Eye on Extremism: March 13, 2023

Fox News: In Groundbreaking Ruling, Middle Eastern Islamic Council Declares ‘Fatwa’ Against Hamas

“In a groundbreaking ruling, an official Islamic legislative body based in the Arab world declared a ‘fatwa,’ or a legal opinion, against the Islamist militant group Hamas Thursday, calling its treatment of millions of Palestinians living under its rule in the Gaza Strip ‘inhumane’ and urging the terrorist organization and its followers to immediately give up arms, sit down and make peace. The unprecedented declaration, published by the Islamic Fatwa Council, a non-government body of Shiite, Sunni and Sufi clerics headquartered in the Iraqi spiritual capital of Najaf, states that Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, ‘bears responsibility for its own reign of corruption and terror against Palestinian civilians within Gaza’ and deems ‘it prohibited to pray for, join, support, finance or fight on behalf of Hamas.’ ‘As an Islamic legal body, we take note of the condition of the oppressed all over the world,’ Muhammad Ali Al-Maqdisi, a cleric for the council, said in a video statement shared with Fox News Digital. ‘We have seen what Gaza has been subjected to under Hamas’ rule. We have also seen the atrocities which, in our view, have been perpetrated against Palestinians — faithful and unarmed civilians — who have neither strength nor recourse. And, so, we believed it was our Islamic obligation to aid the oppressed.’”

Associated Press: US Trains West African Militaries As Jihadi Threat Spreads

“As extremist violence in West Africa’s Sahel region spreads south toward coastal states, the United States military has launched its annual military training exercise aimed at helping armies contain the jihadi threat. Soldiers from several African countries are being trained in counter-insurgency tactics as part of the annual U.S.-led exercise known as Flintlock, that began this week. Some 1,300 military personnel from 29 countries are training in Ghana and Ivory Coast, amid surging jihadi violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group that’s killed thousands, displaced millions and plunged countries into crises. While most of the extremist activity is concentrated in West Africa’s inland Sahel region in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, the violence is rapidly spreading to coastal states like Ghana, which is experiencing an upsurge in attacks by unidentified groups, which could have links to jihadis. Northern Ghana had just one violent incident connected to an unidentified armed group in 2021 but that figure rose dramatically to 19 in 2022, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.”


Reuters: Israel Hits Areas In Syria's Hama And Tartous Countryside - Syrian State Media

“Israel launched several rocket strikes on areas in Syria's Hama province and the coastal Tartous countryside on Sunday, Syrian state media reported. Rockets flew from across northern Lebanon towards their targets, with three military personnel injured according to the report, which gave no further details. An Israeli military spokesperson declined comment. An Israeli air strike knocked Aleppo airport out of service on Tuesday and caused ‘material damage’ to the airport, according to Syrian state media. Western intelligence sources say the airport attack targeted Iranian arms shipments delivered by air under the cover of humanitarian aid and relief air by dozens of planes that were landing at the airport for people affected by last month's earthquake.”

Daily Sabah: CENTCOM Chief Meets PKK Terrorists, Inspects Detention Camps In Syria Visit

“A week after one of the top U.S. generals paid a controversial visit to northern Syria ‘to meet with (American) commanders and troops,’ another senior U.S. security official, Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, the commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), visited northeast Syria and met with U.S. forces and PKK leaders on Thursday. In a written statement released on Saturday, CENTCOM said Kurilla visited U.S. forces and PKK fighters in the ‘daily fight against ISIS At Large,’ using an alternative acronym for the Daesh terrorist group. ‘This was his sixth visit to Syria in the last 11 months,’ the statement said. Earlier on March 4, U.S. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made an unannounced visit to a U.S. base in the area dominated by the YPG, a Syrian wing of the designated terrorist group PKK. Milley’s visit stirred up a crisis between Türkiye and its NATO ally, the U.S., as the PKK and its associated elements in the region have claimed responsibility for thousands of civilian deaths in Türkiye.”


i24 News: Iran Sentences Swedish-Iranian Dissident To Death For 'Terrorism'

“An Iranian court on Sunday confirmed the death sentence for a dual Iranian-Swedish citizen for 'terrorism' over two years since his disappearance at an airport in Turkey, Iran's judiciary website Mizan Online reported. Habib Chaab, who vanished during a visit to Turkey and has been held in Iran since October 2020, was found guilty on charges of 'corruption on earth' and for the formation of a 'rebel group' inside the Islamic Republic. The dual national is the latest person in Iran to be sentenced to death for being member of Harakat al-Nidal, which Tehran calls a 'terrorist group.' Harakat al-Nidal have been accused of being behind a 2018 attack on a military parade in Ahvaz in the southwestern Khuzestan region that reportedly killed 25 people and wounded almost 250 more. Chaab was sentenced to death by Iran's judiciary on December 6, with Iran's Supreme Court upholding the ruling on Sunday.”


AFP News: Up To 500 IS Fighters Still Active In Iraq: Military

“The Islamic State group still has up to 500 active fighters in Iraq, a senior military official estimated Sunday in the country where jihadist cells continue to launch sporadic attacks. But Iraqi General Qais al-Mohamadawi, part of the anti-jihadist coalition, stressed that IS -- now based in remote desert and mountain hideouts -- has ‘lost its ability to attract new recruits’. The United Nations estimated in a report published last month that IS still has ‘5,000 to 7,000 members and supporters’ across Iraq and neighbouring Syria, ‘roughly half of whom are fighters’. The IS extremists in 2014 launched their self-proclaimed ‘caliphate’ across swathes of both countries in a campaign marked by its brutality including mass killings, torture, rape and slavery.”

The National: Iraqi Commandos Kill 22 ISIS Fighters In Anbar Desert

“Iraqi security forces killed 22 ISIS fighters during a military operation in the country’s sprawling western desert, senior military officers said on Sunday. Lt Gen Abdul Wahab Al Saedi, head of the country’s elite Counter Terrorism Service, told a press conference that all those killed wore explosive-laden belts, adding that senior leaders were among the dead. He named two of the slain field leaders as Barzan Hussein, who served as ISIS's governor of Fallujah, Al Janoob and Rokan Hameed Allawi. Fourteen others were also identified, he added, but he did not release their names. The operation took place in the desert to the south of Al Qaim city and involved dropping paratroopers. He added that some militants blew themselves up during the clashes.”

Iraqi News: 86 Terrorists Arrested, Weapons Seized In Eastern Iraq

“The Iraqi security forces arrested 86 terrorists and seized quantities of weapons on Saturday in the eastern governorate of Diyala. The Security Media Cell of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense mentioned in a statement that a joint security force arrested 86 terrorists in a security operation started on Friday in Diyala governorate. The security forces seized five pistols, 55 rifles, four hunting rifles, a 60 millimeter mortar, seven sound pistols, a smoke grenade, 18 vehicles, 160 motorcycles, a mobile phone and ammunitions, Alsumaria News reported. The Security Media Cell also mentioned that the authority of the law is above all, and the security forces, according to the drawn plans, are continuing their operations to arrest the outlaws and the terrorist elements. Diyala governorate witnesses repeated attacks by the remnants of ISIS group targeting the security forces and civilians in the governorate. In December 2017, Iraq announced the liberation of all its territories from the grip of the ISIS, after nearly three and a half years of confrontations with the terrorist group that occupied about a third of the country, announcing the establishment of what it called the Islamic Caliphate.”


TRT World: 'Most Wanted PKK Terrorist' Killed In Operation In Türkiye's Southeast

“Türkiye's ‘most wanted PKK terrorist’ has been reported killed alongside six other terrorists in a counterterrorism operation carried out by Turkish Armed Forces in the country's southeast. The Interior Ministry announced on Saturday that Hamiyet Yalcınkaya and the other suspects were killed in a January 22 operation in coordination with gendarmerie forces in Sirnak province’s Bestler Dereler region. ‘The so-called Botan Field Officer, code-named Leyla Amed, is in a yellow bag. Congratulations to our hero gendarme,’ Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said in a social media post. The image accompanying Soylu's post showed three soldiers carrying guns and standing next to an oversized yellow bag with one firearm placed on top.”


Reuters: Blast At Afghanistan Journalist Event Kills At Least One, Injures Eight

“A blast hit a cultural centre during an event for journalists in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing at least one person and wounding eight, according to authorities and journalists, a few days after the province's governor died in an explosion claimed by Islamic State. ‘Today, at 11:30 a.m. an explosion occurred at the Tabyan Cultural Centre, in the second police district of Mazar-i-Sharif in Balkh province ... the explosion happened due to a mine,’ said Abdul Nafi Takor, spokesperson for the Taliban administration's Ministry of Interior. Takor added that five journalists and three children were among the injured and a security guard was killed. It as not immediately clear who was behind the explosion. Sajad Mosawi, a journalist in Balkh who was injured in the blast, said it had torn through the centre during an event to celebrate journalists. Taliban authorities were already investigating the explosion that killed provincial governor Mawlawi Mohammad Dawood Muzamil and two others at his office on Thursday.”

MSN: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Attack In Afghanistan During Press Event At Cultural Center

“Islamic State claimed responsibility Sunday for the attack this week on a Shiite cultural center in the northern Afghan province of Balkh, where a press awards ceremony was being held. In the attack at the Tabayan cultural center, one security guard was killed and nearly 20 people, mostly reporters, were wounded, according to Taliban officials. However, a media outlet associated with the cultural center, Avapress, reported three dead and 30 wounded, according to DPA agency. The United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the attack and called for the protection of Afghan reporters who, according to them, show immense courage. The Afghan affiliate of the jihadist organization has been targeting the country's Shiite and Hazara minority for years, especially taking advantage of the security gaps opened up by the Taliban reconquest of the country. In fact, this is not the first attack against a branch of Tabayan -- an organization backed by Iran, since in 2017 they attacked the headquarters in the capital, Kabul, leaving around half a hundred dead.”


The Tribune: 13 Terrorists Arrested In Pakistan

“Pakistani law enforcement agencies on Friday arrested 13 suspected terrorists, mostly belonging to al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) groups, from different parts of Punjab province and thwarted a terror attack in Lahore, an official said. According to a spokesperson of the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab Police, five AQIS terrorists were arrested during a raid in Lahore and elsewhere. Similarly, five TTP terrorists and two belonging to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) outfit and other to Shia organisation Tahreek-e-Jafria Pakistan were arrested from different parts of Punjab. ‘To effectively counter the menace of terrorism, CTD Punjab had conducted 59 intelligence-based operations (IBOs) across the province and nabbed 13 terrorists,’ the official said.”

Pakistan Observer: ATC Grants Bail To Fawad In Terrorism Case

“An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Friday granted pre-arrest interim bail to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry in a case of murder, attempt to murder and other provisions, till March 25.The court ordered the PTI leader to furnish surety bonds of Rs 500,000 for availing the relief of the interim bail.The court also ordered Fawad Chaudhry to join the investigations, besides asking the investigation officer to submit a progress report on the next date of hearing. ATC Judge Ijaz Ahmad Buttar heard the pre-arrest bail petition, filed by Fawad Chaudhry.”

Middle East

Associated Press: 3 Palestinian Militants Killed In Attack On Israeli Troops

“Israeli forces shot and killed three Palestinian militants Sunday who opened fire on troops in the occupied West Bank, the military said, the latest bloodshed in a year-long wave of violence in the region. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed offshoot of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party, claimed the men killed as members. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the men were killed by Israeli fire near the city of Nablus and identified them as Jihad Mohammed al-Shami, 24, Uday Othman al-Shami, 22 and Mohammed Raed Dabeek, 18. The military said it confiscated three M16 rifles from the militants after the shootout and that one gunman turned himself in and was arrested. The deaths Sunday bring to 80 the number of Palestinians killed since the start of the year, as Israel has stepped up arrest raids in the West Bank. A spasm of Palestinian attacks against Israelis has killed 14 people in 2023.”

AFP News: US General Warns Of IS 'Army In Detention' In Syria, Iraq

“A US general warned Saturday that the Middle East faces the looming threat of an Islamic State group ‘army in detention’, after visiting prisons and camps in northeastern Syria holding suspected jihadists and their relatives. General Michael Kurilla, head of the US military's Central Command, visited several detention facilities this week, including Ghwayran prison in the city of Hasakeh, where hundreds were killed after jihadists stormed it early last year, a CENTCOM statement said. ‘In visiting the detention facility, I saw the looming threat posed by this group of detained ISIS fighters,’ Kurilla said in the statement, using another acronym for IS. ‘Between those detained in Syria and Iraq it is a veritable 'ISIS army in detention'. If freed, this group would pose a great threat regionally and beyond,’ he added. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), supported by a US-led coalition, spearheaded the fight against IS in Syria, driving the group from its last redoubt in the country in 2019. Tens of thousands of people, including relatives of alleged jihadists, have been detained in the years since in camps run by the Kurdish authorities, including the notorious Al-Hol camp, where around 10,000 foreigners are held.”


Sahara Reporters: Nigerian Troops Arrest Boko Haram Commander, Wife, Four Children; Nab 35 Terrorists’ Suppliers Of Food, Other Items

“The Nigerian Army has confirmed that its troops arrested a Boko Haram commander, his wife and four children in the Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State. This was made known by the Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Musa Danmadami, on Thursday during the biweekly briefing in Abuja. Danmadami said, ‘Troops of the Joint Task Force, Operation HADIN KAI in the North East zone of the Country have sustained and continued to dominate the Joint Area of Operations. ‘Operational activities were conducted in villages, forests, mountains, towns and cities of Ngala, Konduga, Mobar, Bama, Gwoza, Abadam, Biu, Monguno, Damboa and Askira-Uba Local Government Areas of Borno State.’”

The Guardian: Terrorists Kill Police, 16 Civilians In Zangon-Kataf

“Terrorists have killed 17 persons, including a policeman, in Southern Kaduna, and injured others. The Guardian gathered that the attack took place in community, Zango Kataf Local Council of Kaduna State. Already a 24-hour curfew has been imposed on Ungwan Juju, Mabuhu, Unguwar Wakili and Zangon Urban to forestall further crisis. Special Assistant (Media) to the Chairman of Zango Kataf Local Council, Yabo Ephraim, who disclosed the imposition of the curfew to newsmen, yesterday, said: ‘This is to allow men of the Nigerian Army restore peace to the axis.’”


Garowe Online: Bill: Convicted Al-Shabaab Terrorists To Lose Property To Somalia's Government

“The anti-terrorism Bill which was recently approved by Somalia's Lower House will allow the state to seize property belonging to Al-Shabaab convicts once the Senate gives it node and subsequent assenting by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is the head of state. Alternatively, the Bill, which is yet to be signed into law, recommends that the government can impose monetary penalties on terror convicts. The bill will now go to the Upper House for consideration and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will append his signature to make it law. Incidentally, the bill has been on the floor of the house since 2017 and gives government and security agencies sweeping powers to deter, prosecute and counter- terrorism in Somalia. The country is also facing IS Somalia insurgents who have been making inroads from the north.”

Menafn: Seven Shabab Militants Killed S. Somalia

“The Somali national army said Sunday its forces killed seven members of Al-Shabab militia, including a local leader, in Lower Juba region, south Somalia.

Five more militants were injured and quantities of weapons were seized in the military operation that targeted a terrorist hideout in the region, the Somali National News Agency (SONNA) cited a military statement as saying.”


AFP News: Three Escaped Jihadist Prisoners Killed In Mauritania: Govt

“Three escaped jihadist prisoners were killed in Mauritania during an operation to recapture them, the government said on Saturday. A police officer died and a fourth prisoner was detained, officials said. The operation took place overnight on Friday in the heartland desert area of Adrar, a security official said on condition of anonymity. The four jihadists had escaped from a Nouakchott prison the previous Sunday. The interior ministry has said two guards were killed and two injured during the breakout, which was a rare event in a nation spared the insurgency sweeping through the Sahel. According to a military official, two of the prisoners had been sentenced to death, while the other two were awaiting trial for membership of a terrorist organisation.”

Associated Press: At Least 19 People Killed In Congo By Suspected Extremists

“Rebels in eastern Congo killed at least 19 people and set fire to a health center and houses, authorities reported Sunday. Gunmen suspected of being part of the Allied Democratic Forces, a militia with links to the Islamic State group, attacked civilians in Kirindera town, Carly Nzanzu, the former governor of North Kivu province, said in an interview with state media. ADF attacks have killed dozens of people in several North Kivu villages in recent days. Congo’s authorities say people were slaughtered with guns, knives and machetes. Aamaq, a news agency linked to the Islamic State group, posted a statement Saturday in which IS claimed responsibility for killing more than 35 ‘Christians’ and wounding dozens in eastern Congo last week.”

The National: More Than 50 Cheetahs Rescued From Illegal Trade Find New Home

“…Since 2011, the Cheetah Conservation Fund has been assisting the government of Somaliland in caring for cheetahs intercepted from traffickers. A recent report from the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), a non-profit NGO that monitors revenue streams for terrorism and extremism, found illegal wildlife trafficking was experiencing a post-pandemic resurgence. The illegal trade in animals and their body parts has grown to an estimated annual value of up to $23 billion, devastating animal populations and driving species such as the elephant, rhinoceros and cheetah towards extinction. The CEP’s Extinction Inc report showed how poachers and smugglers rapidly adapted during the pandemic, exploiting tourist-free national parks while moving marketing and sales online. The onset of Covid-19 crippled national park budgets, limiting the number of bush rangers in place to protect wildlife. In Garamba National Park, a 5,000-square-kilometre plot in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 25 per cent of rangers had at one point lost their jobs, a familiar pattern seen across Africa.”

Garowe Online: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Identifies Kenyan Behind Manda Airbase Attack

“The Al-Shabaab militants have identified a Kenyan whom it claims participated in planning and executing the Manda Airbase attack on January 5, 2020, in what triggered a sharp change in US policy on defense in foreign countries after three Americans were killed in the unprecedented raid. Armed Al-Shabaab militants stormed the base which is controlled by Americans leading to an immense battle that lasted for several hours before key planners were killed. The militants claimed to have killed soldiers before confiscating armoured vehicles stationed in the base. In a video posted recently, Al-Shabaab identified Ramadan Mwani alias Abdulhaq Al-Muhajir as a suicide bomber on Barire, April 3, 2021. Video claims he was among Manda Bay attackers, Jan 5, 2020. He has generally been instrumental in instigating Al-Shabaab attacks across the country and the region.”

United Kingdom

Daily Mail: Man, 39, Accused Of Travelling To Syria For Terrorism Pleads Not Guilty To A String Of Charges Including Possessing A Firearm And Funding Terror Group

“A British Muslim convert who allegedly travelled to Syria for terrorism has pleaded not guilty to a string of charges. Aine Leslie Davis, 39, formerly from London, was arrested and charged after returning to the UK at Luton Airport last August. On Friday Davis pleaded not guilty to possession of a firearm contrary to Section 57 of the Terrorism Act 2000, and two charges relating to the funding of terrorism. The first charge alleges that between 28 July 2013 and 16 January 2014 he possessed a firearm 'in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that the possession is for a purpose connected with the commission preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism'.”

The Guardian: Man Arrested On Suspicion Of Terrorism After Woman Stabbed In Cheltenham

“A 29-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences after a woman was stabbed outside a leisure centre in Cheltenham. The arrest is in relation to the attack on a woman at about 9.15pm outside a leisure centre in Tommy Taylors Lane, Cheltenham on Thursday, Gloucestershire constabulary said. She sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital for treatment where she remained in a stable condition, the force added. The man was arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of terrorism – as well as on suspicion of preparing acts of terrorism. The man was previously arrested in suspicion of attempted murder after the incident, however, he was re-arrested on Friday under the Terrorism Act, the force added.”

Southeast Asia

Philstar: Police Get $3.3-M Aid From US For Anti-Terrorism Efforts

“The Philippine National Police has received a $3.3-million technical assistance from the United States to help out with its anti-terrorism efforts in the country. The package was handed over by US Ambassador to the Philippines Marykay Carlson, Police Gen. Rodolfo Azurin Jr. said on Monday. Assistance included the turning over of equipment, such as explosive incident countermeasures like 34 bomb suits, 41 digital scanners, 43 x-rays, 36 high-risk search techniques, 16 seeker e-kits, and seven pickup trucks. Azurin recently led a PNP delegation that visited the United States for a four-day official mission for top-level engagements with their counterparts.”


The Tribune: Narco-Terrorism Bid, Army Seizes Drugs, Arms Near Loc In Rajouri

“In a major success against narco-terrorism in J&K, security forces on Saturday recovered 2 kg of narcotic powder, two hi-tech pistols and an IED from Jhangar village close to the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri district’s Nowshera. Defence spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand said through the seizure, a major terror incident being plotted by terror organisations had been averted. Sources said the packet in which the narcotics and the arms were stashed was believed to have been dropped by a drone from Pakistan. ‘Terror groups are now regularly dropping arms and drugs inside Indian territory in J&K and Punjab,’ said the sources.’ A case has been registered under relevant sections of law and investigation initiated, he added.”

India Today: NIA Raids Multiple Locations In Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra In ISIS Conspiracy Case

“The National Investigation Agency (NIA) searched four locations in Madhya Pradesh’s Seoni and a location in Maharashtra's Pune on Saturday as part of an investigation to unravel a conspiracy by Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) to expand its activities in India, an official said on Sunday. The NIA teams searched the homes of suspects Talha Khan in Pune and Akram Khan in Seoni. The case was initially registered by the Delhi Police’s Special Cell after the arrest of a Kashmiri couple, Jahanzaib Sami Wani and his wife Hina Bashir Beigh, from Okhla in Delhi. The couple was found to be affiliated with the ISKP. During investigations, the role of another accused, Abdullah Basith, emerged. Basith is lodged in the Tihar Jail in another case being investigated by the NIA.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On March 25, 2017, as Bangladesh Armed Forces raided a militant hideout in South Surma Upazila, Bangladesh, militants detonated two bombs in a crowd of 500-600 onlookers. The attack, claimed by ISIS, killed four civilians and three police officers, and injured 50 others.

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