Eye on Extremism: November 16, 2022

Associated Press: Turkey Makes More Arrests In Connection With Deadly Bombing

“Turkish police have apprehended more suspects in connection with the bomb attack on a bustling pedestrian avenue in Istanbul that killed six people and wounded several dozen others, bringing the number of people in custody to 50, Turkey's justice minister said Tuesday. Sunday's explosion targeted Istiklal Avenue — a popular thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants — and was a stark reminder of bombings in Turkish cities between 2015 and 2017 that crushed the public's sense of security. Turkish authorities blamed the attack on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, as well as Syrian Kurdish groups affiliated with it. The Kurdish militants groups have, however, denied involvement. Police carried out raids in Istanbul several hours after the blast and detained 47 people, including a Syrian woman who is suspected of leaving a TNT-laden bomb at Istiklal. Police said the woman, identified as Ahlam Albashir, had crossed into Turkey from Syria illegally and has admitted to carrying out the attack. On Tuesday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said the number of suspects in custody has increased to 50, but did not provide details.”

The Times Of Israel: Hezbollah Exploiting Diplomatic Loopholes To Finance Terror, Investigation Finds

“Hezbollah has been exploiting a diplomatic loophole to freely funnel money from around the world into its coffers in Lebanon, a joint report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and ProPublica found. The investigation, published on Monday, found 500 cases of individuals “accused of crimes or embroiled in controversy” who currently or were previously designated as an “honorary consul,” a special designation that provides an individual with diplomatic perks and freedoms. The honorary consul system was devised centuries ago to allow countries that could not afford to establish embassies overseas to designate a foreign citizen to operate on its behalf in another country. The investigation indicated examples of Lebanese citizens receiving honorary consul status by other countries, as well as foreign nationals using their diplomatic privilege to aid Hezbollah. Much like career diplomats, honorary consuls are granted diplomatic immunity, allowing them to pass through “annoying customs checks” and “unlimited entry and exit privileges” without hassle. Those who enjoy the designation can also travel with a “diplomatic bag,” the contents of which go unchecked. Out of the 500 individuals exposed, nine were linked to terror activities, including to Hezbollah. The report noted that due to a lack of official monitoring of the honorary consul system, the total number of problem individuals is likely higher than 500.”

United States

Boston Herald: FBI Conducting 2,700 Domestic Terrorism Investigations, Wray Tells Congress

“The FBI is conducting twice as many investigations into threats of domestic terrorism now than it was at the start of 2020 amid a historically deadly time for law enforcement, Director Christopher Wray told a congressional committee. “The top domestic terrorism threat we face continues to be from domestic violent extremists we categorize as racially or ethnically motivated extremists and anti-government or anti-authority violent extremists,” Wray said Tuesday. “The number of FBI domestic terrorism investigations has more than doubled since the spring of 2020, and as of the end of fiscal year 2022, the FBI was conducting approximately 2,700 domestic terrorism investigations.” Wray, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, in an appearance before the House Homeland Security Committee, said that while most acts of violence in recent years have come from those espousing white supremacist ideologies, 2020 saw an uptick in acts committed by what law enforcement categorize as “militia violent extremists.” Wray then went on to explain from whence hundreds of those investigations stem. “We are approaching the two-year anniversary of the January 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol, which has led to unprecedented efforts by the Department of Justice, including the FBI, to investigate and hold accountable all who engaged in violence, destruction of property, and other criminal activity on that day.”

Fox News: Michigan Man Charged With Providing Support To ISIS, Possessing A Destructive Device

“A Michigan man was charged on Tuesday with providing material support to ISIS and being a felon in possession of a destructive device, according to an indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of Michigan.  Aws Mohammed Naser, 34, was arraigned Tuesday on both charges. “Terrorism poses significant threats to people living in our District and around the world,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Dawn Ison said in a statement. “We will aggressively investigate and prosecute anyone who seeks to aid terrorists.” Naser is accused of providing material support to ISIS in the form of personnel and services, including himself, according to the indictment. His support for the terrorist organization allegedly occurred between 2011 and October 2017. During that time frame, he was also convicted of an armed robbery from 2013 and sentenced to three to 20 years in prison. In that incident, Naser pepper-sprayed a gas station worker in Oakland County then grabbed money from a cash register and fled the scene, according to the Detroit News. Naser faces up to 20 years in prison for providing material support to ISIS and up to 15 years in prison for possession of a destructive device.”

Syria

Al Jazeera: Two Egyptian Girls Found Dead At Syria Camp Hosting ISIL Families

“The bodies of two Egyptian girls have been discovered at the al-Hol detention camp hosting people linked to ISIS (ISIL) in northeastern Syria, according to local Kurdish security forces that administer the facility. “The bodies of two Egyptian girls were found in the sewage waters” at the camp, a Kurdish security source told the AFP news agency on Tuesday, November 15, requesting anonymity. Another camp official, who also requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the beheaded girls were aged 11 and 13, the Associated Press news agency reported. Siamand Ali, an official with the Kurdish-led United States-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, confirmed the killings. The overcrowded camp in northeast Syria is home to more than 50,000 people, including relatives of suspected ISIL fighters, as well as displaced Syrians, and Iraqi refugees. The killings are the first since US-backed Syrian fighters concluded a 24-day sweep at al-Hol in mid-September during which dozens of people were detained and weapons were confiscated in the operation. The operation came after ISIL sleeper cells committed crimes inside the camp. Following the rise of ISIL in 2014 and its declaration of a so-called Islamic caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq, thousands of men and women came from around the world to join the extremist group.”

Middle East

The Wall Street Journal: Palestinian Kills Three Israelis, Injures Others In West Bank Attack

“A Palestinian man killed three Israelis and severely injured three more in a stabbing and car-ramming attack in the West Bank on Tuesday, according to Israeli military and medical officials, the latest in a spate of violent incidents in the occupied territory this year. The assailant began his attack by stabbing individuals at the entrance to an industrial zone near the West Bank settlement of Ariel, the officials said. He then fled to a nearby gas station, where he stabbed a few others and left in a stolen vehicle. The assailant rammed the car into a 50-year-old pedestrian, before being shot and killed by an Israeli soldier. Israeli security officials identified the assailant as 18-year-old Mohammad Sami Souf, and said he worked for an Israeli company in the industrial zone and lived in the nearby Palestinian town of Haris. Israel’s military said it is still searching for an accomplice to the assailant. The attack comes amid a period of sustained conflict between Israeli security forces and Palestinian militants, which has resulted in one of the bloodiest years in the Israeli occupied West Bank in more than a decade. The attack is the latest in a spate of violent incidents in the occupied West Bank this year. According to United Nations figures updated through Nov. 15, Israeli forces have killed a total of 129 Palestinians since the start of the year, including 29 children. Many Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank this year were militants engaged in violent battles with soldiers, the Israeli military says.”

The Times Of Israel: Gantz Meets With IDF, Shin Bet Heads After Deadly Terror Attack

“Defense Minister Benny Gantz has held a snap meeting with military chief Aviv Kohavi and the head of the Shin Bet security agency, Ronen Bar, following this morning’s deadly terror attack near Ariel. Gantz’s office says he “emphasized the importance of quick actions in the area following the attack to restore a sense of security, as well as the need to act quickly against those involved if there were any, and against the terrorist’s associates.” His office adds that Gantz called to “accelerate” operational and intelligence efforts in the West Bank to foil further attacks.”

Somalia

Voice Of America: Somalia's President Vows To Continue War On Al-Shabab

“Somalia's president has vowed to continue the war against al-Shabab militants in an address to lawmakers in which he also warned of also warned of looming famine in pasrts of the country. Speaking at the opening of Somalia’s second session of parliament Tuesday, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud vowed to continue what he’s called “all-out war” against terrorism. Mohamud said Somalia enjoyed victories in the recent offensives against the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. He also praised local militias for helping in the fight against the militants, who he called “khawarijs,” a term for someone who deviates from Islam. “Our country and our people are in a time where going back and defeat are not an option,” Mohamud said. “We decided to commit in order to liberate the country from the khawarijs.” Working with local militias, the Somali National Army has freed scores of villages in central Somalia from al-Shabab control in recent months. The militants, meanwhile, have increased their attacks since Mohamud took office in May. They include a rare July incursion into neighboring Ethiopia that authorities say left hundreds of militants dead and a twin car bombing in Mogadishu in October that killed 120 people. Mohamud also spoke to lawmakers about Somalia’s struggle with a record drought that is threatening famine in parts of the country.”

Canada

Global News: Government Rejects Returning Canadians From ISIS Camps In Syria

“It would be “unprecedented and unprincipled” to help Canadian ISIS suspects detained in Syria, the federal government has argued in a court filing. Responding to a lawsuit by the families of Canadians captured during the fight against ISIS, the government detailed its legal position for the first time. The families want the Federal Court to order Ottawa to bring the detainees back to Canada from prisons and camps run by U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters. But federal lawyers argued the case should be dismissed, since accepting the families’ claims would improperly extend the Charter of Rights beyond Canada’s borders. “The applicants are being detained outside of Canada by foreign entities. These entities are operating entirely independently of Canada’s jurisdiction or control,” they wrote. “The charter clearly does not apply to the actions of these entities, including the detentions of the applicants.” On Oct. 26, the government took two women and two children out of a camp for ISIS members and their families in northeast Syria. The women had left Canada and married ISIS fighters. Both were arrested upon arriving in Montreal. Oumaima Chouay, 27, has been charged with four terrorism offences. Kimberly Polman was not charged but faces a terrorism peace bond in B.C. Three others had previously returned: An orphan named Amira, and a mother and her daughter who were given travel documents in Iraq, although Canada played no part in their release from Syria.”

Southeast Asia

Associated Press: Maldives Arrests 14 For Alleged Islamic State-Tied Bomb Plot

“Police in Maldives have arrested 14 people allegedly working with foreign Islamic extremists to carry out a bombing in the tiny archipelago state, police said. The suspects had been working with the Islamic State group and apparently planning an attack with the intent of killing many people, Uswath Ahmed, the nation's counterterrorism head, told reporters Monday night. He did not elaborate. He said the suspects were arrested last Friday in three locations in the country and 13 homes were raided. Maldives is known for its pristine beaches and expensive island resorts, but there has been a rise in religious extremism in recent years. The Sunni Muslim nation of 500,000 people had the highest number of people per capita fighting in foreign wars. The country's former president and current Parliament speaker Mohamed Nasheed was critically injured in a bike bomb attack near his home last year. Nasheed is known to be a liberal, pro-West politician.”

Technology

Al Arabiya: A New Tinder Swindler? ISIS Using Dating App To Fund Terrorism: Report

“The Netflix true-crime documentary ‘Tinder Swindler,’ which told the story of how a young Israeli conman used the popular dating app to lure women into sending him thousands of dollars to support his lavish lifestyle, sent shockwaves around the globe earlier this year. Now, Tinder is reportedly being used by ISIS agents in South Africa to fund its insurgency campaigns and recruit members, the head of the South African Banking Risk Information Center (SABRIC) Nischal Mewalall told British daily The Times. For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app. Members of the terrorist group have been creating fake profiles of unknown actors and models to manipulate users into sending them money, according to Mewalall. Tinder has acknowledged that the app has been used by “a relatively small percentage” of people for criminal activity and has warned people to be wary of individuals asking for money. “We have a zero-tolerance policy on predatory behavior of any kind. We have a dedicated fraud team that utilizes a network of industry leading technology that scans for fraud and reviews each and every member profile for red flag language, and conducts manual reviews of suspicious profiles, activity, and user generated reports,” the app says in its policy statement.”

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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