Eye on Extremism: June 21, 2022

The Washington Post: Former Journalist Among Five British Men Released From Taliban Custody

“Five British men held by the Taliban have been released, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office said in a statement Monday. The men were arrested nearly six months ago on charges of “violating Afghan law and the Afghan people’s traditions,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, tweeted. Mujahid did not provide any further details on the charges against the men or their time in detention. Arrests of foreigners by the Taliban began late last year and continued for months as its leadership cracked down on activists and journalists accused of working in the country without proper documentation. “An understanding was reached following a series of meetings between the British government and Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” Mujahid said, adding that the detainees were handed over to U.K. authorities on Sunday. Among those released was former BBC cameraman Peter Jouvenal, according to a statement from his family, who said he was held for six months. “We are grateful to the thousands of people who have supported the campaign to release him,” the statement read. Jouvenal’s family also thanked Britain’s Foreign Office, “who have worked tirelessly to secure his release.” The news of the men’s release comes a day after a rare statement from the U.K. Foreign Office condemning political violence by all parties in Afghanistan.”

Associated Press: Pakistan To Stay On Terror Financing Watchdog's 'Gray List'

“An international watchdog said Friday it will keep Pakistan on a so-called “gray list” of countries that do not take full measures to combat money laundering and terror financing but raised hopes that its removal would follow an upcoming visit to Islamabad to determine its progress. The announcement by Marcus Pleyer, the president of the Financial Action Task Force, was a blow to Pakistan’s newly elected government, which believes that it has mostly complied with the tasks set by the organization. Expectations had been high in Pakistan that the FATF would announce its removal from the list at Friday’s meeting in Berlin. Instead, Pleyer said an inspection by the FATF in Pakistan would take place before October, and that a formal announcement on the country's removal would follow. He praised Islamabad for implementing the organization’s action plans — a clear indication that Pakistan is moving closer to getting off the “gray list.” “Pakistan is not being removed from the gray list list today. The country will be removed from the list if it successfully passes the onsite visit,” he said. “Pakistan’s continued political commitment to combating both terrorist financing and money laundering has led to significant progress,” the FATF said in a statement, adding that Pakistan’s “necessary political commitment remains in place to sustain implementation and improvement in the future.”

United States

The Hill: To Fight White Supremacist Terrorism At Home, Fight It Abroad

“Four weeks ago, the world watched in horror as a white supremacist gunned down 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo, N.Y., targeting them because they were Black. A 180-page manifesto that the accused gunman allegedly posted online promoted the “Great Replacement theory,” the notion that an influx of non-whites is causing the “extinction” of “the white race,”and praised the notorious 2019 attack on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand.  Unfortunately, Buffalo may be just the tip of the iceberg. White supremacist terrorism is a global — and growing — threat. To fight it here at home, we must fight it abroad. From Christchurch to Buffalo, from El Paso to Oslo and beyond, the world has witnessed a dramatic spike in such attacks. Perpetrators have attacked mosques and synagogues, grocery stores and refugee centers, and countless other soft targets, seeking to terrorize religious and minority communities. They’ve targeted Jews, Muslims and immigrants. They’re motivated by deep hatred of those they perceive as threats to their identity, and they’re often animated by virulent antisemitism. It’s clear that this threat is on the rise. From 2011 to 2017, there were approximately 350 white supremacist terrorist attacks in Europe, North America, and Australia, according to a New York Times analysis.”

NPR: Far Right Groups Shift Focus To LBGTQ Events. Their Hateful Aim Hasn't Changed

“Two incidents in which far-right extremists targeted LGBTQ events earlier this month marked what appeared to be a shift in focus for white supremacist activists. A group of men with ties to the white nationalist Patriot Front was arrested outside a Pride event in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho. The same day, alleged members of the far-right Proud Boys crashed a children's drag queen storytelling event and shouted homophobic and transphobic slurs, in what Alameda, Calif., sheriffs are now investigating as a possible hate crime. Earlier iterations of Patriot Front and the Proud Boys were among the neo-Nazi factions who sought to intimidate the Charlottesville, Va., community at the “Unite the Right” rally in 2017. So, why would members of a white supremacist group — many of whom, in the case of the Idaho event, had traveled from other states — choose to target a local Pride event? Extremism researchers say the far-right activists are seizing on an opportunity of heightened attention around cultures that they have always seen as a threat to their hateful interests. And the particular events the extremists chose to target that Saturday had in recent weeks drawn negative attention among the far-right online networks that fuel their hate activism.”

ABC 13: 3 Houston-Area Men Federally Charged With Providing Material To ISIS

“Three Houston-area men have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, records show. Abdulrahman Mohammed Hafedh Alqaysi, 24, and his cousin Mohammed (aka Moe) Amer Faisal Al Qaysi, 26, another former Iraqi refugee, and Hami Jamshid aka Jamshid Ahmadzai, 32, a naturalized U.S. citizen were taken into custody on June 16. Hafedh Al Qaysi, Faisal Al Qaysi and Jamshid resided in Richmond, Houston and Sugar Land.  Hafedh Al Qaysi did unlawfully and knowingly conspire and agree with others known and unknown to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to the charges. The 24-year-old was also charged with three counts of making a false statement in a naturalization application. The indictment alleges that he falsely answered “no” when asked if he had ever been a member of or in any way associated, either directly or indirectly, with a terrorist organization, or if he was ever a part of any group or ever helped any group, unit or organization that used a weapon against any person or threatened to do so. Hafedh Alqaysi, Faisal Al Qaysi and Jamshid all falsely answered “no” to that question, according to the indictment.”

Syria

Reuters: Bus Attack Claimed By ISIS Kills 13 In Syria's Raqqa

“Eleven government soldiers and two civilians were killed in an attack on a bus in northern Syria on Monday, the defence ministry said, and the Islamic State militant group later claimed responsibiliy for the action. Syrian state news agency SANA said the attack took place in the Jabal al-Bishri region of Raqqa province. A defence ministry statement said that 11 soldiers and two civilians were killed in what it called a terrorist attack on a civilian bus. Three soldiers were wounded, it said. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on one of its channel on the Telegram messaging app. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the ambush had been carried out by Islamic State sleeper cells that launch hit-and-run attacks in the country's desert areas. Syria's 11-year-old conflict has carved the country into various zones of control, with government troops and allied fighters controlling the most territory. A patch of northwestern territory is held by Turkish-backed rebels and more hardline groups while Kurdish-led forces with U.S. backing hold the northeast. One of the deadliest bus ambushes was in December 2020, when 28 people were killed in an attack on a main highway in Syria's eastern Deir al-Zor province.”

Iraq

The National: Iraq Says It Has Killed Senior ISIS Leader In Air Strike

“Iraq has announced the killing of a senior ISIS field commander in an air strike in the west of the country. Sunday’s statement identified the leader as the so-called Wali of Anbar, another name for ruler or governor. It gave only his nickname, Abu Mansour. Three other militants were killed in the air strike carried out by the Iraqi Air Force in co-ordination with the Federal Intelligence and Investigation Agency, the statement said. Handout pictures showed a damaged lorry in a desert area. Nearby lay a charred body, rifles and ammunition, and plastic bags full of oranges and cucumbers as well as biscuits. The dead commander had been behind attacks against travellers in Iraq's Rutba area, on the main road linking Baghdad to Amman in Jordan, the statement said. He assumed different positions in Iraq and Syria. The statement said: “ISIS terrorist gangs have lost one of the most important criminal leaders.” It did not say when the strike was carried out. In mid-2014, ISIS overran large parts of Iraq and Syria, declaring a “caliphate” in the two neighbouring countries. Backed by a US-led international coalition, Iraq announced victory against ISIS in late 2017 after three years of gruelling fighting. However, the terrorist group's cells continue to mount hit-and-run attacks, particularly in vast desert regions of northern and western Iraq near the border with Syria.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Explosion Inside Mosque In Northern Afghanistan Kills 1

“An explosion ripped through a mosque in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz province on Friday, killing at least one worshipper and wounding seven others, a Taliban official said. Dozens of people had gathered inside the mosque in the district of Imam Sahib for Friday prayers when an explosive device that had been planted there went off, said Obaidullah Abedi, the Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Kunduz police chief. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack and an investigation was underway. Lately, the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, has increased attacks on mosques and minorities across the country. The IS affiliate, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014, is seen as the greatest security challenge facing the country’s new Taliban rulers. Following their takeover when they seized power in Kabul and elsewhere in the country last August, the Taliban have launched a sweeping crackdown against the IS headquarters in eastern Afghanistan. Last month, in a similar attack at a mosque in the capital of Kabul killed at least five people and wounded 22. In April, a powerful explosion ripped through Khalifa Aga Gul Jan Mosque — also in Kabul — during Friday prayers, killing at least 10 people and wounding as many as 30 others.”

CNN: Islamic State Says Attack On Sikh Temple Is Revenge For Prophet Insults

“An Islamic State affiliate has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sikh temple in Afghanistan's capital Kabul that killed at least two people and injured seven. The attack on Saturday was “an act of revenge” following insults made by members of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party about the Prophet Mohammed, ISIS-Khorasan said on its Telegram channel. Nupur Sharma, a spokesperson for the party, had made derogatory remarks regarding the Prophet Mohammed during a panel discussion on a news channel and her comments were allegedly followed by anti-Islam comments by another party leader on Twitter. Seven gunmen had tried to storm the temple in the early hours of Saturday morning and all were killed after a standoff that lasted several hours, according to Kabul police. ISIS-K said in its Telegram post that its suicide bomber Abu Muhammad al-Tajik had gained entry to the temple by throwing a hand grenade at the security guard officer at the entrance, killing him. “Armed with a rifle, pistol and hand grenades, he proceeded to shoot,” the worshippers inside the temple, ISIS-K said. A temple official said 30 people were inside the temple at the time. ISIS-K also claimed its members had clashed with Taliban government fighters trying to reach the temple, targeting them with a car bomb and four other explosive devices.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Officials: Militants Target Labor Camp In Pakistan, Kill 3

“Militants attacked a road construction labor camp in southwestern Baluchistan province overnight killing three workers and wounding five others, officials said Saturday. The assailants late Friday opened fire on the camp, burned vehicles and destroyed machinery in a mountainous part of the district of Harnai, said Farah Azeem Shah, spokesperson for the Baluchistan provincial government. She said the camp was part of a local company working on a road construction project. Five workers were missing from the camp after the attack, said Rafiq Tareen, district deputy commissioner. He said security forces started a search operation but the terrain was difficult. Later, he said two of the five workers were found nearby. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but separatist groups involved in a low-level insurgency in Baluchistan have staged similar attacks targeting non-local workers they accuse of taking jobs in the province. Separatist groups in the mineral and gas rich province like the Baluchistan Nationalist Army want independence from Islamabad. Separately, a militant and a soldier were killed in a shootout in the northwestern North Waziristan district Saturday. A military statement said security forces recovered arms and ammunition at the spot where the militant was killed.”

Nigeria

AFP: Suspected Jihadists Kill 10 People In Northeast Nigeria

“Gunmen suspected to be linked to the Islamic State on Saturday killed 10 people in the latest spate of violence in northeast Nigeria's Borno state, militia sources told AFP. The 10 victims, nine men and a woman, were scavenging for metal scrap from vehicles burnt in military operations in Goni Kurmi village, near the town of Bama, when they were attacked, two militia sources told AFP. “The 10 people were all shot,” militia leader Babakura Kolo said. “The victims were in the village to scavenge for metal scraps when they ran into the terrorists who shot them dead,” said Kolo. The bodies of the victims were recovered by the civilian force and brought to Bama, according to Ibrahim Liman, another militiaman who gave the same toll. The Nigerian army, deployed in the region, has not yet commented on the attack. Jihadists have recently been attacking civilians collecting metal scrap, accusing them of spying on them for the military. ISWAP, which split from mainstream Boko Haram jihadist group in 2016, has become the dominant threat in northeast Nigeria. Late on Friday ISWAP militants also attacked the town of Monguno, killing three militiamen and abducting three civilians, according to security sources and aid workers.”

Somalia

Reuters: Somalia Security Forces, Residents Kill 70 Militants In Attack, Says Official

“Armed residents and local security forces in Somalia's Galmudug state killed 70 Al Shabaab fighters as they repulsed a raid by militants on Bahdo town on Friday, a local official said. The state broadcaster posted images on Twitter of at least 20 bodies in military fatigues that it said were among the attackers who were slain. Al Shabaab's Radio Andalus said in a broadcast that the al Qaeda-linked group lost nine fighters and said it's fighters had killed 27 soldiers during a fierce battle after morning prayers. Reuters could not independently verify the claims. “Armed residents and clerics shot dead fighters from every window of every house and from every alley,” Ahmed Shire, information minister of Galmudug state, told Reuters. He said two children and a cleric from the town were killed in the fighting, while four car bombs were defused after the insurgents had fled.”

All Africa: Somalia Slaps Two ISIS Couple With Long Jail Terms

“Somali Military court sentenced two ISIS members to 15 years of imprisonment on Thursday, according to the state media. Dayib Moalim Mohamed Hassan and Halima Abdi Mursal Ibrahim were sentenced to 15 years in prison each after a military court found them guilty of belonging to ISIS. The two militants were married under the names of Mustaf and Hawa based on the orders of their superiors and they were in charge of making and storing the bombs. The two suspects were arrested by security forces in March this year and were brought to court today.”

Mali

France 24: Suspected Jihadists Kill More Than 130 Civilians In Central Mali, Officials Say

“Suspected jihadists massacred more than 130 civilians over the weekend in neighbouring central Mali towns, the latest mass killings in the troubled Sahel region. Local officials reported scenes of systematic killings by armed men in Diallassagou and two surrounding towns in the Bankass circle, a longtime hotbed of Sahelian violence. “They have also been burning huts, houses, and stealing cattle -- it's really a free-for-all,” said a local official who for security reasons spoke on the condition of anonymity. He and another official, who like him had fled his village, said the death toll was still being counted on Monday. Nouhoum Togo, a local official from Bankass, the main town in the area, said it was even higher than the 132 announced by the government, who have blamed al-Qaeda affiliated jihadists for the killings. The national authorities broke their silence on Monday afternoon after alarming reports proliferated on social networks over the weekend. Togo told AFP that army operations in the area two weeks ago had led to clashes with jihadists. On Friday, the jihadists returned on several dozen motorbikes to take revenge on the population, he added. “They arrived and told the people, 'You are not Muslims' in Fulani, then took the men away, and a hundred people went with them,” he said. “Some two kilometres away, they systematically shot people.”

Africa

Bloomberg: UN Experts Warn Of Islamic State Tie To Islamist Rebels In Congo

“United Nations experts warned of growing communication between the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant region and an Islamist rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo known as the Allied Defence Forces, or ADF. Despite joint military operations against the group by the Congolese and Ugandan armies since November, the ADF has expanded its area of operations in gold and oil-rich Ituri province over the past year, the UN’s group of experts on Congo said in their annual report published Friday. Communication between the Islamic State and the ADF “strengthened” during this time, though the experts could not document “direct support to and command and control over ADF.” The report warned that recruiters for the rebels were active throughout central Africa, “in particular along the Kenyan and Tanzanian coastlines and in Burundi.” The ADF, which originated in Uganda more than two decades ago, has been linked to the death of more than 1,300 people since 2021, according to the UN, along with multiple bombings and attempted bombings in Congo, Uganda and Rwanda. The group has also stepped up its use of suicide attacks, sophisticated explosive devices and violent propaganda videos, the report said.”

Associated Press: Witnesses Say More Than 200 Killed In Ethiopia Ethnic Attack

“Witnesses in Ethiopia said Sunday that more than 200 people, mostly ethnic Amhara, have been killed in an attack in the country's Oromia region and are blaming a rebel group, which denies it. It is one of the deadliest such attacks in recent memory as ethnic tensions continue in Africa's second most populous country. “I have counted 230 bodies. I am afraid this is the deadliest attack against civilians we have seen in our lifetime,” Abdul-Seid Tahir, a resident of Gimbi county, told The Associated Press after barely escaping the attack on Saturday. “We are burying them in mass graves, and we are still collecting bodies. Federal army units have now arrived, but we fear that the attacks could continue if they leave.” Another witness, who gave only his first name, Shambel, over fears for his safety, said the local Amhara community is now desperately seeking to be relocated somewhere else “before another round of mass killings happen.” He said ethnic Amhara that settled in the area about 30 years ago in resettlement programs are now being “killed like chickens.”

Reuters: Suspected Militants Shoot At Bus In Southwestern Rwanda, Kill Two

“Two people were killed and six were injured when suspected militants opened fire on a bus in southwestern Rwanda, Rwandan police said. Saturday's attack, which killed the bus driver and a passenger, was carried out by the National Liberation Front (FLN), the armed wing of the anti-government Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), the police said in a statement. “Armed thugs, suspected to be remnants of FLN operating from across the border, shot at a public passenger bus,” the Rwanda National Police said late on Saturday. The police were tracking down the assailants in the incident on the Nyambage-Rusizi road in the district's Nyungwe Forest, they added. The government has said the FLN had launched attacks from the Nyungwe forest area close to the Burundi border in 2018. In April, the Rwandan government upheld a 25-year prison sentence for Paul Rusesabagina, who was portrayed in the movie “Hotel Rwanda” sheltering hundreds of people during the 1994 genocide, for his involvement with MRCD. He was convicted in September on eight terrorism charges, which he denies.”

Germany

Associated Press: Germany’s Far-Right AfD Elects 2 New Leaders After Co-Chair Quits, Citing Extremism

“The far-right Alternative for Germany on Saturday elected two prominent figures to lead the party for the next two years after one of its co-chairs quit in January saying it had become too radical. Delegates voted for Alternative for Germany’s remaining co-chair, Tino Chrupalla, to head the party together with parliamentary caucus leader Alice Weidel. The vote became necessary after European lawmaker Joerg Meuthen stepped down from the leadership in January, warning that the party risked being driven into “total isolation and ever further toward the political edge” with its current course. Meuthen was the party’s third leader to quit since Alternative for Germany was founded in 2013. All cited extremist tendencies within the party that have also made it the subject of scrutiny by Germany’s domestic intelligence service. Initially formed in opposition to the euro currency, the party swung to the right in 2015 to capitalize on resentment against migrants and entered the federal parliament for the first time in 2017. Lately, it has vocally opposed almost all pandemic restrictions and Western sanctions against Russia over the war in Ukraine. The party, known by its German acronym AfD, received just over 10% of the vote in last year’s national election.”

Europe

Associated Press: Denmark Charges 3 With Planning To Carry Out Terror Attack

“Three people have been charged with planning terrorist acts by acquiring weapons and bomb-making materials “to be used in a terrorist attack in an unknown place in either Denmark or abroad,” a Danish prosecutor said Monday. The suspects, two men and a woman in their thirties, were not identified in line with Danish practice. They were arrested on Feb. 2021 and remain in pre-trial custody. “It is ... our opinion that the plans (to carry out attacks) failed because (the suspects) were arrested by the police,” public prosecutor for Copenhagen Lise-Lotte Nilas said in a statement. Beside being charged with attempted terrorism, they also were charged with financing terrorist activities by transferring money to a person affiliated with the Islamic State group. If tried and convicted, they face potential life sentences — which in in Denmark usually mean 16 years in prison. Denmark’s TV2 broadcaster said the men were Syrians and one of them is married to the woman, who is of Iraqi origin. The woman has dual citizenship, and the prosecution will seek to have her deprived of her Danish citizenship and expelled from Denmark permanently. The prosecution will also seek the men's deportation. All three face a trial in Holbaek, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Copenhagen, starting Aug. 22.”

Southeast Asia

CBS News: Militants Surrender Years After Allegedly Beheading 2 Canadian Tourists And A German Hostage In The Philippines

“Two long-wanted Abu Sayyaf militant commanders accused of beheading two kidnapped Canadian tourists and a German in the southern Philippines have surrendered to authorities, officials said Friday. Almujer Yadah and Bensito Quitino gave themselves up to military officials in Jolo town in southern Sulu province and surrendered their assault rifles, Sulu military commander Maj. Gen. Ignatius Patrimonio and other security officials said. The officials did not provide details of how and when the surrenders were arranged. The two were briefly presented in a news conference in an army camp in Jolo and later turned over to police. Sulu provincial police chief Col. Jaime Mojica said they will face multiple murder and other criminal charges, including violation of the country's anti-terrorism law. The militants are accused of beheading the hostages after failing to obtain large ransoms they had demanded. They also were involved in other ransom kidnappings and bomb attacks, Mojica said. Canadian tourists Robert Hall and John Ridsdel were abducted by Abu Sayyaf gunmen from a marina on southern Samal island along with a Norwegian and a Filipino in September 2015 and taken to jungle camps in Sulu.”

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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