Nationalism, Populism & Terrorism 2018 – 19

Written by  //  April 29, 2019  //  Terrorism  //  No comments

List of terrorist incidents in 2019
How populism emerged as an electoral force in Europe

The New Face of Terrorism in 2019
Forget the Middle East—it’s time to prepare for attacks from the former Soviet Union.
By Vera Mironova
(Foreign Policy) The threat posed by Middle Eastern terrorists has been shrinking for some time. Even during the war against the Islamic State, Russian speakers from former Soviet countries were already committing many of the major attacks in the West. Those included relatively simple lone-wolf events, such as the 2017 truck strikes on pedestrians in New York and Stockholm—both conducted by Uzbeks—but also more complicated operations, such as the 2016 suicide bombing of Istanbul’s airport—which was allegedly organized by a Russian national—and the 2017 attack on a nightclub in the same city, led by an Uzbek.
With the fall of the Islamic State, Russian-speaking terrorists were mostly able to flee Iraq and Syria with more ease than Middle Eastern foreign fighters and are now back in hiding in the former Soviet sphere or in Europe. Having escaped the reach of the U.S. military, they may find it easier to bring their plots to fruition. Local sympathies will help. Government neglect and outright repression have made religious Muslims in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan attractive targets for radicals looking for new recruits. Several popular sheikhs from the Middle East, including the Saudi cleric Abdulaziz al-Tarefe, now have significant Russian- and Arabic-language followings on social media.(1 January 2019)

Battling terrorism needs a collective approach in South Asia
This profile of the main actors rekindles an old debate: why do seemingly well educated young – in this case South Asian citizens – often equipped with promising technical and engineering backgrounds take the Islamic terror path? This pattern has been evidenced in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives over the last decade and Sri Lanka which was considered to be the exception, has alas, joined the list, writes C Uday Bhaskar for South Asia Monitor

24 April
Picture emerges of well-to-do young bombers behind Sri Lankan carnage
(Reuters) – Details began to emerge in Sri Lanka on Wednesday of a band of nine, well-educated Islamist suicide bombers, including a woman, from well-to-do families who slaughtered 359 people in Easter Sunday bomb attacks. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the coordinated attacks on three churches and four hotels. If that connection is confirmed, the attacks looks likely to be the deadliest ever linked to the group. Both the Sri Lankan government and the United States said the scale and sophistication of the coordinated bombings suggested the involvement of an external group such as Islamic State.
It has also exposed a significant Sri Lankan intelligence failure, with warnings of strikes not acted on and feuds at the highest levels of government.
Lakshman Kiriella, the leader of parliament, said senior officials had deliberately withheld intelligence about possible attacks.He said information about possible attacks was received from Indian intelligence on April 4 and a Security Council meeting was chaired by President Maithripala Sirisena three days later, but it was not shared more widely.
Sri Lanka’s Perfect Storm of Failure
The bombings represent an intelligence failure of massive proportion. But a failure this big is not just confined to Sri Lanka. Jihadi terrorism is a global threat. When the networks are international, attacks in one country demand concerted action to prevent such mistakes from happening again.
(Foreign Policy) There were many chances to stop the Easter Sunday attacks. The government missed them all.
Although more evidence will emerge over time, the information trickling out paints a damning picture. The attacks were preventable, but compound failures let them happen. Sri Lankan authorities failed to anticipate the threat from Islamist groups with potential international networks, ignored warning signs, and failed to share information among themselves.
Why did no one act on these advance warnings? Probably because the Sri Lankan government remains bitterly divided, with the president and prime minister at war with each other.
Sri Lanka is still feeling the reverberations of the constitutional crisis last year, where the president (and defense minister), Maithripala Sirisena, attempted to remove Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe from office and replace him with the authoritarian former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Although this political coup failed, the division between president and prime minister continues, and control of the security services has been a key potential battleground. In an environment where information has become a political tool, and where Sirisena has taken the defense and police ministries under his own control and excluded the prime minister from the national security council, it’s hardly surprising that lower-level officials were reluctant to take action unilaterally.

21 April
Sri Lanka Bombings Live Updates: ‘It Was a River of Blood’
As Christians in Sri Lanka gathered on Sunday morning to celebrate Easter Mass, the culmination of Holy Week, powerful explosions ripped through three churches packed with worshipers, leaving hundreds of victims amid a havoc of splintered and blood-spattered pews.
In what the police said were coordinated terrorist attacks carried out by a single group, bombers also struck three hotels popular with tourists. At least 207 people were killed and 450 others injured, a police spokesman, Ruwan Gunasekera, said.
Ruwan Wijewardene, the defense minister, said that seven people had been arrested and identified in connection with the attacks. The government also said that suicide bombers had set off the explosions.
“We believe these were coordinated attacks, and one group was behind them,” Mr. Wijewardene said. He urged the news media not to report the names of the attackers or to make them “martyrs.”
World leaders including Pope Francis, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama offered their support after Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka claimed hundreds of lives

24 March
Its Territory May Be Gone, but the U.S. Fight Against ISIS Is Far From Over
By Eric Schmitt, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Helene Cooper and Alissa J. Rubin
(NYT) The fight to expel the Islamic State from its last shard of territory in Syria may be over. But the United States and its partners still face significant battles against the terrorist group, its affiliates and other networks that are less formally aligned with it elsewhere, in Afghanistan, West Africa and the Philippines.
Even before an American-backed Kurdish and Arab militia ousted the last extremist fighters from the eastern Syrian village of Baghuz on Saturday, the Islamic State had shifted gears. The organization that once staked out a self-proclaimed caliphate across Iraq and Syria has now metastasized into a more traditional terrorist group — an atomized, clandestine network of cells engaged in guerrilla attacks, bombings and targeted assassinations.
Thousands of American troops are helping the Afghan Army and security forces combat the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Armed American drones are hunting Islamic State cells in Libya. And American forces are advising and providing intelligence to local troops fighting the Islamic State in Burkina Faso and in the Philippines.
Thousands of Islamic State fighters are also still at large in Iraq and Syria, biding their time to rearm and regroup to strike the same regions again. Many of them slipped out or surrendered when the final wave of civilians fled Baghuz, American commanders and intelligence analysts said.

17 March
The fight to reclaim holy ground from Steve Bannon
Local residents are trying to halt a move to turn an 800-year-old abbey in Italy into an academy for populists.
(Politico) Those opposed to the project say Bannon’s academy would transform a place of peace and hospitality into a stronghold of international populism and anti-European nationalism. “That would be in stark contrast with the spirit of this monastery, which has long been a route of peace for pilgrims and walkers,” said Chiarina Ianni, a 58-year-old lawyer who came to march from Frosinone, a few kilometers away.
See: Italian monastery turns into hotbed of Bannon-fueled nationalism
(Deutsche Welle) To general consternation, educational courses are to be held in a secluded monastery to create a populist political vanguard capable of “launching an assault on Europe.” Megan Williams reports from Collepardo.
Benjamin Harnwell [is] the 43-year-old former British parliamentary assistant and Catholic convert who last year moved into the crumbling Trisulti Charterhouse perched above the town of Collepardo. Harnwell is the Steve Bannon-anointed head of a future “gladiator school for cultural warriors” of the far-right.
Last year, backed by Bannon, Harnwell’s ultra-conservative Institute for Human Dignity (DHI) won a public tender to occupy the monastery for 19 years. … Brought together by conservative Catholicism, hostility to the EU, and support for nationalist movements, the two men enjoy a fulsome, if not exactly equal bromance. Harnwell calls Bannon “one of the great human beings walking on the face of the planet today.” Bannon, who does not speak Italian, gives Harnwell the dubious distinction of being “the smartest guy in Rome.”

16 March
John Cassidy: It’s Time to Confront the Threat of Right-Wing Terrorism
Around the world, we are being confronted with the rise of a murderous and hateful ideology that targets minorities, glorifies violence, and thrives on modern communications technology. The response needs to be commensurate with the threat, which is spreading ominously, and to the most unlikely of places. Even bucolic New Zealand, a place where Silicon Valley billionaires are buying personal retreats in case it all comes down closer to home, couldn’t escape the plague.
(The New Yorker) “Right-wing extremists were linked to at least 50 extremist-related murders in the United States in 2018, making them responsible for more deaths than in any year since 1995,” the Anti-Defamation League noted in January. Even the Trump Administration’s own report, “National Strategy for Counterterrorism,” which was published last year, acknowledged that “domestic terrorism in the United States is on the rise,” and it cited “racially motivated extremism” as one of the causes. Another factor, undoubtedly, is the role that social media plays in cultivating the growth and amplifying the impact of extremist groups.
New Zealand attack exposes how little the U.S. and its allies share intelligence on domestic terrorism threats
(WaPost) The United States and its closest allies have spent nearly two decades building an elaborate system to share intelligence about international terrorist groups, and it has become a key pillar of a global effort to thwart attacks. But there’s no comparable arrangement for sharing intelligence about domestic terrorist organizations, including right-wing extremists like the one suspected in the killing of 50 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, according to current and former national security officials and counterterrorism experts.
The Endgame of White Supremacy Is Always Death
(New York) There exists no degree of policing, no border security measure strong enough, no military action, or immigration restriction tough enough to quell the anxiety of people who see themselves as white when they are convinced that their social precarity is caused by people whom they consider not-white. There is no magic number or silver-bullet policy that can allay their fears. Friday was a predictable outcome of this reality. The endgame of white supremacy will always be deaths of those who aren’t white, because there is no such thing as an acceptable nonwhite presence under white supremacy.
If reports are accurate, Friday’s shooter was deeply preoccupied with the idea that white people were being “replaced” — a preoccupation he shared with the marchers that took Charlottesville, Virginia, by storm in 2017

Christchurch: how quiet city became target for terror
“The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the alt-right around the world, and New Zealand is no exception to that.
“The alt-right in this country has been invigorated over the last few years and part of that has to do with the fact they weren’t under the scrutiny of the security services that the Muslim community was.”

15 March
A Mass Murder of, and for, the Internet
(NYT) New Zealand authorities have identified an accused gunman as Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, but it remains unclear if he acted alone.
The details that have emerged about the Christchurch shooting — at least 49 were killed in an attack on two mosques — are horrifying. But a surprising thing about it is how unmistakably online the violence was, and how aware the shooter on the videostream appears to have been about how his act would be viewed and interpreted by distinct internet subcultures.
In some ways, it felt like a first — an internet-native mass shooting, conceived and produced entirely within the irony-soaked discourse of modern extremism.
The attack was teased on Twitter, announced on the online message board 8chan and broadcast live on Facebook. The footage was then replayed endlessly on YouTube, Twitter and Reddit, as the platforms scrambled to take down the clips nearly as fast as new copies popped up to replace them.
It would be unfair to blame the internet for this. Motives are complex, lives are complicated, and we don’t yet know all the details about the shooting. Anti-Muslim violence is not an online phenomenon, and white nationalist hatred long predates 4Chan and Reddit. But we do know that the design of internet platforms can create and reinforce extremist beliefs
The Shooter’s Manifesto Isn’t in Code
(New York) The Christchurch shooter himself stated that his attack and his writing were in the interest of “further destabilizing and polarizing Western society.” This is the same general MO… of groups like the Internet Research Agency, the Russian-government-backed troll farm. The shooter writes that he is aware the attack will heighten the intense debate over the Second Amendment in the U.S., a target shared by the aforementioned Russian group. The shooter’s plainly stated desire to murder Muslims — due to his (needless to say) erroneous belief that they represent a threat to white people — and to create confusion and further polarization seems like the most important component of his manifesto to pay attention to, rather than whatever social media content he might invoke.
Right-Wing Terrorism Has Gone Global
To counter violence like the New Zealand mosque attacks, we need to target white nationalism in the worldwide war on terror.
(Slate) …  [Anders] Breivik is more than an ideological model—he is also a model for action. His mix of attacks, a car bombing and a shooting spree, combined with posting a long “treatise” to justify his murder offers a template for other white nationalists to follow, just as Columbine offered a model for troubled youths to conduct school shootings.
Boundless racism, zero remorse: A manifesto of hate and 49 dead in New Zealand
(WaPost) The alleged shooter, like many mass murderers in recent years, appears to have studied his predecessors, copying moves that promised either to heighten the death toll or the sensationalism of the slaughter.
Once again, a white supremacist choosing to attack a minority group selected a “soft target,” a house of worship.
Once again, the alleged shooter wore tactical gear, adopting the identity of what academic researchers call a pseudocommando.
Once again, there was a desperate narcissism to the massacre, a cry for attention by someone whose life appeared to be without distinction or social success.

10 March
Opinion: EU immigration policy is grist to the far-right mill
(Deutsche Welle) A final attempt by EU interior ministers to find agreement on a common immigration policy ahead of European parliamentary elections has collapsed. And that is just what some wanted, says DW’s Bernd Riegert.

15 February
Another chance for Nigeria to get counter-terrorism right
After the presidential election, the new administration must learn from past mistakes in countering extremism.
By Akinola Olojo
(ISS) Nigerians will vote for a president on 16 February. Much is anticipated regarding the new leader’s strategy to end the deadly Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s north-east. Whoever is elected cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of previous administrations or ignore lessons learnt since the Boko Haram crisis began 10 years ago.
The new leadership must recognise the distinct threats posed by Boko Haram’s two factions. This is critical for strategic and operational responses. It must also address human rights concerns relating to trials for terrorism-related offences.
A closer look at the setbacks and criticisms facing the military is crucial, as is deeper engagement of the private sector in counter-terrorism. The new leadership must realise the potential role that dialogue can play in complementing the use of force.

14 February
How Global Is The Global War On Terrorism? For The U.S., Very Global.
In the wake of the September 11th attacks, President George W. Bush launched The Global War on Terrorism to bolster U.S. military defense across the globe — starting in Afghanistan.
Nearly two decades later, the counter-terrorism initiative has taken American military forces to 80 countries on six continents. The U.S. and the Taliban are edging toward Afghan peace negotiations, but what about our involvement elsewhere?

21 January
Taliban kills Afghan forces as it resumes truce talks with U.S.
The attack began after a vehicle loaded with explosives rammed into the entrance of a compound in Maidan Shahr — the capital of Wardak province that lies about 30 miles south of the capital Kabul.
At least three gunmen stormed the base following the explosion, igniting a firefight with Afghan security forces. All three gunmen were later killed in the exchange, according to a provincial official. … The attack came a day after a Taliban suicide bomber targeted the convoy of Logar province’s governor, killing at least seven security guards

17 January
At least 21 killed as Kenya hotel siege is declared over
(CNN) Men armed with guns and explosives burst into a hotel complex in Nairobi, killing at least 21 people in an attack that lasted hours and ended Wednesday morning.
Sixteen Kenyans, one Briton, one American and three unidentified people of African origin are among the dead, he said. Twenty-eight others have been hospitalized.
Al-Shabaab claims responsibility
Somali Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was a response to US President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, according to a statement circulated Wednesday.

10 January
Our Lawsuit Against the Trump Administration Revealed How It Lies About Terrorism
By Faiza Patel and Raya Koreh
The President has repeatedly used faulty data to invent national security justifications for flawed policy, including the Muslim Ban … But presidents, with all their power, can’t just make up facts. That’s why last year, the Brennan Center, Protect Democracy and other groups filed a joint petition under the Information Quality Act, which requires all federal agencies to adhere to certain standards of “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity” when providing information to the public.
We argued that the report artificially inflated the threat of foreign-born terrorism, in part by excluding all instances of domestic terrorism from its analysis. The report also cherry-picked eight unrepresentative cases of Muslim men as “illustrative examples” of the 402 foreign-born individuals convicted of international terrorism-related charges.
To support the President’s demand for a border wall, his administration has misrepresented the threat of terrorists crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Both Vice President Mike Pence and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have suggested that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stopped nearly 4,000 terrorists at the border last year. In fact, CBP reported just six “known or suspected terrorists” encountered at the border, while 3,755 were stopped at all ports of entry, mainly airports.

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