Eye on Extremism: August 23

Business Insider: Trump's Threat To Dump Thousands Of ISIS Fighters Into Europe Could End Up Hurting Its Fiercest Ally In Syria

“President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to dump thousands of ISIS prisoners in Europe if the countries they originated from refused to take them back in.  Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump specifically mentioned France and Germany as two countries where its citizens who pledged their loyalty to ISIS could be dropped off. ”We're holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now, and Europe has to take them,” Trump said. “If Europe doesn't take them, I'll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came, which is Germany and France and other places.”  Trump's suggestion for the US to release the prisoners comes amid plans to reduce its 2,000 troops in Syria, stoking fears of a rekindling of the jihadist movement throughout the country and beyond and ultimately hurting the global fight against ISIS. This leaves a precarious situation for the Syrian Democratic Forces, a US-backed Kurdish group that relies on the presence of US personnel — and has the responsibility of holding thousands of prisoners in makeshift facilities. SDF is detaining the lion's share of ISIS fighters. The SDF had detained 9,000 militants in Syria by April, according to US military officials. The military also estimated 1,000 of them hailed from 50 different countries.”

The National Interest: ISIS Vs. Al Qaeda: What Lies In The Future Of Global Jihadism?

“The fall-out from the split between IS and al-Qaeda has led to a competition viewed by both sides as zero sum in nature, where progress by one of these groups signaled a loss for the other. One of the primary drivers of such a heated competition is that, in many ways, the ideology and objectives of the group are so similar. The Islamic State reverted to extreme levels of violence as one method of differentiating itself from its rivals, including al-Qaeda. Both groups are attempting to recruit from the same milieus and influence similar constituencies. The main differences are that IS sought to create a caliphate on a timeline considered premature by al-Qaeda, and IS pursued a far more sectarian agenda in attempting to achieve this objective. Whether and how these differences are ever resolved will have a major impact on the future of the movement writ large. The split itself occurred at the leadership levels of these groups, so one of the most interesting questions is: to what extent do foot soldiers and mid-level commanders really care, in actuality, about the previous infighting and strategic disputes?”

The Daily Beast: America’s Key To Keeping ISIS Defeated

“Eastern Syria sits at the crossroads of critical policy decisions in Washington. The region is at the center of an escalating crisis in U.S.-Turkey relations, while maintaining America’s presence there blocks Iranian and Russian gains in Syria. It also is key to keeping ISIS defeated. Washington should see eastern Syria as one of the most important strategic pieces of “real estate” to emerge out of the last half-decade of conflict in the Middle East. The area of northeast Syria where the U.S. today plays a critical role, roughly the size of West Virginia, is now a kind of Gordian Knot. While American adversaries, such as Russia or Iran, have a clear goal in Syria, keeping the Bashar al-Assad regime in power and entrenching their influence, the U.S. policy goal is less clear. Turkey, a historic U.S. ally, recently threatened to launch a military operation into eastern Syria against key U.S. partners who helped defeat the so-called Islamic State, leaving Washington with a devil’s bargain: leave eastern Syria and watch five years of fighting ISIS and working with local forces collapse, or continue to fuel a crisis with Turkey. The U.S. chose a temporary solution, telling Ankara it would work on a “safe zone” along the Syria-Turkey border.”

Reuters: Ninth Round Of U.S., Taliban Peace Talks Start In Qatar

“The United States and the Taliban officials resumed talks in Qatar on Thursday to firm up a deal enabling the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in return for the Taliban security guarantees, the Taliban and senior U.S. official said. After 18 years of war and months of direct talks with the Taliban leaders, the United States appears to be at the cusp of reaching a deal that could allow a pullout of foreign forces followed by a ceasefire between the warring sides. Two Taliban spokesmen said the ninth round of talks between the United States and the Taliban representatives started on Thursday evening, and a senior U.S. official privy to the peace negotiations said the “crucial meeting iron out smaller details had begun” in Qatar’s capital city, Doha. About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are now in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.”

United States

The National: US Offers $5m Reward For Information On Three ISIS Deputies

“The US State Department is offering $5 million per head for information leading to the capture of three prominent ISIS deputies. The Dh11.7m bounty, part of the US Rewards for Justice programme compensating sources for information, was announced on Wednesday and applies to ISIS leaders Amir Muhammad Said Abdal-Rahman Al Mawla, Sami Jasim Muhammad Al Jaburi, and Mu‘taz Numan ‘Abd Nayif Najm Al Jaburi. Al Mawla, also known as Hajji Abdullah, is listed by the State Department as a religious scholar who was formerly a member of Al Qaeda in Iraq. He has risen through the ranks to become a potential successor to ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.  Both the Al Jaburis hold important positions within ISIS, the US said. “As ISIS is defeated on the battlefield, we are determined to identify and find the group’s leaders so that the global coalition of nations fighting to defeat ISIS can continue to destroy ISIS remnants and thwart its global ambitions,” a statement on the Rewards For Justice website read.  The offer of cash for tips on the whereabouts of extremists is not uncommon, but the timing of this latest announcement shows ISIS is still a priority for the US government, according to Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute.”

The Hill: Texas Governor Meets With Tech Firms To Discuss Combating Extremism

“Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is reportedly meeting with tech executives on Thursday to discuss combating extremism in the wake of a mass shooting that killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, earlier this month. Representatives from Google, Twitter and Facebook are slated to meet with the governor to discuss possible measures to fight the threat of online extremism, The Associated Press reported. FBI officials and state lawmakers will also be part of the roundtable discussion, according to the AP. The suspect accused of gunning down 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso allegedly posted a manifesto online ahead of the attack warning of a “Hispanic invasion.” A small group of gun rights advocates rallied outside the state Capitol before Thursday's meeting, the AP reported. A day after the El Paso attack, nine people were killed in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. The back-to-back shootings, which killed more than 30 people, have renewed pushes for tougher gun control laws at the federal level. Congress is expected to revisit the issue in some fashion when lawmakers return to Washington next month.”

New York Post: Don’t Toss Our Gains Against ISIS Down The Drain

“Uh-oh: ISIS is back — and it’s regaining strength in Iraq and Syria.Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged that Tuesday, following a similar report by the inspector general for the US military campaign against the terror group. According to the IG report, “ISIS remains a threat,” it has “continued its transition from a territory-holding force to an insurgency in Syria” and it has “intensified its insurgency in Iraq.” The US-backed Syrian Defense Forces expelled ISIS from its last piece of Syrian-held territory in April, but Islamic State fighters fled to the northeast, where cells still exist. Between then and June, ISIS militants waged “targeted assassinations, ambushes, suicide bombings and the burning of crops.” One key problem: The drop in US troops in the region has left the SDF and Iraqi Security Forces unable to maintain sufficient pressure on ISIS, which has “reorganized its leadership and established safe havens in rural Sunni-majority areas” in Iraq. In Afghanistan, meanwhile, ISIS claimed credit for bombing a wedding in Kabul that claimed the lives of 80 guests last weekend. Pompeo insists the caliphate is still dead and ISIS’ “capacity to conduct external attacks has been made much more difficult.”

Syria

The Jerusalem Post: Global Irresponsibility: The Lack Of ISIS War Crimes Trials

“Four years ago a shrine named Mar Elian in Syria near the town of al-Qaryatain was bulldozed by Islamic State. It had existed since the sixth century, and was a site of devotion for Christians as well as locals. It was one of many crimes of ISIS that stretch from Iraq to Syria and beyond. Yet few have been prosecuted for these crimes, and there have been no war crimes trials charging senior or mid-level ISIS members with the systematic genocide and destruction that they wrought on communities throughout the Middle East. In almost every other example of genocide since the Holocaust, trials have been held or at least countries have sought to prosecute criminals from the regimes involved. This includes the Nuremberg trials (November 1945 to October 1946), the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (established 1997), the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (1993), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (1994) and the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigations in Darfur (2005). However imperfect some of these tribunals and UN-linked attempts have been, they place a clear stamp of international condemnation on the crimes involved and the perpetrators who have been detained.”

Xinhua: Chinese Envoy Stresses Need To Continue Fighting Terrorism In Syria

“Visiting China's special envoy for Syria Xie Xiaoyan on Thursday underscored the need for a continued fight against terrorist groups in Syria. At a press briefing in Damascus, Xie stressed that the war on terrorism hasn't ended yet. “There should be a continuation in fighting terrorism because, despite the progress achieved in fighting terrorism, this process hasn't ended yet,” he said. The Islamic State (IS) group, he said, has been largely defeated, but some of its followers are trying to re-emerge. “We believe that there should be a complete elimination of all the groups that have been branded as terrorists by the UN,” he said. Xie urged respect for the Syrian sovereignty. “The Chinese side has repeatedly stressed on many occasions the need to respect the Syrian sovereignty and its territorial integrity and to preserve Syria from fragmentation,” he said. The political process in Syria must serve the reconstruction process, he said.”

Iran

Al Jazeera: Iran Unveils New Missile Defence System, Calls US Talks 'Useless'

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has inducted a locally built air-defence system into the country's missile defence network at an unveiling ceremony in the capital, Tehran. The display of the new system, Bavar-373, on Tuesday came amid heightened tensions with the United States, which last year unilaterally withdrew from a multinational nuclear deal signed between world powers and Iran and reimposed crippling sanctions on it. Iranian officials have previously called Bavar, which means “believe” in Farsi, the country's first domestically produced long-range missile defence system. Iran began production after the purchase of Russia's S-300 system was suspended in 2010 due to international sanctions that have barred it from importing many weapons. It installed the stalled S-300 system in March 2016 following several years of delays in the wake of the now-crumbling 2015 nuclear deal. Speaking at the ceremony, Rouhani said the mobile surface-to-air system was “better than S-300 and close to [more advanced] S-400.” With a range of more than 200km, Iran's official IRNA news agency said the long-range missile system is suited to the country's geography. In his speech, Rouhani also struck a muscular tone on dealings with the US, saying that “talks are useless” over the nuclear deal."

Iraq

The New York Times: Israeli Airstrike Hits Weapons Depot In Iraq

“Israel has carried out an airstrike on a weapons depot in Iraq that officials said was being used by Iran to move weapons to Syria, an attack that could destabilize Iraq and thrust it deeper into the conflict between the United States and Iran. The attack, believed to be the first Israeli bombing in Iraq in nearly four decades, represents an expansion of the military campaign Israel has carried out against Iranian targets in Syria. The Israeli attack last month was one of several recent attacks on weapons storage facilities controlled by Iraqi militias with ties to Iran. It was not clear who carried out the other attacks, which have set Iraq on edge as it struggles to recover from nearly 40 years of war and instability. Responding to the attacks on Thursday, Iraq’s national security adviser, Falih al-Fayadh, said that Iraq wanted to avoid taking sides in any struggle between Iran and other countries and being “pushed into a war.” “The Iraqi government and especially its security agencies and armed forces will take all measures necessary to protect Iraq and its people and to deter any attempts at destabilization,” he said. He said the government had yet to determine who was behind the attacks. A senior Middle Eastern intelligence official said that Israel had bombed a base north of Baghdad on July 19.”

The National: Iraq’s Hezbollah Threatens Missile Attacks On US Bases After Arms Depot Explosions

“A powerful pro-Iranian militia in Iraq has threatened to attack American bases if explosions such as those at four of its warehouses continued, despite the US denying any involvement. The Iraqi militia Kataib Hezbollah, which operates under the pro-Iran Popular Mobilisation Forces, whose warehouses were targets in the attacks, threatened on Thursday to strike back.  “We are sending a final warning to the American enemy that any new targeting will be followed with a decisive and harsh response,” the group said on messaging platform Telegram. “Your forts will not protect you as they are all within our missiles' reach.” The statement follows explosions between July 19 and August 20 at PMF ammunition warehouses. “The US is not involved in the recent warehouse explosions in Iraq,” a US defence official told The National. He said the American presence in Iraq was to support efforts against terror groups such as ISIS, and that Washington was adhering to new Iraqi government directives. Those directives, issued after the first two explosions, require all aircraft to seek permission before flying in Iraqi airspace. Satellite imagery was released on Thursday of the attack this week that hit near the Balad air base in Salaheddin province.”

Long War Journal: Al Qaeda Veteran Reportedly Killed In Idlib

“Al Qaeda-affiliated Telegram channels reported earlier today that Abu Khallad al-Muhandis, a veteran jihadist, was killed in a bombing in Idlib. These same channels posted photos of the car he was traveling in when a bomb exploded. It appears he was killed in a targeted assassination, as his car was specifically destroyed. (Another nearby vehicle was collateral damage.)  The jihadist comrades who commented on Muhandis’s death did not blame any specific party. One blamed the “treachery” of some unknown traitors. But the authors of the attack are unknown.  Some of the jihadists who mourned Muhandis posted reminders of his impressive jihadi pedigree. One short biography reminds readers of his time in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, where he was detained.  There are a few men known as Khallad, or Abu Khallad, in al Qaeda circles. But it appears that the recently departed Abu Khallad al-Muhandis (meaning “the engineer”) is the same man who has gone by the name Sari Shihab. (FDD’s Long War Journal will update this report if the identification changes.) Shihab was a close friend of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the founder of al Qaeda in Iraq, and the two worked together. Shihab, a fellow Jordanian, was also from Zarqa.”

Turkey

Reuters: Three Turkish Soldiers Killed In Clash With Kurdish Militants

“Three Turkish soldiers were killed in a clash with Kurdish militants in southeast Turkey near the borders with Syria and Iraq, the local governor’s office said on Thursday. Three militants from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were “neutralized” in the fighting, the Sirnak governor’s office said in a written statement. It said the soldiers were maintaining security for state energy company Turkish Petroleum (TPAO) near the town of Silopi in Sirnak when the clash broke out on Wednesday. The militants had previously been spotted by a drone in the same area, it said. The PKK, designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and European Union, launched an insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984. More than 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict.”

Daily Sabah: Support For Terrorism Main Reason Behind Mayor Suspensions

“The suspensions of the mayors of three southeastern provinces were the result of the mayors' monetary and psychological support for the PKK terrorist organization, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said Thursday. “There is a network giving money, strategy and psychological support [to the PKK]. For this reason, we took a step on Monday, as you know,” Soylu said. According to an official statement by the Interior Ministry on Monday, the mayors of Diyarbakır, Mardin and Van  provinces – Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, Ahmet Türk and Bedia Özgökçe Ertan, respectively – have been suspended for supporting terrorism. The state-appointed governors of the provinces will temporarily replace the suspended mayors as trustees.  The statement added that the mayors already had active cases against them in which they were accused of crimes such as establishing or spreading propaganda for a terror group or just being a member. “We have done nothing wrong. If we conduct an armed struggle in the mountains [against the terrorist organization], we had to take this step as well. Because both moral support and food supplies are going from those municipalities to terrorists,” Soylu further underlined, referring to the ongoing military counterterrorism operations in the region.”

Afghanistan

The Washington Post: Even In The Midst Of Afghan Peace Talks, The Taliban Still Deny Al Qaeda Was Behind 9/11

“The United States is in the midst of peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan that could lead to a deal to withdraw American troops from the country in return for the Taliban disavowing al Qaeda. But in an interview this week, the Taliban’s top spokesperson claimed that al Qaeda was not the perpetrator of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 in the United States — the act of terrorism that prompted the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and sparked a conflict that has lasted almost two decades. “It is not known who is behind that,” Suhail Shaheen told CBS News during an interview in Qatar, where talks with the United States are taking place. “If there is proof given to us, we are ready to try him.” The denial of al Qaeda’s involvement in the 9/11 attacks has a long history in Afghanistan and across the political spectrum there, with conspiracy theories flourishing just as they have in much of the world. These ideas are not limited to groups like the Taliban, which espouses a fundamentalist view of Islamism that shares similarities with al Qaeda’s worldview: during an interview with Al Jazeera in 2015, former U.S.-backed Afghan president Hamid Karzai said it was a “fact” that 9/11 had not been plotted in Afghanistan and suggested that al Qaeda was a “myth.”

The Washington Post: Yes, The Taliban Has Changed — It’s Gotten Much Better At PR

“The United States is seeking peace with the Taliban. Negotiations in the Qatar capital of Doha could shortly yield an agreement between the two sides that will set a schedule for the gradual withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan. Afghans are watching with apprehension as they wonder whether such a deal might allow the long-feared Islamist militants to regain power. The Taliban who are taking part in the talks seem starkly different from the fanatical primitives who drew the world’s attention in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Eighteen years ago, the headlines focused on public executions in sports stadiums, bans on music and television, and the deliberate destruction of archaeological treasures. Women accused of adultery were stoned to death, and girls were imprisoned behind family walls. Today, by contrast, Western media are presenting stories about young Taliban fighters playing cricket, hugging government security forces during religious festivals and raising normal families. Even Afghans themselves are expressing surprise at the sophistication of the insurgent negotiators. Afghan women who recently joined discussions in Doha marveled that the Taliban delegates sat across from them and engaged in direct dialogue, unthinkable in the recent past.”

Pakistan

Gulf News: Pakistan Blacklisted By FATF Subgroup For Terror Funding

“The Asia-Pacific Group (APG), a regional affiliate of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has placed the Pakistan in the “Enhanced Expedited Follow Up List (Blacklist)” for its failure to meet its standards. In its meeting in Canberra, the APG found that Pakistan was non-compliant on 32 of the 40 compliance parameters of terror financing and money laundering, officials said. The FATF APG discussions lasted over seven hours over two days. On 11 effectiveness parameters Pakistan was adjudged as low on 10. However, the Pakistan Finance Ministry on Friday categorically rejected certain media reports about Pakistan being blacklisted by the Asia-Pacific Group, the regional affiliate of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), reports APP. The ministry termed these reports as incorrect and baseless. “Media reports being circulated about Pakistan being blacklisted by APG are incorrect and baseless,” the Finance Ministry said. Pakistan had submitted a compliance report on its 27-point action plan to the FATF -- the global watchdog for terror financing and money laundering -- as three separate evaluations would determine the country's possible exit from the grey list by October.”

Saudi Arabia

CNN: US Defense Secretary Esper Appears To Confirm Death Of Bin Laden's Son

“US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper appeared to confirm Wednesday that the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's son Hamza bin Laden is dead. ”That's my understanding,” Esper told Fox News in an interview when asked if Hamza bin Laden was dead. Asked if the US had any role in his death, Esper responded: “I don't have the details on that. And if I did, I'm not sure how much I could share with you.” US officials told CNN last month that the US had assessed that Hazma Bin Laden was dead but provided few details. Earlier this year, the US State Department called bin Laden, who was believed to be in his early 30s, an “emerging” leader in al Qaeda, offering a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture. The State Department said items seized from the elder bin Laden's hiding place in Pakistan during the Navy SEAL raid that resulted in his death indicated he was grooming Hamza bin Laden to replace him as al Qaeda's leader. He married the daughter of a senior al Qaeda leader who was charged by a federal grand jury for his role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. Saudi Arabia revoked Hamza bin Laden's citizenship, official newspaper Um al-Qura reported earlier this year, citing a royal order issued to the Interior Ministry.”

Lebanon

The National: US Welcomes Paraguay's Action Against Hezbollah

“The United States has welcomed Paraguay’s decision to designate Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist organisations, describing it as an important step to cut funding and support for such groups in the western hemisphere. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington commended Paraguay “for designating Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Hamas as terrorist organisations”. “This important step will help cut off the ability of these groups to plot terrorist attacks and to raise money around the world, including in the Western Hemisphere,” Mr Pompeo said. He said the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah was “not a defender of Lebanon as it purports to be, but a terrorist organisation dedicated to advancing Iran’s malicious agenda” and compared it to Al Qaeda and ISIS in its global reach and ability to plot attacks in the Americas, the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia. The Iran-backed group is accused of involvement in drug trafficking and money laundering operations in South America to fund its activities in the Middle East, such as its military support for Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.”

Middle East

Haaretz: Two Israeli Arabs Indicted For Plotting ISIS Attacks

“Two residents of the Israeli Arab city of Tamra were arrested and indicted for assisting and plotting to carry out terror attacks on behalf of the Islamic State terror group, a Shin Bet statement released Thursday said. The Shin Bet and Israel Police arrested Amin Yassin, 22, a student studying medicine in Slovakia, and Ali Bin Armoush, 28, in a joint operation in July, on suspicion of plotting to harm Israel's security in the name of the Islamic State. Bin Armoush had been investigated in the past on suspicion of security crimes and connections to the terror group, the Shin Bet statement, which was cleared for release Thursday, said. Over the course of the investigation, the Shin Bet said they learned the two support the Islamic State, and see themselves as its emissaries until an Islamic caliphate is established in Israel. The Haifa District Prosecutor's Office presented the indictment to the Haifa District Court Thursday, accusing Armoush and Yassin of security crimes, connection to a terror organization, assisting a terror organization and other crimes. According to the indictment, Bin Armoush and Yassin supported the group throughout 2014. In 2018, the two made contact with members of the group, with whom they shared Islamic State content over the Telegram messaging service.”

The Times Of Israel: Israel Blames Islamic Jihad For Gaza Violence, Tells Hamas To Clamp Down

“The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday blamed the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad for the recent increase in violence from the Gaza Strip and called for Hamas, the de facto ruler of the enclave, to rein in the terror group. “We do not plan to accept terror attacks and rocket fire against our citizens,” the IDF’s Arabic-language spokesperson Avichay Adraee tweeted. Adraee was referring to a number of rocket and mortar attacks directed against southern Israel and infiltration attempts along the border in recent days. Rockets were fired at Israel from the enclave late Wednesday and early Thursday, prompting Israeli reprisal attacks. There were no injuries in the Palestinian rocket attacks. The Islamic Jihad is the second most powerful terror group in the Gaza Strip after Hamas. Israel has routinely accused the Iran-backed group of seeking to derail its unofficial ceasefire agreements with Hamas by carrying out attacks from Gaza. “Hamas, as the ruler of the Strip, must enforce its authority over Islamic Jihad and prevent these terror attacks and plots,” Adraee said. The spokesman said Islamic Jihad is responsible for any failure to implement the conditions of the ceasefire agreements and that it will “suffer the consequences” for these activities.”

Libya

Asharq Al-Awsat: LNA Accuses Qatar Of Being 'Terrorism Base'

“The Libyan National Army (LNA) – commanded by Chief Marshal Khalifa Haftar – accused Qatar again of becoming a base for terrorism in Libya. LNA spokesman Ahmed Mesmari described Qatar as the base for terrorism in Libya and other countries that witnessed terrorist attacks. During a press conference on Wednesday in Benghazi, Mesmari said that the battle of the army is huge because it counters terrorism and countries standing behind it. Further, Head of Libya's Government of National Accord Fayez al-Sarraj chaired a meeting in Tripoli on Wednesday to discuss the oil topic. During the meeting, which was attended by government officials, Sarraj was briefed on the battle updates. The meeting also discussed security conditions in Murzuq‎, and tackling the issue of refugees there as well as aid delivery to them. Moreover, UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame and Foreign Minister Carmelo Abela stressed during a meeting on Wednesday the necessity of resuming the political process as a sole solution for ending the Libyan crisis. The UN mission revealed that the meeting tackled the latest developments in Libya and the UN efforts on immigration.”

Somalia

Bloomberg: Somalia State Key To War On Islamist Militants Re-Elects Leader

“Somalia’s southern state of Jubaland extended its leader’s rule by four years in an election that will have repercussions extending beyond a region that’s at the forefront of a battle against al-Qaeda-linked militants. Mohamed Islam Madobe won 56 votes in the state parliament, while his closest rival, Anab Mohamed Dahir, secured 17, Speaker Sheikh Abdi Mohamed announced Thursday. Madobe has ruled the territory for six years and made some headway in a war with al-Shabaab, an extremist group that stages frequent attacks in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, and has struck nearby countries, including Kenya and Uganda. The election in Jubaland was closely watched by a central government that’s seeking regional allies before next year’s national election and is struggling to firm up a federation of states that includes Jubaland, Puntland and Somaliland. The states and are jostling for more autonomy and control over oil, gas and other resources. Jubaland won some political autonomy in 2013. The central government is wary of Madobe, who leads a powerful militia known as Ras Kamboni that’s previously fought alongside Kenyan troops against al-Shabaab to recapture a port in Kismayo city in 2012.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Are DRC, Mozambique Insurgencies A Real IS Threat?

“Experts are warning that a focus on alleged Islamist militant ties is hindering efforts to respond to insurgencies in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Local insurgent groups have claimed ties to Islamic State to increase their clout, but the groups operate autonomously, experts who study the regions say. On April 18, a strike on an army base near the Congo’s border with Uganda left several Congolese soldiers dead and others injured. It was the first attack credited to Wilayat Central Africa, previously known as the Allied Democratic Forces, a group that has pledged allegiance to IS.A month later, an IS group took responsibility for attacks in northeastern Mozambique, part of a growing insurgency in the country led by several groups, including Ahlu Sunnah wa-Jama and al-Shabab. The latter group, consisting of about 1,000 fighters who operate in decentralized units, shares its name but no known connection with the Somali terrorist organization. On July 24, IS released a video featuring a man named “Sheikh Abu Abdul Rahman” who called for an end to division and infighting among Muslims in Central Africa. He also called for the creation of a caliphate. The video features heavily armed fighters in a forested area pledging allegiance to IS.”

Brookings: Corruption And Terrorism: The Case Of Kenya

“Around the world, corruption poses a major threat, contributing to many of the crises that have plagued economies and democracies over the past decade. One aspect of corruption that receives too little attention is the link between corruption and the success of terrorism. Research has shown that high levels of corruption increase the number of terrorist attacks originating in a country. This impact has been felt in key battlegrounds against extremism, including Afghanistan, Nigeria, Iraq, and Kenya, at times derailing efforts to defeat terrorism. To illustrate the ways in which corruption can impact and distort a counterterrorism campaign, we look to the case of Kenya, a key recipient of U.S. counterterrorism aid that suffers from severe corruption. Since 2006, Kenya has been a prime target of al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliate originating in Somalia. In the past several years, high-profile attacks including the 2013 Westgate shopping mall siege, the 2015 shooting at Garissa University College, and this January’s hotel bombing in Nairobi have galvanized the fight against al-Shabab. Yet, little progress has been made. Widespread corruption has rendered U.S.-funded Kenyan counterterrorism efforts ineffective, and efforts to combat corruption repeatedly fail.”

Xinhua: AU Strongly Condemns Terrorist Attack In Burkina Faso That Killed 24 Soldiers

“Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Thursday condemned a recent terrorist attack that targeted a military base in Burkina Faso that left at least 24 soldiers dead. Terrorists on Monday attacked a military base in northern Burkina Faso, killing at least 24 soldiers while injuring a dozen others. “The Chairperson condemns, in the strongest terms possible, the heinous terrorist attack on August 19 on a military base in Koutougou in the north of Burkina Faso that left at least 24 soldiers dead and others wounded,” an AU statement issued on Thursday read. He reiterated the AU's solidarity with the government and people of Burkina Faso “in their efforts in preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism in all their manifestations in the country.” He further reaffirmed the pan African bloc's “strong rejection of all acts of terrorism and violent extremism and stresses the need for enhanced cooperation among the countries of the region and their security services to prevent and counter-terrorism and violent extremism.” The chairperson expressed his “confidence in the solidarity of the Sahel countries in combating terrorism in the Sahel region, and the efforts of the Nouakchott Process on Enhanced Security Cooperation to strengthen sharing of intelligence in the region in the fight against terrorism and extremism.”

Technology

The Guardian: The Physics Professor Who Says Online Extremists Act Like Curdled Milk

“Lone wolves. Terrorist cells. Bad apples. Viral infections. The language we use to discuss violent extremism is rife with metaphors from the natural world. As we seek to understand why some humans behave so utterly inhumanely, we rely on comparisons to biology, ecology and medicine. But what if we’ve been working in the wrong scientific discipline? What if the spread of hate is less like the spread of cancer through the proverbial body politic and more like … the formation of bubbles in a boiling pot of water? That is the contention of Neil Johnson, a professor of physics at George Washington University and the lead author on a study published this week in Nature analyzing the spread of online hate. If that sounds like an odd topic for a physicist – it is. Johnson began his career at the University of Oxford, where he published extensively on quantum information and “complexity theory”. After moving to the US in 2007, he embarked on a new course of research, applying theories from physics to complex human behavior, from financial markets and conflict zones to insurgency and terrorist recruitment. Johnson’s unusual approach has resulted in some surprising conclusions – he says all online hate globally originates from just 1,000 online “clusters” – as well as counterintuitive policy proposals.”