Eye on Extremism: November 14, 2023

Reuters: Pakistan Opens New Border Crossings To Expedite Afghans' Repatriation

“Pakistan on Monday opened three new border crossings to accelerate the repatriation of undocumented Afghan nationals who have been ordered to leave the country or face expulsion, officials said. Many Afghans have opted to go home voluntarily to avoid deportation under a government push for undocumented migrants to be expelled. Pakistan's move affects more than 1 million Afghans, many of whom Islamabad says have been involved in militant attacks and crime, a claim Kabul rejects. The new crossings were set up at the Afghan border in southwestern Balochistan province in addition to the main crossing in Chaman district, said Jan Achakzai, information minister for the provincial caretaker government. The main crossing had been overwhelmed with Afghan refugees seeking to return home voluntarily, he said. More than 280,000 Afghan nationals have left Pakistan since the new policy was announced in early October, according to the United Nations High Commissioner For Refugees (UNHCR). Islamabad has begun round-up operations across the country after the deadline for voluntary departure expired on Nov. 1.”

Associated Press: Is Hamas Hiding In Gaza’s Main Hospital? Israel’s Claim Is Now A Focal Point In A Dayslong Stalemate

“Gaza’s Shifa Hospital has become the focus of a dayslong stalemate in Israel’s war against the Hamas militant group. Shifa is Gaza’s largest and best-equipped hospital. Israel, without providing visual evidence, claims the facility also is used by Hamas for military purposes. It says Hamas has built a vast underground command complex center below the hospital, connected by tunnels, something Gaza health officials and Hamas deny. Since Israel declared war against Hamas in response to a deadly cross-border attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, its forces have moved in on Shifa. While Israel says it is willing to allow staff and patients to evacuate, Palestinians say Israeli forces have fired at evacuees and that it is too dangerous to move the most vulnerable patients. Meanwhile, doctors say the facility has run out of fuel and that patients are beginning to die. Here is a closer look at the Shifa standoff. Shifa is the leading hospital in a health care system that has largely collapsed after years of conflict, chronic underfunding and an Israeli-Egyptian blockade aimed at weakening Hamas.”

CEP Mentions

Deutsche Welle: How Does Hamas Fund Its Operations?

"How has Hamas, which rules Gaza, managed to evade international authorities and amass its wealth and military capability? Hans-Jakob Schindler, Senior Director of the Counter Extremism Project, talks about these sources to DW."


Reuters: US Forces In Syria Attacked Four Times In Less Than 24 Hours - U.S. Military Official

“U.S. and international forces in northeastern Syria were attacked with drones and rockets at least four times in the past 24 hours, though there were no casualties and only minor damage, a U.S. military official said on Monday. U.S. forces came under attack three times on Sunday evening, including near the Al Omar Oil field and at a U.S. base at al-Shaddadi, the official told Reuters. Multiple drones were fired at U.S. forces at the Rumalyn Landing Zone on Monday morning, the official said. One drone was shot down but another damaged four tents, the official added. The attacks came after the U.S. carried out two air strikes on Sunday against facilities it said were used by Iran-aligned groups, its third set of strikes in Syria in as many weeks. U.S. and coalition troops have been attacked at least 40 times in Iraq and Syria since early October. Statements, purportedly from militant groups, have said the assaults are in response to U.S. support for Israel in the war in Gaza.”

Associated Press: US Conducts Airstrikes Against Iran-Backed Groups In Syria, Retaliating For Attacks On US Troops

“The Pentagon and U.S. officials say U.S. fighter aircraft conducted airstrikes on locations in eastern Syria involving Iranian-backed groups, likely causing casualties and destroying weapons stored at the two targets that were struck — a training facility and a safe house. A defense official said that the training facility also served as a weapons storage and that the safe house, located in the Bulbul district of Mayadin, functioned as a headquarters for Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated groups in the area. The official said Revolutionary Guard-related personnel were present at the time of the strikes and likely were hit, but the Pentagon had not confirmed whether they were killed. The defense official spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to provide additional details of the strikes. The U.S. has conducted three strikes over the last two weeks against Iranian-tied weapons depots in Syria to retaliate for the more than 50 rocket and drone attacks that militant groups have launched against U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria, which have caused dozens of minor injuries among U.S. personnel. Many of the militant groups are operating under the umbrella of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.”


The Times Of India: Iran Deports More Than 21,400 Afghan Migrants To Afghanistan

“Iranian guards detained and deported 21,407 Afghan migrants to Afghanistan who had crossed into Iran illegally, the Taliban-appointed commander of the border guards in Khorasan Razavi province said, reported Afghanistan-based Khaama Press. Majid Shuja, the Taliban-appointed commander of the border guards in Khorasan Razavi, said that these migrants had been identified during the past nine days when they entered Iran "illegally." Shuja said that the migrants were handed over to the Taliban's representative in the Dogharun district, Khaama Press reported. More than 328,000 Afghan migrants have been deported from Iran in the first six months of 2023, according to Khaama Press report. The deportation of Afghan migrants follows reports from Afghan returnees to Iran indicating that some of them, even with official residency permits, were detained and deported. Last week, Afghan refugees in Iran raised concerns regarding the increase in deportations, arrests, and harassment by the police, TOLO News reported. The Taliban has called on neighbouring countries to not deport Afghan refugees.”


Associated Press: Video Purports To Show Israeli-Russian Researcher Kidnapped In Iraq

“A video broadcast on an Iraqi television station and circulated on pro-Iranian social media Monday purported to show an Israeli-Russian researcher who was allegedly kidnapped in Iraq, the first sign of life since her disappearance nearly eight months ago. No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of Elizabeth Tsurkov. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this year that she was being held by the powerful Iran-backed Iraqi militia Kataeb Hezbollah. The Associated Press could not verify the authenticity of the video released Monday. In it, Tsurkov speaks in Hebrew with Arabic subtitles, calling for efforts to secure her release and for an end to the war in Gaza, indicating the video was made after the surprise Hamas attack in Israel on Oct. 7. Videos of prisoners meant to document a proof-of-life often include statements coerced by captors or statements otherwise made under duress. A spokesperson for Tsurkov’s family said in a statement: “It is encouraging to see this proof of life video, that was clearly filmed in recent weeks. While we can’t comment on what Elizabeth is saying, we appreciate that this is an important step in the process to bring her home to her family.””


Reuters: Taliban Minister Raises Issue Of Refugee Assets During Pakistan Visit

“The Taliban's acting commerce minister met Pakistan's foreign minister in Islamabad this week, an Afghan embassy statement said on Tuesday, discussing trade and how the thousands of Afghan citizens Pakistan is expelling could take cash and other assets back to their homeland. The visit takes place less than a week after Pakistan said that its move to expel hundreds of thousands of undocumented Afghans was a response to the unwillingness of the Taliban-led administration to act against militants using Afghanistan to carry out attacks in Pakistan. Taliban officials say militancy is an internal matter for Pakistan and have called on Islamabad to halt its deportation of Afghan citizens. "Bilateral trade, especially the stranded goods of (Afghan) traders in Karachi port, smooth transfer of (Afghan) refugees' properties to (Afghanistan) and related issues were discussed," Afghanistan's embassy in Islamabad said in a statement, on acting commerce minister Haji Nooruddin Azizi's meeting with Pakistan's caretaker foreign minister Jalil Abbas Jilani.”

Middle East

The New York Times: At Tourist Hotels, Israeli Evacuees Plan For Long Stays To Escape Border Attacks

“A joyful clamor echoed in the ballroom of the Golden Crown Hotel. Kindergarten was in full swing for 30 children from Arab al-Aramshe, a village next to Israel’s border with Lebanon. Only this class was meeting 44 miles south, in Nazareth, where nearly 800 of the village’s residents have been living since mid-October, when they were evacuated because of the risk of attacks by the militant group Hezbollah. “On an emotional level, it’s hard for the children because their parents are under stress,” said Dalal Badra, an inspector from Israel’s Education Ministry, who was helping to organize the classes. “They can sense that something is wrong.” These children are part of the largest internal displacement in Israel’s history, a modern-day exodus of more than 125,000 people. They have been evacuated from towns in the south, near Gaza, where Hamas extremists massacred Israeli civilians and soldiers a month ago, and from the north, where tensions have escalated in recent days as Israel has exchanged fire with Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, fueling fears that Hezbollah fighters will swarm across the border and do the same to them.”

Reuters: Hamas Armed Wing Says It Discussed Freeing 70 Hostages In Return For 5-Day Truce

“The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas said on Monday it told Qatari mediators the group was ready to release up to 70 women and children held in Gaza in return for a five-day truce with Israel. "Last week there was an effort from the Qatari brothers to release the enemy captives from women and children, in return for the release of 200 Palestinian children and 75 women detained by the enemy" Abu Ubaida, the spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas, al-Qassam Brigades, said in an audio recording posted on the group's Telegram channel. "The truce should include a complete ceasefire and allow aid and humanitarian relief everywhere in the Gaza Strip," he said. He accused Israel of "procrastinating and evading" the price of the deal."”


Reuters: Over 20 Killed In Islamist Militant Attack On Congo Village

“At least 23 people were killed when Islamist militants raided a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo late on Sunday, a local official and a humanitarian worker said. The attackers tied up villagers and killed them with machetes and other weapons while others fled, said a civil society leader, Maurice Mabele Musaidi, who gave an initial death toll of 19. Some may have drowned as they tried to cross the Lamia river into Uganda, he added, noting that many were still missing. A local official said later on Monday that the death toll had risen to at least 33, including an army captain. Two were children who drowned as they tried to reach Uganda. Twenty-three victims were buried in the village, while six people were taken hostage to help carry looted goods and then executed, he added. A humanitarian worker confirmed his team had helped bury 23 bodies. He said the army captain's body had been taken to another location. A spokesperson for Congo's army said the attack in Beni territory's Watalinga chiefdom was carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group based in eastern Congo that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.”


Forbes: Microsoft Teams With UN Nonprofit To Spot Terrorist Content Online

“Microsoft is partnering with Tech Against Terrorism to develop an AI-powered tool for detecting terrorist or violent extremist content online. Tech Against Terrorism⁠—an independent nonprofit organization launched by the United Nations in 2016⁠—will work with Microsoft to develop an AI-powered tool that will detect potentially harmful content for subsequent human review. Examples uncovered by Tech Against Terrorism include a pro-Islamic State tech support group publishing a guide advising IS supporters on how to use ChatGPT without compromising operational and personal security. Another IS supporter claimed to have used an open-source AI tool to transcribe and translate a leadership message published by official IS propaganda outlets. A pro-al Qaeda propaganda outlet has been using highly likely AI-generated images as the basis for propaganda posters. “The use of digital platforms to spread violent extremist content is an urgent issue with real-world consequences,” says Brad Smith, vice chair and president at Microsoft. “By combining Tech Against Terrorism’s capabilities with AI, we hope to help create a safer world both online and off.””

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.

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