Eye on Extremism: November 9

Reuters: Pakistan Agrees One-Month 'Complete Ceasefire' With Local Taliban Militants

“Pakistan and local Taliban militants have agreed a one-month ceasefire which may be extended if both sides agree, spokesmen said on Monday, opening the possibility of a fuller peace accord to help end years of bloodshed. The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are a separate movement from the Afghan Taliban and have fought for years to overthrow the government in Islamabad and rule the South Asian nation of 220 million with their own brand of Islamic Sharia law. There have been numerous failed attempts to reach peace agreements in the past. The latest talks were opened following the victory of the Afghan Taliban in August and the two sides have been meeting across the border in Afghanistan, with the aid of Afghan Taliban leaders. "The government of Pakistan and banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have agreed on a complete ceasefire," Pakistan's Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a statement, adding that the ceasefire would be extended as the talks progressed. Best known in the West for attempting to kill Malala Yousafzai, the schoolgirl who went on to win the Nobel Prize for her work promoting girls' education, the TTP has killed thousands of military personnel and civilians over the years in bombings and suicide attacks.”

Bloomberg: Taliban Look To Purge Military Of Islamic State Infiltrators

“The Taliban are carrying out background checks within their ranks as they look to identify and capture infiltrators from rival Islamic State, which has carried out several deadly attacks across Afghanistan since the militant group took power in August. “Anyone who’s seen as harmful to the government or people of Afghanistan and misusing the authority of the government will be removed from our ranks and eliminated,” Ahmadullah Wasiq, a spokesman of Taliban, said over the phone. “We have also seen reports of unknown armed men entering private homes or punishing people in the name of Taliban.” A local offshoot of the Islamic State continues to be one of the biggest threats to the Taliban, carrying out at least five major attacks since the chaotic U.S. evacuation. The latest violence took place on Nov 2., when gunmen stormed a military hospital in the capital, killing about 20 people including a senior Taliban commander. No claimed responsibility for the attack but the Taliban has blamed the rival group. Targeted killings of former government officials, including police and prosecutors, have also been reported. Four civil society activists and four members of the earlier Afghan police force were recently found dead in northern Mazar-e-Sharif city. Locals blamed the Taliban for their deaths.”

United States

Associated Press: Woman Recalls Total ‘Terror’ Of Charlottesville Car Attack

“A woman who was pushed out of the way as a car slammed into counterprotesters at a 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville described a scene of “complete terror” as she testified Monday to seeing her fiance bleeding on the sidewalk and later learning a friend was killed. Marissa Blair took the stand in the third week of a civil trial in a lawsuit that seeks to hold the white national organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally accountable for the violence that erupted. Nine people who were physically injured or emotionally scarred, including Blair, are suing the organizers of the rally, alleging they conspired to commit violence during two days of demonstrations in Charlottesville. “I was confused. I was scared. I was worried about all the people that were there. It was a complete terror scene. It was blood everywhere. I was terrified,” said Blair, breaking down in tears several times during her testimony. The driver of the car, James Alex Fields Jr., a self-proclaimed admirer of Adolf Hitler from Maumee, Ohio, is serving life in prison for murder and hate crimes. One woman was killed and dozens were injured in the car attack.”

National Post: Terrorism Charges Laid Against 45 People Accused Of Trying To Infect Others With COVID-19

“Nearly four dozen people in New Jersey have been hit with terrorism charges as part of the state’s campaign to criminalize threats of COVID-19 transmission. If convicted, the 45 people could each face up to 10 years of prison time and a $150,000 fine, in what defence attorneys of the accused have called a “miscarriage of justice” targeting the poorest and most vulnerable residents of the state. Denise Lewis, 28, told the Guardian she had been arrested while walking on the streets in April 2020, with warrants related to failure to pay traffic tickets and an incident in which she had “escaped” from a police vehicle. She had been a witness to a fight but left the back of the patrol car, her attorney Logan Terry told the Guardian. After being taken into custody, police say Lewis coughed “in close proximity” to the arresting officers and stated she had COVID-19, even though no dashboard, body or in-station videos have shown the encounter. Lewis had no criminal history prior to this exchange, but now she faces a terrorism charge after the officer’s allegation. “This is a poor person,” Terry said. “If this was a rich white lady this would not be happening. This is a poor black lady and they’re going to stick it to her, and I think it’s wrong.”

Syria

Kurdistan 24: Kurdish-Led Forces Foil Jailbreak Attempt At ISIS Prison In Syria's Hasakah

“The General Command of the Internal Security Forces (Asayish) in northeast Syria announced on Monday the arrest of a suspected ISIS cell that was planning to launch an attack on a terrorist detention facility in the Syrian city of Hasakah. Special teams of the counter-terrorism forces (HAT) in the Hasakah province located the cell in the Deir al-Zor countryside with support from the US-led coalition, the Asayish said in a statement. The operation took place close to the Abu Khashab area, about 90 kilometers from Hasakah city. Clashes erupted between the HAT forces and ISIS militants, the Asayish added, noting that one suspect was killed, one was wounded, and four others were captured. The official account of the US Special Operations Joint Task Force–Levant (SOJTF LEVANT), which oversees activities in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt, tweeted that SDF members discovered vehicle-borne explosives and a weapons cache during an operation in Deir al-Zor. “They destroyed the VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) to prevent possible harm to locals in the area and recovered weapons cache and detained maligned actors to eliminate the threat.” The SOJTF LEVANT said that ISIS is trying to harm the region “by gathering resources and personnel.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Military Can’t Find Isis Safe House That Prompted Kabul Drone Strike

“The U.S. military has not located a suspected Islamic State safe house in Kabul, Afghanistan, that officials initially said led to an American drone strike on Aug. 29 that mistakenly killed 10 civilians, including seven children, according to two senior military officials. Two days before the drone strike, military officials said they had determined through electronic intercepts, aerial surveillance and informants that ISIS planners were using a compound about three miles northwest of the Kabul airport to facilitate future attacks involving rockets, suicide explosive vests and car bombs. But an inquiry into the drone strike by the Air Force’s inspector general, Lt. Gen. Sami D. Said, said that was wrong. “We have not found any particular safe house,” he said in a telephone interview after making his findings public last week. General Said would not discuss the underlying information that led military analysts to focus on the safe house — and even dispatch six Reaper drones to monitor it — other than to say, “It was not faulty intelligence; it was just not specific.” A second U.S. military official confirmed that the available intelligence on the location was not precise enough. Nearly everything senior defense officials asserted in the hours, then days and weeks, after the drone strike has turned out to be false.”

Reuters: U.S. Says Worried About Increase In Attacks By ISIS-K In Afghanistan

“The United States is worried about an uptick in attacks by Islamic State's affiliate in Afghanistan and remains deeply concerned about al Qaeda's ongoing presence there, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West said on Monday. West spoke to reporters by telephone from Brussels, where he briefed NATO allies on U.S. talks with the Taliban and held consultations on a "road map" toward recognition of the government that the Islamists formed after their takeover and the U.S. troop pullout in August. "The Taliban have voiced very clearly and openly their desire to normalize relations with the international community, to see a resumption in aid, to see a return of the international diplomatic community to Kabul and to see sanctions relief," he said. "The United States can deliver none of these things on our own." It was West's first on-the-record briefing to reporters since he assumed his post last month. West, who is due to travel on to Pakistan, India and Russia, said the United States is preparing for the next round of talks with the Taliban in Doha, but he did not give a date. With winter approaching, deeply impoverished Afghanistan has emerged from all-out war into a humanitarian crisis.”

India

Al Jazeera: India: Terror Cases Over Social Media Posts On Tripura Violence

“For several times since Saturday, the dreadful thought of having to spend time in jail has crossed the mind of a 20-year-old Indian journalist working for a small and emerging news outlet. The social media account of the journalist, who did not want to be named, is among 102 Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts being investigated by the police in the northeastern state of Tripura under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or UAPA. The social media accounts are accused of sharing “fake news” following attacks on several mosques in Tripura last month by alleged members of Hindu right-wing groups. The rare incidents in the remote state bordering Bangladesh were an apparent retaliation to the religious violence in that country after a photo of the Quran placed on an idol of a Hindu deity during the Durga Puja festival triggered riots in which at least two Hindus were killed. Days after the Bangladesh violence, members of the far-right Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council or VHP) and other Hindu groups took out protest rallies in Tripura and allegedly attacked Muslims and their religious places, including mosques. The VHP is affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which also runs the state government in Tripura.”

Lebanon

Al Monitor: Israel Drills For Possible War With Hezbollah

“Israel conducted a Home Front Command exercise Nov. 3 to test its readiness for all-out war with Hezbollah. Based on intelligence evaluations of Hezbollah capabilities, hundreds or thousands of rockets could be fired on Israel by Hezbollah over days or weeks. Most would be short range but some could reach anywhere in Israel. Simultaneously, rocket fire could begin from the Gaza Strip and perhaps even Syria, Hezbollah’s elite fighters could try to infiltrate Israeli communities and army outposts and riots could break out in the West Bank. The likelihood of an all-out war of this type is low but not zero. Lebanon is currently in one of the most severe crises in its history, significantly lowering the odds that the Hezbollah will initiate fighting. On the other hand, we know from experience that Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah could change his mind at any minute and start a war just to unite his ranks in Lebanon against an external enemy. There is also a chance that war between Israel and Hezbollah could break out not due to a conscious decision by one of the sides, but as a result of multiplying skirmishes that get out of hand and force escalation.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Breaking: Nigerian Soldiers In Gun Battle With Boko Haram Fighters Near Borno Military Base

“Troops of the Nigerian Army are currently in a gunfight with militants from 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 in Tamsukawu village, Kaga Local Government Area of Borno state. The town is about 7 kilometres from Ngamdu, where the Super Camp of the Armed Forces is located. The criminals, reportedly dressed in military uniforms, set up a checkpoint along Maiduguri-Damaturu highway around 10:30 am and stopped vehicles at a spot near Tamsukawu village. Special task force units were said to have been deployed in the area. “ISWAP terrorists led by Abou Aseyia are currently attacking Tamsukawu village, located about 7 kilometers from Ngamdu, a military super camp. Heavy battle currently ongiong,” a source said. “Air support and ground Troops from Super Camp, Ngamdu and Rapid Response Team have been promptly deployed to the scene and are currently engaging the terrorists,” the source said. ISWAP, which split from the mainstream Boko Haram in 2016, has become a dominant group, focusing on military targets and high-profile attacks, including against aid workers.”

Africa

Reuters: Ivory Coast Says It Will Invest In North To Counter Jihadism

“Ivory Coast is accelerating investment in schools, hospitals, and jobs in its northern region to provide alternatives to violent extremism, the prime minister said on Monday. Northern Ivory Coast is far from commercial centres and borders Mali and Burkina Faso, where Islamist groups are active and have increasingly crossed the border to wage attacks. Recruitment of local youth is a growing concern, Prime Minister Patrick Achi told journalists, adding that the state will beef up border security along with its Western partners. "There are investments underway in the north to build more schools, hospitals, and industry and to occupy our youth to keep them away from the call of terrorists," he said. "Ivory Coast and its partners will be able to face the terrorist threat by strengthening security in the north." Groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have expanded their reach in the Sahel region in recent years, recruiting youths who see few other opportunities where state institutions are weak. Achi said that more than $430 million has been invested in the creation of a dry port in Ferkessedougou, the main town near the northern border, as well as in an integrated agro-industrial centre. The project is part of a series of large investments that will follow in 2022 to boost local processing of cotton and cashews, he said.”

France

Politico: Man Tries To Stab Police In Cannes, Terrorist Motive ‘Being Considered’

“A man armed with a knife assaulted a police officer on Monday morning in Cannes, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said, with police sources telling AFP that a terrorist motive is being considered. The victim was sitting in a car with two colleagues in front of Cannes’ central police station, AFP reported. The officer was protected by his bulletproof vest and was not injured, Darmanin tweeted. The assailant was attempting to attack another officer when the third policeman shot the attacker, inflicting life-threatening injuries. According to AFP, police sources said the suspect claimed he was acting “in the name of the prophet.” Darmanin announced he was going to Cannes on Monday morning to meet with police forces there. “The circumstances of the attack are being investigated,” Cannes Mayor David Lisnard said on Twitter.”

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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