Eye on Extremism: May 22, 2023

Garowe Online: Al-Shabaab Finance Chief Killed In Somalia

“A senior Al-Shabaab finance officer has been killed in Somalia, officials confirmed, in one of the most dramatic and sophisticated operations which comes days after the second phase of military campaigns against the militants was activated by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Hassan Sheikh, who concluded his trip to Qatar and Saudi Arabia recently, outlined his objectives and plan to eliminate the militants who have been wreaking havoc in the Horn of Africa nation which has struggled with instability for the last three decades. Mahad Aqadub, who has been the head of Zakawat within Galgaduud in the Galmadug region, officials said, was killed during an operation conducted on Saturday, in what the military defined as ‘potentially great success’. Zakawat officials are in charge of the collection of taxes. The operation against Al-Shabaab was carried out in Towfiq town which is about 15 kilometers from the recently liberated Gal'ad District. Security forces arrested the lead militant following a tip-off from hawk-eyed villagers who have been his victim for several years.”

Politico: French Minister Warns Of Resumption Of ‘Islamist Terrorist’ Threat In Europe

“There’s a risk of a ‘resumption’ of the ‘Islamist terrorist’ threat in Europe, France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said during a visit to the U.S. Stressing the importance of anti-terrorism collaboration between intelligence services from both sides of the Atlantic, Darmanin said in an interview with Agence France-Presse that ‘for Europeans and for France the primary risk is Sunni Islamist terrorism.’ While pointing to concerns facing the U.S., including shootings and white supremacism, Darmanin said Americans mustn’t forget ‘what appears to us to be the primary threat in Europe,’ which the minister said was Sunni terrorism. Darmanin also highlighted the risk of people carrying out a ‘Bataclan-type attack,’ referring to the Paris attacks in 2015 that saw 130 people killed, including 90 at the Bataclan theater.  France has seen several terrorist incidents in recent years, including the stabbing of a police officer in 2021, which led President Emmanuel Macron to declare that France would never give in to Islamist terrorism.”


Kurdistan24: SDF Arrest 8 Suspects ISIS Members

“Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the last few days have arrested eight suspected ISIS members during four security operations. The operations were carried out in the countryside of Tal Hamis, Deir Ezzor, Manbij, and Hasaka. ‘During these operations, the forces apprehended eight ISIS terrorists who had been actively involved in terrorist acts and supporting terrorist cells in the area,’ the SDF explained in a press release. During the operations, SDF forces seized several weapons, ammunition, and documents. The US and the SDF regularly carry out operations in northeast Syria against ISIS sleeper cells to prevent an ISIS resurgence in the region. These operations continue  despite the ISIS caliphate’s territorial defeat in Baghouz in 2019.”

Kurdistan 24: ISIS Attack Injures Three SDF Fighters In Deir Ez-Zor

“The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Saturday said that three SDF fighters were injured in a suspected ISIS attack on Abu Khashab road, west of Deir Ezzor.  ‘At 12:10 AM on Saturday, one of our SDF patrols was attacked on Abu Khashab road, west of Deir Ezzor, resulting in injuring three of our fighters, while one of our senior commanders, who plays a crucial role in the ongoing battle against ISIS in the area, managed to survive,’ the SDF said. ‘Initial investigations have confirmed the involvement of an ISIS terrorist cell.’ The Syria-based Rojava Information Centre (RIC) said in a tweet that the Deir ez-Zor region has recently witnessed an increase in ISIS sleeper cell activity. According to RIC's April Sleeper Cell Report, 14 out of 20 attacks have occurred in the Deir ez-Zor region.”


Reuters: Iran Says 'Terrorist' Group Linked To Israel Has Been Arrested, Nour News Reports

“Iran's intelligence minister said a ‘terrorist’ group linked to Israel was arrested on the western borders of Iran on Sunday, according to the semi-official Nour News agency. ‘A terrorist group associated with the Zionist regime which entered the country from the western borders was arrested,’ said Esmail Khatib. The statement comes amid heightening tensions between Iran and its arch-enemy Israel over Tehran's nuclear programme.”

Voice Of America News: Iran Urges Pakistan To Boost Border Security After Deadly Attack

“Iran said Sunday that a ‘terrorist’ attack had killed at least six security guards near the border with Pakistan, claiming the assailants were trying to infiltrate Iran. The deadly incident happened in the Saravan region in the province of Sistan-Baluchistan, some 1,360 kilometers southeast of the capital Tehran, said the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman in a statement on the government’s website. Nasser Kanaani said Iran ‘condemns the sinister act and expects the Pakistani government… to suppress terrorist groups as soon as possible and to try to improve the security of the common borders’ in line with bilateral agreements. He did not elaborate. Pakistan denounced Sunday's attack. A foreign ministry statement in Islamabad expressed condolences to the bereaved families and the Iranian government over the ‘tragic incident.’ It stressed ‘the need for mutual efforts to eliminate the terrorism on both sides of the border.’”


Daily Sabah: Turkish Operations Eliminate Nearly 38,000 Terrorists Since 2015

“Türkiye has eliminated more than 37,800 terrorists in the past eight years, according to National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar. ‘Since July 24, 2015, a total of 37,860 terrorists have been neutralized,’ Akar said on Sunday at a conference in Istanbul on the Syrian conflict and the fight against terrorism. Six more terrorists have been recently ‘neutralized’ in the Operation Euphrates Shield region in northern Syria, he added. Turkish authorities use the term ‘neutralized’ to imply the terrorists in question have surrendered, been killed or captured. While Akar did not specify any terror group, Türkiye has been conducting operations against terrorist organizations such as Daesh, the PKK, and its U.S.-backed Syrian branch, the YPG.”


Reuters: Lebanese Army Says It Arrests Prominent Al Qaeda Leader In Deir Ammar Town

“The Lebanese army said on Saturday it had arrested a prominent Al Qaeda leader in Deir Ammar town, northeast of the city of Tripoli. It identified the arrested man only as ‘T.M.’ and said in a statement that the arrest took place on Friday. ‘T.M. is one of the most prominent leaders of Al Qaeda and the founder of its cells in Lebanon,’ it added. ‘He has also played a key role in establishing the terrorist Fatah al-Islam organization,’ the statement added, referring to an Al Qaeda-inspired militant group that used to be active in Lebanon over a decade ago.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Extremist Israeli Cabinet Minister Visits Sensitive Jerusalem Holy Site

“A far-right Israeli Cabinet minister visited Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site on Sunday, declaring that ‘we are in charge,’ while the Israeli Cabinet held a rare meeting in Jerusalem’s Old City to celebrate its control of the area. The visit by Itamar Ben-Gvir to the disputed hilltop compound drew condemnations from the Palestinians and Israel’s neighbor, Jordan. The site is revered by Jews and Muslims, and the competing claims lie at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ben-Gvir, a former West Bank settler leader and far-right activist who years ago was convicted of incitement and supporting a Jewish terror group, now serves as Israel’s national security minister, overseeing the country’s police force. The site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is the holiest site in Judaism, where the biblical Temples once stood. Today, it is home to the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.”

Reuters: Three Palestinian Militants Killed In Israeli Raid In West Bank

“Israeli security forces killed three Palestinian militants during a large-scale raid in the occupied West Bank on Monday, Palestinian and Israeli sources said. The Israeli military said its forces came under fire from Palestinian gunmen and had ‘neutralized’ at least two of them. It said soldiers confiscated rifles, ammunition and explosive devices and destroyed the site where the bombs were made. Residents of the Balata refugee camp in the city of Nablus said it was the largest such operation there in many years. Israeli Army Radio said a relatively large number of soldiers took part in the pre-dawn raid.”

Associated Press: Hezbollah Stages Wargames For Media, Asserts Readiness To Confront Israel

“The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah put on a show of force Sunday, extending a rare media invitation to one of its training sites in southern Lebanon, where its forces staged a simulated military exercise. Masked fighters jumped through flaming hoops, fired from the backs of motorcycles, and blew up Israeli flags posted in the hills above and a wall simulating the one at the border between Lebanon and Israel. The exercise came ahead of ‘Liberation Day,’ the annual celebration of the withdrawal of Israeli forces from south Lebanon on May 25, 2000, and in the wake of a recent escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. Militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, has long had ties with Hezbollah. The recent heightened tensions also come months after Lebanon and Israel signed a landmark U.S.-brokered maritime border agreement, which many analysts predicted would lower the risk of a future military confrontation between the two countries.”


Garowe Online: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Leader Captured In New Video Meeting "Delegates"

“Al-Shabaab leader has emerged in a new video meeting ‘delegates’ at an undisclosed location, just weeks after the U.S. announced Noy 14, 2022, increased rewards of up to $10 million for information that helps find him. Ahmed Umar Abu Ubaidah, the group's Emir who took over from Ahmed Godan, the former leader who was killed in a US drone airstrike in 2014, was captured in an interview with the group's al-Kataa'ib media wing. 'The interview was conducted at a recent conference attended by about 100 Al- Shabaab delegates, it has emerged. Among those who attended the conference were senior members of Al-Shabaab, traditional elders, and religious scholars who are loyal to the group. The rare meeting was held between May 8-15.”

United Kingdom

BBC: Swindon Student, 18, Denies Sharing Terrorism Documents Online

“Malakai Wheeler, of Stamford Close, Swindon, denied six charges at Winchester Crown Court. He denied possessing copies of the ‘Terrorist Handbook’, the ‘Anarchist's Handbook’ and a document called ‘Homemade Detonators’. The 18-year-old has been released on conditional bail. Appearing in court earlier, he denied sharing in a chatroom 92 documents and 35 images as well as two other charges of sharing instructions for the use of items that could be used to perform acts of terrorism, including smoke grenades. Judge Jane Miller KC adjourned the case for a trial, which is set to start on September 4.”

Sky News: Prison Officer 'Encouraged Terrorism Through Neo-Nazi Rap Songs', Court Hears

“Ashley Sharp, 42, from Cudworth, Barnsley, was the founder of the White Stag Athletic Club, allegedly established to train others to be ‘soldiers’ for the racist cause. Sharp, a prison officer at HMP Leeds in Armley, began as a moderator of a site called Fascist Fitness where he adopted a drill sergeant persona and members would post weekly Friday updates showing off their physique. He started his ‘fitness club’ in 2019 with six others based around boxing, jiu-jitsu and running, he told Sheffield Crown Court. White Stag Athletic Club began in the summer of 2020 and ‘went public’ in October 2021, and Sharp told the court it was like a ‘nationalist boy scouts for grown-ups’.”

BBC: Alleged Far-Right Extremist Called Jo Cox Killer Hero - Court

“Kieran Turner, 36, from Earby in Lancashire, allegedly published a statement in January 2019 calling for ‘650 Thomas Mairs’ and hailing the terrorist killer as a ‘hero’. He appeared at the Old Bailey earlier for a preliminary hearing. Batley and Spen MP Ms Cox was killed by far-right terrorist Mair in June 2016. Mr Turner is also accused of sharing live-streamed footage of a terrorist attack on 15 March 2019 - the day of the Christchurch mosque shootings - and a document detailing an antisemitic conspiracy theory. He faces a total of 10 charges, one of encouraging terrorism, two of disseminating a terrorist publication and seven counts of stirring up racial hatred in written material on dates in 2019 and 2020.”


BBC: Ken Elliott: Australian Hostage, 88, Freed By Al-Qaeda Militants

“Dr Kenneth Elliott is safe and well and has been reunited with his family, Australia's foreign minister said. He and his wife were seized in 2016 near the border between Mali and Burkina Faso, where they operated a clinic for over 40 years. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said at the time it had kidnapped the couple. The group released his wife, Jocelyn, after three weeks following public pressure and what it described as ‘guidance’ from its leaders not to involve women in war.”


Vice News: More Than Half Of Users Have Seen Extremist Content In Online Games

“The video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons is supposed to be a bucolic, adorable utopia where the player's chief concerns typically include catching butterflies, designing clothes to sell in an online marketplace, and landscaping their islands to impress visitors. On one recent day, an Animal Crossing player took to Twitter to complain about an upsetting incident. They’d unwittingly welcomed two visitors, whose avatars appeared dressed in KKK robes and a T-shirt emblazoned with a swastika, onto their island. Animal Crossing is widely considered a ‘sandbox game’, meaning players are given a lot of freedom to build their own worlds—and in some cases, create their extremist fantasies, which they seek to lure others into. That’s just one way extremists use gaming spaces to spread their propaganda, and reach, radicalize, and recruit young followers, according to a new report by New York University. The report makes clear that they are not suggesting in any way that playing video games is itself a gateway to violence or radicalization.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On June 6, 2021, the Taliban attacked a complex in Ghor province, killing nine and injuring seven. That same day, the Taliban launched similar attacks on the police headquarters in Faryab province, killing 28 security forces, and in Balkh province, killing 19 and injuring 69 others.   

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