Eye on Extremism: March 28, 2024

Associated Press: US Sanctions Online Media Site Gaza Now And Its Founder For Allegedly Supporting Hamas

“The U.S. on Wednesday imposed sanctions on online media site Gaza Now and its founder Mustafa Ayash for allegedly supporting Hamas. U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control says that after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas against Israel — the online entity began a fundraising effort in support of the militant organization. Gaza Now’s Arabic channel has more than 300,000 followers on social media channel X, formerly known as Twitter, and a large following on the encrypted chat platform Telegram. Included in the sanctions are firms Al-Qureshi Executives and Aakhirah Ltd., and their director Aozma Sultana, who are alleged to have partnered on multiple fundraising efforts alongside Gaza Now. The sanctions were imposed in collaboration with the U.K.’s Office of Foreign Sanctions Implementation. Treasury Under Secretary Brian Nelson said in a statement that the U.S. and its partners “will continue to leverage our tools to disrupt Hamas’ ability to facilitate further attacks.””

Garowe Online: Al-Shabaab Strikes Key Town In Central Somalia

“Heavy fighting was reportedly in Somalia on Wednesday, multiple sources confirmed, following an Al-Shabaab raid in Harardhere town, a strategic region in the fight against the militants who are fighting to control the country. According to sources, heavy fighting erupted in the town after the militants targeted military officers, resulting in casualties on the Al-Shabaab side. Local government officers faced the militants in the early morning battle. The fighting reportedly started after soldiers on patrol clashed with al-Shabaab fighters in Bacaadka area near Harardheere. The town was recaptured from al-Shabaab early last year, records in our possession indicate. Since the start of Ramadan, the militants have heightened attacks across the country, leading to deaths of several officers and innocent civilians. The government has activated security forces to help restore peace and stability across Somalia. On Tuesday, Al-shabaab launched a vicious attack on government soldiers in Daaru-Nicma village in Middle Shabelle region. Tuesday's attack was at least the third time al-Shabaab fighters attacked the village since last year.”

CEP Mentions

WTOP News: The Hunt: Investigating the Crocus City Hall attack

"Russia is continuing to blame the U.S. and Ukraine for the terror attack on the Crocus City Hall concert venue last Friday that killed 137 people. On this episode of “The Hunt with WTOP national security correspondent JJ Green,” Dr. Hans Jakob Schindler, senior director of the Counter Extremism Project, says because of Moscow’s “blame game,” we may never know the truth.”

United States

Associated Press: Talks Resume On Bringing Israeli Officials To The US To Discuss Gaza Operation, The White House Says

“Talks have restarted aimed at bringing top Israeli officials to Washington to discuss potential military operations in Gaza, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a planned visit this week because he was angry about the U.S. vote on a U.N. cease-fire resolution, the White House said Wednesday. “So we’re now working with them to find a convenient date that’s obviously going to work for both sides,” said press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. No date has been finalized yet. One U.S. official said strategic affairs minister Ron Dermer and national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi would be among the delegation to come to Washington. The official were not authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive discussions and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. An Israeli official said the White House had reached out with the goal of setting a new meeting. The official was not authorized to talk to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity. Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister “did not authorize the departure of the delegation to Washington.””


Reuters: Iraq Signs 5-Year Gas Supply Deal With Iran, Says State Media

“Iraq signed a 5-year gas supply deal with Iran, with pumping rates of up to 50 million cubic meters per day according to the needs of Iraqi power stations, state media reported on Wednesday.”


Voice Of America: Can Afghan Taliban Fight Pakistani Military?

“Two and a half years into their reign, the Afghan Taliban have cemented their ultra-conservative rule across the war-torn country but have yet to turn their fighting force into a traditional military. VOA spoke to analysts who say the former insurgent force does not need to pattern itself after a standard military to effectively counter a mounting security threat from an Islamic State affiliate and tackle growing tensions with neighboring Pakistan. According to an annual analysis of global militaries by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Afghan Taliban have 150,000 active fighters. Military chief Qari Fasihuddin Fitrat told Reuters last year that the regime plans to increase the force by another 50,000, but he did not specify the time frame for doing so. Since coming to power, the Taliban’s de facto government has not publicly released a defense budget. To formalize their defense forces, they have created three battalions under Special Forces and eight infantry corps.”

The Independent: The Women’s Rights Activist Abducted, Jailed And Tortured By The Taliban

“A year ago on Wednesday, prominent Afghan educator Matiullah Wesa was abducted from a mosque by the Taliban, tortured and taken to a facility run by the Islamist group’s intelligence and security agency. He would spend the next seven months incarcerated. Wesa’s only offence was becoming too popular online, with viral social media posts celebrating his door-to-door campaign promoting education for girls in the crisis-hit country. The Taliban has enforced a brutal misogynist regime in Afghanistan, banishing women and girls from schools, offices and public spaces, since taking control of the country by force in August 2021. The Taliban finally let Wesa go in October last year, but only after a sustained campaign on his behalf by the UN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and several other international institutions, as well as celebrities including Angelina Jolie. Wesa, one of the last pro-education activists in the country, has now recovered from the physical wounds suffered in his time in Taliban detention but his fear of the country’s hardline Islamist rulers remains.”

The Economist: The Islamic State’s Branch In Afghanistan Is At War With The World

“No government formally recognises the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, partly because its restrictions on female education are the world’s most oppressive. Yet even the Taliban are not radical enough for the Islamic State Khorasan Province (iskp), an offshoot in Afghanistan of the group that established a “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014. iskp propagandists rubbish the Taliban as sell-outs to the West because, among other sins, they meet non-Islamic diplomats and allow unbelievers to supply aid. During its nine-year existence, iskp has mainly killed Afghans. The group’s global ambitions burst into view on March 22nd, when at least four gunmen killed 139 people at a concert in Moscow. American officials blamed iskp for the attack; Russia later arrested suspects from Tajikistan. If the charges are proved they will underscore the group’s expanding record of strikes beyond Afghanistan. It cultivates a long list of enemies, including America and China. In January its recruits hit a church in Turkey and carried out the deadliest terrorist attack in Iran in decades. Two of the suspects spent time in Turkey before travelling to Russia. The Turkish government says that it has made a wave of arrests.”


Associated press: An Airstrip Is Being Built On A Yemeni Island During The Ongoing War, With ‘I LOVE UAE’ Next To It

“As Yemen’s Houthi rebels continue to target ships in a Mideast waterway, satellite pictures analyzed by The Associated Press show what appears to be a new airstrip being built at an entrance to that crucial maritime route. No country has publicly claimed the construction taking place on Abd al-Kuri Island, a stretch of land rising out of the Indian Ocean near the mouth of the Gulf of Aden. However, satellite images shot for the AP appear to show workers have spelled out “I LOVE UAE” with piles of dirt next to the runway, using an abbreviation for the United Arab Emirates. Both the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea to which it leads have become a battleground between the Houthis and U.S.-led forces in the region as Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip rages — potentially allowing a nation to project its power into the area. The construction comes as the presence of troops from the Emirates in the Socotra island chain to which Abd al-Kuri belongs — and that of the separatist force it backs in southern Yemen — have sparked clashes in the past.”


Reuters: Lebanon's Hezbollah Says It Launched Dozens Of Rockets In Response To Israeli Strikes On South Lebanon

“Lebanon's Hezbollah said on Wednesday it launched dozens of rockets at Kiryet Shmona, a northern Israeli town close to the Lebanese border, in response to deadly Israeli strikes on south Lebanon on Tuesday.”

Associated Press: Israeli Strikes In Lebanon Kill 16, Militant Rockets Kill 1 Israeli As Cross-Border Violence Soars

“A series of Israeli airstrikes in southern Lebanon killed 16 people and a barrage of rockets fired by the militant group Hezbollah killed one Israeli man, making Wednesday the deadliest day in more than five months of fighting along the border. Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, concerns have grown about further escalation along the Israel-Lebanon frontier. Tens of thousands of people on both sides have been displaced by the violence. Wednesday’s Israeli strikes targeted a Lebanese Sunni political and militant organization, the Islamic Group, which has joined the Shiite militant group Hezbollah in its fight against Israel. Two Hezbollah fighters were also killed, as was a local commander with the Amal Movement, another Shiite group. The first Israeli airstrike hit a paramedic center affiliated with the Islamic Group, killing seven of its members in the village of Hebbariye after midnight. Muheddine Qarhani, head of the Emergency and Relief Corps, told reporters at the scene that the paramedic center had been set up late last year. He said he was surprised a medical group had been targeted.”


CNBC: Qatari Royal Reportedly Invested $50 Million In Pro-Trump News Channel Newsmax

“Right-wing news outlet Newsmax received an investment of roughly $50 million from a Qatari royal between 2019 and 2020, The Washington Post reported, citing documents seen by the paper and confirmations from representatives of both Newsmax and the royal investment firm. Former Qatari government official Sheikh Sultan bin Jassim Al Thani invested in Newsmax through Heritage Advisors, a London-based investment fund that he owned, according to the report. At the time, Qatar was under an economic and diplomatic blockade by a coalition of neighboring Arab states, led by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. These nations accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, which Doha stringently denied. According to the Post’s reporting on Tuesday, Newsmax was looking for investors to compete with the likes of Fox News. The paper cited sources employed at Newsmax at the time as saying that they were urged to soften news coverage of Qatar — a claim that the outlet rejects.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Doctors Visiting A Gaza Hospital Are Stunned By The War’s Toll On Palestinian Children

“An international team of doctors visiting a hospital in central Gaza was prepared for the worst. But the gruesome impact Israel’s war against Hamas is having on Palestinian children still left them stunned. One toddler died from a brain injury caused by an Israeli strike that fractured his skull. His cousin, an infant, is still fighting for her life with part of her face blown off by the same strike. An unrelated 10-year-old boy screamed out in pain for his parents, not knowing that they were killed in the strike. Beside him was his sister, but he didn’t recognize her because burns covered almost her entire body. These gut-wrenching casualties were described to The Associated Press by Tanya Haj-Hassan, a pediatric intensive-care doctor from Jordan, following a 10-hour overnight shift at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the town of Deir al-Balah. Haj-Hassan, who has extensive experience in Gaza and regularly speaks out about the war’s devastating effects, was part of a team that recently finished a two-week stint there.”


The Independent: Nigerian Parents Finally Get A Chance To See Their Children Who Spent More Than 2 Weeks In Captivity

“Parents of more than 130 Nigerian schoolchildren who were rescued after more than two weeks in captivity said they saw them on Wednesday and that they couldn’t hold back tears of joy during the long-awaited reunion. The meeting, three days after the children were freed, took place at a government facility in the city of Kaduna, where the children are staying while receiving medical support, the parents and a teacher told The Associated Press. The parents said they cried and danced as they hugged their children for the first time since March 7, when motorcycle-riding gunmen seized them from their school in the remote town of Kuriga in the northwestern Kaduna state, and forced them to march to nearby forests amid gunfire. “I am very happy and filled with joy,” Shittu Abdullahi, whose 14-year-old daughter was among those kidnapped, said after the meeting. It was unclear when the children — who range in years from under 10 to 15 — would be allowed to go home. The local authorities have not responded to queries from the AP about the case. The parents said the government has promised to do so this week.”


Punch Newspaper: Five Terrorists Killed In Borno, Benue, Katsina

“Troops of the Nigerian Army in collaboration with hybrid forces have killed no fewer than three terrorists in operations conducted in Borno and Katsina. This was as the police in Benue State said two bandits were killed. Also during the operations, rustled cattle and weapons were recovered from the terrorists. A statement posted on X by the Nigerian Army on Wednesday said the troops and the hybrid forces engaged the terrorists in a gun duel and overpowered them.  “Nigerian Army  troops deployed for counter-terrorism operations in the North East in  conjunction with Hybrid Forces, on Wednesday, March26,  2024, neutralised one terrorist and recovered arms, ammunition, and rustled cattle during a clearance operation on identified  Boko Haram/Islamic State of West Africa Province enclaves within the Gori general area in the Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno State.”


DW: Syrian Passports: How German Money Funds War Crimes In Syria

“Even at high school, Adam Yasmin was political. When pro-democracy protests began in Syria back in 2011, Yasmin organized after-school demonstrations in his hometown of Jableh — despite the obvious danger posed by security forces loyal to the country's dictator, Bashar Assad. As Syria's peaceful revolution devolved into a brutal civil war, Yasmin was arrested and tortured. He was 16. "I was in prison for seven months and it was the worst experience of my life," he told DW. "And all because we called for freedom, democracy and the abolition of this dictatorial regime." When he was released Yasmin fled, eventually ending up in Germany. Now 27, he lives in Freiburg in Baden-Württemberg, is completing his degree and speaks fluent German. Just over a year ago, he applied for German citizenship and was told he needed one more thing before that could happen: A Syrian passport.”


Reuters: Russian Investigators To Study Request To Probe Western Involvement In 'Terrorism'

“Russian state investigators said on Wednesday they would study a request from parliamentarians to investigate what they called the "organisation, financing, and conduct of terrorist acts" against Russia by the United States and other Western countries. The director of Russia's FSB security agency said on Tuesday that he believed Ukraine, along with the United States and Britain, were involved in an attack on a concert hall just outside Moscow that killed at least 139 people. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron posted on X: "Russia’s claims about the West and Ukraine on the Crocus City Hall attack are utter nonsense." Islamic State took responsibility for the Moscow shooting. Washington and Paris have said they have intelligence confirming the Islamist militant group was behind the attack.”

Reuters: Russia Says It Is Hard To Believe Islamic State Could Have Launched Moscow Attack

“Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that it was "extremely hard to believe" that Islamic State would have had the capacity to launch an attack on a Moscow concert hall last Friday that killed at least 143 people. Zakharova repeated Moscow's assertions, for which it has not yet provided evidence, that Ukraine was behind the attack on the Crocus City Hall, the deadliest Russia has suffered in 20 years. Russia's Emergencies Ministry published a list of names showing 143 people had died in last Friday's mass shooting. Earlier official tallies had put the death toll at 139. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the massacre and U.S. officials say they have intelligence showing it was carried out by the network's Afghan branch, Islamic State Khorasan. Ukraine has repeatedly denied it had anything to do with the attack. But Zakharova said the West had rushed to pin responsibility on Islamic State, also known as ISIS, as a way of deflecting blame from Ukraine and the Western governments that support Kyiv.”

The Economic Times: The Islamic State Group Claimed The Moscow Attack. The Kremlin Is Still Blaming Others.

“Even before the deadly toll of the attack on a Moscow concert hall Friday became clear, officials in Russia linked it to the war against Ukraine and a broader conflict with the West. Ninety minutes after first reports of the attack, Dmitry Medvedev, the former president and the deputy chair of the Kremlin's security council, darkly hinted at "terrorists of the Kyiv regime." The claim of responsibility by the Islamic State group did little to temper the Kremlin's narrative, which has unspooled in a torrent of unsupported accusations and baseless, even fanciful conspiracy theories spread across social media. When President Vladimir Putin said "radical Islamists" had carried out the attack, he called it "just an element in a series of attempts of those who have been at war with our country since 2014," an explicit reference to Ukraine and the upheaval that year that led to the illegal annexation of Crimea. "They need a 'Big Lie,'" said Nina Khrushcheva, a professor of international affairs at the New School in New York, who has written extensively on Russian politics and propaganda.”


Politico: How China Ended Up Financing The Houthis’ Red Sea Attacks

“China is unwittingly helping Iran choke off ship traffic in the Red Sea, impairing global trade flows and damaging Beijing’s own interests in the process, Western intelligence officials say. China’s illicit purchases of Iranian oil are indirectly financing the recent string of attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels in the Red Sea and have had a chilling effect on shipping. About 15 percent of global trade flows through the corridor that leads from the Gulf Aden through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, linking Asia and Europe. China buys about 90 percent of Iran’s oil, including crude sold by the Quds Force, the paramilitary arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) that is responsible for Tehran’s foreign military operations. Quds Force trains and funds Iran’s terror proxies across the Middle East, for example, including both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The Houthis “are attacking international routes, and the first country hurt by it is China itself,” one of the officials said. “I’m not sure they’re aware they’re cutting off the branch their sitting on.””

Voice Of America: China Says 'Deeply Rooted' Ties With Pakistan Unaffected By Terror Attack

“China said Wednesday it had asked Pakistan to "speed up the hunt" for those behind the previous day's terrorist attack that killed five Chinese workers and their local driver. The foreign ministry spokesman told a news conference in Beijing that both countries were working closely to ensure "effective steps" were taken to protect the safety and security of Chinese personnel in Pakistan. Lin Jian said that Islamabad "promised to thoroughly investigate the incident, provide timely updates on the progress of the investigation, (and) strengthen security measures for Chinese personnel, projects, and institutions." A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a convoy of Chinese engineers in a mountainous northern Pakistani district on Tuesday, killing five of them and their local driver. Security personnel inspect the site of a suicide attack in the Shangla district of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on March 26, 2024. Five Chinese nationals working on a construction site were killed along with their driver by a suicide bomber.”

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
View Archive