Eye on Extremism: February 5, 2024

ABC: US Plans 'More Action' After Striking Militants In Response To Killing Of 3 American Troops

“After carrying out dozens of strikes in Iraq and Syria last week, the U.S. will take "more action" against Iran-backed militants in response to a deadly drone attack on an American base in Jordan, the White House's national security adviser said Sunday. "This was the beginning of our response, there will be more steps," Jake Sullivan told ABC News "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos. "Some of those steps will be seen, some may not be seen. But there will be more action taken to respond to the tragic death of the three brave U.S. service members." Late Friday, the U.S. launched its first round of retaliatory strikes in Syria and Iraq, hitting as many as 85 targets at seven facilities in less than 45 minutes, according to the U.S., which has blamed Iran-backed fighters for the attack on Tower 22 in Jordan on Jan. 28. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the targets were being used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps "and affiliated militias ... to attack U.S. forces.”

Associated Press: At Least 6 Kurdish Fighters Are Killed In A Drone Attack On A Syrian Base Housing US Troops

“A drone attack on a base housing U.S. troops in eastern Syria killed six allied Kurdish fighters late Sunday, in the first significant attack in Syria or Iraq since the U.S. launched retaliatory strikes over the weekend against Iran-backed militias that have been targeting its forces in the region. The U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Monday the attack hit a training ground at al-Omar base in Syria’s eastern province of Deir el-Zour, where the forces’ commando units are trained. No casualties were reported among U.S. troops. An umbrella group of Iran-backed Iraqi militias, dubbed the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, released a video claiming responsibility for the attack and showing them launching a drone from an unspecified location. In late January, a drone attack by the same group killed three U.S. troops and wounded dozens more at a desert base in Jordan. The U.S. military launched dozens of retaliatory strikes targeting Iran-backed militant groups in western Iraq and eastern Syria and also struck the Houthis in Yemen.”

CEP Mentions


BBC: Confronting The Houthis: How Powerful Are Yemen’s Rebel Rulers?

“... They are generally more war-like, violent and cruel," says Edmund Fitton-Brown, who was UK ambassador to Yemen from 2015-17. "I encountered astonishing instances of brutality in Aden and Taiz. The Houthis consider themselves an elite from an elite (the Zaidi sect). Some of their casual viciousness towards Sunni civilians in central and southern Yemen has been remarkable: a readiness to deploy snipers and kill non-combatants for fun." There has long been a concerted effort, led by the UN, to end Yemen's civil war and the Saudis, who host the legitimate but ousted Yemeni government, have concluded a fragile truce with the Houthis. Edmund Fitton-Brown had some experience of dealing with them in negotiations.”

United States

Associated Press: US, Britain Strike Yemen’s Houthis In A New Wave, Retaliating For Attacks By Iran-Backed Militants

“The United States and Britain struck 36 Houthi targets in Yemen on Saturday in a second wave of assaults meant to further disable Iran-backed groups that have relentlessly attacked American and international interests in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war. But Washington once more did not directly target Iran as it tries to find a balance between a forceful response and intensifying the conflict. U.S. Central Command said its forces conducted an additional strike on Sunday “in self-defense against a Houthi anti-ship cruise missile prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea,” according to a post on X, formerly Twitter. “U.S. forces identified the cruise missile in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined it presented an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region. This action will protect freedom of navigation and make international waters safer and more secure for U.S. Navy vessels and merchant vessels,” the post added.”

Pakistan

Reuters: Pakistan Military Kills 24 Militants In Balochistan Week Before Elections

“Pakistan's military has killed 24 militants in three days in the restive southwestern province of Balochistan, the military said in a statement on Friday, less than a week before national elections. Four law enforcement personnel and two civilians have also been killed, the statement said. Militant violence in Pakistan's border areas has put authorities on alert ahead of next Thursday's polls. Militants, including suicide bombers, attacked Mach and Kolpur complexes in Balochistan, the military's Inter Services Public Relations agency (ISPR) said on Tuesday. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the most prominent of several separatist groups in Balochistan, claimed responsibility for the attack. The group aims to achieve independence for mountainous and mineral-rich Balochistan, Pakistan's largest province by territory but the smallest in terms of population, which has seen a decades-long insurgency. Balochistan borders Afghanistan to the north, Iran to the west and has a long coastline on the Arabian Sea. It has Pakistan's largest natural gas field and is believed to hold many more undiscovered reserves.”

Associated Press: Militants Attack Police Station In Northwestern Pakistan, Killing At Least 10 Officers

“Militants armed with rockets, guns and grenades attacked a police station in a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban in the country’s northwest before dawn on Monday, killing 10 officers before fleeing, authorities said. Six other officers were wounded in this year’s deadliest attack in Dera Ismail Khan, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan. No group immediately claimed responsibility. Senior police officer Anees-ul-Hassan said security forces were working to find and arrest the attackers. The violence came two months after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive-laden vehicle outside a police station in the same district, killing at least 23 troops and wounding 32 others. That attack was claimed by a newly formed militant group — Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan, which is believed to be an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban. Following the Dec. 5 attack in Dera Ismail Khan, troops killed 27 insurgents in multiple operations, according to the military and local police officials.”

The New York Times: Pakistan’s Military Has Swayed Many Elections. Now It’s Going Full Tilt

“Tucked away on a patch of dying grass on the outskirts of Islamabad, the gathering hardly looked like a political rally at the height of an election season. Two dozen men sat on plastic chairs in silence. There were no posters to promote a campaign, no microphones to deliver speeches, no sound system to amp up the crowd. Even the candidate, Aamir Mughal, was missing: He had gone into hiding months earlier, at the first signs of a military-led crackdown on his political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or P.T.I. The authorities had already raided his home, arrested two of his sons and lodged a case against him in connection with anti-military protests. “They are putting pressure on us to quit the party and to quit politics,” Mr. Mughal said in an interview from a safe house where he stayed before emerging for gatherings this weekend. “It’s all part of an effort to weaken and eliminate the party.”

Yemen

The Guardian: Houthis May Sabotage Western Internet Cables In Red Sea, Yemen Telecoms Firms Warn

“Telecom firms linked to the UN-recognised Yemen government have said they fear Houthi rebels are planning to sabotage a network of submarine cables in the Red Sea critical to the functioning of the western internet and the transmission of financial data. The warning came after a Houthi-linked Telegram channel published a map of the cables running along the bed of the Red Sea. The image was accompanied by a message: “There are maps of international cables connecting all regions of the world through the sea. It seems that Yemen is in a strategic location, as internet lines that connect entire continents – not only countries – pass near it.” Yemen Telecom said it had made both diplomatic and legal efforts during the past few years to persuade global international telecom alliances not to have any dealings with the Houthis since it would provide a terrorist group with knowledge of how the submarine cables operated. It has been estimated that the Red Sea carries about 17% of the world’s internet traffic along fibre pipes.”

Middle East

Voice Of America: Israeli Military Says Operations Killed Dozens Of Militants In Gaza

“Israel’s military reported Monday killing dozens of militants in the Gaza Strip, as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken returns to the region to push for a new pause in fighting. The Israel Defense Forces said its operations during the past day included airstrikes and ground battles in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, as well as raids in northern and central Gaza. The United Nations said intense fighting in the Khan Younis area is pushing civilians further south, toward Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s population has already taken refuge, many in makeshift shelters. The U.N. estimates 75% of Gaza’s population have fled their homes, and it says the people of Gaza are facing “acute shortages of food, water, shelter and medicine.” A proposed temporary cease-fire would bring an increase in humanitarian aid for Gaza, along with the release of hostages held by Hamas militants.”

Associated Press: Israel Issues Its Most Detailed Warning Yet To Hezbollah, While The War In Gaza Marks 4 Months

“Israel’s military on Saturday issued its most detailed warning yet to Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon that it would be “ready to attack immediately” if provoked, as it recounted its actions along the northern border during four months of war in Gaza and made a rare acknowledgement of dozens of airstrikes inside Syria against the militant group. “We do not choose war as our first priority, but we are certainly prepared,” military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said, adding: “We will continue to act wherever Hezbollah is present, we will continue to act wherever it is required in the Middle East. What is true for Lebanon is true for Syria, and is true for other more distant places.” The comments followed the defense minister’s warning that a cease-fire in Gaza against the militant group Hamas wouldn’t mean Israel wouldn’t attack Hezbollah as needed.”

Politico: 2-State Solution Remains Key To Ending Israel-Hamas War, Sullivan Says

“President Joe Biden remains keen on a two-state solution as a resolution to the Israel-Hamas war, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday. “The only long-term answer to peace in the region, to Israel’s security in the region, is a two-state solution, with Israel’s security guaranteed. A Palestinian state that also has security guarantees for Israel. That’s what we’re going to keep working for,” Sullivan told host George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.” On Oct. 7, about 1,200 Israelis were killed in Hamas’ initial attack, with more than 200 Israelis taken hostage (more than 100 are still being held). Over 27,000 Palestinians have been killed as the conflict that began after that incursion reaches its fourth month. Sullivan appeared on multiple Sunday shows discussing, among other things, U.S. involvement in negotiations with Israel. “The president has put his shoulder to the wheel on this. He has spoken to the leaders in both Qatar and Egypt, two countries that are centrally involved in trying to broker this deal. We are in constant contact with our Israeli counterparts on it,” Sullivan said.”

Somalia

BBC: Somalia Piracy: Are We Witnessing Its Return Off The Country's Coast?

“That was when armed Somali pirates scoured the waters, forcefully boarding vessels and raking in millions of dollars by demanding ransoms. That died down and all but disappeared once extensive security measures were put in place, but the events from the past few weeks has raised questions about whether a full-scale resurgence of piracy is possible. According to EUNavfor Atalanta, a European Union naval force responsible for maritime security along East Africa's coast, at least 14 vessels have been hijacked off the Somali coast since late November. These include two in that month when an Iranian-flagged fishing boat was attacked and then two days later a Liberian-flagged ship, Central Park, was targeted. In both cases the crews were rescued. US forces were involved in the Central Park rescue and later said the attackers were likely Somali and that it was "clearly a piracy-related incident.”

Germany

Reuters: Around 200,000 Gather Across Germany In Latest Protests Against Far-Right

“Around 200,000 people took to the streets in Germany on Saturday, most of them in the capital Berlin, as nationwide protests against the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party entered their fourth week. Protests were also taking place in cities such as Mainz, Dresden and Hanover, in a sign of growing alarm at strong public support for the AfD. Roughly 150,000 people flocked to the Reichstag parliament building in Berlin, where protesters gathered under the slogan "We are the Firewall" to protest against right-wing extremism and to show support for democracy. "Whether in Eisenach, Homburg or Berlin: in small and large cities across the country, many citizens are coming together to demonstrate against forgetting, against hatred and hate speech," Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on X. He said the protests were "a strong sign in favour of democracy and our constitution.”

Europe

Voice Of America: Bombing In Greek Capital Triggers Concerns Of Terrorism Resurgence

“A powerful bomb blast in central Athens has sent shock waves across the country with authorities concerned about what they call a new era of terrorism. Surveillance footage showed the powerful blast exploding in front of the nation’s Labor ministry, shattering its steel-and-glass façade and gutting offices as far up as the sixth floor. Surrounding buildings were also scarred, and metal at a nearby construction site was mangled and melted. There were no casualties in Saturday's blast, but authorities said the fallout could have been bloody if the explosion had hit the Greek capital’s busiest boulevard, an area teeming with bars, coffee shops and restaurants, during business hours. It was the first terrorist attack to mar the streets of Athens in five years, and Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoides said authorities are seriously concerned about the resurgence of terrorism.”

Reuters: Knife Attack Wounds Three In Paris, Police Rule Out Terrorism

“A knife attack early on Saturday in the Gare de Lyon rail station in Paris left three people wounded, police said, ruling out terrorism at this stage. Police arrested the suspected attacker, who showed signs of mental disorders, Paris police chief Laurent Nunes told reporters. "We found medicine on him which suggests he was undergoing treatment." Two of the victims suffered light wounds while the third was more seriously hurt but was not in a life-threatening situation, police said. The attacker, who carried Italian residence permits and was in France legally, attacked travellers with a knife and hammer. French media said he was originally from Mali, but Nunes did not confirm the reports.”

Associated Press: Pope Reaffirms Christians’ Special Relationship With Jews Amid Rising Antisemitism, Gaza War

“Pope Francis on Saturday reaffirmed Christians’ special relationship with Jews amid rising antisemitism since the outbreak of the Gaza war in a letter to the Jews of Israel that he said was prompted by messages from Jewish organizations around the world. The letter served as a belated fence-mending after Francis was criticized for his initial response to the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. Francis said the Holy Land has been “cast into a spiral of unprecedented violence,” part of what the pope referred to as “a sort of ‘piecemeal world war,’ with serious consequences on the lives of many populations.’’ “My heart is torn at the sight of what is happening in the Holy Land, by the power of so much division and so much hatred,’’ the pontiff wrote. “The whole world looks on at what is happening in that land with apprehension and pain.”

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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