Eye on Extremism: June 16, 2022

The Wall Street Journal: Senior ISIS Leader Captured In Syria, U.S. Military Officials Say

“U.S.-led coalition forces seized a man that officials described as a senior leader of Islamic State in an operation in northeast Syria late Wednesday. Military forces detained Hani Ahmed al-Kurdi, assessed to be a bomb maker and facilitator who had become one of Islamic State’s senior leaders in Syria, U.S. military officials said in a statement. They didn’t disclose more details about the raid that led to Mr. al-Kurdi’s arrest. “The mission was meticulously planned to minimize the risk of collateral damage, particularly any potential harm to civilians,” Operation Inherent Resolve, the command that oversees operations against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said in a statement. “There were no civilians harmed during the operation nor any damage to coalition aircraft or assets.” Although Islamic State, also known as ISIS, isn’t as strong as it once was, it remains a threat in the region, Central Command officials said. “This operation in northeast Syria demonstrates our commitment to the security of the region and to the enduring defeat of ISIS,” said Army Gen. Erik Kurilla, the head of U.S. Central Command, in a brief statement. Gen. Kurilla is on an unrelated tour in Tajikistan to meet leaders in Central Asia. It was the first known operation of any significance since the U.S. conducted a raid in February against Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi, considered at the time to be the leader of Islamic State in Syria.”

CNN: US Imposes Terrorist Designation On Man Tied To Russian White Supremacist Group

“The United States government on Wednesday designated an individual connected to the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM) -- an ultranationalist, White supremacist organization -- as a terrorist and sanctioned two others for involvement with the group. The organization and three of its leaders were classified as terrorists in 2020 by the US State Department -- the first time in history the agency had designated a White supremacist group as such. On Wednesday, the State Department announced it was designating Anton Thulin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) “for posing a significant risk of committing acts of terrorism.” Thulin, a Swedish national, traveled to Russia in 2016 “and received paramilitary training from RIM, including in bomb-making,” according to a statement from State Department spokesperson Ned Price. He was convicted by a Swedish court in 2017 and sentenced to 22 months in prison “in connection with the detection of a powerful homemade bomb near a refugee residential center in Gothenburg, Sweden,” Price said. According to the State Department, “after serving his sentence, Thulin sought to receive additional paramilitary training in Poland, before he was expelled by Polish authorities who cited the 'serious, real, and current threat to security and public order' he posed.”

Iraq

Kurdistan 24: Iraqi Security Forces Dismantle An ISIS Assassination Cell In Diyala

“Iraqi Security Forces arrested four members of an ISIS cell tasked with conducting assassinations in the country's central-eastern Diyala province on Wednesday. The Security Media Cell, a media outlet affiliated with Iraq's armed forces, stated that security services were able to “arrest four terrorists against whom judicial warrants were issued” in accordance with the anti-terrorism law. The statement added that the wanted men constituted a “security detachment tasked with carrying out assassinations.” The media cell also said that one of the wanted individuals was an official “who held the position of the so-called Shariah of al-Azim region in Diyala.” The “second was an assistant to the commander of the region,” and the remaining two were merely described as “terrorists”. Security forces said the arrest was made “based on intelligence and a field effort.” However, it did not mention where the arrest took place. ISIS cells remain active in rural parts of northern and western Iraq and launch sporadic attacks against Iraq and Kurdish security forces and civilians. ISIS was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017 following a three-year war to reclaim the third of the country's territory the group infamously conquered and declared its self-styled caliphate on top of in 2014.”

Turkey

Asharq Al-Awsat: Turkey Says Taking Necessary Measures To Fight Terrorism

“Turkey on Tuesday affirmed it is taking all the necessary security measures within the framework of its cooperation mechanisms in the fight against terrorism. “It is a fact that Turkey is a safe country and continues to fight against terrorism in the most effective way through domestic and cross-border operations. The successful results in fight against terrorism can be seen clearly,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ambassador Tanju Bilgic said in a statement. His comments came after Israel raised its Istanbul travel advisory to the highest level on Monday because of what it said was a threat of Iranian attempts to kill or abduct Israelis vacationing in Turkey. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said a “huge effort” by Israel's security forces had saved “Israeli lives in recent weeks.” His warning followed the assassination of a senior officer in the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Col. Hassan Sayyad Khodaei, which Iran blamed on Israel. Bilgic said the “travel warnings are considered to be related to different international developments and motives. In fact, our relevant authorities are taking all the necessary security measures within the framework of our cooperation mechanisms regarding the fight against terrorism.”

Afghanistan

Axios: Biden Administration Expands Terrorism-Related Exemptions For Afghan Evacuees

“The Department of Homeland Security and State Department announced on Tuesday that they would expand the number of terrorism-related exemptions to allow Afghan evacuees who worked with and supported the U.S. government to qualify for protection and immigration benefits. Why it matters: Existing exemptions from terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds (TRIG) include providing material support under duress and voluntary medical care to terrorist groups. Exemptions have been used more than 30 times by previous administrations, including in 2019 when the Trump administration invoked it for immigration applicants who had ties with the Lebanese Forces or Kataeb Militias during the Lebanese Civil War, according to the DHS statement. The big picture: The departments said the three new exemptions will be applied on a case-by-case basis to rigorously screened individuals to ensure that those eligible won't be automatically denied benefits or protection. One of the exemptions will apply to Afghans who supported U.S. military interests in the country, such as by fighting with or supporting the resistance movement against the Taliban. Another exemption will be for civil servants, such as teachers and postal workers, who worked in their roles during Taliban rule, either from 1996 to 2001 or after August 2021. This will not apply to those who held high-level positions.”

Pakistan

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. At least 16 people - both Hindu and Muslims - have been killed in targeted attacks in Kashmir this year. Kumar said troops were tracking militants and had killed eight involved in killings in recent weeks.”

Saudi Arabia

The National: Saudi Arabia Adds Pro-Houthi Yemenis And Companies To Terror List

“Saudi Arabia has added 19 people and companies from Yemen to its list of designated terrorists. The eight Yemenis and 11 companies were listed late on Tuesday for their links to the financial transactions of the Houthi rebel group, said Saudi Arabia's Presidency of State Security. Some were also listed because of links to Al Qaeda and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The designation involves the “freezing of all assets belonging to the 19 designated individuals and entities and prohibiting dealing with them or for their benefit”, the Presidency of State Security said in a statement. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will continue to work to stop the influence of the terrorist Houthi militia and to target the most prominent individuals and entities who provide them with financial support and cause violence.” This is the second time in a week that Yemenis have been designated for their ties to the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. On June 7, Saudi Arabia, the other Gulf Co-operation Council states and the US added 16 individuals and entities to their terrorist lists. Some are linked to Iran’s IRGC, ISIS and the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria. Of the 11 companies listed on Tuesday, eight were named for importing Iranian oil and facilitating financial transactions for the Houthis. Yemeni President Rashad Al Alimi earlier praised the Arab League’s decision to list the Houthis as a terrorist organisation.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Israeli Court Finds Gaza Aid Worker Guilty On Terror Charges

“An Israeli court on Wednesday found a Gaza aid worker guilty of several terrorism charges in a high-profile case in which his employer, independent auditors and the Australian government say they have found no evidence of wrongdoing. Mohammed el-Halabi, the Gaza director for the international Christian charity World Vision, was arrested in 2016 and accused of diverting tens of millions of dollars to the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules the territory. The trial, and his prolonged detention, have further strained relations between Israel and humanitarian organizations that provide aid to Palestinians. Both he and World Vision have denied the allegations and an independent audit in 2017 also found no evidence of support for Hamas. His lawyer, Maher Hanna, has said el-Halabi turned down several plea bargain offers on principle that would have allowed him to walk free. El-Halabi has not yet been sentenced. World Vision said he would appeal the ruling, which was largely based on classified information that has not been made public but was shared with the defense. The district court in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba said el-Halabi was guilty of several charges, including membership in a terror organization, providing information to a terror group, taking part in militant exercises and carrying a weapon.”

Somalia

Channel 4: Inside Al Shabaab: The Extremist Group Trying To Seize Somalia

“For more than fifteen years the extremist group Al Shabaab has been fighting a bloody insurgency in Somalia. Now, as President Biden redeploys American troops to the country, are the group winning the fight? Formed in 2002, by 2008 they controlled much of southern Somalia. They soon pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda and began conducting attacks at home and abroad. In September 2013 they killed nearly 70 people in the Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Then again in Kenya in April 2015 Al Shabaab militants killed 148 people at Garissa University College. Back home in the Somali capital Mogadishu they carried out their most deadly attack in October 2017, killing more than five hundred people in a massive truck bombing. In the years that have followed, the group’s attacks have become routine. They often kill dozens of civilians a month, as they battle the African Union troops there to try and keep them at bay. Now emboldened by the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan following the US withdrawal, the group are cementing control of their territory, with the aim to take the whole country and implement strict Sharia law. At the moment, Al Shabaab control vast swathes of central and southern Somalia but their reach spreads far further, with Somali government control diminishing.”

All Africa: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Commander Killed In Somali Army Operation

“A Senior Al-Shabaab militant commander was on Tuesday morning killed after Somali National Army's Commandos, Danab Unit conducted a special operation in Wala-weyn district in the Lower Shabelle region, SONNA reported, citing an SNA official. Mohamed Abdukadir Ali, Commander of the SNA's 16th Danab Unit told Somali National News Agency that the operation was aimed at reducing the threat of terrorists and pursuing key operatives in the region. He said that the forces killed Hassan Suleyman Ali, a senior terrorist militant commander who was in charge of Intelligence in the region, adding they are still pursuing other operatives hiding there. The Army also killed a dozen others during military operations in central Somalia's Hiiraan region yesterday.”

Africa

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 defense 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 neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso that has become a center 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.”

Sahara Reporters: Police Arrest 87 Suspected Boko Haram Terrorists, Kidnappers, Others In North-East Nigeria

“At least, 87 persons are in police custody for alleged terrorism, abductions, rape and culpable homicide in North-East Nigeria, SaharaReporters learnt on Wednesday. According to the Borno State Police command, some of the suspects arrested were found with lethal firearms and have been charged with criminal offences including cattle rustling. Parading the suspects on Wednesday in Maiduguri, the state police commissioner, Abdu Umar disclosed that the suspects were arrested in Maiduguri metropolis, Jere, Konduga, Gwoza and Hauwul councils and some parts of Adamawa and Taraba states. Umar said, “The Police arrested five terror suspects and recovered 3 gun trucks, machine guns and two AK-47 rifles with live ammunition.” He added that the suspects had links to Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists. He noted that investigations were in progress, as some of the suspects were in the custody of the military. He added that “6 suspects were arrested on May 30, 2022, for alleged kidnappings in Borno, Adamawa and Taraba states. “The police crack team stormed a Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) in Njimtilo area of Maiduguri, some of them are leaders of kidnap syndicates in the North-East.”

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. 

View Archive

CEP on Twitter