Eye on Extremism: July 14, 2020

Al Monitor: Iran Offers Unconditional Support To Hamas, Islamic Jihad

“Since Hamas and Islamic Jihad remained on the sidelines in the Syrian civil war and left their respective offices in Damascus in 2012, Iran, a staunch ally of the Syrian regime, suspended its financial support to both movements, cutting off their largest sources of funding. The return of these relations, however, seems to be in the offing, especially with the recent events in the region. On May 28, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that his government intends to annex 30% of the West Bank. Head of the Hamas political bureau Ismail Haniyeh said July 6 that he had received a message from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, confirming that his country will continue to provide support to the Palestinians. “Iran will spare no effort to support the Palestinian people to restore their right and hold off the evil schemes of the Zionist entity,” the message read. The message comes after Iranian Shura Council Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf made two phone calls to Haniyeh and Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah July 1, to discuss mechanisms and ways to thwart Israel’s annexation plan.”

The Jerusalem Post: Israeli Research Center Finds 28 New Hezbollah Missile Launch Sites

“There are at least 28 missile launching sites belonging to Hezbollah in civilian areas in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, a report by ALMA Research and Education Center has found. The report found that the never-before-published sites concentrated mainly in Hezbollah-dominated areas of Beirut are related to the launch, storage and production of the group’s Fateh 110/M600 medium-range missiles and are “the same as those subject to the Hezbollah precision-guided missile project (PGMs).” “The world must understand and know that these launch sites are located at the heart of residential and urban civil infrastructure,” Tal Beeri, head of the Research department at ALMA Center, told The Jerusalem Post. Hezbollah, he said, is using the population of Beirut as human shields by “not hesitating to place their launch sites near public buildings, educational institutions, factories and more.” According to the report, Hezbollah has an estimated 600 Fateh 110/M600 missiles, which have a range of up to 300 km., while improved models called “D’ Al-Ficar” have a range of up to 700 km.”

BBC News: Neo-Nazi Group Led By 13-Year-Old Boy To Be Banned

“A neo-Nazi group that was led by a 13-year-old boy from Estonia should be banned as a terrorist organisation, the UK government has announced. Feuerkrieg Division, an international group that largely existed online, said earlier this year it had dissolved. But Home Secretary Priti Patel has now asked Parliament for permission to outlaw it in the UK. This would make it a criminal offence to be a member of or invite support for the group. Ms Patel said: “This vile white supremacist group advocates violence and seeks to sow division, targeting young and vulnerable people online.” A Home Office statement said the organisation advocated the “use of violence and mass murder in pursuit of an apocalyptic race war”. The statement added that, in retaliation for the arrest of one of its British followers last year, the group distributed a list of police buildings and an image of a senior police officer with a gun to his head and the words “race traitor” across his eyes, urging followers to carry out attacks. FKD was created in late 2018 and sought recruits online, particularly through its channels on encrypted messaging applications.”

United States

The Washington Post: The U.S. Must Respond Forcefully To Russia And The Taliban. Here’s How.

“In late 2017, when I was commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, an Afghan governor whom I knew well and trusted came to my headquarters in Kabul. He brought a small cache of weapons that he said had been provided to the Taliban by Russian operatives coming across the northern border from Tajikistan. This marked a significant change from the pre-2014 days of cooperation with the Russians, when they facilitated our logistics through Central Asia. Unfortunately, support to the Taliban fit into what U.S. intelligence showed was a pattern of increasing Russian malign activity, which included cooperation with the Taliban and disinformation tactics aimed at undermining U.S. and NATO legitimacy, jeopardizing prospects for peace and endangering our troops. Russia provided small arms, ammunition and money with the intention of sustaining the Taliban in the fight and gaining influence ahead of the anticipated withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops. While this assistance did not significantly alter the tactical balance on the battlefield, it helped the Taliban inflict more casualties on Afghan security forces and increased the danger to their U.S. and coalition advisers. I concluded at the time that the Russian assistance was calibrated.”

Syria

Reuters: Russia Says Joint Patrol With Turkey Hit By Bomb Attack In Syria

“A roadside bomb planted by Syrian militants in the de-escalation zone in Idlib detonated near a joint Russian-Turkish patrol on Tuesday morning, injuring three Russian soldiers and some Turkish soldiers, the Russian Defence Ministry said. Russia called off the patrol following the blast near the town of Ariha in Idlib province that damaged one Russian and one Turkish armoured personel carrier, the ministry said. It was evacuating its equipment from the area and moving its troops to the Hmeimim air base where some of them would receive treatment, it said. An unconfirmed social media video of the attack circulated by Russia’s RIA news agency showed a powerful explosion right by a convoy of passing armoured vehicles. Two Turkish sources said there were no Turkish casualties in the attack.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Taliban Stage A Major Attack, As Violence Intensifies In Northern Afghanistan

“The Taliban waged a sustained assault against an Afghan intelligence complex in the city of Aybak on Monday, killing at least 11 people and wounding more than 60 others, part of a bloody wave of violence across the country’s north. With the opening of peace talks between the insurgency and the Afghan government stalled for months, the Taliban have intensified their offensives, creating one of the deadliest years of the long war. On Monday, insurgents detonated a car bomb at the entrance of the provincial headquarters of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security in Aybak, the capital of Samangan Province, about 150 miles northwest of Kabul. The blast, which also struck a nearby municipal compound, opened the way for fighters to enter the intelligence agency complex, where they battled the Afghan forces for hours, said Sefatullah Samangani, the deputy governor of the province. Mr. Samangani said 11 officers of the intelligence agency, mostly men but at least one woman, were killed and 63 others were wounded. Only 15 of the wounded were intelligence officers and the rest civilians. “The blast was so strong that it broke people’s windows three kilometers away,” Mr. Samangani said.”

Pakistan

The Nation: A New Wave Of Terrorism In Pakistan

“The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSE) attack in Karachi and a series of terrorist attacks in Ghotki, Hyderabad and Rawalpindi coupled with the assaults on Pakistani patrolling troops at Iran’s bordering areas marks a new wave of terrorism in Pakistan. The Baloch, Sindhi and MQM-London linked ethno-separatist groups have forged a new alliance under the Indian patronage. Pakistan’s top political and military leadership has blamed India for the PSE attack.  This new wave of terrorism in Pakistan should be seen in the broader context of the evolving regional security situation, particularly the intra-Afghan peace process and the India-China border dispute in the Himalayan region. The shifting geopolitical sands in South Asia are throwing up new opportunities to a plethora of anti-Pakistan militant groups, particularly the ethno-separatist outfits. Of the 73 terrorist groups banned by the National Counter Terrorism Authority, 13 are ethno-nationalist outfits. Unable to match China’s conventional military superiority, India has chosen the asymmetric option of targeting the Chinese economic interests and projects in Pakistan.”

Yemen

Reuters: Yemeni Houthis Say They Hit Saudi Oil Facility In Drone, Missile Attack

“Yemeni Houthi forces hit a large oil facility in the southern Saudi Arabian city of Jizan in drone and missile attacks overnight, a Houthi military spokesman said on Monday. The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis said earlier it had intercepted and destroyed four missiles and six explosive drones fired by the Houthis over the border towards Saudi Arabia. There was no Saudi confirmation of where they were intercepted or whether anything was hit. Oil company Saudi Aramco operates a 400,000-barrel-per-day refinery in the Red Sea city of Jizan, which lies around 60 km (40 miles) from the Yemen border. Aramco declined to comment. “With many drones our armed forces targeted military aircraft, pilot accommodation and Patriot systems in Khamis Mushait, and other military targets at Abha, Jizan and Najran airports,” said Yahya Sarea, a Houthi military spokesman. “Additionally, the giant oil facility in the Jizan industrial zone. The strike was accurate.”  Khamis Mushait, Abha, Jizan and Najran are all in southwest Saudi Arabia near the Yemen border. Cross-border attacks by the Iran-aligned Houthi movement have escalated since late May when a truce prompted by the coronavirus pandemic expired. In late June, missiles reached the Saudi capital Riyadh.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: 602 Ex-Boko Haram Terrorists Prepare For Freedom After Repentance, Training By Nigerian Government

“Some 602 repentant Boko Haram terrorists on Monday denounced membership of the group and swore oath of allegiance to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They took the oath before an 11-man quasi-judicial panel headed by Justice Nehizena Afolabi of the Federal High Court, Gombe. The denunciation followed months of participation in Operation Safe Corridor, a multi-agency humanitarian effort led by Defence Headquarters, that was launched in 2016 to encourage Boko Haram terrorists to surrender. The programme is based on De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Re-Integration of former members of the insurgent group that has terrorised the North-East region for over 10 years. Speaking during the exercise, Maj.-Gen. Bamidele Shafa, Coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, said the appearance of the repentant insurgents before the judicial panel was a major requirement before their reintegration into the society. He said, “The panel is for the clients to appear before it to confess their pasts and denounce their membership of Boko Haram, Islamic State’s West Africa Province as the case maybe. “And swear oath of allegiance to be loyal, discipline and obedient citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and then make commitment.”

Caj News Africa: Nigeria Scheme Snubs Ex-Boko Haram Women

“Nigeria's programme to rehabilitate repentant members of the Boko Haram has come under criticism for shunning women that quit the terror group. The criticism comes as the West African country has rehabilitated about 900 ex-insurgents under the Operation Safe Corridor (OSC). It is the biggest project by Nigeria to address the terrorism that has left thousands dead and millions displaced northeast of the country. Nextier Security, Peace and Development (SPD) however said the programme appeared male-focused and repentant women were merely released back to their communities. “Processes for females with links to Boko Haram are not clear,” the Abuja-based think-tank stated. According to the experts, the government's programme overlooks the fact that some women were involved as perpetrators. Nextier SPD said the chances of survival for women with links to Boko Haram would be worse even as they were reportedly released into communities without adequate psychosocial support and empowerment. In some cases, these women are snubbed by the community. There is concern therefore that with no means of livelihood or support, the chances of the women returning to Boko Haram remain high.”

Somalia

Associated Press: Somalia’s Army Chief Survives Bombing Of His Convoy; 1 Dead

“Somalia’s army chief has survived an assassination attempt when a suicide car bomber targeted his convoy in the Somali capital Monday, officials said. At least one person was killed by the blast, they said. The blast took place when the bomber tried to ram his vehicle into the convoy escorting Gen. Odowa Yusuf Rage bringing his bodyguards to open fire and the vehicle detonated, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein, a senior Somali police officer. A pedestrian standing nearby was killed by the blast, as well as the bomber, he said. Several people including some of the army chief’s bodyguards were injured, Hussein told The Associated Press. Casualties may rise as some of the wounded sustained serious injuries, he said. Shops and businesses were damaged by the blast which occurred on a road to a military camp where the army chief was heading, said Col. Ahmed Muse, a police officer. At least one dead body could be seen lying at the scene of the blast, he said. Somalia’s extremist rebel group al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the blast in an announcement on its Andalus radio station. The blast highlights challenges facing the government’s efforts to restore security in the long-chaotic nation in the Horn of Africa.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Accused Islamist Extremist Mali War Crimes Trial Set To Start Tuesday In ICC 

“An alleged Islamist arrested in Mali is set to go on trial Tuesday at the International Criminal Court for orchestrating war crimes and crimes against humanity in the city of Timbuktu. Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud was arrested in 2018 in Mali, where he was said to be a key member of Ansar Dine  (“Defenders of the Faith”), a militant group that ruled northern Mali for nearly a year in 2012. Prosecutors allege Al Hassan orchestrated a range of crimes, including torture, rape, sexual slavery and other inhumane acts. The chief prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda said, Al Hassan was also accused of being involved in the destruction of ancient artifacts that paid homage to supposed idols.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Coventry Man Denies Whatsapp Terror Videos Charges

“An engineer has denied using WhatsApp to send videos glorifying terror groups. Aftab Khan, 52, is charged with five counts of disseminating terrorism material and possessing material likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing acts of terrorism. Mr Khan, of Dorset Road, Coventry, pleaded not guilty to sending the videos between 2014 and 2019 during an appearance at Birmingham Crown Court. He will next appear on 29 September.”

Germany

Agence France-Presse: Two Al-Qaeda-Linked Syrians Arrested On Suspicion Of Aiding Group

“Two Syrians have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of helping to carry out an execution by an Islamist terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda, prosecutors said Monday. Named only as Khedr A.K. and Sami A.S., the men are accused of having “jointly killed a person protected under international humanitarian law,” prosecutors said. The men were arrested and their apartments searched in Naumburg, near Leipzig, and in the western city of Essen. Khedr A.K. joined the Ghurabaa Muhassan group in Syria, part of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization, some time before July 2012, prosecutors said.  At that time, Jabhat al-Nusra was Al-Qaeda's sister organization in Syria. On July 10, 2012, Khedr A.K. was involved in the execution of a lieutenant colonel with the Syrian army who had been captured by the group, they said. He is accused of guarding the prisoner, who was bound by his hands and subjected to severe mistreatment, as he was transferred to his place of execution in Syria. Both men appeared before the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) on Monday and are now in custody.”

Europe

Reuters: Spanish Police Detain Two Algerian Citizens In Anti-Terrorism Operation In Barcelona

“Spanish police detained two Algerian citizens in Barcelona on Tuesday morning in an anti-terrorism operation, the local Catalan police force said on its Twitter account. The two men were preparing a terror attack, Spanish radio station Cadena Ser reported, quoting unidentified sources close to the investigation. Local police didn’t confirm that information.”

New Zealand

The New York Times: White Supremacist Who Admitted Christchurch Killings Plans To Represent Himself

“An Australian white supremacist who pleaded guilty to killing 51 worshipers at two mosques in New Zealand last year plans to represent himself at a sentencing hearing in August, a court heard on Monday, raising concerns that he might use the proceedings to push his views and traumatize the survivors once again. The white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant, initially denied involvement before pleading guilty in March to 51 counts of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and one count of terrorism for the killing spree in Christchurch on March 15, 2019. The massacre, the deadliest shooting in New Zealand’s history, led the government to ban most semiautomatic weapons and spurred an effort to restrict racist and violent content on the internet. The gunman had posted a white-supremacist manifesto online and live-streamed part of the shootings on Facebook. On Monday, a judge at Christchurch’s High Court confirmed that Mr. Tarrant, who appeared via video link from Auckland Prison, had waived his rights to legal representation before allowing his lawyers, Jonathan Hudson and Shane Tait, to withdraw from the case, according to the local news media.”