Eye on Extremism: July 12, 2021

Reuters: Gunmen Kill At Least 45 People In Northwest Nigerian Town

“Militants killed at least 45 people in an attack on the town of Faru in northwest Nigeria, residents and a hospital worker said on Friday. Such violence has increasingly become a part of everyday life in the region, with the Nigerian government and security forces showing little ability to stem the deterioration of law and order. “The armed bandits stormed Faru town on more than 100 motorbikes, shooting sporadically on the people at about twelve noon yesterday,” said Abubakar Iliyasu, a resident who witnessed the attack. Another resident, Musa Dan Auta, also said the gunmen killed 45 people, while a local hospital worker who declined to be named for fear of official retaliation said corpses were brought in. “Yesterday evening, security forces and the local militia vigilantes brought 29 dead bodies and 11 other injured people into the hospital,” the worker said. Raids, killings and mass kidnappings for ransom, particularly of school children, have become commonplace in northwest Nigeria. The rampant violence has sparked concerns that the region is fallow ground for extremist groups to move in and take advantage of the absence of governance to foment insurgency. Nigeria is already fighting a 12-year battle with Islamist extremists Boko Haram and Islamic State's West African branch, a war which shows little sign of ending.”

Associated Press: Taliban Say They Now Control 85% Of Afghanistan’s Territory

“The Taliban claimed on Friday that they now control 85% of Afghanistan’s territory amid a surge in wins on the ground and as American troops complete their pullout from the war-battered country. The announcement came at a press conference at the end of a visit by a senior Taliban delegation to Moscow this week — a trip meant to offer assurances that the insurgents’ quick gains in Afghanistan do not threaten Russia or its allies in Central Asia. The claim, which is impossible to verify, was considerably higher than previous Taliban statements that more than a third of the country’s 421 districts and district centers were in their control. There was no immediate response from the government in Kabul on the latest claim. Earlier this week, Taliban advances forced hundreds of Afghan soldiers to flee across the border into Tajikistan, which hosts a Russian military base. Tajikistan in turn called up 20,000 military reservists to strengthen its southern border with Afghanistan. Russian officials have expressed concern that the Taliban surge could destabilize the ex-Soviet Central Asian nations north of Afghanistan. Since mid-April, when President Joe Biden announced the end to Afghanistan’s “forever war,” the Taliban have made strides throughout the country.”

United States

Associated Press: FBI: Nebraska, Iowa See Jump In Hate Crimes In Recent Years

“Nebraska and Iowa have seen a rise in hate crimes in recent years, most of which have been committed on the basis of race and ethnicity, according to the FBI. The FBI region that includes Nebraska and Iowa has seen a 21% increase in the reporting of hate crimes in recent years, Eugene Kowel, special agent in charge at the FBI’s Omaha field office, said Thursday in a news conference. Kowel cited an Iowa case as an example of the kinds of hate crimes the agency has seen more of in recent years. In the Iowa case, 43-year-old Nicole Poole Franklin, of Des Moines, pleaded guilty in April to federal hate crimes for driving onto Des Moines sidewalks to hit two children in separate attacks in 2019. Authorities said she targeted the children because she thought that one was Mexican and that the other was part of the Islamic State. The FBI’s Omaha office has also formed a multicultural advisory council, Kowel said, which is intended to help guide investigation strategies in hate crimes, he said. The council is made up of community leaders and individuals from a cross-section of demographics. Federal officials define a hate crime as a criminal offense, such as assault or arson, with an added element of bias against the intended target’s race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender or gender identity.”

Bloomberg Law: Terror Conviction Remains Because Challenge Wouldn’t Reduce Time

“A defendant’s collateral attack on a conviction for conducting terrorist activities was rejected by the Second Circuit Friday, because a positive outcome wouldn’t change the length of time he spends in prison. Oussama Kassir was convicted in 2009 for providing material support to terrorists, conspiring to kill in a foreign country, and distributing information about destructive devices. He received two life sentences on the conspiring to kill charges and a 20-year sentence on the destructive devices charge—all of his sentences ran concurrently and were affirmed on direct appeal. After the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Johnson v. United States and…”

The Hill: Massachusetts Standoff Reveals Growing Extremist Threat

“Last Saturday, July 3, U.S. law enforcement members once again confronted heavily armed extremists. The 11 men arrested along I-95 near Wakefield, Mass., are not, however, white supremacists from the Oath Keepers,  Three Percenters, or Proud Boys but members of a little-known African American group, the Rise of the Moors. The episode reveals that the threat from domestic extremist groups is widespread and increasingly diverse. The incident began when a Massachussets State Trooper stopped to assist drivers of two vehicles refueling by the side of the road. Seeing that some of the men wore body armor and were armed with pistols and long guns, the officer asked them for identification, which they failed to provide. Several of the men fled into the nearby woods, but they eventually surrendered. The standoff lasted nine hours. To their credit, the officers resolved the situation peacefully. The group’s leader said they were a militia from Rhode Island traveling to Maine to engage in training on private land. The suspects insist they did nothing wrong and were exercising their second amendment rights to “bear arms.” However, the local district attorney charged them with having unlicensed guns and other firearms violations.”

Syria

The National: UK Fixer Paid Smugglers To Spring ISIS Members From Syria Camps

“A British sales consultant has been convicted of ISIS membership after paying smugglers with Bitcoin to free the group’s supporters from detention camps in Syria. Hisham Chaudhary, 28, using the cryptocurrency, received and transferred thousands of pounds to ensure breakouts from the Kurdish-run camps. Chaudhary ran a propaganda, communications and funding operation for the terrorist organisation from his home in Leicester, central England. He proved himself to be a trusted member of the organisation, creating videos to spread the group’s ideology. He also sought help to try to prevent the videos from being taken down. He has been convicted of seven terrorism offences after a five-week trial in Birmingham, England. Chaudhary, who was detained in November 2019, was held in prison after the verdicts and will be sentenced in September. Police said he subscribed to the group's ideology and “immersed himself in supporting their activities and creating and spreading propaganda on their behalf”. His activities included setting up safe communication networks for other ISIS supporters. Martin Snowden, a senior counter-terrorism officer, said: “From the comfort of his home in the UK, Hisham Chaudhary took an active role in promoting, supporting and funding terrorism.”

The Hill: US Troops In Syria Come Under 'Indirect Fire Attack'

“U.S. forces in eastern Syria came under indirect fire on Saturday, though no injuries or casualties have been reported, according to Reuters. A U.S. defense official told Reuters that that the attack occurred in Conoco, Syria. Though no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, it is believed to have been part of a campaign carried out by Iranian-backed militias. The news services notes that this is the most recent in a spate of attacks on U.S. personnel in Syria and Iraq. Last Thursday, rockets landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, causing some damage in the area. The day before that, over a dozen rockets struck a base housing U.S. troops in Iraq and resulted in minor injuries. Iraqi militia groups aligned with Iran — Kata'ib Hezbollah (KH) and Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) — have vowed to attack U.S. forces in both Iraq and Syria in response to airstrikes carried out on the Iraqi-Syrian border last month that targeted their facilities and killed four of their members. Iran has denied supporting these attacks. “As demonstrated by this evening's strikes, President Biden has been clear that he will act to protect U.S. personnel.”

Afghanistan

CBS News: U.S. Bolsters Security At Kabul Embassy As Troops Leave Afghanistan And Taliban Close In

“U.S. troops will be out of Afghanistan by the end of next month after 20 years of war. President Biden laid out the strategy on Thursday to withdrawal the remaining American forces, defending the timeline even as the Taliban gain strength, and take more ground in the country. CBS News correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports that right across Afghanistan, districts are falling to the Taliban like dominoes. As U.S. forces head for the exit and the militants inch closer to the capital, the U.S. Embassy has been taking a hard look at its own security situation. Charge D'Affaires Ross Wilson, the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan, told D'Agata that the embassy had “added some additional quick reaction capabilities, in the event that something happens.” Asked if the embassy had emergency evacuation plans in place in the event of a “worst case scenario,” Wilson said he didn't think any sudden flight from the well-fortified compound was “imminent,” but he added that “planning for evacuations in any post like this is serious business.” There are only a few miles between the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the capital's international airport, which American troops are helping to keep secure. But on the streets of Kabul, if it ever comes to an emergency evacuation, the roads will be a no-go.”

Yemen

Asharq Al-Awsat: Hit, Run Battles Cost Houthis Hundreds Of Militants In Al-Bayda

“Within seven days, Houthi militias have deployed some of its most elite forces in retaliation to military operations mounted by pro-government forces in Yemen’s central governorate of Al-Bayda, where the Iran-backed group had lost hold of the districts of al-Zahir and al-Soumaa. Despite sending the “Hussein Brigades,” the insurgency militia failed in regaining any of the ground it lost and ended up entangled in hit-and-run battles that saw over 200 Houthi combatants killed, pro-government military media sources revealed. Meanwhile, Yemeni army forces, backed by the Saudi-led Arab Coalition and Popular Resistance units, are determined to liberate Al-Bayda from the grip of Houthis, government sources told Asharq Al-Awsat. Al-Bayda is considered highly strategic given its geographic location connecting it to eight other surrounding governorates. Houthis losing the central governorate will deal a severe blow to the entire insurgency they lead. For the time being, Houthis shifted their strategy in Al-Bayda to focus on replenishing depleted ranks by deploying more artillery and fighters while continuing a terror campaign against local tribes. Houthis are also isolating Al-Bayda locals by cutting off communications and spreading fake news.”

Lebanon

The Times Of Israel: Troops Foil Mass Gun-Smuggling Attempt From Lebanon; Probe If Hezbollah Involved

“Israeli security forces foiled an attempt to smuggle dozens of weapons from Lebanon into northern Israel overnight Friday, with police and the Israel Defense Forces announcing on Saturday that they were investigating whether it was carried out with the help of the Hezbollah terror group. In a statement, police said the 43 weapons and ammunition seized were worth NIS 2.7 million (approximately $820,000). According to Hebrew media reports, it was the largest stash of weapons intercepted in recent years. There were no reports of any arrests. The smuggling attempt near the village of Ghajar was carried out using both “overt and covert methods,” the army said, without giving further details. Hezbollah has long maintained control over the area adjacent to the border with Israel and is unlikely to have been unaware of such smuggling operations. The IDF released video footage it said was of the smugglers during the incident. Last month Israel arrested a suspect and seized a number of weapons during an apparently similar smuggling attempt. According to the police, a resident of Ein Qiniyye, a Druze village in the Golan Heights, was arrested in a field near the town of Metula, adjacent to the border with Lebanon, as he was attempting to smuggle the supply of weapons in a tractor, under the guise of agricultural activity.”

Egypt

The Times Of Israel: Egypt Upholds Life Sentences Of 10 Muslim Brotherhood Leaders

“Egypt’s highest appeals court has upheld the sentencing of ten leaders of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, including the group’s head, to life imprisonment, the state-owned MENA news agency reports. In 2019, a Cairo criminal court found all ten, including the group’s Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, guilty of charges related to killing policemen and organizing mass jail breaks during Egypt’s 2011 uprising. That revolt culminated in the ouster of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The defendants were found guilty of helping around 20,000 prisoners escape, and of undermining national security by conspiring with foreign terror groups — the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Meanwhile, the Court of Cassation acquittes eight middle-rank leaders of the nation’s oldest Islamist organization, who were sentenced earlier to 15 years in prison. All of the sentences, which the court considered on appeal, are final.”

Somalia

Associated Press: Extremist Attack In Somalia’s Capital Kills At Least 9

“A large explosion in Somalia’s capital killed at least nine people and injured eight others, a health official said Saturday. Dr. Mohamed Nur at the Medina Hospital told reporters that the toll reflected only the dead and wounded who were taken to the facility in Mogadishu where he works. “I am sure the number is bigger as some of the victims were rushed to other hospitals, such as the privately owned ones,” he said. The al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility. A Somali police spokesman said Mogadishu’s police commissioner, Col. Farhan Mohamud Qaroleh, was the target of the attack but he was safe. “A suicide car bomber with heavy explosives plotted by the terrorist group al-Shabab has targeted the Mogadishu police commissioner,” police spokesman Sadiq Adam Ali said. “They hit the vehicle of the Mogadishu police commissioner.” It was the second such large explosion in the city this month. A blast targeting a teashop killed at least 10 people last week. Last month, a suicide bomb attack at a military base in Mogadishu killed at least 15 people.”

Africa

Al Jazeera: France To Pull More Than 2,000 Troops From Africa’s Sahel Region

“France will soon begin reshaping its military presence in the Sahel region of West Africa and will ultimately halve it, President Emmanuel Macron has said. Macron announced last month that he would start removing much of the 5,100-member Barkhane force in the Sahel after eight years of helping local forces stave off the threat from armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS). “We will remain committed. But to remain committed is also to adapt,” Macron told a news conference on Friday after a virtual summit with leaders of Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania that make up the G5 Sahel region. Macron announced that France would reduce its force to 2,500 to 3,000 troops over the long term. The French leader insisted that his country is not abandoning African partners, and would keep helping them fight groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL. “France doesn’t have the vocation or the will to stay eternally in the Sahel,” Macron said. “We are there because we were asked to be.” French troops have been present in Mali since 2013, when they intervened to force armed rebels from power in towns across the country’s north. Operation Serval was later replaced by Barkhane and was expanded to include other countries in an effort to help stabilise the broader Sahel region.”

Voice Of America: Rwanda Sends 1,000 Soldiers, Police To Fight Mozambique Militants

“Rwanda says it is sending 1,000 security personnel to Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique to help fight Islamist militants who have terrorized the region. In a statement issued Friday on the government's website, Rwanda said the deployment would start immediately and was being done at the request of the Mozambican government. Mozambican officials did not respond to VOA’s request for comment Friday. “We are deploying 1,000 soldiers and policemen to help Mozambique in the fight against jihadists in Cabo Delgado,” Rwandan army spokesman Colonel Ronald Rwivanga told VOA’s Central African Service. The Rwandan government said its troops would join forces with Mozambique’s and others from the South African Development Community to “support efforts to restore Mozambican state authority by conducting combat and security operations.” SADC countries agreed last month to deploy forces to troubled Cabo Delgado but have yet to announce the size of the force or a timeline. Rwanda is not a member of the 16-country bloc. Cabo Delgado has experienced several years of unrest that intensified in 2020, when Islamist extremists seized parts of the province, including the city of Mocimboa da Praia.”

France 24: Dozens Killed In Niger After 'Terrorists' On Motorcycles Attack Village

“Five civilians, four soldiers and 40 armed attackers were killed Sunday in a clash in Niger's restive southwest region near the border with Mali, the government said. Around 100 heavily armed “terrorists” riding motorcycles attacked the Tchoma Bangou village, striking around 3 pm Sunday, Niger's Ministry of Defence said in a statement read on public television that did not identify who it suspected was behind the latest deadly incident. The “prompt and vigorous reaction” by the Defense and Security Forces (FDS), “made it possible to repel the attack and inflict heavy losses on the enemy”, the ministry said, adding that its soldiers had seized motorcycles and a cache of weapons, including AK47s and machine guns, from the assailants. Tchoma Bangou is located in the Tillaberi region, bordering Mali and Burkina Faso, an area known as “the three borders” that has been regularly targeted by jihadist groups. Tillaberi has been under a state of emergency since 2017. The authorities have banned motorbike traffic night and day for a year and ordered the closure of certain markets suspected of supplying “terrorists.”

Punch: Fending Off Global Terror Influx In Africa

“The global terrorist influx into Africa with Nigeria as one of its epicentres is gathering renewed international attention. Expert assessment of recent jihadist expansion in sub-Saharan Africa coincided with a summit of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS held in Rome, Italy, where a new continental task force was proposed among other measures to combat the growing threat. Nigeria and other countries should deploy vigorous proactive strategies in coordination with international partners to crush the home-grown groups and deny jihadism its desired continental operational base. Recently, The Guardian (London) reported that following recent gains in Nigeria, the Sahel, in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ISIS propaganda published by the group’s leadership in its heartland in the Middle East is increasingly stressing sub-Saharan Africa as a new front which, may compensate the group for significant setbacks elsewhere. A French expert on jihad, Olivier Guitta of GlobalStrat Risk Consultancy has also predicted: “Africa is going to be the battleground of jihad for the next 20 years and it’s going to replace the Middle East.” But some African leaders still appear ignorant of the existential danger posed by global Islamic terrorism.”

Southeast Asia

Associated Press: 2 Suspected IS-Linked Militants Killed In Central Indonesia

“Indonesian security forces on Sunday killed two suspected militants with ties to the Islamic State group who were believed to be connected to the killing of Christian farmers on Sulawesi island, the country’s military said. The two men, identified as Rukli and Ahmad Gazali, were fatally shot during a pre-dawn raid by a five-man team of military and police in Central Sulawesi province’s mountainous Parigi Moutong district, said Maj. Gen. Richard Tampubolon, who heads the joint operation. Parigi Moutong borders Poso district, considered an extremist hotbed in the province. Security operations in Central Sulawesi have intensified in recent months to try to capture members of the East Indonesia Mujahideen network, particularly targeting Ali Kalora, the group’s leader and Indonesia’s most wanted militant. The network pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2014. Tampubolon said the security team located the militant camp on Wednesday in the densely forested village of Tanah Lanto. The team was able to approach the camp early Sunday with five militants inside, however three militants escaped the firefight into the jungle, Tampubolon said in a statement. He said security forces were still searching for the seven remaining members of group who are still at large, including Kalora.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On July 23, 2016, two suicide bombers targeted members of Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic minority who were demonstrating in Kabul. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 97 people and injured 260 others. 

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