Eye on Extremism: August 6, 2020

Voice Of America: US Action Against IS Financier Shows Jihadists’ Cash Flow Continues From Turkey

“The U.S. designation last week of a new Turkey-based member of the notorious Rawi Network for allegedly facilitating money transfers to the Islamic State (IS) in Syria has raised fresh concerns among observers that jihadists continue to use Turkey to fund their activities in Syria. The Rawi Network, founded by an Iraqi family, has been known to the U.S. government for decades. In the 1990s, it was accused of using informal payment systems to help Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq evade international sanctions by buying and selling oil without reliance on formal banking systems. The Rawis returned to the spotlight in November 2019 when the U.S. Department of the Treasury blacklisted six of their members who had operated companies in Iraq, Turkey and Belgium. The companies, registered as everyday money exchange and transfer businesses, were used to provide a mechanism for IS’s global sympathizers to fund the extremist group’s operations in Iraq and Syria. Last Tuesday, the Treasury sanctioned another man in the family named Adnan Muhammad Amin al-Rawi and described him as an IS facilitator in Turkey.”

The Jerusalem Post: Hezbollah Stockpiled Chemical Behind Beirut Blast In London And Germany

“Hezbollah kept three metric tons of ammonium nitrate, the explosive thought to be behind the mega blast in Beirut this week, in a storehouse in London, until MI5 and the London Metropolitan Police found it in 2015. The Lebanese terrorist group also stored hundreds of kilograms of ammonium nitrate in southern Germany, which were uncovered earlier this year. The Beirut explosion took place at a warehouse that held 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate that had been confiscated from a ship. The Iran-backed terrorists kept the explosive in thousands of ice packs in four properties in northwest London, according to a report in The Telegraph last year. The ice pack deception tactic was used in Germany, as well. A source was quoted in The Telegraph saying the ammonium nitrate was to be used for “proper organized terrorism” and could have caused “a lot of damage.” MI5 arrested a man in his 40s for allegedly planning terrorist attacks, but did not find evidence that the terrorists were planning an attack in the UK. A foreign government reportedly tipped off MI5 to the explosives stockpile. KAN reported that the Mossad gave the UK the information.”

United States

Vice: Neo-Nazi Terror Group Atomwaffen Division Re-Emerges Under New Name

“Months after claiming it was disbanding, the neo-Nazi terror group formerly known as the Atomwaffen Division (AWD) has re-emerged under a new leadership structure and name, according to one of its leaders and an online statement reviewed by VICE News. The new group, operating under the banner of the National Socialist Order (NSO), says it draws from a cadre of former AWD leaders who avoided jail time after a sweeping nationwide FBI operation earlier this year led to the arrest of several of its members. The NSO statement said “much good came out of AWD”—which is linked to five killings in the U.S.—but that the new organization has learned from the mistakes of its predecessor. Though this may appear to be nothing more than yet another brigade of internet Nazis making threats, the founding of the NSO illustrates how violent accelerationist organizations continue festering online despite the FBI's concerted efforts to arrest far-right militants…“At the moment, it appears that NSO is very much a new generation of AWD, as the new group is led by AWD leadership that was not arrested,” said Joshua Fisher-Birch, a research analyst at the Counter Extremism Project, a U.S.-based terrorism watchdog. “It was a matter of time before a new group would emerge and claim leadership of this violent movement.”

Fox News: Democrats Refuse To Condemn Antifa In Domestic Terrorism Hearing, Andy Ngo Says

“Tensions ran high at a Senate hearing on Antifa on Tuesday as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, blasted Democrats for not condemning the leftist extremist group more directly for the violence that has erupted in certain U.S. cities in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis. Andy Ngo, a conservative journalist from Portland who has documented the movements of Antifa for years and was allegedly attacked by members of the group in 2019, said they have 'mastered the art of making its violence appear innocuous.' “I don't think Congress currently is equipped to handle domestic terrorism because it's so politicized and that's very dangerous for this country,” said Ngo, who testified as a witness on Tuesday’s hearing. During the hearing, there was a refusal by Democrats to condemn Antifa, according to Ngo. “I think Republicans have by and large done a very good part with speaking very honestly and openly about far-right extremism and making sure that the sort of world views and ideologies of racist extremist movements don't find root in grounding in the mainstream conservative movement,” Ngo told Fox News. “Whereas Democrats really struggle with drawing the line on where they feel okay about far-left extremism. As of right now, I don't see them drawing the line anywhere.”

Sun Times: Woman Charged With Attempted Terrorism In Lombard

“A woman is facing charges after allegedly helping a man who attempted to fire-bomb municipal vehicles last month in west suburban Lombard. Amanda Wolf, 23, is charged with attempted terrorism and possession of an incendiary device, the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office said. Wolf allegedly supplied Christian Frazee, 25, with materials to make the Molotov cocktail he was seen holding as he walked toward village-owned vehicles about 12:30 a.m. on June 1, prosecutors said. She had allegedly been texting with Frazee throughout the day, including an exchange where Frazee told her he was going to “Throw sh– at the cop car,” prosecutors said. In another text exchange, Frazee asked Wolf if peroxide is flammable and she responded “Wya I got that stuff for ya I also threw in some acetone I know that’s flammable lol,” prosecutors said. Frazee was previously charged with attempted terrorism and possession of an incendiary device, prosecutors said. Wolf appeared at a hearing Wednesday where her bail was set at $750,000. She is expected back in court Aug. 28.”

Iraq

Al Monitor: Pro-Iran Militias Continue Hitting Military Bases In Iraq

“The two rockets that hit Baghdad airport July 30 were one of several attacks in Iraq last month presumed to be or declared by Shiite armed groups against any Western military presence in the country. The airport, which had reopened July 23 for commercial flights after it was closed in March in an attempt to stem the coronavirus pandemic, lies just west of the capital. No significant damage resulted; the rockets had reportedly been shot from two different areas along an international highway in al-Radwaniyah, southwest of the capital. On July 28, some media sources had been told by unnamed “Iraqi security” that two rockets had landed inside the airport but had not resulted in any damage. The claim was shortly thereafter denied by the Iraqi Security Media Cell, which instead confirmed exactly such an attack two days later. The latest of many attacks on Camp Taji, on July 27, less than 30 kilometers (19 miles) north of Baghdad, meanwhile damaged an Iraqi helicopter but did not affect coalition troops or facilities. Several attacks in recent months have been claimed by “new pro-Iran groups” that some say may instead be unofficial branches of Kataib Hezbollah, which has brigades within Iraq’s official government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), but which was declared a terrorist organization by the United States in 2009 and has long received support from Iran.”

Turkey

Stars And Stripes: Turkey Still A Major Hub For ISIS Militants, IG Report Says

“Turkey continues to be a regional transit hub for the Islamic State group, even though the NATO ally has recently stepped up efforts to counter attempts to smuggle ISIS fighters and weaponry into war-torn Syria, a new Inspector General’s report says. In a report released Tuesday by the Lead Inspector General for the military’s mission in Syria and Iraq, U.S. European Command called Turkey a “major facilitation hub” for ISIS and said security at the country’s southern borders with Syria and Iraq continues to be a problem. Turkey has been criticized for years by Western allies for failing to stop the flow of foreign fighters into Syria, something critics have said contributed to the initial rise of ISIS in the region. But in recent months, Ankara has dealt more aggressively with ISIS within its borders and inside Syria, EUCOM said in the report. Operations launched by Turkey against ISIS have impacted the group’s ability to smuggle fighters, funds and supplies, EUCOM told the IG. However, the difficulty of securing Turkey’s border with Syria and Iraq will likely ensure that the extremist group will be able to continue moving supplies and fighters from one country to another, the report said.”

Afghanistan

Radio Free Europe: Nearly Dozen Killed In Roadside Bombing In Northern Afghanistan

“An Afghan official says at least 11 people have been killed in a roadside bombing in the country's north. Ahmad Javid Besharat, the spokesman for the police of Baghlan Province, said the bomb struck a vehicle carrying the bodyguards and family members of a former provincial official. Mahbubullah Ghafari, a former member of the provincial council, was unhurt in the blast. Besharat said Ghafari was on his way from the provincial capital, Pul-e Khumri, to the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif when the bomb struck one of his vehicles. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, although similar incidents in the past have been blamed on the Taliban. The Taliban has intensified attacks across the country, particularly in the north, where Afghan forces are more exposed. Last month, Taliban fighters stormed the offices of Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency in the northern province of Samangan, killing 11 security personnel and wounding dozens of others, mostly civilians. The Taliban continues to stage regular attacks across Afghanistan despite signing an initial peace deal with the United States in February.”

Pakistan

Al Jazeera: Dozens Wounded In Grenade Attack At Pro-Kashmir Karachi Rally

“Dozens of people have been wounded after a grenade explosion at a pro-Kashmir march in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, according to local officials. Wednesday's attack in the Gulshan-i-Iqbal area targeted a rally organised by Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), one of Pakistan's major religious parties. The provincial health department said in a statement at least 39 people were wounded, including one person who was in a critical condition. An ethnic Sindhi armed separatist group, the Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement emailed to Al Jazeera. In June, four people were killed including two soldiers in three consecutive explosions claimed by the SRA. The group wants Sindh province, of which Karachi is the capital, to break from the Pakistani federation. It has also announced its alliance with the Balochistan Liberation Army, a rebel group fighting for greater autonomy for the Balochistan region in southwestern Pakistan. Siraj ul Haq, JI chief and a senator, condemned the attack, calling it a “deplorable” act. The JI rally was organised to express solidarity with the people of Indian-administered Kashmir on the first anniversary of India's controversial decision to revoke the state's semi-autonomous status.”

Lebanon

Bloomberg: Hezbollah Will Not Escape Blame For Beirut

“As if the Lebanese haven’t suffered enough. For months, they have been caught between an economic meltdown, crumbling public services and a surging pandemic. Now they must count the dead and survey the extensive damage to their capital after two giant explosions on Tuesday. The blasts, especially the second, were so huge they were reportedly heard and felt in Cyprus. At least 100 people are reported to have been killed — that number will almost certainly rise — and thousands injured. A large expanse of the port and its immediate neighborhood lies in smoking ruin; miles away, streets are full of shattered glass. Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government says the explosions were caused when careless welding ignited about 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly combustible material used as fertilizer and for bomb-making. By comparison, Timothy McVeigh used about 2.4 tons of the same chemical in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The 2015 disaster in the Chinese city of Tianjin was caused by the explosion of 800 tons of ammonium nitrate. The equivalent of 1,100 Oklahoma City-size bombs could indeed account for the devastation and the reddish mushroom cloud that plumed gaudily over the Beirut port.”

Middle East

Fox News: Qatar’s Alleged Finance Of Hezbollah Terrorist Movement Puts US Troops At Risk, Dossier Claims

“Qatar's monarchy allegedly financed weapons deliveries to the global terrorist group Hezbollah, endangering the nearly 10,000 U.S. troops stations in the emirate, according to a damning new dossier viewed by Fox News. The Gulf state’s Al Udeid military base is host to a forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command and to U.S. Air Force squadrons. A private security contractor, Jason G., penetrated Qatar’s weapons procurement business as part of an apparent sting operation. He told Fox News on Tuesday that a “member of the royal family” allegedly authorized the delivery of military hardware to the U.S.- and EU-designated terrorist entity Hezbollah in Lebanon. A dossier provided by Jason G., and verified by Fox News, documents the alleged role played by the Qatari royal family member since as early as 2017 in a sprawling terror finance scheme. The Lebanese Hezbollah organization is an Iranian proxy Shia militia, established by the Teheran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Lebanon in 1982. It remains dependent on Iranian finance and support. It is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Lebanon.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Al-Qaeda Influence Growing In North-West Nigeria, United States Warns

“Al-Qaeda insurgent group is gaining sway in the restive North-Western part of Nigeria, the United States of America has warned. Dagvin Anderson, Commander of the US Special Operations Command, Africa, disclosed this during a briefing, saying the group was also expanding to other parts of West Africa. He said, “We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing. And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements in Borno State and into an emerging area of North-West Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaida starting to make some inroads in. “So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the Government of Nigeria to provide them an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaida are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas. “I think there’s two factors in that. One, it goes to that each government has to focus on this and provide that focus for international partners to engage with. The other part of this is we can’t underestimate the threat these violent extremist organisations pose.”

This Day: Nigeria: Tackling Resurgence Of Militancy, Sea Robbery

“Violent attacks against ships and their crews have risen in 2020, with global figure of 77 seafarers taken hostage or kidnapped for ransom since January. This was disclosed by the ICC International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) latest piracy report. According to the bureau, the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), off West Africa is increasingly dangerous for commercial shipping, accounting for just over 90 per cent of maritime kidnappings worldwide. Meanwhile ship hijackings are at their lowest since 1993. The report released on July 15, 2020, states that so far this year, 49 crew have been kidnapped for ransom in the GoG and held captive on land for up to six weeks. “Rates are accelerating, with 32 crew kidnapped in the past three months alone. And they are happening further out to sea: two-thirds of the vessels were attacked on the high seas from around 20 to 130 nautical miles off the GoG coastline”, it added. With these acts of sea robbery and piracy, the perpetrators, for the former, primarily target vessels in port or at anchorage, ransacking the ships before fleeing, while the other group attacks in waters outside any country's territory or exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Although these attacks in the GoG are concentrated in waters off Nigeria, (Nigeria has reduced Q3 piracy attacks from 41 in 2018 to 29 in 2019), the resurgence is not one taken lightly by the Nigerian Navy (NN).”

Somalia

Shabelle Media Network: Africa: AU Vows To Intensify Fight Against Al-Shabaab

“Ugandan soldiers, operating under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), advanced towards Buurhkaba from their former position in the town of Leego alongside members of the Somali National Army (SNA). The purpose of such an advance is to eventually open up the road from Mogadishu to Baidoa and connect the two citys currently under AMISOM's control. The African Union Mission in Somalia said troops will continue to intensify fight against al-Shabab despite reducing troop numbers early this year and the disruptions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Richard Otto, contingent commander of Sector 1 troops, said the reduction of troop numbers by 1,000 spread across all the five troop-contributing countries had not affected operations in his area of responsibility. “I have troops who were supposed to rotate out but have not because of this situation. Most of the countries have restricted their airspaces and border posts, but this is aimed at protecting and controlling the spread of the (COVID-19) disease from other countries. My troops have been informed and they are aware. It has not affected their morale,” Otto said in a statement issued on Saturday evening.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Victims Of Suspected Boko Haram Attack On Cameroon IDP Camp Need Urgent Help

“The United Nations refugee agency says victims of a suspected Boko Haram terror attack on an IDP camp in Cameroon’s Far North region remain unprotected and in need of urgent help.  At least 18 people were killed and 11 others injured. The camp housing 800 internally displaced people was attacked early Sunday. Militant jihadists reportedly threw a grenade into the compound while people were sleeping. The U.N. refugee agency says it is outraged by this brutal, unprovoked attack and condemns it in the strongest terms.  UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch tells VOA that Nigeria-based terror group Boko Haram is suspected of being behind the attack. “In Cameroon, since early this year, more than 87 attacks have been recorded, which are attributed to Boko Haram.  It has affected millions of people in the region and only in this area of Cameroon, there are more than 320,000 people displaced,” he said. This latest attack near the village of Nguetchewe follows an upsurge of violence in Cameroon’s Far North Region, including looting and kidnapping. Civilians in this area, which covers Chad and north-east Nigeria, have been at the mercy of Boko Haram and other armed groups for years.”

United Kingdom

Evening Standard: Scotland Yard's Counter-Terrorism Chief Warns New Attack On London Is 'Likely' After Lockdown

“Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism chief today urged Londoners to be on the alert for potential extremists as he warned a new attack on the capital is likely as the country emerges from lockdown. Commander Richard Smith said counter-terrorism officers and MI5 are pursuing “800 different leads and investigations” into possible deadly plots and that the public’s help in providing further tip-offs was “vital” in preventing more killings. He added there was a “real threat” that had “not gone away” during the pandemic and that the danger came from both lone jihadis and terrorists radicalised here, as well as others directed or inspired by Islamic State supporters overseas. He said officers were also concerned about the risk of vulnerable people being radicalised online during the coronavirus lockdown, out of sight of teachers, health workers or others who might normally raise the alarm. His comments follow the life sentence handed to 28-year-old Mohiussunnath Chowdhury at Woolwich crown court last month for plotting to attack last year’s Pride event in London and the jailing of Safiyya Shaikh, 37, for her plan to bomb St Paul’s Cathedral and a hotel this Easter.”

Germany

Asharq Al-Awsat: German Extremist Tells Court He Fired Fatal Shot At Politician

“A far-right German extremist on trial for the murder of a regional politician whose death shocked Germany last year has acknowledged in court that he filed the fatal shot. Stephan Ernst made the admission in a statement by his lawyer to the Frankfurt state court on Wednesday, news agency dpa reported. Ernst went on trial in mid-June for the killing of Walter Luebcke, who led the regional administration in the Kassel area of central Germany. Luebcke, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel´s party, was shot on his porch on June 1, 2019, and died later that night, The Associated Press (AP). Ernst, 46, who has previous convictions for violent anti-migrant crimes, is accused of murder, attempted murder, serious bodily harm and firearms offenses. There are no formal pleas in the German legal system. A second man, identified only as Markus H. because of privacy rules, is charged with being an accessory to murder and breaking firearms laws. Prosecutors said Ernst and Markus H. both attended an October 2015 town hall event where Luebcke defended the German government´s decision to allow hundreds of thousands of refugees into the country. A video of Luebcke´s remarks was widely shared in far-right circles, drawing numerous threats.”

Deutsche Welle: What You Need To Know About The NSU – Germany's Right-Wing Terror Group

“One of the most important neo-Nazi trials gripped the country for four years is about to come to an end. This Tuesday the Federal prosecutor demanded a life sentence for Beate Zschäpe, the only surviving member of the NSU terror cell. The far-right terror cell known as the National Socialist Underground (NSU) allegedly murdered 10 people, carried out two bombings and robbed banks in various German states between 2000 and 2007. The NSU consisted mainly of three people - Uwe Böhnhardt, Uwe Mundlos (both dead) and Beate Zschäpe. The trio came from the eastern German city of Jena, where they were active in the right-wing extremist scene. Most of the murder victims had an immigrant background, the only exception being a German policewoman who was gunned down in 2007. The NSU is also said to be responsible for the nail bomb attack that left 22 people injured in a Turkish neighborhood in Cologne in June 2004. Investigators initially attributed the murder attempt to the local Turkish gambling mafia. Years passed before authorities shifted their suspicion to the right-wing terrorists. In the early years of the investigation, family members of the victims faced allegations that their husbands, sons and brothers had been involved in criminal activities, thus making them targets for criminal groups.”

Latin America

U.S. Embassy In Georgia: Maduro Welcomes Terrorist Groups To Venezuela, Says Report

“The Maduro regime encourages international terrorist groups to run free in Venezuela, according to a report by the U.S. Department of State. The 2019 Country Reports on Terrorism, released June 24, documents Colombian and religious terrorist organizations inside of Venezuela that are not only permitted to operate in the country but encouraged to stay by illegitimate leader Nicolás Maduro. “Maduro and his associates use criminal activities to help maintain their illegitimate hold on power, fostering a permissive environment for known terrorist groups,” the report says, “including dissidents of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-D), the Colombian-origin National Liberation Army (ELN), and Hizballah sympathizers.” According to the report, FARC-D and ELN both profit from and run parts of the illegal international drug trade from Venezuela. ELN oversees illegal mining operations and derives money from kidnapping civilians for ransom.”