Eye on Extremism: January 30, 2024

New York Times: Defense Department Identifies 3 Soldiers Killed At Base In Jordan

“The Department of Defense on Monday identified three Army Reserve soldiers who were killed at a U.S. base in Jordan on Sunday in what the Biden administration said was a drone attack from an Iran-backed militia. The department said at least 34 other service members were wounded in the attack. Those killed were Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Ga.; Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Ga.; and Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Ga. The soldiers, two of them women, were assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, based at Fort Moore, Ga. — a team of soldiers trained to deploy at short notice to build roads, landing fields and protective earthen berms for U.S. forces.”

CBS: Israeli Intelligence Docs Detail Alleged UNRWA Staff Links To Hamas, Including 12 Accused In Oct. 7 Attack

“An Israeli intelligence document shared on Monday with CBS News and a number of other Western news outlets spells out allegations against a dozen U.N. employees whom Israel says participated in Hamas' Oct. 7 terror attack. The document claims seven staff members of UNRWA, the U.N. humanitarian agency that helps Palestinian refugees, stormed into Israeli territory during that attack, including two who participated in kidnappings. The allegations against UNRWA staffers prompted the U.S. and some other Western countries to freeze funds vital to the work of the agency, which is a lifeline for desperate Palestinians in war-torn Gaza. The U.N. fired nine of the 12 accused workers and condemned "the abhorrent alleged acts" of staff members. The accusations come after years of tensions between Israel and UNRWA over its work in Gaza, where it employs roughly 13,000 people.”

United States

Reuters: Pentagon Says It Is Not Seeking War With Iran After Jordan Attack

“U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday vowed the U.S. would take "all necessary actions" to defend its troops after a deadly drone attack in Jordan by Iran-backed militants, even as President Joe Biden's administration stressed it was not seeking a war with Iran. The attack on Sunday killed three U.S. soldiers and wounded more than 40 troops. It was the first deadly strike against U.S. troops since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in October and marks a major escalation in tensions that have engulfed the Middle East. "Let me start with my outrage and sorrow (for) the deaths of three brave U.S. troops in Jordan and for the other troops who were wounded," Austin said at the Pentagon. "The president and I will not tolerate attacks on U.S. forces and we will take all necessary actions to defend the U.S. and our troops," Austin added at the start of meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Pentagon.”

New York Times: Defense Department Identifies 3 Soldiers Killed At Base In Jordan

“The Department of Defense on Monday identified three Army Reserve soldiers who were killed at a U.S. base in Jordan on Sunday in what the Biden administration said was a drone attack from an Iran-backed militia. The department said at least 34 other service members were wounded in the attack. Those killed were Sgt. William Jerome Rivers, 46, of Carrollton, Ga.; Specialist Kennedy Ladon Sanders, 24, of Waycross, Ga.; and Specialist Breonna Alexsondria Moffett, 23, of Savannah, Ga. The soldiers, two of them women, were assigned to the 718th Engineer Company, based at Fort Moore, Ga. — a team of soldiers trained to deploy at short notice to build roads, landing fields and protective earthen berms for U.S. forces.”

Syria

Associated Press: An Israeli Strike On A Damascus Area Where Iran-Backed Groups Operate Caused Casualties, Syria Says

“An Israeli airstrike on a Damascus suburb on Monday killed and wounded several people, the Syrian military said in a statement carried by state media. Opposition activists said the area hit was a stronghold of Iran-backed groups. There was no immediate comment from Israel. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, said the strike hit a farm housing members of Lebanon’s Iran-backed militant Hezbollah group and other Iran-backed factions. It said the strike killed seven people, including four Syrians, one of whom was the bodyguard of a member of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard. It did not give the nationalities of the others. The strike comes amid rising tension in the Middle East with the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza and a drone attack on Sunday that killed three U.S. troops and injured dozens more in northeastern Jordan, near the Syrian border.”

Iran

Associated Press: Officials Say 1 Policeman, 6 Insurgents Killed As Rebels Launch Rocket Attacks In Southwest Pakistan

“Rockets fired by separatist insurgents killed a police officer and wounded a dozen other people overnight in southwestern Pakistan, officials said Tuesday, in apparent retaliation for Pakistani strikes on what it said were insurgent hideouts in Iran earlier in January. Six insurgents were also killed in the ensuing shootout, according to the government. The outlawed Baluchistan Liberation Army quickly claimed the attacks, writing that two of its fighters were killed. Authorities initially said that the attacks, in the district of Mach in Baluchistan, were foiled without causalities, but two local security officials said at least one policeman was killed and 15 members of the Pakistani security forces were wounded in multiple rocket attacks. The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media.”

Iraq

Reuters: Who Is Kataib Hezbollah, The Group Blamed For Killing US Troops?

“The U.S. believes the attack that killed three U.S. troops on the Jordanian-Syrian border has the "footprints" of Iran-backed Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah, the Pentagon said. Who is the Kataib Hezbollah? Founded in the aftermath of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Kataib Hezbollah is one of the elite Iraqi armed factions closest to Iran. It is the most powerful armed faction in the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of hardline Shi'ite armed groups that have claimed more than 150 attacks on U.S. forces since the Gaza war began.”

Turkey

Associated Press: The Islamic State Group Claims Responsibility For The Istanbul Church Attack That Killed One Person

“The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Roman Catholic church in Istanbul during a Sunday Mass that killed one person. The extremist group said in a statement late Sunday on Aamaq, the group’s media arm, that it “attacked a gathering of Christian unbelievers during their polytheistic ceremony” inside the Santa Maria Church in the Buyukdere neighborhood in Istanbul. The 52-year-old man who was shot and killed, Tuncer Cihan, “was ... a person who had done nothing wrong. In fact, he wasn’t even Christian, he was Alevi,” the church’s lawyer Avsin Hatipoglu told The Associated Press, adding they would ask authorities to increase security in the area. Turkey’s Alevi community is one of the country’s largest religious minorities. Alevis identify as Muslims, though their practice is fundamentally different from Islam’s two major branches, Sunni and Shiite.”

Afghanistan

Voice Of America: Afghanistan’s Taliban Host Multilateral Huddle To Promote Regional Cooperation

“Afghanistan’s fundamentalist Taliban hosted their first international meeting Monday since returning to power in Kabul, saying it is aimed at promoting economic connectivity and cooperation with regional countries on “common challenges.” Special representatives and ambassadors from neighboring and regional countries, including China, Russia and Iran, attended the gathering in the Afghan capital titled Afghanistan Regional Cooperation Initiative. Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told the inaugural session that “regional security remains of grave importance” for his government, known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan or IEA. His office released the English translation of his local language speech. Muttaqi explained that the meeting had been convened to develop a “region-centric narrative” to enhance cooperation “for a positive and constructive engagement between Afghanistan and regional countries to tackle existing and potential threats.”

Pakistan

Voice Of America: Pakistan, Iran Agree To Broaden Anti-Terror Cooperation After Missile Strikes

“Pakistan and Iran agreed Monday to broaden political and security cooperation to confront terrorism after exchanging unprecedented missile strikes earlier this month against alleged militant bases in each other’s territories. The understanding stemmed from a meeting Pakistani Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani hosted with his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, in Islamabad. "There was an agreement to cooperate to fight terrorism in our respective areas. We need to address and allay each other’s concerns with regard to terrorism,” Jilani told a news conference alongside the Iranian foreign minister. He said that Pakistan and Iran had decided to immediately deploy “liaison officers” in their respective Turbat and Zahedan border towns to “further strengthen ongoing security and intelligence cooperation.”

Yemen

Associated Press: Yemen’s Houthi Rebels Say They Attacked A US Warship Without Evidence. An American Official Rejects The Claim

“Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they attacked a U.S. Navy mobile base at sea Monday without offering evidence, something immediately rejected by an American defense official. Houthi military spokesperson Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree claimed the group fired a missile at the USS Lewis B. Puller in the Gulf of Aden. The Puller, which serves as a floating landing base, had been earlier stationed in the Arabian Sea as part of American efforts to curtail Houthi attacks on commercial shipping through the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. Houthi attacks will continue “until the aggression is stopped, and the siege is lifted on the people of Palestine in the Gaza Strip,” Saree said in the statement. A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said there had been no reported attack on the Puller. However, the Houthis have previously launched missiles that did not reach their intended target, instead crashing onto the land or sea.”

Middle East

BBC: Israeli Forces Kill Three Palestinian Militants In West Bank Hospital Raid

“CCTV footage showed members of an undercover unit disguised as medics and other civilians making their way through a corridor with rifles raised. The Israeli military said the militants were hiding in the hospital, and that one was about to carry out an attack. The Palestinian Authority's ministry of health accused Israel of carrying out a "new massacre inside hospitals". Hamas, an armed Palestinian Islamist group which is fighting a war with Israel in Gaza triggered by its unprecedented attacks on Israel on 7 October, said the Israeli forces had "executed three fighters", including one of its members Another armed group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, said two of those killed were its members and were brothers. It added that one of them had been receiving treatment at the hospital.”

Bloomberg: Israel Military Sees It Taking All of 2024 to Eliminate Hamas Threat, Or Longer

“The Israeli military says it is engaged in its fiercest fighting in Gaza yet in the southern city of Khan Younis, where it hopes to kill or capture Hamas leaders presumed to be hiding in tunnels with hostages. In a briefing, an Israeli military intelligence officer said that of Hamas’ five fighting brigades, Israeli troops have killed or captured most of the commanders of two of them, both based in the north of Gaza. The focus is now on the Khan Younis brigade, where Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, chief military spokesman, said in a press conference last night that troops have “killed hundreds of terrorists and arrested more than 300 people suspected of terror activities.” Hagari also said that for the first time, troops are now fighting in the tunnel network that runs beneath Gaza. Khan Younis is Gaza’s second-largest city and is packed with tens of thousands of people. It is strategically important as it’s where Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and military chief Mohammed Deif are from, and where they’re believed by Israel to be hiding.”

Associated Press: Enemy Drone That Killed US Troops In Jordan Was Mistaken For A US Drone, Preliminary Report Suggests

“U.S. forces may have mistaken an enemy drone for an American one and let it pass unchallenged into a desert base in Jordan where it killed three U.S. troops and wounded dozens more, officials said Monday. Details of the Sunday attack emerged as President Joe Biden faced a difficult balancing act, blaming Iran and looking to strike back in a forceful way without causing any further escalation of the Gaza conflict. As the enemy drone was flying in at a low altitude, a U.S. drone was returning to the small installation known as Tower 22, according to a preliminary report cited by two officials, who were not authorized to comment and insisted on anonymity. As a result, there was no effort to shoot down the enemy drone that hit the outpost. One of the trailers where troops sleep sustained the brunt of the strike, while surrounding trailers got limited damage from the blast and flying debris. While there are no large air defense systems at Tower 22, the base does have counter-drone systems, such as Coyote drone interceptors.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Analysts Examine Implications Of African States’ Exit From ECOWAS

“Analysts in West Africa are reacting to the sudden exit of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from the regional economic bloc ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, and are raising security concerns. The three nations led by military juntas announced the withdrawal in a televised broadcast Sunday, accusing the regional body of becoming a threat to member states. According to a joint communique issued by the military juntas of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the withdrawal from ECOWAS after nearly half a century takes effect immediately. They said the regional bloc — under the influence of foreign powers — betrayed its founding principles and failed to aid its member states in their fight against terrorism and insecurity. They also criticized sanctions imposed on military regimes in the region by ECOWAS.”

Germany

Associated Press: German President Calls For Alliance Against Extremism As Protests Against Far Right Draw Thousands

“Germany’s president called Monday for a broad “alliance against extremism” in the wake of a report about far-right discussions of deporting millions of immigrants that prompted protests by hundreds of thousands of people. Germany has seen more than two weeks of protests against the Alternative for Germany party and others on the far right. The Interior Ministry said police figures suggest that some 576,000 people took part in demonstrations between Friday and Sunday. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with employers and business associations, labor union leaders and others on to discuss social cohesion and the state of democracy in Germany. He called the protests “a strong signal for our democracy” and said that “we now need a broad alliance across the population, across companies, culture and society — an alliance against extremism and for our democracy.”

Southeast Asia

Associated Press: Indian And Seychelles Forces Separately Rescue Two Fishing Boats Hijacked By Somali Pirates

“Indian and Seychelles forces separately rescued Monday two fishing vessels hijacked by Somali pirates and freed 23 crew members from Iran and Sri Lanka, both countries said in statements. The Seychelles’ defense forces and coast guard rescued six Sri Lankan fishermen whose vessel was hijacked by Somali pirates two days earlier while the Indian navy said it freed 17 crew members in an Iranian fishing vessel that was hijacked by pirates off the east coast of Somalia. The Seychelles Défense Forces Special Forces and coast guard “led a successful operation to regain control of a Sri Lankan vessel hijacked by armed Somali pirates,” the president’s office said in a statement. The three hijackers were arrested, and the fishermen and their boat were safe and being taken to the Seychelles, according to Susantha Kahawatta, a top official in the Fisheries Department of Sri Lanka. He said the Sri Lankan envoy to the Seychelles told him of the successful rescue operation.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On February 26, 2015, a Boko Haram suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a market in Biu, Nigeria, killing 19 people and injuring 20 others. A second attempted-suicide bomber was caught and beaten by a crowd before he was able to carry out his attack.

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