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Air Peace aborts Lagos-bound flight over bomb scare

Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

A Lagos-bound Air Peace flight was forced to return to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Wednesday, following safety concerns over an explosive on board the aircraft.

The Corporate Communications Manager of the carrier, Mr Chris Iwarah, said the pilot aborted the flight after receiving information that there was an explosive on the aircraft.

Iwarah, who attributed the false information to an intending passenger who was denied boarding after the crew suspected that he might be mentally challenged, said the aircraft was already on its way to Lagos when the pilot made the return.

He said, “We confirm that Air Peace Flight P4 7121, Abuja-Lagos on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, returned to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, after the crew received information that there was a dangerous item on board.

“In line with procedures and our high safety standards, the captain-in-command acted professionally, briefed passengers on board and took the decision to return as a precaution. The aircraft landed in Abuja without any incident and passengers disembarked normally to enable security personnel to conduct a check.

“Passengers on board the flight were screened a second time and the aircraft thoroughly checked. At the end of the exercise, the information was found to be a hoax as nothing was found on the aircraft. The aircraft was subsequently cleared to depart for Lagos and safely landed at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos at about 11.44 a.m.”

He said the passenger who gave the information had since been taken into custody by security operatives for an investigation into the incident.

Meanwhile, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has described the information as false.

“The threat of a bomb on an early morning Air Peace flight from Abuja to Lagos has been confirmed to be false,” FAAN said in a statement signed by its General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu.

“The passenger that raised the alarm is said to have a history of mental illness and is currently with the security agencies and medical experts for assessment,” the agency added.

FAAN stated that following the false information, its aviation security evacuated passengers, crew and cargo on board the flight and a bomb squad conducted a thorough check on the aircraft and baggage, which confirmed the information to be false.

“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria will like to re-assure passengers and all airport users that our airports are safe and secure. They should carry on their lawful activities without any fear,” FAAN added.

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ISIS recruitment drive in Somalia could prove ‘massive threat to the US presence’ in the region

From the depths of ISIS’ self-proclaimed territory in Somalia, members of the terror group released a propaganda video, “Men Who Have Been True”, celebrating dead fighters and detailing the branch’s endeavors to provide food and medical aid to the community.

The video was splattered all over from messaging apps such as Telegram to almost 30 websites including Microsoft One Drive, YouTube, and Google Drive before being taken down by at least some major sites. According to the Counter Extremist Project (CEP), it marks a “clear effort to urge potential foreign fighters to look outside Iraq and Syria.”

And the recruitment drive to the Horn of Africa may be working.

Just last week, the Department of Justice announced that three naturalized U.S citizens originally from Kenya but living in Michigan had been arrested – one for embarking on his journey to join ISIS in Somalia and another two for acting as co-conspirators for the trip.


The complaint asserts that all three defendants pledged allegiance to ISIS through videos they recorded themselves, and at least two are alleged to have discussed with each other their desire to join ISIS, to kill non-believers, and even to potentially use a car for a martyrdom operation to run down non-believers in the United States if they could not travel overseas to fight for ISIS.

But beyond just a homegrown threat, ISIS in Somalia is said to be burgeoning and over the course of 2018 “significantly expanded its operations” since claiming responsibility for its first attack in April 2016, at the height of the ISIS global reign.

Until now, most of the focus in the country has been on countering al-Shabab, an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist group.

“ISIS is more appealing ideologically and attracts more defections than al-Shabab. This is why they are getting traction,” explained retired Air Force Lt. Col. Rudolph Atallah, now chief executive officer of White Mountain Research, and former Africa Counterterrorism in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “ISIS appeals to young men who don’t feel like they fit into normal society, and there is latitude given by Baghdadi for what they can and cannot do.”


According to data compiled by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD)’s Long War Journal, the jihadist group has claimed 106 attacks in Somalia since April 2016. In 2018 alone, ISS claimed 66 operations.

“While this tally is less consequential than other areas in which the Islamic State operates, this number is more than the total number of claimed operations in Somalia in 2016 and 2017 combined,” the analysis revealed.

FILE 2011: Hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18 km south of Mogadishu, in Somalia.

FILE 2011: Hundreds of newly trained al-Shabab fighters perform military exercises in the Lafofe area some 18 km south of Mogadishu, in Somalia. (AP)

“ISIS benefitted from a section of al-Shabab leaders who saw the establishment of a ‘Caliphate’ under Baghdadi as an opportunity to switch sides,” said David Otto, director and counterterrorism program coordinator at Global Risk International. “And in addition, as thousands of ISIS returning foreign fighters left Mosul and Raqqa towards the East, North, Central and West Africa, the ISIS faction in Somalia seems to have benefitted.”


ISIS mainly operates in Puntland and in southern Somalia but has been spreading its area of operations as well as its “type of operations” – relying less on typical improvised explosive devices and more on targeted “assassinations” using “hit squads,” the FDD analysis highlights.

“Somalia is one of the most unstable countries in the world, and governance and security are practically nonexistent. Jihadist groups thrive under these conditions,” Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at FDD and editor of FDD’s Long War Journal, told Fox News. “Like in other countries, such as Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria, the Islamic State has poached from discontented members of Al Qaeda’s branches (Shabab in the case of Somalia) to fill its ranks. The Islamic State typically recruits from leaders and fighters who have been marginalized, are unhappy with their leadership, or disagree with Al Qaeda’s more patient approach to jihad.”

The analysis points to the prospect of even more instability as ISIS “continues to encroach on Shabab territory,” igniting more internal conflict and bloodshed.

Earlier this year, the U.S announced its deadliest airstrike in Somalia in months, although it was against Al Qaeda targets rather than ISIS. It allegedly killed 52 extremists who mounted an attack on Somali soldiers, but a spokesperson for U.S Africa Command has since said the Department of Defense will no longer release details pertaining to death counts in Somalia.

The United States has significantly increased the number of airstrikes against al-Shabab in the country since Donald Trump took office two years ago in the quest to eliminate safe havens and has struck the ISIS-affiliated group too, but experts contend that more focus needs to be on the latter threat.

“US counterterrorism efforts in Somalia have largely focused on Shabab. For instance, in 2017, the US launched its first strikes against the Islamic State in Somalia and targeted the group 4 times. Shabab was targeted 31 times that year,” Roggio contended. “In 2018, there were zero strikes vs the Islamic State, and 47 against Shabab.”

But according to Otto, “the use of drone strikes targets key leaders but they are quickly replaced by more radical leaders.”

“Both factions pose a massive threat to the U.S. presence in Somalia, in the region and across the borders. Both consider the US and its Western partners as their primary enemy,” he said.

Nonetheless, Roggio concurred that the threat is far from limited to the country of origin.


“Any time ISIS sticks its fangs into a country, this is a threat to US national security. The US has a significant Somali expat community, and ISIS can use this population to recruit from and inspire attacks in the US,” he added. “ISIS is adept at using social media to recruit and inspire attacks.”


escudo iraq transparente

Al Tayeb, near Iranian border
Unconfirmed- US forces conducted an air landing in the al Tayeb area near the Iranian border on Monday. Biased local media claim that this is a reconnaissance mission to collect information about locations of PMU and other Iranian-aligned factions.
Iraqi airstrikes targeted and killed six former top aides to ISIS leader Baghdadi while traveling in 4×4 vehicles near Rutba on Tuesday.
Jurf Sakhar, southwest of Mahmudiyah
Unconfirmed- An alleged PMU militiaman executed a bound and allegedly Sunni man with an automatic rifle in the Jurf Sakhar area on Tuesday. Video circulating on social media depicts the act taking place but could not be verified.
Two civilians were wounded from a roadside IED detonation while driving through Tikrit on Sunday.

Unknown gunmen threw a hand grenade at the home of Wasit Provincial Council president Mazen Kendouh al-Zamili on Sunday, no casualties reported.
Abu Ghraib
Unknown gunmen shot and killed a civilian during a drive by shooting in Abu Ghraib on Monday morning, no information on motive.
North Shaab, north Baghdad
Security forces discovered the body of an unknown man in the northern part of Shaab in north Baghdad on Sunday, exhibiting gunshot wounds. Statements to local media revealed that gunfire had been heard in Sadr City on the same day.
Wazia, 30km west of Haditha
ISIS killed two individuals searching for truffles in the Wazia area on Monday morning, 30km west of Haditha. A third individual was kidnapped.
Nahrawan and Rajim Hadid, west Mosul
Ninawa Police arrested six wanted ISIS members with outstanding warrants in the Nahrawan and Rajim Hadid areas of west Mosul on Sunday.
The Iraqi Army 5th Division and Military Intelligence arrested three ISIS militants in the Buhriz area south of Baqubah on Sunday, charged with killing seven individuals one month ago.

  Ad Dayr  
  Unknown gunmen opened fire at a work site operated by a construction company contracted by the local government in Ad Dayr on Sunday evening, no injuries or damage reported. The project involves implemented a sewage system and paving roads.  
Luhais, Rumaila, Yaseen Khrebit
Security forces cleared 354 projectiles in the Luhais, Rumaila, and Yaseen Khrebit areas of Basra governorate on Sunday, no injuries reported.

New American private military contractors arrive in Yemen

Dyncorp will be replacing Academi, formerly known as Blackwater. (AFP/File)
Dyncorp will be replacing Academi, formerly known as Blackwater. (AFP/File)
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The first batch of mercenaries from the private US military firm DynCorp has arrived in the Yemeni city of Aden to replace paid militants from another American company.

Under a USD-3-billion contract between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and DynCorp, mercenaries from the company are to be deployed to Yemen, where UAE forces are fighting against the Houthi rebels on Saudi orders, Khabar News Agency quoted an official with Yemeni Defense Ministry as saying.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the first group of the mercenaries recently arrived in the port city of Aden to replace those of Academi, a notorious American group formerly known as Blackwater.

He added that the new militants included special naval forces, who entered the port of Ras Omran southwest of Aden.

DynCorp is a rival of Academi, which hires mercenaries and sends them to fight in foreign countries on paid missions.

Academi had decided to withdraw from Bab-el-Mandeb region after the Yemeni forces inflicted heavy losses on them. The UAE was forced to bring in the new mercenaries from DynCorp for the same reason.

Yemen has been under military attacks by Saudi Arabia since late March last year. At least 8,400 people have been killed so far in the aggression and 16,015 others sustained injuries. The strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited from the source material


escudo iraq transparente

Albu al-Hashamah, near Yathrib
Security forces cleared and seized an artillery round cache in Albu al-Hashamah, near Yathrib on Saturday. The cache contained 261 mortar rounds consisting of 60mm and 80mm rounds.
Imsayhili, south of Shirqat
An IED exploded planted targeting responding forces along the road near Imsayhili, south of Shirqat on Sunday morning, killing 2 and injuring 3 others. A previous IED incident occurred in Khanuqiyah area earlier causing security forces to respond.
Update – A roadside IED exploded targeting a bus transporting security personnel near Khanuqiyah on Sunday morning, killing 2 and injuring 8 civilians.
Rashad, Baghdad
Gunmen shot and killed a civilian in Rashad, east Baghdad on Sunday morning.
al-Uwailah, near Tharthar Lake
10 Brigade of the ISF seized a weapons cache in al-Uwailah, near Tharthar Lake on Sunday morning. 300 12.7mm machinegun rounds and 200 PK rounds, eight 60mm mortar rounds, RPG9 Laucnher, and 2 PK magazines boxes were seized.
Gunmen wearing uniforms opened fire at civilians in al-Naddas, south of Mosul on Sunday morning.
Tal Ghazal
29th Brigade of the ISF seized an explosive and artillery cache in Tal Ghazal on Sunday morning. The cache contained 10 IEDs and several missiles.
Waqf basin
Iraqi air strikes targeted an ISIS position in Waqf basin on Saturday evening, killing three militants.
Gunmen attacked and clashed with security forces at a checkpoint near Khanaqin on Saturday evening, injuring 2 security personnel. The checkpoint was manned by both police and Asayish forces.
Tal Zahab
PMU forces clashed with ISIS militants in Tal Zahab, near Abbasi on Saturday evening, killing 2 tribal fighters.
Gunmen on two vehicles conducted a drive-by shooting due to a tribal dispute targeting a burial council in Zubayr on Saturday evening, injuring 3 civilians. The suspects were driving a Toyota Crown sedan and a pick-up truck. The suspects used Kalashnikov rifles during the incident.
Zahra, Amarah
Gunmen opened fire at two civilians at an intersection in Zahra, north Amarah on Saturday evening, killing a civilian and injuring another.