Weekly News 27th February – 3rd March
Monday 27th February
Egypt: Daesh claimed responsibility on Monday for a foiled bomb attack on an Algerian police station one day earlier, the group’s AMAQ news agency reported. “An operation of martyrdom using an explosive in a bag by a DAESH fighter yesterday targeted an Algerian police station in the Constantine city center,” AMAQ said. The militant was shot before he could enter the station, state news reported. (The Daily Star)
Italy: The intelligence services’ annual report to Parliament said Monday that there was an increasingly acute risk that individuals “radicalized at home” could opt to “conduct the jihad directly on Italian territory” rather than head to Syria or Iraq. It said Italy faced a “pronounced exposition… to the challenges represented by jihadist terrorism”. It added that the large-scale arrival of asylum seekers could “stress the foreign communities present in our country” and lead to “possible criminal and radical Islamic deviations stemming from resentment over betrayed expectations and displeasure at the conditions of hardship in the host country”. The Annual report can be found at the following link: http://www.sicurezzanazionale.gov.it/sisr.nsf/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/relazione-2016.pdf (Ansa)
War on Terror: One of al-Qaida’s most senior leaders has been killed by a US drone strike in north-west Syria. Abu al-Khayr al-Masri – who has been part of the global jihadi organisation for three decades and was a son-in-law of its founder, Osama bin Laden – was killed on Sunday when a missile fired from a drone hit the small car in which he was travelling. On Monday, the Pentagon confirmed it had carried out a strike in north-west Syria, but did not say whom the attack had targeted. Jabhat Fatah al-Sham acknowledged the death, as did individual jihadi leaders. Hisham al-Hashimi, a Baghdad-based writer on Islamic groups, said Masri’s death was a serious blow to al-Qaida. (The Guardian)
Tuesday 28th February
Egypt: Egypt’s Parliament on Monday expelled one of its few dissenting lawmakers, the scion of a storied political family, having accused him of leaking sensitive information to Western diplomats.
The expulsion of the lawmaker, Anwar Sadat, nephew and namesake of a president assassinated nearly four decades ago, was supported by 468 of Parliament’s 596 members. Eight voted in his favor.
The move had the practical effect of further enfeebling the opposition to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Parliament. Mr. Sadat’s expulsion highlighted the lopsided balance of parliamentary power favoring the president and his security forces, which exert great influence through a deep bench of pliant and conspiracy-minded politicians. (New York Times)
Italy: Today has hold the first meeting of the Democratic and Progressive Movement (MdP) in the Chamber of Deputies. The group is made up of 37 former deputies of PD and Sel parties. The meeting was opened by Roberto Speranza who proposed as the leader of the new party Francesco Laforgia, elected unanimously. (ANSA)
Libya: Unicef says women and children making the dangerous journey to Europe to flee poverty and conflicts in Africa are being beaten, raped and starved in Libya. In the study conducted by the United Nations children’s agency (A Deadly Journey for Children (pdf)), it has stated that children are being sexually abused, coerced into prostitution and work, and held to ransom for months in the unofficial detention centres controlled by militia. Some 34 detention centres have been identified in Libya, holding between 4,000 and 7,000 detainees, of which 24 are run by the Libyan government department for combating illegal migration (DCIM). Unicef, which only has access to fewer than half of the government-run centres and none of those run by militia, reported some had 20 people crammed into cells not larger than two square metres for long periods of time, it said. (The Guardian)
Turkey: President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has increased his measure against the press freedom and he has also raised the intimidation of critical journalists as a systematic means of his government. The Die Welt correspondent Deniz Yücel, with german passport, was accused of “propaganda for a terrorist organization” and the “incitement of the population” and taken into police custody. On Monday, a prosecutor applied for an examination for Yücel and in the evening it has been decided for his detention in turkish prisons. (Die Welt)
Wednesday 1st March
Germany: The German government said Wednesday that it would do “what it could” to help the parents of an Italian victim who died in a December terror attack on a Berlin Christmas market that left 12 people dead and 56 others injured. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert made the statement in a press conference in the German capital in response to a question about the difficulties that Fabrizia Di Lorenzo’s parents were facing to receive compensation for their loss. Seibert said that a wide range of options were available. (Ansa)
Syria: Russia and China have vetoed a UN Security Council resolution backed by Western powers that would have imposed sanctions on Syria over the alleged use of chemical weapons by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Drafted by Britain, France and the United States, the measure on Tuesday won nine votes in favour, while three countries – China, Russia and Bolivia – opposed it.
Kazakhstan, Ethiopia and Egypt abstained. (Al Jazeera)
War on Terror: Employees of the Federal Security Service (FSB) detained an DAESH militant who was preparing a terrorist attack against security forces in the Samara region, Russia. The detainee said that he planned to attack a police vehicle, seize their weapons and “continue their terrorist acts”. He was found using household chemicals explosive capacity to 500 g in a trotyl equivalent, a homemade detonator and “striking elements” — metal balls. According to the source, the detainee “is a convert Muslim” who “was recruited through the online emissaries” of DAESH. (Asharq Al-Awsaat)
Thursday 2nd March
Brexit: Peers who backed an amendment to the Brexit bill to guarantee the rights of EU citizens have urged Conservative MPs in the House of Commons to support the change when the bill returns.
Theresa May’s government has vowed to overturn a demand by the House of Lords to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK within three months of article 50 being triggered. Ministers were said to be disappointed by a heavy defeat in which peers voted 358 to 256 in favour of amending the Brexit bill, but made clear their position would not change on the issue. (The Guardian)
France: France’s embattled center-right presidential candidate, François Fillon, defiantly vowed on Wednesday to stay in the race, even as he announced that he would be formally charged in a widening embezzlement investigation.
Mr. Fillon’s announcement, made at a news conference, added another element of uncertainty to an already unsettled campaign and increased the likelihood that France’s presidential race would be fought by two candidates from neither of the traditional mainstream parties.
With formal charges looming that Mr. Fillon paid his wife and children hundreds of thousands of euros from the public payroll for little or no work, most analysts consider his chances of making it past the first round on April 23 in France’s two-round election to be diminished. (The New York Times)
War on Terror: An offshoot of the Daesh group based near the Afghan-Pakistan border is expanding to new areas, recruiting fighters and widening the reach of attacks in the region, members of the movement and Afghan officials said.
Some members of the so-called “Khorasan Province” of DAESH, claimed responsibility for the recent attack on a Sufi shrine in Pakistan that killed 90 people, and Daesh gunmen were blamed for the deaths of six local aid workers in the north of the country, far from their stronghold in eastern Afghanistan. (Al Jazeera)
Friday 3rd March
France: The mayor of Calais has banned the distribution of food to migrants as part of a campaign to prevent the establishment of a new refugee camp as hundreds of people return to the port three months after the original one was demolished. Natacha Bouchart, from the centre-right Les Républicains party, said she would implement policies “to prevent the distribution of meals to migrants”, and legal documents setting out the restrictions were put up in the vicinity of the camp on Thursday. Officials have already obstructed attempts by local charities to open showers for teenage migrants in the town. Food distribution volunteers said they had been forced to do so in secret because of a heightened police presence. Refugee charities said they would ignore the ban but were taking legal advice. (The Guardian)
Iraq: An Iraqi military commander says forces have taken control of another neighborhood in western Mosul. Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, spokesman of the Joint Military Operations Command, tells The Associated Press Friday that despite bad weather, Iraqi special operations forces have completely retaken the Wadi Hajjar area from DAESH militants. However, commanders on the ground say that clearing operations are still continuing. Wadi Hajjar lies just northwest of the city’s international airport. (The Daily Star)
Turkey: Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Germany of double standards on Friday after a southern German town did not allow its justice minister to attend a meeting and give a campaign speech. Cavusoglu said Ankara would not be “intimidated.” Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag was scheduled on Thursday to speak to supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to rally support behind an April referendum to dramatically expand the powers of the presidency. Germany’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday it was not involved in the decision to cancel the speech, adding that it was reached by local authorities. A bomb threat was phoned in to the Gaggenau town hall on Friday after the canceled speech. (Deutsche Welle)