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Significant Terrorism Events in the News: September 2013

START's Significant Terrorism Events in the News is designed to give a brief overview of the past month's 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.

Syria: Fighters leave Free Syrian Army, join Al Nusrah Front

Hundreds of fighters have reportedly left the Free Syrian Army and joined forces with the al-Qaida-linked Al Nusrah Front. Some of these fighters came from two brigades of the Free Syrian Army that operated in Raqqah province, the Raqqah Revolutionaries Brigade and the God’s Victory Brigade.

The two brigades had been part of the Raqqah Military Council, which acted to try and counter al-Qaida’s influence in the area. Sources state that clashes between Islamist groups and more moderate opposition forces have intensified and grown more frequent, especially along Syria’s northern and eastern borders. Sources go on to state that while some clashes stem from contrasting ideologies, most fighting is territorial in nature.

Pakistan: Church bombing kills at least 75

At least 75 people were killed and more than 120 people were wounded in a suicide attack on All Saints Church in Peshawar. The attack occurred as worshipers left the historic church after service and went to receive food on the lawn. This was the deadliest attack on the Pakistani Christian minority in years and coincided with other attacks on religious minorities, including Shiite Muslims.

The Jundullah branch of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack, stating that they would continue to target non-Muslims until the United States stopped drone attacks in Pakistan’s tribal regions. Christians make up only about 4 percent of Pakistan’s population, and are said to often keep a low profile in the country due to attacks such as this.

United States of America: Former FBI Agent to plead guilty to leaking classified information

Donald J. Sachtleben, a former FBI bomb technician, has agreed to plead guilty to disclosing national defense information to the Associated Press. Sachtleben reportedly told the news agency about the CIA foiling an al-Qaida bomb plot that would have taken place in May of 2012, around the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death.

Sachtleben also reportedly told the AP that the United States had recovered an explosive device during the investigation, and that it was being examined at Quantico, where Sachtleben sometimes worked. Deputy Attorney General James Cole stated that this breach severely jeopardized national security. Sachtleben has agreed to serve a 43-month sentence, as well as 97 months on two child pornography offenses to which he had already pleaded guilty. Sachtleben had worked for the FBI from 1983 through 2008, working on such cases as the Oklahoma City bombing, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Unabomber attacks, and the attacks of September 11, 2001, among others.

This compilation of Significant Terrorism Events in the News was edited by START Researcher Katharine Sobotka.