Eye on Extremism: January 31, 2024

ABC News: US Readies Retaliatory Strikes For Drone Attack By Iran-Backed Militants

“The U.S. response to a drone attack that killed three American service members in Jordan last weekend will be carried out "over the course of several days" and striking "multiple targets," a U.S. official told ABC News Tuesday. "These are going to be very deliberate targets -- deliberate strikes on facilities that enabled these attacks" on U.S. forces, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss sensitive details. Officials would not say whether any of the targets would be inside or outside Iran. Leaving the White House Tuesday morning, President Joe Biden said he had decided how the U.S. would respond to the attack by Iran-backed militants, but gave no more details.”

Reuters: Yemen's Houthis Threaten More Attacks On US, British Warships

“Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group said on Wednesday it would keep up attacks on U.S. and British warships in the Red Sea in what it called acts of self defence, stoking fears of long-term disruptions to world trade. In a statement, the group's military spokesperson said all American and British warships participating in "aggression" against its country were targets. The U.S. and Britain have launched strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen, and returned the militia to a list of terrorist groups as turmoil from the Israel-Hamas war spreads through the region. The Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, have been attacking ships in and around the Red Sea, saying they are acting in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war. That conflict has spilled over into other parts of the Middle East. Lebanon's Iran-aligned Hezbollah has traded fire with Israeli troops along the border and Iraqi-armed groups have attacked U.S. forces in Iraq.”

CEP Mentions

The National: European Prosecutors Adopt Harsher Sentences Towards Female ISIS Returnees

“... In May 2023, there were 96 radicalised women in prison and 307 men compared to 36 women in December 2016 and 350 men. This is mostly due to the French government systematically placing women repatriated from camps in North-East Syria in pre-trial detention. The complexity of these women, often depicted in the media as “naïve or monsters”, must be better understood to shed light on how they should best be treated by judicial and correctional institutions in Europe, the book said. Women’s traditional roles within ISIS have made it hard for some returnees to understand why they were prosecuted, wrote Sofia Koller, a senior research analyst at the Counter Extremism Project, a non-profit organisation based in New York. In the chapter on Germany, Ms Koller quotes one woman as saying: “I only cooked, had babies, was sitting the whole day in a madafa [a women’s guest house] and then married the next one.”

United States

Reuters: US Shoots Down Missile Fired By Houthis Toward Red Sea, Pentagon Says

“Iranian-backed Houthi militants fired one anti-ship cruise missile from Yemen toward the Red Sea on Tuesday, the U.S. military's Central Command said, adding that a U.S. destroyer in the area shot it down. No injuries or damage were reported, the Central Command said.”

Iraq

Reuter: Iraq's Kataib Hezbollah Says It Suspends Attacks On US Forces

“Iran-aligned Iraqi armed group Kataib Hezbollah announced on Tuesday the suspension of all its military operations against U.S. troops in the region, in a decision aimed at preventing "embarrassment" of the Iraqi government, the group said. "As we announce the suspension of military and security operations against the occupation forces - in order to prevent embarrassment of the Iraqi government - we will continue to defend our people in Gaza in other ways," Kataib Hezbollah Secretary-General Abu Hussein al-Hamidawi said in a statement. Three U.S. troops were killed in a drone attack near the Jordan-Syria border on Sunday that the Pentagon said bore the "footprints" of Kataib Hezbollah, opens new tab, though a final assessment had not yet been made. A Pentagon spokesperson declined to comment on the group's statement, adding: "Actions speak louder than words." The U.S. has vowed to respond to the attack.”

Middle East

Reuters: Disguised Israeli Forces Kill 3 Palestinian Militants In Raid On West Bank Hospital

“Israeli commandos disguised as medical workers and Muslim women burst into a hospital in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and killed three Palestinian militants, one of them lying paralysed in bed, witnesses and authorities said. The Israeli military said the three militants were killed in a joint undercover operation by the army, Shin Bet security service and border police in the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin, one of the most volatile cities in the West Bank.”

Reuters: Hamas Official Says It Has Received New Proposal For Three-Stage Truce

“Hamas said on Tuesday it had received and was studying a new proposal for a ceasefire and release of hostages in Gaza, presented by mediators after talks with Israel, in what appeared to be the most serious peace initiative for months. A senior Hamas official told Reuters the proposal involved a three-stage truce, during which the group would first release remaining civilians among hostages it captured on Oct. 7, then soldiers, and finally the bodies of hostages that were killed. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not indicate how long the stages would last or what was envisioned to follow the final stage. But it was the first time since the collapse of the only brief truce of the war so far, in late November, that details were released of a new proposal being considered by both sides. The ceasefire proposal followed talks in Paris involving intelligence chiefs from Israel, the United States and Egypt, with the prime minister of Qatar. In a mark of the seriousness of the negotiations, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said he was going to Cairo to discuss it, his first public trip there for more than a month.”

Somalia

Associated Press: Somalia’s Intelligence Agency Says It Blocks Whatsapp Groups Used By Al-Qaida-Linked Militants

“Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency said Tuesday it has for the first time managed to shut down 20 WhatsApp groups allegedly operated by the extremist group al-Shabab for extortion and intimidation. NISA in a statement said its cyber division had identified what it described as the virtual hubs for illicit activities by East Africa’s al-Qaida affiliate. The agency said it also disabled data services for approximately 2,500 phone numbers associated with them. Somalia is seeking to disrupt al-Shabab’s communication channels and financial transactions as part of a “total war” declared against the group that for years has controlled parts of the country and carried out attacks in the capital, Mogadishu. African Union peacekeeping troops have been drawing down their presence in the Horn of Africa nation with the goal of handing over security responsibilities to Somali forces that have been waging the offensive declared by the president in 2022.”

Africa

Associated Press: Militants In Eastern Congo Kill 12 Villagers As Country’s Leader Rules Out Talks With Rwanda

“Militants killed at least 12 villagers in a spate of attacks in eastern Congo, a local official and a civil society leader said as the country’s president ruled out dialogue with neighboring Rwanda over a related conflict. The killings in Congo’s North Kivu province took place on Tuesday and were carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces, armed militants believed to be linked to the extremist Islamic State group. The militants attacked three villages in the Beni territory, according to Kinos Katuho, the president of the local Mamove civil society organization. Eastern Congo has struggled with armed violence for decades as more than 120 groups fight for power, land and valuable mineral resources, while others try to defend their communities. The armed groups have long waged campaigns of violence in the mineral-rich region and have been accused of mass killings.”

Europe

The Washington Post: The UN's Top Court Is Set To Rule On Ukraine's Allegation That Russia Bankrolled Separatist Rebels

“The United Nations’ top court plans to rule Wednesday on Ukraine’s allegations that Russia bankrolled separatist rebels in the country’s east a decade ago and has discriminated against Crimea’s multiethnic community since its annexation of the peninsula. The legally binding final ruling is the first of two expected decisions from the International Court of Justice linked to the decadelong conflict between Russia and Ukraine that exploded into a full-blown war almost two years ago.”

Associated Press: Belarusian Journalist Accused Of Being In An Extremist Group After Covering Protests Gets Prison

“A Belarusian journalist was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday on an extremism charge related to his work covering protests, the latest move in a sweeping government crackdown on dissent. The Minsk City Court convicted photojournalist Alyaksandr Zyankou on charges of “participation in an extremist group,” an accusation widely used by authorities to target opposition members, civil society activists and independent journalists. Zyankou has been in custody since his arrest in June, and his health has deteriorated behind bars, according to the independent Belarusian Association of Journalists. “It’s absurd that they sentenced a photographer to three years in prison for fulfilling his professional duty of taking pictures,” said the association’s head, Andrei Bastunets. “The situation with freedom of speech in Belarus is the worst in Europe.”

China

Voice Of America: China's President Receives Afghan Ambassador; Taliban Seek Recognition From Russia, Iran

“Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday received the credentials of ambassadors from several countries, including neighboring Afghanistan, in what amounts to the first official recognition of the interim Taliban government by a major nation. Xi welcomed Bilal Karimi, the Taliban-appointed Afghan ambassador, in a formal ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, along with ambassadors from Cuba, Pakistan, Iran and 38 other countries.  "China has understood what the rest of the world has not," Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban's chief spokesperson, said Tuesday at an event on the social media platform X. "We are not in a unipolar world," Mujahid said while calling on Russia, Iran and other countries to take similar steps and upgrade bilateral diplomatic relations with Kabul. Xi told the new ambassadors that China is seeking deep friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation with their countries, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.”

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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