Terrorism and Extremism Weekly Summary 6 – 12 March

Europe
In Belgium on 4-5 March, anti-terror raids were conducted in Brussels, Wavre and Nivelles. Several were taken in for questioning but all were later released. The raids are not connected to the Paris or Brussels attacks. La Dernière Heure newspaper said that there was a threat of individuals taking action at festive events in Brussels, however, the searches did not reveal any evidence to confirm this. In another raid on 7 March, a Belgian woman suspected of helping people plan an attack in Europe was arrested and charged with taking part in the activities of a terrorist organisation. Additional raids were conducted in Brussels and Ghent on 9 March, where two people were detained in suspected links to terrorist financing.

A major trial against eight far-right extremists of the Freital Group began on 9 March in Dresden, Germany. The group is accused of five separate attacks, including bomb attacks, that targeted refugee homes as well as offices and property of left-wing politicians from mid-2015. In addition to terrorism, charges include attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, causing an explosion and property damage, with Federal Prosecutor Joern Hauschild saying the defendants sought to unnerve the population. While hundreds of similar attacks occur in Germany each year, none were previously tried as terrorism in a federal court.

On 11 March, German police shut down the Libecker Platz shopping all in Essen due to an alleged planned attack by the Islamic State (IS). Two people were arrested in connection to the attack and investigations are ongoing.

Middle East
On 8 March, Provincial Spokesperson Ali Al-Hamdani said 26 people were killed and up to 67 wounded in a twin suicide bombing in al-Hajjaj village near the Iraqi city of Tikrit. The bombings targeted a wedding party connected to an anti-IS tribe in Anbar Province, west Iraq. IS is suspected to have carried out the attack due to similar attacks in the past. Iraqi forces reclaimed the nearby city of Tikrit from IS in 2015.

On 11 March in Syria’s capital Damascus, a suicide bombing followed by a detonation of an improvised explosive device hit passenger buses that carried Iraqi Shia pilgrims near the Bab al-Saghir cemetery. At least 74 people were killed and 120 wounded. The Tahrir al-Sham rebel group, a former al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attack.

South Asia 
On 8 March, IS gunmen and a suicide bomber attacked the Sadr Daud Khan military hospital in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, killing 49 people and wounding at least 63. The gunmen infiltrated the facility dressed as medical personnel and opened fire on patients and staff following a suicide attack at the back of the hospital. Security forces battled the gunmen for hours following the attack until the attackers were killed. The facility is located near the US and European embassies.

About author: Ashleigh Templeton

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