Eye on Extremism: November 16, 2023

The New York Times: Israel And Hamas Appear To Be Near Hostage Deal, Officials Say

“Israel believes that Wednesday’s raid on Al-Shifa Hospital will put pressure on Hamas to finish a deal to trade dozens of Israeli captives for Palestinian prisoners, according to two senior Israeli officials. Negotiations for a deal are underway, with the various players working on a framework of an agreement, according to the two Israeli officials, who are involved in the Israeli effort to release the hostages through a deal, as well as a third with knowledge of the matter. Under the proposal, Hamas would release 50 women and children abducted during the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks for roughly the same number of Palestinian women and children held in Israeli prisons. The three officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations as did two other Israeli officials who discussed the hostage negotiations. The deal, being negotiated by Qatari, Egyptian and American officials, would also include the cessation of hostilities for several days, a so-called humanitarian pause, four of the officials said. Hamas confirmed the broad outlines of this agreement on Tuesday but blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel for delaying it.”

Reuters: France Issues Arrest Warrant For Syria's President Assad - Source

“French judges have issued arrest warrants for Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, his brother Maher al-Assad, and two other senior officials over the use of banned chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, a judicial source said on Wednesday.  The arrest warrants -- which refer to charges of complicity in crimes against humanity and complicity in war crimes -- follow a criminal investigation into chemical attacks in the town of Douma and the district of Eastern Ghouta in August 2013, attacks which killed more than 1,000 people. It is the first international arrest warrant that has been issued for the Syrian head of state, whose forces responded to protests that began in 2011 with a brutal crackdown that U.N. experts have said amounts to war crimes. These are also the first international arrest warrants that have been issued over the chemical weapons attack in Ghouta, said Mazen Darwish, lawyer and founder of the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), which filed the case in France. Syria denies using chemical weapons but a previous joint inquiry of the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons found that the Syrian government used the nerve agent sarin in an April 2017 attack and has repeatedly used chlorine as a weapon.”

United States

Reuters: U.S. Political Violence Driven By New Breed Of ‘Grab-Bag’ Extremists

“Before he committed mass murder in Colorado late last year, Anderson Lee Aldrich was a lively presence among a group of friends who regularly assembled online for hours to chat, play video games and trade internet memes. The four irreverent young men shared a desire to mock “cancel culture” and laugh over “dumb, silly stuff,” Gilbert Arroyo, one of the friends, told Reuters. But over the roughly three years of their gatherings, the memes and quips Aldrich shared grew increasingly racist, homophobic and violent, according to three of the gamers and a Reuters review of online content that Aldrich assembled. Despite his vitriol, the friends said, Aldrich’s jokes were more scattershot humor than ideological manifesto. They never perceived him to be espousing any particular belief system or aligning with specific hate groups or political causes. They were shocked, then, when Aldrich, wielding an assault rifle and a handgun, entered Club Q, a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, and opened fire last November. The 22-year-old, who once dreamed of joining the military, killed five people and injured 22. He pleaded guilty in June to murder charges and is serving five consecutive life terms in state prison.”

The New York Times: More Migrants On Terrorism Watch List Crossed U.S. Border

“An increasing number of migrants arrested at the southern border over the past year are on the United States’ terrorist watch list, according to government data. From October last year to this September, officials at the southern border arrested 169 people whose names matched those on the watch list, compared with 98 during the previous fiscal year and 15 in 2021, according to government data. But that is a minuscule fraction of the total number of migrants who were apprehended at the border over the past year, more than two million. The increase appears to reflect at least two factors, a surge in illegal crossings and the number of people arriving from a wider variety of countries than in previous years. Still, Republicans have seized on those numbers to assail President Biden for border policies that they say make Americans unsafe. Representative Mark E. Green, Republican of Tennessee and chairman of the House committee on homeland security, pointed to the arrests on Wednesday during a hearing on global threats to the United States. “Why would these individuals, who under the previous president, only 11 attempted to cross and were caught, suddenly feel like they could try and succeed?” he asked. (During the 2017-2019 fiscal years, under President Donald J. Trump, a total of 11 migrants on the watch list were arrested at the southern border.)”

ABC: A 'Rogue's Gallery' Of Threats Made Against US Since Hamas Attack On Israel, FBI Director Christopher Wray Says

“Since Hamas' surprise terror attack against Israel on Oct. 7, law enforcement has seen a "rogue's gallery" of calls for attacks against the U.S. from Hezbollah to Al Qaeda, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday. "Given those calls for action, our most immediate concern is that individuals or small groups will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home," he said in testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee. "We are keeping a close eye on what impact we have on those terrorist groups intentions here in the United States and how those tensions might evolve." Wray told the committee during the "Worldwide Threats to the Homeland" hearing that the "biggest chunk of the threats" reported to the FBI are "threats to the Jewish community, synagogues, Jewish prominent officials, things like that." Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Christine Abizaid testified that "terrorists and violent extremists are exploiting multiple core grievances to fuel violence."”


Washington Post: Deported Afghans Return Home By The Thousands To Unexpected Welcome

“At Pakistan’s main border crossing with northern Afghanistan, the narrow path into an uncertain future runs between two rusty iron fences and ends beneath a black-and-white flag of the Taliban-run government. Many of the returning Afghan refugees who arrived here last week expected the worst as they stepped onto muddy Afghan soil amid torrential rain. Caught up in a major deportation drive and forced to leave their homes in Pakistan, some had never been to the war-ravaged country their parents were born in. Others assumed they would barely recognize the cities they fled after the Taliban takeover in August 2021, where schools are now closed for many girls and music is prohibited. But as they entered their transformed country, many refugees appeared puzzled. There was a poster wishing them a “good and comfortable life.” Rifle-wielding soldiers handed out food and wore bright garlands to celebrate the refugees’ return. Trucks stood ready to transport the returnees and their belongings to sprawling tent cities where 30,000 have found shelter and most families receive a $140 cash payment from the government. “We wish we had returned sooner,” said Sardar Ali, 35, a laborer who was born in Pakistan to Afghan parents and who most recently worked in Rawalpindi.”


Associated Press: Taliban Minister Attends Meeting In Pakistan Despite Tensions Over Expulsions Of Afghans

“A Cabinet minister from Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government attended a trade meeting in Pakistan despite tensions over the expulsion of Afghans living in the country illegally, officials said Wednesday. Around 300,000 Afghans have returned home since last month, when Pakistan launched a nationwide crackdown on undocumented foreigners. The crackdown mainly affects about 1.7 million Afghans who fled during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation of their country and after the Taliban takeover in 2021. The Taliban-led administration in Afghanistan has denounced the crackdown. However, this week the Taliban government sent Commerce and Industry Minister Nooruddin Azizi to Islamabad for a meeting of commerce and trade ministers from Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan. Aziz met separately with Pakistani officials to discuss trade issues and the expulsion of Afghans. In a statement on X, previously known as Twitter, the Afghan Embassy in Islamabad said the three sides agreed to expand trade, improve transit facilities, increase joint investments and enhance transportation. Pakistan this week opened three more border crossing points to expedite the deportation of Afghans, many of whom are unable to take their belongings with them.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Their Families Wiped Out, Grieving Palestinians In Gaza Ask Why

“The night a blast struck his family’s home in the Gaza Strip, Ahmed al-Naouq was more than 2,000 miles away but he still jolted awake, consumed with inexplicable panic. He reached for his cellphone to find that a friend had written — and then deleted — a message. Al-Naouq called him from London. The words that spilled from the other end of the line landed like world-shattering blows: Airstrike. Everyone killed. Four nights later, Ammar al-Butta was startled from sleep in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis when the wall of his bedroom collapsed over him. A missile had pierced his top-floor apartment and exploded one floor below. He lurched over the rubble, shining the light of his cellphone into the wreckage, calling out to his 16 relatives. “Anyone there?” he cried. There was only silence. Entire generations of Palestinian families in the besieged Gaza Strip — from great-grandparents to infants only weeks old — have been killed in airstrikes in the Israel-Hamas war, in which the Israeli army says it aims to root out the militant group from the densely populated coastal territory. Attacks are occurring at a scale never seen in years of Israel-Hamas conflict, hitting residential areas, schools, hospitals, mosques and churches, even striking areas in southern Gaza where Israeli forces ordered civilians to flee.”

Associated Press: Israel Signals Wider Offensive In Gaza’s South, Where Hundreds Of Thousands Have Fled

“Israeli forces dropped leaflets warning Palestinians to flee parts of southern Gaza, residents said Thursday, signaling a possible expansion of their offensive to areas where hundreds of thousands of people who heeded earlier evacuation orders are crowded into U.N.-run shelters and family homes. Meanwhile, soldiers continued searching Shifa Hospital in the north, in a raid that began early Wednesday. They displayed guns they say were found hidden in one building, but have yet to release any evidence of the central Hamas command center that Israel has said is concealed beneath the complex. Hamas and staff at the hospital, Gaza’s largest, deny the allegations. Broadening operations to the south — where Israel already carries out daily air raids — threatens to worsen an already severe humanitarian crisis in the besieged territory. Over 1.5 million people have been internally displaced in Gaza, with most having fled to the south, where food, water and electricity are increasingly scarce. It’s not clear where else they could go, as Egypt refuses to allow a mass transfer onto its soil.”

Reuters: Israeli Military Strikes House Of Hamas Leader Haniyeh In Gaza

“Israeli fighter jets have struck the house of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza, the Israeli military said on Thursday. Haniyeh's house was "used as terrorist infrastructure and often served as a meeting point for Hamas' senior leaders to direct terror attacks against Israeli civilians and IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldiers," the military said.”


Associated Press: Suspected German Anti-Government Extremist Convicted Of Shooting At Police

“A suspected anti-government extremist was convicted of attempted murder in Germany on Wednesday for firing at police who had come to search his home for an unauthorized weapon. The Stuttgart state court sentenced the 55-year-old German citizen, whose name it didn’t release, to 14 1/2 years in prison. He was convicted of several counts of attempted murder, along with attacking and resisting officers and bodily harm. The court said the defendant had for years been writing letters to authorities that were typical of the Reich Citizens scene, which rejects the legitimacy of Germany’s postwar constitution and has similarities to the Sovereign Citizens and QAnon movements in the United States. In 2021, he moved to a farm in Boxberg in southwestern Germany, where he lived along with others with similar views in an isolated community. He showed signs of increasing radicalization. Earlier that year, his weapons license was revoked, and he didn’t respond to demands that he give up a pistol that he had owned legally. In April 2022, police were sent to the farm to search the defendant’s apartment and secure the weapon. As police approached, he fired a total of 45 shots, the court said. One officer was wounded in the leg.”


The New York Times: Antisemitic And Anti-Muslim Hate Speech Surges Across The Internet

“On Oct. 7, the day Hamas attacked Israel, the hashtag #HitlerWasRight appeared on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. Over the next month, more than 46,000 posts featured the hashtag, often alongside language that called for violence against Jews. At the same time, the hashtag #DeathtoMuslims also spiked on X and was shared tens of thousands of times, according to a review by The New York Times. Antisemitic and Islamophobic hate speech has surged across the internet since the conflict between Israel and Hamas broke out. The increases have been at far greater levels than what academics and researchers who monitor social media say they have seen before, with millions of often explicitly violent posts on X, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Antisemitic content soared more than 919 percent on X and 28 percent on Facebook in the month since Oct. 7, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group. Anti-Muslim hate speech on X jumped 422 percent on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8, and rose 297 percent over the next five days, said the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based political advocacy group.”

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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