Eye on Extremism: May 3, 2021

Associated Press: Islamic Leader Slain In East Congo After Attacks Killing 19

“An Islamic leader in Congo's eastern town of Beni was killed during evening prayers by unidentified gunmen after days of violent attacks by rebels left at least 19 people dead, officials said. Gunmen came into Beni's central mosque Saturday, shooting dead Sheikh Ali Amin Uthman, the representative of the Islamic community of Beni, according to the head of the mosque, Sheikh Moustapha Matsongani. The identity of the attackers was not yet known. Matsongani told The Associated Press that Amin had been receiving threats from the Allied Democratic Forces for more than a year, and had been questioned by security services days earlier about those threats. “We asked him to leave Beni if possible to flee the death threats,” said the governor of the North Kivu province, Nzanzu Carly Kasivita. “Investigations are underway.” Amin had often gone on the radio to denounce extremism. His attack came on the heels of attacks in villages for days that left 19 dead, according to civil society groups. The ADF originated in neighboring Uganda and has long been a threat in eastern Congo. The Islamic State group has claimed some attacks carried out by ADF rebels, but the exact relationship between the groups is not clear.”

The National: 18 Iraqis Killed In Spree Of Night Attacks Blamed On ISIS

“At least 18 people were killed in a string of overnight attacks in Iraq allegedly carried out by ISIS on Friday and Saturday. In the deadliest attack in the town of Tarmiyah, a roadside bomb detonated next to a passing military convoy, killing two officers and two soldiers, the Joint Operation Command said. Iraqi military reinforcements rushing to respond to the blast were then ambushed by militants, who killed another officer and two more soldiers, it said. Security sources said a tribal fighter and a civilian also died as fighting raged for hours through to the early morning. Tarmiyah, about 20 kilometres north of the capital Baghdad, is known for its orchards. Iraqi security forces have been battling ISIS militants in the area for weeks. The militant group has launched a series of attacks against security forces and local tribal troops using bombs and light weapons. Near the northern city of Kirkuk, militants assaulted positions held by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, killing six soldiers and wounding several others, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government said. The attack took place in disputed territory claimed by both Baghdad and the Kurdish region. Kurdish President Nechervan Barzani blamed ISIS militants for the attacks, saying they were taking advantage of “security voids in the disputed areas.”

United States

The Washington Post: From Memes To Race War: How Extremists Use Popular Culture To Lure Recruits

“The first images of “The Last Battle” seem designed to rile people on the conservative side of the culture wars: public nudity, strippers, children dressed in drag — symbols of a society supposedly in a moral free fall. Then the online video pivots to more extreme material: quick-cut scenes of attacks on White people, bogus allegations of election fraud and a parade of pictures purporting to show “the Jewish Communist takeover.” The six-minute video, distributed on gaming platforms and social media, rapidly reveals itself as a visually arresting propaganda piece — a recruiting tool for far-right extremists that draws viewers in with “They’re coming for your guns” and “They’re opening your borders” and then hits them with “They’re humiliating your race” and “Defend your race.” The far-right groups that blossomed during Donald Trump’s presidency — including white supremacists, self-styled militias and purveyors of anti-government conspiracy theories — have created enduring communities by soft-pedaling their political goals and focusing on entertaining potential recruits with the tools of pop culture, according to current and former members of the groups and those who study the new extremism.”

The Washington Post: Sheriff’s Deputy Boasted To Extremists About Beating Black Man, Called It ‘Sweet Stress Relief,' Feds Say

“As federal investigators searched the phone records of a violent extremist in California last August, they discovered an unexpected voice of authority joining in a group chat with racist slurs and threats. In texts with a group that called itself “Shadow Moses,” a Georgia sheriff’s deputy boasted about beating a Black man during an arrest, threatened to falsely charge Black people with felonies so that they could not vote and advocated for killing politicians and others he viewed as political enemies, the FBI said in court documents. This week, Cody Richard Griggers pleaded guilty to a weapons charge after federal agents uncovered his ties to a violent extremist group and found 11 unregistered firearms at his home and in his police car, the Department of Justice said in a statement on Wednesday. Griggers, 28, who was fired by the Wilkinson County Sheriff’s Office last November, faces up to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and will never work as a police officer again. “This former law enforcement officer knew that he was breaking the law when he chose to possess a cache of unregistered weapons, silencers and a machine gun, keeping many of them in his duty vehicle,” acting U.S. attorney Peter D. Leary said in a statement.”

CNN: Biden Administration Releases Trump-Era Deadly Force Rules For Terrorist Suspects Abroad

“The Biden administration disclosed Trump-era rules on Friday regulating the use of deadly force against terrorism suspects abroad, releasing them with several redacted lines to the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit after the Trump administration refused to make them public. The rules, which President Joe Biden suspended on his first day in office while his administration began reviewing them, according to the Times, have come under criticism for making exceptions to standards about how and where “direct action” attacks were allowed outside war zones. “We appreciate this release, which confirms our fear that President Trump stripped down even the minimal safeguards President Obama established in his rules for lethal strikes outside recognized conflicts,” Brett Max Kaufman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU, said in a statement Saturday. The rules, titled “Principles, Standards, and Procedures for U.S. Direct Action Against Terrorist Targets,” allow for US direct action against lawfully targeted terrorists “whose removal, either independently or as part of a broader campaign, is determined to be reasonably necessary to U.S. efforts to address the threat posed by the terrorist group.”

Syria

The National: Briton Arrested In France Over Links To Terrorism In Syria

“Counterterrorist police arrested a Briton at the Channel Tunnel terminal in France who was thought to be returning from fighting in Syria. The man, 37, was detained at the port of Coquelles in a zone where British officials have the right to question people planning to travel to the UK. He was held on suspicion of preparing for terrorist acts and membership of a proscribed organisation. A further warrant for his detention was obtained on Thursday that could keep him in custody without charge until Tuesday. London's Metropolitan Police declined to give further details about the man or the group to which he was said to be linked. Women walk inside the Kurdish-run Al Hol camp in north-eastern Syria, where families of ISIS foreign fighters are held.  Police said he was arrested on Wednesday “as part of a pre-planned operation. The arrest relates to alleged activity in Syria”. Figures last year showed that Britain has prosecuted only 10 per cent of foreign terrorist fighters who returned from Iraq and Syria. The British government estimates that a fifth of the 900 people who travelled from the UK to join the ranks of ISIS in Syria were killed, while another two fifths are still in the region.”

Turkey

Al Jazeera: Turkish Police Say Top ISIL Figure Captured In Operation

“A close aide of killed ISIL (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been caught in Istanbul. The Afghan national, only identified by the codename ASIM, was detained in the Atasehir district on the city’s Asian side on Wednesday, an Istanbul police statement said on Sunday. News reports of the joint operation carried out by Istanbul police and Turkey’s intelligence agency said the suspect had been involved in helping hide al-Baghdadi in Syria’s Idlib province after the fall of the group in 2019. Al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid on his Syrian hideout by American special forces in October 2019. Turkish media published a photograph of a balding, bearded man in a light coat following the arrest and an earlier image, purportedly of the same person, showing a long-haired, heavily bearded man in military fatigues wielding a curved sword. State-run Anadolu news agency said ASIM was suspected of organising training for ISIL while in Syria and Iraq, as well as serving on its decision-making council. He arrived in Turkey with a false passport and identity card, Turkish media said. Turkey sporadically carries out raids and detains suspected ISIL members within its borders.”

Associated Press: Turkey Adds Cryptocurrency Exchanges To Terror Funding Rules

“A presidential decree published Saturday added cryptocurrency exchanges to a list of firms covered by Turkey’s terror financing and money laundering. The move came after a ban on using cryptocurrencies for making payments, which was introduced in response to claims that such transactions are too risky, took effect in Turkey on Friday. The presidential decree makes “crypto asset service providers” responsible for seeing their assets are not used illegally. The decree immediately went into force with its publication in Turkey’s Official Gazette. Turkish authorities last month launched fraud investigations into two cryptocurrency exchanges, Thodex and Vebitcoin. Six suspects linked to the Thodex probe were jailed Friday pending trial. The investigation into Thodex, which handled daily trades of hundreds of millions of dollars, initially led to the arrests of 83 people after customers complained of not being able to access their funds. Interpol issued a detention warrant for the firm’s CEO on Turkey’s behalf. Turks have been increasingly attracted by cryptocurrencies as protection against the decline of the lira and double-digit inflation.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Afghan Blast On Eve Of U.S. Pullout Deadline Kills At Least 27

“On the eve of a symbolic date for America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, a truck laden with explosives blew up outside a guesthouse south of the capital on Friday night, killing at least 27 people. If the blast was the work of the Taliban — there was no immediate claim of responsibility, though the Afghan government quickly blamed the insurgents — it would be the most overt signal yet that the deal the Americans reached with the group at Doha in February 2020 is off. A secret annex to that deal bars the Taliban from conducting suicide attacks, and they had been in sharp decline until Friday. Instead, the Taliban has maneuvered over the past year to test gray areas of the agreement, by carrying out, for example, targeted assassinations of journalists, officials and intellectuals. There has been a steady drumbeat of these; on Saturday morning, a Kabul University professor was fatally shot in Kabul. And there has been no letup in attacks on Afghan security forces; dozens have been killed in recent weeks. But Friday night’s attack in Logar province, with its heavy toll, appeared to represent a deliberate shift in tactics.”

Voice Of America: Taliban Overrun Afghan Base, Capture Troops As US, NATO Forces Exit

“Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan attacked and overran a key army base in southeastern Ghazni province Saturday, capturing dozens of soldiers and killing several others. The latest attack came on a day when the United States and NATO partners formally began withdrawing their militaries from the country after almost 20 years of war. Two senior provincial council members told VOA the Afghan army had stationed dozens of its forces at the base outside the provincial capital, also named Ghazni, before the pre-dawn insurgent attack. Local media reports said the ensuing clashes had lasted several hours and killed at least 17 soldiers. Afghan army chief, Gen. Mohammad Yasin Zia, who is also the acting defense minister, confirmed to reporters in Kabul the fall of the security installation to insurgents, but he shared no further details. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said its fighters had also seized heavy and light weaponry besides capturing 25 army personnel and killing “a number of others.” Separately, Afghan officials Saturday raised the death toll to at least 30 from an overnight truck bombing in Pul-e-Alam, the capital of eastern Logar province.”

Middle East

Arab News: Al-Qaeda Vows ‘War On All Fronts’ Against US

“Bin Laden is dead and Al-Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan. And it’s time to end the forever war,” he said. As part of the withdrawal, the Taliban and the US have agreed in talks that the group will cut ties with Al-Qaeda. While its direct physical presence has declined since the death of Bin Laden on May 2, 2011, Zawahiri has overseen a diversification of its role in global jihadism. “Under Zawahiri’s stewardship, Al-Qaeda has become increasingly decentralised, with authority resting primarily in the hands of Al-Qaeda’s affiliate leaders,” according to a recent report from the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) think tank. The US has placed a $25 million bounty for Zawahiri, who features on its most-wanted-terrorist list.”

Africa

Reuters: Attackers Kill 16 Soldiers In Southwest Niger

“Unidentified gunmen have killed 16 soldiers and wounded six others in an ambush in southwest Niger, two security sources said on Sunday. The attack on an army patrol occurred on Saturday afternoon in the Tahoua region of the West African country, near where raids killed 137 civilians in March. It is unclear who carried out the attack, but the area is overrun by jihadist groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State. Those groups have killed hundreds of soldiers and civilians since 2018 when they began broadening their reach beyond bases in Mali. Now, large areas of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have fallen under their control.”

All Africa: Kenya: Govt Endorses Calls To Punish Militants Targeting Civilians

“Kenya has endorsed calls to impose heavier punishments on militant groups that target civilian infrastructure as world powers debated the impact of cutting off supplies in times of conflict. At a session of the UN Security Council on Tuesday night, Martin Kimani, Kenya's Permanent Representative to the UN, challenges the Council to act and deter what he called misuse of humanitarian access by terror groups. Kenya sees provision of humanitarian services in areas where militants operate as a slap on the wrist of the terror merchants who have damaged crucial infrastructure to punish the very people the groups live with. “Kenya condemned the exploitation of humanitarian presence by terrorists,” Mr Kimani stated on his Twitter page, referring to an Open Debate on 'Protection of Objects Indispensable to the Survival of Civilian Population', a motion called by Vietnam, the current chair of the Council. Nairobi called for tougher sanctions on individuals and groups and “to enable peacekeeping mandates to deter such exploitation” besides countering militant propaganda, according to the Kenyan diplomat. “Kenya condemned the deliberate targeting of such objects as a method of warfare, including the increasing exploitation of the humanitarian space by Al Qaeda and ISIS.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Far-Right Terror Suspects Arrested In Yorkshire, Wiltshire And Wales

“Police have arrested five people in areas across West Yorkshire, Wiltshire and north Wales as part of a counter-terrorism operation. The “pre-planned” arrests were part of an investigation into far-right terrorism led by Counter Terrorism Policing North East, police said. Two men, aged 29 and 30, and a 28-year-old woman were arrested at an address in Keighley on suspicion of being involved in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. A 16-year-old boy in Swindon and a 28-year-old man in Anglesey were also arrested on suspicion of the same offence. An ordnance-disposal unit was alerted after officers discovered suspicious material at one of the addresses in Keighley, West Yorkshire police said in a statement. The unit will provide specialist advice and organise the safe removal of the items if required. Some residents have been evacuated while the material is examined and a cordon has been put in place around the site. Multiple properties are being searched in connection with the arrests. The five suspects are being questioned at a police station in West Yorkshire.”

Metro: Neo-Nazi Terror Group Still Spreading Race Hate Despite Ban

“A neo-Nazi group is still openly peddling racial hatred online despite being outlawed as a terror organisation in the UK last week. The Atomwaffen Division (AWD) has been proscribed by the UK Government but is still active on the social media platform Telegram. Propaganda material including a video showing firearms training and flyers calling for an armed race war are still present on the messaging app despite members and supporters of the group facing jail terms of up to 10 years. Announcing the ban, the Government said the move would ‘support the police in their work to disrupt the threat that these white supremacist groups continue to pose to the UK’s national security’. Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘Vile and racist white supremacist groups like this exist to spread hate, sow division and advocate the use of violence to further their sick ideologies. ‘I will do all I can to protect young and vulnerable people from being radicalised which is why I am taking action to proscribe this dangerous group.’ In one video, a person is shown firing a gun in target practice, while propaganda material declares war on ‘race traitors’ and calls for an armed struggle. The failure to remove the harmful content can be revealed as sports bodies and athletes unite to boycott social media over racist abuse and trolling.”

France

The National: Spain Arrests ISIS Terror Cell Suspected Of Encouraging Attacks Against France

“Spanish police infiltrated an ISIS terror cell that was allegedly encouraging attacks against France. The cell was discovered in Granada and is accused of using social media accounts to encourage almost 20,000 people to carry out atrocities. Dozens of armed officers from the Spanish National Police conducted raids on properties after a six-month investigation. Three people were arrested on suspicion of inciting violent attacks against French people. Footage of the raids showed armed officers entering the building, arresting the suspects and removing boxes of evidence. “The three detainees are imprisoned for encouraging terrorist actions against French citizens and interests,” Policia Nacionale tweeted. “After the French magazine Charlie Hebdo republished caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in September of last year, the arrestees posted numerous videos on their social media accounts threatening to carry out violent actions against France, its citizens and interests abroad to avenge the said-publication,” Europol said. “The Spanish National Police used its specialist capabilities to identify the individuals behind these social media profiles, which had a total of 19,000 followers.”

Europe

The Daily Beast: Pro-Kremlin Propaganda Says FSB Busted Neo-Nazi Terror Plot In 9 Cities

“On Thursday, Russia woke up to news of alleged terrorists preparing to carry out violent attacks in nine of the country’s southern and northern cities. The Federal Security Service (FSB) reported that 16 suspects from a Ukrainian far-right neo-Nazi group known as “Maniacs. Cult of Killers” (M.K.U.) were arrested in connection with the plot. A video of the Thursday arrest released by the FSB—the successor to the KGB—features armed special unit officers breaking into an apartment. One of the officers is heard yelling: “Down on the ground, on the ground!” With their hands behind their heads, several half-naked young men—some sporting Nazi tattoos—are shown spread out on the floor of a messy flat. In the clip, one of them admits to plotting a violent shooting spree against “non-white people and Arab nationals” on the orders of M.K.U.’s leader. Little is known about the group and its origins. Its leader, Yegor Krasnov, is currently under arrest and on trial for five violent attacks in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro. A Ukrainian newspaper reported last year that the “maniac” leader and his three friends had published a video of himself on Telegram stabbing pedestrians.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

View Archive

CEP on Twitter