Eye on Extremism: August 16

New York Daily News: Connecticut Man Admits Helping Fund Syria Trip For Wannabe ISIS Fighter From Brooklyn

“An Uzbek citizen living in Connecticut admitted aiding a wannabe ISIS fighter from Brooklyn by plotting to help cover his travel and weaponry costs. Azizjon Rakhmatov, 32, pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court Thursday to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization — a charge that could land him behind bars for up to 15 years. Prosecutors say two of the New Haven resident’s accomplices, Brooklyn roommates Akhror Saidakhmetov and Abdurasul Juraboev, planned to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS. Rakhmatov and another man, Abror Habibov, talked about paying for Saidakhmetov’s travel expenses and helping him buy a gun once he got to Syria, prosecutors said. Rakhmatov even went as far as putting $400 into the bank account of another accomplice, Akmal Zakirov, with the understanding that it would go toward Saidakhmetov’s mission. Saidakhmetov was busted at Kennedy Airport in February 2015 as he was about to board a flight to Istanbul. Federal authorities caught wind of the conspiracy when Juraboev wrote on a pro-ISIS Uzbek-language website that he wanted to martyr himself by planting a bomb on Coney Island or shooting then-President Obama.”

The New York Times: New York Moves To Classify Killings Fueled By White Supremacy As Domestic Terrorism

“Expressing deep concern about violence tied to white supremacy and other forms of bigotry, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed on Thursday to make New York the first state to classify “hate-fueled” killings as domestic terrorism. Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, unveiled the proposal in a speech, almost two weeks after back-to-back massacres in El Paso, Tex., and Dayton, Ohio, prompted all-too-familiar cries for action from both political parties. Describing the need to address the “new violent epidemic” of “hate-fueled, American-on-American terrorism,” Mr. Cuomo called for raising the penalties for violence motivated by race, gender, sexual orientation or other protected classes by making them punishable by up to life in prison without parole. “Today, our people are three times more likely to suffer a terrorist attack launched by an American than one launched by a foreigner,” he said. “Now this is not just repulsive. This is not just immoral. This is not just anti-American. It is illegal. And we must confront it by enacting a new law to fit the crime.” While the governor’s office has not shared any bill language, it said mass casualties would be defined as any death of at least one person and the attempted murder of at least two more.”

The New York Times: European Fears Hinder Plans To Rescue ISIS Children From Syria

“Years after their parents left Belgium and France to join the Islamic State, 18 children were taken from squalid refugee camps in Syria and flown recently to new lives in Belgium and France, drawing widespread attention in those countries as examples of Europe grudgingly accepting the children of its jihadis. But they were the exceptions, not the rule; estimates vary, but 1,300 or more children of European fighters and followers of the self-professed caliphate remain trapped in Syria and Iraq. While some European governments have softened their stands on repatriation, marginally, it is still unclear when — or even whether — the children might be able to leave. The recent airlifts, which took place only after months of negotiation and vetting of the children, illustrate how resistant Western countries still are. On those flights in June, France and Belgium received only children whose extremist parents were dead; most are orphans, and some were taken to ISIS lands by their fathers, who were killed there, while their mothers remained in Europe. Days earlier, a Belgian team had set up a makeshift clinic in the overcrowded Al Hol camp in northeastern Syria, which holds thousands of current and former ISIS adherents and their family members, providing medical care and psychiatric assessments for the children of Belgian nationals.”

The Washington Post: The Islamic State Is Building Caliphate 2.0 In A Syrian Camp

“The Islamic State has largely taken over control of a huge camp in northeast Syria, and there’s no plan for what to do with the 70,000 people there (including more than 50,000 children). The United States and Europe must immediately address this urgent national security and humanitarian crisis, before a new caliphate is established while we watch. After the fall of Raqqa and the coalition defeat of the Islamic State’s strongholds, President Trump announced that “100 percent” of the caliphate had been destroyed. But the tens of thousands of Islamic State fighters and family members left over were herded into massive fenced internally displaced persons (IDP) camps with little aid, security or supervision. Separate from the IDP camps, which house mostly women and children, more than 2,000 Islamic State fighters sit in a network of makeshift prisons. The entire system is managed by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are under-resourced, understaffed and allied with a United States that is eyeing the exits. In the largest IDP camp, called al-Hol, the Islamic State now exerts more influence and control than the few dozen SDF guards stationed there, according to U.S. officials, lawmakers and experts.”

United States

CBS Denver: Eco-Terrorism Possible Motivation Behind Water Supply Vandalism

“Investigators with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office are examining whether damage to a municipal water system was intentional and the work of activists intent on curbing the sell-off of mountain water to Front Range cities. Four headgates of the Northglenn Ditch that originates on Berthoud Pass were damaged August 1. Temporary repairs were completed within days and there was no service disruption to water users in metro Denver. Investigators are considering ‘eco-terrorism’ as a possible cause. “These four gates are pretty remote and (are located) within about a half mile, quarter mile (area),” said GCSO Lt. Dan Mayer. “They (whoever damaged them) had to work. They had to know what they were doing. Somebody knows that system.” That system belongs to the Denver Water Department. The Northglenn Ditch is primarly operated and maintained by the city of Northglenn, but the four damaged headgates divert water to the city of Golden. Northglenn spokesperson Heather Grady said permanently fixing the headgates would cost $100,000-150,000. Initial estimates of the water lost by the city of Golden were $900,000, but Golden Water Resource Specialist Will Stambaugh said the city does not have firm numbers on its loss at this time.”


Voice Of America: Medical Workers Of US-Based Group Killed In Syria's Idlib

“Two medical workers affiliated with a U.S.-based medical group were killed Wednesday in an attack in northwestern Syria, the medical relief group said. A third medical volunteer was killed in the same attack. Six airstrikes targeted an ambulance center in the town of Ma’aret Hurmeh in Idlib province, said the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) in a statement.   The facility and the ambulance were completely destroyed, the group added. “These blatant crimes and violations of [international humanitarian law] must be investigated to hold perpetrators accountable,” said Mufaddal Hamadeh, SAMS President. Local reports said the airstrikes that targeted the medical facility in Idlib were carried out by Russian warplanes. The medical workers “were killed in the airstrikes as they were trying to rescue civilians wounded in the ongoing aerial bombardment,” Horrya Press, an opposition website said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor that has researchers throughout the war-torn country, said at least seven people were killed in Wednesday’s attacks on Idlib. SAMS is a Syrian-American non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing medical relief to victims of Syria’s civil war.”


Military Times: Iraq Takes Security Measures Following Mysterious Blasts

“Iraq on Thursday banned unauthorized flights and ordered all military camps and munitions warehouses to be moved outside Iraqi cities following a massive explosion at a munitions depot southwest of Baghdad that killed one civilian and wounded 13 earlier this week. The exact cause of Monday night's explosion at the al-Saqr military base is still unknown. The blast shook the Iraqi capital and sent explosives and mortar shells shooting into the sky, damaging nearby homes and terrifying residents who ran into the streets with their cellphones. Black smoke billowed over the city for hours afterward. The federal police base houses a weapons depot belonging to a militia group under the umbrella of the mainly Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. The state-sanctioned PMF militias have fought alongside Iraq’s regular armed forces against the Islamic State group. Some officials blamed the explosion at the base, also known as Falcon Camp, on faulty storage that caused overheating amid typically high temperatures in Baghdad. But the blast has also given rise to a host of theories, including that Israel may have conducted an airstrike. Israel has struck Iranian bases in neighboring Syria on numerous occasions, and there has been speculation that it might be expanding its campaign to target Iranian bases to Iraq.”


Long War Journal: Wanted Al Qaeda Leader Warns Of Turkish Influence On Jihad In Syria

“Yesterday, a jihadist Telegram channel published a short statement (seen below) attributed to Saif al-Adel, a wanted terrorist who has worked for al Qaeda since the 1990s. The message addresses the jihadist scene in Syria, specifically dealing with the controversies surrounding relations with Turkey and Turkish-backed rebel groups.  Various pieces of evidence indicate that al-Adel has had a hand in events in Syria, most likely from afar, but he rarely issues public statements. It is for this reason, among others, that the purported statement is noteworthy.  “The battle in Syria is clear to any” who “have experience,” al-Adel writes. He expresses some skepticism with respect to the mujahideen’s ability to devise a plan to merge the factions.  Al-Adel asserts that the “clear goal” of the jihadists’ enemies “is to exterminate any organization working to return Islam to its fundamentals and Turkey and others will not accept anything other than that.” Al-Adel advises the mujahideen that they “must once again change the military theory to one that fits the situation and will succeed against the conspiracies of the enemies and against the Turkish program that the factions have agreed with.”

The Economist: How Turkey Deals With Returning Islamic State Fighters

“Suheyla remembers the day clearly. She had invited her children for dinner and was preparing her youngest son’s favourite stew. He never showed up. Neither did her four daughters. When none of them picked up the phone, she and her husband Lutfu understood what was happening. They rushed to a police station to ask the authorities to track down their children: they were headed south. A month later one of Suheyla’s daughters called. She and her siblings, the youngest 18 and the eldest 27, along with her brother’s wife and their infant son, had smuggled themselves into Syria and joined Islamic State (is). That was in late 2015. Today, three of the daughters are behind bars in Baghdad, having been captured by Iraqi forces two years ago. The fourth died in jail, two months after giving birth to a boy. Their brother, Yasin, has not been heard from in two years. Earlier this summer, Suheyla and Lutfu (not their real names) were united with two of their grandchildren, aged one and two, who were repatriated from Iraq. The toddlers were ill when they arrived. One was covered with sores, having caught scabies in the squalid prison in which he was born. He survived on his aunt’s milk.”


The New York Times: U.S. Seeks To Reassure Afghan Military Amid Uncertainty Over A Peace Deal

“The top American commander in Afghanistan sought to reassure Afghan forces on Thursday that they still had the full backing of the United States, after a report that the support was being dialed back in preparation for an imminent peace deal with the Taliban. The fighting in Afghanistan has intensified as United States diplomats and the insurgents have worked through eight rounds of negotiations in Qatar. Afghan forces and the Taliban have both sought to increase their political leverage through violence, with both sides suffering heavy casualties and civilians bearing the brunt of the attacks. But on Monday, Newsweek magazine, citing anonymous sources in Washington, said that United States personnel had been ordered to limit offensive operations against the Taliban and to stop advising Afghan forces.Gen. Austin S. Miller, who leads the American and NATO missions in Afghanistan, brushed aside such reports as “false.”  “We will continue to provide the same support we are providing today to the Afghan forces,” he told reporters in Kabul, with Afghanistan’s defense minister, Asadullah Khalid, standing at his side. General Miller added, however, that the future of the United States presence in Afghanistan would be decided by political work, in which officials are talking to both the Taliban and the Afghan government.”

The Washington Post: Uncertainty Over Election And U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks Leaves Afghanistan In Limbo

“With Taliban-U.S. peace talks failing to reach a hoped-for breakthrough this week, and the insurgents threatening to attack Afghan presidential elections next month, Afghans fear that one or both efforts will fail, leaving the country in political limbo.  As the Muslim society emerges from Eid al-Adha, a period of religious celebration and animal sacrifice that ended Wednesday, new doubts about the peace negotiations and the election have dampened the national mood and intensified debate about whether the Sept. 28 polls should be postponed to give priority to the push for peace.  President Ashraf Ghani, whose chances for reelection surged last week when his strongest competitor quit the race, declared in an Eid speech Sunday that the election is “vital” to the nation. He listed his government’s achievements, including a three-day cease-fire with the Taliban 14 months ago, and assured the public that “peace with dignity” would soon be theirs. But on Monday, the top U.S. negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the latest talks with Taliban officials in Qatar had ended and that he was returning to Washington for consultations. Khalilzad’s terse statement contrasted with previous upbeat tweets hinting that a deal was imminent.”

Reuters: Taliban, U.S. Pact In Afghanistan Could Boost Islamic State

“A deal between the Taliban and the United States for U.S. forces to withdraw from their longest-ever war in Afghanistan could drive some diehard Taliban fighters into the arms of the Islamic State militant group, Afghan officials and militants say. Such a deal is expected to see the United States agree to withdraw its forces in exchange for a Taliban promise they will not let Afghanistan be used to plot international militant attacks. As part of the pact, the Taliban are expected to make a commitment to power-sharing talks with the U.S.-backed government and work out a ceasefire. The Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K), after an old name for the region, first appeared in eastern Afghanistan in 2014, and has since made inroads into other areas, particularly the north. The U.S. military estimates their strength at 2,000 fighters. Some Afghan officials estimated the number is higher, and could be about to get a boost. ”It’s a big opportunity for Daesh to recruit fighters from the Taliban, and, no doubt, many Taliban fighters will happily join,” said Sohrab Qaderi, a member of the provincial council in Nangarhar province on the border with Pakistan, referring to IS.”

CNN: Trump To Meet Security Officials On Afghanistan As Concerns Mount About US Withdrawal

“President Trump is expected to meet with his top national security advisers on Friday to review a US-Taliban peace plan that could end America's longest running war -- but could also trigger a surrender for the US and a betrayal of the Afghan government, critics say. Trump is expected to meet at his Bedminster golf resort with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton, according to two sources familiar with the planning. Several defense officials tell CNN that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford are expected to be present. The major topic will be Afghanistan and the plan that Taliban negotiator, Zalmay Khalilizad, has been working on for months to end the conflict there, according to two sources familiar with the planning. The peace plan is expected to formalize a significant withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan -- from about 15,000 troops to 8,000 or 9,000 troops -- and enshrine official commitments by the Taliban to counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan, according to the multiple sources familiar with the plan.”

Xinhua: Afghan Forces Kill 60 Militants, Recapture Villages In Afghanistan: Official

“Security forces have killed 60 militants and recaptured more than 100 villages from Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan's Ghor province over the past nearly one month, deputy provincial Police Chief Wahidullah Nizami said Friday. “The security forces during constant crackdowns on the Taliban rebels over the past nearly one month have killed at least 60 armed insurgents, injured more than 100 and recaptured 108 villages in areas and districts around the provincial capital of Firoz Koh,” Nizami told Xinhua. Without providing information on the possible casualties of security personnel, the official added that the operations would last until the militants are wiped out from the restive province. At the meantime, Zabiullah Majahid who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit, in contact with media has confirmed fighting in Ghor province but rejected the claim made by Nizami. Majahid in coutner-claim, said that the Taliban militants had gained ground in the troubled Ghor province over the past couple of months.”


Deutsche Welle: Kashmir Crisis: India-Pakistan Border Clashes 'Kill Several Soldiers'

“Cross-border skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani armies have killed at least five people, the Pakistani military said on Thursday. Pakistan said a number of its troops died in the Indian attack, whereas a counterattack by the Pakistani border forces also killed Indian soldiers. There was no immediate confirmation of the attacks from Indian officials. Tensions in the Himalayan region are high due to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to strip the India-administered Jammu & Kashmir region of a special autonomous status on August 5. Pakistan and India both rule the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir in part, but claim it in full. The restive region is a flash point between the nuclear-armed archrivals. The latest border clashes invoke fears of a larger military conflict between the two South Asian neighbors. The Pakistani military said in a statement that the Indian border attacks were part of New Delhi's tactics to “divert attention” from the crisis in Kashmir. In his annual independence on Thursday, Prime Minister Modi justified his decision to revoke Kashmir's partial autonomy, saying that his “fresh thinking” would help ensure harmony in South Asia. “We do not believe in creating problems or prolonging them,” Modi told the nation.”


The Telegraph: Al Qaeda Releases 'Blooper Reel' Of Islamic State Videos Amid Jihadi Spat

“Al-Qaeda has released embarrassing outtakes from an Islamic State propaganda video of fighters in Yemen, in an attempt to undermine its bitter rival. The blooper reel, released by Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula’s Hidayah Media Productions, shows a kneeling militant trying to renew his pledge of allegiance to Isil leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi but repeatedly being interrupted by a squawking bird in the tree above. The jihadi, identified as Abu Muhammad al-Adeni, appears to be distracted by the chirping, causing him to forget his lines.  He takes out notes from his pocket, while another fighter can be heard telling him to “stay calm, keep cool”.  The media group does not reveal how it got hold of the unedited version of the video, but it could have been handed over by an Isil defector or taken from a captured base. Analysts said the video, which Al-Qaeda’s titled “The Hollywood reality of al-Baghdadi group - Part 2” was produced by Islamic State’s branch in Yemen in 2017, when the group was growing in strength. Elizabeth Kendall, a Middle East expert at Oxford University, who first shared the video on Twitter wrote: “Heroic bird relentlessly drowns out ISIS-Y's attempt to renew allegiance to the caliph,” in reference to the Yemeni affiliate of Isil.”


The National: Hezbollah A Threat To Lebanon, Pompeo Tells Visiting Hariri

“Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, ending a five-day trip to Washington, on Thursday met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who pledged continued support for Lebanon's state institutions and said Hezbollah and its backer Iran were threats. The two had a 40-minute meeting, their second in less than six months. Speaking later alongside Mr Hariri, Mr Pompeo said the US would continue to support the “credible state institutions inside Lebanon. They are essential to preserving Lebanese security, stability and sovereignty”. “This is a region that is threatened by Iran, and a nation that is threatened by its proxy Hezbollah,” he said. Mr Pompeo thanked Lebanon for hosting more than one million Syrian refugees and hoped the country would make necessary reforms to unlock international economic help. Mr Hariri called Mr Pompeo a great friend of Lebanon and thanked him for the support to the armed forces, which is estimated at $70 million a year. “I reaffirmed our joint commitment to the fight against terrorism,” he said. Mr Hariri also added his support to the continuing negotiation process with Israel, led by the US, on the maritime border.”

Middle East

The Federalist: It’s Time To Officially Acknowledge That Qatar Is A State Sponsor Of Terrorism

“Qatar boasts the world’s second-largest gross domestic product per capita. The wealthy oil emirate operates Qatar Airways, one of the world’s largest airlines. It hosts one of the world’s most influential state-sponsored news sources, Al Jazeera, and maintains significant influence in higher American education, donating more than $1.5 billion to some of America’s most well-known universities: the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina, Northwestern, Texas A&M, and Cornell. For all its “contributions,” however, Qatar also has a dark side. It openly supports and harbors terrorists to a disproportionate and unparalleled degree for its size. Qatar’s actions prompted President Trump to recognize Qatar’s terror funding as being “on [a] very high level.” Despite this recognition, American administrations, even those as critical as Trump’s, have sidestepped the truth about this terrorism-sponsoring country. Instead, they have tended to celebrate the tens of billions of dollars that Qatar spends on American military and commercial equipment, as well as Qatar’s hospitality in allowing the stationing of thousands of U.S. troops.”


The Defense Post: ‘Boko Haram’ Attacks Nigeria Military Base In Molai, Near Maiduguri

“Three Nigerian soldiers were killed during a gun battle with insurgents in a village on the outskirts of Borno state capital Maiduguri early on Thursday, August 15, according to reports. The Daily Post reported that militants believed to be from the Islamic State West Africa Province faction of Boko Haram attacked a military location in Molai village, near Mammanti, around five km (three miles) south of Maiduguri. A local vigilante told Daily Post that three soldiers were killed and others injured in the firefight. “Boko Haram sacked the military base until fighter aeroplane came and cleared them. We saw the military evacuating their people both killed and wounded early this morning,” he said. Channels TV reported that fighting ended at around 2:30 a.m. The Nigerian Army has not yet commented on the incident. It is unclear which faction of Boko Haram attacked the base. Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016. One, led by long-time leader Abubakar Shekau, is notorious for suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings of civilians. Shekau pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in March 2015, but ISIS central only gives formal backing to the other faction,  which it calls Islamic State West Africa Province. Both factions are active in the region south of Maiduguri.”

Foreign Policy: Nigeria’s Child Veterans Are Still Living A Nightmare

“Kellumi was abducted by Boko Haram fighters when he was 14. Among the killings he committed after being pressed into the ranks of the infamously brutal Islamist militant insurgency, there is one victim he cannot bear to think about—his own mother. He turned himself in to Nigeria’s army two years ago. When I spoke to Kellumi in October 2018, whose name has been changed for safety reasons, he was 10 months into a deradicalization program at Operation Safe Corridor, the Nigerian government’s offering for former Boko Haram members. He was still plagued by nightmares from the three years he spent fighting. He asked a staff member at the camp, “Would God forgive me?” Boko Haram’s exploitation of young people is infamous. Kellumi is just one of at least 8,000 children and teenagers abducted by the group since they started menacing the Lake Chad Basin. They have taken the lives of almost 4,000 more, and beyond that, they have left almost double that number with serious injuries. Although the group often targets children, it was undoubtedly the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok in 2014 that catapulted the Salafi jihadi group into the international spotlight, with the likes of America’s then-first lady Michelle Obama and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby calling for action and prayers.”


Voice Of America: Somalia Assesses Al-Shabab Moles' Infiltration Of Government

“The July 24 suicide bombing that killed the mayor of Somalia's capital was disturbing on multiple levels, security experts say. Abdirahman Omar Osman was slain by one of his own aides, who was female and blind, and who acted in concert with another one of his employees, also female. Besides those unsettling facts, Osman's death highlighted a cold, hard reality: militant group al-Shabab had again infiltrated an important Somali government entity. The government's long-running battle to subdue the al-Qaida-linked militants has been hobbled by al-Shabab's infiltration of government agencies, offices and security teams. In April this year, authorities arrested the commissioner of Mahaas, a town in central Somalia, for facilitating an al-Shabab suicide bombing that killed the commissioner's deputy. In 2016, a court convicted Abdiweli Mohamed Maow, the head of Mogadishu airport security, for helping to smuggle a laptop computer bomb onto a outbound flight. The bomb exploded 15 minutes after takeoff but miraculously failed to bring down the plane, which safely returned to the Mogadishu airport.”


ABC News: Man In Sweden Suspected Of Conspiracy To Commit Terror

“Swedish prosecutors say a man arrested in northern Sweden who initially was suspected of planning a murder is now suspected of conspiracy to commit terrorism. In a statement, the Swedish Prosecution Authority said Thursday no further details were available pending the investigation but added the man, who was not identified, is to face a pre-trial custody hearing later in the day or Friday. He was arrested Wednesday in downtown Ostersund, a town of 50,000 some 475 kilometers (295 miles), northwest of Stockholm. Swedish broadcaster SVT said the man was arrested when he drove into a large flower pot and items found in his car made police suspicious.”

New Zealand

The Wall Street Journal: Letter From Jailed New Zealand Shooter Was Posted Online

“The white supremacist charged in the New Zealand mosque attacks that killed 51 people was permitted to send letters to supporters from jail, authorities in the country said, including one that was posted to a forum that has been a home for racist and violent views. Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian accused of shooting attacks at two Christchurch mosques, sent a number of letters from his cell in the country’s only maximum-security jail, New Zealand Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said Thursday, in violation of rules meant to limit his ability to inspire fresh violence. One, addressed to an admirer in Russia, was shared on an online forum called 4chan that has long been a home for people who want to discuss racist or violent views. “There is a process, and in this case the process failed,” Mr. Davis told New Zealand radio. “I’ve asked the question: Are our laws as they stand actually fit for purpose?” Following the March 15 massacre, the deadliest terrorist attack in New Zealand history, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged to counter the spread of terrorist content online. The shooter detailed his growing radicalization on social media, and parts of the attacks were live-streamed on sites including Facebook.”

Southeast Asia

The Jakarta Post: Tempering Fear Of Returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters

“Indonesia has an imminent returning foreign terrorist fighter (FTF) challenge. The latest data from Indonesia’s Countering Foreign Terrorist Fighters Task Force showed that the state has received more than 600 deportees and returnees, while still needing to deal with around 630 Indonesian citizens still in Syria and Iraq. Indonesia should acknowledge that statistical and qualitative assessments of the threat of returning FTFs conclude mixed and nuanced results. While the state should not ignore their threat, they should not exaggerate it either. Returning FTFs is not a new phenomenon. During the Afghan-Soviet War of 1978 to 1992, between 5,000 to 10,000 individuals flocked to the conflict zone to assist local Afghan fighters.”