Eye on Extremism, November 10, 2016

Counter Extremism Project

Time: ISIS Militants Near Mosul Force 1,500 Civilians to Retreat With Them, U.N. Says

“Islamic State (ISIS) militants have forced about 1,500 families to retreat with them near Mosul, as Iraqi forces push ahead with their offensive to drive the militants out of their stronghold, the U.N. human rights commission said Tuesday. ISIS militants also abducted 295 former Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) members from villages on the outskirts of the city, Reuters reports. “People forcibly moved or abducted, it appears, are either intended to be used as human shields or — depending on their perceived affiliations — killed,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, was quoted by Reuters as saying.”

Iraqi News: ISIS Reveals Names Of Multinational Suicide Bombers To Raise Fighters Spirits

“The self-proclaimed Islamic State is now revealing the identities and nationalities of its suicide bombers as means to “boost the morales” of its fighters, Alsumaria News reported on Tuesday. The group has unveiled the identities of 20 suiciders who carried out bombings against security forces in Mosul over the past three days, according to Alsumaria, which explained that those are holding seven Arab and Western nationalities. “ISIS media outlets intensified its activities over the past hours inside Mosul, especially at districts located on the eastern coast that witness the group’s greatest presence,” Alsumaria said. “ISIS media spelt out the identities of 20 suiciders who carried out booby-trapped vehicles and explosive belt attacks on several security locations over the past 72 hours.”

The Telegraph: Paris And Brussels Terror Attacks Were Coordinated By Syria-Based Jihadist Called Oussama Atar, French And Belgian Intelligence Believe

“French investigators have identified a Syria-based extremist who Amnesty International campaigned to care for in Iraqi jail as a suspected coordinator of attacks in Paris and Brussels, sources close to the case have told French media. Oussama Ahmad Atar, a 32-year-old of dual Belgian and Moroccan nationality thought to have high-ranking links in Isil, was already a suspect in the Brussels attacks on March 22 but has now been linked to the November 13, 2015 atrocities in Paris.”

France 24: Iraqi Kurds Take Key IS Group-Held Town Northeast Of Mosul

“Iraqi Kurdish forces have seized the town of Bashiqa near Mosul from the Islamic State group, an official said Tuesday, as US-backed militia forces advanced on the jihadists’ Syrian stronghold Raqa. Capturing Bashiqa would be one of the final steps in securing the eastern approaches to Mosul, three weeks into an offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the country’s second city. Iraqi troops have also seized the town of Hamam al-Alil south of Mosul, and on Tuesday investigators carried out an initial examination of a mass grave site discovered in the area.”

Al Arabiya: Syrian Government Battles Rebels For Key Aleppo District

“Syrian government forces battled rebels for control of a strategically significant district of Aleppo on Tuesday, in what could be the most important advance in the divided city by Damascus and its allies in weeks. There were conflicting accounts of the situation in the 1070 Apartments district on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo, which lies alongside the government’s corridor into the parts of the city which it controls. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that reports on the war, said government forces and their allies had seized full control of the district, calling it the most significant gain by the government in Aleppo since September.”

Stars And Stripes: Turkey, Syrian Kurds At Loggerheads Over Raqqa Offensive

“Turkey said Tuesday that the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led forces leading an assault on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa should not enter the city itself but merely help encircle it, a suggestion dismissed by the Kurds. The dispute between the two U.S. allies threatens to complicate efforts to drive IS out of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the extremist group’s self-described caliphate. The U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces, which include Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen fighters, have driven IS from large swaths of territory, but Turkey views the Syrian Kurds who dominate the group as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency raging in its southeast.”

The Times Of Israel: Palestinian Tries To Stab Solder With Screwdriver, Is Shot — IDF

“A Palestinian man, armed with a screwdriver, attempted to carry out a stabbing attack on an Israeli soldier in the northern West Bank on Wednesday morning and was shot, according to the army. The attempted stabbing took place in Hawara, south of Nablus, the Israel Defense Forces said. The soldier had been on guard duty in the area at the time of the attack, the army said. Troops on the scene shot the attacker, who received first aid at the scene, the IDF said.”

Wall Street Journal: German Police Detain Group Of Alleged Radicals

“German police on Tuesday detained members of an alleged jihadist network that had been recruiting fighters to join terror militia Islamic State in Syria, federal prosecutors said Tuesday, in one of the biggest swipes at a local radical Islamist network in recent months. Police in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia detained five men aged 26 to 50 on suspicion of supporting Islamic State, including the leader of the group, only identified as 32 year-old Iraqi Ahmad Abdulaziz Abdullah A. in keeping with German privacy law “The aim of the network headed by him was to connect people to ISIS in Syria,” the federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement. According to prosecutors, the group managed to smuggle at least one young man with his family to ISIS in Syria.”

International Business Times: UN Report Finds Kenya Still Funding Al-Shabab Terror Group Through Illegal Sugar And Charcoal Trade

“Three years after the Kenyan army was first accused of colluding with Somalia-based Islamic group al-Shabaab in Somalia’s multimillion-dollar illegal charcoal trade, the United Nations has warned that Kenya’s military are still complicit in the trade, from which al-Shabaab predominantly finances its activities. In 2013, the United Nations found that members of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) operating in Somalia as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) was complicit in the trade that provides income to al-Shabaab. The terror group — KDF’s military opponent in Somalia and at home — has long funded its war against the Somali government and AMISOM by the illegal export of charcoal estimated at between $135m (£109m) to $180m by the UN monitoring group for Somalia and Eritrea.”

Reuters: Freed Chibok Girls Spared From Abuse And Rape By Nigeria’s Boko Haram: Source

“The 21 Chibok schoolgirls freed by Boko Haram militants last month say they were not abused or raped during two-and-a-half years’ captivity in northeast Nigeria, a source close to the presidency said on Wednesday. Many girls kidnapped by the Islamist militant group have been used as sex slaves, fighters and even suicide bombers, according to rights groups including Amnesty International.”

United States

Wall Street Journal: President-Elect Donald Trump Faces Foreign-Policy Quandaries

“President-elect Donald Trump is set to inherit one of the most complicated, high-stakes foreign-policy portfolios in a generation, stepping into a tense world as a little-known leader whose positions on key issues are largely undefined. Mr. Trump has suggested in speeches, interviews and statements on the campaign trail that he would reorient U.S. policy in potentially significant ways, questioning U.S. support to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other historic alliances, upending trade deals and drawing closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Reuters: Monitor Says Strike By U.S.-Led Coalition Kills 16 North Of Syria’s Raqqa

“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a U.S.-led coalition air strike killed at least 16 people overnight in a town north of Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa. The U.S.-led coalition said it had no information on the report by the war monitor, but would look into it. The coalition is providing air support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance which includes the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia and some Arab groups, in an operation to drive Islamic State from its de facto capital in Syria.”


BBC: Bahrain Hosts Counter-Terror Drills For Arab Gulf Nations

“Security forces from all six Arab Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have been carrying out a series of counter-terrorism exercises, codenamed Arab Gulf Security 1. Hosted by Bahrain, the smallest of the six Gulf Arab states, the country’s ministry of interior says the scenarios involve “invasion, rescue and the handling of insurgents”. The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman and the organisers are hoping the drills will lead to a more co-ordinated approach to security in the region.”

Saudi Arabia

Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia Praises Islamic Countries’ Stance On Houthi Ballistic Attack On Makkah

“The Saudi Cabinet valued what member countries in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have confirmed in their final statement issued by the Executive Committee of the organization at the level of Foreign Ministers during its emergency meeting held in Jeddah to discuss the dangerous developments of launching a ballistic missile by al-Houthi militias toward Makkah. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, chosen by Allah Almighty to bear the honor of full responsibility for the service and care of the Two Holy Mosques, the holy sites and pilgrims since its foundation, will not neglect this sacred trust,” the Saudi Cabinet stated.”


Reuters: Syrian Army Says Takes Aleppo District, Rebels Say Battle Continues

“The Syrian army said it had taken a strategic district of Aleppo on Tuesday in what would mark the most important advance in the divided city by Damascus and its allies in weeks, but rebels said the battle was not over. The 1070 Apartments district is located on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo and lies alongside the government’s corridor into the parts of the city that it controls.”

Associated Press: The Latest: Airstrikes In Syria Kill 21 Civilians

“A Syrian search-and-rescue group says 21 civilians have been killed in two separate airstrikes on the northwestern rebel-held province of Idlib. The Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, says 10 members of the same family were killed in an air raid Tuesday on the village of Baarbo, while 11 others were killed in a strike on the town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said seven children and two pregnant women were killed in Khan Sheikhoun. The Observatory also said 21 civilians were killed between the two locations.”

Islamic State

Kuwait Times: Islamic State Brutality Comes To Light

“From behind the curtains of his bedroom window, 29-year-old Riyad Ahmed would peer out at Islamic State fighters dragging civilians into a makeshift jail across the street and then sending them in the middle of the night to be executed. The former English teacher from the town of Hammam al-Alil, south of the jihadists’ Mosul stronghold, recalls hearing victims’ cries of agony as he hid with dozens of neighbors in the shadow of one of the group’s detention centers. ‘The devil himself would be astounded by Daesh’s methods of torture. It is beyond the imagination,’ said Ahmed, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. Iraq’s army and federal police, participating in a US-backed offensive launched last month to recapture the largest population centre under the jihadists’ control, retook this area over the weekend. As the forces advance, details of Islamic State’s brutality and growing desperation, which have trickled out of its self-proclaimed caliphate over the past two years, are being reinforced by first-hand accounts of residents.”


France 24: In Raqqa Offensive, Kurds Seek ‘Insurance’ Against Turkish Attack

“Both Turkey and their Kurdish foes in Syria have argued that they should lead the battle to drive the Islamic State (IS) group out of Raqqa. But the bitter rivals are more concerned with keeping each other in check than tackling the jihadist bastion. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) made their move on Sunday, announcing the start of their offensive to capture the IS group’s de facto capital. The coalition — which includes Arab groups but is dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) — engaged in skirmishes with jihadist fighters north of Raqqa, and warned Turkey against interfering with the operation.”

Middle East

Middle East Eye: Why The West Cannot Afford To Ignore Political Islam

“After a US presidential campaign conducted, for the most part, in the gutter, and the spectacle of national newspapers branding three top judges in Britain “enemies of the people” for a judgement which did not suit their cause, Britons and Americans are in no position to lecture Arabs on “democratic principles and liberal values”. And yet this is what the British government set out to do in their inquiry into the Muslim Brotherhood. It was a poisoned chalice. Cameron was acting on the orders of a police state (the United Arab Emirates) and against the advice of MI5. After MI6 ruled out any connection between the Brotherhood and the Luxor bus bombings, its conclusions pleased no one.”

United Kingdom

BBC: Batley Man Charged With Syria Terrorism Offences

“A man has appeared in court accused of trying to travel to Syria to join so-called Islamic State. Ghulam Hussain, 30, from Batley, West Yorkshire, is accused of giving an undercover policeman cash for the trip. Mr Hussain, of Track Road, is alleged to have bought a plane ticket to travel to Pakistan later this month and return via Turkey a week later. He appeared before Westminster magistrates charged with two offences under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act.”


Kuwait Times: Islamic State Suspects Arrested In Germany

“German authorities arrested five men yesterday on allegations they aided the Islamic State group in Germany by recruiting members and providing financial and logistical help. The federal prosecutor’s office said in a statement that the men were arrested on suspicion of supporting a terrorist organization. The arrests were made in a series of raids in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the northern state of Lower Saxony. The country’s justice minister, Heiko Maas, called the arrests “an important blow to the extremist scene in Germany. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said it was critical to prevent people from becoming “so radicalized that they are in danger of becoming terrorists.””

Reuters: Germany Rejects Turkey’s Assertion That Berlin Backs Militant Groups

“German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday rejected an accusation by his Turkish counterpart that Germany backs the Kurdish militant group PKK, saying such organizations were banned in Germany. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Berlin on Tuesday of allowing the PKK and far-leftist DHKP-C, both of which have carried out armed attacks in Turkey, to operate on German soil with impunity.”


Yahoo News: French Investigators Name Plotter Of Paris, Brussels Attacks

“French investigators have identified a Moroccan-Belgian jihadist based in Syria as a key plotter of attacks in Paris and Brussels, sources told AFP Tuesday, announcing a breakthrough in their multi-country probe. Oussama Atar, a 32-year-old believed to be a member of the Islamic State group, was already a suspect in the March 22 attacks on Brussels but has now been linked to the November 13 atrocities in Paris last year. Police have long suspected that the assault on the French capital, in which teams of jihadists killed 130 people, was coordinated by one or several people from Syria, but have never previously named anyone.”


Arabi 21: Aleppo: Farmers Are Using A New Method To Remove ISIS Mines

“In an effort to cultivate their fields, farmers in the rural areas of northern Aleppo have turned to new means for removing the sophisticated mines left behind on their lands by the Islamic State group. ISIS militants have been expelled from the rural areas by the Free Syria Army factions, as part of the “Euphrates Shield” operation, but their mines remain. Farmers use livestock which exist in abundance in the region to comb the fields before setting out to cultivate them, in order to avoid risks {to humans}. Despite objections voiced by some locals to the use of livestock as a means of removing mines, the large number of civilian casualties, {compounded by} the lack of mine-removing equipment and deteriorating economic conditions, are all factors that necessitate the farmers having to resort to this method.”

Muslim Brotherhood

The Seventh Day: Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Accused Of Preventing The Arrival Of Food Commodities To Poor Beneficiaries

“In a new effort to stir up public opinion in Egypt, members of the Muslim Brotherhood began intercepting cartons of food commodities belonging to the armed forces, to prevent their reaching the {intended} poor beneficiaries. Social media users uploaded images showing a car owner carrying a load of subsidized food cartons, which are supposed to be distributed by the armed forces to the poor. These media users wondered: “Are these {car-owners} the persons entitled to such support?” They also questioned how they had managed to obtain such large quantities of food boxes, which are earmarked for the poor and needy and not for car owners. One social media user, who posted photos on his Facebook account, claimed they were taken on Faisal Street. Comments in response to these photos varied. Some stressed that the main reason for this {phenomenon} is the absence of a clear mechanism for distribution, and the non-existence of official distribution outlets. Egyptian troops have begun distributing food cartons at a {nominal} price of 25 pounds ($1.6), while the real price of the products packed inside comes to 50 pounds ($3.3). The distribution campaign is an attempt to support the neediest citizens during the current economic crunch in the country.”

Elfagr: Muslim Brotherhood Plot To Hit Egypt’s Economy

“Those tracking the moves of the Muslim Brotherhood against the Egyptian economy over the past year observe that it launched a plot, 10 months ago, to harm the Egyptian economy by depriving the market of hard currency. This plot aims to ignite public opinion against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his government. From there it was easier for them {the Brotherhood} to call for demonstrations. The plot began in February, when the {international} group abroad called to counter the campaign that sought to save the Egyptian economy through {increasing} foreign currency remittances by Egyptians abroad. The Brotherhood called to resist this campaign by urging Egyptians abroad not to respond to calls to save the Egyptian pound. According to the scheme drawn up by the group, in the few days remaining before November 11th, the Brotherhood will promote false screenshots purportedly taken inside the Central Bank, showing the dollar rate reaching 20 pounds. The organization plans to promote those images across the social media.”


Ababiil.Net: Yemen: Houthi Group Sells State Institutions

“Houthi militia have begun selling and leasing state institutions to generate new income after the growing siege {on its sources} and the loss of its most important resources for financing its military operations. The latest of these moves was the transfer of the Central Bank of Yemen from Sanaa to Aden and the cut-off of revenues derived from the supply of gas from Marib to the Central Bank in Sanaa. Local sources disclosed that the Houthi militia sold the “House of Culture” in the capital Sanaa to an investor, who then began to convert the building into a restaurant. Sources in the Culture Ministry claim that the investor paid the Houthis 100 million riyals ($400,000). He started changing the building’s historic cultural landmarks as part of the {renovation} work to open a restaurant and lounge on the premises.”

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