Eye on Extremism: November 1, 2022

Bloomberg: UN Says Crypto Use In Terror Financing Likely Soaring

“A United Nations official said more cases of crypto use in terror-financing are being detected amid stepped up scrutiny of such practices. A couple of years ago 5% of terrorist attacks were viewed as crypto-financed or linked to digital assets, but “now we’re thinking that it may reach about 20%,” Svetlana Martynova, senior legal officer at the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, said in an interview in Mumbai. “Statistics here are not our best friends,” Martynova stressed in the Oct. 28 interview. “We’re just seeing more as we’re looking more into it.” Cryptocurrency-based crime hit an all-time high in 2021, with illicit digital-asset addresses receiving $14 billion, up from $7.8 billion in 2020, according to a report by blockchain specialist Chainalysis Inc.  A number of militant organizations, like Al-Qaeda or al-Qassam Brigades -- Hamas’ military wing -- tried to finance operations with crypto but it’s hard to find “a group that has gotten away with it,” Chainalysis said. Martynova said a UN Security Council resolution specifically calls on member states to tackle the risks linked to virtual assets and terrorism financing. She added that the Financial Action Task Force has helped to set global standards on regulations, particularly for tracking information on blockchains across jurisdictions -- known as the Travel Rule.”

Reuters: EU Examines Classifying Iran Revolutionary Guards As Terrorists – Germany

“Germany and the European Union are examining whether to classify Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Sunday. "I made it clear last week that we will launch another package of sanctions, that we will examine how we can also list the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation," Baerbock said in a interview with ARD broadcaster on Sunday. Her comments come after the head of the Revolutionary Guards warned protesters that Saturday would be their last day of taking to the streets, in a sign that security forces may intensify their already fierce crackdown on widespread unrest. Germany last week said it was tightening entry restrictions on Iran beyond an already announced EU sanctions package. Baebock also said there were currently no negotiations about the nuclear agreement between Iran and the West.”

United States

CNN: Sheriff’s Office Says Antisemitic Messages In Jacksonville Were Not Crimes

“The multiple antisemitic messages that appeared in public spaces in Jacksonville, Florida, this weekend, including at the high-profile Florida-Georgia college football game, do not constitute crimes at this time, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said. “At this time, the Sheriff’s Office has not identified any crimes having been committed; the comments displayed do not include any type of threat and are protected by the First Amendment,” public information officer T.N. Dash said in an email. “We will continue to monitor any reports of this nature to determine if they rise to level of a criminal nature.” The Jacksonville branch of the FBI also said it is in contact with the sheriff’s office in case the investigation reveals further information of a crime. “Investigating these acts remains a top priority for the FBI because hate crimes are not only an attack on the victim – these acts are meant to threaten and intimidate an entire community,” FBI Jacksonville Special Agent in Charge Sherri Onks said. The police statements came as local and state officials condemned the antisemitic messages. The US has seen a rise in antisemitic incidents over the past few years, with 941 incidents in 2015 jumping to 2,717 tracked in 2021 by the Anti-Defamation League. Four years ago, a gunman stormed into a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and killed 11 people in the deadliest attack on Jewish people on US soil.”

AFP: US Woman Who Led Female ISIS Battalion Faces 20 Years In Prison

“A US woman who grew up on a farm in Kansas, converted to Islam and joined ISIS in Syria — where she led an all-female military battalion — is to be sentenced Tuesday for providing support to a foreign terrorist group. Allison Fluke-Ekren, 42, faces up to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to terror charges in June in a US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. “For at least eight years, Fluke-Ekren committed terrorist acts on behalf of three foreign terrorist organisations across war zones in Libya, Iraq, and Syria,” US attorney Raj Parekh said. “Fluke-Ekren brainwashed young girls and trained them to kill,” Mr Parekh said. “She carved a path of terror, plunging her own children into unfathomable depths of cruelty by physically, psychologically, emotionally and sexually abusing them.” Mr Parekh, urging Judge Leonie Brinkema to impose the maximum 20 year sentence, traced Ms Fluke-Ekren's path from her upbringing on an 33-hectare farm in Kansas to her apprehension in Syria after the 2019 territorial defeat of ISIS. While other Americans travelled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS, most were men. Ms Fluke-Ekren is the rare US woman who occupied a senior position in the ranks of the now-defunct group. Born Allison Brooks, she grew up in a “loving and stable home” in Overbrook, Kansas, and was considered a “gifted” student, the US attorney said. She dropped out of high school in her sophomore year, however, and married a local man named Fluke, with whom she had two children.”

Penn Live: Pa. Prison Guard’s Stabbing Was Terrorist Attack, Government Says

“The 2020 stabbing of an Allenwood Federal Penitentiary corrections officer was an ISIS terrorist attack, the government alleges. That was revealed Monday in the government’s opposition to the request of Kuwait-born Abdulrahman el Bahnasawy to resolve his U.S. Middle District criminal case by pleading no contest to two counts. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney George J. Rocktashel, the inmate had in his sock when Dale Franquet Jr. was attacked on Dec. 7, 2020, a note that stated: “This is a terrorist attack for the Islamic State.”

Iran

AFP: Iran Arrests ‘Accomplice’ Of Islamic State-Claimed Shrine Attack That Killed 15

“Iran announced Monday that a suspected accomplice of the shooter who carried out a deadly attack on a Shiite Muslim shrine in Shiraz has been arrested, state news agency IRNA reported. At least 13 people were killed Wednesday in the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in the southern city, according to a revised official toll, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group. State media had initially given a death toll of 15. “The second person involved in the terrorist operation at the sacred sanctuary, who provided support, has been arrested,” said local deputy governor Esmail Mohebipour, quoted by IRNA. The suspect, arrested Sunday evening in Shiraz, had not entered the shrine, and his alleged role was not clear. The perpetrator of the attack in Shiraz, identified by local media as Hamed Badakhshan, died of wounds sustained while he was being arrested, a local official said Saturday. The shooting at the shrine came on the same day that thousands of people across Iran paid tribute to Mahsa Amini, 40 days after her death in police custody. Amini, 22, died on September 16, three days after her arrest by the morality police in Tehran for allegedly breaching the country’s Islamic dress code for women. Remarks made Thursday by President Ebrahim Raisi appeared to link the Shiraz attack, one of the country’s deadliest in years, with the protests and “riots” following Amini’s death.”

Nigeria

Voice Of America: Nigerian President Meets Security Chiefs Amid Terror Alerts By Foreign Missions

“Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari is holding emergency meetings Monday with security chiefs after several foreign missions issued terror warnings last week for the capital, Abuja. Buhar’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, made the announcement in a tweet late Sunday. He said top security officials including the defense minister, armed services chiefs, police and heads of other security agencies will meet the president in Abuja on Monday morning. Shehu said the meeting is to further review and strengthen the security network in the country. The meeting follows series of warning by various foreign missions in Nigeria of an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, especially the capital. The U.S., UK, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Turkey and Austria last week issued advisories to their citizens warning against non-essential travel to Nigeria. Nigerian authorities insist the country is safe and that there is no cause for alarm. But the warning caused fears among residents and led to the shutdown of businesses and activities. Security expert Senator Iruegbu said authorities are only trying to allay fears but that the warnings must be taken seriously. “We have to continue as members of the public for one's safety, we have to continue demanding that they should improve. When they give assurances, I think that's the right thing to do because you don't need to create more panic or to show the public you're not in charge of the situation,” said Iruegbu.”

AFP: Nigeria Army Repels Attack On Base, Kills 8 ISWAP Jihadists

“Nigeria’s military killed eight suspected of Islamic State-allied jihadists after repelling a raid on a military base in central Niger state, where hundreds of militants are being held, two military sources said on Monday. Dozens of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters tried to break into the Wawa military cantonment in the remote New Bussa village near the border with Benin Republic late on Saturday to free more than 1,000 of their comrades detained there, the military officers told AFP. The Wawa attack underscores the threat ISWAP poses to Nigeria as the group expands outside its traditional northeast stronghold, where the army has battled jihadists for more than a decade. “The terrorists attacked the base around midnight in large numbers but they were pulverised with air support, leading to the death of eight of them,” one military officer said. Three of the attackers, including their commander, were captured in the fight, the officer said. The army has still not officially commented on the attack. Troops at the base had received intelligence militants were preparing an attack and waited for them, said a second officer who gave the same toll. The jihadists tried to blast their way through the gates of the base with dynamite and heavy guns, but met “stiff resistance” from troops at the base, said the second source. “It was obvious they wanted to free other terrorists being held in the facility as they did in Kuje Prison,” said the officer.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Troops Retake Town From Al-Shabaab

“The Somali forces have retaken Ali Gadud Mosque in the Middle Shabelle region this morning, where they have been struggling to control it for the past few days. The Minister of Information of Somalia Daoud Aweys Jama said that the forces of the country and the local forces have completely taken control of the area from Al-Shabaab. The minister who spoke to the media in Mogadishu said that Al-Shabaab has been in control of the village for years. He added that 100 militants were killed in the offensive. Also, Daoud Aweys, said that community services will be delivered to the area, calling on the military to continue operations against Al-Shabaab. According to reports, the military carried out a mine search operation in the area of Masjid Ali Gadud and some of them blew up, which they buried in Al-Shabaab.”

United Kingdom

The National: Expert In ‘Blinking Red’ Warning Of Lone Wolf Terror Amid Cost Of Living Crisis

“Britain may be facing a “perfect storm” over the next six months with the risk of a new wave of far-right lone wolf terrorists competing to be “saints and martyrs” on a computer game-style leader board, an expert has said. Professor Matthew Feldman, who has given evidence in 40 convictions of radical right extremists in the UK, warned of a heightened threat this winter amid the cost-of-living crisis and political instability. In an interview with the PA news agency, he identified at least five lone wolf attacks over the last seven years, while highlighting counter-terrorism police officers’ continuing success in foiling more plots. The murder of MP Jo Cox by a right-wing extremist in 2016 was followed a year later by a fatal van attack on Muslims in Finsbury Park. In 2020, a teenager enacted a demonic ideology with far-right associations by killing sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman in a London park. Prof Feldman counts the fatal shooting of five people in Plymouth in August last year as a lone wolf attack, most likely driven by “Incel” ideology. Also last year, the Southend MP Sir David Amess was cut down at a constituency surgery by an Islamic State fanatic. Prof Feldman said the far-right variant of what he calls “self-directed terror” is on the rise globally, fuelled by the glorification of mass murderers such as Norwegian Anders Breivik, whose 2011 manifesto is still just three clicks away online.”

Germany

Bulan Institute For Peace Innovations: Interview With Ms. Sofia Koller, Senior Research Analyst At The German Counter Extremism Project

“About 1,150 individuals left Germany and traveled to the Middle East to join ISIS and other terrorist groups.  Germany has conducted various repatriation operations bringing back ISIS-affiliated women and minors though many male fighters remain in Syria and Iraq. According to a recent report published by the Counter Extremism Project, at least 7 women and 22 children remain in the Al-Roj camp, with 2 German women also present in the Al-Howl camp in Northeast Syria. The Bulan Institute interviewed Ms. Sofia Koller, a Senior Research Analyst at the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) in Germany. She conducted extensive research on the state approaches in EU countries toward former fighters and their family members. From June 2018 to December 2021, Sofia Koller was a research fellow for counterterrorism and the prevention of violent extremism as well as project leader of the International Forum for Expert Exchange on Countering Islamist Extremism.  She studied international relations and management at the University of Applied Sciences Regensburg and the German-Jordanian University in Amman as well as international conflict studies at the War Studies Department at King’s College London.”

Technology

New York Post: Far-Right Extremist Nicholas Fuentes Tries To Get Back On Twitter — But Is Banned

“Nicholas Fuentes, a white nationalist who was banned from Twitter last year, tried to get back on the social media site now that it’s owned by free speech advocate Elon Musk — only to be turned away by the platform once again. Fuentes — who has been banned by other tech sites including YouTube, Reddit, TikTok, Spotify, Venmo and Clubhouse for making several incendiary comments deemed racist and anti-Semitic — created new Twitter accounts in hopes of rejoining the service, according to the Daily Beast. Among the new Twitter handles that Fuentes created in hopes of getting back onto the microblogging site were @spookygoblin8, according to the Daily Beast. The Post has sought comment from Fuentes and Twitter. Fuentes first gained notoriety in 2017 when he said he was forced to leave Boston University, where he was enrolled as a student, after receiving threats for taking part in the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. He would eventually found an organization called America First Foundation, which the Justice Department has deemed a white nationalist organization. Fuentes was removed from several tech platforms last year after making controversial comments about the US losing its “white demographic core” while praising the riots at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as “awesome.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

Without doubt, the secularists are evil and more malicious than the polytheists and secularism is farther astray from the path and more malicious than polytheism. The secularists who are associated with Islam even [merely] by identity are considered apostates by a group of scholars. The Jews, Christians, those who worship graves, and many polytheists and unbelievers have committed lesser acts of unbelief than the secularists.

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Salafist propagandist Mar. 1, 2021
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