Eye on Extremism: April 5, 2022

Reuters: U.S. Calls Reports Of Many Killed In Mali 'Extremely Disturbing'

“The United States is following “extremely disturbing accounts” of large numbers of people killed in a village in central Mali, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Sunday. Mali’s military said on Saturday that it had killed more than 200 Islamist militants in the latest clash in a month of escalating violence. Tensions with the West have increased since a move by Mali’s ruling military junta to delay democratic elections in February, as well as over its collaboration with private military contractors belonging to Russia’s Wagner Group. In a statement, Price said there were conflicting reports about who was responsible for the killings that took place in late March in the village of Moura, about 250 miles (400 km) northeast of the capital, Bamako. “We are concerned that many reports suggest that the perpetrators were unaccountable forces from the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group. Other reports claim the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) had targeted elements of known violent extremist groups,” he said. “These conflicting reports illustrate the urgent need for the Malian transition authorities to give impartial investigators free, unfettered, and safe access to the area where these tragic events unfolded.”

Associated Press: Extradition Bid Certified For Man Accused In Iraq Killings

“A judge has certified the Iraqi government's extradition request for a Phoenix driving school owner on charges that he participated in the killings of two police officers 15 years ago in the Iraqi city of Fallujah as the leader of an al-Qaida group, sending the extradition decision to Washington to decide. In the decision issued Friday in Arizona, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Morrissey concluded there was probable cause that Ali Yousif Ahmed Al-Nouri, who came to the United States as a refugee in 2009 and became a U.S. citizen in 2015, participated in the killings carried out by masked men in June 2006 and October 2006. The U.S. Department of Justice confirmed it has no record of having ever before extradited anyone to Iraq under a decades-old U.S.-Iraq treaty. Despite inconsistencies in statements by people interviewed about both attacks, Morrissey ordered the extradition request be sent to Washington. He said an inconsistency from a person cooperating with authorities wasn’t enough to undermine probable cause in one case and that other statements made by a cooperator in the other killing are consistent in many significant details, even though there was an inconsistency in that person's account.”

United States

New York Post: ISIS Didn’t Try To Negotiate Ransom For James Foley Before Beheading: Family

“American journalist James Foley’s terrorist captors never made serious attempts to negotiate for a ransom before brutally beheading the New Hampshire native in 2013, his family testified on Monday. The revelation came during testimony from Foley’s brother at the federal terror trial of El Shafee Elsheikh — an alleged member of the British-born ISIS executioners dubbed “The Beatles” who is charged in the kidnapping scheme that resulted in the deaths of Foley and three other Americans Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller. Foley, a freelance photographer, had left for Syria in 2012 to document the raging civil war in the country. He was familiar with the dangers of the trip, having been held captive covering the First Libyan Civil War the year prior. Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, said she first became concerned when her son didn’t call on Thanksgiving. They finally learned he’d been taken hostage when they received an email from his captors in late November trying to establish a line of communication. Emails exchanged in Nov. 2012 and Jan. 2013 demanded the release of Muslim prisoners or 100 million euros in exchange for the journalist, according to Michael Foley, his brother.”


Associated Press: Shelling Of Rebel Village In Northern Syria Kills 4 Students

“Syrian government forces on Monday shelled a rebel-held village in northwestern Syria, the country’s last major opposition stronghold, killing four students on their way to school, opposition activists said. The shelling targeted the village of Maaret al-Naasan in Idlib province, which is home to more than 3 million people, many of them internally displaced by the country's civil war which erupted after a brutal military crackdown against a popular uprising in 2011. Hajj Ahmed, the principal at al-Amal school, said the attack happened at about 11:15 a.m. and that one of the students was in the ninth grade. Another was in the seventh grade and two were in the eighth grade. “They were on their way to start their school day and this strike by the criminal regime hit,” he said. The boys were killed about 50 meters (165 feet) away from the school and their blood-splattered school bags were still on the ground some time after the shelling. Their bags had the markings of the U.N. children's agency, UNICEF. The bodies were later put in black bags and buried in the village's cemetery. “This is a stark reminder that the war on children continues,” said UNICEF spokesperson Juliette Touma. “Every child in Syria, wherever they are, has the right to go to school in safety.”


The National: Iraq Tightens Security Measures During Ramadan

“Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi has ordered security forces to step up security measures as Iraqis started observing Ramadan. During a meeting on Sunday with Interior Ministry officials, Mr Al Kadhimi said “security leadership needs to adopt new and special measures that fit the social activities and needs during Ramadan”. Mr Al Kadhimi ordered the Civil Defence Corps to crowded areas and hotlines to be available for emergencies citing “security challenges”. People in Iraq do not usually leave their houses during the day to avoid soaring temperatures that already started to exceed 30°C. Iraq is enjoying a revival in overseas tourism following 20 years of invasion, occupation, civil unrest and a violent extremist insurgency. After breaking their fast at sunset, people flock to mosques, shrines, commercial areas, parks and cafes until dawn when they have their meal known as suhoor. Iraq’s Sunni minority started observing Ramadan on Saturday, while the majority Shiites started the on Sunday due to the differing moon-sighting techniques that each sect follows. Many Shiites prefer to see the crescent with their naked eye, while Sunnis often use telescopes or follow Saudi Arabia’s lead. After the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and unleashed bloody insurgency, Ramadan has been a catalyst for extremists from Al Qaeda in Iraq and then ISIS to launch attacks mainly against Shiites.”


The National: Former Taliban Torturer Allowed To Remain In UK

“A former Taliban commander involved in waterboarding and beating prisoners has been allowed to stay in the UK because of the risk he will be tortured on his return to Afghanistan. The 42-year-old — identified only as MS in court documents — was recruited by the Taliban as a child and went on to lead up to 300 men involved in beating prisoners who criticised the group or sparked inter-factional fighting. The former commander ordered them to carry out waterboarding, deprive prisoners of sleep and to whip them with metal aerials and cables, according to his own account. He later changed his story to say he was not involved “personally” in beating people 10-15 times but a UK judge found that his denials were not credible. A UK immigration tribunal heard that he had complex mental problems after being imprisoned by the Northern Alliance and tortured in the 1990s. On his release he rejoined the Taliban because he thought they could bring order to his country. But he fled to the UK in 2006 and tried to seek protection, claiming he was the target of a blood feud. His claim was rejected and he was returned to Afghanistan within months. He tried again in 2010, after returning to the UK via Pakistan, when his claim was again refused and he absconded for a short time the following year.”

Middle East

i24 News: Israeli Official: At Least 10 Attacks Thwarted In Past Two Weeks

“Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi announced on Monday that at least 10 attacks were thwarted by Israel in the past two weeks. The official, who was speaking at a military ceremony, explained that these attacks were foiled due to Israel’s intelligence measures and operations. While delivering his remarks, Kochavi lauded Israel’s army for the “professionalism, courage, and determination that the units… act with in order to overcome terror,” according to Ynet. The news arrives as Israel bolsters its security efforts over concerns of increased violence during this year’s holiday season following a series of deadly terror attacks around the country last week. A cumulative total of 11 people were killed in a one-week period across three fatal attacks - one shooting in Bnei Brak, another in Hadera, and a stabbing attack in Beersheba. Both the Beersheba and Hadera attacks were committed by Israeli citizens with suspected links to the Islamic State, according to The Times of Israel. An unsourced media report from Channel 13 on Friday said Israel’s security service, the Shin Bet, is working to crack down on suspected supporters of the Islamic State. The service also interrogated around 200 Arab Israelis on suspicion of Islamic State affiliations, Channel 13 reported.”

The Jerusalem Post: FADC Chief: We May Need To Declare State Of Emergency To Confront Terror Wave

“Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Chairman (FADC) Ram Ben Barak said Monday that the government may need to declare a state of emergency to cope with the ongoing terror wave. In the last few weeks, there have been several terror attacks, in some instances multiple unrelated attacks in different cities within the Israeli Green Line in less than 24 hours. Speaking at a joint session of the FADC and the Knesset Interior Committee, led by Chairwoman Meirav Ben Ari, Ben Barak said, “I appreciate that the Police has known how to act with restraint and prevent deterioration. There are two categories of terror: internal and Palestinian. Regarding Palestinian terror, we will not hold back any efforts and the security forces are doing all that is required, including arrests under fire.”  “In addition, we should build up the forces along the border fence until it is completed. Regarding terror originating from within the country, we have gotten to the point where we should weigh declaring a state of emergency for a period of time, to use emergency laws in order to eliminate the phenomenon,” he said. The FADC Chairman said, “We should use administrative detention and stiffen sentences regarding incitement. The criminal, the nationalistic and terror are mixing together. We must restore public order and sovereignty.”


Al Jazeera: Nigeria: More Than 150 Still Missing After Passenger Train Attack

“One week after gunmen attacked a train with explosives in northwestern Nigeria, the whereabouts of 168 passengers are still unknown, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) says. At least eight people were killed and many others missing on March 28 when gunmen detonated a bomb on the tracks and opened fire on the train linking the capital Abuja with the northwestern city of Kaduna. In a statement late Sunday, the NRC said of the 362 passengers on board the train when it was attacked, 186 had been confirmed safe. The NRC said of the remaining 176 passengers, eight have been confirmed dead, leaving the whereabouts of 168 still unknown. It said efforts were still under way to rescue the missing passengers. The March 28 attack was the latest deadly assault blamed on heavily armed criminal gangs known locally as bandits in the region. The corporation said damaged tracks and coaches were being repaired while services on the Abuja-Kaduna route had been “temporarily suspended”. Two days earlier, gunmen killed a perimeter security guard in an attack at Kaduna airport before armed forces intervened. Gunmen also attacked the same railway line with explosives in October. Bandit gangs in the northwest and central Nigerian states have long terrorised communities, conducting mass kidnappings for ransom, raiding villages and stealing cattle.”

Sahara Reporters: 15 More ‘Boko Haram Fighters’ Surrender To Nigerian Troops In Borno

“Some members of the Boko Haram and elements of Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) and their families have laid down their arms and surrendered to troops of the Nigerian military. A Security Analyst and Counter-Insurgency Expert in the North East, Zagazola Makama disclosed this on Twitter where he shared photos of some of the repentant terrorists and their relatives. According to Makama, the insurgents, comprising 10 male adults and 5 children, came out from their enclaves around Jango village and Mandara Mountain in Gwoza and surrendered to troops of 151 Battalion in Banki, Bama Local Government Area on Sunday, April 3. “The sect members were those loyal to the Boko Haram faction Jama’tu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (JAS), Malam Bakura Salaba, who was recently killed by Bakura Buduma, a leader of Boko Haram, who replaced Abubakar Shekau. “An intelligence source said that the insurgents dropped their arms due to sustained aerial bombardment and aggressive intensive clearance operation by troops of Operation Hadin Kai. “He said that 2 AK-47 rifles, 1 G3 rifle, 1 X FN rifle, 1 X PKT gun, 120 Rounds of 7.62MM Nato, 31 RDS X 7.62MM special, 3 AK-47 extra Magazines, 3 X G3 Extra Magazines, 1, 36 HG, 2, knives and the sum of N600,000 were handed over to the troops by the insurgents.”


Associated Press: More Than A Dozen Killed In Eastern Congo Attack

“Suspected rebels attacked a village in eastern Congo with machetes and guns, killing at least a dozen civilians, Congo’s army and a survivor said Monday. Fighters believed to be part of the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group staged the attack Sunday night in Masambo, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) away from the city of Beni, army spokesman Capt. Anthony Mwalushayi told The Associated Press. “Investigations are underway,” he said. “We are in pursuit of the enemy towards the Uganda border near Mount Ruwenzori. I call on the population to remain calm and to collaborate with the Congolese army by giving any information on suspicious persons.” When Masambo was attacked residents fled, some finding refuge in Kasindi on the border with Uganda and others in Beni. Deborah Mutangi, who spoke to the AP in Beni, said she and her children survived the attack and fled Monday morning. “After hearing bullets, I went straight into the house to tell the children to lock the doors,” she said. “In the morning, we woke up to see bodies everywhere.” She said she counted at least 15 dead. “Thank God that I arrived safely with my children,” Mutangi said. She urged Congo's government to hunt down the rebels, warning that if not, “they will kill us all.” The attack by suspected ADF rebels based in Uganda, comes a few days after the start of the trials of about a dozen rebels who were captured in combat by Congo’s army and were brought to Beni.”


Associated Press: Germany Arrests Right-Wing Extremist Over Fatal 1991 Attack

“German prosecutors on Monday arrested a right-wing extremist over an arson attack on a home for asylum-seekers more than 30 years ago in which a Ghanaian man was killed. Federal prosecutors said the suspect, a German citizen identified only as Peter S. in line with local privacy rules, is accused of murder, attempted murder and arson leading to death. They said that, on the evening of Sept. 18, 1991, the suspect and far-right acquaintances discussed racist attacks in the eastern town of Hoyerswerda and agreed that they would approve of similar attacks in their own town, Saarlouis in western Germany. After the bar where he met his acquaintances closed, prosecutors said, the suspect went to the residence for asylum-seekers, poured gasoline on the staircase and set it alight. The fire spread quickly. A 27-year-old Ghanaian resident, Samuel Kofi Yeboah, suffered severe burns and smoke inhalation, and died hours later. Two other residents escaped the fire by jumping out of windows, leaving them with broken bones. The other 18 people living in the building escaped unhurt. An initial investigation against persons unknown was dropped after local authorities couldn't find a perpetrator.”

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On December 6, 2021, alleged ISIS fighters from Syria attacked Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq in Nineveh province’s Makhmour district.   

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