Eye on Extremism: May 27, 2021

Reuters: Iraq Militia Chief Arrested Over Attacks On Base Hosting U.S. Forces -Security Sources

“Iraqi security forces on Wednesday arrested militia commander Qasim Muslih, the military said, in a move security sources said was linked to attacks on a base that hosts U.S. forces. Muslih was arrested at dawn and is being questioned on anti-terrorism charges, a military statement said, without giving further details. Two security sources told Reuters the militia chief was arrested in Baghdad for involvement in several attacks including recent assaults on Ain al-Asad air base, where U.S. and other international forces are housed. Muslih is the Anbar province head of the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a grouping of mostly Shi’ite militias backed by Iran, which the United States regards as the biggest threat to security in the Middle East. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in a statement later on Wednesday that security forces have arrested someone after an arrested warrant was issued against him in accordance with the terrorism act and based on complaints filed against him. Kadhimi did not name him in the statement but said the defendant will stay in the custody of the Joint Operations Command until the end of the investigation.”

The Defense Post: Suspected ADF Militia Kills 13 In Eastern DR Congo

“Thirteen people in the eastern DR Congo have been killed in a suspected attack by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia that the US says is linked to the Islamic State group, local officials said Wednesday. The massacre occurred late Tuesday in the village of Kisima-Vutotolia, 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the city of Beni on the highway leading to Uganda, said territorial administrator Donat Kibuana. “The situation in Kisima is very tragic. There was a raid by the ADF around 7:00 pm last night. Thirteen people lost their lives,” he said. “Several inhabitants are missing,” he added. “We have already recovered 13 bodies. These people were bound and decapitated,” an aid worker told AFP. Roger Masimango, a representative of civil society groups in the Rwenzori area, said the village chief in Kisima and his wife were among those who had been killed. “Two children aged four and two months were found alive next to the corpses of their parents,” Masimango said. The ADF is the deadliest of scores of armed militias that roam the mineral-rich east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Many are a legacy of two regional wars from 1996 to 2003. More than 500 civilians have been killed in the provinces of North and South Kivu alone since the start of the year, according to an AFP toll based on NGO figures and local sources.”

United States

Associated Press: Man Convicted Of Lying In Terror Probe Denied Early Release

“A federal judge has denied compassionate release from prison for a Phoenix man convicted of making false statements to FBI agents and witness tampering during the investigation of a terror attack six years ago in suburban Dallas. U.S. District Judge John Tuchi cited the prisoner’s refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine when rejecting a claim in an order issued Monday that Abdul Khabir Wahid’s continued incarceration leaves him vulnerable to the coronavirus. Wahid argued that his HIV diagnosis and hypertension make him susceptible to severe or fatal consequences were he to contract the virus in prison. He is serving a 5½- year sentence for convictions stemming from his conduct during the investigation of a 2015 attack on a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. Wahid wasn’t directly involved in the attack, authorities said. Tuchi concluded that Wahid didn’t present extraordinary and compelling reasons to justify a sentence reduction, noting a decline in COVID-19 cases at the Arizona prison where Wahid is incarcerated and his refusal to take the vaccine.”

New York Post: ISIS Bride Says She’ll Regret Leaving US For Terror Group ‘For The Rest Of My Life’

“ISIS bride” Hoda Muthana — who fled Alabama to join ISIS in 2014 and is now barred from returning to the US — said she will regret the decision “for the rest of my life,” according to a report on Wednesday. Muthana, 26, tried to explain what led her to become part of the terror group in the new documentary “The Return: Life After ISIS” by Spanish filmmaker Alba Sotorra Clua, People reported. “When you are brainwashed, you don’t realize it until you snap out of it,” Muthana said. “I took everything too fast, and too deep.” What she experienced was “this horrible way of life that I really regret for the rest of my life and that I wish I could just erase,” she says in the film, according to People. Muthana was 20 and a college student in Hoover, Ala., when she ran away to join the Islamic State in Syria. The sheltered daughter of Yemeni immigrants, Muthana said her path to the terror group began when she tried to connect online with other Muslim people. “I didn’t have much friends in high school and I was extremely shy, painfully shy,” she reportedly says in the film. “I wasn’t allowed to hang out with friends. I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere, not even to the mall.”

Defense One: Growth Of Extremist Groups Follows Mathematical Pattern: Study

“Two distinct extremist groups, ISIS and the Boogaloo movement, would seem at first glance to share little in common other than a willingness to commit violence. Yet these groups emerge and grow online following a similar mathematical pattern, according to a new paper from researchers at George Washington University. The paper proposes a “shockwave equation” that can be applied to a wide number of online groups to predict the point at which they experience sudden growth. The groups include ISIS, which comprises Islamic jihadists, and the Boogaloo movement, a loose collective of right-wing extremists advocating for a new civil war. “You might think that because of their very different ideologies etc., and the fact that ISIS support was very focused while Boogaloos are diverse, the two movements, ISIS and Boogaloos, would behave very differently. But what we found is that, in fact, they follow the same mathematical blueprint in terms of their growth patterns,” Neil Johnson, a physics professor at George Washington University, told Defense One. Many extremist groups have benefited from the presence of a specific, charismatic leader. But Johnson and his colleagues' research shows that growth depends even more on the interpersonal online dynamics of the core members and how they interact with new recruits, a factor he refers to as “collective chemistry.”

Iran

The National: Pavlich: Throwing Good Money To Iranian Terrorism

“In 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) officially admitted rockets were found, again, in one of their internationally funded schools in the Gaza Strip. Careful not to offend, the UNRWA didn’t blame any group by name for placing them there, but evidence and clear intelligence shows Hamas terrorists, funded and supplied by Iran, were the culprit. “UNRWA condemns placement of rockets, for a second time, in one of its schools,” a press release from UNRWA, published July 22, 2014, states. “Today, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, UNRWA discovered rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip. As soon as the rockets were discovered, UNRWA staff were withdrawn from the premises, and so we are unable to confirm the precise number of rockets. The school is situated between two other UNRWA schools that currently each accommodate 1,500 internally displaced persons. UNRWA strongly and unequivocally condemns the group or groups responsible for this flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.” Fast forward to 12 days ago and Hamas, with other terrorist factions like Islamic Jihad, launched a 4,000-strong rocket war against Israeli civilian targets from Gaza.”

Iraq

The Independent: Tensions Rise In Baghdad After Arrest Of Militia Commander

“Tensions mounted in Iraq s capital on Wednesday after the arrest of a militia commander on terrorism charges, prompting a dangerous showdown by the detainee's paramilitary supporters and the Iraqi government. The confrontation began after Iraqi security forces arrested at dawn militia leader Qassim Mahmoud Musleh based on a judicial investigation and arrest warrant on terrorism charges, Iraq's military said in a statement. The statement said he was being questioned by a joint investigative committee. Musleh is the head of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Anbar province. The PMF is a state-sanctioned group comprised of an array of militias formed to defeat the Islamic State group in 2014. Among the most powerful members of the group are Iran-backed Shiite militia groups. Shortly after the arrest, forces affiliated with the PMF, which maintains offices inside the heavily fortified Green Zone, were deployed surrounding Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's headquarters. Tensions reached fever pitch when Iraqi security forces and the elite Counter-Terrorism Service were deployed to protect the government and diplomatic missions, sparking fears of violence. Some armed PMF factions gathered around the Green Zone's entrance gates.”

The Jerusalem Post: Turkey Bombs Christian Villages In Iraq’s Kurdish Region - Analysis

“Turkey continued its campaign of bombarding villages in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region this week, reportedly damaging homes and a church of local Christian minorities. Ankara claims it is fighting “terror” although there have been no major terror attacks in Turkey for many years. The real terror, according to the locals, comes from Turkey’s bombardment using drones, aircraft and even artillery. The Assyrian Policy Institute noted that “yesterday, Mar Yousip Assyrian Church of the East in the Assyrian village of Musaka in Barwar, northern Iraq was damaged during a Turkish aerial campaign targeting suspected PKK positions in the area.” According to the local reports from Rudaw and other sources, the bombing damaged a Christian village and a church. One villager from Miska said that bombs fell near buildings. It appears Miska and Musaka are related spellings of the name for the same place. In northern Iraq, many towns have multiple names, sometimes including a Turkish, Arabic, Assyrian and Kurdish name and spelling. For instance, the large Christian town of Qaraqosh is also called Hamdaniyeh and Bakhdida. Erbil is called Hawler in Kurdish. “People were terrified,” a local told Rudaw about Turkey’s bombing of the area.”

The National: Iraq Is In A Legal Mess Over ISIS - And The West Has Made It Worse

“A little over a fortnight ago, Karim Khan, the lawyer heading the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability against ISIS (Unitad), gave his final briefing in that capacity to the UN Security Council. He said there was “clear and compelling evidence” that between 2014 and 2017 ISIS committed genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Iraq. No one knows exactly how many ISIS members are currently housed in Iraq’s overcrowded prison system, but a low estimate is somewhere in the thousands. No one knows how many have been tortured or sentenced to death, but the figures are thought to be high. And no one knows how many have actually been executed, either – Iraq does not publish records. The ambiguity might be slightly easier to accept if it were certain that every convict were guilty, and that those slated for death row were killers themselves. It’s true that ISIS was hardly ambiguous in its intention to torture, enslave and wipe out whole sections of Iraq’s population. Due legal process didn’t come into it for them. That Iraq and other countries are disinclined to apply due process in return now that their terrorisers are themselves in the dock is, perhaps, understandable.”

Turkey

Arab News: Turkey Tracks Down, Detains Members Of Terror Groups In Latest Ops

“Turkish police on Wednesday detained seven suspected members of the Jabhat Al-Nusra organization during a counter-terrorism operation in the capital Ankara. Anti-terror teams were also hunting four other people still at large and thought to be linked to the movement that was originally established in Syria and has been classified by Turkey as a terror group since 2014. Simultaneous operations have been taking place against Daesh in Turkey with police recently arresting several senior operatives in various cities. On Tuesday, police caught 16 Daesh suspects in a countrywide operation in 11 provinces, one day after another suspected Daesh member of Syrian nationality was held in the central Anatolian province of Nigde.  Meanwhile, on Monday, a Daesh suspect named Mustafa Abdulvahap Mahmut, was detained in Istanbul. An explosives specialist who is also being sought by the US, Mahmut was reportedly planning to carry out a terror attack in Turkey. The operation was held jointly between American and Turkish intelligence units. Last week, a Daesh suspect was stopped by Turkish police 500 meters away from the US Consulate in Istanbul, while another one was detained on the top floor of a nearby building.”

Afghanistan

Los Angeles Times: ‘The Taliban Will Come ... 100%.’ As U.S. Withdraws, Kandahar Faces A Takeover

“Off a two-lane highway on this city’s northern edge lies a cemetery for Arab Al Qaeda fighters and their families, all killed in the waning days of 2001, when America first unleashed its wrath on Afghanistan. Their graves — earthen mounds and crypts, marked by flags and colorful scarves stretched out on bamboo poles — have become shrines, a place of pilgrimage for those seeking divine healing. Dozens wander here every day, praying, rubbing pinches of salt placed on the graves for blessing. For them, the buried are martyrs of the jihad that first swept the Taliban to power, brought about the U.S. occupation and now forced its exit. “Jihad is part of the history of Afghanistan. … We see it’s already succeeded again,” said 38-year-old Mohammad Nazir, the pride evident in his voice. “The British attacked, the Russians attacked and now the Americans; all are defeated. The Taliban will come into the city — 100%.” Two decades into the guerrilla war that has wrecked the worn-out towns and villages of Afghanistan’s southern region, America’s stab at nation-building here is winding down, with the Taliban more popular in many ways than the Washington-backed government.”

Reuters: Taliban Warns Nearby Nations Against Hosting U.S. Military After Withdrawal

“The Afghan Taliban on Wednesday warned nearby nations against allowing the United States to use their territory for operations in the country after they withdraw from Afghanistan. As foreign forces withdraw troops by President Joe Biden's announced deadline of Sept. 11, experts and diplomats have speculated that Washington's future role in the region could include bases in nearby countries, especially Pakistan. “If such a step is taken, then the responsibility for all the misfortunes and difficulties lies upon those who commit such mistakes,” the insurgent group said in a statement, without specifying a country. U.S. officials have privately said that they are exploring potential basing options in countries near Afghanistan, like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, but have so far not come to an agreement with any of them. In recent days, there has been a spate of talks between senior Pakistani and U.S. officials, including a meeting between Biden's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and his Pakistani counterpart. Pakistan shares a border with Afghanistan that runs along heavily contested areas of south and eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban have a large presence.”

Nigeria

Premium Times Nigeria: Nigerian Army Raids Boko Haram’s Logistics Warehouse In Yobe

“Nigerian troops on Tuesday seized 62 jerrycans of petrol and three vehicles during a raid on a Boko Haram logistics supply base in Kukareta in Yobe State. The army’s spokesperson, Mohammed Yerima, said the operation was carried out with the help of local vigilantes following a tip off that some members of the community were supplying fuel to Boko Haram. Kukareta town is located about 21 kilometres from Damaturu, the state capital, on the Maiduguri/Damaturu highway. It was the largest self-established IDP camp in the state with more than 40,000 households before it was closed down in 2018. The statement reads in full: “Troops of Operation Hadin Kai on Tuesday, May 27, 2021, raided a suspected Boko Haram logistics stockpile in Kurkareta town, Yobe State. “Items recovered during the raid operations by troops in conjunction with local vigilantes include 62 jerrycans loaded with Premium Motor Spirit popularly called petrol, hidden in different houses and shops. Three vehicles belonging to the terrorists’ suppliers with registration numbers DAL 626 YE (Kano), GBK 413 GR (Benue) and XA 390 SHN (Borno) were also impounded.”

Africa

Yahoo News: Southern African Leaders To Hold Summit On Jihadist Threat

“Leaders of the southern African regional bloc SADC will hold an extraordinary summit on Thursday in Maputo to discuss the violence engulfing northern Mozambique, the South African presidency said Wednesday. The top-level meeting of the Southern African Development Community was postponed in April because of scheduling conflicts. President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead South Africa's delegation to the talks, the presidency said in a statement. “The SADC Extraordinary Double Troika will discuss terrorism engulfing the region, including insecurity in the Cabo Delgado Province in the Republic of Mozambique,” it said. The meeting is expected to discuss the possibility of SADC deploying 3,000 troops to battle the insurgents. Jihadist violence has escalated in the gas-rich north of Mozambique since it broke out in late 2017. Islamic State-linked militants launched coordinated attacks on the northern town of Palma on March 24, ransacking buildings and murdering residents as thousands fled into the surrounding bush. The assault marked an intensification of violence that has driven some 700,000 to flee their homes, leaving more than 2,800 people dead according to NGOs and the United Nations.”

United Kingdom

The Independent: Neo-Nazi Accused Of Terror Offences Was UKIP Member And ‘Nigel Farage Fan’

“A neo-Nazi accused of terror and explosives offences has said he was first drawn into “politics” by Nigel Farage. Dean Morrice has been charged with eight terror offences and two counts of possessing explosive substances that were found at his home near Bristol. Prosecutors accuse the 34-year-old of creating parts for a 3D-printed gun and running a social media channel that encouraged far-right terror attacks. Giving evidence at his trial on Wednesday, the former British Army driver denied the offences but said: “I think it’s fair to say I have fascist and neo-Nazi views.” Mr Morrice told Kingston Crown Court he enjoyed dressing up as a “right-wing fascist” in outfits including a tactical vest, beret, and skull mask, but described the activity as “LARPing” - a form of live action roleplaying. The court was shown photos that Mr Morrice had taken of two crossbows, a collection of bolts, a skull mask and the tactical vest with a badge reading “ban Islam”. The defendant broke down in tears several times while being questioned, and said he now feels “very ashamed” of his “disgusting” conduct. Mr Morrice, who had left the Army by the age of 18, later worked in different jobs and ran companies fixing gadgets and audio equipment.”

Latin America

Reuters: Peru's President Condemns 'Terrorist' Massacre

“Peru's interim president on Tuesday condemned the deadly weekend massacre of more than a dozen Peruvians, saying there would be “no impunity” for those responsible. Peru's justice minister has blamed the massacre on rebels associated with the Shining Path, a militant group responsible for one of Latin America's deadliest conflicts. President Francisco Sagasti on Tuesday mourned the victims of what he called a “national tragedy,” but he warned Peruvians not to let it sway the upcoming election on June 6, after pamphlets encouraging people not to vote were found at the site of the massacre. “We have seen a cowardly terrorist group kill 16 people. Yesterday we had confirmation of 14 (deaths), but today we found another two who died as a result of this attack. Some of the dead are boys and girls, a one-year-old girl, a three-year-old boy and two adolescents. There will be no impunity.” Peru in the 1980s and 1990s endured a long-running conflict between the leftist Shining Path and government forces. It led to the killing of nearly 70,000 people, according to official figures. The Shining Path has largely retreated in recent years, but still has ties to drug traffickers and remains active in parts of the Peruvian jungle.”

Technology

Axios: Why QAnon Is Disappearing From Online View

“Specific language about the QAnon conspiracy theory has all but disappeared from mainstream public social media platforms, new research concludes. Driving the news: Researchers from the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensics Lab found that the volume of QAnon content available online plummeted following major moderation and policy moves from Google, Facebook and Twitter. Details: Researchers analyzed more than 45 million mentions of QAnon catchphrases and related terms from April 1, 2020 to April 1, 2021 on both mainstream platforms and alternative ones such Gab and Parler. Terms included popular QAnon phrases including “the storm,” “the great awakening,” “save the children” and “WWG1WGA (Where we go one we go all).” Those terms started being used more frequently online in March 2020, peaked in June 2020 around racial justice protests, and spiked again before the January 6 Capitol riot. Other factors contributed to the reduction in QAnon content. “Q,” the shadowy figure whose posts kicked off the conspiracy theory, went silent. Some participants in the Q world masked their phrases to evade getting moderated.”

Financial Times: Governments Have Stalled For Too Long On Encrypted Messaging Regulation

“My firm developed the world’s first “quantum-safe” instant messaging system in 2014. This means not even a mature quantum computer with code-breaking capabilities can decipher the encrypted text. When we made the system available through the App Store, it seemed like a victory for privacy at a time when the exploitation of user data was deemed out of control. The reality proved vastly more complex when our app appeared on an Islamic State recommended technical tools list. We were aghast. A tool we had developed to help people assert their right to online privacy, to conduct their lives away from the prying eyes of Big Tech and to uphold individual liberty had been co-opted by an organisation committed to destroying those very same values. Even though we were achieving healthy daily downloads, the eventual decision to switch it off was relatively easy.  We would not put profit before human lives. This experience was a microcosm of the debate that rumbles on to this day: what should be the trade-off between privacy and the protection of citizens from harm? The issue was raised by UK home secretary Priti Patel last month when she called for stricter regulation of encrypted messaging, which has historically been used by criminals to exploit children.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

The Hispanic population is willing to return to their home countries if given the right incentive. An incentive that myself and many other patriotic Americans will provide… [terrorist attacks will] remove the threat of the Hispanic voting bloc.

Patrick Crusius, El Paso Shooter Aug. 2019
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