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.
Pakistan: Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) posts job openings on Facebook
Attempting to take advantage of the expansive reach of social media, the TTP posted job openings on its Facebook page recently. Facebook shut down the designated foreign terrorist organization's account within a few weeks stating that, "we have rules that bar direct statements of hate, attacks on private individuals and groups, and the promotion of terrorism." According to the Los Angeles Times, the page had almost 300 "likes" before it was shut down.
The jobs being advertised centered around a new quarterly magazine the group is developing called Ahyah-e-Khilafat (Sign of the Caliphate). Job postings included positions such as "writer for jihadi current affairs" and "video editor," according to the Washington Post.
- Los Angeles Times, "Pakistani Taliban now on Facebook," Dec. 7, 2012.
- Washington Post, "Facebook shuts down Taliban recruiting account," Dec. 10, 2012.
- Agence France Presse, "Facebook Removes Taliban Recruitment Page," Dec. 12, 2012.
International: Shiites targeted during holy holiday, Ashura
Bombings in Pakistan, Yemen and Iraq mark a pattern of attacks against Shiites during the holy holiday of Ashura. Ashura is a holiday marking the death of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Hussein, during the Battle of Karbala in the 7th century. This year, it occurred in late November. In one of the most notable events, approximately 28 people were killed in a double bombing in Hilla, Iraq, according to the BBC. In Pakistan, a remotely detonated bomb killed at least seven people and wounded an additional 30 in Dera Ismail Khan, according to the New York Times.
This is not the first year there has been violence during Ashura. In 2011, the holiday fell at beginning of December. There were numerous attacks about that time in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, including one attack in which 16 Shi'ite pilgrims were killed and 45 others were wounded.
- BBC, "Pakistan bomb kills children near Shia procession," Nov. 24, 2012.
- New York Times, "Roadside Bomb Kills at Least 7 in Pakistan," Nov. 24, 2012.
- Reuters, "Bomb kills 4 Yemenis marking Shi'ite Muslim Ashura Festival," Nov. 24, 2012.
- BBC, "Bombings kill Shias in Iraq cities Hilla and Karbala," Nov. 29, 2012.
- Encyclopedia Britannica, "Ashura."
Thailand: Prime Minister visits southern region after attacks kill infant, school personnel
On Dec. 11, two attacks in different southern provinces killed at least seven people including teachers and an 11-month-old girl. The first attack occurred in Narathiwat province where unnamed gunmen opened fire on a tea shop in a drive-by shooting. The shop was owned by a government official, which might have been why it was targeted, according to the Associated Press. Later that same day, unknown individuals gunned down a head mistress and a teacher in Pattani province.
In response to these attacks, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra visited the region. Upon his arrival, unsigned pamphlets were distributed promising more attacks against educators in the area. There has been a call for increased security for schools and educators in the predominantly Muslim region, as they have been consistently targeted since 2004.
- Reuters, "Thai PM Visits Violence-Torn South After Deadly Attacks," Dec. 13, 2012.
- Associated Press, "Baby Among 7 Dead in Southern Thailand Attacks," Dec. 11, 2012.
- Agence France Presse, "Thailand militants vow more attacks on teachers," Dec. 14, 2012.
Syria: New name for al-Qaida group receives spot of US foreign terrorist organization list
Al-Nusrah Front, a group currently claiming responsibility for attacks in Syria, is now officially designated by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). While some media sources have described the group as being related to/or a branch of al-Qaida in Iraq, the State Department has listed al-Nusrah Front as an alias for al-Qaida in Iraq. According to the U.S. State Department, Al-Nusrah Front (also known as al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant) has claimed hundreds of attacks in Syria since November 2011.
The official FTO designation means there is a "prohibition against knowingly providing, or attempting or conspiring to provide, material support or resources to, or engaging in transactions with, al-Nusrah Front, and the freezing of all property and interests in property of the organization that are in the United States, or come within the United States or the control of U.S. persons." (U.S. State Department)
- New York Times, "US Places Militant Syrian Rebel Group on List of Terrorism Organizations," Dec. 10, 2012.
- CNN, "US blacklists al-Nusra Front fighters in Syria," Dec. 11, 2012.
- U.S. Department of State, "Terrorist Designations for the al-Nusrah Front as an Alias for al-Qaida in Iraq," Dec. 11, 2012.
- Guardian, "US blacklists Syria's al-Nusra Front as terrorist group," Dec. 11, 2012.