Eye on Extremism: November 8, 2022

Associated Press: U.S. Sanctions South African Islamic State-Affiliated Firms

“The U.S. on Monday imposed its second round of sanctions in less than a week on people and firms in Africa who it says have provided financial or material support to the Islamic State group. The latest financial penalties target South African entities, including one cell leader, Farhad Hoomer, accused of expressing “the will and intent to attack the interests of the United States,” the Treasury Department said in a statement. Last week, the U.S. sanctioned what it said was a Somali Islamic State weapons trafficking cell. Government reports outline how the Islamic State group is expanding its presence in Africa, after the group faced defeats in Iraq and Syria. The State Department has designated nine groups worldwide as IS affiliates and foreign terrorist organizations. In the latest action, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated four people and eight companies controlled by individuals that it said were in the South African Islamic State cell — including Nufael Akbar, Yunus Mohamad Akbar, Mohamad Akbar, and Umar Akbar. Their gold trading, construction and other firms are targeted for sanctions.”

Reuters: Record Number Of Foreigners Repatriated From IS Camps In Syria This Year

“Repatriations of foreign woman and children affiliated to Islamic State from detention camps in northeast Syria hit a record high in 2022, Kurdish authorities said on Tuesday. Thousands of foreigners including women and children had gone to Syria to live in IS's so-called "caliphate" until 2019, when U.S.-backed Kurdish forces snatched the last pocket of Syrian territory from the jihadists. Fleeing women and children were housed in overcrowded detention camps run by Kurdish authorities and international NGOs, who had pushed for repatriatiations due to rising violence and dire conditions in the camps. Governments responded slowly, fearing security threats and a public backlash over the return of individuals radicalised by Islamic State. But the pace picked up his year, with 517 women and children repatriated so far, according to Kurdish authorities' statistics.”

Syria

Associated Press: Group Warns Of Rampant Violence In Syria Camp Of ISIS Families

“A sprawling camp in northeastern Syria housing tens of thousands of women and children linked to the Islamic State group is witnessing pervasive violence, exploitation and lawlessness, an international aid group said Monday. Doctors Without Borders also said that countries with citizens held in the detention center of al-Hol in Syria's northeastern province of Hassakeh have failed to take responsibility for protecting them. Repeated breaches of human rights and recurrent patterns of violence have been observed at the camp, said the group, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres or MSF. MSF, which runs mobile clinics and also clinic for patients with chronic diseases in the camp, said that counter-terrorism policies have trapped thousands of civilians in the camp in a cycle of indefinite detention, danger and insecurity. In addition to the killings in the camp, this cycle of violence “permeates every aspect of their daily lives and deprives them of their fundamental human rights,” it said. The report came as several Western countries have repatriated dozens of women and children over the past weeks, according to the Kurdish-led local authorities in northeastern Syria. The latest repatriations from al-Hol followed a major security operation in the facility and a call by a top U.S. military commander for repatriations. Following the rise of ISIS in 2014 and its declaration of a co-called Islamic caliphate, some countries stripped some of their citizens who had headed to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS of their nationalities.”

The Jerusalem Post: Four Hezbollah Operatives Killed In Bomb Explosion Near Quneitra, Syria

“Four Hezbollah operatives were killed in a bomb explosion near Quneitra in southwestern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.”

Iran

Reuters: Up To EU To Decide Whether To Classify Iran's Revolutionary Guard As Terrorist Organization - Germany

“It is up to the European Union to decide whether to classify Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation, a spokesperson for the German government said on Monday, but declined to go into details on what talks are ongoing.”

Radio Free Europe: Iran Arrests 26 Foreigners It Says Were Behind Shiraz Mosque Attack

“Iran's Intelligence Ministry says it has arrested 26 people -- all foreigners -- in connection with last month's attack on a Shi'ite pilgrimage site in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz that has been claimed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group. In a statement published on November 7, the ministry alleged an Azerbaijani national was the main person inside Iran who was involved in directing and coordinating the attack. “All of those arrested are non-Iranians. They are nationals from the Republic of Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan,” the statement added. At least 15 people were killed on October 26 in an attack on a key Shi'ite Muslim shrine in southern Iran, with IS claiming responsibility for the assault. State television said the attack, carried out by a lone gunman during evening prayers at the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in Shiraz, also left at least 19 people wounded. The attack came amid a brutal state crackdown on weeks of antiestablishment protests that erupted following the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly. Many Iranians believe the regime is trying to exploit the attack to weaken and suppress the protests, which have become one of the most serious challenges to the Islamic leadership since the revolution in 1979.”

Nigeria

Punch Nigeria: Military Kills Terrorist Leaders Near Lake Chad

“Islamic State’s West Africa Province leaders Ali Kwaya and Bukar Mainoka have been reportedly eliminated. It was gathered that they were neutralised in an operation by Nigerian military fighter jets at Lake Chad on Saturday. Kwaya and Mainoka were influential members of the ISWAP Shura (Consultation) Council. They died after the Air Component of Operation Hadin Kai conducted air interdiction missions at Belowa, said to be one of the ISWAP/Boko Haram enclaves in the Tumbuns, and located in Abadam Local Government Area of Borno State, western coast of Lake Chad. The military said the strikes at Belowa became necessary after intelligence revealed the convergence of some ISWAP leaders and fighters. The terrorists were suspected to be gathering for a meeting ahead of an attack on friendly forces. A Nigerian Air Force fighter aircraft dispatched to the location hit the ISWAP terrorists with rockets and bombs in multiple passes. Sources revealed that the intelligence agency confirmed the killing.”

Mali

AFP: Top Mali Commander Calls On All Tuaregs To Fight Islamic State Group

“A leading commander in Mali's army has called on ethnic Tuaregs to fight jihadists in the north of the country in a WhatsApp audio message authenticated Monday by AFP. General El Hadj Ag Gamou, himself a Tuareg and a major figure in the Malian army's fight against the Islamic State in the Great Sahara (ISGS) -- which is affiliated with the Islamic State organisation -- called on the military help of all Tuaregs inside and outside the country. The Tuareg community is made up of dozens of nomadic sub-communities settled in the Sahara across several countries, mainly Mali, Algeria, Niger and Libya. In the Tamashek-language message, he said he would “give 10 days to all young Tuaregs from Algeria, Libya and elsewhere to reach Gao”, the largest city in northern Mali, which has been plagued by jihadist violence. Ag Gamou is one of the leaders of a pro-government armed group, the Self-Defence Group of Imghad Tuaregs and Their Allies (GATIA), as well as a general in the national army. ISGS has since March increased its offensives in the expansive regions of Gao and Menaka. The UN has repeatedly expressed its concern about the deteriorating situation, and labour unions in the Gao region have called for a 48-hour strike this week to protest against the situation and “government inaction”. As of Monday, the ruling junta had not yet reacted to Ag Gamou's remarks.”

Africa

Bloomberg: Uganda Says Airforce Destroyed Islamic State-Linked Rebel Camp

“Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said his nation’s airforce had attacked and destroyed a camp in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo that was housing Islamic State-linked Allied Democratic Forces. Uganda staged the Nov. 4 strike with the permission of the Congolese government, Museveni said on Twitter on Sunday.  In September 2020, ADF leader Musa Muhsin Baluku said his group had been disbanded and become an IS province, according to a study published a year ago by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London. IS, through its self-proclaimed Central Africa Province, claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Uganda last year, prompting the government to embark on a retaliatory campaign in November 2021. “Wherever they go, we shall reach them as long as the Congo government allows us to operate,” Museveni said.”

Axios: Rebel Offensive In Eastern Congo Threatens Key Border City

“As a renewed rebel offensive in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo nears the largest city in the region, Kenya is sending in forces and the DRC and neighboring Rwanda are exchanging tense accusations. The big picture: Resource-rich parts of eastern DRC — more than a thousand miles from the capital, Kinshasa, and largely outside the government's control — have for decades been havens for illicit mining, proxy conflict, and rebel groups like the March 23 Movement (M23), which took control of several villages over the past two weeks. The fighting this weekend came within 25 miles of Goma, a major city that sits on the DRC's border with Rwanda. One shopkeeper in Goma told AFP last week her children were refusing to go to school out of fear an assault could begin at any moment. Human Rights Watch estimates that 186,000 people have fled their homes since the spring due to the fighting. That number could swell quickly if it reaches Goma. The DRC accuses neighboring Rwanda of arming and supporting M23, as did a recent UN report. Rwanda denies that and accuses the DRC of harboring a Rwandan rebel group, the FDLR, that includes alleged perpetrators of Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Kinshasa denies that. Zoom in: “Of course people are scared” that the violence will reach them, says a wildlife conservationist who lives outside Goma on the Rwandan side of the border. “But they don’t have a choice. You have to wait and see what’s going to happen.”

Technology

Politico: Russia, China And Islamic State Jump On Musk’s Twitter Bandwagon

“Elon Musk has some new super fans: Russia, China and the Islamic State. After the world's richest man bought Twitter for $44 billion last month, officials and journalists linked to Russia and China — and even some jihadists — urged him to lift restrictions on their use of the platform. So far, their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. But the repeated requests — including from high-profile figures like Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for Russia's foreign ministry — are part of efforts by these individuals to use Musk’s takeover as a chance to make a comeback on Twitter. Right-wing extremist groups in the West have already heralded Musk's ownership as a signal that they can post hate-filled and potentially illegal content online with little, or no, resistance.  Now, Russian and Chinese state-backed Twitter accounts have taken up the same free speech argument, demanding the platform reinstate them, remove labels that identify these accounts as linked to Beijing or Moscow, and allow them to post more freely, including on hot-button topics like the war in Ukraine. “They are doing this to jump on the bandwagon now that the right-wing community are putting pressure on Musk,” said Felix Kartte, a senior adviser at Reset, a technology accountability lobbying group. “They are pushing it because everyone else is pushing Musk, too.”

Al Jazeera: Countries To Face ‘Grey List’ In Anti-Terror Crackdown On Crypto

“Countries that fail to implement anti-money laundering guidelines for cryptocurrencies could be added to a “grey list” that includes Syria and Haiti under a global watchdog’s plans to tighten scrutiny of virtual assets. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is preparing to conduct annual checks to ensure countries are enforcing anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules on crypto providers operating in their jurisdiction, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Al Jazeera. The use of yearly reviews — instead of mutual evaluations that run on 10-year cycles — will give non-compliant countries less time to enact standards set by the intergovernmental organisation, raising the risk they are added to a “grey list” of countries subject to increased monitoring, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. One of the sources said that while failure to comply with the rule would not automatically result in a greylisting, it would affect a country’s overall rating, potentially moving some jurisdictions much closer to the threshold of being listed. The plans for annual checks have sparked fears within the crypto industry that governments may enact blanket bans on crypto service providers or pressure banks to cease servicing platforms to avoid an FATF listing. In response, crypto industry leaders are preparing to unveil a set of proposals at the G20 leaders’ summit in Bali this month aimed at minimising the potential fallout for cryptocurrency users and exchanges.”

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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