Eye on Extremism: June 17, 2022

Associated Press: Hezbollah Members Get Life Terms For Lebanese Leader's Death


“Appeals judges at an international tribunal sentenced two members of the militant Hezbollah group to life imprisonment Thursday for their roles in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the deaths of 21 other people in 2005. Neither of the convicted men, Hassan Habib Merhi and Hussein Hassan Oneissi, has been arrested and sent to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the Netherlands. They were tried in their absence and remain at large. Merhi and Oneissi were convicted on appeal in March of five crimes, including being accomplices to the intentional homicide of Hariri and the 21 others. They all were killed when plotters detonated a huge truck bomb outside a hotel on Beirut's seafront as Hariri's motorcade drove past. The blast wounded another 226 people and plunged Lebanon deeper into political turmoil. During a hearing Thursday, the tribunal’s president, Czech judge Ivana Hrdličková, said Merhi and Oneissi were receiving life sentences for each of their five convictions. If they are ever captured and imprisoned, the sentences would be served concurrently. Prosecutors appealed after the two men were acquitted nearly two years ago following a lengthy trial that found another Hezbollah member, Salim Ayyash, guilty of involvement in the Feb. 14, 2005, blast. Ayyash, who also was tried in absentia, received a life prison sentence.”


Reuters: Uganda's Army Says It Discovers Training Facility For Islamist Militia


“Uganda's military said on Thursday it had discovered bomb making material at a training facility for an Islamic State-allied rebel group around 60 kilometres west of the capital Kampala, and that three people had been detained. Authorities blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia based in the dense forests in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, for a series of bombings in Kampala and elsewhere late last year which left at least nine people dead. In one of the worst attacks, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of a police station in the centre of Kampala. Three minutes later two other suicide bombers detonated along a road that leads to the parliament. The training facility was found at the home of a local man, army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said during a media tour of the village of Kikubajinja in Luwero district. A tunnel used for training had been dug in one of the rooms, he said. Security personnel had become suspicious after reports emerged from neighbours that “nobody was allowed to enter, nobody would be seen getting out,” Kulayigye said. Authorities recovered bomb making materials including metal, nails and wires as well as bullets and a pistol fitted with a silencer, he said. In November the Ugandan army began a joint operation with the Congolese army to root out the ADF, which started as an uprising in Uganda but has been based in Congo since the late 1990s and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in mid-2019.”


United States


NBC News: Buffalo Shooting Suspect Said He Carried Out Attack 'For The Future Of The White Race,' Federal Complaint Says


“The white man accused of fatally shooting 10 Black people in a racist attack at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store wrote an apology note to his family and said he carried out the attack “for the future of the White race,” according to a federal criminal complaint. The handwritten note was discovered in the bedroom of Payton Gendron a day after the May 14 shooting at Tops Friendly Market left 10 people dead and three wounded — 11 of whom are Black and two white. Gendron, 18, was arrested at the store and faces 26 federal counts of hate crimes and firearms offenses, the Department of Justice announced Wednesday. He has already been indicted on 25 state criminal counts that include murder and attempted murder as a hate crime and weapons possession. In his note, he “apologized to his family for committing ‘this attack’ and stated that he ‘had to commit this attack’ because he cares ‘for the future of the White race,’” according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the Western District of New York. The FBI found the note after executing a federal search warrant at his Conklin, New York, home. Also discovered during the search was a receipt for a candy bar purchased at Tops on March 8 as well as what appears to be handwritten sketches of the interior layout of the store, according to the complaint.”


The Hill: GOP To DOJ: Investigate Vandalism At Anti-Abortion Centers As Domestic Terrorism


“More than 100 House Republicans signed on to a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking the Department of Justice to investigate vandalism and attacks at anti-abortion pregnancy centers as domestic terrorism. Incidents of vandalism and suspected arson ticked up after the publication of a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that recognized abortion rights. “The department has a clear duty to pursue these recent attacks as instances of domestic terrorism, and it is the responsibility of the National Security Division to protect the United States from threats to our national security by seeking justice through law,” the group said in the letter, signed by 126 House Republicans and led by Reps. Scott Franklin (Fla.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.) and Mike Johnson (La.). The letter listed a number of reports of attacks on pregnancy centers, which aim to steer pregnant women away from obtaining abortions.  One such center in Madison, Wis., last month was set ablaze in a suspected arson. Local reports said that a pro-abortion rights group called Jane’s Revenge took responsibility for the arson but could not verify the authenticity of the group’s statement.”


The Washington Times: 15 People On Terror Watch List Were Captured Sneaking Across The Southern Border In May


“Border Patrol agents nabbed 15 people at the southern border in May who were on the FBI’s terrorist screening database, showing the free-for-all along the U.S.-Mexico boundary is unabated. The number of people on the terrorist watch list caught crossing the border is a record for any month, equaling all of 2021 and more than the Border Patrol found from 2017 to 2020 combined. They were among nearly 240,000 total border jumpers Customs and Border Protection nabbed in May, marking the worst month on record for the Biden administration. Beneath those numbers is something worse. CBP had nearly 12,000 people in custody on any given day but ousted less than half of the illegal immigrants it encountered. The rest were either released outright at the border or transferred to other agencies, most of which would release them. The most worrying categories of migrants — unaccompanied juveniles and people traveling as families — also showed significant increases. The number of seizures, like the arrests of migrants, is considered a rough yardstick of the overall flow. So the drop in drug seizures likely means fewer drugs are getting through the border undetected. The rise in the number of migrants, including suspected terrorists, means more are probably getting through.”




The Jerusalem Post: Iranian Terror Attacks Against Israelis In Turkey Foiled


“Israel and Turkey have foiled multiple Iranian attempts on the lives of Israelis in Turkey in the last few days, N12 reported on Thursday. The joint operation revealed an extensive Iranian terror cell in Turkey that planned large attacks. Israelis who are in Turkey have been instructed to be extra careful, hide the fact that they are Israeli as much as possible and stay in constant contact with people at home. The threat level for traveling to Turkey was raised to the highest level on Monday, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid warned Israelis not to travel to Turkey. Following Lapid's announcement, a number of stories arose in which the Mossad intervened in Turkey, contacting Israelis who were being targeted and picking them up to take them to safety. Turkey reported on Monday that the authorities had detained a number of Iranians suspected of having ties to the IRGC.”




Arab News: Turkey Remands 16 Journalists On ‘Terror’ Charges


“Sixteen Turkish journalists linked to pro-Kurdish media outlets were remanded into custody on Thursday, pending trial and accused of belonging to a “terrorist organization,” a lawyer said. The journalists worked for media aligned with the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which risks being banned in Turkey over alleged links to outlawed militants waging a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state. The 16 were detained, along with four other journalists, on June 8 in Diyarbakir in southeast Turkey, accused of belonging to the press services of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), classed as a “terrorist” group by Ankara, the EU and the United States. The HDP denies formal ties to the PKK. On Thursday, the 16 were accused of “belonging to a terrorist organization,” according to the arrest document. A defense lawyer confirmed they had been jailed pending trial. They include Serdar Altan, co-president of a journalists’ association. The other four were released under judicial supervision. A representative from the Turkish arm of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Erol Onderoglu, denounced the detentions as an attempt to weaken the “Kurdish political class... and deprive them of a voice” ahead of Turkey’s presidential election next year. Turkey says it is planning to launch an offensive in northern Syria against Kurdish militants.”




Reuters: Yemeni Journalist Killed In Car Blast In Aden


“A Yemeni journalist was killed in a car explosion in Aden late on Wednesday, police said, in the latest incident of violence in Yemen's southern port city. Initial investigations indicated that an explosive device had been planted on the car driven by Saber al-Haidari, according to a police statement published by the southern armed forces in Aden. The statement did not specify which media outlet Haidari, 40, worked for. Firefighters doused the charred wreckage of the car on a main street in Aden, which has seen an increase in violence in recent months. A car bombing in March killed a senior Yemeni military leader and three of his entourage in what authorities described as an attack by “terrorist elements”. Last November, a pregnant Yemeni journalist was killed in a car explosion. Her husband, also a journalist, was injured. Yemen has been mired in a seven-year conflict between a Saudi Arabian-led military coalition and the Iran-aligned Houthi movement that largely holds North Yemen. Among Yemen's many destabilising forces are Islamist military groups like Al Qaeda and Islamic State that have, in the past, carried out attacks, including in the south.”


Middle East


Associated Press: Palestinians Say 3 Killed During Israeli Raid In West Bank


“Israeli forces shot dead three Palestinians and wounded eight others early Friday during a military operation in the occupied West Bank town of Jenin, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. The military said the troops traded fire with militants. The Israeli military has been carrying out near-daily raids in the occupied West Bank since a string of attacks earlier this year killed 19 people in Israel. Many of the arrest raids have been launched in and around Jenin, the hometown of several of the attackers. The military said it raided two locations in search of weapons. At the first, it says soldiers fired back after Palestinians opened fire and hurled explosive devices at them. On their way to the second location, they exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen in a vehicle, the army said. The military did not say whether any of the militants were killed. It said the troops confiscated rifles, a submachine gun and other equipment from inside the vehicle. Heavy exchanges of gunfire could be heard in videos circulated on social media. Later, footage on social media showed a bullet-riddled vehicle with bloodstains and residents inspecting it. Hundreds of angry residents gathered outside a Jenin hospital after the overnight raid, chanting “God is Greatest” and calling for revenge, before carrying the three bodies on stretchers through the town in a spontaneous funeral procession. The three were to be buried later Friday.”




The Washington Post: Burkina Faso Massacre Highlights A Strengthening Insurgency


“When Amadou Dicko heard the first shots, he knew he had to flee. The 30-year-old told his family to leave their belongings and run as insurgents descended Saturday on Seytenga, a village in northern Burkina Faso. Gunmen killed at least 79 people in the attack that followed, government officials said, making it one of the deadliest since Islamist extremists gained a foothold in the West African nation seven years ago. Dicko, whose best friend was fatally shot, described it as “total carnage.” The massacre in Seytenga underscored the increasingly perilous security situation in Burkina Faso, where military leaders ousted the president in a coup in January. At the time, officers promised to restore peace to the country, where militants linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda have killed thousands and displaced more than 1.5 million. But violence has only intensified under military rule. Attacks by insurgents have increased by 23 percent in the five months since Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba took power, compared with the five months before the coup, said Héni Nsaibia, a senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). Fatalities — including civilians, militants and security forces — increased by 15 percent during the same time period, according to Nsaibia’s data.”


Al Jazeera: Forty Fighters ‘Neutralised’ In Drone Strikes In Niger


“French drone strikes have killed nearly 40 fighters earlier travelling on motorcycles near Niger’s border with Burkina Faso, France’s military said on Thursday. In a statement, the French military called the strikes a “new tactical success” for France’s counterterrorism efforts in Africa’s Sahel region, named Operation Barkhane. “Intelligence obtained from Nigerien units in contact with the column confirmed that the motorcycles belonged to an armed terrorist group moving between Burkina Faso and Niger,” Barkhane said in the statement. “In close coordination with Niger’s Armed Forces, the Barkhane force conducted several strikes against the column. Nearly 40 terrorists were neutralised.” Niger’s government also issued a statement saying the fighters were killed after an attack earlier this week killed eight security forces in southwestern Niger. The drone strikes in Niger come as France reorganises its military efforts in the broader Sahel region, the vast area south of the Sahara Desert where it was once a colonial power and still maintains strong economic ties. Niger has become a more reliable ally after military coups overthrew the democratically elected presidents of neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso over the last two years.”




Associated Press: Swiss Indict Turkish-Swiss Man Over Alleged Jihadist Murder


“Swiss federal prosecutors said Thursday they have issued an indictment for murder and other charges against a 28-year-old Swiss-Turkish man in connection with the “jihadist-motivated homicide” of a Portuguese man in western Switzerland two years ago. If the motive is confirmed, it would be a rare occurrence in Switzerland amid a wave of violent attacks by Islamic extremists in Europe and beyond since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. The attorney general’s office says the man, who was not identified, carried out the Sept. 12, 2020, attack in the town of Morges, near Lausanne, “with the aim of exacting revenge for the victims of the war between the coalition states and the ‘Islamic State’.” That referred to a conflict linked to the armed extremist group’s takeover of swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria in the mid-2010s. The suspect, a resident of the French-speaking Vaud region of western Switzerland, was taken into custody the day after the attack and has been held in pre-trial detention ever since. In November that year, the suspect attacked and attempted to kill a guard, and attacked an officer of the federal police, the prosecutor’s office said.”


Southeast Asia


Associated Press: Philippine Officials Designate 11 Insurgents ‘Terrorists’


“The Philippine government has designated a former peace negotiator and five other suspected communist rebel leaders as “terrorists” in a move that allowed the freezing of their financial assets, which officials said could be used to finance attacks. The Anti-Terrorism Council separately designated as terrorists five commanders of the Abu Sayyaf, a small but violent Muslim militant group in the country’s south. They have been linked to the Islamic State group in an announcement made public Wednesday. Long-running communist and Muslim insurgencies are among key security problems President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stands to inherit when he takes office on June 30. Although considerably weakened by decades of offensives, infighting and factionalism, the communist and Muslim insurgents remain national security threats. The six rebel leaders accused of membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing the New People’s Army and related organizations were led by Luis Jalandoni, a former Roman Catholic priest who joined the communist rebellion, one of the longest-raging in Asia. He gained national prominence as the chief rebel negotiator for decades in peace talks with the Philippine government brokered by Norway until he retired years ago.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


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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