July 17, 2012
Significant Terrorist Events in the News: June 19- July 16, 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.
Mali: World Heritage sites damaged or destroyed in Timbuktu
Local Islamists, currently in control of the region, have attacked Sunni tombs in Timbuktu to protest the practice of worshipping at the tombs of Muslim saints. In the aftermath, the Islamists left behind damage and destruction of these ancient sites. Ansar Dine, an al-Qaida linked group, claimed responsibility for the attacks. Members of Ansar Dine used explosives, chisels, hoes and other tools to damage the shrines. While a number of the shrines have already been damaged, Ansar Dine has made it clear that it plans destroy all 16, as they believe that it is “un-Islamic” to worship at these shrines. Reports suggest that regardless of the condemnation of the groups by the international community, the destruction is likely to continue.
- BBC, "Tombs in Timbuktu's Djingareyber mosque 'destroyed'," July 10, 2012.
- New York Times, "Mali's Tomb Raiders," July 8, 2012.
- Washington Post, "Timbuktu's cultural heritage sites are under attack," July 5, 2012.
China: Attempted hijacking in Xinjiang leads to tighter security at airports
On June 29, 2012, six passengers on a flight out of Hotan announced that they were taking over the plane. It has been reported by the New York Times that the perpetrators broke down crutches and used them in their attempt to enter the cockpit. Passengers, police and crew members on the Tianjin Airlines fight, fought to subdue the would-be hijackers. The perpetrators were unable to take control of the aircraft and were arrested upon landing. According to some sources, at least 10 people were injured in the process. While China has a very good record in terms of airport security, as reported by the New York Times, the recent hijacking attempt in Xinjiang has led to an increase in security measures. In response to this attack, China will now require that passengers show official hospital documentation in order to take crutches onboard any flight.
- The Wall Street Journal, "Passengers Foil Hijacking Attempt in China," June 29, 2012.
- Reuters, "Chinese airline passengers 'help foil hijack attempt' in Xinjiang region," June 29, 2012.
- New York Times, "After Reports of Hijacking Attempt, China Tightens Airport Security," July 5, 2012.
Mexico: Pre-election car bomb outside City Hall in Nuevo Laredo
Just days before the polls opened for Mexico’s presidential election, a car bomb was detonated outside of City Hall in Nuevo Laredo. The explosion wounded seven civilians, destroyed 11 cars, damaged City Hall and blew out the windows of many nearby buildings. The closely watched elections drew a lot of international attention due to the escalating levels of violence in the country despite President Calderon’s declared “war” on the drug trafficking organizations.
- Reuters, "Bomb Explodes in Mexican City Days Before Election," June 29, 2012.
- Associated Press, "Explosion wounds 7 in Mexico border city," June 29, 2012.
- El Universal, "Deja 7 heridos coche-bomba en Nuevo Laredo," June 30, 2012.
India: Suspected organizer of the 2008 Mumbai attacks arrested
One of the suspected organizers of the November 2008 coordinated attacks in Mumbai has been arrested by Indian police. The attacks, reported to have been claimed by the group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), lasted three days and left more than 150 civilians dead. Indian police believe that Syed Zabiuddin (a.k.a. Abu Jindal or Abu Hamza) trained those who carried out the violence on how to blend into Mumbai and speak Hindi. The outcome of ongoing interrogations is yet to be reported.
- Associated Press, "Police arrest local organizer in 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai by Pakistani gunmen," June 25, 2012.
- The Telegraph, "Mumbai terror attack organizer arrested," June 25, 2012.
Egypt: Bedouins kidnap tourists and promise to continue doing so
A Bedouin, Jirmy Abu-Masuh, held two U.S. citizens hostage in the Sinai region of Egypt and vowed to continue to take hostages until his uncle was released from prison. The two tourists (Michel Louis and Lisa Alphonse) and their guide were taken from their tour bus on or about Friday, July 13, and were reportedly being treated very well. Despite claims by their captor to kill them if there was any attempt to arrest him, all three were released on July 16. Abu-Masuh claims to have released his hostages after local authorities promised to work on his uncle’s case.
This region of Egypt, only loosely controlled in the past, has become progressively more lawless since the overturning of Mubarak’s government. This incident brings the total number of U.S. tourists kidnapped in the region this year to six. There have been demands in previous kidnappings for the release of family or tribe members. For more information on previous kidnappings, "click here,".
- Associated Press, "2 Americans, Egyptian guide, kidnapped by Bedouin in Sinai are freed," July 16, 2012.
- ABC News, "Egyptian kidnapper threatens to kill two American hostages if arrested," July 15, 2012.
- Associated Press, "Egypt captor holding two vows more abductions," July 13, 2012.
This compilation of Significant Terrorism Events in the News was edited by START Researcher Jaime Shoemaker.