Eye on Extremism: January 24, 2023

New York Daily News: Terror Trial Begins For NYC Man Accused Of Training ISIS Snipers: ‘He Taught Them To Kill’

“The ex-wife of an accused radical who abandoned America and his family to become an ISIS sniper told jurors on Monday that his terrorist transformation seemed like something out of a movie. Ruslan Asainov’s former spouse testified at his trial in Brooklyn Federal Court on charges that he conspired to provide material support for terrorists while training snipers for ISIS. She said the loving husband and father-turned-violent-extremist sent his estranged wife pictures of dead soldiers and photos of himself in camouflage holding an assault rifle to show his commitment to the terrorist cause. After Asainov abruptly pulled up roots in the U.S. in 2013 and made his way to Syria to become a “warrior, sniper and sniper trainer” for the jihadi organization, he and his wife remained in contact, though their exchanges were tense, she said.”

Reuters: Analysis: Iraqi PM Walks Diplomatic Tightrope In Crackdown On Dollars Smuggled To Iran

“Under pressure from Washington to stem the flow of dollars into Iran, Iraq's prime minister sent elite counter-terrorism forces more accustomed to battling Islamist militants to shut down dealers smuggling the currency to the Islamic Republic. Saturday's raids in Baghdad represent an early test for Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani, who took office in October after more than a year of political paralysis and must now tread a delicate diplomatic path. The New York Federal Reserve introduced tighter controls on international dollar transactions by commercial Iraqi banks in November. The move was designed to stop the illegal siphoning of dollars to Iran and apply more pressure along with U.S sanctions imposed over Tehran's nuclear programme and other disputes, leaving Tehran struggling to source dollars. Aqeel al-Fatlawi, a Shi'ite lawmaker, accused Washington of deliberately using the new regulations as a political weapon.”

United States

Maine Public Radio: White Supremacists Might Be To Blame For An Uptick In Power Grid Attacks In The PNW

“…Neo-Nazi groups have launched several plots to take out the U.S. grid in recent years. They've even put out how-to manuals to make it easier to attack vulnerable parts of the nation's critical infrastructure. Joshua Fisher-Birch is a researcher with the Counter Extremism Project, which tracks these groups' online activities. JOSHUA FISHER-BIRCH: The recent substation attacks have been spoken about in glowing terms by certain members of the extreme right and particularly by neo-Nazi accelerationists.”


Reuters: U.N. Aid Chief Raises Women's Rights Concerns With Taliban In Afghan Capital

“The United Nations' aid chief visited Kabul on Monday and raised concerns over women's education and work with the Taliban administration's acting minister of foreign affairs, an Afghan ministry statement said. The Taliban-run administration last month ordered NGOs not to allow most female employees to work, prompting many aid agencies to partially suspend operations in the midst of a humanitarian crisis unfolding during a bitterly cold winter. U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths raised the issue of women's education and work and how this affected the U.N.'s operations, according to a ministry of foreign affairs statement. Speaking generally about Griffiths's visit to Afghanistan, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Griffiths would engage the Taliban administration "with the same message that we've been delivering since the beginning on the need to to rollback the policies that were put in place" on women.”


The Diplomat: Resurgence Of Terrorism In Pakistan  

“Pakistan has witnessed a renewed spate of terrorism in recent months, particularly after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) called off its ceasefire and asked its fighters to resume countrywide attacks. Since the Afghan Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, there has been a 55 percent increase in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Terrorism’s resurgence has brought into sharp focus the fragility of Pakistan’s counterterrorism gains. While Pakistan will have to adopt a more proactive counterterrorism policy, an analysis of factors underlying the resurgence of terrorism is important, as a comprehensive understanding of the problem will pave the way for informed policymaking.”


Reuters: Lebanon Blast Investigator Charges Former PM, Top Public Prosecutor

“The judge probing the 2020 Beirut blast has charged Lebanon's top public prosecutor, the then-premier and other senior current and former officials in connection with the devastating explosion, judicial sources said and court summons show. Judge Tarek Bitar unexpectedly resumed an inquiry on Monday after it was paralysed for more than a year by political resistance and legal complaints filed by top officials he was seeking to question. The explosion on Aug. 4, 2020 was caused by hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate that had been stored at the port in poor conditions since it was unloaded in 2013. So far, no senior official has been held to account. Bitar has charged prime minister Hassan Diab and former ministers with homicide with probable intent, according to court summons seen by Reuters on Tuesday. He also charged Prosecutor General Ghassan Oweidat, the head of Lebanon's domestic intelligence agency Major General Abbas Ibrahim, former army commander Jean Kahwaji and other current and former security and judicial officials, court sources said.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Hezbollah Erects New Watchtowers On Lebanon Border As IDF Builds Defensive Wall

“Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror group has established new tall observation posts on Israel’s northern border as the Israel Defense Forces has ramped up the construction of a defensive wall. Residents of the northern town of Shtula who spoke to the Ynet news site and Channel 12 news said one such 18-meter-high tower, a few dozen meters from the border, had been constructed over the past month, right where the IDF was replacing its aging border fence with a nine-meter-high concrete wall. The Israeli military has long accused Hezbollah of conducting clandestine activities along the Israel-Lebanon border under the guise of an environmental group known as “Green Without Borders,” and published details of one such new site last year. Ynet’s northern correspondent reported that at least 20 posts manned by Hezbollah members in civilian clothing 24 hours a day have been built over the past year. Some of the posts are just meters away from the internationally recognized border between the countries — known as the Blue Line — and IDF positions on the other side of the fence. According to the IDF, the alleged Hezbollah positions represent a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war.”


Associated Press: UN Rights Chief Condemns Killing Of Activist In Eswatini

“United Nations humans rights chief Volker Türk on Monday condemned the “brutal killing” of a leading pro-democracy activist in the southern African nation of Eswatini, which is one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies. Human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko was shot in his home on Saturday, Türk said in a statement. He called on Eswatini authorities to ensure there was an independent and effective investigation into the killing. Maseko was a leading figure in the push for Eswatini to transition into a multi-party democracy. He was imprisoned in 2014 for allegedly criticizing the judicial system’s lack of independence, the U.N. said. He was acquitted on appeal and released a year later. Eswatini was formerly known as Swaziland and is a country of just over 1 million that borders South Africa and Mozambique. It is Africa’s last remaining absolute monarchy and has been ruled by King Mswati III since 1986.”

Associated Press: Governor Declares Emergency In Sudan Province After 4 Killed

“Armed men opened fire on a bus station in southern Sudan on Monday, officials said, killing at least four people and prompting authorities to declare a monthlong state of emergency. Officials in South Kordofan province said the attack in the provincial capital of Kadugli wounded at least four others. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place as the victims were heading to areas controlled by a rebel group, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, local media reported. Mousa Gaber Mahmoud, South Kordofan’s acting provincial governor, called the attack “unfortunate,” pledging that local authorities “will spare no effort to regain security and stability” in the province. He said a state of emergency took effect Monday across the southern province on the border with South Sudan.”

Reuters: Cameroon Denies Asking For Help To Mediate Separatist Conflict

“Cameroon's government said it had not asked any country to mediate in its conflict with Anglophone separatists, despite Canada saying it had received a request to work on a peace process. Canada's foreign ministry said it had accepted a mandate to facilitate talks between Cameroonian authorities and some separatist factions in English-speaking regions to resolve a conflict that has killed more than 6,000 people since 2017. But, in a statement on Monday that did not directly mention Canada, Cameroon's government said it had "not entrusted any foreign country or external entity with any role of mediator or facilitator to settle the crisis". A spokesperson for the Anglophone separatists, who are trying to form a breakaway state called Ambazonia in minority English-speaking regions, said they had taken note of the government's latest statement but would not comment further.”

Reuters: Prominent Cameroon Journalist Found Dead After Abduction

“The mutilated body of a prominent Cameroonian journalist was found on Sunday near the capital Yaounde five days after he was abducted by unidentified assailants, the press union and a colleague said on Sunday. Media advocates described Martinez Zogo's disappearance and death as a further sign of the perils of reporting in the African country. Zogo, the director of private radio station Amplitude FM, was kidnapped on Jan. 17 by unknown assailants after trying to enter a police station to escape his attackers, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said. Zogo had recently been talking on air about a case of alleged embezzlement involving a media outlet with government connections, RSF said. "Cameroonian media has just lost one of its members, a victim of hatred and barbarism," Cameroon's journalists' trade union said in a statement. "Where is the freedom of the press, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression in Cameroon when working in the media now entails a mortal risk?”

Reuters: Islamists Suspected Of Killing About 20 People In Eastern Congo Raid

“Suspected Islamists killed about 20 people in a raid on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday night, a local chief and a military official said on Monday. Both blamed the killings on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group based in eastern Congo that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State and wages frequent attacks. "We were attacked last night in the village of Mukungwe in Beni territory. It is the ADFs who stormed the village," said Eugene Matsozi, the customary chief of the area. "So far we have buried 24 people," he said. Colonel Charles Omeonga, the military administrator of Beni territory, said "around 20" villagers were killed but that he was waiting for a final assessment. Troops are in pursuit of the attackers, he added.”


Asharq Al-Awsat: France Repatriates 15 Women, 32 Children From Syrian ISIS Camps

“France repatriated 15 women and 32 children held in ISIS prison camps in northeastern Syria, the French foreign ministry said Tuesday. "The minors were handed over to the services in charge of child assistance and will be subject to medical and social monitoring," the ministry said in a statement. It added that "the adults have been handed over to the competent judicial authorities". Over the past decade, thousands of extremists in Europe travelled to Syria to become fighters with the ISIS, often taking their families to live in the self-declared "caliphate" it set up in territory seized in Iraq and Syria. Since the "caliphate" fell in 2019, the return of family members of fighters who were captured or killed has been a thorny issue for European countries.”


Fox News: German Prosecutors Indict 5 People For Treason, Forming 'Terrorist Organization' Aimed At Sparking A Civil War

“Federal prosecutors in Germany said Monday that they have indicted five people for treason and forming a "terrorist organization" that aimed to topple the government and spark a civil war. Prosecutors said the suspects, four men and one woman, had made "concrete preparations" to cause a large-scale blackout in the country and use the ensuing chaos to establish an alternative government. They also allegedly planned to kidnap the country’s health minister, Karl Lauterbach, who has faced extreme vitriol from opponents of the government's pandemic restrictions. The group is accused of being driven by the ‘Reich Citizens’ ideology propagated by one of its members, who was identified only as Elisabeth R. due to German privacy rules. All five German citizens were arrested last year and remain in pre-trial detention. Authorities uncovered a similar plot by another, larger far-right group last month. Its members were also adherents of the Reich Citizens movement that believes the current government is illegitimate and that the German constitution of 1871 is still in force.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


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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