Eye on Extremism: Jun 22, 2020

The New York Times: Stabbing At U.K. Park Is Declared A ‘Terrorist Incident’

“A stabbing attack at a park in southern England that left three people dead on Saturday is being investigated as a “terrorist incident,” police officials said Sunday. The attack happened around 7 p.m. at Forbury Gardens in the town of Reading, the Thames Valley Police said. A Black Lives Matter protest had been held there earlier in the day, though the police said earlier that the stabbings were not connected to the demonstration. Three people were killed in the attack and three more were seriously injured, the police said. A 25-year-old man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder on Saturday and remained in custody on Sunday. “Incidents of this nature are very rare, though I know that will be of little comfort to those involved and understand the concern that this incident will have caused amongst our local community,” Chief Constable John Campbell said in a statement on Sunday. The Thames Valley Police said that counterterrorism units would be taking over the investigation. Britain’s Counter Terrorism Policing said in a statement on Sunday that there was nothing to suggest that other people were involved. Neil Basu, who heads the group and is an assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that “the motivation for this heinous act is far from certain.”

NPR: Vehicle Attacks Rise As Extremists Target Protesters

“Right-wing extremists are turning cars into weapons, with reports of at least 50 vehicle-ramming incidents since protests against police violence erupted nationwide in late May. At least 18 are categorized as deliberate attacks; another two dozen are unclear as to motivation or are still under investigation, according to a count released Friday by Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago's Chicago Project on Security and Threats. Weil has tracked vehicle-ramming attacks, or VRAs, since protests began. The 20 people facing prosecution in the rammings include a state leader of the Virginia Ku Klux Klan, as well as a California man who was charged with attempted murder after antagonizing protesters and then driving into them, striking a teenage girl. Video footage of some attacks shows drivers yelling at or threatening Black Lives Matter protesters before hitting the gas. By subscribing, you agree to NPR's terms of use and privacy policy. NPR may share your name and email address with your NPR station. See Details. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. "The message they're trying to send is, 'You need to get out of the street and stop these protests,' " Weil said.”

United States

The New York Times: The Lapses That Let A Saudi Extremist Shoot Up A U.S. Navy Base

“President Trump stepped before the cameras at a White House news conference less than a month after his inaugural and declared that he was already taking bold steps to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out of the United States. “Our citizens will be very happy when they see the result,” Mr. Trump said, foreshadowing orders he would issue requiring tougher screening of visa applicants. “Extreme vetting will be put in place.” But that “extreme vetting” did not stop precisely the sort of person Mr. Trump’s policy was supposed to root out: Second Lt. Mohammed Alshamrani of Saudi Arabia, a 21-year-old Qaeda loyalist who was part of a prestigious training program at the naval air station in Pensacola, Fla. This past December, Lieutenant Alshamrani opened fire in a classroom building at the base, killing three sailors and wounding eight other people before being fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies. The episode, one in an alarming series of insider attacks on U.S. military bases, forced American officials to acknowledge serious problems in their vetting systems and pledge reforms. But a New York Times review reveals lapses far more extensive than previously known in how international military students are selected, screened and monitored once in the United States.”

Politico: Intel Report Warns That Far-Right Extremists May Target Washington, D.C.

“The Trump administration is warning law enforcement and public safety officials that a far-right extremist movement known as “boogaloo” may be setting its sights on the nation’s capital. On Monday, the National Capital Region Threat Intelligence Consortium, a fusion center for Washington, D.C., that provides support to federal national security and law enforcement agencies, warned in an intelligence assessment that “the District is likely an attractive target for violent adherents of the boogaloo ideology due to the significant presence of US law enforcement entities, and the wide range of First Amendment-Protected events hosted here.” The assessment, dated June 15 and obtained by POLITICO, reported that “recent events indicate violent adherents of the boogaloo ideology likely reside in the National Capital Region, and others may be willing to travel far distances to incite civil unrest or conduct violence encouraged in online forums associated with the movement.” A senior DHS official forwarded the assessment to security stakeholders on Friday, noting that “while it identifies Washington D.C. as an attractive target, the boogaloo ideology is not restricted to a specific region and those who wish to cause division are routinely using peaceful protests as means of cover.”

Foreign Policy: Trump Wants To Label Antifa A Terrorist Organization. What About The KKK?

“Some say Ku Klux was chosen as the name for the U.S. white supremacist organization because it mimics the sound of a rifle being cocked, though other evidence points to the appeal of the Greek word kyklos, which means circle. That was essentially the goal of the defeated Confederate soldiers who formed the Ku Klux Klan in 1865—to encircle or kill Black Americans. As the klan grew in power, it made its intentions publicly clear: promoting Confederate jingoism; pushing back on Reconstruction-era rights; performing terrorist raids to intimidate; destructing property, especially churches; assaulting; taunting; lynching; hanging; and dragging the bodies of Black men behind cars. These acts were carried out to promote white supremacy and also for gaining political power. In the months and years after the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution were passed—abolishing slavery and guaranteeing basic rights to the formerly enslaved—it became clear to the federal government that forcible action against KKK-led terrorism would be necessary if the newly enacted rights and protections were to have any impact. By 1871, Congress passed a series of enforcement acts that broadened the federal government’s powers to oversee elections and allowed the U.S. military to use force to stop the KKK.”

Iraq

Voice Of America: Coalition Aircraft Destroys Islamic State Camps In Iraq

“The U.S. military’s Central Command says three known Islamic State hiding places have been destroyed in rural Iraq. In a statement the command says aircraft from the anti-ISIS coalition known as Operation Inherent Resolve, in coordination with the Iraqi government, hit the camps Friday in Wadi al-Shai in a rural Kirkuk province, about 26 kilometers west of Iraq’s Tuz Khurmatu. “Blowing up ISIS hideouts,” said Col. Myles B. Caggins III, a Coalition spokesman, “ultimately results in security in cities and villages.” He added that each Coalition airstrike is done at the request of the Iraqi government “to help achieve a permanent defeat” of the militants. Fighters and followers of the Islamic State, undaunted by the collapse of the terror group’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria, are growing bolder and more dangerous, according to recent assessments by U.S. counterterrorism officials.”

Turkey

Al Monitor: Turkish NBA Player's Father Acquitted Of Terrorism Charges In Turkey

“Turkish basketball player Enes Kanter said today that his father has been exonerated of charges brought against him by the Turkish government. Kanter, a 28-year-old center for the Boston Celtics, is an outspoken critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The NBA player also supports Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for the 2016 coup attempt. Kanter’s father, Mehmet Kanter, was briefly detained in 2017 on terrorism charges related to Gulen, which he denied. Mehmet Kanter’s passport was also taken away. The older Kanter was acquitted of the charges Thursday. Enes Kanter celebrated the news on Twitter, saying it was due to pressure on the Turkish government. “My dad has been released,” said Enes Kanter. “This is due to the pressure we have put on the Turkish regime.” Enes Kanter has had a complicated relationship with his home country. His passport was revoked in 2017 amid his criticisms of the government and support for Gulen. Last year, he skipped a trip to London with his former team, the New York Knicks, fearing Turkish authorities could have him arrested there. Enes Kanter is now seeking US citizenship. The ordeal has complicated Enes Kanter’s relationship with his family as well.”

Afghanistan

Daily Sabah: Taliban Kidnap 60 Civilians In Afghanistan In A Week

“Taliban militants kidnapped about 60 civilians in central Afghanistan over the past week, officials said Sunday, with more than half still being held amid efforts by the United States and other foreign powers to start peace talks. The Taliban took the hostages in the central province of Daikundi after a women escaped a Taliban-controlled village in a neighboring province, according to the provincial deputy governor, Mohammad Ali Uruzgani. Some 26, including women and children, had been released and tribal elders were mediating to free the remaining civilians, Uruzgani added. A Taliban spokesman denied kidnapping the civilians. The militants, fighting to retake control after their 2001 ouster from power, signed a troop withdrawal agreement with the United States in February, which was designed to pave the way for peace talks with the Afghan government. But violence has ramped up since the agreement and discord over the release of Taliban prisoners has hampered progress on formal talks. Underscoring the tension, a spokesman for the national security council said the Taliban had killed more than 40 civilians around the country in the past week. “The Taliban have failed to deliver on promises of reducing violence against the Afghan people and working for peace,” spokesman Javid Faisal said on Twitter.”

Saudi Arabia

Arab News: Saudi Arabia Chairs UN Counter-Terrorism Meeting

“Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, on Sunday chaired the 20th meeting — held virtually — of the advisory board of the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT). The meeting discussed the 2019 annual report and the report on UNCCT's most important projects during the first quarter of 2020. It reviewed the programs of UNCCT, “supporting member states in the prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals suspected or convicted of committing terrorist acts, including foreign terrorist fighters and their families.” The meeting also watched a presentation on UNCCT’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting was attended by the undersecretary-general of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), Vladimir Voronkov, the director of UNCCT, Jehangir Khan, and a Saudi delegation. The advisory board is formed by 21 member states. along with the EU as a guest member, and is chaired by Saudi Arabia. The board provides advice to UNCCT, which was established with the help and support of Saudi Arabia. The centre updates the advisory board on the progress in the implementation of its programs and projects on a quarterly basis.”

Lebanon

Jewish News Syndicate: US To Grant Hezbollah Financier Early Release From Prison

“The United States plans to release convicted Hezbollah financier Kassim Tajideen three years into his five-year sentence, due to poor health and the risk of COVID-19 infection in prison, according to court documents. Tajideen, 64, is a Lebanese-Belgian citizen and multi-millionaire, whom the U.S.  Treasury’s placed on its list of “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” in 2009. He was sentenced to five years in an American jail in 2019. Washington Federal District Court Judge Reggie Walton accepted Tajideen’s emergency request for compassionate release on May 28, rejecting the Justice Department’s argument that he was in decent health, AFP reported. According to the report, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement said in a court filing that Tajideen is scheduled to be on a charter flight to Lebanon in July. The report also states that his lawyer denies claims that his release could be part of a prisoner-swap deal—in exchange for the release from Lebanon in March of American-Lebanese Amer al-Fakhoury, formerly a member of a pro-Israel militia who was accused of torturing prisoners. The Counter Extremism Project reports that “Tajideen was arrested on an INTERPOL warrant five days after his indictment at Casablanca’s airport in Morocco while traveling from Guinea to Beirut.”

Egypt

Egypt Today: Egyptian Court Sentences 13 ‘Nusra’ Convicts To Life Over Joining Terrorist Group

“The Cairo Criminal Court on Sunday handed life imprisonment sentence to 13 people over joining a terrorist group and ordered placing 16 defendants in the case on terror lists. The court also sentenced 3 others in the case known in media as “Jabhat Al-Nusra Organization” to 15 years in prison. The 16 defendants in the case face accusations of joining an extremist group that adopts takfiri thoughts between 2011 and 2014 in the Egyptian city of El-Mahalla El-Kubra, north of the country. They also face accusations of leading a terrorist group that aims at obstructing the Constitution and laws, avoiding state institutions and general authorities from practicing their duties and assaulting personal freedom and public rights provided by the Constitution. Earlier in June, Cairo Criminal Court has sentenced three out of 11 defendants accused of attempting to assassinate Alexandria’s security director to death in 2018, ahead of the latest presidential elections, upholding a January ruling. The other eight defendants were handed life imprisonment sentences (25 years in prison) and were placed on the state's terrorism list. In March 2018, Security Director Mustafa El-Nemr survived a massive explosion that targeted his convoy at Rushdy district in the center of the Mediterranean Alexandria governorate.”

Libya

The Telegraph: Libya Associated With A Long Litany Of Terror Attacks On The West

“Libya has been implicated in some of the most infamous terrorist atrocities of recent decades including the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and the suicide attack on the Manchester Arena three years ago. Britain broke off diplomatic relations with Tripoli in 1984 after the Metropolitan Police officer, Yvonne Fletcher, was shot dead outside the Libyan embassy in London during anti-Gaddafi protests. The 25-year-old was caught in a volley of gunfire as she policed a demonstration in St James’s Square, but all attempts to bring her killer to justice have failed. In April 1986 three people were killed and more than 200 injured when a bomb went off in a Berlin disco popular with US service personnel.”

Nigeria

The Nigerian Voice: Boko Haram Kils 5 Herdsmen, Rustles 480 Cows In Magumeri

“Not fewer than five villagers suspected to be herdsmen were Saturday killed when members of Boko Haram sect armed with AK47 rifles invaded communities of Moduri, Kelewa and Ngudori of Magumeri Local Government area of Borno State.The terrorists carted away 480 cows after committing the atrocities, leaving one of the herdsmen in the pool of his blood as a result of gunshots. It was however gathered that the victims were killed while attempting to plead with the terrorists not to go with their cows, which is the only means of their livelihoods. The Secretary of Magumeri Local Government Area, Alhaji Ali Kyari disclosed this to news men in Maiduguri Sunday. Moduri is about 15 km east of Magumeri Local Government Headquarters, while Kelewa and Ngudori are east and about 20 kms. The Secretary while giving an update on the attacks said, the insurgents first stormed Moduri village at about 6:30pm on Saturday and rustled 300 cattle before killing three persons, after which, the same set of terrorists invaded Kelewa and killed one person before they went away with 80 cows including looting of foodstuffs. Kyari said, the injured one has been evacuated to the State Specialists Hospital in Maiduguri and is now receiving treatment to be paid by the Council.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Reading Is Latest In Seven Years Of Terrorist Knife Attacks In UK

“The first terrorist knife attack in Britain remains the highest-profile, because of the target – a soldier – and the fact the bloody aftermath was caught on mobile phone footage. The killing of Fusilier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks in May 2013 by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale was by no means the last of such low-tech attacks in Britain, however. Several were foiled, including one planned by Brusthom Ziamani, a 19-year-old Muslim convert caught wandering the streets of east London with a knife, hammer and Isis flag hunting for a target the following year. Three months later, in November 2014, Nadir Syed, 23, from Hounslow, west London, was arrested after buying an 11in kitchen knife at a shop in Ealing with a plan to attack a Remembrance Day poppy- seller. Junead Khan, 25, a delivery driver from Luton, was arrested in July 2015 as he planned to stage a road accident and then kill a US airman outside a base in East Anglia with a combat knife. In December that year, Muhiddin Mire tried to behead a man at Leytonstone tube station in east London, shouting: “This is for Syria, I’m going to spill your blood.”

France

Euronews: France Repatriates Ten Children Of French Jihadists From Syria

“France repatriated ten children of French jihadists from Syria on Sunday night. They were previously staying in refugee camps controlled by Kurdish forces in the north-eastern part of the country. It is unknown where the children landed or where they were transferred to once they reached France. “These children have been handed over to the French judicial authorities”, the French Foreign Ministry reported, adding that they would be taken care of by the social services and undergo medical checks. Paris thanked the semi-autonomous Kurdish administration in north-eastern Syria for its “cooperation” in this new repatriation of “young and vulnerable children”, stressing that it acted “within the legal framework of the authorisation given by local officials”. After militant Islamic State group lost its Baghouz stronghold in March 2019, France has brought back 28 children from Syria - five in March 2019, 12 in June 2019 and a girl suffering from a heart condition in April this year. Around 300 children of French jihadists are currently in the Al-Hol and Roj camps, according to Familles Unies, a French organisation for human rights that has been calling for the repatriation of those children as well as of their mothers.”

Europe

Kurdistan 24: Dutch Kurd Sentenced To Community Service For Fighting ISIS In Syria

“A court in the Netherlands on Thursday sentenced a Dutch Kurd who in 2016 served as a volunteer for the People’s Protection Units’ (YPG) in Syria to 240 hours of community service and a six-month suspended sentence. Although the former volunteer won't have to serve any time in jail, he said he is disappointed in the decision of the court, which chose to criminalize his actions. The Dutch Public Prosecution Service had previously sought a sentence of three years in prison for the 30-year-old Dutch citizen known only as Devin, who in 2016 served as a volunteer for a medical unit of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria as part of operations against the Islamic State. “I am shocked by this demand,” Devin earlier told Kurdistan 24 at the time. “The prosecution also doesn’t have concrete evidence and nothing is concrete. They only took a few pictures from my own Facebook [page] and a quote from John Hardin about the TMU in which he says it’s plausible that the medical unit participated in active combat.” Devin was part of the YPG’s Tactical Medical Unit (TMU) during the battle for the control of Tabqa Dam. “I wanted to help people, fighters and civilians. I didn’t want to kill people, everybody can do that,” he said, according to a report of the Dutch newspaper AD.”

Technology

CBC News: Canadians Among Most Active In Online Right-Wing Extremism, Research Finds

“A report released Friday on Canadian involvement in right-wing extremism online should serve as a “wake-up call” about the widespread nature of the movement and highlights a growing shift toward the use of less regulated platforms, says an expert on the phenomenon. The research, led by the U.K.-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) think-tank, identified more than 6,600 online channels — pages, accounts or groups — where Canadians were involved in spreading white supremacist, mysogynistic or other radical views. On some forums, Canadians were found to be “highly active,” even more, on average, than users in the U.S. and Britain. On one particular message board called “politically incorrect” on the fringe site 4Chan, researchers found Canadian users created 1,636,558 posts, representing 5.71 per cent of posts from all countries. The study suggests when the numbers were averaged out using each country's “estimated internet-using population,” Canada was shown to be producing more content than anywhere else. Barbara Perry, director of Ontario Tech University's Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism, called the Canadian tally “really disconcerting.” “For us to be up there with the heavy hitters ... it's a wake-up call,” she said.”

The Guardian: The Iconoclast Unmasked: The Man Behind Far-Right YouTube Channel

“He is the anonymous architect behind one of the most successful and toxic British far-right YouTube channels, responsible for disseminating racist, Islamophobic and antisemitic material. For years the individual known as The Iconoclast has managed to protect his identity despite amassing nearly 21m views and more than 218,000 subscribers. However the Observer can reveal that the figure behind one of the biggest far-right content producers in the UK – and the movement’s most prominent anonymous account – is a former media student called Daniel Atkinson. Campaigners said the unmasking of Atkinson was important because he is emblematic of the latest manifestation of the far right. They said it is highly likely his widely disseminated racist views influenced some far-right supporters who clashed with police in central London last weekend. The far-right’s influence has traditionally been consolidated within formal groups and political parties such as the British National Party and English Defence League (EDL). Now, however, its most prominent figures more closely resemble social media influencers such as Atkinson and those who have opted to be identified, for example rightwing commentator Katie Hopkins and far-right YouTuber Paul Joseph Watson, also a senior editor at the conspiracy theory website Infowars.”