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Old 04-04-2022, 06:59 AM
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Arrow Eye on Extremism - 04-04-22

Eye on Extremism - April 4, 2022
By: Counter Extremism Project 04-04-22

As of 04-04-22:

1. The Wall Street Journal: Afghanistan’s Taliban Ban Poppy Cultivation

“The Taliban on Sunday officially banned the cultivation of poppy, which provides the raw material for heroin and other opiates, as the group strives to be recognized as Afghanistan’s legitimate government by an international community dismayed by its increasingly repressive rule. Afghanistan is by far the world’s largest opium producer, and the ban fulfills a monthslong promise by the Taliban to outlaw the trade. But it could also undermine the livelihoods of thousands of Afghan farmers, push them deeper into a devastating humanitarian crisis, and foment anger against the struggling Taliban government. “Afghans are informed that from now on, cultivation of poppy has been strictly prohibited across the country,” Taliban spokesman and deputy information minister Zabiullah Mujahid said at a news conference at the Afghan interior ministry Sunday, reading from a decree issued by the group’s supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada. “If anyone violates the decree, the crop will be destroyed immediately and the violator will be treated according to Shariah law,” Mr. Mujahid said, without elaborating, referring to Islamic law, which the Taliban are known to interpret harshly. The decree could undermine the livelihoods of Afghan farmers who grow poppy.”

Bloomberg: UN Concerned About Civilians Amid Mali Militant Crackdown

“The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali voiced concern Saturday over reported violence against civilians, hours after the military said it killed over 200 terrorists in a week-long raid in the country’s center. Mali has intensified operations against armed groups with links to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in recent weeks, and the military has also boosted its capabilities with reported assistance by Russia’s Wagner Group. The statement from the army chief of staff, released April 1, didn’t make clear which group was the target of the March 23-31 operation in the central Mali village of Moura that killed 203 militants. Another 51 terrorists were arrested, it said. The fight against the Islamist militants in the West African nation has also raised concerns abroad about potential human rights violations by the military and Wagner Group. Last month, the government banned two French broadcasters after they reported on allegations of civilian deaths. The UN and Human Rights Watch have independently launched investigations into the claims. The UN mission in Mali, known as MINUSMA, in a tweet Saturday said it’s “very concerned about the allegations of violence against civilians” following last month’s military operation. Wagner deployed to Mali last year, according to French and U.S. officials, although Mali denies they’re in the country.”

2. United States

The Independent: Man Charged For Making Terrorist Threats Towards Jewish School He Worked At

“An Ohio man who worked as a security guard at a Jewish school has been charged with making terrorist threats to shoot its pupils in the playground and their parents. Former National Guardsman Thomas Develin, 24, is accused of posting pictures of himself posing with a semi-automatic handgun on 11 March as he worked at the Columbus Torah Academy in Columbus, Ohio. Court papers say that the posts were discovered on the Discord social media platform, and that he stated, “I’m at a Jewish school and about to make it everyone’s problem.” He is also accused of saying that “The playground is about to turn into a self-defense situation” and that he “wanted to shoot parents coming to pick up their children”. The suspect was arrested and is being held on a $1m bond at Franklin County Jail. A hearing in the case will be held on 8 April. Prosecutors say that he has been fired form the school and also suspended from the National Guard. In the wake of the arrest, the Columbus Division of Police provided security at the school. The Columbus Torah Academy told 10TV that immediate action was taken to identify the source of the threat and there was no risk to the campus. JewishColumbus released a statement, calling the incident a “cowardly act of intimidation.” “For far too long Jews have been mentally and physically intimidated in spaces online, at schools, universities and in our community,” they said.”

Daily Mail: Terror Suspect Imprisoned At Guantanamo Bay For Nearly 20 Years Is Released And Sent Back To His Algerian Homeland

“A terror suspect imprisoned at the Guantanamo Bay detention centre for nearly 20 years has been released and sent back to his homeland. The US Department of Defense announced on Saturday that Algerian Sufyian Barhoumi had been repatriated with assurances from the Algerian government that he would be treated humanely. The Algerian authorities also said security measures would be imposed to reduce the risk that he could pose a threat in the future. The Pentagon did not provide details about those security measures, which could include restrictions on travel. Barhoumi was captured in Pakistan and taken to the US naval base on Cuba in 2002. The US eventually decided he was involved with various extremist groups but was not a member of Al Qaeda or the Taliban, according to a report by a review board at the prison that approved his release in 2016. US authorities attempted to prosecute Barhoumi in 2008 but this was dropped amid legal challenges. Shayana Kadidal, of the US Center for Constitutional Rights, said: 'I will dearly miss his constant good humour and empathy for the suffering of others in Guantanamo.' Barhoumi's release brings the total held there to 37 men, including 18 deemed eligible for repatriation or resettlement in a third country.”

3. Syria

Al Jazeera: In Syria, Russia Leads Effort To Recruit Fighters For Ukraine

“…Gregory Waters, an analyst at the Counter Extremism Project and nonresident fellow at the Middle East Institute, said there are more than a dozen recruitment centres in Syria run by Moscow-backed private pro-government armed groups. Meanwhile, in the eastern Deir Az Zor province, the Wagner Group and allied Syrian forces have directly started recruiting Syrians to volunteer in Ukraine, Abu Layla said. Salaries start as low as $200-$300 per month for volunteers to work as security guards to protect installations, but those with greater military experience are paid higher rates, exceeding $1,000 per month, he said. It is an attractive pay in a country where 90 percent of the population lives in poverty, and where access to adequate food and heating is becoming more out of reach. Abu Layla said many Syrians volunteering are not just in it for the money. “Some of these Syrian militias are hoping to get higher positions, and believe that they could do this if they show loyalty to Russia,” he explained. “But with many others in Syria hoping to emigrate to Europe, they see this as their golden ticket.” Meanwhile, brokers claiming to help speed up recruitment for Syrians have swarmed Facebook groups and other social media platforms, including one called Job Opportunities with Our Russian Friends.”

4. Iran

The Washington Post: Iran Nuclear Talks At Stalemate Over Terrorism Issue

“Tehran’s demand that the United States lift its designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, and U.S. refusal so far to do that, have brought the year-long negotiations over reviving the Iran nuclear deal to a halt, with no new meetings scheduled and little obvious room for compromise. Since talks being held in Vienna adjourned last month, European participants have shuttled between Washington and Tehran in a vain search for accommodation from both sides. “At this point, nothing mutually acceptable” has been proposed, according to a U.S. official knowledgeable about the issue who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic and political matter. Whether the United States will yield in any way is up to President Biden, and “the president hasn’t made a decision,” the official said. “Politically, we know that it’s an extremely difficult step to take.” For the moment, head U.S. negotiator Robert Malley said at a foreign policy forum last weekend, success “is not just around the corner, and not inevitable.” Those beyond the inner circles in the two capitals are growing increasingly worried. “We must conclude this negotiation. Much is at stake,” Enrique Mora, the European Union deputy foreign policy chief wrote on Twitter last week before visits to both Washington and Tehran early this week.”

5. Afghanistan

Associated Press: Officials: Blast In Afghan Capital Kills 1, Wounds Dozens

“An explosion in the center of the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday killed one person and wounded at least 59 others, hospital officials said. In a tweet, Kabul's Emergency Hospital said one body was received at the hospital and 59 people were treated, with 30 of the wounded being admitted for further treatment. It did not specify the injuries. A spokesman for the Taliban's Kabul police, Khalid Zadran, said the explosion was caused by a hand grenade thrown by a would-be thief who wanted to rob the money changers in the area. He said 10 people were injured. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy in the number of wounded. Zadran said police have launched an investigation. Video shot by AP showed wounded being removed from the site, carried by passersby. Wais Ahmad, a money changer, said the explosion happened inside a market where money changers operate. The market was closed immediately after the explosion and Taliban security surrounded the area. The blast was the first in the Afghan capital in months. Afghanistan's Taliban rulers have stepped up security throughout most of the country since sweeping to power in August. Taliban troops man dozens of checkpoints throughout the city.”

The New Yorker: A New Video Shows A Missing American Hostage Pleading For Help In Taliban Custody

“When the Biden Administration pulled all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan last August, Mark Frerichs was believed to be the only American hostage remaining in Taliban custody. Frerichs, a fifty-nine-year- old civil engineer and Navy veteran, had been abducted on the streets of Kabul in 2020. Members of his family have repeatedly pleaded with the Taliban and the Biden Administration to negotiate his release, but, for more than two years, no evidence had publicly emerged that Frerichs was alive. The New Yorker has obtained a new video, from an unidentified individual in Afghanistan, that shows Frerichs in captivity and pleading for his freedom. “I’ve been patiently waiting for my release,” Frerichs says, apparently reading from a script held in front of him. “I’d like to ask the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, please, release me.” The video, which Frerichs states was recorded on November 28, 2021, is about thirty seconds long. A dark cloth hangs behind Frerichs, an Illinois native who spent a decade in Afghanistan working on aid projects before being abducted. He is seated, dressed in Afghan clothes, and wearing a short beard. Frerichs concludes the video with a simple appeal and seems grateful for the opportunity to have contact with the outside world. “Release me so that I may be reunited with my family,” he says. “Thank you.”

6. Middle East

France 24: Israeli Security Forces Kill Three Militants In West Bank Amid Surge Of Violence

“Israeli security forces killed three Islamic Jihad militants when they came under fire Saturday during a raid in the West Bank, police said, the latest deaths in a surge of violence. The bloodshed comes amid heightened tensions ahead of the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, that has seen violence spiral in Israel and the occupied West Bank. Last year during Ramadan, clashes that flared between Israeli forces and Palestinians visiting Al-Aqsa mosque in annexed east Jerusalem led to 11 days of devastating conflict between Israel and the Gaza Strip's Islamist rulers Hamas. On Saturday, Israeli police said security forces killed three members of the Islamic Jihad militant group who had opened fire during an operation to arrest them near the northern West Bank city of Jenin. Four Israeli soldiers were wounded during the operation, one of them seriously, the police said. The Israeli forces had intercepted “a terrorist cell on its way to an attack, and stopped the car in which they were travelling between Jenin and Tulkarem”, the police said in a statement. The Islamic Jihad confirmed the three deaths. “We mourn the death of our three hero fighters,” the armed wing of the Islamist movement said, adding that two of them were from Jenin and one from Tulkarem.”

Haaretz: 200 Israeli Citizens Identify With The Islamic State, Defense Officials Say

“Israel's defense establishment estimates that some 200 Israeli Arabs identify with the Islamic State, 20 of whom they believe might carry out attacks in Israel in the organization’s name. At a situation assessment on Sunday, defense officials briefed politicians on their large-scale intelligence effort to monitor social media and take other steps to identify potential suspects. To date, six Israeli Arabs who identify with the organization have been served with orders restricting their movement, while another round of orders currently await judicial approval. Defense officials also say a few dozen Israeli Arabs have traveled to Syria, Iraq or Sinai to join the Islamic State there. Their identities are known, and they would be arrested if they ever return to Israel. A few of them are known to have been killed while fighting in the organization’s ranks. In a nod to the security echelon's digital front in combatting attacks, officials believe that videos posted on social media from the scene of recent attacks are a driver of copycat attacks. In a bid to prevent videos of attacks from circulating, officials have asked the government to consider passing a law that would forbid Israeli citizens to do so, similar to the law that bans posting content associated with pedophilia. While officials say their goal during Ramadan is to thwart attacks, they emphasized that they want to avoid flooding the West Bank with soldiers or conducting operations in broad daylight in an effort to temper growing flames.”

7. Nigeria

CNN: 'Gunshots Everywhere': Survivor Of Train Ambushed By Armed Gang In Nigeria Reveals Harrowing Details

“Chilling details have emerged about an armed gang's attack on a train in northern Nigeria which left eight people dead and more than two dozen injured. Musa Bashir Usman was one of more than 300 people traveling on a train from Nigeria's capital Abuja to the northern city of Kaduna when it was targeted by an armed gang on Monday. In a statement posted to Facebook by Samuel Aruwan, the commissioner of Kaduna State's Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, and signed by Muyiwa Adekeye, special adviser to the governor, the incident was described as a terror attack. Usman told CNN Thursday that the train was hit by two explosions before the gunmen opened fire on trapped passengers. “About 25 minutes to the end of the journey, there was the first blast. It was dark and the electrical system of the train went off... All we could see were explosion lights (fireworks). The train was still moving and within 30 seconds, there was a second explosion that derailed the train. The next thing we heard were sporadic gunshots ... gunshots everywhere, through the windows,” Usman said. After bombing the tracks, the gunmen surrounded the carriages and opened fire, said Usman.”

Sahara Reporters: Why Boko Haram, Iswap, Bandits Will Terrorise Nigerians Beyond 2023— Report

“A report by the Sementix Global Concept has revealed insurgency and banditry will not end in Nigeria anytime soon. According to the report, the insecurity challenge in Nigeria will extend beyond the 2023 presidential elections as against the expectation of many people. The report which highlighted four reasons for the extension of insecurity in the country noted that there were only about 300, 000 security personnel saddled with the protection of over 200 million people. This, it said, is inadequate, particularly with the peculiarities of the security challenges in the country. It further noted that time is running out for President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to combat insecurity with the fast-approaching 2023 elections. However, it noted that the administration is more interested in keeping the All Progressives Party (APC) in power than focusing on the insecurity challenges confronting the country. The report also highlighted the non-involvement of religious leaders in the fight against insecurity as a major challenge. It reads, “End of the Buhari's administration and election year. The combination of two factors is working against Buhari's administration's resolve to end all insurgency in its time. “Time is fast running out on the government as it has less than a year to leave. Then it is also preparing for elections and trying to ensure that its party, the APC remains in power.”

8. Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Somali National Army Special Forces Of Danab Kill 7 Al-Shabab Militants, Seize Cache Of Weapons

“Somali National Army SNA special commandos (Danab) has killed 7 Alshabab militants in a security operation near Wasil town in Mudug region. During operation, the Army captured 2 injured militants, 4 IEDs, 4 rifles and vehicles, SNA Chief, Ge. Odawa confirmed. Somali National Army has in the recent days intensified sting operations against the insurgents across the country as the Horn of Africa Nation grapples with the conclusion of Parliamentary elections which started in mid last year. Several Alshabab militants have also been surrendering to the Army in the recent weeks whilst decrying about the problems the terror group poses to the innocent civilians.”

9. Mali

Reuters: Mali Says Military Operation In Moura Area Kills 200 Militants

“Mali's military said it has killed over 200 Islamist militants in an operation in the centre of the West African country, the latest clash in a month of escalating violence. The strikes, carried out in late March by land and air troops, targeted the area of Moura which the military says is a stronghold of jihadist groups that have waged a decade-long fight for territory in central and northern Mali. “This operation follows very precise information that made it possible to locate the holding of a meeting between various (militants) in Moura,” a military statement said. Mali has been in turmoil since 2012 when Islamist insurgents took over a northern separatist rebellion. Local affiliates of Islamic State and al Qaeda have used the area as a launch pad for attacks in neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, killing thousands. A spate of violence by Islamic State in the Greater Sahara in March claimed the lives of hundreds of civilians. The military responded with airstrikes, and the United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali deployed two units to the zone. Rights groups have expressed concern about the plight of civilians caught in the crossfire or wrongly accused of being militants. Soldiers killed at least 71 civilians between December and March, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report last month.”

10. Africa

Bloomberg: Mozambique Gas Bonanza In Limbo As Islamist Insurgency Simmers

“Southern African nations are considering extending the deployment of troops fighting an Islamic State-linked insurgency in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province that prompted TotalEnergies SE to stall a $20 billion natural gas project. Ministers from the 16-member Southern African Development Community will meet in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, on Sunday to discuss the bloc’s mission, which is due to expire on April 14. Heads of state were supposed to decide Monday whether to extend it, but their talks were postponed and have yet to be rescheduled. SADC first dispatched soldiers in July to help restore peace, joining troops sent by Rwanda, which isn’t a member. Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi asked SADC and Rwanda for military help after a March 2021 raid on Palma, the town closest to the TotalEnergies site, that left dozens of people dead. The attack prompted the company to withdraw staff and declare force majeure on its project, which is one of Africa’s biggest private investments and has the potential to transform the economy of the word’s third-poorest nation. It will only restart once there is lasting peace and displaced people return home, Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne said in February.”

11. United Kingdom

The National: UK Terrorism Watchdog Vows To Tackle Child Terrorists Amid Rising Figures

“The UK’s terrorism watchdog has pledged to tackle child terrorists as arrest figures have risen. Jonathan Hall QC, the independent terrorism reviewer, has unveiled three core areas he will review in his 2022 report, predominantly focusing on online terrorism. Last year a record number of children were arrested on suspicion of terror offences in Britain, which experts have linked to online radicalisation following the shutdown of schools during the pandemic. Under-18s accounted for 13 per cent of all terrorist arrests last year, up from 8 per cent. “There has been a significant increase in the number of terrorism-related arrests of children,” he said. “Much of this is related to internet activity, and many of these children are neuro-divergent and/or suffer from poor mental health.” He said one of the key areas he will be investigating is whether there are ways of “avoiding criminalising children while protecting the public”. He is also examining terrorism acts online and the way terrorism is investigated. “My annual report this year is devoted to the operation of the terrorism acts online,” he said. “Terrorist content online — Most standards are set by internet services operating overseas. Does UK terrorism legislation set the right standards (including by criminalising online speech)? “Could UK terrorism legislation do more to promote acceptable standards (as it does, for example, by proscription of terrorist groups with an online presence)?”

12. Europe

Associated Press: Albania Charges Iranian Man For Alleged Terror Links

“Albanian prosecutor’s office said Friday it has charged an Iranian man of supporting terror organizations and abusing computer data. The Special Structure Against Corruption and Organized Crime, a prosecutor’s office in charge of special crimes and those committed by senior officials, said the case against Bijan Pooladrag has been sent to the court. The statement did not give more details on the defendant or when he was arrested. More than two years ago, Albania expelled two Iranian diplomats for allegedly engaging in illegal activities while violating their diplomatic status and threatening the country’s security. The Iranians were suspected of illegal activities related to a World Cup qualifying match between Albania and Israel in 2018. About 20 people were arrested in Albania and Kosovo following that match, which officials say was threatened by an alleged terrorist plot. Albania is also home to more than 2,000 members of the Iranian exile opposition group Mujahedin el-Khalk, which moved there from Iraq.”
Personal note: Another exciting day in the world order!

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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