Eye on Extremism: February 26, 2024

Associated Press: US And British Strikes On Houthi Sites In Yemen Answer Militants’ Surge In Red Sea Attacks On Ships

“The U.S. and Britain struck 18 Houthi targets in Yemen, answering a recent surge in attacks by the Iran-backed militia group on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, including a missile strike this past week that set fire to a cargo vessel. According to U.S. officials, American and British fighter jets on Saturday hit sites in eight locations, targeting missiles, launchers, rockets, drones and air defense systems. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to provide early details of an ongoing military operation. This is the fourth time that the U.S. and British militaries have conducted a combined operation against the Houthis since Jan. 12. But the U.S. has also been carrying out almost daily strikes to take out Houthi targets, including incoming missiles and drones aimed at ships, as well as weapons that were prepared to launch. The U.S. F/A-18 fighter jets launched from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier, which is currently in the Red Sea, officials said.”

BBC: Burkina Faso: At Least 15 Dead In Catholic Church Attack

“It took place during Sunday worship in Essakane village in Oudalan province - close to the border with Mali. Few details have been given. A church official indicated the gunmen were suspected Islamist militants. There was no immediate response from the authorities in the West African country's capital, Ouagadougou. A statement by the head of the local diocese, Abbot Jean-Pierre Sawadogo, said 12 people were killed instantly, while three others died at the hospital. "In this painful circumstance, we invite you to pray for those who died in faith, for the healing of the wounded, and for the consolidation of grieving hearts," the statement reads. It is the latest atrocity in the country to be attributed to Islamist militants. More than a third of Burkina Faso is currently under the control of insurgents. The authorities have been battling Islamist groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State, which have taken over large swathes of land and displaced millions of people in the Sahel region.”

CEP Mentions

The Spectator: Why Prevent Is Still Failing To Tackle Islamist Extremism

“What is the core mission of the Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy? When William Shawcross presented his review of our flagship counter extremism programme last year, he was clear: it was to stop people turning into tomorrow’s terrorists. The Home Office agreed, at least politically. How’s that going? A year after Shawcross reported on Prevent’s departure from counter terror watchdog into a lop sided safeguarding creche for every sort of ‘vulnerability’ under the sun, the Government has reported mission accomplished.”

The Telegraph: Spineless Politicians Have Legalised ‘Minor’ Crime

“Shoplifting is not a victimless crime. Where it has become a normal feature of criminal impunity now rampant in many poor communities, it forces vital shops to close down. When the lights go out on neighbourhood convenience stores because small businesses are overwhelmed by theft, it’s yet another nail in the coffin for postcodes marooned in crime. The consequences of supposedly minor infractions are immense. The problem of shoplifting is endemic: even the Co-Op, who have been forced to spend over £200 million in the last few years to protect staff and stock, say some of its stores are becoming financially unviable. Security measures are no match for brazen thieves who clear whole shelves in minutes.”

Crisis Reporting Resource: The Russian Nationalists Fighting On Ukraine’s Side

“There are two scenarios,” says Alexander Ritzmann, head of the Counter Extremism Project’s office on far-right violence and terrorism, speaking to iMEdD about the RVC’s ties with the Ukrainian government. “Either the Ukrainian government is utilising the actions of these groups as a form of psychological and communication warfare against Putin and Russia – suggesting that a Russian group is invading Russia to free Russians from Putin. Alternatively, Kapustin, who has been living in Ukraine for many years, may have managed to establish personal connections that allow him, unofficially, access to weapons and equipment.”


Voice Of America: IS Landmine Kills 14 Truffle Hunters In Syria Desert

“A blast Sunday from a landmine left by the Islamic State group killed 14 people foraging for truffles in the Syrian desert, state media said. "Fourteen citizens were killed, and eight others injured after a landmine left by IS terrorists exploded while they were collecting truffles in the Raqa desert," said Syria's official news agency SANA.”


Associated Press: Iraq Has Captured 2 Wanted Islamic State Group Members From Abroad And Brought Them Home

“Iraq’s authorities have captured two members of the Islamic State group in an operation outside the country and brought them home, where they confessed to committing crimes during the rule of the extremist organization, the intelligence department said Saturday. A statement by the Iraqi National Intelligence Service didn’t say where the two men were captured and released a video showing them blindfolded and handcuffed while aboard a small plane. The two men later appeared in a video in yellow uniforms speaking about their role within the extremist group. The announcement came after Iraq and the United States began formal talks last month aimed at winding down the mission of a U.S.-led military coalition formed to fight IS. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has contended that the Iraqi security forces are capable of dealing with the remaining IS cells in the country and the coalition’s presence is no longer needed. The roughly 2,500 U.S. troops are scattered around the country, largely in military installations in Baghdad and in the north.”


Associated Press: The Taliban Release An 84-Year-Old Austrian Man Who Was Detained In Afghanistan Last Year

“An 84-year-old Austrian man who traveled to Afghanistan last year and was arrested there was released by the country’s Taliban rulers, the Austrian government said Sunday. The Austrian Foreign Ministry in a statement identified the man as Herbert Fritz and said he arrived in Doha, Qatar from Afghanistan on Sunday afternoon. If necessary, he will be given medical treatment before continuing on to Austria, it said. A spokeswoman for the Austrian Foreign Ministry told the Associated Press that Fritz had been held in a prison in Kabul. He was not immediately available for comment. Writing on X, formerly Twitter, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer thanked the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and his team for their “strong support in releasing one of our citizens from prison in Afghanistan.” “It is only due to our trusted collaboration that this Austrian citizen will be able to return home to his daughter and grandchildren,” Nehammer said. Qatar’s Foreign Affairs ministry released a statement on X expressing gratitude to the “caretaker government in Afghanistan” for releasing the Austrian.”

Voice Of America: Taliban Execute Convicted Killer In Afghan Sports Stadium

“Afghanistan’s Taliban Monday carried out another public execution of a man charged with murder, defying international calls to stop the “inhuman” punishments. It was the third public execution within a week. The Taliban Supreme Court said in an announcement that the execution had taken place in a sports stadium in Sheberghan, the capital of the northern Afghan province of Jowzjan. It said that government and judicial officials, as well as residents, were among the spectators. The executed person was found guilty of stabbing to death a young man in 2022. The statement said he was tried in three Islamic courts and subsequent appellate tribunals before the judicial “order of retaliation was issued and approved” in line with Islamic law of Sharia. The punishment was enforced after the Taliban supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, examined the ruling and endorsed it, the court said.  FILE - A member of the Taliban and other people stand at the site during the execution of three men in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, April 18, 2015. On Feb. 22, 2024, Taliban authorities publicly executed two men convicted of murder in separate cases.”


Reuters: US Says Yemen's Houthis Ballistic Missile Misses US Tanker Torm Thor

“The U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said early on Monday that Yemen's Houthis launched one anti-ship ballistic missile likely targeting the MV Torm Thor, but missed the U.S.-flagged, owned and operated oil tanker, in the Gulf of Aden on Feb. 24. The missile impacted the water causing no damage nor injuries, CENTCOM added in a post on X. The Iran-aligned group said on Sunday that they targeted the tanker, as the militants continue to attack shipping lanes in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza. The U.S. military also shot down in "self-defence" two one-way unmanned aerial attack vehicles over the southern Red Sea on Sunday, said CENTCOM. The Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, have launched exploding drones and missiles at commercial vessels since Nov. 19 as a protest against Israel's military operations in Gaza. The turmoil from Israel's war with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has spilled over to some extent into other parts of the Middle East. Apart from the Houthi attacks on vital shipping lanes, Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group has traded fire with Israel along the Israel-Lebanon border and Iraqi militia have attacked bases that host U.S. forces.”

Reuters: US, British Forces Carry Out More Strikes Against Houthis In Yemen

“U.S. and British forces carried out strikes against more than a dozen Houthi targets in Yemen on Saturday, officials said, the latest round of military action against the Iran-linked group that continues to attack shipping in the region. The United States has carried out near daily strikes against the Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen and have said their attacks on shipping are in solidarity with Palestinians as Israel strikes Gaza.”

Saudi Arabia

Reuters: Israeli Industry Minister Meets Saudi Counterpart At WTO Talks In UAE

“Israeli Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat met his Saudi counterpart on the sidelines of a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Abu Dhabi on Monday, voicing confidence the countries can "make history together", Barkat's spokesperson said. The photographed meeting with Saudi Commerce Minister Majid bin Abdullah al-Qasabi was a rarity given the lack of formal relations between the countries, though the United States has sought to bring them closer.  "The State of Israel is interested in peace with peace-seeking countries, and we can make history together," Barkat told Qasabi, according to the Israeli minister's office. Barkat and Qasabi are attending the WTO ministerial conference, which aims to set new global commerce rules. Saudi Arabia's embassy in Abu Dhabi did not immediately respond to a emailed request for comment on the meeting between the two ministers.”


Associated Press: 2 Lebanese Men Ordered Detained For Bringing 146 Syrian Refugees To Cyprus By Boat

“A court in Cyprus on Saturday ordered two men to remain in police custody for six days on suspicion of people smuggling. The men were identified as the drivers of two boats that brought 146 Syrian refugees and one Lebanese migrant to the east Mediterranean island nation. Police said the suspects are Lebanese nationals aged 19 and 21. According to police, the refugees said during questioning that they departed from the Lebanese city of Tripoli on Thursday, Feb. 22 and each paid $2,500 for a place aboard the boats. One boat carried 30 people, including 6 women and 11 minors. Aboard the second boat were 117 people, including 8 women and 17 minors. Police spotted both vessels Saturday afternoon off Cape Greco on the island’s southeastern tip. All the migrants were escorted ashore and later taken to a migrant reception center just outside the capital Nicosia. The President of Cyprus said earlier this month that the European Union won’t serve its own best interests if it doesn’t consider designating some parts of Syria as safe zones so refugees and migrants can return there.”

Associated Press: Israel Vows To Target Lebanon’s Hezbollah Even If Cease-Fire Reached With Hamas In Gaza

“Israel’s defense minister vowed Sunday to step up attacks on Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group even if a cease-fire is reached with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hezbollah, which has been exchanging fire with Israel throughout the war in Gaza, has said it will halt its nearly daily attacks on Israel if a cease-fire is reached in Gaza. But Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that anyone who thinks a temporary cease-fire for Gaza will also apply to the northern front is “mistaken.” “We will continue the fire, and we will do so independently from the south, until we achieve our goals,” Gallant said. He said there is a simple aim: to push Hezbollah away from the Israeli border, either through a diplomatic agreement or by force. Hezbollah began striking Israel almost immediately after Hamas triggered the fighting in Gaza with a deadly attack along Israel’s southern border from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7. Tens of thousands of civilians on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border have been displaced by the continued cycle of Hezbollah rocket and missile attacks and Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire.”

Associated Press: Israel’s Air Force Says It Struck Deep Inside Lebanon After Hezbollah Shot Down A Drone

“The Israeli military said Monday its air force was striking targets of the militant Hebollah group “deep inside Lebanon,” where residents reported explosions near the northeastern city of Baalbek. The strikes are among the deepest into Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began more than four months ago. They come a day after Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed to step up attacks on Lebanon’s Hezbollah even if a cease-fire is reached with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Lebanese security officials said Israel’s air force carried out three airstrikes on the outskirts of the village of Buday, near Baalbek, targeting a convoy of trucks. Buday is a Hezbollah stronghold. There was no immediate word on casualties. A Hezbollah official confirmed that three strikes hit near Baalbek. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. The Israeli army said further details will follow.”

Middle East

Reuters: UAE Dropped From Financial Crime Watch List In Win For Nation

“The United Arab Emirates, home to the financial hub of Dubai, has been dropped from a global watchdog's list of countries at risk of illicit money flows, a win for the nation that could bolster its international standing. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a body that groups countries from the United States to China to tackle financial crime, on Friday dropped the UAE from its 'grey list' of around two-dozen nations considered risky. The Gulf country, a magnet for millionaires, bankers and hedge funds, was placed under closer scrutiny in 2022, when the FATF highlighted the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing involving banks, precious metals and stones as well as property. The delisting is a coup for the one-time regional pearl and fish trading hub which is now one of the world's wealthiest nations after the discovery of oil in Abu Dhabi in the late 1950s. It had made getting off the list a priority, bolstering its anti-money-laundering efforts in a drive spearheaded by the minister of foreign affairs and brother of President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.John Kartonchik, a director at UAE think tank Re/think, said the move could boost confidence in the country and attract more money from overseas.”

Associated Press: Palestinian Prime Minister Submits Government’s Resignation, A Move That Could Open Door To Reforms

“Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said Monday his government is resigning, in a move that could open the door to U.S.-backed reforms in the Palestinian Authority. President Mahmoud Abbas must still decide whether he accepts Shtayyeh and his government’s resignation. But the move signals a willingness by the Western-backed Palestinian leadership to accept shake-up that might usher in reforms seen as necessary to revitalize the Palestinian Authority. The U.S. wants a reformed Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza once the war is over. But many obstacles remain to making that vision a reality. “The next stage and its challenges require new governmental and political arrangements that take into account the new reality in the Gaza Strip,” Shtayyeh said at a Cabinet meeting. Abbas is expected to choose Mohammad Mustafa, chairman of the Palestine Investment Fund, as the next prime minister.”


Associated Press: Nigeria’s Defense Chief Accuses Nations Withholding Arms Sales Over Abuses Of ‘Double Standards’

“Nigeria’s defense chief expressed frustration Tuesday with what he called the “double standards” of some countries that won’t sell his military weapons because of human rights concerns. Gen. Christopher Musa’s comment underscores one of the biggest challenges for Africa’s most populous nation in combating a deadly and complex security crisis, from the Islamic militant insurgency in northeast to the dozens of armed groups targeting travelers and communities in the northwest and central regions. “Even with our money, it is difficult getting equipment,” Musa told reporters in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, acknowledging a huge need for items such as helicopters, drones and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. “Some say human rights, some say ‘You have killed’ … but again, sometimes, people pointing fingers at you have done worse and yet nobody is holding them to account. It is these double standards that (are) making the world more dangerous,” Musa said. He declined to name the countries in question when asked by The Associated Press.”


Reuters: Somali Islamist Rebels Claim Attack On Kenyan University - Spokesman

“Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group claimed responsibility for an attack on a Kenyan university campus in which at least 14 people were killed on Thursday, saying it had released Muslims while killing some Christians and taking others hostage. "We sorted people out and released the Muslims," Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab's military operations spokesman, told Reuters. "There are many dead bodies of Christians inside the building. We are also holding many Christians alive. Fighting still goes on inside the college.”


Washington Post: U.S. Struggles For Influence In West Africa As Military Juntas Rise

“U.S. officials are waging urgent diplomatic efforts in West Africa, searching during public tours and private meetings for ways to partner with military governments in a region where violence wrought by Islamist extremists is soaring and Russia’s influence is expanding. But the officials have struggled at times to articulate what that partnership would look like, especially because the types of assistance the U.S. government can legally provide have been curtailed since the ousting of democratically elected governments by soldiers in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, according to interviews with a dozen current and former U.S. officials, analysts and activists. The stakes are especially high in Niger, where the United States has deployed more than 1,000 soldiers and operates a drone base that officials say is vital for surveillance of extremist groups in the Sahel region, which runs across Africa just below the Sahara Desert.”


Politico: Far-Right AfD Moves To Make Amends With Le Pen

“It’s something of a far-right lovers’ quarrel. Relations between Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, both members of the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) group in the European Parliament, have been strained of late after an investigation revealed that AfD politicians took part in a clandestine meeting of right-wing extremists near the city of Potsdam in which “remigration” plans to deport foreigners and “unassimilated” citizens were discussed. Le Pen has since sought to distance herself from the AfD, part of a larger effort to make her party appear less radical and more palatable to a general electorate. In January, Le Pen slammed the secret get-together, saying that she was in “total disagreement” with the reported discussions on “remigration.” But now, AfD leaders hope to make amends, particularly ahead of the European Parliament election in June in which both parties are poised to make significant gains, according to POLITICO’s Poll of Polls.”


DW: Why Germany's Far-Right AfD Youth Wing Faces A Ban

“Anna Leisten is cheerful, young and radical. That's how she appears in the many images she's posted on Instagram, at least. She's one of the best-known faces of Germany's Junge Alternative (JA), or Young Alternative, the youth wing of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Her social media profile says she can be anything "from a braid-wearing sweetie pie to a forged-iron soldier." The 23-year-old from Brandenburg plants her political messages between harmless-looking images. One, for instance, shows her lifting her hand to show the white power hand sign adopted by the radical right and neo-Nazis. It's the same sign right-wing extremist and Christchurch gunman Brenton Tarrant flashed in court.”

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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