Eye on Extremism: March 25, 2021

Reuters: Armed Groups Attack Mozambique Town Closest To Gas Projects: Sources

“Armed groups on Wednesday attacked the northern Mozambique town closest to gas projects worth some $60 billion, two sources told Reuters, striking ever closer to developments that have already stalled due to security problems. The attack on the town of Palma, less than 25 km (15 miles)by road from a construction camp for the gas developments led by oil majors like Total, happened on the same day that the French company announced it would gradually resume works at the site after suspending them due to nearby attacks. Mozambique’s northern-most province of Cabo Delgado has since 2017 been home to a festering Islamist insurgency on the projects’ doorstep, which has escalated in the past year as insurgents, linked to Islamic State, began taking on the army to seize entire towns. Portuguese state news agency Lusa first reported the attack, which was confirmed to Reuters by a security source and another source familiar with the matter. Reuters was not able immediately to verify the reports with officials, as calls to the spokespeople for the defence and security forces as well as police were not answered. A local Total spokesperson could not immediately be reached.”

Associated Press: German Woman Accused Of Fighting For IS In Syria Arrested

“A German woman accused of taking her son to Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria and fighting for the extremist group there was arrested Wednesday after landing in Berlin. The woman, identified only as Stefanie A. in line with German privacy rules, traveled to Syria in 2016 to join her husband, federal prosecutors said in a statement. He had left Germany the previous year and was fighting for IS, they added. Prosecutors said that the suspect joined IS after her arrival and, together with her husband, decided to have her son — aged under 15 at the time — get firearms training at a training camp run by the group. Her son was used in military operations and she also at some point became an IS fighter, they said. The son was killed in an air raid in March 2018, according to the statement. Stefanie A. and her husband were later arrested. She is suspected of membership in a foreign terrorist organization, violating her duty of care and a war crime, prosecutors said.”

United States

Military Times: Lawmakers Spar Over Problem Of Extremism In The Military

“Both Democrats and Republicans believe that extremism has no place in the U.S. military. But they don’t agree whether it’s already present there. Members of Congress sparred Tuesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on extremism in the ranks over what counts as hate speech, how big the problem is in the armed forces, and whether anything needs to be done to address it. Democrats on the panel pointed to the large number of veterans involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol (reports have indicated almost a quarter of individuals arrested have a military background) and increased recruiting of military members by white supremacist groups in recent years as warning signs that must be addressed. The Pentagon is signaling a crackdown on extremists in the ranks. But it won't be easy. Republicans countered that actual criminal convictions of extremist activity in the ranks remain low, and said they believe the issue is more of a political talking point than an actual military problem. “I want to root out of the military those who actively participate in vile and violent hate groups,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala. “But it’s important to remember that extremist behavior is already prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and by each service’s own regulations … This is far from the largest military justice issue facing our armed services.”

WTOP: The Hunt: Hate Groups Praise Atlanta Attacks Online, Encourage Violence Against Asian Americans

“Since the killing of eight people in Atlanta, hate groups have praised the attacks and called for more against Asian Americans. On this week’s edition of “The Hunt, with WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green,” Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director at Counter Extremism Project, said this is an attempt to generate fear and create chaos nationwide.”

Iraq

Air Force Magazine: Coalition Aircraft, Iraqi Forces Continue Large Offensive Targeting Isis

“Extensive coalition and Iraqi operations targeting the Islamic State group in northern Iraq continued, with aircraft now conducting at least 312 airstrikes on ISIS remnants in the remote mountainous region. U.S.-led coalition aircraft and Iraqi forces conducted the airstrikes as part of Operation Ready Lion in the Makhmour Mountains, south of Erbil and Mosul. The strikes hit 120 hideouts, and killed 27 terrorists, said Col. Wayne Marotto, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. Iraqi Ministry of Defense spokesman Yehia Rasool said Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service snipers watched ISIS caves, with the airstrikes targeting the cave system and forcing the fighters to flee, according to a translated series of posts on Twitter. OIR announced the offensive earlier this week, disclosing that U.S.-led coalition aircraft had conducted 133 airstrikes over 10 days in the region. The pace of strikes so far this month appears to be higher than any other period since March 2019, when ISIS made its last stand in Syria before moving underground to become an insurgency, according to statistics from Air Forces Central Command.”

Turkey

Daily Sabah: Turkish Police Arrest 18 Daesh Suspects In Istanbul

“Eighteen people, 16 of them foreign nationals, were arrested in Istanbul, Turkey for having suspected links to the Daesh terror group, security sources said Wednesday. Police units launched simultaneous raids on 15 addresses in 10 districts to nab the suspects, who allegedly operated in the terror group in Iraq and Syria and tried to enter Turkey illegally. Digital materials belonging to the terrorist group were also seized in the operation. In 2013, Turkey became one of the first countries to declare Daesh a terrorist group. The country has since been attacked by the terror group multiple times, with over 300 people killed and hundreds more injured in at least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb attacks and four armed assaults. In response, Turkey launched counter-terrorism operations at home and abroad to prevent further attacks.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Biden Wants To Explore Keeping U.S. Counter-Terrorism Troops In Afghanistan: Top Lawmaker

“The Biden administration is looking to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan past a May 1 deadline while exploring a deal in which the Taliban would allow a U.S. counter-terrorism force to remain as they confront their Islamic State foes, a top U.S. lawmaker said on Wednesday. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith’s comments provided new details of U.S. President Joe Biden’s conduct of the Afghanistan peace process that he inherited from the Trump administration. The State Department referred questions to the White House. The White House and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment. U.S. officials have said Biden has made no decision on the deadline to withdraw the last U.S. troops from America’s longest war. Biden has said it would be “tough” to meet the deadline here set in a February 2020 deal struck with the Taliban. Addressing an online Foreign Policy magazine forum, Smith said he spoke to national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about the withdrawal. “I think there’s a general feeling that May 1 is too soon, just logistically,” he said. “We’ve got ... closer to 3,500 troops in Afghanistan. Our allies have around 7,000.”

Agence France-Presse: Taliban Slam Afghan President's Proposal For New Election

“The Taliban on Wednesday rejected a proposal by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to hold elections later this year, after months of peace talks between the two warring sides have made little progress. Although he hasn't made details public, Ghani will announce the election plan at a stakeholder conference in Turkey next month, according to two government officials. The move is likely an attempt to undercut a US proposal -- supported by Russia -- for the formation of an interim government involving the Taliban to rule the country once the last US troops withdraw. “The government will go to Turkey with a plan for an early election which is a fair plan for the future of Afghanistan,” one senior official told AFP. The Taliban immediately rejected the proposal. “Such processes (elections) have pushed the country to the verge of crisis in the past,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said of Ghani's plan. “They are now talking about a process that has always been scandalous,” he told AFP, saying any decision on the country’s future must be hammered out in ongoing talks between the two sides. “We will never support it.” The United States is due to withdraw the last of its troops by May 1 under a deal hammered out with the Taliban last year, although President Joe Biden said earlier this month the deadline would be “tough” to meet.”

Pakistan

Al Jazeera: Explosion Targeting Police Kills Three In Southwest Pakistan

“An improvised explosive device blast has killed at least three people and wounded 12 others in the southwestern Pakistani border town of Chaman, officials say. The blast took place on Tuesday evening and targeted a police vehicle that was on routine patrol in the Levies Lines area of the town, located about 100km (62 miles) northwest of provincial capital Quetta. “There was a motorcycle parked in front of the market [in the area] and it was filled with explosives,” Shamsullah, a local official, told Al Jazeera. “When the vehicle came in front of the motorcycle, it exploded.” Shamsullah, known by one name as is common in the region, confirmed the death toll and number of wounded. Those killed were civilian passersby, he said, while most of the wounded were police personnel who were in the vehicle. Images from the scene showed extensive damage to several shops in the market and broken windows on buildings around the blast site. Chaman is a key border crossing between Pakistan and its northwestern neighbour Afghanistan, with thousands of pedestrians and many container trucks crossing each day. Balochistan province, in which Chaman is located, is Pakistan’s largest but least densely populated and is rich in mineral resources.”

Nigeria

Agence France-Presse: Electricity Restored In Nigerian City Two Months After Jihadist Attack

“Residents of the northeastern Nigerian city Maiduguri were elated Wednesday evening when electricity was restored nearly two months after jihadists blew up power supply lines. The attack on January 26 was the third time in a month that militants from the IS-linked Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group had plunged the city into darkness. On a bustling street near Bakassi camp, which hosts more than 30,000 people displaced by the violent conflict in the region, residents were rejoicing. “Seriously, I appreciate it,” Sihiyina Chinde, 24, sitting on a wooden bench, preparing pan-fried rice cake and grounded beans in a pan she could finally see thanks to the street lights. “I'm a maths and statistics student and now I can read my books without using my torchlight.” Across the road, a group of children were buying cold water, sold in small plastic bags. “The light came back at 5:42pm (16:42 GMT),” said the shop owner, Ibrahim Mustafa Goni. The power company has not yet released a statement but had said it was working on repairing the supply lines to the city of three million people. “Life has been hard,” says 48-year-old Goni, “especially at the moment, in the hot season, when cold water is really needed.”

Sahara Reporters: How Boko Haram Terrorists Have Been Raping Women, Girls Without Government Action—Amnesty International

“A recent study by Amnesty International has revealed that women and girls who were victims of rape by Boko Haram insurgents are neglected by the Nigerian government. The report, made available to SaharaReporters on Wednesday, showed during raids in Borno communities, Boko Haram fighters raped women and girls who were caught at home or trying to flee. Amnesty International, however, said none of the survivors appeared to have accessed formal health service linking it to a significant underreporting of such events. It read, “Rape and other sexual violence survivors and witnesses described attacks involving sexual violence in at least five villages in the Magumeri local government area of Borno State. During raids, usually at night, Boko Haram fighters raped women and girls who were caught at home or trying to flee. “One woman was physically assaulted by Boko Haram fighters as she fled from an attack in late 2020. She crawled to home and hid there with her children, and saw fighters return and enter a nearby home. “She said: 'In the next house, I started hearing some women were shouting and screaming and crying. I was very afraid. After some minutes, maybe 30 minutes, I saw the men come out of the house.”

Africa

Reuters: Three Die, 10 Hurt After Bus Hits Suspected Explosive Device In Northern Kenya

“Three people died and ten were wounded on Wednesday after a bus they were travelling in hit a suspected improvised explosive device planted in the road in Mandera county in Kenya’s north along its border with Somalia, a government official said. The incident occurred along a busy highway, and four of the ten injured were in critical condition, Nicholas Ndalana, the government coordinator for the region told Reuters on phone. The bus had departed from Lafey and was en route to Mandera town. “An attack of a bus took place this morning, sad enough we lost three passengers, the bus was completely damaged by an explosive device that was planted on the ground” Ndalana said. It was not immediately clear who was responsible. The area has, over the years, been frequently hit with bomb and gun assaults by fighters from Somalia’s al Shabaab Islamist group. Osman Liban, a resident from Mandera, told Reuters his nephew was among those injured and that his leg was fractured. Fighters from al Shabaab have killed hundreds in such attacks that have targeted security personnel, schools, vehicles, towns and telephone infrastructure in the area as part of their campaign to pressure Kenya into withdrawing its forces from Somalia.”

Daily Nation: Kenya: One Killed In Suspected Al-Shabaab Attack In Lamu

“One person died on Tuesday morning when a water bowser headed to Usalama Camp, where the Kenya-Somalia border wall is being constructed, ran over an improvised explosive device suspected to have been planted by Al-Shabaab militants. The vehicle, which had two occupants -the driver and the conductor- was ferrying water to be used for the ongoing construction of the border securitization wall, when the incident occurred at around 7.30am. Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia confirmed the incident, saying enough security officers have been deployed to search for the terrorists responsible for the morning attack. Following the incident, an urgent security meeting, which was chaired by Mr Macharia was organised within Usalama Camp to strategise on how best the safety of the construction workers will be taken care of. The County Commissioner however said no construction activities were hampered as the terrorist attack happened very far from the camp. He appealed to members of the public on the border villages of Kiunga, Ishakani, Madina and Boni forest to provide information to security agencies if they witness any suspicious individuals for prompt action.”

Europe

Associated Press: Spain: Police Question Head Of Islamic Body In Terror Probe

“Spain's National Police says it has briefly detained and questioned the highest-ranking representative of the Muslim community in Spain as part of a terrorism investigation. Aiman Adlbi heads the Islamic Commission of Spain, or CIE, the organization that oversees everything from Muslim education to religious services in the country's more than 1,600 mosques and Muslim cultural communities. A police spokeswoman, who wasn’t authorized to be named in media reports, said Wednesday that Adlbi was arrested late Tuesday and released after being questioned. She said that the arrest was motivated by “possible terrorism crimes.” The arrest is connected to a 2019 judicial investigation that resulted in the arrests of at least 10 people - nine Spaniards and a Syrian national - who were accused of funding alleged extremist operations in Syria and other conflict zones. The Islamic Commission of Spain didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.”

Technology

Fortune: What Big Tech CEOs Will Tell An Angry Congress About Policing Misinformation And Extremism

“Big Tech CEOs plan to defend their services against accusations that they have failed to root out hate and anti-vaccine hoaxes when they testify before Congress on Thursday. “People want to see accurate information on Facebook, and so do we,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg says in written testimony submitted ahead of the hearing to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is examining social media’s role in promoting extremism and misinformation. “That’s why we have made fighting misinformation and providing people with authoritative information a priority for the company.” Many lawmakers from both parties want to crack down on Big Tech companies, which they say have become too powerful. They point to how extremists have used social media services to organize things like the U.S. Capitol riot in January or how anti-vaccine activists have spread misinformation about COVID. In response, the CEOs will stress that they will continue trying to eliminate harmful posts, though they admit their systems are imperfect. They will also emphasize the good their services do.”

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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