Eye on Extremism: April 29, 2021

The Wall Street Journal: France’s Macron Eyes Artificial Intelligence To Monitor Terrorism

“The government of French President Emmanuel Macron aims to deploy algorithms and other technology to monitor the web-browsing of terror suspects amid growing tensions over a group of retired generals who recently warned the country was sliding toward a civil war. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jean Castex said the government plans to submit a bill to parliament seeking permanent authority to order telecommunications companies to monitor not just telephone data but also the full URLs of specific webpages their users visit in real time. Government algorithms would alert intelligence officials when certain criteria are met, such as an internet user visiting a specific sequence of pages. Mr. Macron has come under intense pressure to crack down on terrorism as well as Islamist separatism, an ideology his government says fuels attacks by radicalizing segments of France’s Muslim minority. A middle-school teacher was beheaded in a terrorist attack in October, and on Friday an administrative police worker was stabbed to death in a terrorist attack on a police station. The same day, Marine Le Pen, leader of the anti-immigrant National Rally party, threw her support behind a group of retired generals who published a letter in the far-right magazine Valuers Actuelles, saying the spread of Islamism and other ideologies was pushing France toward a civil war.”

Reuters: Mozambique To Form Special Unit To Prosecute Terrorism Cases - Attorney General

“Mozambique’s government, which is facing a growing Islamist insurgency, will create a special unit in the attorney general’s office to investigate and prosecute cases of terrorism, the attorney general said on Wednesday. The insurgency broke out in the country’s northeast in 2017 and the rebels have stepped up attacks in the past year. Last month, they assaulted the coastal town of Palma, near natural gas projects worth $60 billion that are meant to transform Mozambique’s economy. Dozens of people were killed, the government says. Presenting her annual report to parliament, Attorney General Beatriz Buchili said a new special unit would be dedicated to investigating and prosecuting complex crimes, including terrorism. “One cannot face the crime of terrorism disassociated from other legal types of crime that are related to them, such as trafficking in weapons, drugs and people, illegal exploitation of mineral, forest and wildlife resources, money laundering and financing of terrorism, which are other facets of crimes associated with violent extremism,” she said. Buchili spoke as foreign ministers from Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique prepared to meet on Thursday to discuss a report from a regional team that was sent to Mozambique to assess the security situation and identify immediate ways to help it deal with insurgent attacks.”

United States

USA Today: 'White Supremacy Is Terrorism': Biden Urges Vigilance Against Home-Grown Violence After Jan. 6 Attack

“President Joe Biden identified white supremacy as a domestic terror threat that the country must remain vigilant against in his first joint address to Congress on Wednesday. In discussing his order to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, Biden noted global terror networks have largely moved beyond the country and that white supremacists posed a bigger threat than foreign actors. “We won't ignore what our intelligence agencies have determined to be the most lethal terrorist threat to our homeland today: White supremacy is terrorism,” Biden cautioned Biden made his comments while speaking in House chamber, which just three months ago was infiltrated by a pro-Trump mob in an effort to overthrow the 2020 presidential election. Rioters carried Confederate flags and nooses, and wore shirts saying the deaths of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust weren't enough. “White supremacy is terrorism, and we're not going to ignore that either. My fellow Americans, look, we have to come together to heal the soul of this nation,” Biden said. Federal law enforcement and analysts within the Department of Homeland Security warn that the threat from white supremacist organizations will remain a persistent threat in the country in the coming years.”

Associated Press: Navy SEALs To Shift From Counterterrorism To Global Threats

“Ten years after they found and killed Osama bin Laden, US Navy SEALs are undergoing a major transition to improve leadership and expand their commando capabilities to better battle threats from global powers like China and Russia. The new plan cuts the number of SEAL platoons by as much as 30 percent and increases their size to make the teams more lethal and able to counter sophisticated maritime and undersea adversaries. And there will be a new, intensive screening process for the Navy’s elite warriors, to get higher-quality leaders after scandals that rocked the force and involved charges of murder, sexual assault and drug use. Rear Adm. H. Wyman Howard III, top commander for the SEALs, laid out his plans in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. He said the Navy’s special operations forces have been focused on counterterrorism operations but now must begin to evolve beyond those missions. For the past two decades, many have been fighting in the deserts of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan. Now they are focused on going back to sea.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Bomb Targets Police Van In Southwest Pakistan, Kills Officer

“A powerful roadside bomb went off near a police vehicle in southwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing an officer and wounding five others, police said. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Qilla Abdullah in Baluchistan province. The town is located 75 kilometers (30 miles) north of Quetta, the provincial capital. Police officer Abdullah Achakzai said the victims were taken to a nearby hospital. The attack came as Prime Minister Imran Khan was in Baluchistan on a day-long visit. The premier was far from where the attack happened. Baluchistan has been the scene of a low-level insurgency by small separatists groups demanding more autonomy and a greater share in the region's natural resources, such as gas and oil. Militants from the Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic State group are also active in the province.”

Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post: Hezbollah Exported Drugs, Weapons, With Lebanon Government Knowledge

“Saudi Arabia on Sunday imposed a ban on the import or transit through the kingdom of all fruits and vegetables from Lebanon after a series of seizures, drugs and weapons in shipments coming from the Land of the Cedars to the Gulf countries. On Friday, Saudi authorities intercepted over 2.4 million amphetamine pills, concealed in a shipment of pomegranates coming from Lebanon. Walid al-Bukhari, the Saudi ambassador to Beirut, tweeted on Sunday that his country had seized more than 600 million narcotic pills and hundreds of kilograms of hashish smuggled from Lebanon over the last six years. In addition, Greece announced on Thursday evening, following information received from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, that it had seized four tons of cannabis in Piraeus Port, which was hidden in a shipment of industrial cupcake-making machines bound from Lebanon to Slovakia. The decision, which will also affect Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, will lead to more than $70 million in estimated annual lost sales, NGOs concerned with agriculture in Lebanon told local media outlets. Four Gulf countries issued statements of support for the Saudi decision by press time, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the UAE, while Qatar had yet to issue a reaction.”

Nigeria

Africanews: Boko Haram Fighters Hoist Flag, Forcefully Grab Wives In Nigerian Town

“The Islamist group Boko Haram has reportedly hoisted a flag in Nigeria’s Niger State and gone further to seize the wives of fleeing residents, according to the region’s governor. The Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello said close to 3,000 people flee the region following increased terror and armed gang activities. “Their towns have been taken over by bandits and Boko Haram elements... Their wives have been seized from them and forcefully attached to Boko Haram members,” the governor said. “I am confirming that we have Boko Haram elements in Niger State, around Kaure. They have taken over the territory... They have installed their flag,” the governor added. The governor further warned that the increased terror elements in the region poised a greater threat to Nigeria's capital city Abuja, which Niger borders to the east. “The Boko Haram elements are trying to use this area as their home, just as they did in Sambisa. Sambisa is hundreds of kilometers away from Abuja. But Kaure is less than two hours drive to Abuja. So nobody is safe anymore... Not even Abuja is safe,” Governor Bello warned.”

Mali

The Defense Post: 26 Militants ‘Neutralized’ In French-Malian Army Operation

“A military operation this week by Malian and French forces in war-torn central Mali eliminated 26 militants, the Sahel state’s army said on Tuesday. Mali’s military command said in a statement that the operation took place early Monday in Alatona, near the border with Mauritania. The operation targeted militants who had staged an ambush on Saturday, according to the statement, which did not provide details on that attack. French and Malian troops launched a counter-attack after determining their location. Soldiers “neutralized 26 terrorists” in the joint operation, according to Mali’s army, and also destroyed two pick-up trucks and captured “a large quantity” of arms. Mali has been struggling to contain a brutal jihadist insurgency that first emerged in the north in 2012, before spreading to the center of the country and neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in the conflict and hundreds of thousands have fled their homes. Former colonial power France, which intervened in Mali in 2013 to beat back the jihadists, has 5,100 soldiers deployed across the semi-arid Sahel region.”

Africa

The New York Times: 2 Spanish Journalists And An Irish Ranger Killed In Burkina Faso Ambush

“Two Spanish journalists making a documentary about anti-poaching efforts and an Irish ranger were kidnapped and killed in Burkina Faso, according to the Spanish government and a wildlife conservation organization, following recent warnings by the authorities about a possible resurgence of attacks in the West African nation. The killings on Monday came as violence is increasing in Burkina Faso and the security situation in the Sahel is deteriorating, especially in the border area of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Burkina Faso has seen attacks from many armed groups, several of them linked to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Attackers on motorbikes have stormed countless villages, forcing residents to convert to Islam and sometimes killing them even when they do. Others have ambushed military patrols and killed members of the armed forces, and hundreds of schools have been forced to close because of the violence. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain confirmed the deaths of the two Spanish journalists, whom he identified on Twitter as David Beriain and Roberto Fraile. The conservation organization Chengeta Wildlife said its co-founder and chief executive, Rory Young, was the third victim. Mr. Beriain and Mr. Fraile were following Mr. Young, a Zambia-born Irish national, for their documentary, Chengeta Wildlife said on Facebook.”

The Washington Post: What Chad’s Crisis Means For Fighting Jihad In Africa

“The impoverished country of Chad used to be derisively referred to as a “nil state.” It shook off that label eight years ago, according to the then-foreign minister, when its military became a major player in the fight against jihadists in the Sahel, a semi-arid stretch of West and Central Africa, south of the Sahara desert. Now, however, Chad is facing an escalation of its own security and stability crises after the death in April of long-time President Idriss Deby, the result, according to the army, of injuries sustained in a rebel attack. His sudden demise -- followed by a military takeover -- have raised questions about the continuation of Chad’s role as an ally of France, the U.S. and other powers in the battle against violent Islamism. 1. Who was Deby? A herder’s son from the minority Zaghawa ethnic group, Deby joined the military and climbed through its ranks to become its commander-in-chief. He assumed the presidency in 1991 after leading a rebellion against autocratic leader Hissene Habre -- who was later convicted of crimes against humanity by a special court in Senegal. Initially hailed as a liberator, Deby’s popularity slipped as his rule grew increasingly authoritarian. Despite Chad’s oil wealth -- its daily output of 127,000 barrels is the seventh biggest in sub-Saharan Africa -- it remains one of the world’s poorest countries, with about 80% of its 16 million people reliant on subsistence farming and herding to survive.”

France

The New York Times: France Arrests Leftist Militants Convicted Of Terrorism Long Sought By Italy

“The French police on Wednesday arrested seven former members of Italian left-wing extremist groups who had been convicted of terrorism crimes in Italy decades ago, but were given refuge in France. A court will now decide if the militants, arrested at the request of the Italian authorities, can be extradited to Italy, a decision that could take several years depending on appeals. Dozens of Italian leftist extremists were given refuge in France decades ago by the socialist government at the time if they agreed to renounce violence, a move that long poisoned the diplomatic relationship between France and Italy. The government’s announcement of the arrests on Wednesday signaled an easing of that troubled relationship, with Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy and President Emmanuel Macron of France managing to establish closer ties in recent months. “France, also hit by terrorism, understands the need for justice for the victims,” a statement from Mr. Macron’s office said, adding that the arrests followed “important bilateral work.” The statement said that the Italian government had initially put forward the names of 200 individuals but that French prosecutors decided to focus on those convicted of “the more serious crimes,” eventually arresting seven former militants.”

Germany

The Times Of Israel: Germany To Spy On COVID Skeptics Over Concerns Of Extremist Ties

“Germany’s domestic intelligence agency will monitor leading protesters against COVID restrictions, the interior ministry says, over concerns they pose a threat to democracy and have ties to right-wing extremism. The monitoring will focus on members of Germany’s “Querdenker” (Lateral Thinkers) movement, which has emerged as the loudest voice against coronavirus curbs and an active promoter of conspiracy theories that deny basic facts about the pandemic. Some protest organizers “have clearly demonstrated that their agenda goes beyond simply mobilizing protests against the government’s corona measures,” a ministry statement says. Their main aim appears to be to “permanently undermine trust in state institutions and their representatives,” it adds. They are also suspected of seeking links with right-wing extremists such as “Reichsbuerger” (Citizens of the Reich) who question the legitimacy of the modern Federal Republic of Germany, and of spreading antisemitic messages and QAnon myths, the ministry says. The extremists encourage supporters to ignore official orders and challenge the state monopoly on the use of force, it adds.”

Australia

ABC News Australia: Spy Boss Says ASIO Anticipating Terrorist Attack In The Next Year From Either Right-Wing Or Islamic Extremists

“The head of the nation's domestic intelligence agency has told a parliamentary inquiry that it is anticipating there will be a terrorist attack in Australia sometime in the next year. The director-general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Mike Burgess, said while the main security threat remained from Sunni Islamic extremist groups, the growth in right-wing extremism was also a major concern. “Obviously, terrorism threat level remains probable,” he said. “Given the growth we've seen in nationalist and racist violent extremism we anticipate there will be a terrorist attack in this country in the next 12 months. “It can come from either ideology and therefore for me doesn't really matter, because they're both capable of conducting acts of violence and that's where we focus.” Mr Burgess was later asked to clarify his comments, that he believed an attack could happen within the next year. “We have credible intelligence that individuals and small groups have the capable intent and we, on that basis, assess that there is likely to be a terrorist attack sometime in the next 12 months as we've seen in the last 12 months,” he said. “Unfortunately there were two terrorist attacks in this country last year and it resulted in two Australians being killed.”

Europe

The Local Denmark: Six Arrested In Denmark Raid For Suspected Isis Links

“Six men suspected of being members of the so-called Islamic State (Isis) group or funding it were arrested in an anti-terror raid in Denmark on Tuesday, police said. The suspects, whose identities were not disclosed, are aged between 27 and 35, police in East Jutland said. Two of the suspects were arrested in the Danish capital Copenhagen and the four others in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-biggest city. “Two of the people arrested, a man aged 29 from the region of Aarhus and a 30-year-old man living in Copenhagen, are suspected of penal code violations… for having travelled to Syria in 2014, where they were recruited by the terrorist organisation Islamic State,” police said in a statement. The 29-year-old is also suspected of having tried to return to Syria in early 2015 to rejoin Isis. Under his instruction, the four other suspects are accused of having acted as “intermediaries” and having sent money to the organisation. According to Danish intelligence service PET, at least 160 people have travelled from Denmark to fight in Syria or Iraq. About a third of them have been killed in action, 32 are still there and around half of them have either returned to Denmark or another country. Jihadism is considered the biggest threat to Denmark’s national security, according to PET.”

Technology

Deutsche Welle: EU Passes Law For Quick Removal Of Online 'Terrorist Content'

“The European Parliament on Wednesday approved a measure that will compel online platforms to swiftly remove or block access to online content deemed “terrorist” in nature. If the company fails to do so, it would risk a fine that could go up to 4% of its global turnover. That applies even if the order comes from a different EU state. However, the host country would have 72 hours to assess if the request was justified and whether or not it breached fundamental rights. Exceptions can be made for content posted for educational, journalistic, artistic or research purposes. The law also provides exceptions for smaller or non-commercial operators. MEPs backed the legislation without a vote, having offered no amendments to an agreement struck between EU member countries in December. “This regulation will make it more difficult for terrorists to abuse the internet to recruit online, to incite attacks online, to glorify their atrocities online,” EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said as the legislation was presented. Patryk Jaki, an EU legislator from Poland who served as rapporteur on the legislation, said the law would prove to be a great tool and noted how the internet is often employed by terrorists trying to spread their messages.”

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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