FALLOUT FROM ‘THE ARAB SPRING’
Willie Williams – ‘Armagideon Time’
‘A lotta people won’t get no supper tonight / A lotta people going to suffer tonight / ‘Cause the battle, is getting harder / In this Iration, it’s Armagideon.
‘A lotta people won’t get no justice tonight / So a lot of people going to have to stand up and fight yeah…’
A catch-up on events from the last three months affecting Afrikans from across the Sahel and the Middle East and North Africa regions and their diasporas. We’re five years into the ‘Arab Spring’, whether you want to say it started in the refugee camps of the Saharawis of the Polisario Front in Oct or in Tunisia when Mohammed Bouazizi, a young market vendor set himself alight after the police confiscated his goods and slapped his face in Dec 2010, it was meant to usher in a period of greater social freedoms, a reduction in unemployment and an end to political repression but it looks like although we thought it couldn’t get any worse circumstances have conspired to mean we’ve got even bigger problems now. Some details such as perpetrators being ‘previously known to the security forces’ may seem repetitive but they are there to highlight certain points from which we leave you to draw your own conclusions.
A Metrojet Airbus A321M commercial Russian plane taking holidaymakers and businesspeople to St Petersburg in Russia from Sharm-el-Sheikh exploded in the Sinai Desert killing all 224 people. It was believed a bomb was planted onboard by the Sinai Province, an ISIL / Daesh affiliated grouping responsible for several recent bombings and shootings across Egypt. It is thought the plane was meant to explode in Turkish airspace but had taken off two hours late and so was still over Egyptian territory. The black boxes have been found but no distress call was sent indicating the plane broke up instantly in the air giving the pilots no time to radio for assistance.
The plane slowed by 186mph and dropped about 5,000ft in altitude a minute before it crashed 23 minutes into the flight, having just reached its cruising altitude of around 32,000ft. An American infrared satellite had detected a heat flash over Sinai at the time of the incident, which could indicate a bomb or some other device may have exploded. Sinai Province said the downing of the plane was “in response to Russian airstrikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land”.
The Irish Aviation Authority, where the plane was registered, said it had conducted an annual review of the aircraft certifications in April / May 2015 and found “all certifications were satisfactory at that point in time”. Concerns about the airworthiness of the plane heightened after it emerged that Metrojet had not paid its employees for at least two months. Representatives of Kogalymavia, which owns the airline, insisted there were no financial problems that could have influenced safety.
Passengers were evacuated with only their hand luggage to allow additional screening of their suitcases with promises of their hold luggage being returned within 2-6 weeks. Egypt’s civil aviation minister said the more than 120 tons of luggage being left behind by British passengers has disrupted operations at the airport. Several airlines from various countries have stopped flights into Sharm-el-Sheikh or all of Egypt until the New Year at the earliest and are offering refunds or flights to alternative destinations. Egyptian officials have insisted Sharm el Sheikh airport is safe and Britain should have waited for the results of the crash investigation before halting the flights. Searches were carried out on hotels in the resort and additional checks made on their staff to see if any had sympathies with Sinai Peninsula. Many staff are now on unpaid leave with few flights and people scared off from visiting. Tourism employs one in nine workers in Egypt, and in Sharm el-Sheikh nearly 80,000 depend on it for their livelihood.
There were calls for passengers on flights globally to face either advanced imaging technology, being swabbed or frisked without the traveller knowing which one would apply to them. The crash happened just before Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was due to meet British PM David Cameron in Downing Street. There was concern no criticism was being made of al-Sisi’s repression toppling of Mohamed Morsi and the repression against the Muslim Brotherhood and many of the original 2011 Tahrir Square protestors. A plane operated by Thomson had to take evasive action to avoid what pilots thought was a missile on 23 August in the airspace around Sharm el-Sheikh.
The Sinai Province is the successor to a previous militant organization known as Ansar Beit al-Maqdis or Ansar Jerusalem, a name that translates as Supporters of the Holy House / Jerusalem. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis formed in Egypt and the Gaza Strip in 2011 following the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak. It was declared a terrorist organisation by the U.S. State Department in October 2014 following attacks in Northern Sinai that killed 33 security personnel. In November 2014, the group pledged allegiance to the ISIL central command in Syria and changed its name to the Sinai Province.
The group has between 1,000-2,000 fighters and carried out more than 700 attacks mostly on Egyptian army and police targets in the first half of 2015. The group has expressed an interest in ending the Egyptian blockade of Gaza and there are fears that they may try to take control of the Gaza Strip. ISIS has also said it intends to overthrow Hamas, the militant Islamist group currently controlling Gaza. The Egyptian army has been demolishing buildings and forcibly evicting residents along the border with the Gaza Strip in a bid to stop what it says it coordination between militants in Sinai and Gaza. The influence of Sinai Province is spreading to Egypt’s Western desert and they have also claimed attacks in Cairo.
Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant seems to be adopting Al-Qaeda’s strategy of the ‘airline spectacular’. ISIL /Daesh also seems to be expanding its focus from establishing a caliphate in the Middle East to increasing attacks using small arms, grenades, pipe bombs, knives and machetes in cities across the world. There is an increasing focus on attacking people in bars, theatres, offices, restaurants and public transport who may have no direct link to opposing them with other Muslims, non-Christians, shoppers, drinkers and co-workers being targeted. This makes their operatives harder to counter and detect. Their expertise in social media and digital technologies mean it no longer needs a huge spectacular attack killing large numbers of westerners to gain publicity and they have bypassed professional news editors or repressive states who would deny them publicity.
FRANCE & BELGIUM
Eight or nine gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people and injured 352 in multiple attacks across Paris on the evening of Friday 13 November. Bars, restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and the Stade de France where the French national football team were playing a friendly against Germany were targeted. The Le Carillon restaurant and the Bataclan are in the same neighbourhood as the Charlie Hebdo offices attacked in January. Five days later three of the attackers died in a shootout and siege in the Saint Denis suburb.
President Francois Hollande has declared a three-month state of emergency across France. The borders were meant to be closed but one of the suspects managed to pass through three police checks on the road to Belgium after the attacks. A Brussels suburb, Molenbeek, was seen as the centre of Islamist attacks in both France and Belgium in the last few years. Several of the Paris attack suspects came from there with one of two brothers owning a bar/nightclub there. It is believed Abdulsalem Salah has crossed six European borders and has now entered Syria to link up with ISIL / Daesh. Iraqi intelligence warned of imminent assaults by Islamic State on countries fighting against them in Iraq and Syria, “through bombings or assassinations or hostage taking in the coming days”, a day before the Paris attacks. The New York Times, citing French and US officials, reported that the attackers communicated “at some point beforehand” with Isis members in Syria.
ISIL / Daesh supporters have adopted the #ParisIsBurning hashtag. Questions need to be asked about how suspected terrorists and their affiliates were able to travel back and forth not just across European borders but to the Syrian war zone. There are reports some were on the security services’ radar and had been approached to become informers. As with the London attacks on 7 July 2005 - when former British policeman Peter Power was behind a so-called ‘training exercise’ that was to take place at the same time and in the same places as the actual attacks - a mock attack was scheduled for Friday 13 November in Paris.
The attack comes as France heightened security measures ahead of a major global climate conference out of fear of violent protests and potential terrorist attacks. Local elections were also planned for Sun 6 Dec which saw substantial increase in support for the right-wing Front National. In June, France launched a terrorism investigation after police found a decapitated body in a gas factory in the south-eastern city of Lyon. And two months later three Americans and one Briton were awarded medals for bravery after they overpowered a heavily armed gunman on a train in France. France’s military is bombing Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq and fighting extremists in Africa, and extremist groups have frequently threatened France in the past. French authorities are particularly concerned about the threat from hundreds of French Islamic radicals who have travelled to Syria and returned home with skills to stage violence. Scores of people have been arrested in nearly 200 raids across France since the attacks although how many will eventually be charged, or even convicted, with anything terrorist-related or if it is just a shakedown we will have to wait and see.
Most of the Belgian arrests were made in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, which proportionately has supplied more fighters for ISIL than any other in Europe. Other Islamist attackers connected with there include Ayoub el-Khazzani, 25, whose attack on a high-speed Thalys train in August was narrowly averted, and Mehdi Nemmouche, who killed three people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014.
The Serbian interior ministry said a Syrian passport found near the body of one of the suicide bombers was used by a refugee entering the country on 7 October, four days after being registered on the Greek island of Leros. It was not known whether the passport was real or fake. The ministry said the 25-year-old man, whom they identified as AA but was named by the Serbian newspaper Blic as Ahmed Almuhamed, had requested asylum. A Greek newspaper, Protothema, said he was travelling with a second man, Mohammed Almuhamed, and reproduced what it said were their travel documents.
Amid calls from several countries for the EU’s borders to be radically tightened in the face of the huge influx of refugees and migrants, the bloc’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, stressed at a G20 summit in Turkey that the “man responsible for the attacks in Paris ... he is a criminal, and not a refugee and not an asylum seeker.”
In Germany, authorities were looking into a possible link to a 51-year-old Montenegrin man recently stopped with a car full of arms and explosives. The Bavarian Interior Minister, Joachim Herrmann, said officers found automatic weapons, dynamite, hand grenades and ammunition in the man’s car, along with a mobile phone and car GPS system indicating he was en route to Paris. Announcing three days of national mourning and a national state of emergency. 10,000 troops were deployed across France in the country’s first national state of emergency since 1961, and armed police and soldiers patrolled the streets of Paris. France has adopted a policy of spreading out migrants through the villages and towns and so now the authorities don’t know where the next attack may come from.
Many of those named as the killers in Paris had been on various security service radars with several previously known to have travelled to Syria to fight for ISIL / Daesh. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 27, from a Moroccan family, was considered the mastermind of the attacks. Abaaoud reportedly joined ISIL in Syria in 2013 and appeared in a video driving a van dragging mutilated bodies to a mass grave. He is said to have recruited his younger brother, Younes Abaaoud, into the terror group aged 13. He was known as Abu Omar Soussi or Abu Umar al-Baljiki, appeared frequently in ISIL propaganda where he was pictured heavily armed and advocating violence. His family had previously announced that he was dead but police now think the family were misled and the claim was false. He was well known to police in Belgium who described him as the head of a terrorist cell al-Battar Katiba, or “the sword of the prophets” in Verviers which was dismantled last January after a shootout in which two jihadists were killed. Abaaoud was sentenced in absentia to 20 years along with 32 other jihadists. Despite this he seems to have regularly crossed borders between Europe and Syria without hitch.
He is also said to have carried out several armed robberies with one of two French brothers alleged to have been involved in Friday’s attacks. A French jihadi arrested after returning from Syria this summer reportedly told police Abaaoud had told him to attack a concert hall. French prosecutors said Sami Amimour, 28, identified as one of the suicide-vest attackers at the Bataclan theatre, was also known to the authorities. According to justice officials, Amimour was arrested in October 2012 with two other youths on suspicion of trying to travel to Yemen to fight. He was held and questioned for four days by the Central Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DCRI) before being charged. He was later given probation. Just under a year later he told his parents he was going to the South of France for a holiday but called them a week later from Turkey and said he was about to cross the Syrian border.
Another of the Bataclan attackers is believed to be Ismael Omar Mostefai / Moustafai, 29, who was of French-Algerian-Portuguese descent. Moustafai’s identification is believed to have come from a severed thumb found at the concert hall. Moustafai had a police record for ‘petty theft’ it was reported but he was never jailed. The security services deemed him to have been radicalised in 2010 but he was never implicated in a counter-terrorism investigation. His radicalisation was alleged to have occurred after attending a mosque near Chartres, from his home town of Courcouronnes, 25 miles from Paris.
Foued Mohamed Aggad, 23, was from Strasbourg and was named as the third killer at the Bataclan concert hall. He was known to the security services since at least 2013 and although he had travelled to Syria he was free to move across borders.
French national Bilal Hadfi, 20, also lived in Belgium and was known to police. Bilal Hadfi lived in social housing Brussels City, before moving to the municipality of Forest in July. His movements were followed by police who considered him a radical.
Ahmad al-Mohammad was one of the two suicide bombers outside the Stade de France football match. The 25-year-old is said to have travelled via Greece and Serbia. He was born in Idlib, Syria, according to his passport, which was used to match his fingerprints.
Audio has emerged of the final exchange between police and Hasna Aitboulahcen, 26, who died during the siege in Saint Denis in northern Paris along with her cousin, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, on 18 Nov.
Before her death officers called out to her, yelling several times for her to identify herself. She then raised her hands in the air while hiding her face. But she then pulled her hands away and police yelled for her to show them again or they were going to shoot. The gunfire then resumed. Police used around 5,000 rounds during the raid. Abaaoud’s body was found in the complex “riddled with bullets”, the prosecutor’s office said. He was identified using skin samples.
Abdulsalem Salah was the driver of a black Seat from which two gunmen, including his brother Ibrahim, emerged to machine gun people on the terraces of bars in the 11th and 12th arrondissements. After dropping his brother just before his self-inflicted death, Abdulsalem and an unidentified “ninth” attacker, drove east to Montreuil just outside the city boundary where the Seat was found abandoned on 14 Nov.
He then appears to have doubled-back into Paris. Mobile telephone records show that he called two friends in Brussels from the Barbes area of the 18th arrondissement, not far from the Gare du Nord, at 10.30pm. He asked them to come and fetch him and they arrived at around 5am. Abdulsalem, who ran Les Beguines bar in Molenbeek, apparently ditched his suicide vest on the outskirts of Paris where he was at large for seven hours after the attacks. Somehow he got through three police checks on his way back to Belgium. Their car was pulled over by gendarmes on the A2 motorway, near Cambrai, later that morning. Abdulsalem showed the officers his Belgian ID card and was allowed to go on his way because his connection with the Paris massacres did not emerge until later that day when it was found that cars used in the attacks had been hired in his name.
The two young Belgians who came to fetch him, Hamza Attou and Mohammed Amri, are in custody.
Belgian officials say they deny all other connection with the Paris atrocities. In its first statement claiming responsibility for the Paris attacks on 14 Nov, ISIL said that there had also been attacks in the 18th arrondissement but none occurred there. On 17 Nov a black Clio with Belgian number plates was found abandoned in the 18th and it had also been hired by Abdulsalem. There are questions as to whether he was supposed to have carried out attacks which never happened? If he had another car why did call friends in Belgium to make his getaway? It is also unclear what happened to the “ninth” attacker captured by security cameras with Abdulsalem in the Seat on boulevard Voltaire. There are reports he crossed six European borders in the days after the attack despite being on the ‘Most Wanted’ list and is now in Syria. No-one knows if he is in ‘trouble’ for failing to carry out his mission and leaving a whole heap of forensics and DNA on items and weapons left behind or if he was welcomed back given the high profile that the Paris attacks received.
Another brother picked up along with several family members after the attacks was released without charge and appealed repeatedly for Abdulsalem to surrender in the days after the attacks. Brussels locked down its Metro, government buildings, schools and tourist sites for several days in the aftermath fearing an imminent attack. Three quarters of the shops in some areas have been closed. The Belgian interior minister has reportedly said that he wants a headcount in the Molenbeek area of Brussels, where Abdeslam lived, as the authorities do not know exactly who lives there.
Russia has sent a puppy to France in a show of solidarity against terrorism, following the attacks in Paris. The puppy - named Dobrynya - is intended to replace French police dog Diesel, killed during the Saint Denis raid.
The United States carried out an airstrike against the leader of the Islamic State in Libya on Fri 13 Nov. The strike was aimed at Abu Nabil, also known as Wissam Najm Abd Zayd al Zubaydi. He is an Iraqi national who led Qaeda operations in western Iraq from 2004 until 2010. He later moved to eastern Libya to lead Islamic State operations there. Pentagon officials said they believed the strike had killed Abu Nabil, though it would take a few days to confirm. It marked the first time the United States has targeted a senior Islamic State operative outside Iraq or Syria. Libyan news media reported that a senior Islamic State leader, Abu Ali al-Anbari, had personally visited Sirte, stirring speculation about the main group’s plans for its local branch.
American and British Special Operations forces have for months been conducting secret surveillance missions in Libya to monitor the rise of fighters aligned with the Islamic State known as the Tripoli Province and centered in the mid-coastal city of Sirte. They were behind the kidnap and capture of Egyptian Coptic Christians earlier this year. Please note: Sirte was originally a stronghold of Col Muammar Gaddafi and there was no hint of ISIL in that city during the days when he was charge. Islamic State fighters are also in Darnah, a militant stronghold east of Sirte, although the group’s affiliate there was routed earlier this year in a dispute with militant rivals. With no functioning government, Libya provides a variety of havens and hiding places for Islamic State militants, so airstrikes or other military action on Sirte would merely push them elsewhere. And unlike Syria and Iraq, Libya is a failed state surrounded by weak ones.
A recent BBC report featured interviews with several Ghanaians now living comfortably back in Accra in a district known as the Libyan Quarter. They spoke of how they had built their houses during the Col Gaddafi era when they were welcomed to Libya for work. A mansion belonging to Sheikh Swala had 30 bedrooms now many houses remain unfinished. Eliyas Yahya, the local imam, said: “You kill someone to solve the problem and now the problem is worse. Why kill Gaddafi?”
Karim Mohamed, a tailor who had spent three years in Libya, lived in a six-bedroom house that he had built himself in Accra using the money he had earned in Libya. He said: “In Libya, everybody was happy. In America, there are people sleeping under bridges. In Libya, never. There was no discrimination, no problems, nothing. The work was good and so was the money. My life is all thanks to Gaddafi. He was the messiah of Africa.”
Before Gaddafi was ousted, he officially warned the European Union that if his regime were to collapse, as many as two million migrants would arrive on Europe’s shores, creating chaos. Amadu, who had been unable to afford a proper Libyan visa, made the journey through the Sahara desert. They ran out of water and many of his group died but he made it to Libya and found work as a tiler. By the time war broke out in 2011, he had saved $3,500 (£2,300). He remembers standing on the docks in Tripoli when the first shots were fired, forcing him to run for cover. He was confined to his room for several days before he managed to escape back to Ghana, but he was unable to bring his hard-earned money with him. “There is nothing for the youth here in Ghana. After Gaddafi, we are full of crisis. Youth unemployment is sky-high and there is nothing for us to do. Either we end up living a life of crime because it is the only way to make money, or we try and make it to Europe.”
The others agreed. “Now it is Europe, Europe, Europe, wherever on earth you go. Some people are going to Brazil, if they can afford it. But for everyone else, it’s Europe,” said Eliyas.
UN peacekeepers say they saw at least 27 bodies in the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital Bamako following a militant attack. Al Mourabitoun, a Jihadist group affiliated with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, claimed responsibility. Around 10 men armed with guns and grenades entered the hotel at around 7am local time. They opened fire on security guards before raiding the building. More than 150 people were originally taken hostage by the attackers. The Malian forces moved “floor by floor” rescuing people, assisted by elite US and French troops, witnesses said. Among the dead are thought to be a Belgian local government official, Geoffrey Dieudonne, who had been in Mali for a convention.
Some hostages were released by the gunmen after being made to recite verses from the Koran. One of the freed hostages was the Guinean singer Sékouba ‘Bambino’ Diabate. The hotel was popular with airline staff, Western tourists and local dignitaries. Turkish Airlines said seven of its staff were among the hostages, but five including two pilots had managed to escape. Air France said it had 12 crew in the hotel but all were safely “extracted”. As a precaution it cancelled flights to and from Bamako. The hostages also included 20 Indians, seven Algerians, six Americans and two Germans who have all been rescued along with three of 10 Chinese nationals. The Rezidor Hotel Group said the hostages were 140 guests and 13 employees.
Mali’s President cut short a visit to Chad where he was attending a regional summit. President Francois Hollande has said France will “yet again stand firm and show our solidarity” with its former colony and sent extra troops to boost the 1,000 who remain there.
China will join the war on ISIL after four of its citizens were killed by Islamist terror groups in two separate attacks. The vow comes after ISIL claimed to have killed Beijing man Fan Jinghui, 50, alongside Norwegian national Ole Johan Grimsgaard-Ofstad, 48, who were feared to have been taken hostage in September. ISIL had earlier published pictures of the two men in two full-page posters which listed the men as ‘for sale’ in its propaganda publication Dabiq. The latest issue of the group’s in-house magazine featured images purporting to show the two men shot to death after being “abandoned by kafir nations and organisations”.
The three Chinese citizens killed in the hotel attack were executives from the state-owned China Railway Construction Corp , the company said in a statement on its website. Zhou Tianxiang and Wang Xuanshang, general manager and deputy general manager of the company’s international division, and Chang Xuehui, general manager of its West Africa division, were killed, the statement said. The Foreign Ministry said four other Chinese nationals were among the rescued hostages. Neither China and Norway have joined the US-led coalition and Russia in carrying out air strikes in ISIL held territory in Syria and Iraq.
Both Al Qaeda and ISIL are vying to claim attacks but there are differences in strategy, especially when most of the victims are Muslims. Al Qaeda’s global leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, called on the group’s affiliates to avoid such wholesale killings, saying they tarnished the movement and hindered recruiting. In Syria, the Nusra Front has sought partnerships with other insurgent groups that the Islamic State prefers to crush, and it has not carried out massacres with the scale or regularity of the Islamic State. Al-Qaeda has typically embedded itself in local movements and helped them fight while also planning attacks against the “far enemy” in the West. The Islamic State set out to establish and rule a caliphate, and to gain power from that claim of legitimacy. In Syria, that put the two at odds. The Nusra Front made toppling President Bashar al-Assad its priority and sees the formation of a caliphate now as premature and a distraction.
Last year, the French government announced their decision to use the Arabic-derived term “Daesh” to replace their previous name, EIIL (L’Etat Islamique en Irak et en Syrie). The four competing names are among a handful of those used by ISIL, which was set up in 1999 by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant who allegedly ran a terror training camp and orchestrated bombings and beheadings in Iraq. His group was initially known as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, before changing to the simpler al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) after pledging allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s network in October 2004. Since then, the group has operated under numerous guises until its current leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared it the Islamic State in Iraq (Isi) in 2006, adding the “and al-Sham” to make “Isis” in 2013.
Islamic State (IS)
In June 2014, the militants announced they were dropping the last two letters of their acronym and instead should be referred to as the Islamic State in recognition of their self-declared caliphate.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)
The original name for the group in Arabic was Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham. The first three words translate to the Islamic State of Iraq, while “al-Sham” refers to Syria and the wider surrounding area. However, the acronym poses an issue for many companies and brands around the world already using the name Isis, often named after the ancient Egyptian goddess of the same name. We at Nubiart acknowledge Isis as the Greek name for the original Kamitian Ast / Aset and so will not use this version as there is no link, even tangential, between Wahabbism and Afrikan spirituality.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
The undefined region around Syria is historically referred to as the Levant (an archaic French phrase for the “lands of the rising sun), including modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan. Until Wednesday, this was the main name used by British Government ministers to refer to Isis. The Obama administration has said it uses the acronym ISIL as it believes the word “Levant” to be a more accurate translation from the Arabic name.
Daesh, sometimes spelled DAIISH or Da’Esh, is short for Dawlat al-Islamiyah f’al-Iraq wa al-Sham. Many Arabic-speaking media organisations refer to the group as such. There is an argument it is a pejorative term, deriving from a mixture of rough translations from the individual Arabic words, notably the Arabic verb دعس, which means to tread underfoot or crush. Arabic-speakers use the word Daesh because it is “merely the exact Arabic equivalent to the English acronym Isis or the more technically accurate Isil”.
NIGERIA / NIGER / CHAD / CAMEROON
Chad has declared a state of emergency in the Lake Chad region after attacks by Boko Haram militants from Nigeria. The decision came after at least two people were killed in a suspected Boko Haram suicide bomb attack. Ministers say sweeping powers to control people’s movements are needed because the area, which borders Nigeria, is targeted by the militants.
Chad has been instrumental in helping Nigeria retake most of the areas Boko Haram had seized in northern Nigeria. But in the last few months, the group has intensified attacks in remote areas around Lake Chad. Boko Haram is suspected of involvement in the killing of at least two people in a village in Chad on Sunday and three Nigerian refugees in northern Cameroon on Monday.
The state of emergency will give the governor of the region the authority to ban the movement of people and vehicles, search homes and recover arms, the government announced following an extraordinary cabinet meeting.
Recently three suicide attacks hit the island of Koulfoua on Lake Chad, killing at least 27 people at a weekly market. At least 80 others were injured in the blasts. A police spokesman said that three women had carried out the attack. Aside from Chad, the Islamist group’s attacks have spread from north-eastern Nigeria, its traditional stronghold, to the neighbouring countries of Niger and Cameroon. Chad is also host to a new regional force set up to tackle the Nigeria-based militant Islamists. Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria agreed to establish the 8,700-strong force, but it has yet to start operations in earnest because of reported funding difficulties. According to Amnesty International, at least 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since 2009, when the group launched its violent uprising to try to impose Islamist rule in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram declared a caliphate in the north-east but has seen most of the territory retaken by the military this year.
Attacks by Islamists continue in Tunisia with one of the most recent being the killing of 12 policemen. Despite elections having been held the instability continues but it is rarely reported only because of the carnage that has taken place in other countries now puts it in the shade.
Anonymous has begun publishing the names and addresses of alleged ISIS recruiters. The masked hacking group declared war against the Islamic State in the Iraq and Levant / Daesh after the Paris attacks, vowing to silence extremist propaganda and expose undercover operatives. It has leaked details of at least five men it claims are ISIL recruiters, as well as taking down 5,500 Twitter accounts of people based in countries including Afghanistan, Tunisia and Somalia.
The UN has unanimously backed a French call to redouble action against Islamic State in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. The resolution adopted by the UN Security Council said IS “constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security”. And it expressed the council’s determination “to combat by all means this unprecedented threat”.
The Vote for War
David Cameron won the Commons vote on extending airstrikes in Syria. Tory sceptics, such as Dr Julian Lewis, the chair of the Defence Select Committee argued, that it was not possible to defeat ISIL without troops on the ground, and there were no credible moderate ground forces capable of defeating ISIL, thus requiring the west to accept that Assad will have to remain in power in the medium term.
Three days after the vote Muhaydin Mire, aged 29, stabbed three people with a machete in Leytonstone Tube station in London. A video apparently of the incident and posted on Twitter shows a large pool of blood spattered across the ticket hall as the knifeman is Tasered by a police officer. He shouted ‘this is for Syria’ before launching the attack members of the public near the ticket barriers at Leytonstone station. The case is being investigated by the Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Command. Muhaydin, 29, of East London, appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with the attempted murder of a 56-year-old man.
Twitter users are making the hashtag #YouAintNoMuslimBruv trend to show their opposition to the attack. A bystander shouts to him: “You’re not a Muslim bruv, you’re an embarrassment.”
Muhaydin was reported to police by his own family three weeks before the incident as his behaviour gave them cause for concern. Scotland Yard admitted it had been involved but insisted “there was no mention of radicalisation”. A statement from the police force said: “The conversation related entirely to health related issues and the family were therefore correctly referred to health services for help.”
Muhaydin was on a hospital ward for three months in 2007 and the family had recently asked for him to be sectioned. “He was saying odd things, talking nonsense and saying that he was seeing demons. The local authority couldn’t help him because they said he was no harm to people and no harm to himself,” said his brother Mohamed. Muhaydin was due to fly to Somalia the night after the attack to be with his mother in the hope his mental health would improve.
A stolen BMW with Belgian license plates sparked a security alert in central London on Saturday. Three men were arrested after police, with helicopters, ambulances and a fire engine all attending, evacuated a busy London thoroughfare. Blackfriars Road and St George’s Circus were closed to the public as officers cordoned off the area and appeared to be warning nearby residents to “stay away from the windows”.
A poll purporting to show that one in five British Muslims had “sympathy for jihadis” was constructed by calling people with “Muslim surnames” in an effort to complete an affordable survey of opinion in the week after the Paris terror attacks. Survation, the polling company used by notoriously racist paper The Sun, said it had picked out likely respondents using the help of an academic expert on naming, a method that rival polling companies said did not necessarily amount to a representative sample of the British Muslim population. Survation eventually distanced themselves from the tone of The Sun’s reporting in one of the rare cases of pollsters publicly opposing their own ‘research’. Record numbers have complained to the press industry watchdog over the article. The front page story was linked to a column piece by former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie, headlined “This shocking poll means we must shut door on young Muslim migrants.”
A mass shooting at a public health centre in San Bernardino, California, left 14 people dead and 21 injured. The shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, both later killed by police, are said to have taken their six-month-old daughter to the home of Farook’s mother. They told family members they had to go to a doctor’s appointment. At least two of the weapons used in the shooting were bought legally but the couple had an arsenal of weaponry in their home. Farook and Malik fired 65-75 rounds during the initial shooting. They had 1600 bullets in their possession after they died in a gun battle with police and more than 3,000 rounds were later found inside their home, according to the San Bernardino Police. Three pipe bombs were found attached together at the Inland Regional Center but they failed to detonate. Twelve pipe bombs were found at their home. The pipe bombs were based on a design found in Inspire magazine, an online publication run by Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
The attack took place at a Christmas party on Wednesday for employees of the San Bernardino public health department, at the Inland Regional Centre, which provides services for people with developmental disabilities, Police believe that 28-year-old Farook, an inspector with the department for five years, left the party following a dispute and returned with his wife to carry out the shooting.
Farook recently travelled to Saudi Arabia and returned with his wife who he had met online. It transpires they were both radicalised before they even met each other. Telephone calls between the suspects and others led the FBI to treat it as a terrorist attack. Authorities found two mobile phones that had been crushed in a trash bin nearby the attackers’ home and are closely examining the data they can extract from them. Malik pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIL on Facebook just before the killings. The FBI said it is aware of the Facebook post and it is being investigated.
Malik was born into a Sufi Pakistani family but she grew up in Saudi Arabia until 2007 when she returned to Pakistan to study a pharmacy degree at Bahauddin Zakariya University. A friend said she became more interested in Islamic Studies in 2009 and she would daily travel across Multan to a madrassa that was believed to be espousing the ultra-conservative Wahhabi branch of Islam. She refused to be photographed at the end of her studies believing it to be contrary to her new religious beliefs and to have spoken Arabic much more frequently. She was in the US on a Pakistani passport and a fiance visa that required she get married within 90 days or leave the country. She was interviewed in-person interview and biometric and background checks were made both to get the visa and when she applied for permanent residency in September 2014. She received a permanent resident green card in July 2015 following further background checks by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.
Farook earned $71,230 (£47,500) in 2013 as an environmental health specialist for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. He discussed politics and religion at work and his co-workers had mocked his beard. He had been in touch with people in the Los Angeles area who had expressed extremist views and had also been in contact with people overseas who were “of interest” to the US authorities. Farook travelled to Saudi Arabia in 2013 during the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and returned to the country in July 2014. There was no record of Farook having travelled to Pakistan - where his parents were born.
In the aftermath of the killings Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump called for all Muslims to be barred from entering the United States until the government had control of who was entering the country. This follows on from his suggestion that Muslims should be put in internment camps. He has been widely condemned internationally with 500,000 people signing a petition in Britain calling for him to be barred from the country as a danger to public order. But it should be remembered he is the Republican frontrunner and America has a 400-year history of mad, bad, crazy and wicked despots. That’s how they like them over there.
Islamic State militants say they are responsible for a blast that killed the governor of Yemen’s port city of Aden. Jaafar Mohammed Saad and several aides died when a car laden with explosives was detonated as he drove by. ISIL is opposed to the government and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who have seized much of the country, including the capital Sanaa and has been bombing mosques and killing captives.
Mr Saad was appointed Aden governor in October. The killing of Mr Saad is a blow to Saudi-led efforts to re-establish Aden as a secure base for the government which spent months in exile in Saudi Arabia.
Mr Saad was a significant figure not just as the administrative head of Aden, but for the role he played in driving Houthi rebels out of the port city earlier this year.
Air strikes and fighting on the ground in Yemen have killed more than 5,700 people since the Saudi-led coalition began a campaign to restore the government in March. The UN hopes to organise talks later this month between the government and the Houthi rebels, who support former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. There are accusations the Saudis and United Arab Emirates have used Eritrean land, airspace and territorial waters in its anti-Houthi military campaign in Yemen. Also that Eritrean soldiers have been embedded within UAE forces’. All these would, if true, constitute a violation of UN resolutions. So would Djibouti’s claim that Eritrea is supporting a Djibouti armed rebel group.
The following is a summary of briefings sent out by the Ethiopian Embassy in London in the past two months. It is used for the purposes of comprehensive summary and should not be taken as our support or opposition to any of the individuals or organisations mentioned or an endorsement of the political platform of the current Ethiopian government.
Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke held talks with the AMISOM Force Commander, Lt. General Jonathan Rono to discuss the political and security situation, as well as enhancement of cooperation and bolstering the fight against Al-Shabaab terrorists. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud attended the fourth Arab-South American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Summit discussed ways to enhance cooperation in politics, security, and development. On the way he visited Djibouti and Uganda, where he met President Ismail Omar Gelleh and President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for discussions on security, anti-terrorism and co-operation.
Somalia’s Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke told the Security Council Ministerial Meeting that its support was needed more than ever before “to stand with Somalia against this terror network” of Al-Shabaab and he stressed that putting an end to the conflict in Yemen was “crucial” to prevent some Al-Shabaab members from exploiting their recent shift of allegiance to the Islamic State extremists. Last month, the UN envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said extremist groups including ISIL were taking advantage of the conflict in Yemen and becoming a serious threat. Sharmarke said resolving the crisis in Yemen would go a long way to keeping Al-Shabaab from acquiring support from the Islamic State or using Yemen “as a conduit or launching pad.
An Al-Shabaab suicide attack on the Salafi Hotel in Mogadishu on Sun 1 Nov killed 15 people and left dozens wounded. Those killed in the attack included an MP, the hotel owner, a young journalist and General Abdikarim Dhagabadan, a former Somali military chief responsible for recapturing significant areas from Al-Shabaab. The convoy of the President of the South West Somalia State, Shariif Hassan, travelling between Afgoye and Mogadishu, was twice attacked on Wed 11 Nov - once by an explosive-filled vehicle and then by a landmine attack.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution setting up a UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), to replace the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) on Mon 9 Nov. The UNSOS will provide support for UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the Somali National Army in addition to UNSOA’s previous principal client AMISOM. The council will review UNSOS’ mandate and renew or revise it by 30 May 2016. The Officer in Charge (OIC) of AMISOM, representing the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Major General Fidza Dludlu, said in a press statement that AMISOM looked forward “to an enhanced utilization of resources coupled with added abilities, which will further help AMISOM achieve its objectives, in line with the Mandate, by degrading the enemy further and ensuring that peace and security is ultimately restored in Somalia.” UNSOS will now support the 22,126 personnel of AMISOM as well as 10,900 of the Somali National Army personnel participating in joint operations with AMISOM.
The US State Department announced a $27m bounty for six Al-Shabaab operatives in Somalia on Tues 10 Nov. The bounty on leader Abu Ubaidah who took over in Sep 2014 last year is US$6m; Mahad Ali, Ma’alim Daud and Hassan Afgooye US$5m each; and Maalim Salman and Ahmed Ali, a Kenyan and former chairman of a Muslim Youth Centre in Nairobi, US$3m each.
The UN Security Council has passed a resolution authorizing regional states to establish jurisdiction in trying pirates caught off the Somali coast. This means Kenya, the Seychelles and other neighbours of Somalia should find ways to prosecute pirates, even if suspects are arrested in Somali waters. The decision calls for special courts or joint regional tribunals to handle Somali piracy cases.
Currently 3.2 million people in Somalia currently needed assistance to survive, most internally displaced, living under the constant threat of forced evictions and abuse. Nationwide elections are planned for next year. The United Nations Security Council extended the arms embargo on Somalia until November 15, 2016 at a meeting on Fri 23 Oct when resolution 2244 (2015) was passed by 14 votes with one abstention. The arms embargo on Somalia was imposed in 1992 following the descent of Somalia into civil war following the removal of Siad Barre’s Government. The sanctions were relaxed in 2014, with IGAD and the AU offering their full support to help the Federal Government of Somalia re-build a national army and enable it to fight Al-Shabaab on its own.
The Security Council also extended the embargo against the export of charcoal from Somalia and expressed serious concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Somalia and condemned in the strongest terms increased attacks against humanitarian actors. It expressed concern about continued reports of corruption, diversion of public resources and financial impropriety involving members of the Federal Government Administrations and the Federal Parliament, underlining that individuals engaged in acts that threatened Somalia’s peace and reconciliation process might be listed for targeted sanctions.
The UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (SEMG) had earlier released a report on Somalia and Eritrea’s observance of the sanction regime. On Somalia, the report indicated that, despite the partial lifting of the arms embargo, the Somali National Army remained ill-equipped to fight Al-Shabaab. On the positive side, the SEMG report noted that there had been better reporting on import of weapons, saying “the commencement of the marking and registration of Federal Government of Somalia imports and of weapons held by private security companies represented the most significant development.” However, it noted that “significant gaps remain, however, in ensuring tracking of weaponry and equipment, particularly after their initial distribution to the security forces.” The report indicated that some member states and international organizations failed to report to the UN Committee in charge of oversight of the arms embargo on Somalia. It also noted the exemptions granted to import arms for AMISOM, UNSOM and EU anti-piracy operations. Overall, the report noted that “Violations of the arms embargo continue to be committed in Somalia, whether through the illegal sale or unauthorized distribution of weapons from Federal Government of Somalia stocks or through illegal imports.
The report noted that the environment for illegal weapons flows had been exacerbated by the market created by the conflict in Yemen and increased militarization in parts of Somalia during the course of its mandate. Similarly, it documented the continuing export of charcoal from southern Somalia during the period of its mandate, pointing out that the charcoal trade was a major source of terror finance in Somalia and a major element of the sanction regime. It noted that the implementation of the ban, the displacement of Al-Shabaab from export sites along the southern coast of Somalia from Barawe to Kamboni on the Kenyan border and the emergence of new political and business arrangements in the region have affected the political economy of the trade. Some vessels carrying charcoal had been intercepted and the cumulative effect had been an overall reduction in exports of charcoal from southern Somalia and a decline in the revenue gained from the trade by Al-Shabaab. The SEMG report also said that there was a flourishing illicit sugar trade operating out of the Jubaland Administration into Kenya which was providing a financial lifeline and source of revenue for Al-Shabaab and for Somalia-based militias.
The Security Council, taking note of the final reports of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, and the Monitoring Group’s conclusions on the situation in both Somalia and Eritrea, “reaffirmed its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea respectively”, condemned any flows of weapons and ammunition supplies to and through Somalia in violation of the arms embargo on Somali. It expressed concern that Al-Shabaab continued to pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of Somalia and the region and welcomed “the improved relationship between the Federal Government of Somalia and the SEMG, underlining the importance of this relationship improving further and strengthening in the future. “ It also welcomed “the efforts of the FGS to improve its notifications to the Committee pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning Somalia and Eritrea.” It looked forward “to further needed progress in the future, particularly in relation to post-delivery notifications, [recalling] that improved arms and ammunition management in Somalia is a fundamental component of greater peace and stability for the region”.
The resolution also underlined “the importance of financial propriety in the run up to, and conduct of, elections in Somalia in 2016’” It stressed the need for further efforts to fight corruption, promote transparency and increase mutual accountability in Somalia, “expressing serious concern at reports of illegal fishing in waters where Somalia has jurisdiction, underlining the importance of refraining from illegal fishing, and encouraging the FGS, with the support of the international community, to ensure that fishing licenses are issued in a responsible manner and in line with the appropriate Somali legal framework” It expressed concern over the increasing difficulties in delivering humanitarian aid in Somalia, and condemned in the strongest terms any party obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance, as well as the misappropriation or diversion of any humanitarian funds.
The Representative of the Somalia Government in his statement noted that the Federal Government had “worked tirelessly over the last year to reduce threats to peace and security, and had shown its commitment to compliance with the Council’s resolutions.” He said that in 1992 Somalia had faced civil unrest and later, during a nascent Transitional Government, had lacked federal and regional institutions and financial oversight mechanisms. Today, by contrast, he said, the country had functioning institutions, including the Board of Directors of the Central Bank and the Parliamentary Oversight Committees. There were four legislative instruments relating to public finance management reform pending before Parliament: the audit bill; the public finance management bill; the public procurement, concession and disposal bill; and the anti-money laundering bill and counter-terrorist financing bill. Three years into its Vision 2016, Somalia was revising its constitution and supporting the formation of three interim regional administrations. The latest, for Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle regions, would proceed soon and complete the federalized map of Somalia. That very week, he said, the process to complete the third strand of statehood had begun with the National Consultation Forum aiming to facilitate a citizen-led State-building process.
On the security front, he drew attention to the “sweeping” reforms that committed the Government to building a more integrated and accountable security sector. An upcoming review would include a national threat assessment that would streamline roles, missions and resource allocations. He also said Somalia had significantly improved its compliance with the requirements of weapons and ammunition management notification, reporting and control. Somalia, he said, would like to see further relaxation of the arms embargo. The Somali Representative said that while the Government did not agree with all the Monitoring Group’s findings, it would continue to work with the Group during its next mandate and seek to strengthen their relationship. Indeed, the Government would be pleased to welcome visits of the Group to Somalia on a more frequent basis.
Contact: Kubara Zamani, Afrikan Quest International, PO Box 35165, London, SE5 8WU. Tel: 07811 494 969. E-mail: email@example.com NB: Nubiart Diary can also be read at www.ligali.org
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