Eye on Extremism: December 27, 2023

The National: Warning Of 'Increased Risk' Of ISIS Terror Attacks Across Europe On New Year's Eve

“... “These arrests demonstrate once again that ISIS remains a serious threat to the West,” Counter Extremism Project chief executive Ambassador Mark Wallace said. “ISIS is not only trying to take advantage of Hamas’s war against Israel to motivate its supporters and sympathisers but is also attempting to organise terror attacks in Europe to demonstrate its continued relevance within the terrorist milieu. “Authorities must continue to increase their co-operation to ensure the futility of these efforts.” Austria on Sunday said three people were detained for suspected involvement in an “Islamist network”. However, the interior minister said there was “no immediate threat” of an attack in Vienna. “Terrorist actors across Europe are calling for attacks on Christian events,” Vienna police said. One person has been arrested in Germany and the country's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has pledged a firm response to any extremist threat. “We all love our Christmas traditions and won't allow ourselves to be intimidated or have our way of life hemmed in,” she said. “Our security authorities have their sights on the Islamist scene and are acting decisively as the current measures show.””

Associated Press: Kuwaiti And Saudi Hunters Killed By A Leftover Islamic State Group Explosive In Iraq, Officials Say

“The bodies of a Kuwaiti citizen and a Saudi with Kuwaiti residency who had disappeared in Iraq were found Tuesday, Kuwait’s minister of foreign affairs said in a statement. Iraqi security officials said the men, who had reportedly come to Iraq on a hunting trip, were killed by an explosive left behind by the Islamic State group. Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Salem Abdullah al-Sabah said the two men had “recently disappeared” in Iraq’s Anbar province. He said that hisministry had “followed up around the clock with Iraqi authorities, who made great efforts to find them as quickly as possible.” The statement didn’t elaborate on the circumstances of the men’s disappearance or death, but said that Kuwaiti and Iraqi authorities were coordinating in the investigation. Iraq’s security media office said in a statement that Saudi citizen Anwar al-Dhafiri and Kuwaiti citizen Faisal al-Mutairi, who had entered Iraq on tourist visas and didn’t have hunting permits, were in a remote desert area when their vehicle set off an old explosive device left behind by IS and caught fire.”

United States

CBS: NYPD Preparing For Israel-Hamas War Protesters To Attempt To Disrupt New Year's Eve In Times Square, Mayor Adams Says

“Mayor Eric Adams spoke Tuesday about increased security for the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square. The mayor said there have been nearly 500 protests in New York City since the Israel-Hamas war began and City Hall is bracing for at least one more before the year is out. Combine that with thousands of tourists gathering in Times Square to watch the ball drop and the NYPD will have a big challenge on its hands. With "2024" now nestled on its perch in the Crossroads of the World, police are counting down to New Year's Eve. "It's a real Herculean task to manage that number of people without being heavy handed but being protective," Adams said. The mayor said he is bracing for the possibility of protests on New Year's Eve, especially considering that pro-Palestinian demonstrators interrupted the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and attempted to interrupt the Rockefeller Center tree lighting in the wake of Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7. "And we're sure there's gonna be some type of attempt this year," Adams said. He said the NYPD will rely on different forms of technology to patrol the crowds. But even before the regular protests began, last year in Times Square three police officers were attacked by a machete-wielding tourist on New Year's Eve. That suspect has since been charged with attempted murder.”

Washington Examiner: Waltz Says Biden Must Focus On Iran Or 'Terrorism Is Going To Come Back'

“Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL) warned that "terrorism is going to come back" if President Joe Biden doesn't focus on Iran. Waltz expanded on congressional Republicans' allegations that Biden has been weak on foreign policy, particularly regarding the war in Gaza. The Florida Republican suggested that Biden could enable a resurgence in terrorism if he didn't change course. “The biggest thing the administration could do to help Israel is do a 180 [degree] reverse course on its Iran policy, go back to maximum pressure, and dry up their coffers that are fueling terrorism across the region,” Waltz said in an appearance on Fox News. “Israel is just going to be mowing the grass in Gaza,” he continued, referring to a controversial metaphor often used by Israeli officials to describe armed operations in Gaza. “It’s going to grow back. Terrorism is going to come back as long as Iran is flush with cash.” Iran-linked militias have attacked U.S. forces on numerous occasions since the beginning of the war, striking American bases in Iraq and Syria. The United States has responded with retaliatory strikes, recently hitting a group of Kataib Hezbollah militants in Iraq.”

Middle East

New York Times: Skepticism Grows Over Israel’s Ability To Dismantle Hamas

“Standing before a gray backdrop decorated with Hamas logos and emblems of a gunman that commemorate the bloody Oct. 7 attack on Israel, Osama Hamdan, the organization’s representative in Lebanon, professed no concern about his Palestinian faction being dislodged from Gaza. “We are not worried about the future of the Gaza Strip,” he recently told a crowded news conference in his offices in Beirut’s southern suburbs. “The decision maker is the Palestinian people alone.” Mr. Hamdan thus dismissed one of Israel’s key objectives since the beginning of its assault on Gaza: to dismantle the Islamist political and military organization that was behind the massacre of about 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials, and which still holds more than 100 hostages. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has repeatedly emphasized that objective even while facing mounting international pressure to scale back military operations. The Biden administration has dispatched senior envoys to Israel to push for a new phase of the war focused on more targeted operations rather than sweeping destruction.”

New York Times: Israel Will Not Soon End Its War With Hamas, Officials Say

“Israel insisted on Tuesday that its war in Gaza would not end soon and pledged to complete its mission of dismantling Hamas no matter how long it took, despite widespread international calls for a cease-fire. Israeli forces were “striking continuously” in the Gaza Strip, said Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the military’s chief of staff. The fighting, he added, would continue “whether it takes a week or months.” “We are very, very determined,” General Halevi said in a televised statement filmed along the Gaza border. “Everywhere our forces operate, they are accompanied by heavy fire from the air, sea and land.” His comments came after a defiant statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who visited the front line on Monday, and they preceded a meeting on Tuesday in Washington between a close adviser of the prime minister and members of the Biden administration. The adviser, Ron Dermer, Israel’s minister of strategic affairs and a member of Mr. Netanyahu’s war cabinet, was scheduled to meet Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and President Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, on Tuesday afternoon.”

Associated Press: Israeli Military Says Gaza Ground Offensive Has Expanded Into Urban Refugee Camps

“Israeli forces on Tuesday expanded their ground offensive into urban refugee camps in central Gaza after bombarding the crowded Palestinian communities and ordering residents to evacuate. Gaza’s main telecom provider announced another “complete interruption” of services in the besieged territory. The military’s announcement of the new battle zone threatens further destruction in a war that Israel says will last for “many months” as it vows to crush the ruling Hamas militant group after its Oct. 7 attack. Israeli forces have been engaged in heavy urban fighting in northern Gaza and the southern city of Khan Younis, driving Palestinians into ever-smaller areas in search of refuge. The U.S. said Israel’s minister for strategic affairs, Ron Dermer, was meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan to discuss topics including transitioning to a different phase of the war to maximize focus on high-value Hamas targets, improving the humanitarian situation, and planning for governance and security in Gaza after the war. Despite U.S. calls for Israel to curb civilian casualties and international pressure for a cease-fire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military was deepening the fighting. “We say to the Hamas terrorists: We see you and we will get to you,” Netanyahu said.”

Bloomberg: How The Israel-Hamas War Sparks Wider Violence In The Middle East

“In the war between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, each side’s most powerful ally has aligned behind it. To support Israel, the US moved additional warships, aircraft and troops into the Middle East and expedited shipments of munitions. Iran, which backs Hamas, has said that Israel’s military operation against the group would be answered by the anti-Israeli and anti-Western groups it supports — the so-called axis of resistance. Already, the war between Israel and Hamas, considered a terrorist group by the US and European Union, has stoked violence in other parts of the Middle East and raised concerns of a wider conflagration. These are some areas of concern: After Hamas militants massacred 1,200 people in Israel on Oct. 7 and set off the war, the Lebanese militia Hezbollah began launching missile, mortar and rocket strikes on northern Israel in solidarity with Hamas. Cross-border fire between Israel and Hezbollah — which is influenced heavily by Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — has become a daily occurrence, threatening to open a second front of the war. Both Hamas and Hezbollah receive funding, weapons and training from Iran. Hezbollah has a bigger, more professional fighting force than Hamas and, Israeli authorities estimate, almost 10 times the number of missiles. Israel and Hezbollah have fought repeated battles, including a war in 2006.”


Reuters: What Is Egypt's Proposal For Gaza?

“Egypt has held talks between Hamas and its allied Islamic Jihad to try and broker a permanent ceasefire in Israel's war in the Gaza Strip, which has killed tens of thousands, laid waste to the Hamas-governed territory, and displaced the majority of the 2.3 million Palestinian residents. Here are the various proposals Egypt is presenting: Egypt is proposing that Hamas and Islamic Jihad relinquish power in the Gaza Strip in return for a permanent ceasefire, said two Egyptian security sources. Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials have rejected such a proposal, the Egyptian sources said. Officials of the two groups denied publicly what the sources said. Leaders of the two groups have repeatedly insisted a post-Gaza war future should be decided by the Palestinians themselves and not according to foreign dictation. Israel has demanded the destruction of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, with aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying this would entail the dismantling of all of their military and governance capabilities and a deradicalising of the Gaza population. It was not immediate clear if the proposed removal of the militant groups from power would satisfy those demands. Egypt is suggesting a multi-stage ceasefire, with an initial temporary ceasefire lasting for a period of one or two weeks, said two Egyptian security sources.”


The Telegraph: Nigeria Massacres See At Least 160 People Killed Across Tens Of Villages

“Armed groups have killed at least 160 people in central Nigeria in a series of attacks on villages, local government officials said on Monday. The attacks took place in Plateau state, a region plagued for several years by religious and ethnic tensions. “As I am talking to you, in Mangu local government alone, we buried 15 people. As of this morning, in Bokkos, we are counting not less than 100 corpses. I am yet to take stock of [the deaths in] Barkin Ladi,” Governer Caleb Mutfwang said. “It has been a very terrifying Christmas for us here in Plateau.”


Reuters: Uganda Says Islamic State-Allied Rebels Kill Three In Village Attack

“Militants from an Islamic State-allied rebel group killed three people in an attack on a village in western Uganda, a military spokesman said on Tuesday. The assailants from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked the village in Kamwenge district late on Monday, killing a 75-year-old woman and her two grandchildren before burning the bodies, Felix Kulayigye, the military spokesman said in an audio statement sent to journalists. The ADF was originally an anti-Kampala rebel group that fought the government of President Yoweri Museveni from its bases in the Rwenzori mountains. After it was routed by the military in the late 1990s, the remnants fled across the border into the jungles of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where they established new bases. From there they have continued to carry out attacks both in Uganda and Congo against military and civilian targets, including one in June that left dozens of students dead and another that killed a tourist couple and their guide in October. Kulayigye said the Ugandan military would hunt down those responsible for the latest killings.”

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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