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Terrorism News

A collection of open-source terrorism news from around the world.
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The new leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, has called for unity in an audio message, saying that the group will continue fighting. Mullah Mansour was named as the new leader on Thursday, after the death of former head Mullah Omar was confirmed. But a Taliban spokesman told the BBC he had not been appointed "by all Taliban", going against Sharia law.

The audio message said fighters should unite as "division in our ranks will only please our enemies". It also said that the Taliban would "continue our jihad until we bring an Islamic rule in the country". The 30-minute recording - in which a crying baby is heard at some points - was released to journalists by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid on Saturday.

The first public message from the Afghan Taliban's new leader, Mullah Mansour, indicates that his way of doing things will be different from that of his reclusive predecessor, Mullah Omar, who relied on issuing written statements.

Read more: BBC

As recently as July 15th Mullah Muhammad Omar, the one-eyed leader of the Taliban, reassured his followers that no religious prohibition barred negotiations with the hated American-backed government in Kabul, the Afghan capital. After all, he wrote in one of the missives he traditionally issued to mark Islamic holidays, the Prophet himself had conducted "face-to-face talks with warring infidel parties". It was a message from beyond the grave.

On July 29th the Afghan government confirmed claims by Pakistani intelligence officials that the mysterious leader had in fact died in Pakistan in April 2013. For two years the insurgency chose to keep this quiet. It put out twice-yearly messages in the name of the former village mullah who claimed to speak with the authority of "Amir ul Momineen", or commander of the faithful. In 2014 even Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's successor as leader of al-Qaeda, pledged allegiance (perhaps unwittingly) to a dead man.

Mullah Omar cemented his status as spiritual leader in 1996 by waving a holy relic-the cloak of the Prophet-from the roof of a mosque in Kandahar, the Taliban's former stronghold in Afghanistan's south. It was essential to his control over the revolutionary posse of hard-line seminarians that emerged from civil war to conquer almost the entire country. After its government in Kabul crumbled under American air power in 2001, he played a minimal role in running the insurgency it became. But his religious authority maintained the movement's cohesion in a country riven by rival warlords.

Read more: The Economist

India’s top court has rejected a final appeal by Yakub Memon, a key plotter of bomb attacks that killed hundreds in Mumbai in 1993, paving the way for his execution.  Indian media reports said Memon would hang on 30 July – more than two decades after the deadliest attacks ever to hit India – after the supreme court rejected his final plea.  The Bombay stock exchange, the offices of Air India and a luxury hotel were among the targets of the March 1993 blasts, which killed 257 people in India’s commercial capital.

The attacks were believed to have been staged by Mumbai’s Muslim-dominated underworld in retaliation for anti-Muslim violence that had killed more than 1,000 people.  Memon was the only one of 11 people convicted for the 1993 attacks to have his death sentence upheld on appeal. The sentences on the others were commuted to life imprisonment.  Executions are only carried out in very rare cases in India. But the Indian president, Pranab Mukherjee, has rejected a number of pleas for mercy in recent years, ending an unofficial eight-year moratorium.

Read more: The Guardian (UK)

The Islamic State’s reclusive leader has empowered his inner circle of deputies as well as regional commanders in Syria and Iraq with wide-ranging authority, a plan to ensure that if he or other top figures are killed, the organization will quickly adapt and continue fighting, American and Iraqi intelligence officials say.

The officials say the leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, delegates authority to his cabinet, or shura council, which includes ministers of war, finance, religious affairs and others.  The Islamic State’s leadership under Mr. Baghdadi has drawn mainly from two pools: veterans of Al Qaeda in Iraq who survived the insurgency against American forces with battle-tested militant skills, and former Baathist officers under Saddam Hussein with expertise in organization, intelligence and internal security. It is the merger of these two skill sets that has made the organization such a potent force, the officials say.

Source: New York Times

A federal judge here on Wednesday ordered three young men accused of plotting to travel to Syria to fight for the Islamic State kept in detention while awaiting trial, at least for now. That decision came after the defense argued that entrusting the men immediately to their families and Somali-American leaders was the best way to insulate them from radical Islam.

But United States District Judge Michael J. Davis, in a shift from what other federal judges have done in similar cases involving young people accused of being Islamic State recruits, signaled a willingness to revisit his decision in the coming months.

“This is way too important for us to treat it as a regular criminal case,” Judge Davis said at the end of the third hearing. “It has a dynamic to it that we have to address, and hopefully we can.”

The issue of how to deradicalize young people attracted to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has become increasingly important here and in many other communities where recruitment by militant Islamic groups, often done online, has led to arrests.

Read more: New York Times