Eye on Extremism: December 10

The Independent: Tunnels, Knives And Riots: This Syrian Camp Holding Thousands Of Isis Wives Is At Breaking Point

“The quiet of Al Hol camp in the afternoon belies the trouble that lurks beneath the surface. In an annex of this sprawling facility reserved for some 10,000 foreign wives and children of Isis fighters from around the world, a mutiny is brewing. Over the past few months, sharia courts have been set up by camp detainees still loyal to the terror group. There has been a spate of killings targeting those who do not abide by the laws set by those courts. Riots have broken out and guards have been attacked with knives. Nearly nine months after the defeat of the Isis caliphate, camp authorities believe the terror state lives on in this barren settlement in the plains of northeast Syria. The women detained here came from more than 50 countries to join Isis. Most of those countries, including Britain, are refusing to repatriate their citizens due to security fears. The ability of the camp authorities to contain the thousands of radicalised Isis members is waning. Guards here say they have foiled more than a hundred escape attempts in recent months – they even found a tunnel inside one of the tents, stretching towards the perimeter fence. Some managed to escape the camp only to be recaptured.”

CNN: US Suspects Iran Is Behind Increasingly Sophisticated Rocket Attacks On US Bases In Iraq

“The US government believes that Iran is behind a series of increasingly sophisticated rocket attacks on joint US-Iraq military facilities in Iraq, several US officials tell CNN. The attacks have taken place as the US has grown increasingly concerned that Iran may be planning new provocations against US troops and interests in the region. The US military strongly believes Iranian-backed groups inside Iraq are responsible according to a US official with direct knowledge of the recent incidents. There have been nine rocket attacks on or in the vicinity of Iraqi facilities that host US troops in the last five weeks with the most recent one taking place on Monday. “We take these incidents seriously as do our Iraqi Security Forces partners, who are investigating these events. We have made clear that attacks on US. and Coalition personnel and facilities will not be tolerated and we retain the right to defend ourselves. US forces operate in Iraq at the invitation of the government of Iraq to support Iraqi forces against ISIS,” Pentagon spokesperson Cdr. Sean Robertson told CNN in a statement. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Saturday that “there have been reports in the public space about rockets being fired at American forces on bases in Iraq.”

The National: The ‘New Beginning’ Of ISIS: How The Militant Group Is Using Iraq’s Blind Spot To Rise Again

“In late October, a US-led coalition jet bombed a small tarn once used by fishermen near the northern Iraqi town of Makhmour, formed by rainfall cradling at the foot of the Qara Chokh, a mountain whose rock face climbs sharply out of the arid plains below. Staff Colonel Srud Barzanji points out from a windswept Qara Chokh mountain outpost, beyond the hanging mist, to the target of the strike called in by his men in the 46th Brigade of the Peshmerga, Iraqi Kurdistan’s military force. It hit a group who had appeared in sight for water — to drink and to bathe. They were ISIS fighters who had emerged from caves. The moustachioed Peshmerga commander, 48, had driven up the newly built, winding mountain pass, swinging through checkpoints in his blue-plated Toyota Hilux while joking that he named his dog “Trump” after the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi in a US commando raid in northern Syria last month. To the naked eye, the only thing that separates the green expanse that folds out of the Qara Chokh from any other rural area of Iraqi Kurdistan are the absent gas flares from the oilfields that burn across this region, known for its crude production. No ISIS flags fly above buildings to avoid air strikes, but the group is here.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Releases Documents Showing High-Level Doubts About War In Afghanistan

“A newly disclosed cache of government documents has revealed that U.S. and allied officials harbored doubts for years over the management and direction of the conflict in Afghanistan, America’s longest-running war. The documents, released by a government office set up to monitor the U.S.-led effort to rebuild the country, includes notes from previously unpublished interviews involving key decision makers, including civilian and military leaders. Many of the documents reflect views consistent with previously published accounts of the conflict, including the regular reports by the Pentagon’s Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, which compiled them and conducted the interviews. But the blunt assessments of important decision makers are likely to lead to new scrutiny of the Afghan conflict and provide ammunition to critics of the U.S. effort. “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan—we didn’t know what we were doing,” said Douglas Lute, who as a three-star Army general oversaw White House policy in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2013, speaking in one of the most hard-hitting interviews, conducted in 2015.”

The Washington Post: Gunman’s Behavior Changed After Trip To Native Saudi Arabia, Friends Say

“The Saudi air force trainee who killed three classmates at a Florida Navy base last week was a gifted student whose personality appeared to change after a trip to his native country this year, acquaintances and officials familiar with the case said Monday. Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani was described as “strange” and “angry” in the weeks leading up to Friday’s shooting rampage, but schoolmates and other acquaintances said he showed no outward sign that he was preparing to open fire inside a classroom building where he had been training to become a military aviator. The shooting, which also left eight people injured, is being treated by the FBI as a possible terrorist attack. “He looked like he was angry at the world,” said the owner of an Indian restaurant that Shamrani and several other Saudi students regularly patronized between classes. The man, like several other businesses owners, spoke on the condition that neither his name nor the restaurant’s name be revealed, citing fears of a backlash from customers. While the FBI has not yet determined a motive for the mass shooting, investigators are building a profile of the gunman from interviews with dozens of acquaintances, including fellow Saudi students, as well as from a Twitter account that authorities say belonged to Shamrani.”

The Atlantic: The Cure For Ultraviolence

“In the past two weeks, the British Isles witnessed two important developments in the annals of jihadist deradicalization. The first, here in London, was a spectacular failure to deradicalize: Usman Khan, 28, feigned remorse for his participation in a 2012 terror plot and was let out of prison early. He was attending a conference on prisoner rehabilitation when he ducked into a lavatory, taped knives to his hands, and emerged to murder two conference attendees before being shot dead on London Bridge. The second development, in Dublin, was a test of willingness to bring another radical back into our midst. Ireland brought home Lisa Marie Smith, a 37-year-old mother and former member of the Irish military who traveled to Syria to live under the Islamic State, and charged her with membership in a terror group. Many in Ireland opposed the government’s decision to bring this accused terrorist home, rather than abandoning her to the miserable fate she chose for herself when she traveled to Syria five years ago. There is something strange about the concept of deradicalization. The term implies a symmetrical relationship with radicalization, as if authorities could just reverse the transformation. But in practice the two processes are different, because deradicalization happens against the subject’s will in many cases, at the insistence of the government, and radicalization is organic and voluntary.”

United States

The New York Times: On Military Bases, The Dangers Increasingly Come From The Inside

“The deadliest mass shooting at an American military base came in November 2009 at Fort Hood in Texas, where a military psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, killed 12 soldiers and one civilian in what he described as an attempt to protect Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. And then, after all the soul searching and examination of the tragedy, it happened again four years later at the very same base, when an Army specialist, Ivan A. Lopez, killed three soldiers and wounded 12 others in a shooting in April 2014. The Army’s 105-page report on the second Fort Hood attack offered a sobering analysis, hinting at the scope of the military’s problems in identifying possible assailants and preventing mass shootings on bases. It found that Specialist Lopez, 34, was struggling with a host of issues — including the death of relatives, financial troubles, a spiritual crisis and a dispute with his superiors over the handling of his request for leave.”

The Wall Street Journal: Pensacola Hit By Cyberattack Days After Shooting At Military Base

“The city of Pensacola, Fla., was hit with a cyberattack, shutting down much of the city computer network, days after a Saudi air force student opened fire at a military base there. “The city of Pensacola is experiencing a cyberattack that began this weekend that is impacting our city network, including phones and email at City Hall and some of our other buildings,” Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said at a Monday briefing. The mayor said he didn’t know if the attack was connected to Friday’s shooting, when a Saudi flight student opened fire in a classroom at Naval Air Station Pensacola before he was shot to death by authorities. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating Friday’s shooting. It couldn’t be determined if the cyberattack had any impact on the investigation. The FBI in Jacksonville said it was aware “of a potential cyber related incident” and “are providing resources to assist,” according to a tweet on Monday afternoon. The FBI field office wasn’t immediately available for comment.”

Voice Of America: Cheney Warns Disengagement In Mideast Benefits Iran, Russia

“Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned Monday that “American disengagement” in the Middle East will benefit only Iran and Russia, indirectly criticizing President Donald Trump's pledges to pull forces out of the region. While stressing that he's no longer in government, Cheney's comments in Dubai cut to the core of several policies taken by Trump, including the sudden withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria. The former vice president mentioned Trump by name only once in praising him for pulling out the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. But Cheney's backing of a muscular military response in the Mideast starkly contrasts Trump's promises to pull America from what he calls the Mideast's “blood-stained sands.” “Russia is always on standby to fill power voids. That is how it happened that Russian troops swept in when the U.S. left northern Syria,” Cheney told the Arab Strategy Forum. “To sum up that still-unfolding story: nobody will remember it as our finest hour.” Cheney said that, as well as other challenges from extremist groups like al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, show "inaction can carry even greater risk than action.”

Syria

Haaretz: Chemical Weapons Watchdog Faked Report On Attack Near Damascus, Assad Says

“Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview aired Monday that the global chemical weapons watchdog has faked and falsified a report over an attack near the capital Damascus last year "just because the Americans wanted them to do so." Assad's comments to Italy's Rai News 24 came after the director-general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons expressed confidence in the report into the deadly attack in Syria. OPCW's chief Fernando Arias supported the report issued in March by a fact-finding mission from the watchdog that found "reasonable grounds" that chlorine was used in a deadly attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Douma. The mission wasn't mandated to attribute blame for the attack, but the U.S., Britain and France blamed Syria and launched punitive airstrikes. Syria denied responsibility. Assad spoke in the week of a letter purportedly by a member of the OPCW team released by secret-spilling website WikiLeaks called its conclusions biased.”

U.S. News & World Report: Russian Forces Enter Former Islamic State Stronghold In Syria After U.S. Pullback

“Russian forces have entered Raqqa, the former de facto capital of the Islamic State caliphate, in one of the starkest examples yet of how Moscow has filled the vacuum created by President Donald Trump's decision to pull U.S. forces from northern Syria. Russian troops were shown in footage on the defense ministry's Zvezda TV channel shaking hands with Syrian children and unloading humanitarian aid bundles with the slogan “Russia is with you” from the back of trucks. Raqqa was captured two years ago by U.S. troops and their Kurdish-led Syrian allies in the biggest victory of Washington's campaign against Islamic State in Syria. But since Trump abruptly ordered a pull-out in October, Moscow has swiftly advanced into territory where U.S. troops had operated. Russia is a close battlefield ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, which was invited by the Kurds into territory they controlled after Trump pulled his forces out of the way of a Turkish assault against Kurdish-held areas. Russian troops in Raqqa were handing out humanitarian aid and its military doctors were offering residents medical attention, Vladimir Varnavsky, a defense ministry officer, was quoted as saying by RIA news agency.”

Iran

The Hill: Iraq's Riots Threaten Iran's Plan For Middle East Dominance

“These are trying times for Iran’s ayatollahs. They continue to confront the worst nationwide protests since they took power four decades ago. The Trump administration’s sanctions are crippling the Iranian economy, and are a major reason why the protests have yet to be fully contained. And ongoing unrest in Lebanon and Iraq, especially in the latter, is undermining Tehran’s efforts to establish its hegemony throughout the Middle East. Iran’s involvement in Iraq differs in kind from its activities elsewhere in the region, notably Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Iran long has sought to dominate its neighbor, with whom it fought a bloody war including the use of chemical weapons, throughout much of the 1980s. America’s overthrow of Tehran’s arch enemy Saddam Hussein, and the civil war that followed in its wake, created an unprecedented opportunity for Iran to meddle to Iraqi affairs, especially when Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister in 2006. Maliki’s efforts to suppress the country’s Sunni population and establish Sh’ia dominance in all but the Kurdish areas enabled Tehran to establish itself as the dominant force in Iraq, especially once President Obama withdrew American troops at the end of 2010.”

NPR: Iran Copes With Protests Amid Reports Of A Brutal Crackdown

“NPR's Steve Inskeep talks to Ambassador Brian Hook, U.S. special representative for Iran, on the protests in that country, and the weekend prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Iran.”

Radio Farda: Jailed Rights Defender Demands Full Investigation Of Iran Protest Deaths

“Nasrin Sotoudeh, one of the most prominent Iranian human rights defenders has published a statement from prison demanding a full independent investigation of government’s bloody crackdown on November protests that killed hundreds. Sotoudeh, a lawyer, is serving a 38-year sentence for defending women’s right to reject compulsory hijab. She was arrested in 2018. More than one million people in the world have signed a petition for her release. Protests in Iran broke out on November 15 after gasoline prices were suddenly increased. Government security forces almost immediately resorted to full use of force against largely young demonstrators frustrated by lack of jobs and freedoms. Numerous videos show security forces firing directly at protesters, sometimes at close range. In her statement Sotoudeh demands an “independent investigation with the participation of lawyers trusted by the people, and civil activists, as well as supervision by UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights and its Special Rapporteur”.

Iraq

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iraq Authorities Launch Military Operation Against ISIS In 4 Provinces

“Iraq launched the second phase of Will of Victory operation against ISIS in four different governorates, including Salaheddine, Kirkuk, Samarra and Diyala, announced spokesperson Joint Operations Command spokesman Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji. Khafaji said the operation will be completed within its specified time and achieve all of its goals, warning that ISIS plans to target the ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Iraq. He revealed that preliminary investigations with ISIS’ second in command, Hamid Shaker, known as Abu Khaldoun, uncovered that the organization plans to carry out terrorist operations in Baghdad, taking advantage of the security forces' preoccupation with the demonstrators. He added that on the first day of the Will of Victory operation, security forces destroyed 11 hideouts and three tunnels in Salaheddine and seized 50 kilograms of urea and 23 explosive devices. In Kirkuk, they searched 45 villages and destroyed four tunnels and two terrorist hideouts and arrested two terrorists. Security expert Fadel Abu Ragheef told Asharq Al-Awsat that it is possible for ISIS to carry out attacks against protesters, taking advantage of the conditions the country is going through.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: 6 Injured As 4 Rockets Strike Military Complex In Baghdad

“Four Katyusha rockets struck a military base next to Baghdad International Airport on Monday wounding “six fighters”, a statement from the military said. Security forces found launchers with rockets that had not been fired properly, indicating a larger attack was planned, it added. Security sources told AFP that the wounded in Monday's attack belong to Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service, an elite unit that was created and trained by US forces. Two of them are in critical condition, the sources said. There have been at least nine attacks against US targets in Iraq in the span of six weeks. There have been no claims of responsibility and no US forces have been wounded. US defense officials have blamed several of the attacks on Iran-backed factions in Iraq. On Thursday, two Katyusha rockets landed inside Balad air base, but there were no casualties or damage reported from the attack. Balad base hosts US forces and contractors and is located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad. On Tuesday, five rockets landed on Ain Al-Asad air base, which hosts US forces in Anbar province in western Iraq without causing any casualties.”

Xinhua: Feature: Iraq's Mosul Shows Signs Of Recovering After 2 Years Of IS Defeat

“After two years since Iraq announced full liberation from the Islamic State (IS) militant group, Mosul, the second largest metropolis of Iraq, is showing signs of recovering. The residents of the city have strong hope for bringing normal life to their beloved city, as many of them have returned to rebuild their houses and shops. Life restoration is running faster these days, as teams of workers can be seen almost everywhere rushing through piles of rubble in the narrow alleys to rebuild the walls of some houses and shops of the old city center in the western side of Mosul, which witnessed one of the fiercest battles since World War II. IS extremists holed up in the narrow alleys of Mosul's Old City center, where they booby-trapped buildings and planted a large number of roadside bombs. The battles killed thousands of innocent people, with dozens of thousands of buildings damaged or destroyed, including the iconic al-Nuri Mosque and its leaning minaret. The residents of Mosul are increasingly taking part in building their houses and old markets, while the local government is doing its best to reconstruct the city's infrastructure and main public services. The reconstruction process is promising for the people of the city, as the process is effectively supported by some UN-funded organizations, NGOs and other private companies.”

Turkey

Asharq Al-Awsat: 2 Turkish Soldiers Killed While Defusing Bomb

“At least two Turkish soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded on Monday while attempting to defuse an improvised explosive device, officials said. The device exploded in a village near the town of Idil, in the mainly-Kurdish populated Sirnak province, according to a statement from the regional governor's office. The explosive device was planted by the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, The Associated Press quoted the governor's office as saying. The statement didn't provide further details but said Turkey's operations to combat the PKK were continuing with “determination.” There was no word on the wounded soldiers' conditions. The PKK, which is considered a terror organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union, has been waging an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since then. In October, Turkey invaded areas of northeast Syria in a bid to drive Syrian Kurdish fighters away from its border. Turkey says the Syrian Kurdish fighters are linked to the PKK and has been infuriated by Western nations' support to the group.”

Xinhua: Erdogan Says Turkey Ready To Help Afghanistan To Eliminate IS

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Monday that Turkey would give all the necessary support for the eradication of the Islamic State (IS) from Afghanistan. “The outbreak of Daesh virus in Afghanistan must be prevented,” Erdogan said at the eighth ministerial conference of Heart of Asia Istanbul Process in Istanbul, using the Arabic name of the IS. To prevent terrorist organizations from finding a favorable environment in the region, the international community needs to boost material and moral investments in Afghanistan, the president said. “Neglecting Afghanistan by focusing on some of the gains achieved in recent years will result in irreparable damage,” he stressed. In his view, the private sector and regional projects should play a major role in the economic and social development of Afghanistan. Heart of Asia Istanbul Process began with the Istanbul conference on Afghanistan in 2011 upon the initiative of Turkey.”

Afghanistan

NBC News: U.S.-Taliban Talks Resume, Raising Prospect Of An End To The War In Afghanistan

“Talks between the United States and the Taliban resumed this weekend, three months after President Donald Trump abruptly canceled the negotiations aimed at ending America’s longest war. News of the talks came just before The Washington Post reported it had obtained more than 2,000 pages of government documents that it says show how U.S. officials have for years misled the public about the war in Afghanistan. On Monday, the Post reported that senior U.S. officials hid evidence that the war had become unwinnable. NBC News has not been able to independently verify the documents, which the paper obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. NBC News has contacted the White House, State Department and Pentagon for comment. The U.S.-Taliban talks restarted in the Qatari capital, Doha, on Saturday with the goal of reducing violence and laying the groundwork for peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, a State Department spokesperson told NBC News. A separate Western official with knowledge of the discussions said that the aim was to essentially “pick up where they left off.”

Voice Of America: Taliban Bomber Kills 9 Afghan Soldiers In Helmand

“A Taliban suicide bomber Monday detonated his explosives-laden vehicle near a military base in southern Afghanistan, killing at least nine soldiers and injuring several others. Officials said the insurgent bombing occurred near the center of Nad Ali district in Helmand province, where most of the territory is controlled or contested by the Taliban. The blast reportedly destroyed the Afghan National Army (ANA) facility. Rescue workers were trying to retrieve bodies from the rubles and the death toll could increase, Barali Nazari, the district chief, told VOA. The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, claiming it killed dozens of security forces and destroyed several armored vehicles, though insurgent claims are often inflated. Separately, a Taliban raid in the volatile eastern Ghazni province late on Sunday killed at least six ANA soldiers, the provincial police chief, Khalid Wardak, told VOA. The violence comes as American and Taliban negotiators continued their meetings in Qatar Monday. The two adversaries in the 18-year-old Afghan war returned to the negotiating table last week, three months after President Donald Trump had suspended the process. U.S. chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad restarted the latest round of talks with a mission to persuade the Taliban to reduce violence and enter into intra-Afghan negotiations for permanently ending hostilities in Afghanistan.”

Yemen

The Jerusalem Post: Houthi Rebels Threaten Israel In Statements To Arab Media

“Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have continued to issue threats against Israel, after a senior commander of Ansar Allah, General Mohammed Nasser al-Atifi, told the Arab media outlet Al-Medean that they have “a bank of targets, both land and sea-based, at which it can strike the Zionist enemy.” The senior Houthi commander added that “[they] will not hesitate to attack them if the leadership decides to do so. Our military forces are prepared for this kind of attack.” The statements came amid the seizure of a ship that was carrying missile components from Iran to Yemen, according to U.S. forces stationed in the Persian Gulf. A press briefing given by U.S. Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, revealed that American forces had “interdicted a significant hoard of weapons and missile parts evidently of Iranian origin.” He added that “the seizure includes sophisticated weapons.”

The National: Aden Security Plan Seeks To End A String Of ISIS Assassinations

“Security forces and troops from the Saudi led-Coalition have launched a major security operation in the wake of an ISIS assassination, the most recent in a string of killings by the militant group in the Yemeni city of Aden. Officers confiscated illegal weapons, stopped motorcycle traffic and drivers with unregistered vehicles all over the city after the killing of security official Mohammed Saleh Al Radfani by ISIS militants on Saturday. Hundreds of officers from Aden’s police, with support from the Security Belt Forces with armoured vehicles, deployed across the city and manned new checkpoints at key roundabouts and at junctions near state institutions and public facilities. Cpt Abdulrahaman Al Naqeeb, the spokesperson of the security forces in Aden, told The National that the wide-ranging security campaign aimed to prevent terrorists from infiltrating the city by imposing a strict ban on the illegal weapon ownership, using the motor-cycles, and preventing the use of the unregistered cars in the city. “We deployed heavy security forces in every single street and in the openings of the streets, thousands of our soldiers launched the security campaign since the early morning on Sunday, they have cracked down on hundreds of unlicensed motorcycles and unregistered cars and seized hundreds of unlicensed guns,” Cpt Al Naqeeb said.”

Middle East

The Jerusalem Post: Gulf Summit Could Chart New Direction Amid Qatar Crisis

“It has been more than two and a half years since several Gulf countries, led by Saudi Arabia, broke relations with Qatar. Now a thaw is emerging that could mean Riyadh and Doha begin a new chapter in relations. This would have far-reaching consequences, including in the US where think tanks and media have been co-opted into Gulf politics. But both Qatar and its adversaries are playing down a major breakthrough. A summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh is expected to pave the way to a possible thaw. Al-Arabiya reported that the meeting on Tuesday is not expected to produce a breakthrough. But the tone is different than in the past. “GCC foreign ministers held a preparatory meeting in Riyadh on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s summit which is expected to focus on regional issues, including maritime security, Iran’s interference in the region, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Syrian crisis and the war in Yemen.” That’s a lot on the plate for a one-day meeting. The Saudi King extended and invitation to the Qataris, including Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Al-Arabiya says Qatar is expected to be represented by Prime Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani. Asharq al-Awsat said the meeting is the 40th of its kind under the GCC auspices. The Saudi decision to host it “reflects its leadership,” a Saudi source told reporters.”

Nigeria

The Punch Nigeria: B’Haram Explosive Kills Major, Troops Rescue 31

“Troops of the Nigerian Army attached to Operation Lafiya Dole have conducted clearance operations in three villages in the Bama Local Government Area of Borno State, rescuing 31 women and children from the Boko Haram insurgents after a gun battle. This is just as an Improvised Explosive Device planted by the terrorists killed an officer of the Nigerian Army in the Marte Local Government Area of Borno State on Saturday. The army said on Monday that the 31 persons abducted by the Boko Haram fighters were rescued in Mantari, Malam Masari and Gabchari villages and comprised 14 women and 17 children. Military sources, who confirmed the death of the army officer, a Major, said he was attached to the 153 Task Force Battalion. The officer was reportedly leading a patrol in the area when the explosive went off. The Nigerian Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col Aminu Iliyasu, said in a release that the troops recovered two AK-47 rifles, magazines loaded with 30 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition each, three unexploded mortar bombs, one IED battery, one camel bag and three motorcycles. Iliyasu said, “In an ambush operation conducted by the troops of 21 Special Armoured Brigade at Darel Jamel, Bama LGA of Borno State, the troops neutralised one Boko Haram terrorist while several others escaped with gunshot injuries.”

Somalia

The Washington Post: US Airstrike Kills Extremist Rebel In Somalia, Say Officials

“Intelligence officials in Somalia say an airstrike conducted by the U.S. military in the country’s south killed a senior extremist of the al-Shabab rebel group. The airstrike on Monday by an unmanned U.S. drone targeted a vehicle outside Sakow, a town in Somalia’s Middle Jubba region, killing the rebel and wounding another, said the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The strike was conducted in coordination with Somali intelligence which assisted in tracking the slain militant before the U.S. airstrike. The U.S. Africa Command confirmed the strike. “We continue to work closely with our Somali partners to take decisive action to weed out terrorists who wish to do harm to the Somali people,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Miguel A. Castellanos, deputy director of operations, U.S. Africa Command, in a statement which said that no Somali no civilians were injured or killed as a result of the airstrike. There was no immediate comment from al-Shabab on the latest airstrike.”

The Hill: Debt Forgiveness For Somalia Would Reward Corruption, Empower Al-Shabaab

“When Somali Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beileh visited Washington for the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund earlier this fall, he was all smiles. “Things are looking up … Everybody was positive,” he said, claiming progress in Somalia’s goal to win nearly $5 billion in debt relief. That debt includes $1 billion owed by Somalia to the U.S. Treasury. Whereas the Trump administration initially took a skeptical approach to Somalia’s request for debt forgiveness, it reportedly is beginning to change its tune. Congress should be outraged. Between 1991 and 2011, Somalia received more than $50 billion in aid, and the United States has since provided it with hundreds of millions of dollars more annually in U.S. aid. Rather than rebuild their country, some Somali authorities have enriched themselves. Transparency International has ranked Somalia for more than a decade as the world’s most corrupt country. At issue now is not only forgiveness for the funds Somalia squandered, but also Somalia’s ability to seek new loans, which the government in Mogadishu signals it plans to do — with U.S. Embassy support. Rather than gear new loans to any specific projects, Somali officials say they will seek general budgetary support.”

Africa

Foreign Policy: Sudan’s New Government Can’t Succeed If It Remains On The U.S. Blacklist

“Although Sudan’s new prime minister visited Washington last week, and the two countries have agreed to swap ambassadors for the first time in 23 years, Sudan and the United States have a long road to travel before normalizing relations. Since 1997, the United States has kept Sudan and its former leader, Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court, on its state sponsors of terrorism list. Bashir did indeed harbor terrorists, including al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden. Bashir’s regime was also involved in dozens of acts of terrorism, including bombing the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, and attacking the USS Cole in 2000. Earlier this year, after months of heroic protests in Sudan, in many cases led by women, the Bashir regime was toppled. A civilian administration led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has been put in place to oversee a transition to democracy by 2022. But even though Bashir is gone, Sudan remains on the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list. This will not help pave the way to a new Sudan. The new government is fragile, and the forces ranged against it are powerful. The transition to a democratic government will be difficult enough as it is and much more difficult if Sudan remains on the U.S. terrorist sponsors list.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Tunisian Sentenced To Year In Prison For Pledging Allegiance To ISIS

“A court in Tunis sentenced a Tunisian man to a one-year prison after being accused of pledging allegiance to the terrorist organization ISIS and planning attacks inside Tunisia. Investigations confirmed that the defendant, who is in his 30s, intentionally downloaded a video from the websites affiliated with terrorist organizations. He urged Tunisian youths to travel to Libya and Syria, join ISIS and carry out attacks around the world, notably Tunisia. Upon his appearance before the judicial authorities, the defendant confessed to the charges against him, but he denied adopting extremist ideology and contacting ISIS leaders. A number of extremist groups experts, including Alia al-Alani, Faisal al-Sherif and Badra Gaaloul, confirmed that the security services are facing difficulties in cracking down on terrorists because they are often acting on their own. In this regard, Alani said that the counter-terrorism agencies are required to update their records of suspects and add the names of people suspected or proven to have pledged allegiance to terrorist organizations. The agencies need to adopt more sophisticated strategies in wake of the various terrorist attacks and stabbing incidents that have taken place against security and military personnel in Tunisia.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Man Arrested In Bristol Over Suspected Terror Offences

“A man has been arrested in Bristol on suspicion of Islamist-related terrorism offences, police have said. The 33-year-old was detained at 23:00 GMT on Monday as part of a planned operation at a flat in Tyndale Court, Imperial Road, in Clifton. The suspect is being held in custody while searches are carried out at the address. Police said there was no risk to the public and the arrest was not linked to the London Bridge terror attack. Inquiries were made by detectives from Counter Terrorism Policing South East (CTPSE), working alongside Counter Terrorism Policing South West, prior to that attack on 29 November, officers confirmed. The suspect is being held on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under section 41b of the Terrorism Act (2000). Head of CTPSE Det Ch Supt Kath Barnes said: “At around 23:00, counter-terrorism detectives arrested a man on suspicion of terrorism offences and are currently carrying out searches at a residential property in Bristol. “This was part of a pre-planned operation. “I would like to thank the local community for their patience whilst we carry out searches and continue our investigation.”

France

The Telegraph: Isil 'Matchmaker' Who Lured British Teen Bride To Syria Is Deported To France

“Turkey has deported to France the “Islamic State matchmaker” who lured a British teen bride to Syria as part of a drive to send foreign fighters back to their countries of origin. Tooba Gondal, 25, is among 11 French nationals that Turkey repatriated early on Monday, according to France's Centre for Analysis of Terrorism, CAT, citing official sources. A French judicial source confirmed that four women and their seven children had arrived in France. Two of the women returned were already targeted by arrest warrants and will soon face a judge, while the other two were sought by police and have been placed in custody, the French source said. The children have been taken into care. Ms Gondal, from Walthamstow, east London, has been "detained for questioning" and faces terror charges, said CAT. She will then likely be detained while awaiting trial. She was born in France but moved to UK capital as a child and had British residency. A source close to the family told The Telegraph they were upset by the UK's decision to refuse her return.”

Europe

The Washington Post: Polish School Director Fired Over Terror Attack Exercise

“Local authorities in northeast Poland say that a primary school director has been fired and psychologists are working with traumatized schoolchildren following a terrorist attack exercise the director organized but that unprepared students took for real. The director of primary and middle schools group in the town of Barczewo had a local security firm organize the exercise for the students on how to act during terrorist attack. But she failed to warn the students or the teachers it would take place. Many students, who are between the ages of 10 and 14, panicked and cried when men in camouflage dress, face masks and fake guns in hands entered the school Nov. 14, throwing bang grenades. Barczewo Mayor Andrzej Maciejewski says the director had exposed the schoolchildren to unnecessary trauma even though he knew some of them require special psychological care. In a letter to local education authorities last month, Maciejewski said the director failed to offer psychological counselling to traumatized children and asked that she be fired, which was done Nov. 29. The mayor notified prosecutors of the exercise last week. The firm that carried out the exercise said the men who conducted it were not aware that the children had not been warned ahead of time.”

The New York Times: Kosovo Files IS Terror Charges Against Man, Wife And Mother

“Kosovo prosecutors filed terrorism charges Monday against three ethnic Albanians who returned to the small European country in May after allegedly joining the Islamic State group in Syria. Prosecutors said the three are a man, his wife and his mother. They alleged the man fought with the extremist group before bringing his wife and daughter through North Macedonia and Turkey to Syria in 2014. The mother joined them in 2015, prosecutors said. The two women allegedly earned a monthly salary while serving IS members, but the whole family surrendered to Kurdish forces as the Islamic State lost ground in Syria, Kosovo authorities said. The three adults have been charged with organization and participation in a terror group. If convicted, they could face prison sentences of up to 15 years. In April, 110 Kosovo citizens were repatriated from Syria. Kosovo authorities say 30 of the country's citizens are still actively supporting terror groups in Syria.”

The Brussels Times: Belgium Expands Terrorism Database To Beef Up Prisoner Surveillance

“Belgium is reshuffling and expanding its terrorism database in order to better equip law enforcement authorities to monitor and share information about “potentially dangerous people,” particularly behind bars. Justice Minister Koen Geens announced in a press release that the common database of Terrorist Fighters would be updated with two new categories: “potentially violent extremists” and “terrorism convicts.” The changes ensure that “follow-ups on potentially dangerous people” can be done more efficiently, and comes three years after the database was first created after coordinated terrorist bombings in Brussels left 32 civilians dead on 22 March 2016. “The main purpose of the database extension is to ensure that all prisoners who show significant signs of radicalisation are subject to information sharing via the common database and that the evaluation of this persons is coordinated,” Geens’ statement read. The expansion follows the recommendations of a parliament judiciary committee set up in the aftermath of the attacks, which recommended the additional categories be created for more efficient and integrated follow-ups. Prior to the changes, the database included three categories: foreign terrorist fighters, homegrown terrorist or preachers of hate, witht he first referring to Belgian nationals or residents who travelled abroad to join a terror group.”

Southeast Asia

The New York Times: In Myanmar Army’s Corner, Aung San Suu Kyi Will Defend It In Rohingya Genocide Case

“She could have stayed home. Nobody is forcing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi — she of the Nobel Peace Prize and fragrant flowers in her hair — to stride into the International Court of Justice on Tuesday at The Hague, where she will lead Myanmar’s defense against accusations of genocide. After all, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi spent decades battling the same military generals accused of perpetrating mass atrocities against Myanmar’s minority Rohingya Muslims. Just a few years ago, the onetime democracy activist, who serves as Myanmar’s foreign minister and de facto civilian leader, visited the halls of power in Western Europe to preach the virtues of nonviolent resistance against a military dictatorship. This time, her mission is very different. From Tuesday to Thursday, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi will shield Myanmar in public hearings at the International Court of Justice, where the country is being accused of trying to “destroy the Rohingya as a group, in whole or in part, by the use of mass murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as the systematic destruction by fire of their villages, often with inhabitants locked inside burning houses.”

Australia

ABC News: Australian Man Accused Of Engaging In 'Hostile Activities' Appears In Court On Terror Charges

“Agim Ajazi, 30, briefly appeared in Brisbane Magistrates Court this morning after being flown from Turkey to South Australia before being extradited to Brisbane. He is facing five charges including providing support to a terrorist organisation, incursions into foreign countries, advocating terrorism, and membership of a terrorist organisation. Australian Federal Police (AFP) Assistant Commissioner in counter terrorism Ian McCartney said the arrest was "a long time coming" and the man now faced "serious Commonwealth offences". "The hostile activity offences carry a penalty of life imprisonment if convicted," he said. The AFP will allege Mr Ajazi travelled to Syria in 2013 and engaged in hostile offences as a member of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, also known as Jabhat al-Nusra. The man had previously resided on the Gold Coast and was subject to investigations while living in Australia, police said. "This group adheres to violent, extremist ideology and maintains links to Al Qaeda," assistant commissioner McCartney said. "We will allege that the person, whilst in Syria, adopted the name Amad Shaheed and used social media to document his activities with Jabhat al-Nusra." Police will also allege he was engaging in hostile activities and advocated terrorist acts, not just in the conflict zone in Syria but also in the West, including Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.”

Technology

The New York Times: This Man May Be Big Tech’s Biggest Threat

“At a hearing this summer about the rising power of the country’s biggest tech companies, Representative David Cicilline zeroed in on Amazon. Unhappy with a response from one of the company’s top lawyers, he delivered a biting retort. “I may remind you, sir: You are under oath,” Mr. Cicilline said. Tech companies are under various antitrust investigations, including by the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general. Those inquiries could lead to lawsuits against the companies to enforce existing laws. But Mr. Cicilline has a more ambitious goal — one that may be the greater threat, in the long run, to Big Tech’s practices and profits. He’s trying to build evidence, and a bipartisan consensus, for changing the laws themselves. When his party took control of the House this year, Mr. Cicilline, a five-term Rhode Island Democrat, became chairman of the subcommittee that oversees antitrust law. In June, he opened an investigation into possible anticompetitive practices by Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon.”