Gunman attacks Saudi royal palace in Jeddah

A gunman has attacked the Saudi royal palace in Jeddah, killing two guards and injuring three others. The attacker was killed.

Saudi-Arabien Konigspalast in Dschidda (Imago/Alexander Shcherbak)

Two royal guards were shot dead and three others were wounded on Saturday when a gunman opened fire outside the Saudi royal palace in Jeddah, the interior ministry said.

Guards killed the gunman, who was identified as 28-year-old Saudi national Mansour al-Amri.

“An outpost of the royal guard came under fire by a person who got out of a Hyundai car,” the interior ministry said in a statement run by state media. “He was immediately dealt with and his cowardly act also resulted in the martyrdom” of two guards, it added.

A Kalashnikov assault rifle and three Molotov cocktails were found on the attacker.

The royal palace in Jeddah is used for official business during the summer. Saudi King Salman is currently on a state visit to Russia. The whereabouts of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are unknown.

IS steps up attacks

The kingdom has been the target of several attacks carried out by the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) group this year. Most attacks have targeted security forces and the country’s Shiite minority.

The attack comes after Saudi security forces on Thursday conducted raids an a suspected IS cell, killing two suspected militants and arresting five others.

Last month, Saudi officials said they had disrupted an IS plot to carry out an attack on the defense ministry in the capital Riyadh.

In June, security forces foiled a plot to blow up the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.

cw/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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New beginning for failed state Somalia?

Under the Trump administration, the US has significantly amped up military engagement in Somalia. Special forces are fighting alongside Somali soldiers to defeat terror organization al-Shabab. Sandra Petersmann reports.

Destroyed house in Mogadishu (photo: DW/S. Petersmann)

Foreign soldiers, gunshots, explosions, air strikes – when refugees from Bariire talk about what they’ve experienced, they are unable to name exact dates. Days and events blur together as emotions run high.

They are afraid – of both sides, they say. Marian is now a widow and mother to seven children who have lost their father. When fighting in Bariire stopped, Marian found her husband’s body – bloody and riddled with bullets – dumped on a field. She can’t say who shot him or when he was killed.

Marian and others who fled the fighting are now sitting on the dusty streets of a refugee camp in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. The farmers fled their homes in Bariire, a town in the embattled region of Lower Shabelle in Somalia’s south, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Mogadishu.

Read more: What makes young African Muslims join jihadi groups?

Not long ago, Bariire was considered a stronghold of the Islamist al-Shabab militia that’s joined al-Qaeda in the fight for a caliphate.

Marian in Mogadishu's refugee camp (DW/S. Petersmann)Marian’s husband died and she now has to take care of her seven children on her own

But on August 20, African Union (AU) troops and Somali soldiers managed to retake Bariire’s city center. The AU has deployed some 22,000 soldiers in Somalia to fight against al-Shabab. Unconfirmed eyewitness reports say US soldiers also helped recapture the city.

What happened in Bariire?

A few days later, on August 25, there was another military operation – a raid on a farm in the early morning hours. Ten civilians lost their lives – among them were three boys aged eight to ten years.

The Somalian government initially denied civilians had been killed, but later corrected this statement. Relatives took the dead bodies all the way to Mogadishu in protest. Army chief General Ahmed Mohamed Jimale Irfid said they initially mistook the killed farmers for al-Shabab fighters due to it being dark in the early morning hours.

The US Africa Command based in Stuttgart, Germany, immediately issued a response on August 25.

“We are aware of the civilian casualty allegations near Bariire, Somalia. We take any allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and per standard, we are conducting an assessment into the situation to determine the facts on the ground,” the statement read.

“We can confirm that the Somali National Army was conducting an operation in the area with US forces in a supporting role.”

Since then, no other details have been shared with the public. According to Somalian media reports, the clan of the killed farmers has received compensation payments.

Rebuilding a failed state

Somalia has been driven by war since 1991. The state disintegrated, with the country’s most powerful clans filling the void.

Watch video03:30

The battle for survival in Somalia

The country on the Horn of Africa now wants to build new federal structures with international help.

Since December of last year, there is a new parliament; since February of this year the country has a new president.

In both rounds of voting, the big Somalian clans were also vying for power – a lot of cash was handed out.

Still, the result can be considered a massive improvement, according to Michael Keating, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia.

Marred by corruption and intimidation, but still legitimate

“It was an electoral process which was also marked by corrupt practices and intimidation. But the amazing thing is that the result was received as legitimate both by both the Somali population as well as the international community”, Keating told DW.

Especially President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who holds both Somalian and US citizenship, enjoys people’s trust. He is a refugee himself who returned to the country and now lobbies for additional military support, investment and direct financial aid for his government. Right off the Somalian coast are oil reserves waiting to be tapped.

“The peace and stability in Mogadishu and Somalia is the peace and stability for the whole world. Somalia is a test case where we can show to the world that you can defeat terrorism,” Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman told DW. He moved back to Somalia from London.

These days, many people from the Somalian diaspora are daring to return to their home country.

Children on a ride in Mogadishu's peace park (photo: DW/S. Petersmann)Optimism is palpable in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu – children are enjoying a ride in the city’s peace park

This spirit of optimism is palpable in the Somalian capital – countless construction sites and new streets, cafés and shops attest to that. Foreign diplomats, advisers and volunteers are pouring into the country. New embassies are being built.

But most foreigners still barricade themselves behind high protective walls that have been put up around the airport. Car bombs, suicide attackers and abductions are still part of Somalian daily life.

“The challenge is: how do we work together to help the Somalis sort out their own problems on their own terms and not try and impose our own solutions because we are in a hurry, or because we need certain things done,” said Keating. “You have to be very respectful of Somali culture and politics.”

Lessons learnt from Bariire?

But the unresolved case of the ten civilians who were killed in Bariire shows just how complicated the process of building a nation truly is. The region of Lower Shabelle isn’t just a stronghold of al-Shabab, but also home to rival clans with access to weapons. The drought at the Horn of Africa has exacerbated conflicts over water and land. It’s hard to distinguish between civilians and extremists.

Who was the source of information that led to military operations in the early morning hours in Bariire on August 25? Who checked the information? The US has only “a few dozen soldiers” in the country, according to their own account – that means they rely on Somalian sources for military reconnaissance.

Security sources say it’s possible that one clan accused the other of fighting for al-Shabab. Chances are US forces, alongside Somali soldiers, have been dragged into a local conflict in Bariire.

Al-Shabab exploits fears

Somalia Al-Shabaab Kämpfer (picture alliance/AP Photo/M. Sheikh Nor)Al-Shabab fighters in Mogadishu (file photo, October 2009)

In March, US President Donald Trump gave the US military more power to carry out anti-terror operations in Somalia. Since then, there have been at least 13 missions with US participation – three ground strikes and 10 airstrikes.

According to Keating, military pressure needs to be exerted. But “global experience suggests you can’t defeat an insurgency purely by military means,” he said, adding that justice and creating opportunities were just as important. Somalia, he said, was full of unresolved conflicts.

A former al-Shabab member from Lower Shabelle, who has since left the group, told DW the extremists were exploiting local conflicts to attack the state. “The people here don’t trust the government,” he said. “In the areas controlled by al-Shabab, people fear the military will loot and rape – and al-Shabab has become skilled at tapping into those fears.”

Military operations such as the one in Bariire could help drive new recruits into the arms of al-Shabab.

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UN: France anti-terror draft law would affect civil liberties

UN human rights experts have warned France that the planned legislation could have “grave consequences” for civil liberties. They fear a permanent state of emergency.

Soldiers patrolling in Nice (Reuters/E. Gaillard)

The UN’s Human Rights Office has expressed concern about a French draft law that translates as a “bill to strengthen internal security and the fight against terrorism.”

It could affect people’s “right to liberty and security, the right to access to court, freedom of movement, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief,” according to a statement by two UN human rights rapporteurs, Fionnuala Ni Aolain and Michel Frost.

France: “The normalization of emergency powers has grave consequences for integrity of rights protection” @NiAolainFhttp://ow.ly/xbLD30fsAzZ 

Read more: Macron:Fighting Islamist terror France’s top priority

The draft law, which was passed by the senate and is now being debated in the National Assembly, would incorporate temporary measures granted to authorities in a state of emergency into ordinary law.

‘Vague wording’

In the statement, the two UN experts criticize the “vague wording” of the bill, which they say does not define terrorism nor the threats to national security sufficiently well. Ni Aolain and Frost are also worried that Muslims may face “discriminatory repercussions.”

They argue that a government’s options for cracking down on terrorism are “limited by its compliance with international human rights standards.”

That means that a state of emergency must be proportionate and have a time limit, according to the statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron argues that the law is necessary to combat terrorism and foil further plots once a state of emergency imposed in 2015 expires.

Watch video00:28

France marks one year since Nice terror attack

 

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‘Islamic State’: Will it survive a post-caliphate future?

Losing ground in its power base in the Middle East, the “Islamic State” militant group’s future appears as open as ever. DW spoke to counter-terrorism experts and scholars to discuss the likelihood of its survival.

Islamic State militants celebrate after commandeering an Iraqi military vehicle in Fallujah in 2014

“I announce from here the end, the failure and the collapse of the state of falsehood and terrorism, which the ‘Islamic State’ declared from Mosul,” said Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi after a months-long campaign to drive the militant group from the strategic city.

While the devastating military campaign to liberate Mosul from the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) militant group proved successful, it has yet to spell the end for a band of militants that rallied together in 2006 and, a decade later, transformed into a global phenomenon.

In the wake of the victory in Mosul, international efforts have shifted to uprooting the militant group from its Syrian bastion in Raqqa. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led alliance of homegrown combatants, have made gains in the battle for Raqqa, but hundreds if not thousands of fighters have managed to flee towards the Syrian-Iraqi border and elsewhere outside the region.

The militant group rose to notoriety in June 2014, when it launched a vicious military campaign and captured large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, culminating in the occupation of Mosul. By the end of the month, the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the establishment of a worldwide caliphate from the historic Great Mosque of Mosul.

“In my view, IS is at heart an Iraqi organization, so its defeat in Iraq will break its back, even if remnants continue here and there, or if violent individuals or groups in non-Arab countries use its name,” Yezid Sayigh, senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center told DW, referring to the group by an alternative acronym.

Map showing IS-controlled areas

‘Decentralized jihad’

Despite its losses, the militant group continues to hold ground in parts of Iraq and Syria, especially near the border region. Tomas Olivier, counterterrorism and intelligence manager at the Netherlands-based Twickelerveld Intelligence and Investigations, told DW that even in the face of open conflict in Iraq and Syria, IS has managed to export its operational branches outside of the region to places in North Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia and Eastern and Western Africa.

“The most disturbing fact about the current IS organization is their flexibility in response, even after defeat, in which they apparently managed to establish a series of operational hubs throughout the Western hemisphere with the proven capability to – in military terms – strike ‘on demand’ or based on ideological motivation,” Olivier said.

The former senior officer at the Dutch defense ministry added that while monitoring the group’s latest online activity, he witnessed an increase in disconcerting messaging to commit attacks against the “crusaders” by any means necessary.

“IS is promoting a decentralized jihad with specific attention to lone wolf attacks in the West and against coalition targets throughout the world, from the streets of Manchester to Marawi in the Philippines,” Olivier said.

The prospect of criminality

In the wake of the militant group’s rise in 2014, more than 5,000 European nationals traveled to the Middle East to fight alongside IS. With the loss of territory in the region, international authorities have warned of the potential fallout of foreign fighters returning to their home countries in Europe and elsewhere.

A study published last year by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence at King’s College in London showed that roughly half of all European foreign fighters had a criminal record prior to radicalization.

In its May issue, the IS magazine “Rumiyah” showcased terror tactics for supporters, calling on them to acquire weapons to commit attacks “by means of gun dealers and underground criminal networks – for those capable of attaining those connections.” The article showed the group’s willingness to use networks beyond its conventional or religious ones.

In fact, many of the militant group’s members who committed attacks in Europe had a history of petty crime, including Berlin attack suspect Anis Amri and Salah Abdeslam, who handled logistics for the deadly 2015 Paris attacks.

Ian Oxnevad, a Middle East scholar at the University of California, Riverside, told DW that one counter-terrorism strategy to tackle the problem of returning foreign fighters is pushing them towards criminal activity by clamping down on their financial networks.

“For example, if you have former fighters with ISIS in a cell in northern Italy, but all the money they’re using to sponsor terrorism isn’t integrated into the financial system, they have to be able to maintain that funding. So they may turn to crime,” Oxnevad said.

“If they’re committing burglaries, bank robberies or black market auto parts trading, it increases their likelihood of being arrested as opposed to accepting donations.”

Watch video25:59

Europol’s Rob Wainwright | Conflict Zone

Ideology without end

While the prospect of IS’ military defeat in Iraq and Syria has raised hopes for the militant group’s end, the ideas that propelled it to notoriety continue to be accessible via social networks, digital repositories and online archives.

Oxnevad noted that even if the group is “gone off a map,” that doesn’t mean the ideology that propagates such extremism will cease to exist, especially given the statehood declaration made by al-Baghdadi in Mosul.

“You see it with neo-Nazi groups and the Third Reich, certain people in the American South and the Confederacy. Presumably you see the same thing in Russia with the Soviet Union,” Oxnevad said.

“You have the idea of recapturing something that was lost, or at least recreating it. That is something that the world will just have to safeguard against in anyway possible.”

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Terror attacks leave Barcelona and Madrid at odds, as ever

Terrorism tends to bring together nations. Not so in Spain, where the Barcelona attacks have exposed the central government at loggerheads with Catalonia over their drive for independence. Hagar Jobse reports.

Demonstrators for an independent Catalonia hold up a sign shaped like handcuffs that reads Spanish democracy

“When will the solidarity march with Barcelonatake place in Madrid?” This comment, tweeted on Tuesday by Barcelona resident Alex Montes, 37, has been retweeted over a thousand times as it strikes a chord among Catalans and Spaniards from other parts of the country. “Do not turn this tragedy into a political discussion,” one person replied. Others said that the past few days had shown that Spain and Catalonia are disconnected from each other as if they were two separate states.

Para cuándo la manifestación masiva en Madrid por los atentados en Barcelona?Aquí para el 11M salimos 1,5 millones a la calle.

Montes says his tweet was meant to address the alleged lack of support from the government in Madrid to the city of Barcelona in the wake of last week’s attacks in the Catalan capital. “After the terror attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004, one and a half million people came together in the streets of Barcelona to march against terrorism and show their solidarity with the Spanish capital. On Saturday there will be a massive march in Barcelona against terrorism. You might expect a similar protest would take place in Madrid, right? But no, so far nothing has been organized.”

‘Resilient Barcelona’ stands up against fear

Watch video03:51

Terror in Barcelona

After the August 17 Barcelona attacks, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy called for unity across the country. But so far, it is in short supply. On the contrary, the attacks have made it painfully clear how serious the tensions are between Spain’s central government and the region of Catalonia.

For years the Spanish and the Catalonian governments have been in conflict over the question of Catalonian independence. The region, in which the Catalan language is widely spoken, already enjoys extensive autonomy in education, health care and policing. A substantial number of Catalans want to see their region acquire even greater autonomy by becoming an independent nation. Catalonia is Spain’s wealthiest region; it accounts for 18.8 percent of Spain’s national GDP. There is a widespread feeling among Catalonians that the Spanish government takes more from their region than it returns – a sentiment which has intensified since the severe economic crisis that hit Spain in 2008.

‘Abandoned by Madrid’

Tensions between Madrid and Catalonia’s pro-independence government have become even greater since December 2016, when Catalan Prime Minister Carles Puigdemont announced that a referendum on independence would be held on October 1, 2017. The Catalan government insists the referendum will be legally binding, while Spanish government has already declared it illegal.

Catalonia’s Islamic extremism problem

Montes, born in Barcelona to a Belgian mother and Andalusian father, was raised in a Spanish-speaking family and never learned to speak Catalan. Even so, he has been a supporter of the independence cause for several years. He says that, like him, many Catalans feel abandoned by the Spanish state. “Catalonia does not profit from being part of Spain at all. Very little public money is invested in this region. It feels like the Spanish state does not care about us.”

In the wake of the attacks, several Spanish politicians have stressed the importance of putting political differences aside. When Rajoy and Puigdemont made a joint appearance before the press last Friday, for a moment it seemed as if they would be able to do so. Rajoy declared that Madrid and Catalonia would work closely to fight terrorism, while Puigdemont thanked the prime minister for being present at the emergency meeting in Barcelona.

A woman holds a sign reading: Barcelona stands united against terrorismBarcelona may be united, but the rest of the country isn’t necessarily united with it

But later in the day Puigdemont declared that the tragedy would not change anything when it came to about Catalonia’s fight for independence. When the names of the first victims were announced during the night, Catalonia’s regional interior minister Joaquim Forn distinguished between the Catalan and Spanish victims as if they were of different nationalities.

Catalonian independence rears its head again

Moreover, the three days of national mourning Rajoy announced after the attacks went unnoticed in large parts of the country. “In August there are always many local festivities in different parts of Spain,” Montes says. They all continued after Thursday, while after the Madrid attacks of 2004 the whole country was paralyzed for days.”

Public discord

Spanish King Felipe VI is expected to be among the thousands of people attending Saturday’s anti-terrorism march in Barcelona. Rather than becoming an opportunity for Spaniards to unite against terrorism, the march is already being appropriated to fuel the independence debate. The radical leftist pro-independence party CUP has said it will stay away as long as the king is present. Many Catalan separatists reject the royal family, which they associate with the idea of a centralized Spain and incompatible with the independence of Catalonia.

King Felipe stands next to his wife and two daughters as he opens parliamentSome Catalans see the king, as a representative of Spain, as a problem

Although the country’s intelligence services have an excellent reputation for foiling terrorism plots and arresting alleged jihadists, it has become apparent that they have botched cooperation with the Catalan police. Last Saturday, for example, Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido announced the terrorist cell that carried out the attacks had been dismantled, contradicting information from Catalonia’s police force. Regional Interior Minister Forn corrected him, pointing out that according to Catalonia’s regional police force, which was leading the investigation, the suspected driver of the van that rammed into crowds on Las Ramblas was still at large. Catalonia has also accused the central government of not providing enough access to information from CITCO, the Spanish intelligence agency tasked with preventing domestic terrorism and organized crime.

Catalonia, for its part, may have ignored a December 2016 letter from the Spanish security forces that advised the regional authorities to introduce additional security measures in frequently visited spots in Barcelona.

Barcelona revolts against those pesky tourists

The strain between Barcelona and Madrid over independence could lead to serious problems in the future, says terrorism expert Carlos Igualada. “Because of the current tensions, it has become really difficult for the two governments to have a meaningful dialogue on issues like security. Effective cooperation between national and local security forces is essential when it comes to preventing attacks like the one in Barcelona. Apart from the Spanish enclaves Ceuta and Melilla, most Spain-based jihadists are from the Catalonia region.”

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Terrorism and Food Security: The Looming man-made Famine in Nigeria

 

With the end of the ongoing war with Boko Haram still nowhere in sight, the least the world expects of Nigerian leaders is to maintain a united front with a view to ensuring that the developmental objectives of the economy remains on track. Recent developments, especially as it affects food security in this embattled West African nation, may tend towards a man-made famine situation, if everything possible is not done to halt that tendency.

For about the third year now, a new face of terror has swept through the length and breadth of Nigeria; especially the middle-belt area, consisting of Benue and Plateau states, and the Eastern, Western and South-South states of Cross River, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Edo states.

Photo published for Fulani herdsman sentenced to 2 years imprisonment in Ekiti » YNaija

Known variously as the ‘’Janjaweed’’ militia, ‘’the sons of Futa Jalon’’, and ‘’Fulani herdsmen’’ by most Nigerians, these herdsmen who drive their cattle all the way from the Savannah north to the middle-belt and southern states where lush green grass for cattle can be found, are a new brand of cattle breeders who are armed with AK 47 rifles, and who go about pillaging, raping, killing and destroying whole villages and farms under the pretext that farmers resist their access to grass (feed) for their cattle.

There were stirrings of what was about to come during the electioneering period of 2014-2015, before the Presidential election which ushered in the government of General Muhammadu Buhari. Initially, skirmishes between farmers and cattle herdsmen were limited to the Benue/Plateau area where the Fulani settlers had been on the necks of the indigenous people, intent on taking over their land, resulting in deaths and destruction of properties, and at times, whole villages.  All this while, grazing in most of the southern states were restricted to the highways beyond villages, and there were no reasons whatsoever for clashes. The problem, for most southerners got closer home just before the advent of the Buhari administration; clashes ensued; people were slaughtered as they tried to resist the armed Fulani herdsmen.

With the advent of the Buhari government, the problem degenerated into something worse; the Obi of Ubulu-Ukwu in Aniocha-North local government area was abducted and killed by some Fulani herdsmen who had invaded in the guise of finding food for their cattle. In the Western Yoruba area, Fulani militant herdsmen invaded the farm of former Secretary of the Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae, killed some of his farmhands, and abducted him. It took the intervention of agents of the Federal government before he was released.

From Enugu state in the east, to the farthest flung villages in the west, nowhere is sacrosanct to the Fulani herdsmen; they stampede their cattle from place to place; trampling and pillaging as they move through schools, villages, and what have you, and any resistance was silenced with shots from ready rifles and machetes. Along the roads to Abuja from both the East and the West, the said Fulani herdsmen wreak havoc; using their cattle to block the highway, and then killing and pillaging passengers of vehicles who were forced to stop.

 

This reporter had a personal experience of what is going on all over the country; which our leaders have preferred to ignore by playing the ostrich. I travelled to my village in Delta State for the funeral obsequies of a prominent son of the village in January, and took some time to visit my undeveloped land. In place of the economic and plantain trees we had spent some funds planting over time, what I saw was plain wasteland. In addition, I observed that the whole area had been subjected to rampant burning; the whole swath of land, as far as the eye could see, was similarly burnt. I was later meant to understand that those herdsmen deliberately set fire to whole lands; farmsteads in which farmers left standing, dry okra, maize, yam and other plants that were meant to be seed for the next planting season; for purposes of ensuring that grass/weed would grow in their stead unhindered on such land, for their cattle, and that trapped and burnt animals like rabbits, antelopes etc. would become ready source of meat for them.

As I shook my head in unbelief at the carnage on my land which stared me in the face, and started the long walk to the remnant of the once tarred road which connected my town to the next town, I felt a prompting to take one last look at the land, and that was the exact time these all-white herd of cattle came into view, ghost-like as they entered into and marched through my land. I beat a hasty retreat for fear of becoming part of the murderous Janjaweed militants’ statistics.

By the time I got back to the village and narrated what I encountered, I was heralded with tales of rapes, shootings and slaughter which had gone on all over the place. It was unbelievable that such atrocities could be allowed to go on in any country in the 21st Century. In most towns and villages I learnt, no one goes to farm alone anymore; women were routinely raped when alone and even in pairs without male company, and men were simply shot for no reason whatsoever. It is simply shameful. It was while I was ruminating on the implications of all I had seen and heard that I saw the following video on the menace Fulani herdsmen and their cattle have become in Edo State.

 

video

It was while thinking about the implications on food security for the economy, of the actions of the Fulani herdsmen that it dawned on me that we are most likely, as a nation, heading towards a period of prolonged famine. The situation was made worse by the fact that firstly, our own Federal Government, to all intents and purposes, seems to be ranking the interest of those armed herdsmen, most of whom are non-Nigerians above the interest of bona fide Nigerians. Secondly, and in retrospect, it would seem that the armed cattlemen are merely acting out a script. How come, one must ask, hasn’t the government devised a way to disarm those cattle bandits who are armed with assault rifles illegally?

Secondly, as anyone who is interested in what is currently happening in Nigeria would know, the problem of the Fulani herdsmen has led to the writing of the National Grazing Reserve Council Bill. From a post authored by one Dr. Austin Monye, the would-be Law seeks to create a council to be chaired by a chairman to be appointed by the President. The council shall have the power to appropriate any land anywhere within Nigeria and pay whatever compensation it deems fit; not the value of the land.

The appropriated land shall be assigned to herdsmen who shall use same for grazing purposes. If the former owner of the appropriated land wishes to challenge the appropriation; if he feels that the council wrongly appropriated his land, then he could go to court to challenge the said appropriation. Before he goes to court, the appropriated must first of all notify the Federal Attorney General who must consent to the action before the appropriated can sue. If the Attorney General refuses to give his consent, the appropriated has lost his land forever. When passed, the law shall apply to every parcel of land in Nigeria, making it superior to the Land Use Act.

Moreover, in order to be entitled to any form of compensation, one must have and present proof of ownership such as survey plan, Deed of Ownership, Deed of Conveyance, etc.

According to Dr. Monye, ”that Bill is a deliberate attempt to take our lands and hand them over to to Fulani cattlemen since only the Fulanis rear cattle in Nigeria. That law, when passed, shall fulfil the directive of Uthman Dan Fodio and other northern leaders to take over other parts of Nigeria.”

He concluded: ”That law will destroy Nigeria. All over the world, ranches are established and used to rear cattle. The farmers buy land and put their cattle there. There is no country where the land of citizens are compulsorily acquired for the purposes of cattle grazing, and given free of any charge to the rich cattle owners. This is evil, and designed to favour the Fulanis where the President comes from. We must resist the passage of that bill into law to save Nigeria, and to protect our future generations. We must defend our land and protect our children.”

 

 

 

 

Brussels attacker: Bomb making materials found in home

Belgium’s prosecutor says the man behind a bombing at Brussels central station may have supported the “Islamic State” extremist group. Investigators also found materials used to make explosives in the 36-year-old’s home.

Belgian police outside a house in Brussels

Police who raided the suspect’s home found “possible chemical substances and materials were found that could serve to make explosives,” Belgian federal prosecutor’s spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt said Wednesday.

The Moroccan national, identified by the initials O.Z., was shot dead by a soldier at Brussels main train station on Tuesday after trying to detonate a nail bomb.

“The preliminary results of the search carried out in the residence of the suspect O.Z. in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, showed that he probably made the bomb there,” Van Der Sypt said in a statement.

Investigators said they also found indications that the suspect had “sympathies for the terrorist organization IS.”

Brussels on alert 

Belgian will keep its current terror alert level at three on a scale of four, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Wednesday.

Nevertheless, added security forces will be deployed across the country. Authorities also said that no events would be canceled, but warned those planning to attend not to carry backpacks with them.

Watch video03:15

Brussels explosion – DW’s Max Hofmann reports

Security will be particularly beefed up at the 50,000-seat King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, where British rock band Coldplay is scheduled perform later on Wednesday.

Michel chaired a meeting of the National Security Council on Wednesday morning, after which he reported that authorities have no information suggesting further attacks are imminent.

Following the meeting, he tweeted: “We will not let ourselves be intimidated by terrorism. We will always defend our values of liberty and democracy.”

Brussels central station remained shut overnight, re-opening at around 8 a.m. local time (0600 UTC) on Wednesday.

Brussels has been on high alert since a group of suicide bombers carried out attacks at the Brussels airport and a subway station in March last year, killing 32 people.

Attacker details coming to light

Belgian media reported that the assailant lived in the largely immigrant Brussels neighborhood of Molenbeek, a home and transit point for a number jihadis who carried out terror attacks in Brussels and Paris last year.

Read more: Molenbeek: Kicking away terror

Belgian authorities have carried out a host raids in the area over the past year.

Watch video00:31

Brussels suspect dies after ‘terror’ blast

Assailant used nail bomb in attack

Authorities revealed that the attacker detonated a suitcase containing nails and gas bottles. The passenger approached a group of around passengers at the station before grabbing his suitcase and causing a “partial explosion,” Van Der Sypt said.

“Fortunately nobody was hurt,” he added. “It could have been much worse. It is clear that he wanted to cause more damage than he did.”

The man left his luggage before it exploded a second time. He then charged at a soldier at the scene while screaming  “Allahu Akbar” (God is great). The soldier opened fire, killing the suspect.

Earlier reports had claimed that the attacker had worn an explosive belt, although those claims were dismissed.

dm/sms (AFP, dpa, AP)

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