Eye on Extremism: February 27, 2024

Reuters: Hezbollah Says Fired 'Large Volley Of Rockets' At Israeli Surveillance Base

“Hezbollah said on Tuesday it had launched a volley of rockets at an Israeli aerial surveillance base in response to the Israeli military's deepest attack yet into Lebanese territory. Israeli warplanes struck the Bekaa Valley on Monday, killing at least two Hezbollah members in the military's furthest reach into Lebanese territory since hostilities erupted with the Iran-backed group last October, sources in Lebanon said. The Israeli army said it had struck Hezbollah air defences in the area in response to the downing of an Israeli drone, which Hezbollah said it had shot down with a surface-to-air missile earlier on Monday. In retaliation for the Bekaa strikes, Hezbollah fired 60 rockets on Monday at an Israeli army station in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The group did not say how many rockets were fired on Tuesday morning but said it was a "large volley". The attacks marked an intensification of the worst violence between the heavily armed Hezbollah and Israel since their 2006 war, fuelling concerns about a potential escalation and a widening of Israel's war in Gaza to other parts of the region.”

Bloomberg: US Says It Destroys Two Houthi Missiles, Four Drones In Yemen

“US Central Command said its forces destroyed three seaborne drones, an airborne drone and two cruise missiles in Yemen that were being prepared for attacks in the Red Sea. The strikes on Monday marked the latest effort to avert further assaults on commercial shipping in the vital waterway by the Houthis, an Iran-backed militant group that controls much of the northwest of Yemen.”


Associated Press: Iran Has Further Increased Its Total Stockpile Of Uranium, UN Nuclear Watchdog Report Says

“Iran has further increased its total stockpile of uranium, according to a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog seen by The Associated Press on Monday, and it continues to bar the agency’s most seasoned inspectors from monitoring its nuclear program, The International Atomic Energy Agency also said in a second confidential report, distributed to member states, that Tehran made no progress in explaining the presence of manmade uranium particles found at two locations. The IAEA estimated in its quarterly report that as of Feb. 10, Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was at 5,525.5 kilograms (about 12,182 pounds), an increase of 1,038.7 kilograms (2,289 pounds) since the last quarterly report in November 2023. It also said that according to its assessment, Iran has an estimated 121.5 kilograms (267.8 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 60% purity, which represents a decrease of 6.8 kilograms (14.9 pounds) since the last report in November 2023. The decrease is the result of Iran having diluted some of its 60% enriched uranium in recent weeks with lower-grade material.”

New York Times: After U.S. Strikes, Iran’s Proxies Scale Back Attacks On American Bases

“Iran has made a concerted effort to rein in militias in Iraq and Syria after the United States retaliated with a series of airstrikes for the killing of three U.S. Army reservists this month. Initially, there were regional concerns that the tit-for-tat violence would lead to an escalation of the Middle East conflict. But since the Feb. 2 U.S. strikes, American officials say, there have been no attacks by Iran-backed militias on American bases in Iraq and only two minor ones in Syria. Before then, the U.S. military logged at least 170 attacks against American troops in four months, Pentagon officials said. The relative quiet reflects decisions by both sides and suggests that Iran does have some level of control over the militias. The Biden administration has made clear that Tehran would be held accountable for miscalculations and operations by proxy forces, but it has avoided any direct attack on Iran. The U.S. response “may be having some effect,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., a retired head of the Pentagon’s Central Command, said in an interview.”


Associated Press: The Taliban Hold Another Public Execution As Thousands Watch At A Stadium In Northern Afghanistan

“The Taliban held a public execution on Monday of a man convicted of murder in northern Afghanistan as thousands watched at a sports stadium, the third such death sentence to be carried out in the past five days. The execution took place in heavy snowfall in the city of Shibirghan, the capital of northern Jawzjan province, where the brother of the murdered man shot the convict five times with a rifle, according to a witness. Security around the stadium was tight, said the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. It was also the fifth public execution since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final weeks of their withdrawal from the country after two decades of war. The Taliban, despite initial promises of a more moderate rule, began carrying out severe punishments in public — executions, floggings and stonings — shortly after coming to power. The punishments are similar to those during their previous rule of Afghanistan in the late 1990s. Taliban government officials were not immediately available for comment.”

Washington Post: Taliban Sets Sights On Making Afghanistan A Global Cricketing Power

“During the Taliban’s first stint in power in the 1990s, its disdain for many sports meant that Kabul’s main stadium drew some of its biggest crowds on the days it was used for public executions. But since seizing control in Kabul a second time in 2021, the Taliban has turned to making Afghanistan into a global cricketing power, with ambitious plans for a state-of-the-art cricket stadium that could host international matches. The men’s national team was already on the rise before the takeover but has continued to thrive under the new regime, defying expectations and scoring stunning upsets in international play. Privately funded cricket academies have seen a surge in the number of new players. Cricket’s appeal to the Taliban may be partly rooted in the sport’s long-standing popularity in ethnic Pashtun communities, where the Taliban has traditionally drawn its strongest support. But as cricket’s reach expands across ethnic lines, the regime may also view the sport as useful. “Cricket brings the country together,” said Abdul Ghafar Farooq, a spokesman for the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue.”


Atlantic Council: I’m A Yemeni Minister And I Believe The Houthi Designation Is Not Enough

“First, the US decision to revoke the designation sent the wrong signals to the Houthis and was considered a green light to continue their escalation. At the same time, Iran saw it as permission to exercise more influence and dominance over the region. Nearly a month after the United States revoked the designation in 2021, the Houthis escalated by launching a series of attacks using ballistic missiles and drones manufactured in Iran against energy facilities in several Saudi cities. More significantly, the Houthis continued to commit crimes and violations against civilians in the areas under their control, and hostilities extended to areas under government control. The group thwarted the extension of the United Nations (UN) truce in 2022 and, at the behest of Iran, it undermined de-escalation and peace efforts. The Houthis have also breached United Nations Security Council resolutions related to the Yemeni crisis. Taking advantage of the international community’s keenness to resolve the crisis peacefully, the Houthis regrouped, mobilized their fighters to the battle fronts, and accumulated weapons and military technology smuggled from Iran.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Israel Is Ready To Pause Its War In Gaza During Ramadan If A Hostage Deal Is Reached, Biden Says

“Israel would be willing to pause its war on Hamas in Gaza during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan if a deal is reached to release some of the hostages held by the militants, U.S. President Joe Biden said. Negotiators from the United States, Egypt and Qatar have been working to broker a cease-fire deal that would see Hamas free some of the dozens of hostages it holds in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners and a six-week halt in fighting. During the pause, talks would continue over the release of the remaining hostages and additional Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. Israeli officials said Biden’s comments on a late-night talk show filmed Monday came as a surprise and were not made in coordination with the country’s leadership. A Hamas official played down any sense of progress, saying the group wouldn’t soften its demands. Negotiations were still underway Tuesday in Qatar. A senior official from Egypt has said the draft deal includes the release of up to 40 women and older hostages in return for up to 300 Palestinian prisoners — mostly women, minors and older people.”

Reuters: Exclusive: Hamas Studies Paris Truce Proposal Involving 40-Day Pause And Hostage Exchange, Source Says

“Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has received a draft proposal from Gaza truce talks in Paris which includes a 40-day pause in all military operations and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages at a ratio of 10 to one, a senior source close to the talks told Reuters on Tuesday. Under the proposed ceasefire, hospitals and bakeries in Gaza would be repaired, 500 aid trucks would enter into the strip each day and thousands of tents and caravans would be delivered to house the displaced, the source said. The draft also states Hamas would free 40 Israeli hostages including women, children under 19, elderly over 50 and the sick, while Israeli would release around 400 Palestinian prisoners and will not re-arrest them, the source told Reuters. The Gaza truce talks appear to be the most serious push in weeks to halt the fighting in the battered Palestinian enclave and secure the release of Israeli and foreign hostages. Mediators have ramped up efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, in the hope of heading off an Israeli assault on the Gaza city of Rafah where more than a million displaced people are sheltering at the southern edge of the enclave.”

United Kingdom

Reuters: UK Police Charge Three With Right-Wing Terrorism Offences

“British police said on Tuesday they had charged three men with preparing an act of terrorism after an investigation into suspected "Extreme Right Wing" activity. The three men, one aged 33 and two aged 24, will appear in Westminster Magistrates Court later on Tuesday, the police said in a statement. The arrests were made at the men's home addresses on Feb. 20 as part of "a pre-planned, intelligence led operation", the police added, and searches had been carried out. Britain's Security Service (MI5) Director General Ken McCallum warned in 2022, opens new tab that there had been a rise in far-right extremists seeking firearms. The men's homes were located in West Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, the police statement said. A 46-year old man from Leicestershire, who was arrested as part of the investigation, had since been released without charge.”


DW: Far-Left RAF Terror Suspect Daniela Klette Arrested

“A German prosecutor's office on Tuesday said Daniela Klette, one of three fugitive members of the far-left Red Army Faction (RAF) terror group, had been arrested. German police had been searching for the trio, suspected of attempted murder and a series of armed robberies after decades on the run. The public prosecutor's office in the town of Verden in Lower Saxony said the 65-year-old was caught in Berlin on Monday. "We have an arrest of Ms. Klette," said Koray Freudenberg, senior public prosecutor, whose office is investigating Klette and fellow suspects Ernst-Volker Staub and Burkhard Garweg. The three are said to have tried to use a series of robberies between 1999 and 2016 to finance their lives underground. After a television program recently profiled the case, investigators in Lower Saxony — where many of the robberies took place — said they had received 161 tips about the suspects' potential whereabouts.”

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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