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MIxTRAC: Mass Prison Break After Earthquake in Indonesia, al Shabaab Fighters Attack Italian Forces Stationed in Somalia

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The information, data and findings from the below brief was collected by and sourced from TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, in partnership with the Mackenzie Institute. Please click here to visit TRAC.

Mass Prison Break After Earthquake in Indonesia, al Shabaab Fighters Attack Italian Forces Stationed in Somalia

Hundreds of Prisoners Escape Class IIA Penitentiary After 7.5 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off the Coast of Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, (28 September, 2018)

On 28 September 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, causing widespread flooding and power outages across the coast and taking out the prison wall of a Class IIA Penitentiary in Palu.  At least half of the 560 inmates fled the prison and recapture efforts are at a standstill until basic infrastructure is restored to Palu.  Indonesian prisons are known for both being over populated and under staffed. The number of qualified search teams is too small to capture all of the escaped prisoners, and local police are too busy helping the earthquake victims.

It is not known who managed to escape or what offences the escapees were charged with, however, Islamic State East Asia (ISEA) heavily recruits inside of prisons. The Mujahidin Indonesia Timur (MIT) Telegram Channel reported that ISEA have already transferred 17 brothers to safe areas.

Since the string of “family suicide bombings” in May 2018, Indonesian prisons have been filling at a fast rate.  As such, the prisons are filled to the brim with both actual Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD / ISEA) supporters and presumably some innocent civilians who may or may not have been connected to JAD cell members.

Recently, Indonesia in particular has had problems with inmates planning and directing attacks from inside its prisons. ISEA ideologue Aman Abdurrahman (aka Oman Rochman) from Depok and Nusakambangan Prisons in Indonesia managed to help others with their plans even while he was interred in solitary isolation in his prison cell.  On 22 June 2018, Abdurrahman was sentenced to death in Jakarta.  Upon his sentence, he inspired many ISEA followers with his over-dramatic, over-the-top performance in the courtroom.

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al Shabaab SBVIED Attack Targets an Italian Military Convoy Near Jaalle Siyad Military Base in Mogadishu, Somalia, (1 October, 2018)

On 1 October 2018, a suicide car bomb collided with an Italian military vehicle near Jaalle Siyad military base in Mogadishu. The attack was in close proximity to Somalia’s Defense Ministry HQ. In their official statement claiming credit for the attack, al Shabaab stated that the bombing targeted a convoy of EU military personnel, trainers and officials leaving the Ministry’s HQ. Initial reports reveal that two people were killed and four were injured.

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There are a small number of Italian troops deployed in Somalia to train Somali police and military forces. In addition, soldiers from the UK, Germany and Norway are also supporting the EU mission in Somalia. Soon after the attack, the Italian Defence Ministry issued an official statement confirming that no Italian soldiers were killed:

“Explosion in Mogadishu. No Italian soldiers wounded.

A VTLM Lince, belonging to a convoy of five Italian vehicles, was involved this morning, at 12:10 local time, in an explosion while it was returning from a training activity in favour of the Somali security forces. No Italian soldiers were injured in the event. The vehicle, with four soldiers on board, was slightly damaged and able to return to the base.

The explosion occurred about 700 metres from the Ministry of Defense in Mogadishu.

The Italian military operates within the European mission in Somalia (EUTM), aimed at strengthening the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), through strategic military consultancy to Somali defence institutions and military training.

The EU military mission works in close cooperation and coordination with the other actors of the international community present in the area of operation such as the United Nations, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the United States of America.”

Photos of the aftermath:

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The above has been compiled by Alexander Sawicki, an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of History at Ryerson University, specializing in the interplay between technological innovation, warfare, and social change throughout history. He was formerly a Research Analyst for the NATO Association of Canada (NAOC), where he published articles that dealt with cybersecurity, US-Russia relations, and Canadian Military Procurement. You can find Alexander on LinkedIn.

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