Eye on Extremism: September 7, 2021

NBC News: Suicide Attack By Pakistan's Taliban Kills At Least 4, Injures 20

“A suicide attack killed at least four people and injured 20 others in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan early Sunday, officials in the country said. A convoy of the paramilitary Frontier Corps was targeted as it was changing duty at a security post, Azhar Akram, a senior police officer in Baluchistan's capital, Quetta, said at a news conference. He said the attacker used a motorcycle to get near the paramilitary force, which is in overall charge of security in Baluchistan, a restive province in northwest Pakistan that borders Afghanistan's south. More than 13 pounds of explosives were used, he said, adding that body parts were found at a distance from the security post. The militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility. The TTP is a separate organization from the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. “Our fidaee [suicide bomber] had planted explosives on the motorbike and rammed into the military convoy in Quetta,” TTP spokesman Mohammad Khurasani said from an undisclosed location Sunday. “The security forces were about to leave for patrolling when they were attacked.” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the attack on Twitter.”

France 24: How The November 2015 Attacks Marked A Turning Point In French Terror Laws

“France's biggest ever criminal trial opens on September 8 in Paris over the November 2015 terrorist attacks, which killed 130 people at bars, restaurants, a football stadium and the Bataclan concert hall in the French capital. The attacks marked a turning point in French anti-terror legislation. FRANCE 24 looks back on six years of tightening anti-terror legislative measures and debates on civil liberties. France declared a state of emergency on the evening of the November 13, 2015 after the deadliest terror attacks on French soil in modern history left 130 people dead in the Paris region. The government pushed through fresh anti-terror laws, granting police and intelligence agencies extended powers, as the country faced a wave of further attacks in French cities and towns, such as Nice, St-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Villejuif and Rambouillet. The state of emergency expired in November 2017, when President Emmanuel Macron replaced it with a tough anti-terror law. The new law permanently legalised several aspects of the state of emergency – such as extended police powers to search homes, restrict movement or close radical religious sites. France has a long history of anti-terror legislation, dating back to the 19th century, when the state adopted exceptional provisions under wartime regulations.”

United States

NBC News: Afghan Evacuees On Terror Watchlists Stopped From Entering U.S., Mayorkas Says

“Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Friday said that some people recently evacuated from Afghanistan by the U.S. were flagged on terror watchlists while they were in transit and not allowed to enter the U.S. “In fact we have,” Mayorkas said, responding to a question in a press briefing about whether the U.S. had encountered any evacuees who appear on terror watchlists. “And we deny access to individuals whose derogatory information is not resolved and we do not feel confident in the safety and security of the American people.” Mayorkas was then asked what the U.S. will do with those Afghans who have been evacuated to transit countries but denied entry to the United States due to security concerns. “We are working with our international allies to address the disposition of those individuals,” Mayorkas said. He did not say whether any Afghans were deemed a security risk after landing in the U.S. or how many of the evacuees had turned up on terror watchlists. Appearing on U.S. terror watchlists or being stopped for questioning does not necessarily mean that individuals pose a risk.”

Bloomberg: Militants May Use Afghan Chaos To Infiltrate U.S., EU, NATO Says

“The North Atlantic Treaty Organization warned that militants could join migrants fleeing Afghanistan, potentially adding to security threats for Europe and the U.S. after the American withdrawal from Kabul earlier this week. “We have put in place measures to avoid that, but in big numbers it’s a risk,” Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO’s senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, said in a Friday interview, referring to militants trying to use refugee flows to infiltrate Western countries. “I am sure it’s the case.”  The European Union is eager to stem migration from Afghanistan and has cited the potential security threat. So far about 500,000 people have been displaced in Afghanistan this year, but there hasn’t been evidence of people entering neighboring countries, nor has there been significant movement toward the bloc, according to an EU diplomatic note seen by Bloomberg. Pontecorvo, who took part in the effort to evacuate Afghan civilians from Kabul in August, said the end of the American presence is expected to free up ISIS-K territorial claims in the country. “That is a risk that the Taliban will have to deal with,” he said. While NATO could be involved in assisting with the ISIS-K threat, Pontecorvo conceded that the role of the alliance will be subject to “a lot of soul searching and questions” after the chaotic withdrawal of Western forces.”

Iraq

The Wall Street Journal: Islamic State Kills At Least 12 Police In Iraq Amid Resurgence Fears

“Islamic State militants killed at least 12 Iraqi policemen and wounded several more in an overnight attack at an outpost near the city of Kirkuk amid concerns that the group is expanding its attacks in Iraq and Syria. Police officials said insurgents using pickup trucks attacked the checkpoint in Rashad district in the early hours of Sunday and placed improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, along the road leading to the police position to slow any support from security forces. A firefight lasted for several hours before the insurgents retreated as police reinforcements made their way to the area, an official said. Three of the policemen were killed by IEDs. In a separate attack in Nineveh province Sunday morning, Islamic State militants attacked an army checkpoint, killing three soldiers, police said, while in Diyalla province, north of Baghdad, militants attacked a police patrol, leaving several security personnel wounded. Kirkuk Gov. Rakan al-Jabouri called for an emergency meeting of Iraq’s national security council to improve and coordinate the military response to the Islamic State threat in the area.”

Turkey

Bloomberg: Turkey Says It ‘Neutralized’ 18,500 Militants Over Six Years

“Turkey has “neutralized” nearly 18,500 people that it calls “terrorists” over the past six years, the Defense Ministry said Sunday. Since the start of this year, that figure was 1,865, spokesperson Maj. Pinar Kara told journalists in Ankara. The ministry uses the term to describe killed, wounded or captured combatants. The vast majority of the 18,455 neutralized since July 2015 are thought to be members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged war on Turkey since 1984. A 2½-year ceasefire with the PKK – listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union – broke down in 2015. Turkey targeted the Islamic State group after launching its first operation in northern Syria in 2016 but has since largely focused on the PKK and its affiliates in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Although the total figure of 40,000 deaths is often cited for the 37-year conflict with the PKK, the International Crisis Group says “the precise figure for the overall casualty toll of the conflict is impossible to confirm.” Turkey’s military conducted 22 operations against suspected insurgents inside Turkey and abroad over the past month, Kara said. Since April, it has been carrying out ground and air operations against the PKK in northern Iraq. These resulted in 244 militants being “neutralized,” she added.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: U.S. Wrestles With Taliban Sanctions as Afghan Crisis Looms

“America’s war in Afghanistan is over, but the fight over the Taliban’s finances is only beginning. The fate of billions of dollars of international reserves and foreign aid represents its own set of politically and legally fraught decisions as the world comes to grips with what Afghanistan will look like under Taliban rule. The stakes are extraordinarily high, as millions of Afghans face the prospect of becoming collateral damage from a stranglehold of sanctions on the Taliban that remain in place, threatening to sink an economy that the United States has spent two decades trying to prop up. With a humanitarian crisis looming, the Biden administration is reviewing how to tailor that web of sanctions so that aid can continue to reach the Afghan people. The challenge is how to let donor money continue to flow without further enriching the Taliban, which the United States considers a terrorist organization. Experts say that such a situation, in which a group deemed to be terrorists takes over an entire country, is without precedent and poses a complex test for the United States’ sanctions program. “This is a new world,” said Adam M. Smith, a senior sanctions official in the Obama administration’s Treasury Department.”

The Washington Post: Taliban Finalizes Plans For New Government Not Expected To Include Any Former Leaders

“The Taliban has finalized decisions on who will run Afghanistan, just days after the last U.S. forces withdrew from the country, with the group’s most prominent officials expected to helm a government unlikely to include any officials from the previous regime. Taliban deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi said the “decisions have been made,” and that an announcement was imminent. The movement’s top political leader, Abdul Ghani Baradar, is widely expected to be appointed as president. And the group’s shadowy commander of the faithful, Haibatullah Akhundzada, is expected to be named the supreme leader of Afghanistan. “We have been in consultations with the international community, and we hope they will cooperate with us,” Karimi said. Without international recognition, Afghanistan’s economy will probably continue to falter, potentially plunging millions more people below the poverty line. The Taliban captured lots of U.S. weapons. But who will they use them against? Domestically, the group faces a number of challenges to its power, including holdouts in the country’s north and public demonstrations against the return to an extreme interpretation of Islamic law.”

Brinkwire: ‘Rejuvenation Period!’ Says The Narrator. An Ex-Al Qaeda Recruiter Claims That Jihadist “Chatter” Has Increased “Ten-Fold.”

“…Jesse Morton acknowledged that there has been an increase in internet “chatter” among IS-K followers in Asia. In 2017, Morton co-founded the anti-radicalization group Parallel Networks. He added there had been an upsurge of 8% to 10% in jihadi “chatter” during a conference organized by the Counter Extremism Project (CEP). “Where we find ourselves today is a vision that ultimate victory is for the Muslims, and that will now touch not just the thoughts and attitude of jihadists, but of Islamists,” Morton told Metro. “It makes the very true notion that extremist Muslims can only accomplish change through violent jihad all the more appealing. “And it will bleed into the interpretation of prophesy and the resonance of Isis attempting to overthrow the Taliban, because jihadists have declared that Khorosan is the same as Afghanistan in Arabic. “The black banner of jihad will be realized in Khorosan, and it will not be stopped until it reaches Jerusalem, according to the prophecy. The terror strike at Kabul airport, which killed 13 US Marines and 170 civilians, was claimed by IS-k. He continued, “We have witnessed what was in the psyche of jihadists basically a state of despair when Isis’s caliphate was dissolved in a matter of months, really weeks, and…they weren’t in the media, they weren’t in the Press…”

Middle East

The Wall Street Journal: Israel Launches Manhunt After Palestinian Militants Escape From Prison

“Israeli forces launched a search for a Palestinian militant leader and five other inmates who staged an elaborate escape from a high security prison, raising political pressure on Prime Minister Naftali Bennett as he attempts to burnish his security credentials after leading a wide-ranging new coalition to power in June. Mr. Bennett, a former commando, called the jailbreak a grave incident as the manhunt got under way. Prison cameras showed the six Palestinian inmates had removed flooring in their cell and broke out at around 1.30 a.m. local time, via a winding passage running through the building’s foundation. When an emergency head count was called after several hours, the six men were confirmed missing, a prison system spokesperson said. The escape, just hours before Israel begins to celebrate the Jewish New Year, could be an early test for the stability of Mr. Bennett’s government, assembled from eight parties spanning both leftist and hard-line right-wing factions in addition to an Arab party. The coalition has worked steadily to brush aside conflicting view points over the Palestinian issue and the community’s claims to their own state—particularly in the wake of an 11-day round of fighting in May.”

Egypt

Asharq Al-Awsat: Egypt Orders Execution Of 3 Condemned With Contacting ISIS In Libya

“An Egyptian court ordered the execution of three, and issued a life sentence (25 years) against three others after they were condemned for joining and making contact with ISIS. The court also issued a 15-year in prison sentence against four others. Former Egyptian Prosecutor-General Nabil Ahmed Tawfiq Sadek referred the condemned, including four Libyans, to the Emergency Supreme State Security Court on charges of “dealing with the terrorist ISIS group and the Special Deterrent Force and those who work for its interest in Libya.” The investigations showed that the group committed terrorist crimes against Egyptians residing in Libya. The crimes included the kidnapping and torturing of Egyptians in exchange for ransom from their families to release them. They also provided the group with funds and information, in addition to committing other crimes such as human trafficking and illegal migrant smuggling. According to the public prosecution’s investigation, the first defendant's confession, the voice records, the testimonies of the victims and their families, he visited Libya several times and had ties with Libyan ISIS members. He also agreed with them on abducting Egyptian citizens to ask for ransom.”

Nigeria

All Africa: Nigeria: Dilemma In Borno As Military Releases 565 Boko Haram Members

“Borno government and its people are in a dilemma following the release of 565 Boko Haram members to the state by the military authorities that reportedly profiled them. Some Maiduguri residents and people displaced by the terrorists and now living for years in IDP camps in the state capital said they were “rattled” by what they heard in Abuja on the release of the repentant Boko Haram members to the government. They wondered how the repentant insurgents could be released few weeks after they surrendered, considering that many of them spent years in enclaves launching attacks. On its part, the state government is yet to say anything on the latest development. However, some sources close to the government said there was no formal communication on the handing over. A senior government official said the repentant insurgents were not released to the government. He said, “I have enquired about this and I was told the insurgents were not released to the state government and in fact, none of the repentant fighters has been released. They are all undergoing security profiling preparatory to their disarmament and deradicalisation.”

Somalia

Reuters: Somalia's Puntland Sends Troops To Fight Al Shabaab In Neighbouring State

“Somalia's semi-autonomous region of Puntland said on Friday it had sent forces to the neighbouring region of Galmudug to help the military there push al Shabaab Islamist militants out of a strategic town they captured last month. Al Shabaab fighters last month attacked a military base in the Galmudug town of Amara and took control of it after battling with government special force units, known as Danab and Darawish. Amara is a strategic town that lies on the route to the coastal town of Harardheere, another al Shabaab stronghold. The governor of Puntland's Mudug region, Abdilatif Muse Nuru San Yare, told Reuters they had sent troops with experience in fighting al Shabaab to Galmudug. “We have sent troops to Galmudug who know how to fight al Shabaab and it is an alliance to eradicate al Shabaab,” Yare said. He did not say how many troops had been sent. Al Shabaab has been fighting in Somalia for years in an attempt to topple the central government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law. The group often carries out gun and bomb attacks targeting both military and civilians targets.”

Africa

BBC News: Sahel Jihadists: West Africa Faces Up To Policing Its Terror Triangle

“With Chad's withdrawal of troops and the imminent reduction in French troop strength from the vast Sahel region of West Africa - where jihadist groups continue to stage attack after attack, targeting civilians and soldiers without discrimination - new anti-terror tactics are afoot. Defence ministers from the G5 Sahel countries - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger - are planning more joint military operations and greater “hearts and minds” engagement. This will target the farming and livestock herding communities of the “three-border region”, where Burkina, Niger and Mali converge and militant activity is at its most intense. In finalising the new approach at defence talks this week in the Nigérien capital Niamey, the G5 nations are taking the strategic lead. France is stepping back into a support role, after President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that its counter-terrorism Operation Barkhane was coming to an end with French troop numbers in the Sahel being cut from 5,100 to 2,500-3,000 over the next few months. More immediately Niger, Mali and Burkina have had to take account of Chad's abrupt decision in August to reduce its force in the three borders region from 1,200 troops to just 600.”

France 24: At Least 30 Dead In DR Congo Massacre Blamed On Jihadists

“Rebels shot or hacked to death at least 30 people in a new massacre in northeastern DR Congo, local and UN sources said Monday. Members of civil society blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group linked to the so-called Islamic State, for the attack on Saturday in the province of Ituri. Dieudonne Malangayi, acting chairman of the chiefdom of Walese Vonkutu, initially said 14 people died but told AFP that more bodies had been discovered in the bush and the toll could rise further. “The civilians who went to look for the bodies of the victims found 16 others in the bush, which makes 30 civilians massacred,” he said. A UN source confirmed that at least 30 people had died in the attack. One civilian who helped look for bodies said the victims had mostly been attacked with machetes or shot. Augustin Muhindo Musavuli, a village elder who took part in the search, said he had seen 17 dead, mostly hacked to death by machete, but also shot dead. Some had their throats slit, others were disembowelled. “We went into the bush with young people, accompanied by soldiers,” he told AFP by telephone from Bunia. “We transported the bodies on motobikes... Lots of people died.” The ADF, which the United States has deemed a terrorist group, is considered the deadliest of scores of armed militias that roam the mineral-rich eastern DR Congo.”

United Kingdom

The Independent: British Isis Member Who Used Bitcoin To Free Jihadis From Syrian Prisons Jailed For 12 Years

“A man who used Bitcoin to free Isis militants from detention in Syria has been jailed for 12 years. Hisham Chaudhary is believed to be the third person convicted of being a member of Isis in the UK. Chaudhary, from Oadby in Leicestershire, was also found guilty of two counts of entering terrorist fundraising arrangements aiming to free jihadis captured in Syria. The court heard that the number of people he was involved in freeing is not known, but in an October 2019 he wrote: “We’ve been doing this for years but no one has been caught by the virtue of Allah.” Following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court, he was also convicted of four counts of disseminating terrorist material for organising the publication of Isis propaganda. Judge Paul Farrer QC said Chaudhary had been a member of Isis since at least 2016, and was “trusted and respected” by fellow jihadis. “You were involved in organising funding for the extraction of Isis supporters from detention camps in Syria and their subsequent smuggling back to Isis-controlled areas,” he told the defendant while sentencing him on Friday. “You were not simply an individual who raised money, you had an organising role including contact with individuals negotiating with smugglers on price and routes.”

Europe

The Independent: It Would Be Perilously Naive To Ignore The Renewed Potential For Terrorist Attacks In Europe

“While the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan is primarily a societal, security and economic disaster for Afghanistan, it also creates a climate of extreme danger for the West. The attack on Kabul at the end of August has starkly underscored the growing terrorist threat in Afghanistan, which will undoubtedly seep into neighbouring countries and beyond. UK intelligence and security services must act now to protect British citizens from a renewal of the same terrorist threat which led to 9/11 and the rise of Isis. It has been well known for some time that key Taliban powerbrokers, such as the leaders of the Haqqani network, remain intimately connected to international jihadist terror groups. A militant Islamist movement dedicated to establishing an Islamic state in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Haqqani network has, in recent years, significantly embedded itself with Al-Qaeda and is now widely regarded as a leading insurgency force in South Asia. For the Haqqani network to be put in charge of Kabul’s security amounts to giving a fox the run of the chicken coop. It is delusional to think that, despite what the Taliban are saying, the Haqqani network is willing to prevent Al-Qaeda from once again using Afghanistan as a base from which to coordinate attacks against the West.”

Voice Of America: Sweden Arrests Two Women Linked to IS

“Swedish police said Monday they had arrested two women linked to Islamic State after they flew back from Syria, as media reported that one was being investigated for war crimes.  Stockholm police spokesman Ola Osterling said the prosecutor leading the investigation into the two women had ordered their arrest.  “We executed that decision when the plane arrived in Stockholm in the afternoon,” Osterling told AFP. A third woman had been taken in for questioning, he added. A statement Monday from the Prosecution Authority said multiple investigations were underway against men and women returning from areas that had been controlled by Islamic State.  “The international crimes that are relevant for people returning from IS-controlled areas are war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity,” public prosecutor Reena Devgun said in the statement.  “Sweden has an international commitment to investigate and prosecute these crimes,” she added.  The Prosecution Authority added that it could not comment on individual cases or the number of investigations underway.  But public broadcaster SVT reported that at least one of the women arrested was being investigated for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.”

Technology

BBC News: The Taliban Embrace Social Media: 'We Too Want To Change Perceptions'

“In early May, as US and Nato forces began their final withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Taliban stepped up their military offensive against Afghan national security forces. But they also did something less common in the group's history of conflict in the country - they launched a comprehensive social media campaign to go with it. A network of social media accounts highlighted the alleged failures of the Kabul government while lauding the Taliban's achievements. Tweets boasted about the group's recent victories - sometimes prematurely - and pushed several hashtags, including #kabulregimecrimes (attached to tweets accusing the Afghan government of war crimes); #westandwithTaliban (an attempt to drive grassroots support) and #ﻧَﺼْﺮٌ_ﻣٌِﻦَ_اللهِ_ﻭَﻓَﺘْﺢٌ_ﻗَﺮِﻳﺐٌ (help from God and victory is near). The first of the hashtags at least trended in Afghanistan. In response, Afghanistan's then-Vice President Amrullah Saleh warned his forces and the public not to fall for false claims of Taliban victories on social media, and called on people to avoid sharing details of military operations that could compromise security.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.

Fact:

On September 17, 2019, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle detonated outside a Presidential rally in Charikar, Afghanistan, killing at least 26 people and injuring another 30. Later, a suicide bomber detonated outside the Ministry of Defense in Kabul, killing 22 and wounding 38 others. The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks. 

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