Eye on Extremism: August 17, 2023

The New York Times: Coup In Niger Upends U.S. Terrorism Fight And Could Open A Door For Russia

“The military takeover in Niger has upended years of Western counterterrorism efforts in West Africa and now poses wrenching new challenges for the Biden administration’s fight against Islamist militants on the continent. American-led efforts to degrade terrorist networks around the world have largely succeeded in longtime jihadist hot spots like Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Not so in Africa, especially in the Sahel, the vast, semiarid region south of the Sahara where groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State are gaining ground at an alarming pace. Niger, an impoverished nation of 25 million people that is nearly twice the size of Texas, has recently been the exception to that trend.”

CBS News: "Our Dreams Were Shattered": Afghan Women Reflect On 2 Years Of Taliban Rule

“The Taliban marked the second anniversary of their return to power in Afghanistan on Tuesday, and celebrated what the Islamic regime said was a day of victory over the United States and its allies with a public holiday. Two years after the United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent collapse of the democratically elected Afghan government allowed the Taliban to seize power in Kabul, the current regime have set their sights on establishing an "Islamic government" and implementing their harsh interpretation of Sharia law in the country. For the women of Afghanistan, the consequences have been severe, and their futures have been left uncertain.”

United States

Fox News: Treasury Department Sanctions Hezbollah’s Bogus ‘Environmental’ Organization As Terrorist Front

“The alleged architect of the September 11, 2001 attack and several other defendants could avoid the death penalty under plea agreements being considered, according to a letter to families from the Pentagon and FBI. The letter was sent by federal agencies to several families of the thousands of people killed during the 9/11 attacks. It comes a year and a half after military prosecutors and defense lawyers began looking at a potential resolution to the case. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as well as four other people are being held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The case has been hindered and delayed, particularly over the legal issues of the interrogation under torture that the men went through while in CIA custody.”

U.S. Department Of The Treasury: Treasury Sanctions Lebanese Entity And Leader For Providing Support To Hizballah

“WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Lebanon-based Green Without Borders and its leader. Green Without Borders is a Lebanon-based organization that has provided support to and cover for Hizballah’s operations in southern Lebanon along the “Blue Line” between Lebanon and Israel over the last decade while publicly operating under the guise of environmental activism. “The United States rejects Hizballah’s cynical efforts to cloak its destabilizing terrorist activities with false environmentalism,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “We will continue to support the many Lebanese civil society groups protecting Lebanon’s unique and sensitive natural environment while also relentlessly pursuing Hizballah and their support networks.””


Gatestone Institute: Iran's Plan To Turn The West Bank Into A Terror Base

“Palestinian terrorists are working hard to turn the West Bank into a launching pad for waging war on Israel. They have already turned the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip into a base for firing tens of thousands of rockets towards Israel. Now, the terrorists, with the help of Iran, are trying to use the West Bank to launch rockets at Israeli civilian communities. The US Administration's recent move to give Iran access to at least $16 billion, including $6 billion held in South Korea, as part of a prisoner exchange deal, will undoubtedly benefit Tehran's Palestinian terror proxies: Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The two terror groups, which seek the destruction of Israel, have long been receiving financial and military aid from Iran's mullahs.”


Iraqi News: Iraqi Security Launches Preemptive Strike Against ISIS

“Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – The Iraqi security forces launched on Tuesday a preemptive air strike against remnants of the terrorist group ISIS in the northern governorate of Kirkuk to paralyze its ability to prove its presence after announcing the name of its new leader, Abu Hafs Al-Hashimi Al-Qurashi. The Iraqi Security Media Cell (ISMC) mentioned in a statement that the air strike was carried out using F-16 fighter jets in a valley in Kirkuk, indicating that the strike resulted in the killing of terrorist elements. The statement emphasized that security forces will continue their qualitative and preemptive operations against the remaining terrorists until they have no place in Iraq.”

The New Arab: Islamic State Group Still Poses Serious Threat In Syria, Iraq And Afghanistan, Un Experts Say

“The Islamic State group still commands between 5,000 and 7,000 members across its former stronghold in Syria and Iraq and its fighters pose the most serious terrorist threat in Afghanistan today, UN experts said in a report circulated on Monday. The experts monitoring sanctions against the militant group, also known by its Arab acronym Daesh, said that during the first half of 2023, the threat posed by IS remained "mostly high in conflict zones and low in non-conflict areas". But the panel said in a report to the UN Security Council that "the overall situation is dynamic" and despite significant losses in the group's leadership and reduced activity in Syria and Iraq, the risk of its resurgence remains.”


The Times Of India: Worry, Despair And More Terror Attacks In Pakistan: 2 Years Of Taliban Takeover In Afghanistan

“NEW DELHI: August 15, 2023, marks two years since the the Taliban stormed back to power in Afghanistan as US and NATO forces withdrew from the country following two decades of brutal war. Two Years Since Kabul's Fall: How life changed for Afghan women since the Taliban took power. Since the takeover of the hardline Islamist group, the country has been isolated globally and is struggling to kickstart its fledging economy. Its series of severe restrictions against women has further pushed it away from international assistance and funds. India has been slowly gaining ground in Afghanistan on the diplomatic front, and has been towing a fine line between offering assistance in infrastructure projects and humanitarian aid but also reiterating the global position for need of an inclusive government.”

PBS: UN Envoy Says ICC Should Prosecute Taliban For Crimes Against Humanity For Denying Education, Employment To Women

“UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The International Criminal Court should prosecute Taliban leaders for a crime against humanity for denying education and employment to Afghan girls and women, the U.N. special envoy for global education said. Gordon Brown told a virtual U.N. press conference on the second anniversary of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan on Tuesday that its rulers are responsible for “the most egregious, vicious and indefensible violation of women’s rights and girls’ rights in the world today.” The former British prime minister said he has sent a legal opinion to ICC prosecutor Karim Khan that shows the denial of education and employment is “gender discrimination, which should count as a crime against humanity, and it should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.””


NBC News: Pakistan Arrests 129 Muslims After Mob Attacks Churches And Homes Of Minority Christians

“Police arrested more than 100 Muslims in overnight raids from an area in eastern Pakistan where a Muslim mob angered over the alleged desecration of the Quran by a Christian man attacked churches and homes of minority Christians, prompting authorities to summon troops to restore order, officials said Thursday. There were no casualties as Christians living in a residential area in the city of Jaranwala in the Faisalabad district quickly moved to safer places along with their families. Christians slowly returned to their homes Thursday, only to see the destruction of at least one church that was burned. Four other churches were also damaged. Two dozen homes were torched or badly damaged during the riots.”


AFP: Concern At UN Over Risks Of Renewed Conflict In Yemen

“United Nations and Western Security Council representatives sounded alarms over renewed risks of conflict in Yemen on Wednesday, after nearly a year and a half of relative calm in the warring country. UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg warned of "public threats to return to war" in the Middle Eastern nation, without offering any specific examples, while the United States and United Kingdom warned of escalating attacks and threats from Houthi rebels. The poorest country on the Arabian peninsula, Yemen's economy has collapsed in the eight years of war between Iran-backed Houthis and the Saudi coalition-backed government.”


The National News: Hezbollah Is Leveraging Its Own Interests Even As Lebanon Crumbles

“A very serious incident occurred last week, when a Hezbollah truck transporting weapons to Beirut turned over in the nearby Christian village of Kahaleh. What the episode showed, above all, is that while Hezbollah remains powerful militarily, its cross-communal support in Lebanese society no longer exists. While the sequence of events is not absolutely clear, armed Hezbollah members accompanying the truck tried to force villagers away once the vehicle had turned over. When the villagers realised the truck was carrying weapons, they began throwing rocks at the armed men. One villager, Fadi Bejjani, started firing on them, killing one of the Hezbollah members, before his comrades shot and killed Bejjani.”

Middle East

Israel National News: Report: Wanted Terrorist Eliminated In Jenin

“On Thursday morning, following precise ISA intelligence, IDF and Israel Border Police forces conducted counterterrorism activity in order to apprehend a terrorist cell associated with the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. During an operation in which Israel Border Police forces apprehended two wanted suspects, a gunfight erupted between the terrorists and the Israeli security forces. Shots were fired at the forces from the building, and the forces immediately responded with live fire and breached the building. During exchanges of fire, Mustafa Kumbua, a resident of Jenin, was shot and killed after shooting at the forces and attempting to flee during the apprehension attempt. Mustafa was involved in terrorist activity and shot at IDF soldiers.”

Jewish News Syndicate: The Israeli Left’s New Blood Libel: ‘Jewish Terrorism’

“On Friday night, Aug. 4, the Israeli media reported that “Jewish terrorists” had entered the Palestinian village of Burqa in the Binyamin region and murdered a Palestinian in a deliberate act of terrorist murder. The claim was based on the Palestinian Authority’s propaganda organ the Wafa “news” service. The Israel Defense Forces spokesman, the Shin Bet and the Israeli Police also adopted and presented the Wafa allegation as fact. The “Jewish terrorists” in question were not given a fair hearing. Observing Shabbat, they did not speak to the media and were unaware that they were being demonized as terrorists until Saturday night. As it happened, the entire tale was fictional.”


Garowe Online: Why Somalia Is Delaying Phase II Of Al-Shabaab Crackdown

“MOGADISHU, Somalia - The federal government of Somalia may delay planned operations against Al-Shabaab militants due to inadequate preparations and lack of confirmation from frontline nations whether they will participate in the crackdown or not, several months after a number of countries pledged to dispatch their troops. Major General Ibrahim Sheikh Muhudin told VOA's The Dossier that it doesn’t appear to him that troops from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Djibouti will participate in the second phase of operations dubbed “Operation Black Lion.” According to him, all indications are that the frontline nations "will not have immediate, direct participation".”


WTOP News: The Hunt: The Coup In Niger Is Hampering Counterterrorism Efforts In West Africa

In this week’s episode of “The Hunt with WTOP national security correspondent J.J. Green,” Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director at the Counter Extremism Project, said terror groups are definitely trying to take advantage of the instability.

The Punch: Boko Haram Ethnic Factions Battle, Kill 82 In Borno

“An inter-ethnic clash among Boko Haram fighters occurred in Kukawa Local Government Area of Borno State, according to local and security sources living in Baga and areas along Lake Chad fringes. In a report by Daily Trust, the clash was triggered by the killing of seven Boko Haram fighters from the Buduma tribe. The fighters were executed by their commander on Bukkwaram Island after their failed surrender to the Nigerian military on Tuesday. According to the source, “Their colleagues, whom they confided in, betrayed them and informed their commander of their plan to surrender. They were later intercepted and taken to Bukkwaram Island where the commander sentenced them to death by firing. “So after killing them, an ethnic crisis broke out among the four tribes of the fighters—Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri and Buduma.”

Vanguard News: Over 100 Terrorists Massacred In Power Struggle, Infighting

“More than 100 terrorists belonging to terrorist group of the Islamic State, West Africa Province (ISWAP) and the Bomo Haram terrorist group have been massacred in the last 7 days as a result of infighting and power struggle between the two groups in the Lake Chad Basin areas, Intelligence sources have revealed. This is just as another 60 members of the ISWAP group were said to been captured by the Boko Haram group aftermath of the fighting. However, following intensive air and ground assault on the hideouts, and enclaves of the terrorists bases in the Sambisa forest and Lake Chad fringes, three (3) BHT Commanders and 78 fighters along with members of their families have surrendered to troops of the Multi-national Joint Task Force in Monguno.”


The Times: Far Right On The March In Germany As Extremist Events Triple

“The number of extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi marches in Germany is on the rise, with three times as many happening this year as in 2022. Figures from the Bundestag, the German parliament, reveal that in the first half of 2023, 162 right-wing extremist gatherings took place across the country, compared with 52 for the same period in 2022. The figures were released in response to an inquiry by the left-wing democratic-socialist party Die Linke. The marches, rallies and protests have been held predominantly by groups such as the Freie Sachsen (Free Saxons) party, founded in 2021, and by members of Die Heimat (The Homeland), the new name for the National Democratic Party of Germany, founded in 1964.”


Bloomberg: Sweden Is Reportedly Set To Raise Terror Threat Level To High After Koran Burnings

“Sweden is set to announce an increased level of terrorist threat following a series of Koran burnings that have sparked anger in the Muslim world, daily Dagens Nyheter reported on Thursday. The threat level will be raised to four from three on a five-point scale, according to the newspaper, which cited unnamed sources. That implies a “high” threat, compared with the current “elevated” level. The move comes in the wake of a number of public events where people have desecrated Islam’s holy book. The actions, which have led to protests and riots, have been criticized by the Swedish government. The country’s law enforcement have sought to block them, but courts have struck down those efforts, citing Sweden’s far-reaching rights to freedom of speech and assembly.”

Southeast Asia

Asia News Network: Indonesia’s Densus 88 Anti-Terror Squad Arrests State Railway Employee For Alleged Link To IS

“JAKARTA – The National Police’s Densus 88 counterterrorism squad has arrested an employee of state-owned railway company PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) on suspicions that he is an Islamic State (IS) sympathizer. The suspected terrorist, identified only by his initials DE, was arrested on Monday afternoon at his rented house in Bekasi, West Java. DE had rented the house just six months ago and lived there with his pregnant wife and children, according to local neighborhood unit head Ichwanul Munlimin, as reported by several media outlets. The police searched the suspect’s home and seized more than a dozen firearms, including pistols, rifles and airsoft guns converted into real guns, as well as hundreds of rounds of ammunition, Densus 88 spokesperson Sr. Comr. Aswin Siregar said.”

The Economist: Indonesia Wants To Export Moderate Islam

“On Christmas Eve 22 years ago, jihadist terrorists planted bombs at churches in cities across Indonesia, killing 18 people. Every Christmas since then, members of the country’s largest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama (nu), have gathered outside churches in Indonesia to ensure that Christians can worship in safety. Now the powerful Islamic organisation has a more ambitious goal: to spread its moderate views across the Muslim world. Despite being the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, Indonesia has long punched below its weight in the big Islamic debates. The dominant Muslim ideas, spiritual and political, long emanated from the conservative Middle East. This is apparent among Indonesia’s 237m Muslims. Demonstrations of Middle-Eastern-style public piety have become much more common in recent decades. Many more women now wear a Muslim headscarf, or hijab. Yet most Indonesians still hew to the region’s syncretic traditions. In East Java, nu’s heartland, they mingle Islam with local Javanese beliefs called kejawen.”


The Daily Star: How Serious Is The Threat Of A Militant Resurgence?

“The recent spate of arrests following the suspected emergence of a new militant outfit and subsequent police raids have raised concerns about the resurgence of militancy in the country. On Monday, police took into custody 17 alleged militants after locals, with the help of autorickshaw drivers, apprehended them in Moulvibazar. This marks a dramatic escalation in counter-terrorism scrutiny of the region after police raided a suspected militant hideout two days earlier. Overall, in four separate drives over a span of eight days – the first two held in Mirpur, Dhaka – some 38 suspected militants have been arrested. We are told that the suspects also had 11 children with them.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.

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