Eye on Extremism: June 1, 2021

The Wall Street Journal: Gunmen In Nigeria Kidnap More Than 100 Schoolchildren Amid Abduction Epidemic

“Gunmen kidnapped more than 100 students from an Islamic school in Nigeria on Sunday, local officials said, the latest in a rising tide of high-school abductions across Africa’s most populous nation, where kidnapping schoolchildren for ransom has become a lucrative industry. Authorities in Niger state confirmed that armed men traveling on around 70 motorcycles arrived at the Salihu Tanko School in the town of Tegina Sunday afternoon and began shooting, before forcing the students to walk toward the forest at gunpoint. At least one person was killed, the officials said. One teacher estimated that 150 students were missing, while other reports put the figure at closer to 200. Later on Sunday, 11 children between 4 and 6 years old were recovered by authorities and said the gunmen released them because they were unable to keep walking and were slowing the convoy down. “We were driving towards the school at the time of the kidnap but had to turn back because there was too much gunfire…We thought we’d get shot,” said Mohammed Idris, an eyewitness from Tegina. Local officials said on Monday they were driving from house to house to try to ascertain the number of missing. The kidnap-for-ransom business is booming across northern Nigeria, and schoolchildren are its hottest commodity.”

The Washington Post: Iran-Backed Militias Turn To Drone Attacks, Alarming U.S. Forces In Iraq

“U.S. military officials in Iraq have grown increasingly alarmed over attacks by Iran-backed militias using drones to evade detection systems around military bases and diplomatic facilities. In place of rockets, militiamen have turned at times to small, fixed-wing drones that fly too low to be picked up by defensive systems, military officials and diplomats say. An official with the U.S.-led coalition described the evolving drone threat as the military mission’s biggest concern in Iraq. In April, a drone strike targeted a CIA hangar inside the airport complex in the northern city of Irbil, according to officials familiar with the matter. The drone’s flight was tracked to within 10 miles of the site, but its path was then lost as it moved into a civilian flight path, the coalition official said. The drone’s remains were partially recovered, and preliminary analysis suggested it was made in Iran, a coalition official said. The attack deeply concerned White House and Pentagon officials because of the covert nature of the facility and the sophistication of the strike. Although no one was harmed in the strike, it prompted a long night of deliberations over how to respond, according to Western officials.”

United States

NBC News: Tulsa Race Massacre Events Could Be Targeted By White Supremacist Groups, Department Of Homeland Security Warns

“The Tulsa Race Massacre's centennial commemorations in Oklahoma could draw racial violence and white supremacist groups, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned in a bulletin. “We assess that upcoming commemoration events associated with the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre in Oklahoma probably are attractive targets for some racially or ethnically motivated violent extremist-white supremacists to commit violence,” the department said, according to a memo obtained by NBC News. The memo, released earlier this week, wasn’t specific to any of the several events taking place over the holiday weekend, but it said that white supremacist groups could eye any mass gathering or crowded public spaces without warning in Tulsa. The Tulsa Police Department said it’s prepared and has asked for the public’s assistance in reporting anything unusual. “If anyone sees anything suspicious, across our city, report that,” Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said in a press conference this week. Historically, white extremist groups have used tactics such as vehicle ramming, taking up small arms, using edged weapons or explosive devices for racially motivated attacks, the Homeland Security memo said.”

USA Today: 'Acts Of Domestic Terrorism': Police Hunt For Suspects As New Details Emerge In Miami-Area Shooting That Left Two Dead, 21 Injured

“Police in South Florida hunted for suspects Monday after two people were killed and 21 were injured in a shooting outside a banquet hall in what authorities called an act of domestic terrorism. County Commissioner Keon Hardemon said at a news conference that the shooting, which came 24 hours after one person was killed and six wounded in a drive-by shooting in the Wynwood area of Miami, has had a chilling effect on the community. “We have to be clear about what's happening in Miami-Dade County.” Hardemon said. “These are acts of domestic terrorism.” Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez III was interrupted during the briefing by a tearful father of one of the victims killed during Sunday's shooting. “That's the pain that you see,” Ramirez said after officers led the father away. “Together, all of us, we must work harder to bring justice to these families.” Gunfire erupted early Sunday near Hialeah at El Mula Banquet Hall, which had been rented out for a concert, police said. The suspects waited in the parking lot 20 to 40 minutes before three people rolled out of a white Nissan Pathfinder and fired on the crowd outside in what Ramirez called a “targeted and cowardly act of gun violence.”

Fox News: Texas Man Arrested For Alleged Terror Plot After Planning Mass Shooting At Walmart

“A Texas man believed to be a threat to national security after planning a mass shooting at a local Walmart has been arrested by the Kerr County Sheriffs Office. According to authorities, 28-year-old Coleman Thomas Blevins, of Kerrville, was arrested by the KCSO Special Operations Division in the 1000 block of Junction Highway on Friday on a warrant for a Terroristic Threat to Create Public Fear of Serious Bodily Injury. The arrest was made in coordination with the Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigation Division, the Kerrville Police Department's Patrol Division, the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service. On Thursday, investigators intercepted a message indicating that Blevins was preparing to proceed with a mass shooting, in which he made a specific threat that included Walmart. In partnership with the FBI, investigators moved to arrest Blevins after confirming his “affiliation and networking with extremist ideologies” and capability of following through with the threat. Following the arrest, a search warrant was executed at Blevins' residence in the 200 block of Spence Street for seizure of firearms, ammunition, electronic evidence, concentrated THC, and radical ideology paraphernalia, including books, flags, and handwritten documents.”

Iraq

France 24: Fear In Iraq's Mosul As IS Families Return From Syria

“The return of dozens of Iraqi families suspected of links to the Islamic State group from Syria to Mosul has sparked fears among residents who survived the horrors of IS rule. Around 300 people from some 90 families left the Kurdish-run Al-Hol camp in northeast Syria on Tuesday under Iraqi army escort, a Kurdish administration official told AFP on condition of anonymity. It was the first repatriation of Iraqi families from the camp, which is home to more than 60,000 people including relatives of IS fighters, and came as part of an agreement between Baghdad and the multinational coalition battling the jihadists. But the move has stirred up nightmares for many Mosul residents. For three years, Mosul was the heart of IS's self-proclaimed “caliphate”. IS fighters imposed a strict interpretation of Muslim “sharia” law, banning music and smoking and meting out brutal punishments, including public beheadings, for those who violated their rules. “We are totally opposed to their return,” said Omar, a 28-year-old soldier, whose father was killed by IS fighter. “Our future is dark and dangerous because the jihadists will live near us,” said Omar, who declined to give his surname for security reasons.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Government, Taliban Blame Each Other For Shell That Kills 7

“A mortar shell hit a wedding ceremony in northern Afghanistan, killing at least seven people, mostly children, and wounding at least four others, a police spokesman said. Taliban insurgents attacked a government security checkpoint in the district of Tagab and one of their mortar shells hit a civilian house, Kapisa provincial police spokesman Shayeq Shoresh said Sunday. He said the attack happened the night before. But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet accused police of firing several mortar shells toward the civilian house, causing the casualties. Both the Taliban and government forces routinely blame each other for attacks. The assailants are rarely identified and the public is seldom informed of the results of investigations into the many attacks in the capital. The United Nations has repeatedly demanded both sides take more precautions to protect civilians. In the first three months of this year, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan said 1,783 civilians had been killed or wounded in Afghanistan, up 29% over the same period last year.”

Pakistan

ABC News: Pakistan Army: Militants In Twin Attacks Kill 4 Troops In SW

“Suspected militants attacked a Pakistani security post and hours later targeted a vehicle carrying troops Monday, resulting in the deaths of at least four soldiers and four insurgents, the military said. The military said the first incident in southwestern Pakistan occurred when a group of militants attacked a security post in the city of Quetta, killing four soldiers and wounding six others. Troops returned fire, killing four insurgents and wounding eight others, the statement said. In the second attack, militants set off a roadside bomb aimed at a security vehicle, wounding two soldiers in the district of Turbat in Baluchistan province. No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, and no further details were immediately available. Secessionist groups in Baluchistan have staged a long-running insurgency to push for independence from the central government in Islamabad. The Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic State extremist group also have presences there.”

Voice Of America: Afghanistan Asks Pakistan To Take ‘Practical Steps’ Against Taliban Ahead Of US Pullout

“The Afghan government’s media spokesperson has said his country wants Pakistan to take “practical steps” to close the Taliban bases and end its support for the insurgent group in the wake of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. “Afghanistan’s demands are very clear,” Dawa Khan Menapal, director of Afghanistan’s Government Media and Information Center, told VOA. “We all believe that the terrorists have bases and support in Pakistan.” Menapal reiterated Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s claim of May 14 when he told Der Spiegel magazine that the Taliban had received logistics, finances and recruitment from Pakistan, and that their consultative bodies were named after Pakistani cities such as “Peshawar Shura, Quetta Shura and Miranshah Shura.” The verbal battle between the two countries seemed to enter a new level in mid-May when the Afghan national security adviser, Hamdullah Mohib, during a rally in eastern Nangarhar province, warned the Taliban that Pakistan’s intelligence agencies would “sacrifice” the Taliban for their own objectives. “They neither want you nor will they help [you] to take power,” he said. “All they have told you are a lie. The only thing they want from you is that they are sacrificing you for themselves and for their own war.”

Middle East

Al Monitor: Israel Fears Hamas, Hezbollah Coordinating Attacks

“Israeli media described the two-hour address delivered May 25 by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah as the “coughing speech.” Right after the televised speech, Israel’s Military Intelligence issued an assessment that Nasrallah, who had not been seen in public for weeks, appears to have contracted the coronavirus but refuses to take a test. Nasrallah, who appeared thin and pale, obviously had trouble breathing as he coughed his way through the speech, and his medical condition overshadowed its more interesting contents. In fact, two speeches delivered at almost the same time — one in Beirut and one in the Gaza Strip, one by the head of a Sunni terrorist organization (Hamas Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar) and the other by a Shiite one (Hezbollah’s Nasrallah) — conveyed the same message to Israel. Both warned that Israel risks war if it tries to change the status quo in Jerusalem, if it takes any unilateral steps at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, one of Islam’s holiest sites. Nasrallah even described this future conflagration as a “regional war.” “Everyone is focusing on his cough,” a former senior Israeli intelligence source told Al-Monitor this week on condition of anonymity. “They are missing the point. Even if he has the coronavirus, he will most likely recover.”

Egypt

All Africa: Egypt - Over 290 Terrorist Suspects To Stand Trial

“A group of 292 militants belonging to the Islamic State group have been referred to an Egyptian military court for trial. The MENA news agency on November 21, 2016, reported that the suspects belong to the so-called “Sinai State,” a militant group loyal to the regional Islamic State, IS. The suspects are accused of carrying out terrorist activities in the Sinai Peninsula in recent years and planning to assassinate President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, MENA said. Egypt has been facing a rising wave of terrorist operations and bomb attacks mostly in North Sinai Province since the military removed former Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July 2013 in response to mass protests against his one-year rule and the Moslem Brotherhood group. On November 4, 2016, a military brigadier general was assassinated by three terrorists outside his home in North Sinai, while a judge survived a blast in Cairo during the day. Earlier in mid-October 2016 also in North Sinai, at least 20 soldiers were killed in a series of blasts and armed attacks. Security forces retaliated by killing about 100 militants and wounding 40 others. While anti-government attacks over the past few years killed scores of police and military men, security raids have killed about 1,200 militants, with a similar number of suspects arrested in North Sinai.”

Africa

Reuters: Boko Haram Militants Kill 8 In Southeastern Niger, Says Defence Ministry

“Insurgents from the Islamist group Boko Haram killed four soldiers and four civilians in an attack on Niger's southeastern desert town of Diffa, the defence ministry said. At least six militants were killed in the raid on Friday, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday. The insurgents attacked Diffa in the late afternoon, riding in about 15 vehicles. After intense fighting, they were pushed back by security forces, The Boko Haram insurgency broke out in northeastern Nigeria in 2000, but violence frequently spills over into neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon. In December, an attack blamed on Boko Haram killed 28 people and burned 800 homes in Diffa region.”

Bloomberg: Crisis Group Warns Of Boost To Islamic State In African Redoubt

“Islamic State could be reinforced in one of its last strongholds in Africa as a result of vigilante groups fueling local grievances, a crisis-prevention organization warned. The rise of anti-jihadist groups in Niger’s northern Tillabery region risks providing the Islamist militant organization with additional recruits, according to Washington-based International Crisis Group. Niger should learn from neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali where the emergence of local militias has pushed civilians to join either jihadists or self-defense groups, the nonprofit said in a report Friday. Authorities should “discourage vigilante group formation, which has spurred violence, and mediate communal disputes that fuel armed group recruitment,” it said. An increasingly deadly Islamist insurgency is rocking Niger, the fifth-biggest exporter of uranium globally, raising fears of militants expanding their reach across a region that’s already headed for its deadliest year of Islamist violence in a decade. France has deployed a 5,100-strong force to fight the Islamist militants in Niger and neighboring countries, while the U.S. has a $110 million drone base in the nation’s desert town of Agadez.”

The Washington Post: How An Insurgency Threatens Mozambique’s Gas Bonanza

“If all goes as planned, one of the world’s poorest countries will be transformed by Africa’s biggest-ever private investment splurge, but there’s a problem. Attacks by Islamist insurgents threaten hopes of exploiting huge natural gas deposits off Mozambique’s northern coast. More than 2,800 people have been killed and 700,000 displaced since violence began in 2017. The country’s export ambitions are linked to projects by some of the world’s biggest energy companies, but investments are being held up by the fighting. 1. What’s at stake? As much as $120 billion in investment, according to Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender. It’s unlikely all that money will materialize, especially if the violence continues. Still, even some projects would be a game-changer not just for Mozambique, where almost two-thirds of its 32 million people live on less than $1.90 a day, but potentially for neighboring countries as well. Besides providing a massive boost to state finances, it would also create several thousand construction jobs. Gas production could also bring changes that would address chronic electricity shortages and boost fertilizer production to drive crop output.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Fishmongers' Hall: Usman Khan Unlawfully Killed Cambridge Graduates

“Failings by the police, probation service and MI5 contributed to the deaths of two graduates killed by a convicted terrorist, a jury has found. University of Cambridge alumni Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt were stabbed by Usman Khan at a rehabilitation event at Fishmongers' Hall on 29 November 2019. Khan, 28, had been released from prison 11 months previously, the inquests at London's Guildhall heard. The jury concluded that both victims were unlawfully killed. Khan, who had spent eight years in jail for planning to set up a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, was chased on to London Bridge by people at the event who were armed with a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk plucked from a wall. The terrorist, who wounded three others in the attack, was shot dead on the bridge by police. Jurors found there had been unacceptable management and a lack of accountability in the oversight of Khan, who had been allowed to travel on his own to London from his hometown of Stafford. They concluded there had been failures in the sharing of information between state agencies responsible for monitoring him. Deficiencies in the organisation of the event at Fishmongers' Hall, including inadequate security measures, were also found to have been a factor in the deaths.”

Canada

National Post: ISIL Forced Toronto 18 Terror Plot Leader To Rethink His Ideology, But Change Deemed Not Enough To Warrant Parole

“From the prison where Zakaria Amara endures his life sentence, the leader of a terrorist plot to explode huge truck bombs in Ontario said the atrocities of ISIL jihadists drove him to re-evaluate and reject his radical beliefs, making him ready for release from prison. Amara’s appeals of a personal transformation over 15 years behind bars, however, were not enough to warrant his release, the Parole Board of Canada told him after a lengthy and sometimes emotional hearing Friday. Amara, 35, began and ended his parole hearing with tears. At the start, he said he was nervous of this “big moment,” his first parole opportunity, and then started wiping away tears and sobbing. Near the end, in his final appeal to the board before members began deliberations, he pressed his crossed hands against his chest and spoke in gasps between tears, as he thanked those who supported him in prison, including his sister, as well as his daughter who was just nine months old when he was arrested. In between was a riveting account over three hours of his transformation from young jihadist seeking revenge on Canada for its involvement in the war in Afghanistan to a man trying to reclaim a place in Canadian society.”

Europe

Voice Of America: Belarus News Site Editor Arrested Over Extremism Suspicions

“The chief editor of a popular internet news site in one of Belarus’ largest cities was detained Sunday on suspicion of extremism. The arrest Sunday of Hrodna.life editor Aliaksei Shota comes amid a crackdown on independent journalists and opponents of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. The publication focuses on Belarus’ fifth-largest city, Grodno. City police said the website “posted information products that were duly recognized as extremist,” but didn't give details. It wasn't immediately clear if Shota had been formally charged with extremism, which can carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Shota had collaborated with the country’s most popular internet portal Tut.by, which authorities closed this month after arresting 15 employees. Belarus’ crackdown escalated a week ago with the arrest of dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend who were aboard a commercial flight that was diverted to the Minsk airport because of an alleged bomb threat. The flight was flying over Belarus en route from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania.  The move sparked wide denunciation in the West as an act of hijacking and demands for Pratasevich's release. The European Union banned flights from Belarus.”

Southeast Asia

The Washington Post: Police Arrest 11 Suspected Militants In Indonesia’s Papua

“Indonesian police said Monday they have arrested 11 suspected Islamic militants accused of plotting attacks at several Christian churches in easternmost Papua province. On Friday, the elite counterterrorism squad arrested 10 suspects in several raids in Papua’s Merauke district after receiving information about planned attacks in the province, a predominantly Christian region in Muslim-majority Indonesia, Merauke police chief Untung Sangaji said. The arrests led police to another suspect who was detained Sunday, and led them to seize items from various locations including chemicals for explosives, modified air guns able to fire real bullets, jihadist books and documents on planned attacks, he said. Sangaji said those arrested are suspected of being members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and carried out a series of suicide bombings in Indonesia. “They allegedly planned to attack churches in several places in Merauke,” Sangaji said. He declined to provide more details, saying that the investigation is still underway. He said some of the suspects are believed to have links to a suicide attack outside a Roman Catholic cathedral during Palm Sunday Mass in March in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi, that wounded 20 people.”

Eurasia Review: Philippines: Military, Police Capture 9 Suspected Islamic State Militants

“Nine suspected Filipino militants belonging to the local Islamic State chapter were captured after a brief firefight in the southern Philippines on Saturday but two sub-leaders of the group escaped, the military said. The police, backed by army and navy commandoes, launched a dawn raid in Tuburan, a town in Lanao del Sur province, to catch Daulah Islamiyah-Maute Group (DI-MG) sub-leaders Farahufon Hadji Satar (alias Abu Omar) and Muna Kali (alias Abu Dimam), said Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command. “While the security forces were approaching the target house to serve the warrant of arrest they were fired upon by the target suspects and their cohorts, sparking the brief firefight,” Vinluan told reporters. “The targets escaped,” he said as he listed the names of the nine suspects who were taken into custody. Vinluan identified them as Camaroden Tindug, 52; Sabdullah Sarip, 36; Oter Macaungun, 35; Asnare Alisood, 20; Alisood Dima, 52;  Sowaib Abdullah, 18; Saaduden Adapun, 30; Zaenal Abdulatip, 33; and Aleem Salih Pitiilan, 45. There were no reports of casualties on either side.”

Technology

The Wall Street Journal: Hackers Linked To SolarWinds Return With Phishing Attack, Microsoft Says

“The Russia-linked hackers behind the cyberattack on SolarWinds SWI -0.78% have returned, launching a phishing attack targeting approximately 3,000 email accounts belonging to workers at more than 150 organizations, Microsoft said late Thursday. The attack on SolarWinds is considered by investigators to be one of most stealthy and sophisticated ever detected, but the phishing attack was in some ways the opposite of that. The hackers took over an online account used for mass emails by the U.S. Agency for International Development and sent deceptive phishing emails that contained malicious links. Although the attack appears to have been largely unsuccessful—most of the email messages were marked as spam, Microsoft said—investigators say it shows that the hackers behind SolarWinds aren’t going away. “These attacks appear to be a continuation of multiple efforts…to target government agencies involved in foreign policy as part of intelligence gathering efforts,” said Tom Burt, a Microsoft corporate vice president in charge of security, in a blog post.”

Deutsche Welle: European Online Activists Target 'Cookie Banner Terror'

“The Austria-based NOYB “None of Your Business” group on Monday said it was lodging draft complaints against hundreds of websites for their use of pop-up banners. NOYB, which campaigns for better privacy regulation, says many users' on-screen choices do not comply with EU privacy laws, making the internet “a frustrating experience for users all over Europe.” The group said it would present more than 500 draft complaints over what it calls the “cookie ban terror.” NOYB said the pop-ups fail to give the user a simple “yes or no” option for permitting their data to be collected, instead providing only a very complex way to refuse to allow the site to track the user's activity. The activists say making it “extremely complicated to click anything but the 'accept' button” is a breach of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). NOYB said it was lodging the complaints with companies in 33 countries, including every European Economic Area member state except Malta and Liechtenstein. The group says it had notified the companies, but would only file the legal complaints in a month, if the sites haven't rectified their “unfair” and “frustrating” design in the mean time.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

The Hispanic population is willing to return to their home countries if given the right incentive. An incentive that myself and many other patriotic Americans will provide… [terrorist attacks will] remove the threat of the Hispanic voting bloc.

Patrick Crusius, El Paso Shooter Aug. 2019
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