Eye on Extremism: May 10, 2022

Associated Press: US Sanctions Alleged IS Child Trafficking Financiers

“The U.S. announced Monday that it is sanctioning five people accused of fundraising for the Islamic State group and using the funds to help traffic children to serve as fighters for the organization. U.S. Treasury says the actors are pivotal to helping extremists travel to Syria and other regions where IS operates. Dwi Dahlia Susanti and her accomplices are accused of facilitating money transfers from Indonesia, Turkey, and Syria, where the Treasury Department says Sustani used the funds to help “smuggle teenage children out of the camps to the desert, where they were received by (IS) foreign fighters, likely as child recruits” for IS. The sanctions, imposed by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, block any property or other assets the individuals have in the U.S. and those who engage in business with the sanctioned people could receive secondary sanctions. The announcement comes just two days ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers from the global anti-IS coalition that is happening in Morocco on Wednesday. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had to cancel his plan to attend because he tested positive for COVID-19, but the U.S. will be represented by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who is the third highest-ranking U.S. diplomat.”

Reuters: Egypt, U.S. Eye Counter-Terrorism Ties In Wake Of Deadly Sinai Attack

“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi expressed hopes for deeper U.S. counter-terrorism ties during talks with a top American general on Monday, following a deadly weekend attack by militants in the Sinai peninsula, a U.S. military official said on Monday. The attack was claimed by Islamic State and killed 11 Egyptian troops. Militants descended on a checkpoint at a water pumping station, striking with an explosive-rigged vehicle and firing heavy weapons from pick-up trucks, Egyptian security sources said. It was one of the most deadly attacks in recent years in the northern Sinai. U.S. Army General Michael “Erik” Kurilla, who oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East, said following Monday's talks in Cairo that the attack underscored the persistent threat from extremists. “I offered my condolences and my view of the ISIS threat,” said Kurilla, head of U.S. Central Command. Sisi's office said in a statement following his meeting with Kurilla that terrorism was the foremost challenge to Egypt's security and stability and required “collective efforts to combat it.” Since 2018, the Egyptian military has expanded its control over populated coastal areas of Northern Sinai between the Gaza Strip in the east and the Suez Canal in the west, allowing for a return of some civilian activity and the development of some infrastructure.”

Syria

Kurdistan 24: April The Bloodiest Month In Northeast Syria Due To ISIS's Ramadan Campaign: RIC

“ISIS carried out 54 sleeper cell attacks across northeast Syria in April, killing 52 and injuring 32 as part of a campaign it launched during Ramadan, according to the latest monthly Rojava Information Centre (RIC) report published on Monday. On Apr. 17, ISIS spokesperson Abu Omar al-Muhajir claimed the group would avenge the killing of the previous ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Qurayshi, who was assassinated in February alongside his spokesperson Abu Hamza al-Qurashi. Since then, there has been a huge increase in ISIS attacks in northeast Syria, Iraq, and other countries. “Following the spokesperson's statement, North and East Syria saw sleeper cell attacks (in April) rise to 54 – 36 of which were conducted on or after April 17th,” read the RIC report. “ISIS claimed over a dozen more attacks, though RIC has not been able to independently verify them, and they are thus not reflected in this report's statistics.” “Of the 18 security forces and 34 civilians killed in April, 16 and 23, respectively, occurred after the campaign's declaration,” the report added. “Excluding the January battle in Heseke (Hasakah), this is the highest monthly death toll since RIC began recording these statistics.” ISIS launched a large-scale attack on al-Sina'a prison in late January in an attempt to release the thousands of ISIS militants imprisoned inside.”

Lebanon

Reuters: A Rival Sits Out Lebanon's Election. Now Hezbollah Could Fill The Void

“The stakes are high in Lebanon's election. The heavily armed Hezbollah movement has seen one of its main rivals descend into disarray, handing it an opportunity to cement power over a divided country that's sinking into poverty. Abdallah al-Rahman will not be casting a ballot, though. "I won't vote for anyone," said the wiry-haired sculptor and activist, dismissing the candidates whose pictures are plastered on buildings and giant billboards in Lebanon's second city of Tripoli ahead of the national parliamentary election on May 15. Rahman is from the Sunni Muslim community, one of the country's main groupings and a traditional counterweight to Hezbollah, a powerful Iranian-backed Shi'ite group. Yet like many of his fellow Sunnis, he is skipping the election following the shock withdrawal of his community's longtime leader and figurehead, Saad al-Hariri, scion of a political dynasty. Rami Harrouq, who lives in the Hariri stronghold of Bab al-Tebbaneh in northern Tripoli, will not be participating either. Alternative candidates have not impressed the 39-year-old factory worker, and he has been worn down by the country's economic collapse.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: IDF Believes Hamas Not Driving Terror Spate, But ‘Riding The Wave’

“Military analysts believe the Hamas terror group is not behind a recent string of deadly terror attacks, but has rather been “riding the wave” to encourage further violence, defense officials said Monday. In an assessment delivered to political leaders, the Israel Defense Forces presented a picture of the terror group milking the successful assaults for their PR value and to push more Palestinians to take similar action. The group was not directly involved in orchestrating the attacks, the IDF said, even one that it claimed responsibility for. Nineteen people have been killed and several more have been hurt in a series of attacks in Israel and the West Bank since March 22. Several recent terrorists have been claimed by Hamas as members, but the group has stopped short of claiming responsibility in most cases, aside from a deadly attack in Ariel late last month. Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar has been fingered by Israeli leaders and pundits for fiery speeches urging attacks and calls for his assassination growing louder in recent days, despite the near-certain possibility that it would spark a new war. However, the military does not believe Sinwar to be a major inciting factor driving the attacks, describing Hamas as reactionary, rather than enterprising. An Israeli hit on Sinwar or another senior Gaza terror leader would almost certainly spark a fresh round of hostilities, just a year after an 11-day war that left both Israel and the Palestinian enclave deeply scarred.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Attacks Military Base Outside Afgoye Town

“Al-Shabaab militants attack the government base in Sabid area of the Afgoye district in the Lower Shabelle region. The attack was followed by a fierce gun battle between the two sides, which resulted in casualties on both sides. Somali military officials say they have repulsed an Al-Shabaab attack and the situation is now calm. Most of the Lower Shabelle region is the scene of a series of attacks and clashes, which have caused various casualties.”

Mali

Reuters: Lawyers Ask ICC Not To Convict Accused Malian Islamist

“Lawyers for a Malian Islamist rebel accused of being central to the persecution of residents in Timbuktu and the destruction of the city's holy sites told judges at his war crimes trial he was wrongly targeted. “He should not be convicted because he happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong ethnicity,” defence lawyer Melinda Taylor said of her client Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz. According to prosecutors Al Hassan was a key member of the Ansar Dine Islamist group which controlled every aspect of daily life after their takeover of Timbuktu in 2012. Al Hassan headed an Islamic police force that terrorized the population of Timbuktu, the prosecutors say. He is charged with war crimes including torture and sexual slavery. As well as trying to impose sharia Islamic law across a divided Mali, the al Qaeda-linked fighters used pick-axes, shovels and hammers to shatter earthen tombs and centuries-old shrines reflecting the local Sufi version of Islam in what is known as the “City of 333 Saints”. Defence lawyers in their opening statement did not deny Al Hassan was a member of Ansar Dine. However, they painted him as a man simply trying to maintain order in a chaotic situation in Timbuktu after it was taken by the rebels. In addition the defence says Al Hassan has mental problems after being allegedly tortured while in detention in Mali before being sent to the ICC.”

Africa

Reuters: At Least 14 Dead In East Congo Refugee Camp Attack

“At least 14 people were killed in an overnight attack on a displaced persons camp in east Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri province, the latest violence in an area overrun by militants, the army and a civil society leader said on Tuesday. Rebels raided a site outside the eastern town of Fataki where hundreds of civilians have sought refuge in recent months, killing 14 people including children, army spokesman Jules Ngongo Tsikudi said. Civil society leader Dieudonne Lossa gave a provisional death toll of 15 and blamed a militant group known as CODECO, accused of staging another attack on a nearby artisanal mining site on Sunday that killed at least 35. Reuters was not able to reach CODECO for comment on Tuesday. The group is one of several armed militias, including an Islamic State affiliate, wrangling over land and resources in Congo's mineral-rich east - a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions over the past decade.”

Voice Of America: Cameroonian Villagers Protest Renewed Boko Haram Violence

“Villagers along Cameroon's northern border with Chad and Nigeria have been holding daily protests in front of government offices demanding that the military intervene and deploy troops in areas where attacks by Boko Haram have increased. Protesters say in the past three weeks alone, at least 35 villagers were killed after an alleged attack by the Islamist militant group. Village leaders blame Islamist fighters with the terrorist group Boko Haram for killing at least 35 people in the past three weeks and stealing livestock and food. They raised money for villagers to travel to the regional capital, Maroua to seek help from authorities. Pastor Joseph Bayoha of the Evangelical Church of Cameroon in Tourou, a village on the border with Nigeria, said villagers came to tell the governor that a day hardly goes by without reports of Boko Haram fighters abusing or killing civilians and stealing their food and cattle. Bayoha said villagers in Cameroon's north want the government to immediately deploy troops to protect them and their property and bring back peace, adding they feel abandoned by Cameroon's military and government to face Boko Haram alone. Village leaders said Boko Haram infiltrated the northern towns of Kolofata and Amchide and the villages of Tourou, Gambarou and Kumshe. Midjiyawa Bakari, Governor of Cameroon's Far North region, told state broadcaster Cameroon Radio Television villagers have not been abandoned by the military as they claim.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Terror-Accused Student Luke Skelton 'Ashamed' Of Past Views

“A student accused of preparing acts of terrorism told a jury he was “embarrassed and ashamed” of the extreme views he once held. Luke Skelton, 18, regarded his previous behaviour on chat rooms as “idiotic”, Teesside Crown Court heard. A jury has been told he wrote of wanting to build a bomb to attack a police station. Mr Skelton, of Washington, Tyne and Wear, denies preparing to commit terrorist acts. Crispin Aylett QC, defending, asked his client if he had any intention of carrying out terrorism, which the defendant denied. “By that I mean an act of serious violence, to damage property that would hurt people?'' Mr Aylett continued. Again, Mr Skelton replied: “No.” He said that with hindsight he felt “embarrassed and maybe ashamed” by his previously held racist, sexist and anti-Semitic beliefs. He was asked about a video downloaded to his phone, which had clips of Adolph Hitler, Nazi soldiers, swastika flags and scenes of World War Two, set to music from the film Ghostbusters. He told the court he did not believe he was a fascist and did not admire Hitler, and described the clips as “jokes”. The trial has previously heard the Gateshead College student wanted a “full-on war” and photographs and data from his phone suggested he had carried out a “reconnaissance” of police stations he intended to target.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On May 23, 2016, two suicide bombings at a military base in Aden, Yemen, killed at least 45 army recruits and injured approximately 60 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.   

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