Eye on Extremism: April 23, 2021

The New York Times: Port Authority Bomber Is Sentenced To Life In Prison

“It was 6 a.m. on a Monday in December in 2017 when Akayed Ullah left his Brooklyn apartment with a homemade pipe bomb packed with metal screws strapped to his chest. He headed into the 18th Avenue subway station, boarded an F train and took it to Jay Street MetroTech. There, he changed to an A train and while riding into Manhattan, he posted a message on Facebook: “O Trump you fail to protect your nation.” Mr. Ullah got off at Port Authority and entered the crowded underground passageway that runs toward Times Square. There, as he walked, he detonated the bomb, setting off a blast that filled the tunnel with smoke and sent thousands of commuters fleeing. It was, the authorities have said, nothing short of a miracle that Mr. Ullah, an immigrant from Bangladesh, did not kill anyone. The makeshift bomb malfunctioned, seriously injuring him and sending shrapnel into the leg of a nearby pedestrian. Some victims experienced partial hearing loss. On Thursday, Mr. Ullah, 31, was sentenced to life imprisonment by a federal judge who rejected his request for mercy. “This was a calculated, premeditated decision to kill as many people as you could,” the judge, Richard J. Sullivan, said, “all in the name of an organization that is dedicated to spreading terror.”

BBC News: National Action: Co-Founder Charged With Terrorism Offences

“A co-founder of the British neo-Nazi group National Action has been charged with remaining a member after it was outlawed. Ben Raymond, 31, from Swindon, is also charged with three counts of possessing documents useful to a terrorist. National Action was created in 2013, but it was banned as a terrorist organisation three years later. Mr Raymond is alleged to have stayed in the organisation between December 2016 and September 2017. The documents charges relate to 2016 and 2017. Detectives from West Midlands Police interviewed Mr Raymond under caution on 20, 21 and 22 April at a Wiltshire police station. He was charged earlier and will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on 28 April.”

United States

CNN: Right Wing's Long History Of Deflecting On Extremism

“The memorial service marking 26 years since the Oklahoma City bombing, coming just months after the insurrection at the Capitol, had the potential to focus attention on the continuities between the far-right extremism behind both the 1995 bombing and this year's insurrection. The new attorney general -- Merrick Garland -- was the ideal person to speak at the memorial: he worked on the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers, and in his recent confirmation hearings, vowed to not only prioritize the investigations into the insurrection, but to focus on the extremism behind it. Garland, however, was not the only speaker at the event. Though he praised Garland's work on the case and acknowledged the tragedy of the loss of human life that day, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt also slid in a bit of grievance politics. “There are groups that refuse to listen to another point of view,” he grumbled before slyly referencing one of the right's current hobby horses, liberal cancel culture. “They try to cancel anyone who sees the world differently.” His comments may not seem so over-the-top.”

Vice: An Iraqi Refugee Falsely Accused Of Being An ISIS Killer Can Stay In The US, For Now

“Omar Ameen was close to getting out. A refugee accused of killing an Iraqi police officer on behalf of the Islamic State, he was due to be freed after two years in jail on Wednesday when a federal judge in California ruled there was insufficient evidence to extradite him to Iraq. But in a last-ditch effort to keep Ameen locked up, the U.S. government sicced Immigration and Customs Enforcement on him, dealing a crushing setback to Ameen’s legal team, who had just won their case in extradition court. Ameen, an Iraqi national who’d relocated to the U.S. with his family through the refugee resettlement process, was arrested at his Sacramento apartment in August 2018 as part of an extradition request from the Iraqi government. The issued warrant said Ameen was a high-ranking ISIS commander responsible for the 2014 murder of Ihsan Abdulhafiz Jasim, a police officer in Rawah, a small town in Iraq’s Anbar Province. Ameen’s arrest made international headlines, and his case helped drive home a narrative the Trump administration had been pushing for years: Terrorists are gaming our immigration system to infiltrate the U.S. and carry out attacks.”

Iran

Associated Press: Gunmen Kill Two Guard Members In Iran’s Kurdish Area

“Unknown gunmen suspected of terrorism killed two members of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, the official IRNA news agency reported on Thursday. The Guard members also killed two gunmen and wounded several of their accomplices in the Wednesday night shootout near Kurdish town of Marivan, near the border of Iraq. It said other several other members of the terrorist group fled the site of the clash. The report identified the fallen Guard members as Osman Jahani and Nasser Amini without giving their rank. It said they were buried on Thursday in Marvian cemetery, which suggested they were local forces of the Guard. Iran’s Kurdish area has seen occasional fighting between Iranian forces and Kurdish separatists, as well as militants linked to the extremist Islamic State group. In December, unknown gunmen killed three Iranian border guards in the Kurdish area near the country’s northwestern border with Turkey. In July, Iran said “terrorists” killed two people and wounded a third person in an attack in a Kurdish area. In June, Iran attacked bases of Iranian Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq.”

Iraq

Associated Press: Iraqi Military: 3 Rockets Strike Close To Baghdad Airport

“At least three rockets hit near Baghdad international airport late Thursday, the Iraqi military said. A total of eight missiles were fired and three landed near the airport complex, the statement said. It did not detail whether the attack caused casualties. The rockets struck areas known to contain Iraqi security forces. One hit close to a central prison, the second near an academy of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, and a third near the headquarters of the Rapid Response regiment. No one claimed responsibility for the attacks. U.S. officials have previously blamed Iran-backed militia groups. It is the latest in a string of rocket attacks that have primarily targeted American installations in Iraq in recent weeks. On Sunday, multiple rockets hit an Iraqi airbase just north of Baghdad, wounding two Iraqi security personnel. Last month, a base in western Iraq housing U.S.-led coalition troops and contractors was hit by 10 rockets. One contractor was killed. Calls from mainly Shiite leaders have grown to oust U.S. troops from Iraq after a U.S.-directed drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader in Baghdad in January 2020. Strategic talks between the U.S. and Iraq have focused on the future of U.S. troop presence in the country.”

Turkey

Daily Sabah: Turkish Security Forces Eliminate 465 Senior Terrorists In 6 Years

“A total of 465 high-ranking terrorists belonging to organizations like the PKK and Daesh have been eliminated in operations since 2015. Information about the wanted terrorists' identities, photographs and details about the organizations they belonged to have been shared on the website “www.terorarananlar.pol.tr” according to information obtained by Anadolu Agency (AA) from security sources. The wanted terrorists are organized on the website in five categories: red, blue, green, orange and gray, according to their seniority in the terrorist organizations they belong to. In this context, nine terrorists in 2015, 102 terrorists in 2016, 69 terrorists in 2017, 75 terrorists in 2018, 121 terrorists In 2019 and 80 terrorists in 2020 have been eliminated. Since the beginning of the year, nine high-level terrorists, two of whom are classified as red, three as orange and four who fall into the gray category, have been eliminated. To date, the number of so-called senior terrorists that have been eliminated since 2015 has reached 465, of which 31 were classified as red, 27 as blue, 28 as green, 64 as orange and 315 as gray.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Death Toll From Suicide Car Bombing Rises To 5 In Pakistan

“An overnight attack at a luxury hotel in Pakistan has been confirmed as a suicide car bombing and the death toll has risen to five, the country’s interior minister and police said Thursday. In a statement, the counter-terrorism department said five people were killed and about a dozen wounded in Wednesday’s attack in the parking lot of the Serena hotel, in the southwestern city of Quetta. Four deaths had been initially reported. Pakistani Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing. The bombing took place as Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong visited Quetta city. In a statement, the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, said it targeted a meeting of Pakistani and foreign officials. It did not elaborate. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said explosives weighing 60 to 70 kilograms were used in the attack. He said the suicide bomber was in his explosive-laden car at the time. He said the Chinese ambassador was in Quetta at the time of the attack, but was not inside the hotel and that he was safe. In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said China “strongly condemns” the attack and extended sympathies to the victims, but said the investigation was in the hands of the Pakistani authorities.”

The Defense Post: Pakistan Taliban Claim Deadly Blast At Luxury Hotel

“The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility Thursday for a deadly bomb blast at a luxury hotel hosting the Chinese ambassador in the southwest of the country, as officials raised the death toll to five. Beijing said it strongly condemned the attack, although the Taliban said Pakistan security officials were the target of the blast. The bomb was placed in a car parked at the Serena hotel — part of a five-star chain popular with diplomats — and detonated late Wednesday in the city of Quetta, capital of Balochistan province. Pakistan is fighting several low-level insurgencies in the impoverished province waged by Islamist, separatist and sectarian groups. “The suicide bomber hit the security officials exactly as it was planned,” the spokesperson for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) said in a statement. Police said the blast came from an improvised explosive device, and security officials and hotel staff were among those killed. Describing the blast as a “terrorist attack,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing that the Chinese delegation was not present when the bomb detonated.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Terror Candidates Must Not Run In Palestinian Elections, US Tells UNSC

“The United States cautioned against allowing Palestinian politicians who do not recognize Israel or who support terrorist activity — such as members of Hamas or the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — from running in the upcoming Palestinian elections when it addressed the United Nations Security Council on Thursday. “I want to acknowledge the upcoming Palestinians elections, which we believe are a matter for the Palestinian people to determine,” the political coordinator for the US Mission to the UN Rodney Hunter told the UNSC. “The United States and other key partners have long been clear that participants in the democratic process must accept previous agreements, renounce violence and terrorism, and recognize Israel’s right to exist,” Hunter said. Hunter spoke as the Palestinians prepare for their first Legislative Council election since 2006 set for May 22nd, in which 132 seats must be filled. The Biden administration has been supportive of the elections, but on Thursday it revived a set of criteria for those elections that had in the past been held by the Quartet and the former Bush administration. The Quartet is composed of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.”

Somalia

The Hill: Top General: Somalia Withdrawal Made Counterterrorism Missions Riskier

“The withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Somalia has hindered intelligence gathering, making continued U.S. counterterrorism operations more difficult, the top U.S. general for the region said Thursday. “There's no denying that the repositioning of forces out of Somalia has introduced new layers of complexity and risk,” U.S. Africa Command chief Gen. Stephen Townsend told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Our understanding of what's happening in Somalia is less now than it was when we were there on the ground physically located with our partners.” In the final months of his tenure, former President Trump ordered almost all of the 700 U.S. troops that were in Somalia to withdraw. The troops were in Somalia to help local security forces fight al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab and the local ISIS affiliate. While Trump framed the move as part of his efforts to end “forever wars,” most of the U.S. troops that left Somalia were repositioned to other nearby countries such as Kenya and Djibouti and have continued to conduct operations inside Somalia. “We have been commuting to work,” Townsend said Thursday. “We work virtually with our partners from our bases in the region, and then we fly in to conduct training and to advise and assist our partners.” Over the past 90 days, there have been four such operations to train, advise and assist forces inside Somalia, including one that is ongoing, Townsend added.”

Africa

Reuters: With Eye On Islamist Fight, France Backs Chad Military Takeover

“France defended the Chadian army's takeover of power on Thursday after the battlefield death of President Idriss Deby presented Paris with an uncomfortable choice - back an unconstitutional military leader or risk undermining its fight against Islamists. While the opaque political and business ties that once bound France to its ex-colonies in Africa have frayed over the last decade, interests remain closely intertwined and under Deby's rule Chad was a key ally in combatting Islamists in the Sahel. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian justified the installation of a military council headed by Deby's son on the grounds that stability and security were paramount at this time. “There are exceptional circumstances,” Le Drian told France 2 television. Deby's son Mahamat took control of the country and its armed forces on Wednesday, dissolving the parliament and suspending the constitution. According to the constitution, National Assembly Speaker Haroun Kabadi should have taken over. Opponents called the move a coup. “Logically, it should be Mr Kabadi...but he refused because of the exceptional security reasons that were needed to ensure the stability of this country,” Le Drian said.”

Financial Times: A Warrior Dynasty In Chad Will Do Little To End Islamist Threat

“Franklin D Roosevelt is supposed to have said of Anastasio Somoza, the late Nicaraguan dictator: “He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” That broadly sums up the west’s attitude towards Idriss Déby, Chad’s “warrior president”, who was killed on the battlefield this week after 31 years in power. In a less troubled part of the world, Déby might have been seen for what he was: a brutal dictator and a warlord. The son of a poor herder from Chad’s northern desert lands, he rose through the military after training in France, and seized power in a 1990 coup. Though he began with seemingly good intentions, he crystallised into a hardened strongman. He bought off his rivals, if they were lucky, and enriched his cronies with oil profits. For three decades, he ran a militarised state in which the armed forces, the best equipped and most professional in the region, sucked up most resources. His country’s 16m people were pretty much left to fend for themselves. Literacy rates are little above 30 per cent and life expectancy is 54 years. The UN’s human development index ranks Chad 187 out of 189. If Déby was a warrior, he was not good at combating human misery. But Chad does lie in a troubled neighbourhood.”

All Africa: Mozambique: Palma Terror Attack Causes 95 Million USD In Losses

“The Confederation of Mozambican Business Associations (CTA) has recorded financial losses estimated at 95 million US dollars, after the terror attack of 24 March against the town of Palma, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. These losses include destruction of property, delayed deliveries, delayed payments and commodities in transit with no certainty of delivery. Briefing reporters at a Maputo press conference on Tuesday to outline the preliminary results of the impact on the country's Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), caused by the latest attack, the CTA chairperson, Agostinho Vuma, said nearly 410 companies and almost 56,000 jobs had been affected by terrorist attacks. “Mocimboa da Praia district has been the worst hit, with nearly 40 per cent of the companies affected and 23 per cent of the jobs lost,” Vuma said, after separate meetings held with the French Ambassador to Mozambique, David Izzo, and the leadership of the French oil and gas company Total. Among a wide variety of issues raised at the meetings, Vuma said, the CTA expressed profound concern with delays in payments by Total and its contractors which have become a nightmare for the Mozambican private sector.”

United Kingdom

Daily Mail: Is This Britain's Most Dangerous Family? Two Brothers Who Fought For Isis In Syria. Another Jailed For Life Here. One More Brother, A Sister (And Her Husband) Put In UK Prisons For Spreading Hate — And The List Goes On

“Four years ago and in the run‑up to Remembrance Day three young men headed to a high street in an East London suburb to put up some posters. The design featured a red poppy — but this was no patriotic gesture. Closer inspection revealed images of a skull and Union Flag in the centre of the flower, alongside which were the silhouettes of five black warplanes. 'British terror: lest we forget,' read the accompanying slogan. 'Britain uses your tax money to kill Muslims in Muslim lands. Don't betray your ummah [community] — do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies.' The message could not have been clearer — 'them' against 'us'. That such a sentiment could have been expressed so brazenly in 21st‑century Britain will shock many. But what is even more shocking is how such views had come to infect a whole family, with consequences not just for them but for wider society. Because the three fly-posting on that day were all related: brothers Sahayb and Muhamed Abu, and their half-brother Ahmed Aweys. While not charged with any offence over the poster, all would subsequently go on to find themselves in the dock for terror offences.”

New Zealand

The Guardian: Christchurch Terrorist Drops Legal Challenge Over New Zealand Prison Conditions

“The gunman who killed 51 people in the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks has reportedly dropped legal challenges over his prison conditions and his status as a “terrorist entity”. A document released by Justice Geoffrey Venning showed Brenton Tarrant had withdrawn his application, the New Zealand Herald reported on Friday. The document was not immediately available from the court. White supremacist Tarrant was last August jailed for life without parole for the murder of 51 people and attempted murder of 40 others at two mosques in Christchurch on 15 March 15, 2019, the worst mass shooting in the country’s history. Tarrant, an Australian national, is the only person in New Zealand to have been designated as a terrorist. He had launched the legal challenge last week and was due to represent himself but failed to appear in court for the hearing. He had requested a judicial review, which looks at whether decisions have been made appropriately within the law, of his access to mail and news while in prison and his designation as a terrorist entity, and was not appealing against his sentence. He remains in a maximum security prison in Auckland, where he is in solitary confinement.”

Europe

The National: Austrian Police Find 'Enemies List' In Raids Targeting Muslim Brotherhood And Hamas

“Raids on suspected Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas members in Austria last year led to the discovery of an “enemies list” of opponents of political Islam, according to people targeted by the groups. Austrian police carried out dozens of raids in an anti-terrorism operation last November, which led to 30 arrests. Operation Luxor, took place in the early morning with searches at more than 60 addresses allegedly linked to Islamist extremists in four different regions. The Styria region prosecutors' office said in a statement it was “carrying out investigations against more than 70 suspects and against several associations which are suspected of belonging to and supporting the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas organisations” It came days after four people were killed when a gunman who had previously been convicted of trying to join ISIS opened fire in Vienna, although the two investigations were not linked. Kawther Salam, a Palestinian journalist living in Vienna, told eXXpress that authorities had shown her a list of names, including hers, which was reportedly found in the files of one of the suspects targeted in the raids. “I have nothing against Islam. But to the Muslim Brotherhood I am apparently an enemy,” she said.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

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