Eye on Extremism: April 10, 2019

The Washington Post: After Admiring Islamic State Fighters, Maryland Man Decided To Emulate Them, Prosecutors Assert

“After two years of admiring and studying the Islamic State fighters who beheaded and attacked civilians abroad, the government asserts, Rondell Henry decided it was time to join the ranks of the terrorists he considered “brave.” The Maryland man started spending more time with his family, thinking he would never see them again, prosecutors said. He told his landlord March 24 that he was breaking his lease, and two days later, he walked off his job in the middle of a shift, the government said. Henry turned away from the life he had spent building for himself in the United States over a decade with the intention of “killing as many disbelievers as possible” in a suicide attack, prosecutors said. But the plot he’s accused of was quickly uncovered. Federal and local law enforcement in Maryland said what started out as investigations into a missing person — Henry — and a stolen U-Haul van turned out to be the thwarting of a terrorist attack targeting families and civilians at a major international airport and a busy waterfront entertainment destination outside of Washington. A federal magistrate judge on Tuesday ordered Henry, 28, of Germantown to remain in jail pending trial in what the government called an Islamic State-inspired plot.”

Reuters: Bomb Kills Eight In Syrian City Of Raqqa

“A bomb attack in the Syrian city of Raqqa killed at least eight people on Tuesday, including four fighters of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, a security source in northern Syria said .  The blast also killed four civilians and wounded three members of the Kurdish-led internal security forces known as the Asayish, the source said.  Witnesses said people including SDF members gathered at the scene after an initial blast, which was followed by a bigger explosion that caused the casualties.  “I heard the sound of a big explosion and people were rushing and I saw people blown up with body parts,” an injured witness who was rushed to hospital told Reuters.  Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said the group’s militants entrapped Kurdish security forces by detonating a sound explosive device on a main street and after people congregated they detonated a car that was parked near by.  Footage on social media showed rescuers taking mangled and burnt bodies and wounded people to ambulances in the city center near the headquarters of the security forces where the blast took place, amid flames from a burning vehicle.”

Al Monitor: Will Al-Qaeda Capitalize On IS Losses At Iraqi-Syrian Border?

“The Islamic State (IS) might have lost all its territory in Iraq and Syria, but its ideology has not been defeated. Al-Qaeda may be able to exploit this situation and stage a comeback, taking advantage of its local roots along the Iraqi-Syrian border. Though al-Qaeda and IS have fought each other across the border in Deir ez-Zor, most Iraqis use the two terms interchangeably, since the local branch, al-Qaeda in Iraq, eventually morphed into what is now known as IS. In Syria, many acknowledge that there is scant difference between the two groups when it comes to ideology and oppressive methods. Yet many see al-Qaeda-linked groups as more locally rooted. Various opposition groups have even allied with them at times in an attempt to bring down the Syrian regime. Qaim's Col. Moussa Hamad al-Karbouly, however, summed up the difference as follows. IS "used religion for military ends, while al-Qaeda used military means for religious ends," making it more amenable to those disillusioned with IS. Karbouly is a former police officer and head of the Aaly al-Furat Brigade, which is part of the local Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in western Anbar. Al-Monitor has interviewed him several times before, including after the liberation of his city, and most recently on April 3 in Qaim.”

The New York Times: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards: The Supreme Leader’s Military-Industrial Complex

“President Trump’s declaration that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a foreign terrorist organization is the first time the United States government has designated a part of another country’s military as that type of threat. In doing so, Mr. Trump took broad aim at a pillar of the Iranian state, which exerts enormous influence in politics and the economy as well as in Iran’s internal and external military policies. Mr. Trump said the Revolutionary Guard Corps “actively participates in, finances and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.” The Iranian government has used the Guard Corps internationally to create, train, arm and sometimes plot strategy for paramilitary forces and nonstate actors in other countries. Iran’s adversaries have accused elite Guard Corps units of having plotted and sometimes carried out assassinations in foreign countries.”

Daily Beast: Facebook Tells Congress New Zealand Shooting Video Wasn’t ‘Gruesome’ Enough To Flag

“When a Facebook official tried to help members of Congress understand the company’s struggle to get the horrific New Zealand shooter video off of the social network, it didn’t go over too well. On March 27, representatives from four social media companies gathered with members and staff of the House Homeland Security Committee for a briefing. The focus: how the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism—an industry group composed of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Microsoft—had responded to the New Zealand shooting. The shooter killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and live-streamed the massacre; the livestream stayed online for an hour, until New Zealand law enforcement asked the company to take it down. Users successfully re-uploaded the video of the murders onto Facebook hundreds of thousands of times.”

The Washington Post: A Flood Online Of Hate Speech Greets Lawmakers Probing Facebook And Google About White Nationalism

“A tense congressional hearing to explore the spread of white nationalism on social media quickly served to illustrate the problem Silicon Valley faces after anonymous users on YouTube began posting vitriolic attacks that targeted others on the basis of race and religion. The hearing — held by the House Judiciary Committee — was streamed live on the video site owned by Google, which testified Tuesday. Alongside the stream, a live chat featured posts from users, some of whom published anti-Semitic screeds and argued that white nationalism is not a form of racism. "These Jews want to destroy all white nations," wrote the user Celtic Pride. “Anti-hate is a code word for anti-white,” wrote another named Fight White Genocide. Appearing before the committee, Alexandria Walden, the counsel for free expression and human rights at Google, stressed the tech giant has invested in people and technology to remove content that incites violent or spreads hate. “We know the very platforms that have enabled these societal benefits can be abused,” she said.”

United States

Associated Press: Judge: Militant’s Statements May Be Used In Benghazi Trial

“The interrogation of a Libyan militant accused of playing an instrumental role in the 2012 Benghazi attacks was conducted lawfully and may be admitted at his trial next month, a federal judge has ruled. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper on Monday rejected defense attorneys’ claims that the militant, Mustafa al-Imam, had been suffering from mental trauma and seasickness when he agreed to speak with American officials aboard a U.S. Navy vessel days after his 2017 abduction in Libya. In a separate ruling, Cooper recently refused to dismiss murder and terrorism charges against al-Imam, clearing the way for him to stand trial May 6 in Washington. The fiery assaults on the U.S. compounds in Benghazi killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador, and prompted a multiyear political fracas in which Republicans accused the Obama administration of a bungled response.”

Al Arabiya: Turkey, Qatar Condemn US Move Against Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

“Turkey and Qatar on Tuesday condemned the US's move to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, saying the decision would create “instability” in the region. Washington’s move against the Revolutionary Guards was the first time that the United States has branded part of a foreign government a terrorist group. “These kinds of decisions will pave the way for instability in our region,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara. The decision against the “official army of Iran... was incomprehensible,” he said. He also criticized previous “one-sided” American sanctions against Iran and “pressure” on other countries by Washington to adhere to them. Cavusoglu was addressing a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani.”

The Washington Examiner: ISIS Seeks To Inspire Domestic Terrorism In America — And Sometimes Succeeds

“The Middle East Media Research Institute is an organization that scours the Internet and other forums for terrorist propaganda, and in recent weeks it has turned up many posters and videos that seek to incite violence against America and other Western countries. Last week, for example, MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor reported that Al-Battar, a pro-ISIS media group, released a video calling on Muslims living in the West to take advantage of the various demonstrations in different Western countries to carry out attacks against the “unbelievers.”  The video called on Western Muslims to “Fight in the cause of Allah and commit yourself to renew your good intent to Allah and choose for your battle what is available from among the equipment and weapons,” according to the group’s translation of the video. Just yesterday, we learned that a 28-year-old Maryland man, apparently inspired by ISIS, has been charged with plotting to drive a stolen truck through a crowd of people enjoying the warm springtime temperatures at National Harbor, a popular shopping and gambling venue outside Washington, D.C.”

Syria

Fox News: The Aftermath Of Syria’s Chemical Weapons Attacks

“One year ago, a chemical attack allegedly carried out by the Syrian government on the embattled nation’s Douma district left at least 43 people dead. Two years ago, more than 100 – mostly women and children – perished in another apparently government-helmed chemical onslaught in Idlib’s Khan Sheikhoun district. On both occasions, President Trump ordered retaliatory missile attacks to take out the regime’s remaining stockpiles as haunting images filled the internet of babies foaming at the mouth, and tiny children choking as their moms and dads wailed as their eyes burned and burned. That was just the tip of the mounting rubble pile as Syria’s eight-year war inches closer to its swansong. Nonetheless, President Bashar al-Assad looks set to take back Syria, undeterred or impacted by the rash of chemical violations of civilians. “There will probably be no further accountability of Syria for its past chemical attacks beyond the damage done after the U.S. missile attacks,” Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Senior Science Fellow, John Gilbert, told Fox News. “Russia is a major sponsor of the Assad government and a Russian national provided nerve agent technology and possibly critical precursor chemicals to Syria.”

The Washington Examiner: Pentagon Nears Extension Of 'Defeat ISIS' Coalition As Trump Weighs Syria Withdrawal

“The Islamic State’s physical caliphate is now in ruins, but the Trump administration is talking about keeping the broad international coalition in place to counter the terrorist group’s efforts to reorganize and reform in emerging hot spots around the globe, a top Pentagon official said in an interview. U.S. military officials are trying to lock in commitments from counterparts from all 79 coalition members to continue the group’s work in places such as Southeast Asia, and State Department diplomats are working with their foreign ministry counterparts to firm up a more structured alliance, Kathryn Wheelbarger, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said in an exclusive interview with The Washington Times. U.S. and coalition officials anticipate finalizing an agreement to extend the “Defeat ISIS” mission during the NATO ministerial meeting set for June. Keeping the international alliance intact “maintains the stability and strength of the coalition as the fight transitions” from the conventional war in Iraq and Syria to an underground fight against rising Islamic State cells around the globe, Ms. Wheelbarger said. “We expect the threat to evolve, [and] the importance of the coalition is our priority.”

Iran

BBC: Standard Chartered To Pay $1bn For Breaching Iran Sanctions

“Standard Chartered bank is being fined $1.1bn (£843m) for violating US sanctions against Iran and over inadequate financial crime controls. The penalties, imposed in connection with a range of different investigations in the US and the UK, all date back to before 2014. The London-based banking firm set aside $900m in February in preparation for the settlements. Standard Chartered has also undertaken to improve its compliance procedures. The bulk of the settlement, $639m, relates to breaches of US sanctions against Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. The bank will also pay £102m to Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA found "serious and sustained shortcomings" in Standard Chartered's anti-money laundering controls.”

BBC News: Revolutionary Guard Corps: Iran Hits Back At US Terrorist Claim

“Iran's leaders have responded angrily to US President Donald Trump's designation of its elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation. It is the first time the US has labelled another nation's military in this way. President Hassan Rouhani said the US was the “leader of world terrorism”. Washington-Tehran tensions have risen since Mr Trump withdrew the US from the international Iran nuclear pact. Iran's government took retaliatory action against the US move by naming US Central Command (Centcom) as a terrorist organisation and the US government as a sponsor of terror. Centcom is the Pentagon wing that oversees Washington's security interests across the central area of the world map, most notably Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Syria. President Rouhani condemned the US move in a speech broadcast live on state television. “Who are you to label revolutionary institutions as terrorists?” he asked. “You are the leader of world terrorism.” “This mistake will unite Iranians and the Guards will grow more popular in Iran and in the region. “America has used terrorists as a tool in the region while the Guards have fought against them from Iraq to Syria.”

Fox News: Iran Hits Back At US By Designating CENTCOM 'Terrorist' Group: Report

“The U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, was labeled a terrorist group on Monday by Iran's Supreme National Security Council, according to state television. The council said in a statement, reported by Fars News Agency, that it had designated the Middle East-based military group and all of its forces as terrorists and also labeled the U.S. a "supporter of terrorism." The move came hours after the Trump administration labeled Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization. It's the first time the U.S. has designated an entity of another government a terrorist organization, placing a group with vast economic resources that answer only to Iran's supreme leader in the same category as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. President Trump on Monday said it was an "unprecedented step" that "recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a state sponsor of terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: Iraqi Troops Kill Four Islamic State Militants In Anbar Province

“Four Islamic State terrorists were killed Tuesday during a security operation in the Iraqi province of Anbar, said Ahmed al-Mahallawi, the mayor of the border town of al-Qaim. “Security forces, backed by a force of the Tribal Mobilization Forces, spotted an armored vehicle carrying four Islamic State terrorists at a desert area between al-Qaim and Haditha districts in western Anbar,” al-Mahallawi told Iraqi website Almaalomah. “The troops immediately opened fire at the vehicle, killing the four terrorists,” he added, noting that the security operation was launched based on accurate intelligence data. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq.”

Kurdistan 24: Iraqi Military Kill Suicide Bomber, Arrest Member Of ISIS 'Police' In Anbar

“Iraq’s military intelligence on Tuesday announced the killing of a suicide bomber after he was besieged in a western area of the country. The military operation took place in Ghaida valley in al-Sakra district of Anbar province. The operation was conducted “based on accurate intelligence,” the Military Intelligence Directorate said in a statement. “The suicide bomber was wearing an explosive belt,” it added. The Directorate also mentioned that the person was responsible for planting roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices in the district to target innocent people. The statement did not explicitly mention whether the person was involved in a particular terror group, but he is likely a member of the so-called Islamic State who continue to remain active in the province. In a separate statement on Tuesday, the directorate announced the arrest of a member of the Islamic State’s al-Hasba (Police) in the city of Hit in the same western Iraqi province.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Airstrike Kills Seven ISIS Terrorists South of Kirkuk, Iraq

“Iraqi police announced on Monday that seven ISIS terrorists were killed in an airstrike staged by the US-led international coalition south of Kirkuk, some 250 km north of Baghdad. International coalition drones targeted the Al-Shay region in the south Kirkuk district of Daquq, an assault that resulted in the death of seven ISIS terrorists, Iraqi police sources told THE German news agency DPA. Sources clarified that the ISIS elements killed have carried out numerous terror attacks against civilians and local security officers. They were tracked back to their hideout and then attacked by a drone, sources added. On par, Iraqi security men neutralized another two ISIS terrorists west of Anbar province. “A unit from the 7th Anbar Emergency Regiment have killed two suicide attackers before they managed arriving to their target,” a security spokesman told the press on Tuesday.  The two assailants, according to the spokesman, were targeting a security checkpoint situated in the valley of Ghaida near the village of Saqra, some 30 km west of Anbar’s western city of Haditha.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Dozens Of Afghan Forces And Taliban Killed As Violence Spikes Ahead Of Talks

“Dozens of Afghan forces and Taliban fighters were killed in overnight fighting across Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, as violence intensified ahead of another round of peace efforts to end the 18-year-old war. The worst of the attacks were in Kandahar Province, where the Taliban targeted an Afghan border post late Monday, killing at least four service members, according to local officials. Kasim Azad, the secretary of Kandahar’s police chief, confirmed the attack and said four members of the border forces were killed. But other officials put the death toll as high as 18 and said that at least eight other people were unaccounted for, possibly taken by the Taliban. Mr. Azad said 17 Taliban fighters had also been killed. The Taliban claimed to have overrun the border post, but the Afghan defense ministry said all of the attacked border posts remained under government control. The violence comes a day after three American soldiers were killednear Bagram Air Base outside Kabul. Although Defense Department officials initially said that a contractor had also been killed in the attack, on Tuesday they revised their account to say that the contractor had only been wounded.”

The Wall Street Journal: Three Americans Killed in Taliban Blast Were Marines, Officials Say

“The three U.S. servicemembers killed Monday in a Taliban attack in Afghanistan were members of the Marine Corps, U.S. military officials said. Officials also said Tuesday that a civilian contractor believed killed in the attack had been found alive. The contractor is an Afghan civilian, officials said. Officials haven’t identified those killed or injured in the attack, which occurred when a vehicle bearing explosives detonated outside Bagram Air Field in eastern Afghanistan, near a convoy carrying the Americans and others. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. “We feel and mourn the loss of these Americans with their families and loved ones,” Gen. Scott Miller, head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement. “They volunteered to protect their country. We will continue our mission.” The attack occurred as U.S. officials and representatives of the Taliban attempt to hold peace talks. The two sides concluded a fifth round of talks in Qatar last month and are expected to convene for further deliberations perhaps as soon as this week. The U.S. has roughly 14,000 military personnel in Afghanistan. The Trump administration is considering removing about half of those troops this year, but it remains unclear if those plans are still moving forward, officials said.”

Pakistan

Reuters: Pakistan PM Khan Says Anti-Militant Push Vital For Stability

“Pakistan’s push to curb armed militant groups in the wake of a standoff with India that brought the nuclear-armed neighbors close to war reflected an urgent need for stability to meet growing economic challenges, Prime Minister Imran Khan said.  Facing a financial crisis and heavy pressure to take on militant groups to avoid sanctions from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money laundering and terror finance watchdog, Khan said Pakistan was acting in its own interests.  “Everyone now knows that what is happening in Pakistan has never happened (before),” Khan told a group of foreign journalists at his office in Islamabad on Tuesday, outlining a push to bring the more than 30,000 madrasas across Pakistan under government control and rehabilitate thousands of former militants. “We have decided, this country has decided, for the future of the country - forget outside pressure - we will not allow armed militias to operate,” he said. The comments underline a push by Pakistan to improve its image after years of accusations that its security services have exploited militant groups as proxies against neighbors, including India and Afghanistan.”

India

The Washington Examiner: India's Latest Terrorist Attack Proves The Durability Of Communist Fanaticism

“It's easy to deride communism as a morally bankrupt ideology that naturally leads to despotism and human suffering. It's easy, because it's easily provable. Still, communism retains durable support in certain parts of the world, and its adherents, as ever, tend to be violent fanatics. In India, communism is inherently tied to violent extremism, such as that of the Naxalite Maoist guerrillas of eastern India. On Tuesday, these terrorists attacked and killed a member of the ruling BJP party and four members of his security detail. With national elections starting later this week, more attacks may yet be planned. But this latest atrocity is one of many Maoist attacks over the past twenty years. And while much of the world's attention on terrorism in India is centered on Pakistani-originating threats, the Naxalites have killed many more Indian citizens. But how have they survived against overwhelming Indian security force pressure, with the odds stacked against them? The Maoists are motivated by the ingredients that inspired Mao Zedong's revolutionaries in the 1927-1949 period. Namely, hatred for capitalism and individual freedom, and dedication to the purity of the collective. The purity, that is, of central organizations of peasant classes in dictating the lives of others.”

Yemen

The National: Yemen: Houthis Fired Ballistic Missile At Populated Area In Northern Dhalea

“Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile at a populated area near Dhalea in southern Yemen on Tuesday evening. The rocket missed its target and fell over a farm in the Sanaa area, north of the province of Dhalea, and caused significant damage. No casualties were reported. There has been fierce clashes in northern Dhalea over the past two weeks between the Iran-backed Houthis and pro-government forces, with fighting taking place on four fronts. On Tuesday, pro-government forces took control of key sites held by the Houthis in Mureis, with about 40 rebels killed in the fighting. Four soldiers with the pro-government force were also killed. The National visited the liberated sites, which included the strategic Shaddad Fort, and the villages of Sawlan and Kahra. Shaddad Fort is a strategic garrison and liberating it allows pro-government forces to launch attacks on the Houthis that still control the nearby Nasah mountain.”

Middle East

Inquirer: ISIS Rears Its Ugly Head In The Islands

“Now that the Syrian city of Raqqa, once the capital of the self-proclaimed caliphate of the extremist group ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), has been liberated, its most fanatical adherents have moved to other continents, other countries. Peninsular Southeast Asia has emerged as one such location where this backward ideology of sectarian hatred and violent fanaticism, with only the most tenuous connection with Islam, has set down roots. In the southern part of the Philippines there is no doubt that ISIS has managed to secure a foothold. This past January, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo was rocked by two bombs, resulting in at least 20 deaths among the Catholic faithful who had come to attend Sunday Mass. The city of Jolo, capital of Jolo Island, has been the front and center of various Muslim insurgencies that have bedeviled Mindanao—and the country—since the 1970s, in attempts first, to secede from the republic, and, failing that, to gain autonomy, which it now has to a certain extent.”

Egypt

The Washington Post: Suicide Attack Kills 4 Police, 3 Civilians In Egypt’s Sinai

“Four Egyptian policemen and three civilians, including a child, were killed on Tuesday in a suicide bombing in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said. The ministry said in a statement that the bomber attacked police forces who were inspecting a market in the town of Sheikh Zuweid, wounding another 26 people. It said two officers and a six-year-old child were among those killed. A local affiliate of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. Egypt has battled Islamic militants for years in the Sinai Peninsula in an insurgency that has occasionally spilled over to the mainland, striking minority Christians and tourists. The militants grew deadlier and their attacks more frequent after the military’s 2013 ouster of an elected but divisive Islamist president. However, an all-out campaign by the military since early 2018 has brought high-profile attacks by the militants to a halt.”

Libya

Fox News: Suspected IS Militants Attack Central Libyan Town, Kill 3

“A lawmaker says suspected Islamic State militants attacked a small town in central Libya, killing at least three people, including the mayor. Ismail al-Sharif said on Tuesday the attack happened overnight. He says the militants torched several houses in the town of al-Fuqaha, south of the coastal city of Sirte, a former IS bastion. IS had also attacked the town in October. Resident Rabie al-Zidani says the mayor and two other security officials were beheaded in al-Fuqaha.The attack comes as rival Libyan forces are fighting for control of the country's capital, Tripoli, where the death toll from days of fighting has risen to 51, including both combatants and civilians. Libya plunged into chaos after the 2011 uprising and is governed by rival administrations, based in country's east and west.”

Time: Libya Is On The Brink Of Civil War And A U.S. Citizen Is Responsible. Here's What To Know

“Dozens of people have been reported killed and scores more injured in clashes on the edge of Libya’s coastal capital Tripoli after warlord Khalifa Haftar ordered his troops to take the city from the U.N.-backed government April 4. The offensive by the military chief Haftar, who has U.S. citizenship, has pushed Libya to the brink of civil war. The Tripoli based-government announced on April 7 it was launching a counter-offensive it called Operation Volcano of Anger. On April 8, an airstrike the U.N. blamed on Haftar’s self-styled National Libyan Army (NLA) shut down Tripoli’s only functioning airport. The Health Ministry of the Tripoli-based government said at least 27 people, including civilians, have been killed since the offensive began. The media office of Hafter’s army said 22 of their troops had been killed in the same period. The U.N. has called in vain for a truce and international powers have evacuated their personnel.”

Reuters: Suffering Grows From Libya Conflict, Militants Exploit Chaos

“Casualties from the battle for Libya's capital mounted on Tuesday while Islamic State killed three people in a desert town, illustrating how jihadists may exploit renewed chaos. Medical facilities reported 47 people killed and 181 wounded in recent days as eastern forces seek to take Tripoli from an internationally-recognised government, the World Health Organisation said. The fatalities were mainly fighters, although they also comprised nine civilians including two doctors, the WHO said. The eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces of Khalifa Haftar - a former general in ousted strongman Muammar Gaddafi's army - seized the sparsely populated but oil-rich south earlier this year before heading toward Tripoli this month. They are fighting on the southern side of the city, where witnesses said on Monday afternoon the LNA had lost control of a former airport and withdrawn down the road. The government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, who has run Tripoli since 2016 as part of a U.N.-brokered deal that Haftar boycotted, is seeking to repel the LNA with the help of armed groups from Misrata. Serraj's forces carried out an air strike on an LNA position in the suburb of Suq al-Khamis on Tuesday, a resident and an eastern military source said, without giving more details.”

Nigeria

Voice Of America: Nigeria: 2,000 Flee Village As Army Prepare Boko Haram Offensive

“Some 2,000 people have been forced to flee to the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri ahead of a major offensive against Boko Haram, emergency services and residents told AFP on Tuesday. Nigerian troops herded residents of Jakana village into trucks and ferried them 40 kilometers (25 miles) to a displacement camp in the Borno State capital, said a National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman. Evacuated residents were taken to “Bakassi IDP [internally displaced persons] Camp by the military for their safety as a result of ongoing operations to flush out insurgents in the area,” said Abdulkadir Ibrahim. Camp officials were “mobilizing resources” to care for their basic needs, he added. The residents of Jakana said they were given no notice. Modu Kaka said: “The soldiers came this morning and told us to assemble and began herding us into trucks. “We left all our possessions in Jakana and we are now dependent on food aid.” Bakassi is one of several camps in the city housing thousands of displaced people, who live in squalid shelters and rely on food handouts from aid agencies.”

Daily Post: We Have Rescued Nigeria From Boko Haram – Buhari Boasts In Abu Dhabi

“President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday in Dubai, stated that his government has succeeded in rescuing Nigeria from Boko Haram insurgents. He spoke at a town hall meeting with members of the Nigerian Community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Buhari, who also pledged more government investments in research, technology as well educational institutions, promised that the prudent economic management, diversification of production and revenue bases of the administration in the last four years will be sustained. “The Next Level is to consolidate whatever we have done till 2023 and it makes common sense that in order to manage any outfit, whether a nation, state or organisation, you have to secure it. “We all know how many local governments Boko Haram were occupying. People from the North-east know that they are not holding any local government today.”

United Kingdom

Daily Sabah: British Man Admits Planning Terrorist Attack On Mosque, Prosecutors Accept Plea Of Lesser Charge

“U.K. man admitted to planning a terrorist attack on a mosque in southern London, but prosecutors accepted his plea to the lesser charge of possession of an explosive substance with intent to endanger life or property, the BBC reported. The 41-year-old man identified as Steven Bishop admitted that he bought fireworks and learned how to make an explosive with the aim to carry out a bomb attack on Morden Mosque in October last year, the report said. Kensington Crown Court is expected to announce the sentencing on Wednesday. Bishop had originally been charged with preparing an act of terrorism, but prosecutors accepted his plea to a charge of possession of an explosive substance with intent to endanger life or property. He reportedly told police that he wanted to take revenge for his 8-year-old daughter Saffie Roussos, who died in the Manchester terrorist attack targeting singer Ariana Grande's concert in 2017. A number of psychiatric reports had been prepared ahead of his trial, claiming that the man has a history of mental health problems, an excuse often used to whitewash terrorist acts by non-Muslim perpetrators. Last month, Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant shot dead 50 Muslims attending weekly Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand.”

Germany

The New York Times: German Woman Goes On Trial In Death Of 5-Year-Old Girl Held As ISIS Slave

“Devoted followers of the Islamic State, a man and woman bought a 5-year-old Yazidi girl in Iraq to use as a slave, then let her die of thirst in the scorching heat, the German authorities contend in the trial of the woman, which began on Tuesday — one of the highest-profile cases against a female member of the terrorist group. The prosecution stems largely from the words of the defendant, who was desperate to return last year to the Islamic State, or ISIS, and found someone willing to drive her to the Middle East. Unknown to her, the driver was working with the German security services, and he recorded their conversations as she told him all about her life under the organization. The 27-year-old German woman, identified only as Jennifer W. in keeping with German privacy law, showed no emotion during the 15 minutes it took a judge in Munich to read out the charges against her, which include murder, war crimes, membership in a foreign terror organization and weapons violations. No pleas are entered in German courts and the defendant, wearing a white blouse, black slacks and a black cardigan, declined to make a statement. Her lawyer did not say whether she would say anything during the proceedings, which are scheduled to continue until September.” 

The Local Germany: Terror In Germany: Investigators Have Foiled 13 Attacks Since 2010

“According to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), which coordinates state and nationwide police investigations in Germany, the attacks prevented since 2010 are linked to Islamic extremism. At least five of the 13 incidents were planned to take place in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the Rheinische Post reported Wednesday. These included a planned 2011 bomb attack and a firearm attack in the state capital of Düsseldorf by the so-called Düsseldorf Cell. The figures also include the failed bomb attack at Bonn Central Station in 2012 and the thwarted attack on the chairman of the Pro NRW party (a far-right political party in NRW) as well as a case in Cologne last year. Other planned attacks in Chemnitz, Ludwigshafen, Schwerin, Lower Saxony, Karlsruhe and in the Frankfurt area were also prevented. In addition, targeted attacks on Bundeswehr (army) soldiers in 2016 and 2017 were also foiled by authorities. It came as police launched a nationwide operation on Wednesday morning, searching around 90 properties in nine federal states, DPA reported. The raids are in connection with organizations being suspected of financing the terrorist group Hamas.”

Europe

The Washington Post: Why Is Russia Insisting On Bringing Home ISIS Fighters’ Children?

“On March 31, Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, pledged to bring home all the children of Chechens who fought for ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Kadyrov is known to be a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The announcement echoed the Russian Foreign Ministry’s very public critique of prominent Western countries’ refusal to do the same. Bringing home the children of former ISIS fighters from detention centers in Syria, Russia insists, is the right thing to do. Why? Repatriating ISIS fighters’ children, who have been educated in ISIS ideology and have lost family members because of Russia’s military intervention in Syria, could pose a long-term threat to Russia’s security at home. Russian citizens surely know this, as the country has suffered several deadly, high-profile terrorist attacks over the past decade. My doctoral research examines how Russian policymakers are framing the country’s involvement in Syria, and offers some insights. They want Russia to be seen as a nation that actively cares about human rights, a nation that contributes to and should help shape the world’s policies about humanitarian assistance. The goal: enable Russia to regain its position as one of the world’s great powers. I’ll explain below.”

Southeast Asia

The Straits Times: Malaysian Hostage Rescued From Muslim Militants In Southern Philippines Dies Of Injuries

“A Malaysian rescued by Philippine security forces last week from Muslim militants who had held him captive for four months died of his wounds on Tuesday (April 9). A statement issued by the Western Mindanao Command said Jari Abdullah, 24, died at around 1pm at a hospital in Zamboanga City. His family signed a waiver consenting to remove him from life support, when it became apparent he would not recover. Mr Jari managed to flee during a clash last Thursday between a Marine unit and the militants holding him on Simisa island, in the southern province of Sulu. But he was shot by his captors as he ran away, and left for dead. Government troops pursuing the militants rescued him and took him to a hospital in Jolo before he was airlifted to Zamboanga City, according to news reports. The next day, security forces rescued Mr Heri Ardiansyah, 19, an Indonesian who had been taken along with Mr Jari from their fishing trawler in waters off eastern Sabah, near the Philippines' Tawi-Tawi island chain on Dec 5 last year (2018). But a third man, Mr Hariadin, 45, who was also Indonesian, drowned. The pair were trying to swim from Simisa Island to another islandalong with their captors when they were spotted by troops, according to a military report.”

Technology

NBC News: Lawmakers Held A Hearing On White Nationalism. On Youtube, It Was Immediately Attacked With Hate Speech.

“A House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday about the rise of white nationalism unleashed a wave of online hate speech, prompting YouTube to turn off chats on livestreams of the hearing. “Due to the presence of hateful comments, we disabled comments on the livestream of today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing,” YouTube announced on its Twitter account. Several livestreams of the hearing on YouTube were bombarded with racist and anti-Semitic posts in the platform’s live chat feature just moments after the hearing began. Those chats, which were hosted on the YouTube streams of news services such as PBS and the official stream for the House Judiciary committee, appeared unmoderated for all users. Even though YouTube said the comments feature for the videos was eventually disabled, comments and chat features on other YouTube streams remained live through the morning. Those transcripts were riddled with racist and anti-Semitic abuse. The hearing featured a panel of witnesses from civil rights organizations who testified on the rise of white nationalism and race-related violence, as well as the role technology platforms have played in the spread of hate speech.”

CNBC: Tech Firms Could Face EU Fines For Failing To Remove Terrorist Content Within One Hour

“Social media giants could face heavy fines if they fail to remove terrorist content within an hour, under new legislation proposed by EU lawmakers. The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee passed the draft law on Monday evening, which is now subject to approval in a vote in the Parliament’s full chamber next week. If approved, the legislation will face a final ratification by EU leaders. Under the proposed regulation, internet companies that host content uploaded by users — like Facebook or YouTube — and offer their services in the EU will have a one-hour window to remove terrorist content from their site if they are alerted by “competent national authorities.” They will not be legally obliged to constantly monitor their platforms for extremist material. The new law would see tech firms fined up to 4% of their global turnover if they “systematically and persistently” fail to comply. Bottom of FormCompanies that have been issued a substantial number of removal orders may also be asked by authorities to take further measures, such as regular reporting to authorities or increasing staff numbers.”

CNN: Racist And Anti-Semitic Comments Flooded YouTube Livestream Of Congressional Hearing On White Nationalism

“YouTube was forced to disable comments on a livestream of a House Judiciary hearing on hate crimes and white nationalism on social media Tuesday morning after it was flooded with racist and anti-Semitic comments. The comments were an illustration of one of the issues at hand: Silicon Valley's ongoing struggle to stop the spread of hate across its platforms. Lawmakers are exploring possible legislative options on the issue. "Due to the presence of hateful comments, we disabled comments on the livestream of today's House Judiciary Committee hearing," a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement. "Hate speech has no place on YouTube," they added. Even here, the divide between Democrats and Republicans on the prevalence of racist material online could be seen. Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Democrat who chairs the committee, read during the hearing from a Washington Post story that referenced the hateful comments. Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert quickly responded, "could that be another hate hoax? Just keep an open mind.”

Time: The U.K. May Change The Rules That Turned Facebook Into An Empire. Will Other Countries Follow?

“Facing potentially existential crises in the spread of targeted misinformation, hate speech and violent content on Facebook, the company’s executives have in recent days been calling for new and wide-ranging rules to govern social media companies. “I believe we need new regulation,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in an op-ed published March 30 in The Washington Post. “People shouldn’t have to rely on individual companies addressing these issues by themselves.” Zuckerberg’s stance is a reversal from years past, when Facebook’s motto was “move fast and break things” — a time when social media companies used freedom of speech as a shield against calls for them to remove unsavory content, and when “disruption” was considered a mark of Silicon Valley success. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites built their businesses on the principle that users, not websites, would be legally responsible for illegal postings.”

Mother Jones: YouTube Says It’s Stopping Hate Speech. It Is Obviously Not

“As a Google representative championed the company’s work in going “beyond what the U.S. requires” in cutting hateful content from its platforms, users flooded the comments section of a YouTube livestream showing the congressional hearing where the comment was made with white nationalist, supremacist, and otherwise bigoted posts. The hate speech was so rampant that YouTube, a Google subsidiary, eventually shut the live comments off. Facebook’s livestream of the hearing had fewer such comments, but that platform has also struggled to reign in white nationalist content. In the past week, it initially defended its decision to keep a video by prominent Canadian white nationalist Faith Goldy before eventually taking it down. After that removal, journalists like Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt quickly found other examples of white nationalist videos still on the site, including one by far-right activist Lauren Southern pushing the myth of “white genocide.”

Fox News: 'Toxic' Social Media Gives Extremists Platform For Violent Acts, Lets Them Self-Radicalize

“Social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube are fertile breeding grounds for white supremacists and white nationalists – enabling acts of real-world violence and fueling bigotry – and Big Tech must do more to stop it, advocacy groups that monitor and combat hate and discrimination say. During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other organizations detailed how tech platforms have fueled an uptick in hate crimes against Muslims, immigrants, African-Americans and Jews by enabling perpetrators to self-radicalize, locate extremist hate groups and find like-minded users. Facebook and Google, meanwhile, defended measures their companies have taken in the wake of horrific incidents such as the Tree of Life Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the New Zealand mosque massacre, both of which were allegedly perpetrated by gunmen who espoused white supremacist or white nationalist views online.”

Compelo: Facebook And Google Appear Before Congress Over Rise In Extremism – Here’s What They Said

"Representatives from Facebook and Google appeared before congress today over the role of online platforms in promoting hate crimes, extremism and white nationalism. The House Judiciary Committee hearing follows the mass shooting that targeted two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, resulting in the deaths of 50 people. Although both technology companies claim to remove any material linked to terrorism, they struggled to censor the footage as it was continually re-uploaded. The Counter Extremism Project, a non-profit group that aim to tackle extremism, followed a selection of 35 Facebook pages belonging to groups that support white supremacism or neo-Nazism for two months and found they collectively grew by a total of 2,366 likes."