Friday, February 17, 2012

Leading al-Qaida member killed in southern Yemen

Yemen division 2011-10-23
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ADEN, Yemen, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- A local leading member of the Yemen-based al-Qaida wing were killed Friday evening, along with three bodyguards, when the government army forces shelled the hideouts of the terrorist group in the war-torn southern province of Abyan, a security official told Xinhua.

The army forces pounded the hideouts of the terrorists in and around Zinjibar city, the provincial capital city of Abyan, with an intensive artillery shelling and Katyusha rockets, killing a top leader and three of his bodyguards, the security official said on condition of anonymity.

"The army forces rained the al-Qaida strongholds in the suburbs of Zinjibar with heavy artillery shells, bombing a vehicle of the group's top leader in Abyan," the official said.

"The leader and his three bodyguards were killed instantly while dozens of others were injured during the army bombardment," he said, adding that the strike was "the heaviest of its kind in weeks."

The official was unable to provide further details about the killed al-Qaida leader and his name.

A source close to the al-Qaida fighters confirmed to Xinhua the army bombing, saying that "our strongholds are under repeated and unprecedented artillery bombing by U.S.-backed army forces since this afternoon."

Abyan, some 480 km south of the Yemeni capital Sanaa, has been the scene of fierce daily fighting after hundreds of militants of the Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) captured Zinjibar and at least three other towns in May 2011.

The ongoing fighting shows the country's fragile security situation days ahead of the early presidential elections slated on Feb. 21, which will end the rule of outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is currently in the United States for medical treatment.

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D.C. suicide attack thwarted after FBI sting investigation

English: FBI agents from the Washington Field ...
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A 29-year-old Moroccan man suspected of plotting a suicide attack at the Capitol was arrested Friday near the building in an FBI sting operation, according to the U.S. Capitol Police and media reports.

“This arrest was the culmination of a lengthy and extensive operation during which the individual was closely and carefully monitored,” Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said in a statement. “The U.S. Capitol Police was intimately involved in the investigation for the duration of the operation. At no time was the public or congressional community in any danger.”

Schneider said both the Capitol Police and FBI were involved in the arrest, but did not give any further details about the individual or the suspected plot.

Fox News, which first reported the story, said the man was carrying a suicide vest containing what he believed were explosives but the materials were actually inert. He was arrested after leaving a mosque where he was praying before heading to the Capitol, the network said, adding that the suspect believed the FBI agents that were working with him were associates of Al Qaeda.

A Capitol Police spokeswoman would not confirm where the arrest was made, but Samuel Lul, an attendant at an underground parking garage at 122 C St., NW, located behind the Charlie Palmer Steak restaurant and next to the Department of Labor just blocks away from the Capitol, told POLITICO that police had shut down the garage Friday morning.

According to Lul, at around 10 a.m., police instructed him to leave the garage and sealed off an alley that gives access to the underground lot. Lul said he wasn’t told why the garage was being closed and wasn’t allowed to return until about noon.

The suspect had overstayed his visitor visa for years, and the FBI had provided him with an inoperable gun and inert explosives, officials told The Associated Press. The suspect, who is not believed to be associated with al Qaeda, also changed his mind about his target several times before finally deciding on the Capitol, the AP said.

NBC said the man lives in Alexandria, Va., was planning to go to the Capitol Visitor Center with the intention of setting off what he believed were explosives in an area full of people.

“We can confirm that there has been an arrest of a suspect in Washington, D.C. in connection with a terrorism investigation,” Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in an email. “The arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which the suspect was closely monitored by law enforcement. Explosives the suspect allegedly sought to use in connection with the plot had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public. Additional information will be forthcoming at the appropriate time.”

Scott Wong and Josh Gerstein contributed to this story.

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Car bomb in Mogadishu police compound wounds 2

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- A car bomb exploded inside a police compound in Somalia's capital on Friday, wounding two people, an official said.

Smoke was billowing into the sky after a car bomb went off inside the compound of the building housing a police unit against crime, witnesses told Xinhua.

The blast rattled Mogadishu, but Lt. Aden Kalmoy Dhaqane, a military official, said the explosion wounded only two people.

Police officer Dahir Mohammed said authorities had arrested two suspected suicide car bombers earlier Friday and had taken their car into the headquarters of the criminal investigations department, where it exploded. Mohammed said officials suspect it was detonated by a remote trigger.

Al-Shabaab linked to Al-Qaida has escalated attacks in the war- torn capital recently, although under mounting pressure from the government forces, the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission, the Kenyan military operation in the south of the Horn of Africa country and the anti-terror action by Ethiopia.

Al-Shabaab was driven out of Mogadishu in August 2011 by the government and AU peacekeeping forces. The latest attack came after Al-Qaida announced the merger with Al-Shabab a few days ago. 
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21 al-Qaida fighters captured in security raid in south Yemen

Yemen division 2011-10-23
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SANAA, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Yemeni government forces captured 21 al-Qaida operatives in a raid on Friday dawn in the country's restive province of al-Bayda, a local security official said, a day after a al-Qaida local chief was assassinated in an intelligence-organized operation.

"A total of 21 al-Qaida fighters, including two commanders, were captured early Friday in a successful joint raid of the Central Security Forces and a unit of the Republican Guards against the terrorist hideouts in al-Bayda's central city," officer Yahya Motahar told Xinhua by phone.

"Heavy machine guns were used in the raid, forcing the well- armed terrorists entrenching in three houses in downtown of the city to surrender," he said.

The detainees were followers of the slain al-Qaida local leader Tariq al-Dhahab who had in January overrun neighboring al-Bayda's town of Radda for a week before he withdrew his militants following a deal with the Yemeni government.

Al-Dhahab, a brother-in-law of the slain Yemeni-born U.S. cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, was assassinated in a mosque in Radda by his half-brother Hizam on Thursday, in an operation planned by the Yemeni intelligence apparatus, according to security officials in Sanaa.

A source close to al-Dhahab family told Xinhua anonymously that "intelligence-agent Hizam was later killed by his al-Qaida-link youngest brother Qayed to revenge for the killing of Tariq."

Al-Bayda, some 170 km southeast of the capital Sanaa, has witnessed during the past four weeks a remarkable progress by the Yemeni government against Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of the Islamic Law), a local name of the regional off-shoot in Yemen know as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Since late January 2011, when protests erupted against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the AQAP has been working to bolster their presence in the country's remote regions.

The group has taken control of several cities and towns across the restive southern provinces, as the U.S.-backed Yemeni government forces engaged in fierce clashes with the terrorists during the past months, leaving hundreds of people killed.

The AQAP, entrenching itself mainly in Yemen's southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa, is on the terrorist list of the United States, which considers it as an increasing threat to its national security.
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15+ killed in suicide blast in NW Pakistan(updated)

Map of Pakistan
Map of Pakistan (Photo credit: Omer Wazir)
UPDATE: At least 25 people were killed and over 50 others were injured in a suicide blast that hit a mosque in Pakistan's northwest tribal area of Kurram Agency which borders Afghanistan Friday afternoon, reported local media.

The attack took place at about 1:50 p.m. local time when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into a mosque located near a market place in Parachinar, a main city in Kurram Agency, according to a report by local Urdu TV channel Express.
A large number of people were offering Friday prayers inside the mosque when the blast took place.
Express quoted district headquarter hospital sources as saying that 25 people have been confirmed dead and over 50 others were injured and many of the injured still remain in critical condition so the death toll could further rise.

ISLAMABAD, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- At least 15 people were killed and over ten others were injured in a suicide blast that hit a market area in Pakistan's northwest tribal area of Kurram Agency which borders Afghanistan Friday afternoon, reported local media.

The attack took place at about 1:50 p.m. local time at a main market in Parachinar, a city in northwest Kurram Agency, which is located just about 15 kilometers away from the Afghan border, according to a report by local Urdu TV channel Samaa.

Many shops around the blast site were damaged, said the report, adding that all the injured people have been rushed to the district headquarter hospital.

Police have cordoned off the blast site and a search operation is kicked off in the surrounding area.

Details about the suicide bomber are not known.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

Friday's suicide blast in Kurram Agency is the third of its kind that happened in Pakistan over the last two days.

On Thursday two suicide blasts were reported in northwest Pakistan. One is in Upper Dir in which three local pro-government militiamen were killed and seven others were injured.

The other is in Peshawar, the largest city in northwest Pakistan, in which a suicide bomber hit a patrolling police vehicle at the outskirts of the city, wounding five cops.

No group claimed responsibility for both attacks which happened at a time when the Afghan president embarked on a two-day state visit to Pakistan.

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US Predators kill 19 'militants' in 2 North Waziristan strikes

Unmanned US Predator or Reaper strike aircraft killed 19 "militants," including foreign fighters, in a pair of strikes in the Miramshah and Mir Ali areas of Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan today. The strikes broke a one-week-long lull in US attacks in the tribal areas.

In the first strike, the CIA-operated drones fired a pair of missiles at a compound used by "militants" in the village of Spalga near Miramshah, according to AFP. SAMAA reported that seven people were killed and seven more were wounded in the strike. The exact target of that strike has not been disclosed, and the identity of those killed is not known.

In the second strike, the drones fired missiles at a pickup truck that was traveling near the town of Mir Ali. A Pakistani intelligence official told AFP that 12 Uzbek fighters, likely from the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, were killed.

Senior terrorists are known to have sheltered in the village of Spalga in the past. The US has struck at targets in the village four other times since the end of 2009, according to data on the strikes that has been compiled by The Long War Journal.

Saleh al Somali, al Qaeda's operations chief, was killed in a US drone strike in Spalga on Dec. 9, 2009. Al Somali was a longtime al Qaeda operative who was present in Mogadishu during the infamous Black Hawk Down incident that resulted in the deaths of 19 US troops and hundreds of Somalis during an operation to detain a warlord in the capital in the fall of 1993.

Al Qaeda's external operations network has been a prime target of the covert US air campaign in Pakistan's tribal areas. The US has targeted al Qaeda and Taliban camps designated to train operatives holding foreign passports, while the leadership of the external operations branch has also been hit hard.

The Haqqani Network, a Taliban group that operates in North Waziristan as well as in eastern Afghanistan, administers the Miramshah area where today's first attack took place. Al Qaeda leaders and operatives, who are closely allied with the Haqqani Network, shelter in the area, as do other terror groups. Similarly, the Mir Ali area, about 25 kilometers east of Miramshah, is also used by a variety of terror groups for shelter and training. A local al Qaeda leader named Abu Kasha al Iraqi holds sway in the Mir Ali area.

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Russian forces kill Caucasus Emirate's commander for Dagestan

The Islamic Caucasus Emirate announced that Russian troops killed Emir Saleh (Ibragimkhalil Daudov), the terror group's governor of Dagestan and the military commander of the Dagestani front. Saleh's death was announced yesterday by VDagestan, a jihadist site linked to the Caucasus Emirate, and was subsequently translated by Kavkaz Center, another media outlet for the Caucasus Emirate, as follows:
The news of the martyrdom of the DF Emir Saleh distributed by invaders' media had received confirmation from the Command of the Mujahideen of Province of Dagestan. Our Emir Saleh received his long-awaited martyrdom. We mourn him as we mourn every worthy son of the Ummah and Dagestan. May Allah accept his martyrdom and his deeds. And let his blood be shed as a barakah for the blessed jihad in the Caucasus. And let him be yet another brick in the building of the Islamic State on the territory of the Caucasus Emirate.
Emir Saleh (Ibragimkhalil Daudov). Image from Kavkaz Center.
Although VDagestan/Kavkaz Center did not provide the exact date of Saleh's death, four terrorists were killed in the village of Gurbuki in Dagestan by Russian forces on Feb. 10, according to RIA Novosti.
Saleh was appointed by Doku Umarov, the emir of the Caucasus Emirate, as both the "Governor" of Dagestan and the "Commander of the Dagestani Front of the Caucasus Emirate's Armed Forces." Saleh replaced Emir Sayfullah, who was the terror group's top judge was well as its leader in Dagestan before he was killed in August 2011.
Saleh may have been replaced by a Turk known as Sheikh Abdusalam, according to the Russia Eurasia Terror Watch (RETWA):
Authorities believe a Turkish "mercenary" identified as "Sheikh Abdusalam" has likely been picked by Dagestani fighters to replace Ibragim Khalil Daudov, Amir of the Dagestani Front, killed earlier this week (see RETWA reporting). Abdusalam was Daudov's deputy. Life News reports that Abdusalam underwent training at a camp for terrorists in Turkey and came to the North Caucasus five years ago.
Al Qaeda commanders are known to serve in senior leadership positions with the Caucasus Emirate [see LWJ report, Russians kill top Caucasus Emirate leader, for more information].

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