Mall of America under threat from al-Shabaab

The Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab released a video this weekend claiming to target several malls and shopping centers in the US and Great Britain. The most prominent target mentioned by the terrorists was the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis has a large Somali population and it is reported by DHS that al-Shabaab has been actively recruiting residents. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that shoppers should be vigilant when visiting the mall.

CNN:

“If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful,” Johnson said.

“There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important, and it’s the environment we’re in, frankly,” he said.

His comments come as the Mall of America implements new security measures — some of which the mall said in a statement would be noticeable to shoppers. Continue reading

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Al Shabaab forces telecom to switch off service

English: War flag of al-Shabaab

English: War flag of al-Shabaab (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By AHMED OSMA Special Correspondent

Posted  Saturday, February 22   2014 at  16:13

Osman Ali, the owner of an electronics shop in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, has been hard-hit since Al Shabaab forced the biggest telecoms company to switch off its mobile Internet service in the Horn of Africa nation.

“I don’t understand why the government has not done anything to deal with the situation. It could at least find an alternative for the people. This has thrown the country into darkness. We are left behind,” Ali said from his shop, explaining that his sales had dropped dramatically since the shutdown. Continue reading

The Jewel in the Crown of Washington’s Permanent War: Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti

In the final of the ‘Permanent War’ series from the Washington Post, Craig Whitlock reports on the expansion of Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the U.S. first ‘counter-terrorism’ base, and the hub of drone operations in Somalia and Yemen. In fact, drones take off and land around 16 times a day at the base, which is sandwiched between Somalia (10 miles to the Southeast) and Yemen (North, across the Gulf of Aden).permanentWar26

The origin of the base lies as a ‘Third World’ outpost by the French Foreign Legion (Yemen itself is a former French colony). About a decade ago it was used for marines looking to gain a foothold in the region. Since then, it has been transformed into the busiest Predator base outside of Afghanistan. The secretive 500 acre base is dedicated to counter-terrorism–the first of its kind–against al-Qaeda and its affiliates in a perpetual war.

Activities at Camp Lemonnier increased in 2010 after 8 Predators were delivered, turning the camp into a fully-fledged drone base. AQAP in Yemen had attempted to bomb two U.S.-bound airliners and jihadists in Somalia consolidated their hold. JSOC plays a central role at the base, with 300 Special Forces personnel coordinating raids from inside a barb wired compound. A total of 3,200 U.S. troops, civilians, and contractors are assigned to the camp where they ‘train foreign militaries, gather intelligence and dole out humanitarian aid across East Africa as part of a campaign to prevent extremists from taking root’.

Continue reading

Google And The Somali Pirates

System Overview from US Coast Guard

System Overview from US Coast Guard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

June 17, 2012: An official from Google recently announced at a defense technology conference that his firm would soon roll out a feature that would allow any Internet user to track all ships at sea, including U.S. Navy warships, in real time. The Google official was angry that the navy itself did not have this capability. This shocked many in the audience and later embarrassed the Google official. Turns out that the navy has had this tracking capability since the 1980s, when it began equipping its ships with AIS (Automatic Identification System) transmitters that all large ships are required to carry in order to qualify for insurance.

For more than a decade satellites have been used to more rapidly collect and distribute the AIS transmissions, making it easier for these large ships to be tracked. Shipping companies are the main users of this information. The U.S. Navy has used the AIS monitoring system since the 1980s.

The navy, however, can turn off certain AIS information as needed. For example, the warships can only transmit location but not name of the ship. This tells mariners and others (like Google users and Somali pirates) with access to AIS information that a large ship is at a certain location. The U.S. Navy sometimes has its ships turn off AIS altogether. Naturally, smaller, uninsured ships do not carry AIS and are more likely to be carrying illegal cargo. Smugglers with AIS can turn it off, although that can also raises suspicions if someone notes that AIS signal being turned off. The U.S. Navy will not discuss its capabilities to use AIS for deception.

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XIANG HUA MEN Freed By Iranian Naval Commandos

Piracy REPORT:UPDATE

High Profile Pirate Leader Garaad Captured In The Operation

04/06/2012

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Marine Traffic

XIANG HUA MEN, Panamana-Flagged Cargo Vessel Hijacked on April 06, 2012

Just hours after Panama-flagged cargo ship XIANG HUA MEN was hijacked by pirates 14 nautical miles off the Iranian coast, Iranian commandos stormed the vessel, rescuing the 28 Chinese crewmembers and capturing the nine pirates on board.

Two Iranian naval vessels approached the ship, following which the pirates threw their weapons overboard. Xinhua news agency reported that the Chinese embassy in Iran had requested that Iran intervene militarily to free the vessel.

“The Chinese embassy… immediately established contact with relevant Iranian authorities demanding (that) Iran adopt all necessary measures to fully rescue the ship and crew,” Xinhua reported.

Somalia Report can confirm that Garaad, a well-known pirate based out of Puntland was one of the nine pirates arrested. Somalia Report spoke with Garaad’s cousin this morning, who stated that Garaad was one of the nine pirates arrested. Garaad was responsible for the Blida hijack, which was subsequently released for $3.5 million. His gang has come under pressure from Puntland security forces recently: in February, a number of his colleagues were arrested, and the authorities burned two of their speedboats.

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Timeline: Operation Linda Nchi

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Two Kenyan battalions with air and armored vehicle support were deployed to Somalia at the start of Operation Linda Nchi. Additional troops have entered the country since then. The Kenyan Navy increased patrols along the northern coastline.

Month One (16 October – 15 November)
Month Two (16 November – 15 December)
Month Three (16 December – 15 January)
Month Four (16 January – 15 February)
Month Five (16 February – present)

AMISOM: African Union Mission in Somalia
IGAD: Intergovernmental Authority on Development
SNA: Somali National Army
TFG: Transitional Federal Government

16 OCTOBER 2011
  • A Kenyan battalion, with air and armored vehicle support, crossed the Somali border from Liboi, entering the town of Dhobley in Lower Jubba region. Residents reported that the troop columns were supported by four tanks, along with an estimated 40 armored vehicles, some of which towed artillery.[1]
  • Airstrikes targeted al Shabaab positions in the jungle surrounding the town of Qoqani, along the main road from Dhobley. Airstrikes also hit an al Shabaab base near the town of Afmadow. Kenyan officials have refused to confirm many of the air raids.[2]
  • Kenyan military helicopter crashed at 7:55 pm near Liboi’s primary school, killing five Kenyan military personnel.[3]
  • Kenyan Army units entered Somalia to create a 100 km buffer zone.[4]
17 OCTOBER 2011
  • Kenyan navy patrol boat hit by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) off the coast of Lamu. Three sailors were injured.[5]
  • A Kenyan battalion reached the Somali town of Elwaq in Gedo region.[6]
  • Kenyan forces established a forward-operating base (FOB) in Qoqani in Lower Jubba region. Forces had already secured Dhobley and Taabta.[7]
  • Airstrikes targeted al Shabaab positions surrounding Afmadow town in Lower Jubba region.[8]
18 OCTOBER 2011
  • Heavy rains in southern Somalia slowed further progress.[9]
  • Kenya and Somalia signed a security and military cooperation agreement in Mogadishu, which limits Kenyan operations to Lower Jubba region.[10]
  • Kenyan army spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir claimed that Kenyan airstrikes had killed 73 al Shabaab militants.[11]
  • A suicide car bomb exploded in Mogadishu near the Foreign Ministry during the visit of Kenyan Defense Minister Mohammed Yusuf Haji and Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula. Kenyan Foreign Minister Moses Wetangula said that the explosion occurred along the planned route to the airport, but that the delegation’s travel plans were changed last minute.[12]
19 OCTOBER 2011
  • Residents reported Kenyan tanks and SNA troops seen in Busar in Gedo region.[13]
  • The TFG-aligned Ras Kamboni brigade stationed in Cag Libaax, 12 km west of Qoqani.[14]
  • Kenyan troops reported to be within 5 km of Afmadow, where al Shabaab had set up a defensive position. Kenyan airstrikes against al Shabaab positions near Afmadow continued. Kenyan officials credited Western satellites with providing intelligence on al Shabaab’s positions.[15]
  • A remote-control roadside bomb exploded in Mogadishu near the seaport.[16]
  • The Kenyan Cabinet unanimously voted for Kenyan troops to secure and remain in Kismayo until the TFG or AMISOM assumes control of the port city.[17]
20 OCTOBER 2011
  • Kenyan airstrikes targeted al Shabaab’s positions in the town of Ras Kamboni in Lower Jubba region.[18]
  • The TFG-aligned Ras Kamboni brigade and Kenyan troops captured the town of Ras Kamboni. Three hundred Ras Kamboni fighters entered the town, forcing al Shabaab to flee.[19]
  • TFG-aligned troops, SNA forces, and Ras Kamboni brigade headed toward Afmadow in Lower Jubba region.[20]
  • Kenyan military spokesman Major Emmanuel Chirchir stated Kenya’s intention of clearing Kismayo of al Shabaab militants and pirates.[21]
  • SNA and AMISOM troops launch an offensive in Mogadishu to secure Daynile district.[22] Continue reading

Military Operations – Kenia-Somalia Operation Linda Nchi

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Kenya launched an offensive operation against al Shabaab in Somalia codenamed “Operation Linda Nchi” (Operation Protect the Nation) on October 16, 2011. The pretext for the start of the operation was a series of kidnappings in northern Kenya: on September 11, a British man was killed and his wife kidnapped from a resort in Lamu; on October 1, a French woman was taken from her Kenyan home; and on October 13, two Spanish aid workers were kidnapped from Dadaab refugee camp. The scale of the operation indicates that plans for such an offensive had been underway for some time. Al Shabaab’s presence in southern Somalia has hurt Kenya’s tourism industry and an increase in pirate attacks have proven costly for Kenya’s shipping industry. Kenya has complemented this operation with increased security inside of the country, including operations in Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighborhood, which has earned the moniker “Little Mogadishu.

Read more:

http://www.criticalthreats.org/somalia/operation-linda-nchi

 

Map: Operation Linda Nchi

By Katherine Zimmerman

December 5, 2011

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See a timeline of Operation Linda Nchi for further information.

WEEK EIGHT (04-10 December 2011)

There has been an uptick in Kenyan airstrikes targeting al Shabaab positions, particularly in Bardhere in Gedo region. Residents reported that the strikes destroyed facilities used by the militants. Kenyan and allied troops have not advanced beyond established positions.

Al Shabaab is likely behind the repeated attacks in Dadaab refugee camp, which have targeted foreign aid workers and Kenyan police. Additionally, the fighting near Qoqani and Taabta in Lower Jubba region may indicate that al Shabaab has sufficient strength to regularly engage Kenyan and allied troops in skirmishes.

WEEK SEVEN (27 November-03 December 2011)

Kenyan and Somali forces did not secure additional territory in southern Somalia over the course of the past week. Their positions have remained susceptible to al Shabaab attacks; much of the fighting occurred behind Kenya’s front line. Airstrikes targeted an al Shabaab base in al Adde village in Gedo region, which had previously been claimed to have been secured.

Al Shabaab militants continued to launch hit-and-run attacks on Kenyan and Somali positions, particularly in the area between Dhobley and Qoqani. The group banned the operations of 16 aid agencies in Somalia, which may be an attempt to limit the flow of information out of the region.

Continue reading