May 17, 2012
Significant Terrorism Events in the News: April 23, 2012- May 17, 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.
Germany- Pipe Bombs Discovered at May Day Protests
A potentially violent May Day was avoided in Berlin when three pipe bombs were discovered by authorities before they detonated. While May Day protests by leftist groups have become an annual tradition in Berlin, they have been relatively peaceful in the last few years. This year there were clashes between protestors and police, however German authorities believe that police may not have been the only target. The investigation into who is responsible for placing the bombs is ongoing.
France- Physicist, Adlene Hicheur, Sentenced to Five Years on Terrorism Charges
Algerian born, French citizen, Adlene Hicheur, was sentenced earlier this month on terrorism charges in a case dating back to 2008. A scientist at the world famous CERN laboratory, Mr. Hicheur came under suspicion for links to al-Qaida in 2008 and was arrested in 2009 after police retrieved emails between him and a suspected member of al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQLIM). Upon Mr. Hicheur’s arrest, Islamist literature was found in his and his family’s homes. While he admits to writing the incriminating emails, Mr. Hicheur maintains that he never took part in actively planning any attacks.
- BBC, "“France jails CERN physicist Adlene Hicheur for terror plot"
- Mirror, “The Hadron Al-Qaeda nuclear terror plotter jailed for five years”
Italy- Extreme Leftists use Bombs and Guns to Protest
Anarchists have claimed recent shootings and bombings targeting government offices and private industry. On May 12, two firebombs were thrown into the offices of Equitalia, Italy’s tax enforcement agency. This attack came after a gunman had taken hostages in the office a week earlier, and a series of letter bombs were sent to the agency in December 2011. The bombing attacks were claimed by Olga Nucleus of the Informal Anarchist Federation-International Revolutionary Front in protest of the austerity measures being implemented in the country. While the group did not claim the hostage taking, they did claim an attack on an executive of Finmeccanica, and aerospace and defense contractor. The executive was shot in the leg, but did not sustain any life threating injuries. The group has stated that it plans to continue attacks.
- Reuters, “Italy mulls using army to stem political violence”
- Reuters, “Fire Bombs Target Tax Office in Italy”
- Reuters, “Anarchists threaten Italy’s PM Monti"
- The Vancouver Sun, “Army may guard tax offices as unrest mounts”
United Kingdom- Large Car Bomb Defused Near Border with Northern Ireland
A large explosive device, with the potential to kill anyone within 50 meters of the blast, was defused near the border with Northern Ireland. British authorities say that the explosive device was contained in a van was and was viable at the time it was discovered and defused. Reports state that police were tipped off by a passing motorist who had noticed the abandoned vehicle. No group has claimed the bomb, but is suspected that anti-British dissidents are responsible.
- Associated Press, “Large can bomb defused on Northern Ireland border"
- Reuters, “Bomb defused in Northern Ireland would have caused devastation"
Spain- Government Refuses Talks with ETA
The ethno-nationalist armed group, ETA, has declared that it is ready to come to the table for talks with Spain and France to end the roughly 40-year conflict. In October 2011, ETA declared that it was putting an end to its ‘armed struggle’ for an independent state in a region spanning part of northern Spain and southern France. While this cease fire is one of many over the years, the group claims that they are denouncing violence with the hope of coming to a solution through political means. However, both Spain and France refuse to negotiate because they view ETA as a terrorist organization and both countries have a policy of not negotiating with terrorists. In fact, Spain has announced that the only communication with ETA it desired was for the group announce that it is fully disbanding.
- Agence France-Presse, “ETA announces team for ‘talks with France and Spain'"
- BBC, “Spain rejects ETA talks request and demands disbandment"
- Associated Press, “A glance at Basque militant group ETA, its goals”
- START, “Background Report, ETA Ceasefires by the Numbers”
This compilation of Significant Terrorism Events in the News was edited by START Researcher Jaime Shoemaker.