Eye on Extremism: November 14, 2022

Reuters: Turkey Blames Deadly Bomb On Kurdish Militants, Arrests Syrian Woman

“Turkey blamed Kurdish militants on Monday for an explosion that killed six people on a busy Istanbul shopping street, and police detained a Syrian woman suspected of having planted the bomb among a sweep of 47 arrests. Istanbul police named the suspected bomber as Ahlam Albashir, a Syrian national, who was detained in an overnight raid in the city's Kucukcekmece district. Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia were responsible for the blast on Istiklal Avenue on Sunday, an incident that recalled similar attacks in years past. Soylu said the order was given in Kobani, a city in northern Syria, where Turkish forces have carried out operations against the YPG in recent years. Ankara says the YPG is a wing of the PKK. The United States has supported the YPG in the conflict in Syria, stoking friction between NATO allies. Albashir, with curly hair and in a purple jumper with the words 'New York' on it, was shown handcuffed, state broadcaster TRT Haber footage showed.”

CNN: US Strike In Somalia Kills 17 Al-Shabaab Fighters, US Africa Command Says

“The US military conducted a strike on Wednesday against the al-Shabaab terror group in Somalia, killing 17 terrorists, US Africa Command said in a statement on Friday. The strike occurred approximately 285 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu at the request of the Somali government when Somali National Army forces were engaged with the al-Shabaab fighters. US Africa Command said in a news release that no civilians were hurt or killed in the strike. “Al-Shabaab is the largest and most deadly al-Qaeda network in the world and has proven both its will and capability to attack Somali, East African, and American civilians,” US Africa Command said. The strike is the latest US military effort against al-Shabaab in Somalia, where the US has provided ongoing support to the government since President Joe Biden approved a Pentagon request to redeploy US troops to the area in an attempt to counter the terrorist group in May. Last month, an airstrike in Somalia killed two members of al-Shabaab, according to US Africa Command.”

United States

Fox News: Accused NYC Subway Shooting 'Terrorist' Frank James Seeks To Have Trial Moved To Chicago

“Frank James, the man accused of unleashing a smoke canister and then opening fire inside a packed New York City subway car, is seeking to have his case moved to Chicago, arguing that prospective jurors in the Big Apple will be too prejudiced to give him a fair trial, court papers show. "Because so great a prejudice exists against Mr. James in the Eastern District of New York, as demonstrated by both public opinion polling and unfairly prejudicial pretrial publicity, a fair trial cannot be held here without violating his constitutional rights," James’ attorneys wrote in a motion filed Monday. Potential jurors in New York have "significantly prejudged" James’ guilt and "are decidedly more hostile toward him than prospective jurors in a demographically comparable court," federal public defender Mia Eisner-Grynberg wrote. James, through his attorneys, is instead seeking to be transferred to a federal court in Chicago, "or another appropriate District." James is accused of boarding a Brooklyn subway train on the morning of April 12, then deploying a smoke canister and firing his weapon 33 times "in cold blood at terrified passengers who had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide," a detention memo states. Officials said 29 people were injured, including 10 who suffered gunshot wounds. He was charged federally with committing a terrorist or other violent attack against a mass transportation system and firing a gun during a violent crime. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.”

Chicago Tribune: Terrorism-Related Charges Brought Against Maine Teen In Alleged Chicago Mosque-Attack Plot

“A Maine teenager is now facing upgraded terrorism-related charges stemming from an alleged Isis-inspired plot to attack a Shiite mosque in Chicago last spring. Xavier Pelkey, 19, was charged in a two-count superseding indictment made public Thursday in U.S. District Court in Maine with conspiracy to provide material support for terrorism and possessing explosives, court records show. The terrorism count carries up to 15 years in federal prison if convicted. An arraignment on the new indictment had not been set as of Thursday morning. The superseding indictment greatly expands the allegations in an investigation that first came to light in February, when Pelkey was charged with possessing several shrapnel-packed homemade explosives allegedly found in during a raid of the Waterville home he shared with his mother. At the time, prosecutors in Maine said Pelkey had been plotting online to travel to Chicago and commit “mass murder” at area places of worship, the Tribune has previously reported. On Feb. 5, a week before Pelkey’s arrest in Maine, agents in the Chicago area executed a search warrant at the home of a 15-year-old boy who had been communicating online with Pelkey, according to a declaration by FBI Special Agent Garrett Drew. Drew said the boy, identified only as “Juvenile #1,” and Pelkey, who used the name “Abdullah” on Instagram, were conspiring with a 17-year-old boy from Kentucky to attack “an identified Shia Muslim mosque in the Chicago area” in late March, coinciding with spring break.”

CNN: New Jersey Man Accused Of Sending Online Threats To Attack A Synagogue And Jewish People, Federal Prosecutor Says

“An 18-year-old New Jersey man was arrested Thursday after sending a manifesto online with threats to attack a synagogue and Jewish people, federal prosecutors say. Omar Alkattoul, a Sayreville resident, is charged with a count of transmitting a threat in interstate and foreign commerce earlier this month, according to a criminal complaint and a statement from Philip Sellinger, US Attorney for the District of New Jersey. Alkattoul appeared Thursday afternoon before US Magistrate Judge Jessica Allen in Newark and was detained without bail. He was not asked to enter a plea. CNN has reached out to his public defender for comment. Alkattoul faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted, according to prosecutors. “No one should be targeted for violence or with acts of hate because of how they worship,” Sellinger said in the statement. “According to the complaint, this defendant used social media to send a manifesto containing a threat to attack a synagogue based on his hatred of Jews.” Court documents allege Alkattoul on November 1 sent via social media a link to a document titled “When Swords Collide” and told another person he authored the manifesto “in the context of an attack on Jews.” “I am the attacker and I would like to introduce myself,” the suspect wrote, according to court documents.”

Syria

Al Monitor: Syrian Jihadi Group Exploits Poverty In Idlib To Attract New Members

“Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is still the largest and most dominant faction in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, amid its continuous attempts to control other areas to expand its influence, despite the existence of other factions supported by Turkey. HTS is trying to exploit the poverty of the youth to push them to join its ranks by luring them with a panoply of incentives. A young man who joined HTS about five months ago told Al-Monitor, “I am 20 years old and I decided to join HTS despite my family’s initial rejection. The fact that I needed money, that I was unemployed and that I lacked any professional experience have all led me to join the group’s ranks. I have friends who joined the group a year ago and they convinced me to follow in their footsteps.” Asked about the ages of those joining HTS, he replied, “Many youths are joining the group — most are between 18 and 30 years old.” He said, “What further pushed me to join the group is HTS’ campaign in the streets and during Friday prayers.” He noted that HTS established recruitment divisions across Atma, Harem, Arihah, the northern and central areas of Idlib province, Sarmada, the provincial capital of Idlib city and Jisr al-Shughur.”

Iraq

Kurdistan 24: 5 ISIS Members Killed In The Kirkuk City

“The Security Media Cell announced on Saturday that 5 ISIS members were killed in Kirkuk in an air strike carried out by Iraqi Air Force’s F-16 aircraft. The ISIS members were killed in Bir Ahmed village, where many military equipment found. Five rifles, seven different grenades, 24 rifle magazines, seven detonators, four chest sleeves, ten meters of fuse, a lighter, a sum of money, a Shamsa cell, 20 mobile devices, 25 mobile SIM cards and a portable router were found in the raid, according to SMC. The Sulaimani Governorate's Asayish (Kurdish security organization) announced on Sunday that two ISIS members were killed on November 6 in Sengaw subdistrict near Chamchamal.”

Reuters: Rocket Attack Near Iraq's Erbil Kills One, Wounds 10 - Mayor

“At least one person was killed and 10 others were wounded on Monday after rockets hit the headquarters of an Iranian Kurdish party in the city of Koye, near the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region Erbil, the mayor of Koye Tariq Haidari said. Iran's semi-official Fars news said the country's Revolutionary Guards had targeted the bases of "terrorist groups" in the Kurdish region of Iraq with missiles and drones. The Revolutionary Guards have launched attacks on Iranian Kurdish militant opposition bases in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq since the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 triggered nationwide unrest. Iran has accused Kurdish militants in northern Iraq of fomenting the unrest. According to Kurdish security sources drones targeted two bases for Iranian Kurdish dissidents near Erbil and Sulaimaniya, but no casualties were reported. An Iranian Kurdish rights group said on Twitter the Revolutionary Guards targeted a base of the Komala Party in Sulaimaniya with 6 drones and a base of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan near Erbil with four missiles.”

Afghanistan

NBC News: A CIA Veteran Who Survived A Hand-To-Hand Battle With Al Qaeda Is Now Helping Afghans Escape The Taliban

“The desperate pleas come flooding into David Tyson’s cellphone, from a country that has fallen off the American radar. The texts are from Afghans who fought alongside him and his colleagues, and they are asking for help to flee Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. The messages often include graphic videos: whippings, torture, the stoning of women, even executions, Tyson said. Tyson was among the first Americans to fly into Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001, as part of a CIA unit dropped into Taliban-controlled territory five weeks after the attacks. Team Alpha fought the first major battle of the U.S. war in Afghanistan at a fort in northern Afghanistan, and Tyson’s teammate, Johnny “Mike” Spann, was the first American killed in combat in the conflict. To honor his fallen colleague and his former Afghan partners, Tyson and Spann’s widow, Shannon, have joined forces to try to help evacuate Afghans who once served with Spann and other CIA officers on the battlefield more than 20 years ago. Over the last year, Tyson has been fielding calls and texts nearly every day from the Afghans who are still trying to get out — former commanders who fought with Team Alpha in 2001 and their families. The plight of the Afghan partners is “terrifying,” Tyson told NBC News’ Richard Engel. “But I can’t sit here and dwell on that. I just have to try to act and try to help these people.”

Yemen

The National: Yemen's Government Repeats Call For Arab States To Label Houthis A Terrorist Group

“Yemen's government repeated its call for Arab states to label the Houthi militia a terrorist group after the rebels launched a drone attack on Qena port in Shabwa province on Thursday. “The terrorist attack reflects the aggression of these terrorist militias as they clearly violate all international calls to stop the escalation and targeting of civilian and economic infrastructure,” Yemen's foreign ministry said on Thursday. “The Yemeni government calls on all countries to take strict measures to classify the rogue Houthi militia as a terrorist organisation to prevent the recurrence of these attacks.” Houthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said the attack on Qena port was intended as a “warning message” to deter the government from “looting” oil from the country. The head of Yemen's Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) Rashad Al Alimi called on Arab states to join his country in labelling the Houthis as terrorists during the Arab League summit in Algeria earlier this month. Mr Alimi said the “terrorist group cause the death of some half a million people, including women and children,” and has displaced “around 5 million throughout the country” and beyond. The attack on Qena port drew widespread criticism by regional states including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and western nations. A joint statement by the US, UK and France on Thursday called on the Houthis to immediately halt such attacks, saying “economic warfare will only exacerbate the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen.”

Lebanon

AFP: Lebanon Extradites To Iraq ‘Saddam Grandnephew’ Accused Of ISIS Link

“Lebanon extradited a man said to be a grandnephew of Saddam Hussein to Iraq, where he is accused of involvement in a massacre by the ISIS extremist group, a security source said Saturday. Abdullah Sabawi, dubbed the “grandnephew” of the executed dictator by Iraqi media, was extradited on Wednesday, the security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.  “He is accused of having been a member of ISIS and having participated in the Speicher massacre” of 2014, in which up to 1,700 air force cadets were executed by the extremist group, the source added. A Lebanese judicial source said Sabawi, born in 1994, “was detained on June 11” following an Interpol notice calling for his arrest over his alleged involvement in the massacre. “Iraq requested his extradition,” the Lebanese source added. Sabawi’s family has denied the accusations, telling AFP he had been in Yemen at the time of the killings. The Camp Speicher massacre was considered one of ISIS’s worst crimes after it took over large parts of Iraq in 2014. Video footage released by ISIS showed an assembly-line massacre in which gunmen herded their victims towards the banks of the Tigris, shot them in the back of the head and pushed them into the river one after the other. Dozens have been sentenced to death by Iraqi courts over their involvement in the killings, many of them having already been executed.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Army Convicts Terrorist Involved In 2019 Killing Of Student-Soldier In West Bank

“An Israeli military court on Thursday convicted a Palestinian man of being involved in the killing of an Israeli teenager in 2019. Dvir Sorek, 18, was stabbed to death near the West Bank settlement of Migdal Oz in August 2019. He was a yeshiva student enrolled in a program known as hesder that combines Torah study with military service, but was not in the military at the time of his killing. Mahmoud Atouna is accused of being part of a five-man Hamas cell that grabbed Sorek as he got off a bus and killed him, leaving his body at the side of the road. The court accepted the prosecution’s position that Atouna was guilty of the attack, although he was not present at the time of the stabbing. Atouna was convicted Thursday of intentionally causing the death of Sorek. The charge is equivalent to murder in the West Bank military court. He was additionally convicted of two charges of attempted murder and several other security offenses, according to the Israel Defense Forces. While not present at the scene during the stabbing, Atouna was accused by the IDF of having a “central role in the decision to carry out the attack” and recruiting one of the perpetrators. Atouna’s sentencing trial is slated to begin on November 27. In December 2021, the two perpetrators, Qassem Asafra and Nasir Asafra were sentenced to life imprisonment for the attack.”

The Jerusalem Post: Palestinian Authority's Textbooks Glorify Terror, Antisemitism

“Palestinian Authority schools are continuing to use textbooks that were made by the Palestinian education ministry to incite violent jihad and antisemitism and glorify terror attacks, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-SE) reported this week. In one of the September-released textbooks, it is written that "every Muslim" should engage in jihad "for the liberation of Palestine" and that students should act as "a shard of glass in Israel's neck and a whirlwind of fire" in Israel's eyes. For example, the science textbook shows a girl using a slingshot as a way to "demonstrate" Newton's law of motion. Their history books are filled with antisemitism, stating that the Jews control the banks, the media, politics, and the list goes on. They also teach Palestinian kids that Israeli soldiers who "look like the face of death" laugh while killing Palestinian children. "What starts with incitement to hatred and violence, becomes terror and prevents co-existence." The Jawad Al-Hashlamoun Elementary School in Hebron posted a eulogy on their official Facebook page for one of their former teachers, Muhammed Kamel-al Jabari, who was killed after he opened fire on Israeli civilians on a Saturday night, injuring six and killing one. They praised him, saying that the attack was "full of pride, boldness and defiance.”

Nigeria

The Christian Post: Over 4,000 Christians Killed By Terrorists In Nigeria Since Start Of 2022: Watchdog Report

“Islamic jihadist groups in Nigeria are responsible for killing at least 4,000 Christians and abducting more than 2,300 other Christians in the first 10 months of this year alone, according to a report released this week by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law. The Fulani herdsmen and Islamic terror groups allied with it were responsible for 2,650 of the 4,020 Christian deaths between January and October, the Anambra-based group Intersociety said in a report sent to The Christian Post. The other terror groups, including Islamic State in West Africa Province, Boko Haram and Ansaru, accounted for 450 Christian deaths and the Fulani (Zamfara) bandits and their splinter groups were responsible for 370 Christian deaths, it added. Fulani herdsmen and Fulani (Zamfara) bandits and other armed jihadist groups that are “Nigerian government friendly” abducted more than 2,315 Christians, out of which, 1,401 were abducted between January and June, and 915 between July and October, added Intersociety, which is run by Christian criminologist Emeka Umeagbalasi. Whether you lead a small business, a department, or a multinational corporation, this book will show you how breaking the conventional “rules” of business may be the best decision you ever make.”

Africa

All Africa: Somalia: Ethiopia Reports Capture Of 100 Youths Planned To Join Al-Shabaab

“Ethiopian defense forces reported that Al-Shabaab has exposed his repeated attempts to make Ethiopia a terrorist zone. Al-Shabaab's repeated attempts to make Ethiopia a terrorist zone are thwarted by our army department which is carrying out its mission in the east and south of our country. According to the coordinator of the class Abebe Semagn, more than 100 youths who tried to leave the country and join Alshabab have been arrested by our army which made them take over the security office of the Southern Region. "Even though Al-Shabab tried to get its members ready for destruction in our country through different ways, they were arrested by the recommendation and cooperation of the community and the strong follow-up of our army," the coordinator added. Al-Shabaab attacked Ethiopia through the Bakool region in July, the first cross-border raid in Africa's 2nd populous country which is facing internal conflict.”

Europe

Associated Press: Police Officer Killed In Suspected Brussels Terror Attack

“A lone assailant killed one police officer and wounded another Thursday in a stabbing attack that two Belgian judicial officials said was suspected to be terrorism-linked. The suspect was shot and taken to a hospital. Eric Van der Sypt, from the federal prosecutor’s office, told The Associated Press the suspect was wounded by another police officers after the stabbing. Van der Sypt added that investigators suspected the attack took place in a “terrorist context." The prosecutor's office told AP it took over the case because there is “a suspicion of a terror attack.” “One of our patrols was attacked by a man armed with a knife,” police said, quoted by the newspaper Le Soir. “The two police officers then called for reinforcements. An officer from another patrol used his firearm to neutralize the attacker.” “The two injured detectives and the assailant were taken to hospital,” police added. Le Soir said one of the officers was stabbed in the neck and died from his injuries. The newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reported the suspect had gone to a police station Thursday morning warning that he would kill an officer. The ACV police trade union said in a Facebook post that it had information a person had gone to police earlier in the day threatening an attack. It added that the judicial authorities did not arrest him. According to Belgian media, the attacker shouted “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great,” during the attack, which occurred around 7:15 p.m.”

Balkan Insight: Music Mobilisation: The Concerts Connecting Neo-Nazis In Croatia

“… Now BIRN has identified the other tattooed man – also Hungarian – and two other supporters of Croatian branch. They were spotted in Rijeka just days after a neo-Nazi concert dedicated to the “awakening of Europe.” BIRN was unable to contact either of the Hungarian men for comment. “It is very logical that in Hungary or Croatia, where there are few foreigners, there is an extreme-right narrative according to which there is a threat from hordes of foreigners, feminists and LGBTs who will take away the tradition and culture,” said Alexander Ritzmann, senior adviser at the New York-based Counter Extremism Project, CEP. BIRN made contact with Patrik at the San Remo café in Rijeka, a port city otherwise known as one of the more liberal in Croatia, a former Yugoslav republic where conservative currents are strong. He was one of around 10 men happily discussing the rise of the right in Europe on the eve of Giorgia Meloni’s swearing in as prime minister of neighbouring Italy at the helm of a far-right government. Her Brothers of Italy party has neo-fascist origins.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On November 29, 2020, an assailant detonated an explosives-filled military vehicle on an Afghan army base, killing at least 31 and wounding 24. 

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