Eye on Extremism: October 5, 2023

Associated Press: Turkey Strikes Kurdish Militants In Iraq Again After Warning Of Retaliation For A Bombing In Ankara

“Turkish warplanes launched a new round of airstrikes against Kurdish militant targets in Iraq on Wednesday hours after the foreign minister warned that Turkey would hit the militant group’s positions in Syria and Iraq in retaliation for a suicide bombing in Ankara earlier this week. The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack outside the Interior Ministry in Ankara in which one attacker blew himself up and another would-be bomber was killed in a shootout with police. Two police were wounded in the attack. The Turkish jets targeted 22 suspected PKK positions in northern Iraq on Wednesday, destroying caves, shelters and depots used by the militants, the Turkish defense ministry said. The PKK maintains bases in the region, where its leadership has a foothold. It was the Turkish air force’s third airstrike against suspected Kurdish militant sites in northern Iraq following the attack, which came as parliament prepared to reopen after a long summer recess. Meanwhile, dozens of people suspected of links to the PKK have been detained in a series of raids across Turkey.”

Associated Press: Pakistani Army Says Taliban Guard Killed 2 People. UN Is Concerned Over Crackdown On Afghan Migrants

“A Taliban guard opened fire at civilians at a border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing two people, including a 12-year-old boy, the Pakistani military said. Another child was wounded in the shooting at the Chaman border crossing in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province. The military said in a statement that Pakistani troops “exercised extreme restraint” to avoid more casualties in the shooting. The army did not say anything on the Afghan Taliban guard’s possible motives for opening fire and there was no immediate comment from Afghanistan’s Taliban government. Pakistan has asked the Afghan Taliban authorities to investigate the “irresponsible and reckless act, apprehend and hand over the culprit to Pakistani authorities,” the military also said. On Tuesday, Pakistan announced a major crackdown on migrants who are in the country illegally, many of them from Afghanistan, and said it would expel them, starting next month. The announcement raised alarm among foreigners who are in Pakistan without documentation — including an estimated 1.7 million Afghans. Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti said the crackdown was not aimed at Afghans and would apply to all nationalities.”

United States

Washington Examiner: US Has Its 'Boot On The Neck' Of ISIS, But Concerns It Could Grow In Afghanistan Remain

“The threat the Islamic State terror group poses to the United States is limited at this point but still very real, according to a top military official. U.S. forces are "in a good spot right now" as it relates to ISIS's status in Syria but do "not necessarily" have "the touch of everything that's going on" as it relates to the Afghanistan branch of the Islamic State, known as Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), according to Lt. Gen. Alexus Grynkewich, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central. "ISIS probably isn't something to worry about. We've got them down — visually, I think of being on the ground and we've got our boot on their neck, if you will. So they're not in a position, ISIS in Syria, they're not in a position to take significant action against us," he said during a Defense Writers Group event on Wednesday. "They do have a fair number of cells. They've got a few senior leaders, they've got a few training grounds that are beyond the area where coalition forces routinely operate." The U.S. still conducts operations against ISIS fighters, including 36 operations in August, which resulted in the deaths of 7 ISIS operatives and the apprehension of 25 more, Central Command said. U.S. forces most recently captured Mamduh Ibrahim al-Haji Shaykh, whom CENTCOM spokesman Lt. Col. Troy Garlock described as an "ISIS facilitator," in a successful helicopter raid in northern Syria last week.”

The Jerusalem Post: 128% Increase In Antisemitic Incidents In Illinois - ADI Report

“A staggering 128% increase in antisemitic incidents was observed in Illinois in 2022 compared to 2021, as per the latest report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) this week. The report sheds light on the broader surge in hate and extremist activities within the Prairie State, highlighting the pressing challenges faced by its residents. In a particularly alarming event in May 2023, Philip Buyno of Prophetstown attempted to destroy a forthcoming women’s health clinic in Danville, Illinois, in a violent act against abortion rights. After failing, he was arrested and later conveyed to the FBI that he would "finish the job" if given another opportunity. The report delves deep into various extremist groups and movements active in Illinois. "Over the past several years, Americans have witnessed a barrage of extremist activity... Illinoisans have watched these same hatreds – and more – manifest in their own state," the ADL report stated. The 128% increase in antisemitic incidents in 2022 has been compared to 2021, escalating from 53 to 121. Preliminary data up to June 2023 shows at least 33 more antisemitic incidents in Illinois.”

The New York Times: The Brooklyn Subway Shooter Faces Sentencing On 10 Terrorism Counts

“Frank James, who last year positioned himself in a subway car to create a “kill funnel” and then unleashed a barrage of bullets that miraculously killed no one, is set to be sentenced in a federal court in Brooklyn on Thursday. Mr. James, who walked away after the crime, had pleaded guilty to 10 counts of terrorism in January, one for each person shot in the attack, which unfolded on a busy N train during the morning rush hour on April 12, 2022. All the victims survived, albeit with long-lasting injuries and psychological damage. The government asked the judge to sentence Mr. James, who is 64, to 10 concurrent life sentences, while the defense sought 18 years. In an order Tuesday, Judge William F. Kuntz II noted that Mr. James had previously refused to attend court hearings, and directed federal marshals to “use all necessary force” to get him into the courtroom. The attack paralyzed south Brooklyn and intensified citywide anxiety about violence in the subways. The investigation was initially complicated by the failure of surveillance cameras in the 36th Street station at the time of the shooting, though images of Mr. James were captured by cameras elsewhere in the system. Since the attack, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Gov. Kathy Hochul have pledged to add more cameras to stations and to place them inside subway cars.”


Associated Press: Shelling In Northwestern Syria Kills At Least 5 Civilians, Activists And Emergency Workers Say

“The Syrian government early Thursday shelled a village in the rebel-held northwestern part of the country, killing at least five civilians, activists and emergency workers said. The shelling, which comes amid a rise in strikes in the rebel-held enclave in recent days, hit a family house on the outskirts of the the village of Kafr Nouran in western Aleppo province, according to opposition-held northwestern Syria’s civil defense organization known as the White Helmets. The dead included an elderly woman and three of her daughters and her son, said Britain-based opposition war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Nine others from the family were injured, it said. Neither Syria nor its key military ally Russia commented on the shelling, but Damascus says strikes in the northwestern province target armed insurgent groups. The Syrian pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said the Syrian army had targeted the al-Qaeda-linked militant group Hayat Tahrir al Sham in response to its shelling of government forces’ positions in southern Idlib.”


Reuters: Turkey Says Bombers Came From Syria, Eyes Cross-Border Targets

“Turkey said on Wednesday that all Kurdish militant facilities in Syria and Iraq are valid military targets after it found the two attackers who detonated a bomb in front of government buildings in Ankara at the weekend had come from Syria. Turkey's military conducted air strikes in northern Iraq and staged several raids across the country this week in response to the attack, detaining dozens suspected of alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said the attackers had entered Turkey through Syria and received training there, adding the Turkish response would be "very precise". "All infrastructure, superstructure and energy facilities that belong to the PKK and the YPG, especially in Iraq and Syria, are legitimate targets of our security forces, armed forces and intelligence units from now on," he said. Turkey has carried out several cross-border incursions into northern Syria in recent years targeting the YPG militia that it sees as an affiliate of the PKK, which is now based in northern Iraq. The YPG is also the spearhead of the main ally of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State. Support for the YPG by the United States and other allies, including France, has strained ties with Ankara.”


Reuters: Taliban Brands Pakistan Expulsion Threat To Afghan Immigrants 'Unacceptable'

“Pakistan's threat to forcibly expel illegal Afghan immigrants is "unacceptable", a spokesman for the Taliban administration in Kabul said on Wednesday, adding that Afghans were not to blame for Pakistan's security problems. Estimating that there were 1.73 million Afghan immigrants living in Pakistan without legal status, Pakistan's caretaker government on Tuesday set a Nov. 1 deadline for them to leave or face forcible expulsion. "The behavior of Pakistan towards Afghan refugees is unacceptable," Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman for the Taliban administration in Kabul, said in a post on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. The move to expel illegal migrants comes as tensions remain high between Islamabad and Kabul. On Wednesday two people were killed, including a 12 year old boy, when pedestrians moving from Pakistan to Afghanistan were fired upon. The Pakistani military's public relations wing, the Inter Services Public Relations agency (ISPR) said in a statement that "an Afghan sentry employed at Friend Ship Gate of Chaman Border Crossing along Pakistan-Afghanistan Border in Balochistan Province, opened unprovoked and indiscriminate firing at pedestrians moving from Pakistan to Afghanistan.”

Middle East

Associated Press: 2 Palestinian Militants Killed In Gunfight With Israeli Troops In West Bank Raid

“Two Palestinian militants were killed by Israeli gunfire during an army raid in the West Bank on Thursday, the Palestinian health ministry said. They were the latest deaths in a monthslong surge of violence in the occupied territory. The Israeli military said its troops carried out a raid in the Tulkarem refugee camp in the early morning hours. It said that soldiers came under fire and that troops shot Palestinian gunmen. Five border police officers were wounded in the clashes, it said. The Hamas militant group that rules the Gaza Strip later claimed the two men as its members. The incident was the latest in a spiral of violence that has gripped the occupied territory for more than 18 months. The Israeli military has mounted near-nightly raids into Palestinian towns, often prompting deadly clashes with residents. Militancy has surged among young Palestinians who have lost hope in their leadership and in the prospect of a political resolution to the conflict. Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire so far this year in the West Bank, according to a tally by The Associated Press — the highest death toll in years. Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting incursions as well as innocent bystanders have also been killed.”

i24: Five Israeli Soldiers Wounded In Tulkarm Operation Against Palestinian Terrorists

“Five Israel Border Police officers were wounded during an operation against Palestinian terrorists in Tulkarm in the West Bank, according to a joint announcement by the Ministry of Defense and the IDF Spokesperson's Unit on Thursday. The operation, which involved soldiers from the Israel Border Police's Counterterrorism Unit (IOSH), the Mageb (Border Police), and the IDF, took place in the Tulkarm refugee camp within the Menashe division. The mission's primary objective was the arrest of a suspect linked to terrorist activities. During the operation, an exchange of fire erupted, and terrorists within the camp threw explosive devices at the security forces. In response, the Israeli forces engaged with fire, successfully hitting the terrorists. Preliminary findings from the investigation indicate that as the forces were withdrawing from the operation, five members of the Mageb were injured by grenade explosions. Two of them sustained serious injuries, one is in critical condition, while the other two were categorized as light to moderately injured. The injured soldiers were promptly evacuated to a medical facility, and their families have been informed of the situation. Border Guard Chief Brik Yitzchak commended the soldiers for their courageous and determined actions against terrorism in Judea and Samaria. He expressed his wishes for the full and speedy recovery of the injured Border Police officers.”


Garowe Online: Al-Shabaab Loses Strategic Town To ATMIS And SNA Forces

“After weeks of heavy artillery and gunfire exchange, the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] troops have managed to seize a strategic forest from the Al-Shabaab militants, in yet another notable milestone in the fight against the Al-Qaeda-linked group. In a statement published by ATMIS, the mission team confirmed that Ugandan and Burundi contingents participated in the operation, which targeted the Cali Fooldhere forest within the Middle Shabelle region, within the HirShabelle state of Somalia. During the operation, the forces managed to confiscate Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices, ATMIS said. The forest is used by the militants to hide the vehicles used in the attacks besides helping them on matters of logistics and planning. "The Cali Fooldhere forest has particularly over the years become a strategic location where the terrorists wage deadly attacks and conceal ammunition including vehicles for Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices," said Lt. Gen Sam Okiding, the Force Commander. "I commend the brave efforts of our gallant ATMIS troops and the Somali National Army [SNA] to degrade Al-Shabaab. ATMIS is fully committed to the implementation of the Somali Transition Plan which will culminate in the transfer of security responsibilities to Somali forces," added Mohamed El Amine Souef, the ATMIS boss.”

Voice Of America: Somalia Claims Killing Hundreds Of Militants Amid Recent Setbacks

“The Somali government on Wednesday said government troops have killed hundreds of militants during military operations in the last two months. In a statement posted by the state-run Somali National Television, the government reported that 1,650 militants were killed and 550 others were injured following military operations in the central Hirshabelle and Galmudug states. In the same statement, the government claimed that 19 al-Shabab commanders were among those killed, one was injured and three have surrendered to government forces. Casualty figures given by the Somali government have not been independently verified. Meanwhile, a Somali regional official is calling for an extension of the deadline set for African Union, or AU, troops to leave Somalia, citing al-Shabab attacks and “unstable” political developments. Mohamud Sayid Aden, the deputy president of Jubaland state, a region where Kenyan and Ethiopian troops operate, said the withdrawal of AU forces from Somalia should be extended until December 2025.”


Reuters: Mali's Northern Rebels Claim Control Of Military Camp

“Mali's northern Tuareg rebels said on Wednesday that they had seized another military base from the Malian army, bringing to five the number of conquered and pillaged camps in recent weeks. Mohamed Elmaouloud Ramadane, a spokesperson for the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), told Reuters that his fighters had taken control of the Malian army camp in Taoussa after fighting. There was no immediate statement from the army. The CMA is an alliance of rebel groups formed by Mali's semi-nomadic Tuareg people, who have long complained of government neglect and sought autonomy for the desert region they call Azawad. The CMA signed a peace deal with the previous government and pro-government militia in 2015. But tensions have resurfaced since the military consolidated power in two coups in 2020 and 2021, teamed up with Russian military contractor Wagner Group, and kicked out French forces and U.N. peacekeepers. Fighting has picked up again since August. The CMA attack on Taoussa follows those on military bases in Bamba, Lere, Dioura and Bourem in recent weeks, all in northern and central Mali where both sides seek to control territory.”


WTOP: The Hunt: Coastal Terrorism Expansion Spreading Across Africa’s Interior

“Security officials from around the world are meeting in Luanda, Angola, to address deep concerns about growing terrorism in Africa. On this week’s episode of “The Hunt with WTOP national security correspondent JJ Green,” Dr. Hans Jakob Schindler, senior director of the Counter Extremism Project, is warning that what’s brewing inside Africa is trouble for the U.S.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On May 8, 2019, Taliban insurgents detonated an explosive-laden vehicle and then broke into American NGO Counterpart International’s offices in Kabul. At least seven people were killed and 24 were injured.

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