Eye on Extremism: December 12, 2019

Reuters: Jihadists Kill 71 Soldiers In Mass Attack: Niger Military

“Islamist militants killed 71 soldiers in an attack on a remote military camp in Niger near the border with Mali, an army spokesman said on Wednesday, in the deadliest raid against the Nigerien military in living memory. Jihadists with links to Islamic State and al Qaeda have mounted increasingly lethal attacks across West Africa’s Sahel region this year despite the commitment of thousands of regional and foreign troops to counter them. The violence has hit Mali and Burkina Faso the hardest, rendering large swathes of those countries ungovernable, but it has also spilled into Niger, which shares long and porous borders with its two neighbors. Several hundred militants attacked a base in the western Niger town of Inates over a period of three hours on Tuesday evening, army spokesman Colonel Boubacar Hassan said on state television. It was in the same area where Islamic State’s West African branch killed nearly 50 Nigerien soldiers in two attacks in May and July. “The combat (was) of a rare violence, combining artillery shells and the use of kamikaze vehicles by the enemy,” he said. He added that another 12 soldiers were wounded and an unspecified number of others were missing, while a “significant number” of militants were also killed.”

The New York Times: Suspect In Jersey City Linked To Black Hebrew Israelite Group

“An assailant involved in the prolonged firefight in Jersey City, N.J., that left six people dead, including one police officer, was linked on Wednesday to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, and had published anti-Semitic posts online, a law enforcement official said. The violent rampage on Tuesday took place largely at a kosher supermarket where three bystanders were killed. The authorities now believe that the store was specifically targeted by the assailants, whom they identified as David N. Anderson, 47, and Francine Graham, 50. Mr. Anderson appeared to have a connection to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement, though the extent of his involvement in that group remains unclear, the law enforcement official said.”

Reuters: Iran-Backed Attacks In Iraq Risks Uncontrollable Escalation - U.S. Official

“A senior U.S. military official said on Wednesday attacks by Iranian-backed groups on bases hosting U.S. forces in Iraq were gathering pace and becoming more sophisticated, pushing all sides closer to an uncontrollable escalation. His warning came two days after four Katyusha rockets struck a base near Baghdad international airport, wounding five members of Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service. It was the latest in a spate of rocket strikes in the past five weeks on military installations hosting members of the U.S.-led coalition whose objective is to defeat Islamic State insurgents. The official said the attacks were jeopardizing the coalition’s ability to combat Islamic State insurgents. Tension between the United States and Iran has ramped up in the region over U.S. economic sanctions that are hitting Tehran hard. The two sides have traded blame over attacks on oil installations, militia arms depots as well as military bases hosting U.S. forces. “We’re used to harassing fire,” said the military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But the pace of (that) was (previously) pretty episodic ... (Now) the level of complexity is increasing, the volume of rockets being shot in a single volley is increasing and is very concerning to us.”

The Washington Post: Denmark: Police Foil Suspected Islamist Terror Attack Plans 

“Danish police have arrested “some 20 people” suspected of involvement in Islamist terrorism in a series of raids across the country, authorities said Wednesday. Flemming Drejer, the operative head of the Denmark’s Security and Intelligence Service, said the suspects were “driven by a militant, Islamist motive.” Copenhagen Police Chief Inspector Joergen Bergen Skov said some of them would be charged under the Scandinavian country’s terror laws on Thursday behind closed doors. “Some had have procured things to make explosives and have tried to acquire weapons,” Bergen Skov told a joint press conference with the domestic intelligence service. Drejer, the intelligence chief, said the arrests won’t change Denmark’s terror threat assessment, which “remains serious.” “We look with great severity on a case like this one because it unfortunately confirms that there are people that have the intention and capacity to commit terror (attacks) in Denmark,” Drejer said. Bergen Skov said police raided about 20 addresses in Denmark and six police departments across the country were involved. The raids and arrests were coordinated by the Copenhagen police. No details were given as to what the target was or when an attack would take place.”

The New York Times: Dallas Man Gets 30 Years For Recruiting For ISIS Through App

“A Dallas man who prosecutors said tried to recruit fighters for the Islamic State through social media, encouraged others to carry out terrorist attacks and lied to federal agents was sentenced on Wednesday to 30 years in prison. The man, Said Azzam Mohamad Rahim, was arrested at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in March 2017 while trying to board a flight to Jordan, according to prosecutors. During his trial in May 2019, prosecutors said Mr. Rahim, 42, used a messaging app called Zello to try to recruit the fighters and tell others to kill enemies of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.”

Independent: Prison Unit Holding Britain’s Most Dangerous Terrorists Closed Four Days After London Bridge Attack

“A prison unit for Britain’s most dangerous terrorists was closed four days after the London Bridge attack, sparking accusations the prison service is “dysfunctional and naive”. The separation centre at HMP Woodhill is one of three set up to hold Islamists who are feared to be radicalising other inmates, but it has been empty since last Tuesday after three prisoners were moved out. The Ministry of Justice insisted the closure was temporary and said the capacity was not currently needed, but a former prison governor who led a review of Islamist extremism in British jails said the centre had not been used properly.”

United States

The New York Times: With Rise Of Far-Right Extremists, N.Y.P.D. Creates Special Unit

“For almost two decades, the intelligence bureau of the New York Police Department has built a security apparatus designed to track international terror groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. Now, the department is aiming those resources at a different target: far-right and extremist hate groups. Police officials say they have formed a new unit within the department’s intelligence bureau, known as “Racially and Ethnically Motivated Extremism,” or “R.E.M.E,” that will be primarily dedicated to investigating terror threats from far-right and neo-Nazi organizations, including groups like the Atomwaffen Division and The Proud Boys. The unit became operational early this month, and already has dozens of open investigations, police officials said. John Miller, the commissioner of the intelligence division, said the far-right extremist groups are not that different in nature from Islamic extremist groups like Al Qaeda. “There’s no different recipe except our offenders are likely to be on the ground here,” he said in an interview. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the unit’s creation on Wednesday at City Hall, just a day after a gun battle in Jersey City, during which two people with guns opened fire at two different locations, including a kosher supermarket, killing three bystanders and a Jersey City detective. “What we saw yesterday was a premeditated, violent, anti-Semitic hate crime,” Mr. de Blasio said.”

The Wall Street Journal: Florida Base Shooter’s Social Media Reflects Radical Views

“The Saudi air force member who shot dead three people last week on a naval base in Florida expressed extreme political views on Twitter in posts dating back to 2015, according to excerpts of an internal Saudi government report. Saudi officials said the messages believed sent by the shooter reflect a radical world view, but said there was no evidence that he had any links to extremist organizations. Screenshots of posts reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show the shooter retweeting messages critical of Israel and the U.S., including one aimed at President Trump related to Syrian oil. Mohammed Alshamrani, the man identified as the shooter in the attack at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday, had been active on Twitter since 2012, the report said, when he was 14 years old. At the time, he mainly focused on poetry and the Quran. The Saudi report said that Alshamrani began forming radical views after 2015, when he started following some religious figures who the Saudi government has characterized as hard-liners. They include Saudis Abdulaziz Al-Tarifi and Ibrahim Al-Sakran, along with Kuwaiti and Jordanian clerics. The two Saudi men were jailed in 2016. The tweets reflected polemical views on the part of the shooter, said Abdullah bin Khaled Al Saud, the director of research at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, a Saudi scholarly institute.”

Fox News: Dallas Man Gets 30 Years In Prison After Calling On Slaughter Of ‘Infidels’ For ISIS

“A Texas man who railed against “infidels” in his support of ISIS, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison for promoting the group online and lying to investigators, prosecutors said. Said Azzam Mohamad Rahim, a U.S. citizen living in the Dallas area, was convicted in May on eight counts related to social media and supporting terrorism. He could have been sentenced to up to 88 years in federal prison. “Mr. Rahim embraced a warped ideology on social media, promoting violence against innocent people, including Americans,” U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox said in a prepared statement. “The Justice Department is committed to combatting terror at home and abroad.” Evidence presented during his trial showed Rahim, 42, moderated a social media channel dedicated to recruiting fighters for ISIS. He is said to have used a push-to-talk direct messaging application to promote violence in the name of the terrorist group. In those messages, Rahim urged his followers to “kill and do not consult anyone. Kill by any means,” prosecutors said. Rahim was arrested in 2017 at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport while trying to board a flight to Amman, Jordan, prosecutors said. When questioned by officers, Rahim denied supporting terrorism or promoting such violence, they said.”

The Wall Street Journal: Anti-Semitism, Real And Imagined

“Tuesday’s murder of three people in a kosher grocery store in Jersey City, New Jersey, now appears to have been an anti-Semitic attack, with the mayor saying the suspects targeted the market frequented by Hasidic Jews. The police shootout began “with an attack on civilians in the store,” according to the city’s director of public safety. News reports say one of the alleged shooters may have been a member of the conspiratorial Black Hebrew Israelites and had anti-Semitic social-media posts. If anti-Semitism is confirmed as the motive, this would be the deadliest such attack in the U.S. since a white supremacist murdered 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue last year.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Final Defendant In St. Louis Terrorism Case Pleads Guilty

“A New York man pleaded guilty in federal court here this week to supplying money and equipment to a former St. Louis County man who fought and died in Syria for the Islamic State, prosecutors said. Nihad Rosic, 31, of Utica, also tried to travel to Syria himself, officials said. Rosic pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to one count of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and one count of providing material support to terrorists.”

Syria

The National: The West Needs To Find A Way To Absorb ISIS Foreign Fighters – For Their Own Sake

“Western policy in the Middle East is often maddening. It is at times amoral, failing to adhere to the standards that liberal democracies set for themselves. It is inconsistent, finding cause to invade where none exist, then shirking its responsibility to protect when the need is dire and mass slaughter is at hand. It can also be cowardly, as amply demonstrated by the case of the ISIS foreign fighters still alive and imprisoned in Syria. Western policy in Syria provides ample ground for frustration and disappointment, but among its most rage-inducing aspects is the failure to take responsibility for and pick up its own trash – the radical extremists who were born in and left London, Paris, Berlin, Oslo, Brussels, Copenhagen and North America to live out their nihilistic fantasies over the graves of the traumatised peoples of the Middle East in Syria and Iraq. The latest analysis by the British government estimates that 30 Britons are among some 2,000 ISIS foreign fighters still detained in north-eastern Syria by Kurdish militias – the forces that fought alongside the US and liberated much of that part of Syria, including the terrorists’ self-proclaimed capital in Raqqa.”

Express: ISIS Stoned Teacher To Death For ‘Refusing To Teach Jihad’ To Young Children In Syria

“Teachers forced to work in ISIS schools were instructed to focus on versus of the Koran that focused on war and murder. One woman, named only as Ayat, said she tried to teach children in her home in eastern Syria after ISIS “closed the schools and turned them into training centres for fighters”. But terror chiefs found out about the 27-year-old's scheme after the mother of one pupil “talked too much”, Al Jazeera reported. In the Al Jazeera documentary, ‘Women of ISIL' the woman explained: “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.” Another woman in ISIS’ control had refused to teach children the prescribed curriculum and instead allowed her students to draw and sing children's songs. The next day, the teacher was arrested at her home. In the Al Jazeera documentary Ayat said: “She was accused of adultery. “And for this, the punishment was stoning until death. “They take the person to a specific place and they implement the punishment. “And that is exactly what they did with her.”

The Washington Post: The United States Is About To Sanction Assad, Russia And Iran For Syrian War Crimes

“More than three years after it was first introduced, landmark legislation that would provide for U.S. sanctions against the Assad regime, Russia and Iran for past and ongoing war crimes in Syria is on the verge of finally passing in Congress. Expected to become law, the “Caesar Bill” could offer not only for some justice and accountability for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s victims — it could also give the United States leverage in seeking a political solution to the Syrian war. President Trump is expected to sign the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 after Congress passes it, as early as this week. With bipartisan and bicameral agreement, Congress added to it the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, which authorizes sanctions on top Syrian government officials, military leaders and anyone else responsible for more than eight years of Assad’s mass atrocities, war crimes against innocent civilians and crimes against humanity.”

Military Times: Congress Is Worried About An Iranian Threat To A Small Garrison Of US Commandos In Syria

“Congress wants a report from the intelligence community and the Pentagon about the threat posed by Iran and its militias to a small garrison of special operators near the Iraq-Syria border known as al-Tanf. Al-Tanf houses a handful of American commandos who are tasked with training an anti-ISIS force dubbed Maghaweir Thowra. But national security experts have oft argued the garrison’s existence is meant to check Iranian influence and block a highway that could push arms from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea. Located in a remote desert outpost in southern Syria near the Jordanian border, al-Tanf is far removed from the majority of the anti-ISIS fight raging in northern Syria — instead it’s been the scene of deadly clashes between U.S. forces and Iranian and Syrian regime backed militias.”

Iran

Reuters: U.S. Imposes New Sanctions On Iran Airline Over Proliferation

“The United States on Wednesday imposed new sanctions on Iran’s biggest airline and its shipping network, accusing them of transporting lethal aid and weapons of mass destruction proliferation. The new sanctions come just days after a weekend prisoner swap between the historic foes, a rare act of cooperation since tensions escalated after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord. The U.S. State Department targeted Shanghai-based ESAIL Shipping Company, which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “knowingly transports illicit materials from Iran’s Aerospace Industries Organization, which oversees all of Iran’s missile industry” and has worked with Iranian organizations subject to U.N. sanctions.”

Washington Examiner: Shooting His Mouth Off, Iranian Official Admits The Truth About Lebanon 

“With telling embarrassment, Iran is rowing back comments made by an adviser to the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The problem? The adviser inadvertently admitted that Iran values Lebanon only as its puppet. Speaking on Monday, retired Gen. Morteza Qorbani told an Iranian news outlet that Iran did not need to use ballistic missiles in Iran to effectively attack Israel. Instead, Qorbani said, if "the Zionist regime makes the smallest mistake toward Iran, we will reduce Tel Aviv to ashes from Lebanon.”

Iraq

Asia Times: ISIS And The False Dawn Of Kurdish Statehood

“History is often full of strange ironies. Decades from now, the rise and fall of ISIS will probably be remembered in the same breath as the rise and fall of Kurdish hopes of statehood. That Kurdish aspirations of independence in Syria and Iraq should have suffered the same fate as ISIS is, of course, an irony of tragic proportions for the Kurds. Let’s be clear: From the perspective of Kurdish nationalism there is certainly nothing to regret about the demise of ISIS. But what happened after the territorial defeat of the so-called caliphate – first in Iraq with the fall of Mosul and later in Syria with the fall of Raqqa – did not produce the strategic results the Kurds expected. During their heroic struggle against an ascendant ISIS between 2014 and 2017, Western support for the Kurds was total. But once ISIS was gone, that support turned into cold betrayal, as the US and Europe stood by and watched Ankara go after the Kurds in Syria this year while Baghdad did the same in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2017. Perhaps the Kurds should have known better; after all, their history is littered with such betrayals. But it is also clear they had no better alternative. The rise of ISIS presented an existential threat as well as a strategic opportunity for Kurds.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Anniversary Of Victory Over ISIS Unites Iraq Politicians, Protesters

“The last 60 days, especially since October 1, have changed the political landscape in Iraq. Partisan supremacies that held the reigns of the country for 16 years and manipulated elections have been confronted with a different reality. Iraqi youth ignited the street with anti-government protests rejecting all changes introduced in the country after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003. As protests persisted, amid a crackdown by security forces that left more than 400 dead and 20,000 wounded, the vast majority of whom are members of the poorest Shiite classes, the gap between demonstrators and politicians widened. But for the first time in nearly two months, politicians and protesters shared a celebration on Tuesday. Three years ago, in 2017, former Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi declared military victory over ISIS. To celebrate the anniversary, Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced December 10 would be a national holiday. Differences aside, protesters and politicians celebrated the victory each in their own way. Demonstrators celebrated in the streets, while politicians expressed their feelings through the cables of congratulations they gave out on this occasion. Iraqi President Barham Salih, in a speech, expressed his joy in victory on the one hand and his concern about selecting the next head of government on the other.”

Afghanistan

CBS News: Scores Wounded In Attack Near U.S. Bagram Air Base In Afghanistan

“A powerful suicide bombing targeted an under-construction medical facility on Wednesday near Bagram Air Base, the main American base north of the Afghan capital, the U.S. military said. Two civilians were killed and more than 70 people wounded. The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack and Afghan officials said all the insurgents were killed. The Bagram airfield was not in danger, said Colonel Sonny Leggett. The facility is being rebuilt to help the Afghan people who live in the area, the U.S. military said. The Taliban statement denied any civilian casualties and claimed the attackers had managed to enter the Bagram base, even penetrating barracks used by coalition forces. Outside the sprawling base, several homes, mostly belonging to poor Afghans, were destroyed. A large mosque in the area was also badly damaged. Shortly after the bombing, Afghan troops, special forces and intelligence officers cordoned off the perimeter of the base with armored personnel carriers. Heavily armed soldiers kept residents far from the gates to Bagram Air Base. Within minutes of the suicide bombing, U.S. fighter aircraft bombed the area, according to witnesses.”

Pakistan

Voice Of America: Pakistan Court Indicts Anti-India Islamist Cleric

“An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Wednesday indicted Hafiz Saeed, the suspected planner of the 2008 attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai, along with his four senior aides on terror financing charges. Saeed, the founder of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group and the head of its banned charity wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), has been designated as a global terrorist by the United States for his alleged role in the Mumbai strikes that killed more than 170 people. The Islamist cleric was present in the court in the eastern city of Lahore when the charges against him and his partners were read. The court will conduct the next proceedings on Thursday. Saeed and his associates rejected as baseless the prosecution's charges that they were using JuD charities and trusts to raise funds to finance terrorism. Saeed has also consistently denied his involvement in the Mumbai attacks. Indian authorities accuse him and his LeT of planning and executing the carnage. The Islamist cleric maintains he had ended his association with LeT before it was outlawed by the Pakistani government in 2002. Washington has placed both LeT and JuD on its list of global terrorist groups, offering $10 million for information that would help bring Saeed to justice.”

Saudi Arabia

Haaretz: Saudi Arabia Says Houthi Rockets Targeted Hospital In Southern City

“Rockets fired by Yemen's Houthi rebels have targeted a hospital in the south-western city of Jazan but no one was injured, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday. The Houthis fired Katyusha rockets late Tuesday targeting a hospital and other civilian facilities nearby, spokesman of Jazan's civil defense department said, according to SPA. The attack left no casualties but damaged the walls surrounding the hospital, it added. Several missile and drone attacks into neighbouring Saudi Arabia in recent months were claimed by the Houthis, which they say are a response to attacks by the Saudi-led coalition fighting them since March 2015.”

Arab News: Why Saudi Reforms Are Bad News For The World’s Terrorists 

“Terrorism, extremism and radicalism will decline as long as Saudi Arabia’s drive toward reform succeeds. If it does not, the West will suffer. Who says so? Norman T. Roule says so — and he should know. A 34-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, Roule is now one of the world’s most respected analysts of Middle East affairs. “It’s in our interest (for the Kingdom to succeed) because of terrorism and extremism, but not just because of that,” he said. “There are millions in the region, in the states of Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, who require assistance and a better life. This is something the region has to lead with Western support.”

Lebanon

Associated Press: Diplomats To Lebanon: Expect No Aid Before Government Formed

“Lebanon cannot expect to receive international aid for its battered economy until a new government undertakes serious reforms, diplomats decided at a closed-door meeting in Paris on Wednesday. The international group, led by France and the United Nations, met to discuss conditions for helping ease turmoil in Lebanon, which is facing its worst financial crisis in decades and political uncertainty amid an ongoing protest movement. Lebanese businesses and households are growing increasingly desperate as cash supplies there have dwindled.”

Egypt

Associated Press: Egypt Urges Decisive Action Against States Backing ‘Terror’

“Egypt’s president Wednesday called for “decisive” and “collective” action against countries supporting “terrorism” in an apparent reference to Turkey and Qatar, who back the Muslim Brotherhood group, which is outlawed in Egypt. The three countries also support opposing factions in the war-torn Libya. Addressing a two-day forum on peace in Africa in the southern city of Aswan, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi also said achieving sustainable development in Africa is needed, along with efforts to fight militant groups in Egypt and the Sahel region that stretches across Africa south of the Sahara Desert. “There should be a decisive response to countries supporting terrorism and a collective response against terrorism, because the terrorist groups will only have the ability to fight if they are provided with financial, military and moral support,” he said. The gathering in Aswan was attended by the leaders of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal along with officials from the U.S., Britain and Canada. The Sahel region is home to al-Qaida and Islamic State group-linked militants. El-Sissi said Egypt could help train forces and provide weapons to countries in the region to fight extremists. Egypt has for years been battling an Islamic State-led insurgency that intensified after the military overthrew an elected but divisive President Muhammad Morsi in 2013, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, amid mass protests against his brief rule.”

Nigeria

Sahara Reporters: Air Force Targets, Kills Boko Haram Fighters In Borno

“The Nigerian Air Force said it has launched operation ‘Rattle Snake’ in its bid to continue neutralising Boko Haram insurgents. NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, made this known in a statement on Wednesday. Daramola noted that the operation was already yielding the intended outcome. He said, “On day one of the operations, airstrikes by NAF aircraft resulted in the neutralisation of several Boko Haram terrorists and destruction of some of their structures at their tactical headquarters in Parisu as well as another settlement, Garin Maloma, both on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.” According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the attacks were executed following series of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions that showed the presence of a significant number of insurgents in makeshift structures/buildings under trees spread across the two settlements. Daramola added, “Overhead Parisu, no fewer than 30 terrorists were observed by the ISR aircraft in different parts of the settlement. “The attack aircraft dispatched by the ATF to engage the location recorded accurate hits within the target area, leading to the destruction of some of the structures as well as the killing of several terrorists.”

Premium Times: Army Says Video Of Boko Haram Killing Soldiers Fabricated By IPOB  

“The Nigerian Army says the recent video clip allegedly released by Boko Haram terrorists portraying capture and killing of some Nigerian soldiers was the fabrication of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Sagir Musa, in a statement on Wednesday said that the video was not an occurrence that took place in Nigeria. He urged the public and personnel of Nigerian army, especially those in the North East theatre of operation, to disregard the video.”

Somalia

Foreign Policy: U.S. Bureaucratic Blunder Could Cost Somalia Desperately Needed Debt Relief 

“An international push to secure sorely needed debt relief for Somalia may be derailed because of a bureaucratic blunder in Washington, undercutting long-standing efforts to stabilize one of Africa’s least developed and most conflict-plagued countries. The issue has so alarmed some U.S. officials that the U.S. ambassador to the East African country is quietly considering resigning if it isn’t resolved, current and former officials tell Foreign Policy The United States spends around half a billion dollars per year in aid and development to help prop up Somalia’s fragile government as it grapples with violence from terrorist groups and chronic instability. Despite the challenges, the new Somali government under Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire has, with U.S. backing, pushed through a number of difficult and unpopular reforms to align the government with international standards on financial governance and transparency. The reforms have given Somalia a chance to receive debt relief by the spring of 2020 under a program run by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank called the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Initiative. Such a move would unblock Somalia’s access to sorely needed international financial assistance, a key to helping the country boost its laggard economic growth and stabilize its federal institutions.”

Africa

The Guardian: Sudan Will Never Prosper While It Is On The US Terrorism Blacklist

“Over the past year, the Sudanese people have staged a near miraculous revolution, overthrowing the 30-year dictatorship of President Omar al-Bashir. Following mediation led by the African Union and Ethiopia, a transitional government consisting of civilians and military generals is headed by Abdalla Hamdok, a veteran economist untainted by the decades of corruption and misrule. It is the best compromise: the army, and especially the paramilitary Rapid Support Force, are simply too powerful to be removed from politics in one fell swoop. At the UN general assembly in September, and last week in Washington DC, Hamdok made a series of good-faith policy pledges to return Sudan to the club of respectable nations. Hamdok is charged with the gargantuan task of steering Sudan out of crisis and into a period of economic stability and growth. But what brought the first demonstrators on to the streets a year ago was rampant inflation and the collapse of the wage-earning economy: ordinary people simply couldn’t afford to buy bread or fuel. That hasn’t changed. The economy remains on the slide towards hyperinflation and the people towards possible famine.”

Xinhua: African Leaders Highlight Importance Of Combating Terror To Achieve Development

“African leaders and international representatives highlighted on Wednesday the importance of promoting security and combating terrorism as main factors for achieving development across the continent. The remarks came during the inauguration of a two-day Sustainable Peace, Security and Development in Africa forum held in the upper Egyptian city of Aswan. The forum in Aswan mainly focuses on post-conflict reconstruction, education, climate change and sustainable development in Africa. At the inauguration, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called for “decisive and collective action against countries supporting terrorism around the world.” In his speech, he said various African countries are impacted by terrorist violence, naming the Sahel region, the Horn of Africa region and parts of North Africa as the most affected regions in Africa. Other leaders including presidents of Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Senegal and officials from the United States, Britain, the United Nations attended the forum. “There is no substitute for combating terrorism in African countries,” said Senegalese President Macky Sall during the first session of the forum titled “Africa We Want: Sustaining Peace, Security and Development.”

The Wall Street Journal: Dozens Of Soldiers Killed In Attack On Military Base In Niger

“Hundreds of jihadists on motorbikes and pickup trucks killed more than 70 soldiers in an attack on a military base in western Niger, the deadliest single Islamist attack on a country the West has cultivated as a bulwark against rising militancy across the Sahel. The militants launched a three-hour assault on the camp on Wednesday in the town of Inates in the Tillaberi region, a military spokesman said. The strike, located close to the 2017 ambush that killed four U.S. service members in the town of Tongo Tongo, began with a series of vehicle-borne bombs that punctured the base’s defenses then militants swarmed the facility, security officials said.”

North Korea

The New York Times: After North Korea Hints At New Policy, U.S. Warns Against More Missile Tests

“The United States is prepared to take “simultaneous steps” with North Korea to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula, the American ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday, but she also warned the North Koreans against conducting further missile tests. The ambassador, Kelly Craft, made the remarks during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which was called at her request over worries that North Korea could soon resume testing of its long-range missiles or perhaps even nuclear weapons, which it halted in 2017.”

France

The National: French Senator Warns Of ISIS Attack Over Monitoring Failings On Anniversary Of Strasbourg Atrocity

“A major European counterterrorism politician has warned that France’s monitoring of extremists is still failing a year after a terror attack in Strasbourg. ISIS extremist Cherif Chekatt killed five people and wounded 11 others during a shooting and stabbing spree at Strasbourg’s Christmas market a year ago. He had been on a terror watchlist, known as Fiche S, when he committed the atrocity and is believed to have become radicalised in prison. It has raised questions over the effectiveness of the scheme. Now French senator Nathalie Goulet is warning more attacks are likely as the country’s monitoring systems are failing. There are believed to be 20,000 people on the list, 12,000 for suspected Islamist radical behaviour, however only a dozen are thought to be under 24-hour surveillance. It comes as hundreds of convicted terrorists are expected to finish their prison sentences shortly and France is one of a number of European countries awaiting the return of ISIS fighters being sent back from Syria. “We still have a lot to do a year on from the attack,” she said. “In France we have a serious problem and we need to do more to prevent extremists from acting. As it stands there will be more attacks.”

Germany 

Express: Germany Christmas Market Terror Warning: How Safe Are German Markets In December?

“Germany is renowned for its stunning Christmas markets, emulated around the world every festive season. For travellers wanting the authentic experience jetting off to Germany for a December holiday is ideal. However, in recent years there has been an increase in targeted terror attacks, with the 2016 Berlin attack taking 12 lives. Holidaymakers ‘so angry’ as P&O cancel luxury Christmas cruise. In order to allow tourists to still celebrate the season and enjoy markets, the FCO put out a terror warning offering advise and indicating the threat level. Travellers should not be put off these beautiful markets, though following the advice of authorities is recommended. What is the most recent advice from the FCO? The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recently updated its terror warning to coincide with the popular Christmas Market period. Officials have similarly updated other locations across Europe where markets are popular. According to the FCO: “There is a general threat from terrorism. There may be increased security in place over the festive period, including at Christmas markets and other major events that might attract large crowds. “You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities.”

Europe

Reuters: New Finland Leader: 'Silent Blessing' Given To Bring Home Islamic State Kids

“Finland’s new prime minister said on Wednesday the center-left coalition government had given its “silent blessing” to the Foreign Minister to go ahead with plans to repatriate children of women who traveled to Syria to join Islamic State. The remarks by Prime Minister Sanna Marin, a day after she took office, could set the stage for a conflict within her five member center-left coalition, which has yet to agree a position on the issue of repatriations. The coalition’s second biggest party, the Centre Party, which toppled Marin’s predecessor last week, has so far withheld support for the Foreign Ministry’s plans. Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said he had nominated a special envoy to look into how more than 30 Finnish children currently trapped at the Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria could be brought home. “(Our) guidelines include the idea that at least the children could be brought to safety from the camp within a reasonable timeframe,” Haavisto told reporters, adding that it was not clear how quickly that could take place. The Red Cross says around 68,000 people are being held in Al-Hol, mostly the family members of defeated Islamic State fighters, two thirds of them children. Finland is one of many EU countries trying to decide what to do about their citizens.”

U.S. News & World Report: Danish Police Arrest 20 People In Counter-Terrorism Raids

“Police arrested about 20 people on Wednesday, some of whom they suspected of planning a militant attack, after carrying out raids throughout Denmark on Wednesday, police said. "It is our assessment, that those people are driven by a militant, Islamist motive," operational chief of the intelligence service, Flemming Drejer, told a news conference.”

Technology

Forbes: Youtube Bans Insults Based On Race, Gender And Sexual Orientation—But Is Met With Skepticism

“YouTube tightened its harassment policy on Wednesday to bar “veiled or implied threats” and malicious insults based on someone’s race, gender or sexual orientation—but the move was met with skepticism from prominent creators who doubt the company’s ability to enforce the new rules. The updated harassment policy now bans “veiled or implied threats,” not just explicit ones as the previous guidelines did, said Matt Halprin, YouTube’s vice president and global head of trust and safety, in a blog post.”