Eye on Extremism: October 11, 2022

The New York Times: White House Tightens Rules On Counterterrorism Drone Strikes

“President Biden has signed a classified policy limiting counterterrorism drone strikes outside conventional war zones, tightening rules that President Donald J. Trump had loosened for a 21st-century method of warfare, according to officials. The policy, which the White House sent to the Pentagon and the C.I.A. on Friday, institutionalizes a version of temporary limits that Mr. Biden’s team quietly put in place on the day of his inauguration as a stopgap for reducing risks to civilians while the new administration reviewed the counterterrorism policies it had inherited from Mr. Trump. A description of the policy, along with a classified new counterterrorism strategy memo Mr. Biden has also signed, suggests that amid competing priorities in a turbulent world, the United States intends to launch fewer drone strikes and commando raids away from recognized war zones than it has in the recent past. The policy requires Mr. Biden’s approval before a suspected terrorist is added to a list of those who can be targeted for “direct action,” in a return to a more centralized control of decisions about targeted killing operations that was a hallmark of President Barack Obama’s second term. Mr. Trump had given commanders in the field greater latitude to decide whom to target.”

CNN: First On CNN: Top US Officials Hold First In-Person Meeting With The Taliban Since The US Killed Al Qaeda’s Leader In July

“Top Biden administration officials met in-person with the Taliban on Saturday for the first time since al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by the US in his apartment in Kabul in late July, two officials familiar with the talks said. The administration sent the CIA’s deputy director and the top State Department official responsible for Afghanistan to the Qatari capital of Doha for the talks with the Taliban delegation which included their head of intelligence, Abdul Haq Wasiq. After Zawahiri was killed in a strike, the US accused the Taliban of a “clear and blatant violation of the Doha agreement, “brokered by the Trump administration, which said that the Taliban would not harbor terrorists if US forces withdrew from Afghanistan, which they did in August 2021. After a US drone fired fatal Hellfire missiles at Zawahiri, American officials accused Taliban leaders from the Haqqani network of knowing about Zawahiri’s whereabouts while the Taliban angrily condemned the operation. Since then, the US has continued to engage with the Taliban, including negotiating the release of US citizen Mark Frerichs. But senior officials had not met face-to-face since a few days before Zawahiri was killed on July 31. The presence of CIA Deputy Director David Cohen and the Taliban’s Wasiq at the meeting on Saturday indicates an emphasis on counterterrorism.”

United States

York Daily Record: What Happened To Pennsylvania's Shaun Winkler And The Neo-Nazi Movement?

“…One of those groups – the Patriot Front – held a fundraiser in July in Western Pennsylvania and donated to a food pantry in Allentown in May, according to Josh Lipowsky, senior research analyst for the Counter Extremism Project at the Anti-Defamation League. Philanthropy isn’t the mission of the Patriot Front or other groups like it; white separatism is. What it’s leading to, according to experts, is extreme violence by lone individuals, like the mass murder of Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh four years ago and the mass shooting this year at a Buffalo grocery store, targeting Black people. In March 2021, this assessment came from the Office for the Director of National Intelligence: Racially/ethnically motivated violent extremist groups are “the most lethal” domestic violent extremist threats to the United States and racially/ethnically motivated extremists are “most likely to conduct mass-casualty attacks against civilians.” The George Washington University Program on Extremism in May 2021 said this: “Individuals inspired by RMVE (racially/ethnically motivated violent extremist) ideologies launched their own string of horrific attacks during this five-year period (2014-2019), most infamously in the form of mass shootings in Charleston, South Carolina, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Poway, California, and El Paso, Texas as well as during a riot in Charlottesville, Virginia.”


Voice Of America: Syria Official: US Drone Attack Kills IS Member In Northeast

“A U.S.-led coalition drone strike Monday in northeastern Syria killed an Islamic State group militant, a Kurdish-Syrian security official said. Speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, the official told The Associated Press that the strike targeted the IS member driving a motorcycle in the village of Hamam al-Turkman. The village is controlled by Turkish-backed Syrian opposition forces near Tel Abyad. No other casualties were reported. Photos from local media surfaced on social media showing what is reportedly the remains of the militant's body next to the destroyed motorcycle. U.S. Central Command did not immediately issue a statement on the drone attack and did not immediately respond to an inquiry by The Associated Press on the matter. The U.S. last week announced it killed three IS leaders in two separate operations, including a rare ground raid in a part of northeast Syria under government control. There are some 900 U.S. forces in Syria supporting Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against the Islamic State group. They have frequently targeted IS militants mostly in parts of northeastern Syria under Kurdish control. Despite their defeat in Syria in 2019, when IS lost the last sliver of land its fighters once controlled, the extremists' sleeper cells have continued to carry out deadly attacks in Syria and Iraq.”


The National: Canada's Deputy PM Calls IRGC A ‘Terrorist Organisation’ As Travel Bans Unveiled

“A top Canadian official on Friday declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organisation, as she unveiled sweeping travel sanctions on the group's members. “The IRGC leadership are terrorists, the IRGC is a terrorist organisation,” Canadian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland said. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will be imposing immigration restrictions on the Iranian regime. About half of the organisation's members — some 10,000 people — “will be inadmissible to Canada forever”, he said. “We will be pursuing a listing of the Iranian regime, including the IRGC leadership, under the most powerful provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,” Mr Trudeau said. He added that the decision was permanent. The US listed the IRGC as a terrorist organisation in 2019 under Donald Trump. President Joe Biden's administration has declined Tehran's request to delist the force as a condition of reviving the nuclear deal. The Canadian government's move falls short, however, of a terrorist designation. Instead, the government is using provisions under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Irpa) to target members of the regime and the IRGC, the CBC reported.”


AFP: Car Explosion In Northern Iraq Kills One, Injures Four Others

“One person was killed and four others, two women and two children, were injured when a bomb exploded Friday in the capital of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, counter-terrorism forces said. “An explosive device planted in a car detonated, leading to the death of the driver and the injury of... two women and two children,” a statement said, without elaborating on the victims’ identities or a motive for the attack. The driver who was killed was an officer in the Kurdish counter-terrorism services in the city of Sulaimaniyah, southeast of the Kurdish capital Irbil, a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The Kurdistan region in northern Iraq has long been viewed as a haven of stability in the war-ravaged country, but it has not been completely spared from attacks and strikes from neighboring states. The autonomous region is home to several international NGOs and has developed its infrastructure and projects at a faster pace than the rest of Iraq. But it has often been caught in the crosshairs of geopolitical conflict among neighboring countries, having recently been the target of strikes by both Iran and Turkey. On September 28, Iran targeted positions of Iranian-Kurdish rebel groups in Iraqi Kurdistan, killing 14 people and wounding 58, including civilians.”


Al Monitor: Seven Years On, Questions Linger Over Deadliest Terror Attack In Turkey

“Turkey on Monday marked the seventh anniversary of the bloodiest terrorist attack in its history, but many of the Islamic State (IS) suspects charged over the bombing that killed 103 people in Ankara have yet to be brought to justice. Sixteen suspects accused of organizing the attack and leading IS activities in Turkey remain on the run, as lawyers for the victims' families blame neglect of duty on the part of the authorities for the failure to hunt down the fugitives and prevent the attack in the first place. Two suicide bombers — both Turkish nationals who spent time with IS in Syria — blew themselves up in a crowd converging on the capital’s main train station in Ankara on Oct. 10, 2015, at a rally for a peaceful settlement to the Kurdish conflict. In addition to the 103 dead, nearly 500 people were injured. In a statement on the eve of the anniversary, the October 10 Lawyers Commission — a group formed by attorneys involved in the case — accused the state of “not lifting a finger” to punish those involved in the attack. “Our requests to the courts have been [routinely] denied. The required measures are not being taken to capture the fugitive suspects. Prosecutors have failed to act on our criminal complaints against IS members who are not suspects in the case but whose role in the massacre has become evident.”


The Jerusalem Post: Afghan Special Forces Arrest Terrorist IS-KP Finance Head

“A senior Afghan intelligence official announced Wednesday that the chief of financial affairs for Islamic State – Khorasan Province (IS-KP), an affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group that is active across South and Central Asia, had been arrested by Afghan special forces in a remote area of the country. The official told The Media Line that Abdul Malik (aka “Maliki”) was responsible for collecting funds from Germany, Ukraine, and Spain to distribute among IS-KP terrorists. He said that Maliki was responsible for recent terrorist attacks in the country, as well as motivating, recruiting, and training newly inducted youth. Taliban sources described the arrest of Maliki as a major success against the terrorist group. Abdul Rehman Samangani, another Afghan official, told The Media Line, “During his investigation, Maliki revealed that his mission was to motivate foreign Muslim youth to join IS-KP, and he collected financial contributions for IS-KP, especially from Ukraine, Germany, and Spain.” Maliki told the investigators that he collected $15,000 from Ukraine, €5,000 from Germany, and €1,500 from Spain for the group. “We have achieved this success without any external support,” Samangani told The Media Line. “The operatives of the Afghan Special Intelligence Unit had been searching for Maliki for a long time. As soon as his identity was confirmed, our strike force apprehended him without any resistance.”

Middle East

Associated Press: Israeli Soldier, 2 Palestinians Killed In Separate Shootings In Israel

“A Palestinian opened fire on an Israeli military checkpoint in east Jerusalem on Saturday night, killing a female Israeli soldier and wounding three other people, Israeli authorities said. The attack came hours after a pair of Palestinian teenagers were killed during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank. It was the latest bloodshed in the deadliest round of fighting in the area in seven years. It also came less than 24 hours before Israel was to begin celebrating the weeklong Sukkot holiday, a time when tens of thousands of Jews visit the holy city. Saturday night's shooting occurred at a checkpoint near the Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem. Police said the assailant got out of a car and opened fire, seriously wounding the female soldier and a security guard before running into the camp. The army announced early Sunday that the soldier, who was 19, had died. Police said two members of the paramilitary border police unit were lightly wounded by shrapnel. Police said they were searching for the attacker, with special forces and a helicopter involved in the search. Police said early Sunday that they had arrested one person on suspicion of involvement in the attack but were continuing the manhunt.”


All Africa: Nigeria: Military Kills 19 Terrorists, Arrests 42 Logistics Suppliers In Borno

“The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said troops of Operation Hadin Kai killed 19 Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP)/ Boko Haram terrorists and arrested 42 logistics suppliers while 418 terrorists surrendered to troops in two weeks. The director of Defence Media Operations Major General Musa Danmadami who disclosed this at the biweekly update on the Armed Forces of Nigeria operations between September 22 to October 6, 2022 said all arrested Boko Haram Terrorist criminals have been handed over to the appropriate authority for further action while surrendered Boko Haram Terrorist/Islamic State of West Africa Province terrorists and their families are being profiled for further action. He said the troops between September 22 to October 4, 2022, arrested 29 Boko Haram Terrorist/Islamic State of West Africa Province logistic suppliers during clearance operations. General Danmadami said the troops recovered from the Boko Haram suspects 50 big bags of dry fish, two big sacks of fried meat, 55 jerry cans of Premium Motor Spirit, one big bag of coal, 13 bags of breads, one bag of salt, one bag of beans, five cartons of detergent, three packs of batteries, 50 leathers of mosquito coil, 10 mobile phones, four vehicles, one bicycle and the sum of 2,479,740.00 cash.”

All Africa: Nigeria: 35,000 Killed, 1.8 Million Persons Displaced In North By Boko Haram - Report

“No fewer than 35,000 persons have been reported killed in Northern Nigeria and 1.8 million others displaced in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states since 2009 when Boko Haram launched its insurgency. This was disclosed by Gloria Mabeiam Ballason in a paper titled: “Forensic Evidence Gathering After Mass Atrocities: North East And North West Nigeria In Perspective,” which she delivered at the 5th Molluma Yakubu Centre for Medical Law and Mass Atrocities Accountability annual lecture series at the House of Justice Complex, Kaduna. She disclosed that, “According to the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (Global R2P), more than 35,000 people have been killed in Northern Nigeria since 2009 when Boko Haram launched its insurgency with at least 1.8million Internally Displaced Persons in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states” adding that trade, commerce, health services and education amongst other transactions, had been disrupted by the insurgents. “Since 2011, violence has escalated in Central and North-West Nigeria. The states in this region include Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara. Jigawa and Kano are also in the North Central but have not really been affected. The areas which have also been heavily affected include Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Benue, Plateau, Nassarawa, Niger, Kogi and parts of the Federal Capital Territory.”


Voice Of America: Somalia Warns Media Not To Publish Al-Shabab Propaganda

“Somalia's government announced Saturday a crackdown on media outlets that publish what it deems propaganda for the Islamist militant group al-Shabab and warned that offenders would be punished. The move comes as Somalia's armed forces, backed by local militias and international allies, wage an aggressive counteroffensive against the al-Qaida affiliate. “I want to inform the Somali media and all Somali people in general that we will regard all al-Shabab related propaganda coverage including their terrorist acts and their ideology as punishable crimes,” Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf said. “The Somali government is totally banning all kinds of coverage relating to the terrorist ideology and acts of intimidation by (al Shabab),” he told reporters at a news conference in the capital Mogadishu. “Their audio clips, video clips, photos, and messages cannot be disseminated.” Yusuf said the government has also launched cyber operations against “terrorist accounts” on social media and had disabled more than 40 on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in the past 48 hours. “Other online sources like applications and websites which terrorists use to spread their messages will also be traced and suspended accordingly,” he added. Yusuf insisted it was not a question of clamping down on free speech and later told AFP the measures would not affect normal news coverage about al-Shabab by journalists in Somalia.”

All Africa: Somalia: Somali Troops Kill 19 Militants In Repelled Al-Shabaab Attack

“Somali National Army killed 19 Al-Shabab members in a repulsed attack at an army base near Bal'ad district in the Middle Shabelle region, on Friday morning. The state media reported that the ongoing offensive operations against Al-Shabab have led to taking control over vast swathes of Galmudug, Southwest, and the Hirshabelle. Somali National Armed Forces backed by locals are committed to eliminating Al-Shabaab, said the military. The Somali Govt urged the public to support the army to win the war. Al-Shabaab has been fighting to oust the Somali government and expel the AU troops from the country for over a decade and its insurgency has not realized its goal, as seen on the ground.”


CNN: ISIS-Linked Militants Are Threatening Huge Natural Gas Reserves The World Needs Badly Right Now

“Asmani Dadi had heard rumors about the insurgents. Then, one day, they came true. It was July 2020 and Dadi was a student in the town of Mocímboa da Praia, northern Mozambique. “They came … from the forest and began to kill people. When they found children, … they stole them back to the forest. And when they find men… they cut off their heads,” Dadi recalled. The attack was just one in a festering insurgency by ISIS-linked militants in the southern African nation that has killed at least 4000 civilians and displaced nearly one million people, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR. “They first arrived in this area to spread their propaganda. To say they were Muslim men. But Muslim men should not kill like this,” said Dadi Mozambique has huge natural gas reserves – a resource that, if exploited effectively, could change its fortunes and help the world as it struggles to find enough natural gas to heat homes and fuel industry following Russia’s war on Ukraine. The insurgency, however, jeopardizes Mozambique’s entire economic future, and the battle against the militants is now international. Soldiers and military personnel from 10 nations are combating the fighters. Among them are Rwandan forces that have now largely regained control of a portion of Mozambique’s northernmost Cabo Delgado province, which is home to Palma and Mocímboa da Praia.”

AFP: Sahel Military Coups Only Help Jihadists: Analysts

“Burkina Faso's new rulers say they seized power to better fight jihadists, but history in the Sahel suggests the coup will merely stoke turbulence and division, benefitting the insurgents, analysts say. The poor, arid region has been wracked by jihadist insecurity since 2012. It began in northern Mali then in 2015 spread to its centre and neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso, claiming thousands of lives and prompting more than two million people to flee their homes. A new junta led by 34-year-old Captain Ibrahim Traore seized power in Burkina Faso last week, in the second such power grab since January blamed on failures to quell jihadist attacks. It followed two similar coups in Mali in 2020 and 2021. The latest takeover comes during a struggle for influence between France and Russia in the former French colonies, whose leaders appear to be increasingly turning to Moscow to help battle the jihadists. But analyst Yvan Guichaoua said the coup would only serve the interests of the jihadists -- the Al-Qaeda-linked Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and the local branch of the Islamic State group. “The big winners are not the Russians or the French, but GSIM and IS,” said Guichaou, an expert at the Brussels School of International Studies. “What a disaster.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Morocco Committed To Addressing Terrorism Threat In Africa

“Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Abroad Nasser Bourita said on Friday Rabat is committed to promoting cooperation in order to address the complex and transnational nature of the terrorist threat in Africa. This commitment is reflected first by the Kingdom's accession to several sub-regional cooperation frameworks aimed at strengthening the collective capacity of African countries to protect their borders from these threats, Bourita told a ministerial meeting of the African Union's Peace and Security Council (AU-PSC). The meeting, the first held under the Moroccan AU-PSC chairmanship for the month of October, focused on development and de-radicalization as levers in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. Bourita highlighted Morocco’s efforts in de-radicalization, including the establishment of specialized institutions to train African imams, such as the Foundation Mohammed VI of African Ulema. The foundation is a real platform for exchange and sharing to address the misinterpretation of religious texts and messages. Bourita stressed that the Kingdom is committed to promoting and defending African security concerns at international arenas, including during his three consecutive terms as co-chair of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) and his co-chairmanship of the Africa Focus Group of the Global Coalition against ISIS.”


Associated Press: France’s Ex-President: Bastille Day Attack Was “Terror Act”

“Former French President François Hollande told a special terrorism court on Monday that the man who drove a truck into a crowded beachfront in Nice on Bastille Day six years ago, killing 86 people, was a terrorist who had gone undetected by security services despite France being on high alert for extremist attacks following the Islamic State massacres in Paris. Thousands of people had packed Nice’s famed boardwalk on the Mediterranean coast on July 14, 2016, to celebrate France’s national holiday. Shortly after the end of a fireworks display, the truck careered through the crowd for two kilometers (1¼ miles) like a snowplow, slamming into person after person. The final death toll was 86, including 15 children and adolescents, while 450 others were injured. The attacker, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian with French residency, was killed by police soon afterward. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the carnage. However, French prosecutors said while Bouhlel had been inspired by the extremist group’s propaganda, investigators found no evidence that IS orchestrated the attack. Eight people are on trial in a special Paris terrorism court accused of helping Bouhlel carry out the attack. The trial opened on Sept. 5 and is being broadcast live to a convention center in Nice for victims’ family members not traveling to Paris for the proceedings.”


AFP: Brussels 2016 Attacks Trial To Resume On November 30

“The trial for the 2016 Brussels attacks will resume on November 30, a Belgian court said on Friday, after being delayed to replace controversial glass boxes intended for the accused, including French jihadist Salah Abdeslam. Defence lawyers had argued that they could not freely consult with their clients and requested that the cubicles be removed, which a judge agreed to, ruling that they violated European law. Nine alleged members of the Islamic State (IS) group cell that launched both the March 2016 suicide bombings in Belgium and the November 2015 attacks in Paris face terrorism charges. The Belgian attacks, in which three suicide bombers targeted Brussels airport and a crowded underground metro station, killed 32 people and shattered the lives of hundreds of wounded or traumatised survivors. A tenth suspect, the suspected planner of the terror campaign, is presumed killed and will be tried in absentia. The trial is the largest ever staged in front of a Belgian jury, with 960 civil plaintiffs represented and the sprawling former headquarters of the NATO military alliance converted into a high-security court complex.The investigation quickly revealed, with the help of a computer found in a rubbish bin, that the perpetrators of the Brussels attacks were linked to those responsible for the attacks that left 130 dead in Paris.”

The Jerusalem Post: After Genocide At Hands Of ISIS, Yazidis Seek Help In Cyprus

“Yazidi refugees who come from the communities that suffered genocide under ISIS have found their way to Cyprus. According to an activist who works with the Yazidi minority and genocide survivors, a total of eight families arrived in Cyprus several weeks ago. Yazidis are a religious minority that mostly resides in Iraq, but some have historically lived in areas that became Syria and Turkey as well. In recent years they have suffered brutal persecution by terrorists and extremist groups. ISIS committed genocide against Yazidis in Sinjar in northern Iraq, killing and kidnapping thousands. Since the genocide in 2014 many hundreds of thousands of Yazidis have been forced into displaced persons camps. This caused many to seek better lives elsewhere, traveling through Turkey to Europe. As members of a minority group that has been persecuted by Islamist extremists, they often face persecution along the journey, sometimes at the hands of other people who claim to be refugees. According to the source, dozens of Yazidis continue to migrate through Greece to the rest of Europe. It is not usual that they end up in Cyprus because the journey is more complex and dangerous. However, recently several families ended up in Cyprus near Nicosia. One is a mother with two children, and her other children and husband were still stranded in Turkey.”

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