Eye on Extremism: September 18, 2023

Reuters: Mali, Niger And Burkina Faso Sign Sahel Security Pact

“Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, three West African Sahel nations ruled by military juntas, signed a security pact on Saturday promising to come to the aid of each other in case of any rebellion or external aggression. The three countries are struggling to contain Islamic insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State and have also seen their relations with neighbours and international partners strained because of the coups. The latest coup in Niger drove a further wedge between the three and countries of the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States, which has threatened to use force to restore constitutional rule in the country. Mali and Burkina Faso have vowed to come to Niger's aid if it is attacked. "Any attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of one or more contracted parties will be considered an aggression against the other parties," according to the charter of the pact, known as the Alliance of Sahel States.”

Reuters: US Welcomes Saudi's Invitation To Yemen's Houthis For Talks

“The U.S. State Department on Friday welcomed Saudi Arabia's invitation to a Houthi-led delegation from Yemen for talks in Riyadh and described it as an "important step towards peace." Saudi Arabia invited Yemen's Houthi delegation to Riyadh to continue ceasefire talks. The kingdom wanted to resume its and Oman's efforts to "reach a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire in Yemen and a sustainable political solution acceptable to all Yemeni parties," Saudi Arabia's state news agency said on Thursday. The peace initiatives have gained momentum since arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to re-establish ties in a deal brokered by China. A permanent ceasefire in Yemen would mark a milestone in stabilizing the Middle East. "This important step towards peace expands on a series of engagements between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis," the U.S. State Department said on Friday. "The talks in Riyadh follow a visit by senior U.S. officials to Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates last week to consult with our regional partners and the Yemeni parties about a viable path toward peace."”

United States

Boston Globe: US Military To Interview Witnesses Wounded At Chaotic Airport Bombing In Afghanistan

“Facing renewed scrutiny, US military officials said Friday they will interview nearly 20 service members wounded two years ago in a catastrophic bombing as the Biden administration raced to leave Afghanistan, firsthand witnesses who investigators never consulted but whose public accounts so far have cast doubt on the Pentagon’s determination that the attack was “not preventable.” General Michael E. Kurilla, who oversees US Central Command, ordered the additional interviews “to ensure we do our due diligence” with information that came to light after the military closed its investigation of the incident, Michael Lawhorn, a Central Command spokesman, said in a statement. By itself, the move does not formally reopen the investigation, completed in November 2021, but the general could determine that doing so becomes necessary once the new interviews are complete. Kurilla, the statement says, wants to ensure that “relevant voices are fully heard and that we take those accounts and examine them seriously and thoroughly so the facts are laid bare.””

The Independent: American White Nationalists Are Fleeing US Sites For Russian Platforms. Here’s Why

“American extremists are popping up on Russian social media platforms for two reasons: One – they’re there. Two – they’re much less moderated. That’s the simple outline physics professor Neil Johnson at Georgetown University gave to The Independent over a video call. On Facebook, far-right communities are “like a PG 13 version of what they can do on other sites just because of moderation,” the Harvard-educated Brit says. “Certain kinds of symbols, hate speech, and activities can get them shut down. And since they rely on followers and support, they don’t want to be shut down.” The extremists instead post links on Facebook directing users to Russian platforms. The shooter who murdered eight people and injured another seven in a shooting in Dallas in May of this year had an account on OK.RU – a Russian social media site – using it to interact with content shared by white nationalists, according to NBC News.”


Associated Press: An Explosion Hits An Apartment In Northern Syria. At Least 1 Person Was Killed With Others Wounded

“An explosion ripped through an apartment on the second floor of a building in a northern Syria town controlled by Turkey-backed opposition fighters Saturday, killing at least one person and wounding others, pro-government media reported. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the blast in the town of Afrin, which has witnessed explosions and rocket attacks over the past few years that have left dozens of people killed or wounded. The previous attacks were blamed on Kurdish fighters who once controlled the town. The daily Al-Watan said that one person was killed and several people were wounded in the explosion in the residential building. Sham FM radio station said that two people were killed and several others were wounded in the blast. It added that gunmen used the apartment to prepare explosives. Afrin has been under the control of Turkey and its allied Syrian opposition fighters since 2018, following a Turkey-backed military operation that pushed Syrian Kurdish fighters and thousands of Kurdish residents from the area.”

Rudaw: UN Calls For An End To The Fighting In Deir Ez-Zor

“The UN human rights chief on Thursday called for de-escalation and dialogue in eastern Syria following recent fighting in Deir ez-Zor between the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Arab tribes, stressing that the people of Syria cannot afford another “catastrophic dimension” to the conflict that has already affected millions. A number of Arab tribes revolted against the SDF in late August, hours after the US-backed force arrested Ahmed Khbeil, commander of the SDF-linked Deir ez-Zor Military Council better known as Abu Khawla, accusing him of collaborating with the Syrian government, drug trafficking, and failing to curb an increase of Islamic State (ISIS) activities in the area. SDF on September 6 said that it had recaptured all areas from regime-backed tribesmen. “We cannot afford to sit back and watch the country slide even deeper into an endless conflict, which has already scarred the lives of so many civilians,” read a statement from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk, warning that the signs of a further fragmentation to the conflict are “alarming.””


ABC: Iraq's LGBT Community Could Face Death Penalty Under Proposed New Law

“Ammar and his partner are ecstatic about the prospect of adopting their first child. The same-sex couple have just begun the adoption process in Melbourne, where 36-year-old Ammar works as a dentist. Back in Iraq, he hadn't even dared to dream about the possibility of a real relationship, let alone a family. From the age of 12, Ammar grew up with confusion and fear of his own feelings, as he saw the LGBT community around him face harassment, assault and even murder. Soon, Iraqi LGBT people could officially face the death penalty under a law that was proposed last month and is currently before parliament. While the law is still under review, human rights groups say the proposal has already led to an escalation in anti-LGBT sentiment. In recent protests, LGBT flags were burned, and images showed men signing pledges to stand against homosexuality outside mosques. Last month, the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission ordered all media, including social media, to replace the term "homosexuality" with "sexual deviance". The word "gender" was also banned.”

Associated Press: At The Request Of Baghdad, UN Will End In 1 Year Its Probe Of Islamic State Extremists In Iraq

“The Security Council on Friday voted unanimously to end, a year from now, a U.N. probe into activities of Islamic State extremists in Iraq. The vote came at the request of the Iraqi government. The U.K.-sponsored resolution noted that Baghdad also asked that U.N. investigators hand over evidence they have gathered so far to the government, so that Iraqi authorities can pursue IS members’ accountability, as well as that of those who assisted and financed “this terrorist organization.” The Security Council in September 2017 set up the investigative team — also at Iraq’s request — to collect evidence against members of the Islamic State group to be used in trials. Christian Ritscher, the head of the team, told the council in June that its investigators were compiling evidence on the development and use of chemical weapons by Islamic State extremists and advancing their documentation on the militant group’s gender-based violence and crimes against children, Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Christians and Yazidis.”

Military.Com: Iraq Steps Up Repatriations From Islamic State Camp In Syria, Hoping To Reduce Militant Threats

“Iraq is stepping up repatriation of its citizens from a camp in northeastern Syria housing tens of thousands of people, mostly wives and children of Islamic State fighters but also supporters of the militant group. It’s a move that Baghdad hopes will reduce cross-border militant threats and eventually lead to shutting down the facility. After U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led fighters defeated the Islamic State group in Syria in March 2019 — ending its self-proclaimed Islamic “caliphate” that had ruled over a large swath of territory straddling Iraq and Syria — thousands of IS fighters and their families were taken to the camp known as al-Hol. Many of them were Iraqi nationals. Today, Iraqi officials see the facility, close to the Iraq-Syria border, as a major threat to their country's security, a hotbed of the militants' radical ideology and a place where thousands of children have been growing up into future militants.”


Reuters: Three Killed In Turkish Drone Strike On YBS Fighters In Northern Iraq

“A Turkish drone strike in northern Iraq on Sunday killed three fighters from the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS), a militia affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), Iraqi security sources said. Three YBS fighters were in their vehicle in the Sinjar area when the drone strike hit them, two security sources told Reuters. There has been a long-running Turkish campaign in Iraq and Syria against militants of the PKK, YBS and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which are all regarded as terrorist groups by Ankara. Turkey regularly carries out air strikes in northern Iraq and has dozens of outposts on Iraqi territory but has stepped up its drone attacks in recent days, striking closer to urban areas and on main roads.”


Associated Press: The Taliban Have Detained 18 Staff, Including A Foreigner, From An Afghanistan-Based NGO, It Says

“The Taliban have detained 18 staffers, including a foreigner, from a nongovernmental organization based in Afghanistan, the nonprofit group said Friday. NGOs have come under greater scrutiny since the Taliban seized control of the country two years ago. The Taliban introduced harsh measures and barred Afghan women from education beyond the sixth grade as well as from public life and work, including working for NGOs. A U.S. watchdog reported earlier this year that the Taliban are harassing NGOs operating in the country. The International Assistance Mission said 18 of its staff were taken away by the Taliban on two separate occasions this month from the NGO’s office in central Ghor province. The 18 detained were taken to Kabul, the group said. “We are unaware of the circumstances that led to these incidents and have not been advised of the reason for the detention of our staff members,” it said in a statement. “The well-being and security of our colleagues are paramount to us, and we are doing everything possible to ensure their safety and secure their swift release.””


Voice Of America: Pakistani PM Urges Increased Collaboration With Afghan Taliban To Achieve Shared Goals

“Pakistan's caretaker prime minister, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, has written a letter to his Taliban counterpart in Afghanistan, stressing the need to address the security and economic challenges facing both countries. Kakar's letter to Taliban Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund comes amid persistent tensions over Islamabad's complaints that Kabul is not doing enough to prevent cross-border "terrorist" attacks being planned on Afghan soil. While discussing the letter's contents Sunday, a Pakistani official told VOA it was written to thank Akhund for his recent "felicitation message" to Kakar after he assumed office last month. The official, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media publicly, said that Kakar conveyed "our security concerns" and underlined the need to jointly address them to allow both countries to expand economic and trade cooperation. "Enhanced regional trade and connectivity remains vital for the prosperity of our peoples. We must work assiduously to achieve these shared goals," the Pakistani prime minister wrote.”


Associated Press: Fatah Gives Deadline For Handover Of General’s Killers Amid Fragile Truce In Lebanon Refugee Camp

“A top official with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah group said Sunday that Palestinian and Lebanese officials have given militant Islamic groups in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp until the end of the month to hand over the accused killers of a Fatah general. A fragile calm has largely prevailed in the Ein el-Hilweh camp since Thursday night after the warring sides reached the latest in a series of cease-fire agreements. It followed a week of intense fighting that killed at least 18 people and wounded and displaced hundreds. Top officials from rival Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas had traveled to Lebanon in an attempt to negotiate an end to the clashes. Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of Fatah’s central committee and of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Sunday that he is “optimistic about reaching a solution.” But, he added, if the accused are not handed over by the end of the month, “all possibilities are open.””

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: IDF Strikes Hamas Post After Renewed Rioting On Gaza Border

“The Israeli military carried out a drone strike against a Hamas observation post in the Gaza Strip in response to renewed rioting by Palestinians along the border on Friday. In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces said hundreds of Palestinians rioted on the Israeli border on Friday afternoon, including setting off explosive devices on the security barrier and hurling grenades at troops. The IDF said soldiers stationed in the area responded with riot dispersal means and live fire in some cases. No soldiers were hurt, the IDF said. As the protest dispersed, the military said it carried out a drone strike against a Hamas observation post near the border. No injuries were immediately reported. The terror group, which rules the territory, appears to have resumed regular provocations along the frontier. The strike was seen as a warning to Hamas. Footage from the rioting showed tires set on fire along the Israeli security barrier, and troops responding with tear gas.”

Rudaw: Kurdish Security Council Says Arrested ISIS Official In Makhmour

“The Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) on Saturday announced the arrest of an Islamic State (ISIS) official near Makhmour district, southwest of the capital Erbil.  Zidan Khalifa Ahmad Matar (also known as Abu Laila) was emir of the group’s Saad Bin Abi Waqqas sector of the so-called Tigris state and was operating near Mount Qarachogh in Makhmour, the security council said in a video released on Facebook.  He was arrested on September 6. Khalifa joined ISIS in 2014. He was responsible for a mortar detachment and participated in battles against Peshmerga forces in Makhmour, according to the KRSC. In 2017 he was put in charge of an ISIS checkpoint near Mount Qarachogh with instructions to carry out assassinations and abduct civilians for ransom. Mount Qarachogh is located within an area where there is a security vacuum between the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi federal forces. ISIS has taken advantage of the situation to harass local residents and carry out attacks. The federal budget passed earlier this year includes funds for joint Peshmerga-Iraq brigades to combat ISIS in these areas.”

i24: Palestinian Terrorist Groups Hamas, PFLP Call For A New Intifada

“Deputy head of the Hamas political wing Saleh al-Arouri and deputy secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) Jamil Mazhar called on Palestinians to resume the intifada against Israel. “The Palestinian Authority must return to the intifada to achieve national unity and resolve the Palestinian question on national and democratic grounds,” they said at a meeting in Beirut on Saturday. The statement comes amid heightened security tensions in the Palestinian territories and a steady stream of intelligence reports regarding planned terrorist attacks against Israelis. The two terror operatives also discussed the situation in a restive Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. At least 17 people have been killed and around 100 wounded in the fighting in Ain al-Helweh refugee camp, on the outskirts of the port city of Sidon. Both Hamas and PFLP said they supported all the measures that would stabilize the situation.”


People’s Gazette: Group Commends Military For Rehabilitating 2,168 Repentant Boko Haram Terrorists

“The Nigerian Spokesman Media and a Civil Society Organisation, known as the Concerned Professional Congress (CPC), have commended the Nigerian Army for rehabilitating 2,168 repentant insurgents. The group stated this on Friday in Gombe while briefing reporters on the eight years impact of Operation Safe Corridor deradicalisation and rehabilitation programme of the Nigerian Army. The Deradicalisation, Rehabilitation and Re-integration (DRR) policy was implemented by the Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) of the Nigerian Army, aimed at deradicalising, rehabilitating and reintegrating ex-Boko Haram members back to the society. Emeka Nwankpa, the Editor-In-Chief of Nigerian Spokesman Media, said they were at the deradicalisation centre to assess the eight-year impact of the programme. He noted that 2,168 have undergone the programme and were reintegrated in to the society to contribute their quota as responsible citizens. “When we visited the camp, we discovered those who surrendered to the Nigerian military and repented voluntarily undergo rehabilitation at the camp,” he said.”


Voice Of America: Al-Shabab Attacks Ethiopian Military Convoys In Somalia

“Al-Shabab militants attacked convoys carrying Ethiopian soldiers in Somalia’s southwestern Bakool region early Sunday, Somali officials said. The ambush targeted two convoys, one traveling from the Somali town of Yeed to Wajid and the second convoy as it traveled from El Barde to the town of Huddur. Ethiopian troops have bases in Wajid and Huddur. A Somali official said local forces were accompanying the convoy that was en route to Huddur from El Barde. The mayor of Huddur, Omar Abdullahi Mohamud, told VOA Somali that the fighting started after the al-Shabab ambushes. “The fighting started after the anti-peace elements attacked the Ethiopian and Somali military convoy moving towards Wajid and Huddur, starting off their attack with explosion,” Mohamud said. “The troops have repulsed, and the situation is calm.” Mohamud claimed the militants lost as many as 50 fighters.”


Voice Of America: Conflict In Northern Mali Resumes Amid UN Withdrawal

“As the U.N. mission to Mali withdraws from the northern part of the country, hostilities between the Malian army and Tuareg rebels have reignited and Islamist attacks have increased amid the chaos. Residents say they are effectively stuck in a war zone as the north is cut off from the south via road, air and river after a deadly attack on a passenger boat and the suspension of flights by Mali’s only commercial airline. The Coordination of Azawad Movements, or CMA, a coalition of Tuareg separatist groups who signed a peace agreement with the Malian government in 2015, declared itself at war with Mali this week. Tuareg rebels launched an offensive in 2012 in northern Mali backed by Islamist militants. The rebels and militants eventually splintered, and Islamist forces seized control of northern Mali before the French army intervened and pushed them out of power in 2013. An Islamist insurgency continues to ravage the north and center of the country.”

United Kingdom

BBC: Boy From Birmingham Charged With Terrorism Offences

“He has been charged with possessing and disseminating information useful to a terrorist, inviting support for a banned organisation and claiming to belong to a proscribed organisation. West Midlands Police said the 16-year-old, from Birmingham, was arrested at London Stansted Airport on 9 September. The teenager appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Friday. He has been released on bail ahead of an appearance at court next week, the force said.”

BBC: Wagner Group Formally Banned As Terror Organisation In The UK

“The order was approved on Friday - making it illegal to be a member of, or to support, Wagner. Those found guilty of aiding the paramilitary could face steep fines and penalties of up to 14 years in prison. Proposing the order last week, Home Secretary Suella Braverman called Wagner a "threat to global security". "Wagner's continuing destabilising activities only continue to serve the Kremlin's political goals," Ms Braverman said. "They are terrorists, plain and simple - and this proscription order makes that clear in UK law." Under the order, it is a criminal offence to support the group. This includes arranging meetings to further its activities, expressing support for its aims and also displaying Wagner's flag or logo. Those found guilty of supporting Wagner could be sentenced to up to 14 years in prison, or face a fine.”


Deccan Herald: How Germany's Extreme Right Seized On The Martial Arts Scene

“…The festivals — which are often declared political events, making them harder to ban and ensuring that any profit will be tax-exempt — typically feature a right-wing extremist speaker or seminar, according to Hans-Jakob Schindler, the Berlin-based senior director of the Counter Extremism Project. And while MMA tournaments in Europe typically feature fighters from different racial groups, these events allow only white fighters to take part. “They’re trying to broaden the capture area,” Schindler said. “You get people to buy the T-shirt, you can get them to come to one of the festivals. And you slowly begin speaking them to them about how the political system is bad. And so you draw them in a bit more subtly than you did in the past.”


Military.Com: Court Sentences Main Suspects In Belgium's Deadliest Peacetime Attack To 20-Year To Life Terms

“A Belgian court on Friday sentenced five men to sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison on charges of terrorist murder in connection with 2016 suicide bombings that killed 32 people and wounded hundreds at Brussels airport and a busy subway station, the country’s deadliest peacetime attack. vA chief suspect, Salah Abdeslam, had previously been given a 20-year sentence for involvement in a shootout days before the March 22, 2016, attacks and received no further jail time. It happened after police discovered him and another suspect by accident when they inspected what they thought was an empty apartment. Four officers were hurt. Abdeslam was serving a life sentence without parole in France over his part in attacks that hit Paris cafes, the Bataclan theater and France’s national stadium in 2015. Both the Paris and Brussels attacks were linked to the same Islamic State network.”


Wall Street Journal: New Orleans DA Fights ‘Terrorism’ On Streets With AI Spycraft

“The case against Dijon Dixon, accused of killing Cornelius Smith in 2019, looked to be falling apart after a key witness backed out following an online death threat. Then prosecutors presented the defense team with a detailed and dramatic timeline featuring some of Dixon’s social-media posts—including one in which the serial numbers of the Glock he was holding were partially visible. Dixon took a plea deal. bThe timeline was assembled by a team of people who once tracked international terrorists online and now are working for first-term New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams. The newly created task force is working to use machine-learning to autogenerate subpoenas for social-media and wireless companies, analyze the reams of data obtained and create vivid, detail-packed timelines. Williams hired the team of 11 to take a 21st-century approach to tackling a surge in violent crime, exacerbated by an understaffed police department and an enormous backlog of cases.”

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. 

View Archive

CEP on Twitter