24 dead after a suicide bombing at an education center in Afghanistan’s capital city. Most of the deceased and injured were students between the ages of 15 to 26. The Taliban have denied responsibility for the attack and officials from the Islamic State have since claimed accountability for the bombing but have not provided clear evidence for. The area of the bombing was the scene of previous attacks done by the Islamic State in previous years, as many of the country’s minority Shi’a population lives in Kabul.

The Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, claimed that an attack that was carried out by the country’s special forces killed Al-Qaeda leader Abu Muhsin Al-Masri. Al-Masri was listed on the Federal Bureau of Intelligence’s most wanted list and is known to be a top propagandist and second-in-command among the terrorist organization. Al-Masri is claimed to have been killed in the Ghazni province in Afghanistan along with another Al-Qaeda member. Al-Qaeda has not yet responded to the reported death.

This comes as peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government weaken due to renewed fighting between the two entities. Many villages in the Ghazni province, including the Kunsaf area where the raid took place, are held under Taliban control. Amanullah Kamrani, the deputy head of Ghazni’s provincial council, alleged without clear evidence that the Taliban were sheltering the Al-Qaeda militants in the village.

At least 17 jihadists were killed by a United States airstrike in Idlib, Syria’s last major rebel bastion. Among those killed are seven alleged al-Qaeda leaders who were not immediately named. The area is dominated by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a former al-Qaeda affiliate and is home to nearly three million people. Bordering Turkey, Idlib is also in the middle of growing conflict between the Turkish military and Syria’s President Bashar Assad and its Russian allies.

 

The Afghan Ministry of Defense stated that an airstrike in the Nad Ali district in Helmand killed the Taliban’s Red Brigade commander, Abdul Rahman. Leading many offensive attacks in the Helmand province, Rahman and the 50-strong Red Unit were important figures in the Nad Ali district. This follows through with the increased renewed fighting between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which sought the Middle Eastern government to deploy additional soldiers as the US military plan more reductions in the area.

Saiful Islam Mir, also known as Saifullah, was killed in a gun battle carried out by Indian security forces in the conflicted region of Kashmir. Saifullah was the chief of the largest militant group in Kashmir, known as the Hizbul Mujahideen, and assumed the role after Indian forces killed the previous chief in May of this year. Indian police official Vijay Kumar explains how Saifullah’s death adds to the list of 190 militants killed by Indian forces in 2020 in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir so far.

Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin has been on the US’ list of global terrorists since 2017 and the group is known for heightening violence in a region already facing massive conflict between India and Pakistan. Both countries claim Kashmir in full and has been engaged in heavy fighting in the region since 1947. New Delhi has long accused Pakistan of supporting and financing armed insurgencies in the region but has been denied by the Islamabad government.

At least 22 killed and 22 wounded after an attack initiated by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) gunmen at Afghanistan’s largest university. Starting at 11AM, students and staff explained how “a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the campus… Two gunmen then started shooting, sending hundreds of students fleeing and scrambling over perimeter walls”. This attack follows a similar incident that killed 24 people at an education center in Kabul two weeks ago, also committed by the ISIL. 

4 dead and at least 23 injured when a heavily armed gunmen opens fire at a crowded area in the Austrian capital of Vienna, who was shot at the scene by Austrian police. Kujtim Fejzullai was a dual North Macedonian-Austrian citizen that was known by the Austrian Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Counterterrorism as being an ISIL sympathizer. “He was one of the 90 Austrian Islamists who wanted to travel to Syria”, attempting to cross the Turkish border in order to join the terrorist organization.

A militant group with links to the Islamic State has executed more than 50 people in a village in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province. State media reports that several other people in neighboring villages have been beheaded by the terrorist group. The attacks have been ongoing in the Muslim-majority province since 2017, leaving over 2,000 people killed and around 430,000 displaced.

Bah ag Moussa, al-Qaeda in North Africa’s senior operative, was killed during an operation by French special forces in northeastern Mali. Also known as Bamoussa Diarra, he was the right-hand man to Iyad ag Ghali, the leader of Mali’s largest militant jihadi group the Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM). Prominent for violent and deadly attacks throughout Mali and neighboring Burkina Faso, Moussa was listed on the United Nations and United States’ list of designated terrorists.

A veteran CIA officer was killed in Somalia, according to US officials. The officer was a member of the CIA’s paramilitary division called the Special Activities Center, undertaking covert operations in the country. The identity of the officer and circumstances surrounding their death is still classified and raises more questions about the US’ counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa.

The first attack took place in Afghanistan’s eastern Ghazni province at a military base that killed 31 soldiers and wounded at least 24. Not claimed by any terrorist organization, the soldiers stationed at the base trained and conducted operations against the Taliban and ISIL throughout Afghanistan. The second attack occurred in southern Afghanistan in the Zabul province, killing at least three and injuring 21.

The breakthrough agreement by the Afghan government and Taliban representatives allows the peace talks to continue in Qatar’s capital city of Doha, moving onto substantive issues such as ceasefires. This deal was made as violence and attacks continue throughout Afghanistan and predominantly in its capital Kabul, incited by both the Taliban and ISIL forces against government leaders and army. 2020 has seen a sharp and deadly increase in terrorist attacks by both terrorist groups, including a bombing at Kabul University that killed 22 people that were mostly students. The Taliban have already previously refused requests of a ceasefire by state observers in the peace talks this year.

The Pentagon announced that a majority of US troops stationed in Somalia, along with military assets and resources, will be withdrawn in early 2021. The Department of Defense stated that it plans on continuing its operations in Somalia and not all soldiers would be pulled out. There are around 700 American soldiers in the east African country training and assisting the local forces in the ongoing fight against terrorism in the region. As part of Operation Enduring Freedom in the Horn of Africa, US troops were sent due to the violence incited by al-Shabaab, an Islamic militia affiliated with al-Qaeda and Boko Haram. The announcement to pull out the soldiers is part of President Trump’s plan to decrease the number of troops deployed, which has already begun in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Terrorism activity has been on a steady rise in Somalia since 2013, being the fifth country most impacted by terrorism in 2019 according to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index.

The head of the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) Counterterrorism Division was found shot in his office and died on route to the Manila Doctors Hospital. Raoul Manguerra had been known for arresting many Abu Sayyaf Group militants throughout the Philippines. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting and the NBI has already begun investigations into Manguerra’s death.

The deadly attacks claimed by Boko Haram killed 28 people, injured over 100, and included at least 800 homes burned down and thousands of cattle killed by the group. Niger’s Toumour village is less than 12 miles from the border with Nigeria where the deadly organization conducts a majority of its attacks. Boko Haram’s recent re-intensifying insurgency in northern Nigeria has allowed for attacks to spillover to the neighboring states of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Toumour shelters over 30,000 refugees and internally displaced persons.

Sudan was first added to the United States’ list of states that sponsor terrorism in 1993 after US officials found considerable proof of the African nation’s role in keeping Osama bin Laden safe in Khartoum after Iraq lost the Gulf War in 1991. Bin Laden lived in Sudan with his family from 1991 to 1996, donating massive sums of money towards the country’s radical Islamist movement that saw dictator Omar al-Bashir into power. Sudan and bin Laden have also been connected to bombings of US embassies in 1998 in Tanzania and Kenya, as well as the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. A coup d’état in 2019 forced al-Bashir out of politics and allowed for discussions around Sudan’s terrorism designation removal.

Kabul’s deputy governor Mahboobullah Mohebi and his secretary were killed by a bomb attached to their car in the Afghan capital along with two of his security guards heavily injured due to the blast. A similar sticky bomb was detonated in the Ghor province, killing a deputy provincial council member. No terror group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which recently have been carried out through the sticky bomb method, attached to cars through magnets.

These attacks have been carried out throughout the peace negotiations between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban in Qatar’s capital city Doha, which is now paused until January 2021.

Five Taliban militants and their commander were arrested in a raid carried out by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) in the Argo district of Badakhshan province. The militants have been involved in several deadly attacks throughout Afghanistan’s northern provinces, and their arrests come after the captures of many other Taliban attackers in recent weeks.

The night of Friday the 11th, armed men seized the all-boys Government Science Secondary School in the Kankara village in Nigeria, targeted due to Boko Haram’s belief of Western education being “un-Islamic”

Around 344 boys were kidnapped before prompt response by the Nigerian government led to their relatively quick release. This particular kidnapping expresses the spread of Boko Haram’s power and influence in the country, conducting dangerous attacks hundreds of miles away from their stronghold in northeastern Nigeria around Lake Chad.

Boko Haram committed a similar deadly operation in 2014, kidnapping 270 schoolgirls from a government boarding school in northeastern Borno State. To date, 100 girls are still missing from that event. In 2014, the Nigerian government failed to acknowledge the girls’ kidnapping and took weeks before conducting rescue missions.

A joint UN Office on Drugs and Crime and INTERPOL operation has led to the arrest of several suspected terrorists and the seizure of multiple illicit firearms, ammunition, and explosives throughout western Africa. Operation KAFO II targeted hotspots in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Niger over a seven-day period from the 30th of November to December 6th. Focused along airports, seaports, and land borders, the operation included over 260 officers from the four primary countries that have been a central role in terrorism from al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and several other religious and extremist groups. 

The radical religious group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) was outlawed and ordered to end all their activities by the Indonesian government, stating that its members were engaging in various terrorist and criminal acts throughout the country. The group’s government registration had lapsed in 2019, making it an unofficial organization in Indonesia, but FPI spokesman Novel Bamukmin stated in response to the dissolution: “they can disband the FPI, but they cannot disband our struggle in defending the country and religion. If we want to, we can declare a new Islamic mass organization this afternoon. If it’s disbanded, we can make a new one continuously. Registered or not, we continue to exist.”

FPI was established in the late 1990’s following an end to Indonesia’s military rule and evolved into a political and social movement that promoted Islamic law and the beliefs of its co-founder and most prominent leader, Rizieq Shihab. Shihab had returned from a self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia and pledged to lead a “moral revolution” in Indonesia in October before being arrested earlier this month. Claiming to be a descendent of the Prophet Mohammed, Shihab had long pledged to unite the Muslim-majority country under Sharia law. Hizbul Tahrir was another radical Islamic group disbanded by the Indonesian government in 2017 for “promoting a state based on Sharia law rather than secular principles”.

Conflicting accounts were released by the Syrian official news agency Sana and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) about a bombing and subsequent shoot out took place in Deir ez-Zor, an area close to the Syrian-Iraqi border. Sana reports that 25 civilians were killed and 14 wounded, whereas SOHR states that at least 37 killed and included soldiers’ part of Bashar al-Assad’s elite Fourth Brigade. SOHR claims that the bus was ambushed in a well-planned operation near the village of Shula by jihadists who set up a checkpoint to stop the convoy and detonated bombs before opening fire. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but many analysts and locals state that it was carried out by the Islamic State. If responsible, this attack would be the deadliest conducted by the group since the fall of the IS self-proclaimed caliphate in 2019. Jihadist sleeper cells continue to conduct attacks in Deir ez-Zor as well as throughout the Syrian desert.

The Pakistani counterterrorism police announced on Saturday that they have arrested Zaikur Rehman Lakhvi, alleged leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) extremist group, on terrorism financing charges. Lakhvi was said to have been running a store in the eastern city of Lahore as a front to gain more money and resources for LeT. A United Nations Security Council committee attested that Lakhvi participated and led several militant activities and attacks throughout Chechnya, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The terrorist group is responsible for the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks in India that killed 166 people.

The alleged leader was a prominent figure in Hafiz Saeed’s charity Jamaat-ud-Dawa, another believed front for the LeT. The United States Justice Department has designated Saeed a terrorist and has a $10 million bounty placed on the imprisoned charity leader. The Pakistani government has seized Saeed’s extensive network of mosques, schools, seminaries, and charities and other assets in the country, recently sentencing Saeed in several cases and currently serving multiple jail terms.

The fierce operation took place in known Taliban hideouts in Afghanistan’s Lashkargah, Garamsir, and Nawa districts by ground and air raids. Among the 50 terrorists killed, Taliban commander Mualvi Abdul Salam was specifically named dead by the country’s Defense Ministry. Eight other people were injured from the fighting between Afghan forces and Taliban militants.

The kidnapping and killing of 11 coal miners in Pakistan’s eastern province of Baluchistan was claimed by the Islamic State and immediately condemned by the country’s prime minister Imran Khan, who described the event to be a “cowardly inhumane act of terrorism”. All of the miners were part of the minority Shi’a Hazara community, a group frequently targeted by the IS, Taliban, and other radical Sunni Islamist groups.

Attacks occurred in two Niger villages near its borders with Mali and Burkina Faso, with the prime minister Brigi Rafini announcing the death toll to be 100 while not stating who was responsible. Taking place in Tchombangou and Zaroumdareye, the raids were carried out by suspected Islamist militants due to the high number of attacks in the areas close to Mali and Burkina Faso being attributed to forces linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. 

These attacks are part of a wider security crisis currently happening in West Africa’s Sahel region.

Cuba was first placed on the US State Department’s list of states that sponsor terrorism in 1982 under the Reagan Administration but removed in 2015 by former president Barack Obama in order to normalize relations between the island nation and the United States. The designation allows the US to halt foreign assistance to the country, as well as bans on arms exports and sales and the withdrawal of US support for loans from international financial institutions like the World Bank.

Other than Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria are the only nations currently listed as states that sponsor terrorism by the US.

At least nine security personnel were killed in attacks on two police checkpoints in the Kunduz province in northern Afghanistan. The areas where the attacks took place border Tajikistan and are known hotspots for terrorist activity, allowing for growing suspicion among Afghan government officials that the Taliban participated in these events. The Taliban have not commented or claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Two women were shot and killed by gunmen on motorcycles early Sunday morning in the Taimani area in Kabul, Afghanistan. They have not yet been named by local news reports and no group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. More than 200 women work as judges for Afghanistan’s highest court.

The shooting occurs as assassinations and targeted attacks have recently heightened in Afghanistan following ongoing peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar. The country’s government officials blamed the increased violence on the release of 5,000 Taliban militants from Afghan prisons since September as part of the peace talks. Two days before the shooting on Sunday, the Pentagon announced it had reduced US troop numbers in the country to their lowest level for two decades, to just 2,500. Afghanistan’s vice president, Amrullah Saleh, stated he believed that the US “has conceded too much to the Taliban”.

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