Eye on Extremism: October 20, 2022

Reuters: Explainer: Pakistan Hopes To Get Off Global Dirty Money Watchdog's 'Grey List'

“The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money laundering and terrorism financing watchdog, starts a two-day meeting in Paris on Thursday and is expected to take up removal of Pakistan from a list of countries under "increased monitoring". In a meeting in June, the FATF said it was keeping Pakistan on the list - also known as the "grey list" - but said it might be removed after an on-site visit to verify progress. Last month, Pakistan's foreign office said a FATF technical team had conducted a "successful" visit and Islamabad was expecting a "logical conclusion" of the evaluation process in October. Here are some key points: WHAT WOULD IT MEAN FOR PAKISTAN? Pakistan was listed in 2018 because of "strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies." FATF gave the country a wide-ranging reforms programme. If removed from the list, Pakistan would essentially receive a reputational boost and get a clean bill of health from the international community on terrorist financing.”

Associated Press: Militant Hamas Group Back In Damascus After Years Of Tension

“Two senior officials from the Palestinian militant Hamas group visited Syria’s capital Wednesday in the first such visit since the faction was forced to leave the war-torn country a decade ago over backing armed opposition fighters. The visit appears to be a first step toward full reconciliation between Hamas and the Syrian government and follows a monthslong mediation by Iran and Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group — both key backers of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Over the years, Tehran and the Iran-backed Hezbollah have maintained their relations with Hamas, despite Assad’s rift with the Palestinian militants. Before the rift, Hamas had long kept a political base in Syria, receiving Damascus’ support in its campaign against Israel. Hamas’ powerful leadership-in-exile remained in Syria even after the group took power in the Gaza Strip in 2007. But when Syria tipped into civil war, Hamas broke with Assad and sided with the rebels fighting to oust him. The rebels are largely Sunni Muslims, like Hamas, and scenes of Sunni civilian deaths raised an outcry across the region against Assad, who belongs to the Alawites, a minority Shiite sect in Syria. Over the past few years, Syrian government forces have captured much of Syria with the help of Assad’s main backers Russia and Iran. The 11-year conflict has killed hundreds of thousands, destroyed large parts of the country and displaced half of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million, including more than 5 million refugees outside the country.”


The Nation: Pakistan Witnesses 51pc Increase In Terrorist Attacks In A Year

“The perils of Taliban-led regime in Kabul have become unmistakably clear for Pakistan as the country has witnessed an unbelievable 51 percent increase in the number of terrorist attacks in a single year since the militant group seized power in Afghanistan in August last year. According to details, as many as 433 people were killed and 719 wounded in 250 terrorist attacks in Pakistan between 15 August 2021 and 14 August 2022. In the corresponding year between 15 August 2020 and 14 August 2021, the country witnessed 165 attacks that killed 294 people and injured 598 others. These are some of the findings disseminated in the fifth issue of Islamabad-based Pak Institute of Peace Studies’ (PIPS) Paper Series released here on Wednesday. The purpose of this series of analytical papers is to expand the knowledge base and awareness of key stakeholders on Pakistan’s Afghan perspective, and its role and interest in Afghan peace and reconciliation. “The mindless jubilation over Taliban victory is now turning into a rude shock because the evolving security situation under the erratic Taliban rule indicates Pakistan is about to face yet another ordeal viz-aviz terrorism,” according to one of the findings. The issue quoting a United Nations report says that there is no sign that Taliban regime is taking steps to limit the activities of foreign terrorist groups on Afghan soil. The UN report also notes that foreign terrorist groups based in Afghanistan take the Taliban victory as a motivation to disseminate their propaganda in Central and South Asia, and globally.”

Saudi Arabia

Reuters: Saudi Arabia Frees Senior Hamas Official

“Saudi authorities released a senior official of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas after over three years in detention, an official of the Islamist faction said. Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said in a statement the official, Mohammad Al-Khodary, 83, whom Saudi authorities detained in 2019 along with dozens of others, was on board a plane heading to Jordan. "I spoke to him and he is in good spirit. He hopes and he prays that the rest of his detained brothers be freed," said Reshiq. There was no immediate reply from Saudi officials on a Reuters request for comment. Hamas was formed in the 1980s as an offshoot of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood but has more recently stressed its basis as a Palestinian liberation movement, in part to defuse Egyptian enmity and draw support from wealthy Arab states. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt have cracked down against the Brotherhood, which they view as a threat to their systems of rule. The detentions and some trials before Saudi courts of Khodary, Hamas's former envoy to the Kingdom, and others, on ground of their support for Hamas, caused further tensions in relations between the two sides. Reshiq hoped Khodary's release could lead to some improvement.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Terrorists Fire At IDF Forces At The Jalameh Crossing, Terrorist Fled The Scene - Reports

“According to Israeli media reports, terrorists shot at IDF forces during a riot at the Jalameh crossing. Three suspects approached under the cover of the riots with one of them having a suspicious item in his hand. IDF soldiers at the scene fired in the air and one of the terrorists threw the suspicious object, which turned out to be a bomb while another terrorist fired toward the crossing.”


All Africa: Nigeria: Boko Haram Killed 100,000, Displaced Over 2 Million - Defence Chief

“The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, yesterday said the Boko Haram insurgency led to the deaths of 100,000 persons and the displacement of over two million others. He disclosed this in Abuja at the closing ceremony of the 2022 Ministerial Performance Review Retreat. He also said the insurgency caused the country $9 billion (N3.24 trillion) worth of damages. He said the insurgency was now restricted to a corner of the territory they previously inhabited even though they had made some inroads into the North West. Irabor said the Armed Forces had received N2.5 trillion in seven years in budgetary provisions and had been able to “tremendously” increased internal security operations. However, he regretted that the amount received was just 35 per cent of the Armed Forces' requirements and below 0.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). On the Armed Forces' operations in the Niger Delta, he said militancy had transmuted to crude oil theft.”


AFP: Al-Shabaab Attack Kills Two In Central Somalia

“A suicide attack by the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab killed two people including a soldier in central Somalia on Wednesday, a local military official told AFP. A vehicle laden with weapons ploughed into a military checkpoint in the Hiran region in a “kamikaze” attack, said army official Abdirahman Osobow. Osobow said two people including a soldier died in an “enormous” explosion and blamed Al-Shabaab, a group linked with Al-Qaeda that has waged an insurgency against the Somali state for 15 years. The attack “could have done more damage, but the security forces managed to contain it before it reached its main target”, he added. Despite being ousted from Somalia's major cities, including the capital Mogadishu in 2011, Al-Shabaab controls swathes of the countryside and civilians are often caught in the crossfire. Among the group's string of recent attacks was a siege of a Mogadishu hotel in September that lasted 30 hours and led to the deaths of 21 people, with another 17 wounded. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has faced a sharp increase in Al-Shabaab activity since his election in May and has promised to wage an “all-our war” against them. The Somali government earlier this month announced that Abdullahi Yare, a key Al-Shabaab leader with a $3-million bounty on his head, had been killed in an air strike led by the army and international security partners.”

All Africa: Somalia: Govt Welcomes U.S. Decision To Sanction Al-Shabaab Financiers

“The Federal Government of Somalia has welcomed the move by the United States government's Treasury Department to impose sanctions on individuals who support the financial and logistical support of the Al-Shabab terrorist group. The different sectors of the economy in Somalia are instructed to avoid dealing with and cooperating with these criminal individuals mentioned in this list of sanctions. The action taken by the US Treasury was the result of investigations conducted jointly by the two governments of Somalia and the United States and is part of the fight to eliminate terrorists who misuse Islam and shed the blood of innocent Muslims. This decision also coincides with the Somali government recently issuing directives to warn anyone who collects funds or funds for terrorism. The armed forces of Somalia, with the help of the people who are tired of the terrorist acts in the country, have achieved great success in the fight against the ruthless groups that hide behind the religion of Islam. The losses of the Kharijite militias include deaths, injuries and many others who surrendered or were captured.”


Military Times: Pentagon Says Terror Attacks In Africa Increased 300% Over Last Decade

“Islamic extremism has exploded in Africa despite ongoing efforts by U.S. Africa Command to stifle terrorism on the continent, an August report from the Pentagon revealed. Conducted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the Pentagon’s premier analysis branch for the region, the report noted a staggering 300 percent increase in militant Islamist violence over the course of the last decade. More than 6,200 violent events were attributed to terrorist groups in 2022, a 21 percent increase from the previous year, the report noted. Almost 15,000 deaths were linked to the increase in terrorist-related activity. Nearly 95 percent of the incident surge since 2019 has come from two areas — Somalia and the western Sahel, a semi-arid region crossing northern Africa between the Sahara to the north and tropical savannas to the south. Both Somalia and the Sahel are actively hosting U.S. troops, but if the aforementioned statistics are any indication, that military presence has not stemmed the violence, bringing into question the effectiveness of U.S. operations in Africa, training or otherwise. AFRICOM currently has approximately 6,000 U.S. troops on the continent, with the greatest concentrations of U.S. personnel in West Africa and Djibouti. According to documents obtained by Rolling Stone, U.S. special operations troops deployed to 17 African nations in 2021. Naval exercises were also held last year with troops from Mauritius, Madagascar and the Seychelles.”


ABC News Australia: Adelaide Teen To Confess To Possessing Extremist Material, Youth Court Hears

“A 15-year-old Adelaide schoolboy will confess to possessing “extremely depraved” extremist material and coaching others online about how to make bombs, a court has heard. Prosecutors have asked the South Australian Youth Court to sentence the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, as an adult in the District Court, where a bigger penalty could be imposed. If he is sentenced in the Youth Court, he faces a maximum of three years' detention. Prosecutor Amy Winra told the court that the “gravity of the offending” meant the boy should be sentenced as an adult. “This is not simply a case of a collection of a large volume of extremist material, which can only be categorised as extremely depraved and horrific in nature,” Ms Winra said. “The offending goes beyond that — there are active steps by the accused to provide guidance to others online on how to make explosives, suggesting he had a technical capacity to do so in pledging allegiance to the bay'a.” The concept of “bay'a” is to pledge allegiance to Islamic State. She said detention centre staff also found drawings in his room of the Islamic State flag. Chris Weir, for the boy, told Youth Court Judge Penny Eldridge that his client would plead guilty to the crimes, but further negotiations were needed to consolidate some of the counts before he officially entered his pleas. “He's a young lad who was entrenched in his education and has a family who continues to support him,” Mr Weir said.”


The Advocate: Terrorist Who Killed 2 At Gay Bar Inspired By Buffalo Shooter

“Slovakian police officials have recategorized an attack on the LGBTQ+ community as terrorism, while the gunman’s haunting words indicate an obsession with mass shooters. Last Wednesday, a gunman who attacked the LGBTQ+ community in Bratislava described the Buffalo supermarket shooter as his inspiration for committing terrorist acts. Shortly after 7 p.m., a shooter opened fire outside the Teplaren bar in Bratislava's city center, killing two people and wounding a third. A Twitter account believed to be the shooter, 19-year-old Juraj Krajcik, tweeted the hashtags “#bratislava #hatecrime #gaybar” and “feeling no regrets, isn’t that funny?” Police found his body the next day. He'd died by suicide. The Prime Minister of Slovakia, Eduard Heger, condemned the killing of the two young people by the radicalized teen. “No form of white supremacy, racism and #extremism against communities, incl. #LGBTI, can be tolerated. We will fight disinfo channels spreading hate &protect minorities,” he wrote. Investigators in Slovakia called the shooting a terrorist attack Monday, motivated by hatred of the LGBTQ+ community. Homeland Security Today reports that Krajcik tweeted a selfie standing across from Teplaren, with the bar in frame in mid-August, followed by an ominous tweet in September writing that “in all likelyhood (sic) I will die in the course of the operation.”

European Eye On Radicalization: A New Approach Is Needed To Deal With Islamist Terrorist Prisoners

“Belgium, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom carry most of the convicted terrorist prisoners’ burden in Europe. Between them, at the last count, this amounts to well over a thousand violent extremists scatted throughout dozens of jails, some with specialised units, and others warehoused in close proximity to other prisoners susceptible to their toxic ideologies. Ideologically motivated offenders are a relatively recent phenomenon—in scale terms anyway—outside Spain and the U.K., who have been dealing with ethno-nationalist separatists using terrorist violence since the 1970s. Even with this long experience, neither country sought to challenge and modify the views of jailed extremists. But now, our high-security jails are filled with Islamist extremists who operate by markedly different standards. While the U.K. and Spain grappled with Irish and Basque separatists, these terrorists were not aiming for a worldwide caliphate that would subjugate all other faiths and make war on liberal democracy as such. Nor, despite their immense cruelty, did the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) or Basque Homeland and Liberty (ETA) operate under the pretext of divine permission to murder civilians.”


NPR: Online Platforms Radicalized The Buffalo Mass Shooting Suspect, A New Report Says

“Five months after the deadly mass shooting that claimed the lives of 10 Black people and injured three others at a Buffalo, N.Y. grocery store, the New York Attorney General's office released a scathing report calling on the state legislature to pass new laws to stop the livestreaming of homicides. Released by State Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday, the 49-page report alleges that several online platforms played roles in radicalizing the alleged gunman, 19-year-old Payton Gendron. At the federal level, Gendron is facing a 27-count indictment — including 10 counts of hate crimes resulting in death and three counts of hate crimes involving an attempt to kill. He has been held without bail since his arrest after the May 14 shooting. The attorney general's office reviewed thousands of pages of documents and social media content to study how Gendron allegedly used online platforms to plan, prepare and publicize the mass shooting on May 14, according to a news release. The report also examined several online platforms used by Gendron, including 4chan, 8kun, Reddit, Discord, Twitch, and YouTube. Additionally, officials examined social media platforms that displayed graphic content of the mass shooting or parts of the shooter's writings, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and Rumble.”

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