Eye on Extremism: July 31, 2020

Arab News: US Reveals Key Daesh Money Provider Based In Turkey

“Washington has identified a critical financial facilitator for Daesh based in Turkey in a move to unsettle the remaining global financial networks of the terrorist group. In a statement on Tuesday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said that the Daesh facilitator, Adnan Muhammad Amin Al-Rawi, had materially assisted, sponsored or provided financial, material or technological support for — or goods or services to or in support of — Daesh. “This action coincides with the 13th meeting of the Counter Daesh Finance Group (CIFG), which includes over 60 countries and international organizations, and plays a fundamental role in coordinating efforts to deny Daesh access to the international financial system and eliminate its sources of revenue,” the statement read. The Treasury requires that all property and interests in property of relevant individuals that are in the US or in the possession or control of US persons must be blocked and reported to the OFAC. In the meantime, any foreign financial institution that deliberately conducts or facilitates any substantial transaction on behalf of individuals and entities designated by OFAC is likely to be subject to US sanctions.”

Syria

Associated Press: Report: Car Bomb In North Syria Kills, Wounds Several People

“A car bomb exploded at checkpoint manned by Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters on Thursday in northeastern Syria, killing and wounding several people, Turkish state media and an opposition war monitoring group reported. According to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, the bombing in the village of Tal Halaf killed five people and wounded 12. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the civil war in Syria through a network of activists on the ground, said six people were killed and 15 were wounded in the blast. It said the casualties included Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters. Different casualty figures are common in the immediate aftermath of such attacks. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but Turkey has blamed such deadly explosions in the area in recent months on Kurdish fighters linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged a decades-long insurgency inside Turkey. Ankara views Syrian Kurdish fighters associated with PKK — and the group itself as terrorists — even though the same fighters had partnered with the U.S. in the war against the Islamic State group. After a series of military incursions, Turkey now controls most of Syria’s territory that borders its southern frontier.”

Iraq

Associated Press: Iraq: Since October, 560 Protesters, Police Died In Rallies

“Iraq’s government said Thursday that since last October when anti-government protests erupted in the country, a total of 560 protesters and members of the security forces have been killed in the violence. The figure was reported by Hisham Daoud, an advisor to Iraq’s prime minister, at a press conference in Baghdad. He said a fact-finding committee would investigate the killings further. Also Thursday, Interior Minister Othman al-Ghanimi announced the result of an investigation into the deaths of two protesters at the hands of Iraqi security forces on Sunday. He said that based on eye-witnesses and forensic reports, the protesters — who were taking part in a rally against government's electricity cuts amid Iraq's scorching summer heat — were killed by pellet guns fired by three policemen. The policemen were arrested. Mass anti-government protests erupted last October in Baghdad and Iraq’s south. Tens of thousands of Iraqi youth took to the streets to decry rampant corruption, poor services and unemployment. Hundreds died as security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds. The protests dwindled following restrictive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Turkey

Yeni Safak: Turkey Arrests Nine Suspected Daesh Terrorists

“At least nine suspected Daesh terrorists were arrested in simultaneous operations in southeastern Turkey on Thursday. In a statement, the Diyarbakir Governorship said the suspects were planning to carry out an attack during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. It said police raided various locations to apprehend the suspects and also seized a large number of documents, digital material, a shotgun, and ammunition. In 2013, Turkey was among the first countries to list Daesh as a terrorist group. The country has since been targeted by the group numerous times, with at least 10 suicide attacks, seven bombings, and four armed attacks claiming at least 300 lives and injuring hundreds more. In response, Turkey has launched military and police operations at home and abroad to prevent further terror attacks.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Bombing Kills 18 In Afghanistan On Eve Of Eid Ceasefire

“At least 18 people, including Afghan security forces personnel, were killed in a suspected car-bombing in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, hours before a three-day ceasefire was to begin in the country for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, officials said. The ceasefire, announced by the Taliban, comes at a time violence has risen across the war-torn country as U.S.-brokered peace talks between the militant group and an Afghan government-mandated committee await the completion of a prisoner exchange between the two sides. The Taliban denied responsibility for the bombing in a statement from spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. The explosion targeted Afghan security forces in Pul-e-Alan, the capital of the eastern province of Logar and civilian casualties are also feared, according to Shahpoor Ahmadzai, the spokesman for the provincial police. He added it was unclear whether it was a car or suicide bombing, but that security forces had gathered for duty in the city to prepare for security measures for Eid al-Fitr, which will be celebrated in Afghanistan on Friday. The head of the province’s council, Hasib Stanekkzai, told Reuters it was a car-bombing and put the toll at 18 dead and 22 injured.”

Voice Of America: Report: Taliban Slowly Pushing Afghan Government To The Brink

“U.S. and coalition defense officials fear the Taliban are successfully ratcheting up attacks against the Afghan government, hoping to push it past its breaking point, while often keeping allied forces at bay. The officials, who spoke with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), warn that despite the February agreement between the Taliban and the United States, violence directed at Afghan government forces “stayed well above historic norms” from April through the end of June. The only respite for Afghan forces during that time came during the three-day Eid holiday cease-fire in late May, the officials said, demonstrating “the Taliban’s ability to exert command and control of their fighters.” A separate U.S. Defense Department assessment provided to SIGAR for its quarterly report, released Thursday, was equally blunt. “The Taliban is calibrating its use of violence to harass and undermine the [Afghan defense and security forces] and [the Afghan government], but remain at a level it perceives is within the bounds of the agreement, probably to encourage a U.S. troop withdrawal and set favorable conditions for a post-withdrawal Afghanistan,” it said.”

Lebanon

Haaretz: Hezbollah Failed To Attack Israel, But Made One Significant Achievement

“Kamal Mohsen Jawad, the Lebanese fighter whose death in a Damascus bombing raid sparked the current tension on Israel’s northern border, was not exactly a rising star in the Hezbollah firmament. Jawad, who hailed from the South Lebanon village of Itit, had served in the Shi’ite organization in the past. But a few years ago he was loaned to the relief bureau, a subunit of the Lebanon Corps in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The two Lebanese who were killed a year ago in an Israeli attack in Syria – which triggered tension between the sides last August – had followed a similar track. All in all, Hezbollah apparently does not loan its outstanding people to the Iranians, but rather those it can get along without. But in their death they are reclaimed by the organization, and the secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, heaps the appropriate honors on them. Jawad was originally given a specific assignment in the Revolutionary Guards, having to do with regularizing arms smuggling from Iran to Lebanon via Syria. When that proved difficult for him, he was reassigned. Which, it would seem, is how he found himself, in the early hours of July 21, at a site that was bombed at Damascus’ international airport.”

Middle East

The National: Al Qaeda Gaining Strength As Terror Fight Focuses On ISIS

“Tackling extremist online terrorist messages must remain a priority for security services as ISIS continues to pose a threat, according to an EU crime report. The EU Internet Referral Unit (IRU) report for 2019 said that Al Qaeda had gained followers because counter-terrorism efforts were focused on ISIS. “Propaganda disseminated online by both ISIS and Al Qaeda – although less readily accessible thanks to disruptive action carried out jointly by EU member states and the EU IRU – continues to inspire and incite lone attacks by individuals who have no physical connections to either group,” the report said. “Combating the terrorist groups’ media reach, limiting their ability to carry out attacks, and attributing online terrorist offences through heightened international co-operation should therefore remain a priority.” The report, which was published by the European crime agency Europol, said ISIS launched a media campaign and sent 15 videos from June to September last year. They showed fighters renewing their allegiance to former leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. A second media campaign was co-ordinated in the aftermath of the declaration of Amir Mohammed Al Mawla as the group's new leader and included endorsements from ISIS provinces.”

Africa

The New York Times: The Dictator Who Waged War On Darfur Is Gone, But The Killing Goes On

“On camels, horses and motorbikes, dozens of Arab militiamen stormed into the remote village in Darfur, in western Sudan, firing wildly, witnesses said. Houses were pillaged, animals stolen and water tanks smashed. Villagers ran for their lives. United Nations peacekeepers scrambled to the scene but said they found the road blocked by obstacles placed in their way, and continued on foot. When they arrived after two and a half hours, it was too late. At least nine people lay dead, including a 15-year-old boy, and another 20 were seriously wounded, according to the United Nations. The attack in Fata Bornu, a remote hamlet of 4,000 people, echoes the grimmest days of the Darfur conflict in the 2000s. But it happened just this month — over a year since euphoric protests toppled Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the detested dictator whose alleged atrocities in Darfur earned him an indictment on genocide charges in an international court. Now Mr. al-Bashir languishes in jail and Sudan is run by a joint civilian-military government that has promised to usher in a new era of democracy, and finally — after 17 years of suffering — bring peace to Darfur.”

Voice Of America: 9 Civilians Die In Two Attacks In Northern Mozambique

“At least nine civilians were killed in new attacks carried out by Islamist insurgents in the restive province of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, local sources said. The attacks on the districts of Mocimboa da Praia and Macomia of Cabo Delgado on Wednesday forced the local population to flee their homes, seeking safety in nearby woods, residents told VOA. A group of armed men “hooded with Islamic handkerchiefs” invaded the village of Tandacua in Macomia, searching for food, according to a local resident. The insurgents “arrived around 6 in the evening [local time], so many residents fled the village,” the resident, who declined to give his name, told VOA. “When we returned the next day, we found eight dead people who were beheaded,” the resident said, adding that “the security situation is getting more complicated.” On Tuesday, Islamist militants entered the district of Mocimboa da Praia, killing one civilian at a flour mill before seizing food and livestock. The insurgents “entered Mocimboa da Praia twice this week,” said Zunaid, a Mocimboa da Praia resident who gave only his first name. “After they killed a man on Tuesday and left, they went in again [on Wednesday] to steal more food,” he told VOA.”

Agence France-Presse: Pompeo Says Ending Sudan Terror Listing A 'Good Thing'

“US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday he wants to delist Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, seeing a historic opportunity in its civilian transition. Pompeo has repeatedly indicated that the State Department hopes to remove the designation, which severely impedes investment to Sudan, but disputes have arisen on a compensation package over the 1998 bombings of two US embassies. Pompeo told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that legislation on a settlement should come before Congress “in the very, very near term.” “I think lifting the state sponsor of terrorism designation there if we can... take care of the victims of those tragedies would be a good thing for American foreign policy,” Pompeo said. Pompeo said that the fall of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir following mass protests and the nearly year-old government of a civilian prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, marked “an opportunity that doesn't come along often.” “There's a chance not only for a democracy to begin to be built out, but perhaps regional opportunities that could flow from that as well,” he said. Bashir had welcomed Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and Sudan was accused of aiding jihadists who blew up the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people and injuring around 5,000 others.”

United Kingdom

The Telegraph: Pompeo Says Expects 'Good Outcome Within Weeks' In Isil Beatles Case

“Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, has said he is hopeful of a “good outcome” in the coming weeks in the case of Islamic State suspects The Beatles, raising the prospect the US could be preparing to extradite the pair for trial...”

The Independent: Terror Offender Loses Court Battle Against Law Stopping Automatic Release From Prison

“A convicted terror offender has lost a legal battle against a new law that stopped him being automatically released from prison halfway through his sentence. Lawyers representing Isis supporter Mohammed Zahir Khan argued that the change, which caused his release to be delayed from March to November at the earliest, violated his human rights. But two High Court judges rejected their arguments on Thursday and threw out Khan’s application for judicial review. In a written judgment, Lord Justice Fulford and Justice Garnham said it was “logical and rational” for the government to change early release arrangements for terror offenders after the attacks in Streatham and London Bridge. “The risk such offenders posed reflected not only the likelihood of further offending of a similar nature, but also the potentially serious consequences of the risk eventuating,” they added. “In those circumstances, in our judgment, keeping terrorist prisoners in custody for a longer proportion of their sentence, and requiring Parole Board approval before early release, was an entirely legitimate response.” Hugh Southey QC, representing Khan, previously told the court that new provisions breached the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).”

Germany

Daily Sabah: German Elite Commando Forces Dismantled Due To Right-Wing Extremism Concerns

“A company belonging to the German army's elite Special Commando Forces (KSK) has been dismantled following allegations of right-wing extremism, a Defence Ministry spokesperson told dpa Thursday. The second company of the Bundeswehr's KSK was dismantled following an appeal at the KSK barracks located in Calw in Baden-Wuerttemberg, with some soldiers transferred to other KSK companies, the spokesperson said. Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had announced the step four weeks earlier as part of wider measures to halt right-wing extremism within the KSK forces, which are trained for special operations, such as freeing hostages, after several incidents had caused a scandal. Out of the four KSK companies, the second had come under fire for organizing a party in April 2017 during which soldiers threw around a pig's heads while listening to extreme-right rock music and making the Hitler salute, which is banned in Germany. In May 2020, police found explosives and ammunition stashed on the property of a soldier of the second company.”

Southeast Asia

Associated Press: 12 Dead As Philippine Troops Battle Militants In South

“Philippine troops clashed with Muslim guerrillas allied with the Islamic State group in the country’s south, leaving two soldiers and about 10 militants dead, military officials said Thursday. An army infantry force raided a remote camp belonging to the Dawlah Islamiyah on Wednesday near Datu Salibo town in Maguindanao province, sparking an exchange of fire. Gunmen in nearby areas reinforced the militants under army fire in the marshland, prolonging the battle and preventing government forces from capturing more members of the militant group led by rebel commander Hassan Indal, regional army spokesman Lt. Col. Dingdong Atilano said. Two soldiers were killed and 13 others were slightly wounded in the clash, which left at least 10 militants dead, Atilano said, citing reports from troops and villagers. Most of the militants broke off many years ago from the largest Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The rebel front’s leaders are now helping oversee a new Muslim autonomous region after signing a peace deal with the government in 2014.”

Al Jazeera: Bangladesh Arrests 3 In Police Station Blast, Denies ISIL Link

“Authorities in Bangladesh say they have arrested three suspects in the bombing of a police station in the capital, Dhaka. Five people, including four police officers, were wounded when the bomb, which was hidden inside a device that looked like a weighing machine, went off inside the Pallabi police station on Wednesday morning. ISIL (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the blast in a statement the same day, but police on Thursday denied the claim, saying the alleged attackers were motivated by criminal intent. Dhaka Metropolitan Police Additional Commissioner Krishna Pada Roy said the three men were arrested on Wednesday. Police also found two loaded firearms and another suspicious-looking device, he added. Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner for Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime Saiful Islam denied any links between ISIL and the blast. “ISIL made this kind of false claim in the past, too. This is also part of that process,” he said. “As per the information available so far, criminal intentions were behind the blast and we're investigating the incident.” On July 1, 2016, five attackers took hostages and opened fire in a Dhaka cafe, killing more than 20 people, mostly foreigners.”

Technology

The Sacramento Bee: Amazon Still Selling Merchandise For Far-Right Groups With ‘A Track Record Of Violence’

“At Black Lives Matter protests around the country, heavily armed groups of counter-protesters have shown up wearing military fatigues, Hawaiian-print shirts, and tactical vests decorated with patches that represent far-right extremist groups. Some of them may have purchased their gear from Amazon. The world’s largest online retailer continues to sell merchandise affiliated with the so-called Boogaloos, Three Percenters, and Oath Keepers even after removing items that represented hate symbols following an investigation by the BBC. After the investigation, Amazon removed merchandise that included a burning rainbow flag and a flag with the white supremacist version of the Celtic Cross, the BBC reported on Saturday. Amazon also removed much of the Boogaloo merchandise. But a “Thin Boog Line” patch was still available on the website on Thursday, along with a Boogaloo trucker hat. The BBC’s investigation did not include products that advertised the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers, two of the three core components of the anti-government militia movement, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.”