Eye on Extremism: March 26, 2024

Associated Press: Radical British Preacher Anjem Choudary Pleads Not Guilty To Terrorism Charges

“Radical British preacher Anjem Choudary pleaded not guilty Monday in a London courtroom to two terrorism-related charges. Choudary, 57, pleaded not guilty to membership in a banned organization, the radical Muslim group al-Muhajiroun, and addressing meetings to encourage support for the group. The British government outlawed Al-Muhajiroun in 2010 as a group involved in committing, preparing for or promoting terrorism. The group has since operated under many names, including the Islamic Thinkers Society, which Choudary has spoken to, prosecutors said. Choudary, a high-profile Islamist preacher, faces trial June 4 in Kingston Crown Court along with Khaled Hussein. The trial is expected to last up to two months. Hussein, 29, of Edmonton, Alberta in Canada, pleaded not guilty to membership in al-Muhajiroun. Both appeared in Central Criminal Court, known as the Old Bailey, by video link from separate jails. They were arrested June 17 after Hussein landed at Heathrow Airport.”

Bloomberg: Russian, Chinese Ships Face Risks Despite Houthi Pact

“China and Russia have just concluded a historic arrangement with Houthis to keep their ships travelling through the Red Sea safe, but a recent showdown between the Yemeni militants and an oil tanker shows risks persist. The two countries, major consumers and producers of oil, got an assurance of safe passage through the region following talks between their diplomats and Mohammed Abdel Salam, one of the Yemen-based group’s top political figures, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. In exchange, the countries may provide political support to the Houthis in bodies such as the United Nations Security Council, according to the people. It could include blocking more resolutions against the group. The past weekend, however, has shown that even Russia or China-linked vessels aren’t completely safe. On Saturday, the Houthis fired four missiles in the vicinity of a Chinese-owned oil tanker called Huang Pu and then a fifth toward the ship, US Central Command said. It caused some damage and a fire on board was extinguished within half an hour.”

CEP Mentions

India Blooms: Upcoming Paris Olympics Could Become 'Premium Terrorist Target', Says NGO

“The Paris Summer Olympics could become a "premium terrorist target" after Friday's terrorist attack at a concert venue in the Moscow Region, a senior adviser to the Counter Extremism Project international non-government organization, Edmund Fitton-Brown, said on Monday. "I worry about the Paris Olympics ... They would be a premium terrorist target," the adviser told The New York Times newspaper. The concerns come as counterterrorism officials said the recent terrorist attack in Russia was more sophisticated than others over a period of time: there was a greater level of planning and an ability to infiltrate into local extremist networks, the newspaper reported. Among the main forces that could motivate such attacks during the upcoming Olympics, a senior Western intelligence official cited the existence of dormant terrorist cells in Europe and images of the war in the Gaza Strip circulating on the internet.”

Digital Journal: Moscow Attack Puts Spotlight On Is Threat To Western Europe

“... The Mideast war is “ramping up Islamist propaganda from Al-Qaeda, from IS, from Hamas, from Hezbollah”, said Hans-Jakob Schindler, head of the Counter Extremism Project, a non-profit organisation. “All talk to their sympathizers and say: you got to do something,” he told AFP. The threat potential is not limited to ISKP militants in central Asia — an estimated 1,500-6,000 people, according to a recent expert report to the UN — with experts pointing to the relative ease for would-be lone attackers to obtain knives or assault rifles to attack people in a crowd indiscriminately. Governments know better than to promise citizens absolute safety from attack: Despite questions about possible lapses in Russia’s security apparatus, the Moscow attack “underscores the advantage of shock and surprise that terrorists possess against their state opponents”, said Bruce Hoffman, jihadism expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent think tank. The attack in Moscow followed warnings to Russia by the United States of a possible attack. “Terrorists can conceivably attack anywhere, at any time of their choosing, using whatever tactics and weapons they possess,” he said.”


Daily Mail: The Ruthless 29-Year-Old Terror Boss With A $10million Bounty On His Head Who Transformed Extremist Group Into World's Most Feared ISIS Off-Shoot Behind Attacks In Afghanistan, Iran And Russia - And Attempting To Hit Europe

Sanaullah Ghafari, the 29 year old leader of the Afghan branch of Islamic State, has overseen its transformation into one of the most fearsome branches of the global Islamist network, capable of operations far from its bases in the borderlands of Afghanistan. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Friday's mass shooting at a concert hall near Moscow that killed at least 139 people. U.S. officials have said they have intelligence indicating it was the Afghan branch, Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), that was responsible. Washington has said it had warned Russia this month of an imminent attack. A source familiar with this intelligence said it was based on interceptions of 'chatter' among ISIS-K militants.”

Voice Of America: Islamic State-Khorasan Criticizes Taliban In Statement Praising Russia Attackers

“The Islamic State-Khorasan terrorist group released a statement in Pashto on Monday glorifying Friday’s attack on a concert in Moscow and scolding the ruling Afghan Taliban for seeking relations with the United States, Russia, China and other countries. The 30-page statement was published on social media platforms and sent to journalists on Monday, but it did not take responsibility for the Moscow attack. Instead, it focused on criticizing and mocking the Taliban in Afghanistan, which has long been an enemy of the IS-K group. Islamic State-Khorasan, sometimes also called IS-Khorasan, or ISKP, is the regional affiliate of the larger Islamic State militant group, which took credit for Friday’s attack that killed 137 people. Monday’s statement was titled, “After Moscow’s Attack: The Sorrow and Fear of Militias.” The “militias” is apparently referring to the Afghan Taliban. The text of the statement is a fierce polemic against the Afghan Taliban. It also labels the Taliban as allies of the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan and Tajikistan. The Taliban condemned the attack in the hours after it happened on Friday, calling it a terrorist attack and a violation of human standards.”


Reuters: Six Killed In Militant Attack On Pakistan Naval Base, Say Officials

“Militants attacked a Pakistan naval airbase killing at least one paramilitary soldier while security forces killed all five of the assailants in retaliatory fire, officials said on Tuesday. Monday's attack on the Turbat base in southwestern Pakistan was the second assault by ethnic Baloch militants on a military facility in the past week. "We escaped a huge loss," said a statement from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's office. A Pakistan Navy spokesman said all five attackers were killed after they tried to break into the base. One paramilitary soldier was also killed, said a military statement. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the most prominent of several separatist groups in Balochistan, claimed responsibility for the assault in a statement. The BLA has previously been involved in attacks on Pakistani and Chinese interests in the region and elsewhere. China has invested heavily in the mineral-rich southwestern province of Balochistan, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, including developing the port of Gwadar, despite a decades-long separatist insurgency.”

Reuters: Five Chinese Nationals Killed In Suicide Bomb Attack In Pakistan

“Five Chinese nationals were killed in an explosion when their convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, a top police officer said. A suicide bomber rammed an explosives laden vehicle into a convoy of Chinese engineers which was on its way from Islamabad to their camp in Dasu in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Mohammad Ali Gandapur, the regional police chief, told Reuters. "Five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver were killed in the attack," Gandapur said. Dasu is the site of a major dam and the area has been attacked in the past. A blast on a bus had killed 13 people, including nine Chinese nationals, in 2021. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police had reached the spot and started relief operations. The rest of the people in the convoy have been protected, Gandapur said.”

Bloomberg: Pakistan To Seek US Sanction Waivers For Gas Pipeline From Iran

“Pakistan plans to ask the US to relax possible sanctions around a natural gas pipeline project from neighboring Iran. The government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is planning to give the US administration “political and technical” reasons to secure waivers, Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik told reporters. The pipeline project “cannot bear the burden of sanctions,” he said. Pakistan has for decades sought to access natural gas from Iran, which has struggled to build up an export industry despite holding the world’s largest reserves of the fuel because of United Nations sanctions on Tehran and restrictions on dollar-denominated transactions. The two nations signed a 25-year supply deal in 2010 but the pipeline has been held up, leading Iran to threaten legal action. The south Asian nation will soon start building an 80-kilometer (50-mile) link from the Iranian border to the port of Gwadar, which was approved by the caretaker government last month, Malik said. A draft of the request is ready to submit to the US, The News newspaper reported citing the minister.”


Bloomberg: Houthis Warn Saudi Arabia Of Retaliation If It Backs US Attacks

“The Yemen-based Houthi militants renewed their threats against Saudi Arabia, warning it not to support US strikes against the group. “We have sent a message to Saudi Arabia that it will be a target if it allows American fighter jets to use its territory or airspace in their aggression on Yemen,” Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, a member of the Houthis’ Supreme Political Council, said in an interview with Al-Masirah TV. US and UK forces have been striking Houthi military facilities since the start of this year to stem the group’s assault on ships in the Red Sea, a vital waterway for global commerce. Saudi Arabia, which borders Yemen, hasn’t joined those air assaults or a US-led naval operation meant to provide commercial ships safe passage through the southern Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. The kingdom is trying to reach a peace agreement with the Houthis to end Yemen’s civil war, a conflict that’s raged for most of the past decade but with the sides in a fragile truce since 2022. The Saudi government led a US-backed military campaign against the Houthis starting in 2015. But it now sees peace in Yemen as key to keeping the wider Gulf region stable and advancing its massive economic transformation plans.”

Middle East

Reuters: Hamas Welcomes UN Security Council Resolution Calling For Gaza Ceasefire

“Hamas said on Monday it welcomed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and that it stood ready to engage in an immediate swap of prisoners with Israel. The resolution passed on Monday demands an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas as well as the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, after the United States abstained from the vote. Israel began its military offensive in Gaza after militants from Hamas-ruled Gaza killed 1,200 people and took 253 hostages on Oct. 7, according to Israeli tallies. In an update on Monday, Gaza's Health Ministry said at least 32,333 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's retaliatory military campaign in Gaza, with thousands more feared buried under rubble. With the war now in its sixth month, the United Nations has warned that at least 576,000 people in Gaza are on the brink of famine and global pressure has been growing on Israel to allow more access for aid deliveries.”

Reuters: Hamas Leader Haniyeh To Travel To Tehran For Meetings With Iranian Officials, Press Tv Reports

“Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh will travel to Tehran on Tuesday to meet Iranian officials, a day after the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian group, Iran's official Press TV reported. Iran has backed Hamas in the nearly six-month war with Israel that has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians in Gaza. It will be Haniyeh's second visit to Iran since the outbreak of the war on Oct. 7. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani called Monday's resolution a "positive step". "A more important step is effective action for its implementation," said Kanaani. Hamas welcomed the U.N. resolution but said the ceasefire needs to be permanent. The United States abstained from the U.N. vote, sparking a spat with its ally Israel.”

Associated Press: UN Demand For Gaza Cease-Fire Provokes Strongest Clash Between US And Israel Since War Began

“The United Nations Security Council on Monday issued its first demand for a cease-fire in Gaza, with the U.S. angering Israel by abstaining from the vote. Israel responded by canceling a visit to Washington by a high-level delegation in the strongest public clash between the allies since the war began. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the U.S. of “retreating” from a “principled position” by allowing the vote to pass without conditioning the cease-fire on the release of hostages held by Hamas. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said the administration was “kind of perplexed” by Netanyahu’s decision. He said the Israelis were “choosing to create a perception of daylight here when they don’t need to do that.” Kirby and the American ambassador to the U.N. said the U.S. abstained because the resolution did not condemn Hamas. U.S. officials chose to abstain rather than veto the proposal “because it does fairly reflect our view that a cease-fire and the release of hostages come together,” Kirby said.”

The Times Of Israel: Egypt And Qatar, Who Serve As Mediators In Truce Talks, Welcome UNSC Resolution On Gaza Ceasefire

“Cairo says the United Nations Security Council resolution that passed earlier today demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the immediate release of the hostages taken on October 7 “represents the first important and necessary step to stop the bloodshed,” the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs writes in a statement to the UN. The United States withheld its veto and abstained from the vote, allowing the resolution to pass with 14 votes in favor. It was the first time that the Security Council passed a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza since the start of the war in October. Qatar, which has been hosting indirect talks on a temporary truce and hostage release deal, says it hopes the resolution “represents a step towards a permanent cessation of fighting in the Strip.”


The Wall Street Journal: Putin Says ‘Radical Islamists’ Attacked Concert Hall, Suggests Link To Ukraine

“Russian president Vladimir Putin said Monday that the deadly attack on a Moscow concert venue was carried out by radical Islamist actors, but he continued his earlier attempts to pin it on Ukraine. He cast doubt on whether a branch of the Islamic State had orchestrated it, saying there were many “unanswered questions,” including whether the United States was covering up Kyiv’s role in the assault. Ukraine strongly denied any involvement in the Friday assault. “We know that the crime was committed by radical Islamists,” Putin said in a televised government meeting on Monday evening. “We also know that the U.S. via various channels tries to persuade their satellites and other countries that, according to their intel, there is allegedly no Kyiv trace in the Moscow terrorist attack and that it was carried out by members of ISIS.” He added: “We know whose hands had committed this atrocity against Russia and its people. We are interested in those who ordered it. We need to get answers to many questions, like are radical and terrorist-linked Islamist organizations really interested in striking Russia, which stands for a fair solution to the exacerbated conflict in the Middle East?””

Voice Of America: Russian Activists Warn Putin Will Use Terrorist Attack To Tighten His Grip On Power

“Russian activists are warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin will use the deadly terrorist attack on a concert hall outside Moscow to tighten his grip on power and further repress society. “It truly scares me how this regime uses terrorism,” said Evgenia Kara-Murza, a human rights activist and wife of political prisoner Vladimir Kara-Murza. Addressing reporters at a press conference in Geneva, she warned that Putin would likely use Friday’s horrific event “to start new aggressions against our neighbors.” “And, of course, the fact that the terrorists were caught near the Ukrainian border raises many questions as to whether it is a provocation or whether the terrorist attack is being used as such,” she said. Though the militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 137 people and injured some 182 others, the Kremlin has been trying, without any evidence, to link the attack to Ukraine. Kara-Murza said she doubts that Putin will even investigate the attack, noting that there were no investigations into previous attacks that occurred after the Chechen war in 1999 and the Beslan school massacre in 2004.”

Bloomberg: What Is ISIS-K, the Group Blamed For Deadly Russia Attack?

“The hardline Islamic State group has claimed the worst attack on Russia in more than two decades after gunmen targeted a concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow on March 22 and killed more than 130 people. The US government says the claim is credible and that ISIS “bears sole responsibility,” after Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed the finger at Ukraine, which has denied any involvement. More specifically, US officials have pointed to one branch known as Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K. Here’s what we know about the group. ISIS-K is a regional offshoot of the broader Islamic State organization, classified as a terrorist group by much of the world. Its name derives from the ancient term for the part of the world where it operates: chiefly Afghanistan, but also encompassing areas of modern day Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Iran, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “It’s all part of an area that they call by this name, and have supporters in, and are launching attacks from,” says Greg Barton, a professor of global Islamic politics at Deakin University in Melbourne.”

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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