IRAN CRACKS DOWN ON BALOCHI MILITANTS
Iranian Balochis crossing the border into Pakistan are reporting hundreds of Balochis arrested in the Iranian port city of Chabahar (Sistan-Balochistan province) as part of a security sweep targeting Balochi militants (Dawn, November 2). The raids were in response to the kidnapping of the port authority’s chairman, an action blamed on (and denied by) the Sunni radical group Jundallah (“Army of God”). Jundallah specializes in the abduction and assassination of Iranian security operatives. The Balochi militants operate from bases across the border in Balochi Pakistan, a region embroiled in its own decades-old insurgency against the central government. In September, Jundullah abducted 21 truck drivers in Chabahar and then transported them across the border to Pakistan. The Balochi regions on both sides of the border are resource-rich but sparsely populated. Both Pakistani and Iranian Balochi insurgents complain that the wealth created by these resources winds up in the hand of the central government while the Balochis dwell in dire poverty. Tehran once linked the Balochi rebels to al-Qaeda, but lately has begun to suggest that militants might be receiving support from the United States.
Al-QAEDA THREAT IN NIGERIA’S KANO PROVINCE?
Press reports say Western intelligence agencies aided Nigerian counter-terrorism operatives after the U.S. embassy in Lagos issued a terrorism alert to U.S. citizens and interests in Nigeria in early September. U.S. intelligence is claimed to have provided background to Nigerian security officials on two men identified as al-Qaeda suspects, including information on their extended stay at an Algerian terrorist training camp (This Day, October 31). The two suspects, identified as Abubakr Haruna and Isah A., were arrested in Kano, in Muslim north Nigeria. The two were carrying incriminating documents and “sophisticated” handguns according to police. Kano’s Shiite minority has complained for several years of what they perceive as a growing threat from the Sunni majority, encouraging anti-Shiite violence by approving accounts in state media of Sunni attacks on Shiite targets in Iraq. Religious passions are easily aroused in the northern Muslim states of Nigeria. If the suspects were planning some kind of anti-Shiite outrage, it could have easily thrown the whole region into flames.