Eye on Extremism: September 8, 2021

Associated Press: Taliban Form All-Male Afghan Government Of Old Guard Members

“The Taliban on Tuesday announced an all-male interim government for Afghanistan stacked with veterans of their hard-line rule from the 1990s and the 20-year battle against the U.S.-led coalition, a move that seems unlikely to win the international support the new leaders desperately need to avoid an economic meltdown. Appointed to the key post of interior minister was Sirajuddin Haqqani, who is on the FBI’s most-wanted list with a $5 million bounty on his head and is believed to still be holding at least one American hostage. He headed the feared Haqqani network that is blamed for many deadly attacks and kidnappings. The announcement came hours after Taliban fired their guns into the air to disperse protesters in the capital of Kabul and arrested several journalists, the second time in less than a week that heavy-handed tactics were used to break up a demonstration. Drawn mostly from Afghanistan’s dominant Pashtun ethnic group, the Cabinet’s lack of representation from other ethnic groups also seems certain to hobble its support from abroad. As much as 80% of Afghanistan’s budget comes from the international community, and a long-running economic crisis has worsened in recent months.”

The Libya Observer: Joint Operations Force Arrests Top ISIS Leader In Libya

“The Joint Operations Force of the Government of National Unity in Libya said Tuesday it had arrested a notorious ISIS leader named, Embarak Al-Akhazmi, in Bani Walid; some 180 km east of Tripoli. The force said in a statement that Al-Khazmi was responsible for accommodation of ISIS terrorists in Bani Walid when ISIS controlled some areas in Libya, adding that the apprehension was in coordination with the Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General, Al-Siddiq Al-Sour named Al-Khazmi as a wanted ISIS leader in Libya in a 2017 press conference. The Libyan Prime Minister Abdul-Hamid Dbeibah hailed the arrest and said on Twitter that it was a huge success for the Joint Operations Force and security apparatuses that are continuing to fight terrorism across Libya.”

United States

The Independent: Americans Worried About Domestic Terror Exceeds Those Who Are Worried About Foreign Threats, Poll Finds

“More Americans are concerned about homegrown terrorism than they are about the threat of extremism from overseas, a new study has found. According to the poll for the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, about two-thirds of Americans say they are extremely or very concerned about the threat from extremist groups inside the US. By contrast, only about 50 per cent of respondents say they are extremely or very concerned about the threat from foreign-based terrorists. As the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks approaches, the survey also found deep dissatisfaction with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Just 34 per cent percent of Americans said they believe the Iraq War was worth fighting, with 63 per cent saying it was not. The poll results were similar for the Afghanistan war, with 35 per cent of respondents saying the conflict was worth fighting, while 62 per cent said it was not. The survey was conducted from August 12 to August 16, in the days before the US completed the withdrawal from its 20-year occupation of Afghanistan. The growing concern about local extremism comes as supporters of former President Donald Trump prepare to gather for a Justice for January 6 rally in the grounds of the US Capitol in Washington DC on September 18.”

The National: War Of Ideas: US Middle East Envoy Recalls The Day Terrorism Came To America

“Ambassador Dennis Ross began his White House tenure with Jimmy Carter and ended it with Barack Obama, and has remained a consistent shaper of America's Middle East peace process under Democratic and Republican administrations. Mr Ross's reputation as a skilled negotiator allowed him to transition from the administration of George HW Bush to that of Bill Clinton, where he was appointed special Middle East envoy reporting directly to the Oval Office. The signing of the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles, known as the the Oslo agreement, solidified his standing among world leaders. As the Clinton years were winding down, Mr Ross says that no other president was more dedicated to Middle East peace, a bold statement given his past with the Carter administration. After the election of George W Bush, Mr Ross returned to academia and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which he established with Martin Indyk, who was twice ambassador to Israel. Mr Ross would later return to the White House as Barack Obama’s “Middle East quarterback”. On September 11, 2001, he was giving a lecture at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies in Washington DC on the lessons of peacemaking in the Middle East, which was abruptly ended. “There was almost a kind of cognitive dissonance,” Mr Ross told The National. “It was hard to absorb how this was happening here.”

Syria

Al Monitor: SDF Transfers Extremist IS Women To Roj Camp In Hasakah

“The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began transferring 300 families of extremist women and wives of Islamic State (IS) members, Syria 24 reported. These women would carry out assassinations against anyone who opposes IS or cooperates with the SDF inside al-Hol camp. They are being transferred to Roj camp in Hasakah countryside to relieve pressure on al-Hol, which houses more than 64,000 people, most of whom are women and children. These women tried to seize their only opportunity to escape by bribing the guards during their transfer since surveillance cameras have been placed along the camp’s fence and heavily armed men in guard towers are constantly on the lookout. A report by Asharq al-Awsat website revealed that Roj camp includes about 800 IS families, most of whom hold European or American citizenship, in addition to a large number of Eastern European nationals, estimated at about 2,500 people. The camp, which was opened in 2015, is divided into two main sections. The first section includes a number of nonmilitant IS families who surrendered to the SDF after the latter took control of several villages and towns in northeastern Syria during its battles with the group. The second section of the camp includes the extremist women.”

Iraq

The Jerusalem Post: Iraq Security Forces Arrest ISIS Leader - Report

“Security forces in Iraq announced Tuesday that they have arrested one of the leaders of ISIS that was responsible for a terror attack in the north of the country.”

Afghanistan

CNN: Taliban Crack Down Hard On Kabul's Largest Protest Yet

“The Taliban used gunfire, detentions and beatings to crush dissent over their rule on Tuesday, as scores of Afghan protesters marched through Kabul in the largest demonstration the capital has seen since the militant group seized power last month. According to photos and videos shared on social media, activists shouted in support of resistance fighters in the holdout province of Panjshir and chanted against Pakistan, which they view as meddling in Afghan affairs. Videos from central Kabul showed dozens of men and women marching through the streets shouting “Death to Pakistan” as the demonstrators made their way towards the presidential palace. Amid chaotic scenes on the streets, Taliban fighters intervened and shot into the air to disperse the protesters. The videos showed people scattering or crouching down amid sustained bursts of gunfire. There were no initial reports of casualties. Some protesters complained about the role that the head of Pakistan's military intelligence has played as negotiations concluded on the formation of a government. The intelligence chief, Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, arrived in Kabul at the weekend and has been meeting senior Taliban officials, including Mullah Baradar, the head of the Taliban's Political Bureau.”

Politico: Al-Qaeda Is Thrilled That The Taliban Control Afghanistan — But Not For The Reason You Think

“Last week, al Qaeda’s central media apparatus finally weighed in on the Taliban retaking Afghanistan with a triumphant proclamation: “This victory has demonstrated what the Islamic nation is capable of when it unites, takes up arms, and fights in the Way of Allah to defend its Religion. These events prove that the Way of Jihad is the only way that leads to victory and empowerment.” With this statement, al Qaeda let the world know that this is the moment it’s been waiting for. The group has been waiting in the wings for a long time, building its local strength in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa while leaving the more high-profile attacks on Western targets to its newer jihadist rival, ISIS. Now, al Qaeda feels vindicated for its strategy of “quietly and patiently” rebuilding. The group is using the Taliban victory to spread propaganda aimed at galvanizing affiliates and supporters around the world. With the Taliban in control of Afghanistan and al Qaeda reinvigorated and emboldened, it’s understandable if Americans feel an eerie sense of having seen this movie before. Indeed, there are already signs that the alliance between al Qaeda and the Taliban — which never really went away after 9/11, even though both groups faded somewhat from international headlines — is strengthening. But this doesn’t mean a return to the 2001 status quo, when the Taliban provided safe haven to al Qaeda and declined to hand Osama bin Laden over per President George W. Bush’s request.”

U.S. News & World Report: EXPLAINER: What Is ISIS-K?

“…The New York-based Counter Extremism Project found ISIS-K has effectively employed propaganda sites on the internet and dark web as a recruiting tool promoting what it considers a victory against the U.S. and the Taliban. The project in an analysis note also suggests that tech companies are not doing enough yet to contain the spread of the group's disinformation. Al-Qaida has already encouraged its followers to move from places like Syria into Afghanistan, now considered a power vacuum where terrorist groups can thrive. Analysts who spoke to U.S. News say the same threats also apply to ISIS-K and its backers in other affiliates. “With ISIS, you also have an untold number of foreign fighters that survived Baghouz,” says Colin Clarke, senior research fellow at private intelligence firm The Soufan Center, referring the battle for the Islamic State group's final stronghold in Syria, “laying low and potentially waiting for an opportunity like this.” It's not yet clear the extent to which ISIS-K poses a threat to targets overseas, either directly or by inspiring “lone wolf” cells to plan attacks on their own. Two months before the U.S. completed its withdrawal from Afghanistan, Army Gen. Mark Milley, the military's top officer, told Congress he believed “it would take possibly two years” for terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, including ISIS-K, to develop the capability to attack the U.S. homeland or an ally country.”

Saudi Arabia

Gulf News: Attacks On Saudi Arabia A Threat To The Entire Region

“Another blatant attack by Iran- backed Al Houthi militias on Saudi Arabia has been foiled by the Kingdom’s air defences. Three ballistic missiles targeting the Eastern Province is the latest in a series of attacks by missiles and explosive — laden drones that test the patience and the resolve of the Saudi- led Arab Coalition. The coalition condemned in a statement “brutal, irresponsible behaviour” by the Houthi terror group, which launched its attack on the eastern city of Dammam hours before the new United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg assumes his duties that will focus on ending the war/ Saudi Arabia last year presented an initiative, supported by the GCC, the Arab League, the UN and the European Union, to end the war and form a new inclusive government in Yemen. The plan was rejected by Al Houthis, most probably under orders by their sponsor, Iran. Tehran is believed to be using the ongoing conflict of Yemen as another bargaining chip in the current negotiations with the US and the West that are aimed at reviving the nuclear deal. The Dammam attacks also comes few days after a drone hit Abha international airport in the south of the kingdom, wounding eight people.”

Middle East

The Times Of Israel: Islamic Jihad Threatens Israel Over Escaped Prisoners, Braces For IDF Raids

“The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group sent gunmen to the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank on Tuesday ahead of expected Israeli raids hunting six security prisoners who escaped from an Israeli prison, as the fugitives remained at large over a day after their disappearance. Israel has launched a massive manhunt to capture the six prisoners, who are considered highly dangerous, after they broke out of the high-security Gilboa prison early Monday in what is considered to be among the most serious jailbreaks in the country’s history. Five of the six fugitives are members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The terror group has issued several threats to Israel since the escape, warning against raids in Jenin and against taking action against the group’s members in Israeli prisons. “If the IDF enters [Jenin] it will be met with significant firepower from many weapons and explosive devices,” the group said at a Tuesday press conference in Jenin. Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Fatah both dispatched members to Jenin to bolster their forces there ahead of the expected incursions by the Israel Defense Forces, Channel 12 news reported.”

Nigeria

Reuters: Gunmen Kidnap 18 Villagers In Latest Attack In Northern Nigeria

“Gunmen invaded a village in the northern Nigerian state of Kaduna and kidnapped 18 residents including seven children, a community leader said on Tuesday, the latest in a wave of mass abductions disrupting every aspect of life in the region. Gangs of ransom seekers have been kidnapping children from their schools, villagers from their homes and travellers from their vehicles across northwest Nigeria since last December. Mallam Suleiman Keke, a community leader in the village of Keke B on the outskirts of the state capital Kaduna, said gunmen on motorbikes arrived late on Monday night and went from house to house seizing children and their parents. “It was a terrifying experience for us,” he said, adding that the kidnappers had not yet sent a ransom demand. A spokesman for the police in Kaduna State could not be reached for comment. Kaduna is among several states that have adopted measures to try to curb the attacks, such as banning the sale of fuel in jerry cans and the transport of firewood in trucks to stop armed gangs who travel by motorbike and camp in remote areas. In Zamfara State, farther to the northwest, authorities have ordered a telecommunications blackout while the military tries to tackle the gangs.”

United Kingdom

Evening Standard: Extremist Jailed For Sharing Material Encouraging Violent Jihad And Glorifying Terrorism

“A man who shared extremist material encouraging terror attacks has been jailed. Fahd Ismail, from south east London, admitted six charges relating to offences under the Terrorism Act dating back to 2017. The 33-year-old shared information online encouraging “violent Jihad” and “glorifying acts of terrorism”, police said. He was jailed for two years and nine months at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday. Commander Richard Smith, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said: “This was a diligent and thorough investigation by highly skilled Counter Terrorism officers, which prevented further dissemination of extremist material.” The court heard that Ismail was first arrested on suspicion of an offence under the Terrorism Act on June 17 2020. Six months later he was charged with four counts of possession of a document or record “containing information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. On April 30 this year, Ismail had a further two charges under the Terrorism Act 2006 added to his indictment, police said. Mr Smith added: “I encourage anyone who has suspicions about material someone is viewing online to report it to police without delay. Trust your instincts and know that you are never wasting our time.”

Germany

The National: German Sentenced To Jail For Sharing ISIS Videos

“A German man who discussed with his friend carrying out a lone wolf terrorist attack has been jailed in the UK for 40 months for sharing violent ISIS videos with a friend. Florian Flegel, 23, sent videos that included beheadings, bombings using lorries, a tank crushing someone to death and mass executions. He was arrested as he prepared to fly back to Germany from Stansted Airport in Essex, east England, after falling out with his landlord and flatmates during a seven-month stay in Britain. Officers found that he had shared 12,000 mostly mundane messages in nine months with his friend Abdullah, who was living in Germany, but they included more than 30 graphic and violent videos sent by Flegel, a London court was told. Woolwich Crown Court in London was told that the pair egged each other on and they spoke of joining ISIS and discussed beheadings. Flegel started researching flights to Syria and they discussed how best to cross the border from Turkey. Judge Andrew Lees said: “There is no doubt following a consideration of the material that you hold an extremist Islamist mindset and you are a supporter of the Islamic State ideology.”

Europe

Associated Press: Brutal Attack Prompts Spanish PM To Hold Hate Crime Meeting

“Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is convening an urgent meeting of a committee that oversees efforts to fight hate crime after hooded attackers beat a 20-year-old man in Madrid and used a knife to carve a slur on one of his buttocks. Sánchez wants to “take a personal lead” on the issue and will attend the meeting, government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez said Tuesday after a Cabinet meeting. She said that “an attack like this ... alarms us all as a society.” In the attack last Sunday afternoon, the man was assaulted as he entered the apartment building where he lived in a neighborhood of the Spanish capital. The assailants first shouted anti-gay profanities at him, before slashing his mouth with a knife and then using it to etch a slur on his rear, according to police sources quoted by Spanish news agencies EFE and Europa Press. Activist groups say attacks on LGBTQ people are increasing in Spain and announced plans to hold street protests in coming days. The activists claim that official statistics capture only a fraction of the problem because many incidents aren't reported. Last July, in another high-profile case, a 24-year-old man died in an attack that sparked widespread condemnation after friends of the victim claimed he was targeted and beaten to death for being gay.”

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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