Eye on Extremism: July 27, 2022

Associated Press: At UN, Iraq And Turkey Escalate Dispute Over Deadly Attack

“A dispute between Iraq and Turkey over a recent deadly attack in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region escalated at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday. Iraq’s foreign minister demanded the withdrawal of all Turkish troops from his country, while Turkey’s deputy ambassador said his government will keep pursing fighters it considers terrorists who take refuge in Iraq. The Iraqi government sought the meeting after the July 20 artillery attack that killed nine Iraqi tourists and injured 33 other people. Its foreign minister, Fuad Hussein, said the government has “proofs” that Turkish armed forces were responsible. Turkey has denied it was behind the attack and blamed fighters from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara and the West. It has for decades waged an insurgency against the government in Ankara and maintains hideouts in Iraq’s mountainous north. At the start of the Security Council meeting, the U.N. special envoy for Iraq had said Turkey and Iraq were ready for a joint investigation into the artillery shelling at the Parkha resort in the Zakho district of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, emphasized in a conversation Monday “the importance of a transparent and thorough investigation: independent or jointly.”

The Washington Post: Benghazi Attacker’s Punishment Was ‘Unreasonably Low,’ Court Finds

“A Libyan militia leader involved in the deadly 2012 attack on a U.S. compound in Libya was given an “unreasonably low” sentence, and his case must be sent back to a lower court for a new punishment, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. Ahmed Abu Khattala was found guilty in a 2017 trial in D.C. federal court of engaging in terrorism, joining the Benghazi assault armed with a semiautomatic weapon and putting lives in danger through destruction of U.S. property. But jurors were not convinced he had any involvement in the murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and the three other Americans who died in the attack. He was acquitted on all but four out of 24 charges. Khattala appealed his convictions, saying the evidence was flawed, the verdict inconsistent and the prosecutor’s closing argument prejudicial. The panel of appellate judges dismissed those claims, instead finding that Khattala — referred to in court filings as Khatallah — was rightly found guilty and that his 22-year prison sentence was “shockingly low and unsupportable.” The fact that Khattala, 51, was acquitted of the most serious charges against him did not merit such a departure from federal guidelines recommending 30 years to life, the unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said.”

United States

The Washington Post: National Guard Member Sought Out Extremists, Planned Attack On Police

“A former National Guard member who admitted in pleading guilty to a weapons charge that he sought out violent extremists and discussed a potential attack on Virginia Beach police was sentenced Monday to four years and nine months in prison. Francis P. Harker, 22, of Norfolk, pleaded guilty to possessing several firearms while he was regularly using LSD and other drugs. He was sentenced Monday based on that offense, but prosecutors said it was “just the tip of the iceberg.” A backpack in Harker’s car trunk contained ingredients for molotov cocktails, prosecutors said, and Harker “admitted to interacting online with members of a group called ‘The Base,’ “ a violent white-supremacist and anti-government group. A magistrate judge found in November that Harker “traveled to Colorado to meet with the leader of a violent extremist group,” but the group is not named in court records.  Harker’s public defenders said he was “vulnerable and isolated,” suffering from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression and drug addiction, and was interested in white supremacism for the shock value and not out of ideological conviction. They had requested a sentence of three years in prison. “His drug use, along with his untreated ADHD, caused Mr. Harker to delve deeper and deeper into a fringe ideology and make increasingly warped decisions, culminating with the choices leading to this prosecution,” his attorneys said in a sentencing brief.”

Afghanistan

Foreign Policy: The Taliban’s Neighbors Fear Afghanistan’s ‘Boiling Pot’ Of Terrorism

“The Taliban’s failure to make the leap from insurgency to governance is coming under scrutiny this week as they meet with representatives of countries that are growing increasingly concerned that after almost year in power, the extremists have again transformed Afghanistan into a global terrorist haven. The July 25-27 conference in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, follows the latest report on Afghanistan by the United Nations Security Council, which contains alarming details on the activities of terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, now enjoying the Taliban’s protection in Afghanistan. The report indicated that Afghanistan has essentially reverted to the state it was in before Sept. 11, 2001, when it hosted Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, while the group planned the big terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Officially, the theme of the conference is “security and economic development,” though sources among participants say the real focus will be on counterterrorism. More than 20 countries and international organizations will attend, including Iran, Pakistan, China, and the Central Asian states. The United States, Russia, and India are also set to attend, as are U.N. delegates.”

Nigeria

Premium Times Nigeria: Terrorists Attack Presidential Guards In Abuja, Kill Eight Soldiers

“Gunmen on Friday attacked some officials of the 7 Guards Battalion of the Nigerian Army Presidential Guards Brigade. The incident, which took place late Friday night around the Bwari Area Council of Abuja, left three soldiers wounded and eight personnel killed. Two of the slain personnel were officers, including a captain and lieutenant, while the remaining were soldiers. According to a source within the army, the main aim of the terrorists is to attack the Nigerian Law School in Bwari and they may have already camped in the area. The Nigerian army has yet to officially react to the attack. Army spokesperson Onyema Nwachukwu did not pick up or return calls to his phone. But different intelligence sources had told PREMIUM TIMES that the government was aware of plans by terrorists to attack some places in the capital and security had been increased around the city. On Monday, the government officially shut the Federal Government College, Kwali, in the Kwali Area Council of Abuja after terrorists attacked a community near the school. The attack on the Guards Brigade, whose duty is to protect the president, comes a few weeks after terrorists launched a similar attack on a presidential convoy in Dutsinma, Katsina State. On the same day,  terrorists invaded the Kuje prison in Abuja and freed hundreds of inmates, including Boko Haram suspects.”

Sahara Reporters: Explosion In Borno As Boko Haram’s Bomb Kills Eight Persons

“Eight persons were on Monday killed after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted by the Boko Haram terrorists exploded in the North-East of the Bama Local Government Area of Borno State. The men, said to be repentant Boko Haram members, reportedly sneaked out of Bama to deal in scrap metals with some terrorists in a market known as ‘Daula’ on the outskirts of Goniri village before the incident happened. The former terrorists, who were among the 1,000 reintegrated into the community and resettled at Government Girls Secondary School in Bama, received the scraps from some Boko Haram fighters hiding in Sambisa forest without knowing that an IED abandoned during a military offensive was among the items they were carrying. Zagazola Makama, a counter-insurgency expert, reportedly got the information about the incident from an intelligence officer. He added that the former terrorists constantly dealt in exchanging scrap metal for food items like salt, seasoning, maize, and some non-food items like petrol, medicine, and clothing. “After receiving the items, they will stay in the outskirt of Bama town to dismantle them into pieces known as Ajakuta, before bringing them into the town to sell to their agents.”

Africa

AFP: ADF Rebels Kill Nine Civilians In Eastern DR Congo

“Attacks believed to have been perpetrated by a notorious rebel group have killed nine civilians in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local sources said. Allied Democratic Forces rebels entered the village of Kayera near the Ugandan border overnight Saturday to Sunday and killed six people, including two children, local civil society leader Jacques Kisembo told AFP. A father later died in hospital from his injuries, taking the toll to seven, he added. “We don’t understand this situation: how did the ADF reach our village while Congolese and Ugandan soldiers are present in the region?” he said. In the neighboring village of Kyabohe, ADF members killed two civilians, village chief Balibuka Bahemuka told AFP. Ugandan military reinforcements arrived and Congolese soldiers were pursuing the rebels in the bush, he added. The Democratic Republic of Congo launched a joint military operation with Uganda in November 2021 to quash the ADF, one of dozens of armed groups that operate in the volatile east of the country. The ADF, claimed by the Islamic State group as its central African branch, is blamed for civilian massacres in Congo and terrorist attacks in neighboring Uganda.”

Stars And Stripes: Security Threats In Africa Call For New Approach, Outgoing AFRICOM Leader Says

“The U.S. needs a revised approach to security in western Africa, as militant groups make inroads and Russian-backed mercenaries proliferate, U.S. Africa Command’s Gen. Stephen Townsend said Tuesday. Townsend, who has commanded military efforts in Africa from his Stuttgart headquarters for the past three years, said the tumult stretches from Mali to Nigeria and the broader Sahel. As a result, countries are examining their paths forward in the region. “The United States is also recalibrating our approach and striving to find a way to be more effective in the future,” said Townsend, who is slated to retire in the coming weeks after a 40-year military career. In Africa, numerous Islamic militant groups are operating and the allegiances between them are often shifting. A few years ago, the Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram was regarded as perhaps the most lethal in all of Africa but now is “hanging on,” Townsend said. Meanwhile, ISIS West Africa appears to have become the dominant force in the region, he said. Violence is accelerating faster in the Sahel than in any other African region, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies said in a report issued Tuesday. Violence in Burkina Faso, Mali and western Niger surged by 140% since 2020, with militant Islamist groups in the Sahel accounting for 60% of violence against civilians in all of Africa.”

Germany

Associated Press: German Woman Jailed For Taking Son To Syria To Join IS

“A German woman was convicted Tuesday of membership in the Islamic State group and other offenses for traveling to Syria to join the organization with her young son. She was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. The Duesseldorf state court said Verena M., whose full name wasn’t released in line with German privacy rules, was convicted of membership in a foreign terrorist organization and abduction of a minor, among other charges. The court found that the defendant traveled to Syria in 2015 with her son, then aged 5, without the knowledge of the child’s father. It found that she ran the household and brought up her son in line with IS ideology while her new husband fought for the group, and that the couple had two Kalashnikov rifles. The child was lucky to emerge unscathed from two bombing attacks during their time with IS, judges found. The defendant surrendered to Kurdish forces in 2019. She and her three children — two more were born in Syria — were repatriated to Germany in October last year. The case is one of several in Germany involving women who traveled to IS-held terroritory. Last month, a German who took her young daughter to Syria and allegedly took advantage of an enslaved Yazidi woman was given a sentence of three years and three months.”

New Zealand

The Washington Post: The Proud Boys And The Base Are Now Illegal In New Zealand

“New Zealand recently designated two U.S. far-right groups, the Proud Boys and the Base, as terrorist organizations. This puts them in the same category as groups such as the Islamic State and makes it a crime for any New Zealander to support or join the group. In doing so, New Zealand joins a growing trend of Western governments taking far-right violence more seriously. New Zealand’s actions may seem small, but they overlap other actions that make it harder for far-right groups to operate and fundraise around the globe. What does this designation mean? Terrorist designation, also called proscription, is a policy used by many countries to declare organizations as serious threats to security. The United States, for example, has a list of 68 officially designated foreign terrorist organizations, along with other lists of individual terrorists and related entities. The New Zealand list, like those of other countries, makes it a criminal act to belong or provide support to listed groups, even by donating online. New Zealanders can face up to 14 years in prison for providing funding to a terrorist entity. Why were these groups designated? Countries regularly add and, less frequently, remove groups from their lists as they get more information about threats. My research with Mirna El-Masri into six countries’ terrorist lists found that Islamist groups have been the most likely to be designated in recent decades.”

Europe

Politico: Inside A Teenage Terrorist Network

“When Lukas F. walks onto the site of an abandoned army barracks in the summer of 2021 as part of his training to be a terrorist, he is 16 years old, a slender boy with dark hair. The site is about 45 minutes from the center of Potsdam, a city just southwest of Berlin, Germany. Once it was used by the Wehrmacht, Germany’s regular armed forces during World War II; later by the Soviets. There are lakes close by, popular with swimmers. A roar of thunder echoes across the yard, a fireball flashes. First one bomb goes off, then a second. Lukas F. films the explosions on his mobile phone. Months before, he set up a group for young neo-Nazis from multiple countries who think they are fighting a “race war.” In their online chat, Lukas F. — a pseudonym used to protect his identity as a minor — describes these bombs as a test for the group. Lukas F. is part of a network of young people from all over the world, teenagers who exchange far-right ideas, Nazi propaganda and videos of attacks and, in the process, egg one another on to the point where some of them come to believe they must take up arms against the liberal order. There are dozens of groups like this, linked in an international network stretching from the west coast of the U.S., to Western Europe and the remotest corners of the Baltic states. The groups give themselves martial names, inspired by the propaganda of the National Socialists”

Central Asia

Radio Free Europe: Former Islamic State Fighter From Kazakhstan Warns Others Against Jihadi Recruiters

“Daniyar was among some 150 Kazakhs featured in an infamous propaganda video that Islamic State (IS) released in 2013 bragging about the foreign recruits who joined the Islamic terrorist group in Syria. Many of the men, women, and children in the video are thought to have since been killed in fighting or by the air raids in former IS-controlled territories in Syria and Iraq. Daniyar -- whose full name won’t be disclosed for privacy reasons -- survived the war and returned to Kazakhstan to face charges of involvement in a terrorist organization and its propaganda. Speaking at a prison in the Qaraghandy region in central Kazakhstan, where he is serving a 10-year sentence, Daniyar told RFE/RL he wants to share his story of grave “mistakes” and his disillusionment with IS so that he can prevent others from falling victim to jihadi recruiters. The 29-year-old Daniyar admits lying to his wife when he took her to Syria in 2013. He also acknowledges getting one month of IS military training but claims he took part in IS military operations “only once.” Growing up in a small, impoverished town in the province of Qaraghandy, Daniyar became interested in Islam, attended mosque, and learned Arabic. In 2013, Daniyar and his friends started watching jihadi videos online.”

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.    

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