Eye on Extremism: November 9, 2023

The New York Times: U.S. Strikes Iran-Linked Facility In Syria In Round Of Retaliation

“For the second time in nearly two weeks, the United States carried out airstrikes against a facility used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and its proxies in eastern Syria early Thursday, ratcheting up retaliation for a steady stream of rocket and drone attacks against American forces in Iraq and Syria. The strikes by two Air Force F-15E jets against a weapons warehouse in Deir al Zour Province, Syria, came after U.S. airstrikes on Oct. 27 against similar targets in eastern Syria failed to deter Iran or its proxies in Syria and Iraq, which the Biden administration has blamed for the attacks. Not only have the attacks continued — there have been at least 22 more since the American retaliatory strikes last month — but Pentagon officials said they have become more dangerous. Iran-backed militias have packed even larger loads of explosives — more than 80 pounds — onto drones launched at American bases, U.S. officials said. “This precision self-defense strike is a response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by I.R.G.C.-Quds Force affiliates,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said in a statement. “The president has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today’s action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests.””

Reuters: Israeli, Hamas Fighters In Close Combat In Gaza City As Civilians Flee

“Israeli forces and Hamas militants appeared to be battling at close range in Gaza City as thousands of civilians fled south on Wednesday to avoid being trapped in the heart of the conflict. The Israeli military said its troops had advanced into the heart of Gaza City, Hamas' main bastion and the biggest city in the seaside enclave, while the Islamist group said its fighters had inflicted heavy losses. Hamas' armed wing on Wednesday released a video that appeared to show intense street battles alongside bombed out buildings in Gaza City. Israeli tanks have met heavy resistance from Hamas fighters using underground tunnels to stage ambushes, according to sources with Iran-backed Hamas and the separate Islamic Jihad militant group. Israel struck Gaza in response to a cross-border Hamas raid on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which gunmen killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and took about 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Palestinian officials said 10,569 people had been killed as of Wednesday, 40% of them children. Israel says 33 of its soldiers have been killed. One clip from the Hamas video released on Wednesday showed fighters running past piles of debris and stopping to fire shoulder-propelled missiles at Israeli tanks. Another showed them shooting rifles from perches behind buildings and dumpsters. Reuters was not able to authenticate the footage.”

CEP Mentions

NewsNation: Where’s The Outrage?? Hamas Leaders Live In Luxury As Civilians Suffer

Interview with CEP Senior Director Dr. Hans-Jakob Schindler.

Greek City Times: Europol: Increased Threat Of Jihadist Terrorist Attacks, We’re In Constant Contact With Greece

“…Pro-IS groups have also been active in this time, praising the savage Hamas attacks and calling for action on European soil. On October 22, the pro-IS Tala’a al-Ansar Foundation released a video celebrating the Brussels shooting and urged its supporters to launch copycat attacks, according to the Counter Extremism Project.”

United States

Reuters: US Forces Under Fire In Middle East As America Slides Towards Brink

“A defective drone in Iraq may have helped keep America from being dragged deeper into a widening Middle East conflict. The drone, which was launched at the Erbil air base by an Iranian-backed militia before sunrise on Oct. 26, penetrated U.S. air defenses and crashed into the second floor of the barracks housing American troops at about 5 a.m, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. But the device laden with explosives failed to detonate and in the end only one service member suffered a concussion from the impact, said the officials, who asked to remain anonymous to speak freely about the attack. The U.S. had got lucky, they added, as the drone could have caused carnage had it exploded. The incident was among at least 40 separate drone and rocket attacks that have been launched at U.S. forces by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria over the past three weeks in response to American support for Israel in the Gaza war, according to Pentagon data and the two U.S. officials. The bombardment has only caused a few dozen minor injuries so far, with many of the rockets and one-way attack drones intercepted by U.S. air defenses in Iraq and Syria, where a total of 3,400 American troops are based. David Schenker, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think-tank, cautioned that while neither Iran and its allied groups nor the U.S. appeared to want a direct confrontation, the risks were growing. The possibility of a major strike that draws America into a conflict is "a very realistic concern," he said.”

Voice Of America: US Official To VOA: Houthis Shot Down US Drone Over Red Sea

“Houthi rebels have shot down a U.S. drone that was flying over the Red Sea, a U.S. official told VOA. The Iranian-backed Houthis reported the downing in a statement earlier Wednesday. "Our air defenses were able to down an American MQ-9 while it was carrying out hostile surveillance and espionage activities in Yemeni territorial waters as part of American military support for Israel," the group said. Last month, the destroyer USS Carney shot down multiple missiles and drones that were launched from Yemen by the Houthis. The Pentagon says they were "heading along the Red Sea, potentially toward targets in Israel." The Middle East has been a tinderbox since Hamas launched an attack on Israel on Oct. 7, killing at least 1,400 people while taking more than 200 others hostage. Israel’s retaliatory strikes and ground offensive has caused more than 10,000 Palestinian deaths. The U.S. has increased its presence in the region to protect its forces and to deter malign actors including Iran and its proxies the Houthis, Hezbollah and others from expanding the Israel-Hamas conflict. Iranian-backed forces have targeted U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria at least 40 times in less than a month, according to defense officials. Most of these attacks were disrupted by the U.S. military or failed to reach their targets, causing no casualties or damage to infrastructure, the defense officials said.”


Associated Press: 21 Syrian Pro-Government Militiamen Killed In Overnight Ambush By Islamic State Group, Reports Say

“The Islamic State group ambushed pro-government militiamen in an overnight attack in eastern Syria, killing at least 21 fighters, pro-government media and an opposition war monitor said Wednesday. Sham FM radio reported that the militiamen from the pro-government National Defense Places were ambushed in the village of al-Kawm in the central Syrian desert, between the government-held city of Homs and south of the city of Raqqa, which is under control of U.S.-backed Kurdish-led forces. British-based opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also blamed IS for the attack but gave a higher death toll, saying there were 34 militiamen killed. Different casualty figures are common in the aftermath of such attacks. Syrian officials did not immediately comment on the attack, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility from IS. The attack comes as violence is rising elsewhere in Syria. The opposition-held enclave in the country’s northwest has witnessed intense shelling and airstrikes by the Syrian army and Russian allies over the past month, and an Iran-backed Iraqi militant group regularly launches attacks on U.S. bases in eastern and southern Syria.”


Reuters: Keeping Lights Off: Undocumented Afghans Go Underground In Pakistan

“After living in Pakistan for years, thousands of Afghans have gone into hiding to escape a government order to expel undocumented foreigners because they fear persecution under a Taliban administration in their homeland, rights activists say. "The gate is locked from the outside... we are locked inside, we can't come out, we can't turn on our lights, we can't even talk loudly," said a 23-year-old Afghan woman, speaking online from a shelter where she said dozens of others had holed up until earlier this week before moving on to a new hideout. Local supporters put a lock on the gate so neighbours believe the house is unoccupied, said other inmates. The woman, who is from the Afghan capital Kabul, said she fears prosecution if she returns to Afghanistan because she converted from Islam to Christianity in 2019 and renunciation of the Islamic faith is a serious offence under the strict Islamic law practised by the Taliban. She is one of thousands believed by rights activists to be in hiding in Pakistan to avoid deportation under a government push for undocumented migrants to leave the country. That includes over one million Afghans, many of whom the Pakistan government says have been involved in militant attacks and crime. Authorities began rounding up operations across the country after a deadline for voluntary exits expired on Nov. 1.”

Reuters: Pakistan PM Says Expulsion Of Afghans A Response To Taliban Non-Cooperation

“Pakistan said on Wednesday that its move to expel hundreds of thousands of undocumented Afghans was a response to the unwillingness of the Taliban-led administration to act against militants using Afghanistan to carry out attacks in Pakistan. Last month, Pakistan set a Nov. 1 start date for the expulsion of all undocumented immigrants, including hundreds of thousands of Afghans. It cited security reasons, brushing off calls to reconsider from the United Nations, rights groups and Western embassies. "After non-cooperation by the Afghan interim government, Pakistan has decided to take matters into its own hands - and Pakistan's recent actions are neither unexpected or surprising," caretaker Prime Minister Anwar ul Haq Kakar told journalists. Tens of thousands of Afghans, many of whom have lived in Pakistan for decades, have had to leave the country, and authorities are rounding up many more in raids across the country. Kakar said 15 suicide bombings in recent months had been carried out by Afghans, and dozens of Afghans had been killed in clashes with Pakistani security forces. He said Pakistan had continuously conveyed concerns about militant safe havens in Afghanistan but, despite repeated assurances, the Taliban-led administration had not taken action.”


Reuters: Hezbollah's Anti-Ship Missiles Bolster Its Threat To US Navy

“Powerful Russian anti-ship missiles acquired by Hezbollah give it the means to deliver on its leader's veiled threat against U.S. warships and underline the grave risks of any regional war, sources familiar with the group's arsenal say. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned Washington last week his group had something in store for the U.S. vessels deployed to the region since war erupted last month between the Palestinian group Hamas and Israel, shaking the wider Middle East. Two sources in Lebanon familiar with the Iran-backed group's arsenal say he was referring to Hezbollah's greatly enhanced anti-ship missile capabilities, including the Russian-made Yakhont missile with a range of 300 km (186 miles). Reports by media and analysts have for years indicated that Hezbollah acquired Yakhont missiles in Syria after deploying there more than a decade ago to help President Bashar al-Assad fight a civil war. Hezbollah has never confirmed possessing the weapon. The Shi'ite group's media office did not immediately respond when reached for comment for this story. Washington says its Mediterranean naval deployment - comprising two aircraft carriers and their supporting ships - aims to prevent the conflict from spreading by deterring Iran, which backs groups including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.”

Middle East

The New York Times: Behind Hamas’s Bloody Gambit To Create A ‘Permanent’ State Of War

“Thousands have been killed in Gaza, with entire families wiped out. Israeli airstrikes have reduced Palestinian neighborhoods to expanses of rubble, while doctors treat screaming children in darkened hospitals with no anesthesia. Across the Middle East, fear has spread over the possible outbreak of a broader regional war. But in the bloody arithmetic of Hamas’s leaders, the carnage is not the regrettable outcome of a big miscalculation. Quite the opposite, they say: It is the necessary cost of a great accomplishment — the shattering of the status quo and the opening of a new, more volatile chapter in their fight against Israel. It was necessary to “change the entire equation and not just have a clash,” Khalil al-Hayya, a member of Hamas’s top leadership body, told The New York Times in Doha, Qatar. “We succeeded in putting the Palestinian issue back on the table, and now no one in the region is experiencing calm.” Since the shocking Hamas attack on Oct. 7, in which Israel says about 1,400 people were killed — most of them civilians — and more than 240 others dragged back to Gaza as captives, the group’s leaders have praised the operation, with some hoping it will set off a sustained conflict that ends any pretense of coexistence among Israel, Gaza and the countries around them.”

The New York Times: Israel And Hamas Nearly Struck A Deal To Free Up To 50 Hostages

“Days before Israel launched its ground invasion of Gaza, it was closing in on a deal for Hamas to release up to 50 hostages in exchange for pausing the bombardment unleashed in response to the militants’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, according to Arab and Western officials with knowledge of the talks. But once Israel’s ground assault on Gaza got underway on Oct. 27, the negotiations came to an abrupt halt, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations. The talks resumed days later and are still underway. Israel had delayed its ground attack to give some time for the hostage negotiations to be completed, according to two of the officials. But as the talks stalled, it decided to go forward, reckoning that Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that rules Gaza, would bow to military pressure. “There will be no pause without the return of hostages and missing persons,” Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said in a written statement to The New York Times this week. “The only way of saving the hostages is if Israel continues its ground operation.” On Oct. 7, Palestinian attackers penetrated towns and military bases in southern Israel and killed roughly 1,400 people. They also took about 240 captives back to Gaza, including civilians and Israeli soldiers.”


Wall Street Journal: Egypt Opposes Helping Manage Security In Gaza After Hamas

“Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi met with Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns and rejected a proposal for the North African country to manage security in the Gaza Strip until the Palestinian Authority can take over after Hamas’s defeat, according to senior Egyptian officials. Sisi and the head of Egyptian intelligence, Abbas Kamel, discussed the proposal with Burns, who visited Cairo as part of a Middle East tour to discuss the situation in Gaza. The Egyptian president said his government wouldn’t play a role in eliminating Hamas as it needs the militant group to help maintain security at the country’s border with the Gaza Strip, the officials said.”


Associated Press: Groups Linked To Al-Qaida And The Islamic State Take Root On The Coast Of West Africa

“The insurgents pressured Zackari to join their movement, and he turned them down. Now he’s frightened of their revenge. He has been on the run from the jihadi fighters for more than a year. They regularly call the 33-year-old, warning: “We haven’t forgotten about you.” Groups linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have been spreading for years from the vast arid expanse south of the Sahara Desert — the Sahel — into wealthier West African coastal states 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 militancy is taking root. Benin has been the hardest hit. This year it had more than ten times the number of violent incidents involving jihadis than Togo did, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Attacks by jihadis against civilians in Benin nearly tripled from last year, from more than 30 to approximately 80. The overall number of incidents involving jihadi groups rose by more than 70%. “There’s full expansion, regular preaching. They’re establishing cells, they have a lot of presence,” said Kars de Bruijne, senior research fellow and head of the Sahel program at the Clingendael Institute. The jihadis’ activity in Benin is concentrated in the north of the country, where they try to recruit people or get them to be informants, creating division within local populations. Residents of one small town tucked behind lush hills and windy unpaved roads told The Associated Press last month that civilians can no longer move freely.”


Associated Press: Police In Brazil Foil An Alleged Attack Israel Claims Was Planned By Hezbollah

“Authorities in Brazil arrested two people on Wednesday to foil an alleged attack, which the Israeli Prime Minister’s office said was planned by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter, that the thwarted attack was the result of collaboration with Israeli intelligence agency Mossad and other international security agencies. “The Mossad thanks the Brazilian security services for the arrest of a terrorist cell that was operated by Hezbollah in order to carry out an attack on Israeli and Jewish targets in Brazil,” the statement said. It said the attack was “planned by the Hezbollah terrorist organization, directed and financed by Iran.” A Brazilian official with information about the plot confirmed to The Associated Press that the two suspects were recruited and financed by Hezbollah. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. A statement from Brazil’s Federal Police did not give details about the suspects or the alleged targets. It said police also executed 11 search warrants in the states of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais and the Federal District that were aimed at obtaining proof of the possible recruitment of Brazilians to carry out extremist acts in the country, adding that it was targeting both recruits and recruiters.”


Associated Press: India, Pakistan Border Guards Trade Fire Along Their Frontier In Kashmir; One Indian Soldier Killed

“Indian and Pakistani soldiers exchanged gunfire and shelling along their highly militarized frontier in disputed Kashmir, killing an Indian border guard, officials said Thursday. Authorities in the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir said Pakistani soldiers fired mortars and machine guns at border posts in the southern Jammu area on Wednesday night, calling it “unprovoked.” India’s Border Security Force said in a statement that its soldiers “befittingly responded” and that one of its border guards was killed. The fighting ended early Thursday. There was no immediate comment from Pakistan. Each side often accuses the other of starting border skirmishes in the Himalayan region, which both claim in its entirety. Last month, two Indian border guards and three civilians were injured in fighting along the fronter with Pakistan. India and Pakistan have a long history of bitter relations over Kashmir. They have fought two of their three wars since 1947 over their competing claims to the region. In the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir, militants have fought against Indian rule since 1989. In 2003, the two nations agreed on a cease-fire that has largely held despite regular skirmishes. The nuclear-armed countries’ contended frontier includes a 740-kilometer (460-mile) rugged and mountainous stretch called the Line of Control that is guarded by their armies.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.

View Archive