Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Mali Rebel Group Seeks Negotiations

map by Evan Centanni (
A portion of Mali's Ansar Dine rebel group has broken away to form its own movement, and is expressing a willingness to seek a negotiated solution to the country's crisis.

In a statement issued Thursday, the newly formed Islamic Movement for Azawad also said it is ready to fight extremism.

​​Ansar Dine rebels joined with ethnic Tuaregs to seize control of northern Mali following a March coup.  Ansar Dine and other Islamist groups then took full control of the region, where they want to impose strict Islamic law.

In late December, Ansar Dine agreed to a cease-fire with the government, but suspended it earlier this month saying the government was not sincere about peace negotiations.

Islamist fighters began pushing south into government-controlled areas, prompting airstrikes from French forces acting at the request of Mali's government to halt the advance.  French and Malian troops have retaken some rebel-held areas, while a growing African intervention force continues to arrive in Mali to help fully regain control of the north.

​​U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate panel Wednesday that instability in Mali has created an "expanding safe haven for terrorists" who are looking to extend their reach. She said the United States and its allies have been working with Mali's neighbors to upgrade security, but that most do not have the capacity to do so.

Clinton said eliminating rebels from northern Mali is a daunting challenge.

"This is going to be a very serious ongoing threat because if you look at the size of northern Mali, if you look at the topography, it is not only desert, it is caves - sounds reminiscent.  We are in for a struggle but it is a necessary struggle.  We can not permit northern Mali to become a safe haven," she said.

Also Wednesday, a coalition of rights groups said it has reports that Malian soldiers have carried out executions and committed other human rights violations since French forces entered the country this month.

The International Federation of Human Rights Leagues said elements of the Malian army carried out executions in the towns of Sevare, Mopti and Nioro on January 10. It is calling for the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the allegations.

from VOA News
January 24, 2013

Enhanced by Zemanta

Somali militants threaten to kill Kenyan hostages

NAIROBI, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Somalian Al-Shabaab militants who kidnapped two Kenyan civil servants a year ago have threatened to kill them unless Kenya releases all Muslim prisoners held on terrorism charges.
In a statement posted on the militants' Twitter account Wednesday night, the Al-Qaida-allied group gave Kenya, which launched a military campaign in southern Somalia in October 2011 to pursue militants blamed for insecurity in the country, three weeks to release the prisoners.

"The Kenyan government must release all Muslim prisoners held on so-called terrorism charges in Kenya. The Kenyan government must secure the release of Muslims extradited to Uganda for terrorism charges," Al-Shabaab said in the message.

The insurgents have also released a video of the two Kenyans, who were seized from the frontier county of Wajir, claiming "the video carries an important message from the prisoners, and Kenyan government is advised to pay close attention to the pleas of the POWs (prisoners of war)."

"The release of the Muslim prisoners is unconditional and must be made public," it posted on Twitter.

"Kenyan government has three weeks, starting midnight 24/01/2013 to respond to the demands of HSM (Harakat Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen) if the prisoners are to remain alive," it warned.

"Following the expiration of this period, all the Kuffar Kenyan prisoners who appeared in the recent video will be executed," Al-Shabaab said.

The threats came barely a week after the militants executed French intelligence agent Denis Allex in retaliation for a botched French operation to free him.

Kenya has heightened security around the country, with security agencies at an unprecedented state of alert after recent reports Al-Shabaab planned attacks against the East African nation and foreign interests in the country.

The militant group has also come under pressure from African Union peacekeepers, which have pushed them out of the Somali capital Mogadishu and from Ethiopia.

Al-Shabaab is known for enforcing a strict brand of Islam in the areas under its rule and is believed to have links to Al-Qaeda. The group has also blocked some international aid workers from accessing parts of Somalia suffering from drought and famine.

Kenya blames the group for a string of attacks and kidnappings on its territory, including those of four Europeans.

The Kenyan government says the kidnappings threaten tourism, a key source of revenue for the country.

Al-Shabaab has been fighting since 2008 to topple Somalia's weak central government. It is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. government. 

2013-01-24 15:58:21
Editor: Zhu Ningzhu

Enhanced by Zemanta

US drones strike again in Yemen, killing 6 AQAP fighters near capital

US drones yet again targeted al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters in Yemen, this time outside the capital of Sana'a. The strike today is the fourth by the US in Yemen in five days. The US has expanded the drone campaign throughout all of Yemen over the past year.

The CIA-operated, remotely piloted Predators or the more deadly Reapers attacked a vehicle as it traveled in a rural area outside of Sana'a, according to Reuters. Six AQAP members are said to have been killed in the attack. No senior AQAP fighters are reported to have been killed in today's strike.

US drones have struck AQAP in Sana'a one other time in the past. On Nov. 7, 2012, the remotely piloted attack aircraft killed Adnan al Qadhi, an al Qaeda commander who was involved in the attack on the US Embassy in Sana'a in 2008, along with two fighters. Al Qadhi commanded local AQAP forces in and around the capital at the time of his death.

Today's strike in Sana'a is the fourth in Yemen in five days, and the fifth strike this month. The US launched two strikes in Marib province on Jan. 19 and Jan. 21; two Saudis are reported to have been killed in the Jan. 19 attack. In another strike, on Jan. 22, the US killed four AQAP fighters in a strike on a vehicle in Al Jawf province in northern Yemen.

The US appears to be launching several strikes over a short period of time, followed by weeks in which no strikes occur. Between Dec. 24, 2012 and Jan. 3, 2013, the US conducted five drone strikes in Yemen. But prior to the Dec. 24 strike, the last recorded strike by the US in Yemen took place on Nov. 7, 2012.

Additionally, over the past eight months, the US has begun to target AQAP outside of the traditional strongholds of Abyan and Shabwah provinces in the south. Of the 25 strikes against AQAP since the beginning of June 2012 that have been recorded by The Long War Journal, only four have hit AQAP in Abyan and Shabwah. The other 21 strikes have targeted AQAP operatives in the provinces of Aden, Al Baydah, Al Jawf, Hadramout, Marib, Saada, and Sana'a. Of the 18 strikes that were conducted between January 2012 and the end of May, 10 occurred in Abyan and Shabwah.

Read more:
Enhanced by Zemanta

Jan. 24., 2013. - ISAF Joint Command Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan (Jan. 24) – An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Haqqani facilitator in Sabari district, Khost province, today.

The facilitator was responsible for purchasing and selling weapons to support the insurgency. He coordinated the movement of improvised explosive device materials and ammunition to insurgents operating in the district.

The security force also detained two suspected insurgents and seized multiple firearms as a result of the operation.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban facilitator in Panjwa’i district, Kandahar province, yesterday. The facilitator coordinated the movement of weapons and ammunition in the district for use in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. He also provided financial and logistic support for improvised explosive devices and offered a safe haven for insurgents. In addition, the security force detained one suspected insurgent and seized 45 kilograms (100 pounds) of illegal narcotics.


During a security operation in Pul-e ‘Alam district, Logar province, yesterday, coalition forces discovered a large cache of improvised explosive device elements. The cache contained 600 sacks of ammonium nitrate totaling 30,000 kilograms (66,138 pounds). The coalition force also discovered 100 paint cans of ammonium nitrate and 6,000 meters (19,685 feet) of electrical wire.

Afghan and coalition security forces killed two insurgents during a security operation in search of an al-Qaida associated Taliban leader in Ghaziabad district, Kunar province, yesterday. The leader organizes attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and enables insurgent movements throughout the province.

During a security operation in Khugyani district, Nangarhar province, Wednesday, an Afghan and coalition security force killed three heavily armed insurgents. The security force positively identified several armed individuals conducting insurgent activity and conducted a precision airstrike, killing them.

Afghan and coalition security forces confirmed today that a Taliban leader was arrested during an operation in Khanabad district, Kunduz province, Monday. The leader was associated with Muhibullah Jan, the Taliban leader killed during the operation, and oversaw the construction, delivery and emplacement of improvised explosive devices.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Jan. 24., 2013. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces detained one suspected insurgent and cleared an improvised explosive device during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, Jan. 23.

Parwan province

Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces detained a suspected insurgent in Bagram district. The detained suspect was transferred to a base for questioning.

Logar province

Afghan National Army soldiers found and safely cleared an IED in Charkh district.

Also in Logar province, late reporting indicates Afghan and coalition forces found and safely cleared a cache in Pul-E Alam district, Jan. 22.
The cache contained 300-400 kilograms of ammonium nitrate.

Operations in RC-East are ongoing.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Pakistani Taliban vow to attack “BJP-backed terror camps in Kashmir”

Photo shows spokesman for banned militant outfit, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Ehsanullah Ehsan.—File Photo
PESHAWAR: Pakistani Taliban have said the UN bodies and the United States should stop the “BJP-sponsored state terrorism in Kashmir,” otherwise the TTP has the ability to strike inside Indian-administered Kashmir.

Speaking to Dawn.Com on Wednesday, the TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the Indian Home Minister’s statement regarding BJP-backed terrors camps is an open confession that Hindu extremists are being patronized under the state’s authority for killing innocent Kashmiri Muslims.

“The US and UN should also order drone strikes and coalition troops invasion, to target these terror camps, which are mentioned by the Indian minister of fanning Hindu terrorism,” said Ehsan.

“If the US and the UN could not take care of the state-sponsored-terrorism in Kashmir and the BJP/RSS terrorism against Muslims in India, then TTP has the ability to strike and take care of it.”

Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had accused the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological mentor the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) on Sunday of promoting Hindu terrorism, which in turn was responsible for the fatal bombings of the Samjhauta Express among other Muslim targets.

To a query, Ehsan declared the present jihad in Indian-administered Kashmir as “merely a drama” and talked about a “practical jihad” for freedom of the Kashmiri Muslims.

About launching attacks on the BJB and RSS terror camps, the TTP spokesman said, “Soon everyone will realise how much ability they (TTP) have and how they are going to strike both, Indian state terrorism centers and the Hindu terrorists organisations.”

by DAWN.COM and Zahir Shah Sherazi

Enhanced by Zemanta

R.I.P. - Sgt. Mark H. Schoonhoven

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Sgt. Mark H. Schoonhoven, 38, of Plainwell, Mich., died Jan. 20, at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device on Dec. 15, 2012 in Kabul, Afghanistan. 

            He was assigned to the 32nd Transportation Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.

            For more information the media may contact the Fort Carson public affairs office at 719-526-4143/7525 or after normal business hours at 719-526-5500.


from Michigan MLIVE:
By Rex Hall Jr. 
on January 23, 2013 at 3:27 PM, updated January 23, 2013 at 3:39 PM

PLAINWELL, MI – A U.S. Army sergeant from Plainwell died Sunday from injuries he suffered last month when his unit was attacked in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Department of Defense has confirmed.
Sgt. Mark H. Schoonhoven, 38, was wounded Dec. 15 when his unit was attacked by enemy forces armed with an improvised explosive device, according to a news release issued Wednesday.

Schoonhoven died Sunday at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.

Schoonhoven, who had been in Afghanistan since November, was on his third deployment to the country when he was injured, DOD officials said.

Schoonhoven was assigned to the 32nd Transportation Company, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colo.

Schoonhoven is the second soldier from Plainwell to be killed while serving a tour in Afghanistan.

In May 2011, Pvt. Thomas Allers, of Plainwell, and three other soldiers in his battalion were killed by a blast from an IED in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Search this blog