Eye on Extremism: January 23, 2023

CNN: US Strike Kills Approximately 30 Al-Shabaab Fighters In Somalia

“The United States carried out a strike in Somalia that killed approximately 30 al-Shabaab fighters, US Africa Command said in a statement Saturday. US forces on Friday “conducted a collective self-defense strike” in support of Somalia National Army forces who were “engaged in heavy fighting following a complex, extended, intense attack by more than 100 al-Shabaab fighters,” the statement said, referring to the terror group linked to al Qaeda. There were no US military present on the ground when the airstrike occurred, a US defense official said. The strike occurred about 260 kilometers northeast of the Somali capital of Mogadishu, near Galcad. US Africa Command assessed that no civilians were injured or killed due to the remote location. The US has provided ongoing support to the Somali government since President Joe Biden approved a Pentagon request to redeploy US troops to the area in an attempt to counter the terrorist group in May 2022. The approval to send fewer than 500 troops was a reversal of former President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all US troops from the country in 2020.”

Associated Press: Burkina Faso Ends Ties With French Troops, Orders Departure

“Burkina Faso’s junta government late Saturday ordered hundreds of French troops to depart the West African country within a month, following in the path of neighboring Mali, whose nation is also headed by a coup leader. National broadcaster RTB made the announcement, citing the official Agence d’Information du Burkina. The news agency said the decision had been made Wednesday to end the presence of France’s military on Burkinabe soil. Protesters took to the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, last week to call for the ouster of the French ambassador and the closure of a French military base north of the capital. About 400 French special forces soliders are currently based there, France 24 reported. The move by Burkina Faso’s regime comes five months after France completed its withdrawal from Mali after nine years fighting Islamic extremists alongside regional troops. Many of those are now based in Niger and Chad instead.”

United States

Daily Kos: Power Substation Attacks Often Fit Into Neofascist Terrorism Blueprint, But Sometimes They Don’t 

“…Researcher Joshua Fisher-Birch of the Counter Extremism Project told KUOW/OPB that the some extremists were energized by the attacks in North Carolina and those in the Northwest. “The recent substation attacks have been spoken about in glowing terms by certain members of the extreme right, particularly by neo-Nazi accelerationists and white supremacist accelerationists who subscribe to this ideology where they want to push chaos,” Fisher-Birch said.”

Syria

  

The Washington Post: Court Orders Canada To Repatriate Suspected ISIS Affiliates Held In Syria

“The Canadian government must work to bring home four Canadian men detained in Syria, a judge has ruled, a victory for families who say Canada has violated their relatives’ rights by leaving them in squalid prisons and camps there for years. Justice Henry Brown of the federal court in Ottawa ordered the Canadian government Friday to provide the men with emergency travel documents and to put in a request to Kurdish authorities — who oversee the detention centers — to repatriate them. The men are among tens of thousands of foreign nationals held by Kurdish authorities for allegedly having ties to the Islamic State. They continue to languish in Kurdish-controlled northeast Syria, more than three years after U.S.-backed Kurdish forces declared military victory over the extremist group. The prisons and camps where alleged former Islamic State fighters, their wives and children have been held are overcrowded and unsanitary, and plagued by violence and disease. Rights groups say the conditions are life-threatening.”

Reuters: U.S. Military Says It Captured Two Islamic State Members In Syria

“American forces have captured two Islamic State members during an air and ground assault in eastern Syria, the U.S. military's Central Command said in a statement released on Sunday. The raid happened on Saturday, according to Col. Joe Buccino, a Central Command spokesperson, adding that one civilian received "minor injuries" during the attack and was treated at a nearby medical facility before being released back to his family. Few other details of the raid were disclosed. Central Command alluded to the presence of "partner forces" - language which in the past has been used to refer to the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Syrian Kurdish armed group that helped the U.S. and its allies defeat Islamic State. Central Command did not immediately return a message seeking further information about the attack.”

Iran

Reuters: EU Says It Cannot Brand Iran's Guards As Terror Group Before Court Ruling

“The European Union cannot list Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity until an EU court has determined that they are, the European Union's foreign policy chief said on Monday. EU foreign ministers are however set to add 37 names to the bloc's list of people and entities subject to sanctions over human rights violations in Iran, two European diplomats told Reuters last week. The European Parliament has called on the EU to list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist entity, blaming it for the repression of domestic protests and the supply of drones to Russia. "It is something that cannot be decided without a court, a court decision first. You cannot say I consider you a terrorist because I don't like you," Josep Borrell, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs, told reporters as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.”

Afghanistan

Voice Of America: Despite Taliban Ban, Secret Schools Educate Afghan Girls

“Every morning, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Kabul, Afghanistan, girls secretly gather in a house to study, something that millions of girls around the world do freely. As the global community marks International Day of Education on Tuesday, Afghanistan is the only country where girls are forbidden to attend school. Calling the restriction on learning and teaching as an attack on human dignity, UNESCO has dedicated this year's observation to Afghan girls and women. Shortly after regaining power in August 2021, the Taliban closed most of the country’s secondary schools for girls, barring millions from getting an education after sixth grade. Nearly 500 days later, the ban persists, despite international calls for reversal. While most public and private schools for girls in Afghanistan remain empty, underground schools are spreading.”

PBS: UN Says Taliban Is Divided On Whether Or Not To Restore Women’s Rights

“A delegation led by the highest-ranking woman at the United Nations urged the Taliban during a four-day visit to Afghanistan that ended Friday to reverse their crackdown on women and girls. Some Taliban officials were more open to restoring women’s rights but others were clearly opposed, a U.N. spokesman said. The U.N. team met with the Taliban in the capital of Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar. It did not release the names of any of the Taliban officials. The meetings focused on the restrictive measures the Taliban have imposed on women and girls since they took power in August 2021, during the final weeks of the U.S. and NATO forces’ pullout after 20 years of war. The team, headed by U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, found that some Taliban officials “have been cooperative and they’ve received some signs of progress,” said U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq. “The key thing is to reconcile the (Taliban) officials that they’ve met who’ve been more helpful with those who have not.” Haq stressed that “there are many different points of authority” among the Taliban and that the U.N. team will try to get them to “work together to advance the goals that we want, which include most crucially, bringing women and girls back to the full enjoyment of their rights.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Bombing Derails Passenger Train In SW Pakistan, Injures 15

“A bomb planted by suspected militants derailed a passenger train in a remote area in southwestern Pakistan on Friday, injuring at least 15 people on board, officials said. A separatist group later claimed responsibility. The train was passing through the district of Bolan in Baluchistan province when the bomb went off, according to a district administrator, Samiullah Agha. The explosion was so powerful that it derailed eight train cars, Agha said. Rescuers transported the injured to a nearby hospital, and engineers were repairing the damaged rail tracks. Some of the more seriously injured were moved to a military hospital in Quetta, the provincial capital in Baluchistan. Hours later, the separatist Baluchistan Liberation Army, which was designated a “terrorist” group by the United States in 2019, claimed responsibility for the attack. Azad Baloch, a spokesman for the group, said their fighters targeted security forces traveling by train to the garrison city of Rawalpindi in eastern Punjab province.”

Egypt

The National: Cairo Court Sentences Six ISIS-Affiliated Militants To Death

“A Cairo terrorism court on Sunday sentenced six men to death by hanging, and another to life imprisonment, for their involvement in a terrorist cell affiliated with the Egyptian branch of ISIS. Five of the men were referred to the country’s Grand Mufti in November for approval of their executions, a necessary legal procedure. Their sentencing was postponed to late December and again to Sunday. Two were charged with forming a terrorist unit known as the Heliopolis cell, an ISIS-affiliated local group that between 2014 and 2021 operated in Cairo, Giza and Luxor, court officials said. They were charged with leading the organisation. State prosecutors accused them of forming it to incite public disorder, compromise national security and endanger the Egyptian people. The other men were accused of joining the group with full knowledge of its intention to commit terrorist acts and incite disorder. State prosecutors told state media that two of the men had served as leaders in the Sinai Province branch of the ISIS, which continues to operate north of the Sinai Peninsula. All of the defendants were convicted of funding terrorism through their continued dealing with the Sinai group, which prosecutors said repeatedly received weapons, funds and other supplies from the Heliopolis cell.”

Somalia

i24 News: Somalia, Al Qaeda-Linked Jihadists Say Over 100 Killed In ‘Intense Attack’

“The Somali government last year declared 'total war' against the Al Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab extremist group. Somalia and Al Qaeda-linked jihadists both claimed more than 100 people were killed on Friday in their deadliest battle since the government launched a military offensive against the extremists in August last year. Mogadishu said in a statement that more than 100 Al Shabaab fighters died after they attacked a Somali National Army base in central Somalia that was recently retaken. The government said seven soldiers – including an officer from the U.S.-trained Danab brigade – were killed in the “intense attack” but urged that the military remained in control of the base. A spokesman for the Al Shabaab jihadists, Sheikh Abu Musub, said the death toll was over 150. Neither side’s claim could be independently verified, but a resident of the Galcad region Abukar Uluso confirmed to AP News that there was heavy gunfire.”

Associated Press: Extremists Storm Govt Office In Somalia’s Capital; 5 Dead 

“Al-Qaida-linked extremists stormed a regional government office in Somalia’s capital Sunday, and five civilians were killed, the government said. The founder of the Aamin ambulance service, Abdulkadir Adan, told The Associated Press his team collected 16 wounded people from the scene. The al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility for the assault on the Banadir Regional Administration headquarters in Mogadishu. A staff member at the headquarters said the attack began with a suicide bombing before gunmen entered and exchanged fire with security guards. The staffer, Mustafa Abdulle, said most of the workers were rescued by security forces. Al-Shabab often carries out attacks in Mogadishu. The federal government last year declared “total war” on the extremist group and has retaken a number of communities the fighters had controlled in central and southern Somalia.”

  

Mali

North Africa Post: Mali Takes Delivery Of Military Hardware From Russia

“Mali acquired Thursday military equipment including fighter jets and helicopters from Russia to beef up the army in the fight against terrorists. The delivery included one Soukhoï Su-25 attack aircraft, trainer jet Aero L-39 Albatros and several Mi-8 helicopters. Colonel Assimi Goïta, the leader of the transition in the African country, and Igor Gromyko, the Russian ambassador to Mali, were at the airport for the reception. Alou Boi Diarra, the Chief of staff of the Malian army who was also at the ceremony said the equipment will help the armed forces to extend the scope of action and strike quickly at enemies who practice mainly surprise attacks and retreat before any riposte. Mali has been struggling with insecurity since 2012, posed by terror groups and bandits. The insecurity caused international displacement of populations and thousands of victims. The Thursday delivery is the third under Goita who has turned to Russia for military cooperation to curb terrorism. The country took delivery of military equipment from Russia in March and August last year.”

United Kingdom

The National: British Teenager Admits Plotting Islamist Terrorist Attack Against Police Officers

“A British teenager accused of holding extremist beliefs pleaded guilty to planning an Islamist terrorist attack, allegedly with the intention to target police officers or military personnel. Prosecutors said Matthew King, 19, carried out surveillance at police stations, railway stations, a magistrates court and a British Army barracks. At a hearing at the Old Bailey in London on Friday, King pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts. The teenager stood in the dock to enter his plea wearing a grey shirt and sleeveless black padded jacket. His lawyer, Hossein Zahir KC, said the defence had submitted a basis of plea to the court. Judge Mark Lucraft KC adjourned sentencing until April 14 for a pre-sentence report to be prepared, which will include the issue of the danger posed by the defendant. Addressing King, Judge Lucraft stressed it was in his "best interests" to help those preparing the report. Speaking quietly in the dock, King replied: "Understood." Authorities had been tipped off about King through an anti-terrorist hotline and the Prevent counter-terrorism programme after he posted a video on a WhatsApp group on April 13 last year. In it was an image of a male holding a knife with the words: "Those who said that there is no jihad and no battle. They are lying!”

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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