Eye on Extremism: November 17

The Wall Street Journal: Islamic State Claims Deadly Bombings In Ugandan Capital

“Suicide bombers set off two powerful explosions in the center of Uganda’s capital during rush hour in an attack later claimed by Islamic State. At least three people were killed and 33 were injured in the Tuesday morning attacks, which took place within about 550 yards and three minutes of each other in Kampala’s heavily guarded business district, police spokesman Fred Enanga said. Three suspected suicide bombers also died in the blasts. Police also shot and injured a fourth would-be suicide bomber in a suburb north of Kampala and during a search of the alleged attacker’s residence recovered a suicide vest and other bomb-making equipment, Mr. Enanga said. Police blamed the attack on the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist group that started an insurgency against Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, in the 1990s and in 2017 pledged allegiance to Islamic State, or ISIS. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack through its Amaq news agency. The militant group’s leadership formally recognized the ADF as one of its affiliates in July 2019. The ADF usually operates from the jungles of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, but European security officials say it has recently become emboldened to launch high-profile attacks in Uganda and neighboring Rwanda after receiving sizable funding and technical assistance from Islamic State’s central leadership.”

France 24: Over 130 Yemen Rebels Killed In Battle For Marib: Coalition

“The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said Tuesday it has killed over 130 Huthi rebels in the past 24 hours in strikes in and near the northern pro-government bastion of Marib. The Saudi-led coalition has been reporting high death tolls in almost daily strikes since October aimed at repelling a rebel offensive on the city of Marib, the government's last stronghold in the north. The Iran-backed Huthis rarely comment on the tolls, which have exceeded 3,700 in the past weeks, and AFP cannot independently verify the coalition's figures. “Sixteen military vehicles were destroyed and more than 130 terrorist elements eliminated” in the latest raids, the coalition said in a statement carried by the Saudi state news agency SPA. It said the operations were carried out in Marib and Al-Bayda provinces. The Huthis began a major push to seize Marib city in February, and renewed their offensive in September. There was also reported fighting on a separate front, along Yemen's Red Sea coast after Huthi forces pushed south in recent days. The coalition said Tuesday they targeted four Huthi positions along the western coast.”

Syria

Al Monitor: Attack On Syrian Prison Holding Iraqi Islamic State Captives Raises Concerns

“Reports of a planned Nov. 8 attack on a detention facility hosting thousands of alleged Islamic State operatives from Iraq and other countries in northeastern Syria earlier this month have heightened concerns about risks to regional stability and gains against the international terrorist group. The Sinaa prison, which was apparently the intended target, holds several thousand IS operatives and is known to only occasionally be subjected to sweep-up operations by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF has repeatedly lamented a lack of funding and personnel to do more than simply allow the prisoners to effectively run their own affairs within the prison. The attack is thought to have been planned to liberate prisoners held. The next day, the international coalition (CJTFOIR) tweeted about “joint success” in an operation with the SDF in the Deir ez-Zor region, but did not go into specifics. On Nov. 13, three Iraqi nationals including one woman were reportedly shot and killed in al-Hol camp in Hasakah province in northeastern Syria. The camp is run by the Kurdish-led administration and currently houses over 50,000 people, roughly half of whom are Iraqis. Of the 78 people known to have been killed in the camp this year, 58 were Iraqis and at least 10 were beheaded.”

Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal: Afghanistan’s Shiite Minority Cautiously Embraces Taliban Rule, Seeking Protection

“Going house to house in January 2001, Taliban fighters rounded up hundreds of men in this Shiite town and nearby villages. Then they executed their captives, leaving piles of bodies in the snow-covered fields. These days, a Shiite flag lauding Imam Hussain, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, flies next to the Taliban’s white banner atop Yakawlang’s district government compound. Most of the Taliban fighters and officials here are local Shiites who joined the Sunni Islamist insurgency years ago, as the downfall of the American-backed Afghan republic became increasingly likely. Bitter memories of the 2001 killings, they say, influenced this switch. “Last time, they came and did whatever they wanted here because they were strangers. People were really afraid of facing the same violence again, and so now we’ve come here to prevent it,” said Mohammed Hassan Hamdard, a Shiite native of the area who said he joined the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan 12 years ago. “We don’t want other people to govern our people,” he added, surrounded by a dozen Shiite gunmen. “We are accountable to the leaders of the Islamic Emirate and are committed to their rules and principles. On the other hand, they have also committed to preventing individuals from creating problems for our people.”

The Independent: Taliban Victory Has ‘Heightened Risk’ From Militant Insurgents Around The World, Say Terror Analysts

“Afghanistan’s fall to Taliban control has created the conditions for terrorist groups to use the country to launch attacks abroad, while Africa’s Sahel region has seen the rise of the fastest growing Islamist insurgency in the world, according to a report by a leading security company. The Islamist victory across the border has led to the formation of new militant alliances in Pakistan’s tribal areas and the rise in assaults on security forces there are likely to continue, says Control Risks which raises the terrorism rating in those parts of Pakistan from “high” to “extreme”. The report states “it will come as no surprise that Afghanistan has moved to ‘extreme’ from ‘high’. The Taliban, a sanctioned terrorist organisation, is in control. Or maybe it is not, which is one of the elements of volatility in that country for the coming year. The risk is very high that Afghanistan becomes a safe haven for terrorists with ambitions within its border and beyond.” A number of states in Africa – the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and parts of the CAR (Central African Republic), and South Sudan have also moved to the “extreme” category in the company’s annual “RiskMap”. However clashes between the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and a faction of Boko Haram has weakened the militant influence in Nigeria’s Borno state and limited their expansion to the south.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Police Raid In Kashmir Kills 2 Civilians, 2 Suspected Rebels

“Four people have died in Indian-controlled Kashmir after a deadly raid by government forces on alleged militants in the disputed region’s main city, police and families of the victims said Tuesday. The region’s head of police, Vijay Kumar, said that militants “fired indiscriminately” at police and soldiers when they cordoned off a business center Monday night in Srinagar, following a tip that rebels were hiding there. The ensuing clash led to the death of two civilians and two suspected rebels — including a Pakistani national, Kumar told reporters on Tuesday. However, families of the slain civilians said Indian troops used them as human shields during the deadly standoff. Police said the civilians were killed in the crossfire and were identified as the shopping center’s owner, Mohammad Altaf Bhat, and a trader, Mudassir Ahmed. The police chief said Ahmed, a dental surgeon and real estate dealer who had rented an office space in the building, was an “overground worker,” a term Indian authorities use for rebel sympathizers and their civilian supporters. Kumar said Ahmed provided shelter to the slain foreign militant in the building and was also ferrying other militants from one place to another.”

Nigeria

Associated Press: Gunmen Kill 15 In Latest Attack In Nigeria’s Northwest

“Gunmen have killed at least 15 people in Nigeria’s northwest, the Sokoto state governor said, the latest incident in a spiral of violence in Africa’s most populous country. The gunmen stormed communities in Sokoto state and raided houses from Sunday night into Monday morning, Gov. Aminu Tambuwal said in a statement, just days after nearly 30 people were shot dead across remote communities across Nigeria’s troubled north. At least 13 people were killed in Illela, a town near the border with neighboring Niger and some 97 kilometers (60 miles) from the state capital, he said, adding that two others were killed in Goronyo, about 76 kilometers (47 miles) east of the state capital. The violent attacks across the northwest and central parts of Nigeria have killed hundreds of people this year. Most affected communities are in remote areas that don’t have adequate security or telecommunications, such as Goronyo community where more than 40 people were shot dead a month ago when assailants opened fire at a crowded marketplace. The gunmen are mostly young men from the Fulani ethnic group who had traditionally worked as nomadic cattle herders and are caught up in a decades-long conflict with Hausa farming communities over access to water and grazing land, according to authorities and security analysts.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Three Terror Convicts Escape From Kenyan Maximum Security Prison

“Kenyan security agencies are searching for three convicted terror suspects who escaped from a prison in Nairobi Monday. One of the escapees was involved in an attack on Garissa University in 2015 that killed nearly 150 people. The three men escaped from Kamiti prison, the largest maximum security prison in Kenya. Police on Tuesday arrested seven prison wardens in connection with the escape. Police spokesperson Bruno Shioso says the jailbreakers are still at large and the arrested wardens are helping with the investigation into how the men were able to flee. “We just caution people to be on the lookout, to provide information so that they can cooperate with us. Now we have begun investigations to know what exactly happened. So, in the fullness of time, we will be able to share with the public once the investigation is over,” he said. The three convicts include Musharaf Abdalla, who was convicted of attempting to attack the parliament in 2012; Joseph Juma Odhiambo, who was arrested in 2019 at the border between Kenya and Somalia for planning to join the terror group al-Shabab; and Mohamed Abdi Abikar, who was convicted his role in for al-Shabab’s attack on Garissa University in April 2015. That attack killed at least 148 people, most of them students.”

United Kingdom

Sky News: Liverpool Terror Attack: Suspect Killed In Explosion Outside Hospital Named By Police

“The suspected terrorist who was killed in a car explosion outside a hospital in Liverpool has been named as 32-year-old Emad al Swealmeen. He was an asylum seeker from a Middle Eastern country who had been living in the UK for a while and had mental health issues, Sky News understands. Al Swealmeen was not thought to have previously been known to MI5 though that could change as more details emerge. Officers said they believe he is the male passenger who brought a homemade bomb with him into a taxi and asked to be taken to the hospital shortly before 11am on Remembrance Sunday. He was picked up in the Rutland Avenue area of the city and as the car reached the hospital's passenger drop-off point, it exploded. The driver of the cab, David Perry, was treated in hospital after fleeing the car just before it burst into flames, and has now been discharged. Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Meeks, from Counter Terrorism Police North West, said: “Our enquiries are very much ongoing but at this stage we strongly believe that the deceased is 32-year-old Emad al Swealmeen.” Officers believe al Swealmeen lived at a house in Sutcliffe Street for some time and had recently rented a property in Rutland Avenue near Sefton Park - two addresses where searches have been taking place.”

Germany

Associated Press: Germany Charges Syrian Man Over Alleged Islamic State Attack Plot

“A Syrian man who allegedly supported the Islamic State group’s ideology has been charged with making preparations for an attack in Germany, prosecutors said Tuesday. The suspect, who was identified only as Abdullah H. in keeping with German privacy rules, was charged at a Berlin court with preparing a serious act of violence and terror financing. He was arrested in November 2019 in another case, which prosecutors gave no details of. Federal prosecutors said that he decided by June 2019 to carry out an attack in Germany that would be on a similar scale to previous IS attacks in Europe. They said his aim was to kill or wound as many people as possible. Prosecutors said that the man acquired material to build improvised explosive devices, including acetone, hydrogen peroxide and sulfuric acid. He also allegedly made enquiries about using ordinary fertilizer as an explosive, acquired various metal parts and tools, and began to build a submachine gun. The alleged plans were halted by his arrest, prosecutors said.”

Technology

Business Insider: Prosecutors Say Facebook Deleted Crucial Evidence In A Crackdown On Extremist Groups

“Prosecutors said Facebook deleted crucial evidence when it shut down the accounts of a New Mexico militia group during a crackdown on extremist groups, The Washington Post reported.  In August 2020, Facebook announced the New Mexico Civil Guard was removed from the platform. Business Insider's Charles Davis previously reported that the right-wing vigilante group's leaders include “a neo-Confederate with a swastika tattoo and a self-styled 'national anarchist' with a history of denying the Holocaust.” The Post reported that in June 2020, a group of men dressed in military-style camouflage confronted a group protesting a statue of a Spanish conquistador in Albuquerque, when one protester was shot and wounded. The outlet reported that prosecutors accused the New Mexico Civil Guard of starting the violence even though the alleged shooter was not a member of the militia group. On Monday, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raul Torrez filed a petition in California, where the social media network is based, asking a judge to force Facebook to hand over information about accounts created by the militia. Prosecutors want information that could help them identify members of the group, Torrez said at a news conference on Monday.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On November 28, 2020, Boko Haram militants attacked farmers as they worked in the rice fields of Koshebe near the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri. Abubakar Shekau confirmed his faction was responsible for the massacre of 110 civilians.   

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