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Terrorism News

A collection of open-source terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Nov 12, 2018

Following a series of macabre murders of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s political opponents abroad in the 1980s and 1990s, observers have long believed that the country abandoned its practice of extraterritorial assassination of Iranian citizens. But incidents in three different European countries, which European officials have been increasingly public in discussing in recent days, suggest a possible reversion on Tehran’s part.

Is the Iranian regime trying to turn the clock back to the bad old days of the 1980s and early 1990s? Assassinations and orchestrated terrorist plots in Denmark, France, and the Netherlands underscore this concern.

In recent days, the incident in Denmark, which drew comparatively little attention at the time, has been publicly discussed by that country’s top officials. Last week, Denmark’s foreign minister even posted a tweet describing it as “totally unacceptable” that Iran had planned an attack there.

The incident occurred in late September, when the Danish Security and Intelligence Service undertook a manhunt that cut off the eastern island of Zealand and the capital Copenhagen from the rest of the country. Danish police said they were looking for a black Swedish-registered car in connection with “serious criminality.” A few days later, it became clear that Danish police expected Iranian agents to imminently assassinate or kidnap an individual known by the pseudonym Yaqoub al-Tostari. Tostari is a spokesman for the separatist Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz (ASMLA), and he had publicly defended a September 22 terrorist attack against an Iranian military parade in Ahvaz.

A more publicly prominent incident occurred in France, centering on the June 30, 2018 gathering in Paris of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a political front of the resistance Mojahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO). The French government has accused Iranian intelligence of plotting to bomb NCRI’s Paris gathering, and a long Wall Street Journal report published on Oct. 31 extensively details European intelligence assessments of this plot.

Authorities arrested the alleged plotters in several European countries. Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat based in Austria, was arrested in Germany on charges of providing a bomb to two Belgian nationals of Iranian origin. 

In the coming months, the legal proceedings against the individuals arrested for their role in these plots will likely provide more detailed information. But we can already see a set of disturbing developments suggesting that the Islamic Republic may be turning the clock back to the bad old days of assassinating its political opponents in Europe. If so, Western law enforcement and intelligence services should brace for more.

Read more: Long War Journal

One pickup truck after another arrived at the government compound in a district capital in Afghanistan on Sunday, pulling around to the back of the governor’s office to unload the dead, out of sight of panicked residents.

Soldiers and police officers, many in tears, heaved bodies of their comrades from the trucks and laid them on sheets on the ground, side by side on their backs, until there were 20 of them. The dead all wore the desert-brown boots of Afghanistan’s finest troops, the Special Forces commandos trained by the United States. Four days earlier, the soldiers had been airlifted in to rescue what is widely considered Afghanistan’s safest rural district, Jaghori, from a determined assault by Taliban insurgents.

Early on Sunday, their company of 50 soldiers was almost entirely destroyed on the front line. And suddenly, Jaghori — a haven for an ethnic Hazara Shiite minority that has been persecuted by extremists — appeared at risk of being completely overrun by the Taliban.

A small team of journalists from The New York Times went into Jaghori’s capital, Sang-e-Masha, on Sunday morning to report on the symbolic importance of what everyone expected to be a fierce stand against the insurgents. Instead, we found bandaged commandos wandering the streets in apparent despair, and officials discussing how they could flee an area almost entirely surrounded by the Taliban. By the end of the day, we were on the run, too.

Officials told us that more than 30 of the commandos had been killed, and we could see, on the streets and in the hospitals, 10 other wounded commandos. An additional 50 police officers and militiamen were also killed in the previous 24 hours, according to the militia’s commander, Nazer Hussein, who arrived from the front line with his wounded to plead for reinforcements. “This is genocide,” Commander Hussein said. “If they don’t do something soon, the whole district will be in the Taliban’s hands.”

Read more: New York Times

At least three people have been killed and eight wounded after a suicide bomber hit a protest site in the Afghan capital, Kabul, according to local media reports. Tolo News, a Kabul-based news website, reported the blast happened on Monday close to Pashtunistan Square, where hundreds of people had been protesting over insecurity in the country.

Nasrat Rahimi, the deputy spokesman for the interior ministry, said, "The suicide attacker on foot wanted to target protesters, but he was stopped at a security checkpoint some 200 metres from the site."  "There have been casualties and I can say most of them are security forces." Videos posted on social media appeared to show bodies lying on the ground moments after the bombing.

The explosion came as Taliban fighters killed scores of security forces in the western province of Farah and the eastern province Ghazni overnight on Monday. Earlier, at least 37 local policemen were killed in Farah and 20 members of the Afghan security force were killed in Ghazni's Jaghuri district on Sunday.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the Ghazni attack and said in a text message that the armed group had captured Malistan district. Fighting in the area has been ongoing since Wednesday, fanning fears that the violence could be rooted in ethnic or sectarian differences.

Taliban fighters have ramped up attacks on Afghan security forces and government facilities in recent months, leaving troops thinly stretched throughout the country. A US watchdog agency said last week that the Afghan government was struggling to regain control of districts lost to the Taliban while casualties among security forces had reached record levels.

The government had control or influence over 65 percent of the population but only 55.5 percent of Afghanistan's 407 districts, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a report.

News source: al-Jazeera