Eye on Extremism: July 20, 2021

Reuters: Suicide Attack In Iraq's Sadr City Kills At Least 35, Wounds Dozens -Sources

“A suicide bomber killed at least 35 people and wounded dozens in a crowded market in the Sadr City neighbourhood of Baghdad on Monday, the eve of the Eid al-Adha festival, security and hospital sources said. More than 60 people were wounded, a police source said. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, the group’s Nasheer news agency said on Telegram. It said one of its militants blew up his explosive vest among the crowds. Hospital sources said the death toll could rise as some of the wounded were in critical condition. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi held an urgent meeting with top security commanders to discuss the attack, the premier’s office said in a brief statement. President Barham Salih posted a tweet saying: “With an awful crime they target civilians in Sadr city on the eve of Eid ... We will not rest before terrorism is cut off by its roots.” In April, the Sunni Muslim militant group Islamic State claimed responsibility for a car bomb attack on a market in Sadr City, Baghdad’s main Shi’ite Muslim neighbourhood, that killed four people and wounded 20. Islamic State also claimed responsibility for a bomb attack last January that killed more than 30 in the crowded Tayaran Square market in central Baghdad - Iraq’s first big suicide bombing for three years.”

The Sydney Morning Herald: Terror Concerns After Police Raids Uncover Potential Bomb-Making Materials

“Police have arrested a former member of the Defence Force and seized chemicals that could be used to manufacture explosives during a major operation in Picton, south of Sydney. Investigators are looking into whether the 54-year-old man, who allegedly has extensive training with bombs from his military experience, is a “doomsday prepper” or was preparing for an act of terrorism using the chemicals he had collected. The raids on two addresses in Picton, starting on Tuesday morning, followed a joint investigation by NSW Police and the Australian Federal Police into alleged firearms offences. The investigation was launched after the AFP became aware of a number of alleged imports of firearms parts, chemicals and 3D printing materials. The agency then passed the intelligence on to NSW Police. Searches of the premises uncovered a stockpile of chemicals, bulletproof plates that could be used in body armour, and $200,000 in cash, according to police. “Currently there are specialist police making assessments of a range of different chemicals potentially used to make explosives,” Detective Chief Inspector Paul Albury, crime manager of Camden Police Area Command, said. “We already have serious concerns about the stockpile.”

United States

NBC News: Biden Administration Transfers Its First Detainee From Guantánamo Bay

“The Biden administration has transferred its first detainee out of Guantánamo Bay, leaving 39 prisoners at the facility on the American base in Cuba. The Department of Defense announced the transfer of Abdul Latif Nasir to his native Morocco in a statement early Monday. In 2016, under then-President Barack Obama, a review board determined that Nasir’s detention was no longer necessary to protect against “a continuing significant threat” to the national security of the United States, according to the statement. The board recommended that Nasir be repatriated but the transfer was not completed by the end of the Obama administration. Nasir was also not repatriated under former President Donald Trump. “The United States commends the Kingdom of Morocco for its long-time partnership in securing both countries’ national security interests,” the statement said. “The United States is also extremely grateful for the Kingdom’s willingness to support ongoing U.S. efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility.” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that Morocco's facilitation of Nasir's repatriation, alongside its past willingness to return its foreign terrorist fighters from northeast Syria, should encourage other nations to repatriate their citizens who have traveled to fight for terrorist organizations abroad.”

The Washington Post: Proud Boys Leader Enrique Tarrio Pleads Guilty In Burning Of Black Lives Matter Banner In D.C.

“Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, a leader of the extremist group the Proud Boys, pleaded guilty Monday to burning a Black Lives Matter banner that was stolen Dec. 12 from a historic African American church in Washington during a tumultuous demonstration by far-right supporters of President Donald Trump. As part of a deal with prosecutors, Tarrio, 37, who lives in Miami, also pleaded guilty in D.C. Superior Court to a reduced charge of attempting to possess a high-capacity ammunition magazine. He initially had been charged with two felony counts of possessing such magazines, which are illegal in the District. The two offenses that he admitted to committing, including destruction of property in the banner-burning, are misdemeanors, each punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 23. Appearing in Superior Court via video, apparently from his Florida home, Tarrio, who is free on his own recognizance, voiced no regret for joining other Proud Boys members in setting fire to the BLM banner on a downtown D.C. street corner the night of Dec. 12. But he told Senior Judge Harold L. Cushenberry Jr. that he was unaware the banner had been stolen from Asbury United Methodist Church at 11th and K streets NW.”

The New York Times: Capitol Rioter Sentenced To 8 Months For Trying To Stop Vote Certification

“The first person to have pleaded guilty to storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 with the intention of stopping the certification of the Electoral College vote was sentenced on Monday to eight months in prison in what could serve as an indicator for scores of similar cases. The defendant, Paul A. Hodgkins, pleaded guilty last month to a single felony count — obstruction of an official proceeding before Congress — and admitted to breaching the Senate floor with a Trump flag and a backpack filled with items like goggles, rope and a pair of latex gloves. Mr. Hodgkins was one of about 50 people who made it to the Senate floor, prosecutors say. His acknowledgment that he went deep into the Capitol intending to disrupt the peaceful transition of power set him apart in the eyes of prosecutors from scores of other members of the mob who had merely walked into the building. At a sentencing hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, Judge Randolph D. Moss said there needed to be “severe consequences” for the attack, but also noted that Mr. Hodgkins, a 38-year-old Florida crane operator, was a first-time offender and had pleaded guilty early. Those circumstances will apply to only some of the other defendants who are facing similar charges.”

The Detroit News: FBI Agent In Whitmer Kidnap Case Arrested Following Domestic Incident

“The arrest of an FBI agent credited with helping thwart a plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer complicates one of the most closely watched cases of violent extremism that is becoming increasingly focused on allegations of wrongdoing by investigators. FBI Special Agent Richard Trask, 39, of Kalamazoo, was charged Monday with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, less than murder following a domestic incident with his wife Sunday. He was released on a $10,000 personal recognizance bond following an arraignment in 8th District Court in Kalamazoo and faces a charge punishable by up to 10 years in prison. His arrest comes at a critical juncture in the criminal case against five men charged in federal court with plotting to kidnap Whitmer. Defense lawyers last week leveled a broad attack on the foundation of the high-profile case and suggested a second FBI agent was trying to sabotage defense teams. Trask, 39, has worked for the FBI since 2011 and served as the FBI's public face in the Whitmer case, testifying in federal court about the investigation. He has worked on cases involving espionage, terrorism and domestic extremism investigations.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Foreign Missions In Afghanistan Call For Taliban Ceasefire

“Fifteen diplomatic missions and the NATO representative in Afghanistan urged the Taliban on Monday to halt their military offensives, just hours after the insurgents and the Afghan government failed to agree on a ceasefire at talks in Doha. A delegation of Afghan leaders met the Taliban's political leadership in the Qatari capital over the weekend. But in a statement late on Sunday, the Taliban made no mention of a halt to Afghanistan's escalating violence. “This Eid al-Adha, the Taliban should lay down their weapons for good and show the world their commitment to the peace process,” the 15 missions and the NATO representative said, referring to Tuesday's Muslim holiday in Afghanistan. The statement was supported by Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the European Union delegation, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Britain and the United States and NATO's senior civilian representative. Over recent Eid holidays, the Taliban have called short ceasefires, saying they wanted to let Afghans spend them in peace.”

France 24: Rocket Attack On Afghan Capital As President Gives Eid Speech

“At least three rockets landed in the Afghan capital Tuesday ahead of a speech by President Ashraf Ghani marking the start of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility, it was the first rocket attack on Kabul since the Taliban launched a series of offensives to coincide with the final drawdown of foreign troops from the war-wracked country. The early morning holiday calm was shattered by the sound of incoming rockets heard across the heavily fortified Green Zone that houses the presidential palace and several embassies, including the US mission. “All the rockets hit three different parts,” said interior ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanikzai. He said three rockets appeared to have been fired from a pickup truck. “Based on our initial information, we have no casualties.” Minutes after the attack, Ghani began an address to the nation in the presence of some of his top officials. The presidential palace was attacked last year as hundreds of people gathered to watch President Ashraf Ghani's inauguration ceremony, prompting some to flee. The jihadist Islamic State group (IS) claimed responsibility for the two blasts, with no reports of casualties.”

Newsweek: U.S. Calls On Taliban To End Violence As Terrorist Group Makes Gains Across Afghanistan

“The United States and Western allies called on the Taliban to immediately end the violence in Afghanistan and show their commitment to the peace process on Eid al-Adha, the holy Islamic holiday that begins on Monday. The joint statement from the U.S. and 13 other allies follows a week of heavy military advances from the Taliban across Afghanistan, as they capitalize on the last stages of the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign forces from the country. The militant group claimed recently that their fighters had retaken 85 percent of the country—a figure disputed by the government. Other estimates say it's now believed to control roughly half of the country's 400 districts, including several vital border crossings, and that it's attacking a string of important provincial capitals. On Monday, the Sugh-e-Bill (Qashqar) oil fields belonging to the Amu oil field in Sar-e-Pul province fell to the Taliban, according to Sada, a television network in Afghanistan. Amid the continuing violence, the joint statement from the allies, including Australia, Britain, Canada and the European Union, on Monday said: “The Taliban's offensive is in direct contradiction to their claim to support a negotiated settlement of the conflict and to the Doha peace process.”

United Kingdom

The National: UK Police Chief Warns Of Terrorist Threat As Lockdown Eases

“The head of London's Metropolitan Police has warned of the risk of a terrorist attack as lockdown restrictions eased in England on Monday. Cressida Dick said her officers are dealing with more than 800 live cases and that they have seen a rise in the threat of far-right terrorism. Since 2017, she said, 29 lethal intended attacks had been prevented, 18 of which were by Islamist militants and 10 by far-right extremists. The UK's terrorism threat level is currently rated as “substantial”. Ms Dick has warned an attack is “still likely” as travel opens up and people gather together. “As lockdown eases there may be greater opportunities for terrorists to exploit in terms of travel and crowds of people,” she told The National. “Right now the police and the security services are working on a very high level of investigations, more than 800. Of these, we are seeing an increased proportion of extreme right-wing terrorists. There is no doubt there is an increasing threat. Around one in four of our arrests relate to extreme right-wing terrorists.” She also warned of youngsters being radicalised, with one in 10 of those arrested under the age of 18. “It is a global phenomenon and we are working with our international partners to defeat it,” she said.”

Australia

ABC News Australia: Escaping Extremism: What Are The Signs That Someone's Becoming Radicalised?

“Mubin Shaikh describes the journey he took towards de-radicalisation as going “from the dark side to Jedi”.  Now a professor of public safety at Toronto's Seneca College, Shaikh became radicalised when he was 19, after a chance encounter with the Taliban on a holiday to Pakistan in 1995. A man with a beard wears a hoodie, black boots and reflective sunglasses.  He returned home to Canada and spent the next six years immersed in the culture. He became a Islamic extremist and recruited others. But it was the September 11 attacks in New York in 2001 that made Shaikh reconsider his commitment to the cause. “I just could not comprehend how it would be permissible to fly planes into buildings [and] non-combatant targets,” the former jihadist says. Over the next year, he gradually turned away from the Taliban ideology to become a counter-terrorism agent for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. “I went to Syria [in 2002]. I spent two years there studying Arabic and Islamic Studies and came to relinquish my [extremist] interpretations because I could see that they were not actually founded on scripture,” he says.  “Once you decide that you want to turn away from [extremism], the subsequent months are going to be filled with you just second-guessing your whole life all over again.”

Europe

Associated Press: Norway’s July 22, 2011, Terror Attack: A Timeline

“A timeline of the events of July 2011, when Anders Behring Breivik attacked the Norwegian government and a Labor youth camp on the island of Utoya, killing a total of 77 people, and the court proceedings that followed: July 22, 2011 2:09 p.m. — Anders Breivik sends a manifesto, “2083 – A European Declaration of Independence” to 1,002 email addresses including Norwegian politicians and journalists. 3:17 p.m. — Breivik parks a white van outside the government quarter in Oslo, loaded with a 950-kilogram bomb, then leaves in a separate vehicle heading for Utoya island. 3:25 p.m. — The bomb explodes, killing six women and two men.5:17 p.m. — Breivik arrives in Utoya on a boat from the mainland, dressed as a policeman and carrying an arsenal of weapons in a suitcase 5:21 p.m. — The shooting starts. Breivik kills a guard and a camp organizer before stalking and murdering mostly teenagers and young adults around the island. He kills 69 people. 6:34 p.m. — Breivik gives himself up to armed police and is arrested. April 16, 2012 — The trial begins with Breivik entering the court giving a clenched fist salute. The court will decide if he is sane, and capable of facing justice.”

Southeast Asia

International Business Times: Singapore Businessman Faces Trial For Transferring S$1,000 To Syria-Based Islamic State Militants

“A Singaporean businessman was charged on Monday, with providing about S$1,000 to an Islamic State militant for facilitating terrorist operations in Syria. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed that 50-year-old Mohamed Kazali Salleh was arrested by Malaysian Special Branch officers in December 2018. He was then deported to Singapore and handed to the Internal Security Department in January 2019 for investigations into his terrorism-related activities, reported Singapore newspaper TODAY. Kazali was also subject to a detention order under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for his support of Isis. He is accused of giving a total of about S$1,000 over three occasions to Syria-based Islamic State militant Malaysian Wan Mohd Aquil Wan Zainal Abidin, who is “believed to be the most senior ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) fighter in Syria” prior to his reported death in March 2019, said MHA. Wan Mohd Aquil Wan Zainal Abidin, known as Akel. MHA said Kazali was a “close associate” of Akel Zainal. An investigation by the Singapore Police Force found that Kazali allegedly provided money to Akel over three occasions in 2013 and 2014.”

Technology

The Washington Post: The Spyware Is Sold To Governments To Fight Terrorism. In India, It Was Used To Hack Journalists And Others.

“A powerful surveillance tool licensed only to governments was used to infiltrate mobile phones belonging to at least seven people in India and was active on some of their devices as recently as this month. The hacks — confirmed by forensic analysis of the phones — represent a tiny fraction of what may be a vast surveillance net, intensifying concerns about the erosion of civil liberties in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Hundreds of Indian phone numbers appeared on a list that included some selected for surveillance by clients of NSO Group, an Israeli firm. The list contained numbers for Rahul Gandhi, India’s main opposition leader; Ashok Lavasa, a key election official considered an obstacle to the ruling party; and M. Hari Menon, the local head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Others included on the list were journalists, activists, opposition politicians, senior officials, business executives, public health experts, Tibetan exiles and foreign diplomats. A group of Modi critics accused of plotting to overthrow the government also appeared on the list. The spyware that infiltrated seven of the analyzed phones is called Pegasus. It secretly unlocks the contents of a target’s mobile phone and transforms it into a listening device.”

International Business Times: ISIS Beheading Videos Streamed On OnlyFans Model Tina Bean's Hacked Account

“Hackers targeted the OnlyFans account of model Tina Bean and streamed the horrific beheadings carried out by ISIS at unidentified locations. Apart from losing her followers Bean also lost thousands of dollars as subscription fee. OnlyFans is a subscription-based service where people pay to see the adult content. The 22-year model, hailing from Phoenix, was earning $2,000 per month by posting her content on the adult website. According to BBC, the model tried changing her password multiple times but wasn't able to regain the control from the hackers. Prior to streaming the gory videos of beheading, the hackers had demanded a ransom of $150 from Bean after they took control of her account. Speaking to the outlet, Bean said that the hackers seemed terrifying. “They seemed terrifying. I kept deleting them and changing my password but kept getting locked out of my account,” she told the outlet. The outlet further reported that the hackers went on to spam over 40 of Bean's fans and called them N-word. Not done, the hackers then stole her pictures and uploaded them on a porn site. Bean told the outlet that a month after repeated hacking of her account she final reported the matter to OnlyFans and temporarily disabled her account.”

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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