Eye on Extremism: December 11

The New York Times: Somali Security Forces Kill 5 Al Shabaab Fighters To End Hotel Siege

“Somali security forces shot dead five Al Shabaab gunmen, who had killed three civilians and two soldiers during an attack on a hotel near the presidential residence in Mogadishu on Tuesday night, police said early on Wednesday. Al Shabaab, an al Qaeda linked Islamist militant group, frequently launches bombing and gun raids in Mogadishu in a bid to topple Somalia's U.N.-backed government. The group confirmed last night it had attacked the Syl hotel, a popular gathering place for officials and lawmakers.”

Voice Of America: Dozens Injured In Attack Near US Base In Afghanistan

“A powerful bomb-and-gun attack on the largest American military base in Afghanistan early Wednesday injured dozens of people, mostly civilians. Afghan military authorities said a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed vehicle in front of the gate of an unused hospital almost adjacent to the Bagram Airfield in Parwan province. Four gunmen later entered the vacant health facility before foreign forces engaged them in a gunfight, Alozai Ahmadi, the commander of the Parwan coordination center, told VOA. A spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support military mission confirmed the attack on the medical facility.”

Fox News: Iran Building New Underground Tunnel To House Missiles: Intelligence Sources

“Iran is building an underground tunnel to store missiles and large-scale weapons, according to satellite images obtained by Fox News and Western intelligence sources who reviewed the information. The structure, housed within the Imam Ali military base in Eastern Syria, is estimated to be nearly 400 feet long, 15 feet wide and 13 feet deep. The first image--taken by Image Sat International (ISI), an end-to-end geospatial intelligence solutions company, where construction of the tunnel can be seen--was captured on Oct. 5. Two weeks later, a shed was used to hide the tunnel entrance from the air. Large dirt piles appeared at the opposite end of the tunnel as excavations continue.”

The Washington Post: Gunman In Base Shooting May Have Embraced Radical Ideology Years Before Arriving In U.S., Saudi Report Says

“The Saudi aviation student responsible for a shooting that killed three U.S. sailors on a Florida base last week appears to have embraced radical ideology as early as 2015, well before he arrived in the United States for training, a Saudi government analysis has found. According to the internal report, a Twitter account believed to have been used by Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani indicates that four religious figures described as radical appear to have shaped the Saudi Air Force trainee’s “extremist thought.” A copy of the report was obtained by The Washington Post. The attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola has raised concerns about the vetting of foreign military personnel who take part in training and exchange programs in the United States, and drawn renewed congressional scrutiny of the kingdom following a period of substantial tension. While some lawmakers have criticized Saudi Arabia for its role in Yemen’s punishing civil war and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, the Trump administration has consistently defended the kingdom as a key ally against Iran and other threats. On Tuesday, the Pentagon said it was suspending operational training for about 850 visiting Saudis, part of a larger review of the handling of foreign military students.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Woman Pleads Guilty To Conspiring To Support ISIS

“An Augusta-area woman has pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support and resources to ISIS and will face up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines when she is sentenced Feb. 5, federal court records show. The Justice Department announced Kim Anh Vo’s arrest in March, saying she was apprehended in Hephzibah, which sits about 14 miles southwest of Augusta.More: Feds arrest Georgia woman for supporting an Islamic State-linked group Vo is at least the second person in the Southeast to be charged this year with supporting ISIS, also known as the Islamic State. On Thursday, the Justice Department announced the indictment of Romeo Xavier Langhorne, 30, of Roanoke, Va., accusing him of attempting to provide material support and resources to ISIS. Langhorne, according to the Justice Department, was seeking to help ISIS adherents arm themselves with deadly explosives for terrorism.After signing a plea deal in June, Vo — who also goes by “Zozo,” “Miss.Bones” and “Kitty Lee” — told a federal judge in New York that she joined and recruited for the United Cyber Caliphate, an online group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS.Justice Department officials said the group and its subgroups have disseminated online “kill lists,” identifying U.S. soldiers and U.S. State Department workers. One such list from April 2016 identified about 3,600 people in the New York City area and was labeled “We Want them #Dead.”

The Wall Street Journal: Facebook Rebuffs Barr, Moves Ahead On Messaging Encryption

“Facebook FB -0.23% said it would move forward with plans to add encryption across its messaging platforms, rejecting a plea from Attorney General William Barr to allow some form of government access to those services over concerns about public safety. In a letter to Mr. Barr on Monday, Facebook executives Will Cathcart and Stan Chudnovsky, who lead the company’s WhatsApp and Messenger services, said that undermining encryption in their products for law enforcement would create a “backdoor” vulnerability that malicious actors also could leverage to harm users. “The ‘backdoor’ access you are demanding for law enforcement would be a gift to criminals, hackers and repressive regimes, creating a way for them to enter our systems and leaving every person on our platforms more vulnerable to real-life harm,” the executives wrote in the letter, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

United States

U.S. News & World Report: Man Sentenced To 6 Years For Plotting Foiled Terror Attack

“An Ohio man accused of plotting with his girlfriend to obtain guns and explosives for a foiled domestic terror attack at a bar was sentenced Tuesday to six years in prison. Vincent Armstrong, 24, of Toledo, pleaded guilty in August to a charge related to conspiring to transport or receive an explosive with intent to harm. He will remain on probation for three years after his release, The Toledo Blade reported. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Freeman said Armstrong's girlfriend Elizabeth Lecron was the mastermind behind the planned attack and that she introduced him to online communities interested in mass murders. Prosecutors said the pair had talked extensively about taking part in violent attacks on public places, visited the site of the Columbine High School massacre and had bomb-making materials and weapons. Armstrong said his roommate convinced him to not go through with the assault. “When I recall being confronted by my roommate, I felt like it was a second chance at life,” Armstrong said. “My life is far from over. I will become a better version of myself with the help of my family and friends.” Armstrong’s defense attorney, Adam Nightingale, said Armstrong's roommate persuaded him to end his involvement with Lecron about six months before he was arrested in December 2018.”

The New York Times: Bipartisan Bill Targets Online Spread Of Child Sex Abuse Material

“Legislation was introduced on Tuesday that would hold tech companies more responsible for an explosion in online child sexual abuse material and give law enforcement agencies more opportunity to gather evidence of crimes. The bill, proposed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate, would require companies to retain information about illegal photos and videos found on their platforms for a longer period of time. Its sponsors said the bill was in response to a New York Times investigation, part of a continuing series, revealing that cases often went cold after businesses deleted the data.”

The New York Times: 3 Crime Scenes And 6 Dead: Rampage Stuns Jersey City

“The shooting began outside a cemetery in Jersey City, N.J., on Tuesday when a 40-year-old detective tried to intercept two people who were suspects in a homicide. They opened fire and fled, speeding off in a rented truck that had been reported stolen and leaving the detective dead on the ground. They drove about a mile, stopping in a Hasidic neighborhood where dozens of young ultra-Orthodox families have relocated to in recent years. With traffic at a standstill as the police rushed to answer 911 calls about the shooting at the cemetery, the pair invaded a kosher market.”

Syria

The New York Times: Turkey And Russia Judged Bigger Risk Than ISIS For U.S. Troops In Syria

“The Trump administration’s rapidly shifting strategy in northern Syria has American commanders there scrambling to protect their forces from an expected surge in actions by military units from Turkey, Russia, Iran and the Syrian government, as well as their proxy forces, according to Defense Department officials. American commanders now see these armed groups as a greater danger than the Islamic State forces they were sent to fight. Commanders have requested guidance outlining how American forces might deal with an attack from the assortment of armed groups, including Russian-backed Syrian government forces, that have, in the past, tried to seize territory held by the United States. But they have received muddled direction from the Pentagon, two Defense Department officials said. For now, the American command heavily relies on the instincts of junior commanders on the ground, cautionary phone calls to officials from Russia and Turkey and overhead surveillance — susceptible to failure in poor weather — to help avoid close encounters with other forces in the Euphrates River Valley, where most American troops are based. “These forces are at risk without a clear understanding of what they are expected to achieve, and without the political support of their nation, if or more likely when, one of these American adversaries decided to attack them,” said Jennifer Cafarella, the research director for the Institute for the Study of War in Washington.”

Reuters: Russia, Turkey And Iran Express Concern About Militants In Syria's Idlib

“Russia, Turkey and Iran are concerned about the increased presence of terrorist groups in Syria’s Idlib province, the three countries said after talks in Kazakhstan, pledging to coordinate actions aimed at eliminating the militants. Moscow, Ankara and Tehran “highlighted the necessity to establish calm on the ground”, the trio said in a joint statement after the talks, also attended by representatives of the Damascus government and the Syrian armed opposition. The three countries also said they rejected attempts to create “new realities on the ground, including illegitimate self-rule initiatives” and that they were opposed to the illegal seizure and transfer of Syrian oil revenues. Commenting on the work of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, the three nations said it should be governed by a sense of “compromise and constructive engagement” without foreign interference and externally imposed timelines.”

Al Jazeera: Women Under ISIL: The Teacher

“My name is Ayat. I am 27 years old and a primary school teacher. ISIL closed the schools and turned them into training centres for fighters. They only wanted us to teach the verses in the Quran about “jihad”, war and murder. We did not like children learning that. So, I tried to teach at home. I made a deal with some parents for small groups of students to come to my house. But the mother of one of my students talked too much. The news spread from one person to another. And ISIL found out a teacher was teaching at home and was not following their instructions. They told my husband: “She'd better get training in ISIL's laws and teach children at the mosque like we want. Or else ...” It was a threat. I had no other choice. During the training, we were constantly reminded that we were one of them and had to abide by their rules. They had our names and monitored us closely. We were now with them. At the end of the training, we were given a private appointment. We were received one by one, and they made us take an oath. We did it in the presence of the emir's wife. She was responsible for these kinds of things. Whenever we saw the car of the religious police, we would all start trembling. We were terrified and would clear the roads until it passed by.”

Iraq

Kurdistan 24: Iraq Announces Close To Most Recent Phase Of Anti-ISIS Campaign

“The Iraqi military on Monday announced the conclusion of the seventh phase of an ongoing military operation known as “Will of Victory” that aims to seek and destroy remnants of the Islamic State in multiple areas within the provinces of Diyala, Kirkuk, Nineveh, and Salahuddin. The phase of the campaign was carried out between Saturday and Monday and was primarily focused on routing out sleeper cells of the extremist group, according to a statement, which added that ground troops were supported by the Iraqi air force and operated “in cooperation with the International coalition.” Security forces were able to “destroy 18 ISIS tunnels, demolish 20 bases of the terrorist groups, apprehend 164 explosive belts, safely dispose of 54 improvised explosive devices (IED), and arrest 21 wanted individuals.” The statement said that operations covered an approximate area of 3,257 square kilometers, including the mountain areas of Hamrin and Ajil, the Alas oil fields, and several sectors and villages in Diyala. Kirkuk Governorate, which is part of disputed territories between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq, has witnessed a series of attacks since last week.”

Turkey

The New York Times: As Rivals Fight For Control Of Libya, Erdogan Says Turkey May Jump In

“The battle for control of Libya threatened to escalate further this week as Turkey said it might intervene to stop the Russian-backed forces now closing in on Tripoli, the capital. In comments to Turkish television networks on Monday night and again on Tuesday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pointedly raised the possibility that Turkey might send troops to counter the Russians if the United Nations-recognized government headquartered in Tripoli formally requested it.”

Associated Press: Turkey Hints It Could Bar US From Using Key Air Bases

“Turkey’s foreign minister suggested Wednesday that the United States could be barred from using two strategic air bases in retaliation to possible U.S. sanctions against his country, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Mevlut Cavusoglu comments came amid reports that U.S. lawmakers had agreed on a defense bill that also includes calls to sanction Turkey over its decision to proceed with the purchase and deployment of Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems. “In the event of a decision to sanction Turkey, the Incirlik and Kurecik airbases can be brought to the agenda,” Anadolu quoted Cavusoglu as saying.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Bagram Air Base In Afghanistan Is Attacked By Car Bomb

“Armed attackers on Wednesday set off a car bomb and penetrated Bagram Air Base, the largest United States military base in Afghanistan, killing at least one person and wounding at least 80, officials said. The attack on the base — which President Trump had recently visited — came as peace talks resumed between American officials and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar’s capital. A vehicle laden with explosives targeted the southern part of the base, the site of a medical facility that was under construction. Several attackers then entered the base, engaging in a firefight with Afghan and coalition forces. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack on the base, which is north of Kabul, the capital. A spokesman for the American-led NATO mission in Afghanistan said that the medical facility was being built to help people who live near the base, and that it was the target of the attackers. The spokesman said medical facility under construction was badly damaged. While the United States military said that the attack had been repelled, some local officials said that several militants were still holed up inside the medical facility hours later. Abdul Shukur, the governor of Bagram district, said that at least 80 civilians were wounded by the car bomb and a woman was killed.”

The Washington Post: Taliban Abduct 45 People From Gov’t Employee’s Funeral

“The Taliban abducted as many as 45 elderly family members of a late Afghan government employee who were attending his funeral, officials said Tuesday. The Taliban singled out the old men from a funeral procession carrying the deceased employee’s coffin to a graveyard, according to interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi. The young men in the group were not taken, he said. The Taliban have consistently warned people not to attend the funerals of anyone working with the Kabul government, according to Payghambarpul Khuram, the head of intelligence in Jawzjan province, where the kidnappings took place. Khuram disputed the number of people who were kidnapped, saying only six family members were taken and that other local elders were negotiating with the Taliban for their release. The Taliban did not immediately comment on the abduction. The insurgent group controls or holds sway over nearly half of Afghanistan, staging near-daily attacks that target Afghan security forces and government officials but also kill scores of civilians. A suicide car bomb attack Monday killed at lest five Afghan soldiers and wounded four others in the southern Helmand province, ministry of defense spokesman Fawad Aman said.”

Xinhua: Taliban Sets Free 8 Employees Of Afghan Election Commission: Official

“Taliban militants have set free eight employees of the election commission in the eastern Parwan province after more than two months of captivity, provincial governor's spokesperson Wahida Shahkar said Tuesday. The eight employees of the election commission, according to the official, were abducted by the armed insurgents from Shinwari district on the Presidential Election day held on Sept. 28, but were released on Monday following mediation of the elders. Afghanistan's fourth Presidential Election since the collapse of Taliban reign in 2001 with 16 candidates on the race was held amid tight security on Sept. 28, but the results have yet to be announced.”

Pakistan

Al Jazeera: Pakistan's Hafiz Saeed Indicted On 'Terror Financing'

“A Pakistani court has indicted Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) armed group and alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, on terrorism financing charges, officials say. The court ordered the government's prosecution team to summon its witnesses to pursue the case, according to a statement by prosecutor Abdur Rauf Wattoo issued following the hearing in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday. “The counterterrorism department had lodged a case against Hafiz Muhammad Saeed for illegal funding,” Watoo said. Imran Gill, Saeed's lawyer, confirmed that his client had been indicted, along with Zafar Iqbal, another official associated with Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the humanitarian arm of LeT. The next hearing in the case will be held on Thursday. Saeed, who has a $10m US government reward out for his capture, has been accused by India and the US of masterminding the 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that killed more than 160 people. LeT routinely targets Indian security forces and government targets, mainly in the disputed region of Kashmir where an armed rebellion against Indian rule has been ongoing for decades.”

Saudi Arabia

Gulf News: Al Houthi Projectiles Land In Saudi Hospital

“Yemen’s Iran-aligned Al Houthis militia had fired projectiles that fell in a hospital in the Saudi border city of Jizan, causing no casualties, a Saudi official said Wednesday. The attack, which took place late Tuesday, was the first to be reported by Saudi authorities in nearly three months. On September 14, Al Houthis claimed a drone attack on major Saudi oil installations, which Riyadh blamed on Iran. Spokesman for the Civil Defence Directorate Col Yahia Al Qahtani said Wednesday that shrapnel from the projectiles hit the hospital and nearby civilian facilities, resulting in damaging the wall of the hospital. “There were no casualties, thanks be to God,” he added, according to the official Saudi news agency.”

Lebanon

The National: Iranian Threat To ‘Flatten Tel Aviv’ From Lebanon Draws Ire In Beirut

“Top officials in Beirut reacted with outrage on Tuesday after comments by an adviser to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, threatening to attack Israel from Lebanese territory. "If Israel makes a mistake, even the smallest one, against Iran, we will flatten Tel Aviv into dirt from Lebanon," Morteza Ghorbani, a senior adviser to the IRGC Commander Hossein Salami, told Iranian media agency Mizan on Monday evening, Lebanese media said. Mr Ghorbani appeared to be referring to Israel’s arch enemy and Tehran’s main proxy in the Levant, Hezbollah.”

Middle East

Gulf News: Qatar Not Serious To End Gulf Crisis. Says Bahraini Minister

“Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa has said that Qatar is not serious about ending a long-standing rift with a Saudi-led bloc, damping expectations for an imminent end to the crisis. Qatari Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani skipped an annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that was held in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Tuesday. He sent the emirate’s Prime Minister Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Thani to head the Qatari delegation at the gathering. The Bahraini minister cited the deputisation as a sign of Qatar’s non-serious approach to the 2-1/2 dispute. “This non-seriousness was quite obvious in its dealing with the Riyadh summit,”he said in a statement released by the Bahraini Foreign Ministry late Tuesday.”

Libya

U.S. News & World Report: UN Experts: Libya Is New Focus Of Islamic State Extremists

“U.N. experts say the interference of Chadian and Sudanese fighters in Libya is “a direct threat” to the security and stability of the war-torn country, which a leader of the Islamic State extremist group has declared “one of the main axes” of its future operations. The panel of experts said in a 376-page report to the U.N. Security Council released Tuesday that the presence of the Chadians and Sudanese “has become more marked” in 2019 as a result of the intensification of the conflict in Libya. It said their continued presence as organized groups or as mercenaries “may lead to further instability.” Libya has been in turmoil since a civil war in 2011 toppled Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. In the chaos that followed, the country was divided, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country's west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter, each supported by an array of militias and foreign governments. Hifter launched a surprise military offensive April 4 aimed at capturing Tripoli despite commitments to attend a national conference weeks later aimed at forming a united government and moving toward elections.”

Nigeria

The Straits Times: Three Nigerian Security Staff Executed In ISIS-Linked Militants' Video

“Militants in north-east Nigeria have released a video showing the execution of two soldiers and a policeman, posted online late on Monday (Dec 9) by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) propaganda agency Amaq. The video, dated Sunday, was made by a branch of Boko Haram that has sworn allegiance to ISIS known as the Islamic State Group in West Africa (ISWAP). Its release came days after the militants announced the kidnapping of 14 people including two aid workers and, according to the militants, six members of the security forces. It shows three men in plain clothes kneeling in a field, introducing themselves as members of the Nigerian security forces before masked men in fatigues open fire on them shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest). “We tell the Nigerian army that we will never spare those fighting against the people who follow Allah's religion,” one of the executioners said in Hausa, a language widely spoken in the north of the country. “We will attack your bases and confront you on your routes,” the militant added, shortly before the execution. One of the three victims introduced himself as a police sergeant, saying the militants had “captured” him when he was on his way to Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's north-eastern Borno state.”

Somalia

CNN: Al-Shabaab Claims Attack On Elite Hotel In Mogadishu

“Security forces ended a deadly attack at a hotel in Somalia's capital Mogadishu on Tuesday after a seven-hour battle that left at least three civilians and two soldiers dead. The attack began when five heavily armed gunmen overpowered security guards and stormed the upscale SYL hotel, according to police and government officials. Eleven people were injured, including two members of the country's security forces, police said. The attackers, claimed by terrorist group Al-Shabaab, began shooting at responding Somali security forces, said police officer Ali Abdi. All five attackers were killed in the firefight, officials said. “The security forces have finally accomplished the operation they have been conducting in SYL hotel, the entire of the 5 attackers have been killed, (and) 5 people have been killed in the attack,” government spokesman Ismail Mukhtar tweeted early Wednesday. Dozens of people were evacuated from the hotel, he also said. The SYL is close to the presidential palace and is popular with Somali lawmakers and security officials, according to local police. Hassan Ahmed, who was in a nearby building when the attack unfolded, told CNN he heard the sound of explosions coming from inside the hotel.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Somali Security Forces Kill 5 Shabaab Fighters To End Hotel Siege

“Somali security forces shot dead five al-Shabaab gunmen, who had killed three civilians and two soldiers during an attack on a hotel near the presidential residence in Mogadishu on Tuesday night, police said early on Wednesday. Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda linked group, frequently launches bombing and gun raids in Mogadishu in a bid to topple Somalia's UN-backed government. The group confirmed last night it had attacked the SYL hotel, a popular gathering place for officials and lawmakers. The latest attack started at around 7 pm on Tuesday and ended at about 1 am on Wednesday, when all five attackers had been killed, deputy police commissioner General Zakia Hussen said in a statement on Twitter. “The security forces ended the operation. Five people including three civilians and two soldiers died in the attack,” Hussen said, according to Reuters. “Eleven others were slightly injured, including nine civilians and two soldiers,” she added. Hussen had said on Tuesday night that 82 people, including several officials, had been rescued from the SYL hotel. Security officers had initially mistook the gunmen for the police, until they began shooting and throwing grenades, another police officer said on Tuesday.”

Africa

Reuters: U.S. Imposes Sanctions On Islamist Rebels In Eastern Congo

“The United States imposed sanctions on the leader of an Islamist rebel group and five others on Tuesday for perpetrating serious human rights abuses including mass rape, torture and killings in eastern Congo, the U.S. Treasury said. Congolese officials have accused the rebel Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), who are originally from Uganda, of killing more than 100 people in a series of raids on villages over the last six weeks, hampering efforts to end an Ebola epidemic in the area. The group has been fighting in the dense jungles of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo since the mid-1990s, where it has carried out massacres, kidnappings and looting, often in collaboration with other local militias and leaders. According to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), ADF leader Musa Baluku assisted the group “through recruitment, logistics, administration, financing, intelligence, and operations coordination”. The ADF “continues to perpetuate widespread violence and innumerable human rights abuses including the abduction, recruitment, and use of children during attacks and other violent operations”. The sanctions allow the U.S. government to seize any property or accounts the fighters have in the U.S. and prohibits anyone in the U.S. from doing business with them.”

Anadolu Agency: Cameroon: 275 Killed By Boko Haram Since January

“At least 275 people were killed in the renewed attacks by Boko Haram in the Far North region of Cameroon between January and November, an international rights group said on Wednesday. In a report, Amnesty International said it conducted a two-week field research in the localities of Maroua and Mokolo in the Central African country and documented that the victims included 225 civilians. The report also documented attacks during which non-Muslims were kidnapped. Samira Daoud, Amnesty International's acting regional director for West and Central Africa, said people in the region are “living in terror” and feel “completely abandoned”.”

North Korea

The Wall Street Journal: How To Defeat Kim Jong Un

“The latest phase in the North Korean nuclear crisis is a race against time inside North Korea itself. Which will come first: nuclear breakout or economic breakdown? Washington should be moving much more forcefully to tilt the outcome in the West’s favor. On the one hand, Pyongyang presses ahead with production of nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Kim Jong Un publicly announced as much nearly two years ago, on New Year’s Day 2018. Mr. Kim successfully parlayed a temporary halt to nuclear and ICBM testing into the summitry with President Trump—with the North manufacturing more strategic weapons all the while. When Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal is sufficiently developed, Mr. Kim will likely switch back to confrontation, renewing nuclear brinkmanship, this time with the mainland U.S. at risk.”

United Kingdom

The Guardian: Islamist Extremism Remains Dominant UK Terror Threat, Say Experts

“The attack on London Bridge shows the Islamist threat remains strong in the UK, counter-terrorism and counter-extremism experts have said, warning against complacency. The murder of Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones on 29 November by Usman Khan was the first fatal Islamist terror incident in two years. The conversation around extremism and counter-terrorism has been focused on the threat from the far right in the last year following attacks including the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand, the El Paso Walmart shooting in the US and the synagogue killings in Halle, Germany. But while UK authorities have warned the far right is the fastest growing threat, Islamist extremism remains the dominant form. On Monday night, a man was arrested in the Bristol suburb of Clifton on suspicion of Islamist-related terrorism offences. The 33-year-old was held on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism, Avon and Somerset police said. They added it was not linked to the London Bridge attack. Charlie Winter, senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence, at King’s College London, said: “As far as I’m concerned, the threat didn’t go away – if anything, having been defeated in Baghouz [in Syria] earlier this year, the Islamic State’s appetite for terror attacks in the UK is greater now than it’s ever been.”

Germany 

The Jerusalem Post: US Envoy Urges Germany: Don’t Fund Iranian Terrorism

“The most high-level US ambassador in Europe, Richard Grenell, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Germany’s government should join the United States and work to stop Iranian regime support for terrorism in response to a German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce event in Berlin. “The economy is strained because the Iranian regime is funneling its resources to terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Syria,” Grenell said. “We will continue to explain to our partners that we should work together to end Iranian support for terrorism – not find ways to give the regime more resources.”

Europe

Reuters: 14 Bulgarians Sentenced For Supporting Islamic State

“A Bulgarian court on Tuesday sentenced radical imam Ahmed Mussa and 13 other Bulgarians for propagating religious hatred and incitement to war in their support for the Islamic State militant group. The trial against Mussa and his supporters began in 2016 following an investigation into suspected sympathizers of Islamic State in southern Bulgaria. Mussa, already serving four years in jail for spreading radical Islam, was sentenced by the regional court in the southern city of Pazardzhik to 8-and-1/2 years. His supporters, men from the southern towns of Plovdiv, Pazardzhik and Asenovgrad, received jail sentences of between one and 3-and-1/2 years. The only woman in the group got a suspended sentence. In late 2014, following raids in more than 40 homes and a mosque in southern Bulgaria, investigators discovered a large number of shirts, hats, flags and banners with the logo of the Islamic State. Prosecutors have said that Mussa, a former Christian of Roma origin who converted to Islam in 2000 while working in Vienna, had preached surrounded by the Islamic State flags. His group had attempted to recruit fighters for the militant group which had at the time seized parts of Syria and Iraq. Bulgaria supported the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State but has not taken an active military role.”

NPR: Why European Countries Are Reluctant To Repatriate Citizens Who Are ISIS Fighters

“President Trump is continuing to put pressure on European governments to repatriate their ISIS fighters, who the Pentagon says are being held in “pop-up prisons” in northeastern Syria. “Would you like some nice ISIS fighters?” Trump asked French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of last week's NATO leaders meeting in London. “I can give them to you.” To which Macron replied, “Let's be serious.” The awkward exchange between the two world leaders was emblematic of the wider issue at hand. The Trump administration wants Europe to take back its terrorist fighters, but European leaders have brushed away the idea. Trump previously threatened to drop “thousands” of ISIS fighters into Europe should the various countries continue to shy away from taking them back. “We're holding thousands of ISIS fighters right now, and Europe has to take them,” he told reporters in August. “If Europe doesn't take them, I'll have no choice but to release them into the countries from which they came, which is Germany and France and other places.” The Pentagon earlier this year reported that an estimated 10,000 ISIS fighters are being held in prison facilities scattered across northeastern Syria.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Albanian Man Repatriated From Syria Charged With Terror

“Kosovo prosecutors on Tuesday filed terrorism charges against an ethnic Albanian man who is accused of joining the ISIS terror group in Syria. Prosecutors said in a statement that the man, identified as V.Q., joined ISIS in June 2014 together with another person who was later killed. The statement said V.Q. went to Syria using illegal passages through neighboring North Macedonia, Bulgaria and Turkey. Once in Syria, he joined ISIS forces as a nurse in its military hospitals. Prosecutors say he posted propaganda videos on the internet that show him in military garb with a weapon and an explosives belt. He also forced his 3-year-old son to appear in the video with an explosives belt and a Kalashnikov rifle and told him to shoot. The defendant was arrested in December 2017 and was among 110 Kosovo citizens repatriated from Syria in April, reported The Associated Press. The defendant is accused of joining a terror group and of child’s maltreatment. If convicted, he could face between five and 15 years imprisonment. Kosovo authorities say 30 of the country's citizens are still actively supporting terror groups in Syria.”

The National: Swedish Islamic School Closed Over Radicalisation Fears

“A leading Islamic school in Sweden accused of appointing teachers who had recently returned from fighting for ISIS abroad has been shut down amid fears students were at risk of being radicalised. Abdel Nasser El Nadi, former principal of Vetenskapsskolan school in Gothenburg, was allegedly involved in transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars to bank accounts abroad. El Nadi was arrested in May by Swedish police along with four other clerics who were considered security threats. A new administration took over and changed its name to the Sapphire School but officials said problems persisted. El Nadi was born in Egypt but has lived in Sweden since 1992 and has twice had Swedish citizenship applications turned down. It was found that the 450 pupils at the school were still at risk of being “subjected to radicalisation and recruitment to environments that accept violence or serious crime as a method of political change”. “We have made an assessment that the new owner does not take a completely independent position with the previous owner,” said the school inspectorate’s lawyer, Johan Kylenfelt. It was claimed that one member of the school’s new board had shared ISIS propaganda online.”

Daily Mail: Two Terrorist Sympathizers Face Prison After Spreading Sermons From Jailed Islamist Preacher Abdullah El-Faisal Dubbed The 'Sheikh Of Hate'

“Two terrorist sympathizers are facing jail for spreading the hate speeches of a convicted Islamist preacher. Mohammed Kamali, 31, and Mohammed Abdul Ahad, 38, published sermons given by notorious terror recruiter Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal. The speeches 'glorified' terrorist organisations including Al-Qaeda and ISIS and 'encouraged' listeners to commit or prepare for acts of terrorism, the court heard. El-Faisal, now 56, claimed he was reflecting the words of the Koran but the 'Sheikh of Hate' was convicted of three charges of soliciting to murder and jailed for nine years in 2003.”