Eye on Extremism: February 12, 2024

Associated Press: Foreign Aid Drops Sharply As Taliban Abuses Jeopardize The Afghan Health System, Group Says

“Human Rights Watch said Monday that Afghanistan’s public health system has been hit hard following a sharp reduction in foreign assistance, coupled with serious Taliban abuses against women and girls, jeopardizing the right to healthcare of millions of Afghans. In a new report, the New York-based watchdog said this has left the “Afghan population increasingly vulnerable to severe malnutrition and illness” among other effects of inadequate medical care. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 drove millions into poverty and hunger after foreign aid stopped almost overnight. Sanctions against the Taliban rulers, a halt on bank transfers and frozen billions in Afghanistan’s currency reserves, have cut off access to global institutions and the outside money that supported the aid-dependent economy before the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces. In 2023, the World Food Program warned that malnutrition rates in Afghanistan were at a record high with half the country suffering from severe hunger throughout the year.”

Associated Press: Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Suspected Of Missile Attack Targeting A Ship In The Bab El-Mandeb Strait

“A ship came under attack by two missiles in the key Bab el-Mandeb Strait on Monday, the latest assault believed to have been carried out by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. No one was wounded in the attack and the ship was continuing on its journey, the British military’s United Kingdom Trade Operations center said in a statement. It wasn’t clear how much damage was done to the ship. The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack, but it often takes the rebels several hours to acknowledge their assaults. The rebels have been attacking ships in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since November over Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. That has disrupted shipments through the waterways and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, which connects them.”

CEP Mentions

Medium: With Texas A&M In Qatar Set To Close By 2028, What’s Next?

“... A month after the genocide, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, CEO of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), urged U.S. universities in Qatar to demand the Royal Family hand over Hamas leaders. He criticized universities, including Texas A&M, for operating in a country he considers a state sponsor of “terrorism” and “extremism.”

United States

Associated Press: Biden Welcomes King Of Jordan As Framework For Hostage Deal Is Decided In Israel-Hamas Conflict

“President Joe Biden is hosting Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Washington Monday and the two leaders are expected to discuss the ongoing effort to free hostages held in Gaza, and growing concern over a possible Israeli military operation in the port city of Rafah. It is the first meeting between the allies since three American troops were killed last month in a drone strike against a U.S. base in Jordan. Biden blamed Iran-backed militias for the fatalities, the first for the U.S. after months of strikes by such groups against American forces across the Middle East since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.”

Business Insider: The US Strikes On Iran-Linked Militants Seem To Be Working, But That Likely Won't Last Long

“Strikes against American troops in Iraq and Syria have dropped off after the blitz of US airstrikes last Friday and the assassination of a militia commander by drone. But experts on the region say that Iran and its militant allies still have the arsenal and motivations to threaten the US. “Attacks on US forces in Iraq have dropped off very significantly since the Jan. 28 killing of three Americans,” Michael Knights, an Iraq expert at the Washington Institute, told Business Insider, adding “we cannot know” if US airstrikes were the “decisive factor.” The Biden administration is walking a security and political tightrope. Failure to respond to the deadly drone attack that also injured over 40 US troops is politically fraught, especially in an election year; Republican presidential contenders said the attack showed President Joe Biden was weak, or that the US should strike Iran itself — a tactic the administration has so far avoided because it risks a more dangerous confrontation.”

Reuters: US Confronts Dangers From 'Not Very Good' Iran-Backed Militants

“More than a month before a deadly drone strike that killed three U.S. soldiers in Jordan, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin sought to reassure U.S. troops about the military's ability to withstand attacks by Iran-backed militants. Austin, in previously unpublished remarks to sailors aboard the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier on Dec. 20, said the number one reason the militants had failed to that point was that "they're not very good at what they do." "Every day, Iranian proxies are shooting at our troops that are in Iraq and Syria. They haven't been effective at all because (of) two reasons: Number one, they're not very good at what they do," Austin told the crew.”

Iran

Politico: Iran Marks 45th Anniversary Of Islamic Revolution Amid Regional Tensions

“Iran marked Sunday the 45th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution amid tensions gripping the wider Middle East over Israel’s continued war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Thousands of Iranians marched through major streets and squares decorated with flags, balloons and banners with revolutionary and religious slogans. In Tehran, crowds waved Iranian flags, chanted slogans, and carried placards with the traditional “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” written on them. Some burned U.S. and Israeli flags, a common practice in pro-government rallies.”

Associated Press: Iran Vows To Keep Backing Hezbollah During Regional Tensions Linked To Israel-Hamas War

“Iran’s foreign minister vowed after arriving in Beirut on Friday to keep supporting the militant Hezbollah group, saying Lebanon’s security affects that of Iran and the region. Hossein Amirabdollahian was welcomed by representatives of Lebanon’s Hezbollah as well as the militant Palestinian group Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran, a main backer of the militant groups, has been calling on the U.S. to pressure Israel to stop its offensive in the Gaza Strip. Hezbollah began attacks along Lebanon’s border with Israel on Oct. 8 after 17 years of relative calm, a day after Hamas launched its attack on southern Israel that triggered the ongoing war. Hezbollah officials have said they will stop attacking Israeli military posts when Israel’s attack on Gaza ends.”

Iraq

Associated Press: Iraq Says US Troop Drawdown Talks Will Go On ‘As Long As Nothing Disturbs The Peace Of The Talks’

“Iraq and the U.S.-led military coalition resumed meetings Sunday on how to draw down troops who have been deployed there for years combating the Islamic State. The first long-awaited meeting took place Jan. 27, but had since been put on pause after Iran-backed militants struck a U.S. outpost in Jordan the very next day with a drone that killed three U.S. service members. In the weeks since, the U.S. has launched multiple retaliatory strikes in Iraq and Syria including a strike last week that killed a high-ranking commander of the powerful Kataib Hezbollah militia who the U.S. said is responsible for “directly planning and participating in attacks” on American troops in the region. Both Iraq and the U.S. had agreed last August to enter into talks to transition U.S. and coalition forces from their long-standing role in assisting Iraq in combating ISIS.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: 2 Afghans Who Were Detained At Guantanamo Bay For 14 Years Have Been Released, The Taliban Say

“Two Afghan prisoners who were held in U.S. custody for at least 14 years at the Guantanamo Bay detention center after 2002 were released from house arrest in Oman, a Taliban spokesman said Sunday. Abdul Zahir Saber and Abdul Karim were released as a result of the efforts made by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Taliban interior ministry spokesman Abdul Mateen Qani said. Senior Taliban officials posted photographs of Saber and Karim on social media with messages of congratulations. An official welcome ceremony is being organized in the capital, Kabul, for their return on Monday, Qani said. The two men were held in Guantanamo until 2017, when they were transferred to the Gulf kingdom of Oman, where they spent the next seven years under house arrest, forbidden to travel.”

Yemen

Bloomberg: Houthis Say They Hit Ship Owned By US-Listed Firm In Red Sea

“Houthi militants targeted the Star Iris with “suitable naval missiles” in the Red Sea, Yahya Saree, a spokesman for the Iran-backed group, said in a statement posted on X. The Marshall Islands-flagged vessel is owned by US-listed Star Bulk Carriers Corp. and was traveling southward through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, according to ship-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Israeli Forces Rescue 2 Hostages In Dramatic Gaza Raid That Killed At Least 67 Palestinians

“Israeli forces rescued two hostages early Monday, storming a heavily guarded apartment in the Gaza Strip and extracting the captives under fire in a dramatic raid that was a small but symbolically significant success for Israel. The operation killed at least 67 Palestinians, including women and children, according to Palestinian health officials in the beleaguered territory. To assist the rescue forces, heavy airstrikes pounded the area near the apartment in Rafah, a city on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip where 1.4 million Palestinians have fled to escape fighting elsewhere in the Israel-Hamas war. The raid was celebrated in Israel as a victory in the sluggish battle to free the hostages, with more than 100 captives still held by Hamas and other Gaza militants, and briefly lifted the spirits of a nation still reeling from Hamas’ cross-border raid last year. But in Gaza, where civilians have borne a staggering toll since the war erupted on Oct. 7, the operation unleashed another wartime tragedy, with many Palestinians killed or wounded.”

Reuters: Palestinian Figure Close To Hamas Survives Israeli Strike In Lebanon, Three Others Killed, Sources Say

“An Israeli strike about 60 km (40 miles) inside Lebanon's southern border on Saturday targeted a Palestinian figure close to Hamas but he survived, four security sources said. Three other people were killed, including one member of the powerful, Iran-backed Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, the security sources also told Reuters. One source said the person targeted was close to Saleh al-Arouri, the Hamas deputy chief killed last month in a suspected Israeli strike on a suburb of Beirut.”

Nigeria

Reuters: Two Suicide Bombers Kill Around 30 In Northern Nigeria

“Suicide bombers killed around 30 people in two blasts in northern Nigeria on Tuesday, witnesses and a state governor said, the latest attacks in a renewed offensive by suspected Boko Haram insurgents. There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attacks but they bore hallmarks of the Islamist militant group, which has bombed several towns and cities in northern Nigeria in the last 10 days after months when they were thought to be hiding out in the Sambisa forest. Last week, more than 200 people died in a string of attacks in Africa's top oil producer, piling pressure on new President Muhammadu Buhari who is trying to work with neighbouring states to quell the insurgency. An attacker detonated a device on Tuesday at a local government building on the outskirts of the city of Zaria, killing 25 people and wounding 32 others, Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, said on Twitter. Zinari Shehu, a local radio journalist, said the bomb went off in a suburb where people had gathered to greet a newly-appointed head administrator. There were conflicting reports as to whether the bomber was male or female.”

Somalia

Reuters: At Least Five Dead After Soldier Opens Fire At Military Base In Mogadishu

“At least five people, including Somali military officials and a United Arab Emirates (UAE) soldier, were killed on Saturday after a soldier opened fire at a military base in the capital Mogadishu, an army officer and hospital staff told Reuters. The UAE's defence ministry, however, said three members of its armed forces and one Bahraini officer were killed in a "terrorist act" in Somalia while they were training Somali armed forces. Two more were injured, the ministry added in a statement. The ministry did not give other details about the attack but said the UAE "continues to coordinate and cooperate with the Somali government in investigating" the act. The gunman, a newly trained Somali soldier, was also shot dead at the Gordon military base managed by the UAE, said the army officer, who gave his name only as Ahmed. "The soldier opened fire on the UAE trainers and Somali military officials when they started praying. Four UAE officers were injured while four Somali soldiers died," the officer told Reuters.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On February 26, 2015, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a market in Biu, Nigeria, killing 19 people and injuring 20 others. A second attempted-suicide bomber was caught and beaten by a crowd before he was able to carry out his attack.

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