Eye on Extremism: December 19

The New York Times: German Parliament Calls For Full Ban Of Hezbollah Activities

“Germany's parliament passed a resolution Thursday calling for a national ban on the activities of Hezbollah and for the Lebanese militant group to be put on the European Union's terrorist list. Mathias Middelberg, the spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives in parliament, said the joint resolution was agreed upon with the junior coalition Social Democrats, as well as the opposition Free Democrats. “It is unacceptable that Hezbollah is waging a terrorist fight against Israel in the Middle East, which is being financed through worldwide criminal activities, among other things,” he said in a statement. “In view of Germany's special responsibility toward Israel, we call on the government to ban all activities for Hezbollah in Germany.” The EU now lists Iran-backed Hezbollah's military wing as a banned terrorist group, but not its political wing, which has been part of Lebanese governments in recent years. “The separation between a political and a military arm should be abandoned, and Hezbollah as a whole should be placed on the EU terrorist list,” Middelberg said. “This could freeze Hezbollah's funds and assets in Europe more extensively than before.”

The Telegraph: Dozens Of Former French Soldiers Joined Jihadist Groups In Middle East, New Report Reveals

“Islamist groups have recruited dozens of former French soldiers, a troubling new report has revealed less than three months after a terrorist attack by a staff member at police headquarters in Paris shocked the nation. More than a third of the ex-servicemen are converts to Islam and nearly half served in elite Foreign Legion, parachute, commando or marine units where they acquired expertise in combat and handling weapons and explosives. The conservative newspaper Le Figaro published excerpts on Wednesday from the forthcoming report by the Centre for the Analysis of Terrorism, a Paris-based think tank. The report says the French army “constitutes a strategic recruitment target for terrorist groups… and former soldiers represent tremendous assets for these groups.” The report, “Soldiers and Jihad”, profiles 23 ex-servicemen “identified within terrorist organisations [mainly Isil] or implicated in plotting terrorist attacks”. An earlier parliamentary report noted that about 30 former servicemen have joined jihadist groups since 2012.  Several former Legionnaires have been arrested over terrorist plots in France, and ex-paratroopers or commandos have become leaders of Isil combat units in Syria or Iraq.”

Reuters: Boko Haram Militants Kill 14 Chad Civilians In Overnight Raid

“Boko Haram militants killed 14 Chadian civilians and wounded five others in an overnight attack on a fishermens’ camp in the northeastern part of Lake Chad, a local official said on Wednesday. Boko Haram has been fighting for a decade to carve out an Islamist caliphate in northeast Nigeria and has carried out regular raids over loosely guarded borders into neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The latest attack struck a camp of fishermen near the village of Kaiga on Lake Chad, which has been plagued by the militants since 2009. “The assailants arrived in the night and attacked the fishermen,” official Dimoya Souapebe told Reuters. Thirteen people are missing in addition to the 14 killed, he said. In March, Boko Haram militants killed at least 23 Chadian soldiers in an overnight raid, one of the deadliest such attacks inside Chad by the insurgents. Chadian soldiers are part of a U.S.-trained West African task force deployed to counter Boko Haram. The violence over the past decade has killed more than 30,000 people and forced about 2 million to leave their homes.”

Radio Farda: Iran Continues Crackdown A Month After Protests With 650 New Arrests

“More than a month after the start of the latest round of anti-government protests in Iran, security forces are still arresting people in various cities. The Police Chief in Kermanshah, Ali Akbar Javidan said on Wednesday December 18 that 250 more protesters have been arrested in that city. Elsewhere in Iran officials broke the news on Tuesday about more than 400 other arrests in Alborz Province near Tehran, as well as Khuzestan and Fars Provinces in the south. Although arbitrary arrests continue, there is still no official figure about the number of those detained during and after the protests that started on November 15 following a sudden three-fold rise in the price of gasoline. Some officials, including a key member of Parliament, Hossein Naqavi Hosseini of the National Security Committee, have said that around 7,000 protesters have been arrested during the first week after the protests started. Radio Farda’s estimate is that well over 8,000 people have been detained. The official news agency IRNA reports that Javidan has accused the detainees of "being thugs, provoking others to stage mutiny, destruction of public and private property and attacking the police and Basij militia." The accusations are typical of what Iranian officials have said about protesters in the past and in the wake of the most recent unrest while ignoring their demands for socio-economic justice.”

The Independent: There’s No Way Back For British Isis Prisoners Languishing In A Syrian Jail

“Aseel Muthana always looked up to his older brother. There were only a couple of years between them, but the way he talks about him makes the gap seem much larger.  Growing up in the Welsh capital of Cardiff together, Aseel absorbed his extremist opinions on politics and religion, and followed him everywhere he went.  So when, in 2013, Nasser decided to travel to Syria to join one of the world’s deadliest terror groups, Aseel was eager to go too. “I told him: ‘If you’re gonna go, I wanna go with you,’” says the younger Muthana, speaking to The Independent in a prison for captured Isis fighters in northeast Syria. “He told me I was too young. ‘Wait until you’re older, then you can come join.’ So I stayed. After he left I felt empty. So I felt I had to go.” Less than a year later, Aseel travelled to Syria to join his brother, who was already on his way to becoming a key member of the group’s propaganda machine. He was 17 years old. The stories Muthana and all other Isis prisoners tell now that they have been captured are riddled with lies and half-truths. Even today, when the scale of Isis’s crimes against humanity is known to everyone, many seem reserved in their criticism of the terror group.”

Radio Free Europe: U.S. Envoy Meets Afghan President In Push To 'Finalize Deal With Taliban'

“U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has met in Kabul with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss “efforts to finalize a deal with the Taliban” militants fighting the central government and U.S. and NATO troops, officials said. Washington last month restarted talks on a possible withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan for the first time since U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly shut down negotiations in September amid increased violence. AFP quoted the Afghan leader's spokesman as saying that Ghani had expressed “concerns about the continued violence by the Taliban” and Afghans' desire for “a sustainable peace” in his meeting with Khalilzad. The Taliban has refused to negotiate with the government in Kabul, saying it is a “puppet” of the United States. “A productive trip,” Khalilzad tweeted after the talks. AFP quoted a State Department spokesman as saying the Ghani-Khalilzad meeting included discussion of “efforts to finalize a deal with the Taliban.” “If an agreement can be reached, the process must soon pivot to intra-Afghan negotiations,” the spokesman added. There are an estimated 12,000-13,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and speculation has swirled that Trump could soon announce a reduction of around 4,000 troops in 2020.”

United States

CNN: The FBI Labeled The Jersey City Shooting As Domestic Terrorism. Why That's Not A Federal Crime -- And How It May Change

“The lack of a federal domestic terrorism statute is once again in the spotlight after last week's deadly attack at a kosher market outside New York City. The FBI has announced that they're investigating the attack -- which officials have said was fueled by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement sentiment -- as a domestic terrorism incident with hate crime bias. It's one of several such high profile attacks in the last several years that have been classified as domestic terrorism. However, had the two assailants who attacked the Jersey City, New Jersey, kosher market survived, federal prosecutors wouldn't have been able to charge them with federal domestic terrorism charges. That's because domestic terrorism is still not a federal offense. The theory on why domestic terrorism doesn't need to be a federal crime is that the conduct associated with such an act -- homicide, for instance -- is already illegal under federal or state laws. The argument is there is no need for the additional label. The other, less abstract, hurdle is a political one -- so far, there has not been broad enough bipartisan support to pass a bill making domestic terrorism a federal offense. Some lawmakers are working to change that. Three bills that would designate domestic terrorism a federal crime remain stalled in congressional committees.”

Los Angeles Times: Somali Men Convicted Of Terrorism Enter Fourth Year Waiting For Appeals Court Ruling

“After nearly an hour of listening to arguments from federal prosecutors and the lawyers for four Somali men who lived in San Diego and were convicted of terrorism-related charges in 2013, Judge Marsha S. Berzon of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals formally closed the court hearing. “Very interesting case,” she said. That was late in the morning of Nov. 11, 2016 — more than three years ago. It was also the last time anyone heard from the court on the case — the only one publicly acknowledged by the government to have been brought using a controversial mass surveillance program that allowed the National Security Agency to sweep up phone call records of citizens for years, secretly and without warrants. Even for the 9th Circuit, the nation’s largest and busiest appeal court, the long wait for a ruling is extraordinary. Two of the four men who were tried and convicted of sending a total of $15,500 to the Shabab terrorist group have been sentenced, served their time and released. The case centered on the NSA program of sweeping up metadata — information that says who someone called, when they called and how long they spoke.”

Syria

Voice Of America: UN: Ability To Get Lifesaving Aid To 4 Million Syrians At Risk

“The U.N. humanitarian chief is urging the Security Council to authorize a one-year extension of cross-border aid operations into Syria, warning there is no backup plan for reaching millions of vulnerable civilians without it. "Cross-border operations provide assistance that cannot otherwise reach those in need," Mark Lowcock told the Security Council president, U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft, in the letter dated December 17 and seen by VOA. "The United Nations does not have an alternative means of reaching 2.7 million people in need in northwest Syria." Lowcock said another 1.3 million people in the northeast receive lifesaving aid through a border crossing with Iraq. In all, about 4 million of the 11.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in war-torn Syria are reached through four crossing points from Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. "Without the cross-border operation, we would see an immediate end of aid supporting millions of civilians," he wrote. Russia's U.N. ambassador said Wednesday that the U.N.'s continued call for using the four border crossings, and its support for an additional one that Turkey has proposed, did not reflect "the realities.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: 8 Portuguese Men Charged With Fighting For ISIS In Syria

“Prosecutors in Portugal said Wednesday they were bringing terror charges against eight Portuguese men suspected of fighting for the ISIS group in Syria. Prosecutors said in a statement the men were suspected of involvement in the 2012 kidnapping by the group of British war correspondent John Cantlie and Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemens. The case was opened in 2013 after Portuguese authorities received information about the kidnappings from British authorities. Over the past six years investigators have traced the radicalization and movements of the men, the statement said. They joined ISIS, the statement said, and traveled to Syria with their wives and children. They are accused of joining, supporting and recruiting on behalf of a terror organization. Two of them are in Portugal and have been interrogated, the statement said. The whereabouts of the other six wasn't known.”

Iran

The New York Times: Iran President Says Country Testing New Advanced Centrifuges

“Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said his country's nuclear experts are testing a new type of advanced centrifuges, remarks likely meant to rally support for the Iranian leader as his nation struggles under crushing U.S. sanctions. Rouhani spoke during a meeting Wednesday with Iranian expatriates in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where he also used an Islamic conference on Thursday as a platform to decry American sanctions against Iran. “We have had great achievements and today, Iranian new IR-6 centrifuges are working and models IR-9 are currently being tested,” the state-run IRNA news agency quoted Rouhani as telling the Iranian expats. Iran was gripped by several days of violent protests in November amid anger over a sharp hike in gasoline prices following U.S. sanctions after Washington withdrew last year from Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.”

Iraq

Al Jazeera: ISIL Tomorrow: Mosul In The Shadow Of War

“In Mosul, Iraq, the city once controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), memories of war linger in the shelled-out buildings and rubble-strewn streets as residents remember all those who were lost. A woman recalls seeing the bodies of her nephew and brother floating in a river, in a mix of water, blood, and mud. A soldier remembers watching a child blowing themselves up on a suicide mission. A widow speaks of losing her husband, an ISIL fighter, and being refused schooling and work because of stigma towards ISIL families. In the aftermath of war, resentment, marginalisation and mistrust continue to divide communities as families struggle to find forgiveness for those who killed and people remain fearful of those loyal to ISIL.And the 500,000 minors that lived under three years of ISIL occupation in Mosul - many targeted for recruitment - face an uncertain future. “I'm not going to school, I have no books or anything. The clothes I'm wearing are the only ones I have. Before I had a ball and so many toys and I played with the neighbours. My big brother and I played together but now, all that is gone,” says 12-year-old Yousef. “I don't know what to do, I keep crying. I think about what I've seen, about the dead people in the world. I think about my family that they killed in front of my very eyes.”

Kurdistan 24: Over 5,000 Iraqis Displaced By ISIS Who Returned Home Are Back At Camps In Kurdistan

“In the past five months, more than 5,000 Iraqis who fled the Islamic State since 2014 to live for years in displacement camps in the Kurdistan Region have gone home to find conditions unsafe or unlivable to the extent that they have again returned to the camps. According to a report by the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Joint Crisis Coordination Centre’s (JCC) published on Dec. 15, between the months of July and November, 5,197 Iraqi internally displaced persons (IDPs) returned to the camps in Kurdistan Region after returning to their homes for various periods of time. “Lack of security, absence of essential services such as electricity, water, and health services, plus no available livelihoods or other sources of income are among the main reasons they choose to leave their homes again and return to the camps in Kurdistan Region,” Mariwan Hassan, Director of Crisis Response Directorate of the JCC, told Kurdistan 24. He added, “Security risks are one of the major concerns, such as tribal feuds and insurgent attacks from terrorist groups, either ISIS or other unknown armed groups. All these factors are forcing them to return to the safety of Kurdistan Region camps.”

Kurdistan 24: After ISIS Attacks, Villagers In Kurdistan Region Call For Security Outpost

“Members of a small community in the Kurdistan Region’s Garmiyan area are calling on Peshmerga forces to establish a security outpost near their village to protect them against possible Islamic State attacks. The Garmiyan Administration is an unofficial province in the Kurdistan Region that includes the three districts of Kalar, Kifri, and Chamchamal, in territory disputed between Baghdad and Erbil. Regional Kurdish Peshmerga and Asayish forces are in charge of security in Garmiyan, while national Iraqi forces control the region to its south and west. Recently, members of the so-called Islamic State have carried out a series of terrorist attacks on both the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in the area, killing dozens. They have also shelled nearby villages, wounding civilians who live there. In response, the Kurdistan Region began reinforcing these areas and its security forces have carried out a counterterrorism operation to root out Islamic State remnants. The Iraqi forces engaged in similar efforts as well. Despite such efforts, attacks have continued in these and other parts of the country, especially close to cities and towns that the terrorist organization previously controlled. “This is a vast stretch of flat land, and we have been very concerned with the recent situation,” Yusef Abdullah, a Kurdish man from a village in the Zangabad area, told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday.”

Turkey

The Telegraph: Turkey's Protection Of Hamas Is A Huge Blow To Peace In The Middle East

“The latest reports that Turkey is now permitting senior Hamas commanders to order attacks against Israel from Istanbul is not surprising. It is however highly disappointing and represents a huge setback in the quest of the US, the UK, and their western allies to bring about a more peaceful Middle East. It might be recalled that in mid-2014, three Israeli teenagers were abducted by Hamas operatives in the West Bank and subsequently murdered. The mastermind of the attacks was Salah al-Arouri, who moved to Turkey after residing in Syria, and issued orders to Hamas from Turkish soil. He shifted his residence multiple times, moving to Qatar and Beirut, but ultimately he would come back to Turkey where he engaged in dispatching Palestinians in the field. According to its own charter, Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in Egypt in 1928, but later expanded to many countries. Geopolitically, the movement backed the recovery of lost Islamic territories from Spain (what they still call Andalus) to the Balkans.”

Daily Mail: Woman Sparks Panic On A Plane After Posing As A Terrorist, Waving A Koran And Threatening To Blow Up The Jet Before She Is Dragged Away In Turkey

“A woman claiming to be a terrorist sparked panic on board a flight from Istanbul today after angrily waving a Koran in the cabin and threatening to blow up the plane. Wearing dark glasses and a blue headscarf, the woman claimed she belonged to FETO, a group which Turkey blames for a 2016 coup attempt. After her menacing speech she was restrained by passengers and escorted off the plane, according to Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak. A security team then searched the Cyprus-bound plane and found nothing suspicious on board.   According to the Cyprus Mail, the woman was heard shouting: 'I am a FETO member, and I will blow up the aircraft.'  Footage taken in the cabin showed the women being surrounded and restrained by other passengers after menacingly waving her Koran.  The woman claimed to have as many as five bombs, according to Turkish media reports. She also appeared to be holding up a picture of Fethullah Gulen, the Islamic cleric behind the controversial movement. There were contradictory reports over whether the plane had taken off late or whether the flight was cancelled altogether. Some passengers appeared to return to the tarmac after the panic on Wednesday morning.”

Afghanistan

The New York Times: Afghan Official: Bomb Stuck To Car Goes Off In Kabul, 1 Dead

“A sticky bomb attached to a private car in Kabul went off on Thursday, killing one civilian and wounding two others, a police spokesman said. No one immediately claimed responsibility and it was unclear why the people in the car were targeted. The Afghan capital frequently sees attacks — both large-scale bombings claimed by the Taliban or militants from the Islamic State group, but also smaller explosions from so-called sticky or magnetic bombs. According to police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz, the victims were on their way to a market in western Kabul when the bomb exploded. The Taliban today control or hold sway over half of the country and, along with IS, stage near-daily attacks.”

Xinhua: Militants' Big Revenue Source Eliminated As Tons Of Drugs Seized In Eastern Afghanistan

“The police in Afghanistan eastern province of Ghazni have seized and torched over 120 tons of drugs from the anti-government Taliban militants, inflicting heavy blow to the outfit's biggest source of revenues, the Ministry of Interior said Wednesday. The counter-narcotic police, backed by air forces, launched a special operation resulting in the discovery and elimination of a big quantity of drugs in Deh Yak district's Alokhil village of the province, the ministry said in a statement reached Xinhua. “Seven drugs processing factories and big reservoirs, with more than 120 tons of norco-drugs, have been discovered and set on fire, during the overnight search operation, eliminating the main source of the militants revenues in Ghazni and neighboring provinces,” according to the statement. Elsewhere in the country's northern Samangan province, more than 2,000 kilograms of optimums seized from drug-traffickers have been set ablaze, according to a separate statement from the ministry. The burnt drugs included poppy, hashish, heroin and morphine, which have been confiscated from smugglers and drug-dealers, during 75 counter-drugs cases in past two years, the source added. The police also arrested 109 people along with dozens of vehicles in connection to the cases, the source further said.”

Pakistan

Xinhua: Wanted Taliban Commander Arrested In Southern Pakistan

“Security officials in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi said on Wednesday that a militant commander wanted by the police for involvement in terrorist activities has been arrested. Chaudhry Safdar, senior official from the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in Karachi, said that Rahmat Shah, commander of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was involved in attacks on security forces. Safdar said the TTP leader was arrested in a raid in Karachi. However, he did not say when the militant was taken into custody. The Taliban commander was behind an attack on a camp of security forces in Buner district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province in 2009 when the TTP controlled parts of Buner and nearby Swat district. The security forces had cleared the areas of the TTP's militants. Shah had fled the area during the military operation, according to the security officials. Safdar said the KP province government had announced 2 million rupees (about 13,000 U.S. dollars) reward for the arrest of the TTP commander. The CTD official said the Taliban commander will be handed over to the KP province for formal trial. The Pakistani military said that members of the TTP had fled to neighboring Afghanistan as the result of operations in the tribal areas in recent years.”

India

Foreign Policy: India’s Militant Pipeline

“On April 18, 16-year-old Aqib Ahmad Hajam left his home in Redhwani, Kashmir, telling his family that he would be traveling north for a few days. That same day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an election rally in Gujarat, claiming that his government had managed to contain militancy to only “two and a half districts” in Indian-administered Kashmir. He added that during the five-year rule of his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), “no bomb blast took place in any other part of the country.” That is not correct. In fact, since the BJP formed a government in 2014, the three-decade armed insurgency in Kashmir has intensified. In a single suicide attack in February 2019, more than 40 Indian paramilitary soldiers died. The incident brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war. Yet Modi continued to sell his security credentials throughout his campaign, which won him a mandate for a second term in May. Just a few months later, on Aug. 5, the BJP delivered on another of its campaign talking points: repealing a constitutional clause that had granted some autonomies to Kashmir and introducing a bill to divide the area into two federal territories under direct control of the federal government.”

Egypt

Al Jazeera: Egypt's El-Sisi Says Position On Qatar 'Unchanged'

“Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said the position of the Saudi-led bloc on relations with Qatar remains unchanged. "I affirm that nothing has changed," el-Sisi said in a reply to a question at the closing session of a youth forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Tuesday. "There are efforts being exerted and we hope this effort will succeed," he said, without giving further details. "We are talking about building confidence and healthy relations." Qatar has faced a blockade since June 2017 when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and trade ties with Doha. The four countries accuse Qatar of supporting "terrorism". Doha has denied the allegations and accused its neighbours of seeking to curtail its sovereignty. The blockading nations have demanded that Qatar cease interactions with their rival Iran, shut down Al Jazeera Media Network, and close a Turkish military base.”

Africa

The New Arab: DR Congo Freezes Assets Of Hezbollah-Linked 'Bread King'

“The Democratic Republic Congo said on Tuesday it had frozen the assets of a Lebanese businessman dubbed the Bread King after Washington accused him of financing Hezbollah. But fearing disruption of bread supplies, the government will allow his businesses to open new bank accounts under supervision, government spokesman Jolino Makelele told a press briefing. The US sanctions target Saleh Assi, who is based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a compatriot, Nazem Said Ahmad, a Lebanon-based diamond dealer and art collector. In a statement last Friday, the US Treasury Department accused the pair of being "money launderers" who had generated "tens of millions of dollars for Hezbollah, its financiers, and their malign activities". Assi's assets and those of "all of his businesses" will be frozen, along with "all transactions from these accounts", Makelele said after a special cabinet meeting.”

The Africa Report: How To Predict Where Terrorists Find New Recruits

“Extensive research exists about the causes and complexities that surround security challenges on the continent. What’s proven difficult is creating real-world solutions based on this literature. For example, we know that economic inequality is an important indicator for identifying areas that are, or could become, vulnerable to conflict. However, it’s unclear how to translate this insight into actionable plans for prevention and protection. The key to connecting what we know, with what we can do, lies in new technology.  Now, geospatial data, combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), can be used to understand population characteristics at a granular level. This means it’s possible to target human-centric indicators that influence security, such as employment levels, access to services, and education for any country, region, or neighbourhood. This information can be combined with other data inputs, such as the locations of recent violent outbreaks by extremist groups. The game-changing impact of this technology is best illustrated with an example: In 2017, UNDP published a ground-breaking report entitled “Journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives, and the Tipping Point for Recruitment.”

United Kingdom

Daily Mail: Threat Of Extremism Is RISING In Britain As Number Of People 'At Risk Of Radicalisation' Hits Highest Level Ever

“The Home Office today claimed potential far-right terrorists now outnumber jihadists in the UK - despite Islamists murdering significantly more people on British soil. The government’s controversial £40million anti-radicalisation scheme Prevent says in the past year it has had more referrals for right-wing extremism cases than people with jihadi sympathies - the first time in history. In the Home Office's annual report on the programme 561 people were found to be at 'risk of radicalisation' with 254 holding far-right views and 210 as suspected Islamists. But despite these claims jihadis have been responsible for significantly more deaths on Britain's streets than far-right extremists in recent years. In the past three years there have been two murders carried out by far-right terrorists in Britain - the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by neo-Nazi Thomas Mair in 2016 and Darren Osborne's killing of a Muslim man outside the Finsbury Park mosque in 2017. But in the same period jihadis have murdered 64 and injured 212 others in horrific attacks in Westminster, at the Manchester Arena and twice on London Bridge. And in the 12 months to September 2019, 224 people were arrested on suspicion of terror offences in the UK - and three out of four of them held Islamist-extremist views. Experts believe the increase in far-right referrals to Prevent could be skewed by increased sharing and posting of far-Right material online or via messaging services such as WhatsApp - rather genuine plots to murder and maim.”

Germany

The Jerusalem Post: German Parliament Approves Initiative Calling For Hezbollah Ban

“The German Bundestag approved a non-binding initiative calling on the government to ban activities of the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah in the federal republic on Thursday. Two other Bundestag initiatives concerning Hezbollah were rejected. The initiative revealed that the number of Hezbollah operatives is increasing. According to the resolution titled “Effective action against Hezbollah" reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, “the followers of [Hezbollah] are around 1,000 people in Germany since a number of years and have showed recently a rising trend.” According to German intelligence reports, there are as many as 1,050 documented Hezbollah members and 30 mosques and centers operated by Hezbollah supporters. “In Germany there are currently about 30 known cultural and mosque associations in which a clientele regularly meets that is close to Hezbollah or its ideology,” the city-state of Hamburg’s intelligence agency stated in 2019. The Bundestag anti-Hezbollah resolution states that Germany’s federal Attorney General in 2018 has launched 36 investigations into individuals linked to Hezbollah.”

The National: Germany Ramps Up Fight Against Far-Right Extremism In Its Military

“Germany is to expand efforts to rid its public services of far-right supporters after fascist sympathisers were found to be worryingly prevalent in the military and police. It is part of an overhaul of its approach to far-right extremism by employing hundreds more dedicated officials in the wake of several high-profile incidents in the last year. Interior minister Horst Seehofer said some 600 new police and intelligence positions are to be created, adding that recent “terrible isolated incidents” have shaken Germany’s confidence. “This is a very big challenge for the internal security of Germany,” he said. The move will not affect efforts against other sorts of crimes such as Islamist extremism. “The fight against right-wing extremism should have been given this priority earlier,” said Mr Seehofer. “That is also true.” He referenced an October attack on a synagogue in the city of Halle where two people were killed and the murder in June of a politician who had welcomed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pro-refugee policy. “I'll never forget a young citizen in Halle calling through the silence that 'you all can't protect us,’” Mr Seehofer told a press conference. “As a consequence of Halle, we want to confirm to the public: Many steps are being taken.”

Southeast Asia

The New York Times: Indonesia Police Question Suspected Islamic Militants Arrested In Papua

“Indonesian anti-terrorism officers are interrogating eight suspected Islamic militants arrested in the province of Papua on suspicion that they were planning an attack, a police spokesman said on Wednesday. The arrest was a “pre-emptive strike” by the anti-terrorism squad earlier this month in several locations in Papua, National Police spokesman Asep Adi Saputra said in Jakarta. The suspects have been transferred to Jakarta for questioning, he said. They were suspected of having links to the Islamic State-inspired Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which has carried out a series of attacks in Indonesia.Police said the arrests were made after officers had conduced surveillance of meetings between the suspects, as well as training and preparation for suspected attacks. “Their target and their plan is currently being investigated,” Saputra said. Separately, Papua police chief Paulus Waterpauw said on Tuesday the suspects were part of JAD networks on the Indonesian island of Sumatra that had moved to Jayapura, the provincial capital of Papua. He said the arrest prompted police in Papau to heighten security in the area, especially before the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Indonesia is predominantly Muslim but some areas, particularly in the east, including Papua, have Christian majorities.”

Technology

The Wall Street Journal: EU Legal Opinion On Facebook Case Spells Trouble For Data Transfers

“U.S. companies face potential disruptions in how they handle European users’ information, after an adviser to the European Union’s top court argued that privacy regulators should stop data transfers to countries that force companies to break the bloc’s privacy laws. In a nonbinding opinion, Henrik Saugmandsgaard Øe, an advocate general for the EU’s Court of Justice, said judges shouldn’t strike down EU-approved contractual clauses that companies use to comply with EU privacy laws overseas, offering relief for businesses and trade groups. But Mr. Saugmandsgaard Øe then said data-protection authorities should be obligated to block data transfers when companies can’t comply with those clauses. That could haunt U.S. tech companies because the case stems from concerns over whether their obligations under U.S. surveillance laws violate EU privacy protections. The main plaintiff in the case, privacy activist Max Schrems, has argued that Facebook Inc.  shouldn’t be allowed to transfer its users’ data to the U.S., because it could be turned over under secret government requests.”

International Business Times: ISIS Now Uses Blockchain To Spread Propaganda, Utilizes Bcm Messenger's 'Supergroups'

“The use of blockchain isn't limited to serving companies and organizations that benefit from the distributed digital ledger. Nefarious activities stem out of blockchain because of the technology's inherent capability to mask the identities of those behind transactions. While terror funding and cryptocurrencies are nothing new since terror groups are increasingly turning to digital assets amid traditional channels being blockaded by sanctions, ISIS is reported to have been taking more careful measures to secure the confidentiality in spreading their propaganda. According to VICE, the terrorist group is leveraging a blockchain messaging app called BCM, which stands for “Because Communication Matters,” to get their message across their network of supporters. The app sits perfectly in accommodating the needs of the terrorist organization as it boasts the capability of creating supergroups that could hold up to 100,000 users. Aside from this, BCM's end-to-end encryption on group chats would mean that no one in the server can access the messages. And it makes sense for ISIS to take an alternate route from using Telegram, especially since the cloud-based instant messaging app is clamping down on terror-related content.”