Eye on Extremism: July 8, 2024

Voice Of America: Key Islamic State Commander Reported Killed In Afghanistan

“Taliban security forces in Afghanistan claimed Sunday that they had killed a key Islamic State commander in an eastern province bordering Pakistan. An official Taliban media outlet reported that counter-terrorism forces in Nangarhar had raided a hideout of Islamic State Khorasan, also known as IS-K, an Afghan-based affiliate of the transnational extremist group. The Al-Mersaad outlet said that Sunday’s action had resulted in the killing of “Zakirullah … known as Abu Sher” and identified him as IS Khorasan’s military leader for the border province’s Achin district. The media report said “Taliban special forces” had concluded the operation in the Mohmand Dara district. It was not possible to verify Al-Mersaad’s claims from independent sources, nor have Taliban government officials commented on the operation in a province where IS Khorasan launched its extremist activities in Afghanistan and the region at large in 2015, with Achin as its headquarters.”

Reuters: Israel Says It Killed Hezbollah Operative In Eastern Lebanon

“Israel's army said on Saturday it killed a key operative in Hezbollah's Aerial Defence Unit in eastern Lebanon, accusing him of carrying out numerous attacks against Israelis. In a statement, the army identified the Hezbollah member as Meitham Mustafa Altaar, saying that he had visited Iran several times, "where he gained knowledge and assisted in building up Hezbollah's force and arsenal of Iranian weapons." Lebanese state media said Altaar's car was attacked in a drone strike in the town of Shaath, north of Lebanon's eastern city of Baalbek. Hezbollah confirmed the killing of the 33-year-old but did not specify his role in the movement. The Iran-backed group and Israel have been trading fire for nearly nine months in hostilities that have played out in parallel to the Gaza conflict, raising fears of an all-out war between the heavily armed adversaries. Hezbollah has said its campaign of rocket and drone attacks on northern Israel has aimed to support Palestinians under Israeli bombardment in Gaza.”

CEP Mentions

Jewish Standard: Defining Antisemitism

“Last week, after two days of hearings, a New Jersey bill that would establish a statewide definition of antisemitism based on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition, and another that would require that definitions of antisemitism and Islamophobia be included in the state’s diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, cleared a state Senate committee. Josh Lipowsky of Bergen County is a senior research analyst for the Counter Extremism Project. The CEP’s goal is to create a central address where people can go to learn about all forms of extremism and become better equipped to combat the growing trend of extremism around the world, he said. “We look at all forms of extremism, whether it’s Islamist, right wing, left wing, white supremacist, so we cover the entire gamut.””

The Spectator: Can Sinn Fein Win The UK’s Most Marginal Constituency Again?

“It’s Monday afternoon and I’m walking through the estate where I was born on the outskirts of Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. Here in the United Kingdom’s most westerly and most marginal constituency, politics continues to be war by other means. The Unionist marching season beckons and as well as the usual red white and blue bunting, there are a sea of Israeli flags fluttering in the drizzle. Across town, in nationalist estates, Palestinian flags abound. These adopted tribal identities epitomise the immutable sectarian character of the competition for the seat in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. While Northern Ireland is slowly becoming a more homogenous society and progressive politics makes progress in the urban east, out here on the rural edge of the union, it’s different.”

The Spectator: There Is No Quick Fix For Britain’s Overcrowded Prisons

“Imagine the scene. It’s Friday morning and the new Secretary of State for Justice, Shabana Mahmood, has just slipped into the big chair. Her predecessor has left her a note on the desk, ‘I’m afraid there is no cell space. Kind regards – and good luck! Alex.’ With prison capacity running at 99 per cent and new jails still on the far horizon, the first priority of the new Lord Chancellor is to stop the criminal justice system grinding to a halt. Keir Starmer, aware that the shelf life of ‘inherited mess’ will be brutally short, has gone on TV to prepare public opinion for the emergency early release of prisoners to continue and go even further. The party’s tough on crime poetry pre-election will collide with the prosaic reality of full, anarchic prisons.”

The Spectator: The Complete Guide To Labour’s Cabinet

“Keir Starmer has appointed his cabinet, but who are the men and women who will be running Britain? The Spectator‘s writers, including Katy Balls, Kate Andrews and James Heale give the run down on Labour’s top team. […] Ian Acheson: Yvette Cooper has two enormous challenges that can’t wait for a honeymoon. The first is making her Border Command, the latest iteration in a long line of failed initiatives on controlling illegal migration, actually deliver. The second is restoring the status and importance of community policing in neighbourhoods marooned in criminal impunity with demoralised cops leaving in droves. Both require agility and energy from a Home Office with neither. Her formidable toughness needs to be turned inward. This is a hot seat on fire.”

Daily Mail: Keir Starmer Admits Labour Will ‘In All Likelihood Continue Releasing Prisoners Early Amid Fears Jails Will Run Out Of Space Soon After The Election

“Sir Keir Starmer has admitted he will almost certainly have to keep releasing prisoners early if elected Prime Minister amid fears jails will run out of space within days of the election. The Labour leader conceded that 'in all likelihood' the policy being pursued by the current government would remain in place. Britain's prison estate is severely overcrowded and numerous recent inspections have warned of dangerous conditions within jails due to staffing issues, endemic violence and widespread drug use. […] Read More: Inside our failing jails: Former prison governor IAN ACHESON reveals a system gripped by violence, rampant drug taking and radicalisation”


Reuters: Canada Police Charge Syrian Returnee With Terrorism Offenses

“Canadian police said on Saturday they had charged a returnee from Syria with terrorism-related offenses after an investigation into allegations that she had gone to join the Islamic State group. Kimberly Polman, 51, was charged with two counts of leaving Canada to participate in the activity of a terrorist group and participation in the activity of a terrorist group, the police said in a statement. The charges under Section 83 of the Criminal Code stem from the investigation into the allegations Polman traveled to Syria from Canada in 2015 to join ISIS, police said. She was repatriated to Canada in 2022 but not charged criminally, her lawyer said at the time.”


Associated Press: Special Adviser To Syrian President Assad Dies Following Car Crash Under Unclear Circumstances

“A close adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad has died after a car accident left her hospitalized for four days, the president’s office said Friday in a statement. Luna al-Shibl, a former journalist, had worked as the director of Assad’s political and media offices and as a special adviser to the president. She was slapped with U.S. sanctions in 2020 along with five other Syrian military, government and financial officials, and later was also sanctioned by the United Kingdom. Syria’s state-run news agency SANA reported Tuesday that al-Shibl had been in an accident that “caused the car she was in to swerve off the road, and she was subjected to several collisions.” She was hospitalized in Damascus and admitted to intensive care with “severe injuries” including a head hemorrhage. The U.K.-based opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported at the time that another car had hit al-Shibl and its driver was arrested”


Time: Why Pakistan-Afghanistan Tensions Are Soaring

“Tensions between neighbors Pakistan and Afghanistan are running high as the Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said this week that his country plans to continue launching cross-border attacks as part of a new military operation to curb terrorism. The comments mark a notable shift for Pakistani officials who, until now, had only admitted to one such cross-border strike in March.  “We won’t serve them with cake and pastries. If attacked, we’ll attack back,” Asif told the BBC. Pakistan has experienced a surge in violence since the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, unilaterally ended a ceasefire with Islamabad in November 2022. Last year alone, more than 700 attacks killed nearly 1,000 people. The Pakistani government accuses the Afghan Taliban of providing a safe haven to the TTP.”

Saudi Arabia

The New York Times: Netflix Show Earns Its Saudi Creator Plaudits, And A Prison Sentence

“From the outside, the past few years looked like the peak of Abdulaziz Almuzaini’s career. As the head of an animation studio in Saudi Arabia, he signed a five-year deal with Netflix in 2020. A sardonic cartoon franchise that he helped create, “Masameer,” likened to a Saudi version of “South Park,” was soon streaming to audiences around the world. And as the conservative Islamic kingdom loosened up, Mr. Almuzaini was being publicly celebrated — as recently as a few months ago — as one of the homegrown talents shaping its nascent entertainment industry. Behind the scenes, though, he was on trial in an opaque national security court, as Saudi prosecutors — who accused him of promoting extremism through the cartoon series and social media posts — sought to ensure that he would spend the rest of his life in prison or under a travel ban.”


Reuters: Hezbollah Launches Drone Attack On Mount Hermon In Israeli-Occupied Syrian Golan Heights

“The Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group said on Sunday it launched a drone attack on Mount Hermon in the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights where Israel has a key surveillance centre. It said this was its first such bombing since it began trading fire with Israel on Oct. 8, a day after its Palestinian ally Hamas attacked southern Israel, sparking the Gaza war. Hezbollah says it would halt operations only when the war ends. . Although it had hit other areas in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights repeatedly, Lebanon's Hezbollah said it was the first time to hit the military target that is at the highest elevation in the Israeli-controlled territory. Israel has key surveillance, espionage and air defence installations on Mount Hermon where it overlooks the Syrian capital and serves to monitor Syria, Iraq, Jordan and parts of Saudi Arabia since the 1973 Oct. Arab-Israeli war.”

Middle East

Reuters: Israeli Tanks Storm Gaza City Districts, Residents Report Heavy Fire

“Israeli forces bombarded Gaza City early on Monday and columns of tanks advanced into the heart of the city from different directions in what residents said was one of the heaviest attacks in the Palestinian territory since the start of the war. The Gaza Civil Emergency Service said it believed dozens of people were killed but emergency teams were unable to reach them because of ongoing offensives in Daraj and Tuffah in the east and Tel Al-Hawa, Sabra and Rimal further west. Residents said neighbourhoods in Gaza City, which lies in the north of the Gaza Strip, had been bombed throughout the night into the early morning hours. Several multi-floor buildings have been destroyed, they added. One Israeli tank thrust pushed people towards the western road near the Mediterranean, residents said. "The enemy is behind us and the sea is in front of us, where we will we go?" said Abdel-Ghani, one Gaza City resident, who did not give his full name.”

BBC: Senior Hamas Official Killed As Israel Orders Fresh Evacuation

“A senior Hamas administration official was among four people killed in an Israeli air strike at a school in Gaza City, Palestinian sources say. A local official told the BBC that Ehab Al-Ghussein was appointed to manage the affairs of the Hamas government in Gaza City and northern Gaza three months ago. The Israeli army says that it carried out a strike on the area of a school building in Gaza City from which it says "terrorists were operating and hiding". It says that it took steps to minimise the risk of civilians being harmed. Eyewitnesses say the attack targeted the Holy Family School next to the Holy Family Church to the west of Gaza city. A large number of people were sheltering in the building, the BBC understands. The air strike targeted two classrooms on the ground floor, they said. Ehab Al-Ghussein was formerly deputy labour minister in the Hamas administration and before that an interior ministry spokesman.”

Associated Press: Gaza Destruction Likely Helped Push Hamas To Soften Cease-Fire Demands, Several Officials Say

“Several officials in the Middle East and the U.S. believe the level of devastation in the Gaza Strip caused by a nine-month Israeli offensive likely has helped push Hamas to soften its demands for a cease-fire agreement. Hamas over the weekend appeared to drop its longstanding demand that Israel promise to end the war as part of any cease-fire deal. The sudden shift has raised new hopes for progress in internationally brokered negotiations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday boasted that military pressure — including Israel’s ongoing two-month offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah — “is what has led Hamas to enter negotiations.” Hamas, an Islamic militant group that seeks Israel’s destruction and took control of Gaza in 2007, is highly secretive and little is known about its inner workings.”


Reuters: Deadly Attacks In Nigerian Town A Reminder Of Boko Haram Threat

“When Nigerian Adamu Buba saw a woman in a torn hijab at his friend's wedding last Saturday, he asked two colleagues to serve her food. Moments later, while taking photos of the bride and groom, he heard a loud blast that knocked him to the ground. The woman in the hijab detonated explosives strapped on her back, killing herself and 10 others. Buba lay bleeding and disoriented. "All I could see were dead bodies on the ground and body parts all around," said the 34-year-old Buba from a hospital bed in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state in northeast Nigeria. The bride and groom survived. This was the first of four suspected suicide bombings in the past week by women that also targeted a funeral for victims, a hospital and a security checkpoint, which authorities say killed up to 32 people in Gwoza town in Borno, the heartland of an Islamist insurgency. No group claimed responsibility.”

Associated Press: Nigeria Claims It Has Degraded Extremists. New Suicide Bombings Suggest They Remain Potent

“For the first time since 2020, three female suicide bombers attacked the Nigerian border town of Gwoza, where Boko Haram extremists declared a short-lived caliphate 10 years ago, signaling that the world’s longest war on militancy is still ongoing. This came two days after officials touted success in their war against extremists, with Nigeria’s military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Edward Buba telling reporters the often-used phrase: “We have greatly degraded the terrorists.” The first of the three coordinated suicide bombings on June 30 targeted a well-attended wedding, the second was detonated at the victims’ funeral and the the third at a hospital attending to the injured. At least 32 people in total were killed in the attacks, including nine family members and friends of Mohammed Kehaya, a resident who is now worried about his safety in the state of Borno, a hotbed of Islamic militancy, where extremists once kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls in 2014.”


Associated Press: Iranian-Born Norwegian Man Found Guilty In 2022 Oslo LGBT+ Festival Attack, Sentenced To 30 Years

“An Iranian-born Norwegian man was found guilty of terrorism on Thursday in a 2022 attack on an LGBTQ+ festival in Oslo and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Two people were killed and nine were seriously wounded in the shooting at three locations, chiefly outside the London Pub, a popular gay bar, on June 25, 2022. The Oslo District Court said Zaniar shot 10 rounds with a machine gun and eight shots with a handgun into the crowd. It said Matapour had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State group and “has been radicalized for several years.” His 30-year sentence was the highest penalty in Norway since terror legislation was changed in 2015. Matapour can request parole after 20 years but can only be released if he is deemed no longer dangerous.”

Southeast Asia

Retuers: Southeast Asian Militant Group Jemaah Islamiyah To Be Disbanded, Say Its Senior Leaders

“Senior members of Jemaah Islamiyah, the Southeast Asian militant network blamed for the deadly Bali bombings, have announced they are disbanding the group, according to a report by a Jakarta-based think tank on Thursday. The report from the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), confirmed the authenticity of a June 30 video statement by sixteen Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leaders announcing they were dissolving the extremist network. In the statement, captured on video and shared online, the leaders confirmed their commitment to the Indonesian state and law, and said all material taught in JI-affiliated boarding schools would be in line with orthodox Islam. "It is too early to say what the consequences are, but the men who signed the statement have enough respect and credibility within the organisation to ensure widespread acceptance," said Sidney Jones, who authored IPAC's preliminary analysis. The Al-Qaeda linked militant group is accused of orchestrating some of the deadliest attacks in Indonesia, including the 2002 bombing of Bali nightclubs that killed more than 200 people.”


Bloomberg: China, UAE Said In Talks To Increase Flights Between Two Nations

“China and the United Arab Emirates are seeking to increase bilateral air traffic rights after years of stagnant travel growth, a move that would seek to boost trade and tourism between the two nations. Officials from both sides will meet in Beijing in coming weeks to discuss granting airlines increases in flights between the two nations, according to people familiar with the matter. Both China and the UAE want more connections after links were exhausted at 56 flights per country per week, said the people, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private. No specific increase has been determined, one of the people said, and the exact outcome of the talks isn’t certain. The Civil Aviation Administration of China didn’t respond to a request for comment."

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

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