Eye on Extremism: November 10, 2023

Bloomberg: Israel Fears War On The Horizon Against Hezbollah In The North

“In Kibbutz Eilon, an Israeli cooperative a mile south of Lebanon, the avocado and banana farming families have been replaced by an infantry company specialized in mortars and anti-tank support. The boom of howitzers punctuates the soft air. There is a sense of impending conflict. Ever since Hamas militants broke through the border fence in southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing and kidnapping their way into the neighboring communities, life on Israel’s northern border has taken a radical turn. Tens of thousands have been evacuated and the army has moved in with tanks, artillery and troops. The fear is that Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based Islamist group, may be preparing to join the war — or breach the boundary with Israel in a fresh attack. “We have to stay on this border to send a message of deterrence,” said Major Ariel, 30, the commander of the company in Eilon, who is on reserve duty. A physician and father of three young daughters, he adds, “My life is on hold. I don’t know how long I will be here but we can’t leave. October 7th was a wake-up call.” Over the past five weeks, the world’s attention has been on Israel’s aerial and ground invasion of Gaza designed to uproot Hamas’s infrastructure and destroy the group’s military capability, with thousands of civilian casualties. But an equal — perhaps bigger — concern for Israel’s military and the country is Hezbollah, which has nearly 10 times the number of missiles as Hamas and a bigger, more professional fighting force. US carrier battle fleets are in the Mediterranean to warn Hezbollah and its sponsor, Iran, against joining in.”

Associated Press: Analysts Warn That Pakistan’s Anti-Migrant Crackdown Risks Radicalizing Deported Afghans

“The Pakistani government’s crackdown on undocumented migrants and mass deportations to Afghanistan risk radicalizing those who have been forced out of the country — often returning to deplorable conditions back home, analysts and experts said Thursday. More than 250,000 Afghans have left Pakistan in recent weeks as the government rounded up, arrested and kicked out foreign nationals without papers. The drive mostly affects Afghans who make up the majority of foreigners living in Pakistan, although authorities say that all who are in the country illegally are targeted. Thousands are crossing the border every day into Afghanistan with few or no belongings, enduring harsh conditions until they are relocated within a country they left to seek a better life. The mistreatment could lead to their radicalization by fueling hatred for Pakistan, said Zahid Hussain, an analyst of militancy and author of several books, including “Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam.” There should have been an agreement between Islamabad and the Taliban-led government in Kabul to avoid a backlash, added Hussain. Instead, Pakistan is detaining and crowding Afghans in holding centers. “It creates hate ... and some of them can be radicalized against Pakistan when they return home,” Hussain told The Associated Press. The forced expulsions will further strain relations between the two sides, and a new “wave of hate” arising from the deportations will be the result of the government’s flawed policy, he added.”

CEP Mentions

KUOW: Suspicious Letters Targeting Pierce, King Elections Share Striking Similarities

“…Joshua Fisher-Birch, a research analyst with the Counter Extremism Project, said people should not be quick to blame far-left groups for the letters just because of the symbols included. In fact, he said the opposite could be true. “While this threat includes anti-fascist and what appears to be a Satanist symbol, as well as a version of an LGBTQ+ Pride flag, it is extremely likely that the sender does not belong to any of those groups or communities, but, in fact, holds far right or extreme right beliefs, and is seeking to blame antifascists, Satanists, and LGBTQ+ people," Fisher-Birch said. "The message that there should be ‘no more elections’ because the U.S. is ‘a communist country’ does not fit with the symbols. Overall, this resembles previous hoaxes by the far right in an attempt to blame the left.”

United States

Associated Press: Clashes Over Israel-Hamas War Shatter Students’ Sense Of Safety On US College Campuses

“As a Jewish student, Eden Roth always has felt safe and welcome at Tulane University, where more than 40% of the students are Jewish. That has been tested by the aftermath of last month’s Hamas incursion into Israel. Graffiti appeared on the New Orleans campus with the message “from the river to the sea,” a rallying cry for pro-Palestinian activists. Then came a clash between dueling demonstrations, where a melee led to three arrests and left a Jewish student with a broken nose. “I think that the shift of experience with Jews on campus was extremely shocking,” said Roth, who was in Israel last summer for a study-abroad program. “A lot of students come to Tulane because of the Jewish population — feeling like they’re supported, like a majority rather than a minority. And I think that’s definitely shifted.” Tulane isn’t alone. On other campuses, long-simmering tensions are erupting in violence and shattering the sense of safety that makes colleges hubs of free discourse. Students on both sides are witnessing acts of hate, leaving many fearing for their safety even as they walk to classrooms. Threats and clashes have sometimes come from within, including at Cornell, where a student is accused of posting online threats against Jewish students. A University of Massachusetts student was arrested after allegedly punching a Jewish student and spitting on an Israeli flag at a demonstration. At Stanford, an Arab Muslim student was hit by a car in a case being investigated as a hate crime.”


Reuters: Iran Warns Expansion Of Gaza War 'Inevitable'; Officials Say Air Strikes Hit Hospitals

“Iran warned the scale of civilian suffering caused by Israel's war on Hamas would inevitably lead to an expansion of the conflict, as officials in Gaza reported Israeli air strikes on or near several hospitals in the Palestinian enclave. The comments from Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian could ramp up concerns over whether Washington's diplomatic efforts and deployment of U.S. naval forces to the eastern Mediterranean will be able to keep the conflict from further destabilising the Middle East. "Due to the expansion of the intensity of the war against Gaza's civilian residents, expansion of the scope of the war has become inevitable," Amir-Abdollahian told his Qatari counterpart Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Thursday night. Iran's state-run Press TV reported the comments, made during a telephone conversation, on Friday. Israel's bombardment and siege of Gaza over the past month has created a humanitarian catastrophe with thousands seeking medical treatment and shelter in the few hospitals still open, with those in the combat zone operating in grave danger. "The Israeli occupation launched simultaneous strikes on a number of hospitals during the past hours," Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra told Al Jazeera television.”


Washington Post: Taliban Success Emboldens Pakistani Militants, And Deadly Attacks Surge

“The attackers descended from the steep mountains that tower over Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan in the early morning hours. Gunfire echoed in the valleys as Pakistani Taliban fighters stormed Pakistani military posts. By the time the fighting stopped hours later, four soldiers and 12 militants were dead. The Sept. 6 attack, described by officials in Pakistan as a cross-border assault from Afghanistan, stunned a Pakistani leadership that had thought the Pakistani Taliban to be virtually eliminated. But the victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan two years ago has energized the Pakistani militant group. And while the Afghan government denies allegations that it is providing havens to that group, security analysts said the success of the Afghan Taliban has at a minimum emboldened its Pakistani counterparts and encouraged them to fully embrace the same playbook. The string of deadly blasts and shootings has led to a moment of soul-searching in Pakistan. During the 20-year U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s leadership was frequently accused of harboring or tolerating Afghan Taliban leaders and fighters. It now appears to find itself on the reverse end of a very similar situation. The violence has horrified Pakistanis, whose memories of the group’s first wave of insurgency more than a decade ago are still vivid. The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP, has been seeking to oust the country’s establishment and put in place a conservative Islamic legal and political system, similar to the one now in power in Afghanistan.”


Associated Press: Internet Collapses In War-Torn Yemen Over ‘Maintenance’ After Houthi Attacks Targeting Israel And US

“Internet access across the war-torn nation of Yemen collapsed Friday and stayed down for hours, with officials later blaming unannounced “maintenance work” for an outage that followed attacks by the country’s Houthi rebels on both Israel and the U.S. The outage began early Friday and halted all traffic at YemenNet, the country’s main provider for about 10 million users which is now controlled by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthis. Both NetBlocks, a group tracking internet outages, and the internet services company CloudFlare reported the outage. The two did not offer a cause for the outage. “Data shows that the issue has impacted connectivity at a national level as well,” CloudFlare said. Several hours later, some service was restored, though access remained troubled. In a statement to the Houthi-controlled SABA state news agency, Yemen’s Public Telecom Corp. blamed the outage on maintenance. “Internet service will return after the completion of the maintenance work,” the statement quoted an unidentified official as saying. An earlier outage occurred in January 2022 when the Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthis in Yemen bombed a telecommunications building in the Red City port city of Hodeida. There was no immediate word of a similar attack.”

Middle East

Bloomberg: Israel Latest: Reports Of Strike On Gaza City’s Main Hospital

“Dozens were killed and wounded from an Israeli strike on outpatient clinics of Al-Shifa Medical complex in Gaza City, Palestine Authority radio reports. The Israeli military has said that Hamas’s main military headquarters is located underground near Al-Shifa and has told the hospital to evacuate patients. Israel is providing “quick humanitarian windows” to allow people to flee northern Gaza while the military fights Hamas militants, IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said. The IDF estimates between 50,000 and 100,000 people have exited northern Gaza in the last few days and a total of 850,000-900,000 have fled the area, Conricus said. More than a million people lived in northern Gaza at the outbreak of the war.”


Associated Press: United Nations Suspends Pullout Of African Union Troops From Somalia As Battles With Militants Rage

“The United Nations Security Council on Thursday suspended for a period of three months the pullout of African Union troop from Somalia, where fighting rages with al-Qaida’s affiliate in East Africa. The decision follows a request by the Horn of Africa nation for the forces to remain in the country to help in the fight against the al-Shabab extremists. Somalia’s request was supported by the African Union, all countries that contribute soldiers to the force and the council, which agreed to delay the pullout of the 19,000-strong AU force for 90 days. Last year in April, the council unanimously approved a new African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, known as ATMIS, to support the Somalis until their forces take full responsibility for the country’s security at the end of 2024. ATMIS replaced the African Union Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, which has been in the Horn of Africa nation for 15 years helping peacebuilding in Somalia. However, the new force was to be withdrawn in phases, starting last June, when 2,000 soldiers left Somalia and handed over six forward operating bases to federal security forces. The second part of the pullout began in September in line with the U.N. resolution which anticipates the withdrawal to be completed by December 2024.”


Politico: French Court Annuls Ban Of Climate Movement Over ‘Eco-Terrorism’ Claims

“France’s top administrative court Thursday annulled a government decision to ban a climate activist movement after it repeatedly clashed with the police during protests. Although the climate group "engaged in provocative and violent acts against property," its disbanding was "not appropriate, necessary and proportionate to the situation," the French Council of State found, declaring the interior ministry's order to disband the organization null and void. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin in June ordered the leaderless climate group Les Soulèvements de la Terre (“Uprisings of the earth”) to be disbanded following violent clashes between campaigners and the police during protests against the construction of large water reservoirs in western France. Darmanin argued that the activists were inciting “eco-terrorism” across the country, and 18 people were arrested. Judges temporarily suspended the government’s disbanding order in August, arguing it restricted the activists’ freedom of assembly and that the interior ministry did not provide enough evidence to back up its claim that the climate movement was inciting violence. Thursday’s ruling upholds this initial decision. The activist group, created in 2021, counts more than 150,000 supporters and is made up of close to 200 local groupings. It has no clear leadership structure and isn’t officially registered as an association or nonprofit organization — making it difficult to disband.”


The New York Times: Germany’s Stifling Of Pro-Palestinian Voices Pits Historical Guilt Against Free Speech

“Since fleeing Syria a decade ago, Wafa Mustafa has spoken out for political prisoners at the United Nations, held vigils outside war crimes trials and chanted in solidarity with Iranians protesting their authoritarian government. Her activism won attention and praise in Germany, her adopted country — until she took it to a protest in support of Palestinians. Last month, Ms. Mustafa said the police approached her and a fellow activist in Berlin as they stood on the sidelines of a protest, which the authorities had banned, against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. The two were not demonstrating, she said, but wore the black and white Palestinian scarf known as the kaffiyeh. The police pushed her friend to the ground, pinned him down for several minutes and arrested him. She filmed the episode while demanding an explanation. Instead of getting an answer, she, too, was briefly detained, accused of resisting the police. “What I saw in their eyes is similar to what I saw in the eyes of Assad regime forces,” Ms. Mustafa said, referring to Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator. “I know it’s not the same, but that is how I felt,” she said. “When you look into their eyes, there is nothing. You cannot talk with them, you cannot discuss with them. You cannot ask them, ‘What are you doing?’””

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.

View Archive