Eye on Extremism: August 29

The New York Times: Syrian Army Presses On In Idlib Province As Death Toll Rises

“Syrian government forces pressed ahead with their military offensive in Idlib, seizing a cluster of villages on the southeastern edges of the province on Thursday as the overall civilian death toll from the campaign rose further. The government-controlled Syrian Central Military Media said troops captured three small villages in the area, as they continued their assault with the next target appearing to be the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan, which lies near the Damascus-Aleppo highway. Last week, the troops captured the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which also sits on the highway. Idlib is the Syrian opposition's final stronghold in the country, and President Bashar Assad's forces, backed by Russia, are determined to recapture it. For now, their main aim is to reopen the M5 highway and they have been pounding towns and villages that lie near that route. Opening the highway would cut the trip between the country's two largest cities by two hours.”

Fox News: Maryland Man Accused Of Plotting ISIS-Inspired Terror Attack Near DC Is Indicted

“A Maryland man accused of plotting an ISIS-inspired terror attack at a tourist site near Washington, D.C., was indicted Wednesday on a terrorism-related charge, the Justice Department announced. Rondell Henry, 28, of Germantown was indicted on federal charges of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State and interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle, the DOJ said. Henry moved to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago 11 years ago and is a naturalized citizen. He is accused of stealing a U-Haul van in Alexandria, Va., and driving it to Maryland, where he intended to use it as a weapon at the National Harbor complex on the Potomac River, according to previously filed court documents. Prince George’s County Police reviewed surveillance footage and found the stolen van on March 27. Henry was arrested the next day after police say he tried to jump a security fence. He has remained detained pending a trial. Henry originally considered a March 27 attack at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, but he was unable bypass security there, so he drove to National Harbor instead, prosecutors said.”

The New York Times: The Israel-Iran Shadow War Escalates And Breaks Into The Open

“Israel has carried out a series of attacks across the Middle East in recent weeks to prevent Iran from equipping its Arab allies with precision-guided missiles, drones and other sophisticated weapons that could challenge Israel’s defenses. The attacks represent a new escalation in the shadow war between Iran and Israel, which has broken into the open and threatens to set off a wider confrontation. In one 18-hour period over the weekend, an Israeli airstrike killed two Iranian-trained militants in Syria, a drone set off a blast near a Hezbollah office in Beirut’s southern suburbs and an airstrike in Qaim, Iraq, killed a commander of an Iran-backed Iraqi militia.Israel accuses Iran of trying to establish an overland arms-supply line through Iraq and northern Syria toLebanon. The attacks, only one of which Israel has publicly acknowledged, were aimed at stopping Iran and signaling to its proxies that Israel will not tolerate a fleet of smart missiles on its borders, officials and analysts said. “Iran is building something here in the region,” said Sima Shine, a former head of research for Israeli intelligence, now a scholar at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “What’s changed is that the process reached a level in which Israel has to act differently.”

Fox News: UN Peacekeeping Patrol Filmed Coming Under Attack By Hezbollah In Lebanon

“The United Nations Security Council is expected to renew the yearly mandate of its UNIFIL, its peacekeeping force in Lebanon, this week. But exclusive video obtained by Fox News shows a peacekeeping patrol under attack by the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hezbollah. An intelligence source confirmed to Fox News the Iranian proxy force was behind the attack. While the U.N. described the attack in a report, the video and the ensuing chaos following the ambush show how dangerous Hezbollah has made the situation for UNIFIL, or the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. The video shows groups of men block off the convoy with their cars. Once blocked off several men set upon the vehicles, trying to break in through the windows with hammers and stones.  At one stage, gasoline is poured over the second U.N. armored vehicle and then lit on fire. As it burns one peacekeeper leaves the vehicle while being accosted by the men. Another peacekeeper comes running out from behind the lead armored vehicle with his gun drawn, only to retreat. Another peacekeeper leaves the APV, surrendering his weapon to the terrorists. Men carrying automatic weapons can be seen during the melee.  “This is clearly a Hezbollah-coordinated operation,” said Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.”

Reuters: More Than 50 Abducted In Attack On Northwest Nigerian Village: Residents

“More than 50 people, including pregnant women and children, were abducted in a raid on a village in northwest Nigeria, seven residents told Reuters on Wednesday. The attack on Wurma village in Katsina, northwest Nigeria, began around 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. Police pegged the number of those abducted at 15, but multiple residents told Reuters that many more were taken. Alhaji Musa, whose two daughters were among those taken, said more than 100 bandits were “shooting from all angles.” “They operated for about three hours with nobody to challenge them,” he said. Seven residents, and one man who was abducted but released by the attackers, said at least 53 people were taken, including pregnant women, babies and children. Some residents had already received ransom requests from the abductors, the sources said. The attackers also took sheep, goats and food, they added. In a statement, Katsina police said 15 women were abducted, but that 10 of them were freed unharmed following a gun battle with police. “Search parties have been dispatched into the surrounding bushes with a view to rescue the others,” the police said. Instability has roiled northwest Nigeria, including Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, all year.”

The Washington Post: U.S. Military Carried Out Secret Cyberstrike On Iran To Prevent It From Interfering With Shipping

“American military cyber forces in June knocked out a crucial database used by Iran’s elite paramilitary force to target oil tankers and shipping traffic in the Persian Gulf hours after that force shot down a U.S. surveillance drone, according to U.S. officials. The retaliatory strike by U.S. Cyber Command against the system used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was approved by President Trump, who that same day called off a military airstrike against Iran because killing Iranians would not be “proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.” U.S. Cyber Command did not address questions on the secret operation. “As a matter of policy and for operational security, we do not discuss cyberspace operations, intelligence, or planning,” Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said in a statement.”

United States

The Detroit News: Michigan State Students Charged With False Terror Threat

“Two Michigan State University students were charged Tuesday with making a false threat against the president of the university, records show. Students Jennifer Spicer, 20, and Rami Souguir, 18, were arraigned in 54B District Court on charges of making a false report or threat of terrorism and using a computer to commit a crime. Both of their bonds were set at $10,000. The pair are accused of making an online threat against MSU President Samuel Stanley, who took office this month.  Spicer, from Louisiana, and Souguir, of Ann Arbor, are freshman computer science majors, university and police records show. MSU Police Capt. Doug Monette said the department was notified Monday morning that threats had been made. “Our officers investigated the incident and on Aug. 27, the two were arrested,” he said Wednesday. “Both were arraigned yesterday on charges of making false terrorism threats.”Monette declined to comment further about the charges, saying the department's investigation is ongoing. “Our investigation is still ongoing and we feel, at this time, the campus is safe,” he said. Following their release Tuesday from the Ingham County Jail, District Court Judge Andrea Larkin ordered the students to not have any contact with each other, Stanley or his family.”

The Star Tribune: Attacks By US Extremists Lead To Push For Anti-Terror Laws

“A white man opens fire at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, targeting Mexicans and killing 22 people. Another man kills 11 Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. The two mass shootings and a presidential tweet put a spotlight on the idea of “domestic terrorism,” adding momentum to a debate about whether such attacks should be classified and tried in the same way as crimes against America by foreign extremist groups and their supporters. A Republican senator and a Democrat in the House of Representatives are drafting bills to do that while some Republicans call for a left-wing group to be designated a terrorist organization. “Domestic terrorism is in our backyard and we need to call it and treat it under the law the same as other forms of terrorism,” said U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, an Arizona Republican who intends to introduce legislation when Congress returns in September. McSally's proposal would allow federal law enforcement to charge suspects with acts of domestic terror and add punishments for those crimes, including the death penalty. Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, introduced legislation on Aug. 16 that he says is a “very high priority.”

Missoulian: Pro-ISIS Man Pleads Guilty To Lying About Seeking Out Terrorists

“The 21-year-old New York man arrested in Bozeman this year after an FBI investigation pleaded guilty on Wednesday to lying to agents about seeking out the terrorist organization ISIS. Fabjan Alameti pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements to law enforcement regarding terrorism, a charge that carries a maximum eight-year term in federal prison.  Alameti appeared at the Russell Smith Federal Courthouse in Missoula on Wednesday with his federal public defender, John Rhodes.  Assistant U.S. District Attorney Jeff Starnes told U.S. Magistrate Kathleen DeSoto during the hearing that federal authorities came across Alameti during a terrorist investigation in 2018, interviewing Alameti at his Bronx, New York, home.  An undercover FBI agent subsequently maintained contact with Alameti across a pro-ISIS Facebook group, tracking him as he relocated to Bozeman in March. Alameti was an Albanian national who obtained citizenship in the U.S., Starnes said, and had planned to use his Albanian passport to relocate to Syria and fight the U.S. with ISIS. His internet searches included how to make bombs, and what kinds of blast radii certain devices would create, Starnes said. His targets included gay clubs, federal buildings and a U.S. Army recruiting center.”

VICE: Army Reservist Tied To Neo-Nazi Terror Cell Is Missing

“A recently relieved of duty Winnipeg army reservist linked to the neo-Nazi terror cell The Base has been missing since Friday. According to Manitoba RCMP, a missing person report was filed for Patrik Mathews on Monday. In a statement they provided to VICE, Manitoba RCMP said that the 26-year-old “was last seen by family members in Beausejour on the evening of August 24, 2019.” “Efforts to contact and locate him by family and police have been unsuccessful since the report was received,” reads the release.  Mathews was exposed as a member of the Base through a series of explosive stories in the Winnipeg Free Press in which reporter Ryan Thorpe gained access to the group. The Base is an international neo-Nazi organization that focuses on setting up cells worldwide. A VICE investigation into the group's inner workings last year showed the group was organized, venerated mass murderers, and actively anticipated using real-world violence. ”The Base is particularly dangerous because of [its] focus on developing and sharing skills useful for terrorism and guerilla warfare, such as ambushes, weapons training, and making explosives,” Joshua Fisher-Birch said in a previous VICE story about The Base. “This is a radical group that not only wants violence but is preparing for it.”

Fox News: Ignore ISIS At Your Peril, America – Terrorists Say ‘I’ll Be Back’

“This is a warning to the civilized world: Don’t forget about the supporters of Usama bin Laden and the ISIS caliphate. They have not forgotten about you. Washington today is largely focused on “great power” competition. What’s next in the trade war with China or the tug of war with Russia? What’s up with North Korea’s missiles and the ayatollah in Iran? Of course, these struggles do matter. And America must stay on top of what these mighty but misguided nations are up to. But that doesn’t mean that we, our friends and our allies can afford to lower our guard against the terrorists lurking in the shadowlands who still seek to establish an Islamist dictatorship over a third of the Earth. These terrorists have more than amply demonstrated their willingness to advance their cause, no matter how many innocents they may slaughter or sacrileges they may commit along the way. Sure, there is no doubt that ISIS has taken a beating. Losing half of its self-proclaimed caliphate was deeply humiliating. Meanwhile, the U.S. and its allies continue to hunt down Al Qaeda’s leadership and operatives. Yet even a scattered and humbled enemy is still an enemy.”


Reuters: Air Strikes Hit Rebel-Held Northwest Syria, Nine Killed

“Jets believed to be Syrian or Russian on Wednesday struck a main rebel-held city in northwest Syria, killing at least nine civilians, in stepped up strikes on the last rebel bastion in that part of the country, residents and rescuers said.  The air strikes hit Maarat al-Numan, from which tens of thousands of people have fled in the last two weeks fearing an imminent assault by advancing Russian-backed Syrian troops.  Residents said heavy air strikes hit other villages and towns in Idlib province. One hit a market in the city of Saraqeb, causing injuries and extensive damage to a main residential area.  Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, backed by Russian air power, have been waging an offensive in the Idlib region, the last remaining rebel-held territory in Syria’s war. Much of the region is controlled by jihadists linked to the former Nusra Front, which was linked to al Qaeda.  Russian and Turkish forces in northern Syria - allies of opposing sides in the civil war but partners in a ceasefire agreement - have been brought closer than ever to direct contact on the ground as the Syrian government presses ahead with its months-long campaign.”

VOA: UN: Northwest Syria Hostilities Escalate, With Barrel Bombs

“The U.N. is calling on Syria's warring parties to ensure the safety of civilians as clashes, shelling and airstrikes escalate in Idlib, western Aleppo and northern Hama, including the use of barrel bombs. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday that "satellite imagery shows entire towns and villages have been razed to the ground, while dozens of communities have been emptied." On Monday, he said 15 civilians, including women and children, were reportedly killed in airstrikes on seven communities in Idlib province. Dujarric said three-quarters of the 3 million people being impacted by the violence are women and children. Since the start of hostilities at the end of April, over 550 civilians have been killed and over 400,000 people have been displaced from northern Hama and southern Idlib, he said.”

The National: US Warns Of Sanctions Against Foreign Businesses Tied To Syrian Regime

“The US repeated calls on Wednesday for sanctions against foreign companies that have ties to Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s regime. Syria has suffered immense damage and physical destruction after nearly eight years of civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of people. “We reiterate our warning that anyone doing business with [the] Assad regime or its associates is exposing themselves to the possibility of US sanctions,” the US Embassy in Syria said on Twitter. The warning comes as Damascus held the 61st round of its International Trade Fair, which was suspended after the war started in 2011, but resumed in 2017. The fair aims to encourage foreign investment to assist in the reconstruction of the war-torn country. About 500 companies are expected to take part, Syrian state news agency, Sana, reported.”


The New York Times: Iran: Lifting US Sanctions Will Help Salvage Nuclear Deal

“Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran's supreme leader will not meet President Donald Trump unless Washington halts its "economic terrorism" that has hurt ordinary Iranians. Zarif said the removal of U.S. sanctions — which he described as a form of extortion, arm twisting and intimidation — could also help salvage the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from last year. He said Tehran has the right to reduce its compliance under the nuclear pact after the U.S. left, but it can return to full implementation if the U.S. fulfils its commitment and returns to the table. "We are prepared to leave (the pact) because we have nothing to lose," he told a forum in Kuala Lumpur. But Tehran also believes that the only way to avoid a "nuclear holocaust" is to destroy all nuclear weapons, he said.”


Al Monitor: Will Iran-Backed Factions Attack US Troops In Iraq?

“Following a series of airstrikes that Israel is suspected of conducting against Iran-backed groups of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), calls for US troops to be attacked in revenge for the attacks is on the rise in Iraq. Ayatollah Sayed Kazem al-Haeri, who is an Iran-based Shiite cleric close to Iran-backed PMU factions, issued a fatwa Aug. 23 calling upon the PMU and all other Iraqi armed forces to fight US troops and exile them from the country. “I declare from the position of religious responsibility that the presence of any US military force in Iraq is forbidden [haram] under any title: military training, advice or the rationale of fighting terrorism,” Haeri said in his fatwa. Although the United States denied any involvement in the strikes against the PMU and said it is cooperating with Iraqi authorities in the investigation of the attacks, the pro-Iranian militias accuse the United States of being behind the assaults.”

Financial Times: Iraq’s Farmers Struggle Despite Bumper Harvest

“Jamal Mukhlif Naif and his family were harvesting a bumper crop on a May night in northern Iraq, their best in years. But the celebratory mood was shattered when gunfire erupted around them. Isis fighters stormed Mr Naif’s harvesting party, killing five people. The youngest was 18 years old. The jihadis set fire to the field and machinery, then gloated about the attack online, posting pictures and videos. “It was an excellent harvest,” said Mr Naif. “But we lost all our product for the year . . . [and] I’m very scared to go back to my land.” This winter’s rains brought severe flooding but also relief to Iraq’s fertile soil after a period of drought. But even absent the acute challenges posed by climate change, the windfall harvest could not paper over the structural problems that plague Iraq’s agricultural sector, the country’s second largest after oil and the biggest provider of rural employment, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).”

Reuters: Baghdad's Crackdown On Iran-Allied Militias Faces Resistance

“At checkpoints leading into the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the flags of Brigade 30, a paramilitary force, still fly nearly two months after the Baghdad government ordered all militias to leave. Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s decree gave Iran-backed paramilitary groups, which have wielded increasing power in Iraq, a month to fully integrate with the armed forces, leave checkpoints and sever ties with political groups. Brigade 30’s refusal to abandon its positions on the eastern edge of Mosul — instead it cut off roads and whipped up angry protests — underlines Baghdad’s struggle to assert its authority and raises the risk of further instability in a region marked by U.S.-Iranian rivalry. Washington warned this year it would take action against Iran-backed militias if Baghdad failed to control them, and imposed sanctions on groups and their leaders, including Brigade 30’s Commander Waad Qaddo. It blamed paramilitaries for attacks on bases hosting U.S. forces in May.”


The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Defense Chief Calls Discussing Withdrawal From Afghanistan ‘Premature’

“The top-ranking U.S. military officer said it was premature to discuss a possible withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, in his first public comments about the ongoing peace talks to end the country’s nearly 18-year-long war. “I don’t think about it as we’re going to withdraw, I think about, we are going to initiate interact and dialogue, ideally leading to peace and stability for the Afghan people,” Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters on Wednesday. “We’re going to ensure that our counterterrorism objectives are addressed,” he continued, in response to a question whether the U.S. planned to leave Afghanistan without counterterrorism forces on the ground. “And so I think it’s premature. I’m not using the ‘withdraw’ word right now.” At their first joint press briefing, Gen. Dunford and Defense Secretary Mark Esper also stressed that the U.S.-backed Afghan government would be included in any prospective deal. U.S. and Taliban leaders have been meeting in Doha, without representatives of the Kabul government, to negotiate an end to the conflict. Earlier this year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the negotiators aimed to forge a peace deal by Sept. 1 that could end the conflict, but talks in Qatar show no signs of meeting that deadline.”

The Washington Post: We Can’t Outsource Our Security To Anyone — Especially The Taliban

“President Trump’s desire to end the war in Afghanistan is understandable. After 18 years of war, the current path is not sustainable. Nevertheless, we may be in such a rush to remove our forces that we find ourselves on the cusp of a strategic blunder. Any deal that calls for withdrawing our forces completely from Afghanistan is a bad deal for the United States.  We must be clear: The United States should never outsource its national security to anyone, especially the Taliban. That is a possible outcome, however, as the United States and the Taliban continue talks in Doha, Qatar. We cannot rely on the Taliban for security; we have lost too many soldiers at Taliban hands for that. The Afghan war must end on our terms, not the Taliban’s. The United States entered Afghanistan in 2001 for one reason: to run al-Qaeda out of its haven and ensure that it was never able to attack America again. We achieved that objective in 2002 and have sustained it since with the United States, NATO and other partner nations. U.S. force levels have ebbed and flowed since 2002, but we now have less than 15 percent of the forces we had at our peak in 2011. The tasks that used to be solely the responsibility of U.S. and NATO and partner forces are now in the hands of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.”

The Washington Times: The Taliban's Dilemma

“Afghanistan has a foreign military presence that represents an existential threat to the Taliban — an organization that purports to guard the country against all foreign influence. That threat is not the American-led NATO coalition. The Islamic State (ISIS) is a transnational organization with the objective of making Afghanistan one more province (their word is emirate) in a worldwide caliphate.  That imperial vision has the same plan to subordinate Afghanistan to its imperial aspirations as did Alexander, Genghis Khan, the British Empire and the old Soviet Union. That part of the Taliban which is currently negotiating with the United States for an eventual U.S.-NATO withdrawal fails to officially recognize that the real foreign force that is threatening to take over the country remains virtually ignored in the talks. That elephant in the room should become a key part of any final agreement. The Taliban leadership isn’t stupid, but it is badly mistaken if it thinks that — absent U.S.-NATO presence — it will be free to march into Kabul as it did in 1996. ISIS aside, the political landscape has undergone a tectonic shift. The Kabul government may suffer from corruption and rampant inefficiency, but it represents the majority of Afghans who, though they may consider themselves to be good Muslims, see a secularized form of governance as the way of the future.”

Xinhua: 23 Militants Including 3 IS Fighters Give Up Fighting In E. Afghanistan

“A total of 23 anti-government militants including three armed insurgents affiliated with the Islamic State (IS) group and 20 Taliban have given up fighting and handed over their weapons to police in Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province, a statement of provincial administration said here on Thursday. According to the statement, three IS insurgents surrendered to local authorizes and handed in their weapons to police on Wednesday. Similarly, 20 militants loyal to the Taliban outfit have given up fighting and joined the government-backed peace process in Nangarhar's provincial capital Jalalabad on the same day Wednesday, the statement added. According to the statement, the former militants were involved in anti-government activities in Khogiani, Chaparhar, Shinwar and Momandara districts over the past couple of years and their decision to give up fighting would pave the way for stabilizing peace and security there in the area. Neither IS nor Taliban outfit has made comments on the report yet. However, the militants' surrender to security forces is taking place amid hectic peace talks between the U.S. delegation and the Taliban representatives in Qatar capital Doha.”

The New York Times: Afghan Forces Still Unable To Counter Violence Alone, Joint Chiefs Chairman Says

“Afghanistan’s security forces are not yet able to deal with violence in the country on their own, the top American military officer said Wednesday, laying bare one of the biggest challenges facing administration officials as they try to hammer out a peace agreement with the Taliban that could lead to the withdrawal of American troops. During a rare news conference at the Pentagon, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was not ready to use terms like “withdrawal” when discussing the American troop presence in Afghanistan at this point in the peace negotiations. “Right now, it’s our judgment that the Afghans need support to deal with the level of violence today,” General Dunford said. “If an agreement happens, that could change.”


Reuters: Yemen's Houthis Attack Saudi Arabia's Abha Airport: Spokesman

“Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthis attacked Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport with a cruise missile on Wednesday, the group’s military spokesman said in a tweet. Spokesman Yahya Saria said the missile targeted plane hangars and led to air traffic being halted at the airport. The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthis in Yemen said a “hostile projectile” fired by the Iran-aligned group landed in Abha airport late Wednesday but caused no injuries, Saudi state news agency quoted the coalition military spokesman as saying early on Thursday.”


Reuters: Hezbollah Says Will Hit Back At Israel As Lebanon Fires At Israeli Drones

“Hezbollah said it would respond with a “surprise” strike against Israel after drones crashed in Lebanon at the weekend but it also said a new full-out war between the longtime adversaries remains unlikely. Adding to the growing tension between Israel and Iran-backed groups in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, the Lebanese army on Wednesday opened fire at two Israeli drones breaching Lebanese airspace near the Israeli border. Israel said the drones were unharmed. The rare incident took place after President Michel Aoun said on Monday that Lebanon had a right to defend itself after two drones the Lebanese army said were Israeli crashed on Sunday in the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut. Israel has not claimed responsibility for the two drones that crashed. One of them exploded, causing some damage to Hezbollah’s media center in the district, but nobody was hurt.”

Middle East

Al Jazeera: Gaza In State Of Alert After Blasts Kill 3 Hamas Policemen

“The Gaza Strip is in a “state of alert” after explosions killed three policemen in the Palestinian enclave in apparent suicide attacks. The police officers died in “two explosions targeting police checkpoints” late on Tuesday, the interior ministry in the Hamas-controlled coastal territory said in a statement. Such attacks on Hamas, which has the most powerful armed apparatus in the enclave, are rare. An interior ministry spokesman, Eyad al-Bozom, said security forces were making progress in their pursuit of those behind the explosions, but he did not disclose further details. “The sinful hands that carried out this crime will not escape punishment,” said al-Bozom. The first blast destroyed a motorcycle as it passed a police checkpoint, witnesses said. Two police officers were killed and a third Palestinian was wounded. It was not immediately clear if the riders were among the casualties. The second explosion, less than an hour later, killed one officer and wounded several people at a police checkpoint elsewhere in the city, the interior ministry said. Hamas chief Ismail Haniya said Gaza can “absorb” such incidents. “We are certain, things will be controlled and all sides involved in these bombings will be held accountable,” he said in a statement.”

Arab News: Bahrain Sentences 9 To Prison For Terrorist Activities

“Nine people were sentenced to prison on Wednesday in Bahrain for terror related activities. Attorney General Ahmed Al-Hammadi, chief prosecutor for terrorist crimes, said that “the Fourth Grand Criminal Court sentenced them for receiving, transferring and handing over funds allocated for supporting and financing terrorist groups, carrying out terrorist activities and promoting criminal acts.” The first was sentenced to six years in prison and a BD 100,000 fine. Three others received a one-year sentence and fined BD 2,000. Four were sentenced to two years, while the ninth received three months. The first defendant recruited the others and tasked them with managing social media accounts, publish terrorist related material, acts of sabotage and assaults on the Kingdom’s security forces. They were also assigned to transfer money to different locations and some of them were housed together. They were “communicating with other terrorist groups outside of Bahrain and received assignments in order to create chaos in the country for terrorist purposes,” Al-Hammadi said. Four of the accused confessed to the crimes.”


Military Times: Libya’s Civil War Could Provide ‘Oxygen’ To Terrorist Offshoots, Says US Africa Command

“U.S. Africa Command is concerned that Libya’s eight-year civil war could bolster terrorist groups harbored in the country and foster a breeding ground for violent extremist organizations. Preventing that chaos is a key issue for AFRICOM Commander Gen. Stephen Townsend, who traveled to Tunis, Tunisia with U.S. Ambassador to Libya Richard Norland to meet with Libya’s prime minister, Fayez al Sarraj, on Aug. 26. There, the leaders discussed threats from existing violent extremist organizations in Libya, along with the need for a solution to end the civil war. “Close cooperation is important to address the [violent extremist organizations] threat,” Townsend said in a media release. In 2018 alone, the Islamic State’s Libya faction claimed it was behind more than a dozen attacks targeting the Libyan government and oil infrastructure, according to AFRICOM. The conflict that has plagued Libya for the past eight years could add fuel to the flame, AFRICOM claims. Marine efforts to push out ISIS fighters from Sirte was described as “one of the largest counter terrorism campaigns to be conducted from amphibious shipping.”


The Punch Nigeria: We’ll Force Boko Haram To Surrender – Military

“The acting General Officer Commanding, 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Brig Gen Abdul Khalifa, has said the military will soon force  Boko Haram fighters to surrender. He said the Super Camps strategy introduced by the military would ensure that the North-East was free of Boko Haram. He spoke on Wednesday in Maiduguri while on an operational tour of army units within his division. Khalifa said their strategy was for soldiers to be able to carry out patrols, raids and ambushes. The army chief said, “We have discovered that  Boko Haram elements have some kind of mobility because we are in defence. We are trying to see how this strategy can change, that is why we have this new concept.  Although a  lot has been achieved,  we still have some remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists around. Our ultimate aim is to force Boko Haram to surrender. We should be able to strangulate them. We should be able to take the fight to them.” In a related development, Yobe State Governor  Mai-Mala Buni has started the construction of Buni-Yadi township road. Buni-Yadi, at the peak of the Boko Haram crisis, was one of the few local government areas captured in Yobe State. The governor said on Wednesday the road project was a fulfilment of one of the promises that he made during the electioneering.”


Xinhuanet: Somali Forces Arrest Al-Shabab Leader Behind Blasts In Mogadishu

“The Somali security agency said Wednesday they are interrogating a senior al-Shabab leader behind recent attack that led to the death of former official of a regional administration in Mogadishu. Somali National Security and Intelligence Agency (NISA) said the suspect whose identity was not disclosed staged an attack on Sunday in Mogadishu that claimed the life of Mohamed Amin Sheikh Elmi, a former secretary at Banadir administration. NISA said the suspect was arrested at his house in Mogadishu during a security operation that also saw the officers seize phones, batteries and other bomb making materials. Elmi succumbed to injuries he sustained following an explosion that targeted his vehicle on Sunday in the restive city. The al-Qaida allied group which has been fighting for the overthrow of the Western-backed government claimed responsibility for the Sunday's blast.”


The Jerusalem Post: German Hezbollah Mosque Declares It Is Proud Of Terrorism And Pro-Khamenei

“The Hezbollah mosque in the German city of Münster posted a shocking video in December, 2018 on its Facebook page, announcing it was proud of terrorism and its allegiance to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The Washington-based organization, The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), first revealed the video and wrote on its website “Poem Recited in a Münster, Germany Shiite Mosque: We Have Pledged Allegiance to Khamenei; We Are Accused of Terrorism and Are Proud of It .” According to a MEMRI transcription of the video from the Imam Mahdi Zentrum Shiite mosque in Münster, in the German state North Rhine-Westphalia, a man recited a poem with the lyrics, “We have pledged our allegiance to the Jurisprudent Ruler [Khamenei]. We are soldiers willing to sacrifice our lives for Nasrallah [‘Victory of Allah’]. We belong to the party of Ruhollah [Khomeini]. We have been accused of being terrorists – we are proud of terrorism. ”Listen all nations! Listen, oh Wahhabis! The roaring Arab wave will never retreat. The convoys will not wait long with their march. We will not come to you in small numbers. We will come to you from all over.”

Southeast Asia

The New York Times: New Zealand Vowed To Listen To Muslims After Christchurch. It’s Failing, They Say

“Ten days after a gunman killed dozens of people at two Christchurch mosques, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised answers. Her government, she said, would commission an investigation to delve into the concern haunting every New Zealander, but especially the country’s Muslims: Could the terrorist attack have been prevented? The inquiry, she said, would make a priority of consulting with the Muslim community, a group long overlooked and now desperate for assurances about their safety. But halfway through what is expected to be an eight-month investigation, members of a panel of influential Muslims appointed to advise the inquiry say they have been sidelined by the officials conducting it.”


The Wall Street Journal: National Security Concerns Threaten Undersea Data Link Backed By Google, Facebook

“U.S. officials are seeking to block an undersea cable backed by Google, Facebook Inc. and a Chinese partner, in a national security review that could rewrite the rules of internet connectivity between the U.S. and China, according to people involved in the discussions. The Justice Department, which leads a multiagency panel that reviews telecommunications matters, has signaled staunch opposition to the project because of concerns over its Chinese investor, Beijing-based Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group Co., and the direct link to Hong Kong the cable would provide, the people said. Ships have already draped most of the 8,000-mile Pacific Light Cable Network across the seafloor between the Chinese territory and Los Angeles, promising faster connections for its investors on both sides of the Pacific. The work so far has been conducted under a temporary permit expiring in September. But people familiar with the review say it is in danger of failing to win the necessary license to conduct business because of the objections coming from the panel, known as Team Telecom.”