Eye on Extremism: January 18, 2023

Associated Press: UN Names Pakistani Linked To Mumbai Attacks As Terrorist

“The United Nations has designated an anti-India militant being held in Pakistan as a global terrorist, the world body’s second such designation stemming from the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people. The announcement regarding Pakistani citizen Abdul Rehan Makki was hailed by neighboring India on Tuesday, a day after the decision. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said the Islamic nation is itself a victim of terrorism and Pakistan supports counter-terrorism efforts at the international level, including at the United Nations. Makki, 68, is a senior figure in the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which is mainly active in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. He was arrested in Pakistan's Punjab province in 2019 and convicted in November and December 2020 in two separate cases on charges of terror financing.”

Reuters: DAVOS 2023: EU's Von Der Leyen Backs Listing Iran's Guards As Terrorist Group

“European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday she backed listing Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation to respond to the "trampling" of "fundamental human rights" in the country. Ties between the EU member states and Tehran have deteriorated in recent months as efforts to revive nuclear talks have stalled. Tehran has detained several European nationals and the bloc has become increasingly critical of a continuing violent crackdown on protesters, including executions. "The reaction of Iran regime is atrocious and horrible and they are trampling over fundamental human rights," she told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos. The European Union is discussing a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran over the crackdown and Iran's supply of weapons to Russia. Diplomatic sources have said members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) will be added to the sanctions list next week.”


Associated Press: Taliban Official Says 9 Men Lashed In Public In Afghanistan

“Nine men were lashed in public in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday as punishment for different crimes under the country’s new rulers, a Taliban-appointed official said. The lashings were the latest example of harsh policies imposed by the Taliban since they seized power in the country in August 2021 — policies that reflect their interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia. Haji Zaid, a spokesman for the governor’s office in southern Kandahar province, said in a tweet that the lashings took place at the sports stadium in the city of Kandahar, the provincial capital. Each man was lashed between 35 and 39 times in front of Taliban officials, religious clerics, elders, and local people, he said. Zaid’s tweet did not elaborate on the crimes the nine were accused of or provide other details.”

Associated Press: UN's Top Woman In Afghanistan For Talks On Taliban Crackdown

“The highest-ranking woman in the United Nations arrived in Kabul on Tuesday at the head of a delegation promoting the rights of women and girls, a response to the recent crackdown by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, a former Nigerian Cabinet minister and a Muslim, was joined by Sima Bahous, executive director of UN Women, the U.N. agency promoting gender equality and women’s rights, and Assistant Secretary General for political affairs Khaled Khiari, U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said. Haq said he could not disclose their schedule or specific meetings in Kabul for security reasons.

U.N. officials have held a series of high-level consultations across the Gulf, Asia and Europe “to discuss the situation in Afghanistan in an effort to promote and protect women’s and girls’ rights, peaceful coexistence and sustainable development,” the spokesman said.”

The Guardian: Twitter ‘Verified’ Check Marks Bought By Taliban Appear To Have Been Removed

“Twitter account verifications bought by the Taliban appear to have been removed, after many expressed outrage that the social media platform had given its blue check marks to Afghanistan’s hardline Islamist rulers. Twitter previously only gave blue “verified” check marks to accounts that were considered “active, notable and authentic accounts of public interest”. But since Elon Musk acquired the platform last year, users can buy them from the Twitter Blue service for a fee – an option at least two officials of the Taliban government in Afghanistan had exercised. The head of the Taliban’s department for “access to information”, Hedayatullah Hedayat, and its top media watchdog, Abdul Haq Hammad, each had blue ticks on their accounts as of Monday. The two men’s accounts have 187,000 and 170,000 followers each.”

Middle East

Reuters: Israeli Prime Minister Confirms Citizen Captured By Hamas In Gaza Is Alive

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Tuesday that an Israeli citizen held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip was alive, a day after the Palestinian Islamist militant group released a video showing the man appealing for help. On Monday Hamas released footage showing Avera Mengistu, an Israeli said by his family to be suffering from mental health problems and who has been held by Hamas since he crossed into Gaza in 2014. "Yesterday we received confirmation of what we knew this whole time, that Avera is alive," Netanyahu said on Tuesday. "This is a young man, not in good health and the responsibility of his fate lies entirely on Hamas." The video, showing Mengistu seated in front of a blank wall and appealing to Israel for help, was the first image shown of him since his capture but there was no immediate official confirmation from Israel that the footage was genuine.”

The Jerusalem Post: Palestinian Terrorist Killed While Shooting At IDF Troops Near Hebron

“IDF reservists on Tuesday shot and killed Palestinian terrorist Hamed Abu Diah, a released prisoner, during a vehicle check near Hebron in the West Bank, Israeli media reported. The terrorist reportedly shot at a bus in Gush Etzion on another, unspecified day. He had also been trying to shoot Israeli soldiers near the checkpoint before they fired back and killed him, Ynet reported. According to Haaretz, Abu Diah had previously served as a prisoner in Israel, but after his release, he worked as a Palestinian Authority police officer in the Bethlehem area.”

Al Arabiya: Biden Reaffirms US Support For UAE Against Terrorism, One Year Since Houthi Attacks

“President Joe Biden reaffirmed the US’ commitment to the safety and security of the UAE as the Gulf nation marks one year since the deadly Iran-backed Houthi attack on the country. “Working in close cooperation with my friend President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the United States will continue to support the UAE as it defends itself against threats – whether from Yemen or anywhere else,” Biden was quoted as saying in a statement released by the White House. “We remain steadfast in our pursuit of diplomacy to bring a peaceful end to the war in Yemen, and the United States will continue to support the security of the UAE and our other partners in the Middle East, including providing needed military assistance,” it added. “Therefore, as we commemorate the tragic events of one year ago, we stand resolute to ensure it cannot happen again.” Three people were killed and six injured when a drone and missile attack caused a fuel tank to explode. At the time, the Yemen-based militia claimed responsibility for the attack saying it conducted an operation “deep in the UAE,” with the group’s spokesman saying they fired five ballistic missiles and “a large number” of explosive-laden drones at “sensitive sites” in the UAE.”


Reuters: Somalia Says It Has Taken Control Of Key Port From Al Shabaab

“Somalia's government-led forces have captured an al Shabaab stronghold on the Indian Ocean coast, the defence minister said on Monday, in one of their most significant victories since launching an offensive against the Islamist group last year. The forces took the port town of Harardhere as well as the nearby town of Galcad in central Somalia's Galmudug region, Defence Minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur said in a broadcast on state-owned television. Harardhere was a major base for pirates hijacking merchant ships until 2011. It was later taken over by al Shabaab, which first rose up against the government in 2007 before pledging its allegiance to al Qaeda. "Haradhere and Galcad districts have been taken from the hands of the al Shabaab terrorists," Nur said. "This means al Shabaab is overpowered and gone. The remaining towns will also be liberated soon.”

Associated Press: 5 Somali Troops Die In Attack; 21 Al-Shabab Fighters Killed

“An attack by the al-Shabab extremist group on a military facility north of Somalia’s capital on Tuesday killed five soldiers, officials said. Somali troops repelled the assault, killing 21 al-Shabab fighters. The group has claimed responsibility for the attack at the Hawaadley military facility in Xawaadley village in the Middle Shabelle region, 75 kilometers (about 45 miles) north of Mogadishu. Somalia’s Chief of Defense Forces Gen. Odawa Yusuf Rage said that the attackers were “repulsed by the brave Somali soldiers who were on high alert.” A senior military official, Col. Abshir Shataqey, was among those killed in the attack, Rage said. Abdi Hassan, a soldier who was at the military camp, told The Associated Press that 12 soldiers were wounded. He said that the military had prior intelligence about the attackers, including their vehicle license plates.”


Bangkok Post: Far-Right Militants Go On Trial For Macron Attack Plot

“A dozen people with links to a French far-right group went on trial on Tuesday, accused of plotting to assassinate President Emmanuel Macron and commit a string of other attacks. Prosecutors say the 13 members of the Barjols group conspired to engineer a putsch, which involved a plan for an attack on Macron during a public appearance in 2018. The defendants are 11 men and two women, aged between 26 and 66. Citing evidence collected online, from telephone conversations and meetings, prosecutors say the suspects also planned to kill migrants and attack mosques. None of the plots allegedly prepared by the suspects ever came to anything. As a result, prosecutors downgraded some of the initial charges over the course of their four-year investigation.”

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