Pakistan braces for unrest after assassin's execution

Pakistani authorities on Feb. 29 prepared for civil unrest after the execution of Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri in a high-security prison in Rawalpindi. Qadri was the convicted killer of a former governor of the Punjab province, Salmaan Taseer, who campaigned for changes to the country's blasphemy laws, asserting they were used to persecute religious minorities. Qadri, who served as Taseer's bodyguard at the time of the murder, later claimed it was his religious duty to kill the former governor. Authorities feared protests and potential violence after the execution because Qadri had gained the status of a political hero for some Islamist groups, who believe that the mere suggestion of political reform should amount to a capital crime. After Qadri's execution, security forces were put on high alert and there were riot police present around Qadri's residence.

Pakistani Taliban in university massacre

A suicide assault team from a faction of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan) launched an attack on Bacha Khan University in Charsadda district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Jan. 20, killing more than 20 students and faculty before security forces intervened to end the siege. Four jihadists dressed in military uniforms and armed with AK-47 rifles and suicide vests opened fire indiscriminately, but were killed before they could detonate their vests. The attack came as students were gathered for a poetry recital in honor of the independence hero for whom the school is named, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan or "Bacha Khan" by his popular honorific, also known as the "Frontier Gandhi"—an advocate of non-violence and opponent of India's partition. The school was likely targeted to oppose his legacy, as well as because it is co-educational.

Obama's seventh year: a World War 4 Report scorecard

World War 4 Report has been keeping a dispassionate record of Barack Obama's moves in dismantling, continuing and escalating (he has done all three) the oppressive apparatus of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) established by the Bush White House. This year, the stakes got much higher, with multiple foreign interventions in Syria and ISIS striking in Europe. On the night of Obama's 2016 State of the Union address, we offer the following annotated assessment of which moves over the past year have been on balance positive, neutral and negative, and arrive at an overall score:

Kashmir jihadis claim attack on India border base

A Kashmir-based militant coalition, the United Jihad Council, claimed responsibility for an attack on the Indian air force base at Pathankot, which has left five militants and seven soldiers dead in three days of fighting. The attack on Pathankot—in northern Punjab state, near the borders with both Jammu & Kashmir state and Pakistan—is seen as an attempt to derail recent peace moves by India and Pakistan. The attack came about a week after a surprise visit by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif—the first Islamabad visit by an Indian premier in 12 years.

Pakistan: anti-narco ops militarize tribal areas

Pakistan's Anti-Narcotic Force (ANF) on Nov. 20 announced the latest in a string of mega-scale hashish busts in recent months. A 4.2-ton haul was reported from a "desolate site" near the mountain village of Tehsil Gulistan, in Qilla Abdullah district of Balochistan province. Authorities said the mega-stash had been deposited along with a smaller quantity of heroin in a hidden spot behind bushes for traffickers to collect for export. (Pakistan Today)

Bangladesh: ISIS claims sectarian terror attack

ISIS has claimed responsibility for bombings that targeted Shi'ites in the Bangladesh capital Dhaka as they gathered for a procession marking the holy day of Ashura on Oct. 24. A 12-year-old boy was killed and more than 100 injured in the attack, said to be carried out with hurled improvised explosive devices. An Internet statement said "soldiers of the Caliphate in Bangladesh" attakced the "polytheist rituals," apparently marking a new ISIS franchise in the Indian subcontinent. Hours earlier, a suicide bomber killed at least 18 Shi'ites during Ashura celebrations at Jacobabad in Pakistan's Sindh province. That attack was claimed by militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. (BDNews24Al JazeeraRiyadh Vision, EuroNews, AFP, Oct. 24)

Pakistan upholds death in blasphemy killing

Pakistan's Supreme Court on Oct. 6 upheld the death sentence of Mumtaz Qadri, a former police guard respected within Pakistan for killing politician Salmaan Taseer over his support for a woman convicted of blasphemy. Taseer, governor of Punjar at the time of his death, was leaving a restaurant in January 2011 when he was shot and killed. Taseer had drawn ire from religious conservative groups when he took up the cause of a Christian woman sentenced to death for insulting the Prophet Muhammed. The next possible step for Qadri will be an appeal for a presidential pardon, which is unlikely to be granted. 

India: court finds 12 guilty in 2006 Mumbai attacks

An Indian anti-terror court on Sept. 11 convicted 12 men of various charges, including murder, in connection with the near-simultaneous bombings of seven trains in Mumbai in 2006. The men, ranging in age from late 20s to early 40s, are thought to have been members of the Students Islamic Movement of India. Prosecutors say the student organization joined with Pakistan-backed militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (National Counter-Terrorism Center profile) to carry out the attacks, allegations the Pakistani government denies. The two groups allegedly placed eight homemade bombs on the first-class cars of several trains and in one train station, and detonated the explosives within 15 minutes of one another, resulting in 189 deaths and more than 800 injuries. Although charges were filed against the men only four months after the attack, the case took several years to resolve due to difficulties in collecting evidence. Sentencing is expected this week, with prosecutors seeking the death penalty.

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