Eye on Extremism: June 15, 2022

Reuters: France Announces Capture Of Senior Islamic State Figure In Mali

“France announced on Wednesday that soldiers from its operation battling Islamist militants in the Sahel region of West Africa had captured Oumeya Ould Albakaye, a senior Islamic State figure in Mali. The French Armed Forces ministry said Albakaye was captured by Operation Barkhane forces between the night of June 11 and the early hours of June 12 close to the border between Mali and Niger. Souring relations between France and the military junta in its former colony of Mali have led France to withdraw troops that were deployed in 2013 to push back militants linked to al Qaeda, and later to Islamic State. Mali has been hit by violence since 2012 when jihadists took over the north. France beat them back, but by 2015 they had regrouped and unleashed a wave of attacks in the centre. They have since spread into Niger and Burkina Faso, raising concerns about regional instability.”

Reuters: Saudi Arabia And Yemen's Houthis Resume Direct Talks, Sources Say

“Warring parties Saudi Arabia and the Yemen's Houthi movement have resumed direct talks to discuss security along the kingdom's border and future relations under any peace deal with Yemen, two sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday. The so far sporadic negotiations between the two sides resumed last month before the scheduled renewal of a U.N.-brokered truce which was extended by another two months on June 2. The resumption in talks is a positive sign for efforts by the United Nations and United States to find a political settlement to the conflict which has killed tens of thousands of people and pushed Yemen to the brink of famine. The virtual talks between senior Saudi and Houthi officials were facilitated by Oman, both sources said, with one adding that there were also plans for a face-to-face meeting in Muscat if there is enough progress.”

United States

The Hill: What We Know About Patriot Front

“…Alex Fields, who killed a counterprotester after driving his car into the crowd and was later sentenced to life in prison, was seen wearing a Vanguard America uniform during the rally, according to the Counter Extremism Project. Vanguard America denied he was a member of the group. Thomas Ryan Rousseau, the leader of Vanguard America’s Texas chapter, founded Patriot Front after internal disagreements with the older organization. According to a Discord post reviewed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Rousseau announced he was forming Patriot Front because of Vanguard America’s “unwillingness to meet any semblance of a compromise” but said he would focus on similar goals under a new brand and name that represents “original American patriots.” “The word patriot itself comes from the same root as paternal and patriarch. It means loyalty to something intrinsically based in blood,” he wrote. Traditional garb for members includes a dark blue shirt, a white bandana stretched over the face and a brown baseball cap, making them easily identifiable. Patriot Front’s insignia is the fasces, a bundle of sticks with an axe inserted inside (with the head poking out) encircled by 13 stars, similar to those on the American flag. The fasces symbol dates back to the Roman Empire, which used the imagery to represent authority and power.”

Syria

AFP: Syrians Returning From Al-Hol Camp Stigmatised Over IS Ties

“Noura al-Khalif married an Islamic State group supporter and then wound up without her husband in a Syrian camp viewed by many as the last surviving pocket of the “caliphate”. The 31-year-old woman has been back in her hometown outside the northern city of Raqa for three years but she is struggling to shake off the stigma of having lived in the Al-Hol camp. “Most of my neighbours call me an IS supporter,” she told AFP from her father's house near Raqa, where she now lives with her two children. “I just want to forget but people insist on dragging me back, and ever since I left Al-Hol I haven't felt either financial or emotional comfort.” Al-Hol, in the Kurdish-controlled northeast, still houses about 56,000 people, mostly Syrians and Iraqis, some of whom maintain links with IS. About 10,000 are foreigners, including relatives of IS fighters, and observers are increasingly worried what was meant as a temporary detention facility is turning into a jihadist breeding ground. Most of Al-Hol's residents are people who fled or surrendered during the dying days of IS's self-proclaimed “caliphate” in early 2019. For staying, whether by choice or not, until the very end, they are seen as fanatical IS supporters, although the camp's population also includes civilians displaced by battles against the jihadists.”

Iraq

Kurdistan 24: Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service Continues Anti-ISIS Operations In Coordination With Kurdish Asayish

“Iraq's Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) arrested four ISIS members in coordination with the Kurdistan Region's Asayish in Sulaimani province on June 8. In a tweet on Monday, the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Levant (SOJTF) said that these joint operations “demonstrate Iraqi security forces are stronger together ensuring the lasting defeat of Daesh (ISIS).” The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service frequently cooperates with Kurdish Asayish forces (also known as Internal Security Forces) in the Kurdistan Region against ISIS. “The coordination between the CTS and KRG CT (Counter Terrorism) entities is by far the most detailed of all Iraqi Federal coordination with KRG,” retired US Army Special Forces Colonel and Middle East Foreign Area Officer David M. Witty told Kurdistan 24 on Monday. “It has been occurring for years, and there appears to be a level of trust that is missing in other Baghdad-Erbil security efforts.” On June 6, the Iraqi CTS arrested six ISIS leaders in coordination with the Kurdistan Region's Directorate of Counter-Terrorism. Also, on Apr. 12, the Iraqi CTS arrested two suspected ISIS members in a similar joint operation. Moreover, on Feb. 15, the Iraqi CTS announced the arrest of five suspected ISIS members following a coordinated operation with the Asayish in the Kurdistan Region capital Erbil.”

Afghanistan

Foreign Policy: Afghanistan’s Warlords Prepare Their Comeback

“Exiled warlords, power brokers, and ethnic leaders who fled Afghanistan last year ahead of the Taliban’s victory are threatening civil war unless the Islamists start negotiating to let them return home and reclaim their power and authority as an alternative to the nihilistic rule of the terrorists currently in charge. The band that broke Afghanistan in the early 1990s and hobbled it for years after is, in other words, getting back together. Unlike their first time around in power—right after the Soviet pullout in 1989—this time the warlords might even seem appealing, so awful is the Taliban regime that took over in August of last year. The back-to-the-future moment for the old guard came in May when 40 of the like-minded converged in the Turkish capital, Ankara, to meet with Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum and his hangers-on. Dostum, like some of his fellow warlords, used the wealth accumulated during the 20 years of the U.S.-backed Afghan republic to build his own patronage network, the coin of the realm in Afghanistan’s political landscape. At the time, Dostum and men like him supported the reconstruction effort funded by the United States and allies and encouraged education for women, including the dispatch of thousands of Afghan students abroad to stud.”

India

Reuters: Indian Forces In Kashmir Kill Militant Suspected Of Targetted Killing

“Indian forces in Kashmir killed two militants on Wednesday, one them suspected of gunning down a bank manager this month, police said, part of a stepped-up counter-insurgency effort that has triggered an exodus from the Muslim-majority region. India has been fighting an Islamist separatist insurgency in Kashmir since the late 1980s. Muslim Pakistan also claims the region over which the nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two of their three wars. "Indian troops killed two militants this morning in a gun battle, one of them, Jan Mohammad Lone, was involved in the killing of a bank manager," said Vijay Kumar, the police chief of Kashmir. Militants entered a branch of the Ellaquai Dehati Bank in Kulgam town this month and killed the manager, who came from the desert state of Rajasthan, and had only been posted to the branch four days earlier. A little-known militant group called the Kashmir Freedom Fighters claimed responsibility for the attack, warning outsiders not to settle in the Kashmir Valley.”

Yemen

Arab News: Houthis Break Truce With New Attacks On Taiz City

“The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen have launched coordinated attacks on the besieged city of Taiz, threatening to undermine a fragile UN-brokered truce. The Houthis bombarded government troops with artillery fire, heavy weapons and explosive drones on the northwestern, northeastern and northern sides of the city before launching three simultaneous ground attacks in a bid to seize control of new areas. “The Houthi attacks sparked heavy clashes with the national army troops that ended early on Tuesday,” Col. Abdul Basit Al-Baher told Arab News. Under the terms of the truce, the Houthis and the Yemeni government committed to joint work on opening roads in Taiz and other provinces. However, the Houthis continue to resist local and international calls to end their siege of Taiz as part of the truce, which came into effect at the beginning of April. Al-Baher said the militia had recently deployed at least 200 new fighters, tanks and artillery pieces in Taiz, apparently preparing to launch more attacks to capture the city center from government forces. “The truce is only from our side,” he said. “The Houthis have not respected it and are preparing for a long and fiercer battle in Taiz.” Two rounds of talks between the Yemeni government and the Houthis in Amman on opening roads in Taiz collapsed as the Houthis insisted on opening only small and unpaved roads.”

Libya

The Libya Observer: “Conflict In Libya Has Intensified Cycles Of Violence And Terrorism”, Guterres Says

“The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said during the eighth meeting of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact that the terrorism threat in Africa is in fact increasing, although the overall number of deaths from terrorism has declined. Guterres stressed that the international community cannot effectively address terrorism without tackling the conditions conducive to its spread, such as weak institutions, inequalities, poverty, hunger and injustice. “In conflict-affected countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Libya and Somalia, terrorism has intensified cycles of violence, fuelling further instability, undermining peace efforts, and setting back development goals”, Guterres added. He also stressed that “this Compact continuing to support Member States in their counter-terror efforts from technical assistance and capacity-building, to helping build institutions that are people-centred, and grounded in human rights and the rule of law.”

Nigeria

Premium Times Nigeria: Boko Haram Abducts Two Women In Konduga LG – Borno Police Chief

“The Borno State Commissioner of Police, Abdu Umar, says Boko Haram insurgents abducted two women in Mairari village in Konduga Local Government Area. Mr Umar made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Maiduguri. He said the incident occurred on June 7. “At about 7.30, one Ari Mustapha of Mairari village in Konduga, reported that some gun men suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents invaded his home and kidnapped his two daughters. “He said they were aged 26 and 30. “He also said that the insurgents stole two bulls and other belongings before fleeing away,” the commissioner said. The commissioner of police said that on receiving the information, a crack-team was deployed on a a search and rescue around the environment but to no avail. Mr Umar said that the command would intensify the search until the victims are rescued and reunited with their families. The commissioner urged the people to report any suspicious activities to the nearest security outfit around them.”

Africa

Reuters: Soldiers In Burkina Faso Recover 79 Bodies So Far After Weekend Attack

“Soldiers in Burkina Faso have recovered 79 bodies so far after an attack in the northern Seno province over the weekend, the government said on Tuesday, as new details of the assault emerged. At least 100 people were killed, and possibly as many as 165, in the attack, security and local sources have told Reuters. It was the deadliest attack in at least a year in the West African country, which is battling an insurgency by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Unidentified assailants first attacked a military police post in Seytenga, a department of Seno province, on Thursday evening, killing 11 gendarmes, the army said on Friday. It said that gendarmes fought back but were outnumbered. Three security sources told Reuters on Tuesday that the military police then withdrew to the regional capital, Dori, to regroup, leaving no one at the security post when armed men returned two days later and slaughtered dozens of civilians. Burkina Faso's army spokesman referred questions to the minister of security, who could not immediately be reached for comment. The government said that the search for bodies was continuing house by house. The search was slow because soldiers suspect the attackers left improvised explosive devices behind, it said.”

AFP: Eight Gendarmes Killed In Niger Attack

“Armed fighters killed eight gendarmes and injured 33 in a “terrorist” attack near Niger's border with Burkina Faso, the Nigerien government said on Tuesday. A defence ministry statement said “armed terrorists” riding motorcycles and other vehicles attacked the gendarmes in Waraou in southwestern Niger at around 05:30 am (0430 GMT) on Tuesday while they were carrying out a security mission in nearby villages. Around 50 “terrorists” had been killed, the ministry said, while six of the wounded gendarmes were in a serious condition. The statement said the gendarmes' swift reaction and support from national and international ground and air forces “routed the enemy”. The Nigerien army lost five cars and a lorry in the attack, the ministry added, with search operations in the area ongoing. Waraou is located in the restive Tillaberi region, which is part of the so-called “three borders” zone including neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso that has become a centre of jihadist attacks including groups affiliated with the Islamic State group. Waraou was the scene of another incident in February 2021, when seven members of Niger's national electoral commission died after their vehicle struck a mine. Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum has tried to change the government's approach in recent months by initiating dialogue with the jihadists.”

France

RFI: Defence Lawyers Launch Last, Crucial Phase Of November 2015 Terror Trial

“After ten days of heart-rending reminders of horror from the legal teams representing the victims, followed by last week's demands for punishment from the prosecution, on Monday the Paris attacks trial moved into a different emotional realm with the first of the closing statements from those defending the 14 accused. The change in atmosphere could not have been more striking. Since the start of June, we've heard the stories of the survivors, professionally retold by their lawyers. We have been chilled by the mastery of the prosecution, with their unflinching insistence on legally established facts. This time it's personal. Maître Judith Lévy is one of the two lawyers defending Ali Oulkadi. Oulkadi faces twenty years in jail for having given Salah Abdeslam a lift when the failed terrorist returned to Brussels the day after the Paris attacks. Last Friday, the prosecution called for him to serve five years. Maître Lévy explained that she had originally refused to take any part in this case. “Not for the victims, not for the defence. The answer was 'No!'“ Then, completely by chance, she found herself sitting in a prison meeting room, “a cupboard with a Velux,” when four prison officers brought in a broken man, handcuffed and hobbled, trembling like a beaten dog.”

Australia

Daily Mail: Australian Police Are So Focused On Islamic Terrorist Threats They Are Failing To Monitor Growing Risks From Far-Right Extremism, Inquiry Hears

“A 'myopic' focus on Islamist extremism in Australia since the September 11 attacks has come at the expense of monitoring the far-right groups, a parliamentary inquiry has been told. Liberty Victoria President Michael Stanton has acknowledged the recent emergence of far-right extremism in the state, citing neo-Nazis gathering in the Grampians and gallows erected outside state parliament as pandemic legislation was debated last year. He told an inquiry on Tuesday that far-right extremism is real but argued Victorian politicians need to be careful not to blindly expand executive powers, surveillance and censorship to combat its influence. 'We need to make sure that in responding to those confronting scenes in the Grampians - whether it be Nazi salutes or display of the swastika - or the erection of gallows outside parliament, that we do not have a legislative response that throws the baby out with the bathwater,' Mr Stanton said. 'Sometimes that involves tolerating speech that we find offensive or humiliating.' The barrister said Australian law enforcement agencies' focus has been drawn away from neo-Nazis and other far-right movements over the past 20 years by Islamist extremism. Both must be addressed, Mr Stanton said, but Victoria's parliament should not cast the net too wide with any reforms.”

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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