Eye on Extremism: August 6

The Washington Post: Syrian Troops Resume Offensive On Rebel Stronghold In Idlib

“The Syrian army said Monday it will resume its offensive against the northwestern Idlib province, the last opposition-held stronghold, accusing insurgents there of violating a recent truce. Opposition activists reported airstrikes had resumed in the southern parts of the enclave, which is located on the Turkish border. Meanwhile, Turkish and American military officials began a two-day set of talks in the Turkish capital, Ankara, about establishing a safe zone in northeastern Syria to address Ankara’s concerns about U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish-led forces in that region. The Syrian military said in a statement carried by state media that insurgents in Idlib had continued to break the cease fire since it went into effect late Aug. 1. State media and opposition activists had reported repeated violations of the truce by both sides since then. The military statement said the rebels also failed to abide by an agreement reached last year to withdraw from a demilitarized zone surrounding the enclave. The cease fire marked a brief pause in the stalled government offensive against al-Qaida-linked militants and other jihadi groups, which dominate Idlib and surrounding areas. The assault on the rebel stronghold began April 30, displacing more than 400,000 people and killing hundreds.”

Yahoo News: UN Chief: Islamic State Has As Much As $300 Million To Fight

“The Islamic State extremist group has been left with as much as $300 million following the loss of its so-called “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria, “with none of the financial demands of controlling territory and population,” Secretary-General António Guterres said in a report released Monday. The report to the Security Council on the threat posed by IS warns that the lull in attacks directed by the militant group “may be temporary.” Last week, U.N. experts said in another report to the council that IS leaders are aiming to consolidate and create conditions for an “eventual resurgence in its Iraqi and Syrian heartlands.” It said the current lull in attacks “may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019.” Guterres said in the new report that while the loss of territory ended the Islamic State group's ability to generate revenue from oil fields and local people, IS is believed to be capable of directing funds to support “terrorist acts” within Iraq and Syria and abroad. It said informal money transfer businesses known as “hawaladars” are the most common method. He said looted antiquities from Iraq may be another source of revenue for IS, also known as ISIL, and returnees from the conflict said there was a special unit responsible for selling such objects.”

Voice Of America: Kurdish Leader: Turkish Offensive Will Help Re-Emergence Of IS In Syria

“As tensions between Turkey and Syrian Kurds increase, the United States seeks to play a mediating role in order to keep the focus on combating the remnants of the Islamic State (IS) terror group, a senior Syrian-Kurdish official said. In an interview with VOA at his base in northern Syria, Mazloum Abdi, the general commander of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said his group hopes that the U.S. will play a major role in calming the current escalation in northern Syria. “We believe that the U.S. is the main power that is capable of influencing Turkey's position and stop its threats against us,” he said. ”The U.S. is the leader of the NATO alliance, and so it has leverage over Turkey within the NATO framework,” Abdi told VOA. “At the same time, it has strong ties with the SDF through the anti-IS alliance. So the U.S. knows both sides very well and it is the only power that can prevent war and bring all sides together.” The SDF is a Kurdish-led military alliance that has been a major partner to Washington in the fight against IS. For weeks, Turkey has been massing its troops near its border with Syria for what appears to be an imminent attack against U.S.-backed SDF that Ankara calls terrorists.”

The Wall Street Journal: Britain, U.S. To Protect Shipping Through Strait Of Hormuz From Iranian Threats

“Britain joined the U.S. in forming an international mission to protect shipping through the Strait of Hormuz from Iranian threats, the British government said on Monday, a decision that came after London struggled to build a European maritime coalition to safeguard ships in the region. The U.K. said details of the cooperation had yet to be completed, but that it had offered to lead one of the mission’s maritime task groups. “Both the U.K. and U.S. are committed to working with allies and partners to encourage others to join and broaden the response to this truly international problem,” the U.K. government said. The U.K. was dragged into the center of the simmering crisis between Iran and the West after Iran seized a tanker flying the British flag in July. The capture came after Britain seized an Iranian tanker the U.K. claimed was carrying oil to a sanctioned entity in Syria. The U.S., meanwhile, has separately lobbied countries to join its effort to police the Middle Eastern waterway.”

The Washington Post: Explosives-Packed Car Kills 20, Injures Dozens In Cairo Collision

“A car packed with explosives detonated in downtown Cairo on Monday, killing at least 20 and injuring 47, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said. It was the highest terrorism-related death toll in the capital in more than two years. The government initially said the early-morning blast was caused by the collision of four cars. But later in the day, the Interior Ministry said the explosives-filled car was actually on its way to commit an attack in another part of the capital. ”The technical inspection also indicated that the vehicle contained explosives that caused the blast when the car collided with the other cars,” the ministry said in a statement. “It is estimated that the car was being driven to a place to be used in carrying out a terrorist operation elsewhere.” The statement added that the car was stolen a few months ago from the province of Menufia, 55 miles north of Cairo. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast. But Egyptian authorities were quick to blame Hasm, a militant group that emerged three years ago and has claimed several attacks. Egypt accuses Hasm of being the militant arm of the banned Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamist movement, once a political force, has denied the allegations.”

Motherboard: The Far Right’s Internet Protector Goes Down After Taking In 8chan

“8chan then quickly found a new protector that has counted several far-right users among its clients: Epik.com. But now, Voxility—an internet services company that worked with Epik—completely banned the new 8chan web host from its network, effectively making the controversial hate board go dark for the time being. Joshua Fisher-Birch of the Counter Extremism Project—a U.S. based terrorism watchdog, —told Motherboard it isn’t shocking that Epik had picked up 8chan as a client. “It is unfortunately no surprise that Epik would step in to keep 8chan online,” he said. “Epik has previously chosen to do business with sites that either promote violent ideologies, or amplify the voices of those who encourage extremism and terrorism. This time it’s different though.” Fisher-Birch was blunt: “This is an incredibly dangerous choice to platform extremism.”

United States

The New York Times: Shootings Renew Debate Over How To Combat Domestic Terrorism

“Law enforcement officials have sounded the alarm for months: Homegrown terrorism, including by white supremacists, is now as big a threat as terrorism from abroad. But the mass shooting in El Paso last weekend, the largest domestic terrorist attack against Hispanics in modern history, has made it glaringly clear how poorly prepared the country is to fight it. The United States spent nearly 20 years intensely focused on threats from Islamic extremists. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, rerouted the machinery of government to fight against threats of violence from the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan. But those attacks have waned in recent years, replaced by violence from white supremacists — an increasingly internet-driven phenomenon of lone wolves, not groups, that will prove immensely difficult to combat. On Monday, President Trump pledged to give federal law enforcement authorities “whatever they need” to combat domestic terrorism. The motive for the second attack of the weekend, in Dayton, Ohio, remains unknown. But even before the shootings, which left at least 31 people dead, officials said that preventing attacks from white supremacists and nationalists would require adopting the same type of broad and aggressive approach used to battle international extremism.”

The New York Times: White Terrorism Shows ‘Stunning’ Parallels To Islamic State’s Rise

“Many scholars of terrorism see worrying similarities between the rise of the Islamic State and that of white nationalist terrorism, seen most recently in the carnage in El Paso, Tex. “The parallels are stunning,” said Will McCants, a prominent expert in the field. And they are growing more notable with each new attack. Experts say that the similarities are far from a coincidence. White nationalist terrorism is following a progression eerily similar to that of jihadism under the leadership of the Islamic State, in ways that do much to explain why the attacks have suddenly grown so frequent and deadly. In both, there is the apocalyptic ideology that predicts — and promises to hasten — a civilizational conflict that will consume the world. There is theatrical, indiscriminate violence that will supposedly bring about this final battle, but often does little more than grant the killer a brief flash of empowerment and win attention for the cause. There are self-starter recruits who, gathering in social media’s dark corners, drive their own radicalization. And for these recruits, the official ideology may serve simply as an outlet for existing tendencies toward hatred and violence. Differences between white nationalists and the Islamic State remain vast.”

The New York Times: ‘Urgent Resolve’ To Fight Domestic Terrorism Faces Tall Legal Obstacles

“Within days of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the United States government began writing new laws, reinterpreting old ones and crafting aggressive new policies to defeat Al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups. In the aftermath of the deadly shootings this weekend, President Trump on Monday promised “with urgent resolve” to press a similar whatever-it-takes strategy to investigate and prevent white-supremacist violence and hate crimes. The F.B.I. has said that such racially motivated domestic terrorism now accounts for more deaths and arrests in the United States than Islamist terrorism. “We can and will stop this evil contagion,” Mr. Trump said. He ordered the F.B.I. to identify the necessary tools and promised to deliver “whatever they need.” While thin on specifics, Mr. Trump’s remarks raised the prospect of empowering the Justice Department to investigate American hate groups with the vigor that it has brought to the fight against international terrorism. “We must shine light on the dark recesses of the internet and stop mass murders before they start,” Mr. Trump said. Any such effort, however, will face serious obstacles — including the fact that there are no federal penalties for domestic terrorism.”

Reuters: Mexico To Open First Terrorism Probe Of An Event On U.S. Territory

“Mexico will investigate the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that killed 22 people, including eight Mexican citizens, as an act of terrorism and may request the suspected shooter be extradited to Mexico for trial, the country’s foreign minister said on Monday.  Mexico’s involvement in the criminal process against accused shooter Patrick Crusius comes at a time of high tension between Mexico City and Washington over issues of immigration and trade.  Eight Mexicans were killed in Saturday’s rampage at a Walmart store in the Texas border city, and six of the wounded Mexican nationals remained hospitalized on Monday, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard told reporters at the Mexican consulate in El Paso.  He said he would ask U.S. authorities to turn the bodies over to their Mexican families as soon as possible.  Ebrard said he would meet with the Mexican attorney general on Tuesday to share results of the U.S. investigation and build a terrorism case.  “We consider this an act of terrorism, in this case carried out in U.S. territory, but an act of terrorism against Mexicans,” Ebrard said at the Mexican consulate in El Paso. “It will be the first investigative case of this importance in the history of Mexico regarding terrorism in United States territory,” he added.”

NBC News: After El Paso, Dayton Shootings, World Media Warns About Right-Wing Extremism In U.S.

“Alongside a stream of condolences from foreign governments following mass shootings in Texas and Ohio over the weekend, leading international newspapers warned about the threat posed by growing white nationalism in America. While the motive of the man who killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, is still unclear, the alleged shooter in El Paso, Texas, is believed to have posted online an anti-Latino, anti-immigrant screed before the attack. In China, the Communist Party's mouthpiece newspaper, The People's Daily, ran a headline Monday declaring that “white supremacy's ghost reemerges” in the U.S. The country's hawkish, state-run Global Times newspaper carried an opinion piece saying that “hate crimes in the United States have been on the rise in recent years, and hate crimes caused by white supremacism have grown particularly rapidly.” It criticized the response of U.S. authorities, saying “'white danger' seems to have not received enough attention.” The Chinese government has yet to comment, but in June its tourism ministry issued a travel warning for the U.S. because of the number of shootings in the country.”

CBS News: “He Was Taunting Them”: Family Members Share Moments Of Terror From El Paso Shooting

“The death toll from a shooting in El Paso, Texas, rose to 22 on Monday. Two people, including an elderly woman, died for their wounds in the hospital. They are the first deaths since Saturday, when a gunman opened fire in a Walmart. Stephanie Melendez's father, David Johnson, was always by her side. On Saturday, he was by the side of his wife and Stephanie's 9-year-old daughter, shielding them from a gunman. “My mom and my daughter wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him and what he did and I couldn't even imagine, my daughter, I almost lost her,” Melendez said. Johnson is one of 22 people killed at a Walmart in El Paso on Saturday, less than three miles from the Mexican border. El Paso is considered one of the safest cities in America. Last year, the city had a total of 23 murders. In just one day, that number was nearly matched. Among the victims are new parents Jordan and Andre Anchondo, who died protecting their 2-month-old baby. CBS News is learning more about the heroes and the people they saved. A girl's soccer team was in front of the Walmart, selling lemonade. When Ray Garcia got a call from a father who was too far away to help, Garcia said he raced to the scene, pulling several kids and two moms to safety.”

Foreign Policy: The United States Can’t Put Terrorism Behind It

“Fifteen years after the 9/11 Commission published its findings, for which I was among those interviewed, we find ourselves at yet another critical juncture, with the war against the Islamic State largely won and negotiators attempting to strike a peace agreement with the Taliban. But before we attempt to put the Islamic State in the rearview mirror or agree to terms with the Taliban, we might do well to dust off the old report. The United States’ desire to put terrorism behind it is natural. The country is understandably exhausted. After 18 years of war, the metrics suggest that terrorist attacks are down. The Islamic State appears defeated, and the Taliban are discussing a pathway to peace. But is the United States done with terrorism, or is the threat regenerating in ways for which the country has not prepared? By some accounting, this past weekend’s shooting in El Paso, Texas, or the attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh last October might suggest so. There are no easy answers, but the 9/11 Commission Report raises some points for debate. The 9/11 Commission Report sought to explain how the attacks of that day could possibly have happened and what was required to avoid such a disaster in the future.”

National Review: It’s Time To Declare War On White-Nationalist Terrorism

“It’s time to face some dreadful, terrible facts. The United States is now facing a deadly challenge from a connected, radical, online-organizing community of vicious white-nationalist terrorists. They are every bit as evil as jihadists, and they radicalize in much the same way. And just like the ISIS terrorists our nation and our allies have confronted in the great cities of the West, they use the most modern of tools to advance the oldest of hatreds. America has faced waves of white-supremacist terror in the past, and there are always at least some, few extremists lurking in the dark corners of American life. We’ve come to expect the occasional act of white-supremacist violence, and we’ve sometimes explained it away as the last spasm of a dying bigotry. Beginning in 2015, however, it became apparent to those who had eyes to see that our nation was starting to experience a new youth movement of hate. The Charleston church massacre was followed by a strange — and for those who experienced it — terrifying wave of bizarre online racist harassment. The word “alt-right” entered the American lexicon. It targeted Jews, it targeted African Americans and Hispanics, and it targeted critics of Donald Trump. It obsessed over immigrants from south of the border.”

Reuters: Trump Freezes All Venezuelan Government Assets In Bid To Pressure Maduro

“U.S. President Donald Trump imposed a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States on Monday, sharply escalating an economic and diplomatic pressure campaign aimed at removing socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power. The executive order signed by Trump goes well beyond the sanctions imposed in recent months against Venezuela’s state-run oil company PDVSA and the country’s financial sector, as well as measures against dozens of Venezuelan officials and entities. Trump’s action, the toughest yet against Maduro, not only bans U.S. companies from dealings with the Venezuela government but also appears to open the door to possible sanctions against foreign firms or individuals that assist it. Russian and Chinese companies are among those still doing significant business in the South American OPEC nation. “All property and interests in property of the Government of Venezuela that are in the United States ... are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in,” according to the executive order released by the White House.”

New York Post: ‘MAGA Bomber’ Cesar Sayoc Sentenced To 20 Years In Prison

“A Manhattan federal judge has sentenced “MAGA bomber” Cesar Sayoc to 20 years in prison, with five years’ supervised release. Judge Jed Rakoff said Monday the sentence was “no more” and “no less” than what Sayoc deserved after defense lawyers argued their client should serve just 10 years of a potential life sentence. “I conclude that Sayoc, though no firearms expert, was capable of making bombs capable of exploding,” Rakoff said. “The fact he made them unable to explode was a conscious choice.” The 57-year-old Florida man terrified the country in October last year when he sent 16 improvised explosive devices to prominent liberals, including Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Robert De Niro, and CNN headquarters in Atlanta.”

The Guardian: 'White Power Ideology': Why El Paso Is Part Of A Growing Global Threat

“Reports that the suspected gunman at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, saw his mass shooting as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas” has prompted bipartisan calls for the US to treat the threat of domestic “white terrorists” as seriously as the threat of attacks by supporters of al-Qaida or Isis. But experts who study racist violence say the attack must be understood not just as a domestic problem within the United States, but as part of a global network of white nationalist radicalization and violence. The escalating global death toll from white nationalist attacks puts a spotlight on the social media companies that have allowed white nationalists to organize on their platforms with little interference, as well as on the clear parallels between white terrorists’ justification for their attacks, and the racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric of some mainstream politicians. Donald Trump has repeatedly referred to immigrants and refugees as an “invasion”. A global problem: A “manifesto” that appeared to be linked to the El Paso attack on Saturday described the growing number of Latinx people in Texas as an “invasion” that threatened the political power of white residents.”

Syria

The Jerusalem Post: ISIS Preparing Women To Participate On The Front Line Of Future Endeavors

“Head of the Iraqi Intelligence Forces Abu Ali al-Basri claimed to the Iraqi Arabic language newspaper Al Sabaah that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been preparing and training women to participate in future battles after the overwhelming defeat they suffered at the hands of coalition forces. The women fighters are being trained in Iraq, mainly in the area of Mosul, as well as in Syria and Tunisia, in order to take a more active role in the organization's upcoming terrorist aspirations. According to the report, the Iraqi intelligence commander relayed news of the recent death of an ISIS commander, who was responsible for Western, Northern and Eastern Syria, and who was close to the leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, subsequently collapsing the regime. Al-Basri added that ten of ISIS's top-ranking commanders have all been eradicated from the battle field, including al-Baghdadi's defense minister Ali Khalifeh, his deputy Abu Yahya al-Araqi as well as the jihadist group's Saudi religious authority Abu Abdulrahman al-Tamimi. Two years ago, Iraqi forces were able to retake Mosul from ISIS, largely defeating the organization on the ground. The US announced the defeat of Islamic State in Syria earlier this year; twelve hours later, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) also declared the “total elimination of the so-called caliphate.”

The National: Hezbollah Allies Intensify Hunt For Main Critic Of Syrian Regime

“Hezbollah’s Lebanese allies have escalated a violence-laced political campaign against Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, accusing him this week of liaising with foreign powers in connection with a shootout that deepened the country’s fissures. The charges against Mr Jumblatt, one of the most well-connected politicians in Lebanon, echo tactics by Iran and the Damascus regime of using the international standing of prominent dissidents to brand them traitors and make their persecution more appealing to jingoistic constituencies at home. Lebanon has been in a political crisis that had prevented its divided cabinet from convening since two bodyguards of a junior Druze minister allied with Hezbollah were killed in a shootout in June this year in the Chouf Mountains, the heartland of the Druze sect. The shootout became known as the Basateen incident. Mr Jumblatt, an outspoken opponent of Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, is the most prominent Druze figure. The country’s Druze community accounts for 5.2 per cent of Lebanon’s’ estimated population of 6.1 million.”

Iran

The Times Of Israel: Iran Said Increasing Hamas Funding To $30m Per Month, Wants Intel On Israel

“Iran has agreed to massively increase its monthly payments to Palestinian terror group Hamas in exchange for intelligence on Israeli missile capabilities, an Israeli television network reported Monday. The Islamic Republic is a longtime financial supporter of Hamas, the terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip and is committed to Israel’s destruction. In a recent meeting in Tehran between nine senior Hamas officials and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Tehran expressed willingness to raise its monthly financial backing to the terror group to an unprecedented $30 million per month, Channel 12 reported, citing an unnamed Arab source. That will represent a massive increase in Iranian support for the Gaza rulers. A report by the Ynet news site from August 2018, citing Palestinian sources, said Iran’s payments to Hamas at the time amounted to $70 million per year (less than $6 million per month). The meeting, which took place two weeks ago, was attended by Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy chief of the Hamas politburo. In exchange for the funding, Tehran asked Hamas to provide intelligence about the location of Israel’s missile stockpiles, the report said. It was not immediately clear if the raise was strictly conditioned on the intelligence provided by the terror group.”

Reuters: War With Iran Is The Mother Of All Wars: Iran President

“War with Iran is the mother of all wars, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday in a speech broadcast live on state TV, warning once again that shipping might not be safe in the Strait of Hormuz oil waterway. Tensions have risen between Iran and the West since last year when the United States pulled out of an international agreement which curbed the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in return for an easing of economic sanctions on Iran. “Peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, war with Iran is the mother of all wars,” Rouhani said at the Foreign Ministry in a speech which also praised Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif after the United States imposed sanctions on him on July 31. If the United States wants to have negotiations with Iran then it must lift all sanctions, Rouhani said, noting that Iran must be allowed to export oil.”

AFP: Iran Unveils Three New Precision-Guided Missiles

“Iran unveiled three precision-guided missiles on Tuesday, with the defence minister saying they show the country is ready to defend itself in the face of US "viciousness and conspiracies". The new line-up of air-to-air missiles dubbed the "Yasin", "Balaban" and a new series of the "Ghaem" were developed jointly by the ministry and Sa Iran, also known as Iran Electronics Industries. Defence Minister Brigadier-General Amir Hatami hailed their launch as "another significant achievement of power and dignity for the Islamic Republic of Iran". "It shows that despite the viciousness and conspiracies of the Great Satan America and its mercenaries, the defence ministry will not hesitate for a moment to defend the Islamic republic and to expand security," he said, quoted by Fars news agency. The Yasin was a smart, guided missile with folding wings that can be fired from a range of 50 kilometres (30 miles) of its target from manned or unmanned aircraft, Fars reported.”

Iraq

The National: Iraq Launches Third Phase Of Anti-ISIS Military Operation

“Iraq on Monday launched the third phase of a military operation against ISIS sleeper cells in an attempt to secure the vast western desert leading to the Syrian border, according to the military. Members of the Iraqi army, police and units of the Hashed Al Shaabi, resumed operations of the Victory Will offensive in the eastern province of Diyala and northern province of Nineveh, a military statement said.  Although Iraq declared victory against ISIS in July 2017, the extremists have turned into an insurgency and have carried out deadly attacks across the country. But the group lost the last territory they controlled in Syria in March.  Operation Victory Will was launched in July and lasted for seven days the first time. It aimed to secure the western province of Anbar and the central region of Salahuddin and Nineveh. “We press on the hands of our heroic forces that we will achieve victory with the will of its heroes against the gangs of ISIS,” Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said during a press conference last month. “May God protect you and make you victorious.” Anger in Sunni areas of Iraq laid the groundwork for ISIS to rise in 2014, when they captured the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.”

Iraqi News: Iraqi Paramilitary Forces Destroy Four Islamic State Hotbeds In Diyala

“Iraqi paramilitary forces announced on Monday the destruction of four hotbeds of the Islamic State terrorist group during a military operation in Diyala province. “Troops of the 4th and 24th brigades of the Popular Mobilization Forces, backed by Iraqi warplanes, destroyed four Islamic State hotbeds, containing clothes, foodstuffs and wireless devices as part of the third phase of the “Will of Victory” operation in al-Miqdadiyah district in Diyala,” the Arabic-language Algahd Press website quoted the media center of the Popular Mobilization Forces as saying in a press statement. “Six explosive charges were also dismantled during the military operation,” the statement read. Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq. In January 2015, Iraqi forces announced liberation of Diyala province from Islamic State extremist militants who proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq and Syria in 2014. The province has seen months of fighting between Iraqi troops and IS militants especially in the Jalawla and Saadiyah areas in the province’s north and areas near the town of Muqdadiyah.”

Turkey

ABC News: US Urges Turkey To Halt Announced Offensive Into Syria That Threatens US Allies And ISIS Jails

“The U.S. is urging Turkey not to undertake an offensive into northeastern Syria against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces that helped to defeat the Islamic State and that are now maintaining prisons with thousands of the terror group's fighters. An American military delegation is in Turkey to meet with Turkish officials and continue negotiations on an alternative to a Turkish military operation that could also threaten U.S. troops stationed in the area. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has a close relationship with President Donald Trump, announced Sunday that Turkey's military would begin the offensive imminently against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the mostly Kurdish group that served as the U.S. ground troops in the fight to destroy ISIS's caliphate in Syria. The group has ties to their Kurdish counterparts in Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, which the U.S. and Turkey consider a terrorist organization. Turkish military forces have been increasing deployments along the Turkish side of the border in recent weeks -- including heavy weaponry, tanks and artillery -- in readiness for the attack. While Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to undertake an offensive, this was the first time he said the plan had already been put in motion -- saying the U.S. and Russia had both been notified.”

Afghanistan

Al Jazeera: Afghan Policeman Opens Fire On Colleagues, Kills 7: Official

“A policeman in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province has opened fire on his colleagues, killing seven other policemen, an Afghan official said. Sunday's attack was the latest case of so-called “insider attacks” - when an Afghan policeman or soldier turns his weapon on Afghan forces or international troops. Provincial spokesperson Jamal Nasser Barekzai said the attacker fled the scene of the shooting in Shawali Kot district, adding that an investigation was under way. Taliban spokesperson Qari Yusouf Ahmadi said the attacker joined the Taliban. The armed group, which effectively controls about half the country, is currently holding talks with the United States to end the country's 18-year conflict. The latest and eighth round of negotiations began on Saturday in the Qatari capital Doha. The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants Taliban guarantees that it will not become a haven for “terrorists” while the Taliban is focused on ensuring the withdrawal of all US-led foreign forces from the country. A Taliban source told AFP news agency that efforts were under way to organise a direct meeting between US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban cofounder Mullah Baradar, who heads the movement's political wing.”

Reuters: Taliban Denounce Afghan Election, Warn That Rallies Face Attack

“The Taliban on Tuesday denounced as a sham a presidential election due next month, saying their fighters would do everything they could to block it, while urging people to stay away from rallies that could be attacked.  Instead of the Sept. 28 election, the Taliban said, the focus should be efforts to negotiate a deal with the United States that is expected to see a U.S. commitment on the withdrawal of its troops in exchange for a Taliban promise the country will not be used to plot terrorist attacks.  “This election process is nothing more than a ploy to deceive the common people ... for satisfying the ego of a limited number of sham politicians,” the Taliban said in a statement.  President Ashraf Ghani is widely expected to win a second term and has insisted the vote must go ahead as scheduled.  The U.S.-trained former World Bank official came to power in 2014 after winning a bitterly disputed election marred by accusations of cheating.  The Taliban called for a boycott and said fighters would do all they could to block the vote.  “To prevent losses ... from being incurred by our fellow compatriots, they must stay away from gatherings and rallies that could become potential targets,” the militants said. Foreign backers of the election should focus on “ending the occupation of Afghanistan and establishing true peace so that ... the ongoing peace process in these critical moments is not sabotaged for a few figures”, they added.”

CBS News: “Excellent Progress” Reported In U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks

“The United States and the Taliban have resolved differences in peace talks over U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, as well as over insurgent guarantees on cutting ties with other extremist groups, a Taliban official said Tuesday. The development came during U.S.-Taliban talks over the past two days in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office. The U.S. side did not immediately confirm or provide details of what was resolved but the U.S. envoy reported “excellent progress” in the talks. A State department spokesperson told CBS News, “There are still details to discuss.  As a result, there is no agreement yet.  Any agreement we conclude will be condition-based. We are pursuing a peace agreement, not a withdrawal agreement.” The Taliban official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the negotiations. Technical teams from the two sides were continuing discussions on Tuesday in Doha. U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been tasked with finding a peaceful resolution to the nearly 18-year war, America's longest conflict, has made intra-Afghan talks and a permanent cease-fire two of his priorities in the negotiations.”

Xinhua: 4 Civilians Killed In Motorcycle Bomb Blast In W. Afghanistan

“At least four civilians were killed and 30 others wounded in a motorcycle bomb explosion in Afghanistan’s western Herat province on Monday, the provincial public health director said. “Four killed and 30 wounded were admitted into Herat Regional Hospital following Monday evening's explosion in Police District 12 of provincial capital Herat city,” Abdul Hakim Tamana told reporters at the government hospital. The number of the casualties was likely to rise, the official added. The explosion occurred after an Improvised Explosive Device attached onto a motorcycle parked at the side of a road in Hajji Abbass neighborhood was detonated, provincial police officer Farzad Frotan told Xinhua. Frotan added that the attack took place roughly at 7:00 p.m. local time when people were preparing for evening prayers. No group has claimed responsibility so far. Over the past months, Afghanistan has witnessed waves of terror attacks by the Taliban and Islamic State (IS). On Sunday, a bicycle bombing struck a bus carrying journalists of a local TV channel in Kabul, killing two people and injuring four others.”

The New York Times: ‘It’s Like A Nightmare’: For Bombing Survivors, Anguish That Won’t Stop

“Every night, Hamdullah Hemat gulps down a 500-milligram prescription sleeping pill. He is 15 years old, a ninth grader. Last month, he saw his best friend die in a suicide bombing at their school. Mary Alimi, a 30-year-old mother of three, suffered a head injury in the same bombing. She can no longer remember her children’s names. Jamila Neyazi is 19, a schoolteacher. She suffered hand and shoulder wounds in the July 7 blast and saw many of her students cut by shattered glass, or bludgeoned by flying debris. She fears she is clinically depressed. “I feel numb,” she said. “I wish there was a calm, dark place where I could sit and cry.” There are dozens of suicide bombings in Afghanistan every year. Each is uniquely tragic, and each is swiftly overshadowed by the singular brutality of the next.”

Pakistan

Foreign Policy: India Sparks Fresh Tensions In Kashmir

“The Indian government announced on Monday that it would strip the disputed region of Kashmir of its limited autonomy and seek to rule it more directly from New Delhi, a move that may provoke violence in a province that has historically served as a flashpoint for conflict between Indian and Pakistan. In anticipation of the move, authorities in India-administered Kashmir placed local political leaders there under house arrest and deployed additional troops to the region. The Hindu reports public meetings and rallies have been banned, and all phone service has been cut. The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi said it planned to revoke what is known as Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which grants Kashmir a measure of autonomy in its administration. Nuclear armed India and Pakistan both claim the region and have fought two wars over it. The government of Pakistan immediately criticized the move on Monday. Ratcliffe gone. President Donald Trump abruptly reversed course on Friday and said he no longer planned to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe, the Texas Republican, as the next director of national intelligence.”

Yemen

The National: Saudi Arabia Intercepts Houthi Drones Launched At Southern Airports

“Saudi Arabia’s air force on Monday intercepted drones launched at the kingdom’s civilian airports by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The unmanned aerial vehicles were destroyed before they could reach their targets, said Col Turki Al Malki, spokesman for the Arab Coalition fighting in Yemen to support of the internationally recognised government of President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. “Houthi militias are simultaneously using terrorist tactics, especially after launching an attack on a military base in Aden,” Col Al Malki said, in a statement reported by the Saudi Press Agency. The Saudi official called the latest attacks “war crimes” as they targeted civilians. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading the Arab Coalition that intervened in Yemen in 2015 to restore the internationally recognised government, which was pushed out of the capital Sanaa after the Houthis seized it in late 2014. The coalition will continue to take “strict measures against the rebels to minimise their capabilities and address the terrorist acts,” Col Al Malki said. He did not say which areas the drones was targeting.  The Houthis' Al Masirah television station said the rebel drones targeted civilian airports in the southern cities of Abha, Najran and King Khaled airbase in Khamis Mushait.”

XinHuanet: Hundreds Protest In Yemen's Aden After Houthi, IS Deadly Attacks

“Hundreds of southern Yemeni people gathered on Monday in a public square in the port city of Aden to express their anger about two deadly attacks that hit the city days ago. Several senior tribal leaders attended the demonstration organized in Aden's neighborhood of KhorMaksar and shouted slogans against the Houthi rebel group that fired a ballistic missile against Aden on Thursday. Local medical authorities told Xinhua that around 58 people died as a result of a Houthi-fired ballistic missile attack and a suicide car bombing in two different locations in Aden. On Thursday, a Houthi-fired ballistic missile landed on a military parade held in an army base in the district of Buraiga, leaving scores killed including senior commanders. Meanwhile, a suicide car bombing launched by the Islamic State (IS) militant group targeted a police station in the neighborhood of Sheikh Othman, killing many soldiers.”

Lebanon

Arab News: Hezbollah Accused Of Evicting Mum, Kids From Home For Criticizing Party Members

“A mother who publicly criticized Hezbollah party members claims she and her children have been forced out of their South Lebanon home in retaliation. Video footage which went viral on social media, showed furniture and other items belonging to Fadwa, who is in her mid-40s, scattered outside her rented house in the town of Debaal. The woman has for weeks been critical of Hezbollah supporters and leaders from Debaal and her hometown of Majadel over alleged marriage relationship matters. She has been seen on a popular social media platform naming people who she claimed had harassed her after she exposed them. Fadwa said local police had failed to properly address her complaints about the individuals and she had also questioned the role of Shariah courts on the issues. Taking to social media Fadwa claimed she had been previously abducted and had received threats for putting party members in the spotlight.”

Egypt

Al Jazeera: Egypt Calls Deadly Cairo Car Blast 'Terrorist Incident'

“Egypt's government has said a car packed with explosives was the cause of an explosion near a medical centre in the capital that killed at least 20 people and wounded 47 others. In a statement on Monday, the interior ministry said the car was driving in the wrong direction the night before when it collided with three other vehicles, causing a major blast in front of Cairo's main cancer hospital. “The car contained explosives, and the collision led to their detonation,” the ministry said. “It is estimated that the car was being transported to a location for use in the execution of a terrorist operation.” It said the Hasm group was responsible for rigging up the car, but did not specify whether it believed the attack was meant to happen elsewhere on Sunday or whether the explosives were being transported for a future assault. Egypt accuses Hasm, which emerged in 2016 and has claimed several attacks, of being a wing of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. The movement denies this and says it seeks change through peaceful means only. In a statement shared on social media, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi called the explosion a “terrorist” incident.”

Libya

The Libya Observer: Counter-Terrorism Force Arrests ISIS Member In Sirte

“The Counter-Terrorism Force confirmed in a statement Sunday the arrest of an ISIS member in his hideout in Swawa area of Sirte. The force indicated in a statement that the arrest took place in cooperation with the Attorney-General Office as part of the security coordination with Sirte Protection Force, in conjunction with the repelling of Haftar's aggression on Tripoli. Local and international bodies have warned in several statements that the aggression of Haftar on Tripoli will increase ISIS terrorists' activities in Libya and the region.”

France24: Air Strike On South Libyan Town Kills More Than 40

“The attack is the second major air strike blamed on the eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar after at least 44 migrants were killed in June when a detention centre in a suburb of the capital Tripoli was hit. The LNA confirmed a strike late on Sunday on Murzuq, but denied it had targeted any civilians. The LNA had also denied it had hit the detention centre but acknowledged increased air strikes on the capital. The internationally recognised government based in Tripoli opposing Haftar said dozens were killed and wounded in Murzuq. Reached by telephone, Murzuq municipal council member Mohamed Omar told Reuters: "The air strike resulted in 43 killed and 51 wounded. This is only an initial toll of casualties."

Nigeria

Reuters: Nigeria To Allow Detained Shi'ite Muslim Leader To Seek Medical Treatment Abroad

“A Nigerian judge ruled on Monday that the detained leader of a banned Nigerian Shi’ite Muslim group could seek medical treatment abroad, after a series of protests calling for his release turned violent last month.  Nigeria banned the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) in July after a week of protests in which the group said at least 20 of its members were killed in police crackdowns. Police gave no death toll.  The group’s leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, has been held since 2015 when government forces killed around 350 people in a storming of its compound and a nearby mosque. He has not been released despite a court order to that effect, and the IMN said his detention is illegal.  The judge in a court in the northwestern city of Kaduna granted Zakzaky and his wife leave to seek medical treatment in India under supervision of state officials.  Zakzaky’s lawyers have said that while in detention, Zakzaky lost an eye to advanced glaucoma and risks losing the other, while shrapnel lodged in his body since the 2015 storming of the IMN compound was causing lead poisoning.  The government says IMN incites violence, and a court has given the authorities permission to label it a terrorist organization. IMN denies it is violent, and says Zakzaky should be released in line with a December 2016 court order.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Militants Surrender To Government Forces - Officials

“Somali officials on Monday confirmed that two al-Shabab militants surrendered to government forces on Sunday in the southern Bay region. “The two al-Shabab operatives identified as Mohamed Hassan Osman and Hussein Marshale Mohamed defected from the al-Shabab extremist group and joined government forces in Dinsor town in Bay region,” said Ibrahim Mohamed Nour, governor of Dinsor. The two-handed their weapons over to government forces, Nour added. Welcoming the former militants, the governor also urged other al-Shabab militants to follow suit and give up fighting to help restore peace in the region. On July 10, another senior al-Shabab leader surrendered to government forces in Lower Juba, another region in southern Somalia. Somali government troops have been on major offensives against al-Shabab extremists in central and southern regions, but the militants still hold swaths of territory in those regions, conducting ambushes and roadside bomb attacks.”

North Korea

Associated Press: North Korea Fires More Weapons, Denounces US Military Drills

“North Korea continued to ramp up its weapons demonstrations by firing two presumed short-range ballistic missiles into the sea Tuesday while lashing out at the United States and South Korea for continuing military exercises that the North says could derail fragile nuclear diplomacy. North Korea’s fourth round of weapons launches in less than two weeks came amid a standstill in nuclear negotiations and after President Donald Trump repeatedly dismissed the significance of the country’s recent tests despite the threat the weapons pose to allies South Korea and Japan and to U.S. bases there. Experts say Trump’s downplaying of the North’s weapons display has allowed the country more room to advance its military capabilities as it attempts to build leverage ahead of negotiations, which could possibly resume sometime after the end of the allies’ drills later this month. South Korea’s military alerted reporters to the launches minutes before the North’s Foreign Ministry denounced Washington and Seoul over the start of their joint exercises on Monday. The ministry’s statement said the drills, which North Korea sees as an invasion rehearsal, leave the country “compelled to develop, test and deploy the powerful physical means essential for national defense.”

United Kingdom

Arab News: Doha Regime Condemned Over Qatari Bank’s Funding Of Islamists

“The funding of Islamist groups in the UK by a Qatar-owned bank is further evidence of Doha’s  malign activities, analysts told Arab News on Monday. Details emerged on Monday of the activities of Al Rayan Bank, which has its headquarters in Birmingham in central England. Among its account holders are organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, a charity banned in the US as a terrorist entity, groups that promote hard-line preachers, and a mosque whose trustee is a Hamas leader, the UK newspaper The Times reported. Four of Al Rayan’s customers, a mosque and three charities, have had accounts closed by major banks including HSBC and Barclays because of their activities. The Anti-Terror Quartet of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a trade, travel and diplomatic boycott in June 2017, in response to Qatar’s support and funding of terrorism.”

Southeast Asia

The Washington Post: Sri Lanka Police Arrest 3 Members Of Banned Islamic Group

“Sri Lankan police on Monday arrested three members of a banned Islamic organization linked to Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks that killed more than 250 people, an official said. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said in a statement that the three suspects, who belong to Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim, were arrested in eastern Ampara district. He said they are believed to have received training at two locations run by ringleader Mohamed Zahran, who blew himself up at a tourist hotel on April 21 as part of coordinated attacks on three churches and three tourist hotels. Two domestic radical Islamic groups, National Thowheed Jammath and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim, are accused of having pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and carried out the blasts. More than 500 people were wounded in the attacks. Sri Lanka’s government banned both of the groups after the blasts. It has discovered a number of their hideouts and suspected training locations.”

CNN Philippines: Duterte Worries About ISIS, Hopes PH Will Be Spared

“President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday expressed concern over threats of a possible attack by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Philippines. “Just like Iraq, Syria, na maraming inosenteng tao ang nadadali [where many innocent people are affected],” Duterte said during the oathtaking of newly-appointed officials in Malacañang. The President said he hopes the Philippines will be spared from a possible ISIS attack. “I’m praying - I really pray, talagang lumuluhod ako sa Diyos [I am kneeling before God] to spare us that kind of brutality and cruelty in our country - because it will really be bloody,” he added. Foreign terrorists were reportedly being harbored by the Sulu faction of the local terror group Abu Sayyaf. The faction is led by Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, the supposed ISIS leader in the Philippines. Sawadjaan was linked to the Jolo, Sulu blasts earlier in the year. In July, Duterte said he is preparing government troops to battle the global extremist group. Earlier, the President also said ISIS would not gain a foothold in the Philippines during his term. The president also warned that an ISIS attack would derail peace efforts in Mindanao.”

Technology

The New York Times: Legal Shield For Websites Rattles Under Onslaught Of Hate Speech

“When the most consequential law governing speech on the internet was created in 1996, Google.com didn’t exist and Mark Zuckerberg was 11 years old. The federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, has helped Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and countless other internet companies flourish. But Section 230’s legal protection has also extended to fringe sites hosting hate speech, anti-Semitic content and racist tropes like 8chan, the internet message board where the suspect in the El Paso shooting massacre posted his manifesto. The law shields websites from liability for content created by their users, while permitting internet companies to moderate their sites without being on the hook legally for everything they host. It does not provide blanket protection from legal responsibility for some criminal acts, like posting child pornography or violations of intellectual property.”

The Wall Street Journal: Isolation And Social Media Combine To Radicalize Violent Offenders

“Recent mass-violence incidents in America share common threads: disaffected individuals who feel powerless, radical ideas that blame particular groups and the use of social-media platforms that bring these factors together and amplify them. Radicalization, researchers have found, is driven by a need to matter and be respected. Violence is often a means to that end, especially when it is in the name of a cause, like fighting against immigrants who are viewed as invaders upsetting white people’s dominance in the U.S. Social media is increasingly playing a role in that process, especially among lone actors like the ones responsible for the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. In 2016, social media—including services like Facebook , WhatsApp, Skype, Instagram and YouTube, plus personal blogs and forums—played a role in radicalizing and mobilizing roughly 90% of lone actors, according to a 2018 study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.”