Eye on Extremism: September 22, 2020

Reuters: Sudan To Discuss Removal From Terror List As U.S. Pushes Closer Israel Ties

“Sudanese officials will discuss the removal of their country from a U.S. list of state sponsors of terror with U.S. officials during a visit to the United Arab Emirates this week, the ruling council said on Sunday. Sudan's transitional government, in charge since the toppling of Omar al-Bashir last year, has been pushing to get off the U.S. list, which hinders its ability to access foreign loans to tackle an economic crisis. In August, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the issue of Sudan establishing ties with Israel during a visit. Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok told him he had no mandate to do so. The UAE, a key partner of the U.S., and Bahrain have normalized ties with Israel in deals brokered by Washington, the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to break a longstanding taboo. President Donald Trump has said he expects other Arab countries to follow suit. Ties with Israel are a sensitive issue in Sudan, which was among the hardline Muslim foes of Israel under Bashir. The ruling council said its head, General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, and Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdelbari were in the delegation set to fly on Sunday to Abu Dhabi, where they would first meet UAE officials to discuss regional issues.”

Houston Chronicle: Trio Arrested In Colombia And Three Wanted By FBI For Narco-Terrorism Case In Houston

“The top Justice Department official in Houston announced the arrest in Colombia of three people affiliated with the Ejército de Liberación Nacional, a paramilitary group considered a foreign terrorist organization, on allegations they’re involved in an international drug conspiracy linked to terrorism. Last week Colombian officials arrested Yamit “Choncha” Picon-Rodriguez, 36, Jose Gabriel “Alex” Alvarez-Ortiz, 26, and Henry “Moncho Picada” Trigos-Celon, 43, upon the request of U.S. federal agents, according to a news release. A U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesperson declined to comment about extradition. The federal case in Houston centers on Wilver “El Puerco” Villegas-Palomino, 38, an alleged ELN leader who is an international fugitive as of Feb. 13. He operated in the the Northeast War Front in the Catatumbo region of Colombia and Venezuela.”

United States

CBS South Florida: Florida Man Arrested For Creating, Spreading ISIS Propaganda: FBI

“A Florida man is behind bars after FBI agents say he attempted to provide “material support” to the terrorist organization the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, also known as ISIS. According to a federal arrest affidavit, 23-year-old Jonathan Guerra - who went by the name Abu Zahr Al-Andalusi - caught the attention of the FBI for his role as the head of an unofficial media outlet for ISIS, which created and disseminated propaganda for the organization. Guerra, who federal officials say is Cuban born and a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Lehigh Acres, would recruit other ISIS sympathizers with “foreign language abilities” in order to translate propaganda and instructional content, the affidavit says.  Federal prosecutors say, since the FBI's investigation into Guerra began in October 2019, he had communicated with three different online covert employees, and pursued two of them romantically. During their communication, Guerra revealed his true identity, which included images of himself, and his role in spreading propaganda for the terrorist organization Guerra was accused of creating several videos promoting ISIS, including a “Call to Islam” video that featured the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.”

Ledger-Enquirer: Auburn Man Gets Federal Prison Time For Lying To FBI About Disseminating ISIS Videos

“An Auburn, Alabama, man who lied to the FBI about distributing terrorist propaganda and tried to go to Syria to join ISIS has been sentenced to federal prison. Authorities announced Monday that 26-year-old Nayef Amjad Qashou is to serve 57 months in prison for making false statements to federal agents during a 2018 terrorism probe. Authorities said the FBI started monitoring Qashou after getting tips that his “erratic behavior” indicated he might be interested in joining the terrorist group ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Agents suspecting Qashou was sharing propaganda videos questioned him on Sept. 26, 2018, when the suspect acknowledged compiling and distributing “educational” videos related to Islam, prosecutors said in a news release. Qashou told investigators he compiled 37 videos and “misrepresented the nature and content of the videos,” the release said. The agents later discovered Qashou distributed 115 ISIS propaganda videos. “Qashou admitted he knowingly lied about the number and content of the videos in order to protect individuals depicted in them and to impede the investigation into his actions,” said the news release from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Montgomery.”

Syria

The Washington Free Beacon: U.S. Increases Troop Presence In Syria As Russian And ISIS Threats Grow

“Military officials announced a slight uptick in American troop presence in Syria as a bulwark against increasing Russian aggression and revitalized signs from ISIS in the region, the New York Times reported Friday. The additions will bring about 100 new personnel to the roughly 500-person American contingent in the country, as well as military hardware such as Bradley fighting vehicles and increased fighter jet patrols. “These actions are a clear demonstration of U.S. resolve to defend coalition forces,” Captain Bill Urban, a spokesman for the military’s Central Command (CENTCOM), told the Times in an email, “and to ensure that they are able to continue their defeat-ISIS mission without interference.” ISIS’s operations in Syria and elsewhere remain a challenge to American vital interests. A Friday Wall Street Journal report found that ISIS’s cash reserves, estimated to be over $300 million, are helping fund the terrorist organization’s efforts to withstand American-led coalition operations across the Middle East. “The underlying conditions that allowed for the rise of ISIS remain,” CENTCOM head and Marine general Frank McKenzie said last month. “They continue to aspire to regain control of physical terrain. Without sustained pressure, they have the potential to do so in a relatively short period of time.”

Iraq

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraqi Security Forces Arrest ISIS Commander In Baghdad

“An ISIS commander has been arrested by Iraqi security forces in Baghdad following an operation to determine the whereabouts of the militant who has been recently granted a high-ranking position in the organization. The Security Media Cell issued a statement announcing that the Baghdad Security Department set several ambushes that resulted in the arrest of the extremist upon his return from the northern governorates. The militant has recently assumed a new military position within the terrorist group to plot attacks against during the Arabaeen pilgrimage. He admitted to leading battles against security services in Kirkuk governorate during fighting to clear Iraqi territories from ISIS militants. The intelligence unit also announced the arrest of another ISIS terrorist dubbed “sniper of the south”, in coordination with the Kurdish security in Sulaymaniyah province. The spokesman of the Joint Operations Command, Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji, said in a statement that security forces increased the number of airstrikes, in cooperation with the international coalition. Khafaji added that coalition forces collaborated with the Iraqi security forces in carrying out the airstrikes and in intelligence gathering.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Dozens Killed In Bloodiest Afghanistan Clashes Since Peace Talks Began

“At least 57 members of the Afghan security forces were killed and dozens injured in overnight clashes with Taliban fighters across Afghanistan, security officials said on Monday, in the bloodiest day of fighting since government and insurgent forces began peace talks in Doha over a week ago. Negotiating teams representing the Taliban and the Afghan government have been meeting in the Qatari capital since talks started on Sept. 12. But little headway has been made, particularly on a ceasefire, which many international capitals have called for but which the insurgent group has rejected. Sunday night’s bloodiest clashes were in the central province of Uruzgan, where 24 members of the Afghan security forces were killed when Taliban fighters attacked security checkpoints, Deputy Governor of the province Sayed Mohammad Sadat said. Clashes and casualties were also reported in the provinces of Takhar, Helmand, Kapisa, Balkh, Maidan Wardak and Kunduz, provincial officials told Reuters. In Balkh, the Taliban took hostage three members of Afghanistan’s spy organisation, the National Directorate of Security, according to Monir Ahmad Farhad, spokesman for Balkh provincial governor. The Taliban did not confirm casualties on their side, but according to a spokesman for the Pamir military corps, Abdul Hadi Jamal, 54 of the insurgents were killed in clashes in Kunduz, Takhar and Baghlan provinces on Sunday night.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: US Embassy In Bahrain Issues Security Alert After Terror Attack Attempt

“The US Embassy in Bahrain issued a security alert on Monday reminding US citizens in the country of “the need for caution and awareness of personal security,” after the Kingdom of Bahrain announced that it had thwarted an Iranian-backed terror attack attempt. “The Embassy encourages all US citizens to review their personal security plans, remain aware of their surroundings, including local events, and maintain a high-level of vigilance,” advised the alert.”

Egypt Today: Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Group's Role In Supporting Terrorism In Arab Countries

“The Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group destroyed Arab countries due to its agenda bearing the slogan “The Muslim Brotherhood Group First”, which led to the collapse and division of several Arab. The Brotherhood attempted to reach power in many Arab countries with the support and financing of Qatar, which is the official sponsor of the radical group in the region. The international terrorist Brotherhood took advantage of the Palestinian cause to disperse the peoples of the Arab region and raised slogans to attract the largest number of Arab youth to join the ranks of the group and serve its project in the Arab countries, and the Palestinian cause was the stick that the movement used during the twentieth century to promote its agenda. Since the emergence of Hamas, one of the Brotherhood’s branches in Palestine, the movement has worked to polarize the Palestinian street to reinforce the Brotherhood’s ideology and strengthen its grip politically and militarily.Hamas launched an armed coup in 2007 and killed hundreds of Fatah members. Hamas’s movements in Gaza have separated the Gaza Strip geographically, politically, and securely from the West Bank, which observers described as a real and realistic separation led by the Hamas movement, whose Shura Council raises the slogan “Hamas first.”

Libya

The Libya Observer: The Philippines Wants To Use Expertise Of Libya's War On ISIS In Sirte

“The Charge d’Affairs of the Philippine embassy in Libya has expressed his country's desire to use the expertise of Libya in fighting terrorist groups that include war on ISIS in Sirte so the armed forces of the Philippines can build up their capabilities in combating terrorism. The remarks came Monday in a meeting for the Charge d’Affairs with the Libyan Defense Minister of the Government of National Accord Salah Al-Namroush in Tripoli as the former reiterated his country's keenness to have more cooperation with Libya in navy forces' training, exchange of intelligence and cyber defense. Al-Namroush hailed the role of the Philippine embassy in Tripoli during the aggression on the capital and praised the staff for not leaving the country at that time, saying they would carry out more cooperation between the two countries.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Boko Haram Terrorists Kill Nigerian Army Commander

“Nigerian Army commander identified as Colonel DC Bako, has been killed by Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State. The senior military officer lost his life on Monday in an ambush set up by the insurgents, according to a report by HumAngle. Bako was Commander of Sector 2, Operation Lafiya Dole, the team combating terrorism in the North-East region of the country, before he was killed. Confirming the incident, Ado Isa, spokesperson for Operation Lafiya Dole, said the colonel died in a military hospital where he was receiving treatment after the ambush. Isa said, “Operation LAFIYA DOLE wishes to intimate the general public of the demise of one of our gallant and finest war heroes Col DC Bako. It could be recalled that the professional, gallant senior officer who always led from the front and a patriotic Nigerian, led a patrol to clear Boko Haram terrorists from Sabon Gari-Wajiroko axis near Damboa when his patrol team entered an ambush at about 10:00am on Sunday, 20 September, 2020. Under his able leadership, the troops cleared the ambush resulting to the killing of scores of terrorists and recovery of weapons and equipment.”

Mali

BBC News: How Mali's Coup Affects The Fight Against Jihadists

“A month after the coup in Mali, the military leaders remain firmly committed to the fight against jihadists, but until there is a deal on restoring democracy the position looks fragile, writes West Africa analyst Paul Melly. The final shape of Mali's promised transition to new elections is yet to be settled several weeks after soldiers seized power in Bamako, forcing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta to resign, although former Defence Minister Ban Ndaw has been named as interim leader. The junta hope this will satisfy fellow members of the Ecowas bloc of West African countries to accept its plan, after weekend talks to reassure opposition sceptics. But from the outset, the putchists sent a clear message to the international partners who have thousands of troops deployed to tackle the decade-old security crisis that sees northern Mali continuing to suffer jihadist attacks while central areas are scarred by inter-communal tensions and violence. Colonel Major Ismaël Wagué, spokesman for the junta - the self-proclaimed National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) - insisted that the UN peacekeeping force in Mali, the French anti-terrorist force, troops from allied Sahelian countries and a new European special forces operation were all “partners in the restoration of stability.”

Africa

The North Africa Journal: Sahel: Boko Haram Ambushes Chad Soldiers, Kills Ten

“Ten Chadian soldiers were killed while attacking a base of the Boko Haram Islamist group in the Lake Chad region, the province’s secretary-general told AFP on Saturday. Seven soldiers were also injured in Thursday’s ambush, Sadick Khatir said, confirming information given by an anonymous military source. Contacted by AFP, however, army spokesman Azem Mbermandoa, did not confirm the death toll but added that the Chadian army had “destroyed a Boko Haram base, recovered weapons and ammunition”. The jihadist group, which originated in Nigeria in 2009, has established bases on islets dotting Lake Chad, a vast swampy expanse on the border between Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The Chadian army launched an offensive against Boko Haram in April after the death of some 100 soldiers in an attack by  the group on one of its bases. President Idriss Deby then claimed to have pushed the jihadists out. But despite this military operation, the attacks have continued. In Chad’s Lake Province, more than 360,000 people have fled their homes to avoid attacks and also flooding, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The president admitted in early August that “Boko Haram would still do a lot of damage” in Chad.”

France

France 24: Paris Terror Attacks Trial Recalls ‘Terror’ And ‘Cruelty’ Of Kosher Store Rampage

“The gunman who stormed a Paris kosher supermarket in a gruesome attack in January 2015 had “no empathy whatsoever”, a former police chief told a court in the French capital on Monday, as victims and their loved ones relived the horror of the final chapter in a three-day killing spree that shocked the world. Amedy Coulibaly had already killed a police agent the day before he stormed the Hyper Cacher store in eastern Paris on January 9, 2015, killing four people and taking dozens more hostage. “He was cold, determined (...) with no empathy whatsoever for the victims,” Christian Deau, a former head of the Paris anti-terror police, testified on Monday at the trial of 14 suspects accused of aiding the perpetrators of the January 2015 attacks. Deau insisted on the “cruelty” and “violence” of the 32-year-old jihadist, who claimed to be acting in the name of the Islamic State (IS) group. After a standoff lasting four hours, Coulibaly was eventually shot dead in a firefight with police. His death marked the epilogue of three days of bloodshed that started on January 7, 2015, when two brothers – Saïd and Chérif Kouachi – stormed into Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices, killing 12 people, including some of France’s most prominent cartoonists.”

Europe

Reuters: Bulgarian Court Sentences Two Men To Life In Prison For 2012 Bus Bombing

“A Bulgarian court sentenced two men of Lebanese origin to life in prison on Monday over a 2012 bus bombing that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian driver, which Bulgarian authorities have blamed on Lebanon’s Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah. The two men were tried in absentia over the July 18, 2012 attack at Burgas airport on the Black Sea, and their whereabouts are not known. They are not entitled to parole. The Specialised Criminal Court found Meliad Farah, 39, an Australian citizen, and Hassan El Hajj Hassan, 32, a Canadian citizen, guilty of being accomplices and ordered them to pay compensation to families of the victims and the injured. A third man, of dual Lebanese-French citizenship, was killed in the attack when he blew up a bomb in a backpack he was carrying close to a bus at the airport. Hezbollah has denied involvement in the attack, which also injured more than 35 Israeli tourists. A five-member panel ruled that the two men had helped in the attack, which was aimed at causing confusion and fear among the peoples of Bulgaria and Israel. The verdict can be appealed within 15 days. A red notice that calls on authorities to arrest a wanted person has been issued by Interpol for Farah and Hassan.”

Southeast Asia

Reuters: Vietnam Jails 20 For Terrorism Over Police Station Bombs

“A Vietnamese court sentenced 20 people to between two and 24 years in prison on terrorism charges on Tuesday over their involvement in a police station bombing two years ago, their lawyer and state media said. The Ho Chi Minh City court found 17 of the defendants guilty of terrorism and convicted three for illegal use of explosives, over an attack in the same city that police said was funded by an exiled anti-government group. The two-day trial was the latest in a series of high-profile cases in Vietnam that are being decided in the run-up to a five-yearly shakeup in January of the leadership of the ruling Communist Party. Those include the jailing of a man for terrorism in April over a bomb at a tax office and last week's sentencing to death of two bothers for killing three policemen during a clash over land rights. The defendants' lawyer, Nguyen Van Mieng, said all 20 had pleaded guilty and would be held under house arrest after they leave prison. "The sentences given at the trial are too harsh," Mieng told Reuters.”