Eye on Extremism: November 23

Reuters: U.S. Blacklists 3 Leaders, Financial Facilitator For Afghan Affiliate Of Islamic State

“The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on three leaders of Islamic State's Afghanistan branch and another man it accused of acting as a financial facilitator for the group, in a move that follows a series of attacks in Kabul claimed by the militant group. The State Department on Monday named the group's emir, Sanaullah Ghafari, spokesperson Sultan Aziz Azam and Kabul province leader Maulaw Rajab as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. The U.S. Treasury Department also blacklisted Ismatullah Khalozai, accusing him of operating a Turkey-based informal money-moving network, known as a hawala, to transfer funds to finance the Islamic State-Khorasan Province. “Today's designation underscores the United States' determination to prevent ISIS-K and its members from exploiting the international financial system to support terrorist acts in Afghanistan and beyond,” said Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, using a common name for Islamic State-Khorasan Province. The U.N. envoy to Afghanistan last week delivered a bleak assessment of the situation following the Taliban takeover, saying that the affiliate of the Islamic State group has grown and now appears present in nearly all 34 provinces.”

The National: Yemen Joint Forces Take Control Of Key Area As Houthis Suffer Big Losses

“The joint forces battling the Iran-backed Houthis in western Yemen have taken full control of key areas between the provinces of Hodeidah and Taez. A large-scale operation that began last Friday has led to big losses in the rebel ranks, said Aseel Assakladi, media centre director of the pro-government Al Amalika Forces. “The joint forces seized control over new strategic areas in southern Hodeidah and Taez amid big collapses in the ranks of the Houthi militants,” Mr Assakladi told The National. “Our troops backed [with] air cover from the Arab Coalition airplanes scored a new progress and took full control over the strategic mountain of Al Maghreb in Jabal Ras in south-eastern Hodeidah and controlled the mountainous chain of Al Rewiana and Attour in Macbana in western Taez province as well as Wadi Nakhlah in eastern Hays in southern Hodeidah.” Mr Assakladi said the progress was made after “fierce clashes with the Houthi militants, who suffered big losses in the ranks of their fighters and equipment as well”. He said 45 Houthi fighters were killed and more than 25 were captured during the fighting, which began last Friday. Al Amalika forces launched a wide-ranging offensive and successfully controlled the Sakam intersection in southern Hays, cutting the Houthi supply route that feeds their fighters in Taez.”

United States

The Washington Post: SUV Crash Into Wisconsin Christmas Parade Is Latest Among Deadly Car-Ramming Incidents

“…In a June 2021 report, the Counter Extremism Project, a nonpartisan research and advocacy group based in New York, said attacks against protesters using cars are most often the domain of the far-right, although “some were also perpetrated by those on the left against right-wing protesters.” “Authorities recorded at least 50 vehicular rammings against protesters between May and June 2020,” it said, including at least 18 “deliberate attacks.” There are other reasons, too, that led to deadly crashes into packed areas — a man was convicted of capital murder in 2015 after he ran his car through crowds in Austin, killing four people while intoxicated and attempting to evade a police checkpoint the year before. CEP tallied “at least 57 vehicular terrorist attacks since 2006, collectively resulting in the deaths of at least 207 people and the injury of at least 1,133 others.” It said these types of attacks are not new but have become more common “in large part” due to “ISIS’s explicit calls to employ cars as weapons.” Some high-profile examples include a man who was alleged to have killed eight people and injured at least a dozen when he reportedly drove a truck into pedestrians and cyclists on a Lower Manhattan bike path in 2017. Federal officials charged him with providing support to a terrorist organization, alleging that he was inspired by the Islamic State.”

Syria

The Guardian: Former IS Fighters Say They Paid Way Out Of Kurdish Jail In ‘Reconciliation’ Scheme

“Kurdish-led forces in charge of jails in north-east Syria housing about 10,000 men with alleged links to Islamic State are releasing prisoners in exchange for money under a “reconciliation” scheme, according to interviews with two freed men and official documents. Syrian men imprisoned without trial can pay an $8,000 (£6,000) fine to be freed, a copy of the release form shows. As part of the deal, the released prisoners sign a declaration promising not to rejoin any armed organisations and to leave the parts of north and east Syria under control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). On their release, the two men the Guardian met – both of whom had fought with IS until the group’s so-called caliphate collapsed in March 2019 – were reunited with their wives and children, who were also freed from al-Hawl detention camp under the deal. The families then travelled to Idlib province, which is run by rival Islamists, and crossed the border to Turkey. Both men are now living, they believe, under the radar of the authorities in the country they have made their new home. One says that he never bought into the IS ideology, and the other that he was initially attracted to the religious component but did not realise the group would grow to be so violent.”

Iraq

Al Monitor: Iraqi Air Force Bombs Islamic State Hideouts In Mountains

“The Iraqi air force conducted airstrikes against the Islamic State (IS) in the Hamrin mountains today, the military announced. Iraqi pilots in Czech-made Aero L-159 Alca fighter jets bombed hideouts and equipment belonging to IS in the mountains, which are located in the northern Diyala province. The targets were successfully destroyed, the Security Media Cell said on Facebook. Iraqi and Kurdistan Region forces have attributed several recent attacks to IS. In early October, a man detonated himself in a vehicle in the western Anbar province. Later that month, IS attacked a Shiite tribe in Diyala, which prompted retaliatory attacks on Sunni civilians in the area. IS also killed two of the Kurdistan Region’s peshmerga soldiers in an ambush in late October.  The Iraqi air force regularly strikes purported Islamic State targets and areas used by unspecified “terrorist” groups. They also bombed a tunnel used for weapons smuggling in the northern Salah ad-Din province last week.  Iraqi forces defeated IS in 2017, backed by the US-led military coalition. The group has remained active since then, however, particularly in Sunni majority areas and territories disputed between the federal and Kurdistan Region governments. IS’s continued presence is one factor pushing Iraqis to emigrate abroad.”

Afghanistan

The Washington Post: Taliban Sends Hundreds Of Fighters To Eastern Afghanistan To Wage War Against Islamic State

“The Taliban has expanded its shadowy war against the Islamic State branch in Afghanistan, deploying hundreds more fighters to this eastern province in an increasingly violent fight and critical test of the group’s counterterrorism abilities after the U.S. troop withdrawal. More than 1,300 additional Taliban fighters have been deployed to Nangahar province in the past month with orders to increase the tempo of operations, according to Taliban security officials. Taliban night raids against suspected Islamic State-Khorasan members are on the rise, and many of the hundreds arrested have disappeared or turned up dead, according to Jalalabad residents and Taliban fighters. “The fight is difficult, and yes sometimes it is brutal, but we have to eradicate Daesh not just for Afghanistan, but for the entire world,” said Qari Nurullah Fateh, a Taliban fighter under the group’s intelligence wing in Jalalabad. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State commonly used in Afghanistan. “If someone doesn’t surrender to us, we kill them.” Fateh’s unit carries out multiple search operations for Islamic State suspects in Jalalabad most nights from sunset until early morning prayers. Previously, the fighters would only leave base once or twice a week. Fateh estimated that seven to 10 Islamic State suspects are arrested in Jalalabad every week and about six are killed.”

CNN: Women Banned From Afghan Television Dramas Under New Taliban Media Rules

“Women will be barred from appearing in television dramas in Afghanistan under the Taliban's new media restrictions, in the latest rollback of women's freedoms since the militant group seized power three months ago. All dramas, soap operas and entertainment shows featuring women are prohibited, according to the government guidelines issued to broadcasters on Sunday. The country's Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice issued eight directives concerning what is allowed to be broadcast, in the first restrictions of their kind imposed on the country's media network. Among the directives, women news presenters must now wear headscarves on screen. Similarly, men on screen must wear “proper clothes,” although the guidelines do not specify which types of clothes are considered “proper.” The ministry added that films in opposition to Islamic law and Afghan values should not be broadcast, nor should foreign and domestic films that “promote foreign culture and values.” The rules also state that entertainment and comedy programs “should not be based on insulting others,” nor “for the insult of human dignity and Islamic values.” Finally, TV shows depicting the “prophets and companions” should not be broadcast, it said. Under the previous Taliban government -- in power from 1996 to 2001 -- television was prohibited as well as most other forms of media.”

Middle East

The National: Bahrain Foils Planned Terror Attack And Seizes Iranian Weapons

“Bahrain's security forces have arrested suspected militants over a planned attack and confiscated Iranian weapons and explosives in their possession, the Interior Ministry said on Monday. The number of suspected terrorists arrested was not released, nor were details of the attack that authorities said was being planned. But the Directorate General of Criminal Investigation and Forensic Science said the operations targeted “security and civil peace”. “Weapons and explosives from Iran were seized” from the group who “are linked with terrorist groups in Iran”, the Interior Ministry said on Twitter. Last year, the country's High Criminal Court sentenced 51 people to prison terms ranging from five years to life for forming and joining a terrorist group. The court heard the group members were taking orders from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The public prosecution said the group had been planning attacks on Bahrain and were supplied with weapons and training by the IRGC. Bahrain's Parliament Speaker Fawzia Zainal on Monday said the country placed combatting terrorism among its top priorities and called for international co-operation to enhance security and stability across the region and the world.”

The Times Of Israel: After Jerusalem Killing And 50 Terror Arrests, Lapid Urges Turkey To Shut Down Hamas

“Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Monday demanded Turkey shut down the offices of the Hamas terror group operating in the country after Israel announced the arrests of a sophisticated 50-member West Bank cell being directed from Istanbul. “Hamas’ offices in Istanbul will be shut down. We must prevent these heinous acts of terrorism against Israeli citizens everywhere and under any conditions,” Lapid said, a day after another Hamas terrorist carried out a deadly terror shooting in Jerusalem. He urged other nations to follow the example of the United Kingdom, which announced last week that it intended to ban Hamas in its entirety and stop differentiating between its political and military wings. “The countries of the world must act like Britain and outlaw Hamas,” he said. Lapid spoke out soon after Israel’s Shin Bet security agency revealed that it busted a major Hamas cell, arresting 50 of its operatives. According to the Shin Bet, the Hamas cell was led from Turkey by Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of the terror group’s politburo, and Zacharia Najib, a member of the organization who was released from Israeli prison in the 2011 Gilad Shalit exchange, where they allegedly continue to operate on behalf of Hamas.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Boko Haram Says It Killed Four Soldiers, Two Vigilantes, Burnt Armoured Vehicles During Attack On Army Base In Borno

“The Islamic State-backed faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), formerly known as Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād, has claimed that its fighters killed four Nigerian soldiers and two vigilantes after dislodging a military base in Marte, located near the shores of Lake Chad, Borno State. SaharaReporters gathered that the insurgents on Saturday engaged the Nigerian troops at a military base in the community in a gun battle. ISWAP in a statement sighted by SaharaReporters on Sunday said four soldiers and two vigilantes were killed during the attack. The terror group added that it razed down the army camp, two armoured tanks while a military operational vehicle was captured. Since the death of JAS leader, Abubakar Shekau, ISWAP has been consolidating its grip in locations around Lake Chad. Just recently, it appointed Wali Sani Shuwaram, a 45-year-old as the new Leader (Wali) of ISWAP in Lake Chad. The sect’s membership has swollen with the defection of hundreds of Boko Haram fighters under Shekau. The Nigerian army has repeatedly claimed that insurgency had been largely defeated and frequently underplays any losses.”

Africa

Reuters: Militiamen Kill At Least 20 In Eastern Congo Attack

“Militiamen killed about 20 people during an attack on displaced civilians in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the government said on Monday. Fighters from the CODECO militia raided the village of Drodro on Sunday night, Jules Ngongo, a spokesperson for Ituri's military government, told Reuters. He said they killed 12 civilians, six of them children. Patrick Muyaya, the spokesperson for the national government, later said on Twitter that the death toll stood at around 20. Repeated attacks by CODECO have killed hundreds of civilians in Ituri province's Djugu territory since 2017 and forced thousands to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. CODECO's fighters are drawn mainly from the Lendu farming community, which has long been in conflict with Hema herders. “Their objective was to attack the population that was displaced in Drodro,” Ngongo said. Others said the death toll was higher. Ngabu Lidja Chrysante, a priest and coordinator for the Catholic charity Caritas in Ituri, said his colleagues on the ground had seen the bodies of 35 people killed in the attack, which also targeted the local church. Kivu Security Tracker, which maps violence in Congo, said it had confirmed 29 deaths. It had earlier reported 107 deaths but said that information turned out to be erroneous. Mathias Gilman, the spokesperson for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo, said at least 16,000 people fleeing the attacks had taken shelter at a nearby site protected by peacekeepers.”

Al Jazeera: Several Suspects Killed In Uganda After Bombings: Police

“Police have said that seven suspects were killed and 106 people detained during operations by the security services linked to three suicide bombings in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, last week. ISIL (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the November 16 attack, which killed seven people, including the three bombers, and injured dozens more. One police officer was among the four others killed and 27 of the 37 wounded were also police officers. “To disrupt and dismantle acts of domestic terrorism, we have intensified operations. Since these operations began, a total of 106 suspects have been arrested,” police spokesperson Fred Enanga said in a statement posted on Facebook on Monday. Police did not provide details on how the seven suspects were killed. In last week’s attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of a police station in the centre of Kampala. Three minutes later two other suicide bombers exploded along a road that leads to the parliament. The explosions set vehicles alight, sent glass shards flying, and panicked officers and workers fleeing multi-storeyed buildings. Enanga said those detained “included those who were involved in terrorist financing and persons who were involved in mobilisation and incitement of vulnerable Ugandans into the ranks of the ADF [Allied Democratic Forces],” a rebel group.”

United Kingdom

Evening Standard: 21-Year-Old Man Charged With Eight Terrorism Offences

“21-year-old man is due in court on Tuesday charged with eight terrorism offences. Mohammad Zubair Khan, of west London, was charged on Monday, November 22 with eight counts of dissemination of terrorist material (contrary to Section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006). He will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday. Khan was arrested on November 16 by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. A warrant of further detention was granted at court a day later, and is due to expire on November 23. A second man, aged 19, was arrested and detained under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 as part of the same investigation. In respect of him, a second warrant of further detention was granted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on November 22, allowing police to keep him in custody until Wednesday November 30, 2021 when the warrant expires. Enquiries continue.”

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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