Islamic State claims responsibility for attack on Iraqi Embassy in Kabul

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for an attack on the Iraqi embassy in Kabul on Monday.

A suicide bomber blew himself up at the main gate of the embassy allowing three gunmen to enter the compound. This was followed by gunfire that lasted for several hours until about mid-afternoon when the Interior ministry announced that the Afghan security forces had killed all the assailants.

There were conflicting reports regarding the casualties of the assault with the Islamic State in their claim stating that seven guards were killed, whereas according to the official statement of the spokesman of the Interior ministry, Najib Danish, only one guard was injured and there were no fatalities among the security forces or the civilians. However, as reported by Hindustan Times, a witness at the spot claims to have seen the bodies of at least two dead policemen outside the embassy soon after the attack.

According to Iraqi Foreign ministry, during the gunfight, its top diplomat in Kabul was taken to the Egyptian embassy and eventually, all the embassy diplomats and employees were evacuated to safety.

This attack comes two weeks after a press conference was held at the embassy, where the concern was raised that the local IS affiliate might plan large scale attacks elsewhere to draw away attention from their defeat in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Sources – HT, BBC

Australian police find plans for elaborate IED in Sydney

Australian officials have arrested four men who were allegedly conspiring to bomb an airplane. The arrests took place in Sydney after raids were conducted on Saturday. Australian police forces raided five properties across Sydney after a home-made bomb was found on a terrace in the eastern suburb of Surry Hills. The police issued a statement regarding the intentions of the attackers, saying that the plot was inspired by Islamic radicalism.

While Australia has seen several attacks and foiled plots that were inspired by the Islamic State, this attempt deviated from the usual lone-wolf tactics that have characterised previous attacks. The group arrested on Saturday comprised of two middle-aged men and their adult sons, who were working on devising an elaborate Improvised Explosive Device(IED) with the aim of taking down a plane.

“The primary threat to Australia still remains lone actors, but the events overnight remind us that there is still the ability for people to have sophisticated plots and sophisticated attacks still remain a real threat,” said Justice Minister Michael Keenan. The operations have caused the implementation of revised boarding procedures at Australian airports. The measures include extra screening time and additional checks of both hand and checked baggage.

Sources: Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Federal Police

Iran says IS leader Baghdadi ‘definitely dead’

The Iranian State media has quoted Ali Shirazi, a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini, as saying Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was “definitely dead.”

According to a report by The Hindu, “Terrorist Baghdadi is definitely dead,” Islamic Republic News Agency (INRA) quoted Shirazi on June 29. Shirazi, a representative of the foreign branch of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Cops, known as the Quds force, ascertained that Baghdadi was dead without elaborating further. The Quds force is responsible for Iran’s extraterritorial operations.

Russia, on June 17, 2017, had surmised that their forces had killed the elusive IS leader in an air-strike in Syria. However, the US, on June 29, did not validate the reports citing lack of information on the matter. Iraqi officials have also been sceptical on the issue. It also is unclear whether Shirazi’s claim was related to the Russia.

Baghdadi has frequently been reported killed or wounded since he declared a caliphate to rule over all Muslims from a mosque in Mosul in 2014. The said declaration by Baghdadi came after IS fighters occupied large areas of northern Iraq.

 

Sources: Reuters, The News week, The Hindu

 

US to shell out $25 million for information on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

In yet another announcement regarding tackling the Islamic State menace, United States promises to pay $25 million as a reward for information about Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Friday. The reward amount promised is more than twice the amount ($10 million) announced in October 2011.

The US State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program announced the increase as they believe that Baghdadi poses a major threat to the world peace and security. This is an attempt to seek information that will help the US authorities to identify, search and arrest the head of the terror group. The rise in the number of conflicts in West Asia is the major reason United States is desperately seeking him.

The current location of Baghdadi is unclear. However, speculations are rife that he is either near the Syrian border or into a hiding in Mosul, Iraq. Baghdadi is an Iraqi whose real name is Ibrahim al-Samarrai had declared himself the Caliph of the Syrian region under the Islamic State.

Kurdish officials believe that the convict and his top lieutenants are into hiding as there is a growing pressure from military coalition assault that took place in the city of Mosul.

 

SOURCE: Scroll.in, DNA

IMAGE SOURCE: Reuters

Germany arrests three Syrian men on ISIS involvement

The German police have arrested three Syrian men on the suspicion of being sent by the Islamic state. The men have been identified as Mahir al-H, Ibrahim M and Mohamed. They were arrested after raids were conducted in the states of Schleswig- Holstein and Lower Saxony. From the raids items such as phones, hard drives and files used by alleged sleeper cell have been recovered.

There were a series of violent attacks in Germany last year. Out of which three were carried out by asylum seekers. Due to which, the German Chancellor Angela Markel put an upper limit of 20,000 refugees per year. The German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere, said that there could have been possible links between the arrested Syrian men and the people involved in the Paris attacks last year.

According to the Reuters, the men were dispatched to Germany in November 2015, either to carry out a mission that they had been informed about or wait for further instructions. The suspects travelled through Greece and Turkey before entering Germany, at the peak of the migrant crisis.

Sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-security-arrests-idUSKCN11J0RQ

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/13/suspected-isis-operatives-arrested-germany-refugee-shelters

The United States and Russia reach agreement over Syrian ceasefire

 

A tentative cease-fire deal has been agreed between the United States of America and Russia, in the hopes of liberating Syria from oppression by the Islamic State and several other extremist militant groups. Thirteen hours of discussion between representatives of the two countries in Geneva culminated in a successful deal, announced by the US Secretary of State John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov, Kerry’s counterpart.

The nations involved in this deal were careful to be vague about the future of relations between the countries, with John Kerry going so far as to state that “No one is building this based on trust. It is based on oversight, compliance, mutual interest. This is an opportunity, and not more than that until it becomes a reality.” The deal has been met with approval from Syria’s mainstream opposition, and the High Negotiations Committee of Syria has said that it will welcome the deal “if it is going to be enforced”.

Syria plans to begin the seven-day ceasefire on Monday, which coincides with the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. Syrian government forces will halt air-strikes in rebel-held areas of Syria and will allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to rebels inside Aleppo, while rebels will cease their fighting and will stay clear of government areas. If the ceasefire is successful, Russia and the US will begin airstrikes against regions occupied by the Islamic State and al-Nusra front.

Blasts in Baghdad claim 4 lives

Explosions at a weapons storage on Friday in eastern Baghdad, set off rockets, which took the lives of at least four people.

Rockets which were fired accidentally from the storage facility, struck several cars and residences at different locations. Among these was also a flour factory, which blazed for two hours after the initial impact.

The released video footage showed a large plume of smoke getting out of the depot located near Baghdad’s Obaidi Shia neighbourhood. A colossal shockwave was also followed by the blast.

The weapons storage belonged to one of the Shi’ite paramilitary groups of the Popular Mobilisation Force (PMF) , a police officer told Reuters. It had a significant role in freeing the IS-held cities of Fallujah and others. The PMF was a reaction to the growing terror of the Islamic State,which captured large areas of the north of the country in 2014.

Also, a huge crater of almost 5 meters deep and 20 meters wide was seen in the footage of the blast site.

Sources: Reuters , IB Times