Friday, December 23, 2011

Pakistani Taliban attack fort, kidnap 15

Tehrik-i-Taliban PakistanImage via Wikipedia
Pakistani Taliban fighters have attacked a paramilitary fort in northwestern Pakistan, killing one soldier and kidnapping 15 others, police said.

The brazen attack on Friday was followed by a statement to media in which the militants said they would kill the abducted troops.

Armed with only assault rifles, at least 35 militants targeted the Frontier Corps fort in Tank district before dawn, said local police chief Ejad Abid. The militants burned down buildings and captured a significant amount of weapons, he said.

One soldier was killed and two were wounded in the fighting, said Abid.

Another 15 are still missing and believed to have been kidnapped, he said.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to The Associated Press and said it was carried out to avenge the death of a local Taliban commander. He claimed 30 soldiers were kidnapped.

But another Taliban commander who said he carried out the attack, Asmatullah Shaheen, told the AP that he had 15 soldiers in his custody.

Ehsan said the Taliban have no intention of bargaining for the soldiers' release and intend to kill them.
"We are going to cut these soldiers into pieces one by one, and we will send these pieces to their commanders," said Ehsan.

Tank is located near the border with South Waziristan, an important sanctuary for the Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani military staged a large offensive there in 2009, but the militants continue to operate in the area.
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Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula announces formation

Shaded relief map of the Sinai Peninsula, 1992...Image via Wikipedia
A new jihadist group that calls itself Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula has announced its formation and has vowed to "fulfill the oath" of slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula made the announcement in an unsigned statement released on the Sinam al Islam jihadist web forum on Dec. 20. The statement was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
"With this message we send you the good tidings of the birth of the group 'Ansar al-Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula,' and we pledge unto Allah the Great and Almighty to do our best to fight the corrupt regime and its henchmen among the Jews, the Americans, and those around them," the statement said.
The terror group pledged "to fulfill the oath of the martyr of the Ummah, our Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may Allah have mercy on him: 'I swear by Allah the Great who raised the sky without pillars, that America nor those who live in America will ever enjoy security as long as we don't live it in reality in Palestine and before all the disbelieving armies get out of the Land of Muhammad ....'"
Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula blamed the "suffering" of the Egyptian people on the government of former President Hosni Mubarak, "his criminal allies, and what is called Israel, the usurpers of the land of the Palestine," as well as 'the great enemy of Islam, the cursed 'America.'"
It is unclear if Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula is the same as another group that calls itself Al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula. The latter group announced its existence this summer when it released pamphlets in the town of Al Arish in the northern Sinai. The group carried out several bombings this year against a natural gas pipeline that runs from Egypt to Israel.
Al Qaeda in the Sinai is also thought to have been involved in a series of attacks in August near the Israeli resort town of Eliat that killed eight Israelis.
In its statement, Ansar al Jihad in the Sinai Peninsula lauded the attacks near Eliat and praised "the masked martyr Salim Muhammad Jom'ah ... who is only a hero who moved a lot of the laggards in order to plant fear in the Jews through the operation of Umm al-Rashrash [Eilat]."
Security in the Sinai Peninsula has deteriorated since the popular uprising last winter that resulted in former President Mubarak's ouster. Hundreds of Islamists, many from Ayman al Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Group, have been freed from prisons, and some are thought to have returned to support terror groups.

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US offers $10 million reward for Iran-based al Qaeda financier

The State Department announced on Thursday that a reward of up to $10 million is being offered for any information leading to the capture of an Iran-based al Qaeda financier named Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, also known as Yasin al Suri. In July, the Treasury Department added al Suri and five other al Qaeda terrorists to its list of specially designated terrorists.


The State Department announced on Thursday that a reward of up to $10 million is being offered for any information leading to the capture of an Iran-based al Qaeda financier named Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, also known as Yasin al Suri. In July, the Treasury Department added al Suri and five other al Qaeda terrorists to its list of specially designated terrorists. [See LWJ report, Treasury targets Iran's 'secret deal' with al Qaeda.]
The six designated al Qaeda operatives have used Iranian soil to funnel funds and terrorists throughout the Middle East. They have done so as part of "an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government," according to Treasury.
One of the six, Atiyah Abd al Rahman, was subsequently killed in a US drone strike in August. According to Treasury, Osama bin Laden appointed Rahman as al Qaeda's "emissary in Iran, a position which allowed him to travel in and out of Iran with the permission of Iranian officials."
The addition of al Suri to the Rewards for Justice Program is the first time that a reward has been offered for information leading to the capture of terrorist financier, according to the US government officials who briefed the press.
"Under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Government of Iran, Yasin al Suri has helped move money and recruits through Iran to al Qaeda leaders in neighboring countries in the region," Robert Hartung, the State Department Assistant Director for Threat Investigations and Analysis, explained during the briefing.
"From his sanctuary inside Iran, he has moved terrorist recruits through Iran to al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and in Afghanistan," Hartung added. "He has also arranged for the release of al Qaeda operatives from Iranian prisons and their transfer to Pakistan. And he has funneled significant amounts of money through Iran to al Qaeda's leadership in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is a dedicated terrorist working in support of al Qaeda with the support of the Government of Iran, which the Department of State has designated a state sponsor of terrorism."
The Treasury Department's Assistant Director of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Eytan Fisch, also spoke at the briefing. Fisch described al Suri as a "senior al Qaeda facilitator" who Iranian authorities have allowed "to operate within Iran's borders since 2005."
"Al Suri's network has served as a financial conduit, collecting funds from donors throughout the Gulf and moving those funds via Iran to al Qaeda's leadership in Afghanistan and Iraq," Fisch added. "Al Suri's network also serves as the core pipeline for al Qaeda to funnel operatives and facilitators from the Middle East to Afghanistan and Pakistan."
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Twin bombings in Damascus kill several

Syrian state television says several people have been killed in two suicide car bombings outside security service facilities in the capital, Damascus.
The TV said civilians were among the dead after suspected al-Qaeda militants targeted bases of the General Security Directorate and another agency.
But opposition activists said the government had staged the attacks to influence an Arab League observer team.
They are part of a scheme aimed at ending the deadly crackdown on dissent.
The UN says more than 5,000 people have been killed and thousands more detained since anti-government protests erupted in March.
The monitors are tasked with overseeing the government's compliance with an agreement that should see an end to violence by both sides, troops withdrawn from the streets and all detained protesters released.

Witnesses told the BBC that Friday's explosions emanated from the western Qaboun district of Damascus, close to Abbasiyyin Square, and from the Jamarek area of Mezzeh, an eastern district of the capital.
The sound of gunfire was also reported in the central Malki district.
State TV said several soldiers and a large number of civilians were killed in two attacks "carried about by suicide bombers driving vehicles packed with explosives against bases of State Security [General Security Directorate] and another branch of the security services".
"Preliminary investigations showed al-Qaeda was responsible," it added.

Read more:
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Royal Marine killed in Afghanistan explosion

A Royal Marine who was believed to be on a special mission has been killed in an explosion in Afghanistan today.

The Marine was fatally wounded when the vehicle in which he was travelling was caught in a blast, the Ministry of Defence said. His family have been told.

It is understood he was serving with a special forces unit but the MoD does not comment specifically on such deaths.

The incident happened south of the capital, Kabul. Most UK forces are based in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.

A spokeswoman said: "It is with great sadness that the Ministry of Defence must confirm that a Royal Marine was killed today, Thursday 22nd December, south of Kabul in Afghanistan.

"He was fatally wounded after the vehicle in which he was travelling was caught in an explosion."

A total of 392 British troops have died since the start of operations in Afghanistan in 2001.

Earlier this week Prime Minister David Cameron indicated he was planning further withdrawals of troops from the country in 2013 after the 500 due to be pulled out next year.

But he again refused to give an exact timescale for how Britain's deployment would be withdrawn ahead of his deadline for all combat troops to be out by the end of 2014.
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Image of the day: 22 December 2011


 Captain Carolyn Whiting with Travis (right) and Lance Corporal Louise Robinson and Hi Ha at the Camp Bastion Military Working dog Unit (MWDU) in festive gear.[Picture: Corporal Jamie Peters RLCCrown Copyright/MOD 2011.]

Operation Thunder Clinton - a night raid video (+video)

Operation Thunder Clinton

Afghan National and U.S. Soldiers from the Alpha Company, 179th Infantry Regiment, 45th IBCT, conducted a joint operation, Operation Thunder Clinton to capture a known Taliban commander in Wat-Ed-Jaber Khel, Nuralam Valley, Afghanistan, December 05-06, 2011.
The kill/capture of this known insurgent is a demonstration of the ability and capability of the ANA to provide necessary security to Laghman Province.
(U.S. Army video by Pfc. Matthew Wager/Released)


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