Eye on Extremism: April 27, 2021

The National: France To Introduce Extremism Bill After Terrorist Attacks

“The French senate is set to consider a new counterterrorism bill to tackle extremism following a spate of terrorist attacks. French interior minister Gerald Darmanin will present the new intelligence bill at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The bill was fast-tracked following the murder of teacher Samuel Paty last October and comes just days after a terror attack in Paris which saw a female police employee stabbed to death. It will extend measures enabling authorities to shut down places of worship and better monitor those convicted of terrorism when they are released from prison. President Emanuel Macron's government has introduced the legislation in a bid to tackle religious extremism. The bill, which will allow the government to track foreign funding of mosques, has been condemned by some critics who see it as stigmatising Muslims. A police officer holds flowers brought by people to the scene of the attack in Rambouillet, south-west of French capital Paris. On Friday, Mr Macron reaffirmed his commitment to tackling extremism and vowed to “never give in” in the fight against Islamist terrorism. Mr Darmanin said the bill was needed to toughen anti-terrorist measures, including increased use of computer algorithms to detect potential terror threats among internet users.”

Reuters: Sources: More Than 30 Nigerian Soldiers Killed In Militant Attack

“Militants overrun an army base in northeastern Nigeria, killing more than 30 soldiers before pulling back in the face of air strikes, sources said. The attackers were believed to belong to the regional offshoot of Islamic State. They hit the base in Mainok town in northeast Borno state on Sunday afternoon, three soldiers and a local resident told Reuters. Rising insecurity across Nigeria has killed scores of soldiers and civilians this year. Just over a month ago about 30 soldiers were killed in four attacks by Islamist militants in northeast Nigeria. A military spokesman reached by phone said they would issue a statement on the incident but declined to comment further. The sources told Reuters that 33 soldiers were killed in Sunday's attack. The militants wore military camouflage and arrived in around 16 gun trucks and six mine-resistant military vehicles, one of the soldiers said. After several hours, they captured the base and soldiers called in airstrikes. More soldiers were killed when militants ambushed reinforcements sent to help, the soldier sources said. A resident said the attackers also set ablaze the town's police headquarters. “I saw them while fighting with soldiers,” resident Ba Umar Abba Tuja told Reuters.”

United States

The New York Times: Homeland Security Will Assess How It Identifies Extremism In Its Ranks

“The Department of Homeland Security will undergo an internal review to root out white supremacy and extremism in its ranks as part of a larger effort to combat extremist ideology in the federal government, officials said on Monday. The task of identifying extremists throughout the United States, and specifically in government agencies, has come to the top of President Biden’s agenda since Jan. 6, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. Many of the rioters were found to be members of extremist groups. “We recognize that domestic violent extremism and the ideology, the extremist ideologies that spew it, are prevalent,” said Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary. “We have a responsibility, given what we do, to ensure that that pernicious influence does not exist in our department.” The review comes shortly after the Pentagon completed a 60-day “stand down” to address extremism after a number of veterans were found to have taken part in the Capitol riot. The Biden administration is assessing whether other agencies will have similar inquiries as part of a broader review started this year to assess how the federal government combats domestic extremist threats.”

The Washington Post: Supreme Court To Consider Terrorism Suspect Abu Zubaida’s Request To Learn More About His CIA-Sponsored Torture

“The Supreme Court on Monday said it would take up a request by a Guantánamo Bay terrorism suspect for more information about his CIA-sponsored torture, a disclosure the U.S. government opposes, calling it a threat to national security. The prisoner is Abu Zubaida, once a prized capture whose torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been extensively documented. But the government has invoked the “state secrets” privilege to oppose his efforts for additional information about foreign intelligence officials who partnered with the CIA in detention facilities abroad. The government already has declassified vast amounts of information about Abu Zubaida, whose birth name is Zayn al-Abidin Muhammed Hussein and whose closeness to Osama bin Laden, the deceased founder of al-Qaeda, is now questioned. But he and his attorney have asked for more disclosure and to question two CIA contractors, James Mitchell and John Jessen, about the interrogations. Abu Zubaida wants the information because he has intervened, through his attorneys, in a Polish investigation of the CIA’s conduct in that country, where he was once held. His request was opposed by then-CIA director Mike Pompeo, who said the disclosure “reasonably could be expected to cause serious, and in many instances, exceptionally grave damage to U.S. national security.”

Turkey

Voice Of America: Turkey Puts 108 Pro-Kurdish Party Officials On Trial

“One hundred and eight prominent members of Turkey's pro-Kurdish HDP went on trial in the capital, Ankara, Monday in connection with violent nationwide protests in 2014 that left 37 people dead. The protests were against the government's failure to militarily intervene as the Islamic State was poised to overrun the predominantly Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, on Turkey's border. Speaking outside the courthouse Monday, HDP co-chair Mithat Sancar said the trial is politically motivated. “The party official called this a case of revenge which he said is the product of the defeats that the HDP has made the government suffer,” Sancar said. Ankara accuses the YPG Syrian Kurdish fighters defending Kobane of being terrorists no different from Islamic State militants. The government is vigorously defending the prosecution, claiming the defendants have to be held to account for the deaths in the 2014 unrest. But Emma Sinclair Webb of the New York-based Human Rights Watch said the case is part of an alarming trend.”

Afghanistan

Stars And Stripes: Taliban Collects Nearly $1 Billion From Control Of Afghan Businesses

“Running a business in Afghanistan has one unspoken rule: Pay the Taliban. Abdul Ahad Wahidi learned that the hard way when insurgents blew up a gas pipeline last year that fuels the country's only fertilizer plant after its operator refused to pay up. Now he and other workers at the factory fork over 14% of their wages to the Taliban — nearly five times more than they pay the government in taxes. “The government can't protect the pipeline, which forced us to compromise with the government's enemy,” said Wahidi, who heads the labor union at the plant in northern Afghanistan. “Paying a part of our revenue to the Taliban is much better than the closure of the factory.” That's just one example of the vast array of hostile arrangements forced on Afghan businesses by the Taliban, which controls or contests more than half the country. The group collects as much as $1.5 billion a year from similar mafia-like deals, control over the drug trade and donations from abroad, a United Nations Security Council report said last year. That's equal to roughly 25% of the government's annual budget.”

Asia Times: Cause To Fear A Taliban Victory In Afghanistan

“With a US troop withdrawal set for September and a national peace deal nowhere in sight, Afghanistan’s Taliban is claiming victory in its long war to retake power in Kabul. Taliban leader Haji Hekmat told the BBC soon after US President Joe Biden announced this month that he would bring home all American troops in Afghanistan by September 11 that “we have won the war and America has lost.” The hardline leader made it clear what a Taliban victory would look like for those who favor the country’s current secular, democratic system. “We want an Islamic government ruled by the sharia. We will continue our jihad until they accept our demands,” Hekmat said. The Taliban’s declaration of victory means it no longer views itself as a mere rebel outfit fighting for a fundamental shift in Afghanistan’s existing US-backed system of government led by President Ashraf Ghani. Rather, the Taliban now clearly sees itself as a government-in-waiting with hard-line plans to replace what it sees as a “rotten” and “un-Islamic” system of governance imported from the West and with an Islamic emirate. The Taliban’s recently released governance manifesto openly rejects democracy and calls for an “Islamic system [that] has been described and its principles stated and compiled in the Koran, Ahadeeth and in Islamic jurisprudence.”

CNS News: As US Troop Withdrawal Advances, Numerous Terror Groups Remain Active In Afghanistan

“…Since 2017, military analysts have identified some 20 terror groups operating against the Afghan government, a figure that has largely remained steady, despite the splintering and morphing of different outfits. “The counting of how many different groups operate in Afghanistan is more an art form than a counting job since terrorist networks had the habit of changing, cooperating and separating over the past two decades,” said Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director at the Counter Extremism Project. “What is clear is that, in addition to the Taliban, there are several additional groups operating in Afghanistan.” They include the remnants of a decimated but not dead al-Qaeda network, ISIS, the Haqqani Network – a Taliban offshoot known in the U.S. for having held U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl captive – as well as a patchwork of other violent groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan), and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. All of these are U.S.-designated FTOs. As President Ashraf Ghani has noted, many of these terrorist groups are based in, or have some form of a coordinating presence in, neighboring Pakistan.”

Middle East

France 24: 10 Years After Death, Bin Laden Still Mobilises Jihadists

“A decade after he was hunted down and killed in Pakistan by US special forces, Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden retains the capacity to mobilise extremists even in a polarised jihadist scene that has radically changed in the last years. Even though Bin Laden's body was buried in the Arabian Sea from the deck of a US aircraft carrier hours after his death, to avoid the creation of any pilgrimage site on land, he remains an example and symbol for many radical Islamists. The Saudi national shrewdly understood the importance of propaganda that has helped project his charismatic image long after his death. In videos he took to appearing with an assault rifle at his side, despite rarely seeing direct combat himself. “Osama bin Laden carefully curated his public persona to cultivate a dedicated following,” said Katherine Zimmerman, an advisor for the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute's. “His image -- that of a devout Muslim in more traditional dress, but always with his AK-74 at arm's reach and often in his camouflage jacket -- was tailored to portray himself as a leader in the jihad, both spiritually and militarily,” she said.”

Egypt

Star Tribune: Egypt Officials: 9 Men Executed For 2013 Attack On Police

“Egyptian authorities Monday executed nine men convicted of murder in an attack on a police station in 2013, security officials and a rights lawyer said. The assault resulted in the deaths of 15 people, including 11 police. The nine men were found guilty of attacking a police station in the town of Kerdasa close to the pyramids at Giza in 2013 in the aftermath of the military's ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, according to the officials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media. Egypt was one of four Middle Eastern countries topping the global list of executioners in 2020, according to Amnesty International. The Arab world's most populous country held 107 executions last year, a significant increase from the 32 recorded in 2019, the group said. Egypt's government has fought Islamist insurgents in Sinai Peninsula and sometimes on the mainland in the years since Morsi's removal. An Islamic State affiliate based in northern Sinai Peninsula has repeatedly targeted security forces and the Christian minority there. Other low-profile groups that have targeted security forces are suspected offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood. The nine men were among 20 defendants sentenced to death in 2017 as part of a final verdict that came four years after the attack — one of the country's worst on police in recent years.”

Somalia

Bloomberg: Somalia Faces Violent Turn With Factions Seen In Security Ranks

“The political crisis in Somalia is causing faultlines within its security ranks that could play into the hands of al Qaeda-linked militants looking to further destabilize the nation. In the latest sign of a widening schism, some soldiers abandoned their posts in Middle Shabelle region on Sunday and went to the capital, Mogadishu, where they clashed with troops loyal to President Mohamed Abdullahi, also known as Farmajo. The violence came moments after two former presidents-turned-opposition leaders, Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, claimed that the national army had raided their homes in Mogadishu. Tension has been brewing in the Horn of Africa nation since Farmajo signed a law earlier this month that extends his and the lawmakers’ mandates without an election -- by as long as two years. On the day lawmakers voted for the extension, a police commander was fired after he tried to stop the controversial parliamentary session from happening. Main roads were closed and public transport limited following hours of gunfire ringing in Mogadishu on Sunday evening, police officer Yusuf Aden said by phone. The current political crisis started after the nation failed to hold a scheduled vote in February, partly because of disagreements between the federal and regional governments on the electoral process.”

Africa

Al Jazeera: Traditional Rulers Can Help End Violence In Africa

“On March 21, 137 civilians were killed in localities near Niger’s border with Mali, in what the Niger government described as attacks perpetrated by “armed bandits”. Sadly, the deadly attacks were not a standalone incident or an anomaly. Since January, four separate attacks by armed groups left at least 300 people dead in the land-locked West African country. The problem is not limited to Niger either – countries across the African continent are suffering from violence perpetrated by numerous armed groups. According to the World Bank, 20 of the 39 countries most affected by conflict in the world are in Africa. And most of these violent acts are not stemming from conflicts between nations, nor being directly perpetrated by international terror groups – they are rooted in disputes within local communities or between them. According to experts, for example, the latest attacks in Niger were the result of ISIL-affiliated militants stoking long-existing tensions between roaming herders and farming communities. Such communal tensions and conflicts are extremely widespread on the continent. According to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, as much as 81 percent of conflicts in Africa between 1989 and 2011 occurred at the community level and as many as 23 African countries experienced communal conflict between 1989 and 2014.”

France

ABC News: Tributes To French Police Official Stabbed By Extremist

“Masked and in silence, more than 1,000 police officers, family members and others paid homage Monday to a French police official killed inside her police station in what authorities are investigating as a terrorist attack. Neighbors, colleagues and friends of the victim joined local officials at the tribute ceremony in front of the town hall of Rambouillet, a quiet Paris suburb rocked by Friday’s stabbing by a suspected Islamic extremist. “A flame has been extinguished in everyone’s heart,” Mayor Veronique Matillon told the crowd, honoring a woman who “was killed while serving out her functions.” The victim was identified publicly only as Stephanie M. From Marseille on the Mediterranean to Strasbourg on the German border, police unions held small, wordless gatherings in front of police stations across France at the same time as the one in Rambouillet. At the Rambouillet tribute, local teacher Adrienne Nkemba described her distress and that of her students after the stabbing. “This really hit us,” she told The Associated Press. “My children at school ... they only talked about this all day.” Meanwhile, a group of imams organized another small tribute in Rambouillet on Monday to honor the slain official and show their support for police and national unity.”

Arab News: Le Pen’s Comments Criticized Following Terror Attack

“French far-right politician Marine Le Pen has been criticized for demanding tighter immigration controls after a police employee was murdered by an Islamist who had arrived in the country illegally. President Emmanuel Macron’s government said she had behaved like a vulture by politicizing Friday’s killing of Stephanie, 47, an administration employee whose surname has not been released. Tunisian Jamel Gorchene, 37, stabbed Stephanie to death in the doorway of a police station in Rambouillet, 30 miles from Paris. Officers shot and killed him after he refused to surrender his weapon. Jean-Francois Ricard, chief antiterrorism prosecutor, said Gorchene “looked at religious chants and videos glorifying jihad and martyrdom.” Ricard added that Gorchene’s father “said he had noticed behavioral troubles since the beginning of this year.” The killer had consulted a psychiatrist, he said. The father and four others are being held for questioning. The Macron administration has been depicted by Le Pen as being weak on national security. She has demanded that the French state deport illegal immigrants and carry out “the eradication of Islamism.”  She said: “The French are surrounded by criminals and crime.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

How come they do not ask why the Holocaust happened? Was it because those who burned were criminals, or was it because the Jews in those countries took over the economy and politics and exploited the resources of these people for their own benefit

Mahmoud Zahar, Hamas co-founder and senior official Apr. 10, 2021
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