February 21, 2012
Significant Terrorism Events in the News: Jan. 24 - Feb. 20, 2012
START's Significant Terrorism Events in the News is designed to give a brief overview of the past month's most significant developments in terms of terrorism and counterterrorism. The cases were selected based on visibility in the news and regional diversity. The articles selected are intended to be a sample of current events regarding terrorism around the world and not a definitive list.
United States: Idaho man pleads not guilty to charges of attempted assassination of Obama
Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to charges resulting from an incident on Nov. 11, 2011. Authorities believe that Ortega-Hernandez used an assault rifle to shoot at the White House from a vehicle. A bullet hole was discovered in a window of the building, however President Barack Obama and his family were not home at the time. Ortega-Hernandez is reported to have very strong anti-Obama sentiments and it is believed that was the motive behind the shooting.
Somalia: Al-Shabaab publicly commits to al-Qaida using Twitter
Utilizing the expansive reach of social media, armed Somali militant group, al-Shabaab, has declared its’ loyalty and commitment to al-Qaida via Twitter. In the past the two groups supported each other but remained separate entities with independent leadership. However, al-Shabaab now has posted videos and photos formally declaring allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, who assumed leadership of al-Qaida after the death of Osama bin Laden. While the causes and consequences of this joining remain unclear, there is the potential for both groups to benefit from the merger.
United Kingdom: Controversy sparked when radial cleric is released on bail
Earlier this month Abu Qatada was released on bail from a U.K. jail pending deportation procedures to Jordan. Abu Qatada has been called a spiritual leader for al-Qaida in Europe and is linked to the 9/11 hijackers through recordings of Qatada’s teachings found among the hijacker’s possessions. Abu Qatada has been convicted twice in absentia in Jordan and is currently awaiting deportation to that country. His deportation has been delayed due to humanitarian law in the U.K. preventing the deportation of individuals when there is a risk they may be tortured.
Egypt: Multiple kidnappings of foreigners in the Sinai region
A series of kidnappings occurred in the Sinai region of Egypt in the last month. Bedouin tribesmen first kidnapped 25 Chinese workers, then two American tourists, then three Korean women. The ransom demanded was the release of relatives from local jails. While it is not clear if the foreigners were kidnapped by the same tribe, all three events were resolved peacefully and quickly.
Philippines: Leader of violent Islamist group killed
Umbra Jumdail, a commander for Abu Sayyaf, was killed in a recent airstrike. Abu Sayyaf is an al-Qaida-linked group known for their use of violence and has carried out attacks such as the 2004 ferry bombing in Manila Bay which killed 116 people. While it was initially reported that two other key members of the organization were also killed in the attack, it has subsequently been revealed that they were not in the area at the time of the strike.
This compilation of Significant Terrorism Events in the News was edited by START Researcher Jaime Shoemaker.