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International Security Analysis

By Benot Theunissen August September 2013 Brussels

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02/08/2013 Latest incidents in the Netherlands linked to the issue of a 19-year-old woman, referred by medias as Oum Usama, arrested on July 17 in Zoetermeer by the Dutch police for having recruited individuals for the Jihad in Syria have drawn particular attention in the Netherland medias. A massive online campaign has been launched on numerous jihadist websites to demand the release of Oum Usama. The Dutch facebook group Vreiheid voor Usama (Liberty for Usama) announced its intention to hold a demonstration on August 1 in The Hague. The demonstration was finally cancelled on July 31 after a statement of the public prosecutor in The Hague claiming that Oum Usama would be freed on August 2. According to the prosecution, there is no further element for a longer pre-trial detention. The regional Office of Criminal Investigation Unit in The Hague started an investigation under the direction of the prosecutor about radical Islamists suspected to have recruited people for Jihad in Syria. The investigation is still in progress. Although Oum Usama will be freed, she still remains involved in the case. The Islamist activists calling on Facebook for the liberation of Oum Usama claimed in a press release that they take into account the statement of the Public Ministry but also that they will not give up campaigning until Oum Usama is freed. To recall, a rally in support of Oum Usama was already organized by Islamist group Global Tawheed in front of the Dutch Embassy in London on July 27. According to Dutch media, the rally was also attended by members of radical Islamist movement Sharia4Holland. The Dutch ambassador in London did not give any official comment in reaction to this demonstration. Rallies in France and Germany were also organized in support of Oum Usama. Another 24-years-old Dutch man called Mohammed G. was also arrested in November 2012 with a ticket to reach the Turkish border. The man allegedly intended to join Islamist camps in Syria. He was expected to make a first stopover in Brussels. The Dutch daily De Volkskrant reported that the criminal investigators found knifes, farewell letters and Jihadist propaganda on the suspect during his arrest. Mohammed G. was expected to come in court in Rotterdam on July 31. According to the suspects lawyers, having the intention to reach the Syrian conflict area does not mean that their client planned to commit terrorist attacks. According to the prosecution, recorded phone calls obviously proove that the suspected Jihadist planned to join Al- Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Al-Nusra Front. He also recently married a Muslim woman he met on Internet, in his comments on Internet Mohammed G. expressed his wish to die with her as a martyr. The info website previously reported that the Dutch intelligence services (AIVD) helped the police to stop on May 17 a 16-years-old girl leaving the Netherlands to fight in Syria. Her arrest happened while the security service was carrying an investigation into people actively recruiting youngsters to join the struggle in Syria. The Dutch NOS television reported on March 11, quoting the Dutch counter terrorism agency NCTV (National Coordinator for

Counterterrorism and security), that 100 Dutch Islamists were currently fighting in Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. The daily De Volkskrant reported on April 18 that the parents of several Dutch youths recruited for Jihad complained to the police in The Hague about two recruiters who approached their children. In this respect, three complaints have been made against a man called Murat or Ibrahim the Turk and three others against a man known as Aboe Moussa. The suspect has been indentified for being active in the radical movement Behind Bars. To recall, Islamist movement Behind Bars was already implicated in the organization of pro-Islamist rallies in the Netherlands over the last years. The Dutch AIVD intelligence service 2012 annual report identified three main Islamists groups in The Netherlands: Sharia4Holland, Street Dawah and Behind Bars. Despite differences in opinion between these movements, they are all commonly working in anti-democratic activities and preach jihadist beliefs. - Sharia4Holland is a radical Islamist Dutch movement whose goal is to establish the Sharia in the Netherlands. The AIVD has constantly monitored this movement as it is leading an active Islamist propaganda. AIVD previous investigations reported that Sharia4Holland was already carrying recruitment for jihad in Syria in 2012. - Street Dawah is famous worldwide for having local groups in numerous countries. Their official goal is to spread the message of islam in the world. The dawa means in Arabic an invitation to non-muslims to listen to the message of islam. - Behind Bars is known as an international radical Islamist group that heads a local branch in The Netherlands. Behind Bars Dutch branch took part in 2012 in a demonstration in Amsterdam against the film Innocence of Muslims. The 2012 AIVD annual report claimed that Behind Bars has been acting recruitments for Syrian jihad in the Netherlands.

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09/08/2013 The latest incidents on the border between Tunisia and Algeria linked to the issue of the Tunisian counter-terrorist operation launched in Jebel Chaambi in December 2012 have drawn particular attention in the North African and European media. On July 29, the Tunisian forces faced an attack with the worst death toll since many years. 9 soldiers, members of an elite unit, were killed during a fire fight with a terrorist group in the Chaambi Mountains (Jebel Chaambi). Due to its localization 17 km from the border with Algeria, the Chaambi Mountains constitutes a strategic place for terrorists groups who try to cross the border from Algeria. 3 terrorists who attempted to infiltrate Tunisia were shot dead on August 5. On the same day, a weapons cache hidden in a cemetery near the border was seized by the Tunisian security services. 12 alleged terrorists were also arrested during this operation that took place thanks to an exchange of intelligence information between Algeria and Tunisia. In a previous statement, the Tunisian army claimed having given orders to capture the terrorists instead of shooting them. The army aims to take benefit of the pieces of intelligence. Ongoing security operations forced numerous Islamist terrorists to escape from the area of Chaambi Mountains and to shelter in other regions of the country or even to cross the border and infiltrate neighboring Algeria. For instance, a member of the terrorist Katibat Okba Ibn Nafaa was captured by the national forces in Kef, close to the nerve point of the operation. The suspect was wanted under several arrest warrants. In addition to the 9 soldiers killed by terrorists on July 29, an anti-tank mine exploded on August 6, killing a soldier and injuring 5 others. Since this incident, the Tunisian army took the decision to modify its tactic by using combat tanks resisting against the mines used by terrorists in Jebel Chaambi. Due to the risk that terrorists spotted in Jebel Chaambi could come back in Algeria due to the strengthening of the Tunisian counter-terrorist operation Algerian authorities decided to intensify cooperation with Tunisia against terrorism. On August 6 and 7, Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Othman Jarandi was travelling to Algiers to discuss with the Algerian authorities who have been concerned for months by the counterterrorist fight on the other side of the border, in Jebel Chaambi. A bilateral statement promised to strengthen the security cooperation between the 2 neighbors. Algerian media reported that Algiers have sent thousands of their soldiers to fight terrorism on their side of the border. Although media have mentioned that intelligence services of both countries have already exchanged information for many months, Algeria refuses to expose its security strategy to the public. Tunisian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Othman Jarandi claimed on August 6 that the terrorists do not care about borders and that their power is due to their ability to move easily from a state to another Up to now, it should be mentioned that the terrorists fighting In the Chaambi mountains remains

almost unidentified. All we know is the presence of: - A cell fighting in the name of Tarik ibn Ziad brigade, earlier led by AQIM officer Abou Zed who was shot dead in a clash with the French army during the war in Mali. His death was confirmed by an AQIM statement on June 16 but without providing further information about the date. Abou Zaieds brigade was almost dismantled in Mali except a section composed of 30 people that flew 6 months ago to the North on the border between Algeria and Tunisia; - The Batna brigade composed of numerous Algerian citizens coming from the city of Batna, close to the border with Tunisia. Batna has become famous for being a nerve centre of AQIM activities; - Former Tunisian jihadists who fought in Syria. The Uqba Ibn Nafaa brigad is in charge to recruit these jihadists in Tunisia before sending them to Syria. The Uqba Ibn Nafaa brigad is mostly operating in the city of Kasserine, only few kilometers from Jebel Chaambi. Sources said they could be dozens of them fighting in Jebel Chaambi. Terrorism expert Mathieu Guidre claimed in an interview in Le Nouvel Observateur that theterrorist proliferation in Jebel Chaambi took advantage of the weakness of Tunisia after the revolution in 2011. Tunisia failed to tackle rapidly the issue of terrorism due to the change of power. Despite the wide military operation launched in the Chaambi mountains, terrorists are spreading their zone of influence in other regions of the country.

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16/08/2013 The latest incidents perpetrated by the Islamists of Boko Haram in Nigeria have drawn particular attention in the international media. Although the earlier attacks of the terrorist group may indicate that the movement is reacting to reinforced military actions in the region, Boko Haram seems now carrying assaults of retaliation against civilians. Recent incidents involving Boko Haram following the end of the month of Ramadan have been reported on a daily basis: - On August 13, 2 of the main Boko Haram leaders, Mohamad Bama and Abubakar Zakariya Yau, were killed in the Adamawa State, in the northeast of Nigeria- On August 12, AFP obtained a video where Boko Haram leader Haram Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for several attacks that recently occurred. In response to the earlier US offer of $7 millions for anyone providing information leading to his capture, Shekau threatened Barack Obama, Franois Hollande and Benyamin Netanyahou. - On August 11, Boko Haram terrorists are suspected of having killed at least 44 Muslim worshipers in an attack against a mosque in Kontuga town, Borno State. In the past, Boko Haram attacked mosques whose clerics have spoken out against them. It seems that this attack could be in revenge over a vigilante groups formed to help the army to fight the terrorist organization. In the light of recent events, the military offensive launched in May by President Goodluck Jonathan succeeded just to roll back the Islamist insurgents to more distant places, not to neutralize them. Despite the will of the army to fight Boko Haram, its strategy has turned against itself. By encouraging local militias the vigilantes to fight along the soldiers, the islamist group has carried retaliation attacks against villagers. Although the number of Boko Haram attacks has decreased since the state of alert imposition in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States, it seems not to be enough to fight efficiently Boko Haram. On the contrary of the 2010-2012 attacks, the current incidents have been located in the northeast of the country. Boko Haram has progressively extended its influence zone and focused its attacks in the north and the center of Nigeria.

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06/09/2013 The attack carried this week by Al Shabaab against the Somali president has drawn particular attention in worldwide media. International media reported that, on Tuesday, Al Shabaab fighters ambushed the convoy of Somali president Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud, near the harbour of Merka in the Lower Shabelle region, 90 km from Mogadishu. Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud was expected to lead a 2-day stay, carrying talks with local communities and traditional elders. The Somali president escaped the attack unhurt. Al Shabaab spokesman Abdulaziz Abu Musab claimed responsibility for this attack, telling that the attackers killed several soldiers and destroyed 2 armoured vehicles with mortars and rocket propelled grenades. Meanwhile the death toll of the incident has not been confirmed by governmental sources so far. The incident against the presidential convoy that occurred on Tuesday near Merka constitutes a sign that Al Shabaab has large ambitions for power, by regularly attacking state representatives. The Al Qaeda-affiliated organization Al Shabaab has fought in Somalia for a decade. Its acts of violence have overflowed behind the borders of neighbouring countries like Kenya. As a result, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was set up in January 2007 with a peacekeeping purpose. The numerous AMISOM successes implied that Al Shabaab lost its influence on numerous key areas across the country, such as Mogadishu and Kismayu. Although Al Shabaab had to leave its former positions due to high pressure imposed by government troops, this recent attack obviously shows how easily Al Shabaab can infiltrate areas under the control of the African peacekeepers and the government troops. It also reveals that the government can be henceforth targeted at its own heart. Al Shabaab attacks have been reported on a daily basis for years, including assaults against the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu, UN compounds, governmental institutions, airports and murders of all kind of authority officials (government officials, district commissioners, civil servants). These latest gains of power of Al Shabaab should be put into the right perspective. By withdrawing out of many of its previous positions in key cities, especially Kismayu, the terrorist organization has lost its most important stronghold and key hub for its financial operations. Consequently, Al Shabaab has started to engage in criminal acts in order to keep financing their jihad. International commentators agree to say that Al Shabaab remains weakened.

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13/09/2013 The recent incidents related to the clashes between armed partisans of former president Francois Bozize and the Seleka fighters have drawn particular attention in the international media. In a previous ESISC briefing published on August 28, it was mentioned that the new country leader Michel Djotodia had to tackle numerous issues, following his oath on August 18. In the light of the recent incidents, international commentators have concluded that the situation of instability in the country has worsened since the transition president took his oath on August 18. The incidents that have been reported since last week-end highlight a worsening security situation: On September 8, clashes erupted in the northern town of Bossangoa between members of Seleka coalition and fighters, loyal to the toppled president Francois Bozize. Up to 60 people were killed in these clashes. Hundreds of pro-Bozize fighters took the control of some localities around Bossangoa, Ouham prefecture. Reinforcements of Seleka were sent from Bangui. The fighting forced hundreds of local citizens to flee from the area. On September 11, the death toll of the clashes between the Francois Bozizes partisans and the Seleka fighters was scaled up from 60 to 100 people killed. 50 people were also reported injured. On September 11, it was reported that the Chief of Staff of the Central African army was sacked by President Michel Djotodia, following the offensive of the fighters loyal to the ousted president Francois Bozize. The UN warned about the risk for the Central African Republic to become a failed state. During the next 18-months of constitutional transition, Michel Djotodia is expected to focus on two main goals: To implement a sustainable peace and security situation. To reform the administration seriously undermined since the coup in March. The national administration is almost inexistent in most of the region. Meanwhile Bozizes partisans and Seleka fighters are taking advantage of the lack of security forces to commit abuses. The security forces have abandoned their posts, forcing population to flee in the bushes seeking for more security. In addition to its insecurity issue, the country is also facing a humanitarian crisis. According toNGOs, a third of the population requires food, shelter, healthcare and water. The country is ranked as the 180th out of 186 nations in the UN Human Development Index. Average life expectancy of the population is the second shortest worldwide, reaching only 49 years. Health problems are also challenging the governance of the country. Many people are suffering from malnutrition and malaria, the main cause of death through the country. HIV rates are high. The remaining health services are witnessing a shortage of vaccines and medicines. The public health service and the aid organizations have been lacking of personnel. Most of it fled in the

aftermath of the coup in March. A risk for the country could be to sink into a tribal or a sectarian war. By carrying attacks against thepositions of the Seleka, the armed partisans of the former president assaulted Muslim civilians. As a result, it led to retaliation attacks committed by the Seleka fighters against Christians. The international community is expecting a lot from the new peacekeeping force, the The International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA), planned to substitute the current Multinational Force for Central Africa (FOMAC) in December.