Eye on Extremism: October 6, 2021

BBC News: Mozambique Crisis: Rwandan Troops Find Sex Slaves And Destroyed Mosques

“Rotting fruit lies beneath mighty mango trees in northern Mozambique - an area empty of the people who would usually pick them. Over the last four years, many villages and towns in Cabo Delgado have been abandoned - but in the last month Islamist militants have been pushed back by a 1,000-strong contingent of Rwandan troops. Buildings lie in ruins, roofs caved in, evidence of shelling or blasts still visible. Walls falling apart and weeds growing right inside what were once human dwellings. I was among a group of journalists seeing, for the first time, the destruction left behind by some of the least known Islamist militants in the world. Locals referred to them by the Arabic name for youth - al-Shabab. But they have no connection to the better known group of the same name based in Somalia. They are said to be affiliated to the Islamic State. “It is more of ideological affiliation,” Rwanda's military spokesman Colonel Ronald Rwivanga told us. The Rwandan forces took us on a tour of the province, following the routes taken over the last few weeks. One group moved from Palma in the north, the scene of a hotel attack in which dozens were killed in March - some of the victims were later found beheaded with hands tied to their backs.”

Associated Press: Denmark Charges 3 Citizens With Planning Terror Attacks

“Danish prosecutors said Tuesday that they have charged three people with attempting to carry out acts of terrorism by acquiring bomb-making chemicals and equipment that were to be used for an attack “in an unknown place either in Denmark or abroad.” Copenhagen chief prosecutor Lise-Lotte Nilas said police foiled the plot when the two male suspects were arrested. The men and a woman were detained in December 2019 and have remained in custody since then. None of the suspects was named. In a statement, Nilas said the men are ages 22 and 23, and the woman is 39. One of the men has Danish citizenship, and the other man and the woman have dual citizenships. Their other nationalities was not given. If found guilty of the main terror charge, they would be eligible for life prison terms, although defendants sentenced to life in Denmark serve an average of about 16 years. The woman faces additional charges. She was charged with financing terrorist activities by acting through an intermediary to transfer money to people associated with the Islamic State group. Prosecutors also charged her with promoting terrorist activities by allegedly helping several people affiliated with IS to create social media profiles and communicate on the internet, as well as by having spread the extremist group’s propaganda online.”

United States

Forbes: Pentagon Now Continuously Scanning All Staff With Security Clearances For Terrorist And Criminal Threats

“The Department of Defense says all staff with security clearances are now part of a program that continuously looks for signs of any criminal and terrorist threats they could pose, amid a years-long effort to more closely monitor federal employees for suspicious activity. DOD has enrolled all service members, civilians and contractors with security clearances in a system called “continuous vetting,” which automatically scans and filters criminal and terrorist databases in search of red flags for employees, the Pentagon said in an article on its website Tuesday. This program means DOD officials could find out about arrest warrants and terrorism concerns leveled against staff within days, instead of waiting until an employee’s next background check renewal, which may take several years. Some 3.6 million people with clearances are now included in the continuous vetting system, the Pentagon said Tuesday afternoon. Over the next two years, the government plans to add employees from more federal agencies to the continuous vetting program. It will also start scanning for more categories of information, adding financial and travel records to the criminal and terrorist information currently included in the system.”

Afghanistan

CNBC: The Taliban Takeover Of Afghanistan Could Reshape Counterinsurgencies In Africa, Experts Say

“The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the subsequent withdrawal of Western troops was closely watched in many African capitals — and by Islamist insurgent groups on the continent.  The shift in power comes at a critical juncture for the so-called war on terror for the governments of countries like Somalia, Mali, Mozambique and Nigeria, and the Western powers that support them.  A media outlet linked to Somali militant group al-Shabab wrote “God is great” following news of the takeover. Meanwhile, the leader of West Africa’s Jama’at Nasral-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) jihadist organization drew comparisons between the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and France’s planned drawdown of military presence in West Africa’s Sahel region.  French President Emmanuel Macron announced in July that the 5,000-strong troop presence in the Sahel — known as Operation Barkhane — would end in the first quarter of 2022. Despite putting a timeline on the end of the main military operation, Macron insisted that France was not withdrawing entirely from its former colonial territories.”

Somalia

Radio Dalsan: Somalia: U.S. Trained Danab Forces Kill 7 Militants In Southern Somalia

“US-trained special trained Danab forces have killed seven al-Shabab militants during a security operation carried out in the Lower Shabelle region, in the southern part of the country. SNA commander leading the operation told the military radio that the seven militants were killed during operations conducted in Busley and Bulo-Alundi villages under the Janale area. According to the SNA, the government forces destroyed the militants hide outs and achieved success in the ongoing operation to flush out the group from their hideouts. The government forces have intensified operations against al-Shabab militants but the militants are still hiding in the rural areas of those regions, conducting ambushes and planting landmines. Since 2007, Al-Shabaab has launched several attacks against Somalia's federal government and AMISOM troops.”

Africa

Reuters: Southern African Bloc Extends Troop Deployment In Mozambique To Fight Insurgency -Communique

“Southern African regional bloc SADC agreed at a summit on Tuesday to extend a troop deployment in Mozambique to help the government fight an Islamic State-linked insurgency. “Summit approved the extension of the SAMIM (SADC Mission in Mozambique) to continue with offensive operations against terrorists and violent extremists,” the bloc said in a communique after top officials met in Pretoria, South Africa. The SADC troop deployment was initially for three months and due to end on Oct. 15. The communique did not say how long the extension was approved for. Southern African nations agreed in June to send troops to help Mozambique respond to the insurgency, which is concentrated in the northern province of Cabo Delgado and has claimed thousands of lives since beginning in 2017. Rwanda, which is not a SADC member, began deploying soldiers in Mozambique a month later. The fighting brought a $20 billion natural gas project led by French energy company TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) to a halt, after fighters attacked the town of Palma in March. The communique on Tuesday said three soldiers on the SADC mission to Mozambique had lost their lives, from Botswana and Tanzania.”

Al Monitor: Are Brotherhood Members Forming Terror Cells In Sudan?

“Sudanese security services have recently arrested members of a terrorist cell affiliated with the Islamic State (IS). In the midst of political and security tension in Sudan, the country's intelligence services announced Sept. 28 that a raid in neighborhoods south of the capital, Khartoum, targeted a cell affiliated with IS, which has never claimed responsibility for an attack in the country. An exchange of fire erupted during the operation, killing five members of the Sudanese intelligence service. Meanwhile, 11 terrorists of different foreign nationalities were arrested, while four fled but were later tracked down and arrested. Sudan was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 by the United States. Since former Islamist President Omar al-Bashir came to power in 1959, his regime harbored and supported extremist Islamist groups including al-Qaeda, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and Lebanese Hezbollah. Sudan hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden between 1992 and 1996. In 2020, the United States removed Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism following the overthrow of Bashir in April 2019. However, the US State Department had warned in 2018 against IS making its way back to Sudan after the organization lost much of its territories in Syria and Iraq.”

United Kingdom

Sky News: Man Charged With Terror Offences After Arrest At Heathrow Airport, Thames Valley Police Say

“A man has been charged with terror offences after being arrested at Heathrow Airport, Thames Valley Police said. Shabazz Suleman, who is also accused of being a member of the Islamic State group, will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Wednesday. The 25-year-old, of Freemantle Road, High Wycombe, was arrested at Heathrow on 29 September under the provisions of Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. It came after an investigation by Counter-Terrorism Policing South East. On Tuesday, Thames Valley Police said he had been charged has been charged with preparing for acts of terrorism, under section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006. He is also accused of membership of a proscribed organisation - namely Isis or the Islamic State group - under section 11 of the Terrorism Act 2000. He is further charged, under section 54 of the Terrorism Act 2000, with receiving weapons training.”

Southeast Asia

AFP: Sri Lanka Agrees To Reform Terror Law To Keep EU Trade Deal

“Sri Lanka's president vowed “immediate steps” to amend anti-terror legislation to retain a lucrative trade status with the European Union, his office said Tuesday. The EU had warned Sri Lanka that its generalised system of preferences (GSP Plus) -- a favourable trade scheme to encourage developing nations to respect human rights -- could be withdrawn if Colombo did not improve its rights record. Gotabaya Rajapaksa told a visiting EU delegation Monday that he had instructed the justice minister and the attorney general to carry out urgent reforms to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The law allows police to arrest and detain suspects for long periods. Confessions extracted from suspects can be used against them, and many have been held for decades without charge. “Immediate steps will be taken to amend the necessary provisions of the PTA,” Rajapaksa's office quoted him as saying. “President Rajapaksa also stated that the country would abide by the agreements on human rights in the world today.” International human rights organisations have accused Rajapaksa's government, which came to power in November 2019 with the overwhelming support of the Sinhalese-Buddhist majority, of persecuting minorities and targeting rights activists.”

Al Jazeera: Sri Lanka Indicts ISIL ‘Mastermind’ Over Easter Sunday Bombings

“Sri Lankan prosecutors have indicted the alleged mastermind of the 2019 Easter Sunday suicide bombings along with 24 men they say are co-conspirators in the island’s worst single “terror” attack. Nearly 300 people including dozens of foreign nationals were killed in the April 21 attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels, in a wave of killings singling out Sri Lanka’s Christian community. Prosecutors have brought more than 20,000 charges against the suspects, three of whom have already been accused of “terrorism” by the US Justice Department. The suspects are in police custody, but one of them did not appear in court on Monday as he was suffering from COVID-19, officials said, adding that hearings will begin on November 23. Prosecutors told the court that US and Australian forensic experts assisted investigators in tracking down the backers of the eight-member suicide squad responsible for the attacks. Sri Lanka authorities have accused their ringleader, Mohamed Naufar, of being the mastermind of the deadly suicide bombings and of being a member of the ISIL (ISIS) group. Former Police chief Pujith Jayasundara and top defence official Hemasiri Fernando are also being prosecuted separately for failing to act on repeated intelligence warnings of a possible ISIL attack.”

Technology

Yahoo News: Facebook Whistleblower: Without Action, 'Extremist Behaviors We See Today Are Only The Beginning'

“Facebook (FB) whistleblower Frances Haugen testified in the Senate Tuesday about a trove of documents she says point to Facebook’s “destructive impact” on society that has led to, among other things, ethnic violence in Myanmar and Ethiopia. “My fear is that without action, divisive and extremist behaviors we see today are only the beginning,” Haugen told the Senate consumer protection subcommittee. “What we saw in Myanmar and are seeing in Ethiopia are only the opening chapters of a story so terrifying, no one wants to read the end of it.” Facebook has been blamed for helping to spread misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech that has led to sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and Ethiopia. Haugen’s testimony follows her appearance on “60 Minutes” on Sunday during which she discussed the information from her data leaks, and said that Facebook “has realized that if they change the algorithm to be safer, people will spend less time on the site, they'll click on less ads, they'll make less money.” The Wall Street Journal initially published Haugen’s revelations in a series of articles discussing everything from the impact Facebook’s Instagram has on teens and young women to how Facebook is used by human traffickers in foreign markets.”

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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