Entries in al-Qaeda (9)


Algeria Hostage Crisis: Seven Americans Escaped, One Dead, Fate of Two Uncertain

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The four-day hostage crisis at an Algerian natural gas plant has left at least one American dead, and the fate of two more is of growing concern, but seven Americans were among the dozens of Westerners who escaped unharmed.

The siege of the In Amenas facility ended Saturday, when the Algerian military's final assault retook the BP joint venture plant in the Sahara from the al Qaeda-linked terrorists who had raided it Wednesday morning.

The Algerian army killed all the terrorists, but not before they apparently executed the remaining hostages. Over the course of the siege, 23 hostages died, and Algerian officials fear the toll may go higher.

"For our people in Algeria, for their family and friends, this has been and continues to be a distressing and horrific time," said BP chief executive Bob Dudley.

The dead American was identified by the U.S. State Department as 58-year-old Fred Buttaccio of suburban Houston. The fate of two other Americans remains uncertain.

Survivors said the attackers focused only on Americans and Westerners, including a large British contingent.

Said British prime minister David Cameron, "Tragically, we now know that three British nationals have been killed and a further three are believed to be dead; and also a further British resident is also believed to be dead.

Most of the 100 or more Western workers who were at the facility when it was raided Wednesday were ultimately freed or escaped.

The Algerian military said it killed at least 32 of the terrorists, and displayed their bodies on Algerian TV.

Officials said the terrorists were heavily armed with automatic weapons and explosive-packed suicide belts and were preparing to blow up the natural gas facility.

In a statement, President Obama said, "Today, the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the families of all those who were killed and injured in the terrorist attack in Algeria. The blame for this tragedy rests with the terrorists who carried it out, and the United States condemns their actions in the strongest possible terms. ... This attack is another reminder of the threat posed by al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups in North Africa.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Yemen: US Drone Strike Kills Al-Qaeda Media Chief 

Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images(SANA’A, Yemen) -- At least seven al-Qaeda militants were killed late Friday by two U.S. drone strikes in Yemen’s Azan region of the Shabwa province, according to Al Jazeera.

Bloomberg News reports that among those killed was the group’s media chief in Yemen.

On Saturday, blasts and gunfire rocked Yemen’s capital city of Sana’a as those loyal to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh fought opposition in the northern parts of the city.

Twelve protesters were killed Saturday in Sana’a by pro-Saleh forces, according to Al Jazeera.

The total death toll from the strikes currently stands at 24.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kenya's Dadaab Refugee Camp Unable to Accommodate Growing Need

Oli Scarff/Getty Images(DADAAB, Kenya) -- Every day hundreds of refugees arrive at the Dadaab refugee complex in Kenya after walking for weeks through the desolate terrain to escape drought and famine in Somalia.

The Somalian crisis has been brought on by a deadly combination of severe drought, with no rain in the region for two years, a huge spike in food prices and a brutal civil war.

It is too dangerous for international humanitarian aid workers to reach the almost 3 million people in need because of the insecurity and demands by Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist organization that until recently had banned aid workers from operating in the region.

Somalis have no choice but to flee to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

But even at Dadaab, the world's largest refugee settlement comprised of three separate camps and now home to almost 400,000 Somalis, there is not enough space or supplies to meet the growing demand.

More than 1,300 refugees arrive at the camp every day, but workers do not have the means to provide everyone with the help they so desperately need, leaving many refugees waiting at the complex's gates.

There are only seven ambulance drivers for the 122,000 people sprawling across one of the three camps. They have no medical equipment or paramedics. The ambulances don't even have a siren to put on as they race to find the sick.

The complex is so vast and the tents are so spread out that even when the ambulances get a call about a woman in labor, it's usually too difficult to find her.

A growing number of women are being sexually assaulted on their long walk to the camps. Many will not talk about it because they are too ashamed.

It is the job of Sinead Murrey, the gender-based violence program manager of the Inyernational Red Cross, to lend these women a comforting ear.

"I think the challenges in Dadaab, it's such a complex environment even before the influx and now with the increase in volume, especially female head of households and large numbers of women and girls who have most likely experienced violence on the way ... is ... a massive challenge," Murrey said.

When asked why she takes on such a massive challenge, Murrey replied, "At a personal level? I am passionate about it."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Al Qaeda Militants Escape in Brazen Yemen Jailbreak

Yemeni anti-government protesters chant (June 21, 2011) AFP/ Getty Images(SANAA, Yemen) -- Dozens of militants, many of whom are suspected of belonging to al Qaeda, escaped from a Yemen prison Wednesday in what appeared to be a coordinated breakout.

Reports estimate between 40 and 57 militants fled the Mukalla jail through an underground tunnel, while militants attacked the prison from the outside in what seems like an organized effort to divert the guards' attention away from the escape.

The attack on the guards left one soldier dead and at least one other involved in the confrontation dead.

The escapees then disappeared into Yemen's lawless streets. The past months have been filed with tumult in Yemen, as demonstrators continue to demand President Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.

The militants' jailbreak, in addition to the chaotic political climate in Yemen, is said to pose a direct threat to the United States.

Last week ABC News obtained information that showed the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had repeatedly urged senior al Qaeda operatives in Yemen to carry out terror attacks in the United States.

"Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is strictly, or has been strictly focused on attacks in the US homeland," Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Rogers told ABC News in an exclusive interview then. "This morning, when you're over your breakfast cereal there is somebody in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula planning another attack in the U.S."

In April, more than 500 Taliban fighters made a similar escape from an Afghan jail, slipping through two underground tunnels. According to the version of events for that escape posted on the Taliban's official website, the main tunnel took five months to build and passed under a highway and police checkpoints.

Additionally, this is not the first major breakout by al-Qaida militants in Yemen. In 2006, 23 escaped from a detention center in Sanaa, including Qassim al-Raimi. Qassim al-Raimi is now a senior leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and has been linked to several attacks against the United States.

Copyright 2011 ABC News


Protestors in Yemen Remain Defiant Despite Government Crackdowns

GAMAL NOMAN/AFP/Getty Images(TAIZ, Yemen) -- Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh is still holding onto power and his brutal attempts to crush anti-government protests have left over 120 dead. The Obama administration has not called for President Saleh to go, but some believe the tide may be turning as U.S. criticism peaked this week with one state department official calling the violence appalling.

Another sign may be the Pentagon's proposal Wednesday for $43 million of  military aid to foreign countries. None of it is earmarked for Yemen where the presence of al Qaeda is a top U.S. Concern. Officials say they will take a wait and see approach.  

Meanwhile, in the southern city of Taiz, tens of thousands are marching against President Saleh with many businesses closed to observe a general strike. In the capital of Sanaa, demonstrators are also remaining defiant a day after a bloody gun battle there left three tribesmen dead.

President Saleh said Wednesday he's ready to go to Saudi Arabia to negotiate with the opposition after some gulf states offered to mediate. It's unclear if the opposition who've had their own proposals rejected by Saleh will agree to outside mediation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


ISAF Troops Killed in Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - ABC News Radio(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- One member of NATO's International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF died in Afghanistan on Saturday, one day after three other ISAF members were killed there.  NATO blamed the latest death on an insurgent attack.

Of the three killed Friday, one died in an insurgent attack and one was killed by a roadside bomb.  Officials say the third died of an injury not related to battle.  The latest deaths put the number of ISAF members lost there at 698 so far in 2010. 

These latest losses follow Thursday's release of the Obama administration review of U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  In that review, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said the U.S. is on the right track toward al Qaeda and reversing the momentum of the Taliban, in hopes of preventing Afghanistan from becoming a "safe haven" for violent extremists.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Afghan War Review: Gains Remain 'Fragile and Reversible'

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment(WASHINGTON) -- The White House released its annual report on the progress of the war in Afghanistan on Thursday.  The five page Af-Pak review cites that the core goal “remains to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al Qaeda in the region and to prevent its return to either country.”

According to the report, the following components are “working well”:

-- “al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Pakistan is weaker and under more sustained pressure than at any other point since it fled Afghanistan in 2001”;

-- In Pakistan, the foundation is being established “for a strategic partnership based on mutual respect and trust, through increased dialogue, improved cooperation, and enhanced exchange and assistance programs”;

-- In Afghanistan, “the momentum achieved by the Taliban in recent years has been arrested in much of the country and reversed in some key areas, although these gains remain fragile and reversible.”

‪‪These components, on the other hand, still need work:

-- Denying al Qaeda's “safe haven in the tribal areas of western Pakistan”;

-- In Afghanistan, it’s proving tough to establish “basic stability and security in the face of a resilient insurgency that finds shelter in a neighboring sanctuary;”

-- “More broadly, we must continue to place the Afghanistan and Pakistan challenges in larger and better integrated political and regional contexts.”

The conditions are being created, the report says, to start withdrawing U.S. troops in July 2011.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Amid Jitters of New Terror Threat, Two American Jihad Leaders Resurface

Image Courtesy - FBI via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two radical Islamic clerics with American roots have resurfaced Wednesday, even as officials in Europe and the US are already on high alert because of a "credible but not specific" threat of commando-style terror attacks by militants with Western passports.

American-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, whom authorities have linked to both the Fort Hood shooting and the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest flight 253, will soon be releasing a new video. Authorities consider Awlaki an Al Qaeda recruiter, and his online videos inspire young Westerners to jihad. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemeni affiliate of Al Qaeda, posted images from the forthcoming video on the internet overnight.

At the same time Adam Gadahn, the Orange County metalhead turned Al Qaeda spokesman, has released a new internet video about the Pakistan floods.

Authorities say the Yemen-based AQAP is currently the most serious threat to American cities.

But US and European authorities are already searching for a team of commandos allegedly planning attacks in Britain, France, and Germany, all based on the interrogation of a German jihadi who was captured over the summer and is now being held at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

US law enforcement officials say they have been told the terrorists were planning a series of "Mumbai-style" commando raids on what were termed "economic or soft" targets in the countries. Pakistani militants killed 173 people with guns and grenades during the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India.

The captured German reportedly said several teams of attackers, all with European passports, had been trained and dispatched from training camps in Waziristan and Pakistan. Officials say the German claimed the attack plan had been approved by Osama Bin Laden.

Officials consider the threat credible, although not specific, and said that an attack in Europe seemed more likely that one in the US.

Among those being sought are a group of radicalized Germans who have been training at terror camps in Pakistan, producing videos in German to gain more recruits. Some of the German-speaking militants may have come from the same Hamburg mosque where Mohammed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers gathered.

Guido Steinberg, a counter-terrorism analyst at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, said German jihadis have been recruited from mosques in Berlin, Bonn and Hamburg, including the former Al Quds mosque, where Ramzi Binalshibh, Atta, hijacker Marwan al-Shehhi and other conspirators joined forces.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


'Lady Qaeda' Gets 86 Years For Shooting at U.S. Soldiers

Image Courtesy - ABC News Radio(NEW YORK) -- Aafia Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years in federal prison Thursday, following her February conviction for attempted murder of U.S. government officials. Siddiqui was allegedly caught in Afghanistan with cyanide, documents indicating attacks on the U.S., including landmarks in New York City, but the MIT-trained neuroscientist was tried and convicted in a simple criminal case for firing a rifle at FBI agents and U.S. soldiers.

Before Judge Richard Berman announced the sentence, Siddiqui gave a meandering 30-minute speech. "I didn't take any notes," she said. "I wasn't planning on speaking. I was planning on sleeping." She also asked the Muslims in the courtroom to forgive the court. "I don't want any bloodshed.  I don't want any violence in my name."

Though Siddiqui was not charged with terrorism, terrorism enhancements were applied to her sentence. As Judge Berman was about to announce the sentence of 86 years, Siddiqui supporter Sara Flounders, an activist with the International Action Center, yelled, "Shame! Shame! Shame on this court!"

Siddiqui, 38, was convicted earlier this year after an often raucous trial that ended the way it began, with Siddiqui yelling at jurors and shouting to spectators.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio.

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