Eye on Extremism: July 30, 2020

Washington Examiner: ISIS Releases Video Calling On Supporters To Carry Out Arson Attacks In US

“The Islamic State’s media wing has released a video calling for supporters in the United States to commit acts of arson. The 4-minute video, which was released over the weekend, was produced in both Arabic and English and features high-end video editing, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Center’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor. The narrator speaks about how ISIS supporters should fight “fire with fire” and includes an image of a military-style rifle while discussing how some would-be terrorists don’t have access to certain weapons. Instead, the narrator advocates for arson attacks and highlights the devastating effect that fires have had recently in places such as Australia, Greece, and the U.S. “To become more convinced of this option, try looking at the fires in the lands of the crusaders every year. Fires in forests and fields, cities and villages completely destroyed, people displaced, armies of firefighters and civil defense personnel working continuously days to no avail,” the narrator says. He also instructs terrorists to be careful to dispose of incriminating evidence. Although ISIS’s territorial caliphate has dissolved, the terrorist group still has affiliates around the globe.”

The Times: German Far-Right Buys Land For Military Training

“Right-wing extremists are moving into property to set up bases for their activities and anchor themselves in local communities, German intelligence services have warned. Neo-Nazis are seeking land and buildings in rural parts of eastern states, officials said. In Saxony the number of buildings known to be owned by far-right groups rose by five last year to 27. Nationwide, right-wing extremists own 146 properties, according to official estimates. Analysts suspect the true figure is far higher. “It’s part of the Nazi ideology of ‘blood and land’,” Nicholas Potter, an expert on right-wing extremism at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, said. “They’re trying to gain footholds wherever they can.” He said that the funding was generated by a “far-right economy” based on publishing, merchandise and hosting rock…”

United States

Business Insider: Jeff Bezos Hinted Amazon Might Split From The SPLC Over Designation Of Extremist Groups After Pressure From A GOP Lawmaker

“Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos folded under questioning from Rep. Matt Gaetz during Wednesday's tech antitrust hearing. Gaetz, a Republican representative from Florida, asked Bezos about Amazon's Smile program, which donates 0.5% of eligible purchases to the charitable organization of a customer's choice. Amazon relies on the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit that identifies hate groups and extremist groups in the US, to help it determine ineligible charities. Amazon says it does not allow customers to donate to organizations that “engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities.” Gaetz questioned why certain organizations — including Catholic Family News, American Family Association, and Jewish Defense League — are not included as options for customers. “I'm just wondering why you would place your confidence in a group that seems to be so out of step and seems to take mainstream Christian doctrine and label it as hate?” Gaetz asked Bezos.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Ex-White Supremacist Gang Member Gets More Than 2 Years In Prison For Violent Fenton Attack

“A former member of a white supremacist gang was sentenced Wednesday to 28 months in prison for violently attacking a fellow gang member in 2013. Thomas B. Wilson, then 44, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in St. Louis in March to one felony count of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering. He admitted directing and aiding in a Nov. 9, 2013, attack at George Winter Park in Fenton, on the banks of the Meramec River. Wilson, two other members of the Aryan Circle gang and one aspiring member built a bonfire at the park and brought the victim and his girlfriend there. They confronted him about “taking sides” within gang factions, and then Wilson co-defendant Thomas Tisher hit the victim from behind with a piece of wood, Wilson’s plea agreement said. Wilson, Tisher and two others dragged the man to the river bank and began beating him with rocks and sticks and their hands and feet, Wilson’s plea said. One man tried to burn the victim’s Aryan Circle tattoos off with a flaming piece of wood before they left him unconscious. The victim, who is identified in court only by initials, is permanently disfigured. Charges were delayed for years because the victim was initially uncooperative and investigators didn’t realize the gang connection in the attack, court filings said.”

Iran

Al Monitor: Rouhani Slams US ‘Aerial Terrorism’ After Iran Plane Interception

“This is exactly and undoubtedly an act of aerial terrorism,” Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said in condemnation of the US interception of an Iranian Airbus A-310 passenger jet that was flying over Syrian airspace last week. In a strongly worded televised speech July 29, Rouhani added that the United States must be treated as a “terrorist state” because it “harassed passengers” on board the plane. He urged a reaction from the UN Security Council and the International Civil Aviation Organization against the “mischievous” and “unacceptable” move. In its own version of the events, the US Central Command has said two of its F-15 fighter jets conducted a “standard visual inspection” from a safe distance of the plane that belonged to Mahan Air, an airline linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Minutes into the incident, Iran’s state television reported that several passengers on the Beirut-bound flight had been injured as the pilot had to drop altitude by conducting a sudden safety nosedive to avoid the two warplanes. Starting in 2011, the US Treasury has slapped Mahan Air with multiple sanctions over its perceived secret operations assisting the IRGC with weapons smuggling and troops deployment to Syria, a charge that the airline has repeatedly denied.”

Turkey

Yeni Safak: Turkey Launches New Anti-Terror Operation In East

“With 1,006 personnel, Turkey has launched a new anti-terror operation in its eastern Tunceli province, the country's Interior Ministry announced on Wednesday. In a statement, the ministry said Operation Yildirim-4 was launched on Tuesday to “completely eliminate the separatist terror group from the country's agenda and to neutralize terrorists taking shelter in the region.” A total of 1,006 security personnel, including gendarmerie commandos, gendarmerie special operations and police special forces as well as security guards, are taking part in the operation, added the statement. Also, operations Yildirim, Yildirim-2 Cilo, and Yildirim-3 Mt. Agri continue, it noted. As part of these operations launched in July under the coordination of the Interior Ministry, eight terrorists have been neutralized, and 24 caves, shelters, and storages were destroyed, as well as many weapons, ammunition, and food were seized, the statement said. Turkey’s operations against terrorists within the country continue determinedly and successfully with the support of the public, the statement added. In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the US and EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women, children, and infants.”

Afghanistan

Long War Journal: Taliban Tells Fighters Group Is ‘On The Threshold’ Of ‘Pure Islamic Government’

“In his yearly Eid-ul-Adha message, Taliban emir Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada issued a rallying cry to his fighters, saying the Taliban is “on the threshold of establishing an Islamic government” after two decades of fighting. The Taliban has been adamant that the only acceptable outcome for the country is the return of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with Haibatullah at its helm. In his statement, Haibatullah yet again called for the establishment of a “pure Islamic government” and an “Islamic system” for Afghanistan. His message was released on July 28 on Voice of Jihad, the Taliban’s official website. Haibatullah mentioned the return of an “Islamic government,” “pure Islamic government,” and an “Islamic system” five times in his short statement. Now, after signing a so-called ‘peace’ deal with the U.S. that facilitates the Americans’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, Haibatullah says the Taliban is finally close. But contrary to the popular opinion that peace will be at hand once the Taliban conducts “intra-Afghan negotiations,” Haibatullah says that there will be peace once “a pure Islamic government” is established [emphasis ours].”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Pakistani Military Says Soldier Killed In Cross-Border Raid

“Pakistan’s military said militants killed a soldier in a cross-border attack on a security post on Wednesday near the Afghan border. The attack took place in Bajur, a former tribal region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the country's northwest, according to a military statement. It said insurgents attacked the post from across the Afghan border and fled the scene. The military provided no further details. Bajur served as a base for the Taliban and other militants until a few years ago, when the army said it cleared the area of insurgents. However, attacks have continued. Pakistan and Afghanistan share a 2,400-kilometer (1,500-mile) internationally recognized border known as the Durand Line, which was drawn in the 19th century when the British dominated South Asia. Kabul has never recognized the boundary. The two sides also often accuse each other of turning a blind eye to militants operating along the porous frontier.”

Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post: IDF Troops Did Not Kill Hezbollah Operatives In Order To Reduce Tensions

“The IDF soldiers who engaged with the Hezbollah cell that infiltrated into Israel on Monday had been ordered not to kill them, in an attempt to reduce tensions with the Lebanese terror group, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Sources with knowledge of the incident said that the military did not want the terrorists killed in Israeli territory where the IDF would hold onto them, leading to the terror group firing rockets towards the Galilee in retaliation. “If Hezbollah would fire rockets, targeting civilians along with IDF soldiers, we would have no choice but to respond and we would find ourselves in a war,” the source said. According to the IDF, the Hezbollah cell, numbered between three and five armed men, crossed a few hundred meters into Israeli territory before IDF troops opened fire at the operatives, who were seen sprinting back into Lebanese territory. “The terrorists, who are seen armed in the video, crossed the border. They knew where they were,” the source said, adding that they were meters from the IDF’s Gladiola outpost when they were engaged by troops. The Post’s sister publication Maariv reported that the cell had been spotted moving slowly toward Israel and had been under surveillance for several hours before its members crossed into Israel and were engaged by IDF , who fired in their direction to drive them back into Lebanon where they were picked up by a waiting car.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Breaking: Boko Haram Attacks Convoy Of Borno Governor, Zulum, In Baga

“Boko Haram fighters on Wednesday opened fire on the convoy of Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno State, SaharaReporters has gathered. Security sources said that the insurgents attacked the convoy of Zulum at Baga town. The attack comes three months after Ali Modu Sheriff, a former governor of the state, was attacked by the sect along Maiduguri-Damaturu Highway. At least five persons including three policemen were killed in the incident.”

Africa

The Africa Report: Mozambique: Can Cabo Delgado’s Islamist Insurgency Be Stopped?

“The world still has no idea what is happening because of indifference, and because it seems that we have already become accustomed to wars. There is war in Iraq, there is war in Syria and there is also now a war in Mozambique.” In an interview with Club Mozambique, the bishop of Pemba, Luiz Fernando Lisboa, recounts the constant daily struggles in the regional capital of Cabo Delgado.Outside of the province, many people have little idea of the growing violence taking place in Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique that is affecting more than 700,000 people. Northern Mozambique is known for its oil-rich land and also its growing fight against Islamist extremism. The French oil giant Total recently noted that the insurgency will continue to wreak havoc on its planned liquified natural gas project in the province. Since October 2017, 700 civilians have been killed in attacks, at times claimed by the Islamic State armed group or other militants hailing from Kenya and Tanzania who have joined a homegrown group called either Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama or Ansar al-Sunna (meaning ‘supporters of tradition’). That group is often called locally Al-Shabaab, but it has no practical connection to the Somali rebel organisation.”

Europe

Reuters: Belarus Suspects Russian Mercenaries Preparing Acts Of Terrorism: Security Official

“Belarus suspects a group of more than 30 Russian mercenaries it detained of planning “acts of terrorism” in the country, Belarusian Security Council State Secretary Andrey Raukov said on Thursday. Up to 200 mercenaries are still in Belarus and law enforcement agents are looking for them, Raukov told reporters.”

Canada

The Canadian Press: Canada’s Fight Against ISIS Enters New Phase Leading To Fewer Troops In Middle East

“Canada’s war against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has quietly entered a new phase, resulting in plans to keep fewer troops in the Middle East even after the COVID-19 pandemic passes. The Canadian Armed Forces has had up to 850 troops in the region in recent years, including hundreds of military trainers who have been teaching the basics of soldiering to Iraqi forces as part of the global fight against ISIL. The military recalled about half the contingent to Canada in March as COVID-19 spread around the globe, forcing a halt to many military activities. The expectation at the time was that most would return once the threat receded. But Brig.-Gen. Michael Wright, who as commander of Joint Task Force Impact oversees most of the Canadian military’s anti-ISIL efforts, says that won’t be the case after allied commanders determined the Iraqi military is now largely able to fight the militant group on its own. “For Canada and a number of the other nations, some of the soldiers that were retrograded in March will not be coming back because there is no longer a requirement for them to do the more hands-on, tactical-level tasks that they were performing,” Wright said in an interview this week.”

Southeast Asia

Agence France-Presse: Student Arrests In Hong Kong Deepen 'White Terror' Fears

“Hong Kong has fallen into an era of “white terror”, democracy campaigners said Thursday after four students –- one aged just 16 –- were arrested for social media posts deemed to be a threat to China's national security. Wednesday's arrests were the first made by Hong Kong police's new national security unit, which was set up after Beijing imposed a controversial law last month aimed at quashing the city's democracy movement. The arrests added to a deepening sense of dread in Hong Kong that its cherished freedoms on speech -- once thought to be guaranteed under a “One China, Two Systems” model -- are on the way to being eviscerated. The four arrested were former members of Student Localism, a pro-independence group that announced it was disbanding the day before the new national security law was enacted. Police said the three males and one female -- aged between 16 and 21 -- were arrested on suspicion of organising and inciting secession through comments made on social media posts after the law came in. “They wanted to unite all the independent groups in Hong Kong for the view to promote the independence of Hong Kong,” Li Kwai-wah, from the police's new national security unit, told reporters.”

Technology

Cointelegraph: Crypto Scammers Turn Toward Terrorism With a Japanese Bomb Threat

“Crypto terrorists threatened to bomb a government office on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. They told authorities that they would only disable the alleged explosive device if their crypto ransom was paid. According to FNN, the terrorists sent the Numata Town Hall an email stating they had installed a bomb in a women’s second-floor toilet. They claimed that as long as officials met their payment demands before 03:00 UTC on June 29, the bomb would not be detonated.  However, this appears to have been a fake threat. The deadline set by the criminals has passed and the hall remains intact without any further suspicious activity as of press time. Authorities stated that the email arrived during the week of July 20. Locals and people working inside the building claim that they did not notice any suspicious movements from strangers. This seems to reinforce suspicions that the crypto scam relied on a terrorist threat as a way to pressure the government into paying the ransom. In other crypto scam cases in Japan, the ongoing pandemic forced the postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. This has triggered a series of online crypto-related scams, including an email from alleged members of the International Olympic Committee. In these emails, scammers ask unsuspecting victims for donations in Bitcoin (BTC) across the country, as Cointelegraph reported on April 30.”