Global Islamism Monitor - No. 46


October 30, 2017


IRELAND ON ALERT
Have Islamists found a new hub in Europe? On the heels of recent attacks throughout the Continent, there is new concern that Ireland may be turning into a support base for foreign jihadists. Federal authorities in the country are investigating a suspected eight-man "organized terror cell" led by two brothers from Chechnya and active in the west of the country. The activities of the suspected militants are being investigated by the Garda Siochana, Ireland's national police service. "It has been established that they have attempted to send small internal parts of computers to locations such as Chechnya, Iraq and Syria," a Garda spokesman has said. "It is believed that they have been doing this as 'dummy runs' for perhaps attempting to send something more sinister such as bomb components out of the country." (Dublin
Independent, September 28, 2017)

TARGET: AMERICA

U.S. law enforcement agencies are investigating a growing number of suspected terrorist threats in the U.S. homeland, raising concerns among policymakers about the potential of a new attack within the United States. "In his first testimony before a Senate committee, FBI director Christopher A. Wray revealed that the bureau is now investigating 2,000 terrorism cases - an equal number of cases involving radical-Islamic-directed or inspired terror and cases of violence being planned or conducted by white supremacists or other racially motivated extremists," writes veteran reporter Judith Miller in the City Journal. "Wray issued a stark warning about the growing danger of drone and cyber terror," Miller notes. "Terrorists want to use drones to drop grenade-sized explosives, toxins, or other harmful substances on Americans, just as they have done abroad." "We've seen that overseas already with growing frequency," she cites the new FBI chief as telling lawmakers. "I think the expectation is that it's coming here imminently." (
City Journal, September 28, 2017)

THE ISLAMIST TIMBER TRADE

Afghanistan's remote Kunar province was once known predominantly for its "white-water rivers, broadleaf oak forests at low elevations, and pine forests in the mountains." However, this natural abundance has, of late, transformed the region into a source of sustenance for Islamic radicals. Tribal leaders in eastern Afghanistan say that Taliban and Islamic State (IS) militants are funding their violent campaigns in the country in part through revenue generated by large-scale logging. Loggers who are backed by militants are felling hundreds of pine trees and smuggling them to neighborhood markets in Nangarhar Province on a daily basis. The illegal activity increasingly poses a threat to Kunar's oak and pine forests, but it's unlikely to cease soon, as it represents a survival strategy for the Taliban and Islamic State militants as they face increased pressure from the Afghan military. (
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, October 5, 2017)

THE PERSISTENCE OF PALESTINIAN "RESISTANCE"

On the heels of its historic unity talks with its political rival, Fatah, in Cairo, the Palestinian Authority's premier Islamist movement is taking pains to prove its authenticity - and its continued radicalism. High-ranking representatives from Hamas (including the movement's military commander in the West Bank, Saleh al-Arouri) recently traveled to Iran on an official visit intended to reaffirm the group's radical bona fides. In meetings with a slew of Iranian officials, including Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani and Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's top advisor on foreign affairs, al-Arouri et al. took pains to stress their continued commitment to "resistance" against Israel, as well as to highlight that the terms of their reconciliation with Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah faction were extremely favorable, and did not involve significant curbs on Hamas militancy or its possession of weaponry.

The message of the visit was clear. "Support of the resistance is one thing and Palestinian reconciliation is another thing, related to the civil side in the Palestinian sphere," a spokesman for the group has told reporters. For their part, Iranian officials appear pleased with this arrangement. "We congratulate you for declaring that you will not set your weapons aside and for describing it as your redline," Velayati has told al-Arouri and his companions. (Tehran
FARS, October 21, 2017; Jerusalem Post, October 23, 2017)

RUSSIA'S ROLE IN THE FOREIGN FIGHTER PROBLEM

Which country ranks as the largest source of foreign fighters for the Islamic State's "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq? That dubious distinction belongs not to a Middle Eastern nation, or a North African one, but to the Russia Federation, a new report has alleged. The study, carried out by the Soufan Group, a leading counterterrorism consultancy, found that while the number of foreign fighters from places like Tunisia have declined appreciably over the past two years, those of Russian origin have actually risen. In all, the report details, 3,417 Russian nationals are estimated to have joined the ranks of ISIS to date - a forty percent increase over the 2015 estimate of 2,400. (
Newsweek
, October 24, 2017)

Related Categories: Middle East; Europe; Russia; Terrorism; Radical Islam; Countering Islamic Extremism Project

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