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Terrorism News

A collection of open-source terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Jun 12, 2017

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is on the brink of losing the two main centers of his 'caliphate' but even though he is on the run, it may take years to capture or kill him, officials and experts said.

Islamic State fighters are close to defeat in the twin capitals of the group's territory, Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, and officials say Baghdadi is steering clear of both, hiding in thousands of square miles of desert between the two.  Iraqi forces have retaken much of Mosul, the northern Iraqi city the hardline group seized in June 2014 and from which Baghdadi declared himself "caliph" or leader of all Muslims shortly afterwards.  Raqqa, his capital in Syria, is nearly surrounded by a coalition of Syrian Kurdish and Arab groups.

At the height of its power two years ago, Islamic State ruled over millions of people in territory running from northern Syria through towns and villages along the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys to the outskirts of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

It persecuted non-Sunnis and even Sunnis who did not agree with its extreme version of Islamic law, with public executions and whippings for violating strict controls on appearance, behavior and movement.  But the group has been retreating since in the face of a multitude of local, regional and international forces, driven into action by the scores of deadly attacks around the world that it has claimed or inspired.

Read more: Reuters

Seven men are now in custody in connection with the London Bridge attack as police officers prepare for the opening of inquests into the deaths of the victims.  A 19-year-old man is being held on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts following a raid at an address in Barking, east London, at 9.50pm on Sunday, Scotland Yard said, bringing total arrests in the investigation to 21.

Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba killed eight people and injured dozens of others when they knocked down pedestrians on London Bridge and launched a stabbing frenzy in the bustling Borough Market on 3 June.
 
Inquests into the eight deaths are to open at Southwark coroner’s court on Tuesday. They were: Christine Archibald, 30, a Canadian national; Kirsty Boden; 28, an Australian national; Sara Zelenak, 21, an Australian national; Sebastien Belanger, 36, a French national; Alexandre Pigeard, 26, a French national; James McMullan, 32, a British national; Ignacio Echeverría Miralles de Imperial, 39, a Spanish national and Xavier Thomas, 45, a French national.

The investigation has revealed that the three killers behind the attack tried to hire a 7.5-tonne lorry on the morning of the atrocity and officers believe they have identified a flat above a Paddy Power in Barking Road, rented since April by Redouane, that was used as a safe house where they prepared their attack.

On Sunday police released images of the terrorists’ blood-spattered fake suicide belts.  The phoney bombs were simply disposable water bottles wrapped in silver and black tape and attached to leather belts, although they were designed to create “maximum fear”, police said.

Read more: The Guardian

All the suspects arrested over last month's Manchester concert bombing have been released without charge, British police said Sunday, acknowledging that detectives were still not sure whether the attacker had accomplices.

Salman Abedi, a Briton of Libyan heritage, detonated a backpack bomb as crowds were leaving an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, killing 22 people and himself.

Shortly after the attack, police said they had rounded up members of Abedi's network. But Greater Manchester Police said Sunday that all 22 people arrested on suspicion of terrorism offenses had been released without charge.

Read more: CBS News

In ancient capitals and bustling provincial cities across Europe, whenever the first sketchy reports begin surfacing of a terror attack — a truck strike, a stabbing rampage, a bombing — the investigators who spend their days and nights sifting through tens of thousands of potential security threats feel a sense of dread beyond their horror over the immediate event.

Will a perpetrator turn out to be someone well known to them? Someone whose extremist views or suspicious travels or damning personal associations had been documented but fell short of grounds for arrest or other restrictions?

Could the latest atrocity, they ask themselves, have been averted?

That agonizing question is being asked in London, where a vehicle-and-knife attack June 3 in the heart of the capital killed eight people and cast a shadow on a consequential British election.

Read more: Los Angeles Times

Its strongholds in Iraq and Syria slipping from its grasp, the Islamic State group threatened to make this year's Ramadan a bloody one at home and abroad.  With attacks in Egypt, Britain and Iran among others and a land-grab in the Philippines, the group is trying to divert attention from its losses and win over supporters around the world in the twisted competition for jihadi recruits during the Muslim holy month.

The militants insisted in their English language magazine this week that losing territory has only made it work that much harder to kill.  The attacks since Ramadan's beginning on May 26 show the sweep of the group's ambition - from attacking the West, to expanding in the Philippines, to targeting Shiite powerhouse Iran - something al-Qaida itself never risked.

The attack on Iran marked a new stage for the Islamic State group, which had threatened the Shiite-majority state repeatedly without actually striking it.  IS and al-Qaida, both radical Sunni groups, are competing for recruits in the global jihadi movement.  Al-Qaida, however, has never attacked Iran.  Founder Osama bin Laden had put the Persian state off-limits, citing and the country's role as a conduit for arms and money.

But a powerful counter-message is emerging in recent days.  With the month of fasting also a time of high television ratings in the Arab world, the telecommunications company Zain has launched a commercial that begins with footage of a man fabricating a suicide bomb.   By the end, faced with bloodied victims and survivors of extremist attacks, the man stumbles and fails in his mission.  "Let's bomb delusion with the truth," a man sings.  The ad has been viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube.  "We will counter their attacks of hatred with songs of love," it ends.

Read More: AP