Eye on Extremism: January 11, 2024

NBC: Antisemitic Incidents In The U.S. Jumped 360% After Oct. 7 Hamas Attack, Advocacy Group Says

“The number of antisemitic incidents in the U.S. rose sharply in the three months after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, according to new data from the Anti-Defamation League, which tracked a total of 3,283 anti-Jewish incidents between Oct. 7 and Jan. 7 — a 360% increase compared to the same period in 2022. The preliminary data compiled by the ADL, first reported by NBC News, shows there was an average of nearly 34 antisemitic incidents every day following the Oct. 7 assault, putting 2023 on track to be the highest year for antisemitic acts against Jewish people since the ADL began keeping track in the late 1970s, according to the organization. The preliminary three-month tally was higher than the total number of antisemitic incidents recorded in any full year over the last decade, save for 2022, when the total number hit a high of 3,697. Todd Gutnick, a spokesman for the ADL, said the group will soon release data covering the first nine months of last year.”

Washington Post: Somalia’s Militant Shabab Capture Downed U.N. Helicopter, At Least 1 Dead

“The al-Qaeda-linked Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab seized the crew of a U.N. helicopter that made an emergency landing in Somalia on Wednesday, said two people based in Mogadishu who work with international organizations. Al-Shabab set the helicopter on fire and seized most crew members after the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing in the central Galguduud region, a Western official told The Washington Post. A Mogadishu-based official said four Europeans and five Africans were onboard. One crew member was reportedly killed, two were unaccounted for and may have escaped, and the rest were taken captive, he said. All four officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.”

CEP Mentions

DW News: Why Germany Is Resuming Arms Exports To Saudi Arabia

“The German government has made a U-turn on arms exports. It wants to allow the delivery of Iris-T missiles and Eurofighter fighter jets to Saudi Arabia. It was Germany's conservative-led government under Chancellor Angela Merkel that restricted German weapons exports to Saudi Arabia in October 2018. This was in response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and Saudi Arabia's involvement in the war in Yemen, where an alliance of Arab states is fighting against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels under Saudi leadership. That war has triggered one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Now, just over five years later, the government led by Chancellor Olaf Scholz is reassessing its relations with the Saudi government. Following the terror attack by the militant Islamist Hamas on Israel on October 7, Saudi Arabia has been making a significant contribution to Israel's security, said Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Green Party) on January 7 during a visit to Jerusalem. "And this is helping to contain the danger of the conflict spreading across the region.”

Daily Express: Russia's Wagner Group Is Helping Islamist Terrorists, Shocking Report Reveals

“... The Counter Extremism Project’s Riza Kumar warned: “Wagner’s violent activities are increasing ammunition for violent extremist groups in their recruiting efforts across the Sahel. Whether or not Wagner establishes formal ties with Burkina Faso and Niger, the PMC’s impact is being felt across the region. “As violent extremist groups expand their geographical scope, they have the potential to influence the communities on the border areas and potentially persuade them to see Wagner as predatorial rather than protective.”

United States

Politico: American Intel Officials Warn Of Risk Of Hezbollah Attacking U.S.

“U.S. officials assess that there’s a rising risk Lebanese Hezbollah militants will strike Americans in the Middle East — and even potentially hit inside the United States, four officials familiar with the intelligence told POLITICO. The Iran-backed militant group would likely target U.S. personnel in the Middle East first, the officials said. And U.S. intelligence agencies are gathering data on Hezbollah that suggest it could be considering attacks on both U.S. troops or diplomatic personnel overseas, two of the officials said. The chance for an assault on U.S. soil is also growing as tensions in the region escalate, the officials said.”

“ “Hezbollah could draw on the capability they have … to put people [in] places to do something,” one of the officials said, referring to a potential attack on the U.S. “It is something to be worried about.” The official, like others in this story, was granted anonymity to talk freely about sensitive intelligence.”

Voice Of America: Blinken, Sissi To Discuss Israel-Hamas War

“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is to meet Thursday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi amid efforts to contain the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip and secure the release of remaining hostages held by militants in Gaza. Egypt played a key role in mediating an earlier temporary cease-fire during which Hamas released more than 100 hostages and Israel released 240 Palestinian prisoners. Retired General Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, former commander of U.S. Central Command, expressed pessimism during a webinar on Wednesday. "I think it's going to be very hard to get the remaining hostages back. ... They're the last thing Hamas has," he said. "I am not optimistic that we're going to get a lot of these hostages back." Thursday’s talks in Cairo come a day after Blinken met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, and Abbas held subsequent talks with Sissi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.”

ABC: Biden Administration Faces Growing Pressure To Strike Back At Iranian-Backed Houthis

“Following weeks of warnings from U.S. officials to Houthi rebels that there would be repercussions if their assaults on vessels in the Red Sea continued, the Yemeni group launched its largest bombardment to date -- intensifying pressure on the Biden administration to retaliate against the Iranian-backed militia. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said Tuesday that the Houthis fired off a "complex attack" comprised of armed drones, anti-ship cruise missiles, and an anti-ship ballistic missile on Tuesday night -- the 26th strike on the region's commercial shipping routes since Nov. 19. The barrage was intercepted by American and British warships and no injuries were reported, but the brazen nature of the strike has cast doubt that words alone will be enough to contain the threat posed by the Houthi fighters, which has already created significant disruptions to commercial shipping in the region, according to CENTCOM. In a bold statement issued on Wednesday, the Houthis declared that the group had specifically targeted a U.S. ship.”


Forbes: How Iran Might Respond To Worst Terrorist Attack In Decades

“Amid heightened Middle East tensions, Iran endured its deadliest terrorist attack since the inception of the Islamic Republic on Jan. 3 and has vowed revenge. But how exactly it will ultimately retaliate against the attack claimed by the notorious Islamic State group remains to be seen. The heinous twin-bombing terror attack in Iran’s southeast Kerman killed at least 91 people attending a commemorative ceremony on the fourth anniversary of the assassination of senior Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike in Baghdad in 2020. Iranian officials instantly vowed revenge but perversely blamed the United States and Israel. At the funeral for the victims, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi chose to hail Hamas’ unprecedented Oct. 7 attack on Israel, saying this “operation will bring about the end of the Zionist regime” and declaring Iran’s enemies see its power “and the whole world knows its strengths and capabilities.” “Our forces will decide on the place and time to take action,” he added.”

Reuters: Iran Says It Arrested 35 People In Relation To Deadly Kerman Attacks

“Iranian authorities have arrested 35 people in relation to the Jan. 3 attacks in the southeastern city of Kerman, the Intelligence Ministry said on Thursday, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency. The ministry said it had identified one of the two suicide bombers as a national of Tajikistan, who entered Iran illegally on Dec. 19. More information will be released at a later date about the second suicide bomber, the ministry said, adding that the arrests had been carried out in several Iranian provinces. The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Jan. 4 for the attack that killed nearly 100 people and wounded 284, at a memorial for top commander Qassem Soleimani.”

Associated Press: Iran Identifies Alleged Bomb-Maker Behind Last Week’s Is Twin Suicide Attack That Killed Dozens

“Iran’s intelligence ministry on Thursday identified a top suspect, described as ringleader and bomb-maker, in the twin suicide bombings last week claimed by the Islamic State group as the death toll from the attack rose to at least 94, state media reported. The Jan. 3 attack, in which two suicide bombers targeted a commemoration for an Iranian general slain in a 2020 U.S. drone strike in Iraq, was the deadliest in Iran in decades as the wider Middle East remains on edge. One bomber first detonated his explosives at the ceremony in Kerman, about 820 kilometers (510 miles) southeast of the capital, Tehran, then another attacked 20 minutes later as emergency workers and other people tried to help the wounded from the first explosion. The official IRNA news agency carried a statement by the intelligence ministry saying the main suspect who planned the bombing was a Tajik national known by his alias Abdollah Tajiki. According to IRNA, the suspect had entered the country in mid-December by crossing Iran’s southeast border, and left two days before the attack, after making the bombs.”


Associated Press: Air Arabia Resumes Flights To Afghanistan After Halting Them 2 Years Ago As Taliban Captured Kabul

“The Taliban government in Afghanistan on Wednesday confirmed the resumption of Air Arabia flights to Kabul’s international airport, two years after service stopped following the collapse of the Western-backed government. Afghanistan’s Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation said the first Air Arabia flight landed Wednesday. In a post on X, the ministry said there will be one daily flight between Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, and Kabul. All international airlines halted flights to Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO forces departed after two decades of war. In May, the Taliban signed a deal allowing an Emirati company to manage three airports in Afghanistan. Under the agreement, Abu Dhabi-based GAAC Solutions would manage the airports in Herat, Kabul and Kandahar. In November, flydubai resumed flights to Kabul. Two Afghan airlines, Kam Air and Ariana Afghan Airlines, operate from Kabul to destinations such as Dubai, Moscow, Islamabad and Istanbul.”


Reuters: UN Security Council Demands Houthis Stop Red Sea Attacks

“The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday demanded Yemen's Houthis immediately end attacks on ships in the Red Sea and cautioned against escalating tensions while implicitly endorsing a U.S.-led task force that has been defending vessels. The demand came in a Security Council resolution that also called on the Houthis to release the Galaxy Leader, a Japanese-operated vehicle carrier linked to an Israeli businessman that the group commandeered on Nov. 19, and its 25-person crew. Eleven members voted for the measure demanding the Houthis "immediately cease all attacks, which impede global commerce and navigational rights and freedoms as well as regional peace." Four members, including veto-wielding Russia and China, abstained. None voted against. The key provision of the resolution, sponsored by the U.S. and Japan, noted the right of U.N. member states, in accordance with international law, "to defend their vessels from attack, including those that undermine navigational rights and freedoms.”

Middle East

New York Times: Hamas Says Hostages Won’t Go Home Alive As Long As Israeli Forces Remain In Gaza

“Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip “will not be returned alive” unless Israeli forces leave, a Hamas spokesman said on Wednesday, highlighting the predicament facing the Israeli government: It has vowed to free the hostages, and to pursue the war and defeat Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under significant pressure to do whatever is required to get the remaining hostages who are still alive — more than 100 of them, the government says — home safely. Yet public opinion surveys show that most Israelis also support his stated aim of eliminating Hamas, which led the deadly Oct. 7 assault on Israel, as a military force. “We affirm that the enemy prisoners will not be returned alive to their families,” Osama Hamdan, a Hamas spokesman, said at a news conference in Beirut, Lebanon, unless Israel meets the conditions Hamas has set, “the first of which is a comprehensive cessation of the aggression against Gaza.”

Associated Press: Israeli Military Says It Found Traces Of Hostages In An Underground Tunnel In Gaza

“The Israeli military said Wednesday it has found evidence that hostages were present in an underground tunnel in the Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, which has become the focus of Israel’s ground offensive. The military showed the tunnel to journalists who were escorted into a neighborhood near the ruins of destroyed homes and streets. A corrugated tin hut covered the tunnel’s entrance in a residential yard. A makeshift ladder led to the narrow underground pathway, about 2.5 meters (8 feet) below. The tunnel was hot and humid, with walls lined with concrete and electrical wires. Farther inside was a bathroom, where the military said it found evidence that hostages had been there, including their DNA. “Hostages were held here in this tunnel system,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the army’s chief spokesman. Hagari offered no details on what exactly was found in the tunnel, nor did he say when the hostages were there or identify them. He did not say if they were known to be dead or alive. In a later statement to the media, he said the captives were held in “difficult conditions,” without elaborating.”

Associated Press: Tanker In Gulf Of Oman Boarded By Men In Military Uniforms In Apparent Seizure In Mideast Waters

“An oil tanker once at the center of a crisis between Iran and the United States was boarded in the Gulf of Oman by “unauthorized” men in military uniforms early on Thursday morning, an advisory group run by the British military and a private security firm warned. Details remained unclear in what was apparently the latest seizure of a vessel in the tense Middle East waterways. However, suspicion immediately fell on Iran as the ship was once known as the Suez Rajan and had been involved in a yearlong dispute that ultimately saw the U.S. Justice Department seize 1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil on it. The apparent seizure also comes after weeks of attacks by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels on shipping in the Red Sea, including their largest barrage ever of drones and missiles launched late Tuesday. That has raised the risk of possible retaliatory strikes by U.S.-led forces now patrolling the vital waterway, especially after a United Nations Security Council vote on Wednesday condemning the Houthis and as American and British officials warned of potential consequences over the attacks.”


Bloomberg: Germany On Alert After Extremist ‘Re-Migration’ Plot Uncovered

“Germany’s interior minister warned of the growing threat from extremists after reporters uncovered a meeting attended by members of the far-right AfD party where a “re-migration” concept was discussed that echoed the policies of the Nazis. The gathering, at which a close aide of AfD Co-leader Alice Weidel and two members of the main opposition Christian Democrats were present, took place at a hotel near Potsdam in November, according to a report published Wednesday by Correctiv, an Essen-based media organization which seeks to promote democracy. Discussions included a proposal outlined by an Austrian right-wing extremist for mass deportations of asylum seekers, foreigners with the right to reside in Germany and German citizens who haven’t “assimilated,” Correctiv said, citing documents and information gathered by an undercover reporter. A spokesman for Weidel said she had no knowledge of the meeting’s content or guest list but confirmed that an aide, Roland Hartwig, had participated. Carsten Linnemann, the CDU’s general secretary, said the party is monitoring the situation “with great concern.”

South America

New York Times: Ecuadoreans Split On President’s Drastic New Measure To Combat Drug Gangs

“A sense of dread took hold in Ecuador on Wednesday, with the streets empty, schools closed and many people afraid to leave their homes after the disappearance of two gang leaders set off prison riots, police kidnappings and the on-air storming of a TV station. Even for a country accustomed to violence, the events that have rocked Ecuador this week were shocking. “I feel like the world I knew before is gone,” said María Ortega, a schoolteacher in Guayaquil, a sprawling coastal city. “You can know how things start, but not how they’ll end.” It began with violence erupting in prisons across the South American country as soldiers surged into a penal compound in Guayaquil, after the disappearance of a powerful gang leader, Adolfo Macías, from his cell over the weekend. Inmates at various prisons took prison guards captive, and dozens of detainees escaped, including another prominent gang leader.”

Reuters: Ecuador TV Station Hostage Recounts 'Surreal' Armed Takeover

“A Ecuadorean journalist who was held hostage by gunmen during the takeover of a Guayaquil TV station and obliged to appear on camera at gunpoint told Reuters on Wednesday the experience was "surreal." Gunmen stormed a studio at public broadcaster TC on Tuesday afternoon, carrying long-range guns, grenades and dynamite, part of a wave of violence that has prompted President Daniel Noboa to name 22 gangs as terrorist organizations to be targeted by the military. Images from the channel's live feed, which remained on air for about 20 minutes, shocked the country and made headlines around the world. Journalist Jose Luis Calderon, 47, was in the studio as his colleagues led a broadcast around 2 p.m. local time, when he heard yelling, shots and people running outside in the hallway. "Our immediate reaction was to seek refuge in the bathroom," he said. He hid with some colleagues and they called family members and police, but were overheard by the gunmen.”

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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