Eye on Extremism: January 2, 2024

ABC: Deadly New Year's Collision Near Rochester, NY, Venue Being Investigated As Possible Terrorism

“A deadly, fiery crash that occurred outside an entertainment venue in upstate New York early New Year's Day is being investigated as possible terrorism, a law enforcement source briefed on the case told ABC News. Two people were killed and five others injured after a Ford Expedition struck a Mitsubishi Outlander that was exiting a parking lot near the Kodak Center in Rochester, according to the city's police chief, David Smith. The collision occurred around 12:50 a.m. on Monday near a crosswalk, as concertgoers were leaving the venue, Smith said. "The force of the collision caused the two vehicles to go through a group of pedestrians that were in the crosswalk, and then into two other vehicles," Smith said at a press briefing on Monday. "There was a large fire associated with the crash that took the Rochester Fire Department almost one hour to extinguish." Two occupants of the Mitsubishi Outlander were killed and the driver was transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, the chief said. The driver of the Ford Expedition was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries, he said.”

Associated Press: Houthis Show No Sign Of Ending ‘Reckless’ Red Sea Attacks As Trade Traffic Picks Up, Commander Says

“Yemen’s Houthi rebels show no signs of ending their “reckless” attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, the top commander of U.S. naval forces in the Middle East says, even as more nations join the international maritime mission to protect vessels in the vital waterway and trade traffic begins to pick up. Since Operation Prosperity Guardian was announced just over 10 days ago, 1,200 merchant ships have traveled through the Red Sea region, and none had been hit by drone or missile strikes, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper said in an Associated Press interview, although the U.S. military said that one ship reported being struck by a missile late Saturday. Cooper said earlier that day that additional countries are expected to sign on to the mission. Denmark was the latest, announcing Friday it plans to send a frigate to the mission that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced during a visit to Bahrain, where the Navy’s 5th Fleet is based, saying that “this is an international challenge that demands collective action.”

CEP Mentions

The Mirror: France On High Alert For New Year's Eve 'Terrorist Threat' As ISIS Plots Foiled

“...It comes as Counter Extremism Project chief executive Ambassador Mark Wallace said: "These arrests demonstrate once again that ISIS remains a serious threat to the West. ISIS is not only trying to take advantage of Hamas’s war against Israel to motivate its supporters and sympathisers but is also attempting to organise terror attacks in Europe to demonstrate its continued relevance within the terrorist milieu. He added: “Authorities must continue to increase their cooperation to ensure the futility of these efforts.” His comments come after three people were detained in Austria for suspected involvement in an “Islamist network” in the build-up to December 25 but the interior minister said there was “no immediate threat” of an attack in Vienna. One person was arrested in Germany and Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said: “We all love our Christmas traditions and won't allow ourselves to be intimidated or have our way of life hemmed in. Our security authorities have their sights on the Islamist scene and are acting decisively as the current measures show.””

The Mirror: Exclusive: Anti-Semitism, Conspiracy Theories And Hate On Demand On Site Used By Russell Brand

“... It seeks to force platforms to take more responsibility for content. Sir Ivor Roberts, a Counter Extremism Project group advisor and ex-Foreign Office head of counter-terrorism, said: “It is inexcusable that an online platform is unwilling or unable to stop giving a voice to extremist organisations. “If the Bill cannot prevent tech giants allowing extremists to broadcast propaganda, it isn’t fit for purpose. And if Rumble won’t stop acting as a cheerleader for dangerous organisations and individuals it should be shut down.” Greater Manchester Police has revealed a worrying rise in hate crime reports. It recorded 74 anti-Semitic offences in the month after the Hamas attack on Israel compared with 15 for the same period in 2022 and 14 in 2021. West Yorkshire police recorded 53, against 10 in 2022 and 14 in 2021. The British Transport police logged 87 anti-Semitic offences in the month after the massacre, up from eight in the same period in 2022 and 11 in 2021. And Islamaphobic offences also leaped – with 22 this year up from two in 2022 and eight in 2021.”

United States

The New York Times: The U.S. And Israel: An Embrace Shows Signs Of Strain After Oct. 7

“President Biden was getting ready to leave the White House for an audacious flight to Israel to demonstrate solidarity after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack when suddenly the trip seemed to be falling apart before it even began. An explosion at a Gaza hospital had reportedly killed or wounded hundreds, the Palestinians were blaming Israel, and Arab leaders were refusing to meet with Mr. Biden when he arrived in the region. The president summoned advisers to the Treaty Room on the second floor of the White House family quarters to answer the question: Should he still go? A robust debate broke out between his national security and political advisers. Some in the room urged Mr. Biden to scrap the trip. It was not clear what could be accomplished. It might not even be safe. What if Hamas launched rockets at Ben-Gurion International Airport when Air Force One approached? Where would the president land then? Others argued that he needed to go anyway. He had already announced the visit. They should not lurch from one decision to another. And preliminary U.S. intelligence indicated that Israel was not responsible for the hospital explosion.”

Reuters: US Man Charged For Attempt To Aid Al Shabaab After Oct 7 Attack On Israel

“A New Jersey man arrested in Kenya has been charged for trying to aid militant Islamist group al Shabaab, the U.S. Justice Department said, alleging he was motivated by Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel to wage violence. The arrest comes amid heightened incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia in the wake of the Israel-Gaza war, which have raised terror threat levels in the United States. Karrem Nasr, a U.S. citizen who moved from New Jersey to Egypt around July, was taken into custody in Nairobi on Dec. 14 and brought to the United States on Thursday, the Justice Department said in a statement on Friday. The 23-year-old has been charged with "attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization," which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to prosecutors. The United States designates al Shabaab as a "foreign terrorist organization." "As alleged, Karrem Nasr, motivated by the heinous terrorist attack perpetrated by Hamas on October 7, devoted himself to waging violent jihad against America and its allies," U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said.”


Fox News: Attack In Syria Kills 11 Senior Iranian Military Officers, Injures Top Advisor To Damascus

“An Israeli airstrike on the Damascus airport has reportedly killed nearly a dozen senior Iranian military officials, which one expert told Fox News Digital would prove Israel’s ability to maintain a multi-faceted defense of the region.  "While there is no independent confirmation of Guard Corps names or ranks, the IRGC has long seen Syria as a critical regional hub to project power into the Eastern Mediterranean and connect its constellation of proxies called the ‘Axis of Resistance,’" Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said.  "It should come as a shock to no one that Guard Corps elite are operating there, especially amid a regional war, which they are directing far away from their own soil," he added. "Similarly, should the strike be independently verified, it would be more proof of Israel being able to hold back and deter elements of the Axis of Resistance in other geographies while fighting to defeat Hamas in Gaza," Taleblu stressed. Syrian media claimed that Israel had targeted sites in southern Syria and near Damascus in waves that aimed to disrupt and Iran’s operations in the country.”


Associated Press: Turkey Reportedly Detains 32 IS Militants And Foils Possible Attacks On Synagogues And Churches

“Turkish security forces have detained 32 people suspected of links to the Islamic State extremist group who were allegedly planning to carry out attacks on synagogues and churches as well as the Iraqi Embassy, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported Friday. The suspects, including three alleged senior IS militants, were detained in raids carried out at dawn in nine provinces across Turkey, Anadolu Agency reported, citing unnamed security sources. They were detained in a joint operation by the country’s intelligence agency and police, the agency said. The arrests come a week after 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. The Islamic State group has carried out a string of deadly attacks in Turkey, including a shooting at an Istanbul night club on Jan. 1, 2017, that killed 39 people during New Year celebrations.”


Associated Press: Taliban Say Security Forces Killed Dozens Of Tajiks, Pakistanis Involved In Attacks In Afghanistan

“Security forces in Afghanistan killed a number of Tajik and Pakistani nationals and arrested scores others involved in attacks against religious clerics, the public, and mosques, a senior Taliban official said Sunday. Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, Taliban’s appointed defense minister, during a press conference in the capital, Kabul, said dozens of Tajiks and more than 20 Pakistanis were killed in the past 12 months “in operations by security forces.” He said scores of Tajiks and hundreds of Pakistanis involved in various incidents were also arrested during that period. Mujahid called on neighboring and regional countries to strictly monitor their borders. Tensions between Kabul and Islamabad spiked as hundreds of thousands of Afghans left Pakistan after authorities started pursuing foreigners they said were in the country illegally, going door-to-door to check migrants’ documentation, following an Oct.31 deadline. Mujahid also said there has been a 90% decrease in attacks by an Islamic State group affiliate in the past year.”


Voice Of America: Report: Terrorist Attacks Kill Nearly 1,000 Pakistanis In 2023

“Militant attacks across Pakistan killed around 500 civilians and a similar number of security forces in 2023, the highest number of fatalities the country has experienced in six years, according to a new report released Sunday. Northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwestern Baluchistan provinces bordering Afghanistan accounted for most of the terror attacks and the resulting casualties, the report by the Islamabad-based independent Center for Research and Security Studies, or CRSS, said. It noted that 2023 was the deadliest year for Pakistani police and military forces in a decade, collectively losing more than 500 personnel in terrorist bombings and ambushes. Anti-state groups, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan, or TJP, separate Baloch insurgents, and a regional affiliate of Islamic State, known as the Islamic State Khorasan, often claim or are blamed for the violence. The Pakistani military has reported the deaths of at least 265 officers and soldiers in nationwide militant attacks and counterinsurgency operations in 2023. In December, militants raided an army base in a northwestern district and killed at least 23 soldiers in the deadliest attack in the country’s recent history.”

Associated Press: Gunmen Kill 6 Barbers In A Former Stronghold Of The Pakistani Taliban Near The Afghan Border

“Unidentified gunmen shot and killed six barbers before dawn on Tuesday in a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban in the country’s northwest near the Afghanistan border, police said. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the killings in Mir Ali, a town in the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said Jamal Khan, a local police chief. The incident shocked residents, who said the slain men all worked at various barbershops. Javed Ali, a local resident, said he met one of the slain men last month when he went to a barbershop for a haircut. Mir Ali served as a base for the Pakistani Taliban — who are known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP — for years until the military cleared the area of insurgents. TTP is a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war. Pakistani militants years ago had banned the trimming of beards and haircuts in Western styles.”

Associated Press: Pakistan Arrests 21 Members Of Outlawed Pakistani Taliban Militant Group Linked To Deadly Attacks

“Pakistan’s counterterrorism police said Monday they arrested 21 members of outlawed militant group the Pakistani Taliban, which has been behind several deadly attacks across the country. Acting on intelligence information, the arrests were made in the eastern Punjab province over the past two weeks, the provincial Counterterrorism Department said in a statement. The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, is a separate group but allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war. The Counterterrorism Department provided a list of the suspects, the cases against them and their alleged affiliation. But the list did not give details about the attacks the militants were allegedly involved in, including the number of casualties. The statement said that Mohammad Arshad, an alleged chief commander of the banned Baluch Nationalist Army which mostly operates in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, was also arrested.”


Voice Of America: Hezbollah Says Three Of Its Fighters Killed In Southern Lebanon

“Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group said on its Telegram account on Monday that three of its fighters were killed in southern Lebanon. The statement gave no details about how the three were killed but said they "were martyred on the road to [liberate] Jerusalem." Security sources said they were killed in an Israeli raid on two houses in the Lebanese village of Kafr Kila near the border where Hezbollah maintains security control. Hezbollah, an ally of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, has been exchanging near-daily fire with Israel across Lebanon's southern frontier since the eruption of the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza in early October. The Israeli military said on Monday it struck a series of targets in Lebanon, including "military sites" where Hezbollah was operating. Israeli airstrikes and shelling have killed more than 100 Hezbollah fighters and nearly two dozen civilians, including children, elderly and several journalists, according to Hezbollah and security sources.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Netanyahu Says Gaza War On Hamas Will Go On For ‘Many More Months,’ Thanks US For New Weapons Sales

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza will continue for “many more months,” pushing back against persistent international cease-fire calls after mounting civilian deaths, hunger and mass displacement in the besieged enclave. Netanyahu thanked the Biden administration for its continued backing, including approval for a new emergency weapons sale, the second this month, and prevention of a U.N. Security Council resolution seeking an immediate cease-fire. Israel argues that ending the war now would mean victory for Hamas, a stance shared by the Biden administration, which at the same time urged Israel to do more to avoid harm to Palestinian civilians. In new fighting, Israeli warplanes struck the urban refugee camps of Nuseirat and Bureij in the center of the territory Saturday as ground forces pushed deeper into the southern city of Khan Younis.”


Reuters: Somalia Says Ethiopia-Somaliland Port Deal Null And Recalls Ambassador

“Somalia's cabinet said on Tuesday that a pact its breakaway region of Somaliland had signed with Ethiopia allowing it to use the Red Sea port of Berbera was null and void, adding that it endangered the region's stability. Somalia also recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia for deliberations over the Somaliland port agreement. Landlocked Ethiopia relies on neighbouring Djibouti for most of its maritime trade. Monday's agreement, signed in Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi, would clear the way for Ethiopia to set up commercial marine operations giving it access to a leased military base on the Red Sea, Abiy's National Security adviser Redwan Hussien said. The agreement also included recognising Somaliland as an independent nation in due course. "Ethiopia's step ... endangers the stability and peace of the region," Somalia's cabinet said in a statement after an emergency meeting. Somaliland has not gained widespread international recognition, despite declaring autonomy from Somalia in 1991. Somalia says Somaliland is part of its territory.”


Reuters: UN Peacekeeping Mission In Mali Completes Its Withdrawal

“The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, is poised to complete its withdrawal from the country on Sunday, the United Nations said in a statement. Security experts warn the area could now become the focus of a struggle in the north as rebel groups and the army seek to take areas that the U.N. has left, further destabilising Mali, where Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State also roam. Violence in Mali has spiked since June when the military junta which took power in a 2021 coup ordered the U.N.'s decade-old peacekeeping mission to leave. The U.N. said only a small team will stay behind to oversee the transportation of assets and disposal of U.N.-owned equipment. "U.N. funds, agencies and programmes were in Mali well before the deployment of MINUSMA and will stay in Mali well after the withdrawal," MINUSMA chief El-Ghassum Wane said. The peacekeeping mission in Mali was launched in 2013 following a violent insurrection by separatist rebels attempting to take control of the north of the country and a subsequent military-led coup.”


Reuters: German Police Arrest Three More Over Alleged Cologne Cathedral Attack Plot

“Police on Sunday detained three further suspects in an alleged Islamist plot to attack Germany's famed Cologne Cathedral on New Year's Eve, authorities said. The alleged attackers had planned to use a car to attack the 800-year-old Gothic edifice by the Rhine river, Cologne police director Frank Wissbaum told a news conference. The method of the planned attack was unclear, but an underground car park below the cathedral had been searched with explosives sniffer dogs overnight, he told reporters. "The three people are now securely in custody, which we are very glad about since they can no longer communicate with each other," he said. Wissbaum said investigators had found evidence late on Saturday that linked the three to a 30-year-old Tajik man with alleged ties to the Islamic State militant movement, who has been in custody since Dec. 24. Federal authorities were continuing their investigation into what he termed a "network of individuals" from Central Asia with links to several German states and European countries. No details were given on the identity or background of the people now in custody.”

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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