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London Car Bomb Averted

Barely one week outside the anniversary of London's 7/7 al-Qaeda bombing attacks, a car bomb was disabled before it could explode in London's Piccadilly Circus area outside a nightclub. An erratically driven silver Mercedes-Benz crashed into garbage cans outside the club and the driver fled. Responding to the scene, an "ambulance crew who noticed smoke inside it" became suspicious and alerted police.

Inside the vehicle was a bomb, described by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of London's counter terrorism command, as "petrol and gas contained in several large containers, and a large number of nails. They (also) discovered a means of detonating the gas and fuel."

Video from British public surveillance cameras is being analyzed to identify the driver. The appearance of smoke or some vapor inside the car as noticed by the ambulance crew suggests that the car bomb may have been triggered but failed to detonate. Following the 7/7 attacks, the 7/21 'sequel' attacks failed because the homemade explosive slurry in the backpacks was too old and no longer volatile enough. Today's failure may have been another form of faulty design or local construction.

US, MNF-Iraq Press On

US-led Multi-National Forces Iraq continue the attack on enemy forces in Operation Phantom Thunder. The operation includes multiple efforts including: Operation Arrowhead Ripper, in and around Baqubah in the Diyala province; Operation Marne Torch, in Arab Jabour outside of Baghdad; Operation Commando Eagle in Mahmudiyah and other operations in the Anbar province, as well as Sadr City within Baghdad.

MNF-I has reported enemy casualties to number around 90 since the operations began. This includes 17 al-Qaeda terrorists attempting to by-pass a check-point outside Baqubah on Saturday. On Friday, it was reported that much of the al-Qaeda leadership had fled Baqubah in the days before the operation began. In Baghdad, MNF-I forces are said to have detained enemy with ties to Iran.

Michael Yon, embedded with forces engaged in Operation Arrowhead Ripper, has outstanding coverage of the battle thus far. And Bill Roggio has detailed coverage of the broad spectrum of Operation Phantom Thunder.

NATO Forces Repel Enemy Combatants

Sixty enemy combatants were killed near the Pakistani border in what was described as the largest crossing in six months. The enemy combatants are described as having attacked NATO and Afghan positions and aircraft. Col. Martin P. Schweitzer is reported to have said "These individuals clearly had weapons and used them against our aircraft as well as shooting rockets against our positions ... This required their removal from the battle-space."

The attack reportedly took place in the Bermel district of Paktika province. Pakistan reported that 9 civilians were killed by a rocket which hit a home in Pakistan.

Elsewhere in the Chora district of Uruzgan province, Australian and Dutch forces reported "heavy fighting" in the streets and killing two mullahs.

Nigerian Troops Free Hostages

Four days after militants seized a Nigerian oil delivery facility, the Nigerian military reportedly attacked and killed a dozen gunmen while freeing nine hostages. The flowstation is operated by Eni, an Italian company.

Early reports indicated that as many as 28 civilians were held in the facility. Two are known to have been killed, and one Nigerian soldier was reportedly killed in the counter-attack.

Nigeria remains troubled by attacks on its oil production facilities, resulting in an estimated 25% reduction in output, and is currently enduring a general strike blamed on the increase in fuel cost or the lowering of government subsidies for fuel. Additionally, union leaders are demanding a reversal of the 10% value added tax recently proposed.

Israeli Forces Enter Gaza

With Hamas 'in control' of the Gaza Strip and Israeli citizens again on the receiving end of rockets and missiles, Israeli forces have begun an attack on Hamas forces within the Strip. Israeli tanks crossed into the Gaza Strip and air forces fired missiles at two rocket launchers in northern Gaza.
Four Palestinians were reported killed in the attacks early hours, two known to be combatants.

Leading Hamas militarnt, Mahmoud Zahar, claimed that Hamas could stop the rocket attacks on Israel if Israel halted its military action. Zahar further stated that Hamas would not be Israel's 'protector' in his warning to the Israeli people.

Zahar, in an interview with Asharq Alawsat, stated that it was the West Bank that was in disorder due to retaliations on Hamas members by Fatah elements. This while he reported Gaza to be in calm, and adding that no rocket attacks will be launched against Israel unless Israel attacks.

al-Qaeda in India Declares War

The conflict between India and Pakistan over Jammu Kashmir, the India controlled portion of the mountainous Kashmir region, has a recently declared participant. al-Qaeda has declared "righteous holy war against India on behalf of God the great" with Jammu and Kashmir to be the launch pad for war against India. The announcement was made by video received by the Current News Service in Srinagar.

al-Qaeda in India announced its establishment in July of 2006. al-Qaeda and affiliated movements are believed to have been involved in attacks in India, though this is the first al-Qaeda in India statement since last July.

Georgia Rejects Vehicle With Radioactive Material

Georgian authorities reported the discovery of plutonium and beryllium in a vehicle attempting to cross from Azerbaijan to Georgia. Border agents detected high levels of radiation and afterwards required the vehicle to return to Azerbaijan, rejecting its entry into Georgia. Plutonium and beryllium can be utilized in the production of nuclear weapons, or in less technologically advanced form as components of a 'dirty bomb.'

Georgian authorities have not stated the destination for the vehicle or offered details on why it was turned away rather than being taken into custody, as Georgian law prohibits the transport of radioactive materials.

Suicide Bomb Teams Graduate, 'Sent to US, Europe'

Video and images were released of suicide bomb teams graduating from a Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance terrorist training camp on June 9 with the intent of sending them to the United States, Canada, Germany, and Britain. The Taliban's Mansoor Dadullah presided over the ceremony, the mullah brother of former Taliban military commander Mullah Dadullah who was killed in a recent Coalition strike. Mansoor Dadullah declared that the four target nations came to Afghanistan from far away places, so "why shouldn't we go after them?"

One significant power involved in Afghanistan but left off the above list is France. But France has long been openly declared a target of the Algerian GSPC in Africa, which recently aligned with al-Qaeda and took on the name of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The relationship between the US and Pakistan, an ally in the region, has been strained by Pakistan's inability to effectively confront and exert force and control over the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal regions. The terrorist graduation is a by-product of this weakness. The UK's Guardian newspaper quoted former CIA officer Art Keller, once assigned to Pakistan, who said the Pakistani army is "huddling in their bases, doing nothing," paralyzed in part by internal division.

A Bomb Maker Speaks

Time magazine’s interview with Saif Abdallah – an IED builder for the Sunni insurgency – provides us both insight into the mind and skill of the adversary, as well as a statement on the value of ingenuity.

Abdallah’s tools are primitive when compared to the technology arrayed against him by US forces, yet with a little outside help and a lot of native intelligence he manages to produce improvised weapons that wreak havoc on both man and machine. When asked about US efforts like the Joint IED Defeat Organization, Abdallah displays no apparent concern:

"They are not going to defeat me with technology," he says. "If they want to get rid of IEDs, they have to kill me and everyone like me."

Army Vice Chief-of-Staff Cody concurred in testimony to Congress earlier this year:

"We have to go and find the guys making them and kill them. We have to find the guys who are getting ready to place them and kill them. That's how you defeat IEDs."

Abbas Dismisses Palestinian Government

Via a spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, it has been announced that the president has dismissed the Hamas-led government and declared a 'state of emergency.' Abbas' move comes after Hamas militants have captured the majority of remaining Fatah strongholds in the Gaza Strip.

AFP reports that Abbas' statement included the following:

"I have issued the following decree: the sacking of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya. Second, the proclamation of the state of emergency in all the Palestinian territories because of the criminal war in the Gaza Strip, the taking over of the security services of the Palestinian Authority, the military coup and the armed rebellion by outlaws."

The US, EU, Japan and others are expected to support Abbas and the Fatah party against Hamas. Japan has previously agreed to provide aid directly to Abbas rather than to the government led by Hamas.

UNSC Support for MNF-Iraq and Post al-Askariya

Following last years extension of the UN's support for US-led multinational forces remaining in Iraq, a one-year extension, the UNSC has again agreed that the troop presence is needed. Per last years agreement, the UNSC review, slated for June 15th, has reviewed the situation and agreed with Iraq's request that the forces remain.

Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the council members "today, and for the foreseeable months at least, the presence of troops is vitally necessary not only for Iraq but also to safeguard regional security and stability."

The UNSC also condemned the bombing of the al-Askariya Mosque.

Following the attack on the two minarets of the al-Askariya Mosque, and despite calls for no reprisals, some Sunni mosque have been the target of attacks. Additionally, the Green Zone was the target of a mortar attack, though no reports of injuries or damage are known.

The attacks on Sunni mosques included four in Basra where four people are reported to have been killed. These attacked mosques included the Kawaz, Othman, al-Abayshi and Basra Grand mosques. The Hateen mosque in Iskandariyah was reported to have been destroyed by an attack early on Thursday morning. Additionally, Baghdad police reported finding 25 bodies of suspected victims of reprisal attacks.

It has also been reported that MNF-I forces captured 25 suspected al-Qaeda members including an associate of Omar al-Baghdadi.

Zimbabwe Remains Troubled

With a government focused on its own survival rather than the security and prosperity of its citizens, Zimbabwe continues to be hit hard by inflation and an oppressive legal system. Zimbabwe's inflation rate of 3,714% is the highest in the world. The BBC reports that aid workers are concerned that the state will collapse within the next six months. While this should be considered skeptically, it is clear that the situation has worsened.

Additionally, it is being reported that Zimbabwe's lower-house has passed legislation permitting the bugging of Internet based services, traffic, etc. Though it has not yet passed the Senate it is expected to do so. The government defends the legislation as a anti-terror, anti-crime and anti-corruption measure. Opposition leaders view the legislation as further evidence of Mugabe's attempts to eliminate opposition to his rule.

Hamas Continues Press on Fatah

In a continuation of the conflict between Hamas and Fatah, who share control of the Palestinian government, Hamas has attacked Fatah forces and largely taken control of large portions of the Gaza strip. AP reports indicate that Hamas attacked Fatah security positions and president's headquarters. The attackers are said to have used mortars, rockets and small arms fire, while Fatah security forces have apparently fled the area or surrendering en masse.

In other news relating to the Palestinian Territories, Fatah's members of the cabinet have withdrawn until the fighting ends.

al-Askariya Bombed Again

Terrorists bombed the two minarets of the Golden Dome mosque, the al-Askariya Shrine, Wednesday destroying both. The mosque was bombed in February of 2006, in an attack which destroyed the famed dome and led to increased Shi'a-Sunni violence.

The dome is said to have been guarded by as many as 85 additional police officers, from the ill-regarded Facilities Protection Service and the local police. Reports currently indicate that the Emergency Response Unit commander and 12 of his charges have been arrested for their role in the attack.

Following the attack, the political bloc, ostensibly led by Muqtada al-Sadr, temporarily withdrew from the Iraqi parliament. Both al-Sadr and highly regarded Shi'a cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, have called for mourning and renewed efforts to avoid violent counterattacks. The Prime Minister ordered an open-ended curfew after the attack in an attempt to prevent reprisals.

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