Eye on Extremism: May 18, 2020

The New York Times: Rwandan Genocide Suspect Arrested After 23 Years On The Run

“He was behind the radio station whose hate-filled invectives turned Rwandan against Rwandan, neighbor against neighbor, even spouse against spouse. He was the man, it was said, who imported the hundreds of thousands of machetes that allowed countless ordinary people to act upon that hatred in one of the last genocides of the past century. One of the most-wanted fugitives of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Félicien Kabuga, was arrested Saturday morning in a rented home just outside Paris, protected by his children, the French authorities said. The capture of Mr. Kabuga, 84, who was living under a false identity, was the culmination of a decades-long international hunt across many countries on at least two continents. His arrest — considered the most important apprehension by an international tribunal in the past decade — could help bring long-awaited justice for his actions more than a generation after the killing of at least 800,000 and perhaps as many as one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in the small central African nation His trial could also help unravel some of the enduring mysteries of the killings, particularly how much planning went into the genocide, which also led to a catastrophic war in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and continues to destabilize much of central Africa today.”

Atlanta Journal Constitution: Georgia Candidates Embrace Group With Extremist Ties

“A Georgia state representative running for Congress is facing criticism from across the political spectrum for a photo showing him alongside a longtime white supremacist activist from Dahlonega. The photo shows Rep. Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger, with Chester Doles, a Georgia man with longstanding ties to numerous white supremacist organizations, including the National Alliance and Hammerskins, a racist skinhead gang. It was taken earlier this year at a meeting of American Patriots USA, a group founded by Doles last year in an attempt to appeal to more mainstream conservatives in the region. Other candidates for office in Georgia also appeared in the photograph with Doles, though none as high profile as Gurtler.The photo has been on the internet for weeks, circulated by a left-wing, anti-racist group based in Atlanta, among others. Now, Gurtler has been called out by a rival Republican also running for the 9th Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. and GOP Senate candidate Doug Collins.”As a Christian, I’m repulsed by bigotry and hatred in all forms, and racism has no place in our state or in the 9th District,” said State Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville. “North Georgians are decent, faithful and hard-working people. They deserve elected leaders who reflect that, not those who would embarrass us with their poor judgment.”

United States

The Washington Post: Far-Right Groups Are Spreading Racist, False Claims About Shooting Victim Ahmaud Arbery, Analysts Say

“Far-right and neo-Nazi groups are spreading racist and false information about a black jogger who was fatally shot in Georgia to promote their agendas on social media platforms, according to organizations that monitor online extremist activity. The campaigns gained traction after the release this month of a video showing the moments before Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was shot dead in February. Two white men were arrested and charged in the shooting after the video drew widespread attention to the incident. Some of the online posts, which include racist language, memes and graphics, claim that Arbery was carrying a hammer and wearing boots when he was killed, as the groups try to create false narratives about his death, analysts said. In the video, Arbery is wearing a white T-shirt, shorts and running shoes. Security footage shows a man in similar clothing who is believed to be Arbery entering a house under construction just before the shooting. The owner of the property has said nothing was stolen from the site. “The most remarkable finding is that an alternate narrative was created, most notably that Arbery was carrying a hammer and wearing Timberland boots — two claims which CCTV footage and mainstream media reporting does not support,” said a senior terrorism analyst for the Middle East Media Research Institute, which is collecting information related to the case.”

Chicago Tribune: Michigan Man Charged With Terrorism In Death Threats To Gov. Gretchen Whitmer And Attorney General Dana Nessel

“A man accused of making credible death threats against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel has been charged on a terrorism count, the Wayne County prosecutor's office said Friday. Robert Tesh made the threats via a social media message to an acquaintance on April 14 and authorities concluded the message amounted to “credible threats to kill,” prosecutor Kym Worthy said Friday in a news release. She didn't provide any detail about the threats or how they were determined to be credible. Further details will be presented during court proceedings, she said. Detroit police officers arrested the 32-year-old man the same day at his home. He was arraigned April 22 on a threat of terrorism charge. If convicted, Tesh could face up to 20 years in prison. “Emotions are heightened on all sides now,” she told The Associated Press Friday. “These threats ... they are not funny. They are not jokes. There is nothing humorous about it. Even if you don’t carry it out, we’re going to charge you criminally.” The threats from Tesh were not specific to Whitmer’s stay-at-home order issued in March in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the state, according to Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office.”

Newsweek: Federal Grand Jury Indicts Pakistan Doctor For Attempting To Provide Support To ISIS

“Muhammad Masood of Minnesota was indicted by a federal grand jury in Minneapolis on Monday of attempting to provide material support to the terrorist faction ISIS, according to a statement Friday from the Department of Justice. Masood, who is licensed to practice medicine in Pakistan, had been working as a research coordinator at a medical clinic in Rochester, Minnesota under a temporary visa. In the complaint against Masood, he was accused of wanting to carry out “lone wolf” terrorist actions against the U.S. and travel to Syria to join ISIS. He also allegedly claimed his allegiance to the terrorist organization. Masood attempted to leave the U.S. in February by purchasing a plane ticket to Jordan in February. After Jordan shut down its borders in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Masood made other arrangements. When Masood entered the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport in March on his way to Los Angeles, he was arrested. Masood believed his contact in Los Angeles would assist him with transport to “ISIS territory,” according to the statement from the DOJ. Newsweek reached out to the DOJ for further comment. This story will be updated with any response. According to the criminal complaint filed in March with the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Masood had requested help from an anonymous individual with “Hijra,” a process by which an individual migrates to ISIS territory in order to participate in its activities.”

The Economist: America’s Far Right Is Energised By Covid-19 Lockdowns

“The spreading of conspiracy theories is central to the extreme right’s activities. Some claim the virus is a hoax. Others blame the Chinese, the Jews or even Bill Gates. Some claim that the federal government is using the virus as a pretext to confiscate weapons and enforce “medical martial law”. Extremists also spread more familiar conspiracy theories, decrying 5G networks and vaccinations, which help introduce the uninitiated to their ideology. Lockdowns fit this recruitment agenda. Stuck at home with money running short, people might become “more receptive to these movements”, warns Joshua Fisher-Birch, of the Counter-Extremism Project, an NGO. The far right is making use of online platforms such as Facebook, Gab and Telegram to spread its message to this captive audience. They use an ever-changing litany of memes, ranging from George Washington dressed as one of their ranks to Ronald McDonald with a machine gun on his lap. They also have a significant presence in the online gaming world, which helps them attract young recruits.”


Associated Press: 7 Islamic State Militants Escape Jail In NE Syria; 4 Caught

“Seven members of the Islamic State group escaped from a small prison in northeast Syria on Sunday, with four recaptured and a search continuing for the remaining three, said Syrian state media and an official with the main Kurdish-led U.S.-backed force in the region. The militants fled from a jail on the edge of the town of Al-Hol, home to a sprawling camp where tens of thousands of IS wives, widows and children live, said state news agency SANA and a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, Mervan Qamishlo. The prison is separate from the camp. Kurdish authorities currently operate more than two dozen detention facilities scattered across northeastern Syria, holding about 10,000 IS fighters. Among the detainees are some 2,000 foreigners whose home countries have refused to repatriate them, including about 800 Europeans. Qamishlo said the SDF had caught four escaped inmates and were conducting search operations to find the others. He did not give the nationalities of the militants. Earlier this month, imprisoned IS members rioted and took control of a prison in the northeastern Syrian of Hassakeh for several hours, until Kurdish-led authorities negotiated an end to the unrest.”


Al Monitor: In Shadow Of COVID-19, US-Led Battle Against Islamic State Continues

“The latest quarterly report by the Department of Defense Inspector General on Operation Inherent Resolve, the US military operation to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS), reveals how the coronavirus pandemic may have given IS a breather, if a temporary one, to pick up its operations. The terrorist group remains a “low-level insurgency,” unable to hold territory, according to the report. But there are some worrying signs. While US-Iraq security cooperation is likely to deepen, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US on-the-ground partner against IS in Syria, is under pressure and increasingly constrained by its conflict with Turkey, as well as the coronavirus. As we wrote back in January, the US campaign against IS does not always get the credit it deserves. A so-called narrative of a US retrenchment from the Middle East sometimes skates over an overwhelming success, and it shouldn’t. In 2014, the so-called IS caliphate had overrun large chunks of Iraq and Syria, including Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, ruling with unspeakable terror in the name of Islamic law. The Obama administration assembled an international and regional coalition, spearheaded a relentless military campaign using air power and Special Operations Forces, partnered effectively with the SDF in Syria and bucked up Iraqi security forces, which had initially suffered some withering defeats.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraq Places New Strategy On Fighting ISIS

“With the strategic dialogue between Baghdad and Washington kicking off next month, Iraq announced a new strategy for fighting the terrorist organization ISIS. Iraqi General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, in his first speech since being appointed head of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), has vowed to crush ISIS. He said the CTS will launch new operations west of Kirkuk and near Mosul. This will include the governorates of Nineveh and Salahuddin. “The anti-terrorist units will have a big role in chasing extremist organizations,” Saadi said. “We have plans to eliminate these organizations according to timetables,” he added. Saadi also noted that the CTS will coordinate with the international coalition the way it did during the war on ISIS. This includes the exchange of intelligence, air support and other technical aspects. Saadi explained that Iraq is currently facing a critical stage in terms of security and economy, which calls for the development of quick solutions, stressing that “the CTS has responsibilities towards protecting the security of the state and the citizen from any future terrorist threats.” The CTS forces and Saadi are considered legendary in Iraq. However, he was pushed aside in September because of political wrangling in Baghdad.”

Kurdistan 24: Over A Dozen Iraqi Forces, Civilians Killed Or Wounded In ISIS Attacks In 4 Provinces

“Members of the so-called Islamic State launched a series of new attacks on Iraqi security forces and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) on Friday in Kirkuk, Diyala, Salahuddin, and Baghdad provinces, resulting in several casualties, informed sources said on Saturday. This marks the latest wave of attacks by the terrorist group, which has mainly focused its operations in the vicinity of territories disputed between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal Iraqi government. These areas have long suffered what Kurdish officials have described as a “security vacuum,” which Islamic State remnants have exploited to continue waging an insurgency, attacking security forces outposts and civilians. The incidents come after days of crop fires that tore through hundreds of acres of land across the country, including in Kirkuk province. Locals suspect Islamic State remnants have been behind at least some of the Kirkuk fires. On Wednesday, the Global anti-Islamic State Coalition carried out an airstrike on a cave in the southwestern desert of Hatra, Nineveh province, reportedly killing at least seven members of the terrorist group. This marked the latest of recent Coalition efforts against the militant group amid a general uptick in terrorist activity.”


ABC News: Taliban Suicide Bomber Kills 7 Troops In Eastern Afghanistan

“A suicide bomber in a stolen military Humvee targeted a base in eastern Afghanistan belonging to the country's intelligence service early on Monday, killing at least seven members of the force, a provincial official said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. At least 40 members of the force were wounded in the attack near the city of Ghazni, the provincial capital of Ghazni, according to Arif Noori, the spokesman for the provincial governor. Eight of the wounded were in critical condition and were transferred to the capital, Kabul, for further treatment, Noori added. He said the bomber used a stolen military Humvee and detonated his vehicle full of explosives as he approached the main gate of the entrance. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgents were behind the attack in Ghazni province, where the Taliban control most of the countryside and the rural areas. The provincial capital, also called Ghazni, briefly fell to Taliban control twice in recent years. The province has in the past been the scene of many large-scale attacks against both Afghan and NATO forces. The attack came a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, signed a power-sharing agreement, two months after both declared themselves the winner of last September’s presidential election.”

Reuters: Brutal Afghan Attacks Highlight Limitations Of U.S.-Taliban Deal

“Two brutal attacks this week laid bare major weaknesses of the U.S.-Taliban troop withdrawal pact: nothing in it obliges the Taliban to prevent such massacres and the Afghan government’s ability to thwart them will only wane as U.S. troops pull out. The pact is ultimately supposed to promote peace between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which denied carrying out a Kabul attack in which three gunmen disguised as police killed 24 people, including two babies, at a Kabul maternity ward here and a suicide bombing in eastern Afghanistan that killed 32. The key provisions of the Feb. 29 agreement - to which the Afghan government was not a party - involved a U.S. commitment to reduce its military footprint in Afghanistan to 8,600 by mid-July and, conditions permitting, to zero by May 2021. In return, the Taliban promised, among other things, not to allow “its members, other individuals or groups, including al Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies.” Technically, Afghanistan is not formally an ally of the United States because they do not have a mutual defense treaty. And the agreement says nothing about attacks on Afghan civilians such as the two that occurred on Tuesday.”


The Hindu: Four ISIS Terrorists Killed In Pakistan’s Punjab Province

“The militants were tasked by the Daish’s (ISIS) top leadership to attack places of worship for minority Shias in Bahawalpur, which is around 400 km from provincial capital Lahore, to start sectarian conflict in the country, officials said. Four ISIS terrorists have been killed in an encounter with the security forces in Pakistan’s Punjab province, officials said on Sunday. The militants were tasked by the Daish’s (ISIS) top leadership to attack places of worship for minority Shias in Bahawalpur, which is around 400 km from provincial capital Lahore, to start sectarian conflict in the country, officials said. In a statement, the Punjab Police’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) said they launched an intelligence-based operation along with the local intelligence agencies. A big and deadly terrorism plan has been defeated. Four terrorists belonging to the Daish were killed in the operation, the CTD said. According to intelligence inputs, seven ISIS terrorists were hiding in Zakhira Jungle near Azam Chowk Bahawalpur. They were armed with explosives and heavy weaponry. “On this information, the CTD Multan team, in collaboration with intelligence agencies, raided the hideout late on Saturday night and demanded the terrorists surrender. Instead, they started indiscriminate firing, the CTD said.”


The Jerusalem Post: Think Tank Urges US To Designate Hezbollah-Linked NGO As A Terror Entity

“The Lebanese environmental NGO Green Without Borders (GWB) should be added to the US Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Global Terror entities for their clear connections to Hezbollah, urged a new report released by a Washington-based think tank. “The organization provides clear and undeniable material support to Hezbollah, including for operational endeavors such as surveillance, anti-access/area-denial activities and rocket attacks,” read the report published by Matthew Levitt and Samantha Stern of The Washington Institute on Thursday. The authors of the report urged the United States to place sanctions against GWB, which has not yet been classified by Washington as being a terror entity. The report stated that Hezbollah’s construction arm, Jihad al-Binaa, which has been designated by the US Treasury Department since 2007, “is among GWB’s closest collaborators. “By building surveillance posts, denying the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) unrestricted access in southern Lebanon, and granting Hezbollah logistical and operational platforms from which to fire rockets into Israel, GWB has effectively become part of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure,” it said.”


Egypt Independent: Egypt’s Armed Forces Kill 7 Militants In North Sinai Operation

“The Egyptian Armed Forces’ spokesperson Tamer al-Refai announced Friday that seven militants were killed and over a dozen explosives were detonated during an army operation in North Sinai. In a statement, Refai explained that the operation emerged from intelligence information stating that a terrorist outpost had been located in a North Sinai farm. One terrorist was killed during the raid while the remaining six were eliminated while trying to escape, after army forces tracked them down through security surveillance cameras and wiped them out. Authorities seized a four-wheeled vehicle, three motorcycles without license plates, detonated 10 explosive devices, four explosive belts, two automatic guns and sniper rifle, three pistols, large quantities of various ammunition, 12 mobile phones of different types and four two-way radio devices. The statement assured that the armed forces dutifully continue their mission to uproot terrorism and maintain the security and safety of the homeland.”


Al Jazeera: Western Mercenaries Arrived In Libya To Support Haftar: Report

“Western mercenaries linked with two Dubai-based companies arrived in Libya with plans to assist forces loyal to eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar in their year-long offensive to capture the capital, Tripoli, a news report said. Bloomberg News, citing a confidential UN report, reported the team of 20 soldiers arrived in the North African country in June 2019 before quickly withdrawing to Malta days later, the US publication said on Friday.  The military contractors were affiliated with Lancaster 6 DMCC and Opus Capital Asset Limited FZE, both registered in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Libya, a major oil producer, has been engulfed in chaos since 2011 when longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in a NATO-backed uprising. It is now split between two rival administrations: the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, and the House of Representatives allied with Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA). In addition to Russia and Egypt, the UAE counts among Haftar's most important supporters. William Lawrence, former US diplomat and political science professor at American University, said UAE's support for Haftar “is primarily due to their aversion to every kind of Islamism, including political Islam.”


Bloomberg: Nigerian Forces Kill Dozens Of Militants In Series Of Offensives

“Nigerian soldiers killed at least 50 Islamist militants in a series of military offensives in the northeast of the country. Forty-one insurgents died May 9 in the Bama and Gamboru areas in Borno state, Defense Ministry spokesman John Enenche said Friday in a statement. Nine others died May 13 in Jakana, while “several terrorists” were also killed in the Abadam district, he said. Nigerian forces have been battling an Islamist insurgency in the northeast for the past decade. The conflict, involving the Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province groups, is estimated to have killed more than 30,000 people. Enenche also said 11 Iswap fighters surrendered to troops in the northeastern state of Adamawa.”

Voice Of America: Report: Jihadist Influence Growing In Northwest Nigeria

“Nigerian jihadist groups are gaining sway in the restive northwest and the region could become a “land bridge” to Islamists across the Sahel, the International Crisis Group warned Monday. Northwestern Nigeria has been wracked by years of insecurity involving clashes between rival communities over land, attacks by heavily-armed criminal gangs and reprisal killings by vigilante groups. The violence has left an estimated 8,000 people dead since 2011 and displaced over 200,000, the Brussels-based research group said in a report released Monday. “As security has deteriorated, the region has steadily come under the renewed influence of jihadist groups, which have also stepped up attacks on security forces,” it said. “The spike in jihadist activity in the North West has raised fears that the region could soon become a land bridge connecting Islamic insurgencies in the central Sahel with the decade-old insurgency in the Lake Chad region of north-eastern Nigeria.” Nigeria has suffered from a 10-year conflict with fighters from the Boko Haram group and its splinter factions in the northeast of the country that has left over 36,000 people dead. Officials have during the past year sounded the alarm over signs of the growing jihadist influence among the numerous armed groups in the northwest.”

The Punch Nigeria: Boko Haram Attacks Army Base, Kills Five Soldiers

“Boko Haram fighters have attacked a Nigerian Army location at 156 Battalion in Mainok area, Borno State, killing five soldiers. An army situation report obtained by our correspondent stated that the terrorists came in no fewer than 10 gun trucks to attack the base. The report from the Headquarters, 29 Task Force Brigade, to the Headquarters, Sector 2, Operation Lafiya Dole, said the terrorists were met with firepower and an unconfirmed number of them were also killed. The report said, “Update on attack on 156 Battalion location in Mainok; at about 5pm, Boko Haram elements attacked 156 Task Force Battalion’s location, Mainok town, with approximately 10 gun trucks – about six gun trucks attacked from Mainok and about four attacked from the North end. “Attackers began from Mainok town and later attacked the camp. Troops responded with firepower. Reinforcement troops from Headquarters 29 Brigade led by Brig Gen O. G. Onubogu responded to attack, forcing some of the Boko Haram to divert from Mainok attack to ambush reinforcement troops. “Troops cleared ambush and married up with 156 Task Force Battalion led by Lt Col N. D. Ajah. Boko Haram elements were forced to withdraw. Enemy casualties unconfirmed but lots of bloodstains all around Mainok camp.”


Reuters: Suicide Bombing In Somalia Kills Governor, Three Others In Puntland: Police

“The governor of Mudug, a region in Somalia's semi-autonomous state of Puntland, was killed with three of his bodyguards in a suicide car bombing on Sunday that was claimed by Islamist group al Shabaab, police said. “A suicide car bomb hit the governor's car. Governor Ahmed Muse Nur and three of his bodyguards died,” police captain Mohamed Osman told Reuters. Al Shabaab has been fighting for years to topple Somalia's western-backed central government and frequently carries out bombings in Somalia and elsewhere in the region. The group wants to establish its own rule in the Horn of Africa country, based on its own strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law. “We are behind the explosion. It was a suicide car bomb. We killed Mudug region governor and his three bodyguards,” al Shabaab's military operations spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters.”


Associated Press: Extremists Step Up Violence In Gas-Rich Northern Mozambique

“Mozambique’s armed forces have killed 50 Islamic extremist fighters this week in two battles in the country’s north where the insurgents have launched 11 attacks this month, the government said Thursday. The attacks show a marked increase in extremist violence in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province, causing considerable trouble for the government and the foreign companies investing billions of dollars in projects to produce liquefied natural gas from gas fields off the Indian Ocean coast. The extremists, who pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group, risk giving Mozambique “the type of threat that Boko Haram has become in Nigeria,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy told journalists earlier this month. “Boko Haram was just a small movement, and because of the way the Nigerian government initially responded to it, it grew into a very serious threat,” Nagy said, adding that Mozambique should take a different approach. Mozambique said its armed forces this week killed 42 extremists in Mocímboa da Praia district and eight in Quissanga town. There has been a three-fold increase in the number of violent incidents in Cabo Delgado in the first four months of 2020 versus the same period last year, according to data compiled by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.”

Agence France-Presse: 30 Militants Killed In Raid, Malian Army Says

“Malian troops have killed about 30 militants in a raid, the army said Friday, in the latest violence in the war-torn West African state.   The country's armed forces said on Twitter that they had killed “about 30 terrorists” near the border with neighboring Burkina Faso on Thursday afternoon.   They added that they had seized 25 motorbikes as well as other equipment, without offering further details about the attack.   Mali is struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency that erupted in 2012 and has claimed thousands of military and civilian lives since. Despite the presence of thousands of French and U.N. troops, the conflict has engulfed the center of the country and spread to neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger.”

The Arab Weekly: Jihadist ‘Civil War’ Erupts In Africa’s Sahel Region

“A recent upsurge in the activities of Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda affiliates in Africa’s Sahel region is causing scores of casualties among African and foreign armies and has triggered growing concern about the adequacy of counter-terrorism strategies. Some experts are however pinning hopes on the implosion of the jihadist nebula as previous collaboration between extremist factions in the Sahel seems to be giving way to some form of “jihadist civil war”. In the past, al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates joined efforts to conduct terror activities and recruited from the same pool of foot-soldiers drawn by very similar narratives of alienation, violence and hostility both to local rulers and the West. Since 2012, jihadist activity has proliferated in part as a result of growing insecurity in northern Mali after the return of militants and mercenaries from Libya with the fall of the Muammar Qaddafi regime in the wake of the NATO-led military campaign. Militant activities expanded to Burkina Faso, Niger and other neighbouring countries, leading Western powers, especially France and the US, to intervene militarily to help local governments fight armed militants. Some of the militant groups subsequently re-branded themselves as al-Qaeda affiliates and then as offshoots of ISIS.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Tunisia Says Terrorist Groups Are Isolated In Mountains On Algeria Border

“Terrorist groups on Tunisia’s border with Algeria are now isolated and incapable of carrying out any attacks to destabilize the country, announced Interior Minister Hichem Mechichi. Speaking during a visit to the western central Kasserine province, the minister asserted that Tunisia’s victory over terrorism will start from Kasserine and this will pave the way for major development projects in the region. He pointed out that the ministry's counter-terrorism strategy has shifted its defensive approach to tracking down terrorists in their hideouts. Mechichi stressed that security forces are on full alert against any potential threats against the country, indicating that they are capable of confronting any terrorist attack. “The readiness shown by our security forces and the measures taken by the Interior Ministry are much more important than their [terrorists] own threats,” he was quoted by the official state agency (TAP). Military units operating in the Kasserine highlands had announced that they had foiled a number of terrorist operations targeting military and security forces. The Defense Ministry showed pictures of a number of tools found with terrorists who were planning to manufacture explosives and bombs.”


Associated Press: German Far-Right Boots Regional Leader Over Extremist Ties

“The far-right Alternative for Germany party has expelled one of its regional leaders for failing to disclose his ties to extremist groups. Senior party officials voted Friday to void the membership of Andreas Kalbitz, its chief in the eastern state of Brandenburg. The party is under pressure to distance itself from extremists in its midst, after coming under growing scrutiny from Germany’s domestic intelligence agency. Last month the party ditched its chief spokesman after he allegedly declared himself to be a “fascist.” Kalbitz, 47, has a long history of involvement in groups that promote a revisionist interpretation of Germany’s war-time history and was photographed in 2007 at an event hosted by the HDJ, a neo-Nazi youth movement that’s since been banned. He and Bjoern Hoecke, Alternative for Germany’s leader in Thuringia state, are considered influential figures on the party’s right wing. Kalbitz, who was also the party’s caucus leader in the Brandenburg state assembly, told German news agency dpa that he plans to take legal action against the decision to expel him. Alternative for Germany came third in the country’s 2017 national election but has recently lost ground in opinion polls.”

Deutsche Welle: Prosecuting IS Returnees In Germany Requires The Law's Longest Arm

“Taha A.-J., an Iraqi man believed to have belonged to the “Islamic State” (IS), has been standing trial in Frankfurt since late April on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. At the center of his trial is the death of a 5-year-old girl belonging to the Yazidi minority group. The charges are based on statements by his wife, Jennifer W.*, a staunch IS supporter who lived with him in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. In 2018, she told a police informant that during her first stay in IS territory in 2015 she saw Taha A.-J. punish the girl, purchased as a slave, for wetting the bed. Jennifer W. alleged that he had chained the girl to a window in the scorching sun, where she died an agonizing death. Jennifer W. has been on trial herself since April 2019, as she did nothing to save the girl. In that case, the girl's mother — also a slave in the same household — testified that she was forced to watch her daughter die. Taha A.-J. was arrested in Greece in May 2019 under a German arrest warrant and was transferred to Germany in October. His ongoing trial — the first against a former IS militant to deal with the IS genocide of the Yazidi — has attracted international attention. Genocide is the most serious crime under international criminal law.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: Indonesian Terrorists 'Wait For End Of World' As Coronavirus Bites

“Indonesian extremists are holding back attacks during the coronavirus outbreak to stay at home and wait for the end of the world as foretold in Islamic prophecies - and, perhaps, score a chance to die as martyrs and enter paradise. According to an April 2 report by the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), some supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, terror group consider the pandemic as the ta'un, or plague in Arabic, cited in various hadith, or the words and practices of Prophet Muhammad. “When the plague comes, according to these hadith, Muslims must stay at home and be patient. If a Muslim does this and then dies, he will still be considered a martyr,” the report said. “ISIS supporters who take this view tend to choose to stay at home and not undertake jihad operations (amaliyah) - especially if they get the same heavenly reward by doing so,” it added. Some also view the health crisis as a “dress rehearsal” for a dukhon, an occurrence of a hot cloud that will cover parts of the earth for 40 days and 40 nights, before the appearance of the promised Islamic messiah, known as Imam Mahdi, ahead of the Day of Judgement.”

Eurasia Review: Terrorism In The Philippines During The Pandemic: Persistent Threats Three Years After Marawi Siege – Analysis

“On 23 May 2020, Filipinos and the rest of the world will commemorate the third year of Marawi siege, a five-month long armed battle between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the soldiers of the Islamic State in East Asia (ISEA) or the Daula Islamiya Wilayatul Mashriq (DIWM).   Three years after the siege, terrorism in the Philippines remains unabated with the COVID-19 pandemic making the threat more virulent and harder to confront. Despite the death of their key leaders (Isnilon Hapilon, Omarkayam Maute, Abdullah Maute and Human Abdul Romato Najid, more known as Abu Dar), remnants of ISEA in the Philippines have resumed their devastating terror attacks in the aftermath of the Marawi siege. Remaining followers of ISEA were responsible for the following four major suicide attacks in Mindanao three years after the siege. These four violent attacks demonstrated the sudden rise of suicide terrorism in the Philippines, a phenomenon considered to be impossible to happen in a country dominated by Christians. Yet, suicide terrorism became the most favored tool of violence by pro-IS elements in the Philippines three years after the Marawi siege.”