Eye on Extremism: January 12, 2024

ABC: US, UK Launch Large-Scale Retaliatory Strikes Against Iran-Backed Houthi Militants In Yemen

“The U.S. military has unleashed large-scale retaliatory airstrikes against multiple Houthi targets in Yemen following months of attacks by the Iranian-backed militants on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, a U.S. official said Thursday. The official said that the strikes involved a mix of fighter jets and Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from Navy surface ships and a U.S. Navy submarine, according to two U.S. officials. One of the officials identified the submarine as the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Florida, which was seen entering the Red Sea via the Suez Canal on Nov. 5, a move publicized by U.S. Central Command. Another U.S. official confirmed that the United Kingdom also was using its military assets to launch airstrikes against Houthi targets. U.S. President Joe Biden, who had been under pressure to respond, but hoping to avoid risking wider Middle East conflict, issued a statement calling the move a "defensive action" after extensive warnings.”

Wall Street Journal: Iran Seizes Oil Tanker Linked to U.S. Sanctions Dispute

“Armed, uniformed men boarded an oil tanker off the coast of Oman that has been at the center of a dispute between Iran and the U.S. and changed its course on Thursday, according to maritime intelligence firms, a further escalation along Middle Eastern shipping routes.  The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, an advisory group run by the U.K. military, said at least four men wearing black military uniforms and black masks boarded the ship early Thursday in waters between the coasts of Oman and Iran. UKMTO said the seized ship was being diverted to Iranian waters.”

CEP Mentions

The Guardian: Neo-Nazis In The US No Longer See Backing Ukraine As A Worthy Cause

“... Joshua Fisher-Birch, an analyst of the extreme right for the Counter Extremism Project, has kept tabs on rightwing extremists and their fascination with Ukraine. “Chatter among the American online extreme right regarding travel to Ukraine to fight against the Russian invasion has decreased in the last year,” he said, pointing out that in some cases talk about venturing to the war was “either never serious” or a blatant “attempt to raise money through crowdfunding, or was abandoned due to the brutal reality of the conflict or no longer seeing a goal for the American movement”. The threat of law enforcement has also acted as a major deterrent to rightwing extremists trying to join the Ukrainian war effort. “It’s also highly likely that efforts from both the US and Ukrainian governments made travel for these individuals more difficult,” he said. For European neo-Nazis, on the other hand, the conflict is on their doorstep. Unchecked Russian imperialism is still regarded as very much a close proximity threat by nationalist movements all over the continent. They see Americans and English speakers within their movement as ignorant to the reality of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine.”

The Messenger: Hamas’ Most Wanted: Who’s Dead, Who’s Alive and Who’s Underground

“... Hans-Jakob Schindler, director of the Counter Extremism Project, a policy group based in Berlin and New York, believes Israel is aware that it cannot eradicate Hamas. New recruits will grow into new leaders, Schindler told The Messenger, and even without people like al-Arouri, plenty of money is still available from various deep-pocketed sources to fund Palestinian extremists and terrorists. “Hamas did its utmost to raise a generation or two of Palestinians who hate Israel,” said Schindler. “What is happening now is exclusively buying time.” Removing the leadership and the supply lines will give the Israeli public a sense that they are safer, he said “but all of that is replaceable.” “Ignore anyone who talks in terms of 'destroying' or 'dismantling; Hamas, or 'cutting off its head'," added Matthew Levitt, director of the Reinhard program on counterterrorism & intelligence at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “The goal here is to dismantle the Hamas governance project in Gaza and its military/terrorist capability to inflict harm.”

United States

ABC: Fla. Man Allegedly Posted On Social Media That He Planned Racially Motivated Mass Violence: DOJ

“A 26-year-old Florida man with ties to the Aryan white supremacist movement has been charged by federal prosecutors after he allegedly warned online "that he was planning to conduct a racially or ... ethnically motivated mass casualty event," according to court documents unsealed on Thursday. Alexander Lightner, of Venice, Florida, is charged with interstate communication of threats. He is accused of posting "several concerning" things on social media on Dec. 29, the court documents state. "2024 there shall be saints u fuq," he allegedly wrote in one post. "I'll delete this, but I say to you there is no surrender only death. Only purpose. It's so over. It's so begun." The reference to "saints" is "an individual who commits an act of violence in furtherance of white supremacist and accelerationist goals," according to the Department of Justice. On social media, Lightner allegedly also made reference to getting a "highscore" which, according to the DOJ, is a reference to the death toll amassed by an attacker who commits an act of mass violence.”

New York Times: Accused Islamic Extremist Pleads Guilty To Times Square Attack

“A man who the authorities said carried out an attempt “in the name of jihad” to kill three New York City police officers near Times Square during the 2022 New Year’s Eve celebration pleaded guilty to federal charges on Thursday. The man, Trevor Bickford, who appeared in U.S. District Court in Manhattan wearing the tan scrubs of a federal prisoner, pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder of law enforcement officers and three counts of assault of law enforcement officers. Reading from a short statement, Mr. Bickford, 20, told the judge, P. Kevin Castel, that he had “attempted to kill three uniformed N.Y.P.D. officers” while they were working on New Year’s Eve. “I know what I did was wrong,” he told the court, “and I’m sorry.” By pleading guilty, Mr. Bickford avoids a federal trial. His sentencing is scheduled for April 11; he faces a maximum sentence of 120 years in prison for the charges.”

Voice Of Amercica: US Lawmakers Question Whether Aid Is Benefiting Taliban

“U.S. officials overseeing assistance to Afghanistan told U.S. lawmakers Thursday that aid is rigorously monitored to prevent financial benefits from reaching the Taliban. "We remain extremely vigilant against attempts to divert and interfere with assistance delivery. USAID takes its duty as a steward of U.S. taxpayer dollars extremely seriously, and we hold implementing partners to the highest standards," said Michael Schiffer, assistant administrator, Bureau for Asia, U.S. Agency for International Development. Assurances from the U.S. State Department and USAID came after the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a January 8 letter that there were still unanswered questions about $3.5 billion in funds controlled by the Switzerland-based Afghan Fund. SIGAR told Congress that more than a year after the Afghan Fund's creation it had not made any disbursements for its intended purpose of benefiting the Afghan people.”


Reuters: Syria Extends Aid Deliveries Via Turkey For Six Months

“The Syrian government has extended its approval for humanitarian aid to be delivered to rebel-held parts of the country's northwest through a border crossing with Turkey for another six months. The United Nations had been using the Bab al-Hawa crossing from Turkey to deliver aid to millions in northwest Syria since 2014 with authorization from the U.N. Security Council. That expired in mid-2023 after the 15-member body failed to reach an agreement to extend it, and the Syrian government then said the U.N. could continue using the Bab al-Hawa crossing for another six months. In a diplomatic note seen by Reuters and dated Thursday, Syria's mission to the United Nations said Damascus would "extend its permission granted to the United Nations (UN) to use Bab al-Hawa crossing to deliver humanitarian assistance to the North-West of Syria for an additional period of six months until 13 July 2024". Damascus has also allowed the U.N. to send aid through two other Turkish crossings after an earthquake killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria last year.”


Associated Press: Turkish Police Arrest 70 Suspects With Ties To The Islamic State Group In Raids Across The Country

“Turkish police detained 70 suspects with ties to the militant Islamic State group in raids this week across the country, Turkey’s interior minister said Thursday. Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced on social media that large amounts of money, digital material and receipts for hawala banking transactions were also discovered in the raids. Hawala is an informal money transfer system that is traditionally used in some parts of the Muslim world. A video accompanying Yerlikaya’s post showed vehicles sweeping out of police stations and armed officers in military gear raiding addresses, followed by searches and arrests. In late December, Turkish security forces detained 32 suspected IS militants that the state-run Anadolu news agency said were allegedly planning attacks on synagogues, churches and the Iraqi Embassy. A week earlier, police rounded up 304 suspected IS militants in simultaneous raids across Turkey in what appeared to be a security sweep leading up to the New Year festivities.”


Voice Of America: UN Decries Taliban Crackdown On Women For Alleged Dress Code Violations

“The United Nations said Thursday it was deeply concerned about recent arrests and detentions of women and girls by Afghanistan's Taliban authorities for alleged non-compliance with Islamic dress code. The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) warned in a statement that the crackdown is "pushing women into even greater isolation" and called for the immediate release of those detained. The UNAMA says it has documented "a series of hijab decree enforcement campaigns" in the capital, Kabul, and central Daykundi province, where "large numbers of women and girls have been warned and detained." The Taliban's Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice and police have been carrying out the crackdown. The UNAMA said that it was investigating claims of "ill-treatment of women" and allegations that payments have been demanded in exchange for release. "Enforcement measures involving physical violence are especially demeaning and dangerous for Afghan women and girls," said Roza Otunbayeva, the head of the U.N. mission. "Detentions carry an enormous stigma that puts Afghan women at even greater risk. They also destroy public trust.”


Reuters: Israeli Strike Kills Two Members Of Hezbollah-Linked Rescue Force In Lebanon - Statement

“An Israeli strike on a civil defence centre in southern Lebanon on Thursday killed two rescuers and destroyed an ambulance, according to the rescue force, which is affiliated with armed group Hezbollah. The civil defence operations room at the Islamic Health Authority said that "direct Israeli bombardment on an emergency centre in the town of Hanin" killed two male unit members. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military. It was the first time in more than three months of cross-border shelling that an Israeli strike hits an emergency centre. In other cases, rescuers and medics have been wounded in Israeli bombardment as they tried to reach the site of a previous strike or extract casualties. The deaths bring to 25 the number of civilians that have been killed in Israeli shelling on southern Lebanon, including children and journalists. At least 140 Hezbollah fighters have also been killed there, and nine troops on the Israeli side of the border. Hezbollah also launched rockets across the border at Israel on Thursday, as U.S. special envoy Amos Hochstein met with Lebanese officials in Beirut in an attempt to cool tensions on the disputed frontier between Lebanon and Israel.”

Middle East

BBC: Gaza Journalists’ Families Reject Israeli Military's ‘Terrorist’ Claims

“The Qatar-based Al Jazeera news network, for whom one of the journalists worked, also condemned what it called the "false and misleading attempts to justify the killing of our colleagues". Hamza al-Dahdouh, an Al Jazeera journalist and cameraman, and Mustafa Thuraya, a freelance videographer, died after their car was hit in the southern city of Rafah on Sunday. A third journalist was reportedly seriously injured. Al Jazeera said at the time that it strongly condemned the "assassination" of the journalists "whilst they were on their way to carry out their duty" during the war between Israel and Hamas. It also accused Israel of "systematically targeting" Dahdouh's family. His father, Wael, is the network's Gaza bureau chief and he has now lost five members of his immediate family in Israeli strikes. In an initial statement about Sunday's strike, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it "identified and struck a terrorist who operated an aircraft that posed a threat to IDF troops." "We are aware of the reports that during the strike, two other suspects who were in the same vehicle as the terrorist were also hit," it added.”

Associated Press: Houthi Rebels Say US-Led Strikes In Yemen Killed 5 People And Wounded 6, Raising Mideast Tensions

“U.S.-led airstrikes on Yemen’s Houthi rebels in response to their attacks on Red Sea shipping pulled the world’s focus Friday back on the yearslong war raging there, even as tensions rise across a Middle East already torn by Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The strikes killed at least five people and wounded six, the Houthis said, without elaborating on what was targeted. As the bombing lit the predawn sky over multiple sites held by the Iranian-backed rebels, Saudi Arabia quickly sought to distance itself from the attacks as it seeks to maintain a delicate détente with Iran and a cease-fire in the Yemen war from which it hopes to finally withdraw. The attack also threatened to ignite a regional conflict over Israel’s war on Hamas, which the Biden administration and its allies have been trying to calm for weeks. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy acknowledged an attack days earlier on a ship in the far reaches of the Indian Ocean — an attack that may signal Iran’s willingness to strike vessels as part of a wider maritime campaign over the Israel-Hamas conflict. Tehran on Thursday separately seized another tanker involved in an earlier crisis over America seizing oil targeted by international sanctions on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.”

New York Times: Israel And Hamas Are In Talks To Deliver Medicine To Hostages In Gaza

“Qatar is engaged in high-level discussions with Hamas to deliver vital prescription medicines to Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip at the same time it is making progress with Israel about allowing more medicine into the enclave for Gazan civilians, officials said. More than 120 hostages have now been held in Gaza for nearly 100 days and many suffer from health conditions that require regular medical care, including cancer and diabetes. Their families have grown increasingly concerned as the war enters its fourth month and as hostages released in late November share harrowing accounts of their captivity. Family members of the hostages raised the need for medicines during a meeting in Doha with the prime minister of Qatar, Mohammed bin Adbdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, according to Daniel Lifshitz, the grandson of one of the hostages. An official familiar with the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to their sensitivity, confirmed the meeting. He said that negotiators were discussing the types of medications needed, how much was needed and how to deliver them. Discussions were underway with international organizations that could help deliver them, he added.”


CNN: Somali Forces Are Continuing To Search For Passengers Of Captured UN Helicopter

“Somali national forces in the area where a UN helicopter was captured by al-Shabaab fighters are continuing to search for passengers, Daud Aweis, Somalia’s Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism told CNN on Thursday. Aweis said they had been searching for the passengers since Wednesday night. “They are doing a search in a very practical way because they have to engage the local people in the area to get information and gather intelligence to find where they are and so they can be quickly rescued,” he said, adding that the Somali government was still waiting for an update on the search. Eight people were on board the helicopter when it was captured by al-Shabaab fighters in the Galmugud region, including foreigners and one Somali citizen, Aweis said. He was not able to confirm if anyone had died or escaped, saying that Somali forces were searching for all eight people. The UN emergency assistance helicopter made an emergency landing likely due to a mechanical issue in Galmudug, which is controlled buy the al-Qaeda affiliated terror group, according to the state-run Somali National News Agency (SONNA).”


Politico: Israel Accuses South Africa Of Being ‘Legal Arm Of Hamas’

“Israel’s foreign ministry accused South Africa of being “the legal arm” of the Palestinian militant group Hamas on Thursday, after Pretoria accused it of genocide at the U.N.’s top court in The Hague. “Today we witnessed one of the greatest shows of hypocrisy in history, compounded by a series of false and baseless claims,” said Lior Haiat, spokesman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a press release. “South Africa, which is functioning as the legal arm of the Hamas terrorist organization, utterly distorted the reality in Gaza following the October 7 massacre and completely ignored the fact that Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, murdered, executed, massacred, raped and abducted Israeli citizens, simply because they were Israelis, in an attempt to carry out genocide,” he added. Israel issued the statement as the International Court of Justice opened hearings on a case brought by South Africa against Israel.”

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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