Eye on Extremism: April 13, 2022

The Washington Post: A Harrowing Account Of Life And Death In ISIS Captivity

“Syria’s civil war was raging in March 2013 when black vehicles cut off an Italian aid worker’s car in the north of the country. Masked gunmen forced Federico Motka and a colleague into the trunk of a car and sped off. “Welcome to Syria, you mutt,” Motka recalled one of the captors ominously telling the aid workers in British-accented English, before they were driven to a camp of Islamist militants who were battling the Syrian regime. This was the beginning of 14 months of torment for Motka and other foreigners held by a group that would soon be known worldwide as the Islamic State. In Alexandria federal court, Motka testified that he grew to fear the British-accented man and two others from England the most. Captives dubbed them “the Beatles.” During the only U.S. trial for a member of the infamous terror cell named after the British rock group, Motka and other hostages have offered searing testimony about their captivity. El Shafee Elsheikh is charged in the kidnapping and deaths of four Americans — the journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff as well as the aid workers Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. He has pleaded not guilty, and a jury is soon to weigh his fate.”

Associated Press: Gunmen Kill More Than 100 In Nigeria’s North, Say Survivors

“An armed gang has killed more than 100 people in a remote part of northern Nigeria, survivors and local authorities said on Tuesday. The attackers targeted four villages in the Kanam area of Plateau State, the most recent in a series of violent attacks in Nigeria's north. Such attacks in Nigeria’s northern region have become frequent, especially between Fulani Muslims who are mostly cattle herders and Christian communities from the Hausa and other ethnic groups who are mainly farmers. The conflict over access to land and water has further worsened the sectarian division between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with its 206 million people deeply divided along religious lines. In this recent attack, the assailants arrived Sunday afternoon, ransacking houses and shooting at residents, according to Alpha Sambo, a survivor and Kanam youth leader who is helping those displaced and injured. “The people that have been killed are more than 100,” he told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Other witnesses say as many as 130 died and many have been injured and displaced. The police and the state government confirmed the attacks but did not give details on the cause or number of casualties.”

United States

Military Times: Veterans Of Terrorist Attacks And Families Push For Access To Afghanistan Funds

“A group of more than 500 veterans and military family members are pushing lawmakers to broaden federal plans for distributing billions in seized Taliban funds to include more victims of terrorist attacks, rather than limiting it to only Sept. 11 victims. In a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, the group argues that the move is needed to better recognize all military personnel “who were killed or severely injured as a result of state-sponsored terrorist attacks while serving our country around the world at U.S. embassies, military installations and in international waters.” Signers include surviving family members and veterans involved in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, the 1983 U.S. Marine barracks bombing in Lebanon, the 1968 USS Pueblo incident with North Korea and several other international incidents. The lack of funding has led to increased poverty, and aid groups have warned of a looming humanitarian catastrophe. All could potentially financially benefit from the change in policy, along with several thousand others.”

Iraq

Al Jazeera: ISIL 2.0: How The Group Became A Franchise

“The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) has changed form several times over the years. With its origins in the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, ISIL was forged from an alliance between an al-Qaeda offshoot and elements of the defeated Iraqi Baath party. The group grew exponentially, basing itself in the disaffected Sunni areas of central Iraq, with the aim of setting up an Islamic caliphate. Increasingly open in its religious proclamations, ISIL’s slick propaganda (PDF) upstaged al-Qaeda’s older grainy videos, winning converts with its high-tech, well-edited advertisements showing training and the bloody aftermath of attacks carried out by the group. The group grew and grew, telling the world about their “victories” in high-definition videos that served as recruitment tools, spread far and wide through social media. By 2015, they controlled an area of Iraq and Syria the size of the United Kingdom. Taxes were now raised, civil service was set up, and the caliphate had its own government and economy; all the trappings of a state. It took the combined might of several military powers to finally defeat ISIL, with the last ISIL strongpoint in Baghouz in eastern Syria falling in March 2019.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: 2 Pakistani Officers, 2 Militants Killed In Shootout In NW

“Militants ambushed Pakistani troops in a former Taliban stronghold in the northwest, triggering an intense shootout in which two officers and two insurgents were killed, the military said Tuesday. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement. The pre-dawn gunbattle happened in South Waziristan, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to a military statement. It said the slain insurgents were involved in multiple past attacks on security forces. The military said the officers killed were an army major and a junior officer. It provided no further details. The Pakistani Taliban are known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and are a separate group from the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, who took over that country in August. Since then, the TTP has stepped up attacks on security forces in the region and elsewhere.”

Africa

Reuters: Five Soldiers Killed In Attack In Northern Benin Park

“Five soldiers were killed by suspected Islamist militants in northern Benin's Pendjari National Park, two military sources said on Tuesday. The attack on Monday also wounded several soldiers who are being treated at a nearby hospital, said the sources, who requested anonymity. The soldiers were killed when an army convoy struck an improvised explosive device, they said. It was the latest in a string of deadly attacks in northern Benin, where groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have spilled over from neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger. Benin's army has not officially communicated on the incident and its spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.”

i24 News: Explainer: French Anti-Jihadist Force In Africa

“The Sahel is a flashpoint of conflict between jihadist movements and government troops, both local and foreign. The Sahel region of northern Africa, a notorious flashpoint of jihadist attacks, is losing a major military presence – France. Both local and foreign forces are in the midst of an armed rebellion headed by Islamic State (IS) movements and al-Qaeda affiliated groups. But amid growing distaste for the European involvement, France announced in February that it would withdraw its troops from Mali, part of a mostly lawless and violent tri-border region. After almost a decade of fighting the jihadist insurgency, which still poses a major threat to the region, i24NEWS takes a look at the French anti-jihadist operations in the Sahel. After suffering setbacks in the Middle East, the Islamic State and al-Qaeda shifted their focus to the unstable Sahel region – a strip of land beneath the Sahara Desert that includes Chad, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania. There are four active jihadist groups in the Sahel: Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) – African branch of the IS seeking the return to “true Islam.” Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) – Official branch of Al Qaeda in Mali, made up of four different movements.”

Germany

Associated Press: German Court Charges IS Returnee Over Alleged Slave Abuse

“A German woman who allegedly abused a Yazidi slave while in Islamic State-held territory in Syria has been charged with crimes against humanity and other offenses, federal prosecutors said Tuesday. The woman, identified only as Jalda A. in keeping with German privacy laws, was arrested upon her arrival back in Germany on Oct. 7. Before her repatriation, she had been held captive by Kurdish forces since late 2017. She was charged with membership in a foreign terrorist organization, crimes against humanity, war crimes and being an accessory to genocide, prosecutors said in a statement. The suspect traveled in April 2014 via Turkey to Syria, according to prosecutors, where she quickly married an IS fighter and gave birth to a son the following year. When her first husband died, she married two other men in succession. She lived with the third man in and near the Syrian city of Mayadin from September to October 2017, prosecutors said, adding that the husband kept a Yazidi woman as a slave and regularly raped her with the suspect’s knowledge. The suspect also physically abused the woman “almost every day,” according to prosecutors. She allegedly punched and kicked the woman, pulled her hair, and slammed her head against the wall, and on one occasion hit the woman in the head with a flashlight.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On December 2, 2017, suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers killed 13 people and injured 53 others in a market in Borno State. The bombers struck as aid workers were distributing food to citizens.   

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