Eye on Extremism: May 11, 2020

The Arab Weekly: Facebook Sparks Controversy By Naming Brotherhood Figure To Oversight Board

“Many social media users in the Middle East and North Africa region reacted to Facebook's selection of Karmanc with confusion and derision as the Yemeni writer is more known for her Islamist activism and divisive stances than for public service commitment. According to experts, Facebook is mainly driven by a desire to influence politicians and decision makers in the West so as to avoid regulatory restrictions that could impact its revenue. “Facebook continues to push specious arguments to create confusion and fear among lawmakers in an effort to maintain the status quo and limit the tech industry’s liability and responsibility,” said Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Executive Director David Ibsen. “Rather than dictating to public officials on how to keep the public safe, Zuckerberg and his company should instead halt their lobbying efforts and focus on keeping extremist and terrorist content off their platforms," he said. The choice of Karman to Facebook's advisory board will add to suspicions about the social media body's political leanings and is unlikely to enhance the company's credibility in the Arab world, experts say.”

Daily Mail: Counter Terrorism Police Fear ISIS Cells Are Being Reactivated To Plot Attacks Across Europe After Second Terror Arrest In Spain

“Counter terrorism police are investigating whether sleepers from Islamic State have been reactivated to carry out attacks around Europe. Spanish police have made two terror arrests in the past two weeks. The first was Britain's most wanted IS fugitive, Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary. This week police in Barcelona arrested an unnamed Moroccan who, according to The Mirror, was suspected of plotting to carry out a 'lone wolf' attack this weekend. The Mirror quoted Spain's Civil guard as saying the suspect was seen moving around Barcelona and 'appearing to search for possible objectives'. Bary, who has been linked to dead British ISIS executioner Jihadi John, is thought to have reached Spain by boat from Algeria and come ashore unnoticed just five days before his arrest. The 29-year-old once shared sickening social media images of himself holding a decapitated head in Syria in 2014 after becoming a Muslim extremist and leaving his London home. It has been reported Bary took advantage of Spain's coronavirus lockdown to hide behind a face mask on the rare occasions he left the property. On Friday Spain's Civil Guard said: 'The arrested man's radicalisation and affinity for Daesh (ISIS) dates back at least four years.”

United States

ABC News: Georgia Man's Death Raises Echoes Of US Racial Terror Legacy

“Many people saw more than the last moments of Ahmaud Arbery's life when a video emerged this week of white men armed with guns confronting the black man, a struggle with punches thrown, three shots fired and Arbery collapsing dead. The Feb. 23 shooting in coastal Georgia is drawing comparisons to a much darker period of U.S. history — when extrajudicial killings of black people, almost exclusively at the hands of white male vigilantes, inflicted racial terror on African Americans. It frequently happened with law enforcement complicity or feigned ignorance. The footage of Arbery’s death was not the only thing that rattled the nation’s conscience. It took more than two months for his pursuers — who told police they suspected he was a burglar — to be arrested and taken into custody. That is fueling calls for the resignation of local authorities who initially investigated the case and reforms of Georgia's criminal justice system. “The modern-day lynching of Mr. Arbery is yet another reminder of the vile and wicked racism that persists in parts of our country,” said the Rev. James Woodall, state president of the Georgia NAACP. “The slothfulness and inaction of the judicial system, in this case, is a gross testament to the blatant white racial privileges that permeates throughout our country and our institutions.”

New York Daily News: Staten Island Man Convicted Of Lying To Feds About Jihad Plans Wants To Get Out Of Prison To Avoid Coronavirus

“A Staten Island man convicted of lying to the feds about his plans to engage in violent jihad abroad wants to get out of his Pennsylvania prison to avoid coronavirus — but prosecutors say he’s not worthy of early release. Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, 30, wrote to a Brooklyn federal judge in late April that he was a changed man who feared he might die from the disease. “I was a naive, gullible 18-year-old at the time of my indicted actions,” he wrote in a handwritten application. “Arrested at 20 years young, I am now 30 years old — 45 weeks away from potential release and COVID-19 is proving to be a dangerous and potentially fatal obstacle.” But federal prosecutors noted Friday that only six inmates at Federal Correctional Institution, McKean in Lewis Run, Pa. had tested positive for COVID-19, and that none of those cases were currently “active.” They also argued that Shehaded’s pulmonary embolism did not put him at higher risk if he were to contract the virus. Shehaded flew to Pakistan in 2008, hoping to join al Qaeda or the Taliban. But when he denied entry, he told FBI investigators he was simply heading there to study at an Islamic school and attend a friend’s wedding, authorities said.”

Syria

ABC News: Militants Attack Syrian Troops On Edge Of Rebel Stronghold

“Al-Qaida-linked fighters attacked Syrian government positions Sunday on the edge of the country's last rebel stronghold, triggering intense clashes that killed nearly three dozen combatants across both sides, opposition activists said. The fighting was among the worst since early March, when an agreement between Turkey and Russia halted the Syrian government's three-month air and ground campaign into rebel-held northwestern Idlib province. Sunday's clashes took place in neighboring Hama province, parts of which are still under rebel control.Russia is a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Turkey backs opposition fighters trying to remove him from power. Russia and Turkey have become the main power brokers in war-torn Syria in recent years. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said members of the al-Qaida-linked group known as Horas al-Din attacked government forces in the Ghab plain area. It said the fighting left 21 troops and 13 Horas al-Din members dead. The Observatory and an Idlib-based activist, Taher al-Omar, said insurgents also took control of the village of Tanjara, and that Syrian government forces were heavily shelling the area in an apparent preparation for a counteroffensive.”

France 24: NW Syria Clashes Kill 22 In Highest Toll Since Truce: Monitor

“Clashes in northwest Syria killed 22 regime fighters and jihadists Sunday in the highest such death toll since the start of a two-month-old ceasefire there, a monitor said. A truce since March 6 had largely stemmed fighting in Syria's last major rebel bastion of Idlib after a months-long regime assault that killed hundreds of civilians and forced almost a million to flee. But before dawn on Sunday rebels attacked the positions of pro-regime fighters on the western flank of the jihadist-dominated region, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The clashes in the Sahl al-Ghab area killed 15 regime fighters as well as seven jihadists including from the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hurras al-Deen group, the Britain-based monitor said. “It's the highest death toll for fighters since the truce came into force,” said Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman, who relies on sources inside Syria. “There had been intermittent clashes and mutual bombardment between both sides before, but this is the most violent attack yet.” The Idlib region of some three million people is dominated by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, but other jihadists such as Hurras al-Deen and rebel groups are also present.”

Al Monitor: Civilian Killings In Syria Are A ‘Ticking Time Bomb,’ UN Commissioner Says

“The coronavirus pandemic has created an opening for the Islamic State (IS) and other armed groups to carry out more attacks on Syrian civilians, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said today.  “We are receiving more reports every day of targeted killings and bombings from one end of the country to the other, with many such attacks taking place in populated areas,” Michelle Bachelet said in a news release. “The deteriorating situation is a ticking time-bomb that must not be ignored.” “Various parties to the conflict in Syria, including [IS], appear to view the global focus on the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to regroup and inflict violence on the population,” she said. The UN Human Rights Office has documented an uptick in civilian killings across Syria during the month of April, with at least at least 35 deaths due to attacks involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs), compared with seven the month prior. Since the beginning of March, the UN office recorded 33 IED attacks, 26 of which occured in residential areas and seven in markets. A truck bombing in Afrin killed dozens, including at least 29 civilians, at a market in late April.”

Turkey

Daily Sabah: Over 1,300 Terrorists Killed In 2020, Defense Minister Says

“Turkish security forces have killed over 1,300 terrorists across five different operational areas since the beginning of 2020, the country's national defense minister said. In activities on Friday, a total of 17 terrorists in various regions were killed. The number of total terrorists eliminated in operational areas since Jan. 1 reached 1,359, Hulusi Akar said on Friday in a meeting with high-ranking commanders. While anti-terror measures are ongoing, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is also fighting the novel coronavirus, Akar underlined. “It is very important for us to continue these operations. At the same time, these areas where our soldiers are present should not be affected by this virus in any way. Extraordinary efforts are being made for this,” he added. Though the statement did not mention a specific terrorist group, Turkey has long been conducting operations against the YPG/PKK in the region. Turkish security forces regularly conduct counterterrorism operations in the eastern and southeastern provinces of Turkey where the PKK has attempted to establish a strong presence and bases. The TSK also carries out cross-border activities in northern Iraq, a region where PKK terrorists have hideouts from which to carry out attacks in Turkey, with particular attention paid to the targeting of high-level terrorists.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Afghan Officials: Taliban Attack On Army Checkpoint Kills 6

“The Taliban attacked an Afghan army checkpoint in eastern Laghman province, killing six soldiers and wounding five, the government said Monday. The insurgents claimed responsibility for the assault, which took place on Sunday night, just days after U.S. special envoy in new talks with the Taliban in Qatar reemphasized the need for a reduction in violence. The statement from the Afghan Defense Ministry said the troops pushed back the attackers, adding that the Taliban also suffered casualties but without providing specific figures. Last week, U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Taliban representatives in Doha, the capital of the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, where the insurgents maintain a political office. He stressed the need for a cease-fire, and after Doha, Khalilzad also visited Islamabad and New Delhi to discuss the Afghan peace process with Pakistani and Indian officials. On Monday, four bombs, one placed under a garbage bin and the other three by the roadside, went off in northern Kabul, wounding four civilians, including a child, Afghan officials said. The roadside bombs were spaced within 10-20 meters (yards) of one another, said Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz.”

The New York Times: This Afghan General Fought The Taliban For Years. Now He Has Joined Them.

“As a onetime police chief of the restive province of Farah in western Afghanistan, Gen. Abdul Jalil Bakhtawar was a dogged enemy of the Taliban. Even when he faded into retirement, he always had a foot in the war. The insurgents sent suicide bombers after him. His sons, one growing to lead the local assembly and another serving as deputy governor, were on the front lines. ٍWhen the assembly chief son died in a helicopter crash in a Taliban area, the insurgents took his body hostage for days. Despite that, in a shocking turn that officials say could hurt the security of Farah Province, the retired general switched sides on Sunday, joining the Taliban. The defection fits right into the Taliban’s propaganda push, as they focus on chipping away at the legitimacy of the Afghan government after signing a deal with the United States that has started the withdrawal of the American forces. It is also one of the highest-profile cases yet of how the two-decade war is splitting families, sometimes pitting fathers against sons. “We regret that the retired general has joined the enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan, and has chosen violence over a life of dignity,” said Tariq Aryan, the spokesman for Afghanistan’s interior ministry.”

Reuters: Taliban Blow Up Police Chief In Latest Afghanistan Attack

“Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgents killed a provincial police chief and two others in a roadside bomb attack, the local governor said on Friday, in the latest violence hindering a U.S.-brokered peace process. The blast took place late on Thursday in the southeastern province of Khost, killing police chief Sayed Ahmad Babazai, his secretary and another officer, as well as wounding another person, said governor Halim Fidai in a statement. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter the militants claimed responsibility for the attack. The United States, which ousted the Taliban from power in 2001 and wants to withdraw its forces and broker peace talks with the Afghan government, condemned the attack via its Embassy in Kabul. Since signing the deal with Washington in late February that paves the way for a U.S. troop withdrawal, the emboldened Taliban have mounted thousands of attacks and inflicted heavy casualties on Afghan security forces who now have less American support.”

ABC News: Family Of American Kidnapped In Afghanistan Fears US Leaving Him Behind; With Taliban Deal Stalled, Violence Surging

“The family of an American kidnapped in Afghanistan weeks before the U.S. and the Taliban signed a peace deal in late February is voicing fears that he will be left behind as the Trump administration pushes ahead with its implementation of an agreement to end the 18-year war. Their concerns come amid growing pressure from Republican and Democratic lawmakers on the administration to do more to ensure the release of Mark Frerichs, 57, of Lombard, Illinois, and to halt a dramatic increase in violence between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government. President Donald Trump has touted the deal for bringing American troops home. But even as the first few thousand U.S. troops leave, key conditions of the deal have not been met. Two months after the deal, peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban still haven't started, and the 80% reduction in violence that the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan spokesperson said the militants agreed to has been jettisoned, even as the novel coronavirus threatens to overtake the country. Frerichs is a longtime commercial contractor in Afghanistan who was abducted on Jan. 31.”

France 24: Afghan Capital Rocked By Four Bomb Blasts

“Four roadside bombs detonated in less than 90 minutes Monday in a northern district of Afghanistan's capital, wounding four civilians including a child, police said. Militants have carried out several roadside bombings and rocket attacks in Kabul and other parts of the country in recent weeks, but Monday morning's blasts appeared to be the first coordinated effort for some months. Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said a clearance team was at the site of the blasts, which had not yet been claimed by any group. The bombings were in an area where Afghanistan's intelligence agency recently busted a joint Islamic State-Haqqani network cell accused of carrying out several attacks. The Taliban has not carried out large attacks in Afghan cities since February, they signed a landmark withdrawal deal with the US meant to pave the way for peace. Under the agreement, the Taliban promised not to target forces from the US-led coalition, but made no such pledge toward Afghan troops. The insurgents have stepped up attacks in the provinces, however, as they seek to press their advantage amid stalled talks with the Afghan government.”

Voice Of America: Taliban Says It Is Unaware Of Missing US Contractor

“The Taliban said Friday it has conveyed to the United States the insurgent group is not holding an American hostage missing in Afghanistan. U.S. envoy for Afghan peace and reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has confirmed he called for the release of Mark Frerichs, a Navy veteran-turned contractor, in his meeting Wednesday with Qatar-based Taliban leaders. Meanwhile, Afghan officials said an insurgent-planted roadside bomb explosion in eastern Khost province killed the provincial police chief and his three security guards. The Taliban claimed responsibility for plotting the deadly attack. U.S. officials and family members say Frerichs was abducted in late January. No group in Afghanistan has since claimed responsibility in a country ravaged and mired by years of violence. “Yes, Dr. Khalilzad asked for his release and he has made similar requests in our previous meetings with him,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told VOA Friday. “But from our side, it has again been conveyed to him that Mark Frerichs is not with us, nor did we capture him,” said the insurgent official from the group’s political office in the Qatari capital of Doha.”

Voice Of America: Congressmen Question Taliban Commitment To February Agreement

“The top members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee say an increase in violence in Afghanistan has raised questions about the Taliban’s commitment to an agreement they signed with the United States in February. Representatives Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York, chairman of the committee, and Michael McCaul, a Republican from Texas, said the “dramatic increase” in violence in Afghanistan is an “unacceptable violation” of the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement signed February 29. “The Taliban’s continued attacks on Afghan forces make us question whether the Taliban will uphold its commitments, jeopardize progress towards peace and prevent negotiations from moving forward,” Engel and McCaul said in a joint statement Friday. The violence has coincided with the rapid spread of the coronavirus, and Engel and McCaul said that it has prevented Afghans from focusing on the health crisis. Engel and McCaul called on all parties to stop attacks immediately, agree to a cease-fire and support the road to peace. Their comments followed U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper's statement Tuesday that the Taliban were not living up to their commitments, adding that he also believed the Afghan government was not living up to its commitment.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Pakistan Army: Roadside Bomb In Remote Area Kills 6 Troops

“A roadside bombing in a remote area in southwestern Pakistan, close to the border with Iran, struck a patrol vehicle on Friday, killing six soldiers, including an army major, the military said. A statement from the military said the attack happened as the troops, assigned to look for smuggling routes and militants, were returning to camp from a mountainous border district of Baluchistan province. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in the Keck district, but such attacks are common across Baluchistan and in its capital, Quetta. The province has for years been the scene of a low-level insurgency by separatists who complain of discrimination and demand a fairer share of the province’s resources and wealth. Militants also have a presence in the province.”

Libya

Al Jazeera: Libya: Tripoli Sustains Massive Rocket Attack; Planes Ablaze

“Shelling of Tripoli's airport hit fuel tanks and damaged passenger planes after forces loyal to Libya's renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar fired dozens of rockets into Tripoli. Six people were killed and dozens of others wounded in the attacks, the interior ministry said in a statement, which included as many as 80 rocket strikes. The transport ministry said one of the damaged planes was preparing to fly to Spain to retrieve Libyans stranded in Europe by the coronavirus lockdown. Video shared by an airport worker showed black smoke billowing over the apron. Photographs showed shrapnel damage sprayed across the nose of a passenger plane. The attack on Saturday was the latest to target Mitiga International Airport in Libya's capital, the seat of the country's internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). Haftar's eastern-based forces have been trying to seize Tripoli since April last year. Al Jazeera's Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Tripoli, said plumes of black smoke were seen billowing over the airport.”

Africa

Associated Press: Militants Increasing Attacks On Burkina Faso Mines

“Jihadists burst into the gold mine where Moussa Tambura worked in Burkina Faso, forbidding everyone from smoking and drinking. It wasn’t long before the men returned and leveled the place to the ground. “They attacked the site, killed people and burned houses,” said Tambura, 29, clenching his fists. He was able to find work again after fleeing to Bouda, another town in country’s north that still has small-scale mining. Still, he struggles to provide for his family since his new job isn’t as lucrative as his old one. Jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State organization have been overrunning gold mines like Tambura’s one by one as they try to gain control of Burkina Faso’s most lucrative industry. The extremists are then collecting a “protection tax” from communities living around the gold mines and also forcing the miners to sell them the gold exclusively, which is then smuggled and sold across the border in places like Benin, Ghana or Togo. The violence already has shuttered many small mines across the volatile north and the government also has tried to shut down other small-scale mines in the east so that they can’t be used by extremists to finance more attacks. Mining Minister Oumarou Idani has called the measure a necessary step in the “fight against terrorism.”

Long War Journal: Analysis: Islamic State Claims Al-Qaeda Started A War In West Africa

“The Islamic State claims in the latest edition of its weekly Al-Naba newsletter that al-Qaeda started a “war” against the so-called caliphate’s men in West Africa. Independent reporting confirms that the two sides have clashed in recent weeks. Al-Naba’s editors say that al-Qaeda’s men “never miss the chance for treachery,” as they recently “started a war against” the caliphate’s men in the middle of a “raging Crusader campaign.” In other words, the Islamic State accuses al-Qaeda of launching attacks on its fighters as they were battling the “Crusader” France and its allies. Al-Qaeda’s branch in West Africa, the Group for Support of Islam and Muslims (or “JNIM”), has a significant presence in Mali and the surrounding countries. JNIM grew out of an al-Qaeda effort to embed the jihadist’s cause within the fabric of local movements and organizations. And Al-Naba’s authors accuse JNIM of working with local parties to get the upper hand in the intra-jihadist rivalry. Al-Naba’s authors write that al-Qaeda’s men “organized their armed movements and fronts in northern Mali” from “all kinds” of groups, including both those who are opposed to the “apostate government” and those who are “loyal to it.”

The Trumpet: Oil Price Crash Destabilizes Africa, Middle East

“Terrorists are poised on the southern and eastern borders, ready to take advantage of internal chaos. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has posed a persistent threat since 2007, carrying out over 600 terrorist attacks to date. “Algeria has a long history of combating domestic violent extremism,” wrote the Counter Extremism Project. “Beginning with the outbreak of the Algerian Civil War in 1992, the government has worked to quash militant Islamist groups operating within in its borders, including the Armed Islamic Group (gia) and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (gspc), among others.” After the Arab Spring, Algeria once again began to experience an increase in violence, proving that the forces of radical Islam never went away. A cash-starved government, unable to maintain a level of social spending that the population is used to, could leave the door open to an Islamist revival. Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer. This accounts for 9 percent of its gross domestic product, 60 percent of its revenue, and 90 percent of its foreign exchange. It now faces an “existential threat,” according to the Wall Street Journal.”

Germany

Al Jazeera: German ISIL Supporter Targeted Turkish Businesses

“Authorities in southern Germany say a 25-year-old man arrested on suspicion of attacking Turkish-owned grocery stores told investigators he considers himself a supporter of the armed group ISIL (ISIS). Prosecutor Georg Freutsmiedl said on Sunday the suspect declared he acted out of “hatred for Turks”. He is suspected of carrying out four attacks since April in the town of Waldkraiburg, about 60km (25 miles) east of Munich. Six people were injured in the firebombing of a grocery store, while the other attacks involved stones being thrown through shop windows. He smashed the windows of a barbershop, a restaurant, and a snack bar in the town. Freutsmiedl said the man, who was arrested on Friday, will be charged with 27 cases of attempted murder, serious arson, and serious bodily harm. The suspect was detained by chance after being caught without a valid public transportation ticket. Police said they found 10 pipe bombs in his luggage and evacuated the station. According to Freutsmiedl, the man called himself a follower of ISIL and had tried to join the group. He was planning further attacks on Turkish institutions. Investigators later found 13 more pipe bombs in a car at a garage and 10 kilogrammes (22 pounds) of a chemical substance that could be used to make bombs.”

Deutsche Welle: Germany: Politicians Worry About Radicalization At Anti-Lockdown Protests

“German lawmakers from across the political spectrum on Monday warned that the growing wave of anti-lockdown protests could provide fertile ground for radicalization, including from the far-right. Over the weekend, thousands of people gathered in cities across Germany to demand an end to restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. “Looking away and silence do not help,” said Saskia Eskens, leader of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the junior coalition partners to Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats (CDU). Speaking with the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper consortium, Eskens said now was the time to actively resist conspiracy theorists and extremist groups trying to capitalize on lockdown cabin fever. “We have to show ourselves to be pugnacious democrats,” she said. The CDU also spoke out about the possibility radical ideologies were being promoted through the demonstrations. “We will not let extremists misuse the coronavirus crisis as a platform for their anti-democratic propaganda,” CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak told the Augsburger Allgeimeine daily.”

Europe

The Independent: Norway Terror Suspect ‘Regrets’ Not Killing More People In Attack On Mosque

“A Norwegian man suspected of murdering his ethnic Chinese stepsister before opening fire in an Oslo mosque has said he was “ashamed” he did not cause more harm. Philip Manshaus told his trial, which began on Thursday, that the attack was an act of “emergency justice”. The 22-year-old denied the charges of murder and terror read to him by a prosecutor, reported Norwegian news agency NTB. Manshaus acknowledged the facts but denied the accusation. He reiterated his far-right beliefs, including opposing non-western immigration and claiming that white Europeans are subjected to genocide and “will end up as a minority in their own home countries”. As he entered the court, Manshaus held up a hand to signal the “OK” sign, a gesture appropriated by far-right white supremacists as a way to signify “white power”. Manshaus also said he was inspired by a number of terrorists, including New Zealand terrorist Brenton Tarrant, who killed 51 people in attacks on two mosques last March, and Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in the 2011 Norway attacks. Swedish-language newspaper Aftenposten reported he also cited Adolf Hitler as a “role model” for himself. Manshaus described in his testimony how he killed his 17-year-old stepsister, Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen, who was adopted by his family from China when she was two.”

Southeast Asia

Deccan Chronicle: ISIS Magazine Tries To Instigate Indian Muslims On CAA-NRC

“While ISIS has vast plans in South Asian region, it has thus far not had much influence in India except for a few stray individual cases of radicalization and formation of some modules, which were quickly busted by the security agencies. However, this is the first time that an online ISIS publication with specific focus on India has surfaced, for which an organization called Al-Qitaal Media Centre by Junudul Khilafaah al-Hind, identifying itself as a pro-ISIS group, has taken credit. The propaganda has been tracked by security agencies on various platforms like Rocket Chat, pdfhost, Internet Archive, Mediafire and Nextcloud. “Indian Muslims are the target audience for Voice of Hind magazine, of which there are currently three issues. The magazine attempts to appeal to Indian Muslims by trying to make a case for ISIS, comparing violence against Muslims in India to the losses suffered by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and portraying Indian governmental policy as anti-Muslim. The magazine seeks to inculcate a sense of injustice that can be rectified through violence,” a researcher at the Counter Extremism Project which tracks extremists in South Asia told this newspaper. The first two issues of Voice of Hind, released on February 24 and March 25, had focused on the Jammu & Kashmir issue and violence against Muslims in other parts of India.”

Technology

The Brussels Times: Extremist Groups Are Using Coronavirus To Push Fake News On Social Media, Report Warns

“Extremist organisations in Belgium are leveraging the coronavirus pandemic to flood social media with fake news to turn populations against each other, the intelligence agency warned. A report published by Belgium’s State Security Service (VSSE) warns of a slew of disinformation, inflammatory rhetoric about the pandemic posted online by extremist groups or individuals who shared a clear anti-immigration stance. The VSSE and the military intelligence agency ADIV/SGRS identified “various right-wing extremist individuals and groups” which were “spreading conspiracy theories via social media and using the Covid-19 crisis to set populations against each other.” Several right-wing organisations such as the Knights of Flanders and the Francophone far-right party NATION are cited by the report dated 21 April. The agencies warned that the groups used a “mixture of facts and fake news and a far-right framing” to bolster messages charged with anti-immigration and anti-Muslim rhetoric and also aimed at undermining the government and the medical community. The report cited the example of an anti-vax conspiracy theory being spread by the Kings of Flanders, according to which the virus causing the current pandemic could be traced back to the flu vaccine.”