Eye on Extremism: March 24, 2021

The Jerusalem Post: ISIS In Sinai Leader Killed In Clash With Egyptian Forces - Report

“Leader of the ISIS terrorist organization in the Sinai Peninsula, Salim Salma Said Mahmoud al-Hamadin, was killed during clashes with Bedouin and Egyptian forces near Al-Barth, south of Rafah and near the border with Israel, according to Arabic media. A bodyguard and escort were also detained. Hamadin, referred to as the “most dangerous and oldest of the takfiri elements in the Sinai,” was responsible for the murder of hundreds of civilians and Egyptian soldiers, according to the reports. “Takfiri” is a word often used to refer to armed extremist groups, but originally referred to Muslim apostates or infidels. The targeting of the ISIS leader was conducted as a joint operation between the Egyptian military and the Sinai Tribal Union. The terrorist leader had been arrested in the past due to involvement in bombings in Taba and Sharm al-Sheikh, but managed to escape and continue his terrorist activities. Hamadin recruited a large number of people to the terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis before the group swore allegiance to ISIS, according to Sky News Arabia. ISIS in the Sinai has bombed gas pipelines between Egypt and Israel and has launched rockets at Israel multiple times.”

Associated Press: UN Envoy: Attacks Must End For Afghan Peace Talks To Succeed

“The U.N. special envoy for Afghanistan warned Tuesday that peace talks won’t succeed unless escalating violence stops, and urged any peace agreement to reflect that half the population today was born after the 2001 defeat of the Taliban and saw women rise to positions of economic and political power. Deborah Lyons told the U.N. Security Council that these Afghans are now the majority and deserve to have their voices heard during peace negotiations between the government and the Taliban, and to play “an active and substantial role in Afghan society after a peace agreement is concluded.” The Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 by a U.S.-led coalition for harboring Osama bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America. A peace deal that Washington brokered with the Taliban and signed in February 2020 led to talks in Qatar with the government that began last September. Under the Taliban, women were not allowed to go to school, work outside the home or leave their house without a male escort. And though they still face many challenges in the male-dominated society, Afghan women have increasingly stepped into powerful positions in numerous fields — and many fear the current negotiations could bargain away their gains.”

United States

Politico: DHS Looking At Tracking Travel Of Domestic Extremists

“The Department of Homeland Security is considering monitoring the travel of domestic extremists and expanding its use of the No Fly List, law enforcement sources told POLITICO. The discussions are part of the Biden administration’s strategy of treating domestic terror as a national security threat, and not just a law enforcement problem. They're also part of broader conversations in government about how to use tools developed for the Global War on Terror to combat domestic extremism. And, if past is prologue, the approach could prove politically contentious. The department could begin analyzing the travel patterns of suspected domestic extremists, monitor flights they book on short notice and search their luggage for weapons, a senior law enforcement official told POLITICO. There have also been discussions about putting suspected domestic violent extremists — a category that includes white supremacists — on the FBI’s No Fly List, the official said. When suspected extremists travel internationally, officials may be more likely to question them before they pass through customs and to search their phones and laptops. A second law enforcement official told POLITICO that conversations about monitoring domestic extremists’ travel have involved multiple federal agencies at the interagency level, including the FBI.”

Syria

Agence France-Presse: Two Years After Defeat, IS Just As Dangerous, Kurds Warn

“Islamic State forces remain as dangerous today as when they were ousted from their last Syrian bastion two years ago, Kurdish forces warned Tuesday as they marked the anniversary. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said counter-terrorism efforts today were “more difficult than face-to-face fighting with IS jihadists, and are considered more dangerous,” in a statement to mark their victory in March 2019. “The fall of the last patch of IS territory in northeast Syria does not mean complete defeat,” the SDF added. On Tuesday, Kurdish authorities, local tribal leaders and members of the US-led coalition who pushed IS from their Syrian stronghold, marked the anniversary with a military parade in the US-protected Al-Omar oil field, in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. The IS defeat in the eastern riverside hamlet of Baghouz marked the end of a cross-border “caliphate” declared in 2014 across swaths of Iraq and Syria. But two years on, IS has shown that it does not need a stronghold to pose a potent threat, with the jihadists carrying out regular attacks and ambushes, including setting off roadside bombs and machine-gunning vehicles.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: 5 ISIS Enclaves Remain In Central, Eastern Syria

“To this day, ISIS controls five isolated pockets in Syria, the largest of which is located near the Ithria village in Hama province. The other four enclaves are situated south of Raqqa province, in Palmyra’s countryside, near borders with Iraq and south of the eastern city of Deir Ezzor. Since the beginning of 2021, ISIS staged 66 military operations against areas controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern and eastern Syria, said a report published by North Press. The campaigns included eight operations in Raqqa and its countryside, six operations in the Hasakah countryside, 41 operations in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, and 11 operations in the western and northern countryside of Deir Ezzor. 50 people were killed and about 16 survived the attacks, with some suffering injuries that caused them physical disabilities. East of Hasakah province, al-Hol camp’s administration accused ISIS off committing 29 murders since the beginning of 2021. Most of the victims were Iraqi refugees. Also in Hasakah, the US-led International Coalition has launched a dramatic expansion of a large detention facility for ISIS fighters.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Tensions Mount Between Afghan Government, Powerful Warlord

“Tensions are mounting between Afghanistan’s government and a powerful local warlord, with deadly clashes erupting in a rural province between his fighters and government troops. The fear is that the violence could be a harbinger of more chaos as U.S. troops head toward the exits. The government has launched an assault in central Maidan Wardak province, vowing to punish the warlord, Abdul Ghani Alipoor, after the defense minister accused his fighters of shooting down a military helicopter last week, killing nine personnel. It’s the latest in a long history of frictions with Alipoor that are increasingly turning bloody. In January, security forces killed at least 11 civilians when they opened fire on protesters, including many Alipoor supporters, in the province’s Behsud district. Alipoor holds widespread loyalty among ethnic Hazaras, a mainly Shiite community who are a minority in Afghanistan but make up most of the population in Maidan Wardak. Alipoor is one of the many warlords backed by heavily armed militias who hold local power across Afghanistan. The government is allied with some them, but others, like Alipoor, are in frequent confrontation with Kabul, resisting its control. These warlords are a potential wild card as Afghanistan enters a new phase after decades of war.”

Pakistan

Voice Of America: Bomb Kills 4, Injures 13 In Southwestern Pakistan

“A bomb explosion in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province Tuesday killed at least four people and wounded 13 others. Police said the explosive device was hidden in a motorcycle parked near an office of the Levies paramilitary force in Chaman, a remote Pakistani town next to the Afghan border. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the deadly bombing. Rescue workers and police said the attack harmed mostly civilians. Secessionist ethnic Baluch militants often take credit for plotting bomb and other attacks against security forces and government installations in Baluchistan. Extremists linked to the banned Pakistani Taliban outfit and Islamic State also operate in the natural resource-rich province and have claimed responsibility for some of the recent attacks, including those against the minority Shiite Hazara community. Pakistani officials allege that fugitive militant leaders have taken refuge in Afghanistan and plot cross-border attacks from there, charges Afghan authorities reject. Earlier this month, gunmen ambushed a vehicle carrying Pakistan Navy personnel in Baluchistan’s key Gwadar district, killing at least one sailor and seriously wounding two others. The Baluchistan Liberation Army, which the United States has designated as a global terrorist group, took responsibility for that attack.”

Yemen

Arab News: How The Houthis Teach Yemeni Youth To Hate

“The Iran-backed Houthi militia is using graphic violent imagery, including pictures of dead children, in educational materials to condition young Yemenis to support violence and hate the US, Saudi Arabia and Jews, according to a new report. “Houthi educational materials are rife with violence and imagery of death, irrespective of the age of the target audience,” said the report, released on Tuesday by education watchdog IMPACT-se. Images of dead children, for example, are used “to portray the Houthis’ enemies as monstrous and inhumane.” Adversaries of the Houthis, in particular countries participating in the Saudi-led coalition’s military campaign against the group, are “presented as an inhuman, absolute evil.” The report found that through magazines such as their signature publication Jihad, the Houthis are indoctrinating young Yemenis into an overtly violent and radical ideology. “The Houthi materials grossly violate the ideal of peacemaking, entirely dismissing peace as an option in international conflict resolution, and condemning those who advocate for it as cowardly, foolish or traitorous,” IMPACT-se said. “Instead, violent jihad, sacrifice in battle, and supporting the war effort in any way possible is held up as an ideal and a central virtue.”

Nigeria

The Wall Street Journal: Why Nigerian Schoolchildren Keep Getting Kidnapped: A Brutal Business Model That Pays

“The kidnap for ransom business is booming across northern Nigeria, and schoolchildren are its hottest commodity. Just before midnight on March 11 gunmen barged into a school around 300 yards from a military training college in Kaduna state and seized dozens of students from their dormitories. It took less than 12 hours for the captors to issue a now familiar demand, through a grainy video posted on Facebook. “They want 500 million Naira,” said one of the terrified hostages from the Federal College of Forestry, sitting shirtless in a forest clearing, a sum equal to around $1 million. Masked men wielding Kalashnikovs paced among the 39 students—mostly young women—then began to hit them with bullwhips. “Our life is in danger,” a woman screamed. “Just give them what they want.” On March 13, the Nigerian army foiled an attempt to kidnap 300 more students at a boarding school less than 50 miles away. The following day, children were among a group of 11 people abducted from the town of Suleja, in Nigeria’s Niger state. This was just one weekend in what has become a routine and brutal business in Africa’s most populous country.”

Africa

Reuters: Niger Mourns 137 Victims After Deadliest Attack In Recent Memory

“Flags flew at half-staff and Koranic verses played on state media on Tuesday as Niger began observing three days of national mourning for the 137 victims of coordinated raids on villages in the southwest. The killings on Sunday represented Niger’s worst civilian carnage in recent memory, surpassing an attack by suspected militants in January that killed at least 100 villagers and another last week that killed at least 58. The scale of the violence this year has called into question claims of progress in the fight against Islamist militants by governments in West Africa’s Sahel region and former colonial power France, which has 5,000 troops there to support them. A security source blamed Sunday’s attacks, which were carried out by men on motorbikes in the remote Tahoua region near the border with Mali, on the local Islamic State affiliate. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for previous raids against security forces and French aid workers. Niger only finished a period of mourning for the previous attacks on Friday. The rising death toll appears to be the result of the Islamists inserting themselves into ethnic conflicts between rival farming and herding communities, said Harouna Abarchi, a civil society activist who leads peace initiatives in the area.”

Voice Of America: Displaced Mozambicans Optimistic About US Support For Counterinsurgency Efforts

“Mozambicans who have been forced from their homes because of the ongoing conflict in the northern part of their country say Washington’s pledge to train Mozambican security forces brings a glimmer of hope that their situation will improve. Last week, the U.S. embassy in Mozambique announced plans to train Mozambican security forces to combat violent extremism in the country’s north. Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department designated an Islamic State (IS) affiliate in Mozambique as a foreign terrorist organization — along with another IS affiliate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Residents in the country’s northern Cabo Delgado province, a region rich in natural gas deposits, have been grappling with an Islamist insurgency there since 2017. Attacks claimed by the militant group known as al-Shabab have killed nearly 2,700 people and displaced 670,000 others, according to the conflict monitoring group Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (ACLED). Last week, Britain-based aid group Save the Children said al-Shabab militants, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terror group, have beheaded children as young as 11 in Cabo Delgado.”

Council On Foreign Relations: Multiple Jihadi Insurgencies, Cooperating With Bandits, Appear To Be Converging In The Sahel

“On March 17, around one hundred assailants, traveling on motorcycles and pickup trucks, killed thirty-three soldiers and wounded an additional fourteen in an attack near Tessit in central Mali. Peacekeepers operating under the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) assisted the evacuation of the dead and wounded; the French-led counterinsurgency force stationed in West Africa, Operation Barkhane, helped the Malian military secure the area after the attack. About four days later, perpetrators killed 137 in coordinated attacks in the Tahoua region of southwest Niger. The attacks took place near the border with Mali and also not far from Tillabéri, another Nigerien border region, where at least fifty-eight people were killed recently by gunmen on motorcycles. The Islamic State’s “West Africa affiliate” has apparently claimed responsibility for the Tessit attack. This likely refers primarily to the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), which is known to operate in the tri-border region where the frontiers of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso meet; reporting on the attacks at Tillabéri and Tahoua suggests ISGS involvement. If so, there are additional reports that militants from the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA)—a splinter group of Boko Haram—provided reinforcements to ISGS in the Tahoua attack.”

The North Africa Post: Tunisia Freezes Assets Of Three Terrorism Financing Suspects

“Tunisia’s Anti-terrorism commission, CNLCT, announced Monday it froze the assets of three Tunisians who allegedly funded terrorism activities, reports say. The CNLCT told state-run news agency TAP that the three individuals, whose names have not been disclosed, physically financed terrorism activities. Tunisia has set up the CNLCT to prevent terrorism in a country that witnessed a surge in terrorism in recent years mainly in 2015 when three major attacks killed more than 70 people, mostly foreign tourists. On March 10, the commission said it had frozen the assets of 108 people who alleged financed terrorism activities.”

United Kingdom

Reuters: London Police Arrest Man On Suspicion Of Terrorism Offences

“London police arrested a man on suspicion of explosive substance and terrorism offences, the Metropolitan Police said on Tuesday. A 53-year old man was detained on Monday on suspicion of possessing an explosive substance. On Tuesday “he was subsequently further arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism”, it said in a statement. “Specialist officers remain at the property to carry out searches. There is a cordon in place,” the police force added.”

BBC News: Maidenhead Far-Right Sympathiser Guilty Of Terrorism Offences

“A man with a collection of far-right manuals has been found guilty of terrorism offences. Nicholas Brock's stash was like “an undergraduate degree” in the far-right, a trial at Kingston Crown Court heard. The manuals had instructions on how to make explosive devices, and how to kill quickly and efficiently with a blade. Brock, from Maidenhead, was found guilty of possessing materials likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. The 53-year-old was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on 25 May. When police raided his home, they found three banned documents in a folder labelled “military files” on a hard drive. Brock also had a copy of Mein Kampf, a framed certificate from the Ku Klux Klan, Nazi-era daggers and a DVD of the exploitation movie SS Experiment Camp. A video of the Christchurch mosque attack in New Zealand filmed by the killer and a beheading video were also found. Brock told police he was “a normal person who likes collecting stuff”. He claimed to be a military collector with an interest ever since he loved Action Man figures as a child. He had “no interest” in far-right groups, he said, and “didn't go out much”. Edward Butler, defending, said some of the material was “unpleasant and appalling” but was not enough evidence to prove he was a terrorist or would commit a terror attack.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: Bundeswehr Remains Under Fire For Far-Right Extremism

“The KSK elite force was created in response to an incident that many in Germany look back on with shame: In April 1994 the east African state of Rwanda was descending into violence amid the slaughter of the country's Tutsi minority. Seven Deutsche Welle staff and their relatives caught up in the chaos desperately needed to be evacuated from a transmitter site in the capital Kigali. But it was Belgian paratroopers — and not German special forces — who got the job done. How could it be that a country with a population of around 80 million was not able to come to the rescue of its own citizens? The elite company that emerged from that insight first began to take shape in September 1996 with the creation of the top-secret Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK) force in the south-western town of Calw. It was modelled on similar outfits in the US and UK. A further two years passed before the KSK was first sent into the field. That mission came when the government of Serbia refused to deport suspected war criminal Milorad Krnojelac to the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague. Under his authority, it was alleged, there at been hundreds of cases of torture and rape in a Serbian detention camp.”

Technology

Voice Of America: Extremist Groups Thrive On Facebook Despite Bans

“A new outside report found that Facebook has allowed groups — many tied to QAnon, boogaloo and militia movements — to glorify violence during the 2020 election and in the weeks leading up to the deadly riots on the U.S. Capitol in January. Avaaz, a nonprofit advocacy group that says it seeks to protect democracies from misinformation, identified 267 pages and groups on Facebook that it says spread violence-glorifying material in the heat of the 2020 election to a combined following of 32 million users. More than two-thirds of the groups and pages had names that aligned with several domestic extremist movements, the report found. The first, boogaloo, promotes a second U.S. civil war and the breakdown of modern society. The second is the QAnon conspiracy, which claims that Donald Trump is waging a secret battle against the “deep state” and a sect of powerful Satan-worshipping pedophiles who dominate Hollywood, big business, the media and government. The rest are various anti-government militias. All have been largely banned from Facebook since 2020. But despite what Avaaz called “clear violations” of Facebook's policies, it found that 119 of these pages and groups were still active on the platform as of March 18 and had just under 27 million followers.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

God forbid, if a time comes when we have no choice but to watch our citizens breathe their final breaths, and when there are no ventilators… we will make six million Israeli settlers unable to breathe.

Yahya Sinwar, Leader of Hamas in Gaza Apr. 2, 2020
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