Eye on Extremism: April 15, 2019

The Defense Post: ISIS Brands Global Attacks As ‘Vengeance For Sham’

“On April 8, Islamic State started what it called “the Campaign of Vengeance for the blessed al-Sham Province,” claiming attacks by its affiliates around the world under this banner. ‘Vengeance for Sham’ appears to be a mix of a coordinated campaign alongside opportunistic branding of attacks that would have been carried out anyway in an attempt to restate the group’s capabilities following the fall of its self-declared caliphate. ISIS has made no announcements about the campaign outside of claiming attacks in its name, but the name ‘Vengeance for Sham’ suggests it was started with the intention of carrying out retribution attacks for the loss of territory in Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces announced the total defeat of ISIS’s territorial caliphate on March 23, following the capture of Baghuz in eastern Syria from ISIS. ISIS issued the first statements claiming attacks carried out as part of the new campaign on April 9. However, several of those statements related to attacks carried out the previous day. Two longer statements also specifically stated that the campaign began on April 8. Attacks continue to be claimed as part of the campaign, and there is no indication of how long the it will continue.”

Al Jazeera: Rockets Kill 11 In Syria's Northern City Of Aleppo: Reports

“The death toll from rockets fired in the government-held northern city of Aleppo in Syria has risen to at least 11 people, state-run news agency Sana reported on Monday. According to an unnamed police source quoted by Sana, "terrorist groups", the term used for armed groups in the nearby rebel-held northwestern province of Idlib, launched the attack on Sunday night. The attacks wounded another 11 people in the al-Khaldiya neighbourhood, the police source said, all of whom were "civilians" who were "rushed" to two separate hospitals for treatment. It added that one of "several rockets" landed on a crowded market in Aleppo, the country's second-largest city and a major industrial hub that bore the brunt of years of fighting. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based war monitor reported that Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) launched the attacks, adding that 20 rockets were fired into several neighbourhoods in Aleppo.”

The Washington Post: Taliban Launch Multi-Pronged Attack On Northern Afghan City

“The Taliban launched a new assault early Saturday on the northern city of Kunduz, which briefly fell to the insurgents in 2015 and has come under attack several times since then. Mohammad Yusouf Ayubi, head of the provincial council in Kunduz, said at least six people were killed and more than 50 were wounded as the insurgents attacked from multiple directions just after midnight. He said hundreds of people fled their homes as the sound of gunfire and explosions echoed from the city’s outskirts. The northern city lies at a strategic crossroads in the heart of a major agricultural region, with easy access to much of northern Afghanistan as well as the capital, Kabul. The Taliban seized Kunduz for around two weeks in 2015 before withdrawing in the face of a NATO-backed Afghan offensive. The insurgents pushed into the city center a year later, briefly raising their flag before gradually being pushed out. The insurgents effectively control nearly half of Afghanistan and have continued to launch daily attacks on security forces despite holding several rounds of peace talks with the United States in recent months. The Taliban declared the start of their annual spring offensive on Friday, but the announcement has little meaning as the insurgents have managed to keep up a steady tempo of attacks even during the harsh winter months in recent years.”

Voice Of America: Soleimani: Mastermind Of Iran’s Mideast Expansion

“U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week described a powerful Iranian military commander as a “terrorist,” while discussing options the U.S. government could have to further punish Iran for its destabilizing activities in the Middle East. “Qassem Soleimani has the blood of Americans on his hands … as does the force that he leads,” Pompeo said during an interview with Fox News. “America is determined each time we find an organization, institution or an individual that has taken the lives of Americans, it is our responsibility.” His comments came one day after President Donald Trump designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization. Pompeo said that the IRGC has killed more than 600 American soldiers. The IRGC uses its elite Quds Force led by Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and proxy Shiite militias to extend its influence across the Middle East and beyond.”

The New York Times: Nigeria’s President Promises, Again, To Bring Back Kidnapped Chibok Students

“Some of the young women are thriving at a new school. Some have returned home to their family farms. But the fates of more than 100 other students who were kidnapped from a school in northeastern Nigeria are unknown, five years after militants from Boko Haram abducted them. On Sunday, the fifth anniversary of the kidnappings from the village of Chibok, President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated a pledge he had made years ago to bring back all of the students. “We will not rest until all the remaining girls are back and reunited with their families,” he said on his official Twitter account. “I made this promise when I became President, and I will keep it.” In 2014, Boko Haram militants stormed a girls’ school in Chibok and made off with over 200 girls who were boarding there to take exams the next day — an act that gained widespread attention across the world with the social media hashtag #BringBackOurGirls advocating their release. Mr. Buhari’s message came after months of silence on the topic, which barely registered in campaign discourse during a heated presidential election this year. The kidnappings, which riveted a global audience at the time, seem all but forgotten by the outside world.”

Business Insider: Facebook Will Stop Rule Breakers Live Streaming After The Christchurch Massacre, But Is Set To Resist Bigger Changes

“Facebook is going to introduce new restrictions on live streaming this month after the Christchurch mosque massacre was broadcast on the social network, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Citing sources close to Facebook, the Australian newspaper said it will stop users from posting live videos if they have broken the company's community guidelines in the past. The Sydney Morning Herald said the tweak will be announced before Facebook's first-quarter earnings on 24 April. It will also precede a meeting of an Australian government task force, which is due to hold talks with Facebook on the same day as the Q1 earnings. The idea of punishing users who have previously broken rules was first floated in an open letter by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg following the New Zealand attack, in which 50 people were shot dead when a gunman entered two mosques in the city of Christchurch. The suspect streamed the event on Facebook Live.”

United States

The Hill: The Terror To Come

“In 1999, two of the most infamous terrorists of the 1990s — one a militant jihadist, the other a violent white nationalist — found plenty to chat about in the yard of their supermax prison in Florence, Colo. Timothy McVeigh, mastermind of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which killed 168 and injured hundreds more, was thrilled to discover he had “lots in common” with the equally murderous Ramzi Yousef, ringleader of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, a precursor to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “I never have [known] anyone in my life who has so similar a personality to my own,” gushed Yousef of McVeigh. The 9/11 attacks placed Yousef’s brand of militant jihadism front and center in the realm of global counterterrorism efforts — and rightly so. Even with these efforts, violent Islamism was still responsible for more than 84,000 deaths worldwide, including nearly 22,000 civilians, in 2017 alone. That said, recent white extremist attacks against synagogues and mosques in the United States, New Zealand, and elsewhere show the danger of neglecting one of these threats for the other. Though white extremism cannot compete with jihadism in terms of global body count, violence on its behalf is clearly rising in Europe, the United States, and other Western countries.”


The New York Times: ISIS Kidnapped Her 5 Years Ago. The Red Cross Thinks She May Still Be Alive.

“For months, employees of the International Committee of the Red Cross have made weekly visits to a detention camp in northern Syria bearing a photograph of a petite woman in her early 60s. They show the image to camp officials, comparing it with pictures of tens of thousands of other people in the camp’s database. All of them are escapees from the Islamic State’s last stretch of territory, which fell to American-backed forces last month. The woman in the photo is Louisa Akavi, 62, a New Zealand nurse and midwife who was abducted in late 2013 in the northwest Syrian city of Idlib. She is one of the last links to the group of at least 23 Western hostages held by ISIS, a majority of whom were released for ransom while others were killed in widely publicized beheadings. For more than five years, her employer and her government imposed an especially strict media blackout, warning that any mention not only of her identity, but even of her nationality, could endanger her. But now that ISIS’ caliphate has collapsed, the aid group has broken its silence in hopes that the public can help find her and two Red Cross drivers, both Syrians, kidnapped alongside her.”

Al Arabiya: Syria Kurds Return 25 Yazidis Freed From ISIS To Iraq

“Syrian Kurds on Saturday repatriated 25 women and children from Iraq’s Yazidi minority after freeing them during the final push against ISIS extremist group, a local official said. The US-backed fighters say they rescued some 300 Yazidi women and children during the fight to take the extremists’ last scrap of territory in eastern Syria. “Today, we will hand over 25 people - 10 women and 15 children - to the Yazidi council in Sinjar,” said Ziyad Rustam, an official with the Kurdish-run group Yazidi House, which reunites rescued Yazidi children with surviving relatives. “They will be sent to their families,” he told AFP. At the Yazidi House headquarters, women wearing colourful robes collected children scampering around the compound before boarding busses bound for Sinjar, the Yazidi heartland. “The fate of my three sisters remains unknown... I don’t know anything about them,” said 17-year-old Jamila Haidar. “I hope we will be reunited soon.” Iraq’s Yazidis are a symbol of the suffering caused by ISIS during its rein over vast swathes of Syria and Iraq.The extremists stormed through Iraq’s northwest in 2014 slaughtering thousands of men and boys and abducting women and girls to be abused as sex slaves.”

The Independent: Shamima Begum 'Was Member Of Feared ISIS Morality Police' In Syria

“Shamima Begum was a member of the Isis morality police, a feared group which enforced the terror organisation’s strict interpretation of Islamic law, according to reports. The 19-year-old British citizen, who fled her home in Bethnal Green four years ago with two other schoolgirls, has claimed that she was only a “housewife” during her time living with the group in Syria. But according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph she played a much more active role in the organisation’s reign of terror as a member of the “hisba” – which metes out punishment to those found flouting Isis laws on how to dress and behave. One activist quoted by the newspaper said Begum had been seen holding an automatic weapon and shouting at Syrian women in the city of Raqqa for wearing brightly coloured shoes. “Members of our group from Raqqa knew her well,” said Aghiad al-Kheder, an activist from Deir ez-Zor who founded an anti-Isis collective that published information about Isis crimes from sources on the ground.”

Fox News: Syria's Assad: Last Man Standing Amid New Arab Uprisings

“It's Arab Spring, season II, and he's one of the few holdovers. The last man standing among a crop of Arab autocrats, after a new wave of protests forced the removal of the Algerian and Sudanese leaders from the posts they held for decades. Syria's President Bashar Assad has survived an uprising, a years-long ruinous war and an Islamic "caliphate" established over parts of his broken country. As the Syrian conflict enters its ninth year, the 53-year-old leader appears more secure and confident than at any time since the revolt against his rule began in 2011. But the war for Syria is not over yet, and the path ahead is strewn with difficulties. The back-to-back ouster of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika after two decades of rule and Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir after three, has been dubbed a "second Arab Spring," after the 2011 wave of protests that shook the Middle East and deposed longtime dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Social media has been filled with pictures of leaders at past Arab summits, noting almost all of them were now deposed except for Assad. Some pointed out ironically that al-Bashir's last trip outside of Sudan in December was to Damascus, where he met with the Syrian leader.”


Reuters: Iraqi Militias Reject U.S. Naming Of Iran's Guards As Terrorist Group

“A group of Iraq’s Shi’ite militia groups said on Saturday that they strongly rejected the designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) as a terrorist organization by the United States.  The groups, backed and trained by Tehran, delivered a statement from the home of Iran’s consul-general in the Shi’ite holy city of Najaf.  They announced their solidarity with the Muslim people and the Revolutionary Guards who they said helped to prevent four or five states from falling to Islamic State militants.  President Donald Trump said last week he would name Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a  The action by Trump, who has taken a hard line toward Iran by withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and re-imposing broad economic sanctions, marks the first time the United States has formally labeled another country’s military a terrorist group.  “This is laughable coming from the number one sponsor of terrorism, America,” said a spokesman for the Badr Organisation, without providing evidence.  Badr is led by Iraqi militia commander and politician Hadi al-Ameri who’s Fateh coalition of militia groups has the second-largest number of seats in Iraq’s parliament.”

Radio Farda: Europe Stays Silent Over Designation Of Guards As 'Terrorist Group'

“Although Iran’s leading political factions are outraged over Washington’s recent designation of its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization”, Europe has remained silent. Reformist MPs, along with their so-called Principlist or ultra-conservative counterparts, rushed to show their support for the IRGC by wearing the military force's fatigues. Friday Prayer meetings nationwide voiced criticism of the United States. In an address on April 12, interim Tehran Friday Prayer leader Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani lashed out at Washington for designating the IRGC, “an official military force of a foreign country,” a terrorist group. He said the “foolish” U.S. president violates international law by blacklisting the IRGC, noting that such a measure would further complicate the situation in the Middle East, the IRGC-run Tasnim news agency reported. “Today, it has been proven to the people of the world, particularly regional nations, that the mother of terrorism is the United States,” he said. He then warned U.S. President Donald Trump “not to play with the lion’s tail,” stressing the IRGC could “raze Tel Aviv to the ground with its missiles” if ordered to do so by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.”

The Jerusalem Post: Satellite Images Show Possible Iranian Missile Factory In Syria Destroyed

“Satellite images released by the Israeli intelligence firm ImageSat International (ISI) on Sunday showed the complete destruction of a possible Iranian surface-to-surface missile factory in Syria’s Masyaf District, allegedly struck by Israel on Saturday. “The main industrial structures were completely destroyed, including the main hangar and the adjacent three production hangers and buildings. The rest of the structures were affected and damaged by the blast,” ISI said, adding that they “assess that all the elements and/or equip-ment which were inside are completely destroyed as well.” According to ISI, “if the bombed site was indeed a missile factory, it could allow for the produc-tion and assembly of different SSM [surface-to-surface missile] elements or for improving the accuracy of missiles.” The factory, ISI said, is located in the vicinity of other facilities likely linked to Iran’s SSM project in Syria, which have previously been struck in alleged Israeli strikes carried out over the past two years.”


Reuters: Iraqi Forces Kill Islamic State Commander, Four Fighters

“Security forces killed an Islamic State commander and four fighters in the Hamrin Mountains area of northeast Iraq on Sunday, the military said.  Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition warplanes have been carrying out air strikes in the area, targeting militant hideouts, for three days. The elite Counter Terrorism Service and the military’s operations command for Diyala province did not name the commander but they said in a statement he was in charge of Islamic State forces in Hamrin.  He and four “followers” were killed in the area northeast of Baquba, the provincial capital, on Sunday, it said.  Iraq declared victory over the group, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017.  With its dream of a caliphate in the Middle East now dead, Islamic State has switched to hit-and-run attacks aimed at undermining the Baghdad government.  The militants regrouped in the Hamrin mountain range in the northeast, which extends from Diyala province, on the border with Iran, northwest to the River Tigris in Kirkuk province.”

Al Arabiya: Iraq Begins Trial Proceedings For 900 ISIS Suspects

“Iraq has begun trial proceedings for nearly 900 Iraqi suspected members of ISIS extremist group caught fleeing extremist territory in neighboring Syria, a judicial source told AFP on Sunday. They were handed over to Iraqi authorities by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which ousted ISIS from swathes of eastern Syria including territory bordering Iraq. “We received the interrogation files of nearly 900 Iraqi Daesh (ISIS) members coming from Syria,” the court official said, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to the media. “The specialized terrorism court has begun setting dates for their trial in batches,” the source added. The nearly 900 suspected extremists were transferred by the SDF to Iraqi custody in recent months as the remnants of ISIS’ once sprawling self-declared “caliphate” collapsed in neighboring Syria. Additional Iraqi suspects are in SDF custody and awaiting transferal, a security source told AFP Sunday. “They will be handed over in batches on the Syrian-Iraqi border. They include very influential leaders, but ISIS had sought to keep them hidden,” the security source said. One of those destined to be handed over was deeply involved in ISIS’ efforts to develop chemical weapons, he said."

Iraqi News: 3 Islamic State Fighters Killed During Security Operation In Western Iraq

“Iraqi security forces killed on Saturday three Islamic State militants during a security operation in the western province of Anbar, a security source was quoted as saying. “Security forces, backed by Tribal Mobilization Forces, stormed a hotbed of the Islamic State militant group in al-Husainiat district in western Anbar, leaving three terrorists dead,” the source told Almaalomah news website. “The troops found explosive belts, as well as a large cache of ammunition and bombs inside the hotbed,” the source said, adding that all the bombs were dismantled by the explosives experts at the scene. The Islamic State group appeared on the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” from Mosul city. Later on, the group has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it. Despite the group’s crushing defeat at its main havens across Iraq, Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks against troops with security reports warning that the militant group still poses a threat against stability in the country.”


Bloomberg: Taliban Spring Offensive Draws U.S. Ire Amid Peace Efforts

“The U.S. and Afghan governments condemned the Taliban’s launch of a new spring offensive in Afghanistan as the world’s biggest military power continues to pursue peace talks with militants in the war-torn country. Calling the Taliban move “reckless,” U.S. Special Envoy on Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter that the insurgents demonstrated their “indifference” to the peace demands of the Afghan people. The U.S. and its allies will stand with Afghan forces to end the country’s 18 years of war, he said, urging Pakistan, Qatar and other nations to join in condemning the latest militant actions. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani described the Taliban offensive as “illegitimate war.” The insurgents explicitly want to prolong the fighting that took the lives of tens of thousands of Afghans, more than 2,400 U.S. soldiers and cost about $900 billion, Ghani said in an e-mailed statement from his office. He reiterated calls on the group to directly join peace talks with the government. The insurgents that control or contest half the country have increasingly stepped up attacks on government and U.S. compounds, inflicting heavy military and civilian casualties at a time when talks with the U.S. are entering a key phase.”

Xinhua: 2 Security Forces, 10 Militants Killed In Fresh Clashes In N. Afghanistan

“At least two Afghan security force members and 10 militants were killed in fresh clashes in Afghanistan's northern province of Badakhshan overnight as fighting rages in the country, a military source said Sunday. “The clashes erupted in the surrounding area of Jurm district after Taliban tried to overrun the district at midnight,” Ghulam Hazrat Karimi, a press officer of the army's Division 20 Pamir, told Xinhua. Three security forces and 10 militants were also wounded during the fighting lasting for hours in the mountainous district of the provincial capital Faizabad, the source added. Fighting between government forces and Taliban fighters has gotten intense across the country since Friday when the militant group launched a yearly rebel offensive. On Saturday, Taliban attacked Kunduz city, capital of neighboring Kunduz province, and the clashes on the outskirts of the city left five civilians, five security forces and 40 Taliban fighters killed and over 70 people injured. The Taliban frequently starts the yearly offensive in spring as the season is locally branded as the fighting time of the year.”


Reuters: Islamic State Says It Was Behind Pakistan Market Suicide Bombing

“Islamic State claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least 18 people in a Pakistan market, the group’s Amaq news agency said on Saturday. The attack ripped through an outdoor Pakistani market on Friday, killing at least 18 people, half of them ethnic Hazaras, officials said, in an attack apparently aimed at minority Shi’ite Muslims.”

Radio Free Europe: 'Down With Terrorism': Pakistan's Minority Hazara Protest For Third Day After Attack

“Members of Pakistan’s Shi'ite ethnic Hazara minority have held a sit-in protest in the southwestern city of Quetta for a third consecutive day, following a deadly suicide bombing that appeared to target the community. Reports said that about 200 people on April 14 blocked traffic in a key artery leading into Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province, chanting slogans such as “Stop killing Hazara” and “Down with terrorism and sectarianism.” Dozens of Hazara also gathered in the southern city of Karachi, some holding signs reading, “Shi'ite lives matter.” At least 20 people were killed and 48 others wounded on April 12, when a suicide bomb exploded in an outdoor market in Quetta in an attack claimed by both an affiliate of the Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic State group. Eight Hazara were among those killed, according to police. Hazara have been frequently targeted by Sunni Muslim militant groups in both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. The protesters in Quetta have refused to call off their sit-in until their demands were met, including the arrests of those behind the attack and stepped-up measures to protect their community.”


The Washington Post: With The ISIS Caliphate Defeated In Syria, An Islamist Militant Rivalry Takes Root In Yemen

“The Islamic State and al-Qaeda are waging a deadly contest for territory, recruits and influence in Yemen that is dividing tribes and deepening instability in the Middle East’s poorest nation, according to tribal leaders, security officials and analysts. Clashes are occurring regularly in central Bayda province between Yemeni tribal forces aligned with the two extremist groups. Meanwhile, an online propaganda war of videos, images and even poems is taking place in social media forums and Internet chat rooms as both sides seek to gain more followers and sympathizers. In recent weeks, the fighting has escalated. The Islamic State deployed suicide bombers, including a Somali national, against al-Qaeda positions, killing and injuring more than 10 fighters, including commanders. Al-Qaeda, in retaliation, attacked Islamic State bases, claiming to wrest six of them away. Then, a tribal group affiliated with al-Qaeda did something unprecedented: It offered a $20,000 reward for the apprehension or death of the local Islamic State leader. “The rivalry between Islamic State and al-Qaeda in Yemen has developed into a full-blown blood feud,” Elisabeth Kendall, a Yemen expert at Oxford University, who closely monitors the tensions, said late last month.”

Arab News: Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi: A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothes

“When it comes to preaching hate and unleashing terror, the Yemeni rebel leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi stands right beside Osama bin Laden, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, Iranian militia strongman Qassim Soleimani and Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. The 40-year-old Al-Houthi and his armed militia have been sanctioned by the UN Security Council for overrunning Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, and for sending the country’s legitimate and internationally recognized government into exile in January 2015. The Iranian-aligned Houthis have always been renegades. Hiding in the mountains of Sadah in northern Yemen, they ran a parallel autonomous entity and never sought involvement in any peace process or power sharing. And in late 2014, while the Yemeni political class and military were embroiled in a power struggle, the Houthis seized the opportunity to take over the country.”

Egypt Today: Ex-Inmate Reveal Secrets Of Torture In Houthi Prisons

“The cases of Houthi torture in Yemen are endless, however, one case, in particular, does attract one’s attention.  Anas Al-Sarari, Director of the Association of Hope for the Disabled, and one of the victims of torture in the prison of the Houthis, is paralyzed as a result of Houthis’s systematic torture. To understand more about the torture in Houthi prisons, we sat down with Sarari. I was a student in the fourth year of civil engineering and I hope to complete my education and then establish my own business or project. On September 1, 2015, while I was walk on a street in Sana'a I heard the sound of a 4x4 car, then someone came from my back and hit me on my head and I lost conscious, When I arrived at the Political Security Prison, I was blindfolded. I woke up to them kicking me. I was tortured for two months. I was tortured intensively every day and I was investigated for most of the day.”


The Arab Weekly: Egypt’s Security Establishment Divided Over ISIS Returnees

“Security analysts are divided on whether Egyptian Islamic State fighters, in the custody of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in eastern Syria, should be allowed to return to Egypt for trial. Islamic State (ISIS) returnees, analysts said, would represent a major threat to Egyptian national security at a time Cairo is fighting an ISIS branch in the Sinai Peninsula. “This is why they should not be allowed to return,” said Egyptian retired police General Farouk Megrahi. After liberating the city of Baghouz, the last ISIS stronghold in eastern Syria, in March, the SDF said nearly 5,000 ISIS fighters were in custody. There are also approximately 9,000 ISIS widows and children in camps controlled by the Kurdish fighters in eastern Syria. With limited financial resources, the SDF along with Washington called for countries to repatriate ISIS fighters and their families. There is no official estimate of the number of Egyptians who joined ISIS or those in custody in Syria but unofficial estimates put the number in the low hundreds. However, even if there is a relative low number of Egyptian nationals in custody, there are fears about the effects that battle-hardened jihadists could have in Egypt, even from prison. “These people can never be reintegrated into society,” Megrahi said.”


The New York Times: Libyan Forces Fighting For The Capital Disavow Extremists

“The United Nations-backed government of Libya sought on Saturday to reassure its Western supporters by distancing itself from terrorists and extremists. Some fighters with extremist ties or who have been targeted by United Nations sanctions have said this week that they were joining the Libyan government’s fight against an attack by a militia leader. The militia leader, Gen. Khalifa Hifter, 75, has long portrayed himself as commanding a fight against terrorism as he has tried to establish himself as a new military ruler of Libya. He has promised an end to the mayhem of warring factions and fiefdoms that has followed the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi during the Arab Spring uprising of 2011. But his critics say his often indiscriminate attacks have only ended up driving more mainstream opponents into alliances of desperation with militants and extremists. That debate has now taken on new urgency because over the last nine days, General Hifter, who loosely controls much of eastern Libya, has begun a new attempt to take over the headquarters of the United Nations-backed government in the capital, Tripoli. The government said Saturday it “strongly denies the allegations that among our ranks there are fighters who belong to terrorist organizations.”

The Libya Observer: Ministry Of Interior Arrests ISIS Member In Tripoli

“The Special Deterrence Force has arrested ISIS member Anas Abrik Zouki, aka Abu Abdullah Al-Darnawi, of Libyan nationality, the Ministry of Interior declared on Saturday. The Interior Ministry explained on its Facebook page that Al-Darnawi was in the city of Benghazi from 2015 until late January 2017. Then, he left to Umm Al Aranib town in south Libya through the open desert and then to Sabha before settling in Tripoli. Investigations indicated that Al-Darnawi attempted to carry out terrorist operations and destabilize the security and stability in the capital, according to the ministry. “The security services are fully prepared and ready to confront any attempt to compromise the security of the capital, especially in these exceptional circumstances, in order to shuffle the cards to implement external agendas, or for the interest of warlords,” the ministry added. Spokesman of Haftar's self-styled army, Ahmed Al-Mismari said at a news conference yesterday that he expects the occurrence of terrorist operations and bombings in Tripoli and the western region in the coming period.”


The Defense Post: Boko Haram And The Chibok Abductions: #FiveYearsTooLong

“Five years ago, on April 14, 2014 Boko Haram fighters kidnapped 276 mainly Christian young women from their all girls secondary school in Chibok, in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state. It was the incident that brought Boko Haram to global attention, and with it, the movement’s then leader Abubakar Shekau. Some 57 escaped that night, jumping from vehicles. Of the 219 held in captivity, 130 were shown in a video in May 2014, dressed in hijab and reciting the Qur’an as Shekau taunted the Nigerian government, military and Chibok families. Another video obtained by CNN in April 2016 featured 15 schoolgirls. In May, one girl was found wandering the Sambisa Forest with her baby, having apparently escaped. Then in August 2016, a further video showed some 50 of the girls. In October 2016 there was finally good news – for some – with the release of a first group of  21 girls. A further 82 women were freed in May 2017. Currently, 112 girls are unaccounted for. Journalist Ahmad Salkida, who has contacts within the group, last year claimed that only 30 girls are still alive.”

The Pulse Nigeria: Nigerian, Chadian Troops Kill 27 Boko Haram Terrorists In Borno

“Nigerian Army troops of Sector 1 Operation Lafiya Dole killed 27 Boko Haram terrorists during joint clearance operations with Chadian Defence Forces in Borno State on Saturday, April 13, 2019. The Acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, said in a statement on Monday, April 15 that the terrorists were killed at the northern part of Wulgo, Tumbuma, Chikun Gudu and Bukar Maryam villages in Borno. Col. Musa said “27 terrorists were sent to permanent discomforting sleep”, with no casualties recorded for the security forces. Items recovered from the terrorists include five gun trucks, five AK-47 rifles, five AK-47 magazines, one automatic revolver galil rifle, one G3 rifle, two general purpose machine gun, two anti-aircraft guns, four rocket-propelled gun tubes, one PK machine gun and one M21 rifle. Others are one locally-made dane gun, five rocket-propelled gun tubes bombs, 1000 assorted rounds of different calibre ammunition, several links of 12.7MM, one Land Crusier Buffalo, one Nissan GT, one flag, one grinding machine and several motorcycles. One Land Cruiser was also destroyed by troops. Col. Musa disclosed that a coordinated military operation is ongoing especially in the fringes of Gombaru.”


Reuters: Air Strike Kills Islamic State Deputy In Somali Region

“An air strike killed the deputy leader of the Islamic State group in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, alongside another militant, a local security official said on Sunday. A witness said a 4x4 vehicle was hit by several missiles 3 km (2 miles) outside the village of Xiriiro in the Qandala hills at 1 p.m. (1000 GMT) on Sunday. ”Today’s air strike killed Abdihakim Dhuqub, the deputy leader of Islamic State,” Puntland’s security minister, Abdisamad Mohamed Galan, told Reuters. According to the United Nations, Dhuqub helped set up the first cell of al-Ittihad al-Islamiya (AIAI), an ideological predecessor to al Shabaab, a militant group fighting the Somali national government for over a decade. He later defected to Islamic State. Somalia has been riven by civil war and Islamist militancy - though more in the south than in the north where Puntland is - since 1991 when clan warlords overthrew a dictator before turning on each other. ”Several missiles hit a Suzuki car. Then helicopters hovered over the scene,” Mohamed Iid, a resident of Xiriiro, told Reuters. “It was a deafening air strike. We reached the scene after the helicopters left. The car completely melted.”

CNN: US Military Mission In Somalia Could Take Seven Years To Complete

“This week President Donald Trump signed an executive order extending a presidential declaration of a national emergency concerning Somalia for another year, calling the Islamist insurgency plaguing that country an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to the US.  But even if that is the last extension of the declaration, US defense officials say the mission in the country is likely to take years to complete. The fight there hinges on US Special Operations Forces being able to train an elite Somali army unit capable of defeating al Qaeda-linked militants on the ground. The commitment to the East African nation comes after the President has signaled a desire to reduce US troop levels across the globe and as the administration is in the process of withdrawing forces from Syria. While officials say the effort is making progress, they tell CNN that the US training mission is likely to not be completed until 2026. For nearly two years, a small team of US Special Operations forces has been embedded with the Somali National Army, assisting in the fight against the militant group Al-Shabaab. As well as advising on airstrikes and ground assaults, the Navy SEAL-led team's primary task is to train and build Somalia its own elite light infantry force.”

Daily Nation: Belly Of The Beast: Inside Shabaab’s Gruesome Abduction Syndicate

“In November 2008, al-Shabaab commander Mohamed Toora-Toorow, in the company of 24 men, left Somalia at 11pm and walked several kilometres into Kenya. The mission of his unit was to kidnap two Italian nuns: 67-year-old Maria Teresa Olivero and 60-year-old Caterina Giraudo, employed as aid workers in El Wak, a town in Mandera County bordering Somalia. The abduction was to take place near a Kenya Defence Force (KDF) forward operating base in El Wak.  “Toora-Toorow divided his 24 men into four groups — one to kidnap the nuns, one to monitor the barracks, one to hijack vehicles at a hotel, and the other to secure the escape routes,” write Harun Maruf and Dan Joseph in their 2018 book Inside al-Shabaab: the History of Al-Qaeda’s Most Powerful Ally. The book offers an insider account of how al-Shabaab terrorists conduct their despicable operations, including kidnappings and ransoms. “The first unit abducted the women from their house. Then, after Shabaab and soldiers exchanged gunfire at the barracks, all four groups opened fire,” the book says. In the confusion, they write, the group at the hotel hijacked two pick-ups and a Land Rover. The Shabaab team converged, piled into the vehicles with the nuns, and raced back into Somalia.”


New Business Ethiopia: Ethiopia Intel Intercepts Al Shabaab’s Terror Plot In Addis Ababa

“The attempt was intercepted by Ethiopia’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) over the past few weeks, according to Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye, who briefed reporters on Friday afternoon. The unidentified number of organized terrorists were preparing to conduct terror attack in areas where many people will be found in the capital, Addis Ababa, including conference halls, according to Attorney General Berhanu. He stated that the terror by Al Shabaab in Addis Ababa was planned to take place in collaboration with local individuals who were actively involved in designating the plot. Based on the information the government has obtained so far, the group, which was planning to undertake terror attack was assigned by Al Shabaab, according to Attorney general Berhanu. The intelligence has put under control the suspects and evidences such as, photographs of target areas, passports and fake documents, before the group undertakes the attack, according to Berhanu, who stated that the government will reveal the details when the investigation is completed.” 

United Kingdom

ABC News: UK Police Arrest 4 Sri Lankans For Suspected Extremist Links

“British police say four men from Sri Lanka have been arrested on suspicion of belonging to a banned extremist organization. Police said Friday night they are suspected of violating the Terrorism Act. The four men are being questioned at a police station in Bedfordshire northeast of London. Police say the men arrived on an international flight at Luton Airport Wednesday night. The men have not been identified and have not been charged. Police say the investigation is continuing.”


The National: ISIS Can Still Launch Attacks, German Intelligence Chief Warns

“Germany's domestic intelligence agency has warned against underestimating the threat posed by ISIS after its formal defeat in Syria and northern Iraq. Thomas Haldenwang, the head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that the number of radicals in Germany last year rose to 2,240, despite the demise of the extremists. “I cannot give an all-clear on ISIS,” Mr Haldenwang said. “It can launch an attack in Germany any time.” The “virtual cyber caliphate” can still attract recruits willing to conduct attacks on home turf, the chief intelligence officer said, adding that authorities could not possibly monitor everyone who is suspected of being radicalised online. Mr Haldenwang said four officers were needed to monitor one person and that resources were being allocated to watch those considered extremely dangerous. Extremists are also often tech-savvy and are aware of which apps to use if they want to send encrypted information, the agency chief said. Mr Haldenwang also called on Germany to “pay more attention to far-right extremism” as far-right groups became increasingly “interlinked.” On the issue of the repatriating ISIS children, he said they were also the victims of the extremists and should be treated as such.”

The New York Times: Has Germany Forgotten The Lessons Of The Nazis?

“The reunification of Germany, in 1990, was a moment of exalted pride for the postwar federal republic. After decades of warning that a united country would resurrect the horrors of the 20th century, its neighbors and allies, many of them former battlefield foes, came around to accept and even welcome it. That’s in large part because, during those same decades, West Germany had undertaken a self-administered “Vergangenheitsbewältigung,” a mouthful of a German word that translates as something like “the overcoming of the past,” and refers to the country’s collective effort to grapple with the causes and legacies of the Nazi era. It was a painful, halting process, but it helped transform Germany from pariah state to the moral leader of continental Europe. In recent years, though, the achievements of the postwar era have come under scrutiny. “Our culture of remembrance is crumbling,” Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said recently.”


The Express: ISIS Warning: Killers Planning Horrifying Attacks - Leaked Documents Reveal Europe Plots

“ISIS is still planning horrifying attacks in Europe despite the terror cell’s diminishing size, leaked documents reveal. Details of plots to carry out assaults across the continent funded and controlled by ISIS leaders were found on a hard drive dropped by a terrorist in Syria earlier this year. ISIS was defeated in its final stronghold last month, but as the West was quick to claim victory the documents give insight into sinister plans including to recreate the Paris 2015 attacks. Documents outline how the terror group still runs a sophisticated international network, moving fighters across borders and funding their operations from computer hacking to assassinations. One letter obtained by The Sunday Times, signed by six ISIS leaders and addressed to the group’s “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,breaks down there international strategy into operations and borders. The operations abroad will be directed by Abu Khabab al-Muhajir, who already controls one cell in Russia and two in Germany.”

Southeast Asia

CNN: DNA Test Confirms Killing Of Leader Of ISIS-Affiliated Group In Philippines

“DNA tests have confirmed that the leader of an ISIS-affiliated terror group was killed in a military operation last month, officials in the Philippines say. Abu Dar was among a number of militants killed in the southern town of Tubaran, according to CNN Philippines.  Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a text message on Sunday that the DNA testsconfirmed that the remains were his. Lorenzana added that for now the radical Islamist Maute Group is “leaderless” and that authorities are “monitoring who will replace Dar.” Dar became the group's leader after two of its figureheads were killed in the southern city of Marawi during a five-month standoff, according to the Philippine News Agency (PNA). Militants and Philippines forces clashed in 2017 after parts of the Muslim-majority city had fallen under the control of the Islamist group. The leaders killed were named as Isnilon Hapilon, who was declared the terror group's emir for Southeast Asia, and Omar Maute, a leader of a local militant group that had pledged allegiance to ISIS. According to CNN Philippines, Dar had appeared beside Hapilon and Maute in a video during a planning session, which authorities believe was for the attack on Marawi city.”

The Straits Times: Singaporean Man, 35, Charged With Providing Money To Support ISIS Propaganda Efforts

“A Singaporean man was charged on Monday (April 15) with providing money to support the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria's (ISIS') propaganda efforts for terrorist purposes, said a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a statement. Investigations had found that Imran Kassim, 35, a former managing director of a logistics company, had provided $450 to an individual in Turkey on Oct 31, 2014, for the publication of ISIS propaganda. “This act of providing money in support of terrorist purposes is a serious offence, regardless of the amount, under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act,” said MHA. He had been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) since August 2017, and had been issued with a detention order for intending to undertake armed violence overseas. MHA said that if Imran is convicted, the detention order against him will be cancelled, and he will serve the prison term imposed by the court. He will be held separately to prevent him from spreading his radical ideas to other inmates, and will continue to undergo rehabilitation while serving his prison sentence, it added. “An assessment will be made at the end of his sentence whether he has been successfully rehabilitated or remains a threat to society. If he remains a threat, he may be detained further under the ISA,” MHA said.”


The Wall Street Journal: Facebook’s Scandal Of Fake Celebrity Ads

“If you use Facebook , you might have seen ads for “Dr. Oz’s Diabetes Breakthrough,” promising to cure diabetes and regulate blood sugar in two weeks. Friends and viewers wanted to know if it was legit. It wasn’t. Similar ads have been plastered across the web: Kelly Ripa leaves show to launch antiaging wrinkle cream. Denzel Washington uses these all-natural pills to cure his ED. Bill Gates says these brain-boosting pills will double your IQ. These bogus endorsements are a pervasive problem. They not only dupe consumers out of hard-earned cash, they jeopardize health. Tech companies have ignored the problem for far too long. Celebrities whose personas have been used unlawfully have pursued these shady advertisers for years. TV personality Barbara Corcoran told Bloomberg last year that she’s gone after scammers after getting dozens of complaints from people duped by skin-cream ads featuring her face. They’re so convincing even two of her own sisters fell for the scam. But it’s very hard to track down the source of the ads. Tech platforms could help but have little incentive to do so. After all, the ads mean revenue for them.”