Eye on Extremism: July 29, 2022

Bloomberg: US, Taliban Discuss Unlocking $3.5 Billion In Afghan Reserves

“A US delegation met with senior Taliban officials in Uzbekistan to discuss efforts to unfreeze some $3.5 billion in central bank reserves as the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan deteriorates. The US delegation told the militant group and technocrats there was a need to accelerate efforts to unlock the reserves and reiterated the funds should be used to benefit the Afghan people, according to a Department of State readout on Thursday. Special Representative for Afghanistan Thomas West and Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson led the US side. The meeting marks the latest rounds of talks between the two sides as the Biden is seeking to establish a mechanism to allow Afghanistan’s government to use its central bank reserves, while curtailing the Taliban’s access to the funds. Last month, a Taliban delegation led by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with US officials in Qatar to discuss releasing about $9 billion of frozen Afghan funds. The militant group is still struggling to fix the sanctions-hit economy close to a year after taking power when the US withdrew from the country. Afghanistan has lost international aid that has accounted for more than 40% of its GDP and the UN has made several appeals for support, saying millions in Afghanistan faced severe hunger.”

Reuters: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood Rejects 'Struggle For Power', Exiled Leader Says

“Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood will not launch a new struggle for power with authorities which toppled it from government nine years ago, even though the movement still claims wide support, its acting leader said. The once formidable Islamist movement won Egypt's first free presidential election in 2012, but was overthrown by the military a year later after mass protests against its rule and has endured a fierce crackdown by authorities since then. Many of its leaders and thousands of its supporters are in jail or have fled Egypt, and the group has been excluded from a political dialogue to be launched soon by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as the army chief deposed the Brotherhood in 2013. Cairo has designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation, but acting leader Ibrahim Munir reiterated the group's long-standing rejection of violence. He also appeared to rule out challenging for power through the ballot box - something the group is unable to do directly while it remains banned in Egypt, although it did field independent candidates in parliamentary elections in the past.”

United States

Washington Examiner: DOJ Reveals What Is Behind Spike In Domestic Terrorism Incidents

“The Justice Department shed light on the reasons behind the doubling of domestic terrorism cases since early 2020, with a top DOJ official saying prosecutions related to the Capitol riot make up “at least a significant portion of that jump.” Matt Olsen, the assistant attorney general in charge of DOJ’s National Security Division, told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that “the number of FBI investigations of suspected domestic violent extremism has more than doubled since the spring of 2020.” He revealed much of that rise is due to prosecutions of those involved in the events of Jan. 6, 2021. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot, asked Olsen if the jump in domestic terrorism investigations has led to a jump in indictments, excluding Jan. 6 prosecutions. “I don’t have a specific number on that, congressman, because that number, that jump, doubling, that number does include the Jan. 6 cases, and there, of course, we have over 800 arrests of individuals — not all of them are characterized as domestic violent extremists, to be clear, but many are, and those do account for at least a significant portion of that jump over the past two years in the number of investigations,” Olsen replied.”

Syria

The Christian Post: 2 Killed, Dozen Injured By Terrorist Attack On Syrian Church Inauguration

“A Greek Orthodox church in Syria built as a replica of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia with Russia’s help was bombed during its inauguration, according to reports, killing at least two people and injuring about a dozen others. A rocket was fired by unspecified “terrorist organizations” targeting the crowded inauguration ceremony of Hagia Sophia Church in the town of Al-Suqaylabiyah, about 30 miles northwest of Syria’s central province of Hama on Sunday, AFP reported, citing the Syrian Arab News Agency. The attack reportedly involved rockets, missiles or armed drones. The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad was building the church as a replica of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, with the help of the Russian government in response to the Turkish government’s converting that building to a mosque in July 2020, Catholic News Agency reported. The construction of the “mini” replica of Hagia Sophia, a church dedicated to divine wisdom, started two years ago, with the approval of the Damascus government, according to Fides. The U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern said that while the perpetrators of the church attack are unknown, “it is believed to be members affiliated with Turkish-backed non-state actors.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Security Forces Arrest 10 Terror Suspects In Overnight West Bank Raids

“Security forces arrested 10 people suspected of involvement in terror activities during overnight raids across the West Bank, the Israel Defense Forces said Thursday. Forces from the IDF, the Shin Bet internal security service and Border Police arrested three terror suspects in the Jalazoun Refugee Camp near Ramallah, where the military said troops encountered a “violent riot” that included stone-throwing at Israeli forces. Soldiers used riot dispersal means, including the firing of a Ruger rifle, and said they had hit a Palestinian. Ruger bullets are considered less lethal than the larger caliber rounds typically used by the IDF. But human rights groups have condemned the use of Ruger fire for riot control, as the weapon can still kill. The military did not provide further details on the condition of the person injured, and the official Palestinian Wafa news agency said there were no injuries in the clash. The IDF and Border Police also confiscated numerous illegal weapons, including an M-16, in the West Bank village of Silwad, the army said. In addition, forces arrested three terror suspects in the Palestinian villages of Yamun, Burqin and Yabad near the city of Jenin, the army said. The IDF additionally arrested two terror suspects in Al Doha, near Bethlehem, where it also reported “violent disorder.”

Nigeria

AFP: Jihadists Kill Four Security Personnel In NE Nigeria

“Jihadists have killed three policemen and a vigilante in an ambush on the convoy of a local official in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, two militia sources said Thursday. Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters fired a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) on the convoy of Asheikh Mamman Gadai, the political administrator of Nganzai district, while he was returning from the garrison town of Monguno on Wednesday, they said. “The RPG hit one of the vehicles in the convoy which exploded and killed the security men in it,” militia leader Umar Ari told AFP. “The personnel included three policemen and a CJTF (militia),” he said. The ambush happened at Mile 40, a village along the 135-kilometer (84-mile) Maiduguri-Monguno highway, said militia member Ibrahim Liman, who gave the same toll. Both sources said the local official was unhurt in the attack. ISWAP has intensified attacks on travelers along the highway where they set up checkpoints, robbing and killing motorists as well as ambushing security patrol convoys. The near-daily attacks prompted military patrols along the highway, but violence continues. The 13-year-old jihadist insurgency has killed over 40,000 people and displaced 2.2 million in northeast Nigeria.”

Pulse Nigeria: Troops Kill 20 Boko Haram/ISWAP Members As 2,016 Others Surrender

“The Director, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Bernard Onyeuko, made this known at the Bi-Weekly news conference on military operations in the country on Thursday in Abuja. Onyeuko also said that a total of 2,016 suspected terrorists and their families comprising of 360 adult males, 580 adult females and 1,076 children surrendered to troops at various locations within the past two weeks. He added that four women with children including two of the abducted Chibok School girls were rescued by the troops at Aulari in Borno. According to him, the two women were confirmed to be Chibok girls named Hanatu Musa and Kauna Sarah Luka, whose serial numbers were seven and 38 on the list of missing Chibok girls released by the authorities. “On July 16, troops came in contact with terrorists along Kwang – Kilakasa road, Monguno, Gajiran, engaged the terrorist in a fire battle and neutralised 20 of the insurgents. “Troops further explored the area and recovered six AK47 rifles, three bicycles, one Toyota Land cruiser jeep, three tyres, 490 rounds of 108mm, 274 rounds of 7.62mm NATO, metal links and five magazines. “Other items include two Improvised Explosive Device cylinders and 100 litres of Premium Motor Spirit.”

Daily Post Nigeria: Boko Haram, ISWAP: Fear, Anxiety As Terrorists Threaten Nigeria’s Capital, Abuja

“The recent upsurge in terrorist attacks in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja has begun to affect economic activities, causing fear and trepidation among residents, who fear being attacked, killed or kidnapped from their homes. DAILY POST reports that daredevil gunmen suspected to be members of the Boko Haram insurgents, causing havoc in many parts of the country have been on a rampage in the nation’s capital. Recall that on July 5, terrorists attacked the medium correctional centre (Kuje prison) in Abuja and killed at least one person while many others were injured. During the attack, over 800 inmates including members of Boko Haram and the bloodthirsty Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) insurgents, being remanded in the facility were let loose. There has been a series of killing and kidnapping incidents in many parts of the territory, particularly in Kwali and Bwari Area Council of the FCT. Recall that bandits on Sunday night attacked a community in Kwali, near the Federal Government College, in Sheda village, on the ever-busy Abuja-Lokoja highway. Sequel to the unfortunate development, parents on Monday morning stormed the Federal Government College (FGC) Kwali, to evacuate their children and wards as tension enveloped residents and management of the school. Subsequently, the Federal Ministry of Education directed the closure of all Federal Government Colleges (FGCs) in Abuja in a bid to prevent attacks on students.”

Somalia

Voice Of America: US Warns Al-Shabab Attack On Ethiopia ‘Not A Fluke’

“A concerted push by al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab to expand from Somalia into Ethiopia appears to have been “largely contained,” according to a senior U.S. military official, though he cautioned that the terror group was likely planning more such attacks in coming months. Almost 500 al-Shabab fighters first crossed into eastern Ethiopia last week, clashing with Ethiopian forces along the border. U.S. assessments suggest they may have penetrated as much as 150 kilometers into Ethiopia before being stopped. “It appears that the Ethiopians have largely contained and defeated this incursion,” General Stephen Townsend, the outgoing commander of U.S. Africa Command, said Thursday during a call with the Washington-based Defense Writers Group. Ethiopian officials Thursday likewise confirmed the al-Shabab attack had been repulsed. “Our brave soldiers foiled a plan al-Shabab was working on for at least a year and defeated the fighters they sent to Ethiopia within three days,” Mustafe Omer, the president of Ethiopia’s Somali region, told reporters. Omar also said that Ethiopia is planning to create a “security buffer zone” aimed at countering al-Shabab attacks. “We cannot merely watch an open border where the militants mobilize themselves on the other side [Somalia] to attack us,” he said. “We must prevent such a threat and not wait until they come to our border.”

Long War Journal: Puzzles Deepen In The Context Of Shabaab’s Attempted Ethiopian Invasion

“Last weekend, Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, attempted to mount a sizable incursion into Ethiopian territory. The foray lasted at least three days, with possibly hundreds of Shabaab militants involved, before regional troops from Ethiopia’s Somali State fought the jihadists back into Somalia. Over the last few days, however, new information has come to light that warrants further discussion of Shabaab’s raids and the possible intentions of its incursions. This includes a purported second attempt by Shabaab to mount a concerted raid into Ethiopia. Independent reporting has focused on Shabaab’s attempts to establish its own frontline inside Ethiopia, while Ethiopian officials and media continue to double-down on Shabaab’s alleged links with the ethnic Oromo insurgent group, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA). On July 21, at least 500 Shabaab militants first entered Ethiopian territory after a separate unit of Shabaab’s forces attacked the Somali border towns of Aato and Yeed the previous day. The two towns hosted bases of the Liyu Police, an ethnic Somali paramilitary force used by Ethiopia inside both Somali State and Somalia itself. According to Harun Maruf of Voice of America, the strikes on the Liyu Police bases were meant as a diversionary tactic meant to allow the larger Shabaab force time and space to mount the incursion into Ethiopia itself. Shabaab’s propaganda has solely focused on the attacks on the Liyu Police.”

Mali

Voice Of America: 18 Killed During Latest Mali Insurgent Attacks

“Mali's military government says coordinated insurgent attacks on Wednesday killed 15 troops and three civilians, while leaving scores of militants dead. Analysts say the attacks show increasing insecurity in the West African country following the withdrawal of French forces. The attacks were launched Wednesday against military targets in Mopti, a city in central Mali, as well as in Sokolo and Kalumba, also in central Mali. The Malian army issued a statement saying it “neutralized” 48 militants. In it, the chief of staff of the armed forces reassured Malians and called on observers not to be deceived by the recent acts of an adversary losing momentum. According to the analysis of the chief of staff, the recent attacks, which confirm signals and clues previously detected and identified by the army, show the final throes of armed terrorist groups on Malian territory. Fodie Tandjigora, a sociology professor at the University of Bamako and researcher on security in Mali for several organizations, said from Bamako that despite such assurances, the situation in Mali is getting worse, and has entered a new phase in which Islamist militants are able to better organize and carry out simultaneous, planned attacks.”

Africa

AFP: Burkina Faso Blasts Kill Nine Loyalists

“Improvised explosive devices have killed six soldiers and three civilian defence volunteers in two attacks in northern Burkina Faso, security sources said on Thursday. The country, one of the world's poorest, has been battling a deadly jihadist insurgency since 2015. One blast on Thursday killed “three volunteers for the defence of the nation.”

Gulf News: UAE Condemns Terror Attack On Moroccan UN Peace Forces In Congo

“The UAE strongly condemned the terrorist attack against a group of Royal Moroccan Armed Forces taking part in the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which resulted in the death of one soldier and the injury of others. In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) expressed its strong condemnation of these criminal acts and its permanent rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism aimed at destabilising security and stability in contravention of human values and principles. The Ministry expressed its full solidarity with the Moroccan mission, which participates in the international peacekeeping forces of the UN in operations to maintain security and stability in Congo. The Ministry expressed its sincere condolences and sympathy to the government and people of Morocco and to the family of the victim of this heinous crime, as well as its wishes for a speedy recovery for the injured.”

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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