Eye on Extremism: January 7, 2022

The Washington Post: Slain Officer’s Sister Sues Facebook In ‘Boogaloo’ Murder, Alleging It Pushed Extremist Content

“The sister of a slain federal officer is suing Facebook’s parent company Meta, alleging it bears responsibility for her brother’s killing during racial justice protests in 2020. Facebook facilitated the hateful far-right “boogaloo” movement, leading an adherent to murder officer Dave Patrick Underwood, the lawsuit filed in a California Superior Court late Wednesday alleges. The Homeland Security protective security officer was fatally shot in May 2020 when a van pulled up outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland and a gunman inside the vehicle sprayed bullets at Underwood and his partner, who was wounded in the shooting. Federal authorities identified the shooter as Steven Carrillo, an adherent of the “boogaloo boys,” an online extremist movement that has sought to capitalize on racial justice protests to usher in a race war. Underwood was killed as racial justice protests were underway nearby following the murder of George Floyd. An officer was gunned down. The killer was a ‘boogaloo boy’ using nearby peaceful protests as cover, feds say. Now Underwood’s sister, Angela Underwood Jacobs, is accusing Facebook of “knowingly promoting extremist content” and connecting individuals who “planned to engage in acts of violence against federal law enforcement officers,” according to the suit.”

The National: France Bans Far-Right Group Linked To Violence At Zemmour Rally

“France has banned an extremist right-wing youth group which was blamed for causing violence at a raucous rally by far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said a group called Zouaves Paris, an old word for elite French troops who fought in Africa in the 19th century, had been shut down for inciting hatred and violence. A decree published by Mr Darmanin’s office described it as an ultranationalist group known for violent agitation, overtly racist ideology and the use of Nazi and Ku Klux Klan symbols. The group’s public statements had promoted ideas of white supremacy and sought to link immigrant arrivals to “threats that the French have to fight”, the decree said. It said the group’s supporters had sought out “street battles” targeting their opponents and undermining the rule of law. Some of its members had previously armed themselves with tear gas, firecrackers and baseball bats. The violence culminated in the messy brawl at Mr Zemmour’s rally last month, where some of the Zouaves were accused of attacking members of an anti-racism group called SOS Racisme. Chairs were hurled and punches thrown at the chaotic rally in Villepinte, near Paris, in which Mr Zemmour suffered minor injuries after he was grabbed and put in a headlock by an unknown assailant.”

United States

Al Jazeera: US Judge Rejects Torture Claims By ISIL ‘Beatles’ Defendant

“Incriminating statements made by a British national charged with a significant role in the torture and beheading of American and British hostages held by ISIL (ISIS) can be used against him at trial, a judge in the United States has ruled. El Shafee Elsheikh sought to have statements admitting his role in the scheme tossed out, claiming they were obtained through torture after he was captured. But US District Judge TS Ellis, in a ruling issued this week, said his claims were unsupported by testimony taken during a three-day hearing last year. Elsheikh also objected to the fact that defence interrogators questioned him 26 times before he was advised of his right to remain silent. But Ellis said interrogators used a legally permissible two-step interrogation process, in which a “clean team” of interrogators came in after those 26 interviews, advised him of his rights, and collected information only from those subsequent interviews. Elsheikh is one of four ISIL members nicknamed “the Beatles” by their captives because of their English accents. The indictment charges him with hostage-taking resulting in the deaths of Americans James Foley, Kayla Mueller, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig.”

Syria

Al Monitor: Islamic State Ramps Up Activities In Eastern Syria

“The Islamic State (IS) carries out almost daily operations in Deir ez-Zor against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the civilians it accuses of cooperating with the Kurdish forces. IS is also imposing taxes on shop owners, doctors and others by threatening them with murder and kidnapping via WhatsApp messages. Furthermore, IS is constantly attacking Kurdish forces' checkpoints and barricades, forcing the SDF to retaliate with large-scale security and military operations against its cells in eastern Deir ez-Zor. On Dec. 14, 2021, IS claimed responsibility for separate attacks that targeted SDF checkpoints in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor, in addition to a command headquarters in al-Jarthi east of Deir ez-Zor. On Telegram, IS said its forces targeted two SDF checkpoints — one in Dhiban and the other in Suwaidan east of Deir ez-Zor — with grenades and machine guns. IS also targeted several positions on the bridge road in Darnaj with machine guns. The group claimed responsibility for several previous attacks on SDF military headquarters in al-Busaira in the eastern countryside of Deir ez-Zor with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. On Dec. 13, 2021, the SDF — supported by the US-led international coalition — carried out a security operation in the east of the country, killing five people.”

Iraq

The Jerusalem Post: Iran-Backed Militant Targeted By Shooting Near Baghdad - Report

“A member of the Kata'ib Hezbollah militia, part of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, was targeted by a shooting attack at his home near Baghdad on Thursday, in which five members of his family were killed, according to the Iraqi News Agency. An investigation into the attack has been opened by security forces. The PMF militant was identified as Ahmad al-Muttalib. A security official had told Rudaw news earlier that the militant was shot and injured in the attack and that his wife and three of his children were killed. It is unclear who conducted the shooting attack against the militant and his family. No group had taken responsibility as of Thursday night and no suspects had been arrested. The incident comes amid an uptick in rocket attacks against bases housing the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria. At least some of the rocket attacks have been blamed on Iran-backed militias. On Wednesday night, an unidentified UAV was intercepted by air defenses near the Ain al-Assad base where members of the US-led coalition are housed. Earlier on Wednesday evening, five rockets were launched towards Ain al-Assad. The rockets fell short of the base, according to the coalition.”

Afghanistan

Foreign Policy: The Taliban Pick Fight Over Border With Pakistan

“Last August, prominent Pakistanis celebrated after the Taliban seized power in Kabul, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, leaders of Islamist political parties, media personalities, and retired military officers. The group had long received Pakistani backing, and its victory delivered some strategic triumphs to Islamabad: It ensured a friendly government in Kabul and a reduced role for New Delhi, a close partner of non-Taliban governments after 2001. But recent days show that Pakistan’s engagements with the Taliban regime won’t be a cakewalk. Taliban fighters have clashed with Pakistani soldiers putting up fencing along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, known as the Durand Line. Pakistan began the fencing in 2014 to reduce cross-border militancy and smuggling. It says 94 percent of the border has been fenced. On Dec. 19, Taliban members seized barbed wire put up by Pakistani troops in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, and warned them not to do more fencing. On Dec. 30, a similar incident took place in Nimroz province. Taliban officials played down the significance of the first clash, but the second incident produced a stronger reaction.”

Foreign Policy: Taliban Pressing For Prisoner Swap With U.S.

“Leaders of the Taliban are pressing Washington to free an Afghan drug lord serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison in exchange for the release of an American engineer, Mark Frerichs, held in Afghanistan for two years now, Afghan and American security, legal, and diplomatic sources said. The group is also threatening to block the evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghans who hold U.S. citizenship or are eligible for resettlement in the United States until the drug lord, Bashir Noorzai, can go home to Kandahar, according to Steve Brooking, a former official with the British government and United Nations in Afghanistan. Noorzai helped fund and arm the Taliban’s insurgency with proceeds from heroin trafficking. He was arrested in New York on drug trafficking charges in 2005 and has been serving two concurrent life sentences since 2009.”

Saudi Arabia

The Times Of Israel: Saudis Say Hezbollah A Threat To Arabs After Nasrallah Calls King A ‘Terrorist’

“Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Beirut said Thursday that Hezbollah was a threat to Arab security after the leader of the Iran-backed Lebanese movement branded King Salman a “terrorist.” The latest exchange of insults follows a crisis between Lebanon and Gulf Arab states over the war in Yemen, and Saudi accusations that Hezbollah was meddling in the conflict. “Riyadh hopes that the political parties will give priority to the supreme interest of Lebanon… and end Hezbollah’s terrorist hegemony over every aspect of the state,” ambassador Waleed Bukhari said in a statement to AFP. “Hezbollah’s terrorist activities and regional military behavior threaten Arab national security,” he added. Bukhari’s statement comes after Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Shiite terror group, described King Salman as a “terrorist” and accused Saudi Arabia of exporting Islamic extremism in a televised speech earlier this week. Accusations have flown between the two sides since a Saudi-led coalition intervened to prop up Yemen’s government against Iran-backed rebels in 2015, in a conflict that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives according to the United Nations.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Boko Haram Attacks Another Borno Community, Burns Church, Houses

“The Islamic State-backed faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), formerly known as Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād, has attacked Wultihiya, a town in Borno State. Wultihiya, a predominantly Christian community, is located in the Askira Uba Local Government Area of the state. SaharaReporters learnt that the gunmen also burnt down the community’s church, some houses and two cars. The attack, which occurred on Thursday was not repelled, residents told SaharaReporters. Residents who had retired into their homes were forced to flee into the bushes as the gunmen stormed the village, shooting sporadically. Since the death of JAS leader, Abubakar Shekau, ISWAP has been consolidating its grip in locations around Lake Chad. Just recently, it appointed Wali Sani Shuwaram, a 45-year-old as the new Leader (Wali) of ISWAP in Lake Chad. The sect’s membership has swollen with the defection of hundreds of Boko Haram fighters under Shekau. The Nigerian Army has repeatedly claimed that insurgency had been largely defeated and frequently underplays any losses. The terror group has caused over 100,000 deaths and displaced millions of individuals mainly in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States.”

Pulse Nigeria: Military Kills 950 Terrorists In 7 Months, Over 24,000 Surrender

“DHQ spokesperson, Major General Benard Onyeuko, said at a press conference that the death toll includes high profile commanders and amirs operating in the north east region. A total of 79 terrorists were also arrested by Operation Hadin Kai troops who rescued 113 kidnapped civilians from their captors. “A total of 195 assorted arms including AK-47 rifles, GPMGs, PKT guns and locally fabricated guns were recovered from terrorist elements in the course of the operations. “In addition, a total of 2,385 rounds of different calibres of ammunition and 253 rustled livestock were recovered, while a total of 14 gun trucks of the terrorists were destroyed in the course of the operations, while 16 gun trucks were captured by own troops within the period,” Onyeuko said. Military troops have been fighting Boko Haram terrorists in the north east since 2009. The group is responsible for the death of over 35,000 people and displacement of millions in the past decade. The UNDP estimated in a report last year the death toll is over 350,000 when deaths caused indirectly by the group's activities are factored in. The Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), which broke away from Boko Haram in 2016, gained the upper hand this year when Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, was killed in the battle for control between the two groups.”

Africa

Reuters: Benin Army Vehicle Strikes Land Mine As Security Fears In North Grow

“A Benin army vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in a national park near the border with Burkina Faso on Thursday, the park's management said, the latest in a series of security incidents as fears rise about widening Islamist violence. Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported that two soldiers were killed in the explosion. Reuters was not immediately able to confirm that report. African Parks, the South African non-profit group that manages Pendjari National Park, said in a statement that the explosion had occurred near a hotel that has been closed since 2019. It made no comment on casualties. Benin is among the West African coastal countries considered most vulnerable to a spillover of Islamist violence from the landlocked Sahel countries, where groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State exert influence over vast tracts of territory. The government confirmed two attacks by jihadist fighters near the Burkina Faso border last month, including one that killed two soldiers and wounded several more. Additional attacks have been reported in the local and French media since then but have not been confirmed by the authorities.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Terror Threat Teen Wanted To Attack Mosque And Kill 10,000

“A 17-year-old boy who wanted to “shoot up a mosque” and kill 10,000 people has been given a rehabilitation order. The teenager, from Wiltshire, was given the 24-month order at Southampton Youth Court. He had pleaded guilty to possessing material likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. Counter-terror police said they were having to deal with an increase in right-wing terror threats. A spokesman for Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE) said “concerned” members of the public had reported the boy after he had made “numerous racist comments” in online forums. “[He] had talked about wanting to kill Muslims by 'shooting up a mosque',” they added. The teenager was arrested on 18 June and during a property search detectives uncovered a handwritten note called 'The Big Plan'. “This contained details of how to make a bomb, a number of named locations and individuals who were believed to be aspirational targets, and an intention to kill in excess of 10,000 people,” the spokesman added. Detective Ch Supt Kath Barnes, head of CTPSE, praised the people who had contacted the anti-terrorism hotline to report the behaviour. “I know this case may be concerning to certain members of the community who were the target of the atrocious hatred,” she said.”

France

AFP: Paris Attacks Trial Resumes With Main Suspect Back In Court

“A marathon trial of suspects in the November 2015 Paris attack resumed Thursday after a negative COVID-19 test allowed the main suspect to attend. Salah Abdeslam, the only survivor of the 10 assailants, had not appeared in court since November 25 and tested positive at the end of December. He is set to take the stand for questioning next Thursday and Friday, an event long awaited by families of the 130 people killed on November 13, 2015. In the meantime, there was a tense standoff between the presiding judge and another defendant. Osama Krayem, 29, a Swedish national, informed the court through his lawyer that he would remain silent “until the end of proceedings” and refused to even attend the trial, calling it “an illusion.” But when it was Krayem's turn on Thursday to be questioned about his role in the series of jihadi attacks on bars, restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and the national stadium, chief judge Jean-Louis Peries said that he would be made to show up. “I will have no option but to use force to make him appear on the stand,” he said. That turned out to be unnecessary, as Krayem made his way to the bench uncoerced, and sat down next to Abdeslam. “It's good of you to come willingly,” the judge commented.”

Southeast Asia

Eurasia Review: Terror Threat In Asian Countries Declined In 2021

“Terrorist threats in Southeast and South Asian countries declined in 2021, a Singapore think-tank said in its annual threat assessment published this week, noting that COVID-19 movement restrictions had “flattened the curve of terrorism.” There were fewer terror-related incidents in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Bangladesh as governments battled the pandemic, according to the Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis report published by researchers at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. In Thailand in 2021, meanwhile, violent incidents connected to an insurgency in the far south were similar to those in the previous year, the researchers found. “Ultimately, the 2021 survey underscored the continuing imperative for states to address the longer-term underlying grievances that fuel violent extremism,” the analysis said. In Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest country, the number of attacks and plots by violent extremist Islamic militant groups dipped during the past two years compared with before the outbreak of COVID-19, according to the report. Jamaah Ansharut Daulah’s (JAD) relatively stagnant activities in 2020-2021 and the decline of Eastern Indonesia Mujahideen’s (MIT) terror activities in 2021, it said, “can be partly attributed to movement restrictions and higher costs associated with domestic travels due to the pandemic.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On August 19, 2021, at least three people were killed and 50 were injured when a roadside bomb struck a Shiite procession marking the 7th century death of Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, a Shiite saint. Sunni extremists were suspected in the explosion in Bahawalnagar, Punjab province, Pakistan.

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