Eye on Extremism: April 14, 2022

Bloomberg: Arrest Yields New Details On NYC Subway Shooting Suspect’s Attack Timeline

“The man arrested in connection with Tuesday’s rush-hour subway shooting in Brooklyn faces a federal terrorism charge that could send him to prison for life. Frank James, 62, intended “to cause death and serious bodily injury to one or more persons” during a brazen attack on the New York City subway, Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said at a news conference on Wednesday. The federal statute cited by Peace prohibits terrorist and other violent attacks on mass transportation systems. If convicted, James could face as long as life in prison, the prosecutor said. James was arrested Wednesday in Manhattan’s East Village after a 30-hour manhunt. He is expected to appear in court Thursday before a federal magistrate judge, said John Marzulli, a spokesman for Peace. New details about James’s actions before and after the assault emerged in the 10-page criminal complaint filed against him, including that he had carried not one but two bags onto the Manhattan-bound N train. Authorities recovered both. One bag contained a Glock semiautomatic, a plastic container of gasoline, a torch, a key to a U-Haul vehicle and multiple bank cards, the U.S. said. Insider the other bag were fireworks filled with black-powder explosives, according to the complaint prepared by an FBI agent.”

Associated Press: IS Supporter Given Life Sentence For Murdering UK Lawmaker

“An Islamic State supporter was given a whole-life sentence Wednesday for stabbing a British lawmaker to death in revenge for his voting in support for airstrikes on Syria. Ali Harbi Ali, 26, was convicted Monday of murdering Conservative lawmaker David Amess and preparing terrorist acts. A jury deliberated for just 18 minutes before finding him guilty. “The defendant has no remorse or shame for what he has done — quite the reverse,” Justice Nigel Sweeney told the court. “This is a murder that struck at the heart of democracy.” Ali stabbed Amess with a carving knife multiple times on Oct.15 while he was meeting with voters at a church hall in the town of Leigh-on-Sea in eastern England. Ali, a London man with Somali heritage, said he targeted Amess because he backed voting for airstrikes on Syria in 2014 and 2015. The whole-life sentence means Ali will never be eligible for parole, and will likely spend the rest of his days in prison. Amess’s family said “there is no elation” following the sentencing and described the crime as “beyond evil.” “We will wake each day and immediately feel our loss. We will struggle through each day for the rest of our lives,” the family said in a statement. “It breaks our heart to know that our husband and father would have greeted the murderer with a smile of friendship and would have been anxious to help.”

United States

The New York Times: Terrorism Trial Ends With Account Of Aid Worker’s Enslavement

“Federal prosecutors concluded their conspiracy and terrorism case against a British member of the Islamic State on Wednesday with a wrenching account of how an aid worker had been brutalized and sexually assaulted during a year and a half in captivity. For much of her ordeal, the aid worker, Kayla Mueller, 24, was held by a notorious cell of four Islamic State members known for their viciousness and nicknamed “the Beatles” for their British accents, muffled behind black balaclavas. Prosecutors say the defendant, El Shafee Elsheikh, 33, is “Ringo.” For nearly two weeks, they have argued that the polite, bespectacled defendant was a central figure in the Beatles, responsible for drafting ransom emails and mistreating prisoners. Among those captives, they say, were Ms. Mueller and three American men — James Foley, Steven J. Sotloff, and Peter Kassig — who were later beheaded by one of Mr. Elsheikh’s close associates. In his closing remarks, the first assistant U.S. attorney, Raj Parekh, asked jurors to pay particular attention to the suffering endured by Ms. Mueller, who was not only physically abused like the other American captives, but treated as a slave in the months leading up to her death, under mysterious circumstances, in early 2015. “And what about Kayla?” Mr. Parekh asked, as her parents sat stone-faced in the gallery of the ninth-floor courtroom outside Washington.”

WTOP News: The Hunt: Suspect Arrested, Facing Terrorism Charge After Shootings On New York Subway Train

“On the week’s edition of “The Hunt with WTOP national security correspondent JJ Green,” Dr. Hans Jakob Schindler, senior director of the Counter Extremism Project, says this is a “peculiar case.”

Syria

The Times Of Israel: Rahat Teen Arrested For Planning To Join Islamic State In Syria

“An 18-year-old man from the southern Bedouin town of Rahat was arrested last month for planning to join the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, police announced Wednesday. According to a statement, Bashar Alglawe “intensively consumed content identified with the terror organization and supported the organization’s ideas and goals.” Alglawe allegedly made contact with members of Islamic State in Syria in order to fight among the group’s ranks. Police also said he sought to obtain a weapon upon his planned arrival in Syria. He is set to be brought Thursday to the Beersheba District Court, when he is expected to be formally indicted. “The Shin Bet security service and the Israel Police take very seriously any involvement or affiliation of Israeli citizens in terrorist activities, including the Islamic State,” the statement said. The announcement comes amid a wave of arrests of alleged Islamic State members following two deadly terror attacks last month — in Hadera and Beersheba — by Arab Israelis thought to have been inspired by the jihadist group. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks, but it did not appear the terrorists had been instructed by it to commit them. Last week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed an order to hold an Israeli citizen suspected of being an Islamic State operative in administrative detention for four months.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: 240 Russian Air Strikes Target ISIS In Syrian Desert 

“The Russian army has expanded its military operations in the Syrian desert region since early April, following the decline of its operations in March and late February, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The Observatory indicated that the Russian fighter jets launched 240 air raids on the Syrian desert since early April. It stated that Russian fighter jets launched over 55 airstrikes over the past 36 hours, targeting ISIS hideouts and caves in the al-Sokhnah desert in Homs's eastern countryside, al-Rusafa desert Al-Raqqah, and another area in Aleppo-Hama-Al-Raqqah triangle, amid confirmed reports on human and material losses. On Monday, SOHR sources reported that regime security services arrested three new members of “National Defense Forces” from al-Sokhnah town in the eastern countryside of Homs for “communicating with ISIS cells.” The security services arrested the commander of the National Defense in al-Sokhnah town for communicating with ISIS cells earlier. SOHR monitored a security alert among regime forces and Iranian militias in Palmyra, anticipating sudden attacks by ISIS cells on military positions in the area.”

Afghanistan

Bloomberg: Will Afghanistan’s Media Survive Under The Taliban?

“This is one of a series of interviews by Bloomberg Opinion columnists on how to solve the world’s most pressing policy challenges. It has been edited for length and clarity. Bobby Ghosh: You’re the Dubai-based founder and CEO of the Moby Group, which launched Afghanistan’s first independent radio and TV networks after the fall of the Taliban in 2002. Twenty years later, the return of the Taliban has put the future of the country’s media in jeopardy. Your company’s networks, including the wildly popular TOLO TV and TOLOnews, have remained on the air, covering the new government despite considerable risks to your journalists. Before we discuss the challenges you’re currently facing, let’s go back to the start. It’s 22 years ago and the Taliban is about to fall in Kabul. Where’s your head at this moment? What are you thinking? What makes you want to go to Afghanistan and launch a television channel? Saad Mohseni, founder and CEO, Moby Group: In the late 1980s, when the Soviets withdrew, there was a window of opportunity. The communist regime of President Mohammad Najibullah was telling everyone, “Listen, let’s work together.” But Afghans like me, in our twenties, didn’t see it as an opportunity. We felt it would be best to see this government just go away and then we’ll have a fresh start with the groups that fought the Soviets.”

Pakistan

The News: ‘Pakistan Has Positive Trade Balance With Germany’

“…Dr. Hans Jakob Schindler, Coordinator, Counter-Extremism Project, New York, said that counter-terrorism is a common area of interest for Berlin and Islamabad. He said his organisation monitors activities of terrorist outfits from ISIS to the Taliban from Iraq to Pakistan. He stressed female education in Afghanistan. He said ISIS carries out activities in Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Maldives and Central Asia also. Gen (r) Raza Muhammad, former President, National Defence University, discussed Iqbal’s poetic influence on Iran, Turkey, and the Middle East and mentioned his stay in Germany. He said that Islamophobia in India has made SAARC dysfunctional. He said that Indian policy is affecting stability in Afghanistan. He said that the implementation of Sharia and the desire to preserve culture is a priority for the Taliban. He hoped that co-education will soon be acceptable to the Taliban but segregation is important to them at the moment. Dr. Hassan Daud Butt, CEO, KPK, BoI, said that we have potential in agriculture, livestock, mines, and minerals and we can integrate with the EU. He sought help in human resources and investment coming from Europe while keeping politics away. Aamir Goraya, Assistant Resident Representative, Crisis Prevention and Recovery Unit, UNDP, spoke about key areas of his UN body’s working in Afghanistan.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Arab-Israelis Have No Appetite For Another Wave Of Violence - Analysis

“Soon after the first terror attack last month in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba that launched the current wave of violence, Sheikh Muhammad Abu al-Qiyan, maternal uncle of the terrorist – also named Muhammad Abu al-Qiyan and a resident of the Bedouin village of Hura, made an appearance on Israel’s Channel 12. “The whole tribe condemns this attack. We do not support it at all. We also despise ISIS. This deed and this guy, even though he was my nephew, do not represent us,” said Abu al-Qiyan. He repeated this message several times, speaking to the Hebrew media to explain how it could be that his relative – a father of five – was suspected of loyalty to ISIS, was arrested, served four years in an Israeli jail, and then one day woke up and slaughtered four Israeli citizens, two men and two women. But as tension mounted, many in Israel expressed doubts about the sincerity of his condemnations. It was not only the heads of the Abu al-Qiyan tribe that denounced the Beersheba terror attack, as well as the next terrorist attack that took place in the northern Israeli city of Hadera and was carried out by residents of the Israeli Arab city of Umm al-Fahm.”

Nigeria

Associated Press: Nigeria Says Armed Gangs In North Are Working With Militants

“Armed gangs attacking remote communities in Nigeria’s troubled northwest are now working with extremist rebels who have waged a decade-long insurgency in the country's northeast, a top government official said Wednesday. The gunmen and the Islamist rebels are in “an unholy handshake,” Nigeria’s Minister of Information Lai Mohammed told reporters, for the first time confirming a collaboration that security analysts have warned of. The result of the alliance is the recent deadly train attack near Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, said the minister. Explosives were used to blow up the rail track in that attack in which eight passengers were killed and more than 100 were abducted and remain missing. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 206 million people, has been battling violence in its troubled north and an alliance between the two groups could worsen the crisis, analysts told The Associated Press. The security crisis is dominated by two groups: bandits many of whom are formerly herdsmen now carrying arms and Islamic extremist rebels of the Boko Haram group and its breakaway faction the Islamic State in West Africa Province. The partnership between the groups “might drive further attacks on innocent civilians and state infrastructure,” said Oluwole Ojewale of the Africa-focused Institute of Security Studies, as the extremists move their insurgency beyond the northeast where they had been largely restricted for many years.”

CBS News: Nigeria Leader Vows “No Mercy” For Gunmen Behind Massacre That Left More Than 150 Dead In Country's North

“Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed there will be “no mercy” for gunmen who killed more than 150 people in a series of weekend attacks in the country's north. In some of the worst violence Nigeria has seen this year, armed gunmen on motorcycles raided and razed a group of villages in the northern Plateau state, highlighting growing insecurity in the region. Villagers have been scouring bushes and other terrain for missing loved ones since the Sunday attacks. Many locals were shot trying to flee from the gunmen. Residents have said women and children were abducted by the attackers, but the number of those abducted remained unclear. More than 80 victims were buried earlier this week in mass funeral services in the four villages, as additional security forces arrived in the area. In a statement issued by his spokesman, President Buhari urged residents to “expose the perpetrators of such incidents, their sponsors and those who encourage such criminals who carry out these dastardly acts of murder, so that the law will take its course.” A burnt house is seen in Kukawa village, in the Kanam Local Government Area of Nigeria's northern Plateau state, April 12, 2022, after an attack by bandits. Eyewitnesses said more than 100 houses were set alight, as well as a cell phone tower.”

Africa

Reuters: Armed Men Kill 11 Security Force Members In Niger Attacks, Government Says

“Unidentified armed men killed seven border police and four National Guard members in separate attacks in different parts of Niger, the government said on Wednesday. Both of the attacks were on Tuesday - one on a police post in Petelkole, on the western border with Burkina Faso, and one on a National Guard position in Djado, in the northern region of Agadez, a government statement said. Niger, like its neighbours Mali and Burkina Faso, is battling groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State which have killed thousands and displaced millions across West Africa's Sahel region. The attackers also stole vehicles from both security posts and more than 10 people were wounded, the government said. Niger's interior minister said security had been reinforced in both zones following the attacks.”

All Africa: Kenya Unveils Inter-Agency Guidelines To Combat Terrorism And Terrorism Financing

“The fight against terrorism has received a major boost following the launch of the inter-agency guidelines on cooperation and collaboration in investigation and prosecution of terrorism and terrorism financing. The guidelines, released on Tuesday, are intended to improve organizational partnerships between investigative agencies and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, in collaboration with criminal justice partners, as well as to ensure effective coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of terror related offenses. Speaking during the event, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji said that the guidelines will enhance accountability and efficiency in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism and terrorism financing. The DPP stated that it will also enable sharing of information between different agencies and provide for a model for inter-agency information sharing which he said has been a challenge in the past. “These Guidelines are pivotal and significant as for the first time we have developed a joint cooperation framework comprising financial agencies, investigators, and prosecutors to detect, investigate, and prosecute terrorism and related offences,” Haji said.”

United Kingdom

Cap X: Terrorists Like Sir David Amess’ Killer Are Gaming The System

“When two unarmed officers arrested the murderer of Sir David Amess MP, they did society an enormous favour. The assailant, Ali Harbi Ali, now a convicted Islamist terrorist due to be sentenced today, wanted to be martyred. Denying him that narcissistic prize, and putting him on trial, has helped us know more about what needs to be done to stop violent extremists. I hope that gift wakes him up every morning for the decades he will spend behind bars. We can’t talk to dead terrorists, however much some deserve that fate. So it’s people like Harbi Ali who hold a mirror up to the systems and doctrines we use to try to interrupt the journey from thought and lethal action. It’s not a pretty sight. This is his reported experience of our national ‘Prevent’ scheme – the strand of our counter terrorism strategy that attempts to identify people at risk of descending into violent extremism. While doing his A levels he was referred to Prevent by a teacher because his academic performance crashed at the same time as many young people were making their way to Syria to join IS. He was interviewed by two police officers who were concerned enough to refer him to Prevent’s ‘Channel’ programme, which decides and implements interventions for those most at risk of being radicalised. To give this some context, in 2020/21 government statistics say only 14% of those initially referred to Prevent actually received a Channel intervention.”

France

Politico: Paris Terror Attacks Suspect Abdeslam ‘Gave Up’ On Blowing Himself Up

“The main suspect on trial for the 2015 Paris terror attacks, Salah Abdeslam, on Wednesday told a court that he decided against blowing himself up as planned on the evening of November 13, 2015. “I’m walking into this bar in the 18th [arrondissement], I’m ordering a drink, I’m looking at people around me, and I’m like, ‘no, I’m not going to do it.’ I gave up, I left, I took the car,” he said during the final hearing of his trial. Abdeslam had refused to speak to the court during his hearing two weeks ago but broke his silence on Wednesday. “I’m going to explain myself because this is the last time I can do it. I’m going to do the best I can, I’m going to do my best,” he said after complaining about his portrayal in the media. Abdeslam said he had been told about the plans for France by another member of the jihadist group behind the attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud. “He told me about blowing myself up and it was a shock. I was thinking of going to Syria. I didn’t feel ready,” Abdeslam said. On the evening of November 13, Abdeslam abandoned the car in which he had transported three suicide bombers from the Stade de France. He said he was at that point still wearing his explosive belt, which he threw away shortly after.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: German Police Bust Right-Wing Group Planning Attack On Energy Grid

“Police in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate say they have broken up a right-wing extremist chat group that was seeking to bring down Germany's democracy. The State Criminal Police Office (LKA) in Mainz said Wednesday that individuals from a group calling itself the “Vereinte Patrioten” (United Patriots) planned bomb attacks on Germany's energy infrastructure in hopes of creating lasting nationwide power outages that would spark a “civil war-like” situation. The group figured that such an attack would then enable the toppling of Germany's elected government and ultimately its democratic system. The LKA said nationwide raids were carried out against the group for its bombing plans and other violent activities. Authorities said they would provide further details on the case at a press conference alongside investigators from the Koblenz General Prosecutor's Office at 10:00 a.m. (UTC) on Thursday. Wednesday's arrests come just one week after a massive nationwide police operation led to the arrests of four key individuals. Some 800 police raided 60 locations tied to the neo-Nazi groups “Atomwaffen Division” (AWD), “Combat 18” (C18) and “Knockout 51” (K51).”

Daily Mail: Neo-Nazi Who Tried To Launch A 'Civil Race War' By Launching Attacks With 600 Homemade Bombs And Guns To 'Preserve The White Population' Is Hit With Terror Charge In Germany

“German federal prosecutors today said they had charged a suspected neo-Nazi with attempting to set off a 'civil race war' in Germany with planned attacks using 600 homemade explosives and guns to 'preserve the white population'. A week after authorities swooped on alleged far-right militant cells in raids across Germany, the federal prosecutor's office named the suspect only as Marvin E. and said he had been in detention since September 2021. Marvin E., 20, from Spangenberg in northern Hesse, faces charges of attempting to form a terrorist organisation, as well as preparation of a grievous seditious attack and various weapons law violations.   Prosecutors said in a statement that Marvin E., 'shares the ideology' of Atomwaffen Division (Atomic Weapons Division, AWD), an international neo-Nazi terrorist network founded in 2015 in the United States. Marvin E. intended from the summer of 2021 to launch 'a civil race war' over the next three years 'to preserve the white population', they said. Investigators found 600 homemade explosive devices when they searched his apartment in September last year, as well as a far-right manifesto in which Marvin E. called for the 'race war', reports local news site Hessenschau.”

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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