Eye on Extremism: January 22, 2024

Politico: Houthis Seek More Iranian Weapons To Step Up Red Sea Attacks, Intel Shows

“Recent intelligence gathered by the U.S. and other Western countries indicates Iran-backed Houthi rebels are seeking more weapons from Tehran, raising concerns that the militant group is determined to continue attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and threatening a wider conflict in the Middle East. U.S. officials have for at least a month analyzed information on the Houthis’ planning for the stepped-up attacks, including their attempts to procure additional weapons needed to launch missiles at freighters, according to a readout of the intelligence obtained by POLITICO and a U.S. official familiar with the matter. The intelligence also indicated that the group may try to attack Western forces in the region. Yet it is not clear if the recent strikes by the U.S. in Yemen have shifted the Houthis’ planning for those types of attacks. The developments come days after President Joe Biden acknowledged that U.S.-led strikes against the group have failed to stop attacks from the militants on commercial shipping, while also vowing to continue hitting sites in Yemen to sap the Houthis’ capabilities and break their will.”

Time: U.K. Police Warn Of ‘Unprecedented’ Rise In Terrorism Threat Amid Israel-Hamas War

“The head of counter-terrorism policing in the U.K. warned there has been an “unprecedented” spike in terrorism threats since the Israel-Hamas war began in October. Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Matt Jukes told a gathering of journalists on Friday that there has been a 25% rise in counter-terrorism intelligence, which is "a significant increase,” Sky News reported. He said the war had created a "radicalization moment,” which had the potential to push people toward terrorism, per the BBC.  "It's hard to remember a more unstable, dangerous and uncertain world,” Jukes, the U.K.’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, said.  Threats have increased since the militant group Hamas, which governs Gaza, attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking some 240 hostage. Israel responded by bombarding and invading the territory, killing 24,762 people as of Friday, according to Gaza’s health ministry. The conflict has ignited protests and hate crimes against both Muslims and Jews around the world.”

CEP Mentions

Fox News: Exclusive: Alleged Qatar Spy Operation Said To Have Targeted GOP Lawmakers Opposed To Muslim Brotherhood

“... Chalker and GRA in "Project ENDGAME" also zoomed in on the American organization Counter Extremism Project (CEP) in an effort to "Mitigate Attacks" against Qatar. Former U.S. Ambassador Mark Wallace, the CEO of the Counter Extremist Project, told Fox News Digital that after the Qatari operation "hacked accounts that contained email correspondence with members of CEP leadership, they engaged in a PR campaign to destroy us and paid Americans to do their bidding. All to whitewash their support of Hamas in the face of our criticism. We have called out their support of Hamas since 2017.”

Al-Monitor: What Is Hizb Ut-Tahrir, Anti-Israel Islamist Group Banned In The UK?

“... Hizb ut-Tahrir is global, and much of its current leadership is in the UK and Australia. The group is banned across the world, including in the Middle East. Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Turkey have all outlawed Hizb ut-Tahrir, according to the New York-based Counter Extremism Project.”

Daily Caller: Nations Accused Of Human Rights Violations Lecture World At Davos

“... Qatar has been accused by several U.S. allies of state-sponsored terrorism, and serves as a hub for terror financing and a “safe haven for religious extremists expelled by other countries,” according to The Counter Extremism Project. Qatar indirectly funds Hamas with hundreds of millions of dollars through its funding of Gaza and has blamed Israel as being “responsible” for the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, according to The Foundation of Defense for Democracies.”

DW News: What Is Behind The Allegations Against Israel?

“The European Union's foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell has accused Israel of financing the creation of the Palestinian militant group Hamas. He alleged that Israel supported the militant group to weaken the more moderate Palestinian Authority. In the past, Israel's prime minister has denied similar allegations of supporting the militant group responsible for the terror attacks in Israel on October 7. Borrell made these allegations during a speech at a university in Spain without elaborating.”

BBC News: Germany's Far-Right Faces Protests Over Deportation Plan

“This meeting in November that came to light a couple of days ago really just confirmed the fact that we have a deeply, deeply anti-democratic strand in this party which, unfortunately, is polling between 20% - 30% nationally.”

United States

Associated Press: US Forces Strike Houthi Sites In Yemen As Biden Says Allied Action Hasn’t Yet Stopped Ship Attacks

“U.S. forces on Thursday conducted a fifth strike against Iranian-backed Houthi rebel military sites in Yemen as President Joe Biden acknowledged that the American and British bombardment had yet to stop the militants’ attacks on vessels in the Red Sea that have disrupted global shipping. The latest strikes destroyed two Houthi anti-ship missiles that “were aimed into the southern Red Sea and prepared to launch,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter. They were conducted by Navy F/A-18 fighter aircraft, the Pentagon said. Biden said the U.S. would continue the strikes, even though so far they have not stopped the Houthis from continuing to harass commercial and military vessels. “When you say working, are they stopping the Houthis, no. Are they going to continue, yes,” Biden said in an exchange with reporters before departing the White House for a domestic policy speech in North Carolina.”

NPR: U.S. Personnel Are Injured After Iranian-Backed Militants Attacked An Iraq Air Base

“An unknown number of U.S. service members and at least one Iraqi service member suffered injuries in an attack by Iranian-backed militants on an air base in western Iraq, U.S. officials said. A barrage of missiles and rockets targeted the Ain al-Asad base on Saturday evening, U.S. Central Command said in a statement. Most of the missiles were intercepted by the base's air defense systems, according to the military, but an untold number hit the base where Americans and Iraqis are stationed. A damage assessment is ongoing. A "number" of U.S. personnel are being evaluated for traumatic brain injuries, CENTCOM said, without specifying how many. Last month, three U.S. service members were wounded, one critically, in a drone attack on their base in northern Iraq. The U.S. responded with airstrikes that it said destroyed facilities and likely killed a number of Kataib Hezbollah militants in Iraq.”

The New York Times: 2 Navy SEALs Declared Dead After Mission To Stop Iranian Weapons

“The U.S. military said on Sunday that it had declared two Navy SEALs dead after they went missing 10 days ago during an operation at sea to intercept weapons from Iran headed to Houthi fighters. They are among the first known U.S. fatalities in Washington’s campaign against the Houthis, who have launched dozens of attacks on ships in the Red Sea since November, roiling the global shipping industry. In recent weeks, the United States and its allies have launched a barrage of strikes on the Houthis inside Yemen, in a bid to deter future attacks on vessels in the Red Sea. The episode involving the SEALs occurred in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Somalia on Jan. 11. During that nighttime commando mission, according to the U.S. military, American troops boarded a small boat, called a dhow, and seized weapons including Iranian made ballistic-missile and cruise-missile components bound for Yemen.”


Associated Press: An Israeli Airstrike On The Syrian Capital Killed At Least 5 Iranian Advisers, Officials Say

“An Israeli strike on the Syrian capital on Saturday destroyed a building used by the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, killing at least five Iranians, Syrian and Iranian state media reported. The Syrian army said the building in the tightly guarded western Damascus neighborhood of Mazzeh was entirely destroyed, adding that the Israeli air force fired the missiles while flying over Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Israeli military did not comment.  A few hours later, an Israeli drone strike on a car near the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre killed two people, including a Hezbollah member, who were in the vehicle and two people who were in a nearby orchard, an official with the group and Lebanon’s state news agency said. One of those killed was Ali Hudruj, a local Hezbollah commander, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, without giving further details.”


BBC: Iran Warns Air Strike On Syria Will Not Go Unanswered

“Ebrahim Raisi said Israel was to blame for the attack, which also killed a number of Syrian forces. Israel has not commented. For years it has carried out strikes on Iranian-linked targets in Syria. Such strikes have intensified since the Israel-Gaza war began following Hamas's 7 October attacks on Israel. In a statement posted on the president's officials website, Mr Raisi expressed his condolences to the families of the "high-ranking martyrs". He vowed to avenge their deaths, and described the attack as a "cowardly assassination of five of Iran's most distinguished advisors". The statement described the strike as "terrorist and criminal" and said it "shows the height of [Israel's] desperation and weakness against the combatants of the resistance front". "It will not remain unanswered," said the statement. Iran's foreign ministry said the attacks were an "aggressive and provocative" act by Israel, urging international actors to condemn then”


Reuters: Iraq Finds Nearly $800 Million Fraud In Funds For Islamic State Victims - State Media

“Iraq's National Security Service announced it had uncovered a corruption scheme involving fraud and embezzlement of payments intended for victims of Islamic State that saw more than 1 trillion Iraqi dinars ($760 million) taken from state coffers. Iraqi state media said a three-month investigation had led to the arrest of more than 30 suspects including senior employees at several state entities such as retirement funds and the country's Martyrs Foundation. The alleged corruption scheme based in Anbar province saw defendants falsify pension transactions with faked identities and false credit card information and sell confidential data. The wasted funds totalled more than 1 trillion 32 billion Iraq dinars, state media said. Islamic State rampaged across Iraq in 2014, at one point holding nearly a third of Iraq's territory before it was beaten back and declared territorially defeated in Iraq by the end of 2017. Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has said one of his priorities is fighting the rampant corruption that pervades the Iraqi state and has led to the pilfering of billions of its oil wealth over the years.”


Associated Press: A Russian Private Jet Carrying 6 People Crashes In Afghanistan. The Taliban Say Some Survived

“A Russian private jet carrying six people crashed in a remote area of rural Afghanistan but the pilot and some of the others on board survived, the Taliban said Sunday. The crash happened Saturday in a mountainous area in Badakhshan province, regional spokesman Zabihullah Amiri said, adding that a rescue team was dispatched to the area. The province is some 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. It is a rural, mountainous area, home to only several thousand people. The Taliban’s Transportation and Civil Aviation Ministry issued a statement online saying the plane was found in the province’s Kuf Ab district, near the Aruz Koh mountain. “The pilot was found by the search team of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the statement said. “According to the pilot, four people including the pilot are alive. ... The search and assistance of the Islamic Emirate investigation team for the remaining survivors is ongoing.”


Bloomberg: Pakistan Schools, Universities In Capital Close On Attack Threat

“The schools and universities in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, closed on Monday after police reported a threat of a terrorist attack at education institutions by a banned militant group. The Islamabad police received the threat of a suicide attack, Inspector Inamullah Khan at Islamabad’s police control said on phone, without identifying the terrorist group that issued the threat. All education institutions are being closed, he said. The capital’s top universities have closed down, Geo television channel reported. Terrorist attacks have increased manifold in the South Asian country that the government mainly blames on Tehreek-e-Taiban Pakistan, an offshoot of Afghanistan’s group.”

Associated Press: Pakistani Security Forces Kill 7 Militants During A Raid Near The Border With Afghanistan

“Pakistan security forces killed seven militants in a shootout in the country’s volatile southwest near the border with Afghanistan, the military said Monday. The military said the intelligence-based operation was conducted in Zhob district in southwestern Baluchistan province. In a brief statement, it said security forces also recovered munitions after the shootout. Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, where Baloch nationalists, Islamic militants and the Islamic State group have claimed responsibility for attacks on security forces in recent years. Gas-rich Baluchistan province at the border with Afghanistan and Iran has been the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch nationalists for more than two decades. They initially wanted a share of provincial resources, but later demanded independence.”

Associated Press: Pakistan Seeks To De-Escalate Crisis With Iran After Deadly Airstrikes That Spiked Tensions

“Pakistan’s political and military leaders on Friday moved to de-escalate tensions with Iran after this week’s deadly airstrikes by Tehran and Islamabad that killed at least 11 people and marked a significant escalation in fraught relations between the neighbors. The decision was apparently reached at a meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee, chaired by caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul-Haq-Kakar on his return home after cutting short his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Pakistan’s powerful army chief Gen. Asim Munir attended the meeting. A statement after the meeting said the leadership discussed the situation following the Iranian airstrikes and praised the “professional, calibrated and proportionate response” by Pakistan’s military. The committee stressed that existing communication channels between Pakistan and Iran “should be used to address each other’s security concerns in the larger interest of regional peace and stability,” according to the statement.”


Reuters: Iranian And Hezbollah Commanders Help Direct Houthi Attacks In Yemen

“Commanders from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Lebanon's Hezbollah group are on the ground in Yemen helping to direct and oversee Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping, four regional and two Iranian sources told Reuters. Iran - which has armed, trained and funded the Houthis - stepped up its weapons supplies to the militia in the wake of the war in Gaza, which erupted after Iranian-backed militants Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, the four regional sources said. Tehran has provided advanced drones, anti-ship cruise missiles, precision-strike ballistic missiles and medium-range missiles to the Houthis, who started targeting commercial vessels in November in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, the sources said. IRGC commanders and advisers are also providing know-how, data and intelligence support to determine which of the dozens of vessels travelling through the Red Sea each day are destined for Israel and constitute Houthi targets, all the sources said.”

Reuters: Yemen's Houthis Say They Do Not Seek To Expand Red Sea Attacks

“Yemen's Houthis have said they did not intend to expand their attacks on shipping in and around the Red Sea further, beyond their stated aims of blockading Israel and retaliating against the United States and Britain for air strikes. In an interview with Reuters, spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam, who is also the chief Houthi negotiator in peace talks over the country's decade-old civil war, told Reuters the group had no plans to target longstanding foes Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. "We do not want the escalation to expand. This is not our demand. We imposed rules of engagement in which not a single drop of blood was shed or major material losses," said Abdulsalam. "It represented pressure on Israel only, it did not represent pressure on any country in the world." The Iran-aligned Houthis, who control most of Yemen's populated areas, have attacked ships at the mouth of the Red Sea since October, in what they say is a show of solidarity with Palestinians by targeting vessels linked to Israel.”

Voice Of America: Houthis Won't Target Chinese, Russian Ships In Red Sea

“A senior official of the Iranian-backed Houthi terrorist group says Chinese and Russian vessels will have safe passage through the Red Sea. Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi political leadership, said in an interview with the Russian outlet Izvestia that the shipping lanes around Yemen are safe to ships from China and Russia as long as vessels are not connected with Israel, Agence France-Presse reported Friday, citing Izvestia. The Houthis have said they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians amid Israel’s war against Hamas militants in Gaza and have carried out more than 30 attacks in the Red Sea. However, the Houthis have launched attacks on ships with no apparent connection with Israel, resulting in some shipping firms avoiding the shipping lanes where the Houthis have launched attacks. Major shipping companies have responded by rerouting vessels on the longer and more expensive route around Africa. The Red Sea route is a vital shipping link between Europe and Asia, carrying about 15% of the world’s maritime traffic.”


Reuters: Two Hezbollah Fighters Killed By Israeli Drone In Lebanon

“Two Hezbollah fighters were killed on Sunday when an Israeli drone hit their vehicle in southern Lebanon, security sources said. Their ranks were not revealed but a source close to the Iranian-backed group said they were not senior figures. It was the latest strike in an area where Israel has targeted dozens of Hezbollah fighters. Israel's military said it does not comment on foreign reports. Earlier, residents and security officials said a drone had killed two people and injured at least four others near the village of Kafra 8km from the border. Hezbollah has been trading fire across Lebanon's southern border with Israeli forces in support of the militia group's Palestinian ally Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas militants rampaged across the Gaza border into Israel on Oct. 7, prompting an Israeli invasion of the enclave backed by heavy air strikes that has killed thousands and laid much of the heavily populated area to waste.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Palestinian Death Toll In Gaza Surpasses 25,000 While Israel Announces The Death Of Another Hostage

“The Palestinian death toll from the war between Israel and Hamas has soared past 25,000, the Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip said Sunday, while Israel announced the death of another hostage and appeared far from achieving its goals of freeing more than 100 others and crushing the militant group. The war’s deaths, destruction and displacement are without precedent in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The war has divided Israelis while the offensive threatens to ignite a wider conflict involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen that support the Palestinians. Furious with the Israeli government and demanding the release of remaining hostages, relatives and others set up a tent camp outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem and vowed to stay until a deal is reached.”

Reuters: Netanyahu Rejects Hamas Conditions For Israeli Hostage Deal

“Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rejected conditions presented by Hamas to end the war and release hostages that would include Israel's complete withdrawal and leaving Hamas in power in Gaza. As Israeli planes resumed bombing Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters the Israeli leader's refusal to end the military offensive in Gaza "means there is no chance for the return of the (Israeli) captives." "In exchange for the release of our hostages, Hamas demands the end of the war, the withdrawal of our forces from Gaza, the release of all the murderers and rapists," Netanyahu said in a statement. "And leaving Hamas intact." "I reject outright the terms of surrender of the monsters of Hamas," Netanyahu said. Under a deal brokered in late November by the United States, Qatar and Egypt, more than 100 of the estimated 240 hostages taken captive to Gaza during an attack by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 were freed in exchange for the release of 240 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons.”


Reuters: President Sisi Says Egypt Will Not Allow Any Threat To Somalia Or Its Security

“Egypt will not allow any threat to Somalia, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Sunday after Ethiopia said it would consider recognising an independence claim by Somaliland in a deal that would give it access to a sea port. The remarks were the strongest yet made on the issue by Egypt, which already has frosty relations with Ethiopia, and were a sign that Cairo may get involved in a dispute that has raised fresh tensions in the volatile Horn of Africa. Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not won recognition from any country. The port lease deal, which was agreed earlier this month but not yet finalised, would be a boon to landlocked Ethiopia and has enraged Somalia. "Egypt will not allow anyone to threaten Somalia or affect its security," Sisi said, speaking at a news conference with visiting Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. "Do not try Egypt, or try to threaten its brothers especially if they ask it to intervene," he added.”


Reuters: Russia Says It Pressed Hamas To Free Hostages During Moscow Delegation Visit

“The Russian foreign ministry said on Friday it had received a delegation from the Hamas movement and had urged it to release hostages the group is holding in the Gaza strip, including three Russian nationals. The ministry said in a statement that Mikhail Bogdanov, a deputy foreign minister, had received Hamas Politburo member Abu Marzouk. "During the conversation, the focus was on the ongoing confrontation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone, against the backdrop of which the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip has reached catastrophic proportions," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "The Russian side stressed the need for the speedy release of civilians captured during the attacks of 7 October 2023 and held by Palestinian factions, including three Russian citizens - A. Kozlov, A. Lobanov and A. Trufanov."

In a separate statement, issued later on Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Bogdanov also held talks with Israel's ambassador to Russia, Simona Halperin. The ministry said Russia supported a comprehensive Middle East settlement based on U.N. Security Council decisions.”


Reuters: Hundreds Of Thousands Demonstrate Against Right-Wing Extremism In Germany

“Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets across towns and cities in Germany this weekend as the country enters a second week of nationwide protests against the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Demonstrations have gained momentum after reports emerged from investigative news website Correctiv of a meeting of right-wing extremists in Potsdam at which migration policies including mass deportations of people of foreign origin were discussed. The AfD, which is polling second in nationwide surveys, has denied the reported migration plans are party policy. On Sunday, rallies were held in Berlin, Munich and Cologne, as well as in more traditional AfD voting strongholds in eastern Germany such as Leipzig and Dresden, with turnout in many places far higher than expected.”


Politico: EU’s Top Diplomat Accuses Israel Of Funding Hamas

“The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell on Friday openly accused Israel of having financed the Palestinian militant group Hamas. “Hamas was financed by the Israeli government in an attempt to weaken the Palestinian Authority,” Borrell was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper El País. Borrell was speaking at Spain’s University of Valladolid, where the Spanish politician was awarded an honorary doctorate. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied such allegations in the past. In his speech Friday, Borrell — who is in charge of EU foreign policy — also stressed that creating a Palestinian state is necessary in order to solve the ongoing conflict. “The only solution is to create two states that share the land for which they have been dying for 100 years,” Borrell was quoted as saying. He added that such a solution must be “imposed from the outside.” The Israeli government pushed back strongly against Borrell’s accusations.”

Southeast Asia

Bloomberg: Vietnam Sentences 100 People In Terrorism Trial, VnExpress Says

“Ten people received life sentences for attacks last year on government offices in Vietnam, news website VnExpress reported, citing a court verdict for around 100 defendants in the case. Nine people including four police officers were killed in the attacks in June that took place in the coffee-growing province of Dak Lak, and others were seriously injured.  In addition to those facing life imprisonment, a total of 43 people were also charged with “terrorism against the people’s government” and will serve between 6 and 20 years. A further 45 defendants have been sentenced to up to 11 years on charges of terrorism, according to the VnExpress English service. The Central Highlands, known for its coffee production, has a history of political unrest among minority groups over land rights.”

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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