Eye on Extremism: July 27, 2020

Pulse Nigeria: U.S. Condemns Execution Of Humanitarian Workers By Boko Haram Terrorists

“The U.S. Government has condemned the killings of five humanitarian aid workers by Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria’s North-East. The Public Affairs Department of the U.S Embassy in Abuja made the condemnation while commiserating with the victims families in a statement on Thursday. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Boko Haram terrorists has on Wednesday released a 35-minute video as they executed five humanitarian workers abducted about a month ago along Maiduguri/Monguno road. They killed the aid workers after a failed negotiation in which they demanded 500,000 dollars for their release. “We are deeply saddened by the execution of five humanitarian workers in Nigeria’s Northeast. “This comes against the backdrop of the deteriorating conditions for millions of Nigeria. “These great individuals dedicated their lives to easing human sufferings. “We hope that their families and colleagues can take comfort in their selfless sacrifice on behalf of others. “We will remember their dedication to others.” The executed persons includes; staff of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Action Against Hunger, Rich International, International Rescue Committee, and a private security guard.”

Euronews: The Number Of Prisoners Jailed In Europe On Terrorism Charges At 20-Year High, Says Report

“More people are in jail on terrorism-related offences in Europe than at any point in the last two decades, a study has found. The report, published by the International Center for the Study of Radicalization (ICSR), says there are currently over 1,400 individuals held on terrorism-related charges across 10 European countries. France is detaining most of them, 549. Spain follows with 329 people jailed, while 238 are detained in the UK and 136 in Belgium Other countries mentioned in the report are Sweden (53 prisoners), Netherlands (36), Norway (34), Greece (around 20) and Norway (19). The size of the terrorism-linked prison population jumps to more than 3,000 if we also take into account those being “monitored for signs of their radicalisation”. Jihadists account for 82% of the prisoners, while far-right supporters make up almost 7%. Another 10%, classified as “other”, is made of members of the now-disbanded Basque separatist group ETA, and members of Kurdish groups, like the PKK, or individuals not following a specific ideology. Less than 1% are categorised as left-wing/anarchists, most of whom are detained in Greece. The study warns about the radicalisation of people in prison.”

The Hindu: Pakistanis Head Terror Groups ISIL-K, AQIS, TTP; Not Yet Blacklisted, Says UN Report

“The report said that the group reportedly has between 150 and 200 members from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Pakistan. Pakistani nationals remain at the leadership levels in terror groups such as al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant-Khorasan and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and many of them are yet to be blacklisted, according to a UN report. The 26th report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team concerning ISIL, al-Qaida and associated individuals and entities said that in April and May, the Afghan special forces conducted a series of countrywide operations and arrested the head of the ISIL-K Aslam Farooqi (also known as Abdullah Orokzai) and his predecessor Zia ul-Haq (also known as Abu Omar Khorasani) and others. Farooqi, who hails from Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is the mastermind behind the deadly terror attack on a prominent gurudwara in Kabul in March that killed 25 Sikhs. He is not blacklisted by the UN Security Council’s 1267 al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee. Similarly, Haq is also a Pakistani national and has not been blacklisted yet.”

United States

Voice Of America: US Woman Arrested, Accused Of Trying To Provide Support To Al-Qaida

“An American woman accused of attempting to provide material support to the al-Qaida terror group was arrested last week in the U.S. city of Phoenix, in the southwestern state of Arizona. Jill Marie Jones of Chandler, Arizona, was arrested Wednesday at the Phoenix airport before she could travel to join al-Qaida, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement Friday. According to a criminal complaint filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Jones was in communication with two FBI undercover agents, one of whom she believed to be a member of al-Qaida. During her conversations with the purported al-Qaida member, Jones agreed to send him money to buy scopes for rifles that would be used by al-Qaida to kill American soldiers. In May, Jones gave the purported al-Qaida member $500 using a prepaid gift card for the purpose, the FBI complaint said. “Jones purchased tickets to fly overseas to join al-Qaida in Afghanistan, but due to airport closures, she changed her flights to go to Turkey instead,” the Justice Department statement said, adding that “Jones planned to then travel on to Syria.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Parents Of James Foley, Other Americans Killed By ISIS, Call For Accused Terrorists To Face Trial In U.S.

“The parents of executed journalist James Foley this week joined the families of three other Americans killed by ISIS in calling for U.S.-based trials of the terrorists accused in their deaths. Their opinion piece in the Washington Post, published Thursday, urged that two members of the ISIS terror cell known as the “Beatles,” currently held in U.S. custody in Iraq, be brought to the U.S. to face prosecution. “Like any grieving relatives, we want to know the full truth about what happened to our loved ones, and we want to see our children’s murderers held accountable,” the families wrote. “These things can happen only if the suspects are put on trial before a jury in an American court of law.” Foley, a 1996 graduate of Marquette University, was kidnapped in 2012 while covering the Syrian Civil War. He spoke about his career and kidnapping during a December 2012 visit to Milwaukee and his alma mater. His 2014 beheading was filmed and disseminated on social media. Also this week, NBC News reported the two “Beatles” in custody — so called for their British accents — further implicated themselves in the abuse of captives Foley and aid worker Kayla Muller.”

CBS Tampa Bay: Cumming Man Sentenced For Attempted Attack On The White House

“Hasher Jallal Taheb, 23, of Cumming, Georiga, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting an attack upon the White House. Taheb also planned attacks on the Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and a synagogue. “Taheb planned to conduct a terrorist attack on the White House as part of what he claimed was his obligation to engage in jihad,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “And that was just one of the iconic American landmarks he wanted to target.  Thanks to a tip from a member of the community and the work of the agents, analysts, and prosecutors responsible for this case, the threat posed by the defendant was neutralized and the defendant has now been sentenced for his planned terrorist attack.” “Taheb painstakingly planned an attack on the White House that potentially jeopardized the lives of White House employees and visitors,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “We are thankful to members of our community and our federal and state law enforcement partners who identified Taheb’s scheme and worked cooperatively to bring him to justice.”

Iraq

The Washington Post: Killing Of Iraqi Government Confidant Exposes Perils Of Showdown With Iranian-Backed Militias

“The killing of a prominent researcher in Baghdad has sent shock waves through Iraq's government, underscoring the high stakes of its fight with powerful Iranian-backed militias and exposing the potential limits of the prime minister in taking them on. Advisers to Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi have been taken aback that violence could reach so close to his inner circle. Hisham al-Hashimi, who specialized in security affairs, was a confidant to many of them, and his assassination on July 6 drove home the fact that few in Iraq are untouchable. Although the assassin has yet to be identified publicly, Iraqi officials say he is linked to one of the Iranian-backed militias that Kadhimi has confronted since taking office in May. Kadhimi has promised to rein in militias operating outside of the law, an effort pushed by the United States, whose 17-year military presence in Iraq has been violently targeted by some of these armed groups. But it remains unclear how far Kadhimi will dare to go in taking them on over Hashimi’s killing. While an investigation headed by the deputy interior minister to catch the killer is underway, Kadhimi’s aides and political allies say that identifying who gave the order could be too politically explosive.”

Turkey

Associated Press: Turkey Frees 2 Czechs Jailed On Terror Charges

“Two Czech nationals jailed in Turkey three years ago for belonging to a Kurdish militant group flew back to Prague Friday after being granted early release following months-long negotiations between Turkish and Czech officials. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said Miroslav Farkas and Marketa Vselichova were brought home on a Czech government plane. “They have a very tough period behind them,” Babis said. After undergoing a medical examination they will stay quarantined for two weeks under coronavirus protocol. Turkey accused the two of belonging to YPG, a Kurdish group that was battling Islamic State militants in Syria with the aid of U.S. airstrikes. Turkey considers YPG a terrorist group. The two were arrested Nov. 13, 2016 in Sirnak province while trying to cross Turkey’s border to Iraq. They were convicted on terror charges and sentenced to six years and three months in prison each on Aug 2, 2017. The Czech government said they had nothing to do with terrorism and had been planning to build a field hospital for the Kurds in Syria. Babis said he discussed their case with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last September. “I’m glad that we reached a solution to the problem,” he said. He added that no conditions had been attached to their release.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: UN Says Thousands Of Anti-Pakistan Militants In Afghanistan

“A U.N. report says more than 6,000 Pakistani insurgents are hiding in Afghanistan, most belonging to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban group responsible for attacking Pakistani military and civilian targets. The report released this week said the group, known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), has linked up with the Afghan-based affiliate of the Islamic State group. Some of TTP’s members have even joined the IS affiliate, which has its headquarters in eastern Afghanistan. The Afghan government did not respond Sunday to requests by The Associated Press for comment. The report said IS in Afghanistan, known as IS in Khorasan province, has been hit hard by Afghan security forces as well as U.S. and NATO forces, and even on occasion by the Afghan Taliban. The report was prepared by the U.N. analytical and sanctions monitoring team, which tracks terrorist groups around the world. The report estimated the membership of IS in Afghanistan at 2,200, and while its leadership has been depleted, IS still counts among its leaders a Syrian national Abu Said Mohammad al-Khorasani. The report also said the monitoring team had received information that two senior Islamic State commanders, Abu Qutaibah and Abu Hajar al-Iraqi, had recently arrived in Afghanistan from the Middle East.”

Al Jazeera: Taliban Accuses Afghan Government Of Recapturing Freed Prisoners

“The Taliban has accused the Afghanistan government of recapturing previously released prisoners from its ranks, an allegation rejected by the Afghan authorities. The government has released more than 4,000 Taliban fighters, while the group has released nearly 700 prisoners under a US-Taliban agreement that aims to pave the way for peace talks among the Afghans. Suhail Shaheen, Taliban spokesman at its Doha office, on Saturday wrote on Twitter that the Afghan intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Intelligence, had conducted surprise operations against the released fighters. He said the administration in Kabul would “bear responsibility for the consequences” if the alleged detentions did not stop. Shaheen also said the released prisoners had adhered to instructions from the Afghan government to stay at home and not return to the battlefields. But a spokesman for Afghanistan's National Security Council Adviser, Javid Faisal, on Sunday said a number of released prisoners have returned to the battlefields. But a spokesman for Afghanistan's National Security Council Adviser, Javid Faisal, on Sunday said a number of released prisoners have returned to the battlefields.”

Associated Press: Taliban Offers Talks To Afghanistan Government After Eid Holiday

“The Taliban say they are ready for talks with Afghanistan’s political leadership after the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha at the end of July, offering to hand over the last of the government prisoners in a week’s time, providing the government frees the last of its Taliban prisoners. The offer made by Taliban’s political spokesman Suhail Shaheen in a tweet follows one of the most significant shake-ups in the Taliban in years. The group appointed the son of the movement’s fearsome founder to head its military wing and powerful leadership council members to its negotiation team. In Kabul on Friday, the High Council for National Reconciliation, which was created in May to manage peace efforts with the Taliban, said it was still working through the Taliban’s prisoner list. Javed Faisal, spokesman for the Afghan national security adviser’s office, previously said nearly 600 Taliban prisoners whose release is being sought have been convicted of serious crimes. The government is reluctant to set them free, he said. It seemed unlikely the government would free the remaining Taliban prisoners before the Muslim holiday.”

Lebanon

Reuters: Hezbollah Says All-Out War With Israel Unlikely In Coming Months

“The deputy leader of Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement on Sunday dismissed the prospect of an escalation of violence between the Iran-backed movement and Israel despite increased tensions in the last week. “The atmosphere does not indicate a war ... It’s unlikely, the atmosphere of war in the next few months,” Sheikh Naim Qassem said in an interview with pro-Damascus television station al Mayadeen. Tensions rose along Israel’s frontier with Syria and Lebanon after Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia said a fighter was killed in an apparent Israeli strike on the edge of Damascus last week. After two Hezbollah members were killed in Damascus in August 2019, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah vowed the group would respond if Israel killed any more of its fighters inside Syria. The Israeli military has since boosted its forces on its northern front. An Israeli drone crashed inside Lebanon during operational activity along the border, an Israeli military spokeswoman said on Sunday. Israel has stepped up strikes on Syria in recent months in what Western intelligence sources say is a shadow war approved by Washington that has undermined Iran’s military power in the region without triggering a major increase in hostilities.”

Nigeria

The Daily Beast: She Flew Missions Against ISIS-Backed Terrorists—And Died In A Suspicious ‘Accident’

“She was so young and daring, and a thorn in the side of ISIS-backed terrorists and bandits in north-central Nigeria. Her profile was rising fast and in her already extraordinary career she’d broken through the military glass ceiling. But the life of Tolulope Arotile, Nigeria's first-ever female combat helicopter pilot, was cut short on July 14 when she died in a strange and sudden accident. According to the Nigeria Air Force (NAF), Arotile was “inadvertently hit by the reversing vehicle of an excited former Air Force secondary school classmate while trying to greet her” inside the NAF base in the northwestern city of Kaduna. But not many in Nigeria are convinced the death of the 24-year-old was indeed accidental, especially because her nationwide fame as a talented combat helicopter pilot, and her regular bombardment of terrorist hideouts, had made her a target of armed militants. The manner in which Arotile was said to have died—from the impact of a reversing car—raised suspicion across Nigeria that she was murdered. The country's leading activists and politicians, including the outspoken former senator Shehu Sani, joined her family in immediately demanding an inquiry into the pilot's death. The NAF quickly responded by announcing a preliminary investigation into the tragedy.”

Africa

The Arab Weekly: Rise In Terrorist Activity, Casualties In Africa

“According to a report published this week by the Pentagon’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies, terrorist activities carried out by Islamic extremists are on the rise in Africa, except for the Maghreb region. Based on compiled statistics, the Congressionally-funded centre pointed out that “African militant Islamist groups have demonstrated a decade of nearly uninterrupted growth in violent activity, though the focus of this has shifted over time.” During the 12 months preceding last June, the report noted a 31% increase in “violent events” perpetrated by extremists on the continent. A total of 4,161 terrorist incidents were recorded, constituting a six-fold increase since 2011. Terrorist attacks, said the report, have escalated in four particular places: Somalia, the Lake Chad Basin, the western Sahel and Mozambique. A different trend is noted in the Maghreb region: “North Africa is the only theater that has seen a decline, continuing a trend since 2015,” it said. Terrorist escalation in the Sahel was instigated by the coalition of Jama’at Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). Their activity rose seven-fold to nearly 1,000 incidents since 2017. Most incidents in the Sahel in 2020 occurred in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.”

United Kingdom

Law360: Insurers Amend Policies Over Vehicle Terrorism Attacks

“The International Underwriting Association published a so-called model clause on Friday for members to write into their policy wordings. The clause confirms the role of the Motor Insurers' Bureau as the body responsible for paying third-party claims in a terror attack involving a vehicle. Insurers voted two years ago to share the risks of major claims arising from an attack in which a vehicle was used as a weapon. The bureau, which is funded by its members, has been picking up the tab since January 2019. The measure was taken after the 2017 Westminster Bridge attack in central London, when Khalid Masood plowed a rented car into pedestrians, killing four. He also fatally stabbed a policeman. The insurer of the rental car company, Zurich, faced several claims from survivors of the attack. The IUA said a single such terror attack could lead to "unlimited exposure" for one or two reinsurers. "The potential scale of liabilities that could be incurred through the unlimited cover for bodily injury was a major concern for motor reinsurers," Chris Jones, director of legal and market services at the IUA, said. "A number of tragic attacks in the U.K. and elsewhere illustrated possible circumstances which could overwhelm the market and leave members of the public without adequate cover or compensation."…The non-profit Counter Extremism Project believes there have been 51 incidents of vehicles used as a weapon in terror attacks around the world since 2006, with 197 killed as a result and 1,102 injured.”

UnHerd: Like Bosnia Mujahideen, Returning ISIS Fighter Will Haunt UK

“Defence Secretary Ben Wallace reminded the Commons this week that, despite their territorial defeat, Islamic State remains the greatest terror threat to the United Kingdom by a long way. He added that some 360 members who joined the terrorist group in Iraq and Syria and returned to the UK are deemed ‘low risk.’ If this doesn’t inspire confidence, it shouldn’t. Some of the worst attacks in recent years have been conducted by people already on the security services’ radar. Khalid Masood, the Westminster Bridge attacker, and Salman Abedi, responsible for the Manchester bombing were both known to security services before they struck. In fact, one of the 2017 London Bridge attackers’ extremism was so well known he appeared in a Channel 4 documentary. Forget ‘lone wolves’ — try known wolves. This is not the fault of our overwhelmed security services. There is no secret formula for making an assessment on who poses a risk and when, and they have no choice but to de-prioritise some cases. But some of the de-prioritised will strike.”

France

Associated Press: France Condemns Far-Right Protest Targeting Black Lawmaker

“France's interior minister vowed Saturday to fight “hateful ideology” after far-right extremists posted photos of a protest outside the offices of a Black lawmaker. The lawmaker, Sira Sylla, tweeted a photo of the small demonstration along with the words “You will never affect me.” The photo showed five white men holding placards and a banner that read: “Help the French, not the Africans.” The posters and banner all bore the name of a far-right extremist group. The two men holding the banner also waved lit flares. Sylla, a lawyer from the Normandy town of Rouen, where she was born, is a member of French President Emmanuel Macron's Republic on the Move! party. In her tweet, she said she was “more determined than ever!” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted his support and described the targeting of Sylla as “vile.” He said France won't “cede an iota to the hateful ideology of these extremist groups.” The same photo and two others like it were posted on a Telegram channel seemingly set up by a Normandy wing of the anti-immigration far-right group. A posting on the channel said the militants' protest at the lawmaker's office in the outskirts of Rouen was “to remind her of the need for priorities: help the French!”

Deutsche Welle: France: The Long Shadow Of The Saint-Michel Terrorist Attacks

“The bomb went off in the heart of Paris at 5:30 p.m., the height of the post-workday rush hour. A giant fireball raced down the platform of the Saint-Michel–Notre-Dame metro station after a gas container filled with shrapnel exploded in a train car on the regional RER B line. The explosion killed eight people and injured more than 100, some critically. As Prime Minister Alain Juppe and President Jacques Chirac rushed to the scene, they had no way of knowing that July 25, 1995, would mark just the first in the series of nationwide terror attacks. Investigators were aware from early on that the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), a radical Islamist organization, was behind the terrorist act. With the bombing, the group had managed to bring the ongoing civil war in Algeria, a fight between Islamists and the military, to the country's former colonial ruler. A gunman opened fire at a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament. At least two people were killed and 12 injured. Prosecutors opened a terror investigation. France immediately raised its national security alert to its highest level in anticipation of copycat attacks. The French government subsequently mobilized its entire security apparatus.”

Germany

The Washington Post: Prominent Germans Received Neo-Nazi Death Threats. Police Are Under Suspicion.

“When German comedian Idil Baydar heard last week that investigators suspect police may have been involved in sending her neo-Nazi death threats, she was aghast. She was especially distressed to learn that a police link had been known for at least nine months and she had not been told. Instead, she had been informed that the investigation into the hate-filled text messages she received throughout 2019 was closed. “I don’t know who to trust or believe anymore,” said the 45-year-old actress. “I am completely in shock.” Baydar is one of more than two dozen German public figures threatened over the past two years in missives signed with references to Nazi or neo-Nazi groups. In 2018, it emerged that a police computer was used to access information on lawyer Seda Başay-Yıldız shortly before she received threats containing personal details. Now, revelations that police computers in Frankfurt and Wiesbaden were also used to pull data on Baydar and left-wing politician Janine Wissler have triggered uncomfortable questions for Germany about racism and far-right networks in its institutions. While suspicions of a police role in the threats have not been confirmed, the scandal forced the police chief in the state of Hesse to resign this month.”

Deutsche Welle: AfD Panel Confirms Exclusion Of Extremist From Party

“A party arbitration panel on Saturday upheld a decision by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) to exclude former member Andreas Kalbitz over his alleged extremist views. In a statement, the AfD announced that the judges had “confirmed the cancellation of Andreas Kalbitz's membership in the main proceedings, which had been decided by the Federal Executive Board in May …The annulment is valid.” In response, Kalbitz told the German Press Agency (DPA) the decision was “not really surprising.” The AfD had earlier been split over whether to exclude Kalbitz from the party. Thenational party leadership ousted Kalbitz on May 15 for not disclosing that he was allegedly a member of the now-banned Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend (HDJ) organization. The HDJ — which approximately translates to German Youth Faithful to the Homeland — was a right-wing extremist group with links to neo-Nazis and was reminiscent of the Hitler Youth. Kalbitz denies such membership but said it was “not unlikely” that his name was on an old HDJ list. However, a Berlin court earlier ruled that he had to be reinstated as a member because the expulsion went against German laws that require termination of membership to be decided by special party tribunals.”

Europe

Daily Mail: Female Irish Solider Who Joined ISIS, Fled To Syria And Became The Second Wife Of British Jihadi After Converting To Islam Appears In Irish Court Charged With Terrorism

“A female Irish soldier who joined ISIS, fled to Syria and became the second wife of a British jihadi has appeared in an Irish court charged with terrorism. Lisa Smith, from County Louth, has been charged with membership of an unlawful organisation under 2005 terror legislation. The 38-year-old was a member of the Irish defence forces for years but converted to Islam following the breakdown of her marriage and flew to Syria to join ISIS. There, she allegedly became the second wife of British jihadist Sajid Aslam and had a child with him. She returned to Ireland last year after being house in a refugee camp. Smith, who as member of the Irish Defence Forces Irish leaders on foreign trips, appeared at Dublin District Court on Friday. Smith was arrested at Dublin Airport in 2019 on suspicion of terrorist offences after returning from Turkey in November with her young daughter. She had travelled to Syria a number of years ago after she converted to Islam. The alleged member of so-called Islamic State is also facing an additional charge of terrorist financing, the court heard today.”

Technology

The Guardian: Tech-Enabled 'Terror Capitalism' Is Spreading Worldwide. The Surveillance Regimes Must Be Stopped

“When Gulzira Aeulkhan finally fled China for Kazakhstan early last year, she still suffered debilitating headaches and nausea. She didn’t know if this was a result of the guards at an internment camp hitting her in the head with an electric baton for spending more than two minutes on the toilet, or from the enforced starvation diet. Maybe it was simply the horror she had witnessed – the sounds of women screaming when they were beaten, their silence when they returned to the cell. Like an estimated 1.5 million other Turkic Muslims, Gulzira had been interned in a “re-education camp” in north-west China. After discovering that she had watched a Turkish TV show in which some of the actors wore hijabs, Chinese police had accused her of “extremism” and said she was “infected by the virus” of Islamism. They predicted it would lead her to commit acts of terrorism, so they locked her away. Gulzira’s detention lasted for more than a year. She was released in October 2018, only to be told that she had been assigned to work in a glove factory near the camp. After long hours behind a sewing machine, Gulzira was kept in a dormitory surrounded by security checkpoints that used facial-recognition technology to track her movements and scraped data from her smartphone, which she was required to carry at all times.”