Eye on Extremism: July 21, 2021

NBC News: California Synagogue Shooter Pleads Guilty In Deadly Attack, Will Spend Life In Prison

“A California man who opened fire at a synagogue two years ago, killing one person and wounding other people in an anti-Jewish attack, will spend the rest of his life in prison. The man, John T. Earnest, now 22, pleaded guilty to murder and other charges in the April 27, 2019, attack at Chabad of Poway, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office said. Earnest walked into the synagogue in the city north of San Diego with a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle and opened fire, killing Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and wounding the rabbi, an 8-year-old girl and her uncle. He fled and called 911, saying that he was the shooter and that the Jewish people were “destroying the white race,” officials have said. With the plea in state court Tuesday, Earnest avoids a possible death sentence. But he is also charged federally, and a decision has not been made whether to seek the death penalty in that case, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego said. Earnest agreed to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, as well as additional sentences of 121 years to life and 16 years in prison, the district attorney's office said. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 30.”

The New York Times: U.S. Military Conducts A Drone Strike Against Shabab Fighters In Somalia

“The United States conducted a drone strike against Shabab militants in Somalia on Tuesday, the first such military action against the Qaeda affiliate in East Africa since the Biden administration took office in January. The strike was carried out by military aircraft against Shabab fighters who were attacking members of the Danab, an elite American-trained Somali commando force, near the town of Galkayo in the country’s north, said a Pentagon spokeswoman, Cindi King. The Biden administration placed new limits on drone strikes outside active war zones when it took office on Jan. 20, to give it time to develop a permanent policy. The Trump administration set broad rules for strikes in particular countries and delegated authority to commanders in the field about when to carry them out, but proposals for strikes are now generally routed through the White House. The White House has since rejected a handful of requests by the military’s Africa Command to carry out drone strikes against Shabab targets in Somalia because they did not meet the new standards. But in this case, Mrs. King said, White House approval was not needed because the Africa Command has the authority to conduct strikes in support of allied forces under what the military calls collective self-defense.”

United States

Reuters: Man Linked To Oath Keepers Admits Joining U.S. Capitol Attack

“A fourth person linked to the Oath Keepers militia group pleaded guilty on Tuesday to two criminal charges related to his participation in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump supporters. Caleb Berry, 20, who prosecutors said was in communication with a Florida-based Oath Keepers group, is the fourth person affiliated with the militia to plead guilty to riot charges and the 19th to plead guilty to federal riot-related charges. More than 535 people have been charged with taking part in the violence, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden's election victory.Trump falsely claims he lost the election because of widespread electoral fraud. Berry pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and obstructing an official proceeding at a hearing in federal court in Washington. Prosecutors said in court papers that Berry was cooperating with investigators. Other defendants linked to the Oath Keepers who entered guilty pleas to riot-related charges also are cooperating with investigators, records showed. On Jan. 6, prosecutors said, Berry and others donned protective vests, helmets and goggles, as well as clothing and patches with the Oath Keepers logo.”

The Daily Caller: ‘Justice Isn’t Being Done’: Family Of Bombing Victim Urges Biden Admin To Bring Alleged Terrorist To Justice

“The family of a 15-year-old U.S. citizen killed in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem 20 years ago has asked the U.S. government to bring justice to the victims for years and is now asking the Biden administration to step up. President Joe Biden met with Jordan King Abdullah on Monday afternoon, and White House officials would not say whether the pair discussed the extradition of FBI Most-Wanted Terrorist Ahlam Aref Ahmad Al-Tamimi. The U.S. charged Al-Tamimi in March 2017 with conspiring to harm U.S. citizens overseas in connection with a suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2001, NBC News reported. Several Americans died in the incident, including 15-year-old Malki Roth, whose parents have continually asked the U.S. government to extradite Al-Tamimi to the states to be prosecuted. “Most of the time, the people we’re trying to move or persuade don’t argue with us, in fact, I’d say they never argue with us. That’s the curse of our lives, they don’t argue and a lot of the time they don’t even speak with us, they don’t even allow us to be heard,” Malki’s father, Arnold Roth, told the DCNF Monday.”

Iran

The Wall Street Journal: Iranian Terror Comes To America

“The foiled kidnapping plot against activist and journalist Masih Alinejad, an Iranian-born U.S. citizen living in New York City, has sparked a wave of outrage. The Justice Department’s indictment and detailed court documents indicate the Islamic Republic’s significant investment in the plot. The most troublesome part of this case, however, has been the Biden administration’s weak public response, which invites more malign behavior from Tehran. Hundreds of dissidents have been threatened, kidnapped or assassinated since 1979, when the current regime rose to power in Iran. Since 2018, however, the Islamic Republic has carried out its campaign of terror with a new fervor. In 2019, Tehran lured, kidnapped and killed Ruhollah Zam, an Iranian dissident journalist residing in France. In July 2020, the Islamic Republic abducted Jamshid Sharmahd in Dubai and brought him to Iran, where he has been detained ever since. Mr. Sharmad is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. The regime also abducted Habib Chaab, an Iranian-Swedish political activist, in October 2020. Like other Iranian activists, the Brooklyn-based Ms. Alinejad has long faced threats for her opposition to the clerical regime.”

Iraq

Voice Of America: Iraqi PM Fires Security Officials Over IS-Claimed Bombing

“Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Khadhimi has fired security officials after 34 people were killed and over 50 others wounded, according to Iraqi media, in an explosion Monday night. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack which Iraqi security officials say was committed by a suicide bomber. A crowd of mostly women shoppers ran for cover amid screaming and yelling, following the explosion at a crowded clothing market in Baghdad's mostly Shi'ite Sadr City. It was the third such attack in Iraq this year. Another attack in Sadr City in January left around 30 dead. A group of young men dressed in black loaded coffins onto vehicles in preparation for burial Tuesday morning. A middle-aged woman dressed in black bewailed some of the young victims of the explosion. A young man with a yellow cap complained on social media that attacks on markets targeting civilians are all too common in Iraq before major religious holidays, like Eid al-Adha, which began Tuesday. He said that this kind of thing always happens to us before elections and before the Eids. Most of the victims, he points out, were women and children.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Afghan President Slams Taliban, Rockets Target Kabul Palace

“At least three rockets hit near the presidential palace on Tuesday shortly before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was to give an address to mark the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. There were no injuries and the rockets landed outside the heavily fortified palace grounds, said Mirwais Stanikzai, spokesman for the interior minister. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on its Amaq news channel. Police quickly fanned out across the area. One car parked on a nearby street was completely destroyed; the police said it was used as launching pad for the rockets. The palace is in the middle of a so-called Green Zone that is fortified with giant cement blast walls and barbed wire, and streets near the palace have long been closed off. The barrage came as the U.S. and NATO complete their final withdrawal from Afghanistan. Many Afghans are worried whether their war-ravaged country will fall deeper into chaos and violence as foreign forces withdraw and the Taliban gain more territory on the ground, having captured several districts and key border crossings with neighboring countries over the past weeks. The withdrawal is more than 95% complete and the final U.S. soldier will be gone by Aug. 31, President Joe Biden said in an address earlier this month.”

India

Yahoo News: Security Agencies Issue Alert Over Terrorist Attack Ahead Of Independence Day

“A high alert has been issued by the security agencies to Delhi Police on 20th July as Pak based terrorists are plotting to carry out an attack ahead of Independence Day in the national capital with the help of drones. Intelligence agencies are suspecting that Pakistan hands are involved in this attack and the forces are already on a high alert over any possible 'drone jihad' bid which may occur on 15th August. The security forces are sparing no efforts when it comes to surveillance, to ensure the conspiracy of the terrorists conks out. The first attack was reported on June 21 at an Indian Air Force (IAF) station in Jammu when two explosive-laden drones collided with the Jammu airbase, causing two detonations.”

Lebanon

The New York Times: Israel Briefly Shells Southern Lebanon After Militant Rocket Fire

“The Israeli Army fired several artillery rounds into southern Lebanon early Tuesday in a brief response to rockets fired into Israel hours earlier by militants in the neighboring nation. No injuries were reported on either side during the skirmish, since the projectiles largely fell in open areas. One rocket from Lebanon was intercepted by the Iron Dome Israeli missile defense system while a second fell without causing damage. The Lebanese Army later said it had foiled an attempt by militants to fire a third rocket. No faction in Lebanon claimed responsibility for the rockets, but an Israeli military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said officials believed the rockets had been fired by Palestinian militants based in Lebanon. The incident underscored the fragility of the situation on the Israeli-Lebanese border, where there are regular tensions between the Israeli military and Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Shia militia that holds sway across much of southern Lebanon and does not recognize Israeli sovereignty. There are also occasional attacks by Lebanon-based Palestinian militants. Lebanon’s economic crash, and the social instability it has unleashed, has led some to fear that the security situation on its southern border may become even more unpredictable.”

Nigeria

All Africa: Nigeria: Terror War - Troops Eliminate Several Boko Haram/ISWAP Terrorists In Borno

“The Nigerian Army said on Monday night that troops of 151 Task Force Battalion recently staged an ambush operation on an identified terrorists' crossing point along Banki Junction, Miyanti road to prevent movement of terrorists' logistics and replenishment noting that it was part of a concerted effort to ensure terrorists are cleared within their area of responsibility. At the ambush site, the vigilant troops came in contact with the unsuspecting terrorists and neutralised three BHTs, while others escaped with gunshot wounds. In a separate operation, troops of 151 Task Force Battalion (Bn) in 21 Special Brigade area of operational responsibility on 15 July 2021 arrested suspected members of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) who surrendered to troops along with their families, while fleeing their enclaves, following the continuous bombardment of their hideouts by troops of the Battalion. A statement by Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, Director of Army Public Relations said, “The escaping terrorists and their families were arrested at the outskirts of Aza and Bula Daloye villages in Bama Local Government Area of Borno state by troops of the Battalion on fighting patrol at Miyanti and Darajamel.”

Deutsche Welle: Nigeria: 100 Kidnapped Villagers Released By Bandits

“Nigerian authorities said they had managed to secure the release of 100 kidnapped villagers on Tuesday. The residents of Manawa in Nigeria's northwestern Zamfara State were held hostage by heavily armed gangs for 42 days. What did Nigerian authorities say? “The Zamfara State Police in collaboration with the State Ministry for Security and Home Affairs have successfully secured the unconditional release of the kidnapped victims,” Zamfara State Police spokesperson Muhammad Shehu told reporters on Tuesday. The gangs usually demand a ransom to release the captives, but in this case, the captives were freed “without giving any financial or material gain,” Shehu added. The police spokesperson said the villagers  “will be medically checked and debriefed” before returning to their families. The gangs operate in the Rugu Forest, which spans the Zamfara, Katsuna and Kadina states in Nigeria. The region is underpoliced, and authorities have struggled to root out the criminal activity. In addition to kidnapping, the bandits also engage in murder, rape and cattle raiding. The bandits recently managed to shoot down a Nigerian military plane flying over the region, but the pilot managed to safetly eject and avoid capture.”

Somalia

Yahoo News: Jihadists Issue Threat As Somalia Elections Loom

“Somalia's Al-Shabaab jihadists have warned politicians against taking part in elections due to kick off this month after months of deadlock and delays. The threat, in an audio message purportedly recorded by Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Umar Abu Ubaidah, underscores the security challenges facing the election process in the deeply unstable Horn of Africa country. Indirect parliamentary and presidential polls are due to open on July 25 with four days of voting for the upper house by state delegates. “We are sending... a warning to the (voting) delegations,” Ubaidah said in a rare message issued Monday to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha that was circulated on pro-Shabaab websites. “Don't get fooled by the empty promises... including the provision of money, and the promise that the voting will be secret. “Learn from those before you,” he said, in an apparent reference to traditional elders who took part in the last elections in 2016, some of whom were targeted and assassinated by Al-Shabaab fighters in the ensuing years. Ubaidah's whereabouts are not known, and it was not clear when the message was recorded. AFP could not independently confirm the identity of the voice. The Al-Qaeda-linked group has been fighting to overthrow the federal government since 2007 and frequently attacks government, security and civilian targets.”

Mali

Reuters: Mali Leader Says He Was Unharmed In 'Isolated Action' Knife Attack

“Interim Mali President Assimi Goita, a special forces colonel who orchestrated two coups in the last year, said he escaped unharmed after an assailant tried to stab him during prayers at a mosque in the capital Bamako on Tuesday. Security agents overpowered two men in the mosque and threw one into the back of a military pickup truck, video obtained by Reuters showed, as Goita, dressed in a sky blue embroidered robe, was ringed by bodyguards. The president's office said investigations were ongoing. It did not immediately advance a motive for the attack, which occurred during services marking the Muslim Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) holiday at Bamako's Grand Mosque. Mali, the theatre of French-supported operations against al Qaeda and Islamic State-linked insurgents for a decade, was thrown into political turmoil after a military junta led by Goita toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020. Goita served as vice-president to transitional leader Bah Ndaw until the latter's ouster in May. “Everything is fine, there is no problem. It's part of being a leader,” Goita told state television hours after the attack. “There are always people who are unhappy. There are people who will try to destabilise.”

Africa

Yahoo News: Three Soldiers, 'Dozens Of Terrorists' Killed In Burkina Fighting

“Three Burkina Faso soldiers and a militiaman were killed on Friday by highway bombs in the country's north, the army said, adding that “dozens of terrorists” had been killed by security forces the same day. The two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) hit a military vehicle and a motorbike near the town of Dablo as a joint force of army, police and gendarmes was returning from an operation, leaving “three soldiers killed and five wounded,” army headquarters said in a statement issued on Tuesday. Also Friday, army commandos “destroyed a terrorist base and neutralised (killed) dozens of terrorists” in the forests of Toulfe and Tougrebouli, also in the north, the army added. One civilian militiaman was killed and eight soldiers wounded, while the troops recovered weapons, ammunition and camping gear, the army said. Like neighbouring Mali and Niger, Burkina Faso has suffered repeated deadly jihadist attacks since 2015, especially in its north and east. More than 200 people, both civilians and military, have been killed in attacks using IEDs, according to an AFP tally. Jihadists believed to be affiliated to the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda have killed more than 1,500 people and forced over 1.3 million to flee their homes.”

United Kingdom

Evening Standard: Neo-Nazi Student To Be Sentenced For Terrorism And Hate Offences

“A neo-Nazi student who carved a swastika into his girlfriend’s buttock is to be sentenced for his leading role in an extreme right-wing group. Andrew Dymock, 24, the middle-class son of academics, told jurors “Thank you for killing me” after he was found guilty in June of 15 charges, including 12 terrorism-related offences. He will be sentenced by Judge Mark Dennis QC at the Old Bailey on Wednesday. The court heard that Dymock promoted the now-banned System Resistance Network (SRN) group, which aimed to “stir up a race war”, through a Twitter account and a website. He used online platforms to raise money for the organisation, which “preached zero-tolerance” to non-whites, Jewish and Muslim communities and described homosexuality as a “disease”. Dymock, who at the time was studying politics at Aberystwyth University in Wales, denied being behind the accounts, claiming he was set up by an ex-girlfriend, who had failed to recruit him to join banned terrorist group National Action (NA). Police found a picture on one of Dymock’s devices showing a swastika cut into the woman’s buttock and he told detectives in a January 2019 interview he had used his nail to scratch the symbol.”

Canada

CBC: Canadian Right-Wing Extremism Increased Online During The Pandemic

“Online activity by right-wing extremists in Canada rose last year during the pandemic, despite efforts by governments and social media companies to curb extremism and hate speech, according to a new report. The report also found that right-wing extremists in Canada are being influenced by their increasingly violent counterparts in the U.S. “This raises the concern that an emboldened and increasingly violent extreme right in the U.S. could help to inspire similar activity in Canada, as Canadian right-wing extremists look to their U.S. counterparts for inspiration,” wrote the authors of the new report from the U.K.-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue, set to be made public later this week. That extremism could rise as lockdown restrictions are eased, the report warns. “Given the possibility that the pandemic has introduced new audiences to extreme right-wing ideology,” says the report, “it is possible that when lockdowns are lifted, this may correlate to rates of extreme right activity that are higher than the pre-lockdown level.” The report charted an increase in extreme right-wing activity in 2020 compared to what the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found when it first looked at the problem in 2019.”

Southeast Asia

The Telegraph: Hong Kong Crackdown: Thousands Flee City Amid Surge In Terrorism Charges

“Early last week, Michael Mo nervously set off with just two suitcases to Hong Kong’s airport.  Fearing imminent arrest for his pro-democracy political views under Beijing’s sweeping National Security Law, the 35-year-old local politician had taken a snap decision to leave home forever and flee to London. He had altered his hairstyle and removed his glasses to disguise his regular appearance, but he was still on alert for plainclothes police officers right up until his flight took off. When he landed in Heathrow, Mr Mo claimed political asylum. The catalyst was a loyalty pledge deadline later this month that aims to weed out office holders with “unpatriotic” views. Those judged not loyal enough to the government could be ousted and forced to repay months of salary. Whether he took it or not, he was worried that, as with so many other people in the city’s fast-disappearing opposition movement, his past protest activities or his political beliefs would be used against him - and could land him in jail. More than 200 pro-democracy councillors elected following the 2019 protests have resigned ahead of an expected purge. “The most frightening fact is that they can get you in national security law-related investigations at all times,” he told The Telegraph from the London hotel where he is currently self-isolating.”

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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