Global – initiated by the U.S.A.
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 include 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 run 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 is 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 are 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 group’s modus operandi, as different strategies utilized by militant groups bring about various counter methods for solutions.
The threat, existence, and aftermath of terrorism are 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 impact countries’ economies through the effects it leaves on tourism, infrastructure, employment, etc. This can be seen in Syria, which 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.
Beginning: 11th September 2001 – ongoing. However, on 23rd May 2013, former US President Barack Obama called for the end of the War on Terror in Afghanistan. He announced 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.
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, African Sahel Crisis.
Consequent Military Missions: Operation Enduring Freedom (major combat 2001-2014, still ongoing in the Horn of Africa), Operation Active Endeavor (2001-2016), Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (2015-ongoing), Operation Pacific Eagle (2018-ongoing).
In 2001, the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, beginning the global War on Terror. Canada, Australia, Germany, and France pledged their support. Afghanistan became the center of focus as the Taliban — a socio-military movement that emerged from the ashes of the Soviet-Afghan War — established links with al-Qaeda, allegedly allowing its presence in the country. In 1999, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1267, creating the al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanction Committee, fixing the status of two groups as terrorist entities and imposing sanctions.
Following the invasion, the US carried out airstrikes on al-Qaeda and the Taliban while the Afghan army engaged the Taliban on the ground. In 2014, Operation Enduring Freedom concluded with the handover of the security responsibilities to the Afghan government. Later that year, then-President Obama announced US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
In 2015, NATO and the US shifted focus from large-scale military operations to more targeted anti-terrorist activities and training of local forces. Thus began Operation Freedom’s Sentinel as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission. Afghanistan was among the top five countries to be most impacted by terrorism since 2005, rising to first place in 2019, where it remains.
In 2017, then-President Trump pressed for an open-ended military commitment and loosened restrictions on combat activities, despite NATO’s reports of rising civilian casualties. 2018 witnessed a significant escalation of the war, with US troops being deployed in the countryside and targeting Afghan opium labs to cut off Taliban’s financing. In February 2019, the US-Taliban peace talks were revived, with the United States planning to withdraw half of its deployment. However, in September of the same year, Trump abruptly called off continued negotiations. Allegedly, this was provoked by the lack of significant progress and the killing of a US soldier in one of the Taliban attacks. 2020 witnessed two major events — the US-Taliban agreement, in which the United States outlined a path for its troop withdrawal, while the Taliban pledged Afghanistan would not be used for terrorist activities, and the beginning of peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Upon his inauguration, President Biden decided to carry on the withdrawal but postponed the deadline to September 11th, 2021. However, as the US military gradually left the country, the Taliban quickly overtook the provinces and, on August 15th, overrun the capital city of Kabul. The last days of August were marked by the Kabul airlift — the frantic attempt of the United States, NATO, and other countries to evacuate their citizens and eligible Afghans from the country, as the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban established its rule. Nevertheless, thousands of Afghans who cooperated with the allies and, thus, were increasingly threatened by the Taliban, did not manage to leave the country. On August 30th, the last US plane took off the Kabul airbase, marking the end of the 20-year war.
Terrorism and Counterterrorism Strategies, Goals, and Rationales
- Regime change
- Territorial change
- Policy change
- Social control
- Status quo maintenance
- If terrorists’ goal is coercion, they choose human targets to generate casualties and create public panic.
- If terrorists’ goal is to damage a country’s economic foundations that underpin its political, military, or commercial power, they select physical targets such as strategic infrastructure, the destruction of which could lead to economic dislocation and chaos.
- Terrorists select symbolic targets and launch large-scale attacks in order to rally and inspire other people outside their group to join their operations or jihad.
- Terrorists who are affiliates of major terrorist groups carry out small-scale attacks to serve as franchise operations to show their support and loyalty.
- Governments whose behavior they hope to influence
- Individuals on terrorists’ side whose support and obedience they seek to gain
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
Variables (sources of vulnerability):
- State’s level of interest in the issue under dispute: states with only peripheral interests are likely to capitulate without resisting terrorists
- Constraints on the state’s ability to retaliate
- State’s sensitivity to costs of violence (it often depends on regime type and previous response to terrorist attacks)
- Conceding inessential issues in exchange for peace
- Engaging in targeted retaliation
- Hardening likely targets to minimize cost of attacks
- Denying terrorists access to most destructive weapons
- Striving to minimize psychological costs of terrorism and people’s tendency to overreact
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
Variables (sources of vulnerability):
- State weakness: if a state is weak, people will seek protection from non-state actors such as local militia or gangs
- Rough terrain: it is large and difficult to traverse
- 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
Variables (sources of vulnerability):
- Level of brutality: regimes with middle level of brutality are easier targets — they are not to soft to the point where they are hard to provoke and not to harsh where they could completely erase terrorists’ constituency
- Hawkish governments: they are easier to provoke
- 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
Variables (sources of vulnerability):
- Peace negotiations: terrorism can effectively undermine trustworthiness of one negotiating party; challenge its resolve in the eyes of other parties and cause doubt about whether it is unable or unwilling to stop the attacks; and provoke to react too harshly and discredit itself
- 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.
Variables (why terrorist groups are likely to be rewarded by being more militant):
- Good to be represented by stronger actor in bargaining
- If conflict is inevitable, better to be represented by zealots
- 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 of the War on Terror
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 naval forces in the Eastern Mediterranean later expanded to the entire Mediterranean region.’
Operation ceased in 2016.
USA Patriots Act introduced, which was aimed at ‘improving homeland security by security’ through the tightening of security and surveillance protocol. Of the wide array of changes enacted by the legislation, the following are noted;
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, Ptmargian and Jacana launched in April of 2002. The aim of operations, although separate, was to specifically target 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.’
As a measure of protection and in response to the 9/11 attacks, Operation Eagle Assist was launched. The operation was strongly supported by US allies, as ‘in addition to participation in the war in Afghanistan, NATO’s response to the 9/11 attacks under Article 5, included Operation Eagle Assist, in which NATO aircraft helped patrol the skies over the United States for seven months between 2001 and 2002.’
The Operation ceased on May 16th 2002.
Several members of the Abu Sayyaf (ASG) terrorist group seized control of the affluent Dos Palmas Resort on its own private island off the coast of Honda Bay, Palawan in the Philippines. They began by arriving on two boats in the morning before abducting several people in the resort that included three Americans identified as Martin and Gracia Burnham and Guillermo Sobero. Most hostages were Chinese tourists and were all returned to the ASG’s headquarters in Mindanao island. 20 hostages were initially seized before ASG jihadists led numerous raids on surrounding islands and at one point, held 100 people as hostages. Throughout the hostage-taking, ASG members tortured and killed several locals and hostages including Sobero on the 12th of June in 2001 and Martin Burnham on the 7th of June in 2002 after trying to flee with his wife who survived. 1,000 US troops were deployed to the Philippines by President George W. Bush to support Filipino soldiers in searching for the hostages and assailants.
For the release of the Burnhams, ASG demanded US$1 million and was paid a ransom of $330,000 but did not free any of the hostages. Two years after her release, Gracia Burnham testified in court against six suspects named Alhamzer Limbong, Abdul Azan Diamla, Abu Khari Moctar, Bas Ishmael, Alzen Jandul, and Dazid Baize who were all sentenced for life imprisonment. Several other ASG affiliates and kidnappers were apprehended and imprisoned in the years following the hostage-taking.
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. It was a separatist’s strategy that occured in the wake of the Second Chechen War, during the peak of the insurgency. Barayev and the movement demanded the withdrawal of Russian forces from 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 according to BBC, some 130 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.
Operation Vikings Hammer between the ‘American Green Berets and CIA commandos and [around] 7,000 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters against the forces of the militant Ansar al-Islam group.’ The predominately fierce aerial combat reportedly resulted in the deaths of ‘250 enemy combatants.’
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 affluent and economically blooming sector of Indonesia. The attack on the Marriott brought into serious scrutiny of the security procedures set in place.
The Leader of the Eastern Turkistan 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.
Philippino terrorist group Abu Sayyaf (ASG) carryout the SuperFerry attack. The attacks included 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.
British metropolitan police and the Security Service cooperated on a raid that took place on the morning of the 30th in March targeting terrorist cells throughout the Thames Valley, Sussex, Surrey, and Bedfordshire areas. Operation Crevice included months of surveillance before the raid was launched, as the five suspects have been investigated by the UK Security Service since buying 600kg of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in November 2003. This fertilizer has been utilized as a key ingredient for bombs by several terror and paramilitary groups, including the Irish Revolutionary Army (IRA) in the UK. The five suspects discussed various attacks to commit, including poisoning the beer at football games, pubs, and trains, before agreeing to bomb the Bluewater shopping center in Kent, a popular nightclub in south London, and the National Grid. Omar Khyam, leader of the British terror cell, “had already received some training with Kashmiri fighters. And in July 2003 he helped to organize a special training camp where some of the group learnt weapons and explosives skills”.
All five of the Muslim British-born men had started planning a major attack early 2003, traveling in between 2003 and 2004 to Pakistan to support jihadi groups and their armed campaigns fighting in the Kashmir conflict against India. British police conducted the largest mass raid at the time to bring down the men, with over 700 officers participating. The five men charged with conspiracy for terrorism and murder are Omar Khyam, Anthony Garcia, Jawad Akbar, Waheed Mahmood, and Salahuddin Amin. They were convicted on the 30th of April in 2007 with life imprisonment.
The Al Qaeda orchestrated Khobar massacre in Saudi Arabia resulted in the death of 22 innocents. 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.’
Commonly known as ‘the drone air war,’ the CIA utilized unmanned drones to target, bomb and eliminate Taliban and Al Qaeda forces in Pakistan. Foreign Policy online further reports that ‘The Obama administration dramatically expanded the air war, and intelligence officers believe the strikes succeeded in inflicting damage on Al Qaeda’s core leadership.’
The three day long siege was conducted by ‘armed Chechen rebels [who] took approximately 1,200 children and adults hostage at a school in Beslan Russia.’ The Guardian Online reports that ‘more than 330 people were killed, of which 184 were children.’
Australian embassy bombings in Jakarta kills 9 and injure 160.
The Guardian Online reported that on this day ‘Abu Musab al-Zarqawi pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, establishing the group in Iraq.’
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 attack ‘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 the presence of Al Qaeda 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.
Operation Overt was carried out by British metropolitan police and the United Kingdom Security Service after weeks of intensive surveillance uncovered a plot to detonate liquid explosives on board international flights from the UK to the United States and Canada. Disguised as soft drinks, the Operation was significant for highlighting the weaponry advancements utilized by terror groups at the time and for being the largest surveillance operation carried out by the UK in its history.
On the night of the 9th, 24 suspects were arrested in London, Birmingham, and Wycombe in connection to the plot. After three trials that finally concluded in 2010, seven of the original 24 suspects were arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder and terrorism. Their names are: Abdullah Ahmed Ali, the ringleader; Assad Sarwar; Tanvir Hussain; Umar Islam; Arafat Waheed Khan; Waheed Zaman; and Ibrahim Savant.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq officially declared that Iraq as of October 2006 is the Islamic State of Iraq.
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was formally sentenced to death by ‘an Iraqi Specialist tribunal’ for the brutal ‘deaths of more than 148 Shia Muslim men and boys in reprisal for a 1982 assassination attempt on the Iraqi leader in the town of Dujali.’
In the early hours of November 30th 2006, Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging.
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 no 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.”’
On February the 13th 2007 Algeria experienced ‘a wave of bombings [which] targeted mostly police.’ Islamic extremist militants have been suggested to be responsible for the attacks, as CBS news reported that ‘[the attack] bore hallmarks of the Salafist Group of Call and Combat, an al Qaeda-linked Islamic insurgency group.’
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.
Reporting for Washington Post Online Dana Priest and William Arkin explained that the a specialist ‘intelligence body [within] US Joint Special Operations Command shut down every Jihadist website they knew.’
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.’
The first attack took place on the 18th at a busy police station in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit where hundreds of people were lined up for jobs. The suicide bomber killed 63 people and injured around 150 in former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein’s burial town. Tikrit police stated after the deadly attack that their “security procedures weren’t good. They did not meet the demands of such a gathering” and could have been more protected and safer.
On the 19th, two bombings occurred in the Baqubah and Ghalbiyah cities residing in the same region northeast of the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad. In Baqubah, a militant opened fire at guards at a police building before driving an ambulance filled with explosives into the building, killing at least 15 people and injured over 50. The second attack of the day was targeting a crowd of Shi’a worshippers marching from Baghdad to the Shi’ite holy city of Karbala. A Diyala Governorate politician was injured in the attack at Ghalbiyah but recovered along with three of his bodyguards.
In the last day of the consecutive attacks, over 56 people died after two car bombs exploded near Karbala. A couple hours later, three more people were killed in a separate suicide bombing in the Baqubah city.
All the attacks took place during the holy Shi’ite festival Arba’een or the “40th day” that involves widespread the migration of millions of Shi’a Muslims every year. While no group has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks, the Islamic State of Iraq released statements through their website taking responsibility for the Tikrit bombing. They stated that they “wanted to kill stupid apostate policemen who were trying to turn the Sunni places into Shi’ite”.
A day before the explosion, around 30 armed al-Qaeda terrorists raided the Ja’ār ammunition plant and stole numerous cases of munitions before conducting similar raids in other nearby factories. While the explosion was caused through accidental circumstances unrelated to al-Qaeda, many local news reported that the ransacking by the terror group the day before allowed gunpowder exposed throughout the factory, making fires and explosions an easier occurrence. The final death toll is expected to rise above 150.
Osama bin Laden was successfully located and killed by US Navy Seals in Abbottabad Pakistan.
At least “42 apparently coordinated attacks” took place on the 15th of August alone throughout Iraq during the religious Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Perpetrators utilized several various types of attack including suicide bombers, car bombs, and widespread shootings to kill and injure civilians from the cities of Tikrit, Kirkuk, Karbala, Baquba, Baghdad, Ramadi, and many more. “The widespread and lethal nature of the attacks – compared with an average of 14 a day this year – frightened many Iraqs, because it suggested that radical Sunni insurgents, led by al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, may have regained the capacity for the kind of violence that plagued Iraq at the height of the sectarian war in 2006 and 2007”. The people and communities targeted through these attacks were focused around Christians, Shi’a Muslims, US troops, Iraqi security forces, and other ethnic minorities such as the Kurds.
The worst attack took place at a crowded market in the Kut city, where two bombs exploded and killed at least 34 and injured over 60. Militants detonated the second bomb “as rescuers and onlookers gathered at the scene”, a common deadly tactic used by terrorists to wait until more crowds are gathered in order to kill and injure more people.
During midday prayers in the holy month of Ramadan, between 300 to 500 people gathered at the Sunni mosque in the Pakistani town of Ghundai within the Khyber Agency, a collection of tribal areas that fight against various terror groups including the Taliban. “Khyber is also a crucial region for the United States and NATO because a large portion of nonlethal supplies heading to American forces in Afghanistan passes through it”. These supply convoys are frequently targeted by militants along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Khyber is strategically adjacent to the provincial capital city Peshawar of the Khyber-Pakthunkhwa province.
Locals state that the suicide bomber was a teenaged boy but it is not known if he was part of a terror group as no organization had claimed responsibility for the deadly attack that killed at least 50 and injured over 100. The Tehrik-e-Taliban group based in Pakistan recently released statements condemning attacks taking place on mosques as “non-Muslim”.
After nearly nine years, United States President Barack Obama announced the official end to the Iraq war that began through the US’ invasion of the Arabian country to overthrow former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. After the collapse of the Ba’athist government, US forces captured Hussein in December 2003 before he underwent a trial in Iraq and subsequently executed by hanging for war crimes in 2006. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta stated how veterans of the war could be “secure in knowing that your sacrifice has helped the Iraqi people to cast tyranny aside.”
4,500 Americans died in the war and 3,200 wounded, as well as over 110,000 Iraqi civilian fatalities.
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.’
At least 14 bombings ripped through the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad and killed over 70 people less than a week after US officials declared the Iraq war to be over. The coordinated attacks took place in 11 neighbourhoods in Baghdad through a range of methods including car bombs, roadside or sticky bombs, and suicide bombings. The worst bombing took place in the Karrada neighbourhood where a suicide bomber “blew himself up outside the office of a government agency fighting corruption”. At least 25 people were killed and 62 injured in that attack alone.
While no group claimed responsibility for the attacks, it was similar to previous attacks conducted by al-Qaeda and occurred in mostly Shi’a neighbourhoods, with some Sunni areas also struck.
January of 2012 marked the beginning of the Northern Mali conflict, which was born in the 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 is 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 110 people were killed throughout Iraq after al-Qaeda launched a series of attacks targeting mostly Shi’a Muslim communities but also local security forces. “As well as the scores of deaths, at least 268 people were wounded by bombings and shootings in Shi’ite areas of Baghdad, the Shi’ite town of Taji to the north, the northern cities of Kirkuk and Mosul and many other places”. While large scale fighting ended in December with the end of the Iraqi war, political tensions among Shi’a, Sunni, and Kurdish communities has increased.
“The bloodshed, which coincided with an intensifying of the conflict in neighbouring Syria, pointed up the deficiencies of the Iraqi security forces, which failed to prevent insurgents from striking in multiple locations across the country.”
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
The Reyhanli bombings in Turkey killed 53 civilians and injured in excess of 100 others. The attacks were executed by the use of ‘two bomb-laden vehicles which were detonated in the town centre.’
Known as ‘the Reyhanli bombing mastermind’ the assailant named Yusuf Nazik was sentenced to life imprisonment by Turkish Court. TRT world online reported that ‘Yusuf Nazik, a key plotter of the 2013 car bomb attacks in Turkey Hatay province, has been sentenced to 53 aggravated life terms by a local court- one sentence for each of the victims who died in the bomb blasts.’
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan issued a state of emergency in the country’s Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states due to increasing threat and deadly attacks from Boko Haram and an offshoot of the terror group, Ansaru. 2013 marked the deadliest year in Nigeria with a significant amount due to increasing violence from Islamist militant insurgencies.
The states border Niger and Chad, making it easier for the group’s attacks to spread and extend throughout larger portions of Africa’s Sahel. This region in Africa is targeted for its vulnerability towards guerrilla attacks and other common forms utilized by religious terror groups such as Boko Haram. Niger and Chad are also targeted for their majority Muslim populations and location as they share waters from Lake Chad along with Nigeria.
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.’
Terrorists part of the Boko Haram organization conducted a massacre in the village of Kawuri in the Borno State in northeastern Nigeria, killing 85. Around 50 insurgents stormed the village, attacking civilians, burning down houses, and focused kidnappings on women in particular. Boko Haram has led several deadly activities in the Borno State and in the Konduga community where the Kawuri village is situated including massive shoot-outs with the Nigerian police on multiple occasions as well as suicide bombings.
On February the 3rd 2014 ‘ Al Qaeda officially cut ties with ISIS.’
Schoolgirls aged between 16 to 18 were kidnapped during the night of April the 14th in the town of Chibok in Nigeria’s Borno State by Boko Haram militants. Boko Haram follows the strict and harsh Sharia Law which believes Western education to be evil and that women should not go through any education and only be seen as wives. They broke into the Government Girls Secondary School pretending to be guards and, due to conflicting reports, kidnapped between 270 to 330 girls. Chibok is a majority Christian town in Nigeria and those who were taken from the school were forced to convert to Islam before being used by Boko Haram soldiers to marry. They were kept hidden deep in camps throughout the Sambisa forest, a previously used refuge among militants due to its mountainous and hard to reach areas. May 4th was the first time the Nigerian publicly acknowledged the kidnappings and sporadically throughout the years some of the girls were rescued, freed, or found. As of January 2021, 112 girls are still missing. Reports by the BBC and Amnesty International show how the Nigerian military were given a four-hour advanced warning of the kidnapping but were “ignored” and they failed to send protection of any kind to the school.
The British Royal Air Force initiated Operation Turus and deployed soldiers and weaponry to Nigeria in April 2014 as a result of the Chibok kidnappings, expanding the UK’s role in counterterrorism measures within the Sahel.
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.
In an attempt to capture and seize control of Konduga town in Borno State in Nigeria, over 100 Boko Haram militants engaged in a massive assault against the Nigerian military who later won the battle. The Nigerian military utilized many different tactics in their fight against the terrorist group including ground assaults by soldiers and aerial attacks. 100 militants were confirmed dead after the standoff that saw the Nigerian soldiers apprehending anti-aircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenades, several Toyota Hilux vehicles and motorcycles, and an armored personal carrier (APC). A type of a modern, military tank, the APC are not designed to take part in direct-fire battles or conduct heavy damages and is used mainly for self-defense by international forces and organizations like the United States SWAT (special weapons and tactics) law enforcement unit.
The Nigerian military’s victory in the 2014 Battle of Konduga was crucial in maintaining control over important areas of the country and in realizing the capabilities and resources accumulated by Boko Haram.
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.’
November of 2014 marks the date when ISIS formally ‘established its presence in Yemen… [following] Baghdadi’s acceptance of a pledge of allegiance from Yemen’s ISIS supporters.’
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”.
Egypt coordinated deadly airstrikes against ‘Islamic State (ISISI) targets in Libya.’ This offensive came in response to ‘the murder of 21 Christian workers by masked militants affiliated to the Islamic State.’ The brutality of the murders was met by widespread anger with a high-level ‘spokesman stating that [Egypt sought to] avenge bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers.’
It was reported that the ‘Egyptian airstrikes killed 64 ISIS fighters, including three from leaderships [ranks].’
Operation Enduring Freedom in the Philippines ended 24th February. The purpose of this Operation was to ‘fight Islamic separatists in the southern island- notably militant group Abu Sayyaf.’
This protracted war was born by ongoing political instability, corruptions and ethnic division in Yemen. CNN online reports that ‘Yemen has been wracked by a bloody war between the Houthi rebels and supporters of Yemen’s internationally recognized government.’
Nearly 150 Boko Haram militants stormed the town of Konduga in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State at seven in the morning planning to take over the community after a failed attempt in 2014. Konduga is at least 35 kilometers away from the Borno State capital city of Maiduguri. The fighting ended around one in the afternoon by victory of the Nigerian army and air force, who sent a jet fighter to help the soldiers on the ground. One Nigerian soldier and over 73 Boko Haram militants were killed in the fighting. Soldiers told journalists that the military had “pre-information” about the terrorist’s attempted seizure. The terrorist group had conducted over 15 attacks in Konduga in the last 10 months between 2014 and 2015.
Abubakar Shekau, leader of the notorious extremist militant group Boko Haram, officially declares their allegiance to the Islamic State and their goal to establish a Islamic “caliphate”. A caliphate being a kingdom or state led by Sharia Law and the Islamic teachings of the leader, or caliph. Believed to be a descendent from the Prophet Mohammed, caliph’s hold the most power in a caliphate, and Shekau in a video posted to Twitter stated how they “will hear and obey in times of difficulty and prosperity… We call on Muslims everywhere to pledge allegiance to the caliph” being Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
This event is important due to the many deadly attacks committed by Boko Haram throughout Nigeria since its establishment in 2009, with violence increasing heavily in recent years.
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.
In the Sambisa forest, 200 young girls and 93 women were freed by the Nigerian army between the 28th and 29th, with the four camps overrun and several weapons seized. On the 30th, 13 more of the organizations’ camps were destroyed and over 234 more women and children freed. None of those freed came from the Chibok kidnapping in April 2014 and the Nigerian government still do not know where most were taken from.
The Algerian special forces launched its largest military operation in recent years when it ambushed and killed 21 militants that were part of the dangerous Jund al-Khalifa (JAK-A) group, which is closely allied to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). They were killed in the northern city of Bouira located in the dense forestry and mountains, 20 kilometers east from Algerian capital city of Aligers. Among those killed, the Algerian forces captured two militants and a dozen Kalashnikovs, three rocket launchers, and dozens of homemade bombs.
Operation Indian Ocean was a massive joint military operation between Somalia, the United States, and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) against al-Shabaab. AMISOM is operated by the African Union as a regional peacekeeping mission to protect and strengthen Somalia’s security, assist in the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, and support the government in their fight against al-Shabaab. As of February 2020, AMISOM troops were reduced to 19,600. Focused primarily in southern Somalia, the operation was deemed a success for recapturing many key territories from the militants and killing important figures in the terror group including its former leader Moktar Ali Zubeyr and intelligence chief Tahliil Abdishakur, among others. In October 2014, the Somali government offered amnesty and pardons to any and all al-Shabaab militants who turn themselves into police, leading to over 700 members to surrender to Somali authorities including prominent leader Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi. The Obama administration set a bounty on Hersi at three million dollars in 2012, with a total $33m in rewards for information leading to the capture of the other six top leaders of al-Shabaab.
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.
These series of clashes between the Philippine Army and Islamic State-affiliated Maute Group (MG) are part of the long withstanding and ongoing Moro conflict in the Philippines that began in 1969. The Moro people that make up the Maute Group are a Muslim minority community that has a long history being politically, economically, and socially discriminated in the Philippines which allowed for the rise of several Islamist militant groups. These groups are often financially and systematically supported by Islamic terrorist networks throughout the world such as by the Islamic State in Iraq and Southeast Asian organizations like Jemaah Islamiyah.
Local news report that intense fighting began when members of the MG harassed and threatened the Philippines’ 52nd Infantry Battalion in the Barangay Bayabao in Butig city. As clashes became more severe, armoured personnel carriers, helicopters, extra troops were sent by the Philippine government to track the MG insurgents and conducted air strikes against them. The Armed Forces of the Philippines stated how fighting was so intense they needed to conduct full military offensives against the terrorists. Fighting ended after 55 MG members were killed and remaining militants fleeing. Three Philippine Army soldiers were killed in the clashes and 11 wounded out of the 2,000 personnel deployed to Butig. Spokesmen for the Armed Forces of the Philippines said that “more than 30,000 residents of 10 villages were displaced by the fighting.”
The Bomb blasts which claimed the lives of ’32 people and injured 340’ targeted that ‘the departure hall of Brussels’ Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek Metro Station in the Capital of Belgian.’
As regarding the matter of responsibility the ‘Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attacks.’
An Islamic State (IS) militant drove an explosives-filled truck into massive crowds at a Bastile Day celebration in Nice during the evening, killing 84 people that included several children. Over 50 people were injured and 18 of them were critical according to French officials. After IS claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, French President Francois Hollande extended a state of emergency for three months and declared three days for national mourning.
Leading up to the bombing on August 28th, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered for the complete elimination of the local Abu Sayyaf (ASG) terrorist group after they beheaded an 18-year old boy when his family failed to pay a ransom. Two days before the attack on the 31st, Duterte received a bomb threat stating that an attack will occur in either General Santos of Davao City, to which he did nothing in retort. Duterte previously grew up in Davao City and served as its major from 2013 to 2016 when he assumed office as the 16th President of the Philippines.
The night of the bombing, the popular Roxas Night Market located close to the main campus of the Ateneo de Davao University was crowded when two hours before midnight a mortar-based improvised explosive device (IED) exploded at the scene. At least 70 were injured and 14 died at the incident, with a wounded pregnant women dying a few days after the attack and raising the death toll to 15. The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) claimed responsibility for the bombing before later denying it and stating an affiliate group conducted the attack to show support for the ASG. President Duterte “said authorities are considering the possibility that drug syndicates were behind” the bombings.
On the 2nd of October, three Filipino men – TJ Tagadaya Macabalang, Wendel Apostol Facturan, and Musali Mustapha, were arrested in connection to the bombing and had links to the Muslim militant Maute Group (MG). The MG affiliated itself with the Abu Sayyaf in the beginning of 2016.
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.
Several local news reports and Filipino officials believe that the Maute Group’s (MG) decision to re-attack Butig in 2016 was because the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) had launched a successful operation months earlier in June that recaptured the strategically important Camp Darul Iman in Butig from the MG. In doing so, at least 200 MG militants seized control over the town of Butig on the 26th of November with more members joining them over the upcoming days of the occupation. At least 300 terrorists armed with grenade launchers replaced Philippine flags with the standard black Islamic State flag while attacking the AFP. The black flags were raised in schools, the Butig town hall, churches, mosques, and other buildings throughout the city.
In retaliation, the AFP utilized SF-260 trainer planes to drop massive and deadly bombs onto occupied areas in attempts to flush out the militants. By the third day of the seizure, “most of the 17,000 residents of the largely Muslim town on Mindanao island fled to evacuation centers in neighboring towns to relatives elsewhere.” Large scale fighting ended on the 30th when Philippine military officials stated that Butig was deserted and remaining militants fled to surrounding areas. No AFP soldiers were killed and 30 injured, whereas the MG sustained 63 deaths and at least 17 wounded militants.
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.
After a week of heavy fighting and bombing campaigns, Islamic State (IS) militants managed to recapture the World Heritage site Palmyra after Syrian armed forces pulled out. The terror group also seized several oil and gas fields before engaging with foreign and Syrian forces in Palmyra, with their official news agency Amaq reporting that the group successfully captured the cities crucial citadel “which overlooks Palmyra from a strategic hilltop”. This makes retaking Palmyra by government forces significantly harder without a field of view advantage.
Russian forces had launched a fierce and merciless campaign against IS militants in Palmyra that included “64 airstrikes against positions, convoys, and advancing reserves of militants” in the WH site that forced several jihadists out of the city. The day government forces lost Palmyra, over 300 militants were killed as well as 11 tanks and 31 vehicles owned by the terrorist group. Jihadists killed around 100 Syrian forces according to reports by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
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.’
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.
Mukhtar Robow Ali was al-Shabaabs deputy leader and spokesman before leaving the group in 2013 after falling out with its leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, who was killed a year later in a US drone strike. Robow turned himself to authorities in Hudur, a city 400 kilometers away from Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. Robow states how him and loyalists were fighting against al-Shabaab militants after negotiating his surrender with authorities. An expert on the group Stig Jarle Hansen told CNN how Robow “is the highest-ranking al-Shabaab member to ever defect. This means that his defection is very ideologically and symbolically important”.
As part of Somalia’s ongoing war against terrorism, al-Shabaab militants detonated two trucks in the country’s capital city Mogadishu, killing at least 587 people and injuring over 300. The deadliest attack in Somalia’s history, intelligence officials that investigated the attacks believed the target of the attacks was the nearby Mogadishu airport compound where the United Nations, most foreign embassies, and headquarters of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are based. Reducing the Safari Hotel and Qatari embassy to rubble, Somali officers stated that the October 14th attacks were done with over 2 tons of explosives, including homemade and sophisticated military explosives.
The second truck bombing killed two people half an hour later.
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.
The racially motivated terrorist attack on ‘the Tree of life synagogue in Pittsburgh USA claimed the lives of 11 Jewish worshippers and injured six others.’ The cold and calculated crime blind sighted American authorities as ‘at 9.50am Robert Bowers entered the Tree of Life Synagogue armed with an AR-15 and three Glock handguns’, and with clear and marked indifference to the lives of the Jewish Worshippers inside the synagogue. Indeed, Reuters Online has identified the attack to be the ‘deadliest attack ever on Jewish Americans in the United States.’
In order to further reiterate the strongly racially divisive beliefs which motivated this attack, it is important to note that as reported by BBC online ‘in accordance with an affidavit, Mr Bowers told police immediately after his arrest that “he wanted all Jews to die.”’
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.
Targeting a bus of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, a suicide bombing killed 27 people and injured 13 on the Khash-Zahedan road in the country’s Sistan-Baluchestan province. Claimed by the Pakistani Salafist militant group Jaish al-Adl, Iranian officials stated how they later captured and arrested two members of the organization after the attack. Allied with al-Qaeda, Jaish al-Adl has committed several deadly attacks and kidnappings in Iran, focusing their violence on the country’s Shi’a police forces.
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.
On the 19th of February 2019, in a case which made global headlines, ‘the United Kingdom revoked the citizenship of Shamima Begum, a British teenager who travelled from London in 2015 to ISIL controlled Syria.’ The decision to strip Ms. Begum of her British citizenship was delivered in accordance with the ‘National, Immigration & Asylum Act [which] allows the Home Secretary to strip nationals of their citizenship on national security grounds, without prior approval from the courts.’ Furthermore, the ambit of the Act was broadened in ‘2006 [as the] British government [was accorded the power] to remove the citizenship of dual nationals who are considered “not conducive to the public good.’
The decision as argued by Ms. Begum’s lawyers appears problematic at international law. As highlighted by BBC News Online ‘Under international law, it is illegal to deprive nationals of citizenship if to do so would leave them stateless.’ Indeed, British authorities have reiterated that the decision to strip Ms. Begum of her citizenship rests in ‘her claim to Bangladeshi nationality through her mother.’ That said, ‘under British law, a person can have their citizenship revoked but they cannot be made stateless.’ To that end, Bangladeshi authorities and in particular ‘Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Momen has told the BBC that Ms Begum has “nothing to do” with his country.’
Ms Begum’s case will undergo the appeals process.
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.
On Easter Sunday the 21st of April 2019 a string of terrorists bomb blasts claimed the lives of at least ‘321 and wounded about 500.’ As reported by The Guardian Online ‘the wave of bombings on [Easter] Sunday targeted churches as luxury hotels in Sri Lanka.’
As reported by BBC News Online in the days following the attack ‘The Islamic State (IS) claimed [responsibility’ for the [bombings] on Tuesday via its news outlet.’ However the official consensus as per ‘the Sri Lankan government [is that] local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) [are responsible] for the attack.’
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.
Known to be ‘one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists’ al-Baghdadi died in the Syria during a ‘raid by US special forces on his Syrian safe house.’ Al-Baghdadi’s death by suicide was enacted as a means of ‘avoiding capture by U.S. forces.’ In outlining the particulars al-Baghdadi’s death The Guardian Online has reported that ‘Cornered, Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest and killed himself and three of his children.’
As reported by The Guardian Online this mission has a strong symbolic significance as ‘the operation to kill the ISIS leader had been named after Mueller, a humanitarian worker who was imprisoned by the group, tortured and repeatedly sexually abused by Baghdadi. She died in ISIS confinement at the age of 26.’
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… .’
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.’
Al-Shabaab militants brazenly rushed an important Kenyan airfield used by both Kenyan and American military forces, killing a United States service member and two Defence Department contractors. AFRICOM, or the United States African Command, state how two Defence Department members were also injured in the attack. The Manda Bay Airfield is a crucial location for training and counterterrorism support to partners in East Africa, the first incident of fighting between al-Shabaab militants and US forces in Kenya.
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.
Notorious terrorist militant group Boko Haram ambushed ‘an Island Army base in … Boma Peninsula in Lac province, which borders Niger and Nigeria.’ This attack which claimed the ‘lives of 92 Chadian soldiers [has been heralded to be] the deadliest assault yet on the country’s armed forces.’
As reported by Sierra Leone Times Online the attack has been recognized to be of great symbolic value in reiterating Boko Haram’s growth and stronghold in the region ‘as the attack [was] part of an expanding jihadist campaign in the vast, marshy Lake Chad area, where the border of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria converge.’
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 United Nations hosted a series of peace discussions between the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) and military commander Khalifa Haftar who leads the rival Libyan National Army (LNA) in the country’s eastern city of Tobruk. The agreement states that “all military units and armed groups on the front lines shall return to their camps while all mercenaries and foreign fighters must leave within three months”.
In 2011, Libya erupted into a damaging civil war after the ousting and assassination of former dictator Moammar Gadafi. The conflict brought in several dangerous terrorist groups that further escalated issues in the country, crumbling the economy by having land and oil fields destroyed through constant war. Disputes between political authorities led to the UN’s involvement in peace talks, which resulted in the creation of the unified GNA in 2015. Rather than resolving armed conflicts however, violence escalated between the House of Representatives in Tobruk and the General National Congress (GNC) in Tripoli, leading to the country’s second modern civil war, Fighting was recently reignited in April 2019 after the LNA, which are allied to the Tobruk-based government, seized Tripoli.
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.
Acting United States Defense Secretary Chris Miller announced that there are only 2,500 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively, the lowest number of US troops in Afghanistan since 2001. At its height in 2011, there were around 98,000 service members stationed in the country. The reduction of troops in Afghanistan follows agreements made with the government, US, and the Taliban through a peace deal in Qatar.
Longtime goals of the Trump administration, Miller stated how the “drawdown of US force levels in Iraq is reflective of the increased capabilities of the Iraqi security forces… we will continue to have a counterterrorism platform in Iraq to support partner forces with air power and intelligence”.
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”.
Two suicide bombers attacked a crowded marketplace in Iraq’s capital of Baghdad killing at least 32 people and wounding over 110. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks through its local news channel, the first attack in the capital city in over two years after IS lost control over the territories it claimed in Iraq and Syria in 2019. The attacks come after the number of United States troops was reduced to 2,500 on the 15th in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively.
On his first day of office as the United States President, Joe Biden repealed former President Donald Trump’s controversial Muslim travel ban. Passed by the Supreme Court in 2018, the list of countries fluctuated due to legal challenges. It greatly restricted entry from several nations in the Middle East and African countries that are majority Muslim including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
On the 19th of January in 2021, the Trump administration’s designation of the Yemeni Houthi group as a terrorist organization took effect and was immediately condemned by several countries and institutions worldwide including the United Nations. Still under review by the Biden administration, over 10,000 Yemeni Houthis marched in the country’s capital city of Sanaa in protest over the designation, with many holding banners and proclaiming: “America is the mother of terrorism”.
The Yemeni civil war has grown to encapsulate a large and dangerous proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, the latter of which supports the Houthi movement against the Saudi backed-Yemeni government. The United States has also gotten backlash over its continued support of the Saudi regime and its actions for sending military weaponry and machinery to the autocratic government in its fight in Yemen. Terror groups such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have also conducted several attacks on both main belligerents. Over 100,000 people have died in the war that began in 2014, with over 18,000 deaths coming from civilians and 85,000 related to the ongoing famine as a result of the widescale conflict. Currently, 80% of the Yemeni population are in need of aid and are experiencing the worst famine in “100 years”, which is threatened further by the terrorist designation. Listing the Houthi movement as a terrorist organization affects the aid and life-saving resources that could be sent into Yemen and can extend the war rather than provide ways to resolve it. Houthi official Mohammed Haidara stated, “the American decision … does not only concern one group, but concerns every Yemeni, and thus, its consequences will be felt amongst all Yemenis.”
One of the last actions done through the Trump administration, the withdrawal of a further 700 United States soldiers leaves a significantly small number of troops assisting and aiding local forces. US personnel trained and supported the Somali army and police in counterterrorism operations throughout the country, especially against the violent al-Shabaab extremist group which has an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 fighters. The withdrawal is criticized by local journalists due to the increase of terror attacks and deadly bombings throughout the country and in its capital and most populous city of Mogadishu. Somalia plans to continue on with its presidential elections set to start early next month.
The United States Pentagon released a statement saying that the Biden administration would not be committing to withdraw all troops stationed in Afghanistan because “the Taliban have not honored the commitments they made in their deal with the United States”. The Taliban, Afghanistan, and United States have been involved in peace talks initiated by the Trump administration in January 2020. The negotiations called for the terror group to end its reign of violence and sever ties with other terror organizations including insurgencies that have pledged allegiance to their cause. If these conditions were met, the remaining 2,500 US forces would leave Afghanistan by May 2021.
Top Islamic State leader Jabbar Salman Ali Farhan al-Issawi, also known as Abu Yasser, was killed by American airstrikes in a joint military operation with Iraqi forces in the northern city of Kirkuk. Nine other militants were killed in the operation that also included various raids on ISIL houses and headquarters by Iraqi counterterrorism forces.
Local police and officials describe Abu Yasser as the “deputy caliph” rather than the group’s head commander, who the IS identify as Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. Little is known about the group’s commanding structure or leaders, especially after the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2019.
Suspected of terrorism, Iranian authorities sentenced Javid Dehghan to death by hanging after having been arrested in 2015. Convicted of being the leader of the Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl, Dehghan was also known as Mohammed Omar and was believed to be involved in the killing of two Iranian Revolutionary Guards in 2015. An ethnic Baluch, Dehghan died in the Sistan-Baluchestan province in Iran.
Using new laser-guided technology, the British Royal Air Force were able to successfully destroy two Islamic State cells hiding among the mountains in Iraq. Killed in a coordinated attack in Bayji, just 130 miles north of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, the RAF Typhoon FGR fighter jets utilized Paveway IV guided bombs to complete the strike. Statements from the Ministry of Defense state how the pilots were ordered to make sure there were no civilians at the sight before launching the bombs. The number of people killed in the attack has not been immediately disclosed.
Jointly published by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN human rights office in Geneva (OHCHR), the latest report covers the period from the 1st of January 2019 to the 31st of March 2020. Compiled of 656 interviews with men, women, and children in 63 detention centers throughout the country, “it found nearly a third, of 30.3 per cent, had been subjected to torture or other forms or ill-treatment… also highlight[ing] that procedural safeguards for detainees are rarely ever followed”. UN officials stated how in almost all cases detainees were not given the opportunity to call a lawyer, few were given adequate medical examination or treatment, and many were forced to sign documents without reading its content.
Although a slight decrease from previous years’ reports, the continued evidence of undemocratic practices “remains alarming”, as it can fuel anti-government sentiments among Afghan civilians and within detention facilities where tensions are already high following peace talks with the Taliban among other factors. This leads civilians to join terror groups and insurgencies believing that they would provide more safety and security than the Afghan government.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack that took place at a security post in northwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan, where a shootout killed four Pakistani soldiers and four of the militants. South Waziristan, the mountainous region where the shootout took place, was a former Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) stronghold with various “headquarters for local and foreign militants until 2017, when the [Pakistani] army said it had cleared the region of insurgents following several operations”. Yet violence and attacks ensue in the region, raising fears of the re-emergence of the dangerous al-Qaeda affiliated Tehrik-i-Taliban terror group. TTP depends on the tribal regions along the Afghan-Pakistan border for recruits as well as for targeting attacks against Pakistani military forces and government officials.
Several rockets targeted the United States military base at the Erbil International Airport in Iraq killing one foreign US contractor and injuring at least nine others. Days after the attack, rockets were launched at a base hosting US soldiers north of the Iraqi capital and more were reported hitting Baghdad’s Green Zone where the many countries embassies are located, including the US’. While no group has claimed responsibility for the high-profile attack, known Iranian allied militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah was quick to offer a “rare direct denial”. A group who does not usually comment on specific attacks, analysts believe “is a sign that Iran and its allies wish to avoid an escalation that could bring a tough US response”. This is important as President Biden attempts to re-establish a nuclear deal with Iran that was revoked under the former presidency of Donald Trump.
Little known terror group Awliya al-Dam, or Guardians of the Blood, claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that it would continue to attack US “occupation” forces in Iraq.
The Libyan interior minister was targeted by armed gunmen while in his motorcade driving across the country’s capital city Tripoli. Fathi Bashagha came out uninjured while one of his guards was wounded. Two of the assailants were arrested and a third was later pronounced dead at a hospital. Bashagha is known to be a political heavyweight in recent years, focusing on fighting corruption in Libya while stepping “up efforts to absorb armed groups across the country into national security forces”.
A landmine in Niger’s rural community of Dargol exploded a vehicle carrying workers with the country’s election commission, killing seven and seriously wounding three. Dargol is part of the western region of Tillaberi that connects Niger to Burkina Faso and Mali, two other countries heavily targeted by terrorist attacks, as armed groups with links to al-Qaeda and ISIS have strengthened their foothold in the region and launch frequent attacks. The 21st of February marks the first day of Niger’s first democratic power transfer since 1960 after gaining independence from France.
Both countries Director General of Military Operations have “agreed to address each other’s core issues and concerns which have propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence”, of which relates directly to the escalation of violence along the Kashmir-Jammu region that has been involved in a historic conflict since 1947. The original ceasefire set in 2003 was the second to be established between India and Pakistan during the Kashmir conflict, with both countries frequently accusing each other of violating it. There have been more than 13,500 ceasefire violations since 2003 which have claimed the lives of 310 civilians and injured over 1,600. Indian troops alone have committed over 2,900 ceasefire violations throughout the Kashmir-Jammu region in 2020.
Abu Walaa, a radical Islamist preacher based in the German city of Celle, has been convicted of supporting and being a member of the deadly Islamic State (IS) terror group. Prosecutors believe Walaa do be the IS’ de facto leader in Germany and are seeking a sentence of 11 and a half years in prison. Three other co-defendants were apprehended by German police along with Walaa, all of which are part of a mosque located in Hildesheim city in Lower Saxony “notorious for attracting Islamists from across Germany”. The mosque was forced to close in 2017 after being outlawed by the European country due to its prominence as a gathering for radical Islamists, especially the dangerous German-based Deutschsprachiger Islamkreis Hildesheim e.V. (DIK) group. Walaa had previously been arrested by German officials in 2016 and charged with aiding and actively participating in the IS.
Over 850 German police officers and SWAT teams carried out raids in the cities of Berlin and Brandenburg that targeted the homes of members of the banned “radical” Islamist group, Jama’atu Berlin. German Interior Minister Andreas Geisel banned the organization in 2020 because it “adheres to an anti-Semitic ideology and advocates armed jihad and terrorist attacks against civilians”. Little is publicly known about the organization except for its structure, with it consisting of two groups divided by gender. Local authorities state that both groups meet “regularly in private homes and parks, and disseminated their ideology on the internet and with leaflets in public spaces”.
Convicted in 2007 with conspiring to bomb several populous areas in the United Kingdom, Anthony Garcia has been held at the HMP Full Sutton prison in East Yorkshire where he will stay for the rest of his life. At Full Sutton, British Security Services state that “he has influenced former gang members and murderers who had no interest in religion before entering the prison system” including supposedly inspiring the militants that incited the 2019 London Bridge and Reading terror attacks. Former prisoners who spent time with Garcia told Security Services that he had a strong “leadership role” and led fitness sessions, held lectures on religion and translated Islamic State videos and doctrine.
Not only does this highlight the various ways terror groups can recruit people without the need for technological equipment, but also shows how prisons can be dangerous for fueling extremism.
Germany’s defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer visited Afghanistan on an unannounced schedule, stating that the country is ready to “continue supporting Afghanistan during its peace process”. This comes after Germany’s current mandate for their troops placed in Afghanistan expires at the end of March and was extended “to stay in place until next year if needed”. Germany currently has 1,000 troops stationed in Germany, third following the United States’ 2,500 soldiers and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) 10,000.
United States President Joe Biden conducted his first known exercise of military force by launching air strikes on Iranian-supported targets in eastern Syria. Utilizing seven precision bombs, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby states that “these strikes were authorized in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq”. The locations targeted included multiple facilities used by various Iranian-supported militia groups such as Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada and an important border crossing exploited by militants to transport weapons to Iraq.
Local sources provide differing numbers on the deaths and injuries, with medical sources at hospitals in the area say that 17 fighters had been killed while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights stating that at least 22 people were killed.
Fighting between the Yemeni government forces and Houthi rebels escalated earlier this month, with Iranian-affiliated Houthi fighters resuming their goal to capture the strategic city of Marib, which lies close to some of Yemen’s richest oil fields in the north of the country. This is dangerous not only in potentially destroying areas crucial to the country’s long-term economy, but also for providing more resources and access to finances that would better equip the Houthi’s to dangerous weaponry and other important equipment. Houthi sources state how 22 government forces and over 28 rebel fighters have died in the last 24 hours of fighting.
The kidnapping took place at the Girls Science Secondary School in Nigeria’s northern town of Jangebe in the Zamfara state. No group has claimed responsibility for the abduction that included 317 girls, with local police stating that “the gunmen also attacked a nearby military camp and checkpoint, preventing soldiers from interfering while the gunmen spent several hours at the school”. This shows how the attack was not random and included thorough planning in order to participate in two simultaneous disputes in order to successfully abduct the girls. Several armed groups operate in the Zamfara state known locally and by the government as bandits and are “known to kidnap for money and for the release of their members from jail”.
Nigeria has been the target of many mass kidnappings by terror groups, with Boko Haram (BH) launching several deadly abductions including the infamous 2014 Chibok schoolgirls attack that included 276 captured by BH. To this day, over 100 girls have not been recovered. Recently, there has been a dangerous surge in mass kidnappings and attacks within Nigeria, as over 340 boys were abducted by BH in December 2020 and 42 students captured by gunmen in Niger state less than two weeks ago. Kidnappings have risen in Nigeria due to the country’s ongoing and devastating economic crises that force armed groups to carry out abductions as part of a new “growth industry”, where large sums of money is demanded and paid for in order for safe release. This tactic is mostly utilized by non-religious or groups with no direct ties to Islamist cells but is also minimally carried out by organizations such as Boko Haram and al-Shabaab.
Less than a week later on the 2nd of March, gunmen released the girls in what has been “the second time in less than a week that gunmen in the country had released kidnapped schoolchildren”. The Nigerian government denied paying any ransoms for their return and the cause of their release is not yet known. One of the kidnapped schoolgirls told local authorities how the gunmen wore military uniform and said “don’t be afraid because we don’t mean to harm any of you, just obey our instructions”.
A draft for the Afghanistan peace plan that had been shared with multiple political leaders and proposed by the United States includes the creation of the transitional Afghan government that would include Taliban representatives and members. The draft states how the transitional government would be made up of three branches similar to the US’ with an executive administration, a parliament and senate that “Taliban representatives will be included in”, and a judiciary that “includes the independent high council for Islamic jurisprudence and the commission for drafting a new constitution”. The Islamic jurisprudence would be made up of fifteen people including seven Taliban members and would be “tasked with providing Islamic guidance in the social, cultural, and other contemporary sectors of the country”. Many countries in the Middle East have a similar Islamic councils that oversee religious matters in their respective states, such as the ‘Ulama’ in Saudi Arabia and the ‘Awqaf’ in the United Arab Emirates.
The leaked draft is not officially signed or approved by the US, current Afghan government, or Taliban representatives. On the 8th, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and First Vice President Amrullah Saleh dismissed the proposed plan as “not a concern” of the government, “our relations with the West and the Americans are fundamental, but whenever our interests are violated we inform our nation. We will not ignore our Constitution”.
Pope Francis is the first pope to ever visit Iraq, a country with a deep history of coexistence between Muslim and Christian communities before the United States invasion in 2003 and emergence of extremist groups that set the Middle Eastern state in a deep and devastating conflict that still heavily impacts the country today. One of the oldest Christian communities in the world, decades long armed conflict ravaged the population in Iraq “from 1.5 million in 2003 to fewer than 400,000 today”. Dangerous attacks continue today, with events as recent as February 15 as well as surging coronavirus numbers not stopping the Pope known for being a prominent figure in interfaith dialog. The first day of his visit, Pope Francis not only addressed the Iraqi Christian communities, but the heavily threatened Yazidi Shi’a groups consistently targeted by terror groups like the Islamic State. As well as meeting with the prominent and revered Shi’a leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, these actions are important in emphasizing peace between two vulnerable and tense religious groups, especially in Iraq where fighting with Christians against Muslims were commonplace during the US-Iraqi war.
The Pope’s four-day visit in Iraq involved visiting four cities, including former IS stronghold Mosul that is still extensively destroyed and abandoned following the devastation from the Iraqi civil war that ended in 2017. In each city, he met with various Christian and Islamic leaders, churches and mosques, as well as many ruins of homes and areas holy for both religions. Other than Mosul, Pope Francis visited the capital city of Baghdad, Shi’a holy city of Najaf, the Christian town of Qaraqosh, and Erbil, where recent militant attacks killed a US contractor.
The Afghanistan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) launched two separate and successful raids in the Almar district in the Faryab province. In the first operation, ANDSF “backed by air support targeted Taliban fighters, killing 12 Taliban insurgents and wounding four others”. The second mission included an ambush of 10 suicide bombers, killing three of the militants and injuring the remaining seven.
Turkish, Russian, and Qatari foreign ministers meet in Doha, Qatar to begin a series of discussions related to the political and economic rehabilitation of Syria following the 10-year anniversary of the conflict that destroyed much of the country. The ministers and foreign leaders also emphasized the need to improve the efficiency and availability of humanitarian aid for the people in Syria, with Qatari minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani stating that “there is a crucial need to lessen the suffering of the Syrians”.
While all three countries leaders highlight the only solution being a political settlement in line with the United Nations terms, they support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict. Turkey and Qatar publicly supported rebels fighting to overthrow the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad whereas Russia has heavily backed the Assad regime in seizing the country through military support and weaponry.
In 2017 Turkey, Russia, and Iran met to establish political solutions for Syria that aimed at reducing fighting. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov affirmed that the new resolutions would not replace or contradict plans made in 2017.
The ambush took place on the 24th where several militants laid siege over the resource-rich city of Palma in northern Mozambique, leading to nearly a week of fighting. Palma is the location for the French energy company Total, “where many foreign contractors have been working for a multibillion-dollar liquified natural gas project”. Palma is a key hub for natural gas companies as it contains reserves worth over US$60 billion alone in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province. Nationals from South Africa, the UK, France, and many other countries were killed or sought refuge in hotels around Palma, with “an estimated 200 foreign workers believed to be in the Hotel Amarula alone” at one point in the siege.
The Islamic State released a statement through their official media channels claiming responsibility for the attacks that killed over 55 “members of local security forces and Christians, including those from ‘Crusader nations’, and destroyed official buildings and banks”. The official death toll is still unknown as Mozambique and several other nations are still conducting rescue operations in Palma. Many rescue convoys through boats, helicopters, and trucks were targeted by IS militants and destroyed trying to flee from the city.
Immediately refuted by the French defense ministry, a newly released United Nations report stated that a French counterterrorism operation that occurred in January of this year had killed at least 19 civilians in central Mali that were “protected under international law”. An investigation was launched by the United Nations mission in Mali (MINUSMA) after residents of the Bounti village said that the French warplanes hit a wedding party that killed several civilians, whereas French military officials said it killed jihadists and no wedding had occurred.
The UN report found that on January 3rd, “a wedding had in fact taken place and had gathered about 100 civilians at the site of the strike. About five armed people, who are thought to be members of the jihadist group Katiba Serma, attended the celebrations”. Investigations were based on over 100 individual, group, and telephone interviews.
Taking place in the northern Afghan city of Jalalabad, unidentified gunmen shot and killed three women working for a polio vaccination campaign. The first shooting took place in the Majboor Abad area and the second attack occurring an hour later in the Lal Qasim Agha area, killing two women working under the same campaigns.
Afghanistan and Pakistan are the only countries were the polio virus is an endemic, with various health organizations launching “a new five-day door-to-door anti-polio vaccination drive to vaccinate millions of children despite the risks posed by the coronavirus”. This is the second anti-polio vaccination campaign taking place in the country this year, with the Afghan health ministry stating that so far in 2021 there have been around two dozen confirmed polio cases. “Officials said that Afghanistan ranks nearly at the top globally of reported polio cases in the past nine years, second only to Pakistan”.
The sustained presence of the Taliban throughout Afghanistan puts forth many implications in setting up vaccination drives because “like in previous years, [the Taliban] would not allow the home-to-home campaign in in areas under their control”. Taliban spokesmen stated that the group is in discussions with the World Health Organization (WHO) over agreements that would allow for anti-polio programs to continue. “Pakistani armed groups also regularly stage attacks on polio teams and police escorting them, claiming the anti-polio drive is part of a Western conspiracy to collect intelligence”.
Throughout the latter of 2020 and in recent weeks, the Yemeni Houthi group claimed responsibility for launching “numerous missile and drone attacks targeting Saudi oil installations, airports, and military sites”. Saudi officials have not confirmed any of the statements or attacks conducted by the Houthi’s, but have released reports of successful missions that destroyed several of the rebel’s weaponry and drone assembly plants in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a. UN reports found that the coalition’s air raids also hit Houthi-controlled grain ports as well as “a warehouse and the living quarters of a food production company”. Death counts were not released by either the UN or Saudi Arabia.
Houthi rebels have been engaged in constant fighting with the Saudi-led coalition in the Yemen conflict but in recent years have launched offensive attacks directed in the Kingdom.
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa for discussions on the ongoing but slow peace process in Afghanistan. “It was the first time a Russian foreign minister had visited Pakistan in nine years” and is a necessary visit following both countries long history and involvement in Afghanistan, which shares a south-eastern border with Pakistan. Other than the Afghan peace process, officials discussed the country’s economic relations, COVID-19 related matters, and progress for an upcoming major pipeline project between the two countries.
From 1979 to 1989 the Soviet Union allied with the Afghan government was in a fierce war against Islamist and Maoist insurgencies throughout the Middle Eastern country that directly led to the establishment of al-Qaeda and other extremist Islamic groups. Throughout the war, “Pakistan and the United States were the main supporters of the Islamist fighters” and provided them with several resources including specialized training, military equipment, and weaponry. Now, Russian officials are concerned about the possibility of the Afghan instability spilling over throughout central Asia and threatening Russia’s borders in the region.
The Strategic Dialogue had been a series of discussions between United States and Iraq on the continued presence of American troops in the Middle Eastern country, the third round of talks to occur between the countries officials and the first to take place under President Biden. Both governments stated that “based on the increasing capacity of the ISF [Iraq Security Forces], the parties confirmed that the mission of US and Coalition forces has now transitioned to one focused on training and advisory tasks, thereby allowing for the redeployment of any remaining combat forces from Iraq”. US troops have been stationed in Iraq since its invasion of the country in 2003 following Bush’s push for a global war on terror, with numbers increasing after the resurgence of the Islamic State in 2014.
While approved by Iraqi politicians including Iraq’s National Security Advisor Qassem al-Araji, the country’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has been facing increased pressure from Iranian-supported militias to usher “the 2,500 American troops, which form the bulk” of the coalition’s security force out of the country. “Successive Iraqi governments have been under pressure to end the US presence in Iraq since President Donald Trump’s decision last year to order the assassination of leading Iranian commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad, sending tensions between Iran and the United States soaring across the region, and intensifying a proxy war on Iraqi soil that has mostly claimed the lives of Iraqi citizens.”
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi announced that all Islamic State affiliated insurgents “have been chased from Palma” adding “we do not declare victory, because we are fighting terrorism” while calling on international support. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) stated on the 6th that the presidents of Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe will be meeting in the Mozambican capital Maputo in order to discuss the security crisis.
Last month, several militants conducted deadly raids in the resource-rich city of Palma where many foreigners live due to the presence of various natural gas companies in the area. Palma is “a coastal town close to a multi-billion dollar liquid natural gas (LNG) project” and is protected by international law. While the official death count is still disputed by various local institutions, the IS released a statement saying that 55 people had been killed and countless injured.
Several Iranian officials called a blackout and system failures experienced at its underground Natanz atomic site an act of “nuclear terrorism” committed by Israeli forces. Natanz has been the site for previous cyberattacks including the infamous Stuxnet computer worm that destroyed crucial elements of the Iran nuclear program. The United States and Israel are still highly suspected of conducting the 2010 attacks by several international institutions but have consistently denied involvement.
Iran and other world powers have been involved in discussions and debates over what to do about Iran’s nuclear program, of which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has vowed to do everything in his power to stop”. Multiple Israeli media outlets have stated that Mossad and Israeli cyberattacks led to the Natanz blackout but were not confirmed by the country’s government. “While the reports offered no sourcing for their information, Israeli media maintains a close relationship with the country’s military and intelligence agencies.”
The Taliban announced through spokesmen on its Voice of Jihad website that it will not be participating in the upcoming peace discussions in Turkey that were extensively planned out under the Biden administration. The Taliban’s article stated that they “denounced the US proposal for an interim government and said similar efforts had failed” as well as threatening violence if all foreign troops have not left Afghanistan by May 1st. The summit has been postponed to a later date due to the Taliban’s refusal to attend.
A report done by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) stated that it has “reasonable grounds to believe” a barrel bomb containing chlorine gas dropped in the Syrian city of Saraqeb in 2018 was conducted by the Syrian air force. While it did not result in any fatalities, the report found that “a dozen people were treated for symptoms consistent with chemical poisoning, including nausea, eye irritation, shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing”. The Syrian government has not immediately commented on the report but, along with Russia, has consistently denied using chemical weapons throughout the Syrian conflict, “saying any such attacks were staged by opponents to make Damascus look like the culprit.”
While chlorine is not listed as an internationally banned toxin, “the use of any chemical substance in armed conflict is banned under the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention” which is overseen by the OPCW.
Extremist Islamist group Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) lead a series of violent protests throughout Pakistan for several reasons including the arrest of TLP chief Saad Hussain Rizvi by the country’s security officials and anti-France demonstrations following the European states’ highly criticized move to ban religious headwear. The group has “demanded that the French ambassador be sent home and import of goods from that country banned”. Ongoing clashes between TLP militants and police has left four people dead and over 300 injured, forcing Pakistani government officials to announce the banning of the group on the 14th “under Rule 11(b) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA)” upheld by the country since 1997.
Throughout Pakistan, violent attacks led by TLP militants included the use of firearms, bricks, arson, and clubs and left over 300 policemen in the Punjab province alone seriously injured. The country’s capital city Lahore saw at least 97 policemen injured through the attacks with many videos posted onto social media sites showing police forces heavily targeted by several militants. Other than conducting several targeted attacks, TLP members blocked hundreds of main roads throughout the country but focused attacks primarily in the Punjab province where “TLP workers had occupied over 100 points, roads, and majority intersections of various cities of the province”. Punjab police spokesmen stated how “over 1,400 activities” have resulted in arrests in the province alone so far.
President Biden has publicly stated that all 3,500 American troops stationed in Afghanistan will be withdrawn on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, signifying the end of the US’ participation in its longest war. This would leave only 7,000 other foreign soldiers in the Middle Eastern country, particularly from forces under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and Germany. Biden’s move has drawn criticisms from the Pentagon who have been pushing for longer deployment and from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who calls the announcement a “grave mistake.”
Biden has been a long-time critic of prolonged US presence in the Afghanistan conflict that has taken the lives of over 2,000 American soldiers and “at least 100,000 Afghan civilians injured or killed”. The Taliban have already “promised to renew attacks on US and NATO personnel if foreign troops are not out by the deadline” set up under the Trump administration of May 1st.
Matching the United States’ announcement, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) chief Jens Stoltenberg stated that the alliance has agreed to a complete soldier withdrawal from Afghanistan starting on May 1st. With roughly 7,000 to 7,500 NATO troops stationed in the Middle Eastern country, Stoltenberg said plans will commence “within a few months.”
After the Pakistani federal government banned and arrested the leader of the extremist Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) group earlier this week, three days of violent protests by members and supporters were initiated that led to the kidnapping, injuries, and deaths to several policemen throughout the country. Several TLP militants were arrested for their involvement in the protests and road blockages. In the first round of peace talks between the Punjab government and TLP officials, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid stated discussions “went well” after the group released 11 policemen held as hostages. More talks between the government and TLP are to come.
“The TLP workers had four demands they put forth; the expulsion of the French ambassador, the release of party chief Saad Rizvi, the removal of the ban on the party and the release of activists arrested as well as the FIRs against them to be revoked… The [Pakistani] government representatives said that they would convey the TLP’s demands to higher ups”. The next day, TLP leader Saad Hussain Rizvi was released from jail in Lahore by the government and politicians announced a vote on whether to expel the French ambassador to Pakistan.
A bomb in the Balochistan provincial capital of Quetta exploded at 10pm at the Serena Hotel parking lot, killing at least five and injuring over 12. Balochistan government officials and law enforcement state that a police officer was killed in the bombing and the attack targeted the country’s Chinese ambassador that was not at the scene and is safe. They also stated how “between 80kg to 90kg of explosive material was used” and that “ball bearings and C4 explosive material was used in the blast.”
The United States embassy in Afghanistan has begun ordering all nonessential staff, “a relatively small number of employees”, to leave the country following President Biden’s declaration for a full troop withdrawal by September 11. The Taliban has already threatened to “escalate attacks” if the US does not follow their terms. Defense officials stated that “the Pentagon is assembling a force of around 650 troops to send to Afghanistan in the coming days to protect US forces as they withdraw from the country”. US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said that any future aid to Afghanistan will be conditioned on the Taliban’s behavior, specifically their treatment of women and girls.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reemphasized the country’s support for peace talks and a ceasefire in Yemen following the crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohamed bin Salman’s similar comments a day prior. Salman has been leading the Kingdom’s military action in Yemen supporting the internationally recognized government that has been engaged in a decades-long war against speculative Iranian-supported Houthi rebels. Salman also emphasized the Kingdom’s push towards “improving relations with Tehran.”
As of December 2020, reports by the United Nations show an estimated 233,000 deaths from the Yemeni conflict with “131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services, and infrastructure.”
An armed ambush conducted by unknown assailants left two Spanish nationals, one Irish national, and one local soldier dead as they were on an anti-poaching patrol through the Fada N’Gourma-Pama area in eastern Burkina Faso. “In addition to the NGO workers, the patrol group also consisted of soldiers, forest rangers, and foreign journalists”. Burkina Faso is heavily targeted by Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda jihadist groups, with its porous borders with Mali allowing for raids to be easily and frequently conducted. Burkina Faso also serves as a major hub in the African continent for weapons trafficking.
Spanish, German, French, and Italian governments released statements condemning the ambush and their continued support in fighting against terrorism in Africa.
The White House released a statement commencing the US military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan that was planned to begin no later than May 1st. “Fewer than 100 troops, along with military equipment” have already been sent on aircraft out of the Middle Eastern country. Under President Biden’s order, all 2,500 openly acknowledged US troops plus the several hundred special forces soldiers will leave Afghanistan after over two decades of US presence in the nation.
The explosion took place outside a guesthouse in Afghanistan’s Logar provincial capital of Pul-e Alam, just 40 miles south of the state capital Kabul. “The guesthouse belonged to the family of a prominent member of the Afghan senate, himself recently assassinated by the Taliban.” Numerous people were buried under rubble after the truck explosion that killed the perpetrator and numerous students who were staying at a nearby facility. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, the Afghan government was quick to allocate blame on the terror group and emphasized how the Taliban “has often said that an American military presence after May 1 would represent a violation of the Doha agreement.”
The night before the explosion, Taliban insurgents overran an Afghan army base in Ghazni city and captured 25 soldiers, among other instances showing a continuation of violence against government officials and law enforcement.
On the 9th of August 2014, former British Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon authorized Operation Shader as a formal military intervention by the United Kingdom against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Initially a humanitarian mission predominately in northern Iraq, escalation of the conflict and requests by the Iraqi government forced an expansion of the operations to include the use of deadly force such as airstrikes.
British Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston stated that joining Operation Shader would be the renowned “Dambusters” squadron that was crucial in fighting against Germany in the Second World War. The Ministry of Defense explained that the Royal Air Forces’ F35B Lightning fast jets’ mission in the operation would be to “prevent IS from regaining a foothold in Iraq”. These jets are powerful in their ability to conduct several tasks being “equipped with advanced sensors, mission systems, and stealth technology – enabling them to carry out intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks”.
In a direct statement to Foreign Affairs, President Ashraf stated that if the Taliban rejected peace talks and failed to uphold agreements set with the United States, the Afghan military will resume its war against the militants. Reiterating Afghanistan and his stance for peace as well as being “willing to end [his] term early” if it meant securing peace, President Ashraf called for nonviolent discussions between the Taliban with a “credible and neutral mediator” such as the United Nations facilitating negotiations.
He then lists a number of topics that would be discussed under negotiations with Taliban representatives including a cease-fire, transitional administrations, as well as the role of terrorism in Pakistan and with prominent groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS). Throughout his article, Ashraf emphasizes the need for the United States, NATO, and other bodies to keep supporting the Afghan government and to “fulfill their existing commitments” such as funding the Afghan National Security Forces (ANDSF). President Ashraf highlighted how the US and NATO were the “single most important contributions” from the international community towards Afghanistan’s peace process.
After United States forces handed over Camp Antonik in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province to government forces, fighting immediately erupted at the base between Afghan soldiers and Taliban militants. Defense ministry officials stated that over 100 militants were killed in 24 hours and over 52 injured, without giving any details of any casualties suffered by government forces. The Taliban has yet to mention any fighting against Afghan forces in Camp Antonik, “but both sides are known to exaggerate casualties inflicted on the other.”
Under the Afghan peace process, the US has already handed over several military bases to government forces. Camp Antonik is supposed to be used for future special forces training in counter-terrorism operations led by the US and NATO.
German police and law enforcement released a statement banning Ansaar International, an Islamic group that Berlin officials raided and believed to be raising money for terrorism. 1,000 law enforcement officers took part in the raid that spanned across 10 German states and confiscated 150,000 euros. While the organization’s website says it “provides humanitarian aid to people affected by war and crises by building or financing the construction of hospitals, orphanages and schools”, German officials believe these are all a “guise” to “spread a Salafist world view and finance terror around the world”. Raids have previously been conducted on Ansaar and other Islamic groups in 2019, with arrests in relation to Islamic terrorism in Germany occurring earlier this year in February.
A car bomb detonated in front of the Sayed al-Shuhada school in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing at least 85 people that were mostly girls aged 11 to 15. After panic ensued following the car bomb, two more bombs exploded in front of the school that continues to contribute to the growing death toll. Taken place in the majority Shi’a district of Dasht-e-Barchi, the Afghan government laid blame on the Taliban who denied responsibility and stated that the bombing was done by the Islamic State who also denied any involvement. The Hazara ethnic community living in this district has been a frequent target by IS insurgents. At least 150 people were injured in the bombing. Two more bombs were detonated in different parts of Afghanistan the same day, one killing 11 people in a bus attack and another blast hitting a minibus north of the capital that killed 2.
As the Biden administration stated that all US troops would leave Afghanistan by September 11, “the foreign troop withdrawal has led to a surge in fighting between Afghan security forces and Taliban insurgents”.
The British Ministry of Defense released a statement confirming the use and operation of two Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s jets on the 11th of May that killed a group of Islamic State terrorists close to the Iraqi capital city of Mosul. Iraqi security forces were surrounded by an unspecified number of IS insurgents that were consistently firing at the soldiers from a strong defensive position, leading to the soldiers requesting “air support from the international coalition forces” that is predominately aided by the United Kingdom, United States, and NATO, among other organizations and nations. “Following the airstrike, Iraqi forces were then able to carry out an assault and overwhelm the few remaining terrorists”.
The Typhoon fighter jets are able to deploy two Paveway IV precision guided bombs, the same bombs used to successfully eliminate ISIL cells in Bayji city, Iraq earlier this year in February.
After violence escalated last week that included the deadly girl’s Sayed al-Shuhada school bombing, the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire that would halt all offensive operations to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Eid al-Fitr holiday. “Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, ordered security forces to respect the ceasefire and called for a permanent ceasefire”. Both government officials and Taliban spokesmen reaffirmed the need for a peaceful and secure atmosphere in order for negotiations to operate efficiently and accordingly.
“Shortly before the ceasefire came into effect, the Taliban had captured Nirkh – a strategic district close to Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul”. Many important highways connecting the country’s central and southern provinces go through Nirkh.
A group of Kenyan soldiers were running routine checkups in the Baure area of Lamu county when their vehicle ran over an explosive device left by members of al-Shabaab. Militants then ambushed the scene and killed remaining soldiers along the Bodhei-Kiunga road. “The attack happened just days before President Uhuru Kenyatta is to launch a multi-million dollar port in Lamu county.”
While al-Shabaab is based and conducts most of their attacks in Somalia, officials and spokesmen for the group “vowed revenge on Kenya for sending its troops to support the Somali government against their jihadi rebellion”. In 2011, the Kenyan government began sending soldiers to Somalia for coordinated counterterrorism support “after several visitors from Western countries were kidnapped on Kenyan soil, threatening the country’s tourism industry”. Along the Kenyan-Somali border, the government has built large fences and trenches to prevent terrorists, bandits, and other illegal crossings.
Assuming leadership of Boko Haram (BH) in 2009, Abubakar Shekau was significant in transforming BH “from an obscure radical sect into a jihadist army” and “left tens of thousands dead across four nations.” Although largely unconfirmed by the Nigerian government, BH spokesmen, or Islamic State media, several officials in the country confirm that Shekau “detonated a bomb and killed himself” according to intercepted militant phone calls. Senior government officials stated that leading up to his death, Shekau was surrounded by hundreds of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) militants sent to kill him and his senior lieutenants.
The Nigerian military has previously and “erroneously reported at least three times before” that Shekau was killed.
An Israeli soldier and a civilian were stabbed by a Palestinian assailant
near the railway station in Jerusalem. Israeli police dubbed the attacker
a “terrorist.” The attack came in the aftermath of renewed Israel-Hamas
hostilities that spanned over the previous 11 days and took the lives of
more than 200 people (militants, according to Israeli sources) in Gaza
and 12 civilians in Israel.
In an interview with Foreign Policy, Zabihullah Mujahid — Taliban’s
spokesperson — stated that the Taliban’s goal is to achieve an “Islamic
government, which includes all Afghans.” Mujahid expressed the
Taliban’s doubts about ceasefire negotiations underway and emphasized
their resolve — “If this second goal is not reached, we will be compelled
to continue our war to achieve our goal.”
A car bomb exploded at the Colombia military base in Cucuta — a city
on the Colombia-Venezuela border — injuring 36 people. US troops
located at the base were not harmed. Colombia’s Defense Minster Diego
Molano called the incident a terrorist attack by the leftist rebels.
After the official end of hostilities between the Colombian government
and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2016, some
of the FARC members who did not accept the accord continue their
struggle along with the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerillas — the
largest remaining rebel group — and criminal syndicates.
US troops withdrew from Afghanistan’s largest airbase and American
key position in the country — the Bagram Airfield — on the night of July
1st-2nd. According to the base’s Afghan commander, US military leaders did not notify them prior to pulling out. The US military officials claimed
that there was no official announcement for security reasons.
Considering the Taliban’s rapid advance and the fact that Bagram
contains a prison with about 5,000 Taliban fighters, such rapid
withdrawal sparked significant concerns among the members of the
A Lebanon-born nationalized Ali Kourani was sentenced to 40 years in
prison after the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld
the 2019 conviction that followed the man’s confession to FBI in 2017.
Kourani was recruited by Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO is
the organization’s external attack-planning component), underwent
training in Lebanon, and conducted surveillance in US airports, federal
buildings, and other critical infrastructure in New York City.
Purportedly, Kourani attended Hezbollah-sponsored military training in
Lebanon in 2000, before emigrating to the US in 2003. Whether Kourani was initially prepared for being officially recruited by IJO later in 2008, the longer-than-usual sentence signifies the tightening of the screws in the legal fight with terrorism.
Notably, one of the Circuit Judges voiced an opinion that a 20-year term
would have been more consistent with other similar convictions.
The Taliban took control over Zaranj (Zarang) — the capital of Nimroz
(Nimruz) province (Southwestern Afghanistan). This is the first
provincial capital to fall to the Taliban fighters since the beginning of the
US withdrawal. The province’s governor expressed concerns over the
Taliban’s next steps and whether they would be targeting those affiliated
with the government.
As the Taliban fighters seized the presidential palace, the capital of Afghanistan plunged into chaos, with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing and citizens rushing to the Kabul airport — the last outpost secured by the US military. The US had moved all its embassy staff to the airport and
began evacuation. More than 60 countries issued a joint statement urging the Taliban to allow all foreign nationals and Afghan citizens willing to leave the country to do so safely and orderly — “Afghans and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so; roads, airports and border crossing must remain open, and calm must be maintained.”
Facing increased criticism, on August 14th, President Biden made a release reflecting the administration’s take on the situation — “U.S.
military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me.”
Meanwhile, the Taliban had been moving quickly, overrunning 18 out of 34 provinces. As of August 15th, 5 more provinces are being contested.
Amid the massive evacuation, two explosions blasted just outside the
Kabul airport, killing 13 US servicemen and at least 60 Afghanis and
wounding 18 US soldiers.
The ISIS in Khorasan (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility for the attack.
Amid NATO and US troops withdrawal, around 124,000 foreigners and
“qualified” Afghan citizens were evacuated from Kabul by the allied
forces. The Taliban spokesperson urged Washington to cease taking “experts’
— high-skilled specialists — out of the country.
On August 30th, the last US military planes took off from Kabul.The Taliban soldiers entered the airport, declaring victory in the 20-year
Days before the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President Biden
instructed the Justice Department to begin the process of declassifying
documents related to the FBI’s investigation of these fateful terrorist
attacks. The move follows a letter addressed to the President by the
victims’ family members, survivors, and first responders urging the
government to release the documents that might be shedding light on
Saudi Arabia’s purported role in the attacks.
This is a public call for increased transparency and limitations on the US government’s secret privileges.
A car bomb exploded in Aden, targeting two senior officials —the Minister of Agriculture and Aden’s Governor — who survived. However, 6 people were killed. Yemen’s Prime Minister dubbed the incident a “terrorist attack.”
Notably, Aden — the seat of the internationally-recognized Yemeni government since the capital was taken by the Houthi rebels — has experienced multiple explosions, purportedly carried out by affiliates of Al-Qaeda or ISIL, over the past years.
Sir David Amess — the long-serving Conservative Member of Parliament for Southern West in Essex — was killed in a knife attack at a constituency surgery at church. Mr. Ali Harbi Ali — a British citizen and a son of a former advisor to Somalia’s Prime Minister — was arrested as the main suspect.
The assault on a lawmaker cast doubts about the effectiveness of Prevent — an anti-terrorism program launched in the aftermath the 9/11 attacks that urges intervention to help those on the road to radicalization. Prevent was already criticized following the 2005 London subway and the 2018 Manchester concert bombings.
Unidentified gunmen attacked a police patrol, killing 4 officers. The incident happened in Northwestern Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan. Over the past years, Pakistan experiences an increased number of terrorist attacks, most of them claimed by the ISIL affiliates or the Pakistani Taliban. Taliban’s seizing power in Afghanistan might have emboldened the movement’s branches as well as other terrorist organizations with similar agendas. Notably, the Taliban serves as an example to ISIL — a group with the major objective of establishing its own Islamic State.
At least 12 people were killed in a car bomb explosion near the airport in Aden — the new seat of the internationally-recognized Yemen government. The attack comes 3 weeks after another blast targeting senior Yemeni officials.
A Yemeni journalist and her child were killed by a car bomb blast in Aden. No group claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the tactics resemble those of the two October car bombings in Aden.
A Palestinian assailant (purportedly from the disputed West Bank territory ) wounded a Jewish civilian and then attempted to stab a border police officer. The attack took place outside East Jerusalem’s Old City — a crowded area and a usual site of clashes and demonstrations.
The assailant was shot by the local police who later claimed they had successfully neutralized a terrorist.
The spokesman of Hamas — a Palestinian Sunni-Islamic fundamentalist militant organization — accused the Israeli of deliberately killing “a wounded young man lying on the ground.”
Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi — the second khalif of the ISIL — was killed during the US Special Operations Forces raid in Syria. Officials say al-Qurayshi blew himself up along with the members of his family.
Al-Qurayshi is the third major jihadi leader to die in the US War on Terror in the last decade, along with bin Laden (2011) and al Baghdadi (2019).
At least 5 Pakistani soldiers were shot by Afghan militants from inside Afghanistan at a border post. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — the Afghan Taliban’s associate — claimed responsibility for the attack.
Previously, the Afghan Taliban facilitated the ultimately unsuccessful negotiations between the TTP and Pakistan.
In the aftermath of the skirmish, the Taliban government denied that the attack came from inside the country, stating that no one is allowed to use the land of Afghanistan to launch attacks against the country’s neighbors.
President Biden signed an executive order releasing half of the US-held Afghan central banks assets. Purportedly, a part of them is to be used for humanitarian aid to the Afghan people. It remains to be seen if the other half might be used to settle legal claims with the 9/11 victims’ families.
Such a move caused outrage In Afghanistan, where some citizens renounced it as a “cruel act and a betrayal of the rights of the Afghan people.”
The US drone strike against Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia is the first military action against the Al-Qaeda affiliate in East Africa since the collective self-defense strike carried out in cooperation with the Federal Government of Somalia on August 24th, 2021. The attack took place to the northwest of the capital Mogadishu in response to Al-Shabaab’s assault on the allied security forces. While, reportedly, 3 militants were killed, no civilians were harmed.
According to some resources, AFRICOM (United States Africa Command) has not provided updates regarding the death toll, including among civilians, of the drone strikes since September 2021. This raises concerns about the transparency of US counter-terrorism operations abroad.
An Afghan terrorist detonated a suicide vest in a Shiite mosque during the Friday Prayer in Peshawar — a northwestern Pakistani city close to the border with Afghanistan. Before entering the mosque, the attacker (recent investigation reports two assailants, though unsure) shot two police guards. According to the estimates, at least 58 people were killed, about 200 wounded. The Islamic State in Khorasan (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility for the attack.
Later the same day, Shiite groups across the country organized protests in condemning the attack and blaming the government that failed to protect its nationals.
A Palestinian attacker was shot dead after stabbing two Israeli police officers at a gate to the Old City in Jerusalem. The victims suffered moderate wounds and were transported to a hospital.
The assailant was a member of Hamas based in the Gaza enclave. The radical group called the attack a response to alleged “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinian nationals in Jerusalem.
U.S. prosecutors launched plea discussions on the stalled case of terrorists held in Guantanamo following the 9/11 attacks. Among the five detainees is a self-described mastermind of the attacks’ plot.
The case has been mired for nearly a decade. If convicted, the terrorists will face a death sentence.
Four civilians were killed in a knife and car-ramming attack in Beersheba, southern Israel. Two armed passers-by shot the Arab assailant.
The attack came ahead of the U.S.-Middle East Summit and at the time when major Muslim, Jewish, and Christian holidays converge in the highly religious but unstable region.
A senior Yemeni military official — Brigadier General Thabet Gawas — was killed in a car bombing along with three of his aides in Aden, Yemen’s temporary capital. The General had been fighting the Houthi movement for several years and participated in numerous operations that expelled the rebels from the southern region of Yemen.
The defense ministry called the incident a terrorist attack but did not provide further details.
Fire erupted at Saudi Aramco’s oil storage facility in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia after the Houthi rebels attacked it. The market’s response caused a spike in the already-unstable oil prices. Likewise, the attack came on the last day of Formula One 2022 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix in Jeddah.
Six Nigerian nationals were found guilty of establishing a cell in the UAE to help attract funding for Boko Haram. The men were placed on the U.S. sanctions list.
Two ISIS terrorists shot to death two Israeli officers in Hadera, Israel. Members of the Israeli counterterrorist force who happened to be nearby helped to take down the assailants ISIS immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Notably, this is the first terrorist act by ISIS in Israel since 2017. It came right as the foreign ministers of the U.S, Egypt, Bahrein, Morocco, Israel, and the UAE met at a “historic summit” to discuss the East European crisis, the US-Iran nuclear deal, and the relations in the region. The meeting provoked Palestinian opposition. Unsurprisingly, the Gaza-based Hamas dubbed the attack a “natural and legitimate response” to Israel’s crimes against Palestinian nationals.
At least four people were killed and one wounded during an attack by a Palestinian shooter in Bnei Barak and Ramat Gan, just outside of Tel Aviv. Notably, the shooter who was neutralized by local police was from the West Bank where he served a sentence in 2013 for arms trafficking and terrorist group membership.
The assault comes in a string of radical attacks in recent weeks. Israeli Prime Minister immediately called an emergency meeting of top security officials to deal with the rapidly deteriorating situation.
Following the assault, the Israeli Prime Minister commented that the country was “currently dealing with a new wave of terrorism.”The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades — the armed wing of the Palestinian Fatah movement — took responsibility for the attack, calling it a response to the Negev summit. The summit was held between the United States, Israel, and several Arab countries earlier that week.
The country’s intelligence services said the attacker had no known links to militant organizations. The Palestinian terrorist group Hamas praised the attack. In response to the shooting, the Israeli Prime Minister said security forces were given
A bomb blast killed at least 6 and wounded over 10 people in a boys high school in Kabul. Notably, the incident took place in a Shiite Hazara neighborhood.
Hazara are an ethnic and religious minority of Afghanistan historically oppressed by some member of the Pushtun majority and Sunni militant groups.
No one claimed the attack, but most previous ones in the neighborhood were carried out by ISIL affiliates.
Four explosions tore through the northern cities of Afghanistan and Kabul. The first blast happened in a Shiia mosque, which is mostly attended by Hazara people, in Mazar-i-Sharif. Notably, the Hazara minority are often targeted by the Sunni ISIL. The explosion killed at least 33 people and wounded 87. ISIL claimed the attack.
The second blast came from a vehicle-bomb planted near a police station in Kunduz. 4 people were left dead and 18 injured. ISIL also claimed the attack.
The same day, a roadside mine killed 4 Taliban members in eastern Nangarhar province, and an explosion in Kabul wounded 2 children.
Following the Thursday attacks, a bomb blast tore through a mosque in Kunduz, killing 33 people and wounding 43.
No group claimed responsibility, though ISIL is the main suspect.
The attack is another deadly incident in a string of violence punctuating the ISIL-Taliban conflict.
7 people were killed and 4 wounded by an ISIL militant who attacked a Ramadan gathering hosted by a former U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces spokesman.
Later, ISIL claimed the assault. ISIL increased the number of terrorist acts in northeast Syria following the assassination of the group’s leader by the U.S. special forces in February 2022.
At least 3 people were killed and 4 injured in a suspected terrorist attack in Elad, Israel. One of the assailants used a rifle, while the other attacked with an ax and a knife. Two days later two suspected Palestinians were apprehended.
The act took place on Israel’s Independence Day.
On June 9th Israeli military killed one man and injured another six in Halhoul in the occupied part of the West Bank. Israeli forces say they were conducting “counterterrorism activities to confiscate terror funds.” The Palestinian foreign ministry called the killing an “execution” and called out to the international community for protection of the Palestinians.
This was one of an increasing number of violent incidents in areas where Palestinians seek statehood. Since January Israeli raids have killed at least 47 Palestinians and Arab attacks have killed 19 people in Israel and the West bank.
Palestinian militants fired a rocket toward the city of Ashketon in southern Israel, breaking months of relative calm in the area. Israel intercepted the rocket and responded by air strikes aimed at a number of Hamas terror targets in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has not taken responsibility for the rocket attack.
In May 2021 Israel and Palestinian militants fought an 11-day war and violence in the region has been relatively low since. The attack on June 18th did not seem to ignite further escalation, however, violence has been on the rise in the occupied West Bank and Israel in recent months.
The United States military says it killed Maher al-Agal, one of the top 5 ISIS leaders, in a drone strike. The strike was carried out in Jandaris in northwest Syria and “seriously injured” another senior ISIS official. Al-Agal is said to be responsible for developing ISIS networks outside of Iraq and Syria.
US Central Command (CENTCOM) says that ISIS continues to be a threat to the U.S. and its allies and that the killing of Maher al-Agal “will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out global attacks.” This was the second ISIS leader that was killed in relation to U.S. military operations in 2022. In February top leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi blew himself up during a U.S. military raid which forced ISIS to name a new leader.
The Togolese army admits to killing seven children near the border to Burkina Faso. The children were on their way home from celebrating Eid al-Adha when they were tragically mistaken for “jihadists” by the Togolese military.
Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe has put the region in a state of emergency since the middle of June as a part of his efforts to contain armed groups spilling over from Burkina Faso.
Six people were wounded and seven assailants killed in an attack on the Kati Base outside Bamako. Katiba Macina, a branch associated with Al-Qaeda, said in a statement that they were responsible for the attack. The attack was aimed at the Malian government and its head of defense.
Katiba Macina is a branch of local Al-Qaeda affiliate Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) which has been active in the Sahel region. The group has been present in Mali since early 2021.
During an Israeli air raid two Palestinian men were shot and killed in Nablus, a city in the occupied West Bank. While senior Palestinian officials condemned the attack, the Israeli army said it was “neutralizing the terrorists inside the house and on its roof.”
In recent months Israel has launched frequent raids in the occupied West Bank, now occurring almost daily.
Reports on the War on Terror
For more information and the latest developments on the War on Terror, please see the list below for a collection of reports written by our correspondents.
On the night of October 12th, 19-year-old Juraj Krajčík opened fire at Tepláreň bar, a popular Bratislava LGBTQ+ venue, murdering two people and wounding another.
The international community continues to use development aid as a bargaining chip in a bid to influence politics in Afghanistan and protect the human rights of the Afghan people. This approach is not working. A new approach should focus on the agents of change in the country: young people.
On June 29, 2022, Belarus’s Investigative Committee announced the completion of a probe into Dzmitry Ravich, Dzyanis Dzikun, and Aleh Malchanau, three activists from the
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