Eye on Extremism: October 4, 2021

The Wall Street Journal: Kabul Faces Blackout As Taliban Don’t Pay Electricity Suppliers

“Afghanistan’s capital could be plunged into darkness as the winter sets in because the country’s new Taliban rulers haven’t paid Central Asian electricity suppliers or resumed collecting money from consumers. Unless addressed, the situation could cause a humanitarian disaster, warned Daud Noorzai, who resigned as chief executive of the country’s state power monopoly, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat, nearly two weeks after the Taliban’s takeover on Aug. 15. “The consequences would be countrywide, but especially in Kabul. There will be blackout and it would bring Afghanistan back to the Dark Ages when it comes to power and to telecommunications,” said Mr. Noorzai, who remains in close contact with DABS’s remaining management. “This would be a really dangerous situation.” Electricity imports from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan account for half of Afghanistan’s power consumption nationwide, with Iran providing additional supplies to the country’s west. Domestic production, mostly at hydropower stations, has been affected by this year’s drought. Afghanistan lacks a national power grid, and Kabul depends almost completely on imported power from Central Asia. Currently, power is abundant in the Afghan capital, a rare—if transient—improvement since the Taliban takeover.”

Associated Press: Officials: Clashes Among Separatists In South Yemen Kill 10

“Clashes between Yemeni separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates and a rival splinter group in the southern port city of Aden killed at least 10 people including four civilians Saturday, security officials said. The fighting has taken place in Aden’s residential neighborhood of Crater, where the presidential palace and other government buildings are located, they said. It pits forces of the secessionist Southern Transitional Council against an armed religious group that was once part of the council, according to the officials. The armed group is led by Brig. Imam al-Noubi, a Salafi officer who commanded a faction of the separatist militia known as the Security Belt. He fell out with the council leader two years ago, according to one official. The officials said a dozen fighters were also wounded in the clashes, which had subsided by Saturday evening after the Security Belt deployed reinforcements, including armored vehicles, to the neighborhood. The Security Belt called for Crater’s residents to remain at their homes, as “Aden’s security forces and counter-terrorism forces clear the area from some groups and terrorist hotbeds.” Residents reported hearing heavy gunfire and shelling that hit apartment buildings.”

United States

The Washington Post: For Years, The Voice Behind ISIS Propaganda Was A Mystery. Now A Canadian Faces Criminal Charges.

“A Canadian who U.S. prosecutors allege is behind influential English-language propaganda videos for the Islamic State has been brought to Virginia to be prosecuted. Mohammed Khalifa, 38, was captured by Kurdish forces in Syria in 2019. At that point, according to prosecutors, he had been with the Islamic State for six years. He started as a fighter, according to court documents, before becoming involved in the translation and dissemination of English-language propaganda. He ultimately led ISIS’s English-language media arm, prosecutors allege, whose output included videos, audio statements and an online magazine. Prosecutors say Khalifa narrated over a dozen ISIS recruitment videos, including two of the group’s most influential efforts at luring Westerners: “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun,” in 2014, and “Flames of War II: Until the Final Hour,” in 2017. In the videos, according to court records, Khalifa encouraged supporters to try to join the Islamic State abroad or, if they could not, to launch attacks in their home countries. One video included a voice recording of the man who declared his allegiance to ISIS before committing a massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in 2016.”

Los Angeles Blade: Amazon Is Selling Books That Promote Violence From A Neo-Nazi Publisher

“…The publisher of the books, the American Futurist, describes itself as seeking “to spread the message and ideas of James Mason” through “the promotion of books, articles and all other forms of media.” Mason, a neo-Nazi writer whose work is cited in The Movementarian Menace, is also a major influence behind Atomwaffen Division, a violent white nationalist terrorist group. As noted by the Counter Extremism Project, the American Futurist is associated with Atomwaffen Division (also known as the National Socialist Order) and multiple ex-members of the group have contributed content to American Futurist. One such contributor is the author of The Movementarian Menace, Vincent Snyder, whose real name, the American Futurist notes, is John Cameron Denton. Denton, himself the former leader of Atomwaffen Division, was sentenced to 41 months in prison in May for taking part in a conspiracy that involved hate crimes targeting a historic African American church, an Islamic Center, and various other minority groups across the United States. American Futurist states that all proceeds from the sale of Denton’s book on Amazon will go to his “prison commissary fund.” As Amazon has already purchased the books as part of its inventory, the company has already contributed directly to Denton.”

Syria

Kurdistan 24: SDF Prevents Massive Bombing In Former ISIS Capital

“The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Sunday that they prevented a massive bombing in Raqqa by ISIS cells last Friday. During the operation, two ISIS suspects were killed. The SDF press centre said in a statement that SDF special units conducted a qualitative security operation against a “dangerous Daesh (ISIS) cell north of Raqqa city.” “Based on the intelligence gathered by our competent agencies, we confirmed that the cell was preparing to conduct a massive bombing in Raqqa city using a car bomb,” the SDF said. The SDF added that during the operation clashes erupted with the terrorist suspects resulting “in (the) killing two of them, destroying the car bomb, and arresting three others. One of the killed terrorists was responsible for the IEDs and bombings.” “The security operation saved Raqqa from a big attack, and it is considered a heavy blow to Daesh’s (ISIS) attempts to realign its terrorist cells in the region.” Raqqa was liberated from ISIS in October 2017 by the SDF with support from the US-led coalition. Despite the SDF and the US-led coalition announcing the defeat of the extremist group’s so-called caliphate on March 23, 2019, Islamic State sleeper cell attacks continue in areas that were liberated from the militants.”

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Bomb At Kabul Mosque Kills 5 Civilians, Taliban Say

“At least five civilians were killed in a bomb blast outside a Kabul mosque Sunday, a Taliban official said. It was the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since U.S. forces left at the end of August. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on Islamic State extremists who have stepped up attacks on the Taliban in recent weeks, particularly in an IS stronghold in eastern Afghanistan. An apparent roadside bomb went off at the gate of the sprawling Eid Gah Mosque in Kabul at a time when a memorial service was being held for the mother of chief Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. Five people were killed, said Qari Saeed Khosti, the spokesman of the Interior Ministry. The explosion underscored the growing challenges the Taliban face just weeks after they took control of Afghanistan in a blitz campaign, culminating in their takeover of Kabul on Aug. 15.”

Associated Press: Gunmen Kill 2 Taliban, 2 Civilians In Eastern Afghan City

“Gunmen shot and killed two Taliban fighters and two civilians on Saturday in the eastern city of Jalalabad, a Taliban official said. Two other civilians were wounded in the attack, said Mohammad Hanif, a cultural official for the city’s surrounding province, Nangarhar. No one claimed responsibility for the shooting, but the Islamic State group, which has a strong presence in Nangarhar and considers the Taliban an enemy, has previously claimed several attacks against them, including several killings in Jalalabad. The two civilians killed were Sayed Maroof Sadat, a former spokesman for the Nangarhar department of agriculture, and his cousin, Sharif Sadat told the AP. Sadat’s son was among the two wounded, he added. Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August, attacks by IS militants against them have increased. The rise has raised the specter of a wider conflict between the two extremist groups. On Friday, Taliban fighters raided a hideout of the Islamic State group north of Kabul, killing and arresting an unspecified number of militants, a Taliban spokesman said. IS activity in Nangarhar province has also led to Taliban crackdowns there.”

Associated Press: Taliban Say They Have Raided IS Hideout North Of Kabul

“Taliban fighters raided a hideout of the Islamic State group north of the Afghan capital on Friday, killing and arresting an unspecified number of militants, a Taliban spokesman said. Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August, there has been an increase in attacks by IS militants targeting Taliban members. The Taliban and IS are enemies, and the attacks have raised the specter of a wider conflict between the long-time rivals. In late August, an IS suicide bomber targeted U.S. evacuation efforts outside Kabul international airport in one of the deadliest attacks in the country in years. The blast killed 169 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members. Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi told The Associated Press that Friday’s raid took place in the city of Charikar in Parwan province. He did not provide more details and his statement could not be independently verified.”

Pakistan

The New York Times: Pakistan In Talks With Taliban Militants, Even As Attacks Ramp Up

“Pakistan is holding talks with factions of the Pakistani Taliban, a banned militant group responsible for some of the country’s worst terrorist attacks, and would forgive members who lay down their weapons, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Friday. Although details of the talks were unclear, negotiations with the group known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or T.T.P., would be the most significant development since similar efforts failed in 2014 and Pakistan turned to a massive military operation to diminish the group. “There are different groups which form the Pakistani Taliban, or T.T.P.,” Mr. Khan said in an interview with the Turkish state television station TRT World. “We are in talks with some of them on a reconciliation process. We might not reach some sort of conclusion or settlement in the end, but we are talking.” In a statement soon after Mr. Khan’s interview, the T.T.P. called on its fighters to continue their attacks. It denied divisions in its ranks and made no acknowledgment of the ongoing talks. It also claimed responsibility for a deadly assault on a Pakistani military convoy on Friday, the latest in a spate of such attacks.”

The Hill: ISIS Takes Credit For Killing Sikh In Pakistan

“The Islamic State said in a statement on Friday that it was behind the fatal shooting of a Sikh in Pakistan on Thursday, the Associated Press reported. Several men, whom ISIS identified as its gunmen, fatally shot Satnam Singh, 45, who sold herbal medicine at a clinic in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's provincial capital near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, according to the news outlet. The ISIS statement called Singh a “polytheist,” or a person who believes in more than one deity. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion. A local community leader, Sardar Harpal Singh, who is not related to the victim, called for the individuals who shot Singh and fled the scene to be arrested. In the last few years, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacking religious minority groups, religious sites and political protests though officials in the country have claimed that the members of the militant group are officially situated in Pakistan. In late August, 11 ISIS members were killed by Pakistan’s counterterrorism units after ISIS members had recently murdered two police officers. The group, which has operated in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, has conducted attacks in the provincial capital of Balochistan in past years.”

Nigeria


AFP: Nigeria: Islamic State Attacks Surrendered Rivals, Boko Haram

“Lake Chad region, where multiple national borders meet, is struggling with inter-factional jihadist fighting Islamic State-allied jihadists have attacked a camp housing surrendered rivals from Boko Haram in the country's northeast, the military said on Sunday. Saturday's attack on Damboa in Borno State came after several thousand Boko Haram militants and their families surrendered in recent months following the death of their leader in May. Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) has emerged as the dominant force in Nigeria's 12-year conflict, but factions of Boko Haram are still fighting against their control. The army said troops drove back ISWAP fighters who tried to attack the camp where surrendered Boko Haram jihadists were being held, but the statement did not give any casualty figures. “This antic of terror within terror is being employed by ISWAP to discourage intending surrendering terrorists in their ranks,” it said. ISWAP has been consolidating in areas it controls in northeast Nigeria since May when Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau killed himself to avoid capture by jihadist rivals. But infighting between ISWAP and a pro-Shekau faction in the Lake Chad region left scores of fighters dead last week, according to security and civilian sources in the area.”

Reuters: Boko Haram Moves Into North-Central Nigeria In Apparent Expansion – Officials

“Boko Haram insurgents have taken over multiple communities in Nigeria's north-central Niger state, offering villagers money and incorporating them in their ranks to fight the government, a local government official and the state's information commission told Reuters. The Islamist group is typically concentrated in the northeast of Africa's most populous nation, and its presence in Niger, a state that borders the federal capital territory, could indicate a concerning spread at a time the military says its counter-insurgency efforts are working. Suleiman Chukuba, chairman of Shiroro local government area in Niger state, which borders Abuja, said Boko Haram fighters were now present in at least eight wards out of a total 25.”

Somalia

Reuters: Somali Militia, Former Government Ally, Captures Two Towns From Federal Forces

“A militia previously allied to the Somali government in its fight against militant group al Shabaab has captured two towns in central Somalia from federal forces, saying it was taking control where the government had failed to end the insurgency. On Thursday, Somali federal forces attacked the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama'a (ASWJ) militia in Galmudug state, culminating in fighting that saw its troops ousted from the towns of Mataban and Guriceel, spokespeople for both ASWJ and the Somali National Army (SNA) told Reuters. The army accused the ASWJ of planning to attack its troops, which the group denied. “Yesterday, we attacked ASWJ ... because we knew they were planning to attack us,” Captain Nur Abdullahi, an officer for the SNA told Reuters from the Galmudug capital. Sheikh Ismail Farah, a spokesman for ASWJ, said the group had had no such plans and did not want to fight the government. “We are ready to eliminate al Shabaab. Al Shabaab is our common enemy,” he said. The group has not denied the army's accusation that ASWJ fighters had been fighting al Shabaab unilaterally. The ASWJ says the government has failed to put an end to al Shabaab's insurgency and that the situation in Galmudug state in particular is precarious.”

Mali

Associated Press: UN Says 1 Peacekeeper Killed, 4 Injured In Mali Bomb Attack

“A U.N. convoy in Mali’s northern Kidal region was attacked by improvised explosive devices, killing one peacekeeper from Egypt and seriously injuring four others, the United Nations said Saturday. The attack on the convoy from the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali took place near Tessalit, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Malian authorities “to spare no effort in identifying the perpetrators of these attacks so that they can be brought to justice swiftly,” reiterating that attacks against peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law, Dujarric said. Guterres reaffirmed the U.N.’s support for the government and people of Mali and expressed deep condolences to the family of the Egyptian soldier who was killed and to the government and people of Egypt, and wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured. Mali has been trying to contain an Islamic extremist insurgency since 2012. Extremist rebels were forced from power in Mali’s northern cities with the help of a 2013 French-led military operation. However, the insurgents quickly regrouped in the desert and began launching frequent attacks on the Malian army and its allies fighting the insurgency.”

Africa

Financial Times: Rwanda Flexes Muscles In Fight Against Terror In Mozambique

“The moment Yussuf Abdallah met the Rwandan soldiers he knew the game was up. The 18-year-old Islamist insurgent in northern Mozambique was part of a group known to local people as Shabaab. It has loose ties with Isis and has over the past four years terrorised the northern province of Cabo Delgado, displacing more than 800,000 and killing more than 3,000. But then troops from a country barely a fraction of Mozambique’s size showed up and cleaned up most of the area in a matter of weeks. “We were overwhelmed by their number, they were also extremely fierce,” said Abdallah, now a prisoner of the Mozambican state in the coastal city of Mocímboa de Praia, until August an insurgents’ stronghold. “We couldn’t contain the confrontation, they have better weaponry, we couldn’t do anything.” Rwanda’s 1,000-strong brigade of soldiers and police achieved in weeks what Mozambican and other forces had been unable to do in years. The turn of events in Cabo Delgado illustrates Kigali’s willingness under president Paul Kagame to reach beyond its borders and act as police officer in regional disputes. The Rwandan efforts have not only restored calm and security — allowing families who had fled the terror to return home — but will also help revive the development of multibillion dollar offshore gas riches, which has the potential to transform Mozambique’s $14bn economy.”

AFP: Rwanda Arrests 13 Suspected Of Plotting 'Terrorist' Attacks

“Rwandan police said on Friday they had arrested 13 people suspected of plotting "terrorist" attacks in the capital Kigali and paraded them before the media. The suspects were arrested with bomb-making materials including explosives, wires, nails and phones, Rwandan National Police said in a statement. "Investigations have revealed that the terror cell worked with Allied Democratic Forces (ADF)," it said, referring to a suspected jihadist group active in the east of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The feared ADF, historically a Ugandan rebel group, has been accused of killing thousands of civilians in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some of its attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State Group, which has designated the ADF as Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP).”

France

BBC News: Paris Attacks: Haunting Survivors' Memories Shake Terror Trial

“Survivors of the terror attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in November 2015 have begun describing their ordeal in a Paris courtroom this week. The suspects on trial include Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving member of the IS cell that targeted the city on a busy Friday night. For the next five weeks around 350 survivors and relatives of the dead are scheduled to give their accounts. Some have already proved to be unbearably poignant.

Warning: You may find some of the details in this piece upsetting. On Wednesday, Maya told how she lost her husband Amine and two friends in the shootings at Le Carillon bar, where 11 people died. Like many she asked for her surname not to be released. On the evening of 13 November 2015, she was at Le Carillon with Amine, his old friend Mehdi, and twin sisters Emilie and Charlotte Meaud. [Amine] was my first love. We spoke of the children we would have together. He was beautiful, sunny. He was a great cook. He was funny. He was the man of my life. I remember exactly what we were talking about. I was 27 at the time and others were 29, so we were talking about their 30th birthdays. It's all a big confusion, out of which words and sounds and images come up to the surface.”

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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