Eye on Extremism: May 4, 2021

Reuters: Around 30 Killed In Attack On Village In Eastern Burkina Faso, Security Sources Say

“Armed assailants killed around 30 people in an attack on a village in eastern Burkina Faso on Monday, four security sources said. The attack took place in the village of Hantoukoura near the border with Niger in Est region, an area hit by rising insecurity as jihadist groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State seek to gain control over once peaceful territories. In a statement, Est Governor Saidou Sanou said more than 10 civilians and two members of a civilian defence militia were killed by the unidentified attackers, who also torched a number of shops and ransacked the health centre. But the four sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the death toll stood at around 30, making it one of the deadliest single attacks in Burkina Faso in the past year or more. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack. Jihadist groups have also fuelled religious and ethnic tensions between farming and herding communities in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger in order to boost recruitment among marginalised communities. The worsening violence in the wider Sahel region has led to one of the world's most acute humanitarian crises, U.N. agencies said last week. Twenty-nine million Sahelians are in need of aid and protection - an all-time high and 5 million more than last year, they said.”

Yahoo News: 2 Former Sri Lankan Top Security Officials Charged Over Easter Sunday Terror Attacks

“Sri Lanka’s Attorney General on Monday slapped 800 charges against two top former security officials for their failure to prevent the deadly 2019 Easter Sunday bomb attacks in which over 270 people, including 11 Indians, were killed. The charges were unveiled in the Colombo High Court by the country's top law officer Dappula de Livera against former official in the defence ministry Hemasiri Fernando and former chief of police Pujith Jayasundera. The duo has been accused of neglecting the prior intelligence input on the impending attacks, thereby failing to prevent the loss of life. Nine suicide bombers, belonging to local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) linked to ISIS, carried out coordinated blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on the Easter Sunday in 2019. A special presidential panel recently recommended that criminal action be taken against both Fernando, Jayasundera and several other senior defense officials, including former president Maithripala Sirisena. The trial of Fernando and Jayasundera is to be held before a 3-member bench for murder and attempted murder. The probe panel appointed by Sirisena himself has found him culpable for the attacks.”

United States

CNN: Biden Team May Partner With Private Firms To Monitor Extremist Chatter Online

“The Biden administration is considering using outside firms to track extremist chatter by Americans online, an effort that would expand the government's ability to gather intelligence but could draw criticism over surveillance of US citizens. The Department of Homeland Security is limited in how it can monitor citizens online without justification and is banned from activities like assuming false identities to gain access to private messaging apps used by extremist groups such as the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers. Instead, federal authorities can only browse through unprotected information on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and other open online platforms. A source familiar with the effort said it is not about decrypting data but rather using outside entities who can legally access these private groups to gather large amounts of information that could help DHS identify key narratives as they emerge. The plan being discussed inside DHS, according to multiple sources, would, in effect, allow the department to circumvent those limits. In response to CNN's story, DHS said it “is not partnering with private firms to surveil suspected domestic terrorists online” and “it is blatantly false” to suggest that the department is using outside firms to circumvent its legal limits.”

Syria

Kurdistan 24: Kurdish-Led Security Forces Capture ISIS Leader In Syria’s Deir Al-Zor

“The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Monday counterterrorism units had captured a ranking ISIS leader Syria’s in Deir al-Zor province. The SDF’s Coordination and Military Operations Centre on Twitter claimed that the detainee was actively planning assassinations, recruiting members, and facilitating ISIS sleeper cell operations in Deir al-Zor. The SDF noted that the Internal Security Forces of northeast Syria, commonly known as Asayish, led the operation, carried out in al-Shafaa in Deir al-Zor’s eastern countryside with air support from the US-led anti-ISIS Coalition. Col. Wayne Marotto, the Spokesman for the Coalition, also known as the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTFOIR), said in a tweet on Monday said that the operations conducted by SDF aim to “degrade Daesh capabilities and lead to their enduring defeat.” Although the SDF and the Coalition announced the territorial defeat of the Islamic State in Syria in March 2019, sleeper cell attacks persist, especially in liberated territories, in what appears to be a deliberate campaign to destabilize the area. According to the latest report by the Syria-based Rojava Information Center, ISIS carried out 40 attacks in northeast Syria in March.”

Iraq

Voice Of America: Following Deadly Attack, Iraqi Kurds Call For Better Coordination In Countering IS

“Iraqi Kurdish officials blamed the lack of proper coordination between the country's federal and regional security forces for a major Islamic State (IS) attack over the weekend that left three Kurdish military officers dead and two wounded. The attack Saturday targeted a unit for the Kurdish peshmerga forces in Altun Kupri, a district in the oil-rich Kirkuk province, which is part of the so-called disputed territories between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the north. “We have repeatedly warned Iraq's federal government and the International Coalition Against ISIS of a resurgent ISIS and of the continued threats by the terror group taking advantage of a security vacuum in the disputed territories,” KRG's President Nechirvan Barzani said in a statement following the attack, using an acronym for IS. He urged his federal counterparts and the international partners “to accelerate the formation of the joint forces” in the disputed territories to prevent “real threats” posed by the terror group. In what appeared to be a response to Barzani's calls, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Sunday met with top regional and federal security officials to discuss joint efforts to counter IS.”

Al Monitor: Iraqi Authorities Nab Islamic State 'Governor' Of Fallujah

“Iraq’s intelligence services captured the Islamic State’s governor of Fallujah in an operation coordinated with security forces of the country’s Kurdistan Region, Iraq’s military said Monday. The US-led coalition to defeat IS confirmed the arrest following an statement by Iraq’s Security Media Cell. Iraqi police named the so-called governor as Abu Ali al-Jumaili. He was captured in the city wearing an explosive suicide belt, Iraqi authorities said. The security forces said he confessed to working with IS in both Iraq and Syria and admitted involvement in IS attacks against Iraq’s security forces and civilians. Al-Jumaili was previously imprisoned in Iraq in 2005 for affiliation with al-Qaeda before being released in 2011, having served only six years of a 15-year sentence, Rudaw news reported. Upon returning from Syria, he was appointed IS’ deputy governor of Mosul before being given command of Fallujah in Anbar province. Al-Jumaili’s arrest coincides with the capture of another IS figure across the border in Syria. An IS official responsible for recruitment, networking and local assassinations was arrested in Syria’s eastern Deir ez-Zor province with aerial surveillance provided by the US-led coalition. Two years after the US-backed capture of IS’ final holdout along the Euphrates River on Syria’s border with Iraq, Arav-majority Deir ez-Zor province continues to suffer assassinations by suspected IS sleeper cells.”

Sky News: 'Dambusters' Squadron To Join Fight Against Islamic State In Iraq And Syria

“The renowned “Dambusters” squadron is set to fly stealth fighter jets to support operations against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria. The RAF's 617 Squadron - famously known for its role in attacking German dams during the Second World War - will be part of a mission designed to prevent IS from “regaining a foothold in Iraq”. The Ministry of Defence said the F35B Lightning fast jets will join Operation Shader from the Carrier Strike Group to fight the “remnants” of IS, also known as Daesh. Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said he was in no doubt “violent extremism and the toxic ideology underpinning it is still rooted” in the region. He added: “We're going to conduct operations in support of the government of Iraq, fighting the remnants of Daesh in Iraq and Syria - and continuing to take the fight to them in their sanctuary where otherwise they would be threatening the streets of the United Kingdom and our allies. “It's something that air power has been doing very effectively now since 2014 and the Royal Air Force has played a considerable part in that success. “Daesh is no longer the ground-holding force, the occupying force, that it was in 2015 and 2016. “For the last two years we have been identifying pockets where they have dug in to strongholds in the mountains in remote areas, and have been helping the government of Iraq to clear out those remnants.”

Turkey

Reuters: Turkish Police Remove Followers Of Islamist Figure From Mosques

“Turkish authorities forcibly removed followers of an Islamist figure from three mosques in southern Turkey, saying their prayer gatherings were a provocation against COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Footage showed police scuffling with a group of people in a mosque in the province of Gaziantep on Sunday and forcibly taking them out, while some yelled: “We are reading the Koran.” One officer could be seen using pepper spray. Turkey has imposed a full lockdown until mid-May to try to cut rates of COVID-19 infection which have soared in recent weeks. Prayer in mosques is not prohibited under the measures, but authorities in Gaziantep said the groups were trying to confine themselves in the mosques for the final days of Ramadan without prior permission. The Gaziantep governor's office said on Monday that the 76 people who entered the three mosques had previous terrorism investigations launched against them. It said police had detained them after they engaged in civil disobedience and started swearing, adding that judicial processes were launched for threatening and insulting behaviour and for violating the lockdown.”

The Defense Post: Turkish Police Capture Key Islamic State Figure: Report

“A senior figure in the Islamic State group described as the slain leader’s “right-hand man” has been captured by police in Istanbul, local media reported Sunday. Officers detained the Afghan man, whose codename is “Basim,” during a joint raid with Turkish intelligence agents in the Atasehir district on the city’s Asian side. IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in 2019 in a US special forces raid carried out with the help of Kurdish fighters in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib. Turkish media reported that the man captured had helped Baghdadi hide in Idlib. The suspect was also apparently responsible for the extremist group’s “so-called military wing,” the broadcaster NTV reported. He arrived in Istanbul with a fake passport and identity card, the channel said, while DHA news agency said he was detained on April 28. Turkey has stepped up the fight against IS extremists who have carried out deadly attacks in the country, including the mass shooting at an elite Istanbul nightclub in 2017. That attack killed 39 people, including 27 foreigners. Since then, there have been regular police raids to detain suspects across the country.”

Afghanistan

ABC News: Bomb Explodes Near A School In Western Afghanistan

“A bomb exploded near a school in Farah, in western Afghanistan on Monday and wounded 21 people. At least 10 of those injured were students as young as 7, a provincial official said. No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban are active in the area, according to the Associated Press. US Marines board a C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft headed to Kandahar as Bri...The attack comes two days after the U.S. began withdrawing the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 troops from Afghanistan, following President Joe Biden's plan to be out of the country by Sept. 11 at the latest. In the last two days there have been almost 300 Taliban attacks in more than two dozen provinces across Afghanistan, according to the Afghan Ministry of Defense. Former defense minister Tamin Asey told ABC News that the Taliban have not changed, as many fear the group's violent resurgence amid troop withdrawal. “The ideology haven't changed. Their global claim to jihad haven't changed. They are more confident of their victory and they think that they have defeated the United States and NATO,” Asey said. Top U.S. military officer General Austin Miller, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces, warned the Taliban that they'll respond forcefully to any type of attack, according to the Associated Press.”

Reuters: At Least 7 Killed In Taliban Attack On Southwest Afghanistan Army Outpost -Officials

“Taliban insurgents attacked an army outpost in Afghanistan's southwestern Farah province killing at least seven soldiers, local officials said on Monday, as the country braces for violence after May 1, a previously agreed deadline for foreign troop withdrawal. In a video message to media, Farah Governor Taj Mohammad Jahid said the Taliban had blown up an army outpost after digging a 400-metre (0.25 miles) tunnel to access it from a nearby house. He added that one soldier had also been captured by the insurgents. Two local officials, one speaking on condition of anonymity, said dozens of military including elite commando forces had been killed. Provincial council member Khayer Mohammad Noorzai said that around 30 had died in the attack and that the base was in the hands of the Taliban. A Taliban spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Officials said a blast in the province's capital on Monday had wounded 21 people, including five children. Farah Public Health Director Abdul Jabar Shayeq said three of the injured were in hospital in critical condition.”

Voice Of America: Afghanistan To Discuss Fate Of Foreign IS Prisoners With Their Countries

“The Afghan government said it plans to begin talks with 14 countries to discuss what to do with hundreds of their citizens who have been captured while fighting alongside the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP).   Ahmad Zia Seraj, the head of Afghanistan's intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS), said last week that his government wanted to “find an acceptable solution to the problem.” The foreign nationals in Afghan custody are 408 ISKP members, including 173 women and children. According to the Afghan government, 299 of them are from Pakistan, 37 from Uzbekistan, 16 from China, 13 from Tajikistan, 12 from Kyrgyzstan, five from Russia, five from Jordan, five from Indonesia, four from India, four from Iran, three from Turkey, two from Bangladesh and two from Maldives. Abdul Wahid Taqat, a former senior intelligence official in the Afghan government, predicted a ‘difficult’ legal and political process for the repatriation of the ISKP prisoners, saying Kabul will likely need to use international bodies to convince those countries take back their citizens. “Returning these fighters would not be easy because Afghanistan has no treaties to extradite or exchange terrorists with most of these countries,” Taqat told VOA, adding that “a reasonable option for Afghanistan is to involve the United Nations Human Commission on Human Rights to find a solution.”

The National: Taliban And Afghan Army Locked In Fierce Combat As Militants Warn US Forces

“More than 100 Taliban insurgents have been killed in the past 24 hours in fighting between the Afghan army and the militant group, the defence ministry said on Sunday. The violence follows the US conducting an airstrike in Kandahar, often dubbed the Taliban's “birthplace.” Violence escalated as Afghan forces took control of a US military base in the restive southern province of Helmand. The US military handed over Camp Antonik to Afghan forces, a day after it formally began withdrawing its remaining troops from the country. The Taliban and government forces clashed across several provinces, the ministry said, including in the former insurgent bastion of Kandahar where the US military carried out a “precision strike” on Saturday as it began the final troop pullout. Another 52 Taliban fighters were wounded in the clashes, the ministry said, without giving details of any casualties suffered by government forces. The Taliban did not offer any comment on the fighting, but both sides are known to exaggerate casualties inflicted on the other. Fighting on the ground has continued unabated in recent months as peace efforts aimed at ending the 20-year conflict have faltered. The US military formally began withdrawing its remaining 2,500 troops from the violence-wracked country on Saturday, as ordered by President Joe Biden last month.”

Nigeria

Reuters: More Than A Dozen People Killed By Islamist Militants In Northeast Nigeria -Sources

“More than a dozen people, including seven soldiers, were killed by Islamist militants in an attack in northeast Nigeria, four sources told Reuters. The militants arrived in the Ajiri community in the Mafa local government area of Borno state on motorcycles early on Sunday, killing an army commanding officer and six soldiers, the sources said. The assailants also killed six civilians, burned down nine housing blocks and carted away valuables, the sources - one soldier, one civilian fighter and two local government officials - told Reuters. In a statement, the military said troops repelled the attack but that militants killed some residents and two military personnel. Attacks by Islamist militants have been intensifying in northeast Nigeria in recent months, with dozens of soldiers killed and thousands of Nigerians displaced. Army spokesman Mohammed Yerima said the military on Saturday repelled another attack on Rann, capital of the Kala Balge local government area of Borno. Two sources, one soldier and one local resident, said troops killed nine militants. Yerima said in the statement that the troops also captured weapons including an anti-aircraft gun barrel, an AK-47 rifle and different calibres of ammunition.”

Africa

The Defense Post: Niger Army Killed 24 ‘Suspected Terrorists:’ Government

“Niger troops killed 24 “suspected terrorists” after they sought to escape after being captured in the west of the country, the government said Sunday. The suspects had been planning an attack on the market town of Banibangou but the army was alerted and, after an exchange of fire, 26 people were arrested on April 28, the defense ministry said in a statement. One of the “suspected terrorists” died later from gun wounds. As they were awaiting transfer to nearby Chinegodar, where there is a military base “the prisoners tried to escape” overnight on Thursday and managed to disarm a guard, the ministry said. “After ignoring warning shots, 24 prisoners were fatally wounded and one of them was able to escape,” it said, adding that an inquiry had been launched. Chinegodar and Banibangou are in the Tillaberi region which is on the borders of both Mali and Burkina Faso. It is regularly attacked by jihadist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda or Islamic State. On March 15, suspected jihadists killed 66 people when they attacked a bus carrying shoppers from the Banibangou, and then raided the village of Darey-Daye. On January 2, 100 people were killed in attacks on two villages in the Mangaize district of Tillaberi.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: Germany: Police Arrest Far-Right Threats Suspect

“Police in Berlin arrested the alleged author of more than 100 far-right threats during a raid on his apartment on Monday. Public prosecutors in Frankfurt said the suspect had a series of prior convictions for extremist activities. The arrest came after an extensive joint probe between prosecutors and investigators in the western state of Hesse. The suspect's hard drives have been seized by police and are currently being evaluated.  What are the accusations? Authorities say they have reason to believe the 53-year-old German citizen had been sending a series of letters with “race-baiting, insulting and threatening” content since August 2018. The targets of the threats included national and regional lawmakers, a Frankfurt attorney, artists and human rights activists. The letters were signed by the “NSU 2.0,” a neo-Nazi moniker. Peter Beuth, the state interior minister of Hesse, reported in mid-March that there had been 115 threatening letters attributed to the “NSU 2.0” signature. They had been addressed to 32 people and 60 institutions in nine German states, with the letters also sent to neighboring Austria. The letters were typically sent by email, but were also delivered by fax and text message.”

Canada

The Washington Post: Canadian Chapter Of The Proud Boys, Designated A Terrorist Group By The Government, Says It Has ‘Dissolved’

“Nearly three months after Canada declared the Proud Boys a terrorist entity, the Canadian chapter of the militant far-right group claims it has “officially dissolved.” But analysts warned that the organization could still rebrand, and its radicalized members could find new homes. Members of the Proud Boys, founded in the United States by a Canadian, joined the violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol in January. In a statement posted on social media on Sunday, the group said “there is officially no longer any Proud Boys in Canada.” It cited the financial difficulties of mounting a legal challenge to overturn the government’s terrorist entity designation. The designation in February did not make it illegal to belong to the group, but it did carry financial and legal consequences. Authorities can add members to the no-fly list. Banks can freeze their assets, and police can seize their property. It’s a crime to knowingly provide assistance to the group, including by purchasing merchandise. “The truth is we were never terrorists or a white supremacy group,” the Canadian chapter said in its statement, posted to the main Proud Boys channel on the Telegram messaging app. “As a fraternity of men we had thought of pursuing the case legally but we have no financial support, given we are not funded by the rich.”

Europe

Arab News: Europe Set For African Migration Spike As Thousands Flee Jihadists

“Thousands of migrants have set sail from Libya for Europe in recent days, as intensifying conflicts in parts of Africa have forced more people to flee their countries, the UN has said. Hundreds of people that were crammed into overcrowded boats were rescued by the Italian coastguard, navy and NGO vessels over the weekend. Carlotta Sami, a spokesperson for the UN’s refugee agency, said: “About 2,000 people set sail from North Africa in recent days, and thanks to jihadist activity in Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and northern Nigeria, we can expect sailings to increase.” Conflict in the Sahel region — a vast expanse of land from Chad to Mauritania on Africa’s western coast — between Islamists and regional governments has intensified in recent years. Terrorist groups in the region, the UN said, “exploit latent ethnic animosities and the absence of the state in peripheral areas to advance their agenda.” Millions of people have already been displaced from their homes across the region, and in 2019 the UN warned that the situation was “extremely volatile.” Some of those who flee the violence make the journey to Libya and onward to Europe — making the perilous journey across the Mediterranean aided by smugglers and often in dangerously overcrowded boats.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On June 13, 2016, convicted terrorist Larossi Abballa stabbed to death two married police officers in their home in Magnanville, France, in an attack claimed by ISIS. Abballa livestreamed the murder on Facebook and held the couple’s three-year-old son hostage before police stormed the home.

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