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Homeland Security News

A collection of open-source homeland security and terrorism news from around the world.
Date: Sep 9, 2019

A suspected suicide bomber in a Muslim woman’s traditional outfit was killed when setting off explosives during an attack on a military detachment in the southern Philippines, the only casualty in the latest deadly bombing on Jolo Island this year, authorities said late Sunday.

The bombing was the second to occur in the volatile Philippine south in as many days, after a blast injured eight people at a market in Sultan Kudarat province on Saturday, officials said. On Sunday, Islamic State claimed it was behind the attack in Sultan Kudarat, the Reuters news agency reported, citing a statement issued by the extremist group.

In Saturday’s attack in Sultan Kudarat province, CCTV footage obtained by police showed a man disguised as a woman leaving a bag with the bomb next to motorcycles that were parked outside a bakery, authorities said.

Philippine military officials said that the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter faction of MILF that opposed the peace agreement and was now aligned with IS, likely carried out the marketplace attack on Saturday.

Read more: Benar News

Three Iranians who were detained in Cyprus may have been part of a terrorist cell, the blog Intelli Times reported on Sunday.

According to the report, the Iranians were arrested in the town of Paphos and told Cypriot authorities that they had obtained false passports in the Turkish-controlled part of the island after arriving from Turkey, ostensibly for the purpose of seeking employment in Europe.

But local authorities suspect they may actually be part of a plot to carry out terrorist activity, in light of past instances where Iranians who had arrived in Europe under the guise of labor migrants turned out to be affiliated with rogue elements such as Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force, which serves as Iran's arms for regional aggression.

Earlier this year, a large Qods Force cell was uncovered in France and in the past, the force's members were linked to various terrorist attacks against Israelis in Europe and elsewhere.

Source: Israel Hayom – ISR

A significant arms cache, including a sniper rifle, a silencer and tracer rounds linked to the banned terrorist group al-Muhajiroun have been found in Coventry, the Observer can reveal.

Officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and MI5 are investigating the weapons haul, which also includes a shotgun and 200 rounds of ammunition, following raids at several addresses in the city.

A statement from West Midlands Police, which assists the regional counter-terrorism unit, said: “Firearms and ammunition were recovered during the raids and a police investigation is ongoing.” Four men have been arrested, one of whom has links to the al-Muhajiroun network, according to sources. The group, active in the UK since the mid-1980s, disappeared after the July 2005 attacks on London, but maintained a presence under various different names. It was eventually banned in 2009 under legislation outlawing “glorification” of terrorism.

Read more: The Guardian

Warplanes have struck positions of Iran-backed militias near Syria's border with Iraq, activists say. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said at least 18 Iranian and pro-Iranian fighters were killed.

It was not clear who carried out the overnight strikes in and around the town of Albu Kamal. But Israel has carried out hundreds of attacks on Iranian-linked targets in Syria during the country's civil war. It has sought to thwart what it calls Iran's "military entrenchment" in Syria and shipments of Iranian weapons to militant groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cited its sources as saying the unidentified warplanes had bombed bases, arms depots and vehicles belonging to Iran-backed militias in al-Hizam al-Akhdar and other areas around Albu Kamal.

Omar Abu Layla, a Europe-based activist from the DeirEzzor 24 group, said powerful explosions were heard across the town, and that there was a "state of chaos and panic" among the militia fighters. Another activist group, Sound and Picture, cited medical sources as saying 21 people were killed, and that militias had taken all the bags of blood at Albu Kamal's hospital to treat their wounded fighters.

A source from an Iran-backed Iraqi paramilitary force, the Popular Mobilisation, told the BBC that a drone had targeted its headquarters on the Iraqi-Syrian border, about 6km (4 miles) south of Albu Kamal. The force had sent vehicles from the nearby Iraqi town of al-Qaim to the scene because of the large number of casualties, the source added.

Hours later, a number of rockets were launched towards Israel from the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, but failed to hit Israeli territory, according to the Israeli military. It blamed militia fighters operating under the command of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, but said it held the Syrian government responsible. 

Meanwhile, Hezbollah said its fighters had shot down an unmanned Israeli drone over southern Lebanon early on Monday and seized it. The Israeli military said one of its drones "fell inside southern Lebanon during routine operations". It did not give a reason, but said there as "no concern information could be taken from it".

Source: BBC News

The Taliban launched an attack on Farah City, the provincial capital of Farah province late last night and fighting is ongoing inside the city. Farah City is the third capital that has come under attack by the Taliban in the past week. The fighting takes place as the US is considering inking a withdrawal deal with the Taliban to extricate itself from Afghanistan.

The assault on Farah City was launched from three sides, according to Afghan officials and the Taliban. Afghan officials claim the Taliban has been “pushed back” and fighting is ongoing on the city’s outskirts, TOLONews reports. 

The Taliban tells a different story. It claims fighting is continuing inside the city, it overran a recruitment center, and “is currently under siege in Farah district administration center.” Khaama Press confirmed the Taliban was inside “the Recruitment Compound of the Afghan Army.” A Taliban spokesman released a short video of its fighters walking the streets of Farah City (see video above).

The Taliban also claims it overran the Ana Dara district center in Farah province. The district has previously been considered contested by FDD’s Long War Journal. The Taliban claim cannot be independently confirmed, however the group has been accurate about such reports in the past. 

The Taliban took partial control of Farah City during an attack in May 2018. Afghan officials and Resolute Support denied the Taliban entered the city, but videos showing Taliban fighters inside the city as well as statements from residents proved this was false.

Farah City is the third provincial capital to come under direct Taliban threat in the past week. The Taliban assaulted Kunduz City and Pul-i-Khurmi in Bahglan at the end of last week. Afghan officials claim that the Taliban has been driven from Kunduz City, however heavy fighting is reported in the surrounding districts.

Read more: Long War Journal