Eye on Extremism: January 9, 2023

Associated Press: Somalia Claims Al-Shabab Extremists Seek Talks For 1st Time

“Somalia’s government claimed Saturday that the al-Shabab extremist group has for the first time asked to open negotiations, amid a military offensive the government has described as “total war.” There was no immediate statement by al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-affiliate that for well over a decade has carried out high-profile bombings in Somalia’s capital and controlled parts of the country’s central and southern regions, complicating efforts to rebuild the once-failed state after decades of conflict. “Al-Shabab requested to open negotiations with the Somali government, but there are two groups within al-Shabab,” Deputy Defense Minister Abdifatah Kasim told journalists in Mogadishu. “The first part is foreigners, and the second part is local Somalis. Those locals have a chance to open up negotiations, but those foreigners who invaded our country have no right for talks. The only option is to return to where they are from.” The deputy defense minister added that “for the Somalis, we are ready to receive them, for they are willing to surrender to the Somali government. They must follow the government’s instructions, reintegrate with their society, or face the Somali National Army in the front lines.” This is the first time Somalia’s federal government has said that the extremist group has requested talks.”

Reuters: Gunmen Kidnap 32 People From Southern Nigeria Train Station

“Gunmen armed with AK-47 rifles have abducted more than 30 people from a train station in Nigeria's southern Edo state, the governor's office said on Sunday. The attack is the latest example of the growing insecurity that has spread to nearly every corner of Africa's most populous country, posing a challenge to the government in advance of a February presidential election. Police said in a statement that armed herdsmen had attacked Tom Ikimi station at 4 p.m. (1500 GMT) as passengers awaited a train to Warri, an oil hub in nearby Delta state. The station is some 111 km northeast of state capital Benin City and close to the border with Anambra state. Some people at the station were shot in the attack, police said. Edo state information commissioner Chris Osa Nehikhare said the kidnappers had taken 32 people, though one had already escaped. "At the moment, security personnel made up of the military and the police as well as men of the vigilante network and hunters are intensifying search and rescue operations in a reasonable radius to rescue the kidnap victims," he said. "We are confident that the other victims will be rescued in the coming hours.”

United States

CNN: Times Square Machete Attack Suspect Indicted On Terrorism Charges

“Trevor Bickford, the 19-year-old accused of attacking New York Police Department officers with a machete on New Year’s Eve, was indicted Friday on more than a dozen charges, including several terrorism charges, prosecutors announced. Bickford now faces three counts of attempted murder in the first degree, as well as three counts of attempted murder in the first degree in furtherance of an act of terrorism, one count of assault in the first degree as a crime of terrorism, one count of aggravated assault on a police officer as a crime of terrorism, two counts of attempted assault in the first degree as a crime of terrorism, and several other charges related to assault and attempted assault. “We are grateful for our NYPD officers who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, as well as our Joint Terrorism Task Force partners,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a statement Friday evening. “All eyes are on Times Square on New Year’s Eve and these charges reflect the seriousness of this alleged threat to the safety of our city and our officers,” Bragg added.”

Associated Press: Alabama Woman Who Joined IS Hopes To Return From Syria Camp

“A woman who ran away from home in Alabama at the age of 20, joined the Islamic State group and had a child with one of its fighters says she still hopes to return to the United States, serve prison time if necessary, and advocate against the extremists. In a rare interview from the Roj detention camp in Syria where she is being held by U.S.-allied Kurdish forces, Hoda Muthana said she was brainwashed by online traffickers into joining the group in 2014 and regrets everything except her young son, now of pre-school age. “If I need to sit in prison, and do my time, I will do it. ... I won’t fight against it,” the 28-year-old told The News Movement. “I’m hoping my government looks at me as someone young at the time and naive.” It’s a line she’s repeated in various media interviews since fleeing from one of the extremist group’s last enclaves in Syria in early 2019. But four years earlier, at the height of the extremists’ power, she had voiced enthusiastic support for them on social media and in an interview with BuzzFeed News. IS then ruled a self-declared Islamic caliphate stretching across roughly a third of both Syria and Iraq. In posts sent from her Twitter account in 2015 she called on Americans to join the group and carry out attacks in the U.S., suggesting drive-by shootings or vehicle rammings targeting gatherings for national holidays.”

ABC News: Terror Trial Set To Begin For Suspect In NYC Truck Attack That Killed 8

“The first federal death penalty trial of the Biden administration opens Monday in New York City, where Sayfullo Saipov is charged with the 2017 killings of eight people when he allegedly plowed a rental truck into pedestrians and cyclists along the West Side Highway. The truck attack, which was on Halloween, was the deadliest terror attack in New York since Sept. 11, 2001. Saipov, a native of Uzbekistan who lived in Florida, Ohio and New Jersey following his arrival in the United States, has pleaded not guilty to charges that include murder in the aid of racketeering. He was allegedly inspired to commit the killings by ISIS videos he viewed, prosecutors said. The rental truck used in the Oct. 31, 2017, attack was decorated with an ISIS flag. The suspect allegedly drove the truck on a bike lane and pedestrian walkway in lower Manhattan, near Stuyvesant High School. When the truck collided with a school bus, the driver exited the vehicle holding two objects, a paintball gun and pellet gun, prosecutors said. "Moments after Saipov got out of the truck, he yelled, in substance and in part, 'Allah Akbar,'" according to charging documents filed in the case.”


AFP: Syria Kurds Say They’ve Arrested More Than 100 IS Suspects

“The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Friday that they had arrested more than 100 suspects in an eight-day operation against Islamic State group militants. Kurdish-led forces launched the sweep, dubbed Operation Al-Jazeera Thunderbolt, last week after thwarting an IS attempt to free fellow militants from prison in Raqqa, the jihadi group's former Syrian stronghold. The Syrian Kurds have been seeking to underline their value as a partner to the West in its campaign against IS as NATO ally Turkey threatens to launch a new cross-border assault against territory under Kurdish control. "During the sweep and raid operations, our forces arrested 154 wanted terrorists ... and criminals," the SDF said in a statement. They included 102 suspected IS cell members and 27 others suspected of providing logistical supplies or propaganda, the statement added. SDF fighters swept 55 villages and farms in the east as well as "large areas of the Syrian-Iraqi border." The SDF said the operation was carried out alongside troops of the U.S.-led coalition, although there was no immediate confirmation from the international force.”


CNN: Protesters Rally Across North America On The Third Anniversary Of Iran’s Downing Of Flight PS752

“Protesters across North America rallied together Sunday to mark the third anniversary of Iran’s downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 (PS752) and demand justice for the victims and their families. The Kyiv-bound Boeing 737 plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran on January 8, 2020, killing all 176 passengers and crew on board. Iranian authorities admitted that its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force shot the plane down by mistake after it was misidentified as a cruise missile by an air defense operator. Of those killed, 138 were traveling to Canada, according to the CBC. Among the victims were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three Brits. Protesters gathered Sunday in Washington, DC; Portland, Oregon; San Diego, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and other cities across the United States. They also rallied in Canadian cities, including Toronto, Kingston, Halifax and Regina. Globally, protests were held in Australia, Belgium, Turkey, Portugal, Germany and other countries. The protests were organized by The Association of Families of Flight PS752 Victims, an international group seeking justice for those killed. “We are determined to uncover the truth and find out why a commercial flight was shot down by IRGC’s missiles. We will staunchly seek justice until the culprits, perpetrators and commanders of this atrocious crime are identified and brought to justice before an impartial and independent court,” the association says on its website.”


Reuters: Drone Shot Down Over Iraq's Ain al-Asad Air Base

“Defence systems at Iraq's Ain al-Asad air base, which hosts U.S. forces, shot down a drone near the base on Sunday, with Iraqi military sources and the U.S.-led international military coalition offering confliciting accounts of the incident. The U.S.-led international military coalition said in a statement that it had conducted "an operational exercise..that involved engaging an Unmanned Aerial System" at Ain al-Asad base as part of a training exercise. However, the Iraqi military sources suggested the drone may have had hostile intent, saying it was not clear whether it was on a surveillance mission or if it was carrying any explosives. No damages or casualties were reported, the sources added. The mission of the international military coalition is to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and in Syria.”


i24: Lebanon Officials Call On Hezbollah To Arrest Hamas Terrorist Cell

“Security officials in Lebanon have called on the pro-Iranian Shiite militia Hezbollah to arrest a Hamas terrorist cell that plans to carry out operations against Israel from Lebanese territory, a security source in Lebanon revealed on Saturday. According to media reports, citing the source, Lebanese officials handed over to Hezbollah a list of names of Palestinian members of the terrorist organization, who operate in southern Lebanon, including Samir Pandi, Hassan Farhat, Nadim Dawabsha and Ahmed Hamdan Abdullah. Although Hezbollah is a declared enemy of Israel and an occasional ally of Hamas, security officials in Lebanon have condemned Hezbollah's inaction on the issue. The source said that "any action against Israel, especially at this time, would put Lebanon in danger and add to its disasters a new catastrophe which it does not need." Last year, Lebanon and Israel, which do not have official diplomatic relations and are still formally in a state of war, signed a historic maritime border deal following years of the U.S.-mediated negotiations. Hezbollah hailed the agreement and promised to end its "exceptional" mobilization against Israel after threatening to attack the Jewish state for months.”


Reuters: Mali Leader Pardons Ivorian Soldiers, Suspends 46 Prison Sentences

“Mali's junta leader has pardoned 49 Ivorian soldiers arrested in July and accused of conspiring against the Malian government, the presidency said in a statement on Friday. The soldiers' arrest sparked a diplomatic dispute between Mali and neighbouring Ivory Coast, and widespread condemnation from regional leaders against a country already at odds with the international community. They were arrested at the airport in Mali's capital Bamako last July. Malian authorities said the troops were acting as mercenaries, while Ivory Coast said they were part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali. Three who were women were later released, while the remaining 46 were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on Dec. 30 for attempting to undermine state security. The three released women were sentenced to death in absentia. President Assimi Goita "granted pardon and fully revoked the sentences of the 49 Ivorian (soldiers)," government spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga said in a statement. "This gesture demonstrates once again (Goita's) attachment to peace, dialogue and pan-Africanism," it said.”


Reuters: German Police Detain Iranian Suspected Of Planning 'Islamist-Motivated' Attack

“German police have taken into custody a 32-year-old Iranian citizen suspected of having procured deadly poisons cyanide and ricin to commit an "Islamist-motivated" attack, authorities in western Germany said on Sunday. The residence of the suspect in the city of Castrop-Rauxel was searched as part of the investigation, according to a joint press release from the Duesseldorf public prosecutor's office and police in the cities of Recklinghausen and Muenster. Police said the Iranian was suspected of having planned a "serious act of violence endangering the state" by allegedly procuring cyanide and ricin to commit an Islamist-motivated attack. This carries a prison sentence of between 6 months to 10 years. "Germany continues to be a direct target of Islamist terrorist organisations. Islamist-motivated lone perpetrators are another considerable danger," German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said following news of the investigation. "Our security authorities therefore expect preparations for an attack at any time," she said, adding that since 2000 German security authorities had prevented 21 Islamist attacks in Germany.”


Jewish Telegraphic Agency: How Long Before New TikTokers See Nazi Content? 75 Minutes, According To A Jan. 6 Committee Test

“The committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol wanted to test how fast it took social media to get to radical content. The answer, when it came to TikTok and Nazis, was just over an hour. It took TikTok 75 minutes to deliver Nazi content to a new user who did not seek it, the committee found, according to a report Thursday in Rolling Stone. The magazine is one of a number of publications reviewing the committee’s final release of documents as the U.S. House of Representatives transitions from Democratic to Republican control. Committee staffers were testing a theory that social media giants were reluctant to police right-wing extremist content in part because of pushback from then-President Donald Trump and his supporters who argue that such controls inhibit conservative speech. The Jan. 6 riot, which resulted in multiple deaths, was carried out by supporters of Trump who believed his false claim that he had won the 2020 election. That lie spread on social media, where right-wing accounts were some of the most seen during the period between the election and Jan. 6, after which several social media giants, including Twitter, banned Trump.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

We must use our privilege as humans to fight back against the system that keeps animals oppressed... They can’t wait. The earth can’t wait. Get off your ass and FIGHT.

Animal Liberation Front (ALF), ALF statement Jul. 23, 2019
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