Eye on Extremism: April 12, 2022

Associated Press: IS Supporter Found Guilty Of Killing UK Lawmaker David Amess

“A jury deliberated for just 18 minutes Monday before finding a fervent Islamic State supporter guilty of stabbing lawmaker David Amess to death a slaying that shocked the nation and sparked calls for increased police protection for politicians. Ali Harbi Ali, 26, was found guilty by London's Central Criminal Court of murder and preparing terrorist acts. Ali stabbed the veteran British lawmaker to death last year while he was meeting with voters at a church hall in eastern England. Ali, who had spent years researching and planning potential attacks on lawmakers, had defended his actions by saying Amess deserved to die as a result of voting for airstrikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015. Ali, a London man with Somali heritage, had denied charges of murder and preparing acts of terrorism. Opening the trial, prosecutor Tom Little said the case was “nothing less than an assassination” carried out because of a “warped and twisted and violent ideology.” “It was a murder carried out by that young man who for many years had been planning just such an attack and who was, and is, a committed, fanatical, radicalized Islamist terrorist,” he said. Little said Ali bought the knife used to attack Amess five years earlier, and that Ali tricked his way into meeting Amess by pretending to be one of his constituents.”

Reuters: Gunmen Attack Kills At Least 50 In Nigeria's Plateau State

“At least 50 people were killed and dozens abducted by gunmen in Nigeria's Plateau state, residents and a community leader said on Monday, the latest in a spate of attacks by armed gangs in northern parts of Africa's most populous nation. Such attacks are not common in Plateau, in central Nigeria. But the state shares a border with Kaduna state, where suspected bandits - a loose term for gangs of outlaws carrying out robberies and kidnappings - blew up train tracks, killed eight people and kidnapped dozens last month. Fifteen soldiers were last week killed by gunmen who attacked a Kaduna army base. “This is again very sad and we strongly condemn it. The security (forces) should ensure the immediate rescue of all abducted persons,” said Jonathan Ishaku, spokesman for Plateau Elders Forum. He said at least 50 were dead and 70 people, including women and children, were kidnapped from nine villages late on Sunday afternoon. A spokesman for Plateau Governor Simon Lalong said “many people were killed with houses and properties destroyed”. He did not give a death toll. Telephone service is patchy in most of Nigeria's rural areas, making it difficult for villagers to seek immediate help from security forces, who are stretched fighting an Islamist insurgency in the northeast.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: Ex-Islamic State Fighter Testifies Against Alleged ‘Beatles’ Guard

“An American former member of Islamic State testified Monday that El Shafee Elsheikh, accused of being part of a brutal cell that murdered U.S. citizens, held a senior role within the terrorist organization, carrying a Glock pistol that the witness described as “a symbol of ISIS aristocracy.” Prosecutors called Omer Kuzu, 26 years old, who in 2020 pleaded guilty in an unrelated terrorism case in Texas, as they build a case that Mr. Elsheikh, who was born in 1988 in Sudan and grew up in London, was a member of a group of apparently British guards who oversaw foreigners taken hostage in Syria and were responsible for killing four Americans among them. “He was quiet, reserved, almost secretive,” testified Mr. Kuzu, who said he first met Mr. Elsheikh, dressed in green military garb, in Raqqa, Syria, in 2015. “That told me that he was not an ordinary member. He seemed to be more important.” Mr. Elsheikh also spoke with a British accent, Mr. Kuzu said. Mr. Elsheikh faces charges of hostage-taking resulting in death and other counts stemming from the torture and killings of humanitarian aid worker Kayla Mueller, journalist James Foley and others in Syria in 2014 and early 2015.”

Iraq

The National: Iraq Calls For Closure Of Syria's Al Hol Camp Amid Killing Of Young Citizen

“An Iraqi man was shot dead in Syria’s Al Hol camp on Monday amid calls from Baghdad that it should be dismantled. The camp, situated in Syria’s Kurdish controlled north-east, is the largest for displaced people with more than 56,000 Iraqi and Syrian refugees, some of whom have links to ISIS. The victim was killed by a gun silencer in the camp, the British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Authorities said the body has “signs of four gunshots”. Albania repatriates five women and 14 children from ISIS detention camp in Syria. Al Hol is considered to be one the biggest overcrowded camps in the region and is controlled by the autonomous Kurdish administration and is fewer than 10 kilometres from the Iraqi border. Iraq’s National Security Adviser, Qassem Al Araji, pressed foreign governments to repatriate their citizens from Al Hol, and urged rapid dismantlement of the camp. “Each day that passes with the camp still there, hate grows and terrorism thrives,” Mr Al Araji said during a conference in Baghdad on Saturday. The Iraqi official said ISIS “continues to represent a real threat at Al Hol” which in turn affects the country’s national security. He spoke in front of UN delegates and ambassadors from the United States and France.”

Turkey

Daily Sabah: Turkey Successfully Battles Multiple Terrorist Groups: Soylu

“There is no other country in the world other than Turkey that is fighting so many global terrorist organizations at the same time, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Sunday. In his speech at the iftar dinner held on the occasion of the 177th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Police Service in the capital Ankara, Soylu said: “There has not been a single terrorist act in our cities since the Dec. 31, 2016 Reina attack (in Istanbul). As of the end of 2021, the numbers of the PKK terrorist organization remained at around 150 members. They can't get out of the caves, they can't organize in the cities, they tried to provoke the universities together with the leftist terrorist organizations, but we didn't allow that either.” The Reina attack was a mass shooting incident on Jan. 1, 2017, at around 1:15 a.m. local time, in which a terrorist shot and killed 39 people and wounded 79 others at the Reina nightclub in the Ortaköy neighborhood of Istanbul, Turkey, where hundreds had been celebrating New Year's Eve. Uzbekistan-born Abdulkadir Masharipov was arrested in Istanbul on Jan. 17, 2017. The Daesh terrorist group claimed credit for his actions. Turkey's efforts against Daesh made it a primary target for the terrorist group, which carried out numerous gun and bomb attacks targeting security forces and civilians.”

Afghanistan

Foreign Policy: Afghan Resistance Groups Eye Spring Offensive

“Armed resistance against the Taliban is picking up momentum across Afghanistan, with militias run by former political and military leaders of the collapsed republic recruiting and arming fighters, notably from the ranks of the former republic’s U.S.-trained security forces. Some are trying to drum up international support for forcible regime change, according to sources among the groups, who have eyes on a spring offensive. But the lack of unity among leaders of the armed opposition groups, who regard each other more as rivals than comrades, could mean they are unlikely for now to make much progress in their shared ambition to overthrow the Taliban, a movement that has been galvanized by the extremists’ repression of women, girls, and ethnic groups. “The Taliban have proven they cannot govern, cannot address their own differences, and cannot address the concerns of neighboring countries, so there is an awareness of new geopolitical dynamics and realities,” said Mirwais Naab, a former deputy foreign minister working with the National Resistance Front, the most prominent of the opposition groups.”

Associated Press: Islamic State Morphs And Grows In Pakistan, Afghanistan

“Basheer was a young Taliban fighter barely out of his teens when the Islamic State group took over his village in eastern Afghanistan, nearly eight years ago. The militants rounded up villagers identified as Taliban and killed them, often beheading them, forcing their families to watch. Basheer escaped and lived in hiding during the following years when IS controlled several districts in Nangarhar province. Over time, he rose in the Taliban ranks. Now known as Engineer Basheer, he is the Taliban intelligence chief in eastern Afghanistan, with a leading role in the campaign to crush IS. He hasn’t forgotten the atrocities he saw in his home district of Kot. “I can’t explain their cruelty in words, whatever comes into your mind, they have done more than that,” he told The Associated Press in a recent interview at his headquarters in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar. Since coming to power in Afghanistan eight months ago, the Taliban have touted their success in repressing the Islamic State group, but the militants have expanded into neighboring Pakistan, stepping up attacks there. Analysts say IS has morphed into a borderless terrorist group, one of the deadliest in a region that has spawned many violent, radical organizations.”

Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post: At Least One Person Killed, 5 Injured In Explosion Near Lebanon's Sidon

“At least one person was killed and five were injured in a fire and explosion near a scout center affiliated with the Shi'ite, Hezbollah-allied Amal Movement in Bnaafoul near Sidon in southern Lebanon on Monday night, according to Lebanese media. The victim killed in the explosion was identified by Lebanese media as the son of the mayor of Bnaafoul. The cause of the explosion is as of yet unclear. The Iranian IRNA news site stated that according to some reports, the site of the explosion was used by the Amal Movement to store ammunition and weapons. The Lebanese al-Janoubia reported that the site was used as a weapons depot as well. A security source told Reuters that the explosion was not caused by an act of sabotage. According to Annahar, the explosion was caused by a tank containing diesel for generators and shots were reportedly fired before the explosion. The explosion led to the destruction of the municipal council building and extensive damage to an adjacent building, according to Elnashra. A dispute broke out between the Lebanese Army and Amal members at the site on Tuesday morning, according to Annahar. The Lebanese Red Cross told Annahar that the exact number of victims is unknown and that teams are searching the site for the wounded.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Israel Troops Kill 4th Palestinian After Alleged Firebombing

“Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man near the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said early Monday, the latest in a growing wave of violence that has erupted during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The Israeli military said it opened fire at a man throwing a firebomb at an Israeli vehicle driving on a West Bank highway late Sunday. The shooting raised to four the number of Palestinians killed in the past 24 hours, among them an unarmed woman who was shot and killed at a military checkpoint near Bethlehem. Ramadan this year converges with major Jewish and Christian holidays. Protests and clashes in Jerusalem during Ramadan last year boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants. Israel has stepped up its military activity in the West Bank after Palestinian assailants killed 14 Israelis in four deadly attacks inside Israel in recent weeks. At the same time, it has taken a series of steps to try to calm the situation, including granting thousands of Palestinians from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip permits to work inside Israel. The Israeli military said Monday it arrested 13 Palestinians suspected of militant activity in the West Bank, and that during the arrest operations Palestinians threw rocks at troops and burned tires.”

The Times Of Israel: Amid Terror Wave, Incitement To Violence Floods Palestinian Social Media

“As a series of deadly terror attacks rocked Israeli cities in recent weeks, Palestinian social media seethed with incitement supporting the violence and encouraging future attackers. Fourteen people have died in four deadly attacks across the country, the bloodiest wave of violence Israel has seen in years. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the two attacks committed by West Bank Palestinians in Bnei Brak and Tel Aviv. But on Palestinian social media, many accounts have relentlessly put out clips praising the attacks. In some cases, users have set graphic footage of the violence to traditional music. Addressing Israelis, the lyrics vow that “you will see hell and its gates will open on the Day of Resurrection.” Other Palestinian social media users shared a song — originally disseminated by the Islamic Jihad-linked Filastin al-Yawm channel — hailing Jenin’s so-called resistance: “God blessed the champions of Jenin with a Molotov cocktail and a knife.” The Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups have sought to play up the violence in their official media. Both terror groups issued statements praising the attacks in the aftermath of every incident.”

Al Monitor: Hamas Stops Islamic Jihad From Military Escalation With Israel In Gaza

“Hamas has made concerted efforts to contain the anger of the Islamic Jihad movement in the Gaza Strip, and to prevent it from engaging in a new round of fighting with Israel, in response to the latter’s assassination of three Islamic Jihad members. Israeli special forces opened fire at the three Islamic Jihad operatives in Jenin in the northern West Bank on April 2, shooting dozens of bullets at their vehicle at the Araba roundabout. Four Israeli soldiers were wounded during the clashes. The Israeli army consequently went on alert and sent new reinforcements along the border with the Gaza Strip. A senior Hamas source who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity said that his movement does not wish to see any resistance faction carry out military activities against Israel from the Gaza Strip without consensus from the joint operations room. Those 12 factions include Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP). Hamas wants to unite and coordinate any political and military position in the face of the Israeli army in clashes and wars, the source continued. The source added that the operations room is working to maintain the truce between Israel and the Gaza Strip, which took place under Egyptian auspices in May 2021.”

Nigeria

Associated Press: Nigeria's Secret Terrorism Trials Raise Human Rights Worries

“Nigeria's decision to conduct the trials of suspects charged with terrorism behind closed doors has been criticized by human rights advocates. The West African nation last week began implementing a new court practice that bans the media and the public from trials involving terrorism charges at the start of the trial of a pro-Biafra separatist leader. Nnamdi Kanu, who holds dual Nigerian and British citizenship, leads the Indigenous People of Biafra campaigning for the secession from Nigeria of the Igbo, Nigeria's third-largest ethnic group. Kanu's trial in the capital, Abuja, resumed behind closed doors a day after the nation's Federal High Court announced that court proceedings for offences of terrorism “shall be held in camera,” prompting concern among many human rights advocates. “We are concerned that this breaches the constitution,” Anietie Ewang, Nigeria Researcher in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch told The Associated Press of the secret court trials. If Nigerian authorities fear that confidential security information could be made public in a terrorism trial, those concerns should be examined “on a case-by-case basis,” Ewang said, “as opposed to giving out a blanket ban that would clearly restrict public scrutiny.”

United Kingdom

Daily Mail: Why Did Prevent Fail To Stop David Amess Killer? Islamist 'Lone Wolf' Ali Harbi Ali Was Able To Secretly Plot His Murderous Act For Years Despite Being Referred To 'Politically-Correct' Anti-Terror Programme

“…Professor Ian Acheson, Senior Advisor to the Counter Extremism Project, said today: 'We know Ali had contact with Prevent services in 2016. The inquest to follow must be allowed to look into the performance of that system in forensic detail and see what can be done to improve it. 'Far too many people who have contact with Prevent and our prisons go on to commit acts of heinous violence. We must do everything we can to turn these actions into 'never' events. 'The worst thing we can possibly do now is think that the brutal slaying of David Amess by a man with a twisted ideology is just the price we pay for an open society.' The Shawcross Review into Prevent is expected to conclude that the programme is being undermined by activists who are opposed to its very existence being allowed to decide if individuals need to be deradicalised. Some authorities in the southeast of England have even appointed Prevent coordinators who are against the strategy entirely, sources told the Times. Sir William is set to call on the Home Office to appoint Prevent coordinators directly rather than leaving it down to local councils. Prevent officials have also being accused of diverting too many resources towards suspected far-right extremists despite Islamist radicals posing a 'far greater threat.’”

Europe

Euronews: The Myth Far-Right Zealots Run Ukraine Is Russian Propaganda

“As the war in Ukraine rages on, Europe’s international policy analysts and journalists have turned their attention to the Azov regiment, a former Nazi-insignia-carrying extreme-right street militia that has become integrated into Ukraine National Guard. Putin himself has claimed one of his reasons for the invasion was to “denazify Ukraine”. This claim is a lie, plain and simple. What Putin really wants is a Ukrainian government that obeys his commands. Nonetheless, western media has come to develop a sort of Azov obsession, buoyed by a complete lack of nuance in the reporting around this group. One key factor missing in all of the analyses of the Azov: the difference between the Azov movement and the Azov regiment. The West’s Azov obsession and the inability to properly understand the overall phenomenon has even led to the spread of damaging anti-Ukraine propaganda in the media. Certainly, the Azov movement is a dangerous key player of the transnational extreme-right. The movement has served as a network hub for several years now, with strong ties to far-right extremists in many EU countries and the US.”

Southeast Asia

Arab News: With Abu Sayyaf Declining, Is Daesh Still A Threat In The Philippines?

“When Philippine security forces won a major fight with militants affiliated with Daesh in 2017, a new surge in attacks led to concerns that the group, which originated in the Middle East, was expanding its operations in the Southeast Asian country. Five years later, the military says its operations have decreased the threat, but it is not entirely gone. The main Daesh affiliate in the Philippines has been the Abu Sayyaf Group, a militant outfit that operates in the country’s south. Formed in 1991, it emerged as a splinter group of the Moro National Liberation Front, a movement seeking autonomy for Filipino Muslims in the southern Philippines. It was initially influenced by Al-Qaeda, but since the early 2000s, it has gained notoriety for extortion, assassinations and kidnappings — often beheading hostages if a ransom was not paid. In 2014, some of its factions pledged allegiance to Daesh. The ASG was not the only militant outfit in the Philippines that did so, but it was the most notorious, with one of its leaders, Isnilon Hapilon, touted as the Daesh “emir” in the country. In 2017, militants mainly from the ASG and another Daesh affiliate, Dawlah Islamiya, also known as the Maute group, took control of the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On December 6, 2021, alleged ISIS fighters from Syria attacked Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq in Nineveh province’s Makhmour district.   

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