Terror Attack Plunges Nigeria Into Chaos

From Deutsche Welle:
Terror struck the Nigerian capital Abuja on Monday (14.04.201) when more than 70 people were killed and more than 120 were injured in an attack on a bus station packed with morning commuters.

No one has claimed responsibility so far. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, however, accused the Islamist group Boko Haram, which has been carrying out attacks in the northeast of the country since 2009, of being behind the bloodshed.

"The issue of Boko Haram is a quite an ugly history," Jonathan said while visiting the site a few hours after the bomb blast. "But we will get over it. The issue of Boko Haram is temporary."

Others might dispute that. The devastating attack on the bus station on the outskirts of the capital Abuja shows that Nigeria is apparently powerless in the face of the growing violence. This year alone, attacks by Boko Haram have claimed more than 1,500 lives.

Yahaya Shinku, a security expert and former major in the Nigerian Army told DW that "the pattern of attacks has changed."

He was referring to an increase in the frequency of the attacks and Boko Haram's willingness to strike at targets outside its strongholds in the northeast of Nigeria.

The most dramatic change, according to observers, is that violence has now become completely random.

"There is no more recognizable ideological line in the selection of terrorist targets," said Hildegard Berendt-Kigozi, country coordinator of the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) in Abuja.

For a long time, Boko Haram mainly attacked Nigerian state institutions such as the military, the police or schools. The goal of the group was to turn northern Nigerian into an Islamic state.

But over the last few months Boko Haram members have been indiscriminately attacking northern Nigerian villages. Muslims have been among their victims....

Afghanistan: Taliban Leaders Who Had Threatened To Cut Voters Fingers Killed In Kunduz

From Khaama Press:
At least six Taliban militants including their commanders were killed during clashes with the Afghan police forces in northern Kunduz province.

Local officials in Kunduz said the Taliban commanders who were killed during clashes, had earlier threatened Kunduz residents to cut their fingers if they participated in the elections.

Provincial police chief, Gen. Ghulam Mustafa Mohsini said the two Taliban commanders – Mullah Islamuddin and Mullah Khedir were killed along with their fighters after they attacked a police check post on Monday morning.

Gen. Mohsini further added that four militants were also killed and two others were injured during the clashes which lasted almost three hours.

He said the weapons and ammunition of the militants were also confiscated by police forces.

According to Gen. Mohsini, the two Taliban leaders had earlier warned Kunduz residents not to participate in elections and threatened to cut their fingers if they did so.

Militants Threaten Residents To Vacate Peshawar Neighbourhood

From Dawn:
A pamphlet, attributed to the banned Lashkar-i-Islam (LI), was distributed in a neighbourhood of the Khyber Pakhtunhwa capital threatening residents, mostly Shia Muslims, to vacate the area in the next ten days, police said on Tuesday.

Residents of Pahari Pura’s Manzoor Colony were warned of serious consequences failing to follow the militants warning.

The threatening pamphlet, with letter head of LI chief Lutfullah, said that the militant outfit’s shura (council) has decided to act against the colony, without elaborating what caused to offend it.

Lashkar-i-Islam – a Bara-based militant organisation in Khyber tribal region led by Mangal Bagh – was banned in 2008.

Police said they have launched an investigation to ascertain the pamphlet’s authenticity. They said police contingent has been increased with more patrolling in the area.

A local cleric in Bara, Mufti Munir Shakir formed the Lashkar-i-Islam in December 2004 after Sipah and Malikdinkhel tribesmen announced their full allegiance to him. However, the cleric was expelled from Bar Qambarkhel area after only six months owing to his extremist views and differences with Haji Namdar, another militant commander of the area.

Both Mufti Munir Shakir and Pir Saifur Rehman were forced to leave Bara after a jirga of local elders gave a consensus verdict following bloody clashes between the supporters of the two in early 2005. Mangal Bagh, a bus driver-turned-militant was elevated to the position of amir (chief) of Lashkar-i-Islam in May 2005.

Pakistani security forces demolished the house of Haji Rabat and destroyed the FM radio station set up in a mosque after they started the first military operation against Lashkar-i-Islam in mid-2005.

On Anniversary Of Boston Jihad Bombing, NYPD Stands Down

From Jihad Watch:
What better day to announce such news than the first anniversary of what New York officials evidently think is the last Islamic jihad attack ever on American soil? De Blasio says: “This reform is a critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys.”

Who the “real bad guys” were, de Blasio did not explain; however, as I show in Arab Winter Comes to America, in Obama’s military there have been several presentations depicting evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics as terror threats, so they may have been the groups de Blasio had in mind.

De Blasio also did not explain why counter-terror efforts would create “tension” in Muslim communities full of loyal American Muslims who reject and abhor jihad terrorism as a twisting and hijacking of their peaceful religion.

One thing is certain, however: with a chill on surveillance of Muslim communities as part of counter-terror efforts, Islamic jihadists have been handed a weakness that they are all too willing to exploit.

“NYPD disbanding Muslim spying unit,” by Jamie Schram and Daniel Prendergast for the New York Post, April 15 (thanks to all who sent this in):
The NYPD has abandoned its controversial and secretive surveillance program that sent plainclothes police officers into Muslim neighborhoods for the purposes of gathering information on possible terrorist plots, officials said.

Marking a dramatic change of course for the department, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton agreed to disband the largely inactive Demographics Unit, which was started in 2003 in response to the 9/11 terror attacks.

The unit was intended to root out threats by identifying pockets of Islamic radicalization and locations where potential terrorists might gather.

The covert program sent plainclothes officers into restaurants, mosques and just about anywhere else Muslims gathered, to eavesdrop on people’s conversations and gauge people’s feeling toward the United States.

The unit worked in secret until 2011, when the Associated Press published an expose chronicling the NYPD’s exploits in Muslim neighborhoods, causing a rift between the department and minority communities.

“Our administration has promised the people of New York a police force that keeps our city safe, but that is also respectful and fair,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement.

“This reform is a critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys.”

More Boston Bomber Types Lurk, Officials Warn

From the Washington Times:
The Boston Marathon bombings last year put a new face on terrorism: that of young, U.S.-raised misfits in search of a cause for which they can kill and die thousands of miles away from hotbeds of Islamic radicalism.

Feeling disenfranchised and alone, these youths often seek community online, placing themselves into a guerrilla’s mindset by consuming information on specific movements and gradually becoming self-radicalized, counterterrorism researchers say. Al Qaeda, becoming increasingly diffuse and decentralized, tries to help these individuals in their process through online magazines such as Inspire and jihadist postings on YouTube.

“Al Qaeda still exists, but its ability to reach into the U.S. is very limited — mainly because of the job law enforcement has done,” said Christopher Swift, an adjunct professor of national security studies at Georgetown University. “On the Internet, [al Qaeda‘s] looking for someone who is isolated, atomized — that they can indoctrinate but don’t have to take responsibility for — someone [to] whom they can push out the ideological source code and have act in their name. We’re going to see this ‘lone wolf’ model proliferate.”

Law enforcement officers have taken note.

“We have to have a recognition — and we do — that terrorists are more agile, they’re not restricted by nation-states and borders, they can flow information in and out of different areas of the world at will,” said Michael Steinbach, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division. “No longer does somebody in country X need to travel to a terrorist hotbed to get trained and get their orders. You can really do everything that needs to be done without leaving your home, let alone the United States.”

Domestic self-radicalization has increased with violence in the Muslim world, especially in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, said Bill Braniff, who is conducting a study on the issue for the National Institute of Justice.

His group found in a study that last year was the most violent period of global terrorism since 1970, with attacks more lethal than ever before in modern history and concentrated in a handful of locations.

“All of these conflicts provide an opportunity for individuals to become intellectually or emotionally invested in a caucus or region. There’s all these different passageways for them to go, to help them identify with the culture or ideal they believe in,” said Mr. Braniff, executive director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland. “If these conflicts weren’t going on, [the idea of self-motivated jihad] is more abstract.”

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombings, seemed to have become radicalized in 2011 while he was living in a suburb of the city, according to a congressional report released in March.

By all accounts, Tsarnaev was a volatile young man, accused of domestic violence against a girlfriend, and was thrown out of his local mosque several times for getting into shouting matches with preachers because they encouraged worshippers to celebrate American holidays, according to the report.

When law enforcement personnel searched Tsarnaev’s computer, they found a YouTube account with various Russian-language videos on Islam and playlists of jihadist instructions. One 13-minute video, titled “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags of Khorasan,” detailed a jihadist prophecy that at the end of the world a holy army would rise out of the region historically associated with Afghanistan and sweep across the Middle East to Jerusalem, according to the congressional report.

Tsarnaev was killed in a shootout with police in a Boston suburb days after the bombings.

Briefly raised in the Russian republic of Dagestan, an epicenter of Islamic insurgency, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, seemingly had no specific investment in their former homeland’s battles, Mr. Swift said, but they were inspired and ideologically driven by al Qaeda’s call for global jihad via the Internet.

“If you look at the Tsarnaev brothers, they hadn’t been to Chechnya since they were kids — this wasn’t about what Russia’s done to Chechnya and the suffering of the Chechnyan people,” said Mr. Swift. “These individuals already had some other issue, and then went online and glommed onto this understanding of the world. The Internet gives people who are already vulnerable [to jihad] a pathway and a recipe to follow.”

Not all background information has been released on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as he awaits trial on multiple federal charges, including the denotation of two improvised explosive devices — built with pressure cookers and packed with shrapnel — that exploded near the end of the finish line of the Boston Marathon last year.

Islamist Front Group CAIR Is Against "Honor Diaries" Film

From the New American:
The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) exhibited its considerable and growing clout by forcing the cancellation of at least two showings of the film Honor Diaries, one scheduled for last week at the University of Michigan, the other at the University of Illinois.

The film, a 2013 documentary that explores violence against women in “honor-based” societies (read: Muslim countries) through the eyes of nine women with personal experience with that violence, premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival in October 2013. One month later it won the Interfaith Award for Best Documentary at the St. Louis International Film Festival. In December it was featured on DirecTV’s Something to Talk About film series on its Audience channel.

The film focuses on three major crimes of violence committed by those societies: forced marriage, honor killings, and female genital mutilation.

It received a favorable review from the Los Angeles Times:
Make no mistake. The work of the nine activists featured in [the film] is extremely important as they fight for women’s rights.
Robin Shepherd, writing at his liberal Commentator website, said:
[Honor Diaries] consists of a roundtable discussion by nine courageous and highly articulate women of different ages, all from Muslim majority countries….
They speak eloquently, with reasoned passion, about their personal experiences and of threats against them, and talk of their efforts to change the situation of women in their country of origin and in the wider world.

CAIR doesn’t see the film that way. In fact, there appears to be little evidence that anyone from CAIR even saw the movie before moving against it. Of CAIR’s success in forcing the schools to cancel previously scheduled showings of the film, one of the film’s producers, Heidi Basch-Harod, said:
I am disappointed because what I can see by the reactions is that the people who are condemning the film have not seen it.
They are self-censoring, even. They aren’t giving themselves or others the chance to engage in dialogue and meaningful conversations about issues that are important.

One of the nine interviewed at length in the film, clinical therapist Zainab Khan, complained:
They [CAIR] utilized tactics of censorship. It’s … dangerous and shows their mode of operation: bullying, scapegoating, censoring [and] avoiding [the] issues....
Read it all here.

Saudi Arabia Orders 'Anti-Islamic' Website Closed

From Arutz 7:
A Saudi court in Jeddah has ordered the permanent closure of a liberal website for publishing what was perceived as “anti-Islamic content”, Al Arabiya reported on Sunday, citing the Saudi news website Sabq.

According to Sabq, a number of Saudis had demanded the closure of the Saudi Liberal Network for posting stories and comments that are considered against religion and morality.

The website said the court’s decision “prompted good reactions by many of those who had called for such an action and had filed lawsuits against the network and its members,” according to Al Arabiya.

In August last year, a court sentenced the founder of the website Zaef Badawi to seven years and three months in jail in addition to 600 flogs “for establishing a liberal website and adopting the liberal thinking and insulting Islam,” Sabq reported.

A higher court later overturned that decision and ordered a retrial by a different court.

Saudi Arabia, which is notorious for its violations of human rights, recently introduced a series of new laws which define atheists as terrorists.

Lashes are a common punishment in the kingdom for offenses such as insulting the King, blasphemy, or even insulting members of one’s own tribe.

Despite its less than stellar human rights record, the kingdom recently won a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, being one of several countries with questionable human rights records to win seats in this body.

Religious Leader: Allah’s Bangladesh Not For Non-Believers

From Dhaka Tribune:
Shah Ahmed Shafi, the chief of radical Islamist platform Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, yesterday said the persons who do not believe in Almighty Allah would not be allowed to live in Bangladesh.

“We are Muslims. We have no conflict with anybody. But the persons, who are living in the country of Allah, and taking different facilities from Him, cannot live in His country,” Shafi said at a two-day Islamic Conference at Laldighi ground in the port city.

“We have no conflict with [Prime Minister] Sheikh Hasina, Awami League, Bangladesh Chhatra League and others. They are our friends. If we become good human beings then the country will become Sonar Bangla. We have to become good people to live in the country peacefully,” he added.

Some 12 of the platform’s central leaders out of 24 who are accused in 42 cases filed with different police stations of Dhaka and Chittagong also attended the programme, organised by Hefazat. The leaders include Secretary General Junaid Babunagari and Organising Secretary Azizul Haq Islamabadi.

Police, however, did not arrest them since they were on bail, Inspector (investigation) Nezam Uddin of Kotwali police station told the Dhaka Tribune.

Some 200 police personnel were deployed at Laldighi which is located near the CMP headquarters, Chittagong Court Building and deputy commissioner’s office.

Earlier, the Chittagong Metropolitan Police allowed the Qawmi madrasa-based platform to hold the programme on 12 separate conditions. The police had asked the Hefazat leadership not to invite the accused, who are not on bail, on the stage to address the event, and not to give provocative speeches.

However, Babunagari reiterated the demand for formulating a law (anti-blasphemy law) keeping the provision of death penalty against those who demean Prophet Mohammad (SM).

“We will resist them who make derogatory remarks about our prophet,” he said adding that no “atheist” could live in the country.

He also said people from other religion had the right to live in the country “as it is a democratic country.”

Other leaders of the platform threatened that the government would be destroyed if it had revised the Qawmi madrasa education system.

Picture of the Week: Censoring Real Feminists

From The Religion Of Peace:
The men at CAIR are celebrating two unlikely victories over battered women this past week. First, they stopped two universities from showing a film about honor violence. Then, they actually pressured Brandeis University into cancelling an invitation to a women's rights advocate who is, herself, a victim of female genital mutilation.

Syria Is Now The Biggest Threat To Britain's Security

From The Telegraph:
Vehicles burning in al-Khudary Street in the Karm al-Loz neighbourhood of the central Syrian city of Homs following a car bomb explosion Photo: AFP/Getty Images

The crisis in Syria has emerged as the biggest threat to Britain’s security, The Telegraph can disclose.

The threat to the UK from returning fighters from the Syrian civil war is now the same as that from al-Qaeda terrorists in the borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The increased risk will refocus attention on the decision by David Cameron - backed by MPs in the House of Commons - not to intervene as the Syrian conflict worsened last August.

For the past two years, British jihadists have been able to gain access bomb and weapons training as well as further radicalisation.

There are fears that British men who have been radicalised there are also being encouraged to return to the UK to carry out attacks here rather than staying to fight.

As many as 500 Britons have headed to Syria to fight in the past three years – far higher than the numbers who travelled to Iraq.

The police and security services are understood to be monitoring around half of that number who have returned. Some arrests have been made.

A senior Whitehall source told The Telegraph: “We are seeing a growing threat to the UK from terrorist groups in Syria.

“The threat to the UK comes from a range of countries and groups but Syria is perhaps the biggest challenge right now.”

Confirmation of the escalating concern was made by an additional paragraph to the Government’s assessment on the threat from foreign fighters published on the Security Service’s website.

It says: “Over the last two years, we have seen Syria become an attractive destination for UK extremists wishing to engage in violent jihad.

“The nature of the conflict in Syria and the emergence of the Al Nusrah Front, which has declared its allegiance to Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, is leading to the country becoming an increasingly significant potential source of future threats to the UK and UK interests overseas.”

Syria is seen as a major threat because of the culmination of a number of aspects that the UK has not faced from one single place before.

Its proximity to Europe makes it easier and cheaper for would-be Jihadists to head there and does not appear as “foreign” as the once-Al-Qaeda strongholds of Afghanistan/northern Pakistan and Somalia or Yemen

Monitoring of terrorists in Syria by British intelligence agencies is made more difficult because of the ease with which they are able to move around the country.

Syria was identified as the “most significant development in global terrorism” in the Home Office annual review of its counter-terrorism strategy Contest this week.

In the foreword to the review, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said: “We witnessed an unprecedented concentration of the terrorist threat in and from Syria, even as we confronted threats emanating from other countries where it is equally difficult for our nationals security agencies and departments to operate.”

The review went on to warn: “Dealing with terrorism in Syria is a very significant challenge due to the numbers of people fighting with the many Syria based terrorist groups, their proximity to the UK, ease of travel across porous borders and the ready availability of weapons.

“We are concerned about the threat to the UK from Syria based groups and the threat from foreign fighters returning to this country.”

Syria takes up a large proportion of MI5’s international counter terrorism work. Last year Charles Farr, the Home Office's anti–terror chief, said Syria had become a “game changer”.

Last year the Prime Minister described some of the rebels against President Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria as “extremely dangerous terrorists”.

He said: “My concern is that the current trajectory in Syria is very, very damaging. “You have got a dictator who is brutalising his people, who's using chemical weapons against innocent people.

“You’ve got an opposition elements of which are extremely dangerous extremist terrorists.”