Eye on Extremism: August 10, 2020

Modern Diplomacy: Cross-Border Links Between Terrorists, Organized Crime, Underscore Need For Coherent Global Response

“The nexus between terrorism and organized crime took centre stage in the Security Council on Thursday, with experts raising fresh concerns over opportunistic alliances emerging among belligerents who share a hostility towards national authorities, and seek to exploit vulnerabilities created by the COVID-19 crisis. “Comprehensive and cooperative responses are needed more than ever”, said Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The COVID-19 crisis is raising a new set of challenges for national authorities, as criminals seek to exploit vulnerabilities created by lockdowns and shifting travel patterns. Building the capacities to deal with these threats is now a key part of UNODC’s focus, she noted. Presenting the Secretary-General’s report on actions taken by Member States to address the links between terrorism and organized crime, mandated by resolution 2482 (2019), she said it reflects the contributions of some 50 Member States and 15 Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact entities, as well as the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team. She said Member States highlighted a range of links, often in connection with the financing of terrorism.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Houthis Accused Of Exploiting Beirut Blast To Raise Donations For Hezbollah

“Yemeni activists accused Houthi militias in Sanaa of preparing to raise funds for the Lebanon-based Hezbollah against the background of the Beirut port explosion which struck the Lebanese capital and left around 100 people homeless. On social media, Yemeni activists accused the Iran-backed Houthis of exploiting the Beirut blast to steal more funds from Yemenis and direct those funds into their war effort and financing the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. All this is taking place at a time Yemenis struggle to secure their daily meals. Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Badreddin al-Houthi had ordered the group’s leaders to arrange for a donations campaign. Consequentially, Houthis sent out SMS texts asking people to donate to a specific bank account. Yemeni activists slammed the behavior of the Houthi group, saying that it does not fathom the size of the disaster lying ahead for Yemenis because of the ongoing war, famine and disease. While the payroll of Yemeni public servants remains frozen, Houthis are rushing to aid Hezbollah under the presumption that it is to help the Lebanese people. This is not the first time Houthis raise donations for the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. Last year, it raised around $132,000 through the Sam radio station after the international sanctions against Iran resumed.”

Voice Of America: Tracking Missed Yazidis Increasingly Harder Six Years After IS Genocide

“The Yazidi minority this week marked six years since the Islamic State (IS) attacked their homeland in northern Iraq. Their nightmare continues. Even after their territories were recaptured and IS was defeated, activists of the religious community say they are still looking for hundreds of their members who went missing during the genocidal campaign that began on August 3, 2014. One of the activists, Ali Hussein al-Khansouri, told VOA that many of the missing Yazidis must be “bought” from their kidnappers who demand amounts that continue to increase. He said that locating and smuggling out the missing Yazidis is becoming more difficult, especially as they seem to be scattered across conflict areas of Syria to as far as Turkey. Al-Khansouri, 34, who survived IS captivity, has rescued 43 kidnapped Yazidis across Iraq and Syria. His first mission in 2017 involved freeing an 8-year-old Yazidi girl from northwestern Syria under the al-Qaeda offshoot the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group. “I never imagined that I will be engaged in finding the missing Yazidis,” said al-Khansouri, who in his quest is also hoping to track 46 people from his extended family and relatives. “As time passed by and thousands of Yazidis remained missing, and because of the network of people I know, I was compelled to take action,” he said.”

Syria

Daily Sabah: 31 Terrorists Captured By Turkish Security Forces On Syrian Border In 2020

“Since the start of this year, Turkey has arrested 31 terrorists and suspected terrorists along its border with Syria, Turkish security sources told Anadolu Agency (AA). Twenty-eight terrorists were arrested while trying to cross into Turkey from Syria by illegal means, including three sought by Interpol, 18 Daesh members, three YPG/PKK terrorists and seven al-Qaeda terrorists, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media. Three Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) suspects attempting to escape into Syria from Turkey's southeastern Kilis province, near the border, were also arrested by Turkish security forces, the sources said. FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people killed and nearly 2,200 injured. FETÖ was also behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary. Out of the 31 terrorists, 13 were deported following joint operations by Turkish intelligence teams, police, gendarmerie and border troops. One of the suspects was a Danish national wanted by Interpol with a red notice for allegedly joining Daesh.”

Iran

Radio Farda: Lebanese Man And Daughter With Reported Hezbollah Connection Shot Dead In Tehran

“Iranian news agencies on Saturday confirmed earlier social media reports that a Lebanese man and his daughter with possible connection with Lebanese Hezbollah were shot dead in their car. The murder took place near the house of Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, the former Deputy Commander of Iraq's Popular Recruiting Forces (IPRF), on Friday night. Al-Muhandis himself was killed on Januray 3 when U.S. missiles targeted Qassem Soleimani. Some Arab media say the victim, named as Habib Davoud, was a Hezbollah operative. The bodies were found shortly after the shooting in the car belonging to the victim by neighbors at 9 on Friday night. Mehr News Agency quoted an “informed source” of the Criminal Investigation Police as saying that the two “victims were shot dead by a man on a motorbike in Golestan Avenue, an affluent neighborhood in the north of the capital Tehran, and named them as Habib Dawoud, 58, and his daughter Maryam, 27. The Police has not issued a statement yet but has started their investigations. Iranian news agencies at first did not mention the nationality of the victims and only called them “Arabic-speakers”. They also said the victim was a “professor of history.”

The Jerusalem Post: ‘Do You Want Iran Promoting Terror With Or Without A Nuke?’

“Does the world want an Iran that promotes terror with or without a nuclear weapon, asked former US defense secretary William Perry in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, as he argued that the United States should rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. He said that although the hope was that the Islamic Republic’s behavior would normalize through JCPOA, “none of that was on paper.” Perry, who served as defense secretary in the Clinton administration, added: “Would you rather have an Iran promoting terror in the Middle East with a nuclear weapon or without?” The interview took place shortly after the release of a book Perry and Ploughshares Fund Policy Director Tom Collina co-authored. Titled The Button, the book focuses on US-Russia nuclear dilemmas, but briefly confronts the Iranian nuclear dilemma. “Rejoining the deal is better than not rejoining it,” Perry continued. “We had restrictions on Iran’s nuclear programs and now we don’t. If someone had a third alternative, it would be nice to hear about it.” He said the decision should be pretty simple: “Some think they can get a better deal. Maybe they can, but I don’t see the evidence.”

Iraq

Foreign Policy: Iraq’s Indigenous Peoples Can’t Face Another Conflict

“Elishwa never thought she would return to Bartella. She fled the village in northern Iraq four hours before an Islamic State attack in August 2014, and she never thought she would see its sand-washed masonry again. But after three and a half years in exile, she returned in January 2018 from Duhok in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. She does not regret coming back but considers the future of her community to be precarious. “We fear a conflict is coming,” Elishwa, who requested the use of a pseudonym out of safety concerns, told Foreign Policy in May, referring to the presence of Iran-backed militias. Elishwa, like most of Bartella’s population before the 2014 Islamic State offensive, is Assyrian—part of an ethnic community indigenous to northern Iraq that is predominantly Christian and the last Aramaic-speaking group in the world. Over the last two decades, punctuated by the Iraq War and rise of the Islamic State, the population of Assyrians in Iraq has declined by a staggering 90 percent: from an estimated 1.5 million in 2003 to just over 150,000 today. The U.S. government’s current focus on the coronavirus pandemic and reports of troop withdrawals could augur an era of disengagement with Iraq.”

Turkey

Daily Sabah: Turkish Security Forces Capture Wanted Al-Qaida Terrorist

“Police forces in southern Turkey arrested a wanted al-Qaida terrorist, local officials announced Friday. Taner Küşioğlu was arrested by anti-terror police in an operation in the Hatay province on Thursday, the governor's office said in a statement, adding that the operation had taken place in the district of Antakya. Küşioğlu was in the gray category of the Interior Ministry's wanted terrorist list with up to a bounty of TL 500,000 ($68,000) on his head. The wanted list is divided into five color-coded categories, with red as the most wanted, followed by blue, green, orange and gray. Turkey has been carrying out extensive anti-terror operations at home and abroad to capture terrorists. Al-Qaida-linked groups are active in Syria where the ongoing civil war led to the rise of Daesh, another terrorist group with a similar ideology. Back in April, the country froze the assets of three organizations linked to Daesh and al-Qaida terror groups in line with a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution. According to the Official Gazette, Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) and two groups affiliated with Daesh operating in Iraq, Libya and Yemen were added to the list of entities affiliated with the two terrorist organizations.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Afghanistan To Release Last Taliban Prisoners, Removing Final Hurdle To Talks

“President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan on Sunday said his government would release a last batch of Taliban prisoners, removing the final hurdle in the way of direct negotiations with the insurgents to end the country’s long war. His announcement came after a consultative assembly where he had been advised by thousands of representatives from across the country. The release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, which the United States agreed to in a February deal with the insurgents that also began the phased withdrawal of American troops, faced opposition from the Afghan government, which is holding the prisoners. After prolonged pressure from the Trump administration, Mr. Ghani released 4,600 prisoners from a list provided by the Taliban but called for consultations over 400, who he said were accused or convicted of major crimes, including murder, that were beyond his authority to pardon. At the start of the consultative assembly, on Friday, more than 3,000 delegates crammed themselves under one tent in the capital, Kabul, despite fears of the coronavirus. Mr. Ghani said his government was at a crossroads. “The Taliban have said that if the 400 prisoners are released the direct talks between our negotiating team and the Taliban will start three days later,” he said in his pitch to the delegates, seeking their advice.”

Voice Of America: Report: Pompeo Warns Russia Against Taliban Bounties

“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned Russia’s foreign minister about alleged bounty payments to Taliban militants for killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to The New York Times. The Times reported Friday that Pompeo made the warning to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a July 13 phone call, citing unidentified U.S. officials. It said Pompeo’s warning was the first known rebuke from a senior U.S. official to Russia over the alleged bounties program. Pompeo has previous declined to say whether he specifically raised the bounty allegations with Russia. However, he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month that he has “raised all of the issues that put any Americans at risk” each time he has spoken to Lavrov. Trump has called the reports of Russian bounties on U.S. troops “another Russian hoax” despite concerns about them from the intelligence community. Trump told reporters in Florida last month, “It was never brought to my attention and it perhaps wasn't brought because they didn't consider it to be real. And if it is brought to my attention, I'll do something about it,” he said. During an interview with “Axios on HBO,” Trump said he had not raised the bounty allegations in a recent phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

The National: In Afghanistan, Taliban Gives With One Hand And Takes Away With The Other

“When Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recommended the first-ever ceasefire with the Taliban in 2018, many Taliban fighters and Afghans did not know what to expect. Few seemed to know or remember what it was like to live in a peaceful Afghanistan in which war was not waged on a daily basis. This made the prospect of a truce, however brief, extremely thrilling. Even before the ceasefire began, some Afghan soldiers rode their vehicles into Taliban-controlled territory to greet the fighters. At the same time, insurgents cautiously ventured into the cities controlled by the government, where civilians welcomed them with colourful garlands and heartfelt embraces so familiar to Afghans. Young people, including many women, approached the fighters, many of whom were also young, for selfies and conversations on ending the war. For three days, all Afghans broke bread together, raising hopes for a future of peace. But shortly after the historic truce ended, the Taliban launched attacks on government checkpoints across provinces in the north and west of the country. A second ceasefire this May held for a few days before lapsing. And so lasting peace continued to evade Afghans. Last week, the Taliban called a third ceasefire for the occasion of Eid Al Adha. It got off to a rough start.”

Lebanon

Reuters: Hezbollah Denies Storing Weapons At Beirut Port Depot

“Hezbollah’s leader on Friday denied accusations that his Iran-backed movement has arms warehoused at Beirut port, calling for an investigation into the biggest explosion to hit the Lebanese capital. In a televised speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called Tuesday’s explosion “an exceptional event” that required unity and calm. The heavily armed Shi’ite Hezbollah would make its political position clear after the dust settles, he added. Nasrallah praised solidarity and aid pouring in from around the world, including a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron. He said this presented an opportunity for Lebanon, already deep in financial crisis. Rescuers were sifting rubble to try to find anyone still alive after the explosion of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that killed 154 people, injured 5,000 and destroyed a swathe of the Mediterranean city. President Michel Aoun said the investigation would examine whether the cause was negligence, an accident or outside interference such as a bomb. Officials have said the explosive material was stored unsafely for years at the port. Nasrallah - whose faction is a big backer of the current government along with Aoun and other allies - asked why the ammonium nitrate was at the port no matter the cause of the blast.”

Gulf News: Beirut Blasts: Critical Time For Hezbollah In Face Of Lebanese Anger

“Lebanon hardly suffers a calamity without pointing the finger of accusation directly at the terrorist Hezbollah, Okaz said in an op-ed. “With every new disaster that befell the Lebanese people, new facts are revealed that prove the involvement of the terrorist party and the evil state of Iran in the tragedies of the Lebanese,” the newspaper said. The Beirut Port explosion on Tuesday came to spark an unprecedented anger among the Lebanese people, who have repeatedly endured the consequences of the terrorist party. And all this anger that surfaced with the explosion of 2,750 tons of ammonia nitrate stored in a Beirut port, amid unprecedented neglect of politicians and officials concerned, until a whole city exploded in the face of the entire ruling political class, and its fragments severely affected this time the Iran-backed Hezbollah. Observers believe that the wounded Lebanon has actually entered the dark tunnel, and the most important way to escape from this tunnel is disarming Hezbollah and holding it accountable for all its crimes against Beirut and against every Lebanese citizen. Former Lebanese minister Mouin Al Marabi said that the Lebanese authorities collectively bear all the responsibility, branding them in a previous interview with Okaz impotent.”

Gulf News: Who Funds Terrorism In Lebanon?

“Since the July 2006 war, the effects of “Thank you Qatar” continue to this day. This is how the relationship between Qatar and Hezbollah, which continued after 2006 in the dark, was devoted to financial and moral support through the Kefraya and Al Foah negotiations, and the billions deal to release 26 fishermen who belonged to the ruling family of Qatar. In the latest chapters of the Qatari conspiracy with the Devil Party, the American Fox News channel revealed that Doha had funded the delivery of weapons to the terrorist Hezbollah militia, considering that this would endanger the American forces in Qatar, which number about 10,000 people. A file provided by security expert Jason G. documented the purchase of weapons in Qatar. He told Fox News a member of the royal family in Doha allowed the delivery of military equipment to Hezbollah. On Wednesday, the Fox News report indicated that Qatar’s ambassador to Belgium and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad Suleiman Al Khulaifi sought to pay Jason 750,000 euros to conceal the file. Jason, who uses a pseudonym to protect himself from Qatari retaliation, said his goal is “to stop Qatar from financing extremists.”

The Jerusalem Post: Scholar Presents Global Map Of Hezbollah Terrorist Operations

“A leading expert on the Lebanese terrorist movement Hezbollah’s operations across the globe presented last week the first-ever interactive multimedia tool chronicling the Shi’ite organization’s malign activities. “Hezbollah is active not only along the Blue Line, not only in Syria, but in other military conflicts throughout the region and in terrorist activity around the world,” Matthew Levitt, the Hezbollah expert, told The Jerusalem Post on Friday. “The group goes to great lengths to publicize the other activities it wants people to know about, social welfare activity and political activity for example. But it goes to still greater lengths to hide its covert, illegal activities, from terrorist operations to narcotics trafficking in money laundering,” said Levitt, who serves as the director of the Washington Institute’s Reinhard Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. “This tool aims to provide a user-friendly, free, open source, location for verified information about Hezbollah’s global activities,” he added. The US, Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Arab League and many Latin American countries have designated Hezbollah a terrorist entity.”

Libya

Al Jazeera: ISIL Will Bounce Back If Libya Civil War Doesn't End, Study Warns

“The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) remains a “persistent threat” in Libya and could rise again unless the country's long-running conflict is brought to an end, a new study has warned. The study, conducted by the Strategic Studies Institute at the United States Army War College, says ISIL is “regrouping, quietly expanding capacity ... until [it] might once again be strong enough to be a challenger in Libya”. It said the armed group retained its capacity to launch “small-scale” attacks in Libya, which was a deviation from its earlier strategy of high-profile “shock and awe” raids. “They engage in small-scale attacks and skirmishes necessary to establish themselves in the criminal smuggling network that link sub-Saharan Africa to the Libyan coast in the north,” according to the study conducted by Azeem Ibrahim. Oil-rich Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 overthrew longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who was later killed. The country has since split between the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in the west and renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east. Each faction is backed by militias and foreign governments.”

Nigeria

Voice Of America: More Than 100 Boko Haram, Captives Surrender Along Cameroon-Nigeria Border

“More than 100 Boko Haram and their captives, almost all Nigerians, have fled the group in the past two weeks, according to the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting the Islamist militants. Thirty-four-year-old Nigerian Kharim Kalga is among 109 people who have surrendered to the task force since late July. Kalga said he has not seen his two wives and five children in the two years since he joined the Islamist militant group because they kept him captive. He said he was living in poverty when Boko Haram fighters promised to give him a motorcycle to earn money for his family, so he joined the group. He said he was forced to steal cattle and millet from villages surrounding the militant group's camp in Nigeria. Kalga said he surrendered to the military because Boko Haram did not fulfill its promise to give him a motorcycle. The task force is holding the former Boko Haram fighters and captives at their base in Cameroon’s northern town of Mora, near the border with Nigeria. Among them are 45 Nigerian and three Cameroonian former fighters, 45 Nigerian children and 16 women who were being used as sex slaves. Commander of the Multinational Joint Task Force Major General Ibrahim Manu Yusuf said the Nigerians are all from Borno state, a Boko Haram stronghold.”

Long War Journal: Al Qaeda-Linked Group Claims Attack In Northwestern Nigeria

“Jamaat al-Ansar al-Muslimeen fi Bilad al-Sudan, better known as Ansaru, reported yesterday that its men were behind a recent attack in Nigeria’s northwestern Kaduna State. The statement was published by al-Qaeda’s Thabat News, an outlet that carries statements and propaganda from al-Qaeda groups around the world and operates much like the Islamic State’s Amaq News. Published yesterday afternoon, Ansaru’s statement said that “more than 25 apostates were killed and 10 wounded in an attack by the mujahideen of Jamaat al-Ansar al-Muslimeen fi Bilad al-Sudan.” It adds that the assault was carried out “on a position of the Nigerian army in Kaduna State in central Nigeria.” No photo evidence or other information was provided with the claim. Given the recent spate of attacks in Kaduna since late July, it is thus hard to pinpoint Ansaru’s exact claimed operation. For instance, on July 20, at least 19 people were killed by gunmen in the village of Kukim Daji. Local officials have also indicated another nearby village was also attacked at the same time. A day later, another 11 people were killed by militants in the village of Gora Gan. On July 22, at least 38 people were killed during raids on two other villages in Kaduna.”

Somalia

France 24: Al-Shabaab Claims Deadly Blast At Military Base In Somali Capital Mogadishu

“At least seven people were killed when a car bomb exploded at an army base in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, military and emergency services said. The attack, claimed by the Al-Shabaab militant group, targeted a compound near Somalia's national stadium where soldiers from the Somali National Army (SNA) are stationed. “There was a heavy blast at the 27th brigade camp. A vehicle loaded with explosives rammed the entrance and there are casualties. Seven people died and more than ten others were wounded,” Mohamed Abdirahman, a lieutenant in the SNA, told AFP. Aamin Ambulance, the country's only free ambulance service, said in a statement that eight people died and 14 others were wounded in the blast. The blast sent shockwaves through the city and a cloud of smoke overhead. Windows were blown out in buildings nearby. Witnesses said the vehicle passed by a checkpoint before a huge explosion erupted near the military camp. Suleyman Hassan, a witness, said a minivan loaded with explosives detonated just outside the entrance. “There are casualties, and some vehicles are burning. We can see clouds of smoke,” he said. Other witnesses also reported seeing ambulances taking away the dead and wounded from the site.”

Africa

The Wall Street Journal: Terrorists Kill Six French Aid Workers In Niger, Government Says

“Jihadist militants on motorcycles killed six French aid workers and their local guide and driver in a giraffe park in Niger on Sunday, according to government officials, the latest attack in a nation hailed by western nations as a bulwark against a rising tide of Islamist militancy across West Africa. The ambush began shortly after 10 a.m., when the French nationals’ tour group entered the Kouré Giraffe Reserve, some 40 miles east of the capital, Niamey, according to senior interior ministry officials and the governor of Tillaberi region, Tidjani Ibrahim Katiella. At least one of the victims was beheaded by the militants, who swarmed the group on a dozen motorcycles, the interior ministry officials said. The foreign victims were expatriates working for the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, or ACTED, a French nongovernmental organization, or NGO, the official said. The was no immediate claim of responsibility, but several analysts said the attack bore the hallmarks of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda-aligned groups that have conducted dozens of strikes on civilian and military targets in the western and southern parts of the country. In 2017, Islamic State militants on motorcycles ambushed and killed four U.S. soldiers in the village of Tongo Tongo on Niger’s western border.”

Associated Press: Gunmen Kill At Least 20 In Village In Eastern Burkina Faso

“Gunmen stormed a cattle market and opened fire in an eastern Burkina Faso village Friday, killing at least 20 people and injuring many others, a local government official said. The attack in Namoungou village is being investigated, said Saidou Sanou, the governor of the eastern region, who urged people to be vigilant and to closely collaborate with the army. Violence linked to Islamic militants and local defense militias killed nearly 2,000 people in Burkina Faso last year and displaced almost 1 million. Violence in the once peaceful West African nation is on track this year to surpass that of last year, Sahel researcher Heni Nsaibia says. The eastern region has been particularly hard hit, with attacks increasing almost 75% this year compared with last, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project says. Eleven clashes have already taken place during the first week of August, according to an internal security report for aid workers seen by The Associated Press. Residents in the region’s last safe haven of Fada N’gourma town, where some tens of thousands of displaced people have also sought refuge, worry the violence is inching closer. Friday’s attack was only 25 kilometers (about 16 miles) away.”

Agence France-Presse: Chad Says Boko Haram Wreaking Havoc Despite Offensive

“Chad's President Idriss Deby said Saturday that Boko Haram jihadists would continue to wreak havoc in the Lake Chad region despite a huge military offensive against the group earlier this year. Lake Chad -- a marshy region dotted with islands near the border of Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon -- has been battered by attacks from jihadists crossing from Nigeria. “We will have this Boko Haram phenomenon for a long time yet,” Deby told Radio France Internationale in an interview. “The incursions will continue,” he said, adding that the group “will continue to cause great damage,” in the Lake Chad area. Boko Haram's insurgency, launched in northeast Nigeria in 2009, has killed more than 36,000 people and displaced more than two million from their homes. The violence has since spread to Niger, Chad and Cameroon. In March, Chad's armed forces suffered their biggest single-day loss, when 98 soldiers were massacred in their base at Bohoma, on the banks of Lake Chad. In response, Deby launched an offensive from March 31 to April 3, declaring at its end that there was “not a single jihadist left” in the Lake Chad region. But sporadic violence has continued, with an attack attributed to Boko Haram on an army vehicle earlier last month killing eight Chadian soldiers.”

Voice Of America: Can The Takuba Force Turn Around The Sahel Conflict?

“Two years after a pan-European military initiative was first proposed to help tackle the Sahel’s Islamist insurgency, the Takuba task force is finally becoming reality, as its first troops arrive amid the coronavirus pandemic, political turmoil and spreading unrest. A group of roughly 100 Estonian and French special forces are the first on the ground to comprise Takuba, the Tuareg name for a sabre. Some 60 Czech troops are to join them in October, and another 150 Swedish ones by early next year. Estonia, Belgium and more recently Italy count among others to announce troops for the mission intended to help Mali and Niger forces fight extremist groups in the region. But for now, and likely in the future, the main foreign troop contributor in the region is France, analysts say, whose own 5,100-troop Barkhane counterinsurgency operation enters its seventh year. And despite recent military victories, they say, chances of eradicating the conflict are remote, unless the Europeans and Africans offer more holistic, long-term solutions. “If you have a gushing wound on your neck, you don’t put a plaster on it,” said Andrew Yaw Tchie, a senior Africa security expert at the London-based Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, or RUSI.”

Modern Diplomacy: Terrorism And COVID-19: Brutality Of Boko Haram In Africa

“On 1 August 2020, Boko Haram killed 19 civilians through a grenade attack on a camp of displaced people in Nguetchewe village of northern Cameroon leaving 11 people seriously injured. Boko Haram has turned out to be one of the lethal terrorist organisation in western and central Africa. Year after year it has been listed as the fiercest terrorist organisation in the global terrorism index. As the world tries to counter the pandemic, Nigeria continues its battle against insurgent groups threatening the stability and political integrity of Africa’s most populous state. Since 2011, Boko Haram has been the largest Islamist militant groups in Africa, has attacked political and religious groups, military and the local police. The Chibok abduction of 200 girls in April 2014, drew international attention to the growing threat from the militant group and the inability of the government to counter it. Boko Haram promotes a version of Islam that considers western education as “Haram”. It forbids the Muslims from taking part in political and social activity linked with western society including voting in elections, wearing shirts and trousers or obtaining secular education. The militant group has been in Nigeria for over a decade, fighting to carve out an Islamic caliphate based in Nigeria.”

Europe

Voice Of America: Widely Seen As Warning Shot, Russia Court Sentences Young Activists For Extremism

“A Moscow court convicted 7 young Russians on extremism charges Thursday — sentencing several of the group to lengthy prison sentences in a closely watched case that seemed to encapsulate the limits of political youth activism in today’s Russia. Prosecutors argued that the defendants — most in their teens and 20’s — had organized an illegal online extremist chat group called “The New Greatness” with the intent of overthrowing the government in 2018. The accused all denied the charges and said evidence was fabricated. Indeed, to critics, the case was the latest example of the government’s abuse of Russia’s vague anti-extremism laws — and subservient court system — to crush perceived political rivals through any means necessary. The state’s case was marred by credible accusations of torture and entrapment by Russia’s Federal Security Services, or FSB. The government’s key witness was an undercover FSB agent named “Ruslan D” who prosecutors say infiltrated the group to learn of their plans. Throughout the trial, the accused countered that the agent himself concocte “The New Greatness” label and pushed a radical political agenda to the other participants in an otherwise largely apolitical group chat.”

Technology

Michigan Live: Threats On Facebook Live Bring Terrorist-Threat Charge, Kalamazoo police Say

“A man who allegedly used Facebook Live to threaten violence on a Kalamazoo neighborhood is charged with making terrorists threats. Kalamazoo police said that the suspect, Jhontae Jamison, 26, of Kalamazoo, made the online threats in retaliation for a previous shooting incident. Several people contacted police on Saturday, Aug. 1, about the threats. Detectives investigated and were “concerned about this threatening content and the fear it had created in the community,” police said in a statement. Jamison was arrested without incident. He was arraigned Thursday, Aug. 6, in Kalamazoo County District Court on charges of making terrorist threats and using a computer to commit a crime.”