Eye on Extremism: January 20, 2022

Reuters: Biden Says Administration Mulling Re-Designating Yemen's Houthis A Terrorist Group

“U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday his administration is considering re-designating Yemen's Houthi movement as an international terrorist organization following drone and missile attacks on the United Arab Emirates claimed by the group. His comment at a news conference came shortly after the Emirati Embassy said on Twitter that UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba urged the Biden administration to restore the designation in response to Monday's strikes on Abu Dhabi airport and a fuel depot. Asked if he supported returning the Iran-aligned Houthis to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations, from which they were removed nearly a year ago, Biden replied, “The answer is, it's under consideration.” But he conceded that “it's going to be very difficult” to end the conflict pitting the Houthis against Yemen's internationally recognized government and a Saudi-led military coalition, to which the UAE belongs. Biden's comment reflected the lack of progress toward ending the war since he launched an initiative shortly after taking office a year ago to bolster U.N. efforts to restart peace talks and end what the United Nations calls the world's worst humanitarian disaster.”

Reuters: Indonesia Jails Militant From Group Blamed For Bali Bombings

“A prominent member of an Indonesian militant group blamed for the deadly 2002 Bali bombings was jailed for 15 years on Wednesday for withholding information about jihadist networks and harbouring an extremist, his lawyer said. Aris Sumarsono, better known as Zulkarnaen, was a former military commander in Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a Southeast Asian jihadist network with ties to al Qaeda. The 58-year-old had been on the run for almost two decades after being named a suspect in the Bali attacks. The judge, who could not be named for security reasons based on the country's anti-terrorism law, announced the 15-year jail term after the prosecution had asked for a life sentence. Zulkarnaen was found guilty of withholding information and sheltering an extremist figure, not of involvement in the Bali attacks, his lawyer Asludin Hatjani said, describing his client's jail sentence as too long. Asludin said he would consult with Zulkarnaen about whether to appeal. JI was blamed for the 2002 bombings of two nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia's worst ever militant attacks, which killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists, as well as bombings in the capital Jakarta. Police and prosecutors accused Zulkarnaen of playing a role in making the bombs used in the Bali attacks, and in the 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 12 people.”

United States

Associated Press: White House: Texas Hostage-Taker Had Raised No Red Flags

“The gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended in his death was checked against law enforcement databases before entering the U.S. but raised no red flags, the White House said. Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, arrived in the U.S. at Kennedy Airport in New York on a tourist visa about two weeks ago, officials said. He spent time in Dallas-area homeless shelters before the attack Saturday in the suburb of Colleyville. Akram was not believed to be included in the Terrorist Screening Database, a listing of known or suspected terrorists maintained by the FBI and shared with a variety of federal agencies, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. Had he been included, it would have been extremely difficult for him to get into the country. “Our understanding, and obviously we're still looking into this, is that he was checked against U.S. government databases multiple times prior to entering the country, and the U.S. government did not have any derogatory information about the individual in our systems at the time of entry,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday. She added: “We're certainly looking back ... what occurred to learn every possible lesson we can to prevent attacks like this in the future.”

The Jerusalem Post: Texas Synagogue Terrorist Said He Was 'Opening Door' For Attacks On US

“I'm opening the doors for every youngster to enter America and f&$% with them,” said Malik Faisal Akram, the terrorist who held four people hostage in a Colleyville synagogue earlier this week, in a recording of a call between him and his brother, Gulbar, published by the Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday. In the recorded call, Akram can be heard telling his brother that he demanded that Pakistani Al-Qaeda-affiliated Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year prison sentence for multiple felonies, be released and brought to him. “I've told them I'll release these four guys, I'll come on the yard, I'll have a toe to toe with you. Shoot me dead, shoot her (Siddiqui) dead because I'm dead and she's dead, she's 84 years, right?” “They come into our f&%$ing countries, rape our women and f$%# our kids and we can't come in their countries and fuck with them?” shouted Akram, referring to the Taliban and the US's war in Afghanistan. “I'm setting the precedent today...you're not gonna get away with it any more, even if they don't release Dr. Aafia, who gives a f$%&?” “I'm in a synagogue, I've got four beautiful guys, Jewish guys with me. I'm bombed up, I've got f&%$ing every ammunition. I've only been here two weeks and I've got them all at gunpoint,” added the terrorist.”

The Washington Times: Florida Man Sentenced To 15 Years For Attempting To Provide Material Support To ISIS

“A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced a Florida man to 15 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State. Samuel Baptiste, 29, pleaded guilty in October to attempting to materially support terrorism, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years. According to court documents, Baptiste provided information on constructing explosive devices to undercover FBI employees posing as U.S.-based supporters of ISIS in 2016. “He shared the information by posting it on internet links and portions of a manual entitled ‘Improvised Munitions Black Book, Volume 1,’” the Justice Department said in a press release. U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez ordered Baptiste‘s 15-year sentence to run consecutive to the 80-month sentence he is currently serving for being a felon in possession of a firearm.”

WTOP: The Hunt: Understanding The Texas Synagogue Hostage Incident

“Malik Faisal Akram, a British man who was killed while holding several people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15. On this week’s edition of “The Hunt with WTOP national security correspondent JJ Green”, Dr. Hans Jakob Schindler, Senior Director of the Counter Extremism Project, explains how it unfolded.”

Iraq

Al Monitor: Strikes On Baghdad Belt IS Cells Overshadowed By Militia Attacks

“Tarmiya, roughly 50 kilometers north of the Iraqi capital, has in recent weeks been the scene of suicide bombers killed prior to reaching their target and airstrikes amid the dense groves of date palms, fields and orchards. Late on Jan. 18, two members of the local Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) were killed in the area. An operation conducted the morning afterward in collaboration with the Iraqi National Security Service killed three IS fighters in a nearby area, with many social media accounts calling it “revenge for the martyrs” and noting that the security forces had prayed at dawn and then began the operation. Yehia Rasoul, a spokesman for the Iraqi armed forces commander-in-chief, noted on Twitter that the IS fighters killed were “the commander of the so-called northern Karkh division of the Wilayat of Baghdad, Khalil Ibrahim Fayyad al-Jubouri, and his terrorist assistant nicknamed Saqr, alongside one of their companions nicknamed Abu Qais.” The Tigris River marks the dividing line between the two administrative districts of Baghdad: the western side of Karkh and the eastern side, Rusafa. Photos showed the bodies of three men next to what appear to be explosive belts. A suicide bomber was also killed by security forces amid Tarmiya’s lush vegetation on Jan. 8 when at least five soldiers were injured in clashes with Islamic State (IS) cells active in the area.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Taliban Economy Conference In Kabul Stresses Need For Funds

“Five months into their rule of Afghanistan, the Taliban have increased revenue, cracked down on corruption and collected a surprising $1 billion in exports, the U.N. representative for the country said Wednesday. At the same time, Deborah Lyons, head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, stressed the need for the Taliban to be inclusive and guarantee the rights of minorities and women. “An economy thrives only when women and all segments of a society are equal participants,” she cautioned. Lyons spoke at a one-day economic conference organized by the Taliban — their first such event, held at a time when Afghanistan teeters on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe and economic collapse. Kabul's assets abroad, mainly in the United States, have been frozen after the Taliban overran the country in mid-August. The international community has been hesitant to officially recognize a Taliban government, wary they could impose some of the same harsh measures as under their previous rule, 20 years ago. The downward spiral has thrown more than half a million people out of work according to a report by the International Labor Organization released on Wednesday. Women have been the hardest hit by the rise in unemployment.”

AFP: Taliban Arrest Fighter Who Shot Dead Hazara Woman At Checkpoint

“A Taliban fighter has been arrested for shooting dead a Hazara woman at a checkpoint in the Afghan capital as she returned from a wedding, a spokesman for the group said Wednesday. The killing of Zainab Abdullahi, 25, has horrified women, who face increasing restrictions since the Taliban returned to power in August. The shooting took place in a Kabul neighbourhood inhabited mostly by members of the minority Shiite Hazara community, who have been persecuted by Sunni hardliners for centuries, with jihadist groups such as Islamic State regularly targeting them in deadly attacks. Abdullahi was “killed by mistake”, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said on Twitter, adding the arrested fighter would be punished. Her family has been offered 600,000 Afghani (around $5,700) for the January 13 shooting in the capital's Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood, the interior ministry said separately. Some women's rights activists have staged small protests in Kabul since Abdullahi's killing, demanding justice. The Taliban are increasingly imposing their hardline interpretation of Islamic law on the country, and women are being squeezed out of public life. Most secondary schools for girls are shut, while women are barred from all but essential government work.”

Pakistan

Arab News: Pakistani Capital On High Alert After Deadly Militant Attack

“The Pakistani government has put the federal capital Islamabad on high alert after a recent militant attack in which an officer was killed and two others injured, police said on Wednesday. Militants often target security forces in Pakistan, but the country’s capital has been largely peaceful in recent years. On late Monday, two militants on a motorbike opened fire on police officials who were patrolling the city. Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who on Tuesday attended the funeral of the officer killed in the attack, said both militants were killed during the shootout. The minister did not share more details about the incident, but the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan issued a statement claiming responsibility for the assault. Inspector Naeem Iqbal, a spokesperson for the Islamabad Police, told Arab News on Wednesday that the Pakistani capital “has been put on high alert after the terrorist attack.” “A comprehensive strategy has been devised to avoid recurrence of the attacks on police officials,” he said, adding that 55 police have been killed in the city in different militant attacks in the past seven years. “The overall law and order in the federal capital is under control,” Iqbal said. “We are implementing snap-checking and carrying out combing operations in different areas of the city to apprehend the criminals.”

Euronews: Crowdsourcing Violence: Decoding Online Propaganda Of New Militant Groups In Kashmir – Analysis

“As Kashmir witnesses relative periods of peace and development, the online propaganda of new militant groups continues unabated. While the Center’s focus was towards new developments in the valley, Pakistan’s strategy of outsourcing proxy forces was renewed by the creation of new militant outfits like The Resistance Force (TRF), Kashmir Tigers, People’s Anti Fascist Force (PAFF), United Liberation Front of Kashmir (ULFK), amongst others. Despite the government’s imposition of some of the most pervasive communication restrictions anywhere in the world post the abrogation of Article 370, militant groups managed to proliferate digital communications from across the borders, bypassing enforcement measures and adopting online media insurgency tactics. Though Kashmir witnesses a lull in violence, the field remains open to organised outfits trying to create new narratives and glamourise attacks online ensuring that the terror rank swells by attracting Kashmiri youth. This new dynamic is perceptible by the online methods of outfits such as the TRF. Strategists postulate that by presenting new outfits as homegrown movements, Pakistan hopes to evade international pressure to stop sponsoring proxy forces brought on by its Financial Action Tasking Force (FATF) grey listing.”

Yemen

The National: British Government Terror Designations Under Review After Houthi Attack

“The British government is actively examining whether to proscribe suspected Iran and Yemen terror groups following Monday’s attack on an oil facility and an airport in Abu Dhabi that killed three people. A senior frontbench spokesman for the UK government in the House of Lords confirmed on Wednesday that the UK authorities were keeping it “under review” whether the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps should be designated as a terror group. Lord Andrew Sharpe said he had read press reports that suggested Iran had been training both Houthi and Hezbollah drone pilots at a specialised airbase in Kashan, Iran, for attacks on the UAE and other Gulf states. “The government regularly assesses the impact of the IRGC's destabilising activity throughout the region, including its political, financial and military support to several militant and proscribed groups,” the peer told the House of Lords. This included IRGC support for Hezbollah in Syria, militias in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen. “Such activity compromises the region’s security, its ability to prosper and escalates higher tension,” he added. Britain had already imposed 200 sanctions against Iran, including the IRGC in its entirety. But Lord Stuart Polak pressed him and the British Home Office to “fully proscribe” the IRGC.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: World Silent On Palestinian 'Terror Attacks With Rocks,' Erdan Tells UNSC

“The world has been silent in the face of Palestinian  “terror attacks with rocks” again Israelis, the Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told the Security Council on Wednesday. “Rocks like this are thrown at Israelis in their cars and on buses.” They are thrown at Israeli men and women, at Israeli babies and children.  “Every. Single. Day,” he said. “But the world says nothing,” he added. Erdan spoke during the monthly UNSC meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which the 15-member body often condemns Israeli actions against Palestinians but pay scant attention to Palestinian violence against Israelis. “Would you consider it a terror attack if a rock like this was thrown at your car while driving with your children?” he asked the UNSC members. “Would you at the very least condemn these brutal terror attacks carried out against Israeli civilians by Palestinians?” he asked. Erdan charged that there were 200 violent Palestinian attacks against Israeli just in the last month, including 143 incidents of rock throwing and 20 grenades and Molotov cocktails. There were also “dozens more stabbings, car ramings, shootings, and other violent physical attacks risking – and claiming – Israeli lives,” Erdan said.”

Libya

The National: Libyan Extremist In UK Whose Sons Died In Syria Found Guilty Of Encouraging Terrorism

“A man who called for fighting “by sword” while preaching in the English seaside city of Brighton has been convicted of encouraging terrorism. Abubaker Deghayes, whose two sons died in Syria, was caught on security camera as he gave a 20-minute speech to worshippers at Brighton Mosque last November. The defendant, who is Libyan, had denied intending to encourage terrorism in his speech to about 50 people, including children and young adults. On Wednesday, a jury at the Old Bailey found him guilty of the charge. The jury was told nothing about his family background but it can now be disclosed that close relatives have a history of extremism. Deghayes is the brother of former Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes. Two of Abubaker Deghayes’s sons were killed while fighting in Syria; a third died on the streets of Brighton when a drug deal went wrong. He told the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, known as the Old Bailey, he had been an active member of Brighton Mosque, delivering talks, book readings and Friday sermons, since 1987, when he would have been 18. Convicted terrorist and radical preacher Abu Hamza attended the same mosque in the early 1980s. Hamza is now serving a sentence in the US for trying to establishing a terrorist training camp in Oregon.”

United Kingdom

New York Post: Neo-Nazi Terror Offender Ordered To Read Jane Austen As Punishment

“Neo-Nazi and recently convicted terrorist Ben John was ordered to read classic literature, including the novels of Jane Austen, as punishment, despite prosecutors pushing for a harsher sentence. John, 22, downloaded nearly 68,000 files of white supremacist media as well as bomb-making instructions. But a British royal court in Leicester slapped him with more reading homework in August last year, sentencing the burgeoning right-wing radical to a lesson in the language arts rather than incarceration. Judge Timothy Spencer ordered John to read several literary classics, including Austen’s “Price and Prejudice,” William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” While naysayers called the court’s disciplinary curriculum “unduly lenient,” John told the court he preferred Shakespeare over Austen — and his reading ultimately did nothing to stop him from perusing radical materials. During a review hearing on Jan. 6, the judge asked John for a report on his reading list. “I enjoyed Shakespeare more than I did Jane Austen,” John said, “but I still enjoyed Jane Austen by a degree. “Well I find that encouraging,” the judge replied, according to multiple reports. But UK solicitor general Alex Chalk was dubious. “We now know that within a week of giving an apparently sincere promise to the judge, he resumed his interest in the far right,” Chalk told the court.”

BBC News: Abubaker Deghayes Guilty Of Encouraging 'Jihad By Sword'

“A man who made a stabbing gesture as he called for jihad “by sword” at a busy Brighton mosque has been found guilty of encouraging terrorism. Abubaker Deghayes, 53, was convicted at the Old Bailey following a trial. He addressed about 50 worshippers, including children, at the Brighton Mosque and Muslim Community Centre on 1 November 2020 after evening prayers. The judge said he was considering immediate custody for Deghayes, who will be sentenced on 25 February. Deghayes, from Saltdean in East Sussex, was bailed with conditions to stay at his home address on an electronically monitored curfew. He was told to report to a police station on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He has been instructed to surrender his passport and not apply for travel documents, and not to attend the Brighton Mosque mentioned in this case. Judge Nigel Lickley said: “Because of the offence you have been convicted of I must have in the forefront of my mind an immediate custodial sentence.” In a video of the speech played to the court, Deghayes said: “Whose power is more powerful than us? Allah is more powerful than you. “You, idiots. You kuffar (non-believers)... The non-believer is an idiot. He's stupid.” He went on to say: “Jihad, jihad, jihad. Jihad is compulsory. Jihad is fighting by sword. “That means this jihad is compulsory upon you, not jihad is the word of mouth but jihad will remain compulsory until the Day of Resurrection.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: Germany Takes On Telegram To Fight Extremism

“In January 2022, a member of Germany's Querdenker (“lateral thinkers”) protest movement posted a photo on the messaging app Telegram of Manuela Schwesig, the premier of the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. “She will be taken away … either by a patrol car or by a hearse, but she will be taken away,” the caption read. Weeks earlier, protesters had marched towards Schwesig's house to protest contact restrictions, but were stopped by police before they could reach it. Within days, authorities announced that they would investigate the death threat. But when the state's interior minister, Christian Pegel, was interviewed by public broadcaster NDR, he acknowledged that finding the author would not be easy. “At least if we count on Telegram cooperating with us, this will be difficult,” he said. The incident illustrates how Europe's largest economy struggles to fight hate speech and threats against politicians, journalists and activists circulating on the app. Unlike other social media platforms including Meta's Facebook or Google's YouTube, the company has refused to cooperate with authorities — prompting the German government to announce tough measures. “Telegram, like everybody else, has to adhere to our laws” or could face millions in fines, German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann, of the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.”

Europe

The Independent: ‘Unparalleled Threats’: Anti-Vaxxer Movement Threatens A New Wave Of Extremism

“In Germany, security agencies foiled a plot to assassinate Michael Kretschmer, the pro-vaccine governor of Saxony. In Italy, Antonella Viola, a prominent immunology expert, was given protection after receiving a bullet and a letter threatening her life. In the Netherlands, senior politician Sigrid Kaag’s home was attacked by an anti-vaxxer carrying a flaming torch. And in the UK, the militant anti-vaccine group Alpha Men Assemble (AMA) is reportedly plotting to target the police, vaccination centres and schools. Intelligence agencies fear the increasing threats and violent marches could start a new wave of extremism across Europe as mandatory vaccines and the so-called “Covid passes” take effect. The most extreme of anti-vaxxers could present a new danger, according to experts. “The risk is that if the movement radicalises further, there may also be a risk of more coordinated violence, including terrorism,” says Peter Neumann, professor of security studies at King’s College London and founder of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR). Conspiracy theories, disseminated on social media, over the effects of Covid jabs bolstered the resolve of sceptics to refuse the vaccine. Experts say making vaccination mandatory could be a life or death matter for many of them.  “If one sincerely believes vaccines are dangerous and that the vaccination programme is a conspiracy by shadowy elites aimed at depopulation, these measures will be perceived as extremely threatening,” says Jakob Guhl, manager at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a think tank focused on tackling polarisation, extremism and disinformation.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On May 23, 2016, two suicide bombings at a military base in Aden, Yemen, killed at least 45 army recruits and injured approximately 60 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.   

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