Eye on Extremism: August 1

The Wall Street Journal: Son Of Osama Bin Laden Believed Dead

“Hamza bin Laden, the son of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and a rising figure in his late father’s violent Islamist group, is believed to have died, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The date, location and other circumstances surrounding the death weren’t immediately clear, but communication among militants suggests he had been killed, the officials said. President Trump and top administration officials didn’t immediately confirm the reports of the death. “I don’t want to comment on it,” Mr. Trump told reporters earlier in the day at the White House when asked about the reports. One U.S. official said that there had not been any public statements attributed to Hamza bin Laden since 2018. His death appears to have taken place some time ago—details are uncertain—but only confirmed by U.S. intelligence agencies in recent weeks. His death was first reported by NBC News. U.S. officials had become increasingly concerned in recent years about Hamza bin Laden’s repeated threats and calls for attacks on Americans at home and abroad as well as against U.S. allies.”

VOA: Taliban Expects Peace Deal With US In Next Meeting

“The Taliban says it is hopeful an agreement will be reached with the United States to end the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan when the two adversaries meet later this week in Qatar for a crucial round of peace negotiations. The two sides have worked hard for nearly one year and almost drafted a text in which “we have addressed all major issues,” Suhail Shaheen, who speaks for the Taliban negotiating team, told VOA. Taliban negotiators have done their part and it is now up to the American side whether they have "made up their mind” and take the next step of winding up the dialogue process, he asserted. “We hope to reach an agreement on the troops’ withdrawal,” Shaheen said when asked for his exceptions from the upcoming meeting, though he declined to say when exactly the talks will take place. U.S chief negotiator Zalamay Khalilzad, who has been in Afghanistan for more than a week, tweeted Wednesday that he is heading to Qatar for talks with the Taliban. "In Doha, if the Taliban do their part, we will do ours and conclude the agreement we have been working on."

The New York Times: At Least 32 Killed In Attacks On Yemen Military Parade And Police Station

“Two separate attacks in Yemen on Thursday, including a missile assault by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, killed at least 32 people, including police officers and a military commander, officials said. The Houthi movement said it had mounted drone and missile attacks on a military parade in Aden, the seat of the Saudi-backed government, killing the commander and dozens of others. In another attack in the Omar al-Mokhtar neighborhood of Aden, an explosives-laden car blew up at a police station, killing at least three officers, a security official said, and wounding dozens of others, including civilians. It was not clear if the attacks were related. Previous car attacks in Yemen have been carried out by Islamist militant groups like Al Qaeda. The bomber drove into the police station’s gates shortly before the morning police lineup at the start of the workday, the official said. Aden is the seat of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, which has been at war with the rebel Houthis who control the capital, Sana. There was no immediate comment from the Yemeni government or the coalition about the attacks.”

Reuters: Islamic State Attacks Kill Seven Security Forces In Iraq -Police

“At least seven members of Iraq's security forces were killed and 16 wounded overnight in two separate attacks by Islamic State militants, police said on Thursday. Three members of the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) and two policemen were killed in an attack in the Sayed Gharib area north of Salahuddin province's Dujail district, 50 km (30 miles) north of Baghdad, late on Wednesday, police said. The PMF is an umbrella grouping of mostly Iran-backed Shi'ite militias that formally report to Iraq's prime minister. Separately, a mortar attack against Kurdish forces in Kola Jawi village of Sulaimaniya province's Kalar district at midnight killed two members of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government's Asayish internal security forces and wounded 14, an Asayish source said. Islamic State has not claimed responsibility for either attack. Iraq declared victory over Islamic State, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017, but the hardline Sunni militants have since switched to hit-and-run attacks aimed at undermining the Baghdad government. They have regrouped in the Hamrin mountain range in the northeast, which extends from Diyala province, on the border with Iran, crossing northern Salahuddin and southern Kirkuk province, an area security officials call a “triangle of death.”

Bloomberg: What Iran Will Do Next, And How To Stop It

“Predictably, Iran is reacting badly to the announcement that Europe is planning to send a multinational naval force to protect merchant shipping passing through the Strait of Hormuz. "We heard that they intend to send a European fleet to the Persian Gulf which naturally carries a hostile message, is provocative and will increase tensions," said an Iranian government spokesman this week. In combination, the Europeans’ welcome decision to increase the warship count and the Iranian response – only verbal thus far, thankfully – are likely to increase the chances of a military miscalculation that provokes a shooting war. The strategic backdrop, of course, is the U.S.-Iranian conflict that is being played out in the aftermath of the American pullout from the 2015 agreement to circumscribe the Iranian nuclear program. Disappointed with the somewhat limited scope of that agreement, the Trump administration withdrew, much to the dismay of our European allies, and proceeded to levy harsh economic sanctions on Iran. In response, the Iranians are trying to show the world that they control the Strait of Hormuz and can close it if they choose, thus causing significant disruption to the global economy.”

The Washington Post: Australia Proposes New Laws To Keep Extremists In Prison

“The Australian government introduced legislation to Parliament on Thursday that would give authorities more power to keep extremists behind bars after they have served prison sentences if they are still considered dangerous. The move is a response to a 2017 siege in which a gunman who once trained with Muslim extremists, Yacqub Khayre, killed a Melbourne apartment building receptionist and wounded three police officers months after being released early from prison. The bill has been introduced as the government is accused of trampling human rights and press freedom by ratcheting up it national security laws in response to the evolving threat posed by Muslim extremists such as the Islamic State group. The federal and state governments agreed in late 2015 to create nationally consistent so-called continuing detention orders to keep convicted terrorists in custody after they have served their sentences. Attorney General Christian Porter said the proposed new law would close a loophole that prevented some extremists from being kept in custody. The law would create a presumption against parole for convicted terrorists and terrorist supporters. Khayre, a Somali-born refugee, took a woman hostage during a two-hour siege that ended with him being killed by police. The hostage escaped harm.”

United States

CNN: Extremist Material Was Found In A Home Used By The Gilroy Festival Shooter, Source Says

“Police found extremist material during a search of a Nevada home they believe the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooter once rented, according to law enforcement source familiar with the investigation. The seized material pertained to different -- and at times, competing -- political ideologies, and authorities have yet to nail down a clear ideology to which Santino Legan subscribed, the source said.  The news came two days after police searched the same home in Walker Lake, about 100 miles southeast of Reno, and seized several weapons accessories and computer hardware. The home is about a six-hour drive from Gilroy. As authorities continue to investigate what led Legan to kill a 6-year-old boy, a 13-year-old girl and a man in his 20s while injuring a dozen others, ranging in age from 12 to 69, a mixed picture of the gunman has emerged.  While Legan's social media activity suggests he had xenophobic or racist tendencies, a neighbor said he and his family seemed like nice people. And while former classmates said he didn't stand out, a Gilroy High School employee described him as a troublemaker who was “difficult to manage” when he actually showed up for class.”

The Washington Post: The U.S. Said A California Cherry-Picker Went To Pakistan For Terrorist Training. Now The Case Has Collapsed.

“It was a month after 9/11, and Osama bin Laden’s face flashed across the news on Naseem Khan’s TV screen. The FBI was sitting in his living room in Bend, Ore., and Khan sensed an opportunity. The agents had come for an entirely different purpose and were ready to leave — until Khan pointed at the screen and said he thought he could help with something else. A few years ago, he said, he saw bin Laden’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, at a mosque in the wine-country town of Lodi, Calif. The agents perked up, intrigued by the possibility. Had they really just stumbled into a hot tip on al-Qaeda while speaking to a 28-year-old McDonald’s worker and convenience store clerk? The FBI thought Khan was onto something — a possible “sleeper cell” of terrorism hidden in Lodi ― and decided to dispatch him there as a confidential informant. Khan wouldn’t find any associates of Zawahiri at the mosque in Lodi, and U.S. officials and terrorism experts now doubt his initial claim about Zawahiri was ever true. But Khan would find 19-year-old Hamid Hayat — who would soon become the face of homegrown terrorism in post-9/11 America. They met at the mosque, and Khan learned Hayat was taking a trip to Pakistan with family.”

Arizona Daily Star: Judges Orders Detention Of 2 Tucson Men Accused Of Trying To Join Islamic State

“Two Tucson men suspected of trying to join the Islamic State will remain in custody while their court proceedings unfold, a federal magistrate judge ordered this week. Ahmed Mahad Mohamed, 21, and Abdi Yemani Hussein, 20, were arrested Friday at Tucson International Airport after a series of communications with an undercover FBI agent about flying to Egypt and joining the Islamic State, U.S. District Court records show. The two face charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. Both Mohamed and Hussein came to Tucson as refugees from Somalia. Mohamed is a permanent resident of the United States and Hussein is a refugee. The FBI began investigating Mohamed in August 2018, when Mohamed started a conversation online with an FBI agent pretending to be someone overseas. Mohamed told the agent he was a Somali supporter of the IS who wanted to join and fight in Syria and achieve martyrdom. Mohamed told the agent he wanted to make it to Syria and said, “if I go to Syria I want to be the beheading person ... I want to kill them so many I am thirsty for their blood,” using Arabic phrases to refer to disbelievers. Mohamed told the undercover agent many times that he wanted to be the “beheading guy,” according to court records.”

Associated Press: Warrants Say New Zealand Attack Inspired Synagogue Shooting

“Four days after a man killed 51 people at two mosques in New Zealand, court documents show a San Diego college student expressed regret in a text message that he missed watching the livestream video of the attack and praised the shooter’s writings as “spot on with everything,” and something everyone should read. Five days later, authorities say John T. Earnest set a mosque on fire in Escondido, north of San Diego, where seven people on a retreat were sleeping inside and escaped safely. A month later, they say Earnest opened fire during a Passover service on April 27, killing one woman and injuring three people, including the rabbi. The details in search warrants released Wednesday give the clearest indication yet that Earnest was inspired by shooter Brenton Tarrant and acted on that hatred within days of the New Zealand killings. A California state judge ordered the 338 pages unsealed at the request of five news organizations, including The Associated Press. Earnest, 19, has been charged in state and federal courts that make him eligible for the death penalty if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty. Federal authorities had previously released excerpts of Earnest’s online writings demonstrating his affection for Tarrant, but the search warrants give a detailed timeline showing how quickly the New Zealand attack turned his violent thoughts into action.”

Syria

The National: 386 Children In Have Died In Syria's Al Hol Camp Since January, Says Monitor

“Poor healthcare provisions and lack of food have contributed to the deaths of 386 children in northern Syria’s Al Hol camp for families of suspected ISIS supporters since January, according to a monitor. The overcrowded camp, run by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-Arab alliance, was established for those who either fled the group's final stretch of territory in Syria or who were captured in the final weeks of the military campaign against the group that concluded in March. The British based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the toll on Wednesday, saying that poor conditions at the camp were largely responsible. The site currently holds nearly 80,000 women, children and elderly people. In April, US-backed Kurdish-led forces in Syria announced the fall of ISIS’s last stretch of their once-sprawling state project. However, tens of thousands of people surrendered during the final push and while military-aged men were taken to Kurdish prisons, the women, children and elderly were moved to camps like Al Hol. Aid agencies have warned of dire conditions and the Kurdish forces have said they cannot cope with the scale of the issue. They have called on countries to repatriate their nationals to ease the burden. Insecurity is also a pressing issue.”

Iran

Foreign Policy: Iran-Backed Militias Are In Iraq To Stay

“On July 1, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi issued a decree directing that militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) take a series of steps to subjugate themselves to the Iraqi state. According to the order, those groups failing to comply by July 31 will be treated as outlaws. Don’t hold your breath. The odds are high that the deadline will come and go with no meaningful curtailment in the power of the PMF—at least not those Shiite elements allied with Iran, its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, the IRGC’s deadly expeditionary arm. Iran’s proxies in Iraq may pretend to comply with the decree. The Iraqi government may pretend to enforce it. But U.S. officials should be under no illusions. Rather than enhancing the government’s control over the PMF, the order is more likely to have the opposite effect, further entrenching Iran’s chokehold on the Iraqi state.”

The Washington Post: U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Foreign Minister Amid Escalating Tensions

“The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday in a dramatic step bound to further escalate tensions with Tehran. A senior administration official said Zarif had acted more as a “propaganda minister” than a diplomat. “Today, President Trump decided enough is enough,” the official said. The announcement came as Trump’s national security adviser said that nuclear-related sanctions on Iran would again be waived, despite the opposition of some of the administration’s most hard-line officials. “This is a short, 90-day extension,” John Bolton said in an interview with “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on Fox Business Network. Bolton, an Iran hawk, said Tehran would be “under constant observation” to ensure that nothing that contributes to a nuclear weapons capability in Iran would be permitted. Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had advocated ending the waiver, which allows Russia, China and Europe to participate in Iran’s civil nuclear program, as permitted under the 2015 agreement from which the administration withdrew last year.”

CNN: US Extends Waivers For Countries To Continue Civil Nuclear Work With Iran

“The State Department announced late Wednesday it would extend waivers for countries in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to continue their participation in civil nuclear projects with Tehran. "The action today will help preserve oversight of Iran's civil nuclear program, reduce proliferation risks, constrain Iran's ability to shorten its 'breakout time' to a nuclear weapon, and prevent the regime from reconstituting sites for proliferation-sensitive purposes," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. The announcement came the same day that the US announced sanctions on Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. National security adviser John Bolton said in an interview on Fox Business Wednesday that the waiver renewal would be for 90 days. "I think the idea here is we are watching those nuclear activities very, very closely," Bolton said. Two administration officials said Tuesday that the waivers were expected to be renewed, and one of the officials said that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argued the waivers should be extended during a recent White House meeting on the issue. The Washington Post first reported that the waivers extension was expected.”

Iraq

U.S. News & World Report: UN Experts: Islamic State Aims For Resurgence In Iraq, Syria

“Leaders of the Islamic State extremist group are aiming to consolidate and create conditions for an “eventual resurgence in its Iraqi and Syrian heartlands,” U.N. experts said in a new report. The panel of experts said in a report to the Security Council this week that the process is more advanced in Iraq, where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and most of the militant group's leadership are now based following the fall of the so-called “caliphate” that he declared in the two neighboring countries. In Syria, where the last IS stronghold was toppled in March, the IS covert network is spreading and sleeper cells are being established at the provincial level, mirroring what has been happening in Iraq since 2017, the report said. As for al-Qaida, the panel said the extremist group “remains resilient” though its immediate global threat is not clear, with its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, “reported to be in poor health and doubts as to how the group will manage the succession.” The report said “the most striking international developments” during the first six months of 2019 include “the growing ambition and reach of terrorist groups in the Sahel and West Africa,” where fighters from IS and al-Qaida are collaborating to undermine fragile countries.”

The Washington Post: My People Were Massacred Five Years Ago. The Genocide Continues.

“Five years ago, Islamic State fighters invaded my ancestral homeland of Sinjar, Iraq, and waged a systematic ethnic-cleansing campaign against the Yazidi community. Their campaign included mass executions, forced religious conversions and widespread sexual violence. These attacks resulted in the massacre of Yazidi men, women and children; the enslavement of nearly 7,000 Yazidis; and displacement of more than 400,000 Yazidis to camps in northern Iraq. But that was not the end of our suffering. As Sheri P. Rosenberg observed in a 2012 article, genocide is a process, not an event. The continued suffering, fear and uncertainty in the Yazidi community show that the genocide process is ongoing. About 350,000 Yazidis remain trapped in camps in northern Iraq. Yazidis in these camps live in weather-worn tents without adequate access to food, water, electricity, education or opportunities to work. They also lack basic health care, including psychological support to aid in trauma recovery. An estimated 3,000 abducted Yazidi women and children are still missing, with fears that some might have been sold to al-Qaeda affiliates — women and girls to be sex slaves, boys to be trained as fighters. Others may have been forcibly relocated to cities in other countries or have become collateral damage in military offensives in the region.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Security Forces Shell 3 Islamic State Outposts In Diyala

“Iraqi security forces bombarded on Wednesday three terrorist hotbeds of the Islamic State militant group in Diyala province, a security source said. Speaking to the privately-owned Baghdad Today news website, the source said that the mortar attack came after monitoring suspicious activities by Islamic State militants in al-Mutaibeeja, located on the border between Diyala and Salahuddin provinces. The source warned that IS cells remain active in some parts of the province, urging an immediate action to eliminate remaining IS militants as soon as possible. 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. IS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary forces, was launched in 2016 to retake IS-held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Police Apprehend 4 IS Members East Of Mosul

“Iraqi Ministry of Interior Affairs announced apprehending four members of the so-called Islamic State group, east of the city of Mosul. Ministry’s Spokesperson, General Saad Maan, said in a press statement, “Police forces in Abi Tamam area, based on accurate information and arrest warrant, apprehended four members of the Islamic State group.” “One of the apprehended terrorists was working in the so-called IS security, southeast of Mosul, while the others were fighters in IS Diwan al-Jund,” Maan added. He further explained that the IS members were arrested at the areas of al-Kahera and al-Rashideyah, east of the city of Mosul. In 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria seized control of the city of Mosul and an estimated 500,000 refugees fled the area. The Iraqi government managed to recapture the city in the “Battle of Mosul” three years later, during which the city sustained heavy damage. Nineveh suffered attacks by the Islamic State group, with Mosul being captured in June 2014 and an estimated 500,000 refugees to flee the area, and many places of worship and historic ruins and monuments destroyed. A large-scale offensive to retake the city, dubbed Operation “We Are Coming, Nineveh” in October 2016.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Afghanistan Names Team To Talk To Taliban, Expecting Swift U.S. Deal To Leave

“The Afghan government named a team on Wednesday to negotiate directly with the Taliban, in the expectation that Washington was on the cusp of agreeing to withdraw troops after 18 years of war, meeting the insurgents’ precondition for talks with Kabul. The U.S. special representative for Afghanistan peace talks, Zalmay Khalilzad, tweeted that he was on his way to negotiation venue Qatar, ready to close a deal to end the war that began in 2001 after the September 11 attacks on the United States. ”I’m off to Doha, with a stop in Islamabad. In Doha, if the Taliban do their part, we will do ours, and conclude the agreement we have been working on,” Khalilzad said. Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for Taliban’s political office in Doha said: “We have completed consultations with our leaders regarding the talks with the U.S, now we are ready and waiting for him (Khalilzad) to restart the talks.” Khalilzad, an Afghan-born veteran American diplomat, was appointed last year to negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban, who now control more territory than at any point since the United States bombed them out of power in 2001. They have said they will not talk with the Afghan government about the future of the country until Washington agrees to withdraw its troops.”

ABC News: US, Taliban Set To Finalize 'Agreement' Ahead Of Intra-Afghan Peace Talks

“The chief U.S. negotiator for Taliban talks said he is heading to Doha, Qatar, for his eighth round of negotiations with the militant group, and it could be the final one before a deal is reached. “If the Taliban do their part, we will do ours, and conclude the agreement we have been working on,” tweeted U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad from Kabul, Afghanistan. Finalizing a deal could mean the beginning of the end for the United States' nearly 18-year old military involvement in the country, even as it continues to face violence from the Taliban and high civilian casualties from U.S. and Afghan forces. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that he expected “significant progress” in the “next handful of weeks,” but that the U.S. is committed to a “conditions-based withdrawal from Afghanistan as quickly as we can execute it.” Those comments to reporters traveling with him to Asia came one day after he said Trump had directed him to begin drawing down U.S. troops before the 2020 presidential election: “That's my directive from the President of the United States... So yes, it's not only my expectation, it would be job-enhancing,” he said Monday in Washington.”

Yemen

Al Jazeera: Yemen: Dozens 'Killed' In Houthi Attack On Aden Military Parade

“An explosion in Aden, the seat of Yemen's internationally recognised government, has killed dozens of people and wounded many others, according to reports. The Houthi rebel movement, which controls the capital, Sanaa, claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday which targeted a military parade at a camp in the southern city. Reuters news agency quoted a medical and a security source as saying at least 32 people were killed in the blast at al-Jalaa military camp, in Aden's Buraiqa district. A health official told The Associates Press news agency the death toll stood at more than 40.  A senior commander of the so-called Security Belt's First Support Brigade was reported to be among the casualties. The Security Belt is a force trained and supported by the United Arab Emirates, a key partner in a military alliance assembled by Saudi Arabia to fight against the Houthis. International medical charity Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, wrote on Twitter that that tens of wounded people were brought to hospital for treatment. The Houthi-linked al-Masirah TV said the group launched a medium-range ballistic missile and armed drone at the parade.  The parade "was being used to prepare for an advance on Taiz and Dalea", al-Masirah cited a Houthi military spokesman as saying. The blast occured "behind the stand where the ceremony was taking place", a witness told Reuters.”

Saudi Arabia

The New York Times: Hamza Bin Laden, Son Of Qaeda Founder, Is Dead

“Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza bin Laden, who was viewed as an eventual heir to the leadership of Al Qaeda and had repeatedly threatened to attack the United States, is dead, according to two American officials. Details of the strike that killed him were scarce, including when and where. The United States government played a role in the operation, but it was not clear how, according to the officials, who discussed his death on the condition of anonymity because it involved sensitive operations and intelligence gathering. Mr. bin Laden was killed sometime during the first two years of the Trump administration, officials said. He was killed before the State Department announced a $1 million reward for information about his whereabouts in February, but American military and intelligence agencies had not confirmed his death by then.  Though Mr. bin Laden carried a prominent name and lineage, the news of his death represented more of a symbolic victory for the American government than the removal of a threat. Al Qaeda has not carried out a large-scale attack in years, and though Mr. bin Laden was being groomed to eventually take over the group, that time appeared to be well into the future. A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country.”

Middle East

Long War Journal: UN Security Council Continues To Report On Al Qaeda-Taliban Alliance

“Since July 2018, the UN Security Council has published at least four reports highlighting the ongoing and close relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda.  The Trump administration is currently seeking an accord with the Taliban, under which the US will set a withdrawal schedule in exchange for unspecified “counterterrorism assurances.” But the UN’s reports illustrate why the Taliban is not a credible counterterrorism partner.  The latest report was submitted in mid-July by the monitoring team responsible for tracking al Qaeda and the Islamic State.  Al Qaeda “considers Afghanistan a continuing safe haven for its leadership, relying on its long-standing and strong relationship with the Taliban leadership,” the monitoring group’s analysts reported. Al Qaeda “members continue to function routinely as military and religious instructors for the Taliban.”  As FDD’s Long War Journal has assessed for years, al Qaeda has been able to regenerate its capabilities and extend its influence by partnering with other jihadist groups rooted in the region. To give just one example, chosen from many, we assessed in 2009 that al Qaeda’s influential allies included Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Haqqani Network. The latter is a powerful subgroup within the Taliban.”

WTOP: The Hunt: ISIS Now More Deadly Than Ever Before

“New research indicates that the terror group ISIS — even after its defeat in Iraq and Syria — is even more lethal than it was before. In this week’s edition of The Hunt with WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green, Jennifer Cafarella, research director at the Institute for the Study of War explains why.”

Washington Report On Middle East Affairs: U.S. Sanctions On Hezbollah To Carry Long-Term Impact In Lebanon, Middle East

“Apart from it’s symbolism, the sanctioning of three top Hezbollah officials by the United States carries no immediate or short-term substantial effect, given that none of the blacklisted names travels to the United States or owns property across the Atlantic. This is just the beginning, however, of where the Trump administration seems to be heading with Iran and its various proxies in the Middle East. If expanded horizontally across the Lebanese political spectrum or vertically within the party itself, it can become quite dangerous—and painful—for all of Lebanon. For now, the sanctions only limit the financial transactions and travel abilities of Members of Parliament Muhammad Raad and Amin Sherri, as well as Wafiq Safa, who oversees Hezbollah’s Liaison and Coordination Unit. U.S. citizens will be unable to meet with them, hire them or do business with them. Raad, 64, is the most well-known among the three, having held a parliamentary seat since Hezbollah decided to take part in local politics, in parallel with its military program, in 1992.”

Nigeria

Reuters: Islamic State Says Killed Or Wounded More Than 40 Nigerian Soldiers: Amaq

“Islamic State said via its Amaq news agency that it killed or wounded more than 40 soldiers in the northeast Nigerian state of Borno in two separate attacks on Tuesday.  The group said militants attacked a military post in Baga and killed at least 15 soldiers before carrying out a second attack on an army barracks in the town of Benisheik, where they killed or wounded around 25 more.  Locals and military sources told Reuters there were clashes between insurgents and soldiers in the state on Monday and Tuesday. Reuters was unable to immediately verify the number of people killed or injured in those clashes.  An army spokesman did not immediately respond to phone calls requesting comment.  More than 30,000 people have been killed in northeast Nigeria since 2009 in an Islamist insurgency.  At the weekend at least 65 people were killed in Borno, the birthplace of the insurgency, when militants targeted civilians traveling from a funeral.”

News 24: Nigeria Insists Boko Haram 'Defeated' After 10-Year Insurgency

“Nigeria's presidency claimed Boko Haram's 10-year-old insurgency had been “defeated” but admitted that international jihadists posed a growing threat. ”The position of the Nigerian government is that the Boko Haram terrorism has been degraded and defeated. The real Boko Haram we know is defeated,” the presidency said in a statement late on Tuesday.  It said the country was now facing “a mixture” of Boko Haram remnants, criminal groups and jihadists from the Maghreb and West Africa fuelled by turmoil in Libya and the collapse of the Islamic State caliphate in the Middle East. “As a consequence of these international gangs, we have seen an increase of trans-border crimes and the proliferation of small arms in the Lake Chad Basin area,” the statement said.  Videographic presenting the Boko Haram islamist insurgents in northern Nigeria. Thirty people were killed late Sunday in a triple suicide bombing in northeast Nigeria, emergency services reported, in an attack bearing the hallmarks of the Boko Har... Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general who vowed to crush Boko Haram when he became president in 2015 for his first term in office, has previously said the group were “beaten.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Kenya Wants UN To Designate The Al-Shabaab As A Terrorist Group

“The Kenya government says it will seek the United Arab Emirates support in its efforts to push the UN in designating the Somalia-based militant group Al-Shabaab as a terrorist group in order to help focus international attention towards combating their violent extremism campaign, local media reported on Wednesday. Speaking after meeting with UAE delegation in Nairobi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affair Macharia Kamau said Kenya will submit a proposal to have the UN Security Council list Al-Shabaab as terrorist organization. “We will formally be submitting a requesting seeking UAE's support in listing Al-Shabaab under UN Resolution 1276. This is important to bring the global efforts in tackling the group,” Kamau was quoted by the East African newspaper as saying after signing bilateral security agreements with the UAE delegation. “It has caused serious havoc, not just in Kenya but the region and the world in general,” he added. Al-Shabaab, which is a local franchise of Al-Qaeda in Somalia is not recognized as a terrorist group by the UN. Under Resolution 1276 of 1999, the UN Security Council targeted the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and ISIS and their leaders, sanctioning the groups and those associated with it.”

Africa

France 24: Mozambique Leader Vows To Hunt Down Jihadist Attackers

“Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi vowed Wednesday to hunt down and unmask attackers involved in a string of deadly assaults that have battered the country's northern region and killed least 250 people. For nearly two years, suspected Islamists have staged raids on remote communities in the gas-rich, Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado province, torching homes and sometimes even beheading civilians. The identity of the militants remains unclear and their motives unknown. “We will fight and hunt them,” Nyusi told lawmakers during an address. “So far they have never showed their faces, but the security forces are hunting and fighting them relentlessly,” Nyusi said. “We hope that the arrests in recent weeks will help us discover who they are,” he said without specifying when the arrests occurred or the numbers of suspects detained. A senior police source in the northern province confirmed there had been recent arrests but refused to give details. The attorney general late last year said at least 400 suspects had been arrested since the attacks began in October 2017. But only a few dozen have been tried and convicted. The Islamic State claimed involvement in three recent insurgent attacks, according to SITE Intelligence, an organisation that monitors extremist activity.”

Journal Du Cameroun: Cameroon: Boko Haram Fighters Chop Off Women’s Ears In Overnight Attack In FN Region

“Boko Haram fighters are reported to have chopped off the ears of some unfortunate women in an overnight attack that happened in the locality of Kalagari, Far North region of Cameroon. Reports from the locally based media Oeil du Sahel indicates that Boko Haram fighters stormed the locality of Kalagari Monday evening, chasing away members of the village vigilant committee. In their brutal move, they took some women hostage before later on cutting off their ears. Reports hold that some days before, the same Boko Haram fighters attacked Kalagari and Doublé villages, slaughtering three members of the vigilant committee in the process.”

North Korea

Associated Press: North Korea Says It Tested Crucial New Rocket Launch System

“North Korea said Thursday leader Kim Jong Un supervised the first test firing of a new multiple rocket launcher system that could potentially enhance its ability to strike targets in South Korea and U.S. military bases there. The report by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency differed from the assessment by South Korea’s military, which had concluded Wednesday’s launches were of two short-range ballistic missiles. The launches from the eastern coastal town of Wonsan were North Korea’s second weapons test in less than a week and were seen as a move to keep up pressure on Washington and Seoul amid a stalemate in nuclear negotiations. Pyongyang has also expressed anger over planned U.S.-South Korea military drills. KCNA said Kim expressed satisfaction over the test firing and said the newly developed rocket system would soon serve a “main role” in his military’s land combat operations and create an “inescapable distress to the forces becoming a fat target of the weapon.”

United Kingdom

Al Jazeera: Activists Warn UK Against Risking Death Penalty For ISIL Suspects

“The United Kingdom's decision to share evidence with the United States about two suspected British ISIL members without seeking assurances they would not face the death penalty if extradited sets a dangerous precedent, international human rightslawyers and groups have said. A letter leaked to the media in July last year, revealed that the UK's former Home Secretary Sajid Javid told US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in consultation with the then-foreign secretary Boris Johnson, that the UK had “strong reasons for not requiring a death penalty assurance in this specific case”. Maha Elgizouli, the mother of one of the two suspects, El-Shafee Elsheikh, has challenged the UK's decision to share 600 witness statements gathered about her son and the other suspected member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group, Alexanda Kotey, with US authorities under a mutual legal assistance (MLA) agreement. Elgizouli lodged a claim against the decision at the High Court, but two judges ruled in January it was not unlawful.  She now hopes that after hearings which opened in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, judges will rule to review the decision.”

France

Arab News: Three Charged In France For Plotting ‘Terrorist’ Killing

“Three men, including two already serving jail sentences, were charged for alleged involvement in a “terrorist criminal conspiracy” over a failed plot to kill a person, a source close to the case said Wednesday. The three men — including one man who had been jailed for spending six months in Syria in 2014 with a group affiliated to Al-Qaeda — had not yet decided on a specific target, the source told AFP. But they had considered attacking a prison guard, the source said, confirming a report in the newspaper Le Parisien. “It was a project, we were not on a particularly high level of risk,” said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, adding that “intelligence has worked well.” The three suspects — aged 27, 31 and 42 — were charged on Friday and deny the claims, the source said. According to Le Parisien, the mastermind of the group was the 27-year-old who had been jailed for being an “apologist for terrorism.” He had been transferred to at least three different prisons and it was during those transfers that he met the other two suspects, the newspaper reported. In recent months, two guards have been assaulted in prisons in the northwest of France, one by a prisoner convicted of terrorism and the other by a radicalized detainee.”

Southeast Asia

Eurasia: Terror Threat In Malaysia: Warning Signs – Analysis

“Since the beginning of 2019, Malaysian Police had arrested several individuals, both Malaysian citizens and foreigners residing in the country, for suspected links with Islamic State (or “Daesh”). Effective and efficient as they are, Police will continue to face significant challenges in counter-terrorism efforts due to wide-ranging developments in domestic politics, as well as regional and international settings.  Since the beginning of 2019, the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) has made vital arrests to foil planned attacks by individuals, both local and foreign, some of whom have pledged loyalty to Islamic State (IS, also known by its Arabic tag Daesh). The individuals caught were affiliated with the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), Maute Group, Royal Sulu Force (RSF), Jemaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD) and the Muslim Brotherhood Al Ikhwanul Muslimin. Domestic, regional and international conditions appear to have heightened the challenge of terrorism in Malaysia. Domestically, in the face of increasing Islamic conservatism at home, the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in Malaysia faces challenges of navigating a complex political, social and security terrain when it comes to Islam.”

The New York Times: Bin Laden Family ‘Henchman’  Is Arrested In Philippines

“A Jordanian man once considered a financier for Al Qaeda and a “henchman” of Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law was arrested in the Philippines in July, officials said on Thursday, reinforcing concerns that Islamic militants are making a base in the country. Mahmoud Afif Abdeljalil, 51, was arrested on July 4 in Zamboanga, a coastal city at the southwestern tip of Mindanao, the nation’s second-largest island. Mr. Abdeljalil had false documents under an assumed name, Jaime Morente, the chief of the Bureau of Immigration, said in a statement. Mr. Abdeljalil, whom the authorities called “a former henchman” connected to the bin Laden family, has been in government custody since the arrest. “We are going to deport him for being an illegal entrant as he has no record of arrival, after he was arrested and deported in 2003 for being an undesirable alien,” Mr. Morente said.”