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Old 11-24-2020, 08:11 AM
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Arrow Eye on Extremism - 11-24-20

Eye on Extremism - November 24, 2020
By: Counter Extremism Project - 11-24-20

**NOTE: CEP’s Eye on Extremism will be suspended on Wednesday, November 25, Thursday, November 26 & Friday, November 27 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. It will resume on Monday, November 30.**

Associated Press: Burkina Faso Counts Ballots; Extremist Threats Affected Vote

“Votes are being counted in Burkina Faso after Sunday’s presidential and legislative elections, where threats of extremist violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State prevented parts of the country from casting ballots. Election workers began the counting after polls closed by holding the ballots up for observers and marking the votes on a chalkboard beside the candidate’s name. Preliminary results are expected within the next two days. While there were no reported incidents of major attacks, threats of violence prevented people from casting ballots in hard-hit parts of the country, in the North, Sahel and East regions. Nearly 3,000 polling stations expected to open yesterday didn’t, preventing up to 350,000 people from voting, said Newton Ahmed Barry, president for the National Independent Electoral Commission, on local television. In Tapoa province in the east, 224 polling stations out of 335 didn’t open, according to a report from CODEL, a local organization monitoring the elections. CODEL said it was “concerned about the situation in areas weakened by insecurity”. Local officials in the Sahel and Center North, the epi-centers of the violence, told the AP people were angry about not being able to vote.”

Associated Press: Egypt Adds Leading Activist, Politician To Terror Watch List

“An Egyptian court placed nearly 30 people, including a leading pro-democracy activist and an Islamist politician, on a terrorism watch list over accusations they joined the banned Muslim Brotherhood, the official gazette reported Monday. Activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, politician Abdel-Monaem Abul Fetouh and 26 others were added to a “terrorism list” for the next five years, the report said. The ruling by Judge Hassan Farid last week includes a travel ban and freeze on assets for three years. The decision may be appealed within 60 days. Abdel-Fattah rose to prominence with the 2011 pro-democracy uprisings that swept the Middle East and in Egypt toppled long-time President Hosni Mubarak. To many, his imprisonment three years later — at a time when authorities imposed draconian laws banning public gatherings and unauthorized demonstrations — was a sign of Egypt’s return to autocratic rule. Abdel-Fattah was released in March 2019 after five years in prison for taking part in a peaceful protest against military trials for civilians. He was re-arrested in September last year amid a sweeping security clampdown that followed small but rare anti-government protests. Abul Fetouh, the Islamist politician, was a longtime Brotherhood member but quit the group in 2011 and established the Strong Egypt party.”

United States

New York Post: Boy Forced To Threaten Trump In ISIS Video Returns To US

“The Indiana boy who was brought to Syria and forced to threaten President Trump in an ISIS propaganda video two years ago has returned to the United States, where he says it’s “sweet relief” to be back home, according to a report. Matthew was just 10 years old when he appeared in a 2017 Islamic State video vowing to attack the West after he was taken to Syria by his mom, Samantha Elhassani, and his Moroccan-born stepfather, Moussa Elhassani, BBC reported. “It’s happened and it’s done,” the boy told the outlet in his first public comments on the agonizing ordeal. “I was so young, I did not really understand any of it.” The boy has been living with his father for the past year after being returned to the States by US military officials in 2018. He has undergone counseling following two years in ISIS captivity in Raqqa and is recovering well, according to the report. The teen says his stepfather forced him to take part in the video. “He was starting to lose it, like he was mentally unstable, very mentally unstable,” Matthew told the BBC. In 2015, Matthew’s mother took her family from Elkhart, Indiana, into Syria, crossing into ISIS territory via Turkey, the boy recalled.”


Arab News: The Future Of Iran’s Ties With Al-Qaeda Under New US President

“The announcement of the killing of Al-Qaeda’s deputy commander in Tehran has again raised questions about the Iranian regime’s relationship with the terrorist organization and has provided a fresh reminder of the need to analyze the regime’s strategy based on using the organization as an asset and providing safe havens for its leaders. On Nov. 14, 2020, American media outlets cited reports from US officials confirming that a covert joint operation by US and Israeli intelligence services had resulted in the assassination of Al-Qaeda commander Abu Mohammed Al-Masri in the heart of Tehran on Aug. 7, 2020. Al-Masri was involved in the attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. The Iranian Foreign Ministry predictably dismissed the reports of Al-Masri’s killing on Iranian soil, describing them as “fake news.” In the face of significant evidence from various sources repeatedly confirming the longstanding relationship between Iran and Al-Qaeda, the regime in Tehran insists on sticking unyieldingly to its policy of denial. It cites sectarian differences and conflicting ideological views as supposedly compelling evidence of the lack of any connection between Tehran and Al-Qaeda, and it reiterates the animosity between the two sides.”


Agence France-Presse: Taliban Rigging Drones To Drop Bombs, Afghan Spy Chief Says

“The Taliban have deployed small drones to drop bombs on government forces in some recent attacks, Afghanistan’s spy chief said Monday, illustrating a new fighting method used by the insurgents. Ahmad Zia Shiraj, who heads the National Directorate of Security (NDS), said Taliban fighters were using hobby drones and rigging them with explosives. “The drones they are using are sold in the market. They are basically camera drones,” Shiraj said in an address to parliament, adding the NDS wants to stop the import of the popular devices. In late October, the Taliban reportedly used a drone to bomb the compound of the governor of Kunduz province. Shiraj did not confirm the report, but he noted that the Taliban have used drones in Kunduz and Paktia provinces. While the technique is new to the Taliban, Daesh militants operating in Iraq and Syria started using toy planes and hobby drones in 2016 to carry explosives. Daesh maintain a small but deadly presence in Afghanistan and have resisted years-long efforts by the US and Afghan forces to wipe them out. “We have destroyed their leadership circle but their second layer are young are still active,” Shiraj said."


Agence France-Presse: US Keeps 'All Options' Open For Yemen's Huthis

“The United States is “keeping all our options open” when it comes to Yemen's Huthi rebels, the national security advisor said Monday, amid reports the outgoing Trump administration could tag the group as terrorists. Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Philippines, Robert O'Brien criticised the Iran-backed Huthis of failing to engage in a “good-faith peace process” to end the conflict. The Huthis are at the centre of a flurry of diplomacy as the Trump administration, which has made isolating its arch-foe Tehran a centrepiece of its regional policy, enters its final weeks. Washington was monitoring the situation “very closely”, said O'Brien in response to a question on whether the US would designate the Huthis a “terrorist organisation”. “We are constantly considering whether and who and how we should designate terrorist organisations,” O'Brien said. “President Trump is still the president of the United States for the next 50 days and this will be something that is certainly on the agenda and we will have to see how that plays out,” he added. “Right now we encourage the Huthis to expel the Iranians, to stop attacking neighbours and stop attacking people within Yemen and engage in a good-faith peace process with the other stakeholders in Yemen.”


Al Jazeera: Five Killed By Gunmen In Northwest Nigeria Mosque Attack: Police

“Gunmen killed five worshippers and kidnapped at least 18 in an attack on a mosque in northwestern Nigeria’s Zamfara state, police said. Speaking to AFP news agency on Sunday, state police spokesman Mohammed Shehu said: “The bandits killed five worshippers and kidnapped 18 others, including the imam.” According to reports, about 100 cattle thieves on motorcycles opened fire on a Muslim congregation in remote Dutsen Gari village in Maru district as residents were observing weekly Friday prayers. Residents and local media said more than 30 worshippers were abducted. “The gunmen attacked the mosque while the imam was delivering the sermon and took away more than 30 people, including the imam, after shooting dead five worshippers,” one resident, Ibrahim Altine, said. Northwest Nigeria is a hotbed of criminal gangs accused of raiding villages, stealing cattle, kidnapping for ransom and burning homes after looting food supplies. The country’s northwest sees occasional clashes between the herder Fulani people, one of the largest ethnic groups widely dispersed across West Africa, and neighbouring tribes. The Fulani, who migrated to the south to graze their cattle, claim farmers have tried to steal their animals and attack their people.”


Voice Of America: France At Odds With Mali Plan To Dialogue With Jihadists

“The eight-year Islamist insurgency in the West African nation of Mali shows no sign of ending and after an August coup toppled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The country’s transitional government has indicated it is willing to open dialogue with all armed groups. France, which has more than 5,000 troops in the country, has warned against any discussions with jihadists. “With terrorists, we do not discuss. We fight.” The statement made recently by French President Emmanuel Macron in an interview is — to some analysts — a clear rebuke of the strategy initiated by transitional Malian authorities who are willing to open discussions with jihadists. “This is at odds with the Malian, with the desire of the Malian opinion, to undertake a dialogue with Iyad Ag-Ahly, Amadou Koufa,” said Nicolas Normand, a former Ambassador of France to Mali. “Actually, there is nothing to negotiate because jihadists leaders do not ask for a pardon or reintegration in the Malian society. They want to impose a totalitarian regime. Of course, Bamako resists to such a will. I think the population is not really aware of what it is at stake with its own liberty.” Following the signature of the so-called Algiers Peace Agreement, armed groups were supposed to join the national army.”


Reuters: Ethiopia Arrests Nearly 800 Suspects Over 'Terrorist' Plot - TV

“Ethiopian police have arrested some 796 people suspected of plotting “terrorist attacks” in the capital Addis Ababa for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the state-affiliated Fana broadcaster said on Monday. There was no immediate comment from Ethiopia’s government or the TPLF, who are waging a war in the northern Tigray region.”

Al Jazeera: Who Is Al-Qaeda’s New North Africa Chief?

“The new leader of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is a well-known veteran among the armed groups wreaking havoc in North Africa but experts say it is unclear what path he will chart to assert his authority. Abu Obaida Yusuf al-Annabi, an Algerian national born in 1969, replaced Abdelmalek Droukdel following his killing by French forces in Mali last June, according to the SITE monitoring group. Al-Annabi was already head of AQIM’s Council of Dignitaries and “was also one of its media chiefs”, said Laurence Bindner, co-founder of the JOS Project that analyses armed group’s propaganda online. “He’s the one who pledged allegiance in the group’s name to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the main al-Qaeda chief, in 2011. And he’s authored several of its main statements in recent years,” said Bindner … Analysts at the Counter Extremism Project say al-Annabi’s relations with his predecessor may have been tense, another potential sign of strategic divisions in the ranks.”

United Kingdom

Reuters: Teen Who Left UK To Join Islamic State Should Not Be Allowed Back, Supreme Court Told

“A British-born woman who went to Syria as a schoolgirl to join Islamic State should not be allowed to return to Britain to challenge the government taking away her citizenship because she poses a security risk, the UK’s top court heard on Monday. Shamima Begum, who was born to Bangladeshi parents, left London in 2015 when she was 15 and went to Syria via Turkey with two schoolfriends. In Syria, she married an Islamic State fighter and lived in Raqqa, the capital of the self-declared caliphate, where she remained for four years until she was discovered in a detention camp. She has had three children since leaving Britain, but all the infants have since died. Britain’s interior minister stripped her of her British citizenship but in July, the Court of Appeal unanimously agreed Begum, now 21, could only have a fair and effective appeal of that decision if she were permitted to come back to Britain. Challenging that verdict, James Eadie, the lawyer for the British government, told the Supreme Court that intelligence agencies concluded those who aligned with Islamic State posed a serious risk to national security.”

BBC News: West Sussex Man Jailed Over Beheading And Terror Magazines

“A man who downloaded instructions on how to carry out terror attacks, and images of beheadings, has been jailed for 32 months. Zakaria Yanaouri, 21, of Congreve Road, Worthing, was arrested in a raid on his home 24 February. He pleaded guilty to five counts of possessing documents containing information useful to terrorism. Judge Philip Katz QC described Yanaouri as an extremist who opted to listen to “notorious terrorist loudmouths”. Sentencing Yanaouri, the judge rejected his claim that he only watched the materials “out of curiosity”. He said Yanaouri, who was of previous good character, had been brainwashed by the propaganda. The raid on his family home took place after he and his family had been stopped on their way back from Saudi Arabia. Issues of a digital Islamic State group propaganda magazine were found on a computer and each had a section labelled “Just Terror Tactics”, the Old Bailey heard. Prosecutor Robin Sellers said the seized material helped to show Yanaouri had “a mindset that is sympathetic to and supportive of the teachings and propaganda of Isis”. He told the court: “The material included moving images of beheadings and scenes of execution of Isis captives commonly encountered by the viewers.”


The New York Times: France’s Dragnet For Extremists Sweeps Up Some Schoolchildren, Too

“Armed with assault rifles and wearing balaclavas, dozens of police officers raided four apartments recently in a sprawling complex in Albertville, a city in the French Alps. They confiscated computers and cellphones, searched under mattresses and inside drawers, and took photos of books and wall ornaments with Quranic verses. Before the stunned families, the officers escorted away four suspects for “defending terrorism.” “That’s impossible,” Aysegul Polat recalled telling an officer who left with her son. “This child is 10 years old.” Her son — along with two other boys and one girl, all 10 years old — was accused of defending terrorism in a classroom discussion on the freedom of expression at a local public school. Officers held the children in custody for about 10 hours at police stations while interrogating their parents about the families’ religious practices and the recent republication of the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in the magazine Charlie Hebdo. The fifth-grade classmates are among at least 14 children and teenagers investigated by the police in recent weeks on accusations of making inappropriate comments during a commemoration for a teacher who was beheaded last month after showing the cartoons in a class on freedom of expression.”


The Interpreter: After Christchurch: Mapping Online Right-Wing Extremists

“When Australian man Brenton Tarrant conducted a mass-shooting terror attack last year at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, guns were not his only weapon. Before commencing, he posted links to a Facebook live-stream of the attack, while also uploading a self-penned manifesto onto 8chan’s “/pol” board. As Tarrant killed 51 people and wounded 49, he had effectively weaponised social media platforms in order to broadcast the propaganda to a global online audience. In the wake of this international terrorist incident, researchers from Macquarie University in Sydney, in collaboration with Victoria University in Melbourne, mined and analysed data from six social media platforms to examine the spread of right-wing extremist sentiment across New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, where Tarrant had lived before travelling in Europe. A mixed-method research design was created to investigate what had been this unstudied online community. From August to November 2019, anonymised data was collected from Twitter (37,422 tweets from 3,321 users), Gab (1,357,391 toots from 23,836 accounts) and a sample of archived message boards on Reddit, 4chan and 8chan (now named 8kun).”

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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