Eye on Extremism: May 4, 2022

Reuters: Islamist Militants Overrun African Union Camp In Somalia

“Al Qaeda-linked militants overran an African Union peacekeepers' camp in the centre of Somalia, a security source and the group said on Tuesday, in what appears to be one of the al Shabaab group's biggest attacks this year. A resident said three civilians died in crossfire during the attack, while the number of African Union soldiers killed or captured was unclear. The chairperson of the AU commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said he paid tribute to the Burundian peacekeepers who lost their lives, but did not say how many died. Somalia is preparing to hold long-delayed presidential elections with political rivalries having split the security services, distracting them from the fight against the al Shabaab insurgency. Somalia's presidency condemned the attack on the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) base near El Baraf, about 130 km (80 miles) north of the capital Mogadishu, and called for increased military support. “The mujahideen launched a pre-dawn raid on an ATMIS military base in El Baraf,” an al Shabaab statement said. “After a fierce firefight, the mujahideen managed to overrun the base and are now in complete control of the entire military base.” Al Shabaab has been fighting for years to topple the central government and implant its rule in the Horn of Africa country based on its strict interpretation of Islam's sharia law.”

Associated Press: In Nigeria, UN Chief Welcomes Reintegration Of Extremists

“United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday lauded Nigerian authorities’ ongoing reintegration of defectors from the jihadi Boko Haram group, which has waged a decade-long insurgency, as “the best thing we can do for peace.” Speaking to reporters in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state where the insurgency is centered, Guterres also called for more global funding to help rebuild lives in northeast Nigeria where the rebels are operating. “The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those who in the moment of despair became terrorists but now want to ... contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters,” the U.N. chief said after meeting with former militants at a rehabilitation camp in Maiduguri. The Nigerian military said in March that 1,629 of the former fighters have so far graduated from the reintegration program. In the final leg of his three-nation tour of West Africa, the UN chief is for the first time visiting Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, where he called for donors worldwide to support humanitarian assistance in the northeast. Boko Haram, Nigeria’s homegrown Islamic extremist rebels, launched an insurgency in 2009, to fight against western education and to establish Islamic Shariah law in Nigeria.”

United States

Associated Press: Man Charged In ISIS-Inspired Plot Found Mentally Competent

“A Maryland man has become mentally competent to stand trial more than two years after he was charged with planning an Islamic State-inspired attack at a shopping and entertainment complex near Washington, D.C., a federal judge ruled Tuesday. Rondell Henry's attorneys notified the court last Friday that he intends to pursue an insanity defense. Henry, 31, of Germantown, Maryland, was charged in 2019 with attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the Islamic State group. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis agreed Tuesday to order a psychiatric examination of Henry to determine whether he was insane around the time of his alleged offenses. The judge also ruled Henry is mentally competent to stand trial, can understand the charges against him and is capable of assisting in his defense. Xinis had ruled in February 2020 that Henry was not competent to stand trial. She repeatedly extended Henry’s court-ordered hospitalization. But the judge said a March 31 report on Henry's medical condition found experts had restored his mental competence and that he is “doing much better.” Defense attorney Christian Lassiter, an assistant federal public defender, said he does not dispute that finding.”

WNBC NBC: Accused Terrorist's Lawyer Denies Client Took Photos Landmarks For Targets, Urges Exoneration

“A defense lawyer urged jurors Tuesday to reject a prosecutor’s claims that his client is a terrorist who photographed U.S. landmarks as potential targets, saying the government didn’t prove anything during a two-week trial. Attorney Marlon Kirton said his client, Alexei Saab, is a victim of “a clear case of government overreach.” He spoke during closing arguments after Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Richman repeatedly labeled Saab a terrorist, saying he came to the U.S. to scope out potential targets for Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization from 2000 to 2005 even as he lived a double life, working as a software engineer for technology companies. Among the potential targets researched by Saab were Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, all three New York area airports, the Brooklyn, Triborough and George Washington bridges and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels connecting New Jersey to Manhattan. And Richman noted one more target in his argument to convict in Manhattan federal court. “He sits here in a courtroom inside a courthouse he once photographed for Hezbollah,” the prosecutor said. The one-time Morristown, New Jersey, resident pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges after his 2019 arrest, as authorities disclosed that he had been interviewed by FBI agents during 11 sessions over several weeks.”

Syria

Kurdistan 24: 2 Shot By Suspected ISIS Members In Syria's Al-Hol Camp

“Suspected ISIS shooters opened fire on two people in the fourth section of northeast Syria's notorious al-Hol camp, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) war monitor reported on Monday. Both were heavily injured in the attack. SOHR said this was the second such incident in the camp in May. On Sunday, Internal Security Forces ('Asayish' in Kurdish) also found the body of an Iraqi refugee shot dead by ISIS cells in al-Hol's first section. SOHR reported on Tuesday that the Asayish arrested 23 people in the camp on Monday. They are charged with communicating with ISIS cells outside the camp. According to data from the UN, al-Hol is the largest camp for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Syria, hosting about 56,000 people. Most of al-Hol's residents are Iraqis and Syrians. However, the camp also houses many foreign families thought to have ISIS links. On Monday, SOHR reiterated its call for “a lasting solution” to the volatile situation in northeast Syria's al-Hol camp after at least six people were killed there in April.”

Afghanistan

Fox News: Taliban’s Power Challenged By Afghan National Resistance Front, ISIS-K

“The Taliban are finding it’s much more difficult being the governing authority of Afghanistan than it was waging an insurgency campaign against the previous internationally backed government of Ashraf Ghani. Since taking Kabul in August 2021, the Taliban have had to consolidate power and assert control over a weary and war-torn nation, battle an ISIS affiliate and tamp down the resistance movement in Panjshir province. When the Taliban took Kabul, many anti-Taliban forces within the US-trained armed forces and former members of the Ghani government fled to the Panjshir Valley, a bastion of anti-Taliban resistance north of Kabul where the Taliban had yet to exert full control. Other leading opposition figures fled to neighboring Tajikistan, where the government in Dushanbe has provided a safe haven. The rugged and mountainous Panjshir Valley, which held firm against Soviet occupation in the 1980s and Taliban rule in the 1990s, is the ideal location to lead an insurgency. Almost immediately after the Taliban seized Kabul, anti-Taliban forces quickly announced their opposition to the new government and initially were able to hold off the Taliban’s advance on the valley.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Israel Remembers Its Fallen Soldiers And Victims Of Terrorism

“Israelis owe their fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism a commitment not to let disagreements and political debates tear them apart, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday at a ceremony marking the beginning of Remembrance Day. “I cannot speak on behalf of the fallen, but I believe if they could, they would have told us: keep living together,” said Bennett. “Do not let disagreements tear you apart from within. If we allow anger and hatred to grip us, then our enemies will take advantage of it to harm us.” His speech came just a few hours before Israelis stood in silence for one minute on Tuesday night, remembering the service members who died protecting the state and the victims of terrorism ahead of the country’s 74th Independence Day. In total, 24,069 soldiers, police officers, prison wardens, Shin Bet (Israel Security Service) and Mossad agents were killed defending the pre-state Yishuv and Israel since 1860. That number also includes members of the pre-state militias and the Jewish Brigade, who served in the British army during World War II. There were 3,199 civilians killed in hostilities since the establishment of the state, according to the National Insurance Institute.”

Nigeria

Africanews: UN Chief Urges Investment To Help Niger Fight Jihadists

“UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged the international community to “fully invest” to help impoverished Niger fight jihadist insurgents threatening the government in Niamey and neighbouring countries. “Today I believe, looking at the remarkable performance of Niger's army, the international community must fully invest to strengthen the capacity of Niger's army,” said Guterres, alongside the Sahel nation's President Mohamed Bazoum. Equipment and training are needed, Guterres said. “Niger cannot face all these multiple challenges alone,” he added, listing major organisations such as the African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) who are key actors for peace and development in the region. Guterres acknowledged however that the G5-Sahel, that brings together Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, “has been weakened by the coups d'Etat that took place in some of your neighbours,” referring to Mali and Burkina Faso in the last two years. “While terrorist attacks continue to increase in the Sahel and spread to the states on the Gulf of Guinea, the international community has to understand it is no longer just a regional African question, but really is a global threat,” the UN chief said.”

Sahara Reporters: Breaking: Boko Haram Fighters Currently Attacking Chibok Community In Borno

“Insurgents from the Islamic State-backed faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province formerly known as Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād, are currently attacking Kautikari village of Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State. SaharaReporters gathered that the insurgents invaded the town on Tuesday, shooting sporadically as residents of the community fled into the forest for safety. Soldiers stationed at a military forward operation base (FOB) in Kada, just 2km away from Kautukari, were also dislodged by the insurgents. “My community is under attack, this is the fourth attack this year alone, please pray for us,” a resident told SaharaReporters. In December 2021 and January 2022, Kautikari was experienced attacks by insurgents who abducted many women and children. Also, a church in the community was razed by the insurgents during the attacks. Attacks in Chibok areas and particularly the recent one in January 2022 made the Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, visit the area to encourage the people as well as the security operatives stationed in the local government to remain strong. During his visit, the governor met with the families of 22 women and two men abducted by the insurgents and asked them to continue to trust in God through prayers.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Former Publican In Court Accused Of Sending Covid Loans Cash To Isis

“A former pub landlord has appeared in court accused of sending thousands of pounds in coronavirus bounceback loans to fund the terrorist group Isis in Syria. Tarek Namouz, a 42-year-old former pub landlord from London of no fixed address, faces eight charges of entering into a terror funding arrangement on dates between November 2020 and May 2021. He is also accused of two counts of possessing terrorist information relating to videos. The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, launched the bounceback loan scheme in May 2020, six weeks into the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown, as part of a series of measures to prop up the UK economy. The scheme was aimed at supporting small British businesses, with £47bn paid out in loans from commercial banks guaranteed by the state. On Monday, Namouz appeared at the Old Bailey in London by video link from Wandsworth jail. Jonathan Polnay, prosecuting, said it was alleged that the defendant sent “the proceeds of coronavirus bounceback funding loans to Isis”. Mr Justice Sweeney said it was a “serious case” which would be heard by Judge Peter Lodder, the recorder of Richmond, sitting at Kingston crown court. A plea and case management hearing was set for 22 July, with a provisional two-week trial from 21 November.”

Canada

The Jerusalem Post: Controversy In Canada Over Resident's Alleged Palestinian Terrorism Ties

“The status of a man living in Canada alleged to be a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization has become the topic of concern for the Canadian Jewish community and the subject of debate in the Canadian senate after an expose by The National Post. Khalid Barakat, who resides in Vancouver, has been named by Israeli intelligence services as a leader of PFLP, The Post's Terry Glavin reported. Barakat has also been described as such by Palestinian news outlets, and at times, the PFLP website. Supporters assert that he is a malaligned Palestinian rights activist. "Khalid Barakat has been barred from the United States, he has been barred from Germany, yet the Trudeau government still allows this individual to remain in Canada, despite a Canadian law that forbids any individual with connections to terrorist organizations from entering our country or receiving Canadian Citizenship," said Senator Leo Housakos in a debate with Senator Marc Gold, the representative of the Government in the Senate. "Why does your government allow him to remain in the country?"”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On May 23, 2016, two suicide bombings at a military base in Aden, Yemen, killed at least 45 army recruits and injured approximately 60 people. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.   

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