Eye on Extremism: January 20, 2023

Associated Press: Trio Of Suicide Drones Strike US Base In Syria, Wounding 2

“Three suicide drones attacked a U.S. base in eastern Syria on Friday, wounding two Syrian opposition fighters, the U.S. military said. No Americans were hurt in the attack. It was not clear who was behind the drone attack, but Iran-backed fighters in the region have carried out such operations in the past. Sleeper cells of the Islamic State group are also active in the area. Two of the drones were shot down and the third struck the compound at al-Tanf base where the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan meet, the U.S. military said. The military said the drone that struck the building wounded two members of the Syrian Free Army, who received medical treatment. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said the attack was likely carried out by Iran-backed fighters who are deployed in different parts of war-torn Syria. “Attacks of this kind are unacceptable — they place our troops and our partners at risk and jeopardize the fight against ISIS,” U.S. military spokesman Joe Buccino said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.”

Fox News: US Forces Capture Global ISIS Recruiter In Syria Helicopter Assault

“U.S. and coalition forces carried out a helicopter assault on an ISIS stronghold in Syria on Thursday, capturing a one extremist involved in global recruiting for the terrorist organization. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) carried out the operation on Wednesday in partnership with the Syrian Democratif Forces (SDF). The ISIS operative, who the military did not name, was involved in planning multiple ISIS operations and also served as a global recruiter. "The capture of this ISIS operative will disrupt the terrorist organization’s  threatening U.S. citizens, our partners and innocent civilians," said Col. Joe Buccino, CENTCOM spokesperson. "ISIS continues to represent a threat to the U.S. and partners in the region. CENTCOM maintains a sufficient and sustainable presence in the region and will continue to counter threats against regional security," he added.”

Syria

CBC: Canada Has Agreed To Repatriate 19 Women And Children Held In Syria, Lawyer Says

“The federal government is moving forward on repatriating 19 Canadian women and children held in northeastern Syria, says their lawyer. Family members of 23 detained Canadians — six women, four men and 13 children — have asked a Federal Court to order the government to arrange for their return. They've argued that refusing to do so would violate their charter rights. The Canadians are among many foreign nationals in Syrian detention camps for suspected ISIS members and their families. The camps are run by the Kurdish forces that reclaimed the war-torn region from the extremist group. Lawrence Greenspon, the lawyer for the applicants, told CBC that an agreement has been reached to secure the release and return of the women and children. The case of the four men is still before the court, he said.”

Iran

Asharq Al-Awsat: US Says Iran Is The World's Leading Sponsor Of Terrorism

“US State Department spokesman Ned Price described Iran as "the world's leading sponsor of terrorism." During a press briefing in Washington, Price commented on the European Parliament's resolution to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization. He confirmed that this is a recognition by European partners that "Iran is the world's leading sponsor of terrorism. There is no more nefarious exporter of international terrorism than Iran." He pointed out that "there is no disagreement between the United States and our European allies on this. We're also clear-eyed about the need to cooperate to counter the threats posed by the IRGC over the past – well, certainly in recent years. Referring to the suppression of widespread protests in Iran during the past months, Price noted that Europe, the United States, countries around the world, and regions around the world "have seen all too vivid demonstrations of the lethality of the IRGC, of its repugnant willingness to take innocent lives in its operations.”

Iraq

Rudaw: German Parliament Recognizes ISIS Crimes Against Yazidis As ‘Genocide’

“Germany’s parliament on Thursday voted to recognize the 2014 crimes against the Yazidis in their hometown of Shingal by the Islamic State (ISIS) as “genocide,” calling on the government to take measures to support the ethnoreligious group. ISIS attacked the disputed town of Shingal in the summer of 2014, killing and kidnapping thousands of Yazidis, with the fate of a large number of them remaining unclear. The German parliament, Bundestag, convened on Thursday and the majority of its members voted to recognize the ISIS crimes against Yazidis as “genocide.” Germany’s lower house of parliament said in the resolution that the move came “following the legal evaluations of investigators from the United Nations,” reported DW. The resolution urges German courts to take more action against suspects involved in the crimes and to increase financial support for Yazidis.”

Afghanistan                       

Voice of America: Muzzled in Afghanistan, Activists Protest Abroad

“From Lafayette Park in front of the White House to the streets of London, Toronto and many other cities around the world, activists have been staging small protests to condemn the Taliban’s repressive policies against women in Afghanistan and call for a stronger international response. While they attract a relatively small number of participants, the protests have increased in frequency over the last year, largely in response to growing Taliban restrictions on women inside Afghanistan. On January 14, fewer than 100 protesters showed up at Farragut Square Park in Washington to chant slogans against the Taliban’s recent edict banning universities and work for Afghan girls and women. On the same day, about three dozen protesters gathered in heavy rain in Los Angeles, making similar demands. “In Los Angeles, we called for an end to the gender apartheid instilled by the Taliban,” Arash Azizada, an Afghan American community organizer, told VOA.”

CBC News: Inside A Secret School For Girls In Afghanistan

“Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021, there has been a crackdown on the rights and freedoms of women in the country. Despite initially promising that a woman's right to study and work would be preserved, the Taliban has enacted policies that virtually ban women from public life. Girls are not allowed to continue their education beyond Grade 6. Afghan women have pushed back on the restrictions, and this week on Nothing is Foreign, we hear one woman's story of resistance. Sahar, whose last name we are not disclosing for her safety, teaches at a secret school for girls in Grades 7-12 in Kabul.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Pakistani Listed By UN As Terrorist Denies Links To al-Qaida

“A Pakistani man named by the United Nations as a global terrorist in connection to the Mumbai attacks released a video Thursday, denying any al-Qaida or Islamic State group links. He did not, however, make any mention of the 2008 terrorist attacks in India that killed 166 people. The U.N. on Tuesday designated Abdul Rehman Makki, 68, an anti-India militant being held in Pakistan, as a terrorist, the world body’s second such designation in connection to the Mumbai attacks. He 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 2019 and convicted a year later on charges of terror financing, a sentence unrelated to the 2008 terrorist attacks. On Thursday, Makki released a video statement saying the U.N. took action against him without hearing his testimony. He insisted he never met al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, who was killed in a U.S. Navy SEALs raid in 2011 in his hiding place in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Abbottabad, or bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al-Zawahri, killed in a U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, last July.”

Reuters: Pakistani Taliban Attacks Police Outpost, Killing Three Officers

“The Pakistani Taliban on Thursday claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a police post in northern Pakistan that killed three police officers. Attackers threw grenades at a police outpost near the Afghan border in northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and entered the premises where a suicide bomber detonated explosives, according to police. They said the number of wounded was not yet known. In November, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a militant group also known as the Pakistani Taliban, said it would no longer abide by a months-long ceasefire with the Pakistani government. TTP militants have been waging a campaign of bombings and suicide attacks for over a decade in a bid to run Pakistan under a harsh brand of Islamic law. They have ramped up attacks after calling off the ceasefire brokered by the Afghan Taliban in May.”

Lebanon

Al Arabiya: US ‘Clear-Eyed’ About Threat Hezbollah Poses To Lebanon: State Department

“The Biden administration is “clear-eyed” about the threat Hezbollah poses to Lebanon and will continue to work to counter and combat the Iran-backed group’s influence in the crisis-struck country, a senior State Department official said Thursday. Hezbollah, designated a terrorist organization by the US and several Gulf countries, continues to impose its will upon Lebanese politicians as they struggle to elect a new president and is the only group possessing weapons outside the state’s control. Decades of corruption and clientelism have also played a key role in plunging Lebanon into what the World Bank has said is one of the worst economic crises globally since the mid-nineteenth century. “As these crises compound, we are also clear-eyed about the threat Hezbollah continues to pose to Lebanon, the United States, and to the broader region,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Ethan Goldrich said on Thursday. Goldrich vowed that the US would continue to use a range of tools “at our disposal” to undercut the threat of Hezbollah. He pointed to US sanctions as recently as last Fall on individuals and entities for providing financial services to Hezbollah. Another batch of sanctions targeted a smuggling network that helped divert money from illicit Iranian oil to Hezbollah.”

 

Middle East

Middle East Monitor: Hamas Has Stepped Up Efforts To Kidnap Soldiers, Claims Israeli Media

“The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, has stepped up its efforts to kidnap Israeli soldiers to use as additional leverage in any future prisoner swap with the occupation state, it has been claimed. "Hamas is trying to step up kidnapping attempts as it is growing desperate after the negotiations have been halted over the group's demand to release Palestinian terrorists [sic] from Israeli prisons," claimed Israel's public broadcaster Kan. "The movement is ready to face a possible devastating response from Israel to the kidnappings in the hope of gaining extra bargaining chips to force Israel to meet its conditions and regain its fading support among [Palestinians in Gaza]." The reports emerged following the release of a short video showing an Israeli captive in Gaza asking where the state of Israel is for him and three other captives. Avera Mengistu called for the Israeli occupation government to help release him and the others from captivity.”

Nigeria

Vanguard: Troops Decimate Terrorists, Recover Weapons In Boko Haram’s Failed Attack

“The gallant troops of Sector 3 Joint Task Force North East Operation HADIN KAI (OPHK) in Monguno local government area of Northern Borno senatorial district has last Sunday, 15th January 2023 decimated scores of suspected Boko Haram terrorists in a failed attempt to infiltrate their base. This is coming barely one week after Governor Babagana Zulum stormed the council area in continuation of his campaign train for the second term. Troops continued to display acts of bravery, doggedness and resilience in denying the  members of the Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) and their Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) counterpart  freedom of movement and actions, but due to lack of telecommunication network, delayed information on the attack, not until Captain Babatunde Zubairu, Acting Deputy Director Army Public Relations Sector 3 Operation HADIN KAI AND MULTINATIONAL JOINT TASK FORCE in a press statement issued to our Correspondent on Thursday night revealed the encounter.”

Somalia

Reuters: Somalia's Al Shabaab Attacks Base In Town It Had Lost, Kills Seven

“Islamist al Shabaab militants on Friday killed at least seven soldiers at a Somali military base in a town re-captured by the government, the information ministry and militant group said. The attack was eventually repelled, an officer at the base in the central Somali town of Galcad told Reuters. He said the dead included the base's deputy commander, who was part of a U.S.-trained unit stationed there. The attack underscores the formidable threat al Shabaab poses for Somalia's military, even after a government offensive launched last year scored significant success against the al Qaeda-allied militants. Al Shabaab fighters stormed the Galcad base early on Friday, exploding car bombs and firing their weapons, Captain Issa Abdullahi said. The base is run by Danab, a unit of U.S.-trained commandos who have participated in the offensive against the militants. Somalia's information ministry said in a statement that in addition to al Shabaab killing seven soldiers, their soldiers had killed 100 of the group's fighters and destroyed five gun-mounted pick-up vehicles known as technicals.”

Africa              

Reuters: Kenyan Security Forces Kill 10 Suspected Al Shabaab Fighters

“Kenyan security forces have killed 10 fighters from Somalia's al Shabaab Islamist group in eastern Kenya, a government official said on Thursday. They also recovered rocket propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices after fighting the militants on Wednesday in the village of Galmagalla in Garissa county, said Thomas Bett, deputy county commissioner of the Bura East sub-county. "The operation to flush out the Somalia militants' group in the region was carried out by our multi-agency team ... and (they) managed to neutralise 10 Islamist group militants and recovered assault weapons," he told Reuters. Spokespersons for al Shabaab, who frequently have their phones switched off, could not immediately be reached for comment. Al Shabaab have attacked targets within Kenya for years to pressure the country into withdrawing its troops from the African Union-mandated peacekeeping force helping Somalia's central government fight the group.”

AFP: Two Attacks Kill 18 In Burkina Faso: Security Sources

“Two suspected jihadist attacks killed at least 18 people, including 16 auxiliaries supporting the army, in Burkina Faso, security sources said on Friday. Thursday's attacks in the north and northwest of the country were the latest to hit a civilian auxiliary force that supports the military in a seven-year fight against jihadists. Landlocked Burkina Faso in West Africa is one of the poorest and most volatile nations in the world. Since 2015, it has been grappling with an insurgency led by jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group that has killed tens of thousands and displaced around two million people. Thursday's "first attack targeted an advance party of Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP) in Rakoegtenga," a town in the northern province of Bam, a VDP official said. Six auxiliaries and a woman died in the attack, the same official said. Around 10 people were wounded, including some seriously, who were "evacuated to Ouagadougou for appropriate care," the VDP official said.”

Associated Press: UN: New Congo Attack By Local Militia Kills 7, Many Flee

“The United Nations on Thursday reported a deadly new attack in volatile northeastern Congo by the same local militia blamed for killing nearly 50 people recently discovered in mass graves. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the latest attack took place overnight Wednesday at a camp for displaced people and reportedly killed seven people and sent many others fleeing from the site. U.N. peacekeepers deployed immediately after the overnight attack to secure the camp, 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) east of Djugu in Ituri province, and deter further violence, he said. The attack followed the discovery of mass graves containing the bodies of 49 civilians in two other villages about (19 miles) 30 kilometers east of the town of Bunia in Ituri. The same local militia CODECO — Cooperative for the Development of Congo — has been blamed for the killings. A total of 42 victims, including six children, were found in a mass grave in the village of Nyamamba, while the bodies of seven other men were found in another village, Mbogi, Haq said Tuesday.”

Technology

Yahoo News: Meta: Azov Regiment No Longer Meets Criteria For Dangerous Organization On Facebook, Instagram

“…Azov Movement “has strong ties to far-right extremists in many EU countries and the U.S.,” said Alexander Ritzmann, a senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project, in an interview with Euronews. The Azov Regiment that is fighting against Russian invaders is something completely different, he added. Azov Regiment “was fully integrated into the Ukrainian national guard and since then operates under the command of the Ministry of the Interior,” Ritzmann said.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On January 27, 2020, Turkish security forces arrested five People’s Protection Units (YPG) members who were allegedly plotting terrorist attacks in Tal Abyad, northern Syria. During the raid, forces recovered weapons, digital materials, and documents relating to the terror group.   

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