Sunday, March 24, 2013

Al-Qaida Names New North African Chief

(Reuters) - Algerian Djamel Okacha has been named as a new commander in al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), replacing Abdelhamid Abou Zeid who was killed in fighting in northern Mali, Algerian Ennahar TV said on Sunday.

An Algerian security source said Okacha, 34, was very close to AQIM's leader Abdelmalek Droukdel as both belonged to the Group of Algiers, made up of militants born in the region around the Algerian capital.

The source also said that he was confident that al Qaeda commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar, whose death was reported shortly after that of Abou Zeid, was dead.

"Okacha is Droukdel's right-hand man," he said. Okacha's priority would be to reorganize AQIM after it registered the losses of two heavyweight commanders.

France said last week that it had confirmed "with certainty" the death of Abou Zeid, saying that he had been killed in fighting led by French forces in the Adrar des Ifoghas region of northern Mali at the end of February.

It made no comment on Belmokhtar, presumed mastermind of an attack in January at the In Amenas gas plant in Algeria in which more than 60 people were killed, including foreign hostages.

Both commanders' deaths had been reported by Chad, but many analysts remain skeptical about Belmokhtar, noting that his experience and knowledge of the desert terrain could have helped him escape after French-led military operations were launched against the Islamist militants in Mali this year.

Okacha, also known as Yahia Abu El Hamam, joined AQIM northern Mali in 2004, the security source told Reuters.

"He was present at the attack against a military barracks in Mauritania in 2005, and he was also present in the killing of an American in 2009," the source said, referring to aid worker Christopher Leggett.

Algerian security sources had said earlier they believed Abou Zeid and Belmokhtar were together when they were killed.

"I strongly believe that Belmokhtar is dead," the security source said.

A jihadist quoted by the SITE monitoring service on March 3 rejected reports that Belmoktar had been killed, saying he was alive and would soon release a message. No message has been released.

Belmokhtar represented an important link to al Qaeda's roots, having trained in Afghanistan in the early 1990s.

France launched a joint military campaign with some African armies in Mali in January after Islamist rebels took control of the north of the country and began a move south towards the capital Bamako.

On Sunday, Mauritania's news agency ANI reported that AQIM had beheaded a French hostage, Philippe Verdon, captured in northern Mali two years ago. AQIM said other French hostages were at risk because of France's intervention in Mali.

By Lamine Chikhi
ALGIERS | Sun Mar 24, 2013 3:01pm EDT
(Writing by Myra MacDonald; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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Somalia: The Federal Government Troops and Ethiopian Troops Attack Shabab Bases in Gedo

map by Evan Centanni (
Mogadishu ( ) A fierce battle between Somali government troops helped by their Ethiopian counterparts against Alshabab milia started in different parts of Gedo.
The government troops and the Ethiopian army started there journey from Garbaharey a town in gedo  region.They started their mission at a palace called Birta deer a small town 18 kilometers south of Garbaharey.Officials from the government contacted shabelle media  informed us that this town was in the hands of Alshabab before the battle started.

Abdi barre Abdi an official from the Government informed Shabele that they have taken over Strategic places from the militia and they will continue to fight out Alshabab from the region.

The official informed the media that there have been casualties of three government troops injured and praised that an equivalent or more have been done to the militia.He added that they will continue their fight against the group and are now heading towards other towns that are Alshabab strongholds in the region

from allAfrica/Shabelle
By Maalik_som, 24 March 2013

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R.I.P. - Sgt. 1st Class James F. Grissom

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

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

            Sgt. 1st Class James F. Grissom, 31, of Hayward, Calif., died March 21 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds suffered from small arms fire March 18 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

            For more information, media may contact the Special Forces Command (Airborne) public affairs office at 910-689-6187.

Grissom graduated from Mt. Eden High School in 1999 and attended college at the Art Institute of San Francisco, earning his Associate's Degree in Computer Animation.

He enlisted in the Army in June, 2003, under the 18X Special Forces Enlistment Program.After graduating from the Special Forces Qualification Course in October, 2005, Grissom was assigned to 2ndBattalion., 1st SFG (A) JBLM. During his time with 2nd Battalion, Grissom deployed on several JCETs (Joint Combined Exchange Training), and deployed to Iraq in 2009. Grissom wasre-assigned to 4thBattalion in Nov. 2010 as an engineersergeant and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan in 2012.

His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal (2nd Oak Leaf Cluster), the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral 2, Army Service Ribbon, Special Forces Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.
He was posthumously awarded the Bronze star Medal.
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In Several Joint Clearance Operations, Nine Armed Taliban Killed (Mar.24.2013.)

Publish Date: Mar 24, 2013
In Several Joint Clearance Operations, Nine Armed Taliban Killed


In past 24 hours, Afghan National Police conducted several joint clearance operations with the cooperation of Afghan National Army, NDS and Coalition Forces to clean some of the areas from terrorists and enemies of peace and stability of Afghanistan.

The operations were conducted in Kunar, Badakhshan and Nimroz provinces, as a result nine armed Taliban were killed, 17 wounded and one other armed Talib was arrested by Afghan National Security Forces.
Also, during these operations, Afghan National Police discovered and confiscated some amount of light and heavy round ammunitions and IEDs.

During the same 24 hour period, Afghan National Police discovered and defused nine different types of mines placed by enemies of Afghanistan for destructive activities in Helmand, Kandahar, Faryab and Baghlan provinces.
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Mar. 24., 2013. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan National Security Forces found and safely cleared three IEDs and detained two suspected insurgents during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, March 23.

Ghazni province
Afghan National Security Forces detained two suspected insurgents during operations in the Dehyak district. The suspected insurgents were taken to a base for questioning.

Afghan National Security Forces found and safely cleared two IEDs during operations in the Gelan district.

Laghman province
Afghan National Security Forces found and safely cleared an IED during operations in the Mehtar Lam district.

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Al-Qaida suspects kidnap military intelligence officer in southern Yemen

ADEN, Yemen, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Suspected al-Qaida militants abducted a military intelligence officer from his residential building in Yemen's southern province of Abyan on Sunday, a government official told Xinhua.
Four gunmen suspected of belonging to the al-Qaida terrorist group kidnapped Brig. Khaled Masood from his house located in the eastern suburbs of Mudiyah town in Abyan province, the local government official said on condition of anonymity.

"The al-Qaida suspects who were armed with assault rifles raided the officer's house and took him to unknown location," the government source said.

The source said that the military officer was kidnapped and taken to an unknown destination. Security authorities were working to track the kidnappers.

No one has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping so far.

Several security and intelligence officials were assassinated or kidnapped in recent months in southern regions, where the al- Qaida militants are active.

Combating al-Qaida militants in the restive south is one of the challenges confronting Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has promised to uproot the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida with the help of the United States and neighboring Saudi Arabia.

2013-03-24 19:59:19

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Death toll from Miramshah suicide attack reaches 22

MIRAMSHAH: The death toll from yesterday’s suicide attack on a security checkpost in North Waziristan’s Miramshah area reached 22 whereas the number wounded was reported as 35, military sources told

A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden car near a mosque in Miramshah close to the residential quarters of Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) officials.

The FWO is engaged in several development projects in the area.

Most of the security personnel killed belonged to the Tochi scouts who were deployed for the security of FWO officials.

Earlier the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) had said in a statement that 17 security personnel had died in the attack.

from DAWN
by Zahir Shah Sherazi | 8 hours ago


By Sayed Jawad - 24 Mar 2013, 1:35 pm

Suicide attack leaves 17 soldiers dead in North Waziristan
According to Pakistani security officials, the number of soldiers killed from a car bomb attack on an army check post in Pakistan’s northwest tribal region has risen to 17.

The suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into Esha check post near Miranshah, the main town of North Waziristan Agency, last night.

Intelligence officials say the vehicle exploded next to two tankers that were supplying fuel to troops in the North Waziristan tribal area. The blast set the tankers on fire and destroyed two residential army barracks.

In the meantime a military spokesman said, six security personnel were killed instantly and 11 more died later. Over a dozen security personnel were also injured following the blast.

No group claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. North Waziristan is the main sanctuary for Taliban and al-Qaida militants in Pakistan.
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Did Tunisia’s Salafi Jihadists Just Announce Their Allegiance to al-Qaeda?

by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Aaron Y. Zelin - al-Wasat  blog

On Friday, Magharebia came out with a report that has already garnered attention among those who follow jihadist militancy. The publication claims that Tunisia’s salafi jihadists have just announced their allegiance (bayat) to al-Qaeda:
Tunisian salafist jihadists announced their allegiance to al-Qaeda this week, accepting the group’s invitation to wage a holy war.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s call Sunday (March 17th) to fight Westerners, secularists, reformers and other so-called “enemies” was welcomed by Tunisian salafist jihadists, the movement’s leader Mohamed Anis Chaieb told Assabah.
This was the first time Tunisia’s salafist jihadist groups officially declared their allegiance to al-Qaeda. And the terror group’s call to arms could not have come at a more critical juncture for the still-fragile state.
This is an extraordinarily sloppily reported and misleading article that shouldn’t be taken at face value, although there is a relevant data point beneath the sensationalized presentation. The first, and most obvious, error is that Mohamed Anis Chaieb simply cannot be regarded as “the movement’s leader” in any way, shape, or form. The biggest salafi jihadist organization in Tunisia is Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia (AST), and Abu Iyad al-Tunisi is widely recognized as AST’s emir. Chaieb is an obscure enough figure that most analysts who follow Tunisia and the Maghreb closely have probably never heard of him. He is, in fact, affiliated with AST, as we will detail below. But it is not clear that the statement he made can be construed as speaking for AST as a whole.
Read the full article here:
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Central African Republic Rebels Move Into Capital

map by Evan Centanni (
Central African Republic rebels pushed into the capital of Bangui on Saturday, ignoring a call by the country's prime minister for talks to avoid a bloodbath.

The Reuters news agency quoted a rebel spokesman, Nelson Ndjadder, as saying his fighters shot down a government military helicopter and were headed for the presidential palace.

Earlier Saturday, a government spokesperson said Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye was asking members of the Seleka rebel alliance to get in touch with the national unity government to find a peaceful solution.

Seleka rebels say the only thing they wish to negotiate, however, is President Francois Bozize's departure.

Seleka political spokesman Eric Massi said Bozize must leave the C.A.R to bring peace.

On Friday, witnesses in the capital city said the streets were empty as people rushed home or tried to flee the city as the rebels approached. Schools and banks closed early following reports of the advance.
President of the Central African Republic Francois Bozizespeaks to the media at the presidential palace in Bangui, Central African Republic, January 2013.

Seleka began its offensive in December, seizing about one third of the country. The rebels later reached a peace deal with the government in regionally-mediated talks, but have accused Bozize of breaking the agreement.

Bozize has led the C.A.R. since taking power in a 2003 coup. The president was said to be in South Africa on Friday. A local journalist told VOA that Bozize's prime minister has sought refuge with the peacekeepers near the Bangui airport.

The C.A.R. has a history of coups and unrest since winning independence from France in 1960. 
from VOA News
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Suspected Islamists kill 25 in northeast Nigeria

(Reuters) - Suspected Islamist gunmen have launched a series of gun and bomb attacks in a remote town along Nigeria's border with Cameroon, killing at least 25 people, police said on Saturday.

The gunmen carried out four simultaneous assaults on Ganye in Adamawa state on Friday, opening fire on a bar, a bank, a prisoner warder and separately attacking a prison, Mohammed Ibrahim, police spokesman for the western Adamawa state said.

"Twenty five people were killed in total in four different simultaneous attacks by gunmen in Ganye," Ibrahim said.

Members of insurgent group Boko Haram were the prime suspects, he said. Violence by Islamist insurgents in northern Nigeria is on the rise again after a brief lull.

Three bombs exploded in the north's main city of Kano on Saturday, Kano state police spokesman Magaji Majiya said by telephone.

One of the bombings was a suicide attack, but did not claim any lives apart from those of the bombers. However, a remote control bomb targeting a joint military and police checkpoint wounded several police, he said.

A separate gun attack in the city's Dakata area killed one person on Saturday, he said.

Majiya said four people had been arrested in connection with the attacks.


Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram, factional offshoots of it and related criminal gangs have overtaken militancy in the oil-producing south-eastern Niger Delta region as the main threat to the stability of Africa's top energy producer.

On Monday, a bomb blast targeting a bus park in an area of Kano mostly inhabited by southern Christians killed at least 25 people and wounded 65.

Boko Haram, which wants an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria, has killed many hundreds in gun and bomb attacks since it intensified its insurgency two years ago, including 186 people in a strike on Kano in January 2012, its worst single attack.

Its fighters operate across northern Nigeria and in neighbouring states Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

On Monday, an audio tape emerged of a man saying he was the father of a family of seven French tourists kidnapped by Boko Haram militants. He read out a threat by them to increase kidnappings and suicide bombings in Cameroon, if authorities there detained more of the group's followers.

The French family was kidnapped from north Cameroon last month but is believed to be being held in Nigeria.

Increased kidnappings of Westerners has raised alarm that Nigerian Islamists - under the influence of other groups in the region like al Qaeda's north African wing - are turning their sights towards Western targets.

KADUNA/KANO, Nigeria | Sat Mar 23, 2013 6:02pm GMT
(Reporting by Isaac Abrak and Chukwuemeka Madu; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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4 children perish in Kandahar blast

KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): Four children were killed and two others wounded by a bomb they were playing with in the Mianishin district of southern Kandahar province on Saturday, officials said.

The roadside bomb exploded in the Zunto area, where the children found it, the governor’s spokesman, Ahmad Javed Faisal, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

He accused the militants of planting the bomb, saying that the children mistook it for a toy. The victims came from the same family, he added. The wounded were evacuated to hospital.

Having lost their face-to-face combat ability with security personnel, the fighters had resorted to planting roadside bombs in a desperate bid to make their presence felt, said the district chief, Rozi Khan.

from Pajhwok
By Bashir Ahmad Naadem Mar 23, 2013 - 19:59

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France Confirms Death of al-Qaida Commander Abou Zeid

This image released on December 25, 2012 by Sahara Media, shows one of the leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abdelhamid Abou Zeid in an undisclosed place.
France says it can confirm with certainty that Abdelhamid Abou Zeid, a top commander in al-Qaida's North African branch, was killed in Mali last month.

The office of French President Francois Hollande issued a statement Saturday confirming Abou Zeid's death in an offensive by French troops in northern Mali's Adrar des Ifoghas mountains.

French officials reported weeks ago that Abou Zeid was "probably" dead but were waiting for DNA tests to verify.

Earlier this month, the nation of Chad had said its troops in northern Mali had killed Abou Zeid, a leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb linked to the kidnapping and killing of at least two Westerners.

France began its campaign in Mali on January 11, as al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants who controlled the north began moving toward the capital, Bamako. President Hollande has said France plans to begin pulling its troops out of northern Mali in April.

Analysts warn a French withdrawal could leave northern Mali vulnerable to a renewed militant takeover. The Malian army was unable to fight the militants on its own, and a multi-nation African force being assembled needs more training and equipment to protect Malian towns.

from VOA News
March 23, 2013

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In Several Joint Clearance Operations, 46 Armed Taliban Killed (Mar.23.2013.)

Publish Date: Mar 23, 2013
In Several Joint Clearance Operations, 46 Armed Taliban Killed

In past 24 hours, Afghan National Police conducted several joint clearance operations with the cooperation of Afghan National Army, NDS and Coalition Forces to clean some of the areas from terrorists and enemies of peace and stability of Afghanistan.

The operations were conducted in Kunduz, Badakhshan, Kandahar, Zabul, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Khost and Paktiya provinces, as a result 46 armed Taliban were killed, one wounded and 26 other armed Taliban were arrested by Afghan National Security Forces.
Also, during these operations, Afghan National Police discovered and confiscated some amount of light and heavy round ammunitions and IEDs.

During the same 24 hour period, Afghan National Police discovered and defused 10 anti-vehicle mines placed by enemies of Afghanistan for destructive activities in Helmand, Nimroz and Baghlan provinces.

Counter Crimes:
The 101 Kabul Zone National Police detained three suspects accused of theft in the Chahar Asiab and 5th Districts of Kabul-City.
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