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Security

Russia repels foreign-sponsored cyber attack on banking system

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The Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement on Friday that foreign spy agencies had plotted to sow chaos in Russia’s banking system via a coordinated wave of cyber attacks and fake social media comments about the imminent collapse of major national and provincial banks in several Russian cities.
It said the attacks, meant to start on December 5, would originate from computer servers in the Netherlands owned by a Ukrainian web hosting company called BlazingFast.
“It was planned that the cyber attack would be accompanied by a mass send-out of SMS messages and publications in social media of a provocative nature regarding a crisis in the Russian banking system, bankruptcies and license withdrawals,” it said.
The FSB said that it was taking “the necessary measures to neutralize threats to Russia’s economic and information security.”
The FSB did not mention which countries’ intelligence agencies were behind the alleged plot.
Russia’s central bank said it was aware of the threat and was in constant contact with the security services, adding it had drawn up a plan to thwart any attack.
“The situation is under control. Banks have been given necessary guidance,” the central bank said.
Russia has been on high alert for foreign-inspired cyber attacks since US officials accused the Kremlin of using cyber attacks to interfere with its election, accusations Moscow denied.

SRC tells students ‘UNISWA opens tomorrow’ (22 March 2016)

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In an act of defiance, the University of Swaziland (UNISWA) Student Representative Council (SRC) yesterday told students to proceed to campus and ignore statements postponing the opening of the institution.
When the press statement was up-loaded to in the different social networking sites groups, which have students as members, the initial response from the SRC was to the effect that the statement could be an old one.

Mali: No much progress

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While the violence is still most common up north, it is largely between rival Tuareg groups and any Mali soldiers or police who get too involved. Meanwhile the Islamic terrorist activity has moved south. The Fulani tribes of central Mali are producing a growing number of recruits for Islamic terror groups. The Fulani are only about 14 percent of the population but other black African tribes further south are showing signs of discontent among unemployed and angry young men. Most Fulani live in central Mali, south of the Niger River.

Fulani are considered outsiders by the majority of Malians.

There are over two million Fulani in Mali and the name of the latest Islamic terror group in the south is FLM (Macina Liberation Front) which openly identifies with the Fulani (Macina are the local branch of the Fulani). This group became active in early 2015 and claimed responsibility for a growing number of attacks since. It started out with calls for Fulani people to live according to strict Islamic rules. That in turn led to violence against tribal and village leaders who opposed this. That escalated to attacks on businesses and government facilities. FLM is composed mostly of young Fulani men who consider Ansar Dine their friend and ally. In part this is because Ansar Dine was inspired by al Qaeda but was always composed of Mali peoples, mainly Tuareg, northern Arabs and many Fulani.

Although most Malians are Moslem few want anything to do with Islamic terrorism.

But the Fulani have always seen themselves as a people apart, an attitude common with the nomadic peoples of the Sahel. That makes joining FLM more attractive to young men, especially since the Fulani have also been involved with smuggling for a long time and that is seen as an acceptable profession. Another thing that sets the Fulani apart is that still think of themselves as nomadic and the Fulani don’t really believe in borders.

TIMELINE

August 3, 2016: Ansar Dine posted a video of five Mali soldiers captured a July 19th attack on an army base in central Mali.

July 31, 2016: In the north (Timbuktu) an Ansar Dine death squad killed an army intelligence officer in front of his home.

July 30, 2016: In the north (Kidal) two rival Tuareg militias fought for several hours, leaving six dead.

Down south parliament approved extending the state of emergency another eight months until March 2017. The state of emergency has been in force since November 2015 and makes it illegal for crowds to assemble and demonstrations to take place without permission. The security forces can ignore some legal procedures when making arrests and holding people in custody. The state of emergency was first enacted, for ten days at a time, after the November 2015 terror attack but later extensions were longer. The last state of emergency ended in July 2013.

July 26, 2016: In central Mali (Wagadou forest) soldiers operating near the Mauritania border captured Mahamoud Barry, a senior Ansar Dine commander. Barry is Fulani and believed to be heavily involved with the formation of the FLM in central Mali as well as for planning attacks in the north. Ansar Dine considers the FLM a branch of Ansar Dine. Most FLM members agree but some do not.

July 21, 2016: In the north (Kidal) two rival Tuareg militias resumed fighting, leaving 16 dead.

July 19, 2016: In central Mali (Nampala) an attack on an army base left 17 soldiers dead, 35 wounded and six missing. The FLM took credit for the attack as did a local Fulani tribal militia. The government sent 500 more troops to the improve security around the army base, which has been attacked several times in the past year.

July 17, 2016: AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) posted an announcement that Abu Bakr al Shinqiti, its commander in Mali had died during an attack on a Mali military base near the Burkina Faso border. No date was given and it is believed this refers to a July 10th incident in southern Mali where two soldiers were killed near the Burkina Faso border when a group of heavily armed men attacked a military checkpoint. The attackers were never identified in part because the attack failed and the attackers fled. It’s possible the attackers were led by Shinqiti who could have been wounded and later died.