Eye on Extremism: July 25, 2022

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Blacklists Former Paraguayan President Due To Alleged Corruption, Terrorism Ties

“The U.S. has blacklisted former Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes for his role in “significant corruption,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday, as Washington singled out the former powerful leader of the landlocked South American country. The designation will prevent Mr. Cartes, who ruled Paraguay from 2013 to 2018, from entering the U.S., Mr. Blinken said in a statement. “Former President Cartes obstructed a major international investigation into transnational crime in order to protect himself and his criminal associate from potential prosecution and political damage,” Mr. Blinken said. Mr. Cartes also has ties to “foreign terrorist organizations and other U.S.-designated entities which undermines the security of the United States,” Mr. Blinken said without providing more details. Two Paraguayan officials familiar with the matter said the U.S. took steps against Mr. Cartes after revelations that an aircraft formerly owned by an Iranian carrier that is blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury for alleged arms trafficking had transported cigarettes from a company owned by the former president. Mr. Cartes’s lawyer, Pedro Ovelar, said the former president wouldn’t provide further comments after issuing a statement on Twitter denying wrongdoing. He hasn’t been charged.”

Reuters: Al Qaeda Affiliate Claims Attack On Mali's Main Military Base

“Al Qaeda's affiliate in Mali claimed responsibility on Saturday for an attack on the country's main military base, which it said was a response to governmental collaboration with Russian mercenaries. Friday's raid on the Kati base 15 km (10 miles) outside the capital Bamako killed at least one soldier and represented the first time in Mali's decade-long insurgency that Islamist militants have hit a military camp so close to Bamako. The raid, carried out using two car bombs, also wounded six people, while seven assailants were killed and eight arrested, Mali's military said. The media unit for al Qaeda's local affiliate, Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), said in a statement its Katiba Macina branch had carried out the attack, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist statements. The Malian military had blamed Katiba Macina for the attack in a statement on Friday. The JNIM statement said a Malian fighter had detonated a car bomb at the base's gate and a fighter from Burkina Faso detonated another inside the base, allowing additional fighters to enter the camp. It justified the attack by citing the presence in Mali of mercenaries from Russia's Wagner Group, which began supplying hundreds of fighters last year to support the Malian military and has since been accused by human rights groups and local residents of participating in massacres of civilians.”

United States

NPR: Given All The Threats To The U.S., How Significant A Threat Is ISIS Right Now?

“NPR's Leila Fadel talks to Seth Jones at the Center for Strategic and International Studies about the threat from ISIS, and U.S. military operations that killed or captured some of its leaders. LEILA FADEL, HOST: The U.S. military confirmed the death of an ISIS leader in Syria last week. A drone strike killed Maher al-Agal. U.S. Central Command called him one of the top five ISIS leaders worldwide. This mission was the third U.S. counterterrorism operation in Syria in about a month. So how significant a threat is ISIS right now? I asked Seth Jones. He's a senior vice president and director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. His team keeps a database of groups that pose active threats to the U.S. Right now, they've got white supremacists and anti-government militias at the top and groups like ISIS at the bottom. SETH JONES: I think, last year, there were three or 4% of the terrorist plots or attacks were coming from Salafi jihadist-inspired organizations like the Islamic State. So that threat has significantly declined in the last few years. FADEL: You know, a statement from the White House said the latest in a series of U.S. military operations significantly degraded the ability of ISIS to operate. And I just want to ask you if that's true. Did it?”

CBS News: Terror Victims Feel Left Out After White House Order On Billions Of Dollars In Frozen Afghan Funds

“In 2015, with bipartisan support, Congress created a fund to compensate all terrorism victims with final judgments against state sponsors of terrorism. The fund is funded through fines and penalties, and it has allocated more than $3 billion in claims. After the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan and froze $7 billion in assets from that country's central bank, some families expected at least some of the money would go to the Victim Compensation Fund. Among them is 77-year-old Bob Essington, who in 1983 sustained permanent injuries when a suicide bomber used a car bomb to destroy the U.S. Embassy in Beirut — killing 63 people. The explosive force compressed Essington's spine, permanently impairing his mobility. “I have a stimulator implanted in my hip with 14 plates on my spine. If I shut it off, I go into instant pain. And there's nothing to stop the pain,” he told CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge. Essington and other families were surprised by President Biden's order to earmark $3.5 billion to support “the urgent needs of the people of Afghanistan.” The remaining $3.5 billion was left for a New York court to decide compensation, with a small group of 9/11 families who have brought claims against the Taliban at the head of the line for the funds.”

Mass Live: Christopher Hood, Leader Of Nationalist Social Club NSC-131 That Marched In Boston On Saturday, Aspired To Be A Police Officer

“The 23-year-old leader of the Nationalist Social Club who was arrested during a demonstration against a drag queen story hour in Jamaica Plain on Saturday aspired to be a police officer when attending high school and has been linked to white supremacist organizations for nearly five years. Christopher Hood of Pepperell founded NSC-131 in 2019, according to the Anti-Defamation League. NSC-131 began to capture mainstream media and police attention after members participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. NSC stands for “Nationalist Social Club,” the ADL said, and 131 is the alphanumeric code for ACA, or Anti-Communist Action. The nonprofit Counter Extremism Project, however, describes NSC-131 as a “leaderless, decentralized organization” and lists Hood as its “alleged founder.” A group of about 20 men wearing black face coverings bearing the number 131 and holding a banner that read, “Pedo scum off our streets,” turned up to protest the drag queen story hour event at the Loring Greenough House in Boston on Saturday. Hood was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace after allegedly getting into a fight with a counter protester. Hood, who previously lived in Malden, graduated from Henry Owen High School, a Chelsea school run by the Shore Educational Collaborative for behaviorally and academically challenged students.”

Syria

Fox News: Erdogan’s Threats Of Invading Syria Could Lead To Islamic State Resurgence

“Turkey’s strongman President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan to purge the U.S.-allied Kurdish force from northern Syria could create an Act 2 for the Islamic State terrorist movement to build a new caliphate, noted experts on the jihadi organization and Turkish power politics. Erdogan had some harsh words on Wednesday against the U.S. He told the Turkish government-controlled news outlet Anadolu Agency: “Türkiye expects [a withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syria] this as well because it is America that feeds the terrorist groups there,” in a reference to the U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish military organization—The People’s Defense Units (YPG).  Military cooperation between U.S. armed forces and the YPG was the driving force to eradicate the Islamic State (ISIS) in sections of northern Syria in 2019. The stakes are high for the Biden administration because Kurdish forces control roughly two dozen prisons in northeastern Syria that hold approximately 10,000 male Islamic State members. Erdogan views the YPG as being aligned with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)—an independence movement in southeastern Turkey that has been designated a terrorist entity by Turkey.”

Turkey

Reuters: Turkey Summons Swedish Charges D'affaires Over 'Terrorist Propaganda' In Stockholm - Sources

“Turkish foreign ministry summoned the Swedish charges d'affaires in Ankara to convey its “strong reaction” to what it called “terrorist propaganda” during a Kurdish group's protest in Stockholm, diplomatic sources said. Finland and Sweden have applied for NATO membership in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but were faced with opposition from Turkey, which accused them of supporting groups it deems terrorists. The three countries signed an accord last month to lift Ankara's veto in exchange for promises on counter-terrorism and arms exports.”

Yemen

Associated Press: UN Envoy Condemns Yemen Attack That Killed Child, Wounded 10

“The U.N. envoy for Yemen on Sunday condemned suspected rebel shelling of a residential neighborhood in the southwestern city of Taiz the previous day that killed at least one child and wounded 10. Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city and the capital of the province by the same name, has been under blockade since 2016, imposed by the Houthi rebels, who are waging war against the country’s internationally recognized government, backed by a Saudi-led coalition. The Houthis have rejected two U.N. proposals to end their blockade. A truce between the waring sides that initially took effect in April and was extended in June has called for the reopening of the roads around Taiz and elsewhere in Yemen. According to Fathi al-Saqqaf, an eyewitness, a group of children were playing in an open area in Taiz’s neighborhood of Zaid al-Moshki when the attack took place on Saturday. A house was also damaged in the shelling, the eyewitness said. Moammar al-Iryani, information minister of the internationally recognized government, said one of the wounded children died on Sunday. He blamed the Houthis for the attack, which came amid U.N. efforts to have the truce extended again in August. Hans Grundberg, the U.N. envoy, said he was “especially alarmed” by the attack.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Gunmen Shoot, Wound Hamas Official In West Bank

“Palestinian police said unknown assailants on Friday shot and wounded an official affiliated with Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers in the occupied West Bank. Nasser al-Shaer, who served as deputy Hamas prime minister for a year and a half after the group won the last Palestinian elections in 2006, was admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds to his legs. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the shooting and ordered an investigation. He also phoned al-Shaer and wished him a speedy recovery, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa. Hamas, which in 2007 routed pro-Abbas forces in the Gaza Strip, denounced the shooting as an “assassination attempt,” calling ion its rival Fatah movement to stop inciting against Hamas. Since 2007, when Hamas seized power in the coastal strip, Gaza has remained under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. Repeated efforts to reconcile Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, which holds sway in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have failed. Al-Shaer also works as an academic at An-Najah University in Nablus city.”

The Jerusalem Post: Terrorist Who Ran Over IDF Soldiers In 2018 Convicted

“A terrorist who ran over and killed two IDF soldiers and seriously injured two other soldiers in 2018 was convicted on charges of murder and two counts of attempted murder on Sunday in the Samaria Military Court. The terrorist had claimed that the incident was a car accident and not an intentional attack. What happened in 2018? On March 16, 2018, IDF soldiers Capt. Ziv Daus, 21, and Sgt. Netanel Kahalani, 20, were killed when the terrorist rammed into them near a pillbox post near the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan. According to the IDF, the terrorist drove past the soldiers before returning and driving towards them at 70 kilometers per hour until he hit them. He had served time in prison in the past for previous security violations. The terrorist will be sentenced on September 11.”

Nigeria

Africanews: Gunmen Attack Villages, Kill 17 Including 5 Police Officers In Northwest Nigeria

“17 people including 5 police officers were killed in an attack by armed men in the Katsina province, North-west Nigeria, police and local representative confirmed Thursday. Forests in the northwestern part of the country have proven hideouts for criminals locally known as bandits who attack, kill, kidnap villagers and steal livestock. Wednesday evening, some 300 bandits riding bikes attacked a police station near the Gatakawa village, which is located in the Kankara district. They killed 5 officers according to Gambo Isah, the spokesperson of the local police. “We lost 5 police officers [...] they were battling to prevent the bandits from carrying an attack in the Gatakawa village”, Isah said. Moreover, at least 9 people were killed on Tuesday and Wednesday in other attacks carried seemingly by the same bandits group in the Faskari village, a local figure said. “4 villages were attacked at a total of 9 people were killed, 6 people from the Ruwan Goduya village died”, Musa Ado said. “One person was killed in each of the 3 villages that were attacked, and there, the bandits stole cattle and other valuable belongings”, the local authority added. Bandits have carry more and more attacks in the Katsina state, coming from the neighboring Zamfara state where their main “base” is located.”

The Telegraph: Nigeria Could Ban Motorbikes In Bid To Stop Terrorist Raids

“Nigeria is mulling a nationwide ban on motorbikes in a last-ditch attempt to crackdown on terrorists who continue to run amok in several parts of the country. The government said the mode of transport was being used by armed jihadists to raid villages and towns across northern Nigeria, killing innocent civilians and taking hostages. It will also consider a ban on mining which is being used to illegally finance terrorist groups such as Boko Haram. “Placing a ban on the use of motorcycles and mining activities will cut the supply of logistics to the terrorists,” said Abubakar Malami, the minister of justice. “This will be done in the national interest”. Motorbikes are common in Africa’s most populous country – it is estimated that over 20 per cent of the 200 million population has a bike. The controversial move was met with fierce criticism from opponents who believe that a blanket ban on motorbikes will stifle economic activity in areas that do not face a serious jihadist threat. “If you ban the use of motorbikes in such areas - areas prone to terrorist attacks - one can understand it but if you put a blanket or overall ban in the country, I think it’s going to cause a lot of socio-economic problems,” said Mike Ejiofor, a former director of State Security Services.”

Premium Times Nigeria: Train Attack: Terrorist In New Video Claims To Be Boko Haram Member Who Escaped From Kuje Prison

“One of the Boko Haram members who escaped from the Kuje correctional facility in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, appeared in the latest video of hostages of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack. The terrorists who took the passengers from the train earlier released a video showing the male hostages being beaten with cudgels as the hostages cried and called on the government to rescue them. The escapee who did not state his name was among the three terrorists who posed on camera in the new video speaking ill of the Nigerian government and the victims of the train attack. The man also threatened to kidnap the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai. “Let the government know I am one of the Kuje prison escapers, I am here, God has rescued me, I am now once again bearing arm, we are going to destroy this country, come and follow us, we will not change our stands. “We are going to bring (kidnap) governor Nasir El-Rufai into this forest and belittle him the way we do to these people (Victims of the train attack). “You people know me you declare me wanted to the world, me too, I have declared you (government officials) wanted, I will kill you,” the terrorist who was carrying an assault weapon said.”

Somalia

Voice Of America: Somalia's Al-Shabab Militants Launch Attack In Ethiopia; Heavy Casualties Reported

“Al-Shabab militants from Somalia launched a cross-border attack into Ethiopia’s Somali region Thursday, triggering gunbattles with Ethiopia’s paramilitary Liyu police that caused an unknown number of casualties. This is believed to be the first time al-Shabab has launched an attack in Ethiopia. Somali military sources and an official from the Liyu police tell VOA that dozens of al-Shabab fighters crossed into the Afdher zone of Ethiopia’s Somali region late Thursday. The Liyu police official said al-Shabab attacked and took control of several of their positions. He said all positions have since been recaptured, with police suffering heavy casualties. The official refused to give a number for al-Shabab casualties but Somali military officials in Bakool, a region that borders Ethiopia, tell VOA at least 87 al-Shabab militants were killed in the fighting. Al-Shabab has not commented on Thursday’s fighting. The group acknowledged attacking the Somali border towns of Washaaqom, Aato and Yeet on Wednesday, where Liyu police are known to be present. It said it captured Aato and Yeet. Why the Islamist militant group launched the attacks is not clear. But, security experts believe the group may be trying to show it is still dangerous, and may also believe that Ethiopian forces have been weakened by the Tigray conflict.”

Africa

Bloomberg: Islamic State Groups Use South Africa To Channel Funds, UN Says

“Islamic State affiliates are getting financial backing from supporters in South Africa, according to a United Nations Security Council report. The document, published this week, said Ugandans and Kenyans generate wealth in countries including South Africa and launder the proceeds to a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo that’s sworn allegiance to Islamic State. The Allied Democratic Forces, as the group is known, also receives funding from Ugandan business owners, it said. The ability of Islamic State’s leadership to direct and maintain control over funding flows to global affiliates remains resilient, the report cites member states as saying. While the group’s strength has been greatly diminished in Iraq and Syria, where it once held large swathes of territory, its propaganda focus has shifted to groups that have pledged allegiance, including those in Afghanistan and Africa. In Nigeria, the DRC and Mozambique, affiliates have been wreaking havoc. IS leadership directs transactions involving global affiliates, and recipients include its branch in Afghanistan, according to the report. Funding to African affiliates goes through the group’s office in Somalia. “One member state highlighted the emerging importance of South Africa in facilitating transfers of funds” from IS leadership to affiliates on the continent, the UN said.”

United Kingdom

The National: UK And US Sign Data Access Pact To Share Social Media And Phone Data To Tackle Terrorism

“The UK and US have signed a data access agreement to share social media and phone information to tackle major crimes, including terrorism. The new agreement will come into force in October and will allow either nation to immediately access phone and social media data to help in major investigations, Britain's Home Office said. The Data Access Agreement (DAA) will be the first of its kind, allowing each country’s investigators to gain better access to vital data to combat serious crime. It will allow companies under US jurisdiction to share information which under American law they are not presently allowed to do. “The DAA will transform the ability of UK law enforcement to promptly and efficiently access data that is vital to helping keep people safe,” the Home Office said. “When a UK law enforcement agency is trying to prevent, detect, investigate or prosecute a serious crime, the UK law allows them to seek data relevant to the particular crime. In the case of data held by telecommunications operators, this could include information such as pictures or messages.” Many of the popular telecommunications services, such as social media platforms and messaging services, operate within US jurisdiction, the Home Office said.”

The National: Forged UK Passports 'Sold Online For £3,500

“…Dr Hans-Jakob Schindler, at the Counter Extremism Project, said: “Fraudulent identity documents and passports continue to present a serious security challenge.” The latest scam, directed from Albania, was first reported by the Daily Mail which said EU passports that would beat UK and EU border control were also available for £2,000. Pictures of Queen Elizabeth II and Buckingham Palace are used to entice buyers into the illegal sales. Sites selling fake passports also show what appear to be other people successfully using them, including one woman who flew into the UK on what appears to be a forged Slovenian passport. Videos show a fake UK passport being produced. One claims: “English passport with super-high quality chips and data that shows up in the system.” UK passports are among the world’s most widely accepted. EU passports are similarly trusted and inside the bloc, national borders are largely free of security controls. Dr Schindler explained how the forgeries can be used. “These facilitate the movement of people, vehicles, money and materiel across borders and through inspection points,” he said. “As such, they are invaluable to criminal and terrorist networks alike and pose a serious security risk to the UK. Criminals and terrorists use fraudulent passports to circumvent border checkpoints, allowing them to travel around or even leave and re-enter the UK undetected and untraced. “Fake passports also enable criminals and terrorists to live completely hidden under false identities and fraudulently get a job or open a bank account. It is vital that the trade of stolen passports is halted to protect British citizens from those who might want to enter the country with sinister intentions.’”

Europe

The Independent: Lisa Smith: Former Irish Soldier Jailed For Isis Membership

“A former Irish soldier has been jailed for being a member of Isis. Lisa Smith, 40, was sentenced to 15 months behind bars at a court in Dublin on Friday after she was convicted earlier this year of joining the Islamist terror group. The former Defence Forces member was cleared in May of a separate charge of financing terrorism after a nine-week trial at Dublin’s non-jury Special Criminal Court. Smith, a convert to Islam, went to Syria in 2015 after terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on Muslims to travel to the country. Judge Tony Hunt said the court considered the reports submitted to him and the time Smith had spent in camps in Syria. Justice Hunt told the court: “She may have been easily led but then displayed characteristics of resilience: the rejection of her family, travelling to Syria and remaining there to the bitter end.” He also said her focus was now on her daughter. “It appears the likelihood of reoffending is low,” the judge told the court. He added that the panel of judges accepted that life in the Syrian camps was “arduous” and the “equivalent” of being in prison. He said the judges had given a “substantial” discount off the sentence due to Smith's time in detention. After “balancing all factors” Smith was sentenced to 15 months in prison.”

AFP: Non, Ces Hommes Couverts De Tatouages Nazis En Croatie Ne Sont Pas Des Ukrainiens

“…Le Southern Poverty Law Center, basé aux États-Unis, qui surveille les groupes extrémistes, le définit comme "une obscure coalition internationale de gangs skinheads racistes". Selon le Counter Extremism Project, "le groupe promeut l'idéologie du pouvoir blanc par la prolifération de festivals de musique et d'enregistrements.’ D'après un message publié sur le groupe Telegram "Blood and Honour Hungary" le 3 juillet 2022, un concert avait été organisé la veille en Croatie avec trois groupes, dont l'un portait un nom hongrois : Fehér Törvény ("Loi blanche"). Cela correspond aux informations de la police selon lesquelles les deux hommes n'ont pas été vus sur la plage le 15 juillet, mais "dix jours plus tôt". Des messages antérieurs publiés sur le groupe Telegram montrent que l'événement a lieu annuellement en Croatie.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On August 13, 2017, suspected al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) gunmen opened fire on a Turkish restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 19 people were killed and 22 others were wounded.    

View Archive

CEP on Twitter