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Terrorism News

A collection of open-source terrorism news from around the world.

Fighters from the Islamic State group ambushed an Iraqi army convoy on Friday with a bulldozer packed with explosives, killing the commander of the Iraqi 1st Division and three of his staff officers north of Fallujah, said military officials.  The suicide bomber attacked the convoy of Humvees and then militants opened fire, killing Brig. Gen. Hassan Abbas Toufan, a colonel and two lieutenant colonels in the Nadhem al-Taqseem region, said a member of the division and an intelligence officer. There was no initial count on the number of soldiers killed in the attack. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

The attack represents a setback for the Iraqi army which is embroiled in a fierce battle to reconquer western Anbar province, which has been under the control of the extremist Islamic State group for the past year. Fighting has been focused on the provincial capital of Ramadi, where the government had been making slow progress.

Earlier on Friday, the army had recaptured the important al-Houz bridge over the Euphrates in western Ramadi, which had served as a primary supply route for the militants, according to police Col. Mahdi Abbas.

Read more:  New York Times

Revelations of new high-level losses among Al Qaeda’s top leadership in Pakistan’s tribal belt have underscored how years of American drone strikes have diminished and dispersed the militant group’s upper ranks and forced them to cede prominence and influence to more aggressive offshoots in Yemen and Somalia.

While the C.I.A. drone strike that killed two Western hostages has led to intense criticism of the drone program and potentially a reassessment of it, the American successes over the years in targeting and killing senior Qaeda operatives in their home base has left the militant group’s leadership facing difficult choices, counterterrorism officials and analysts say.

That process of attrition has been accelerated by the emergence of the Islamic State, whose arresting brutality and superior propaganda have sucked up funding and recruits. In the tribal belt, a Pakistani military drive that started last summer has forced Qaeda commanders into ever more remote areas like the Shawal Valley, where two of them were killed alongside an American hostage, Warren Weinstein, and an Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto, on Jan. 15.

Read more: New York Times

With little support for Sikh militancy in India, Pakistan spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is using Sikh militants who are taking refuge in Pakistan to gather political support from their community in Canada with a view to reviving the Khalistan movement.  An intelligence report accessed by Mail Today on the activities of groups in Canada engaged in pro-Khalistani activities, says that the ISI is using Sikh extremists for anti-India activities.

“Inputs indicate that Pakistan’s ISI is using Sikh extremists based in Canada for pro-Khalistan and anti-India activities,” the report says.  Apart from ISI activities, “political lobbying” by Sikh groups is also a major concern for Indian intelligence agencies.  “The Sikhs have a strong influence on Canadian politics due to their large population,” the report said while adding that prominent Canadian leaders have been taking part in events organised by groups sympathising with the cause for the Khalistan movement.

The issue of Sikh extremism and activities of sympathisers in Canada was taken up at a recent meeting of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on terrorism between India and Pakistan held in Delhi on March 19, 2015.

Read more: The Daily Mail (UK)

French police said Friday they believed an Algerian jihadist who planned to attack churches in the Paris region was "remote-controlled" by commanders likely in Syria.  A police source told AFP that Sid Ahmed Ghlam, 24, had an unusual profile and appeared to be "remote-controlled from afar by one or more mysterious men" probably based in Syria who ordered him to target French churches.  Interrogated from his hospital bed, Ghlam was not being very talkative, said police sources, adding he seemed torn between "wanting to talk (but) as if moved by some force obliging him not to say anything".

"He appeared literally under the heel of" his commanders who told him where and how to get his hands on the Kalashnikov assault rifles, pistols and bulletproof vests found by police in his car and apartment, said the police source.  The Suspect shot himself in the leg

Ghlam was being questioned for a fifth day Friday after his custody was extended under special French anti-terror laws that allow police to interrogate a suspect for up to six days if there is a "risk of an imminent attack".  The Algerian electrical engineering student was detained on Sunday when police made the fluke discovery of his plans to attack one or two churches in the town of Villejuif, just south of Paris.

Read more: France 24

The Lebanese army said on Thursday that it had arrested eight militants, including a military deserter who joined the Islamic State group and four Syrians. The army said in a statement, announcing the arrest, that the men were taken into custody during a raid in the northern town of Akkar, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
 
The eight men had allegedly committed terror attacks and fought with military forces in Lebanon.  At least four Lebanese soldiers are believed to have deserted and joined militant groups. Of these, Abdul-Rahman Khaled, who was arrested in the latest raid, had declared his allegiance to ISIS last year, according to the AP.
 
In recent years, the war in Syria has spilled over the border into neighboring Lebanon, where foreign militants have carried out border attacks, abductions and killings. Some of the Sunni rebels in the area support the militant group, which announced plans to declare an Islamic emirate in Lebanon in February. Others from Lebanon’s Christian and Shia communities support the Syrian regime led by President Bashar Assad.
 
The growing need for self-defense has led to an alliance between Christian militias and the Iran-allied Shiite Hezbollah. Lebanon is one of the main sources of Shia fighters in Syria, who are believed to number up to 10,000 and are generally loyal to Assad. Their numbers have bolstered the beleaguered president’s position after mass defections from the Syrian army.