Eye on Extremism: July 28, 2020

Washington Examiner: State Department Declares 'Unwavering' Commitment To Seeking 'Justice For The Families' Of US Citizens Killed By ISIS

“The State Department said it has an “unwavering” commitment to bringing Islamic State fighters who killed U.S. citizens to justice. The agency sent this message as the families of the dead renew calls for captors, some of whom are being held in the Middle East, to be put on trial in the United States. “Seeking the safe return of U.S. citizens held hostage abroad and justice for the families of those murdered by their captors is a hallmark of this administration’s policy,” a State Department spokesperson told the Washington Examiner. “The Department of State’s commitment to these goals is unwavering.” Last week, the parents of ISIS victims Kayla Mueller, James Foley, Peter Kassig, and Steven Sotloff — all abducted and killed by members of ISIS — penned a joint op-ed in the Washington Post urging the Trump administration to take action. “Some of the men who allegedly committed these atrocities are now in U.S. military custody in the Middle East. We implore President Trump, Attorney General William P. Barr, and the Justice Department to have the detainees brought to the United States to face trial,” the families wrote. “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.”

Reuters: Taliban Push To Control Private Companies, Aid Agencies In Afghanistan

“The Taliban wants all private companies and aid organisations operating in Afghanistan to register with the hardline Islamists, officials from the group said. The order was issued last week and comes as the Afghan government and Taliban officials prepare to engage in intra-Afghan talks aimed at ending the fighting in the war-torn country. The negotiations, slated to be held in the Qatari capital Doha, are part of a February deal between the United States and the Taliban to end the nearly two-decades-old war. Washington is trying to iron out difficulties and bring the Taliban and the Afghan government to the table. The militant group has been running a armed rebellion since it was toppled from power in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001 and has regained control over thousands of check-points across a broad swathe of the country, with commanders overseeing distribution of foreign aid. A spokesman for the group said its officials had noticed that some companies and NGOs, including national and international organisations, were pursuing activities that they deemed were against the national interest. “We will not allow any agency to work against the interest of our beloved Afghanistan, Islam...so we want to register all of them to have information about their activities,” said the spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.”

United States

NBC News: Jihadist Plots Used To Be U.S. And Europe's Biggest Terrorist Threat. Now It's The Far Right.

“The threat of terrorism — particularly from the far right — should be a major concern for governments on both sides of the Atlantic as coronavirus restrictions continue to ease, according to multiple experts and former law enforcement officials who have experience monitoring violent extremist activity. High unemployment levels due to the pandemic, poor economic prospects and the spread of disinformation through the internet and social media could accelerate radicalization, they said. And after a major drive by law enforcement agencies to disrupt the organizing potential of violent Islamist movements in the United States and in Europe, where hundreds of people have returned from the battlefields in Iraq and Syria, recent analysis suggests far-right groups now pose the most significant threat to public safety. “We see an increasing percentage of plots and attacks in the United States shifting over the past couple of years from jihadist motivations, increasingly, to far-right activity,” said Seth Jones, who directs the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank. Jones defined right-wing extremists as “sub-national or non-state entities” with goals that could include ethnic or racial supremacy.”

The Guardian: Anti-Fascists Linked To Zero Murders In The US In 25 Years

“Donald Trump has made warnings about the threat of antifa and “far-left fascism” a central part of his re-election campaign. But in reality leftwing attacks have left far fewer people dead than violence by rightwing extremists, new research indicates, and antifa activists have not been linked to a single murder in decades. A new database of nearly 900 politically motivated attacks and plots in the United States since 1994 includes just one attack staged by an anti-fascist that led to fatalities. In that case, the single person killed was the perpetrator. Over the same time period, American white supremacists and other rightwing extremists have carried out attacks that left at least 329 victims dead, according to the database. More broadly, the database lists 21 victims killed in leftwing attacks since 2010 , and 117 victims of rightwing attacks in that same period – nearly six times as much. Attacks inspired by the Islamic State and similar jihadist groups, in contrast, killed 95 people since 2010, slightly fewer than rightwing extremists, according to the data set. More than half of these victims died in a a single attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.”


Al Jazeera: Iraq: At Least Two Killed In Renewed Anti-Government Protests

“At least two protesters have been killed in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, during renewed overnight demonstrations against corruption, unemployment and poor public services. The deaths reported on Monday by human rights monitors and officials were the first during anti-government rallies since Iraq's new Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi was sworn into office in May. Al Jazeera's Simona Foltyn, reporting from Baghdad, said dozens of people were also wounded late on Sunday after "plain-clothed officials" opened fire using live ammunition towards the demonstrators who were gathered in Tahrir Square. The square has been the epicentre of a protest movement that erupted in October last year but had died down in recent months due to the coronavirus pandemic. "Over the past few days, we have seen a surge in demonstrations taking place, not just in Baghdad but also in the southern provinces," Foltyn said. "People are driven by the lack of services and electricity, just as the country is going through a major heatwave," she added. Demonstrators on Sunday staged rallies in the capital and southern cities, where temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) have overwhelmed electricity generators.”


The New York Times: Taliban Executes Female Prison Guard, And U.N. Raises Concern Over Afghan Violence

“The Taliban abducted and executed a female prison guard in the eastern Afghan province of Ghazni, officials and relatives said Monday, as the United Nations expressed concern over the war’s unending toll on civilians. Fatima Rajabi, 23, who had trained as a police officer, was pulled out of a civilian minibus on her way to her home village in the Jaghori district two weeks ago. After holding her captive for two weeks, the Taliban executed the young woman and sent her body to her family, her brother, Samiullah Rajabi, said. “My sister was shot eight times,” Mr. Rajabi said. “When we opened the coffin, her hands were behind her, together and stiff — you could tell her hands were first tied and they had only untied them after they sent the body.” The United Nations, in a report released on Monday on civilian harm in the Afghan conflict in the first six months of the year, expressed particular concern about the rise of abductions and executions by the Taliban. There has been an increase of more than a fivefold in civilian casualties tied to abductions since last year, it said. Nearly 1,300 civilians have been killed and close 2,200 others wounded in the first six months of the year, according to the United Nations, which attributed 43 percent of the civilian casualties to the Taliban and 23 percent to Afghan forces.”

Reuters: U.N. Says Nearly 3,500 Afghans Killed Or Hurt In First Half Of 2020

“More than 1,280 Afghan civilians have been killed in the first six months of the year as fighting rages in Afghanistan despite a pact between the United States and Taliban militants, the United Nations said on Monday. The violence, mainly between Afghan government forces and the Taliban, killed 1,282 and injured 2,176 for a tally of 3,458 civilian casualties, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a report. “The reality remains that Afghanistan continues to be one of the deadliest conflicts in the world for civilians,” it said in the mid-year report. Despite a drop of 13% in casualties from the corresponding period last year, UNAMA said the Taliban continued to cause the majority of civilian casualties, mainly through use of explosive devices, abductions and summary executions. The Taliban were responsible for 43% of all civilian casualties and government forces caused 23%, chiefly from air strikes and indirect fire during operations, it added. The UNAMA attributed the 13% drop to fewer operations by international forces, as well as fewer attacks by Islamic State militants. In February, the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement in Doha, laying out plans for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the militants.”


The New York Times: Israel Says It Thwarted A Hezbollah Raid At Lebanon Border

“The Israeli military said Monday that it had thwarted a raid by a Hezbollah “terrorist squad” in a disputed area along its northern border with Lebanon, resulting in an exchange of fire that capped days of mounting tension there. An Israeli military spokesman said that a small squad armed with assault rifles had crossed an unfenced section of the boundary into Israel by a few yards. Israeli forces responded, firing small arms, tank guns and then artillery, the spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said. The squad fled back into Lebanon, he said, and then fired back at Israel. Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant organization, denied that there had been an exchange of fire, saying the only firing had come from the Israeli side. “Everything that the enemy’s media is claiming in terms of foiling an infiltration operation” is “absolutely not true,” Hezbollah said in a statement. “It is an attempt to invent false and mythical victories.” No casualties were reported by either side. Israel had been bracing for retaliation from Hezbollah since the killing of one of its operatives in a strike in Syria last week that was attributed to Israel. Hezbollah said Monday that retaliation was still coming, as well as retaliation for the shelling on Monday. Lebanese television reported shelling near the Lebanese village of Kafr Shuba.”

Middle East

The Guardian: Islamic Relief To Contest Israeli 'Terrorism' Allegations In Court

“A Tel Aviv court is to hear a petition from the charity Islamic Relief to restart its aid work in the occupied West Bank, six years after the Israeli government labelled it a “terrorist organisation”. Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) said the designation had left more than 70,000 Palestinians without vital support. It will argue that allegations linking it to the militant group Hamas were unfounded. “There is no credible evidence that we have seen, and we have got to challenge it,” Naser Haghamed, IRW’s chief executive, said in an interview. “We cannot accept to be designated and keep quiet about it.” A one-day high court hearing was scheduled for Monday afternoon but postponed to an unspecified later date just before it was due to start. The delay is believed to be related to the coronavirus pandemic, rather than the case itself. The charity, which has its headquarters in the UK, works in more than 40 countries and has a reputation for delivering aid to some of the world’s most hard-to-operate-in conflict zones, including Yemen and Somalia. In 2014, Israeli authorities seized 3.6m shekels (£820,000), banned the group from operating in the West Bank, and raided its offices. However, most of the information to back up its claims is described as confidential intelligence.”


Sahara Reporters: Breaking: Boko Haram Currently Attacking Borno Community

“Boko Haram terrorists are currently attacking Magumeri town in Borno State, multiple security sources have told SaharaReporters. Magumeri is about 50km from Maiduguri, the state capital. SaharaReporters gathered that the insurgents came into the village in trucks and on motorcycles around 2:15pm, shooting sporadically. “Magumeri is currently under Boko Haram attack, they came into the town few minutes ago and started shooting sporadically,” said one of the sources. The attack comes days after the insurgents killed over 10 soldiers along the Maiduguri-Damboa Highway. Boko Haram insurgency had caused over 35,000 deaths since 2009. The terror group wants an Islamic caliphate in Northern Nigeria.”


Al Jazeera: Caught Between Climate Crisis And Armed Violence In Burkina Faso

“Growing up in a community of farmers in northern Burkina Faso, KI, who prefers that his full name not be used for safety reasons, never wanted for much. His family ate what they sowed and bred enough cattle to feel financially secure. But now, for the first time in his life, the 65-year-old does not know how he is going to survive the months ahead. Decades of climate change and years of increasing violence by armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS) armed group as well as local defence forces - a combination of community volunteers armed by the government and groups who have taken up arms on their own - have pushed KI's once comfortable family into poverty. Chased from his farm by armed men in November, he has been unable to cultivate. Meanwhile, his herd of 30 cows, most of which scattered and got lost during the attack, has been reduced to just two. Now displaced, his family lives between Titao town where the two cows remain and Ouahigouya, Yatenga province's largest urban centre - a dry and dusty town with a buzzing market surrounded by what was once a dense forest but is now just arid desert. KI grew up approximately 65km (40 miles) from the town but this is the first time he has ever lived there.”


Associated Press: Woman Accused Of Joining IS Arrested On Return To Germany

“German prosecutors said Monday a German woman who allegedly joined the Islamic State group in Syria was arrested upon her return to the country. She is accused of membership in a foreign terrorist group, war crimes against property and other crimes. Federal prosecutors said in a written statement that the woman, identified only as Nurten J. in line with local privacy laws, was arrested Friday at Frankfurt Airport. Prosecutors allege she traveled with her then 4-year-old daughter to Syria in 2015 to join IS. There, she married a man who had also come from Germany and they started a family. The woman allegedly raised her children according to IS ideology and in return she received a monthly payment from the extremist group and lived successively in five different apartments whose former tenants were either killed or evicted. In 2016 and 2017, she often had a friend visit her home who brought along an enslaved Yazidi woman who then allegedly had to clean J.'s home. After IS lost its territories in Syria, J. and her family were captured by Kurds and were eventually taken into deportation custody in Turkey. It was not clear if she was returned to Germany in custody and and the fate of her children was not known.”


The National: Europe Warned Of ISIS Radicalisation Threat In Prisons

“European countries could face a major radicalisation threat within their prison systems from returning ISIS fighters, reports on terrorism reveal. Researchers from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalism analysed the risks posed by extremists in 10 major European countries. The individual reports, published on Monday, highlight the dangers posed by returning ISIS fighters and concerns over them radicalising others within the prison system. A report on Belgium reveals that if all extremists who left return to the country and are jailed, one in 10 women in prison will be an ISIS fighter. It says that almost half the country’s current extremist inmates are former ISIS fighters and nearly a quarter of those showing signs of radicalisation are serving sentences for non-terrorism crimes. “Some of the women who remained with ISIS until the last battle in Baghuz have been proselytising in the Kurdish camps, chiefly in al-Hoi, and they could seek to achieve the same in Belgium,” the report warns. “The ability of female penitentiary institutions to properly handle these returnees (in terms of monitoring or differentiated detention regimes, for example) would largely depend on the pace of returns: a massive return would be much more challenging than a progressive, limited inflow of returnees.”


The Post Millenial: Toronto ISIS Attacker Denied Parole For Threatening To Attack Again If Freed

“A woman imprisoned for an ISIS-inspired attack at a Canadian Tire store in Toronto has threatened to commit another terrorist attack once she is released, according to documents obtained by Global News. “If you release me from jail, I will do another terrorist attack, so tell your government to send me back to my country (Syria),” Rehab Dughmosh wrote to her parole officer in February. Following a review on Thursday, the citation was one of several noted by the Parole Board of Canada in its decision Monday that denied Dughmosh’s bid to be released on parole. “Given your continued commitment to a terrorist organization, and ongoing indications that you will commit a terrorist attack if released, the board do not consider your risk to re-offend violently is manageable at this time,” the ruling read. Dughmosh was sentenced to seven years last year for carrying out the Canadian Tire attack at Cedarbrae Mall in Scarborough in ISIS’s name and attempting to join the terrorist organization. She became eligible for full parole on Aug. 7. The parole board chronicled a list of concerns, stemming from her allegedly ongoing support of ISIS.”


ABC News Australia: Terrorist Prisoner Abdul Nacer Benbrika Could Be Kept In Detention After Sentence Expires

“One of Australia's most notorious terrorist prisoners could be held in detention even after he finishes his prison sentence later this year. The ABC has been told that Abdul Nacer Benbrika, jailed in 2008 for being a leader of a terror cell that plotted attacks on Australian soil, has been asked to undergo interviews with a forensic psychologist as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton considers whether to apply to have him locked up even after his sentence finishes in November. Under Commonwealth legislation, people convicted of terror offences can be held in detention for up to three years after their sentence finishes if a state or territory supreme court grants an application by the Home Affairs Minister. The orders can be extended at the end of the three-year period if the Court satisfied the extension is necessary. The ABC understands that representatives of the Commonwealth solicitor wrote to Benbrika, 59, in Victoria's Barwon prison earlier this month to inform him that Mr Dutton was considering whether to apply to the Victorian Supreme Court for a continuing detention order (CDO). It is believed that Algerian-born Benbrika has been "invited" to undergo an interview with a forensic psychologist who will then advise the minister on whether Benbrika is a risk of committing any further terror offences if he is released into the community.”