Eye on Extremism: December 13

The New York Times: Jersey City Shooting Was ‘Domestic Terrorism,’ Officials Say

“The deadly rampage that ended with one police officer slain and three bystanders killed at a kosher market in New Jersey is now being treated as an act of domestic terrorism, the authorities said on Thursday. Investigators believe the two attackers were “fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs,” New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, told reporters at a news conference. As a result of the evidence so far, the F.B.I. was investigating the violence as “a domestic terrorism incident with a hate crime bias,” said Gregory W. Ehrie, the special agent in charge of the bureau’s office in Newark. After initially calling the attack on the JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City on Tuesday a random act, investigators said that the store had been deliberately targeted but did not explicitly say it was motivated by anti-Semitism. Even as it emerged that one of the two attackers, David N. Anderson, had published anti-Semitic posts online and had ties to a movement that has expressed hostility toward Jews, federal and state authorities shied away from calling the assault a bias crime. While other officials demurred, the mayor of Jersey City, Steven Fulop, explicitly called the attack a “hate crime” on Wednesday night.”

France 24: IS Claims Responsibility For Niger Attack Which Killed 71: SITE

“The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on an army camp in Niger which left 71 military personnel dead, the SITE intelligence group said Thursday. Hundreds of jihadists attacked the camp, near the border with Mali with shells and mortars on Tuesday, killing 71, injuring 122 and leaving "others missing," according to the defence ministry. The attack in Inates in the western Tillaberi region was the deadliest on Niger's military since Islamist militant violence began to spill over from neighbouring Mali in 2015. "The Islamic State's West Africa Province (ISWAP) claimed credit for the deadly raid on the Inates military base in Niger," SITE, which monitors jihadist media, said in a statement Thursday. It added that ISWAP claimed it had killed "over a hundred soldiers". The attack was carried out by "heavily armed terrorists estimated to number many hundreds", the defence ministry said Wednesday, adding that "a substantial number of terrorists were neutralised". The fighting lasted three hours, combining shelling and artillery fire with "the use of kamikaze vehicles by the enemy".”

NBC News: U.S. Envoy To Afghanistan Announces 'Pause' In Taliban Peace Talks After Attack On Air Base

“The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan said Thursday he was outraged by a Taliban attack near Bagram airfield this week, and “we’re taking a brief pause,” apparently in reference to peace talks that had recently resumed with the militant group. “When I met the Talibs today, I expressed outrage about yesterday’s attack on Bagram, which recklessly killed two and wounded dozens of civilians,” Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, tweeted. He said the Taliban “must show they are willing & able to respond to Afghan desire for peace,” and that “we’re taking a brief pause for them to consult their leadership on this essential topic.” No coalition service members were killed in Wednesday's attack, in which Taliban fighters attempted to breach Bagram airfield north of Kabul, but some were evaluated for minor injuries, a spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said. Two Afghan civilians were killed, and more than 70 civilians were reported injured, the spokesman said. The remaining Taliban fighters barricaded themselves inside the medical building, which is outside the base, and were killed in in a series of airstrikes, the spokesman said. The tweets by Khalilzad appear to throw another wrench in peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban.”

The New York Times: Suicide Bomber Kills Seven Iraqi Paramilitary Fighters-Military

“A suicide bomber blew himself up killing at least seven fighters from an Iraqi paramilitary group near the city of Samarra north of Baghdad on Thursday, the military said in a statement. It said three other fighters were wounded in the attack, but gave no further details. There was no immediate claim for the attack. Iraqi forces and mainly Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups are fighting an insurgency by Sunni Islamic State militants across parts of northern Iraq, two years after the group lost its sway over territory in the country. The militants stage regular attacks against security forces but such a deadly one is rare.”

Voice Of America: Analysts: Seized Weapons Show Iran’s Deep Involvement In Yemen’s War

“The recent U.S. seizure of suspected Iranian guided missile parts headed to rebels in Yemen highlights Iran's continued far-reaching involvement in the war-torn country, experts say. U.S. officials said earlier this month that a U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard boarding team seized a small boat in the northern Arabian Sea that was carrying sophisticated weapons to Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen. Iran has not commented on the seizure, but the country has in the past denied sending weapons to Houthi rebels. Some experts believe the incident shows Iran's escalating efforts to defy international obligations and to destabilize Yemen and the broader region. "This is one additional piece of evidence that Iran continues to violate multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions in exporting arms, which it's not allowed to do," said James Phillips, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington.”

NPR: 'We Were Blindsided': Families Of Extremists Form Group To Fight Hate

“It was a busy fall morning at Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C. Myrieme Churchill found a clearing in the arrivals hall and scanned the crowd. One by one, her people showed up: a black father and daughter from Tennessee. A white couple from Georgia. A Somali immigrant. Two South Asians — one from Canada, one from Britain. Churchill greeted them in a blend of languages: Salaam! Bonjour! Welcome to D.C.! The travelers embraced and began chatting about the weather, barbecue, kids. Anything but the unseen thread that brought them together in Washington: extremism. That would come later, in private, at the fourth annual summit of the nonprofit Parents For Peace. Nearly everyone in the group is a former extremist or the relative of one. “They were each isolated by their own stories,” said Churchill, the group's executive director. “They were suffering on their own.” Parents For Peace began in 2015 mainly as a support group. Now, in response to resurgent extremist violence, the focus is shifting to policy and prevention work. Members came to Washington to put human faces to a problem typically addressed as a national security issue. They want to reframe extremism as a public health emergency that cuts across race, religion, geography.”

United States

Houston Chronicle: Would-Be ISIS Fighter Faces Re-Sentencing Before Federal Judge

“Over shawarma at a restaurant in Istanbul in 2014, two Houston friends parted ways: One would stick with his plan to catch a bus to the front lines and join a new group called the Islamic State in the burgeoning revolution in Syria; the other, who’d pitched the idea, would ditch his secret itinerary and head back to Texas. Ten months later, family members learned that the friend who’d stayed and joined the group known as ISIS, Sixto Ramiro Garcia, had died in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Asher Abid Khan — who had devised the plan, helped Garcia get a passport and connected him with an ISIS recruiter — was living with his family in Spring, delivering pizza and working on a degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Houston. Khan, who was charged with providing material support to the infamous jihadi group, served one of the lightest federal sentences in the country for his crime. The sentence prompted the Justice Department to mount a successful appeal. On Friday, Khan will be back in court in Houston facing the prospect of more prison time.Prosecutors believe U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes should have tacked on a steep “terrorism enhancement” to Khan’s sentence because he backed the group known for enslaving and raping women and children and distributing gruesome videos of militants beheading captives, and because he effectively recruited a combatant, encouraging his friend down a path that led to his death.”

The Guardian: Extremist Cops: How US Law Enforcement Is Failing To Police Itself

“Ever since he was a teenager, Joshua Doggrell has believed that the former slave-holding states of the American south should secede from the United States. When he was a freshman in college at the University of Alabama in 1995, Doggrell discovered a group whose worldview chimed with his – the League of the South. The League believes that white southern culture is in danger of extinction from forces such as religious pluralism, homosexuality and interracial coupling. Doggrell wanted to protect that culture. In 2006, when he was 29 years old, he applied to be a police officer in Anniston, Alabama, a sparsely populated city at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, where more than half of the residents are people of colour. On his police application, Doggrell wrote that he was a member of the League. Shortly after, he was hired. During nearly a decade on the police force, Doggrell was a vocal advocate for the League, working to recruit fellow officers to the group. He encouraged his colleagues to attend the League’s monthly meetings, which he held at a steakhouse not far from the police station. On Facebook, he posted neo-Confederate material, including a photo of an early leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and wrote that he was “against egalitarianism in all forms.”

Roll Call: Thornberry Calls For US Action To Deter Iran Aggression

“Iran is likely to attack more Western targets in the Middle East soon, and the United States will need to respond, Mac Thornberry of Texas, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said in an interview Thursday. “I expect Iran will take further provocative actions in the coming weeks,” Thornberry said on a C-SPAN “Newsmakers” program set to air Friday night. Noting Iran’s leaders have faced a month of demonstrations in which hundreds of Iranians have reportedly died, Thornberry predicted Iranian rulers will “lash out and try to find an external enemy.” He added that Iran has yet to respond to an attack on one of its oil tankers in October and that retaliation may be coming. “I do think it’s important to have a response,” Thornberry said, without specifying any particular type of military strike, covert action or other step. Iran is “going to have to have some sort of pushback or they will continue to be more aggressive.” Thornberry has long been the House Republican Caucus’ leading voice on national security issues. He has announced plans to retire next year.”

Syria

The Telegraph: How Much Longer Will The West Continue To Fail The War-Ravaged People Of Syria?

“Winter has now fully arrived in the North-Western Syrian province of Idlib. Most of its inhabitants are living in tents and shacks, and as the temperature plummets the snows will soon cover the land. These internally displaced people have no electricity, running water or sanitation. Food is scarce and the few remaining hospitals are running out of basic medicines. The atrocities and crimes against humanity have continued unabated during our general election campaign. Of those hospitals, only one is fully functioning, the others destroyed in Russian and Syrian airstrikes.”

Associated Press: Over 1,000 Ancient Relics Recovered From Syrian Museum

“More than 1,000 ancient relics and mosaics were saved from Islamic State group militants when staff at the museum of the Syrian city of Raqqa managed to hide them underground and in storehouses, Syrian officials and experts said Thursday. The Syrian Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria said the 1,097 pieces — which were part of the original nearly 7,000 relics in the Raqqa museum — have been saved. The museum was looted and damaged by militants in Syria’s nine-year war, but was stripped of most of its belonging when Islamic State militants seized control of the city in 2014. The militants were defeated and expelled from Raqqa in 2017. Since then, the local administration has been working to rehabilitate the museum and account for any remaining antiquities. Maamoun Abdul-Karim, Syria’s former director general of Antiquities and Museums, told The Associated Press the 1,097 relics were among 5,800 pieces stashed away safely at the start of the war.”

The Defense Post: Fearing Conscription Into Assad’s Army, Syrian Kurds Flee To Iraq

“When Giwan fled his city of Amuda in northeastern Syria two months ago, the ongoing Turkish military offensive wasn’t the only reason he packed his bags. “Not everyone fled due to the war. Many of us fled in fear of the regime,” explained the  27-year-old refugee who asked that his real name not be used. He and roughly 10,000 other Syrians now live in tents at Bardarash camp near the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk. Giwan, like most of his neighbors in the camp, paid a smuggler to cross the border into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. “We ended up coming here after the Syrian regime entered the city,” he said. “We had no option but to flee the area because we knew they would arrest us.” In mid-October, Syrian government troops deployed along the Turkish border, the result of a Russia-brokered deal reached with Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces designed to fend off Turkish troops and their allied forces who had just launched an offensive in northern Syria. The arrangement  — struck after withdrawing U.S. troops cleared the way for Ankara’s operation — saw the Syrian Arab Army return to cities and towns it hadn’t occupied in years, dashing hopes of a continued Kurdish semi-state in the northeast. “Everyone has fled. We heard that they would take those reached conscription age,” Alan, a 17-year-old refugee from the town of Derik, said of the Syrian army.”

Kurdistan 24: Kurdish-Led Forces Target ISIS Smuggling Network In Syria

“The US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on Wednesday announced that they had carried out a large-scale operation against an Islamic State smuggling network in Syria’s eastern Deir al-Zor province. “Our Counter-Terrorism units carried out a wider operation against an ISIS sleeper-cell that were responsible for running a smuggling network of logistical equipment, weapons and other armory,” the SDF press office said in a statement, which added that multiple militants were captured in three separate operations in Diban, Busayra, and Hajin. “Our forces targeted their logistical and weapons supply-lines as well as the ISIS members responsible for the network. The members of the smuggler-network posed a threat and carried out attacks on the population with the items that were being traded,” the SDF said. As well as the arrest of the individuals suspected of being part of the smuggling network, said the statement, “A large number of weapons and armory and miscellaneous documents were seized during the operation.” The SDF stated that the operation would have the effect of foiling future attempts of the group to carry out new attacks.”

Iran

The Jerusalem Post: Iran’s Imam Ali Base Is Key To Its Nexus Of Influence Over Iraq And Syria

“Iran has been constructing a new base near Albukamal in Syria, near the Iraqi border, according to satellite images published by Image Sat International over the last several months, which also has shown the bases’ continued expansion. The base is now clearly part of a much larger nexus of Iranian influence across Iraq and Syria that is in the spotlight as Iran moves ballistic missiles to Iraq, and as Iranian-backed militias fire rockets at bases housing US forces. An examination of the area shows that the new base has 30km of internal roads and is linked to the strategic T-4 base 290 km to the West via desert roads. The Imam Ali base rose like a mirage from the desert over the last few months. Not so long ago this land area, which covers around 20 square kilometers, was just dunes and dry landscape. This area of the border, a key crossing between Iraq and Syria near the Euphrates river, was once held by ISIS from 2014 to 2017. Iraqi forces coming from the east and Syrian regime forces from the west took back this area in 2017. In 2018 a group of Shi’ite militias spearheaded by Kataib Hezbollah crossed from Iraq into Syria to bolster the Syrian regime units. The regime was weak and didn’t have enough forces to control the areas around Albukamal. Iraqi militias would help.”

Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty: In Iran, Six Years For One Word

“Use of a single word deemed offensive by Iranian religious officials resulted in a six-year jail sentence for journalist Pouyan Khoshhal. In an article published in October 2018 in the daily Ebtekar, Khoshhal used the word “death” instead of “martyrdom” in a reference to Imam Husayn, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad who is revered under Iran's official religion, Shi'ite Islam. Khoshhal decided six years was too harsh of a penalty and he fled Iran. The “inadvertent mistake,” as Khoshhal describes it, resulted in a wave of attacks by hard-liners on social media who accused him of insulting religious sanctities -- some even suggesting he should be executed. “They created an uproar over a word,” Khoshhal told RFE/RL in a December 11 interview via phone. Ebtekar quickly fired him and Khoshhal was arrested two days after the article was published. He says he was held and interrogated by the feared intelligence branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), who told him the social-media attacks against him were the reason he was arrested. Khoshhal, 29, says he faced psychological pressure while detained, including 10 days in solitary confinement with no contact with the outside world. His interrogators pressured him to falsely confess he had been told by outsiders to insult Islamic sanctities.”

NPR: The Situation In Iran Is Leading Many People To Flee The Country

“Iranians facing a crackdown on protests are going for a break, or permanently, to Istanbul, where they're a little more free to talk about the situation back home. MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: The situation in Iran is leading many people to flee that country. A hike in gas prices last month led to strikes that paralyzed Iran. The government responded with a violent crackdown. NPR's Peter Kenyon met with Iranians who had come to Istanbul and can now speak a bit more freely about the situation at home. PETER KENYON, BYLINE: On a recent afternoon, Istanbul's Taksim Square was swarming with visitors, including Iranian families happy to be away from the pressures and hardships of life at home. Some agree to speak with a reporter, but only if family names aren't used. Ali is one of several Iranians I met who says his family isn't just visiting. They're moving here. He says he was back in Tehran last week and found people searching for family and friends missing since the crackdown that Amnesty International says killed more than 200 people. The government disputes the figure but offers none of its own. As his small dog strains at his leash and barks at passersby, Ali says no one thinks officials have the public's welfare in mind.”

War On The Rocks: Understanding Iran’s Nuclear Escalation Strategy

“Iran is back in the nuclear game. In May 2019, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani announced that his country would no longer be bound by the nuclear limits under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known simply as the Iran nuclear deal. Rouhani’s remarks marked the end of a year-long period in which Iran continued implementing the agreement after Washington withdrew from it in May 2018. Throughout the rest of 2019, Iran gradually reduced its compliance with the deal. Meanwhile, the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign starved Iran’s economy, helping fuel nationwide protests in November, which left hundreds dead following a crackdown by security forces. While ramping up its nuclear activities in contravention of the nuclear deal may seem like an attempt to get a bomb, we don’t think that’s the case. The fact that it is gradually and so publicly violating the deal suggests Iran is, instead, trying to put pressure on the international community to relieve sanctions.”

Iraq

The Christian Science Monitor: The Real Story Behind A Charred Iraqi Shrine: Resentment Of Iran

“Outside the charred walls of a shrine complex here is ample evidence of the ferocity of a dayslong battle mounted by Iraqi protesters, convinced they were targeting a symbol of Iranian power in Iraq. Molotov cocktails that failed to explode – their blackened fuses stuffed into bottles of gasoline or spirits – lie scattered amid a carpet of stones, bricks, and broken glass. They were thrown by men who first stormed and torched the nearby Iranian consulate Nov. 27, chanting “Iran out of Iraq” – the first of three attacks on that building in a week. Then they moved to the shrine, their anger fueled by rumors of an Iranian intelligence presence at this vast mausoleum, built to deify Ayatollah Mohammad Bakr al-Hakkim, leader of an Iraqi opposition group created by Iran in the 1980s. “Iran takes all our resources, our funding, our freedom,” charges one protester, explaining why he and others fought at the complex. Beside him, a student, Zain, holds three pieces of metal shot extracted from his bandaged forehead.”

Turkey

Asia Times: Turkey Forcing Europe To Deal With ISIS Returnees

“Four weeks have passed since Turkey began enacting one of its most controversial policies, forcibly deporting ISIS fighters and their families without the consent of the receiving country. The deportations have continued regularly; on Monday, 11 French nationals landed back in France. At least two dozen ISIS members have been deported to countries across the European Union; Britain, Germany, Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands have all had citizens sent back. Turkey says it is holding another 1,000 ISIS prisoners and will deport them all by the end of the year. This sudden influx of returning men and women has caught European countries by surprise and raised some difficult legal, political and moral questions – questions that Europe, in common with the estimated 100 countries whose citizens also washed up on the shores of the Islamic State “caliphate,” had hoped to avoid dealing with. Now Turkey is forcing these countries to confront their forgotten sons and daughters and the hard questions that come with them. The rise and fall of the ISIS proto-state between Syria and Iraq has created a fiendishly complicated – and still evolving – political and legal situation. ISIS fighters, supporters and their families are held under one of three jurisdictions: detained by a state (either Turkey or Iraq); detained by Kurdish militias in northeastern Syria under an indeterminate legal structure; or living in spaces ungoverned by the rule of law, either in the still-disputed province of Idlib or in parts of eastern Syria.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Afghan Official: Roadside Bombing Kills 10 Civilians

“A roadside bombing in central Afghanistan on Friday killed 10 civilians, including four women and a child, an Afghan official said. The explosion, which took place in the district of Jaghato in Ghazni province, also wounded six civilians, according to Marwa Amini, spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry. The civilians were in a minivan, traveling from the Day Kundi province to the city of Ghazni, the Ghazni provincial capital, when their vehicle was targeted. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Amini blamed the Taliban, who control much of the region. The Taliban control or hold sway over nearly half of Afghanistan, staging regular attacks that target foreign and Afghan forces, as well as Kabul government officials, but also kill scores of civilians.”

Xinhua: Insider Attack Kills 7 Police In S. Afghanistan

“An insider attack on a police checkpoint killed seven police personnel in Shahr-e-Safa district of Afghanistan's southern Zabul province on Thursday, head of provincial council Ata Jan Haqbayan said. The incident took place early morning and the perpetrator after killing seven police took away their weapons and escaped, the official said. According to the official, the perpetrator might be a Taliban protégé to terrorize the police as well as the people. Police have not made comments yet.”

Lebanon

Asharq Al-Awsat: Two Obstacles Face The Lebanese Uprising: Banks, Hezbollah

“Two obstacles stand in the way of the Lebanese uprising and prevent it from achieving its goals: the banking sector and Hezbollah. While the dynamics of obstruction and counter-revolution overlapped with these two components, each of them has a strategy to thwart and besiege the uprising. The banking sector seems to be ignoring and refraining from making any concessions, not only to meet the demands of the street but also to respond to calls made by the governor of Banque du Liban, who was involved in maximizing the influence of bankers decades ago. It is a strategy of laziness and deliberate indifference, waiting for the anger to fade and for the ruling political group to be able to beg some aid from unknown “philanthropists”. On the other hand, Hezbollah is adopting an active strategy by threatening to use violence, similarly to its allies who faced the revolution in Iraq and suppressed protesters in Iran.”

Middle East

Voice Of America: US-Taliban Talks In Qatar Pause For A ‘Few Days’

“The Afghan Taliban says it wrapped up nearly a week of peace negotiations Thursday with the United States in Qatar in a "good and positive" atmosphere, but the insurgent group did not report any breakthrough. Both Taliban and U.S. negotiators have agreed to resume the talks after "a few days" and internal consultations, said Suhail Shaheen, who speaks for the Taliban negotiating team. The U.S.-Taliban dialogue ended a day after insurgents carried out a major suicide car bomb and gun attack on the largest American military base in Afghanistan, the Bagram Airfield. Local officials said, however, the Taliban raid inflicted casualties only on the nearby Afghan civilian population, killing at least one woman and injuring scores of people there. Shaheen attempted to dismiss suggestions the assault dealt a blow to the negotiation process in Qatar, saying the atmosphere in Thursday's session of meetings was "good and positive." There were no immediate comments from the U.S. negotiating team, which is led by the special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad.”

Critical Threats: Al Houthi Attacks On Saudi Arabia And The UAE: 2016-2019

“The al Houthi movement retains the capability to threaten key Saudi and possibly Emirati infrastructure. Iran has enabled the development of the al Houthis’ advanced attack capabilities over the course of Yemen’s current conflict. The al Houthis escalated real and claimed cross-border attacks against Saudi Arabia in spring and summer 2019 to support an Iranian escalation in the Gulf and pressure the Saudis to accept a ceasefire in Yemen. The al Houthis paused missile and drone attacks targeting Saudi Arabia in September 2019 to pursue negotiations. The US Navy’s interdiction of sophisticated Iranian missile components bound for Yemen in December 2019 signals continued Iranian support for the al Houthi missile threat.”

Nigeria

All Africa: Nigeria: Air Strikes Kill 30 Insurgents As NAF Launches Operation Rattle Snake In North-East

“Fighter jets of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) wednesday bombarded terrorist locations, killing 30 insurgents in Borno State. This was coming as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Olonisakin, pledged the judicious use of military budget. The air strikes targeted tactical headquarters of the insurgents in Parisu and Garin Maloma located on the fringes of Sambisa Forest. The air interdiction followed intelligence report that revealed the location of the terrorists. An update on the ongoing war against insurgency issued by the NAF said many terrorists were decimated during the attack. “The Nigerian Air Force, through the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation Lafiya Dole, has launched Operation Rattle Snake against terrorists' elements in the North-east of the country. “The air interdiction operation, which commenced yesterday, 10 December 2019, will target selected locations within the North-east in order to further degrade the remnants of the terrorists as well as deny them safe havens and freedom of action”, it said. The statement said on the day one of the operation “air strikes by NAF aircraft resulted in the neutralisation of several Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) 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.”

Somalia

The Defense Post: Al-Shabaab Attacks Somali Army Base In Hilweyne, Killing 5

“Four civilians and a soldier were killed when heavily-armed al-Shabaab fighters attacked a Somali army base north of the capital, military sources and witnesses said Thursday. Witnesses said dozens of al-Shabaab members, arriving aboard four pickup trucks, took part in the attack late Wednesday, December 11 on Hilweyne base 25 km (15 miles) north of Mogadishu, while a soldier said there had been hundreds of assailants. Al-Shabaab fighters took over the camp for a while before pulling out. “After [a] tactical retreat by the armed forces, the military is back to the camp now and the situation is under control,” said Mohamed Salad, a Somali military commander in the nearby town of Balcad.”We have lost one soldier in the fighting, but the terrorists also killed four other civilians including two women who were running small businesses near the camp.” Hussein Luqman, a witness, said: “There was heavy exchange of gunfire which continued for more than 30 minutes. “The Shabab fighters … stormed the base after attacking from several directions using technicals,” Luqman said, referring to pickup trucks. “Two women who used to sell food and other items to the soldiers in the camp were among the dead.”

Africa

CNN: Attack On Niger Military Base Leaves 71 Soldiers Dead

“ISIS has claimed responsibility for one of the deadliest attacks on Niger's military, which left 71 soldiers dead and 12 wounded. The attack happened on Tuesday, when several hundred heavily armed militants ambushed soldiers at an outpost in Inates, in the west of the country near the Mali border, according to defense minister, Issoufou Katambe. Fierce fighting followed and a “substantial number of the terrorists were neutralized,” Katambe said. ISIS claimed on social media that it managed to seize the military base for several hours, and that it stole weapons and ammunition, including several tanks. The terrorist group did not provide any evidence to support its claim. According to the presidency's official Twitter handle, President Mahamadou Issoufou who was in Egypt at the time the “tragedy” took place had to cut off his trip to return home. The attack came just days ahead of a summit in France between President Emmanuel Macron and leaders of five West African leaders to discuss the deteriorating security in the region. That meeting has now been postponed to early 2020, according to a Reuters report. Niger is a member of the G5 Sahel force of troops from Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Chad set up in 2014 to tackle insecurity.”

Fox News: Niger Terror Attack: ISIS-Linked Militants Claim Responsibility For Massacre

“Islamic State (ISIS)-linked militants claimed responsibility for an attack on a military installation in western Niger near the border of Mali on Wednesday, which killed at least 71 people and left 12 injured. The SITE intelligence group, which tracks jihadist media, said fighters from the Islamic State's West Africa Province (ISWAP) claimed responsibility for the attack, according to CBS News. The group splintered off from Boko Haram and is made up of 3,000 men. The onslaught took place on Tuesday and caused President Mahamadou Issoufou to cut his overseas trip to Egypt short so he could return home to deal with the crisis. The terrorist group reportedly numbered in the hundreds and was heavily armed as they descended upon the unsuspecting military camp. Niger's defense ministry claimed “a substantial number of terrorists were neutralized” in the process. Two years ago, four U.S. service members were killed, along with four Nigerien soldiers, when they were ambushed by militants just 30 miles from the sight of this week's carnage. The violence erupted just days before a summit where French President Emmanuel Macron was set to address the role of French soldiers in West African's Sahel region.”

Voice Of America: Cameroon Records Daily Boko Haram Attacks Along Nigeria Border

“Authorities in Cameroon say Boko Haram terrorists have been launching daily attacks on villages along the Nigeria border, killing at least 30 people and injuring scores in the past few months. Cattle rancher Lamsi Guidjo, 55 years old and speaking through an interpreter, asked for temporary housing at the central Mosque in the town of Mora, on Cameroon's northern border with Nigeria. He said Boko Haram militants attacked his ranch in Werwack village on Tuesday and it is not safe for him to return. Guidjo was told by villagers that Boko Haram killed five people in the attack. The governor of Cameroon's far north region, Midjiyawa Bakary, said the attack on Werwack was just one among a hundred they have recorded in the past three months. At a high-level security meeting Wednesday in the city of Maroua, Bakary said the Boko Haram attacks left at least 30 people dead in villages around Mora, Tokombere, Limani, Kolofata and Ashigachia. Participants at the meeting recommended that traditional rulers, the clergy and civilians work with the military to help reduce the attacks. Boko Haram fighters usually step up their attacks at the end of the year when cross-border traffic between Nigeria and Cameroon increases so they can steal supplies, Bakary said.”

United Kingdom

The New York Times: Subduing Terrorist On London Bridge, He Was Prepared To Die

“A woman’s scream was the first sign John Crilly had of a terrorist attack. For a moment, he wasn’t sure it signaled real distress, he said, but then “it got a lot louder, a lot more intense.” It sounded like they were both in the same building, the historic Fishmonger’s Hall on the north bank of the River Thames. Rushing to investigate, he saw Saskia Jones, wounded and “sprawled across the stairs with her arms out,” recalled Mr. Crilly, who would be hailed as a hero of the deadly episode on Nov. 29 that ended on London Bridge. Her attacker, Usman Khan, stood at the bottom of the staircase, a knife in each hand. Mr. Khan said “something like, ‘kill everyone,’ or ‘going to kill you,’ or something about killing people,” Mr. Crilly, 48, told the BBC in an emotional interview published on Thursday. Risking his own safety, he went at the killer, armed with only the improvised tools at hand — first a wooden lectern, and then a fire extinguisher — as the clash began in a central London building and then spilled out into the street. He saw that Mr. Khan was wearing what looked like an explosive suicide belt, though it turned out to be a fake. “I’m just basically screaming at him to blow it,” Mr. Crilly recalled, “like calling his bluff.”

BBC News: Islamist Fighter's Wife Amaani Noor Guilty Of £34 Terror Donation

“A woman who married an Islamist fighter online has been convicted of funding terrorism.‎Amaani Noor, 21, of Liverpool was convicted of donating $45 (£34) to terrorist group The Merciful Hands on 23 May last year. Liverpool Crown Court heard she married Hakim Noor via a videolink ceremony and planned to join him in Syria. Noor, a former beauty contestant and ex-girlfriend of a professional footballer, had denied the charge. She claimed she thought the money was going to buy food for women and children in Syria. The jury heard on the same day Noor, of Cinema Drive, Wavertree married she joined The Merciful Hands and sent money under a false name. The former Miss Teen GB semi-finalist had booked flights to Turkey when police searched her home, the court heard. She told the court she was planning to join her husband, who she said described himself as an “independent” fighter in Syria, and she believed he was fighting for Islam and Sharia law. Noor said she focused on religion after she broke up from an unfaithful boyfriend who was “in the public eye” when she was 18, then began discussing extremist organisations with people she met on the internet following a failed marriage to a Muslim preacher.”

Europe

Reuters: Belgium Ordered To Take In 10 Children Born To Islamic State Fighters

“A Brussels court ordered the Belgian government on Thursday to help bring to Belgium 10 children who were born in Syria to Islamic State fighters of Belgian nationality. The children, aged between seven months and seven years, must be brought to Belgium within six weeks, the court said. They are now at the Al-Hol refugee camp in northeastern Syria which is under Kurdish control.If the government does not comply by providing consular assistance and administrative documents for the children, it will be fined 5,000 euros ($5,511) per child per day, the court said. Belgium’s justice minister, Koen Geens, told public radio the government was ready to take back the children as long as it did not have to take in their mothers as well. Last month the court requested that the government take back within 75 days a woman whose husband fought for Islamic State, and her two children.”

Southeast Asia

The Guardian: 'I Hate Isis': Uprooted Survivors Of Marawi Siege Long To Return Home

“Thousands of survivors of an Islamic State siege in the Philippines are stuck in makeshift dwellings more than two years after their city was liberated, with many forced to drink contaminated water despite the presence of EU-funded aid agencies. They were among an estimated 350,000 people driven from their homes when Islamist fighters seized control of the city of Marawi, on the island of Mindanao, in May 2017. Most assumed they would be back home within days, but the attack marked the start of a five-month siege, and more than 130,000 people remain displaced, according to the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR. Driving through what remains of the heart of the city, it is not hard to see why. The worst-affected area remains in ruins. The walls of houses and mosques are pockmarked with bullet and shrapnel holes; pro-Isis graffiti is sprayed on walls alongside messages from property owners asserting their rights.”

Technology

The Wall Street Journal: FTC Weighs Seeking Injunction Against Facebook Over How Its Apps Interact

“Federal officials are considering seeking a preliminary injunction against Facebook Inc. over antitrust concerns related to how its products interact, according to people familiar with the matter. If it materializes, the action by the Federal Trade Commission would focus on Facebook’s policies concerning it how it integrates its apps or allows them to work with potential rivals, these people said. Alongside its core social network, Facebook’s key products also include Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. The potential FTC action would likely seek to block Facebook from enforcing those policies on grounds that they are anticompetitive, the people said. An injunction could seek to bar Facebook from further integrating apps that federal regulators might look to unwind as part of a potential future breakup of the company, one of the people said. A majority of the five-member FTC would be needed to seek an injunction, which the commission would need to file suit in federal court to obtain. The FTC declined to comment.”