Eye on Extremism: February 13, 2024

New York Times: Israeli Raid In Rafah Rescues 2 Hostages And Kills Dozens, Officials Say

“Israeli special operations forces raided a building in the southern Gazan city of Rafah early Monday and freed two hostages held by Hamas, the military said, as Israel launched a wave of attacks that killed dozens of Palestinians in the city, according to the Gazan health ministry. The nighttime operation — only the second time Israeli forces said they had rescued captives in Gaza — prompted elation in Israel, where the fate of more than 100 people kidnapped during the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 has become one of the country’s highest priorities. But in Rafah, the raid fueled fear, mourning and panic among more than a million Palestinians who have crowded into the city, seeking refuge from Israeli military actions farther north. Palestinians feared that the raid presaged a full-fledged ground invasion into Rafah, and that the high death toll foretold much more mourning ahead. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has said that Israeli ground forces are preparing to enter Rafah with the goal of eliminating Hamas battalions there. The prospect of ground battles in the city, which is bracketed by a closed Egyptian border and invading Israeli forces, has created worldwide alarm over the risks to civilians who have nowhere else to flee.”

Associated Press: The Head Of UN’s Nuclear Watchdog Warns Iran Is ‘Not Entirely Transparent’ On Its Atomic Program

“The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog warned Tuesday that Iran is “not entirely transparent” regarding its atomic program, particularly after an official who once led Tehran’s program announced the Islamic Republic has all the pieces for a weapon “in our hands.” Speaking at the World Government Summit in Dubai, just across the Persian Gulf, Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, alluded to remarks made this weekend by Ali Akbar Salehi. Grossi noted “an accumulation of complexities” in the wider Middle East amid Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Iran, after the collapse of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, has pursued nuclear enrichment just below weapons-grade levels. Tehran has accumulated enough enriched uranium to build several weapons, if it so chose. However, U.S. intelligence agencies and others assess that Iran has yet to begin a weapons program. Israel long has been believed to have its own nuclear weapons program.”

CEP Mentions

Vice: Neo-Nazi Music Shows Return To Europe

“... Alexander Ritzmann, senior adviser at the Counter Extremism Project, said that events like the concerts acted as “central networking hubs” for transnational extreme right-wing movements.  “They have a social function - [to] ‘make fascism fun’ - and they are used to make money for the movement through ticket sales, merchandise and catering,” he told VICE News.  Key figures in the right-wing extremist underground would typically meet up around the event and discuss areas of collaboration, including potentially violent actions.”

Jerusalem Post: Texas A&M Potentially Compromised US Nuclear Security, Pulls Plug On Doha Campus

“... The Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Chief Executive Officer, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, said, “Qatar’s global isolation is rightly increasing every day. Texas A&M should be roundly applauded for rejecting sponsorship from a global funder of terrorism. Remaining universities with ties to Qatar must follow suit or risk severe reputational damage.”

Euronews: The UNRWA Case Reveals A Much Larger Problem With Humanitarian Aid

“Evidence implicating UNRWA employees in the 7 October terrorist attacks should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the activities of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees closely. Allegations that some UNRWA workers were in fact Hamas operatives are merely the latest iteration of a much larger problem plaguing the international aid sector. A stunning lack of oversight and regulation of humanitarian funds over the past several decades has allowed untold billions in taxpayer money to make their way into terrorists’ coffers.”

DW: So Far, Israel Hasn’t Achieved Militarily What It Wanted: Hans-Jakob Schindler

CEP Senior Director Hans-Jakob Schindler interview on DW News.


Reuters: Turkey Arrests Russian At Nuclear Plant In Islamic State Probe, Sources Say

“Turkish counter-terrorism police investigating the militant group Islamic State have detained a Russian citizen working at a nuclear power plant under construction on Turkey's southern coast, security sources said on Tuesday. The suspect was caught working under a fake identity at the $20-billion Akkuyu nuclear plant, which is being built by Russian conglomerate Rosatom in the Mediterranean province of Mersin, the sources added. Police in Mersin said that a Turkish court formally arrested the foreign national. Its statement did not specify the suspect's nationality or give further details on the operation. Last week, Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said Turkey had detained 147 people suspected of having ties to Islamic State in operations across 33 provinces. Last month, one Turkish citizen was killed by two Islamic State gunmen at the Italian Santa Maria Catholic Church in Istanbul. Turkish police detained two people suspected of carrying out the attack.”


Voice Of America: Analysts See Limits To China, Iran, Russia Collaboration With Taliban

“Since the Taliban seized control in August 2021, China, Iran and Russia have been steadily courting Afghanistan’s de facto government for influence. The three countries have kept their embassies open in Kabul and were among the first to hand over Afghan embassies to the Taliban at home. Last month, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran were the most high-profile participants at the Taliban’s first conference on regional cooperation in Kabul. But what are the real prospects of China, Russia, Iran and the Taliban cooperating in the region? Analysts tell VOA that while Beijing, Moscow and Tehran may be united in a common goal to oppose the U.S. in the region, that is perhaps the only area where their interests align, analysts say. “Anti-Americanism is the one idea” that brings China, Iran and Russia together, said Alex Vatanka, founding director of the Iran Program at the Middle East Institute in Washington. He told VOA that Tehran, Moscow and Beijing “want to push the United States out of Eurasia and Central Asia ... [but] how much can they on the operational level cooperate? That’s a big question.”


Voice Of America: Pakistan Reports Killing Of Two Top Islamic State Leaders

“Pakistan confirmed Monday that separate counterterrorism raids near the Afghan border within the past week had killed two senior leaders of a regional Islamic State affiliate known as Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K). Military officials identified the slain militant commanders as Surat Gul and Abdul Shakoor, also known as Abu Hamza. Both were targeted in intelligence-driven security operations in northwestern Khyber and southwestern Qila Saifullah districts. Interim Pakistani Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar told reporters in Islamabad that Abu Hamza had plotted two back-to-back bomb attacks against campaign gatherings in Qila Saifullah and the nearby Pishin border districts on the eve of national elections held last Thursday. “On the second day of the elections, February 9, an operation was conducted, and a prominent leader of Daesh was neutralized and eliminated in the same Qila Saifullah district,” Kakar said, referring to the killing of Abu Hamza. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for IS-K, which the United States and the United Nations say is operating out of bases in Afghanistan.”

Middle East

Jerusalem Post: Victims Of October 7 Demand Declaration Of UNRWA As Terror Group

“An initiative to declare UNRWA a terrorist organization is being spearheaded by the Shurat HaDin Law Center, representing dozens of October 7 massacre victims. Shurat HaDin's initiative is targeted toward the Defense Ministry. The organization argues that there is a solid legal basis for such a designation. Their opinion, comprised of arguments that extend over eight pages, was submitted to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Should Gallant accept the proposal, he can exercise his authority to declare UNRWA a terrorist organization but would be subjected to Shin Bet security recommendation services.”


The Guardian: Killing Of Three Women In A Week Sparks Femicide Protests In Somalia

“The deaths of three women in one week, all allegedly murdered by their husbands, has caused outrage in Somalia and sparked days of protests over the country’s femicide rates. Police have named the suspects in all three killings, which took place in the first week of February, as the dead women’s husbands. Two of the victims were pregnant. Even in a country where – after more than three decades of conflict – death and violence are part of everyday life, there have been demonstrations in the capital, Mogadishu, with protesters holding up placards showing photos of Lul Abdi Aziz Jazirain her hospital bed. The 28-year-old had been doused with petrol and set alight. She suffered severe burns and survived in agony for seven days after being attacked. Her brother, Amudi Abdi Aziz Jazira, said neighbours had heard a “ferocious argument” and later broken down a locked door to reach the badly burned woman and take her to hospital. Jazira, 28, was a widow with six children when she met her second husband at the airport in Mogadishu where she worked.”

United Kingdom

Reuters: UK Sanctions 'Extremist' Israeli Settlers In West Bank

“Britain imposed sanctions on four Israeli nationals on Monday, saying they were extremist settlers who had violently attacked Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The measures impose strict financial and travel restrictions on the four individuals, who Britain said were involved in "egregious abuses of human rights". "Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs," British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said. "This behaviour is illegal and unacceptable. Israel must also take stronger action and put a stop to settler violence. Too often, we see commitments made and undertakings given, but not followed through." Britain's Foreign Office said there had been unprecedented levels of violence by settlers in the West Bank over the past year. The U.S. also imposed sanctions earlier this month on four Israeli men it accused of being involved in settler violence in the West Bank.”


Reuters: Exclusive: France Proposes Hezbollah Withdrawal, Border Talks For Israel-Lebanon Truce

“France has delivered a written proposal to Beirut aimed at ending hostilities with Israel and settling the disputed Lebanon-Israel frontier, according to a document seen by Reuters that calls for fighters including Hezbollah's elite unit to withdraw 10 km (6 miles) from the border. The plan aims to end fighting between the Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel at the border. The hostilities have run in parallel to the Gaza war and are fueling concern of a ruinous, all-out confrontation. The document, the first written proposal brought to Beirut during weeks of Western mediation, was delivered to top Lebanese state officials including Prime Minister Najib Mikati by French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne last week, four senior Lebanese and three French officials said. It declares the aim of preventing a conflict "that risks spiraling out of control" and enforcing "a potential ceasefire, when the conditions are right" and ultimately envisions negotiations on delineation of the contentious land border between Lebanon and Israel. Hezbollah rejects formally negotiating a de-escalation until the war in Gaza ends, a position reiterated by a Hezbollah politician in response to questions for this story.”


Associated Press: Chief Of UN Aid Agency In Gaza Calls EU Funds ‘Absolutely Critical’ But The Bloc Wants An Audit

“The head of the U.N. agency that delivers most aid to people in Gaza expressed guarded optimism Monday that the European Union will provide it with a vital financial lifeline in coming weeks, although divisions within the EU threaten to derail the move. The aid agency UNRWA is reeling from allegations that 12 of its 13,000 Gaza staff members participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel. The agency immediately fired the employees, but more than a dozen countries suspended funding worth about $450 million, almost half of UNRWA’s budget for 2024. Speaking to reporters after talks with EU government ministers in Brussels, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini described the 82 million-euro ($88-million) payment due from the EU by March as “absolutely critical.” Lazzarini had previously warned that the agency, which has been the main supplier of food, water and shelter during the war in Gaza, might be forced to suspend its work by the end of the month. The war has displaced about 85% of the Palestinian territory’s population.”

Associated Press: Dutch Appeals Court Orders Netherlands To Stop Exports Of F-35 Parts To Israel, Citing War In Gaza

“An appeals court ordered the Dutch government on Monday to halt the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, citing a clear risk of violations of international law. A trio of human rights organizations brought a civil suit against the Netherlands in December, arguing authorities needed to reevaluate the export license in light of Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip.”


Associated Press: OpenAI CEO Warns That ‘Societal Misalignments’ Could Make Artificial Intelligence Dangerous

“The CEO of ChatGPT-maker OpenAI said Tuesday that the dangers that keep him awake at night regarding artificial intelligence are the “very subtle societal misalignments” that could make the systems wreak havoc. Sam Altman, speaking at the World Governments Summit in Dubai via a video call, reiterated his call for a body like the International Atomic Energy Agency to be created to oversee AI that’s likely advancing faster than the world expects. “There’s some things in there that are easy to imagine where things really go wrong. And I’m not that interested in the killer robots walking on the street direction of things going wrong,” Altman said. “I’m much more interested in the very subtle societal misalignments where we just have these systems out in society and through no particular ill intention, things just go horribly wrong.” However, Altman stressed that the AI industry, like OpenAI, shouldn’t be in the driver’s seat when it comes to making regulations governing the industry.”

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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