Eye on Extremism: April 6, 2021

Reuters: Ten Killed In Suicide Bomb Attack In Somali Capital

“At least 10 people were killed on Saturday when a suicide bomber struck makeshift kiosks in the Somali capital, hitting hours after al Shabaab Islamist militants attacked two National Army bases outside the city, the government said. “A suicide bomber blew up himself under trees where poor mothers sold tea, milk and (narcotic leaf) khat,” Information Ministry spokesman Ismail Mukhtar Omar told Reuters, adding that more people were wounded in the attack. There was no immediate comment from the al Shabaab, which had earlier claimed responsibility for the attacks on the Bariire and Awdhigle army bases. The army said earlier that there had been casualties on both sides in those attacks, but it was now in control. The bases, located about 100 km (60 miles) southwest of Mogadishu, were struck by two explosions, witnesses said. A third explosion targeted a convoy of troops rushing to the bases from the capital after the attack, they added. Militants from al Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, have waged years of attacks and levied tolls on trade in a campaign to introduce strict religious law. Saturday’s attacks come amid heightened fears that the group could seek to exploit vulnerabilities created by failure to hold a parliamentary and presidential election, which was due in February.”

Voice Of America: More Than 1,800 Prisoners Escape After Nigeria Prison Attack

“More than 1,800 inmates have escaped after a heavily armed gang attacked a prison in southern Nigeria using explosives, correctional authorities said Monday. It is one of the West African country's largest prison breaks. The attackers blasted their way into the Owerri prison in Imo state, engaging guards in a gun battle and freeing inmates, the national corrections authority said in a statement. “I can confirm that the Imo State command of the Nigerian Correctional Service was attacked by unknown gunmen in Owerri,” Imo state corrections service spokesman James Madugba told AFP, adding that the number of escaped inmates was yet to be confirmed. “The situation is under control,” he said.  The assailants arrived in pickup trucks and buses before storming the facility, the correction authority said. No group claimed responsibility for the assault, though President Muhammadu Buhari called the attack an “act of terrorism” carried out by anarchists and urged security forces to capture the assailants and the escaped detainees. Prisons in Africa's most populous country are often overcrowded, and as many as 70% of inmates can be held awaiting trial for years. The governor of neighboring Abia state imposed a night curfew on two towns there, a statement said, to protect local residents without direct reference to the prison attack.”

United States

The New York Times: Biden Steps Up Federal Efforts To Combat Domestic Extremism

“The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to combat domestic extremism, increasing funding to prevent attacks, weighing strategies historically used against foreign terrorist groups and more openly warning the public about the threat. The attempts to more assertively grapple with the potential for violence from white supremacists and militias are a shift from President Donald J. Trump’s pressure on federal agencies to divert resources to target the antifa movement and leftist groups despite the conclusion by law enforcement authorities that far-right and militia violence was a more serious threat. President Biden’s approach also continues a slow acknowledgment that especially after the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, the federal government needs to put more attention and money into tracking and heading off threats from inside the United States, after two decades in which it made foreign terrorism the security priority. In an intelligence report delivered to Congress last month, the administration labeled white supremacists and militia groups as top national security threats. The White House is also discussing with members of Congress the possibility of new domestic terrorism legislation and executive orders to update the criteria of terrorism watch lists to potentially include more homegrown extremists.”

The New York Times: Capitol Suspect Struggled Before Attack, But Motive Remains Unclear

“On the football field at Christopher Newport University in Virginia, Noah R. Green was No. 21, a dependable and good-natured, if soft-spoken, presence in the defensive backfield. Off the field, he was laser-focused on Black economic empowerment, counseling teammates on financial management and plotting a career helping close the racial wealth gap. But by late March, after a bruising pandemic year that friends and family said left him isolated and mentally unmoored, Mr. Green’s life appeared increasingly to revolve around the Nation of Islam and its leader Louis Farrakhan, who has repeatedly promoted anti-Semitism. “Follower of Farrakhan,” Mr. Green labeled himself on Facebook, where he described leaving his job and grappling with “some of the biggest, unimaginable tests in my life.” None of it appeared to hint at what he would do next. On Friday afternoon, law enforcement officials said, Mr. Green, 25, drove a dark blue Nissan sedan from nearby Virginia to the United States Capitol and plowed into two police officers protecting the grounds, killing one and injuring another. He then got out of the car brandishing a knife and lunged at officers. Police shot and mortally wounded him.”

ABC News: Tennessee Man Accused Of Helping Islamic State Group

“A Tennessee man held a key role in spreading English-language propaganda for the Islamic State group, federal prosecutors announced Monday. Benjamin Alan Carpenter, 31, of Knoxville, has been in custody since his March 24 arrest, according to a news release from acting U.S. Attorney Francis M. Hamilton III’s office. A detention hearing was held Monday, but a judge did not immediately decide whether he should be free pending trial. Carpenter was charged in a federal indictment with attempting to provide material support and resources to IS. Carpenter, also known as Abu Hamza, provided English translations of IS media content to a person he believed to be associated with IS, prosecutors said. The person was actually a covert FBI employee, officials said. Authorities said Carpenter was the leader of Ahlut-Tawhid Publications, an international organization that disseminates pro-IS material in English. A trial is set for June 1. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison. It was not known whether Carpenter was represented by an attorney who could comment on his behalf.”

Associated Press: Feds: Couple Tried To Travel By Ship To Join Islamic State

“A newlywed husband and wife who expressed interest in fighting for the Islamic State group were arrested Thursday at a port near New York City as they attempted to board a cargo ship that an undercover law enforcement officer said would take them to Yemen, prosecutors said. James Bradley, 20, and Arwa Muthana, 29, were taken into custody on the gangplank at Port Newark–Elizabeth Marine Terminal in New Jersey, prosecutors said. They were charged in federal court in Manhattan with attempting and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Bradley and Muthana made an initial court appearance Thursday and were ordered jailed without bail. Messages seeking comment were left with their lawyers. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement that the couple’s “plans to wage attacks against the United States have been thwarted.” Bradley, of the Bronx, expressed support for IS and spoke of his desire to join the group overseas in recorded conversations over the course of nearly a year with an undercover enforcement officer, prosecutors said. Bradley also spoke to the undercover officer who led him to the ship about potentially attacking the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, prosecutors said.”

Voice Of America: Two Yemenis On Terror Watchlist Arrested Trying To Cross US-Mexico Border

“U.S. border agents in recent months arrested two Yemeni men on a terror watchlist in separate incidents as they crossed the border with Mexico illegally, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced Monday. The men, arrested in January and March near a port of entry in California, were on a U.S. government watchlist for terrorism suspects and a no-fly list, CBP said in a press release. A group of Republican lawmakers that visited the border in El Paso, Texas, in March said border agents told them during the trip that some people caught crossing the border were on a U.S. terrorism watchlist. Republicans have criticized President Joe Biden for easing some restrictions put in place by former President Donald Trump as the number of border crossings has risen in recent months. One of the men, age 33, was arrested January 29 after allegedly attempting to cross the border illegally near a port of entry in Calexico, California, CBP said. Border agents found a mobile phone SIM card beneath the insole of the man's shoe, the agency said. The second man, age 26, was arrested March 30 in the same vicinity. A CBP spokesman said in a written statement that it is very uncommon for border agents to encounter people suspected of terrorism at U.S. borders and that the arrests underscore the agency's critical vetting efforts.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer: After A Career Shaped By Extremist Violence, Philly’s Acting U.S. Attorney Launches Network To Defuse Risk

“The threat of extremist violence has shaped Jennifer Arbittier Williams’ life more than most. When she was 15, a great-uncle, Leon Klinghoffer, was killed by Palestinian hijackers aboard the Mediterranean cruise ship the Achille Lauro in 1985. At 30, she watched in horror from the patio of the Manhattan law firm where she was working as a young associate as al-Qaeda plotters flew planes into the World Trade Center. She moved back to Philadelphia shortly after for a job at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where she became the go-to prosecutor for terrorism cases and eventually chief of its national security unit. And so, when she was tapped earlier this year to lead the office as acting U.S. attorney for Philadelphia and the surrounding counties — two weeks after the deadly insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol — it was only natural that she would choose a program aimed at defusing extremist threats as the signature focus of her tenure. Last month, Williams — who succeeds U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain — launched the Threat Intervention and Prevention (TIP) Network, a collaboration among more than a dozen regional law enforcement offices and local businesses, nonprofits, schools, and community groups.”

Syria

The National: International Task Force Needed To Bring ISIS Detainees To Justice

“A well-resourced international task force is needed to bring to justice hundreds of ISIS terrorists languishing in detention camps in Syria, a former British terrorism chief said on Thursday. Mark Rowley, the former head of UK counter-terrorism policing, said the repatriation of an estimated 2,000 foreign fighters held in Kurdish-run centres is hampered by problems gathering evidence to convict them on their return. Victims and witnesses are scattered around the world while forensic evidence is still being assessed for crimes committed by multinational groups of terrorists. “What is needed is a well-resourced global investigative effort to hold ISIS terrorists to account for atrocity crimes, such as the genocide of Yazidis, not just terrorism,” Mr Rowley said in a letter to The Times. “Only an international task force, with access to the best intelligence, that proactively integrates witness and other evidence can tip the scales. Only then can we legally imprison the majority of these terrorist fighters for the long term.” The US administration called for the repatriation of foreign fighters and their families from Syria because of concerns that violent, squalid camps are creating a new generation of extremists.”

Kurdistan 24: Asayish Arrest 125 ISIS Suspects In First Phase Of Al-Hol Campaign

“The General Command of the Internal Security Forces (Asayish in Kurdish) in northeast Syria announced the arrest of 125 suspected Islamic State members during a five-day campaign in the notorious al-Hol camp in Hasakah province in Syria. Although the SDF and the US-led international Coalition announced the territorial defeat of the Islamic State in March 2019, sleeper cell attacks by the terrorist group persist in the liberated territories in an apparent campaign to destabilize the area. On Sunday, the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Asayish launched an operation in al-Hol displacement camp to weed out Islamic State cells that have stepped up assassinations over the last few months. During a press conference, the security forces announced the end of the first phase of the campaign. Roughly 5,000 SDF and Asayish forces took part in the operation. “125 ISIS sleeper cells’ members were arrested, 20 of them are responsible for the cells and the assassinations that occurred in the camp,” the Asayish said. “Military supplies were also found during the search campaign, in addition to electronic circuits used in explosive devices.” In a statement provided to Kurdistan 24, Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesperson for the Coalition, congratulated the SDF “on a successful operation … to enhance safety and security for residents and NGOs while degrading and disrupting Daesh (Islamic State) activities.”

Turkey

Daily Sabah: 12 Suspects With Daesh Terrorist Group Links Arrested In Istanbul

“Turkish security forces arrested 12 suspects with links to the terrorist group Daesh Friday. Anti-terrorist units simultaneously raided 12 locations in eight districts of the metropolis Istanbul, arresting 12 after finding out that the suspects transferred revenues to terrorists in conflict zones, security sources said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to media. Additionally, digital and organizational documents were confiscated by security units, with the suspects' judiciary process ongoing. In 2013, Turkey became one of the first countries to declare Daesh a terrorist group. The country has since been attacked by the terrorist group multiple times, with over 300 people killed and hundreds more injured in at least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb attacks and four armed assaults. In response, Turkey launched anti-terrorist operations at home and abroad to prevent further attacks. A Turkish court also on Friday decided for the imprisonment of two suspects arrested Monday for their alleged links to the far-left DHKP-C terrorist group. Yasemin Karadağ, a so-called senior member of the group responsible for operations in Turkey and Yeter Gönül Aydın, a member responsible for the group's officers, were nabbed in Istanbul.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: U.S. Looks To Build On Secret Portions Of Taliban Deal To Reduce Violence

“U.S. diplomats are trying to build on parts of the peace deal made with the Taliban last year, specifically the classified portions that outlined what military actions — on both sides — were supposed to be prohibited under the signed agreement, according to American, Afghan and Taliban officials. The negotiations, which have been quietly underway for months, have morphed into the Biden administration’s last-ditch diplomatic effort to achieve a reduction in violence, which could enable the United States to still exit the country should broader peace talks fail to yield progress in the coming weeks. If these discussions, and the separate talks between the Afghan government and Taliban falter, the United States will likely find itself with thousands of troops in Afghanistan beyond May 1. That’s the deadline by which all American military forces are meant to withdraw from the country under the 2020 agreement with the Taliban and would come at a time when the insurgent group likely will have begun its spring offensive against the beleaguered Afghan security forces. Both of these conditions would almost certainly set back any progress made in the past months toward a political settlement, despite both the Trump and the Biden administrations’ fervent attempts to end the United States’ longest-running war.”

Reuters: Three Security Personnel Killed In Taliban Car-Bombing Near Kabul

“A car bombing near Kabul on Sunday killed at least three Afghan security personnel and injured 12 others, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Taliban. While attacks have continued unabated in Afghanistan, the insurgent Taliban has rarely taken responsibility since the formal start of peace talks and an agreement with the United States last year. Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz confirmed the casualties in Sunday’s bombing in the Paghman district of Kabul and said the numbers could rise. The Taliban, in a statement, claimed that 45 Afghan security force members had been killed or injured in the blast. The insurgent group also issued a warning against what it called continued air strikes in a number of areas of Afghanistan, saying that they violate an agreement between the Taliban and the United States. That agreement envisages the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan by May 1 in exchange for peace guarantees from the Taliban and peace talks with the U.S.-backed Afghan government. Sunday’s attack comes as Washington looks to inject life into the slow-moving peace talks. It has proposed the holding of a conference in Turkey later this month and the forming of an interim government to include Taliban representatives.”

Pakistan

ABC News: Gunmen Kill Pakistani Anti-Terrorism Court Judge And Family

“Gunmen killed an anti-terrorism court judge and his family on Sunday as they travelled from the Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan to the capital Islamabad, police official Shoaib Khan said. No one claimed responsibility for the shooting, which also seriously injured two of Judge Aftab Ahmed Afridi’s bodyguards.Pakistan’s anti-terrorism courts were established to hear cases ranging from terrorist financing to the prosecution of perpetrators of insurgent attacks. Critics say Pakistan’s sweeping anti-terrorism laws have also been used to silence critics of the country’s powerful military. Afridi, his wife and two children — including a two-year old son — were killed in the attack, Khan said. Afridi had been assigned to the anti-terrorism courts in Swat two months earlier. Swat was once a Taliban controlled area and is where education activist Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban for advocating for girls' education. Pakistan's military drove the Taliban from the area in 2009.”

India

Reuters: 22 Indian Security Members Killed In Maoist Attack - Govt Official

“At least 22 members of Indian security forces were killed in a central Indian state by Maoist fighters, in one of the bloodiest attacks by the extreme left-wing insurgent group this year, officials said on Sunday. Security personnel belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force’s elite CoBRA unit, the District Reserve Guard, and the Special Task Force were attacked on Saturday in the tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh state during an anti-insurgency operation. “We can confirm that 22 of Indian force members have been killed by Maoist fighters,” said a senior government official in Raipur, the capital of mineral-rich Chhattisgarh. They were killed in firing that lasted for four hours in the border district of Sukma, 540 kms (340 miles) south of Raipur. Om Prakash Pal, a senior police official in Raipur, said combing operations to trace one missing security force member were being conducted. The death toll was the heaviest for Indian security forces battling the far-left guerrillas since 2017. Home Minister Amit Shah said the government will not tolerate such bloodshed and “a befitting response will be given to prevent such attacks.”

Saudi Arabia

Arab News: UN, Saudi Arabia Sign Collaboration Agreement To Fight Terrorism

“The UN and the Riyadh-based Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) have signed a collaboration agreement to fight terrorism. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) inked between the UN Counterterrorism Center (UNCCT) of the UN Office of Counterterrorism (UNOCT) and Etidal is aimed at strengthening cooperation in preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism. UN under-secretary for counterterrorism and UNCCT executive director, Vladimir Voronkov, penned the MoU with Etidal secretary-general, Dr. Mansour Al-Shammari, in the presence of the Saudi permanent representative to the UN and chairman of the UNCCT advisory board, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi. The deal is part of the UNCCT’s ongoing efforts to unite the international community in tackling the scourge of terrorism and combating the spread of extremist ideologies. Under the terms of the MoU, a number of joint projects will be developed to support the implementation of the UN’s global counterterrorism strategy. Activities will include capacity building workshops on strategic communications to prevent violent extremism and the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes, as well as awareness campaigns on youth engagement, tolerance, and support for victims of terrorism.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Eight Killed, Many Injured As Boko Haram Terrorists Ambush Borno Government Officials

“At least, eight Boko Haram insurgents were killed on Friday when the group ambushed a convoy of Borno State Resettlement and Relief Committee officials. SaharaReporters gathered that some policemen and soldiers in the convoy however sustained injuries during the attack along Monguno- Nganzai Road. Some top government officials in the convoy include Kakashehu Lawal, State Attorney General; Mustapha Gubio, Commissioner for Rehabilitation Reconstruction and Resettlement; and that of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Mai-Mele. They were said to be returning from Monguno, where they went to distribute relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), when their convoy came under heavy attack by the terrorists. A source said about eight of the terrorists were killed by soldiers with support from men of the Anti-Robbery Squad and Civilian Joint Task Force. Governor Babagana Zulum’s convoy was attacked twice along the Baga Highway in September in 2020.”

Africa

The Times: Ivory Trade And Diamonds Funding ISIS Rise In Africa

“Islamic State is using ivory smuggling and illegal trade in wildlife, sugar and diamonds to finance its expansion in Africa, according to a new report. Last week Islamist fighters killed scores of people and displaced hundreds more as they stormed the town of Palma in Mozambique, raising fears that the region will be unable to contain the rapidly expanding insurgency. “Illicit trade is the lifeblood which sustains extremist groups operating in East Africa,” wrote Sir Ivor Roberts, a former British ambassador to Yugoslavia, Ireland and Italy, in a report for the Counter Extremism Project.”

Bloomberg: Spate Of Islamist Attacks Puts Sahel On Track For Deadliest Year

“West Africa’s Sahel region is headed for its deadliest year of Islamist-militant violence. Insurgents have killed at least 450 civilians in the region this year, Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project data shows, compared with 401 last year. The first three months of 2021 have seen more non-combatant deaths blamed on jihadist groups than the same period last year, according to statistics analyzed by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development data analyst Jose Luengo-Cabrera. At least 1,000 people overall have died in attacks this year, including soldiers and militants. The highest-casualty attack occurred on March 21, when militants killed 137 people in coordinated strikes on communities in and around the western Nigerien town of Tillia. Violence has persisted despite a multinational effort to quell the insurgency, which surged in Mali in 2012 and later spread to regional neighbors. The inability to curb the violence “is the failure of all of us and the failure of the whole coalition,” Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum told a France 24 interviewer days before his April 2 inauguration.”

New York Post: Disturbing New Images Emerge From ISIS Massacre In Mozambique

“Disturbing new images show the aftermath of a bloody attack by ISIS terrorists in the African country of Mozambique last month. One picture, published by Sky News Monday, shows fires burning in the strategic northern city of Palma. Others show bedsheets and other items arranged on the ground to spell out “HELP” and “SOS” so that they can be seen by rescue helicopters. Still, others show overturned and damaged cars that appear to have been ambushed while their occupants were making desperate escape attempts. The BBC reported Monday, citing the Mozambican army, that Palma had been recaptured and a “significant” number of terrorists had been killed. ISIS claimed responsibility for the March 24 attack, according to the SITE extremist monitoring group. Their claim alleged that the Islamic State Central Africa Province controlled Palmas banks, government offices, factories and army barracks, and that more than 55 people, including Mozambican army troops, Christians and foreigners were killed. Meanwhile, the director of the Dyck Advisory Group, a private military company contracted by the Mozambican police to help fight the rebels, described “fighting in the streets, in pockets across the town.”

France

CBS News: French Police Arrest Mom, 4 Daughters Over Alleged Terror Plot

“Police in southern France have arrested four women and a girl as part of an anti-terrorist investigation into a suspected attack plot targeting the city of Montpellier. A police official in the Herault region confirmed the overnight arrests in the city of Beziers and said Sunday that the DGSI domestic intelligence service and national anti-terrorist prosecutor's office were handling the investigation. Investigators centered on an 18-year-old woman living in a housing project in Beziers who is suspected of plotting an attack targeting nearby Montpellier, according to Mayor Robert Menard. The 18-year-old's mother and three sisters were also arrested, including one who is a minor, he said. The 18-year-old had “boasted” to neighbors about watching Islamic State videos, Menard told The Associated Press, though he said he didn't know whether she or her family had been on authorities' radar for radicalism. Menard, who was alerted by police to the operation, said he spoke with rattled neighbors at the scene. “They're horrified. They fear it gives a bad image of this neighborhood, and the Muslim community here,” he said. France has faced a series of terror attacks carried out by Islamic extremists since the deadly 2015 assault on the office of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket.”

Europe

The Brussels Times: 10 Suspects Face Trial For Involvement In Brussels Terror Attacks In 2016

“The Federal Prosecutor’s Office is sticking to its initial submissions regarding the suspects charged with involvement in the 2016 Brussels attacks that left 32 people dead, Spokesman Eric Van der Sypt said on Sunday. Confirming information carried by La Dernière Heure, Van der Sypt said the prosecution would thus move to have eight of the defendants tried in the criminal court and the two others in the correctional court, as it had originally asked the Chamber of the Council of Brussels. In January, the Chamber had turned down the prosecution’s request, ruling that all the suspects should be tried in the criminal court because the crimes of which they are accused are interconnected and only the criminal court is authorised to hear murder cases. The defendants will be tried in the second half of 2022. The Prosecutor’s Office wants Salah Abdeslam, Oussama Atar, Mohamed Abrini, Sofien Ayari, Osama Krayem, Ali El Haddad Asufi, Bilal El Makhoukhi and Hervé Bayingana Muhirwa to stand trial in the criminal court for murder and attempted murder in a terrorist context, and for belonging to a terrorist group. On the other hand, it feels the Farisi brothers, Smail and Ibrahim, should be tried in the correctional court on the sole charge of participating in the activities of a terrorist group.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

God forbid, if a time comes when we have no choice but to watch our citizens breathe their final breaths, and when there are no ventilators… we will make six million Israeli settlers unable to breathe.

Yahya Sinwar, Leader of Hamas in Gaza Apr. 2, 2020
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