Belgium Deploys Troops with Europe on High Terror Alert

Belgium deployed troops in its major cities on Saturday to guard Jewish schools and government buildings, days after police in the country as well as in neighboring France and Germany carried out several counterterrorism operations.

Belgian police raided a group of suspected jihadists on Thursday in which explosives, guns and munitions were seized. A shootout in the city of Verviers left two suspects dead.

Thirteen suspects were arrested altogether and five were charged on Friday with participating in terrorist activities, prosecutors said. Read more “Belgium Deploys Troops with Europe on High Terror Alert”

European Right is Allowing Putin’s Friends to Monopolize Anti-Islamism

By continuing to denounce “Islamophobia” even after the bloody attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, Europe’s mainstream right is allowing nationalists who also sympathize with Russian president Vladimir Putin to monopolize popular resistance against radical Islam.

In France, Socialist Party president François Hollande failed to invite representatives of the far-right Front national to a national remembrance ceremony for those killed by Muslim extremists in attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical newspaper and a Jewish supermarket in Paris last week.

Yet it is the Front that sees its anti-Islamism vindicated by the attacks. Party leader Marine Le Pen, who is more popular than Hollande according to polls, urged the French not to mince words. “This is a terrorist act committed in the name of radical Islamism,” she said. “Denial and hypocrisy are no longer an option.” Read more “European Right is Allowing Putin’s Friends to Monopolize Anti-Islamism”

Suspects in Paris Attack Killed After Two-Day Manhunt

Two brothers suspected in Wednesday’s attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo were killed when police stormed their hideout in northern France on Friday.

A second, separate siege at a Jewish supermarket in Paris ended the same day with the death of one gunman and four hostages.

A hostage taken by the brothers in a print shop in Dammartin-en-Goele, a town northeast of Paris, was recovered safely.

The two were wanted for a bloody attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in which twelve people, including cartoonists and editors of the magazine as well as two police officers, were killed. Read more “Suspects in Paris Attack Killed After Two-Day Manhunt”

Gunmen Kill Twelve at French Magazine Lampooning Islam

Hooded gunmen attacked the Parisian office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday, killing at least twelve, including two police officers and several of the paper’s staff, in what was described as the worst militant attack on French soil in decades.

President François Hollande denounced the attack as one of “indescribable barbarity” and terrorism and pledged the perpetrators would be “hunted for as long as it takes to catch them and bring them to justice.”

A video showed the gunmen leaving the scene after crying “Allah!” In another, they were heard shouting, “We have killed Charlie Hebdo. We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad.”

The men fled in a black Citroen that was later found abandoned by Paris police. Read more “Gunmen Kill Twelve at French Magazine Lampooning Islam”

Gunman Killed in Attack on Canada’s Parliament

A soldier guarding Canada’s National War Memorial was killed in Ottawa on Wednesday before a gunfight broke out in the nation’s parliament. Presumably the same gunman was shot dead by security in the exchange of fire while parliamentarians were minutes away from concluding their weekly caucus meetings in the same building.

Witnesses said they heard dozens of gunshots in the Center Block building where Canada’s House of Commons and Senate meet. A video recorded by a reporter for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading liberal newspaper, showed heavy fire in the building’s central Hall of Honor where a law enforcement official was shot in the leg. Lawmakers and cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, were only meters removed from the scene, meeting with their parties behind closed doors. Read more “Gunman Killed in Attack on Canada’s Parliament”

Arrests Shine Light on Peru Terror Group’s Endurance

“War on terror” has been a convenient turn of phrase for some opportunistic politicians since the turn of the century. However, the news last week that twenty four Shining Path members were seized in connection with Peru’s flourishing cocaine trade is a timely reminder of the country’s arduous struggle against terrorism. This has left an unyielding stain on Peruvian society for over thirty years and has not yet been completely wiped out.

Shining Path, or El Sendero Luminoso, is a Maoist guerrilla movement that led what it called a “people’s war” against Peru’s “bourgeois” democracy in the 1980s in an attempt to achieve a pure communist state.

What started with the burning of ballot boxes, during the first election after twelve years of military rule, grew into a brutal and unshakable conflict that claimed nearly 70,000 victims. Read more “Arrests Shine Light on Peru Terror Group’s Endurance”

Planner Benghazi Attack Formally Designated Terrorist

Sixteen months after Islamist extremists attacked the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, the United States government has designated three groups that it believed were involved in the incident as terrorist organizations.

Courtesy of The Washington Post, which broke the story two days before the designations were officially announced on Friday, the State and Treasury Departments have named the two branches of Ansar al-Sharia in Libya — one in Benghazi, the other in Derna — as foreign terrorist organizations that were intimately connected to the operation against the consulate.

Inclusion on the list bans Americans from communicating with, joining or supporting the groups. Any financial assets they might hold in the United States have also been frozen.

More unusual is that on the same day, the United States blacklisted the first individual who is suspected of involvement in the Benghazi attack. Ansar al-Sharia‘s leader, Abu Sufian bin Qumu, was named a terrorist operative for the role he allegedly played in the murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans on September 11, 2012.

While Qumu is not as well known in the jihadist lexicon as Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri, he has been associated with Islamist extremist networks for most of his life. A former detainee of the Guantánamo Bay detention center, he was one of the original “Afghan Arabs” who traveled to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight the Soviets who had invaded the country. After his training at one of Osama bin Laden’s camps, Qumu traveled to Sudan in the early 1990s where he worked as a driver for one of the terrorist leader’s front companies.

After pressure from the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi forced Sudan to expel him, Qumu made his way back to Afghanistan and Pakistan where he became a close member of the Taliban movement. So close that he was wounded with the Taliban fighting against the Northern Alliance. Upon his return to Pakistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Pakistani security forces were able to arrest him, handed him over to the Americans, who transferred him to Guantánamo.

Like many detainees in the prison, he was repatriated back to Libya at the request of the Gaddafi government. After a period of “reintegration,” Qumu was finally released in 2010. 

Friday’s listing of Qumu as a specially designed global terrorist would seem to confirm fears that he never fully renounced his jihadist beliefs. When he is not directing attacks on Libyan security forces and Western facilities,

The next step for American authorities is finding a way to capture Qumu and prosecute him in the United States. With the daring raid that captured Abu Anas al-Libi, another Al Qaeda planner, in the middle of Tripoli last fall, Special Forces undoubtedly have the capability to execute a similar operation to nab Qumu. The difficulty is pinpointing his location, monitoring his movements to establish a daily pattern of life and getting the Libyan government to cooperate with such an operation.

It may take time to bring Qumu to justice for his role in the death of four Americans, including an ambassador. For now, the United States have taken the next best step: putting him on notice and freezing his assets.

United States See Rise in Iranian-Sponsored Terrorism

After a delay of several months, the United States State Department’s annual report on terrorist activities worldwide — a document that was much anticipated in Washington DC — was released last week. If the final report is anything close to the summary, analysts will discover some interesting trends in the data.

Although the report is long and dense at times, there are a few noteworthy developments that need to be highlighted in order to fully understand how terrorism has adapted in the last year. Read more “United States See Rise in Iranian-Sponsored Terrorism”

United States to Label Syrian Rebel Group Terrorists

Concerned that radical Islamists are eclipsing the more moderate and secular brigades of the Free Syrian Army, the United States is in the process of designating Jabhat al-Nusra a foreign terrorist organization. The group is suspected of ties with Al Qaeda.

The designation would prohibit all American citizens from providing money or support to fighters under the Nusra umbrella. Assets that Nusra may have under American jurisdiction would be frozen.

The announcement by the State Department comes at a particularly violent phase in Syria’s civil war. The capital Damascus now appears the fault line between President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and its supporters and the largely Sunni opposition. Several reports last week suggested that government forces were assembling chemical weapons for possible use against rebels. Read more “United States to Label Syrian Rebel Group Terrorists”

CIA Recognized Benghazi Terrorist Attack Day After

CIA chief David Petraeus described September’s attack on the American mission in Benghazi as terrorism the day after the incident when members of the Obama Administration for nearly two weeks thereafter said that there had been a “spontaneous” uprising in the city.

“We have a transcript of that meeting on that day and Petraeus very clearly said that it was a terrorist attack,” recalled California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, on Sunday’s Meet the Press.

Mike Rogers, her Republican counterpart in the House of Representatives, who has been skeptical of the government’s interpretation of events from the start, insisted on the same program that there had not been an “intelligence failure” in Libya. “The intelligence community had it right and they had it right early,” he said. Read more “CIA Recognized Benghazi Terrorist Attack Day After”