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Fresh Attacks: 8 Soldiers 10 Boko Haram Members Killed In Yobe, Borno |RN

Olaleye Aluko, Abuja

 

More than 10 soldiers were allegedly killed after the Islamic State West African Province faction of the Boko Haram insurgents attacked army bases in Kangarwa, Malumfatori and Arge areas of Borno State and Buni Gari, Yobe State, between Saturday and Monday.

The attacks started with Buni Gari on Saturday and spread to Malumfatori on Monday.

On Tuesday, our correspondent learnt that  ISWAP fighters were also sighted in Mattari village in the Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State, with fears of impending attacks on military locations in Jakana and Benishek.

In Malumfatori on Monday, our correspondent learnt that there was a fierce gun battle between government forces and the terrorists, who attempted to overrun the military base in the town.

Eight soldiers were allegedly killed when the terrorists attacked Buni Gari after which the terrorists reportedly stole a gun truck and destroyed an armoured vehicle.

The Nigerian Army confirmed that eight of its troops were killed in Buni Gari, noting that over 10 Boko Haram fighters were also killed by troops.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Sani Usman, said, “It is not true that Boko Haram is holding any area. Indeed, eight of our gallant troops paid the supreme price, while over  10  Boko Haram terrorists were killed by the troops during the encounter at Buni Gari.”

A military source confirmed Tuesday’s attacks by Boko Haram, saying the insurgents were believed to be having the upper hand in Kangarwa and Arge.

He said, “ISWAP has claimed responsibility for the attacks on Buni Gari and Arge. They seem to have taken over some communities in the two areas. Also in Mattari village in the Konduga LGA, Boko Haram fighters were seen gathering on Tuesday.

“The location is a few miles to Jakana or Benishek. There are military facilities in both areas.”

Meanwhile,   the number of casualties of the Malumfatori gun battle between the insurgents and troops could not be confirmed by our correspondent as of press time. However, unconfirmed reports said both sides recorded deaths and injuries.

The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali,  on Monday, directed that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai,  to remain in the North-East until the security situation in the region improves.

Dan-Ali also said  President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the “emergency procurement of critical equipment” for the armed forces to be more efficient.

“The CDS and the army chief were also mandated to effect changes in the operational commands of Operations Delta Safe, Lafiya Dole, Sharan Daji and Awatse. This is to enable them to meet up with the current threats and security challenges in their areas of responsibility,” the minister’s Public Relations Officer Col Tukur Gusau said.  (Punch)

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ISIS In South Africa: A Breeding Ground For Financing Global Terrorism |RN

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Following the kidnapping of a British couple in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this month, the British government has warned its citizens of a legitimate terror threat from extremists linked to ISIS in South Africa (SA). The British report highlighted the security risk posed by South African nationals who have travelled to Iraq, Syria and Libya to receive training and indoctrination, and the danger they present upon their return. The seriousness of this report emphasizes the result of the ongoing presence of violent extremist elements in SA in recent years, and the circumstances that have allowed it to blossom.

Among the most salient impediments to effective recognition and prevention of terror activity in SA is the popular opinion that such threats simply do not apply, as terrorists have not yet carried out attacks within the country borders. In June 2016, for example, both the U.S. Mission to SA and the U.K. warned their citizens against attacks targeting places where foreigners congregate, by ISIS militants. Responding to the alert, SA Minister of State Security David Mahlobo claimed that, “we remain a strong and stable democratic country and there is no immediate danger posed by the alert.” With that said, representatives of EXX Africa, a specialist intelligence consultancy, alleged that “there is ample evidence to suggest that South Africa is a long-established and preferred thoroughfare for international terrorist organizations.” Tellingly, Mahlobo himself acknowledged that “a growing number of South Africans were associating themselves with terrorist organizations.” In fact, SA has been moving steadily upwards in the Global Terrorism Index, which measures incidents of terrorism geographically, climbing from a rank of 140 out of 162 in 2010, to 47th place in 2017.

These troubling facts were officially recognized by the SA government who, in November 2016, publicly stated that ISIS has been using SA as a “logistics hub and hideout,” and that the government has identified foreign militant “sleeper cells” in their territory. A 2016 report by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), pointed to several Islamist fighters with South African passports who had been apprehended. This included top al-Qaeda militant Fazul Abdullah Mohammed (who was killed in 2011), and the infamous “White Widow,” Samantha Lewthwaite, who was married to one of the terrorists responsible for the 7/7 bombings in London, and lived in Johannesburg under a false SA passport while an Interpol warrant sought her arrest. ISS has further pointed out that SA is so appealing to ISIS because recruits tend to come from average-income families with little need for additional support, and the ease with which South Africans can travel without arousing suspicion.

Among the strongest indications of the simmering extremism that has taken root in SA can be observed from 2015 reports that 140 young South Africans had travelled to ISIS territory to join the group.Al-Shabab

Though initially dismissed, 11 of these youth returned home months later to share their experiences. This provided a chilling example of so-called “terror-travel,” and served as evidence of this phenomenon making its way from established areas of extremism such as in Northern Africa and the Maghreb, to sub-Saharan Africa. As South Africans would inevitably comprise the largest number of extremist fighters in the south, it is rapidly becoming the most important country in the region for ISIS, especially now that their bases in Iraq and Syria have been effectively destroyed.

If one were to take a step further back, however, the truth is much more disturbing. While there has not been a serious terror attack in SA since the bombings by People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (PAGAD) in Cape Town in the 1990’s, there are continuous links between SA and violent, extremist international organizations. Since the 1990’s, Iran-backed Hezbollah has run training camps in SA, and there is proof of al-Qaeda’s presence there dating to 1997, taking advantage of the lax counter-terrorism policy in the country. Hussein Solomon, a senior professor at the University of Free State’s Political Studies Department, has elaborated on the key roles SA has played in global terror networks since the 1990’s. According to Solomon, “the 2007 London bombers got their orders to launch their attack from a terror cell in Johannesburg,” and that an al-Shabaab terrorist attack against U.S. and U.K. teams and supporters during the 2010 World Cup, was only foiled “after a cellphone call from South Africa was intercepted by US authorities monitoring al-Shabaab in Somalia.”

Another serious risk confronting SA is the threat of seemingly legitimate organizations who are aligned with and support the activities of violent extremist groups. One of the most compelling examples is the Al-Aqsa Foundation. The Foundation is registered with the Department of Social Development with a focus on providing aid to Palestinians, and is an ardent and vocal supporter of the BDS SA movement, an organization that claims to be a peaceful, non-violent movement, but are actually strong supporters of extreme Islamic groups and violence against citizens that oppose their cause. In SA, the BDS movement serves as a breeding ground for youth indoctrination and recruitment towards such support, dominantly on university campuses.

BDS SA activists at WITS

The Foundation is also a known member of the Union of Good, a charity coalition headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader and internationally wanted terrorist Yussuf Qaradawi. In 2003, the Foundation was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and U.K. due to its fundraising for Hamas, which continues to happen in SA in conjunction with the BDS SA movement. Moreover, Germany banned it in 2002, the Netherlands froze the group’s assets in 2003 and Denmark has charged three members of the Foundation with supporting terrorism. Even in SA, the Foundation ultimately had its activities with two South African banks suspended in 2013 for funnelling money to the extremist group, Hamas.

al-shabab

It may, therefore, be understood that, though SA has managed to avoid being a theatre for violent extremist and militant Islamist attacks, it has served as a “launch site” for some of the most radical international organizations. The lack of modern legislative mechanisms to confront such activities, and the absence of dedicated task forces to uproot them, have left SA vulnerable to exploitation, particularly by organizations registered in SA under false pretence, which claim to be “peaceful, and non-violent”. However, one should recognise that funding terror falls in the same category as committing it. As long as SA remains a popular thoroughfare for the logistical, financial and strategic elements of terror planning, the risks of an attack in-country, and of the continued recruitment of South African youth to violence, will only increase. (Israellink.co.za)

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France Passes Bill To Close Mosques Preaching Hatred |The Republican News

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France’s parliament has adopted an anti-terrorism bill that will bolster police surveillance powers and make it easier to close mosques suspected of preaching hatred.

Before the vote, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb described France as being “still in a state of war” as authorities struggle to deal with the threat posed by foreign jihadists and homegrown militants.

Since 2015 more than 240 people have been killed in France in attacks by assailants who pledged allegiance to, or were inspired by, Islamic State.

The latest attack took place on Sunday when suspected Islamist Ahmed Hanachi cried ‘Allahu akbar’ before fatally stabbing two women outside Marseille’s main train station.

Legislators in the lower house adopted the bill by a margin of 415 to 127.

“Lawmakers realise that today’s threat is serious and that we must protect ourselves against terrorists. This must be done in a way that balances security and freedom,” Collomb told reporters after the vote. “This text will help protect French people.”

Emergency powers that were put in place after the Bataclan theatre attack in November 2015 have already played a significant role in enabling intelligence agencies to disrupt plots, according to the French government.

The new legislation would see many of those emergency powers enshrined in law, with limited oversight from the judiciary.

The interior ministry, without approval from a judge, will be able to set up security zones when there is a threat.

Security forces will be able to restrict the movement of people and vehicles in and out of these zones.

They will also have the power to carry out searches inside theses zones.

The interior ministry will have more power to shut down mosques and other places of worship if intelligence agencies believe religious leaders are inciting violence in France or abroad or justifying acts of terrorism.

Police will also have greater powers to raid private property if they have judicial approval, and there will be an increased ability to impose restrictions on people’s movements, including via electronic surveillance tags if they are regarded as a threat to national security.

A parliamentary commission will now seek compromise on amendments put forward by the Senate and Assembly before a second reading and definitive vote, expected in mid-October.

President Emmanuel Macron, painted by rivals as weak on security during his election campaign, has already acted to bolster counter-terrorism efforts, creating a task force in June to improve coordination among France’s multiple intelligence agencies.

The anti-terrorism bill has met little resistance from the public, with people still on edge after the series of Islamist-related attacks, but rights campaigners say it will curb civil liberties.

“France has become so addicted to the state of emergency that it is now injecting several of these abusive measures into ordinary law,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

It added that French parliament members had chosen the politics of fear over the protection of hard-won civil liberties and urged parliament and the judiciary to closely monitor how the government uses its new power.

Nonetheless, some conservative opponents of Macron say the draft legislation, which is not as all-encompassing as the state of emergency currently allows, does not go far enough.

“We need to rearm the state,” right-wing lawmaker Eric Ciotti said in a radio interview before the vote. He called for authorities to have greater powers to expel foreigners who threaten public safety. (Mailonline)

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Barcelona Attack: Five Terror Suspects ‘Wearing Suicide Vest’ Shot Dead In Cambrils

By Barney Henderson and James Rothwell and Hannah Strange and Chris Graham

 Terror returned to the streets of Europe on Thursday when a van ploughed into a crowd of people in Barcelona, killing at least 13 and injuring more than 100 others.Footage of the scene showed dozens of bodies sprawled across the pavement in Las Ramblas, a street popular with tourists. Two men, one Spanish and one Moroccan, were arrested but police said the driver of the van was still at large.

In the early hours of Friday morning, in the town of Cambrils, 70 miles away,  at least six people were hurt when “alleged terrorists” drove into pedestrians before being shot dead by security forces.

The five attackers in the Audi A3, who were wearing bomb belts, were shot dead, police said. The bomb belts were detonated by the force’s bomb squad.

Slide 1 of 30: Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, center, speaks during a meeting following the attack of Barcelona where a van ploughed into the crowd, killing 13 persons and injuring over 80 on the Rambla in Barcelona, on August 17, 2017.

Two of the injured in Cambrils was in critical condition, emergency services said.

“The alleged terrorists were in an Audi A3 and apparently knocked down several people before coming across a police patrol and a shoot-out ensued,” said a spokesman for the regional government of Catalonia, where Cambrils is located in Spain’s northeast. One of the suspects was said to be brandishing a knife.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the Barcelona attack as Joaquim Forn, Catalonia’s police chief, warned: “Unfortunately the number of fatalities will likely rise.”

On Thursday night it was confirmed that a three-year-old child was among the victims and 15 people were in a critical condition.

Liam Searle, 22, from Chichester, West Sussex, said he was skateboarding along the road at around 5.15pm with his headphones on when he heard “massive bangs and thuds” which he thought were gunshots.

“I realised it was the van next to me hitting people,” he said. “The van had stopped right next to me. That’s when two men got out and I ran for my life.”

Driss Oukabir, a 28-year-old of Moroccan origin, was suspected of having rented the van used in the assault. Spanish reports later said he had handed himself into police, who were investigating whether his brother had stolen his documentation.

Two explosions at a house in the town of Alcanar, 120 miles south of Barcelona, on Wednesday night, were last night linked by police to the attack. Officers said the residents had been preparing explosives. At least one person died and more than 16 were injured in what was initially thought to be a gas explosion.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, condemned the “terrible” Las Ramblas assault and said Britain stood firmly with Spain against terrorism.

 Donald Trump, the US president, tweeted that the US “will do whatever is necessary to help”, adding: “Be tough & strong, we love you!.”   The Spanish royal family described the attackers as “assassins, criminals who won’t terrorise us”, while Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish prime minister, said the attack was “jihadist terrorism” requiring a global response.

In the aftermath of the attack, metro and train stations were closed amid reports that the attackers had entrenched themselves in a nearby Turkish restaurant.  This was dismissed as false by Spanish police, who advised tourists to stay in hotels.  British tourist Steve Garrett was at a nearby market.

“A large number of people ran into the market, lots of screaming, lots of shouting,” he said. “We ran into a bakery with four or five others and ran straight upstairs. An enormous wave of people went through the market.”

A man was shot dead after running over two police officers at a checkpoint on the outskirts of the city later in the evening. Police said last night it did not appear that the incident was linked to the van attack.

This was the eighth terror attack using a vehicle in Europe in the past three years, following the Nice assault in July 2016 that killed 86 and attacks on Westminster Bridge and London Bridge earlier this year that left four and eight people dead. Spain has not been hit by a serious terrorist incident since 2004, when Islamist militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding more than 1,800. But the country’s reputation as a tourist hotspot has raised the terror risk.

Earlier this year, jihadists warned that they would be seeking to take their campaign of death and destruction to popular areas in the Mediterranean.

The CIA warned Spanish police two months ago that Las Ramblas was a potential target, reports said.

“The CIA had already warned the Mossos d’Esquadra [police] that Barcelona might be a terrorist target … They even put the focus on the Ramblas,” El Periodico stated.             (The Telegraph)

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Islamic State Says United States ‘Being Run By An Idiot’ |The Republican News

 

A picture illustration of an Islamic State flag© REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo A picture illustration of an Islamic State flag Islamic State said on Tuesday the United States was drowning and “being run by an idiot”.

In the first official remarks by the group referring to President Donald Trump since he took office, spokesman Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer said:

“America you have drowned and there is no saviour, and you have become prey for the soldiers of the caliphate in every part of the earth, you are bankrupt and the signs of your demise are evident to every eye.”

“… There is no more evidence than the fact that you are being run by an idiot who does not know what Syria or Iraq or Islam is,” he said in a recording released on Tuesday on messaging network Telegram.

Trump has made defeating Islamic State a priority of his presidency.

U.S.-backed forces are fighting to retake Islamic State’s two biggest cities – Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.

“Die of spite America, die of spite, a nation where both young and old are racing to die in the name of God will not be defeated,” al-Muhajer said.

Trump is examining ways to accelerate the U.S.-led coalition campaign that U.S. and Iraqi officials say has so far been largely successful in uprooting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.

The loss of Mosul, Islamic State’s last major stronghold in Iraq, would deal a major defeat to Islamic State.

U.S. and Iraqi officials are preparing for smaller battles after the city is recaptured and expect the group to go underground to fight as a traditional insurgency.

REUTERS

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