Eye on Extremism: July 14, 2021

Reuters: Iranian Commander Urged Escalation Against US Forces At Iraq Meeting, Sources Say

“A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander urged Iraqi Shi'ite militias to step up attacks on U.S. targets during a meeting in Baghdad last week, three militia sources and two Iraqi security sources familiar with the gathering said. American forces in Iraq and Syria were attacked several times following the visit by an Iranian delegation led by Revolutionary Guards intelligence chief Hossein Taeb, which came after deadly U.S. air strikes against Iran-backed militias at the Syrian-Iraqi border on June 27. While encouraging retaliation, the Iranians advised the Iraqis not to go too far to avoid a big escalation, three militia sources briefed on the meeting said. The Iranians did, however, advise them to widen their attacks by retaliating against U.S. forces in Syria, according to one of the three militia sources, a senior local militia commander briefed on the meeting. The flare-up comes as significant differences cloud diplomatic efforts to revive the Iranian 2015 nuclear agreement, which was abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump but which Iran wants reinstated to allow it to resume key exports of oil.”

CNN: Taliban Fighters Execute 22 Afghan Commandos As They Try To Surrender

“Over clear but unsteady video, the words ring out: “Surrender, commandos, surrender.” Several men emerge from a building; they are clearly unarmed. Gunfire erupts. At least a dozen men are seen shot to death amid cries of “Allahu Akhbar” -- God is Great. The victims were members of an Afghan Special Forces unit: their executioners, the Taliban. The summary killings took place on June 16 in the town of Dawlat Abad in Faryab province, close to Afghanistan's border with Turkmenistan. CNN has obtained and verified several videos of the incident and has spoken with witnesses. Videos show the commandos' bodies strewn across an outdoor market. After a fierce battle to hold the town, the commandos had run out of ammunition and were surrounded by the Taliban fighters, witnesses said. In one video, about 45 seconds long, a bystander can be heard saying in Pashto, the local language: “Don't shoot them, don't shoot them, I beg you don't shoot them.” The bystander then asks: “How are you Pashtun killing Afghans?” The Pashtuns are the main ethnic group in Afghanistan. At the end of the video, another voice off-camera says: “Take everything off them.”

United States

Roll Call: House Appropriators Want Pentagon To Get Tough On Extremists In The Ranks

“The House Appropriations Committee would require Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III to report to lawmakers soon on progress in keeping violent extremists out of the U.S. military. The panel said in a report made public Monday that it would direct the Pentagon to report on how it is implementing proposals to solve the problem, including recommendations from an internal Defense Department study that was sent quietly to Congress in October and disclosed publicly by CQ Roll Call in February.  The Pentagon study described in detail appeals that white supremacists and other extremists have made to recruit military members — and their periodic successes.  “Despite a low number of cases in absolute terms, individuals with extremist affiliations and military experience are a concern to U.S. national security because of their proven ability to execute high-impact events,” the study stated. “Access to service members with combat training and technical weapons expertise can also increase both the probability of success and the potency of planned violent attacks.” The Defense Department's efforts to grapple with violent extremism, particularly white supremacism, sped up last year in the wake of the George Floyd protests.”

The Charlotte Observer: Who Are The Three Percenters? What Experts Say

“On Monday, the Columbia Police Department confirmed one of its officers had a Three Percenters sticker on his personal vehicle. That officer was taken off patrol and placed on administrative duty while the department conducts a review. But who are the Three Percenters, and why did the presence of their logo on a police officer’s car cause an uproar? The Three Percenters are a right-wing militia organization who have recently targeted political leftists, Muslims and immigrants, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The Three Percenters logo includes a Roman numeral III, often surrounded by a field of thirteen stars. After forming in 2008 on a blog run by an anti-government extremist involved in the militia movement, Three Percenters have established a track record of criminal activity ranging from weapons violations to terrorist plots and attacks, the Anti-Defamation League said. On June 25, the Canadian government listed Three Percenters as a terrorist organization, calling it a ideologically motivated violent extremist group. It is considered an anti-government militia movement, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

Syria

BBC News: Islamic State Children In Syria Face A Lifetime In Prison

“Thousands of foreign children, including British kids, are facing a lifetime of imprisonment in camps and jails in north-eastern Syria, with little hope of being released. A BBC investigation has found that the children, whose parents supported the Islamic State Group, are being moved from desert camps, to secure children’s homes, and onto adult prisons, in a conveyor belt of incarceration. Britain has repatriated only a handful of children from Syria, most of whom were orphans. The Kurdish authorities who run the facilities say they can’t cope, and that IS terror cells are recruiting and radicalising children as young as eight. The BBC's Middle East correspondent Quentin Sommerville reports from north-east Syria.”

Kurdistan 24: 8 Killed At Infamous Northeast Syrian Displacement Camp In June: SDF

“At least 8 people were killed last month at the sprawling al-Hol displacement camp that holds thousands of female ISIS suspects and their children in northeastern Syria. The announcement came from the US-backed Democratic Forces (SDF), which run the facility that has seen alarming numbers of murders in recent months seen to be at the hands of residents loyal to the extremist group following its territorial defeat in the country. “ISIS terrorist cells continued their activity inside al-Hol camp by carrying out more killings of residents who seek to get away from the extremist ideas of the group,” read the SDF’s latest monthly report released by its Military Observation Desk (MOD). “During June, MOD recorded the killing of eight people of Syrian and Iraqi nationalities (that were committed) by shooting them in the head, and the wounding of a Russian woman.” Moreover, the Kurdish-led SDF also said it had recently arrested 85 men, women, and children while they were attempting to escape from the camp. The number of targeted killings at al-Hol has fallen slightly over the previous few months following a sweeping SDF security operation in late March aimed at identifying and capturing those responsible for the deaths and other crimes.”

Iraq

Kurdistan 24: Kurdistan Releases Video Of Suspects Confessing To Plan For Eid Terrorist Attacks In Erbil

“The Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) announced on Tuesday that security forces had arrested members of a terrorist group affiliated with ISIS that was planning attacks in Erbil ahead of next week's Eid al-Adha celebrations. In a video released by the KRSC, five males describe their roles as part of a cell that planned to launch attacks in the capital city of the autonomous Kurdistan Region using both suicide bombers and gunmen at a major government building and another unspecified location they said was frequented by foreigners. The accompanying statement added that the General Directorate of Counter Terrorism in Erbil had thwarted the plot and arrested all five members of the cell, noting that they had “been recruited at the beginning of this year by the organization (ISIS) to carry out the attack.” The statement also pointed out that the cell members surveyed the places they intended to attack, including Erbil's governorate building, the site of a previous deadly ISIS attack in 2018. One of the men in the video who gave his name as Mazin Rasheed said that he is “from Anbar province, worked with ISIS as the head of machinery, and then went to live in Turkey after the terrorist group’s defeat.”

Turkey

The Wall Street Journal: Turkey, U.S. Make Progress In Kabul Airport Talks, Prompting Taliban Threat

“U.S. and Turkish officials have made progress in talks on a plan for Turkish troops to run Kabul’s international airport, something that would enable foreign embassies to remain in Afghanistan after the American military withdrawal, Turkey’s defense minister said. “A framework was drawn and work continues in specified fields,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said in remarks reported by Turkey’s official news agency on Tuesday. “We made quite constructive, quite positive talks. There are other countries that want to help Afghanistan, we are talking to them as well. It is a versatile process.” Talks were continuing with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other U.S. officials, he added. The Taliban reacted to the news by condemning Turkey for “extending the occupation of our country at the behest of and in agreement with America,” and the group warned that the Turkish troops that remain in Afghanistan will be considered occupiers and be dealt with accordingly. “Responsibility for all consequences shall fall on the shoulders of those who interfere in the affairs of others and make such ill-advised decisions,” the Taliban said Tuesday.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Shootout In NW Pakistan Leaves 2 Soldiers, 3 Militants Dead

“Security forces raided a militant hideout in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, triggering an intense shootout that killed two soldiers and three militants, the military said. According to a military statement, security forces launched a search operation following the shootout in the district of Kurram in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan. It provided no further details, and the identity and nationality of the slain militants were not immediately known. Kurram, a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban, is located near the Afghan border. Since 2017, Pakistan has been fencing the country's northwestern regions along the border to contain the movement of militants and to curb smuggling and illegal border crossings. Pakistan says it has completed 91% of the fence along the 2,611-kilometer (1,622-mile) boundary with Afghanistan known as the Durand Line.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Palestinian Terror Group Calls For 'Resistance' After Jerusalem Demolitions

“The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement called on Tuesday for Palestinians to respond to a string of home demolitions that were ordered by Israel in the past week in Jerusalem which it called “terrorism that targets Jerusalemites.” PIJ spokesperson Tariq Salmi stated that there has been an “escalation” of the Israeli policy of demolishing Palestinian buildings built without a permit, adding that it is “an aggressive policy aimed at continuing pressure on Jerusalemites and besieging them in all aspects of life, leading to their displacement and deportation from Jerusalem.” “These crimes and terrorism targeting Jerusalemites require action to activate all required measures to protect and rescue them, and to strengthen their steadfastness in the face of ethnic cleansing policies and all the crimes committed by the terrorist occupation against them,” said Salmi, calling for the activation of the “resistance in all its forms” in response. Salmi's comments come just hours after Muhammad Nassar Al-Husseini was forced to demolish his home in the Silwan neighborhood of east Jerusalem on Tuesday morning due to the fact that he lacked a permit when he built the building.”

Egypt

Arab News: Egypt Passes Bill To Dismiss Terrorist-Linked Govt Employees

“Egypt’s parliament has passed a bill that allows authorities to dismiss employees affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and other terrorist organizations from government positions. The move follows a string of deadly rail accidents blamed on the MB, lawmakers said. Public employees who have “failed to meet their duties as part of a bid to harm public services or the economic interests of the state” will be fired, the legislation said. An Egyptian government source said in a statement that the law will be implemented within weeks. The source added that the government is working to keep employees belonging to terrorist organizations away from high-profile positions within the state after it was found that a clandestine group within the government was involved in schemes aimed at harming the state. He said: “Cleansing state institutions of MB members is complicated and not easy, because most of them do not clearly declare their affiliation. “The law will define the mechanisms for dealing with each case and indicate the extent of its involvement in actions that threaten the stability of the country.”

Nigeria

All Africa: Nigeria: Islamic State Fortifies Its Position In The Lake Chad Basin

“The death of Abubakar Shekau, long-time leader of Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnah lid-Da'wati wa'l-Jihad (JAS), has opened the space for a reconfiguration of forces in the Lake Chad Basin. It could allow Islamic State (IS) to consolidate its position in the region through its local affiliate, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). According to ongoing Institute for Security Studies (ISS) research, IS proposes to set up four caliphates in Borno State, north-east Nigeria, to oversee its activities in the Lake Chad Basin area and beyond. The proposal to ISWAP was reportedly made in June, with plans for new caliphates (states) in Lake Chad, Sambisa, Timbuktu and Tumbuma. Each will have its own wali (governor) and 'governing' structure. However all four caliphates will be under the control of the Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi-led IS core, suggesting a closer control of franchising rights by IS central. Some positions will therefore remain central in the Lake Chad Basin and not be replicated in each caliphate. These include the Shura Council (consultative assembly) and Amirul Jaish (military leader) positions. Each caliphate will have at least two representatives at the Shura Council and military commanders of its own.”

The News Nigeria: Troops Rescue 17 Commuters From Boko Haram Terrorists In Borno

“The troops of Sector 1 Operation Hadin Kai, deployed at the Forward Operational Base (FOB) along Maiduguri-Damaturu road, have rescued 17 civilians from being kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists in Borno. The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja. He said the terrorists had attempted to infiltrate Auno village through the Rail Line adjacent to the community, but were quickly intercepted by troops in a fierce gun duel. According to him, further exploitation conducted by troops of 7 Division Garrison and 212 battalion, resulted in the successful rescue of the commuting civilians, who were abducted during the attack at Kontori along Maiduguri-Damaturu road. He said that the rescued civilians have been adequately documented and handed over to officials of Rapid Response Squad for further action. “Recall that it was during the said attack that our troops were involved in a road traffic accident, while responding to a distress call from the area. “The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya, commended the troops’ commitment and decisive operations against the terrorists.”

Somalia

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Slows Anti-Terrorist Campaign In Somalia As It Considers New Policy

“On Jan. 19, a U.S. aircraft opened fire on a vehicle driving near Jamaame, Somalia, killing a commander of the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, the local al Qaeda affiliate. That mission and another the same day brought to 203 the number of airstrikes former President Donald Trump carried out in Somalia during his term in office, according to military records. On Jan. 20, Joe Biden was sworn in as president. Since then, there hasn’t been a single U.S. airstrike on al-Shabaab. The U.S. war against al-Shabaab, conducted largely behind a veil of secrecy since 2007, remains in limbo as Mr. Biden weighs his national-security priorities and wrestles with the last-minute decisions of his predecessor. “We’re committed to Somalia,” said a senior U.S. official. “What exactly that will look like is still under discussion.” In the final weeks of his presidency, Mr. Trump ordered a hurried withdrawal of roughly 650 U.S. special-operations and other troops from Somalia, where they had been training an elite local commando unit to fight al-Shabaab. The military moved most American troops to neighboring Djibouti and Kenya, sites within commuting distance of Somali government training camps.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Threat To UK From Hostile States Could Be As Bad As Terrorism, Says MI5 Chief

“The chief of MI5 is to warn that the activities of China, Russia and other hostile states could have as large an impact on the public as terrorism, marking a significant shift in emphasis from the UK’s domestic spy agency. Giving his annual threat update on Wednesday, Ken McCallum is expected to say that the British public will have to “build the same public awareness and resilience to state threats that we have done over the years on terrorism”. But while the threat from Russia, as demonstrated by the poisoning of the Skripals in Salisbury, is familiar to the British public – the spy chief will argue that threats that typically come from China are not. McCallum will say that universities and researchers risk “having their discoveries stolen or copied” if they are not vigilant and that businesses could be “hollowed out by the loss of advantage they’ve worked painstakingly to build”. “Given half a chance, hostile actors will short-circuit years of patient British research or investment. This is happening at scale. And it affects us all. UK jobs, UK public services, UK futures,” McCallum will say.”

France

France 24: Five Years On, Nice Remains Haunted By Memory Of Bastille Day Truck Attack

“For most French people, Bastille Day is synonymous with military pomp and parties, but in the southern city of Nice the country’s national holiday also conjures up visions of horror. On Wednesday, the Mediterranean city will pause to mark five years since a man drove a 19-tonne truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day on the waterfront, killing 86 people. Dozens of nationalities were among the victims who were out to enjoy a fireworks show on the palm-fringed Promenade des Anglais with friends and family when Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel struck. The Tunisian-born assailant, who is believed to have been spurred by jihadist propaganda, was shot dead by police after a two-kilometre rampage. Fifteen of his victims were minors, with the youngest aged just two-and-a-half. At the city’s Lenval hospital, around 300 children are still being monitored by psychiatrists for the trauma suffered from that night, with around 100 needing regular consultations. “Five years on, we still have patients who have recurring nightmares, which are flashbacks to the attack,” Florence Askenazy, head of the service, told AFP. “These are primary school children who witnessed severed limbs and other terrible things when they were little, who have nightmares about heads being cut off and trucks coming from all directions,” she explained.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: German Spy Chief Warns Of Islamic State's Strength

“The head of Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, has given a rare interview specifically to warn that despite appearances, terrorism remains a real threat to world order, even 20 years after 9/11. Speaking to the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday, Bruno Kahl said that though Europe and the US had not seen any more major terrorist attacks like those of two decades ago, “Islamist terrorism has developed further and cost very many human lives. The number of terrorist actors and the danger they pose has increased.”   There have of course been major successes in the fight against the Islamic State in the past few years — especially the 2019 killing of the group's self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the destruction of the “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq as a quasi-state entity. But since then, said Kahl, IS has turned into a decentralized network, much like al-Qaida, whose suborganizations “are even spreading out.”  This isn't exactly news, according to Mirna El Masri, a radicalization and terrorism researcher at the Hamburg-based German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA). “There had been indications in 2019 after the loss of its territories that IS had strengthened considerably,” she told DW.”

Technology

The Washington Post: Why Facebook Really, Really Doesn’t Want To Discourage Extremism

“Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported Facebook executives allegedly shut down internal research showing the platform increased political polarization and declined to make changes that might make the platform less divisive. Why might Facebook be reluctant to reduce polarization on its platform? Our study, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, might offer an answer. We analyzed nearly 3 million U.S.-based tweets and Facebook posts to examine what social media posts that go “viral” have in common. We specifically looked at political posts, including those by members of Congress or left- and right-leaning media outlets. The results were stark. The most viral posts tended to be about the opposing political party. Facebook posts and tweets about one’s political out-group (that is, the party opposed to one’s own) were shared about twice as often as those about one’s own political group. Posts about the opposition were almost exclusively negative. Furthermore, each additional word about the opposing group (for instance, in a Republican’s post, that might include “Democrat,” “leftist,” or “Biden”) in a social media post was associated with a 67 percent increase in social media shares.”

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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