CEP: Eye on Extremism April 20, 2022






Eye on Extremism

April 20, 2022


The Wall Street Journal: Kabul School Blasts Kill Six As Afghanistan Violence Continues


“A deadly bombing hit a high school in Kabul Tuesday, an attack that analysts said was likely carried out by Islamic State, showing the militant group’s continued threat despite months of operations against it by the Taliban authorities. Explosions at the gate of the school in a Shiite neighborhood killed at least six and wounded more than 11 others, according to the Ministry of Interior. A list of wounded compiled by the school had 34 names, many aged between 16 and 18. Shiites in Afghanistan aren’t only a religious minority. They also include an ethnic minority, the Hazaras, a prime target for Islamic State, which regards them as infidels. Some are questioning whether the Taliban are committed to ensuring their safety. “We Hazaras have a big question for the Taliban: Why are the schools, wedding halls, hospitals and educational centers only targeted in Hazara areas?” said Razia, a 35-year-old who gave one name and is the sister of an injured student. “After this blast, I have decided not to send any of my children or brothers to school anymore, as we do not have the energy to hear more about the losses of our dearest ones.” The local branch of Islamic State survived the August takeover of Afghanistan by its larger jihadist rival, the Taliban. The two had been fierce rivals, fighting a war in the years before the Taliban took Kabul.”


The Washington Post: Kidnapper’s U.S. Conviction A Rare Case Of Justice For ISIS Victims


“For French journalist Nicholas Henin, confronting the Islamic State militant who was among the men who held him hostage in a makeshift prison in Syria for nearly 10 months was a long time coming. Sitting in the witness box in a federal courtroom in Virginia, Henin detailed the torture and pain he endured at the hands of a terrorist cell nicknamed “the Beatles,” all while staring at El Shafee Elsheikh. Their eye contact was fleeting but important for Henin — occurring during a trial that was years in the making. When Elsheikh and co-conspirator Alexanda Kotey were captured by Kurdish forces in early 2018 and identified as part of a group of militants that kidnapped, tortured and killed hostages for the Islamic State, it was unclear whether an American trial would happen at all. A federal prosecution was met with opposition at the highest levels of government on two continents. Britain did not want to prosecute Elsheikh or Kotey, both from London, and had stripped them of citizenship. But evidence in British hands that could be used against them in an American court was held up over disagreement on whether they should face the death penalty. And leaders at the Justice Department feared that a loss at trial could leave U.S. officials with the thorny legal and political question of what to do with noncitizens whose home country wanted them banished.”




AFP: Biden Reluctant To Remove Iran's Revolutionary Guards From Terror List


“US President Joe Biden seems increasingly determined to keep the “terrorist” designation on Iran's Revolutionary Guards, which Tehran is demanding be removed before it returns to a deal on curbing its nuclear program. “Each side is just hoping that the other would blink first,” Ali Vaez, an Iran expert from the International Crisis Group, a conflict-prevention think tank, told AFP. Negotiations opened a year ago in Vienna to revive the landmark 2015 agreement that was supposed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Under the presidency of Donald Trump, the United States walked out of the agreement in 2018 and reinstated economic sanctions against Tehran, which in response, shrugged off restrictions imposed on its nuclear activities. Biden wants Iran to return to the agreement, provided that Iran resumes those commitments. Despite early hopes, the talks are deadlocked and the emissaries have not been in the Austrian capital since March 11. However, a draft compromise is still on the table, after resolution of most of the thorniest issues. The fate of the Guards is the final obstacle blocking the talks: the Islamic Republic is demanding the removal of its elite ideological force from the US blacklist of “foreign terrorist organizations.”


Middle East


AFP: Gaza Militants Prepare Tunnels As Next Conflict Looms


“In a “tunnel city” under the sandy soils of southern Gaza, Palestinian militants are preparing for the next conflict with Israel, as tensions in Jerusalem threaten to escalate. The underground passageways leave no trace on the surface. But in a wooded area near Khan Yunis, seven masked men in military fatigues carried a collection of machine guns and grenade launchers into a tunnel entrance discretely tucked into the foot of a small hill. The fighters wear headbands of the Al-Quds Brigade, the armed branch of Islamic Jihad which is the second-largest armed faction in Gaza, after the Hamas Islamist movement that rules the territory. The tree branches covering the hole reveal a narrow passageway walled and topped with concrete blocks. Complete with electric lights, a ventilation system and telecoms cables, the tunnels also have small rooms for storing weapons and ammunition. An Islamic Jihad official told AFP during a media tour that the movement has both defensive and offensive tunnel systems. The latter “is used for taking Israeli soldiers captive, repelling Israeli ground offensives and carrying out various field operations”, said the commander. As he was talking, he received a radio alert of a “security incident” east of Gaza City -- a false alarm.”


Daily Mail: ISIS Declare New 'Global Offensive' While 'The Crusaders Are Fighting Each Other' And Distracted By War In Ukraine


“ISIS has declared a new 'global offensive' that aims to take advantage of the 'opportunity' of the west being distracted by the on-going war in Ukraine. The terrorist group also told its supporters to avenge the death of its leader, who was killed earlier this year in a raid by US special forces in Syria, and to launch attacks against Europe and Israel while 'the crusaders are fighting each other'. Islamic State's new spokesman Abu-Omar al-Muhajir said Russia's invasion of Ukraine has 'preoccupied' non-Muslim nations, and presents a chance to strike. In a speech released online, delivered during the holy month of Ramadan, al-Muhajir urged ISIS jihadis to take revenge for the killing of Abu Ibrahim al Hashimi al Qurayshi - also known as Hajji Abdullah - in February. Al-Qurayshi, who led ISIS from 2019, himself replaced ISIS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in an earlier US raid in October that year. 'We announce, relying on God, a blessed campaign to take revenge,' the spokesman said in an audio message heard by The Times. 'Fight them all and Allah will answer and punish them at your hands.' He told his followers the 'opportunity is ripe' for them to strike, and called on them to arm themselves and to carry out attacks against western countries.”




The Libya Observer: Haftar’s Forces Blames ISIS For Car Bomb Attack At Military Camp In Libya’s Um Al-Aranib Town


“The Head of Moral Guidance Authority of Khalifa Haftar’s forces, Khalid Al-Mahjoub, said a car bomb exploded near a military camp of Tariq bin Ziyad brigade in Um Al-Aranib in southwest Libya, accusing ISIS terrorists of being behind the blast and saying there were no casualties. Al-Mahjoub added on Facebook that the car bomb was a desperate attempt by the terrorist group of ISIS to prove they still can carry out terrorist attacks in Libya. Social media activists circulated footage for the location of the attack, where a number of men were checking the parts of exploded car near the military camp.”




Al Jazeera: Are Nigeria’s Bandits A New Boko Haram Cell Or Rival ‘Terrorists’?


“On December 11, 2020, more than 300 boys were abducted from a boarding school in Kankara, a small community in the northwestern Nigerian state of Katsina by gunmen on motorcycles. The incident fit Boko Haram’s modus operandi, and the group’s leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the attack in an audio message, before releasing a video of the kidnapped children. This further lent credence to the assumption by Nigerian politicians and pundits that the group which has waged war in the northeast for more than a decade, was the orchestrator of the brazen attack. Within a month, the victims were released. But in March 2021, Auwalun Daudawa, a notorious kingpin of one of the gangs responsible for abduction sprees in the northwest, claimed responsibility for Kankara. “I did that in Katsina because the governor [Aminu Masari] came out to say he will not dialogue again with our people,” he told the local Daily Trust newspaper. According to local media reports, the abduction had been a joint operation by seven different gangs who had sent a video to Shekau asking him to claim responsibility. They knew that the government “feared Boko Haram more than them” and would be willing to meet the demands quickly. The plan worked. According to the schoolboys, an unspecified amount was paid as ransom within days, even though the government repeatedly denied this.”


Daily Post Nigeria: Top ISIS Commander, Ammar Bin-Umar Killed In Lake Chad Airstrike


“Troops of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) have eliminated a top leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Ammar Bin-Umar, in massive airstrikes in Lake Chad. The top ISIS Commander was reportedly sent by the terror group to coordinate attacks for the Islamic State West Africa (ISWAP) operating from the Tumbuns in Lake Chad against targets in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. According to the report, the elimination of the top ISIS Commander was confirmed by a military intelligence officer who disclosed that the coordinated airstrikes by the Nigerian Air Force Super Tucano jets were in conjunction with the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), Niger Air Task Force’s Mi35 and Mi171 helicopter Gunship on April 14, 2022, at Arinna in Marte Local Government Area of Borno State. He was reportedly killed while trying to flee Lake Chad as a result of the week-long sustained onslaught on the terrorists by a combined team of Operation Desert Sanity and the MNJTF Lake Sanity on some Boko Haram/ ISWAP strongholds in which over a 100 terrorists, as well as ten of their commanders, have so far been neutralized.”


Sahara Reporters: Update: Boko Haram Fighters Kill Soldier, Policeman During Attack On Nigerian Army Base


“A soldier and one policeman were killed and an unspecified number of security operatives injured when militants of the Islamic State-backed faction of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West Africa Province formerly known as Jamā'at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da'wah wa'l-Jihād, attacked the Forward Operational Base (FOB) in Molai, Borno State. SaharaReporters learnt that the gunmen also carted away an ambulance and a military vehicle which was later abandoned near the community after it was razed down. Molai is located at the outskirt of Maiduguri, about 7 km away. The insurgents were said to have invaded the town after iftar, the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan. “They stated shooting sporadically as residents of the community flee into the forest for safety. “Though a military base, it was manned by joint task force Operation Hadin Kai comprising of soldiers and mobile policemen. “They shot and fired RPGs when they came, even some of the soldiers fled,” a military source said. Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, have killed thousands and displaced millions in North-Eastern Nigeria. The Nigerian military has repeatedly claimed that the insurgency had been largely defeated and frequently underplays any losses.”


United Kingdom


Arab News: UK’s Counter-Terror Strategy In Need Of An Overhaul, Says Official


“The UK’s Prevent strategy, which aims to foil terrorism, should have violence-prevention as a primary focus, according to Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation Jonathan Hall. Hall said that he agreed with concerns that Prevent was failing in its goal of finding and deradicalizing potential terrorist attackers because it was referring a disproportionate number of non-Islamist extremists. He said that the majority of terrorist attacks were carried out by Islamists “so I can completely understand that when people see the number of people who have been referred from the right-wing side or what they call a mixed unclear or uncertain ideology side, they say, ‘Hang on, there’s some sort of imbalance.’” Counter-terrorism experts have previously warned that Prevent was being undermined by too many far-right referrals, distracting from those most likely to turn to terrorism. Hall said it was vital to continue to monitor everyone who expressed forms of extremism because there was a “new trend in terrorism towards mainly Internet-driven terrorism, often involving very young people.” He recommended switching Prevent’s main objective from preventing terrorism to preventing violence so it could encompass Islamic extremists, incels and far-right extremists.”




France 24: Suspected 2015 Paris Attacks Accomplices Go On Trial In Belgium


“Fourteen people went on trial in Belgium on Tuesday accused of helping a jihadist group that killed 130 people in the gun and bomb attacks across Paris in 2015. The 13 men and one woman are accused of supporting the self-avowed Islamic State combatants before their attacks on the evening of Nov. 13, 2015, and afterwards for the one attacker who survived and returned to Brussels. Nine accused were present on Tuesday, seven seated at the front of the court, two led in by guards to closed glass boxes. Two accused are believed to have died in Syria. The trial is taking place in the former headquarters of NATO in a Brussels suburb with heightened security. Armed police patrolled the perimeter and corridors and guarded the entrance of the vast impromptu courtroom. Twelve of the accused face charges of leading a terrorist group or participating in terrorist activities, with potential prison terms of up to 15 and five years respectively. Prosecutors say they helped attackers travel to Syria or supplied them with arms. Some are accused of secretly housing Salah Abdeslam, a 32-year-old French national of Moroccan origin who is now the main suspect in a trial of more significant attacks participants in Paris. Abdeslam hid in Brussels for four months until his capture, four days before a twin attack in Brussels that killed 32 people.”


South Asia


Voice Of America: Uzbekistan Dismisses Islamic State’s Claim Of Cross-Border Attack


“Authorities in Uzbekistan have dismissed as “untrue” reports that militants linked to Islamic State had launched a rocket attack against the country from neighboring Afghanistan. The denial comes a day after the terrorist group claimed its Afghan affiliate, the Islamic State Khorasan Province, or ISKP, fired 10 rockets Monday morning from the northern Afghan province of Balkh, targeting a military unit in Termez on the Uzbek side of the border. The Uzbek Defense Ministry on Tuesday released a statement on its website noting the country’s border with Afghanistan “is fully controlled by the Uzbek military and is stable.” Islamic State released a picture and video of Monday’s alleged rocket assault, claiming it was launched from somewhere in the border town of Hairatan in Balkh, according to Site Intelligence Group, which tracks terrorist propaganda. The Uzbek Defense Ministry urged its citizens not to believe such “false” reports and rely only on “official sources” of information. Afghanistan's ruling Taliban on Tuesday also denied the reported attack, saying the situation on the border between the two countries “is normal and there is nothing to worry about.”




National Institute Of Justice: Domestic Extremists And Social Media: Study Finds Similarities, Differences In Web Habits Of Those Engaged In Hate Crimes Vs. Violent Extremism


“Isolating and comparing the social media habits of two distinct types of extremists can better prepare justice system agencies to prevent and respond to extremist violence in the United States. Research sponsored by the National Institute of Justice has found that study samples of individuals in the United States who have engaged in violent and non-violent hate crime and other forms of extremist crime were influenced by social media. A key finding was that extremists in the study group may mirror the general population in their use of various social media platforms, particularly in terms of reliance on Facebook. Although the sample size was relatively small, and less than 20% of the study sample said they used Facebook, use of Facebook was found to be significantly higher than that of any other social media platform. The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START, conducted the study of social media usage as a part of a broader investigation tapping two major national databases of extremist events and individuals: ECDB - Extremist Crime Database. ECDB is a database that keeps track of violent attacks, homicides, and financial crimes carried out by extremists inside the United States.”


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