Eye on Extremism: January 24, 2024

Wall Street Journal: Hamas Open To Releasing Some Israeli Hostages For Pause In Fighting, Mediators Say

“Officials of Palestinian militant group Hamas have told international mediators that they are open to discussing a deal to release some of the kidnapped Israelis they are holding hostage in exchange for a significant pause in fighting, Egyptian officials said Tuesday. The overture marks a significant shift by Hamas, which for weeks has insisted it would only negotiate on hostages as part of a comprehensive agreement that would lead to a permanent end to the war that has engulfed Gaza since Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israel says 1,200 people were killed in the attacks and over 240 taken hostage. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to comment. Hamas didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Hamas’s latest proposal comes as fierce fighting rages in the group’s last major stronghold, the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. Israel says that senior Hamas figures are hiding in tunnels under Khan Younis with at least some of the hostages.”

Forbes: Far-Right Extremist Arrested After 4 Years Of Social Media DIY Chemical Weapons Tutorials, FBI Alleges

“In November 2019, the FBI was alerted to a Facebook video, a tutorial on how to produce an “acid gun” that would spray sulfuric acid at a target and potentially disfigure or seriously injure them. The narrator of the video, James Morgan, was already on the feds’ radar when a family member told agents earlier that year they worried he was “extremely racist” and had an “extreme disdain” for law enforcement. In the video, Morgan told viewers that “governments should be afraid of their people… So here’s how you make a device that shoots sulfuric acid.” That’s according to a search warrant and charging documents filed by the Department of Justice in the last month. Since that 2019 tip, the FBI found Wisconsin resident Morgan posted similar videos on Facebook and YouTube for a variety of weapons, from other kinds of “acid throwers” to flamethrowers, the government alleged.”

CEP Mentions

The National: Iran Riding 'Uncomfortable Wave' In Wake Of US-UK Attacks On Houthis

“... However, a dangerous flashpoint between the countries could come over the Iranian spy ship Behshad, which reportedly monitors movements in the southern Red Sea but temporarily departed the area when the first strikes occurred on 11 January. “There is the potential for the Behshad to get caught up in the US response if it's actively directing attacks that the US is trying to prevent. Then it will become a target,” said Mr Fitton-Brown, who is now senior adviser to the Counter Extremism Project. “Washington or London will be saying to the Iranians, 'this ship has put itself in the role of being a combatant against our forces, you might want to think about that.”


Associated Press: Iran Executes Another Prisoner Detained During Nationwide Protests That Erupted In 2022

“Iran on Tuesday hanged another prisoner over crimes committed during nationwide protests that erupted in 2022 following the death of a young woman detained for improperly wearing her headscarf. The hanging of Mohammad Qobadlu, who had been convicted in the death of a policeman, drew condemnation from U.N. experts who said Qobadlu faced unfair proceedings. It was the ninth execution since the protests, according to a count by The Associated Press. A report on state television said Qobadlu was executed after being sentenced for killing a policeman and injuring five others when he ran them over in his car during a rally in the town of Parand, near the capital of Tehran. The TV report said the 23-year-old Qobadlu, who had confessed to his crime, had access to a lawyer during the trial. Qobadlu had appealed his death sentence, handed down by a lower court, but the Supreme Court later upheld the original verdict.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iranian Military Technology And Advisers Aid Houthi Attacks In Red Sea, Officials Say

“Iran is sending increasingly sophisticated weapons to its Houthi allies in Yemen, Western officials and advisers say, enhancing their ability to attack merchant vessels and disrupt international commerce despite weeks of U.S-led airstrikes. The Houthis, once derided as a ragtag militia operating in Yemen’s arid backcountry, have emerged as one of Iran’s most capable proxies, these officials and analysts say, due to the flow of weapons from Tehran—and their own homegrown ingenuity. Among other high-end gear, Iran has provided the Houthis with drone jammers and parts for long-range rockets and missiles. The Iranians and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies have sent advisers to Yemen to help the Houthis plan and launch their attacks.”


Voice Of America: US Strikes Back At Iran-Supported Militants In Iraq

“The United States hit Iranian-backed targets in Iraq and Yemen in a span of about two hours early Wednesday morning, striking a militant headquarters in Iraq and knocking out more missiles in Yemen that were ready to launch into international shipping lanes, according to the U.S. military. U.S. military aircraft hit the Iranian-backed proxies in Iraq just after midnight local time in response to a series of attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in recent days. U.S. officials said the airstrikes targeted three facilities in western Iraq used by Kataib Hezbollah and other Iranian proxy groups. “These strikes targeted KH [Kataib Hezbollah] headquarters, storage, and training locations for rocket, missile, and one-way attack UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle] capabilities,” according to a statement from U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces in the region. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned, separately, that Washington is not ruling out additional strikes, if necessary.”


Associated Press: Trade Resumes As Pakistan And Afghanistan Reopen Torkham Border Crossing After 10 Days

“Trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan resumed Tuesday after the two sides reopened a key northwestern border crossing shut for more than 10 days. Truckers for years have been able to cross the border without documents, so they generally do not have them. But Pakistan began mandating truck drivers get visas last week. The two sides after a series of meetings agreed to reopen the Torkham border crossing but Pakistan set a new deadline of March 31 for the truck drivers to get visas, said Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, a director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Abdul Basir Zabali, the Taliban-appointed spokesman for the police chief in Nangarhar province, said the Torkham crossing was reopened after the two sides talked, but he didn’t give details. The Torkham border crossing has been closed a number of times in recent months, mainly following clashes between the security forces for varied reasons including repairs of the border fence by Pakistan.”


BBC: War In Yemen: UAE Pay For Political Assassinations

“United Arab Emirates (UAE) don pay for politically-motivated assassinations for Yemen, one BBC investigate discover, making di conflict between di Yemen goment and different militant factions, wey recently return to di eyes of di international community, to become worse. Di counter-terrorism training wey America mercenaries give Emirati officers for Yemen na im dem take train area pipo inside Yemen wey fit work low key – dis don make di political assassination to increase, one whistleblower tell BBC Arabic Investigations. Di BBC don also find out say even though di American mercenaries say di purpose of di training na to eliminate jihadist groups al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) for southern Yemen, in fact, UAE don recruit former al-Qaeda members for one security force wey e create inside Yemen to fight di Houthi rebel movement plus oda armed factions. UAE goment don deny di allegations for our investigation – say im bin assassinate pipo wey no get any link to terrorism - saying dem dey "false and witout merit.”

Bloomberg: Red Sea Turmoil Sends Economic Shockwaves Far And Wide

“Two months of missile, drone and hijacking attacks against civilian ships in the Red Sea have caused the biggest diversion of international trade in decades, pushing up costs for shippers as far away as Asia and North America. The disruption is spreading, fueling fears of broader economic fallout. Repeated rounds of retaliatory strikes by the US and its allies, as well as a multinational naval operation to patrol the waters, haven’t stopped the assaults by the Houthi militants that followed the start of the Israel-Hamas war. With sailors demanding double pay and insurance rates skyrocketing, shipping lines are steering clear of a waterway that normally carries 12% of the world’s seaborne trade. More than 500 container ships that would have sailed through the Red Sea to and from the Suez Canal, carrying everything from clothing and toys to auto parts, are now adding two weeks to their routes to travel around the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa, according to Flexport. That’s about a quarter of all the container-shipping capacity in the world, according to the digital logistics platform.”

Middle East

Associated Press: 21 Israeli Troops Are Killed In The Deadliest Attack On The Military Since The Gaza Offensive Began

“Palestinian militants carried out the deadliest single attack on Israeli forces in Gaza since the Hamas raid that triggered the war, killing 21 soldiers, the military said Tuesday — a significant setback that could add to mounting calls for a cease-fire. Hours later, the military announced that ground forces had encircled the southern city of Khan Younis, Gaza’s second largest, and thick, black smoke could be seen rising over the city as thousands of Palestinians fled south. Witnesses said Israeli tanks and troops had also moved into Muwasi, a nearby coastal area that the military had previously declared a safe zone for Palestinians. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mourned the Israeli soldiers, who died when the blast from a rocket-propelled grenade triggered explosives they were laying to blow up buildings. But he vowed to press ahead until “absolute victory,” including crushing Hamas and freeing more than 100 Israeli hostages still held by the militants.”


CBS: Egypt Lashes Out At "Extremist Israeli Leaders" After Netanyahu Says IDF Must Seize Gaza-Egypt Buffer Zone

“Egyptian officials have lashed out over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's suggestion that Israel will have to take control of a roughly 100-yard buffer zone on the Gaza side of the war-torn Palestinian territory's 9-mile-long border with Egypt. Israeli officials have said smuggling across that buffer, known as the Philadelphi Corridor, both above ground and through tunnels, has provided Gaza's Hamas rulers with weapons and other supplies — allegations that Egypt vehemently denies. "The Philadelphi Corridor — or to put it more correctly, the southern stoppage point [of the Gaza Strip] — must be in our hands. It must be shut," Netanyahu said at the end of December, warning that his country's war against Hamas, sparked by the group's brutal Oct. 7 attack on Israel, would go on for many months. "It is clear that any other arrangement would not ensure the demilitarization that we seek.”


Associated Press: Blinken Pitches The US As An Alternative To Russia’s Wagner In Africa’s Troubled Sahel

“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday pitched the United States as a better security partner for Africa in place of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, which he accused of exploiting coup-hit and conflict-hit nations in the continent’s Sahel region. Blinken, who is visiting Nigeria as part of an Africa tour to strengthen bilateral relations, said the U.S. will continue to support Nigeria and other regional partners in their efforts to help stabilize the Sahel, the vast region south of the Sahara Desert that Islamic extremist groups have turned into a global terror hot spot as it struggles with a recent spate of coups. “We hope it can make a difference in restoring the constitutional order and restoring a critical partner in trying to find security in the region,” Blinken told reporters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, speaking in particular about Niger, where a coup has threatened years of support by Western and European nations.”


Associated Press: The US Military Has Carried Out Airstrikes In Somalia That Killed 3 Al-Qaida-Linked Militants

“The U.S. military said Tuesday that it conducted airstrikes in Somalia over the weekend that killed three al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants and that there were no civilian casualties. The U.S. Africa Command, based in Stuttgart Germany, said in a statement that the strikes were done at the request of Somalia’s government, and they were carried out in a remote area about 35 kilometers (20 miles) northeast of port city Kismayo on Sunday. The statement didn’t give the identity of those targeted There was no immediate response from al-Shabab. Al-Shabab is the largest and most active al-Qaida network in the world and has proved both its will and capability to attack U.S. forces and threaten Washington’s security interests, the statement said. The militants have been waging a 16-year-old insurgency against the weak, Western-backed Somali government, which is being bolstered by African Union peacekeeping troops.”

Associated Press: Civil War Turned Somalia’s Main Soccer Stadium Into An Army Camp. Now It’s Hosting Games Again

“A stadium in Somalia’s violence-prone capital is hosting its first soccer tournament in three decades, drawing thousands of people to a sports facility that had been abandoned for decades and later became a military base amid the country’s civil war. Somali authorities have spent years working to restore the national stadium in Mogadishu, and on Dec. 29 Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre inaugurated a national soccer tournament. The competition is a milestone in efforts to restore public life after decades of violence. Somalia’s fragile central government is still struggling to assert itself after the nationwide chaos that began with the fall of dictator Siad Barre in 1991, when public facilities like the Mogadishu stadium fell into neglect. The air crackles with anticipation as thousands pour into the stadium each afternoon. Crowds roar with the thrill of competition.”


Wall Street Journal: Spread Of Militants, Coups Draws U.S. Attention To West Africa

“Top U.S. diplomats, worried about Islamist insurgencies spreading through western Africa, are urging stable countries on the region’s coast to insulate themselves by improving government services and addressing divisive grievances before it is too late. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Ivory Coast this week, touting a $300 million American program to help shore up governments along Africa’s Atlantic Coast, including those in Benin, Ghana, Guinea and Togo. In Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer and one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, Blinken announced $45 million in funding that, among other initiatives, will help equip police in the country and its neighbors to serve as an early-warning system of militant infiltration and recruitment.  “We spent a good deal of time talking about regional security challenges,” Blinken said after meeting Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara in the country’s largest city, Abidjan, on Tuesday. “We appreciate particularly the leadership shown by Côte d’Ivoire in countering a trend of extremism and violence,” he added, using Ivory Coast’s French name.”


Politico: German Court Bans Funding For Extreme-Right Party, Fueling Debate On AfD

“Germany’s top court ruled in favor of cutting state funding for an extreme-right party in a decision that is likely to further fuel an already strident debate in the country about whether legal steps should be taken to rein in the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). In a landmark ruling Tuesday, the Constitutional Court said state financing for a marginal, extremist party known as Die Heimat, or The Homeland — previously known as the National Democratic Party or NPD — could be cut because the party “shows disdain for the free democratic basic order” and aims to replace German democracy with an authoritarian state based on Nazi-era notions of a racially unified Volksgemeinschaft, or “people’s community.” The decision is amplifying an impassioned debate in Germany about whether to undertake a legal effort to counter the AfD. For weeks, politicians have weighed in on the possibility of an outright prohibition of the party. Tuesday’s court decision is now sparking discussion on the possibility of revoking the party’s state funding.”


Associated Press: China Says It’s Working To De-Escalate Tensions In The Red Sea That Have Upended Global Trade

“China, the world’s biggest exporter, says it is deeply concerned about tensions in the Red Sea that have upended global trade by forcing many shippers to avoid the Suez Canal. China has been in “close communication with all parties concerned and making positive efforts to de-escalate” the situation in which Iran-backed Houthi rebels have attacked international ships with missiles, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a daily briefing on Wednesday. “China calls for a halt to the harassment and attacks on civilian ships and urges all relevant parties to avoid fanning flames in the area and jointly ensure the safety and security of the route in the Red Sea,” Wang said. Since November, the Iranian-backed Houthis have launched at least 34 attacks on shipping through the waterways leading up to Egypt’s Suez Canal, a vital route for energy and cargo coming from Asia and the Middle East onward to Europe.”

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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