Eye on Extremism: December 3

NBC News: San Diego-Raised Man Now Leading Terrorists In Africa, Officials Say

“A man raised in San Diego has become a leader of one of Africa’s deadliest terror groups and the highest-ranking U.S. citizen fighting with foreign terrorists, federal authorities said Monday. Prosecutors in California disclosed the allegations against Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 37, by unsealing an indictment accusing him of providing critical support to the East African terror group al-Shabab. Mostafa was indicted in 2009 on similar crimes, but he has remained at large — even after a $5 million reward for his arrest and conviction was offered, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California said in a news release. The charges announced Monday allege that he now plays a critical role in al-Shabab, which promotes an Islamic state and has killed thousands of people since its founding in 2006. One of the group’s deadliest attacks targeted the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya that killed 60 people in 2013. Earlier this year, the group claimed responsibility for killing 21 people in an attack on a hotel in Kenya's capital, Nairobi.”

Daily Mail: Hate Preacher Anjem Choudary ‘To Have His Release From Jail Reviewed’ After Links Emerged Between Him And London Bridge Killer Usman Khan

“Hate preacher Anjem Choudary is set to be subjected to even tighter controls after he was pictured in the capital today for the first time since Friday's murderous rampage by Usman Khan. Khan had previously called the Islamist cleric a 'personal friend' and it is believed that Choudary's licencing conditions are currently under review by the authorities. Choudary, 52, was pictured in east London wearing an ankle tag after his disciple Usman Khan butchered two in a murderous rampage on Friday. The government is now cracking down on 67 jihadi terrorists who have been freed and who are already living in the community, with police visiting them over the coming days to establish if their conditions have been breached. The Telegraph reported that counter terrorism police across the country are now in a race against time to lock up those who have already embedded themselves in local communities up and down the country. Speaking to the publication, government sources said: 'We need to look at his whole licencing because we need to make sure vulnerable people are not going to be radicalised by him.'”

The Washington Post: Separate Airstrikes By Ankara And Damascus Kill At Least 20 In Northwestern Syria

“Airstrikes hit marketplaces in two rebel-held towns in northwestern Syria on Monday, killing at least 10 civilians and injuring dozens, a civil defense group in Syria’s Idlib province said. The attacks marked what could be the start of a new push by Syrian government forces to retake one of the few remaining bastions held by rebels, contributing to one of the bloodiest days for Syrians in the area in months. Hours after the Idlib attacks, an airstrike by Turkish forces occupying part of northern Syria hit the nearby Kurdish-held town of Tal Rifaat, also killing 10 civilians, mostly children, a spokesman for a Kurdish-led military group said. The Idlib attack comes amid renewed fighting around the final rebel bastion in northwestern Syria that is crammed with civilians displaced from elsewhere in the country and hardened radical Islamist fighters. In the past week, the Syrian army has been slowly pushing into the territory, recapturing villages and inflicting dozens of casualties. Footage released by the civilian rescue team known as the White Helmets showed pools of blood staining the ground in front of piles of onions and lettuce at a market in the town of Maaret al-Numan. Civil defense members carried bloodied bodies away from the site of the airstrike.”

Voice Of America: Terror Attack Has Britons Questioning De-Radicalization Effort

“When Usman Khan left prison last December after serving half of a 16-year sentence for his part in a plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange, and for planning to establish a terror training camp in Pakistan, he was thought to be making good progress towards being de-radicalized and was seen as a poster boy for Britain’s rehabilitation programs. Cambridge University, which ran one of the programs Khan attended, was even considering offering him a place to study. But now following 28-year-old’s dramatic knife attack Friday on London Bridge during a university-sponsored justice event, which left two people dead and three seriously injured, the early release of convicted terrorists, as well as de-radicalization programs, are coming under immediate scrutiny amid accusations that militants are gaming the rehabilitation system and hoodwinking authorities. Some criminal justice experts say Khan played the rehabilitation system cleverly to secure his release and to lull his probation officers into allowing him to travel unsupervised from his home in the English county of Staffordshire to London for the justice event, where he killed two rehabilitation tutors, 25-year-old Jack Merritt and 23-year-old Saskia Jones.”

National Review: Iran’s Multi-Front War Against America And Its Allies 

“Two days before Thanksgiving, as President Donald Trump was preparing his surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif phoned Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah and met with a delegation from the Taliban. The object of both discussions was to pressure U.S. and its allies: Zarif told the Taliban representatives that Iran wants a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and offered al-Nakhalah Iran’s full support for PIJ’s “valiant resistance” against Israel. Iran’s decisions to push the Palestinians to fight Israel and to encourage the Taliban are part of a regional policy that seeks to evict the U.S. from the Middle East and stir up trouble for Washington worldwide. This is Tehran’s answer to the “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions that the Trump administration has mounted since pulling the U.S. out of President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal in May 2018. Iran fought its multi-front war against the U.S. in multiple ways. In the Persian Gulf, it twice struck at foreign oil tankers over the summer, shot down a high-tech U.S. drone in late June, and launched drone and cruise-missile attacks on key Saudi oil facilities in September. It is also seeking to use its terrorist proxies in the Gaza Strip to provoke Israel into a wider regional war. In the fall of 2018, Israel accused Iran of ordering PIJ to attack from Gaza.”

The Wall Street Journal: Iran, Cut Off From Vital Cash Reserves, Is Approaching Economic Peril, U.S. Says

“While Iran’s sanction-battered economy has sparked protests across the nation, U.S. officials cite new intelligence suggesting Tehran’s finances are more dire than previously thought and are bringing it closer to a financial crisis. Tehran’s sophisticated sanction-evasion efforts have offset some of the losses from plummeting oil exports due to global U.S. sanctions pressure. But according to new U.S. financial intelligence, the government is scraping the barrel on foreign-exchange reserves, a critical indicator of the country’s ability to control economic forces and to import equipment and supplies. That shortfall, combined with the oil drop-off and a widening trade deficit, puts Iran in even greater economic duress than in 2013, when the government of President Hassan Rouhani was pressured into starting official nuclear negotiations with global powers, U.S. officials say. The state of Iran’s economy is clouded by unknowns, as the country’s economic statistics aren’t always considered reliable or transparent, and intelligence from U.S. allies indicate Iran’s government may have sufficient amounts of off-book income to ease its shortfall.”

United States

CNN: FBI Offers $5 Million To Find US Citizen On Most Wanted Terrorist List

“The Federal Bureau of Investigations is offering $5 million for information that leads to the arrest of an American citizen on the agency's Most Wanted Terrorist List. An indictment unsealed in federal court on Monday accuses Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 37, of providing material support to al-Shabaab, which the US has designated a terrorist organization for its activities to undermine the Somali government. “We believe this defendant is the highest-ranking U.S. citizen fighting overseas with a terrorist organization,” US Attorney for the Southern District of California Robert Brewer said in a news release Monday. “Al-Shabaab's reign of terror threatens U.S. national security, our international allies and innocent civilians. Today we seek the public's assistance in capturing Mostafa and disrupting Al-Shabaab.” Mostafa -- also known as “Ahmed Gurey,” “Ahmed,” “Anwar,” “Abu Anwar al Muhajir,” and “Abu Abdallah al Muhajir” -- was formerly a resident of San Diego, but is currently believed to be in Somalia, according to San Diego special-agent-in-charge Scott Brunner. He has been linked to the use of Improvised Explosive Devices in attacks in Somalia, according to the release.”

Reuters: Trump Administration Lifts Hold On Lebanon Security Aid

“U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has lifted a mysterious “hold” on more than $100 million in security aid for Lebanon, congressional and State Department officials said, more than a month after lawmakers learned the funds were being blocked. As first reported by Reuters, the U.S. State Department told Congress on Oct. 31 that the White House budget office (OMB) and National Security Council had decided to withhold $105 million in foreign military assistance, without providing any explanation. As lawmakers demanded answers from the administration about why the aid had been withheld, some compared it with a similar decision from the administration to withhold nearly $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine that also had been approved by Congress. That decision has been at the center of an impeachment inquiry into Trump.”

The Daily Beast: San Diego Man Is Now A Terrorist Leader In East Africa, Say Prosecutors

“A U.S. citizen who was raised in San Diego has become a leader of one of Africa’s deadliest terror groups, federal authorities said Monday. Jehad Serwan Mostafa, 37, is now believed to be the highest-ranking U.S. citizen fighting with foreign terrorists. Prosecutors in California disclosed the allegations by unsealing an indictment accusing the man of providing support to the notorious East African terror group al-Shabab. He was indicted in 2009 on similar crimes, but has not been captured even after a $5 million reward for his arrest and conviction was offered. The new charges allege that he now plays a leading role in al-Shabab—an Islamist terror group that has been accused of killing thousands of people since its founding in 2006. Authorities say Mostafa grew up in the Serra Mesa area of San Diego, where he attended high school and college. He traveled to Yemen 14 years ago and is now believed to be based in Somalia. NBC News reports he’s accused of helping train soldiers, working in media operations, and helping lead the group’s explosives department.”

Los Angeles Times: Memorial In San Bernardino Marks Four Years Since Terrorist Attack

“The more than 1,400 days since Yvette Velasco died at the hands of two terrorists in the San Bernardino attack hasn’t buffered the grief for the family she left behind. They said it’s actually worse. Every time there’s another mass tragedy, Velasco’s mother and sister say they live through the pain again. When Velasco’s mother, Marie, watched news coverage of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., and the shooting at a Walmart in El Paso in August, she heard of other mothers searching for their children, only to learn they were killed. That mentally transports her back to where she was four years ago, she said. “When you hear parents on TV saying, ‘I can’t find my kid,’ I know what that felt like,” she said. “We know that nightmare because we’ve lived it. It’s indescribable.” There are ways to cope with the pain even though it is permanent, the family said. On Monday, the four-year anniversary of when Velasco and 13 others were killed, Cal State San Bernardino held a memorial for the victims. Speaking before the crowd, Velasco’s sister, Erica Porteous, said these moments help her family though hard times. “For our family, not a day goes by that we don’t feel the loss,” Porteous said. “But this brings us comfort.” On Dec. 2, 2015, a San Bernardino County employee and his wife marched into an office holiday party at the Inland Regional Center; they were clad in black and armed with assault rifles and pistols. They killed 14 people and injured 22 others. Authorities killed them in a shootout.”

Idaho Statesman: Idaho Man Sentenced To 15 Years In Prison For Sending Police A Terrorism Threat

“A Canyon County judge on Monday ordered 22-year-old Grant Stevenson to serve 15 years in prison after making sarin gas threats in Nampa in March, authorities reported. Third Judicial District Judge Davis VanderVelde sentenced Stevenson to three years of fixed time in prison, meaning he must serve three years in prison before he could be eligible for parole, after Stevenson pleaded guilty to felony terrorism, according to online court records. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors dismissed Stevenson’s additional charges of felony use of weapons of mass destruction and two misdemeanor charges of use of a telephone to harass, threaten or annoy. Police said they initially learned of the threat in a message on social media, and they were forced to ask a Nampa neighborhood to shelter in place for about six hours. The probable cause affidavit in his case reported that as a teenager in 2013, Stevenson was arrested for making bomb threats to Skyview High School, Caldwell High School and Kuna High School. He served some time in juvenile detention for the threats. According to the affidavit, Stevenson sent a Facebook message to Nampa Police Department in March, saying some Nampa apartments “have a bomb planted in one of many units” and the bomb contains “deadly sarin gas” that he threatened to detonate within one hour.”

Syria

NPR: Kurds In Syria Make A Deal With Russia

“Kurds in Syria have been U.S. allies but now they're making a deal with Russia. Russian flags are flying in Kurdish territory, a sign that the Kurds want a hedge in case the U.S. pulls out. MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: America's allies in the fight against ISIS, the Kurds in Syria, have opened the door to a new friend - Russia. Russian troops and flags moved into Kurdish territory over the weekend. That's a part of Syria where U.S. troops also work with the Kurds. After months of mixed signals from the Trump administration, the Kurds seem to be hedging their bets on continued U.S. support.”

Reuters: Syrian Air Strikes On Idlib Markets Kill At Least 11: Civil Defense

“Syrian government air strikes on the rebel-held area of Idlib killed at least 11 people and wounded dozens on Monday after hitting two outdoor markets, Syrian civil defense forces said. Syria’s northwestern corner, including the Idlib region, is the last major chunk of territory still in rebel hands after more than eight years of war. The air strikes hit a fruit and vegetable market in Maaret al-Numan, south of Idlib, and a second produce market in Saraqib to the east, according to the White Helmets, a civil defense and rescue group operating in rebel areas of Syria. Photos and videos posted by the group on Twitter showed victims being carried away from demolished produce stands and charred vehicles. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met an envoy to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss the situation in Idlib and attacks launched by militant groups based there, according to a tweet from Syria’s presidency. There was no mention of the air strikes on Syrian state media. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, put the number of those killed in the attack at 15. It said separately that Russian air strikes had targeted a prison in Idlib, causing casualties and prisoners to flee. It did not provide specific figures.”

Al Monitor: Report: China, Russia Worried About Militants' Return From Syria

“Both China and Russia are concerned that thousands of citizens who left to fight with terror organizations in Syria could return home to stoke radicalization, a congressionally appointed panel said in a report. The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s report indicates that Beijing in particular is worried that an influx of fighters returning home from the Syrian battlefield could sow insurgent activity along critical stretches of planned Chinese infrastructure investment. The report said the prospect of radicalization among members of the Muslim Uighur minority in the Xinjiang region “is of particular concern to the Chinese government because the region is a crucial hub” for China's Belt and Road Initiative, which has used railway, port, and construction investments to woo Middle Eastern nations. The initiative has stoked concerns at the Pentagon about threats to American military technology. Chinese officials have claimed that up to 5,000 Uighurs are fighting in Syria, according to the report, but those figures have not been verified by American government agencies or independent experts, who indicate the actual number of foreign fighters may be lower.”

Iran

The Hill: Iranian Protests Were Not About The Price Of Gas

“Anyone who thinks that the recent protests in 100 cities throughout Iran were about gas prices did not pay attention to what the protesters were saying. The immediate spark that led to the Arab Spring was the 2010 self-immolation of a Tunisian fruit vendor, but the Arab Spring revolution was not about Tunisian citizens’ ability to obtain permits to sell fruit. Likewise, this unrest in Iran was not about the price of gas. Iranian protesters (and rioters) chanting “No to Gaza, no to Lebanon!” “Leave Syria and think of us,” and even “Death to Palestine!” indicates that something much larger than the price of gas drove their outrage. Forty years after the Islamic Revolution, substantial numbers of Iranians are finally rejecting the priorities of their masters. When Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini consolidated power in Iran for himself in 1979, he risked being accused of a sin that Islamists of all stripes object to in any non-Sharia government — “making partners with Allah,” something specifically prohibited by the Koran (see 3:64, 12:40 and 42:41, for example). This accusation is especially relevant to democracies. As Abu al-Ali al-Mawdudi, founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the first Islamist organizations, put it: “Democracy is the deification of man.” Or, as current al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri put it: “Democracies raise up gods, establish masters and assign partners to Allah Most High.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Iranian Drones: New Terrorism

“During the inauguration of the fourth year of the Saudi Shura Council, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, confirmed that, thanks to the military forces, the ballistic and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia did not impact development and the lives of the people. Rockets are well established and understood weapons, but it is the use of drones, a more novel tool, which is frightening. Drones, because they are relatively easy to build at a limited cost, are creating a kind of strategic imbalance in battlefields around the world. So how are we to characterize this distressing development? Several studies trace the origin of drones back to the First World War, when the English tried to fly them in an effort to reduce casualties. The Americans developed the aircraft further during the Second World War, using them to watch over enemy naval vessels. Drone technology was developed further still during the Vietnam War in order to launch surprise attacks with minimal casualties. It was natural for Israel to obtain such aircraft at the time it was waging wars with the Arab world and when it needed to monitor the occupied territories. Since the 1970s and until this day, drones have become a global concern, especially after terrorist groups managed to obtain these aircraft that bring death from the air.”

Iraq

The National: Tribal Fighters Secure ISIS Prisons Amid Chaos In Southern Iraq

“Southern Iraqi tribal fighters are posted around a prison where ISIS detainees are being held, over fears that the chaos of mass rallies could be used to free the militants, clan elders say. Tribal sheikh Natham Rumayad claimed unidentified “infiltrators” were entering the Nasiriyah area, which has been rocked by a crackdown on demonstrations in recent days. Sheikh Rumayad said tribal militias set up checkpoints on the major roads towards the city of Nasiriyah to check those entering the area and were guarding Al Hoot prison. “We have communication with the police commanders and security commanders in the province,” he told The National. “We heard that there are movements of infiltrators towards the police centres and Al Hoot prison where terrorists are imprisoned. Therefore tribal sheikhs decided to help secure the security situation.” Sheikh Rumayad did not specify who the “infiltrators” were but said some were sparking much of the violence at recent protests. Baghdad and southern Iraq have been rocked by weeks of demonstrations against corruption and poor public services, which led on Sunday to Parliament accepting prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi’s resignation two days earlier.”

Turkey 

Reuters: Turkey To Oppose NATO Plan If It Fails To Recognize Terrorism Threats: Erdogan 

“Turkey will oppose NATO’s plan for the defense of Baltic countries if the alliance does not recognize groups that Turkey deems terrorists, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday, ahead of a NATO alliance summit in London. Relations between Turkey and its NATO allies have been strained over a host of issues, ranging from Ankara’s decision to procure Russian air defense systems to Syria policy. Several NATO members condemned Turkey’s decision to launch an offensive into northeastern Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia. Ankara has refused to back a NATO defense plan for the Baltics and Poland until it receives more support for its battle with the YPG, which it views as a terrorist organization. Ahead of his departure from Ankara for the NATO summit, Erdogan said he had spoken to Polish President Andrzej Duda on the phone on Monday and had agreed to meet with him and leaders of Baltic countries in London to discuss the issue. “With pleasure, we can come together and discuss these issues there as well,” he said. “But if our friends at NATO do not recognize as terrorist organizations those we consider terrorist organizations ... we will stand against any step that will be taken there.”

Asharq Al-Awsat: Turkey Deported 21 ISIS Terrorists Since November 11

“Turkish authorities announced they have sent 21 ISIS terrorists back to their countries since Ankara began its deportation operations on November 11. The number of foreign terrorists in Turkish deportation centers dropped to 938, announced a source at the Turkish Interior Ministry. Thirteen of the deported terrorists were German, Belgians, Dutch, Danish, British, American and Irish nationals. The Ministry stressed in a statement that deportations will continue. On Friday, it announced the deportation of two Belgian ISIS sisters. Fatima Ben Meziane, 24, fled the Ain Issa camp in October during the Turkish military operation against Kurdish factions in northeastern Syria last month. Meziane managed to enter Turkish territory with the help of smugglers and was arrested as soon as she arrived in Kelis, on the border with Syria. Rahma Ben Meziane, her sister, 31, managed to flee the al-Hol displacement camp during the Turkish offensive. Belgian authorities announced the arrest of the two citizens upon their arrival in the capital Brussels from Turkey. Turkish authorities plan to deport 11 members of the terrorist organization to France in the next few days.”

Afghanistan

Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. Troop Drawdowns In Afghanistan 'Not Necessarily' Tied To Taliban Deal - Esper

“U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday that any future troop drawdowns in Afghanistan were “not necessarily” linked to a deal with Taliban insurgents, suggesting some lowering of force levels may happen irrespective of the ongoing peace push. The remarks by Esper in an interview with Reuters came on the heels of a Thanksgiving trip last week to Afghanistan by President Donald Trump, who spoke of potential troop reductions and said he believed the Taliban insurgency would agree to a ceasefire in the 18-year-old war. If honored by all sides, a ceasefire could lead to a significant reduction in violence. But U.S. military commanders would still focus on the threats associated with two other militant groups in Afghanistan: Islamic State and al Qaeda. Speaking as he flew to London for a NATO summit, Esper said the Trump administration had been discussing potential reductions in troop levels for some time, both internally and with NATO allies. “I feel confident that we could reduce our numbers in Afghanistan and still ensure that place doesn’t become a safe haven for terrorists who could attack the United States,” Esper said, without offering a figure. “And our allies agree we can make reductions as well.”

Foreign Policy: Hurdles Remain For Renewed Afghan Peace Talks

“Both the Taliban and the Afghan government appeared caught off guard by U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement during a Thanksgiving Day visit to Afghanistan—his first since taking office—that the Taliban was ready to agree to a cease-fire deal. But the insurgent group responded quickly, with a spokesman saying on Friday that they were “ready to restart the talks.” Trump abruptly canceled peace talks with the Taliban in September, but the surprise comments and the group’s positive response have raised hopes once more for a long-elusive peace deal to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan. The development comes a week after a prisoner swap between Washington and Kabul suggested the Taliban was still eager for a deal. Cautious optimism. It’s not yet clear if the renewed discussions will lead to peace. Key disputes still need to be resolved, including the Taliban’s refusal to talk directly with the Afghan government. And, contrary to what Trump said last week, there are no signs the Taliban is ready for a cease-fire—a condition has long been a sticking point for the insurgent group, which primarily uses violence as leverage. Election uncertainty. Adding to the uncertainty is that the country is still awaiting the results of the presidential election in September amid charges of widespread irregularities.”

Xinhua: 2 Intelligence Officials Killed In Terrorist's Ambush In Afghan Capital

“Two Afghan intelligence agency employees were killed and three others wounded when gunmen opened fire on a vehicle here on Monday, an official said. The incident happened at about 7:00 a.m. local time in the Police District 9 in Jalalabad Road in eastern side of national capital, where a vehicle belonging to the National Directorate of Security came under attack by unidentified gunmen, a security source told Xinhua. Spokesman of the Ministry of Interior Nasrat Rahimi, when approached by Xinhua, confirmed the incident, saying an investigation into the case was still on. “No one has so far been arrested in connection to the case but police launched an investigation into the incident,” said the spokesman. Over the past months, big Afghan cities have witnessed a spate of terror attacks by the Taliban insurgents and Islamic State (IS) outfit opposing the government. On Nov. 25, a U.S. citizen working for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) was killed and five civilians, including two Afghan staff members of UNAMA, were wounded when a grenade attack hit an UN-marked vehicle in the same district.”

Middle East

Gulf News: ‘Qatar Has Failed To Honour Obligations’

“The UAE and Saudi Arabia on Monday accused Qatar at the UN high court of failing to honour its obligations amid a two-year diplomatic spat locking a Saudi-led bloc and Doha. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, which in 2017 severed diplomatic and transportation links with Qatar over its support for terrorism, say the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) does not have the jurisdiction to handle an aviation dispute with Doha. The four countries have banned flights from Qatar that accuse them of discrimination against its citizens. UAE Ambassador to the Netherlands Hissa Al Otaiba defended the quartet’s measures against Qatar in an appeal against an ICAO decision at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. “These measures, including the closure of the airspace to the Qatari planes and those registered in Qatar were aimed at protecting national security of these countries and in response to Doha’s failure to honour its legal obligations,” Ambassador Al Otaiba told the court, according to a statement from the UAE Foreign Ministry on Monday.”

Foreign Affairs: This Is Your Brain On Terrorism

“In September 2014, when the Islamic State (ISIS) was at the height of its power, Director of U.S. National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that the United States had underestimated the terrorist group’s will to fight. “We underestimated the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese and overestimated the will of the South Vietnamese,” he told The Washington Post. “In this case, we underestimated ISI[S] and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army … It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is an imponderable.” Scholars and policymakers have long sought to determine what drives people to keep fighting when the chips are down, and, if need be, to give their lives to a cause. Traditional explanations, based on rational choice theory or focused on mental abnormalities, have largely failed to explain what motivates the members of extremist insurgent movements. But Clapper was wrong to suggest that the will to fight is imponderable. In fact, it is possible to predict who is willing to fight and die, based on a combination of cultural and psychosocial factors. Research on the human brain suggests that people fight when their sacred values—that is, the values that define their identity and therefore can’t be compromised—are under threat.”

Egypt

Middle East Monitor: Egypt Says Qatar Supported Muslim Brotherhood

“Egypt has cut ties with Qatar as a result of the Gulf state’s “support to terror groups [Muslim Brotherhood],” Egyptian representative at the International Court of Justice said yesterday. “Qatar has been holding a hostile stance against Egypt by supporting terror operation in the Sinai Peninsula,” Amgad Abdel Ghaffar pointed out, adding that Doha was “promoting the doctrine of Al-Qaeda and Daesh.” Responding to what he described as “Doha’s interference in Egypt’s internal affairs,” Abdel Ghaffar stressed that his country had repeatedly rejected the Qatari move. “Qatar has left Egypt no choice but to cut ties,” he reiterated, pointing out that its interference was “threatening Egypt’s national security.” “All the region’s countries were affected by the Qatari interference in their internal affairs,” the Egyptian official noted, explaining that, in 2013, Qatar’s Al-Jazeera TV channel was promoting what he described as “hatred and violence across Egyptians.”

Libya

The Wall Street Journal: Don’t Let Russia Dominate Libya

“American interests are under attack in Libya, whether we realize it or not. Adversaries and allies alike are attempting to install a dictator. In doing so, they’re undermining U.S. credibility and challenging American leadership of the international order. Hundreds—maybe thousands—of Russian mercenaries joined the battle for Tripoli, Libya’s capital, this fall, fighting alongside aspiring strongman Khalifa Haftar. Russia’s primary interest isn’t Libya, but the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. President Vladimir Putin interpreted the Arab Spring, and particularly the NATO intervention that led to the death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, as Western threats to the survival of his autocratic regime. His interventions in Syria and now Libya are attempts to shore up faltering strongmen. Mr. Putin wants to put a new Gadhafi in power to show that revolutions are doomed to fail and that he, not the U.S. or NATO, is an effective power broker in the region. Mr. Putin aims to undermine America’s post-Cold War leadership of the international order by casting the West as hypocritical and building an alliance system of like-minded autocrats.”

Nigeria

News 24: Four Soldiers 'Killed By Boko Haram' At Lake Chad Base

“Suspected Boko Haram jihadists killed four Chadian troops early on Monday in a newly established military outpost on Lake Chad, the military and local officials said. Boko Haram has training camps on several of the islands that dot the vast, shallow Lake Chad, which straddles the borders of Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon as well as Chad. “We killed 13 Boko Haram elements and we deplore the loss of four soldiers,” a military source said, adding that three soldiers were injured in the attack at around 1:00 am Monday local time. Nouki Charfadine, the governor of the Lake Chad region, also confirmed the toll. “We set up this military post between Ngouboua and Bagassoula village after the kidnapping” of a doctor, a nurse and their driver in the area on October 31, the governor said. Five villagers were also killed in the area in the middle of November. The jihadist insurgency, which broke out in northeastern Nigeria a decade ago, has spilled over into neighbouring countries. In 2015, the Lake Chad countries, together with Benin, set up a combined force to fight Boko Haram with the help of local groups of armed citizens.”

All Africa: Nigeria: 'Nigerian Military Not Recruiting Boko Haram Ex-Fighters'

“The Defence Headquarters has debunked reports that it was recruiting Boko Haram ex- fighters into the Nigerian military, insisting that such reports were false. According to a statement signed by Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu, the claims was not true and there was no such plans in the offing by the military. He noted that the de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration program which was ongoing was a Federal Government program conducted under the auspices of Operation Safe Corridor as a non- kinetic operation. According to him, over 250 repentant insurgents who willingly abandoned their struggle and surrendered to federal troops have been de-radicalized, rehabilitated and re-integrated into the society by their respective state governments in conjunction with traditional and religious institutions. Nwachukwu explained that Nigeria's de-radicalization model was not new in the global community, as such model exists in Algeria, Colombia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, where persons involved in violent extremism have been de-radicalized and rehabilitated hence the process was an internationally acceptable practice.”

Africa

Bloomberg: Burkina Faso Seeks Safeguard For Gold Sector Against Militants 

“Burkina Faso is facing a challenge on how to protect its gold industry against a wave of jihadist violence that last month left scores of mining employees dead in a single attack. While every mine has security arrangements in place, with sites generally safe, there’s no easy solution to protect access roads, Minister of Mines and Quarries Oumarou Idani said in a phone interview Monday. “There are mines that have even built their own barracks and where we’ve sent security forces so those sites are secure,” Idani said. For access routes, “the security is linked to the overall security of the country. It is much more difficult.” At least 39 people were killed in an Islamist militant attack on a bus convoy that was heading for Semafo Inc.’s Boungou operation in eastern Burkina Faso. The Nov. 6 raid came as several West African countries battle a widening insurgency and at a time when gold producers and prospectors are pouring money into the region as prices rally. Prior to the attack, the government forecast gold output to reach 60 tons in 2019, up from almost 53 tons last year. Gold mining accounts for about 10% of gross domestic product in the nation that also produces cotton. Perenti Global Ltd., whose African Mining Services unit is a contractor of Semafo, has withdrawn its employees from the Boungou site and will also stop supplying services at an operation of Nord Gold SE, according to a regulatory filing on Monday.”

United Kingdom 

The Guardian: Prisons Put Terrorists On Waiting List To Receive Help To Deradicalise

“Convicted terrorists are having to be put on waiting lists for the main government-backed programme that will turn them away from violent extremism, an expert has revealed. Prof Andrew Silke has studied the efforts to deradicalise those jailed for terrorism offences and his claim comes as debate rages following Friday’s attack at London Bridge in which two people were killed. The fallout from the attack by Usman Khan has triggered investigations by counter-terrorism investigators and a series of searches by police at properties linked to the attacker in Stafford and Stoke. Those searches which began after Friday’s attack have now ended, police said, as the investigation into Khan, released half way through a conviction for a terrorist plot, continues. The attack at an event on prisoner rehabilitation has also refocused attention on whether those convicted of terrorism offences can be safely released. Silke, professor of terrorism, risk and resilience at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, has been into prisons to study deradicalisation and is one of the UK’s leading experts in the field.”

ABC News: Vigils Held For Victims Of London Bridge Terror Attack 

“Dozens of people gathered in central London on Monday morning to pay tribute to the victims of a terror attack that unfolded near London Bridge on Friday. Jack Merritt, 25, of Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, and Saskia Jones, 23, of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, were stabbed to death while attending a prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday afternoon, according to London's Metropolitan Police Service. Merritt and Jones were both graduates of the University of Cambridge and were involved in the school's Learning Together program, which had organized the conference. Flowers and letters have been placed at the scene of the attack near the iconic bridge, with one note reading, “I love you forever. I am so proud of you.” Merritt's family described him as a “beautiful, talented boy” who “died doing what he loved, surrounded by people he loved and who loved him.” “Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog,” his family said in a statement Sunday. “Jack was an intelligent, thoughtful and empathetic person who was looking forward to building a future with his girlfriend, Leanne, and making a career helping people in the criminal justice system.”

USA Today: British Leaders Mourn Victims, Clash Over Terrorism Ahead Of Trump Visit

“A vigil honoring victims of a London Bridge terror attack that killed two people drew thousands of mourners Monday amid controversy over a criminal justice system drawing blame for the carnage. The vigil in the British capital took place the same day President Donald Trump and other world leaders flew to the city for a NATO summit that opens Tuesday. Authorities, however, have revealed no link between Friday's knife attack and the summit being hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The 28-year-old attacker also wounded three people before being fatally shot by police. He was an extremist convicted in 2012 for his part in a failed, al Qaeda-inspired plot to bomb the U.S. Embassy in London along with the London Stock Exchange and Britain's Parliament. He was released a year ago. Killed Friday were Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, graduates of the University of Cambridge who were taking part in a criminal justice system educational program. The attack brought back grim memories from 2017, when three militants crashed a van into pedestrians along London Bridge, then attacked bystanders. Eight people were killed and dozens injured. “The best way to defeat this hatred is not by turning on one another, but it's by focusing on the values that bind us,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the crowd.”

Washington Examiner: ISIS Associate Of London Bridge Attacker Arrested 

“An associate of the man who killed two people in a brutal terrorist knife attack on the London Bridge was arrested on Saturday to prevent an apparent copycat attack. Nazam Hussain, 34, was involved in a terrorist Islamic State cell along with Usam Khan, whose Friday knife attack ended in his death by police gunfire. Both men were jailed along with others in 2012 after being charged with plotting to attack several high-profile targets in London, including the stock exchange and Westminster Abbey. Both men faced long sentences for their crimes, though they were released early as part of a policy in the United Kingdom for prisoners. Khan was part of a post-release prison education seminar the same day he violently and suddenly attacked pedestrians on the London Bridge. Police in Stoke-on-Trent in the West Midlands arrested Hussain after a search of his home left them suspicious that he was planning a similar attack to that of Khan's. Police asserted, however, that there was no indication Hussain was involved in the planning or execution of Khan's attack. Six of the nine members of the terrorist cell that Khan and Hussain were involved in have been released from prison after being convicted in 2012. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that 74 convicted terrorists have been given early release following the removal of the Extended Sentence for Public Protection.”

France

New Europe: France To Put 20 Suspects On Trial For 2015 Paris Terror Attacks

“French prosecutors formally charged 20 suspects over the massacre of 131 people in Paris, four years ago, when 10 heavily armed gunmen and suicide bombers attacked during a football match at the Stade de France, the Bataclan concern hall and bars and restaurants across the city. In a 562-page indictment released on November 29, the office of the national anti-terror prosecutor (PNAT) requested that 14 people currently in prison or under judicial supervision and other six who are currently targeted by arrest warrants, stand trial for their involvement in the November 15 assaults. Among those charged are Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving suspect believed to have actively taken part in the attacks and Fabien and Jean-Michel Clain, propagandists for the Islamic State armed group, which claimed responsibility for the killings, while the rest cited in the indictment are accused of helping organise or fund the attacks. Since 2015, France has suffered a vast wave of jihadist terror strikes that have cost the lives of over 250 people. In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron turned some provisions of the state of emergency into permanent laws, to provide the national police with enhanced powers in matters of Islamist terror threats.”

Germany 

YNet News: Report: Hezbollah Uses Germany As Operational Hub For Sponsoring Terror

“Hezbollah is using Germany as a major hub for its activities in Europe, Tagesspiegel newspaper reported Friday, citing security sources. The German news outlet said that Hezbollah's operations in Europe included drug trafficking, with the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg serving as key entry points in the EU. The group also allegedly engages in money laundering, recruitment and fundraising, the newspaper says, with the revenues directed to Lebanon to fund attacks and arms procurement. Overall, some 1050 Hezbollah members and supporters are known to reside in Germany, the report says, with around 250 of them living in Berlin. About 30 mosques and cultural centers in the country are known to have ties with the group, it adds. While Hezbollah's military wing is banned in Germany as a terrorist organization, a complete ban on the group, a player in Lebanon's parliament is now only under consideration.”

Daily Mail: Germany Rocked After Elite Military Unit Officer Is Suspended For Being A Neo-Nazi And Two More Are Investigated

“A lieutenant colonel from Germany's elite military unit has been suspended from service on suspicion of far-right extremism.   Germany's defence minister has subsequently vowed to take 'decisive action' against any cases of radicalism in the army. 'We have drawn the first consequences in this case and we will continue to act with the same severity and impose the same consequences in every case,' Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said during a visit to Kosovo on Sunday. Bild am Sonntag newspaper said the army has been covertly investigating the special forces officer and two other soldiers and was prompted to take action against the man after its probe leaked.  The lieutenant colonel, known as Daniel K., is accused of making right-wing extremist posts on social media and has received a service and uniform ban. He is reportedly being investigated by the military's counterintelligence service MAD.  Of the other two suspects, one has been stripped of the right to wear a German army uniform while the other has been classed as a suspicious case. Both had allegedly made the banned Hitler salute during a private party hosted by the suspect who is to be suspended next week, according to the newspaper.”

Europe 

Bloomberg: Why Is Europe Bailing Out Iran’s Regime Now? 

“Iranians have been protesting their regime since last month. Only in the last few days, however, has the world begun to learn the full scope of the repression they face. There are the videos posted to social media and aggregated by news sites that show security forces firing on demonstrators. There are statements from leading Iranian opposition figures such as Mir Hossein Mousavi, one of the leaders of the 2009 uprising who has been under house arrest since 2011. There are headlines reading, “With Brutal Crackdown, Iran Is Convulsed by Worst Unrest in 40 Years.” There is the report from Amnesty International saying that at least 208 people have been killed. So it’s puzzling that America’s European allies chose last weekend to announce that six more countries are joining a bartering system, known as Instex, designed to evade the U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil. Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden announced Saturday they were joining France, Germany and the U.K.. “Do they think we don’t see what is happening in Iran?” asked Alireza Nader, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who is closely tracking the unrest. “To push Instex at this moment reveals a remarkable lack of attention to human rights. I hope they come to their senses.”

Technology 

CNN: Google And Facebook Run Into More Trouble Over Data In Europe

“Europe's top antitrust regulator is probing how Google and Facebook use data, putting the companies' huge advertising businesses in the spotlight once again. The European Commission said Monday that it has launched preliminary investigations into how Google (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) gather, process, use and monetize data for advertising purposes. Both companies have used what they know about people to build advertising businesses that generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. But how they use that data is becoming a major focus for regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition, has been particularly aggressive, voicing concerns that big tech companies may use their huge data stores to strangle upstart rivals. Vestager, who was given an expanded portfolio as EU digital czar in September, has already opened an investigation into whether Amazon's (AMZN) use of data from independent sellers violates competition rules.”

The New York Times: Sex Trafficking Via Facebook Sets Off A Lawyer’s Novel Crusade

“Tech has led to a lot of trouble lately: hate speech, financial scams, undermined elections. Yet tech companies have largely avoided legal consequences, thanks to a landmark 1996 law that protects them from lawsuits. Now that federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, has a new threat: Annie McAdams, a personal-injury lawyer in Houston. Ms. McAdams is waging a legal assault against Facebook and other tech companies, accusing them of facilitating the sex trafficking of minors. In a series of lawsuits in California, Georgia, Missouri and Texas, she is using a novel argument to challenge the 1996 law, and finding some early success. This year, a Texas judge has repeatedly denied Facebook’s motions to dismiss her lawsuits. Section 230 states that internet companies are not liable for what their users post. Ms. McAdams argues that, in the case of pimps using Facebook and Instagram to lure children into prostitution, separate laws require Facebook to warn users of that risk and do more to prevent it. “If you sell a lawn mower and the blade flies off and chops someone in the leg, you have the responsibility to fix it and warn people,” she said. “Nowhere else has an industry been afforded this luxury of protection from being held accountable for anything that they’ve caused.”