Eye on Extremism: October 19, 2022

Reuters: New Zealand Proposes Stronger Terrorism Laws

“New Zealand's parliament on Wednesday proposed changes to the country's counter-terrorism laws to provide more restrictions on people thought likely to be planning an attack. The changes to the Control Orders Act and the Terrorism Suppression Act follow the introduction of the Counter-Terrorism Legislation bill in 2021 in the wake of a knife attack on several people at an Auckland supermarket by a man with known extremist views. “While no law can ever stop a motivated terrorist from undertaking an attack these changes will go a long way in preventing, disrupting and limiting their ability to do so,” Justice Minister Kiri Allen said in a statement. The changes include expanding the criteria for who can have restrictions placed on them in the community, increasing flexibility on whether someone under a control order has their identity suppressed, and making it more difficult for those categorised to have the designation of “terrorist” removed. After the mall knife attack in 2021 the government sought a review on how to improve laws to prevent a similar attack happening. The man, who was shot dead by police, was inspired by the Islamic state militant group and was being monitored constantly by security personnel after his earlier release from prison. It was the second extremist attack in the country in a little over two years after the massacre by a white supremacist at two mosques in Christchurch in March 2019 that killed 51 people and injured dozens more.”

The New York Times: French Cement Company To Pay $780 Million Over Payoffs To ISIS

“In the fall of 2012, an executive at the French construction conglomerate Lafarge S.A. met in Gaziantep, a sprawling city in southern Turkey, with representatives of several militias from northern Syria to hash out an agreement. As Syria had descended into civil war, Lafarge was among the few multinational companies still operating there. But employees of its cement factory just south of the Turkish border had come under attack from factions that had seized power in the region. After the Gaziantep meeting, Lafarge executives agreed to protect their operation by making monthly payments to terrorist groups including the Islamic State. The militants issued papers to the company’s drivers guaranteeing safe passage for its shipments and even offered to choke off competition. The yearslong arrangement — which came to resemble a revenue-sharing deal, even as violence encircled the plant — was at the center of a $778 million criminal plea agreement announced Tuesday by the U.S. Justice Department. Lafarge, a subsidiary of the Switzerland-based Holcim Group with extensive operations in the United States, entered a guilty plea Tuesday in federal court in Brooklyn to a count of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. The company also faces criminal charges in France, where it is the first corporation to be indicted on charges of complicity with crimes against humanity.”

United States

Rolling Stone: Feds Charge Pentagon Contractor With Lying About Ties To ISIS

“Federal prosecutors say a translator hired by the U.S. to work in Afghanistan lied about his contacts with recruiters for the terrorist group behind a notorious bombing that killed 13 American troops in August 2021. In a federal criminal complaint filed in Kansas on Monday, the government says Mohammad Rafi Mohammadi communicated with, funded, and, in one case, sought to secure the release of recruiters for ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K) both before and after he worked for the U.S. as a linguist in Afghanistan. Mohammadi allegedly denied “ever associat[ing] with anyone involved in activities to further terrorism” while filling out a security clearnace form for his linguist work in 2019. But FBI agents investigating him in the wake of the 2021 U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan say a trail of Facebook messages, social media posts, and the testimony of an informer contradict that account. Experts say that, while lying on security clearance forms is illegal and subject to criminal penalties, prosecutions tend to be rare and reserved only for extreme cases. The case comes as thousands of interpreters, soldiers, and employees who fought ISIS-K and the Taliban beside the U.S.-led coalition are still struggling to find refuge inside the U.S. after Taliban rule.”

Vice: He Founded An American Neo-Nazi Terror Group. But Will Rinaldo Nazzaro Ever Face US Justice?

“An FBI official has confirmed the agency is investigating the American founder of an international neo-Nazi terror group who is living in Russia—far from the grasp of U.S. authorities. Rinaldo Nazzaro, 49, a former Pentagon contractor and Department of Homeland Security analyst, founded The Base in late 2018 as a heavily armed, insurgent force preparing to hasten the downfall of modern government and engage in a race war. Since then, members of The Base have plotted an assassination and several mass shootings, and a number of countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, have designated it as an official terrorist organization alongside ISIS and al Qaeda.  An FBI counterterrorism probe against The Base over the past few years has netted more than a dozen members nationwide (with others apprehended in Europe), who are now serving a combined 100+ years in prison time. Yet Nazzaro, despite being named in U.S. courts as the founder of the group, has never been charged—puzzling many analysts and government sources VICE News has spoken to about him over the years. The first three episodes of American Terror are now available on Spotify. Nazzaro’s situation also begs the question how a neo-Nazi leader who’s well-known to the FBI is living comfortably in Russia, especially after President Vladimir Putin justified his invasion of Ukraine as a “de-Nazification” plan.”

Syria

Eurasia Review: Threat Of Radicalization In Syria’s Isis Prisons – Analysis

“Tens of thousands of ISIS detainees are housed in temporary prison camps and detention centers in Syria and Iraq by US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Charles Lister, the Director of Syria and Countering Terrorism and Extremism Programs at the Middle East Institute, warned that the international community is ‘doing nothing to prevent the current generation of detainees from wanting to continue to fight if they get out, and creating a melting pot for the next generation.’ As reported by Militant Wire, technology and illicit financing are being used by terrorist sympathisers to raise funds for ISIS spouses and children in Syria through encrypted Telegram channels and digital wallets like QIWI. The funds are being raised for two primary reasons—smuggling former detainees from detention camps and targeting low-security detention centres managed by Kurdish militias. There are reportedly at least 14 such facilities in North-East Syria. The US-backed SDF fighters confront multifaceted challenges of managing these makeshift prisons in a war zone. These areas have also faced large-scale prison breaks. The attack at Gweiron prison in January 2022 was aimed at freeing over 3,000 detainees, including 700 minors. ISIS’ news agency, Amaq, claimed that 800 terrorists had been freed.”

AFP: Former Qaeda Affiliate's Syria Advance: What We Know

“Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate is gaining ground from rival rebels in Syria's Turkish-held north on the heels of some of the deadliest inter-rebel fighting in the region in years. Here is what we know of the deadly flareup, which is altering the balance of power in parts of Syria that still evade government control after more than a decade of war. Who is involved? Syrian rebel groups opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's government are mostly confined to the northwestern region of Idlib and northern parts of Aleppo province, near the border with Turkey. Turkey, which has carried out successive cross-border operations in Syria since 2016, has carved out a zone of control in areas near the border with the help of rebel proxies that have repeatedly fought for influence. They include the Al-Jabha al-Shamiya group, which was forced out of the city of Aleppo following bloody battles with government forces in 2016, and the hardline Jaysh al-Islam -- once considered the leading faction in the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, a former rebel bastion. Other groups were formed in the north and include the Sultan Murad Division and the Al-Hamza Brigade. The neighbouring Idlib region is dominated by the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, led by Al-Qaeda's former Syria affiliate. Turkey has never publicly backed the hardline group but is believed to coordinate with its forces, which control the key Bab al-Hawa border crossing.”

Iraq

AFP: Hundreds Linked To Islamic State Moved From Syria To Notorious Camp In Iraq

“Syria’s autonomous Kurdish region has transferred more than 600 relatives of suspected jihadists detained at the notorious Al-Hol camp to Iraq, a war monitor and a Kurdish security source said Tuesday. “The Iraqi government repatriated 161 families, including 659 people, from Al-Hol camp to Iraq,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Iraqi families left Al-Hol camp, which lies less than 10 kilometers (six miles) from the Iraqi border for their home country in a move coordinated by Iraqi authorities, the monitor said. A Kurdish security source who requested anonymity said that 634 Iraqis had crossed from Al-Hol to their country on Tuesday. The overcrowded, Kurdish-run camp is home to 55,000 people, and houses thousands of relatives of suspected Islamic State group members. It is the largest camp for displaced people who fled after IS fighters were dislodged from their last scrap of territory in Syria in 2019. The UN said more than 100 people have been murdered in the increasingly lawless camp since the start of 2021. Kurdish forces arrested more than 200 people last month, after a three-week operation against IS supporters there discovered tunnels used by jihadists and seized an arsenal of weapons. Kurdish authorities have repeatedly called on countries to repatriate their citizens from crowded camps.”

Afghanistan

Voice Of America: Taliban Accused Of Executing 27 ‘Rebel’ Prisoners

“A new investigative report accuses Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers of executing 27 opposition fighters in custody during last month’s military operations in the turbulent northern province of Panjshir. Afghan Witness (AW), an open-source project run by the U.K.-based nonprofit Center for Information Resilience, studied the allegations and published its findings Tuesday, which contradict earlier Taliban claims of killing the men in battlefield clashes. The victims were said to be affiliated with the National Resistance Front (NRF), which has been waging an armed resistance against the Taliban since the Islamist group seized power more than a year ago. AW researchers analyzed dozens of social media videos and photographs to “conclusively link” a group of Taliban fighters to the extrajudicial killings of 10 men in Dara district area. “Five men—one facing the executioners on his knees, the others sitting facing away, all blindfolded with hands bound behind their backs—are repeatedly shot for 20 seconds… accompanied by celebratory cries from the large group of [Taliban] fighters,” the report said, adding that the group of Taliban fighters could be identified with five more men who were later executed. AW researchers had gathered “credible evidence of a further 17 executions and 30 deaths as a result of the Taliban offensive in Panjshir, bringing the total to 57 victims,” the report noted.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Ten Days After Deadly Attack, Security Forces Still Looking For Shuafat Terrorist

“Ten days after Sgt. Noa Lazar was shot and killed while on duty at the Shuafat checkpoint, security forces are still looking for the east Jerusalem terrorist who carried out the attack. Overnight, Israel Police, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Border Police officers arrested seven people suspected of helping the terrorist, 22-year-old Udai Tamimi. The suspects, residents of the Shuafat refugee camp and the nearby West Bank town of Anata, are relatives and acquaintances of Tamimi, the police said in a statement. During searches of the suspects’ homes, security forces confiscated weapons parts, cartridges and vests. During the operation, a riot broke out and local residents threw stones and Molotov cocktails at the forces, who responded with riot-dispersal methods. Lazar, 18, from Bat Hefer, east of Netanya, was killed after Tamimi opened fire on her and a group of security guards at point-blank range after casually exiting a car at the crossing. A 30-year-old security guard is in serious condition with bullet wounds to the head and underwent surgery following the attack. He remains sedated and ventilated in severe condition in the neurosurgery intensive-care unit at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. Shuafat, which is within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, has about 140,000 residents, the majority of whom hold Jerusalem residency ID cards.”

The Jerusalem Post: Lions' Den Terrorist Arrested By Border Police In Samaria

“A member of the Lions' Den terrorist group, which has been behind a series of shooting attacks in recent weeks, was arrested in the village of Salem in the northern West Bank on Tuesday, according to Border Police.

The member was identified as Sahib Shtayyeh, the brother of senior Hamas operative Musab Shtayyeh. The arrest was conducted as a joint operation between the Yamas counter-terrorism unit, the Shin Bet and the Samaria Regional Brigade. Musab Shtayyeh was arrested by Palestinian Authority security forces last month, sparking violent clashes in Nablus between protesters and PA security forces. While a PA court ordered his release, he has not as of yet been released.”

Nigeria

Reuters: Gunmen Abduct At Least 10 Hospital Workers In Nigeria's Niger State

“Gunmen have abducted at least 10 healthcare workers in Nigeria's Niger state and killed an unspecified number after bandits invaded a general hospital early on Tuesday, a hospital and military source said. Armed bandits operating for cash have kidnapped or killed hundreds across northwest Nigeria. Niger state officials have said that Islamist militant group Boko Haram had taken over multiple communities in the state, offering villagers money and incorporating them in their ranks to fight the government. The hospital source said more than 20 staff were kidnapped, including patient relatives, while the security source said two people had been killed after the gunmen invaded the general hospital in Lapai local government in large numbers. Niger state governor, Sani Bello said a number of people were killed during Tuesday's attack at Gulu General Hospital and unspecified number abducted including medical workers. He did not specify how many had been killed. Separately, Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya, president of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), told Reuters that 20 NARD members have been kidnapped this year, causing some of them to leave the country partly due to a lack of safety.”

Sahara Reporters: ISWAP Terrorists Claim Responsibility For Attack On Kogi State Church, Killing Of Two Worshippers

“The Islamic State-backed faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), formerly known as Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād, has confirmed that it carried out an attack on a church in Kogi State. The attack was the sixth to be claimed by the group in the state in the last six months. SaharaReporters had earlier reported today that gunmen on Sunday invaded a Celestial Church, Blood of Jesus Parish in Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State, killing two persons and injuring several others. The church is located behind the NNPC Mega petrol station in Felele axis along Abuja-Lokoja-Okene highway of Lokoja. The two dead members were reported to have been evacuated from the church and deposited at the Federal Medical Centre, Lokoja while the injured were rushed to the same hospital for treatment. The attack of the Celestial church is the second in recent times in that area of Lokoja. Few weeks ago, another church was attacked at Sarkin Numan around the Felele area of Lokoja. ISWAP in a post on Tuesday said the attack was carried out by “soldiers of the caliphate.” On April 23, gunmen attacked a police station in the same Adavi LGA in the state, which resulted in the death of three police officers. Some days later, ISWAP claimed responsibility for the attack.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Troops Capture Fresh Villages From Al-Shabaab

“Al-Shabaab lost small but strategic villages in southern Somalia to the country's national army during a military operation on Tuesday. MP Osman Hadole, an ex-military officer played role in the offensive that led to the capture of Jameo Misra, Maqdis, Bardhere, Gashanle, Tugaarey, Jameo Mubarak, and others. The villages taken by the army are all located on the eastern outskirts of Bal'ad town within the Middle Shabelle region, which lies about 30 kilometers north of Mogadishu. The residents confirmed that the army forces moved into the villages without resistance from Al-Shabaab militants who made a surprise withdrawal ahead of the capture. Somali troops are making territorial gains in central Somalia against Al-Shabaab as the government aims to take control of entire regions that remained under the group's control.”

Mali

Reuters: Death Toll Rises To Four U.N. Peacekeepers Killed In Mali Attack

“A United Nations peacekeeper has succumbed to injuries sustained in an attack in northern Mali on Monday, bringing the death toll to four, the U.N. mission in Mali said on Tuesday. The United Nations had previously said three peacekeepers were killed and three others seriously injured when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in the northern region of Kidal. Islamist militants, some with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State, have been waging an insurgency in northern Mali for the last decade.”

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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