COUNTER TERRORISM: Pakistan Crackdown; Air Strikes on ISIS/ISIL; al Shabab Leader Nabbed [UPDATE]
Islamabad Gets Tough.
Ten days after a Taliban attack on an army-run school that left 148 people dead – most of them children – Pakistan’s government is giving the military a blank check for two years to do whatever it takes to finish the country’s protracted battle with Islamic terrorists.
According to a McClatchy Newspapers website, the government response was broadened from the Taliban Movement of Pakistan — which has waged a bloody insurgency since July 2007 — to all jihadist and sectarian militants on Pakistani soil. That decision echoes Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s December 17 vow, not to differentiate between so-called “good and bad Taliban,” McClatchy reported.
The military’s nationwide campaign, launched in June with a massive offensive in Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas, is being closely watched by the United States and other countries to see whether it includes Pakistan-based militant groups that have repeatedly attacked neighboring Afghanistan and India, according to McClatchy.
On December 17 – the day after the Peshawar school massacre – Prime Minister Sharif ordered an end a to six-year moratorium on capital punishment. Pakistan’s interior ministry has approved the execution of 400 people convicted of terrorism offenses prior to 2008. In all, there more than 3,000 convicted terrorists on death row — all of whom are to be hanged. Six people have already been handed, the BBC reported.
An additional 6,000 suspected terrorists and their supporters have been targeted for arrest in the nationwide crackdown and summary trial in military courts.
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Strikes on ISIL/ISIS
The U.S. military and its allies carried out 12 airstrikes against ISIL/ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria on December 27, Reuters reported.
Six strikes near the Syrian town of Kobani on the Turkish border destroyed Islamic State buildings, fighting positions and vehicles, according to the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Public Affairs office. In Iraq, targets including buildings, vehicles and an Islamic State refinery were hit in six strikes near Al Asad, Mosul, Falluja, Al Qaim and Baiji, it said.
The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve — which aims to eliminate the ISIL/ISIS terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.
Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the United States, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In Syria, coalition airstrike partners include the United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to the Combined Join Task Force.
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Al Shabab Leader Captured
Authorities in Somalia say they have captured one of the most wanted commanders of the African Islamist terror group, al Shabab.
Zakariye Ismail Hersi was captured in a raid Saturday morning (December 26) in the town of El Wak near the border with Kenya, according to the Voice of America.
General Abbas Ibrahim Gurey, the commander of Somali government troops in the southern Gedo region, told VOA’s Somali service that authorities received a tip from members of the public that al-Shabab suspects were hiding in a house. Gurey said that Hersi was captured with his secretary and without a struggle.
In June 2012, the U.S. put a $3 million reward for the capture of Hersi, describing him as an associate of former al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane. Godane was killed in a U.S. airstrike in September.
Hersi’s capture comes after militants with the group, which is linked to al Qaeda, attacked a large African Union base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, last week (December 25). Three Ugandan soldiers and a civilian were killed, said CNN. Al-Shabaab has said that attack was revenge for the U.S. airstrike that killed Godane. The State Department had offered a $7 million reward for information on Godane’s location.
Entry filed under: Africa, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Pakistan, Special Operations, Technology, Unconventional Warfare, Weaponry and Equipment. Tags: Africa, Africa Union, Canada, Counter Insurgency, counter terrorism, International Crime, ISIL, ISIS, Pakistan, Somalia, Topics, Ugandan troops.