Singapore To Ban Photographs Or Videos Of Terror Attacks

Singapore has passed a law making it possible to ban photographs or videos of terror attack sites or communicating information about security operations.

This bill has raised massive criticism from rights groups that the move could curb press freedoms.

The bill, proposed in February, includes provisions to ban anyone from taking videos or photographs of the area of a terror attack or transmitting them.

It can also ban communication of text or audio messages about the security operations in the area.

The measures can be taken under a “communications stop” order if approved by the home affairs minister and activated by the police commissioner.

The wealthy city-state ranks as one of the safest countries in the world, but authorities say it has been a target of Islamic extremists since the 1990s and they have stepped up efforts to deter an attack.

“The CSO (communications stop order) is not an information blackout throughout the terror incident,” Josephine Teo, minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, told parliament ahead of the vote.

Information leaks to terrorists could risk the lives of security officers and those caught up in an attack, the home affairs ministry has said, citing media coverage of police operations in a 2015 attack in Paris and a 2008 attack in India’s financial capital of Mumbai.

Groups that advocate press freedom have expressed concern that the law gives the government the power to restrict what can be reported.

Human Rights Watch separately said the inclusion of public protests as an example of a “serious incident” meant the law can be used to infringe on freedom of speech.

Anyone planning a public protest is required to obtain a police permit in Singapore and are only allowed at a designated area in a small downtown park.

Only Singaporean citizens and permanent residents can participate.

“The Singaporean government’s history of persecuting dissenting voices makes the proposed public order law particularly frightening,” Asia director at Human Rights Watch Brad Adams said in a press release.

“Public protests are not a threat that justify the wholesale repeal of basic rights.”

Breaches of the new measures could lead to a maximum fine of 20,000 dollars and prison terms of up to two years.

The passage of the security law comes as Singapore holds a landmark public hearing on how to tackle the threat of fake news.

 

October 1st Blast: Charles Okah and Obi Nwanbueze Get Life Imprisonment

Charles Okah and Obi Nwanbueze have been sentenced to life imprisonment by a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday over the October 1, 2010 Independence Day bombing at Eagles Square, Abuja.

The court headed by Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that Okah, a younger brother to former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Henry Okah, and his accomplice, Nwabueze, used dynamites to unleash acts of terrorism on Nigerians and foreign dignitaries who had gathered at the Eagle Square for the occasion.

Recall that this act of terrorism killed twelve people at the Eagles Square in Abuja.

In his judgment on the 8-count terrorism charge filed by the federal government against the convicts which has lasted for seven years, Justice Kolawole held that both the documentary and oral evidence adduced by the prosecuting counsel linked Okah and Nwabueze to the Independence Day bombing at the Eagles Square.

The judge said, “The defendants are found guilty as charged in the five, out of the eight-count charge, contained in the amended charge dated 10 January, 2011 and filed on January 11, 2011, which relates to them.

They are accordingly convicted as charged”. Dismissing the convicts’ plea for clemency, the judge agreed with the prosecuting counsel, Dr Alex Iziyon (SAN) who had urged it to discountenance the convicts’ allocutus (plea for mercy), saying, “The convicts are hereby sentenced to life imprisonment”.

The Okah brothers were alleged to have coordinated as well as procured all the materials that were used for the attack. The federal government told the court that it was the 2nd defendant, Nwabueze, who helped them to fix Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in two cars it said were used for the bombing. Whereas the federal government called a total of 17 witnesses that testified before the court, Okah and Nwabueze who had earlier denied their alleged involvement in the terrorist attack called three witnesses each to establish their innocence. One of the alleged masterminds of the bombing incident, Osvwo Tekemfa Francis, a.k.a ‘General-Gbokos’, died in prison custody, while the High Court, in a separate trial, sentenced the 3rd accused person, Edmund Ebiware, to life imprisonment.

All the defendants were initially arraigned before the High Court on December 7, 2010 and subsequently re-arraigned on January 12, 2011. Adopting its final address on yesterday, the federal government insisted that the proof of evidence it adduced before the court was sufficient to secure the conviction of the defendants. It maintained that oral and documentary evidence that were tendered by the prosecution connected the defendants to the October 1, 2010 bomb blast.

Abubakar Shekau’s Words In New Video

Leader of Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau released a video informing the public that they are very much alive, disputing claims that the insurgent had been chased out of their famous base, Sambisa Forest.

While he wasn’t speaking in his normal energic way, Shekau said he was ready to fight against people who opposed his group, and teach ‘the truth’ to those willing to learn

He Said;

“I have no lengthy message to deliver except on the issue of worshipping God alone and serving Him without getting tired. Ours is not like that of the unbelievers whose worship is like the spider web.

“Just like one of the leaders of unbelievers, who is like an ape, was recently boasting that they have formed a joint force with Cameroonian forces to fight us.

“That they would not only chase us from Sambisa forest but also in all parts of Nigeria. So we too have declared that we do not want to see any Nigerian in Cameroon, in Chad, in Nigeria and even in Benin Republic.

“So I call on our brethren in Abuja, in Lagos, in Benin, in Kaduna, wherever you find any Nigerian make sure you shoot him dead if he is deliberately against us; but if he is ignorant of our ways, teach him on how to understand our ways. This is our first message.

“This is the message I have for you all. My name is Abubakar Shekau, the one that is an invincible enemy that you are fighting. That is our stand. I am tired of this calamity; it is better I die and go to rest in paradise.

“It is not about approaching you because that has already been done by our God. Our second message is to attack anyone who pledges to Nigeria, his country, to be faithful, loyal and honest and serve Nigeria. Anyone who believes in protecting the interest of Nigeria is our target.

“The one whose creed is to develop western education where infidels are trained is our enemy. Whoever that stands on any creed other than that of our Prophet Muhammad brought to us; the one that his great disciples followed, should know that he is our avowed enemy and if he confronts us we will fight him.

“In this job that we embarked upon, we are not going to boast too much about, but we pray that God should take our lives while on this struggle and not on any other thing else. May God help us on this belief.

“So you Nigerians especially the youth vigilante, we are going to fight you and that thing that drives you to pick up arms against us; we don’t care what they call you, be it Civilian-JTF or any kind of force. Just as you said you don’t want us on the face of Nigeria, so shall we too declare you persona non grata in Sambisa.

“Let anyone who has brains to think to avoid moving around Sambisa forest. Those of you the leaders of the troops will no longer have peace just like the way you think you have made here uncomfortable for us.”

 

New Islamic Network Discovered In Nigeria

Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), is an Islamic group which is operational in North Central and South South Nigeria.

ISWA deploys foreign terrorists that unleash mayhem on communities, with a view to exacerbating ethnic and religious tensions.

This disclosed in a reports presented to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The report was described as the result of findings by security operatives, including the Department of State Services (DSS). The discovery of the ISWA network followed the arrest of suspected attackers consisting of Fulani herdsmen, government-sponsored militias, militants and other miscreants in Benue State.

The source noted that many of the persons in custody spoke only the French language, unable to communicate in any of the Nigerian dialects.

This is the first time security officials have confirmed the activities of ISWA.

The source disclosed that a “good number” of the terrorists have been arrested, not only in the Benue valley, but also in towns in Edo State, specifically Akoko-Edo, Okpella and Benin, and Okene, in Kogi State.

“It is understood that the cell, which has members in different parts of the country, concentrates on recruiting young men to fight for the Islamic State in West Africa by unleashing cold-blooded murder on innocent citizens.

“There was intelligence that they planned several attacks, here, before and during Christmas and New Year. Their bombing targets included fuel depots, foreign missions, police and military establishments.

“Their network is very wide. So much was achieved by the DSS, which made a significant number of arrests in the last two months that helped preempt the attacks. This saved Nigeria from the spate of major terrorist attacks witnessed elsewhere, syndicated by ISIS worldwide,” the source said.

The source added: “We are learning more and more about this complex and sophisticated network. This is the main reason the secret service is not parading those suspects so far arrested. It has become clear to us now that the challenge facing this country is a serious one.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed that Buhari has been receiving “report upon report on the situation in Benue and other states”.

He, however, said he had not been briefed on any of the reports.

This is coming barely three days after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday, inaugurated the Sanctions Committee charged with tracking and freezing funds for terrorist groups in Nigeria.

The committee, headed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, consists of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; National Security Adviser, Babagana Mongunu; Director-General of DSS, Lawan Daura; and Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.

Also included are Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai; Director General of the National Intelligence Agency; and the Director General, Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit.

In Taraba State, meanwhile, a helicopter allegedly packed with arms and ammunition was said to have made a stop at Jibu village, Ibi Local Government Area.

In a statement, yesterday, spokesman for the state governor, Bala Dan-Abu, said the incident might be a plot to arm a militia preparing to attack communities in the state.

He said a similar sighting preceded an attack in Agatu last year and called on security agencies to unravel the mystery behind the craft.

Member representing the area in the state House of Assembly, Josiah Aji, said he was notified of the development, adding that the council chairman and relevant agencies have been alerted.

Some residents of the area told The Guardian via phone that armed security operatives have been deployed to investigate the matter.

Police spokesman, David Misal, however, described the report as a mere rumour.

But it was real in Ondo State yesterday when suspected herdsmen burnt down the farm of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Olu Falae. And in neighbouring Ekiti, Governor Ayodele Fayose, warned the leader of Fulani herdsmen, Muhammed Abashe, that he would be held responsible for any further attack in the state.

The governor was reacting to the recent killing by suspected herders of a Tiv woman at Orin Ekiti.

Fayose said Abashe failed to provide leadership by not stopping his kinsmen from destroying farms and attacking residents at the slightest provocation.

“If you still want to stay among us, you must accept the responsibility of ensuring that none of our peoples’ farms is destroyed by herdsmen any longer. None of our people must be killed by your men. If any killing or destruction of the farms of our people occurs again in that area, I will ensure that I use the law to fight you. This is the last warning I am giving you,” said Fayose.

 

New York City’s Deadliest Terror Attack Suspect To Plead Guilty

Sayfullo Saipov, the suspect in New York City’s deadliest terror attack has offered to plead guilty in order to avoid the death penalty, according to a new court filing from the suspect’s defense attorneys.

Saipov has been charged with killing eight people and injuring a dozen others after he drove a pickup truck down a bicycle path near the World Trade Center on October 31, 2017, an attack said to be the deadliest since 9/11. Saipov faces a 22-count indictment, which includes murder and terror-related charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

In the filing, Saipov’s attorneys say that with the amount of discovery the government has already produced in the case and the procedural requirements associated with pursuing a death penalty charge, the case could stretch on for years.

His attorneys write, “The most straightforward way to achieve closure would be for the government to accept a plea of guilty and a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.”

Saipov’s attorneys David Patton, Jennifer Brown, Annalisa Miron and David Stern, all New York Public Defenders say the government has already entered a “voluminous” amount of evidence in the case, including 981 audio files and over 1,800 video files. Much of the evidence is in Uzbek and Arabic, the letter says.

Saipov entered the United States from Uzbekistan in 2010 and was living in New Jersey before the attack. The attorneys argue that the amount of evidence in the case, the extra time required to find a jury to try a death penalty case and the actual trial itself, which would include testimony from witnesses and victims, all make pursuing a death penalty sentence a time-consuming and possibly painful process.

If the government does pursue the death penalty, Saipov’s attorneys believe a trial cannot begin until at least September 2019, almost two years after the attack, the letter states. “In short, a decision by the government not to seek the death penalty would bring immediate closure to the case without the need for the public and victims to repeatedly relive the terrible events of October 31, 2017,” the letter says. Saipov was arrested during the incident. After his truck hit a school bus, stopping it in its tracks, he exited the vehicle, and a New York police officer shot him. Saipov told investigators he was inspired to use a truck by ISIS videos, and chose the vehicle “to inflict maximum damage against civilians,” according to a criminal complaint.

Investigators found about 90 videos and 3,800 pictures, many of which were ISIS-related propaganda, after searching two of his cellphones, the complaint says. “The length and type of trial in this case, and whether there will be a trial at all, will depend greatly on whether the government seeks the death penalty,” Saipov’s attorneys say in the filing.

 

Indian Army Chief Calls For Restrictions On Internet And Social Media

Indian army chief Bipin Rawat has called for restrictions on the internet and social media use to counter terrorism.

The army chief said this while speaking at the Raisina Dialogue — a conference hosted by an Indian think tank in collaboration with India’s foreign ministry.

“I understand that in a democratic country people might have issues when we put curbs in place. But it is important to restrict the use of social media to tackle terrorism.

“Put some checks and curbs on internet, social media that terrorist organisations always resort to,” Rawat said.

Rawat also listed the severity of biological chemical weapons and the threat that it poses.

“The threat of nuclear and chemical weapons falling in the hands of terrorists can be a disaster for humanity,” he said.

Recall in June 2017, it was reported that social media giants Facebook, Google’s YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft said on they were forming a global working group to combine their efforts to remove terrorist content from their platforms.

Responding to pressure from governments in Europe and the United States after a spate of militant attacks, the companies said they would share technical solutions for removing terrorist content, commission research to inform their counter-speech efforts and work more with counter-terrorism experts.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism “will formalise and structure existing and future areas of collaboration between our companies and foster cooperation with smaller tech companies, civil society groups and academics, governments and supra-national bodies such as the EU and the UN,” the companies said in a statement.

 

Four Killed, Several Injured In Borno Suicide Bomb Attack

At least four people have been reported dead and several injured in a suicide bomb attack on Thursday at Amarwa community of Konduga Local Government Area of Borno.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the incident occurred at about 2 p.m. when a male suicide bomber infiltrated the village and detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) strapped to his body.

An eye witness, Bukar Fantai, told NAN that the bomber managed to sneak into the village disguising as a grain merchant. Fantai said that the insurgent first approached a shop keeper and offered sorghum for sale.

He said the terrorist, thereafter, went to a shade where many villagers gathered for relaxation and detonated the explosive.

“The suicide bomber detonated the IED, blew up himself, killing some, while 13 others sustained injuries in the explosion,” he said.

A competent security source confirmed the attack to NAN, saying that the wounded persons were referred to the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH) for treatment.

The source said that Police EOD and patrol teams had been deployed to sanitise the scene of the attack, adding that normalcy had been restored to the area.

Police and military authorities have yet to comment on the incident.

 

 

Terror Alert: No Cause For Alarm – FG

The Federal Government has assured of adequate security measures to thwart any possible terror attack in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and elsewhere around the country, saying there is no cause for alarm despite the latest travel advisories by some Western countries.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that security agencies have not let down their guard, despite the fact that there had been no terror attack in the FCT since the Buhari administration assumed office.

“We know that the terrorists, who have been massively degraded and put on the run, have been looking for soft targets to attack. This is the nature of terrorism all over the world, as can be seen in recent attacks in the UK, France and Egypt, among others.

“That is why the Nigerian security agencies have continued to be on the alert, even if their efforts have been largely unobtrusive so as not to disrupt the daily activities of the citizenry,” he said, adding: “Such efforts are routinely stepped up during religious festivals.”

Mohammed said the Federal Government would continue to take adequate measures to protect the lives and property of citizens and non-citizens alike, even as the military remained unrelenting in ensuring that the terrorists neither regroup nor regain the capacity to carry out organised attacks.

He said the Federal Government’s sensitisation campaign on security, with the punchline “if you see something, say something”, would be stepped up on national radio and television, and advised the citizens to be security conscious and to report suspicious people and objects to the security agencies.

 

Nigeria Remains One Of The Most Terrorised Nations In The World

A new global survey has mentioned Nigeria as the third most terrorized nations in the world.

The 2017 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) also reported that killing of innocent people by the Boko Haram insurgents in the North east has decreased by 80 per cent. According to the document, Nigeria got the same ranking in 2015 and 2016. It was ranked fourth in 2014.

The Global Terrorism Index, which is in its fifth edition, is published annually by an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank organisation, Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). It monitors and measures the impact of terrorism in 163 countries, which covers 99.7 per cent of the world’s population.

The report says Iraq and Afghanistan have not had their ranking changed in the past three years and the two countries are ranked first and second in the 2017 GTI.

Among the first 10 countries that suffered the greatest impact of terrorism in 2016, according to the report, are Syria, fourth; Pakistan, fifth; Yemen, sixth; and Somalia, seventh. India, Turkey, and Libya are ranked eighth, ninth and 10th.

The report reads in part: “Where terrorism deaths attributed to Boko Haram decreased by 80 per cent, Nigeria recorded the biggest decrease in terrorism with 3,100 fewer people killed compared to 2015.

“This reflects both the success of the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram as well as fractures within the group.

“Boko Haram’s decline also contributed to significant reductions in deaths in neighbouring countries with Cameroon, Chad and Niger collectively recording a 75 per cent reduction in deaths or over 1,000 fewer deaths.”

Boko Haram, which was the deadliest terrorist group in 2014, according to the report, and recorded 6,700 deaths, is now the third deadliest, with its total number of attributable deaths dropping to 1,079 in 2016.

The report says only one attack was recorded in Nigeria among the 20 most fatal terrorist attacks globally in 2016, compared to 2014 when nine of such attacks took place in the country. The attack was reported to have occurred in January 2016 in Dalori when assailants armed with firearms and explosive devices raided the village, killing 88 people.

Globally, according to the GTI, deaths resulting from terrorism decreased by 13 per cent to 25,673 in 2016. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was the deadliest terrorist group in 2016 killing 50 per cent compared to what it killed in 2015.

“The 2016 was the group’s deadliest year ever with ISIL accountable for 9,132 deaths; the majority of which occurred in Iraq. ISIL undertook attacks in 15 countries, which is four more than the previous year. ISIL affiliated groups killed a further 2,417 people and undertook attacks in another 11 countries, although this is six less than the previous year,” according to the report.

Boko Haram, the report says, does not have sophisticated financing structure, unlike ISIL, Al-Qa’ida and the Taliban.

“The group has historically relied on one time operations to fund its activities. Some of the most common fundraising techniques include abductions for ransoms, kidnapping, extortion of various businesses and bank robberies.

“Boko Haram has also been known to raise funds by utilising a network of alliances with other terror organisations, including receiving funding from Al-Qa’ida in the Land of Islamic Maghreb,” the report stated, adding that the group sometimes receive financial support from corrupt politicians and government officials.

 

Somalia Vows To Intensify Counter Terrorism Operations

Somalia on Tuesday has vowed to intensify military operations against Islamist State (IS) and Al-Shabaab militants to stabilise the Horn of Africa nation.

This came from the Information Minister Abdurahman Osman who said the government will use all available resources, including foreign military support from international partners, to flush out terrorists from Somalia.

“The government will continue the military operations, including the use of airstrikes, against Al-Shabaab in response to the cowardly attacks against civilians, as well as on Somali security forces and African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM),” Osman said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

AMISOM peacekeeping mission is operated by the AU with the approval of the UN Security Council.

Osman’s statement came after a series of airstrikes by the U.S. military in the Horn of Africa nation, which reportedly killed “several” IS and Al-Shabaab militants, in a joint operation with Somali forces.

The U.S. forces have vowed to continue using all authorized and appropriate measures to protect Americans and to disable terrorist threats.

Osman said all airstrikes and offensive operations taking place in Somalia are well planned and “our leaders sought assurances that in attempts to avoid civilian casualties, all necessary precautions are taken prior to every airstrike.”

The minister lauded the Somali people for their support to military operations against terrorists who have killed innocent people, including the Oct. 14 truck bomb attack that left at least 358 people dead.

“We cannot thank enough the support of our people for saying ‘enough is enough’ following the 14 October truck bomb attack in Mogadishu,” said Osman.

“Winning hearts and minds of our people is key to the success of counter terrorism in Somalia.

 

Operation Harbin Kunama II To Commence In Zamfara

Operation Harbin Kunama I was launched by Presient Muhammadu Buhari in Juky 2016 during which several armed bandits were killed. However, Dan-Ali disclosed this in Gusau while speaking to newsmen on counter-terrorism operations in the country, that the operation which is to commence by December.

 

 

The minister said that just like the military was carrying out Operation Awatse in the South-West and Operation Crocodile Smile II in the South-South, Harbin Kunama II would begin in the state in December.

 

 

He stated that different forms of anti terrorism operations under various army code names would continue to be carried out in all the geo-political zones of the country to seriously decimate terrorists and their activities.

 

 

He reiterated the ability of the Nigerian army to fully curtail terrorism in the country “so that people can continue to live in peace and enjoy the dividends of democracy.”

 

The minister, in company of the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, and the Officer Commanding Special Operations Command of the Nigerian Air Force, AVM Ismaila Kaita, were in the state for the inauguration of some completed projects at the 207 Quick Response Group of the Nigerian Air Force in Gusau.