Daesh’s footprint spreading in northern Somalia, warns UN

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Updated 08 November 2017
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Daesh’s footprint spreading in northern Somalia, warns UN

NAIROBI: A militant faction loyal to Daesh has increased its following in northern Somalia from a few dozen last year to up to 200 this year, a UN report said, days after the group came under US air attack for the first time.
The increase in strength of the terrorist group has attracted attention because some security officials fear it could offer a safe haven for Daesh militants fleeing military defeat in Syria or Iraq.
“The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) faction loyal to Sheikh Abdulqader Mumin — estimated...in 2016 to number not more than a few dozen..., has growing significantly in strength, and (now) consists of as many as 200 fighters,” said the report by a panel of UN experts obtained by Reuters.
“Even a few hundred armed fighters could destabilize the whole region,” said a regional diplomatic security source. “It is a recognition from the US that the situation in terms of the (Daesh) faction in Puntland is becoming increasingly critical.”
Somalia has been riven by civil war and militancy, though more in the south than in the north where the Puntland region is located, since 1991 when clan warlords overthrew a dictator before turning on each other.
Friday’s air strikes failed to kill Mumin, the security source said. But Abdirizak Ise Hussein, director of semi-autonomous Puntland’s spy service, said the strikes killed about 20 militants, including three Arabs.
Almost all Mumin’s fighters are Somali, the UN report said, though the group is believed to include a Sudanese man sanctioned by the US. The group also has contacts in Yemen. It was unclear if the Sudanese man under US sanctions was the same one reported killed in the airstrike.
“The number of Daesh fighters in Puntland has increased. Mostly they come from southern Somalia and a few, including foreigners, come from Yemen,” Col. Abdirahman Saiid, a military officer in Puntland, told Reuters.


Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

Ali Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper. (Supplied)
Updated 15 November 2018
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Another Turkish journalist jailed over Gulen links

  • About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial

ISTANBUL: A court sentenced Turkish journalist Ali Unal to 19 years in jail on Wednesday on a charge of being a leader in the network accused of carrying out a failed coup in July 2016, the state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.
The ruling followed a sustained crackdown in the wake of the coup attempt, but also came amid steps by the government that appear aimed at improving ties with the US and Europe, strained by the sweeping campaign of arrests.
Unal was chief writer at the now-defunct Zaman newspaper, widely seen as the flagship media outlet for the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara says orchestrated the attempted putsch. Gulen denies any involvement.
Speaking by video link from jail to the court in the western province of Usak, Unal denied being a founder or leader of the network and denied involvement in the putsch, Anadolu said.
“I have no link with any terrorist organization,” he said, adding that he had spoken five or six times to Gulen and that he was being tried over his writing.
He was sentenced to 19 years and six months for “leading an armed terrorist group.” Six other Zaman journalists were convicted on similar charges in July.
About 250 people were killed in the coup attempt and in the subsequent crackdown, Turkey jailed 77,000 people pending trial. Authorities also sacked or suspended 150,000 civil servants and military personnel and shut down dozens of media outlets.Illustrating the scale of its actions, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Wednesday his ministry had dismissed 23 percent of its career personnel over links to Gulen.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said some journalists helped nurture terrorists with their writing, and that the crackdown is needed to ensure stability in a NATO member bordering Syria, Iraq and Iran. Critics say Erdogan has used the crackdown to muzzle dissent and increase his own power. The European Union, which Turkey aspires to join, has also criticized the crackdown. The verdict came a day after another court threw out the conviction of former Wall Street Journal reporter Ayla Albayrak, annulling a verdict sentencing her to two years in prison in absentia on charges of carrying out propaganda for Kurdish militants.