Eye on Extremism: November 20, 2023

Voice Of America: Extremist Groups Spread In West Africa

“Islamist groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State have been spreading across Africa for years. The groups came from the large area south of the Sahara Desert called the Sahel. They are spreading into wealthier West African coastal nations like Benin. Militants once were believed to want to use coastal nations like Benin, Togo and Ghana as bases for attacks on Sahel governments. Now the militant groups are strengthening. Benin has been the hardest hit. This year it had more than 10 times the number of violent incidents involving Islamists than Togo did. That information comes from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Attacks by militant Islamists, or jihadis, against civilians in Benin went from more than 30 to about 80. The overall number of incidents involving jihadi groups rose by more than 70 percent. The jihadis' activity in Benin is mostly in the north of the country. There, they try to recruit people and create division within local populations. Residents of one small town told The Associated Press recently that civilians can no longer move freely. People in Materi live in fear because of the jihadi threat. The fighters place explosives and carry out kidnappings in the area. They aim to make people lose trust in the government. The government has put in place a curfew and a ban on gatherings. “I can’t sleep at night, we’re not free to travel, to move,” Materi resident Florence Bati said. “People are too afraid.””

Associated Press: Roadside Bomb Kills 3 People In Pakistan’s Insurgency-Hit Baluchistan Province

“A roadside bomb exploded in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province, killing three people, police said. Police officer Mohammad Rahim said the bomb was planted on a dirt road in the Balgatar area of Kech district and was detonated remotely. Three men, two of whom were brothers, were killed while on their way to a family gathering, and a privately owned car was destroyed, he said. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast but suspicion falls on Baluch nationalists turned separatist groups who have been involved in low-level insurgency for over two decades in the gas- and mineral-rich province. The groups have been calling for independence from the central government in Islamabad. Kech district and surrounding areas have suffered from violence for years. Insurgent groups have claimed responsibility for attacks on security forces and civilian targets in recent months. Islamic militants and a banned Sunni extremist group also operate in the province. Also Sunday, police in the Rajanpur district of the southwestern Punjab province arrested four militants in a raid. Dost Muhammad, police chief in Rajanpur, said officers seized explosive material and weapons from the militants’ hideout. He did not say which group the militants belong to but said anti-state elements from Baluchistan often sneak into the border area of his district.”

CEP Mentions

Congressman Andy Ogles: Ogles, Biggs Introduce The ‘Trust But Verify’ Act

“…CEP strongly supports the Trust But Verify Act. Qatar has long played both arsonist and firefighter, harboring and funding terrorists responsible for the deaths of Americans and Israelis and the captivity of many more. The U.S. must force Qatar to choose between being an American ally or a partner of terrorists. We thank Congressman Ogles for sponsoring this bill and urge Congress to pass it.” - Counter Extremism Project.”

The U.S. Sun: SHOCK & AWE Dramatic Moment Israel Blows Up Terrorist Bomb Factory In Gaza In Massive Explosion As Troops Hunt For Hamas Tunnels

“…According to the Counter Extremism Project the group is "dedicated to eradicating Israel" and "establishing an autonomous Islamic Palestinian state" in the lands currently comprising Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.”

VT Uncensored Foreign Policy: Foreign Mercenaries Abandoning Ukrainian Army After Becoming Zelensky’s ‘Cannon Fodder’

“…Citing internal documents, the newspaper noted that the Legion was experiencing problems and that recruitment had“stagnated.” As the Washington-based Counter Extremism Project claimed in March, the Legion and other groups tied to it “continue to feature individuals widely seen as unfit to perform their duties.”

DW: Germany: An Honest Broker For Middle East Diplomacy?

“…German diplomacy on this issue faces a difficult balance to strike. It requires "influencing all sides to bring this conflict to an end as quickly as possible, in such a way that guarantees Israel's security and creates prospects for the Palestinians," Hans-Jakob Schindler, a political analyst from the Counter Extremism Project, a nonprofit that researches mostly Islamist extremism, told DW.”

The National: Fears Over Threat To Free Speech As Europe Restricts Pro-Palestine Protests

“Former diplomat Hans-Jakob Schindler, of the Counter Extremism Project, said Germany's measures show that to be treated as a potential threat groups no longer have to openly call for violence. “Of course, support for Hamas, or attempts to support Hamas, will not necessarily stop in Germany but every time you have one of these bans it makes it more difficult, it makes it harder, it makes it riskier for individuals,” he said.”

The Washington Post: Antisemitism Was Rising Online. Then Elon Musk’s X Supercharged It.

“... Outside of social media, white supremacists and neo-Nazis have continued to use lightly moderated messaging platforms such as Telegram and group-run websites to distribute hate messages and propaganda since the Israel-Gaza war began, according to the Counter Extremism Project, a nonprofit that tracks the groups. The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism found that antisemitic and anti-Muslim posts on 4chan, Gab, Odysee, and Bitchute increased 461 percent from 618 to 3,466 from Oct. 6 to Oct. 8. A researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London think tank that tracks hate and disinformation, said online extremists were having a “field day,” with far-right groups using Hamas propaganda to bolster antisemitic messages. Russia’s sophisticated disinformation apparatus also has seized on the conflict. One of Russia’s widest ongoing campaigns, known as Doppelgänger, promotes fake articles on clones of major media websites. Links to the pages are sent out rapidly by large networks of automated accounts on X and Facebook. For the past year, most of these articles have been aimed at undermining Western support for Ukraine, Russia’s top priority. But not long after Oct. 7, some Doppelgänger assets started promoting the idea that the United States cared far more about Israel and would stop sending Ukraine as much aid, according to Antibot4Navalny, a group of volunteers who track Russian disinformation on the internet.”

United States

Politico: Biden Orders Top Aides To Prepare Reprimands For Violent Israeli Settlers In West Bank

“President Joe Biden directed top officials to prepare visa bans and sanctions for extremist Israeli settlers attacking and displacing Palestinians in the West Bank, according to an internal document read to POLITICO. The Cabinet memo, sent to senior aides like Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday, orders their agencies “to develop policy options for expeditious action against those responsible for the conduct of violence in the West Bank.” A senior U.S. official read sections of the memo to POLITICO on Saturday evening shortly after Biden published an op-ed in The Washington Post revealing his intentions for such a move. “The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank,” he wrote in the op-ed. The directive comes as the Biden administration aims to show that it’s supporting Palestinian civilians in need, even as it staunchly defends Israel’s retaliation against Hamas, and while members of the president’s party seek conditions on military aid to Washington’s ally.”

Reuters: US Designates Kata’ib Sayyid Al-Shuhada, Officer As Specially Designated Global Terrorists -Statement

“The U.S. State Department has designated Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) and its secretary general as specially designated global terrorists, the agency said on Friday. "KSS terrorist activity has threatened the lives of both U.S. and Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS personnel in Iraq and Syria," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.”


Bloomberg: Trudeau Reiterates Call For ‘Maximum Restraint’ From Israel

“Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is continuing to urge Israel to exercise “maximum restraint” to limit civilian deaths in Gaza, even after his earlier remarks prompted a rebuke from Benjamin Netanyahu. Trudeau called on Israel this week to do all it could to avoid civilian casualties, saying “the world is watching” as women, babies and children die. Netanyahu responded in a social-media post that it is Hamas, not Israel, “that should be held accountable for committing a double war crime — targeting civilians while hiding behind civilians.” After Netanyahu’s reproach, the Canadian leader spoke with Benny Gantz, an Israeli opposition leader and a member of Netanyahu’s war cabinet. Asked Friday if he used the same language in that call, Trudeau said he was consistent in all his conversations. “Canada is extremely concerned about the number of civilian casualties in Gaza, both because the loss of life is heartbreaking to see, but also because the pathway towards a secure, viable, independent Jewish state alongside a secure, viable, independent Palestinian state is getting more difficult with all the hardship that Palestinians are undergoing,” Trudeau told reporters in San Francisco. “Even as we absolutely must see releasing of hostages and condemnation and justice for the Hamas terrorists, we need to also be moving towards peace and stability in the region.” When a reporter pointed out he didn’t use the expression “maximum restraint” in his answer, Trudeau replied simply: “Maximum restraint.””


Associated Press: Tens Of Thousands Of Religious Party Supporters Rally In Pakistan Against Israel’s Bombing In Gaza

“Tens of thousands of supporters from Pakistan’s main religious political party rallied in the eastern city of Lahore on Sunday against Israel’s bombing of Palestinians in Gaza and what it said is the world’s failure to protect Gazans. Amid anti-Israeli and anti-American slogans the emotionally charged crowd also called for jihad, or holy war. Earlier this month, Jamaat-e-Islami held massive rallies in the port city of Karachi and the capital, Islamabad. Supporters, including women and children, marched for several kilometers (miles) to reach the location of the rally, holding banners and posters with slogans opposing Israel and the United States and in support of the Palestinians. Senator Sirajul Haq, the JI chief, said the ongoing rallies in support of Palestinians around the world awaken world governments and give a voice to the innocent. He said the resolutions and words issued by the Organization for Islamic Cooperation will not work, and that Muslim rulers have to rise and to stop the hand of the aggressor.”

Reuters: Taliban Minister Raises Return Of Deported Afghans' Assets In Pakistan Visit

“The Taliban's acting commerce minister said he had asked Pakistan to help return the assets of expelled Afghans and discussed ways to overcome Afghanistan's stalled banking sector transactions during a four-day visit to Islamabad this week. Acting minister Nooruddin Azizi's arrival in the Pakistani capital marked the first public visit by a senior Taliban official since Pakistan announced its policy to deport thousands of undocumented Afghans and other foreign citizens after Nov. 1. It comes just a week after Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister said its expulsion plan was a response to the unwillingness of the Taliban-led administration to act against militants using Afghanistan to carry out attacks in Pakistan. The Taliban have said the security issues are a domestic matter for Islamabad and called on Pakistan to stop deportations. Azizi said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday night that the negotiations had mainly focused on trade issues and had been "friendly". He said Pakistan officials had raised counter-terrorism issues and he had reiterated the Taliban's policy that Afghan soil would not be used against other nations. Azizi said a major focus of the visit had been raising the problem of Afghan deportees being unable to return their assets from Pakistan. He said that the Afghan embassy's charge d'affaires in Islamabad and Pakistan's foreign office would work on a "detailed roadmap" on how the assets could be returned but said it would take time.”

Associated Press: The Pakistani Army Kills 4 Militants During A Raid Along The Border With Afghanistan

“Pakistan security forces killed four militants in a shootout during an overnight raid in the country’s northwest near the border with Afghanistan, the military said Sunday. A military statement said security forces conducted an intelligence-based operation in the Khaisoor area of North Waziristan district, where they exchanged fire with militants. It said troops seized weapons and ammunition from the militants’ hideout. The military said one of the most wanted militant commanders, identified by single name of Ibrahim, was among the dead, all of whom were involved in attacks on security forces and civilians. Troops were carrying out sanitization of the surrounding areas to eliminate any hiding militants, it said. North Waziristan served for decades as a safe haven for militants until the military carried out a major operation after an attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in 2014 killed more than 150 people, mostly schoolchildren. The army announced after the yearslong operation that it had cleared the region of militants, but attacks continue occasionally, raising concerns that the local Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, found sanctuaries in Afghanistan and are regrouping in the area. The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but allies of the Afghan Taliban, which seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 as the U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout after 20 years of war.”


Reuters: Houthis Seize Ship In Red Sea With Link To Israeli Company

“Israel said on Sunday that Yemen's Houthis had seized a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo ship in the southern Red Sea, describing the incident as an "Iranian act of terrorism" with consequences for international maritime security. The Houthis said they had seized a ship in that area but described it as Israeli. "We are treating the ship's crew in accordance with Islamic principles and values," a spokesperson for the group said, making no reference to the Israeli account. The Houthis, an ally of Tehran, have been launching long-range missile and drone salvoes at Israel in solidarity with the Palestinian Hamas militants fighting in the Gaza Strip. Japan's top government spokesperson on Monday confirmed the capture of the Nippon Yusen-operated ship, Galaxy Leader, adding that Japan was appealing to the Houthis while seeking the help of Saudi, Omani and Iranian authorities to work toward the swift release of the vessel and its crew. "We strongly condemn such acts," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference. No Japanese nationals are among the crew, he said. Galaxy Leader is owned by a company registered under Isle of Man-headquartered Ray Car Carriers, which is a unit of Tel Aviv-incorporated Ray Shipping, according to LSEG data. Ray Car Carriers and Ray Shipping could not be immediately reached for comment outside business hours.”


Reuters: Hezbollah, Israel Trade Strikes At Lebanese Border In Latest Escalation

“Hezbollah and Israel traded rocket and missile fire in areas near the Lebanese-Israeli border on Saturday, officials on both sides said, in the latest flare-up of violence which the United States worries will cause conflict to spiral in the Middle East. The Iran-backed Hezbollah said it shot down an Israeli drone near the border in the early hours of Saturday. Israel’s military said it intercepted a missile fired at an Israeli drone. Reuters could not verify either statement. Lebanese officials said an Israeli air strike hit a building in an industrial area near the town of Nabatieh, one of the deepest Israeli strikes inside Lebanese territory since fighting began last month. The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the incident. Lawmaker Hani Kobeissy distributed a video online of him visiting the site which he said was an aluminium supply store that had been bombed by Israel. Hezbollah released a series of statements early on Saturday saying it had hit Israeli military sites and troops in areas along the border and caused casualties. The violence is a spillover from Israel's war against Palestinian militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Hamas, which controls Gaza, attacked Israeli towns on Oct. 7 killing 1,200 people, according to Israel. Israel has bombarded and invaded Gaza since then, killing 12,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health authorities.”

Middle East

Haaretz: East Jerusalem Journalist Arrested On Suspicion Of Incitement And Encouraging Terrorism

“Marwat Al-Azza, a Palestinian journalist from East Jerusalem, was arrested on Friday on charges of inciting and disseminating materials encouraging terrorism. According to police, the materials, published in a post on her Facebook account on October 7, constituted support for Hamas. Al-Azza, a 45-year-old freelancer, started working for the American news network NBC shortly before the war began. She has previously worked for the American station Al-Hurra and the Saudi channel KSA2. On October 7, Al-Azza put up posts on her personal Facebook account allegedly supporting Hamas terrorism. She wrote on the kidnapping of an elderly woman from a Gaza border community, “It’s killing me, it’s a black comedy, the old woman looks happy, a bit of action before she dies.” In another post, she wrote: “Sirens all the time, the Jews are hiding and the Arabs are out drinking coffee on their balconies.” In yet another post, she wrote: "I feel like I’m watching a movie where the director is Palestinian and the protagonists are from Gaza.” At Al-Azza’s remand hearing, the state’s representative said: “These are extremely grave offenses during a war, committed by someone who lives and works in a country that is under attack, yet chooses to incite and glorify the terrible acts committed against civilians.” He also claimed that her detention should be extended due to the possibility she may tamper with evidence, since she had deleted some of her posts.”

Reuters: Insight: Forever War? Israel Risks A Long, Bloody Insurgency In Gaza

“Israel risks facing a long and bloody insurgency if it defeats Hamas and occupies Gaza without a credible post-war plan to withdraw its troops and move toward the creation of a Palestinian state, U.S. and Arab officials, diplomats and analysts said. None of the ideas floated so far by Israel, the United States and Arab nations for the post-war administration of Gaza have managed to gain traction, according to two U.S. and four regional officials as well as four diplomats familiar with the discussions, raising fears the Israeli military may become mired in a prolonged security operation. As Israel tightens its control over northern Gaza, some officials in Washington and Arab capitals fear it is ignoring lessons from the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan when swift military victories were followed by years of violent militancy. If Gaza's Hamas-run government is toppled, its infrastructure destroyed and its economy ruined, the radicalization of an enraged population could fuel an uprising targeting Israeli troops in the enclave's narrow streets, diplomats and officials say. Israel, the U.S. and many Arab states agree that Hamas should be ousted after it launched a cross-border raid on Oct. 7 that killed some 1,200 people and took around 240 hostages. But there is no consensus on what should replace it.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

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