A recent surge in attacks by ISIS and al-Qaeda-affiliated militants in Afghanistan is demonstrating to western and Afghan forces that the terror groups remain a formidable threat to peace and security in the region. These mounting challenges were on display last week after ISIS mounted a day-long guerilla assault on a Jalalabad prison that allowed 400 prisoners to escape. The recent swell of violence is disproving the notion that the presence of terror groups in Afghanistan is deteriorating.
Recent attacks by Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara—local affiliates of al-Qaeda and ISIS—against one another is punctuating a security breakdown in West Africa, a region already challenged by ongoing violence. Extremists had held a loose alliance to fight Western-backed governments across the Sahel, but that has broken in recent months under the weight of the French-led and American-backed military campaign to eliminate the terror threat.
A new report released by the United Nations (U.N.) last week revealed that the Taliban maintained routine consultations with al-Qaeda, despite the Taliban’s peace deal with the United States. According to the report, about 400 to 600 armed al-Qaeda operatives are stationed in Afghanistan. The February 29 peace agreement saw the Taliban agree to prevent al-Qaeda from operating in Afghanistan in order for U.S. troops to gradually withdraw from Afghanistan. Despite the conditions of the negotiations, the two extremist groups reportedly exchanged guarantees to honor their historic ties. Such an agreement would run counter to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1988, which demands the Taliban break ties with al-Qaeda, accept the Afghan constitution and renounce violence. The U.N. report also states that the Taliban and al-Qaeda held meetings throughout 2019 and early 2020 to discuss training and operational planning.
On Sunday, the New York Times highlighted increased efforts by white supremacist extremist groups to leverage the COVID-19 pandemic as a means to advance their radical agendas and attract new members. Far-right extremist groups are increasingly mobilizing their appeals to potential supporters online that include racist sentiments, anti-Semitic tropes, and misinformation with claims that COVID-19 is a Jewish-run conspiracy and, alternatively, as being spread by nonwhite immigrants.
Extremist Content Online: Extremists Plot Anti-Semitic Harassment Campaign Targeting Philadelphia Jewish Day School
The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) reports weekly on the methods used by extremists to exploit the Internet and social media platforms to recruit followers and incite violence. Last week, users of an 8chan successor site detailed a plot to target and harass the Zoom classes of students at a Jewish day school in Philadelphia, and encouraged other users to participate. Additionally, al-Qaeda issued a statement declaring the novel coronavirus to be a divine punishment that has “exposed the brittleness of a global economy dominated by the United States,” while ISIS released a new propaganda video from Syria showing combat footage and prisoner executions. Also, CEP identified a video created by neo-Nazi James Mason in which he urged his viewers to follow biblical prophecies and praised Hitler, additionally a neo-Nazi accelerationist Telegram channel that advocates for violence posted links to a non-affiliated group that offers instructions on how to build a pistol with 3D printed components. Finally, four Atomwaffen Division (AWD) videos were reuploaded to YouTube from an account linked to an AWD supporter group on Telegram.
Today, Europe remembers the 16th anniversary of the Madrid train bombings, which marked the beginning of a wave of terror attacks that have been plaguing the continent ever since.
Facebook has made claims that it refers to international sanctions lists when working to remove terrorist content from their sites. However, researchers at the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) have discovered that U.N.-designated persons and organizations maintain a robust social media presence.
Eighteen years ago, 19 al-Qaeda operatives hijacked U.S. commercial airliners and flew them into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth hijacked airplane crashed in a field in rural Pennsylvania. The attacks—the deadliest ever on American soil—killed nearly 3,000 civilians and injured thousands more. Within weeks, the U.S. launched military operations against al-Qaeda’s suspected safe havens in Afghanistan. That December, al-Qaeda’s co-founder Osama bin Laden is believed to have escaped U.S. bombing in Afghanistan’s Tora Bora Mountains and fled to Pakistan.
ISIS released its latest propaganda video last week, featuring ISIS leader and former Muslim Brotherhood member Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Baghdadi’s jihadist ideology can be traced back to his days in the Muslim Brotherhood while a student in Iraq, which led him down a path of violent jihadism with al-Qaeda and then ISIS. In its report, The Muslim Brotherhood’s Ties to ISIS and al-Qaeda, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) details the core beliefs, the shared goals and the frequent examples of cooperation among the three groups.
Sudan’s President and Chairman of Muslim Brotherhood-Linked National Congress Party Ousted by Military
CEP today released updated resources on Sudan’s National Congress Party (NCP), the successor organization to the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated National Islamic Front (NIF). Recently deposed Sudanese President and NCP chairman Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir currently stands accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide for his violence against religious and ethnic groups throughout Sudan.