Eye on Extremism: February 6, 2024

BBC: A Jailed Imran Khan Leaves Pakistan Divided Ahead Of Election

“It was a rule laid down shortly after Imran Khan was elected Pakistan's prime minister in July 2018. "I remember my father didn't vote for Imran Khan in the 2018 elections. My sister and I didn't talk to him for three months. We couldn't sit together at meals or anything," said Nida Zeshaan, who calls herself a "diehard Khan supporter". While political differences among families and friends are nothing unusual, no other politician has caused as many rifts in relationships in Pakistan as the former cricket star who rose to be PM before being ousted. Khan was elected after he vowed to to fight corruption and fix the ailing economy, but he has been fighting a series of cases since he fell out of power in 2022. Several criminal convictions have now barred him from standing in general elections on Thursday. The 71-year-old claims these are politically motivated to boot him off the ballot.”

Associated Press: US-Backed Syrian Fighters Liberate Yazidi Woman Who Was Raped And Forced To Marry Extremists

“U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria have liberated a Yazidi woman who had been held for a decade by the Islamic State group, where she was raped and forced to marry extremists, the Syrian Democratic Forces said Monday. The 24-year-old woman along with her son and daughter were rescued during an ongoing security operation by Kurdish fighters in Syria’s northeastern sprawling al-Hol camp that houses tens of thousands of people, mostly wives and children of Islamic State fighters as well as supporters of the militant group, the SDF said. The SDF launched Operation Humanity and Security 3 at al-Hol on Friday and since then three dozen people have been detained on suspicion of links to the extremist group that once ruled large parts of Syria and Iraq. The SDF said the Women’s Protection Units, or YPJ, liberated the Yazidi woman on Sunday saying that she is originally from Hardan village in Iraq’s Yazidi heartland of Sinjar. The statement said the woman was abducted by IS fighters during the 2014 massacres committed by the extremists during which they killed thousands of men and took many women and teenage girls who were held as sex slaves.”

CEP Mentions

WMAR-TV: NYC Woman Convicted Of Using Bitcoins To Fund Terrorism In Syria

“... A Manhattan jury convicted Jacobs of three felony counts of providing support for an act of terrorism, as well as conspiracy, money laundering and criminal possession of a weapon. The NGO Counter Extremism Project lists Victoria Jacobs, aka Bakhrom Talipov, as an "extremist leader," and it says she may have been providing information to terrorists since 2018. She was indicted last year by the Manhattan district attorney’s office for sending more than $5,000 to Malhama Tactical, a private military contractor in Syria. A 2017 exposé by Foreign Policy magazine called Malhama the “Blackwater of Jihad.””

United States

Associated Press: Opposition To The Senate Border Bill Jeopardizes Help For Afghans Who Aided U.S. Troops

“The massive $118 billion Senate border bill not only contains once-in-a-decade border security legislation and wartime aid to Israel and Ukraine, but also offers a chance for the U.S. to keep its promise to Afghans who worked alongside U.S. soldiers in America’s longest war. Tucked inside the sprawling package is a measure that would provide a long-awaited pathway to residency for tens of thousands of Afghan refugees who arrived in the U.S. on military planes after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021. But the measure may fail if members can’t agree on the bill’s larger, unrelated provisions. Democrats, especially members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, have voiced opposition for what they call the extreme, far-right border policies in the legislation that they say do nothing to help fix the country’s broken immigration system. Conservatives have said the package does not go far enough in limiting the number of daily migrant crossings at the southern border.”

Politico: Pentagon Says It’s Not Planning For A Long-Term Campaign In Iraq And Syria

“The Pentagon is not planning for a long-term campaign against the Iranian military and associated proxy groups in Iraq and Syria, the department’s top spokesperson said Monday, after U.S. forces bombarded multiple locations across those countries in retaliation for last month’s deadly attack in Jordan. The comments follow messaging by the Biden administration in recent days that Friday’s strikes were just the first round in the U.S. response to the attack on Tower 22, a small outpost in northeast Jordan. Three U.S. soldiers were killed on Jan. 28. “Our goal is not to OK, game on, let’s just do this and go full-scale war against Iranian proxy groups in Iraq and Syria,” Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters Monday in the Pentagon. “That’s not what we’re there for. We’re there to conduct the mission and supporting the defeat of [the Islamic State].”

Iraq

The Guardian: UN To Investigate Claims Of Corruption In Iraq Aid Project

“The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is dispatching a team to Iraq to assess allegations of corruption in its $1.5bn (£1.2bn) construction programme following a Guardian investigation. According to an internal document obtained by the Guardian, the UNDP’s administrator, Achim Steiner, has “commissioned a management review and assessment of the allegations” after revelations its staff were allegedly taking kickbacks in return for helping business people obtain lucrative construction contracts. The six-page document, sent to donors on 25 January, aimed to reassure western capitals that the UNDP could hold itself to account through internal oversight mechanisms. At a subsequent meeting, several donors pressed the agency to carry out an external review to help restore credibility. An Iraqi government official with detailed knowledge of the matter said the country’s prime minister, Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, had ordered the country’s integrity commission to launch a separate investigation.”

Pakistan

Bloomberg: Imran Khan’s Absence Fuels Defiance And Despair For Pakistan Voters

“At a campaign office of Imran Khan’s beleaguered political party in Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city, workers remain defiant about an election later this week even as the former prime minister sits in jail and another ex-leader, Nawaz Sharif, is the favorite to take power. “We will not panic,” Tasawar Farooq, 38, said in an interview at the office ahead of Thursday’s vote. “We will compete with them fully.”

Voice Of America: Gallup Finds 70% Of Pakistanis Lack Trust In Elections

“A new survey indicates that more than two-thirds of Pakistan citizens lack faith in the integrity of their electoral process and government ahead of Thursday’s parliamentary elections. The U.S.-based Gallup polling company found that Pakistanis are increasingly discouraged by economic, political, and security challenges that threaten their country’s stability, with discontent reaching a record high before the vote.”

Yemen

Associated Press: Yemen’s Presidential Council Sacks The Prime Minister

“Yemen’s internationally recognized presidential council sacked the prime minister Monday in an unexpected move that comes at a time when a U.S.-led coalition has been striking targets of the government’s rivals, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. A decree from the council appointed Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad Bin Mubarak the new prime minister. Bin Mubarak, who is close to Saudi Arabia, replaced Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed, who was Yemen’s premier since 2018. The council didn’t give a reason behind the reshuffle. Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war since 2014, when the Houthis overran the capital, Sanaa, and much of the north. A Saudi-led coalition intervened months later and has been battling the rebels since 2015 to try and restore the internationally recognized government to power. The war has devastated Yemen, already the poorest Arab country, and created one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. More than 150,000 people, including fighters and civilians, have been killed.”

Middle East

The Guardian: French Diplomat To Review UNRWA After Claims Of Staff Role In Hamas Attack

“A former French foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, is to lead an independent review of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees after accusations by Israel that at least 12 staff members were involved in the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October. The review was ordered by Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), last month before the publication of the Israeli allegations and a subsequent mass exodus of donors led by the US and UK. The UN agency is as a result facing a big funding shortfall at a time of growing humanitarian emergency in Gaza. On Monday Spain said it would give an additional €3.5m (£3m) in aid. Colonna, a former French ambassador to the UK and a hugely experienced diplomat, will be aided in her investigation by three Scandinavian development thinktanks: the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, the Chr Michelsens Institute in Norway and the Danish Institute for Human Rights.”

Africa

Associated Press: Ethiopia’s Leader Plays Down Fears Of Conflict With Somalia Over A Planned Naval Port

“Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has played down fears of a war with Somalia over his quest for sea access for his landlocked country, saying Tuesday that Ethiopia is only interested in peace with its neighbor. Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding with the breakaway region of Somaliland on Jan. 1. The document has not been made public, but Somaliland says Ethiopia agreed to recognize its independence in return for a naval port. The deal has rattled Somalia, which asserts that Somaliland is part of Somalia. Somalia’s president has suggested he is ready to go to war with Ethiopia to prevent it from building a port there. Addressing lawmakers on Tuesday, Abiy said he had “no intention” of going to war with Somalia. “To ensure the peace of Somalia, thousands of Ethiopians have died in Somalia,” he said, a reference to Ethiopia’s troop contributions to the African Union peacekeeping mission fighting the extremist group al-Shabab in Somalia.”

Germany

Voice Of America: Germany Mulls Far-Right Party Ban As Secret Meeting Evokes Nazi Memories

“Germany is debating a ban on the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party amid mass protests across the country against far-right extremism. The discussion follows revelations last month that senior AfD politicians attended a secret meeting where the forcible deportation of migrants, including German citizens, was discussed. Details of the meeting, published by the investigative organization Correctiv on January 15, evoked painful memories in Germany, a country especially sensitive to fears of far-right extremism given its 20th-century history. However, any action against the AfD would be highly controversial as the party is polling in second place ahead of crucial elections later this year. An estimated 150,000 protesters joined hands around the German parliament building in Berlin on Saturday to form what they called a symbolic “firewall” against right-wing extremism. Similar demonstrations were held in cities across Germany.”

Technology

Time: Online Extremism Is Decades In The Making

“For over a decade, an ever-growing array of zealots advocating violence and sedition have been given practically free rein on social media platforms. With sometimes tragic consequences, they easily target some of society’s most vulnerable individuals. The use of social media to radicalize and mobilize for violence was perhaps most clearly evidenced by the arrests of hundreds of people who took part in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — and posted about it. Many observers have lamented social media’s role in spreading far-right ideas and conspiracy theories, radicalizing scores of Americans. Critics have called for more aggressive regulation. But few have realized that the use of technology by America’s violent, far-right extremists is nothing new. They have long understood the importance of messaging and the power of the media and entertainment to spread their ideology.”

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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