Eye on Extremism: January 5, 2024

The Hill: ISIS Claims Responsibility For Deadly Iran Bombing

“ISIS has claimed responsibility for a deadly Iran bombing that killed more than 80 people and wounded scores more. ISIS, seen as a terrorist group by most of the world, said in a widely circulated statement that suicide bombers detonated explosive belts in the middle of the crowd that had gathered in the southeastern Iranian city of Kerman. ISIS, an anti-Shia and anti-Iranian faction, has fought against Iran for years across the Middle East, and though largely defeated, it maintains a presence in the region. A U.S. official on Wednesday said the working theory is that ISIS carried out the bombing, saying it was consistent with previous attacks. The bombing killed 84 people and wounded more than 140 more in one of the deadliest attacks in Iran since 1979.”

Associated Press: Houthis Launch Sea Drone To Attack Ships Hours After US, Allies Issue Final Warning

“An armed unmanned surface vessel launched from Houthi-controlled Yemen got within a “couple of miles” of U.S. Navy and commercial vessels in the Red Sea before detonating on Thursday, just hours after the White House and a host of partner nations issued a final warning to the Iran-backed militia group to cease the attacks or face potential military action. Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, the head of U.S. Navy operations in the Middle East, said it was the first time the Houthis had used an unmanned surface vessel, or USV, since their harassment of commercial ships in the Red Sea began after the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war. They have, however, used them in years past. Fabian Hinz, a missile expert and research fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the USV’s are a key part of the Houthi maritime arsenal and were used during previous battles against the Saudi coalition forces that intervened in Yemen’s war. They have regularly been used as suicide drone boats that explode upon impact.”

United States

Associated Press: New Jersey Police Seek Killer Of A Muslim Leader Outside Newark Mosque

“Police in New Jersey hunted Thursday for the killer of a Muslim leader who was shot outside his mosque before morning prayers, offering cash to anyone who can help them make an arrest. Authorities said they had no evidence that religious hate motivated the imam’s slaying, but vowed to protect people of faith amid soaring reports of bias attacks across the U.S. The killing of Imam Hassan Sharif as he prepared to open the Masjid Muhammad-Newark mosque on Wednesday has generated an intense law enforcement dragnet. The state’s attorney general pledged to assist county and local officials, and the Essex County sheriff announced a $25,000 reward. Sharif’s shooting comes amid intensifying bias incidents against Muslims and Jews since Hamas committed terror attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, provoking a punishing war in the Gaza Strip. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, recorded more than 2,000 bias incidents against U.S. Muslims in the first two months since the Mideast attacks began, up from nearly 800 in the same period last year.”

The Washington Examiner: White House Forcefully Defends UNRWA Amid Alleged Terrorism Ties: 'They Do Great Work In Gaza'

“The White House defended the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Thursday as Republican lawmakers are demanding investigations into reports that the aid body's staff has embedded with Hamas and aiding the terror organization in Gaza and throughout the Middle East. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby defended the agency, however, when asked if Republicans' calls to investigate the agency have shifted the administration's "strategy" regarding the organization. Former President Donald Trump forcibly cut ties with UNRWA in 2018, but the group again began receiving money from the U.S. after President Joe Biden entered office in 2021. Since that time, the U.S. has sent UNRWA more than $700 million.”


Associated Press: Iran Mourns Those Slain In Islamic State-Claimed Suicide Blasts As Death Toll Rises To 89

“Iranian officials tried Friday to link Israel and the U.S. to an Islamic State group-claimed suicide bombing while speaking to a mass funeral for some of the 89 people killed in the attack, seeking to intertwine the assault with wider Middle East tensions from the Israel-Hamas war. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and the top commander of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard sought to make the link without offering evidence for their claims. The gathered crowd in front of flag-draped caskets shouted in response: “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” “The enemy always sees the power of the Islamic Republic. The whole world is recognizing this power and this ability,” Raisi said, without directly naming any country. “Be sure, the initiative is in the hands of our powerful forces. The place and time will be determined by our forces.” Iranian state television also sought to link America to the attack. At one point, it re-broadcast comments from 2016 from then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, who wrongly accused then-President Barack Obama of being the “founder” of the extremist group.”


Associated Press: Airstrike In Central Baghdad Kills Iran-Backed Militia Leader As Regional Tensions Escalate

“A U.S. airstrike on the headquarters of an Iran-backed militia in central Baghdad on Thursday killed a high-ranking militia commander, militia officials said. Thursday’s strike comes amid mounting regional tensions fueled by the Israel-Hamas war and fears that it could spill over into surrounding countries. It also coincides with a push by Iraqi officials for US-led coalition forces to leave the country. The Popular Mobilization Force, or PMF, a coalition of militias that is nominally under the control of the Iraqi military, announced in a statement that its deputy head of operations in Baghdad, identified as Abu Taqwa, had been killed “as a result of brutal American aggression.” A U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide information that has not yet been publicly released, confirmed details of the strike Thursday, saying that Abu Taqwa was targeted because he was actively involved in attacks on U.S. personnel. Abu Taqwa was identified as a leader of the Harakat al-Nujaba group. That group, one of the militias within PMF. was designated a terrorist organization by Washington in 2019.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Killing Of Militia Leader Marks Bid To Stop Attacks On Its Forces In Iraq

“An American airstrike killed an Iran-backed militia leader in Baghdad on Thursday, U.S. officials said, drawing denunciations from Iraqi leaders and a vow from the militant group to retaliate, amid already metastasizing tensions in the region. A U.S. official said Washington conducted a “precision strike” on a vehicle traveling in eastern Baghdad, targeting a member of the Harakat al Nujaba group that the U.S. has been tracking. The group is designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. The Pentagon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The person targeted “had American blood on his hands,” another U.S. official said. Harakat al Nujaba said in a statement on its Telegram channel that Moshtaq Talib Al-Saadi had been unjustly killed by U.S. aggression. Iraq’s government said that the attack was a blatant violation of Iraq’s security and sovereignty and “undermines all agreements between Iraqi forces and coalition forces in Iraq.” “We view this action as a dangerous escalation and assault on Iraq, diverging from the spirit and the text of the mandate and the mission for which the Global Coalition was established in Iraq,” said Yehia Rasool, spokesman for the Iraqi military.”


Associated Press: Taliban Arrest Women For ‘Bad Hijab’ In The First Dress Code Crackdown Since Their Return To Power

“The Taliban have arrested women in the Afghan capital for wearing “bad hijab,” a spokesman at the country’s Vice and Virtue Ministry said Thursday. It’s the first official confirmation of a crackdown on women who don’t follow the dress code imposed by the Taliban since they returned to power in 2021 and has echoes with neighboring Iran, which has enforced mandatory hijab for decades. The development is the latest blow to Afghan women and girls, who are already reeling from bans on education, employment and access to public spaces. The spokesman from the Vice and Virtue Ministry, Abdul Ghafar Farooq, didn’t say how many women have been arrested or what constitutes bad hijab. In May 2022, the Taliban issued a decree calling for women to only show their eyes and recommending they wear the head-to-toe burqa, similar to restrictions during the Taliban’s previous rule between 1996 and 2001. Farooq said the women were arrested three days ago.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Israeli Defense Minister Lays Out Vision For Next Steps Of Gaza War Ahead Of Blinken Visit

“Israel’s defense minister on Thursday laid out his vision for the next phase of the war in Gaza, describing how Israeli forces would shift to an apparently scaled-down “new combat approach” in northern Gaza, while continuing to fight Hamas in the south of the territory “for as long as necessary.” Ahead of a visit by the U.S. secretary of state, Yoav Gallant also outlined a proposal for how Gaza would be run once Hamas is defeated, with Israel keeping security control while an undefined, Israeli-guided Palestinian body runs day-to-day administration, and the U.S. and other countries oversee rebuilding. Israel has come under heavy international pressure to spell out a post-war vision but so far has not done so. The issue is likely to be on the agenda in Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s talks this weekend in Israel and other countries in the region. The United States has pressed Israel to shift to lower-intensity military operations in Gaza that more precisely target Hamas, after nearly three devastating months of bombardment and ground assaults.”

The Wall Street Journal: The ‘CEO’ Of Hamas Who Found The Money To Attack Israel

“When Zaher Jabarin ran a Hamas cell in the 1980s, he borrowed cash from his mother to buy weapons. Now, he oversees a financial empire that the U.S. estimates is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and funds Hamas’s operations against Israel. The 55-year-old militant manages Hamas’s financial relationship with its main benefactor Iran and handles how Tehran gets cash to the Gaza Strip, U.S. and Israeli officials say. He looks after a portfolio of companies that deliver income annually for Hamas and runs a network of private donors and businessmen who invest for the Islamist group. Jabarin’s influence over Hamas’s finances is so significant that current and former U.S. and Israeli security officials believe he enabled the group to pay for weapons and fighters’ wages to mount the Oct. 7 attacks. “Jabarin played a huge role because he handles all of Hamas finance outside Gaza,” said Uzi Shaya, a former Israeli security official who has researched illicit finance. “Jabarin is the CEO of Hamas.”

Reuters: Jordan Strikes Iran-Linked Drug Dealers In Syria - Intelligence Sources

“Jordan on Thursday launched air strikes inside Syria against suspected warehouses and hideouts of Iranian-backed drug smugglers, Jordanian and regional intelligence sources said. The army has stepped up a campaign against drug dealers after protracted clashes last month with dozens of infiltrators from Syria linked to pro-Iranian militias, carrying large hauls who crossed its border with weapons and explosives. The sources told Reuters jets bombed the suspected home of a leading drug dealer in the town of Shaab in Sweida province while the other strike hit warehouses near the village of Al-Ghariya. Both locations are in the province of Sweida near the Jordanian border Ryan Marouf, editor of Suwayda 24, a Syrian news website, who has tracked the drug war, said a plume of smoke was seen from the border area soon after the strikes. "The first strike targeted a leading drug dealer linked to Iranian militias and the other raid bombed a farm where drugs are stored," Marouf said.”


Reuters: UKMTO Receives Report That Armed Group Have Boarded Liberia-Flagged Vessel Off Somalia

“United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) and British maritime security firm Ambrey said on Thursday that a Liberia-flagged bulk carrier had reportedly been boarded by armed individuals southeast of Eyl, Somalia. In its statement, UKMTO said that it received a report that five to six unauthorized armed persons have boarded the merchant vessel. The vessel was destined for Khalifa bin Salman in Bahrain, according to Ambrey's statement.”


Reuters: Tunisian Anti-Terrorism Unit Arrests Al Jazeera Reporter - Union

“A Tunisian anti-terrorism unit arrested Al Jazeera reporter Samir Sassi late on Wednesday, the Tunisian journalists' union said. The unit has searched his home and seized his computer and phone, as well as those of his family members, the union said in a statement on Thursday. The union denounced the arrest as "arbitrary" and alluded to the possibility of Sassi being investigated for a suspected terrorism charge, since his lawyer is not allowed to talk to him for 48 hours. Al Jazeera's Tunis bureau chief, Lotfi Hajji, said on his Facebook account that security forces did not tell Sassi's family why he was arrested. On Monday, Tunisia's judicial authorities ordered the pre-trial detention of journalist Zied El-Heni on the charge of defamation, after he criticized the trade minister. Freedom of speech and media were key gains for Tunisians after the 2011 revolution that ousted autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and triggered the "Arab Spring" protests.”

United Kingdom

Associated Press: Neo-Nazi Podcasters Sent To Prison On Terror Charges For Targeting Prince Harry And His Young Son

“A neo-Nazi podcaster who called for the deaths of Prince Harry and his young son received a prison sentence Thursday along with his co-host Thursday. The sentencing judge in London called the duo “dedicated and unapologetic white supremacists” who encouraged terrorism. Christopher Gibbons and Tyrone Patten-Walsh espoused racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, homophobic and misogynistic views and encouraged listeners of their “Lone Wolf Radio” podcast to commit violent acts against ethnic minorities, authorities said. Using aliases on their show, the pair said “the white race was likely to be ‘genocided’ unless steps were taken to fight back.” They approved of a day when so-called race traitors would be hanged, particularly those in interracial relationships. Prince Harry’s wife, Meghan, is biracial. On one episode, Gibbons said the Duke of Sussex should be “prosecuted and judicially killed for treason” and called Harry’s son, Archie, who is now 4, a “creature” that “should be put down.”

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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