Eye on Extremism: November 15, 2022

Associated Press: Pakistani Judge Sentences Two Islamic Militants To Death

“A Pakistani court convicted and sentenced to death two Islamic militants for killing 13 people in a suicide attack last year in the country’s northwest, police said Monday. Senior police officer Zeeshan Asghar told reporters in the garrison city of Abbottabad that Judge Sajjad Ahmed Jan announced the verdict in the high security prison on Friday, after months of trial. He said the court awarded 13 death sentences to Mohammad Hussain and Mohammad Ayaz for killing nine Chinese engineers, two paramilitary troops and two other locala, plus a 10- year prison term for each of the 32 people wounded in the attack. The judge also imposed heavy fines. Hussain and Ayaz were found guilty of orchestrating the July 14, 2021 suicide attack on a bus on a mountainous road in the Kohistan region. The bus was carrying Chinese engineers working on the Dasu dam project in the region. Nine Chinese were killed and 27 wounded in the attack as the blast toppled the bus a deep ravine. Two Pakistani troops escorting the Chinese and two others were also killed. Pakistani officials initially said a gas leak caused the explosion. But the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad said the bus had been attacked, and Pakistan later found traces of explosives at the site. The court acquitted four other suspects for a lack of sufficient evidence against them. Six suspects were still at large. Asghar, the police officer, said a search was ongoing for the missing suspects and an appeal would be filed against the acquitted four suspects.”

AFP: US Offers $10 Mn Rewards For Somalia's Al-Shabaab

“The United States said Monday it was increasing its reward for information about key leaders of Somalia's Al-Shabaab to $10 million apiece, a move that follows a spate of deadly attacks by the jihadist group. The US State Department also said it was for the first time offering a reward of up to $10 million for information “leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms” of the Al-Qaeda affiliate. Al-Shabaab fighters have stepped up attacks in the Somali capital Mogadishu and other parts of the country in the face of a widescale offensive against the group by the new government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The US said it was offering up to $10 million each for information leading to the identification of Al-Shabaab “emir” Ahmed Diriye, second-in-command Mahad Karate and Jehad Mostafa, a US citizen who it said had various roles in the group. “These key leaders of Al-Shabaab are responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Somalia, Kenya and neighbouring countries that have killed thousands of people,” said a poster issued by the US with pictures of the three men. UN human rights chief Volker Turk said earlier Monday that more than 600 civilians had been killed this year in attacks largely attributed to the group. At least 613 civilians have been killed and 948 injured so far in 2022, according to the latest United Nations figures -- the highest since 2017 and a more-than 30-percent rise from last year.”

Iraq

The National: Saddam Hussein’s Grandnephew Handed To Iraq Over Alleged ISIS Links

“Lebanon has handed over a grandnephew of former dictator Saddam Hussein to Iraq after he was accused of involvement in the Camp Speicher massacre by ISIS militants in 2014, security sources said. Abdullah Yasser Sabawi, the grandson of Saddam's half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim Al Tikriti, was detained in the Lebanese city of Jbeil in August and was extradited on November 9, a 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”, in which as many as 1,700 air force cadets were executed by the terrorist group, said the security official. Mr Sabawi has reportedly lived in Lebanon for years. The massacre at Camp Speicher, near Saddam's home town of Tikrit, became a symbol of ISIS brutality as the terrorist group expanded its presence in Iraq. Mr Sabawi, born in 1994, was detained after an Interpol notice called for his arrest over his alleged involvement in the killing, according to a Lebanese judicial source. “Iraq requested his extradition,” the source said. Mr Sabawi's family has denied the accusations, telling AFP he was in Yemen at the time of the massacre. The fall of Tikrit in 2014 was part of the ISIS onslaught that stunned Iraqi security forces and the military, which melted away as the militants advanced and captured key cities and towns in the country’s north and west. Nearly 3,000 cadets from all over Iraq were ordered by their superiors to change into civilian clothes and leave Camp Speicher after the fall of Mosul in June 2014.”

Turkey

Reuters: Turkey To Pursue Targets In Syria, Official Says After Istanbul Blast

“Turkey plans to pursue targets in northern Syria after it completes a cross-border operation against outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants in Iraq, a senior official said on Tuesday, after a deadly weekend bomb in Istanbul. The government has blamed Kurdish militants for the blast on Istanbul's Istiklal Avenue on Sunday that killed six people and injured more than 80. Threats posed by Kurdish militants or Islamic State on Turkey are unacceptable, the official told Reuters, adding that Ankara will clear threats along its southern border "one way or another." "Syria is a national security problem for Turkey. There is work being done on this already," the official said, declining to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media. "There is an ongoing operation against the PKK in Iraq. There are certain targets in Syria after that is completed." There was no immediate comment from Turkey's foreign ministry. No group has claimed responsibility for the blast on the busy pedestrian avenue, and the PKK and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have denied involvement.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Pakistan-Afghan Border Crossing Closed After Clashes

“A major border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan has closed for trade and transit after a clash between security force personnel from both sides, a local Pakistani official said on Monday. Abdul Hameed Zehri, the Deputy Commissioner of the town of Chahman, which borders the Afghan district of Spin Boldak, said the closure came after prolonged firing between security forces from both sides the day before. “Firing continued until late night from both sides,” said Zehri, adding that trade and border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan had been suspended at Chahman. A spokesperson for the Taliban administration's interior ministry said a clash had occurred between border forces from both sides. He said it was due to a “misunderstanding” and the incident was being investigated. A spokesperson for the media wing of Pakistan's military said they were looking into the situation to determine what had happened. Zehri said the clashes had started when a man coming from the Afghan side of the border crossing had shot a Pakistani security force member, killing him and wounding others. The total number of casualties on both sides was not immediately clear. Hundreds of trucks containing goods were stuck waiting on both sides, locals and officials said. Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021, clashes have taken place between its security forcea and those of Pakistan, while militants have attacked Pakistani forces.”

Yemen

Asharq Al-Awsat: Yemenis Condemn 'Feeble' Int’l Stances Regarding Houthi Terrorism

“UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg is scheduled to brief the UN Security Council on the developments of his efforts to renew the truce in the coming week. The briefing comes amid growing official and widespread anger among Yemenis over the repeated Houthi attacks on oil export ports and the lean international positions towards its terrorism. The Houthi militia rejected the envoy's proposal to extend and expand the collapsed truce, as it sought to blackmail the legitimate government to obtain economic and political gains and threatened to continue launching terrorist attacks on oil export ports. In response, the Yemeni parliament issued a statement calling for the resumption of military operations, an option that observers consider possible if international efforts fail to reach a breakthrough that convinces the militias to choose peace. The parliamentary statement called on the Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) to do what is necessary to “teach these militias the lessons” and destroy their military capabilities as a “just” response to their “aggressive options.” The statement also called for speedy decision-making to deter the Houthis, restore the state by various means, and save the Yemeni people from the crimes that they practice daily. The parliament described the international and Western efforts as a “waste of time.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Gantz Approves Upgrade To Stretch Of West Bank Barrier After Spate Of Terror Attacks

“Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday approved plans to upgrade a section of the West Bank security barrier, months after a series of deadly terror attacks were committed by Palestinians who illegally entered Israel. The Defense Ministry said a tall steel fence, similar to the ones on the borders with Egypt and the Gaza Strip, would replace a 50-kilometer (31-mile) stretch of fencing from the Te’enim checkpoint, near the settlement of Avnei Hefetz, to the settlement of Oranit. In the summer, construction began on a 9-meter (30-foot) tall concrete wall to replace another 50-kilometer (31-mile) stretch of fencing from the town of Salem, close to the northern West Bank barrier, to the Te’enim checkpoint — one of the first sections of the barrier ever built, some 20 years ago. Both upgraded sections will be equipped with surveillance cameras, sensors, and other technological means, the Defense Ministry said. In July, the Israel Defense Forces also began a major engineering operation to strengthen defenses along the existing security fence in the Judean Desert area of the southern West Bank, digging a deep trench over some 20 kilometers (12 miles) to prevent the passage of people and vehicles. Separately in April, work to fix up holes over dozens of kilometers of the fence began, following a spate of deadly terror attacks in Israel, including several in which terrorists from the northern West Bank entered Israel via large holes in the barrier.”

Nigeria

AFP: Nigeria Jihadists Kill Women Over Witchcraft Charges: Families, Residents

“Boko Haram jihadists killed a group of women in Nigeria after accusing them of witchcraft following the death of a militant commander's children in northeast Borno State, relatives, residents and a woman who escaped have told AFP. Accusations of witchcraft are not uncommon in Nigeria, a religious conservative country almost equally divided between the mostly Muslim north and Christian south. Northeast Nigeria is at the heart of a conflict involving security forces and Boko Haram and rival Islamic State West Africa Province jihadists that has killed more than 40,000 people. Last week, around 40 women were held in a village near Gwoza town on the orders of jihadist commander Ali Guyile whose children suddenly died overnight, according to relatives and a woman who escaped. In interviews conducted on Sunday and Monday, they said the commander had accused the women of causing the children's deaths through witchcraft. Guyile, a 35-year-old commander asked his men to arrest the women from homes known to practise witchcraft, said Talkwe Linbe, one of the accused women. Linbe said she managed to escape and fled to the regional capital Maiduguri after the killing of 14 women on Thursday. “He (Guyile) said he would investigate our involvement in the deaths of his children,” she said. “On Thursday he ordered 14 among us to be slaughtered. I was lucky I was not among them.”

Mali

Reuters: Britain To Withdraw Troops From Mali Peacekeeping Force

“Britain will pull out its 300 troops from a U.N. peacekeeping force in Mali following similar withdrawals this year by other Western nations, a government minister said on Monday. The early withdrawal comes after France and its military allies began withdrawing thousands of troops from Mali this year as the country's military junta began collaborating with private contractors belonging to Russia's Wagner Group. The Western withdrawals from Mali this year have caused fears among diplomats that this could increase violence, destabilise neighbours and embolden jihadists. British Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told parliament recent coups in Mali had undermined international efforts to help bring peace in the country, which has seen growing violence in recent years by groups linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State. "This government cannot deploy our nation's military to provide security when the host country's government is not willing to work with us to deliver lasting stability and security," Heappey said.”

Africa

The North Africa Post: US Urges Algeria To Halt Using Terrorism Charges To Quell Peaceful Dissent

“The US delegation to the UN Human Rights Council called on Algeria to abrogate the amendments it brought to its penal code in 2021 and under which many peaceful dissidents are in jail on bogus terrorism charges. In the wake of the mass pro-democracy protests in 2019, the newly recycled military leadership in Algeria has engaged in a power grab together with the introduction of bogus terrorism charges to silence any peaceful opposition to the authoritarian status quo. Thus, the peaceful activists of the Rachad movement and the Kabyle independence activists have been thrown behind bars under charges of terrorism. Meanwhile, the leadership of the two movements continue to operate freely in Europe. At least 260 Hirak activists have also received jail terms due to article 87 which considers peaceful calls for regime change as unconstitutional, assimilating them to terrorist acts. The US delegation also called on the Algerian regime to “set free journalists and human rights defenders” arrested under article 87 of the penal code.”

United Kingdom

Sky News: Teenager Accused Of London Terror Attack Plot Was Obsessed With Call Of Duty, Court Hears

“A teenager accused of plotting a terrorist attack on central London with a drill rapper he met online became obsessed with the violent video game, Call of Duty, he has told a court. The 15-year-old, from Roundhay, Leeds, who cannot be named, is accused of helping Al-Arfat Hassan, 19, from Enfield, North London, prepare for a knife and bomb attack. Hassan, who used the stage name TS, gathered hundreds of thousands of fans on YouTube, Spotify and the radio station Kiss FM. He is accused of planning an attack in central London after viewing an ISIS video tutorial, buying bomb-making chemicals and purchasing knives. The pair met online after the teenager helped promote Hassan's Islamist drill rap on TikTok, and they started talking about religion and playing PlayStation computer games like Fortnite, Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty, he said. “Sometime in 2021, I started to spend a lot more time in my room and played a lot more PlayStation and Call of Duty and that is where a lot of the combat gear came from,” he told the court, giving evidence in his defence. “The more I played it, the more I thought, this looks cool.” Hinduja family feud leaves patriarch Srichand Hinduja without right dementia care and needing public nursing home, judge says Comedian Peter Kay (centre) as he launches the Coulam Wheelyboat V17, a purpose-built fully wheelchair accessible powerboat at the Anderton Centre located on the banks of the Lower Rivington Reservoir near Bolton in Lancashire. Picture date: Saturday April 23, 2022.”

France

AFP: Former German Extremist Klein Dies In France

“Hans-Joachim Klein, an ex-member of Germany's defunct extreme-left movement Revolutionary Cells, has died in France where he was buried on Monday, funeral services said. In 1975, Klein took part in an attack orchestrated by Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal, on the OPEC headquarters in Vienna. An Iraqi bodyguard, an Austrian policeman and an OPEC member of staff were killed, and 70 people taken hostage by six armed attackers. He went into hiding, including in France where he spent much of the 1990s until his arrest in 1998 by French anti-terror police. Klein was sent back to Germany where he was sentenced to nine years in jail in 2001 for his role in the Vienna attack. Klein had already admitted publicly in 1977 that he had taken part in the attack, during which he was seriously injured, and said that he had renounced political violence. He was released from prison in 2003 and returned to his former hiding place, Sainte-Honorine-la-Guillaume in Normandy, where local press reports said he resided until his death on November 9. Ramirez Sanchez is currently serving three life sentences in a French prison for his attacks.”

RFI: Paris To Build Memorial Garden For Victims Of 2015 Terror Attacks

“The Paris city hall has announced that a memorial garden for victims of the 2015 terror attacks will open in 2025 in the heart of the capital. Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne led tributes on Sunday, observing a minute's silence at the sites of the killings in Paris and Saint-Denis. The Paris city hall has chosen Place Saint-Gervais as a location which, “due to its neutrality and centrality, allows the memorial and commemorative vocation to come to life”. The garden, to be opened in 2025, will represent the six places of the attacks with the names of the deceased on steles, with a special focus on vegetation. “The presence of plants will help support the development of biodiversity in the garden, making the tribute perpetual and alive,” the Paris city hall website says. “This beautiful project brings together all the places of the attacks represented in a readable and original way in a garden where everyone can gather and dream, both a place of memory and life,” Philippe Duperron, president of the victims' group 13onze15 said. On Sunday, the seventh anniversary of the attacks, several ceremonies took place throughout the morning in tribute to the 130 dead and more than 350 wounded in the worst terrorist attacks in the history of France.”

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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