Eye on Extremism: October 11, 2021

Bloomberg: U.S. Delegation Meets Taliban For First Time Since Withdrawal

“A U.S. delegation held talks with senior Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, over the weekend to discuss wide-ranging issues including security, terrorism and human rights in the first official meeting since the chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan in August. The talks were the first formal engagement between the State Department and the Taliban since the U.S. evacuated its diplomats and troops from Kabul. It also comes after the U.K. diplomats met with Taliban officials in Afghanistan last week. The Biden administration has wrestled with how to deal with the Taliban, which control Afghanistan’s government but are officially labeled a terrorist organization and haven’t been given access to the country’s central bank reserves. This lack of access to reserves has led to a cash crunch in Afghan economy, which threatens to develop into a humanitarian crisis. The “candid and professional” discussions covered the need for safe passage of U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals and Afghan partners, State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement Sunday. The U.S. also called for “the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society.” “The two sides also discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people,” Price said, adding that “the Taliban will be judged on its actions, not only its words.”

Reuters: Gunmen Kill At Least 20 In Attack In Northwest Nigeria

“At least 20 people were killed in Nigeria's Sokoto state when gunmen attacked a market and torched cars, as armed gangs continue to wreak havoc in the northwest part of the country, a state official and local member of parliament said on Saturday. Northwestern Nigeria has since last December witnessed a wave of kidnappings of school children and villagers for ransoms by bandits, disrupting everyday life for millions of citizens. Idriss Gobir, special advisor to the Sokoto police affairs minister, said the armed bandits rode on motorcycles and shot sporadically, killing several people. “The bandits in large numbers killed at least 20 people that we have seen and counted and set nine vehicles on fire,” he told Reuters by telephone. Hussain Boza, a local member of parliament in Sokoto, blamed the attack on a lack of adequate security in the state. A Sokoto police spokesperson confirmed the attack but could not immediately say how many people had been killed. Parts of Sokoto, like other neighbouring states in the northwestern part of the country, are under a telecommunications blockade as part of a security operation to disrupt the operations of the armed gangs. On Thursday, security agents rescued 187 people who had been abducted by armed gangs in Zamfara state.”

United States

Associated Press: NYC Man Convicted Of Trying To Join Taliban To Fight The US

“A New York City man has been convicted on charges alleging that he tried to help the Taliban fight American forces. Delowar Mohammed Hossain, 36, was convicted late Friday in Manhattan federal court on charges that he tried to provide material support for terrorism and tried to contribute funds, goods and services to the Taliban. Authorities apprehended Hossain in 2019 at Kennedy Airport, interrupting his plan to travel to Afghanistan. Hossain was freed to home detention in July 2020. After the jury verdict in the one-week trial, sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 12 by U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein. Prior to the trial, the judge granted a request by the government to take steps to protect the identities of witnesses, including a New York City police officer who corresponded with Hossain in an undercover capacity prior to his arrest. According to court papers, Hossain in 2018 started expressing interest in joining the Taliban and sought to recruit someone to do the same, but the person turned out to be a government informant. The court papers said he told the informant: “I want to kill some kufars (non-believers) before I die.” Prosecutors said his preparations included buying equipment like walkie-talkies and trekking gear.”

The Jerusalem Post: White Supremacists Await Sentencing For Planning Domestic Terrorism

“Federal prosecutors in Maryland have recommended that white supremacists Brian Mark Lemley Jr. and Patrik Jordan Mathews be sentenced to 25 years in prison each for their plans to carry out domestic terrorism at a gun rights rally in Virginia and pleading guilty to firearms and immigration-related charges. Both members of the “Base”, Lemley and Mathews discussed plans to kill people including police officers and Blacks and break a murderer out of prison as well as plans of domestic terrorism. The Base is a white supremacist group that recruits members through an online presence. Among their various postings on social media are calls for terror attacks and violent revolution against the state as well as encouraging people to seek out those who have committed “anti-White hate crimes” and “balance the scales.” For Lemley, however, the Base is not the first white supremacist group that he has been affiliated with.  One of the pieces of evidence presented against him was an email he sent to the Northwest Front, a neo-Nazi “republic”, in 2017. In it, Lemley was notifying the Front that his great grandmother was Jewish and requesting to dispute the “jewyness” in his bloodline. The Northwest Front eventually responded to him, after which he became a member, tweeting in support of the Front and its values.”

Syria

Associated Press: Syria Says 6 Troops Wounded In Airstrike In Homs Province

“Syrian air defenses responded on Friday night to an Israeli strike targeting a military airbase in the country’s central province of Homs, Syrian state media said. The airstrike wounded six soldiers, the report said. The report quoted an unnamed military official as saying the airstrike took place shortly after 9 p.m., and that it reached as far as the military’s T4 airbase in the desert. The official said the Syrian air defenses hit most of the incoming missiles. But he reported that six soldiers were wounded in the attack and that there was unspecified damage. There were no further details. Over the past years, Israel is believed to have been behind many strikes inside government-controlled parts of Syria. Israel has acknowledged it is going after bases of Iran-allied militias, such as the powerful Lebanese militant Hezbollah group fighting on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in the civil war, and suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for the Iran-backed Hezbollah. Syria’s pro-government media said the strikes landed in rural parts of Homs province. However, Israel rarely comments on individual attacks. Hezbollah has sent its members to fight alongside the Syrian government forces for much of the decade-old conflict.”

Iraq

Kurdistan 24: Iraqi Fighter Jets Hit ISIS Hideouts South Of Khanaqin

“The Iraqi military announced on Saturday that its F-16 fighter jets conducted an airstrike in remote areas south of Khanaqin, Diyala province, a day before the country holds its fifth parliamentary elections. The strike targeted an ISIS hideout in al-Thulab Valley, according to the Security Media Cell, Iraq's military communications center, which added that a number of ISIS suspects were killed, without going into further details. Despite the terrorist organization's territorial defeat in late 2017, ISIS cells continue to carry out insurgency-style attacks in Iraq, especially in rural parts of territories disputed by Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Region. Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga have recently formed a number of cooperation centers to try to bring stability to the areas. There are also plans to set up additional joint brigades across the disputed territories. In an exclusive interview with Kurdistan24, UK Consul-General to Erbil David Hunt said that “the quicker we can get the joint brigades between KRI and Iraq to tackle the threat [of ISIS], the better.”

Afghanistan

CBS News: ISIS-K Is Trying To Undermine Afghanistan's Taliban Regime, From Inside And Out. That's America's Problem, Too.

“In late September, Afghanistan's new Taliban leaders ordered their commanders to conduct a full background check on all fighters. The sudden move was prompted by concerns that other extremist groups have infiltrated the Taliban's ranks. Senior members of the former Afghan government and one top Taliban official currently in a security role say the leader of ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K), a notorious terror operative whose identity has remained shrouded in mystery for years, is believed to be among the infiltrators. The officials spoke to CBS News on the condition of anonymity. Some Taliban foot soldiers are believed to have abandoned the group to join ISIS-K or al Qaeda, preferring an even more extreme — and brutal — interpretation of Islam, but these sources say the ISIS faction is working deliberately to undermine the Taliban's authority from both inside and outside the group. That carries risks not only for Afghanistan, but for the United States and its allies. Since forming in 2015, ISIS-K has carried out some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan. The group didn't immediately claim the devastating bombing on Friday that hit a mosque in Kunduz, leaving scores of people dead.”

Associated Press: The Taliban Say They Won't Work With The U.S. To Contain The Islamic State

“The Taliban on Saturday ruled out cooperation with the United States to contain extremist groups in Afghanistan, staking out an uncompromising position on a key issue ahead of the first direct talks between the former foes since America withdrew from the country in August. Senior Taliban officials and U.S. representatives are meeting this weekend in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Officials from both sides have said issues include reining in extremist groups and the evacuation of foreign citizens and Afghans from the country. The Taliban have signaled flexibility on evacuations. However, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen told The Associated Press there would be no cooperation with Washington on containing the increasingly active Islamic State group in Afghanistan. IS has taken responsibility for a number of recent attacks, including a suicide bombing Friday that killed 46 minority Shiite Muslims and wounded dozens as they prayed in a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz. “We are able to tackle Daesh independently,” Shaheen said, when asked whether the Taliban would work with the U.S. to contain the Islamic State affiliate. He used an Arabic acronym for IS.”

Yemen

Reuters: Six Killed In Aden Car Bombing Targeting Officials, Minister Says

“A car bomb targeting the governor's convoy shook Yemen's southern port city of Aden on Sunday killing at least six people and wounding seven, the information minister said on Twitter. Governor Ahmed Lamlas and agriculture minister Salem al-Suqatri, both members of a southern separatist group, survived a “terrorist assassination attempt”, the state news agency said. Killed in the attack were the governor's press secretary and his photographer, the head of his security detail and a fourth companion as well as a civilian bystander, a local government source said. A body covered with a blanket lay on the street next to a charred vehicle in al-Tawahi district, which houses the headquarters of the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC). Firefighters and police were deployed to the area. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. STC spokesman Ali Al-Kathiri blamed Islamist militant groups. Information Minister Moammar Al-Eryani said the attack sought to destabilise government-held areas and stressed the need to fully implement a Saudi-brokered pact aimed at ending a power struggle in the south. The government and the STC are nominal allies under a coalition led by Saudi Arabia which has been battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement.”

Saudi Arabia

Reuters: Ten Injured In 2 Drone Attacks At Saudi's King Abdullah Airport - State Media

“Ten people were injured in two explosives-laden drone attacks at King Abdullah airport in the southern Saudi city of Jizan late on Friday and early on Saturday, the Saudi-led coalition said. The military coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015, backing forces of the ousted government of President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and fighting the Iran-aligned Houthi group. Six Saudis, three Bangladeshi nationals and one Sudanese were injured in the first attack, Saudi state media said, citing a coalition spokesman. Some of the airport's facade windows were shattered in the attack, the spokesman said. A second explosives-laden drone was intercepted early on Saturday, the coalition said, without giving details on any injuries or damages. There was no immediate claim of responsibility by the Houthis. The group regularly launches drone and missile attacks targeting the gulf kingdom.”

Lebanon

Associated Press: Hezbollah Member Wanted For Role In 1985 Hijacking Dies

“Ali Atwa, a senior Hezbollah operative who was on the FBI’s most wanted list for his role in one of the most notorious plane hijackings in aviation history, has died, the Lebanese militant group said Saturday. Atwa, who was believed to be in his early 60s, died of complications related to cancer, Hezbollah said. Atwa was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list in 2001 with two other alleged participants in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847. The ordeal, which began in Athens, Greece on June 14, lasted 16 days and left a U.S. Navy diver on the plane dead. The hijackers demanded the release of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons. The FBI had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Atwa’s arrest. He was accused of conspiring to take hostages, committing air piracy that led to the slaying of an American, and placing explosives aboard an aircraft. The flight, with 153 passengers and crew members, including 85 Americans, was commandeered by the hijackers after taking off from Athens bound for Rome. The plane was allowed to land in Beirut, where the hijackers freed 19 American women and children.”

Mali

Al Jazeera: Mali Accuses France Of Training ‘Terrorists’ In The Country

“Mali’s Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga has told the Russian media he has evidence that France has been training “terrorist” groups operating in the West African country. Maiga said French troops had created an enclave in Kidal, a town in the desert region of northern Mali, and handed it over to a “terrorist group” known as Ansar al-Din, allegedly linked to al-Qaeda. He said the Malian military was banned from entering the territory. “Mali has no access to Kidal, this is an enclave controlled by France,” Russia Today reported citing Maiga’s interview to state-owned RIA Novosti on Friday. “They have armed groups trained by French officers. We have evidence … We do not understand this situation and do not want to tolerate it.” The statement comes days after Mali summoned France’s ambassador to the country to register its “indignation” at French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent criticism of the country’s government, which is dominated by army figures. In June, France decided to scale back its Sahel deployment considerably following a military takeover in Mali in August 2020, which forced out the elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Colonel Assimi Goita, who led the August coup, installed a civilian-led interim government.”

Sky News: Colombian Nun Held Hostage By Al Qaeda-Linked Extremists In Mali Since 2017 Is Freed

“A Colombian nun who was kidnapped more than four years ago by extremists in Mali has been released. Gloria Narvaez was abducted in February 2017 near the country's border with Burkina Faso. “The presidency of Mali salutes the courage and bravery of this nun,” Mali's President said in a statement. Narvaez had been held by the al Qaeda-linked extremists in the Islamic Maghreb, which released several videos in which she asks for help from the Vatican. The conditions of her release have not been revealed and it is not known if a ransom was paid. Photos on the Malian presidency's Twitter page show Narvaez smiling as she met the country's interim president Assimi Goita. “I first thank God, who is the light and the peace, I thank the Malian authorities, the president for all the efforts made so that I am free,” Narvaez said in a brief statement delivered on state TV. “May God bless you, may God bless Mali. I thank you very much.” She added that while she was in captivity for nearly five years, she stayed in good health. “I thank the people of Karangasso very much for their prayers and all the efforts they made to obtain my release,” she said. “And I ask forgiveness from all the Malians, all the people who were not well perhaps (because of me).”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Man Accused Of Plotting Terror Attack On Fife Mosque

“A man has gone on trial accused of preparing acts of terror, including planning an attack on an Islamic Centre in Fife. Prosecutors allege Sam Imrie intended to target the Fife Islamic Centre in Glenrothes and live-stream footage of the attack on social media. He is also accused of possessing an arsenal of weapons as well as Neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material. The 24-year-old denies all of the nine charges he is facing. A total of three of the charges come under the Terrorism Act. The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Mr Imrie allegedly posted messages online saying he planned to attack an Islamic place of worship. He is said to have made the claim in messages which he posted on an internet platform called Telegram, as well as claiming he intended to “stream live footage” of an “incident”. Jurors heard that he also acquired knives, nunchucks, a hammer, a baseball bat, a rifle scope and a “quantity of petrol”, which prosecutors believe he intended to use to commit acts of terrorism. Mr Imrie is also said to have possessed copies of works called “The Great Replacement” by Brenton Tarrant and “2083 A European Declaration of Independence” by Anders Breivik. The court later heard that Tarrant was responsible for carrying out shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019 which resulted in the deaths of 51 people.”

Germany

Deutsche Welle: Germany Suspends Soldiers In Military Guard Over Far-Right Allegations

“Germany is investigating a far-right extremist organization within the military's honor guard battalion, the Defense Ministry said on Friday. The group reportedly refers to itself as the “wolf pack” (Wolfsrudel) and is also being scrutinized for its initiation rituals and sexual abuse. Adolf Hitler's secret bunker near Berlin, where he spent the latter days of the war and killed himself, was known as the wolf's lair (Wolfschanze). The 2nd Company within the prestigious battalion, best known for welcoming foreign heads of state and for high-profile military processions or honors, has been “withdrawn” from active service while the reports are investigated, Defense Ministry spokesman Arne Collatz told reporters in Berlin. The officers implicated have been relieved of their duties. The incidents came to light as a result of accounts by fellow battalion members, it was first reported online by Der Spiegel, shortly before the ministry commented and briefed the parliament on Friday. Collatz also acknowledged that these allegations were by no means the first of their kind within the German military ranks in recent years.  “It concerns — once again, you have to say — rather perverse drinking and hazing rituals. It concerns sexual violence and molestation. It concerns far-right incidents,” Collatz said.”

Australia

ABC News Australia: Sydney Man Nowroz Amin Jailed For Trying To Fly To Bangladesh To Engage In Violent Extremism

“A Sydney man who tried to travel to Bangladesh to engage in violent extremism has been sentenced to five years and four months in prison. Nowroz Amin was stopped at Sydney International Airport in February 2016, when authorities found Islamic State-produced magazines and other terrorism-related material on USB drives in his suitcase. The 30-year-old pleaded guilty to preparing for planning a terrorist act, along with an offence under the Customs Act, and faced a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The NSW Supreme Court heard Amin spoke about “cooking classes” and “opening a restaurant” during coded online conversations with people in Bangladesh, referring to his attempts to learn how to make explosives. But while the Crown accused him of planning an attack in both Australia and Bangladesh, Amin insisted he was merely boasting or trying to make a name for himself. He agreed he was seeking to identify someone in Bangladesh with explosives knowledge, but said he never intended to carry out a local attack. Justice Peter Garling today found the Crown had failed to establish the local attack plans as a disputed issue and said Amin’s intention was to target the government of Bangladesh.”

Southeast Asia

AFP: Bangladesh Arrests 16 Rohingya In Anti-Militant Crackdown

“Bangladesh police arrested at least 16 Rohingya refugees in a series of raids on camps in Dhaka after the murder of a top Rohingya community leader last week, officials said Sunday. Rights advocate Mohib Ullah was gunned down 10 days ago by unidentified assailants outside his office at Kutupalong, the world's largest refugee settlement in Bangladesh's southeast. His family and fellow community leaders have blamed the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) -- a militant outfit behind a series of attacks on Myanmar security posts -- saying Mohib Ullah's growing popularity had enraged the group. ARSA has denied any involvement in the murder. The 48-year-old had become one the most respected moderate voices advocating for Rohingya refugees after nearly 800,000 people fled Myanmar for Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district following military crackdowns on their villages in 2017. “We have arrested 16 people in the past three days as part of a special drive we have launched after the murder of Mohib Ullah,” said Naimul Huq, the police official in charge of the raids. But Huq added that those arrested were not “involved in the murder of Mohib Ullah” and ARSA does not operate in the camps.”

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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