Eye on Extremism: October 6, 2022

Associated Press: Suicide Bomber Strikes At A Center Of Taliban Power, Kills 4

“A suicide bomber struck at a center of Taliban power Wednesday, setting off a blast at a government ministry in the Afghan capital of Kabul and killing at least four people. The explosion went off in the afternoon as workers and visitors were praying inside a mosque of Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, which is responsible for security and law enforcement in the country. At least 25 worshippers were injured, a Taliban official said.  The attack inside a fortified compound dealt a serious blow to the Taliban, who have been trying to project control and strength since they seized power in August 2021. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the extremist group Islamic State, the main Taliban rival, has carried out a series of attacks, including in mosques, as part of a long-running insurgency. Targets have included Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shiite minority. Wednesday’s attack took place around 1:30 p.m. at the Interior Ministry compound on a main road next to Kabul’s international airport. Abdul Nafi Takor, a ministry spokesman, said the blast went off during prayers. He said four worshippers were killed and 25 wounded The Emergency Hospital in Kabul said it began receiving patients at around 2 p.m. with injuries and burns. Some of those wounded “reported seeing a man detonate a device,” said the hospital’s acting country director, Dejan Panic.”

AFP: Remaining Hostages Freed In Nigeria Train Attack

“The remaining passengers taken hostage in March after gunmen bombed and attacked a train in northwest Nigeria have been freed, government and security officials said on Wednesday. Gunmen blew up the tracks and attacked the train traveling between the capital, Abuja, and Kaduna, killing eight people and kidnapping dozens in one of the most high-profile attacks this year. “All 23 kidnapped victims of the ill-fated Kaduna train mishap released,” Transport Minister Mu'azu Jaji Sambo said on Twitter. A team had secured the release and took custody of passengers “held hostage by Boko Haram terrorists following the attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train,” a statement from a military committee said, without giving details on how they were freed. Kaduna state security commissioner Samuel Aruwan confirmed the hostage release. Security is a major concern for Nigerians as the country prepares for February elections to replace President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general who is stepping down after two terms leading Africa's most populous country. No group claimed the March 28 train attack, though officials have blamed jihadis cooperating with heavily armed criminal gangs who terrorize parts of northwest and central Nigeria with looting raids and mass abductions.”


Reuters: Syrian TV Says Rare U.S. Raid In Government-Held Zone Kills One

“Syrian state television said on Thursday that U.S. special forces carried out a rare operation in a government-held village in the country's northeast, killing one person and capturing others. The operation took place in an area of Hasakeh province, which is partly held by government forces and partly held by U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters. The United States has carried out previous raids in Syria to target members of the Islamic State group, but Thursday's operation would be the first known raid in a government-held area. Syrian state television's Telegram channel said helicopters had descended on the village of Muluk Saray but it did not say who the individual killed was. Several residents of the area confirmed the raid to Reuters. One said that U.S. helicopters landed in the village after midnight and told residents by loudspeaker to stay indoors and keep their lights off. The resident said the operation lasted several hours and that there was no exchange of fire with the U.S. troops.”


WTOP: The Hunt: Iran’s Cross-Border Attacks Inside Northern Iraq

“On this episode of The Hunt with WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green, Dr. Hans Jakob Schindler, senior director of the Counter Extremism Project, explains what’s at stake.”


Voice Of America: IS Ramps Up Attacks In Afghanistan, Taliban Claim Key Arrest

“Amid an intensified terror campaign by the Islamic State Khorasan (ISK) group in Afghanistan which has killed dozens of civilians this week, Taliban authorities claim they have captured the group’s liaison for Europe. On Tuesday, the Taliban’s intelligence agency released a video confession of an alleged ISK member who says he helped foreign nationals join the terrorist group in Afghanistan. “I had invited 10 to 15 people and one of them has come to Afghanistan,” says the Afghan man in the video. The man also claims he collected funds for ISK from three European countries. “I collected $15,000 from Ukraine, 5,000 euros from Germany, and about 1,500 euros from Spain.” The release of the Taliban video comes at a time when ISK has perpetrated several deadly attacks in the Afghan capital over the past few weeks. At least 50 people, mostly schoolgirls, were killed and more than 100 wounded in an explosion at an educational center in Kabul on Friday. The victims were Shiite Muslims. ISK has declared a religious war against Shiites. On Wednesday, a bomb blast at a mosque near the interior ministry in Kabul killed at least four worshippers and wounded 25 others, Taliban authorities confirmed. Rejecting foreign counterterror cooperation, the Taliban claim they are capable of routing ISK in the country on their own.”

Middle East

AFP: Palestinian Killed By Israeli Army In West Bank: Palestinian Ministry

“A Palestinian was shot dead and at least two others wounded Wednesday by Israeli forces during an operation near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said. Alaa Zaghal, 21, “died of a bullet wound to the head fired by the occupation (Israeli) army”, a statement read. Two journalists were also hurt during the clashes, an AFP journalist at the scene witnessed. Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, said the two journalists were employees of state television network Palestine TV. The Israeli army said it had attempted to arrest Salman Amran, 35, describing him as a “Hamas operative” who was “previously imprisoned for being a part of a Hamas military network which planned attacks”. “Soldiers surrounded the residence of the suspect. The suspect shot at the soldiers while barricaded inside the residential building,” the army said in a statement. The clashes ended when Amran “turned himself in”, it added. Local residents said the army had surrounded a house inside the village, which lies east of Nablus. The operation came as Hussein al-Sheikh, Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization, visited Washington for talks with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. The White House on Tuesday said that Sullivan had “stressed the need to take steps to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank by countering terrorism and incitement.”


AFP: Death Toll From Somalia Bombings Hits 30: Governor

“The death toll from a triple bombing by the Islamist group Al-Shabaab in central Somalia earlier this week has risen to at least 30, a local official said on Wednesday. Another 58 people were injured when three cars packed with explosives were detonated in Beledweyne, a city at the heart of recent offensives against the Al-Qaeda-linked militants who control swathes of Somalia. “We have confirmed that thirty people died in the recent attack,” said Ali Jeyte Osman, the governor of Hiraan region where Beledweyne is the capital. The health minister of the wider Hirshabelle state, and a deputy district commissioner, were among those killed when suicide bombers targeted local government offices in the city. Witnesses described massive damage in the aftermath of the attacks claimed by Al-Shabaab, which has waged a bloody insurrection against the central government for 15 years. Somalia's recently elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned the attack, which comes as national forces, backed by local militias and international allies, wage an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign against the Al-Qaeda affiliate. Mohamud last month urged citizens to stay away from areas controlled by Al-Shabaab as government forces supported by local clan militias launched offensives in Hiraan.”


AFP: Moroccan, Spanish Police Raid ‘Jihadists,’ Arrest 11

“Moroccan and Spanish police have dismantled a jihadist cell suspected of links to the Islamic State group, officials said Tuesday. The operation led to the arrest of 11 people in raids on Tuesday morning: nine in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Morocco’s northern coast, and another two in the nearby town of Nador, according to a Moroccan police statement. Spanish security sources said 10 people had been arrested in Melilla and another in the southern Spanish city of Grenada. The Moroccan police said the two suspects held in Nador, aged 34 and 39, were remanded in custody and that mobile phones and a computer had been seized. The detainees were suspected of “promoting extremist ideology” online “in order to recruit people in terrorist organizations,” the same source said. Morocco and Spain officially revived their security cooperation in April after mending fences following a year-long diplomatic row over the Western Sahara. The Moroccan police regularly announce operations against jihadist cells, and reports having arrested more than 3,500 people in relation to “terrorism” since 2002.”

AFP: Suspected Rebels Kill 10 In East Dr Congo

“Rebels from a notorious militia killed at least 10 civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local sources said Wednesday, while some 20 others are missing after the attack. Suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militants entered the village of Vido in North Kivu province on Tuesday night and killed 10 people, including an Anglican pastor, according a local civil-society leader Patrick Musubao. “More than 20 people are missing,” he added, blaming the attack on the ADF. Didi Isaya, a local official, also blamed the ADF and said that fighters had torched 25 houses in the attack. He told AFP that authorities had found 11 dead civilians. The ADF -- which the Islamic State group claims as its Central African offshoot -- is among the most violent of more than 120 armed groups active in eastern volatile DRC. It has been accused of slaughtering thousands of Congolese civilians and carrying out bomb attacks in neighbouring Uganda. The DRC and Uganda launched a joint offensive against the ADF in November 2021, but the militia continues to wreak havoc across swathes of territory. Both armies are currently conducting joint operations in the area around the town of Beni -- where the village of Vido is located. Rebel attacks in the area have resumed recently after several weeks of calm.”

Africanews: Burkina Faso: 37 Dead In September Attack On Gaskinde - Army

“The attack committed by jihadists at the end of September in Gaskindé in northern Burkina Faso, killed 37 people, 27 soldiers, and ten civilians, announced Wednesday at the headquarters of the Burkinabe army. “The combing and search operations carried out” since the attack “has resulted in the following toll: 10 civilians killed, 27 soldiers killed, 29 wounded, including 21 soldiers, seven civilians, and a volunteer for the defense of the country”, a deputy of the army, according to the headquarters, which said that three people are “still missing”. The 27 soldiers killed will be buried Friday in Ouagadougou. An earlier report said at least 11 soldiers were killed and about 50 civilians were missing. On September 26, a supply convoy bound for the town of Djibo, the capital of the Sahel region in the north of the country, was attacked by gunmen. In a statement posted on social media and authenticated by the U.S. SITE jihadist monitoring center, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic and Muslim Support Group (GSIM) claimed responsibility for the ambush. The army-escorted convoys supply northern towns under blockade by jihadist groups that have recently blown up bridges on major highways. The town of Djibo, which had not seen a road supply convoy arrive for some 40 days, according to the transporters' union, was supplied by helicopter on Tuesday with 70 tons of food, according to the army.”

United Kingdom

The Telegraph: Manchester Arena Terrorist Is Moved To New Prison Amid Staffing Crisis

“The Manchester Arena bomb plotter and other dangerous terrorists have had to be moved after one of only three specialist “separation” units to prevent them radicalising other inmates was shut due to staff shortages. The move raises fears that the prison service is running short of the experienced officers needed to provide the 24/7 high-security supervision of category A prisoners, according to penal sources. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed on Wednesday it had been forced to temporarily close the separation unit at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes where Hashem Abedi, the brother of the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, has been held. The unit - a “jail within a jail” with its own elite prison officers - is designed to keep the most serious terrorist offenders and preachers of hate away from other inmates because of fears that they could spread their extremist message. It means that the highly-trained officers can be switched to guarding other dangerous category A prisoners at Woodhill amid fears of unrest and increased violence across the rest of the prison due to the staff shortages. The Telegraph revealed last month that jail chiefs took the rare step of moving category A prisoners from HMP Woodhill because of the staffing shortages.”


AFP: Germany Repatriates 12 Citizens From Syrian Jihadist Camp

“Germany on Wednesday said it had resolved “almost all known cases” of its citizens stuck in Syrian jihadist camps, after announcing the repatriation of 12 people. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock released a statement announcing that seven children and four women returned to Germany on Wednesday night from the Roj camp in northeastern Syria. A teenage boy who had been taken to Syria aged 11 was also part of the group. “I am relieved that this action has allowed us to close almost all the known cases,” Baerbock said. “I am especially relieved because the children are not responsible for their parents' fateful choices,” she added, deeming it impossible to leave them “without a future in the camps of northeast Syria”. The German foreign ministry said the women and the teenager will have to “answer for their acts” and were detained upon their arrival in the country. It added that there was only one instance where an agreed repatriation had not been carried out yet, and that the mothers did not wish to return in the other cases. The ministry said six operations have led to 76 minors and 26 women being repatriated from northeastern Syria to Germany to date. The return of relatives of captured or killed jihadist fighters from Syria and Iraq has been a thorny issue for European countries since the fall of the Islamic State group's so-called “caliphate” in 2019.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

In Their Own Words:

We must use our privilege as humans to fight back against the system that keeps animals oppressed... They can’t wait. The earth can’t wait. Get off your ass and FIGHT.

Animal Liberation Front (ALF), ALF statement Jul. 23, 2019
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