Posts filed under ‘Counter Terrorism’

COUNTER TERRORISM: Air Strikes on Khorosan Group, Australian Attack Thwarted

Syria Air Attack.

Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr. details air strikes in Syria at a Pentagon press briefing Sept. 23. (Defense Dept. photo by Casper Manlangit)

Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr. details air strikes in Syria at a Pentagon press briefing Sept. 23. (Defense Dept. photo by Casper Manlangit)

U.S. and Middle East partner nation forces launched air strikes Monday night and early Tuesday morning (September 22 and 23) against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The United States also launched air strikes into Syria to attack the Khorasan Group, a terrorist organization believed to planning an attack against the West, Defense Department officials said.

“We’ve been watching this group closely for some time,” Army Lieutenant General William Mayville told a Pentagon press briefing Tuesday afternoon (September 23). Mayville said U.S. intelligence officials believe the Kkorasan group “was in the final stages of plans to execute major attacks against Western targets and potentially the U.S. homeland,” he added.

U.S. Navy ships in the Arabian Gulf launched a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles at Khorasan compounds and other targets in Syria. Khorasan Group, an offshoot of al Qaeda has attempted to recruit Westerners to serve as operatives or infiltrate back to their homelands.

The three waves of air attack were directed at ISIL and Khorasan Group. The first consisted of Navy cruise missiles. The second wave employed F-15 Strike Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-22 Raptor fighter jets as well as B-1 bombers and numerous unmanned aircraft. The final wave consisted of F-18 Hornet jets off Navy carriers and more F-16 Fighting Falcons. In the third wave, U.S. aircraft were joined by forces and planes from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Mayville the air attacks were part of a sustained campaign that “should be thought of in terms of years” to “dislodge and eventually remove ISIL from Iraq.” 

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Beheading Plot

Australian security personnel have arrested 15 people in the cities of Sydney and Brisbane for an alleged plot to carry out random public beheadings in those two cities.

Australia (CIA World Fact Book)

Australia
(CIA World Fact Book)

Officials said a man believed to be the senior Islamic State (IS or ISIL) leader in Australia “is understood to have made the instruction to kidnap people in Brisbane and Sydney and have them executed on camera,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported. The video was then to be sent back to ISIL’s media unit, where it would be publicly released,” according to the Australian broadcaster.

Earlier in September, the Australian government raised the terrorism threat level to the second-highest warning in response to the domestic threat posed by ISIL/ISIS.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the country’s domestic spy agency said the threat had been rising over the past year, particularly in recent months, mainly due to Australians joining the ISIS/ISIL movement to fight in Syria and Iraq, according to Thompson Reuters.

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September 24, 2014 at 1:29 am Leave a comment

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: Green Berets Cross Florida sound the stealthy way

Infiltration Operation.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Henson

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Henson

U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers, towing their equipment, swim across Santa Rosa Sound in Northern Florida.

We rarely get to see photos of Green Berets or other Special Operations Forces (SOF) in action – whether in training, as they are here, or in the field.

These troops are from the 7th Special Forces Group, which is based at nearby Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and focuses on Central and South America as well as the Caribbean. In this exercise they were honing their waterborne infiltration skills before conducting additional missions that included hostage rescue and sensitive site exploitation.

As one can see in the photo below, these swimmers aren’t wearing wet suits or even swim suits. They make their way through the water in their combat uniforms – boots and all.

To see more photos of this exercise, click here.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Henson

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Bryan Henson

Meanwhile, the Italian Army has reconstituted its Special Forces units into a single command, Comando Forze Speciali dell’Esercito (COMFOSEs), according the IHS Jane’s website.

The new command, officially activated September 19 at the Gamerra barracks in Pisa, has been in development for the last 18 months under Brigadier General Nicola Zanelli, who was appointed September 1, 2013, IHS Jane’s said.

September 22, 2014 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

COUNTER TERRORISM: New Threats, New Challenges, New Response UPDATE

9/11 2001 and 2014

UPDATES with additional Obama remarks, criticism by Sens. McCain and Graham, Middle East coalition agreement and maps of Iraq and Syria by the Institute for the Study of War

Burning World Trade Center towers Sept. 11, 2001 (National Park Service)

Burning World Trade Center towers Sept. 11, 2001
(National Park Service)

It’s the 13th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania that left nearly 3,000 dead, hundreds injured and untold numbers traumatized by an surprise attack from a little known, but vicious, enemy.

Now America is gearing up to battle extremist terrorism again.

In a televised address from the White House Wednesday night (September 10) President Barack Obama outlined plans to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the violent militant group that calls itself the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The extremist group has emerged from the Syrian civil war to rout Iraqi military units and seize a swath of northern Iraq. The group, also known as ISIL (for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has killed captured prisoners, threatened non Sunni Muslims like Shia and Yazidi with extermination, killed two American journalists in gruesome videos and forced Christian Iraqis to convert to Islam, flee the country or be killed.

“ISIL is not “Islamic.”  No religion condones the killing of innocents.  And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim,” Obama said in his 14-minute address. He added: “And ISIL is certainly not a state.  It was formerly al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border.  It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates.  ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple.  And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”

The president outlined a strategy for eliminating ISIS, which critics claim has taken too long to evolve and doesn’t go far enough. Obama said he was sending 475  more troops to Iraq to serve as advisers and trainers of Iraqi forces. That would bring the number of American troops there to more than 1,500 — just a few years after the United States withdrew combat troops from the war-shattered country. Obama also promised more airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL in Syria as well as Iraq, a step he has declined to take in the past. Since August, the United States has launched 150 airstrikes against ISIS/ISIL targets in Iraq. The United States has also been dropping cargo pallets of food, water and other relief supplies to Iraqi refugees hiding in the mountains.

Iraq Situation Report by the Institute for the Study of War. (click to enlarge)

Iraq Situation Report by the Institute for the Study of War.
(click to enlarge)

“Moreover, I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are.  That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq.  This is a core principle of my presidency:  If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven,” Obama said, noting U.S. actions against al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia. He also stressed that the additional forces will not have a combat mission. “We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq,” he pledged.

But if ISIS/ISIL is left unchecked it could pose a treat to the Middle East and beyond, including the United States. American intelligence agencies believe that thousands of foreign nationals, including Europeans and some U.S. citizens have flocked to Syria over the last three years to fight against the Assad regime and other rebel groups. There is concern that those fighters, now battled-tested and exposed to extreme radical ideology, could return to their home countries and launch terrorist attacks. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson made that point back in February.

Obama called on Congress to authorize and fund the training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels. He also said the United States will work with partner nations to redouble intelligence and counter terrorism efforts to prevent a terror attack by ISIS/ISIL in America. Lastly,Obama to keep support relief efforts for the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homes to avoid persecution by ISIS/ISIL. Obama pledged to head a coalition of partner nations to battle the threat. “Already, allies are flying planes with us over Iraq; sending arms and assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Syrian opposition; sharing intelligence; and providing billions of dollars in humanitarian aid,” Obama said.

Syrian Situation Map by the Institute for the Study of War. (click on image to enlarge)

Syrian Situation Map by the Institute for the Study of War.
(click on image to enlarge)

Shuttle diplomacy by Secretary of State John Kerry has born fruit. Leaders from Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the Gulf Cooperation Council – an alliance of the Sunni Arab Gulf nations, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – have pledged to “stand united” against “the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,” according to The Guardian website.

But the British newspaper notes there are several thorny issues such as whether the Assad regime will allow coalition warplanes into its airspace to bomb ISIS/ISIL and whether U.S. advisers will enter Syria with the retrained rebels. There are also questions about what role pro-Assad Russia will play as well as Shia-majority Iran, which sees ISIS/ISIL as a threat on its border.

September 11, 2014 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (September 5, 2014)

Dawn’s Early Lights

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Erica Stooksbury adjusts the cockpit lighting controls as the sun rises following a humanitarian airdrop mission over Amirli, Iraq, Aug. 31, 2014. Two C-17s dropped 79 container delivery system bundles of fresh drinking water totaling 7,513 gallons. In addition, two U.S. C-130s aircraft dropped 30 bundles totaling 3,032 gallons of fresh drinking water and 7,056 meals ready to eat

Stooksbury is a C-17 Globemaster III pilot assigned to the assigned to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron.   

September 5, 2014 at 1:34 am Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA Update 2: Al Shabaab Blitz; Ebola Crisis, Niger Drone Base, Rwanda Verdict, Bastille Day

Somalia Islamists Attacked.

Updates with al Shabaab leader’s death confirmed.

Islamist militants in Mogadishu, Somalia.(Photo copyright, Kate Holt, IRIN)

Islamist militants in Mogadishu, Somalia.(Photo copyright, Kate Holt, IRIN)

The U.S. military today (Friday, September 5) that the leader of the African Islamist extremist group, al Shabaab, was killed in the drone missile attack in Somalia earlier this week.

Witnesses said drones fired at least four missiles Monday (September 1) in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia, destroying two al Shabaab vehicles, according to the Voice of America website. On Tuesday (September 2), the Defense Department disclosed that the head of al Shabaab was the target of the attack.

 “We have confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of al-Shabaab, has been killed,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby announced today in a press statement that did not detail how Godane’s identity and death was cestablished. “Removing Godane from the battlefield is a major symbolic and operational loss to al-Shabaab. The United States works in coordination with its friends, allies and partners to counter the regional and global threats posed by violent extremist organizations,” the published statement continued.

Previously, Kirby said U.S. special operations forces using manned and unmanned aircraft destroyed an encampment and a vehicle using several Hellfire missiles and laser-guided munitions,” according to a transcript of Tuesday’s Pentagon press briefing.

It was the most aggressive U.S. military operation in nearly a year, coming as the President Barack Obama’s administration grapples with security crises in Iraq, Syria and Ukraine, the Washington Post noted. Al Shabaab, which means “the youth,” in Arabic, is a jihadist movement affiliated with al Qaeda that started in Somalia “a chronically unstable country on the Horn of Africa,” and has grown into a regional terrorist group that has carried out attacks in Uganda and Kenya — including last year’s Nairobi shopping mall attack that left scores of dead and injured. Al Shabaab has also cooperated with another al Qaeda branch in Yemen, the Post added.

Al Jazeera reported that the jihadist group confirmed it had come under attack but would not Godane’s situation. The attack comes just a few days after African Union troops and Somali government forces launched a major offensive aimed at seizing key ports from al Shabaab and cutting off key sources of revenue, said Al Jazeera. The Associated Press reported that the air strikes killed six militants but it was not known at the time if Godane was among the dead.

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Widening Ebola Threat

Health workers treating Ebola patients in Africa. (World Health Organization photo by Christine Banluta)

Health workers treating Ebola patients in Africa. (World Health Organization photo by Christine Banluta)

The head of an international medical aid, group, Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF, Doctors without Borders), says the world is losing the battle to contain the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

Military teams should be sent to the region immediately if there is to be any hope of controlling the epidemic, MSF’s international president Dr. Joanne Liu told the United Nations Tuesday (September 2), painting a stark picture of health workers dying, patients left without care and infectious bodies lying in the streets, The Guardian website reports.

Although alarm bells have been ringing for six months, the response had been too little, too late and no amount of vaccinations and new drugs would be able to prevent the escalating disaster, Liu told U.N. officials, adding: “Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it.”

Ebola has spread to a fifth West African nation. Senegal’s health minister, Awa Marie Coll Seck has confirmed that country’s first Ebola case. On Friday (August 29), she said a young man from Guinea with the deadly disease had crossed into Senegal, where he was promptly put in isolation, according to Al Jazeera. Other countries reporting Ebola cases include: Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

The current outbreak, which first appeared in Guinea, has killed more the 1,900 people across the region since March, according to the World Health Organization, the BBC reported. At least 3,000 people have been infected with the virus and the World Health Organization has warned the outbreak could grow and infect more than 20,000 people.

Meanwhile, fear and ignorance is blamed for the violent — and unhelpful reaction is some places in the region. In Liberia, one of the three hardest-hit nations, there have been clashes between soldiers and residents of quarantined slum area in the capital, Monrovia. In Nigeria, residents in some areas are protesting against the idea of building isolation units in their neighborhoods. The Voice of America reported  Friday (August 29) that people have taken to the streets in the northern city of Kaduna, protesting plans to convert sections of a local clinic into an Ebola treatment center. In many parts of Nigeria residents say they fear Ebola more than Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group that has killed thousands of people.

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2nd Niger Drone Base UPDATE

Map of Niger (CIA World Factbook)

Map of Niger
(CIA World Factbook)

After months of negotiations, the government of Niger in West Africa has authorized the U.S. military to fly unarmed drones from the mud-walled desert city of Agadez, according to Nigerien and U.S. officials, the Washington Post reports.

The previously undisclosed decision gives the Pentagon another surveillance hub — its second in Niger and third in the region — to track Islamist fighters who have destabilized parts of North and West Africa. It also advances a little-publicized U.S. strategy to tackle counterterrorism threats alongside France, the former colonial power in that part of the continent, the military newspaper said.

The United States started drone surveillance flights out of Niamey, Niger’s capital, in early 2013 to support French forces fighting Islamist militants in northern Mali. Washington always intended to move the operation further north and now the details have been worked out to relocate the flights to a base in Agadez, about 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Niamey, said a U.S. defense official speaking on condition of anonymity, Defense News reported.

The U.S. Air Force also flies unmanned aircraft out of Chad to help locate hundreds of school girls kidnapped by the radical Islamist group, Boko Haram, in Nigeria.

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Rwanda Verdict

A South African court has found four of six suspects charged with trying to assassinate a former Rwandan Army general guilty of attempted murder. Two other men accused in the 2010 attack on Faustin Nyamwasa in Johannesburg, South Africa that left him wounded.

Nyamwasa fled Rwanda in 2010 after a dispute President Paul Kagame, al Jazeera reported. According to the an Al Jazeera reporter, Nyamwasa does not blame the four who were convicted, saying they were “used” by the Rwandan government. According to Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, the trial judge was convinced the murder attempt was politically motivated by people in Rwanda. Kagame denies involvement in the attack.

Police broke up another murder plot against the general in 2011 and early this year armed men attacked his Johannesburg house in a separate incident.

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Africa at Bastille Day UPDATE

African troops march in Bastille Day parade in Paris July 14. (Photo: SCH Sébastien Lelièvre/SIRPA Terre)

African troops march in Bastille Day parade in Paris July 14.
(Photo: SCH Sébastien Lelièvre/SIRPA Terre)

Troops from several African nations that served as peacekeepers during the French intervention in Mali were among the contingents July 14 during the annual Bastille Day parade in Paris. Among the troops in this photo, all wearing the blue United Nations beret are soldiers from Chad, Niger, Senegal and Nigeria.

(Click on the photo to enlarge. To see more photos of the 2014 Bastille Day military parade in Paris, click here.

September 3, 2014 at 11:51 pm 1 comment

ADVISORY

On Vacation

Boulder, Colorado at  sunset (4GWAR Photo by John M. Doyle)

Boulder, Colorado at sunset
(4GWAR Photo by John M. Doyle)

Your 4GWAR editor is away in Colorado on vacation.

The 4GWAR blog will resume Saturday, August 23 with the FRIDAY FOTO (a little bit later than usual).

 

August 20, 2014 at 10:55 pm Leave a comment

AFRICA: Mali President on Northern Region’s Woes

Completely Lawless.

Mali's President Keita at an African-European summit in Dakar in April (Republic of Mali website)

Mali’s President Keita at an African-European summit in Dakar in April
(Republic of Mali website)

Before heading home from the U.S.-Africa Business Forum that ended Wednesday (August 6), President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

Keita told an overflow crowd at CSIS Thursday (August 7)  that international intervention – especially military logistics — had helped bring his country back from the brink following a 2012 military coup and rebellion in Mali’s northern deserts by nomadic Tuaregs and radical Islamist militants. But the threat to Mali, the region and the world isn’t over, Keita warned. “We’re at a strategic nexus. This is a completely lawless region,” Keita said, according to simultaneous translation of his remarks given in French.

Compounding the problem in the north — an area bigger than Texas — a flow of heavy weapons out of neighboring Libya, and Tuareg mercenaries who know how to use them, after the fall of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

Mali and its neighbors (CIA World Factbook)

Mali and its neighbors
(CIA World Factbook)

For more on Keita’s talk at CSIS, see an UPDATE to yesterday’s AROUND AFRICA blog posting.

 

 

 

August 7, 2014 at 12:50 pm Leave a comment

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