Eye on Extremism: June 23, 2022

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Courts Central Asian Nations To Combat Potential Terrorism From Afghanistan

“The U.S. is stepping carefully into Central Asia—an area Russia regards as its backyard—hoping to coax the governments there to work with the U.S. to fight any resurgent terrorism from Afghanistan, according to a senior American military leader. Though the Central Asian states may fear antagonizing Moscow, they also worry about the threat from their neighbor, Afghanistan. “Their top three concerns are Afghanistan, Afghanistan, Afghanistan,” said Army Gen. Erik Kurilla, who heads the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., while traveling on a military aircraft on a tour of the region last week. “What I see in these Central Asian countries is opportunities,” said Gen. Kurilla. Part of his effort to show a growing American commitment in the region included donning traditional hats, watching a dead goat be dragged from one end of a playing field to another, and eating medallions of dark horse meat, a local staple. “For a very small investment, and one of those investments is time, and senior leaders coming through, you can get a big return on investment,” he said. Since the Taliban reclaimed control of Afghanistan last summer after the Biden administration withdrew all American troops, the U.S. military has been looking for ways to keep a lid on groups such as al Qaeda and the Afghanistan branch of Islamic State. That could include expanding intelligence networks, especially with countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.”

Reuters: Hamas To Restore Syria Ties After 10 Years Of Dispute, Sources Say

“The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has decided to restore ties with Syria, 10 years after its leadership shunned Damascus over opposition to President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on a revolt against his rule, two sources within the group told Reuters. One official who asked not to be named said the two sides have held several "high-profile meetings to achieve that goal." A Syrian official did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Hamas leaders had publicly endorsed the revolt aimed at overthrowing Assad's dynastic rule, and left their Damascus headquarters. That angered their common ally, Iran. Hamas's ties with Iran were later restored and officials of the Palestinian Islamist faction praised the Islamic Republic for help with building their Gaza arsenal of long-range rockets, which they used in fighting Israel.”

Iraq

Reuters: Rocket Lands In Iraq's Khor Mor Gas Field, Causes No Damage

“A Katyusha rocket landed inside the Khor Mor gas field in Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq on Wednesday but caused no damage, the city's counter-terrorism service said. The Pearl Consortium, United Arab Emirates energy firm Dana Gas (DANA.AD) and its affiliate, Crescent Petroleum, have the rights to exploit Khor Mor and Chemchemal, two of the biggest gas fields in Iraq. No group claimed responsibility, but armed groups that some Iraqi officials say are backed by Iran have claimed similar attacks in the past. A source with knowledge of the matter also said there was no damage or impact on operations as a result of the attack and two people were treated for minor injuries. Two security sources told Reuters earlier that a Katyusha rocket, fired from a multiple rocket launcher and first used by the Soviet Union in World War Two, hit the headquarters of Dana Gas in the Iraqi province of Kirkuk injuring three people.”

Newsweek: Girl Rescued After Being Kidnapped At 8, Sold In ISIS Slave Markets

“The nightmarish ordeal of a Yazidi girl kidnapped by ISIS terrorists in 2014 when she was 8 years old and repeatedly sold between families as a slave has ended after she managed to contact a family member on social media from a refugee camp. Rosita Haji Baju, now 16, had been terrified that if she revealed her past, she would suffer further abuse and instead sought help on social media, desperately hoping to find a relative she could alert to her ordeal. Her nightmare began in August 2014 when ISIS invaded Shengal (Sinjar), Iraq, from nearby Mosul and the Iraqi army had fled. Men in her community were killed, and thousands of women and children were kidnapped, including Rosita who was just 8 at the time. Rosita Haji Baju, 16, was recently rescued from the Al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria after she was abducted by the Islamic State (IS) on August 3, 2014, when she was 8 years old. She ended up with her mother at Raqa in Syria where they were sold to an Algerian she named as Abu Islam. She said that her mother was raped by his brother and committed suicide shortly after. Rosita herself was then repeatedly sold between different families as a slave and in March 2019, when ISIS was toppled in Baghouz, Syria, she ended up in a refugee camp with ISIS families. She was 13 at the time.”

Afghanistan

France 24: Taliban Appeal For Help As Rescuers Scramble To Reach Afghan Quake Survivors

“Afghan authorities struggled on Thursday to reach a remote area hit by an earthquake that killed some 1,000 people but poor communications and a lack of proper roads hampered their efforts, officials said, as the country's supreme leader pleaded with the international community for help. The magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck early on Wednesday about 160 kilometres (100 miles) southeast of Kabul, in arid mountains dotted with small settlements near the border with Pakistan. It struck areas that were already suffering the effects of heavy rain, causing rockfalls and mudslides that hampered rescue efforts. "We can't reach the area, the networks are too weak, we're trying to get updates," Mohammad Ismail Muawiyah, a spokesman for the top Taliban military commander in hardest-hit Paktika province, told Reuters, referring to telephone networks. The earthquake killed some 1,000 people and injured 1,500, he said. More than 3,000 houses were destroyed. About 600 people had been rescued from various affected areas on Wednesday night, he added.”

Egypt

Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt Calls For Concerted Efforts In Africa To Address Food Security, Terrorism Challenges

“The third edition of the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development kicked off on Tuesday. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addressed the participants via videoconference, urging African countries to join hands to address the current challenges facing the continent, including food insecurity and terrorism. The two-day event is held under the theme, “Africa in an era of successive risks and climate vulnerability: Paths to a peaceful, resilient, and sustainable continent.” Sisi enumerated a number of challenges facing the continent, including terrorism. He said Cairo established the Sahel-Sahara Center to Combat Terrorism to help people confront the negative repercussions of this phenomenon. It also seeks to build the capacities of African institutions in the affected areas, especially in the Sahel region by providing training courses for the forces participating in African peacekeeping missions. Egypt also inaugurated the African Union Center for Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) to play an effective role in preparing programs and activities to support countries post conflicts, maintain stability, security and development, and prevent the reemergence of conflicts on their territories.”

Australia

The Guardian: Australia’s Powers To Detain Terrorist Offenders After Jail Term Without Rehabilitation Under Review

“Australia’s national security monitor has said it is “odd” that powers to detain terrorist offenders after their sentence expires do not include consideration of rehabilitation. Grant Donaldson, the national security legislation monitor, made the comments at the start of an inquiry hearing about continuing detention orders on Tuesday. Donaldson signalled he will probably call for a major shake-up of national security laws, including raising the bar for detaining people after their sentence expires and, in agreement with the Australian Human Rights Commission, that “control orders”, for people not convicted of crimes, should be abolished. Under the current law, a court can order the continuing detention of a “terrorist offender” for up to three years if it is satisfied the person poses an unacceptable risk of committing a serious terrorism offence if released into the community. The high court has upheld the validity of the law, although two judges in the minority warned that some offences such as joining a terrorist organisation did not meet the threshold for immediate harm required to justify such restrictions. The home affairs department has defended the necessity of the powers, but Donaldson opened the inquiry by noting these represented the views of the Morrison government.”

Technology

Haaretz: Facebook Giving Hamas Free-Range To Post Incitement, Justice Ministry Sources Claim

“Meta is easing its policy towards Hamas and has been allowing the group to publish what the Justice Ministry has dubbed as inflammatory content on Facebook, including "content that supported firing rockets into Israel," ministry sources claim. The sources in the Justice Ministry, who were speaking on the condition of anonymity, claim that Facebook had treated Hamas as a terrorist organization and would immediately remove official publications of the group in the past, even removing posts from private accounts expressing support for it. But since the last round of fighting in the Gaza Strip, in May 2021, they say, Hamas has received much softer treatment from Facebook. In recent weeks, officials from the ministry and from the defense establishment have met with Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar in an effort to find new ways to combat incitement to terrorism on Facebook and other sites. Meta, Facebook's parent company, denies the allegations.”

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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