Eye on Extremism: January 21, 2022

The New York Times: F.B.I. Director Calls Texas Synagogue Attack An Act Of Antisemitism

“The F.B.I. is treating the attack on a suburban Fort Worth synagogue on Saturday as “an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community,” Christopher A. Wray, the bureau’s director, said on Thursday. “This was not some random occurrence,” Mr. Wray told viewers of a webinar hosted by the Anti-Defamation League. “It was intentional, it was symbolic and we’re not going to tolerate antisemitism in this country.” The bureau initially said that the attacker, a British citizen named Malik Faisal Akram, was not driven by antisemitism when he held four people at the synagogue hostage for 11 hours. At a news conference on Saturday night after all four hostages were free, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Dallas field office, Matthew DeSarno, said Mr. Akram was motivated by an issue “not specifically related to the Jewish community.” During the attack at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, which was partly livestreamed, Mr. Akram was heard referring to Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is serving an 86-year prison sentence in nearby Fort Worth. Ms. Siddiqui was convicted in a federal court in 2010 for “terroristic events” in Afghanistan, including trying to kill American soldiers and plotting to blow up the Statue of Liberty.”

Associated Press: Pakistani Police: Bomb In City Of Lahore Kills 3, Wounds 28

“A powerful bombing struck a crowded bazar Thursday in Pakistan's second largest city, Lahore, killing at least three people and wounding 28, police and rescue officials said. A newly formed separatist group from southwestern Baluchistan province claimed responsibility for the attack. The blast was so powerful that it damaged several shops at the famous Anarkali bazar, two witnesses, Mohammad Hafeez and Abdul Majeed, told reporters. Video footage from the scene showed burning motorcycles and victims crying out for help. The killed and wounded included passers-by, shoppers or local store owners. According to Abid Khan, a senior police official, the bombing killed three people. Some of the wounded were listed as being in critical condition and he said there were fears the death toll could climb further. Police were still trying to determine what kind of device was used in the attack, Khan added. An investigation was underway. Hours after the attack, the newly formed Baluchistan Nationalist Army said it was behind the bombing. The group was established earlier this month, when two minor separatist groups — the Baluchistan Republican Army and the United Baluch Army — merged and appointed Mureed Baloch as their spokesman.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: Oath Keepers Cached Weapons For Jan. 6 Capitol Attack, Prosecutors Say

“The right-wing Oath Keepers militia group was prepared to move a stash of firearms and equipment from a Virginia hotel to rioters on Jan. 6 last year, federal prosecutors said, painting the most detailed portrait yet of the planning the group’s members allegedly undertook as they tried to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win. Edward Vallejo, a 63-year-old Arizona man arrested last week on seditious-conspiracy and other charges, worked with others to coordinate what they called “quick reaction forces” stationed at a Comfort Inn in Arlington, Va., prosecutors said. The teams, armed with weapons, ammunition and “essential supplies to last 30 days,” awaited direction on the day of the riot and ultimately didn’t need to deliver the materials since the group successfully breached the U.S. Capitol without them, the prosecutors said. A federal magistrate judge in Arizona agreed Thursday afternoon with the government’s request to detain Mr. Vallejo before trial, saying that he believed Mr. Vallejo presented a danger to the community given his actions on Jan. 6, 2021. “You were prepared to act,” Magistrate Judge John Boyle said at the detention hearing in which Mr. Vallejo appeared via telephone. “If…given that order, you would have complied,” the judge said, describing how he believed Mr. Vallejo would have transported the weapons to the Capitol if asked.”

The Boston Globe: Democrats Urge Biden To Change Strategy On Terrorism

“Congressional Democrats on Thursday urged President Biden to overhaul his counterterrorism strategy and targeting criteria for drone strikes, citing grave concerns about “repeated civilian casualties arising from secretive and unaccountable lethal operations.” The letter came a day after The New York Times published newly declassified surveillance footage providing additional details about the final minutes and aftermath of a botched drone strike in Kabul in August that killed 10 innocent civilians, including seven children. Eleven senators and 39 members of the House, led by Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Christopher Murphy of Connecticut, cited that strike as “emblematic of this systemic failure that has persisted across decades and administrations.” “When there is little policy change or accountability for repeated mistakes this grave and this costly,” the senators wrote, “it sends a message throughout the US armed forces and the entire US government that civilian deaths — including deaths where there was no military target — are the inevitable consequence of modern conflict, rather than avoidable and damaging failures of policy.”

Syria

Reuters: Islamic State Militants Attack Prison In Syria's Al-Hasaka, U.S.-Backed SDF Says

“Islamic State militants attacked a prison in Syria's al-Hasaka in an attempt to free prisoners belonging to the group who had mutinied, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement on Thursday. Islamic State “sleeper cells ... infiltrated from the surrounding neighbourhoods and clashed with the internal Security Forces,” the U.S.-backed group added. The SDF, which is spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, said its forces thwarted the escape attempt by prisoners that coincided with a car bomb that was detonated near the prison by militants, spokesman Farhad Shami said in a tweet. There were unconfirmed reports that several inmates had been killed in the mutiny, the latest of several recent attempts to flee from SDF prisons, according to two residents. Arab tribal figures in touch with residents in the area said U.S. coalition planes were seen flying overhead in the vicinity of the prison following the incident. It was not clear how many inmates were in the prison, one of several where the SDF has kept thousands of detainees, many of whose relatives say are young children and others arrested on flimsy charges or for disobeying the SDF’s policy of forcible conscription.”

Iraq

Associated Press: IS Gunmen Kill 11 Iraqi Troops In Brazen Attack On Barracks

“Gunmen from the Islamic State extremist group attacked an army barracks in a mountainous area north of Baghdad early Friday, killing 11 soldiers as they slept, Iraqi security officials said. The officials said the attack occurred in the Al-Azim district, an open area north of of Baqouba in Diyala province. The circumstances of the attack were not immediately clear, but two officials who spoke to The Associated Press said Islamic State group militants broke into the barracks at 3 a.m. local time and shot dead the soldiers. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to issue official statements. The brazen attack more than 120 kilometers (75 miles) north of the capital Baghdad was one of the deadliest targeting the Iraqi military in recent months. The Islamic State group was largely defeated in the country in 2017, although it remains active through sleeper cells in many areas. Militants from the Sunni Muslim extremist group still conduct operations, often targeting security forces, power stations and other infrastructure. In October, IS militants armed with machine guns raided a predominantly Shiite village in Diyala province, killing 11 civilians and wounding several others. Officials at the time said the attack occurred after the militants had kidnapped villagers and their demands for ransom were not met.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Taliban Storm Kabul Apartment, Arrest Activist, Her Sisters

“The Taliban stormed an apartment in Kabul, smashing the door in and arresting a woman rights activist and her three sisters, an eyewitness said Thursday. A Taliban statement appeared to blame the incident on a recent women's protest, saying insulting Afghan values will no longer be tolerated. The activist, Tamana Zaryabi Paryani, was among about 25 women who took part in an anti-Taliban protest on Sunday against the compulsory Islamic headscarf, or hijab, for women. A person from the neighborhood who witnessed the arrest said about 10 armed men, claiming to be from the Taliban intelligence department, carried out the raid on Wednesday night. Shortly before she and her sisters were taken away, footage of Paryani was posted on social media, showing her frightened and breathless and screaming for help, saying the Taliban were banging on her door. “Help please, the Taliban have come to our home . . . only my sisters are home,” she is heard saying in the footage. There are other female voices in the background, crying. “I can’t open the door. Please . . . help!” Associated Press footage from the scene on Thursday showed the apartment's front door, made of metal and painted reddish brown, dented and left slightly ajar. The occupants of a neighboring apartment ran inside their home, not wanting to talk to reporters.”

Yemen

Reuters: Intelligence Group Says AQAP Announces Death Of Former Bin Laden Associate In U.S. Strike In Yemen

“The director of SITE Intelligence Group said on Thursday that AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) announced the death of a military commander in a U.S. air strike in Yemen. Rita Katz, director of SITE which monitors militants groups online, said the militant group did not mention any date or location for the death of Salih bin Salim bin Ubayd ’Abolan (aka Abu 'Umayr al-Hadhrami) who was also a former associate of Al Qaeda's leader Osama Bin laden. Katz pointed to Twitter reports of a U.S. air strike that killed 3 AQAP militants on Nov. 14.”

Nigeria

Associated Press: Jihadi Video Shows Child Fighters Executing Nigeria Soldiers

“An Islamic State-linked extremist group accused of killing hundreds in northeast Nigeria has released a video purporting to show child soldiers executing two men identified as members of the Nigerian military. The video released by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) was published on Tuesday by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi activity. It showed a man in Nigerian army uniform who said he was with the army special forces being shot twice in the head by a boy of about 12. Shortly after, another soldier who said he was captured in April 2021 was shot in the head by one of the three masked fighters behind him. A Nigerian military spokesperson did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment on the video, which security analysts told The Associated Press appears to have been shot near the Lake Chad basin, the stronghold of the extremist group. Rita Katz, executive director of SITE Intelligence Group, told AP Thursday that ISIS is now “more desperate than ever to keep its name in the global discussion … given the fact that it no longer has a physical ‘caliphate’ outside of relatively small bases in different countries.” The video, she said, “demonstrates the immense focus ISIS is placing on Africa” and puts a “spotlight on Nigeria as one of its strongholds and projecting itself as an adaptive, enduring force to the world.”

Africa

Asharq Al-Awsat: Africom: Al-Qaeda, Isis Unity Efforts Threaten Lake Chad Basin

“Last year, the US withdrawal from wars in Somalia and Afghanistan turned attention to other theaters of conflicts around the world to see if they, in turn, would witness similar US regression. Such a scenario poses risks threatening the fall of regimes and the growth of the influence of extremist movements. The withdrawal of US forces from Somalia in early 2021 prompted an escalation of attacks by Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaeda’s branch of in the Horn of Africa. The attacks were met by Somali government forces weakened by inner conflict. In Afghanistan, the picture was clearer and more decisive. Shortly after the US pulled out in August, the Kabul government fell and was replaced by the Taliban. Such a scenario can be repeated in other areas from which the Americans decide to withdraw, especially in the African continent, where many countries are witnessing political conflicts and civil wars. To date, the US remains engaged through its military command in Africa (AFRICOM) as part of Washington’s efforts to counter Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Sahel countries. Americans have also warned Africans of the “risks” of using mercenaries from the Russian Wagner Group, which are now widespread in many African countries, including Mali and Libya.”

United Kingdom

Fox News: UK Terror Police Arrest Two More People In Texas Synagogue Hostage Probe

“U.K. terrorism police announced Thursday that two more individuals have been arrested in connection to investigations into the Texas synagogue hostage incident over the weekend. Two teenagers were already detained in South Manchester the day after 44-year-old British citizen Malik Faisal Akram took Jewish worshippers hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, and released Wednesday without charges after three nights in custody. Greater Manchester Police, in sharing an update from Counter Terrorism Policing North West, said two men were arrested for questioning Thursday morning in Birmingham and Manchester. The U.K. terrorism police said they are continuing to “support U.S. authorities with their investigation into the events in Texas,” and will further “liaise with and support colleagues from other forces.”  Several reports said the two teens detained had been Akram’s sons, but police have not confirmed. Terrorism police also searched an address in North Manchester as part of their investigation.”

BBC News: Far-Right Terror: Group Used 3D Printer To Make Pistol Parts, Court Told

“Four people accused of being members of a far-right cell “celebrated racist violence” and made pistol parts using a 3D printer, a court has heard. Daniel Wright, 29, Liam Hall, 31, and Stacey Salmon, 29, all from Keighley, West Yorkshire, deny multiple terrorism-related offences. Samuel Whibley, 29, of Derwen Deg, Menai Bridge, Anglesey, also denies terrorism offences. The trial at Sheffield Crown Court is expected to last five weeks. The prosecution said the four defendants used a Telegram channel called Oaken Hearth to exchange terror manuals, share racist ideology and post videos of atrocities. Prosecutor Annabel Darlow QC, said the four defendants had been members of an “extreme fascist and terroristic cell” during the first four months of 2021. “They embraced extreme right-wing propaganda and celebrated racist violence and killing,” she said. “The defendants demonstrated an active interest in the manufacture of explosives and weaponry.” Ms Darlow said the defendants had sought information on how to manufacture firearms at home and had used 3D printers to print plastic parts, which could be assembled with metal components. She said it was their intention to create “functional and lethal” firearms. “The prosecution allege that the ideology embraced by these defendants, and the violent, terroristic views they expressed, clearly demonstrate that their actions in respect of these homemade firearms was terrorist in nature and intent,” she said.”

Europe

The National: Sweden Deports Imam Accused Of Being An ISIS Recruiter

“An imam suspected of being a recruiter for ISIS has been deported by Sweden after a year in detention. Ahmed Ahmed, 52, was detained last year on suspicion of being a key figure in the radicalisation and recruitment of ISIS fighters across Sweden, where he had worked in a number of mosques. Originally from Iraq, Swedish security services deported him last week after a judge ruled he posed a threat to national security. It is alleged 14 people connected to him travelled to fight for ISIS. In a 2015 raid on his home, images of ISIS fighters and Osama bin Laden were allegedly found on his phone along with a picture of the Jordanian pilot who was burnt alive by ISIS. A preliminary investigation against him was dropped and the imam denied the allegations. “I can confirm that he has been deported,” his lawyer Alparslan Tügel told newspaper Aftonbladet. He is one of several imams the Swedish government has detained prior to deportation. Despite criminal charges not proceeding, investigators alleged that he had contact with most of the people in Örebro who had joined ISIS. Terrorist researcher Magnus Ranstorp told Swedish newspaper Doku that Mr Ahmed was a key recruiter. “He has been important when it comes to recruitment in Örebro but he has also worked in other cities such as Gothenburg, Stockholm and Eskilstuna,” he said.”

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.   

View Archive

CEP on Twitter