A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Significant Terrorism Events in the News: Jan. 29-Feb 19, 2013

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.

Tunisia: Major political player assassinated outside of his home

Tunisian politician Chokri Belaid was assassinated on Feb. 6 in broad day light,sparking protests and strikes throughout the capital. A human rights lawyer and a secular opponent to the current ruling party, Belaid was seen as a "progressive political figure and was popular among unionists, civil society activists, intellectuals, and journalists" (Eurasia Review). He often criticized the government's handling of cases involving intimidation and violence by organized criminals and religious zealots.

According to the New York Times, extremist religious groups made public threats against him and it is believed that they may have been involved in his death. His assassination sparked political and social instability, and thousands have protested both for and against the current regime. No group has claimed responsibility for this attack.

Turkey: US Embassy target of suicide bombing

The United States Embassy complex in Ankara, Turkey was the target of a suicide bombing on Feb. 1, when Ecevit Sanli, member of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party, detonated his explosives near the complex's gate in the middle of the day. The bombing killed a security guard and wounded several others. The Revolutionary People's Liberation Party (Devrimici Halk Kurtulus Cephesi (DHKP/C)), a Marxist group, claimed responsibility for the attack.

While the Global Terrorism Database has attacks attributed to this organization dating back to 1994, it had been relatively quiet in recent years. The attack has reignited the debate in the United States about the levels of security at embassies around the world. According to The Seattle Times, the embassy at Ankara was one of many slated for a new compound in the future due to security concerns.

Colombia: Two German tourists continue to be held by members of ELN

Members of the National Liberation Army of Colombia (ELN) have held German tourists Uwe and Gunther Breuer hostage for a number of weeks and are demanding proof the two are not spies. ELN kidnapped the two brothers while they traveled through the country as part of a trip around the world. According to a statement by the group and published by the BBC, "in the weeks [the brothers] have been held, they have not been able to justify their presence in the area, and therefore [will be considered] intelligence agents?"

During the time ELN has held the Breuer brothers, at least seven other hostages have been released by the ELN. Videos have been made public showing that Uwe and Gunther are healthy, but no reports have been made on potential progress towards their release.