Eye on Extremism: August 8

The New York Times: U.S. And Turkey Agree On Peace Corridor In Northeastern Syria

“The United States and Turkey agreed on Wednesday to create a safe zone in northeastern Syria that would allow Turkey to protect its borders from Syrian-Kurdish forces that it regards as a terrorist threat and provide Syrian refugees in Turkey a safe space to return home. Defense officials from both countries issued separate but similar statements after three days of talks in Ankara, the Turkish capital. The statements gave no details on the size of the zone or how it will be policed, which may still be undecided, but the agreement was presented by Turkey as a meeting of its demands. Turkey’s defense minister, Hulusi Akar, told Turkish media outlets on Wednesday morning that the discussions were “fairly positive.” “We gladly observed our interlocutors coming closer to our views,” the NTV television channel quoted him as saying.”

Time: Over 100,000 People Have Been Detained Or Gone Missing In Syria, U.N. Estimates

“Reports suggest more than 100,000 people in Syria have been detained, abducted or gone missing during the eight-year conflict, with the government mainly responsible, the U.N. political chief said Wednesday. Rosemary DiCarlo urged all parties to heed the Security Council’s call for the release of all those arbitrarily detained and to provide information to families about their loved ones as required by international law. She told the council that the U.N. can’t verify the figure of more than 100,000 because it has been unable to gain access to places of detention and detainees in Syria. She said its information comes from accounts corroborated by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria authorized by the U.N. Human Rights Council and human rights organizations since the conflict started in 2011. DiCarlo also reiterated U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for the Syria conflict to be referred to the International Criminal Court, saying accountability for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law “is central to achieving and maintaining durable peace in Syria.”

Deutsche Welle: Iraq: Caught Between Militias And 'Islamic State'

“Yes, there have been murder incidents,” admits Hussein Zainal, a member of Bashiqa's local council, when asked about the behavior of the 30th Brigade of the Iraqi Shiite militias in this mixed town on the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq. “They are not a trained army. The boys have no ethics or knowledge of human rights.” The 30th brigade is part of the Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), which consists of some 150,000 volunteers divided between some 40 Shiite militias. The PMU was formed to fight the Islamic terror group “Islamic State” (IS) after a fatwa issued by the religious leader of the Iraqi Shiites, Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani. Eighteen months after IS was defeated in Iraq, the militias still guard checkpoints in cities that were liberated from the group, but reports about their misbehavior are everywhere. Militias in Nineveh have been accused of violence and murder, abuse of power, illegal enrichment, and corruption. There is even talk of a mass grave containing the bodies of 80 people killed by militia members. Recently, the 30th Brigade blocked the motor way to Mosul and clashed with the Iraqi army to prevent it from taking over its checkpoints. In the villages around Bashiqa, the militia has taken over the role of the police.”

The Telegraph: Removal Of British ISIL Fighters Citizenship Backed In First High Court Judgement

“British Isil fighters can be legally stripped of their citizenship, the High Court has ruled in the first case of its kind. Abdullah Islam challenged the decision by former home secretary Amber Rudd to deprive his son, 22-year-old Ashraf Mahmud Islam, of his British nationality. Mr Islam had wanted is son, who joined Isil aged 18 and is now being held in a Kurdish-run military prison in Syria, brought back to the UK to face justice and to be protected from facing the death penalty. However, his case was rejected on Wednesday by a High Court judge as having “no merit,” a judgement which could set a precedent for other British Isil fighters and their brides who face or have had their British citizenship...”

WTOP: The Hunt: Impact Of Hamza Bin Laden’s Death On Terrorists Around The World

“CEP Senior Director Hans Jakob Schindler discusses the significance of Hamza bin Laden's alleged death with host J.J. Green. Hamza bin Laden was widely expected to be the next leader of al-Qaeda.”

Motherboard: Cloudflare Is Protecting A Site Linked To A Neo-Nazi Terror Group

“Internet infrastructure company Cloudflare, known for protecting websites against attacks aimed at knocking them offline, is shielding a website linked to a known neo-Nazi terror group connected to several murders, Motherboard has learned. The latest site found to be protected by the Silicon Valley giant is linked to Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi terrorist organization connected to racially motivated killings in the U.S. The website provides (in audiobook and PDF formats) a white supremacist handbook on an armed insurgency against society popular among extremists. The book advocates for the assassination of politicians, bombings, and general guerilla war against the state. The Counter Extremism Project, a non-profit formed to combat the growing threat from extremist ideologies, has previously pointed to the book as a serious contributor to the radiclalization of white nationalists and as a general guide for neo-Nazi terrorism.“

United States

The New York Times: What Could A Domestic Terrorism Law Do?

“The mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso on Saturday and arrest of a man whose white supremacist manifesto railed against a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” have heightened calls for Congress to enact a federal domestic terrorism law. In a statement on Tuesday, the president of the F.B.I. Agents Association, Brian O’Hare, urged Congress “to make domestic terrorism a federal crime. This would ensure that F.B.I. agents and prosecutors have the best tools to fight domestic terrorism.” It is not clear, however, whether such a statute would make a practical difference in what the government can already do under existing law. Some civil libertarians have argued that any legislation that could survive a constitutional challenge would be more about sending a symbolic message than creating major and substantive new government powers. “These proposals tend either to be duplicative of laws that already exist or expansive in ways that violate First Amendment rights of speech and association,” said David Cole, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. Here is a breakdown of the legal policy issues surrounding domestic terrorism. What is the legal difference between domestic and international terrorism?”

CNN: After Weekend Of Violence, White House To Hold Online Extremism Summit

“The White House will host internet and technology companies Friday for a summit focused on violent extremism online, the first public engagement meetings convened following last weekend's deadly shootings. The summit comes just a few months after the Trump administration refused to sign the Christchurch Call, a push by the governments of New Zealand and France to encourage tech companies and countries to work together to end the use of social media in acts of terrorism.  “The White House has invited internet and technology companies for a discussion on violent extremism online,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said Wednesday. “The staff-led meeting will take place Friday and include senior administration officials along with representatives of a range of companies.” President Donald Trump is not expected to attend the session. A list of participants wasn't available at time of publishing Wednesday. A source familiar with the invite sent to companies said they expect it to be partly a conversation about tech companies polices and any initiatives planned or underway in combating online violent extremism. Facebook and Twitter declined to comment and referred CNN to the White House. Google did not respond to CNN's request for comment.”

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Second Man Sentenced In Plot To Join Islamic State

“Federal prosecutors couldn't get a 20-year sentence for a man who really wanted to join the Islamic State, but that didn't stop them from seeking the same sanction for the man's less-culpable follower. Again, the judge imposed a far less severe sentence — five and a half years.Yosvany Padilla-Conde, 32, pleaded guilty in April to helping Jason Ludke travel to Texas in 2016, with plans to then enter Mexico and ultimately go to Syria. Their journey was at the direction of FBI agents posing online as IS recruiters, who arrested the pair near San Angelo. Padilla-Conde made videos in which he swore allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and said he planned to travel to the Middle East.  “In 2015 and 2016, ISIS perpetrated hellish levels of violence. To this, Padilla-Conde was drawn and sought to contribute,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memo. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Taibleson told U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman that foreign travelers are still essential personnel to ISIS campaigns of rape and slaughter. “It's not theater,” Taibleson said. Taibleson noted that Padilla-Conde disappeared without telling the mother of his child, slept in the car on the way to Texas and made videos pledging his allegiance to ISIS.”

The Hill: A Look At One Way ISIS Is Trying To Incite Attacks Inside The US

“In a little over a month, we will mark the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. There are ongoing debates about the current strength of al Qaeda, and last week media reported that the organization's up and coming leader, Osama bin Laden's son Hamza, had gotten his wish for martyrdom. This will surely hurt the organization. Still, al Qaeda continues to fester all over the world, with a strong presence in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, India, Yemen, and many other places, as its leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri remains at large, releasing videos every few months — most recently on July 10. Al Qaeda's rival ISIS enjoys far more media attention, far more support from the younger generation of jihadis, and far more foreign fighters joining its ranks. While its official caliphate has crumbled, it remains strong in the cyber caliphate and on social media and continues to successfully spread its brand and ideology worldwide. It gears its propaganda towards young jihadis who are uninspired by the previous jihadi generation's al Qaeda and a septuagenarian Zawahiri hiding in a cave but are inspired instead by ISIS's HD videos — and by its sharable graphic images known as “posters” aimed at inciting violence and attacks. These graphics visually depict attacks on widely recognizable U.S. and Western locations or landmarks, paired with text intended to incite lone-wolf terrorism.”

Washington Examiner: US Brings ISIS Fighters Home For Trial, But Extremists Could Benefit From Other Nations' Inaction

“The U.S. is bringing home citizens who joined the Islamic State to stand trial, but some Western European and other nations refuse to — and a new watchdog analysis says ISIS could benefit from their inaction.  This decision to let ISIS-joining citizens avoid justice leaves approximately 800 Europeans among the 2,000 foreign ISIS fighters from 50 countries in legal limbo in northeast Syrian detention camps run by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-allied coalition of mostly Kurdish militias, where 10,000 ISIS fighters are believed to be held. The Pentagon’s inspector general report, released Tuesday, warned that the SDF does not have the capability to “indefinitely detain” thousands of ISIS fighters in what are described as “pop-up prisons.” Only seven countries — the U.S., Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Morocco, and North Macedonia — announced they will bring back fighters to face charges. Italy is the only Western European country to do so. France complained about death sentences handed down in Iraq against a dozen French ISIS members, and the U.K. is stripping citizenship from fighters. Outside of Europe, the rest are mainly from former Soviet republics, the Middle East and North Africa, and South and Southeast Asia.”

The Daily Beast: Post-9/11 Intel Center Now Going After Domestic Terror

“As white supremacist violence surges, a major hub for American intelligence has quietly expanded its focus on domestic terrorism, according to a senior U.S. counterterrorism official who spoke with The Daily Beast. It’s a small shift that draws accolades from veteran national-security officials. The shift also concerns civil-liberties advocates, who say it may point to an erosion of the boundary between law enforcement and America’s spies.  The Bush administration stood up the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a clearinghouse for all intelligence except, as the Center has put it, that “pertaining exclusively to domestic terrorism.”  The NCTC employs approximately 1,000 people and federal law requires that it act as the government’s “knowledge bank” on known or suspected terrorists. For example, it keeps a massive database that serves as the basis of the TSA’s “no-fly” terrorist watchlist. In early 2018, the official said, the head of the NCTC directed lawyers from the intelligence community to revisit its understanding of the law that governs it. A Democratic official on the House Intelligence Committee said Congress urged the Center to conduct the analysis—and fast.”

Syria

NBC News: U.S.-Backed Forces Struggling To Quell ISIS Insurgency In Syria, Iraq: Pentagon Report

“U.S.-backed forces in Iraq and Syria are struggling to contain the ISIS insurgency, according to a Pentagon report released Tuesday. Between April and June 2019, the Islamic State terror group “solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was resurging in Syria,” the Department of Defense Inspector General Quarterly Report says. The report references significant changes in the region. In addition to the president’s sudden announcement of a drawdown of U.S. troops in Syria -– against the counsel of military advisers -– the report raises concerns that ISIS is gaining a renewed foothold in Iraq because U.S. personnel there were evacuated from diplomatic posts due to rising tensions with Iran. Experts told NBC News that as a result, that also has led to less surveillance of ISIS activity in Iraq. The State Department said that the departure of diplomatic staff from Baghdad and Erbil ”hindered U.S. stabilization efforts in Iraq,” according to the report. It also notes that the troop withdrawal from Syria came “at a time when U.S. commanders said the [Syrian Defense Forces] needed more training and equipping for counterinsurgency operations.” The report noted that the withdrawal also reduced the ability of U.S. forces to maintain a presence at a sprawling refugee camp where tens of thousands of displaced people from former ISIS territory are living.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Car Bomb Kills Five In Syria's Northeast

“A car bombing claimed by the ISIS group killed five people, including three children, in a Kurdish-held town in northeast Syria Wednesday, an activist group said. The explosive-rigged vehicle detonated in Al-Qahtaniya, a town in Hasakeh province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based observatory. Hoker Arafat, a security official, said the bomb was detonated remotely in front of the town post office. “Three children were killed in the bombing because it was very close to a primary school,” he said. A member of the local security forces was wounded in the attack, he added. State news agency SANA also reported the bombing, saying it killed several people, including children. ISIS claimed the attack on its Telegram channel. The militant group routinely claims attacks in northeast Syria, despite its territorial defeat earlier this year. Such attacks have included arson against wheat fields and deadly car bombs. ISIS maintains a presence in the country's vast Badia desert, as well as in areas controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the country's northeast and east. The SDF, backed by the warplanes of a US-led coalition, announced the end of ISIS' self-proclaimed “caliphate” in March in the village of Baghouz, in Syria's far east.”

The National: Qatar Bank Accused Of Allowing Terror Financing In Syria

“Funds transferred from accounts in the Qatari-state controlled Doha Bank were transferred to extremist groups perpetrating atrocities in Syria, a claim issued at the UK High Court has said. The case has been brought by eight Syrians, now living in Europe, who say in the claim that they were tortured and displaced by Al Qaeda affiliate Jahbat Al Nusra, a key player in the Syrian civil war that was supplied with arms and resources by the gas rich gulf state. They accuse Doha Bank, whose largest shareholder is the Qatar Investment Authority, the state’s sovereign wealth vehicle, of failing to stop the transfers of money to extremists by two wealthy brothers. One analyst said it “put some meat on the bones” of claims that the Qatari establishment had funded militant groups in Syria. The eight Syrians involved in the unprecedented legal action have been granted anonymity after lodging the claim in the UK High Court that seeks damages from Doha Bank.  The claimants say they were inflicted with “severe physical and psychiatric injuries” by the extremists, were forcibly displaced from their homes and had their businesses taken from them “as a result of the unlawful actions of the al-Nusra Front” according to documents seen by The Times.”

Iran

CNN: US Government Warns Of Iranian Threats To Commercial Shipping, Including GPS Interference

“The US Department of Transportation's Maritime Administration has issued a new warning to commercial shipping about Iranian threats in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf, saying that some ships have reported having their GPS interfered with. Additionally, the administration warned that there have been reports of “unknown entities falsely claiming to be US or coalition warships.” The warning, which was issued Wednesday, listed a series of incidents involving Iran since May, including Iran's seizure of the United Kingdom-flagged M/V STENA IMPERO and the detention and subsequent release of the Liberian-flagged M/V MESDAR. It said that during “at least two” recent encounters involving Iranian military forces, “vessels reported GPS interference. One vessel reportedly shut off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) before it was seized, complicating response efforts.” “Vessels have also reported spoofed bridge-to-bridge communications from unknown entities falsely claiming to be US or coalition warships,” the warning added.”

The Hill: US Should Sanction Iran's Incendiary Kingmaker

“He has called for death to America and Israel. He has described non-Muslims as “animals who roam the earth and engage in corruption.” He has dubbed U.S. troops in Iraq “bloodthirsty wolves” and expressed support for Shiite militias seeking their demise. He has hosted Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as an honored guest. He has demanded the execution of Iranian protestors, urging the judiciary in 2009 to show them no “compassion and leniency.” He has described the latest nationwide demonstrations, which began in late 2017, as a Western plot to subvert Tehran. And he plays a major role, behind closed doors, in selecting the leadership of Iran’s clerical regime. Meet Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, 92, who heads two powerful committees responsible for appointing Iran’s supreme leader, vetting candidates for key elected offices, and screening legislation passed by Iran’s parliament — all to ensure fidelity to the regime’s theocratic constitution and Islamist creed. In effect, Jannati constitutes the Islamic Republic’s unelected kingmaker, the power behind the throne who helps preserve the structure and character of the repressive political system.”

The Wall Street Journal: In Gulf Tanker Crisis, Iran Tries To Avoid Alienating Allies

“Iran’s disruptions of Persian Gulf oil shipments are putting the country’s leaders in a difficult position as they retaliate against foes while trying not to irritate their few remaining allies. Tehran captured two U.K.-connected vessels in the Persian Gulf on July 19, two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian oil tanker near Gibraltar it accused of exporting oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions. Iran, which had threatened to respond to its vessel’s seizure, also detained an Emirati-based ship it accused of smuggling. The seizures were in keeping with Iran’s vow to disrupt maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz as a retaliatory show of force to the U.S., after it banned Iranian oil exports, the lifeblood of its economy. The U.K., though it is working with other European countries to salvage the international nuclear deal with Iran, was singled out by Tehran as a target after the Gibraltar incident and now faces the same threat as adversaries like the U.S., Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.”

Iraq

Iraqi News: Iraqi Troops Destroy Five Islamic State Hideouts In Diyala

“An Iraqi police chief announced on Wednesday the destruction of five hideouts of the Islamic State terrorist group in Diyala province. “Five Islamic State hotbeds were destroyed Wednesday on the outskirts of Khanaqin and in Jalawla districts in Diyala as part of the third phase of the Victory Will operation,” Diyala police chief Maj. Gen. Faisal Kazem al-Abadi told the privately-owned Alghad Press website. Abadi pointed out that Iraqi troops will step up their efforts to arrest Islamic State terrorists and destroy their terrorist hotbeds across Iraq. The Islamic State group appeared on the international scene in 2014 when it seized large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, declaring the establishment of an Islamic “caliphate” from Mosul city. Later on, the group has become notorious for its brutality, including mass killings, abductions and beheadings, prompting the U.S. to lead an international coalition to destroy it. Despite the group’s crushing defeat at its main havens across Iraq, Islamic State continues to launch sporadic attacks against troops with security reports warning that the militant group still poses a threat against stability in the country.”

Turkey

Daily Sabah: 7 Syrian Daesh Militants Captured In Konya

“Counterterrorism police in the central Turkish province of Konya captured seven Syrian nationals accused of membership in the Daesh terrorist group Wednesday. Suspects were among 12 wanted for links to the terrorist group, and operations were underway when Daily Sabah went to print to capture the other suspects. Police raided several locations in Konya and its districts to capture the suspects who were once active in the Daesh network in Syria according to investigators. Elsewhere, a suspected member of Daesh was arrested in Kilis, a Turkish province bordering Syria. The suspect, identified as 32-year-old R.A., was a foreign national but authorities did not disclose his nationality. He was a resident of Kilis and had “links to conflict zones in Syria,” officials said, referring to areas where the terrorist group has been active in war-torn Syria. The terrorist group is blamed for a string of attacks in Turkey that killed at least 319 people over the past three years in Istanbul and Ankara, as well as cities in the southeast. Foreigners looking to join Daesh in Syria have mostly attempted to use Turkey as their crossing point. Turkey has taken significant measures against foreign Daesh members and has urged Western countries on intelligence cooperation.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Violence In Afghanistan Worsens As U.S.-Taliban Peace Talks Plod On

“Violence has intensified in recent months across Afghanistan as the opposing sides in the war try to turn battlefield blows into gains in negotiations over the country’s political future. An agreement between the Taliban and the United States is expected to be finalized soon and provide a schedule for the conditional withdrawal of the remaining 14,000 American troops and their NATO partners. In return, the Taliban have pledged to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States and its allies from Afghan soil. But as the talks continue, the violence worsens. On Wednesday, a powerful Taliban truck bomb exploded outside a police station in Kabul, the Afghan capital, killing 14 people and injuring at least 145 others as peace negotiations between the militants and American diplomats were underway. The United Nations said July was the deadliest month in Afghanistan in the last couple of years, with 1,500 civilians killed or wounded. While the United Nations blamed last month’s increase on large Taliban explosions, it said in an earlier report that Afghan forces and their American allies were responsible for more civilian deaths than the Taliban during the first six months of the year. Often, even heavily populated urban centers like Kabul feel like battlegrounds in a war that lost clear front lines long ago.”

Pakistan

The Washington Post: Pakistan Downgrades Diplomatic Ties, Suspends Trade With India Over Kashmir Move

“Pakistan announced Wednesday that it will downgrade diplomatic ties and suspend trade with nuclear-armed neighbor India over its sudden move to retract the semiautonomous status of the disputed Kashmir region. The office of Prime Minister Imran Khan said that after a meeting with him, the government’s national security council decided to take those measures immediately, file a formal protest with the U.N. Security Council and review all bilateral arrangements with India. On Monday, Indian President Ram Nath Kovind issued a decree revoking the protected political status enjoyed by Kashmir for the past six decades under the Indian constitution. Kovind acted at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kashmir has long been a flash point between the two countries, and it has been roiled for years by terrorist attacks, protests by the region’s majority Muslims, and accusations of repression by Indian forces stationed there. The Himalayan region, claimed by both countries, is divided by a militarized Line of Control. India and Pakistan have fought three limited wars since Pakistan was created in 1947 in the violent partition of India. Relations between them have been especially tense since Modi, a Hindu nationalist, was first elected in 2014.”

Associated Press: India Arrests Over 500 In Kashmir As Pakistan Cuts Railway

“Indian security forces have arrested more than 500 people since New Delhi imposed a communications blackout and security clampdown in divided Kashmir, where people remained holed up in their homes for a fourth day. Pakistan, which claims the divided Himalayan region together with India, on Thursday suspended a key train service with India over change in Kashmir’s special status by New Delhi, as tensions between the rivals soared. India’s government this week revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and downgraded the region from statehood to a territory. Rebels in Muslim-majority Kashmir have been fighting Indian rule in the portion it administers for decades. State-run All India Radio, which reported on the arrests without details, also said that cross-border firing by Indian and Pakistani troops hit the Rajouri sector of the Indian-controlled Kashmir late Wednesday.”

India Today: Pakistan's Counter-Terrorism Department Declares Hafiz Saeed Guilty Of Terror Financing

“Mumbai terror attack mastermind and Jammat-ud Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed was declared guilty of "terror financing" by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in a Pakistani court on Wednesday. Saeed, a UN designated terrorist whom the US has placed a $10 million bounty on, was presented before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Gujranwala, some 80-km from Lahore, in high security where he was charge-sheeted of terror financing by the CTD of Punjab police. A CTD official told PTI that it submitted challan in the ATC declaring Saeed guilty of terror financing. "Since the case is related to Mandi Bhauddin district of Punjab therefore the prosecution requested the court to shift it to Gujrat ATC court (some 200-km from Lahore)," he said.”

Yemen

Voice Of America: Yemen’s Civilians Suffer As Myriad Of Armed Groups Intensify Attacks

“The United Nations human rights office is reporting that intensified attacks by a myriad of armed groups in Yemen are having a devastating impact on civilians throughout the war-torn country.  Dozens of armed groups, including those affiliated with the al-Qaida and Islamic State terror groups, reportedly are escalating attacks in Yemen, adding to the misery of civilians who have suffered through more than four years of civil war. Since July 27, the U.N. human rights office has verified 19 civilian deaths and 42 civilians injured in Taiz, Sa’ada and Aden. In addition, the agency says civilian infrastructure, including medical and educational facilities, have been hit and damaged during attacks. U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says groups affiliated with the Houthi rebels allegedly have launched indiscriminate attacks in Taiz. She says IS militants and al-Qaida, in separate assaults, have attacked police stations and military camps in Aden and Abyan in the south. She says these actions have triggered retaliation by the “security-belt” forces, a paramilitary force supported by the Saudi-led coalition. “We have received information from multiple sources about arbitrary arrests and detention, forced displacement, physical assaults and harassment as well as looting and vandalism by the security forces against hundreds of northerners.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: In Response To West Bank Terror, Netanyahu Hints At Annexation Of Area C

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday hinted at the possibility of applying sovereignty to the West Bank settlements hours after the body of terror victim Dvir Sorek, 19, was found with stab wounds in the Gush Etzion region of Judea and Samaria. “We promised to build hundreds of housing units - today we are doing it, both because we promised and because our mission is to establish the nation of Israel in our country, to secure our sovereignty over our historic homeland,” Netanyahu said during a visit to the Beit El settlement.  He spoke as he participated in a corner laying ceremony for a new 650-housing unit neighborhood in the community. “We know that the Land of Israel is bought in agony,” the PM continued. “Today another one of our sons fell. He was from a family that has already made a heavy sacrifice for the Land of Israel. These vicious terrorists, they come to uproot - we come to plant. They come to destroy - we come to build. Our hands will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland, in all parts of it.” Earlier in the day, several right-wing politicians and settler leaders called out that the PM should annex Area C of the West Bank settlements in response to the attack.”

Egypt

The Washington Post: Egypt President Urges Nation To Back Push Against Militants

“Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi is urging the nation to back his government’s efforts to defeat Islamic militants, saying it’s the mission of every Egyptian. Wednesday’s appeal came after a car packed with explosives detonated earlier this week outside Egypt’s main cancer hospital in Cairo, killing at least 20 people. It was the deadliest in the Egyptian capital in over two years. El-Sissi said in a televised speech that it’s “not only the mission of the state to defeat (militants), but also, we as a society have to make our sons understand, enlighten and protect them against this” extremist ideology. The government has accused a militant group known as Hasm, linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, for Sunday’s attack, saying it was moving the car to carry out an attack elsewhere.”

Nigeria

The Defense Post: Nigeria: Female Boko Haram Suicide Bombers Kill 3 In Mafa

“Two female suicide bombers killed three civilians and wounded eight in a suspected Boko Haram attack in northeast Nigeria, emergency services said Wednesday. The twin blasts tore through a crowd late Tuesday, August 6 in the town of Mafa, some 50 km (30 miles) east of regional capital Maiduguri. “The female bombers killed three people and wounded eight others,” Bello Danbatta, head of security for theState Emergency Management Agency in Borno state, told AFP. The assailants entered the town among a group of local women who had gone to fetch firewood for cooking, Danbatta said. Local district spokesperson Adamu Mohammed, who gave the same toll, said the bombers waited until around 8:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) before launching their attack. The jihadist group known as Boko Haram began its bloody insurgency in northeastern Nigeria in 2009, but it has since spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military response. More than 27,000 people have been killed and two million others displaced, sparking a dire humanitarian crisis in the region. The U.S. assesses that Boko Haram and ISWAP have been responsible for over 35,000 deaths since 2011. Boko Haram split into two factions in mid-2016.”

All Africa: Nigeria: Five Civilians Killed As Troops, Boko Haram Clash In Borno

“Five civilians were killed on Monday night as troops of the Nigerian Army clashed with fighters of terrorist organisation, Boko Haram in Monguno, Borno State. The clash was coming as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai, boasted that the military had dealt decisively with the insurgents which he said were already “pushed away” from the North-east. Residents of Monguno Local Government Area of the state said that attack by Boko Haram, occurred Monday night at about 10:25 p.m. Eyewitness accounts said the attack left five civilians dead with several others injured following exchange of gunfire between troops and the insurgents. “There have been several attempts by Boko Haram to take over Monguno since the beginning of this year. But last night's attack was deadly. We do not know the number of soldiers or Boko Haram killed but stray bullets killed five civilians and injured many others. It was too bad. Most of us are just returning from hiding”, a Monguno resident said. A military source within the theatre of war said the clash lasted throughout Monday night, saying the likely high casualty figure on both sides could not be ascertained as at the time of filing this report.”

Somalia

All Africa: Somalia, U.S. To Launch Massive Assault On Al-Shabaab

“Somalia and the United States have agreed to intensify security operations to flush out al-Shabab militants in the Horn of Africa nation. U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale, who met with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire in Mogadishu on Monday, also resolved to prepare Somali forces to take over from the African Union mission to Somalia. “They agreed on the value of security operations to liberate areas from al-Shabab and preparing Somali forces to take over from the African Union Mission to Somalia,” the U.S. said in a statement issued after the meeting on Monday night. On his part, Khaire briefed the U.S. official on recent political and security developments and Somalia's progress towards meeting the conditions for debt relief that would allow Somalia to resume borrowing from international financial institutions. Washington and other international partner forces have intensified incursions into territory formerly controlled by al-Shabab after driving the insurgents out of Mogadishu in 2011. Since 2017, the U.S. military has stepped up air raids against al-Shabab which is trying to overthrow the internationally-backed Somali government.”

Africa

Reuters: U.S. Not Ready To Remove Sudan From Sponsors Of Terrorism List

“The United States still needs to resolve longstanding issues with Sudan before it can consider removing it from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a senior State Department official said on Wednesday.  Earlier this week, Sudan’s military rulers and the main opposition coalition initialed a constitutional declaration paving the way for a transitional government, leading to calls from international mediators for the country to be removed from the U.S. list.  The designation as a state sponsor of terrorism makes Sudan ineligible for desperately needed debt relief and financing from lenders like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. Removal from the list potentially opens the door for foreign investment.  “There’s a number things we’re looking forward to engaging with a civilian-led government,” Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale said when asked about the issue at a news conference in Khartoum.  These included human rights, religious freedom and counter-terrorism efforts, as well as “promoting internal peace, political stability and economic recovery in Sudan”, he said.  The U.S. government suspended discussions on normalizing relations with Sudan in April after the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir, and Hale said that suspension remained in place.”

The Independent: Kidnappings Soar In Niger Amid Boko Haram Insurgency

“In the desert landscape of southeastern Niger, a radical Islamist insurgency has claimed hundreds of lives, fractured families and ravaged communities, fearful of the next Boko Haram attack. Strategically located in the Lake Chad basin in the middle of the Sahel, the Diffa region’s borders are crisscrossed by militant groups and traffickers competing for money and influence. The threat of sexual violence and killings has prompted tens of thousands to leave their homes. And hostage taking by armed groups — often targeting girls for rape, enslavement or ransom — has soared. On average, nearly one person a day has been kidnapped this year, according to the UN, often by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram. A total of 179 people have been captured so far in 2019, many of them young women and girls. “Whether you’re a farmer or trader, no one is safe from kidnapping,” said Diffa city resident Lawan Boukar.”

United Kingdom

The Jerusalem Post: UAE And UK Papers Urge Qatar To Stop Funding Terrorism

“Two stinging editorials this week in the United Arab Emirates’ The National and The Times of Britain demanded that the Gulf monarchy in Qatar pull the plug on its international financing of Islamic terrorism. The UAE titled its Tuesday editorial “Stop Qatar’s funding of global terrorism,” noting that, “from Syria to France and now the UK, Qatar has repeatedly funded terror groups that have wreaked havoc across the Middle East and beyond.” What prompted the editorials against Qatar was an August investigation by The Times into the Qatar-owned bank Al Rayan’s business with terrorist entities. According to the London-based paper, “Al Rayan counts among its customers a charity banned in the US as a terrorist entity, groups that promote hardline preachers and a mosque whose long-term trustee is a Hamas leader.” The paper’s eye-popping article added that the banks former “executive until April, Sultan Choudhury, was also an unpaid director, for seven years until 2016, of the British arm of a global religious institute whose speakers and instructors have included advocates of child marriage, female circumcision and the death penalty for adultery and apostasy.”

France

France 24: Two Young French Women Sentenced To Prison On Terror Charges

“A young woman has been found guilty of planning a terrorist attack on French soil in 2016. Her accomplice, another young woman, has been found guilty of planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State group.  The Paris Criminal Court sentenced a radicalised young woman – identified only as Janna C. – to seven years in prison on Wednesday. She was arrested in 2016, suspected of planning to carry out an attack in France on behalf of the jihadist Islamic State (IS) group. Her lawyer, Léa Dordilly, argued that the punishment was too severe. “We have been given a sentence of seven years in prison, which is extremely severe given the age of this girl, who was 18 when she started these activities online,” Dordilly told FRANCE 24 after the sentencing. “And it was only for such a short period, two months – July and August, 2016 – during which she was having these conversations on social media.” On July 12, the prosecutor’s office had requested the maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment for Janna C., who is now 21. She was arrested on August 10, 2016, in a public garden in Clermont-Ferrand after having mentioned plans for an attack in online messages and with her family.”

Germany

The Washington Post: German Woman Arrested On Islamic State Membership Charges

“Federal prosecutors have arrested a German woman on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and for allegedly joining the Islamic State group in Syria. Prosecutors said Wednesday that Sibel H., whose last name wasn’t given in line with privacy laws, also faces war crimes and weapons charges. They allege she traveled to Syria with her husband in 2016 to join IS, and ended up in Mosul, Iraq. Prosecutors say they lived in homes seized by IS, and she ran the household to support her husband’s work as a nurse in an IS hospital. As the Islamic State group began to collapse, they fled through Kurdish-controlled areas in the north and were captured by a militia in 2017. Prosecutors refused to provide further information on her or her husband.”

Europe

Reuters: Blast Hits Tax Office In Copenhagen In Attack, One Person Hurt - Police

“One person was lightly injured in an explosion outside the Danish Tax Agency's office in Copenhagen late on Tuesday in what police said was a deliberate attack, although it was too early to know who was behind it. The blast, which occurred at around 22.15 p.m. (2015 GMT), shattered glass doors and windows and scorched metal cladding at the main entrance of the building in Nordhavn, just north of the city centre. Police had closed off the surrounding streets on Wednesday morning and staff had been told to stay away. “Someone did this on purpose. It was not an accident,” Chief Police Inspector Jorgen Bergen Skov said at a news conference. It was too early to say who was responsible for the explosion, he said. “We take this very seriously and already last night established a broad and comprehensive investigation. We cannot and will not accept an attack like this,” he said. The tax agency was hit by an explosion 16 years ago to the day in what police at the time described as “vandalism”, but on Wednesday Skov said their investigation had shown the two events were not connected. Denmark has some of the highest taxes in the world to underpin its generous welfare system. Danes are generally happy to pay high taxes, surveys show.”

Southeast Asia

Asia Times: Indonesia’s Military Tightens Its Anti-Terror Grip

“Under consideration for over four years, the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) is finally moving ahead with the formation of an American-style Special Operations Command (KOOPSSUS) tasked with mounting operations against terrorist networks at home and abroad. Mandated under the revised 2018 Anti-Terrorism Law, the move has predictably alarmed civil society activists, who see any perceived military encroachment into the arena of internal security as a retrograde step for the country’s still nascent democracy. The police Detachment 88 counterterrorist unit has so far done a capable job in capturing and decapitating more than 1,600 Islamic militants since it was formed in the wake of the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, which claimed 202 lives, most of them foreign tourists. Handing the military a new role in fighting terrorism, while long in the making, comes amid rising threats from Islamic State and other regional terror outfits in the world’s largest Muslim nation. Reforms introduced at the birth of the nation’s democratic era in 1999 separated the police from the military chain of command and left the 400,000-strong civilian force in sole charge of internal security, though with the army’s pervasive territorial structure still intact.”

Technology

The Washington Post: White House Invites Tech Companies To Discussion Of Violent Online Extremism

“The White House will host top tech companies to discuss the rise of violent online extremism on Friday, marking the Trump administration’s first major engagement on the issue days after a mass shooting in Texas left 22 people dead. The gathering will include “senior administration officials along with representatives of a range of companies,” deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement. He did not name which companies would attend. The White House effort follows an attack this weekend in El Paso that was announced on the anonymous message board 8chan in a manifesto decrying the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” It was the third mass shooting this year that began with the posting of a gunman’s hateful screed on the site, which is currently offline following moves by two Internet-services firms. In response, Trump on Monday took aim at social media broadly, tasking the Justice Department to “work in partnership with local state and federal agencies, as well as social media companies, to develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike,” he said in a speech. On Wednesday, Trump pledged again to “do something about” online hate, telling reporters he is “concerned for any group of hate, I don’t like it … whether it’s white supremacy or any other kind of supremacy.”

Huff Post: 8chan Owner Heads To U.S. As Lawmakers Seek Answers On Online Extremism

“The owner of the online message board 8chan says he’s headed shortly to the United States, where lawmakers want to question him on his site’s use as a megaphone by violent white supremacists. Jim Watkins, who lives in the Philippines, did not specifically say he would testify, but he tweeted portions of an email he said he had sent Tuesday to House Homeland Security Committee leaders expressing willingness to speak by phone. The committee wants him to testify on what he has done to prevent the site from being used by extremists. 8chan was effectively knocked offline Monday after two companies cut off vital technical services in response to word that the gunman who killed 22 people at an El Paso, Texas, Walmart on Saturday posted a racist anti-Latino “manifesto” to 8chan just before the murders. 8chan was already well-known for trafficking in anonymous hate speech and incitement of hate crimes. Gunmen who committed similar massacres earlier this year at two New Zealand mosques and a Poway, California, synagogue also posted there. In a video he released on Tuesday, Watkins said 8chan was fully cooperating with law enforcement. He also said that the El Paso shooter had first posted his hate-filled manifesto to Instagram and that someone else had re-posted it to 8chan.”

Brookings: How Big Tech And Policymakers Miss The Mark When Fighting Online Extremism

“Why is it still so easy to find violent white supremacist content online, even though social media companies keep claiming that they are working overtime to delete it? Last weekend, the El Paso shooter—just like the San Diego and Christchurch shooters back in April—posted his manifesto to the same extremist website and claimed to take inspiration from what he had read there. Mainstream social media companies say they are trying to stop the spread of this kind of violent content, but today’s domestic terrorists are highly motivated to stay online, and they are using every trick in the book to stay that way. Fighting a motivated, evolving adversary is a classic challenge of cybersecurity, but the difference here is that lives—not dollars or passwords—hang in the balance.  “We need to strike hard, and strike fast. We need complete elimination of the enemy.” On July 24, three neo-Nazi podcasters introduced their latest show without mincing words. Men of the white race, they said, should adopt an accelerationist and exterminationist mindset, openly embracing violence against people of color, Jews, LGBT people. “We’re going to need our soldiers in the field, not only murdering our enemies…and also being killed in return. There’s going to be martyrs.”

The New York Times: How To Force 8Chan, Reddit And Others To Clean Up

“In the hours after the El Paso shooting last weekend, Fredrick Brennan, the founder of the online message board 8chan — the site that had hosted the racist manifestoes of the men responsible for the El Paso, Christchurch and Poway synagogue shootings — called for the site to be shut down. In an interview with The Times, he said, “It’s a complete negative to everybody except the users that are there. And you know what? It’s a negative to them, too. They just don’t realize it.” After the El Paso massacre, the 8chan website briefly went offline when Cloudflare, the network provider, banned it. But it was only a matter of time before someone else agreed to support the site: By Tuesday morning, 8chan was back online, spewing a toxic mix of hatred, violence and QAnon conspiracies. Message boards like 8chan aren’t the only place where these things are spread: In March, when there were two mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, the shootings were live-streamed on Facebook and then viewed millions of times on YouTube. Though it may seem that there is little that platforms and politicians can do to stop the spread of online hatred, a great deal could be accomplished with one simple tweak to the existing Communications Decency Act: revise the safe harbor provisions of the law.”