Eye on Extremism: August 27

The Wall Street Journal: Online Propaganda Builds Islamic State Brand In The Face Of Military Losses

“Islamic State has lost most of the territory it once held in Syria and Iraq. It is vying for survival with other, sometimes stronger, extremist groups. But one sphere where Islamic State still reigns supreme among terrorists is in cyberspace. The group’s vast online presence is a critical recruitment and marketing tool that has helped it build a brutish brand using propaganda and sometimes false claims. Maintaining the perception that Islamic State can shape the actions of loyalists has become all the more important as its territorial control, or self-declared caliphate, has almost completely collapsed. The latest example of the role of such online propaganda came on Thursday, when Islamic State’s official news outlet claimed that a man who stabbed his mother and sister to death in France had responded to its calls to attack citizens of countries that are part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the group. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb disputed the statement, saying the perpetrator was mentally unstable. That claim came a day after Islamic State released what it said was a recording of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the first in nearly a year, calling for supporters abroad to continue attacks on Western cities.”

Fox News: Leader Of ISIS Affiliate In Afghanistan Killed In Us Drone Strike, Officials Say

“The leader of an ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan, who was responsible for a spate of recent bombings that left hundreds of civilians dead, was killed in an American drone strike, U.S. officials told Fox News on Sunday. The deputy spokesperson for Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani announced the death of ISIS-K leader, Abu Sayeed Orakzai, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan spokesman Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell said. “I would also add that the United States unrelentingly continues its counterterrorism efforts against ISIS-K, Al-Qaeda, and other regional and international terrorist groups,” O'Donnell said in a statement. The airstrikes were launched in the Nangarhar province, near the border with Pakistan, according to Agence France-Presse. Ten other ISIS fighters were also killed. Next weekend, a new U.S. military commander will be taking over in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Scott Miller, the former head of Joint Special Operations Command which oversees the elite commando units Delta Force, SEAL Team 6 and the 75th Ranger Regiment. The U.S. military has doubled its air strikes in Afghanistan over the past year and increased them fivefold over 2016 levels.”

Reuters: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Egypt's Sinai Attack

“Islamic State on Sunday claimed responsibility for an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint in northern Sinai, the group’s Amaq news agency reported, saying 15 soldiers were killed or wounded in what it described as an infiltration operation. Egypt’s state news agency MENA said on Saturday that security forces foiled an attack on a checkpoint west of the city of al-Arish, and killed four militants while other fled. MENA made no reference to any casualties among security forces in the attack, but the privately owned al-Masri al-Youm newspaper reported that four policemen had died. Egyptian troops, backed by police, have since February been conducting a major operation targeting Islamist militants behind a wave of attacks against security forces and civilians. Hundreds of suspected militants have been killed or captured in the operation. Amaq said Islamic State militants targeted the Kilometre 17 checkpoint west of al-Arish, without giving any evidence or details on how many were involved. MENA, citing an unnamed source, said Egyptian police confronted the militants who tried to storm the checkpoint, killing four of them while the rest fled. The Egyptian army military campaign began after President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ordered the army and security forces to crush militants after gunmen killed hundreds of worshippers at a mosque in Sinai last November.”

Jerusalem Post: Among Syrian Rebels, Kurds And Libyans, The Middle East Remembers McCain

“In 2010 US Senator John McCain was speaking about Iran during a session of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He held up a list of threats the US had made against Iran’s regime, and pointed out that no action had yet been taken. “George Schultz, my favorite secretary of state in all the world, once said his marine drill instructor told him, ‘Never point a gun at somebody unless you’re ready to pull the trigger.’ We keep pointing the gun. We haven’t pulled a single trigger yet, and it’s about time we did.” In the Middle East, McCain is remembered as a principled supporter of US allies, of people’s quest for freedom from dictatorship and of human rights. Although critics point to statements like the one above, and his joking about “bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran” in a 2007 campaign rally to paint McCain as a warmonger, among many supporters of the Syrian rebels and Kurds, he is fondly remembered as a supporter who stood by those seeking more rights while opposing dictatorships.”

Euronews: 'Most Radical Organisation': Neo-Nazi Group Seeks To Gain Ground In Nordic Countries

“The Nordic Resistance Movement, or NMR, is a neo-Nazi organisation originally founded in Sweden that is openly anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant and anti-gay. Their goal is to create an ethnically pure pan-Nordic nation, according to the group’s website, and to deport most non-ethnic Northern European residents and dismantle the “global Zionist elite”.  “The NMR is unabashedly anti-Semitic and we’re seeing it latch onto the anti-immigrant wave,” said Josh Lipowsky, senior research analyst at the New York and London-based Counter Extremism Project. “Like other groups it is using those feelings to create a backlash against a specific target. It’s creating a scapegoat for people’s problems, so it is able to promote that idea and gain followers that way.”

United States

CBS News: Indiana Woman Charged With Helping ISIS; Attorney Calls Her ‘Victim Of Her Jihadist Husband’

“A mother of four from Indiana has been charged with providing money and tactical gear to two ISIS fighters, but she has said her husband tricked her into traveling with their children to Syria, where he died fighting for the Islamic State. Samantha Elhassani, 32, has been indicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, and one count of false statements. Elhassani, of Elkhart, allegedly provided tactical gear and funds to two unidentified ISIS fighters. Her attorney, Thomas Durkin, called the charges “wrong-headed and cruel.” He said Elhassani is “a victim of her jihadist husband (who) should be receiving treatment rather than incarceration” and that she should not be separated from her children. Earlier this year, Elhassani told CNN she left the U.S. with her husband in 2014, after he promised them a new life in his native Morocco. Instead, they traveled to Syria, where he died fighting for ISIS. Elhassani said she and her husband were planning to start a new life in his native Morocco in 2014, and her husband told her they needed to go through Hong Kong to transfer money. Instead of going from there to Morocco, her husband took the family to the Turkish border with Syria, where she said he essentially kept her prisoner in their hotel until he took them to the Syrian border to go to ISIS’s so-called caliphate.”

CNN: New Mexico Compound Suspects Allegedly Planned To Attack Atlanta's Grady Hospital

“A handwritten document titled "Phases of a Terrorist Attack." Talk of confronting and attacking "corrupt" institutions, including Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital. Jokes about dying in jihad. An underground stash of weapons and ammunition. New court documents revealed these and other details in the case against five adults who lived in squalor with 11 starving children in a ramshackle New Mexico compound. In a case infused with allegations of abuse and terrorism, prosecutors this week asked a judge to reconsider an order granting bond to all five adults arrested at the compound. As part of the request, prosecutors on Friday cited not only the death of three-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj at the remote site but also plans by the defendants to attack law enforcement and "specific targets such as teachers, schools, banks and other 'corrupt' institutions." The dead boy's father, Siraj Wahhaj, 40, and his partner, Jany Leveille, 35, have been charged with abuse of a child resulting in death, a first-degree felony with a penalty of up to life in prison, according to court documents. They were also charged with conspiracy to commit child abuse, also a first-degree felony.”

Syria

Middle East Eye: At Least 27 Sweida Hostages Held By Islamic State In Syria

“At least 27 people have been held by IS fighters in southern Syria since they were abducted during an assault on the Druze community in the city of Sweida a month ago, Human Rights Watch said Saturday. The organisation said the group had committed a "war crime" in holding the hostages, mostly women and children, as leverage for negotiations with the Syrian government and its ally Russia.  "Civilian lives should not be used as bargaining chips," said HRW's deputy Middle East director Lama Fakih. Of more than 30 people taken hostage in the July offensive, when IS killed more than 250 people in Sweida, at least two have since died. A 19-year-old male student was beheaded and a video circulated of the killing, which was not released on the group's usual channels. Later in August a 65-year-old woman died, with IS reporting she had been unwell. Additionally, two women were able to escape after being abducted from their home, a family member told HRW. Villagers provided the names of at least 27 people who remain in IS captivity, with children as young as seven among them, according to activists in Sweida province. Some survivors of the July offensive blamed the Syrian government for "allowing" IS militants to come into the villages and cities of Sweida.”

The Guardian: Assad’s Syria Recorded Its Own Atrocities. The World Can’t Ignore Them

“Imagine your son or daughter was arrested. And you heard nothing about them for years. Until one day, thousands of photographs of dead bodies were published – corpses of people who had died in custody. You start looking through them one by one, sick to your stomach wondering if the next photograph you click on is of your loved one. But as you go through them, you realise many of the corpses are so severely emaciated, mutilated, some with their eyes missing, that you’d find it hard to recognise even yourself in that state. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Syrian families have done just that – looked through the so-called Caesar photographs – images of over 6,700 people (originally reported as 11,000) who apparently died in Syrian regime custody. A defector, codenamed Caesar, claimed he smuggled the photographs out of Syria and, astonishingly, that they had been taken by the regime itself as part of its record-keeping. Chillingly, each corpse has a number, alongside the number of a regime detention facility. No names, just numbers.”

Al Jazeera: Millions In Idlib Brace For Syrian Government Assault

“Nearly three million Syrians living in the northwestern province of Idlib are bracing for a possible government assault, which neighbouring Turkey has warned would result in a large-scale humanitarian disaster. Idlib is the last remaining opposition stronghold in the country. It is home to about three million people, half of whom are internally displaced. If the forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad press ahead with an offensive, observers say as many as 2.5 million Syrians could try to flee to the shuttered Turkish border, creating a new refugee crisis. On Friday, Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned against the possible assault, while offering to work with Syria's ally, Russia, to pursue a ceasefire in the area and prevent a mass exodus. Many in Idlib are already preparing themselves for the worst case scenario.”

The Telegraph: Syrian Refugees Fear They Are Being Lured Back To Arrest And Conflict Despite Regime Charm Offensive

““We will sacrifice our blood and soul for Bashar!” teenagers from the youth wing of President Assad's Baath party chanted as a string of buses festooned with portraits of the leader crossed from Lebanon into Syria. Khola Betjen, 26, who emerged holding her 16-month-old daughter in one hand and a picture of Assad in the other, said she had decided to return to her homeland after living with relatives across the border for several years. “There's no war and the situation is better than before,” she said.”

Iran

Radio Free Europe: U.S. Criticizes Eu For Sending Aid To Iran, Says Money Will Be Misused

“The top U.S. envoy on Iran has criticized a European Union decision to give 18 million euros in aid to Tehran, saying it sends "the wrong message at the wrong time." "Foreign aid from European taxpayers perpetuates the regime's ability to neglect the needs of its people and stifles meaningful policy changes," Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, said late on August 24 in a statement. "The Iranian people face very real economic pressures caused by their government's corruption, mismanagement, and deep investment in terrorism and foreign conflicts," he said. "The United States and the European Union should be working together to find lasting solutions that truly support Iran's people and end the regime's threats to regional and global stability." The EU has said it is providing the $20.7 million in aid to Iran to offset the impact of U.S. economic sanctions as European countries try to salvage the 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers that the United States abandoned in May. The payment comes about a week after the United States started reimposing sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the nuclear accord.”

Haaretz: Everyone Wants To Get Iran Out Of Syria. But No One Knows How To Do It

“Russia would essentially have to fight Iran to get it out of Syria, where Tehran aims to continue the 30-year alliance and benefit from the reconstruction after the civil war, experts say. The U.S. national security adviser, John Bolton, has devoted the past week to discussions with Israel and Russia on the future of Syria.”

The Wall Street Journal: Rouhani Suffers Fresh Blow After Iran’s Parliament Ousts Economy Minister

“Iran’s parliament ousted the country’s economy minister Sunday, stepping up an overhaul of President Hassan Rouhani’s cabinet amid deep domestic opposition to his response to harsh new U.S. sanctions. Mr. Rouhani, a relative moderate in Iran’s system, had surrounded himself with a cabinet of technocrats, vowing to fight corruption, promote transparency and open Iran’s economy to the West with the 2015 nuclear deal. But after the economy faltered and the Iran deal came under threat from the Trump administration last year, hard-line opponents have seized on Iran’s growing rich-poor divide and plummeting currency to gut Mr. Rouhani’s economic team and undercut that strategy. Slightly more than the required majority of 260 parliamentarians present on Sunday voted to fire the economy minister, Masoud Karbasian, state television reported. Parliamentarians criticized him for allegedly failing to address the currency crisis or tame high inflation, and for his unfitness to fight an economic war with the U.S. since Mr. Trump withdrew from the deal in May and began imposing new sanctions.”

Reuters: Iran Has Full Control Of Gulf And Strait Of Hormuz: Tasnim

“Iran has full control of the Gulf and the U.S. Navy does not belong there, the head of the navy of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Alireza Tangsiri, was quoted by Tasnim news agency as saying on Monday. Tehran has suggested it could take military action in the Gulf to block other countries’ oil exports in retaliation for U.S. sanctions intended to halt its sales of crude. Washington maintains a fleet in the Gulf that protects oil shipping routes. Tangsiri said Iran had full control of the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz that leads into it. Closing the strait would be the most direct way of blocking shipping. “We can ensure the security of the Persian Gulf and there is no need for the presence of aliens like the U.S. and the countries whose home is not in here,” he said in the quote, which appeared in English translation on Tasnim.”

CNBC: UN Court To Hear Iran Lawsuit Against US Sanctions

“Iranian lawyers will ask the International Court of Justice on Monday to order the United States to lift sanctions ordered by the Trump administration against Tehran. The lawsuit filed with the ICJ, also known as the World Court, says the U.S. sanctions, which are damaging its already weak economy, violate terms of a little-known 1955 friendship treaty between the two countries. The United States, which will respond formally in oral arguments on Tuesday, has yet to issue a public response. U.S. lawyers are expected to argue that the United Nations court should not have jurisdiction in the dispute, that the friendship treaty is no longer valid and that the sanctions Washington has levied against Tehran do not violate it anyway. The oral hearings, essentially a request by Iran for a provisional ruling, will last for four days, with a decision to follow within a month.”

Presstv: Iran Wants Enhanced Ties With Qatar: President Rouhani

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Islamic Republic always seeks to strengthen relations with Qatar as a friendly country in the sensitive Middle East region. "There are numerous capacities and grounds for the expansion of cooperation between Iran and Qatar in political and economic fields and there is no obstacle in the way of improving joint cooperation," Rouhani said in a telephone conversation with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani on Sunday. He added that Tehran would continue to support Doha in the face of illegal sanctions against the Arab country. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, after officially accusing it of “sponsoring terrorism.” Libya, the Maldives, Djibouti, Senegal and the Comoros later joined the camp in ending diplomatic ties. Jordan downgraded its diplomatic relations as well.”

Iraq

Presstv: Senior Daesh Militant Commander Killed In Iraq’s Diyala Infighting

“A high-ranking commander of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group have been killed when members of two rival foreign-sponsored militant groups operating in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala turned on each other and engaged in a fierce exchange of gunfire. Ahmed al-Shimary of the Diyala Operations Command said the high-profile militant, better known by the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed, was killed in a clash between two Daesh groups at an orchard in the village of Mkheisa, located some 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) northeast of the provincial capital Baquba. Shimary added that Ahmed was one of the aides of the former founder of the al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in a US airstrike in 2006. Ahmed, who is an Iraqi national, joined Daesh terrorist group in 2014, and became one of its main commanders in Diyala province. Separately, two Daesh Takfiris were killed in a clash with security forces in the province. 10 Daesh militants killed in anti-terror raid south of Mosul Meanwhile, a total of 10 Daesh terrorists were killed in an operation against a militant hideout south of Mosul, located some 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of Baghdad.”

Afghanistan

Voice Of America: Taliban Accuse US Of Airstrikes Against Fighters Battling IS

“The Taliban insurgency claimed Friday that U.S. airstrikes killed 16 of its fighters in eastern Afghanistan who were battling militants loyal to the rival Islamic State. A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, asserted Friday that Taliban fighters were carrying out attacks against Islamic State bases in eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar, when they came under fire by U.S. drones. He said the U.S. repeatedly bombed "our positions, vehicles and defense lines” and inflicted casualties on the Taliban fighters. The Pentagon has not commented on the claim. The accusations came a day after Russia alleged “unidentified” helicopters were ferrying ammunition and arms to Islamic State fighters in a northern province of Afghanistan and demanded explanations from local as well as their NATO-led foreign military partners. On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that “unidentified” helicopters are conducting military missions in support of terrorists linked to the Islamic State faction in the northern Afghan province of Sar-e-Pul. “We note that this is happening in the direct vicinity of Central Asian states’ borders and many ISIS (Islamic State) militants in Afghanistan hail from these countries,” said Maria Zakharova. She said that Moscow was awaiting a reaction from Afghan security agencies and the U.S.-led international forces deployed in the country.”

Reuters: Head Of Islamic State In Afghanistan Killed, Government Says

“The head of Islamic State in Afghanistan, Abu Saad Erhabi, was killed in a strike on the group’s hideouts in Nangarhar province on Saturday night, authorities said on Sunday. Ten other members of the militant group were also killed in a joint ground and air operation by Afghan and foreign forces, the National Directorate of Security in Kabul said in a statement. A large amount of heavy and light weapons and ammunition were destroyed during raids on two Islamic State hideouts. The jihadist group’s Amaq’s news agency carried no comment on the issue. Lieutenant-Colonel Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said the United States carried out a strike in Afghanistan on Saturday against a “senior leader of a designated terrorist organization.” The provincial governor of Nangarhar said Erhabi was the fourth Islamic State leader in Afghanistan to be killed since July 2017. The group has developed a stronghold in Nangarhar, on Afghanistan’s porous eastern border with Pakistan, and become one of the country’s most dangerous militant groups. The local affiliate of Islamic State, sometimes known as Islamic State Khorasan (ISIS-K) after an old name for the region that includes Afghanistan, has been active since 2015, fighting the Taliban as well as Afghan and U.S. forces. Former ISIS-K leader Abu Sayed was killed in a strike in the eastern province of Nangarhar and Sayed’s predecessors were killed in joint U.S. and Afghan operations.”

CNN: Afghan National Security Adviser Quits. Resignations Of 3 Other Officials Rejected

“Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accepted the resignation of his national security adviser but refused the resignations of three other security officials as the country battles the Taliban. "Today the ministers of defense, interior affairs and the director of the national directorate of security presented their resignations to the president. The President did not accept their resignations and asked them to continue in their jobs and gave them necessary guidance for the improvement of security situation," the President's office tweeted Sunday. However, Ghani accepted National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar's resignation, replacing him with the nation's ambassador to the US, Hamdullah Mohib, the president's spokesman, Haroon Chakhansuri said. Afghanistan's TOLO News channel quoted Atmar as saying he resigned over "serious differences over policies and approaches at the top level of government." Ghani said accepting Atmar's resignation had been "difficult" but that it was "for the benefit of the country," TOLO reported. Mohib, 35, took over as national security adviser Sunday morning.”

Yemen

Asharq Al-Awsat: Yemen Files Complaint At Security Council Against ‘Hezbollah’

“The Yemeni government filed a complaint to the United Nations Security Council against the Iran-backed Lebanese “Hezbollah” party over its meddling in its internal affairs, reported Al-Arabiya.net. It said that the Iran-backed Houthi militias were being ordered by “Hezbollah” to hinder the UN-sponsored Geneva talks set for September 6. The complaint referred to a recent speech by “Hezbollah” chief Hassan Nasrallah on June 29 in which he announced that his party members hope to fight in Yemen alongside the Houthis. The government urged the Security Council to investigate “Hezbollah’s” meddling in Yemen. On Saturday, Saudi air defenses intercepted and destroyed a ballistic missile fired by the Houthis against the Kingdom.”

The National: Yemen Military Seize Strategic Mountain Range Near Taez

“Yemeni government troops have seized a strategically important mountain chain near Taez on Friday as the battle with Houthi rebels in the south-west rages. Troops affiliate with the 4th military zone, backed by coalition forces, captured the strategic mountainous area of Al Dhawari in the district of Demnat Khadeer south of Taez on Friday, Lt. Mohammed Al Naqeeb, the spokesman for the 4th military zone, told The National. “Capturing the mountainous chain of Al Dhawari is a crucial gain because these mountains have a location that allows the army forces to control wide swathes of Demnat Khadeer district and take control over Wadi Al Rahedah, which is the gate used by the Houthi militia to approach the centre of the district," Lt Al Naqeeb said. "We are 10 kilometres far from the centre of Demant Khadeer district, and our forces are advancing despite a fierce battle with the Houthi militia, which lost strategic sites after receiving fatal blows from the army and from Arab coalition jets that launched several precision airstrikes on Thursday and Friday", Lt Al Naqeeb added.”

Al Arabiya: Arab Coalition Strikes Houthi Training Camp Southeast Of Sanaa

“The Arab coalition’s fighter jets launched several airstrikes on a Houthi camp southeast of Sanaa. According to local sources, the coalition targeted a training camp where the Rapid Intervention Battalion is stationed in the Khwlan District. The sources added that the Houthis were seen transferring dozens of injured and killed militiamen to hospitals following the strikes. Members of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, who had received intensive training for the past three months, were about to graduate from the camp and be sent to fight in the west coast front.  The sources also said that the Houthis have been dealt a heavy blow after dozens of their fighters have been killed or injured, adding that this has resulted in confusion and frustration among their ranks.”

Reuters: Yemen's Houthis Say They Fire Two Missiles At Saudi Arabia

“Yemen’s Houthi group fired two Zelzal-1 missiles in the direction of Saudi Arabian provinces alongside the joint border, the Houthis’ Masirah TV said in a tweet on Sunday. The two missiles targeted “gatherings of Saudi soldiers,” one in Jizan and the other in Najran, it said. The Saudi armed forces did not confirm the attacks. Saudi Arabia is leading a western-backed alliance of Sunni Muslim Arab states trying to restore the internationally recognized government of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, ousted from the capital Sanaa by the Iran-aligned Houthis in 2015.”

Arab News: Senior Houthi Leader Killed In Clashes With Yemeni Army

“A senior field leader in the Houthi militia was killed in clashes with the Yemeni army in the Maran area, south-west of Saada province on Friday. Yemeni field sources said: “The leader of the militia, called Ali Hussein Shaibah Baazli, was killed with a number of his aides and guards, in an artillery attack on targeted rebel positions.” In a statement broadcast by the Yemeni Ministry of Defense site, September Net, the source explained that Baazli was considered a close associate of Houthi leader Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi and was one of the founders of the Iranian-backed militia. The source also confirmed the death of Houthi leaders Jaber Hussein Abu Lahi, along with Houthi supervisors Yahya Ali Akbi and Ali Naji Khlouf in the same artillery strike. Yemeni National Army forces, along with the Saudi-led coalition, have been fighting fierce battles since last Tuesday, during which they have made significant progress in the main stronghold of Maran.”

Middle East

The Atlantic: ISIS Is Ready For A Resurgence

“For nearly a year, Islamic State-watchers had wondered whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the group, was alive. Then on Wednesday, he resurfaced for the first time in 11 months, releasing a recorded speech to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. In the 55-minute speech—his longest of those that have been made public—he referenced recent events, indicating that it was recorded over the past few weeks. The speech came amid reports of a resurgence by ISIS in Diyala, Salah ad-Din, and Kirkuk in Iraq, all areas the group lost some years ago; overall the group has lost around 98 percent of the areas it once controlled. The speech also followed eyebrow-raising estimates by both the Pentagon and the United Nations that the group still has more than 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria. Affiliates in countries like Afghanistan and Egypt have also been noticeably more deadly and active in recent months. ISIS, in other words, has seemingly undergone an orderly transition from caliphate to insurgency without fracturing. In his speech, an emboldened Baghdadi drew on ISIS’s history—a small militia within a large network of insurgent groups waging war against Americans—to rally the faithful.”

CNN: After Reign Of Terror, ISIS' Baghdadi Pleads For Relevance

“It was a message in a bottle from the land of irrelevance. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), this week purportedly put out a voice recording to his dwindling flock of followers, exhorting them to carry on a fight they've already lost. At the height of ISIS' power in 2014, the group controlled a quasi-state roughly the size of Britain, including Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, and Raqqa, its de facto capital, in Syria. Since then it has lost more than 90% of that territory and today holds sway over pockets of remote terrain straddling the two countries. In the audio message, titled "Give Glad Tidings to the Patient," Baghdadi downplayed the loss of territory and issued the usual calls for the overthrow of hostile Arab regimes. But as much as he might dismiss ISIS' losses, it's hard to imagine it ever recovering. The US Defense Department and the United Nations estimate that there are still as many as 30,000 ISIS fighters still on the loose in Syria and Iraq, and although the Iraqi government has declared victory over the group, loyalists continue to conduct hit-and-run attacks and probably will do so for the foreseeable future.”

Libya

Associated Press: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For West Libya Attack

“The extremist Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a checkpoint in western Libya that killed at least four people. IS made the announcement in statement carried by its Amaq news agency on Saturday. The attack took place outside the town of Zliten on Thursday. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya and the U.N.-backed government in the west condemned the attack. Islamic extremists expanded their reach in Libya after the 2011 uprising plunged the country into chaos and toppled and later killed longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi. IS was driven from its main stronghold, the coastal city of Sirte, in 2016 and fled inland. Libya is currently split between rival governments in the east and the west.”

Nigeria

Daily Post Nigeria: I Want To Be Soldier, Kill At Least 1,000 Boko Haram Terrorists –12-Year-Old IDP

“A 12-year-old internally displaced person at the Abuja IDPs camp, simply identified as Subairu, has called on the federal government to come to their aid. Subairu, who is from Gwoza in Borno State, while speaking with Tribune on Saturday lamenting their plights, disclosing that he would love to be a soldier when he grows up and kill at least 1,000 Boko Haram terrorists. He said: “It is true that some of us don’t have shoes or sandals to wear. When I grow up, I want to be a soldier. I want to be able to kill the Boko Haram terrorists. I want to kill at least 1,000 of them. “We don’t have anything in our house here in the camp. I miss Gwoza. I miss my grandmother, my father and my other relations in Gwoza. I don’t have a school uniform. It is not easy coming to school without these things.” Subairu, who said he was not finding school easy as a result of hunger, poor amenities and lack of care, appealed to the government to come to their aid. Another 12-year-old, Aliyu Bakura, a primary five student, while lamenting on the plight of the pupils, also begged the federal government to provide them with food, uniforms and sandals. “During the break time, we have nothing to eat. We don’t eat anything throughout school hours. We have food at home, but it is not enough to bring to school. My father and mother are in the house. I have three brothers and a sister in the school. We are from the Bama Local Government Area of Borno State. My teachers teach me very well.”

New Telegraph: Army Kills 3 Boko Haram Insurgents, Recovers Weapons

“The Nigerian Army said it had successfully neutralised three Boko Haram insurgents during an ambush in Mayanti Village in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State yesterday. This emerged as the Police Command in Akwa Ibom said its officers had killed four of the five suspected armed robbers who robbed a fuel station in Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom on August 21. The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Texas Chukwu, disclosed this in a statement released in Maiduguri. Chukwu, who said the terrorists were neutrialised by troops of 151 battalion, said weapons which include three AK 47 rifle, 3 Magazines, 32 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, one motorcycle and two android phones were recovered from them. He said efforts were made to get the other fleeing members of the Boko Haram terrorists. Meanwhile, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner of Police, Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi, who made the disclosure at a news conference in Uyo, said the four suspects were gunned down in a gun battle with police while one of them was arrested after sustaining injuries due to gunshot. Ogunjemilusi said the masked gunmen were killed during an operation in a bank at Ikot Ekpene after robbing ATM users and shop owners at gunpoint in a broad daylight. “My men of Ikot Ekpene Division, led by the Divisional Police Officer, Benjamin Achegbani, trailed and engaged the suspects in a fierce shootout.”

Premium Times: Boko Haram: Nigeria Appeals For Earlier Delivery Of Tucano Aircraft By U.S. Firm

“The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Sadique Abubakar, has appealed to the manufacturers of the A-29 Super Tucano Attack Aircraft, to expedite action on its  delivery  to Nigeria. Mr Abubakar said this when Taco Gilbert, the Senior Vice – President of Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), manufacturer of the aircraft, visited him in Abuja. The Air Force chief said a quick delivery of the aircraft would enhance Nigerian Air Force’s (NAF) operational capability for the swift conclusion of the counterinsurgency operations in the North- east. He commended the visiting delegation which included officials from the Office of Security Cooperation of the United States Embassy in Nigeria. Mr Abubakar expressed his delight at the U.S. government’s support for the fight against insurgency with the signing of the contract to sell the Super Tucano Aircraft to Nigeria. The air chief, however, noted that the major concern of the NAF was the time frame for delivery of the aircraft. He expressed confidence that the counterinsurgency operations in the North- east could be executed more effectively, if the aircraft like the Super Tucano could be made available to the NAF in good time.”

Somalia

Mareeg: Somalia’s Al Shabaab Attacks On Army Camp Near Baidoa

“The Islamist group of Al Shabaab carried out an attack on military base near Baidoa town, some 250km southwest of Somali capital Mogadishu. In a statement aired by Radio Andulus, an Al Shabaab mouthpiece, said that the group’s fighters launched an attack on military base in Daynunay area, some 18km away from Baidoa town. The group says its fighters had seized the military camp, killing at least 5 government soldiers during hours of fighting. “We have captured military base in Daynunay area. Our fighters killed 5 soldiers during the clash”, the group said. Meanwhile, Somali military denied claims by Al Shabaab, saying its forces had repulsed the attack. Major Hussein Mohamed, military commander said that 9 Al Shabaab militants had been killed in the fighting. He confirmed four soldiers had lost their lives during fighting against Al Shabaab.”

North Korea

Reuters: North Korea Newspaper Blasts 'Double-Dealing' U.S. After Pompeo's Trip Canceled

“North Korea’s state-controlled newspaper on Sunday accused the United States of “double-dealing” and “hatching a criminal plot” against Pyongyang, after Washington abruptly canceled a visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Negotiations have been all but deadlocked since U.S. President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore in June. Pompeo has pressed for tangible steps toward North Korea’s abandonment of its nuclear arsenal while Pyongyang is demanding that Washington first make concessions of its own. North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said U.S. special units based in Japan were staging an air drill aimed at “the infiltration into Pyongyang”, citing a South Korean media outlet. “Such acts prove that the U.S. is hatching a criminal plot to unleash a war against the DPRK and commit a crime which deserves merciless divine punishment in case the U.S. fails in the scenario of the DPRK’s unjust and brigandish denuclearisation first,” the paper said.”

Europe

The Washington Post: Kosovo, Home To Many ISIS Recruits, Is Struggling To Stamp Out Its Homegrown Terrorism Problem

“For all the attention paid to the emergence of homegrown Islamist terrorists in Belgium, France and other European countries, one of the continent’s biggest radicalization problems is taking place on its fringes. Kosovo, the tiny Muslim-majority Balkan nation of just 1.8 million, has produced more foreign fighters per capita than any other Western nation since the Islamic State declared its now-defunct caliphate in 2014. Some 413 Kosovo citizens, including women and children, have joined that group and other Islamist extremist factions since the war in Syria began in 2012. As it attempts to join the European Union, Kosovo has been under pressure to stamp out its radicalization problem — and authorities say they have succeeded. Since 2013, Kosovar police say they have indicted more than 120 terrorism suspects and arrested many more, including well-known conservative imams suspected of recruiting people to fight abroad.”

Southeast Asia

South China Morning Post: US Blacklists Three Southeast Asians In Islamic State Beheading Video

“Three Southeast Asians who appeared in a 2016 Islamic State video showing the beheading of a captive were added to the US Treasury’s sanctions blacklist Friday. The Treasury said Malaysian Mohamad Rafi Udin, Indonesian Mohammed Karim Yusop Faiz and Filipino Mohammad Reza Lahaman Kiram all took part in the June 2016 video made in Syria in which Islamic State members execute a prisoner. Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said the video was “part of a propaganda campaign to attract radicals to join militant terrorist groups in Southeast Asia”. Udin, 52, is a well-known Malaysian militant, having been detained in 2003-2006 for his association with the radical Islamist group Jemaah Islamiah. As of last November, he was believed to be the seniormost Malaysian in the Islamic State in Syria, the Treasury said. Faiz, 49, was imprisoned in the Philippines for nine years on explosives and weapons charges. After being released he travelled to Syria in 2014 and joined Islamic State. Kiram, 28, is believed to be responsible for the bombing a bus in Zamboanga, Philippines in 2012. He was still in Syria fighting for Islamic State as of January 2017, the Treasury said.”

Financing of Terrorism

Masrawy: Egypt: Funding For Terrorist Groups Is On The Decline

“Maged al-Bassiouni, a former assistant of Egypt's interior minister, said that the terrorist organizations are suffering from a decline in financial sources and arms deliveries. However, they are trying to prove their continual presence by carrying out operations against Egyptian army and police forces in Sinai following the painful blows they received recently. Al-Bassiouni stated on Saturday that the security services are capable of responding to any terrorist attack, and the vigilance of security forces is what thwarted the terror operation against police forces in El Arish. Al-Bassiouni pointed out that attempts by terrorist organizations to revert to their old methods have failed. The expert added that the weapons that were seized are old and not the result of recent funding for terrorist groups.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Elwatan News: Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Assets Committee Appropriated EGP 61 Billion

“Chaired by Dr. Mohammed Yasser Abu El-Fotouh, the recently formed committee for executing the courts' rulings against groups, entities or individuals designated as “terrorist" in Egypt will convene during the next few days. During the meeting, the committee is set to adopt its executive regulations in reference to law No. 22 of 2018, for regulating the legal procedures to seize, manage and dispose of assets of terrorist groups and individuals. It’s noteworthy that the previous governmental committee {assigned} to appraise and seize the funds of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group had appropriated EGP 61 billion ($3.4 billion) worth of liquid funds and movable assets. These funds and properties belong to more than 2,000 persons, 252 companies in various sectors, 91 hospitals, 120 schools and 1,033 third-sector organizations. This information came out in a previous statement by the committee before amending its name and purview, in accordance with the law.”

Bald-News: Muslim Brotherhood Group Recruited Left-Wing And Third-Sector Civic Activists In Return For Money

“Evidently, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood has kept up its desperate attempts lately to return to the political scene in Egypt. The Public Prosecution's interrogations of Maasoum Marzouk, a former ambassador and senior leader of the Nasserist "Popular Current" and Al-Karama Parties, and of his cronies, showed how this activists' group had received direct funding from the Muslim Brotherhood with the aim of returning to the local political scene. The banned Islamist group had employed Marzouk, who was arrested after calling for a referendum on President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's government, along with other oppositionists, to recruit new activists into its ranks. Those activists belong mainly to the left wing, the Nasserist party and the April 6 youth movement, the investigations confirmed. These recruitments were designed to wreak havoc and demoralize the Egyptian people, the prosecution added.”

Bald-News: Egypt Foils Muslim Brotherhood's Plot To Use Teachers To Revitalize The Group's Organizational Structure

“The National Security Agency at the Egyptian Ministry of Interior recently revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood leaders in exile had assigned the group's activists in Egypt with urgently revitalizing the organizational structure of the group in the villages and towns of the remote Al-Saeed Province. The security investigations confirmed that leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood abroad had assigned their subordinates inside Egypt with using teachers affiliated with the outlawed group to recruit young students into its ranks. The aim of this move was to prepare new recruits for carrying out the organization's future missions, according to the security sources. The Prosecution accuses a number of activists and teachers, who were detained in connection with this plot before the recent Al-Adha feast, of joining a group that was formed in contravention to the constitution, of disrupting public order and safety, trying to forcefully overthrow the regime, participating in violent protests, opposing the authorities, inciting riots against the authorities and public installations, and financing terrorist activities.”

Hezbollah

Imlebanon: Expert: Sanctions On Hezbollah Will Impact Lebanon As A Whole

“The new sanctions that the United States has imposed on Iran have been a new source of pressure on Hezbollah. In recent months, the Shiite group has reportedly taken "containing measures" to adjust to the new US sanctions. Multiple sources, however, have suggested that the sanctions will have negative repercussions not only on Hezbollah but will impact the entire economic situation in Lebanon as a whole. The Director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs, Dr. Sami Nader, said there will be "direct repercussions" of these sanctions on Hezbollah, which is part of the Iranian system. He pointed out that although some precautions were taken recently by Hezbollah, it {imposition of the US sanctions} will not reflect negatively on Hezbollah alone but on the whole of Lebanon.”