Eye on Extremism: June 10, 2021

Reuters: Canada Will Soon Crack Down On Online Hate In Wake Of Fatal Attack -Senior Minister

“Canada will soon unveil measures to crack down on online extremism following the killing of a Muslim family, a crime that police said was inspired by hate, a government minister said on Wednesday. Four members of the family were killed on Sunday when a pickup truck jumped the curb and ran them over in London, Ontario, 200 km (124 miles) southwest of Toronto. “Our government is continuing to do what is necessary, obviously working with the social media platforms, to combat online hate and we'll have more to say on specific measures in the coming weeks,” Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc told reporters. There is no evidence that the suspect, Nathaniel Veltman, had any connection to hate groups. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, facing complaints from religious and ethnic communities that Ottawa has not done enough to combat bigotry and racism, promised on Tuesday to intensify efforts to fight far-right groups. “We don't yet know all the causes or reasons, but there is probably an element of online incitation to violence,” Trudeau told a conference on digital governance on Wednesday. In January, he asked Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault to work with Public Safety Minister Bill Blair “to take action on combating hate groups and online hate.”

Africanews: Blast Kills At Least 61 Al-Shabaab Fighters In A Warehouse

“More than 61 Al-Shabaab militants and foreign nationals were killed in an explosion at a village in southern Somalia, the national army said in a statement on Tuesday. The blast went off inside a house at Ala-Futow village, located some 285 kilometers from the capital Mogadishu. Reports indicate that the materials stored at the 11-room house exploded late on Monday, killing at least 61 militants including six foreign nationals. Among those killed include Al-Shabaab’s bomb experts. The military later confirmed they conducted a swipe operation in the area destroying Al’Shabaab equipment. Somalia had plunged into chaos after the 1991 overthrow of president Siad Barre's military regime led to famine and decades of anarchic clan warfare. Al-Shabaab emerged from the youth wing of the Islamic Courts Union, a rival to the internationally-backed government established in 2004, which briefly controlled large parts of Somalia. But in the second half of 2011, the group's fortunes appeared to be waning, as African Union peacekeeping force AMISOM pushed them out of their last bastions in Mogadishu. Since then they have had to abandon most of their strongholds -- but they still control vast rural areas and have maintained a presence in urban centres through an extensive intelligence network.”

Syria

The Wall Street Journal: Refugee Camp For Families Of Islamic State Fighters Nourishes Insurgency

“…While many of the fugitive women regret joining Islamic State and want to go home, Western counterterrorism officials say some of the children smuggled out of al-Hol have been sent to join the insurgency in Syria and Iraq. Attacks in Syria have surged. In February, there were 29 attacks compared with just 6 in January 2020, according to the New-York based Counter Extremism Project, a nonprofit organization that tracks radical groups. The willingness of camp residents to bet fortunes on freedom has fueled the growth of smuggling networks. Smugglers’ prices today start from around $16,000 per foreign woman exfiltrated to Turkey, with two or three children for the price of one adult. For Iraqis and Syrians it costs less, largely because the journey home is shorter, according to women caught trying to escape. In his last speech before U.S. special-operations forces descended on the compound where he was hiding in northwest Syria, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had exhorted his followers to liberate detained fighters, their wives and children. “Do your utmost to free them,” he said in the 30-minute audio recording in September 2019, about a month before he died in the U.S. raid.”

Fox News: Israeli Airstrikes In Syria Kill 11 Fighters, Target Hezbollah Arms Depot, Reports Say

“Israeli airstrikes launched into Syria late Tuesday have killed at least 11 government fighters and allies, reports say. The missiles targeted Syrian Air Force positions on the outskirts of Homs and an arms depot belonging to the Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist group, The Times of Israel reported, citing the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “At least seven army soldiers and four National Defence Forces militiamen were killed,” the group’s director, Rami Abdul Rahman, was quoted as saying. A military source that spoke to the Syrian state-run SANA news agency claimed Syrian air defense systems shot down some of the Israeli missiles, which had been fired from the direction of Lebanon after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. “Our air defense array confronted the aggression’s missiles and shot down some of them, and there were material losses only,” the source said, according to The Times of Israel. The newspaper said the Israeli military told the AFP it would not comment on “information coming from abroad.” Israel’s Defense Forces have carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria since the civil war began in 2011 in order to deter Iran from establishing a permanent military presence there and funneling weapons to terrorist groups, The Times of Israel also reported.”

Iraq

Reuters: Iraq Releases Iran-Aligned Commander Arrested On Terror Charges

“Iraq has released an Iran-aligned militia commander arrested in May on terrorism-related charges after authorities found insufficient evidence against him, in the latest blow to government attempts to rein in armed groups. Security forces arrested Qasim Muslih, who operates mostly in Iraq's western Anbar province and is from the southern holy city of Kerbala, on May 26. His arrest and subsequent release show how the Iraqi government is struggling to deal with militias ideologically aligned with Iran which are accused of rocket fire against U.S. forces and of involvement in killing peaceful pro-democracy activists. Hours after Muslih's release, two separate rocket attacks hit near U.S. forces and contractors at the Baghdad International Airport compound and an air base north of the Iraqi capital. There was no claim for the attacks. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has placed himself publicly in opposition to Iran-backed militias and parties but has fallen short on pledges to curb anti-U.S. attacks and hold killers of protesters to account. Muslih's arrest was seen as the latest major attempt to rein in their power. His release without prosecution is a blow to those efforts and one of a number of unsuccessful attempts to crack down on armed groups.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: U.S. Weighs Possibility Of Airstrikes If Afghan Forces Face Crisis

“The Pentagon is considering seeking authorization to carry out airstrikes to support Afghan security forces if Kabul or another major city is in danger of falling to the Taliban, potentially introducing flexibility into President Biden’s plan to end the United States military presence in the conflict, senior officials said. Mr. Biden and his top national security aides had previously suggested that once U.S. troops left Afghanistan, air support would end as well, with the exception of strikes aimed at terrorist groups that could harm American interests. But military officials are actively discussing how they might respond if the rapid withdrawal produces consequences with substantial national security implications. No decisions have been made yet, officials said. But they added that one option under consideration would be to recommend that U.S. warplanes or armed drones intervene in an extraordinary crisis, such as the potential fall of Kabul, the Afghan capital, or a siege that puts American and allied embassies and citizens at risk. Any additional airstrikes would require the president’s approval. Even then, officials indicated that such air support would be hard to sustain over a lengthy period because of the enormous logistical effort that would be necessary given the American withdrawal.”

Reuters: Afghan Gov't And Taliban Negotiators Meet In Doha To Discuss Peace

“Afghan government and Taliban negotiators met in Qatar's capital Doha this week to discuss the peace process, the first known meeting in weeks after negotiations largely stalled earlier this year. Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in a statement on Twitter on Wednesday that the heads of both teams, along with some of their negotiators, had met the previous day in Doha. “They discussed topics of the agenda, accelerating the Afghan negotiations process and reaching mutual understanding in this regard,” he said. The meeting was the first announced gathering of both sides since mid-May and after already-slowing talks largely broke off in April, when the United States announced it would withdraw its forces by September 11. The Taliban had responded angrily to that announcement as it meant foreign forces would stay in the country beyond a May deadline agreed with the previous Trump administration. The Islamist group said it would boycott a major peace conference due to take place in Turkey. Negotiators had started in Doha in September to find a way to end decades of war. But the talks stalled after a few rounds and violence has escalated since the United States started its final pullout of troops.”

Deutsche Welle: Afghanistan: 'Islamic State' Claims Responsibility For Attack On Mine-Clearing Workers

“Islamic State” (IS) fighters attacked a group of mine-clearing workers in the north of Afghanistan on Tuesday evening. Afghan authorities said early Wednesday the assault killed 10 people and left at least 14 injured. The attack happened in the Baghlan-e-Markazi district of Baghlan province, to the north of the capital Kabul. The injured victims were taken to a hospital in the nearby town of Pul-e-Khumri. IS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement. The Afghan interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian previously told reporters that the Taliban was to blame. “The Taliban entered a compound of a mine-clearing agency […] and started shooting everyone,” Arian had said. The province governor's spokesman, Jawed Basharat, told AFP news agency that the attack happened in an area controlled by government forces. The victims had been working for the international land mine-clearing organization Halo Trust, Afghan news site TOLO News reported. The nongovernmental organization has around 2,600 employees in the country, according to its website. As a result of decades of ongoing conflict, Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Baghlan has been the scene of intense fighting between Taliban and government forces in recent months, with the insurgents planting roadside bombs that have often ended up killing or wounding civilians.”

Lebanon

Bloomberg Law: Lebanese Bank Must Face Claim It Aided Terrorist Rocket Attacks

“A Lebanese bank must face a suit under the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act for allegedly aiding and abetting Hezbollah rocket attacks in Israel that injured U.S. citizens in 2006, the Second Circuit said Wednesday. The victims’ complaint said that Lebanese Canadian Bank SAL was aware that five of its customers were controlled by Hezbollah but nevertheless allowed them to use its services and laundered money for them. The district court dismissed the claim, saying the victims didn’t plead sufficient facts to show LCB was generally aware that its customers were Hezbollah affiliates or that they played a role…”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: At Least 1 Teenager Killed In Gaza Violence Was Member Of A Terror Group - Report

“Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas, have been recruiting teenagers into its military wing, and at least one was killed during the latest round of fighting with Israel last month. The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said at least 243 Palestinians were killed during the 11 days of fighting, including 66 children and teens, with 1,910 people wounded. The Israeli military says over 100 operatives belonging to the terrorist groups were killed and that some of the civilian casualties were caused by Hamas rockets falling short or civilian homes collapsing after an airstrike on Hamas’s tunnel network. In the his interview since the fighting ended, Hamas leader Yayha Sinwar told the Associated Press that 80 operatives were killed during the fighting, 57 from Hamas and 22 from Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In an article published by The New York Times on May 28, 67 children under the age of 17 were killed in Israel and in Gaza. But a report published by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, and confirmed by Joe Truzman, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy’s Long War Journal who focuses on terrorist groups in Gaza and the rest of the Middle East, found that at least one on the list was a terrorist who died fighting for Hamas.”

Nigeria

The Washington Post: Opinion: Nigeria’s School Kidnapping Crisis Is Even Worse Than You Think

“There has never been a more trying time to be Nigerian. That sounds cliched, but there are simply no words to convey Nigerians’ horror at the endless cycle of national grief. Our country has so far been spared the worst of the covid-19 pandemic, but extremist violence, communal clashes and rising criminality are producing an epidemic of insecurity. The latest alarming trend is a wave of mass kidnappings of students, endangering millions of children’s futures. At the end of May, dozens of kidnappers on motorcycles stormed a school in north-central Nigeria and whisked away 136 children aged 5 to 14 and three teachers, after killing one person. Two mothers collapsed and died upon receiving the news. The kidnappers have demanded 200 million naira (almost $500,000) for their young victims’ lives. This follows the seizure in December of 344 schoolboys in the northwest of the country from their dormitories. Their release after six agonizing nights evoked a collective sigh of relief from a nation sunk in sadness and anger. The episodes conjured disgusting memories of the April 2014 abduction of 276 schoolgirls from their school dormitory in the northeast town of Chibok. At the time, the mass kidnapping shook Nigerians to the core and triggered international outrage and activism.”

Somalia

The Nation: Senior Al-Shabaab Leader Arrested In Somalia

“Somalia announced on Wednesday that its armed forces arrested a senior leader of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab terrorist group in an operation in the country's Middle Shabelle region, according to an official statement. “Somali National Army and Hirshabelle police arrested a senior Alshabaab local leader after a joint operation in War Isse and Aqab Duco villages near Jowhar,” Somali government spokesman Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu said on Twitter. Jowhar is the administrative capital of Hirshabelle and a strategic agricultural town located approximately 90 kilometers (55 miles) from the Somali capital Mogadishu. The Somali Army is conducting a two-week operation against al-Shabaab in the region, so far killing 130 terrorists and liberating six villages, according to reports. “The SNA (Somali National Army) operations in Hirshaballe have left 130 terrorists dead,” Somali state television reported on Wednesday. Late on Monday, at least 60 al-Shabaab terrorists, including foreign nationals, senior commanders and bomb experts, were killed after a house used for bomb making exploded in the Lower Shabelle region, according to the military.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Leicestershire Man 'Used Bitcoin To Fund Islamic State Terrorism'

“A man used Bitcoin to fund the Islamic State group's terrorism, a court has heard. Hisham Chaudhary, 28, of Chestnut Drive, Oadby, Leicestershire, is also accused of spreading propaganda online. He denies four counts of disseminating a terrorist publication, one count of membership of a proscribed organisation and two counts of funding terrorism. Birmingham Crown Court heard claims there was a “humanitarian purpose” behind the money was a “smokescreen”. As the prosecution opened its case, the court heard Mr Chaudhary had produced a “jihad” video, described as “a sinister call-to-arms”, to fight non-believers - which was then spread around the world through the internet. Jurors were told he also raised money and converted it to Bitcoin, which he used to send funds to the Islamic State group. Electronic records showed Mr Chaudhary had bought more than £50,000 worth of Bitcoin, and then discussed how to transfer it secretly around the world, the court heard. The prosecution said when Mr Chaudhary was arrested in a dawn raid, anti-terrorist police found devices in his bedroom containing what were described as IS propaganda videos. Mr Chaudhary posted some videos online using the name “John Smith”, the court heard.”

Canada

The New York Times: As A Family Is Mourned, Canada Grapples With Anti-Muslim Bias

“With coronavirus restrictions still in place in much of Canada, many families have taken up going out together for evening strolls. On Sunday, however, a pleasant walk became the scene of a deadly attack by a motorist who used his truck to kill four members of a family in London, Ontario, and injure a boy who is now an orphan. They were targeted, the police said, because of their Muslim faith. Along with grieving, the deaths have prompted anger and demands for government action against bigotry and violence toward Muslims. “Even after this, there are still people saying that Islamophobia doesn’t exist,” said Mohamed Salih, a member of London’s City Council. “The challenge and a reality we must face is that far too often in our city, there is Islamophobia. It’s something we’ve known for far too long.” On Tuesday night, the province of Ontario temporarily lifted pandemic rules banning large gatherings to allow thousands of people to gather for a memorial outside the London Muslim Mosque to remember the Afzaal-Salman family. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended. Salman Afzaal, 46, was a physiotherapist who worked in long-term care homes. Madiha Salman, 44, was a doctoral student in civil engineering.”

Europe

The National: EU Warns Of Crime Surge And Terrorism Vulnerabilities During Covid-19 Pandemic

“Covid-19 led to a surge in illicit activity across Europe and the pandemic is likely to provide a breeding ground for terrorism, the EU’s senior law and order official said. Ylva Johansson noted in particular a rise in cyber crime, the increased use of ransomware and a booming counterfeit market. She cited the recent hacking of Ireland’s healthcare system, which led to delays in outpatient services. Ms Johansson said there had also been an increase in child sexual abuse online and paedophiles trying to contact children through the internet. “We can see the organised criminal groups adapting extremely quickly to the new situation,” she said, after two days of meetings between EU justice and interior ministers. Ms Johansson said that the danger from Islamist extremism remained and that right-wing terrorism “is a significant rising threat”. A statement after the talks said that so far, “the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the terrorist threat seems to have been limited”. “However, the protracted pandemic may increase member states’ vulnerabilities and the risks of radicalisation. The online presence of extremist groups is on the rise since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said. The statement said that counter-terrorism authorities’ work was made harder because they often had to rely only on online capabilities.”

Technology

Time: Facebook Banned A Hindu Extremist Group—Then Left Most Of Its Pages Online For Months

“Facebook allowed a Hindu extremist group to operate openly on its platform for months, even after the company banned the group’s main pages for violating its policies. It was not until TIME pointed out a network of more than 30 pages linked to the Sanatan Sanstha—with more than 2.7 million total followers—that the social media giant followed through and purged them in April. The pages regularly shared hate speech and misinformation, largely targeting India’s Muslim minority, including Islamophobic depictions of Muslims as green monsters with long fingernails. The Sanatan Sanstha’s extended presence on Facebook, despite the ban, raises questions about how effectively the company is delivering on its commitment to root out hate speech and incitement to violence—including in India, its largest market. And as governments around the world increasingly bring more stringent regulations to bear on social media platforms, the case is also a window into how political pressure may be having an impact on the ways those platforms police extremist groups. At its headquarters in Goa, western India, the Sanatan Sanstha preaches a radical variant of Hinduism to devotees.”

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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