Eye on Extremism: February 2, 2024

New York Times: Manhattan Woman Convicted Of Using Crypto To Fund Terror Groups In Syria

“A Manhattan jury on Thursday found an Upper East Side woman guilty of funding terrorism after she used cryptocurrency to send financial support to several groups operating in Syria. The woman, Victoria Jacobs, 44, was accused by the Manhattan district attorney’s office last year of having provided more than $5,000 to Malhama Tactical, a military contractor that has been called “the Blackwater of jihad.” The group fought alongside Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist group designated a terrorist organization by the State Department. The conviction comes amid a debate between champions of cryptocurrency, who see the technology as an alternative to regulated finance, and skeptics who have pointed out its frequent use in fraud and other crimes. Federal judges are considering lawsuits by the nation’s top securities regulator against some of the cryptocurrency industry’s largest firms, which could curtail the technology’s use in this country.”

Associated Press: US Hints Large Response To Iran-Backed Militias Is Imminent As Houthi Rebels Target Another Ship

“Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday it’s time to further disable Iran-backed militias that have struck at U.S. forces and ships in the Middle East and the U.S. is preparing to take significant action in response to the deaths of three U.S. service members in Jordan. For days the U.S. has hinted strikes are imminent. While the threat of retaliation for Sunday’s deaths has driven some militant groups to say they were stopping hostilities, as late as Thursday Yemen’s Houthi rebels were still attacking vessels and fired a ballistic missile at a Liberian-flagged container ship in the Red Sea. “At this point, it’s time to take away even more capability than we’ve taken in the past,” Austin said Thursday in his first press conference since he was hospitalized on Jan. 1 due to complications from prostate cancer treatment.”

United States

Voice Of America: US Exploring Consular Return To Afghanistan Without Recognizing Taliban Rule

“The United States is cautiously exploring the possibility of reopening a consulate in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, according to a newly released strategy document from the State Department. The move signals a potential shift in U.S. policy toward limited engagement with the isolated Islamist regime, while aiming to achieve multiple security, political and economic objectives. “With the Taliban, we advocate for consular access, transparency and accountability for Americans; we also support the work of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs to obtain the release of Americans unjustly detained,” reads the recently approved Integrated Country Strategy Afghanistan, which was approved in October 2023. With the fall of the Afghan government in August 2021, the U.S. shut down its embassy in Kabul, marking a symbolic end to two decades of military and political engagement with Afghanistan.”

The Independent: Biden Authorizes Sanctions On Israeli Settlers For ‘Extremist Violence’ In West Bank

“President Joe Biden on Thursday signed an executive order granting the Treasury Department the power to issue sanctions against Israelis complicit in the illegal settlement movement, which has been blamed for provoking tensions between Palestinians and the Israeli government. In a message to Congress announcing the new sanctions, Mr Biden said he’d declared a national emergency “to deal with the threat posed by the situation in the West Bank, including in particular high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and property destruction”. “Such actions constitute a serious threat to the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel, and the broader Middle East region and undermine the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States,” he added.”

Iraq

CBS News: Plans For U.S. Strikes On Iranian Personnel And Facilities In Iraq, Syria Approved After Jordan Drone Attack

“U.S. officials have confirmed to CBS News that plans have been approved for a series of strikes over a number of days against targets — including Iranian personnel and facilities — inside Iraq and Syria. The strikes will come in response to drone and rocket attacks targeting U.S. forces in the region, including the drone attack on Sunday that killed three U.S. service members at the Tower 22 base inside Jordan, near the Syrian border. Speaking at the Pentagon Thursday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters that the U.S. won't tolerate attacks on American troops.”

Afghanistan

CBS: The Taliban Vowed To Cut Ties With Al Qaeda, But The Terror Group Appears To Be Growing In Afghanistan

“Al Qaeda has established eight new training camps and maintains several safehouses in Afghanistan, according to a report provided to the United Nations Security Council this week. The report, compiled by the council's committee created to monitor al Qaeda, indicates that the Taliban has not honored its pledge to the U.S. – outlined in the Doha agreement – to sever ties with the terror group, and that the two organizations remain close. The Taliban has provided increased protection and support for al Qaeda members since regaining control over Afghanistan in 2021, when U.S. forces pulled out, the report says. According to the report presented to the Security Council, the group behind the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the U.S. has established "up to eight new training camps in Afghanistan, including four in Ghazni, Laghman, Parwan and Uruzgan Provinces, with a new base to stockpile weaponry in the Panjshir Valley.”

Associated Press: UN Experts: Terrorist Threat Is High In Africa Conflict Zones And Afghanistan, And Rose In Europe

“The terrorist threat from al-Qaida, the Islamic State group and their affiliates remains high in conflict zones in Africa and in Afghanistan – and threat levels have risen in some regions including Europe, U.N. experts said in a new report. The panel of experts said in the 23-page report that the relationship between Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers and al-Qaida remains close, and unnamed member states report that “the high concentration of terrorist groups” in the country are undermining the security situation in the region. The greatest threat within Afghanistan still comes from the Islamic State “with its ability to project into the region and beyond,” the experts said in the report to the U.N. Security Council covering the period until Dec. 16, 2023 which was circulated Wednesday. Regionally, they pointed to a succession of attacks in neighboring Iran and Pakistan and threats in Central Asian nations.”

Europe

AFP: Sweden Probing Foiled Israel Embassy Attack As 'Terrorist Crime': Security Service

“Sweden's intelligence service said Friday that the investigation into a foiled attack on the Israeli embassy in Stockholm this week was being probed as a potential "terrorist crime." Police were called to the embassy on Wednesday after a "dangerous object" was discovered on its grounds, which the national bomb squad destroyed after determining it was "live". Police declined to comment on what the object was but media have reported it was a hand grenade. "The preliminary investigation launched by the Swedish Police Authority on January 31, following the discovery of a dangerous object at the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm, has been taken over by the Swedish Security Service," the service said in a statement.”

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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