August 30, 2012
Significant Terrorism Events in the News: July 18- Aug. 15, 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.
Colombia: Attack on pipelines wreak havoc on oil supply and nearby towns
Members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) blew up part of the Caño Limon-Coveñas oil pipeline in the Boyaca province around July 22, 2012. They are also suspected of blowing up another pipeline in Narino, near the city of Tumaco on Aug. 19, 2012.
Not only did the first explosion shut down crude oil supply, it also caused oil to spill into the local river system. Residents were warned against using water from the La Blanquita creek. That creek flows into a major river system and authorities had to shut down two of the aqueducts. Environmentalists have expressed concern about the impact the spill will have on the area, potentially causing a shortage of fish and disruptions in river transport. This was the second major attack in Columbia in recent weeks, and according to Reuters it is one of 67 attacks on oil pipelines in Colombia since January.
As a result of the explosion in Narino,residents in Tumaco protested against the rebels. In addition to the bombing of the pipeline, FARC has consistently targeted the electricity grid in recent months. Repairs to the grid have been hindered by booby-traps set by members of the rebel group. Residents of Tumaco are increasingly frustrated with the disruptions to the electrical infrastructure. There are also concerns about the environmental impact of this attack, and according to the mayor steps have been taken to mitigate the risk of contamination.
- United Press International, “Colombian oil supplies hit by FARC attack,” July 23, 2012.
- Fox News Latino, “FARC attack halts Colombian pipeline operation, causes crude spill,” July 22, 2012.
- Reuters, “Colombian rebels blow up Cano Limon oil pipeline,” July 22, 2012.
- BBC, “Colombian ‘Farc rebels’ blow up oil pipeline in Narino,” Aug. 19, 2012.
- Fox News Latino, “Guerrillas attack pipeline in Colombia,” Aug. 20, 2012.
Yemen: At least 45 killed in attack on funeral, six arrested
A suicide bomber targeted a funeral wake in the city of Jaar in southern Yemen. At least 45 people were killed in the attack and dozens more were wounded. Authorities believe that the attack targeted a local pro-government militia that fought alongside the Yemeni army in the battle to take Jaar out of the control of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The leader of local militia was among those injured in the attack. It is unclear if AQAP carried out the attack or if a branch of the organization, Ansar al-Sharia, is responsible. Within a day or two after the attack, six suspected members of Ansar al-Sharia were arrested in Jaar. Authorities found explosives and materials used to make suicide bombs in the building where the individuals were apprehended. There is no information on the current status of those individuals or their exact role in the attack.
- Associated Press, “Toll of Suicide Attack Rises to 45 in Yemen,” Aug. 5, 2012.
- Reuters in Aden, “Yemen suicide bombing kills 45 at village funeral,” Aug. 5, 2012.
- The Daily Times, “Yemen seizes six militants in suicide bomb town,” Aug. 7, 2012.
- BBC News, “Profile: Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen,” March 17, 2012.
Syria: Free Syrian Army demands improvement in human rights in Iran
After kidnapping 48 Iranian pilgrims on Aug. 4, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has made a statement that it will release the hostages when the “Iranian government respected the human rights of ‘its own people’ and tried to help end the bloodshed in Syria.” This statement was made to the Voice of America’s Persian News Network but Deputy FSA Commander Colonel Malik al-Kurdi.
There is further debate over the identity of the pilgrims. Initially the Iranian government claimed that all of those kidnapped were religious pilgrims, while the FSA claimed that the hostages were members of the Revolutionary Guard on their way to assist Assad’s forces. Iran has denied these claims saying that some hostages are former members of the Revolutionary Guard, but they are currently retired and were on a religious pilgrimage.
- Voice of America, “Syrian Rebels State Terms for Freeing Iranians,” Aug. 16, 2012.
- The Times, “Iranian Revolutionary Guard generals among hostages seized by Syrian rebels,” Aug. 14, 2012.
- AFP, “Syria rebels say hostages are Iranian Guards,” Aug. 5, 2012.
Russia: Ramadan proves to be a violent month in Dagestan
The Muslim holiday of Ramadan has been tarnished by bombings and shootings in the region of Dagestan in Russia. On Aug. 18, eight people were injured when masked gunmen entered a mosque and opened fire on approximately 70 worshipers. The attack took place in the town of Khassavyurt. At the same mosque an explosive device detonated later the same day injuring an unspecified number of people. In another attack, on Aug. 19, at least seven police officers were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the funeral of another officer who had been gunned down the day before. At least 11 people were also wounded at the funeral. Dagestan is bordered by Georgia and Azerbaijan and is a predominately Muslim region. Within Russia, it borders Chechnya and is part of the North Caucasus.
- New York Times, “Bomber Kills 7 Officers in Russian Republic,” Aug. 19, 2012.
- Euronews, “Ramadan in Russia marred by killings,” Aug. 19, 2012.
- Reuters, “Eight die in Russian Caucasus bombing, mosque shooting,” Aug. 19, 2012.
- BBC News, “Mosque attack in Russia’s Dagestan leaves eight injured,” Aug. 18, 2012.
United States: Charges filed in Family Research Council shooting
Floyd Lee Corkins II has been officially charged with assault with the intent to kill and interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition. On Aug. 15, Corkins entered the Washington, D.C., offices of the Family Research Council, stated “I don’t like your politics,” and then took out a pistol he had been carrying in his backpack. Corkins shot a security guard, Leonard Reno Johnson, in the arm. That same guard managed to subdue Corkins until authorities arrived.
Corkins’ family has stated that he has “strong opinions with respect to those he believes do not treat homosexuals in a fair manner,” according to court documents. The Associated Press reports that he may have planned a second attack targeting the Traditional Values Coalition, another conservative organization. At his hearing, the judge ordered a psychiatric evaluation of Corkins.
- The Sacramento Bee, “Group: DC gunman may have targeted it, too,” Aug. 17, 2012.
- ABC News, “Family Research Council Shooting: FBI Details Heroism of Guard,” Aug. 16, 2012.
- Washington Post, “Floyd Lee Corkins charged in Family Research Council shooting,” Aug. 16, 2012.
- The Guardian, “Floyd Lee Corkins charged with assault in shooting at Family Research Council,” Aug. 16, 2012.
This compilation of Significant Terrorism Events in the News was edited by START Researcher Jaime Shoemaker.