Eye on Extremism: Feb 25, 2020

The National: Britain Sanctions African ISIS Affiliate Groups

“The UK on Monday moved to add IS in the Greater Sahara and Boko Haram to its list of terrorist organisations. Boko Haram, led by Abubakar Shekau, was was formed in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf and has committed many terrorist attacks in Nigeria. The Greater Sahara group was formed in May 2015 by Adnan Abu Walid Al Sahraoui and has launched terror attacks in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. The financial sanctions, announced by the British Treasury, mean the two groups will have their assets being frozen, and are subject to travel bans and arms embargoes. The assets freeze will apply from 11.59pm GMT on March 24, the Treasury said. On Sunday, the UN added the two groups to its sanctions list. On Monday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ordered his troops to pursue Boko Haram militants for attacks in the country. On February 11, militants killed 30 people and abducted women and children in Nigeria’s north-east Borno state. The decade-long insurgency has killed 36,000 people and displaced about 2 million from their homes in north-east Nigeria. The violence has spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, leading to the creation of a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.”

Reuters: To Preserve Shi'ite Power In Iraq, Iran-Backed Groups Turn To Renegade Cleric

“When the grip of Iraq’s Tehran-backed Shi’ite Muslim parties and militias threatened to slip following the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, they turned to an unpredictable rival. At meetings in the Iranian holy city of Qom, they struck a deal with populist Shi’ite cleric Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr, who commands a following of millions of Iraqis. According to senior Iraqi officials and militia insiders, they promised Sadr a greater say forming a new Iraqi government and an augmented spiritual leadership role among Shi’ite paramilitary groups. In return, he would draw on his mass following to weaken the anti-government and anti-Iran dissent that has erupted on Iraqi streets, and redirect the unrest toward demands for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, the sources said. The agreement, sponsored by Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, sought to preserve Shi’ite power in Iraq by uniting the factions of the Iran-backed groups with their rival Sadr. The militias were in disarray after a U.S. air strike killed Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on Jan. 3. Sadr was also off-balance.”

The Washington Post: As Yemen's War Intensifies, An Opening For Al-Qaeda To Resurrect Its Fortunes

“The death last month of the leader of al-Qaeda's Yemen branch in a U.S. drone strike has dealt a blow to the group's ambitions, but Western officials and analysts warn that a recent escalation in Yemen's conflict could allow it to regroup to some extent. “An ideological hardcore of AQAP will always remain,” said Elisabeth Kendall, a Yemen scholar at Oxford University, using the acronym for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen affiliate is called. “AQAP has made strong comebacks before, reuniting its scattered fragments into an ideological whole again. This is no time for complacency.” In a 16-minute audio message over the weekend, AQAP confirmed of the death of its leader Qasim al-Rimi. The group also announced its new leader, Khalid Batarfi, a poetry-reciting veteran al-Qaeda operative often shown in videos offering religious guidance on good parenting and other subjects. Over the past decade, al-Qaeda has bounced back a few times, regaining territory and recruits by taking advantage of security vacuums arising from the conflicts among Yemen’s myriad warring factions. Now, after a relative lull in the war, fighting is intensifying in at least four provinces, including in or near areas where both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have a presence or support from local tribes.”

United States

NBC News: White Supremacist Propaganda Produced By U.S. Hate Groups Is Spreading — And Working

“White supremacists and their ilk have long used propaganda as a tool to spread their message. Long before the internet, men stood on corners with paper bags of hateful flyers or drove from town to town, leaving their racist or anti-Semitic photocopies on front steps and in driveways. This tried-and-true tactic is now back with a vengeance. In 2019, U.S. white supremacists employed paper canvassing of neighborhoods and college campuses more than at any time in recent memory, with an unprecedented number of flyers, banners, stickers and posters appearing across the country. In 2019, U.S. white supremacists employed paper canvassing of neighborhoods and college campuses more than at any time in recent memory. But the age-old scourge is being accompanied by some innovations, including a technological upgrade. The propaganda is used to lure potential haters online, where these new recruits are gradually indoctrinated more and more. And given the negative publicity surrounding violent rallies like Unite the Right in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, white supremacists have chosen to temper their rhetoric.”

The Atlantic: White-Supremacist Violence Is Terrorism

“I combatted the threat of foreign terrorism for much of my career, fighting organizations that are grounded in virulent, hateful ideologies, and in many cases operate in a network of independent, loosely connected cells. Violent white-supremacist organizations operate in a similar fashion. Our failure to address these domestic groups and their networks, or to take them as seriously as their foreign counterparts, is costing us lives, diminishing our shared and cherished values, and compromising our credibility and unity as a people. This is happening now, not in some bygone era, and we have to act immediately if we’re to safeguard our republic. Last month, I testified before the House Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism about one element of the threat that white-supremacists pose: the risks of anti-Semitic violence and the ongoing threats facing our faith-based communities. Yet as we celebrate Black History Month and reflect on all that it represents, we should recognize the deep roots of racism and prejudice in America. Slavery is America’s original sin, and this “genetic birth defect,” as Representative Hakeem Jeffries recently called it, did not resolve itself with the end of the Civil War, nor with the heroic efforts of the civil-rights movement.”

Syria

Vox: Syria’s Worst Humanitarian Catastrophe In Its 9-Year Civil War Is Now Unfolding

“Maher Daboul tries to collect money to help, however he can, the people who have fled, who camp under trees or live in makeshift tents. He writes, too. He does this because he wants to complete his novel before something bad happens. The fear that something bad will happen is ever-present in Idlib, now the last opposition-held province in Syria. The Syrian regime led by Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russia in the air and pro-Iranian militias on the ground, is laying siege to the province in an attempt to take it back. This is creating an unfathomable humanitarian catastrophe. Idlib is the center of one of the worst refugee crises in the entire nine-year Syrian civil war. Daboul, 25, spoke to me via WhatsApp from Aqrabat, Syria, a small village in Idlib province (or governorate) close to the Turkish border in northwestern Syria. (There is also a city of Idlib, which is the province’s capital.) Daboul and his family used to live in Aleppo, but now he is one of about 3 million people in Idlib. About half of Idlib province’s current population came there from other parts of Syria, displaced and uprooted by the civil war.”

France 24: Russia Strikes Kill 5 Civilians As Syria Regime Advances

“Five civilians were killed in Russian air strikes backing Syrian regime forces as they chipped away at the country's last major rebel bastion in fighting that cost dozens of lives Monday, a war monitor said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the air raids hit the Jabal al-Zawiya area on the edge of the jihadist-dominated northwestern province of Idlib. In fighting on the ground, regime forces gained ground in the southern part of Idlib, the Britain-based monitor said. They seized 10 towns and villages south of the M4 highway linking the coastal regime stronghold of Latakia to government-held second city Aleppo since Sunday, it said. Nearly 50 fighters were killed on several fronts in the Idlib region, according to the Observatory, including 21 pro-regime fighters, as well as 27 jihadists and allied Turkey-backed rebels. State news agency SANA, for its part, said “units of the Syrian army continued to progress in the south of Idlib” province. Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the regime's aim was to wrest back control of stretches of the M4 still under the control of jihadists and allied rebels. That would require operations against the towns of Ariha and Jisr al-Shughur, both along the M4.”

Afghanistan

Radio Free Europe: At Least Six Killed In Afghanistan Despite 'Reduction Of Violence' Deal

“Afghan officials say at least six people have been killed in a Taliban attack in the northern Balkh Province, amid a weeklong “reduction of violence” agreed between the United States and the Taliban. Five people were also wounded in the attack on February 24 that targeted a checkpoint of pro-government forces in Balkh's Chahar Kint district, local governor Salima Mazari said. In Samangan Province, the militants abducted a district governor along with two other government employees while they were on the way to work on February 24, the provincial governor's spokesman, Mohammad Sediq Azizi said. Earlier this month, the United States and the Taliban separately announced the “reduction in violence” that took effect on February 22. If the truce holds, it will be followed by the signing of a peace accord that would see the Pentagon pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan. Afghan media, however, reported that the Taliban carried out several small-scale attacks on checkpoints manned by Afghan security forces. Earlier, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was quoted by the dpa news agency as saying that during the seven-day reduction in violence there would be no attacks on major cities, military corps, garrisons, or bases belonging to international forces.”

Newsweek: Afghanistan Will Need U.S. Support Long After Any Taliban Peace Deal, Experts Say: 'Peace Is Not An Event, It's A Process'

“Tentative truce is underway in Afghanistan that may pave the way to ending 18 years of war between the Taliban, the western coalition and the Afghan government. The week-long “reduction in violence” began Friday and as of Monday appears to be holding up. International and Afghan forces agreed to pause all major offensive operations and the Taliban said it will not engage in roadside bombings, suicide attacks or rocket strikes. If successful, the period of reduced violence will give way to a full truce agreement between international forces and the Taliban on February 29 and peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government as soon as March 10. U.S., NATO and Afghan officials have all expressed hope that this can end a war that has claimed 157,000 lives since 2001, but have also warned that the fragile detente could collapse without Taliban adherence. But whatever happens, Afghanistan will require international support for years to come, two experts told Newsweek, meaning there is no easy way out for President Donald Trump or the other Western powers. “The Afghan state is still an experiment in many ways, and a project that requires assistance and support,” The International Crisis Group's Andrew Watkins explained from Kabul on Monday.”

Pakistan

Eurasia Review: Pakistan: Terror And Impunity – Analysis

“Backed by ‘all weather friend’ China, Pakistan again escaped the ignominy of being put into the ‘club’ of High-Risk Jurisdictions, commonly referred to as the ‘black list’, by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran are the two present members of the ‘club’. Despite Islamabad’s continued attempts to deceive FATF by taking superficial action and come out of the Jurisdictions under Increased Monitoring, the ‘grey list’, however, FATF decided to keep Pakistan in this listing, along with 17 other countries. Pakistan has been on the ‘grey list’ since June 2018. FATF President Xiangmin Liu of China, chaired the FATF Plenary held on February 19-21, 2020, at Paris, France. In a release dated February 21, 2020, FATF noted that “all deadlines in the action plan have expired” and the FATF “again expresses concerns given Pakistan’s failure to complete its action plan in line with the agreed timelines and in light of the TF [terrorist financing] risks emanating from the jurisdiction”. The FATF warned, “To date, Pakistan has largely addressed 14 of 27 action items, with varying levels of progress made on the rest of the action plan.”

Lebanon

Arab News: Lebanese Activists And Critics Of Hezbollah Face Attacks, Arrest And Threats

“Activists in Lebanon, in particular those who speak out against Hezbollah, continue to face physical attacks, arrest, psychological pressure and threats to their families. The individuals being targeted include lawyers, journalists, media personalities and writers. On Monday, Asrar Shebaro, a correspondent for An-Nahar newspaper, was attacked in a public place. It happened while she was working at Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut covering the arrival of a flight from Iran as part of a story about the response of Lebanese authorities to the coronavirus threat. A video she filmed showed an unidentified young man attacking her and taking her phone by force. He told her she was not allowed to film in the airport because these were “families” there, which is a term Hezbollah uses to describe its supporters. The man deleted a number of videos Shebaro had filmed of passengers arriving from Iran. When she asked him under whose authority he was acting and who he represented, he said that he belonged to a political party. In a message posted on the An-Nahar website, the newspaper said: “The bullying of the media and the truth will not dissuade this newspaper from completing its message by accurately conveying information and holding those responsible for their fragile measures taken to combat the Coronavirus.”

Middle East

BBC News: Israel-Gaza Sees Surge Of Cross-Border Violence

“The Israeli military has carried out air strikes against the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza and Syria in response to rocket fire. On Sunday, more than 20 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, causing some damage. Overnight, the Israeli military struck what it called PIJ “terror targets”, including weapons development and training facilities near Damascus. PIJ said two fighters were killed in Syria and vowed to avenge their deaths. Gaza's health ministry reported that four Palestinians were wounded in the territory. On Monday, the Israeli military carried out further air strikes on PIJ targets in Gaza, after at least 14 rockets were launched from the territory into southern Israel. The hostilities escalated on Sunday morning, when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had killed a PIJ militant near Israel's border fence with the Gaza Strip. The IDF said troops identified two men attempting to plant an explosive device on the fence and opened fire at them. A video shared widely on social media showed an Israeli bulldozer scooping up the body of the man, provoking anger among Palestinians.”

Libya

The New York Times: UN: Libya's Warring Sides Agree To Cement Cease-Fire Deal

“The U.N. mission in Libya said Monday that the country’s warring sides had agreed to turn a shaky cease-fire into a formal deal, stirring modest hopes after weeks of sporadic violence that derailed negotiations. As the latest round of U.N.-mediated talks between rival military leaders wrapped up in Geneva, both sides reached a draft deal “to facilitate the safe return of civilians to their areas,” according to a U.N. statement. The return of thousands of displaced civilians will be monitored by military representatives in Geneva with support from the U.N. mission in Libya. The delegates negotiating on behalf of Libya’s rival administrations must now send the draft for approval to their respective leaders who have the power to halt the fighting, a prospect that faces further obstacles. The representatives promised to reconvene in Geneva next month to hammer out details of the deal’s implementation. Monday's apparent breakthrough came days after eastern-based forces under the command of Khalifa Hifter escalated their attacks on the capital, Tripoli, which is held by a rival U.N.-backed government. The attacks hit Tripoli's civilian seaport, narrowly missing a highly explosive liquefied petroleum gas tanker and prompting the Tripoli administration to pull out of talks.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: My Government Has Weakened Boko Haram’s Capacity —Buhari

“President Muhammadu Buhari has claimed that his government has weakened the capacity and strength of Boko Haram sect. Speaking through his special adviser, Garba Shehu, Buhari said the sect was now restricted to attacking soft spots. There has been an increase in Boko Haram attacks in the Northern part of the country in recent times. On Friday, the insurgents reportedly broke into a town in Adamawa State around 7pm, shooting sporadically. The insurgents succeeded in burning down several houses during the raid. President Buhari said, “These attacks on soft targets by terrorists are obvious signs of frustration because my administration has significantly weakened Boko Haram’s military capability to invade and hold Nigerian territory unchallenged. “Our gallant forces deserve our appreciation for repelling the attackers but they must go beyond this point. “They have our full support to go after the terrorists and have them pay a huge price. I want to assure the country that terrorists will continue to face the combined power of our military until they give up their mistaken ways.”

Africa

Foreign Policy: In West Africa, U.S. Military Struggles For Scarce Resources As Terrorism Threat Grows

“Every February, hundreds of special operations forces from around the world gather in West Africa for Flintlock, a unique U.S.-led exercise that provides critical training for regional militaries struggling to counter growing terrorist activity in the Sahel. This year, the threat is more urgent than ever. Despite the presence of 4,500 French troops and a 13,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force, violent extremist attacks in the region have skyrocketed in the last 18 months. The Sahel saw the most rapid increase of such events of any African region in 2019, with roughly 2,600 fatalities from 800 attacks—a number which has nearly doubled every year since 2015. Burkina Faso bore the brunt of the new violence, primarily from groups linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, as the locus of terrorist activity shifted from Mali across the border. But even as terrorist activity explodes in the Sahel, the United States is considering withdrawing some or all of its roughly 5,000 troops across the continent—including approximately 1,000 in West Africa—in order to move resources toward preparing for a potential future conflict with China or Russia, a concept the Pentagon calls “great power competition.”

Washington Examiner: More Than 100 'Terrorists' Killed In Africa During Military Operation

“French and African forces announced that more than 100 “terrorists” were killed during a recent operation that also resulted in the seizure of bomb-making equipment. Niger’s defense ministry said in a statement last week that “120 terrorists have been neutralized” during the operation that took place in the country’s Tillaberi region, which borders Burkina Faso and Mali and has experienced multiple attacks by jihadist groups over the past few years. No French or Nigerien forces were reportedly killed in the operation. Issoufou Katambe, Niger’s defense minister, praised the cooperation with French forces “in the battle against terrorism.” Groups affiliated with the Islamic State and al Qaeda operate in that part of the country, and violence there has displaced some 78,000 people. France boosted its military presence in the area earlier this year, and Niger has increased restrictions by closing markets and banning motorbike usage after attacks by the terrorist groups killed 174 Nigerien troops in December and January. In neighboring Burkina Faso, Islamic jihadist groups have targeted churches, with one attack this month killing two dozen people and injuring 18 more. Last May, a group of about 20 to 30 militants entered a Catholic church in Burkina Faso and killed six people, including the priest.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: 3 Terrorist Camps Discovered In Tunisia’s Kasserine Mountains

“Tunisia’s interior ministry confirmed that security units had discovered, between February 10 and 22, three terrorist camps in the Kasserine Mountains in western Tunisia. The Ministry of Interior confirmed that these camps were uncovered during combing operations across mountainous highlands, and through intelligence provided to security services. In the three camps, equipment used in the manufacture of conventional mines, which terrorists had previously used to hinder army and security units that were chasing them, was found. Also found were cooking utensils, medicinal residues, water sterilization material and drilling tools. Tunisian extremist groups experts emphasized that the recent use of these camps confirms that the battle with terrorism has not ended yet and that hostility against the civilian state is still harbored. Specialized security studies have indicated that recruitment operations to attract new terrorists for ISIS and al-Qaeda have mostly taken place online, making it difficult for security units to monitor newly joined terrorists. Many of the new recruits are not found in records of security services and they act as lone wolves.”

Reuters: U.S. Supreme Court Open To More Damages Against Sudan Over Embassy Bombings

“The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday appeared open to reinstating $4.3 billion in punitive damages against Sudan in lawsuits accusing it of complicity in the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of two U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people. Eight justices heard about an hour of arguments in an appeal - filed by people injured and relatives of people killed in the attacks - of a 2017 lower court ruling that blocked the plaintiffs from collecting the punitive damages imposed against Sudan alongside about $6 billion in compensatory damages. Justice Brett Kavanaugh did not participate in the case. The justices directed the bulk of their questioning toward an attorney representing Sudan as opposed to the plaintiffs. Conservative and liberal justices raised doubts over Sudan’s argument that it could not be hit with punitive damages. Sudan, riven by civil war and unrest, has been trying to reduce its exposure in the litigation. Twelve Americans were among the dead in the Aug. 7, 1998, attacks, with thousands of other people wounded. The lawsuits involve 567 people, most of whom are non-U.S. citizens who were employees of the U.S. government and their relatives.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Extremist Neo-Nazi Group To Be Banned Under Terror Laws

“Joining the far-right group Sonnenkrieg Divison is set to become illegal, under a proscription order to be put to MPs. The order would also label two other groups aliases of another proscribed organisation - the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Laws due to come into effect on Tuesday will also recognise System Resistance Network as an alias of the already banned neo-Nazi group National Action. Membership of the groups could result in a 10 year prison sentence. Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Recent attacks here and in Germany have highlighted the threat we continue to face from violent extremism. “By proscribing these groups we are making it much harder for them to spread their hateful rhetoric.” In June 2019, two members of the Sonnenkrieg Division - Michal Szewczuk and Oskar Dunn-Koczorowski - were jailed after encouraging an attack on Prince Harry for marrying a woman of mixed race. Sonnenkrieg Division emerged from a split in the System Resistance Network, which itself will be proscribed on Tuesday as an alias of National Action. Both the groups were small when at their height and have been severely disrupted since - to the extent that some may question whether this move is now necessary.”

BBC News: Emergency Terror Law Clears Parliamentary Hurdles

“Emergency legislation to block the automatic release of people convicted of terror offences is set to become law after being approved by the Lords. The Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill - which was passed by MPs earlier this month - was drawn up following an attack in south London. The attacker, Sudesh Amman, had recently been freed from prison. The government had wanted to pass the bill before 28 February when the next terror offender is due for release.  The government's emergency measures, which required backing from Parliament, would postpone his release until the Parole Board has given its approval. Offenders are told they are being sentenced for a fixed period and will be automatically released at the half-way point, to serve the remainder of their sentence on licence in the community. Some offenders will have pleaded guilty on the basis that they would be given a sentence with automatic early release at the half-way point. Their release is an automatic process and does not involve oversight of the Parole Board.”

The National: Britain Tightens Curbs Against Kurdish Terror Groups In Round Of New Measures Against Extremists

“Britain has tightens curbs against Kurdish terror groups in a new round of measures against extremists. It comes as the UK faced mounting pressure from Turkey to recognise Kurdish terror groups. Partiya Karkeren Kurdistani (the Kurdistan Worker’s Party or PKK) has already been banned but now its aliases Teyre Azadiye Kurdistan (TAK) and Hêzên Parastina Gel (HPG) have also been proscribed. Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The PKK has long been considered to be involved in terrorism and these orders will prevent individuals circumventing efforts to counter its activity.” In addition the UK has banned two far right groups and has announced a tightening up of its terror laws to afford more protection to people in public places. It comes after far right extremist Tobias Rathjen killed 10 people in Hanau, Germany, last week. The move to ban the Kurdish groups comes after Turkey refused to back a Nato plan to protect Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the event of a Russian attack unless the group recognised the Kurdish YPG militia as terrorists.”

France

Foreign Policy: Emmanuel Macron’s War On Islamism Is Europe’s Future

“We must never accept that the laws of religion can be superior to those of the Republic.” With these words, delivered in a landmark speech in the eastern city of Mulhouse on Feb. 18, French President Emmanuel Macron launched his government’s strategy against political Islam. “Islamist separatism is incompatible with freedom and equality,” he stated, “incompatible with the indivisibility of the Republic and the necessary unity of the nation.” The Mulhouse speech, and its harsh language, came as no surprise to anybody who has followed the French debate on Islamism over the last few years. Terms such as “Islamist separatism,” “communitarianism,” and “Islamist supremacism”—which in previous years constituted the vocabulary almost exclusively of the National Front (now National Rally, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party)—have become ubiquitous. The term “fréro-salafiste” has also become mainstream. It covers the two Islamist trends critics accuse of promoting separatism in the country: the Muslim Brotherhood (Fréres musulmans in French), with its moderate façade but divisive agenda, and the Salafists, with their firm rejection of French society.”

Germany

The New York Times: Driver Slams Car Into German Carnival Crowd

“A 29-year-old man drove his car into a carnival parade in a German town on Monday, according to the police and prosecutors, injuring about 30 people, including children, and shaking a country already on edge after a racist shooting that killed several people last week. The state prosecutor in Frankfurt said the authorities suspect that the driver, a German from the region where the crash took place, had deliberately steered his vehicle into the crowd of families with young children who had packed the streets for an annual Shrove Monday parade. Germany’s top security official, Horst Seehofer, last week declared far-right extremism to be “the biggest threat to our democracy right now” and ordered an increased police presence at large public events. Regional law-enforcement officials said, however, that they had no indication of a political motivation for the crash on Monday in the small town of Volkmarsen. “At this time we cannot give any further information about what led to the act, especially regarding a motive,” Alexander Badle, a spokesman for prosecutors said in a statement. “We are investigating in all possible directions.”

Australia

The Guardian: Asio Boss Warns Of Rising Foreign Interference And Far-Right Extremism In Australia

“Foreign interference in Australia is higher than it has ever been, and “sleeper agents” for foreign powers have lain undetected for years in Australia before being uncovered, the head of Australia’s domestic spy agency has warned. In wide-ranging annual threat assessment address delivered in Canberra on Monday night, the director general of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (Asio) Mike Burgess reiterated earlier security agency warnings that a terror attack in Australia is “probable”, and said that rightwing extremism, brought into “sharp terrible focus” by last year’s Christchurch massacre, was manifesting in “small cells” of adherents gathering to salute Nazi flags, inspect weapons and disseminate “hateful ideology”. The intelligence chief said the threat of rightwing extremism was real and growing, and that the number of overall terrorism leads under investigation had doubled over the past year. “Our view is that the threat of terrorism will remain a constant feature of the global security environment in 2020 and the threat to Australia and Australian interests will remain.” Australia’s terrorism threat level remains at “probable” and would remain unacceptably high for the foreseeable future, Burgess said.”