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Anti-terror measures keep Swiss police busy

Posted by on in Terrorism
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SWI swissinfo.ch Efforts to thwart jihadists, money launderers and cyber criminals topped the to-do list of Switzerland’s federal police last year.  The Federal Office of Police blocked 39 jihadists from entering Switzerland in 2016 – far more than the 17 denied entry the previous year. The office carried out criminal proceedings in 60 of the 70 jihadism cases that it investigated. In its annual report published on Tuesdayexternal link, the office noted that counter-terrorism had been a strong focus in 2016.  “Without the constant exchange of information, we would be powerless against this ongoing threat,” noted director Nicoletta della Valle in the report, pointing out that the cooperation with Switzerland’s cantonal police as well as police abroad was indispensable. For example, an attaché has been stationed in Turkey since October, and another is headed for Tunisia this month.  The authorities say they also want to continue to combat terror financing...
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By Michael Edison Hayden Egypt is declaring a state of emergency following twin bomb blasts in churches that were packed for Palm Sunday services. The state of emergency will last for three months, according to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The attacks, which were claimed by ISIS, follow warnings by the terrorist group that it would escalate attacks on Egypt's Christians, who the CIA estimates make up roughly 10 percent of the country's population. The two bombings Sunday killed at least 44 people and injured at least 126 others, according to Egyptian officials. The first exploded in a Coptic Christian church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, and the second several hours later at Saint Mark's Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt. ISIS claimed that the blasts were the work of suicide bombers who detonated explosive vests at the churches. President...
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International Business Times Shajul Islam from London was considered a 'committed jihadist' by MI6. By Tareq Haddad A British doctor who documented a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria was considered a "committed jihadist" by MI6 and was struck off the General Medical Council in 2016. Shajul Islam, 31, posted several videos on Twitter in the aftermath of the Tuesday's (4 April) attack where he appeared to be treating patients in Khan Sheikhoun. He appeared on several television networks such as NBC to discuss what he saw, but it has now emerged Islam was previously charged on terror offences in the UK. Islam, from Stratford in east London, first travelled to Syria in 2012 and worked in opposition-held areas of the country such as Al Bab, close to the Turkish border. But shortly after arriving, he was wanted by MI6 – Britain's foreign intelligence agency – for his alleged role...
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Express TWO French teenagers aged 15 and 17 were formally charged with links to a terrorist organisation and placed under judicial supervision on Monday, French counter-terrorism officials said. By Romina McGuinness The unnamed girls, who were both arrested over the weekend following anti-terror raids in the southern French city of Nice, were on the radar of police and intelligence services since being reported for radicalisation.  Anti-terror officials confirmed after extracting and analysing the girls’ mobile phone data that the two had been planning a “violent attack” on French soil and had been using the secure messaging app Telegram – Islamic State’s (ISIS) favourite texting app – to “discuss” their plans.  Officials added that the two teens had also planned to flee to Iraq or Syria to join the ranks of ISIS. An investigation has since been launched to determine whether the two girls had been planning an imminent attack or...
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Evening Standard by Hatty Collier An 18-year-old man was arrested by counter-terrorism officers as he tried to board a train at St Pancras International station. The teenager was detained at around 2.30pm on Tuesday as he was trying to leave the UK, the Metropolitan Police said. He is being questioned on suspicion of preparation of acts of terrorism, dissemination of terrorist publications and inviting support for a proscribed organisation. Officers were searching an address in north London following his arrest. The man was detained under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE). The Met said the arrest does not relate to offences against the UK. Read more: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/man-arrested-by-counterterror-police-at-st-pancras-station-a3507401.html...

Risk of homegrown Islamist extremism rising

Posted by on in Terrorism
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Fox News by Brooke Singma Cases of homegrown Islamist extremism in the United States continue to rise, according to the House Homeland Security’s latest Terror Threat Snapshot. The committee, led by Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, released its monthly report on Wednesday, which noted that of the 204 homegrown "jihadist cases" in the U.S. since 9/11, 36 occurred in the last 12 months. “We must remain clear-eyed about the threats we face,” McCaul said. The report cited charges against Said Azzam Mohamad Rahim, who was charged in March with making false statements regarding his support for ISIS and terrorist activities; and Elvis Redzepagic, a 26-year-old who was arrested for attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS, and allegedly, trying to enter Syria to join ISIS or the Nusra Front on two different occasions. The report also notes the ISIS attack on Brussels last year, and the attack on Westminster Bridge near...
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by The Sydney Morning Herald More than 50 Tomahawk missiles have been launched against Syria, in the first major US military action during the six-year-old war.  The launches follow a chemical attack in the war-torn country on Tuesday that killed and injured numerous civilians, including children. The missile launch was carried out on Thursday on the orders of US President Donald Trump.  The missiles, launched by two US Navy ships in the eastern Mediterranean, targeted an airfield near Homs, Syria. Only an hour before, Russia's deputy UN envoy, Vladimir Safronkov, warned of "negative consequences" if the United States carried out military strikes on Syria over the deadly toxic gas attack. Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/us-launches-missiles-on-syria-after-gas-attack-report-20170407-gvfrk3.html...

How serious is Pakistan about fighting terrorism?

Posted by on in Terrorism
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DW This week Conflict Zone meets Pakistan foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz. He says terrorist incidents have fallen, but with deadly attacks nearly every week, is the country really coming to grips with extremism? "The total number of incidents in the last two years are down by 70 percent. And if that is not good progress, I’d like to see any country which has achieved that much success in such a short time against terrorism," Sartaj Aziz told Conflict Zone. Aziz is a former director at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and foreign minister and now serves as an adviser on foreign affairs to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. He sat down with DW’s Tim Sebastian to discuss the volatile situation in his country. "We have suffered a lot because of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and then 9/11. So these are global faultlines that are trouble to us. But we have now managed...
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Chicago Sun-Times Associated Press ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — As the residents of Russia’s second-largest city try to regain their nerve in the wake of a fatal subway bombing, officials announced Wednesday that six people have been arrested on suspicion of recruiting others to commit extremist crimes. Wednesday’s statement from the Investigative Committee gave few details, but said those arrested came from Central Asian countries that once were part of the Soviet Union. Officials have said the suicide attacker behind Monday’s blast in St. Petersburg that killed 13 others was a native of the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan. The six detained were accused of recruiting “mostly immigrants from the republics of Central Asia to commit crimes of a terrorist nature and involvement in the activities of terrorist organizations banned in Russia,” including the so-called Islamic State, the statement said. There was no immediate information tying those arrested with the suspected...
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Newsweek by Jack Moore An Islamic State militant group (ISIS) cell, dressed in police uniforms, launched a coordinated suicide bomb and gun assault overnight on the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, killing at least 31 people. Ten or more ISIS fighters, commandeering a police vehicle, entered the city 109 miles north of Baghdad. Two were suicide bombers who detonated their devices, Iraqi police colonel Khalid Mahmoud told Reuters. The victims of the attack included 14 police officers, while security forces found civilians killed in their shops. At least 42 were wounded. Police killed three attackers in clashes. Five remain in hiding. Authorities in Tikrit declared a curfew Wednesday in a bid to lockdown the city and locate the remaining attackers. Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shiite paramilitary groups recaptured the city, which was the hometown of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, in March 2015. Dressing as opposing forces, or using another...

Russia plagued by Islamic terror attacks

Posted by on in Terrorism
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Fox News The apparent terror attack on a St. Petersburg subway train Monday morning may just be the latest in a string of deadly Islamist attacks inside Russia. Early estimates had at least 10 people dead and dozens of others wounded in the subway bombing, figures that may soon be added to the deadly tally run up by terrorists, who’ve infiltrated Russia largely from the Muslim-dominated Caucuses region north of Iran. AT LEAST 10 KILLED IN ST. PETERSBURG SUBWAY BLAST The most infamous terror episode is the Beslan school siege, which took place during three days in September 2004, ultimately resulting in the deaths of at least 330 people – including 186 children. During the assault, a Chechen-dominated Islamist outfit took more than 1,000 people hostage. Russian officials eventually ended the siege by storming the school. Authorities were criticized by some in the aftermath for being reckless and contributing to...
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International Business Times, UK Edition By Isabelle Gerretsen The suspect behind the bombing on the St Petersburg Metro has been identified as Akbarzhon Jalilov, a Krygyz-born man with Russian nationality. This is the latest example of extremism emerging from the the former Soviet state of Kyrgyzstan. Experts at the United States Institute of Peace have said that Kyrgyzstan's turbulent recent history has allowed extremist groups to infiltrate it and encourage its citizens to join militants fighting in Syria and Iraq. Questions now arise as to how the small, landlocked country could leave itself open to such radicalisation. Where is Kyrgyzstan? Officially known as the Kyrgyz Republic, Kyrgyzstan is a small country in central Asia surrounded by Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Six million people live in the country with the ethnic Kyrgyz making up the largest group, followed by significant minorities of Uzbeks and Russians. Non-denominational Muslims amount to 80% of...
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The month of April holds significance for numerous domestic extremist groups, presenting cause for concern to law enforcement and homeland security communities. Scheduled events and upcoming anniversaries throughout the month figure prominently within key extremist movements and may present threats to public safety. Some domestic extremist groups and their supporters may conduct themselves in various ways to include demonstrations, handing out flyers, vandalism, and/or violence. These may occur at schools or in acts against law enforcement officers.  *This information will is provided to draw attention to the reality that propaganda made available on extremist forums and Social Media Sites (SMS) are inspiring individuals to get involved in the online propagation of radical ideologies. This propaganda is also providing them with the instructional and/or motivational support that can assist them in becoming operational and carrying out an attack. Law enforcement and private sector security need to be prepared for potential threats...
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Evening Standard by Patrick Grafton-Green Counter-terrorism barriers have been installed at Windsor Castle to protect the Changing of the Guard following last week’s horrific terror attack in Westminster. Last Wednesday terrorist Khalid Masood killed three people and injured at least 50 others when he mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing police officer Keith Palmer in front of the Houses of Parliament. Thames Valley Police has now installed new concrete barriers to try to prevent a similar attack outside the Queen's Berkshire residence. Assistant Chief Constable Dave Hardcastle said the security upgrade was made even though there was nothing to indicate a specific threat at Windsor. ACC Hardcastle, Thames Valley's head of operations, said: “The force believes that it is proportionate and necessary to put in place extra security measures to further protect and support the public and the Guard Change. "This is consistent with security deployments in London. “Preventative measures such...
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TIME by Eric Rosand As President Trump enters the third month of his presidency, questions continue to swirl around what his strategy will be for defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). There is even less indication of how the President plans to deal with terrorism at home. So far, we have tweets but few answers. That said, domestically, we can anticipate the FBI receiving additional resources to go after suspected terrorists — adding to the more than 900 active investigations across all 50 states — and the Department of Justice (DOJ) aggressively prosecuting individuals under the broad “material support” to terrorism statute. Adding more convicted terrorists to the U.S. prison rolls will no doubt appeal to the President’s base. However, if past is prologue, most of those will not be high-profile inmates serving life sentences for plotting or carrying out attacks such as Zacarias Moussaoui (direct links...
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by ITV News A specialist team of counter-terrorism experts is being launched as the Government steps up efforts to tackle "poisonous" extremism in prisons. From Monday a new 100-strong task force will examine intelligence from around the country to assess the danger posed by radicalisation behind bars. The team will advise prisons in England and Wales on how to deal with specific threats and help train personnel on how to deter offenders from being lured into extremism. Experts will also advise on how to manage dangerous and high-profile extremist prisoners. Ministers announced plans to boost the response to radicalisation under sweeping prison reform measures unveiled in November. The introduction of the counter-terrorism unit comes after a Government-ordered review last year concluded that Islamist extremism is a growing problem within jails. The assessment found evidence of offenders advocating support for Islamic State and "charismatic" prisoners acting as "self-styled emirs" to radicalise...
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International Business Times By Josh Keefe Two Somali refugees and longtime residents of the U.S. were each sentenced to more than a decade in prison on Friday for providing funds to a Somali terror group affiliated with al-Qaeda. The two women, both suburban mothers, helped organize a ring of 15 people located around the world that sent funds to the al-Shabaab militant group, prosecutors said.  A federal judge sentenced Muna Osman Jama, 36, of Reston, Virginia, and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 46, of Kent, Washington, to 12 and 11 years, respectively, in federal prison on the charge of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The two women were found guilty of the charge by a federal judge in October after an investigation showed they were part of a group of 15 women located around the world who met in a chat room created by Jama to organize monthly payments to...

The myth of the ‘lone wolf’ terrorist

Posted by on in Terrorism
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In recent years, references to such attacks have become inescapable. But this lazy term obscures the real nature of the threat against us  by Jason Burke At around 8pm on Sunday 29 January, a young man walked into a mosque in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood of Quebec City and opened fire on worshippers with a 9mm handgun. The imam had just finished leading the congregation in prayer when the intruder started shooting at them. He killed six and injured 19 more. The dead included an IT specialist employed by the city council, a grocer, and a science professor. The suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old student, has been charged with six counts of murder, though not terrorism. Within hours of the attack, Ralph Goodale, the Canadian minister for public safety, described the killer as “a lone wolf”. His statement was rapidly picked up by the world’s media. Goodale’s statement came as no...
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Express OPINION by Ben Harris-Quinney A WEEK after depraved terrorist Khalid Masood went on a murderous rampage in Westminster, the Chairman of the right wing Bow Group asks what it will take for Britain to wise up and adequately defend itself against the growing threat of extremism. For the vast majority of people, terrorism is an abstract concept – something that happens to others. I am one of that majority.  I have written about terrorism, debated the issues around it, been to sites of terrorist attacks and met those directly affected, but I've never witnessed an act of terror first-hand. On Wednesday afternoon, I was supposed to be at a reception in the House of Lords but I decided not to go. I received sporadic messages from two o'clock onwards from friends and colleagues on the Parliamentary estate that they had heard gunshots before watching the confusion and tragedy slowly...

Terrorists use the Dark Web to hide

Posted by on in Terrorism
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USA TODAY by Elizabeth Weise SAN FRANCISCO —  Terrorists are increasingly using the hidden parts of the Internet to avoid surveillance, relying on the open web for recruiting but then moving to encryption and the Dark Web for more nefarious interactions, experts said in interviews Monday. This is one reason United Kingdom Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Sunday that government agencies need access to such encrypted services to protect the public, reigniting a more than 20-year debate over the competing needs of security and privacy. “We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp — and there are plenty of others like that — don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” she said on the BBC. London terror suspect Khalid Masood sent a WhatsApp message to an unknown person just before Sunday's attack that killed four people and injured dozens. The message’s contents — and its intended recipient — can't be...