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‘Terrorist threat high in Africa conflict zones’

The panel said al-Qaida has improved its media productions which appeared aimed at restoring the extremist group’s credibility, attracting recruits, and filling the void over its inability to announce a new leader…reports Asian Lite News

The terrorist threat from al-Qaida, the Islamic State group and their affiliates remains high in conflict zones in Africa and in Afghanistan – and threat levels have risen in some regions including Europe, U.N. experts said in a new report.

The panel of experts said in the 23-page report that the relationship between Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers and al-Qaida remains close, and unnamed member states report that “the high concentration of terrorist groups” in the country are undermining the security situation in the region.

The greatest threat within Afghanistan still comes from the Islamic State “with its ability to project into the region and beyond,” the experts said in the report to the U.N. Security Council covering the period until Dec. 16, 2023 which was circulated Wednesday. Regionally, they pointed to a succession of attacks in neighboring Iran and Pakistan and threats in Central Asian nations.

The panel said, however, that while none of the al-Qaida affiliated groups have recovered the capability to launch long-range operations, “they harbor global ambitions.” And it said “covert and calibrated efforts to rebuild capability” have been reported.

The Daesh broke away from al-Qaida over a decade ago and attracted supporters from around the world. Despite its defeat in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later. The panel said the combined IS strength in the two countries is still between 3,000 and 5,000 fighters. In Iraq, they are carrying out “a low-intensity insurgency with covert terrorist cells” while in Syria attacks have intensified since November, the experts said.

The panel said the three-month delay in naming the current Daesh leader, Abu Hafs al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi, following the death in fighting of his little-known predecessor “is judged indicative of internal difficulties and security challenges”

Some unnamed U.N. member nations have assessed that serious pressure from counter-terrorism operations in Syria and Iraq raise the possibility that the Islamic State could move its leadership and “center of gravity” to Africa or Afghanistan, with Africa more likely, the experts said.

In West Africa and the Sahel, the panel said, “violence and threat have escalated again” in conflict zones, raising concerns among U.N. member nations. The experts point to “a deficit in counterterrorism capabilities,” which Daesh and al-Qaida affiliated groups are continuing to exploit.

“The situation is becoming ever more complex with the conflation of ethnic and regional disputes with the agenda and operations of these groups,” they said.

In east Africa, the experts said, the Somali government is continuing its military offensive against al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate, but they said U.N. member nations assess that despite significant losses from air strikes and military operations, “al-Shabab remains resilient. It has an estimated 7,000 to 12,000 fighters, and an estimated $100 million annual income, mostly from illegal taxation in the capital Mogadishu and southern Somalia, they said.

The panel said al-Qaida has improved its media productions which appeared aimed at restoring the extremist group’s credibility, attracting recruits, and filling the void over its inability to announce a new leader.

But that messaging changed after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel, the experts said.

The attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and Hamas and other extremists took about 250 people hostage, according to Israeli authorities. In Israel’s ongoing offensive in response in Gaza aimed at destroying Hamas, more than 27,000 people have been killed, according to the territory’s health ministry which doesn’t distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths.

The experts said Al-Qaida has focused on “the sanctity” of the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam which is in a compound in Jerusalem sacred to Jews and Muslims, with some communications stressing “an obligation for individuals to take action to the limits of their own ability.”

“Member States are concerned that it (al-Qaida) could exploit the situation to recover relevance and tap into popular dissent about the extent of civilian casualties, providing direction to those keen to act,” the panel said, and they “are concerned that the renewed narrative could inspire self-initiated attacks globally.”

Across Europe, the experts said, “formal terrorist threat levels have risen … following fatal attacks in late 2023 in France and Belgium, in addition to numerous non-lethal terrorist incidents and arrests in several European countries.”

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NIA chargesheet exposes Khalistani terrorists

According to the NIA statement, these individuals had close ties with drug smugglers and Khalistani operatives based in Pakistan and other countries…reports Asian Lite News

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken a major step by filing a chargesheet against nine individuals, three of whom are recognized as “listed Khalistani terrorists.” These individuals have affiliations with the banned organizations Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) and Khalistan Tiger Force (KTF). The chargesheet provides valuable insights into their participation in a dangerous alliance between gangsters and terrorists, as well as their disruptive activities within the nation.

The three “listed terrorists” have been identified as Harwinder Singh Sandhu, also known as Rinda, from BKI; Arshdeep Singh, known as Arsh Dala, from KTF; and Lakhbir Singh Sandhu, known as Landa, also associated with BKI. These individuals, who are based abroad, have allegedly established their own networks of operatives to carry out acts of subversion in India.

According to the NIA statement, these individuals had close ties with drug smugglers and Khalistani operatives based in Pakistan and other countries. The NIA has accused them of recruiting, motivating, and handling associates in India to carry out terrorist activities, extortion, and cross-border smuggling of weapons and drugs into the country.

The investigation has revealed a complex mechanism of fund-raising utilized by BKI and KTF, raising concerns about the financial support behind their nefarious activities. In addition to the nine accused, the NIA is also probing the links of 16 other absconding and arrested individuals associated with these terrorist outfits.

One of the listed terrorists, Rinda, reportedly fled to Pakistan illegally in 2018/19 and has been living there under the protection of the ISI. He has been involved in numerous terrorist activities, including the RPG attack on the Punjab Police Intelligence Headquarters in May 2022, which led to him being declared an “individual terrorist” by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in 2023.

Arsh Dala, on the other hand, started as a gangster and later moved to Canada, where he came into contact with Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the chief of KTF. He, too, was designated an “individual terrorist” in 2023.

Landa initially engaged in criminal and gang-related activities but later relocated to Canada, where he connected with Rinda and began working for BKI. He is the primary accused in several terror incidents, including the RPG attack on the Punjab Police Intelligence Headquarters and the Sarhali police station in Tarn Taran in December 2022.

The NIA has also identified other foreign-based BKI nodes, including Harjot Singh in the US, Kashmir Singh Galwaddi (accused in the Nabha jailbreak case), and Tarsem Singh in Dubai. Gurjant Singh, another individual charged in the case, is residing in Australia.

Additionally, Deepak Ranga and Lucky Khokhar, also known as Denis, have been charged as they were recruited by foreign-based handlers to carry out terror activities in India. Ranga was allegedly used by Rinda and Landa to carry out the RPG attack in Mohali.

The investigation has revealed the magnitude of the gangster-terrorist nexus and the networks operating across borders to perpetrate violence and instability within the country. The NIA’s chargesheet represents a crucial step in unveiling the truth behind these heinous acts and holding the culprits accountable for their actions. The agency continues to work diligently to bring justice to those affected by these terrorist activities and disrupt any further attempts to undermine national security.

ALSO READ-Canada fast becoming safe haven for Khalistani terrorists

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Hamas rejects Australia’s decision of listing it as terror group

The Palestinian Hamas has announced its rejection of Australia’s decision of listing the movement as a terrorist group…reports Asian Lite News

In a press statement sent to Xinhua news agency, Hamas said that it condemns the Australian government’s decision, and that all the accusations against the movement “are false, based on an inaccurate understanding of the history of the Palestinian people who live under the Israeli occupation”.

On Friday, Australia officially listed Hamas as a terrorist organisation, considering the decision as “a deterrent to political and religious violence”.

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Australian Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said in a press statement that listing Hamas as a terrorist organization “is bringing Australia in line with the US, the European Union, and Britain”.

Hamas, which was founded in 1987, has governed the Gaza Strip since taking over the area in 2007.

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Terrorist groups unleashed reign of terror in B’desh: Hasina

Bangladesh on Tuesday observed the Martyred Intellectuals Day in a befitting manner…writes Sumi Khan

Martyred Intellectuals Day is observed on December 14 to commemorate those intellectuals who were killed by Pakistani forces and their collaborators during the 1971 Liberation War, particularly on March 25 and December 14, 1971.

Speaking on the occasion, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that terrorist groups unleashed a reign of terror in the country from 2001 to 2006. They also unleashed arson in the country to thwart the national elections of 2014, and some of them are still hatching conspiracies, she added.

Terrorist groups unleashed reign of terror in B’desh: Hasina

The killers tortured free thinkers, teachers, writers, journalists and politicians, she said.

Hasina also called upon every citizen to be imbued with the ideology of the martyred intellectuals and build a non-communal society based on the spirit of the Liberation War.

In her message, Hasina said Martyred Intellectual Day is a shameful chapter in the history of Bangladesh as the Pakistani occupation forces, anti-liberation forces and their local collaborators killed eminent intellectuals at the far end of the Liberation War to turn the nation into a brain-less state.

On the occasion, President M. Abdul Hamid and Hasina paid rich tributes to the martyred intellectuals.

The nation will forever remember the sacrifices made by the martyred intellectuals, Hasina said, as she called upon the people to be united against any terror threat.

In a seperate message, the President and the Prime Minister urged people to come forward and build a non-communal, happy and prosperous ‘Sonar Bangla’.

Hasina mentioned that the anti-liberation forces had assassinated Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members on August 15, 1975 and through those heinous killings, the anti-liberation forces started the politics of coup and conspiracy in the country.

“We have brought the killers of the martyred intellectuals under trial and have been executing the verdicts. No conspiracy can divert the nation from this process. Those who wanted to save the heinous war criminals will also be brought to justice one day,” Hasina mentioned.

Just two days ahead of the country’s final victory for Independence, on this day 50 years back, the Pakistani occupation forces with the help of their auxiliary force, Jamat e Islam’s wings Razakar, Al-Badr, and Al-Shams, had killed the most prominent intellectuals of the country, as part of a conspiracy hatched by the Pakistan government.

ALSO READ: How Tripura played its part during Bangladesh Liberation War

The then Bangladesh government and the victorious freedom fighters, however, came to know about the brutal massacres only when the Pakistani troops surrendered on December 16, 1971, and their top accomplices mostly belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing went into hiding, only to resurface years later.

Those who were exposed to the killers’ wrath on December 14, 1971 included Alim Chowdhury and Fazle Rabbi, journalists Shahidullah Kaisar, Sirajudddin Hossain, Nizamuddin Ahmed, S.A. Mannan, and Selina Parveen, and litterateurs Monier Chowdhury, Govinda Chandra Dev, Jyotirmoy Guha Thakurta, Santosh Chattacharjee, Anwar Pasha, Mofazzal Haider Chowdhury, and Muniruzzaman.

Most of the victims were picked up from their houses and killed between December 10 and December 14, 1971.

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Somali army kills five al-shabab terrorists

Forces of the Somali National Army (SNA) have killed five al-Shabab terrorists in security operations which were conducted in the southern part of the country…reports Asian Lite News

The SNA commanders told Radio Mogadishu on Sunday that several al-Shabab hideouts were also destroyed in the operations which took place in the past 24 hours at Gambarey, Dawacale, and Geediyan villages in the Lower Shabelle region, reports Xinhua news agency.

Somali army kills five al-shabab terrorists

“The army also drove out some of the terrorists who were causing serious problems to the locals,” said the state-owned radio as the SNA commanders vowed to continue with the onslaught until their forces flush out the militants in the area.

According to the state-owned radio, the villagers welcomed the ongoing security operations, saying they were delighted with the current military achievements which will result in peace in the area.

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The SNA backed by the African Union Mission in Somalia drove al-Shabab out of Mogadishu in 2011.

But the terror group is still capable of conducting attacks, targeting government installations, hotels, restaurants and public places.

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Terrorist attack claims dozens of lives in central Mali

A terrorist attack at Songho Gare, a small town between Sevare and Bandiagara in central Mali, claimed dozens of lives…reports Asian Lite News

According to witnesses, the terrorists attacked a bus heading to the Bandiagara fair, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The vehicle was set on fire, costing the lives of at least 33 people,” said a local official on Friday who requested anonymity.

Terrorist attack claims dozens of lives in central Mali

“The vehicle was attacked by terrorists who first murdered the driver before closing the vehicle and setting it ablaze with its passengers inside,” he said.

Witnesses also confirmed seven wounded, four seriously injured and dozens missing, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Malian government has not released any official statements about the deadly attack yet.

Located about 10 km from the city of Bandiagara, the Songho Gare bridge has been frequently sabotaged by terrorists to cut this part of Mali from the rest of the country.

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Since 2012, Mali has been facing a deep and multifaceted serious security, political and economic crisis. Independence insurrections, jihadist incursions and inter-communal violence have caused thousands of deaths and displaced hundreds of thousands of people despite the presence of UN, French and European forces.

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Somalian security arrests 12 al-Shabab terrorists

Somalian security forces have arrested 12 al-Shabab terrorists during an operation in Baidoa town, the administrative capital of the South West State…reports Asian Lite News

Commander of Intelligence and Security Agency for Southwest State Mohamud Mohamed Hassan told Somalia’s official news agency, SONNA, that their forces managed to destroy the terrorist network during the operation.

Somalian security arrests 12 al-Shabab terrorists

“We arrested 12 al-Shabab militants in an operation aimed at ensuring the security of Baidoa town in Bay region. We are committed to safeguarding our people and candidates during the federal parliamentary elections,” Xinhua news agency quoted Hassab as saying further saying to SONNA.

ASLO READ: Somalia urged to hold elections without further delay

He added that the militants were trying to create fear and threat in Baidoa town before they were arrested by the forces.

Al-Shabab militants did not comment on the latest security operation in the region but this crackdown comes ahead of parliamentary election in Southwest State.

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Topmost local JeM terrorist killed in Kashmir encounter

Police said as per its records the killed terrorist was categorised and active since June 2019, figuring among the list of most wanted terrorists operating in the Kashmir Valley…reports Asian Lite News.

The topmost local terrorist of proscribed terror outfit JeM was killed in an encounter with security forces at Tral in Jammu and Kashmir’s Awantipora district on Wednesday.

Besides providing logistic support to foreign terrorists of JeM, Shamus-ud-Din Sofi alias ShamSofi was involved in civilian killings and new recruitments, officials said.

Police said on a specific input generated by Awantipora police regarding presence of terrorists in Tilwani Mohalla Waggad area of Tral, a joint cordon and search operation was launched by police, army, and the CRPF in the said area.

“During the search operation, as the presence of terrorists was ascertained, they were given repeated opportunities to surrender; instead they fired indiscriminately upon the joint search party which was retaliated leading to an encounter. In the ensuing encounter, one terrorist was killed and his body was retrieved from the site of encounter,” a police officer said.

The dead terrorist was identified as Sofi.

Police said as per its records the killed terrorist was categorised and active since June 2019, figuring among the list of most wanted terrorists operating in the Kashmir Valley. He was also part of groups involved in several terror crime cases including attacks on security establishments and civilian atrocities to which several terror crime cases stands already registered against him.

“Pertinently, the killed terrorist was first arrested in year 2004 and detained under PSA. He was also involved in providing logistic support, and shelter to the active terrorists operating in Tral area before joining the terror fold. Moreover, he was also involved in motivating local youth to join the terror fold, reviving the terror folds in Tral area and conspiring to destabilise the system by means of various terror acts. Besides, he was also involved in threatening the law-abiding citizens and policemen also,” police said.

Incriminating materials including arms and ammunition were also recovered from the site of encounter. All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further investigation.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar has congratulated the joint forces for the big success that led to the elimination of most wanted terrorist involved in several terror crime cases.

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Two terrorists killed in North Waziristan

The cordon and search operation was underway to clear the area from any remaining terrorists, Pakistan’s The Express Tribune reported on Friday…reports Asian Lite News.

Pakistani security forces killed two terrorists in the tribal area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s North Waziristan district in an intelligence-based operation (IBO), local media reported.

Pakistani military’s media wing Inter-Services Public Relation said in a statement, “Security forces conducted an IBO in Razmak, North Waziristan on the reported presence of terrorists. Two terrorists were killed. Arms and ammunition were also recovered from terrorists.”

The cordon and search operation was underway to clear the area from any remaining terrorists, Pakistan’s The Express Tribune reported on Friday.

Earlier on Wednesday, at least seven Pakistani soldiers were killed in an intense exchange of fire with terrorists in the Asman Manza area of the South Waziristan tribal district. Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban) had claimed that they had attacked the security forces.

There has been an uptick in attacks on Pakistani forces in recent months. Attacks on security forces have increased in North Waziristan and adjacent South Waziristan tribal districts since the Taliban intensified offensive against the government forces across the border in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been blamed for its proxy war in Afghanistan. Earlier in August, Afghans launched campaigns on social media and staged protests all across the world, calling for an international ban on Pakistan. They blamed Islamabad for the raging war in Afghanistan. (ANI)

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