Eye on Extremism: October 8, 2021

Associated Press: Taliban Official: At Least 100 Dead, Wounded In Afghan Blast

“An explosion went off Friday among Shiite Muslim worshippers at a mosque in northern Afghanistan, killing or wounding at least 100 people, a Taliban police official said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which took place in Kunduz, the capital of Kunduz province, but militants from the Islamic State group have a long history of attacking Afghanistan’s Shiite Muslim minority. Dost Mohammad Obaida, the deputy police chief for Kunduz province, said that the “majority of them have been killed.” He said the attack may have been carried out by a suicide bomber who mingled among the worshipers. “I assure our Shiite brothers that the Taliban are prepared to ensure their safety,” Obaida said, adding that an investigation was underway. If confirmed, a death toll of dozens would be the highest since U.S. and NATO forces left Afghanistan at the end of August and the Taliban took control of the country. The Taliban have been targeted in a series of deadly IS attacks, including shooting ambushes and an explosion at a mosque in the capital of Kabul.”

Reuters: Death Toll From Militant Attack On Malian Soldiers Rises To 16

“The death toll from an attack by Islamist militants on soldiers in central Mali this week has risen to 16, the army said on Thursday, after previously reporting nine deaths. Wednesday's attack - one of the heaviest losses suffered by Malian troops in recent months - highlights worsening security in Mali despite efforts by local, European and U.N. forces to counter armed groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State. This month U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres sounded the alarm, saying Malian authorities overseeing a transition after a coup last year were failing to follow through on promises to improve security and prepare a return to constitutional rule. “Progress has been limited and the situation remains fragile, with a need for more determined efforts to address the challenges at hand,” Guterres said in a report to the U.N. Security Council, dated Oct. 1. He noted his great concern over delays in preparations for presidential and legislative elections that interim authorities originally said would take place in February 2022. Mali's progress back to democracy following the August 2020 overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita is being closely monitored in a region that has experienced four coups in 13 months, two of them in Mali.”

Syria

The Independent: Isis Mother Stranded In Syria With Her Children Pleads For Return To UK

“A British woman who travelled to Syria to join Isis along with her husband and children has pleaded with UK officials to allow her to return. Nicole Jack made the journey with her first husband, Hussein Ali, to join the terror group in 2015. She is now in a refugee camp with her three children but has said the government should “open up a dialogue” and “at least try to understand why or what was the situation”, rather than “having just a closed mind”. Asked why she had taken her children - now aged seven, nine and 12 - to live in Isis territory, she told the Radio 4 Today programme: “I don't think, even if I explained it, everyone would understand. But from my point of view, where I stand, firstly, it was about my family being together. “And honestly, secondly, what may have happened, we've never been witness to it, my children and I, honestly, you know, I haven't seen a beheading in my life.” She added: “I don't understand it. I'll be honest, I really never understood where people would say someone who went to Syria was a security risk, because they actually left the country. “They didn't cause harm to a country being inside of it without doing something.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: U.S. Charges Ex-Taliban Commander In Killing Of 3 Soldiers In ’08 Attack

“On a June day in 2008, three U.S. soldiers and an Afghan interpreter were ambushed and killed when their Humvee convoy was hit during a combat patrol by mines and rocket-propelled grenades about 50 miles south of Kabul. At least one of the men was dragged off and dismembered, Afghan and Western officials said at the time. More than 13 years after the brutal attack and about a month after America’s two-decade war in Afghanistan ended, a man whom the federal authorities described as a former Taliban commander was charged on Thursday with four counts of murder in the killings as well as other terrorism-related crimes, including the downing of a U.S. military helicopter. The man, Haji Najibullah, was already in federal custody after being charged last year with kidnapping an American journalist and two Afghan nationals who were taken hostage at gunpoint several months after the deadly roadside offensive. “Haji Najibullah led a vicious band of Taliban insurgents who terrorized part of Afghanistan and attacked U.S. troops,” Audrey Strauss, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said in a statement on Thursday announcing the unsealing of the new charges. She added that “neither time nor distance can weaken our resolve to hold terrorists accountable for their crimes.”

Associated Press: Now In Power, Taliban Set Sights On Afghan Drug Underworld

“Now the uncontested rulers of Afghanistan, the Taliban have set their sights on stamping out the scourge of narcotics addiction, even if by force. At nightfall, the battle-hardened fighters-turned-policemen scour the capital’s drug-ravaged underworld. Below Kabul’s bustling city bridges, amid piles of garbage and streams of filthy water, hundreds of homeless men addicted to heroin and methamphetamines are rounded up, beaten and forcibly taken to treatment centers. The Associated Press gained rare access to one such raid last week. The scene provided a window into the new order under Taliban governance: The men — many with mental illness, according to doctors — sat against stone walls with their hands tied. They were told to sober up or face beatings. The heavy-handed methods are welcomed by some health workers, who have had no choice but to adapt to Taliban rule. “We are not in a democracy anymore, this is a dictatorship. And the use of force is the only way to treat these people,” said Dr. Fazalrabi Mayar, working in a treatment facility. He was referring specifically to Afghans addicted to heroin and meth. Soon after the Taliban took power on Aug. 15, the Taliban Health Ministry issued an order to these facilities, underscoring their intention to strictly control the problem of addiction, doctors said.”

Al Jazeera: Taliban Still Struggling For International Recognition

“Since it took power in August, the Taliban has been on a desperate quest to have its Islamic Emirate recognised internationally as the official government of Afghanistan. But so far, those attempts have yet to bear fruit. It is not from lack of effort, though, the group’s leadership has been busy. It has been meeting with officials from the United Nations, who assured the Taliban last month that the body will continue its assistance programmes in the country. However, the UN turned down the Taliban’s request to have its chosen envoy address the General Assembly. The group has also met with representatives from the United Kingdom, who pushed them on ensuring that British nationals are allowed to leave the country. The UK also raised the issue of women’s rights in meetings with Taliban representatives. The Taliban leadership, including figures appearing on international terror lists, also made sure to be present when aid shipments from Qatar, China, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Uzbekistan arrived at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport. But none of these nations have yet announced their formal acknowledgement of the Taliban as the rightful rulers of the country.”

India

The New York Times: Two Teachers Are Killed In Kashmir, Where Militant Attacks Are Surging

“The masked militants barged into a school in Kashmir, a Muslim majority region in India, demanding to know the religious identity of its teachers. Then they separated two non-Muslim teachers and shot them at close range, a police officer said. The killings on Thursday in the city of Srinagar were the latest in a series of attacks largely targeting Hindu and Sikh civilians in Kashmir, once again raising alarm about the rise of a militancy that drove out religious minority groups from the region nearly three decades ago. And they came at a time of high tensions that followed the Indian government’s decision to strip Kashmir of its semiautonomous status in 2019 and limit civil liberties in the region. The police did not identify the attackers. But the Resistance Front, a little-known militant group operating in Kashmir that emerged after India moved to revoke the region's autonomy, claimed responsibility for the attack. The police in the region say that suspected militants have killed 27 civilians this year, seven of them — including three Muslims — in the past 10 days. The victims have included a local pharmacist, a taxi driver, and a member of a youth group. “This is inhuman and barbaric,” said Waqar Ahmad, a Kashmiri Muslim, outside the school in Srinagar, Kashmir’s biggest city, where the two teachers were killed.”

Somalia

Shabelle: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Executes Two Men In Somalia

“Al-Shabaab has again carried out an execution of two people in public area in southern Somalia yesterday afternoon. The shooting which took place in Kamsuma was attended by senior members of Al-Shabaab and various members of the public who watched the execution. The two men were identified as Abdullahi Ooyow Mayane, 20, and Abdullahi Mohamed Farah, 24, were sentenced to death by an Al-Shabaab court. Abdullahi Ooyow accused al-Shabaab of sexually abusing a 5-year-old boy, while Abdullahi Mohamed was accused of being a member of the Jubaland army. Al-Shabaab conducts executions in areas under its control in southern and central Somalia.”

Africa

Egypt Today: Egypt: Growing Terrorist Threat In Africa Requires Enhancing International Coordination

“Egypt affirmed on Wednesday that the growing terrorist threats facing Africa and the different world countries require enhancing international coordination to face them. The remarks were made during Egypt’s statement in the 19th meeting of the coordinating committee of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) held virtually on Wednesday. GCTF member states as well as relevant international and regional organizations also participated in the meeting, a statement by the Foreign Ministry read. Minister Plenipotentiary Mohamed Fouad, director of the foreign ministry’s international counter-terrorism unit, delivered Egypt’s statement. Fouad reviewed the results of the 4th meeting held by East Africa Region Working Group headed by Egypt and the EU on September 13 which focused on the link between terror and transnational organized crimes. He asserted Egypt’s willingness to continue implementing the plan of the working group for 2021/2022 to support the abilities of the African countries in combating terror and extremist thinking. Fouad pointed out to the pioneering Egyptian experiment in combating terror and extremist thinking, asserting Egypt’s commitment to boosting cooperation and exchanging expertise in this field with the forum's member states, especially African ones.”

Australia

SBS News: Australian Far-Right Terrorism Investigations Have Increased By 750 Per Cent In 18 Months

“The threat of nationalist and racist violent extremism is escalating rapidly, according to Australia's domestic security and investigative services. In the past 18 months, the Australian Federal Police’s Joint Counter Terrorism Team's (JCTT) caseload covering the area has risen by 750 per cent. And in an interview with SBS News, AFP Assistant Commissioner Scott Lee from the Counter Terrorism and Special Investigations Command said he only expected the threat to continue to climb. “There was certainly an increase in the JCTT’s nationalist and racist violent extremism caseload from 2019 and into early 2020 … We expect it to increase further than what we are seeing at the moment, but how much further it will increase is difficult to ascertain at the moment.” The rise means it now accounts for 15 per cent of the unit’s total investigative effort.  “Islamist or religiously motivated violent extremism remains the predominant threat at about 85 per cent of our workload,” Mr Lee said. The interview comes as an SBS News investigation uncovered an underground network of Australian men who share far-right views that has never been reported on before in the media, with one member revealing the group's efforts to acquire firearms.”

Europe

Bloomberg: Denmark Charges Three Women Evacuated From Syrian Refugee Camps

“Denmark has charged three women with supporting terrorism and illegal traveling in conflict zones immediately after evacuating them from Syrian refugee camps. The women - all Danish citizens -- were airlifted from the al-Roj camp on Wednesday along with their 14 children and detained as soon as the evacuation plane hit Danish soil, the National Board of Social Services said in a statement. Denmark’s government decided in the spring after much political turmoil to evacuate its own nationals in the Syrian camps based on a security risk assessment from intelligence agencies due to their affiliation with Islamic State.”

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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