In East and West Africa, the belligerence of Al-Shabaab and Jamaat al-Nusrat al-Islam -wol- Muslims under the umbrella of Al-Qaeda has intensified at a time when Al-Qaeda has yet to appoint a new leader after the killing of its second leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Based on the intelligence information from the Zahadan area of the eastern border of Iran, a security meeting was held in Sistan and Balochistan, the joint border region of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, on August 13.
Afghan and Pakistani scholars participated in the meeting. The meeting was held in relation to the successor of the former leader of Al-Qaeda, but the outcome of the meeting has not been known yet. The Al-Qaeda group became more renowned at the international level after the attacks on American commercial buildings and the Ministry of Defense after September 11, 2001, and the activities of this group became demised and faded out, when the founder and leader of this group, Osama Bin Laden was killed by the American Special Forces in Pakistan in 2011.
Well along, when Afghanistan fell into the hands of the Taliban for the second time, this group rejuvenated its activities. The AQ deceased leader Dr. Zawahiri had a plan to relocate the (Afghan) Taliban from South Asia to the Middle East for Jihad. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the al-Qaeda group, was killed on July 31, 2022, in the capital of Afghanistan, as the result of MQ9-Reaper aerial strike of CIA. Moreover, after July 31, Al-Qaeda has remained in an uncertain position, but the Jihadi organizations under the patronages of this group have been strengthened and accelerated their activities in East and West Africa. If there is a delay or any obstacle in the selection of a new leader for Al-Qaeda group in such sensitive circumstances, so the Al-Shabaab organization is ready to declare its government in East Africa as a strong Jihadi organization separate from Al-Qaeda under the leadership of its leader Ahmad Omar.
In order to achieve this goal, Ahmed Omar has made a secret meeting with the newly appointed minister of religious affairs of the Somali government, Mukhtar Robo, on the joint border between Somalia and Ethiopia, and Mukhtar Robo also cooperates with al-Shabaab in rising up to the government in Somalia, and participates in the new government in East Africa. Sheikh Mukhtar Robo is one of the founders and partners of al-Shabaab group in Somalia and he was the former deputy of this group. Mukhtar Robo separated from Al-Shabaab due to internal differences with the former leader of Al-Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi Godan, who was killed in 2013, and surrendered to the Somali government in 2017.
In 2018, before he was arrested by the Federal Government of Somalia, he ran for the presidency of the South West Province of Somalia. However, after being under house arrest by the Somali government for three years, Robo was appointed the Minister of Religious Affairs of Somalia on August 2, 2022, two days after the killing of Al-Qaeda’s second leader Ayman Al- Zawaheri.
Now, Ahmad Omar, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Somalia is trying to overthrow the federal government of Somalia with the help of Robo. If there is a delay or obstacle in the selection of the leader of the Al-Qaeda group, Ahmad Omar will declare Al-Shabaab as a separate and independent jihadist organization from the Al-Qaeda group, and the center of the new government of Al-Shabaab will be in East Africa. He will extend his group to the Middle East so that this organization gains fame in the Middle East and appears to substitute Al-Qaeda.
In any case, after the death of al-Qaeda leader al-Zawahiri, from August 7th to 14th, I render a report on the destructive goals of jihadist organizations under the umbrella of al-Qaeda in African countries as a tip of iceberg. On August 7, three Somali soldiers were injured and two were killed after the attack by al-Shabaab fighters on the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu. On the 8th of August, the Somali al-Shabaab rebels attacked Hoden headquarters in the capital Mogadishu, including the killing of Colonel Hassan Farahi, And Jelli, the deputy commander of the state militia in Wajar district, was also killed in a battle with al-Shabaab fighters on the morning of August 8. There was a simultaneous battle by al-Shabaab group on eight military bases in Mandera city in the northeast of Kenya, and a number of these bases were selected for the Kenyan elections. Al-Shabaab fighters also attacked the center of Ugandan forces, the capital of Mogadishu, and the cities of Janali. Another security unit of the Al-Shabaab movement killed a guard of the ballot boxes in the ongoing Kenyan elections near the capital. There were also attacks in Canton District, Garfarar District, Wajir County, and North East Kenya and 20 Kenyan soldiers were killed.
In addition, on August 7, 2022, a bloody attack was carried out by Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam Walmuslim in Mali between Kosala and Kouri on Mali soldiers, And besides this attack, the war in South Sikaso area started with the destruction of an armored military vehicle and ended with the killing of five Malian soldiers. As the result of that war five Kalashnikovs, 5 pistols and 12 armored tanks were captured and 432 people were captured alive.
On August 9, six security guards of the parliament building were killed by Al-Shabaab fighters in the Somali parliament building in the capital of Mogadishu. On the 9th of August, a colonel of Somalia’s intelligence agency, named Muhammad Abbas Jars, was killed by al-Shabaab fighters at Banadir intersection. On August 11th, 11 mortar shells were fired at a base of Ethiopian soldiers by al-Shabaab fighters in the city of Qanshadiri in the southwest of Somalia, and as a result, 9 Ethiopian soldiers were killed. Four Somali soldiers have been killed as a result of attacks on two bases of the Somali army by the al-Shabaab group in the cities of Badawa and Densoor.
On August 11, two Somali soldiers were killed in Shabelle province. August 12th: The former deputy security affairs of Afjawi city, Hussain Jibril, along with his two bodyguards were killed by al-Shabaab fighters in the southwest of the same city. Furthermore, Geno Muhammad Ibrahim, a member of the Somali government’s parliamentary election committee was killed by the al-Shabaab movement in the Harawa area of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.
Al-Shabaab group was ordered by the Sharia court to execute six American, Kenyan and Somali spies who were responsible for the air operations under the orders of the American forces. August 14, a military officer named Abdo was killed along with four soldiers because of an attack on the base of the Somali army by al-Shabaab group in Yarkad area of Loq city in the west of Somalia.
Al-Shabaab is presumably a franchise of Al-Qaeda, which has doubled down the jihadi terrorist undertakings under the auspices of Al-Qaeda in the entire African continent supposed to declare its independence from Al-Qaeda, while performing as an imminent jihadi terrorist group worldwide.
Al-Shabaab hoist in the international geopolitical arena will be a major blow to the counterterrorism and counter intelligence agencies at the global level.
A Virus Yet to Be Eradicated
Much as everything in this world, human memory knows its limits. Increasingly receding into a background of the past, episodes of our life—be they thrilling at the thought or intensely dramatic—grow faint and fade, as they are gradually eclipsed by latest events and fresh experiences.
On September 11, 2001, I happened to be a first-hand witness to the most heinous terrorist attack in humanity’s contemporary history—the hijacked passenger jets heading to crash into the towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Twenty-one years later, I’m somewhat in doubt that all of this happened to me for a fact: blinding flares of orange against the backdrop of a blue September sky, swirls of smoke and dust slowly blanketing the city’s downtown narrow streets, a high-pitched cacophony of fire-truck and police sirens, crowds of disoriented people having no idea where to run and what the next moment might bring.
In the wake of 9/11, international terrorism has predictably become a thing to bandy about. Like many of my colleagues, I was attending numerous conferences and seminars as well as partaking in various research projects on the subject. Besides, a stroke of fate gave me a rare opportunity to have personal conversations with such heavyweights of world politics as Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Richard Armitage, Thomas R. Pickering, Kofi Annan and others, who made their meaningful contribution to fostering cooperation in countering the terrorist threat. In a way, their efforts have borne fruit as the world has seen nothing similar to 9/11 since 2001.
Still, we have to admit that the war on terror has not ended in a decisive victory. Terrorist attacks no longer claim lives of thousands—however, hundreds have died in the massive attacks in Paris and in Madrid, in Bagdad and in Berlin, in Beslan and over Sinai, in Gamboru (Nigeria) and in Mumbai (India), with new names added to this tragic list every so often. Large-scale terrorist attacks are now few and far between in the United States, but there have been more of them in Europe, let alone in the Middle East. The recent suicide bombing near the Russian Embassy in Kabul is yet another reminder that the terrorist threat is still here. Why, then, is the goal to wipe out terrorism—now dating two decades—not achieved so far?
In the first place, the international community has failed to agree on a common definition of terrorism’s origins, driving forces and character. What some actors explicitly dub as “terrorist” may look like a national liberation struggle for others. Bring up the issue of terrorism in Kashmir in a conversation with Indians and Pakistani, only to see there can hardly be a common denominator in this matter.
Second, any success in the fight against terrorism entails a high level of trust between the interacting parties—simply because they would have to exchange sensitive and confidential information. In today’s world, trust is thin on the ground. An apparent and mounting deficit of this resource is not only present in the relations between Moscow and Washington; it also takes its toll on the relations between Beijing and Brussels, between Riyadh and Teheran, between Cairo and Addis Ababa, between Bogota and Caracas, and the list goes on.
Third, international terrorism is far from an issue that is set in stone. It is gradually changing and evolving to become more resilient, sophisticated, and cunning. Similar to a dangerous virus, the terrorist threat is mutating, generating ever new strains. Ironically, what is especially dangerous today is the kind of terrorism bred by anonymous mavericks and amateurs rather than the sort represented by well-known transnational extremist movements—individualists are the hardest to track and neutralize, while plans of amateurs are harder to reveal.
The current progress in military technology, coupled with other trends in the contemporary international arena, portend a new spike in terrorist activities in the coming years. Modern and increasingly complex social and economic infrastructure, especially in large metropolitan areas, is an enabling environment for hard-hitting terrorist attacks. Besides, international and civil conflicts—like the one raging in Ukraine—drastically heighten the accessibility of modern arms for would-be terrorists.
Add to this a comprehensive setback in the resilience of global economy, which may be fraught with more social tensions and an inevitable rise of pollical radicalism and extremism in a broad range of countries. An obvious foretelling: In this “nutrient broth”, the virus of terrorism, which has not been wholly eradicated, stands all the chances for an “explosive” growth.
It may well be possible that all of us will in the years ahead be lucky enough to avoid a second edition of the events that shattered the world on September 11, 2001. Still, taking terrorism off the agenda is only possible if humanity effects a transition to a new level of global governance. It is either that the leading powers are wise and energetic enough for this, or the tax that international terrorism imposes on our common civilization will be progressively higher.
From our partner RIAC
ISIS Rises from the Dust in the Syrian Desert
Over the last few months Syria’s northeast has been spiraling downwards to chaos amid the surge of violence and terror attributed to Islamic State (IS). After almost five years of dormant existence the terror group is once again making its way to prominence in Syria. With the so-called territorial califate no longer viable, the IS members have switched to hit-and-run attacks on remote outposts and prolific use of improvised explosive devices (IED) against vehicles. These attacks target both US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Syrian army units operating in the northeastern provinces of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. At the same time the terrorists managed to restore afinancial safety net by extorting money from local professionals, including small business owners, doctors and teachers. Those who refuse to pay are subjected to threats and torture. The resulting insecurity enables the terror group to widen the scope of its activities even further.
The deterioration of the security situation in Syria went almost unnoticed by the international community distracted by the Ukrainian conflict. Under these circumstances the U.S. has a window of opportunity to curb the Russian influence in Syria and undermine theimage of power projected by Moscow in the Middle East.
Indeed, the areas held by the Russians and the Syrian army in Deir Ezzor and Homs have witnessed an increase in bloody attacks, supposedly carried out by IS fighters. The terrorists were able to avoid retaliation by retreating to no man’s land in the areas abutting the U.S. bases, namely Al-Shadadi, the Green Zone near Abu-Kemal border crossing and Al-Tanf base. Moreover, previously each IS attack in US-controlled areas had been followed by joint raids of SDF and the US special forces. It is no longer so. Considerable resources that might otherwise have been used for counterinsurgency operations are allocated to maintaining security in Al-Hol camp, where some 12,000 IS fighters and their family members are held. Add to that the imminent threat of Turkish invasion from the north. The SDF was led into a deadlock and is loosing the grip on the region. Meanwhile IS sleeper cells exploit the situation to their advantage and infiltrate territories controlled by the Syrian army.
These suspicions are confirmed by a high-ranking source in the Syrian intelligence. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the source claimed that the U.S. helicopters transported 200 former IS fighters from prisons in Haseke to the 55-km security zone around Al-Tanf. The terrorists will be split up into groups of 10 – 15 people. These groups will be then sent to provinces with Russian presence including Homs, Latakia, Tartus and Damascus with the task of conducting terror attacks with IEDs at the Russian military sites. Most of the selected militants originate from Northern Caucasia or Central Asia and therefore are fluent in Russian.
The source added that the list of the primary targets of the terrorists includes the phosphate mines in Hneifis guarded by Russian security companies as well as Russian military bases in Lattakia, Tartus, Damascus and Aleppo.
Ultimately, the recruitment of IS members to create disturbance for the Russians would only become a logical development of the proxy policy adopted by the U.S. in Syria. After all, Washington is killing two birds with one stone by destabilizing the area of Russian influence and making use of the IS prisoners. However, there is another conclusion to be made: Washington has failed in its initial mission to defeat IS and is now resorting to the use of terror group splinters in its political power games.
Pakistan is a victim of terrorism
A High-Level Ministerial the first Session of the UN Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism was held on 8 September 2022, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s remarks:-
“I am honored to speak today at the first UN Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism. This subject has special resonance for me personally, having lost my illustrious mother, the first woman Prime Minister of Pakistan, in a dastardly act of terrorism.
2. The Government and the people of Pakistan pay solemn tribute to all those who have suffered at the hands of terrorists. I express my profound support and solidarity with the victims and families of those who have been affected by this scourge.
3. The international community has an abiding responsibility to protect and support victims of terrorism. This has to be the basic tenant of our efforts to promote peace and security in the world.
4. While waging kinetic efforts to eradicate terrorist groups is imperative, we cannot fully win the fight against terrorism without preserving the rights of millions of innocent, defenseless, and vulnerable people who have suffered immensely because of terrorism. There should be more focus on retribution and rehabilitation and justice. Equally important is the need to work together to prevent further attacks, hold terrorists to account, and adopt a uniform victim-centric approach while addressing the challenges faced in conflict zones.
5. It is also unfortunate that political expediency and real politick have been allowed to dictate international response towards terrorism. Our tolerance for terrorism must not be a function of our foreign and domestic policies. This selective approach toward terrorism is the biggest injustice to the victims of terrorism.
6. For the last two decades, Pakistan has been one of the worst victims of terrorism – with over 80,000 causalities and economic losses exceeding $150 billion. We pay tribute to the families of martyrs of our law enforcement agencies and armed forces, who have rendered invaluable sacrifices while defending our motherland.
7. If we are to chart a way forward for victims, we must look beyond narrow political interests and geo-political agendas. We must examine why, despite global strategies, the terrorist threats continue to proliferate and give rise to the number of victims.
8. To further debate this issue, I would like to make a few points: First, we must address the root causes of terrorism and conditions conducive to terrorism. Second, we must distinguish terrorism from legitimate struggles for self-determination. Third, we must address state-sponsored terrorism, especially in cases of foreign occupation, and reject occupying powers’ propensity to use brute force against occupied people in the name of counter-terrorism operations. Fourth, we must have a consensus definition of terrorism and take into account new and emerging threats. Fifth, we must address challenges emanating from the use of new technologies by terrorists, especially on social media and the dark web. And finally, we must counter disinformation campaigns.
9. Pakistan condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations including right-wing, Islamophobia, racially and ethnically motivated, and state-sponsored terrorism.
10. Terrorism can only be completely eradicated by fighting extremism and the mindset that breeds violent extremism. I would like to urge that this global problem requires continuing international cooperation without any prejudices or preconceived notions against any particular religion, race, civilization, or country.
11. I would also like to take this opportunity to pay special homage to the oppressed people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and Palestine who deserve our special attention for their continuing suffering as victims of the worst forms of state-terrorism. The international community must hold the perpetrators of such state terrorism, and crimes against humanity, to account.
12. Our inability to address these issues will continue to increase victims and add to their suffering. It will also add to the physical and psychological trauma that may outlive many conflicts. The international community owes it to the victims of terrorism to take effective steps to address terrorism, wherever it may be, in whatever form it exists, without political considerations. This is our moral as well as legal obligation.”
Pakistan’s sacrifices in the Afghan war are much more than the collective damages caused to the 46 nations alliance led by the US in Afghanistan. Pakistan suffered the loss of around 80,000 precious human lives and an economic loss of estimated worth US Dollars 250 billion, in addition to the menace of terrorism, drugs, and gun cultures. The international community should acknowledge Pakistan’s sacrifices and compensate.
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