Terrorism and Extremism Weekly Summary: 27 February - 5 March

Europe

In France on 28 February, four teenage girls were arrested in Noisiel, Melun, Creil and Mulhouse, on suspicion of communicating with jihadists in Syria and Iraq. A judicial source said the teenagers communicated through the encrypted messaging application Telegram, where they discussed the possibility of preparing violent attacks. The chat group “lionesses”, was administered by French jihadist Rachid Kassim, an Islamic State (IS) recruiter, who was killed in a coalition air strike near Mosul, Iraq on 8 February.

On 28 February, 460 German police raided more than 24 locations across Berlin, Brandenburg and Hamburg with suspected connections to a Berlin mosque frequented by Christmas market truck attacker Anis Amri. The organisation that ran the mosque, Fussilet 33, was banned on 15 February and on 28 February authorities seized its funds and shut down its website. Security services have previously suspected the mosque for collecting donations and recruiting individuals for armed groups in Syria and Iraq, including IS. Several associated with Fussilet 33, both in Germany and abroad, including leading members and imams, were already in prison before the raid on suspicion of supporting terrorist groups.

On 1 and 2 March, German authorities arrested two Syrians in raids on their homes in Dusseldorf and Giessen accused of being members of the Al-Nusra Front, formerly Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria. The men allegedly belong to an Al-Nusra battle unit which also included a Syrian arrested in June 2016 on suspicion of being part of a bomb plot attack in Duesseldorf. One of the men is suspected of war crimes over the killing of 36 Syrian government employees by his unit in March 2013, which according to his statement were “shariah death sentences”.

On 3 March, German anarchist group Verschwörung rachsüchtiger Brandstifter_innen (Conspiracy of Vengeful Arsonists) claimed an arson attack on six vehicles at Anhalter Bahnhof in Berlin belonging to Securitas, a Swedish private security company. The attack was motivated by the company guarding the entrance to the Gerhart Hauptmann school in Kreuzberg occupied by refugees, who the anarchist group says are forced to live a prison-like life.

South Asia

In Lashkar Gah, the capital of Afghanistan’s Helmand province on 28 February, 11 policemen were killed by the Afghani Taliban. A police source said that a Taliban infiltrator allowed insurgents into the police station. The city is a key strategic location in the region and has previously been the scene of multiple attacks and fighting. 12 Policemen also died in separate Taliban attack after an hour-long gun battle on 28 February in Marjah district in Helmand.

On 1 March, the Afghani Taliban claimed two suicide bomb attacks in Kabul killing 23 people and injuring 120 others. The first bomb targeted a police precinct next to a military training facility, which was followed by a five-hour gun battle between officers and the Taliban. The second suicide bomb occurred minutes later, targeting Afghanistan’s intelligence agency and another attacker was killed trying to enter the compound.

About author: Ashleigh Templeton

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