Eye on Extremism: July 20, 2022

Associated Press: UN Experts: Terrorist Threat Remains High In Conflict Areas

“U.N. experts said Tuesday the threat from Islamic State extremists and al-Qaida remains high in conflict areas and neighboring countries and warned that those conflicts will “incubate” the capability for a terrorist operation elsewhere in the world unless they are successfully resolved. In a wide-ranging report to the U.N. Security Council, the experts said both the Islamic State and al-Qaida operate in the areas of greatest concern -- Africa, central and south Asia, and the “Levant” which includes Syria and Iraq. The experts said foreigners who fought with the Islamic State group are “another major potential threat multiplier” along with their dependents and quoted one unnamed country reporting that an estimated 120,000 remain in 11 camps and some 20 prison facilities in northeast Syria. Another country reported that approximately 10,000 “foreign terrorist fighters” remain in custody of the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, they said. The panel of experts monitoring sanctions against al-Qaida and the Islamic State, also known as IS and ISIL, said that among those being held are 30,000 children under the age of 12, “who are at risk of radicalization by extreme ISIL ideology. It quoted another unnamed country as saying ISIL is seeking to create a new generation of extremists and is continuing its “cubs of the caliphate” approach adopted when its so-called caliphate ruled a significant swathe of Syria and Iraq from 2014-2017.”

Fox News: Africa: The New Ground Zero For Jihadi Terror Groups, Experts Say

“Africa has been beset by jihadi violence, and it is something the U.S. will need to pay close attention to, observers warn. On Sunday, a U.S. airstrike killed two al-Shabab terrorists in response to an attack carried out against U.S. partner forces in Somalia. “The Islamic Jihad in Africa is real,” claims Jasmine Opperman, South Africa based security consultant specializing in extremism and political violence, who believes Africa has taken over from the Middle East as the jihadis main area of operations. “It definitely is the case”, Opperman told Fox News Digital. “If one looks at the history of Africa, I'm going into Mali and the West Africa region, Somalia, the East Africa region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique, we are seeing that al-Qaeda has always had an entrenched presence in Africa. We are seeing an environment conducive for these international terror groups to find themselves, embed themselves and take the lead in extremist activities in all of these regions.” Earlier this month, Nigeria's most secure prison was overrun by jihadis, even though the Nigerian Minister of the Interior Rauf Aregbesola said Kuje Prison is a world-class facility and “the most fortified in the country”. However, a platoon of the Nigerian army “with sophisticated weapons” were no match when an Islamist jihadi movement decided to spring over 60 terrorists jailed there.”

Syria

The New York Times: ISIS Fighters’ Children Are Growing Up In A Desert Camp. What Will They Become?

“Viewed from a helicopter, this enormous camp that holds the wives and children of dead or captured Islamic State fighters was a sea of white tents against the desolate landscape of drought-stricken northeastern Syria. From the ground, the human dimension of this tragedy came into focus. As a convoy of armored vehicles made its way up a dusty road, children emerged to stand at the fence amid garbage. Some waved. One boy, in a faded “Star Wars” shirt, stood with hands clasped behind his back. Another, in an oversize polo shirt, held aloft a star folded from paper. Al Hol is a detention camp for people displaced by the ISIS war — guards do not let residents walk out its gates. About 93 percent of the 55,000 people here are women and children, about half under 12 years old. While most have Iraqi or Syrian mothers, thousands come from about 51 other countries, including European nations that have been reluctant to repatriate them. The world’s attention has largely moved on since the Islamic State’s last major enclave here crumbled in 2019. But left behind are tens of thousands of children growing up under brutal circumstances and intensely vulnerable to radicalization. They are surrounded by hard-line, militant women; as boys grow into teenagers, they are sometimes transferred to wartime prisons for fighters.”

AFP: Russia, Turkey And Iran To Continue Cooperation To ‘Eliminate Terrorists’ In Syria

“Russia, Turkey and Iran on Tuesday vowed to continue their cooperation to “eliminate terrorists” in Syria, in a trilateral statement after their presidents met in Tehran. The three countries “reaffirmed the determination to continue their ongoing cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate terrorist individuals, groups, undertakings and entities,” the statement read. They “expressed their opposition to the illegal seizure and transfer of oil revenues that should belong to Syria”. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. They also “rejected all attempts to create new realities on the ground under the pretext of combating terrorism, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives, and expressed their determination to stand against separatist agendas” in Syria. The trilateral statement was released after Erdogan urged his Russian and Iranian counterparts to back his efforts to fight “terrorism” in Syria. It comes after he has lately repeatedly threatened to launch a military offensive against a semi-autonomous Kurdish administration in Syria's oil-rich northeast. Turkey has launched waves of attacks on Syria since 2016, targeting the Kurdish fighters as well as ISIS group extremists.”

SOFREP: US To Fund Syrian Detention Facilities, But Will This Address ISIS Threats?

“With looming challenges in Syria, the US Department of Defense (DoD) is preparing to address them as it faces military challenges and threats to civil security. The US and its coalition partners said they are proceeding with their mission in Syria to “Defeat ISIS.” However, more than 10,000 ISIS combatants are hosted in “makeshift detention facilities” and approximately 60,000 displaced civilians. The latter is housed in the al-Hol and al-Roj camps. These factors continue to pose a significant threat. During a conversation held at the Middle East Institute in Washington, District of Columbia, Dana Stroul, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, stated that: “The threat which we all know is that ISIS views the detention facilities where its fighters are housed as the population to reconstitute its army.” Stroul also emphasized in her statement that ISIS views al-Hol and al-Roj facilities, along with the children and teenagers housed in those camps, as the organization’s “future generation.” According to Stroul, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) soon crumbled, and as a result, there were insufficient facilities to imprison all of the seized ISIS fighters. These fighters were held in makeshift detention facilities, such as schools or office buildings.”

Afghanistan

Human Rights Watch: UN Reports On Taliban Repression, Abuse In Afghanistan

“A new report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) makes for very grim reading, confirming many of the concerns Afghan human rights advocates have raised since last August, when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. UNAMA catalogues serious human rights abuses that Taliban forces have committed, including summary executions and enforced disappearances of former members of the Afghan National Security Forces, which have continued months after the Taliban takeover. It chronicles the series of Taliban decrees on the rights of women and girls that have given rise to “severe restrictions on their human rights, resulting in their exclusion from most aspects of everyday and public life.” And UNAMA describes how “arbitrary arrests and detention of journalists, human rights defenders, [and] protesters have had a chilling effect on freedom of the media and civic activism.” The response from the Taliban authorities was predictable. They ignored the many cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances UNAMA documented, and they denied the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had “ever beaten anyone, harmed or forced anyone to do anything … or said anything to women about dress code.” Much of their response was limited to the situation of prisoners, including the peculiar and false assertion that inmates “are satisfied” with prison food.”

Lebanon

Associated Press: Israeli Leader Warns Hezbollah During Visit To Border

“Israel’s new prime minister paid an unannounced visit to the border with Lebanon on Tuesday, threatening to unleash a harsh military response to what he described as “unacceptable” aggression by the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group. The visit came at a time of heightened tensions with Hezbollah, a heavily armed group that fought Israel during a monthlong war in 2006. On Monday, Israel said it intercepted a drone that crossed from Lebanese territory, and last week, Hezbollah’s leader threatened Israel with military escalation if a dispute over a maritime border is not resolved in Lebanon’s favor. “Israel is prepared to act against any threat,” said Yair Lapid, who took over Israel’s caretaker prime minister on July 1. “We have no interest in escalation but Hezbollah’s aggression is unacceptable and is liable to lead the entire region into an unnecessary escalation.” He was joined by Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and top military officials as he toured the area. Israel considers Hezbollah its most serious immediate threat, estimating the Iranian-backed group has some 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Palestinian Attacker Shot; Israel And Hamas Exchange Fire

“A Palestinian attacker in Jerusalem stabbed a man on a bus with a screw driver on Tuesday before he was shot by a bystander, Israeli police said. Earlier Tuesday, Israeli aircraft struck a post belonging to the militant Hamas group in the Gaza Strip, in response to a gunshot fired into southern Israel from the Palestinian territory earlier in the day, the military said. In the Jerusalem stabbing, hospital officials said the victim, a man in his 40s, was moderately wounded. The alleged attacker was shot by a nearby bystander and taken to hospital in critical condition. Police said initial reports indicated the attack was nationalistically motivated but gave no further details. In the Gaza airstrike, Palestinian media said the site was struck multiple times by missiles from the air. Earlier Tuesday, a bullet fired from Gaza hit an industrial building in the community of Netiv HaAsara, the military said. There were no reports of injuries in either incident. No one has claimed responsibility for firing the bullet, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all violence originating from Gaza, which has been under the rule of the Islamic militant since 2007. On Saturday, the Israeli military carried out a series of airstrikes on a Hamas site in response to a rocket fire toward Israel.”

Voice Of America: Al-Qaida Positioned To Surpass Islamic State Among Jihadis

“Al-Qaida, boosted by leadership stability and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, appears to be positioning itself to once again be seen as the world's preeminent terror group and as the greatest long-term threat to the West. Intelligence shared by United Nations member states and published in a new report Tuesday, finds al-Qaida is enjoying a degree of freedom under Taliban rule that has allowed its leadership to communicate more often and more easily with affiliates and followers, and sell itself as a more attractive option than its rival, the Islamic State terror group, also known as IS, ISIS or ISIL. “The international context is favorable to al-Qaida, which intends to be recognized again as the leader of global jihad,” according to the U.N. report. “Al-Qaida propaganda is now better developed to compete with ISIL as the key actor in inspiring the international threat environment, and it may ultimately become a greater source of directed threat,” the report added, noting that IS “has suffered a rapid succession of leadership losses since October 2019, with an as yet unknown impact on its operational health.” The report further concludes that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, long rumored to be in ill health or dying, is “alive and communicating freely.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Many Nigerian Soldiers Feared Killed In Fresh Boko Haram Ambush In Borno

“A yet-to-be-confirmed number of soldiers has been killed and several others missing after an ambush by militants from the Islamic State-backed faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), formerly known as Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād in Borno State. Multiple military sources told SaharaReporters that the attack took place in the Gubio Local Government Area of the state on Monday. The sources added that at least a military vehicle, several weapons and ammunition were stolen and burnt by the terrorists during the attack. SaharaReporters gathered that the soldiers were on patrol to clear some Boko Haram terrorists in the area following credible intelligence when they were ambushed by the group. The terrorist group in a statement sighted by SaharaReporters on Tuesday confirmed the ambush. Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, have killed thousands and displaced millions of people in northeastern Nigeria. The Nigerian military has repeatedly claimed that the insurgency has been largely defeated and frequently underplays any losses. In the past months, soldiers have been targeted by insurgents.”

Sahara Reporters: African Union Donates Military Equipment To Fight Boko Haram Terrorists In Nigeria, Chad, Others

“The African Union (AU) has donated military equipment to boost the counter-insurgency operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad region. This is contained in a statement issued by Chief of Military Public Information, MNJTF, Lt.-Col, Kamarudeen Adegoke, from the MNJTF Headquarters in N’Djamena, Chad on Tuesday. Adegoke said the donation of the equipment was done through the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC). The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the donated equipment includes Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs); troop-carrying vehicles, buses, high calibre generators, Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) equipment, and office equipment. He said the equipment was handed over to the recipients’ Troops Contributing Countries (TCCs) of Nigeria, Niger, and Chad after the necessary paperwork and authorisation by the AU. According to him, the approval comes after the visit of the Force Commander, MNJTF, Maj.-Gen Abdul Khalifah Ibrahim to the AU Continental Logistics Base in Doula, Cameroon in November 2021 where he inspected and identified various equipment that would be useful in its counter-insurgency operations.”

Africa

AFP: Rebels Kill 10 In Eastern DR Congo

“Suspected rebels have left at least 10 people dead in a series of attacks in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local sources said Monday, while the army reported killing 22 insurgents over the week. The feared Armed Democratic Forces (ADF) faction was believed to have carried out the assault on Saturday and Sunday in the volatile region. “We discovered eight bodies of civilians killed by these ADF, one was burned in his home,” on Sunday night at Ndimo village in Ituri province, local civil-society leader Dieudonne Malangay told AFP. He added that on Saturday, ADF combatants had also killed two civilians in the neighboring village of Otmaber, set ablaze 10 houses in the area and torched two vehicles on national route 4. The army spokesman for Ituri, lieutenant Jules Ngongo, did not answer reporters about the number of civilians killed in the latest attacks. However, he said the armed forces “control the security and operational situation,” in the area. “Twenty-two ADF terrorist elements” had been killed and soldiers were still carrying out search operations, he added. The ADF — which the Islamic State group claims as its Central African offshoot — is among the most violent of the more than 120 militias that roam eastern Congo.”

Reuters: Togo Villagers Flee To Urban Centres After Militant Attacks

“Civilians in a part of northern Togo attacked by suspected Islamist militants last week have been fleeing their homes en masse to seek refuge in nearby cities, a local mayor said. More than 25 people were killed in the attacks on four villages in the Kpendjal district, near the border with Burkina Faso, two local activists told Reuters. The government said a number of people were killed but did not say how many. “People are leaving their villages en masse,” Arzoume Sambiani, the mayor of a part of Kpendjal, said in a statement on Monday. He urged civilians to return to their villages and resume their everyday activities while avoiding travel after dark. Togo's government declared a state of emergency last month across the wider Savanes region in the north. Togo has experienced a spate of attacks this year linked to a spillover of jihadist violence that has ravaged its northern neighbours in the Sahel region over the past decade. Militant violence previously confined to Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger has been spreading into coastal West African countries, including Benin and Ivory Coast, despite the presence of foreign troops across the region.”

Australia

The Advocate: Sydney Man On Trial For Plotting Mardi Gras Isis-Related Terror Attack

“A convicted terrorist recruiter in Australia faced a judge and jury this week on charges of plotting a terrorist attack against Sydney’s famed Mardi Gras celebration. Prosecutors argued in a New South Wales courtroom that Hamdi Alqudsi, 47, was the ringleader of Shura, an Islamic State terrorist cell in Australia that conspired to hang an ISIS flag from atop the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge and kill international tourists at the city's Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras celebrations, according to the Australian Associated Press. Authorities say Alqudsi directed the group's activities from August 30 to December 31, 2014. Alqudsi was previously convicted in 2016 of helping young men travel to Syria to fight on behalf of the Islamic State terrorist organization. According to The Australian, prosecutor Patricia McDonald said Alquidsi and Shura pledged allegiance to ISIS through Alqudsi's contact in Syria, Mohammad Ali Baryalie. “I want to make a pledge of allegiance very soon,” Alqudsi allegedly messaged Baryalie. “I want to write my name down for a martyrdom operation please as soon as possible. Put my name in this list because my intention is to execute a great operation, God willing.” “It was a two-stage process: you give your pledge of allegiance, Islamic State is informed, and they then determine whether it’s accepted,” McDonald explained to the court earlier today, according to the paper.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On September 28, 2020, two Katyusha rockets targeted U.S. troops stationed at Baghdad’s airport, but fell short, striking a house. The impact killed two women and three children and wounded two other children. Iraqi intelligence blamed a small group of Iran-backed fighters.   

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