Eye on Extremism: June 8, 2021

Deutsche Welle: Italy: Police Dismantle Antisemitic Neo-Nazi Group Planning NATO Facility Attack

“Italian police announced on Monday they had broken up an online neo-Nazi group dedicated to antisemitic and racist propaganda that encouraged young people to carry out extreme acts of violence against Jews and foreigners. Italian postal police and Carabinieri paramilitary police said individuals aged between 26 and 62 were allegedly involved in the group. What caused the crackdown? Twelve people were present on Facebook and Russian social network VK under the name, “Ordine Ario Romano,” which is believed to be a reference to the racist writings of fascist author Julius Evola, a Carabinieri police statement said. The group's social media postings were “inspired by Nazi, antisemitic and Holocaust-denial ideologies, as well as by anti-Jewish conspiracy theories,” the statement added.  Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese said the online network “exploited the fragility” of young people, and “[incited] youths to carry out extreme gestures.” Under investigation since 2019, the 12 suspects belonged to “an antisemitic and racist group particularly active on social media,” Lamorgese added. The crackdown included blacking out the networks website, which claims to have over 17,000 members, including many users abroad.”

The New York Times: Boko Haram Leader Really Did Kill Himself, Audio Message Says

“The head of Nigeria’s best-known terrorist group, Boko Haram, has been reported dead many times before. But now evidence that this time he might really be dead has emerged via an audio message, apparently recorded by the head of a rival extremist group. In it, the leader of Islamic State West Africa Province, known as ISWAP, appeared to confirm that Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s violent and erratic leader, killed himself rather than be taken prisoner in May. “Shekau preferred to be humiliated in the hereafter than on earth,” the voice in the recording says. “He killed himself instantly by detonating an explosive.” Mr. Shekau was best known for the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls from a boarding school in Chibok in 2014. But his fighters kidnapped, killed, raped and robbed many thousands more, and sent untold numbers of Nigerians to their deaths as suicide bombers. Millions have been displaced in the region as a result of the violence. Abubakar ShekauThe notorious leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria had been reported to be dead several times before. The death of Mr. Shekau, if true, marks the end of a brutal era for northeast Nigeria and its neighboring countries in the Lake Chad region. But it could also signify the beginning of a new era, in which ISWAP takes new territory after getting rid of its chief rival, and amps up confrontations with the Nigerian state and its military.”

United States

The New York Times: U.S. Seizes Share Of Ransom From Hackers In Colonial Pipeline Attack

“The Justice Department said on Monday that it had seized much of the ransom that a major U.S. pipeline operator had paid last month to a Russian hacking collective, turning the tables on the hackers by reaching into a digital wallet to snatch back millions of dollars in cryptocurrency. Investigators in recent weeks traced 75 Bitcoins worth more than $4 million that Colonial Pipeline had paid to the hackers as the attack shut down its computer systems, prompting fuel shortages, a spike in gasoline prices and chaos at airlines. Federal investigators tracked the ransom as it moved through a maze of at least 23 different electronic accounts belonging to DarkSide, the hacking group, before landing in one that a federal judge allowed them to break into, according to law enforcement officials and court documents. “The sophisticated use of technology to hold businesses and even whole cities hostage for profit is decidedly a 21st-century challenge, but the old adage ‘follow the money’ still applies,” Lisa O. Monaco, the deputy attorney general, said at the news conference at the Justice Department.”

The New York Times: F.B.I. Investigates Cyber Attack That Targeted N.Y.C. Law Department

“An early clue that something was amiss with the computers at New York City’s Law Department — the 1,000-lawyer agency that represents the city in court — emerged on Monday when a lawyer for the department wrote to a federal judge in Manhattan, asking for a short delay in filing court papers because of “connectivity” problems. “No one is currently able to log on to the Law Department’s computer system,” the lawyer, Katherine J. Weall, wrote. Later in the day, city officials revealed the cause of the problem: They had been forced to disable the Law Department’s computer network on Sunday afternoon after detecting a cyber attack. That attack is now under investigation by the intelligence bureau of the New York Police Department and the F.B.I.’s cyber task force, the officials said. Mayor Bill de Blasio said during a NY1 television appearance on Monday evening that city officials were not aware of any information being compromised or a ransom demand. But he cautioned that the situation was “emerging.” “We’ll have more to say as we get more information,” he said. “So far we believe the defenses have held and the Law Department’s information was not compromised.” The hack was first reported by The Daily News.”

Syria

Arab News: Qatar ‘Funneled Millions Of Dollars’ To Al-Qaeda-Affiliate Terrorists In Syria: British Media

“Nine Syrians are accusing several Qatari figures and institutes of funding terrorist fighters in Syria in a case filed at a UK court, according the Times of London. In a claim issued this week from the High Court in London, the Syrian individuals are claiming damages for financial losses, torture, arbitrary detention and threats of execution endured as part of a scheme or at the hands of Nusra Front, which is an Al-Qaeda affiliate. The files at the case allege that some top Qatari politicians, businessmen, charities and civil servants used one of the emir’s private offices and two banks to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars to the Nusra Front. The Times said that according to the court papers, which they have seen, the Qatar state along with the Muslim Brotherhood group have come up with a plan to “actively support and facilitate” Nusra Front extremists during the Syrian civil war. Over-priced construction contracts, property purchases and payments helped moved the money, according to the allegations. Qatar National Bank and Doha Bank are accused of facilitating the transactions, according to the report. All the accused have strongly and categorically denied the allegations.”

Iraq

The National: Senior Iraqi Intelligence Officer Assassinated In Baghdad

“A senior Iraqi intelligence officer was shot dead near his home east of Baghdad on Monday, according to state media. This is the latest in a wave of targeted killings that has swept the country in recent years. Col Nebras Abu Ali was assistant director of the Intelligence Service’s Monitoring Department, according to local news reports. “Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the officer in the Al Baladiyat area, east of Baghdad early on Monday. He died immediately,” Iraq’s state-run National Iraqi News Agency said quoting a security source. In March, another senior intelligence officer was assassinated in the Iraqi capital. Gunmen carrying a pistol fitted with a silencer assassinated Lt Col Mahmoud Laith Hussein in Baghdad’s western neighbourhood of Mansour. The gunman shot Hussein in the head after running up to him from behind and kicking him in the leg; he was wearing a white cap, according to CCTV footage. The officer worked at the Intelligence Service Counter-Espionage Department. Targeted killing is not a new phenomenon in Iraq. The country has witnessed dozens of high-profile assassinations since operations against ISIS and other extremist groups were launched. Some militias, which are backed by Iran, have accused Iraq’s intelligence services of collaborating with the US forces against them.”

Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal: Afghan Soldiers Gird For Taliban To Attack Cities After The U.S. Leaves

“The Taliban are encircling Afghan police and army positions and encroaching on government-held territory, positioning themselves for large-scale offensives against major population centers while waiting for the last American troops to depart Afghanistan. The insurgents are pushing their advantage on the battlefield ahead of a full U.S. exit, even as they continue peace talks with the Afghan government in Doha, Qatar. President Biden has said the withdrawal would be completed by Sept. 11. Other American officials indicate the remaining U.S. presence—and the vital air support they provide Afghan government forces—will be gone much sooner, maybe as early as next month. In the ebb and flow of the Afghan war, government troops sometimes still manage to retake areas like Arghandab, a fertile valley on the western edge of Kandahar, the country’s second-largest city. Taliban fighters fled parts of Arghandab in early April, after strikes from U.S. war planes made the difference following months of intense ground fighting. But with air support ending within weeks, government forces will lose a pivotal edge in the conflict.”

NBC News: As U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan, The Taliban Say They Won't Harm Afghans Who Worked For The U.S.

“The Taliban on Monday called on Afghans who worked as interpreters or in other jobs for U.S.-led forces to show “remorse” for their actions but said they were not in danger now that American troops are leaving the country. The Taliban have a long track record of threatening and killing Afghans who worked for the United States and NATO allies or with Western-backed organizations. Since 2014, at least 300 Afghans who served as interpreters have been murdered by the Taliban, according to No One Left Behind, a veteran-led nonprofit devoted to helping Afghan and Iraqi interpreters. But amid growing calls in Washington for an evacuation of the thousands of Afghans who served alongside U.S. troops and diplomats, the Taliban issued an unusual statement. The group, which has portrayed Afghans who cooperated with the NATO troop presence as traitors and infidels, said that these former U.S. partners had nothing to fear. Afghans who worked with NATO troops “should show remorse for their past actions and must not engage in such activities in the future that amount to treason against Islam and the country,” the Taliban statement said, referring to themselves as the “Islamic Emirate.”

Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post: What Role Will Hezbollah Play In Lebanon’s Future Government?

“Lebanon’s endless political crisis continues. It has lacked a government since prime minister Hassan Diab resigned last year after the Beirut Port explosion. Since then, the country has lurched from crisis to crisis, with Hezbollah being the main benefactor of these crises. Lebanese President Michel Aoun has held discussions with Saad Hariri, the prime minister-designate. Hariri’s father, Rafik, was murdered by Hezbollah in 2005. In March, there was a failure to agree on a new cabinet. Aoun wants Hariri to step aside. Hezbollah has refused suggestions that the cabinet be made up of technocrats. “A government of technocrats that is not backed by political groups won’t save the country,” Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in March. In May, the crisis continued. At the time, Nasrallah was getting sick with an undisclosed illness. According to media reports, Hariri told parliament: “The truth of what is happening is that the president of the republic tells the deputies in his message: ‘You named a prime minister. I do not want him, and I will not allow him to form a government. Please, get rid of him.’ This is an attempt to absolve the president of the republic from the accusation of obstructing the formation of the government.”

Middle East

The New Arab: Hamas' Coffers Filled Up With Bitcoin During Israeli Bombing Campaign

“Bitcoin has found its way into Hamas' coffers in increased quantities from the beginning of May's escalation in the Gaza Strip. This is helping the organisation bypass global restrictions and acquire money for its armed efforts, The Wall Street Journal reported last week. A high-level Hamas insider told the US paper Hamas' military branch began receiving increased numbers of online visitors amid the Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza and Hamas rocket fire on Israel. He also explained that more Bitcoin started coming in. “There was definitely a spike. “Some of the money gets used for military purposes to defend the basic rights of the Palestinians.” However, the source refused to reveal the amount that has been given. Over $1 million worth of crypto linked with Hamas' military branch was confiscated by US federal agencies in 2020. According to expert Ari Redbord, formerly of the Treasury and an ex-US prosecutor: “Terrorist organizations have traditionally used those sorts of rallying cries to drive engagement to their site, which drives fundraising During the Israeli bombing campaign, user statistics for alqassam.ps, the main site of Hamas' military branch, known as the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, rose significantly, the Counter Extremism project said.”

Nigeria

The Defense Post: Death Toll Rises To 88 In Attack In Northwest Nigeria: Police

“Police in northwest Nigeria’s Kebbi state told AFP Sunday that the death toll from an attack by a gang of cattle thieves on seven villages Thursday had risen to 88. The region has struggled with decades-long communal clashes over resources but more recently some groups have become more violent, looting, killing, and kidnapping for ransom. “Initially 66 bodies were recovered but 22 more have been found,” Kebbi state police spokesman Nafiu Abubakar said, adding that the search for more bodies was ongoing. Dozens of assailants on motorcycles attacked seven neighboring villages in Danko-Wasagu district on Thursday, Abubakar said. The gunmen targeted the villages of Koro, Kimpi, Gaya, Dimi, Zutu, Rafin Gora, and Iguenge, he said. Many people were still unaccounted for Sunday after fleeing the attacks. “The search is still going on and more bodies could be found. So, the toll is not conclusive yet,” said Abubakar. Policemen were deployed to the area over the weekend to forestall further attacks, he said. The assailants were believed to have launched the attacks from neighboring Zamfara or Niger states where criminals are known to maintain camps.”

Africa

The Washington Post: The Islamic State Has ‘Provinces’ In Africa. That Doesn’t Mean What You Might Think.

“In March, militants from the Islamic State’s Central Africa Province (ISCAP) attacked the city of Palma in Mozambique. They destroyed parts of the infrastructure, killing and beheading civilians and overrunning sections of the city for days. Global headlines soon percolated that claims that the Islamic State was involved in the violence were overblown. This analysis centered on arguments that the Islamic State’s central leadership — “IS Central” and based in Iraq, security experts believe — had no command and control over the Mozambican group. The violence in Palma, some argued, was primarily motivated by unemployment and government grievances, not extremist ideology. The Palma attack raises some questions: What connections do IS Central’s designated provinces in Africa have with the Islamic State Central? How much importance should observers place on the fact that a particular insurgency carries the Islamic State name? Here’s what it means to be an Islamic State province in Africa. Africa’s Islamic State provinces first emerged 2014 in Libya, Algeria and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. In subsequent years, the West Africa Province of northeastern Nigeria emerged and, in 2019, it had added to it an offshoot wing, IS‐Greater Sahara.”

Associated Press: Death Toll Rises After Burkina Faso Village Attack

“The death toll from the deadliest attack in Burkina Faso in years has risen to at least 132 people and countless others wounded, security officials said Monday. Jihadis on Friday night launched an assault on civilians in Solhan village in the Sahel’s Yagha province, shooting people and burning down homes and the market, the government said. Many of the wounded were taken to hospitals in Dori town and the country’s capital, Ouagadougou. Nearly 800 people have fled to the nearby town of Sebba, according to an internal report for aid workers seen by The Associated Press. An aid worker in Sebba said there were more than 40 people with bullet wounds and burns from fleeing the attack. The aid worker spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t permitted to speak to the media. A local journalist, who also didn’t want to be named for fear of his safety, told the AP he saw wounded people in Dori’s hospital lying all over the floor. For five years, Burkina Faso’s ill-equipped and undertrained army has been struggling to stem a jihadi insurgency linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, often arriving late or not at all to attacks.”

Arab News: Sudanese Authorities Arrest 9 Al-Qaeda Militants Who Planned Attacks Against Gulf Countries

“Authorities in Khartoum arrested nine Al-Qaeda militants, who had entered Sudan to participate in attacks targeting Gulf countries. Anti-Extremism Prosecutor Ahmed Suleiman Al-Awad said investigations were carried out by the police in coordination with the General Intelligence Service. The members are accused in their countries of committing and participating in extremist crimes, Al-Awad told TV news channel Al-Arabiya. He added that some entered Sudan illegally to take part in operations targeting Gulf countries. Some names of those arrested are published on the list of the United Nations Security Council, Al-Awad said. He added that among those are Syrian passport holders of Tunisian and Chadian origin. One of the Al-Qaeda members is also accused of planning an attack against tourists in Tunisia's city of Sousse, and is wanted by the country, Al-Awad said. Former President Omar Al-Bashir’s regime has, over the past years, harbored a number of extremist commanders, who established training camps in the country.”

United Kingdom

The Independent: Shamima Begum Says She Joined Isis To Avoid Being The Friend Left Behind

“Shamima Begum has claimed she fled to join Isis in Syria because she did not want to be left behind by her friends. The 21-year-old, who left east London with two classmates, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, said she was “young and naive” and wanted to help people in Syria. Ms Begum told the Sky documentary The Return: Life After Isis that the three schoolgirls had been preyed upon by Isis supporters online. The Bethnal Green schoolgirls, then aged 15 and 16, took a Turkish Airlines flight from Gatwick to Istanbul before crossing into Syria. She said the recruiters preyed upon their guilt at seeing Muslims suffering in Syria and encouraged them to become “part of something”. “I knew it was a big decision but I just felt compelled to do it quickly. I didn’t want to be the friend that was left behind,” Ms Begum said. The former child bride is being held at the al-Roj camp in northern Syria after her British citizenship was revoked. In the documentary, she sobs while discussing the loss of her three children during the Syrian civil war. She speaks of wanting to kill herself because of the grief she feels, adding: “The only thing keeping me alive was my baby I was pregnant with. I felt like it was my fault for not getting them out sooner even though I didn’t know why they died.”

The Independent: Police Firearms Officer ‘Feared Terrorist’s Suicide Bomb Would Collapse London Bridge’, Inquest Hears

“A firearms officer feared London Bridge would collapse if a terrorist detonated what appeared to be a real suicide vest, an inquest has heard. Senior Metropolitan Police commanders gave officers the authorisation to shoot Usman Khan dead because they believed he posed an imminent threat to life. The inquest into his death heard that police shot at the 28-year-old 20 times, in several bursts. Khan had been chased onto London Bridge after murdering two victims in a knife rampage at Fishmongers’ Hall on 29 November 2019. An inspector codenamed TC82, because of an anonymity order, told Monday’s hearing that Khan was believed to be reaching for what looked like a real suicide vest when the second barrage of shots were fired. TC82, who was a Tactical Firearms Commander in the control room during the attack, said that while watching live footage of the incident he believed Khan could be holding a trigger. “I feared the IED deonating,” he added. “Obviously because he’s on a bridge,that bridge could collapse and I could see members of the public walking – just going about their day-to-day business – underneath the bridge.”

France

The Times Of Israel: Four Suspects Tried In Paris Over 2017 Jihadist Murder Of Cop

“Four men go on trial in Paris today over the Islamist murder of a police officer on the Champs-Elysees avenue on the eve of France’s 2017 presidential election. Xavier Jugele was sitting at the wheel of a parked police bus when Karim Cheurfi pulled up in a car, got out and shot him dead through the windscreen on April 20, 2017. Cheurfi, a 39-year-old French jihadist who became radicalized in prison while serving time for robbery and attacks on the police, was himself shot dead by police minutes later. The brazen assault, which Cheurfi carried out on behalf of the Islamic State terrror group, caused outrage in France, which was already reeling from a wave of attacks by radical Islamists. Shortly after Jugele’s death it emerged that he had been among the first responders at the Bataclan theatre in Paris on November 13, 2015, where IS gunmen massacred 90 concertgoers. One of the four men put on trial today, 31-year-old Nourredine Allam, is accused of taking part in a terrorist conspiracy. He is suspected of having sold Cheurfi the assault rifle that he used in the attack, charges he denies. The three others are accused of the lesser offenses of illegally owning or selling weapons.”

Canada

The New York Times: Truck Attack That Killed A Muslim Family In Canada Was Planned

“The driver of a pickup truck in London, Ontario, who ran down five pedestrians, killing four of them, chose his victims because they were Muslim, the police said on Monday. “There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act and that the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith,” said Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London Police at a news conference. Mayor Ed Holder of London, which is midway between Detroit and Toronto, called it “an act of mass murder perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners and rooted in unspeakable hatred.” The killings happened on one of the first summerlike weekends of the year in London. The police told reporters that a man in a black pickup drove up on a curb and mowed down a family standing on the sidewalk and waiting to cross a busy suburban road. The victims were identified by the family in a statement as Salman Afzaal, 46; his wife, Madiha, 44; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumna; and Mr. Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother. The statement said that their 9-year-old son, Fayed, remained in hospital “on the road to recovery from serious injury.” “Everyone who knew Salman and the rest of the Afzaal family know the model family they were as Muslims, Canadians and Pakistanis,” the statement added.”

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
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