Eye on Extremism: September 11, 2023

Reuters: Suspected Drone Strike Kills Five In Central Somalia, Local Leaders Say

“A suspected drone strike in central Somalia killed five civilians and three al Shabaab militants, two local leaders said on Friday, after the fighters sought refuge in a house compound containing a family. Diverging accounts of the incident emerged, with Somalia's state broadcaster reporting that a woman and two children were killed by a landmine the militants had hidden in a house in the village of El-Lahelay in Galgadud state. The state news agency SONNA reported that the three slain militants were senior leaders of al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab, including Olol Ali Guled, the supposed commander of the group in Galgadud. They were killed in a "special operation" on Wednesday night, SONNA reported, without mentioning the use of a drone or the killing of the family. The U.S. military's Africa Command (AFRICOM), which has been helping the Somali government in its yearlong offensive against al Shabaab, confirmed three militants were killed and that AFRICOM had evacuated injured civilians.”

Reuters: Danish Man Convicted Of IS Ties Says He Was Undercover Informer

“A Copenhagen court heard final arguments on Friday in the case of a man imprisoned over Islamic State ties who says he was an undercover informant for Denmark's intelligence services. Ahmed Samsam, a Danish national of Syrian origin, was arrested in Spain in 2017 and sentenced to serve eight years. Transferred to a Danish prison in 2020, the 33-year-old is asking the Danish Eastern High Court to recognise him as a secret agent and thus help overturn the Spanish verdict. Samsam first travelled to Syria in 2012 to fight for a rebel group. When he returned to Denmark later that year he was incarcerated for an unrelated crime. While serving this sentence he was approached by Danish secret service PET and agreed to work on their behalf, he said in court documents obtained by Reuters. In 2013 and 2014, Samsam travelled back to Syria twice to rejoin the rebel group. But this time, he says, with the mission of collecting intelligence on Danish foreign fighters in Syria for PET and the Danish military intelligence service FE.”

United States

Business Insider: Extremist Attacks On US Power Grids Are Increasing And Election Seasons Are Usually A Popular Time For Them, Experts Say

“The number of attacks on power infrastructure across the United States is on the rise, a new report from Politico says, and political extremism is playing a role. Politico found that the number of power grid attacks in the first three months of 2023 had doubled compared to the same time period in 2022. In 2022, the biggest attack on a power grid affected 45,000 people in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, Insider previously reported. Right-wing extremism has played a major role, Insider reported, as neo-Nazi groups target power grids because of their belief in "accelerationism," that is, the theory that destabilizing acts will catalyze a race war. Power grid attacks spiked during both the 2020 and 2022 election seasons, Manny Cancel, senior vice president at the North American Electric Reliability Corp, told Politico. Power grids have suffered from both physical and cyber attacks in recent years. The FBI has warned power executives to remain diligent and aware of threats to the grid, Politico reported.”


NDTV World: "Threatening Indian Community": PM's Firm Stand On "Extremists" In Canada

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conveyed concern about "continuing anti-India activities of extremist elements in Canada" in a bilateral with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held on the sidelines of G20. Canada has been one of the favoured hubs of expat Sikhs, where extremism has mushroomed along the margins and made headlines over the last few months. PM Modi conveyed to Mr Trudeau that the extremist elements in Canada are "promoting secessionism and inciting violence against Indian diplomats, damaging diplomatic premises and threatening the Indian community and their places of worship," the foreign ministry said in a statement. "The nexus of such forces with organised crime, drug syndicates and human trafficking should be a concern for Canada as well. It is essential for the two countries to cooperate in dealing with such threats," read the statement.”


Associated Press: US-Backed Kurdish Fighters Say Battles With Tribesmen In Eastern Syria That Killed Dozens Have Ended

“A U.S.-backed Syrian force declared its operations in eastern Syria completed Friday after almost two weeks of fighting with local tribesmen left dozens of people dead. The Syrian Democratic Forces said the fighting ended with its recapture of areas in Deir el-Zour province that the Kurdish-led force had lost during the battles triggered by the militia’s arrest of a rival U.S.-backed commander. The clashes were among the worst in recent years in the region along the border with Iraq where hundreds of U.S. troops have been based since 2015 to help in the fight against the Islamic State group. Many feared the fighting between the rival Syrian militias that broke out on Aug. 27 would affect the efforts to combat IS. Earlier this week, the SDF took control of the areas it lost during the recent clashes.”


Voice Of America: Taliban Capture 12 Islamic State Members In Northeastern Afghanistan

“Afghanistan's Taliban have reportedly arrested 12 operatives of the local branch of the Islamic State terrorist group in a remote northeastern region bordering China, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. The Al-Mersaad state-affiliated media said Friday that Taliban special forces had launched an operation this week against an "important network" of the Islamic State-Khorasan, or IS-K, in the mountainous Afghan province of Badakhshan. The four-day operation captured 12 IS-K militants and large weapons caches, including assault rifles, bombs, bullets, computers and other technical equipment, the media outlet quoted unnamed Taliban security officials as saying. The detainees were allegedly "involved in attacks on civilian and government targets" in the border province. It was not possible to verify the Taliban's claims from independent sources, nor did the Islamic State comment on them. Al-Mersaad is working to counter IS-Khorasan extremist propaganda in Afghanistan. Last year, IS-K carried out a deadly suicide bombing outside the Russian Embassy in the Afghan capital, plotted a failed assassination attempt on the chief Pakistani diplomat, and raided a downtown hotel hosting Chinese citizens.”

Reuters: Afghanistan Meth Trade Surges As Taliban Clamps Down On Heroin, UN Report Says

“Methamphetamine trafficking in and around Afghanistan has surged in recent years, even as the Taliban has curbed heroin trafficking since taking power, a United Nations report said on Sunday. "The surge in methamphetamine trafficking in Afghanistan and the region suggests a significant shift in the illicit drug market and demands our immediate attention," said Ghada Waly, executive director of the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The Taliban, which regained power in August 2021, announced a ban the following April on the production of narcotics in Afghanistan, the world's main opium producer. Taliban officials say its security forces are clamping down on Afghan poppy farmers and destroying crops. While heroin trafficking has slowed, the UNODC said in a statement, meth trafficking "has intensified since the ban". Meth seizures in and around Afghanistan jumped 12-fold in the five years through 2021. Between 2019 and 2022, nearby countries such as Iran and Pakistan also reported increased seizures. Countries as far away as France and Australia have reported seizing methamphetamine that likely originated in Afghanistan it said.”

Reuters: Afghan Taliban Criticises Closure Of Main Border Crossing With Pakistan

“The Afghan Taliban criticised the closure of its main border crossing with Pakistan this week after clashes between security forces, saying the halt in trade would see heavy losses for businesses. The busy Torkham border crossing closed on Wednesday after Pakistani and Afghan Taliban forces started firing at each other, according to local officials. "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan deems the closure of Torkham gate and opening of fire on Afghan security forces by the Pakistani side contrary to good neighbourliness," Taliban administration's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late on Saturday. The statement said the incident had started after Pakistani security forces fired at Afghan Taliban forces fixing an old security outpost near the border. Pakistan's foreign office did not immediately respond to request for comment. Hundreds of trucks laden with goods have been halted and traders have complained that trade is affected. "The closure of Torkham gate can adversely affect bilateral and regional trade, and cause trade and financial losses to common mercantile class on both sides," the statement said, adding many travellers were also stuck on each side of the border.”


Associated Press: A Pakistani Soldier Is Killed In A Shootout With Militants Near Afghanistan Border, Military Says

“A Pakistani soldier was killed in an overnight shootout with militants in the country’s northwest, near the border with Afghanistan, the military said. A military statement late Saturday said the shootout took place in Mir Ali, a major town of North Waziristan that served as a safe haven for militants for decades. It said the military had been searching for terrorists there. The shootout took place days after Pakistan closed the key northwestern Torkham border crossing with Afghanistan after border guards from the two sides exchanged fire Wednesday. Clashes that same day in the northwestern Chitral district near the border killed four Pakistani soldiers and 12 militants. Scores of trucks loaded with goods, many carrying perishable items including vegetables and fruits, were still lined up on both sides of the Torkham border point Sunday, waiting for the crossing to reopen.”

Middle East

Reuters: Israel To End Ban On Exports From Gaza On Sunday, Palestinian Officials Say

“Israel will allow the export of commercial goods from the Gaza Strip through a main border crossing from Sunday after a days-long ban for what it called an attempt to smuggle explosives, Palestinian officials said on Friday. Palestinians said the ban hit thousands of families and could ruin livelihoods in the blockaded enclave. Israel said on Monday it was temporarily stopping commercial goods from leaving Gaza after inspectors found several kilograms of "high-quality explosives" in a shipment, hidden in the lining of clothes. "A short while ago, the Israeli side informed us of the decision by the Israeli government to resume exports from Gaza Strip through Kerem Shalom crossing starting Sunday, the same way it used to be before the closure," said a statement by the Palestinian Authority's committee that liaises on the movement of goods in and out of Gaza. There was no immediate comment from COGAT, the Israeli authority that coordinates administration with the Palestinian Territories. Since the Hamas Islamist group took power in Gaza in 2007, it has suffered from one of the world's highest unemployment rates under a blockade of many goods imposed by Israel with Egyptian backing. It has also been severely damaged in four major wars and numerous other clashes between Hamas and Israel.”


Reuters: Al Qaeda Branch Claims Attack On Second Mali Military Base

“An al Qaeda-linked group claimed responsibility on Friday for a suicide attack on a military base in northeastern Mali, a day after authorities blamed the group for carrying out a dual assault on another military camp and a boat that killed over 60. At least 49 civilians and 15 soldiers were killed when assailants opened fire on a boat on a waterway that connects the northern regions of Gao and Mopti and raided a camp in the Bourem Circle, in Gao region, a hotbed of Islamist activity over the past decade. Mali's interim government said insurgents from a West African branch of al Qaeda, called Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), were responsible for Thursday's attacks, which Reuters could not immediately confirm. JNIM separately said on Friday said it was behind a suicide bombing on a military base next to Gao International Airport, the Site Intelligence Group said. Authorities confirmed the attack in an online statement later on Friday and said that damage and casualties were being evaluated.”


Voice Of America: Uganda's President Says Hundreds Of Militants Killed In DRC Operation

“Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Thursday his army’s operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has killed more than 560 members of the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF, a group allied with Islamic State militants. Museveni also said he has asked the DRC army to deploy local militia to stop the ADF, a move analysts warned will only cause more trouble. In an address Thursday night, Museveni, wearing military attire, revealed that since the start of Operation Shuja by the Uganda People's Defense Forces, or UPDF, in 2021, it has killed 567 ADF rebels allied with Islamic State militants in the DRC. Fifty terrorists were captured alive, and 32 surrendered, he said. Several ammunition depots were recovered. With permission from DRC President Felix Tshisekedi, Museveni said, the Ugandan army cleared the Rwenzori mountains of ADF rebels. Most of the militants have been pushed toward Mambasa, in the Ituri province, he said.”

United Kingdom

Reuters: UK Foreign Minister To Warn Of Iran Threat On Visit To Israel

“British foreign minister James Cleverly will travel to Israel and the Palestinian territories this week, where he will press for renewed dialogue on a two-state solution and commit to tackling threats to regional security, including from Iran. On the visit that begins on Monday, Cleverly will hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh. In a speech at an international security conference on Tuesday, Cleverly will discuss the security challenges facing Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as the importance of a two-state solution. He will accuse Iran of "enabling terrorism" through its support of the militant groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, according to a statement. "The UK and Israel work closely together to keep our people safe," Cleverly said ahead of his trip. He pledged "to renew our close security partnership, in the face of unacceptable threats from the Iranian regime". He will hold talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and attend a demonstration of Israel's "Iron Dome" missile defence system.”

Associated Press: Terrorism Suspect Who Escaped From London Prison Is Captured While Riding A Bike

“A former British soldier facing terrorism charges who snuck out of a London prison on a food delivery truck was captured Saturday, police said. Daniel Abed Khalife was nabbed while riding a bicycle along a canal path west of London after a four-day manhunt. Khalife escaped from the Wandsworth Prison kitchen Wednesday and got outside the gates by strapping himself to the bottom of a catering truck. Khalife, 21, was awaiting trial on charges of violating Britain’s Official Secrets Act by gathering information “that could be useful to an enemy” and planting fake bombs at a military base. He was discharged from the British army after his arrest earlier this year and denied the allegations. His trial is set for November. The breakout ignited a storm of criticism as political opponents linked the escape to years of financial austerity by the United Kingdom’s governing Conservative Party. The government said an independent investigation would determine how Khalife escaped the medium-security prison that opened in 1851 during the reign of Queen Victoria.”

India Today: Rishi Sunak, In Delhi For G20, Says 'Won't Tolerate Khalistani Extremism In UK'

“When asked about pro-Khalistan extremism, United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday said that "no form of violence or extremism" is acceptable in the country. "Let me just say unequivocally that no form of extremism or violence like that is acceptable in the UK," he said. Sunak added that the UK is working with the Indian government to tackle PKE (pro-Khalistani extremism). "I don't think it (PKE) is right. Our security Minister was just recently in India talking to his counterparts. We have working groups together to share intelligence and information so that we can root out this kind of violent extremism," he told news agency ANI. Sunak's remarks came not so long after he arrived in Delhi for the G20 Leaders' Summit. Accompanied by his wife Akshata Murthy, Sunak was welcomed at the airport by Union minister Ashwini Choubey, British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis and senior diplomats. Pro-Khalistan elements attacked the Indian High Commission in London in March this year, which drew India's ire. The Indian tricolour was pulled down from a pole at the front of the building.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On September 15, 2019, a truck bomb exploded outside of the Al-Rai Hospital in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate, killing 12 civilians and injuring many more. There were no immediate claims of responsibility. 

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