Eye on Extremism: December 16

The New York Times: At Least 23 Soldiers Killed In Insider Attack In Afghanistan

“At least 23 soldiers were killed while they were sleeping on Saturday in an insider attack in eastern Afghanistan, officials said, the latest episode of enemy infiltration that has raised concerns about a new local military force billed as the hope for holding territory recaptured from the Taliban. The Taliban infiltrator, who was on duty at a military base in Ghazni Province, opened fire on his colleagues, wiping out almost the whole unit, officials said. The attacker then seized all weapons and equipment in the base and joined the insurgency. The exact number of casualties was unclear. The Afghan Ministry of Defense confirmed the death of nine soldiers, and the Taliban said 32 had been killed, but their claims of casualties are mostly exaggerated. The figure of 23 came from Esmatullah Jamuradwal, a member of the provincial council, who said that only one soldier, out of 24 in the Territorial Army unit, had survived. “The attacker packed all weapons and ammunition in a Humvee and drove to the Taliban,” he said. A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said that officials had begun an investigation into the attack.”

Bloomberg: Niger Jihadist Raid Shows Speed Of Islamic State Expansion

“The killing of 71 soldiers in Niger, which had been spared the surge in major militant attacks that have destabilized Mali and Burkina Faso, shows that Islamic State is expanding at breakneck speed across West Africa. The raid on the Inates base, less than 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the capital, Niamey, is the deadliest-ever on Niger’s army and follows a spate of attacks on military outposts in neighboring Mali that left more than 100 troops dead last month. It also came days before leaders of five West African nations were due to convene in France on Dec. 16 to discuss security and the French military deployment in the region as anti-French sentiment escalates. French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday postponed the summit to January because of the attack. “If we look at what’s been happening of late, Islamic State has increased its mobility, its power and its access to resources,” Former Malian Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga told Radio France Internationale on Friday. Maiga and his government resigned in April after about 160 people villagers in Mali’s center died in inter-communal fighting, one of the country’s worst massacres to date. Militant violence has engulfed the Sahel, an arid area on the southern fringe of the Sahara, since the 2011 ousting of Libyan strongman Moammar Qaddafi.”

The Wall Street Journal: Pompeo Warns Iran Over Rocket Attacks At Iraqi Bases

“Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for a spate of rocket attacks against Iraqi bases where American troops are located and warned the Trump administration would respond forcefully if U.S. or allied forces were injured or killed. The warning Friday was a fresh indication of rising tensions as the U.S. has sought to use economic sanctions to compel Iran to curtail its military presence in the region and accept stringent limits on its nuclear activities. “Iran’s proxies have recently conducted several attacks against bases where Iraqi Security Forces are co-located with U.S. and International Coalition personnel,” Mr. Pompeo said in a statement.”

The New York Times: How 2 Drifters Brought Anti-Semitic Terror To Jersey City

“The first body was found stuffed inside the trunk of a Lincoln Town Car. It was a brutal crime, a 34-year-old livery driver beaten in the head and his body hidden in a sedan on a residential street in Bayonne, N.J. But the discovery offered no hint of what was to come. A bulletin with details about the man’s death circulated among local law enforcement. It mentioned a moving van. On Tuesday, a police officer named Joe Seals was on duty in nearby Jersey City. He grew up in the area, and joining the force had fulfilled a dream. Two years ago, he made detective. Detective Seals, 40, was apparently on his way to meet a confidential informant at Bayview Cemetery, where weeds grow thick among the graves. He had been exchanging texts with his mother about Christmas presents for his five children.By noon, he stopped replying. He had spotted a U-Haul van. Investigators on Tuesday combed the scene at Bayview Cemetery in Jersey City, where Detective Joe Seals was killed. Shortly afterward, Detective Seals was shot dead at the hands of a couple who then carried out an anti-Semitic rampage at a Jersey City kosher market in what officials later declared an act of domestic terrorism.”

The Jerusalem Post: Lebanon: 25 Injured In Clashes With Security Forces, Hezbollah And Amal

“25 demonstrators were injured during clashes in Beirut with security forces, with the aid of Hezbollah and Amal supporters. Protests in Lebanon erupted as a result of alleged mismanagement of the economy, couples with deep seated corruption throughout the government.”

Euronews: We Need To Stop Pretending That We Do Enough To Curtail Terrorists’ Online Influence ǀ View

“Halle. Christchurch. Paris. El Paso. London. We are living in times of global terrorism, unlike any we have known before. This is a terror that thrives through its enduring online presence. A terror that is streamed for the world to witness. A terror that tech giants continue to dismiss. The time has come and gone for relying on the goodwill of the tech industry and their unfulfilled promises of self-regulation. This year has repeatedly demonstrated the threat of online terror content. We have borne witness to live-streamed attacks across the globe and we have seen the onslaught continuously go viral. No example is more devastating than the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. Of the 1.5 million videos of the attack there that were detected and eventually removed by Facebook, only 1.2 million were screened and blocked by Facebook’s software before being uploaded. This left 300,000 videos uploaded to the platform for users to see.”

United States

ABC News: Suspect In Pensacola Naval Base Shooting Wrote 'The Countdown Has Started' 4 Months Before Attack: Report

“New details have emerged in the deadly shooting at a Florida naval base, including a cryptic message that the suspect wrote just months before the attack, according to a federal report obtained by ABC News. Mohammed Alshamrani, 21, a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force who authorities say killed three people and injured eight others after opening fire at the Naval Air Base Pensacola last week, wrote the phrase “the countdown has started” on Sept. 11, 2019 with no further explanation, according to a Joint Intelligence Bulletin released Friday. The post was written about four months before the Dec. 6 shooting, according to the report. The bulletin, which was issued by the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, National Counterterrorism Center and the Defense Intelligence Agency, also stated that his social media included references to non-Muslims as “infidels” and defended jihad. Sources previously told ABC News that investigators determined the shooting was likely a “terror” attack inspired by radical Islamic ideology. One post contained writings that were consistent with a 2010 statement from American-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki, who was killed in 2011 in a CIA-led drone strike, according to the report.”

International Business Times: Terrorist In Federal Prison Convicted Of Attempting To Provide Material Support For ISIS

“The Eastern District of Texas has convicted an international terrorist incarcerated in the US Bureau of Prisons for additional terrorism offences committed in prison. The 45-year-old Eretria-born Ethiopian citizen, Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, was found guilty of seeking to provide material assistance for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He was also convicted for making a false statement to the FBI. Ahmed was acquitted of two other charges and the verdict on another is pending. He could face up to 25 years in federal prison for the conviction. Under the USA Patriot Act, providing material support for terrorism is a crime. Based on the evidence presented in 2013, Ahmed was found guilty in the Southern District of New York, conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and acquire military-style training from it. He had previously received training in 1996 at an Al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. The Ethiopian national was also a member of a network that provided logistic and financial assistance to terrorist groups— the Brandbergen Mosque network. A sentence of 111 months in federal prison was pronounced by a federal judge in New York, and Ahmed was shifted to the Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) in Beaumont, Texas, to serve his sentence.”

NPR: Encore: How One Group Sees Extremism As A Public Health Emergency

“The nonprofit Parents For Peace wants Americans to see extremism as a public health emergency — one that cuts across race, religion and politics. The members are former extremists and their families.The nonprofit Parents For Peace wants Americans to see extremism as a public health emergency that cuts across race, religion and politics. Members of the group include former extremists and their families. NPR's Hannah Allam was granted rare access to their annual gathering and has this report. It's a recent fall afternoon, day one of a conference at a hotel in Washington. There are name tags, a coffee station. But this isn't your usual D.C. meeting. Hi, everyone. You all know me by now. I'm Tania. I'm a former Islamic fundamentalist. OK, I am Melissa. I'm a wife of a former Klansman. And then there's this guy. I'm Mubin Shaikh. I'm a former neo-Nazi. They're laughing because he isn't a former neo-Nazi. He's actually a former Islamist extremist. It might be the ultimate you-had-to-be-there joke. But that space to laugh, to heal, to find solidarity, that's what draws this group together. Tania Joya, Melissa Buckley, Mubin Shaikh - they're all members of a nonprofit, Parents For Peace. Almost everyone in the room is a former extremist or has a loved one who got involved with extremism.”

The Washington Post: Army, Navy Officials Investigate Possible ‘White Power’ Gestures By Students

“Officials at the Army and Navy academies are investigating whether hand signs flashed by students standing behind a reporter during a TV interview were intended to convey a message of white supremacy. The incident involved two U.S. Military Academy cadets and a Naval Academy midshipman who were behind ESPN’s Rece Davis as he reported on the sideline before the annual rivalry game Saturday in Philadelphia. “U. S. Naval Academy officials have appointed a preliminary inquiry officer to conduct an internal investigation into the hand gestures made during the ESPN ‘College GameDay’ broadcast prior to [Saturday’s] Army-Navy game,” Cmdr. Alana Garas, a spokesperson for the Naval Academy, said in a statement to The Washington Post.”

The New York Times: At Pulse Shooting Site, A Plan To Remember Renews Pain For Some

“The struggle to heal has been palpable here in the years since 2016, when a gunman turned Pulse, a gay nightclub, into what was then the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Each year, thousands attend wrenching services to honor the 49 people who died. The crime scene has been transformed into a powerful shrine that celebrates the idea that love is stronger than hate. And there are plans to turn the shuttered club into the centerpiece of a permanent memorial and build a soaring museum nearby that would mark what happened here for generations to come. The county, the state and multiple corporations have agreed to give millions toward the $45 million project.”

Syria

Business Insider: The Prison Commander Says The Guards Are Trying To Deradicalize The Former ISIS Fighters By Giving Them Painting Exercises

“They sit, squat, lie, stand in their boilersuits, all huddled together. Then they wait. What are they waiting for? No one is sure at this precise moment. Somewhere in the east of Syria — where exactly, it can't be said — is the largest prison for former ISIS soldiers. In a small town near the Iraqi border, the remaining ISIS fighters fought one final battle with the Kurdish YPG militia and their Western allies in the spring. Higher-ranking ISIS members had already gone into hiding, especially those who'd come from elsewhere and who didn't have the connections or money to smuggle themselves out in time. The prisoners have no idea of what's gone on in the outside world since they were captured. They're only allowed to go to the courtyard for an hour a day — otherwise, they're completely isolated from the outside world by the walls of the former factory. Here's what it's like inside. The prison is in a heavily secured area near the city of Hasakah but the exact location of the prison has to be kept secret, according to the Kurdish YPG militia. The Kurdish commander wears a balaclava as many of the prison guards do too, to mask their identities when dealing with the ISIS members — the fear of acts of revenge should the fighters be released is far too great.”

Al Jazeera: 'No War And No Peace' In Syria, Analysts Say

“More than eight years into devastating conflict, Syria appears to be stuck in a situation of "no war and no peace", analysts have said. The Syrian conflict erupted in 2011 after government forces cracked down on civilian protesters demanding more freedom and economic opportunities. Regional powers, including Turkey and Iran, along with Russia, have played a critical role in backing opposing sides to the conflict in recent years. However, with each of these external actors facing domestic political pressures, they have let the Syrian conflict drift into a stalemate, the analysts said on Saturday at the Doha Forum, a two-day conference in the Qatari capital.”

Iran

CNBC: The Aramco Attack Was An ‘Act Of War’ By Iran: Senior State Department Official

“The September attack on Saudi Aramco’s facilities that temporarily shut down half of the kingdom’s oil production represented an act of war by the Iranian state, U.S. special representative for Iran Brian Hook told CNBC on Saturday. “Because of the Iran nuclear deal we’ve been accumulating risk of a regional conflict — and what Iran did to Saudi Arabia on September 14 was an act of war,” Hook told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble during the Doha forum in Qatar. Iran’s government has stringently denied involvement in the drone and missile attack, considered to be the most significant assault on oil infrastructure in history.Riyadh, alongside Washington and several other Western allies, has accused Iran of involvement in the attack. But it has not directly accused the Islamic Republic of carrying out an act of war — something seen as an attempt to avoid greater escalation. “To launch an attack from your territory, if that is the case ... this would be considered an act of war,” Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir said in late September. But the kingdom maintains it is currently seeking a peaceful resolution.”

Independent: Iranian Artists Speak Up Against Deadly Crackdown Of Protests

“Prominent Iranian artists, inside and outside the country, have reacted to the brutal crackdown of recent protests in Iran. Actors, directors, and musicians have been speaking up in support of the protesters and against the violent response by the state. Dozens of artists living inside Iran published a statement in support of protesters, saying they will not forget the young faces of the dead, who were killed and then ignored by associating them with “foreigners”. The statement condemned the violation of the people’s “most basic human rights” and their “most apparent needs”, and warned that people’s voices “will remain in history”.”

The Jerusalem Post: Iran’s IRGC: The Persian Gulf Belongs To Us

“The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval commander Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said the Persian Gulf belongs to Iran. “We have the right to question any vessels entering the Straits of Hormuz and Iranian territorial waters.” The statement is the latest in a series of Iranian threats to neighboring countries of the Persian Gulf after six months of tensions in which Iran downed a US drone and attacked six ships and seized one UK-flagged ship in the sensitive waterway. Tangsiri’s statement is part of the IRGC’s increasing attempts to harass or provoke the US and allies. “The IRGC navy controls and monitors the foreign vessels which enter the Persian Gulf and questions them about their nationality, type of vessel and their destination,” said the Iranian commander. He claimed the US has always responded to these requests. Iran has hosted Oman’s foreign minister recently and sought to reduce tensions with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Iran wants to push its own initiative called Hormuz Peace Endeavor (HOPE) in the Gulf. It also says that it wants a joint naval drill with Russia and China.”

Amnesty International: Iran: Thousands Arbitrarily Detained And At Risk Of Torture In Chilling Post-Protest Crackdown

“Iran’s authorities are carrying out a vicious crackdown following the outbreak of nationwide protests on 15 November, arresting thousands of protesters as well as journalists, human rights defenders and students to stop them from speaking out about Iran’s ruthless repression, said Amnesty International today. The organization has carried out interviews with dozens of people inside Iran who described how, in the days and weeks during and following the protests, the Iranian authorities have held detainees incommunicado and subjected them to enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment.”

Iraq

Xinhua: 6 Iraqi Soldiers Killed In IS Attack In Eastern Iraq

“Six Iraqi soldiers were killed and four others injured in an overnight attack by Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a provincial police officer said on Monday. The attack took place late on Sunday night when IS militants carried out an attack on army bases at a rural area near the town of al-Maqdadiyah, some 100 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, sparking a fierce clash between the two sides, Alaa al-Saadi from Diyala's police told Xinhua. The clash continued for several hours and only stopped after a reinforcement troops arrived at the scene, al-Saadi said without giving further details about whether the extremist attackers sustained any casualty. Despite repeated military operations in the Diyala province, remnants of IS militants are still hiding in some rugged areas near the border with Iran, and in the sprawling areas extending from the western part of the province to the Himreen mountainous area in north of the provincial capital Baquba, which itself located some 65 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. The security situation in Iraq has been dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces declared they had fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.”

Xinhua: 2 Policemen Killed In IS Attack In Northern Iraq

“Two policemen were killed on Sunday in an attack by Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq's northern province Kirkuk, the Iraqi military said. In Kirkuk, IS militants opened fire with machine guns on a vehicle of federal policemen in the southern part of the oil-rich province, killing two aboard, the media office of Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement. In a separate incident, the security forces acted on intelligence reports and raided a hideout at a house on the border between Iraq's eastern province of Diyala and Baghdad, Alaa al-Saadi, a local policeman in Diyala, said. The troops captured six suspects at the hideout who were said to be responsible of kidnapping dozens of civilians and military personnel, al-Saadi said. The security situation in Iraq has been improved since Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017. However, IS remnants have since melted in urban areas or resorted to deserts and rugged areas, carrying out frequent guerilla attacks against security forces and civilians.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Pentagon Urges Iraq To Take Steps To Prevent Attacks On Bases Housing US Forces

“US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Monday urged Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to take steps to prevent bases housing US troops from being shelled, a statement from the premier’s office said. Esper “expressed his concerns over the shelling of some installations and the necessity to take procedures to stop it,” a statement from Abdul Mahdi’s office quoted the Pentagon chief as saying during a phone call.”

Independent: Mass Grave Containing Remains Of 643 Civilians Discovered In Iraq

“A mass grave containing the remains of 643 civilians has reportedly been discovered near a former ISIS battleground in Iraq – with those inside believed to have been members of a Sunni tribe reportedly targeted by Iraqi militias. Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya said official sources had confirmed the bodies, found along the side of a road 5km north of Fallujah, belonged to the al-Muhamdah tribe – a group who had disappeared in 2016 and hadn’t been seen since. The territory is believed to have been under the control of Iraqi soldiers under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Shaabi, a conglomerate of militias accused by the US and Israel of being backed by Iran.”

Turkey

Financial Times: Turkey Warned Over Lapses In Money Laundering And Terror Financing

“Turkey has been warned by an international watchdog to improve “serious shortcomings” in its approach to combating money laundering and terrorist financing or face being added to an international “grey list” — a step that could damage its ability to attract foreign financing. The warning by the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) comes in a report by the body, published on Monday, that found the country lacking in a series of standards.  Ankara will be now subject to special monitoring by the organisation, which was founded in 1989 to combat to combat money laundering, terror financing and other similar threats to the integrity of the international financial system. If it fails to improve over the coming year, it risks being added to an FATF “grey list” along with countries such as Pakistan, Mongolia and Yemen. Elizabeth Rosenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think-tank, said that entering the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG) — as the monitoring process is known — was “a big deal” for any nation. “There are not many countries that go through the ICRG process,” she said. “It’s a minority of countries that are flagged for egregious and systemic failings in money-laundering and terrorist financing regimes.”

Afghanistan

PBS News Hour: Taliban Seeks To Share Power In Afghanistan’s Government, But Will Ethnic Groups Approve?

“As the Trump administration considers withdrawing the last remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan, President Trump this month restarted peace talks with the Taliban. But while the White House tries to get the Taliban to share power in Afghanistan's government, securing a peace deal's approval from the country's multitude of ethnic groups will be another challenge. Jane Ferguson reports. An insider attack in eastern Afghanistan overnight has left at least 23 Afghan soldiers dead. Officials said the attack took place at a military base in Ghazni province. The soldiers had been sleeping when a Taliban infiltrator, who was on duty at the base, shot and killed them before taking weapons and equipment and returning to the Taliban insurgency. This latest attack comes just after the United States took what it's calling a “pause” in peace talks with the Taliban — and after an earlier attack Wednesday that killed two Afghan civilians and wounded dozens more near Bagram airfield. But if and when those talks resume, they're still leaving major players out of the conversation: the Afghan government itself, as well as other prominent figures.”

Al Jazeera: ISIL In Afghanistan 'Defeated', But Not Eliminated

“Months of sustained aerial bombings by American and Afghan forces is believed to have hit the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) hard. Only around half of the group's 4,000 fighters are thought to still be active across Afghanistan. This is a contrast to just six months ago when ISIL was seen as a major threat and Afghan authorities say it is only a matter of time before the group is eliminated. Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley reports from Nangarhar province.”

Xinhua: Afghan Forces Storm Taliban Hideout In S. Afghanistan, Set Free 12 Detainees

“The security forces have stormed a Taliban militants' hideout in Shahidi Hasas district of Afghanistan's southern Uruzgan province and rescued 12 detainees, all civilians, said an army statement released here Monday. According to the statement, the special operations were launched early Monday and the security forces after killing three insurgents and arresting five others, entered the hideout and set free 12 people who were held by the militants. Taliban militants have not made comments on the report yet.”

The New York Times: Afghan Warlord Escapes Arrest As Troops Turn City Into War Zone

“For nearly 24 hours, the center of Mazar-i-Sharif, one of Afghanistan’s economic hubs, became a front line for a battle that included machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and helicopter gunships. And it didn’t even involve the Taliban. Elite Afghan forces on Sunday surrounded the compound of Nizamuddin Qaisari, an abusive militia commander, who was resisting arrest with about 150 of his fighters, police officials said. Residents fled the neighborhood as the two sides shelled each other in a city that has long been safe from the broader war. Close to midnight on Sunday, a full 24 hours after the battle had begun, the police commandos cleared their way through a large garden and into the compound. The battle had led to the death of at least eight of Mr. Qaisari’s men and the arrest of 30 others. Mr. Qaisari, however, was nowhere to be found, apparently having sneaked to safety.”

Lebanon

The Times Of Israel: Intense Clashes Rock Beirut As Hezbollah Backers Attack Protest Camps

“Security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas while clashing with anti-government protesters and with men who tried to attack the protest camp in Beirut on Saturday, setting off street confrontations that lasted for hours. The violence was some of the worst in the capital since demonstrations began two months ago. The violence Saturday started when young men from a neighborhood known as a stronghold for supporters of the Shiite Amal and Hezbollah groups attacked the epicenter of anti-government protests, chanting “Shiite, Shiite.” It was the second time this week that pro-Hezbollah and Amal supporters tried to attack the protest camp, angered by demonstrators’ criticism of their leaders. Later, clashes erupted at the entrance to the street leading to parliament, which was blocked by security forces. Several people attacked the rally, prompting security forces to fire tear gas to push them back. It wasn’t clear who the attackers were but the parliament speaker is the head of the Shiite Amal group. The attack took place only a few meters (yards) from the epicenter of the protests, and the anti-government demonstrators were dispersed to side streets as tear gas filled the area.”

France 24: Lebanon Counter-Protesters Clash With Police In Beirut

“Dozens of young people opposed to Lebanon's anti-government protest movement clashed with riot police in Beirut on Saturday, throwing rocks and firecrackers against volleys of teargas. Late Saturday afternoon, young counter-protesters from an area of Beirut dominated by the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah and fellow Shiite movement Amal tried to raid a key anti-government protest camp in Martyrs' Square. Anti-riot police intervened, firing teargas to disperse them. The square, in central Beirut, has been at the epicentre of protests which flared in mid-October over perceived official corruption, poor services and economic woes. These large anti-government rallies, which grew into calls for a root-and-branch overhaul of the state, have mostly passed off peacefully. However, clashes have become more frequent in recent weeks, with supporters of Hezbollah and Amal attacking protest camps in several cities amid counter-demonstrations. Both Amal and Hezbollah are partners in Lebanon's cross-sectarian government. The counter-protests have taken place in the capital and other Lebanese cities in recent weeks, prompting the leader of Hezbollah on Friday to urge his supporters -- and those of Amal -- to stay calm.”

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Sanctions Two Lebanese Men As Top Donors To Hezbollah

“The Trump administration levied sanctions against two Lebanese men officials said are prime donors to the militant Hezbollah movement, which the U.S. has designated as a terrorist organization. The Treasury Department said the two men have channeled millions of dollars directly to the group, including by using the African diamond trade and high-value works of art to allegedly launder money used to fund terrorism-related activity. Neither of the two businessmen sanctioned on Friday, Nazem Said Ahmad and Saleh Assi, could be reached for comment.”

Middle East

The National: Jordan Authorities Reveal They Foiled ISIS Terrorist Plot

“Jordanian authorities have revealed that they foiled a terrorist plot by a cell of four members supporting ISIS, the Saudi press agency reported on Sunday evening. The cell was planning to carry out terrorist attacks across Jordan, Spa reported. Jordanian authorities said the cell members, who were arrested last August, were about to target the General Intelligence building in the Ma'an governorate in southern Jordan. The terrorists also planned to attack Jordanian police patrols and national guards in the same governorate. Last month, the the country's General Intelligence Directorate said it had foiled a plot by two people to attack American and Israeli diplomats, and US troops at a military base in the south of Jordan.”

Egypt

Xinhua: Egyptian President Calls For Joint Efforts To Fight Terrorism

“Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi stressed on Sunday that joint efforts are needed to fight terrorism. He made the remarks at the 3rd World Youth Forum opened on Saturday in Egypt's Red Sea resort city of Sharm El Sheikh. Speaking at a session discussing challenges facing international peace and security, the president said terror groups could cause harm to a big country as one or two terrorist operations would stop tourism. He stressed that fight against terrorism requires international efforts and cooperation, even if some countries are not directly affected. The president also underlined that a united and decisive stance must be taken against countries that support and use terrorism to achieve their goals. Terrorism prevailed in Egypt since the military ousted former President Mohamed Morsi in early July 2013 in response to mass protests against his 12-month rule and his currently outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group. Terror attacks killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in North Sinai province, and they gradually extended to other provinces, where dozens of civilians, mainly Christians, were killed. Most of the attacks were claimed by Sinai State group, based in Egypt's North Sinai province.”

Libya

Voice Of America: Egypt's El-Sissi Says Militias Hold Libyan Government 'Hostage'

“Libya's U.N.-supported government is held hostage by “armed and terrorist militias” in the capital, Tripoli, Egypt's leader said Sunday. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said in televised comments that the Government of National Accord “is not able to have a free and real will because they have been taken hostage by armed and terrorist militias there.” The GNA is backed by Egypt's regional rivals Turkey and Qatar and Egypt's relations with the two countries have been strained since 2013. That's when Sissi, as defense minister, led the military overthrow of elected but divisive Islamist President Muhammad Morsi amid mass protests against his brief rule. Morsi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Tripoli-based government is supported by a Libyan affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood group, which Cairo designated as a terrorist organization in 2013. Turkey and Qatar are also staunch backers of the Brotherhood. Sissi said the Libyan conflict has posed a threat to Egypt's national security because militants and weapons spill over the border into Egypt. He said it had been a priority for Egypt to directly interfere in Libya “but did not take this step to maintain the relationship and brotherhood with the Libyan people.”

The Arab Weekly: UN Experts Point Out Extremist Threat In Libya

“UN experts said 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 has declared “one of the main axes” of its future operations. The panel of experts said in a 376-page report to the UN Security Council, released December 10, 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 organised groups or as mercenaries “may lead to further instability.” Libya has been in turmoil since a civil war in 2011 toppled Muammar Qaddafi. In the chaos that followed, the country was divided, with a weak UN-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the Libyan National Army (LAN) led by Field-Marshal Khalifa Haftar, each supported by an array of militias and foreign governments. Haftar launched a surprise military offensive April 4 aimed at capturing Tripoli and curbing the influence of militants who are backing the Fayez al-Sarraj-led government there.”

Nigeria

Voice Of America: Sources: Boko Haram Kill 19 Nigeria Herders In Clashes

“Boko Haram jihadists gunned down 19 cattle herders Saturday in northeast Nigeria, civilian militia sources and residents told AFP on Sunday. Ethnic Fulani herders, besieged by a spate of armed attacks targeting their cattle, pursued Boko Haram, sparking a fierce gunfight outside Fuhe village, near Ngala close to the border with Cameroon. “The insurgents killed 19 of the herdsmen in the fight,” anti-jihadist militia leader Umar Kachalla told AFP. Bodies of the slain herders were brought to the police by militiamen, Kachalla said.  The herders had earlier repelled an attack by Boko Haram fighters who invaded the village to steal livestock, killing one of the militants, Mada said. The herders then decided to pursue the jihadists and fight them “once and for all”, Mada said, but were overwhelmed. “The herdsmen were subdued by the better armed Boko Haram gunmen,” he said. Jihadists then returned to Fuhe village and burnt homes and food supplies while herds fled, according to Ngala resident Abubakar Yusuf, who saw the dead bodies at the police station.   Boko Haram has increasingly targeted farmers, herders and loggers, accusing them of spying and passing information to the military and the local militia fighting them.”

Bloomberg: Militants Execute Four More Aid Workers In Nigeria, Group Says

“Aid agency Action Against Hunger said Islamist militants claimed they executed four humanitarian workers who were kidnapped in Nigeria’s northeast in July, bringing the number of deaths to five. Six workers including an employee of Action Against Hunger, two drivers and three health ministry officials were kidnapped on July 18 while delivering aid supplies to Damasak in Borno State. One of the hostages was executed at the end of September. Action Against Hunger is “extremely concerned and calls for the immediate release of its staff member, Grace, who remains in captivity,” the group said in a statement on its website. Nigeria’s northeast has been ravaged by Islamist militants belonging to Boko Haram since 2009 and more recently by groups linked to Islamic State. The conflict has forced an estimated two million people to flee their homes. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the executions and said the government is “resolved to beat evil in this land,” according to a statement emailed by a spokesman.”

Daily Post Nigeria: Boko Haram: UN Reacts To Execution Of Aid Workers In Borno

“The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, has condemned the execution of four aid workers by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno. “I am deeply saddened and outraged by the news of the tragic killing of four aid workers who were held captive by armed groups for almost five months,” stated Mr Kallon. “My thoughts go to their families, friends and colleagues who are enduring unspeakable pain and hardship.” The four men were amongst the six aid workers who were abducted on 26 July when their convoy came under attack near Damasak, in the Mobbar LGA. They were working on a health project implemented by the INGO Action Against Hunger. One of the drivers was killed during the attack and another was reportedly executed on 24 September 2019. “I plead for the immediate release of Grace Taku, the only woman who was in the ACF team, and whose whereabouts remain unknown,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator. “I also call for the immediate release of Alice Loksha, a nurse and a mother, who was abducted during an attack in Rann in March 2018. “This is another sad day for the people of Nigeria and the humanitarian community supporting them,” regreted Mr Kallon.”

Xinhua: 15 Killed In Boko Haram Attack In NE Nigeria

“At least 15 people were killed when terror group Boko Haram launched an attack on a town in Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno, an official said on Saturday. Usman Zannah, a lawmaker representing Borno in the national parliament, told Xinhua that scores of the Boko Haram militants in 11 vehicles stormed the town of Magumeri, about 40 km north of Maiduguri, capital of Borno, to wreak the havoc late Thursday. According to Zannah, the dead victims included eight local militia members, six residents, and a security officer. Their bodies were recovered on Friday. The gunmen had hit the town with anti-aircraft guns and various caliber of arms. Ba'ana Liman, a local hunter, said the attack lasted several hours as hunters engaged the attackers with their locally-made guns. The military has not confirmed the attack.”

Anadolu Agency: Nigeria: UN Condemns Boko Haram Killing Aid Workers

“The United Nations on Saturday condemned the murder of four aids workers this week by the Boko Haram terrorist group in northeast Nigeria. UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria Edward Kallon said the international community was saddened by the killing of the aid workers who were abducted by terrorists in July on their way to a remote community in the northeast to provide humanitarian support to victims of Boko Haram violence. He said the incident could jeopardize access to humanitarian support in the region. "I am deeply saddened and outrage by the news of the tragic killing of four aid workers who were held captive by the Armed group for almost five months," said Kallon in a statement.”

Africa

The National: Militants Kill 22 In Eastern DR Congo Despite Claims Of Security Progress

“Militants killed at least 22 people overnight in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said on Sunday, despite government claims to have rebels on the defensive. Similar attacks have killed at least 179 civilians since the Congolese army launched an offensive on October 30 against the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan militant group. In his State of the Nation address on Friday, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi said the campaign had “dismantled” nearly all of the group's sanctuaries and that the rebels were turning to guerrilla tactics out of desperation. But the government has blamed the rebel group for similar attacks going back years, including dozens of night-time massacres since 2014 that have killed hundreds of civilians. Repeated military operations have failed to fully eradicate it. Richard Kivanzanga, the deputy administrator of Beni territory, told Reuters he counted 22 bodies on Sunday in the villages of Baoba and Ntombi. “The assailants killed women, men and children,” he said. “It wasn’t possible to evacuate all the bodies today because we had to wait for an escort from the army.” The surge in violence has lead to deadly protests against the army and UN peacekeepers for failing to protect them.”

Arab News: Morocco Says Arrests Extremist Who Planned ‘Suicide Attack’

“Moroccan anti-terror police announced Sunday the arrest of an alleged extremist who “planned a suicide attack.” The 41-year-old extremist tried to “build expertise in the use of arms,” Morocco’s central office for judicial investigations said in a statement. He was imbued in the “ideological propaganda” of the Daesh group, it added. “Electronic devices and documents... on the making of explosives” were seized, the office said. Long spared extremist violence, Morocco was last year hit by the gruesome murder of two Scandinavian tourists in the High Atlas mountains, committed in the name of Daesh. The perpetrators were sentenced to death, a penalty not carried out in Morocco since 1993.”

The Jerusalem Post: Sudan Will Close Office Of Terrorist Groups Hezbollah, Hamas

“The Sudanese transitional government is slated to close the offices of the foreign terrorist organizations, Hamas and Hezbollah, according to a report in the Middle East Eye. The Qatar regime financed Middle East Eye reported that “A reliable Sudanese source close to [Prime Minister Abdallah] Hamdok's office disclosed to Middle East Eye that the government will close the offices of foreign groups designated as terrorists by the US, including Hamas and Hezbollah.” According to the report, “The Sudanese source who spoke to MEE, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said: “The government will close the offices of Hamas and Hezbollah and any other Islamic group designated as terrorist groups that has presence in Sudan, because Sudan has nothing actually to do with these groups and the interests of Sudan are above everything.” The Sudanese source added “Actually they have hidden their presence in the past few years but we won't tolerate any individual's presence in the future.” The outlet said the action to evict Hamas and Hezbollah from the north African country was meant to convince the United States government to de-list Sudan as a state-sponsor of terrorism.”

Voice Of America: Ex-Sudan Strongman Al-Bashir Gets 2 Years For Corruption

“A Sudanese court convicted former President Omar al-Bashir on Saturday of corruption and money laundering and sentenced him to two years in a correctional facility. The conviction was the first verdict for Bashir, 75, whom the military deposed in April after months of mass street protests against his three decades of authoritarian rule. The court also ordered the confiscation of millions of U.S. dollars, euros and Sudanese pounds that were found at Bashir's home when he was ousted. Bashir was dressed in traditional white robes and a turban during Saturday's court proceeding, and he watched quietly from inside a metal cage while the judge read the verdict.”

BBC News: Niger Army Base Attack: West African Leaders Call For More Help

“Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou said the militants had become "professionals in the art of war". The Islamic State (IS) group said it killed the soldiers during an attack on a military base in western Niger. The soldiers were buried on Friday inside a military base close to the capital Niamey. The leaders held a short prayer service beside the graves of the soldiers. They included President Issoufou, and the leaders of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Mauritania - the G5 Sahel nations bearing the brunt of attacks by militants linked to IS and al-Qaeda.”

North Korea

The New York Times: Top U.S. Envoy Warns North Korea Against Weapons Tests

“The top United States envoy on North Korea warned on Monday that if Pyongyang conducted a major weapons test in the coming days as feared, it would be “most unhelpful,” as Washington tried to de-escalate tensions with the country. “We are fully aware of the strong potential for North Korea to conduct a major provocation in the days ahead,” Stephen E. Biegun, Washington’s top representative on North Korea, said during a news conference in Seoul. “Such an action will be most unhelpful in achieving a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.” Mr. Biegun, who was recently also appointed the State Department’s No. 2 official, met with senior South Korean officials in Seoul on Monday amid signs that North Korea was preparing to launch a satellite or flight-test an intercontinental ballistic missile.”

Germany 

The Jerusalem Post: Four German Parties Call For Ban Of Hezbollah Activities

“In a new initiative, the Bundestag political factions of four parties on Friday urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration to ban Hezbollah’s activities. The German wire service DPA reported that the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Party, the Christian Social Union Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Free Democratic Party support the ban of Hezbollah activities in the federal republic, and that the initiative is slated to be discussed this week in the Bundestag. Merkel is a member of the CDU.”

Europe

Al Jazeera: Finland Minister Apologises For Instagram Poll On ISIL Women

“Finland's finance minister has deleted an Instagram post and issued an apology following criticism by a human rights group that embarrassed the new, women-led government days after it took office. Katri Kulmuni, who became finance minister only this week, had posted an informal poll on whether the government should allow Finnish women with links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) group to return from Syria, or just their children. The poll posted on Thursday asked her Instagram followers whether they backed repatriating “children only” or “children and mothers” from the al-Hol camp in a part of Syria held by Kurds. Kulmuni's Centre Party opposes letting the mothers return to Finland. Kulmuni, 32, said she had been expressing the views of the Centre Party which she leads, highlighting divisions on the issue with other parties in the five-party governing coalition. “My aim to have a discussion on social media about a complicated topic failed. I apologise for the poll,” Kulmuni tweeted on Friday. “My IG [Instagram] poll aroused condemnation, it has been removed. The style was unsuccessful.”

The Jerusalem Post: Mossad Helps Denmark Bust 20 Terrorists - Report

“The Mossad was behind successful efforts by Denmark to nab a cell of 20 terrorists planning a wave of attacks, Channel 12 reported Saturday night. According to the report, Danish security officials arrested the terrorists and seized a variety of weapons. While Israel previously disclosed that it had provided the intelligence to obstruct an ISIS plot to bomb a United Arab Emirates Etihad Airways flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi, Netanyahu revealed that the intelligence that broke the case was obtained through cyber tools. He said that while he could not give specifics, the audience could “multiply by about 50” the Sydney airline terrorist plot, and that would be the number of terrorist plots worldwide (mostly by ISIS) that Israel has helped to prevent thanks to its cyber intelligence powers. “The plane from Sydney to Abu Dhabi was not going to be hijacked, but exploded in midair,” he said. “We used our cyber tools to discover that ISIS was going to do this, and so we alerted the Australian police, and they stopped it before it could happen. “This particular incident I can talk about because it was leaked to the media,” Netanyahu said. “If you multiply that by 50, it will give you an idea of the contribution that Israel has made to prevent major terrorist operations, especially from ISIS, in dozens of countries.”

The Jerusalem Post: Austrian MP Starts Initiative To Outlaw Hezbollah As Terrorist Entity

“The Austrian MP, Helmut Brandstätter, on Thursday jump started a parliamentary initiative to consider a government ban of the entire Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah in the central European country. "The Federal Government, in particular the Foreign Minister, is asked to examine whether it is appropriate and productive to classify the whole of Hezbollah in Austria a terrorist organization and implement the same on the EU level," wrote Brandstätter, who is a member of the NEOS Party, along with other Austrian MPs in the parliament.”

Southeast Asia

The New York Times: Alleged Militants Kill Police Officer In Eastern Indonesia

“Alleged members of an Islamic militant group shot a police officer to death in eastern Indonesia in the latest assault targeting security officials in the world's most populous Muslim country, police said Saturday. Five gunmen ambushed and took hostage villagers and police officers who had just returned from Friday prayers at a small mosque near a police post in Central Sulawesi province's Salubanga village, said National Police spokesman Argo Yuwono. He said the hostages managed to escape when the gunmen, believed to be members of the East Indonesia Mujahideen militant group, sneaked into the mosque's yard and opened fire at the officers and villagers, killing a police officer, and fled to a nearby forested area in Parigi Moutong district. The attack occurred amid security operations that had been intensified in the past months in Poso, a neighboring mountainous district considered an extremist hotbed, to try to capture the rest of the group's members. The group still has some nine members after more than 30 were captured or killed in the past year. The group's leader, Abu Wardah Santoso, was killed in a shootout with security forces in 2016.”

China

CNN: New York Times: US 'Secretly Expelled' Chinese Officials Who Entered 'Sensitive' Military Base

“Two Chinese Embassy officials were "secretly expelled" by the US earlier this year after they entered a "sensitive" military base in Virginia, The New York Times reported Sunday, citing conversations with people with knowledge of the episode. The Times said half a dozen people with knowledge of the expulsions said US officials believe "at least one of the Chinese officials, who were with their wives, was an intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover."Officials at the Chinese Embassy "complained to State Department officials about the expulsions," the Times reported, noting that the action comes amid heightened tensions between the US and China, "the world's two largest economies and biggest strategic rivals." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday that the US accusations against the Chinese diplomatic personnel were "seriously contrary to the facts.”

Technology

Financial Times: Far-Right Extremists Flock To Protest Messaging App Telegram

“Far-right extremists are migrating to the encrypted messaging app Telegram, known for its crucial role in organising recent resistance movements from Hong Kong to Iran, as other mainstream platforms crack down on hate speech. The app — which was created by Pavel Durov, founder of Russian social network VKontakte has been used as a rallying platform by protesters around the world in recent months. But according to academics and experts, the same privacy features that make Telegram an effective tool for resisting authoritarian regimes also make it well suited to gathering support for hate groups. The far-right has come under increasing scrutiny from major social platforms in the wake of multiple US mass shootings. In March, Facebook announced it would ban white nationalism and separatism, having previously limited its restrictions to white supremacist content. YouTube said in June that it would ban neo-Nazi material."