Eye on Extremism: March 29, 2021

Premium Times Nigeria: Nigerian Soldiers Ambush Boko Haram Fighters, Kill 49 – Official

“The Nigerian Army troops of 28 Task Force Brigade in Chibok and Askira have killed about 48 Boko Haram terrorists and rescued 11 abducted victims in an onslaught in Borno. The Director, Army Public Relations, Mohammed Yerima, disclosed this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja. Mr Yerima said that troops achieved the feat while acting on credible intelligence that some remnants of insurgents were fleeing due to the intensity of troops’ operations in Sambisa Forest. He said the troops laid ambush for the terrorists on Chibok-Damboa axis, killing nine while several others escaped with fatal gunshot wounds in one encounter. Mr Yerima said that the troops also recovered seven AK47 Rifles and freed three kidnapped victims.He said that troops of 28 Task Force Brigade located in Askira also laid a successful ambush along Askira – Chibok Main Supply Route (MSR) and neutralised 39 terrorists in another encounter. The army spokesperson also disclosed that the troops successfully rescued eight kidnapped victims from the terrorists in the course of the encounter. “Unfortunately, however, one of the kidnapped victims sustained injury to his leg while in the hands of his abductors. “He has since been conveyed to a military medical facility for immediate treatment,” he said.”

Daily Sabah: 22 Iraqi Nationals With Daesh Links Arrested In Capital Ankara

“More than 20 foreign nationals were arrested in the Turkish capital Ankara over their suspected links to the Daesh terrorist group, a security source said on Friday. Police teams in the capital launched an operation and arrested 22 Iraqi nationals for their alleged links to conflict zones, said the source on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media. Efforts are ongoing to arrest more suspects. In 2013, Turkey became one of the first countries to declare Daesh a terrorist group. The country has since been attacked by the terrorist 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 anti-terror operations at home and abroad to prevent further attacks.”

United States

The New York Times: Far-Right Extremists Move From ‘Stop The Steal’ To Stop The Vaccine

“Adherents of far-right groups who cluster online have turned repeatedly to one particular website in recent weeks — the federal database showing deaths and adverse reactions nationwide among people who have received Covid-19 vaccinations. Although negative reactions have been relatively rare, the numbers are used by many extremist groups to try to bolster a rash of false and alarmist disinformation in articles and videos with titles like “Covid-19 Vaccines Are Weapons of Mass Destruction — and Could Wipe out the Human Race” or “Doctors and Nurses Giving the Covid-19 Vaccine Will be Tried as War Criminals.” If the so-called Stop the Steal movement appeared to be chasing a lost cause once President Biden was inaugurated, its supporters among extremist organizations are now adopting a new agenda from the anti-vaccination campaign to try to undermine the government. Bashing of the safety and efficacy of vaccines is occurring in chatrooms frequented by all manner of right-wing groups including the Proud Boys; the Boogaloo movement, a loose affiliation known for wanting to spark a second Civil War; and various paramilitary organizations.”

The New York Times: The Original 20 Guantánamo Detainees: A Roster, And Where They Are Now

“Mr. Ali, a Pakistani citizen, was among the earliest people repatriated from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, at a time when the main prison facility, Camp Delta, held 680 detainees. The journalist Mark Bowden wrote that he traveled to Pakistan to meet some former Guantánamo prisoners and found Mr. Ali and another detainee, who said they had not been abused in American custody “except for some roughing up immediately after they were captured.” Both were in their 20s, he wrote in a later account, from tiny villages in the mountainous region of Pakistan where Al Qaeda and the Taliban hid, and he described them as “hapless young Pakistanis” who were rounded up by “Afghani warlords” for a bounty of $4,000 a head. Feroz Abassi, sent to Britain in 2005. Mr. Abassi returned to England, attended university and assumed a new name. He was among a group of former prisoners who received compensation in 2010 from the British government. By 2011, he was divorced, had a son and was working part time for a moving company and for Cage Prisoners, an advocacy group based in Britain for people taken prisoner during the war on terrorism. Friends and lawyers who knew him from his Guantánamo days say he decided not to keep in touch, and he resisted overtures through intermediaries to discuss how he was doing.”

The Washington Post: A Family Seeks And Can’t Find Answers As One Of Their Own Is Accused Of 10 Murders In Boulder Mass Shooting

“On March 16, nearly a week before the mass shooting at a King Soopers grocery store here, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, who has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, bought an AR-15-style pistol. His family was upset and bewildered when they first saw the weapon, according to a close relative. “What are you doing with this gun?” a family member asked Alissa. “Where did you get it? Why do you need it?” Alissa said he had been shooting at a range where he had previously rented a pistol and thought it would be cheaper to buy his own, according to the relative, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the family fears for its safety. Three other more distant relatives, who also requested anonymity, described the family and its journey from Syria to the United States. Alissa, 21, seemed uncertain about some of the basic mechanics of the weapon, a Ruger AR-556 pistol, and talked “about having a bullet stuck in the gun,” according to a police affidavit. Police said he bought the weapon legally. The family seized the pistol, and Alissa seemed to accept the decision, the relative said. On the day before the shooting, a Sunday, Alissa visited the home of one of his sisters. “He was normal, he was playing with the children, laughing with them,” the relative said.”

Politico: 'Be Aware': The Pentagon's Target List For Extremist Infiltrators — Right And Left

“Flags from the left-wing Antifa movement. Depictions of Pepe the Frog, the cartoon character that's been misappropriated by racist groups. Iconography from the far-right Proud Boys, including the phrase “stand back and stand by” from former President Donald Trump. They are all signs that extremists could be infiltrating the military, according to internal training materials that offer a more detailed view into the array of radical groups and ideologies the Pentagon is trying to keep out of the ranks. “There are members of the [Department of Defense] who belong to extremist groups or actively participate in efforts to further extremist ideologies,” states a 17-page briefing obtained by POLITICO that was compiled by the DoD Insider Threat Management and Analysis Center, which is part of the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. “Be aware of symbols of far right, far left, Islamist or single issue ideologies,” it warns, stressing that members of the military and civilian personnel have “a duty and responsibility” to report extremist behavior or activity. The materials were prepared as part of a broader Pentagon effort to crack down on extremists who may be lurking inside the military after dozens of ex-service members were arrested for their roles in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of the presidential election.”

Syria

Associated Press: US-Backed Syrian Forces Raid Camp Of IS Families, Arrest 9

“Thousands of Kurdish-led forces, with assistance from the U.S.-led coalition, launched a military operation Sunday at a sprawling camp in northeast Syria, in a new effort to identify and arrest Islamic State militants and tamp down escalating killings and violence in the camp. The security sweep at the al-Hol camp will continue over time and is being conducted with “indirect” intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support provided by the coalition, U.S. officials said Sunday. The Kurdish-led forces said they have nearly 5,000 fighters participating in the operation and on Sunday they arrested nine people, including an Iraqi IS member who worked in recruitment. The al-Hol camp houses some 62,000 people, including wives and children of IS members, and U.S. officials say it has become a breeding ground for the next generation of Islamic State militants. There have been 47 killings in the camp since the start of 2021, according to the Kurdish-led forces, while U.S officials put the figure at well over 60. Military leaders have long warned of the growing security problems in the camp. In comments to the Middle East Institute in February, Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said the “systemic indoctrination” of the camp’s population to IS ideology is an alarming, long-term risk.”

The Guardian: Kurdish Forces Enter Detention Camp In Syria To Eliminate ISIS Cells

“Kurdish forces in north-east Syria have begun a security operation inside al-Hawl detention camp in an attempt to eliminate Isis sleeper cells that have become increasingly active over the last few months. Around 5,000–6,000 Kurdish troops and Asayish security police, led by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) military, entered the camp on Sunday to conduct searches and arrests in what is expected to be a 15-day operation. Local Kurdish sources said the aim was to isolate and arrest Isis ringleaders – one of whom had already been detained – and to improve access for relief groups at a site where living conditions are desperate and malnutrition is rife. Western forces were not involved, the Kurdish sources added. However, a spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led military coalition against Isis, said it was taking place with their support. “Our SDF and Asayish partners began an op[eration] intent on improving security, safety and access to NGO assistance for those residing at al-Hawl IDP camp. Preventing future generations of Daesh [Isis] from growing at the camp will ensure the enduring mission to defeat Daesh,” spokesman Wayne Marotto tweeted.”

Iraq

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraq Secures Border With Syria To Prevent Infiltration Of ISIS Militants

“Iraq’s government announced taking a series of new measures to prevent the infiltration of ISIS militants through the border with Syria. Commander of the Border Guards Lieutenant General Hamid al-Husseini announced on Thursday that fortifications have been initiated to secure the borders, including the installation of thermal cameras and control towers. “More than 150 control towers will be erected in Mount Sinjar,” he noted, stressing the efficiency of the thermal-camera systems. According to Husseini, the situation is constantly improving. The 617 kilometer-long border will be under the border guards’ control, he stressed, pointing to their determination to eliminate the threat posed by ISIS remnants. ISIS militants recently stepped up their attacks in Iraq, prompting the NATO to expand its training mission in the country from 500 to around 4,000 personnel. Notably, Baghdad and Washington revealed earlier that US military has cut troop levels in Iraq to 2,500 amid continuous calls for foreign troops to leave the country. Meanwhile, attacks on US targets in Iraq continue despite a number of armed groups announcing a truce and vowing not to attack US interests, including the US Embassy in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.”

Deutsche Welle: Iraq's Yazidis Warn Of Ongoing Threats From Extremists

“In a landmark decision this month, Iraq's parliament passed the Yazidi Female Survivors Law, recognizing the atrocities committed by the extremist group known as “Islamic State,” or “IS,” against the ethno-religious group as genocide. When “IS,” an Islamist terror group, took control of swathes of northern Iraq between 2014 and 2017, it killed, kidnapped and enslaved thousands of Yazidis, while tens of thousands more were forced to flee their homes. “The passage of the law represents a watershed moment,” the United Nations' International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a statement after the law was passed on March 1. It makes Iraq one of the first Arab countries to focus “institutional attention on female survivors of conflict-related sexual violence.” The bill was hailed by Iraqi President Barham Salih as “an important step.” But even while the law aims to “prevent the recurrence of violations,” not everyone is convinced it will live up to its promises. Yazidi survivors say the existential threats that fueled “Islamic State's” genocidal campaign against them still persist in Iraq. How does the law help survivors? The law pledges to provide assistance to victims of “IS,” primarily Yazidi female survivors who were kidnapped and later freed — but also members of other minorities who suffered the same fate, including Turkmen, Christian and Shabak Iraqis.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Officials Try To Sway Biden Using Intelligence On Potential For Taliban Takeover Of Afghanistan

“As President Biden signaled this week that he would let a May 1 deadline pass without withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan, some officials are using an intelligence assessment to argue for prolonging the military mission there. American intelligence agencies have told the Biden administration that if U.S. troops leave before a power-sharing settlement is reached between the Taliban and the Afghan government, the country could fall largely under the control of the Taliban within two or three years after the withdrawal of international forces. That could potentially open the door for Al Qaeda to rebuild its strength within the country, according to American officials. The classified assessment, first prepared last year for the Trump administration but not previously disclosed, is the latest in a series of grim predictions of Afghanistan’s future that intelligence analysts have delivered throughout the two-decade-long war. But the intelligence has landed in a changed political environment. While President Donald J. Trump pushed for a withdrawal of all forces even before the terms of the peace deal required it, Mr. Biden has been more cautious, saying Thursday that he does not view May 1 as a deadline he must meet, although he also said he “could not picture” troops being in the country next year.”

The Washington Post: With U.S. Withdrawal Delay Likely, And New Peace Proposal On The Table, Taliban Faces Inevitable Crossroads

“For months, the Taliban has managed to both talk peace and wage war across Afghanistan. The strategy appeared to appease the hard-liners within the militant group who want an outright military victory to end the 20-year conflict and moderate members of the movement who would accept a political solution.But the new, aggressive U.S. push for a peace deal has brought the Taliban to an inevitable crossroads: Accepting a place in a power-sharing government, as proposed by the United States, would bring the group one step closer to its ultimate goal of retaking full control of the country and establishing an Islamic government — and yet any path to power that prevents Afghanistan from again being labeled a pariah state will require compromise at odds with the core beliefs of the militants’ rank and file. A deadline looms. The Biden administration has until May 1 to withdraw troops from the country, under a U.S.-Taliban deal signed in February 2020, or negotiate a new arrangement. What the Taliban does could signal where the movement’s balance of power lies and what its vision is for Afghanistan’s future. So far, the Taliban leadership has said little publicly to reveal the specifics of what kind of government it would accept, beyond one ruled by Islamic law.”

Bloomberg: Taliban Says It Will Fight U.S. Forces Again If They Miss Exit Deadline

“Afghanistan’s Taliban said it would resume fighting against American or other foreign forces if the U.S. misses the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline agreed in a peace deal last year. “If, God forbid, all foreign troops do not withdraw from Afghanistan on the specified date in line with the Doha agreement, undoubtedly, it will be considered a violation of the accord by America,” Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem wrote on Twitter. The Taliban would then “be compelled to defend its religion and homeland and continue its Jihad and armed struggle against foreign forces to liberate its country.” The Taliban’s warning comes after U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters Thursday that it would be “hard” to meet the deadline though he “can’t picture” troops remaining in the war-ravaged country by next year. The former administration of President Donald Trump finalized the agreement with the Taliban in February last year in exchange for security guarantees. Following the deal, the Taliban stopped attacking U.S. forces. Biden has also promised to end the 20-year war in Afghanistan but says he wants to review the agreement.”

Africa

Al Jazeera: Over 180 People Trapped In Mozambique Hotel After Attack

“More than 180 people including foreign workers are trapped inside a hotel in a northern Mozambique town under siege for three days by fighters linked to the ISIL (ISIS) group, according to workers and security sources. Several people were dead, AFP news agency reported citing witnesses and a rights group, after the attack in the town of Palma near a liquified natural gas (LNG) site in Cabo Delgado province. Reuters news agency on Saturday also reported the death of at least one civilian and the wounding of others when their convoy was attacked as they tried to flee.. ISIL-linked fighters began a raid on the coastal town on Wednesday afternoon, forcing terrified residents to flee into the surrounding forest as LNG and government workers sought shelter at the Amarula Palma hotel. “Almost the entire town was destroyed. Many people are dead,” said a worker on the LNG site speaking on the phone on Friday evening after he was evacuated to Afungi. He did not give details about the casualties nor their nationalities. “As locals fled to the bush, workers from LNG companies, including foreigners, took refuge in hotel Amarula where they are waiting to be rescued,” he said, asking not to be named.”

The New York Times: As Militants Seize Mozambique Gas Hub, A Dash For Safety Turns Deadly

“As gunshots rang out across a port town in northeastern Mozambique on Friday afternoon, nearly 200 people sheltering inside the Amarula Palma hotel confronted a devastating reality: The armed insurgents outside the hotel’s doors had all but taken control of the town and there was no one coming to save them any time soon. For two days, hundreds of insurgents in the gas-rich region had been laying siege to the coastal town of Palma, firing indiscriminately at civilians, hunting down government officials and setting buildings ablaze as security forces tried in vain to repel them. The violence sent thousands of people fleeing, with some rushing to the beach, where a ragtag fleet of cargo ships, tugboats and fishing vessels was ferrying people to safety. But at the hotel, with daylight hours dwindling, the local residents and foreign gas workers who remained faced an impossible choice: Either wait inside, defenseless, for a promised evacuation in the morning, or try to make it to the beach. In a desperate dash, dozens of people crammed into a 17-vehicle convoy and left the hotel for the oceanfront. Only seven vehicles completed the trip. Militants ambushed the convoy after it left the hotel grounds, setting on the occupants of the cars. Many arrived at the beach bloodied.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Bristol Man Jailed For Possessing Terrorism Material

“A man described as “immature but no fool” has been jailed after police found terrorist material in his home. Sohaib Embarek was arrested at his flat in Bristol after an operation involving Avon and Somerset Police and counter-terrorism officers. In January this year he admitted five charges of possessing terrorism material. The judge told Embarek he had spent his time “drinking too much and spending too much time on the internet”. The 34-year-old was jailed at The Old Bailey on Thursday for a total of six years, including prison time for three counts of making indecent images of children and one count of possession of extreme pornography. Armed officers raided the flat where Embarek was living on Tyndale Road on 9 December, 2019 as part of a joint operation involving Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE), Counter Terrorism Policing South West and Avon and Somerset Police. They discovered the Spanish national had downloaded bomb-making manuals, guides on how to make poison and Islamic State propaganda. He had also shared terrorist material using the messaging app Telegram.”

Australia

ABC News Australia: White Supremacist Group The Base Should Be Banned In Australia, Federal Labor MP Anne Aly Says

“…Joshua Fisher-Birch from non-profit group Counter Extremism Project (CEP) said designating a white supremacist group as a terrorist organisation could transform how law enforcement and intelligence agencies could approach it. “The Canadian government proscribed them as a terror group for a number of reasons,” he said. “It means that it might prevent individuals from joining the group because they see that as a potential liability. “Beyond that, it sort of prevents banks from doing business with individuals who are members of those groups.” He said in Canada it was not illegal to be a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation, but it could open them up to different criminal charges. He said, as an example, committing acts of violence could see a member slapped with additional federal terrorism charges. “Hopefully it will make the operational environment much more difficult for those groups to operate, recruit and fundraise,” he said.”

The Guardian: Victoria Police Reveal Active Counter-Terrorism Investigation Involving Rightwing Extremists

“Victorian police have revealed there is an active counter-terrorism investigation involving rightwing extremists in the state, and confirmed that separate action could be taken against a handful of people who have allegedly made vile threats against others because of their race or religion.In a wide-ranging briefing about the extent of the rightwing extremism threat in Victoria, senior police said about 40% of the “hundreds” of extremists currently being monitored in Victoria were from that cohort – a workload that had almost doubled in the past 18 months. Assistant commissioner Mick Hermans would not be drawn on further details regarding the current investigation, including whether it related to a group or individual. But he said police were also awaiting advice from the office of public prosecutions regarding charging four people for allegedly breaching Victoria’s contentious racial and religious tolerance act. A Victorian parliamentary inquiry found earlier this month that the act’s ability to address racial and religious vilification was “questionable”, and recommended Victoria police start collating data on hate crime. Hermans said that cases brought under the act were complex but typically related to the most vile racist threats reported to police.”

Europe

Yahoo News: European Jihadists' Children 'At Risk Of Radicalisation'

“The children of European jihadists left trapped in a Syrian camp after their fathers' defeat on the battlefield now face radicalisation in their turn, a Belgian expert warns. Heidi De Pauw, director of the association Child Focus, has visited orphans and widows in the Al-Hol camp in northern Syria and says it is time to bring the youngsters home. Belgium has been one of the main sources of foreign fighters who travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight under the banner of the Islamic State jihadist group. The group's so-called caliphate centred around Raqa has now been overrun by western-baked forces and many militants have been slain -- leaving behind their wives and children.Belgium's Prime Minister Alexander de Croo has recognised the need to bring the youngest children home to prevent a new generation of extremists growing up in camps. His decision came as Brussels marks the fifth anniversary of the triple suicide bombing that was the deadliest peacetime attack in Belgium's history, and some here are worried. But De Pauw told AFP that the western-backed Kurdish forces that over-ran Raqa are losing control of the Al-Hol camp and the children held there should be protected.”

Southeast Asia

The Wall Street Journal: Dozens Shot Dead In Myanmar As Military Continues Ruthless Campaign Against Civilians

“On a day when Myanmar’s commander in chief vowed in a speech “to protect people from all dangers,” soldiers and police he controls gunned down dozens of men, women and children across the country, continuing a campaign to suppress widespread opposition to last month’s military coup. Demonstrations began a week after the Feb. 1 takeover, which abruptly ended Myanmar’s decadelong shift toward democracy. They have continued every day since as protesters demand that elected government be restored. A civil disobedience movement has brought large parts of the economy to a standstill, with civil servants, factory workers, shopkeepers, bank staff and others refusing to go to work in an effort to push the military to give up power. Soldiers have responded by shooting citizens in the streets. The U.N.’s Human Rights office said Saturday it had received reports of scores of people killed and hundreds injured across 40 locations in the country. A representative for the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a nonprofit that monitors arrests and fatalities, said at least 91 people had been killed and that the group was working to confirm the full death toll. Before Saturday, armed forces and police had slain 328 people, according to the group.”

Reuters: Indonesia President Condemns Church Attack As “Terrorism”

“Indonesian president Joko Widodo strongly condemned a suspected suicide bomb attack outside a church that wounded 14 people in the city of Makassar on the island of Sulawesi on Sunday. In a video broadcast, he described the attack in the country with the world’s largest Muslim population as an “act of terrorism”, and urged people to remain calm, saying the government would ensure that everybody can worship freely, “without fear.”

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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