Eye on Extremism: November 13, 2020

Associated Press: UN Votes To Crack Down On Somalia's Al-Shabab Extremists

“The U.N. Security Council voted Thursday to prevent the sale or shipment to Somalia of components of improvised explosive devices if there is “significant risk” they may be used to manufacture the often deadly devices that are increasingly being used in attacks by al-Shabab extremists. It also urged the Somali government to keep cracking down on the militant group’s illegal financing methods that U.N. experts estimate raised over $21 million last year. The resolution, adopted by a 13-0 vote with Russia and China abstaining, reaffirmed the arms embargo on Somalia and banned the resale or transfer of any weapons or military equipment sold or supplied to help develop Somalia’s National Security Forces and security sector. Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab remains the most active and resilient extremist group in Africa, controlling parts of southern and central Somalia and often targeting checkpoints and other high-profile areas in the capital, Mogadishu. It has fired several mortars this year at the heavily defended international airport, where the U.S. Embassy and other missions are located.”

Reuters: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Jeddah Attack

“Islamic State claimed responsibility on Thursday for an attack on a non-Muslim cemetery in the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah which wounded several people, although it did not provide any evidence to back up its claim. In a statement issued through its official channel on Telegram, the group said that its “soldiers” had managed to hide a homemade bomb in the cemetery on Wednesday that then exploded after several “consuls of crusading countries” gathered there. The explosion, which occurred during a World War One remembrance ceremony involving foreign embassies, was the second security incident to take place in Jeddah in the last couple of weeks, and the first attack with explosives in years to attempt to hit foreigners in the conservative kingdom. In a second statement, the Islamic State said they were primarily targeting the French consul general, who attended the ceremony, over what it said was France’s insistence on publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad. France’s government has defended the right to publish the cartoons, which are considered blasphemous by Muslims. On Oct. 18, an Islamic State spokesman called on the militant group’s supporters to target Westerners, oil pipelines and economic infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.”

United States

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Pittsburgh A 'Hub' For White Supremacy, FBI Analysts Say

“Pittsburgh is a focal point for white supremacy and extremists, an FBI analyst said Thursday at a symposium on domestic terrorism. “Our area has become a hub. It's important to understand that it is here,” said John Pulcastro, a supervisory analyst at the Pittsburgh FBI. In fact, he said the movement is as strong here as at any other place in the country he has studied in 20 years, including the Pacific Northwest, a hotbed for supremacists. Extremist groups are active here in holding events and recruiting. As an example, he said 100 members of a neo-Nazi group called the Patriot Front marched down the Boulevard of the Allies on a recent weekend. Their motto, “Conquer or Die,” makes their ideology clear, he said. Another catch-phrase, “Blood and Soil,” is aimed at making America a white country only, with refugees seen as invaders, Mr. Pulcastro said. “They believe they are being invaded,” he said. “They are training for an invasion.” If a civil war begins, he said, the Patriot Front plan on being ready. Mr. Pulcastro and another analyst, Matt Trosan, spoke Thursday at a two-day Duquesne University event on Zoom called “When Hate Hits Home” presented by the Cyril H. Wecht Institute. Their focus was on how violent extremism is evolving in America and what to do about it.”

The Salt Lake Tribune: Utah Man Pleads Guilty To Trying To Help The Islamic State Carry Out A Terrorist Attack

“A Utah man arrested in August 2019 has pleaded guilty to trying to help the Islamic State terrorist organization carry out bomb attacks. Murat Suljovic, 23, of Salt Lake City, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. According to court documents, Suljovic admitted that in January 2019, while he was living in Utah, he corresponded with two people he believed were members of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and that he believed they were planning to carry out an attack. The two people were members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. In the plea agreement, Suljovic — who posed online as an Islamic State leader — admitted that in January 2019, he “provided advice about potential targets for a terrorist attack and advice about how to plan an attack.” He also provided a “video bomb-making tutorial” to the other two people, intending to assist them “in carrying out an attack.” And, by doing so, he “attempted to provide material support to ISIS, knowing that ISIS has engaged and does engage in terrorism.” Sulojovic remains in custody and his sentencing will be scheduled later. He is facing a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.”

Detroit Metro Times: Alleged Domestic Terrorist Leader Wanted To Televise Whitmer Murders, Attorney General's Office Says

“Remember 1,000 years ago in December, 2019, when everyone was afraid that the grisly Joker could inspire mass shootings? New details from the alleged domestic terrorist plot to murder Gov. Gretchen Whitmer seem like something straight out of the film. According to new details from the Michigan Attorney General's Office and first reported by the Detroit Free Press, the accused ringleader of the thwarted plot — Adam Fox, 37, of Grand Rapids — wanted to perform the executions on television. According to a brief, Fox discussed the plans during a Second Amendment rally outside the Capitol building in Lansing on June 18, where he proposed two options. One was to recruit 200 men to storm the Capitol while Congress was in session, take hostages, and execute them on television over the course of week. The other plan was to storm the Capitol while Congress was in session and set fire to the building. The brief contains other details, including that collaborator Pete Musico, 42, of Munith, claimed to have thrown a Molotov cocktail in a police officer’s home, and tried to get a Michigan State Police trooper to touch him at a rally at the Michigan State Capitol.”
 

Iran

The Washington Post: Iran Arrests Separatist Leader Accused Of Attack Killing 25

“Iran’s intelligence ministry arrested a leader of a separatist group allegedly involved in the killing of dozens of people during a military parade in 2018, state-run IRNA news agency reported Thursday. The report said the ministry announced that Farajollah Cha’ab was arrested and called him “the main person in the terrorist attack” in September 2018 in the southwestern city of Ahvaz. The report did not elaborate on when or where he was arrested. The statement said Cha’ab had been planning more attacks in Tehran and Khuzestan province. In September 2018, militants disguised as soldiers opened fire on an annual military parade in Ahvaz city, the capital of Khuzestan province. At least 25 people were killed and 70 wounded, including a 4-year-old boy. The report said Saudi Arabia and Israeli intelligence services supported the group.”

Turkey

Daily Sabah: Security Forces Arrest 42 Daesh Terror Suspects

“At least 42 people with suspected links to Daesh were arrested in Turkey, security sources said Thursday. A total of 24 suspects were nabbed in operations by anti-terror teams in Şanlıurfa, Diyarbakır and Bursa provinces, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media. The suspects recruited people into the terrorist group, attempted to bring terrorists from conflict zones into Turkey and conducted organizational meetings, the sources said. A shotgun, ammunition, books, magazines and digital material were seized in the raids. In southern Osmaniye province, 18 more Daesh suspects were arrested in operations by anti-terror teams, according to the sources. The suspects were involved in terrorist propaganda operations, and their digital material was seized in the raids, they added. In 2013, Turkey became one of the first countries to declare Daesh a terrorist group. The country has since been attacked by Daesh terrorists multiple times, with 315 people killed and hundreds more injured in at least 10 suicide bombings, seven bomb attacks and four armed assaults. In response, Turkey launched counterterrorism operations at home and abroad to prevent further attacks.”

Saudi Arabia

The Wall Street Journal: Several Shots Fired At Saudi Embassy In The Hague, Netherlands

“Several shots were fired at Saudi Arabia’s Embassy in The Hague early on Thursday, leaving bullet holes across the building’s facade, a day after a bomb blast hit a World War I commemoration ceremony attended by Western diplomats in the kingdom. No one was injured in the attack and the Dutch police said they have arrested a 40-year-old man from the nearby town of Zoetermeer on suspicion of involvement in the shooting incident. The police said they have launched an investigation and appealed for witnesses. Riyadh condemned the attack as “cowardly” and thanked Dutch authorities for their quick response in attending the scene, according to the kingdom’s official Saudi Press Agency. Saudi Arabia urged its citizens in the Netherlands to take extra caution. The motive for the attack on the Saudi Embassy in The Hague wasn’t immediately clear, but it comes amid an escalating confrontation between neighboring France and radical Islam. Also on Thursday, Islamic State claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s bomb attack in the Saudi kingdom, but didn’t provide any evidence of its involvement, according to Site Intelligence Group, which monitors and tracks radical groups online.”

Mali

Agence France-Presse: French Forces Kill Jihadist Commander In Mali

“France announced Friday that its anti-jihadist force in Mali had killed the military commander of an Al-Qaeda-aligned group linked to attacks in the region. The killing of Ba Ag Moussa is a major boost for the thousands-strong French Barkhane force stationed in the Sahel region of Africa for over half a decade in a grinding fight against multiple jihadist groups who are often also fighting each other. Symbolically, it was also announced on the five-year anniversary of the November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris by jihadist gunmen and suicide bombers that were France's worst ever peacetime atrocity. Defence Minister Florence Parly hailed the operation involving helicopters and ground troops that "neutralised" Ba Ag Moussa, described as the military commander of the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) … The killing of Ag Moussa, a former soldier in the Mali army who turned to jihadism, could thus be even more significant. According to the Counter-Extremism Project (CEP), he in 2017 became the operational chief of GISM under its leader Iyad Ag Ghaly. It has become one of the main jihadist forces in the Sahel along with the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group, which is also is sworn enemy. Both are targets of the Barkhane force's operations. Analysts say that Ag Moussa had been behind deadly attacks that targeted Malian forces but he also enjoyed popularity within his ethnic Touareg community.”

Africa

Reuters: Fourteen Burkinabe Soldiers Killed In Ambush Ahead Of Presidential Election

“Fourteen soldiers in Burkina Faso were killed on Wednesday in an ambush by suspected Islamist militants, the government said, close to a week before a presidential election. Worsening insecurity in the West African country is the main issue in the Nov. 22 vote, when President Roch Marc Kabore is seeking a second term. In recent years, militant groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State have killed hundreds of soldiers and civilians and stoked ethnic conflict, part of a wider security crisis across West Africa’s Sahel region. The 14 soldiers were killed and a further eight wounded in the northern province of Oudalan, near the borders with Mali and Niger, the ministry of communication said in a statement on Thursday. “The defence and security forces have been deployed in the area and are carrying out search operations and tracking down the perpetrators of this attack,” the ministry said. A security source said about 10 of the assailants were killed in the ensuing battle. The army had no immediate comment. Kabore, who faces 12 challengers on the ballot, has promised to restore security to a country that had long been a relative island of stability in a turbulent region. The militant groups have grown stronger and extended their influence despite the presence of thousands of French and other international troops across the Sahel.”

The Christian Post: Over 50 Beheaded By ISIS-Aligned Extremists In Mozambique Raid

“Suspected Islamic State-aligned militants beheaded dozens of people and abducted others in weekend raids in the southern African country of Mozambique, according to state media. Bernardino Rafael, who commands Mozambique’s police force, told media during a Monday briefing that extremists carried out attacks on several villages in the Miudumbe and Macomia districts of the Cabo Delgado province. With the beheading of over 50 people, Rafael said the terrorists also abducted women and children as well as burned down homes … In August, ASWJ militants attacked villagers in the port of Mocimboa de Praia, where militants reportedly overtook government troops to temporarily seize control of the area, according to the BBC. The Counter Extremism Project stated that the “port is pivotal in the transit of oil and gas equipment.” “Mozambique’s government, however, is ill-equipped to counter the growing number of radical insurgents,” the project warned in a report. “Additionally, there have been reports that Mozambique’s security forces have fled scenes of insurgent activity as the number of insurgents greatly outnumbers security forces in the area.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Two Men Arrested In Pall Mall Over Suspected Terror Plot

“Two men seen acting suspiciously in Westminster have been arrested over a suspected terror plot.

The pair, both aged 34 and from east London, were held in Pall Mall, which connects Trafalgar Square to St James's Street, shortly after midnight. Officers searched both men and the vehicle. They were arrested on suspicion of the preparation of terrorist acts, contrary to section five of the Terrorism Act 2006. The Met Police's counter-terror unit is leading the investigation. Commander Richard Smith said: “Every day, police officers are on patrol across the capital, watching for suspicious behaviour and stopping people they suspect may be involved in criminality. “The public can help us continue to keep London safe by being vigilant and reporting any suspicious behaviour to police.” The UK terror threat level was escalated from “substantial” to “severe” last week, meaning an attack on UK soil is now deemed “highly likely”. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the decision was a “precautionary measure” following suspected Islamist attacks in Austria and France.”

Sky News: New Law Planned To Make All Businesses Assess Their Risk Of Terrorist Attack

“The government is planning to introduce a new law to force all businesses to assess their risk of a terrorist attack and take measures to cope with the threat. Details of the new legislation emerged at the inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing, where Shaun Hipgrave - from the government's Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT) - was giving evidence. Mr Hipgrave, who is part of the Home Office, acknowledged the legislation would have “such an impact on this country that we want to get it right”. It appears to be designed to echo health and safety legislation by putting a duty on businesses and local authorities to take into account the risk of terrorism and to train their staff to deal with that risk. The police only have 200 counter-terrorism security advisers across the whole country and the legislation is expected to affect up to 650,000 venues. To cope with the demand, the government is already developing an online “platform” to help firms understand the risk. The move is supported by some of the families of the victims of the Manchester attack in May 2017 - which killed 22 people - particularly Figen Murray, who is seeking to introduce legislation dubbed Martyn's law after her son Martyn Hett died in the atrocity.”

Germany

Al Jazeera: Germany Charges 12 In Far-Right ‘Terror’ Plot

“German federal prosecutors have charged 12 alleged far-right conspirators suspected of planning “terrorist attacks” on politicians, asylum seekers and Muslims, security service sources told AFP news agency on Thursday. Eleven of the men, arrested in countrywide raids in February, stand accused of the membership of a “terrorist organisation” and weapons law violations. The 12th alleged conspirator has been charged with supporting a “terrorist group”. The federal prosecutor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment. The arrests followed raids, some by heavily armed special units, which hit 13 locations in six German states. The four prime suspects planned to spark “a civil-war-like situation … via as yet undefined attacks on politicians, asylum seekers and people of Muslim faith”, federal prosecutors said in February. According to media reports earlier this year, the group planned to use semiautomatic weapons to mirror attacks in Christchurch in March 2019 in New Zealand in which 51 people were killed at two mosques. The suspects are believed to have founded a “right-wing terrorist organisation” with the goal of “destabilising and ultimately overthrowing” Germany’s democratic order.”

Technology

Vice: Trump’s Continued Election Fight Fuelling Violent, Online Neo-Nazis

“While President Trump continues to reject the results of the U.S. presidential election, the neo-Nazis populating the underbelly of the self-declared "Terrorgram"—a shorthand name for the ecosystem of neo-Nazi militants and their sympathisers on the Telegram app—have elected to take a wait-and-see approach to the future of the American experiment … Joshua Fisher-Birch, of the Counter Extremism Project, a U.S.-based terrorism watchdog, is alarmed. “Following Election Day, channels that make up the neo-Nazi accelerationist and extreme white supremacist sphere of Telegram have continued to declare that they cannot use the political system to meet their demands and have advocated for their followers to either increase tension or to stay out of the immediate situation because they view medium-term civil conflict as inevitable,” he said. According to him, much of the chatter is neither pro- or anti-Trump; instead online neo-Nazis think the “system itself is the enemy.” At the same time, Fisher-Birch pointed out, many Telegram channels are warning followers they’ve become the target of recent FBI probes and have “advised their followers to act cautiously and avoid organizing with strangers or large groups.”