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According to Report, Ethical and Racial Terrorism is on a High Rise Around the Globe

World saw a rise in racially or ethnically motivated terrorism

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Terrorism
Many European countries also saw a rise in racially, ethnically, ideologically or politically motivated Terrorism. Pixabay

Citing a rise in ethnic and racial Terrorism in many parts of the world, the State Department is mobilizing U.S. partners to combat white supremacist and other extremist groups.

Nathan Sales, the State Department’s counterterrorism coordinator, said Friday the “world saw a rise in racially or ethnically motivated terrorism” in 2018, calling the development a “disturbing trend.”

“Our role is mobilizing international partners to confront the international dimensions of this threat,” Sales said at the launch of the State Department’s 2018 Country Report on Terrorism.

Sponsors of terrorism

The report called Iran “the world’s worst sponsor of terrorism,” saying the Iranian regime, through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, spends nearly $1 billion a year to support terrorist groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah.

“Many European countries also saw a rise in racially, ethnically, ideologically or politically motivated terrorist activity and plotting, including against religious and other minorities,” the report said.

For example, the report noted an estimated 2,000 “Islamist extremists” and 1,000 “white supremacist and leftist violent extremists” in Sweden. A 2018 assessment by the Swedish Security Services called the extremists’ presence a “new normal.”

Terrorism
The report called Iran “the world’s worst sponsor of Terrorism,” saying the Iranian regime, through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, spends nearly $1 billion a year to support terrorist groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah. Pixabay

Cross-border links

 

Echoing recent assessments by the FBI and other security officials, Sales said that white supremacists and other extremists increasingly communicate with like-minded cohorts across international borders.

“We know that they are, in a sense, learning from their jihadist predecessors, in terms of their ability to raise money and move money, in terms of their ability to radicalize and recruit,” Sales said.

U.S. law enforcement officials are increasingly concerned about such cross-border links between extremists. In some cases, right-wing extremists have traveled to Ukraine to fight on either side of the five-year conflict in the east of the Country.

The links between U.S. extremist groups and their foreign counterparts appear to be more ideological than operational. But what worries the FBI is the inspiration white supremacists can draw from violent groups overseas, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday.

“I think you’re onto a trend that we’re watching very carefully,” Wray said.

“We have seen some connection between U.S.-based neo-Nazis and overseas analogues,” he said. “Probably a more prevalent phenomenon that we see right now is racially motivated violent extremists here who are inspired by what they see overseas.”

The rise of violent groups on the right has started a debate among policymakers over whether some outfits should be designated as terrorist organizations.

Terrorism
Citing a rise in ethnic and racial Terrorism in many parts of the world, the State Department is mobilizing U.S. partners to combat white supremacist and other extremist groups. Pixabay

No domestic terrorism penalty

The problem is that while “material support” for international terrorism is a chargeable offense, there are no penalties for domestic terrorism.

One proposed solution is to pass a law that would allow prosecutors to bring domestic terrorism charges against defendants. Another is to add overseas white supremacist groups to the State Department’s list of designated foreign terrorist organizations.

Sales deferred a question about terrorism designations to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

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Asked whether a proposed law on “domestic terrorism” will help the FBI, Wray said, “Certainly we can always use more tools. Our folks at the FBI, just like (federal prosecutors), work with [the motto] ‘Don’t Give Up,’ and so they find workarounds.” (VOA)

Next Story

Here’s Everything you Need to Know About the Increasing Islamic State Terror Activity in Syria

Surge of IS Violence and Terrorism Seen in Syria

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Smoke Syria
Smoke rises while people gather at a damaged site after two bomb blasts claimed by Islamic State hit the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli near the Turkish border, Syria. VOA

By Sirwan Kajjo

Islamic State militants have increased their terror activity in recent weeks in Syria, carrying out deadly attacks against Syrian regime troops and U.S.-backed forces.

Since early December, the terror group has conducted at least three major attacks on Syrian government forces and their allied militias in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, local sources said.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor that has reporters across the country, recent attacks claimed by IS against Syrian military forces have killed at least 30 soldiers and wounded more than 50 others.

Last week, at least three fighters with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces were killed in what local military officials described as a suicide attack carried out by IS militants in the province of Raqqa, IS’s former de facto capital before it was freed in 2017 by the SDF and its U.S.-led allies.

Islamic State Syria
Islamic State militants clean their weapons in Deir el-Zour city, Syria. VOA

‘Threat to our forces’ 

IS “terrorists still pose a threat to our forces, especially in the eastern part of Syria,” an SDF commander told VOA.

“They have been able to regroup and reorganize in some remote parts of Deir el-Zour, where there is a smaller presence of our forces or any other forces,” said the commander, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to journalists.

He added that despite the declaration of the physical defeat of the terror group in March 2019, IS “still has hundreds of sleeper cells that have the capability to wage deadly attacks on civilians and combatants alike.”

In the town of Tabqa, in western Raqqa, local news reports this week said a suspected IS sleeper cell assaulted a family, killing three of its members, including a child. The reports did not say why the family was attacked, but IS has in the past targeted people whom it suspected of having ties to or working for the government or U.S.-backed local forces.

While most of the recent activity has been in areas IS once controlled as part of its so-called caliphate, the militant group has been particularly active in Syria’s vast desert region.

The Syrian Observatory reported at least 10 IS-claimed attacks in December that originated from the mostly desert eastern part of Homs province in central Syria.

Baghdadi’s death

Islamic State Syria
The Islamic State group’s leader extolled militants in Sri Lanka for “striking the homes of the crusaders in their Easter, in vengeance for their brothers in Baghouz,” a reference to IS’ last bastion in eastern Syria, which was captured by U.S.-backed fighters. VOA

Despite the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in October in a U.S. operation in northwestern Syria, IS still represents a major threat in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, experts say.

“As ISIS returns to its original decentralized structure, members of the group are trying to show ISIS still poses a threat, even after the defeat of its caliphate and the recent death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” said Kaleigh Thomas, a Middle East researcher at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, using another acronym for IS.

Sadradeen Kinno, a Syrian researcher who closely follows Islamist militancy, echoed Thomas’ views.

“IS is now living a period of stability, so to speak. After the death of Baghdadi, their objective is clearer now. They try to stay focused on carrying out assassinations, ambushes and suicide attacks, and they have been successful at that,” he told VOA.

Kinno said IS “really believes in a recurrent cycle of violence, so for them the territorial defeat they experienced this year is just a phase of their ongoing jihad.”

US withdrawal 

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A convoy of U.S. vehicles is seen after withdrawing from northern Syria, on the outskirts of Dohuk, Iraq. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump in October announced a withdrawal of troops from Syria, which was followed by a Turkish military offensive against U.S.-backed SDF fighters in northeast Syria.

Some experts say the U.S. troop pullout allowed IS to regroup, and thus its terror attacks have increased.

“The U.S. decision sent a signal to [IS] that the U.S. is not interested in a long-term presence in Syria,” said Azad Othman, a Syrian affairs analyst based in Irbil, Iraq.

IS “now feels that its low-level insurgency in Syria could be even more effective as long as the Americans don’t have a significant military presence in the country,” he told VOA.

The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency said in a report in November that “ISIS has exploited the Turkish incursion and subsequent drawdown of U.S. troops from northeastern Syria to reconstitute its capabilities and resources both within Syria in the short term and globally in the longer term.”

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“The withdrawal and redeployment of U.S. troops has also affected the fight against ISIS, which remains a threat in the region and globally,” Glenn Fine, the principal deputy inspector general, said in the report.

But the U.S. has decided to keep about 500 troops to secure oil fields in Syria to prevent IS militants and the Syrian regime forces from accessing them. (VOA)