Eye on Extremism: December 4

The Washington Post: Hezbollah Member Gets 40 Years For Scouting Possible Sites For Terrorist Attacks In New York

“A naturalized U.S. citizen who was a member of the Lebanese Hezbollah militia was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison Tuesday for gathering intelligence on potential sites for terrorist attacks in New York City. Ali Kourani, a 35-year-old native of Lebanon, was the first member of the Islamic Jihad Organization, an arm of Hezbollah, to be convicted and sentenced in the United States, prosecutors said at the hearing in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Kourani was already under investigation when he sought out the FBI in 2017 and offered to work as an informant in support of the bureau’s counterterrorism efforts, but prosecutors said he misled investigators. A jury convicted Kourani on several terrorism counts in May after an eight-day trial. The court was told he was part of the IJO’s efforts to scout possible vulnerabilities at various sites, including John F. Kennedy International Airport, a military armory in Harlem and the federal building in Lower Manhattan, which houses a day-care center in addition to 7,000 federal employees and 30 agencies. Kourani also tried to procure weapons and went to China to find chemicals that could be used to make explosives, prosecutors said.” 

BBC News: London Bridge: Usman Khan Completed Untested Rehabilitation Scheme

“Khan, who was convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012, killed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, on Friday. He had completed two rehabilitation schemes during the eight years he spent in prison and following his release. The government says such programmes are kept "under constant review". Three others were injured after Khan launched the attack at a prisoner rehabilitation event inside Fishmongers' Hall near London Bridge. Inquests into the deaths of Mr Merritt and Ms Jones will be opened and adjourned at the Old Bailey on Wednesday. During his time in prison, Khan completed a course for people convicted of extremism offences and after his release went on a scheme to address the root causes of terrorism. The first course Khan went on, the Healthy Identity Intervention Programme, was piloted from 2010 and is now the main rehabilitation scheme for prisoners convicted of offences linked to extremism.”

The Jerusalem Post: ISIS Leader Baghdadi's Deputy Arrested By Iraqi Forces

“Iraqi security forces have arrested a man said to have been former ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's deputy chief during an operation in the Kirkuk Governorate north of Baghdad, according to Al-Arabiya. Pictures of the captured leader were published on the Iraqi “Security Media Cell's” Twitter which added that the ISIS deputy leader was found with a false identification card. “A unit from the Hawija police in the province of Kirkuk has arrested the terrorist known as ‘Abu Khaldoun’ inside one of the apartments in the March 1 area,” said the Iraqi statement. “He was carrying a false identity card under the name of Shaalan Obeid. This criminal worked as a deputy under al-Baghdadi and was previously the so-called military prince of the province of Salah al-Din.” Baghdadi, an Iraqi jihadist who rose from obscurity to declare himself “caliph” of all Muslims as the leader of Islamic State, died by detonating a suicide vest as he fled into a dead-end tunnel as elite US special forces closed in. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of US Central Command, said Baghdadi brought two young children into the tunnel with him - not three, as had been the US government estimate. Both children were believed to be under the age of 12 and both were killed, he said.”

The Washington Post: Iran Is Brutally Suppressing Popular Dissent. The World Is Watching. 

“As Iran guns down protesters at home, it’s also waging a global campaign of suppression against dissidents in the United States and other countries. Iran’s attacks on critics abroad have been brazen. In recent months, anti-regime activists have been kidnapped, murdered and harassed, according to news reports and interviews with activists. The FBI and security agencies in Europe are monitoring these assaults. Images from inside Iran of the spreading protests have gone viral on the Internet, including sometimes gruesome pictures of those killed in the streets. Amnesty International counts more than 140 dead since the unrest began Nov. 15 because of public anger over a hike in gas prices. Sources in Iran told the New York Times that more than 200 have been killed, 1,900 injured and 7,000 arrested. “As the existential threats to the regime grow, it will employ every manner of violence to eliminate their perceived enemies. It is the one skill Iran has successfully mastered,” says Roya Hakakian, whose book “Assassins of the Turquoise Palace” documented Iranian murder of dissidents abroad.”

VICE: The Russian Social Network Letting ISIS Back Online

“When Europol announced last week that it had effectively dismantled the Islamic State’s main online network, a number of experts warned that the group would simply move to another platform. It only took five days for ISIS to prove them right. On November 30, an account on the unknown Russian messaging app TamTam claimed credit for the London Bridge attack in which two people were stabbed to death by 28-year-old terrorist Usman Khan. That account is linked to ISIS’s Nashir news agency. TamTam is virtually unknown outside of Russia, but over the space of just a few days, thousands of accounts and channels dedicated to spreading ISIS propaganda appeared, spewing out thousands of messages in the space of a few hours. “There was extreme activity on TamTam,” Pieter Van Ostaeyen, a member of the board of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, told VICE News.”

Chicago Tribune: Chicago Police Again Go Undercover On Facebook To Bust Groups Selling Guns — And Again Accuse The Website Of Not Cooperating

“Chicago police on Tuesday announced their latest arrests for illegally selling guns and drugs through private Facebook groups — and again complained that the social media platform has not been cooperating with the department’s ongoing undercover investigation. “Facebook claims to monitor these groups, but CPD detectives have labeled these private hidden sites as a version of the dark web that’s more accessible for everyday users,” First Deputy Superintendent Anthony Riccio said at a news conference. Officers infiltrated seven Facebook groups recently and made 147 undercover purchases, he said. A total of 65 people were identified in the groups, 53 of them now in custody and two being sought in arrest warrants. Police seized four handguns, two shotguns, a high-powered rifle and 23 types of narcotics. The groups are not searchable or visible like public ones on Facebook. A user already in a secret group must invite another user to join.”

United States

The Washington Post: California Man Now ‘Highest-Ranking’ American Fighting Alongside Al-Shabab Terrorists, FBI Says

“Federal investigators are re-upping a $5 million reward related to the capture of a 37-year-old man on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List whom it called “the highest-ranking U.S. citizen fighting overseas with a terrorist organization.” The award for information leading to the arrest of Jehad Serwan Mostafa, formerly of San Diego, came as federal prosecutors announced new charges related to his alleged “critical role” in supporting the Somalia-based Islamic terrorism organization, al-Shabab, according to a federal indictment unsealed Monday. The new charges expand on three similar counts Mostafa faces from a 2009 indictment and includes his alleged activities in support of al-Shabab that took place between March 2008 to February 2017. The FBI did not detail the new charges, but FBI Special Agent Erin Westfall in a statement broadly described Mostafa’s role with the extremist group, which has sought to overthrow the Somali government and impose al-Shabab’s strict version of Islamic law. “Over the past decade, Mostafa has held positions within al Shabab’s explosives department, media wing, and training camps,” Westfall said. “We believe he will continue to play an active role in terrorist acts that al Shabaab commits until he is stopped.”

Iran

CNN: Fresh Intelligence Points To Iranian Threat Against US Forces And Interests In Middle East, Officials Say

“There is fresh intelligence of a potential Iranian threat against US forces and interests in the Middle East, according to several US defense and administration officials. "There has been consistent intelligence in the last several weeks," one administration official told CNN. A second official described it as information that has been gathered throughout November. The information is being gathered by military and intelligence agencies. The officials would not say in what format the intelligence exists. But in the last several weeks there has been movement of Iranian forces and weapons that the US worries could be put in place for a potential attack, if one is ordered by the Iranian regime, the officials said. It's not clear if a potential threat would come from the central government or Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The head of US military operations in the Middle East recently signaled the US expects some kind of Iranian action in response to the US sanctions and pressure campaign that is trying to get the regime to abandon its nuclear program. "I would expect that if we look at the past three or four months, it's possible they will do something that is irresponsible.”

The Washington Post: Families Say More Pressure Is Needed To Free Relatives Imprisoned In Iran 

“The families of three Americans and a British citizen imprisoned in Iran urged the U.S. government on Tuesday to apply more pressure on the Islamic republic for activities directly related to what they characterized as a hostage-taking industry. The relatives said that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran has not been sufficient in the cases of their loved ones, who have spent years behind bars in Tehran on charges their governments consider baseless. Richard Ratcliffe, whose Iranian British wife, Nazanin, has been held for more than three years, called for new sanctions targeting anyone involved in wrongfully imprisoning foreigners. Most U.S. sanctions are imposed for activity related to other issues, such as terrorism, missile testing or nuclear activity. “There is a new hostage crisis,” Ratcliffe said, describing a new wave of arrests by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. “And other countries are watching. They are looking closely — if a bad actor can get away with it, well then, why can’t we too?”

Iraq

I24 News: Five Rockets Hit Base Hosting US Troops In Iraq

“Five rockets hit the Ain al-Asad base in western Iraq hosting US troops, the Iraqi military said in a statement on Tuesday. No casualties were reported, and no further details were available immediately. Previously, US Vice President Mike Pence visited the base, located in the Iraqi province of Anbar, in late November for Thanksgiving to bolster the morale of the US servicemen. He also spoke to Iraq's Prime Minister Mahdi, who filed his resignation this weekend, to discuss the Iranian threat and the ongoing protests in the country. Anbar, which borders the restive Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, has been relatively quiet in terms of protests, with most of the unrest happening in Iraq's south and in its capital of Baghdad. The Anbar province was key in fighting the al-Qaeda presence in the country in the wake of the US operation against Saddam Hussein. A major hotbed in the subsequent action against al-Qaeda's fighetrs in Iraq, in late 2006 it saw the birth of the so-called Anbar Awakening - a local movement led by Sunni tribal sheikhs who turned against the terrorist group.”

Turkey 

Reuters: Macron Says Time For Turkey To Clarify Ambiguous Stance On Islamic State

“French President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey on Tuesday of working with Islamic State proxies and said Ankara’s ambiguity toward the group was detrimental to its NATO allies fighting in Syria and Iraq. Relations between Macron and Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan have soured ahead of Wednesday’s NATO summit in London with the two leaders trading barbs over Ankara’s cross-border offensive in northeast Syria targeting Kurdish militias. Speaking alongside U.S. President Donald Trump, Macron directly linked Turkey to Islamic State fighters, while dismissing Trump’s concerns that Paris was not bringing home French Islamic State fighters held by Kurdish groups in Syria. “The common enemy today is the terrorist groups. I’m sorry to say, we don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table,” Macron told reporters. “When I look at Turkey they are fighting against those who fought with us shoulder to shoulder against ISIS (Islamic State) and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies.” Turkey has threatened to block a plan to defend Baltic states and Poland against Russian attacks unless the alliance backs Ankara in recognizing the Kurdish YPG militia as a terrorist group.”

NPR: Turkey And NATO Members Face Off Over Kurdish Fighters In Syria

“Turkey threatens to hold up NATO's work unless it labels the Kurdish fighters in Syria who sided with the U.S. in the war against ISIS as terrorists. The West says they are an ally against terror.”

U.S. News & World Report: 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.”  

Afghanistan

Associated Press: Official: Japanese Doctor Dies After Attack In Afghanistan 

“A Japanese physician and aid worker in eastern Afghanistan died of his wounds after an attack Wednesday that also killed five Afghans, including the doctor’s bodyguards, the driver and a passenger, a hospital spokesman said. The attack in Nangarhar province targeted Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura as he was heading to the provincial capital, Jalalabad, according to the provincial governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani. Nakamura was seriously wounded and was reported to be in critical condition immediately after the attack. He underwent surgery at a local hospital but died of his wounds shortly after, while being airlifted to the Bagram airfield hospital in the capital, Kabul, said Gulzada Sanger, the hospital spokesman. Nakamura had headed the Japanese charity, Peace Medical Service, in Nangarhar since 2008. He came to Afghanistan after a Japanese colleague, Kazuya Ito, was abducted and killed. In April, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani granted Nakamura honorary citizenship of Afghanistan. Ghani’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, condemned the attack that killed Nakamura, calling it a “heinous act and a cowardly attack on one of Afghanistan’s greatest friends.” 

Deutsche Welle: Germany Insists Afghan Government Must Be Involved In Taliban Talks

“German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer told a news conference in Kabul on Tuesday that the Afghan government should not be left out of efforts to forge peace with Taliban insurgents. “We believe that peace talks, and a peace agreement, should also include Afghan politicians and leaders,” she said. The German minister, who is also the leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU), made the comments alongside Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the second day of her visit to Afghanistan. The Taliban have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, which they do not recognize. Instead, the Islamist group has been mediating with US officials.  US President Donald Trump broke off the Taliban talks in September after an uptick in attacks and the death of a US soldier. But last week he announced the talks had resumed. Kramp-Karrenbauer told reporters that Berlin and Kabul both wanted the same thing, namely for people in Afghanistan to live in peace and safety. She also expressed hope that the outcome of Afghanistan's presidential election would soon be announced, adding that a strong Afghan government would be better positioned to lead peace talks.”

Yemen

Gulf News: 217 Civilians Killed By Al Houthi Militants In Hodeida Since Ceasefire

“Some 217 civilians have been killed and 2,152 others injured by Yemen’s Iran-allied Al Houthi militia in the port city of Hodeida since a UN-brokered ceasefire came into force there nearly a year ago, a Yemeni report has said. The casualties have been the result of Al Houthi breaches including shelling attacks on residential areas and landmines they have planted on roads as well as plantations in the western city, a media centre linked to the pro-government forces Giants’ Brigades added, according to Saudi television Al Arabiya. Most casualties were women and children. “A year has passed since the futile UN truce was sealed, adding to the suffering of Hodeida’s people,” the centre said. “The truce has provided no protection to them against aggression and criminality of the Houthi militias,” it added. Al Houthis seized Hodeida in late 2014 when they overran parts of Yemen, plunging the impoverished country in a ruinous war. Hodeida is strategically important because of its key port through which most Yemen’s imports and aid enter.”

Lebanon 

Asharq Al-Awsat: Lebanon’s Hezbollah Joins Search For New Iraq PM As UN Slams Protest Violence

“Lebanon’s Hezbollah party has joined the search for a new Iraqi prime minister following the resignation of Adel Abdul Mahdi last week. An Iraqi informed source revealed on Tuesday that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Hezbollah official, responsible about the Iraqi file, Mohammad Kawtharany have joined negotiations to find Abdul Mahdi’s replacement. “Soleimani is in Baghdad to push for a particular candidate to succeed Abdel Mahdi,” the source told Agence France Press, without providing details. Kawtharany, who is Hezbollah’s pointman on Iraq, “is also playing a large role in persuading Shiite and Sunni political forces on this,” the source added. Meanwhile, in New York, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said Iraq is at a crossroads that cannot be resolved by “buying time with band-aid solutions and coercive measures.” In a briefing to the Security Council, she stressed that without full accountability and justice, “it will be nearly impossible to convince the people that political leaders are sincerely willing to engage in substantial.” She called on Iraqis to build a sovereign, stable, inclusive and prosperous country: “Now is the time to act. The great hopes of so many Iraqis call for bold, forward thinking,” she said.”

Nigeria 

The Punch Nigeria: How Boko Haram Has Evolved Over The Years

“Last month marked 11 years since Mohammed Yusuf, founder of Boko Haram, died in police detention. His death led to the radicalisation of the sect and a declaration of Jihad against the Nigerian state. In an earlier paper on the sect, I argued that before 2009, its operations were more or less peaceful, but that it was radicalised in 2009 after a confrontation with Nigerian security agencies. The police cracked down on the group setting off an armed uprising in Bauchi State. Opinions differ on the reasons for the government clampdown. But some believe that the government intervened based on intelligence that the group was arming itself. The crackdown led to an uprising that soon spread to other parts of northeastern Nigeria and 800 members of the group were killed by the Nigerian security services. Yusuf was arrested during this period but died in police detention. The police claimed that he died while trying to escape. Yusuf’s successor, Abubakar Shekau, vowed to exact revenge on the Nigerian government. A violent campaign against the state was launched. A year later in 2010, Shekau sought to make it a Jihad against Christians.”

Africa

Voice Of America: Cameroon Says 250 Ex-Militants Surrendered In 2019

“Cameroon says over 250 former militants, including Boko Haram terrorists and anglophone separatists, have surrendered in the past year and are being rehabilitated. But former rebels say lack of trust in Cameroon’s military is preventing more militants from dropping their weapons. A group of six former militants clean a pig farm at the Bamenda center of the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation Committee. The committee says, in the last year, 130 anglophone rebels and 122 Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered for reintegration. Besides raising pigs and chickens, the center’s residents – all former insurgents - also learn tailoring, carpentry, and how to grow vegetables. Among those tending to the pigs is a 22-year-old who, for security reasons, we’ll call Ngumulah. He said many of his former comrades fighting for an independent, English-speaking state in Cameroon’s western regions are tired after three years of battles and are ready to surrender, as he did. “The fighters want to come, but they are afraid that the military would arrest them. Like my own case, when I went to surrender without guns, I was locked up for two months. Many fighters do not trust the military.”  

North Korea

Associated Press: Kim Again Rides Horse Up Sacred Peak As Nuke Deadline Nears 

“North Korean leader Kim Jong Un rode a white horse up a sacred mountain on his second symbolic visit in less than two months, state media reported Wednesday, as his country is threatening provocation if the United States refuses to make concessions in nuclear diplomacy by year’s end. The Korean Central News Agency released many photos showing Kim taking a horse riding to snow-covered Mount Paektu along with his wife and other top lieutenants, all on white horses. Kim also climbed the mountain, the highest peak on the Korean Peninsula, on horseback in mid-October. Mount Paektu and white horses are symbols associated with the Kim family’s dynastic rule. Kim has made previous visits there before making major decisions. Kim said that “we should always live and work in the offensive spirit of Paektu,” according to KCNA. “The imperialists and class enemies make a more frantic attempt to undermine the ideological, revolutionary and class positions of our party.” On Monday, Kim visited Samjiyon county at the foot of Mount Paektu to attend a ceremony marking the completion of work that has transformed the town to “an epitome of modern civilization,” KCNA said. It said the town has a museum on the Kim family, a ski slope, cultural centers, a school, a hospital and factories.”

United Kingdom

New York Post: London Bridge Attack: Lukasz Koczocik Stabbed 5 Times, Still Fought Usman Khan 

“One of the heroes who battled the London Bridge attacker was knifed five times — but still battled the terrorist “until the end,” according to a new report. Lukasz Koczocik, a worker at the Fishmongers Hall, where Cambridge University was hosting a prison rehabilitation conference Friday, was cleaning glasses in the basement when he heard people screaming — and ran into the fray, the Telegraph reported. Media reports initially indicated that Koczocik was the man seen in photos battling attacker Usman Khan with a narwhal tusk on the London Bridge, but that was, in fact, another person, the Independent reported. But his role was similarly heroic, according to Fishmongers’ Hall chief executive Toby Williamson. “The scream was so loud that as a first aider, he makes a choice,” Williamson told “BBC Breakfast” Monday. “He goes toward the trouble. Lukasz gets there on the first floor of the building just behind me and it’s pretty clear that there’s a bad guy.” “Khan’s got two knives in his hands, there’s blood, there’s screams, there’s chaos,” Williamson continued. “Lukasz pulls off the wall this long stick, he charges towards the bad guy and he impacts him on the chest, and there’s clearly something here that is protective, and it doesn’t make any sort of impact.”

The Guardian: The London Bridge Attack Must Not Stop Our Vital Work To Tackle Terrorism

“I was working at Fishmongers’ Hall on Friday at the conference attacked by Usman Khan. Those in attendance were dedicated, talented people, including some convicted of offences, who believe in the power of education and the value of collaboration. The title of the project we were celebrating was Learning Together – a programme where prisoners and those in higher education study alongside each other. As would be expected, I am still in shock. I find it difficult to breathe properly when I see the photographs of those killed, Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, two beautiful individuals who were simply trying to make our world a better place. The Learning Together initiative was a positive, transformative experience for prisoners and ex‑prisoners. I am now, according to an email I have received from the police, a victim of terrorism. Reading helps me to piece together at least some of what happened, but I am sickened by the Islamophobic responses online. Terrorism and hateful extremism is not Islam. As an immigrant from Christchurch, New Zealand, I immediately think of the victims of other terrorist attacks, when white supremacist Brenton Tarrant killed 51 people as they worshipped peacefully in a mosque.”

Germany 

NPR: German Special Forces Officer To Be Suspended Over Ties To Right-Wing Extremism

“The German military will suspend an officer of its elite special forces unit after an investigation linked him to right-wing extremism. Two other soldiers are facing punishment for allegedly performing a Nazi salute at a party at the officer's home. The unnamed officer, who served multiple tours in Afghanistan, has been covertly investigated for months, according to a report in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. He will be barred from service this week, Deutsche Welle reports. The German special forces, known as the Kommando Spezialkrafte, are responsible for antiterrorism missions and hostage rescue operations overseas. Some 20 members of the elite unit are being investigated for ties to right-wing elements, according to Christof Gramm, the head of the Military Counterintelligence Service. Earlier this year, the service disclosed that it was investigating 450 suspected cases throughout the military. Making the Nazi salute is illegal in Germany, as is using other Nazi symbols. In the latest incidents, one of the soldiers accused of making the salute has been suspended from the military; the other is still under investigation. A trial is upcoming for a German army officer who was arrested in April 2017 for allegedly plotting a far-right terror attack while posing as a Syrian refugee.”  

Europe

Asharq Al-Awsat: Albanians Beg For Return Of ISIS Youngsters

“After media interest helped mobilize the evacuation of an Albanian boy from northern Syria last month, families of other children of ISIS fighters are pleading with Tirana to redouble its efforts and bring the rest home. Alvin Berisha, an 11-year-old Albanian boy from Italy, was rescued from a Kurdish-run prison camp in Syria in November after a popular Italian TV show whipped up support for his plight. The boy's homecoming has also opened a ray of hope for other families in Albania who have been struggling for years to bring back youth snatched by their militant parents. “I am happy for him but I am anxious for my two children who are still there in the middle of this hell,” says Mide Dumani, a 46-year-old mother who lives on the outskirts of Tirana, her entire body shaking with nerves. Her children are among around 30 Albanian youngsters that Tirana believes are stuck in Syria. Most are in the dusty Al-Hol encampment, a tent city home to more than 70,000 people, mostly relatives of ISIS militants, who were rounded up by Kurds. Dumani has not seen her two children since her husband ferried them off to Syria in February 2014. He was killed a few months later, leaving Eva and Endri, now aged 13 and 11, to fend for their own.”

East Asia 

The Wall Street Journal: China Threatens Retaliation Over Proposed U.S. Sanctions

“China said it would retaliate if the U.S. presses forward with sanctions over Beijing’s repression of Uighur Muslims—Washington’s second stand on China human rights in recent days, with trade talks facing uncertainty. After the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring sanctions on officials responsible for the widespread detention of Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang region, Beijing issued furious statements Wednesday calling it interference with China’s internal affairs under the pretext of human rights. The bill must be reconciled with a version passed by the Senate in September before it can become law. “If you undermine China’s interests, you will be hit back,” China Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at Wednesday’s daily news conference. She accused the U.S. of trying to foment unrest in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and compared it with U.S. policy in Afghanistan. President Trump last week drew protests from Beijing when he signed a bill supporting Hong Kong’s antigovernment protesters.”

Al Jazeera: Anger In China As US House Passes Uighur Crackdown Bill

“China reacted angrily after the US House of Representatives passed a bill requiring the Trump administration to toughen its response to Xinjiang, where the more than one million Muslims, mostly ethnic Uighurs, are being held in "re-education" camps. In a statement released shortly after the Uighur Act of 2019 was passed, China's foreign ministry on Wednesday condemned the move saying the bill "wantonly smears China's efforts to eliminate and combat extremism". The United States's lower house voted to back the bill 407 to one in a vote on Tuesday. It has still to be approved by the Senate before it can be sent to President Donald Trump. The White House has yet to say whether Trump would sign or veto it. "We urge the US to immediately correct its mistake, to stop the above bill on Xinjiang from becoming law, to stop using Xinjiang as a way to interfere in China's domestic affairs," said the statement, attributed to the ministry's spokeswoman, Hua Chunying.” 

Reuters: 'Anti-Terrorism Drills' With Dogs Conducted Ahead Of Tokyo 2020 Games

“Japanese officials undertook ‘anti-terrorism’ drills involving dogs trained to detect suspicious items, including explosives, at Tokyo Station on Wednesday as they ramp up security preparations for next year’s Olympic Games. During the drill, specially trained Labrador and Beagle dogs sniffed commuters near ticket barriers as officials attempt to balance the need for security whilst not causing too much disruption to the capital’s busy transport system. Nearly 20 million people use public transport daily in the greater Tokyo area, home to more than 35 million people. An estimated 600,000 additional people are expected to come to the city during Games’ time, meaning both security and efficient transport are concerns for local officials. Wednesday’s drills follow similar test conducted at another Tokyo subway station in March. At separate tests, body scanners have also been introduced to detect hazardous objects hidden in clothing, according to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry (MLIT). “This is a new project conducted for Tokyo 2020,” the ministry’s railway chief Hidenoby Nomoto told reporters on Wednesday. “Considering the result of this experiment test, we would like to analyze the fluidity of travelers, or how the customers felt.”

Latin America

The Straits Times: Bolivia Unveils Anti-Terror Unit To Fight 'Threatening' Foreign Groups 

“Bolivia's interim government on Tuesday (Dec 3) unveiled a new anti-terrorism police force it said was aimed at dismantling foreign groups “threatening” the troubled South American country. “This anti-terrorist group has a mission of dismantling absolutely all the terrorist cells that are threatening our homeland,” Interior Minister Arturo Murillo said during an official ceremony to present the 60-strong force. Mr Murillo reviewed the ranks of masked, black-clad troops that make up the new force, called the GAT, at the ceremony in La Paz. The minister said the state had to act to “free Bolivia from these narcoterrorists who have settled in the country in the last 14 years” - a pointed reference to ex-president Evo Morales' term in office. Mr Morales resigned on November 10 amid swelling protests over what political opponents said was his rigging of October 20 elections. He fled to Mexico the following day after losing the support of the military and police, claiming to be the victim of a coup. Mr Morales wrote on Twitter that “the coup plotters who attacked power in Bolivia are now inventing incredible stories to blame others for the terror that they themselves are imposing from the state.” “The only terrorist plan they are carrying out is theirs, with blood and fire against all Bolivians.” 

Australia  

ABC News Australia: AFP Arrest Alleged Sydney Islamic State Recruiter Over Radicalisation Of Teenagers

“Federal police have arrested a 21-year-old Sydney man they allege was an Islamic State (IS) recruiter who tried to radicalise teenagers into carrying out politically motivated violence. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said the Riverwood man is expected to be charged with several terrorism offences, which carried a potential life sentence if he was to be found guilty. AFP Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said the Australian-born man was connected to other individuals who have been charged with terrorism offences, but would not disclose who they were. He said the man “created and posted increasingly extremist material on social media, including supporting martyrdom”. The AFP said the man also downloaded a “document on basic weapons and tactics”, which included how to use knives and other blunt instruments during a terrorist attack. Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney said there was no imminent threat or attacks planned. (ABC News) “It will be further alleged he actively attempted to influence teenagers to adopt and act upon his extremist views,” Assistant Commissioner McCartney said. “It was fair to say there was a continuum of radicalisation … to the point of encouraging politically-motivated violence.”