Eye on Extremism: January 18, 2024

Reuters: U.S. Lists Houthis As Terrorists, Rebels Hit Another US-Operated Ship

“The U.S. on Wednesday returned the Yemen-based Houthi rebels to a list of terrorist groups, as the militants attacked their second U.S.-operated vessel in the Red Sea region this week and the U.S. military carried out fresh strikes. Attacks by the Iran-allied Houthi militia on ships in the region since November have slowed trade between Asia and Europe and alarmed major powers in an escalation of the war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in Gaza. The Houthis say they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians and have threatened to expand attacks to include U.S. ships in response to American and British strikes on the group's positions. In a sign it remains undeterred, the Houthi movement on Wednesday said its missiles had made a "direct hit" on the U.S. Genco Picardy bulk carrier. Shipping operator Genco confirmed the attack, and said its vessel was hit by a projectile while it was transiting through the Gulf of Aden with a cargo of phosphate rock. Genco said there were no injuries to the crew and the ship suffered limited damage to its gangway and was on a course out of the area.”

Reuters: Hezbollah Rejected US Overtures, Still Open To Diplomacy To Avoid Wider War

“Iran-backed Hezbollah has rebuffed Washington's initial ideas for cooling tit-for-tat fighting with neighbouring Israel, such as pulling its fighters further from the border, but remains open to U.S. diplomacy to avoid a ruinous war, Lebanese officials said. U.S. envoy Amos Hochstein has been leading a diplomatic outreach to restore security at the Israel-Lebanon frontier as the wider region teeters dangerously towards a major escalation of the conflict ignited by the Gaza war. Attacks by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthis on shipping in the Red Sea, U.S. strikes in response and fighting elsewhere in the Middle East have added urgency to the efforts. "Hezbollah is ready to listen," a senior Lebanese official familiar with the group's thinking said, while emphasising that the group saw the ideas presented by veteran negotiator Hochstein on a visit to Beirut last week as unrealistic. Hezbollah's position is that it will fire rockets at Israel until there is a full ceasefire in Gaza. Hezbollah's rejection of the proposals presented by Hochstein has not been previously reported.”

CEP Mentions

PA Media: Who Are Islamist Group Hizb Ut-Tahrir Which The Home Secretary Plans To Ban?

“... According to the Counter-Extremism Project, the group says its goal is to peacefully convert Muslim nations into adopting Islamist political systems. The group claims it only seeks to establish the caliphate in the Muslim world and not in western countries such as the UK.”

DW News: Further Iranian Attacks In Iraq, Syria: What Is Tehran's Goal?

“Tensions are rising between Pakistan and Iran after an Iranian air strike on Pakistani territory killed two children. Islamabad recalled its ambassador to Iran on Wednesday, and has expelled the Iranian ambassador. According to Iranian state media, the airstrike targeted the headquarters of the militant group Jaish al-Adl. Iran has accused the group of carrying out terrorist attacks on Iranian soil. In the last few days Iran has launched similar strikes against targets in Iraq and Syria.”

WTOP News: The Hunt: What Does Re-Designating Yemen’s Houthis As A Terrorist Organization Really Mean?

“In this week’s edition of “The Hunt with WTOP national security correspondent J.J. Green,” Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director of the Counter Extremism Project, says the U.S. re-designating Yemen’s Houthis as a terrorist organization is long overdue — but may not go far enough.”

United States

Associated Press: At Davos, Blinken Calls A Pathway To A Palestinian State A Necessity For Israeli Security

“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that Israel cannot achieve “genuine security” without a pathway to a Palestinian state, insisting such a move could help unify the Middle East and isolate Israel’s top rival: Iran. Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Blinken said the view of leaders in the Arab and Muslim world have changed on Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state would help Israel integrate in the region. “The problem is getting from here to there, and of course, it requires very difficult, challenging decisions. It requires a mindset that is open to that perspective,” Blinken said. The Biden administration has been at pains to navigate between longtime U.S. support for Israel and growing concerns that too many Palestinian civilians have been killed or injured in Israel’s war against Hamas militants since their deadly Oct. 7 rampage in Israel. Blinken reiterated the need for a “pathway to a Palestinian state” and said Israel would not “get genuine security absent that.”


Reuters: Suspected Jordan Strikes On Southern Syria Kill 10 - Monitors, Local Media

“Suspected Jordanian air strikes on southern Syria killed 10 people including children early on Thursday, according to local Syrian media and monitors tracking the conflict. There was no immediate comment from Jordanian authorities. Jordan's army has stepped up a campaign against drug dealers in recent weeks after clashes last month with dozens of people suspected of links to pro-Iranian militias carrying large hauls of narcotics over its border with Syria, along with weapons and explosives.”


Reuters: Who Are The Baloch Militants Targeted By Pakistan In Iran?

“Pakistan said on Thursday it had carried out airstrikes against separatist militants in Iran, the latest step in a tense standoff after Iran's missile and drone strikes in the South Asian nation's border province of Balochistan. Here are some facts on the group Pakistan targeted and the restive province at the heart of the tension. The Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), which an intelligence official called the target of Pakistan's strikes in Iran, seeks independence for Pakistan's western province of Balochistan. Ethnic Baloch militants have battled the government for decades for a separate state, saying the central government unfairly exploits the province's rich gas and mineral resources of Balochistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran. The BLF is among the insurgents who often target gas projects, infrastructure and security posts there, but have begun launching attacks in other parts of Pakistan. They also attack Chinese projects, and occasionally kill Chinese workers despite Pakistan's assurances that it is doing all it can to protect the Chinese projects. The vast province of roughly 15 million people is mostly arid desert and mountainous territory holding untapped mineral wealth.”

Jerusalem Post: Iran Attacked Syria With Long-Range Missile In Message To Israel - Analysis

“Iran carried out a long-range attack on Syria this week using its Kheibar Shekan ballistic missile, with Iranian media saying this was a “message” for the US and Israel. Iran is now attacking random areas in Syria to show off its missile capabilities. Iran uses the cover of “striking terrorists” in order to test the missiles’ precision. This particular type of missile was unveiled in 2022, and Iran claims it has a range of 1,450km. It is supposed to have a high speed and have precision strike capabilities. This is a dangerous strategic weapon, and Iran claims it used it this week on Tuesday morning to strike at ISIS in northwest Syria. There is no evidence that Iran actually struck ISIS. In fact, it appears it carried out the attack on an area of Syria controlled by Turkish-backed extremist groups solely to show off the capability of the missile.”


Voice Of America: Kurds Question Iraq’s Will And US Loyalty After Iran Attacks Their Capital

“Kurdistan Region’s authorities are grappling with the consequences of a deadly Iranian missile attack on their capital city this week, as officials question the will of the Iraqi government and the loyalty of the U.S. government to help them deal with increasing Iranian pressure. “If the Iraqi government does not take a serious stance against these attacks, there will be no meaning left of Iraq’s sovereignty,” Peshawa Hawramani, the spokesperson of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, told VOA. “Countries sometimes summon each other's ambassadors and withdraw their own ambassadors over a simple statement. I do not know what worse can be done against [Iraq], you have been attacked by ballistic missiles and you have no response,” Kurdish spokesperson Hawramani told VOA. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, or IRGC, on Monday launched several ballistic missiles at the Kurdistan Region’s Irbil city and province, killing two businessmen, a toddler and a Filipino woman. The IRGC and Iranian foreign ministry have said the attack targeted an Israeli espionage center in Irbil.”

Wall Street Journal: Iraq Prime Minister Says U.S.-Led Military Coalition In Iraq Is No Longer Needed

“Iraq’s prime minister said the U.S.-led military coalition that has been helping his country fight Islamic State militants is no longer needed, though he still wants strong ties with Washington. “We believe the justifications for the international coalition have ended,” Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani told The Wall Street Journal, as the war in Gaza frays Iraqi relations with Washington. Sudani didn’t set a deadline for the departure of the coalition, which was formed in 2014 to mentor and support Iraqi forces in regaining control of their country after Islamic State militants seized swaths of northern and western Iraq. Nor did Sudani close the door to a role for U.S. troops advising Iraqi forces to remain in the country under a new bilateral relationship that he said should follow. But in an interview Tuesday during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Sudani expressed broad dissatisfaction with American policy on the Gaza conflict. The West had turned a blind eye toward the plight of the Palestinians before Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, he said, calling for increased pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end what he described as genocide.”


The Daily News: Tenney Calls For Release Of Dansville Man Held Hostage By The Taliban

“Congresswoman Claudia Tenney amped up efforts Wednesday to secure the release of a Dansville man held hostage by the Taliban. Ryan Corbett was detained by the Taliban on Aug. 10, 2022. He’s remained in captivity ever since, and has had only sporadic contact with his family. Tenney, R-Cleveland, introduced H.Res. 965, a resolution calling for Corbett’s immediate release and condemning wrongful detention of Americans by the Taliban. The bipartisan bill was cosponsored by 28 other lawmakers including Congressmen Joseph Morelle, D-Rochester, whose district includes a portion of Orleans County, and Nick Langworthy, R-Clarence.”


Reuters: Pakistan Strikes Inside Iran Against Militant Targets, Stokes Regional Tension

“Pakistan used killer drones and rockets to strike separatist Baloch militants inside Iran on Thursday, Pakistani authorities said, two days after Tehran said it had attacked the bases of another group within Pakistani territory. Iranian media said several missiles hit a village in the Sistan-Baluchestan province that borders Pakistan, killing at least nine people. Earlier reports said three women and four children were killed, all non-Iranians. The neighbours have had rocky ties in the past, but the strikes are the highest-profile cross-border intrusions in recent years and come amid growing worries about instability in the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted on Oct. 7. "A number of terrorists were killed during the intelligence-based operation," Pakistan's foreign ministry said, describing it as a "series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts". "Pakistan fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran," the ministry added in its statement.”


Associated Press: US Military Launches Another Barrage Of Missiles Against Houthi Sites In Yemen

“The U.S. military fired another wave of ship- and submarine-launch missile strikes against Houthi-controlled sites Wednesday, U.S. Central Command said, marking the fourth time in days it has directly targeted the group in Yemen as violence that ignited in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war continues to spill over in the Middle East. The strikes were launched from the Red Sea and hit 14 missiles that the command deemed an “imminent threat.” The strikes followed an official announcement Wednesday that the U.S. has put the Houthis back on its list of specially designated global terrorists. The sanctions that come with the formal designation are meant to sever violent extremist groups from their sources of financing. “Forces conducted strikes on 14 Iran-backed Houthi missiles that were loaded to be fired in Houthi controlled areas in Yemen,” Central Command said in a statement posted on X late Wednesday. “These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time, prompting U.S. forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves.”

Associated Press: Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Attack A US-Owned Ship In The Gulf Of Aden With Bomb-Carrying Drone

“A U.S.-owned ship in the Gulf of Aden came under attack Wednesday from a bomb-carrying drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, officials said. The attack on the Genco Picardy represented the second in recent days targeting vessels directly linked to America after U.S.-led strikes targeting the Houthis. It also underlined the risks to shipping in the vital waterway amid Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The attack happened some 70 miles (110 kilometers) southeast of Aden, where the drone smashed into the vessel, said the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, an arm of the British navy that oversees Mideast waterways. The ship’s captain reported there was fire onboard that had been extinguished, it said. “Vessel and crew are safe and proceeding to next port of call,” it added. Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a military spokesman for the Houthis, identified the ship attacked as the bulk carrier Genco Picardy. Satellite-tracking data had put that vessel off Saudi Arabia in recent days as it was bound for India.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Medicine For Hostages And Palestinians Arrives In Gaza Under First Israel-Hamas Deal Since November

“A shipment of medicine for dozens of hostages held by Hamas arrived in Gaza on Wednesday, part of a France- and Qatar- mediated deal that marked the first agreement between Israel and the militant group since a weeklong cease-fire in November. The deal could bring respite to some of the roughly 100 hostages who remain in captivity, as well as to Palestinians in Gaza in desperate need of aid. But fighting still rages in many parts of the beleaguered enclave, and an end to the war — or the release of the hostages — seems nowhere in sight. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Majed al-Ansari, announced late Wednesday on X, formerly Twitter, that the shipment had crossed into Gaza, without saying when or how the medicine would be distributed. “Over the past few hours, medicine & aid entered the Gaza Strip, in implementation of the agreement announced yesterday for the benefit of civilians in the Strip, including hostages,” he wrote.”

Associated Press: Live Updates | Israel-Hamas War Tensions Inflame The Middle East As Fighting Persists In Gaza

“Hamas militants are keeping up a stiff resistance across the Gaza Strip to Israel’s offensive. The war shows no sign of ending and has inflamed tensions across the Middle East, with a dizzying array of strikes and counterstrikes in recent days. Pakistan launched retaliatory airstrikes on Iran early Thursday, killing multiple people and further raising the threat of violence spreading in a Middle East unsettled by Israel’s war with Hamas. In Gaza, a shipment of medicine for dozens of hostages held by the Palestinian militant group Hamas entered the territory late Wednesday in a deal that Qatar and France worked out between Israel and Hamas. Gaza’s Health Ministry says more than 24,200 Palestinians have died. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, but said 70% of the dead were women and children. In Israel, around 1,200 people were killed during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that sparked the war and saw some 250 people taken hostage by militants.”

Associated Press: UN: Palestinians Are Dying In Hospitals As Estimated 60,000 Wounded Overwhelm Remaining Doctors

“Palestinians are dying every day in Gaza’s overwhelmed remaining hospitals which can’t deal with the tens of thousands people hurt in Israeli’s military offensive, a U.N. health emergency expert said Wednesday, while a doctor with the International Rescue Committee called the situation in Gaza’s hospitals the most extreme she had ever seen. The two health professionals, who recently left Gaza after weeks working in hospitals there, described overwhelmed doctors trying to save the lives of thousands of wounded people amid collapsing hospitals that have turned into impromptu refugee camps. The World Health Organization’s Sean Casey, who left Gaza recently after five weeks of trying to get more staff and supplies to the territory’s 16 partially functioning hospitals, told a U.N. news conference that he saw “a really horrifying situation in the hospitals” as the health system collapsed day by day. Al-Shifa Hospital, once Gaza’s leading hospital with 700 beds, has been reduced to treating only emergency trauma victims, and is filled with thousands of people who have fled their homes and are now living in operating rooms, corridors and stairs, he said.”

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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