Eye on Extremism: April 7, 2021

JNS: E-Commerce Platform Sells Nazi-Glorifying Merchandise, Despite Removal Request

“…The Counter Extremism Project (CEP), a nonpartisan advocacy organization, was the first to notice the anti-Semitic and racist items. CEP wrote a letter to GearBubble CEO Donald Wilson on Feb. 4, informing him of the merchandise and asking GearBubble to suspend the accounts that posted the objects. In the letter, CEP noted that the items violate Gearbubble’s terms and conditions, which state that nothing can be posted on the website that is “false, defamatory, misrepresenting, infringes on any other entity’s intellectual property or would interfere with or restrict any other user from using the site. This includes, but is not limited to, posting anything unlawful, obscene, libelous, indecent, invasive of privacy, intellectual property infringement or anything that would cause the potential for civil liability or criminal charges.” More than two months later, CEP still has not received any response from GearBubble. The items remain listed online.”

PBS FRONTLINE: Repatriating ISIS Foreign Fighters Is Key To Stemming Radicalization, Experts Say, But Many Countries Don’t Want Their Citizens Back

“…Tunisia represents the world’s most ISIS fighters per capita. Its shared border with Libya, where ISIS held territory, acted as a key entry point for fighters both foreign and domestic. Tunisia has not taken a public stance on repatriation. “More than 800 of [its] fighters have already returned — and quite a few of them undetected,” said Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, a senior director at the Geneva-based Counter Extremism Project. In February 2019, Human Rights Watch called Tunisia’s efforts to repatriate its citizens “scant” and reported that the number of returned fighters may be closer to 1,500. As of July 2019, ICSR had identified at least 970 returnees. Common charges for returnees who are prosecuted — a number that’s not public — include membership in a terrorist organization and endangerment of national security, both of which fall under a terrorism law that has been widely criticized for overreach. “When you read it, you can apply it to protestors,” Schindler said.”

United States

NBC News: CBP Stopped Two Men On Terrorism Watchlist At Border, Says Such Incidents Are Rare

“Since January, agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection have arrested two men on the FBI's terrorism watchlist as they tried to cross the southern U.S. border, the agency said Monday. The men, ages 33 and 26, who were from Yemen, were apprehended in the El Centro, California, sector. They are also on the no-fly list that bars certain people from boarding airplanes because of their potential threat to national security. CBP said it does not release overall numbers of immigrants stopped at the southern border whose names were on the FBI's terrorism watchlist or the country's no-fly list, and it did not provide the number of people who were encountered over the past year, but it said the incidents are “very uncommon.” “While encounters of known and suspected terrorists at our borders are very uncommon, they underscore the importance of the critical work our agents carry out on a daily basis to vet all individuals encountered at our borders,” an agency spokesperson said. Data obtained by NBC News showed that in the first half of fiscal year 2018, six migrants on the terrorism watchlist were apprehended trying to cross the southern border illegally. The number had been inflated by the Trump administration, which claimed that 4,000 known or suspected terrorists tried to cross the border that year.”

NBC 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 ISIS. Carpenter, also known as Abu Hamza, provided English translations of ISIS media content to a person he believed to be associated with ISIS, 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-ISIS 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.”

Los Angeles Times: Deadly U.S. Capitol Attack Amplifies Police Union Calls To Beef Up Recruitment And Retention

“Last week’s deadly attack has renewed focus on both security surrounding the U.S. Capitol, and the beleaguered police force whose union is demanding Congress act to ensure the force can improve the recruitment and retention of its officers. Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou warned that without action, the U.S. Capitol Police force could face a mass exodus, adding in a statement that Friday’s attack and the Jan. 6 insurrection have decimated morale. Within five years, 500 officers will reach retirement age, Papathanasiou said. And while some can retire now, “I’ve had many younger officers confide in me that they’re actively looking at other agencies and departments right now,” he added. Even ahead of what he sees as a looming crisis, the force is more than 200 officers below its authorized level of more than 2,000 officers, Papathanasiou maintained. This gap has caused the force to struggle in meeting “existing mission requirements even with the officers working massive amounts of forced overtime,” he said. The U.S. Capitol Police echoed the union’s sentiments in an unsigned statement to the Los Angeles Times on Monday, writing: “we appreciate and join in the Union’s support for increased hiring, retaining our current officers and implementing many of the recommended security enhancements as quickly as possible.”

The Independent: The ‘Canary Caliph’: How ISIS Leader Betrayed His Fellow Jihadists To US Interrogators

“The current leader of Isis betrayed his fellow jihadists and the secrets of his organisation to his American interrogators while in captivity, enabling western forces to carry out successful operations to arrest and kill “high value” targets. Such was his eagerness to inform on other Islamists that Sa’id Abd Al Rahman al-Mawla became known as the “canary caliph” while behind bars, “singing like a bird” according to one analyst who said the revelations were bound to sow deep discord within Isis. Newly released intelligence files show that the questioning of al-Mawla at an American prison, Camp Bucca, in British-administered southern Iraq in 2008, revealed his hostility towards foreign fighters who had begun to arrive in the Middle East in large numbers at the time. They also show that he was fundamentally opposed to women taking part in an armed struggle. Abu Jasim Abu Qaswarah, then the deputy leader of the Islamist State in Iraq, which later became Isis, was among those whose details were passed on by al-Mawla. Abu Qaswarah, a Swedish-Moroccan Islamist who had recruited volunteers in Scandinavia to fight in Iraq, subsequently died in a firefight with the Americans in Mosul.”

Syria

The New York Times: In A Syrian Rebel Bastion, Millions Are Trapped In Murky, Violent Limbo

“Among the millions of Syrians who fled as the government bombed their towns, destroyed their homes and killed their loved ones are 150 families squatting in a soccer stadium in the northwestern city of Idlib, sheltering in rickety tents under the stands or in the rocky courtyard. Work is scarce and terror grips them whenever jets buzz overhead: New airstrikes could come at any time. But the fear of government retribution keeps them from returning home. More than 1,300 similar camps dot Syria’s last bastions under rebel control, eating up farmland, stretching along irrigation canals and filling lots next to apartment buildings where refugee families squat in damaged units with no windows. “People will stay in these places with all the catastrophes before they go live under the regime of Bashar al-Assad,” said Okba al-Rahoum, the manager of the camp in the soccer stadium. On a rare visit to Idlib Province, examples abounded of shocked and impoverished people trapped in a murky and often violent limbo. Stuck between a wall to prevent them from fleeing across the nearby border with Turkey and a hostile government that could attack at any moment, they struggle to secure basic needs in a territory controlled by a militant group formerly linked to Al Qaeda.”

Voice Of America: Islamic State Kidnaps 19 People In Central Syria

“Militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) terror group kidnapped at least 19 people, mostly civilians, near a town in central Syria, state media and a monitor group said. The abduction on Tuesday occurred after a group of IS fighters carried out a “surprise attack” against Syrian government forces near the town of al-Sa’an in Syria’s central province of Hama, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. At least 11 civilians were among those kidnapped by IS militants, according to the observatory. The other eight were reportedly Syrian government soldiers. The attack also left one civilian dead and several others wounded, state news agency SANA reported. Despite its territorial defeat in March 2019, IS continues to carry out deadly attacks throughout Syria. In recent weeks, the militant group has also targeted U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria. A road sign is pictured in the Badia, located in the southeast Syrian desert, June 13, 2017. Rami Abdulrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory, said despite nearly daily airstrikes carried out by Russia, a major Syrian government ally, on IS targets in central Syria, IS militants still pose a threat to the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”

The Straits Times: French ISIS Widow In Syria Camp, Veil-Free, Wants To 'Go Home'

“In a Syrian detention camp for people linked to the Islamic State group, French mother-of-five Emilie Konig has swapped her all-engulfing black robe for a sweatshirt and baseball cap. The 36-year-old widow - who is on UN and US blacklists of dangerous militants, accused of recruiting ISIS fighters and inciting attacks in the West - says she's now desperate to go home. Joining ISIS “wrecked” her life, said Konig, who was captured in late 2017 by Kurdish forces battling the Islamist terrorists in the eastern Syrian town of Shadadi. “I want to go home to France,” she told AFP. “I have my family there. I want to start my life over and right my mistakes.” Konig - who frequently appeared in ISIS propaganda videos, including in a 2013 clip showing her training with a shotgun - now lives in the Kurdish-run Roj camp in northeast Syria. Now sporting a hooded top, faux leather leggings and white hightop trainers, she said: “I'm already dressing ... to get used to my returning”. She said she hopes to work as an accountant back in France - even if Paris has been reluctant to repatriate citizens with ISIS links and would likely seek to try them on terror-related charges.”

Kurdistan 24: Prominent ISIS Member Captured In Al-Hol Camp In Syria

“The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Asayish on Monday captured a leading Islamic State leader in the notorious al-Hol camp in northeast Syria. The SDF and their linked Interior Security Forces (Asayish in Kurdish) found Ahmed Khoshua with information gathered during the recent security operation in the camp, Coalition spokesperson Col. Wayne Marotto said Tuesday. The Syrian Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA) reported that Khoshua, nicknamed Abu Khaled, was responsible for Islamic State cells in al-Hol. “Abu Khaled is an Iraqi from Anbar Governorate, born in the city of al-Qaim 1992, and is considered one of the most dangerous leaders of ISIS cells in Al-Hol,” the ANHA report said. Six other suspected Islamic State group members with Iraqi and Syrian backgrounds were arrested on Tuesday morning, including two women, Um al-Bara' and Um Mohamed, said to be part of  the Hisbah, (the self-imposed female morality police made up of women affiliated with the Islamic State), ANHA reported. They were accused of harboring wanted persons and aiding Islamic State cells in the camp.”

Turkey

Daily Sabah: Turkish Police Detain 35 Daesh Terrorists In Nationwide Raids

“Turkish security forces detained at least 35 suspects, including foreign nationals Wednesday over alleged links to the Daesh terrorist organization. The counterterrorism squads and special operations squads conducted simultaneous operations across Istanbul to nab eight suspects after technical and physical monitoring. Four Turkish nationals, a Syrian, Uzbek, Kyrgyz and an Iraqi national were detained in a raid in the Bağcılar district, Demirören News Agency (DHA) reported. Multiple documents and digital materials were seized in the operations. Separately, as many as 27 Daesh suspects were nabbed in 33 separate locations in 11 provinces. Efforts are ongoing to arrest the remaining ones.”

Deutsche Welle: Turkey Jails 4 Over Attack That Killed German Tourists

“A Turkish court sentenced four men to life in jail on Tuesday for their roles in a suicide bombing in Istanbul in January 2016. The incident, on the city's historic Sultanahmet square, killed 12 German tourists and wounded 16 other people. Turkey's government blamed the so-called Islamic State for the incident, but the group has never claimed responsibility. The four suspects, already in jail, received aggravated life sentences. The Istanbul court that handed out the sentences ruled that the attack represented “an attempt to violently overthrow the constitutional order,” the private DHA news agency reported. Aggravated life sentences are the most severe prison terms possible in Turkey since it abolished the death penalty in 2002; there is no chance for parole. Additionally, each was also sentenced to 328 years for aiding deliberate murder with terrorist intent, among other charges, according to state news agency Anadolu. Tuesday's sentences are final after an appeals court overturned a 2018 verdict against a total of 26 suspects. One further suspect was sentenced to over six years in jail for membership in a terrorist organization. The court acquitted 18 further suspects, citing lack of evidence.”

Afghanistan

The Statesman: Support For Taliban Must Cease For Afghan Peace

“Afghanistan as a nation has only witnessed wars and bloodshed for the past four decades. Its turmoil began with the Soviet invasion in December 1979 and continues to date. The US entered after the 9/11 attack. After two decades, the US is now firming its plans to pull out. It has realised that it would never achieve the goals that it had set for itself when it entered Afghanistan. At the end of the day, it would leave the country in a similar mess as Libya or Iraq, where multiple terrorist groups continue fighting one another as also the elected government for control of territory. Ultimately, it is only the populace which suffers and bears the brunt of the violence. Unlike Donald Trump, who was pushing the Afghan government to sign a peace deal with the Taliban, President Joe Biden is seeking to bring forth an interim inclusive government involving the Taliban and the current elected dispensation in a power sharing formula. This is not being attempted by conviction and convincing, but by arm-twisting and coercion. In addition, the US is planning to delay its troop pull out beyond the agreed date of 1 May.”

Pakistan

Yahoo News: Five ISIS Terrorists Arrested From Mosque For Distributing Hate Material Among People: Officials

“Five terrorists belonging to the banned Islamic State outfit were arrested from a mosque in Pakistan’s Punjab province where they were distributing hate material among people and collecting funds from them, officials said on Tuesday. The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Police said that it received credible information that the members of ‘Daesh’ (the ISIS) were present near Bhatta Chowk in Lahore’s Defence Housing Authority (DHA). “The CTD raided a place in Bhatta Chowk and arrested five terrorists belonging to Daesh (ISIS),” the CTD said in a statement. These terrorists – identified as Nazif Ullah, Zia ur Rehman, Muhammad Ishtiaq, Abdul Rehman Butt and Malik Kashif - were distributing hate material among people and collecting funds for their organisation, the statement said. According to the FIR, the suspected terrorists were nabbed from a mosque at Bhatta Chowk. The terrorists were distributing hate material among the public when they were apprehended, a CTD spokesman said. The anti-terror body said that 40 banned books, funds and two receipts of Daesh have been recovered from their custody. One of the alleged terrorists was carrying a receipt book with a printed Daesh monogram and hate material.”

Nigeria

CNN: Nigeria's President Buhari Describes Prison Break Which Freed Nearly 2000 Inmates As 'Act Of Terrorism'

“Nearly 2000 inmates broke free from a prison in southeast Nigeria Monday after armed men invaded the site and used explosives to blast parts of the prison, authorities said. Six of the 1,844 inmates who escaped from the Owerri Custodial Centre, Imo State, have voluntarily returned, according to a spokesman for the Nigerian Correctional Service. Thirty-five others chose not to abscond during the attack, authorities said. “The attackers who stormed the facility at about 0215hrs on Monday 5th April, 2021, gained entrance into the yard by using explosives to blast the administrative block,” said Francis Enobore, spokesman to Nigerian prison service. The Nigeria Police Force has blamed outlawed secessionist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its paramilitary wing, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) for the attack. The police said the gunmen, who had also stormed the Force headquarters in the state, were armed with a variety of sophisticated weaponry and military hardware. “The attempt by the attackers to gain access to the Police armoury at the Headquarters was totally and appropriately resisted by Nigeria Police Force,” the force said in a statement Monday, adding that no lives were lost in the incident.”

Africa

Reuters: At Least 7 Killed On Military Patrol In Eastern Burkina Faso

“At least three police officers and four members of a government-backed civilian militia were killed while on patrol in eastern Burkina Faso on Monday, government and security sources said on Tuesday. The victims were ambushed in the town of Tanwalbougou, in Gourma province, said the sources, requesting anonymity because the are not authorised to speak publicly. The sources said that the death toll could increase.  The four civilian fighters killed in were members of the Homeland Defence Volunteers (VDP), a group that receives funds and training from the government to help contain an Islamist insurgency. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Attacks by insurgents linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State are frequent in Burkina Faso as well as in neighbouring Mali and Niger, where insurgents have expanded their reach and attacks in recent years. In neighbouring Mali, the army said in a separate statement that it had killed 12 jihadists in the central Mopti region on Tuesday morning and that one soldier had died in the fight. The Tuesday attack is the fourth by insurgents on Malian forces and United Nations peacekeepers since Friday.”

Voice Of America: Over 10,000 Flee Mozambique Town After Jihadist Attacks

“The United Nations reports more than 11,000 people have fled the coastal town of Palma in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province since jihadist insurgents attacked the town nearly two weeks ago. Civilians arriving in Pemba, the capital of Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado, are telling aid workers that thousands of people are trapped inside Palma and the surrounding area. They also report that people fleeing Mozambique have been refused entry into nearby Tanzania. U.N. refugee agency spokesman Babar Baloch says it is very worrisome that people fleeing for their lives are being prevented from seeking asylum. “More than 1,000 tried to cross into Tanzania, tried to cross the border from Mozambique into Tanzania, and they were turned back,” Balloch said. “At this stage, we do not know how this happened, who did this, but we are trying to seek clarification from the authorities on the other side, inside Tanzania.” The UNHCR is appealing to Mozambique’s neighbors to allow entry to people escaping violence and seeking protection. Dozens of people reportedly were killed by Islamist militants who attacked Palma on March 24. Thousands of people have been displaced and the economic fallout from the onslaught is potentially huge.”

France

The North Africa Post: Morocco’s Intelligence Tips Enabled France To Foil Terrorist Plot

“Morocco’s domestic intelligence agency, the General Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DGST), conveyed France essential information about a French woman of Moroccan origin, who was plotting a terrorist attack in a church. The information was transmitted by the DGST on April 1, 2021, to the French external and internal intelligence services (DGSE-DGSI). The data enabled France to prevent the attack, a statement from the spokesperson of the DGST said this Tuesday. The data also enabled French services to make several arrests last weekend (April 3 & 4) and to seize materials used to manufacture explosives. French news outlet Le Point announced the arrest of five “radicalized” women on Sunday. The news outlet added that the investigation said that the five suspects were planning to commit an “imminent violent action in Montpellier.” Police said that none of the suspects were known to the French security services. The information provided by the DGST to the relevant French security services included personal data on the main suspect and on her electronic identity data, as well as on the terrorist project she was preparing to carry out in coordination with elements of the terrorist ISIS group, the spokesman said.”

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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