Terrorism and extremism weekly summary 15-21 January

Europe

The French police arrested three relatives of jihadist Rachid Kassim on 15 and 16 January in Roanne at the Dijon suburbs, namely his 17-year-old brother and two cousins aged 25 and 30. Their relationship with Rachid is now under investigation, as well as their possible contribution to terrorist activities organised by him. Rachid Kassim was one of the most dangerous authors of IS propaganda in France and was responsible for inciting the killing of a priest in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray last June and of a French policeman and his girlfriend in July 2016. Kassim was killed in a coalition strike in Iraq last February.

On Tuesday 16 January, task force units of the German police conducted a series of raids on apartments of 10 alleged members of the Iranian Quds Force who were supposedly carrying out espionage operations against local Israeli communities in Berlin, Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria. According to the police spokesperson, no arrests took place so far but the people being monitored are very dangerous. The Quds Force are a part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and aside from intelligence operations they also carry out targeted killings abroad. They also allegedly support radical movements such as Hamas or Hezbollah. 

A 30-year-old man, allegedly a foreign radical Islamist fighter, was arrested on Monday 15 January at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport when, according to the police information, he and a 33-year-old woman were returning from the conflict areas in Iraq and Syria. The man and the woman arrived in the Netherlands separately, the woman arrived on Friday 12 January. However, both of them have returned accompanied by security services after being discovered in Turkey thanks to an international arrest warrant. 

On Wednesday 17 January, the anti-terrorism unit of the British Metropolitan police arrested a 40-year-old man suspected of involvement in terrorism financing in Norwich, eastern England. In connection with this arrest, the police conducted raids on three location in the city. The man was later released on bail but the investigation into his activities is still ongoing. 

Unknown perpetrators attacked the Ukrainian embassy in Athens, Greece, with incendiary bottle bombs on Saturday 20 January. According to some information, three cars parked near the embassy have also been set aflame. No one was injured in the incident and, according to investigators, pro-Russian extremist groups are the main suspects. Ukrainian embassies in other countries adopted increased security measures after the attack.

Middle East and South Asia

A 12-hour siege of the Intercontinental hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, claimed at least 40 deaths and dozens of injuries after at least five attackers in army uniforms armed with automatic weapons infiltrated the building and fortified themselves in on Saturday 20 January. The hotel is one of the most guarded in the city as local government representatives and members of foreign delegations often meet there. Over 150 people were evacuated, including 41 foreigners. The attackers took several people hostage and their spree was only cut short by the Afghan special forces. Allegedly, foreign troops deployed in the Resolute Support mission also assisted at the scene. The Taliban movement has claimed responsibility for the attack shortly after. 

Two suicide bombing attack resulted in at least 39 people being killed and some 90 more injured in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday 15 January. The existing data on the number of victims differs. The attackers detonated their bombs at a square in the commercial section of the city, in an area where crowds of people interested in getting a day-to-day job usually meet. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far but local authorities suspect the IS as the Iraqi government announced its defeat last December.

About author: Redakce ESJ

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