Eye on Extremism: December 28, 2023

Associated Press: Pro-Palestinian Protesters Block Airport Access Roads In New York And Los Angeles

“Pro-Palestinian protesters briefly blocked entrance roads to airports in New York and Los Angeles on Wednesday, snarling traffic as U.S. airlines contended with a rush of holiday travel. The demonstrations stopped cars on the outskirts of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, where some travelers set off on foot to bypass the jammed roadway, as well as Los Angeles International Airport. A total of 62 people were arrested during the two protests, police said. In New York, activists locked arms and held banners demanding an end to the Israel-Hamas war and expanded rights for Palestinians, bringing traffic to a standstill on the Van Wyck Expressway leading up to the airport for about 20 minutes. Video posted to social media showed passengers, some carrying suitcases, leaving vehicles behind and stepping over barriers onto the highway median. Twenty-six people in the protest were arrested for disorderly conduct and impeding vehicular traffic, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey dispatched two buses to help travelers caught in the backup reach the airport, agency spokesperson Steve Burns said.”

Daily Mail: One In Five Young Americans Has A POSITIVE View Of Osama Bin Laden: Disturbing Daily Mail Poll Results Also Reveal Three In 10 Gen-Zers Think The Views Of The 9/11 Mastermind Were A 'Force For Good'

“One in five young Americans has a positive view of 9/11 mastermind and Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden, according to disturbing results of a DailyMail.com poll. The alarming survey also found three in 10 Gen Z voters believe the views of the anti-Semitic terrorist leader who slaughtered thousands of innocent people were a ‘force for good'. Family members of 9/11 victims said the findings are 'horrifying' and proof of a startling trend suggesting some in the younger generation are growing sympathetic to terrorists.”

CEP Mentions

Spectrum News: Biden Says U.S. Struck Militias In Iraq To Deter Iran; Iraq Condemns Strikes As ‘Hostile Act’

“... Kata’ib Hezbollah is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization and an Iranian-sponsored militia “operating in Iraq with ancillary operations throughout Syria” that fought against U.S. and coalition forces during the Iraq War, according to the nonprofit Counter Extremism Project. “The strikes were taken to deter future attacks and were conducted in a manner designed to limit the risk of escalation and minimize civilian casualties,” Biden wrote. “I directed the strikes in order to protect and defend our personnel who are in Iraq conducting military operations pursuant to the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.” The legal authority to launch airstrikes in a country where the U.S. war effort nominally ended in 2011 is derived from the 22-year-old Authorization for Use of Military Force passed by Congress in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The authorization allows the president to use military force against anyone “he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.” It has been used to justify military operations in the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific by presidents since then.”

United States

Bloomberg: Biden Says Iraq Strike Meant To Deter Attacks On US Personnel

“President Joe Biden said the US military struck targets in Iraq in order to prevent further attacks on American personnel in the Middle East, which have fueled concerns about a wider regional conflict. US forces on Christmas Day struck three installations linked to an Iran-backed insurgent group, their latest retaliation against militias targeting Americans. The strikes are “intended to degrade and disrupt the ongoing series of attacks against the United States and our partners” and to “deter” Tehran’s proxy forces “from conducting or supporting further attacks,” Biden wrote Wednesday in a letter to congressional leaders. The president’s comments provided the broadest rationale yet for stepped-up US military action in the Middle East amid the Israel-Hamas war. American troops have been injured in a series of attacks carried out by militias supported by Iran, while Yemen-based Houthi rebels have wrought havoc on Red Sea shipping by launching drone strikes on commercial vessels. The militant groups’ attacks are meant to be in support of Hamas, the Iran-backed group that rules the Gaza Strip and carried out the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel that sparked the war.”

Voice Of America: Biden Struggles To Contain Israel-Hamas War As Conflict Spreads On Multiple Fronts

“As the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expands its ground offensive in Gaza, Iran's threats of retaliation over the airstrikes that killed a senior military officer and continued attacks from Tehran-backed groups in the region are increasing the likelihood of an all-out war in the Middle East. It is a risk U.S. President Joe Biden cannot afford as he heads into an election year in 2024. Earlier this week, Tehran vowed retribution for what it called the assassination in Syria of Seyed Razi Mousavi, a senior adviser to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Mousavi was said to be involved in supplying arms to Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia in Lebanon and Syria that has been intensifying its assault from Israel's northern border in solidarity to Palestinians in Gaza. Israel declined to confirm it was behind the airstrike that killed Mousavi. The White House did not respond to VOA's queries on whether Israel informed Washington in advance of the airstrikes that killed Mousavi, or whether the administration believes the war can still be contained in Gaza.”


Associated Press: Turkey Hits 70 Sites Linked To Kurdish Groups In Syria And Iraq In Retaliation For Soldiers’ Deaths

“Turkey has hit more than 70 sites allegedly linked to Kurdish groups in Syria and northern Iraq during airstrikes launched this week in retaliation for the deaths of 12 Turkish soldiers in Iraq, the defense minister said Wednesday. At least 59 Kurdish militants were killed in the strikes as well as in land clashes, Yasar Guler said in a video message to top military officials which was posted on X, formerly Twitter. “Our pain is great, but our determination is complete,” Guler said. “We avenged (the deaths) of our precious children and we will continue to do so.” There was no immediately statement from Kurdish groups and the 59 deaths could not be independently verified. On Friday, militants affiliated with the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, attempted to infiltrate a Turkish base in northern Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, Turkish officials said. Six Turkish soldiers were killed in the ensuing firefight. The following day, six more Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes with the Kurdish militants. Turkey responded by launching strikes against sites that officials said were associated with the PKK in Iraq and Syria.”


Wall Street Journal: Israel-Hamas War Jeopardizes Prospects For Yemen Peace

“A string of Houthi attacks targeting Israel and Red Sea shipping lanes is threatening to derail the most advanced effort to end Saudi Arabia’s entanglement in Yemen’s nine-year civil war. Months of Saudi talks with Houthi rebels have produced an informal three-year roadmap that the United Nations hopes could become the basis of a long-term resolution to the conflict, according to U.S., Saudi, Yemeni and U.N. officials. Ending the conflict would allow President Biden to claim success on a foreign policy priority he set at the start of his administration when he appointed a special envoy to lead peace efforts and froze weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and its ally, the United Arab Emirates, which is also part of an Arab coalition fighting the Houthis. The talks were heading toward success earlier this year, but the war in Gaza is threatening to upend the delicate negotiations amid the various parties to the conflict. The Houthis have been targeting ships in the Red Sea and Israeli cities, which they say is in response to Israeli military operations in Gaza. On Tuesday, the Pentagon said it had shot down a dozen drones and a number of missiles, part of the latest wave of Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.”

Middle East

New York Times: Hamas And Other Militant Groups Are Firing Rockets Into Israel Every Day

“As Israel wages a war in Gaza aimed at dismantling Hamas’s military capacity, the armed group and its affiliates have continued to fire rockets at Israel nearly every day, aiming deep inside its borders and striking some of the country’s biggest cities. Since Hamas led a terrorist attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, Hamas and other armed groups have fired about 12,000 rockets from Gaza into Israel, a quarter of them on Oct. 7, the Israeli government has said. Most rockets fired from Gaza were shot down by Israeli air defenses before they were able to make impact. But the ongoing salvos, although less frequent than at the start of the war, are an indication of the size of Hamas’s arsenal and its continued ability to menace cities far from Gaza. In nearly three months of war, 15 people in Israel have been killed in strikes and about 700 others injured, according to Israel’s emergency service. In southern Israel, along the Gaza border, rocket attacks have long been a fact of life. But since the start of the war, Israelis across the country have become accustomed to the scream of air raid sirens. In recent weeks, sirens have sounded in central Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv. Residents in Jerusalem were sent running to safe rooms and shelters in December for the first time in over a month.”

BBC: Israel Gaza War: Israel Warns Hezbollah And Lebanon Over Border Fighting

“Israel's military will act to remove Hezbollah from the border with Lebanon if its attacks continue, an Israeli minister has warned. Benny Gantz said the military would intervene if militants do not stop firing on northern Israel. Time for a diplomatic solution was running out, he added. Meanwhile, the head of the Israel Defense Forces said troops were in "very high readiness" for more fighting in the north. "Our first task is to restore security and the sense of security to the residents in the north, and this will take time," Chief of the General Staff Lt Gen Herzi Halevi said, after conducting a "situational assessment.”

Hong Kong

Associated Press: Hong Kong Man Jailed For 6 Years After Pleading Guilty To A Terrorism Charge Over A Foiled Bomb Plot

“A Hong Kong man was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison after pleading guilty to a terrorism charge under a Beijing-imposed national security law for his involvement in a foiled plot to bomb court buildings. Prosecutors said Ho Yu-wang, 19, was the plot mastermind who planned to manufacture explosives and target court buildings in 2021. The plot, involving mostly secondary students back then, was foiled due to a police investigation, while no bombs were made and no casualties occurred, the prosecution earlier said.”


Reuters: Australia Checks Hezbollah Claim Of Citizen Killed In Israeli Strike

“Australia on Thursday confirmed two of its citizens were killed in an Israeli air strike in south Lebanon and said it was looking at Hezbollah's claims that one of the Australian citizens killed had links to the militant group. "We will continue to make inquiries about this particular person, with whom Hezbollah has claimed links," Acting Foreign Minister Mark Dreyfus said during a media briefing. "Hezbollah has claimed this Australian as one of its fighters. Our inquiries are continuing." Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group backed by Iran, is a "listed terrorist organisation" in Australia and it is an offence for any Australian to provide it with financial support or fight in its ranks, Dreyfus said. A Lebanese-Australian man, his wife, and his brother, who was a member of Hezbollah, were killed in the Israeli attack, Lebanese security and local sources told Reuters on Wednesday. The strike late on Tuesday, part of a flare-up of border area hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah, hit a home in the town of Bint Jbeil where the militants enjoy widespread support. Dreyfus said the Australian government had reached out to Israel about the attacks but declined to disclose what was discussed.”


Reuters: Spanish PM Open To Creation Of New EU Mission To Protect Vessels In Red Sea

“Spain opposes using the European Union's anti-piracy naval force to protect merchant ships in the Red Sea from the Yemeni Houthi militia, but it is willing to consider the creation of a different mission to tackle the problem, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Wednesday. The Iran-backed Houthis, who control much of Yemen including the capital Sanaa, have since October attacked commercial vessels in the Red Sea that they say have Israeli links or are sailing to Israel. They say they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians under assault by Israeli forces in Gaza. "We are willing and open to consider such an operation but not within the framework of Operation Atalanta," Sanchez said, referring to the existing EU mission. He said he had conveyed to Madrid's allies in both NATO and the EU that Operation Atalanta had "neither the characteristics nor the nature required for the Red Sea". The situation in the Red Sea was "completely different" from Atalanta's area of operation, the Indian Ocean, where the EU's main mission was to combat piracy. Several shipping lines have suspended operations through the Red Sea in response to the attacks instead taking the longer journey around southern Africa.”


Times Of India: 2 Youths With Al-Qaeda Links Get 7-Year Jail

“A special court in the city for cases registered by National Investigation Agency sentenced two youths to seven years’ simple imprisonment for involvement in terror activities. The accused are Akthar Hussain, resident of Tilaknagar and from Theltikar village in Assam, and Abdul Alim Mondal alias Mohammed Juba from South 24 Parganas, West Bengal. Juba was residing in Salem, Tamil Nadu, when police arrested him on July 27, 2022. Akthar was taken into custody three days earlier. Both are in their 20s. They were alleged to be members of Al-Qaeda in Indian Sub-continent outfit, sources said. The NIA special court convicted them on Monday and announced the punishment 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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