Kabul, June 20 A suicide bomber struck a bus carrying security personnel in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Monday, officials said.
“The attack took place in Pul-e-Charkhi road. There is fear of possible casualties,” an official told Xinhua news agency.
“So far, we have no more details, but we will try to get more information,” the official added.
Witnesses said they heard heavy explosion when the attacker targeted the bus carrying foreign security guards presumably from Nepal. (IANS)
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack in Kabul on June 20, killing at least 14 people on a mini-bus and wounding several others.
Police say the bomber approached the bus on foot and set off explosives.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry says the victims were Nepalese security guards (Source: VOA)
A recently published article of NewsGram titiled ‘Innocent Civilians suffer the most in Lethal Combat against the Taliban‘ highlights the lethal attacks increasingly performed by Taliban against the Afghan Government, ruthlessly destroying the settlements of civilians along the way. It says, “Ever since September 2015, Taliban had been performing increasingly lethal attacks against the Afghan Government, ruthlessly destroying the settlements of civilians along the way. Families have been carelessly torn apart with no one to sympathize with their pain and sorrow. The battle of Kunduz, which commenced in April 2015 in an effort by the Taliban forces to take control of the city, assumed a more savage form with the onset of the Mansour leadership.”
A UN report from February illustrates the fact that more than 3,500 civilians were killed in 2015, and an appalling one in four deaths were that of a child’s, a big rise as compared to last year’s records, making this the highest number of deaths noted.
IANS reported last Year on August 8, At least 35 people were killed and hundreds more injured in separate bomb attacks in Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul. It flattened buildings, damaged cars and left a 10m crater in the road. At least 240 people – mostly civilians – were injured.
People often resort to using hate speech when searching about terrorism on a community group social media platform, say researchers.
According to Snehasish Banerjee, lecturer at the York Management School, University of York, it appears seems that people are really curious to know about terrorists, what terrorists think, their ideas, etc.
“While portrayed as a threat to society and human civilisation by mainstream media, terrorists sell terrorism as freedom fighting via social networking sites and private messaging platforms,” said Banerjee.
“However, the actual workings of terrorism are largely shrouded in secrecy. For the curious, a convenient avenue to turn to is the community question answering sites”.
Community question answering sites (CQAs) are social media platforms where users ask questions, answer those submitted by others, and have the option to evaluate responses. Previous studies have mainly looked at terrorism-related data drawn from Facebook and Twitter, this was the first to examine trends on the CQA site, Yahoo! Answers.
The University of York study explored the use of Yahoo! Answers on the topic of terrorism and looked at a dataset of 300 questions that attracted more than 2,000 answers. The questions reflected the community’s information needs, ranging from the life of extremists to counter-terrorism policies. Sensitive questions outnumbered innocuous ones.
A typical innocuous question was: Who exactly created ISIS?, while a more sensitive question was: Do you agree with Donald Trump that we should ban Muslims coming from countries seized by ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorists? According to the findings, sensitive questions were significantly more likely to be submitted anonymously than innocuous ones.
While no significant difference arose with respect to answers, the paper found that identities were seldom recognisable. Using names non-traceable to themselves, the community group users become embolden to use provocative, inflammatory or uncivil language. “We found that answers were laden with negative emotions reflecting hate speech and Islamophobia, making claims that were rarely verifiable,” said Banerjee.
Users who posted sensitive questions and answers generally tended to remain anonymous.
“This paper calls for governments and law enforcement agencies to collaborate with major social media companies, including CQAs, to develop a process for cross-platform blacklisting of users and content, as well as identifying those who are vulnerable,” the authors noted in the Aslib Journal of Information Management. (IANS)
Faith-based radicalisation as distinct from ideological or ethnicity-based motivation behind militancy, is at the root of the new global terror of our times that has unfortunately got linked with the so-called ‘Islamic world’. In the Indian context, this threat had overtaken the challenge the state faced in the Naxalite belt or the North East. Invoking the war cry of Jehad — a mandate of Quran to the faithful to fight for the defence of Islam and the Ummah in danger, till the last breath — has been used in a facile way by many Ulema and the leaders of the community who were striving to retain their political power.
Socio-political and economic grievances have been turned into a cause for Jehad — a ‘win win situation’ painted by its protagonists coming in handy for them to recruit the young for this ‘war cry’ in Kashmir and elsewhere. In any insurgency or militant movement, youth — for reasons of their vulnerability to indoctrination and loyalty to their leaders — tend to be on the forefront with a degree of daring that often made the task of bringing them back to the path of normalcy difficult.
In the Valley many of them got into a role of collaboration with the Pak terrorists infiltrated from across the LoC making counter-terror operations more arduous. Radicalisation of youth, that led them to a blind acceptance of Jehad, is a known project of Pak ISI and its proxies in India engaged in an ongoing ‘proxy war’ against this country. What should cause concern is their determined bid to exploit the ‘Minority issues’ here. The environ created by the anti-CAA stir, with its no-holds-barred communal propaganda, must be receiving the closest attention of our national security set-up.
Radicalisation is now a serious long-range threat to India’s security because Pakistan is unabashed about giving safe haven on its soil to terror outfits having linkages across the spectrum of Islam and is determined to use all clandestine channels available to it, in Kashmir and elsewhere, to radicalise local youth including teenagers. Pakistan wants the sleeper cells of terror recruits to support the covert offensive of the Mujahideen infiltrated from across the LoC in the Valley or sent in clandestinely to other parts of the country. De-radicalisation of misguided youth has, therefore, emerged as a prime strategy for India’s counter- terror effort.
Our security forces, led by the army, have to continue eliminating terrorists in Intelligence-based operations. However, apart from the hardened local militants, who accompanied the foreign Mujahideen and ran the risk of getting targeted in such operations, there could be some youth in varying stage of radicalisation falling into the hands of the army personnel. It should be feasible for the civil administration to take them on for a non- coercive programme of ‘corrective education’ — using the outreach to the families wherever possible — for getting them back on the constructive path. It may be mentioned that the army has evolved the practice of running health camps and other outreach programmes to build an image of friendliness towards law abiding citizens in the affected areas of Kashmir. This should strengthen the above endeavour of the government.
De-radicalisation initiatives are, however, greatly dependent on the capacity of the entire administration, including the police, to act as the eyes and ears of the state to detect youth who were vulnerable to radicalisation attempts of the adversary. Many of the identified stone pelters of Kashmir would need this approach of a corrective response. As part of a de-radicalisation educational programme, there may be incentives from the government for mainstreaming the youngsters by way of exploring the means of fixing them in jobs, facilitating their entry into a higher study programme or rendering a much needed financial help to their family.
Any programme of reeducating the ‘radicalised’ elements through interactions would call for the right content that highlights the value system of a democratic society, importance of religion as a source of social unity and advancement of peace, opposition to political misuse of freedom of religion and so on. Competent communicators should be able to bring out how all religions believe in one God though they may call Him by their own names, explain that religion is a matter of individual faith and point out that it was an important contributor of good social conduct involving respect for another person’s faith. Importance of showing reverence for symbols of the nation, considering national identity as the source of unity of all citizens and appreciating the greatness of democracy based on ‘one man one vote’ that worked for development of all and equal protection of law to all, has to be put across convincingly.
A clear message should be delivered to the youth that any indulgence in public violence under the misguiding influence of someone else can permanently damage the career for the life and that it was never too late to abandon the path of disruption and return to the sensible course of putting forth one’s demands in a peaceful manner. In the context of Kashmir, it should be explained that post-370, the Centre had taken full responsibility for the development and protection of all the people of J&K as one state without discrimination between Valley and the Jammu region, that the state had suffered because of the corruption of the Valley parties who encouraged separatism for their own political gains and that Kashmiris will now see better opportunities of growth throughout India and will also be better protected against Pak-sponsored terror.
At the same time, it is extremely important that the security & intelligence set-up of the centre and the state identify the preachers and the hidden masterminds — within India and abroad — furthering the enemy’s agenda and take them on legally and operationally. Equally vital is to scan the social media channels and websites used by the enemy agents to reach out to the targets for trapping them for recruitment in sleeper cells for terror activity. A lot is being done in this direction but data collection and analytics for fixing the originators of the activity need an ongoing consolidation. Our intelligence set-up would, of course, use the tradecraft to gain access to the adversary’s network getting over the ‘community’ barriers if any — infiltration through ‘plants’ is successfully achieved by many agencies of the West. (IANS)
Islamic State militants have increased their terror activity in recent weeks in Syria, carrying out deadly attacks against Syrian regime troops and U.S.-backed forces.
Since early December, the terror group has conducted at least three major attacks on Syrian government forces and their allied militias in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, local sources said.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor that has reporters across the country, recent attacks claimed by IS against Syrian military forces have killed at least 30 soldiers and wounded more than 50 others.
Last week, at least three fighters with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in what local military officials described as a suicide attack carried out by IS militants in the province of Raqqa, IS’s former de facto capital before it was freed in 2017 by the SDF and its U.S.-led allies.
‘Threat to our forces’
IS “terrorists still pose a threat to our forces, especially in the eastern part of Syria,” an SDF commander told VOA.
“They have been able to regroup and reorganize in some remote parts of Deir el-Zour, where there is a smaller presence of our forces or any other forces,” said the commander, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to journalists.
He added that despite the declaration of the physical defeat of the terror group in March 2019, IS “still has hundreds of sleeper cells that have the capability to wage deadly attacks on civilians and combatants alike.”
In the town of Tabqa, in western Raqqa, local news reports this week said a suspected IS sleeper cell assaulted a family, killing three of its members, including a child. The reports did not say why the family was attacked, but IS has in the past targeted people whom it suspected of having ties to or working for the government or U.S.-backed local forces.
While most of the recent activity has been in areas IS once controlled as part of its so-called caliphate, the militant group has been particularly active in Syria’s vast desert region.
The Syrian Observatory reported at least 10 IS-claimed attacks in December that originated from the mostly desert eastern part of Homs province in central Syria.
Despite the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in October in a U.S. operation in northwestern Syria, IS still represents a major threat in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, experts say.
“As ISIS returns to its original decentralized structure, members of the group are trying to show ISIS still poses a threat, even after the defeat of its caliphate and the recent death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” said Kaleigh Thomas, a Middle East researcher at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, using another acronym for IS.
Sadradeen Kinno, a Syrian researcher who closely follows Islamist militancy, echoed Thomas’ views.
“IS is now living a period of stability, so to speak. After the death of Baghdadi, their objective is clearer now. They try to stay focused on carrying out assassinations, ambushes and suicide attacks, and they have been successful at that,” he told VOA.
Kinno said IS “really believes in a recurrent cycle of violence, so for them the territorial defeat they experienced this year is just a phase of their ongoing jihad.”
U.S. President Donald Trump in October announced a withdrawal of troops from Syria, which was followed by a Turkish military offensive against U.S.-backed SDF fighters in northeast Syria.
Some experts say the U.S. troop pullout allowed IS to regroup, and thus its terror attacks have increased.
“The U.S. decision sent a signal to [IS] that the U.S. is not interested in a long-term presence in Syria,” said Azad Othman, a Syrian affairs analyst based in Irbil, Iraq.
IS “now feels that its low-level insurgency in Syria could be even more effective as long as the Americans don’t have a significant military presence in the country,” he told VOA.
The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency said in a report in November that “ISIS has exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent drawdown of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria to reconstitute its capabilities and resources both within Syria in the short term and globally in the longer term.”
“The withdrawal and redeployment of U.S. troops has also affected the fight against ISIS, which remains a threat in the region and globally,” Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general, said in the report.
But the U.S. has decided to keep about 500 troops to secure oil fields in Syria to prevent IS militants and the Syrian regime forces from accessing them. (VOA)