Eye on Extremism: March 31, 2021

Asharq Al-Awsat: Kurds Say 53 ISIS Members Arrested In Syria's Al-Hol Camp

“Kurdish forces said Tuesday they had arrested 53 suspected ISIS group members in a northeast Syria camp for relatives of extremists, in an anti-ISIS security operation. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the launch Sunday of the sweep in Al-Hol camp, which has been rocked by assassinations and breakout attempts. Kurdish authorities have warned that the settlement, home to almost 62,000 people, is turning into an extremist powder keg because of ISIS members hiding out among camp residents. The Kurds' Asayish security forces said they had “detained 53 ISIS members, including five leaders of ISIS sleeper cells that carried out violent terrorist attacks in the camp”. They had also “confiscated mobile phones as well as several laptops”, the SDF-allied police unit added. Heavily-armed Kurdish forces stood guard outside the camp as others stormed suspected hideouts inside the vast settlement, an AFP reporter said. In some sections, residents stood outside their tents watching the anti-terrorist squad scour the area. Al-Hol is the larger of two Kurdish-run displacement camps for relatives of ISIS extremists in Syria's northeast. It holds mostly Syrians and Iraqis but also thousands from Europe and Asia suspected of family ties with ISIS fighters.”

BBC News: Teen Who Called Himself Hitler Sentenced For Terror Offences

“A schoolboy who created his own online neo-Nazi group has been sentenced after admitting terrorism offences. The 16-year-old, from Newcastle, called himself Hitler and set up accounts on multiple social media platforms which glorified extreme right-wing violence. He had pleaded guilty to four counts of inviting support for National Action, a banned neo-Nazi organisation. At North Tyneside Magistrates' Court, sitting as a youth court, he was given a 12-month intensive referral order. The youth had also admitted three counts of encouraging terrorism and four of stirring up racial and religious hatred. He was further made the subject of terrorism notification requirements for 10 years, meaning he will have to keep the authorities informed of his whereabouts and certain activities. After first being arrested in October 2019 he continued to post racist material. The boy committed his first terrorism offence aged 15, making him the third youngest person in the UK to commit a terror offence. National Action was banned in 2016 under counter terror laws, making it illegal to be a member of the organisation or invite support for it. The BBC is not naming the small group created by the youth.”

United States

The Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court Looks At Consequences Of Falsely Calling Someone A Terrorist

“A class-action lawsuit by some 8,000 consumers falsely labeled as potential terrorists on their credit reports appeared likely to survive following Supreme Court arguments Tuesday but several justices suggested not all of the individuals merited compensation. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, TransUnion LLC launched a product, OFAC Advisor, which it marketed to creditors faced with USA Patriot Act provisions prohibiting transactions with individuals listed by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. “TransUnion OFAC Advisor provides the most comprehensive international list of known terrorists and criminals using the OFAC list as well as expanded information from multiple sources. TransUnion OFAC Advisor is designed to minimize the number of ‘false positives’ using unique matching logic,” a 2002 press release announcing the product said. In February 2011, Sergio Ramirez discovered he had been identified as a potential terrorist by TransUnion when he tried to buy a Nissan Maxima from a dealer in Dublin, Calif. After settling on the price, the salesman canceled the deal after running Mr. Ramirez’s credit; he showed Mr. Ramirez the TransUnion report stating that “input name matches name on the OFAC database.”

The Washington Post: Appeals Court Upholds Constitutionality Of FBI Terror Watch List

“A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has upheld the constitutionality of an FBI watch list of more than 1 million “known or suspected terrorists,” saying it falls under the government’s power to guard its borders. “The government has had authority to regulate travel and control the border since the beginning of the nation,” Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III wrote in an opinion issued Tuesday. Muslim American civil rights organizations have long challenged the Terrorist Screening Database, created in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, saying it violates the rights of U.S. citizens. A federal judge in Alexandria, Va., ruled in their favor in 2019, writing that there had to be a meaningful process for someone to challenge placement on a list that leads to screening by border agents, law enforcement and employers that work in national security. “It is a black box,” he wrote, and one where “erroneous deprivation of . . . travel-related and reputational liberty interests is high.” But Wilkinson found that most of the plaintiffs’ delays were “not dissimilar from what many travelers routinely face, whether in standard or enhanced screenings, particularly at busy airports.” While a few examples might be more egregious, he said, “a few nonrepresentative encounters, plucked in isolation from millions of encounters occurring each year, are hardly a sound basis for redesigning the entire TSDB system.”

Fox News: Michigan Judge Drops Terrorism Charges For 3 Men Accused In Alleged Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Plot

“A judge in Michigan on Monday threw out terrorism charges against three men allegedly involved in a plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Jackson County District Court Judge Michael J. Klaeren dropped the terrorism charges for Joseph Morrison, 26, and Pete Musico, 43, both of Munith, Michigan, The Detroit News reported. He also denied a request from prosecutors to add the terrorism count to charges against Paul Bellar, 22, of Milford, Michigan. The three men were ordered to stand trial on the remaining charges against them: providing material support for terrorist acts, gang membership and using a firearm during a felony. “The defendants are joined at the hip here,” Klaeren said before announcing his ruling. “The prosecution did a good job in establishing who knew what and when.” The threat of terrorism, providing material support for terrorist acts and gang membership charges each are 20-year felonies. Felony firearm charges carry two-year maximum prison sentences. According to a court affidavit, Musico and Morrison are founding members of the Wolverine Watchmen, which authorities described as “an anti-government, anti-law enforcement militia group.”

Syria

The Times: Joe Biden Urges Western Allies To Bring Back ISIS Families Held In Syria

“The Biden administration has urged America’s western allies to repatriate foreign fighters and their families from Syria, warning that the violent, squalid camps are spawning a new generation of extremists. John Godfrey, special envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat Isis, said that victory over the jihadists on the battlefield would be squandered if western nations did not take responsibility for repatriating and, if need be, prosecuting, their citizens who remain in the camps. “This is an international problem that requires an international solution,” he said on the eve of talks on Syria hosted by Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: The Taliban Think They Have Already Won, Peace Deal Or Not

“The Taliban’s swagger is unmistakable. From the recent bellicose speech of their deputy leader, boasting of “conquests,” to sneering references to the “foreign masters” of the “illegitimate” Kabul government, to the Taliban’s own website tally of “puppets” killed — Afghan soldiers — they are promoting a bold message: We have already won the war. And that belief, grounded in military and political reality, is shaping Afghanistan’s volatile present. On the eve of talks in Turkey next month over the country’s future, it is the elephant in the room: the half-acknowledged truth that the Taliban have the upper hand and are thus showing little outward interest in compromise, or of going along with the dominant American idea, power-sharing. While the Taliban’s current rhetoric is also propaganda, the grim sense of Taliban supremacy is dictating the response of a desperate Afghan government and influencing Afghanistan’s anxious foreign interlocutors. It contributes to the abandonment of dozens of checkpoints and falling morale among the Afghan security forces, already hammered by a “not sustainable” casualty rate of perhaps 3,000 a month, a senior Western diplomat in Kabul said.”

The New York Times: Three Women Working To Vaccinate Children Shot Dead In Afghanistan

“Three health workers, all women, working for the government’s polio vaccine campaign were shot dead in Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, local officials said, only weeks after three women working in television were killed in the same city. The women, all in their 20s, were going about their jobs in the bustling town near the border with Pakistan when they were gunned down in two separate attacks. Semin, 24, and Basira, 20, who like many Afghans both went by only one name, were shot and killed by two gunmen as they entered a house in Jalalabad to vaccinate the children who lived there, the governor’s office said. The two were going door to door in the city, a practice the Taliban have banned in the past in areas under their control. It was Semin’s first vaccination campaign; said Ahmad Faisal Nizami, the victim’s cousin. She had recently been married and had graduated from a teacher training college. Negina, 24, a supervisor for the polio vaccine campaign, which started in Afghanistan on Monday, was shot and killed about an hour later elsewhere in the city. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the killings. The Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, rejected any involvement in the incident in a WhatsApp message.”

Nigeria

All Africa: Nigeria: Kidnapping Proceeds Used To Fuel Boko Haram Insurgency - Governors

“The Nigeria Governors Forum, NGF, said yesterday that proceeds from kidnappings in the Northeast were used to fuel Boko Haram insurgency in the zone. Chairmen of NGF and governor of Ekiti state, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, stated this after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja. Fielding questions from State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, the NGF Chairman said: “There is a direct correlation, I've said this to you before, between insurgency in the northeast, and what we're seeing manifesting itself as banditry in the northwest, or kidnapping in the southwest. Some of the people involved in these are also the ones responsible for insurgency. “They are using the resources they make from kidnapping for the activities that they're conducting in the northeast. “So, we need to take a comprehensive look at all these things and not treat them in compartments. We must treat them as a comprehensive issue and then tackle them collectively.” He commended the efforts of the nation's security forces, saying though he was one of those who advocated the change of service chiefs, he did not expect a dramatic turnaround so soon.”

Africa

ABC News: At Least 1 American Evacuated From Mozambique As ISIS-Linked Rebels Seize Coastal Town

“At least one American has been safely evacuated from Mozambique following deadly attacks by ISIS-linked rebels who left beheaded bodies strewn on beaches and streets, according to a senior official with the U.S. Department of State. John Godfrey, the State Department's acting special envoy for the global coalition to defeat ISIS, condemned the “sheer brutality” of the attacks in the coastal northeastern town of Palma and said the local jihadist group responsible has become increasingly brazen. “The situation there is still unfolding but the U.S. government is closely monitoring events on the ground, and the attacks there are horrific, frankly, and show a complete disregard for the life, welfare and security of the local population,” Godfrey said during a press briefing Monday afternoon. “We were aware of one American citizen who was on the ground in Palma and that individual, as we understand it, has successfully been evacuated.”  ISIS, officially known as the Islamic State, claimed responsibility Monday for the attacks in Palma in Mozambique's natural gas-rich Cabo Delgado province, saying the offensive was carried out by fighters from its Central African Province division, which also has a presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to SITE Intelligence Group, a company that tracks extremist groups.”

The Independent: ISIS Attacks In Africa Rise By Third In A Year As UK And US Warn Of Islamist Insurgency On Continent

“Attacks by Isis in Africa have gone up by a third over the past year in a relentless rise of Islamist insurgency in the continent, Antony Blinken and Dominic Raab have warned, as they called for a united international strategy to counter the threat. The US secretary of state and the British foreign secretary issued a statement along with ministers from the Global Coalition against Daesh [Isis], highlighting how the group has become lethally active in Africa, as well as showing signs of a resurgence in the Middle East. The ministers pointed to a recent coordinated double suicide attack in Baghdad as evidence that the group has been able to “rebuild its networks and capabilities to target security forces and civilians” in regime-held areas of Syria, and that this could enable it to carry out operations in other areas. The coalition emphasised that there was a “serious and growing threat” in Africa, with jihadi violence in a swathe of states, including those in the Sahel region. There have recently been attacks on aid workers in the Chad Basin region, continuing conflict in Mali, and Isis and al-Shabaab-affiliated fighters have launched an offensive in Mozambique, with civilians being beheaded. The British military, under UN auspices, are part of the international force in Mali and also have training missions in a number of African countries, including Kenya and Somalia.”

Voice Of America: Cameroon Says Boko Haram Has Intensified Attacks For Supplies

“Cameroon’s military on Tuesday said it deployed troops to its northern border with Nigeria after a series of attacks authorities say were carried out the terrorist group Boko Haram. The group did not claim responsibility, but Cameroonian authorities said they also deployed village militias in response to the attacks. Cattle rancher Donald Kulbe says economic activity has been halted since Saturday’s Boko Haram attack on Cameroon’s northern village of Dabanga on the border with Nigeria. The 52-year-old director of the Dabanga village cattle market says the fighters killed at least 50 animals and chased hundreds of civilians and cattle buyers from their village. He spoke to VOA from Dabanga via WhatsApp. Kulbe said the economy has taken a hit in his village due to attacks claimed by the terrorist group, Boko Haram. This, he says, is on top of the economic downturn the Dabanga village is facing because of the coronavirus pandemic. Due to insecurity in the village and fear of customers, cattle ranchers are seeing their income fall drastically.  Several dozen villagers fled for their lives and are still hiding in the bushes in the areas near the border of the village, Kulbe said. Villagers identified at least 20 corpses after the fight between the attackers and Cameroon military.”

France

The National: Counter-Terrorism Programme In France Bears Fruit With No Militants Reoffending

“…Dr Marc Hecker, of the French Institute of International Relations, said the project was “bearing fruit” and called for its expansion. “There is no single case of terrorism recidivism out of 64 convicted terrorists,” he told a webinar hosted by the Counter Extremism Project. “This is really encouraging. There is actually only one terrorist back in jail but not for a terror offence – it was related to drugs. “I think we should continue this programme and broaden it to other zones in France. It has been operating in four cities which had concerns with radicalisation and were hotspots, but it should be opened up in cities like Nice and Strasbourg.” The project was developed after a sharp increase in convictions of extremists for terrorism offences, rising from 70 to 320 in the past four years. In October 2020 alone, teacher Samuel Paty was killed in Paris after pupils were shown cartoons from the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and three people were killed by a Tunisian extremist in Nice’s Notre-Dame church. The French government created the project as many terrorists were being released after completing their sentences. An initial two-year trial resulted in no recidivism and led to the programme being introduced in the extremism hotspots Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Lille.”

Europe

Eurasia Review: Bosnian Police Hunt For Wanted US Far-Right Activist

“…According to the Counter Extremism Project, the Rise Above Movement was founded by Rundo in 2017 as a “white supremacist gang” involving mixed martial arts fighters. The Counter Extremism Project said that Rise Above Movement members participated in a violent rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville in August 2017, during which a counter-protester was killed. “RAM [Rise Above Movement] claims it wants to revive the ‘warrior spirit’ of the white male,” the Counter Extremism Project said. After Rundo entered Bosnia, his ‘Active Club Podcast’ was broadcast at least once via the Rise Above Movement’s website, and he also made a guest appearance on the Australian far-right podcast ‘Voice of Zealandia’. BIRN was not able to confirm when he made the recordings.”

Reuters: Russia Jails Jehovah's Witness In Crimea For Over Six Years For Extremism

“A court in Russian-controlled Crimea sentenced a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to six and a half years in prison after finding him guilty of organising extremist activities, it said. The verdict, issued by the Gagarinsky District Court in Sevastopol on Monday, comes amid an ongoing crackdown on the group, which Russia branded extremist and banned from operating in the country in 2017. The court did not disclose the defendant’s name. Nor did it say what he had done to be charged. It said the verdict could be appealed within 10 days. A Jehovah’s Witness office in Brussels identified the man as Viktor Stashevskiy. It said in a statement the case “as many similar cases against Jehovah’s Witnesses, contains a testimony of a secret witness.” Jehovah’s Witnesses have been under pressure for years in Russia, where the Russian Orthodox Church is championed by President Vladimir Putin. Orthodox scholars have cast it as a dangerous foreign sect that erodes state institutions and traditional values, allegations its members reject. Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, drawing Western condemnation and tit-for-tat sanctions. Ukraine wants the region back.”

Southeast Asia

Voice Of America: Newlyweds Used Pressure Cooker Bombs In Church Attack, Indonesian Police Say

“Indonesian authorities have identified a recently married couple with ties to the Islamic State-linked Jamaah Ansarud Daulah (JAD) as the main suspects behind a suicide bombing Sunday that targeted a Catholic church in Makassar, the provincial capital of South Sulawesi. Referring to the couple by their initials only, Listyo Sigit Prabowo, chief of the Indonesian National Police, said suspects “L and YSF” — identified by Indonesian media as a man named Lukman and his wife, Dewi — had been married some six months prior by a JAD figure known as Rifaldi. Indonesians commonly have only one name by which they are addressed. According to Prabowo, Rifaldi was arrested in January and charged with involvement in the 2019 bombing of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Philippines, which left 20 people dead and dozens more injured. The police chief also said Lukman had left a written farewell message to his parents telling them he was “ready to be martyred.” According to Indonesian officials, the suicide bombers approached the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on a motorbike but were intercepted at the gate by security guards. They used a pressure cooker with explosive materials to blow themselves up outside the packed church during its Palm Sunday Mass.”

The Defense Post: ‘Myanmar Military A Terrorist Group,’ Says Advisory Council

“The Special Advisory Council for Myanmar (SAC-M), an independent group of international experts on Myanmar, accused the country’s armed forces of engaging in acts of terrorism following Saturday’s crackdown that killed more than 100 people. In a press release, the council said they received reports about soldiers and police seizing bodies of people they killed, dragging them away from their families and burning them. It was also stated that for nearly two months the military has committed murder and torture, engaged in detentions, destruction of property, and orchestrated media blackouts against residents they are supposed to protect. “These are barbaric criminal acts, calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public with the purpose of terrorizing the entire population,” SAC-M founding member Marzuki Darusman stated. “The actions of the Myanmar military are the actions of a terrorist group, under any United Nations definition of the term,” he added. SAC-M is calling on the international community to help Myanmar and its people by cutting military funds and the supply of weapons to the country. Furthermore, the group wants the situation to be reported to the International Criminal Court so that those responsible for the chaos are sanctioned.”

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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