US To Indict Maduro For ‘Narco-Terrorism’

Maduro Accuses US Of Financing Mercenary 'Plot' Against Him
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro delivers a speech during a pro-government demonstration in Caracas on March 23, 2019. Juan BARRETO / AFP

 

The US Justice Department is planning to indict Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for “narco-terrorism,” US Senator Marco Rubio said on Thursday.

The Florida senator confirmed in a brief tweet US media reports that the department will unveil charges accusing the Venezuelan leader and other senior members of his government of conspiring with drug cartels.

AFP

Terrorism: AU Plans Deployment Of 3,000 Troops To Niger, Others

 

The African Union on Thursday that it expected to send a temporary deployment of 3,000 troops to West Africa’s Sahel region, where regional forces are struggling to respond to a nearly eight-year-old insurgency by armed Islamists. 

The decision was made at the African Union summit earlier this month, Smail Chergui, head of the AU’s Peace and Security Commission said, but the announcement was not made until a press conference Thursday.

“On the decision of the summit to work on deploying a force of 3,000 troops to help the Sahel countries degrade terrorist groups, I think this is a decision that we’ll be working on together with the G5 Sahel and ECOWAS,” Chergui said.

“I think this decision has been taken because as we see, as you can recognise yourself, the threat is expanding, it’s becoming more complex,” Chergui added.

G5 Sahel is a 5,000-member joint force already on the ground in the Sahel, and ECOWAS is the West African regional bloc.

A localised revolt that began in northern Mali in 2012 has spread to the centre of the country and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

Around 4,000 people died in the three countries last year, a fivefold increase over 2016, according to UN figures.

 ‘Humanitarian crisis’ 

The bloodshed has escalated despite the presence of a 13,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in Mali and rattled coastal countries to the south of the Sahel.

Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore said this week that the Sahel faced an “unprecedented humanitarian crisis”.

Final decisions from the AU summit have yet to be published, but diplomats have confirmed details of the proposed Sahel deployment.

“The summit decided to deploy about 3,000 troops for a period of six months to work with the countries of the Sahel to deal with the menace that they are facing,” Edward Xolisa Makaya, South Africa’s ambassador to the AU, told AFP.

“It’s just a sign or a show of solidarity with the people of the Sahel.”

South Africa took over as AU chair at the summit and plans and to host an extraordinary AU summit on security issues in May.

Makaya said he hoped the Sahel deployment would take place “during the course of the year”.

 ‘Not the right answer?’ 

But many details of the possible deployment have yet to be worked out.

Makaya said no countries had come forward to volunteer troops, and it was also unclear how the deployment would be financed.

“Of course the member states have been called upon to make offers and contributions, and they did, some member states did make offers during the discussions,” he said. “But we are not at liberty to mention their names now.”

Elissa Jobson, director of regional advocacy for the International Crisis Group think tank, was sceptical as to how effective an AU deployment would be.

“While it’s good to see that African Union leaders are showing real concern about the conflict in the Sahel and are moved to do something about it, the deployment of troops isn’t necessarily the right answer,” Jobson said.

The deployment would “have to be part of a well thought through political strategy that should also include dialogue with the jihadist groups in the region,” she added.

Thursday’s press conference took place as part of a meeting of AU and European leaders.

EU foreign minister Josep Borrell said at the press conference that an AU deployment to the Sahel would be “very much welcome”.

“I think we have enough logistical coordination capacity in order to manage all together,” he said.

AFP

Court Sentences Islamic Cleric To Prison Over Terrorism

 

An Israeli court Monday sentenced a firebrand Islamic cleric to 28 months in prison for incitement to terrorism in connection with deadly unrest at a Jerusalem holy site in 2017.

Raed Salah had been convicted by Haifa magistrates’ court of “incitement to terror” for “praising, sympathising or encouraging terrorism” in remarks made after attackers killed two policemen on the Haram al-Sharif mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

The deadly July 14, 2017 attack, at the Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem site, was carried out by perpetrators from his hometown of Umm al-Fahm.

His group, the radical northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, was outlawed in 2015 for incitement linked to the Jerusalem holy site.

Salah was also found guilty of “supporting an illegal organisation” in Facebook posts from 2015 and 2016, in which he called his supporters to commit “acts of violence or terrorism” while speaking in favour of his movement.

The Haifa court on Monday also noted that 61-year-old Salah made the criminal remarks on three separate occasions following the Jerusalem shooting.

The prosecution was quoted in the ruling as saying that Salah’s deeds “harmed the security of the state and its citizens,” and considering the preacher’s prominence, “have high potential to cause damage”.

Salah, an Arab Israeli, can appeal the sentence within 45 days, the court said.

His arrest in August 2017 followed his release from prison the previous January after serving a nine-month sentence on similar charges.

AFP

ECOWAS Mobilising Own Resources To Combat Terrorism, Says Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says ECOWAS member countries are mobilizing their own resources to combat the scourge of terrorism.

He said this on Saturday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at a High-Level meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on the State of Peace and Security in Africa during the 33rd AU Summit.

While commending the move he called for new strategies by the Union to effectively prevent, manage and resolve conflicts in the face of new challenges.

Speaking further, the president said Nigeria is proud to continue to serve as a strong contributor to the peace roles played by the regional bloc.

”In Burkina Faso, we (ECOWAS) pledged to mobilize one billion US dollars to address the challenges of insecurity in our region and the Sahel. In Guinea Bissau, ECOWAS successfully midwifed the general elections.

”Nigeria along with ECOWAS member states led in the restoration of democracy and peace in the Gambia,” he said, while welcoming the collaborative leadership of the AU with other Regional Economic Communities in resolving conflicts on the continent.

”Nigeria condemns, in the strongest terms, the perpetrators of terrorism in Libya, the Sahel, Lake Chad Basin, and parts of the Horn of Africa.

”We reiterate that efforts must continue to be pooled to mitigate this dreadful violence and secure the future of our continent,” he said.

On new strategies to resolve conflicts on the continent, the President said: ”The AU must strengthen its own capacity for mediation and develop an effective intervention roadmap.”

He added that more emphasis should be placed on promoting national dialogue, reconciliation and social cohesion in order to rally all actors towards sustainable peace.

Meanwhile, the president announced that Nigeria has fulfilled its financial obligations to the AU Peace Fund up to 2019, pledging to continue investing in peace and security on the continent.

He reminded the meeting that drawing from the Kigali and Johannesburg Assembly Decisions, the fund is structured for the internal peace support arrangements within the continent and not as resources to subsidise the mandate of the UN Security Council.

”In this regard, my delegation will always fervently contest attempts to make Africa subsidize the primary responsibility of the UN as clearly provided in it Charter,” he said.

President Buhari also welcomed the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to adopt the regional stabilisation strategy for the Lake Chad Basin and the renewal of mandates of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force.

He told the meeting that Nigeria was very encouraged by the resolution of the continent’s standing decision-making body for conflict prevention, management and resolution, on the Lake Chad Basin.

“We are hopeful that the Inter Water Basin Transfer Initiative for the recharging of the Lake Chad will address some of the drivers of terrorism, particularly the impact of climate change and inter-communal clashes over access to natural resources.

“We equally call on the Assembly to direct the full implementation of these AU-inspired initiatives,” he said.

Police Shoot Man Linked With London Stabbing

A file photo of police officers in London on October 19, 2019. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

British police on Sunday said they had shot a man in Streatham in south London after several people were stabbed in a suspected “terrorist-related” incident. 

“A man has been shot by armed officers in #Streatham,” London’s Metropolitan Police said on Twitter.

“At this stage, it is believed a number of people have been stabbed.

“The circumstances are being assessed; the incident has been declared as terrorist-related.”

It was not immediately clear what condition the man and those stabbed were in.

London’s Ambulance Service said it had “a number of resources” attending the incident on Streatham High Road in the largely residential neighbourhood.

Unverified footage posted to social media purporting to capture some of the incident showed armed police officers surrounding a man lying on the ground on Streatham High Road.

They then abruptly moved away, urging onlookers to move back, as other emergency vehicles arrived at the scene.

Britain has seen a spate of terrorist attacks in recent years.

In the most recent incident on November 29, 2019, convicted terrorist Usman Khan killed two people before being shot dead by police on London Bridge.

AFP

Buhari Calls For End To ‘Tit-For-Tat Violence’ In Plateau

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the fresh attack on Kwatas village in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State which resulted in the death of 13 persons.

He also sent condolences to families of the victims, government, and people of the state and urged security agencies on assignment in the state to rediscover their act and “stop the return of the ugly days of tit-for-tat.”

READ ALSO: 13 Killed In Fresh Plateau Attack

This was disclosed in a statement signed on Monday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

President Buhari said further that “revenge, hatred and violent attacks should have no place in a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious society as we have in Nigeria.

“In Plateau State, gunmen launched yet another bloody attack, killing innocent citizens. This shocking and sad incident should be condemned by all citizens.”

Buhari also called on community and religious leaders to counsel the youths on the need for peaceful co-existence and assured that terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and associated crimes will be defeated.

89 Soldiers Killed As Terrorists Attack Niger Military Camp

 

A jihadist attack on a military camp in western Niger three days ago left 89 soldiers dead, according to a new toll announced by the government on public radio Sunday.

“After a thorough search, the toll has been established as 89 dead among friendly forces, and 77 dead for the enemy,” said spokesman Zakaria Abdourahame.

Three days of national mourning have been declared to honour the dead.

The previous toll given for Thursday’s attack on the Chinegodar camp was 25 soldiers killed.

Heavily armed assailants had stormed the military base in an area where dozens also died in a previous jihadist attack.

The raid near to the volatile frontier with Mali was carried out by attackers in vehicles and on motorbikes.

The attack happened in the same region Tillaberi, also bordering Burkina Faso, where 71 Niger soldiers were killed in a December attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, that saw hundreds of jihadists storm a camp near the border with Mali with artillery.

The latest attack is the deadliest on Niger’s military since Islamist extremist violence began to spill over from neighbouring Mali in 2015.

The December attack spurred leaders of the G5 Sahel nations to call for closer cooperation and international support in the battle against the Islamist threat.

Militant violence has spread across the vast Sahel region, especially in Burkina Faso and Niger, having started when armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012.

Thousands of civilians have also died and more than a million have been forced to flee their homes since the jihadist revolt began.

Analysts note an escalation in the jihadists’ operational tactics, which seem to have become bolder and more complex in recent months.

Ranged against them are the impoverished armies of Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, plus a 4,500-man French force in the Sahel and the 13,000-man UN force in Mali, MINUSMA.

The Sahel region of Africa lies to the south of the Sahara Desert and stretches across the breadth of the African continent.

AFP

Nigeria Can’t Win Terrorism War Without Tackling Poverty, Illiteracy – Atiku

A file photo of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has highlighted poverty and illiteracy as parts of the major challenges Nigeria must tackle urgently.

Following his repeated calls on the Federal Government to give special attention to the menace, Atiku believes this would go a long way in addressing the issue of insecurity and other problems bevelling the nation.

In his New Year message on Tuesday, the elder statesman observed that the rate of insecurity would reduce in the country if poverty was addressed, with a special focus on the war against insurgency in the North East.

“The problems of extreme poverty and scant investments in education play huge roles in fuelling the problems of violent extremism that we spent the past decade contending with.

“We cannot win the fight against terrorism if we do nothing to reduce or eliminate poverty and illiteracy.

“The reality of this new decade requires us to recalibrate our approaches and to pursue some tough choices. If failure is not an option, then we must let go of our egos and conveniences,” the PDP candidate said.

According to him, the New Year will require Nigerians to stay together more than ever before to take on, head front, the common enemy of insecurity.

Atiku said he does not share what he described as the sentiment that the outgone 2019 was a successful year for Nigerians.

He stated, “The bitter truth is that Nigeria is still in the throes of economic instability, with more people losing jobs and the attendant outcome of more children being out of school and more families having hard time in accessing basic needs of life.”

The former vice president, therefore, called on the Muhammadu Buhari administration to review its economic policies and improve the situation.

He also stressed the need for a deliberate effort to improve the material wellbeing of the people by lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty into prosperity.

Terrorism Is Greatest Challenge Facing ECOWAS, Says Buhari

President Buhari with Togo President, Faure Gnassingbe, Burkina Faso President , Roch Marc Kabore, Guinea Conakry President, Alpha Conde and Gambia President, Adama Barrow during the 55th Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS in Abuja on 21st Dec 2019. Credit: STATE HOUSE

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is confronted with the greatest challenge of terrorism.

Buhari made this known on Saturday during the 56th Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Authority of Heads of state and Government in Abuja.

He also lamented the recent killing of about 70 military personnel by terrorists in neighbouring Niger Republic.

READ ALSO: President Buhari Joins Other African Leaders For ECOWAS Session Today

The Nigerian leader also reiterated his administration’s commitment in developing initiatives for inclusive economic growth among the people of the region.

Participants at the session included the President of the ECOWAS commission, Jean-claude Kassi Brou, the Chairman of the Authority and President of Niger Republic Issoufou Mahamadou.

Others were former Head of State Yakubu Gowon, President of the African Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina as well as the Representative of the United Nations’ Secretary General, Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

South African Court Dismisses Henry Okah’s Suit Challenging His Terrorism Conviction

 

A Pretoria High Court has dismissed with costs, Henry Okah’s application challenging his trial and conviction on 13 counts of terrorism-related activities.

The leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 24 years in jail for the 2010 bombings in Abuja and Warri which left about three people dead.

In his ruling, Judge Moses Mavundla noted that it is a common cause that the applicant has already taken his conviction on appeal to both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.

He agreed with the submission of the respondents that the general principle is that a convicted and sentenced person cannot appeal against it more than once.

RELATED: Henry Okah Challenges His Prosecution, Trial In South Africa

In his view, a decision contrary to that general principle will lead to a chaotic judicial situation.

On the challenge of jurisdiction, he noted that the applicant had pleaded not guilty and exercised his rights to silence.  As such, in the absence of a Lack of Jurisdiction plea, it is deemed that the court has jurisdiction.

Judge Mavundla ordered the applicant to pay the taxes and allowed costs for the first, second and third respondents, (The State, The Director of Public Prosecutions and the Minister of Police).

Mr Okah, who spoke to Channels Television, said he is fighting on.

In November 2017, Okah challenged the trial and conviction at the South African Constitutional Court, which he lost.

Justice Edwin Cameron ruled that the trial under the Anti-terrorism Act of South Africa was in line with the country’s international obligations.

Nigeria Is Experiencing Myriads Of Security Challenges, Says General Olonisakin

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin during the graduation ceremony of the Air Force War College Course 5 in Makurdi said Nigeria is currently facing myriads of security challenges.

 

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin says Nigeria is currently facing myriads of security challenges.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of the Air Force War College Course 5 in Makurdi on Saturday, the CDS asked the forces to match manpower deployment to latest war equipment procured for effective combat operations.

Olonosakin who represented the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magaji (rtd) challenged the military to redouble efforts in the campaign against escalating acts of insurgency.

“Our beloved country is currently experiencing a myriad of security challenges including act of terrorism in the northeast, pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft in the south south and random acts of kidnapping in many parts of the country.

“These challenges have had severe consequences on the human and material resources of the nation. This makes military involvement in the internal security operations in our country inevitable,” he stated.

READ ALSO: Buhari Sad After ‘Alleged Execution’ Of Four Aid Workers

On the ongoing war against terrorism, the defence chief commended the Nigerian Air Force Air for its capabilities which he said has boosted the military operations in the northeast.

Similarly, the Chief Of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said the training of troops from the Air War collage in Benue State capital has improved the air capabilities of troops in neutralising insurgents.

37 Killed In Burkina Faso’s Deadliest Attack In Five Years

FILES) In this file photo taken on March 02, 2019 Burkinabe soldiers take part in a ceremony in Ouagadougou. Burkina Faso’s security forces are overwhelmed by the flare-up of attacks carried out almost every day by jihadist groups. ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP

 

An ambush on a convoy transporting employees of a Canadian mining company in Burkina Faso killed 37 people on Wednesday, the deadliest attack in nearly five years of jihadist violence in the West African country.

The impoverished and politically fragile Sahel country has been struggling to quell a rising jihadist revolt that has claimed hundreds of lives since early 2015.

On Wednesday morning “unidentified armed individuals” ambushed five buses carrying local employees, contractors and suppliers of the Samafo mining company, said Saidou Sanou, the governor of the country’s Est Region.

As well as the 37 civilians killed, 60 were wounded, he said.

Mine owner Semafo Inc. said the five buses escorted by the military were approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Boungou gold mine in the Tapoa province when they were ambushed.

A security source said “a military vehicle that was escorting the convoy hit an explosive device”.

“Two buses carrying workers were then fired upon,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Burkina Faso’s government said the gunmen had conducted a “complex attack”, adding that defence and security forces had launched a relief operation and were searching the area.

READ ALSO: Two Killed As Clashes Erupt At Guinea Funeral March

It was the third deadly attack on Canadian firm Semafo, which operates two mines in Burkina Faso, in 15 months.

“We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors and suppliers,” Semafo said in a statement, offering condolences to the families of the victims.

The mine itself, it added, remains secure and its operations had not been affected.

Two separate attacks on convoys carrying Boungou mine employees in August and December last year killed 11 people.

The company blamed “armed bandits” for last year’s attacks, and subsequently reinforced its armed escorts.

The Burkina Faso government this year asked mining companies to make their own arrangements to transport their employees, according to sources close to the miners.

Nearly 700 dead in five years

Burkina Faso’s northern provinces have been battling a nearly five-year wave of jihadist violence that came from neighbouring Mali.

The attacks — typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings — have claimed nearly 700 lives across the country since early 2015, according to an AFP toll.

Almost 500,000 people have also been forced to flee their homes.

The attacks have been claimed by a range of jihadist groups, including al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The country’s badly equipped, poorly trained and underfunded security forces have been unable to stem the violence, which has intensified throughout 2019 to become almost daily.

The Sahel region, including Burkina Faso’s neighbours Mali and Niger, has been afflicted by the violence despite the presence of the regional G5 Sahel force as well as French and US troops.

Burkina Faso’s previous deadliest attack was in January 2016, when jihadists raided the Splendid Hotel and a cafe in the capital Ouagadougou, killing 30 people, around half of them foreign nationals.

In August this year, the army suffered its worst attack with 24 soldiers killed in an assault on a base in Koutougou, near the Mali border.

On Monday, an attack on a base in northern Burkina Faso killed at least five gendarmes and five civilians.