Eye on Extremism: October 13

The New York Times: E.U. Pledges $1.15 Billion In Afghan Aid As U.S. Talks To Taliban

“World leaders met virtually on Tuesday to discuss ways of preventing an economic and humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan, but the Biden administration maintained a cautious stance toward providing more support to the Taliban-ruled country. The European Union pledged $1 billion euros, or $1.15 billion, in aid to Afghanistan and to neighboring countries, as Group of 20 leaders separately affirmed their support for human rights and stability in the country. “We must do all we can to avert a major humanitarian and socio-economic collapse in Afghanistan,” Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said in a statement. “We need to do it fast.” After two meetings with Taliban officials over the past few days, however, the Biden administration did not announce any new American aid for the country as it navigates its approach to an Afghan government run by a group that battled the United States for nearly 20 years. Experts said the E.U. funding, some of which had already been pledged last month, was at best a temporary solution to the enormous need in Afghanistan, a nation of 30 million whose financial system is on the verge of collapse. Most international aid to the country has been cut off since mid-August, when the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban took power.”

Reuters: Nigerian Women And Children Trek Six Days To Escape From Islamists

“A group of 15 Nigerian women and children trekked through the bush for six days to escape from Islamist militants who had kidnapped them from churches in the northeast, a state governor said. Northeast Nigeria has been ravaged for more than a decade by a conflict between Islamist insurgents and the armed forces, in which an estimated 300,000 people have been killed and thousands abducted, some held in captivity for years in remote camps. Other women who have escaped or been rescued have recounted being forced to marry their abductors and bear their children, among other abuses. Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State said the six women and their nine children were being held by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group in a forest in Buni Yadi, an area of Yobe State, until they escaped and walked for six days to the town of Damboa in neighbouring Borno. Zulum met the women and children on Monday, and they were due to be reunited with their families, according to a post on his Facebook page. They were abducted in 2020 and 2021, the governor's post said. Three of the women had been kidnapped from the Chibok area in Borno, where in a separate attack in 2014 fighters from the Boko Haram group had kidnapped 270 girls from their school, drawing global condemnation.”

United States

The Washington Post: Senate Democrat Presses TikTok On Its Handling Of Extremist Content Tied To Jan. 6

“Senate Homeland Security Chairman Gary Peters (D-Mich.) on Tuesday pressed video-sharing app TikTok for information about its efforts to curb violent extremist content before and after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, expanding the panel’s probe into how social media may have contributed to the violence. Peters expressed concern over reports that domestic extremists used the platform to “recruit, organize and communicate” in the days leading up to the riot, and that they “continue to spread their messages through content supporting white supremacists, extremists, and terrorist organizations.” He called on TikTok to provide the panel with information by Oct. 27 on how it enforced policies against extremist and violent content before and after Jan. 6, whether the company cooperated with federal authorities in those efforts and whether its algorithms amplified any of that content. In a letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, Peters accused the company of taking action against some extremist content only “after continued reports from outside parties,” and said that “TikTok extremist content has been allowed to return and continue operating on its platform.” Spokespeople for TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”

Syria

BBC News: The Children Of IS: 'It's A Disaster We Cannot Deal With'

“The al-Hol camp is chaotic, desperate and dangerous. It is home to the wives and children of the Islamic State group's foreign fighters - a tented city, with families crammed together, surrounded by armed guards, watch towers and barbed wire fences. The sprawling desert camp is a four-hour drive from al-Malikyah, past the city of Qamishli, and close to the Syria-Turkey border, in north-east Syria. Inside, women dress in black and wear the niqab - a face veil with an opening for the eyes, worn by some Muslim women. Some are aloof, while others are outwardly hostile. In a corner, near the small vegetable market, shielding from the scorching sun is a group of women willing to chat. They are from eastern Europe. I ask them how they ended up here, but they give little away, blaming their husbands for the decision to travel thousands of miles to join IS and live under a regime that tortured, murdered and enslaved thousands. Their only crime, they insist, was to fall in love with the wrong man. It's a familiar story among the wives of IS militants, as they seek to disassociate themselves from a regime which was clear about its brutality and aims. Their husbands are either dead, imprisoned or missing and they are now stuck here with their children.”

Kurdistan 24: SDF Arrest Four ISIS Suspects In Syria's Deir Al-Zor Countryside: Coalition

“The US-led Coalition confirmed on Tuesday that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) carried out a succesful anti-ISIS raid in the countryside Deir al-Zor, resulting in the arrest of four ISIS suspects. “Our SDF partners are the first line in defense of the safety and security of the people in NE Syria. Recently, they conducted a successful raid targeting four Daesh-affiliated (ISIS) terrorists in al-Shaafa,” the official Twitter account of the US-led coalition against ISIS confirmed on Tuesday. Al-Shaafa is a Syrian town controlled by the SDF in Abu Kamal District in Deir al-Zor province. The coalition also emphasized that it will continue to work with the SDF “as partners to deny Daesh (ISIS) any chance of resurgence.” The SDF's Coordination and Military Operations Center said that one of the arrested ISIS suspects was a leader of an ISIS sleeper cell in its tweet on the Shaafa operation on Monday. It also confirmed the confiscation of weapons and equipment. On Monday, the SDF also announced it arrested another ISIS suspect in a separate operation in the Deir al-Zor countryside, with support from the US-led coalition. Also on Oct. 6, the SDF Coordination and Military Operations Center reported that two ISIS suspects responsible for manufacturing car bombs were arrested in Deir al-Zor.”

Iraq

Reuters: Turkish Intelligence Helped Iraq Capture Islamic State Leader, Sources Say

“Turkish intelligence helped Iraq capture a senior Islamic State leader who had been hiding out in northwestern Syria, three security sources said on Tuesday, in an operation that points to closer cooperation against remnants of the jihadist group. Iraq announced on Monday that its security forces had captured Sami Jasim, an Iraqi national, in what it described as “a special operation outside the borders”. It did not give details on when or where he was seized. Jasim is one of the most senior Islamic State leaders to be taken alive. He was a deputy to Islamic State's founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, killed during a U.S. raid in 2019 in Syria's northwest, and a close aide to its current leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Quraishi, the Iraqi government said. A senior regional security source and two Iraqi security sources told Reuters that Jasim had been in northwestern Syria and that Turkish intelligence had been key to his capture. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing covert operations. Officials in the Iraqi and Turkish governments declined to comment on the sources' accounts of Jasim's capture.”

Afghanistan

The Wall Street Journal: Taliban Allow Teenage Afghan Girls Back In Some Provincial Schools—But Not In Kabul

“The Taliban have allowed middle- and high-school girls to resume studies in several provinces of northern Afghanistan, in an indication of how the Islamist group’s policies on key issues are being influenced by cultural differences within the country. In September, the Taliban reopened secondary schools for male students across Afghanistan but said nothing about their female peers. That amounted to a de facto ban on girls going to school after sixth grade. Elementary schools have reopened for all, with boys and girls being taught separately. But in four northern Afghan provinces—where women traditionally have had more active roles in society than in the more conservative south and east—secondary schools for girls have reopened, too, with the approval of local Taliban government officials. The decision, which hasn’t been widely publicized, was confirmed by teachers, students and a Taliban spokesman. The move indicates a degree of willingness from the Taliban to shape policy around cultural differences across Afghanistan, unlike in the 1990s, when they imposed harsh social rules on everyone under their rule. In the provinces of Balkh and Kunduz, which include the north’s two biggest cities of Mazar-e-Sharif and Kunduz, schools for teenage girls have been open for around a month.”

Reuters: Biden Discusses Afghanistan With G20 Leaders, Including Threat From ISIS-K

“U.S. President Joe Biden discussed the situation in Afghanistan with G20 leaders on Tuesday, including efforts to counter threats from extremist group Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), the White House said. The leaders also reaffirmed the commitment to provide humanitarian assistance directly to the Afghan people through independent international organizations, the White House added.”

Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post: Hamas Is Increasing Its Activity In Lebanon And Angering Hezbollah

“Hamas is increasing its activities in Lebanon in order to threaten Israel from two fronts simultaneously but is stepping on the toes of Hezbollah and angering the Lebanese terror army, a new report by the ALMA Research Center has found. The Gaza-based terror group’s secret force build-up in Lebanon has grown over the years to have hundreds of operatives working for Hamas’s “Construction Bureau,” which is responsible for building and developing military capabilities on Israel’s northern border. The force, based out of Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, is concealed from Lebanese authorities and Hezbollah and “has the potential of creating a severely difficult challenge for Hezbollah,” the report said. Headed by Majed Qader Mahmoud Qader who recently moved to Lebanon from Istanbul, the Construction Bureau has two units, the Al-Shimali Unit and the Khaled Ali Unit, each with hundreds of operatives. The Al-Shimali unit operates in five main geographical areas in Lebanon: Beirut, Tripoli, the Bekaa, Sidon and Tyre. It is headed by William Abu Shanab who underwent professional UAV training in Iran and Indonesia. His deputy is Bara’a Hasan Farhat and the unit’s intelligence officer is Khalil Muhammad Azzam.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Who Is Killing Us Jews?

“…Who is committing these crimes against Jews? To answer that question, I turned to the Counter Extremism Project (CEP). The Counter Extremism Project is a non-profit non-governmental organization founded in 2014 by former senior US government officials, including a former Homeland Security adviser, a former US senator and a former US ambassador to the United Nations. The CEP conducts in-depth research on extremist organizations from across the political spectrum, and advocates for strong policies to counter the influence of these organizations. Recently CEP published a “Timeline of Major Violent Attacks on Jews Worldwide from 2000-2020.” The Timeline consists of a list summarizing these attacks. The information includes identification of targets and perpetrators, dates, locations and perpetrator motivations. By including only major violent attacks, the Timeline excludes the majority of anti-Jewish attacks in the US and around the world, many of which involve threats, harassment, minor injury or property defacement and damage. Still, I found it useful to conduct an analysis of the CEP’s Timeline to answer the question I posed above: Who is committing these anti-Jewish crimes? Or, in this case, who is committing the most serious and deadly crimes against Jews worldwide?”

Africa

AFP: Two Soldiers Killed By Bomb In Burkina Faso’s Southeast

“Two soldiers were killed when their motorcycles ran over a homemade bomb in southeast Burkina Faso on Monday, the latest attack in a region previously spared from the jihadist violence of the north. The West African country has faced increasingly frequent and deadly attacks by jihadists forces linked to the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda since 2015. The violence has killed around 2,000 people and forced 1.4 million to flee their homes. A security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two soldiers “were victims of an IED (improvised explosive device) attack” in the town of Farakorosso in the Cascades region. Another security source said that the victims were “a pair of soldiers whose motorbike exploded on a mine.” Attacks with homemade explosive devices have ramped up since 2018 in Burkina Faso, killing nearly 300 civilians and soldiers, according to an AFP count. Such attacks are often waged in tandem with ambushes. Also in the Cascades region, two soldiers were killed by an IED near the town of Larabin on October 2. Two days later in the north, 14 soldiers were killed in an attack on a military detachment in Yirgou, the defense ministry said.”

Long War Journal: Sudan Reports Crackdown On Suspected Islamic State Cells In Khartoum

“Over the past two weeks, Sudanese intelligence services have reported three security raids across the capital city of Khartoum against militant cells suspected of belonging to the Islamic State. However, exact details surrounding the raids and the reported presence of the Islamic State inside Sudan remain unclear. On Sept. 28, Sudan’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) announced that five of its officers were killed during raids on several hideouts of what it said were suspected Islamic State members in the Gabra area of Khartoum. While stating that four suspected militants escaped the dragnet, the GIS also said that it had arrested 11 “foreign terrorists of different nationalities.” The GIS did not provide any other details on the foreign nationalities. Sudanese news outlets have reported that the leader of the cell was an Egyptian, while other Egyptians were also included among the foreign nationalities. At least one person was purportedly from Nigeria. Egypt, which has agreed to accept four of the Egyptians detained in the raid, has accused the suspects of being affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian officials further stated the four are wanted in the country for their roles in other terrorist attacks in the country.”

France

Business Insider: The Killing Of A Terrorist Behind The Death Of 4 US Troops Sheds Light On France's Quiet But Intense Fight In Africa

“In August, a French counterterrorism operation in northern Mali killed the leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS), avenging four US troops who were killed in Niger in 2017. French President Emanuel Macron revealed in September that a French drone strike killed Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the ISGS leader, while a French special-operations ground force stormed the terrorist camp in which al-Sahrawi was hiding. The elimination of such a high-value target highlights the quiet but intense war being waged in Africa against terrorist groups. Several European countries the US have contributed to the fight, but it's France that has taken the lead. Africa has developed several terrorism hotspots. Boko Haram in West Africa, al-Shabaab in East Africa, ISGS in the Sahel, and other ISIS- and Al Qaeda-affiliated groups in North Africa have killed hundreds and displaced thousands. France's involvement in the Sahel dates to 2012, when Islamist militants surprised the world by nearly capturing all of Mali in a swift campaign. France deployed more than 5,000 troops to the region in a mission called Operation Barkhane and managed to defeat the jihadists, who regrouped and launched an insurgency.”

Europe

Reuters: Kosovo Court Detains Five Suspected Militants After Police Find Weapons Cache

“A court in Kosovo on Tuesday ordered 30 days of pretrial detention for five suspects arrested last weekend as part of a months-long investigation in which police uncovered a cache of weapons and explosives. Prosecutors said in a statement the five suspects were planning to commit attacks against Kosovo’s “constitutional order” and that they would remain in detention pending indictments. Media in Pristina have reported that two suspects had previously travelled to conflict zones in Syria and that all five were followers of militant Islamic groups. In a document seen by Reuters, the prosecution said it had used surveillance and other covert methods to discover that the suspects wanted to buy anti-tank rocket launchers and other weapons “for the purpose of preparing terrorist acts in Kosovo”. Investigators have also organised a simulated weapons purchase, it said. Kosovo police said that a raid this weekend yielded an anti-tank rocket launcher, assault rifles, ammunition, rockets, explosives, a drone and money. The Western Balkans, comprising Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, North Macedonia and Albania, is awash with weapons, the legacy of bloody ethnic wars in 1990s. Tome Gashi, a lawyer for one of the suspects, rejected charges against his client.”

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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