Eye on Extremism: September 14, 2022

Reuters: California's Newsom Signs Bill Requiring Social Media Firms' Transparency

“California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday he had signed a bill into law requiring transparency of social media companies, a move that could draw criticism from tech firms and industry groups. The law, AB-587, will require social media companies to publicly post their policies regarding hate speech, disinformation, harassment and extremism on their platforms, and report data on their enforcement of the policies. Last year, the governor of Texas signed a bill prohibiting social media firms from restricting users or their posts based on their viewpoint. The Supreme Court in May blocked the law, after technology industry groups sued. "California will not stand by as social media is weaponized to spread hate and disinformation that threaten our communities and foundational values as a country," Newsom said in a statement.”

CNN: US Sets Up Fund That Could Transfer Frozen Billions To Afghanistan If Conditions Are Met

“The Biden administration has worked with Switzerland and Afghan economists to set up a new fund that could eventually serve as a mechanism to put billions of dollars in frozen Afghan money to use to promote economic stability in the country, according to two senior US officials. The US is moving $3.5 billion to the new “Afghan Fund,” but officials said they won’t release the money imminently because there is no trusted institution in Afghanistan to guarantee the funds will benefit the Afghan people, the officials said. Transferring these funds to the Afghan central bank will depend on two key factors: responsible management of the bank and assurances that the funds will not be diverted to terrorists or criminals, the officials added. “We do not have that confidence today,” said a senior US official. At minimum the Afghan central bank will need to “demonstrate its independence from political influence and interference.” It will also need to demonstrate it has “instituted adequate anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism controls” and “complete a third party needs assessment and onboard a reputable third party monitoring,” the official explained.”

United States

Washington Examiner: Republicans Slam Biden Over Plea Deal Negotiations With Al Qaeda 9/11 Plotters

“Republicans are condemning the Biden administration’s decision to enter into plea deal negotiations with the al Qaeda mastermind and facilitators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks — which could take the death penalty off the table. Negotiations between prosecutors and defense attorneys at Guantanamo Bay could reportedly result in guilty plea deals in which capital punishment would not be a possible punishment for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants. Top Republicans have criticized any such possibility. “Joe Biden’s allies are negotiating lesser sentences for 9/11 attackers,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, tweeted. “If they won’t punish terrorists, how can we trust them to lock up criminals in your neighborhood?” The House Armed Services Committee’s Republicans said: “The Biden admin is doing the unthinkable – they are considering offering the terrorists, who organized those attacks, plea deals to escape the death penalty” and that “these terrorists killed thousands of innocent people – they deserve the death penalty.” After 21 years, justice has yet to be attained in the case against the plotters of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and a year of plea negotiations and canceled hearings at Guantanamo Bay has pushed any potential trial back even further.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Taliban Says 40 Rebel Force Members Killed In Northern Panjshir

“The Taliban said on Tuesday they had killed 40 rebel force members, including four commanders, in the northern Afghan province of Panjshir. The Taliban proclaimed victory over the province in September 2021, weeks after they took over the capital Kabul as foreign forces withdrew. Resistance groups have since said they have been carrying out operations in the area and clashing with Taliban fighters. The Taliban has in the past denied widespread fighting, saying they have established control of the entire country. "Due to a clearance operation against rebels in Rekha, Dara and Afshar (areas) of Panjshir province, 40 have been killed including four commanders and 100 more have been arrested," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a Tweet on Tuesday. The National Resistance Front, a group opposing the Taliban which has in the past claimed activity in the area, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Located just north of the capital Kabul, Panjshir is one of the smallest of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. It played a critical role in the resistance against Soviet occupation in the 1980s and was the centre of resistance against the Taliban when it ruled Afghanistan from to 1996 to 2001.”

Pakistan

Reuters: Anti-Taliban Tribal Leader Among 5 Killed In Northwest Pakistan Bombing

“Five people were killed in a blast in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, including an influential anti-Taliban tribal leader, police said, in the fist major bombing in over a decade in an area that was once a battleground between security forces and militants. The attack comes as fears rise about the return of Pakistani Taliban, also known as the TTP, to the Swat area of Pakistan, and peace talks between security forces and militants, that started last year, have failed. Peace committee leader Idrees Khan's vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device, killing him and two bodyguards, Swat police officer Zahid Marwat told Reuters. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. Khan was a local elder and previously the head of a tribal force fighting against the TTP in Swat. Pakistani forces, along with local fighters, were able to drive the militants from the area in an intense military operation.”

Yemen

Al-Monitor: Terror Attacks Persist In South Yemen

“Terror groups are still finding room to operate in in Yemen. On Sept. 6, an attack attributed to the al-Qaeda terrorist group killed 21 separatist soldiers in Ahwar district of Abyan province in southern Yemen. With machine guns and hand grenades, the radical militants hit a checkpoint manned by the Security Belt Forces, a military unit affiliated with the Southern Transitional Council (STC). The clash also left six of the attackers dead. Reacting to the attack, the authorities in southern Yemen vowed to continue their war on terror. The internationally recognized government's Defense Minister Mohsen Al-Daeri said the incident will not deter the armed forces from countering terrorist organizations and that there is a need for greater coordination among security forces. Though the government and the separatists have been at loggerheads in southern Yemen, both sides condemned the killing of 21 soldiers. STC head Aidrous Al-Zubaidi also pledged to continue the fight against terrorist organizations in the south. He said in a Sept. 6 statement,"The battle against terrorism in all its forms continues, and it will not cease until every inch of the southern territory is purged of terrorism."”

Lebanon

The Times Of Israel: IDF Intel Chief: Were It Not For Hezbollah, Lebanon Would Normalize Ties With Israel

“The head of Military Intelligence on Tuesday said that if not for the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group holding Lebanon “hostage,” Beirut would have normalized ties with Jerusalem. “I look at the Abraham Accords and ask if Lebanon could be there,” Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva said at a conference at Herzliya’s Reichman University, referring to a series of diplomatic agreements in 2020 between Israel and several Arab nations. “And I say to myself, if Hezbollah would not have taken Lebanon hostage — I’m convinced it would have been,” he said. Haliva warned Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who has ramped up threats and military provocations amid recent tensions between Israel and Lebanon over a maritime dispute. “I hope for Nasrallah’s sake that he does not underestimate the Israeli response to [potential] actions. I remind Nasrallah that Israel’s power is very great and I’m not sure he wants to test it,” he said. “Nasrallah knows how to assess Israeli intelligence and Israel’s firepower. Nasrallah is a serious man. He knows what I’m talking about,” Haliva added.”

Middle East

Axios: Israeli Officials In D.C. Try To Justify Terrorist Designation For 6 Palestinian NGOs

“An Israeli delegation held talks in Washington last week to try to convince the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies to back Israel's designation of six Palestinian civil society groups as terrorist organizations, three Israeli officials told Axios. Why it matters: The designation and other moves by Israel against the Palestinian NGOs over the last year led to harsh criticism from progressives in Washington, including members of Congress and liberal Jewish organizations. Israeli officials admitted to Axios the designation has harmed Israel’s image in the U.S., especially inside the Democratic party. Catch up quick: Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz designated six Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations as "terrorist organizations" last October in a move widely condemned internationally. The Israeli military raided the offices of the organizations last month, claiming they are affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which is designated by Israel and the U.S. as a terrorist organization. The groups deny they are involved in terrorism. The United Nations human rights office criticized the raids as "totally arbitrary" and said in a statement at the time that "despite offers to do so, Israeli authorities have not presented to the United Nations any credible evidence to justify these declarations.”

The Times Of Israel: ‘Concrete Warnings’ Terror Groups Mean To Incite Violence On Temple Mount — Report

“Israeli officials have “concrete warnings” that terror groups plan to incite violence in and around the Temple Mount ahead of the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, Kan news reported Tuesday, citing an unnamed security official. The official said the danger was presented during a security assessment that included Prime Minister Yair Lapid, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev and Israel Police chief Kobi Shabtai. The source also said police had issued restraining orders to known Jewish and Arab agitators to keep away from the site during the upcoming holiday season. East Jerusalem social media accounts have encouraged Muslims to visit the Temple Mount throughout the upcoming Jewish holidays, particularly during the morning and afternoon, when Jews are allowed to visit. Palestinian news outlet WAFA reported that the call went out due to an increase in Jewish prayer activity at the flashpoint holy site and other activities Palestinians consider to be a threat to the status quo. WAFA also reported that some Jewish activists hope to bring the four species, specific plants used to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, onto the Temple Mount later next month.”

The Times Of Israel: Senior Officer Killed In West Bank Firefight Identified As Maj. Bar Falah, 30

“A senior Israel Defense Forces officer killed while leading his troops to arrest two suspected terrorists early Wednesday was identified as Maj. Bar Falah, 30, the deputy commander of the elite Nahal reconnaissance unit, the military said. The two gunmen, one of whom was an officer in the Palestinian Authority security services, were killed in the subsequent firefight. Falah, from the coastal city of Netanya, was hailed for his bravery. “A warrior in all his being, he fought terrorism and led his fighters until his final hour. The operational activity in which he was killed thwarted a major terrorist attack and saved many lives,” said Prime Minister Yair Lapid. “There are no words to console his family, partner, and friends over this great loss,” Lapid said. “Bar lost his life fulfilling the mission of protecting and maintaining the safety of the citizens of Israel. My condolences to his family, his partner, and his loved ones,” said President Isaac Herzog.”

Nigeria

Reuters: Nigerian Separatist Leader Challenges Terrorism Charges, Court Reserves Ruling

“Nigeria's Court of Appeal on Tuesday reserved judgment after separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu sought to have charges of terrorism and broadcasting falsehoods against him dropped, his lawyers said. Kanu, a British citizen, is in jail awaiting trial and denies the charges against him. His lawyers told the court that the charges lacked merit and Kanu should be acquitted. State prosecutors opposed the application and want Kanu to stand trial. A three-judge panel of the court said a ruling would be made at a later date. Kanu leads the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which has been pressing for the secession of a part of southeast Nigeria, home to the mainly Igbo ethnic group. Nigeria's government views IPOB as a terrorist group and blames it on a spate of killings and attacks on government buildings in the southeast, which the group denies. An attempt by Igbo separatists to secede as the Republic of Biafra in 1967 - the year Kanu was born - triggered a three-year civil war that killed more than 1 million people.”

Somalia

AFP: Somalia President Urges Citizens To Avoid Al-Shabaab Territory

“Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud urged citizens to stay away from areas controlled by Al-Shabaab jihadists as he vowed to ratchet up offensives against the militants. The Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents have been waging a war against the government of the troubled Horn of Africa nation for 15 years and control large swathes of territory in the country. Mohamud, who had earlier pledged "all-out war" against the group after it staged a deadly 30-hour hotel siege in the capital Mogadishu last month, called on "the Somali people to stay away from locations where Al-Shabaab is present." "Al-Shabaab will be confronted using every method that war allows -- they will be bombed, raided and subjected to airborne attacks, so... stay away from them," he said in a speech on Monday after wrapping up a high-level political conference in Mogadishu. "Every Shabaab member is a target, every Shabaab army is target -- just the same way they are targeting and killing the Somali people." The recently elected president urged people to stop taking their disputes to so-called shadow courts run by the jihadists -- with Somalis complaining of weak enforcement by the country's legal system. "Don't die in Al-Shabaab's war when you are not one of them," he said.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On September 26, 2019, the Taliban ambushed security outposts in three districts across Afghanistan—Pashton Kot, Darzab, and Dara-e-Suf. At least 22 officers were killed and 16 others were wounded in the attacks.     

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