Eye on Extremism: July 23, 2021

France 24: At Least A Dozen Civilians Killed In Central African Republic Attack, UN Says

“Thirteen civilians were killed in clashes north of Bangui, the capital of the perennially restive Central African Republic, the UN mission in the country said Thursday. Peacekeepers found “13 dead bodies in Bongboto”, about 300 kilometres (190 miles) north of Bangui, on Wednesday, MINUSCA spokesman lieutenant-colonel Abdoulaziz Fall told AFP. CAR is the second least-developed country in the world according to the UN and suffers from the aftermath of a brutal civil conflict that erupted in 2013. MINUSCA said it would do everything “to shed light on this sad incident” and bring the attackers to justice. The government has blamed the Coalition of Patriots for Change, created in December 2020 to try and topple President Faustin Archange Touadera, of being behind the attack.”

NBC News: U.S. Is Still Carrying Out Airstrikes Against Taliban In Afghanistan

“The U.S. military has conducted a half-dozen airstrikes against the Taliban in the past 30 days, including several since the symbolic end of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan with the departure ceremony for the U.S. commander last week, two defense officials said. The officials said the U.S. conducted two strikes overnight in Kandahar, targeting stolen military vehicles and equipment that was directly threatening the Afghan military. As the Taliban take over land, they have been collecting Afghan military vehicles and equipment left behind. Army Gen. Scott Miller stepped down as commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan on July 12 after three years. Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, took over control of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and has full responsibility for approving airstrikes. The officials said most of the recent strikes have been conducted by unmanned Predator drones that have flown in from the “across the horizon” locations — in other words, they fly in from outside Afghanistan. The officials said the U.S. will continue to conduct strikes against the Taliban in support of the Afghan National Security Forces until at least the end of August, when the U.S. military mission officially ends.”

United States

CNN: As The West Winds Down Its 'War On Terror,' Jihadists Are Filling The Vacuum, UN Warns

“As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the United Nations is warning that the threat from terror groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda is not only resilient, but in many places expanding. A report to the Security Council by the UN monitoring team charged with tracking worldwide jihadi threats, published Thursday, warns that these groups pose a growing threat in much of Africa. And both are entrenched in Afghanistan, from where al Qaeda plotted the 9/11 attacks. The UN report suggests a consistent pattern. Wherever pressure on jihadi terror groups is absent or negligible, they thrive. In Afghanistan, where the United States says it will complete its military withdrawal by August 31, the UN warns of a potential “further deterioration” in the security situation. In Somalia, the report says, US military withdrawal and the partial drawdown of the African Union Mission has left Somali special forces “struggling to contain” the al Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab. In Mali, where France is winding down its counterterrorism mission, the report says that al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists have consolidated their influence and are “increasingly claiming populated areas.” In Mozambique, the report says, “the absence of significant counter-terrorist measures” have transformed the ISIS affiliate in central Africa into a “major threat.”

Politico: Biden’s Domestic Terrorism Strategy Concerns Advocates

“Jessica Reznicek’s friends insist on one thing: She is not a terrorist. On election night 2016, she and fellow activist Ruby Montoya used coffee canisters stuffed with rags and motor oil to light fire to five pieces of machinery at a Dakota Access Pipeline construction site. The fires resulted in about $2.5 million of property damage, according to Grist. The women decided it wasn’t enough. So over the ensuing months, they studied welding. And starting in March 2017, they traveled through Iowa and South Dakota using oxy-acetylene torches to cut into empty valves along the pipeline. She and Montoya later publicly described what they had done. “[W]e went with our torches and protective gear on, and found numerous sites, feeling out the ‘vibe’ of each situation, and deciding to act then and there, often in broad daylight,” they said in a statement. “Trust your spirit, trust the signs.” The pair said they chose to go public because the company building the pipeline lied about what had temporarily stalled its progress. “If there are any regrets, it is that we did not act enough,” their statement concluded. “Please support and stand with us in this journey because we all need this pipeline stopped.”

Syria

France 24: Syria Army Shells Rebel Bastion, Killing Seven: Monitor

“The Syrian army shelled the Idlib region Thursday killing seven civilians, three of them children, in its third deadly bombardment of the rebel bastion in a week, a monitor said. Several people were seriously wounded in the morning bombardment of the village of Iblin, south of Idlib, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The army has stepped up its bombing of the northwestern enclave since Saturday when President Bashar al-Assad took the oath of office for a new term vowing to make “liberating those parts of the homeland that still need to be” one of his top priorities. The same day strikes on the Idlib villages of Sarja and Ehsin killed 14 civilians, seven of them children. Two days earlier shelling of Idlib and the town of Fuaa further north killed nine civilians, three of them children, the Observatory said. Controlled by an alliance dominated by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate, the Idlib region is home to nearly three million people, two-thirds of them displaced from other parts of the country. A March 2020 deal brokered by the rival sides' main foreign backers Russia and Turkey has eased fighting on the front line but the region remains in the government's sights. Elsewhere in the country, Kurdish-led forces control a large swathe of the east after expelling the Islamic State group from the region.”

Iraq

The Wall Street Journal: U.S., Iraq To Agree That Combat Troops Should Leave By End Of 2021

“Top Iraqi and U.S. officials plan to issue a statement calling for U.S. combat troops to leave Iraq by year-end, both nations’ officials said, but would reaffirm the need for a U.S. military presence to help Iraqi forces in their fight against Islamic State. “We don’t need any more fighters because we have those,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein told The Wall Street Journal. “What do we need? We need cooperation in the field of intelligence. We need help with training. We need troops to help us in the air.” The statement is to be issued in connection with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s visit to Washington on Monday, when he will meet with President Biden. The purpose of the statement, current and former officials said, is to enable the Iraqi leader to blunt the political pressure from hard-line Shiite factions who want all of the approximately 2,500 American troops in the country to depart, while maintaining U.S. support for Iraqi security forces. One U.S. official said that Washington plans to meet the terms of the statement mainly by redefining the role of some of the U.S. forces in the country instead of reducing the U.S. presence. “It is not really a numerical adjustment but rather a functional clarification of what the force would be doing consistent with our strategic priorities,” a U.S. official said.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: ISIS Attack Kills Two Soldiers In Iraq's Salahuddin Province

“Two Iraqi soldiers have been killed and three others injured in an ISIS attack in Iraq’s northern province of Salahuddin, a police officer said on Wednesday. “Unidentified gunmen believed to be affiliated with the ISIS terror group attacked the headquarters of the 66th Army Brigade in the Mutaibija area in the northern part of the province,” the source said. He added that reinforcements were dispatched to the site as ISIS members fled the area. Iraq declared victory over ISIS in 2017, however, the group continues to launch attacks against army and PMF positions, leaving casualties and causing material damages. According to security experts, ISIS remains active in Diyala, Kirkuk, and Salahuddin. Two days ago, an attack took place in a popular market in Sadr City, causing more than 100 deaths and injuries. The Iraqi authorities held the group responsible for the attack.”

Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Expands Efforts To Relocate Afghans At Risk Of Taliban Vengeance

“The U.S. military is preparing to house as many as 35,000 Afghan interpreters and family members at two American bases, in Kuwait and in Qatar, in an expanding effort to aid those who face Taliban retribution for helping American forces, U.S. officials said. Plans are under way to build temporary housing and other facilities at Camp As Sayliyah in Qatar and Camp Buehring in Kuwait that would be designed to house the interpreters for at least 18 months. Thousands of welcome packages, containing health and comfort items and packaged military meals that don’t contain pork, to accommodate Muslim dietary requirements, are being positioned at the bases, officials said. The plans are to accommodate the interpreters and their families as they await processing for American visas to be permanently resettled in the U.S. Construction and other preparations at the two bases are expected to cost the U.S. government several hundred million dollars, officials said. The plans build on similar preparations elsewhere. A first group of about 2,500 Afghan interpreters and their families are expected to arrive at Fort Lee, Va. in coming days, officials said. Those people, who include 750 applicants and family members, will stay at Fort Lee for a week to 10 days before being resettled in the U.S. permanently, officials said.”

Somalia

All Africa: Al-Shabaab Threatens To Disrupt Upcoming Somali Elections

“Somali militant group Al-Shabaab has threatened to attack electoral delegates who will be choosing lawmakers in parliamentary elections. The leader of the group, Ahmed Abu Ubaidah, said they are opposed to the poll process and threatened the electoral delegates. Ubaidah urged delegates to reconsider their decision to participate in this year's election, adding that those who defy Al-Shabaab will not be safe.  Abdisalam Gulaid, the former deputy director of Somali Intelligence Agency NISA, said this latest threat is aimed to create climate of fear among those involved in the polls. He said the new threats should not be taken lightly, stressing that there is a need for a coordinated response. The polls begin on July 25, 2021 with Somalia's influential clans electing 54 members of the upper house of parliament. Meanwhile, The Pentagon has confirmed that U.S. forces were behind the single strike near Galkayo, about 580 kilometers north of the capital of Mogadishu. The airstrike targeting the militant group, is the first such strike in six months, and the first carried out since U.S. President Joe Biden took office. The U.S. carried out 63 airstrikes against Al-Shabaab in 2019 and 53 airstrikes in 2020.”

Mali

Reuters: French Army Says It Has Killed Two 'Terrorists' In Mali

“The French army has killed two members of the EIGS “terrorist” group, which France says has links to Islamic State, in Mali, French armed forces minister Florence Parly said on Thursday. Parly's statement said the operation had taken place overnight in the Menaka region in co-ordination with the United States army. “This latest operation highlights our determination to continue the fight against armed terrorist organisations, working alongside our partners in the Sahel and in co-ordination with our European and American allies,” the statement said. France is in the process of re-shaping its military presence in West Africa's Sahel region, which includes Mali, where France has been on the front line in the fight against Islamist militia groups. Mali has been thrown into political turmoil since a military junta toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2020.”

Africa

Al Jazeera: Tanzanian Opposition Leader To Face ‘Terrorism’ Charges: Party

“Tanzania’s main opposition party has said that its leader and other members will be charged with “terrorism” after being arrested in a sweeping midnight raid that has drawn international concern. Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe and 15 other members were rounded up during the night on Wednesday in a crackdown denounced as a throwback to the oppressive rule of the country’s late leader. Police searched Mbowe’s house in Dar es Salaam and seized his laptop and other devices from family members before transferring the Chadema chairman to the city’s central prison, the party said on Thursday. “We have received shocking information that Mbowe will be jointly charged with terrorism alongside the other suspects being held in prison in Dar es Salaam jail,” it said on Twitter. Mbowe and the other Chadema officials were arrested in the Lake Victoria port city of Mwanza ahead of a planned public forum to demand constitutional reform. The region’s police commander Ramadhan Ngh’anzi said Mbowe would later be returned to Mwanza to join the others who were arrested for organising the “banned” meeting. “For now, he is safe in the central police station in Dar es Salaam,” he told reporters.”

United Kingdom

Yahoo News: Hateful Neo-Nazi Who Wanted To ‘Purge Gays For The Greater Good’ Jailed For Terrorism

“Dymock, 24, promoted a banned right-wing group called System Resistance Network (SRN) through Twitter and on a separate website while studying at Aberystwyth University, the Old Bailey court heard in June. In 2017, Andrew Dymock wrote an article that said gay people “are simply degenerate and must be purged from society for the greater good”. The SRN group also “preached zero-tolerance” of non-white, Jewish and Muslim communities. Dymock was found guilty by a jury in June on 15 terror and hate charges. He was sentenced to seven years in prison by Judge Mark Dennis QC on Wednesday (21 July), with an additional three years on extended licence. The judge said he believed Dymock posed a “significant risk of serious harm to the public”, BBC News reports. “It is clear you were a leader and not a follower,” Judge Dennis said. He said Andrew Dymock was “wholly misguided” despite the fact that he is both “intelligent” and “well-read”, adding that he had the advantage of a “good education and family upbringing”. Despite these privileges, Dymock “chose at the age of 20, to take the path of dreadful bigotry,” the judge said.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: German Court Sentences IS Widow Over Yazidi Slaves

“A German court on Thursday sentenced the woman, Omaima A., to additional jail time for using slave women to clean her home. The 37-year-old, already convicted of belonging to the “Islamic State” (IS) militant group, had already admitted the offense, the DPA news agency reported. The court confirmed to DW that a previous sentence of three and a half years would be extended to four years in total. The defendant told the court that, at the beginning of 2016, she had two Yazidi slave girls clean her living quarters. Omaima A., the widow of former rapper and IS fighter Denis Cuspert, said she got in contact with the girls through a friend but admitted it was clear to her they were there against their will. “I showed the place to the two slave girls and told them which areas they should clean,” she said at the time. The German-Tunisian woman, who was born in Hamburg, distanced herself from IS and said she regretted her misconduct. She had apologized to the two women, one of whom was a plaintiff in the trial. The woman had already been convicted of aiding and abetting slavery for keeping watch over another enslaved Yazidi girl, a 13-year-old, for several hours. The admission of guilt to aiding and abetting slavery was by agreement earlier in the process.”

Europe

CNN: A Far-Right Extremist Killed 77 People In Norway. A Decade On, 'The Hatred Is Still Out There' But Attacker's Influence Is Seen As Low

“…The Counter Extremism Project (CEP), an NGO that combats extremist groups, said in a statement Thursday that survivors of Breivik's attacks had voiced concern regarding his “status as an inspirational figure among far-right extremists.” “[This status] underlines the need for greater action to target the dissemination of known extremist propaganda with clear links to violence on online platforms,” said David Ibsen, CEP executive director. “The continued presence of far-right views online, along with greater exposure to extremist content over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, is of particular concern.” According to Ravndal, research indicates that within Norway the far right has not gained much appeal overall since the attacks and has been unable to turn out supporters in any numbers on the streets. “Of course in Norway, as everywhere else, online activity has grown over these 10 years,” he said. “But whether that reflects a substantial increase of far-right activity or simply mirrors the growth of social media on the internet, that's very difficult to say.” On that quiet summer day in 2011, Breivik drove a van packed with a homemade fertilizer bomb into Oslo and parked it outside a government office.”

Vice: The Rise And Fall Of Europe’s Most Influential Far-Right Youth Movement

“In October 2012, dozens of members of an obscure far-right group stormed the site of a mosque under construction in the western French city of Poitiers. In an act of provocation that would draw outrage from across the political spectrum, the activists draped a huge banner from the roof, that read “732” – the year an invading Muslim army had been repelled not far from the city. If the reference was lost on observers, the group’s website made their demands explicit: “We do not want more immigration from outside Europe, or new mosque construction on French soil.” The group was Génération Identitaire, or Generation Identity, and the mosque occupation was just the first of many attention-grabbing stunts that would become the movement’s stock-in-trade as it attempted to detoxify far-right politics and inject its extremist ideology into the political mainstream. In the subsequent years, the pan-European group’s activities would propel it to become one of the global far-right’s most influential movements, inspiring extremists – including terrorists – and reshaping far-right activism across the world, before eventually being banned and de-platformed in its country of origin earlier this year.”

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