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Old 10-29-2020, 08:10 AM
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Arrow Eye on Extremism - 10-29-20

Eye on Extremism - October 29, 2020
By: Counter Extremism Project

As of October 29, 2020:

The Wall Street Journal: Knife Attack In Nice, France, Leaves Three People Dead

"Three people were killed Thursday in a knife attack at a church in the French Riviera city of Nice, in an assault prosecutors are treating as an act of terrorism. A man wielding a knife entered the Notre Dame Basilica in the center of Nice in the morning and killed two people, officials said. The third victim managed to escape and flee the church but later died from her wounds, they added. A suspect was taken into custody shortly after the attack, police officials said. Officials cordoned off the area around the church while French government officials gathered for an emergency meeting at the interior ministry in Paris. President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Nice later Thursday, a close presidential aide said. “Everything leads us to believe it was a terrorist attack within the Notre Dame basilica,” Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi said on Twitter. The attack is the third such assault in France over the past month. Two people were seriously wounded in a knife attack near the former office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in late September. Earlier this month, a middle-school teacher was beheaded in a suburb of the French capital after he shared cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad drawn from Charlie Hebdo.

Together, the attacks recall the era of terrorism that shook France five years ago."

The Jerusalem Post: Czech Parliament Calls To Designate Hezbollah A Terrorist Group

“The Czech parliament called on the government to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist group, in a resolution passed on Wednesday. The Czech Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the parliament in Prague, voted 63-7 to adopt the motion calling the Lebanese Shi’ite group “an indivisible whole and a terrorist organization that significantly destabilizes the Middle East region and, through its global network, also threatens all democracies.” The Czech Republic does not currently have its own list of terrorist organizations, and the legislature called to establish one and put Hezbollah on it. The resolution added that the parliament “rejects the misleading division of this organization into military and political parts, as this organization acts as an internally interlinked structure.” The European Union claims that there is a division between the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist organization’s political and military wings, banning only the latter, though Hezbollah itself does not recognize such a division. The resolution also calls for Prague to push for the EU to abandon this policy. Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi thanked the Czech parliament on Thursday, saying that the decision follows similar decisions made by other countries in the EU and Latin America in the past months.”

Voice Of America: UN Rights Office Condemns 'Merciless' Attack On Cameroon School

“The U.N. human rights office has joined a chorus of voices in strongly condemning what it calls the vile, merciless attack on a private school Saturday in southwestern Cameroon. The attack killed at least six children and injured another 13. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack on Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba, in the southwestern region of Cameroon. U.N. human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani tells VOA her office has not been able to verify the identity of the perpetrators. “But we have been able to get information corroborated by various sources that it was perpetrated by a group of men armed with guns and machetes, who broke into the school and they shot indiscriminately while the students were studying,” Shamdasani said. Cameroonian authorities blame the attack on Ambazonian separatists. The English-speaking militants, who want independence from Cameroon and its French-speaking majority, accuse the government of being behind the assault. Shamdasani says the killing and maiming of children as well as attacks on educational facilities constitute serious violations of international law and says the perpetrators must be held accountable.”

United States

ABC News: 3 Men Facing Firearms Charges Had Extremist Ties, Possible List Of Targets: Official

“A senior law enforcement official told ABC News Wednesday that three men charged with federal firearms violations earlier this week have alleged ties to a white supremacist extremist group and were found to be in possession of what is being investigated as a possible list of targets. Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza tweeted last week that she received a visit from the FBI and agents informed her that they had arrested a man in Idaho on weapons charges who they described as a white supremacist with a list that included her name. Garza declined ABC News' request for further comment, and the Justice Department declined to comment when asked about any connection between the 'list' and the arrests announced Tuesday. The senior official who spoke to ABC News also declined to further characterize the list. The three men - Liam Collins, Jordan Duncan and Paul Kryscuk -- are facing gun trafficking charges. According to a report from Newsweek last year, prior to officially joining the Marines, Collins was a frequent poster on a message board associated with white supremacists and neo-Nazis. For the moment, prosecutors have kept further details of the case under seal. Listed attorneys for all three men did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.”

Associated Press: FBI Says Extremist Threatened Trump, Obama In Online Posts

“A man charged in an alleged conspiracy to kidnap Michigan's governor also made threatening online comments about President Donald Trump, former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and other prominent political figures, an FBI agent said in a federal court filing. Barry Croft, a Delaware resident, railed against numerous present and former elected leaders in private Facebook posts, special agent Kristopher Long said. Croft is one of six purported members of an extremist paramilitary group accused of scheming to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer because of her shutdown orders to control the coronavirus. Long described the posts in an affidavit supporting a request for a warrant to search an account that Croft allegedly created Sept. 2 and closed Sept. 26. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the document Wednesday after The Detroit News reported its contents."

The New York Times: Court Rejects Appeal Of Guantánamo Convict Who Rejoined Al Qaeda

“A federal appeals court has refused to review the 2010 war crimes conviction of a former Guantánamo Bay prisoner who after his return to his native Sudan ran away and rejoined Al Qaeda. The former prisoner, Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi, 60, pleaded guilty to providing support for terrorism and Al Qaeda in exchange for his repatriation in 2012. Three years later, he appeared in videos produced by the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But an appeals process went forward in his case nonetheless. Lawyers paid by the Pentagon filed an appeal after a federal court found that the charge on which he had been convicted, providing material support for terrorism, did not qualify as a war crime that could be tried by a military commission, the justice system used at Guantánamo. The lawyers pursued his defense even after the State Department established a $4 million reward for his whereabouts, calling him an emir of the Qaeda affiliate who encouraged “lone wolf attacks against the United States in online propaganda.” The reward is still on offer. A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declined to hear the case in an order issued Tuesday night.”

NBC New York: Taliban Member Charged In Manhattan In 2008 Kidnapping Of Then-NYT Reporter David Rohde: Sources

“An Afghan national and purported Taliban member has been arrested in connection with the 2008 kidnapping of Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter David Rohde in Afghanistan, prosecutors and sources familiar with the investigation tell News 4. He is being charged in Manhattan federal court. An indictment unsealed in Southern District of New York court Wednesday charges Haji Najibullah with six counts connected to the 2008 kidnapping of an unidentified “American journalist,” whom sources confirm to News 4 is David Rohde, and two Afghan nationals. Rohde was with them at the time. Rohde was abducted along with Afghan reporter Tahir Ludin and their driver outside Kabul, where he had been researching a book, on Nov. 10, 2008. He escaped, along with Ludin, after more than seven months in captivity. According to the indictment unsealed Wednesday, Najibullah and several co-conspirators forced their hostages to hike at gunpoint across the border to Pakistan, where they were held in the mountains for more than seven months. During that time, Najibullah allegedly forced the victims to make multiple calls and videos seeking help. Nine days after the kidnapping, one victim, presumably Rohde, was forced to call his wife in New York.”

Politico: Blocking ISIS Fighters From U.S. Shores

“In another bipartisan push for legislation, Sens. Maggie Hassan and Ron Johnson are proposing a bill to enhance the Department of Homeland Security’s visa screening process overseas, including expanding its reach to more foreign embassies over the next decade. “With the fall of ISIS’s caliphate, I am deeply concerned about the threat that ISIS foreign fighters, armed with western passports, could pose to our homeland and our allies,” Hassan, a member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement. The Visa Security Expansion Act “will help protect us from this threat by expanding the number of counterterrorism agents who aid the State Department in making decisions about whether to grant U.S. visas to foreign nationals,” she added. Johnson, who chairs the panel and also is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the DHS program “plays a crucial role in keeping the U.S. safe from terrorists and criminals, and our legislation would strengthen this important front of our national security.”


Reuters: Turkey Has Right To Act If Militants Not Cleared From Syria Border - Erdogan

“Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday Turkey had the legitimate right to act again if militants are not cleared from its border with Syria, where it has carried out several incursions in the last four years. “If the terrorists here are not cleared as we were promised, we have the legitimate right to mobilise once again,” Erdogan said in a speech to his AK Party’s lawmakers in parliament. In an offensive a year ago, with the support of Syrian rebels, Turkey seized a 120 km (75 mile) stretch of border territory in northeast Syria from the Kurdish YPG militia, which Ankara views as a terrorist group. That incursion was widely condemned by Ankara’s Western allies as the YPG was a the main component of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that helped the United States defeat Islamic State. Erdogan also voiced concern about the situation in northwest Syria’s Idlib region, which was the scene of heavy fighting between Syrian government forces and Turkey-backed rebels until Ankara and Moscow reached a ceasefire deal in March. On Monday, air strikes on a camp in northwest Syria run by rebel fighters backed by Turkey killed at least 35 people and wounded scores, a war monitor and a rebel source said.”


BBC News: Al-Qaeda Still 'Heavily Embedded' Within Taliban In Afghanistan, UN Official Warns

“Al-Qaeda is still “heavily embedded” within the Taliban in Afghanistan, in spite of a historic US-Taliban agreement earlier this year, a senior United Nations official has told the BBC. Earlier this year, the US signed an agreement with the Taliban committing to withdrawing all American forces from the country by next summer if the Taliban ensured groups including al-Qaeda were not able to use Afghan territory to plot international attacks. But Edmund Fitton-Brown, co-ordinator of the UN's Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Team, has told the BBC that the Taliban promised al-Qaeda in the run-up to the US agreement that the two groups would remain allies. “The Taliban were talking regularly and at a high level with al-Qaeda and reassuring them that they would honour their historic ties,” Mr Fitton-Brown said. He said the relationship between al-Qaeda and the Taliban was “not substantively” changed by the deal struck with the US. “Al-Qaeda are heavily embedded with the Taliban and they do a good deal of military action and training action with the Taliban, and that has not changed,” he said. Eliminating the threat from al-Qaeda and overthrowing the Taliban regime that had harboured them was the original basis for the US invasion of Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attacks.”

Saudi Arabia

The Jerusalem Post: US Alerts Citizens In UAE, Saudi Arabia Amid Terrorism Concerns

“The US embassies in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia issued warnings to US citizens in the two countries on Wednesday, advising that they practice a high level of vigilance amid security concerns. “The Department of State remains concerned about the global threat of terrorism, including the possibility of terrorist attacks against US citizens and interests in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. Terrorist organizations continue to plan attacks against Western targets; these attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, including suicide operations, assassination, kidnapping, hijacking, and bombing,” wrote the US Mission to the UAE. “US citizens should maintain a low profile, be aware of surroundings, and stay alert in locations frequented by tourists.” Also on Wednesday, the US Embassy to Saudi Arabia warned that it was tracking reports of missiles or drones that may be headed toward Riyadh. The embassy later announced that it was no longer tracking such reports, but advised US citizens to continue to exercise increased caution due to “terrorism and the threat of missile and drone attacks on civilian targets.”


Associated Press: US Focused On Disrupting Finances For Somalia’s Al-Shabab

“The United States strongly backed efforts to disrupt the illegal financing methods used by Somalia’s al-Shabab extremist group, which according to U.N. experts raised more than the $21 million it spent last year on fighters, weapons and intelligence. U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft told the Security Council on Wednesday the Trump administration is committed to partnering with other countries and using U.N. sanctions to counter al-Shabab’s “financing of terrorism” and the threat from homemade bombs the group is making. The United States also remains focused on limiting the ability of al-Shabab to conduct attacks against civilians, she said. The Security Council was focusing on the panel of experts whose latest report stresses the continuing impact of al-Shabab’s operations not only in Somalia but in neighboring Kenya. “The threat posed by al-Shabab to peace, security and stability in Somalia goes beyond the impact of the group’s conventional military action and asymmetric warfare to include sophisticated extortion and `taxation’ systems, child recruitment practices and an effective propaganda machine,” the report said. Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab remains the most active and resilient extremist group in Africa, controlling parts of southern and central Somalia and often targeting checkpoints and other high-profile areas in the capital, Mogadishu.”


Reuters: Suspected Jihadist Freed By Mali Is Detained In Algeria

“Algeria’s defence ministry said on Wednesday it had detained a suspected jihadist militant who was released this month by Mali as part of a prisoner swap, underscoring its fears of insecurity in the Sahel region. Mustapha Derar, an Algerian national, was arrested in Tlemcen after security forces tracked him from his crossing of the border into Algeria, the ministry said in a statement. Derar had joined a terrorist group in 2012, it added. Mali, grappling with an Islamist insurrection, released scores of prisoners including suspected militants early this month, days before jihadists freed four hostages: a Malian politician, a French aid worker and two Italians. Malian authorities have neither confirmed nor denied that militants were released in exchange for Soumaila Cisse, Sophie Petronin, Pierluigi Maccalli and Nicola Chiacchio. Algeria defeated its own Islamist insurgency in the 1990s in a civil war that killed 200,000 people. Its defence ministry said Mali’s release of militants was “impeding efforts to combat terrorism”. Both al Qaeda and the Islamic State groups have taken advantage of local conflicts to establish a presence across the Sahara and the Sahel region to its south.”

Voice Of America: 2 Sentenced To Death In Deadly 2015 Mali Attacks

“A Malian court sentenced to death a suspected jihadist and his co-defendant for killing more than two dozen people in attacks targeting foreigners in 2015. Wednesday’s court ruling against Fawaz Ould Ahmed and his co-defendant Sadou Chaka came after two days of hearings. Ahmed said his militant group, Al-Mourabitoune, carried out the attack at the La Terrasse club, but he expressed no remorse for killing five people in revenge for cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published by France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine. Ahmed also admitted to participating in a raid that killed 17 people at Hotel Byblos in the town of Sevare in August and another that killed 20 people, including 14 foreigners, at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako in November. Two other Malian nationals were charged in the attacks. Ahmed was reportedly planning other attacks when he was arrested in 2016.”


Agence France-Presse: Moroccan Prison Guard Killed By IS-Linked Inmate

“A Moroccan prison guard was killed by an inmate who was in jail for belonging to a militant cell linked to the Islamic State group, prosecutors said Wednesday. The detainee on Tuesday “took captive an employee in his cell and assaulted him with a metal object” at Tiflet prison on the outskirts of the capital Rabat, they said in a statement. “A rapid intervention unit was deployed to free the employee” but the officer was declared dead of his injuries in hospital, it added. Three other prison staff were wounded in the incident. The fate of the inmate was not reported. The prosecutor’s office said it had “ordered the judicial police to open a careful investigation to determine legal responsibility.” The detainee had been arrested in September near Rabat in an operation to dismantle an IS-linked cell. He and five other men were accused of plotting suicide attacks against prominent figures and against a Morocco security installation. Morocco has been spared from jihadist-linked acts of violences in recent years since two Scandinavian tourists were beheaded in 2018 in the High Atlas mountains in an IS-claimed attack. The perpetrators were sentenced to death, the first time Morocco handed down capital punishment since 1993.”


RFI: Security At Religious Sites Beefed Up As France Warns Of Major Terror Threat

“France has ramped up security at religious sites ahead of this weekend’s All Saints holiday amid a heightened terror threat following the beheading of a teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to his class. Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin warned France faces a “very high” and “constant” terrorist threat risk on the back of President Emmanuel Macron’s firm stance against “Islamist separatism”. During a tribute ceremony for history teacher Samuel Paty, who was given the country’s highest award, the Legion of Honour, Macron said France would not “renounce cartoons”, adding that Paty “was killed because Islamists want our future”. The comments fired up anti-French sentiment across the Arab world, with protests breaking out and Turkey leading the charge on a boycott on French products. France’s national police warned of online threats from extremists against Christians and moderate French Muslims, including Imams who have publicly supported Macron. A telegram from the Interior Ministry warned of possible knife attacks, or cars ramming into crowds, saying the list of potential targets was “numerous”. Fewer people may be on the streets this weekend if Macron announces a nationwide coronavirus lockdown, as expected.”


The New York Times: In Azerbaijan, A String Of Explosions, Screams And Then Blood

“The first explosion was loud enough to make us stop the car. It seemed close and sounded like a rocket, so we quickly jumped out and crouched down by a wall. If we hadn’t stopped, I later realized, we might have driven straight into one of the blasts, a scant 20 yards up the road. At the time of the blast on Wednesday, we were driving along the main street of the provincial town of Barda, Azerbaijan, toward an intersection. Azerbaijan is at war with Armenia, but the frontline was 20 miles away and life to that point was going on uneventfully in the area. Women were out shopping, men were filling their cars at the gas station. Then, a string of deafening explosions sounded in rapid succession, each one seeming closer and louder. A woman started shrieking. A man bellowed at his family. They rounded the street corner, his wife pulling the sleeve off one of her children, and they all dashed down a side alley. Across the road, blood smeared the steps into the basement of a private health clinic. Inside, a taxi driver, bleeding heavily from the leg, was being treated. Nurses, patients and passers-by huddled in the basement, stepping around the blood, calling their families on their cellphones.”


Politico: Senate Dem Presses Zuckerberg On Facebook’s Handling Of Extremist Content

“Democratic Sen. Gary Peters pressed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a congressional hearing Wednesday on whether the company has a “responsibility” to do more to steer its users away from violent extremist groups on its platforms. The Michigan lawmaker praised Facebook for assisting authorities in helping to disrupt a recent plot to kidnap the state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, that was planned in part on its sites. But Peters suggested the company could still do more to prevent its users from becoming radicalized and engaging with violent extremist groups, like the suspected Whitmer kidnappers. Peters noted at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing that a new Facebook plan to redirect users who search for some extremist content toward authoritative sources seemingly doesn’t apply to “budding violent extremists.” “Do you believe that your platform has a responsibility to off-ramp users who are on the path to radicalization by violent extremist groups?” Peters said. Zuckerberg replied that Facebook does do so in certain instances, but added that he’s open to expanding the policy. “I certainly agree with the spirit of the question that this is a good idea and something that we should continue pursuing and perhaps expand,” the Facebook chief said.”

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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