Eye on Extremism: August 18, 2023

Associated Press: US Imposes Sanctions On 2 Turkey-Backed Syrian Militias And The Groups' Leaders

“The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on two Turkey-backed Syrian militias and the groups’ leaders accused of human rights abuses in Syria’s northwestern, opposition-held enclave. The groups are operating in the town of Afrin, which has been under Turkish-backed opposition forces since 2018, following an Ankara-backed military operation. That offensive pushed Syrian Kurdish fighters and thousands of Kurdish residents from the area. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned The Suleiman Shah Brigade and The Hamza Division, as well as their leaders, Mohammad Hussein al-Jasim, Walid Hussein al-Jasim, and Sayf Boulad Abu Bakr.”

Associated Press: Niger’s Neighbors Running Out Of Options As Defense Chiefs Meet To Discuss Potential Military Force

“West African defense chiefs met Thursday to discuss the crisis in Niger after coup leaders there ignored their deadline to step down, leaving the region’s countries with few options in their effort to restore democratic rule. Niger’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, was overthrown in July and remains under house arrest with his wife and son in the capital, Niamey. Defense chiefs from the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, were meeting Thursday in Ghana to discuss next steps in their stated goal of restoring Bazoum. Coup leaders in Niger already have ignored a deadline to restate him or face military intervention.”

United States

Jewish News Syndicate: Timing Is Everything, As US Designates Green Without Borders A Terror Group

“Israeli military and diplomatic officials have been screaming from the rooftops for some time about a Lebanese NGO serving as a Hezbollah front. The U.S. Treasury Department finally sanctioned Green Without Borders and its leader on Wednesday. Why now? The answer has a lot to do with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, whose mandate the United Nations Security Council is currently discussing renewing. The 10,500-troop, international peacekeeping mission purportedly monitors the de-facto border between Israel and Lebanon, known as the “Blue Line.” The Iran-backed, internationally-designated terror group Hezbollah controls the terrain.”


Daily Nigerian: Senior Islamic State Official Killed In Eastern Syria Raid

“A joint operation by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF, and U.S. coalition forces killed a senior Islamic State official in eastern Syria, Kurdish fighters said. Ibrahim Al-Ali, who was a leader in eastern Syria and was also known as Abu Mujahid, was killed in a targetted raid on Tuesday, the Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF, said on Thursday. The SDF said he died during the operation in the centre of the city of Raqqa. It added that several items of military equipment were confiscated during the operation. A Kurdish source said Abu Mujahid was responsible for recruiting Islamic State’s fighters inside eastern Syria and from neighbouring Iraq. “The killing of this guy is important as he was in charge of the eastern region, which includes al-Hassakeh, Raqqa and Deir al-Zour.”


The Economist: The Kurds’ Dreams Of Independence Look Farther Off Than Ever

“For three decades Kurdistan boomed while the rest of Iraq sputtered. The region had the country’s fastest economic growth. It built modern oil complexes, hotels and motorways. With a vote in favour of independence in a referendum in 2017, its future looked bright. Six years on that dream has faded. The cranes that rotated above sprawling conurbations are parked over half-finished estates. And as Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, rebounds thanks to improved security and oil revenues, its rulers are chipping away at Kurdistan’s autonomy. After 30 years of self-government, the Kurds’ economy, borders, disputed territories and politics are largely back under central control. The Kurdish Regional Government (krg) is losing strength, says a Western diplomat monitoring developments from Baghdad: “There’s a risk that the Kurdistan project will fail.””


Associated Press: Taliban Official Says Women Lose Value If Their Faces Are Visible To Men In Public

“Women lose value if men can see their uncovered faces in public, a spokesman for a key ministry of Afghanistan’s Taliban government said Thursday, adding that religious scholars in the country agree that a woman must keep her face covered when outside the home. The Taliban, who took over the country in August of 2021, have cited the failure of women to observe the proper way to wear the hijab, or Islamic headscarf, as a reason for barring them from most public spaces, including parks, jobs and university. Molvi Mohammad Sadiq Akif, the spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue, said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press that if women’s faces are visible in public there is a possibility of fitna, or falling into sin.”

The Times of India: Women Beheaded And Discarded In Rivers During Taliban Rule In Afghanistan: Report

“Amid the Taliban's rule in Afghanistan, a deeply unsettling report has come to light, highlighting a gruesome reality where women are subjected to beheadings, and their lifeless bodies are recklessly discarded in rivers and public areas. The results of an in-depth investigation by Afghan Witness have revealed a truly alarming revelation: a startling total of 3,329 documented cases of human rights violations in Afghanistan since the Taliban took power in August two years ago. By utilizing information accessible to the public, researchers thoroughly documented 1,977 incidents involving human rights violations. These cases encompass a range of offenses, such as killings, wrongful imprisonments, and instances of mistreatment of the population.”


CNN: Pakistani Authorities Arrest More Than 100 People In Punjab After Church Attacks

“Authorities in Pakistan’s Punjab province have arrested more than 100 people after crowds descended on churches and set them on fire on Wednesday, raising concerns over the discrimination faced by religious minorities in the country. At least 17 churches have been vandalized since Wednesday, according to the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), a Pakistani government body. The attacks took place after a Christian man was accused of committing blasphemy and desecrating the Quran. “According to NCHR inquiry, 17 Churches in #Jaranwala have been targeted. 12 registered churches and 5 smaller, unregistered churches,” NCHR posted on X, previously known as Twitter, on Thursday. Pakistani Christian communities are regularly targeted under the country’s strict blasphemy laws, which activists say have historically been manipulated to persecute minorities and isolate them from public life.”


The Times Of India: Public Threats To Return To War In Yemen Hinder Efforts To Start Peace Talks, UN Envoy Says

“Threats to return to war in Yemen are hindering efforts to start peace talks as the Arab world's poorest country faces an increasingly dire economic situation, a senior UN official said Wednesday. Hans Grundberg, the UN special representative for Yemen, told the Security Council that hostilities between Houthi rebels and government forces haven't returned to levels before a six-month truce that ended in October, but he said intermittent fighting and exchanges of fire have continued. He singled out six front-line areas. They include Yemen's third-largest city, Taiz, which has been under siege by the Houthis since 2016; Hodeida, where Yemen's main port is located; and the oil-rich eastern province of Marib, which the Houthis attempted to seize in 2021.”


Associated Press: UN Says Militants Are Occupying A School Complex In Lebanon’s Largest Palestinian Camp After Clashes

“Two weeks after clashes between armed factions in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp ended, militants are still occupying a United Nations-run school complex, U.N. officials said Thursday. Dorothee Klaus, director of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, or UNRWA, in Lebanon, said in a statement that the agency has “received alarming reports that armed actors continue to occupy its installations including a school compound” in the Ein el-Hilweh camp. The compound provides education to 3,200 out of a total of 6,000 students in the camp, which is home to more than 50,000 people. Earlier this month, Klaus said that the start of the school year might be delayed for students in the camp due to damages to the school facilities.”

Middle East

Associated Press: After Israeli Raids, Palestinian Police Struggle In Militant Hotbed, Reflecting Region On The Brink

“Last month, after the biggest Israeli military raid on a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank in years, Palestinians turned their wrath on their own security forces. They unleashed gunfire, firebombs and pipe bombs at Palestinian security buildings in an outpouring of rage against the Palestinian Authority’s failure to protect them from the devastating July 3 raid and a long-running, deeply unpopular security alliance with Israel. “The horrible events of that night reminded us of the lead-up to the Hamas coup in Gaza,” the head of police in Jenin, Brig. Gen. Azzam Jebara, said at a ceremony this week for officers who defended a police station from rampaging protesters. “It was a warning.””

Reuters: Israel-Hezbollah Tensions Elevate Risks Of Conflict

“An escalating war of words between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon echoes heightened tension at the border, with each vowing to return the other to the "stone age" and preparing for a possible conflict even as they deny seeking one. Israel and Hezbollah have avoided war across the Lebanese-Israeli frontier since their last major clash 17 years ago, deterred by mutual threats of destruction. Syria has meanwhile served as an arena for their conflict. But the calm has been put under strain by a series of incidents which have added to the risks of escalation as regional tensions simmer over Iran's nuclear programme and as Israel-Palestinian violence surges, analysts say.”


CNN: US Says Airstrike Kills 5 Al-Shabaab Terrorists In Somalia

“The US military conducted an airstrike killing five al-Shabaab terrorists on Tuesday, US Africa Command said in a statement. The airstrike was carried out in support of Somali National Army forces “in a remote area near Cali Heele, approximately 244 kilometers North East of Mogadishu, Somalia.” The initial assessment showed that no civilians were killed in the airstrike, AFRICOM said. “Somalia remains key to the security environment in East Africa. US Africa Command’s forces will continue training, advising and equipping partner forces to give them the tools that they need to degrade al-Shabaab,” the statement says.”

Garowe Online: ATMIS Says Will Continue Countering Al-Shabaab In Somalia Amid Exit Process

“The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] maintains that it is committed towards countering Al-Shabaab militants who have been wreaking havoc in Somalia for the last two decades, revealing various military strategies put in place to defeat the group. In a statement, ATMIS further acknowledges that it has invested in strengthening of the Somali National Army [SNA] which is set to assume security responsibilities from the peacekeepers in due course, once Somali Transition Plan [STP] is actualized. On Tuesday, the ATMIS team under the Uganda People's Defense Forces [UPDF] conducted a joint patrol with the SNA troops, mainly targeting Improvised Explosive Devices [IEDs] planted along Beledamin-Quoryoley which connects Mogadishu and Kismayo, the regional administrative capital of Jubaland.”


The East African: US “Deeply Concerned” With Worsening Violence In Mali After Early UN Mission Exit

“Violence in Mali as the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (Minusma) begins its withdrawal earlier than scheduled. The UN Mission is withdrawing from the restive West African nation on the request of the military-led transition government which accused it of being part of the over a decade long conflict that has created one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. The Minusma says its forces have become target by Mali’s security forces, compelling it to bring forward the planned withdrawal of its Blue Helmets. In a statement on August 13, Minusma announced that three of its soldiers were wounded when they came under fire twice as they departed a major base in the town of Ber in the north of the country.”


Associated Press: Leading Politician Says Victory For Niger’s Coup Leaders Would Be ‘The End Of Democracy’ In Africa

“If mutinous soldiers who ousted Niger’s President Mohamed Bazoum succeed, it will threaten democracy and security across the region and the continent, a high-ranking member of Bazoum’s political party warned in an interview with The Associated Press. Boubacar Sabo, deputy secretary general for the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism, said Bazoum had been “kidnapped” by members of the presidential guard who overthrew him on July 26 and have since kept him under house arrest. “What is happening in Niger, if it succeeds, is the end of democracy in Africa. It’s over. … If we fight today, it is to prevent these kind of things from happening and to ensure a future for our continent,” Sabo said on Thursday.”

Southeast Asia

The Times of India: Body Of Terrorist Found In Jammu And Kashmir's Reasi

“A terrorist, who was injured in an encounter with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Reasi district early this month, was found dead on Friday, officials said. While one terrorist was killed, another was injured in the gunbattle in Khawas area of Reasi district on August five. The injured terrorist was not traced after the encounter. "The body of second terrorist injured in encounter at Khawas found by special operation group (SoG) at Dhakikot area of Reasi", Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Jammu zone, Mukesh Singh said.Singh said grenades and magazines were also found at the spot.”

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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