Saturday, August 03, 2013

3-Aug-13: Prison breaks and terror threats

Indonesian police secure entrance to burning prison
compound in Medan, July 11, 2013 [Image Source: CNN]
Following on from what we posted here Friday ["2-Aug-13: That war against "terrorism"? How well are we doing, exactly?"], Interpol issued an alert today advising its 190 members to step up vigilance in the wake of a wave of prison breaks involving hundreds of terrorists and other criminals in 9 countries which "may be linked". These took place (among other locations) in
  • Libya: More than 1,100 prisoners escaped from a facility on the outskirts of Benghazi on July 27 [NYTimes report] following a wave of political assassinations and attacks on political offices across the country
  • Iraq: An overnight jail-break on July 22 in which 500 convicts, including senior al Qaeda terrorists, escaped from Abu Ghraib [NPR report]
  • Iraq: Also July 22, Taji prison, north of Baghdad, was attacked by forces of The Islamic State of Iraq, the umbrella group for al-Qaeda in Iraq [Al Jazeera report] with numerous deaths and many prisoners freed
  • Pakistan: A high quality military-style operation on July 31 in which, says NPR, Taliban forces numbering around 100 (or the Tehrik-e-Taliban, a Pakistani affiliate of al-Qaeda, according to RT) armed with explosives and automatic weapons attacked the central prison in the city of Dera Ismail Khan freeing (depending on who is to be believed) between 175 and 300 prisoners, among them 35 "high-profile militants". Al Jazeera correspondent Imtiaz Tyab, reporting from Islamabad, said that the infiltrators "were using loudspeakers and calling the individual names of inmates to come out of the badly damaged prison." Ahead of the prison break, officials received a letter threatening such action, but according to the head of the local prison department Khalid Abbas, "they didn't expect it so soon."
  • Indonesia: BBC says 100 prisoners escaped (while CNN says "hundreds") on July 12 from Tanjung Gusta prison in Medan, Sumatra. Nine of them are reported to be terrorists.
Reuters says the Interpol warning refers to the anniversaries of several violent attacks over the past years during the coming month, including in Mumbai and Nairobi. Though they don't mention it, August 9 is the twelfth anniversary of Hamas' showcase attack on the Sbarro restaurant in central Jerusalem.

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