Eye on Extremism: August 31

The Hill: US Considers Guantanamo, Iraqi Prisons For ISIS Fighters Captured By Syrian Rebels: Report

“The Trump administration is considering sending hundreds of captured ISIS fighters held in Syria to an Iraqi prison or the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, NBC News reported Monday. Five U.S. officials told NBC that several of the highest-value fighters could possibly go to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Those detainees include Alexandar Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, two Islamic State fighters who took part in killing Americans, including journalists James Foley Steven Sotloff, and other Western hostages. A group of about 600 ISIS fighters are currently being held by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in a rebel-controlled area of Syria, the U.S. officials confirmed. The SDF, a majority Kurdish militia, do not have the resources to detain, prosecute or protect the detainees it continues its fight against ISIS. Complicating matters is the fact that many of the prisoners are foreign-born and there has been difficulty in convincing their home countries to repatriate them. The administration’s proposal would send most detainees to Iraq to be held in Iraqi prisons with Iraqi guards. The U.S. might keep the right to prosecute them if their home countries won’t take them. Prisons under consideration include the detention facility at al Asad Airbase in Anbar Province. The U.S has discussed the option with the Baghdad, but does not yet have an agreement, according to three U.S. officials.”

Reuters: Exclusive: Iran Moves Missiles To Iraq In Warning To Enemies

“Iran has given ballistic missiles to Shi’ite proxies in Iraq and is developing the capacity to build more there to deter attacks on its interests in the Middle East and to give it the means to hit regional foes, Iranian, Iraqi and Western sources said. Any sign that Iran is preparing a more aggressive missile policy in Iraq will exacerbate tensions between Tehran and Washington, already heightened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. It would also embarrass France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the three European signatories to the nuclear deal, as they have been trying to salvage the agreement despite new U.S. sanctions against Tehran. According to three Iranian officials, two Iraqi intelligence sources and two Western intelligence sources, Iran has transferred short-range ballistic missiles to allies in Iraq over the last few months. Five of the officials said it was helping those groups to start making their own.”

The New Yorker: ISIS Makes A Comeback—As Trump Opts To Stay In Syria

“In April, President Trump vowed to bring American troops home from Syria. “I want to get out,” he said during a press conference. The United States had spent trillions of dollars in the Middle East over the past seventeen years, he complained. “We get nothing—nothing out of it.” He called it “a horrible thing.” The United States had been “very successful against isis,” he said, “but sometimes it’s time to come back home.” By then, ninety-five per cent of the isis pseudo-caliphate in Syria and Iraq—once the size of Indiana—had been liberated. U.S. officials claimed that tens of thousands of isis fighters had been killed; a residual force, no more than three thousand strong, was isolated in two small pockets of Syria near the Iraqi border. The goal was to get the two thousand U.S. troops, pivotal in providing strategy and intelligence to the Syria rebels fighting isis, out in the early fall.”

The Telegraph: Facebook Risks Being Dragged Into War Crime Trials, UN Warns

“The United Nations has warned Facebook that it risks being dragged into international war crimes trials for its role in future human rights violations, as it called on the social network to address hate speech more quickly. Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein, the UN’s human rights chief, said the company risked becoming an accessory to horrific crimes and that the company had not taken violence in Burma incited on the social network seriously. It comes after a UN report into atrocities in Burma this week said Facebook had been “a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate”. On Monday, the company banned dozens of accounts, including the military chief’s own page, in the country, where 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled rape and mass murder, Facebook has been accused of allowing false information and hate speech on its platform to spread across Burma, whipping up violence.”

The New York Times: Mob Protests In Chemnitz Show New Strength Of Germany’s Far Right

“Waving German flags, with some flashing Nazi salutes, the angry mob made its way through the streets, chasing after dark-skinned bystanders as police officers, vastly outnumbered, were too afraid to intervene. A Syrian refugee and father of two, Anas al-Nahlawie, watched horrified from a friend’s fourth-floor balcony. They were hunting in packs for immigrants just like him, he said. “Like wolves.” For a few perilous hours over two days this week, the mob owned the streets of Chemnitz, where anger exploded after word spread that an Iraqi and a Syrian asylum seeker were suspected in a knife attack that killed a German man early Sunday. Chemnitz, a city of some 250,000 in eastern Germany, has a history of neo-Nazi protests. Usually they draw a few hundred from the fringes of society — and far larger counter-demonstrations, city officials say. The crowd this time was 8,000-strong. Led by several hundred identifiable neo-Nazis, it appeared to be joined by thousands of ordinary citizens. More marches are planned Saturday.”

United States

Bloomberg: Trump Says Iranian Regime May Collapse Because Of His Policies

“President Donald Trump said the Iranian regime may collapse because of his administration’s policies, including leaving the international nuclear agreement with Tehran negotiated by his predecessor. “When I came into here, it was a question of when would they take over the Middle East,” Trump said Thursday in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg News. “Now it’s a question of will they survive. It’s a big difference in one and a half years.” The president didn’t elaborate on the comment. Trump -- encouraged by Iran’s regional foes -- pulled the U.S. from the 2015 international nuclear accord in May, accusing the Islamic Republic of threatening Middle East security as it expands its regional influence. He reimposed sanctions on Iran this month, with Iran’s vital oil industry due to face penalties beginning in November.”

The Wall Street Journal: Military Believes Trump’s Afghan War Plan Is Working, But Spy Agencies Are Pessimistic

“U.S. military and intelligence officials are at odds over the direction of the war in Afghanistan, creating a new source of friction as President Trump and his national security team seek a way to end the 17-year-old conflict, American officials said. Intelligence officials have a pessimistic view of the conflict, according to people familiar with a continuing classified assessment, while military commanders are challenging that conclusion by arguing that Mr. Trump’s South Asia strategy is working. The divisions come as the Trump administration is sending a new U.S. general to Kabul—the ninth in 11 years—to oversee international forces carrying out a year-old strategy that has yet to produce much measurable progress in Afghanistan. Some officials overseeing the war are concerned that a negative intelligence assessment could prompt Mr. Trump to shift course and abandon a strategy he reluctantly embraced last year that sent thousands of additional American troops to Afghanistan.”

Reuters: U.S. Army Sergeant In Hawaii Admits Supporting Islamic State

“A U.S. Army sergeant stationed in Hawaii will serve 25 years in prison after admitting he attempted to provide material support to the Islamic State militant group, federal prosecutors said.  Ikaika Erik Kang, 35, was working as a military air traffic controller based at Schofield Barracks in Oahu when he was arrested last year after an investigation that involved undercover agents and sources who posed as Islamic State operatives and sympathizers, the FBI has said. Kang, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to four counts of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the U.S. Justice Department said. Under a plea deal with federal prosecutors, he agreed to serve 25 years in prison and then at least 20 years of supervised release. “Kang swore to defend the United States as a member of our military but betrayed his country by swearing allegiance to ISIS and attempting to provide material support to the foreign terrorist organization,” John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement. According to court documents, Kang became sympathetic to Islamic State by at least early 2016 and regularly watched the group’s online propaganda, including execution videos. He also made numerous statements supporting Islamic State, talked about wanting to join the group and spoke approvingly about committing acts of violence, prosecutors said.”

The Los Angeles Times: Sept. 11 Is Still Killing FBI Agents: 'It's Like Bin Laden Reaching Out From The Grave'

“FBI Agent Dave LeValley was driving to work in Manhattan when he saw the first jetliner strike the World Trade Center on a bright September morning 17 years ago. He quickly parked his car and sprinted to the scene, where he scoured for evidence and helped survivors while dodging falling debris and bodies. When the first tower collapsed, he dove into a bodega, escaping with his life. What he couldn’t outrun: the toxic cloud of dust. “We saw him a couple of hours later, and he looked like a snowman, covered head to toe in that stuff,” said Gregory W. Ehrie, a fellow FBI agent who spent several weeks with LeValley digging in the rubble. LeValley, who joined the FBI in 1996 and rose to lead the bureau’s Atlanta office, was diagnosed in 2008 with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He died in May, age 53, from a different form of cancer that had metastasized to his brain. FBI officials and health experts say both were likely caused by carcinogenic fumes and dust after the Sept. 11 attacks. While one FBI agent was killed in the attacks, 15 have died from cancers linked to toxic exposure during the subsequent investigation and cleanup, the FBI says. Three of them, including LeValley, have died since March — a rash of deaths that has reopened traumas of the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history and sparked fresh anxieties.”


The Washington Post: Syria’s Last Rebel Stronghold Braces For The Regime’s Wrath

“After seven brutal years of war, all signs are pointing to a final showdown in Syria. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad, buoyed by support from Russia and Iran, has systematically reclaimed territories once in the hands of insurgents. Now it is preparing an offensive against the last rebel enclave: Idlib, a largely rural province that abuts the country’s northwestern border with Turkey. International observers are warning of a potential humanitarian catastrophe. “There is a perfect storm coming up in front of our eyes,” said Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations' envoy to Syria. Roughly 3 million people live in Idlib, more than half of whom are Syrians displaced from other parts of the country. As rebel bastions fell to Assad's forces in other parts of the country, tens of thousands of civilians trapped in those areas agreed to be evacuated to Idlib as part of cease-fire deals brokered with the regime. The province became a hotbed of the Syrian opposition, including a number of Islamist militant factions that dominate the enclave. The most powerful is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an Islamist militant group formerly affiliated with al-Qaeda that has participated in terrorist attacks and the killing of civilians. Idlib is also home to vast camps of displaced people and endemic poverty — as many 1.6 million people in the province rely on food assistance, according to the World Health Organization.”

The Washington Post: How To Stanch Syria’s Bloody Final Showdown

“As the Syrian tragedy lurches toward a bloody final showdown in Idlib province, the Trump administration is struggling to check Russia and the Assad regime from an assault there that U.N. Secretary General António Guterres warns would be a “humanitarian catastrophe.” The administration’s efforts are so late in coming, and so limited, it’s hard to muster much hope they can reverse seven years of American failure. But at least the administration has stopped the dithering and indecision of the past 18 months and signaled that the United States has enduring interests in Syria, beyond killing Islamic State terrorists — and that it isn’t planning to withdraw its Special Operations forces from northeastern Syria anytime soon. “Right now, our job is to help create quagmires [for Russia and the Syrian regime] until we get what we want,” says one administration official, explaining the effort to resist an Idlib onslaught. This approach involves reassuring the three key U.S. allies on Syria’s border — Israel, Turkey and Jordan — of continued American involvement.”

The New York Times: Why This Doctor Is Choosing To Stay In Syria Video

“To his family and the lives of the patients he’s saved, Dr. Mohammed al-Bardan is a hero. To the government of President Bashar al-Assad, he’s an enemy of Syria. Throughout the country’s devastating civil war, Mr. Assad’s forces and their allies have killed hundreds of medical personnel and attacked hospitals, including a missile strike against the one where Dr. Bardan worked. Despite the threats to his life, he stayed. “Leaving meant leaving Syria with no doctors,” he said. We met Dr. Bardan nearly three months ago during a short reprieve from the war. He was among a small group of Syrian doctors granted permission to travel to Jordan for a week of training in new surgery techniques. During that time, Dr. Bardan was briefly reunited with his sister, who fled with her family to Jordan when the fighting started years ago. But Dr. Bardan would soon return to Syria. By June, his city was under attack and captured by Mr. Assad’s forces.”

The Atlantic: The Kurds Once Again Face American Abandonment

“Once again, a Kurdish ally of the United States has no idea where it stands with Washington. Since 2014, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) has received arms and military advice from the United States, and proved instrumental in the campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. But with the Trump administration signaling its intention to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, the YPG suddenly faces an uncertain future. Hedging its bets, the YPG has twice sent a delegation to Damascus over the past month to start negotiations over a possible transition in northeast Syria. But the regime, on the verge of victory in Syria’s seven-year civil war, has proven inflexible. Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, has repeatedly announced his intention to reclaim “every inch” of Syrian territory. That includes the zone controlled by the YPG, an area that also comprises the majority-Kurdish region the Kurds call Rojava. The question is how and when he will attempt to do so. The answer depends, in part, on what role Russia and the United States will play in managing the future of northeast Syria; both have a stake in the outcome, and could conceivably find common ground on the Kurdish question.”

CBS News: 2 Americans Develop Vast Network To Alert Millions Of Syrians Of Impending Airstrikes

“The U.N. special envoy to Syria warned on Thursday that 3 million civilians could be at risk if the Assad regime launches a large-scale invasion against rebels in Idlib province. Violence can happen at a moment's notice in Syria, but two Americans have designed a way to warn civilians before an airstrike. John Jaeger and Dave Levin grew up in Chicago and Dallas, where they worked jobs in finance and consulting. But now they've become unlikely heroes in Syria's seven-year-long civil war, where they have saved lives. "These are preventable deaths, and that's why we do what we do," Jaeger said. Back in 2012, Jaeger had taken a job with the State Department, deployed to Turkey to help Syrians displaced by the civil war. But as he watched the carnage from the sidelines, he grew frustrated. "The idea was essentially to tell people before an airstrike could reach them, so that they could take mitigating action and save their lives," Jaeger said.”

Voice Of America: Syria Is Lone Nation Using Cluster Munitions, Group Says

“The Cluster Munition Coalition says Syria, with Russia's support, remains the only country still using cluster munitions, a weapon that has been outlawed by most of the world. Since the treaty banning cluster munitions took effect 10 years ago, 103 states have joined and another 17 have signed on but not yet ratified it. Syria, which is not party to the treaty, reportedly has been using cluster munitions since mid-2012, about one year after civil war broke out there. According to the Cluster Munition Coalition — an international civil society movement that campaigns against the devices — Syria denies possessing or using such weapons. Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch is an editor of ​Cluster Munition Monitor 2018, the latest annual report of the Cluster Munition Coalition, a global group of nongovernmental organizations co-founded and chaired by HRW. She said the use of both air-dropped and ground-launched cluster munitions had increased since Russia joined Syrian military operations in 2015, but that their use had fallen off this year.”


Jerusalem Post: New Images Show Iranian Surface-To-Surface Missile Facility In Syria

“New satellite images of an area in northwestern Syria show the establishment a new Iranian surface-to-surface missile factory which may house weapons capable of striking Israel. The images taken by ImageSat International (ISI) purport to show evidence suggesting that Iran is continuing to build various facilities related to the development and production of surface-to-surface missiles (SSM) in the area of Wadi Jahannam near Baniyas. According to ImageSat, some of the structures at the site which is involved in the manufacturing and assembly facility of different SSM types have similar visual characteristics as structures built at SSM facilities in Parchin and Khojir in Iran. “Therefore, it is probable that the same elements are responsible for their planning and construction,” ImageSat wrote in their analysis, adding that the facility is in its final stages of construction and will likely be completed by early 2019.”

Reuters: Iran Rejects French Call For Further Negotiations

“Iran’s foreign ministry on Friday dismissed a French call for more negotiations with Tehran over the international nuclear accord and said some of France’s partners are “bullying and excessive,” a seeming reference to the United States. There was no need for the 2015 agreement between Iran and six world powers to be renegotiated, foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). “In the conditions when all of Iran’s efforts with other world powers is nullified through the bullying and excessive demands of some of the partners of the French foreign minister and their own inability ... there is no reason, need, reliability or trust for negotiations on issues that are non-negotiable,” Qassemi said. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that, following the U.S. pullout from the agreement, Tehran should be ready to negotiate on its future nuclear plans, its ballistic missile arsenal and its role in wars in Syria and Yemen.”


The Washington Post: Iraqi Terrorist Turned Politician Told U.S. Interrogators He Worked With Iran To Kill Americans

“A decade ago, a captive Iraqi terrorist leader told his U.S. interrogators all about how Shiite militias worked with Iran, Hezbollah and each other to attack American soldiers in Iraq. Now, as that terrorist is set to wield significant political power in Iraq, the details of his interrogations are being released for the first time. It has long been known that Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) militia, had close ties to Iran and Hezbollah as he waged his long fight against U.S. troops in Iraq. But the extent to which he worked with the Americans who detained him in 2007 and sold out his Iranian paymasters and turned on his Shiite militia allies is shocking. U.S. Central Command recently declassified dozens of Khazali’s interrogation reports as part of a project to document the history of the Iraq War, and the American Enterprise Institute has now published all of them on its website. “You read these reports and you see what a vicious terrorist Qais al-Khazali is, how deeply entwined he is in Iran’s anti-American covert network, how much American blood he has on his own hands, and then you turn around and realize that this guy is probably about to be a minister in the Iraqi government,” said Kenneth Pollack, resident scholar at AEI. “It makes you realize how far Iraq has fallen, and how badly we have handled Iraq in recent years.”

Iraqi News: Two Islamic State Members Arrested In Kirkuk: Federal Police

“The Iraqi Federal Police have announced arresting two Islamic State leaders in Kirkuk province. In a statement, Lt. Gen. Shaker Jawdat said troops managed today “during an operation to arrest two Islamic State leaders in Kirkuk.” One of the leaders, according to the statement, “is called Mohamed al-Hamdani, known as Abu Akab, who is the security leader of the group in al-Zab region. The other one is Maher al-Obeidi, leader of the Islamic State cells in al-Riyad region.” “Through investigations, information was obtained on presence of rest houses, which include huge amounts of explosives and ammunition, which were destroyed,” he added. Earlier today, three tribal mobilization fighters have been wounded in a bomb blast in al-Riyad region. Two Federal Police personnel were killed, while a third was injured as a booby-trapped vehicle, driven by a suicide attacker, exploded targeting a security checkpoint in al-Abbassi region in Hawija. In December, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced gaining control on all the territories that were captured by Islamic State, since 2014. Thousands of militants as well as Iraqi civilians were killed since the government campaign, backed by paramilitary troops and the coalition was launched in October 2016 to fight the militant group, which declared a self-styled “caliphate” from Mosul in June 2014. Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks across Iraq against troops. Security reports indicate that the militant group still poses threat against stability in the country. The group still has dormant cells, through which it carries out attacks, across Iraq like it used to do before 2014.”


Al Jazeera: US Pastor Held In Turkey Prepared To Go To European Court: Lawyer

“A US pastor under house arrest in Turkey is prepared take his case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) unless the Turkish judiciary sets him free, his lawyer told Al Jazeera. The case against Andrew Brunson, who is being held on terrorism charges, has triggered a full-blown diplomatic dispute between Washington and Ankara with no end in sight. A Turkish court in the western province of Izmir on August 17 rejected an appeal to release Brunson, upholding a judgment taken by a lower court earlier in the week. Ismail Cem Halavurt, Brunson's lawyer, said that they would go to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in Turkey, within weeks as the last effort to find a domestic remedy to Brunson's situation. "We will receive a formal notification on the latest verdict by the criminal court in Izmir soon. Then we have a month to appeal it at the Constitutional Court," Halavurt said, adding that Brunson's "right to liberty and security" as well as "right to travel" have been breached. "Unless the Constitutional Court frees him, we will have to take the case to the ECHR as the domestic legal remedies we can seek will be exhausted," he added. Turkey is one of 47 signatories of the European Convention on Human Rights that established the supranational human rights court, which makes binding verdicts.”


The Defense Post: First Video Of Bangladesh Al-Qaeda Fighters In Afghanistan Appears Online

“The first video purportedly showing Bangladeshi al-Qaeda fighters launching attacks against foreign forces in Afghanistan has emerged online. The over 12-minute video in Bengali was first posted on an online library last week before it was uploaded to several other websites. It features several supposed Bangladeshi fighters preparing for and launching attacks in the conflicted nation. Around a dozen men are first shown preparing for what appears to be an artillery system attack from high ground. It also shows their low-lying target, a blue-roofed compound that the video claims houses U.S and Afghan troops. One man, whose face is blurred, appears to be the unit’s leader and gives a pre-attack briefing. Later, the militants are seen firing four shots which draw a barrage of automatic gunfire in response.”

Voice Of America: Afghan Taliban Urges Retaliation For Planned Dutch Cartoon Contest

“The Taliban urged Afghan soldiers on Thursday to attack Dutch troops serving in the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in retaliation for a contest of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad planned by far-right politician Geert Wilders. The Taliban threat was issued shortly before Wilders announced Thursday that he was calling off the contest because it posed too great a threat of provoking violence against innocents. In a statement, the Taliban's main spokesman called the contest a blasphemous action and a hostile act by the Netherlands against all Muslims. Members of the Afghan security forces, "if they truly believe themselves to be Muslims or have any covenant towards Islam, should turn their weapons on Dutch troops" or help Taliban fighters attack them, the statement said. Around 100 Dutch troops are serving in the 16,000-strong Resolute Support mission to train and advise Afghan forces, according to the Dutch defense ministry. About half of the NATO-led force is made up of Americans. Wilders' far-right Freedom Party, which has become the second largest in the Netherlands, announced the competition in June, saying it had the right to hold it under freedom-of-speech laws. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had said that he didn't support the planned contest but that he would defend Wilders' right to hold it. Images of the Prophet Muhammad are traditionally forbidden in Islam, and caricatures are regarded by most Muslims as deeply offensive. In 2005, a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet that sparked a wave of protests across the world. Ten years later, Islamist gunmen killed 12 people in an attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had published similar caricatures.”

TOLO News: Helping Afghanistan With Defence, Counter Terrorism’

“Director-General of Policy and Strategy of The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ashraf Haidari said on Wednesday that “the Taliban insurgency has enabled several terrorist networks with global and regional reach to operate out of Afghanistan” “At the same time, this imposed insecurity, has enabled a permissive environment for mass drug cultivation and production in Afghanistan, which now provides more than 90 percent of regional and global demand for drugs,” Haidari said at the Indian Ocean Conference 2018 themed “Building Regional Architectures”. He said that in the past 17 years, Afghanistan has been a “victim of external aggression in the form of terrorism,” adding that “as a proxy of a coastal state, the Taliban have daily killed and maimed innocent Afghans, while destroying the infrastructure that should help connect and integrate Afghanistan with our surrounding resourceful regions in the North and South for increased trade, business and investment.” In turn, revenue from the drug trade finance terrorism and fuel dysfunctional corruption that undermines governance and rule of law, which together destabilize drug producing and transit countries alike, he said. He noted that because of the interconnectedness of these imposed security challenges, Afghanistan is facing a complex humanitarian crisis with diminishing human security. “This makes our country a major source of refugees and asylum seekers, who are often ferried by human smugglers to Europe, Australia and elsewhere. As we see, what is imposed on and happens in countries like Afghanistan directly affect maritime security,” he said. He pointed out that the best way to fight poverty that feeds terrorism is to foster political and security confidence-building through regional economic cooperation.”


Associated Press: Yemen Rebel Threats To Dubai Show Danger Looms

“A false claim by Yemen’s Houthi rebels of an attack on the world’s busiest airport for international travel this week may have been quickly disproven by authorities in Dubai. That doesn’t mean, however, it can be taken too lightly. The insistence of the Houthis and hard-line media in Iran on trumpeting the falsehood serves as a warning to the city-state and other parts of the United Arab Emirates, now engaged in the yearslong Yemen war led by Saudi Arabia. And while a previous threat carried by Iranian media drew an immediate government response from censors, this one went by without censure. That means as American sanctions sparked by President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal increase, so too will the threats against the U.S.-allied UAE. The recent war of words began Monday afternoon. The Houthi-controlled satellite news channel Al-Masirah and others began claiming without offering any evidence that they attacked Dubai International Airport, a massive transit hub in the sheikhdom that saw 88.2 million passengers last year alone.”

Al Arabiya: Over 200 Houthi Militants, Commanders Killed In Saada, Hajjah Battlefronts

“More than 200 Houthi militants and commanders were killed, and dozens others injured in confrontations during the past three days in Hajjah with the Yemeni army, military sources reported. Sources in Hajjah said that the army was able to destroy ballistic missile launch pads, while the Arab Coalition’s air raids targeted 18 Houthi militias’ bases. The Yemeni army continued to push forward in various areas of Saada amid intense battles where it was able to regain control of the al-Thaher and Bakil al-Meer districts. This comes after the army had liberated the Hiran district. Houthi militants suffered dozens of losses and injuries in the Miran region in Saada, including the killing of three field commanders, Ahmed Yehia al-Noumani, Salah Mohammed Jaadar and Salah Mohammed Ali Bedash. According to the military source, army forces were able to liberate several villages and areas in three districts.”

Global News: U.S. Forces Launched Six Air Strikes Against Al-Qaida In Yemen Since May

“U.S. forces say they conducted six strikes against al-Qaida targets in Yemen since May, with the most recent operation carried out in mid-August. In a Wednesday press release, U.S. Central Command said the air strikes were carried out between May 25 and Aug. 14 in three different governorates. The operations bring the total number of counter-terrorism air strikes conducted by the U.S. in Yemen to 34. A Central Command spokesperson said AQAP — the acronym for al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula, active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia — has been leveraging the chaos in Yemen by using the country as a base from which to plot, direct and encourage terrorist activity abroad. “We will not relent on our pursuit of AQAP terrorists as they remain a significant threat to regional security and stability, and the safety of Americans at home and abroad,” said the spokesperson. Yemen has been engulfed in a conflict between its government — backed by the Saudi-led coalition with the blessing of the U.S. — and Houthi rebels supported by Iran. The announcement of air strikes comes on the heels of an Associated Press investigation which revealed that the Saudi-U.S. coalition recruited AQAP fighters to assist in the fight against the Houthis.”

Saudi Arabia

Arab News: Saudi Arabian Air Defense Forces Intercept Ballistic Missile Fired By Houthis Toward Najran

“Saudi Arabian air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Houthi militia from Yemen toward Najran on Thursday evening. The missile was part of a flurry of attacks on the Kingdom in recent weeks by the Iranian-backed Houthis, who have now fired more than 180 missiles into southern Saudi Arabia. The Arab coalition fighting the Houthi militia in Yemen has repeatedly stressed the involvement of Iran in supporting the Houthis and supplying them with missiles to threaten Saudi Arabia’s security and regional security.”


The Washington Examiner: Qatar Is A Poor American Ally; Trump Should Leave Its Airbase Upgrades Empty

“President Trump should pick up the phone — or get on Twitter — and tell Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani that the U.S. won't use expanded base facilities in Qatar and will consider relocating the U.S. military out of Qatar entirely. Unless, that is, Qatar realigns its foreign policy towards greater support for regional stability and counterterrorism. The need for Trump's action bears consideration in light of a Qatari government official's announcement on Sunday that it intends to expand the Al-Udeid airbase. That base hosts the forward command elements for the Pentagon's U.S. Central Command and has played an integral role in U.S. strike operations against Bashar Assad and the Islamic State. Yet, Qatar's intent in constructing new facilities at Al-Udeid is about locking the U.S. into a long-term formal military presence in that nation. It's all part of Qatar's patronage policy of buying Western military equipment and thus buying Western political acquiescence to Qatar's broader foreign policy.”

Middle East

Pakistan Today: Bahrain Charges 13 With ‘Terrorism’

“Bahrain’s attorney general on Thursday said 13 people have been charged with terrorism offenses, over suspected ties to an anti-government protest movement that first emerged in 2011. “Charges of forming and funding a terrorist cell have been filed against six persons in custody and another seven charged in absentia,” said attorney general Ahmad al-Hamadi. Hamadi said the 13 had ties to Bahrain’s so-called “February 14 Coalition” a reference to a protest movement that emerged in 2011 against the al-Khalifa dynasty, which has ruled Bahrain for more than two centuries. The group will also face charges of targeting police in a trial which is due to open on September 19. Protests have continued to rock the Sunni-ruled, Shia-majority kingdom as authorities escalate their clampdown on political dissent, frequently accusing opposition figures of links to Shia Iran. Since 2011, hundreds of Bahrainis have been stripped of their citizenship and protesters and opposition leaders have been jailed or driven into exile. Bahrain accuses Iran of supporting the opposition in a bid to overthrow the government, but Tehran denies involvement. Manama has drawn harsh criticism from leading rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, over its treatment of the opposition. A key ally of Washington located between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran, Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet.”


The Washington Times: Boko Haram's Reign Of Terror Reignites Nigeria's Religious Wars

“Isa Salisu ran almost a mile without stopping in a bid to escape his attackers at a military checkpoint in Jos, a large city in north-central Nigeria. “Three of us were returning from the cattle market,” said Mr. Salisu, a 20-year-old herder, recalling how he and two friends were driving 150 miles from the city of Bukuru to their home in Barkin Ladi, closer to the national capital of Abuja. “Our vehicle was ambushed.” Knife-wielding youths belonging to the Berom, a Christian ethnic group of farmers, attacked Mr. Salisu’s car. He was eventually able to escape, but his companions were not so lucky. They were hacked to death. The reason for the ambush: Mr. Salisu and his friends were Muslim members of the Fulani ethnic group who mostly raise cattle. They were caught in a place and time of particularly tense relations between Nigeria’s Christian and Muslim populations. The attack was just another incident in a budding religious war that many fear could grow far worse than the conflict against Boko Haram, the Islamic State-affiliated terrorist group that rampaged across the country’s remote north for almost a decade until Nigerian forces launched a serious campaign against them two years ago.”

Al Jazeera: Despite Threats, Nigerian Radio Station Battles Boko Haram On Air

“When a Boko Haram fighter called in during Hauwa Tiramisu's late-evening radio programme at Dandal Kura International last summer, the presenter froze. "He said what we are doing is bad and forbidden," she said. "[He said] we are working with the government and they'd come for us. "I was shocked. I was really shocked. I was afraid that night." Three months earlier, Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, released a video describing the radio station's female employees as prostitutes. "Listen! That radio station called Dandal Kura, with those prostitutes you parade as your female workers. May Allah curse all of you," Shekau says, in the local Kanuri language. Over the past seven years, Boko Haram has been attempting to install a caliphate in northeast Nigeria.  Since 2009, at least 20,000 people have been killed because of violence. More than five million people do not have regular access to food and nearly two million people have been displaced. Launched in the northwestern state of Kano in 2015, Dandal Kura was established by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with Nigerian journalist and manager Faruk Dalhatu and David Smith, the station's Canadian project lead. In 2016, the channel - which is editorially independent - moved to Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, as relative peace returned to the city.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: London Teenager Arrested On Suspicion Of Terrorism Offences

“A 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences after officers discovered an “unknown substance” during a routine raid, Scotland Yard said. The teenager was detained on suspicion of the “commission, preparation or instigation” of offences under the Terrorism Act after police searched a property in west London on Wednesday morning. Local officers carried out the raid at about 9.55am and found an imitation firearm and cannabis plants as well as the unknown substance, Metropolitan police said. The latter find prompted an escalation to the counterterrorism command and the substance will be sent for urgent analysis to determine what it is, the force said. The boy was also arrested on suspicion of possessing an imitation firearm and the cultivation of cannabis and is being held at a south London police station while inquiries continue.”


Sydney Morning Herald: Phd Student Charged With Sydney Terrorism Plot

“A PhD student working at the University of NSW has been arrested by police after a notebook allegedly containing terrorist ideology inspired by Islamic State was found on the eastern suburbs campus. Police on Friday said a colleague of 25-year-old Sri Lankan national Mohamed Kamer Nilar Nizamdeen found the notebook filled with locations and individuals that would be the subject of an alleged terrorist plot. It is understood that the alleged potential attack was planned for several months away and involved iconic landmarks in Sydney. Police were called to the university, where Mr Nizamdeen works as an IT contractor, on Thursday and arrested and charged him with making a document connected to the preparation of a terrorist act. "They are symbolic locations within Sydney," said NSW Police's Detective acting Superintendent Mick Sheehy at a press conference on Friday morning.”

ABC: Alleged Islamic State Affiliate Charged With Possessing Blueprint To Attack 'Symbolic' Sydney Locations

“A 25-year-old Sri Lankan man accused of being an Islamic State affiliate has been charged with possessing a blueprint to target several "symbolic" Sydney locations. The University of New South Wales contractor appeared in Waverley Local Court today where he was refused bail, with the matter adjourned to October 24. Mr Nizamdeen is in Australia on a student visa, and police will allege they found documents containing plans to facilitate terrorism attacks on the university campus. Police searched a unit on Defries Avenue in Zetland about 2:00am today, where they seized several electronic items. They are currently searching his workplace. Australian Federal Police (AFP) detective superintendent Michael McTiernan said the charges were "serious and significant". "It is quite a significant document which requires further analysis," he said.”

Daily Dose

Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.


On January 15, 2019, al-Shabaab gunmen stormed an upscale hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. The attack lasted over 12 hours, killing 22 people and wounding 27 others.   

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