Groundbreaking work for the proposed wall between Kenya and Somalia has begun in Kiunga, Lamu County, under heavy police and military guard amid alleged protests by the Somali government.
The National Youth Service (NYS) Wednesday started digging a trench that will provide a foundation for the wall at a section where Kenya’s border with Somalia meets the Indian Ocean.
The section overlooks uninhabited islands suspected to be a hide-out for Al-Shabaab militants and also believed to provide a safe passage for smugglers.
The large number of foreign fighters taking part in the ongoing conflict in Iraq and Syria will pose an international security threat for decades to come, Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said to Jakartapost.
And, like most countries, Singapore is concerned that these fighters – who number over 20,000 – could carry out attacks when they return home and radicalise others to join their ranks, he said at the opening of an international meeting on the terror threat. “The security threat posed by returnees has already manifested in several incidents,” Teo said, citing the instance of French national Mehdi Nemmouche, who killed four people in Brussels last May after returning from Syria.
Nemmouche had travelled through Singapore on his way home from Syria, he added.
With more than 500 radicals from the Asia-Pacific now fighting with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the issue of how to tackle the security threat they pose and rehabilitate those who have returned was a key theme at the forum yesterday.
The two-day East Asia Summit (EAS) Symposium on Religious Rehabilitation and Social Reintegration involves 560 participants from more than 30 countries, including top officials and scholars from Malaysia, Indonesia and the United States.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced Singapore’s intention to host the summit when EAS leaders met in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, last November as part of its effort to help find ways to counter ISIS’ influence.
Yesterday, Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, said the fallout from the Syrian conflict “goes beyond what any one country or government can deal with”.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution. But there is definitely scope for us to learn from one another on what has worked under different circumstances.”
Teo noted that the threat of returning fighters is not new, as Singaporean members of the Jemaah Islamiah network, nabbed in 2001 and 2002, had trained in Afghanistan.
But unlike the Soviet-Afghan war that spawned Al-Qaeda and drew largely individual fighters, ISIS has attracted entire families who have relocated to be part of the self-proclaimed caliphate.
“Given their exposure to radical ideology and violence from a tender age, it is worrying what these children will grow up to be,” Teo said.
He also noted that one common trait among radicalised individuals in Singapore was that they had weak religious grounding, making them susceptible to radicals who distort religion to legitimise violence.
In Singapore, religious scholars have stepped forward to help counsel detainees and rehabilitate them, and this Religious Rehabilitation Group continues to educate the wider community about the dangers of radical ideology, Teo said.
Countries also need to look into reintegrating rehabilitated terrorists into society, he added.
In Singapore, an Inter-Agency Aftercare Group (ACG) ropes in community groups to support families of detainees and ensure those released are reintegrated into society. Said ACG member Abdul Halim Kader: “We want to prevent the second generation from being radicalised.”
Speakers at the symposium today include Mufti Fatris Bakaram and General John Allen, the US’ special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS.
– See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/04/17/foreign-isis-fighters-will-be-a-threat-decades.html#sthash.AnienQcs.dpuf
Somalia militant group Al- Shabaab hijacked a bus in Kenya’s northeastern county of Mandera, near the border with Somalia, officials have said.
Mandera County Commissioner Alex Ole Nkoyo said the bus was carrying 12 passengers when it was attacked by 10 armed men dressed in jungle uniform at noon at Takaba location.
The official said the militants reportedly asked all passengers to get off and took the bus into Somalia.
“They took the driver’s phone and money and sped off to Somalia, ” Nkoyo said, adding the security agency has launched a hunting.
The Al-Shabaab insurgents have many times carried out cross- border incursions where they abduct people for ransom.
Nkoyo said the driver was using the notorious Mandera-Lafey- Elwak road due to heavy floods in Rhamu. In November last year in the same route, the militants ambushed a Nairobi-bound bus, killing 28 non-Muslim passengers.
Nkoyo appealed to drivers to use the “safer” Mandera-Rhamu road instead of the Lafey one that is closer to the Kenya-Somalia border.
Nigerian President has told the United Nations his country would not need the help of an international force in the fight against Boko Haram.
The outgoing leader yesterday said in a statement he wanted the UN to focus instead on helping to rebuild communities and assist those affected by the six-year Islamist insurgency.
Jonathan made the remarks after meeting with the special representatives of the UN secretary-general for west and central Africa, Mohammed Ibn Chambas and Abdoulaye Bathily, the statement said.
The UN refugee agency has said that 1.5 million people have been displaced by Boko Haram violence in northern Nigeria, while more than 13,000 people have been killed.
Jonathan said that with the support of troops from Chad, Niger and Cameroon, the Nigerian military had in recent months regained most of the towns and villages seized by the Islamist militants in the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
The Nigerian military has “commenced a final push to take the last stronghold of the insurgents in Sambisa Forest” in Borno state, the statement quoted him as saying.
It is believed that most of the 219 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok in Borno state a year ago are being held in the forest.
Chambas, a former head of west African regional bloc ECOWAS, told Jonathan that the UN team was visiting the countries affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, which also includes Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
He reaffirmed the UN’s readiness to support the ongoing efforts by Nigeria and its neighbours to end the insurgency.
“They used to train girls how to shoot guns. I was among the girls trained to shoot. I was also trained how to use bombs and how to attack a village. They’ll dress us and demonstrate to us how to explode a bomb. This training went on for 3 weeks after we arrived. Then they started sending some of us to operations. I went on one operation to my own village.” –Aisha (age 19)
Imagine waking up one morning, preparing for a friend’s wedding just before you are kidnapped, forced into “marriage” with one of your abductors and held captive in a remote camp hundreds of miles from home.
In these camps you witness brutal executions, are required to convert to an unfamiliar religion, and threatened into killing on behalf of an atrocious armed militant group. Sexual violence is an everyday occurrence.
What might sound like a fictitious Hollywood plot to some is all too real for others. This is the story of Aisha, whose real name will be withheld for security reasons. Aisha is one of the estimated 2000 girls who have been abducted by Boko Haram and one of the few who have escaped.
One year ago, the world was left in shock after the abduction of 276 girls from to town of Chibok, Nigeria. Unfortunately, the horror of these abductions is just one aspect of an insurgency that has been devastating Nigerian communities long before the story of the 276 Chibok girls became international news last year and continuing after the abductions occurred.
Boko Haram militarized in 2009 and has been gradually claiming territory in the northeastern regions of Nigeria. Starting in 2014 and into 2015, the scale and quantity of the group’s attacks skyrocketed, resulting in the deaths of at least an estimated 5,500 civilians. Amnesty has documented several of these attacks, including the raid of Baga town on January 3rd,2015 when 2,000 people were killed and the attack on Bama in March where an estimated 5900 people were killed.
In March the Nigerian people made history by sweeping out incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan and electing former head of State Muhammadu Buhari, who vowed to crush Boko Haram. The Jonathan administration was widely criticized for its failure to stop the insurgency and restore peace and security to the northeast states most impacted by the conflict.
It is critical that the international community press President-Elect Buhari to follow up on his campaign promises to not only free the Chibok girls, but to restore the rule of law and protection of human rights in the north as well as throughout the country. The violence of Boko Haram is just one challenge that must be addressed by the new leadership in Abuja and these challenges will not be solved by military means.
Aisha deserves to live in a country where she can go to school without fear, where one’s religion does not mean a death sentence and where her government is willing to invest in the safety of its people.
We cannot wait another year to free the Chibok Girls and end violence against women and girls in Nigeria.
For more information, read the Amnesty International report “Our jobs were to shoot slaughter and kill” on Boko Haram’s reign of terror in northeastern Nigeria.
Somalia’s Islamist al-Shabab militants are recruiting heavily in north-eastern Kenya, according to evidence gathered by the BBC.
The recruitment marks a new tactic for al-Shabab, underscoring fears voiced by Kenyan intelligence services and MPs.
In one town alone, the BBC has learnt of 26 young men whose disappearance was reported to police because they were suspected to have joined the militants.
Al-Shabab attacked a Kenyan university two weeks ago, killing 150 people.
The attack at Garissa was the deadliest yet on Kenyan soil by the militants. One of the gunmen was a Kenyan national.
Al-Shabab’s recruitment of fighters in Kenya’s own backyard marks a change of tactic for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in East Africa.
The BBC has learnt of scores cases of missing young men in the north-eastern town of Isiolo, who later admitted in phone calls to their parents that they had joined the Islamist group.
Only half of those cases have been reported to the police because of fears of reprisals. There are similar concerns in other parts of the country.
As part of the Kenyan government’s efforts to enlist the help of the Muslim community to fight the radicalisation of Kenyan youth, an amnesty has been offered to young Kenyan men who have been lured into joining al-Shabab.
But one of the most powerful Muslim leaders in the country, Sheikh Abdullahi Salat, warned that widespread mistrust of the security services in Kenya threatens to frustrate investigations.
He claimed that corruption within the police, military and intelligence services was likely to hamper attempts to hunt down al-Shabab.
But the Kenyan government, whose anti-insurgency campaign has focused largely on military efforts across the border in Somalia, have described the allegations as a “diversion”.
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A new United Nations website distributing warnings about risks to aircraft in conflict zones issued its first advisories on Wednesday, for countries including Libya, Iraq, Egypt and South Sudan, according to Reuters.
The website http://www.icao.int/czir/Pages/posts.aspx was set up after the downing of a Malaysian passenger aircraft over an area of fighting in Ukraine last year and is hosted by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It went live at the start of this month.
The initial advisories came from the United Kingdom, and warned of the risks of anti-aircraft weaponry in Libya, Iraq, South Sudan and the Sinai peninsula area of Egypt.
Any decision on whether to close airspace will still rest with the individual countries but the aim is for airlines to use the information in their route planning.
Britain said there was a risk to aircraft flying at an altitude of less than 25,000 feet over South Sudan and said operators were “strongly advised” to take this into account in their risk assessments and route decisions.
It also strongly advised operators not to enter the territory and airspace of Iraq due to the “hazardous” situation there.
Countries for which warnings have been issued have the right to object. Both Iraq and South Sudan objected to the warning issued by Britain, according to the website.
Algeria will host in July an international conference on terrorism, announced in Algiers Minister for Maghreb and African Affairs Abdelkader Messahel.
Messahel stated that counterterrorism coordination existed between Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia as part of the countries neighboring of Libya, mentioning the efforts of the UN, the US, the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the Arab League.
“We will hold a conference on terrorism to define its causes and authors,” Messahel told a news conference held jointly with UN Special Envoy for Libya, Bernardino Leon at the end of 2nd round of inter-Libyan dialogue.
The fight against terrorism is one of “the major challenges faced by the region’s countries,” said Messahel indicating that the fight against this phenomenon concerns the entire international community, particularly the UN and the Security Council, whether in Libya Sahel or in another part of the world.”
Algeria “was the first country targeted by terrorism coming from Libya,” he said, recalling the terrorist attack that targeted the Tiguentourine gas complex (In Amenas) in January 2012.