Eye on Extremism: June 3, 2021

The National: US Places Bounty On Al Qaeda Chief In North Africa

“The US on Wednesday placed a bounty of up to $7 million on the leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the organisation’s North African branch. The State Department’s Rewards for Justice programme announced that it would offer the money “for information leading to the location or identification of Abu Ubaydah Yusef Al Anabi”, who now leads the group. Mr Al Anabi, an Algerian citizen, had led Aqim's media and propaganda operations but became the leader of the group last year after French troops killed his predecessor, Abdelmalek Droukdel, in Mali. A new France-led special operations group called Barkhane Task Force Takuba, which includes soldiers from Estonia, the Czech Republic and Sweden, is setting up in Gao, Mali to fight ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliates in the region. AFPFrench forces kill Al Qaeda-linked commander in Mali. The US imposed sanctions on Mr Al Anabi in 2015, as did the UN in 2016. While most of the group’s fighters are engaged in ground combat in Mali, he and many of the organisation’s leaders are thought to be based in Algeria. Washington first designated Aqim's predecessor organisation, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, a terrorist entity in 2001.”

The Wall Street Journal: Israel-Gaza Conflict Spurs Bitcoin Donations To Hamas

“…Between May 10 and 20, while Hamas and Israeli forces clashed, al-Qassam’s flagship website, alqassam.ps, saw a sizable increase in traffic and engagement, which is the length of time visitors remain on the site, according to an analysis by the Counter Extremism Project, a New York-based nonprofit group that describes Hamas as a violent Islamist extremist group…After last year’s seizure, the armed group shifted its cryptocurrency away from the U.S. platform it had previously used and tightened the techniques used to anonymize the transactions, says Hans-Jakob Schindler, a senior director at the Counter Extremism Project.”

United States

The New York Times: The M.T.A. Is Breached By Hackers As Cyberattacks Surge

“A hacking group believed to have links to the Chinese government penetrated the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s computer systems in April, exposing vulnerabilities in a vast transportation network that carries millions of people every day, according to an M.T.A. document that outlined the breach. The hackers did not gain access to systems that control train cars and rider safety was not at risk, transit officials said, adding that the intrusion appeared to have done little, if any, damage. But a week after the agency learned of the attack, officials raised concerns that hackers could have entered those operational systems or that they could continue to penetrate the agency’s computer systems through a back door, the document also shows. Transit officials say a forensic analysis of the attack has not revealed evidence of either and that hackers did not compromise customers’ personal information. The agency reported the attack to law enforcement and other state agencies, but has not disclosed it publicly. The breach was the third — and most significant — cyberattack on the transit network, North America’s largest, by hackers thought to be connected to foreign governments in recent years, according to transit officials.”

ABC News: Seattle Man Accused Of Trying To Join ISIS, Telling FBI He Would Be An 'Executioner'

“A Washington state man has been arrested for alleged efforts to join the Islamic State group, federal prosecutors said. Elvin Hunter Bgorn Williams, 20, of Seattle, was taken into custody at the departure gate of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport last Friday as he attempted to board a flight to Cairo, federal prosecutors said. After being arrested, Williams agreed to speak with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and allegedly stated that he intended to become an "executioner" or a "machine-gunner" for ISIS, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle. "It doesn’t matter what you guys do to me. I get rewarded for it," Williams told the FBI agents, according to the complaint. "I want to die. We love our deaths more than you love your lives." Williams was charged with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, federal prosecutors said. He made an initial video appearance in court on Tuesday and was ordered detained pending further proceedings. A federal public defender who was appointed to represent Williams did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.”

WTOP News: The Hunt: Anti-Semitic Attacks On The Rise

“There has been a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks around the world, and here in the U.S. On this week’s edition of “The Hunt with WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green,” Dr. Hans Jakob Schindler, senior director of the Counter Extremism Project, says it’s because of the recent conflict between Israel and Palestine.”

Vice News: How White Supremacists Tried To Exploit The Anniversary Of George Floyd’s Murder

“This was an attempt by the Telegram channel admin to enlarge his reputation, mock the murder of George Floyd, seek to sow discord, and spread white supremacist ideology very publicly,” said Joshua Fisher-Birch, a terrorism researcher at the Counter Extremism Project. He said the admin of that particular channel not only sold banners but “flags, patches, and other items” used in the event to advertise their brand in an effort to legitimize and take advantage of the present momentum of far-right activism. Fisher-Birch said the move to target local media was significant and shows white supremacists, even while organizing a national effort, think it can reach and profit off of a localized audience in parts of the U.S. “Like many propaganda actions, getting media attention to amplify the event and its message was key, and in at least one case, an individual who allegedly participated encouraged others on Telegram to contact local news,” said Fisher-Birch. “This is an example of individuals in multiple groups, and those who are unaffiliated, coordinating for the purpose of advancing a specific white supremacist message.”

Syria

Associated Press: In Syria Camp, Forgotten Children Left To Be Molded By IS

“At the sprawling al-Hol camp, children pass their days roaming the dirt roads, playing with mock swords and black banners in imitation of Islamic State group militants. Few can read or write. For some, the only education is from mothers giving them IS propaganda. It has been more than two years since the Islamic State group’s self-declared “caliphate” was brought down. And for more than two years, some 27,000 children have been left to languish in al-Hol camp in northeast Syria where families of IS members have been housed. They are spending their childhood in a limbo of miserable conditions with no schools, no place to play or develop and seemingly no international interest in resolving their situation. Only one institution is left to mold them: sympathizers and remnants of the Islamic State group who operate within the camp, even as it is run by the Kurdish-led forces that defeated the militants. Kurdish authorities and aid groups fear the camp will create a new generation of militants. They are pleading with home countries to take the women and children back. The problem is that home governments often see the children as posing a danger rather than as needing rescue. “These children are ISIS’s first victims,” said Save the Children’s Syria Response Director Sonia Khush.”

Daily Sabah: Terror Attack Wounds 2 In Syria’s Northern Jarablus

“Two civilians were injured in a suspected terrorist attack in Syria’s northern Jarablus district Wednesday, local sources stated. A bomb placed on a vehicle went off in the center of Jarablus, which was cleared of terrorists by Turkey's Euphrates Shield Operation, the sources said. The injured civilians were rushed to the hospital for treatment. Local security forces investigating the scene are looking into the possibility that the attack was carried out by the PKK’s Syrian wing, the YPG terrorist group, the sources said. The YPG, which continues its occupation in Tal Rifat and Manbij regions, frequently stages terrorist acts by targeting al-Bab, Azaz, Jarablus, and Afrin regions. Jarablus was liberated from Daesh terrorists by Turkey's Operation Euphrates Shield in September 2016. The operation, which concluded in March 2017, was meant to clear terrorists from areas of Syria that border Turkey. Since 2016, Turkey has launched a trio of successful anti-terrorist operations across its border in northern Syria to prevent the formation of a terror corridor and enable the peaceful settlement of locals, including Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch in 2018 and Peace Spring in 2019.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Bombings On Two Transport Buses Kill 12 Afghans In Kabul

“Two separate bomb blasts on two public transport buses killed at least 12 civilians in the Afghan capital Kabul, security officials said on Wednesday, the latest in a series of such attacks in recent weeks as foreign forces withdraw. Both attacks took place on Tuesday evening in western parts of the capital that are home to many from the country's Shia community, a religious minority in Afghanistan targeted in the past by groups such as Islamic State, the officials said. Ferdaws Faramarz, Kabul police spokesman, said both buses were carrying passengers when the explosion occurred that killed at least 12 and wounded 10 more. The police launched an investigation, he said. Roadside bombs, small magnetic bombs attached under vehicles, and other attacks have targeted members of security forces, judges, government officials, civil society activists and journalists in recent months in Afghanistan. No group claimed responsibility for the twin bombings. The government usually blames the Taliban for such attacks but the insurgent group denies involvement. Violence has sharply increased since Washington announced plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11.”

CNN: UN Sounds Alarm Over Threat Posed By Emboldened Taliban, Still Closely Tied To Al Qaeda

“An emboldened Taliban poses a severe and expanding threat to the government of Afghanistan, remains close to al Qaeda, and believes it can return to power by force if necessary, according to a United Nations Security Council report released on Wednesday. With the last remaining US troops due to leave Afghanistan in the coming months, the report compiled by the UN Monitoring Team, which is charged with tracking security threats in Afghanistan, paints a bleak picture of the security outlook. It will be uncomfortable reading for the Biden administration as it works to end the US military presence in the country. Biden has pledged to withdraw all remaining US forces by September 11 — the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. As part of last year's agreement between the preceding Trump administration and the Taliban, the militant Islamist organization promised to instruct its members "not to cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of the United States and its allies" as a quid pro quo for U.S. troop withdrawal. But the UN Monitoring Team says the Taliban remains "closely aligned" with terrorist network al-Qaeda — which has threatened "war on all fronts" against the US.”

Voice Of America: Absence Of Afghan Peace Deal Will Fuel Chaos, Terrorism After US Exit, Pakistan Warns

“Pakistan’s prime minister warned Wednesday that if warring parties in Afghanistan fail to reach a peace arrangement, “anarchy” will erupt in the turmoil-hit neighbor after the withdrawal of the United States and allied troops, threatening regional stability. Imran Khan issued the warning a day after Washington said almost half of U.S. troops and equipment had been sent home or destroyed since the drawdown formally began on May 1. The withdrawal is the outcome of a February 2020 deal the U.S. negotiated with the Afghan Taliban, which is waging a deadly insurgency against the internationally backed Kabul government. “It is very important for Afghanistan to have a political settlement and stability when the Americans leave and a government with consensus is established that could prevent the country from descending into anarchy,” Khan said. The Pakistani leader spoke at a news conference in Islamabad with visiting President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan, which also borders Afghanistan. He stressed the need for regional countries to jointly push the Afghan political reconciliation, saying it would help boost much needed regional trade and economic links.”

The Daily Caller: Taliban Celebrates ‘Jihadist’ Victory As US Reportedly Plans To Hand Over Largest Base In Afghanistan To Afghan Forces

“The United States transferred six facilities in Afghanistan to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said. The U.S. will also reportedly be handing over its largest base in Afghanistan, the Bagram Air Base, to Afghan forces as it withdraws from the country. The Taliban hailed the U.S.’ ongoing withdrawal in a statement Wednesday as a victory scored by jihad, claiming it was similar to the success the mujahideen (Islamic guerrilla fighters) achieved in expelling Soviet invaders from Afghanistan in the 1980s. The statement said, “The Muslim nation once waged a holy jihad against the Soviet invasion and offered great sacrifices for the Islamic system and independence of the country.” “Now, once again, it has brought the struggle against the American occupation, the most lopsided invasion in history of mankind, to victory with the help of Allah,” the Taliban’s statement continued. For the troop withdrawal, the Pentagon announced it moved nearly “300 C-17 loads” of cargo out of Afghanistan, according to a Monday CENTCOM update. The Defense Logistics Agency was given about 13,000 pieces of equipment for disposal. The Taliban’s statement celebrated the reports as a victory.”

Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post: Can Hezbollah Survive Nasrallah?

“Iran recently released an interesting photo. It shows the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force Qasem Soleimani sitting with one of his deputies, named Mohammed Hejazi, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Soleimani was killed by the US in 2020. Hejazi died in April. Nasrallah appears to be sick now. Rumors have suggested he could die. Even if he doesn’t it leads to questions about a post-Nasrallah Hezbollah. Men like Nasrallah are key to Iran’s role in the region. These men, along with Imad Mughniyeh, a Hezbollah leader who was killed in 2008 and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, head of Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq, were key to Iran’s dominance of the region. Muhandis was killed in 2020 alongside Soleimani. Hejazi was a key to Iran’s precision-guided munitions project and building up Iran’s network in the region by moving those missiles to Hezbollah. Nasrallah likes to give speeches, usually in his bunker where he has been hiding since the 2006 war on Israel. Even in the bunker though he has appeared impressive and he articulates a growing command of the region and Hezbollah’s role in Iran’s worldview. Hezbollah is a powerful terror organization with some 150,000 missiles and a parallel state-within-a-state in Lebanon.”

Nigeria

The Punch Nigeria: Customs To Partner African Countries Against Terrorism

“Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Mr Hameed Ali, on Tuesday, expressed the agency’s readiness to partner with neighbouring countries to combat terrorism and other border challenges. He added that part of the NCS’ collaborative efforts will include opening sufficient space to train Customs officers from other African countries. Ali disclosed this in Abuja when he hosted the Director-General, Customs Administration of Central African Republic, Mr Fredrick Inamo, and his team. He said, “We have a plan to open the space to absorb officers from overseas to come here and train. We will let you know when the time is right. We will share ideas on insurgency and other criminal issues bordering on border issues. “It’s good to share ideas to assist one another. As brothers, in terms of population and landmass, we are bigger than CAR. We will open our works to you so you can see how we do it. We don’t mind exchanging handshake to bring you to speed as regards the level you want to be with us. We can send our officers to train your people if need be. While expressing his gratitude for the proposed learning opportunity, Inamo stated that previous collaborations between the countries have been effective.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Andrew Dymock: Alleged Neo-Nazi Denies Packing Extremist Books

“An alleged neo-Nazi has told a court that extremist texts were placed in his luggage after he was arrested. Andrew Dymock, 24, from Bath, is on trial at the Old Bailey charged with 15 terrorism and public order offences. Mr Dymock, who denies all charges, told the court his bag was taken by "unknown men" as he described being arrested by police at Gatwick Airport in June 2018. He said he had not packed neo-Nazi books and T-shirts shown in videos police took of his luggage. The defendant admitted packing another neo-Nazi book and said it was for academic purposes. He also said that a pair of his grey shorts were moved from one bag to another. Jurors have been told that Mr Dymock was planning to fly to the USA to meet a notorious neo-Nazi individual. Mr Dymock denied being racist and told jurors: "I'm friends with an individual who's black". Prosecutor Jocelyn Ledward said his account was "nonsense" and that he had "longstanding racist views". Mr Dymock also said that a teenage girl, who he claimed had tried to "incriminate" him, had "pressured" him into posing for photos wearing a skull mask while doing a salute and holding extremist flags. "I had kidney issues which were affecting my judgment", he told the court.”

Sky News: Suspected Extremist Broke Terror Prevention Order By Meeting Woman For Dinner And Sex, Court Hears

“A suspected extremist admitted breaking a terrorism prevention order by inviting a woman to his home for a dinner date. The man, known only as QT, admitted the breach of the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIM) order at the Old Bailey. TPIM orders allow the authorities to monitor suspected terrorists who have not been convicted of criminal charges. QT was handed down a TPIM order in 2018 after being acquitted of terror offences. He was allegedly a member of the banned extremist group al-Muhajiroun, which was co-founded by Anjem Choudary and linked to the 2017 Borough Market attacks and the murder of fusilier Lee Rigby. The TPIM order QT was subjected to required him to tell the Home Office if he was meeting someone. Prosecutor Emma Gargitter said QT met a woman near where he was living while they were both exercising - before handing her a business card with his contact details on it. The pair then agreed for the woman to go to QT's home for a date on 21 November 2020. The evening "concluded with consensual sexual activity", according to Judge Sarah Munro QC. Describing his actions as a "blatant breach", the judge said QT "knew the rules" which he broke.”

Europe

The Times Of Israel: Hungary Arrests Islamist Terror Suspect Targeting Euro 2020: Media

“Hungarian counterterror police say they’ve arrested an Islamist terror suspect who plotted to attack mass events, including the Euro 2020 football tournament venue in Budapest, local media reports. The 21-year-old male was “a completely average young Hungarian” who identified as an Islamist, Janos Hajdu, head of the counterterror police tells reporters. The man, a university student in Budapest, communicated on websites containing “explicit jihadist propaganda” linked to the Islamic State about how to carry out attacks, says Hajdu. “He committed to making a pipe-bomb and using it at a mass event, in Budapest or elsewhere in Hungary… in the near future,” says Hajdu. The man had also discussed driving a car into a large group of people, says Hajdu, without elaborating.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

The Hispanic population is willing to return to their home countries if given the right incentive. An incentive that myself and many other patriotic Americans will provide… [terrorist attacks will] remove the threat of the Hispanic voting bloc.

Patrick Crusius, El Paso Shooter Aug. 2019
View Archive

CEP on Twitter