Eye on Extremism: June 10, 2022

Associated Press: Hezbollah Leader Threatens To Hit Israel's Offshore Gas Rig

“The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group threatened Thursday to strike a gas rig Israel is setting up in the Mediterranean Sea and that Lebanon claims is in a disputed maritime area between the two countries. Israel says the location is part of its U.N.-recognized exclusive economic zone. Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, a staunch Iran ally, denounced in a televised address what he described as Israeli provocations in the maritime area. His speech followed a warning by Lebanese President Michel Aoun last Sunday who said that maritime border negotiations between the two countries have not ended, adding that any move by Israel — such as drilling in the Karish field that Beirut calls disputed — will be considered “a provocation and hostile act.” Earlier this week, Energean Power, a floating production, storage and offloading unit belonging to the energy exploration and production company Energean, arrived in the Karish field. The company is listed in London and Tel Aviv and the ship’s arrival triggered alarm in Lebanon. Aoun and Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati invited a U.S. envoy mediating between Lebanon and Israel to return to Beirut to try and work out an agreement.”

Reuters: Nigeria Suspects Islamic State Of Killing 40 In Catholic Church

“Nigerian authorities suspect the insurgent group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) carried out a massacre in a Catholic church on Sunday in which 40 people were killed, Interior Minister Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said on Thursday. Assailants wielding AK-47 rifles and explosives attacked the congregation at St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, in southwestern Ondo State, during Pentecost mass on Sunday, leaving behind a scene of carnage as they escaped. “We have been able to see the footprint of ISWAP in the horrendous attack in Owo and we are after them. Our security agencies are on their trail and we will bring them to justice,” Aregbesola told reporters in the capital Abuja. The authorities had not previously made any comment about the identity or motive of the killers. ISWAP, predominantly active in northeastern Nigeria and neighbouring Chad, is one of two major Islamist insurgent groups that have been fighting each other and the Nigerian military for years. Hundreds of thousands have died and millions have been displaced. Ondo State is far from ISWAP's usual area of operations. The state governor, Arakunrin Akeredolu, gave new casualty figures on Thursday. He said a total of 127 people had been affected by the attack in the church, of whom 40 had died, 61 were still in hospital and 26 had been discharged.”

United States

PBS: Senate Homeland Security Committee Holds Hearing On White Supremacist Violence

“The Senate Homeland Security committee held a hearing Thursday on white supremacist violence in the aftermath of the racially motivated massacre in Buffalo, New York. Committee Chair Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, opened the hearing by citing data that a majority of extremism violence is committed by far-right and white supremacist extremists. Between 2012 and 2021, white supremacists committed the majority of murders carried out by extremists, according to the Anti-Defamation League, Peters said. Peters also spoke on the Buffalo shooter’s connections to white supremacy, noting that in the days before the attack, the shooter posted a screed hundreds of pages long online in which he referred to the Great Replacement Theory – a racist idea that non-white people are working to replace white Americans. “This disgusting belief is at the center of some of the most horrific terrorist attacks that we have seen in recent years,” Peters said, also citing the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, in which 11 people were killed. “Once relegated to the fringes of our society, these extreme and abhorrent beliefs are now a constant presence in our nation’s mainstream,” Peters said.”

Iraq

The National: Iraqi Kurdish Authorities Blame Iraqi Hezbollah Militants For Drone Attack In Erbil

“The Kurdistan Regional Government on Thursday accused Iraqi Hezbollah-linked militants of carrying out a drone attack in Erbil that wounded three civilians and damaged several vehicles. The strike occurred on the outskirts of Erbil, on the road to Pirmam, at 9.35pm local time on Wednesday. Officials said a drone was shot down. No groups have claimed responsibility for the attack. But the regional government said Hezbollah was behind the strike. “The attack was launched from the borders of the town of Bardi by the Hezbollah militia,” the KRG's security council said in a statement given to The National. “The terrorist attack on Erbil is a continuation of the attacks carried out to put pressure on the region.” The UK ambassador to Iraq, Mark Bryson-Richardson, expressed condemnation on Twitter and said it was “another unacceptable attack seemingly targeting civilians”. “There should be no place in Iraq for those promoting chaos and violence,” he said. The British consul general in Erbil, David Hunt, said it was “another senseless act of violence”. “The United Kingdom stands alongside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq against this aggression,” he said on Twitter. France has expressed its solidary with those wounded in the attack.”

Afghanistan

Voice Of America: Watchdog Demands UN Reinstate Travel Ban On Afghan Taliban For Rights Violations

“An international human rights defender is urging the United Nations to “reconceptualize” its travel ban on the leadership of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban to pressure them into respecting rights of all Afghans, particularly women and girls. Human Rights Watch said in a statement Thursday that “a grave human rights crisis has been unfolding” in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the conflict-torn country in August. The organization said that the U.N. Security Council will be reviewing the travel-related exemptions for the Islamist group later this month and it “has an opportunity to refocus the ban on specific Taliban leaders who have been implicated in serious rights violations.” The travel ban, which affects 41 members of the current Taliban administration in Kabul, was partially suspended three years ago to allow 14 top leaders of the then-insurgent hardline group to engage in peace talks with the United States. Human Rights Watch pointed to the reclusive Taliban chief, Hibatullah Akhundzada, who reportedly played a decisive role in extending the ban on girls’ secondary education. It also named Abdul-Haq Wassiq, head of the Taliban intelligence agency, and Shaykh Muhammad Khalid Hanafi, head of the Ministry of Vice and Virtue, for their alleged human rights abuses.”

Nigeria

AFP: Jihadists Kill 23 In Northeast Nigeria: Sources

“Jihadists have killed at least 23 men in Nigeria’s northeast Borno state in the latest violence to hit the conflict-ridden region, militia sources said Thursday. Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) seized the men on Tuesday as they searched for scrap metal as part of a 50-strong group in the Magdala village in the Dikwa district, they said. The incident was reported only on Thursday because telecom towers destroyed by jihadists have slowed communication in the area.” For now 23 bodies have been recovered and they were all slaughtered by the terrorists,” militia leader Babakura Kolo told AFP. “Three people made it back to Dikwa while the fate of the remaining 24 is still unknown,” he said. There were fears that the missing men had been taken hostage by the militants, said another militiaman Ibrahim Liman. He said search teams were combing the bushes as the missing men “could have been shot dead while trying to flee”. Nigerian military has recently intensified ground and air attacks against ISWAP and rival Boko Haram and said it had killed several high-profile commanders. This week’s killings could have been revenge, as the jihadists accuse metal scavengers of passing information on their positions to the military, the militiamen said.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Claims It Killed 15 Somali Soldiers In Blast

“An Explosion targeted government forces on the outskirts of Bal'ad district in the Middle Shabelle region, south of Somalia on Wednesday night. The blast, which was a landmine hit Danab Special Forces in Gololey area, according to local sources who spoke to Radio Shabelle by phone. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it had killed at least 15 soldiers and destroyed one of the vehicles with the blast. Somali military officials have not yet commented on the blast and al-Shabaab's claims. Most of the deadly attacks took place on the long road between the towns of Balad and Jowhar in the Middle Shabelle region.”

Africa

Reuters: Gold Mine Attacked In Burkina Faso, At Least Two Dead

“Attackers raided the Karma industrial gold mine in northern Burkina Faso in the early hours of Thursday morning, killing one soldier and one mine employee, the company said. The mine has suspended operations to focus on securing the site, Nere Mining Group, the Burkina Faso-based consortium that owns it, added. Three or four soldiers were also wounded in the assault, which took place at around 4:30 a.m. (0430 GMT), an official who answered the phone at Nere Mining told Reuters. The call was cut off before he could give his name. The company said the assailants were not identified, and that the attack was eventually repelled by mine security workers and soldiers. It is still evaluating the impact, it said. Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have been waging an insurgency in northern Burkina Faso for nearly a decade and routinely carry out attacks. Several of those have targeted convoys on their way to and from the region's gold mines. An ambush on buses carrying employees of Canadian firm Semafo in 2019 was the deadliest, killing 39 people. Attacks on the mines themselves, however, have been much rarer. A diplomatic source said three people had been killed at the mine and 10 others injured, eight of them seriously. A Burkinabe security source said about 200 unknown attackers had arrived just before dawn.”

The Manila Times: Terrorism Deaths Up In Africa, Down Elsewhere

“The number of people killed in terrorist attacks may have fallen worldwide, but it is increasing in Africa, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila). "Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 48 percent of deaths attributed to terrorist groups globally last year," he told a meeting of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact. Terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and their affiliates continue to grow in the Sahel and make inroads into Central and Southern Africa, Guterres said, adding that they exploit power vacuums, longstanding inter-ethnic strife, internal weaknesses and state fragilities. In conflict-affected countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya and Somalia, terrorism intensified cycles of violence, further fueling instability, undermining peace efforts and setting back development goals, the UN chief said. Such groups also exploit and manipulate grievances in society and mistrust governments in largely peaceful countries, such as Mozambique and Tanzania. But after visiting Nigeria's Borno state, once a stronghold of the feared Boko Haram group, Guterres is optimistic that it is on the road to reconciliation and reintegration.”

Germany

The Times Of Israel: Germany Records 29% Increase In Antisemitic Crimes In 2021

“The German government’s annual report on developments in extremism notes a nearly 29% increase in antisemitic crimes in 2021 over the previous year. The report, released Tuesday by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, is based on statistics reported in May by the Federal Criminal Police Office, Germany’s equivalent to the FBI. In all, 3,027 antisemitic incidents were registered last year, up from 2,351 in 2020. The vast majority were related to right-wing extremism, but Islamic extremist antisemitism is also up, with 122 reported incidents compared to 26 the year before. Most reported crimes related to illegal statements and publications — Holocaust denial and other forms of hate speech are outlawed in Germany — including on the internet. But attacks on people and synagogues were also registered. As usual, the number of incidents rose when tensions between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors were highest — in May 2021. The most worrying trends come in the form of burgeoning conspiracy theories relating Jews to the coronavirus pandemic and measures to curb it, leaders and watchdogs said.”

Australia

Voice Of America: Australian High Court Rules Government Cannot Strip Citizenship Of Dual Nationals Suspected Of Terrorism

“Australia’s High Court Wednesday struck down the power of the country’s government to strip the Australian citizenship of dual nationals suspected of affiliation with international terrorist groups. The High Court ruled in favor of Delil Alexander, a dual Turkish-Australian citizen, currently being held in Syria. He left Australia for Turkey in 2013, telling his family he was going to arrange a marriage and would return. However, he traveled to Syria where Australian intelligence agencies said he joined the Islamic State group. He was later detained by Kurdish forces. In 2019, he was jailed for 15 years by a Syrian court. Although he has since been pardoned by the Damascus government, he remains in prison. His lawyer in Sydney, Osman Samin, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that Australia was wrong to strip him of his citizenship because he had no affiliation with extremist groups. “Unfortunately, because Australia revoked his citizenship, he has remained in Syrian custody ever since because the Syrian authorities will not release him into the Syrian community and he is now being transferred to a prison in Damascus, which is unfortunately notorious for human rights abuses,” said Samin.”

Europe

The National: Far-Right Terrorist Who Allegedly Made Weapons On A 3D Printer Is Arrested In Slovakia

“A far-right terrorist who allegedly made mines on a 3D printer and carried out sabotage attacks has been arrested in Slovakia in a joint US and European operation. The 22-year-old man was arrested in Slovakia by the authorities on suspicion of committing several terrorist and extremist crimes following an investigation by Eurojust and Europol that included the American, Slovak and Czech authorities. Officers searched two locations, seizing a 3D printer and printed metal parts of weapons, computers and other electronic devices. “The arrested suspect is believed to sympathise and promote far-right white nationalist movements such as the neo-Nazi alternative right, the ideology of accelerationism and the siege culture,” Europol said. It said the suspect took part in “subversive and sabotage activities and acts of terrorism” to encourage the “overthrow of the democratic political system”. “He shared photos of glorified far-right extremists to publicly support their activities. He also committed several extremist crimes,” Europol said. It is also claimed the man published instructions and diagrams on how to make improvised stabbing weapons, and shared guidelines on how to carry out sabotage attacks.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On June 24, 2017, Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) launched back-to-back explosions at a market in Kurram Agency of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in northwest Pakistan. The attack killed 67 people who were shopping in preparation for a religious holiday and wounded 200 others. 

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