Eye on Extremism: October 1, 2021

Fox News: Senior Al Qaeda Leader Killed In Drone Strike In Syria, US Defense Officials Say

“A senior al Qaeda leader has been killed in a drone strike in Syria, U.S. defense officials confirmed to Fox News Thursday. Salim Abu-Ahmad was killed in a U.S. airstrike near Idlib, Syria on Sept. 20. He was responsible for planning, funding, and approving trans-regional al Qaeda attacks. “There are no indications of civilian casualties,” U.S. defense officials said. The Associated Press reported Sept. 20 that a drone strike hit a vehicle traveling on a rural road in rebel-controlled northwestern Syria, killing at least one person. The Civil Defense team, known as White Helmets, said the unidentified body was lifted from the car along the Idlib-Binnish road east of Idlib province. U.S. Central Command said American forces had conducted a “kinetic counterterrorism strike” near Idlib province targeting a senior leader of the militant group al Qaeda. “Initial indications are that we struck the individual we were aiming for, and there are no indications of civilian casualties as a result of the strike,” said Navy Lt. Josie Lynne Lenny in a statement. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the vehicle had been carrying a militant linked to al Qaeda. The U.S. has carried out attacks in Idlib before, targeting al Qaeda militants and the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was hiding in the province after fleeing from eastern Syria.”

Voice Of America: Weak Borders, Transitional Government Make Sudan Terrorist Target, Analysts Say

“The fragile nature of the security situation in Sudan was exposed by a deadly gunfight in Gabra earlier this week. Authorities arrested 11 alleged terrorists following the battle in which five Sudan General Intelligence Service members were killed. Analysts blamed the violence on the presence of foreign insurgents in the country and the transitional nature of the military-civilian government that has governed Sudan since 2019, when President Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the military after months of protests. Khalifa Sidiq, a professor at the International University of Africa in Khartoum and an expert on Islamist groups, told VOA that Sudan’s proximity to other troubled states contributes to the problem. “The Gabra incident,” Sidiq said, “is not removed from that context. During this transitional period, Sudan is experiencing a security crisis with open borders to hot spots in the region.” As examples, Sidiq pointed to Libya and to Somalia, where the jihadi group al-Shabab operates. “Sudan’s borders with Chad and the Central African Republic are also porous,” he said. Sudan’s history of terrorism goes back to the 1970s and was amplified during the 1990s, when it harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and was found to have assisted al-Qaida in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.”

United States

The Washington Post: Twenty Years After 9/11 Attacks, Congress Now Looks At The Future Of DHS And TSA

“Twenty years after 9/11, lawmakers in Washington this week sought to assess the performance of two key federal agencies that were formed to bolster national security in the wake of the attacks. At separate hearings before the House Homeland Security Committee and its Oversight Management and Accountability Subcommittee, lawmakers examined the critical role the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration have played in the years following attacks at the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Their conclusion: While safer, the United States faces evolving sets of domestic and international threats that will continue to test the capabilities of both agencies. “The threats we face today have grown beyond foreign terrorists to include cyber attacks, climate change and domestic violence extremism,” said the subcommittee chairman Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) at the hearing. From its early days as the umbrella agency for 22 federal entities, DHS has evolved into the third-largest federal agency and has “matured to become more cohesive, and therefore more effective,” Correa added. Yet it struggles to recruit and retain employees, particularly among front line employees at TSA and Customs and Border Protection. Pay is an issue, but so is workplace culture, officials said, leaving a number of lawmakers concerned about the ability of DHS to carry out its mission.”

Media Matters: Amazon Is Selling Books That Promote Violence From A Neo-Nazi Publisher, Helping To Finance A Convicted Terrorist

“…The publisher of the books, the American Futurist, describes itself as seeking “to spread the message and ideas of James Mason” through “the promotion of books, articles and all other forms of media.” Mason, a neo-Nazi writer whose work is cited in The Movementarian Menace, is also a major influence behind Atomwaffen Division, a violent white nationalist terrorist group. As noted by the Counter Extremism Project, the American Futurist is associated with Atomwaffen Division (also known as the National Socialist Order) and multiple ex-members of the group have contributed content to American Futurist. One such contributor is the author of The Movementarian Menace, Vincent Snyder, whose real name, the American Futurist notes, is John Cameron Denton. Denton, himself the former leader of Atomwaffen Division, was sentenced to 41 months in prison in May for taking part in a conspiracy that involved hate crimes targeting a historic African American church, an Islamic Center, and various other minority groups across the United States. American Futurist states that all proceeds from the sale of Denton’s book on Amazon will go to his “prison commissary fund.” As Amazon has already purchased the books as part of its inventory, the company has already contributed directly to Denton.”

Afghanistan

Bloomberg: In Afghanistan’s Darkest Hour, The Taliban Must Know We Are Watching

“We’re just six weeks into the Taliban’s second shift as Afghanistan’s rulers, and the picture could not be bleaker. Bodies hang in public squares and women are banned from their jobs. High schools are closed to girls, the women’s ministry has been replaced by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, while former government officials, public servants, civil society activists, journalists and minorities are being targeted in a ruthless house-to-house crackdown. Afghans rightly feel deserted by the international community, and betrayed by the U.S.’s chaotic and deadly exit from their country. But while the news cycle has moved on, those working to protect the gains made over the past 20 years and investigate the human rights abuses committed by all parties — the US-led coalition forces and the Afghan Government troops included — have kept going, both inside and outside the country.  Calls by human rights campaigners for an independent fact-finding mission to investigate those abuses were growing louder even before the Taliban arrived in Kabul. Spurred by a spike in targeted killings — which worsened after the U.S.-Taliban deal was signed in Doha in February 2020 — the push has taken on fresh urgency as the security situation deteriorates across the country.”

AFP: US Plans To Keep Al-Qaeda In Check In Afghanistan With Air Strikes

“The Pentagon plans to rely on air strikes to prevent a resurgence of Al-Qaeda now that US troops have left Afghanistan, but experts and some lawmakers are skeptical about the effectiveness of the so-called “over-the-horizon” strategy. Announcing the complete withdrawal of US troops in April, President Joe Biden vowed he would not allow a comeback of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden hatched the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Since then, the Pentagon has repeatedly claimed it is capable of keeping Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) militants in Afghanistan in check through “over-the-horizon” strikes from US bases or aircraft carriers. “Over-the-horizon operations are difficult but absolutely possible,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. “And intelligence that supports them comes from a variety of sources, and not just US boots on the ground.” Austin's remarks came about two weeks after the Pentagon chief was forced to apologize to the relatives of civilians killed in an August 29 drone strike in Kabul. The target of the drone strike was suspected IS militants but it ended up killing 10 civilians, including seven children, in what Austin called a “horrible mistake.”

Lebanon

Reuters: Israel Investigating After Lebanon's Hezbollah Says It Shot Down Israeli Drone

“Israel said it was investing an incident on Thursday after Lebanon's Hezbollah group said it had shot down an Israeli drone in the south of Lebanon. A statement by the armed group said it had brought down the drone on the outskirts of the village of Yater by targeting it with “suitable weapons”. “A short time ago, during routine activity, an IDF drone fell within Lebanese territory. The incident is being investigated,” IDF spokesman on Twitter.”

Gulf News: Hezbollah Financial Network On US, Qatar Terror List

“Qatar and the United States have taken coordinated action against a major Hezbollah financial network based in the Gulf, local media reported. Ali Reda Hassan Al Banai, Ali Reda Al Qassabi Lari, and Abd Al Muayyid Al Banai, were designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Hezbollah. Abd Al Rahman Abd Al Nabi Shams, Yahya Mohammad Al Abd Al Mohsin, Majdi Fa’iz Al Ustadz, and Sulaiman Al Banai were designated as SDGTs, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, Ali Al Banai. Additionally, Qatar-based Al Dar Properties was proscribed for being owned, controlled, or directed by, directly or indirectly, Sulaiman Al Banai. Anthony J. Blinken, US Secretary of State said in a statement on Wednesday, “This represents one of the most significant joint actions we have taken with a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) partner to date and underscores our extensive bilateral cooperation on countering terrorism finance.” The United States designated Hezbollah as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in 1997 and as an SDGT in 2001, and the GCC designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in 2016.”

Nigeria

Reuters: Nigerian Military Says Air Strike Hit Islamic State, Playing Down Alleged Civilian Deaths

“The Nigerian military said on Thursday a deadly air strike hit an Islamic State camp and that casualties could not be determined, after witnesses said the attack had killed dozens of civilians in the northeast, where the country is waging a 12-year war against jihadist insurgents. Two Nigerian Air Force planes bombed and killed dozens of civilians, mostly fishermen, at a fish market in Daban Masara village, a victim and a resident told Reuters on Tuesday. “Necessary steps were taken to ensure that the presence of the terrorists was ascertained and the strike was precise and professionally executed,” the Nigerian military said in a statement. The military said the site of the air strike was a well-known enclave of Islamic State's West Africa branch, adding that fishing is banned in the area. The military has for years banned fishing because of its alleged ties to funding the insurgency. “Although casualty figures could not be ascertained, the strike was verified to be successful in disrupting (Islamic State) logistics movement and foot soldiers,” the statement said. The air strike comes two months after the U.S. government transferred six A-29 Super Tucano fighter planes to Nigeria to assist in its war against Islamist militants.”

Daily Post Nigeria: Boko Haram: Nigerian Troops Kill 85 Terrorists As 2,783 Surrender – DHQ

“The Defence Headquarters on Thursday said, troops of the Joint Task Force (North East), Operation Hadin Kai eliminated 85 Boko Haram/Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP), terrorists in one month. Brig-Gen. Bernard Onyeuko, the Acting Director, Defence Media Operation, stated this in Abuja while providing an update on the military operations across Nigeria between September 2 and 30. Onyeuko also reported that a total of 2,783 terrorists and their family members surrendered to the troops as a result of the intensity of fire from artillery and air bombardment during the period as part of ongoing mass surrender by the Boko Haram members in Borno State. He said, “This feat was achieved at Daban Masara, north of Lake Chad in Kukawa LGA of Borno State, from where the criminal elements launch attacks on our own troops’ locations and innocent civilians in the area. “Cumulatively, a total of 85 BHT/ISWAP terrorists were neutralized and 43 terrorists, including their collaborators and logistics suppliers, were arrested in the course of the various operations.”

Africa

PBS: Mozambicans Fleeing Islamic Insurgents Feel Failed By Government, Forced Into Drug Trade

“The Southeast African nation of Mozambique is being terrorized by “Al Shabaab,” an ISIS-affiliated insurgency that has killed 3,000 people and displaced many more. With the support of the Pulitzer Center, special correspondent Neha Wadekar and filmmaker Ed Ram report from Mozambique on the drivers of this conflict. Judy Woodruff: The Southeast African nation of Mozambique is being terrorized by Al-Shabaab, an ISIS-affiliated insurgency that has killed 3,000 people and displaced many more. We first reported from there earlier this year. And, with the support of the Pulitzer Center, special correspondent Neha Wadekar and filmmaker Ed Ram recently returned to Mozambique to report on the drivers of the conflict. Neha Wadekar: Islamic insurgents have been pushing for control in Cabo Delgado, Northern Mozambique, since 2017. In their own videos, they pledge allegiance to the so-called Islamic State and show off their weapons. They build their territory by terrorizing towns and villages. The conflict has displaced more than 800,000 people. Families flee beheadings and horrific violence, and human rights workers struggle to keep up with the flow of people and reach those trapped in the middle of the conflict zone.”

All Africa: Sudan: Five Sudanese Security Officers Killed In Anti-Terrorist Raid

“Five Sudanese security officers were killed Tuesday in a raid against a suspected ISIS terrorist cell in the national capital Khartoum. The General Intelligence Service (GIS), in a terse statement, revealed eleven members of the suspected terrorist units were apprehended while four others were at large. The GIS identified the suspects as non-Sudanese but stopped short of identifying their nationalities. It said they hired houses in a Khartoum suburb. The authorities added the security units that raided the hide-out came under fire and that five officers, including three non-commissioned officers, were killed in the shootout. Another security element was shot and wounded. The Chairman of the Transitional Sovereign Council General Abdel Fattah Burhan and the Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok issued statements commending the way the security dealt with the suspects and the heroism with which they confronted them. Both official commended the role of GIS in safeguarding the country against imminent threats.”

United Kingdom

The Independent: British ISIS Suspect Had Nearly €50,000 In Bitcoin When Arrested

“A British rapper described by police as one of Europe’s most wanted Isis foreign terrorist fighters was arrested when he was living in a flat with a terrace, a sauna and nearly €50,000 in bitcoin, according to newly released court papers. Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, 31, who performed as Lyricist Jinn, travelled to the Middle East in 2013 then returned to Europe where police suspect he was about to lead an attack. Spanish police posted a video of the arrest operation in April last year, branding Mr Abdel Bary “one of Europe’s most wanted Daesh foreign terrorist fighters”. He was detained alongside two other men in Almeria, southern Spain. The Spanish judge initially declared no details of the police operation could be released as is often the case in Spain, but this week lifted this court order. Mr Abdel Bary denied any involvement with Isis and said he had arrived in Spain from Italy in March 2020 in search of work. Police found Mr Abdel Bary living in an Airbnb flat with a sauna, his own laptop, a series of mobile phones and nearly €50,000 worth of bitcoins, according to court papers seen by El Pais newspaper. The three men rented the flat with a “terrace, views and a sauna (which) Abdel Bary had definitely used because he left his clothes inside”, the documents said.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On October 16, 2020, while shouting “Allahu Akbar,” 18-year-old Abdoulakh Anzorov decapitated history teacher Samuel Paty in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine. Paty had recently received death threats after showing caricatures of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in class as part of a lesson on freedom of speech.  

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