Dilitas Weekly International Security Brief – Feb 9

The threat to the UK from International Terrorism is SEVERE
The threat to Great Britain from Irish Republican Terrorism is MODERATE

SEVERE means that a terrorist attack is highly likely;
SUBSTANTIAL means that a terrorist attack is a strong possibility;
MODERATE, means that a terrorist attack is possible, but not likely.


Britain will be attacked by ISIL in retaliation for waging war against the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria, a Luton man who joined the militants has told the magazine, ‘Passionate Islam’. Abu Rahin Aziz, who says he skipped bail and evaded the security services to join ISIL in Syria, told the publication, “My message to the UK is simple; if you want to live in peace and security then stay out of Muslim affairs. They have managed to stick their nose in our country many times and have actively attacked us. Currently they have decided to go to war with the Islamic State, so remember you have gone to war with us and in a war you cannot expect to attack without getting attacked back. If you play with fire, then expect to get burnt.”

On 3 February, the Metropolitan Police arrested a 22-year-old man in east London on suspicion of encouraging acts of terrorism. A spokesman for the Met said, “The man was arrested under PACE at an address in east London and taken to a central London police station where he remains in custody. An address in east London is being searched as part of the investigation. Enquiries continue.”

A Muslim student with “extremist views” [who was said to have wanted the black flag of the Islamic State to fly over Downing Street] and who wanted to join fighters in Syria, has been jailed for 31⁄2 years. Birkbeck College student David Souaan, 20, from Serbia, denied preparing for acts of terrorism but was convicted at the Old Bailey in London in December. The prosecution said Souaan had been on his way to Syria to fight when he was arrested at Heathrow Airport in May. Souaan, who had visited Syria in December 2013, was arrested after fellow students became concerned at his radical views on Islam and pictures he had of himself posing with guns in Syria.

The UK’s role in fighting Islamic State extremists is “strikingly modest” and should be stepped up, MPs have said. The Defence Select Committee found the UK had carried out 6% of coalition air strikes against the jihadist group and said it was “surprised and deeply concerned” it was not doing more. But it stressed it was not in favour of deploying combat forces to battle IS. The government said military action was just part of “comprehensive” action by the international coalition. […] The report said IS was the “most significant threat” to international security to have emerged from the Middle East “in decades”.


Police have confirmed that an under-car explosion in west Belfast just after midnight on 4 February was caused by a pipe bomb. The parked vehicle was extensively damaged in the incident.

A viable pipe bomb was found in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim in the early morning of 4 February. Army bomb experts examined a suspicious object which was found to be a viable pipe bomb type device. It was seized for examination


The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France aim to meet in Belarus’s capital Minsk on Wednesday to discuss a peace plan for eastern Ukraine. It comes after leaders of the four countries discussed the ongoing conflict by telephone on Sunday.

The International Court of Justice has rejected claims of genocide by Serbia and Croatia against each other during the Croatian war of secession from Yugoslavia. The Croatian government had alleged that Serbia committed genocide in the town of Vukovar and elsewhere in 1991.

The head of a UN inquiry into potential war crimes committed during the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict has resigned amid allegations of anti-Israel bias. William Schabas acknowledged he had previously done work for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), and did not want this to compromise the probe. Israel had accused Prof Schabas of “clear and documented bias” against it.


Jordan has confirmed the death of pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh after a video published online by Islamic State (IS) claimed to show him being burned alive. The video shows a man standing in a cage engulfed in flames. Officials are working to confirm its authenticity. Jordan’s King Abdullah hailed Lt Kasasbeh as a hero, saying Jordan must “stand united” in the face of hardship. The pilot was captured when his plane came down near Raqqa, Syria, during a mission against IS in December. The video posted on Tuesday was distributed via a Twitter account known as a source for IS propaganda.

King Abdullah II has returned to Jordan for crisis talks after curtailing a trip to the US following the killing of a Jordanian pilot by Islamic State. He landed in Amman a day after IS posted a video appearing to show pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burned alive.

Jordan has executed two convicts, including a female jihadist, following the killing of one of its air force pilots by Islamic State (IS) militants. The woman, failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi, and al-Qaeda operative Ziyad Karboli – both Iraqi nationals – were hanged at dawn, officials said. The executions came hours after IS posted a video appearing to show pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being burned alive.

Jordan says it has carried out 56 air strikes in three days on Islamic State logistics sites and hideouts. “We achieved what we aimed at,” Air Force chief Gen Mansour al-Jbour said.

Jordan intensified its strikes after captured pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh was shown being burned alive by IS.

ISIL has called for fresh attacks against France in a video released last week, nearly a month after the attacks in Paris, Yahoo! News reports, via AFP. In the video, an unidentified, masked jihadist is seen surrounded by militants calling on French Muslims to quit their country for ISIL’s self- proclaimed “caliphate”, which covers parts of Iraq and Syria […] and calls for more killings in France. He asks supporters to attack police and military targets, as well as those who participated in mass protests last month to condemn the killing of 12 people at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7.

Saudi Arabia is attempting to place its spies inside Islamic State (ISIS) as the kingdom scrambles to strengthen its defences’ amid fears of attacks by homegrown jihadists. Saudi Arabia has struggled to infiltrate the militant group since it swept out from strongholds in Syria last summer to capture large parts of northern and central Iraq. An ISIS raid that killed three Saudi soldiers on the kingdom’s northern border with Iraq last month has underscored the need for better intelligence from inside the group.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says it is “extremely concerned” by images seeming to show its food parcels in Syria being handed out bearing the logo of the Islamic State militant group. The pictures on social media appear to be from the town of Deir Haf, where WFP distributed food last August.


Two Russians working for UTair airline have been kidnapped in Sudan’s Darfur region, Russian officials say. UTair has a contract to fly aircraft for the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (Unamid) which has been in Darfur since 2007. It said two of its employees had been taken in the town of Zalingei on 29 January.


Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says he would rather see no deal on the country’s nuclear programme than one that undercuts Iranian interests. He would back an accord, but only if neither side got everything it wanted, he said in a statement. The comments came as the US and Iran held further talks in Munich.

Security measures were heightened at Cairo Airport last Tuesday after police found two bombs in different terminals, said security sources. The bombs were detected using electronic devices. No arrests were immediately made, Reuters reported. Also on Tuesday, an explosion was heard in Central Cairo, according to a witness. The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

Clashes between football fans and security forces in the Egyptian capital Cairo have left at least 22 people dead, prosecutors say. Fans of the Zamalek football club tried to force their way into a match without tickets, sparking the clashes, officials said.
The violence broke out ahead of a premier league game against ENPPI.


Up to 16 civilians have been killed and dozens more injured in the space of 24 hours in fighting in eastern Ukraine, last week. Government officials and representatives of the rebels reported deaths in locations across the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Ukraine’s army also said five soldiers had died during fierce clashes with the pro-Russian rebels near the strategic town of Debaltseve in eastern Donetsk.

Three people were killed and many more wounded when a shell hit a hospital in the rebel-held city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.


Two members of a cult in China have been executed for murdering a woman in a McDonald’s restaurant in Shandong, according to a local court. Zhang Lidong and his daughter Zhang Fan were members of the banned Church of the Almighty God cult. They were part of a group who attempted to recruit the 35-year-old victim, Wu Shuoyan, in the restaurant in the town of Zhaoyuan in May 2014. When she refused to give her phone number, they beat her to death.


A South Korean soldier who shot dead five of his colleagues and injured seven others has been sentenced to death by a military court. The sergeant opened fire in June 2014 at his post near the North Korean border and fled, sparking a manhunt.


A plane carrying mostly Chinese tourists has crashed into a river in Taiwan, killing at least 19 people. Dramatic video footage emerged showing the TransAsia Airways plane clipping a bridge as it came down shortly after take-off from a Taipei airport. The plane, carrying 58 people, has broken up and the fuselage is lying half-submerged in the Keelung River. Rescue efforts are ongoing.


Last week, French police arrested eight men suspected of recruiting fighters for Islamist militants in Syria, Interior Minister Barnard Cazeneuve said. The arrests in the Paris and Lyon areas are not linked to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, Mr Cazeneuve told local media.

On 3 February, three French soldiers were wounded in a knife attack outside a Jewish cultural centre in the southern city of Nice, the Interior Ministry said. The knifeman and a second man were detained by police following the attack. According to media reports, the man who stabbed the soldiers was arrested in Turkey last week while en-route to join ISIL. Moussa Coulibaly, 30, was detained at Istanbul airport and deported back to France after border control became suspicious.


The Spanish government and the main opposition party have agreed to pass new measures to combat individuals travelling to fight in radical Islamist groups or acting in “lone wolf” attacks on home soil, the country’s Prime Minister said last week. The agreement follows last month’s attacks by Islamist militants in Paris, which prompted European governments to look at expanding the powers of their security agencies.


On 2 February, a major evacuation was launched at the European Parliament after a man dressed in camouflage was arrested, and a chainsaw and gun found in his car. Prosecutors in Brussels said the man, from Slovakia, told police officers at the scene that he wanted to meet the European president. The incident sparked a security scare, including the evacuation of a number of offices nearby. The incident comes at a time when Belgium is on high alert after security forces foiled a plot by Islamist radicals to attack police stations across the country. Extra soldiers have been deployed.


Last week, Chadian troops have entered Nigeria to join the battle against militant Islamist group Boko Haram. Armoured vehicles and infantry crossed a bridge from Cameroon following air strikes and mortar attacks on Boko Haram positions.

In Nigeria, a female suicide bomber killed herself last week when she exploded a vehicle packed with explosives near a stadium where Nigeria’s president had just held an election rally in the northeastern city of Gombe, police said. They said there were no other casualties. [..] Most suicide bombings are blamed on Boko Haram Islamic extremists who are against democracy and have vowed to disrupt the Feb. 14 elections for the president, state governors and legislators in Nigeria, Africa’s richest and most populous nation.


Canadian police have arrested a man who they say was part of an Islamic State (ISIS) recruiting cell and charged two other men who are overseas, one of whom may be dead. Police said that they had arrested Awso Peshdary, 25, and charged him with participation in the activity of a terrorist group and with facilitating a terrorist group. Police also filed terrorism charges in absentia against Khadar Khalib, 23, and John Maguire, a 24-year-old convert to Islam. Both men had travelled to Syria. Maguire, who has appeared in an ISIS video calling for attacks against Canadians, might have been killed recently, according to reports.


An al-Qaeda terror suspect who plotted to blow up New York City subways and targets in Europe has claimed he wasn’t talking about bombs (in email chats) but trying to find to woman to marry. Abid Naseer said hours of online chats with other men from nine different email accounts was his attempt to find a suitable girlfriend. The 28-year-old Pakistani national is due to go on trial in New York later this month, accused of being part of a terror cell that planned attacks in the US, UK and

In an interview with CNN, the head of the FBI’s counterterrorist division, Michael Steinbach, acknowledges that it is extremely difficult to track every American who might travel abroad to join terrorist groups like ISIL, and says the unknown worries him the most. When asked if there are ISIL cells in the US, Steinbach said, “there are individuals that have been in communication with groups like ISIL who have a desire to conduct an attack” and those people are living in the US right now. In the US, the FBI has seen children as young as 15 recruited by ISIL and Steinbach said he “can’t speak with 100% certainty that individuals of that age group have not gotten over there successfully.”

President Obama will send Congress a proposal to authorize the use of force against ISIL shortly, the White House and House Speaker John Boehner has said. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration will send “specific language” of an Authorisation for the Use of Military Force to Congress [AUMF] “relatively soon,” while Boehner told Capitol Hill reporters he’s “expecting [an AUMF] sent up here in the coming days.” The move will set up “what’s sure to be a fierce political fight on Capitol Hill.”

As part of President Obama’s renewed push to close Guantanamo Bay, a US counterterrorism official told Senators that only six detainees released since the president’s pledge returned to terrorism or military activities. Speaking to a Senate panel skeptical on shuttering the infamous facility, Nicholas Rasmussen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said that the recidivism rates from Guantanamo were on the decline. Six of the 88 detainees released from Guantanamo since 2009 have been determined by US intelligence to be “directly involved in terrorist or insurgent activities,” Rasmussen told the Senate Armed Services Committee, for a confirmed recidivism rate of 6.8%


A hacker who hijacked computers to make death threats has been jailed for eight years. Yusuke Katayama played a game of cat and mouse with the authorities, leading them to make numerous wrongful arrests. He threatened a massacre at a comic book event, as well as to attack a school attended by the grandchildren of Japan’s Emperor Akihito.

Terrorists will soon be able to launch advanced cyber-attacks on critical national infrastructure, a leading security figure has warned. World governments are “scared” of cyber warfare and are not yet capable of deflecting cutting-edge hacks, Eugene Kaspersky, the founder and chief executive of Kaspersky Lab, said in an interview with The Times. Kaspersky, who advises the British government, Interpol and Europol on cyber-security issues, said that most states understood the “huge” problems they faced, but were a long way from having adequate systems in place to defend themselves. When asked what governments feared the most, Mr Kaspersky said: “My advice is to watch Die Hard 4.0.” In the 2007 film, which stars Bruce Willis, cyber terrorists attack the US by sabotaging traffic signals and air traffic control systems, stealing from banks and infiltrating the FBI’s computer networks.

Twitter’s chief executive says the company “sucks” at dealing with trolls and he is “ashamed” of how poorly it has dealt with the issue. Dick Costolo said in recent memos to employees that bullying behaviour could be driving users away, and he has promised tougher action to deal with abusers. He wrote, “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years.” The memos follow an internal employee forum in which a staff member asked what could be done to address abuse on the social network. Costolo promised to start “kicking these people off right and left and making sure that when they issue their ridiculous attacks, nobody hears them”. Twitter recently streamlined the process for reporting abuse, and in November it teamed up with an advocacy group to investigate harassment against women. According to studies, women are disproportionately affected by online abuse.

From The Times of India: Information technology (IT) companies in the city may soon be snooping on their employees’ surfing habits to check if they are accessing terror-related information on the internet. This follows the Cyberabad police’s advisory to the companies in view of several software professionals emerging as closet sympathisers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In the past few days, at least two meetings were held by the Cyberabad police with honchos of IT companies to take stock of preparedness for lone-wolf terror attacks, hostage crisis or other


9 Feb 1992 Algeria: State of Emergency declared following clashes between Islamists and government forces.
9 Feb 1996 Provisional IRA mount VBIED attack in Canary Wharf. Two people killed. Marked the end of the then PIRA ceasefire.
9 Feb 2000 PKK announces formal halt to war; adopts new name, Kongra Gel, and re- elects Abdullah Oçalan as its leader
11 Feb 2003 Information about a claimed terrorist threat to civil aviation at London’s Heathrow led to the largest security operation at the airport for more than 10 years.
12 Feb 2008 Assassination of the Hizballah official, Imad Mugniyah, believed responsible for 18 April 1983 bombing of US Embassy in Beirut, killed by car bomb in Damascus.
12 Feb 1996 The late Yasser Arafat was sworn in as president of the Palestinian authority in Gaza.
13 Feb 1979 Iranian Revolution Day
13 Feb 1984 Maqbool Butt, the co-founder of the Jammu & Kashmiri Liberation Front was hanged by the Indian authorities
14 Feb 1989 Death threat made against Salman Rushdie by Ayatollah Khomeini over the publication of the book, “The Satanic Verses”
15 Feb 1999 The Kurdish PKK leader, Abdullah Oçalan is arrested in Nairobi sparking Europe-wide protests.
16 Feb 1992 Sheikh Musawi – spiritual head of Hezbollah, killed by Israeli helicopter gunships in Southern Lebanon
16 Feb 1999 Greek Embassy in London is stormed and occupied by hundreds of Kurdish protesters.
16 Feb 2015 US Public Holiday – President’s Day
17 Feb 2003 Congestion charging started in London
19 Feb 2015 Chinese New Year
20 Feb 1998 Japanese Red Army member sentenced to 30 years for attack on US Embassy in Indonesia
22 Feb 1995 Anglo/Irish joint framework published to bring peace to Northern Ireland
23 Feb 1998 Osama bin Laden issued a ‘global Fatwa’ allowing attacks against American nationals worldwide
25 Feb 1991 Coalition forces start land offensive against Iraq in first Gulf War
26 Feb 1993 Vehicle bomb at the World Trade Center kills six and injures 1,000 – Ramzi Yousef later convicted of this attack
27 Feb 1991 Kuwait City liberated by coalition forces. Coalition forces halt offensive actions the following day.
27 Feb 1980 Colombian extremists (M-19) seize Dominican Embassy in Colombia holding 85 hostages (20 of whom were Ambassadors).
28 Feb 1994 NATO carries out first ever offensive action since it was formed: Two USAF F-16’s shoot down four Bosnian-Serb aircraft that were infringing a “No Fly” zone in Bosnia