Eye on Extremism: Feb 7, 2020

The New York Times: White House Confirms Killing Of Terrorist Leader In Yemen

“The United States killed the leader of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, the White House confirmed on Thursday. The confirmation came about a week after The New York Times first reported that the United States believed it had killed Qassim al-Rimi, the Qaeda leader, in January after months of tracing him. The C.I.A. carried out the airstrike using an unmanned drone, an intelligence official said. The White House statement had little detail about the operation, but said it was carried out at the direction of President Trump. The statement said Mr. al-Rimi’s death will degrade the Yemen affiliate and the global Qaeda movement and “brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security.” Mr. Trump has highlighted his record of ordering the killing of terrorist leaders and other adversaries. In his State of the Union address, he highlighted the Army Delta Force raid that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State leader, as well as the drone strike in Baghdad that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s most important general. Mr. al-Rimi was one of the founders of Yemen’s Qaeda affiliate.”

Vice: Neo-Nazi Terror Group The Base Linked To The War In Ukraine

“After a string of sweeping indictments and arrests, court documents have illustrated how the neo-Nazi terror group The Base discussed derailing trains and plotted the assassinations of anti-fascist activists in the United States. But the group also had international ambitions. The Base and its leader wanted to form concrete links between Ukrainian ultra-nationalist military units and the global neo-Nazi movement. And one American connected to The Base had already traveled to the war-torn country in search of wartime experience, VICE has learned. Matthew Ryan Burchfield, a 20-year-old Virginia native, went to Ukraine in the fall of 2019. The affiliate of The Base was seeking to join the conflict in Donbas, multiple confidential sources, online records, social media accounts, and his own admission confirm. It’s an absurd story, involving a young man who by his own account went from participating in an accelerationist group chat to ending up in Ukraine, where Russian-backed paramilitaries are fighting neo-Nazi factions and the regular military, as part of a quest to lead “a normal life.”

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Extremist Blog Had Named Bartow County Man Targeted In Neo-Nazi Plot

"Recent events appear to have damaged The Base’s reputation among white supremacists, but Joshua Fisher-Birch, a researcher with the Counter Extremism Project, said it is too early to say what effect it will have on the group’s radicalized members. “There are still other cells out there,” he said. “But they’ve been very quiet.” Fisher-Birch said the arrests and the revelations about Nazzaro have “tarnished the brand” and raised fears among its already paranoid following about the dangers of recruiting members and plotting violence. The arrests in Georgia are both worrying and embarrassing for the group, he said. “That the (Georgia) group was infiltrated makes it seem like a big risk,” he said. “I don’t think any of those guys have been shown in a positive way. They will be seen as a sort of cautionary tale.”

United States

Washington Examiner: 'Domestic Terrorism': El Paso Mass Shooting Suspect Indicted On 90 Hate Crime Charges

“The suspect of a mass shooting that resulted in 22 dead at an El Paso Walmart last August was charged in a 90-count hate crime indictment on Thursday, opening the suspect up to the death penalty if convicted. The Justice Department said on Thursday that Patrick Crusius, 21, posted a four-page racist manifesto, “The Inconvenient Truth,” on 8chan just prior to the shooting, claiming that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The document also said he drew inspiration from mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, last March, which resulted in 51 dead and 49 injured. “Now, in the 2020s, we face a resurgent threat of violence motivated by race,” John Bash, the U.S. attorney for West Texas, said in a press conference announcing the charges, later tweeting, “Our team is committed to obtaining justice for the victims of this horrific hate crime and act of domestic terrorism.” The nine-page indictment made public Thursday evening charges Crusius with 22 counts of hate crimes resulting in death, 23 hate crimes involving attempted murder, and 45 counts of discharging a firearm in connection to the hate crimes. Following a trial, the suspect could face life in prison or capital punishment if Attorney General William Barr pursues it.”

The Hill: Our Laws Have A Problem Calling Domestic Terrorism What It Is

“A former Coast Guard lieutenant, Christopher Hasson, was sentenced to 160 months in prison last week for plotting a series of potential attacks on targets ranging from the media to elected officials. His sentencing follows his arrest last year on a litany of charges ranging from unlawful possession of unregistered silencers to unlawful possession of firearm silencers unidentified by serial number to possession of firearms by an unlawful user of an addict to a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance. Notably absent was one criminal offense. The Justice Department did not, despite clear evidence of intent, charge Hasson with terrorism. The current legal framework would not allow for it. However, in early court filings, the government alleged that Hasson was a domestic terrorist, with a clear desire to commit acts of political violence. Despite this, his plea agreement and judgment make no mention of his list of targets, or his statements calling for a “white homeland.” Nor do they reference the government’s detention motion, which states in no uncertain terms that Hasson “intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.”

Syria

The Guardian: Syrian Kurds To Put Isis Fighters From Dozens Of Countries On Trial

“Syrian Kurds have said they will hold trials for Islamic State fighters from more than 50 countries, including about 30 from Britain, after becoming exasperated by a failure to reach international agreements over what to do with them. The Kurdish-dominated administration in north-east Syria said it is holding 1,000 male fighters in overcrowded detention centres and a further 4,000 Isis women in refugee camps, many of whom are accused of involvement in the terror group’s crimes. Local authorities had hoped to strike agreements with western and other governments to either repatriate fighters and other accused people to face justice in their home country or to set up an internationally recognised tribunal. But there has been no meaningful progress since Isis lost the last of its territory nearly a year ago. On Thursday, the Syrian Kurdish external affairs ministry unilaterally declared it would start putting people on trial. Fener al-Kait, assistant minister in the external affairs ministry, said: “This is an international crisis and an international solution must be found. Unfortunately, many states have not responded to our appeals.”

Stars And Stripes: Raids Net Eight ISIS Members In Syria As US And Partners Ramp Up Operations

“U.S.-backed forces in Syria captured eight Islamic State group fighters and affiliates, along with weapons, documents and military equipment, during a large-scale operation alongside American special operations troops last week, the military said Thursday. The coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces have stepped up efforts to stop a potential ISIS resurgence in the country’s northeastern provinces of Deir al-Zour and Hassakeh, conducting “multiple raids each week,” Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement. The news came as U.S. Central Command warned that ISIS “remains cohesive,” with a war chest of hundreds of millions of dollars available to it, following the October killing of ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In last week’s clearance operation, hundreds of Kurdish-led SDF commandos and coalition forces raided several compounds Jan. 31 to isolate and capture an ISIS sleeper cell, the coalition said. But first, they danced. A 19-second military video shows the troops kitted up and performing a “motivational, pre-mission amp up,” said Army Capt. Charlie Boisner, a spokesman for the task force.”

Iraq

Kurdistan 24: ISIS Attacks Village In Iraq's Disputed Khanaqin, Kills 2 Civilians

“Members of the so-called Islamic State attacked a village located in Iraq’s disputed Khanaqin district late Thursday, killing two civilians and wounding two others, a security source told Kurdistan 24. The incident occurred in the village of Gla, located within Diyala province. It is just one of the territories disputed by the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) that has seen increased terrorist attacks in recent months. Killings and other insurgent-style operations have continued with regularity, notably in disputed areas, over two years after the Islamic State lost all its territorial claims in Iraq and Baghdad declared a final victory over the extremist organization. In late January, a group of gunmen suspected to be an Islamic State sleeper cell set up a mock security checkpoint and abducted seven civilians to the west of Khanaqin and just south of the Kurdish run Garmiyan Administration. On Saturday, militants kidnapped two more people in a similar incident near the same area. Days after the first abduction, senior Turkmen lawmaker Arshad al-Salihi said that the militant group had executed many of the abductees—whom he said were members of the Turkmen ethnic group.”

Afghanistan

BBC News: Kabul Taliban: Spies, Militants And A Mysterious Assassination

“The fatal shooting of two men in the heart of the Afghan capital Kabul - a city unfortunately used to violence - went almost unnoticed. But then, the dead men had hoped to go unnoticed: according to one source, they were both carrying fake IDs. Exactly what they were doing in Kabul, and who killed them, remains a mystery that touches upon the murky links between security services and extremist groups in the region. Who they really were, at least, has become clear. According to sources in Pakistani intelligence and militant circles, the men were senior members of the Pakistani Taliban - a group that has killed hundreds of Pakistanis in suicide bombings and other attacks. One of the dead men was Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, who held a key position in the Pakistani Taliban's leadership council, and formerly served as the group's deputy leader. He had been accused of involvement in several high-profile attacks on Pakistani politicians and linked to one of the country's deadliest militant attacks, the 2014 assault on a school in Peshawar, which left more than 150 people - mainly children - dead.”

Fox News: American Contractor Kidnapped In Afghanistan By Taliban-Linked Terror Group: Report

“A U.S. contractor from Illinois was kidnapped by Taliban-associated militants in Afghanistan last week, prompting a nationwide search involving the FBI and State Department, according to a report. Mark R. Frerichs, 55, of Lombard, Ill., was abducted last Friday in the province of Khost, U.S. officials, speaking under condition of anonymity, told Newsweek. The southeastern province borders the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, an underdeveloped region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. U.S. officials believe the kidnapping was organized by the Haqqani network, an insurgent group once backed by the CIA to fight the Soviets that now aligns with the Taliban. The exclusive report in Newsweek, which was published Wednesday evening, had been held since Monday to allow for the search to progress further, the outlet said. U.S. officials have been reluctant to confirm kidnappings, fearing the publicity may endanger anyone held captive. An unnamed U.S. official confirmed to Fox News an American was kidnapped in Afghanistan, but since he didn’t work for the Department of Defense “it is hard to understand his travels and behaviors.”

The Hill: What Does Soleimani's Death Mean For Afghanistan?

“As Iran plans vengeance for the United States’ killing of the commander of its Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, the U.S. should not ignore Afghanistan as an important theater where Iran might flex its muscle. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently warned Iran and the Taliban about the effect their ties might have on talks between American negotiators and Taliban representatives. But the prospects of imminent U.S. withdrawal only increase the chances that Tehran will stage a patient anti-American covert campaign in Afghanistan. Iran’s nefarious role in neighboring Afghanistan is no secret. It has long struggled to bring Afghanistan into its orbit of influence by building deep and multifaceted relationships with the country’s political and armed groups. Tehran’s persistent opposition to American presence in Afghanistan – a factor that drives Iran’s Afghan policy – has, meanwhile, steadily turned Afghanistan into a competing ground. Even though Soleimani’s death has affected Iranian subversive activities across the greater Middle East, its Afghanistan portfolio might actually get a boost because the man who managed it as Soleimani’s deputy is now his successor.”

Xinhua: Taliban Shadow District Chief Killed In Afghan Army Overnight Airstrike

“Three Taliban militants, including a Taliban shadow district chief, were killed in an overnight Afghan army airstrike in northern Balkh province, the command of special forces said Friday. “Afghan Air Force airstrike targeted an area in Chimtal district, Balkh province Thursday night. The strike killed Taliban shadow district chief Shah Mohammad Jabar and two Taliban divisional commanders, Mawlawi Qadeem and Hennayat,” Afghan National Army Special Operations Corps said in a statement. The targeted militants were planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along a main road, to target security forces in the district, in the western part of the province, 305 km north of the country's capital, Kabul, according to the statement. The militants often use home-made IEDs to make roadside bombs and landmines for targeting security forces. The Taliban militant group has not made comments on the report yet.”

Middle East

The Wall Street Journal: In Flurry Of Violence, Car Rams Into Israeli Soldiers And Two Palestinians Killed In Clashes

“A Palestinian driver rammed a car into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem, injuring 14 people, and clashes in the West Bank left two Palestinians dead, one of them a security officer, a week after President Trump unveiled his peace plan for the region. In separate incidents, an Arab Israeli who shot and wounded an Israeli police officer was killed by police in Jerusalem’s Old City, and Israeli soldiers came under fire from an assailant near the town of Qalqilya in the West Bank. Thursday’s flurry of violence came as the Trump administration’s long-awaited peace plan continued to amplify tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. The West Bank has seen a steady stream of protests by Palestinians since the plan was unveiled last week, with some leading to clashes with Israeli security forces. Palestinians say the plan heavily favors the Israelis by granting Israel sovereignty over Jerusalem, killing any chance for a viable Palestinian state to be established, while paving the way for Israel’s right-wing government to annex lands in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority, which governs the Palestinian population in the West Bank, has threatened to cut security ties with Israel in response, and Hamas, the political group that rules Gaza, has called for violent resistance.”

Libya

The New York Times: UN Envoy Says Push Continues Toward Cease-Fire Deal In Libya

“The U.N.’s special representative for Libya said Thursday the country’s warring sides are working to turn a provisional cease-fire into a formal agreement as they emerged from four days of talks, a prospect that appears to face steep obstacles. Ghassan Salame, head of the United Nations support mission in Libya, said rival military leaders are negotiating the remaining sticking points in a cease-fire deal. Those include the return of internally displaced people, the disarmament of armed groups and ways to monitor a truce, which each side has accused the other of violating. He said the cease-fire would be monitored by the military representatives in Geneva with support from the U.N. Mission in Libya. Another unresolved issue, he said, is how to deal with heavy weaponry, which powerful foreign backers continue sending to Libya, despite their pledges not to at a high-profile summit last month in Berlin. “There are still two or three points of divergence,” Salame told reporters in Geneva. He said delegates will reconvene Friday to discuss the latest draft. That agreement must then be sent back to their respective leaders for approval.”

Nigeria

All Africa: Nigeria: Boko Haram - The Politics Of Targeted Killing Of Christians

“When people know that they are being targeted and killed for their belief, it does not help much to tell them that they are also being manipulated, because they know that their victimhood is linked to their faith. To understand the manipulation component, they must see more concerted state action directed at destroying the terrorists. For Boko Haram, targeting Christians for killing has always been a political act aimed at creating divisions within the enemy, which they define to be the secular Nigerian state. They deepen the divide between Christians and Muslims and amplify the hate between them by depicting brutal killings and beheadings in video clips that they distribute widely. The abduction of Christian girls for enslavement, sexual assault or forced conversion to Islam is also part of the same tactic. The strategic objective is to promote a civil war between Christians and Muslims that would create easier conditions for them to build and grow the Caliphate they have always dreamt about. In 2011, Boko Haram started carrying out high-profile operations with national and international implications.”

Sahara Reporters: Breaking: Boko Haram Terrorists Attack Farmers In Adamawa, Kill Two Persons

“Suspected Boko Haram terrorists have attacked farmers at a village under Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa State, killing two persons. A nurse at Michika General Hospital told SaharaReporters that a woman was rushed in with bullet wound on Wednesday evening. She said, “A woman was brought in yesterday evening with fractured legs from bullet wounds and we had to refer her case to Mubi General hospital. “Those who brought her told us that her husband and one other lady were killed while working on their farm in Madagali by the terrorists.”  However, an officer in charge of troops in Madagali, Colonel Abdulsalam, told our correspondent that there was no Boko Haram attack in the area. He said, “There was no attack anywhere in Madagali, because I'm in Madagali and no one has informed us of any attack.”

Xinhua: Nigerian Police Kills 250 Militants In Combat Operation

“Up to 250 militants of an extremist group were killed in a combat operation by the police in Nigeria's central northern state of Kaduna, a police spokesman said on Thursday. High profile members of the outlawed Ansaru extremist group were among those killed when a combined team of the police forces, backed by helicopters, launched the operation on Wednesday against the group's hideout at Kuduru Forest in Kaduna, Frank Mba, the national police spokesman said in a statement made available to Xinhua in Abuja. The operation in the Kuduru forest in the neighborhood of Birnin Gwari in Kaduna lasted for several hours, Mba said. “The operation, which commenced in the early hours of Wednesday, was necessitated by actionable intelligence linking terror and criminal elements in the super-camp to series of terror-related violence, kidnappings, gun-running, cattle rustling and other heinous crimes across the country,” Mba said. One police helicopter, which provided aerial and intelligence cover for the ground troops was hit by the militants using “sophisticated anti-aircraft rifles”, he said. The police spokesperson said the pilot and the co-pilot successfully landed the aircraft at the air force base in Kaduna, and both officers who “sustained non-life threatening injuries” had received treatment.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Militants Launch Attack On KDF Convoy In Somalia

“Kenyan soldiers participate in a joint military exercise with US Marines (not in photo) 15 january 2004 at Manda Bay near the coastal town of Lamu. The exercices are aimed at improving the Kenyan force's “crisis response”. The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab militants have launched a daring raid on Kenyan military convoy in southern Somalia on Thursday, local residents said. The attack which began with landmine blast struck KDF convoy near Dhobley town has triggered a face-to-face gunfight between the Kenyan forces and Al-Shabaab fighters. The details of the casualties on both sides remained sketchy as the area is remote and battle zone. Jubaland state is likely to releases a statement on the attack shortly. Al-Shabaab has intensified attacks on Somali and foreign forces in Somalia in recent months as part of the group's bid to topple the UN-backed Federal Government.”

United Kingdom

Fox News: Northern Ireland Militants Planted Brexit Bomb, Investigators Say

“Authorities in Northern Ireland said Thursday that militants with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) planted a bomb on a truck that was intended to explode around the time the United Kingdom left the European Union (EU) on Friday. A Belfast newspaper had received a call on the day of Brexit saying there was a bomb on a truck at the Belfast docks, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. The caller said the truck was headed for a ferry to Scotland. Another call was made to the same newspaper Monday with new information. After a daylong search, police found a bomb aboard a truck in the Northern Ireland town of Lurgan. Police Assistant Chief Constable George Clarke said the caller told authorities “the intention had been for that device to explode on Friday evening at around the time the United Kingdom left the European Union.” The bombers apparently picked the wrong truck, because the explosives-laden vehicle remained at a haulage company's yard in Lurgan until it was discovered. Police said they believed the bomb plot was the work of a group of pro-Irish militants known as the Continuity IRA.”

BBC News: Terror Offenders Due To Be Freed 'Told They Will Not Be' - Lawyer

“Terror offenders who were due to be released from prison in the next two months are being told they will not be let out under planned new laws. Earlier this week, the government said that new terror legislation to end automatic early release will apply to current as well as future offenders. Lawyer Simon Creighton said one client who was due to be freed in March had been told his release date has changed. Mr Creighton said a number of offenders were likely to challenge the new laws. “I'd imagine it's inevitable that it will go the Supreme Court,” he said. Mr Creighton said those affected, who are currently serving sentences, were a “wide range” of offenders including animal rights activists, “people fighting Islamic terrorism with the Kurds”, and Islamist extremists.The government had already announced plans for tougher terror laws, including an end to automatic early release half-way through their sentence. Instead, it would be up to the Parole Board to decide if people convicted of terrorism offences should be released after serving two thirds of their sentence. But there were no proposals for the new measures to apply retrospectively, until last Sunday's attack in Streatham when convicted terror offender Sudesh Amman - who had been out of prison less than two weeks - stabbed two people.”

The Guardian: Terror Police's Extinction Rebellion 'Risk Report' Sent Out A Year Ago

“Counter-terrorism chiefs ordered a formal assessment of whether Extinction Rebellion was a national security threat one year ago and then sent a secret report about the group to police forces, the Guardian has learned. The revelation shows that counter-terrorism police’s interest in the non-violent climate emergency group began earlier and was more extensive than previously thought. Police insist that the confidential assessment, which was titled Rising Up, concluded that XR was not a terrorist or extremist threat, and was sent to regional counter-terrorism units and “policing partners”. They have declined to give any more detail about what it covered. The document from the Counter Terrorism Policing’s National Operations Centre (CTPNOC) was marked as sensitive and produced in February 2019, soon after XR was formed in October 2018. It was needed, police say, because the group was attracting a “large following” and counter-terrorism specialists needed to assess their “goals and methods”. The Guardian first revealed that a counter-terrorism document from November 2019 labelled XR as extremist last month, which police apologised for and withdrew only after its existence was made public.”

France

RFI: French Jihadists Appeal To UN To Avoid Death Penalty

“Five French jihadists sentenced to death in Iraq have appealed to the UN to pressure France to bring them home, their lawyer has said, adding they were suffering inhumane treatment. The prisoners are suffering “inhumane and degrading treatment inside Iraq's prisons,” lawyer Nabil Boudi told AFP Thursday. The French government is “perfectly informed of the situation” but has done nothing to stop it,” he alleged, emphasising that the state had a duty to offer consular protection to “all French citizens, without exception.” The five inmates are Brahim Nejara, Bilel Kabaoui, Leonard Lopez, Fodil Tahar Aouidate and Mourad Delhomme. They were among 11 jihadists sentenced to death last year in Iraq after being charged with belonging to the Islamic State armed group. Boudi has appealed to the United Nations Committee against Torture, which monitors the implementation by member states of the UN Convention against Torture, to “take provisional protective measures (...) to avoid the complainants suffering irreparable harm.” He has also called on the UN to condemn France for refusing to repatriate the men and try them on French soil.”

Germany

Bloomberg: A Far-Right Coup Galvanizes German Democracy

“Germans should be proud of the democracy they’ve built since 1949, as they behold the dramatic events unfolding in the otherwise sleepy regional capital of Erfurt, in the eastern state of Thuringia. Right-wing populists may grasp for power there as they do elsewhere in Europe and the world. But political culture in Germany, built upon the ruins of the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich, appears to be resolutely staring them down. It was only yesterday, on Feb. 5, that a far-right populist party, the AfD, engineered a tactical coup in the Thuringian state parliament that could have, or so it hoped, normalized extremism in German politics. But within hours, Germany’s entire political mainstream stood up in defiance. Protesters took to the streets in Erfurt, Berlin and other cities. By today, the coup was all but undone, and the country seems more united than ever against extremism. The AfD’s parliamentary maneuver involved secretly switching its support in the third round of balloting, thereby toppling the incumbent premier and helping instead to elect the obscure candidate of another party, the liberal Free Democrats, which has the smallest contingent in the chamber. His name is Thomas Kemmerich. Whether or not he had had a hunch of the AfD’s scheme is unclear.”

Southeast Asia

Fox News: Maldives Police Arrest 3 Men In Suspected ISIS Stabbing Attack

“Three men who may have connections to the Islamic State terrorist group were arrested in the Maldives on Thursday following a stabbing attack there that left three injured. The men allegedly targeted two Chinese nationals and an Australian on the island of Hulhumale Tuesday night, one of whom was a tourist, according to Sky News. The Maldives Police Service said it was now investigating a video circulating on social media “claiming to be related” to the violence. “We are continuously monitoring the status of the victims of this heinous attack,” police added in a statement. “Their condition is reported to be stable.” The video being looked at features a Maldivian extremist group that is affiliated with ISIS, Sky News reported, citing local media. The video reportedly shows three masked men – with one accusing the Maldives of being run by infidels and threatening follow-up attacks. Further details about the stabbing attack were not immediately available. Last year, police in the Maldives arrested a 35-year-old man whom U.S. authorities had identified as a recruiter for ISIS, Sky News adds.”