Eye on Extremism: December 21, 2022

NBC: Taliban Release 2 Americans Who Were Detained In Afghanistan

“The Taliban on Tuesday released two Americans who had been detained in Afghanistan, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. The releases were announced as the United Nations Security Council was meeting about Afghanistan. The move was a goodwill gesture — not part of a prisoner swap, he said. “We are providing these two U.S. nationals with all appropriate assistance,” Price said. The U.S. citizens, who have not been publicly identified, were flown from Kabul to Doha, Qatar, a senior State Department official said, and the Qatari government was helpful in securing their release. A senior administration official said: “We are glad these U.S. nationals will reunite with their families soon. Out of respect for the privacy of these individuals and their families, we are not going to confirm names.” The release came the same day the Taliban banned women from private and public universities in Afghanistan. "The irony of them granting us a goodwill gesture on a day where they undertake a gesture like this to the Afghan people, it’s not lost on us, but it is a question for the Taliban themselves regarding the timing of this" Price said. The U.S. "condemns in strongest terms the Taliban's indefensible decision to ban women from universities, girls from secondary schools," Price said.”

The New York Times: U.S. Commandos Capture Six ISIS Officials In Raids In Syria

“For the second time in just over a week, U.S. Special Operations forces carried out helicopter raids against the Islamic State in eastern Syria, capturing six operatives including a senior official who the military said was involved in plotting and enabling terrorist attacks. The Pentagon’s Central Command, which oversees U.S. troops in Syria, said in a statement on Tuesday that the main target of three predawn raids over the past 48 hours was a senior Islamic State Syria provincial official known as al-Zubaydi. On Dec. 11, helicopter-borne American commandos swooped in on another ISIS official, known as Anas, killing him and an associate in a nearly three-hour gun battle in eastern Syria, the military said. In this week’s assault, personnel from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., the American counterterrorism partner in northeastern Syria, accompanied the U.S. troops, the military said.” These partnered operations reaffirm Centcom’s steadfast commitment to the region and the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Gen. Michael E. Kurilla, the head of the command, said in a statement. “The capture of these ISIS operatives will disrupt the terrorist organization’s ability to further plot and carry out destabilizing attacks.” Defense Bill: Congress passed a $858 billion defense bill that would rescind the coronavirus vaccine mandate for troops and increase the defense budget $45 billion over President Biden’s request. Abortion: The Pentagon is seeking to reassure service members worried about having access to abortions in states where the procedure is banned with travel funds and other support.”

United States

New York Daily News: Wannabe Queens Terrorist Denounces ISIS, Gets 12 Years Behind Bars

“A Queens man who tried to sneak into Syria to join ISIS was sentenced to more than 12 years behind bars, after he denounced the terrorist group in front of a federal judge Tuesday. Parveg Ahmed, 27, talked up the prospect of holy war online since at least 2014, and in 2017, he used the cover of a family trip to Saudi Arabia to travel to Syria and join up. He and a co-conspirator, who prosecutors said he roped into his plan, were detained in Jordan and brought back to the U.S. to face terrorism charges. “I just wanted to state out loud and in public how sorry I am for this crime,” Ahmed told Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Ann Donnelly. “Today I renounce ISIS and all forms of violent extremism.” Donnelly sentenced Ahmed to 12 years and nine months behind bars, followed by 15 years supervised release. He has already spent five and a half years behind bars, with most of that time in the Metropolitan Detention Center. His lawyer, Michael Schneider, said Ahmed suffered from depression and the belief that he was a failure in his teenage years, after struggling at Stuyvesant High School surrounded by students he thought were smarter than him. From there, Ahmed was lured in by the terror group’s “sophisticated” propaganda videos, his lawyer said. “He was the exact target of that propaganda and he fell for it.” But the sight of real, up-close violence at MDC “was stomach-churning for him,” Schneider said.”


The National: Iraq In Grip Of ISIS Violence As 17 Die Over Two Days

“Iraq was gripped by a rare spike in ISIS violence on Tuesday after eight people were killed in Diyala province in the east of the country. On Monday, nine Iraqi policemen were killed in a bombing in Kirkuk governorate in another attack claimed by the group. During the Diyala attack, villagers tried to confront a group of ISIS fighters on motorbikes in a village in the governorate's Khalis district, but were quickly overpowered, the Iraqi News Agency reported. Uday Al Khadran, an official in the town of Al Khalis where the attack took place, said “dozens” of residents had confronted the group, some of them without weapons. He said a security operation was continuing to capture the terrorists. An interior ministry official, who asked not to be identified, blamed ISIS for the attack and recalled that villagers had formed a paramilitary group to defend their land against the terrorists in 2014. The defence ministry said it had sent a high-ranking delegation to Diyala province “to throw light on the circumstance of the criminal action”. Analysts say remnants of ISIS are hiding in remote villages, moving through wadis and rough desert terrain to conduct opportunistic attacks. The presence of Iran-backed militias in Diyala has also raised tensions, in a province that is a patchwork of religious and ethnic groups, said by some to be a “mini-Iraq.”

The National: UN Expects More ISIS Convictions For Yazidi Genocide Next Year

“The UN is expecting more convictions against ISIS fighters who committed atrocities against the Yazidi people next year after gathering millions of pieces of battlefield evidence. It comes as the UN’s Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by ISIS (Unitad) is due to open another mass grave believed to contain 500 missing Yazidi men murdered by the terrorist group. In a webinar Options for Survivor-centred Justice in Iraq on Monday, Unitad said it expected more prosecutions and convictions of ISIS next year as it was preparing more files. It has now identified 2,181 ISIS members linked to crimes against the Yazidis, including 156 foreign fighters. Using more than two million pieces of data from mobile phones, investigators have been able to place the ISIS members at the scenes of the atrocities. Joern Oliver Eiermann, a legal adviser to Unitad, said the group was gathering battlefield evidence and collecting witness statements. “We are supporting 17 different EU member states and we are hoping to see more judgments and verdicts next year,” he said. “But in order to prosecute international crimes in Iraq there needs to be legislation and that legislation doesn't exist. The survivors want to see perpetrators in court.” Human rights lawyer Bojan Govrilovic is calling for Iraq to adopt legislation to allow ISIS prosecutions to take place there.”

Reuters: Gunmen Kill At Least Eight People In Iraqi Town Of Khalis North Of Baghdad

“Gunmen shot dead at least eight civilians and wounded seven in Iraq’s northern Diyala province on Monday, police and medical sources said. The attacks took place on the village of Albu Bali in the town of Khalis, about 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, police said. Villagers used their private vehicles to rush the wounded to the hospital of Khalis and medical crew members said the seven bodies had bullet wounds. They added that the death toll might rise as some of the wounded are in critical condition. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but police in Khalis accused militants from Islamic State of carrying out the attack. The attack comes a day after a roadside bomb killed at least nine federal policemen near the northern oil city of Kirkuk on Sunday. Responsibility for that attack was claimed by Islamic State militants.”


Associated Press: Afghan Women Weep As Taliban Fighters Enforce University Ban

“Taliban security forces in the Afghan capital on Wednesday enforced a higher education ban for women by blocking their access to universities, with video obtained by The Associated Press showing women weeping and consoling each other outside one campus in Kabul. The country’s Taliban rulers a day earlier ordered women nationwide to stop attending private and public universities effective immediately and until further notice. The Taliban-led administration has not given a reason for the ban or reacted to the fierce and swift global condemnation of it. Journalists saw Taliban forces outside four Kabul universities Wednesday. The forces stopped some women from entering, while allowing others to go in and finish their work. They also tried to prevent any photography, filming and protests from taking place. Rahimullah Nadeem, a spokesman for Kabul University, confirmed that classes for female students had stopped. He said some women were allowed to enter the campus for paperwork and administrative reasons, and that four graduation ceremonies were held Wednesday.”


Voice Of America: Afghanistan-Based Fugitive Militant Chief Admits Directing Terrorism In Pakistan

“The leader of an outlawed militant alliance waging terrorism in Pakistan praised his fighters Tuesday for taking several security officials hostage inside a provincial police counterterrorism interrogation center and urged them not to surrender, come what may. Noor Wali Mehsud, the chief of the Pakistani Taliban or TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan), issued the statement from his shelter in Afghanistan, raising renewed doubts about the sincerity of counterterrorism pledges by the neighboring country’s Islamist Taliban leadership. “I congratulate you for carrying out this sacred act. I instruct you not to surrender to these infidels and apostates under any circumstances,” Mehsud said. The TTP released the local Pashto language audio message just hours before Pakistani army commandos launched an operation and rescued the hostages from the compound in the northwestern garrison city of Bannu. Defense Minister Khawaja Asif, while sharing details with an evening session of parliament in Islamabad, said the counterterrorism center had housed “33 terrorists” when the siege started in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The Pakistan army’s elite Special Service Group (SSG) conducted the operation and killed “all the terrorists,” Asif said. He added that two SSG personnel were also killed, while up to 15 others were wounded in the clashes.”

Reuters: 25 Militants Killed In Pakistan Army Raid On Detention Centre; One Hostage Dies

“Pakistan's security forces killed 25 of 35 Islamist militants holed up in a counter-terrorism centre in the northwestern city of Bannu, while one hostage and two commandos died in the operation to retake the compound, the army said. Militants being held at the centre took control of the compound on Sunday after overpowering their interrogators and taking their weapons, leading to a two day siege and ultimately army commandoes storming the compound on Tuesday. "Resurgence in terrorism poses a renewed threat to our national security," Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a tweet, adding, "Our valiant security forces are fully capable of dealing with this threat." Army spokesman Major General Ahmed Sharif speaking to local TV channel Geo News late on Tuesday said seven of the 35 holed up militants surrendered, and another three who tried to escape were arrested. One hostage, a security official, died during the raid, he said.”


Voice Of America: As Lebanon Collapses, Islamic State Recruiters Prey On Youth

“As Lebanon’s economy collapses, young men from the country’s impoverished north are joining the Islamic State group in growing numbers. As Nicole Di Ilio reports from Tripoli, it's not just poverty or the extreme ideology driving them into the hands of the militants.”


Reuters: Gunmen Kill 38 Villagers In Northern Nigeria's Kaduna State

“Gunmen killed at least 38 villagers in northwestern Nigeria's Kaduna state, residents and a local community group said on Tuesday, a region chronically marred by armed violence. During the attack, which started late on Sunday night and continued into the early hours of Monday morning, armed men shot people and burned at least 100 houses, said Luka Binniyat, spokesperson for the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SKPU). Resident Jasen Joseph said the attackers had killed some people with machetes. “I lost many friends, uncles, parents and mentors in this place,” he told Reuters. “If you go down there, the two streets, you will see corpses everywhere.” Binniyat said 12 survivors from the attacks in the Kaura local government area were receiving hospital treatment. Gangs of armed men have attacked hundreds of local communities across northwestern Nigeria in recent years, while Islamist militants continue to stage attacks in the northeast. Binniyat said 46 people in all had been killed in unprovoked attacks in southern Kaduna in the five days to Monday, and that volunteers were searching for missing persons. Villagers had seen “strange herdsmen” setting up camp near the area in the days before the attacks began. “Thousands of residents of these two sacked communities and surrounding villages are leaving their homes in droves as (internally displaced people) for any area they may find some measure of safety,” Binniyat said in a statement on Monday.”

All Africa: Nigeria: Police Eliminate 12 Suspected Terrorists In Bauchi

“The police said the bandits/kidnappers belong to a syndicate of criminals terrorising adjoining communities in Bauchi, Taraba, Gombe, and Plateau State. The Police have killed about 12 persons allegedly terrorising residents of communities around the newly discovered oil field in the Alkaleri Local Government of Bauchi State. Among those killed was a terror leader, Madaki Mansur. PREMIUM TIMES reported how at least 10 persons were recently killed by suspected terrorists in the area. Also, residents are reportedly kidnapped daily prompting many of them to flee their villages to safety. The police spokesperson in the state, Mohammed Wakil, in a statement, on Monday, said the 12 terrorists killed belong to syndicates of criminals terrorising adjoining communities in Bauchi, Taraba, Gombe, and Plateau State. “In our combined efforts to stem the menace of banditry in Bauchi State, especially in Alkaleri L.G.A., the command was at its best recently. “On the 19th December 2022 at about 11:00 p.m the Joint Operation of security operatives engaged suspected bandits/kidnappers in four different hideouts; at Mansur, Digare, Gwana and Dajin Madam in Alkaleri forest.”


All Africa: Somalia: Somali Military Fends Off Al-Shabaab Attack

“Somali troops have repulsed an overnight attack by Al-Shabaab militants in Qoryoley District in Lower Shabelle region. The attack sparked heavy gunfight that ensued between the SNA and the Al-Shabaab combatants, according to the residents. The two sides suffered losses but the number of the fatalities remained murky. Al-Shabaab was pushed back after AU troops joined the fighting and used artillery fire and tank shelling. Qoryoley lies about 120 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, the Somali capital.”

United Kingdom

The Jerusalem Post: Iran’s Terror Militia Vandalizes British Embassy

“Members of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s paramilitary organization Basij on Monday sprayed slogans on the British embassy in Tehran in the second act of vandalism since Friday. According to a report in The Telegraph, the “pro-regime group daubed the slogans seemingly in response to UK support for ongoing anti-government protests.” The Basij members wrote on the walls of the UK embassy the slogans “den of spies” and “terrorist center.” In response to the clerical regime’s massive crackdown on protests since mid-September, Iranian Americans and German Iranians have told The Jerusalem Post that Western countries should recall their ambassadors from Iran and expel Iranian ambassadors. The morality police of the theocratic state allegedly caused the death via torture of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September because she was not in compliance with the strict covering of her hair with the forced hijab. As a result, the protest wave against her death and the existence of the  Islamic Republic is entering its fourth month. The Basij attacked the British embassy in 2011. Basij members and other pro-Iran regime Iranians entered the compound and burned the flag of the United Kingdom at the time. Iran’s opaque judiciary did not prosecute the Basij members and the others who stormed the embassy in 2011 and ransacked offices and stole documents.”


Associated Press: Synagogue Attacker Moved To New Prison After Taking Hostages

“A far-right extremist who killed two people in the German city of Halle three years ago after attempting to attack a synagogue has been moved to a new prison hundreds of kilometers (miles) away following an apparent jailbreak attempt. Stephan Balliet, 30, was taken to the Augsburg-Gablingen prison in Bavaria under heavy guard early Tuesday. Balliet took two guards hostage Dec. 13 at the Burg high-security prison near the eastern city of Magdeburg. Other guards overwhelmed him within an hour, authorities said. He was injured in the incident, while the hostages were freed unharmed. State security officials in Saxony-Anhalt, where the Burg facility is located, said that based on what Balliet could be heard saying on surveillance footage, they assumed he was trying to escape from the prison. Armed with multiple firearms and explosives, Balliet had attacked the synagogue in Halle on Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day, in 2019. After failing to break down the synagogue door, he killed a passer-by and a man inside a nearby fast-food restaurant. The antisemitic attack that Balliet broadcast live on the internet caused shock in Germany, which has sought to make amends for the Holocaust and to protect Jews who returned to the country after World War II. Balliet tried to escape from another prison while still on trial. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2020. Germany’s top security official called on the country’s prison operators to review their security measures after last week's hostage-taking.”


Reuters: Swiss Accuse Man Of Running Media Agency For Islamic State And Al Qaeda

“Federal prosecutors in Switzerland have accused a man of running a “media agency” to promote al Qaeda and Islamic State via social media and raising money to help escape attempts by supporters of the extremist groups. The 26-year-old man, who lived in the northern canton of Schaffhausen, is also accused of encouraging another person to go to the Middle East to join the organisations, which are banned in Switzerland. The Turkish citizen, who has not been named, has been indicted following an investigation launched in October 2019, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said on Tuesday. “The OAG accuses the suspect of having encouraged a person who was a minor at the time of the crime to approve of the ideology of the Islamic State (IS) and of having furthered this person's decision to travel to territory held by the IS and to join the IS there,” the OAG said in a statement This person, who lived in Austria, was arrested by the Austrian authorities shortly before his planned departure for Syria, the OAG said. The suspect was also accused of operating his own 'media agency' translating and spreading propaganda from IS and Al-Qaeda. He had also saved numerous files with videos and pictures showing banned representations of acts of violence and had sent one such image to another person, the OAG said. The OAG also accuses the suspect of providing material support to IS by collecting money via a donation platform.”

AFP: Denmark Jails ISIS Sympathizer For 16 Years

“A Danish court on Tuesday sentenced an ISIS sympathizer to 16 years in prison for plotting a bomb attack in the Scandinavian country. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. It is the longest sentence imposed to date for crimes of terrorism in Denmark, life in prison being the maximum allowed under the law. Syrian-born Ali al-Masry, 35, was found guilty of an “attempted terrorist act” by a court in Holbaek, a suburb of Copenhagen, and of financing and promoting “terrorist activities.” He was arrested in February 2021 together with his Syrian brother and Iraqi-born Danish wife in a joint Danish-German operation. “We are convinced that with these arrests we prevented an attack from being carried out,” said prosecutors John Catre Nielsen and Kirsten Jensen in a joint statement. Masry pleaded not guilty, maintaining that 12 kilos (26 pounds) of powder and chemicals found in his flat had been intended for a firework display. He now faces deportation after serving his prison sentence in Denmark. His wife, 31, and 37-year-old brother were found guilty of financially supporting Masry and jailed for nine and six months respectively. His brother will also be deported after serving his sentence.”

The Jerusalem Post: Ukraine's Azov Regiment Visits Israel: 'Mariupol Is Our Masada'

“…In April, Rabbi Yaakov Bleich, a chief rabbi of Ukraine, told Politico that he doesn't “buy into” Russia's claims about the Azov regiment, stating “If it was not for the Russian propaganda, I would not even know the neo-Nazis in the Azov group exist, they are such a minority of a minority. We should keep our eyes open, of course, but having said that, when ultra-nationalist right-wing parties run for parliament in Ukraine, they can’t even get a seat.” Alexander Ritzmann, a researcher at the German Counter Extremism Project, noted in an article on the Euronews site that many reports about the Azov Regiment suffer from a “complete lack of nuance” as the regiment is separate from the far-right Azov Movement. “If it was not for the Russian propaganda, I would not even know the neo-Nazis in the Azov group exist, they are such a minority of a minority.” “While the Azov regiment most likely has an above-average number of ultra-nationalists and far-right extremists within its ranks, there is no data available proving the popular claim that all or even a majority of its soldiers are neo-Nazis,” explained Ritzmann. “The extremist leadership mostly left the regiment in 2015 and started the above-mentioned Azov movement, which consists of a political party (National Corps) and a network of other smaller (militia) groups, youth clubs, and paramilitary training centers.”

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Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

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We must use our privilege as humans to fight back against the system that keeps animals oppressed... They can’t wait. The earth can’t wait. Get off your ass and FIGHT.

Animal Liberation Front (ALF), ALF statement Jul. 23, 2019
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