Eye on Extremism: December 21, 2023

The Washington Post: U.S. Charges Man In 1994 Bombing At Argentina Jewish Center That Killed 85

“Federal prosecutors have indicted an alleged member of the Hezbollah terrorist organization who is accused of helping to orchestrate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina that killed 85 people, officials announced Wednesday. The attack at the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) in Buenos Aires is considered the worst act of terrorism in Argentine history. Samuel Salman El Reda, a 58-year-old dual Colombian Lebanese citizen, allegedly held a key role in the organization, leading terrorist operations over the course of decades, the indictment says. He also allegedly helped recruit and train operatives, deploying them to places including Thailand, Panama and Peru so that they could help plan attacks and stockpile explosives and chemicals such as ammonium nitrate. El Reda remains at large in Lebanon, and the odds of him being captured or turned over to U.S. authorities are low. The indictment was filed in New York. Because the United States has designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization, federal prosecutors have the authority to indict members of the group for certain crimes even if they did not take place in this country.”

The Wall Street Journal: Hamas Rejection Sours Israeli Bid To Revive Hostage Talks

“Hamas rejected an Israeli offer to stop fighting for one week in exchange for dozens of hostages, saying the group wouldn’t discuss releasing their Israeli captives until a cease-fire first goes into effect, Egyptian officials said. The head of Hamas’s political wing, Ismail Haniyeh, told intelligence officials in Cairo on Wednesday that he was there to obtain a cease-fire and more humanitarian aid for Gaza, the Egyptian officials said. Israel had made the offer as Israeli forces stepped up operations in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, believed to be the hiding place of the group’s military leadership. The hostage negotiations were set to include, for the first time, representatives of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second-most powerful Palestinian militant group operating in the Gaza Strip. The group has also said that Israel must implement a cease-fire before negotiations could start—and that Israel must free all of its thousands of Palestinian prisoners in return for the over 100 hostages remaining in Gaza.  Fighters belonging to Islamic Jihad, which like Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., also participated in the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel and took hostages.”

CEP Mentions

WTOP News: The Hunt: Terror Concerns Grow In The US And Europe

“On this episode of “The Hunt with WTOP national security correspondent J.J. Green,” senior director at the Counter Extremism Project Hans-Jakob Schindler says the discovery of two terror cells revealed what authorities believe was a chilling plot.”


Associated Press: Turkey Says Its Warplanes Have Hit Suspected Kurdish Militant Targets In Northern Iraq

“Turkish warplanes carried out new airstrikes Wednesday against Kurdish militant targets in neighboring Iraq, the Turkish defense ministry said, a day after Turkish and Iraqi officials held high-level security talks in Ankara. Turkey often launches strikes against targets in Syria and Iraq that it believes to be affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a banned Kurdish separatist group that has waged an insurgency against Turkey since the 1980s. According to a statement from the ministry, the fighter jets struck a total of 14 suspected PKK targets in northern Iraq’s Gara, Hakourk and Qandil regions where the aircraft destroyed caves, shelters and warehouses used by the militants. Measures were taken to avoid harming civilians, historic or cultural heritage and the environment, the ministry added. There was no immediate comment from the PKK, the government in Baghdad or the administration in the semiautonomous northern Kurdish region in Iraq. Ankara maintains that PKK has sanctuaries in northern Iraq, where its leadership is also purportedly based.”


Voice Of America: UN Calls For More, Direct Engagement With Taliban

“A top United Nations official has called for more frequent and direct engagements with de facto Taliban authorities both inside and outside Afghanistan to address the country’s challenging relations with the international community. Addressing members of the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, Roza Otunbayeva, the secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, said engagement does not equate to legitimizing Taliban rule. “It can be used to express disapproval yet encourage change,” said Otunbayeva, adding that the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has had “successful interactions” with Taliban authorities on several issues, including counternarcotics and human rights. Otunbayeva's plea for increased engagement comes just days after a U.N. credentialing committee rejected for a third consecutive year the Taliban's attempt to secure Afghanistan's U.N. seat. Despite having governed Afghanistan for over two years, the Taliban regime remains unrecognized by any country, and several of its key leaders, including the foreign minister, are subject to travel sanctions.”

Associated Press: UN Is Seeking To Verify That Afghanistan’s Taliban Are Letting Girls Study At Religious Schools

“The United Nations is seeking to verify reports that Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers are allowing girls of all ages to study at Islamic religious schools that are traditionally boys-only, the U.N.’s top official in the country said Wednesday. U.N. special envoy Roza Otunbayeva told the U.N. Security Council and elaborated to reporters afterward that the United Nations is receiving “more and more anecdotal evidence” that girls can study at the schools, known as madrassas. “It is not entirely clear, however, what constitutes a madrassa, if there is a standardized curriculum that allows modern education subjects, and how many girls are able to study in madrassas,” she said. The Taliban have been globally condemned for banning girls and women from secondary school and university, and allowing girls to study only through the sixth grade. Taliban education authorities “continue to tell us that they are working on creating conditions to allow girls to return to school. But time is passing while a generation of girls is falling behind,” Otunbayeva said.”


Reuters: Houthi Leader Threatens To Attack US Warships If Washington Targets Yemen

“The leader of Yemen's Houthis warned on Wednesday they would strike U.S. warships if the Iranian-backed militia was targeted by Washington, which this week set up a multinational force to counter Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The Houthis, which control vast amounts of territory in Yemen after years of war, have since last month fired drones and missiles at international vessels sailing through the Red Sea, attacks it says respond to Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip. The U.S.-led security initiative will see Washington and ten other, mostly NATO countries patrol the Red Sea to deter and respond to future Houthi attacks that have so far led to major global shipping lines rerouting around Africa instead. "We will not stand idly by if the Americans are tempted to escalate further and commit foolishness by targeting our country or waging war against it," Abdel-Malek al-Houthi said. "Any American targeting of our country will be targeted by us, and we will make American battleships, interests, and navigation a target for our missiles, drones, and military operations," he said in a televised speech.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Israel’s Top Diplomat Wants To Fast-Track Humanitarian Aid To Gaza Via Maritime Corridor From Cyprus

“Israel wants to fast-track the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza through a maritime corridor from Cyprus, bolstering stability in the region, the country’s foreign minister said Wednesday. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Israeli and Cypriot technical teams would spend Wednesday and Thursday hammering out the details of the initiative so that aid shipments from Cyprus’ port of Larnaca, some 240 miles (385 kilometers) from Gaza, can begin as soon as possible. “Cyprus and Israel, together with other partners in the region are promoting the initiative for a secure maritime corridor to facilitate the transfer of humanitarian assistance to Gaza in an organized and well inspected manner,” Cohen said after talks with his Cypriot counterpart Constantinos Kombos. Cohen was briefed on the initiative’s details during a visit to the Zenon Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Larnaca, which will act as the operational center for the aid shipments. He also personally inspected storage facilities and security arrangements at Larnaca port.”

The Wall Street Journal: Gazans Are Starting To Blame Hamas For Wartime Suffering

“When news of the Oct. 7 attacks on southern Israel by Hamas militants reached Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, many took to the streets in celebration, distributing sweets and cheering fighters as they paraded hostages through the enclave. Since then, however, quiet criticism has begun spreading against the militant group, with Gazans blaming the militants for having provoked Israel’s wrath and for their inability to shield the population from a devastating war and a humanitarian crisis that deepens by the day. “People are dying every minute,” said a 56-year-old businessman from Gaza. “Hamas is the one that dragged us into this terrible vortex.” Nearly 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, Palestinian health officials said. A majority of the fatalities in Gaza are women and children, they say. The figures don’t distinguish between civilians and combatants. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians blame Israel for the death, destruction and dislocation caused by the war. Yet many Gazans say that Hamas is also responsible for the suffering, and that those voices are getting louder.”


Reuters: Egypt Seeks To Broker Gaza Ceasefire As Hamas, Israel Assert Demands

“The U.S. said "very serious" negotiations were taking place on a new Gaza ceasefire and release of more Israeli hostages, but prospects for a deal remained uncertain as Hamas insisted it would not discuss anything less than a complete end to Israel's offensive in the Palestinian enclave. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Egypt on Wednesday for the first time in more than a month for discussions with Egyptian officials who are seeking to mediate another truce. A source briefed on the negotiations said envoys were intensively discussing which of the hostages still held by Palestinian Islamist militants in Gaza could be freed in a new truce and which Palestinian prisoners Israel might release in return. Islamic Jihad, a smaller Palestinian militant group that is also holding hostages in Gaza, said its leader would visit Egypt in coming days as well to discuss a possible end to the Conflict. "These are very serious discussions and negotiations, and we hope that they lead somewhere," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

We reiterate once again that the brigades will directly target US bases across the region in case the US enemy commits a folly and decides to strike our resistance fighters and their camps [in Iraq].

Abu Ali al-Askari, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) Security Official Mar. 2023
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