Eye on Extremism: February 23, 2024

Reuters: Houthis To Step Up Red Sea Strikes, Use 'Submarine Weapons', Leader Says

“Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis claimed responsibility for an attack on a UK-owned cargo ship and a drone assault on an American destroyer on Thursday, and they targeted Israel's port and resort city of Eilat with ballistic missiles and drones. The statement by a Houthi representative on social media site X came shortly after the group's leader said it was ramping up attacks on ships in the Red Sea and other waters - including with new "submarine weapons" - to mirror Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip. Houthi militants have launched repeated drone and missile strikes in the Red Sea, Bab al-Mandab Strait and Gulf of Aden since November in support of Palestinians, as the Israel-Hamas war continues and the Gaza death toll reaches almost 30,000. "Operations in the Red and Arabian Seas, Bab al-Mandab Strait, and the Gulf of Aden are continuing, escalating, and effective," Abdul Malik al-Houthi added in a televised speech. He gave no details of the submarine weapons.”

Reuters: Israel's Netanyahu Presents First Official Post-Gaza War Plan

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented a "day after" plan for Gaza, his first official proposal for when the war in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory ends. According to the document, presented to members of Israel's security cabinet on Thursday and seen by Reuters on Friday, Israel would maintain security control over all land west of Jordan, including the occupied West Bank and Gaza - territories where the Palestinians want to create an independent state. In the long-term goals listed, Netanayhu rejects the "unilateral recognition" of a Palestinian state. He says a settlement with the Palestinians will only be achieved through direct negotiations between the two sides - but it did not name who the Palestinian party would be. In Gaza, Netanyahu outlines demilitarization and deradicalization as goals to be achieved in the medium term. He does not elaborate on when that intermediary stage would begin or how long it would last. But he conditions the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, much of which has been laid to waste by Israel's offensive, on its complete demilitarization.”

CEP Mentions

The National: Elon Musk's X Selling Subscription Services To Extremist Groups, Report Says

“... Accepting even small amounts of money could be construed as "material support", according to the senior director of the Counter Extremism Project, Hans-Jakob Schindler. Under US law, X is legally obliged to refrain from providing services to sanctioned groups in exchange for payment, and must promptly report illicit transactions to appropriate authorities. "While some steps seem to have been taken to address this issue, X's belated response to this oversight, and only in the face of public scrutiny, is insufficient", Mr Schindler said. The company's actions remain "deeply concerning and demonstrate an apparent disregard for its legal obligations", he added. "If X continues to grant subscriptions to accounts affiliated with designated terrorist organisations and individuals, it raises serious questions about the company’s commitment to the law. Social media platforms must remember that the First Amendment does not protect terrorism financing.”

United States

New York Times: Biden Lawyers Wrestle With Lack Of Congressional Blessing For Houthi Conflict

“The large-scale military strikes the United States has directed at the Houthis, an Iran-backed militant group in Yemen that has disrupted shipping in the Red Sea, has forced the Biden administration to wrestle over what it can do without congressional approval. The question has helped fuel at least two major legal policy dilemmas, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations among national security lawyers: One is how a Vietnam-era law that was intended to limit wars that lack congressional authorization applies to the conflict, and the other is what to do with captured detainees. On Thursday, a senior administration official offered the most detailed account to date about its view of the Vietnam-era law, the War Powers Resolution, and the Justice Department disclosed that it had taken custody of 14 prisoners the military had been holding for over a month. Together, the developments shed light on what the Biden administration sees as the scope and limits of its power in the conflict with the Houthis, part of the widening regional conflagration that has spun out of the Israel-Hamas war following. the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks and Israel’s invasion of Gaza.”

Associated Press: Biden Ally Meets Arab American Leaders In Michigan And Tries To Lower Tensions Over Israel-Hamas War

“As Thursday dawned in Dearborn, Michigan, Arab American leaders entered a local coffee shop and greeted Rep. Ro Khanna of California before pulling up chairs at a table. Over the next two hours, the leaders spoke about how they were personally affected by the war in Gaza and criticized President Joe Biden over the growing number of Palestinians killed in the Israeli offensive after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. Khanna, a Biden campaign surrogate who organized the meeting independently, listened intently. It was a rare unfiltered conversation between two sides that have grown further apart. And after a day of meetings, it seemed unlikely that the two sides could come back together unless the administration changes course on a ceasefire in Gaza, which both the White House and Israel oppose. While Biden is expected to cruise to victory in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, the president’s allies are also looking to stave off potential embarrassment from a statewide push for Michigan Democrats to vote “uncommitted.” Michigan’s Arab American community has largely refused to meet with anyone connected to Biden in recent weeks and many leaders — including Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib — have pushed for an “uncommitted” to send a message about Biden’s handling of the war.”


Associated Press: Man Who Intentionally Drove His Truck Into A Muslim Family, Killing 4, Gets Life Sentence In Canada

“A man found guilty of using his pickup truck to kill four members of a Muslim family was sentenced Thursday to life in prison as a Canadian judge ruled that the actions of the admitted white nationalist amounted to terrorism. Nathaniel Veltman has also been sentenced to a concurrent life sentence for the attempted murder of a boy who survived the 2021 attack. Veltman, 23, was found guilty in November of four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder for hitting the Afzaal family with his truck while they were out for a walk. Prosecutors argued that Veltman purposely ran his truck into the Afzaal family while they were out for a walk on June 6, 2021, to intimidate Muslims into leaving Canada. The defense sought to show he wasn’t criminally liable saying he had mental health problems. Justice Renee Pomerance, who presided over the trial, delivered her sentencing decision to a packed London, Ontario, courtroom on Thursday. Adults found guilty of first-degree murder in Canada face an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.”


Associated Press: International Watchdog Investigation Finds Islamic State Used Mustard Gas In 2015 Attack In Syria

“An international investigative team said Thursday that its probe into a 2015 attack in Syria found “reasonable grounds to believe” that the Islamic State group used mustard gas, the latest finding of use of poison gas and nerve agents in Syria’s grinding civil war. The report by the Investigation and Identification team of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that mustard gas, also known as sulfur mustard, was used during attacks on Sept. 1, 2015, as Islamic State attacked the town of Marea. The investigation “established that the chemical payload was deployed by artillery from areas under the control of ISIL, and that no entity other than ISIL possessed the means, motives, and capabilities to deploy sulfur mustard as part of an attack in Marea,” its report said, referring to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. “This is a stark reminder to the international community that non-state actors like ISIL have developed the capacity and the will to use chemical weapons.” OPCW Director-General Ambassador Fernando Arias said. “This emphasises the OPCW’s pivotal role and expertise in addressing such threats. The facts are now known – it is up to the international community to take action, at the OPCW and beyond.”


Associated Press: Taliban Hold Public Execution For 2 Men, Who Are Killed By Gunfire In A Stadium As Thousands Watch

“Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban carried out a double public execution Thursday at a stadium in the country’s southeast, where relatives of the victims of stabbing deaths fired guns at two convicted men while thousands of people watched. The Taliban’s Supreme Court ruled that the two men were responsible for the stabbing deaths of two victims in separate attacks, according to a court statement. It identified the two as Syed Jamal from central Wardak province and Gul Khan from Ghazni — though it was unclear who carried out the stabbings, the two convicted men or others. The statement also said that three lower courts and the Taliban’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, had ordered the executions in retribution for their purported crimes. On Thursday, people crowded outside the stadium in the Ali Lala area of the city of Ghazni, clambering to get in. Religious scholars pleaded with relatives of the victims to forgive the convicts, but they refused. Abu Abu Khalid Sarhadi, a spokesman for Ghazni police, said that relatives of the victims executed the two men. He did not say what type of guns they used.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Why Isn’t Desperately Needed Aid Reaching Palestinians In Gaza?

“From the earliest days of the Israel-Hamas war, the United States and much of the international community have pressed Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. But as the fighting rages on with no end in sight, the humanitarian catastrophe there has only worsened. United Nations agencies and aid groups say the ongoing hostilities, the Israeli military’s refusal to facilitate deliveries and the breakdown of order inside Gaza make it increasingly difficult to bring vital aid to much of the coastal enclave. The World Food Program said Tuesday it has paused food deliveries to isolated northern Gaza, where the U.N. children’s agency says one in six children are acutely malnourished. A U.N. report in December found that a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are starving. “You find that there are people who have missed meals for a day or two days or three days — they have severe hunger,” Matthew Hollingworth, country director for WFP, said Wednesday. “But you also have people who have acute hunger, that is, they are not eating for a week.”

Associated Press: Mideast Cease-Fire Efforts Gain Steam As US Envoy Visits. Mediators Report ‘Encouraging’ Signs

“International efforts to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas appeared to gain new momentum Thursday as the White House said a visit by a senior envoy with Israeli leaders was “going well” and other mediators reported encouraging signs from the warring parties. The new signs of progress came ahead of an expected summit this weekend in Paris, where mediators plan to present a new proposal. The U.S., Egypt and Qatar have been struggling for weeks to find a formula that could halt Israel’s devastating offensive in Gaza, but now face an unofficial deadline as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches. White House Mideast envoy Brett McGurk held talks throughout the day with Israeli leaders and families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas. “The initial indications we’re getting from Brett are these discussions are going well,” said White House spokesman John Kirby. A Western diplomat involved in the efforts said both sides want a pause. “What we have heard from our partners is that they are willing to give concessions,” she said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss closed-door diplomacy. “Time is pressing them.”

Reuters: Israel To Join Truce Talks In Paris, Media Says, Amid Heavy Gaza Bombardment

“Israel will send negotiators on Friday to truce talks in Paris, Israeli media said, as Gazans hoped for a ceasefire that could hold off a full-blown Israeli assault on Rafah, after it endured one of its worst bombardments of the conflict. nIsrael's Channel 12 television reported on Thursday that the war cabinet approved sending negotiators, led by the head of Israel's Mossad intelligence service, to Paris for talks on a potential deal to free more than 100 hostages whom Palestinian militant group Hamas is believed to be holding. The head of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, has been in Egypt this week in the strongest sign in weeks that negotiations remain alive. Earlier Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement, "We will expand the authority given to our hostage negotiators" while preparing to continue intense ground operations. In the night to Thursday, Israeli bombing flattened a mosque and destroyed homes in Rafah in a fierce surge of violence in the city where over half of the Gaza's 2.3 million people are huddled, mostly in tents.”


Associated Press: Rape And Sexual Violence In Sudan’s Ongoing Conflict May Amount To War Crimes, A New UN Report Says

“The U.N. human rights office said in a new report Friday that scores of people, including children, have been subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence in the ongoinng conflict in Sudan, assaults that may amount to war crimes. Sudan plunged into chaos in mid-April when clashes erupted in the capital, Khartoum, between rival Sudanese forces — the country’s military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and a paramilitary faction known as the Rapid Support Forces, under the command of Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo. The fighting quickly spread across the African country, especially urban areas but also the restive western Darfur region, and has so far killed at least 12,000 people and sent over 8 million fleeing their homes, the report said. The report, which covers a period from the outbreak of the fighting up to Dec. 15, documents abuses in a country that has been largely inaccessible to aid groups and rights monitors recently, clouding the impact of a conflict that been overshadowed by wars in places like Gaza and Ukraine.”

United Kingdom

The Independent: IS Bride Loses Her Appeal Over The Removal Of Her UK Citizenship

“A woman who traveled to Syria as a teenager to join the Islamic State group lost her appeal Friday against the British government's decision to revoke her U.K. citizenship. Shamima Begum, who is now 24, was 15 when she and two other girls fled from London in February 2015 to marry IS fighters in Syria at a time when the group’s online recruitment program lured many impressionable young people to its self-proclaimed caliphate. Begum married a Dutch man fighting for IS and had three children, who all died. Authorities withdrew her British citizenship on national security grounds soon after she surfaced in a Syrian refugee camp in 2019. Her lawyers brought a bid to overturn that decision at the Court of Appeal, with Britain's Home Office opposing the challenge. All three judges dismissed her case. “It could be argued the decision in Ms. Begum’s case was harsh," Chief Justice Sue Carr said in relaying the ruling. "It could also be argued that Ms. Begum is the author of her own misfortune. But it is not for this court to agree or disagree with either point of view.”

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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