Eye on Extremism: September 21, 2022

Reuters: NZ's Ardern Says Christchurch Call Anti-Online Hate Project Gets New Tech Investments

“New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday announced a new research initiative under a global project aimed at tackling online hate set up in the wake of a mass killing by a white supremacist in Christchurch in 2019. Ardern said in a statement that as part of the Christchurch Call initiative, New Zealand, the United States, Twitter (TWTR.N) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) will invest an undisclosed sum in developing new technology aimed at helping researchers understand how algorithms affect internet users' experiences. Partners in the initiative will work together to build and test a set of privacy-enhancing technologies that, once proven, could form the basis for infrastructure to support independent study of impacts of algorithms, according to the statement. "This initiative won't tell us all we need to know about the outcomes algorithms are driving online, it will help us better access data so researchers can answer these very questions," the statement said.”

Associated Press: Palestinian Forces Clash With Gunmen; Woman Killed In Israel

“Palestinian security forces exchanged fire with militants in the center of the West Bank’s second-largest city Tuesday as angry residents pelted an armored jeep with objects and chased it away. One man was reported dead. In separate violence, Israeli police said late Tuesday that an 84-year-old woman was beaten to death in central Israel and that they were searching for a Palestinian suspect. Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the killing “pure evil.” The fighting in Nablus, sparked by an arrest raid against local militants, marked a rare case of deadly internal Palestinian fighting in the occupied West Bank. It also reflected the deep unpopularity of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority, which is widely seen as collaborating with an entrenched and unbearable system of Israeli military domination. Amateur videos posted to social media showed local youths pelting a Palestinian military-style jeep with bricks, stones and metal bars before chasing the vehicle from the central Martyrs Square. The sound of gunfire echoed through the city, known as the West Bank’s business capital, for several hours. The violence was reminiscent of how Palestinians typically protest against Israeli troops. By midafternoon, the Palestinian forces had withdrawn and the city remained quiet. The northern West Bank is known as a stronghold of Palestinian militants, and the Palestinian Authority has frequently had difficulties maintaining control in the area over the years.”


Reuters: Iran Unrest Death Toll Rises As Protests Intensify

“Iranian authorities said on Wednesday three people including a member of the security forces had been killed during unrest sweeping the country, as anger at the death of a woman in police custody fuelled protests for a fifth day. Rights groups reported at least one more person was killed on Tuesday, which would take the death toll to least seven. The death last week of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by morality police in Tehran for "unsuitable attire", unleashed simmering anger over issues including freedoms in the Islamic Republic and an economy reeling from sanctions. After beginning on Saturday at Amini's funeral in Iran's Kurdistan province, protests have engulfed much of the country, prompting confrontations as security forces have sought to suppress them. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not mention the protests - some of Iran's worst unrest since street clashes last year over water shortages - during a speech on Wednesday commemorating the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.”


Reuters: Israeli, Turkish Leaders Hold First Meeting Since 2008

“Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday for the first face-to-face talks between leaders of the U.S.-allied nations since 2008, Lapid's office said. Israel-Turkey relations, long-frosty amid feuding over the Palestinian cause, have warmed in recent months, with energy emerging of as a key area of cooperation. They are expected to exchange new ambassadors soon. As well as discussing energy, Lapid thanked Erdogan for the countries' intelligence sharing and noted Israel's demand for the return of four of its citizens - two of them soldiers - missing in the Gaza Strip since a 2014 war, Lapid's office said. NATO-member Turkey has been hosting members of Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist movement that rules Gaza and which much of the West designates as a terrorist group. That relationship has often been a sticking point in bids to rebuild Israel ties.”


Reuters: At U.N., Emotional Appeals For World Leaders To Protect Afghan Girls' Education

“After pleading with world leaders at the United Nations to protect the education and rights of women in Afghanistan a year after the Taliban took over, Somaya Faruqi, former captain of the Afghan girls robotics team, broke down in tears backstage. "I was in classroom last year, but this year girls are not in classroom. Classrooms are empty, and they are at their homes. So it was too hard to control myself, control my feelings," Faruqi, 20, told Reuters. Faruqi, who now attends the Missouri University of Science and Technology, left Afghanistan in August last year, when the Islamist Taliban seized power and the United States and allies withdrew forces after a 20-year war. Speaking at the United Nations in New York this week as world leaders gather for the high-level meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, she urged them to unite and demand the reopening of girls' schools and protection of their rights.”


Arab News: Yemeni Troops Take Control Of Abyan’s Omaran Valley From Al-Qaeda

“Yemeni troops have announced they have taken control of a large valley in Abyan’s southern province from Al-Qaeda, forcing its fighters to abandon their hiding spots and training facilities. Mohammed Al-Naqeeb, a spokesperson for the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council, said forces had retaken control of the long and steep Omaran valley in the governorate, and were now working to defuse landmines and explosive devices to allow people to return to their villages. “We have removed all terrorist elements from the valley, forcing them to flee to other mountains. We won’t let them surge again,” Al-Naqeeb said. The announcement came a day after the same military forces announced the expulsion of Al-Qaeda militants from a major military facility in the Omaran valley, where they hid hostages, prepared explosive-rigged cars, and plotted deadly attacks on government targets in liberated areas. Southern military forces last week crossed into Al-Qaeda strongholds in southern provinces, in a military offensive aimed at expelling militants from remote rural areas in Abyan and Shabwa. After the demining mission in the Omaran valley is complete, Al-Naqeeb said forces will go to highland and valley regions in the neighboring Mahfad district in Abyan to pursue Al-Qaeda fighters.”

Saudi Arabia

Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia Renews Support To Int’l Efforts To Combat Extremism

“The Saudi government reiterated on Tuesday the Kingdom's support to international efforts aimed at combating extremism. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz chaired the cabinet meeting that was held in Jeddah. The ministers underscored Saudi Arabia’s speech at the Seventh Congress of the Leaders of World and Traditional Religions held in Kazakhstan. There, it expressed its stance on fighting extremism and highlighted its effective contribution to bolstering communication between civilizations and cultures through its message of Islam, which is based on peace, justice, tolerance and moderation. The cabinet was briefed on the messages received by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the Emir of Kuwait and president of Nigeria. It was briefed on the separate meetings held in the Kingdom between Crown Prince Mohammed and Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Sabah and President of the European Council, Charles Michel. The cabinet praised the ties that bind Saudi Arabia with various countries and peoples and its keenness on developing and bolstering them in various fields. The ministers reviewed reports on various conferences and international and regional events that were hosted by the Kingdom over the week.”


BBC News: Nigeria Boko Haram Crisis: The Women Walking Miles To Save Their Children's Lives

“Fati Usman's son lies on a hospital bed in north-eastern Nigeria, looking almost lifeless. He has difficulty breathing and looks extremely emaciated. A fly perches on his gaunt cheek. From his size, you would think he is about two years old. But his mother says he is actually five. He is just one of several million people caught up in a massive humanitarian crisis that an Islamist-led insurgency has caused in north-east Nigeria, leaving families in desperate need of food and medical care. Dwindling funds are to blame for people's hunger, say aid workers, as Nigeria's government relies on support from aid agencies and the UN who in turn are more focused on crises in Ukraine and elsewhere. Camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) are a last resort for millions of vulnerable Nigerians, yet Borno state, one of the worst affected, decided to close all such camps last year - labelling them slums and paying $200 (£175) to each family forced to leave. And when it comes to government funding in the wider north-east, the malnutrition crisis comes second to fighting the region's insurgents. Aid workers predict that an estimated 1.74 million children under the age of five could suffer from acute malnutrition in north-east Nigeria in 2022 - a 20% increase from the previous year - and 5,000 could die in the next two months.”

Daily Post Nigeria: ISWAP Kills 2 Boko Haram Commanders In Borno

“The Islamic State of the West African Province (ISWAP), has eliminated two officials of Boko Haram, Abou Hamza (Munzir) and Abou Ibrahim (Nakib), when they stormed the enclaves of the rival faction at the midnight on September 17, 2022, in Gaizuwa in Bama Local Government. It was gathered that the two Commanders were executed in silent Operations by the ISWAP, as their remains were found in their homes in the early morning of September 18. Zagazola Makama, a Counter Insurgency Expert and Security Analyst in Lake Chad said before the latest attack, Boko Haram had vowed to revenge the killing of 29 terrorists including a top Commander ambushed by the ISWAP terrorists. Competent sources disclosed that Boko Haram later invited more than 70 fighters from the axis of Mafa, Karkut, Shiwai, lawe Kanuriye, Kirwa and Amtifur to help them to carry out the reprisal against the ISWAP. The source said ‘They divided themselves into two groups before taking off from Gaizuwa. “But before arriving at the ISWAP enclave, they came under another heavy fire by the ISWAP who already knew about their plans, killing unspecified numbers of them. “The Boko Haram fighters scampered in different directions with many killed and injured while some were captured Alive and their weapons seized,” he said.”


All Africa: Tanzania: Dar Ratifies Counter-Terrorism Protocol

“Tanzania joins other African Union member states to implement the Protocol to the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, after parliament on Monday unanimously endorsed the resolution for ratification of the protocol. By endorsing the protocol, Tanzania stands a greater chance to gain several benefits, the Minister for Home Affairs, Eng Hamad Yusuph Masauni said when moving the protocol in the august House. Some of the benefits include intensifying defence and security of the people and their properties and simplifying the exchange of intelligence information on terrorism through close collaboration from member states, said the minister. “We will also improve systems for extradition of terrorism suspects as well as intensifying capacity building as well as exchanging skills and training for experts,” he said. Mr Masauni further noted that Tanzania will now be able to use the database centre for terrorism located in Algeria, adding that the new move would help in strengthening socio-economic activities because of the prevailing peace and security. The OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism was adopted by the 35th OAU Summit in Algiers, Algeria, in July 1999, while the Plan of Action for the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism was adopted by the Intergovernmental High Level meeting of Member States of the African Union, held in Algiers, Algeria, September 2002.”

Reuters: Tunisian Police Question Opposition Leader Through Night

“Tunisian police questioned main opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi for more than 12 hours overnight, his lawyer said, over terrorism accusations that Ghannouchi, who was also speaker of the dissolved parliament, says are politically motivated. The 81-year-old head of the Islamist Ennahda party was summoned to meet the terrorism police on Tuesday and questioned from 5:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, his lawyer Samir Dilou said. Ghannouchi and another senior Ennahda figure, former prime minister Ali Laareyedh, were both initially summoned on Monday. Laareyedh was questioned through Monday evening and night and detained. Ghannouchi waited for 12 hours before being questioned. Both men, and Ennahda, deny the accusations the police are investigating, that they helped Tunisian jihadists travel to Syria during the Islamic State crisis a decade ago. They will face a judge later on Wednesday, Dilou said.”

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