Eye on Extremism: March 25, 2024

The New York Times: U.S. Says ISIS Was Responsible For Deadly Moscow Concert Hall Attack

“The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Friday for the massacre at a Moscow area concert hall, one of the deadliest attacks in Russia in decades, and U.S. officials confirmed the claim shortly afterward. The United States collected intelligence in March that Islamic State-Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, the branch of the group based in Afghanistan, had been planning an attack on Moscow, according to officials. ISIS members have been active in Russia, one U.S. official said. After a period of relative quiet, the Islamic State has been trying to increase its external attacks, according to U.S. counterterrorism officials. Most of those plots in Europe have been thwarted, prompting assessments that the group had diminished capabilities. “ISIS-K has been fixated on Russia for the past two years,” frequently criticizing President Vladimir V. Putin in its propaganda, said Colin P. Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst at the Soufan Group, a security consulting firm based in New York. “ISIS-K accuses the Kremlin of having Muslim blood in its hands, referencing Moscow’s interventions in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Syria.””

Associated Press: Attack On Nigerien Forces Kills 23 Soldiers And Underscores Continued Conflict With Militants

“A militant attack on Nigerien forces in a border region near Mali and Burkina Faso killed 23 soldiers, the defense ministry said Friday. The soldiers were taking part in an overnight clearing operation on Tuesday in the country’s west when they were ambushed by armed men on motorcycles equipped with homemade bombs, the ministry statement said, according to state television. Details of the attack were previously unreported. The statement by Defense Minister Gen. Salifou Mody blamed the attack on jihadi fighters, saying the army had killed about 30 attackers in response. The violence highlighted the troubles facing Niger and its neighbors. Niger, along with neighbors Mali and Burkina Faso, is battling jihadi groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group in a decade-long conflict in the Sahel region that is worsening. The violence killed thousands of people last year and civilian killings routinely go unpunished. More than 2 million people have been displaced, according to the United Nations. The Associated Press on Friday reported on rare first-hand details of a mass killing at a village in Burkina Faso.”

CEP Mentions

News Ausage: ISIS Claims Responsibility For Moscow Attack, Sparking Concerns Over Global Terrorism”

“An expert on terrorism and senior director of the international Counter Extremism Project, Mr. Schindler, believes that the Islamic State (IS) is likely responsible for the attack on an event center near Moscow. The attack shares all the characteristics of an IS operation, as detailed in a statement released by the terrorist militia on social media channels. The U.S. government had passed intelligence to the Russian government warning of an ISKP attack in Moscow on March 7. Despite this warning, President Vladimir Putin dismissed it as an “attempt at blackmail” by the U.S. government. ISKP, a branch of IS established in Afghanistan in 2014, is known for operating worldwide and attempting attacks in Europe. They recruit and train terrorists abroad before sending them to carry out attacks in cells, making more complex operations possible. There are indications that Russia could be a target for ISKP as their propaganda output in Afghanistan has shown an increase in threats against Russia recently. However, it may be challenging to obtain credible information from Russian authorities due to their propaganda machine’s potential distortion of the narrative surrounding the attack near Moscow.”

News Caffoldings: ISKP: The Unseen Threat Behind The Moscow Attack: How To Combat A Global Terrorist Group With Local Roots

“The Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack near Moscow, according to Mr. Schindler, an expert on terrorism and senior director of the international Counter Extremism Project. The attack, which bears all the hallmarks of an IS operation, was specifically detailed in a statement released on social media channels by the terrorist militia. It is likely that IS-Khorasan Province (ISKP), the IS branch in Afghanistan, is behind the attack near Moscow. The U.S. government had passed intelligence to the Russian government warning of an ISKP attack in Moscow on March 7. Despite this warning, President Vladimir Putin dismissed the information as an “attempt at blackmail” by the U.S. government. ISKP was directly established by the “Islamic State” in Afghanistan in 2014 and consists of former Taliban, Pakistani, and fighters from other countries. Unlike other IS offshoots, ISKP is known for operating worldwide and attempting attacks in Europe. They recruit and train terrorists abroad before sending them to the destination country to carry out attacks in cells, enabling more complex operations.”

The New York Times: ISIS Affiliate Linked To Moscow Attack Has Global Ambitions

“...“I worry about the Paris Olympics,” said Edmund Fitton-Brown, a former top U.N. counterterrorism official who is now a senior adviser to the Counter Extremism Project. “They would be a premium terrorist target.””

Agenzianova: EU, New York Times: “European Countries Fear A Resurgence Of Islamic Attacks”

“... According to the report, there is evidence of “current and unrealized operational plans on European soil conducted byIsis-K“. According to an anonymous Western intelligence official quoted by the “New York Times”, there are three main factors that could inspire ISIS to attack: the existence of sleeper cells in Europe, images of the war in Gaza and “the support of Russian-speaking people living in Europe”. The European security apparatus would be particularly worried in view of the Summer Olympics in Paris. “I'm worried about the Paris Olympics“Edmund Fitton-Brown, a former senior UN counter-terrorism official and senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project, told the newspaper. “They would be a category one terrorist target.””

TapInto: Modern Anti-Semitism And The Terrorist Threat

“The all-too-timely topic will be explored by Josh Lipowsky, Senior Research Analyst of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), at a B'nai Shalom Culture and Learning Center (CLC) event.  “Unfortunately, what’s old is new again with anti-Semitism at its highest levels in the United States in decades. But now the bad guys don’t all wear recognizable brown shirts or white hoods anymore. Anti-Semites have changed their language and tactics in an attempt to legitimize their odious views,” said Lipowsky. He will share his in-depth CEP research into how anti-Semitism has manifested in recent years while exploring common themes that have repeated throughout history. CEP is a New York-based NGO that researches and combats the spread of violent extremism around the world. Lipowsky earned his MA in global affairs from New York University. Prior to joining CEP, he worked as an award-winning journalist covering US-Israel relations, the North American Jewish community, and the overall effects of Iranian nuclear sanctions. His writings have appeared in the Jerusalem Post, the Times of Israel, the Hill, Forbes, the NJ Jewish Standard, and NY Jewish Week. In his current role at CEP, Lipowsky focuses primarily on the growing threats of anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and Iran-sponsored terrorism.”

The New Indian Express: Afghan IS Branch Top Suspect In Russian Concert Hall Attack

“... Afghanistan's IS branch was built by the group's envoys arriving from Iraq and Syria -- unlike almost everywhere else in the world, where pre-existing outfits pledged to its cause, said Hans-Jakob Schindler, director of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) research outfit and a former UN terrorism expert. "They have very close connections to the centre, much more than the other affiliates," Schindler told AFP, adding that this gives them access to ample funding. Lucas Webber, co-founder of specialist website Militant Wire, highlighted that the "ISKP has emerged as the most internationally minded IS branch... producing propaganda in more languages than any other branch since the height of the caliphate in Iraq and Syria." It has been mounting an "ambitious and aggressive campaign to bolster its external operations capabilities and strike its various enemies abroad," he added. Both Western and Russian security services have long been monitoring ISKP.”

DW News: US Warned Moscow Ahead Of ISIS Attack: How Will Putin Explain It? | DW News

“Authorities in Russia say more than 60 people have been killed after shooters opened fire in a concert hall near Moscow. It's the worst attack Russia has faced in 20 years. The so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility. Others reportedly escaped into a nearby forest. DW speaks with Hans-Jakob Schindler, Senior Director of the Counter Extremism Project.”

DW News: Extremism Expert: Russian Narrative Clashing With Reality

Interview with Hans-Jakob Schindler.”

AFP News: Afghan IS Branch Top Suspect In Moscow Attack

“…Afghanistan's IS branch was built by the group's envoys arriving from Iraq and Syria -- unlike almost everywhere else in the world, where pre-existing outfits pledged to its cause, said Hans-Jakob Schindler, director of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) research outfit and a former UN terrorism expert. "They have very close connections to the centre, much more than the other affiliates," Schindler told AFP, adding that this gives them access to ample funding.”

Foreign Policy: Al Qaeda Is Back—And Thriving—In Afghanistan

“…The report’s findings “demonstrate that, as expected, the Taliban leadership continues to be willing to protect not only the leadership of al Qaeda but also fighters, including foreign terrorist fighters from a long list of al Qaeda affiliates,” said Hans-Jakob Schindler, the senior director of the Berlin- and New York-based Counter Extremism Project and an expert on terrorism. “It is clear that the Taliban have never changed their stance toward international terrorism and, in particular, al Qaeda.”

United States

Reuters: Exclusive: Islamic State Still A Threat In Iraq, US Ambassador Says

“The Islamic State still poses a threat in Iraq and the U.S.-led military coalition's work with Iraq to fully defeat the group is not done, United States Ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski told Reuters in an interview. Senior Iraqi politicians, including Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, have repeatedly said that the group no longer posed a threat in Iraq and the coalition was not needed, even as its affiliates continued to carry out attacks elsewhere. "We both assess ISIS (Islamic State) is still a threat here, much, much diminished, but nevertheless our work is essentially not done and we want to ensure that Iraqi forces can continue the enduring defeat of ISIS," Romanowski said at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. She was speaking after Islamic State's Afghan branch, ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for Friday's attack at a rock concert near Moscow, in which 137 people were killed. "As this event reminds us, ISIS is a common terrorist enemy that must be defeated everywhere," she said in an additional comment after the interview.”

Voice Of America: US Pledges Additional $22M To Fight Terrorism In Mozambique

“U.S. officials pledged $22 million in new funding Thursday to help Mozambique fight Islamist militants in the country’s troubled, oil-rich Cabo Delgado, where an insurgency has intensified in recent weeks. The United States already had pledged $100 million. At the end of a five-day visit to Maputo, Anne Witkowsky, U.S. assistant secretary of state for conflict and stabilization operations, said the funding aims to help Mozambique with stabilizing and peacebuilding efforts in its northern provinces. Calling security in north Mozambique critical, Witkowsky told VOA that the U.S.-financed programs provide training for local government officials to deliver services; promote social cohesion through peace clubs, sports and the arts; and increase educational and employment opportunities for youth. “Mozambique is a priority partner country under our strategy to prevent conflict and promote stability,” she said. “So, the U.S. supports a Mozambique that is more prosperous, more secure, more resilient and more democratic for all.””


The Wall Street Journal :‘A Ticking Time Bomb’: In Syrian Camps, Fears Of An Islamic State Revival

“A recent security sweep inside a sprawling fenced refugee camp holding 44,000 people turned up a raft of weapons, dozens of Islamic State militants and a Yazidi woman who had been held by the group for nearly 10 years. For many, the horrors of Islamic State ended when a U.S.-led military campaign collapsed the group’s self-styled caliphate in 2019. But five years later, tens of thousands of civilians are still being kept in camps including in Al-Hol, which are filled with the families of Islamic State militants and others inadvertently swept up in the chaos of northeast Syria. The camps are part of a bigger problem. Some 9,000 Islamic State fighters are being held separately in a network of detention centers in the same region. The camps and detention centers are guarded by the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led force that joined with the U.S. to fight Islamic State and is now supported by American troops. The immediate challenge for the U.S. and its international partners is to ease the humanitarian plight of the camps’ residents and combat Islamic State’s stubborn efforts to radicalize the population.”

Associated Press: UN Seeks $4B For Aid In Syria As Civilians Face Growing Humanitarian Crisis

“A U.N. humanitarian official appealed Friday for more than $4 billion in life-saving aid for more than 10 million Syrians, saying that the country’s largely forgotten crisis remains “one of the most deadly to civilians in the world.” Adam Abdelmoula, resident coordinator in Syria for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, made the appeal days after Syria marked the 13th anniversary of the conflict that has killed nearly a half million people and left large parts of the country destroyed. “Today, we are facing an unprecedented situation in Syria -- one that we cannot afford to ignore,” Abdelmoula told reporters in Geneva. “Inaction will be costly for all of us and will inevitably lead to additional suffering.” About 16.7 million people require some form of humanitarian assistance in Syria, an increase from 15.3 million last year, he said. Over 7 million people are internally displaced and nearly as many are refugees in other countries, including neighboring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Abdelmoula said the U.N. is seeking $4.07 billion to provide life-saving aid to 10.8 million Syrians.”

Voice Of America: Ignoring Syrian Crisis Risks Destabilizing Region, Experts Say

“More than 13 years after Syria erupted into civil war, the United Nations says the country has become a more dangerous place for civilians, noting that the oppressive government of President Bashir al-Assad that sparked the flames of conflict remains in power and continues to escalate hostilities on multiple fronts. “The Syria crisis remains one of the most deadly to civilians in the world. Hostilities continue to plague various parts of Syria and have recently seen a sharp spike, particularly in the north,” said Adam Abdelmoula, resident and humanitarian coordinator for Syria, at a news conference in Geneva Friday. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, says 454 civilians, including 88 women and 115 children, were killed in the first 10 months of 2023 because of the conflict. Those casualties are the latest manifestation of the toll taken by the war on Syria’s population. The U.N. estimates that since the start of the war on March 15, 2011, 300,000 people have been killed, more than 12 million have been displaced — 6.8 million inside Syria and 5.4 million as refugees in five neighboring countries.”


Bloomberg: Iraq And Oil Firms Blame Each Other For Key Oil Pipeline Delays

“Iraq’s government and oil companies working in the country’s north blamed each other for delays in resuming a key pipeline to Turkey, divisions that could keep the link shut for even longer. Oil firms’ refusal to deliver Kurdish crude to the federal government for exports is one of the main reasons holding up the pipeline’s resumption, Iraq’s oil ministry said in a statement Monday. The companies “haven’t seen any proposal” from either Baghdad or the Kurdistan administration that would lead to oil shipments restarting, an association representing the firms said in a March 23 statement. The pipeline that can carry almost half a million barrels of oil every day to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast has been shut for a year, taking supply out of global markets at a time crude prices in London have pushed above $85 a barrel. It’s also resulted in more than $11 billion of lost revenue for Iraq, according to the association known as Apikur. The companies, and the Kurdish authorities, have failed to submit contracts that were previously signed without Baghdad’s approval, to the federal oil ministry for revisions, the ministry said Monday. This has held up plans for new agreements in accordance with the Iraqi constitution, it said.”


Voice Of America: Taliban Chief Defends Islamic Criminal Justice System, Including Stoning Women For Adultery

“The leader of Afghanistan's fundamentalist Taliban government has said it is determined to enforce the Islamic criminal justice system, including the public stoning of women for adultery. "Our mission is to enforce sharia and Allah's Hudud [law]," said Hibatullah Akhundzada in an audio clip Taliban officials said was from his latest speech. They did not say where the reclusive leader spoke, but Akhundzada lives in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar and rarely leaves what is known as the Taliban's historical birthplace and political headquarters. He primarily addressed Western critics of the Taliban government, which Akhundzada is effectively controlling from Kandahar, through edicts based on his strict interpretation of Islam. "You may call it a violation of women's rights when we publicly stone or flog them for committing adultery because they conflict with your democratic principles,” said the Taliban chief. "Just as you claim to be striving for the freedom of entire humanity, so do I. I represent Allah, and you represent Satan," Akhundzada said.”


Associated Press: US Fighter Jets Strike Storage Facilities In Houthi-Controlled Areas Of Yemen

“U.S. fighter jets from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier struck three underground storage facilities in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen late Friday, according to a U.S. official. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a military operation not yet made public, said the ship is in the Red Sea. Strikes and explosions were seen and heard in Sanaa on Friday night, according to witnesses and videos, some circulating on social media. Footage showed explosions and smoke rising over the Houthi-controlled capital. There was no official confirmation of the injured or the origin of the explosions. Yemeni TV station Al-Masirah, which is linked to the Houthis, reported strikes hitting the city. In a statement late Friday, U.S. Central Command said its forces also destroyed four unmanned aerial vehicles in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. Central Command also said Houthis fired four anti-ship ballistic missiles toward the Red Sea, but no injuries or damage were reported by U.S., coalition or commercial ships.”

Bloomberg: Houthis Fired Missile At Chinese-Owned Ship In Red Sea, US Says

“Yemen-based Houthis fired a missile at a Chinese-owned oil tanker called M/V Huang Pu on Saturday, the US Central Command said. The Iranian-backed Houthis first fired four missiles in the vicinity of the oil tanker, US Central Command said in a post on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter. They then fired a fifth missile toward the ship, which issued a distress call but didn’t request assistance, Centcom said. The vessel suffered minimal damage and a fire on board was extinguished within 30 minutes. No casualties were reported. US later engaged six Houthi unmanned drones over the southern Red Sea. Five crashed into the Red Sea, and one flew inland into Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen. The attack on the Huang Pu comes even after the Houthis previously said they wouldn’t attack vessels from China.”

Associated Press: An Al-Qaida Attack In Yemen Kills 2 Troops Loyal To A Secessionist Group, Officials Say

“An attack by al-Qaida in southern Yemen killed at least two troops loyal to a secessionist group, officials said Monday, in the first attack since the extremist group’s branch in the Arab country announced the death of its leader earlier this month. The attack, which took place late Sunday in the mountainous Wadi Omran area of Abyan province, also wounded four troops from the Southern Armed Forces, which is loyal to the secessionist Southern Transitional Council, according to a statement from the southern forces. The separatist council is backed by the United Arab Emirates and controls much of Yemen’s south. It is at odds with the internationally recognized government, although they are allies in the war against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. The statement said the militants ambushed a security patrol in the area, triggering hourslong gunbattles. The militants burned a military vehicle, according to Lt. Col. Khalid Alwai. The ambush came as the southern forces have intensified their attacks in recent weeks on an al-Qaida stronghold in Wadi Omran, the statement said.”


Associated Press: Israeli Airstrike In Northeastern Lebanon Wounds 3, Local Official Says

“An Israeli airstrike deep in northeastern Lebanon early Sunday wounded at least three people, a local official said. The airstrike near the city of Baalbek, a stronghold of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group, was the latest to hit the area in recent weeks. The strike occurred a few minutes after midnight and wounded three people according to Baalbek’s mayor, Bachir Khodr, who posted the news on X. It was not immediately clear what was struck. The strike came hours after Hezbollah said it used two drones carrying explosives to attack an Israeli Iron Dome missile defense system in the northern Israeli town of Kfar Blum. The Israeli military said warplanes attacked a workshop used by Hezbollah for military activities. It added that after the strike some 50 rockets were fired from Lebanon toward Israel, saying some were shot down and others fell in open areas. A pair of Israeli airstrikes March 12 near Baalbek killed at least two people and wounded 20, marking a continuing escalation between Israel and Hezbollah over the war Israel is fighting with Hamas militants in Gaza.”

Reuters: Israel Conducts Air Raid On Baalbek, Hezbollah Stronghold In Lebanon, Sources Say

"Israel conducted an air raid on Baalbek, Hezbollah's stronghold in eastern Lebanon on Saturday, two security sources in Lebanon told Reuters. Hezbollah said in statement on Sunday that in response to the "bombing of a place in the city of Baalbek" it targeted an Israeli missile and artillery base in Yoav and the Kaila barracks with more than 60 Katyusha rockets.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Hamas, Al Jazeera Admit: Story Of IDF Rapes In Gaza Hospital Fabricated

“After more than 24 hours of letting the story run freely, Qatari mouthpiece Al Jazeera deleted the page featuring their former story, which accused Israeli soldiers of allegedly perpetrating rape against women during the IDF’s latest excursion against Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists who barricaded themselves inside the former hospital-cum-terror headquarters at Shifa Hospital. Though the Qatari mouthpiece hasn’t yet officially referred to the retraction, all content related to the allegation has been reportedly deleted. Al Jazeera columnist and former director Yasser Abuhilalah also tweeted, admitting that, “It was revealed through Hamas investigations that the story of the rape of women in Al-Shifa Hospital was fabricated… The woman who spoke about rape justified her exaggeration and incorrect talk by saying that the goal was to arouse the nation’s fervor and brotherhood,” adding critically that “As if more than thirty thousand martyrs, ninety thousand wounded, about a million displaced people, and comprehensive destruction were not enough!”

Reuters: Israel Besieges Two More Gaza Hospitals, Demands Evacuations, Palestinians Say

“Israeli forces besieged two more Gaza hospitals on Sunday, pinning down medical teams under heavy gunfire, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, and Israel said it had captured 480 militants in continued clashes at Gaza's main Al Shifa hospital. Israel says hospitals in the Palestinian enclave, where war has been raging for over five months, are used by Hamas militants as bases. It has released videos and pictures supporting the claim. Hamas and medical staff deny the accusations. The Palestinian Red Crescent said one of its staff was killed when Israeli tanks suddenly pushed back into areas around Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals in the southern city of Khan Younis, amid heavy bombardment and gunfire. Israeli forces began operating around Al-Amal, the military said, following "precise intelligence ... which indicated that terrorists are using civilian infrastructure for terror activities in the area of Al-Amal."

Israeli armoured forces sealed off Al-Amal Hospital and carried out extensive bulldozing operations in its vicinity, the Red Crescent said in a statement.”

Associated Press: UN Chief Says It’s Time To ‘Truly Flood’ Gaza With Aid And Calls Starvation There An Outrage

“U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres stood near a long line of waiting trucks Saturday and declared it was time to “truly flood Gaza with lifesaving aid,” calling the starvation inside the enclave a “moral outrage.” He urged an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Guterres spoke on the Egyptian side of the border not far from the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israel plans to launch a ground assault despite widespread warnings of a potential catastrophe. More than half of Gaza’s population has taken refuge there. “Any further onslaught will make things even worse — worse for Palestinian civilians, worse for hostages and worse for all people in the region,” Guterres said. He spoke a day after the U.N. Security Council failed to reach consensus on the wording of a U.S.-sponsored resolution supporting “an immediate and sustained cease-fire.” Guterres repeatedly noted the difficulties of getting aid into Gaza, for which international aid agencies have largely blamed Israel.”

ABC: Al-Shifa Hospital Raid One Of The 'Single Largest' Operations In The War: Israeli Military Sources

“Israeli military sources are now beginning to call the Israel Defense Forces' weeklong raid on Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, one of the "single largest and most successful" operations in the nearly six-month war with Hamas. The IDF launched an operation at Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza on Monday, claiming "senior Hamas terrorists" were using the hospital, located in Gaza City, to "conduct and promote terrorist activity." The Israeli military said it has detained more than 800 men and that about 480 of them are Hamas or Islamic Jihad members. Special intelligence units have begun to interrogate some of them, and those who were found not to be affiliated with militant groups were released, according to the IDF. Israeli officials have said more than 140 Hamas terrorists have been killed throughout the course of the operation. IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Thursday the operation at Al-Shifa would go on "for some days."”


Associated Press: Over 130 Abducted Schoolchildren In Nigeria’s Northwest Are Rescued After Weeks In Captivity

“More than 130 children abducted more than two weeks ago from their school in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Kaduna were rescued Sunday and are getting psychological support before being returned to their families, the West African nation’s military and government officials said. School authorities had told the state government that a total of 287 students were kidnapped when motorcycle-riding gunmen invaded the remote Kuriga school March 7. However, Kaduna Gov. Uba Sani told local media late Sunday that only 137 young people had been abducted during the attack. “All of them have come back home safely,” the governor said in a broadcast by the Lagos-based Channels Television. The Associated Press could not reach villagers or school authorities in Kuriga town, which does not have cellphone service. Such varying reports are common in Nigeria’s kidnapping crisis, sometimes because of inadequate recordkeeping or because some hostages escape moments after their abduction. “As the leader, I shouldn’t bother myself about figures. What is more important is the return of the children,” the governor said.”


Reuters: Al Shabaab Launches Deadly Attack On Military Base In Somalia

“At least 17 people were killed in Somalia on Saturday after Islamist group al Shabaab attacked a military base. The Busley base, in the Lower Shabelle region in the country's southwest, was briefly occupied by the attackers, security officials and the group said. Armed fighters from al Shabaab battled their way to the facility using suicide car bombs, a Somalia military officer told Reuters. He declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media. "Several suicide car bombs attacked the base after fierce fighting...al Shabaab briefly captured the base," the officer said. "Then, government reinforcement fiercely battled and drove out al Shabaab." Seven Somalia soldiers, including the commander of the base, and 10 al Shabaab fighters were killed in the fighting, he said. Some residents in the area told Reuters al Shabaab also burned military vehicles and took others during the assault. Al Shabaab issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack. It said it had killed 57 government soldiers. The group frequently gives casualty figures that are higher than those of the government.”

Voice Of America: 16 Suspects Arrested In Somalia Hotel Attack

“Somalia’s security agents have arrested 16 people in connection with the March 14 attack on an upscale hotel near the presidential palace in Mogadishu, the government has announced. The Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) said the suspects included a man accused of being the “mastermind” of the attack. In a statement issued by the Ministry of Information, the government also accused the key suspect of facilitating the smuggling of the vehicles that al-Shabab militants used for the attack. Also arrested were four people who are registered as owners of two vehicles the militant group used for the attack. The government said it is also investigating five members of the government’s own security personnel who were stationed at the checkpoints the attackers passed through. Five al-Shabab militants stormed the hotel around 9:15 p.m. local time on March 14 after detonating a vehicle-borne explosive device outside the building. The attackers were overwhelmed early the following morning after an hours-long battle.”


The New York Times: Russia’s Battle With Extremists Has Simmered For Years

“In the past few months, deep in the forbidding deserts of central Syria, Russian forces have quietly joined the Syrian military in intensifying attacks against Islamic State strongholds, including bombing what local news reports called the dens and caves where the extremist fighters hide. While the world was focused on the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, this type of skirmishing has been simmering for years in Syria, and the Islamic State has long threatened to strike Russia directly for shoring up the regime of its sworn enemy, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. That moment appeared to have come on Friday night with the bloody assault on a Moscow concert hall that left more than 130 people dead. “The fiercest in years,” said a statement of responsibility issued on Saturday by the Islamic State via its news agency, referring to the long history of brutal terrorist attacks pitting jihadist forces against Moscow. “They have framed this attack as coming in the context of the normal, ongoing war between ISIS and the anti-Islamic countries,” said Hanna Notte, a Berlin-based expert on Russian foreign and security policy at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “This seems to be within the overarching theme of Russia in Afghanistan, Russia in Chechnya, Russia in Syria.””

ABC: Moscow Terror Attack: 4 Gunmen Arrested, Death Toll Rises To 137

“The death toll in the terror attack at Moscow's Crocus City Hall has risen to 137 people, including three children, Russia's Investigative Committee said Sunday, as the search operation continues for bodies under the rubble. Russian President Vladimir Putin was informed Saturday that four suspected gunmen responsible for the attack were arrested near Russia's western border with Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported. Seven others have been detained and the search for other accomplices is ongoing, the state news outlets reported. ISIS claimed responsibility for the deadly attack Friday night, in which gunmen opened fire on concertgoers at one of Moscow's largest entertainment complexes. The attackers then set the complex on fire. Earlier, Russian media posted unverified photos of a car they said belonged to some of the attackers near Russia's western border, and a Russian MP said at least two suspects were detained after a car chase and a shootout, though neither of these has been verified or confirmed by Russian authorities.”

Reuters: Russia Casts Doubt On Islamic State Responsibility For Concert Attack

“Russia on Monday challenged assertions by the United States that the Islamic State militant group orchestrated a gun attack on a concert hall outside Moscow that killed 137 people and injured 182 more, accusing Washington of covering for Ukraine. In the deadliest attack inside Russia for two decades, four men burst into the Crocus City Hall on Friday night, spraying people with bullets during a concert by the Soviet-era rock group Picnic. Four men, at least one a Tajik, were remanded in custody on terrorism charges. They appeared separately, led into a cage at Moscow's Basmanny district court by Federal Security Service officers. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, a claim that the United States has publicly said it believes, and the militant group has since released what it says is footage from the attack. U.S. officials said they had warned Russia of intelligence about an imminent attack earlier this month. President Vladimir Putin has not publicly mentioned the Islamist militant group in connection with the attackers, who he said had been trying to escape to Ukraine.”

Southeast Asia

The Guardian: Islamic State ‘Recruiting From Tajikistan And Other Central Asian Countries’

“Islamic State launched a major recruitment drive last year aimed at militants from Tajikistan and other central Asian countries and specifically targeting experienced members of existing groups with a long history of terrorist attacks, western and other intelligence services have said. Three of the four men detained by Russian security forces for the attack at a Moscow concert hall on Friday night are thought to be Tajik nationals or of Tajik origin. Video clips of the interrogation of four alleged attackers detained by Russian security forces showed at least one speaking Tajik.IS has claimed responsibility for the attack in Moscow, which killed 137, posting two statements describing its operation as “a powerful blow against Russia” and repeatedly boasting of killing Christians. The group also posted graphic footage apparently taken by attackers as they opened fire on concertgoers. Nevertheless, Moscow has sought to blame Ukraine for the attack – a claim Kyiv strongly denies.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

We reiterate once again that the brigades will directly target US bases across the region in case the US enemy commits a folly and decides to strike our resistance fighters and their camps [in Iraq].

Abu Ali al-Askari, Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) Security Official Mar. 2023
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