Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kidnapping in Cameroon.... Leading Analysis

Cameroon: A family of seven French tourists was kidnapped at gunpoint near Waza National Park by Nigerian Islamic extremists. 

There hasn’t been a direct claim on the attack and consequently no ransom has yet been demanded. Therefore, the authorities have found it difficult to be sure that the abduction in Cameroon had a political dimension, linked to the threats made by Islamic extremist groups before the French intervention in Mali. Nevertheless, it is suspected that  Boko Haram is behind the abduction. 

Unity Analysis: Waza is in a remote part of Cameroon where the poorly secured borders are porous and criminal and terrorist groups are able to operate freely. This abduction has fuelled fears that Western civilians living and working in parts of Africa are becoming specific targets of Islamist militant groups. Altogether, 15 French citizens are now being held by various groups in the region, 7 in the Sahel and 1 in Nigeria. 6 of them by groups aligned with AQIM. Some 6,000 French citizens live in Cameroon. 

For more information...... 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Domino Theory into Tunisia? [..... what might be next !?]

Our initial assessment is as follows:

Western governments and the wider international community are cognisant of the growing threat of militancy across North Africa. Last month's hostage crisis in Algeria was an ominous preview of threats facing the international community in the region.

AQIM have branched out, helped along by porous border areas, ungoverned spaces and the domino collapse of Middle East and North African governments.

Present day we are very aware of the growing unrest in Tunisia and hard lessons learnt from Libya and Syria. In the city of Tunis, the movement of radicalised Salafists are gaining traction and thus attempting to create problems for Hamadi Jebali's transitional government. Clan based violence is on the rise. Demonstrations have turned violent and have been suppressed by the heavy-handedness of a security apparatus that are not quite under government control.

Rewind also to September last year when angry demonstrators attacked an American school in Tunis, and then targeted the US Embassy before being repelled by security forces. Anti-western sentiment is high in the country and taking on an increasingly Islamic and violent form. This downward spiral in events will undoubtedly reflect the nervousness of western actors projecting forward in the country.

More triggers:
- lack of a constitution
- referendum on the the complete absence of a draft
- elections scheduled for June

Unity are providing further advice: please email

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Third successive day of suicide bombings in Iraq

For a third successive day Iraq has played witness to a suicide bombing that has targeted the security forces and prison facilities close to the capital and in the north of the country. According to the Ministry of Justice and a number of Iraqi media sources, all three attacks have been linked to attempted jailbreaks. The initial bombing, which targeted the Kirkuk provincial police HQ, was much more conspicuous in this regard.

It seems obvious that these attacks have been carried out by AQI or affiliated groups. But why the recent trend in prison attacks. The answer may lie in Iraq’s use of the death penalty. Looking back at a report from October 2012, Iraq had executed 119 people in the last quarter of the year. Present day and western media report that 91 people have been executed since the start of the year – 88 men and 3 women, and this is only the second month of 2013.

The United Nations Secretary General has personally called on Iraq to put in place a moratorium on executions but PM Maliki has personally rejected it.

Iraq’s recent prison breaks have often been tied to executions. With a high percentage of the Sunni demographic feeling victimized by PM Maliki’s heavy-handed approach to mass arrest operations and the poor system of justice, AQI and other groups have set out to exploit this negative balance in the social equilibrium, and win backing from the more radicalized in society. With demonstrations currently taking a nonviolent approach, one might deduce that this strategy may be an alternative means to targeting the Shiite government whilst building on the support of the Sunni disaffected.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kidnapping of Eritreans in Sudan

Eritrea/Sudan: Eritrea's biggest opposition group and the UNHCR both called for urgent action to stop the rising abductions and disappearances against Eritrean refugees and other asylum-seekers sheltered at Shagarab refugee camp in Eastern Sudan. 

Unity Analysis: Excluding unconfirmed cases, the UNHCR has documented the disappearance and kidnapping of 551 Eritrean refugees in 2012 alone, an increase of 500% from the previous year. Eritrean refugees who arrive at the border in neighbouring Sudan are increasingly being kidnapped for ransom, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, forced labour or for extraction of their organs. The kidnapping, smuggling and human trafficking is carried out by a highly organised network that stretches from the borders of Eritrea to refugee camps in Sudan and the Sinai peninsula in Egypt. They are generally transferred to Sinai where they are sold to Bedouins, or they are held for ransom by different militant groups across the network looking for funding. These groups are known to directly try to extort money from them or their families with ransoms reported to reach up to $40,000 USD, mainly from the relatives in the Eritrean Diaspora. It is estimated that these industry generates more than $10m a year. 

According to the UN refugee agency, the Shagarab camp currently hosts almost 30,000 people. The latest incident reported was on 22 January, when armed men abducted five Eritrean refugees from Shagarab camp.