Eye on Extremism: May 12, 2022

The Washington Post: ISIS In Africa Behind A Surge In Terrorist Attacks, Officials Say

“The Islamic State’s regional affiliates in Africa are carrying out lethal attacks at a tempo far surpassing that of the parent organization that once ruled large swaths of Iraq and Syria, Morocco’s chief diplomat said Wednesday at a meeting of the global alliance battling the militant group. Sub-Saharan Africa, home to several branches of the Islamic State, now accounts for nearly half of all deaths worldwide attributed to the terrorist group, Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said. “We remain lucid on the state of the ISIS threat, which has not diminished,” said Bourita, whose country is hosting a conference of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. He said that sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 48 percent, or 3,461, of the deaths worldwide attributed to ISIS in 2021. “Today, 27 terrorist entities based in Africa are registered on the U.N. Security Council sanction list,” Bourita said. “This is a clear indicator of their connections to major global terrorist groups.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken had planned to attend the meeting here, but canceled after testing positive for covid-19. Victoria Nuland, undersecretary for political affairs, and Yael Lempert, acting assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, led the U.S. delegation.”

Washington Examiner: Intelligence Community Chiefs Give Update On Afghan Terrorist Threat

“Terrorist organizations within Afghanistan’s borders are still roughly a year or more away from having the capability to launch attacks against Western countries, though intelligence officials remain concerned about the possibility. Defense officials told lawmakers in the fall that groups like al Qaeda and Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) could gain that ability within six to 12 months, but Defense Department and intelligence leaders have pushed that back. Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday and said the threat from ISIS-K could take “a year, slightly longer, and longer for al Qaeda.” He is “more concerned about ISIS-K in Afghanistan and the fact that they have had known successful and catastrophic attacks in Canada, which does not portend well for the future,” the DIA chief explained. “Al Qaeda has had some problems with reconstituting leadership, and to a degree, the Taliban have held to their word about not allowing al Qaeda [to] rejuvenate,” Berrier added. “But it’s something that we’re watching very, very carefully.” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, who testified alongside Berrier, agreed with his assessment, acknowledging that ISIS-K is “the more concerning threat.”

United States

ABC News: Jury Returns Mixed Verdict In New York Terrorism Case

“A Manhattan federal court jury returned a mixed verdict Wednesday in the trial of a New Jersey software developer who authorities say researched and photographed U.S. landmarks for possible attacks. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on one terrorism charge — providing material support for a terrorist group — but found Alexei Saab, 44, had received military-type training from Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization, which is based in Lebanon. Saab was also found guilty of conspiring to commit marriage fraud and making false statements. The Morristown, New Jersey, resident was exonerated on three other charges after a two-week trial. Saab’s lawyer, Marlon Kirton, said much of the evidence came from what Saab himself told FBI investigators that was “un-credible, crazy, unsubstantiated information,” and which can’t be considered reliable. Saab spoke with the FBI in 11 sessions over several weeks prior to his 2019 arrest, but was never read his rights, Kirton said in an email after the verdict. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams highlighted the jury’s unanimous verdict that Saab was trained by a terrorist organization. “The evidence at trial showed that Saab surveilled some of New York’s most iconic and highly trafficked locations,” Williams said in a statement, “in order to provide critical intelligence on how they could be most effectively attacked.”

Syria

Voice Of America: Global Coalition Warns No Rest For Fight Against Islamic State

“Nearly three years after U.S.-backed forces in Syria seized the last remaining territory held by Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate, members of the global coalition charged with eradicating the terror group warn their task is not getting any easier. Despite IS’s loss of several key leaders and intelligence that suggests a dwindling number of fighters in the core areas of Iraq and Syria, coalition members say the reputation and ideology of the group — also known as ISIS or by the Arabic acronym of Daesh — continues to hold its affiliates together while fostering its growth. Officials attending Wednesday’s ministerial in Marrakesh, Morocco, say nowhere is the threat more worrisome than in Africa, where a joint coalition communiqué described IS as an “evolving threat.” “Our shared assessment of the dangerous rise of terrorist threat in Africa has led to the emergence of a tailored approach of the coalition's support to the African continent,” Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said following the meeting. The United States, which co-hosted the ministerial with Morocco, emphasized the need to strengthen African members of the Defeat ISIS coalition with what U.S. officials have called a civilian-focused approach.”

Iraq

Al Jazeera: Iran’s IRGC Shells ‘Terrorist Positions’ In Iraq’s Erbil

“Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has shelled an area in Erbil in neighbouring Iraq, targeting positions it said were held by “terrorist groups”. The IRGC ground forces launched artillery fire on Iraq’s northern Kurdish regional capital early on Wednesday, according to the semi-official Tasnim news website. There have been no reports of casualties in the shelling. The IRGC’s website said in a statement that its ground forces dismantled an Erbil-based “terrorist team” inside Iran a day earlier and five members of the team were arrested in Baneh near Iran’s western border with Iraq. Based on their confessions about plans to engage in “sabotage” operations in Iran, it said, the IRGC ground forces moved to target their bases in northern Iraq. In mid-March, the IRGC launched ballistic missiles towards an area in Erbil which it said housed an Israeli “strategic centre”. It also warned that any further attacks by Israel will be met with a “harsh, decisive and destructive response”. The missile launches had come after Israel killed two IRGC members in Syria in an air attack. There were also unconfirmed reports of an Israeli attack on a base in western Iran, which allegedly targeted Iranian drones.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Journalist's Death Will Become Excuse For Terror Attacks On Israel - Editorial

“The killing of veteran Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh during a firefight between IDF soldiers and Palestinians in Jenin is a tragedy.  Journalists doing their job should be protected, even in the most dangerous situations. The death of the 51-year-old, whose face is familiar to millions of viewers around the Arabic world, is a tragedy, as are the deaths of all journalists who have been caught in the crossfire and killed while reporting from conflict and war zones around the world. Abu Akleh held American citizenship, and US Ambassador Tom Nides called for a “thorough investigation in the circumstances” of her death. We support Nides call, but there are problems. First, some are wildly casting blame on Israel before an investigation has even begun. Second, the Palestinians are not willing to cooperate with Israel in a joint investigation. A high-profile journalist lies dead on the street where a firefight took place and the conclusion immediately drawn by Palestinians and their supporters, with no questions asked, is that Israel killed her – and did so intentionally. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared immediately that Israel bears full responsibility for her death. Palestinian politician Hanan Ashrawi tweeted that Abu Akleh was “shot & murdered by the Israeli occupation army.”

The Jerusalem Post: Attempted Stabbing Attack Thwarted In Jerusalem's Old City

“An attempted stabbing attack was thwarted near the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon, after a terrorist who attempted to stab a police officer was shot. According to police, a suspect arrived at the Cotton Merchants' Gate of the Temple Mount and ran at soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar” and moving his hands in stabbing and assault motions. Police officers responded with fire and neutralized the suspect. No Israeli forces were injured. The suspect was a Palestinian resident of the West Bank. The suspect received initial treatment at the scene and was transferred for further treatment in critical condition. An investigation into the incident is being conducted. Police did not state if the Palestinian was armed. Police officers entered the Temple Mount shortly after the attempted attack and clashed with Arab worshippers at the site. The attempted terrorist attack comes just days after a stabbing attack injured a Border Police officer at the Damascus Gate of the Old City and an attempted terrorist attack in Tekoa was thwarted by a resident who shot a Palestinian armed with a knife who was trying to jump over the fence of his home. The attempted attack also comes just hours after Al-Jazeera correspondent Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed during armed clashes between Palestinians and IDF troops in Jenin.”

Egypt

ABC News: Egypt Says Officer, 4 Troops Killed In Fighting In Sinai

“Fighting on Wednesday in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula left an officer and four troops dead, the military said, just days after an attack there killed 11 forces. In a statement, the military's spokesman said the forces had been killed during a clash with militants, and that it came after airstrikes in recent days. The military claimed that at least seven extremists had been killed in the same bout of fighting. Two security officials said the clashes took place after militants attacked a checkpoint belonging to the country's border guards near the city of Rafah, on the country's Mediterranean coast that borders the Gaza Strip. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to media. Saturday's attack, one of the deadliest on Egyptian security forces in recent years, was claimed by the Islamic State group. Egypt is battling an insurgency in Sinai that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. The extremists have carried out scores of attacks, mainly targeting security forces and Christians, but the pace has slowed in recent years. On April 30, suspected militants blew up a natural gas pipeline in Northern Sinai’s town of Bir al-Abd, causing a fire but no casualties.”

Nigeria

Reuters: Gunmen Kill Seven Nigerian Soldiers In Ambush On Army Patrol -Sources

“At least seven soldiers were killed and two others were missing in Nigeria after they were ambushed by gunmen while on patrol in the eastern state of Taraba, two military sources said on Wednesday. The attack occurred on Tuesday night when troops from the 93 Battalion came under heavy fire in the village of Tati in the Takum local government area of Taraba. A brigadier general and his aide were missing after the attack, the sources said. “Right now a search and rescue operation is ongoing,” said an army source from the 93 battalion who declined to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media. There was no claim of responsibility for the attack. An army spokesman did not immediately respond to calls for comment. Taraba suffered two separate bombings last month that were claimed by Islamic State militants and killed at least three people and injured more than 30. read more For more than a decade, Nigeria has grappled with an Islamist insurgency that has targeted communities and security forces in northern parts of the country.”

Daily Mail: Knife-Wielding ISIS Fanatics Execute 20 Christians In Nigeria 'To Avenge The Killing Of The Group's Leaders In The Middle East'

“ISIS extremists have callously executed 20 Christians in Nigeria in a bloodthirsty rampage to 'avenge the killing of the group's leaders in the Middle East'. The terrorist group published footage of the ruthless killings, showing the masked knife and gun-wielding fanatics standing behind their kneeling victims. The militants carried out the merciless executions in Borno state where rival Islamist groups Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) have been abducting, looting and killing on a huge scale. Footage of the latest massacre shows one of the executioners saying in the Hausa language that the killings are a response to ISIS deaths in the Middle East earlier this year. It was published on a terrorist-linked outlet and shows three groups of captives wearing civilian clothes.  It comes after Islamic rebels killed at least seven people in an attack in northeast Borno last week. The rebels attacked Kautukari village in the Chibok area at the same time that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in the state to meet with survivors of jihadi violence. The Chibok area is 70 miles away from Maiduguri, the state capital, where Guterres met with former militants being reintegrated back into the society and thousands of people displaced by the insurgency. They came in large number with superior firepower (and) took over the community,' said Hassan Chibok, a community leader.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Global Coalition Preparing 'Holistic' Assault On Islamic State In Africa

“Overshadowed for months by Russia's war in Ukraine, the ever-present threat from Islamic State is again being thrust onto the global stage, with the United States voicing hope that it is not too late to prevent the terror group from turning yet another continent into a dangerous playground. Officials from 85 countries and a handful of organizations, including the Arab League, NATO and Interpol, are in Marrakech, Morocco, this week for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS' first ministerial in Africa. Co-hosted by Morocco and the U.S., the meeting will focus on “ways to sustain pressure on ISIS remnants globally,” according to a State Department statement issued Tuesday. But U.S. officials who spoke to VOA prior to Wednesday's ministerial said that much of the focus will be on Africa, where the threat from Islamic State, also known to coalition members as ISIS, IS and Daesh, has been percolating. “It's a very serious threat,” said Doug Hoyt, the acting deputy envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. “We're talking thousands [of fighters].” “Most troubling is the ISIS affiliates that are currently active in the sub-Saharan continent because the numbers are extraordinary, and they have a lot of territory to play around with,” he said.”

Al Jazeera: Togo: Eight Soldiers Killed In Attack By Suspected ‘Terrorists’

“Eight soldiers have been killed and 13 wounded in an attack in northern Togo, the government said, marking potentially the first deadly raid on its territory by armed groups who have killed thousands in neighbouring countries. Before dawn on Wednesday, a group of heavily armed gunmen ambushed an army post in the Kpendjal prefecture near the border with Burkina Faso, the government said in a statement. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The government blamed “terrorists”, without providing specifics. Security analysts said the attack was likely carried out by a local al-Qaeda affiliate that is based in Mali but in recent years has spread south into Burkina Faso. Groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda have carried out hundreds of attacks across the Sahel region of West Africa in recent years, focusing mainly on the landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. Togo has so far been spared the violence, which has forced millions to flee their homes, but security experts have warned about a spread in operations that could encompass coastal states like Togo. In 2018, Togo’s military launched an operation to stop armed groups ghosting in from the north. Security forces repelled an attack by gunmen on an outpost in the same area as Wednesday’s attack in November, without sustaining casualties.”

United Kingdom

The National: Terrorists Embrace Climate Change To Fuel Extremist Violence

“The climate crisis could lead to a rising threat of catastrophic terrorist attacks sparked by a new refugee crisis as people are forced to flee their homes, researchers warned. Climate change has inflamed tensions in flashpoint areas with the deadly effects of human conflict expected to increase in parallel with increased natural disasters, extreme weather conditions and the loss of cultivatable land, according to a new report. The study, by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (Start), said that violent extremist groups were trying to radicalise people who had lost their livelihoods to climate change. Far-right groups have also embraced “eco-fascism” to exploit culture clashes between ethnic groups as populations are forced to leave their traditional homes in a search for new land to ensure their long-term survival. The greatest driver of climate-change-linked terrorism comes from the expected surge of refugees and the struggle for control of scarce resources, Bill Braniff, the director of Start, told an online insurance conference. “This is a recipe for incredibly violent outcomes,” he told a session of the annual conference of The International Forum of Terrorism Risk (Re)Insurance Pools (Iftrip).”

BBC News: Birmingham Man Jailed For Sharing Extremist Videos

“A man has been jailed for possessing and sharing extremist videos. Musa Muhammad, 30, from Dunsink Road in Witton, Birmingham, was sentenced to five years in prison at the city's crown court on Friday. He admitted three charges of possessing and sending extremist videos at a hearing in March. Muhammad will also have to keep the police informed about his address and other details once he is released. “We cannot underestimate the dangerous nature of extremist propaganda and the influence it can have,” Det Chief Supt Mark Payne said. “Which is why it is so important to hold to account those who share with others such social media posts.”

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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