Eye on Extremism: October 17, 2022

Reuters: Islamist Militants In Mali Kill Hundreds, Displace Thousands In Eastern Advance

“Islamist militants have advanced further into eastern Mali in recent days, seizing territory, killing hundreds of civilians and forcing thousands to flee, regional Malian officials and analysts said. The gains by the militants highlight Mali's struggle to fill the vacuum following the departure of French and other European forces, while relations with neighbouring Niger have deteriorated, preventing joint military operations near the Niger and Burkina Faso borders. Heavy fighting between Tuareg separatists and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) group has been reported in Menaka region, where Malian forces took over a French military camp in June. read more While the offensive started in March, France's pullout "left a vacuum and lifted a lot of pressure", said Heni Nsaiba, senior researcher at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a U.S.-based crisis monitoring group. Hundreds have been killed since March, mainly civilians, as jihadists have battled their way into Menaka and the neighbouring Gao region, according to ACLED data, Nsaiba added. Islamic State-linked fighters are the major perpetrators of that violence, according to the U.N. Secretary General's report to the Security Council released on Thursday. This month, Islamist militants took over the rural Ansongo district, near the border with Niger, a local official and pro-government militia said.”

Reuters: Russian, Syrian Forces Kill 20 Militants In Syria, Russian General Says

“Russian and Syrian forces have killed 20 Islamic militants in an operation in southern Syria, including those responsible for blowing up a troop bus, a Russian officer was quoted as saying late on Sunday. Major General Oleg Yegorov, quoted by Russia's TASS news agency, said the operation took place in southern Deraa province. "The Russian group on interaction with security units of the Syrian armed forces conducted a special operation in the town of Jasim, Deraa province in the south of (Syria) to liquidate Islamic State fighters," TASS said Yegorov told a briefing. TASS said the fighters had been involved in the bombing of a bus last week that killed at least 18 Syrian servicemen near Damascus. Yegorov said those killed in the operation included the organiser of the bus attack as well as others linked to Islamic State's operations in Deraa and in Raqqa province. Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports. The bus attack was one of the deadliest in months against Syrian government troops not on an active front line. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and no comment from Syrian authorities. A decade of conflict in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands of people and left the country fractured. Russian forces have been in Syria since 2015, helping authorities in their drive to recapture territory held by opposition fighters.”

Syria

Reuters: Hardline Syria Rebels Sweep Across North, 27 Killed In Clashes

“Hardline rebel fighters in northern Syria have clawed territory away from their Turkey-backed rivals this week in clashes that have left more than two dozen dead, the factions and a war monitor said on Friday. Tensions erupted earlier this month between a rebel group backed by Turkey and more hardline fighters, including Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, according to statements by the clashing groups. HTS and its allies captured the town of Afrin, which Turkish-backed forces seized from Kurdish factions in 2018, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor. The Observatory said HTS also seized a string of nearby villages and towns in the northern province of Aleppo this week from the Turkish-backed Third Corps. The resulting fighting killed 19 fighters and eight civilians, including children, according to the Observatory. Hisham Iskef, a spokesperson for the Third Corps, told Reuters that negotiations to end the fighting had fallen apart and the clashes were intensifying. Local officials in the town of Azaz called for residents to stand against HTS while a similar statement from the town of Al-Bab asked Turkey and top Syrian opposition figures to step in and keep the peace. Syria has been mired in conflict since protests against President Bashar al-Assad in 2011 were met with a crackdown, leading to war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced millions and drawn in regional and global powers.”

Kurdistan 24: ISIS Sleeper Cell Attempts To Kill Local Imam In Raqqa

“ISIS members on a car attempted to assassinate an imam of a mosque in Al-Raqqah, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) war monitor reported on Monday. On Monday, a suspected ISIS member stabbed the imam of a mosque in Raqqa during the dawn prayers, while saying an ISIS slogan. The Imam was injured and taken to the hospital for treatment. The SDF freed the former ISIS capital Raqqa from ISIS control in Oct. 2017 with support from the US-led anti-ISIS coalition. Although ISIS lost all the territory that once made up its self-styled caliphate in March 2019, ISIS sleeper cells are still active in northeast Syria. As a result, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with support of the coalition has continued operations against suspects ISIS cells in Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and other territories.”

Pakistan

Associated Press: Roadside Bomb Kills 3 In Pakistan’s Restive Baluch Region

“A roadside bomb on Friday killed at least three people in Pakistan’s restive southwestern province, government officials said. The blast near the town of Mastung injured six others, including two police, said Baluchistan province’s top security official, Mir Zia Langu. The attack appeared to target a vehicle carrying the relatives of a man abducted and killed in a separate attack on Thursday night, Langu added. No one claimed responsibility for the blast but Baluch separatists have been involved in such attacks in the region while Islamic militants also operate there. A separate attack later on Friday riddled with gunshot wounds and killed Baluchistan province’s former top justice official, Noor Mohammad Meskanzai, Langu said. Militant group the Baluch Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the attack. Mineral and gas rich Baluchistan has been a scene of low-level insurgency by separatist groups for over two decades. Pakistan’s military has said they quelled the insurgency but violence persists in the area.”

Middle East

CNN: East Jerusalem Rocked By Sixth Night Of Clashes As Israeli Raids In West Bank Leave At Least Two Palestinians Dead

“Clashes erupted in the flashpoint East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and in the West Bank for a sixth consecutive night overnight Thursday into Friday, leaving at least two Palestinians dead. They were killed in the restive West Bank city and refugee camp of Jenin during an Israeli raid on Friday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said. It named one man who died as “colleague and doctor” Abdullah Al-Ahmad, and said he died as a result of “being hit by a bullet that pierced his head fired by occupation soldiers in front of Jenin Governmental Hospital this morning.” Palestinian news agency Wafa named the other man who was killed as Mateen Dabaya, 20. The Israel Defense Forces is “reviewing whether an uninvolved individual was hit and injured” in the Jenin incident, IDF international spokesman Richard Hecht said on Twitter on Friday. The unrest in East Jerusalem, meanwhile, was marked by Israelis and Palestinians throwing stones at each other. At one point, Israeli TV showed right-wing Israeli politician Ben Gvir drawing a gun and saying: “If they throw stones, shoot them.” At least 20 Palestinians were injured, five of whom needed hospital treatment. Two Israelis were also sent to the hospital, Palestinian and Israeli officials said. The violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is the latest in the steady increase of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians that has seen the largest number of people killed on each side this year since 2015.”

Nigeria

All Africa: Nigeria: Why Govt Released 101 'Boko Haram' Suspects From Kirikiri

“It was an out-of-court settlement that led to the recent release of 101 'Boko Haram' suspects who were arrested at various locations in 2009 and had been in detention since then at various correctional facilities, including the Kirikiri maximum and medium centres in Lagos. This is contrary to recent claims especially in social media that the suspects were released in exchange for the remaining 23 abducted passengers of the Kaduna- Abuja train. Daily Trust Saturday leant from credible sources monitoring the case that discussions for the release of the suspects started long ago when it was evident that there were no facts to prove that they were Boko Haram members, considering that most of them were arrested in the streets of various cities at the onset of the Boko Haram uprising 13 years ago. But while fielding questions from journalists after the National Security Council (NSC) meeting yesterday in Abuja on the released suspects, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor said, "... Perhaps may be at this point, what I may need to add is the fact that Council was also briefed that 101 ex-combatants were taken to Operation Safe Corridor (in Gombe) and currently undergoing the process of de-radicalization at the centre.”

Somalia

Associated Press: Mozambique Jihadi Violence Spreads Despite Military Effort

“Fleeing beheadings, shootings, rapes and kidnappings, nearly 1 million people are displaced by the Islamic extremist insurgency in northern Mozambique. The 5-year wave of jihadi violence in Cabo Delgado province has killed more than 4,000 people and scuppered international investments worth billions of dollars. In a sprawl of dilapidated tents and thatched huts around Nanjua, a small town in the southern part of Cabo Delgado province, several hundred families are seeking safety from the violence. They say their conditions are bleak and food assistance is meager but they're afraid to return home because of continuing violence by the rebels who are now going by the name Islamic State Mozambique Province. More than 1.000 miles south, however, government officials in the capital Maputo are saying the insurgency is under control and are encouraging the displaced to return to their homes and energy companies to resume their projects. "The terrorists are on the run permanently," Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi assured investors at the Mozambique Energy and Gas Summit in Maputo in September. He urged the gathering of international energy executives to resume work on their stalled liquefied natural gas projects.”

AFP: Somalia Warns Traders Not To Pay Off Islamist Militants

“Somalia’s government Saturday threatened to sanction businesses that pay extortion money to al-Shabab, looking to choke a lucrative cash pipeline the Islamist militants use to fund a deadly insurgency. Somalia's ministry of commerce and industry said the full force of the law would be brought against traders who pay the al-Qaida ally, which experts say raises millions of dollars through a complex and extensive taxation system. The ministry said any business found to have paid or collaborated with al-Shabab in any way would "face legal action" including having their government-issued trading permits revoked. "Any merchant who obeys instructions issued by the terrorists, and pays them income, will never be allowed to do business in Somalia again," the ministry said in a letter to traders. "Any company found to involve members of al-Shabab, or that sponsors their merchandise, will have their property including real estate confiscated by the government." Al-Shabab has been trying to overthrow the central government in Mogadishu for more than 15 years and regularly stages deadly bombings and armed attacks on civilian and military targets. Despite an international effort to degrade the group, the militants control swaths of countryside, and use threats of violence to collect taxes in territory under their jurisdiction.”

Africa

AFP: Road Bomb Kills Two People In Niger

“Two people were killed in southeastern Niger on Sunday by a road bomb which exploded as they were passing with donkeys, local sources told AFP. "Two women were killed and a child was seriously wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated as their donkeys passed near Bosso," in the Diffa region, near Nigeria, a local resident said. A regional official confirmed that two people had died, without giving further details. Bosso, on the shores of Lake Chad, an areas subject to frequent jihadist attacks, including by notorious Boko Haram and its rival, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) group, Last month, suspected Boko Haram jihadists shot dead 11 farmers in Diffa, a local official said. Niger, the world's poorest country by the benchmark of the UN's Human Development Index, has been hit hard by the insurgency which began in northern Mali in 2012.”

Voice Of America: Western Sahel Conflict Sees Dramatic Rise In Year-Over-Year Deaths

“Backers of Burkina Faso's latest coup cited the military's failure to stem a deadly Islamist insurgency that is spreading across the Sahel and has displaced millions of people. A new analysis shows more civilians died in the Western Sahel conflict during the first half of 2022 than in all of 2021. War has raged between Western Sahel countries and militants linked to Islamic State or al-Qaida for more than a decade. Analysts say failure to stop attacks helped spark two coups in Burkina Faso, the most recent coming September 30. Both military juntas that carried out the coups cited the inability of the previous government to improve security. "There was this expectation that a military leader would perform better than a civilian one," said Constantin Gouvy, an analyst for the Clingendael Institute, a Dutch think tank. "What we’ve seen instead is that since January, the security situation has continued to deteriorate." Data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project show that nearly 2,300 civilians were killed in the Western Sahel conflict during the first half of 2022. That’s about 400 more than the number killed in the whole of 2021. In Burkina Faso, one of the previous military junta’s flagship policies for reducing violence was to create “military interest zones.” It called for civilians within conflict-affected provinces to leave for a period so the army could carry out operations against terrorists.”

Germany

Washington Examiner: 'Terror Granny' Arrested In Germany Over Alleged Plot To Restore Kaiser

“A woman dubbed "Terror Granny" was arrested in Germany over an alleged plot to destroy the modern democratic German state and restore the Kaiser. Elisabeth R., 75, an evangelical theologian and retired pastor and schoolteacher, was already well-known in German monarchist circles, being dubbed "the countess," according to T-Online. Due to her advanced age and unassuming nature, the German press has dubbed her "Terror-Oma," or "Terror Granny," Bild reported. Prosecutors claim she was the leader of a monarchist cell called "United Patriots" that sought to kidnap the German health minister and destroy the nation's power grid, which the cell hoped would then lead to civil war-like conditions that would result in the restoration of the Kaiser. The plot was foiled back in April, but she was only arrested on Thursday, T-Online reported. The alleged plot was grandiose and simple: The conspirators would destroy the country's power grid in order to trigger a blackout, dubbed project "silent night," possibly using a graphite bomb planted at a substation that would trigger a nationwide chain reaction of short-circuiting. In the resulting chaos, members would stage a coup, which would have apparently involved the conspirators kidnapping several celebrities, including Health Minister Karls Leuterbach, a central enemy in far-right circles in the country over his strict COVID-19 lockdown policies.”

Europe

Reuters: Slovakia Could Treat Killings Outside Gay Bar As Terrorism, Prosecutor Says

“Slovakia could treat the killing of two people outside a well-known gay bar in the capital Bratislava as an act of terrorism, a top prosecutor said on Friday, as investigators looked deeper into the shooting which has rattled the central European state. The killings, investigated as a possible hate crime although police have yet to determine its motives, have sparked outrage from politicians and rights groups, and prompted the president to call for reflection on the political climate in the country. Thousands gathered in downtown Bratislava later on Friday to show solidarity with the LGBT community, many waving the rainbow flags symbolising the movement for gay rights or carrying banners like "Stop the violence!". Police found the suspected killer dead on Thursday morning, after he shot his victims outside the Teplaren bar in the city centre on Wednesday evening. Police said they suspected the shooter then killed himself. Prime Minister Eduard Heger has called the shooter a "radicalised teenager", while President Zuzana Caputova said in a Facebook post the shooting was a hate crime. On Friday, police and judicial officials said investigations so far showed no indications the killer knew his victims. Police on Friday identified those killed as 23-year-old Matus H. and 26-year-old Juraj V. A third victim Radoslava T., 28, was wounded in her leg.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

Without doubt, the secularists are evil and more malicious than the polytheists and secularism is farther astray from the path and more malicious than polytheism. The secularists who are associated with Islam even [merely] by identity are considered apostates by a group of scholars. The Jews, Christians, those who worship graves, and many polytheists and unbelievers have committed lesser acts of unbelief than the secularists.

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Salafist propagandist Mar. 1, 2021
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